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Articles by Section - A VETERAN'S STORY


America's first war on terror

Ecclesiastes 3 - "To everything there is a season….and a time to every purpose under the heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:8 – "A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."

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


Very Good or Very Dead

Flak blackens the sky; a kaleidoscope of anti-aircraft tracers swivel and coil around your aircraft, and you and your passengers are going down. A normal descent is 72 miles per hour, your landing speed 60 mph, at 49 mph your plane could stall, crash, and kill everyone aboard. Manufacturers with names like Ford Motor Company, Gibson Refrigerator, Ward Furniture, a piano manufacturer, Schlitz Brewing Company, a coffin company, and Anheuser-Busch built the aircraft in your 1,400 plane air armada. What could possibly go wrong?

February 22, 2015 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


There and back again

Doctor David Almand opened his medical practice in Conyers when we both were still relatively young. Goodness, how time flies when you're having fun. Albeit, only recently did I find out his father, Frank Almand, was a World War II veteran who served in Europe. This is Frank's story.

February 15, 2015 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


A 5-foot, 3-inch bundle of dynamite

She is nationally recognized among lawyers as 'the' veteran's pension expert, yet eldercare attorney Victoria Collier concentrates most of her attention on the older generation.

February 08, 2015 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


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


Aboard the Memphis Belle

The 750-horsepower Pratt and Whitney Hornet engines turned over four propellers sending a beautiful yet chaotic melody of mechanical jazz to those encased in the belly of the flying time capsule that is the Liberty Foundation's B-17 Memphis Belle at the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport Thursday.

June 06, 2013 | Bryan Fazio | A VETERAN'S STORY


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Archive By Section - A VETERAN'S STORY


A Veteran's Story: The dustoff

Their aphorism, 'Dedicated Unhesitating Service To Our Fighting Forces' was better known in Vietnam by its acronym 'Dustoff'. These were the medevac choppers. Unarmed and unwavering, the courageous crews of 'Dustoff' missions flew their Hueys into combat zones to bring out the wounded, the dying, and young soldiers covered with rain ponchos. 'Dustoffs' were clearly marked with the Red Cross insignia to signify a mercy flight, yet that distinctive Red Cross also became a prime target for Communist gunners.

August 19, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Mecca: In the midst of love and war

Personality Plus best describes her spunk and spirit, and I knew a story of love and sacrifice resided in her heart. Little did this journalist know that her home front narrative would open the door to one of the most remarkable untold accounts of World War II. If made into a movie, I'll volunteer to write the screenplay.

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


Mecca: The final reunion of Torpedo Squadron 8

A heart attack took the life of George H. Gay Jr. at a Marietta hospital on October 21, 1994. A resident of Kennesaw, Gay was a well-known hero of WWII. Now, as history books are rewritten and military icons are shunned by reformists, let us hope that Gay's story will remain an embodiment of the courage and sacrifice of a generation that saved a world from totalitarianism.

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


Mecca: Kilroy was here!

He sported a big elongated nose, a smooth bald head, beady eyes, and three to four fingers of each hand dangled over the imaginary line of an imaginary wall. A rather comical figure, yet pitifully ugly if symbolic of a real person, Kilroy quickly developed into one of the historic symbols of World War II.

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


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


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


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


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