This journalist is long overdue in expressing my appreciation to the staff and our two editors, Michelle Kim and Bryan Fazio, for their unwavering support of "A Veteran's Story." Likewise, the staunchest of unfaltering supporters is our publisher, Pat Cavanaugh. Pat has always been there for me, to encourage, to offer constructive criticism, to educate, to be a confidante, and occasionally suggest that perhaps I should be measured for a straight jacket along with recommendations for a padded cell.
Harriman, TN - 1966: As one of the eager seniors attending Career Day at Harriman High School, Howard Hendrickson gave the Army recruiter an opportunity to bend his ear. Howard stated, "He kept talking about how bad basic training could be so I didn't even think about joining up." Tech School for data processing seemed the better alternative. "I had the training," he said. "But the albatross around my neck was a draft card with a 1A classification. There wasn't a job in East Tennessee to be had."
Visualize growing up in Idaho to become a University of Idaho 'Vandal', then receiving a 2nd Lieutenant's commission from their Air Force ROTC program with high hopes of soaring even higher as a fighter pilot. Then imagine the disappointment when rejected for pilot training due to the damage you caused your own unprotected ears during repeated target practice with a pistol.
According to legend, in the year 1307 the bailiff/agent of the Hapsburg Duke of Austria placed a Hapsburg hat on a pole in the town square of the small village of Altdorf, Switzerland. Once the hat was in position, he demanded anyone walking by to uncover their hats before it. As a local hunter/farmer and his son passed by, the older man refused to obey the decree.
Intelligence school in Denver, CO was thought-provoking, complicated, and opened enigmatic doors I never thought existed. We mastered the art of dissemination; gained knowledge of codes; planned and plotted and analyzed envisioned missions; studied Soviet military equipment to master photographic interpretation; and were privy to a few top secret particulars that are now prehistoric. As Sun Tzu wrote 2,500 years ago in his military masterpiece The Art of War, "Know your enemy better than you know yourself."
"I celebrated my 95th birthday this September," Kathleen said proudly, then crooned in a robust voice, "Sometimes I grew weary and wearier, and life became dreary and drearier, but then I was told, 'you're not getting old, you're just chronologically superior.' And it's nice to be superior in at least one category, don't you think?" Kathleen Eidson, originally in Norwegian, Ejdson, shoulders superiority in the noblest category of all: a superior human being. She is also a United States Marine.
With administrative cauldrons overflowing with entrenched beliefs and colossal egos, politicians and military elites habitually consider military visionaries as nothing more than annoying burrs in expensive saddles. On today's technological battlefields adaptation arrives quicker due to the fast-paced changes in weapons and tactics. But things were quite different after World War One. Hyped as 'the war to end all wars,' the celebrated armistice actually set the stage for a dozen future conflicts, including World War Two. One persistent voice not only predicted the looming battle in the Pacific, but even specified the point in time at an anchorage called ...
August 7, 2012: Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shank, Logar Province in Afghanistan. She remembers a 'thump' followed by the sensation of a big hand picking up her body then squeezing the breath from her lungs. Hurled through the air, her body smashes against a blast wall, called an Alaska Wall by the U.S. Military. A water truck packed with 3,000 lbs. of explosives had just detonated 'inside the wire.' Major Patty "Mama Bear" Justice lies wounded and motionless, another casualty of another suicidal terrorist attack. She is 49 years old.
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A heart attack took the life of George H. Gay Jr. at a Marietta hospital on October 21, 1994. A resident of Kennesaw, Gay was a well-known hero of WWII. Now, as history books are rewritten and military icons are shunned by reformists, let us hope that Gay's story will remain an embodiment of the courage and sacrifice of a generation that saved a world from totalitarianism.
He sported a big elongated nose, a smooth bald head, beady eyes, and three to four fingers of each hand dangled over the imaginary line of an imaginary wall. A rather comical figure, yet pitifully ugly if symbolic of a real person, Kilroy quickly developed into one of the historic symbols of World War II.
Far from his wife and newborn, John Butler kept finding himself in the battlefield with one set of instructions: "Find the bastards, and pile on."
The cavalry still mount their steeds, but these horses are of a motorized breed. In Vietnam the mounts were named Loach, Huey, Cobra, Osage, Chinook, Mohawk and the superseded Raven (achieved recognition in three early James Bond films). These hi-tech mounts could saddle up more than just one soldier and the cavalrymen gripping the reins were some of the bravest of the brave in Southeast Asia.
Seventeen-year-old Macon native Ron Holmes received the displeasing news upon high school graduation in June of 1963 - his appointment to the Air Force Academy had been denied because of a new prerequisite that required uncorrected 20/20 vision.
"My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy. I confess I had no idea of it myself. While we shall see multiple instances of Europeans going to live in America, I will venture to say no man now living will ever witness an instance of an American removing to settle in Europe and continuing there."
A 1959 movie 'Pork Chop Hill' starring Gregory Peck depicted the costly 1953 battle for a rocky hill during the last year of the Korean War. Pork Chop Hill had, in fact, snuffed out numerous lives before 1953. This is the story of one survivor, born and raised in Rockdale County.
Taking the 'high ground' has been a basic military strategy since man started throwing rocks at each other. A force controlling the heights controls the battlefield, in combat as well as surveillance. American history was built on high ground, from graceful rises to gentle slopes, from ridges, cliffs and hills to lofty mountains.
Henry Lee Gaddis was 11 years old on Dec. 7, 1941. "I remember when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the president declared war on Japan," he said. "We moved from Cherokee County into Atlanta so my dad could work for a dairy. Everything was rationed, sugar, flour, gas … but we did okay."
White signifies purity and innocence; Red, hardiness and valor; and Blue, the justice, vigilance, and perseverance of the United States of America.
Throughout the course of nearly 250 years of American Military History, only 3,468 service personnel have received the decoration, 621 of them posthumously. The award is called the Medal of Honor.
The approval to commence the liberation of Europe rested entirely on his shoulders. For a brief moment in history, one man controlled the leash restraining an invasion fleet of 5,000 warships jam-packed with 170,000 Allied soldiers; many vessels were already at sea. Over 10,500 aircraft poised on runways all over England waited impatiently for the word "go." Tensions were high, morale at risk if another 'stand down' delay was issued.
Michael Barry Turner arrived in Vietnam on February 11, 1968, smack-dab in the middle of the largest Communist offensive of the war. The Tet Offensive kicked off on January 31 at the beginning of a mutually understood 'ceasefire' by the belligerents for the yearly Vietnamese celebration. This year, however, the Communists used the sabbatical as their launch date for a nationwide assault.
September of 1943: Will Weston with the 32 man crew of the wooden-hulled mine sweeper YMS-184 enters the Pacific Theater of Operations. The small ship is destined to participate in the most horrific battles of WWII.
Memorial Day is a special day, a day to reminisce, a time to mourn, and an occasion to praise the men and women that fought and died for our hard-earned freedoms. Originally dubbed Decoration Day to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War, the term 'Memorial Day' as we now know it was first used in 1882. Even more common after WWII, the expression became official by Federal law in 1967.