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Articles By Author - Pete Mecca


Another soldier comes home

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.

February 01, 2015 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


The Fighting Cavanaugh Clan

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.

January 24, 2015 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Did you ever kill anybody?

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."

January 18, 2015 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Avoiding nuclear war through strength

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.

January 10, 2015 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Targeting the Big Apple

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.

January 04, 2015 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


A lack of intelligence

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."

December 20, 2014 | Pete Mecca | Columnists


The fairest of them all

"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.

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


A predictable day of infamy

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 ...

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


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Archive By Author - Pete Mecca


Mecca: Missing but not forgotten

On May 7, 1944, 2nd Lt. William Parkinson was reported missing in action after his B-24 Liberator heavy bomber disappeared over the jungles near Lea, New Guinea. On Jan. 18, two U.S. Army officers presented the urn containing Parkinson's remains to his descendants in Conyers. After 69 years, 2nd Lt. Parkinson was finally home.

February 09, 2013 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Local medic heals wounds, saves lives

In his book "Medic," author Ben Sherman quotes a training sergeant giving the final lecture to a class of graduating Army medics: "...listen to me one more time. 'Restore breathing! Stop bleeding! Make mobile!' And you WILL do everything you learned here, every technique, every field drill, every maneuver...you will do everything absolutely perfect. And you will do ALL these things with tears in your eyes...and your stomach in your throat."

January 29, 2013 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


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


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