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Articles By Author - Pete Mecca


Ride for the fallen

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.

May 17, 2015 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


The little ship that could

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.

May 11, 2015 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


WWII Days

The B-24 Liberator was overdue. Ugly gray clouds and a misty overcast cut visibility to less than a mile. Hot and sticky, the crewmembers had been airborne most of the day and they were eager to land. Big sweat beads rolled off their faces and dripped onto the metal floor. The nose art on front of the B-24 identified her as Diamond Lil. Ground personnel were anxious, hoping Diamond Lil could make the airfield. Unattractive and ungraceful, the B-24 merited a reputation for difficult handling and unpredictable flight characteristics.

May 03, 2015 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


A Pearl Harbor Story

Aboard the battleship USS California, Dec. 7, 1941. The time: 7:55 a.m. Wayne Shelnut was nursing a hot cup of coffee after breakfast when someone screamed, "What is that airplane doing up there?" Wayne walked a few steps to the door and looked up. A plane with a big red ball painted on the fuselage passed over the California then dropped a bomb on Ford Island. General quarters sounded and startled sailors ran to their battle stations. 100 crewmembers would die and 62 others would be wounded. World War II had caught our Pacific Fleet sound asleep at ...

April 26, 2015 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Never stop searching

November 28, 1972 - Udorn AFB, Thailand: The F-4 Phantom jet lifts off with Captain Jack Harvey at the controls. Flight surgeon Major Bobby Jones rides in the backseat. Major Jones is on the non-combat 'hop' to Da Nang, Vietnam, for one reason, to log the needed hours to maintain his flight surgeon status. The flight is uneventful until about 18 miles out from Da Nang. Something has gone horribly wrong in the vicinity of cloud-covered Bach Ma Mountain.

April 19, 2015 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Red Cross Donut Dollies bring a touch of home

Due to the ingenuity and can-do attitude of Yanks in World War II, the British witnessed their London Lorries remodeled into odd-looking clubmobiles that smelled of coffee and donuts. In July and August of 1944, brand-new clubmobiles crossed the stormy English Channel as remodeled two-and-a-half ton Army trucks. These vehicles also smacked of hot Joe and circular pastry. Eventually 80 clubmobiles and 320 females known as "clubmobile girls" braved the hazards of war to provide our soldiers with familiar tastes and a touch of home. Fifty-two of the ladies would die in the line of duty.

April 12, 2015 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


The unstoppable journalist

November, 1965 - the Ia Drang Valley, Vietnam.

April 05, 2015 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Mecca: Old Soldiers Never Die

The closing paragraph of General Douglas MacArthur's April 19, 1951 address to Congress: "I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barracks ballads of the day which proclaimed most proudly that old soldiers never die; they just fade away. And like the old soldier in the ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty."

April 02, 2015 | Pete Mecca | DIGITAL NEWSPAPER


Old soldiers never die

The closing paragraph of General Douglas MacArthur's April 19, 1951 address to Congress: "I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barracks ballads of the day which proclaimed most proudly that old soldiers never die; they just fade away. And like the old soldier in the ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty."

March 31, 2015 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Our boys are coming home

Twelve heroes from Newton County and 11 of their brothers from Rockdale County are coming home. Befitting the 40th Anniversary of the ending of the Vietnam War, the Vietnam Moving Wall will be on display in May at the Walk of Heroes War Memorial. And thanks to one man - Bud Sosebee - our heroes will have a noble venue for their homecoming.

March 29, 2015 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


A Veteran's Story: Our Boys are Coming Home

Eleven heroes from Rockdale County and twelve of their brothers from Newton County are coming home. Befitting the 40th Anniversary of the ending of the Vietnam War, the Moving Wall – a traveling half-sized replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. – will be on display at the Walk of Heroes War Memorial in Rockdale County, May 6-12. And thanks to one man, Bud Sosebee, our heroes will have a noble venue for their homecoming.

March 26, 2015 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


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Archive By Author - Pete Mecca


Decorating the dead

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.

May 24, 2014 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


THE VA FIASCO

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.

May 24, 2014 | Pete Mecca | Columnists


Mecca: In the midst of war

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.

May 20, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Mecca: Premonitions

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.

May 13, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


A Powerful Lady

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.

May 06, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


One veteran’s viewpoint

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.

May 03, 2014 | Pete Mecca | Columnists


Never forgotten

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.

April 29, 2014 | Pete Mecca | Columnists


Memories of Steele

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.

April 22, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Vacuums suck

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.

April 22, 2014 | Pete Mecca | LIVING


Leading the attack on Iwo Jima

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.

April 15, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Julius Astin: Farm boy from Rutledge

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.

April 08, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Sosebee receives Legion of Honor

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.

April 03, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Courage under fire

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.

April 01, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Steve Blanton Gutsy Airman. Survivor. Patriot.

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."

March 25, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


The Wall, Their Wall, Our Wall

Many Vietnam veterans have visited Our Wall to pay tribute to the

March 18, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


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