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November 2016

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Note from the Editor

Greetings! In this editon we have some amazing stories from WWII. From Audie Murphy's heroic actions to the story of the battles of Bataan and Corregidor to a first hand account of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

I hope you enjoy them.

1/ Minoru Wada's Last Combat Mission
2/ Profiles in Courage: Audie Murphy - America's Most Decorated Veteran
3/ Military Myths and Legends: Leadership and the Janitor
4/ Battlefield Chronicles: Bataan and Corregidor
5/ Pearl Harbor - December 4-7, 1941

6/ Take United 93 Down!
7/ TWS: VA Buddy Statements
8/ TWS Bulletin Board
9/ Letters to the Editor
10/ Book Reviews 

Please send any comments or member-written articles to Bulletin Board Posts and Reunion Announcements to

LtCol Mike Christy, US Army (Ret)

Minoru Wada's Last Combat Mission
Very little is known about the life and times of Minoru Wada except for a moment in time during August 1945; but what a remarkable moment that was.

Minoru Wada was born in the United States and followed the Japanese-American Kibei custom of traveling to Japan for his education. He attended the University of Tokyo and then the Kyushu Military Academy. The Kibei practice was to return to America after their schooling but in Wada's case, the Pacific war broke out while he was in Japan and he was pressed into service in the Imperial Japanese Army. Wada became a junior officer in the Army's transportation section and by 1945 he was serving with the Japanese 100th Infantry Division on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, Lt. Gen. Jiro Harada commanding.

As the war progressed, Wada detested all the killing and he became very disillusioned with the nature of war. He never believed in the warring character exhibited by the "Old Guard" of the Japanese military. After seeing war up close, more than anything he wanted peace to return to the Japanese islands and to the Japanese people. As the Pacific war moved past the Philippines, past Iwo Jima, and was passing Okinawa, Wada's anti-war feelings began to fume as the fighting and dying on Mindanao seemed more and more pointless. Then, in the first week of August 1945, Wada was captured by American troops - defected, according to some sources - but in either case, he became a Prisoner of War.

Japanese Prisoners of War were routinely interrogated by Intelligence personnel but the interviewers found an unusually sympathetic subject in Minoru Wada. He shared his disillusioned feelings about the war and described his strong wish for the war to end. He said he would do anything, even sacrifice his own life, to stop the war and bring ultimate peace to the Japanese people. The Army Intelligence officers offered him the chance to help the Americans end the war on Mindanao but he initially refused the request, since bombing his own countrymen was something he was unwilling to do. Wada then reconsidered after going through a thought process that was eerily similar to what U.S. President Harry Truman had just gone through days before and it led Wada to the same place: perhaps it was better for a smaller number of people to be killed now than for vastly larger numbers to be killed later. For Truman, this led to his decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan in the hopes of avoiding greater losses in an invasion; for Wada, this led to his decision to help U.S. forces destroy Lt. Gen. Harada's well concealed headquarters complex in the hopes of avoiding greater losses from prolonged and pointless fighting. 

As a transportation officer, Wada had an excellent knowledge of the island and its terrain. He also knew the key locations of the command structure of the Imperial Japanese forces. Wada pointed out the headquarters location on maps but the rugged terrain and dense jungle of Mindanao's Kibawe-Talomo Trail region meant that the only sure way for the Americans to find the complex would be for Wada to take them there. Thus the stage was set for one of the most unusual raids of the war.

On August 9, 1945, the day the second atomic bomb of the war was dropped on Nagasaki, Marine Bombing Squadron VMB-611 flying PBJ-1D Mitchell bombers and Marine Fighting Squadron VMF-115 "Joe's Jokers" flying F4U Corsair fighters prepared for take-off from Moret Field in Zamboanga, Mindanao bound for Gen. Harada's headquarters. Wada helped brief the pilots and then the pilot of the lead plane had to add the names of three unusual passengers to his flight manifest: Army Ground Liaison Officer and Strike Coordinator Maj. Mortimer Jordan, interpreter Sgt. Charles Imai (Wada did not speak English), and Imperial Japanese Army 2st Lt. Minoru Wada.  Still dressed in his Japanese Army uniform, Wada sat in the radio-gunner's position and looked for familiar landmarks. Speaking through Sgt. Imai, he was able to direct the bombers right to his own headquarters complex. The strike group then dropped 22,000 pounds of bombs on the area plus a healthy dose of 5-inch rockets.

Wada also identified a number of additional critical targets, and the Marines pounded the target areas with napalm, fragmentation bombs, rockets and heavy machine gun fire. The raid was extremely successful and the headquarters network was thoroughly demolished. Major Jordan later told debriefing officers, "The Japanese officer put us zero on the target and we did the rest - maybe overdid it." The loss of the 100th Division's command and control establishment virtually ended the fighting on Mindanao overnight. 

Many aspects of this mission remained classified and the full details have still not been disclosed.  For Wada, the raid brought him mixed feelings, but he did not regret his actions and firmly believed he helped save the lives of many for the sacrifice of a few.
In the peace that followed, Wada was given a new identity and appearance and a place to live by the U.S. Government. He was then allowed to disappear into history.

Photo One: Sgt. Charles T. Imai, right, interpreter, explains to the 1st Marine Air Wing fighter and bomber pilots the nature of the target as described by Minoru Wada. Maj. Mortimer H. Jordan, the air strike coordinator, stands on the left, checking the information which Wada has already given him.

Photo Two: In the waist of a Marine Mitchell bomber, Minoru Wada scans the mountains below, picking out landmarks that will aid him on leading other Marine bombers and fighters over the target. Maj. Jordan has moved forward into the nose of the bomber to take command immediately as the target is pin-pointed.
Profiles in Courage: Audie Murphy - America's Most Decorated Veteran
He wanted to join the Marines, but he was too short. The paratroopers wouldn't have him either. Reluctantly, he settled on the infantry, enlisting to become nothing less than one of the most-decorated heroes of World War II. He was Audie Murphy, the baby-faced Texas farm boy who became an American Legend.

The sixth of twelve children, Audie Murphy was born in Kingston, Hunt County, TX, on June 20, 1925. The son of poor sharecroppers, Emmett and Josie Murphy, he grew up on a rundown farm and attended school in Celeste. His education was cut short in 1936 when his father abandoned the family. Left with only a fifth grade education, Murphy began working on local farms as a laborer to help support his family. A gifted hunter, he was also able to feed his siblings from game animals he shot.

Though he attempted to support the family on his own by working various jobs, Murphy was ultimately forced to place his three youngest siblings in an orphanage when their mother died in May, 1941. This was done with the blessing of his older, married sister Corrine. Long believing that the military offered a chance to escape poverty, he attempted to enlist following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. As he was only 16 years old, he was rejected for being underage. Six month later, in June 1942, shortly after his seventeenth birthday, Corrine adjusted Murphy's birth certificate to make it appear that he was eighteen.

He first went to a U.S. Marine Corps recruiting office but was rejected due to his small stature (5'5", 110 lbs.). Next he tried the U.S. Army Airborne but was again rejected. He was similarly rejected by the U.S. Navy. Pressing on, he ultimately achieved success with the U.S. Army and enlisted at Greenville, TX. on June 30, 1942. Ordered to Camp Wolters, TX., Murphy began basic training. Murphy completed basic training and transferred to Fort Meade, MD for infantry training. 

Finishing his infantry training, Murphy was assigned to 3rd Platoon, Baker Company, 1st Battalion 15th Infantry Regiment 3rd Infantry Division in Casablanca, Morocco. Arriving in early 1943, he began training for the invasion of Sicily. 

On July 10, 1943, the division made an assault landing on Sicily at a beach town called Licata. In one of the initial contacts, Murphy used his marksmanship skills to kill two Italian Officers attempting to escape on horseback. Five days later he was promoted to Corporal. Over the coming weeks, the 3rd Infantry Division fought its way into Palermo and raced on to capture Messina, thus ending the Sicilian campaign, where the 3rd had a short rest to take on replacements.

With the conclusion of the campaign on Sicily, Murphy and the Division shifted into training for the invasion of Italy. Coming ashore at Salerno on September 18th, nine days after the initial Allied landings, the 3rd Division immediately went into action and began an advance to and across the Volturno River before reaching Cassino. In the course of the fighting, Murphy led a night patrol that was ambushed. Remaining calm, he directed his men in turning back the German attack and captured several prisoners. This action resulted in a promotion to Sergeant on December 13, 1943.

Pulled from the front near Cassino, the 3rd Division took part in the landings at Anzio on January 22, 1944. During the course of the fighting around Anzio, Murphy, now a Staff Sergeant, earned two Bronze Stars for heroism in action. The first was awarded for his actions on March 2nd and the second for destroying a German tank on May 8th. With the fall of Rome in June, the 3rd Division was withdrawn and began preparing to land in Southern France as part of Operation Dragoon. Embarking, the division landed near St. Tropez on August 15, 1944.

On the day he came ashore, Murphy's good friend Lattie Tipton was killed by a German Soldier who was feigning surrender. Incensed, Murphy stormed forward and single-handedly wiped out the enemy machine gun nest before using the German weapon to clear several adjacent German positions. For his heroism he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. 

As the 3rd Division drove north into France, Murphy continued his outstanding performance in combat. On October 2, 1944, he earned a Silver Star for clearing a machine gun position near Cleurie Quarry. This was followed by second Silver Star for advancing to direct artillery near Le Tholy. Recognizing Murphy's competence as a combat leader, he was given a battlefield commission of 2nd Lieutenant and command of a rifle company.

On January 26, 1945, Audie Murphy and some 40 U.S. troops were tasked with holding a frigid snow-covered clearing around a roadway near the Alsatian town of Holtzwihr, awaiting promised reinforcements that were late in arriving. Just after mid-day, enemy artillery announced the arrival of at least 250 German troops and six Panzer tanks as they emerged from the woods.

Murphy had to once again quell a familiar sense of panic as the Germans lined up to attack, a mastery he had learned at the ripe young age of 19 during 18 months of bitter fighting across Italy and France. With two Silver Stars and the Distinguished Service Cross under his belt already, the baby-faced young Infantry Officer was leading men 10 years his senior into battle. Once the shooting began, though, he knew his instincts would take over. "The nerves will relax," he later wrote, "the heart, stop its thumping. The brain will turn to animal cunning. The job is directly before us: destroy and survive."

Knowing that his men stood no chance against so large a force, he instructed them back to pre-prepared defensive positions along a nearby tree line. As they ran for cover, he stayed behind and used his field telephone to call in an artillery strike. He had just enough time to radio in his coordinates before German tank fire began delivering devastation around him, and hit a nearby tank destroyer which began burning.

As the assault advanced, Murphy held his ground and continued calling in the Allied artillery. As his position became more precarious, he grabbed his field telephone and took cover atop the burning tank destroyer. Over the radio, he could hear the artillery commander asking how close the Germans were to his position. "Just hold the phone and I'll let you talk to one of the bastards!" he yelled back.

As the tank destroyer was slowly being engulfed in flames, Murphy saw that its .50-caliber machine gun turret was still operational and quickly seized the gun and began spraying the nearest German troops with withering fire. "My numbed brain is intent only on destroying," Murphy later wrote in his autobiography. "I am conscious only that the smoke and the turret afford a good screen, and that, for the first time in three days, my feet are warm." He continued firing burst after burst, mowing down Nazi troopers by the dozens and keeping the tanks at bay. All the while, he remained on the phone, directing artillery fire ever closer to his own position and dealing catastrophic damage to the advancing infantry.

Murphy's troops watched in shock from their cover among the trees. "I expected to see the whole damn tank destroyer blow up under him any minute," Private Anthony Abramski later wrote. In fact, the blaze provided a veil of smoke and flames that prevented the Germans from closing on his position out of fear that the vehicle was about to explode. In spite of this, continuous waves of German Infantrymen inched toward Murphy's position. A flanking maneuver on his right side was met with a hail of pinpoint fire from his .50-caliber gun. German gunners riddled his smoldering tank destroyer with small arms and tank fire. One blast nearly threw him out and sent razor sharp shrapnel flying into his leg, but he ignored the wound and kept fighting. It was only when he ran out of ammunition that he finally withdrew. Dazed and bloodied, he jumped from the still-burning tank destroyer and limped back to his men. He later wrote that as he walked away, one thought in particular kept racing through his mind: "How come I'm not dead?"

It was the "greatest display of guts and courage I have ever seen," a stunned Abramski later wrote. "For an hour he held off the enemy force singlehanded, fighting against impossible odds." Murphy had personally killed or wounded some 50 enemy troops and directed artillery against dozens more. Even after reaching safety, he refused to be evacuated from the field and instead rallied his men in a counterattack that drove the Germans back into the woods.

Audie Murphy was hailed a national hero and awarded the Medal of Honor for his superhuman exploits at Holtzwihr. Not wanting to risk the life of its newest celebrity Soldier, the Army reassigned him as a Liaison Officer and removed him from combat. By the end of the war a few months later, the battle-hardened G.I. had endured three wounds, a nasty case of malaria, gangrene and more dead friends than he cared to remember. "There is VE-Day without," he wrote of his mixed feelings at the war's end, "but no peace within."

In recognition of his overall performance between January 22, 1944 to February 18, 1945, Murphy also received the Legion of Merit. In May 1945, when victory was declared in Europe, he had still not reached his 21st birthday. Yet he had earned every military combat award for valor available from the U.S. Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism.

Hailed as the most-decorated American Soldier of World War II, Murphy returned home a hero and was greeted with parades and elaborate banquets. LIFE magazine honored the brave, baby-faced soldier by putting him on the cover of its July 16, 1945 issue. That photograph inspired actor James Cagney to call Murphy and invite him to Hollywood to begin an acting career. The two men, one a heroic actor and the other an acting hero, both short in stature but large in presence, hit it off.

Removing his younger siblings from the orphanage, he took Cagney up on his offer, arriving in Hollywood with only his boyish good looks. However, despite his celebrity, for the next several years he struggled to make it as an actor. Jobs were few, and he was only able to land just two bit parts: "Beyond Glory" (1948), and "Texas, Brooklyn & Heaven" (1948). He finally got a lead role in "Bad Boy" (1949), and earned critical acclaim for his starring role in Stephen Crane's Civil War epic, "The Red Badge of Courage" (1951), directed by John Huston. 

In between movies, Murphy published his autobiography, "To Hell and Back." The book quickly became a national bestseller, and in 1955, after much inner debate, he decided to portray himself in the film version of his book. The movie was a huge hit, setting a box-office record for Universal that wasn't broken for 20 years until it was finally surpassed by "Jaws" (1975). One of his better pictures was "Night Passage" (1957), a Western in which he played the kid brother of James Stewart. He worked for Huston again on "The Unforgiven" (1960).

During his rise to fame, Murphy met and married 21-year-old actress Wanda Hendrix in 1949. Their marriage appeared rocky from the start, ending with divorce in 1950. He then married former airline stewardess Pamela Archer, and they had two children: Terrance Michael "Terry" Murphy (born 1952) and James Shannon "Skipper" Murphy (born 1954).

In the 25 years that Audie spent in Hollywood, he made a total of 44 feature films. He also filmed a 26 episode western television series, known as "Whispering Smith" which aired on NBC in 1961. Although the series earned good reviews, it was also characterized as unusually violent. Only 20 episodes were aired before the series was cancelled.

Audie Murphy also wrote some poetry and was quite successful as a songwriter. One of his better-known poems is "The Crosses Grow on Anzio" which appears in his autobiographical movie "To Hell and Back." He also wrote a poem titled "Freedom Flies in Your Heart like an Eagle" which was part of a speech he gave at the July 20, 1968 dedication of the Alabama War Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama.

His songwriting talents were notable, as his penchant for country music and his poetic skill with rhyming and pentameter (a rhythmic syllabic pattern) resulted in many popular recordings. He usually teamed up with talented artists and composers such as Guy Mitchell, Jimmy Bryant, Scott Turner, Coy Ziegler, or Terri Eddleman. Dozens of Audie Murphy's songs were recorded and released by such great performers as Dean Martin, Eddy Arnold, Charley Pride, Jimmy Bryant, Porter Waggoner, Jerry Wallace, Roy Clark, Harry Nilsson and many, many others. His two biggest hits, both written in 1962 in collaboration with Scott Turner, were "Shutters and Boards," which by the early '70s was recorded in multiple languages by over 60 vocalists, and "When the Wind Blows in Chicago," recorded by multiple artists including country artist Eddy Arnold on his 1993 RCA album "Last of the Love Song Singers."

Despite his success in Hollywood, Audie never forgot his rural Texas roots. He returned frequently to the Dallas area where he owned a small ranch for a while. He also had ranches in Perris, California and near Tucson, Arizona. He was a successful Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racehorse owner and breeder, having interests in such great horses as "Depth Charge." 

Always an advocate for the needs of veterans, he broke the taboo about discussing war related mental problems after his experience. In an effort to draw attention to the problems of returning Korean and Vietnam War veterans, Audie Murphy was outspoken and candid about his personal problems with PTSD, then known as "Battle Fatigue". He publicly called for the United States government to give more consideration and study to the emotional impact war has on veterans and to extend health care benefits to address PTSD and other mental health problems of returning war vets.

Murphy earned a great deal of money in his life as an actor and as part owner of the Great Western Arms Company, but also had a major gambling habit which meant his finances were in a poor state for the last years of his life. One friend estimated Murphy lost $3 million through gambling. In 1968 his film career had dried up, and he declared bankruptcy. When he filed for bankruptcy, he stated that he lost $260,000 in an Algerian oil deal and was dealing with the Internal Revenue Service over unpaid taxes. 

On May 28, 1971, Murphy was killed when the private plane in which he was a passenger crashed into Brush Mountain, near Catawba, Virginia, 20 miles west of Roanoke in conditions of rain, clouds, fog and zero visibility. The pilot and four other passengers were also killed. The aircraft was a twin-engine Aero Commander 680 flown by a pilot who had a private-pilot license and a reported 8,000 hours of flying time, but who held no instrument rating. The aircraft was recovered on May 31, 1971.

At the time of his death, major television news networks ABC, CBS, and NBC only gave him a combined total of 1 minute and 30 seconds of news.

In 1975, a court awarded Murphy's widow and two children $2.5 million in damages due to the accident.

He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, just across Memorial Drive from the Memorial Amphitheater. A special flagstone walkway has been constructed to accommodate the large number of people who stop to pay their respects to this hero. At the end of a row of graves, his tomb is marked by a simple, white, government-issue tombstone, which lists only a few of his many military decorations. The stone is, as he was, too small. 

According to cemetery records, the only grave visited by more people than Murphy's is that of assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

His widow, Pam Murphy, established her own distinctive thirty-five-year career working as a patient liaison at the Sepulveda Veteran's Administration Hospital, treating every veteran who visited the facility as if they were a VIP. She remained working full time at the VA until 2007 when she was eighty-seven. She died peacefully at the age of 90 in her home in Canoga Park on April 8, 2010. 

During Audie Murphy's three years of active service as a combat Soldier in World War II, he became one of the best fighting men of this or any other century, earning 33 awards and decorations. What he accomplished during this period is most significant and probably will never be repeated by another soldier given today's high-tech, stand-off type of warfare. The U.S. Army has always declared that there will never be another Audie Murphy. 
Military Myths & Legends: Leadership and the Janitor
By James Moschgat USAF (Ret.)

William "Bill" Crawford was an unimpressive figure, one you could easily overlook during a hectic day at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Mr. Crawford, as most of us referred to him back in the late 1970s, was our Squadron janitor.

While we Cadets busied ourselves preparing for academic exams, athletic events, Saturday morning parades, and room inspection, or never ending leadership classes-Bill quietly moved about the squadron mopping and buffing floors, emptying trash cans, cleaning toilets, or just tidying up the mess 100 college-age kids can leave in a dormitory.

Sadly, and for many years, few of us gave him much notice, rendering little more than a passing nod or throwing a curt, "G'morning!" in his direction as we hurried off to our daily duties. Why? Perhaps it was because of the way he did his job - he always kept the squadron area spotlessly clean, even the toilets and showers gleamed. Frankly, he did his job so well, none of us had to notice or get involved. After all, cleaning toilets was his job, not ours.

Maybe it was his physical appearance that made him disappear into the background. Bill didn't move very quickly, and in fact, you could say he even shuffled a bit, as if he suffered from some sort of injury. His gray hair and wrinkled face made him appear ancient to a group of young cadets.

And his crooked smile, well, it looked a little funny. Face it, Bill was an old man working in a young person's world. What did he have to offer us on a personal level?

Maybe it was Mr. Crawford's personality that rendered him almost invisible to the young people around him. Bill was shy, almost painfully so. He seldom spoke to a Cadet unless they addressed him first, and that didn't happen very often. Our janitor always buried himself in his work, moving about with stooped shoulders, a quiet gait, and an averted gaze. If he noticed the hustle and bustle of cadet life around him, it was hard to tell. For whatever reason, Bill blended into the woodwork and became just another fixture around the Squadron. The Academy, one of our nation's premier leadership laboratories, kept us busy from dawn till dusk. And Mr. Crawford...well, he was just a janitor.

That changed one fall Saturday afternoon in 1976. I was reading a book about World War II and the tough Allied ground campaign in Italy, when I stumbled across an incredible story.

On September 13, 1943, a Pvt. William Crawford from Colorado, assigned to the 36th Infantry Division, had been involved in some bloody fighting on Hill 424 near Altavilla, Italy.

"William Crawford's Medal of Honor Citation."

The words on the page leapt out at me, "in the face of intense and overwhelming hostile fire... with no regard for personal safety... on his own initiative, Private Crawford single-handedly attacked fortified enemy positions." It continued, "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, the President of the United States..."

 "Holy cow," I said to my roommate, "you're not going to believe this, but I think our janitor is a Medal of Honor recipient." We all knew Mr. Crawford was a World War II Army vet, but that didn't keep my friend from looking at me as if I was some sort of alien being. Nonetheless, we couldn't wait to ask Bill about the story.

We met Mr. Crawford bright and early Monday and showed him the page in question from the book, anticipation and doubt on our faces. He stared at it for a few silent moments and then quietly uttered something like, "Yep, that's me."

Mouths agape, my roommate and I looked at one another, then at the book, and quickly back at our janitor. Almost at once, we both stuttered, "Why didn't you ever tell us about it?" He slowly replied after some thought, "That was one day in my life and it happened a long time ago." I guess we were all at a loss for words after that. We had to hurry off to class and Bill, well, he had chores to attend to.

After that brief exchange, things were never again the same around our squadron. Word spread like wildfire among the Cadets that we had a hero in our midst - Mr. Crawford, our janitor, had been bestowed The Medal! Cadets who had once passed by Bill with hardly a glance, now greeted him with a smile and a respectful, "Good morning, Mr. Crawford."

Those who had before left a mess for the "janitor" to clean up, started taking it upon themselves to put things in order.

Cadets routinely stopped to talk to Bill throughout the day and we even began inviting him to our formal Squadron functions. He'd show up dressed in a conservative dark suit and quietly talk to those who approached him, the only sign of his heroics being a simple blue, star-spangled lapel pin. Almost overnight, Bill went from being a simple fixture in our Squadron to one of our teammates.

Mr. Crawford changed too, but you had to look closely to notice the difference. After that fall day in 1976, he seemed to move with more purpose, his shoulders didn't seem to be as stooped, he met our greetings with a direct gaze and a stronger "good morning" in return, and he flashed his crooked smile more often. The Squadron gleamed as always, but everyone now seemed to notice it more. Bill even got to know most of us by our first names, something that didn't happen often at the Academy. While no one ever formally acknowledged the change, I think we became Bill's Cadets and his Squadron.

As often happens in life, events sweep us away from those in our past. The last time I saw Bill was on graduation day in June 1977. As I walked out of the Squadron for the last time, he shook my hand and simply said, "Good luck, young man." With that, I embarked on a career that has been truly lucky and blessed.

Mr. Crawford continued to work at the Academy and eventually retired in his native Colorado, one of four Medal of Honor recipients who lived in the small town of Pueblo.
A wise person once said, "It's not life that's important, but those you meet along the way that make the difference." Bill was one who made a difference for me. Bill Crawford, our janitor, taught me many valuable, unforgettable leadership lessons, and I think of him often.

Here are ten I'd like to share:
1.) Be Cautious of Labels. Labels you place on people may define your relationship to them and bind their potential. Sadly, and for a long time, we labeled Bill as just a janitor, but he was so much more. Therefore, be cautious of a leader who callously says, "Hey, he's just an Airman." Likewise, don't tolerate the O-1, who says, "I can't do that, I'm just a Lieutenant."

2.) Everyone Deserves Respect. Because we hung the "janitor" label on Mr. Crawford, we often wrongly treated him with less respect than others. He deserved much more, and not just because he was received the Medal of Honor. Bill deserved respect because he was a janitor, walked among us, and was a part of our team.

3.) Courtesy Makes a Difference. Be courteous to all around you, regardless of rank or position. Military customs, as well as common courtesies, help bond a team. When our daily words to Mr. Crawford turned from perfunctory "hellos" to heartfelt greetings, his demeanor and personality outwardly changed. It made a difference for all of us.

4.) Take Time to Know Your People. Life in the military is hectic, but that's no excuse for not knowing the people you work for and with. For years a hero walked among us at the Academy and we never knew it. Who are the heroes that walk in your midst?

5.) Anyone Can Be a Hero. Mr. Crawford certainly didn't fit anyone's standard definition of a hero. Moreover, he was just a private on the day he earned his Medal. Don't sell your people short, for any one of them may be the hero who rises to the occasion when duty calls. On the other hand, it's easy to turn to your proven performers when the chips are down, but don't ignore the rest of the team. Today's rookie could and should be tomorrow's superstar.

6.) Leaders Should Be Humble. Most modern day heroes, and some leaders, are anything but humble, especially if you calibrate your "hero meter" on today's athletic fields. End zone celebrations and self-aggrandizement are what we've come to expect from sports greats. Not Mr. Crawford-he was too busy working to celebrate his past heroics. Leaders would be well served to do the same.

7.) Life Won't Always Hand You What You Think You Deserve. We in the military work hard and, dang it, we deserve recognition, right? However, sometimes you just have to persevere, even when accolades don't come your way. Perhaps you weren't nominated for junior officer or airman of the quarter as you thought you should - don't let that stop you. Don't pursue glory; pursue excellence. Private Bill Crawford didn't pursue glory - he did his duty and then swept floors for a living.

8.) No Job is Beneath a Leader. If Bill Crawford, a Medal of Honor recipient, could clean latrines and smile, is there a job beneath your dignity? Think about it.

9.) Pursue Excellence. No matter what task life hands you, do it well. Dr. Martin Luther King said, "If life makes you a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be." Mr. Crawford modeled that philosophy and helped make our dormitory area a home.

10.) Life is a Leadership Laboratory. All too often we look to some school or class to teach us about leadership when, in fact, life is a leadership laboratory. Those you meet every day will teach you enduring lessons if you just take time to stop, look, and listen. I spent four years at the Air Force Academy, took dozens of classes, read hundreds of books, and met thousands of great people. I gleaned leadership skills from all of them, but one of the people I remember most is Mr. Bill Crawford and the lessons he unknowingly taught. Don't miss your opportunity to learn.

Bill Crawford was a janitor. However, he was also a teacher, friend, role model, and one great American hero. He passed away on Mar. 15, 2000 and was buried on the grounds of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

For more on the life of Bill Crawford and the action that earned him his Medal of Honor, please go the following site:

During his 30-year Air Force career, Col. James Moschgat accumulated more than 4,000 flying hours in fighter and trainer aircraft, including the F-4, F-16, T/AT-38, and the T-6A, and flew 60 combat missions in Operations NORTHERN and SOUTHERN WATCH, and IRAQI FREEDOM. He commanded two squadrons, an operations group, and an air expeditionary wing, and served staff tours at HQ United States Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, GE, and HQ 12th Air Force, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, AZ.

Moschgat retired from active duty in 2007. He is married to the former Becky J. Daggett of Pleasanton, Calif. They have four children, Patrick, Rhonda, Kymberli, and Matthew.

Editor’s Note:
Private William John Crawford was a scout for 3rd Platoon, Company I, 142nd Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, fighting in Italy during World War II on September 13, 1943 - just four days after the invasion of Salerno.

Crawford was a hero, lauded by peers for his actions in combat but was missing in action and presumed dead. Army Maj. Gen. Terry Allen presented Crawford's Medal of Honor posthumously to his father, George, on May 11, 1944, at Camp (now Fort) Carson, near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

It was later learned that Crawford was alive and in a POW camp. He returned to the United States after 18 months in captivity. 

He passed away on Mar. 15, 2000.
Battlefield Chronicles: Bataan and Corregidor
Within hours of their December 7, 1941, attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the Japanese military began its assault on the Philippines, bombing airfields and bases, harbors and shipyards. Manila, the capital of the Philippines, sits on Manila Bay, one of the best deep-water ports in the Pacific Ocean, and it was, for the Japanese, a perfect resupply point for their planned conquest of the southern Pacific. After the initial air attacks, 43,000 men of the Imperial Japanese 14th Army went ashore on December 22 at two points on the main Philippine island of Luzon. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the supreme commander of all Allied forces in the Pacific, cabled Washington, D.C., that he was ready to repel this main invasion force with 130,000 troops of his own.

For whatever reason, MacArthur's claim of that many troops was in error. In fact, his force consisted of tens of thousands of ill-trained and ill-equipped Filipino reservists and some 22,000 American troops who were, in effect, a mixture of "spit-and-polish" garrison soldiers with no combat experience, artillerymen, a small group of plane-less pilots and ground crews, and sailors whose ships happened to be in port when Japanese forces bombed Manila and its naval yards. At the landing beaches, the Japanese soldiers quickly overcame these defenders and pushed them back and back again until MacArthur was forced to execute a planned withdrawal to the jungle redoubt of the Bataan Peninsula. This thumb-like piece of land on the west-central coast of Luzon, across the bay from Manila, measured some 30 miles long and 15 miles wide, with a range of mountains down the middle.

MacArthur had planned badly for the withdrawal and had left tons of rice, ammunition, and other stores behind him. The Battle of Bataan began on January 1, 1942, and almost immediately the defenders were on half rations. Sick with malaria, dengue fever, and other diseases, living on monkey meat and a few grains of rice, and without air cover or naval support, the Allied force of Filipinos and Americans resisted the Japanese attackers for more than three months even though crippled by starvation rations and epidemics of malaria, dysentery, and various diseases. With no other options, U.S. Gen. Edward King Jr., commander of all U.S. troops in the Philippines, surrendered his approximately 75,000 troops at Bataan as tens of thousands of Filipinos and Americans, the largest American army ever to surrender, on April 9, 1942. This was then the beginning of a shameful chapter in the history of war, the Bataan Death March.

Lt. Gen. Masaharu Homma, Japanese commander, issued orders to remove any Allied POWs captured on Bataan to the town of Balanga, where they would assemble and receive food. Then the U.S. and Filipino prisoners would move thirty-one miles to San Fernando, where they would board trains and ride to a rail station twenty-five miles away. The prisoners were to finish with a nine-mile walk to Camp O'Donnell. The plan included several stops for food and medical treatment. Most prisoners would go to San Fernando on foot because the Japanese had few vehicles left after the fighting.

The Japanese evacuation plan generally conformed to the terms of the 1929 Geneva Convention for treatment of POWs. In fact, Homma's evacuation order specified that Japanese troops were to treat all POWs "in a friendly way." But the plan was doomed to failure for several reasons:

About 40,000 relatively healthy and well-fed captives were expected. The surrendering army, however, was twice as large, reduced to starvation rations, and so wracked with disease that, according to an Army doctor, they were "patients rather than prisoners."

The fall of Bataan was expected at the end of April, with the food, medical services, and transportation scheduled accordingly. The surrender happened more than three weeks earlier when little had been prepared.

To make matters worse, the Japanese forces, which had been reinforced and now numbered 81,000 men, were chronically short of food and medical supplies for their own needs, let alone for those of their prisoners.

Treatment of the Allied prisoners was inconsistent. Although some prisoners traveled in trucks or cars and suffered little, most were forced to march up to 65 miles on foot and received little food, water, or medical aid. Some groups received more food or time to rest; others received less. Some guards treated their captives reasonably well, while others tortured the POWs or murdered them outright as punishment for surrender, considered dishonorable by the Japanese military code of conduct.

For those who marched to camp, the only constant presence was death. Reports from survivors tell of brutal guards who shot or bayonetted anyone who fell behind. The pace was inhuman under hot sun, without food or water, difficult even for soldiers in good condition, deadly for malnourished and sick POWs.  
One survivor said "They were expected to keep up like everyone else, regardless of their condition. But, some wounded prisoners just couldn't go on. They were either bayoneted, beat with clubs, rifle butts, or shot. Some soldiers had diarrhea so bad that they couldn't keep up and the Japanese shot them." 

Another reported what he had seen on the first day of the march "I saw two things I will never forget. A Filipino man had been beheaded. His body lay on the ground with blood everywhere. His head was a short distance away. Also, there was a dead Filipino woman with her legs spread apart and her dress pulled up over her. She obviously had been raped and there was a bamboo stake in her private area. These are instances I would like to forget."

In his analysis of the Bataan tragedy and the legal aftermath, "A Trial of Generals", historian Lawrence Taylor ascribed the guards' atrocities to three factors, each of which contradicted Homma's specific directive to treat the POWs humanely. First was the morale of the low-ranking Japanese soldiers. Having suffered themselves during the fighting, having seen many of their comrades die in battle, and having been trained to regard surrender as dishonorable, the Japanese soldiers sought revenge upon their now-helpless foes. The second factor was a shortage of Japanese officers, not enough to properly supervise the prisoner movement. Because a company of infantrymen might be spread out to guard a mile-long file of captives, its commander could not supervise carefully, leaving sadistic guards free to attack captives with impunity. The third factor was racism of some Japanese junior officers who held the view that the United States was racially inferior to the Japanese.

With the fall of Bataan, Lt. Gen. Masaharu Homma still had to subdue the fortified island of Corregidor, sitting in Manila Bay across from Bataan.

The island bastion of Corregidor, with its network of tunnels and formidable array of defensive armament, along with the fortifications across the entrance to Manila Bay, was the remaining obstacle to the 14th Japanese Imperial Army. The Japanese had to take Corregidor; as long as the island remained in American hands, they would be denied the use of Manila Bay, the finest natural harbor in the Far East. 

On May 5, Japanese forces led by Maj. Gen. Kureo Taniguchi boarded landing craft and barges and headed for the final assault on Corregidor. Shortly before midnight, intense shelling struck the beaches between North Point and Cavalry Point. The initial landing of 790 Japanese soldiers quickly bogged down due to surprisingly fierce resistance from the American and Filipino defenders whose 37 mm artillery exacted a heavy toll on the landing fleet.

The Japanese struggled because of the strong sea currents between Bataan and Corregidor and from the layers of oil that covered the beaches from ships sunk earlier in the siege; they experienced great difficulty in landing personnel and equipment. However the overwhelming number of Japanese infantry equipped with 50 mm grenade launchers ("knee mortars") forced the defenders to pull back from the beach.

The second battalion of 785 Japanese soldiers were not as successful. They encountered the same currents but landed east of North Point, where the defensive positions of the 4th Marines were stronger. Most of the Japanese officers were killed early in the landing, the huddled survivors were hit with hand grenades, machine guns, and rifle fire. Nevertheless, some of the landing craft did reach the location of the first invasion force and together they found themselves moving inland where they captured the Denver Battery by 01:30 on May 6. 

A counterattack was initiated to eject the Japanese from the Denver Battery. This was the location of the heaviest fighting between the opposing forces, practically face to face. A few reinforcements did make their way to the frontline 4th Marines, but the battle became a duel of obsolete World War I grenades versus the accurate Japanese knee mortars. Without reinforcements, the battle would quickly go against the defenders.

 The final blow to the defenders came at about 09:30, when three Japanese tanks landed and went into action. The men around Denver Battery withdrew to the ruins of a concrete trench a few yards away from the entrance to Malinta tunnel, just as Japanese artillery delivered a heavy barrage. Particularly fearful of the dire consequences should the Japanese capture the tunnel, where 1,000 helpless wounded men lay, and realizing that the defenses outside Malinta tunnel could not hold out much longer, Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainright expected further Japanese landings that night. He also decided to sacrifice one more day of freedom in exchange for several thousand lives.

By 4:30 a.m., Col. Howard had committed his last reserves - some 500 Marines, sailors and soldiers of the 4th Battalion. These men tried to get to the battle as quickly as possible, but several Japanese snipers had slipped behind the front lines to make any movement very costly. An additional 880 Japanese reinforcements arrived at 05:30. The 4th Marines were holding their positions, at the same time losing ground in other areas. The Japanese were facing problems of their own: several ammunition crates never made the landing; as a result, several attacks and counterattacks were fought with bayonets.

In a radio message to President Franklin Roosevelt, Wainwright said, "There is a limit of human endurance, and that point has long been passed." Howard burned the 4th Regiment's and national colors to prevent their capture by the enemy. Wainwright finally surrendered the Corregidor garrison at about 1:30 p.m. on May 6, 1942, with two officers sent forward with a white flag to carry his surrender message to the Japanese.

Although their defense was ultimately overwhelmed, the execution of MacArthur's Bataan plan saved the troops on Luzon from immediate defeat, delayed the Japanese timetable for conquest by four months, and kept large Japanese combat forces tied up in the Philippines until May 1942.

News of the "Bataan Death March" reached the American public in January 1944, when the U.S. War Department released accounts from several survivors who had escaped from prison and reached Allied territory with the aid of Filipino guerrillas. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, congressional leaders, and newspaper editors throughout the United States expressed outrage and shock at the atrocity, and vowed revenge for the dead prisoners.

 America avenged its defeat in the Philippines with the invasion of the island of Leyte in October 1944. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who in 1942 had famously promised to return to the Philippines, made good on his word. In February 1945, U.S.-Filipino forces recaptured the Bataan Peninsula, and Manila was liberated in early March.

Shortly after Japan's official surrender on September 2, 1945, U.S. Army officers arrested Homma. A U.S. military commission arraigned Homma on December 19, 1945 for forty-seven specifications of the charge of violating the laws of war, primarily concerned with mistreatment of POWs on the Death March and in the prison camps afterward, in addition to the bombing of Manila in violation of the open-city declaration.

In his defense, Homma claimed that he was so preoccupied with the plans for the Corregidor assault that he had forgotten about the prisoners' treatment, believing that his officers were properly handling the matter. He allegedly did not learn of the death toll until after the war. His defense failed and on April 3, 1946 he was executed by a firing squad, forbidden to wear his military uniform.

 By the end of the evacuation in early May 1942, an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 POWs had died. Another 18,000 prisoners died in the first six weeks of imprisonment at Camp O'Donnell. Those who survived remained in Japanese prisons from April 1942 until the end of the war in the Pacific in September 1945, enduring more than three years of torture, beatings, forced labor, illness and near starvation. Those who were liberated were in terrible condition, their bodies skeletal and ridden by diseases such as beriberi, dysentery and scurvy.

Altogether, 12,935 out of the 34,648 total American POWs died in the hands of the Japanese. Japan captured several thousand additional American prisoners throughout the Pacific; however, the vast majority of prisoners were captured in the Philippine Islands. The overwhelming majority of these prisoners came from the fall of Bataan and later, Corregidor. The fall of Bataan, alone, gave the Japanese in excess of 75,000 troops to deal with; 60,000 of these being Philippine nationals. The POWs in the Philippines experienced a mortality rate of forty percent (40%) with approximately 11,107 deaths out of the 27,465 internees in the Philippines.

In the years that followed, the men who fought in the Philippines formed a veterans' organization, the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, to press for reparations from Japan and better treatment by the American government of the veterans of these campaigns. In the 1980s, the U.S. officially recognized the suffering and sacrifice of these veterans, awarding them the Bronze Star and eventually classified them as 100 percent disabled for government pensions. 

On May 29, 2009, the 73 survivors attending the final ADBC convention in San Antonio, Texas, finally received the apology they deserved, after nearly 64 years of waiting, when Japanese ambassador to the U.S. Ichiro Fujisaki apologized to the assembled attendees for his country "having caused tremendous damage and suffering to many people, including prisoners of war, those who have undergone tragic experiences."
Pearl Harbor - December 4-7, 1941 
What I Remember
By Vincent L. Anderson

From February 25, 1941 to May 8, 1942, I served as an enlisted man in the 94-man Marine Detachment on the aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Lexington CV-2. 

On Thursday, December 4, 1941, the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Lexington CV-2 was moored port side to mooring platforms F-9-N and F-9-S, Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, T.H., in 7 1/2 fathoms of water and the temperature throughout the day ranged from 71 degrees to 78 degrees. 

On this date I had the 2000 to 2400 hours duty as orderly for the Executive Officer, Cdr. W. M. Dillon. The Corporal of the Guard posted me on duty at 2000 hours at the Executive Officers quarters and I reported in to Cdr. Dillon and took my position in the hallway outside his quarters that had a small table and telephone. 

About 2030 hours I received a call from the Officer of the Deck, Ensign E. M. Price, that there was a communication man from Ford Island with a secret dispatch for the senior officer afloat and as the Captain was ashore would I come down to the Quarter Deck and bring the communication man to the Executive Officer to accept the dispatch. I first notified Cdr. Dillon who was in his quarters reading and then went and brought the communication man to the Executive Officer, who signed for the dispatch. I then took the communication man back to the Quarter Deck. 

When I returned to the Executive Officer's quarters, Cdr. Dillon handed me a sheet of paper with the names of each of the Division Officers and asked me to find them and have them report to his quarters immediately. I found the Division Officers and informed them that the Executive Officer wanted to see them immediately and they were with Cdr. Dillon when I was relieved at 2400 hours. I never learned what the secret dispatch said. However, the following morning, Friday, December 5, 1941, at 0445 hours preparations were started to get us underway and at 0728 the Lexington got underway and left Pearl Harbor. And at 0940 hours the Lexington landed eighteen VSB planes of Marine Scouting Squadron 321, and at 1103 hours started landing her own air group. Then we found out we were to deliver this Marine Scouting Squadron to Midway Island. 

The Lexington crew had no prior warning that we were going to leave Pearl Harbor on Friday, December 5, 1941. However, the only other aircraft carrier in the Hawaiian area at this time was the U.S.S. Enterprise which had left Pearl Harbor on Friday, November 28, 1941, to deliver the Marine Fighter Squadron VMF-211 to Wake Island, and was returning to Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941, shortly following the Japanese attack. 

On Sunday, December 7, 1941, I had the 0800 to 1200 hours duty as Orderly for the Executive Officer, Cdr. W. M. Dillon, and was posted on duty on the open bridge. At that time the Lexington operating with Task Force 12, was set in condition of readiness III in the anti-aircraft batteries and damage control. Cdr. W. M. Dillon and the ship's captain, Frederick Carl Sherman were together awaiting our morning flight patrol to take off. At approximately 0815 a ships communications man approached and gave me a dispatch from, "CINCPAC to All U.S. Navy Ships Present Hawaiian Area," that read, "AIRRAID ON PEARL HARBOR X THIS IS NO DRILL". I immediately took the dispatch to Capt. Sherman, who read and showed it to Cdr. Dillon. Capt. Sherman immediately went into the closed bridge and over the ship's loudspeakers informed the entire crew we were now at war with Japan. General Quarters was sounded immediately and I was relied and immediately reported to my General Quarters station as a loader on Gun 6 (a 5" 25 cal. AA Gun). 

Now For the Rest of the Story:
In 2001 I came in contact, through the U.S.S. Lexington CV-2 Minutemen Club, with Capt. James B. Johnson, USN (Ret.), a U.S.S. Lexington CV-2 Coral Sea Battle Survivor. He served aboard the Lexington as an Ensign in 1941 and 1942 in the Communication & Intelligence Division. We corresponded both by telephone and email, initially about the search for Amelia Earhart of which we both had some interest and both had done some research. When we discussed our respective duties aboard the Lexington I told him of my December 4, 1941, duty as orderly for Cdr. Dillon and the secret dispatch and as he was a Communication & Intelligence officer on the ship I asked if he had seen the dispatch. He told me he had not seen it but, on the early morning of Friday, December 5, 1941 the Communication & Intelligence Division Officer, Lieut. Comdr. W. Terry, met with all his officers, including Ensign James B. Johnson, and told them that before they would return to Pearl Harbor they would be at War with Japan, but he did not elaborate he just made this comment as a statement of fact.

Another Story;
Another side light of my conversations with Capt. James B. Johnson was what he told me about the day, February 20, 1942, when Lt. Edward H. "Butch" O'Hare, shot down five of nine Japanese bombers that were attacking the Lexington near Bougainville, in the Solomon Islands Area. I had told him I saw O'Hare shoot down all five as our antiaircraft Gun Battery four was on the port side and the attack was on the starboard aft and we could not fire. He told me that at that time he was an observer on the flight bridge and when O'Hare landed after shooting down the five Japanese bombers, O'Hare told his plane captain James Shinn AMM3c, to refuel and rearm his plane immediately as he wanted to get back in the air. The Air Officer on the flight bridge then told his talker to notify O'Hare he had done enough for one day and when O'Hare was told he shook his fist at the Air Officer.  

And Yet another Story:
In June 1951, then Lt. Cdr. James B. Johnston was the Civil Administrator of the Northern Mariana Islands and on June 30, 1951 he accepted the Last Japanese Surrender of World War II on Anatahan Island. 

Editor's Note:     
Lieut. Cdr. Edward Henry "Butch" O'Hare became the Navy's first flying ace when he single-handedly attacked a formation of nine heavy bombers approaching his aircraft carrier on Feb. 20, 1942. Even though he had a limited amount of ammunition, he managed to shoot down or damage several enemy bombers. On April 21, 1942, he became the first naval recipient of the Medal of Honor in World War II.

O'Hare's final action took place on the night of Nov. 26, 1943, while he was leading the U.S. Navy's first-ever nighttime fighter attack launched from an aircraft carrier. During this encounter with a group of Japanese torpedo bombers, O'Hare's Grumman F6F Hellcat was shot down; his aircraft was never found. In 1945, the U.S. Navy destroyer USS O'Hare (DD-889) was named in his honor.

A few years later, Col. Robert R. McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, suggested that the name of Chicago's Orchard Depot Airport be changed as a tribute to Butch O'Hare. On September 19, 1949, the Chicago, Illinois airport was renamed O'Hare International Airport to honor O'Hare's bravery.

Take United 93 Down!
U.S. Air Force Lt. Heather "Lucky" Penney was a rookie in the fall of 2001, the first female F-16 pilot ever at the 121st Fighter Squadron of the District of Columbia Air National Guard 113th Wing located at Joint Base Andrews, Camp Springs, Maryland. She had grown up smelling jet fuel, as her father, retired U.S. Air Force Col. John Penney, was a veteran air racer who flew jets in Vietnam and was a flight captain with United Airlines at the time. She got her pilot's license when she was a literature major at Purdue. She planned to be a teacher. But during a graduate program in American studies, Congress opened air combat aviation to women and Penney was nearly first in line. "I signed up immediately," Penney says. "I wanted to be a fighter pilot like my dad."

On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, Penny and others from her squadron had just finished two weeks of air combat training in Nevada. They were sitting at a briefing table when someone looked in to say a plane had hit the World Trade Center. When it happened once, they assumed it was some yahoo in a Cesna. Word slowly filtered in that it was not a small private plane, but two commercial airplanes that had slammed into the Twin Towers in New York; then, that a third plane had flown into the Pentagon; and finally, that a fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was heading toward Washington, D.C. to possibly take out the Congress or the White House.

Penney and her commanding officer, Col. Marc Sasseville, were ordered to stop United Airlines Flight 93 from reaching the nation's capital and hitting its intended target. But there was no time to arm their F-16s, which had only dummy training ammo on board - no incendiary high-explosive bullets and no missiles. They were flying the only missiles they had.
She and Col. Marc Sasseville made a desperate pact - they would be kamikaze pilots, on a suicide mission, to stop Flight 93 from hitting Washington at any cost. 

He planned to strike the plane's cockpit. Without batting an eye, the petite, blonde, 25-year old Penney, one of the Air Force's first female fighter pilots - and who had never "scrambled" a jet fighter before - replied, "I'll take [down] the tail."

"We wouldn't be shooting it down - we would be ramming the aircraft, because we didn't have weapons on board," Penney said in an interview with the Washington Post. She added, "I gave some thought to whether I would have time to eject, but I had to be sure. You only get one chance. You don't want to eject and then miss. You have to stick with it the whole way."

What made her mission more terrifying was her knowledge that her father was a flight captain for United Airlines at the time, flying an East Coast rotation that could have included Flight 93. It turns out that her father had been piloting United 93 earlier in the day but had gotten off at Boston, something she had no way of knowing at the time. 

On that cool, clear morning, Penney jammed the throttle of her unarmed F-16 fighter jet at Andrews Air Force Base into a roaring "scramble" takeoff, skipping the normal half-hour pre-flight, knowing that if her mission was successful, she would not be coming back.

But none of her thousands of hours in the air quite compared with the urgent rush of launching on what was meant to be a one-way flight to a midair collision.

"It was so surreal because the air space was so quiet," she recalled. "I really didn't have much emotion or time to reflect that day because I was focused on getting the job done, but there was significant adrenalin." She muttered a fighter pilot's prayer - "God, don't let me f**k up" - and followed her commander into the sky under full military take-off power, afterburners scorching their trail. Their flight path from Andrews took them over the Pentagon, still billowing smoke as service members and employees and rescue personnel desperately worked to contain the blaze and save lives.

What she and Sasseville didn't know it at the time, Flight 93 had already crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. She didn't have to take out an airliner full of innocent civilians, the hostages on board were willing to do just what the two Guard pilots had been willing to do: give their lives for their country.

Her mission soon changed to helping clear and establish a defensive cap over Washington's airspace and escorting Air Force One, with then-President George W. Bush aboard, to Andrews Air Force Base.

Their lives were spared, but many were lost, including that of a family friend.

One of John Penney's best work buddies and cubicle mate back at United's pilot training center, Captain Jason Dahl, was the pilot of United 93 that fateful morning. 

Had the passengers of that plane not overcome the terrorists and taken it down in a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, "Lucky" would have died killing one of her father's closest friends, among others.

"It would have been utterly devastating for my wife and me," John Penney told the Post. "With Jason on the plane, it would have been an additional level of grief. But there were thousands of families that learned about the loss of their loved ones that day."

When Lt. "Lucky" Penney thinks about her role on Sept. 11 and how it will be remembered, she said she hoped media attention on the attacks won't make Americans fearful of the future.

"We saw so much of the best of ourselves come out that day, with strangers helping strangers and many courageous acts," she said. "We remembered something more important than ourselves, and that was the community to which we belonged."

In the time since that clear blue morning, Penney said, "I've come to realize that heroism isn't something unique or possessed by only a chosen few. That courage is there inside of each and every one of us. In the normal, perfectly average people that helped each other in the moments before the towers fell. The first responders. Neighbors and strangers coming together and lifting each other up. Those who sacrificed to undertake the dangerous and difficult task of cleaning up and rebuilding. How, in defiance of those who would threaten our way of life, how we all got up that next morning and went on."

Penney, a single mother of two girls, works at Lockheed Martin as a director in the F-35 program. She is now a major and no longer a combat flier. She flew two tours in Iraq and she serves as a part-time National Guard pilot, mostly hauling VIPs around in a military Gulfstream (C-38), pursuing a second master's degree. 

"The real heroes are the passengers on Flight 93 who were willing to sacrifice themselves. I was just an accidental witness to history."
-Heather "Lucky" Penney
TWS: "Buddy Statements"

Has the VA denied your claim because you cannot verify through your records what happened? Did you know they will accept two "Buddy Statements" from those you served with as evidence? 

Complete your profile and you can then contact those listed for the same unit/duty station for the same timeframe to see they can verify your claims for you.

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

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

FC2 Tom Burgdorf
US Navy (Ret)

FC2 Burgdorf has been a member of Navy Together We Served since Mar 28, 2007.
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, Carl has 1,179 profiles that he has researched and that does not count the thousands that he has helped complete for other people.

Thank you Tom for all your long hours and hard work. Your efforts have helped make Together We Served a complete archive for future generations.

You can view Tom's shadow box here:

Service Reflections Video of the Month

Up Close and Personal Video Interview With TWS Member AD3 Benjamin Couillard, World War II Veteran.

Looking for Army and Marine Corps Volunteers 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.

If you're interested in joining our Memorial Team, please contact us at

TWS Brochures Available
Do you have a reunion coming up and would like to spread the word about Together We Served? We now have brochures available that help explain a little bit about who we are and what we do.

Send your requests to Please include your name and address along with how many brochures you require.

From Our TWS Historian

Greetings my fellow Veterans. As historian, it is my goal that we are historically accurate in all of our databases. If you find a error, please inform us at

The long term project is to historically show the unit lineage of all units/ships across the databases. So when you look for your units, duty station or battles, you will find only the correct ones during your tour of duty. 

We're looking for those of you would would like to be Unit Historians to assist in this huge project. To qualify as a Unit Historian, you have to have completed your own profile along with your "Reflections". If you're interested, please let us know.

Roger A. Gaines 
LTC, SC (Ret US Army) 
TWS Senior Military Advisor 
Chief Historian and Database Manager

Police Together We Served
Did you know TWS has a Law Enforcement site? is a secure website for all current and former Law Enforcement, Federal Officers and Corrections Officers, is a secure community helping Officers across the US to stay connected.

Click here to request an invite.


TWS 3rd All Service Reunion 2017

Our 3rd "All Service" Reunion dates have been set! A year from now we will be in New Orleans! Come join us!

Date from: Sep 5, 2017
Date to: Sep 7, 2017
Place: Hilton Riverside
City: New Orleans
State: Louisiana
Person to Contact: Diane Short
Web Page:
Phone: 888 398-3262

Comments: Come join the fun! Trip planned to the World War II Museum. Within walking distance to outlet mall, paddle boat cruise, trolley to the French Quarter. Make your reservations at 504 584-3999. Cost for single or double is $139 a night. Triple is $169.00 Quad is $199.00. There will be a $20 per person registration fee. Please notify me if you plan on attending.

Do You Have a Reunion Planned for the Norfolk Area?
If you do, please contact Diane Short at to discuss doing a presentation for your reunion.

VA and Other News

Our Gallant Men
This Website supports the Mendocino County Vietnam War Memorial with a companion booklet that is available for free download or reading online. The booklet is called Our Gallant Men. It tells the stories of the 22 men whose names are etched on the granite memorial; where they served and what happened to them. Together this booklet and the granite memorial serve to honor our fallen Vietnam War Veterans of Mendocino County, CA who made the ultimate sacrifice during that war.
Click on this link for document with stories:

Submitted by Dennis Miller (Maj. USA Ret.)

Special Forces Monument Re-Dedicated
 America's Response Monument, the nation's first publicly accessible monument dedicated to U.S. Special Forces, was re-dedicated overlooking the National 9/11 Memorial area in Liberty Park in New York City on Sept. 13, 2016. 

The statue was commissioned by an anonymous group of Wall Street bankers who lost friends in the 9/11 attacks. The sculpture honors the servicemen and women of America's Special Operations response to 9/11, including those who fought in the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom. Embedded in the statue's base is a piece of steel from the World Trade Center. For more information on the monument, visit the Wikipedia website

For more resources on U.S. Special Forces and operations, visit the Special Operations page.

Special Operations:

Integrating VA and Outside Docs
Commission on Care leaders defended their tough diagnosis and 18-point treatment plan for what ails the VA healthcare system, including their controversial push to let veterans begin to choose their own primary care doctors from new, integrated networks of VA and private-sector physicians. Answering critics who say they went too far or not far enough in proposing to transform the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) over the next 20 years, Commission Chair Nancy Schlichting, chief executive officer of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, and vice chair Dr. Delos "Toby" Cosgrove, CEO of worldwide Cleveland Clinic hospitals, warned the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday that VHA is rife with weaknesses. For more details, see
Related Topic
Veteran Health Car, see

Troop Pay Raise at 1.6 Percent in 2017
President Barack Obama on Wednesday set the military pay raise at 1.6 percent for next year. The figure is higher than the 1 percent increase he approved for civilian employees in the federal government but lower than the 2.1 percent bump service members are supposed to receive under the formula in current law. The change to monthly basic pay will take effect Jan. 1 and marks the fourth straight year troops will see their pay raise fall short of private sector-wage growth.

What does this mean for you? See your proposed 2017 pay charts now.
Note: Each year Military Retirement pay, Survivor Benefit Plan Annuities, VA Compensation and Pensions, and Social Security benefits are adjusted for the rate of inflation. This annual Cost of Living Adjustment is determined by the Consumer Price Index for the previous year. In a normal cycle the CPI for a given year is compared to the previous year to determine the actual rate of inflation.

Almost a Million Expected for 'Blended' Retirement
More than 740,000 currently serving active duty members and 176,000 drilling Reserve and National Guard personnel are expected to opt in to the new BRS, or Blended Retirement System, when the choice becomes available in 2018 to military members with fewer than 12 years' service. The opt-in estimates are the product of a "dynamic retention" computer model developed by RAND Corporation and used to predict how personnel will react to a new retirement choice. The BRS was designed by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission and approved by Congress last year after lawmakers tweaked a few features. 

For more details, see this Military Advantage blog post.

VA Offers Care for Traveling Veterans & 
Veterans Seeking Care at an Alternate VA

If you are enrolled and receive your health care with VA, you will receive the same, consistent care, whether at your local VA health care facility or an alternate VA health care facility.

In order to help VA ensure you receive consistent care while you are traveling or if you relocate, we ask that you notify your local VA Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT), preferably 4 to 6 weeks prior to departure, or as soon as you are aware. Early planning will allow time for your local PACT and the Traveling Veteran Coordinator to coordinate your care at the alternate VA health care facility. 

If you are unable to make an appointment to see your PACT or provider in person, you may reach them by telephone or through secure messaging in My Health Vet:

 To coordinate your health care with another VA health care facility, you should inform your PACT of the following:
Travel destination(s), and temporary address
A valid telephone number
Arrival and departure dates
Specific care concerns

Your PACT will contact the Traveling Veteran Coordinator, who will assist in coordinating your care at the alternate VA health care facility.

For more information, contact your PACT or Traveling Veteran Coordinator at your local VA facility.

National Coast Guard Museum
Since 1790, the brave men and women of the United States Coast Guard have been standing the watch for you. Night and day, in good weather and bad, its devoted members have been the first responders when disaster strikes at sea. For 226 years, the Coast Guard has tirelessly answered the call for our Nation, saving lives, enforcing maritime law, combating terrorism, and protecting the environment from oil spills and pollution.

As the oldest continuous seagoing service within the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, the U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for the day-to-day protection of the United States and waterways around the globe. Some of the most impactful moments of our Nation's history would not have been as successful were it not for the Coast Guard.

Remarkably, the Coast Guard is the only armed service branch without a national museum. When opportunities arose to receive Federal funding, this traditionally underfunded agency has consistently prioritized operations over building a museum. It will take all of our efforts to bring a museum to life.

We will add a National Coast Guard Museum to our Nation's most sacred military heritage sites. The first of its kind museum will give the U.S. Coast Guard the venue it deserves to showcase its rich and important history, while educating current and future generations about the value of this military branch. The museum will provide the Coast Guard with a national platform to share its crucial role in saving and protecting lives and commerce along America’s waterways.

The National Coast Guard Museum will be constructed on the historic waterfront of downtown New London, Connecticut. The Coast Guard has celebrated a presence in New London since 1791, and will incorporate the nearby Coast Guard Academy and USCG Research and Development Center in the Museum’s story. Additionally, “America’s Tall Ship”, the Coast Guard Barque EAGLE will adorn the waterfront while homeported at the 
New London City Pier adjacent to the Museum.

Once built, museum patrons will have a place to witness the founding of the U.S. Coast Guard, participate in some of the service’s most dramatic rescues, explore longtime industry and civic partnerships, and see firsthand what it is to be Semper Paratus: Always Ready. 

The museum will provide an immersive educational experience for visitors of all ages. In particular, the museum’s STEM Learning Center will be a physical hub inside the museum with a global reach via its on-site, outreach, and virtual programs, that will engage and support today’s youth inspiring them to become tomorrow’s critical thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators. We envision the STEM Learning Center’s programs will complement school curriculum to inspire student’s early interest in STEM fields and will provide support in cultivating that interest as teenagers. Additionally, displays will connect museum patrons with real-time missions via streaming video. This virtual element will allow visitors to see servicemen and women conduct marine environmental inspections in Long Beach, California, rescue missions off the coast of New England, drug interventions along the Gulf Coast, and tug boat regulations on the Mississippi River. Interactive exhibits will engage the public in science and engineering challenges, using principles of aeronautics, propulsion, informatics, meteorology, navigation, and other Coast Guard-related sciences. 

Under the direction of a distinguished Board of Directors and Honorary Board, the National Coast Guard Museum Association, Inc. launched a national fundraising campaign in June 2013 to build this museum. With a ceremonial groundbreaking in May 2014, the effort got underway with noteworthy gifts from J.D. Power III, founder of J.D. Power & Associates and Coast Guard veteran; Boysie Bollinger, founder of Bollinger Shipyards; and support from major American Waterway Operator companies. Augmented by a commitment of $20 million in funding from the State of Connecticut and recent changes in our Federal Authorization, we have embarked on a $100 million capital campaign as the project moves from the design to construction phase. We are taking great strides to generate the capital necessary to design and build a museum worthy of our Coast Guard and your philanthropy.  Discover more by visiting us at

Member Submissions

It's Only a Movie
By Al Bell
As a small boy I was terrified by Bud Abbot and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein, a comedy which featured Lou Costello in constant danger of being attacked by such horror film villains asCount Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, and the Wolf Man. Each time Lou was in peril, I would hide my eyes, while my dad would comfort me with the words, "Don't worry. It's only a movie." I soon relaxed. No one was really hurt.

In 1969, I became the senior advisor to a South Vietnamese River Assault and Interdiction Division (RAID), consisting of 21 river boats which had been transferred from the U.S. Navy's "Brown Water Navy." I was a Navy lieutenant, and I was assisted by about six enlisted men. We provided technical support and advice in the maintenance and operation of the heavily armed boats. We liaised with U.S. units when the Vietnamese needed air or artillery support. We also helped with logistics in obtaining fuel and ammunition.

My position as an advisor gave me a sense that I was sort of an observer of the passing scene, only becoming involved when help was needed. While I had been to school to learn riverine tactics, the Vietnamese had actually been at war for decades. I had more to learn than to teach.

RAID 72 had the job of transporting a battalion of Vietnamese marines into combat in the U-Minh Forest of the Mekong Delta. We would typically put the marines ashore at a point determined by intelligence to have a concentration of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. Our boats would then move into blocking positions, while the marines with air and artillery support would attempt to drive the enemy into our ambush. More commonly, the enemy would fade into the jungle while the marines gave futile chase, leaving the boats to sit and wait for the marines to return.

During Tet of 1968 the enemy had suffered so many casualties that they withdrew into the U-Minh Forest to lick their wounds and to regroup. Both the U.S. and South Vietnamese believed we had the enemy on the run. The South Vietnamese launched a "Dark Forest" Campaign to destroy the remaining enemy in that area. 

Our boats carried the marines down a long, narrow canal, the Song Cai Lon. We had to fight our way down. Ahead of my boat, a monitor (a boat bristling with guns) was sunk by an IED made from a U.S. 500 lb. bomb, killing all five sailors on board. 

Ever the dispassionate observer, I photographed the boat as it was sinking. After all, this seemed just a movie. There was nothing for me to do but to send a report.

Farther down the canal we bivouacked at a place on the canal shown as the village of Dong Hung. It had been destroyed years before, the villagers had been relocated to a government area, and the jungle had closed in. Still there were the 273rd North Vietnamese Regiment and thousands of VC.

The marines established a small command post (CP) at Dong Hung and the main force went out into the jungle to find the enemy. Our boats moored on both banks of the canal near the CP. My Vietnamese counterpart, Lieutenant Commander Binh, the commanding officer of RAID 72, explained to me that the plan for defending ourselves if attacked was to move the boats to the outside ends of the stretch of the canal bounding our encampment. The boats could then have interlocking fields of fire. I had been concerned that no defensive barrier had been established, no barbed wire had been strung, nor had trees been felled to provide those fields of fire. They assured me that this would have to do since they did not know how long we would be there. I just thought about Roman Legions on the march who erected timber palisades wherever they stopped, even if it were only for the night.

I don't recall how many days we were there while the marines were away looking for the enemy. Reports generated by me tracked Vietnamese marine movements, engagements, casualties, and the status of boats. In addition to the 110 Vietnamese sailors, there was one of my enlisted advisors, Radioman 3rd class Bruce McIver, and two enlisted advisors from RAID 74, which provided some of the boats in our group of twenty-one. At night, I would lie under mosquito netting on an air mattress and listen to the chatter on my AN/PRC-25 short range (VHF FM) radio. There were just brief communications between the U.S. Marine advisor, Maj. Mike Cerreta, and the pilot of an Army single-engine forward air control (FAC) aircraft which coordinated air support.

At about 1 a.m. on November 6, I was listening to the Marine advisor and the FAC pilot when the FAC signed off and headed for his base. That meant that there would be no further communication, so I drifted off to sleep. Thirty minutes later, I was jarred awake by explosions all around me. Was this just a movie? Mortar rounds were impacting throughout the CP and among the boats. Soon, it became apparent that we were under attack by a large force, perhaps two battalions (500-600 men each) armed with 82 mm mortars, 60 mm mortars, 57 mm recoilless rifles, rocket propelled grenades (RPG), Chinese machine guns, and AK-47 assault rifles. Swarming from the jungle, they quickly overran the CP, destroying tents, huts, bunkers, and communication equipment. The small contingent of Vietnamese marines and their U.S. advisors were forced to retreat onto the boats. 

Plans to move the boats to the edges of the CP evaporated under the speed of the attack. Soon the enemy was among us, climbing on some boats with hand grenades and satchel charges. Most boats got underway from the west bank of the canal and moved to the east bank, for, although we were completely surrounded, the main force of the attack was from the west.

Maj. Cerreta retreated to my Command and Control Boat (CCB) with many Vietnamese marines, some of whom were badly wounded. The CCB tried to back off the west bank but it was tied with nylon lines to a bush on the bank. The CCB backed at full power, but it could only fishtail helplessly three feet from the bank while the enemy on the bank was raking us with rockets and small arms fire. Maj. Cerreta and I crawled to the bow trying to free the line, but it was hopeless. The major even tried unsuccessfully to shoot the line in half with his military issue 1911 Colt.45 Cal pistol. 

I jumped below, fetched my Buck knife, and ran back up to the deck. We had been hit by four B40 RPGs, and the boat was on fire from burning fuel. I told Maj. Cerreta that I was going to crawl up and cut the line. Reinforcing my feeling that this was only a movie, he held up his pistol and said, "I'll cover you!" I crawled exposed up to the bow and found a Vietnamese marine still trying fruitlessly to free the line; I shoved him aside and cut it loose. The CCB quickly moved to the east bank, only 20 yards from the enemy who pounded us with crew manned weapons from the west bank. We fired back with every weapon we had.

The fierce fighting continued until dawn. A medevac helicopter relayed a request for air support. This turned out to be Shadow and Spooky gunships, cargo planes fitted with high speed Vulcan guns. Those Gatling type guns fired so many rounds that it appeared they were pouring liquid metal on the enemy.

In the morning, I organized the evacuation of the many wounded. A man pressing a battle dressing against his belly to hold his intestines in place was begging me to get the helicopters there fast. Each time the helos approached, the VC would fire mortars at us. 

After it was all over, I had fired every one of the 500 rounds of M-16 ammunition that I had. A quick survey revealed that all of the boats were out of ammunition, too. I urgently requested helo delivery of all types of ammunition. It did not arrive until the following day. Had we been attacked that night, we would have been wiped out.

Searing my soul for life is a scene from the morning after the fight. Lacking body bags, the Vietnamese had wrapped one of our sailors in a plastic rain poncho. I remember thinking irrationally as I looked at the face limned against the plastic, "He can't breathe!" Then it came home to me — he would never breathe again! We suffered 44 killed and 151 wounded. Seventy-five enemy bodies were found.

The night of November 8, the enemy attacked again, this time sinking two boats, but we held them off again, but with more casualties on both sides. My realization at this point that this was not a movie and that I had nearly five more months of this affected me deeply. Clearly, this was serious business. 

The week in March 1970 that I left Vietnam, we killed a VC whose possessions included a citation for his role in the November 6, 1969 attack on us. Unfortunately, the same firefight which killed that VC resulted in the death of a U.S. Army advisor to Regional and Popular Forces we were transporting.

 Al Bell is a writer and publisher who just released his second book "Sea Story!" and Other Sketches: Memories and musings from a life of adventure. Available from (search term; "CDR BELL"). My first book, "Sea Story!" & Other Sketches, is still available there.

The book is a collection of previously published stories, essays, rants, and musings by 'Skipper Al' Bell, whose adventurous life has given him a unique perspective on the world. The writings range from interesting accounts of real events to humorous lampoons and fiction. Some are inspiring, while others are ironic. The gentle reader may not agree with the author on some issues, in which case the reader is almost certainly wrong. His writings are part Mark Twain, part Jonathan Swift, and a large dose of Mad Magazine. Some stories are serious and uplifting. Others reflect brooding depression. All are entertaining.

Looking For

Do You Know These Men?

Sirs it would mean a lot to me if you can find out where they are.The photo was taken in our barracks at Fort Jackson SC.on or about Dec 1958 or Jan 1959. We were in Co D 12th Bn 3 Rd Tng Regt  USATC INF Fort Jackson SC .
They were from Albuquerque NM, both American Indian. The guy in the middle last name started with a J, the shorter guy on the right was nicknamed Pinto, and the guy on the right is me. Click 

I hope I gave you enough information. Thank you and thank you for your service.

Richard Holler
Click here to see the full size photo:

CMSgt Robert Daugherly
Trying to reach a CMSgt Robert Daugherly, we were I think at U-Tapao From 1971-1972 while I was there I drove the Launch Truck. I worked out of The Bomb/Nav Shop. I need this because I am i'm having problems with The VA on  agent orange. Hope you can help me with this. Thanks in advance. My phone # is 407 718 6735 you may call at any time.
 Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
George Brooks

Blue Star Pilots
I am looking for Blue Max and D Troop 17th Cav Cobra pilots who escorted a single Blue Star Huey on an emergency extract of wounded South Vietnamese from a battalion surrounded by an NVA regiment on 14 July 1972 in Northern I Corps. There were 2 Blue Max cobras and 2 D Troop cobras. I was flying dash two D Troop snake.
Medals were promised but due to the turmoil of the Easter Offensive and the withdrawal of US forces, never materialized. That Huey pilot was the bravest guy I’ve ever seen. I tried to initiate this in 2000 but there was no interest. I think the interest is there now.
Please contact me at
Mike Williams

Do You Remember Me?
My name is Joseph LaRicci. I was known as Sgt Ricci or Sgt Ricky (They pronounced my name Ricky). I went to Korea  Aug 4, 1950 I belive. I was in I Co. 38th Infantry Reg.- 2nd Infantry Division from about Aug 1950 to Aug 1951. I was in the 3rd Platoon and Lt Robbie was my Platoon Leader. I am 84 years old and cannot remember the names of most of my Platoon or Company members. I was at Kuna Rea When the Chinese came into the war. I lost a good amount of buddies in that retreat. Sgt Peter Patete was one. Many who were killed in early combat were Louis Bird, Richard Carrigo, Pvt Castro, Orlondo Calabres. So many, I can't remember all their names.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, please contact me. I'd love to hear from old friends.

Joseph LaRicci

Shipmates of Herman J. Nash
My name is Joseph Duegaw and I am the Brother In Law for Herman J.Nash.  I am trying to find anyone who knew Herman J. Nash who was stationed aboard the USS La Salle  during the period of 5 Dec 1967 to 29 Feb 1968 and the USS Lindenwald during the period of 27 Aug 1965 to 31 Jul 1966 . If anyone remembers him please contact Herman Nash's Brother In Law Joseph Duegaw who is also a retired veteran on his behalf.. Mr. Nash passed away on 11 Jul 2016 from a disease he contracted while in the Navy during these periods and we need written testimony as to the type of work he did aboard ship as a welder, such as welding on asbestos pipes as well as the fumes he had to breath in. while welding. This information is being obtained for his widow who is my Sister for filing a VA Claim.  

Any assistance will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.


Joseph H. Duegaw, Jr., MSgt, USAF (Ret)
Brother In Law of  Herman J Nash

Help a Homeless Vet
I would like to say what a small world we live in that a few weeks ago I was going home after a full day driving for Uber and saw a homeless man in the median who looked in desperate need of water. He was holding a sign saying "Homeless Navy Vet" on it and I inquired as to what ships and when. The 1st ship he mentioned was the USS Nimitz CVN68 from 1977 to 1979. I was also on Nimitz during that time and and he asked what division and I said S-3. I actually knew the guy but after 37 years everybody changes and some not for the better. I came by later and picked him up and brought him home for a short time then he said he had to get back to his 4th wife whom was also homeless in Las Vegas. I took him back to her and the next day I tracked him down and got him some food and more water. I also gave him my business card to contact me again when he was ready. I tried tracking him down again to no avail. I wanted to bring him to the local VA outreach center in town but I have not been able to find him so far. I knew him as SHSA Harkness but he is actually now a Navy Retiree retiring as an SH1. Wanted to know if you could get the word out about his condition and for shipmates we served with to find him and his wife and give them a helping hand. We owe it to them and ourselves not to abandon our old shipmates even after 37 years.  

Thank You,  Peter Hagen SH2 USN-RET

If you have any information or can help, email Pete at

Hill 182 Korea Vets
I was in Korea 1951 & 1952 I was discharged June 1952. I was on Hill 812 where I contracted Hepatitis. In August I went in the I spent one year recovering. I was told my condition was not service connected, yet this area was called Hep Valley. I am looking for other Marines who served in this area.

I want to find other service members who served in the area of Hill 812 to verify my findings.

Irvin M Leatherbury

Harold Alvin McGee
I am Harold Alvin McGee who served in Korea in Dec. 1973 until Dec 1974. I filed for PTSD and looking for someone who was there with me when one soldier attacked another. I have pictures but no names to go with them. The VA requires names. The attacker was from San Antonio Tx, the receiver was from Baltimore Md. 

I was in Ft. Bliss, Tx from Jan. 1979 until June 1979 work in (CIF) Central Issue Facility. HHB HQ Command when a guy was arrested for killing his wife's ex-husband, I need his name. 

Any info I is truly appreciated. 

Do You Know David Michael Backes
I have filed a claim on behalf of his widow. I need to find any other Air Force Veteran who may have been deployed with Mr. Backes and where did they arrive after leaving the United States of America. It is my understanding that pretty much the majority of Air Force personnel flew into Tan Son Nhat Airport, Vietnam prior to deployment to any of the RTNAB (Royal Thai Navy Air Bases) such as Utaoao, Thailand.

The Department of Veterans Affairs of course is questioning whether David ever set foot (boots on the ground) in Vietnam. This appears to be the only issue that is preventing his spouse from getting the claim granted.

Department of Finance and Accounting Services claim they can't find any records in David's file. In other words there are no travel vouchers to verify where he flew to prior to arriving in Utapao, Thailand.

David's information on where he trained, who he served with and his assignments are listed below.

   1.  8/12/1965-Basic Airmen Enlisted/3709  Lackland AFB, Texas (ATC)

   2.  9/15/1965-Student AFI/3419TH Student Sq, Lowry AFB, Colorado, (ATC)

   3. 10/26/1965-20430 Stu (CrsABR 20430-1 3427 Stu, Lowry AFB, Colorado (ATC)

   4.  3/3/1966-Intelligence Operations Specialist (100)  306th Bomb Wing, McCoy AFB, Florida (SAC)

 His Tour of  Duty is listed as follows;

1.  9/27/1966-TDY 4133 Bomb Wg, APO San Francisco 96334 Departed September 26, 1966 UNACC FSSD-None 15 Feb 66, Isolated Area (ADJ);   Then it states the date departed as July 29, 1967, NA For Accompanied or Unaccompanied FSSD July 25, 1968 Isolated Area Yes-R

2.  3/31/1967-Intel Operations Specialist 306th Bomb Wing, McCoy AFB, Florida (SAC)

3.  4/21/1967-Intelligence Operations 306th Bomb Wing, McCoy AFB, Florida (SAC)

4.  8/1/1967-Intelligence Operations Specialist HqSq 4258th SWg, U-Tapao AF, Thailand (SAC)

5.  8-25/1968-T-10 Engraver 15th Recon Tech Sq March AFB, California   (SAC)

6.  10/31/1968-Air Intelligence Analyst 15th Recon Tech Sq March AFB, California (SAC)

7.  1/15/1969-RAD  AFM  39-10  SDN:715

8.  1/16/1969-HQ ARPC (ORS) Denver, Colorado  

In addition, I was told that the Air Force had Softball Teams (David played on the team) that traveled away from there assigned bases to possibly other Royal Thai Navy Air Bases. I don't know if any stops had to be made at Tan Son Nhat, Vietnam. 

If there is anyone who was a closed friend who deployed, served, played on the softball team or had the same Air Force Specialty Code of Operations Intelligence Specialist at Utapao or Guam and worked with David I would greatly appreciate it if you could please contact me at (714) 904-5652. 


USMC Combat Helicopter & Tiltrotor Association

During the Vietnam War from 1962 to 1975, helicopter crews were able to locate their fellow Marines on the ground by asking them to "pop a smoke"   in the landing zone. The brightly colored smoke grenade identified the ground unit location, and provided landing zone wind information to the pilot. The primary Mission of our Association is to maintain the camaraderie of the Marine combat helicopter/Tiltrotor flight crews and support personnel who served together. Those direct support personnel importantly include Corpsmen and Flight Surgeons. Our biannual reunion offers all our members an opportunity to renew, in person, the bonds formed with squadron mates and other Marines with whom they served or supported in combat. The "POP A SMOKE" in our logo signifies a location to muster or an "LZ" where these great reunions are held.

The Association, originally known as the USMC/Vietnam Helicopter Pilot & Aircrew Association, is now known as the USMC/Combat Helicopter & Tiltrotor Association with REGULAR or ASSOCIATE MEMBERSHIPs available. The Association's name has evolved through the years to accommodate changes in Marine Aviation squadron designations. Although the Association's name has had changed numerous times, the mission statement has remained the same - "This Corporation shall preserve and promote the camaraderie of those U.S. Marine Corps Pilots, air-crewmen and associated support personnel who were associated with Marine Helicopters & Tilt Rotor Aircraft". Through our organization's newsletter "POPASMOKE", and the website, we are establishing and maintaining contact with all former and current Marine helicopter/Tiltrotor crews, including pilots, crew-chiefs, gunners, air observers, maintenance, corpsmen (USN), flight surgeons (USN), chaplains (USN) and all other support personnel.

Every two years (during even years), we get together in a different region of the country to have a reunion. Our numbers are growing, with 5700+ current and former members. We're glad you found us. Feel free to join us, or just stop in at often to "check things out".

Join us here

Worthy Causes

Heroes 4 Horses
Our mission is to make horseback riding affordable for, and accessible to, our service members, veterans, survivors, First Responders and their immediate families, as well as other heroes in our communities including, but not limited to, nurses, special needs teachers, and others who service and sacrifice keep us safe and free.

Click here to read more.


Letters to the Editor

I enjoy the "Dispatches" section immensely. My only suggestion is that it would be nice if you could click on the accompanying pictures and enlarge them for clarity as they are often hard to see in the presented format.
 ~Robert "Bob" Ashley, U.S. Navy Retired

Note from the editor: Bob, the look for a change to the "Dispatches" format in the coming months. We will see if we can incorporate a click to zoom feature for the photos.


Book Review: The Court-Martial of Benedict Arnold
To Hear Silence - Second Edition
By Ronald W. Hoffman

This book is a first-hand account of the true story of the 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines and their artillery support unit, Charlie Battery 1st Battalion, 13th Marines. It covers the time from their formation in July, 1966 until the original members left Khe Sanh in October 1967.

"To Hear Silence" paints an accurate portrayal of their experiences through a day-by-day and often a minute-by-minute account of these Marines' time together.

The book's Prologue covers the history of Vietnam from before the Second World War when it was part of the French Colonies until our government decided to stop funding the war.

The book then goes into the training these Marines went through for eight weeks before boarding ships and heading to Vietnam. On the way they hit Typhoon Ida with 200 mile-per-hour winds which caused major damage to the convoy. They then made their way to Okinawa and eventually Subic Bay in the Philippines where they were part of a Special Landing Force guarding the northern half of South Vietnam.

"To Hear Silence" then takes you into the details of their operations while in Vietnan, from Operation Chinook I and II, to Phu Bai, and then up to Khe Sanh and the battles near Con Thien.

Most of what Hoffman writes tells of the battles these brave young men fought both in their personal lives and in combat. These Marines fought through some of the harshest conditions of the war, from living in the field during the monsoonal rains to hacking their way through 10-foot razor sharp 'elephant' grass in 100-plus-degree temperatures. It was his time as a Radio Operator (RTO) on a Forward Observer Team with Marine infantry units where he digs deep into his own emotions.

Hoffman provides great details on the many battles and attacks experienced during Charlie Battery's time in combat when four men were killed and many others wounded. He reminds the reader often on how these men stayed focused on trying to bring freedom to the Vietnamese people in spite of the hardships and the ever present homesickness in a land of strange odors, bugs, snakes, leeches, C-Rations and constant danger.

In an interview, Hoffman recalled his feelings as he stood looking out at the area where Operation Chinook took place on his return to Vietnam. He said, "There's a lot of different silences in the world and one of them is looking at an old battlefield. For my wife, she was looking at a field, for me I could see the guns, the things going just like I was still there."

In his research for his book, Hoffman discovered at least 42 of the men from his unit had died since returning home, most because of Agent Orange. Hoffman himself has battled prostate cancer.

He's hoping his book inspires fellow Vietnam veterans to take the time to write some of their thoughts, feelings and what it was like to have been in combat before the memories are gone.

Recommend this book to all veterans, especially those Marines and Soldiers whose lives were undoubtably saved by the artillery support they received when the fighting got the toughest. Charlie Battery was there when artillery was most needed and according to Hoffman, they had 756 confirmed enemy kills and an unknown number who died from their wounds.

Ron dedicated his book to all the men he fought beside in Vietnam - and the mothers who waited for them to come home.

Reader Reviews
A first-person account of the Vietnam War. Unvarnished and true to life (and death). A "must read" for everyone who thinks they know what war is like. Thank you, Ron, for your chronicle of Charlie Battery.

This book is an interesting read. It is not a rehash of the Vietnam War as told by historians, or politicians, or generals. It is the experience of a young man and his fellow marines as they dealt with jungle warfare. Hoffman tells his story well as he conveys to the reader his uncertainties and fears, and even adds some humor. I think this book will help those who did not serve in Vietnam, like myself, to understand the situation these young men faced and endured. This is an excellent book and I highly recommend it.

About the Author
Ronald W. Hoffman worked for his father's construction company before joining the Marines and returned to the job until he started his own remodeling company. In 1976 he went to work for the Weyerhaeuser Company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin starting as an Assistant Designer working his way up through Designer, Senior Designer, Lab Manager, and finally Product Development Manager. In 1995 he began his own consulting business and retired at age 55 due to advanced prostate cancer. He and his wife Nancy are currently living in Green Bay, WI. Hoffman has two grown children; Cassandra and Derrick. 

Photo is the author on the right laying a wreath in the nation's capital in September 2014 during a reunion of Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion 13th Marine Regiment 5th Marine Division. A video of the ceremony can be found at:

The Grass Swale: Living With Guilt, Depression, and PTSD
By Mickey Thomas

At the age of fifteen, Mickey loses his older brother, Larry, who is killed in a car accident; an accident that took split second timing for two cars to come in contact on a remote highway in rural Iowa. At age twenty he arrives in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine Corps Infantryman. 

"The Grass Swale" is a section of foot path in Vietnam that changes the lives of six Marines, including the author, who lives with the mental anguish and nightmares caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He had been told by a professional that he must be present during an event for it to cause PTSD. Witnessing a tragic or near death event most certainly can cause PTSD but so too can being near such an event. However, many Vietnam veterans have PTSD simply from being in a war zone where death could come at any minute from enemy rockets. 

In Arnold Palmer's book, "A Golfer's Life", he describes an event while at Wake Forest, where his roommate and golf team member was killed in a car accident. He had been invited to go along by his roommate, but declined. He describes that event as a "shadow" in his life. Mickey's shadow has been darker, much darker. The fact he was not present when his friend Bucky hit the booby trap does not take the anxiety away; what effect has it had on his life, how could things have been different, what could he have done? It could have been him. Why wasn't it? Did it happen to him in another place or time? 

"The Grass Swale" is a love story and follows the ups and downs of the narrator. There are moving descriptions of Larry and split-second decisions which weigh heavy, and there is the fighting in Vietnam. Anyone who romanticizes about war should read the first-hand accounts of life there during the war-years. The first-person narrator suffers from guilt, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder but most of the book talks about other things and is a diary-like chronicle of his family life, work and holidays. He lists many, many events and I am sure he selects too comprehensively. None the less, his impressive list takes us through years of life in America with its ups and downs. He almost always seems to be changing jobs and moving. There is quite a surprise towards the end when his finances go bad and he is called upon to fall back on post-traumatic stress disorder.

In his book, the author shares his life story with a sense of humor only those who know him can appreciate. 

Walk with Mickey down the grass swale. The trail will lead to a girl named Hope and a love story begins.

Reader Reviews
War is an illness that you not only have to suffer through; it also offered a unique opportunity to re-identify with our past.

The Grass Swale is not just a real life story squeezed into Memoir of a Vietnam Veteran book, but above all it is a touching and emotional story of America's Living History. It says that the most important things in people's lives, such as love and friendship, kindness and care cannot be seen or even touched, but just felt in the heart. It is a real journey into the depths of the human soul, which encourages people to reflect on their own attitudes and actions and tells them what simple pleasure makes you happy. One of the main messages of the book is the overall idea of the inevitability of life and death.

Fortunately, Mickey's book doesn't end in Vietnam, he is sent home and is expected to fit right back into the life he had before the war. However, Mr. Thomas goes through a phase of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, book talks mostly about family life, work and holidays, including a truly personal place about his brother's death in car accident. In other words, "The Grass Swale" is about the destiny of man who is indeed, "One of Us."

There is also the crucial question: "What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind as a person?" I'm positive that here you can find the answer to this question, and many others, and receive some advice. 
~Igor Eliseev

I met Mickey and Hope several years ago while on vacation. Hope is a powerhouse of joy and love, and Mickey was obviously just crazy about her. But there was something haunting him and we did not talk about it at the time.
After reading his book I have a much better idea of the "what and why". He and his family have survived and thrived, despite the shadows that accompany him, with humor and grace. It's difficult to understand that so many of our Vietnam Vets have similar shadows with which they deal on a daily basis. Hopefully they will have an opportunity to read Mickey's story and see themselves as well - and know that their story has been shared.
~Suzanne lipke

I met Mick in Marine Scout Sniper School in early 1970. Afterwards, we traveled to Vietnam where we departed into separate units. It is tough for this Vietnam veteran to read books on the war, although I have read plenty. This is due to the inaccuracies and hyperbole that veterans tend to input. It was refreshing to read accounts of the war as I remember them. Mick truly tells it like it is. No exaggerations, no B/S! He endured one of the Infantryman's toughest assignments in this steamy hot and humid climate, humping a radio, in addition to the substantial weight of other grunt gear and ammo. A war's radioman is the vital link between isolated units and support. Our missions launched us into jungles, rain forests, mountains, rice paddies, and even behind enemy lines (Mick writes about the mission "Scott Orchard" that sent us behind enemy lines in Laos to rescue POW's). The radioman directs tactical air requests (call for fire), medevac requests, pilots' briefings - both chopper and fighter planes, and simple everyday ration and supply orders.

It took nearly 45 years for me to reconnect with my old friend from sniper school. I was delighted to find that he had written a book about his life before, during, and after Vietnam. This is a great book, well written and interesting. It deserves the five stars that I give to it and that the many others have also.
~ David C. Gerhardt

Excellent book- I would highly recommend! This book is emotional and takes you through the ups and downs of life. The author's personality really shines through his writing. He has a dry, sarcastic sense of humor but then he also holds nothing back during some of the tougher segments like the Vietnam War and losing his brother, Larry. I think his story is probably not unique and that a lot of Vietnam vets, or veterans in general, could really relate to the topics he touches on. The most compelling theme in this book was how his life experiences really affected and shaped the lives of his wife and family. After all he had been through, he was still able to love and lead a happy life, and while never forgetting his brother or the war he lived through.
~Sarah Smile

About the Author
Mickey was born on August 15, 1950, in Colfax, Iowa. He and his two brothers, Larry and Alan, grew up on various farms in Story and Jasper counties. When Mickey was 15 his older brother, Larry, was killed in a car accident. Larry had asked Mickey if he wanted to go with him that night but Mickey declined; a decision he will forever regret. Later Mickey joined the Marine Corps and served a tour in Vietnam as a grunt.