Flak blackens the sky; a kaleidoscope of anti-aircraft tracers swivel and coil around your aircraft, and you and your passengers are going down. A normal descent is 72 miles per hour, your landing speed 60 mph, at 49 mph your plane could stall, crash, and kill everyone aboard. Manufacturers with names like Ford Motor Company, Gibson Refrigerator, Ward Furniture, a piano manufacturer, Schlitz Brewing Company, a coffin company, and Anheuser-Busch built the aircraft in your 1,400 plane air armada. What could possibly go wrong?
Doctor David Almand opened his medical practice in Conyers when we both were still relatively young. Goodness, how time flies when you're having fun. Albeit, only recently did I find out his father, Frank Almand, was a World War II veteran who served in Europe. This is Frank's story.
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.
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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.
Fiasco correctly describes the unmitigated disgraceful conduct of the Veterans Administration unfolding before our very eyes on national television. Criminal neglect, criminal incompetence, criminal rationale and criminal bureaucrats dressed in business suits collected unearned bonuses after directly, or at best indirectly, causing the deaths of our sick and ailing veterans.
In 1938, where the Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama borders meet, the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) created a huge lake by closing the gates on a newly constructed Hydroelectric Plant called Pickwick Landing Dam. The inundated area covered 43,100 acres with 496 miles of shoreline. To do so, 506 families, 407 graves, and 70 miles of roads had to be relocated. The timber and farming town of Waterloo, Alabama was one of the communities basically flooded out of existence.
Throughout the written history of warfare, warriors have fallen victim to premonitions of danger or death. Julius Caesar hammered the last peg in his own coffin when he snubbed the soothsayer's warning, 'Beware, the Ides of March.' From contemporary clairvoyant caveats, soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have experienced the same foreboding as suggested by Caesar's unnerving fortuneteller.
She's a beautiful lady; sleek, imposing, up-to-the-minute Intelligence, compassionate and protective. Her sisters weigh about the same, a little over 104,000 tons, yet a Nutrisystem diet would trigger rebellion among her family. On a daily average the clan consumes 800 loaves of bread, 660 gallons of milk, 13,000 sodas, 180 dozen eggs, 800 pounds of fresh vegetables and 540 pounds of hamburger.
The seniors in our 1965 Bartlett High School class were archetypal of the era, anxious to graduate and make our mark in the world or take advantage of parental aspirations desiring their baby-boomer cherubs to earn another sheepskin at the college level. Vietnam was an obscure apprehension, except for a few senior boys that received an induction notice from Uncle Sam.
History refers to a particular confederation of GIs as veterans of "The Forgotten War," a war that tested the very best America could field, both experienced and untried.
After their youngest son, Hugh, had completed a few days in the first grade, Johnny and Ada Steele playfully asked if he'd found a girlfriend yet. The 6-year-old responded, "Yes, I have found the girl I'm going to marry. Her name is Dorothy Lassiter. Even if I wander the whole world over, I'll never find another one like her." In 1947, WWII veteran Hugh Steele married Dorothy Lassiter, and they remained as husband and wife for 65 years until her passing.
I love those commercials on television that have a man impersonating an appliance. The dishwasher licks the whip, and the refrigerator complains that he must work every minute of every day while the blender sits in a cabinet and does nothing for most days of the month.
Japanese soldiers wore gas masks to suppress the nauseating smell of sulfur as they dug deep into the bowels of Iwo Jima. Eventually, an 11-mile maze of tunnels would connect underground barracks, hospitals, ammo dumps, water supplies and foodstuffs. Above the tunnels, bunkers and pillboxes by the hundreds awaited the American assault that was inevitable.
At approximately 0600 on the morning of June 6, 1944, the warships of Task Force 125 began their bombardment on German positions behind Utah Beach. Overhead, 276 Marauder B-26 medium bombers dropped tons of bombs on selected targets from les Dunes de Varreville to Beau Guillot.
On May 19, 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte established the 'Ordre National de la Legion d'honneur' (National Order of the Legion of Honor), better known as the Legion of Honor. Presented for extraordinary civilian and military contributions to the fatherland, the Legion of Honor is France's highest distinction.