Calendar of events for Veterans in the community
A black church, a maladjusted white kid, and the nation moaning, "My God, not again." A few selected politicians, firm believers in the theory of 'never let a good crisis go to waste', exploited the tragedy to push for more gun control on law abiding citizens. Shame on them. Thankfully, the majority of politicians did the decent thing by grieving with the rest of the country and graciously keeping their mouths shut. Condolences and heart-felt words for the fallen were and always will be a proper and suitable way to express sympathy for a heartbreak such as Charleston.
Captain Wayne Waddell deemed his chances of survival slim to none as his F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bomber plummeted out of the skies near the Chinese border with North Vietnam. Perilously close to the ground, he ejected, the chute deployed, and Waddell hit the ground in less than three seconds. Evasion attempts failed. Captured and incarcerated, the Air Force pilot would remain a POW in North Vietnam for the next five years and eight months.
July 5, 1967: Near the North Vietnamese/Chinese border.
Excerpts from "Twelve Days in May" by Jerald W. Berry - May 6, 1970, LZ (Landing Zone) Fox, Binh Duong Province, Cambodia, with Company C, 3rd Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division.
Today is Flag Day. How many older generation Americans can remember the history of Old Glory? How many Americans will be cognizant that this Sunday is in fact Flag Day? How many educational institutions, self-proclaimed elitists, and politically correct activists will consider the mention of Flag Day as 'offensive' to the disenfranchised, the envious, or to foreign students?
December 23, 1944, Podington, England: Two of eight "Recommendation for Award" excerpts for Captain Raymond V. Clay, 92nd Bomb Group, 326th Bombardment Squadron, 8th Air Force.
"They fought together as brothers-in-arms. They died together and now sleep side by side. To them we have a solemn obligation."
We were young, invincible, and we knew the awful things would happen to the other guy. The war in Vietnam was nothing more than a stumbling block, something our country needed us to do before we continued on with our lives, our educations, marriages, raising rug rats, growing old with a sweetheart. Our tools of war were lethal and high tech, the best bombs and bullets taxpayer money could buy. Turn us loose, let us do what we were trained to do, and we will win this war then bring us home to a grateful nation.
Their military uniforms are packed away in a storage bin somewhere in a dusty attic, or perhaps hanging in the back room closet protected by a sheet of plastic, yet still discolored from years of disuse. Row upon row of multi-hued service ribbons are still pinned over the left breast pocket. Few, if any, of the veterans attempt to squeeze into their old threads of service since age and one too many chocolate donuts have taken a toll, yet these senior warriors continue to serve most honorably in so many different ways.
Habitually identified as the Splinter Fleet, the tiny 110 foot wood-hulled Sub Chasers of WWII held the title as the smallest commissioned ship in the US Navy. A Sub Chaser cruised at around 12 knots with flank speed no more than 20 knots. The more popular PT-Boats of McHales's Navy renown were only 80 feet in length and commonly hit 40 knots, but PT-Boats were commissioned collectively in squadrons, not individually.
Page 1 of 1
She is nationally recognized among lawyers as 'the' veteran's pension expert, yet eldercare attorney Victoria Collier concentrates most of her attention on the older generation.
The Montford Point Marines were all black, separated from white Marines in basic training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. These 'men of color' served their country in time of war yet most American businesses would not serve them. German POWs incarcerated on American soil during WWII were often shepherded to local towns for an American meal in an American restaurant. Any black soldiers on the guard detail would have to wait outside the American restaurant while the enemy POWs ate American food. The wacky parody of that American reality is too deep to fathom.
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.
"Then were there brought unto him little children; that he should put his hands on them and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus, said, 'Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.'"
I've been asked many times by readers and friends to relate my military experiences for "A Veteran's Story." Well, perhaps at a later date, but for now I'm delighted and honored to represent and convey the stories of my brothers and sisters. I will grant one personal narrative, a report on the best Veterans Day this old 'Nam vet has ever experienced.
September, 1970: I was finally home after 2½ years in Southeast Asia fighting a war our government had written off before I ever arrived in Vietnam. My skin still reeked of Southeast Asia, a musky scent no soap could lather off, but with enough time finally wore off. My mom and dad and a few relatives welcomed me home at Memphis International Airport and offered hugs and kisses and a few touchy-feely slights of hand to see if all my appendages were still intact. No Purple Hearts; didn't want any.
December, 1923, Atlanta: Jim Butler enters the world in an apartment house at the corner of Memorial Drive and Moreland Avenue. His dad maintained a job during the Great Depression so in Jim's words, "Our family did okay." Tech High School awarded Jim a diploma in the spring of '42. Hired by Rich's Department Store, he listened to the stories of a co-worker who had joined Navy aviation. Rather than be drafted as a ground-pounder, by September Jim had taken and passed his physical and mental tests for pilot training with the U.S. Navy.
This "Veteran's Story" is dedicated to all our veterans, to the men and women still in uniform, and to our fellow countrymen striving to grasp the true cost of freedom. Freedom never has been free, and the cost will be much higher for future generations.