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Articles By Author - Pete Mecca


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


A purple heart for 'mama bear'

August 7, 2012: Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shank, Logar Province in Afghanistan. She remembers a 'thump' followed by the sensation of a big hand picking up her body then squeezing the breath from her lungs. Hurled through the air, her body smashes against a blast wall, called an Alaska Wall by the U.S. Military. A water truck packed with 3,000 lbs. of explosives had just detonated 'inside the wire.' Major Patty "Mama Bear" Justice lies wounded and motionless, another casualty of another suicidal terrorist attack. She is 49 years old.

November 29, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Suffer not the little children

"Then were there brought unto him little children; that he should put his hands on them and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus, said, 'Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.'"

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


Mecca: The best Veteran's Day ever

I've been asked many times by readers and friends to relate my military experiences for "A Veteran's Story." Well, perhaps at a later date, but for now I'm delighted and honored to represent and convey the stories of my brothers and sisters. I will grant one personal narrative, a report on the best Veterans Day this old 'Nam vet has ever experienced.

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


One veteran remembers

September, 1970: I was finally home after 2½ years in Southeast Asia fighting a war our government had written off before I ever arrived in Vietnam. My skin still reeked of Southeast Asia, a musky scent no soap could lather off, but with enough time finally wore off. My mom and dad and a few relatives welcomed me home at Memphis International Airport and offered hugs and kisses and a few touchy-feely slights of hand to see if all my appendages were still intact. No Purple Hearts; didn't want any.

November 09, 2014 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


A Veteran's Story: Skies of war

December, 1923, Atlanta: Jim Butler enters the world in an apartment house at the corner of Memorial Drive and Moreland Avenue. His dad maintained a job during the Great Depression so in Jim's words, "Our family did okay." Tech High School awarded Jim a diploma in the spring of '42. Hired by Rich's Department Store, he listened to the stories of a co-worker who had joined Navy aviation. Rather than be drafted as a ground-pounder, by September Jim had taken and passed his physical and mental tests for pilot training with the U.S. Navy.

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


Veteran's Story: The higher cost of freedom

This "Veteran's Story" is dedicated to all our veterans, to the men and women still in uniform, and to our fellow countrymen striving to grasp the true cost of freedom. Freedom never has been free, and the cost will be much higher for future generations.

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


The daedalians

According to Greek mythology, a skilled artist and craftsman, Daedalus, along with his son, Icarus, had become imprisoned on the isle of Crete without hope of escape. Using his substantial intellect, Daedalus used wooden frames, wax, and various sized feathers to fabricate wings. After man's first 'preflight', the two men took to the air, with a stern warning from Daedalus to his son not to fly too high because heat from the sun would melt the wax, nor too low, because sea foam may soak the feathers.

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


Veterans Story: A Soldier Died Today

He served as a combat medic in Vietnam, picked up pieces of humanity; desperately struggled to save lives during the critical 60 minutes of the 'Golden Hour' in which the survival rate increased to 95%, and treaded through mine fields to recover the dead and wounded.

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


Spirits of the healing wall

From the book "The Tunnels of Cu Chi" by Mangold and Penycate, a quote by highly decorated Army officer Jack Flowers, commander of 'Rat Six', the crack Tunnel Rat unit of the 1st Infantry Division. Jack Flowers personally survived 97 tunnel explorations.

October 11, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


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Archive By Author - Pete Mecca


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


British pilot trains, teaches in Georgia

During World War II the British media grumbled, "The trouble with Yanks is that they're over-paid, over-sexed, and over here." One good turn deserves another. British pilots trained in America but unlike their American counterparts, they were under-paid, welcomed here, and not criticized for what comes naturally - not too often, anyway.

October 02, 2012 | Pete Mecca | News Columnists


Local recalls gruesome Vietnam War

On Sept. 24, 1970, Bobby Gayton stopped drinking and gave his life to Christ. He's been preaching ever since, and our country should be grateful he wasn't required to give his life in Vietnam.

September 25, 2012 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Medal of Honor recipient’s heroic tale

Roy Benavidez was born in 1935 near Cuero, Texas to poverty-stricken sharecroppers of Mexican and Yaqui Indian ancestry. Both parents died of tuberculosis before his eighth birthday. He and his younger brother Roger, along with eight cousins, were raised by their grandfather, an aunt and uncle, in El Campo.

September 18, 2012 | Pete Mecca | News Columnists


Account of close calls in Iraq

Born in Macon, Covington resident Eurey Hooper grew up in Byron, and joined the Army reserves at 18 years old.

September 11, 2012 | Pete Mecca | News Columnists


Bank of America to assist veterans

As the banking industry receives the brunt of criticism for unpopular government bailouts, reckless lending practices, and has been the favorite target of politicians, apparently Bank of America is at least trying to improve its image.

September 04, 2012 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Mecca: Serving in the first Gulf War

Doug Hinton's kinfolk settled in Rockdale County in the 1800s. His parents and grandparents rest in peace at Green Meadows; a great-uncle killed on Iwo Jima and his great-grand parents are interred at Eastview, and his Civil War relatives rest in peace at Smyrna Presbyterian Camp Ground. His new bride Cindy, was born and raised in Yankeetown, Fla. Go figure.

A 1985 graduate of Heritage High School, Hinton received an appointment to the Merchant Marine Academy from Senator Sam Nunn. He said, "ROTC at Heritage prepared me for the Academy, but within two years I decided on another path ...

September 04, 2012 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Riding for the fallen

One of the most spirited and self-sacrificing veteran support groups wears leather vests and chaps, helmets, riding or after-riding boots, and the ladies might don an assortment of riding beads. They are known as the American Legion Riders.

September 01, 2012 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


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