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TOGETHER WE SERVED : DISPATCHES

April 2016

 
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Note from the Editor

Greetings! This month's edition of "Dispatches" contains stories that are both little known and well known. "Operation Gambit" is the little known story of a rescue mission in Panama in 1989. "Out of the Darkness" is the history of the Navy SEALs from UDT to Senior Chief Byers Medal of Honor.

I hope you enjoy them.


1/ Operation Gambit - A story of a little known rescue mission.
2/ Pearl City Tavern - A long gone favorite military dive bar.
3/ Military Myths and Legends: Gen George S. Patton 
4/ The M-1 Rifle - A Soldier's best friend.
5/ Profile in Courage: Out of the Darkness: Navy SEALs - History and Honor of one of the most respected navy rates.
6/ Battlefield Chronicles - Sugar Loaf Hill - Okinawa - The cost of a freedom in the Pacific.
7/ TWS: Join Our Teams!
8/ TWS Bulletin Board
9/ Letters to the Editor
10/ Book Review:

Please send any comments or member-written articles to mike.christy@togetherweserved.com. Bulletin Board Posts and Reunion Announcements to admin@togetherweserved.com.

LtCol Mike Christy, US Army (Ret)

Operation Acid Gambit

In the summer and fall of 1989, while American attention focused on events in Eastern Europe with the looming collapse of the Soviet empire, developments in Panama raised the possibility of combat much closer to home.

In May 1989, during the Panamanian national elections, an alliance of parties opposed to the Noriega dictatorship counted results from the country's election precincts, before they were sent to the district centers. Their tally showed their candidate, Guillermo Endara, defeating Carlos Duque, candidate of a pro-Noriega coalition, by nearly 3 to 1. Endara and his running mate, Guillermo Ford (photo) were badly beaten by a detachment of a Noriega paramilitary force called the Dignity Battalions the next day in his motorcade. Gen. Manuel Noriega then declared the election null and void and moved to round up members of the opposition and maintain power by brute force. 

Following this incident, relations with Panama grew sharply worse. On December 15, l989, the Panamanian National Assembly passed a resolution stating that a state of war existed with the United States, and Noriega named himself the Maximum Leader. Violence followed the next evening when a Panamanian soldier shot three American officers; one, First Lieutenant Robert Paz, U.S. Marine Corps, died of his wounds. Witnesses to the incident, a U.S. naval officer and his wife, were assaulted by Panamanian Defense Force (PDF) soldiers while in police custody. 

After a thorough review of the situation in Panama, President George H.W. Bush presented Congress with four reasons why U.S. military forces should invade Panama and capture Noriega:

- The first reason was safeguarding the lives of U.S. citizens in Panama. Bush stated that Noriega had declared war between the U.S. and Panama, and that he had threatened the lives of the 35,000 U.S. citizens living there and had already begun to carry out those threats.
 
- The second reason was defending democracy and human rights in Panama and restoring the democratically-elected government of Guillermo Endara. 

- The third reason was to arrest Noriega on drug trafficking charges. With his participation, Panama had become a center for drug money laundering and a transit point for drug trafficking to the U.S. and Europe.

-The fourth and final reason was to protect the Panama Canal by enforcing the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, signed on Sept. 7, 1977 by President Jimmy Carter and Gen. Omar Torrijos, commander of the Panamanian National Guard, under which the U.S. retained the permanent right to defend the canal from any threat that might interfere with its continued neutral service to ships of all nations, and guaranteed that Panama would gain control of the canal after 1999. Members of Congress and others in the U.S. political establishment claimed that Noriega threatened the neutrality of the Panama Canal and that the U.S. had the right under the treaties to intervene militarily to protect the canal. 

Bush's four reasons gained bi-partisan Congressional approval and support for the invasion.

In the early morning hours of December 20, 1989, the U.S. Army spearheaded a carefully planned and well-executed attack that overwhelmed the Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF) of Dictator Manuel Noriega in what was called Operation Just Cause. Special Operations forces hit strategic targets as conventional task forces seized additional key points and the land approaches to Panama City. Task Force Bayonet then entered the city, secured the U.S. embassy and captured the PDF headquarters, La Comandancia, after a three- hour fight. With the Comandancia in U.S. hands and Noriega in hiding, centralized control of the PDF collapsed. However, fighting would flare sporadically for some time as U.S. forces overcame pockets of resistance.

Noriega surrendered to the Vatican Embassy in Panama City on January 3, 1990. In a deal worked out with the U.S.-created government headed by Guillermo Endara, U.S. authorities brought Noriega to Miami for trial, which was delayed into the early 1990s. He was eventually convicted of several crimes including cocaine smuggling, sentenced to forty years in a Miami prison, and ordered to pay $44 million to the Panamanian government. In 1999 a French court sentenced Noriega and his wife to ten years in jail along with a $33 million fine. Also in 1999 the Panamanian high court announced that it would seek to have Noriega returned to that country to make sure he served time there for murder. That took place December 2011, when Noriega arrived at El Renacer Prison, a former American facility, to complete a 20-year sentence for three convictions stemming from several deaths.

While many of the battles and scrimmages are well-documented, there was one special operations mission that got little publicity. It was Operation Acid Gambit, a special operations plan to rescue Kurt Muse, an American civilian living in Panama and widely reported to be a CIA operative, who was imprisoned in Carcel Modelo, Panama's notorious prison. Muse had been arrested in 1989 for setting up covert anti-Noriega radio transmissions in Panama.

Political considerations delayed the raid, which was conducted by 23 Delta Force operators (SFOD) and supported by the Night Stalkers (160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment), until the United States invaded Panama to arrest Noriega in Operation Just Cause on December 20, 1989. 

Operation Acid Gambit also began on December 20, 1989 sometime before midnight, when two darkened MH-6 Little Bird helicopters carrying heavily armed Delta Force operators swooped in low, narrowly avoiding city buildings and enemy fire. They safely landed on the roof of the Carcel Modelo prison.

Once off the helicopters, the Delta Force operators fought their way inside. They had to act quickly to deny the enemy the opportunity to murder the hostage. Delta Force operators made their way into the building, tossing smoke grenades for cover in the narrow halls. Target-aiming lights mounted on their weapons sliced through the dust- and smoke-filled halls. Clearing one cell after another, the Delta Force operators found Muse. In an instant, they blew the cell door open, shielded the hostage with their own bodies to protect him from a possible hidden enemy assassin, and shouted, "Muse, we're here to take you home!" With those words, Kurt Muse, was set free from nine months of captivity at the hands of Panamanian dictator Gen. Manuel Noriega and the Panamanian military. 

Muse had spent most of his life in Panama City and considered himself more Panamanian than American and was troubled with Noriega using the PDF for drug trafficking, money laundering, arms smuggling, and physical violence to consolidate his power and strangle Panamanian democracy.

To counter this, Muse and his Panamanian friends decided to wage a peaceful revolution. He took on the leadership role of the underground movement, and used his lifelong American and Panamanian business connections for financial and technical assistance. The group decided the best method of reaching the common Panamanian citizenry was through radio broadcasting of anti-Noriega messages. The movement came to be known as The Voice of Liberty.

Noriega became incensed at their broadcasts, and had his PDF looking for the conspirators. Through luck and skill, Muse and his Panamanian friends always managed to stay one step ahead of Noriega and the PDF.

Muse's group, the Voice of Liberty, decided a large mass event was needed to act as a revolutionary catalyst. Organizers wanted 100,000 people on the streets in support of a peaceful demonstration to successfully overthrow Noriega.

The event Muse and his group chose would be Noriega's official state address to the Panamanian people. On that day, an audience of more than 20,000 Panamanians had gathered to hear Noriega's speech. Just as he began to talk, Muse's group's first prerecorded uprising message went live.

The two-minute recording demanded free and democratic elections and completely interrupted Noriega's State of the Union address.

The next day newspaper headlines screamed of imperialist Yankee interference and propaganda. A furious Noriega set out to find Muse and his pirate radio crew. With the help of experts from East Germany and Cuba, Muse was arrested after a trip to Miami to acquire more radio equipment and money. He was immediately arrested upon his return and placed in the Carcel Modelo, a notorious prison in the heart of Panama City. 

The U.S. State Department wanted Noriega gone and they were using Muse as a propaganda and diplomatic tool against him.

Muse felt one of the things keeping him from being physically tortured was his American birth and U.S. citizenship. A Panamanian army colonel and an immigration official even attempted to find out if Muse had any Panamanian bloodlines, but they failed. This prevented the colonel from physically torturing and possibly even killing him.

Though he was not physically harmed, Muse's incarceration was mentally brutal. By December 20th's rescue mission, he had been held hostage at Carcel Modelo for nine months. He endured solitary confinement, threats of violence, death and the screams of tortured Panamanians. He always had at least one guard assigned to him with the sole mission to execute him should a rescue attempt be made.

Sometime after midnight, the prison was pitch black and silent. Muse heard a couple rounds from a machine gun, then it became eerily quiet, silent and tense. Muse suddenly remembered the guard with the orders to kill him, but to his relief, he watched the guard run down the hall, presumably to defend the prison's entrances. He then looked across the street to see Noriega's headquarters being pummeled by gunfire, and beginning to disintegrate into fine bits of gravel from the pounding. Shortly after that, the guard returned. 

After breaching the roof-top door with explosive charges, the Delta operators raced down the two flights of stairs towards Muse's cell. A Delta operator killed Muse's assassin guard. Muse's cell door was blown and Delta operators gave Muse body-armor and a ballistic helmet and goggles, and moved him to the roof to be ex-filtrated by MH-6 Little Birds back to the US base. Muse was unceremoniously shoved inside the waiting helicopter as Delta operators scrambled back from their firing positions around the edges of the prison roof. Delta snipers fired at Panamanian soldiers attempting to stop the rescue operation.

The pilot managed to get the overloaded helicopter to lift off but it didn't go far. It had too much weight with so many people on board. After barely clearing the roof, the helicopter and its human cargo plummeted straight down toward one of the prison walls and narrowly missed smashing into it before crashing hard on the street.

Trained for this type of situation, the Delta operators immediately vaulted from their bench seats on the exterior of the Little Bird and engaged targets as the pilot struggled to regain control of the craft. Once the helicopter was stabilized, the pilot summoned everyone back aboard. Some of the SF operators didn't even have time to hook their safety harnesses up again. 

As the helicopter lifted off several rescuers were shot and a couple fell off. When the pilot was unable to get the helicopter no more than a few feet into the air, he drove the helicopter straight down the street like a car before it crashed. Muse and the Delta operator seated next to him jumped off the helicopter and were making it to the safety of a wall when the Delta operator escorting him fell and pulled Muse down with him.

As the battle raged around Muse, he lay next to the unconscious SF operator hoping the Panamanians would figure he was dead. Slowly the rescuer opened his eyes and asked him if Muse was okay? Apparently, he had been knocked out by the helicopter rotor blade. During the crash, Muse had lost his helmet and had the SF operator's helmeted head not taken the rotor blow, they would both be dead. 

The two of them sought the cover of an apartment wall when Muse noticed most of the rescue team had been wounded, yet despite the severity of their wounds, they formed a perimeter and continued fighting. 

Delta Force operators Pat Savidge, Lee Goodell, James Sudderth, and Kelly Venden were wounded in the crash, while Muse, Delta Force operators Mickey Cantley, John English, and the two pilots were uninjured. Everyone aboard the helicopter quickly took cover in a nearby building. The Delta operators managed to signal one of the gunships flying over the area with an infrared strobe light and remained in a perimeter waiting for a rescue. 

Shortly thereafter, an armored personnel carrier from a nearby 5th Infantry Division cavalry patrol fought their way through the city and linked up with the rescue team. For Kurt Muse, who thought he would never be released and would probably die in prison, he could not have wished for a better outcome. For the Delta Force operators and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) Night Stalkers, they conducted the first successful American hostage rescue mission since WWII.


To view a TV documentary on the rescue, please go to:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSyFuLokgKE
 
Pearl City Tavern
 
By John Wallace
Capt. U.S. Navy 1955 - 1989

In the summer of 1962, as USS Polk County made preparations for deployment from homeport San Diego to Pearl Harbor, old timers were looking forward to the chance to sip a few cool ones at the legendary "Monkey Bar" in the Pearl City Tavern (PCT). Making my first visit to the islands as a fresh-caught Ensign, I was intrigued by the idea of live monkeys in the bar and I put it high on my list of things to see and do in Hawaii. Little did I suspect that the PCT was going to leave an indelible mark on my career in the Navy - an innocent led astray by a member of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Lt. Nelson B., USMC, when sober and at sea, flew helicopters off USS Iwo Jima. When ashore, "Nels" was a party guy. For some reason which escapes me to this day, I found myself beach crawling with old Nels, finishing up an extended evening at the Monkey Bar; and there indeed were live monkeys behind the bar (not tending bar, just doing monkey things behind the glass enclosure), providing the live entertainment for this popular watering hole. With the proper blood alcohol level, one could while away many hours observing the social interaction of these sometimes shameless primates (this may be where Jane Goodall got her inspiration).

On this particular evening (probably early morning by then), having finally tired of the simian follies, Nels went off to call us a cab to return to Pearl Harbor. After an extended wait, I suspected he had run into problems and went off to track him down, arriving just in time to see him rip the last of three pay phones from the wall of the PCT lobby (Marines define "fun" differently than the rest of us). My arrival coincided with that of the HASP (Hawaiian Armed Services Police), summoned by the manager after phone number one bit the dust. The HASP, a select group of military police established specifically to deal with miscreant military service members, were all big, no-nonsense, intimidating guys, selected primarily for their size and inability to smile.

"They did it," yelled the manager, pointing at a grinning Nels and an innocent me. A short walk later, encouraged along the way by our stone-faced escorts, we found ourselves at HASP Headquarters being fingerprinted and photographed. We barely escaped an overnighter when Nels arranged to reimburse the phone company and wrote a check on the spot.

That brush with the law had a permanent and not necessarily negative impact on the rest of my naval career, although from that day forward, whenever I was required to answer the question "Have you ever been arrested?", I had to check the "yes" box and attempt to explain away in great detail my association with fun-loving Nels and the Monkey Bar incident. On the positive side, I think the experience made me more understanding and receptive to "extenuating and mitigating circumstances" when I was later in a position to pass judgement on sailors accused of disciplinary infractions or violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. As a Commanding Officer with Article 15 authority and authority to refer cases to courts martial, I think having been on the wrong side of the system, however briefly, stimulated a compassion that might not otherwise have been there.

 As for Nels, we never crossed paths again; and after only a few years I was able to say "Marine" without adding any colorful adjectives. The Monkey Bar is long gone, replaced by a Japanese restaurant, then a used car lot and more recently bulldozed to make way for some other more mundane enterprise. I think the monkeys were moved to a small island in Kaneohe Bay (oddly enough named Monkey Island) and are the subjects of behavioral research by the University of Hawaii.

The HASP still strikes fear into the hearts of military members gone astray in Hawaii but their image and tactics have softened over the years. Some say former HASP members have been spotted on Monkey Island trying to intimidate the inhabitants into more acceptable behavior.
Military Myths and Legends: Gen George S. Patton
 
Patton had his first real taste of battle in 1915, when leading cavalry patrols against Poncho Villa at Fort Bliss along the Mexican border. In 1916 he was selected to aide John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in Mexico. In Mexico, Patton impressed Pershing by personally shooting Mexican leader Julio Cardenas during the Battle of Columbus. Pershing promoted Patton to captain and invited him to lead Pershing's Headquarters Troop once they left Mexico.

In 1917, during WWI, Patton was the first officer assigned to the new American Expeditionary Force Tank Corps. Tanks had proven effective in France at the Battle of Cambria. Patton studied this battle and established himself as one of the leading experts in tank warfare. He organized the American tank school in Bourg, France, and trained American tankers to pilot the French Renault tanks. Patton's first battle was at St. Mihiel, in September 1918. He was later wounded in the battle of Meuse-Argonne and later earned the Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership of the tank brigade and establishing the tank school. 

It was during WWII that Patton hit the high point of his military career. In 1943 he used daring assault and defense tactics to lead the 7th U.S. Army to victory at the invasion of Sicily. On D-Day in 1944, when the allies invaded Normandy, President Roosevelt granted Patton command of the 3rd U.S. Army. Under Patton's leadership, the 3rd Army swept across France, capturing town after town. "Keep on advancing… whether we go over, under, or through the enemy," Patton told his troops. Nicknamed "Old Blood and Guts" due to his ruthless drive and apparent lust for battle, he wrote home to his wife, "When I'm not attacking, I get bilious."

In 1945, Patton and his army managed to cross the Rhine and charge straight into the heart of Germany, capturing 10,000 square miles of enemy territory along the course of the 10-day march, and liberating Germany from the Nazi's in the process.

In December of 1945, General George S. Patton broke his neck in a car crash near Mannheim, Germany. He died at the hospital in Heidelberg 12 days after, on December 21, 1945. In 1947, his memoir, "War as I Knew It", was published posthumously.

To this day, Patton is considered one of the most successful field commanders in U.S history. 

Following are ten additional facts about the outspoken American General nicknamed "Old Blood and Guts."

Patton was an Olympic athlete
As a 26-year-old Army Cavalry Officer, Patton was selected as the sole American competitor in the first-ever Olympic modern pentathlon at the 1912 Summer Games in Stockholm. Of the 42 competitors, he finished in fifth place, although he might have medaled if not for a controversy in the pistol-shooting event. While the judges believed Patton missed the target with one of his shots, he argued that he was so fine a marksman that one of his bullets actually traveled through a bullet hole he had already made. Patton was also selected to the 1916 Olympic team, but the Games were cancelled due to World War I.

He believed in reincarnation
Patton claimed he had seen combat many times before in previous lives, including as a Roman legionnaire and as part of the 14th-century army of John the Blind of Bohemia. Before the 1943 invasion of Sicily, British General Harold Alexander told Patton, "You know, George, you would have made a great marshal for Napoleon if you had lived in the 19th century." Patton replied, "But I did." The general believed that after he died he would return to once again lead armies into battle.

He was forced to repeat his first year at West Point
Patton struggled academically during his initial year at the U.S. Military Academy and was required to repeat his first year after failing mathematics. The plebe began working with a tutor and redoubled his efforts to receive adequate grades the remainder of his tenure at West Point, eventually graduating 46th in his class of 103 cadets.

Patton first saw combat and gained fame chasing Poncho Villa
In response to a deadly 1916 raid by Poncho Villa in Columbus, New Mexico, President Woodrow Wilson ordered American troops across the Mexican border to capture or kill the Mexican revolutionary. Patton served as aide-de-camp to the mission's commander, General John J. Pershing, and participated in the first motorized attack in the history of American warfare on May 14, 1916, in which Villa's second-in-command and two of his guards were killed. Patton garnered headlines by ordering the three corpses strapped like trophy animals to the hoods of his unit's automobiles before driving back to base.

He carried a pair of pistols with ivory handles
Patton fired a new ivory-handled Colt .45 in the deadly Mexican shootout, but after the battle he decided to carry a second ivory-handled handgun for added firepower. The flamboyant pistols contained his hand-carved initials and became his trademarks.

He earned a Purple Heart in World War I
While personally leading an attack on German machine gun positions as part of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on September 26, 1918, Patton was struck by a round that tore into his left thigh. Badly wounded, he continued to command the battle for the next hour from a shell hole and insisted on filing his report at division headquarters before being taken to the evacuation hospital. When the Purple Heart was reinstituted in 1932, Patton was awarded the honor for his combat wounds.

Patton played a pivotal role in the eviction of the Bonus Marchers
On July 28, 1932, Patton received orders from U.S. Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur to disperse the World War I veterans seeking cash payments for their veterans' bonus certificates who had occupied Washington, D.C., for two months. Charging down Pennsylvania Avenue and through the streets of the national capital, Patton led 600 cavalry troops on horseback who fired tear gas into the "Bonus Marchers," trampled civilian observers including Connecticut Senator Hiram Bingham and beat protestors with the flats of their swords.

He was used as a decoy in the lead-up to D-Day
General Dwight Eisenhower believed Patton too undisciplined to lead the Allied invasion of Normandy, particularly after the impulsive Patton slapped two shell-shocked Soldiers under his command in an Italian field hospital in August 1943. Nazi military leaders, however, considered him the Allies' best commander and expected he would lead a cross-channel invasion. As part of the elaborate disinformation campaign leading up to D-Day, Patton was placed in charge of a phantom army, complete with plywood aircraft and inflatable rubber tanks, in southeast England to make it appear he would strike at the channel's narrowest point at Pas de Calais, France. Even weeks after D-Day, the Germans continued to amass troops at Pas de Calais expecting that Patton would still come ashore there.

His grandfather was mayor of Los Angeles
Patton's maternal grandfather, Benjamin Davis Wilson, was a powerful southern California landowner who became the second elected mayor of Los Angeles in 1851. He also served as a county clerk, a county supervisor and a State Senator. Mount Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains is named in his honor.

He designed his own sword
Patton was one of the top swordsmen at West Point and among the foremost fencers in the United States. He redesigned the Army's saber combat doctrine for the cavalry by favoring thrusting attacks over slashing maneuvers and designed the Model 1913 Cavalry Saber, a new straight-blade weapon designed for thrusting that became known as the "Patton Sword."
 
 
 
The M-1 Rifle
 
By Don Montgomery
U.S. Army 1952-1954
19th IR, 24th ID, Korea

The M-1 was a basic infantry weapon in WWII and the Korean War. It was described in the Soldier's Manual as a "U.S. Army Rifle, Caliber 30, M-1; semi-automatic, gas-operated, clip-fed, shoulder weapon." Now don't hold me to that quote. It's been a full 50 years since I had to memorize the formal definition of an "M-1." Point is, I recently got to hold one again after more than half a century. It was at a 4th of July parade my wife and I had attended in Hastings, Minnesota. 

 After the parade, a member of the honor guard was walking to his car carrying two M-l rifles. At my request, he let me hold one, and I marveled at how heavy it seemed now, but how light I thought it was those many years ago when I carried it all over Korea along with my full field pack, shelter-half, loaded cartridge belt, bayonet and sheath, first aid kit, canteen, steel helmet, combat boots, parka, heavy clothing, and lots of other things, too. How did I ever manage to carry so much stuff and march all day long?

 My wife was standing nearby, quietly observing my strange behavior as I reverently held and fondled the shiny M-1 rifle, which I kept turning over and over and examining in all its particulars. Undoubtedly she was thinking I'm crazy, which isn't an unusual or new thought she's had about me over the past 63 years of our marriage. 

Reluctantly I returned the M-1 rifle to its owner, and thanked him for letting me hold it. Then I defensively explained to my wife how sacred the M-1 rifle really is to me. I concluded by telling her that as a soldier I had to sleep with my M-1, clean it daily, and know its serial number by heart. Furthermore, I had to treat my M-1 rifle as though it were my best girlfriend. 

Instantly my wife responded, "Forget that! Now you've got me, and I'm better than any gun!"
 
There's no way I could top that, so I let my wife have the last word. But we were threatened with a Court Martial, and given company punishment, if we ever called our M-1 Rifle a "gun." 

An M-1 Rifle is called a "rifle" because of its "rifling." In other words, an M-1 bore consists of ground out lands and grooves that spin a bullet so it holds a more reliable trajectory as it speeds to its target. A smooth bore weapon, such as a cannon, is more properly referred to as a "gun." 

However, in spite of all this important knowledge, the fact remains, my wife still got the last word.
 
 
Profile in Courage: Out of the Darkness : Navy SEALs

On June 6, 1943, the Naval Combat Demolition Unit (NCDU) training school was established at Ft. Pierce, Florida. Training candidates came from rugged, physically capable Marine Raider and Navy Scout and Construction Battalion volunteers with previous swimming experience.

Demolition work was emphasized without restriction. Grueling nighttime training conducted in the snake- and alligator-infested swamps of Florida produced a specimen of man who was at home with mud, noise, exhaustion, water, and hostile beings, human or otherwise. The trainees were divided into teams of six men – one officer and five enlisted – called Underwater Demolition Teams, or UDTs (later changed in the mid-1950s to Sea, Air, and Land, or SEALs), and were also known as Frogmen for their amphibious abilities and appearance. The UDTs conducted amphibious assaults on D-Day and on Japanese-held islands in the Pacific. 

In the 1980s, a group of retired UDT-SEALs sitting around the home of Albert Stankie came up with the idea of creating a museum dedicated to Navy SEALs that would preserve its history, let the public know the role SEALs played in the war effort, and honor the servicemen who trained there. He and other former UDT Frogmen gathered personal artifacts and experiences from their service in World War II. They then worked to procure the defunct Ft. Pierce Treasure Museum building and site.

Built to honor the men who served with fortitude and ingenuity, the Navy UDT -SEAL Museum first opened its doors on Veterans Day in 1985. From humble beginnings, the facility has experienced tremendous growth, and it achieved national stature when it was signed into law as a National Museum by an act of Congress on February 7, 2008.

The focal point of the Museum is the UDT-SEAL Memorial that consists of a 500-pound, 9-foot-tall, bronze sculpture of a modern Navy SEAL. The names of all Underwater Demolition Team members-the "Frogmen" of World War II-and modern Navy SEALs who have died in the service of our country are carved into black, granite panels on the walls surrounding the sculpture and its reflecting pool.

On Nov. 9, 2013, a Medal of Honor statue by celebrated sculptor Paul Moore was dedicated to the Navy SEAL Museum through a generous gift from former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot. The statue depicts the courageous actions of Medal of Honor recipient, Michael Thornton, carrying wounded Medal of Honor recipient, Tom Norris, off the battlefield. Moore, a friend of Michael Thornton, understood the meaning of the SEAL code of "Leave no man behind" when he skillfully sculpted the determination on Thornton's face as he carries an unconscious Norris to safety. With battlefield experiences in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and elsewhere, UDT-SEAL teams have tenaciously held to this code, never leaving a teammate in the field, dead or alive. 

The full story of how these two brave men risked their lives to save others was featured in the Oct. 2014 issue of Dispatches entitled "The Incredible Rescue of Lt. Col. Gene Hambleton" That article can be accessed at the following site: http://army.togetherweserved.com/army/dispatches/1014.html
Engraved at the base of the memorial are also the names of three other SEAL Medal of Honor recipients: Ltjg Joseph Robert "Bob" Kerrey, Lt. Michael P. Murphy (posthumously) and Petty Officer Second Class Michael A. Monsoor (posthumously).

For complete information on how the five SEALs earned the Medal of Honor, please go the following site: http://www.nightscribe.com/Military/SEALs/SEAL_MOH_Honorees.htm
This month, the sixth name of a SEAL Medal of Honor was added to the base of the memorial: Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Edward C. Byers Jr.

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Byers enlisted in the United States Navy in September 1998 and went on to serve as a hospital corpsman. Byers first served at Great Lakes Naval Hospital and was later attached to 2nd Battalion 2nd Marines in 1999 and deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard USS Austin (LPD-4). He attended Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in 2002 and graduated with Class 242. 

In 2003, Byers attended the Special Operations Combat Medic course. He was assigned to his first SEAL team in May 2004. In 2011 Chief Byers joined the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, commonly known as SEAL Team 6, serving 11 overseas deployments including nine combat tours, and fighting multiple times in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In addition to his Medal of Honor, his many awards and decorations include five Bronze Star Medals with Combat "V" (for Valor) device, two Purple Hearts, the Joint Service Commendation Medal with "V" device, and both the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals with Combat "V" device.

According to official records, the reason for the rescue operation on which Byers was cited for his extraordinary heroism, began when American Dr. Dili Joseph, a husband and father of four children who was working to bring health care to the Afghan people, was abducted with his driver and Afghan interpreter on December 5, 2012 and held for ransom by the Taliban. 

SEAL Team 6 were selected for the rescue mission by Marine Gen. John Allen, who was the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan at the time. The U.S. military had gathered intelligence on where Dr. Joseph was being held and the commanders were concerned that if they did not rescue the hostages quickly, he would be moved to a new hideout and/or killed as early as December 9, 2012. Time was of the essence.

As with all secret SEAL missions, the success of the rescue operation relied upon surprise, speed, and aggressive action. Trading personal security for speed of action was inherent to the success of this rescue mission. Each SEAL in the rescue force volunteered for this operation with full appreciation for the risks they were to undertake.

On the night of December 8, 2012, SEAL Team 6 was inserted by helicopter in Qarghah'i District of Laghman Province, eastern Afghanistan where the target compound was located in a remote area beside a mountain. 

Under cover of darkness, the infiltration to Dr. Joseph's location was an exhaustive trek across unimproved trails and mountainous terrain. After nearly four hours of carefully traversing the rugged terrain on a cold night, the team had closed to within 25 meters of the Taliban hide-out when a guard became aware of their presence. The pointman, Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque, 28, from Monroeville, Pennsylvania, sprinted forward, killed the guard and entered the compound heading to the structure believed to be holding Dr. Joseph. Just steps behind was Byers. 

Six layers of blankets securely fastened to the ceiling and walls served as the Afghan door. While Byers tried to rip down the blankets, Checque pushed his way through the doorway and was immediately shot by enemy AK-47 fire. Completely aware of the hostile threat inside the room, Byers entered and immediately spotted a Taliban pointing an AK-47 towards him. As he dispatched the guard, a shadowy figure darted towards the corner of the room. Byers could not distinguish if the person may have been the hostage scrambling away or a Taliban attempting to arm himself with an AK-47 that lay in the corner. Byers tackled the unknown male and maintained control of him with one hand, while adjusting the focus of his night vision goggles (NVGs) with his other. Once his NVGs were focused, he recognized it was not the hostage and engaged the struggling armed Taliban guard in hand-to-hand combat. A struggle the guard did not win.

By now other team members had entered the room and were calling to Dr. Joseph to identify himself. Byers heard an unknown voice speak English from his right side. He immediately leaped across the room and selflessly flung his body on top of the American hostage, shielding him from the continued rounds being fired across the room. Almost simultaneously, he identified an additional enemy fighter directly behind Dr. Joseph. While covering the hostage with his body, Byers calmly asked if he had been fed, if he could walk and if he had been mistreated and let him know he was safe with American Forces. Even as he did so, Byers pinned the last Taliban fighter to the wall, allowing his fellow team members to shoot and kill him, according to the Navy report. When it was over, five Taliban fighters lay dead on the dirt floor.

Once Dr. Joseph was moved to the helicopter-landing zone, Byers, the unit's medic, turned his attention to Checque, spending the 40-minute flight back to Bagram Airfield trying to resuscitate him, but Checque was declared dead at the American base. Checque was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.

Byers is believed to be the first service member to ever receive the Medal of Honor for actions while serving with the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, commonly known as SEAL Team 6. Defense officials declined to confirm that, but said that Byers is the first living SEAL to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. U.S. officials have previously acknowledged that the 2012 raid was carried out by SEAL Team 6.

Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Edward C. Byers Jr., received his Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama during a White House ceremony on February 29, 2016. In attendance were Byers' wife Madison, daughter Hannah, his mother, brothers, sisters, and about 50 cousins from all across the country. Also attending were dozens of friends-many of whom served alongside Byers- some of whom had traveled from around the world to be at the ceremony.  

To begin the ceremony, a prayer was offered, the Navy SEAL and the President standing side by side. President Obama then spoke of Senior Chief Byers and his humble nature to the packed crowd in the East Wing,

"Standing here today in front of the entire nation is not Senior Chief Ed Byers' idea of a good time," said President Obama. "Like so many of our special operators, Ed is defined by a deep sense of humility. He doesn't seek the spotlight. In fact, he shuns it"

"But the Medal of Honor is our nation's highest military decoration," Obama continued. "And today's ceremony is truly unique - a rare opportunity for the American people to get a glimpse of a special breed of warrior that so often serves in the shadows. We're a nation of more than 300 million Americans. Of these, less than one percent wear the uniform of our armed forces. Of these, just a small fraction serve in our Special Operations forces. Among those who train to become a SEAL, only a select few emerge and earn the right to wear that golden Trident" 

With cameras clicking in rapid succession, the President presented the nation's highest honor, placing it around Byers' neck and saluting and congratulating him.

After the ceremony, Byers described what the day meant to him. "I'm grateful that my family, friends, and teammates were able to join me today in the White House. It would not be meaningful without being surrounded by the very people that have supported me throughout my life," said Byers. 

Byers is still an active member of the SEAL Team 6 and was promoted to the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer in January 2016. Byers is a licensed paramedic and will graduate from Norwich University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis in early 2016. 

To view and hear the entire ceremony, please go to the following site: 
https://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2016/02/29/president-presents-medal-honor-us-navy-senior-chief-edward-byers-j
 
Battlefield Chronicles - Sugar Loaf Hill - Okinawa

After the Battle of Midway in the summer of 1942, the United States launched a counter-offensive strike known as "island-hopping," establishing a line of overlapping island bases. As each Japanese-held island fell, U.S. forces quickly constructed airfields and small bases, then moved on to surrounding islands, one after another, until Japan came within range of American bombers.

The volcanic island of Iwo Jima was a crucial location for the island-hopping campaign to succeed. The island's proximity would make it possible for Marianas Island-based B-29 Superfortresses to refuel on their way to bomb Japanese targets and surrounding islands. It was also ideal for bombers damaged during the raids to find safety and medical attention on their way home from bombing Japan. Three airstrips, which the Japanese had been using for their suicidal Kamikaze attacks to destroy U.S. Navy warships, also made Iwo Jima a primary target. With the island captured, the Kamikazes would have to operate from Okinawa or Kyushu.

On Feb. 19, 1945, the U.S. Marine Corps' legendary 3rd, 4th and 5th Divisions landed on Iwo Jima to provide fixed air bases for B-29 Superfortress air attacks against Japan and surrounding islands. It took 36 days of brutal combat, while literally inching their way across the island, for the Marines to secure Iwo Jima. But victory came at a heavy price. At the battle's conclusion, 6,281 Americans were killed and 19,217 wounded. The Japanese lost 17,845-18,375 dead and missing.

With Iwo Jima secured, preparation to assault Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands began to move forward. Okinawa, on the southern tip of Japan, would serve as the perfect base for air operations and training of U.S. forces for the planned invasion of the Japanese homeland-thought to be inevitable. Dubbed "Operation Iceberg," planning began with Lt. Gen. Simon B. Buckner's Tenth Army tasked with taking the island. 

Initial U.S. landings began on March 26, 1945 when elements of the 77th Infantry Division captured the Kerama Islands to the west of Okinawa. On the 31st, Marines occupied Keise Shima. Only eight miles from Okinawa, the Marines quickly emplaced artillery on these islets to support future operations. The main assault moved forward against the Hagushi beaches on the west coast of Okinawa on April 1. This was supported by a feint against the southeast coast by the 2nd Marine Division. Coming ashore, Maj. Gen. Roy Geiger's III Amphibious Corps (1st & 6th Marine Divisions) and Maj. Gen. John Hodge's XXIV Corps (7th & 96th Infantry Divisions) quickly swept across the south-central part of the island capturing the Kadena and Yomitan airfields.

Having encountered light resistance against zero opposition and with almost no casualties, the seasoned combat veterans in the assault force realized that a very hard road lay before them, because the Japanese had chosen to dig deep and fight on their own terms.

With the majority of his forces moving south, Gen. Buckner ordered the 6th Marine Division to begin clearing the northern part of the island. Proceeding up the Ishikawa Isthmus, they battled through rough terrain before encountering the main Japanese defenses on the Motobu Peninsula. Centered on the ridges of Yae-Take, the Japanese, under the command of Col. Takehiko Udo, mounted a tenacious defense before being overcome on April 18. Two days earlier, the 77th Infantry Division landed on the island of Ie Shima offshore. In five days of fighting, they secured the island and its airfield. 

Though fighting in the northern part of the island was concluded in fairly rapid fashion, the southern part proved a different story. While Ushijima did not expect to defeat the Allies, he sought to make their victory as costly as possible. To achieve this, he had constructed elaborate systems of fortifications along a series of defensive lines across the island, both north and south of the American landing beaches, enabling the Japanese to conduct a fierce defense of Okinawa over many weeks. Using pillboxes and strongpoints, caves, and even some ancient castles, the Japanese defensive positions supported one another and often resisted even the most determined artillery fire or air strikes. Mounting few attacks themselves, the Japanese conserved their strength for this defense. Caves or pillboxes often had to be destroyed individually with dynamite charges.

Pushing south, Allied troops fought a bitter battle to capture Cactus Ridge on April 8, before moving against Kakazu Ridge. Forming part of Ushijima's Machinato Line, the ridge was a formidable obstacle and an initial American assault was repulsed.

Counterattacking, Ushijima sent his men forward on the nights of April 12 and 14, but was turned back both times. Reinforced by the 27th Infantry Division, Hodge launched a massive offensive on April 19. In five days of brutal fighting, U.S. troops forced the Japanese to abandon the Machinato Line and fall back to a new line in front of Shuri. As much of the fighting in the south had been conducted by Hodge's men, Geiger's divisions entered the fray in early May. On May 4, Ushijima again counterattacked, but heavy losses caused him to halt his efforts the next day.

As the Battle of Okinawa worked through its second month, the 6th Marine Division was tasked with moving down the west side of the island to sever Japanese lines and then move eastward behind the heights of Shuri. On top stood the bombed-out, shelled-out ruins of Shuri Castle, the visible part of an elaborate network of tunnels and pillboxes that comprised Ushijima's main defensive fortifications on the island. Shuri Line was located in hills that were honeycombed with caves and passages, and the Marines had to traverse the hills to cross the line. 

As the 6th Marines moved forward, orders came down for them to capture the Sugar Loaf Hill Complex, three hills which formed the western anchor of the Shuri Line defense. Sugar Loaf Hill, the main hill, was a small, insignificant-looking mound, barely 50 feet high and about 300 yards long, situated on the southern end of Okinawa. It was part of a triangle of strongpoints set up by the Japanese defenders designed to delay and damage the attacking American forces. The other two points of the triangle were the higher terrain of Shuri Heights and an irregular-shaped set of hills that Marines called the Half Moon. 

Leathernecks of Company G, 22nd Marine Regiment were the first to bump heads with the mound, and the first to feel the heat of the interlocking fires. By the end of its struggle to take Sugar Loaf, "George" Co. would be down to 24 men of its original complement after taking over 85% casualties. When it was relieved, more units were ordered into the fight and were consumed one by one. Many times, Marines reached the summit of the mound only to be driven off or killed by the murderous fire. Eventually, the realization sank in, that the mound was an interlocking system of caves and tunnels with the firing ports so cleverly disguised as to be virtually undetectable. The tanks being used to support the assaults often fell victim to mines, artillery and antitank fire. Those which got through were ineffective in taking out the bunkers because of the camouflage.

For twelve mostly rainy days, the Marines fought the Japanese over this seemingly insignificant hillock, no more than three football fields in size. On eleven different occasions, the hill was assaulted. Men sprang into action, clamoring up the hill, only to be shelled and shot at with such accuracy and ferocity that they were forced to retreat. It became apparent that all three of these small hills would have to be taken together due to the covering fire each hill provided the others.

May 16, 1945 proved to be an especially trying day, as four times the 6th Marines reached the summit, and four times were driven back. The frustration for the Marines was that the hills they were trying to storm looked like barren little humps covered with tree stumps left by Navy gunfire. There was no outward indication of all the caves and tunnels inside. In fact, most Marines never even saw the Japanese firing at them. 

The morning of May 18, 1945 provided the breakthrough. The 1st Marines were able to take Wana Ridge, which housed Japanese 75mm guns used to shell Sugar Loaf. This allowed tanks to be brought in to encircle the hill, and to provide suppression along with artillery while Marines worked to dynamite and seal the caves. Ushijima's efforts to reinforce Sugar Loaf failed under intense American artillery, and the 6th Marines stood atop Sugar Loaf Hill, never to relinquish it. 

But the cost was tremendous. Over nearly two weeks, regiments had been reduced to company strength, and companies to platoons. Many platoons were wiped out to a man. More than 1,600 Marines died in the fight for this 50-foot-high strongpoint, with another 7,400 wounded. 

The fight for Sugar Loaf Hill would come to epitomize the brutal battle of attrition that was the experience not only in the fight for Okinawa, but also in many far-flung island battles of the Pacific campaign.

After Sugar Loaf, the 6th Marine Division advance through Naha, conducted a shore-to-shore amphibious assault on the Oroku peninsula where they battled Admiral Ota's forces for 10 days. The battle on Okinawa ended on June 21, 1945. The 6th Marines were credited with over 23,839 enemy killed or captured, and with helping to capture two-thirds of the island, but at the cost of heavy casualties, including 576 on one day, May 16 at Sugar Loaf Hill-a day described as the "bitterest" fighting of the Okinawa campaign.

One man's actions stood out on Sugar Loaf Hill: Marine Corporal James L. Day rallied two dwindling squads of men for 3 days, from May 14-17, to hold a shell hole on the hill against repeated and relentless waves of Japanese attacks. By the third day, he had lost all but one member of the two squads to enemy fire, and had saved the lives of most of his wounded men by carrying them back down the hill to safety by himself one at a time. He did this while resupplying his shell hole every night with raids on a couple disabled LVTs at the bottom of the hill, and while providing lethal covering fire for many other Marine assaults on the hill. 

Corporal Day and his surviving squad mate, with multiple burns and fragmentation wounds, only abandoned their position when ordered to do so after the third day, to allow a massive bombardment of the complex. He left the bodies of over 100 dead Japanese soldiers stacked within feet of his shell hole, most of whom he had killed himself, many of them in hand-to-hand combat. Corporal Day eventually retired as a Major General. He received the Medal of Honor for that action, but not until nearly 56 years later, and just 9 months before he passed away.

The battle of Okinawa had been among the most brutal of the Pacific War. The commanding generals on both sides died: Lt. Gen. Simon B. Buckner by Japanese artillery fire, Gen. Ushijima Mitsuru by suicide. Other U.S. losses in ground combat included 7,374 killed, 31,807 wounded, and 239 missing in action. The Navy suffered its greatest casualties for a single engagement with 4,907 killed or missing aboard 34 ships sunk and 368 damaged; 763 aircraft were lost. At sea and in the air, the Japanese expended roughly 2,800 aircraft, plus a battleship, a light cruiser, and four destroyers, with losses that can be estimated at upwards of 10,000. More than 150,000 Japanese - many of them civilians - were killed during the battle. Photo is Lt. Gen. Buckner foreground and Maj. Gen. Geiger standing next to him.

Despite the casualties, preparations were quickly underway for the long-anticipated invasion of Japan. All hands turned to in order to begin preparations to invade Kyushu. Already, Army Air Forces bomber groups that had been in Europe on V-E Day joined Marine Tactical Air Force units operating from Okinawa's airfields and thousands of American, British and Canadian carrier-based aircraft in the pre-landing bombardment that was to lay waste to the southernmost Home Island before a contemplated October invasion was set in motion.

On July 2, 1945, while Marine and Army division rested, trained, and prepared for the expected invasion of mainland Japan, the first atomic bomb was tested in New Mexico. An alternative to invasion was now a definite possibility. The morning of August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima. Three days later, Nagasaki suffered a similar fate. A few days later the Japanese surrendered. No mainland invasion would take place; the fighting was over.

For a short video on the Sugar Loaf, please go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t19rs7sQvfA
 
TWS: Join Our Teams!

Together We Served has always been run by the members for the members. Would you like to make a difference and join our TWS Task Force to help our military brothers and sisters get the most benefit from our website?

We have several teams that are designed to do just that.

VPA-(Volunteer Profile Assistants)- If you spend several hours a day on TWS and know your way around the site, this may be the team for you.

VPA's are our voice and face of TWS. They are usually the first contact a new member has with the site. They help our members complete their profiles, stand watch on our Help Desk, verify our new members to keep the pretenders & wannabe's out, add units to our new members profiles so that they feel connected with an "also there" link, identify our WWII & Korean Vets for upgrades to Lifetime Membership.

Don't let that long list of duties scare you. It's actually pretty easy.

Living History Team- If you enjoy talking one on one with some of our older vets and would like to help them tell their story, this is the team for you.

Our Living History team works to make sure that no story is left untold. They find uncompleted Reflections and encourage the member to finish telling their story. They reach out to our WWII & Korean vets to assist them in completing their profiles & telling their stories. Sometimes it means picking up the phone or dealing with snail mail, but the stories that come out of this contact have been awesome. If you assist a member in telling their story and it is selected for a Voices, you recieve a "by line".

Forums Team- Are you a frequent poster to the forums? If you are, this is the team for you. Our Forum team both moderates our forums and helps to create new topics of conversation.

Memorial Team- Do you have a passion for making sure that all of our Fallen are not forgotten? This is the team for you. We have Fallen profiles that have either been orphaned or created by someone who has not been online for a very long time and there is nothing in those profiles. TWS is working to make sure that all of our Fallen profiles are as complete as possible. Within the Memorial Team are era specific specialists for GWOT and Vietnam. 

Profile Integrity- Do you have a good knowledge of military history in regards to ranks, units and who did what when? Do you have an eye for detail and like solving mysteries?  Our Profile Integrity team goes through our new joins and our existing profiles looking for both pretenders and duplicates. Weeding out those that just don't make sense.

Memorial A-Team- These are our "go to" specialists who have the knowledge to complete a profile and work with Admin to make sure our Roll of Honor is complete.

Unit Historian- Do you know a lot about the history of your unit? Our unit pages have awards, battle timelines and histories that are waiting for someone to complete them.

Save Our Stories (SOS)-  SOS is our newest team for those that enjoy talking to other vets and help them make a video of their story. Done as audio or video, the team member interviews the veteran and assembles photos to go along with the veterans stories. The Edgar Harrell video below is the result of one of those interviews.

If you would like to join any of these teams, please let Admim know. Send us an email to admin@togetherweserved.com with your name, service branch and team you are interested in so we can get you started.
 
TWS Bulletin Board

If you wish to make a post to our new Bulletin Board - People Sought, Assistance Needed, Jobs Available in Your Company, Reunions Pending, Items for Sale or Wanted, Services Available or Wanted, Product or Service Recommendations, Discounts for Vets, Announcements, Death Notices - email it to us at admin@togetherweserved.com.

Announcements
Have Your Membership Sponsored!
If you are a "free" member of Together We Served and would like to contact those you served with but can't afford to pay for it this time of year, simply log back in and accept membership from one of our partners.

Volunteer of the Month

1LT Denny Eister
US Army
(Served 1965-1968)

Shadow Box: 
http://army.togetherweserved.com/bio/Denny.Eister

1LT Denny Eister has been a member of Army Together We Served since Feb 12, 2010

In 2010, TWS formed the "Memorial Team". The team is made up of members who have taken on the task of completing Fallen profiles for those that have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. To date, Denny has 1,381 profiles that he has researched and that does not count the thousands that he has helped complete for other people. If you want to know how to complete a Fallen profile and do it right, ask Denny.

Thank you Denny, for your dedication to honoring our Fallen. Your efforts make TWS a unique archive and a place of peace for the families of those we lost.

TWS Video of the Month
Up Close and Personal Video Interview With TWS Member Cpl Edgar Harrell, WWII Veteran and USS Indianapolis Survivor.
 

VA and Other News

Vietnam "Blue Water Navy" Presumptive Rights
Organizations such as VVA, DAV and others are featuring the petition attached. Would you please consider doing the same? This petition is critical to the lives of many Vietnam Navy Veterans and future Veterans frm all branches. The burn pits, Gulf War diseases, and nuclear exposure are on the VA list for claims denial. Stop them now by endorsing this legislation!

Please sign our petition asking Congress to pass House Bill H 969 and Senate Bill S 681 and give us our benefits. 

https://www.change.org/p/u-s-house-of-representatives-give-the-vietnam-blue-water-navy-veterans-their-presumptive-rights?recruiter=174924799&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

AO1 Raymond Melninkaitis
rgm1220@sbcglobal.net

Senators Let Female WWII Pilots into Arlington Cemetery
Two dozen U.S. senators want the Army to reverse a policy change barring female World War II pilots from having their ashes placed at Arlington National Cemetery.

The pilots are known as Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs. They flew military aircraft in noncombat roles to free up male pilots for combat. They were considered civilians until Congress granted them veteran status in 1977.

For years, the women were permitted to have their ashes placed at Arlington. But last year, the Army reversed course. Cemetery officials say WASPs never should have been let in and that space in the cemetery is limited.

On Thursday, a group of senators led by Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson and Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal called on Acting Army Secretary Patrick Murphy to restore WASPs' eligibility.

Veteran's Benefits
Many veterans are aware of federal benefits, but very few know many states also offer great benefits to their veterans. State benefits range from free college and employment resources to free hunting and fishing licenses. Most states also offer tax breaks for their veterans and specialized license plates, some states even provide their veterans with cash bonuses just for serving in the military.
 
Please visit the online site shown below for a handy summary of the benefits each state and territory offers, each summary page also has a link directly to the specific State Department of Veterans Affairs.
http://www.military.com/benefits/veteran-state-benefits/state-veterans-benefits-directory.html?ESRC=banner.nl

VA Appeals Judges Face Disciplinary Actions
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced it proposed disciplinary action against three Board of Veterans' Appeals (Board) attorneys, and has filed a Complaint against two Board Veterans Law judges. Accountability actions against the Board judges have been referred to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), which has direct jurisdiction over cases concerning administrative law judges. The actions were taken for reasons of misconduct based on information received as part of an Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation that revealed a pattern of inappropriate emails that were racist and sexist in tone. VA is conducting a review of appeals handled by these individuals. At this time, VA has no indication that any veteran's appeal was unjustly influenced by their conduct.
 
Veteran’s Choice Program
To enhance veterans' access to care and eliminate delays in Choice provider payment, community providers under the Choice program will no longer be required to submit medical records prior to payment being made. To facilitate the change, VA has modified the Choice Program contract, making it easier for Health Net and TriWest to promptly pay providers. Veterans seeking to use the Veterans Choice Program or wanting to know more about it, can call 1-866-606-8198 FREE to confirm their eligibility and to schedule an appointment. For more details about the Veterans Choice Program and VA's progress visit the following site: http://www.va.gov/opa/choiceact/
 

Member Submissions

Terminal Marine Goes on One Last Ride
By Williams Martinez
 
The Marion, Illinois VA Medical Center echoed with the rumble of motorcycles and fire and police sirens as more than 200 bikers and supporters came out to go on one last bike ride with Veteran Walter "Vernell" Holderfield last wish. Three lanes of bikers from across Southern Illinois were led by Holderfield as he rode on the back of a Harley-Davidson trike, driven by Navy Veteran Mike Harris. "Riding used to be my therapy," Holderfield said.

It's been about ten years since Holderfield was on a motorcycle because he has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and does not have the strength to ride alone. Today, Holderfield got to ride one last time as he joked about this being an early birthday gift. He turns 64 in June, but realizes with his diagnosis he may not live that long.

Six months ago, Holderfield was battling depression and felt useless in his condition. He was on the brink of giving up, when he decided to reach out for help.

"There's a reason for me to still be alive and I think this must be it. I hope that this experience will be shared and that it will inspire other Veterans to reach out and get help if they need it," Holderfield said.

Over 200 bikers and supporters came out to ride with Holderfield to show him that he is not alone.

Six months ago, Holderfield was battling depression and felt useless in his condition. He was on the brink of giving up, when he decided to reach out for help. He was alone in his depression, but today he lives and talks with other Veterans and what he considers his Marion VA family.

In addition to being a father and husband, Holderfield was a member of a rock band and spent countless hours on the road, riding his motorcycle. He recalls back to 1991 when he purchased a motorcycle and a van around the same time. Within six years, the motorcycle had over 70,000 miles on it, while the van only had 10,000 miles – it's no wonder that Holderfield longed for one last ride. Photo of veteran Vernell Holderfield with the two nurses who made his bike ride possible, Jessica Watkins, RN (left) and Monica Paisley, CNA. (Photo by Richard Sitler, the Southern Illinoisan)

These acts of kindness are a daily occurrence in VA health care; however, this incident stands out because of Holderfield's enthusiasm and willingness to share his experience with others who may need help, but might be on the fence about asking for it.

Holderfield would joke with one of his nurses, Monica Paisley, about riding on a motorcycle and how much he misses it. After a couple weeks of bantering back and forth, Paisley decided to make it happen for him. She reached out to his family and physician to make sure it was doable and the answer from both was a resounding "YES!"

Another gift that Holderfield received was a handmade leather key chain. Jessica Watkins, RN, made numerous calls to various bike shops and had no luck in finding what Holderfield wanted. Jessica then did what our nurses do best, she went above and beyond for our Veteran and she personally crafted one for Holderfield. She took a leather hair clip with fringe and modified it to make that perfect biker's key chain.

Holderfield loves that key chain so much that he has requested to be buried with it. "I have always gotten my healthcare here at the Marion VA, I couldn't ask for anything better" said Holderfield with pride.

Both nurses, Monica Paisley and Jessica Watkins, rode side by side with Holderfield as his VA angels. Holderfield wouldn't have had it any other way.


A Medal for a Veteran's Wife
By Bill Simpkins
U.S. Air Force 1952-1956

It was almost 60 years ago when my four-year hitch was up with the United States Air Force. It is amazing when I consider the details that emerge when I think back on those days. Experiences were varied and mixed. Almost all are wonderful recollections of that serious commitment and the many days fulfilling it. Some were not so great, but since I did not personally have to engage in combat, and stacking those considerations up against the difficulties I know a lot of other airmen had to face, I dare not complain even the slightest. Even separation from my wife and children for a year and a half in a foreign land; while not the finest of memories, was endurable. The regimens of duty, some of which were dirty and physically challenging, some late duty and/or awfully early, and on occasion obliged to follow orders that were objectionable and resented; all these were paled by comparison to what I might have had to carry out in exposure to enemy combat. No; no complaints from me. 

For those who went before me and took a lot more on the chin than I ever had to; I hold them in such high regard and respect. I appreciate what they did for me, and for all our fellow Americans. Along with plenty of others, I too, give them credit and praise. So it is with that in meaningful intent, and in no way to minimize their contributions to our freedoms, I wish to recognize some others who are not often brought to the fore and accorded the accolades they deserve. That is the faithful wives of the service men; usually adopting a low profile in the whole scheme of things, but ever so much a part of their men accomplishing the goals of their commitments.

Most of the guys with whom I served were about the same age as me; late teens and early twenties, and a lot of us were married. We often became friends and shared meals, game nights, or just times of chatting together. Some of our most enduring friendships were begun with them. Our lives and backgrounds were often different in many ways, but the things we did share in common were paramount in our order of interests and priorities at that time of our lives. We knew when others were hurting or when they were happy. While we didn't talk about it much, we all knew that the wives felt keenly their vulnerability in that their men were military, and could be subject to life threatening situations. They knew their lives would be cut off abruptly from the hopes and aspirations of our youth if their man should suddenly be lost. So it became an unspoken acceptance, and the brave hearts of those ladies could have conquered the world. They would, over the coming years, be obliged to face anxiety and uncertainty often. Each had her own story, and while I don't know all of them, many were much like that of my own wife. She, and all those ladies, deserved then and still deserve a medal. 

Patty and I had graduated from high school together and were married the following December, five months after I had enlisted in the Air Force. Both of us were fairly mature for young kids, but nothing about life or school can fully prepare you for married life. Marriage, in such a case, is an "on the job training" exercise. For the fleeting times where we got it all wrong there were mountain-top successes that lifted us above it all. We had our first child a year later and were doing great, when the brogan hit the floor. I was given a foreign assignment that would fill the last year and a half of my enlistment. I had to leave my wife and infant son, and we already had a second child on the way. We had no idea how thoroughly this was going to test our mettle, mature us, and grow our unity. Victories often come from adversities, and our "can do" spirits took us across the proverbial goal line.

I felt the frustration of our separation as I completed that assignment over 5,000 miles away. We exchanged letters almost daily, and sometimes even cassette tapes. In spite of my sense of remote connection, I had the easier of the two of us. Patty found herself trying to live with relatives some of the time, but that was very difficult. She had a little boy under two years old, and she was expecting another child. Wherever she was felt like an imposition, and personality conflicts made the situation far less than ideal. We had a car, but she had not gotten a license before I shipped out, and had to deal with the complications of learning to drive and then pass the driver's exam. Different family members would drive her to doctor's appointments for prenatal care, but that became burdensome too. When the baby was due, she had to persuade someone to care for our little boy, take her to the hospital, then pick her up after our little daughter was born. Then, nobody really had a place for this young mother with two little kids. So she had to find an inexpensive apartment. All these things she faced for that year and a half, and she coped like a champion. Our shared faith in God was our source of strength and confidence during those challenging times, and when I returned to the states and was honorably discharged, she was the essence of maturity and motherhood. She had upheld me in her prayers all those days, and stood tall among women of worth. Oh, how she deserved a medal. Sadly, that is not something the military can evaluate and reward that way, but if that could be done, she would be decorated with medals and great honor.

This is such an abbreviated sketch of the service my Patty accomplished; ostensibly for me, but it unquestionably inures to the whole country, just as much as mine. She did not wear the uniform, but she washed it and ironed it many times. She did not march in the formation, salute the officers or stand at attention or parade rest. But every time I did one of those duties out of privilege, she was right there behind me doing as much and more. With this bit of tribute, I stand erect, salute and award her the badge of merit, a medal for commitment and courage unsurpassed indeed. And she will humbly refuse the awards, but will be tomorrow what she has been all these years; deserving of a veteran's medal.


Reunions

VP-90 2016 Reunion
VP-90 Reunion at Wright-Patterson AFB will be held from July 8 to July 9, 2016.  Early arrivals are welcome to participate in an ice breaker on the July 7, 2016.

Dinners will be held on the both the 8th and 9th. The Business Meeting and Auction is on Friday the 8th. The highlight event will be a "Dinner under the Wings" on Saturday the 9th in the Museum. The departing breakfast on Sunday the 10th can be held at the hotel as breakfast is included in the room charge.

Following is the best information on Rooms available. 
The Air Force base is having drill week and will more than likely have no rooms available but if you want to try they will accept reservations 30 days out the number 937-257-3451.
            
The Hope The Hope Hotel & Richard C. Holbrooke Conference Center located at Building #823 Area A, Gate 12A Wright-Patterson Air Force  Base, Ohio 45433 (you can get to the hotel and Air Force Museum without having to go on the Base). Minnie has arranged for rooms to be set aside for us, the direct number to the hotel is 937-879-2696; make sure you ask to the VP-90 group (breakfast is included). You may want to ask what beds in what rooms are available to make sure they meet your needs, if they don't ask for the manager to see if something can be arranged. Other hotels in the area have been checked out and are not very good.

​Under the Registration Tab above you can download and print the form send to Minnie for the cost of the dinners. We need to get them in as early as possible; the drop dead time for sending the money is 30 May so Minnie can give firm numbers to the caterers.

Also under the Registration Tab you can find links to Attractions in Dayton, directions for points of interest, local phone numbers of interest.

http://www.vp-90reunion.com/events-and-times.html
http://www.vp-90reunion.com/registration-and-useful-info.html
http://www.vp-90reunion.com/photos.html
http://www.vp-90reunion.com/photos1.html
http://www.vp-90reunion.com/update-your-information-here.html

Vet Info


Remembering the Gulf War
Twenty five years ago more than 600,000 American military members hastily deployed to the Middle East in order to liberate the nation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. Nearly 300 did not return home to their families.

We'll never forget the sacrifices made. Help us honor those who have their lives during Desert Storm by donating your used Military boots.

We are setting up a temporary memorial to honor those who lost their lives during Desert Storm. 

Boots can be dropped off at the Information Desk of the museum in Columbus, Ga or mailed to us at: Education Department, NIF, 1775 Legacy way suite 220, Columbus GA 31903.

Eugene McCarthy Memorial Run/Walk (5K) 
Saturday, June 4th, 2016 
Marine Park, Brooklyn, NY 11234 
Registration  8am at the Park, Race Begins at 9am        
$20 Registration Fee, $25 Day of Event

Marine Major Eugene McCarthy is a 1973 graduate of Nazareth Regional High School. Following graduation from Nazareth, he went on to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. Serving his country through active service in the U. S. Marine Corps, he rose to the rank of Major. His career path included training as a Navy diver and paratrooper, having completed the very challenging Army Ranger School. His spirit of commitment to his country continued as he became a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, graduating first in his Academy class.  As a Special Agent he volunteered for several tours of duty in South America as part of Operation Snowcap.

In 1991 during Operation Desert Storm, Eugene gave his life for his country while flying a helicopter in Saudi Arabia.
Eugene is memorialized at the Major McCarthy Memorial Triangle located at East 31st Street, Avenue N, and Kings Highway in Brooklyn.

In addition to honoring Major McCarthy, proceeds from this event benefit the Eugene McCarthy Fund at Nazareth Regional High School to provide students the benefit of an outstanding High School education.

To register for the Run & Race Sponsorship Opportunities, go to: www.nazalumni.org or www.nazarethrhs.org   

 
Vets Week Aurora, IL
The Veterans Advisory Council (AVAC) is hosting Vets Week Aurora.  This historic inaugural 9 day event will kick off on Armed Forces Day, May 21st and run through Memorial Day, May 30th. We have something planned for everyone of all ages.
 
Vets Week's mission is to raise much needed funds for Veterans in Need, how you ask?  By offering scholarships to family members of Veterans, to assisting in Vets housing, to helping with job placement for Vets, to supporting Service Dogs for Vets, etc.

Click here to see the full size calendar.

Looking For

James Henry
My name is Pauline Tuckey, I live in Fairford in Gloucestershire, England. I am trying to find my father who served with the United States Air force. He met my mum in 1952 or 1953 when he was at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire. England. I was born in March 1954. His name is James Henry, I would estimate that he was born about 1933 as my aunt said that they wanted to get married but his parents wouldn't allow it. The law at that time in England was that you had to get permission to marry if you were under 21 years old.. I am assuming that he would be about mid 80;s now. I know that i probably have left it to late but out of respect for my mum I didn't do anything until she died a few years ago.

I would be very grateful for any help that you can give me. It may be to late for him but I might have family somewhere that I. would like to get to know..

Many thanks for any help you can give me. 

Pauline Tuckey
paulinemartin46@aol.com


My name is Melanie Marshall. I am on the search for my father again, last I spoke to him was April 2014.

Eddie Smith D.O.B. 08/28/1948. Last known place he was arrested(missed court) in LA 3/3/2016 so we know he is Alive. I am hoping to send you this and someone may be able to reconize him. 
I know he receives medical thru the VA and SSDI.

Please ask him to contact me, his sister Willie Mae, or his best friend/ brother in arms and life Benjamin Hoff.

I thank you for your time,
Melanie Marshall

Contact information:
Melanie Marshall (808)931-0644 
Willie Mae Leake (901) 362-0686
Benjamin Hoff (808) 861-6398 

This is my brother's BIOLOGICAL father. My mom met him in Pusan (Busan), South Korea in the summer of 1969 at a going-away party for her friend who was marrying an American GI. The man in the picture possibly had the letters "KBB" on his Army uniform (partial name?) and a tattoo on his right forearm (it appears to be a lion standing on its hind legs, but use your discretion). He was stationed/duty in Pusan, South Korea and was from Hawaii. My mom said after her affair with this young man who was between the ages of 18-22 (25 to be safe), he gave her a picture of himself and he went on his way...she would never see him again, but in March 1970, she gave birth to their son. She was not with any other person that entire year. Due to differences in language and some memory loss, my mom has no name for him, but we hope someone recognizes the man in the picture. I would LOVE for my friends to share and ask your friends to share. Feel free to tag your military friends and your Hawaiian friends. Please make this go viral and share!

UPDATE 3/16/16 - Mom remembers he mentioning his own mother worked with fabric (either sold, sewed or made fabrics or fashion). He was interested in my mom's shirt, and was feeling the material because he recognized it was not a common style in Korea. Mom also recalls that he loved to swim. She didn't know how to swim, but he kept going into the pool.

Mimi Arcala 
mimiarcala@iwannarelax.com

Gyroscope-1956
"Offering a free copy of "8th Infantry Division - Gyroscope 1956".  This books has some wear and the back spline has come unglued but it is repairable, but other than that the pages are in good condition. I only ask that you pay for the shipping."

If interested please contact me:
Steven Fitzgerald
smfitztx@gmail.com

5th Motor Transport Squadron
Looking for anyone stationed with Francis Hendricks (Frank) at 5th Motor Transport Sq., (5th Mule Train) outside of Seoul Korea, from April 1960 to April 1961. I fell off a Duce and a half while refueling the Guard Tower. I injured my right heel. 

Frank Hendricks
216 Roanoke Dr.
Kill Devil Hills,NC 27948. 
E-Mail Adress: fhendricks27948@yahoo.com


Naval Air Station, Columbus Ohio Story
Looking for anyone and information associated with the Naval Air Station located in Columbus Ohio. The base was in operation for about 17 years when naval cutbacks closed it in June 1959. I was stationed there from 1957 to closing. I am compiling the story and history of NAS Columbus, to be posted on this website to honor the service personnel and base. If you have any information, photos or comment, please contact:
​
Bruce Ramsey at email – ramseyb123@gmail.com

Platoon 2078 MCRD San Diego 1967
Looking for anyone who was in Plt.# 2078 MCRD San Diego, Ca. from 9-1967 thru 12-20-1967 who has dress blue's graduation picture.
 
My e-mail address is: tommiec@ameritech.net

Pacific Northwest Military Veterans
Bob Blank, is starting up a monthly lunch meeting for retired military pilots/crew who live around the Pacific Northwest – doesn’t matter when they served, where they served or what they flew. Pilots/crew can stop by the Camano Center (606 Arrowhead Road) on Camano Island for a $6. meal and good conversation. The first meeting is Thurs., March 17th at 11:30am.

Since the group is brand-new, the first meeting will be lunch and a discussion about possibilities for the group’s future.

Bob can be reached at 425-310-7109 or tougholdbirdbob@gmail.com

Photo of Stanley S. Shultz
I received SFC Stanley S Shultz's casket flag his uniform and his medals plus 2 newspaper clippings from an estate sale in Chesterfield Township, MI. He served in Wonsan, Korea and was awarded the silver star on Jan. 7 1951. He also was awarded the Purple Heart and Korea service medal. He was in the 2nd Infantry Division, 38th Regiment. That's all I know and I wanted to find a picture to complete his shadow box.

Alan Simpson
sima10332@student.trentonschools.com


Dog Tag
Found these dog tags in with mine. Do not know where I had gotten them. The name does not ring a bell. I would like to return these to either the Marine or their descendants. 

terrydurrance@msn.com


Captain Kirk USAF
I served at Ubon Air base in Thailand. 1970-1971. 16th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 8th Field Maint. Squadron, working on AC-130 Gunships. I served 8 years in the USAF. Chaplain Kirk’s rank was Captain. He was instrumental in my coming to Christ. I have been a Pastor for 42 years. i wish to thank him for his dedication as an AF Chaplain and to thank him for making a difference in my life. If he is alive i wish to connect with him again.

Ed Bedrosain
pastorbedrosian@gmail.com


Platoon 3014 MCRD Feb '72
Rick Kirchoff wants to hear from any recruit that was in his platoon 3014 at MCRD San Diego, Feb 72-May 72. 
~Rick Kirchoff
rkirchoff@gmail.com


USS Kalamazoo-1975 Christmas Gift
I'm trying to find the person's name that served on the USS Kalamazoo in and sent this zippo lighter to his dad for Christmas in 1975.  His dad lived in the area of Blanchard, Oklahoma. I would like to return it to him, or his family.

The back said Xmas 1975.

Thanks!
Brad Patterson
bradpatterson@pldi.net



1st Battalion, 11th Airborne
Just wondering if you can help me find some of my friends that were in my unit, 511th Headquarters 1st Battalion, 11th Airborne. Don't know their last names for we all called each other by nickname or first name. Thanks.
~Robert "Willy" Wilhelmthe
(1953 -1955)

 
 
Letters to the Editor

General
Very worthwhile stories, keep them coming.
~Peter Brady

This month's Dispatch was excellent reading - maybe the best you've published! Thank you for all that you do to keep Army Veterans informed.

~Fred Simmonds
U.S. Army 1969-1977

Operation Judgment - Post War Death Squads 
Your story on Operation Judgement was outstanding.

I still have a vivid memory in 1945 of my second grade teacher telling the class that even though we were fighting Hitler, he had the correct answers on how to deal with the "Jewish problem" and that we would eventually employ the same methods in the U S.

That was the first I heard that the Jews were a problem and according to her, we were going to be done away with.
Scary news for a 6 year old!
~Mike Grabel
U.S. Marine Corps
1958 - 1961


I served aboard the USS J. Douglas Blackwood, DE219 during the time of the Korean War. I am a member of Together We Served, but I have never subscribed to your publication, but wish I had.

I was a Radioman, RMN3, and close friend of Arthur Palm who was then an ET3. I am still corresponding with him by email. He sent me a copy of your recent publication in which there was article called "Operation Judgement," an account of Hitler's "Rise and Fall" which I read with great interest. With your permission, I would like to copy this article and send it to others on my email address list, who may or may not have been in the service, and may or may not have lived during that time or might need to be informed of the true story of that time. If you will permit this request I would be grateful,
~Harold E. "Sparky" Sparks
U.S. Navy 
1947 - 1952


I'm a former USAF officer and aircrew member commissioned in 1974 and graduating Navigator training in April 1975. I often read through 'Dispatches' whenever it appears in my Email box.
 
This month I read the article on "Operation Judgement" and its description of the events immediately post WWII.
 
The article struck me for more than one reason. My father T5 Allan Simon, of Union City NJ (1921 - 2009) enlisted in the US Army and was permitted to finish college before entering the war in 1943. As a young American Jew, but an American first and foremost, Dad felt the need to serve - and volunteered as a combat medic. Before the war was done, he'd been awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts European Theater.
 
The second reason - in the article the organizations described as the "Din" squads with the explanation that "Din" is from the Hebrew word for 'revenge'.
 
It's actually more fitting than that. The word "Din" is certainly Hebrew - but properly translated the word means "Judgement".
 
Fitting, wouldn't you say?
~Ronald Simon
U.S. Air Force
1974-1980


Just a small item, but needed to keep history real. Concerning the Jewish doctor that treated Hitler's mother. The idea that Hitler hated the Jews due to the doctor letting his mother die of cancer is a post war manufactured legend. Hitler did not blame the doctor. Indeed the doctor was one of a very few Jews that was not persecuted by the Nazis and was able to maintain his practice throughout the war. Not that it excuses the atrocity that Hitler reigned on the Jews. 

Keep up the good work. I read the full dispatch every time I get it 
~Bryand Spencer
U.S. Army
1966 - 1972


Dangers at Sea
I read this story about "Danger at Sea." The collision of the USS Belknap and USS Kennedy. I was stationed in Germany at Landstuhl Army Medical Center. I was notified about these injured sailors and was told they would be coming to our hospital. After we gave them initial care, I was on a team to transport them to San Antonio, Texas U.S. Army Burn Center. When I returned to Germany, my wife could not believe I was able to make the return trip so quickly so that we could have our Thanksgiving together. I have a picture that was taken when we arrived at the hospital. It was so good to read this story from a first-hand account. Thank You.
~Pedro Provencio Jr.
U.S. Army 1962-1982


Thanks to my high school buddy, Rollie Schellhas, I received your latest dispatch. Thank you for the article about the Belknap. I wasn’t aboard that night of the collision, but I was as shocked as any to see video of my wounded shipmates on stretchers and planes circling my smoldering home of three years dead in the water - a burnt shell of a warship. 

I’ve passed your dispatch on to board members of the USS BELKNAP Association. While I can’t speak for our association webmaster, Bob Gilhooly, I can ask for permission to for him to link to your dispatch. 

Thank you for what you do with your website and to one of your many loyal subscribers - Rollie Schellhas!
~Dick Tremain
U.S. Navy


I was aboard the USS Graham County AGP1176, stationed in Naples Italy, when the Belknap was towed in and moored alongside us immediately after the collision.

Our quartermasters went around the ship confiscating as many cameras as possible, as they did not desire any unauthorized photos of the ship. I managed to take several of it over the next few days.

She was a sorry sight, but still maintained a proud presence, even though all of her small boats and secondary armament were destroyed. Over the next couple of weeks, she was stripped of all damage above the main deck and all deck openings were closed off, some with temp hatches for access.

They sold off everything in her small stores. I was fortunate to purchase a 35mm camera and accessories at a very good price.

Once her damaged top structures were cleared, and her propellers and rudders removed and welded onto the fantail, she was towed back to the US.

I had the pleasure of seeing her again several years later, although I can't recall where.

Her old beauty had been restored and she was once again majestic.
~Gerald Carlson
U.S. Navy


VA travel reimbursement changes 
I was pleased to read your recent newsletter. What caught my attention was the info concerning VA travel reimbursement changes. You made mention of a bill being introduced by two members of Congress requesting an overhaul of the program. The article made no mention specifically about the bill's title or number, which would be helpful when I contact my Representatives to support such legislation. Please if possible provide this information to all so we as Veterans can request our local leaders 
~Scott J Clark Jr
U.S. Marine Corps

Book Reviews
 
The Truman Legacy
By L. Lawrence Waxler

 
Waxler has written a well-documented, well-researched book filled with historical facts that present a somewhat convincing hypothesizes on the policies of Harry Truman during his presidency including how American post World War II foreign policies led to the emergence of communist and radical Islamic nations. 

To be sure, Truman's foreign policy decisions have been scrutinized more extensively than most other presidents. The firing of General Macarthur, the Korean War, and Truman's handling of the Soviet Union filled Truman's years in office with controversy, beginning with him allowing the Soviet Union to invade Berlin without the use of other Allied forces. However, this was done by the urging of Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, World War II allied commander and military strategists.

Waxler writes Truman fired MacArthur for offering a plan for an American victory by refusing MacArthur’s request to bomb communist China with nuclear weapons. Waxler points out this resulted in more years of bloodshed with over 54,000 Americans killed and thousands more wounded. What, however, would have been the consequences if nuclear weapons had been used? As it was, nearly 2.5 million civilians on both side had been killed, wounded or missing.  
    
Truman and his advisors and cabinet members as well as elected leaders were adamant against the use of nuclear weapons. They too saw the value of a “Limited War” -  limited in time, in location, in objectives and in means. The concept of limited war was also used in the Vietnam War by the United States under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson as part of a strategy to contain the spread of Communism without provoking a wider confrontation with the Soviet Union. When this book was written in 2002, President George W. Bush was waging a limited war in Iraq and later in Afghanistan.

Waxler writes “Limited War has been a failure because we refuse to go on the offensive and use all of our resources to defeat the enemy.” In this reviewer’s option, it would be foolish to use nuclear weapons in a total war. The results would a nuclear holocaust with no winners.

In defense of Truman's presidency, it was a turning point in foreign affairs, as the United States engaged in an internationalist foreign policy and renounced isolationism; something the American public favored in WW I and WW II until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Truman helped establish the United Nations in 1945 (although its effectiveness might be in question), issued the Truman Doctrine in 1947 to contain Communism, and got the $13 billion Marshall Plan enacted to rebuild Western Europe. Truman oversaw the Berlin Airlift of 1948 and the creation of NATO in 1949. However, he was unable to stop Communists from taking over China.

The author wrote his book in 2002 with a postscript added in 2006. Because it is slightly dated, some of what he wrote has been eclipsed. For instance, Iran stopped working on its nuclear capabilities due to negotiating with European nations - including Russia. Osama bin-Laden was killed by SEAL Team 6. Top leadership of ISIS have been killed either by special operations forces or strategic bombing and 40% of the territory they captured is Syria has been reclaimed, thanks in large part to Russians bombing their strongholds. 
The world that took shape under Truman, starkly divided into hostile, nuclear-armed camps, would largely hold its shape for more than four decades dictating the policy of limited war. 

Recommend this book to those who want to find out how Truman’s legacy did in fact lead to the emergence of communist and radical Islamic nations. 

About the Author
Born in Springfield, Mass., M. Lawrence Waxler served four years in the U.S. Air Force during the tumultuous years of the Cold War. He was stationed at Brize-Norton, a British Royal Air Force base shared with the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC) near Oxford, England. In July 1958, his SAC bomb wing squadron was ordered to Torrejon, Spain, just north of Madrid. This was in response to Soviet Premier Khrushchev’s warning of military intervention during the Lebanon crisis if America sent military forces to assist in the threat of a civil war between Maronite Christians and Muslims. Ignoring the Khrushchev’s threat, American land and naval force arrived on July 16, 1958. The Soviets backed down from this show of force.

Four years later Waxler became a civilian technical adviser for SAC Bomb Wing at Homestead AFB, Florida during the period between the Bay of Pigs political fiasco (1961) and the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962).  He then worked as a logistical Administrator in Miami-Dade County, Florida. 
 
 

CONNECTING VETERANS SINCE 2003