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HONOR THE FALLEN...

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Combat Stress Driving Up Army Crime, Drug Abuse, Suicides

The U.S. Army, under the accumulating stress of nine years at war, is suffering an alarming spurt of drug abuse, crime and suicide that is going unchecked, according to an internal study that depicts an Army in crisis.

A small but growing number of soldiers who perform credibly in combat turn to high-risk behavior, including drug abuse, drunken driving, motorcycle street-racing, petty crime and domestic violence, once they return home.

As a result, more soldiers are dying by drug overdose, accident, murder and suicide than in combat. Suicide is now the third-leading cause of death for soldiers.

"Simply stated, we are often more dangerous to ourselves than the enemy,'' concludes the extraordinary internal Army investigation commissioned by Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff.

post-300-038332600 1287402701_thumb.jpgThe study also found that across the Army, leaders have lost visibility and accountability over their soldiers, in many cases unaware that soldiers under their command had abused drugs, committed crimes or even previously tried to commit suicide. Drug testing is done only sporadically, the study found, and there are no central repositories for criminal data.

That same themes are reflected dramatically in the case of five soldiers from the 5th Stryker Brigade of Fort Lewis, Washington, who are charged with the wanton murder of Afghan civilians in Kandahar last spring. Questions have been raised about how their commanders could have missed such warning signs as drug abuse -- some of the soldiers were allegedly smoking hashish in their rooms -- that might have led them to look deeper.

No one suggests that such aberrant and ugly crimes can be traced just to the effects of stress. But as Chiarelli acknowledged, the indications of problems within the Army are "troubling.''

And the pressure is unrelenting. Over the next 12 months the Army plans to pull about 66,000 soldiers away from their homes and families and send them into combat in Afghanistan, many for the second or third time. There, these soldiers will replace troops just finishing their 12-month tours.

In all, about 200,000 soldiers will deploy in the coming year in routine rotations to maintain Army forces in South Korea, Kosovo, the Sinai, Iraq and elsewhere. The 45,000 soldiers currently assigned to duty in Iraq are due to be withdrawn by December 2011, unless a revised U.S.-Iraqi agreement enables American trainers and advisers to stay longer, as is likely.

And in Afghanistan, unless President Barack Obama authorizes a major troop reduction next summer, which seems unlikely, planned troop rotations will continue to maintain the 69,000 soldiers in that country. (Roughly 31,000 Marines, Navy and Air Force personnel also serve in Afghanistan.)

Even though some troops have been withdrawn from Iraq, the Army is still straining to fill its overseas commitments.

"The reality is that in the active-duty force, we have very few units in the 'available' pool who aren't heading somewhere,'' said Brig. Gen. Peter C. Bayer, director of strategy, plans and policy for the Army operations staff. "It should come as no secret,'' he added, "that when you run at the pace we're on, it comes at a cost.''

Those are mostly hidden behind the Army's "can-do'' ethos and the stoic heroism of its soldiers and families. Desertion and AWOL rates, for instance, are no higher now than during the peacetime years of the1990s, and retention numbers, which measure re-enlistments, are surpassing the Army's goals.

But behind those simple measures is a darker reality.

Today, more than 100,000 soldiers are on prescribed anti-anxiety medication, and 40,000 are thought by the Army to be using drugs illicitly. Misdemeanor offenses are rising by 5,000 cases a year.

With the pressing need for manpower, the Army has retained more than 25,000 soldiers who would otherwise have been discharged for misbehavior, including 1,000 soldiers with two or more felony convictions.

The most at-risk soldiers are the Army's youngest, buffeted by leaving home, struggling through basic training, adjusting to their first unit and deploying, all normally within two years. They lack the toughening and resiliency of older soldiers, and often haven't been in a unit long enough to develop strong ties with other soldiers and leaders.

Among the growing number of Army suicides -- which soared past the civilian rate in 2008 and reached a record 239 last year -- most are soldiers with less than 24 months in the service. About one third of the Army's suicides are soldiers who had never deployed even once.

In addition to suicides, the Army recorded 107 fatal accidents among its active-duty soldiers, and 50 murders, an ugly toll of 345 active-duty, non-combat deaths, about 100 more than were killed in combat in 2009.

Much of the stress soldiers endure could be alleviated by time away from combat. But soldiers of all ranks, the Army investigation found, don't have enough time at home between deployments to recover. "Each time I come back it takes longer to return to what my family and friends regard as normal,'' said Bayer, who completed three combat tours in Iraq and now works at the Pentagon. "I'd come home wound tight, and it's a cumulative effect.''

In fact, it takes 24 to 36 months to return to "normal'' from the high intensity of combat, the Army said -- while most soldiers are at their home base for 18 months or less between deployments.

"This is uncharted territory,'' said Robert Scales, a retired major general, historian, and former commandant of the Army War College. "We have no experiential data to tell us why anything causes emotional collapse after such enormous strain ... In some units, it's not about how many trips to the 'sand box' soldiers have made but the emotional wearing that comes from uncertainty and an overbearing sense of foreboding that all too often accompanies units as they deploy multiple times."

"Frankly,'' said Scales, a decorated combat officer who has studied the performance of small infantry units, "I am amazed that the Army and Marine Corps have held together for so long.''

The Army has had an aggressive anti-suicide program under way for some time, and has now begun tackling other problems it has identified. Chief among them: given the hectic pace of training and deployments, commanders often fail to keep track of soldiers who are developing problems and engaging in high-risk behavior. There is no Army-wide database for drunken-driving citations or misdemeanor offenses, for instance.

The Army has tightened its screening of recruits to weed out those with fragile personalities. But already, 75 percent of American teenagers aren't eligible for the Army because they are overweight or have other physical disabilities, can't pass the entrance exam, or they have a criminal record. And Army recruiters are prevented by law from asking for recruits' medical records.

Senior officers acknowledge that all these problems are likely to haunt the Army as long as the pace of deployments remains so high.

"The good news,'' Chiarelli observed this summer, "is that soldiers are seeking behavioral health care in record numbers.''

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Quite a sobering thought, Garimpo, from your post above,

"............But already, 75 percent of American teenagers aren't eligible for the Army because they are overweight or have other physical disabilities, can't pass the entrance exam, or they have a criminal record. And Army recruiters are prevented by law from asking for recruits' medical records."

What will be the state of our military in another twenty years?

Definitely a worrisome thought....

Greg

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Two Stories BOTH TRUE - and worth reading!!!! STORY NUMBER ONE

Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago . Capone wasn't famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.

Capone had a lawyer nicknamed "Easy Eddie." He was Capone's lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time..

To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.

Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him.

Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object.

And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.

Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn't give his son; he couldn't pass on a good name or a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done.

He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al "Scarface" Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great. So, he testified.

Within the year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street . But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.

The poem read:

"The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour. Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still."

STORY NUMBER TWO

World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare.

He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific.

One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank.

He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship.

His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.

As he was returning to the mother ship, he saw something that turned his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way toward the American fleet.

The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn't reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet.

Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber's blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent.

Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible, rendering them unfit to fly.

Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction.

Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier.

Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch's daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft

This took place on February 20, 1942 , and for that action Butch became the Navy's first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Medal of Honor.

A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29.. His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.

So, the next time you find yourself at O'Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch's memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It's located between Terminals 1 and 2.

SO WHAT DO THESE TWO STORIES HAVE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER?

Butch O'Hare was "Easy Eddie's" son.

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Residents of Missouri Town Block Protesters From Picketing Soldier's Funeral

Members of a small Missouri town banded together Saturday to block a controversial pastor and members of his Westboro Baptist Church from protesting the funeral of a fallen U.S. soldier, Fox4kc.com reports.

Hundreds of residents in Weston, Mo. -- as well as people as far away as California and Australia -- rallied in support of Sgt. First Class C.J. Sadell, who died from injuries suffered during a surprise attack in Afghanistan.

The residents sought to block Fred Phelps, leader of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., and his followers from picketing Sadell’s funeral, according to the station.

Phelps' church has been the subject of intense criticism for holding more than 44,000 pickets at funerals and other events – including the services of fallen service members.

Citing their First Amendment right to protest, Phelps' followers say they use funerals as an “available public platform” to “deliver the message that there is a consequence for sin.” Phelps is openly opposed to homosexuality and all government policies they he says supports homosexuals.

"We got everybody here early so we could take up all the parking spots," Rebecca Rooney of Weston, Mo., told Fox4kc.com. "We did that so Mr. Phelps wouldn't have a contingency that was really close."

"I'm glad they left, but I'm sad they came," she said.

Sadell, who leaves behind a wife and two sons, was stationed in the Arif Kala region of Afghanistan when his unit was ambushed on Oct. 5. Five soldiers were killed in the attack and Sadell was badly injured.

The 34-year-old died from his injuries on Oct. 24.

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1. The first German serviceman killed in WWII was killed by the Japanese (China, 1937), the first American serviceman killed was killed by the Russians (Finland 1940), the highest ranking American killed was Lt. Gen. Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps. .. . So much for allies and enemies.

2. The youngest US serviceman was 12 year old Calvin Graham, USN. He was wounded and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age. (His benefits were later restored by act of Congress).

3. At the time of Pearl Harbor the top US Navy command was Called CINCUS (pronounced "sink us"), the shoulder patch of the US Army's 45th Infantry division was the Swastika, and Hitler's private train was named "Amerika." All three were soon changed for PR purposes.

4. More US servicemen died in the Air Corps than the Marine Corps. While completing the required 30 missions (in Europe the original mission total was 25, later raised to 35) your chance of being killed was 71%.

5. Generally speaking there was no such thing as an average fighter pilot. You were either an ace or a target. For instance Japanese ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa shot down over 80 planes. He died while a passenger on a cargo plane.

6. It was a common practice on fighter planes to load every 5th round with a tracer round to aid in aiming. This was a mistake. Tracers had different ballistics so (at long range) if your tracers were hitting the target 80% of your rounds were missing. Worse yet tracers instantly told your enemy he was under fire and from which direction. Worst of all was the practice of loading a string of tracers at the end of the belt to tell you that you were out of ammo. This was definitely not something you wanted to tell the enemy. Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate nearly double and their loss rate go down.

7. When allied armies reached the Rhine the first thing men did was pee in it. This was pretty universal from the lowest private to Winston Churchill (who made a big show of it) and Gen. Patton (who had himself photographed in the act).

8. German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City but it wasn't worth the effort. (?)

9. German submarine U-120 was sunk by a malfunctioning toilet.

10. Among the first "Germans" captured at Normandy were several Koreans. They had been forced to fight for the Japanese Army until they were captured by the Russians and forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured by the Germans and forced to fight for the German Army until they were captured by the US Army.

11. Following a massive naval bombardment 35,000 US and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands. 21 troops were killed in the firefight. It would have been worse if there had been any Japanese on the island.

For the aviators.

From an old carrier sailor - Blue water Navy truism; There are more planes in the ocean than submarines in the sky.

When one engine fails on a twin-engine airplane you always have enough power left to get you to the scene of the crash.

What is the similarity between air traffic controllers and pilots? If a pilot screws up, the pilot dies; If ATC screws up, the pilot dies.

Never trade luck for skill.

The three most common expressions (or famous last words) in aviation are: "Why is it doing that?", "Where are we?" and "Oh S#!+!"

Airspeed, altitude, and brains. Two are always needed to successfully complete the flight.

A smooth landing is mostly luck; two in a row is all luck; three in a row is prevarication.

Mankind has a perfect record in aviation; we never left one up there!

The Piper Cub is the safest airplane in the world; it can just barely kill you. (Attributed to Max Stanley, Northrop test pilot)

A pilot who doesn't have any fear probably isn't flying his plane to its maximum. (Jon McBride, astronaut)

If you're faced with a forced landing, fly the thing as far into the crash as possible. (Bob Hoover - renowned aerobatic and test pilot)

If an airplane is still in one piece, don't cheat on it; ride the bastard down. (Ernest K. Gann, author &aviator)

Never fly in the same cockpit with someone braver than you.

There is no reason to fly through a thunderstorm in peacetime. (Sign over squadron OPS desk at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, 1970).

The three best things in life are a good landing, a good orgasm, and, a good bowel movement. The night carrier landing is one of the few opportunities in life where you get to experience all three at the same time.. (Author unknown, but someone who's been there)

Basic Flying Rules Try to stay in the middle of the air. Do not go near the edges of it. The edges of the air can be recognized by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees and interstellar space. It is much more difficult to fly there.

You know that your landing gear is up and locked when it takes full power to taxi to the terminal.

On some air bases the Air Force is on one side of the field and civilian aircraft use the other side of the field, with the Control tower in the middle. One day the tower received a call from an aircraft asking, "What time is it?" The tower responded, "Who is calling?" The aircraft replied, "What difference does it make?" The tower replied, "It makes a lot of difference........ If it is an American Airlines flight, it is 3 o'clock. If it is an Air Force Plane, it is 1500 hours. If it is a Navy aircraft, it is 6 bells. If it is a Marine Corps aircraft, it's Thursday afternoon and 120 minutes to "Happy Hour."

During training exercises, the lieutenant who was driving down a muddy back road encountered another jeep stuck in the mud with a red-faced colonel at the wheel. "Your jeep stuck, sir?" asked the lieutenant as he pulled alongside. "Nope," replied the colonel, coming over and handing him the keys, "yours is."

Having just moved into his new office, a pompous, new colonel was sitting at his desk when an airman knocked on the door. Conscious of his new position, the colonel quickly picked up the phone, told the airman to enter, then said into the phone, "Yes, General, I'll be seeing him this afternoon and I'll pass along your message. In the meantime, thank you for your good wishes, sir." Feeling as though he had sufficiently impressed the young enlisted man, he asked, "What do you want?" "Nothing important, sir," the airman replied, "I'm just here to hook up your telephone."

Q: How do you know if there is a fighter pilot at your party? A: He'll tell you.

Q: What's the difference between God and fighter pilots? A: God doesn't think he's a fighter pilot.

Q: What's the difference between a fighter pilot and a jet engine? A: A jet engine stops whining when the plane shuts down.

The elderly American gentleman arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he fumbled for his passport. "You 'ave been to France before, monsieur?" the customs officer asked sarcastically. The old gent admitted that he had been to France previously. "Zen, you should know enough to 'ave your passport ready for inspection" The American said, "The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it." "Impossible. You Americans alwayz 'ave to show your passports on arrival in France!" The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained. "Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in '44, I couldn't find any Frenchmen to show it to."

=

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What a tribute! Vietnam Wall

First click on a state. When it opens, scroll down to the city and the names will appear.

Then click on their names. It should show you a picture of the person, or at least their bio and medals. This really is an amazing web site. Someone spent a lot of time and effort to create it.

I hope that everyone who receives this appreciates what those who served in Vietnam sacrificed for our country.

The link below is a virtual wall of all those lost during the Vietnam war with the names, bio's and other information on our lost heroes. Those who remember that time frame, or perhaps lost friends or family can look them up on this site.

Pass the link on to others, as many knew wonderful people whose names are listed.

http://www.virtualwall.org/iStates.htm

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Aloha Garimpo,

Just emailed a LOT of family and friends back in Hawaii with the link to the virutal wall. MAHALO for the info.

Aloha,

Stan aka Ka'imi

PS: Hope you got my "sisters" email address. she said that you need to id your email because she doesn't open any emails from people she cant id. Just put down "from a friend of stans'.

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It's a small island, less than 40 square miles, a flat green dot in the vastness of Pacific blue. Fly over it and you notice a slash across its north end of uninhabited bush, a long thin line that looks like an overgrown dirt runway. If you didn't know what it was, you wouldn't give it a second glance out your airplane window.

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On the ground, you see the runway isn't dirt but tarmac and crushed limestone, abandoned with weeds sticking out of it. Yet this is arguably the most historical airstrip on earth. This is where World War II was won. This is Runway Able:

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On July 24, 1944, 30,000 US Marines landed on the beaches of Tinian . Eight days later, over 8,000 of the 8,800 Japanese soldiers on the island were dead (vs. 328 Marines), and four months later the Seabees had built the busiest airfield of WWII - dubbed North Field - enabling B-29 Superfortresses to launch air attacks on the Philippines, Okinawa, and mainland Japan.

Late in the afternoon of August 5, 1945, a B-29 was maneuvered over a bomb loading pit, then after lengthy preparations, taxied to the east end of North Field's main runway, Runway Able, and at 2:45am in the early morning darkness of August 6, took off.

The B-29 was piloted by Col. Paul Tibbets of the US Army Air Force, who had named the plane after his mother, Enola Gay. The crew named the bomb they were carrying Little Boy. 6½ hours later at 8:15am Japan time, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima .

Three days later, in the pre-dawn hours of August 9, a B-29 named Bockscar (a pun on "boxcar" after its flight commander Capt. Fred Bock), piloted by Major Charles Sweeney took off from Runway Able. Finding its primary target of Kokura obscured by clouds, Sweeney proceeded to the secondary target of Nagasaki, over which, at 11:01am, bombardier Kermit Beahan released the atomic bomb dubbed Fat Man.

Here is "Atomic Bomb Pit #1" where Little Boy was loaded onto Enola Gay:

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There are pictures displayed in the pit, now glass-enclosed. This one shows Little Boy being hoisted into Enola Gay's bomb bay.

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And here on the other side of ramp is "Atomic Bomb Pit #2" where Fat Man was loaded onto Bockscar.

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The commemorative plaque records that 16 hours after the nuking of Nagasaki , "On August 10, 1945 at 0300, the Japanese Emperor without his cabinet's consent decided to end the Pacific War."

Take a good look at these pictures, folks. This is where World War II ended with total victory of America over Japan . I was there all alone. There were no other visitors and no one lives anywhere near for miles. Visiting the Bomb Pits, walking along deserted Runway Able in solitude, was a moment of extraordinarily powerful solemnity.

It was a moment of deep reflection. Most people, when they think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki , reflect on the numbers of lives killed in the nuclear blasts - at least 70,000 and 50,000 respectively. Being here caused me to reflect on the number of lives saved - how many more Japanese and Americans would have died in a continuation of the war had the nukes not been dropped.

Yet that was not all. It's not just that the nukes obviated the US invasion of Japan , Operation Downfall, that would have caused upwards of a million American and Japanese deaths or more. It's that nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki were of extraordinary humanitarian benefit to the nation and people of Japan .

Let's go to this cliff on the nearby island of Saipan to learn why:

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Saipan is less than a mile north of Tinian .. The month before the Marines took Tinian, on June 15, 1944, 71,000 Marines landed on Saipan . They faced 31,000 Japanese soldiers determined not to surrender.

Japan had colonized Saipan after World War I and turned the island into a giant sugar cane plantation. By the time of the Marine invasion, in addition to the 31,000 entrenched soldiers, some 25,000 Japanese settlers were living on Saipan, plus thousands more Okinawans, Koreans, and native islanders brutalized as slaves to cut the sugar cane.

There were also one or two thousand Korean "comfort women" (kanji in Japanese), abducted young women from Japan 's colony of Korea to service the Japanese soldiers as sex slaves. (See The Comfort Women: Japan 's Brutal Regime of Enforced Prostitution in the Second World War, by George Hicks.)

Within a week of their landing, the Marines set up a civilian prisoner encampment that quickly attracted a couple thousand Japanese and others wanting US food and protection. When word of this reached Emperor Hirohito - who contrary to the myth was in full charge of the war - he became alarmed that radio interviews of the well-treated prisoners broadcast to Japan would subvert his people's will to fight.

As meticulously documented by historian Herbert Bix in Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, the Emperor issued an order for all Japanese civilians on Saipan to commit suicide. The order included the promise that, although the civilians were of low caste, their suicide would grant them a status in heaven equal to those honored soldiers who died in combat for their Emperor.

And that is why the precipice in the picture above is known as Suicide Cliff, off which over 20,000 Japanese civilians jumped to their deaths to comply with their fascist emperor's desire - mothers flinging their babies off the cliff first or in their arms as they jumped.

Anyone reluctant or refused, such as the Okinawan or Korean slaves, were shoved off at gunpoint by the Jap soldiers. Then the soldiers themselves proceeded to hurl themselves into the ocean to drown off a sea cliff afterwards called Banzai Cliff. Of the 31,000 Japanese soldiers on Saipan , the Marines killed 25,000, 5,000 jumped off Banzai Cliff, and only the remaining thousand were taken prisoner.

The extent of this demented fanaticism is very hard for any civilized mind to fathom - especially when it is devoted not to anything noble but barbarian evil instead. The vast brutalities inflicted by the Japanese on their conquered and colonized peoples of China , Korea , the Philippines , and throughout their "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" was a hideously depraved horror.

And they were willing to fight to the death to defend it. So they had to be nuked. The only way to put an end to the Japanese barbarian horror was unimaginably colossal destruction against which they had no defense whatever. Nuking Japan was not a matter of justice, revenge, or it getting what it deserved. It was the only way to end the Japanese dementia.

And it worked - for the Japanese. They stopped being barbarians and started being civilized. They achieved more prosperity - and peace - than they ever knew, or could have achieved had they continued fighting and not been nuked. The shock of getting nuked is responsible.

We achieved this because we were determined to achieve victory. Victory without apologies. Despite perennial liberal demands we do so, America and its government has never apologized for nuking Japan . Hopefully, America never will.

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G'Day Don

Excellent............might I add

Great story of American ingenuity – one of the factors that makes the American military so good.

U.S.S. Barb: The Sub That Sank A Train

In 1973 an Italian submarine named Enrique Tazzoli was sold for a paltry $100,000 as scrap metal. The submarine, given to the Italian Navy in 1953, was originally the USS Barb, an incredible veteran of World War II service with a heritage that never should have passed so unnoticed into the graveyards of the metal recyclers.

The U.S.S. Barb was a pioneer, paving the way for the first submarine launched missiles and flying a battle flag unlike that of any other ship. In addition to the Medal of Honor ribbon at the top of the flag identifying the heroism of its captain, Commander Eugene "Lucky" Fluckey, the bottom border of the flag bore the image of a Japanese locomotive. The U.S.S. Barb was indeed, the submarine that "SANK A TRAIN".

July 18, 1945 (Patience Bay, Off the coast of Karafuto, Japan):

It was after 4 A.M. and Commander Fluckey rubbed his eyes as he peered over the map spread before him. It was the twelfth war patrol of the Barb, the fifth under Commander Fluckey. He should have turned command over to another skipper after four patrols, but had managed to strike a deal with Admiral Lockwood to make one more trip with the men he cared for like a father, should his fourth patrol be successful. Of course, no one suspected when he had struck that deal prior to his fourth and what should have been his final war patrol on the Barb, that Commander Fluckey's success would be so great he would be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Commander Fluckey smiled as he remembered that patrol. "Lucky" Fluckey they called him. On January 8th the Barb had emerged victorious from a running two-hour night battle after sinking a large enemy ammunition ship. Two weeks later in Mamkwan Harbor he found the "mother-lode" ....more than 30 enemy ships. In only 5 fathoms (30 feet) of water his crew had unleashed the sub's forward torpedoes, then turned and fired four from the stern. As he pushed the Barb to the full limit of its speed through the dangerous waters in a daring withdrawal to the open sea, he recorded eight direct hits on six enemy ships.

What could possibly be left for the Commander to accomplish who, just three months earlier had been in Washington, DC to receive the Medal of Honor? He smiled to himself as he looked again at the map showing the rail line that ran along the enemy coastline.

Now his crew was buzzing excitedly about bagging a train!

The rail line itself wouldn't be a problem. A shore patrol could go ashore under cover of darkness to plant the explosives.. ..one of the sub's 55-pound scuttling charges. But this early morning Lucky Fluckey and his officers were puzzling over how they could blow not only the rails, but also one of the frequent trains that shuttled supplies to equip the Japanese war machine. But no matter how crazy the idea might have sounded, the Barb's skipper would not risk the lives of his men. Thus the problem... how to detonate the charge at the moment the train passed, without endangering the life of a shore party. PROBLEM?

Solutions! If you don't look for them, you'll never find them. And even then, sometimes they arrive in the most unusual fashion. Cruising slowly beneath the surface to evade the enemy plane now circling overhead, the monotony was broken with an exciting new idea: Instead of having a crewman on shore to trigger explosives to blow both rail and a passing train, why not let the train BLOW ITSELF up? Billy Hatfield was excitedly explaining how he had cracked nuts on the railroad tracks as a kid, placing the nuts between two ties so the sagging of the rail under the weight of a train would break them open. "Just like cracking walnuts," he explained. "To complete the circuit (detonating the 55-pound charge) we hook in a micro switch ...between two ties. We don't set it off, the TRAIN does." Not only did Hatfield have the plan, he wanted to be part of the volunteer shore party.

The solution found, there was no shortage of volunteers; all that was needed was the proper weather...a little cloud cover to darken the moon for the mission ashore. Lucky Fluckey established his own criteria for the volunteer party:

...No married men would be included, except for Hatfield,

...The party would include members from each department,

...The opportunity would be split between regular Navy and Navy Reserve sailors,

...At least half of the men had to have been Boy Scouts, experienced in how to handle themselves in medical emergencies and in the woods.

FINALLY, "Lucky" Fluckey would lead the saboteurs himself.

When the names of the 8 selected sailors was announced it was greeted with a mixture of excitement and disappointment. Among the disappointed was Commander Fluckey who surrendered his opportunity at the insistence of his officers that "as commander he belonged with the Barb," coupled with the threat from one that "I swear I'll send a message to ComSubPac if you attempt this (joining the shore party himself)." Even a Japanese POW being held on the Barb wanted to go, promising not to try to escape!

In the meantime, there would be no more harassment of Japanese shipping or shore operations by the Barb until the train mission had been accomplished. The crew would "lay low", prepare their equipment, train, and wait for the weather.

July 22, 1945 (Patience Bay, Off the coast of Karafuto, Japan )

Patience Bay was wearing thin the patience of Commander Fluckey and his innovative crew. Everything was ready. In the four days the saboteurs had anxiously watched the skies for cloud cover, the inventive crew of the Barb had built their micro switch. When the need was proposed for a pick and shovel to bury the explosive charge and batteries, the Barb's engineers had cut up steel plates in the lower flats of an engine room, then bent and welded them to create the needed tools. The only things beyond their control were the weather....and time. Only five days remained in the Barb's patrol.

Anxiously watching the skies, Commander Fluckey noticed plumes of cirrus clouds, then white stratus capping the mountain peaks ashore. A cloud cover was building to hide the three-quarters moon. This would be the night.

MIDNIGHT, July 23, 1945

The Barb had crept within 950 yards of the shoreline. If it was somehow seen from the shore it would probably be mistaken for a schooner or Japanese patrol boat. No one would suspect an American submarine so close to shore or in such shallow water. Slowly the small boats were lowered to the water and the 8 saboteurs began paddling toward the enemy beach. Twenty-five minutes later they pulled the boats ashore and walked on the surface of the Japanese homeland.

Stumbling through noisy waist-high grasses, crossing a highway and then into a 4-foot drainage ditch, the saboteurs made their way to the railroad tracks. Three men were posted as guards, Markuson assigned to examine a nearby water tower. The Barb's auxiliary man climbed the ladder, then stopped in shock as he realized it was an enemy lookout tower....an OCCUPIED tower. Fortunately the Japanese sentry was peacefully sleeping and Markuson was able to quietly withdraw and warn his raiding party.

The news from Markuson caused the men digging the placement for the explosive charge to continue their work more slowly and quietly. Twenty minutes later the holes had been dug and the explosives and batteries hidden beneath fresh soil.

During planning for the mission the saboteurs had been told that, with the explosives in place, all would retreat a safe distance while Hatfield made the final connection. If the sailor who had once cracked walnuts on the railroad tracks slipped during this final, dangerous procedure, his would be the only life lost. On this night it was the only order the saboteurs refused to obey, all of them peering anxiously over Hatfield's shoulder to make sure he did it right. The men had come too far to be disappointed by a switch failure.

1:32 A.M.

Watching from the deck of the Barb, Commander Fluckey allowed himself a sigh of relief as he noticed the flashlight signal from the beach announcing the departure of the shore party. He had skillfully, and daringly, guided the Barb within 600 yards of the enemy beach. There was less than 6 feet of water beneath the sub's keel, but Fluckey wanted to be close in case trouble arose and a daring rescue of his saboteurs became necessary.

1:45 A.M.

The two boats carrying his saboteurs were only halfway back to the Barb when the sub's machine gunner yelled, "CAPTAIN! Another train coming up the tracks!" The Commander grabbed a megaphone and yelled through the night, "Paddle like the devil!", knowing full well that they wouldn't reach the Barb before the train hit the micro switch.

1:47 A.M.

The darkness was shattered by brilliant light and the roar of the explosion. The boilers of the locomotive blew, shattered pieces of the engine blowing 200 feet into the air. Behind it the cars began to accordion into each other, bursting into flame and adding to the magnificent fireworks display. Five minutes later the saboteurs were lifted to the deck by their exuberant comrades as the Barb turned to slip back to safer waters. Moving at only two knots, it would be a while before the Barb was into waters deep enough to allow it to submerge. It was a moment to savor, the culmination of teamwork, ingenuity and daring by the Commander and all his crew. "Lucky" Fluckey's voice came over the intercom. "All hands below deck not absolutely needed to maneuver the ship have permission to come topside." He didn't have to repeat the invitation. Hatches sprang open as the proud sailors of the Barb gathered on her decks to proudly watch the distant fireworks display. The Barb had "sunk" a Japanese TRAIN!

On August 2, 1945 the Barb arrived at Midway, her twelfth war patrol concluded. Meanwhile United States military commanders had pondered the prospect of an armed assault on the Japanese homeland. Military tacticians estimated such an invasion would cost more than a million American casualties. Instead of such a costly armed offensive to end the war, on August 6th the B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped a single atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan . A second such bomb, unleashed 4 days later on Nagasaki , Japan , caused Japan to agree to surrender terms on August 15th. On September 2, 1945 in Tokyo Harbor the documents ending the war in the Pacific were signed.

The story of the saboteurs of the U.S.S. Barb is one of those unique, little known stories of World War II. It becomes increasingly important when one realizes that the 8 sailors who blew up the train near Kashiho , Japan conducted the ONLY GROUND COMBAT OPERATION on the Japanese "homeland" of World War II. The eight saboteurs were:

Paul Saunders

William Hatfield

Francis Sever

Lawrence Newland

Edward Klinglesmith

James Richard

John Markuson

William Walker.

Footnote: Eugene Bennett Fluckey retired from the Navy as a Rear Admiral, and wears in addition to his Medal of Honor, FOUR Navy Crosses...a record of awards unmatched by any living American. In 1992 his own history of the U.S.S. Barb was published in the award winning book, THUNDER BELOW. Over the past several years proceeds from the sale of this exciting book have been used by Admiral Fluckey to provide free reunions for the men who served him aboard the Barb, and their wives.

PS: The Admiral had graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1935 and lived to age 93, passing on in 2007.

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G'Day Don

Excellent............might I add

Great story of American ingenuity – one of the factors that makes the American military so good.

U.S.S. Barb: The Sub That Sank A Train

In 1973 an Italian submarine named Enrique Tazzoli was sold for a paltry $100,000 as scrap metal. The submarine, given to the Italian Navy in 1953, was originally the USS Barb, an incredible veteran of World War II service with a heritage that never should have passed so unnoticed into the graveyards of the metal recyclers.

The U.S.S. Barb was a pioneer, paving the way for the first submarine launched missiles and flying a battle flag unlike that of any other ship. In addition to the Medal of Honor ribbon at the top of the flag identifying the heroism of its captain, Commander Eugene "Lucky" Fluckey, the bottom border of the flag bore the image of a Japanese locomotive. The U.S.S. Barb was indeed, the submarine that "SANK A TRAIN".

July 18, 1945 (Patience Bay, Off the coast of Karafuto, Japan):

It was after 4 A.M. and Commander Fluckey rubbed his eyes as he peered over the map spread before him. It was the twelfth war patrol of the Barb, the fifth under Commander Fluckey. He should have turned command over to another skipper after four patrols, but had managed to strike a deal with Admiral Lockwood to make one more trip with the men he cared for like a father, should his fourth patrol be successful. Of course, no one suspected when he had struck that deal prior to his fourth and what should have been his final war patrol on the Barb, that Commander Fluckey's success would be so great he would be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Commander Fluckey smiled as he remembered that patrol. "Lucky" Fluckey they called him. On January 8th the Barb had emerged victorious from a running two-hour night battle after sinking a large enemy ammunition ship. Two weeks later in Mamkwan Harbor he found the "mother-lode" ....more than 30 enemy ships. In only 5 fathoms (30 feet) of water his crew had unleashed the sub's forward torpedoes, then turned and fired four from the stern. As he pushed the Barb to the full limit of its speed through the dangerous waters in a daring withdrawal to the open sea, he recorded eight direct hits on six enemy ships.

What could possibly be left for the Commander to accomplish who, just three months earlier had been in Washington, DC to receive the Medal of Honor? He smiled to himself as he looked again at the map showing the rail line that ran along the enemy coastline.

Now his crew was buzzing excitedly about bagging a train!

The rail line itself wouldn't be a problem. A shore patrol could go ashore under cover of darkness to plant the explosives.. ..one of the sub's 55-pound scuttling charges. But this early morning Lucky Fluckey and his officers were puzzling over how they could blow not only the rails, but also one of the frequent trains that shuttled supplies to equip the Japanese war machine. But no matter how crazy the idea might have sounded, the Barb's skipper would not risk the lives of his men. Thus the problem... how to detonate the charge at the moment the train passed, without endangering the life of a shore party. PROBLEM?

Solutions! If you don't look for them, you'll never find them. And even then, sometimes they arrive in the most unusual fashion. Cruising slowly beneath the surface to evade the enemy plane now circling overhead, the monotony was broken with an exciting new idea: Instead of having a crewman on shore to trigger explosives to blow both rail and a passing train, why not let the train BLOW ITSELF up? Billy Hatfield was excitedly explaining how he had cracked nuts on the railroad tracks as a kid, placing the nuts between two ties so the sagging of the rail under the weight of a train would break them open. "Just like cracking walnuts," he explained. "To complete the circuit (detonating the 55-pound charge) we hook in a micro switch ...between two ties. We don't set it off, the TRAIN does." Not only did Hatfield have the plan, he wanted to be part of the volunteer shore party.

The solution found, there was no shortage of volunteers; all that was needed was the proper weather...a little cloud cover to darken the moon for the mission ashore. Lucky Fluckey established his own criteria for the volunteer party:

...No married men would be included, except for Hatfield,

...The party would include members from each department,

...The opportunity would be split between regular Navy and Navy Reserve sailors,

...At least half of the men had to have been Boy Scouts, experienced in how to handle themselves in medical emergencies and in the woods.

FINALLY, "Lucky" Fluckey would lead the saboteurs himself.

When the names of the 8 selected sailors was announced it was greeted with a mixture of excitement and disappointment. Among the disappointed was Commander Fluckey who surrendered his opportunity at the insistence of his officers that "as commander he belonged with the Barb," coupled with the threat from one that "I swear I'll send a message to ComSubPac if you attempt this (joining the shore party himself)." Even a Japanese POW being held on the Barb wanted to go, promising not to try to escape!

In the meantime, there would be no more harassment of Japanese shipping or shore operations by the Barb until the train mission had been accomplished. The crew would "lay low", prepare their equipment, train, and wait for the weather.

July 22, 1945 (Patience Bay, Off the coast of Karafuto, Japan )

Patience Bay was wearing thin the patience of Commander Fluckey and his innovative crew. Everything was ready. In the four days the saboteurs had anxiously watched the skies for cloud cover, the inventive crew of the Barb had built their micro switch. When the need was proposed for a pick and shovel to bury the explosive charge and batteries, the Barb's engineers had cut up steel plates in the lower flats of an engine room, then bent and welded them to create the needed tools. The only things beyond their control were the weather....and time. Only five days remained in the Barb's patrol.

Anxiously watching the skies, Commander Fluckey noticed plumes of cirrus clouds, then white stratus capping the mountain peaks ashore. A cloud cover was building to hide the three-quarters moon. This would be the night.

MIDNIGHT, July 23, 1945

The Barb had crept within 950 yards of the shoreline. If it was somehow seen from the shore it would probably be mistaken for a schooner or Japanese patrol boat. No one would suspect an American submarine so close to shore or in such shallow water. Slowly the small boats were lowered to the water and the 8 saboteurs began paddling toward the enemy beach. Twenty-five minutes later they pulled the boats ashore and walked on the surface of the Japanese homeland.

Stumbling through noisy waist-high grasses, crossing a highway and then into a 4-foot drainage ditch, the saboteurs made their way to the railroad tracks. Three men were posted as guards, Markuson assigned to examine a nearby water tower. The Barb's auxiliary man climbed the ladder, then stopped in shock as he realized it was an enemy lookout tower....an OCCUPIED tower. Fortunately the Japanese sentry was peacefully sleeping and Markuson was able to quietly withdraw and warn his raiding party.

The news from Markuson caused the men digging the placement for the explosive charge to continue their work more slowly and quietly. Twenty minutes later the holes had been dug and the explosives and batteries hidden beneath fresh soil.

During planning for the mission the saboteurs had been told that, with the explosives in place, all would retreat a safe distance while Hatfield made the final connection. If the sailor who had once cracked walnuts on the railroad tracks slipped during this final, dangerous procedure, his would be the only life lost. On this night it was the only order the saboteurs refused to obey, all of them peering anxiously over Hatfield's shoulder to make sure he did it right. The men had come too far to be disappointed by a switch failure.

1:32 A.M.

Watching from the deck of the Barb, Commander Fluckey allowed himself a sigh of relief as he noticed the flashlight signal from the beach announcing the departure of the shore party. He had skillfully, and daringly, guided the Barb within 600 yards of the enemy beach. There was less than 6 feet of water beneath the sub's keel, but Fluckey wanted to be close in case trouble arose and a daring rescue of his saboteurs became necessary.

1:45 A.M.

The two boats carrying his saboteurs were only halfway back to the Barb when the sub's machine gunner yelled, "CAPTAIN! Another train coming up the tracks!" The Commander grabbed a megaphone and yelled through the night, "Paddle like the devil!", knowing full well that they wouldn't reach the Barb before the train hit the micro switch.

1:47 A.M.

The darkness was shattered by brilliant light and the roar of the explosion. The boilers of the locomotive blew, shattered pieces of the engine blowing 200 feet into the air. Behind it the cars began to accordion into each other, bursting into flame and adding to the magnificent fireworks display. Five minutes later the saboteurs were lifted to the deck by their exuberant comrades as the Barb turned to slip back to safer waters. Moving at only two knots, it would be a while before the Barb was into waters deep enough to allow it to submerge. It was a moment to savor, the culmination of teamwork, ingenuity and daring by the Commander and all his crew. "Lucky" Fluckey's voice came over the intercom. "All hands below deck not absolutely needed to maneuver the ship have permission to come topside." He didn't have to repeat the invitation. Hatches sprang open as the proud sailors of the Barb gathered on her decks to proudly watch the distant fireworks display. The Barb had "sunk" a Japanese TRAIN!

On August 2, 1945 the Barb arrived at Midway, her twelfth war patrol concluded. Meanwhile United States military commanders had pondered the prospect of an armed assault on the Japanese homeland. Military tacticians estimated such an invasion would cost more than a million American casualties. Instead of such a costly armed offensive to end the war, on August 6th the B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped a single atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan . A second such bomb, unleashed 4 days later on Nagasaki , Japan , caused Japan to agree to surrender terms on August 15th. On September 2, 1945 in Tokyo Harbor the documents ending the war in the Pacific were signed.

The story of the saboteurs of the U.S.S. Barb is one of those unique, little known stories of World War II. It becomes increasingly important when one realizes that the 8 sailors who blew up the train near Kashiho , Japan conducted the ONLY GROUND COMBAT OPERATION on the Japanese "homeland" of World War II. The eight saboteurs were:

Paul Saunders

William Hatfield

Francis Sever

Lawrence Newland

Edward Klinglesmith

James Richard

John Markuson

William Walker.

Footnote: Eugene Bennett Fluckey retired from the Navy as a Rear Admiral, and wears in addition to his Medal of Honor, FOUR Navy Crosses...a record of awards unmatched by any living American. In 1992 his own history of the U.S.S. Barb was published in the award winning book, THUNDER BELOW. Over the past several years proceeds from the sale of this exciting book have been used by Admiral Fluckey to provide free reunions for the men who served him aboard the Barb, and their wives.

PS: The Admiral had graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1935 and lived to age 93, passing on in 2007.

A fantastic post Johnno...thanks!

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Until they All Come HomeDecember 9, 2010 - 10:41 PM | by: Adam Housley

Thousands of miles away from home and years away from battle, a specialized military and civilian crew digs for answers in the middle of the Vietnam jungle, hoping to find remains of life and put to final rest one of the 84,000 Americans still missing in action. The process can be tedious and in some cases dangerous, as some sites are wedged into the sides of mountains, while others are still littered with unexploded ordinances.

post-300-0-65274900-1292021568_thumb.jpg

Called 'the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command or JPAC', about 300 men and women travel around the world to recover the missing from past wars. Split into 18 recovery teams on site, they are comprised of a forensic anthropologist, a sergeant, linguist, medic, life support technician, forensic photographer, a communications technician/operator and an explosive ordnance disposal technician...among others experts who are needed depending on the terrain and locale. Once the recovery has been completed and that process can take many weeks, the team holds a ceremony and the remains are then brought back to the laboratory in Hawaii.

Audrey Meehan works in the lab on Oahu and tells us, "I’m a mother, I have children, and I can’t imagine my children going off to war and never knowing where their remains ended up." JPAC member Carrie brown agrees, "This is one of those jobs where every single day, I go home and know that I’ve done something important."

By most accounts, about half of the 84,000 missing (most from WWII) can be recovered and brought home to a final rest, but the process is delicate and can take years. A team has to first research a site or battle location, then get approval from the country involved, once arriving the team needs to carefully excavate the ground that can in some cases still contain explosives and amongst terrain that is rarely flat and easy to get to. Once back at the lab at Hickam AFB, the remains are then analyzed by a host of scientists to ensure an exact match, in some cases using just a few fragments of bone.

Closure comes after the long and precise process of identification is complete and then the Mortuary Affairs office personally notifies next-of-kin family members. As we talk with the specialists here in Hawaii about this process, including the commanding officer General Stephen Tom, they all express such a sincere dedication and emotion that should warm every military heart waiting for an answer. These men and women are using every means necessary to bring our heroes home.

Captain Jason Murray tells me, "Being on these missions brings back memories of being deployed to Iraq or wherever and it’s good to know that if I were ever to die or something like that, that, you know, someone would be there to bring me back." He continues, "Because we don’t leave anybody behind."

Captain Murray's words couldn't be more true when you walk into the lab here on Oahu. From the outside massive glass panels keeps most of the outside world and air from coming in. Etched next to an American flag, the POW/MIA insignia and through the etching I see table after table of remains. Each one representing an excavated site...each one representing at least one fallen soldier soon to find a home. This is one of those stories that has captivated our crew and our emotions, as we walk amongst the tables I want to know every story and comfort every family.

As the search goes on and plans are being made for Poland, Germany and more areas in the South Pacific, JPAC is getting a brand new laboratory and facility here on Oahu; built by the Navy. In these tough budget times, it should be noted that the Navy did not cut the project, stuck with the expenditure and plans are moving forward. Congress has signed-on, but budget approvals come late and contracts need to be signed earlier. The team battles all this and the task of diplomacy and research. A return to North Korea could also be in the cards, but the regime expects to be paid for access and their continued saber rattling doesn't make Washington feel an easier.

Calvin Coolidge once said, "The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten." That motto and the desire to provide answers and closures for families that have waited a lifetime, drives JPAC and the men and women who serve it. While it's solemn and sad when a flag draped coffin from a past conflict gets set into the ground, there's comfort in knowing the final rest will be on American soil.

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A big flag that is always up at my house (actually in my studio) is the "POW *MIA / You Are Not Forgotten" flags. Must be a tough job but I am sure glad there are those dedicated to doing it!

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Don, I though this fits well in this topic.

The story behind the National Anthem

Everytime I hear this story told I get goosebumps and my vision get a little blurry, don't ever forget what our forefathers have sacrificed for the freedom that most take for granted, and the freedom that our military fights for everyday to maintain!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=Iwa-lSVqA1M&vq=medium

Skip

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Don, I though this fits well in this topic.

The story behind the National Anthem

Everytime I hear this story told I get goosebumps and my vision get a little blurry, don't ever forget what our forefathers have sacrificed for the freedom that most take for granted, and the freedom that our military fights for everyday to maintain!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=Iwa-lSVqA1M&vq=medium

Skip

It fits very well Skip...thanks for posting!!!

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This was sent to me by a brother in arms...it has a powerful story and song for your

listening enjoyment....thanks Steve Wandt aka El Dorado....

This video is about a song called "Angel Flight" and how it came about. The first part is about how and why they decided to write this song and the last part is the song. Listen to the words of the pilot and the tower, and make sure you sit quietly and listen at the very end. This is beautiful. God bless all those who keep us free!!.

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Tough to read but proud to know such men as these line the

streets of heaven .....

>

> The Last Six Seconds>

> One can hardly conceive of the enormous grief held quietly within General

> Kelly as he spoke.

> ____________

>

> On Nov 13, 2010, Lt General John Kelly, USMC gave a speech to the Semper

> Fi Society of St. Louis , MO. This was 4 days after his son, Lt Robert

> Kelly, USMC was killed by an IED while on his 3rd Combat tour. During his

> speech, General Kelly spoke about the dedication and valor of our young

> men and women who step forward each and every day to protect us.

>

> During the speech, he never mentioned the loss of his own son. He closed

> the speech with the moving account of the last 6 seconds in the lives of 2

> young Marines who died with rifles blazing to protect their brother

> Marines.

>

>

> "I will leave you with a story about the kind of people they are about the

> quality of the steel in their backs about the kind of dedication they

> bring to our country while they serve in uniform and forever after as

> veterans. Two years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi

> forces, in fact, the 22nd of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions,

> 1/9 "The Walking Dead," and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi. One

> battalion in the closing days of their deployment going home very soon,

> the other just starting its seven-month combat tour. Two Marines, Corporal

> Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 22 and

> 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the

> watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a

> makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines. The same broken down ramshackle

> building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, also my men and our allies in

> the fight against the terrorists in Ramadi, a city until recently the most

> dangerous city on earth and owned by Al Qaeda. Yale was a dirt poor

> mixed-race kid from Virginia with a wife and daughter, and a mother and

> sister who lived with him and he supported as well. He did this on a

> yearly salary of less than $23,000. Haerter, on the other hand, was a

> middle class white kid from Long Island . They were from two completely

> different worlds. Had they not joined the Marines they would never have

> met each other, or understood that multiple America 's exist

> simultaneously depending on one's race, education level, economic status,

> and where you might have been born. But they were Marines, combat Marines,

> forged in the same crucible of Marine training, and because of this bond

> they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same

> woman.

>

> The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure

> went something like: "Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no

> unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass." "You clear?" I am also sure Yale

> and Haerter then rolled their eyes and said in unison something like: "Yes

> Sergeant," with just enough attitude that made the point without saying

> the words, "No kidding sweetheart, we know what we're doing." They then

> relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry

> control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of

> Ramadi, Al Anbar, Iraq .

>

> A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way-perhaps

> 60-70 yards in length-and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete

> jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted

> and detonated, killing them both catastrophically. Twenty-four brick

> masonry houses were damaged or destroyed. A mosque

> 100 yards away collapsed. The truck's engine came to rest two hundred

> yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped. Our explosive

> experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds of explosives. Two

> died, and because these two young infantrymen didn't have it in their DNA

> to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American

> brothers-in-arms.

>

> When I read the situation report about the incident a few hours after it

> happened I called the regimental commander for details as something about

> this struck me as different. Marines dying or being seriously wounded is

> commonplace in combat. We expect Marines regardless of rank or MOS to

> stand their ground and do their duty, and even die in the process, if that

> is what the mission takes. But this just seemed different. The regimental

> commander had just returned from the site and he agreed, but reported that

> there were no American witnesses to the event-just Iraqi police. I figured

> if there was any chance of finding out what actually happened and then to

> decorate the two Marines to acknowledge their bravery, I'd have to do it

> as a combat award that requires two eye-witnesses and we figured the

> bureaucrats back in Washington would never buy Iraqi statements. If it had

> any chance at all, it had to come under the signature of a general

> officer.

>

> I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen

> Iraqi police all of whom told the same story. The blue truck turned down

> into the alley and immediately sped up as it made its way through the

> serpentine. They all said, "We knew immediately what was going on as soon

> as the two Marines began firing." The Iraqi police then related that some

> of them also fired, and then to a man, ran for safety just prior to the

> explosion. All survived. Many were injuredsome seriously. One of the

> Iraqis elaborated andd with tears welling up said, "They'd run like any

> normal man would to save his life." "What he didn't know until then," he

> said, "and what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not

> normal." Choking past the emotion he said, "Sir, in the name of God no

> sane man would have stood there and done what they did." "No sane man."

> "They saved us all."

>

> What we didn't know at the time, and only learned a couple of days later

> after I wrote a summary and submitted both Yale and Haerter for posthumous

> Navy Crosses, was that one of our security cameras, damaged initially in

> the blast, recorded some of the suicide attack. It happened exactly as the

> Iraqis had described it. It took exactly six seconds from when the truck

> entered the alley until it detonated.

>

> You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives. Putting myself in

> their heads I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to

> separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the

> truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. Exactly no time to

> talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough

> time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them

> to do only a few minutes before: "let noo unauthorized personnel or

> vehicles pass." The two Marines had about five seconds left to live.

>

> It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take

> aim, and open up. By this time the truck was half-way through the barriers

> and gaining speed the whole time. Here, the recording shows a number of

> Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the

> normal and rational men they were-some running right past the Marines.

> They had three seconds left to live.

>

> For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines' weapons

> firing non-stopthe truck's windshield exploding intoo shards of glass as

> their rounds take it apart and tore in to the body of the son-of-a-bitch

> who is trying to get past them to kill their brothers-American and

> Iraqi-bedded down in the barracks totally unaware of the fact that their

> lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their

> ground. If they had been aware, they would have known they were safe

> because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber. The

> recording shows the truck careening to a stop immediately in front of the

> two Marines. In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never

> hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back.

> They never even started to step aside. They never even shifted their

> weight. With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the

> danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons. They had only one

> second left to live.

>

> The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God.

> Six seconds. Not enough time to think about their families, their country,

> their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough

> time for two very brave young men to do their duty.into eternity. That is

> the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight-for you.

>

> We Marines believe that God gave America the greatest gift he could bestow

> to man while he lived on this earth-freedom. We also believe he gave us

> another gift nearly as precious-our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast

> Guardsmen, and Marines-to safeguard that gift and guarantee no force on

> this earth can every steal it away. It has been my distinct honor to have

> been with you here today. Rest assured our America , this experiment in

> democracy started over two centuries ago, will forever remain the "land of

> the free and home of the brave" so long as we never run out of tough young

> Americans who are willing to look beyond their own self-interest and

> comfortable lives, and go into the darkest and most dangerous places on

> earth to hunt down, and kill, those who would do us harm.

>

> God Bless America , and SEMPER FIDELIS!"

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Profiles of Valor: Maj. Dick Winters, Inspiration for 'Band of Brothers', RIPAmerica lost another World War II hero on Jan. 2, when Army Maj. Dick Winters (ret.) died at the age of 92. He requested that his death not be made public until after the funeral. On June 6, 1944, then-First Lt. Winters parachuted into the French village of Ste. Marie-du-Mont with the other members of the U.S. Army's E Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. The group was famously nicknamed "Easy Company" and became the inspiration for historian Stephen Ambrose's "Band of Brothers."

After Easy Company's commander was killed in a plane crash early in the assault, Winters led the company on its mission to destroy four 105mm howitzers and a 50-man German platoon to help clear the way for the invading Allied Forces' landing at Utah Beach. Winters lost his weapon during the drop and was initially isolated from his men, but he regrouped and led the successful assault, despite the unit's suffering 50 percent casualties. He later called his actions "my apogee" -- actions for which he received the Distinguished Service Cross. Ambrose wrote, "It surely saved a lot of lives, and made it much easier for -- perhaps even made it possible in the first instance -- for tanks to come inland from the beach."

When the war was over, Winters worked in New Jersey at a fertilizer plant, and later sold animal feed and ran a farm. He left his war experiences behind him, but his men never forgot. William Guarnere lost a leg in the Battle of the Bulge under Winters' command. After learning of the latter's death, Guarnere said, "I would follow him to hell and back. So would the men from E Company." Rest in peace, Maj. Winters.

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Cemetary Watchmen

My friend Kevin and I are volunteers at a National cemetery in Oklahoma and put in a few days a month in a 'slightly larger' uniform.

Today had been a long, long day and I just wanted to get the day over with and go down to Smokey's and have a cold one. Sneaking a look at my watch, I saw the time, 16:55. Five minutes to go before the cemetery gates are closed for the day. Full dress was hot in the August sun Oklahoma summertime was as bad as ever--the heat and humidity at the same level--both too high.

I saw the car pull into the drive, '69 or '70 model Cadillac Deville, looked factory-new. It pulled into the parking lot at a snail's pace.. An old woman got out so slow I thought she was paralyzed; she had a cane and a sheaf of flowers--about four or five bunches as best I could tell.

I couldn't help myself. The thought came unwanted, and left a slightly bitter taste: 'She's going to spend an hour, and for this old soldier, my hip hurts like hell and I'm ready to get out of here right now!' But for this day, my duty was to assist anyone coming in.

Kevin would lock the 'In' gate and if I could hurry the old biddy along, we might make it to Smokey's in time.

I broke post attention. My hip made gritty noises when I took the first step and the pain went up a notch. I must have made a real military sight: middle-aged man with a small pot gut and half a limp, in marine full-dress uniform, which had lost its razor crease about thirty minutes after I began the watch at the cemetery.

I stopped in front of her, halfway up the walk. She looked up at me with an old woman's squint.

'Ma'am, may I assist you in any way?'

She took long enough to answer.

'Yes, son. Can you carry these flowers? I seem to be moving a tad slow these days.'

'My pleasure, ma'am.' (Well, it wasn't too much of a lie.)

She looked again. 'Marine, where were you stationed?'

' Vietnam, ma'am.. Ground-pounder. '69 to '71.'

She looked at me closer. 'Wounded in action, I see. Well done, Marine. I'll be as quick as I can.'

I lied a little bigger: 'No hurry, ma'am.'

She smiled and winked at me. 'Son, I'm 85-years-old and I can tell a lie from a long way off.. Let's get this done. Might be the last time I can do this. My name's Joanne Wieserman, and I've a few Marines I'd like to see one more time..'

'Yes, ma 'am. At your service.'

She headed for the World War I section, stopping at a stone. She picked one of the flower bunches out of my arm and laid it on top of the stone. She murmured something I couldn't quite make out.. The name on the marble was Donald S. Davidson, USMC: France 1918.

She turned away and made a straight line for the World War II section, stopping at one stone. I saw a tear slowly tracking its way down her cheek. She put a bunch on a stone; the name was Stephen X.Davidson, USMC, 1943.

She went up the row a ways and laid another bunch on a stone, Stanley J. Wieserman, USMC, 1944..

She paused for a second and more tears flowed. 'Two more, son, and we'll be done'

I almost didn't say anything, but, 'Yes, ma'am. Take your time.'

She looked confused.. 'Where's the Vietnam section, son? I seem to have lost my way.'

I pointed with my chin. 'That way, ma'am.'

'Oh!' she chuckled quietly. 'Son, me and old age ain't too friendly.'

She headed down the walk I'd pointed at. She stopped at a couple of stones before she found the ones she wanted. She placed a bunch on Larry Wieserman, USMC, 1968, and the last on Darrel Wieserman, USMC, 1970. She stood there and murmured a few words I still couldn't make out and more tears flowed.

'OK, son, I'm finished. Get me back to my car and you can go home.'

Yes, ma'am. If I may ask, were those your kinfolk?'

She paused. 'Yes, Donald Davidson was my father, Stephenwas my uncle, Stanley was my husband, Larry and Darrelwere our sons. All killed in action, all Marines.'

She stopped! Whether she had finished, or couldn't finish, I don't know. She made her way to her car, slowly and painfully.

I waited for a polite distance to come between us and then double-timed it over to Kevin, waiting by the car.

'Get to the 'Out' gate quick.. I have something I've got to do.'

Kevin started to say something, but saw the look I gave him. He broke the rules to get us there down the service road fast. We beat her. She hadn't made it around the rotunda yet.

'Kevin, stand at attention next to the gatepost. Follow my lead.' I humped it across the drive to the other post

When the Cadillac came puttering around from the hedges and began the short straight traverse to the gate, I called in my best gunny's voice: 'TehenHut! Present Haaaarms!'

I have to hand it to Kevin; he never blinked an eye--full dress attention and a salute that would make his DI proud.

She drove through that gate with two old worn-out soldiers giving her a send-off she deserved, for service rendered to her country, and for knowing duty, honor and sacrifice far beyond the realm of most.

I am not sure, but I think I saw a salute returned from that Cadillac.

Instead of 'The End,' just think of 'Taps.'

As a final thought on my part, let me share a favorite prayer: 'Lord, keep our servicemen and women safe, whether they serve at home or overseas. Hold them in your loving hands and protect them as they protect us.'

Let's all keep those currently serving and those who have gone before in our thoughts. They are the reason for the many freedoms we enjoy.

'In God We Trust.'

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A great story about the crew of a fortress with the 'Mighty Eighth' during Oct. '44.

IT WAS A FORTRESS COMING HOMEThey could hear it before they could see it.

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By Allen Ostrom

They could hear it before they could see it!

Not all that unusual in those days as the personnel at Station 131 gathered around the tower and scattered hardstands to await the return of the B-17's sent out earlier that morning.

First comes the far off rumble and drone of the Cyclones. Then a spec on the East Anglia horizon Soon a small cluster indicating the lead squadron. Finally, the group.

Then the counting. 1-2-3-4-5... ..

But that would have been normal. Today was different! It was too early for the group to return.

"They're 20 minutes early. Can't be the 398th."

They could hear it before they could see it! Something was coming home. But what?

All eyes turned toward the northeast, aligning with the main runway, each ground guy and stood-down airman straining to make out this "wail of a Banshee," as one called it.

Not like a single B-17 with its characteristic deep roar of the engines blended with four thrashing propellers. This was a howl! Like a powerful wind blowing into a huge whistle.

Then it came into view. It WAS a B-17!

Low and pointing her nose at the 6,000 foot runway, it appeared for all the world to be crawling toward the earth, screaming in protest.

No need for the red flares. All who saw this Fort knew there was death aboard.

"Look at that nose!" they said as all eyes stared in amazement as this single, shattered remnant of a once beautiful airplane glided in for an unrealistic "hot" landing. She took all the runway as the "Banshee" noise finally abated, and came to an inglorious stop in the mud just beyond the concrete runway.

Men and machines raced to the now silent and lonely aircraft. The ambulance and medical staff were there first The fire truck....ground and air personnel... ..jeeps, truck, bikes.....

Out came one of the crew members from the waist door, then another. Strangely quiet. The scene was almost weird. Men stood by as if in shock, not knowing whether to sing or cry.

Either would have been acceptable.

The medics quietly made their way to the nose by way of the waist door as the remainder of the crew began exiting. And to answer the obvious question, "what happened?"

"What happened?" was easy to see. The nose was a scene of utter destruction. It was as though some giant aerial can opener had peeled the nose like an orange, relocating shreds of metal, Plexiglas, wires and tubes on the cockpit windshield and even up to the top turret. The left cheek gun hung limp, like a broken arm.

One man pointed to the crease in chin turret. No mistaking that mark! A German 88 anti-aircraft shell had exploded in the lap of the togglier.

This would be George Abbott of Mt Labanon , PA. He had been a waist gunner before training to take over the bombardier's role.

Still in the cockpit, physically and emotionally exhausted, were pilot Larry deLancey and co-pilot Phil Stahlman.

Navigator Ray LeDoux finally tapped deLancey on the shoulder and suggested they get out. Engineer turret gunner Ben Ruckel already had made his way to the waist was exiting along with radio operator Wendell Reed, ball turret gunner Al Albro, waist gunner Russell Lachman and tail gunner Herbert Guild.

Stahlman was flying his last scheduled mission as a replacement for regular co-pilot, Grady Cumbie. The latter had been hospitalized the day before with an ear problem. Lachman was also a "sub," filling in for Abbott in the waist.

DeLancey made it as far as the end of the runway, where he sat down with knees drawn up, arms crossed and head down. The ordeal was over, and now the drama was beginning a mental re-play.

Then a strange scene took place.

Group CO Col. Frank P. Hunter had arrived after viewing the landing from the tower and was about to approach deLancey He was physically restrained by flight surgeon Dr. Robert Sweet.

"Colonel, that young man doesn't want to talk now. When he is ready you can talk to him, but for now leave him alone."

Sweet handed pills out to each crew member and told them to go to their huts and sleep.

No dramatics, no cameras, no interviews. The crew would depart the next day for "flak leave" to shake off the stress And then be expected back early in November. (Just in time to resume "normal" activities on a mission to Merseburg!)

Mission No. 98 from Nuthampstead had begun at 0400 that morning of October

15, 1944. It would be Cologne (again), led by CA pilots Robert Templeman of the 602nd, Frank Schofield of the 601st and Charles Khourie of the 603rd.

Tragedy and death appeared quickly and early that day. Templeman and pilot Bill Scott got the 602nd off at the scheduled 0630 hour, but at approximately 0645 Khouri and pilot Bill Meyran and their entire crew crashed on takeoff in the town of Anstey . All were killed. Schofield and Harold Stallcup followed successfully with the 601st, with deLancey flying on their left wing in the lead element.

The ride to the target was routine, until the flak started becoming "unroutinely" accurate.

"We were going through heavy flak on the bomb run," remembered deLancey.

"I felt the plane begin to lift as the bombs were dropped, then all of a sudden we were rocked by a violent explosion. My first thought - 'a bomb exploded in the bomb bay' - was immediately discarded as the top of the nose section peeled back over the cockpit blocking the forward view."

"It seemed like the whole world exploded in front of us," added Stahlman. "The instrument panel all but disintegrated and layers of quilted batting exploded in a million pieces It was like a momentary snowstorm in the cockpit."

It had been a direct hit in the nose. Killed instantly was the togglier, Abbott. Navigator LeDoux, only three feet behind Abbott, was knocked unconscious for a moment, but was miraculously was alive.

Although stunned and bleeding, LeDoux made his way to the cockpit to find the two pilots struggling to maintain control of an airplane that by all rights should have been in its death plunge. LeDoux said there was nothing anyone could do for Abbott, while Ruckel opened the door to the bomb bay and signaled to the four crewman in the radio room that all was OK - for the time being.

The blast had torn away the top and much of the sides of the nose. Depositing enough of the metal on the windshield to make it difficult for either of the pilots to see.

"The instrument panel was torn loose and all the flight instruments were inoperative with the exception of the magnetic compass mounted in the panel above the windshield. And its accuracy was questionable. The radio and intercom were gone, the oxygen lines broken, and there was a ruptured hydraulic line under my rudder pedals," said deLancey.

All this complicated by the sub-zero temperature at 27,000 feet blasting into the cockpit.

"It was apparent that the damage was severe enough that we could not continue to fly in formation or at high altitude. My first concern was to avoid the other aircraft in the formation, and to get clear of the other planes in case we had to bail out. We eased out of formation, and at the same time removed our oxygen masks as they were collapsing on our faces as the tanks were empty."

At this point the formation continued on its prescribed course for home - a long, slow turn southeast of Cologne and finally westward.

DeLancey and Stahlman turned left, descending rapidly and hoping, they were heading west. (And also, not into the gun sights of German fighters.) Without maps and navigation aids, they had difficulty getting a fix. By this time they were down to 2,000 feet.

"We finally agreed that we were over Belgium and were flying in a southwesterly direction," said the pilot.

"About this time a pair of P-51's showed up and flew a loose formation on us across Belgium . I often wondered what they thought as they looked at the mess up front."

"We hit the coast right along the Belgium-Holland border, a bit farther north than we had estimated. Ray said we were just south of Walcheren Island ...."

Still in an area of ground fighting, the plane received some small arms fire. This gesture was returned in kind by Albro, shooting from one of the waist guns.

"We might have tried for one of the airfields in France , but having no maps this also was questionable. Besides, the controls and engines seemed to be OK, so I made the decision to try for home."

"Once over England , LeDoux soon picked up landmarks and gave me course corrections taking us directly to Nuthampstead. It was just a great bit of navigation. Ray just stood there on the flight deck and gave us the headings from memory."

Nearing the field, Stahlman let the landing gear down. That was an assurance. But a check of the hydraulic pump sent another spray of oil to the cockpit floor. Probably no brakes!

Nevertheless, a flare from Ruckel's pistol had to announce the "ready or not" landing. No "downwind leg" and "final approach" this time. Straight in!

"The landing was strictly by guess and feel," said DeLancey. "Without instruments, I suspect I came in a little hot. Also, I had to lean to the left to see straight ahead. The landing was satisfactory, and I had sufficient braking to slow the plane down some. However, as I neared the taxiway, I could feel the brakes getting 'soft'. I felt that losing control and blocking the taxiway would cause more problems than leaving the plane at the end of the runway."

That consideration was for the rest of the group. Soon three squadrons of B-17's would be returning, and they didn't need a derelict airplane blocking the way to their respective hardstands.

Stahlman, supremely thankful that his career with the 398th had come to an end, soon returned home and in due course became a captain with Eastern Airlines. Retired in 1984, Stahlman said his final Eastern flight "was a bit more routine" than the one 40 years before.

DeLancey and LeDoux received decorations on December 11, 1944 for their parts in the October 15 drama. DeLancey was awarded the Silver Star for his "miraculous feat of flying skill and ability" on behalf of General Doolittle , CO of the Eighth Air Force. LeDoux for his "extraordinary navigation skill", received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

The following deLancey 1944 article was transcribed from the 398th BG Historical Microfilm. Note: due to wartime security, Nuthampstead is not mentioned, and the route deLancey flew home is referred to in general terms.

TO: STARS AND STRIPES FOR GENERAL RELEASE

AN EIGHTH AIR FORCE BOMBER STATION, ENGLAND - After literally losing the nose of his B-17 Flying Fortress as the result of a direct hit by flak over Cologne , Germany on October 15, 1944, 1st Lt. Lawrence M. deLancey, 25, of Corvallis , Oregon returned to England and landed the crew safely at his home base. Each man walked away from the plane except the togglier, Staff Sergeant George E. Abbott, Mt. Lebanon , Pennsylvania , who was killed instantly when the flak struck.

It was only the combined skill and teamwork of Lt. deLancey and 2nd Lt. Raymond J. LeDoux, of Mt. Angel , Oregon , navigator, that enabled the plane and crew to return safely.

"Just after we dropped our bombs and started to turn away from the target", Lt. deLancey explained, "a flak burst hit directly in the nose and blew practically the entire nose section to threads. Part of the nose peeled back and obstructed my vision and that of my co-pilot, 1st Lt. Phillip H. Stahlman of Shippenville , Pennsylvania . What little there was left in front of me looked like a scrap heap. The wind was rushing through Our feet were exposed to the open air at nearly 30,000 feet above the ground the temperature was unbearable.

"There we were in a heavily defended flak area with no nose, and practically no instruments. The instrument panel was bent toward me as the result of the impact. My altimeter and magnetic compass were about the only instruments still operating and I couldn't depend on their accuracy too well. Naturally I headed for home immediately. The hit which had killed S/Sgt. Abbott also knocked Lt. LeDoux back in the catwalk (just below where I was sitting) Our oxygen system also was out so I descended to a safe altitude.

"Lt. LeDoux who had lost all his instruments and maps in the nose did a superb piece of navigating to even find England .."

During the route home flak again was encountered but due to evasive action Lt. deLancey was able to return to friendly territory. Lt. LeDoux navigated the ship directly to his home field.

Although the plane was off balance without any nose section, without any brakes (there was no hydraulic pressure left), and with obstructed vision, Lt. deLancey made a beautiful landing to the complete amazement of all personnel at this field who still are wondering how the feat was accomplished.

The other members of the crew include:

1. Technical Sergeant Benjamin H. Ruckel, Roscoe , California , engineer top turret gunner;

2. Technical Sergeant Wendell A. Reed, Shelby , Michigan , radio operator gunner;

3. Technical Sergeant Russell A. Lachman, Rockport , Mass. , waist gunner;

4. Staff Sergeant Albert Albro, Antioch , California , ball turret gunner and

5. Staff Sergeant Herbert D. Guild, Bronx , New York , tail gunner.

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Burial at Sea (Every American Should Read This!) To only those who would and could appreciate it. This account is one of a kind. A powerful one that touches your heart. Tough duty then as it is now.

Burial at Sea

by LtCol George Goodson, USMC (Ret)

In my 76th year, the events of my life appear to me, from time to time, as a series of vignettes. Some were significant; most were trivial...

War is the seminal event in the life of everyone that has endured it. Though I fought in Korea and the Dominican Republic and was wounded there, Vietnam was my war.

Now 42 years have passed and, thankfully, I rarely think of those days in Cambodia, Laos, and the panhandle of North Vietnam where small teams of Americans and Montangards fought much larger elements of the North Vietnamese Army. Instead I see vignettes: some exotic, some mundane:

*The smell of Nuc Mam.

*The heat, dust, and humidity.

*The blue exhaust of cycles clogging the streets.

*Elephants moving silently through the tall grass.

*Hard eyes behind the servile smiles of the villagers.

*Standing on a mountain in Laos and hearing a tiger roar.

*A young girl squeezing my hand as my medic delivered her baby.

*The flowing Ao Dais of the young women biking down Tran Hung Dao.

*My two years as Casualty Notification Officer in North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland.

It was late 1967. I had just returned after 18 months in Vietnam. Casualties were increasing. I moved my family from Indianapolis to Norfolk, rented a house, enrolled my children in their fifth or sixth new school, and bought a second car.

A week later, I put on my uniform and drove 10 miles to Little Creek, Virginia. I hesitated before entering my new office. Appearance is important to career Marines. I was no longer, if ever, a poster Marine. I had returned from my third tour in Vietnam only 30 days before. At 5'9", I now weighed 128 pounds - 37 pounds below my normal weight. My uniforms fit ludicrously, my skin was yellow from malaria medication, and I think I had a twitch or two.

I straightened my shoulders, walked into the office, looked at the nameplate on a Staff Sergeant's desk and said, "Sergeant Jolly, I'm Lieutenant Colonel Goodson. Here are my orders and my Qualification Jacket."

Sergeant Jolly stood, looked carefully at me, took my orders, stuck out his hand; we shook and he asked, "How long were you there, Colonel?" I replied "18 months this time." Jolly breathed, you must be a slow learner Colonel." I smiled.

Jolly said, "Colonel, I'll show you to your office and bring in the Sergeant Major. I said, "No, let's just go straight to his office." Jolly nodded, hesitated, and lowered his voice, "Colonel, the Sergeant Major. He's been in this job two years. He's packed pretty tight. I'm worried about him." I nodded.

Jolly escorted me into the Sergeant Major's office. "Sergeant Major, this is Colonel Goodson, the new Commanding Office. The Sergeant Major stood, extended his hand and said, "Good to see you again, Colonel." I responded, "Hello Walt, how are you?" Jolly looked at me, raised an eyebrow, walked out, and closed the door.

I sat down with the Sergeant Major. We had the obligatory cup of coffee and talked about mutual acquaintances. Walt's stress was palpable. Finally, I said, "Walt, what's the h-ll's wrong?" He turned his chair, looked out the window and said, "George, you're going to wish you were back in Nam before you leave here. I've been in the Marine Corps since 1939. I was in the Pacific 36 months, Korea for 14 months, and Vietnam for 12 months... Now I come here to bury these kids. I'm putting my letter in. I can't take it anymore." I said, "OK Walt. If that's what you want, I'll endorse your request for retirement and do what I can to push it through Headquarters Marine Corps."

Sergeant Major Walt Xxxxx retired 12 weeks later. He had been a good Marine for 28 years, but he had seen too much death and too much suffering. He was used up.

Over the next 16 months, I made 28 death notifications, conducted 28 military funerals, and made 30 notifications to the families of Marines that were severely wounded or missing in action. Most of the details of those casualty notifications have now, thankfully, faded from memory. Four, however, remain.

MY FIRST NOTIFICATION

My third or fourth day in Norfolk, I was notified of the death of a 19 year old Marine. This notification came by telephone from Headquarters Marine Corps. The information detailed:

*Name, rank, and serial number.

*Name, address, and phone number of next of kin.

*Date of and limited details about the Marine's death.

*Approximate date the body would arrive at the Norfolk Naval Air Station.

*A strong recommendation on whether the casket should be opened or closed.

The boy's family lived over the border in North Carolina, about 60 miles away... I drove there in a Marine Corps staff car. Crossing the state line into North Carolina, I stopped at a small country store / service station / Post Office. I went in to ask directions.

Three people were in the store. A man and woman approached the small Post Office window. The man held a package. The Storeowner walked up and addressed them by name, "Hello John. Good morning Mrs. Cooper."

I was stunned. My casualty's next-of-kin's name was John Cooper!

I hesitated, then stepped forward and said, "I beg your pardon. Are you Mr. and Mrs. John Cooper of (address.)

The father looked at me-I was in uniform - and then, shaking, bent at the waist, he vomited. His wife looked horrified at him and then at me. Understanding came into her eyes and she collapsed in slow motion. I think I caught her before she hit the floor.

The owner took a bottle of whiskey out of a drawer and handed it to Mr. Cooper who drank. I answered their questions for a few minutes. Then I drove them home in my staff car. The storeowner locked the store and followed in their truck. We stayed an hour or so until the family began arriving.

I returned the storeowner to his business. He thanked me and said, "Mister, I wouldn't have your job for a million dollars." I shook his hand and said; "Neither would I."

I vaguely remember the drive back to Norfolk. Violating about five Marine Corps regulations, I drove the staff car straight to my house. I sat with my family while they ate dinner, went into the den, closed the door, and sat there all night, alone.

My Marines steered clear of me for days. I had made my first death notification.

THE FUNERALS

Weeks passed with more notifications and more funerals. I borrowed Marines from the local Marine Corps Reserve and taught them to conduct a military funeral: how to carry a casket, how to fire the volleys and how to fold the flag.

When I presented the flag to the mother, wife, or father, I always said, "All Marines share in your grief." I had been instructed to say, "On behalf of a grateful nation...." I didn't think the nation was grateful, so I didn't say that.

Sometimes, my emotions got the best of me and I couldn't speak. When that happened, I just handed them the flag and touched a shoulder. They would look at me and nod. Once a mother said to me, "I'm so sorry you have this terrible job." My eyes filled with tears and I leaned over and kissed her.

ANOTHER NOTIFICATION

Six weeks after my first notification, I had another. This was a young PFC. I drove to his mother's house. As always, I was in uniform and driving a Marine Corps staff car. I parked in front of the house, took a deep breath, and walked towards the house. Suddenly the door flew open, a middle-aged woman rushed out. She looked at me and ran across the yard, screaming "NO! NO! NO! NO!"

I hesitated. Neighbors came out. I ran to her, grabbed her, and whispered stupid things to reassure her. She collapsed. I picked her up and carried her into the house. Eight or nine neighbors followed. Ten or fifteen later, the father came in followed by ambulance personnel. I have no recollection of leaving.

The funeral took place about two weeks later. We went through the drill. The mother never looked at me. The father looked at me once and shook his head sadly.

ANOTHER NOTIFICATION

One morning, as I walked in the office, the phone was ringing. Sergeant Jolly held the phone up and said, "You've got another one, Colonel." I nodded, walked into my office, picked up the phone, took notes, thanked the officer making the call, I have no idea why, and hung up. Jolly, who had listened, came in with a special Telephone Directory that translates telephone numbers into the person's address and place of employment.

The father of this casualty was a Longshoreman. He lived a mile from my office. I called the Longshoreman's Union Office and asked for the Business Manager. He answered the phone, I told him who I was, and asked for the father's schedule.

The Business Manager asked, "Is it his son?" I said nothing. After a moment, he said, in a low voice, "Tom is at home today." I said, "Don't call him. I'll take care of that." The Business Manager said, "Aye, Aye Sir," and then explained, "Tom and I were Marines in WWII."

I got in my staff car and drove to the house. I was in uniform. I knocked and a woman in her early forties answered the door. I saw instantly that she was clueless. I asked, "Is Mr. Smith home?" She smiled pleasantly and responded, "Yes, but he's eating breakfast now. Can you come back later?" I said, "I'm sorry. It's important. I need to see him now."

She nodded, stepped back into the beach house and said, "Tom, it's for you."

A moment later, a ruddy man in his late forties, appeared at the door. He looked at me, turned absolutely pale, steadied himself, and said, "Jesus Christ man, he's only been there three weeks!"

Months passed. More notifications and more funerals. Then one day while I was running, Sergeant Jolly stepped outside the building and gave a loud whistle, two fingers in his mouth... I never could do that… and held an imaginary phone to his ear.

Another call from Headquarters Marine Corps. I took notes, said, "Got it." and hung up. I had stopped saying "Thank You" long ago.

Jolly, "Where?"

Me, "Eastern Shore of Maryland. The father is a retired Chief Petty Officer. His brother will accompany the body back from Vietnam..."

Jolly shook his head slowly, straightened, and then said, "This time of day, it'll take three hours to get there and back. I'll call the Naval Air Station and borrow a helicopter. And I'll have Captain Tolliver get one of his men to meet you and drive you to the Chief's home."

He did, and 40 minutes later, I was knocking on the father's door. He opened the door, looked at me, then looked at the Marine standing at parade rest beside the car, and asked, "Which one of my boys was it, Colonel?"

I stayed a couple of hours, gave him all the information, my office and home phone number and told him to call me, anytime.

He called me that evening about 2300 (11:00PM). "I've gone through my boy's papers and found his will. He asked to be buried at sea. Can you make that happen?" I said, "Yes I can, Chief. I can and I will."

My wife who had been listening said, "Can you do that?" I told her, "I have no idea. But I'm going to break my ass trying."

I called Lieutenant General Alpha Bowser, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, at home about 2330, explained the situation, and asked, "General, can you get me a quick appointment with the Admiral at Atlantic Fleet Headquarters?" General Bowser said," George, you be there tomorrow at 0900. He will see you.

I was and the Admiral did. He said coldly, "How can the Navy help the Marine Corps, Colonel." I told him the story. He turned to his Chief of Staff and said, "Which is the sharpest destroyer in port?" The Chief of Staff responded with a name.

The Admiral called the ship, "Captain, you're going to do a burial at sea. You'll report to a Marine Lieutenant Colonel Goodson until this mission is completed..."

He hung up, looked at me, and said, "The next time you need a ship, Colonel, call me. You don't have to sic Al Bowser on my ass." I responded, "Aye Aye, Sir" and got the h-ll out of his office.

I went to the ship and met with the Captain, Executive Officer, and the Senior Chief. Sergeant Jolly and I trained the ship's crew for four days. Then Jolly raised a question none of us had thought of. He said, "These government caskets are air tight. How do we keep it from floating?"

All the high priced help including me sat there looking dumb. Then the Senior Chief stood and said, "Come on Jolly. I know a bar where the retired guys from World War II hang out."

They returned a couple of hours later, slightly the worst for wear, and said, "It's simple; we cut four 12" holes in the outer shell of the casket on each side and insert 300 lbs of lead in the foot end of the casket. We can handle that, no sweat."

The day arrived. The ship and the sailors looked razor sharp. General Bowser, the Admiral, a US Senator, and a Navy Band were on board. The sealed casket was brought aboard and taken below for modification. The ship got underway to the 12-fathom depth.

The sun was hot. The ocean flat. The casket was brought aft and placed on a catafalque. The Chaplin spoke. The volleys were fired. The flag was removed, folded, and I gave it to the father. The band played "Eternal Father Strong to Save." The casket was raised slightly at the head and it slid into the sea.

The heavy casket plunged straight down about six feet. The incoming water collided with the air pockets in the outer shell. The casket stopped abruptly, rose straight out of the water about three feet, stopped, and slowly slipped back into the sea. The air bubbles rising from the sinking casket sparkled in the in the sunlight as the casket disappeared from sight forever....

The next morning I called a personal friend, Lieutenant General Oscar Peatross, at Headquarters Marine Corps and said, "General, get me out of here. I can't take this anymore." I was transferred two weeks later.

I was a good Marine but, after 17 years, I had seen too much death and too much suffering. I was used up.

Vacating the house, my family and I drove to the office in a two-car convoy. I said my goodbyes. Sergeant Jolly walked out with me. He waved at my family, looked at me with tears in his eyes, came to attention, saluted, and said, "Well Done, Colonel. Well Done."

I felt as if I had received the Medal of Honor!

A veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America' for an amount of ‘up to and including their life.'

That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.

Thank God For Small Favors and for people who care.

If you can't stand behind our troops,

try standing in front of them!

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Buckles, last WWI doughboy, dies at 110 in W.Va.

post-300-0-82501700-1298936871_thumb.jpgMORGANTOWN, W.Va. – He didn't seek the spotlight, but when Frank Buckles outlived every other American who'd served in World War I, he became what his biographer called "the humble patriot" and final torchbearer for the memory of that fading conflict.

Buckles enlisted in World War I at 16 after lying about his age. He died Sunday on his farm in Charles Town, nearly a month after his 110th birthday. He had devoted the last years of his life to campaigning for greater recognition for his former comrades, prodding politicians to support a national memorial in Washington and working with friend and family spokesman David DeJonge on a biography.

"We were always asking ourselves: How can we represent this story to the world?" DeJonge said Monday. "How can we make sure World War I isn't forgotten."

Buckles asked his daughter, Susannah Flanagan, about progress toward a national memorial every week, sometimes daily.

"He was sad it's not completed," DeJonge said. "It's a simple straightforward thing to do, to honor Americans."

When asked in February 2008 how it felt to be the last survivor, Buckles said simply, "I realized that somebody had to be, and it was me."

Only two known veterans remain, according to the Order of the First World War, a Florida group whose members are descendants of WWI veterans and include Buckles' daughter. The survivors are Florence Green in Britain and Claude Choules in Australia, said Robert Carroon, the group's senior vice commander. Choules, who served in Britain's Royal Navy, was born in that country but now lives in Australia.

Green turned 110 on Feb. 19, and Choules turns 110 in March, he said.

Born in Missouri in 1901 and raised in Oklahoma, Buckles visited a string of military recruiters after the United States in April 1917 entered what was called "the war to end all wars." He was repeatedly rejected before convincing an Army captain he was 18.post-300-0-11756100-1298937048_thumb.jpg

More than 4.7 million people joined the U.S. military from 1917-18. By 2007, only three survived. Buckles went to Washington that year to serve as grand marshal of the national Memorial Day parade.

Unlike Buckles, the other two survivors were still in basic training in the United States when the war ended, and they did not make it overseas. When they died in late 2007 and 2008, Buckles became the last so-called doughboy — and a soft-spoken celebrity.

He got fan mail almost every day, DeJonge said, and had enough birthday cards to fill several bushel baskets.

DeJonge had visited Buckles late last week and was driving back to Michigan with about 5,000 letters to organize and answer when he got the call telling him his friend had died.

"The letters are so heartfelt," he said. "Each night, Susannah would go in and sit at Papa's bedside and read them to Frank. That kept him going."

Buckles had been battling colds and other minor ailments this winter, but he was not ill at the time of his death.

The day before he died was warm, DeJonge said, and he spent three hours sitting in the sunshine on the porch of his farmhouse, talking with his daughter.

She worked diligently to keep Buckles in his own home, even though it exhausted his life savings. DeJonge said home health nurses and other medical care cost about $120,000 a year.

Details for services and arrangements will be announced later this week, but the family is planning a burial in Arlington National Cemetery. In 2008, friends persuaded the federal government to make an exception to its rules for who can be interred there.

Buckles had already been eligible to have his cremated remains housed at the cemetery. Burial, however, normally requires meeting several criteria, including earning one of five medals, such as a Purple Heart.

Buckles never saw combat but once joked, "Didn't I make every effort?"

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and the rest of West Virginia's congressional delegation were also working Monday on a plan to allow Buckles to lie in repose in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.

According to the Architect of the Capitol's website, the last person to do so was President Gerald Ford.

The honor is reserved mostly for elected and military officials, but others have included civil rights activist Rosa Parks and unknown soldiers from both World Wars and the Korean War.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller called Buckles "a wonderfully plainspoken man and an icon for the World War I generation" and said he will continue fighting for the memorial Buckles wanted.

"He lived a long and rich life as a true American patriot," said Sen. Joe Manchin, "and I hope that his family's loss is lightened with the knowledge that he was loved and will be missed by so many."

The family asked that donations be made to the National World War One Legacy Project. The project is managed by the nonprofit Survivor Quest and will educate students about Buckles and WWI through a documentary and traveling educational exhibition.

"We have lost a living link to an important era in our nation's history," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. "But we have also lost a man of quiet dignity, who dedicated his final years to ensuring the sacrifices of his fellow 'Doughboys' are appropriately commemorated."

In spring 2007, Buckles told The Associated Press of the trouble he went through to get into the military.

"I went to the state fair up in Wichita, Kansas, and while there, went to the recruiting station for the Marine Corps," he said. "The nice Marine sergeant said I was too young when I gave my age as 18, said I had to be 21."

Buckles returned a week later.

"I went back to the recruiting sergeant, and this time I was 21," he said with a grin. "I passed the inspection ... but he told me I just wasn't heavy enough."

Then he tried the Navy, whose recruiter told Buckles he was flat-footed.

Buckles wouldn't quit. In Oklahoma City, an Army captain demanded a birth certificate.

"I told him birth certificates were not made in Missouri when I was born, that the record was in a family Bible. I said, 'You don't want me to bring the family Bible down, do you?'" Buckles said with a laugh. "He said, 'OK, we'll take you.'"

Buckles served in England and France, working mainly as a driver and a warehouse clerk. An eager student of culture and language, he used his off-duty hours to learn German, visit cathedrals, museums and tombs, and bicycle in the French countryside.

After Armistice Day, Buckles helped return prisoners of war to Germany. He returned to the United States in January 1920.

After the war, he returned to Oklahoma, then moved to Canada, where he worked a series of jobs before heading for New York City. There, he landed jobs in banking and advertising.

But it was the shipping industry that suited him best, and he worked around the world for the White Star Line Steamship Co. and W.R. Grace & Co.

In 1941, while on business in the Philippines, Buckles was captured by the Japanese. He spent more than three years in prison camps.

"I was never actually looking for adventure," he once said. "It just came to me."

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