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 ...
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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.
More than one Leatherneck would agree, it's befitting that a young man from Montezuma chose to join the United States Marine Corps. The month was November, the year 1965, the man: Eli Fobbs.
A 1948 "Grady baby", Steve Blanton recalled a childhood without modern conveniences. "We were very poor. We had no indoor plumbing and I toted water from Granny's house because she had city water. Heat was generated by a wood burning stove, I remember the old lamp lights and thought we were rich when we finally got electricity."
Many Vietnam veterans have visited Our Wall to pay tribute to the