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Articles By Author - Pete Mecca


Rockdale-The Other Guys

We were young, invincible, and we knew the awful things would happen to the other guy. The war in Vietnam was nothing more than a stumbling block, something our country needed us to do before we continued on with our lives, our educations, marriages, raising rug rats, growing old with a sweetheart. Our tools of war were lethal and high tech, the best bombs and bullets taxpayer money could buy. Turn us loose, let us do what we were trained to do, and we will win this war then bring us home to a grateful nation.

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


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


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Archive By Author - Pete Mecca


Hitting the silk over Burma

From an editorial in the New York Times on Dec. 15, 1944: "Big strike on railroad marshaling yards in Rangoon by B-29 bombers causes devastating results. No B-29s were lost."

May 28, 2013 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Fighting with the Chinese in WWII

If present-day students are fortunate enough to find World War II mentioned in their history books, they'll most likely study battles fought in North Africa, Europe and the Pacific. The CBI Theater is habitually cited as a footnote.

May 28, 2013 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Mecca: Elite rescue mission in Vietnam

Twenty three miles northwest of Hanoi, the tiny North Vietnamese village of Son Tay had been undisturbed for decades, if not centuries. Peasants harvested their rice crops and survived as best they could in Third-World conditions. On Nov. 21, 1970, the peaceful little village of Son Tay entered military history.

May 21, 2013 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Part II: ‘Heavyweight pilots’ valiant to the end

Analogous to Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, Richard Ira "Dick" Bong and Thomas Buchanan McGuire were the heavyweight fighter jocks of World War II. But Bong and McGuire did not fight each other; they fought the Japanese. This is Part II of their story.

May 16, 2013 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Heavyweight pilots fought to the finish

Analogous to Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, Richard Ira "Dick" Bong and Thomas Buchanan McGuire were the heavyweight fighter jocks of World War II.

May 09, 2013 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Mecca: Veteran serves in war and peace

The American Legion state adjutant has said that Post 77 in Conyers is the model for all American Legions in Georgia. One member has been instrumental in helping Post 77 earn that claim to fame.

May 02, 2013 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Helms brothers in submarine action

In 1828, the two Helms brothers received a land grant for a homestead in Henry County. They packed their belongings, hitched up an old blind mule, loaded the kids into a wagon (both had lost their wives) and began the arduous journey from the Carolinas to their new habitat. Once settled, they built a log cabin and worked the land.

April 16, 2013 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Young veteran transitions home

A Grady baby and lifelong member of Saint John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church, Joe Roden moved with his family from Atlanta to Conyers when he was 14 years old. By age 17, Roden already aspired to join the Army.

April 09, 2013 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Iwo Jima, 25 years after battle

The oldest continuous seagoing service, the United States Coast Guard, was the brainchild of Alexander Hamilton. Founded Aug. 8, 1790, the Coast Guard has served in 17 conflicts, from the Quasi-War of 1798 to present day anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia.

April 02, 2013 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Soldier recalls fighting in rice paddies, jungles

Born in the old Porterdale Hospital, Doug Garner and his family moved to Conyers before settling into Covington. He attended Newton County High School before working at the Bibb Plant in Porterdale, but instead of waiting for the inevitable draft notice, Garner chose to enlist in the U.S. Army. The year was 1966. Garner was 18.

March 26, 2013 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Mecca: War divides the world, fails to separate twins

The United States Maritime Service, sometimes referred to as Mariners, but known worldwide as the Merchant Marines, suffered casualties of 3.9 percent, equating to roughly 9,400 killed and 12,000 wounded of the roughly 215,000 crewmembers during World War II.

March 19, 2013 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Mecca: From baseball to bombings

To say Yellow Brick Home resident John Slavik came from humble beginnings is a misrepresentation of European history. A 'multi-cultural' beginning is closer to the truth.

March 12, 2013 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Mecca: Local soldier recalls fighting at Battle of the Bulge

The Army's 2nd Infantry Division landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day +1, June 7, 1944, near St. Laurent-sur-Mer. After crossing the Aure River to liberate Trevieres on June 10, the 2nd Infantry Division started a trek across France that would take them all the way into Germany.

March 05, 2013 | Pete Mecca | Columnists


Soldier experiences devastation of bombs

McDonough native Joe Turner was born in 1927 during hard times, then lived through the Great Depression. As a member of the Greatest Generation, Turner served in World War II, came home to finish college, and became a successful insurance salesman. As a history and geography enthusiast, he dreamed of going to far-off places, of glimpsing history, and vacationing in countries he'd only read about or studied in school.

February 26, 2013 | Pete Mecca | LOCAL


Mecca: Elrod fights to end

Wake Island is a pint-sized coral atoll in the middle of nowhere, 2,300 miles west of Honolulu and 1,510 miles east of Guam. This tiny speck of sand and palm trees actually consists of three islands - Wake, Wiles and Peale - with a combined shoreline of 12 miles. The highest elevation is 20 feet. History would record Wake Island as the only battle in World War II where an amphibious assault failed when a ragtag group of American marines, sailors, civilian workers and 45 Chamorro Islanders turned back a Japanese invasion.

February 19, 2013 | Pete Mecca | News Columnists


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