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Note From the Editor

This issue of Dispatches includes two stories about World War II and a book review detailing a humorous account of American Soldiers in Australia awaiting shipment to war zones in the Pacific. We have a horrific story about the British POW Ships docked in Manhattan Bay in New York during the American Revolutionary War. We also have a story of the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War. Our Vietnam War story deals with a Special Forces operation early in the war.

Please let me know your comments regarding your Dispatches - things you like and things you like less. Also please contact me with any stories or articles you would like considered for publishing. I can be reached at Mike.Christy@togetherweserved.com.

All information for Bulletin Board Posts and Reunion Announcements please send to Admin@togetherweserved.com

Lt Col Mike Christy U.S. Army (Ret)


1/   View Your Entry in Our Roll of Honor!
2/   Revolutionary War Death Ship

3/   Preserve Your Old Photos: Let Us Help For Free!
4/   The Civil War's Bloodiest Battle
5/   Do You Still Have Your Boot Camp/Basic Training Photo?
6/   Battlefield Chronicles: Great Raid on Cabanatuan
7/   Featured Association: Marine Corps Mustang Association
8/   Military Myths & Legends: Russian Sniper Roza Shanina
9/   Have A Military Reunion Coming Soon?
10/ Bases, Places and Memories: Vietnam
11/ New Together We Served Military Store

12/ TWS Bulletin Board
13/ TWS Person Locator Service
14/ Book Review: c/o Postmaster

View Your Entry in Our Roll of Honor!

As a fitting tribute to our Members of Together We Served, your service to our country is now honored in our Roll of Honor, the most powerful online display of Living, Fallen and Deceased Veterans existing today. Our 1.67 million Veteran Members, who served from WWII to present day, now have a dedicated entry displaying a brief service summary of their service and their photo in uniform if posted.

You can find your Roll of Honor entry easily - click on the graphic below and select your service branch. Then enter your Last Name in the search window at top right and scroll down. Please check your entry for accuracy and Log in to TWS to update any information on your Profile Page, such as your Last Unit, and add your service photo for completeness if you haven't already done so. 

If you have any questions regarding your entry in our Roll of Honor, please don't hesitate to contact us at Admin@togetherweserved.com or contact our Live Help Desk at the bottom left of your TWS website.


Revolutionary War Death Ship

After the British evacuated Boston on March 17, 1776, Gen. George Washington guessed correctly that their next target would be New York. By mid-April, Washington had marched his 19,000 soldiers to Lower Manhattan. He strengthened the batteries that guarded the harbor and constructed forts in northern Manhattan and on Brooklyn Heights across the East River on Long Island.

On August 22, 1776, Gen. William Howe's large fleet and 34,000 army troops landed on Long Island, hoping to capture New York City and gain control of the Hudson River, a victory that would divide the rebellious colonies in half. 

Gen. Howe halted the fighting by the early afternoon and directed his men to dig trenches around the American position on the next day. Before they could be surrounded, Washington ordered his men to evacuate Long Island. From late in the evening of August 29 to dawn on the following morning, Washington watched as 9,000 Continentals were rowed back to Manhattan. As the sun came up, a fog miraculously descended on the remaining men crossing the river. According to eyewitnesses, George Washington was the last man to leave Brooklyn. At the Battle of Brooklyn, the Americans suffered 1,000 casualties to the British loss of only 400 men. Militarily, the British were now in control of New York City.

During their occupation, British forces captured or arrested thousands of soldiers and civilians, some after battles fought around New York and some for simply refusing to swear allegiance to the Crown. In addition, the Continental government had authorized a number of privately owned, armed ships to serve on behalf of the patriotic cause; some 55,000 American seamen would eventually serve as merchant marines or privateers. Whenever the British captured these privateers, they gave them the choice of joining the Royal Navy or going to prison. Most ended up in prison.

The problem was, management and treatment of prisoners of war were very different from the standards of modern warfare. Modern standards, as outlined in the Geneva Conventions of later centuries, expect captive to be held and cared for by their captors. The primary difference in the 18th century was the care and supplies for captives were expected to be provided by their own combatants or private citizens.

King George III of Great Britain had declared American forces traitor in 19775, which denied them prisoner of war status. However, British strategy during the early conflict included the pursuit of a negotiated settlement allowing officials to decline to try and/or hang them - the usual procedure for treason to avoid unnecessarily risking any public sympathy the British might have enjoyed in the Americas. Great Britain's neglect resulted in starvation and disease. Despite the lack of formal executions, neglect achieved the same results as hanging. 

American prisoners of war tended to be accumulated at large sites that the British were able to occupy for long periods of time. New York City, Philadelphia in 1777, and Charleston, South Carolina, were all major cities used to detain American prisoners of war. Facilities at these places were limited. At times, the occupying army was actually larger than the total civilian population. Other American prisoners were housed in other parts of the British Empire. Over 100 prisoners were employed as slave laborers in coal mines in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia - they later chose to join the British Navy to secure their freedom. Other American prisoners were kept in England (Portsmouth, Plymouth, Liverpool, Deal, and Weymouth), Ireland, and Antigua. By late 1782 England and Ireland housed over 1,000 American prisoners, who in 1783 were moved to France prior to their eventual release. 

Space in British jails on land soon ran out, and the British began housing prisoners aboard the abandoned or decommissioned warships anchored in Wallabout Bay, the small part of Upper New York Bay located along the northwest shore of the city of Brooklyn between the present-day Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridge.  

As a result, the most horrific struggle of the American Revolution occurred just 100 yards off New York, where more men and boys died aboard a rotting prison ship were lost to combat during the entirety of the war.

The first ships used by the British to hold prisoners were originally transports in which cattle and other stores were carried across the Atlantic. The first prison ship was the "Whitby." The captives aboard were allowed to keep their clothing and bedding but received no more of such commodities while on the ship. They were given no medical attention. The rations they received were either cut or substituted with unwholesome meat by corrupt British commissaries. The men aboard the "Whitby," seeing no hope for an exchange, set fire to their ship in October 1777, choosing death in the flames to lingering sufferings of disease and starvation. The burning of the "Whitby" and others like it did not bring the prison ships to an end.

The most infamous of the prison ships was the HMS Jersey or "Jersey" which was an old converted sixty-four-gun man-of-war, stripped of all its fittings except for the flagstaff. Every three days, rations would be given out to a six-man mess. On certain days, men were not allowed to cook fires and had to wait another twenty-four hours or consume their meat raw. Having no fruit or fresh vegetables, scurvy was naturally one of the diseases that afflicted the prisoners. The "Jersey" had on board anywhere from 400 to 1200 prisoners.

Conditions on board were beyond despicable. Meager rations of maggoty bread and rotted meat left the prisoners sick, weak, and emaciated. With no toilets to speak of, excrement piled up as thousands of men and boys were packed into the ship's dark, dank interior. Occasionally, groups of prisoners would escape overboard, only to be recaptured on British-held Long Island. As years slipped by on the Jersey, life became unbearable: unable to wash but with salt water, their skin turned sallow and hung over their skeletal bodies like old parchment. All thought was consumed by plans for escape, when not distracted by want of food or drink. By 1780, prisoners were dying aboard the Jersey at a rate of roughly ten each day. At least, that's how many bodies were unloaded from the ship every morning at 8 am. Corpses were brought up to the top deck as they were discovered, and left there until morning when they were piled onto a wooden plank and lowered over the ship's side to be buried in shallow pits on the sandy banks of Wallabout Bay. Sometimes, bodies would go weeks before being discovered, so dark were the prisoners' quarters. The air was reportedly so foul that no flame would stay lit.

And since the dead were buried in mass graves only two or so feet deep on sandy beaches, storms and tides regularly uncovered their rancid and decaying corpses, adding an increased air of death and misery to the already-gloomy bay. No records were kept of the dead, and last rites were rarely performed before they were unceremoniously dumped into their pits. Most prisoners remain nameless; their families would never have the closure of knowing what had happened to them

More than 1,000 men were kept aboard the Jersey at any one time, and about a dozen died every night from diseases such as small pox, dysentery, typhoid and yellow fever, as well as from the effects of starvation and torture. Even after the British surrender at Yorktown in late 1781, prisoners were kept aboard the Jersey and other ships until the war formally ended in 1783. At war's end, there were only 1,400 survivors among the inmates of the entire prison ship fleet, and at least 11,000 men and boys died aboard the ships from 1776 to 1783 - more than lost to combat (6,800) during the entirety of the war. The corpses of the dead were often tossed overboard, though sometimes they were buried in shallow graves along the eroding shoreline. Many of the remains became exposed or were washed up and recovered by local residents over the years.

Throughout the colonies, the mere mention of the ship sparked fear and loathing of British troops. It also sparked a backlash of outrage as newspapers everywhere described the horrors on board the ghostly ship. This shocking event, much like the better-known Boston Massacre before it, ended up rallying public support for the war.

In the years following the Revolution's conclusion, daily tides uncovered a seemingly countless number of skulls and bones on the shores surrounding Wallabout Bay. Skulls were said to litter the beaches as thick as a pumpkin patch, and children would kick them about like a ball. As Brooklynites collected more and more of the bones, calls began to ring out for a more respectful and honorable resting place for these most neglected of Patriots. As a result, in 1808, a crypt was constructed near the bay for the skeletal remains, almost none of which could be identified. There they would rest in relative peace for another century.

During that century, arguments waxed and waned regarding the construction of a more fitting memorial to these glorious dead. The flame of patriotism was fanned, funds were raised, and in 1908, on a hilltop overlooking the bay where so many thousands of tales of misery were played out, a monument was erected to the Prison Ship Martyrs. Beneath the 100 steps leading to the soaring memorial column was constructed a spacious crypt. Twenty slate boxes filled with the bones of the deceased thousands were placed in the crypt and sealed behind a bronze door. Twenty-thousand New Yorkers and other dignitaries turned out on a cold, rainy November day to dedicate the memorial.

But time has a way of erasing memories. As New York's fortunes ebbed in the later decades of the 20th century, so too did the fate of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument. A staircase and elevator which once ferried visitors to the column's pinnacle were both removed in 1945. Vandals marred its base with graffiti and in 1966, the monument's four large bronze eagles were removed to be restored, never to return (two remain in storage and two are on display at the armory in Central Park). 

As New York has gone through a bit of a renaissance in the past several years, the Martyrs Monument has not been entirely forgotten. Between 2006 and 2008, more than $5,000,000 was spent to restore the column and its surrounding plaza. Despite its restoration, however, the thousands who perished here and whose bones lie beneath our feet remain largely ignored by modern generations. In 2008, in celebration of the memorial's centennial, only 200 people turned out in the park. Compare that to the 20,000 who flocked there in the rain a century before.

These men walked and fought alongside George Washington. They suffered and died in the name of American independence. They endured untold indignities, even in death. And this largely-forgotten memorial atop a hill in Fort Greene Park is among the most hallowed ground in this nation. We owe everything we have today to the ideals these men held so dear. And we owe them our respect and an immense debt of gratitude.


Preserve Your Old Photos: Let Us Help for Free!

Do you have old photos from your service days stashed away in a drawer or in a shoe box in your attic? Old photos fade with time and if they are not scanned and preserved digitally, they risk eventually being lost forever.

This is where TWS can help. We have just invested in a high quality Fujitsu book and photo scanner that can scan any size of photo or yearbook. As a service to our members, we would like to offer you a free photo scanning service for your most significant photos from your service which we will then return to you, in original condition, along with a CD containing your photo files.

In addition, we can upload your photos for you to your Photo Album on your TWS Service Profile which will also appear in your Shadow box and available to you to access or download at any time.

Please contact us at Admin@togetherweserved.com for full details on this Free Service. 


The Civil War's Bloodiest Battle

On July 3, 1863, the three-day Battle of Gettysburg ended, leaving behind an estimated 51,000 total casualties - the highest number of any battle in the Civil War.

Following a series of military successes in Virginia, Confederate general Robert E. Lee took his troops north in June 1863 into south-central Pennsylvania. Lee was unaware until late June that the Union's Army of the Potomac, under General George G. Meade, had followed his army north, as Lee's cavalry, under JEB Stuart, was separated from the main body of the army and was thus unable to provide intel on the enemy's movements.

On July 1, elements of Lee's army came up against Union cavalry by chance outside the town of Gettysburg and fighting broke out. Both sides received reinforcements, and the Confederates were eventually able to push back the Federals to the south of Gettysburg. During the evening and the following morning, both sides gathered the rest of their armies, for a total of 83,000 Union troops and 75,000 Confederate.

At the commencement of fighting the following afternoon, July 2, the Union army was arranged like a fishhook, with the Confederates surrounding them to the north and west in roughly the same shape. The 2nd saw bloody fighting on the Union left and center, but despite high casualties, the Union was generally able to repulse the Confederates. Fighting also occurred on the Union right later that evening and continued after dark in a rare night battle.

On the 3rd, the Confederates once again launched an attack on the Union right, which was ultimately unsuccessful. Then, following a massive artillery bombardment, Lee attacked the Union center in what is commonly known as Pickett's Charge. During this attack, approximately 12,000 Confederate troops crossed nearly a mile of open ground to attack Union positions but were decimated by Union fire. The Confederates who made it to the enemy lines managed to briefly break through, but they were eventually repulsed. Also on this day, the Confederate cavalry - which had arrived on the afternoon of the 2nd - was put into action off the Union right flank, but with little result.

On the 4th, Lee waited for Meade's counterattack on his position, but it never came, so Lee's army withdrew back over the Potomac. Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of the war, with 23,000 Union casualties and 28,000 Confederate. It is often considered the turning point in the war and commonly referred to as the "high tide" of the Confederacy.


Do You Still Have Your Boot Camp/Basic Training Photo?

Together We Served has a growing archive of more than 10,000 Boot Camp/ Basic Training Graduation Photos which we now display on your Military Service Page and Shadow Box. We also have a growing collection of Yearbooks which we will be making available on the site shortly.

We are still searching for Boot Camp/ Basic Training Photos and Yearbooks. So if you have yours available, please contact us at Admin@togetherweserved.com or call us on (888) 398-3262.

Either you can send us a scanned file of your photo or you can send it to us for scanning. We will add this for you to the Recruit/ Officer Training section of your Military Service Page. 

All photos and yearbooks will be returned to you in original condition along with a CD containing your scanned photo. 


Battlefield Chronicles: Great Raid on Cabanatuan

Within weeks of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Imperial Army pushed American and Filipino troops out of Manila. They were forced into the jungles of the Bataan Peninsula and the Island of Corregidor where they were cut off from supplies. Hungry and suffering from tropical disease, the troops were promised by the commanding Gen. Douglas MacArthur that "thousands of planes" with food, medicine, and reinforcements were on their way. But no help had arrived by March when MacArthur was ordered to leave and set up a command in Australia. 

By April, Allied losses and the lack of supplies in Bataan were so bad that Maj. Gen. Edward King, the local commander, ordered the surrender of 70,000 troops (Filipinos and Americans); the largest American army in history to surrender. Having made plans to accept the surrender of about 25,000 soldiers, the Japanese were overwhelmed with POWs.

Food, water, and housing for all the unexpected prisoners were never supplied. Less fortunate than the men on Corregidor who surrendered a few months later, the exhausted, sick men pouring out of the Bataan jungles were force-marched through the heat on what survivors called "the Hike." History named it the Bataan Death March after thousands of United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) soldiers died from deprivation, disease, or simple execution; all stragglers were killed. Prisoners who reached the squalid prison camps alive realized that hunger, thirst, sickness, and brutal treatment would now be routine. 

Imperial Army soldiers had been trained to commit suicide to save their families from the "dishonor" of surrender. Ready to take their own lives, they had little concern for the lives of a dishonored enemy. Still, deadly as they were, Philippines POW camps weren't extermination camps - not until December 1944.

By then, the Allies were winning battle after battle and MacArthur was making good on his promise to "return." Japanese commanders of POW camps were given the option of killing their prisoners rather than return them to the Allies. On December 14, guards at the Palawan prison camp, fearing defeat, herded nearly 150 prisoners into bunkers and set the bunkers on fire.

MacArthur's forces invaded the Philippines in January. As they advanced, word reached Lt. Gen. Walter Kreuger of the Sixth Army about the Cabanatuan POW camp north of Manila, where 516 British and American Soldiers still survived. Many of them were survivors of the Hike. Kreuger ordered a rescue mission. 

But how to do it? Cabanatuan was 30 miles (48 km) inside enemy lines and heavily guarded. Surprise was essential: the Americans had to take control before the guards had time to kill the prisoners. But the prison was on open ground, and Caucasian U.S. Soldiers didn't exactly blend in with the Filipino community. And if the raid was successful, how could they move the prisoners out of enemy territory? The survivors in Cabanatuan were living skeletons who could barely walk. 

But after all those soldiers had suffered, Kreuger refused to let the men of Cabanatuan die. To accomplish his mission impossible, the general called on the Rangers.

The Sixth Army Rangers started out as "mule skinners," leading mules that packed heavy artillery through the mountains of New Guinea. The army decided pack mules were obsolete, but they kept the guys- sending them to train under Lt Col. Henry Mucci. Under Mucci's tough regime, homegrown farm boys became experts at hand-to-hand combat, bayonet and knife fighting, and marksmanship -elite fighters. 

Mucci asked for volunteers who would "die fighting rather than let harm come to those prisoners." Every single Ranger volunteered. And on January 28, 1945, they set out on their liberation mission. Guiding them secretly through rice paddies and cogon weeds were the Alamo Scouts (a Sixth Army outfit that gathered intelligence behind enemy lines) and Captain Eduardo Joson's group of Filipino guerrillas. The Scouts would provide information on the prison layout and the numbers and positions of the guards. Joson's guerrillas would cover the Rangers during the attack and -if all went well- on the return to base camp, too.

After close calls with enemy patrols and acquiring plenty of blisters, 120 Rangers and their guides ended their march successfully five miles from Cabanatuan. But Scouts brought bad news of heavy Japanese activity in and around the prison. A surprise attack and safe escape seemed more impossible than ever. 

Then salvation appeared in the form of Captain Juan Pajota. The United States Army Forces in the Far East guerrilla captain had heard that the Rangers planned the surprise break that night. Pajota and his men had arrived to help, but the Captain warned the Rangers to wait 24 hours, since many of the Japanese would be moving on. Mucci didn't like the delay, but he eventually agreed to it -and to some of Pajota's more unusual ideas, too. 

On the evening of January 30, Filipino guerrillas cut the phone lines to Manila. Captain Joson and Captain Pajota's combined forces of about 300 Filipino guerrillas blocked the east and west ends of the road that passed the POW camp, isolating the camp from enemy forces. But as the Rangers crawled the last mile through an open field, they knew the guards would spot them. 

Suddenly, a P-61 night fighter or "black widow" buzzed Cabanatuan POW camp. The plane (Pajota's idea) had been requested by Mucci. While the Japanese guards stared up at the sky, wondering if the plane would crash, the Rangers crawled into position. 

They divided up, some going to the main front gate and hiding until the others reached the back entrance, where signaling shots were fired. Then locks were shot off and the Americans moved inside the prison, guns blazing. They quickly overwhelmed the guards and the raid went like clockwork -until the evacuation. 

Hearing gunfire and sure they'd be murdered, many POWs hid. Others, out of touch for years and nearly blinded from starvation, didn't recognize the Rangers uniforms or weapons. Some POWs fled at the sight of their saviors; a few believed it was a trick and refused to go anywhere.

Pushing some prisoners toward freedom and carrying others, the Rangers hustled them to a site where Filipino civilians waited with Pajota's final gift -ox carts pulled by tamed carabao (water buffalo) for the prisoners to ride in. As Filipino guerrillas bravely held off the Japanese, and the Scouts stayed behind to fend off any retaliating Japanese, a strange band of prisoners, carabao, and former mule skinners traveled all night to the safety of the Allied front lines. About 1,000 people, including the U.S. Army, Filipino guerrillas, and unnamed Filipino civilians, had worked to set them free, resulting in the most spectacular and successful rescues in military history. 

Liberation of 552 Allied prisoners of war
2 killed
4 wounded
2 prisoners died

530 - 1,000+ killed

Eventually 272 American survivors of Cabanatuan sailed into the San Francisco Bay. Greeting them were crowds massed on the Golden Gate Bridge. As the former POWs sailed underneath the bridge, the cheering crowds threw gifts (coins, show tickets, and even lingerie) down to the deck of their ship. These heroes of the Philippines hadn't been forgotten after all.

In late 1945, the bodies of the American troops who died at the camp were exhumed, and the men moved to other cemeteries. Land was donated in the late 1990s by the Filipino government to create a memorial. The site of the Cabanatuan camp is now a park that includes a memorial wall listing the 2,656 American prisoners who died there.

Lt. Col. Henry Mucci and Capt. Robert Prince received the Distinguished Service Cross for their part in great raid on Cabanatuan - the most successful rescues in military history

Short film on survivors following their liberation.


Featured Military Association: Marine Corps Mustang Association

Together We Served is pleased to feature one of our Association Partners, the Marine Corps Mustang Association.

On 10 November 1985, Captain Robert E. Richter, USMC (Ret) founded The Marine Corps Mustang Association (MCMA), in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The MCMA is a full member of and participant in the National Marine Corps Council of Agencies.

Membership is open to any Marine, after having served on active duty in the enlisted ranks of the United States Marine Corps or Marine Corps Reserve, and has risen to the officer ranks, and further served as a commissioned or warrant officer on either active duty or reserve status.

If you would like more information on the MCMA and how to join, contact MTWS Member Tim Cook at Secretary@MarineCorpsMustang.org or visit their website at http://www.marinecorpsmustang.org/


Military Myths & Legends: Russian Sniper Roza Shanina

In the deep silence of the vast Russian pine forest, a small, lonesome figure was walking. It was just a few years before the outbreak of the Second World War. She had set out alone, without the permission of her parents, carrying only enough food to keep her on her feet for the long march. She was used to walking. Every day for years she had walked eight miles to and from her school in the little village closest to her home; she knew she could do it. Her self-belief and determined spirit drove her steadily on. She was fourteen years old.

This was Roza Shanina. She walked one hundred and twenty miles all alone, at last reaching a train station. From the station, she took the train to the city of Arkhangelsk, where she enrolled in the city's college.

She loved the city. The cinemas, the lights, the people and the bustle were worlds away from the isolation of her early years. She was friendly, quick, talkative, and highly intelligent, and so she made many friends. Often, she would return to her college dormitory after the doors had been locked, entering with the help of a rope of tied bed sheets let down by her friends inside.

When tuition fees were introduced she had to find a job to support her studies. The job was at a Kindergarten in the city, where she was well liked by the children, the parents, and the other staff. The job came with a little apartment, and for the first time, she had a place of her own. She worked during the day and studied at night, and the days were full and happy.

It was in 1943 that she enrolled in the military. Hitler had invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, launching the colossal Operation Barbarossa. By 1943, Roza Shanina had lost two brothers to the war, and she would lose a third before it was over.

She joined the Central Female Sniper Academy, where she excelled. In April of 1944, she was given command of an all-female sniper platoon and was deployed to the front.

In the aftermath of the hard-won Soviet victory at the battle of Stalingrad, the Russians launched a series of counterattacks against the German army. It was during these actions, in early April of 1944, that Roza took a human life for the first time. She was shaken, but her comrades congratulated her.

As the months passed she became battle-hardened and cold. Seven months after that first kill, her wartime diary recalls her feeling that she had found the true purpose of her life. She writes that, given the chance to go back, she would not change a thing.

It takes a steady hand and a resolute will to kill at range, and these elite soldiers were indeed resolute. Roza Shanina's unit screened the advancing infantry, hunting enemy snipers. then picked off enemy officers when committed to open battle.

The Soviet commanders were of a mind to keep the sniper units, including the women of Roza's command, back from the perils of the front in a pitched battle. Despite this policy, the women went where they were needed, and more than once this meant going into action against direct orders. Roza Shanina was sanctioned for disobeying orders, but her actions in combat and the actions of her unit made the commanders relent from pursuing harsh punishment.

Roza Shanina was sanctioned for disobeying orders, but her actions in combat and the actions of her unit made the commanders relent. She was soon back in the fight.

The women fought in battle after battle. In one action, their position was stormed by the enemy, and they fought hand to hand with bayonets and even shovels, killing many of the enemy and capturing the survivors.

In another action, Roza hunted an enemy sniper who was camouflaged in a tree. When dusk fell, the sky behind his tree was lit by the last light of the setting sun, and his sniper's nest was clearly silhouetted against the wide sky. She fired her trademark, two shots in very quick succession. His body slid silently from the tree and thudded to the ground.

By September of 1944, the Soviet army had crossed into German-controlled East Prussia. The German army, embattled though it was, resisted strongly, and fighting intensified as winter deepened. The Soviets began their full-scale East Prussian Offensive in January of 1945, and the women's sniper platoon was engaged in heavy fighting. The German army positions held out fiercely against the huge Russian advance.

The East Prussian Offensive involved more than two million soldiers. The Russians advanced steadily toward the city of Konigsberg, and in the freezing winter of 1945, the Germans fought hard for every kilometer of ground. Casualties on both sides were terrible, but always the Germans were pushed back under the weight of the Soviet army.

Everywhere along the front heavy shelling preceded assaults by tanks, field artillery, and infantry. One by one, the fortified positions still held by the Wehrmacht fell. In villages and towns, ridges, valleys, forests and open plains, vicious fighting took place, and always the Russians crept forward.

The Snipers had been committed to the front of the offensive, and it was at the end of January, after ten months of active service, that the war finally claimed the life of Roza Shanina.

Under heavy shelling and machine-gun fire, two Russian officers found her broken body slumped over that of a wounded artillery officer. She had been standing over him with her rifle in her hand and she still clutched it with one hand when they found her. A shell had burst right next to her, and she was mortally wounded. Though they tried to save her life, there was little that could be done, and she died the next day, on January 28th, 1945. She was 20 years old.

Roza Shanina was a prolific writer, and her diaries - kept against army regulations - were published many years after the war. They give a profound insight into the determined mentality of this young woman. Before she died, she told a nurse that her only regret was that she had not done more in the war effort. Talented and utterly committed, she gave up everything she had to resist the advance of Fascism against her people. Her story, just one among the stories of the millions who died in the Second World War, resonates to this day.


Have A Military Reunion Coming Soon?

TWS has nearly 1.7 million members who served in a wide range of units, ships, squadrons and duty stations. Get more people to your Reunion by sending your Reunion information to us in the following format and we will post it for free in our Reunion Announcements on Together We Served, in emails that go to our members and in our Newsletters.

Please contact us at admin@togetherweserved.com with the following details of your Reunion:

Your Reunion Name:
Associated Unit or Association:
Date Starting:
Date Finishing:
Place Where Held:
Contact Person:
Contact Phone Number:
Contact Email Address:
Other Comments: 


Places, Bases, and Memories - Vietnam

By Darryl Elmore, U.S. Army (Ret)

In June 1964, I was part of an operation designed to intercept a VC propaganda team reported to be parading a small group of U.S. Prisoners of War along the border between Cambodia and Vietnam. The purpose was to show the locals and the VC units that the Americans were easily beaten in combat. In charge of this operation was Saigon based, Maj. LaMar and the 1st SFG A-Team at Trang Sup, a camp about 12 kilometers north of Tay Ninh. 

The operational plan LaMar designed was to employ the classic military hammer and anvil tactics used successfully by Alexander the Great in his conquest of the known world. The first element of his plan was a superior infantry force setting up a blocking position. The second element was an airmobile cavalry using armed helicopters to drive the enemy out of hiding into a clearing into the waiting friendly infantry units ready to blow them away.

Several American Special Forces personnel with a company of Vietnamese CIDG moved to the northwest with the mission of establishing a blocking position. During the planning, the intelligence and terrain dictated that a river crossing was going to be unavoidable. What was missing was a rope long enough span the river. The only possible source to get such a rope was in Saigon. So Maj. LaMar, having no transportation and being a man of personal drive, went to Tay Ninh where he obtained a ride on a local civilian truck. Unfortunately, it was dark and he started the wrong way; he was 20 kilometers into Cambodia before he discovered the mistake. He quickly turned around and made it to Saigon that night. 

 A day later we were still planning for the operation when a C-47 transport arrived overhead and started circling the camp where the forces involved in the mission were staging. We had no ground to air communications but we figured something was up. The cargo door was open and we could see people standing in it.

So the team sent a jeep with some smoke grenades to the fields a kilometer or so from camp. They got there and popped a couple of white smoke grenades. They had guessed right because the plane made another pass and out popped a man who had a duffle bag dangling from his parachute leg straps. It was Maj. LaMar with the rope we needed for the operation in the duffle bag. 

The overland element departed camp and patrolled for two days until they reached the river they had to cross in order to reach the blocking positions. The river spanned over 100 meters and it had a fast current, offering real obstacles. 

One of the Special Forces NCOs swam the river to take a line across so they could drag the heavier rope across. Others covered him with fire and several swam to join him and help establish a position on the far bank. Shortly they established a single rope bridge and the entire force crossed to continue the mission. 

The same morning the blocking force crossed the river, an H-21 helicopter arrived and parked along the road leading into the camp. Shortly after the Command & Control element flew in from Saigon with a colonel and some staff. Their arrival was almost tragic.

As the Command & Control ship approached, we popped a smoke grenade and I was directed to provide guidance. As is common, the pilot decided that he would land where he wanted to land so he over flew us and landed in the old French mine field left over from 1954. The chopper landed and the colonel and some of his staff started to walk over. We started yelling and finally, I fired a few round over their head with my carbine. That got their attention and finally, they stopped and did their best to retrace their steps back to the Huey. Once on board, the chopper lifted off and the rotor wash detonated two anti-personnel mines. Fortunately, the aircraft did not suffer much damage and was able to continue the operation.

During the days prior to the operation all of us not designated to go on the operation were fully employed in support. We had several missions besides this one and sleep had been mostly absent. I was not scheduled to go but at the last minute, I was detailed to replace a guy who was sick. Otherwise, I would not have been part of the heliborne element.

Finally, we loaded the H-21 helicopters and launched. Shortly after we inserted, my first real combat assault and only one I ever made in an H-21. I was glad I never made another in one. That model was designed for operations in Alaska and did poorly in the heat and humidity of Vietnam. It just performed poorly in high-density altitudes. That poor performance made the pilots fly a long slow approach and shallow glide angles for landing. Take offs were equally poor, slow lift off and flight to climb out from an LZ.

Anyway, we acted as the maneuver element or hammer, our mission to push the enemy until they ran up against our blocking force or the anvil. As it turned out we only encountered small delaying elements; contacts were short lived and designed to make us deploy while small enemy elements evaded us. We would reform, and continued to sweep the area until linking up with the blocking force. We had not found the POWs. 

The main target, the VC and the U.S. POWs had left the area. (A decade later I learned that the operation had been compromised in Saigon days before we deployed our forces).

So after linking up, the entire force reformed and began a search mission. We moved parallel to the river and moved down river towards Tay Ninh.

We continued to move down river on foot but late in the day, some Vietnamese Higgins boats arrived to pick us up. We had three Higgins boats but we had over two hundred troops. To accommodate the entire force, the Vietnamese had brought some smaller civilian craft, big sampans actually, which we ended up securing alongside the Higgins boats for the ride back down river.

We loaded the Higgens boats and sampans just as dark settled in and started slowly down river. I was in the lead Higgins boat with the other two following at about 100-meter intervals.

It was a very dark moonless night, visibility was limited which also dictated slow movement. The move was slow and with nothing to do, I stretched out on the deck for a bit. For some reason, I decided to get up and leaned against the starboard bulwark. Sgt. Snyder and I just stood there staring off into the dark.

Shortly after, the VC set off a mine in the river. It was pretty powerful. The mine detonated just off the port bow, the plume of water shot up and the boat heeled over a bit from the shock. Immediately the VC opened up with automatic weapons fire from the shore to our right. The enemy troops were located only a few meters away.

When I went to basic training we learned night fire. They explained that most people shoot high in the dark unless trained otherwise. After the night fire class; another class in night vision and some exercises how to successfully apply the newly learned techniques, we went to the range with our trusty M-1s. We were to engage man sized silhouette targets at about 30 meters distance. 

We went on line, assumed the prone position and on the command to commence to an 8 round clip, reloaded and fired a second clip. I was amazed at the results. I got 16 hits on my target just by doing what I had just been taught! All the bullets had hit in the lower chest or lower.

So when the Vietnam Cong opened up on us, Sgt. Snyder, attached to the team for the A-Camp at Go Dau Ha, we were the only guys on that side capable of firing. We immediately opened fire on the enemy as they fired back. I estimated the range to be about 10-15 meters: muzzle flashes and noise!
All their fire went high, every round they fired went above the boat. Not one round struck the boats or personnel. Snyder and I went through several magazines and we were so close we even heard someone on shore cry out followed by a lot of yelling. About the time we heard all the yelling, the enemy fire stopped. Either we had hit some of them or they ran out of ammunition.

When we had a chance to check on possible casualties, I was amazed that we had not suffered any. Later, I figured the reason none of our people were hit was the VC had missed that class on night firing.

While the enemy ceased fire, our boat moved on and as the boat navigated a bend in the river, the Vietnamese boat commander ordered cease fire. If we had continued to fire we would have been created a crossfire situation creating a condition of us firing at our own boats before they made the turn. He knew his business and kept everything under control.

After that excitement, it was a quiet trip to a Regional Forces/Popular Forces (RF/PF) outpost where we disembarked and cooled our heels until sunup when trucks arrived to take us back to our base.

That was my first close range exchange of fire with the enemy. My last close range exchange was in the summer of 1993. Good training works day and night.


New Together We Served Military Store

By popular request, we are pleased to offer our Members your very own Together We Served Military Store with a whole range of items to peak your interest including custom shirts and caps, jackets, decals, badges, automotive and items for the home.

Now you can also purchase custom Together We Served branded merchandise. Please check out our range of ball caps, polo shirts, T-shirts, jackets and windbreakers HERE.

Our Store is offered in cooperation with Military Best, one of the most trusted suppliers in the United States, who offer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee on all items purchased. Many items are made in the USA and a proportion of the proceeds from your purchase help support our military's underfunded MWR programs.

We appreciate your feedback at admin@togetherweserved.com your comments regarding what you like, what you like less and if there are any additional items you would like us to stock.  


TWS Bulletin Board

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

Volunteer of the Month
MMC David Baker
US Navy

Chief Baker has been a member of Navy Together We Served since June 15, 2007.
In 2012 Dave joined our Memorial Team where he works on finding cemeteries for our Fallen. To date, Dave has created or adopted 4004 profiles on all service sites.

Thank you, Dave, for all your hard work to make TWS the best it can be.

You can view Dave's shadow box here: http://navy.togetherweserved.com/bio/David.Baker.200439

Service Reflections Video of the Month 
#TributetoaVeteran - ENC(SS) George Jones US Navy (Ret) (Served 1937-1956).

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 admin@togetherweserved.com

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 helps explain a little bit about who we are and what we do.

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

TWS Invite Cards
Did you know we have Together We Served invite cards that you can hand out to any veteran you meet? It even has a place to put your name, service branch and member number so you get credit for the invite.

If you would like some cards, email us your name and address to admin@togetherweserved.com and we will get them in the mail to you.

Behind the Scenes at TWS
Wow, another month has come and gone. I hope you fared well in our recent hurricanes.

One of the things that we do when we add a Boot Camp/Basic Training book to a members page is to look at those that were in the same Platoon, Company or Flight. Once we find them in the book, we crop out their photo and add it to their page for them. We've found over 100 photos for members who hadn't posted one and even a couple faces for our fallen. So it's really important, if you haven't done so already, to add your Boot Camp/Basic Training to your page. We may find a photo of you!

Loyde is busy adding and upgrading our graphics for Ribbon attachments. The new V for Valor, C for Combat and R for Remote will be added shortly to the specific ribbons that qualify.

If you have any questions, email us at admin@togetherweserved.com or use the online help at the bottom left of any TWS page. 

Diane, Loyde, Darrell and Rowdy

From Our TWS Historian
On Army we have added Deployment - Korean DMZ Armistice Enforcement (1954 to present) and Deployment - West German Border Security Operations (1945-1991). On Navy and Marines added Deployment - Mediterranean (MED) Cruise (1947 to present) and Deployment - Western Pacific (WESTPAC) Cruise (1950 to present). 

When time permits, the ships/units will be added to these so the cruises show up on every Ship/unit page. This will take us around two years to do every one of these. Each of these has a description that you can read in your timeline. 

Lastly, If there were military fatalities that resulted from a terrorist event, crash or sinking, we have been adding those events. I wish to thank everyone for providing the historical information to these events.

If anything has changed recently on your page, please let us know at admin@togetherweserved.com so we can get you into the right unit or operation.


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


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

USS Saipan Reunion
I am starting up the first USS Saipan reunion as it was 40 years ago that 644 of us formed a Pre-Comm Unit to Commission the USS Saipan LHA-2 into the US Navy in Pascagoula Mississippi and many of us lived in Biloxi Mississippi until the berthing was available and Galley was ready to feed us onboard.

I have contacted the Double Tree Hotel and blocked in 100 rooms so they will be first come first serve.

I have asked for help on Facebook and have gotten nothing as for help with planning and setting this up. So I am winging it myself this time and hope to have enough people show up with interest that will want to continue this in the annual future.

I have the dates set for September 27 - October 1, 2017.

I was going to try and get a tour of Ingalls Ship Building for the Pre-Comm Crew members that might show up for this, but without knowing their names in advance I can't get the clearance set up for the bus tour of the Ship Yard.

If you could post this on your site then perhaps I might get more people interested in showing up and maybe reach some others that I have not reached yet.

This will also include all those Marines assigned to the USS Saipan as well.

As a special Note: 
I wanted to do something special for those members of the original USS Saipan CVA from World War II. I have asked a couple that I know of to come and visit with us all and if they could reach out to any others that are still able to make it. 

To my knowledge they have Never had a WWII Reunion for that Crew of the Carrier USS Saipan.

Contact me at: Jonathan Taylor johnnyeagle777@yahoo.com

Thank you so much,

Jonathan W. Taylor
USN  4/5/77 - 6/30/1989
USNR 11/11/1996 - 9/23/2003
USAR 9/24/2003 - 12/16/2011
DAV Retired E-7/SFC

VA and Other News

Transparency and Accountability
U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David J. Shulkin announced that the VA is taking a further step on transparency and accountability as a follow-on to the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act signed by the President less than two weeks ago. 

The department is making public a list of adverse employee actions taken since January 20. This information, updated weekly, is posted at: http://www.va.gov/accountability

Secretary Shulkin pointed to the move as another step in long-sought transparency and accountability actions at the VA and noted that the VA is the first federal agency to make such data public. "Under this administration, VA is committed to becoming the most transparent organization in government. Together with the accountability bill the president signed into law recently, this additional step will continue to shine a light on the actions we're taking to reform the culture at VA," said Shulkin.

"Veterans and taxpayers have a right to know what we're doing to hold our employees accountable and make our personnel actions transparent. Posting this information online for all to see, and updating it weekly, will do just that," he added.

For privacy reasons, the adverse action list will not include employee names but will give information on the position, VA region or administration, and type of adverse or disciplinary action that has been taken.

The list includes terminations, demotions, and suspensions over 14 days since the new administration came into office on January 20. Additional categories of accountability actions will be included in upcoming releases.

In addition to posting the adverse action information, Secretary Shulkin announced that he is requiring approval by a senior official of any monetary settlement with an employee over the amount of $5,000. Any settlement above this amount will require the personal approval of the under secretary, assistant secretary or equivalent senior-level official within the organization in which the dispute occurs.

"Taxpayers need to know that we will engage in good faith settlement negotiations, where required by third parties, but will look to settle with employees only when they clearly have been wronged or when settlement is otherwise in Veterans' and taxpayers' best interests, and not as a matter of ordinary business. We're changing to a culture of accountability at VA, and this is an important step in that direction," said Shulkin.

Expansion of emergency mental health care to former service members with other-than-honorable discharges
VA released finalized plans that lay the framework for providing emergency mental health coverage to former service members with other-than-honorable (OTH) administrative discharges.

This is the first time a VA Secretary has implemented an initiative specifically focused on this group of former service members who are in mental health distress.

"Suicide prevention is my top clinical priority," said Secretary Shulkin, also a physician. "We want these former service members to know there is someplace they can turn if they are facing a mental health emergency  -  whether it means urgent care at a VA emergency department, a Vet Center or through the Veterans Crisis Line."

All Veterans Health Administration (VHA) medical centers are prepared to offer emergency stabilization care for former service members who present at the facility with an emergent mental health need. Under this initiative, former service members with an OTH administrative discharge may receive care for their mental health emergency for an initial period of up to 90 days, which can include inpatient, residential or outpatient care.

During this time, VHA and the Veterans Benefits Administration will work together to determine if the mental health condition is a result of a service-related injury, making the service member eligible for ongoing coverage for that condition.

Since Secretary Shulkin announced his intent in March to expand VA mental health coverage to service members with OTH administrative discharges, VA has worked with key internal and external stakeholders, including members of Congress, Veterans service organizations and community partners on the issue.

Veterans in crisis should call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 (press 1), or text 838255.

Trump Puts US Commander in Afghanistan in Crosshairs
President Donald Trump reportedly suggested firing Army Gen. John Nicholson as the U.S. commander in Afghanistan during a confrontational meeting at the Pentagon last month with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and others.

Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford defended Nicholson at the July 19 meeting, which featured a "shouting match" between White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the White House national security adviser, on the overall strategy for Afghanistan.

The testy meeting, first reported by NBC News and later corroborated by other news outlets, was dominated by Trump's venting of his frustration at the lack of progress in Afghanistan after 16 years of war with no end in sight.

"We are not winning, we are losing," Trump said, according to NBC News.

Since mid-February, Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the NATO Resolute Support mission, has been lobbying for an additional 3,000 to 5,000 American troops to bolster the train, advise and assist operations of the 8,400 U.S. service members already on the ground.

According to the White House schedule, Trump was meeting Thursday morning at the White House with McMaster, who reportedly joined Mattis and Dunford in defending Nicholson's performance in Afghanistan.

At the July 19 meeting, Trump walked out "without making a decision on a strategy" for Afghanistan.

"His advisers were stunned," the NBC report said, citing senior administration officials.

"Two Pentagon officials close to Mattis said he returned from the White House that morning visibly upset. Mattis often takes a walk when grappling with an issue. That afternoon, the walk took longer than usual," the officials said.
Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford defended Nicholson at the July 19 meeting, which featured a "shouting match" between White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the White House national security adviser, on the overall strategy for Afghanistan.

The testy meeting, first reported by NBC News and later corroborated by other news outlets, was dominated by Trump's venting of his frustration at the lack of progress in Afghanistan after 16 years of war with no end in sight.

"We are not winning, we are losing," Trump said, according to NBC News.

The meeting was called to consider a new strategy for Afghanistan and the region that Mattis has been preparing and had tentatively promised to deliver by mid-July.

Since mid-February, Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the NATO Resolute Support mission, has been lobbying for an additional 3,000 to 5,000 American troops to bolster the train, advice and assist operations of the 8,400 U.S. service members already on the ground.

In response to the NBC story, Michael Anton, a spokesman for the National Security Council, issued the following statement:

"The president's national security team is developing a comprehensive, integrated strategy for South Asia that utilizes all aspects of our national power to address this complex region.

"That strategy has been worked carefully in the interagency process and, while no decision has been made, the president's team continues to develop options for him that address threat and opportunities to America arising from this vital region."

According to the White House schedule, Trump was meeting Thursday morning at the White House with McMaster, who reportedly joined Mattis and Dunford in defending Nicholson's performance in Afghanistan.

At the July 19 meeting, Trump walked out "without making a decision on a strategy" for Afghanistan.

"His advisers were stunned," the NBC report said, citing senior administration officials.

"Two Pentagon officials close to Mattis said he returned from the White House that morning visibly upset. Mattis often takes a walk when grappling with an issue. That afternoon, the walk took longer than usual," the officials said.

Amid the debate on Nicholson's status, the general received accolades Thursday from Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who put the blame for failures in Afghanistan on the White House.

"Our commanders-in-chief, not our commanders in the field, are responsible for this failure," McCain said in a statement from Arizona, where he is being treated for brain cancer.

McCain said Nicholson "has served our country with honor and distinction for 35 years. He has earned the trust and admiration of those he has served with, and he has earned my full confidence."

"I urge the president to resolve the differences within his administration as soon as possible and decide on a policy and strategy that can achieve our national security interests in Afghanistan and the region," McCain said.

Congress Passes New Forever GI Bill
The House and Senate quickly passed a bill to correct inequities under the Post-9/11 GI Bill and boost or restore education benefits for thousands of veterans and select groups of dependents and survivors. 

Those who stand to gain from GI Bill reforms moving toward enactment include: victims of for-profit colleges that have closed; Reserve and Guard members activated under "12304b orders" which don't trigger GI Bill eligibility; Purple Heart recipients whose wounds resulted in shorter tours and reduced GI Bill benefits, and survivors who qualify for GI Bill Fry Scholarships. The bill is now headed to the President for signature. Learn what this new Forever GI Bill will mean to you.
For overview go to: http://www.military.com/education/gi-bill/new-post-911-gi-bill-overview.html

VA Considers Additional Agent Orange Ailments
VA Secretary David J. Shulkin will decide "on or before" Nov. 1 whether to add to the list of medical conditions the Department of Veteran Affairs presumes are associated to Agent Orange or other herbicides sprayed during the Vietnam War, a department spokesman said Tuesday in response to our inquiry. 

Read the full article on the Military Advantage Blog: https://militaryadvantage.military.com/2017/08/va-to-decide-on-new-agent-orange-ailments-by-nov-1/

Congress Approves Bill to Address VA Claims Backlog
Congress has sent the president a bill aimed at trimming a rapidly growing backlog of veterans' disability claims.

The House approved the bill by voice vote Friday during a brief session, sending the measure to President Donald Trump. The House is in recess, but a handful of lawmakers gaveled the chamber in and out of a session that lasted less than five minutes.

The veterans' bill, approved by the Senate Aug. 1, would reduce the time it takes for the Department of Veterans Affairs to handle appeals from veterans unhappy with their disability payouts. The measure is part of an ongoing effort to reduce a longstanding claims backlog and is a priority for VA Secretary David Shulkin, who calls the appeals process "broken."

Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said he was pleased with the bill's passage.

"When it comes to putting our nation's heroes first, there can be no doubt that Congress has been hard at work," Roe said. Besides the claims bill, Congress also approved a measure to remove time restrictions on veterans' use of GI Bill benefits and cleared a $3.9 billion emergency spending package to fix a looming budget crisis and extend a program that allows veterans to receive private medical care at government expense.

Trump is expected to sign all three bills.

On disability claims, the measure passed Friday would overhaul the appeals process, allowing veterans to file "express" appeals if they waive their right to a hearing or the ability to submit new evidence. The VA could test the new program for up to 18 months until Shulkin could certify it was ready for a full rollout with enough money to manage appeals effectively. Lawmakers hope the legislation ultimately will reduce average wait times to less than a year.

Currently, veterans can wait up to five years or more to resolve appeals over disability claims.

"For too long our veterans and their families have faced unacceptable delays during the VA's benefits claims appeal process," said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

The legislation offers no immediate fix for the bulk of the 470,000 appeals claims in VA's backlog; the changes would apply almost entirely to newly filed appeals.

The VA provides $63.7 billion in disability compensation payments each year to about 4.1 million veterans with disabling conditions incurred during their military service.

How it works at: http://www.military.com/benefits/veteran-benefits/veteran-disability-compensation.html

Volunteers sought for reading of the names at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
When the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C. in 1982, a promise was made to never forget those who served and sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War. Etched in its black granite walls are the names of 58,318 service members who were killed or remain missing. The Wall honors their courage, sacrifice, and devotion to duty and country. Since its inception, The Wall has become a sacred place for loved ones and visitors to pay their respects. By separating the war from the warrior, The Wall began a process of national healing.

This year marks the 35th Anniversary of The Wall. In commemoration of the Anniversary, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) is honored to host the 2017 Reading of the Names of the more than 58,000 service members inscribed on The Wall in Washington, D.C. The Reading of the Names will take place at The Wall for 65 hours over a four-day period beginning with an opening ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 3:00 p.m. Volunteers will read names for approximately eight hours from 4 p.m. on November 7 to 12 a.m. on Nov. 8. Participants will then read the names for 19 hours daily from 5 a.m. until 12 a.m. on November 8, 9, and 10. Volunteer readers can sign up for a specific name on The Wall or for a timeslot in which they are available to read.

VVMF is asking the public to join them in this monumental event, as a reader or as a spectator, in honor of their sacrifice. Registration is now open for reading times at http://www.vvmf.org/ROTN
One of the best ways to honor our fallen is to say their names and share their story. Behind every name on The Wall is a person, a life cut short, and a family changed forever. By saying their names, we are saying we will never forget them.

Remember Pfc. Dan Bullock, the 15-year-old Marine who forged his birth certificate to join the U.S. military and became the youngest American service member to die in the war. Remember Navy chaplain Lt. Vincent Capodanno, who was administering comfort and last rites to Marines when he went to aid a wounded corpsman and was killed by enemy fire. Say the name of Army nurse 1st Lt. Sharon Lane, one of eight women to die in Vietnam, and the only one to die from hostile fire. These brave men and women left behind friends, brothers, sisters, and parents. They had the same hopes and dreams as the rest of us. It is only fitting that we come together at the place our nation has set aside to remember them.

The Reading of the Names has taken place in Washington, D.C. just five other times in The Wall's history. In November 1982, the names were read aloud at Washington National Cathedral as part of a week-long national salute to Vietnam Veterans. The names were read at The Wall during the 10th anniversary in November 1992, during the 20th anniversary in 2002, 25th anniversary in 2007 and during the 30th anniversary in 2012.

It has been 35 years since The Wall was dedicated, but it remains just as important that we never forget. Never forget their names. Never forget their faces. Never forget what they gave for their country. It's important that we educate current and future generations about the Vietnam War and its impact, legacies, and lessons learned. Join VVMF in keeping the promise that The Wall was built on  -  the promise to never forget.

To register to be a part of the Reading of the Names in 2017, click here: http://www.vvmf.org/ROTN

Army to Begin Testing New Jungle Uniform Next Year
In January 2018, U.S. Army uniform officials will begin an evaluation of the service's new Improved Hot Weather Combat Uniform by issuing the lighter, more breathable uniform to thousands of soldiers in Hawaii.

The new IHWC is the result of a directed requirement to outfit soldier with a jungle uniform suitable for operations in the Pacific theater. This follows a similar effort that recently resulted in the Army fielding 9,000 pairs of new Jungle Combat Boots to the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd and 3rd Brigade Combat teams in Hawaii between March and August.

Up until this point, 25th ID soldiers training to operate in hot, tropical environments have been wearing Universal Camouflage Pattern Army Combat Uniforms and Hot Weather Combat Boots intended for desert environments.

Complete information can be found at: http://www.military.com/daily-news/2017/08/10/army-to-begin-testing-new-jungle-uniform-next-year.html

Army Launches Competition for More Powerful Combat Rifle
The U.S. Army's chief of staff revealed Thursday the M4 Carbine's 5.56mm round can't penetrate modern enemy body armor plates and plans to arm infantry units with rifles chambered for a more potent 7.62mm cartridge.

Responding to questions from Senate Armed Services Committee members, Gen. Mark Milley conceded that the service's current M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round will not defeat enemy body armor plates similar to the U.S. military-issue rifle plates such as the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert, or ESAPI.

"The 5.56mm round, we recognize that there is a type of body armor out there, that it doesn't penetrate. We also have that body armor ourselves," he testified.

Milley told lawmakers Army officials at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia, have developed a new 7.62mm round to solve the problem.

More information can be found at: http://www.military.com/daily-news/2017/05/25/army-chief-calls-for-762mm-round-for-m4-rifle.html

Looking For

Living Iwo Jima Survivors

The Iwo Jima Association of America (IJAA) is developing a roster of all known surviving Iwo Jima veterans in order to ensure they are included in all correspondence and invitations regarding the upcoming 75th Anniversary and commemoration of the Battle of Iwo Jima in 2020.

It would be greatly appreciated if you would distribute this to all your contacts and networks to contact me at IJAA regarding knowledge of any living Iwo Vets. Email: rsifuentes@iwojimaassociation.org

Best regards and Semper Fidelis,

LtCol Raul "Art" Sifuentes USMC (Ret)
Dir., Business Development
Iwo Jima Association
703 2128128
Mobile-703 963 6895

Rovison Aquino Danganan
I am looking for my son Rovison Aquino Danganan. He 28 and the last time I  heard he was in San Diego, California. He joined the service in July of 2007. If you heard from him please contact Victoria Wallace 489 Gregory Lane SE Salem Oregon. My phone number is 503'581-9618. Thank you for your help.

USAF Veteran in Great Need of a Kidney Transplant
I have been approved for a living donor kidney transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The expense of the hotel and transportation will be paid by my insurance carrier and should be about a 7 day period. The hotel connects into the Mayo Clinic at this site. It should be noted that the Mayo Clinic is rated as the best hospital in the US, according to the news and the world. My insurance carrier considers them a "hospital of excellence" and they are approved for the maximum reimbursement. Please contact: Barry Shaw @ cell: 516 225-8436/or e-mail @ barrymshaw0@gmail.com.

Did You Know SMSgt Ron Williams USAF?
My husband, SMSgt Ron (Willie) Williams passed on July 23, 2017. I am still in search of any military or civilian member that may have known Ron, talked with him or heard of him during his service in NKP and Da Nang 1971- 72. He left Bergstrom AFB Austin, TX under super secret orders. I have not been able to find those orders or who issued them. He was a Staff Sergeant while in SEA and worked in Life Support at NKP and taught survival skills at Da Nang. He told me there were 3-4 NCO's that went down to Da Nang every Monday to teach classes. I have not been able to locate the travel vouchers they flew under. He was assigned to the 56th CMBT SPT OP. I have the names of two commanders, LTC Robert H. Finley and LTC Lawrence R. Hileman. I am not sure where these commanders were stationed in SEA. They both have signed documents for Ron.

Before Ron passed, the VA denied all his claims. He had 2 heart attacks (heart disease), prostate surgery, sinus surgery, 2 back surgeries and Parkinson's disease. He also had indications of PSP. I sent over 300 pages of military documentation, which included letters from all his doctors, to the VA, which should have proven he was in NKP and Da Nang. Because of the verbal orders, he was given, I had no proof of his teaching in Da Nang. The VA wants proof that he actually was in Da Nang.

What I need for the VA to verify Ron's claim, is for anyone that knew him, talked with him or heard of him to write a letter with their name, SSN, and member id stating any of the above facts, including dates, pictures of him, any other information they feel might help me prove my case.

I can be reached at: 
106 Liz Lane
Georgetown, TX 78633

God Bless,

Mary Williams

Guest Speakers
Greetings Veterans, Bob Willis, the gentleman who organizes and puts on the outstanding "For God & Country" Event in November each year is looking for some help with speakers. He needs specifically Combat Veterans willing to share a story, experience, or give a motivational speech even maybe at the event, namely Korean War and Vietnam Era Veterans. If you are willing, know of someone who is, please get that info to me soonest so I can report back to Bob. This is truly an awesome event and opportunity to attend. Details forthcoming, so keep your blinkers pealed.
R/S & S/F;
Michael J. Decker
Ulster Detachment MCL
H: 845-331-5796
C: 845-399-5385

US Marine Jacob Greenwald
Please help me locate the owner of this beautiful Marine Corps sword. The name on the sword is Jacob Greenwald. I found it in the Capital Hill district of Seattle in a junk shop. I can't imagine someone throwing this out.

Click here to see the full size image.

You can contact me at Rwilly1@hotmail.com
Ron Hall

L Conville Murray
Anyone knowing the whereabouts of L Conville Murray, an AE2 (then) I believe stationed at NAS Cubi Point in VRC-50 or VC-5 in 1981-83 time frame, contact Stewart, Darryl, CWO3 on TWS.

Last USCG Radioman Class "A" School Governor's Island
Were you in the last USCG Radioman Class "A" School to graduate from Governor's Island, New York City, NY? I was and, now that its 45 years later ... it would be nice to hear from any of my classmates. Please contact Fred Langille at 1138 Cedar Crest Drive, Huntington, WV 25705-3004 or, at phredta11bl@copper.net. Let's see if we can get a reunion together ... be interesting to see if all our uniforms fit as well (mine does!). Looking forward to hearing from any who were there plus, instructors.

Frederick C. LANGILLE, Jr.

Corporal Alfred Jean
We found this recently and hope we can get it back to it's owner.

It's a WWII service card for a Marine by the name of Corporal Alfred Jean. Service dates are May 26, 1943, Jun 1, 1946.

If you can help us find the family, it would be greatly appreciated.

Brad Lynnet 


TWS Person Locator Service

Available for Together We Served members only! Together We Served has two hard working marines that devote their time and energy to help our members find long lost friends that are not yet members of our site.

If you have someone you are looking for, please send name, age they would be now and where they were from to us at admin@togetherweserved.com and we'll get them on the case for you.


Book Review: c/o Postmaster

By Thomas R. St. George

St. George's book is a collection of stories originally published in the San Francisco Chronicle while the author was serving in the 32nd "Red Arrow" Division in Australia in 1942. 

The author was a draftee at about the time of Pearl Harbor and this is his story from the end of boot camp, through being rushed onto a ship for the Pacific, to his arrival and first several months in Australia in early 1942. 

Its popularity during those dark days of the war was because it provided people an opportunity to laugh when there wasn't much to laugh about. The humor is indeed charming and the anecdotes are true to army life. 

The author managed to combine the humor and charm of two other popular writers of the time - Bill Mauldin and James Thurber. Mauldin because of the deadpan dogface humor and Thurber because of the simple line-drawing cartoons peppered throughout the narrative.

It is funny, it is touching and there is incredibly much detail of how the Americans adjust to camp life and Australian life, drink, try - and largely a fail - to meet women and end by being shipped off to stop the Japanese invasion of New Guinea. The story ends as they are on the airplanes to New Guinea, so the fate of the unit in actual combat is not described. This was just as well as I doubt the author could have maintained the gentle humorous tone through the brutal account of the fighting in New Guinea and later in Leyte and Luzon in the Philippine Islands.

It is a quick read that many scholars and enthusiasts of military history will find interesting and fun to read. I strongly recommend anyone interested in World War II in the Pacific to check this book out; it is as good as listening to a vet's war stories.

Reader Reviews
Hubby remarked on a book he found in his dad's footlocker some 56+ years ago. a quick search on Amazon and I found it. He did not believe it was the same book, but when it arrived he remarked it was the exact book. I ordered a second when he said he thought one of our sons would enjoy it. Now might have to order one for the other son! just a fun book for a soldier to help pass the time.
~By Kathy
I lost my previous copy when I moved three years ago. VERY happy to find a replacement!
~Cecile L. Handon

About the Author
Thomas R. St. George, born Nov. 23, 1919, attended school in Simpson, Rochester and the University of Minnesota School of Journalism until drafted into World War II. Originally with the 32nd Infantry, he soon joined the staff of Yank Magazine and covered the war from Australia, New Guinea, and the Philippines. While serving in the army, he met his future wife, Staff Sgt. Amelia "Mimi" Vitali of Philadelphia. After the war, St. George was a screenwriter in Hollywood and wrote the screenplay for the film Campus Honeymoon among others. He then turned to journalism and spent the next 50 years at newspapers in San Diego, Philadelphia, Rochester and St. Paul. He was a reporter, sports editor, cartoonist, copy editor and columnist ("Slice of Wry" - St. Paul Pioneer Press). Ozzie retired from the Pioneer Press in 1994. Two books were written by Ozzie while he was in the Army: "C/O Postmaster," a Book of the Month Club selection, and "Proceed Without Delay." Following his retirement, he also self-published the Eddie Devlin Compendium: "Old Tim's Estate," "Wildcat Strike," "The Bloody Wet," "Bringing Chesty Home," "Replevy for a Flute," "Clyde Strikes Back," "Flacks," "Deadlines" and "The Survivors."

He died July 29, 2014, in the Rochester, Minnesota area.


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