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AMERICAN WARRIORS-PAST AND PRESENT


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During the 3-1/2 years of World War II that started with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 and ended with the surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945, "We the People of the U.S.A

World War II Purple Heart recipient Edward Murphy marked his 100th birthday Saturday in Georgia.   A World War II Purple Heart recipient who turned 100 says that age is only a number. “

A NEW CHRISTMAS POEM    

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Don,

I just copied and pasted your link, and after watching the video I was so enthralled that I forgot that the link wasn't a click-able/live link or I would have done the same as Steve, man that was some ride, I can't even image what it would be like to actually do it!!!

I love watching Top Gear, they are now going to be doing an American version that will be airing soon, Nov, 21, 10/9c.

http://www.history.com/shows/top-gear?paidlink=1&vid=HIS_SEM_Search&keywords=top%2Bgear&utm_source=tune_msn_topgear&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=top%20gear&utm_term=top%20gear

Top Gear tried to do an American version in 2008 but it was canned in 2009 after never airing, so it would be interesting to see how latest attempt will do.

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What better way to celebrate Veterans Day tomorrow than a word from General Patton:post-300-079002200 1289409988_thumb.jpg

This is how General George S. Patton would sum things up....and then catch holy hell from Ike.

He sure had a unique way of expressing his thoughts.

ATTENTION!

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To ALL those whining, panty-waisted, pathetic Citizens, it's time for a little refresher course on exactly why we Americans occasionally have to fight wars to keep this nation great.

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See if you can tear yourself away from your"reality" TV and Starbucks for a minute, pull your head out of your ass -- and LISTEN UP!!

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Abu Ghraib is not "torture" or an "atrocity."

Got that ?

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THIS IS an atrocity!

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So Was This!!!

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WHICH PART DON'T YOU GET?

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Islam Extemists are peaceful people?

My Ass!

Millions of these warped misled sons-of-bitches are plotting, as we speak, to destroy our country and our way of life any way they can.

Some of them are here among us now.

They don't want to convert you and don't want to rule you. They believe you are a vile infestation of Allah's paradise. They don't give a crap how "progressive" you are, how peace-loving you are, or how much you sympathize with their cause.

They want your ass dead, and they think it is God's will for them to do it.

Some think if we give them a hug or listen to them, then they'll like us, and if you agree -

Then you are a pathetic dumb ass!

If they manage to get their hands on a nuke, chemical agents, or even some anthrax -- you will wish to God we had hunted them down and killed THEM while we had the chance.

How many more Americans must be beheaded?

You've fallen asleep AGAIN - get your head out of your ass!

You may never get another chance!

NOW GET OFF YOUR SORRY ASS

and pass this on to any and every person you give a-dang about - if you ever gave a dang about anything!

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War Stories Emerge Six Decades Later

post-300-039627000 1289764173_thumb.jpg Bob Uhl remembers when he was old enough to enlist in the armed services when World War II broke out. That was six decades ago.

"The old people start the wars and the younger ones have to fight them,” Uhl said. “We were just a bunch of kids fighting in Europe. And likewise, the Germans were the same way.”

But now Uhl is almost 90 years old and he wants younger generations to see what his comrades did to preserve freedom.

"We honor the veterans but the ones we really need to honor are the ones who didn’t make it home," he said.

As for the ones who are still alive, Uhl is urging them to start talking before all the memories are gone forever.

“When we’re gone, it’s gone. A lot of people are going to want to know about (our stories),” he said. “Old timers like me are getting too old, we’re dying off.”

More than 400,000 servicemen and women were killed during the war.

"That’s a lot of folks. One of those might have been able to cure cancer or one of those might have been able to do fabulous things that will never happen because (they were killed) in the war,” Uhl said.

And since so many stories have yet to be told, one Atlanta man is preserving as many memories as he can. Tom Beaty launched Witness to War in 2002. It is an online library that archives hundreds of short video interviews with veterans.

“They can hear the veterans themselves, what it was like to be there, why it was so cold," Beaty said. “How frightening it was to hear the rumble of the German tanks."

Beaty has completed more than 400 interviews and his goal is to finish 1,000 before the end of the year.

“A WWII veteran is dying every 90 seconds and anecdotally, it feels like it is really accelerating. By 2014, according to the Veterans Association there will only be about a million WWII vets left,” Beaty said.

He says the site has caught on and teachers are using it along with traditional text books. He is also starting to capture veteran's stories from other wars and conflicts such as the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf Wars, and perhaps the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It’s critically important that younger folks really understand the price that was paid to get all the things that we have today,” he said.

Which is why Beaty has veterans like Uhl coming forward, so no secrets are left untold. Uhl said, it's the least he can do.

"You almost feel guilty that you're here," Uhl said. "I have made it and I have lived a productive life. I finished school went on and I had a child, married... and now enjoying grandchildren and a retired life but these people didn’t have an opportunity. In my own heart, the good Lord has a way of compensating these fellas and what they missed."

Here is the website: http://www.witnesstowar.org/

Read more: http://liveshots.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/11/14/war-stories-emerge-six-decades-later/#ixzz15HvTkVck

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NICE OLD GUY NEXT TO A P-38. ACTUALLY THERE'S QUITE A BIT MORE TO THE STORY THAN

THAT. THIS IS COLONEL BILL HARRIS. NOW 94 YEARS OLD. HE WAS IN A WHEEL CHAIR AND

HAS GREAT DIFFICULTY WALKING THE FEW STEPS TO POSE AT THE PLANE. HE'S A WW II ACE

WITH FIFTEEN AERIAL KILLS OF JAP AIRCRAFT AND FLEW ON THE MISSION THAT SHOT DOWN AND

KILLED JAPANESE ADMIRAL YAMAMOTO. THIS PLANE IS PAINTED EXACTLY LIKE THE ONE HE FLEW

IN THE PACIFIC.

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Wounded war vet reunites with Vt. GI who saved him

The last time they were together, it was in the wreckage of a roadside bombing in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Edward Matayka, a 33-year-old Vermont National Guard medic, had been mortally wounded. Specialist David Schwerer was among those who gave him first aid, applying tourniquets that saved his life but couldn't save his legs.

On Saturday, Matayka got to say thank you, welcoming Schwerer home from a yearlong deployment in an emotional reunion at a ceremony for returning troops.

"This was one of the first things he requested coming out of unconsciousness, to greet the man who saved his life once he found out who it was," said Laurie Ingalls, his mother-in-law. "He wanted to greet him so badly."

The July 2 blast about 20 miles from Bagram Air Base hit the last vehicle in a four-truck convoy, killing Specialist Ryan Grady, 25, who was behind the wheel, and maiming Matayka. Schwerer, who was in the lead vehicle, wasn't hurt.

Matayka, of Lee, N.H., lost both legs, suffered a spinal injury, fractures in his back and face, a broken jaw and a stroke that left him partially paralyzed on the left side.

He is being treated at McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Va., but was flown north for Saturday's reunion by Air Compassion for Veterans, a Virginia Beach, Va., group that provides free medically-related flights for servicemembers.

Now confined to a wheelchair, the camouflage-clad veteran was among about 300 people who crowded into an aviation hangar to welcome home Schwerer and 130 other soldiers who flew in from Camp Atterbury, Ind., capping their Afghanistan service.

Before he had greeted his own mother, Schwerer went straight to Matayka when he walked single-file into the hangar with the other soldiers, giving him a big hug.

"It feels great," said Schwerer, 23, of White River Junction. "I'm so glad to see him. I'm so glad to see he is the way he is. He looks normal."

Matayka's wife, Karen, a National Guard sergeant who was also serving as a medic on the same deployment, stood by his side at every turn Saturday.

During the ceremony, she held up his lifeless left hand so he could clap it with his right hand as the troops fell out of their formation and marched into a neighboring section of the hangar.

Tears streamed down her face as Matayka hugged Schwerer, his battlefield buddies and other well-wishers. Among them: Grady's father, Sgt. 1st Class James Grady, who broke down as he hugged Karen Matayka and then shook hands with Matayka.

"I would've liked Ryan to come home, but we'll manage," Grady said in an interview. "We'll get through it."

Matayka, who called his wounds "a price I signed up for," said he remains focused on his recovery. Once he's released from the Virginia hospital, he'll move to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., for amputee rehabilitation and the fitting of prosthetic limbs.

As for his immediate future: "Hopefully, new legs. I keep putting 'em on my Christmas list. Let's see what's under the tree."

"I think he's a hero," said his wife. "He's happy to have paid that price and he wants to stay in the military if at all possible."

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A true hero of heros...

A handshake and the words "The boy with the fast finish": That's how Nazi Chancellor Adolf Hitler, presiding over the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, congratulated Louie Zamperini of Torrance, Calif., when the 19-year-old track star from USC stunned the Fuhrer by making up 50 yards in the final lap of the Games' 5,000-meter event

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http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/12/24/olympian-runner-hero-wwii-honored-anew/?test=faces

For most Americans, competing in the Olympics and shaking Adolf Hitler's hand might mark the most historic events of their lives. But for Zamperini -- still mentally sharp and physically spry at 93, and living unassisted at his home in the Hollywood Hills -- those thrilling moments would prove mere precursors to a set of experiences that would test the very limits of humanity, and mark him for life as a survivor in a class by himself.

Though told before, Zamperini's story is receiving fresh attention with the recent publication of the New York Times and Amazon.com bestseller "Unbroken," by Laura Hillenbrand, who also wrote "Seabiscuit." Tracking down previously untapped veterans and unpublished documents, Hillenbrand has marshaled mountains of old and new evidence to present Zamperini's incredible life story with fresh and harrowing detail. But his story is not for the squeamish.

* * *

Even before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, plunging the United States into World War II, Zamperini had enlisted in the Army Air Corps (the forerunner to the modern Air Force). He was trained to serve as a bombardier aboard the B-24 bomber plane, a fate he and his comrades already dreaded. "We were praying for a B-17, not a B-24," Zamperini told Fox News in a recent interview at his home. "And we waited and waited. Pretty soon, the planes started coming in, and they were all B-24s. Our hearts dropped. There had been so many of them that were just crashing in training. They had a gas leak. You could always smell gasoline."

Among the few pleasures afforded military flight crews in World War II was the decision of what to nickname their plane and how to decorate it with a painting, near the aircraft's nose, that would illustrate that name. These creative names and pictures ranged from the noble to the naughty, with images of nude 1940s-era bathing beauties, members of the Seven Dwarfs, and other cartoon characters of the period. Presciently, Zamperini's plane, helmed by pilot Russell Allen Phillips of Indiana, was tagged "Superman," and featured a rendering of DC Comics' Man of Steel clutching a machine gun.

Based at Hawaii's Hickam Field, Zamperini participated in a series of dangerous campaigns. It was Louie who dropped the bombs that devastated Wake Island ("That was the longest raid in the history of the war," he noted proudly, "round trip from Midway to Wake and back"), and also a phosphate plant on Nauru Island.

The plant was critical to the Japanese supply of fertilizer and fuel. So spectacular was the damage from this mission that photographs of it ran in the July 5, 1943 edition of LIFE magazine.

"We were told to flatten it," Zamperini said of the plant. Flying at 8,000 feet, the "Superman" crew became the first in the war to dive-bomb a four-engine bomber. "I bombed the runway and the bombers and the factory, and then I had one alternate bomb. And I dropped it on a shack which I thought was probably the radio shack and it wasn't -- it was the fuel supply. And a cloud of smoke shot in the air as high as we were: 8,000 feet"

Suddenly, though, "Superman" was being pursued by nine Japanese fighter planes. The ensuing duel over the skies of the South Pacific was intense and deadly.

"They came in so close to us they couldn't miss us, and they were so close that we couldn't miss them," Zamperini recalled. The American tailgunners fired furiously at the approaching enemy planes -- and suffered their own casualties. "We took on 600 bullet holes, five cannon holes, right tail shot off, left tire flattened ... Blood all over the plane ... We had seven men seriously injured, got 'em back alive; one died." A photograph from the period shows Zamperini with a sickened look on his face, his hand pawing through a hole in the side of the plane as big as a basketball.

* * *

Zamperini had narrowly escaped with his life. But shortly thereafter, in May 1943, he and his crew, along with some men with whom he had not previously flown, were ordered to undertake a search-and-rescue mission. With "Superman" still in need of extensive repair, the men were further ordered to fly a notoriously faulty B-24, nicknamed after another superhero of the era. Louie and Phillips, the quiet, steady "Superman" pilot who was a minister's son, had other ideas.

"The operations officer comes out in a jeep and says, 'Hold it, hold It! We just got a report that a B-25 has gone 200 miles north of Palmyra. Would you guys go look for him?' Well," Zamperini recalled, "that's really a command. 'We got two days off.' 'Well, yeah,' (the officer replied) but you're the only guys here.' We said, 'Well, we can't take Superman, because he's being serviced.' And they say, 'Well, we got the Green Hornet.' Well, that was a lemon plane. We used it for the cabbage run, flying between Hawaii and the Big Island to pick up lettuce and steaks and stuff! But it was a lemon, and it was actually scavenged for parts for other planes. But it always passed inspection."

It wasn't long -- only a few hundred miles -- before the number one engine on "The Green Hornet" started to fail, followed swiftly by the others. The plane started going down, and crashed violently into the South Pacific. Louie found himself underwater, pinned to the wreckage by a coil of wires.

"I find myself under the tripod of the machine gun mount wedged securely in. I couldn't move anything," he recalled. "This was a hopeless situation. I knew this was it. I'm dead. And so I started to sink with the plane. My ears popped. I knew I was down 20 feet, because I did a lot of free diving. Then as I sank deeper, I felt a tremendous pain in my forehead, so I figured I was down maybe seventy or eighty feet -- and then I lost consciousness.

"The next thing I knew I was conscious again -- freed and loosened, no wires, no nothing. And I began to reach around in the darkness with my hand, trying to find a way to get out of the plane. And my University of Southern California ring, which happened to be on this finger, which still has a white scar -- that caught onto the waist window in such a way I couldn't let go."

Cutting his finger to free himself, Louie inflated his life jacket and headed topside to find the area around him littered with wreckage from the plane. "I started taking in a little oil and brake fluid and gasoline and blood, and when I got to the surface I just threw it all up," he said. "Then I heard, 'Help, help!' I looked over and there was the pilot and tailgunner, hanging on to the gas tank."

The pilot was Phillips, a close friend of Zamperini's, and the tailgunner was a relative stranger, Sgt. Francis ("Mac") McNamara. Before he could connect with the two of them, however, Zamperini eyed their lone chance at survival: He managed to grab hold of the cord attached to a pair of flimsy, inflatable life rafts, just before they drifted out of reach across the ocean surface.

Though conscious and alert, Phillips was badly injured, having sustained a gaping, bleeding head wound. Zamperini used what he had on hand to dress Phillips's wound -- and the trio was officially adrift at sea. That Zamperini retained his presence of mind, despite the trauma of the crash, he would later credit to a Dr. Webster, who had taught a psychology course Louie had attended at USC. The mind is like a muscle, the professor had said, and it will atrophy if you don't use it. Louie took the words to heart as he settled in for what he knew what be a prolonged ordeal.

McNamara, however, panicked almost immediately. "The first half-hour," Zamperini said, "he got on his knees and started screaming, 'We're going to die! We're all going to die!' Just like a movie. I said, 'Mac, settle down. Nobody is going to die. They're out looking for us. We'll be picked up this afternoon or tomorrow.' And he kept screaming. So I tried a little psychology on him. I took a course at 'SC. And that didn't work. So I threatened him. I said, 'We're going to be picked up today or tomorrow, and I'm going to make a report to the commander, and you'll be in real trouble.' He kept screaming. And so I just turned my back on him and came back with the back of my hand and cracked him across his face, and knocked him back on his fanny. And he (was) completely content. Laid there quietly. And it was the best thing I could have done."

But McNamara panicked again the following morning, when -- while the other two men lay sleeping -- he wolfed down the small ration of chocolate that had been sown into the raft, the only food provisions they had. Starving, injured, sick, wasting away, the men would drift for some 2,000 miles across the Pacific.

Repeatedly, they were set upon by ravenous sharks, monstrous sea creatures that grew more sophisticated over time in the manner in which they circled and lunged at their prey. From above, a Japanese fighter plane took several circling runs in the sky, strafing the rafts and their occupants with bullet fire. Incredibly, despite the aircraft pumping 48 bullet holes into the rafts, none of the three men was shot. "A miracle!" Zamperini would later say. They struggled to re-inflate the vessels with a small pump and sewing kit included with their meager provisions.

They ate only sporadically, occasionally catching an albatross and fashioning its bones into a set of fake claws, which Louie fastened to his hand and used to clutch at the odd fish swimming just beneath the surface. "Then another week went by, another albatross landed on my head, and I grabbed him," Zamperini told Fox News. "And I'll tell you, that bird tasted like hot fudge sundae with nuts and whipped cream on it! We were laying back like the kings did, in the movies ... living high off the hog."

But salt from the ocean exacerbated their wounds, and the absence of food and potable water took its toll. The men's lips became so distended that they extended to their noses and chins. Over a month's time, each man lost half his body weight, thinning out to about 80 pounds.

At one point in the odyssey, they lost a raft, forcing all three men to share the remaining one. McNamara would redeem his early failings, saving the others' lives at one point by springing to life with an oar and beating back an attack in which two sharks actually took turns lunging at them from opposite sides of the raft.

But on the 33rd day, Mac, who had been ebbing in spirit and vitality, died. A few hours earlier, sensing the end was near, he spoke meekly to Zamperini. "Louie, do you think I'm going to die?" he asked. "Mac, I think you're going to die tonight," Louie recalled telling his comrade. "I believe in telling people the truth. ... He accepted it. And during the night I felt a jolt, and reached over and touched his pulse. And we didn't do anything -- just went back to sleep. And in the morning we got up, did a eulogy, and put him overboard and he just sank. Skin and bone."

* * *

A full two weeks after Mac's death, Louie and Phillips, who had calculated their location to be near the Gilbert Islands, were finally rescued by a Japanese military vessel. But their ordeal had only just begun. The first place they were sent was Kwajalein Island, which Zamperini would come to regard as the worst time of his life. Confined to small hut-like cell, he observed the names of nine U.S. Marines carved into the wall; when he asked what had become of him, he was told they had all been decapitated. "That's what they do to all prisoners who come here," matter-of-factly explained a Japanese guard who spoke English. "Execution Island" was how Kwajalein came to be known to American soldiers.

From the outset, the guards and even visiting Japanese submarine crews freely beat, punched, poked, kicked, burned with lit cigarettes, threw rocks at, and otherwise tortured Zamperini and Phillips. Sometimes a whole crew of eighty men would take turns inflicting bodily harm on the prisoners, a ritual that would go on for hours. A day's food ration, tossed into the cell like a rubber ball, would be a fistful of inedible rice. The cells were infested with mosquitoes and flies. "You could reach out with your hand and go like that," Louie recalled, grabbing at the air in his Hollywood home, "and see nothing but blood....I used to lay in this cell and (think) I'd rather be in the raft and die out there, where everything is clean and nice and no tormenting."

The chief difference between the ordeal at sea and the POW camp, of course, was that at sea, Louie and his comrades mostly had to confront only the cruelties of the sun and the monsoon-like rains, the limits of hunger and thirst, the temptations of dementia and the ever-circling sharks. In the hands of the Japanese, however, it was the Americans' dignity that was assaulted, and they were forced to confront the ugly fact that man's cruelty to his fellow man far exceeds anything seen amongst the animals of the jungle or the creatures of the sea.

Only fleetingly did the prisoners glimpse humanity amongst their captors. On one occasion at Kwajalein, when Zamperini had twice been jabbed by a guard with a stick that twice bloodied his face, a different guard -- one who had addressed Zamperini with "You Christian? Me Christian" -- got wind of what happened and took action into his own hands. The next time the brutal guard showed up, he was sporting bandages on his forehead and lip. "He actually beat him up for me," Zamperini marveled.

The cruelty took new forms. One day they were sent for and marched up to a set of doctors in lab coats joined by their interns. The prisoners were to be guinea pigs for medical experiments. The doctors filled their syringes with a weird green serum of unknown composition. "And they had stopwatches and they said, 'We're going to inject you; you must tell us exactly how you feel,'" Zamperini recalled. "So they started the watch after they injected us and I said, 'Well, I'm getting dizzy.' And they kept writing it down. And then I said, 'Now I feel itchy all over my body.' They wrote that down, and the time. And then I said, 'Now I'm going to pass out.' And then they stopped. Well, they did that three times. I went back to my cell. I couldn't sleep that night because of red pimples all over my body. Itchy....Three times (in total), we were injected."

Back home, Louie had been declared missing in action, and later, after the set period of time had elapsed, killed in action. His parents and siblings in Torrance, however, never wavered in believing their beloved Olympian was still alive. In fact, his execution date at Kwajalein was set. "And we know we're going to be executed," Zamperini remembered. As if on cue, a new Japanese officer showed up, informed his colleagues of Zamperini's Olympic past, and suggested that instead of being executed, he and Phillips be transferred to another camp, from which they could be prevailed upon to make radio broadcasts, feeding propaganda to the mainland United States. "So that saved our lives," Louie said.

Now commenced a series of visits to different hellholes manned by guards trained from birth to believe that to be captured in war was a singular disgrace, and that those so disgraced were sub-human, worthy only of continual degradation and abuse. By September 1944, Zamperini found himself at the Omori POW camp off Tokyo Bay. Here he would encounter one of the most sadistic of all the Japanese camp personnel later charged as war criminals: Mutsuhiro Watanabe, a.k.a. "The Bird."

Similar in age to Louie, the Bird was among the less distinguished members of an affluent Japanese family. The Japanese accountant at the camp, tracked down by Hillenbrand decades later, told her Watanabe's extreme sadism toward the prisoners under his command provided him with a form of sexual gratification. And according to Unbroken, the Bird fixed upon Zamperini with singular fury, regarding him as "Prisoner Number One" and subjecting him to viciousness unmatched even by his brutal treatment of the other captives.

"I had nightmares on this Bird guy," Zamperini told Fox News. "If I looked away from his eyes, he punched me out for looking away. If I stared at his eyes, he punched me for staring at his eyes. ... Every day he did something to me ... and it was a brutal life. ... He hit me over the head with a big, probably two-pound steel buckle, cracked my skull and I'm down on the ground bleeding. And he hands me a piece of toilet paper to wipe the blood. And he says, 'Awww,' like 'I'm sorry.' And I thought, 'Well, he can't be so bad after all.' So I wiped the blood off, I stood up, I wiped it and I looked at it, and he hit me again."

This was just one of countless similar incidents. The mind reels at the thought of the human body absorbing the punishment doled out to Zamperini. On another occasion, the Bird forced the other inmates to line up and take turns punching Zamperini, and others, in the face -- as hard as they could. Attempts to soften the blows were instantly detected by the Bird and met with the demand that the prisoners put their full weight behind their punches. They would apologize as they filed past, while Louie muttered to just get it over with. Hillenbrand wrote:

For the first few punches, Louie stayed on his feet. But his legs soon began to waver, and he collapsed. He pulled himself upright, but fell again with the next punch, and then the next. Eventually, he blacked out. When he came to, the Bird forced the men to resume punching him, screaming, "Next! Next! Next!... "

The sun sank. The beating went on for some two hours, the Bird watching with fierce and erotic pleasure. When every enlisted man had done his punching, the Bird ordered the guards to club each (prisoner) twice in the head with a kendo stick.

The victims had to be carried to the barracks. Louie's face was so swollen that for several days he could barely open his mouth. By one estimate, each man had been punched in the face 220 times.

"I'd rather do slave labor than be under him," Zamperini said he thought at the time. "Because the guy beat me almost every day. And when they'd ask him why he beat me, he kept saying something about orders. So I think what they did (was) they tried to make my life so hard by daily beatings that when I was offered a chance to broadcast (propaganda), and live in a beautiful room and eat good food, that I would accept. But there was no way I could do it." Indeed, Zamperini did make one broadcast -- in which he was permitted to alert his family that he was still alive -- but he steadfastly refused subsequent Japanese demands that he make additional broadcasts that called for him to denigrate the United States.

Zamperini received a brief respite from the Bird when the commandant was transferred to another camp; but within months that respite ended, when Zamperini was himself transferred, to a site about 35 miles north of Nagano. He recalled: "Walked in over 10 feet of snow to a prison camp. And then we were told to stand at attention and face the guard shack. ... Pretty soon, the door opened, and out stepped Sgt. Watanabe, the Bird. I never thought my knees would buckle, but my knees buckled, and I almost fell down to the ground. I couldn't believe it. So my troubles were starting all over again. And then he threatened to kill me."

Through all the beatings, torture, disease, starvation, and humiliation -- including being forced to do push-ups atop a mound of human waste -- Zamperini survived. Pushed beyond all reason, he and fellow prisoners devised a plan to kill Watanabe -- a plot aborted only when the Bird failed to observe his usual routine.

Shortly after that, with American warplanes becoming a more frequent sight and both captors and captives alike reconciled to the imminent prospect of Allied victory, Watanabe skipped out. Though he would be named as a war criminal and become the object of a nationwide postwar manhunt, he eluded capture. Aside from an interview with CBS News in the 1990s, he lived quietly until his death in 2003.

* * *

Louie and the other POWs were rescued and repatriated. In his hometown of Torrance, Calif., he was seen as a figure risen from the dead. He became a national hero, publishing his memoir "Devil At My Heels" (later reissuing it in an updated version), and marrying a beautiful young socialite named Cynthia Applewhite. But his nightmares about Watanabe persisted, a lingering form of torture from the Bird. Louie grew combative and turned to drink, descending into unmistakable alcoholism. Cynthia readied herself for a divorce. "We were falling apart," Louie recalled.

Then, just as he was hitting a new low, Louie begrudgingly acceded to Cynthia's insistence that he attend a religious revival meeting being held in a tent in Los Angeles by a dynamic young Christian preacher. The date was October 1949; the speaker was the Reverend Dr. Billy Graham. At first, Louie remained resistant to Graham's fiery preaching style. But during his second session with Graham -- "For all those who have sinned, come show their glory of God!" he thundered -- Zamperini experienced an epiphany. He remembered a long-forgotten moment aboard the life raft, when he had looked to the heavens and vowed, if he survived that ordeal, to devote the rest of his life to serving God.

"I realized what a heel I was," he told Fox News. "Turned my back on God. ... I went to the prayer room and made a confession of my faith in Christ and just my whole life was revolutionized in a moment. ... And that was the turning point in my life, the final change."

* * *

In the six decades since then, Louie mentored troubled youth; carried the torch at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles; returned to Japan twice (once to forgive his guards, in the 1950s, and again, in 1998, to carry the torch at the Nagano Winter Games); wrote a letter of forgiveness to the Bird, imploring him to become a Christian (he never learned whether Watanabe received the letter); and continued to speak about his experiences and his faith across the country. He spent seven years working with Hillenbrand on "Unbroken," patiently fielding questions from her no fewer than 75 times.

"One day she called me on the phone," he told Fox News, "and said, 'Louie, I want to do your biography.' I said, 'Laura, I've milked it dry. I've done the research; there's nothin' left!' She said: 'But I must do it.' I said, 'Okay. I'll help you, but you're spinning your wheels.' Exact words. And then she started in and -- oh! I had no idea what this woman could do."

When a Fox News producer asked Zamperini if he considered himself a hero, he bristled, explaining that men who return home from war missing a limb -- or more -- are the real heroes. After seeing just these kinds of men during a visit to a Veterans Affairs hospital, Louie returned home and made a decisive gesture. "I took all my medals and I put 'em in a drawer, and shoved 'em away, and I haven't seen 'em since!"

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Veteran to Veteran

When a Veteran leaves the 'job' and retires to a better life, many are jealous, some are pleased, and others, who may have already retired, wonder if he knows what he is leaving behind, because we already know.

1. We know, for example, that after a lifetime of camaraderie that few experience, it will remain as a longing for those past times.

2. We know in the Military life there is a fellowship which lasts long after the uniforms are hung up in the back of the closet.

3. We know even if he throws them away, they will be on him with every step and breath that remains in his life. We also know how the very bearing of the man speaks of what he was and in his heart still is.

These are the burdens of the job. You will still look at people suspiciously, still see what others do not see or choose to ignore and always will look at the rest of the Military world with a respect for what they do; only grown in a lifetime of knowing.

Never think for one moment you are escaping from that life. You are only escaping the 'job' and merely being allowed to leave 'active' duty.

So what I wish for you is that whenever you ease into retirement, in your heart you never forget for one moment that you are still a member of the greatest fraternity the world has ever known.

NOW... Civilian Friends vs. Veteran Friends Comparisons:

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Get upset if you're too busy to talk to them for a week.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Are glad to see you after years, and will happily carry on the same conversation you were having the last time you met.

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CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Have never seen you cry.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Have cried with you.

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CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Keep your stuff so long they forget it's yours.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Borrow your stuff for a few days then give it back.

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CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Know a few things about you.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Could write a book with direct quotes from you.

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CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will leave you behind if that's what the crowd is doing.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Will stand by you no matter what the crowd does.

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CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Are for a while.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Are for life.

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CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Have shared a few experiences...

VETERAN FRIENDS: Have shared a lifetime of experiences no citizen could ever dream of...

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CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will take your drink away when they think you've had enough.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Will look at you stumbling all over the place and say, 'You better drink the rest of that before you spill it!' Then carry you home safely and put you to bed...

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CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will ignore this.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Will forward this.

----------------------------------------------------

A veteran - whether active duty, retired, served one hitch, or reserve is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The Government of the United States of America ' for an amount of 'up to and including my life'.

From one Veteran to another, it's an honor to be in your company. Thank you for your service to our country and defending the freedoms we enjoy.

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post-300-0-10828600-1296845830_thumb.jpg

In all fields of endeavor, across the United States, Latinos are working to uphold their place in American society. Fox News Latino is proud to present "Our American Dream" – a series of snapshots and profiles of Latino success stories.

At 38 years old, Ann Marie Loera took a chance on happiness, and made the decision that would change her life forever.

The divorced mother of four with four grandchildren, who was raised in a military family, decided to pursue her dream of joining the military.

“My family was shocked when I told them I wanted to serve,” Spc. Loera said. “It is part of the pride and tradition my family has for serving our country.”

Loera's family is fifth-generation Mexican-American and she is a third-generation service member. Her grandfather served in the Army, so did her father. Both her brothers and her twin sister serve in the Navy.

Two years ago, the 5th and 6th grade teacher and former probation officer, decided to leave the classroom and join the Army. She said it was worth the tradeoff for doing what she loves.

Leora’s hardest struggle is being away from her kids, ages 21 to 7. But she said her support for them is unshakeable.

She is based out of Fort Hood, Texas, but drives five hours every weekend to be with her family in Kingsville. She relies on her kids to take care of the home, especially her oldest daughter, who is engaged.

“My daughter stepping into my shoes and taking care of her siblings has meant more to me than can be imagined,” she said. “She has shown her loyalty to our family by holding down the home front while I am gone.”

Leora said she looks forward to her trips home so she can prepare her kids a home-cooked meal.

“It’s all about making fresh handmade tortillas and having a long conversation about everything at the dinner table.”

Loera’s experience shows there is no timetable for pursuing your dreams. In Leora’s eyes, no matter what age or circumstance, everyone deserves the chance to go for what makes them happy.

“People need to conquer that initial fear and just do it,” she says. “The risk is worth it, you just need to take that chance.”

Loera began her service as a training assistant in Baghdad, where she was responsible for assisting with scheduling and facilitating educational services for their Soldiers. She returned from Iraq in November.

“There were times that were difficult -- the constant (sound) of mortars,” Lorea said. “The way the people live is amazing. I don’t know how they do it, the struggles…a pound of ground meat is like $13. Surviving over there is difficult. “

Loera said the Army has changed her life. And she said she will continue to serve her family, and serve her country, as long as she is physically able.

“As long as the Army will have me, I will serve until I am 60,” she said. “They have been very good to me.”If you know someone who should be featured in the Our American Dream series email us at editorial@foxnewslatino.com.

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Johnno, and all - I entered Basic Training at Ft. Knox, KY, in the late summer of 1973. The Vietnam War was "winding down" for America, but it would be two-more years before that last helicopter lifted off a Saigon rooftop. When I got out of the Army in 1976, I was discharged at Ft. Jackson, SC. At the airport, the men's room wastebaskets were full of class A uniforms - medals and citations still on them!

I am actually crying right now thinking about this. I can't believe this is so hard to write.

You see, there were dozens of people there taunting us. Some even tried to spit on us, and a lot of guys just took off their uniforms. The M.P.s and local police did their best, but.. Anyway, that was 1976. Can you even imagine - seriously, what it was like for the men and women coming home from 1967 - 1972? We Americans are truly a disfunctional family. Great post Johnno - Terry

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That was a difficult Time for sure and there is not a single day I do not reflect back to Vietnam, and I would still do it all over again!. I feel terrible that our country deserted such great people that only wanted to be free from Communist oppression. My disdain for the protesters that treated me and my brothers so poorly has calmed over the years, but it hurts to know that some of those same people are now trying to bring this country down. Militarily we flogged the hell out of them, 58,000 of us died, but we made over a million of them assume room temp!

Johnno... that was a great find and thanks for posting it.

post-1252-0-03392800-1298052724_thumb.jp

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Florence, the last Great War veteran in Britain, turns 110

Norfolk woman is one of only three people still alive who served in 1914-18 conflictBy Tom Peck and Rob Hastings

The revels were not quite as wild as on Armistice Day. Still, there was plenty to celebrate yesterday when the world's last surviving female veteran of the First World War celebrated her 110th birthday.

Florence Green, from King's Lynn, Norfolk, was 17 years old when she joined the Women's Royal Air Force, in the late summer of 1918. Come the 11th day of the 11th month, she was working as a waitress at RAF Marham, when the pilots greeted news of the German surrender by clambering into their planes and bombing nearby RAF Narborough airfield with bags of flour. Narborough, not to be outdone, retaliated with their own daring raid, this time dropping bags of soot.

Yesterday the Air Force marked Mrs Green's birthday with the delivery of a rather more traditional nature: a cake. At 110, Mrs Green joins a highly exclusive club of "supercentenarians" – only around one in 1,000 of those with a letter from the Queen on the mantelpiece push on to this next landmark.

When asked what it's like to be 110, Mrs Green, who lives with her daughter May, quite the spring chicken at just 89, was rather philosophical: "It's not much different to being 109," she said, which seems plausible, though of course very few get to find out. Of the flying flour and soot war of Norfolk, 1918, she said simply: "It seems like such a long time ago now." To put it into context, she married her husband Walter, a railway porter, in 1920, and they had three children together. He died 50 years later, and that was 41 years ago.

Mrs Green was only identified as a surviving war veteran in 2008, when a researcher of gerontology found her service record, listed under her maiden name, Patterson, at the National Archives. Though she never saw the front line, her service in the WRAF qualifies her for veteran status. She is now one of just two surviving Britons from the conflict. The other, Claude Stanley Choules, served in the Royal Navy and now lives in Australia. His own 110th birthday is on 3 March.

The WRAF in which Mrs Green served was founded only months before she joined up. Its original intent was to provide female mechanics in order to free up men for service. But the organisation saw huge enrolment, with women volunteering for positions as drivers and mechanics and filling other wartime needs.

"Because the war was a manpower-intensive beast and lots of the young men ended up in France or Egypt fighting the dastardly Hun, as they were called at the time, there was a shortage of manpower, so the powers that be turned to woman power," said Sebastian Cox, head of the air historical branch of the RAF. "Women working was a much less common thing in 1918; they were only a very small percentage of the working population. But once you had conscription from 1916, unless the men were in a reserved occupation, such as down the mines or building aircraft or in the steel works, they were liable to be conscripted. So women took over the other jobs. The RAF needed women for tasks that would normally have been done by men, including waitressing in the officers' mess: before the war that would have been a bloke."

The demographic difficulties were not, for Mrs Green at least, without their upside: "I met dozens of pilots and would go on dates," she said in an interview in 2008. "I had the opportunity to go up in one of the planes but I was scared of flying. I would work every hour God sent. But I had dozens of friends on the base and we had a great deal of fun in our spare time. In many ways, I had the time of my life.'

History certainly records RAF Marham as a busy place to have served, as the battle in the skies grew in significance as the war progressed. FE2bs, RE7s, BE2s – wooden aircraft with engines less powerful than those on most modern motorbikes – set off for bombing raids throughout the day. Today it is the base for four squadrons of Tornadoes, ground-attack aircraft that have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The pilots of these supersonic jets have rather different concerns than their First World War counterparts.

"These First World War airplanes only had engines of 70 to 150 horsepower," Mr Cox said. "They were pretty flimsy affairs. They were subject to the vagaries of the weather much more than modern aircraft. You wouldn't take off if the wind was too strong, for example."

Other than Mrs Green and Mr Choules, only one veteran of that great conflict is still alive: an American ambulance driver named Frank Buckles, who turned 110 earlier this month. When inevitably he passes on, he will be eligible for burial in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC. There, each year, on Remembrance Sunday are read the lines of the English poet Laurence Binyon: "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old."

In the meantime, it is nice to remember the few like Mrs Green who have grown old, not with poppies and sombre ceremonies, but a slice of birthday cake.

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G'Day Terry and Steve

I felt your hurt in your posts and I truly felt sad, but you will not be forgotten, not you or anyone else that sacrificed themselves for their country. You're all heroes in my eyes

Cheers

Johnno

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