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Articles by Section - 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


Mecca: Premonitions

Throughout the written history of warfare, warriors have fallen victim to premonitions of danger or death. Julius Caesar hammered the last peg in his own coffin when he snubbed the soothsayer's warning, 'Beware, the Ides of March.' From contemporary clairvoyant caveats, soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have experienced the same foreboding as suggested by Caesar's unnerving fortuneteller.

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


A Powerful Lady

She's a beautiful lady; sleek, imposing, up-to-the-minute Intelligence, compassionate and protective. Her sisters weigh about the same, a little over 104,000 tons, yet a Nutrisystem diet would trigger rebellion among her family. On a daily average the clan consumes 800 loaves of bread, 660 gallons of milk, 13,000 sodas, 180 dozen eggs, 800 pounds of fresh vegetables and 540 pounds of hamburger.

May 06, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Memories of Steele

After their youngest son, Hugh, had completed a few days in the first grade, Johnny and Ada Steele playfully asked if he'd found a girlfriend yet. The 6-year-old responded, "Yes, I have found the girl I'm going to marry. Her name is Dorothy Lassiter. Even if I wander the whole world over, I'll never find another one like her." In 1947, WWII veteran Hugh Steele married Dorothy Lassiter, and they remained as husband and wife for 65 years until her passing.

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


Leading the attack on Iwo Jima

Japanese soldiers wore gas masks to suppress the nauseating smell of sulfur as they dug deep into the bowels of Iwo Jima. Eventually, an 11-mile maze of tunnels would connect underground barracks, hospitals, ammo dumps, water supplies and foodstuffs. Above the tunnels, bunkers and pillboxes by the hundreds awaited the American assault that was inevitable.

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


Julius Astin: Farm boy from Rutledge

At approximately 0600 on the morning of June 6, 1944, the warships of Task Force 125 began their bombardment on German positions behind Utah Beach. Overhead, 276 Marauder B-26 medium bombers dropped tons of bombs on selected targets from les Dunes de Varreville to Beau Guillot.

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


Sosebee receives Legion of Honor

On May 19, 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte established the 'Ordre National de la Legion d'honneur' (National Order of the Legion of Honor), better known as the Legion of Honor. Presented for extraordinary civilian and military contributions to the fatherland, the Legion of Honor is France's highest distinction.

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


Courage under fire

More than one Leatherneck would agree, it's befitting that a young man from Montezuma chose to join the United States Marine Corps. The month was November, the year 1965, the man: Eli Fobbs.

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


Steve Blanton Gutsy Airman. Survivor. Patriot.

A 1948 "Grady baby", Steve Blanton recalled a childhood without modern conveniences. "We were very poor. We had no indoor plumbing and I toted water from Granny's house because she had city water. Heat was generated by a wood burning stove, I remember the old lamp lights and thought we were rich when we finally got electricity."

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


The Wall, Their Wall, Our Wall

Many Vietnam veterans have visited Our Wall to pay tribute to the

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


Downed pilots finally come home

An airfield in northeast Thailand designated as NKP (Nakhon Phanom) during the Vietnam War was actually a Royal Thai Naval Base. The Thais utilized NKP as a home base for river patrols along the murky Mekong River, the internationally accepted border between Thailand and Laos. The small community of Nakhon Phanom on the banks of the Mekong became a boom town during the American involvement in Southeast Asia.

March 04, 2014 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Virgil Weems helped to integrate Marines

After absurd bickering and declining political roadblocks, "men of color" were finally able to serve in the United States Marine Corps. The date was June 1, 1942. Sent to Camp Lejeune, N.C., for training, black recruits quickly discovered a segregated military still existed; they were assigned to a separate training facility called Montford Point.

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


Submariner in tight 'Spot' in the South Pacific

The Atlantic coast is home to the Spot, a tiny sciaenoid food fish with a black spot behind its shoulders. In the Navy tradition of naming World War II era submarines for fish, the USS Spot Balao-class submarine was launched on Aug. 3, 1944.

June 18, 2013 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Tuskegee Airman on the fight to serve

World War II brought out extraordinary feats of valor, service and sacrifice of everyday Americans. But during this time, many servicemen and women found themselves fighting for freedom abroad while at home they were denied the basic freedoms and dignities they had defended.

June 18, 2013 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Veteran's Story: From baseball to bombings

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

June 06, 2013 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


Rickenbacker outfoxed grim reaper time and again

A fighter in every sense of the word, "The Great Indestructible" expired in a country that hasn't fought a war since 1847 and is internationally-known for its neutrality. He failed in several commercial adventures before succeeding marvelously in the business world. President Franklin D. Roosevelt disliked the man and declined to meet with him on numerous occasions, which may be understandable since The Great Indestructible publicly criticized FDR and continuously referred to him as a "Socialist."

June 06, 2013 | Pete Mecca | A VETERAN'S STORY


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