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Articles By Author - Pete Mecca


Mecca: 'Find the bastards, and pile on'

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."

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


Mecca: Sky riders

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 In Vietnam the mounts were named Loach, Huey, Cobra, Osage, Chinook, Mohawk and the superseded Raven (achieved recognition in three early James Bond films).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.

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


Mecca: Welcome to the land of peaceful frontiers

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.

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


A Fourth for hope

"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."

July 03, 2014 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Mecca: The lucky ones

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.

July 01, 2014 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Hold hands & take the high ground

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.

June 24, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Mecca: He entered the war a boy, left a man

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."

June 17, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Red, White and Blue

White signifies purity and innocence; Red, hardiness and valor; and Blue, the justice, vigilance, and perseverance of the United States of America.

June 12, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


The bravest of the brave

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.

June 10, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


A D-DAY TRIBUTE

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.

June 05, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


One American family

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.

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


Mecca: The story of Will Roy Weston, part two

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.

May 27, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


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


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Archive By Author - Pete Mecca


Mecca: Parkinson no longer MIA

At the end of World War II, the United States government was unable to retrieve and identify more than 79,000 Americans. Almost 70 years later, more than 73,000 are still missing.

January 22, 2013 | Pete Mecca | News Columnists


Flying the All American

Mention All-American in Tuscaloosa or the remotest corner of Alabama and you'll hear names like running back Eddie Lacy or quarterback A.J. McCarron, two of the numerous young athletes instrumental in the Crimson Tide's most recent National Championship. Another young athlete, by every definition an All-American and 23 years old at the time, flew into aviation history on Feb. 1, 1943 as pilot of the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber named All-American.

January 15, 2013 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Mecca: Join the Navy, see the world

The old recruiting slogan "Join the Navy and See the World" actually came true for Newton resident Shelton Keaton.

January 08, 2013 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


It doesn't take a hero

My thoughts are that of a Vietnam veteran concerning a Vietnam veteran, thus is as it should be.

December 29, 2012 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Excerpts from aboard the H.M.S. Victorious

While dining recently at Outback Steakhouse in Conyers, my wife and I were having our usual pleasant chitchat with Shannon Smith, a long-time Outback employee and family friend, when he conveyed his admiration of "A Veteran's Story." Shannon said he loved the articles, especially the stories of our aging warriors of World War II, and asked if I'd consider writing a story about his grandfather, a British fighter pilot. You bet'cha.

December 26, 2012 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Local paves the way for women vets

Rockdale resident Irene Burquest facilitated the role of women in the military serving as a recruiter and publicity guru during World War II with the Women's Army Auxiliary Corp - WAAC (later called WAC). When asked why she joined, Burquest said, "Well, it was the right thing to do." Then she grinned before admitting, "And I wanted to be where the boys are."

December 11, 2012 | Pete Mecca | News Columnists


Italian and proud of it

Peter's father, Leonardo, was born on March 13, 1863. Leonardo's future wife Anna Maria, was born on June 29, 1868. Both of Peter's parents came from the small poverty-stricken mountain top village identified as Avigliano, Italy. Seeking a better opportunity for themselves and the 11 children Leonardo and Anna Maria would procreate, they sailed on a boat to the United States of America. The baby of the family, Peter, was born on Feb. 27, 1907 in a coal mining community on the outskirts of Scranton, Pa., a little town called Dunmore.

December 04, 2012 | Pete Mecca | News Columnists


Part 2: Prisoner of war Oglesby makes it home

This is the second part in a two-part series profiling World War II veteran Nicholas Oglesby who flew a B-29 Superfortress which bombed targets in Japan, Manchuria and Japanese-controlled cities in China. The first part of this story can be found here.

November 27, 2012 | Pete Mecca | News Columnists


Part 1: Oglesby and B-29 Superfortress bombers

Unusually tall, handsome and impeccably dressed with a perfect command of the English language, the Japanese officer attempted to hoodwink the captured B-29 crew saying, "I am also an American. I was in Japan visiting my parents when war broke out, so I was pressed into service with the Japanese. I am with you 100 percent. I am a graduate of UCLA and I will take care of you. I will have breakfast served to you." The American flyboys chowed down on scrambled eggs, bacon and biscuits. An uncommon feast for American POWs, but they ate it with gusto, fully ...

November 20, 2012 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Mecca: Finding love during Vietnam

The Greatest Generation has often described World War II as a romantic era in the midst of worldwide misery. Along with the suffering and carnage, the timeless spark called love refused the grasp of universal hate. The bombers and the bayonets lost; the birds and the bees won. After the bombs came the babies.

November 13, 2012 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Veterans bond through survival stories

I was asked to 'pick out' a few favorite stories for Veterans Day. Folks, that is a difficult task. I've had the privilege of interviewing more than 200 veterans and I favor all of them. I have a soft spot in my heart for The Greatest Generation. Resilient, patriotic, and frugal, they saved democracy. Their casualties proved horrific, yet they marched into battle time and time again. We, their offspring, had our own war - Vietnam. For 10 years, we did our duty in dung-filled rice paddies and thick jungles owned by the enemy. I relate to my brothers; we ...

November 10, 2012 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Relying on ‘Thumper’

Australian troops in Vietnam referred to the weapon as the "Wombat Gun." The American boys, most likely movie alumni of Walt Disney's "Bambi," nicknamed the weapon "Thumper" for making much the same hollow sound as the cute fictional rabbit thumping the ground with its left hind foot. Other nicknames included Thump-Gun, Bloop Tube and Blooper. Regardless of nickname, the soldiers who carrier the single-shot, break-action, shoulder-fired M79 grenade launcher were all called Grenadiers.

November 01, 2012 | Pete Mecca | News Columnists


Part 2: Harris pilots bombers to keep world peace

Read the first part of this story online here.

October 23, 2012 | Pete Mecca | News Columnists


Mecca: Pilot sees first combat in days following D-Day

It's been an extraordinary journey for an Alabama boy to become the oldest active member of Mansfield United Methodist Church. Covington resident Frank Harris was born into the tiny farming community of Jamison, Ala. in 1923. His railroading father eventually moved the family to Birmingham where Harris attended school until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor during his senior year. A Golden Gloves boxing champion, tough and ready to fight, he wanted to join the Marines, but a buddy talked Harris into signing up with the Army Air Corps.

Harris said with a grin, "I passed the written and physical ...

October 16, 2012 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Surviving Vietnam’s jungles

The 173rd Airborne Brigade was established in 1917 as an infantry brigade before serving in France during World War I. Redesignated in 1942 as the 87th Recon Troop, the 173rd fought in three European campaigns. Inactivated in 1951, it was reactivated in March 1963 and allotted to the regular Army on Okinawa as the 173rd Airborne Brigade, a quick reaction force. Extensive training in mass parachute jumps earned them the nickname "Tien Bien" meaning "Sky Soldiers."

October 09, 2012 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


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