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Please take a few moments to watch this extraordinary video of one man, > > placing one flag every mile across the US for every one of our > > military who gave their lives serving this

SIX BOYS & 13 HANDS   

0930 here so it's 0530 CST and I haven't found any mention on the Internet of Pearl Harbor Day. Being PC doesn't erase it from my memory. Thanks to all who gave all and those that survived that terr

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Did you know this?

Near the bottom, as you scroll down, are the words. The first stanza frequently comes to mind at sundown...

If any of you have ever been to a military funeral in which taps was played; this brings out a new meaning of it.

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Here is something Every American should know. Until I read this, I didn't know, but I checked it out and it's true:

We in the United States have all heard the haunting song, 'Taps'. It's the song that gives us the lump in our throats and usually tears in our eyes.

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But, do you know the story behind the song? If not, I think you will be interested to find out about its humble beginnings.

Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Elli was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia . The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land.

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During the night, Captain Elli heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment.

When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.

The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted.

The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral.

The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate.

But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician.

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The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform.

This wish was granted.

The haunting melody, we now know as 'Taps' used at military funerals was born.

The words are:

Day is done.

Gone the sun.

From the lakes

From the hills.

From the sky.

All is well.

Safely rest.

God is nigh.

Fading light.

Dims the sight.

And a star.

Gems the sky.

Gleaming bright.

From afar.

Drawing nigh.

Falls the night.

Thanks and praise.

For our days.

Neath the sun

Neath the stars.

Neath the sky

As we go.

This we know.

God is nigh.

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I too have felt the chills while listening to 'Taps' but I have never seen all the words to the song until now. I didn't even know there was more than one verse. I also never knew the story behind the song and I didn't know if you had either so I thought I'd pass it along.

I now have an even deeper respect for the song than I did before.

Remember Those Lost and Harmed While Serving Their Country.

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Also Remember Those Who Have Served And Returned; and for those presently serving in the Armed Forces.

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Please send this on after a short prayer..

Make this a Prayer wheel for our soldiers... please don't break it.

I didn't!

"May the best of your past be the worst of your future!"

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Aloha Don,

Most informing post Don. This was something I always wondered about and thanks to you I can fill in the gap. Very touching! God Bless our soldiers and may they ALL come home soon.

aloha,

Stan aka Kaimi

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  • 2 weeks later...

Unsung hero's....some were KIA on site....

During the chaos of the 9/11 attacks, where almost 3,000 people died, nearly 100 loyal search and rescue dogs and their brave owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors.

Now, ten years on, just 12 of these heroic canines survive, and they have been commemorated in a touching series of portraits entitled 'Retrieved'.

The dogs worked tirelessly to search for anyone trapped alive in the rubble, along with countless emergency service workers and members of the public.

Traveling across nine states in the U.S. from Texas to Maryland, Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from 9/11.

Their stories have now been compiled in a book, called Retrieved, which is published on Friday, the tenth anniversary of the attacks.

Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs.

'I felt this was a turning point, especially for the dogs, who although are not forgotten, are not as prominent as the human stories involved,' explained Charlotte, who splits her time between New York and Amsterdam.

'They speak to us as a different species and animals are greatly important for our sense of empathy and to put things into perspective.'

Charles Mayfield



True heroes of 9/11 still with us today...

These are the dogs that worked the trade center that are still alive, but retired, they are heroes too, Their eyes say everything

you need to know about them. Just amazing creatures.

Moxie, 13, from Winthrop, Massachusetts, arrived with her handler, Mark Aliberti, at the World Trade Center on the evening of September 11 and searched the site for eight days

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Tara, 16, from Ipswich, Massachusetts, arrived at the World Trade Center on the night of the 11th. The dog and her handler Lee Prentiss were there for eight dayspost-300-0-75152600-1316439027_thumb.jpg

Kaiser, 12, pictured at home in Indianapolis, Indiana, was deployed to the World Trade Center on September 11 and searched tirelessly for people in the rubble[/colorpost-300-0-73260400-1316439080_thumb.jpg

Bretagne and his owner Denise Corliss from Cypress, Texas, arrived at the site in New York on September 17, remaining there for ten daysBretagne.jpg

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Guinness, 15, from Highland, California, started work at the site with Sheila McKee on the morning of September 13 and was deployed at the site for 11 days:Guiness.jpg

Merlyn and his handler Matt Claussen were deployed to Ground Zero on September 24, working the night shift for five daysMerlyn.jpg

Red, 11, from Annapolis, Maryland, went with Heather Roche to the Pentagon from September 16 until the 27 as part of the Bay Area Recovery CaninesRed.jpg

Abigail, above, was deployed on the evening of September 17, searching for 10 days while Tuff arrived in New York at 11:00 pm on the day of attack to start working early the next day

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Tuff.jpgHandler Julie Noyes and Hoke were deployed to the World Trade Center from their home in Denver on September 24 and searched for five days.Scout and another unknown dog lie among the rubble at Ground Zero, just two of nearly 100 search and rescue animals who helped to search for survivors

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Garimpo,

I just spent some time with lost comrades while reading through the posts here.

Thanks for this thread, the memories, and the honor.

Paul

USN Retired 1984-2008

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Zhari District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan – Many Americans have died in these vineyards.

Canadian blood has fertilized this ground, and we kill Taliban in these fields daily. We watch them through UAVs, such as Predators, as they hide their weapons among the rows, or attack us, and often they move undetected. When the Russians came through this area, the Afghans said they would hide under the vines until the enemy was very close, and shoot them point blank. After all, many of the local kids grew up right here, picking grapes and playing in the vineyards. They know every bump and divot. The rows are not made of wire or wood as in the United States or Europe. The rows are mounds of packed mud that can stop 30mm cannon fire. The enemy plants bombs along the rows and paths, and so our troops often cross perpendicular across the grape rows which sometimes are over chest high. Even without the heavy gear, the obstacle course is grueling and sometimes we take fire, or someone gets blown to pieces. The out-of-town enemies also don’t know where the bombs are hidden and so they often are killed. Every day we hear detonations that remain unexplained. Could have been anything. Normally we know the causes, but many will never be known to us. I’ve probably never written a full dispatch in this tent without hearing an explosion. Sometimes it’s a distant rumble and you only hear it. Other times the shockwave pops the tent walls and your body feels it. We usually hear many each day. Fighter jets are roaring overhead as this sentence is formed.

This morning, my tentmates taped a photo of Chazray Clark to our door. Chazray had just moved to our tent to be with his platoon. His buddies are steps away as these words are put down. They are sitting on their cots. We just had a rocket strike on base and heard an explosion. Sergeant Wooden asked me yesterday to read something he had written for Chazray. It was very good and written by a man who was also wounded recently, and who nearly died with Chazray. The men in this tent are moving forward, preparing for more combat but they have been noticeably saddened since the bomb took Chazray on Sunday. Some nearly died with him. One Soldier was so deaf that another Soldier had to grab him by the shoulder whenever he was needed. I was farther away and could hear as the rocks rained down around us in the dark. Chazray was terribly wounded and had been thrown and landed on his face. The platoon was staggered yet kept their bearing. There was no light, and the nightvision devices were useless in the thick dust. Sergeant Wooden called out the names of his men in the darkness. Near the detonation, nobody could see each other. Sergeant Wooden called the names, and he called, “Clark!” Chazray was facedown. One arm was gone and his legs were gone, and yet this man had the strength and presence to call out from the dust and darkness saying he was okay. Chazray could still hear. Chazray answered, “I’m okay,” and Sergeant Wooden said his voice sounded completely normal. Just normal Chazray. But everyone here knows that when someone calls out and says they are okay, the sound of their voice only means they are still alive. They found Chazray and put on tourniquets and unfolded a stretcher. I was not in the dust and could see brave men carrying him back over dangerous ground and Chazray said his arm tourniquet was too tight. He was in great pain. Through nightvision I could see an Afghan Soldier rush in to help carry Chazray.

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The widow of Army Specialist Chazray Clark talks to WJBK while holding a picture of her late husband.

Rest in Peace, Chazray Clark.

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45 years later Marvin Foster Phillips returned home a hero....thank you for your sacrifice Mr. Phillips...

The remains of Marvin Foster Phillips, a soldier from Tennessee who enlisted in the military in 1966 to fight in Vietnam, have finally been returned -- 45 years to the day after his helicopter was shot down, the Chattanooga Times Free Press and The Clarksville Leaf Chronicle report.

On September 26, 1966, Phillips, then 20-years-old, was on a mission off the coast of South Vietnam when his helicopter was shot down over the South China Sea, and he was declared missing in action.

According to WBKO, his remains were finally found three months ago. They were positively identified using DNA from his sister.

On Monday, schools were closed in Grundy County, Tenn., where he was buried with full military honors. Over 700 people attended the service, which included a 10-mile parade, WRBC-TV reports.

"We have that missing piece," Mary Ruth, his sister, told WRCB-TV. "After all these years we now have that piece back."

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ARLINGTON

CEMETERY

On

Jeopardy the other night, the final question was

"How many steps does the guard take during his

Walk across the tomb of the Unknowns" ----

All three contestants missed it! --

This

Is really an awesome sight to watch if you've

Never had the chance.

Very

Fascinating..

Tomb

Of the Unknown Soldier

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1.

How many steps does the guard take during his

Walk across the tomb of the Unknowns

And

Why?

21

Steps:

It

Alludes to the twenty-one gun salute which

Is

The

Highest honor given any military or foreign

Dignitary.

2.

How long does he hesitate after his about face

To begin his return

Walk and why?

21

Seconds for the same reason as answer number

1

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3.

Why are his gloves wet?

His

Gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his

Grip on the rifle.

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4.

Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all

The time

And, if

Not, why not?

He

Carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the

Tomb. After his march across the

Path,

He

Executes an about face and moves the rifle to

The outside shoulder.

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5.

How often are the guards changed?

Guards

Are changed every thirty minutes,

Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a

Year.

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6.

What are the physical traits of the guard

Limited to?

For

A person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he

Must be

Between 5' 10' and 6' 2' tall and

His waist size cannot exceed 30.

They

Must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb,

Live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot

Drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of

Their lives. They cannot swear in public for the

Rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the

Uniform or the tomb in any way.

After

Two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that

Is worn on

Their lapel signifying they

Served as guard of the tomb. There are only

400 presently worn. The guard must obey

These rules for the rest of their

Lives or

Give up the wreath pin.

The

Shoes are specially made with very thick soles

To keep the heat and cold from their feet.

There are metal heel plates that extend to

The top

Of the shoe in order to make the loud click as

They come to a halt.

There are no

Wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards

Dress for duty

In front of a full-length

Mirror.

The first six months of duty a

Guard cannot talk to anyone nor

Watch TV.

All off duty time is spent studying the 175

Notable people laid

To rest in

Arlington National Cemetery

. A guard must memorize who they are and where

They are interred. Among the notables are:

President Taft,

Joe Lewis {the boxer}

Medal of Honor winner Audie L. Murphy, the most

Decorated soldier of WWII and of Hollywood fame..

Every guard spends five hours a

Day getting his uniforms ready for

Guard

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Duty

ETERNAL

REST GRANT THEM O LORD AND LET PERPETUAL LIGHT

SHINE UPON THEM.

In

2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was

Approaching Washington ,

DC , our

US Senate/House took 2 days

Off with anticipation of the storm. On the ABC

Evening news, it was reported that because of

The dangers from the

Hurricane, the military

Members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb

Of

The Unknown Soldier were given permission

To suspend the assignment. They

Respectfully declined the offer, "No way,

Sir!" Soaked to the skin,

Marching in the

Pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that

Guarding

The Tomb was not just an assignment,

It was the highest honor that can be

Afforded

To a serviceperson. The tomb has been patrolled

Continuously,

24/7, since 1930.

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God

Bless and keep them.

I'd be

very proud if this email

reached as many as possible. We can be very

proud of our young men

and

women

in the service no matter where they serve.

IN

GOD WE TRUST

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  • 2 weeks later...

post-300-0-69529000-1318694611_thumb.jpgSanta Barbara

The first picture and the last picture are taken at the beach in Santa Barbara right next to the pier.

There is a veterans group that started putting a cross and candle for every death in Iraq and Afghanistan .

The amazing thing is that they only do it on the weekends. They put up this graveyard and take it down every weekend.

Guys sleep in the sand next to it and keep watch over it at night so nobody messes with it.

Every cross has the name, rank and D.O.B. and D.O.D. on it.

Very moving, very powerful??? so many young volunteers. So many 30 to 40 year olds as well.

Amazing !

Did you know that the ACLU has filed a suit to have all military cross-shaped headstones removed?

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and that they filed another suit to end prayer from the military completely. They're making great progress.

The Navy Chaplains can no longer mention Jesus' name in prayer thanks to the ACLU and our new administration.

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Keep forwarding this e-mail to others. I'm not breaking this one. I'm asking that you not break it either.

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If I get it a 1000 times, I'll forward it a 1000 times!

Please, let us pray...

Please send this on after a short prayer. Prayer for our soldiers... please don't break it!

Prayer:

'Heavenly Father, hold our troops in Your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us.

Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in this our time of need.

These things I humbly ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Amen.'

GOD BLESS YOU FOR PASSING IT ON!

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Missing WWII Airmen to Be Buried at Arlington With Full Military Honors

The Pentagon announced Friday that the remains of 10 airmen missing in action from World War II will be buried next week at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

The Department of Defense said in a news release that the crew was on a bombing mission over Berlin in April 1944 when their B-24J Liberator aircraft crashed near East Meitze, Germany. There were no survivors.

The crash site was located in 2003 and human remains were turned over to U.S. officials. Additional remains, as well as metal ID tags and a class ring, were gathered over the next few years by a joint POW/MIA Accounting Command team. Scientists used dental analysis and DNA to identify the remains.

Ten airmen will be buried as a group in a casket representing the entire crew Wednesday. They are: Forces 2nd Lt. Robert R. Bishop of Joliet, Ill.; 2nd Lt. Thomas Digman, Jr. of Pittsburgh; 2nd Lt. Donald W. Hess of Sioux City, Iowa; 2nd Lt. Arthur W. Luce, of Fort Bragg, Calif.; Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Karaso, of Philadelphia; Staff Sgt. Ralph L. McDonald of East Point, Ga.; Sgt. John P. Bonnassiolle of Oakland, Calif.; Sgt. James T. Blong of Port Washington, Wis.; Sgt. Michael A. Chiodo of Cleveland; and Sgt. John J. Harringer, Jr. of South Bend, Ind.

German forces had buried the remains of Digman, Blong and an unknown airman near Hannover, Germany. In 1946, remains of the three were exhumed and reburied in a U.S. military cemetery in.

According to the Pentagon, the U.S. was able to recover and identify about 79,000 Americans at the end of World War II. But more than 73,000 Americans remain unaccounted-for from the conflict.

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  • 2 weeks later...

To Those Who Served, We Salute You

Veteran's Day, Nov. 11, is a day to honor and remember the men and women who have worn the uniform of the U.S. Armed Forces. The

observance dates to 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, marking

the signing of the agreement that ended World War I. This armistice went into effect on the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the

eleventh month" in 1918. Throughout the years, Americans have celebrated Nov. 11 in a number of ways. On this Veteran's Day, the Navy

SEAL Foundation acknowledges all Veterans and their families for their sacrifices to make us safe. We are especially thankful for those that

came before us in the Naval Special Warfare community, beginning with the forces who served in World War II up to the present day. We

salute you and remember your contributions.

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Military - US

Late Soldier's Family Awarded Silver Star in Honor of Courage, Sacrifice, and Service

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In bright sunlight and through a cold Autumn breeze, Tina Jarvis lowered her head and wept as she was handed the silver star awarded to her late husband at Fort Campbell, Ky. It is the Army’s 3rd highest award for gallantry in action.

Sergeant First Class Barry Jarvis was a platoon Sergeant in Nangarhar province Afghanistan on November 29, 2010. His platoon was working with the Afghan Border Police when one of the nearby Afghan Policemen opened fire on the US Troops. Five U.S. soldiers were instantly killed.

SFC Jarvis and his platoon leader moved toward the sound of the combat. As soon as they reached a position where they could see the gunman, they came into his line of fire. SFC Jarvis pushed his platoon leader out of the way saving his life. SFC Jarvis was shot and fatally wounded.

The citation from the president reads “Sergeant First Class Jarvis’ courage under fire, sacrifice and service reflect great credit upon himself, Bravo Troop, 1st Squadron, 61st Calvary Regiment, 506th regimental Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and the United States Army.”

“He could have dived for cover. He put others before himself,” said Major General James McConville, commander of the 101st Airborne Division. “He wasn’t a professional football hero…He was a hero. He was a screaming eagle. He was a curahee” referencing the nicknames for both his division and regiment.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/11/10/late-soldiers-family-awarded-silver-star-in-honor-courage-sacrifice-and-service/?test=faces#ixzz1dLRKCQRN

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Never forget these hero's...

http://www.huffingto..._n_1087918.html

You're one of the few that could get me to follow a link to Huffington Post---the article was great---comments that followed turned my stomach.

A Gecko saving a Gecko from a snake is the equal to these extra-ordianary men!?! --- leftist make me sick.

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Interesting stats from Vietnam

A little history most people don't know.

Interesting Veterans Statistics off of the Vietnam Memorial Wall

SOMETHING to think about - Most of the surviving Parents are now deceased.

There are 58,267 names now listed on that polished black wall, including those added in 2010.

The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date and within each date the names are alphabetized. It is hard to believe it is 36 years since the last casualties.

Beginning at the apex on panel 1E and going out to the end of the East wall, appearing to recede into the earth (numbered 70E - May 25, 1968), then resuming at the end of the West wall, as the wall emerges from the earth (numbered 70W - continuing May 25, 1968) and ending with a date in 1975. Thus the war's beginning and end meet. The war is complete, coming full circle, yet broken by the earth that bounds the angle's open side and contained within the earth itself.

The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth, Mass. Listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.

˚· There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.

˚· 39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or younger.

˚· 8,283 were just 19 years old.

˚· The largest age group, 33,103 were 18 years old.

˚· 12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.

˚· 5 soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old.

˚· One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was 15 years old.

˚· 997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam.

˚· 1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam.

˚· 31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.

˚· Thirty one sets of parents lost two of their sons.

˚· 54 soldiers on the Wall attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia. I wonder why so many from one school.

˚· 8 Women are on the Wall. Nursing the wounded.

˚· 244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War; 153 of them are on the Wall.

˚· Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475 lost 6 of her sons.

˚· West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation. There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall.

˚· The Marines of Morenci - They led some of the scrappiest high school football and basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci (pop. 5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring beer busts. In quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, stalked deer in the Apache National Forest . And in the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci's mining families, the nine graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966. Only 3 returned home.

˚· The Buddies of Midvale - LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, Tom Gonzales were all boyhood friends and lived on three consecutive streets in Midvale, Utah on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived only a few yards apart. They played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field. And they all went to Vietnam . In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967, all three would be killed. LeRoy was killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the fourth anniversary of John F. Kennedys assassination. Jimmy died less than 24 hours later on Thanksgiving Day. Tom was shot dead assaulting the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

˚· The most casualty deaths for a single day was on January 31, 1968 ~ 245 deaths.

˚· The most casualty deaths for a single month was May 1968 - 2,415 casualties were incurred.

For most Americans who read this they will only see the numbers that the Vietnam War created. To those of us who survived the war, and to the families of those who did not, we see the faces, we feel the pain that these numbers created. We are, until we too pass away, haunted with these numbers, because they were our friends, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters. There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.

Please pass this on to those who served during this time, and those who DO Care.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Letter from an airline pilot: He writes: My lead flight attendant came to me and said, "We have an H.R. On this flight." (H.R. Stands for human remains.) "Are they military?" I asked. 'Yes', she said. 'Is there an escort?' I asked. 'Yes, I already assigned him a seat'. 'Would you please tell him to come to the flight deck. You can board him early," I said.. A short while later a young army sergeant entered the flight deck. He was the image of the perfectly dressed soldier. He introduced himself and I asked him about his soldier. The escorts of these fallen soldiers talk about them as if they are still alive and still with us. 'My soldier is on his way back to Virginia ,' he said. He proceeded to answer my questions, but offered no words. I asked him if there was anything I could do for him and he said no. I told him that he had the toughest job in the military and that I appreciated the work that he does for the families of our fallen soldiers. The first officer and I got up out of our seats to shake his hand. He left the flight deck to find his seat. We completed our pre-flight checks, pushed back and performed an uneventful departure. About 30 minutes into our flight I received a call from the lead flight attendant in the cabin. 'I just found out the family of the soldier we are carrying, is on board', she said. She then proceeded to tell me that the father, mother, wife and 2-year old daughter were escorting their son,husband, and father home. The family was upset because they were unable to see the container that the soldier was in before we left. We were on our way to a major hub at which the family was going to wait four hours for the connecting flight home to Virginia. The father of the soldier told the flight attendant that knowing his son was below him in the cargo compartment and being unable to see him was too much for him and the family to bear. He had asked the flight attendant if there was anything that could be done to allow them to see him upon our arrival. The family wanted to be outside by the cargo door to watch the soldier being taken off the airplane.I could hear the desperation in the flight attendants voice when she asked me if there was anything I could do. 'I'm on it', I said. I told her that I would get back to her. Airborne communication with my company normally occurs in the form of e-mail like messages. I decided to bypass this system and contact my flight dispatcher directly on a Secondary radio. There is a radio operator in the operations control center who connects you to the telephone of the dispatcher. I was in direct contact with the dispatcher. I explained the situation I had on board with the family and what it was the family wanted. He said he understood and that he would get back to me. Two hours went by and I had not heard from the dispatcher. We were going to get busy soon and I needed to know what to tell the family. I sent a text message asking for an update. I Saved the return message from the dispatcher and the following is the text: 'Captain, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. There is policy on this now and I had to check on a few things. Upon your arrival a dedicated escort team will meet the aircraft. The team will escort the family to the ramp and plane side. A van will be used to load the remains with a secondary van for the family. The family will be taken to their departure area and escorted into the terminal where the remains can be seen on the ramp. It is a private area for the family only. When the connecting aircraft arrives, the family will be escorted onto the ramp and plane side to watch the remains being loaded for the final leg home. Captain, most of us here in flight control are veterans.. Please pass our condolences on to the family. Thanks.' I sent a message back telling flight control thanks for a good job. I printed out the message and gave it to the lead flight attendant to pass on to the father.The lead flight attendant was very thankful and told me, 'You have no idea how much this will mean to them.' Things started getting busy for the descent, approach and landing. After landing, we cleared the runway and taxied to the ramp area. The ramp is huge with 15 gates on either side of the alleyway. It is always a busy area with aircraft maneuvering every which way to enter and exit. When we entered the ramp and checked in with the ramp controller,we were told that all traffic was being held for us. 'There is a team in place to meet the aircraft', we were told. It looked like it was all coming together, then I realized that once we turned the seat belt sign off, everyone would stand up at once and delay the family from getting off the airplane. As we approached our gate, I asked the co-pilot to tell the ramp controller we were going to stop short of the gate to make an announcement to the passengers. He did that and the ramp controller said, 'Take your time.' I stopped the aircraft and set the parking brake. I pushed the public address button and said, 'Ladies and gentleman, this is your Captain speaking I have stopped short of our gate to make a special announcement. We have a passenger on board who deserves our honor and respect. His Name is Private XXXXXX, a soldier who recently lost his life. Private XXXXXX is under your feet in the cargo hold. Escorting him today is Army Sergeant XXXXXXX. Also, on board are his father, mother, wife, and daughter.Your entire flight crew is asking for all passengers to remain in their seats to allow the family to exit the aircraft first. Thank you.' We continued the turn to the gate, came to a stop and started our shutdown procedures. A couple of minutes later I opened the cockpit door. I found the two forward flight attendants crying, something you just do not see. I was told that after we came to a stop, every passenger on the aircraft stayed in their seats, waiting for the family to exit the aircraft. When the family got up and gathered their things, a passenger slowly started to clap his hands. Moments later more passengers joined in and soon the entire aircraft was clapping. Words of 'God Bless You', I'm sorry, thank you, be proud, and other kind words were uttered to the family as they made their way down the aisle and out of the airplane. They were escorted down to the ramp to finally be with their loved one. Many of the passengers disembarking thanked me for the announcement I had made. They were just words, I told them, I could say them over and over again, but nothing I say will bring back that brave soldier. I respectfully ask that all of you reflect on this event and the sacrifices that millions of our men and women have made to ensure our freedom and safety in these United States of AMERICA Foot note: I know everyone who has served their country who reads this will have tears in their eyes, including me. Prayer chain for our Military... Don't break it! Please send this on after a short prayer for our service men and women. Don't break it! They die for me and mine and you and yours and deserve our honor and respect. 'Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us..bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need.. In Jesus Name, Amen.' prayer Request: When you receive this, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our troops around the world.. There is nothing attached. Just send this to people in your address book. Do not let it stop with you. Of all the gifts you could give a Marine, Soldier, Sailor, Airman, & others deployed in harm's way, prayer is the very best one.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Not all hero's are in the military....

Jenni Lake gave birth to a baby boy the month before her 18th birthday, though she was not destined to become just another teenage mother.

That much, she knew.

While being admitted to the hospital, she pulled her nurse down to her at bed level and whispered into her ear. The nurse would later repeat the girl's words to comfort her family, as their worst fears were realized a day after Jenni's baby was born.

"She told the nurse, `I'm done, I did what I was supposed to. My baby is going to get here safe,'" said Diana Phillips, Jenni's mother.

In photographs, the baby's ruddy cheeks and healthy weight offer a stark contrast to the frail girl who gave birth to him. She holds the newborn tightly, kissing the top of his head. Jenni, at 5 feet and 4 inches tall, weighed only 108 pounds at the full term of her pregnancy.

A day after the Nov. 9 birth, Phillips learned that her daughter's decision to forgo treatment for tumors on her brain and spine so she could carry the baby would have fatal repercussions. The cancer had marked too much territory. Nothing could be done, Phillips said.

Related: Chemo Appears Safe in Pregnancy, Study Finds

It was only 12 days past the birth — half spent in the hospital and the other half at home — before Jenni was gone.

Even so, her family and friends insist her legacy is not one centered in tragedy, but rather in sacrifice.

This month, her family gathered at their ranch style home in Pocatello, where a Christmas tree in the living room was adorned with ornaments picked out just for Jenni, including one in bright lime green, her favorite color. She had passed away in a bedroom down the hall.

Recalling Jenni's infectious laugh and a rebellious streak, her mother held the baby close, nuzzling his head, and said, "I want him to know everything about her, and what she did."

___

The migraines started last year, when Jenni was a 16-year-old sophomore at Pocatello High School. She was taken to the family doctor, and an MRI scan found a small mass measuring about two centimeters wide on the right side of her brain.

She was sent to a hospital in Salt Lake City, some 150 miles south of Pocatello, and another scan there showed the mass was bigger than previously thought.

Jenni had a biopsy Oct. 15, 2010, and five days later was diagnosed with stage three astrocytoma, a type of brain tumor. With three tumors on her brain and three on her spine, Jenni was told her case was rare because the cancer had spread from her brain to another part of her body with no symptoms.

Her parents, who are divorced, remember they were brought into a room at the hospital and sat down at a long table as doctors discussed her chances of survival.

"Jenni just flat out asked them if she was going to die," said her father, Mike Lake, 43, a truck driver who lives in Rexburg, north of Pocatello.

The answer wasn't good. With treatment, the teen was told she had a 30 percent chance to make it two years, Lake said. While he was heartbroken, Lake marveled at how strong she seemed in that moment. "She didn't break down and cry or anything," he said.

But her mom recalled Jenni did have a weak moment that day.

"When they told her that she might not be able to have kids, she got upset," said Phillips, 39.

Jenni started aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments, while also posting videos on a YouTube site titled "Jenni's Journey," where she hoped to share her story with updates every other day. She managed to upload only three videos, though, as her treatments left her tired and weak.

On her second video, posted Nov. 20, 2010, Jenni appears distraught while a family friend records her having lunch with her mom.

"Last night, like, I was just lying in bed and I was thinking about everything that was going on and it just like, it just hit me, like everything, and I don't know, it made me cry," Jenni says on the video.

Her mom is shown burying her face in her hands. "Do you know how hard it is to be a mom and know that she's sick and there's nothing you can do," she says, before collapsing into tears.

Jenni persists: "It's hard. It's like, I don't know how long this is going to last and I just want it to go away ... I feel like this is holding me back from so much ..."

By March of this year, the tumors had started to shrink, the family said.

In a picture taken at her prom in early May, Jenni is wearing a dark blue strapless dress and gives the camera a small smile. There's a silver headband in her hair, which is less than an inch long. Chemotherapy took her shoulder-length blond tresses.

Her boyfriend, Nathan Wittman, wearing a black dress shirt and pants, is cradling her from behind.

Jenni started dating Nathan a couple of weeks before she received her diagnosis. Their adolescent relationship withstood the very adult test posed by cancer, the treatments that left her barely able to walk from her living room to her bedroom, and the gossip at school.

"The rumors started flying around, like Nathan was only with her because she had cancer," said Jenni's older sister, Ashlee Lake, 20, who tried to squelch the mean-spirited chatter even as the young couple ignored it.

They were hopeful, and dreamed of someday opening a restaurant or a gallery.

Jenni had been working as an apprentice in a local tattoo shop. "She was like our little sister," said the owner, Kass Chacon. But in May, Jenni's visits to the shop grew less frequent.

She had been throwing up a lot and had sharp stomach pains. She went to the emergency room early one morning with her boyfriend and when she returned home, her family members woke up to the sound of crying. "We could hear Jenni just bawling in her room," said her sister, Kaisee, 19.

She had learned that she was pregnant, and an ultrasound would show the fetus was 10 weeks old.

Jenni's journey was no longer her own.

From the start of treatment, she was told that she might never have children, her mother said, that the radiation and chemotherapy could essentially make her sterile.

"We were told that she couldn't get pregnant, so we didn't worry about it," said Nathan, 19.

Jenni, the third of her parents' eight children, had always wanted to be a mom. She had already determined to keep the baby when she went to see her oncologist, Dr. David Ririe, in Pocatello two days after she found out she was pregnant.

"He told us that if she's pregnant, she can't continue the treatments," Phillips said. "So she would either have to terminate the pregnancy and continue the treatments, or stop the treatments, knowing that it could continue to grow again."

Ririe would not discuss Jenni's care, citing privacy laws, but said, generally, in cases in which a cancer patient is pregnant, oncologists will consider both the risks and benefits of continuing with treatment, such as chemotherapy.

"There are times during pregnancy in some situations, breast cancer being the classic example, where the benefits of chemotherapy may outweigh the risk to mother and baby," Ririe said. "There are other times where the risk outweighs the benefits."

There was no discussion about which path Jenni would choose. Her parents didn't think of it as a clear life or death decision, and Jenni may not have, either. They believed that since the tumors had already started to shrink earlier, she had a strong chance of carrying the baby and then returning to treatment after he was born.

"I guess we were just hoping that after she had the baby, she could go back on the chemotherapy and get better," her mother said.

___

Jenni and Nathan named the baby Chad Michael, after their dads. Nathan has legal custody of the child, who is primarily cared for by Nathan's mother, Alexia Wittman, 51.

"Nathan will raise him," she said. She brings the baby to Jenni's house to visit her family whenever they ask.

Jenni didn't show regret for her decision, not in the final weeks of her pregnancy as she grew weaker, and not when she started to lose her vision as the cancer took its course, her family said.

Jenni's last words were about her son as he was placed beside her a final time, her father said.

As she felt for the baby, she said: "I can kind of see him."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/12/28/idaho-teen-loses-cancer-fight-after-delivering-son/?test=latestnews?test=latestnews#ixzz1hsF8EeEK

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  • 3 weeks later...

Fourth Stalag Luft III Tunnel Found

The classic Steve McQueen movie immortalised three tunnels at Stalag Luft III PoW camp, now astonished archaeologists have discovered a fourth called George

By CLAUDIA JOSEPH

It has lain hidden for nearly 70 years and looks, to the untrained eye, like a building site. But this insignificant tunnel opening in the soft sand of western Poland represents one of the greatest examples of British wartime heroism. And the sensational story became the Hollywood classic, The Great Escape, starring Steve McQueen.

We are standing in the notorious PoW camp Stalag Luft III, built at the height of the Third Reich, 100 miles east of Berlin. Ten thousand prisoners were kept under German guns here on a 60-acre site ringed with a double barbed-wire fence and watchtowers.

They slept in barrack huts raised off the ground so guards could spot potential tunnellers, but the Germans did not count on the audacity of British Spitfire pilot Squadron Leader Roger Bushell, played by Sir Richard Attenborough in the 1963 film. He was interned at the camp in March 1943. With him were about 2,000 other RAF officers, many of whom were seasoned escapers from other camps, with skills in tunnelling, forgery and manufacturing.

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Frank Stone, seated, with Dr Tony Pollard on the site of George

From them Bushell hand-picked a team for his ambitious plan: to dig their way out of captivity.

Three tunnels nicknamed Tom, Dick and Harry were constructed 30ft underground using homemade tools. While Tom was discovered and destroyed by the Germans, Dick was used for storage.

The third tunnel, Harry, became the stuff of folklore on the night of March 24, 1944, when Allied prisoners gathered in hut 104 before crawling along the 100ft tunnel to a brief taste of freedom. Only three escaped; 73 were rounded up by the Germans and 50 were summarily executed.

Few could have blamed their devastated comrades for sitting out the remainder of the war. Yet far from being dispirited, a few men began work on a fourth tunnel nicknamed ‘George’, which was kept so secret that only a handful of prisoners knew about it.

Incredibly, George has just been uncovered after a team of engineers, archaeologists and historians excavated the site, a project filmed for a Channel 4 documentary Digging The Great Escape.

‘You have to admire these men,’ said chief archaeologist Dr Tony Pollard. ‘The Germans believed that the deaths of those 50 men would have acted as a deterrent for future escapees. But these men were even more determined.’

With us at the site are two of them: Gordie King, 91, an RAF pilot who operated the pump providing the tunnel with fresh air on the night of the Great Escape, and Frank Stone, 89, a gunner who shared a room with the ‘tunnel king’ Wally Floody, an ex-miner in charge of the digging. They stand, heads bowed, reminiscing about their former colleagues. It is the first time Gordie, who was shot down on his first mission to Bremen in 1942, has returned to the camp since he and the remaining prisoners of war were marched out on January 27, 1945, as Russian forces approached.

‘It has been very emotional,’ he said. ‘It brings back such bittersweet memories. I am amazed by everything they have found.’

A widower with six children, he has vivid memories of working on tunnel Harry, performing guard duty and acting as a ‘penguin’ to disperse the sand excavated from the tunnels, whose entrances were hidden by the huts’ stoves.

They were called penguins because they waddled when they walked.

‘We would put bags around our neck and down our trousers, fill them with excavated sand, then pull a string to release it on to the field where we played soccer, all in a very nonchalant way,’ Gordie said.

‘One of my jobs was to look out of the window at the main gate 24 hours a day and write down how many guards went in and out,’ he recalled. ‘Another was warning watch. If the Germans came into the compound, we would pull the laundry line down and everyone would stop what they were doing and resume normal duties. The guards were not exactly brilliant. They were taken from what we called 4F – not fit for frontline fighting.

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Poignant memories: Frank Stone, left, and Gordie King with recovered artifacts including the pistol, below

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‘I’m thrilled by it all,’ added Frank, who was shot down on his second mission: a bombing raid on Ludwigshafen oil refinery. ‘It’s like a war memorial for me. I don’t want people ever to forget the 50 men who died. The escape was thrilling and exciting but those men paid the price for it.’

Inevitably security tightened after the Great Escape and an inventory was taken by the Germans to gauge the extent of the operation. The roll- call of hidden items is astounding: 4,000 bedboards, 90 double bunk beds, 635 mattresses, 62 tables, 34 chairs, 76 benches, 3,424 towels, 2,000 knives and forks, 1,400 cans of Klim powdered milk, 300 metres of electric wire and 180 metres of rope.

To prevent further escape attempts, the Germans filled in Harry with sand. So effective was the cover-up that when the remaining prisoners wanted to build a memorial for the 50 men who died, the exact site of the tunnel could not be agreed on.

Now, for the first time in 66 years, the archaeologists have pinpointed the entrance shaft to Harry after compiling a map of the camp using aerial photography.

What was most surprising for the team was the structure within the shaft. The bedboards were interlocked to line the tunnel but the sand was so soft that plaster and sandbags were used to prevent it engulfing the tunnel. Amazingly, the ventilation shaft, which was made out of discarded powdered milk tins, was still intact.

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Prisoner of War: Frank, ringed, during his days in prison

Dr Pollard, 46, who co-founded Glasgow University’s Centre for Battlefield Archaeology, said: ‘I was surprised at just how emotional I became when we found Harry. We were the first people to see the tunnel in decades. But it came to a point when we realised we couldn’t progress with the excavation. As soon as you drive a shaft into the sand, it is so soft it starts to collapse. It shows just how skilled those prisoners were.’

After abandoning Harry, the team set their sights on finding the secret fourth tunnel rumoured to have been dug underneath the floorboards in the camp theatre.

Using ground-scanning radar equipment, they found – beneath what would have been seat 13 – the trap door to a space that gave real insight into how the earlier tunnels would have been built.

To the left, between the floor joists, was a storage area for equipment – Klim tins, tools, a trolley and the ventilation pump – and abandoned sand. A few feet away was the entrance to the tunnel shaft, and at its bottom a separate chamber, which archaeologists believe was the radio room.

Down a single step lay the tunnel itself, intricately shored with bed boards, wired for light and equipped with the trademark trolley system used to shift both sand and men quickly and silently through the tunnels. It looked like a miniature railway with trolleys running on tracks linked by rope and pulled along by men at either end.

‘George turned out to be an absolute gem,’ explained Dr Pollard. ‘We found the shaft and excavated the tunnel which ran the entire length of the theatre. It was incredibly well preserved, with timber-lined walls, electrical wiring and homemade junction boxes, and was tall enough to walk through at a stoop. The craftsmanship is phenomenal. You can even see the groove on the top of the manhole cover, where it would swivel and slot into the floorboard above.

‘It was built at a time of heightened security at the camp. It is a fighting tunnel, not an escape tunnel. It was heading for the German compound from where the prisoners hoped to steal weapons and fight their way out.

The men knew the end of the war was nigh and they were playing a dangerous game. To see what most of the prisoners never saw was a real thrill. The Germans obviously discovered Harry but they never had a clue about George.’

The massive collection of artefacts found inside the tunnel included trenching tools; a fat-burning lamp crafted from a Klim tin; solder made from the silver foil of cigarette packets for the wiring system; a belt buckle and briefcase handle from the escapers’ fake uniforms as well as a German gun near hut 104. They also uncovered the axle and wheels from one of the tunnel trolleys, identical to the one used in Harry, and the remains of an air pump; a kind of hand-operated bellows which drew fresh air from the surface down a duct to the tunnel.

But the piece de resistance was a clandestine PoW radio crafted from a biscuit box and cannibalised from two radios smuggled into the camp.

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Tunnel vision: A tunnel reconstruction showing the trolley system, tried out, below, by Frank, 89

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Frank was instrumental in making the coil for the radio, which he moulded from an old 78 record. ‘I helped with the work on the construction of the radio, doing the soldering and things like that,’ he recalled, ‘cutting out bits of tins and whatever we needed for the equipment.’

Gordie added: ‘I remember one day walking around the camp with a friend when we saw this huge coil of wire. We grabbed it, covered it up with our coats and took it back to the hut. The Germans could not understand where the wire went. Until then we had had to rely on old tins of margarine with a wick in them, made from pajama cord, to light the tunnel, but they were smoky, used up oxygen and were continually getting knocked out.’

On the night of the Great Escape, 200 prisoners, allocated consecutive numbers, gathered in hut 104 to make their escape, each a few minutes apart. The leaders were dressed in German uniforms or specially tailored civvies and kitted out with maps, compasses and forged documents.

Gordie, who was slot 140, remembers sharing final words with many of the escapers, wishing them luck and complimenting them on ‘their impressive disguises’.

‘It was quite exciting,’ he said. ‘Only the key German-speaking officers, who had a good chance of bluffing their way through, were given documents and civilian uniforms. The rest of us were so-called hard-a**ers, who were expected to get out and run.’

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War classic: Steve McQueen on the set of the classic movie, The Great Escape

According to Roger Bushell’s plan, thousands of German soldiers and police would be deployed to hunt the escapers, preventing them from fighting the Allies. But after 76 men had escaped, the remainder were caught leaving the tunnel by German guards. Seventy-three of the men who got away were rounded up over the next few weeks and 23 were returned to the camp. The other 50 were shot in the back of the head by the guards at the side of the road. Only three escapees, Norwegians Per Bergsland and Jens Muller, and Dutch fighter pilot Bram van der Stok, succeeded in reaching safety. Bergsland and Muller got to neutral Sweden and Van der Stok made it to Gibraltar via Holland and France.

‘Afterwards the morale in the camp was very depressed,’ said Frank, tears in his eyes. ‘It was eerie. We had a period of mourning and held a memorial service. People just wandered around the camp quietly.’

‘A mass of doom enveloped the whole camp as so many of us had friends who were shot,’ added Gordie. ‘My close friend Jimmy Wernham, who came from the same town as me, was one of those who didn’t come back.

‘Before he went out, he took his ring off and gave it to his roommate Hap Geddes, who wasn’t going out, and said, “If anything happens to me, I want you to take this ring and give it to my fiancee.” After the war, Hap took the ring back to Dorothy and struck up a relationship with her. He ended up marrying her. He is still alive and living in Canada.’

Frank added: ‘I hope that what has been revealed will remind everybody what we went through and how we met the challenges. It was a privilege to be involved.’

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Subject: Would we have the will to do this today???

Subject: WWII Flight Statistics

Forwarded FYI - Some interesting points are made regarding cost and losses - one has to remember that we had a very small and inexperienced level of pilots and even a lower level of aircraft technicians, who were very quickly trained for combat and support of new aircraft and weapons systems that were rushed into service to fight a determined enemy - their training must have been good for us to come out a winner - such is the cost of an unprepared defense

For those of you who are interested in a bit of history...

Maybe even your children and grandchildren........

WWII Flight Statistics

The cost of doing business --

Most Americans who were not adults during

WWII have no understanding of the magnitude of it. This listing of aircraft facts gives a bit of insight.

  • 276,400 aircraft manufactured in the U.S.
  • 43,000 planes lost overseas, including 23,000 in combat.
  • 14,000 lost in the continental U.S.
  • The US civilian population maintained a dedicated effort for four years, many working long hours seven days per week and often also volunteering for other work.
  • WWII was the largest human effort in history.

Statistics from Flight Journal magazine.

"THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS ---- The staggering cost of war."

THE PRICE OF VICTORY

B-17 $204,370. P-40 $44,892.

B-24 $215,516. P-47 $85,578.

B-25 $142,194. P-51 $51,572.

B-26 $192,426. C-47 $88,574.

B-29 $605,360. PT-17 $15,052.

P-38 $97,147. AT-6 $22,952.

ON AVERAGE 6,600 American service men died per month during WWII (about 220 a day).

PLANES A DAY WORLDWIDE - From Germany's invasion of Poland (Sept. 1, 1939) and ending with Japan 's surrender (Sept. 2, 1945) --- 2,433 days.

From 1942 ONWARD, AMERICA LOST AN AVERAGE 170 PLANES A DAY

Nation Aircraft Average Lost Per Day

USA 276,400 113

Soviet Union 137,200 56

Great Britain 108,500 45

Germany 109,000 45

Japan76,300 31

How many is 1,000 planes?

B-17 production (12,731) wingtip to wingtip would extend 250 miles. 1,000 B-17s carried 2.5 million gallons of high octane fuel, lifting 10,000 airmen to deliver 2,000 tons of bombs.

THE NUMBERSGAME

  • 9.7 billion gallons of gasoline consumed, 1942-1945.
  • 107.8 million hours flown, 1943-1945.
  • 459.7 billion rounds of aircraft ammo fired overseas, 1942-1945.
  • 7.9 million bombs dropped overseas, 1943-1945.
  • 2.3 million combat sorties, 1941-1945 (one sortie = one takeoff).
  • 299,230 aircraft accepted, 1940-1945.
  • 808,471 aircraft engines accepted, 1940-1945.
  • 799,972 propellers accepted, 1940-1945.

WWII MOST-PRODUCED COMBAT AIRCRAFT

II-2 Stum0vik 36,183

Yak 1, 3, 7, 9 31,000+

Bf 109 30,480

Fw 190 29,001

Spit/Seafire 20,351

B-24/PB4Y 18,482

Thunderbolt 15,686

Mustang 15,875

Ju 88 15,000

Hurricane 14,533

P-40 13,738

B-17 12,731

Corsair 12,571

Hellcat 12,275

Pe-2 11,400 P-38 10,037

Zero 10,449

B-25 9,984

LaGG-5 9,920

Avenger 9,837

P-39 9,584

Oscar 5,919

Mosquito 7,780

Lancaster 7,377

He 111 6,508

Halifax 6,176

Bf 110 6,150

LaGG-7 5,753

B-29 3,970

Stirling 2,383

Sources:

Rene Francillon, Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific war; Cajus Bekker, The Luftwaffe Diaries; Ray Wagner, American Combat Planes; Wikipedia.

According to the AAF Statistical Digest, in less than four years (December 1941- August 1945), the US Army Air Forces lost 14,903 pilots, aircrew and assorted personnel plus 13,873 airplanes inside the continental United States . They were the result of 52,651 aircraft accidents (6,039 involving fatalities) in 45 months.

Think about those numbers. They average 1,170 aircraft accidents per month---- nearly 40 a day. (Less than one accident in four resulted in totaled aircraft, however.) Those colossal losses cost the Axis powers nothing; not as much as one 7.7 mm bullet.

It gets worse . . .

  • Almost 1,000 Army planes disappeared en route from the U.S. to foreign war theaters. But an eye-watering 43,581 aircraft were lost overseas including 22,948 on combat missions (18,418 against the Western Axis) and 20,633 attributed to non-combat causes overseas.
  • In August 1943, 60 B-17s were shot down among 376 losses. That was a 16 percent loss rate and meant 600 empty bunks in England . In 1942-43 it was statistically impossible for bomber crews to complete a 25-mission tour in Europe .
  • Pacific theatre losses were far less (4,530 in combat) owing to smaller forces committed. The worst B-29 mission, against Tokyo on May 25, 1945, cost 26 Superfortress, 5.6 percent of the 464 dispatched from the Marianas .
  • On average, 6,600 American servicemen died per month during WWII, about 220 a day. By the end of the war, over 40,000 airmen were killed in combat theatres and another 18,000 wounded. Some 12,000 missing men were declared dead, including a number "liberated" by the Soviets but never returned.
  • More than 41,000 were captured, half of the 5,400 held by the Japanese died in captivity, compared with one-tenth in German hands. Total combat casualties were pegged at 121,867.
  • U.S. manpower made up the deficit. The AAF's peak strength was reached in 1944 with 2,372,000 personnel, nearly twice the previous year's figure.
  • The losses were huge---but so were production totals. From 1941 through 1945, American industry delivered more than 276,000 military aircraft. That number was enough not only for US Army, Navy and Marine Corps, but for allies as diverse as Britain , Australia , China andRussia. In fact, from 1943 onward, America produced more planes than Britain and Russia combined. And more than Germany and Japantogether 1941-45.
  • However, our enemies took massive losses. Through much of 1944, the Luftwaffe sustained uncontrolled hemorrhaging, reaching 25 percent of aircrews and 40 planes a month. And in late 1944 into 1945, nearly half the pilots in Japanese squadrons had flown fewer than 200 hours. The disparity of two years before had been completely reversed.

Experience Level:

Uncle Sam sent many of his sons to war with absolute minimums of training. Some fighter pilots entered combat in 1942 with less than one hour in their assigned aircraft. The 357th Fighter Group (often known as The Yoxford Boys) went to England in late 1943 having trained on P-39s. The group never saw a Mustang until shortly before its first combat mission.

A high-time P-51 pilot had 30 hours in type. Many had fewer than five hours. Some had one hour.

With arrival of new aircraft, many combat units transitioned in combat. The attitude was, "They all have a stick and a throttle. Go fly `em."

When the famed 4th Fighter Group converted from P-47s to P-51s in February 1944, there was no time to stand down for an orderly transition. The Group commander, Col. Donald Blakeslee, said, "You can learn to fly `51s on the way to the target."

Note: Gone West HNL QB Brewster Morgan (Morgan's Corner up in Nuuanu off of Old Pali Road ), a Honolulu boy and a member of the 4th Fighter Group, told me that they actually did stand down one day to transition from the P47 to the P51. They were pissed that the old groups still had the P47 [brewster was with the Eagle Squadron in the Spitfire... later in the P47 when the US got into it in '42] and the newer groups coming over from the US all had P-51s. Blakeslee finally convinced AF to let them convert by standing down just one day.

An interesting side note... Brewster was shot down over France in '44 and became a POW... his roommate?... Douglas Bader... top English ace, with two wooden legs. Bader lost one of his legs when he bailed out and was captured... The Germans asked the Brits to send him another leg, which they did).

A future P-47 ace said, "I was sent to England to die." He was not alone. Some fighter pilots tucked their wheels in the well on their first combat mission with one previous flight in the aircraft. Meanwhile, many bomber crews were still learning their trade: Of Jimmy Doolittle's 15 pilots on the April 1942 Tokyo raid, only five had won their wings before 1941. All but one of the 16 copilots were less than a year out of flight school.

In WWII flying safety took a back seat to combat. The AAF's worst accident rate was recorded by the A-36 Invader version of the P-51: a staggering 274 accidents per 100,000 flying hours. Next worst were the P-39 at 245, the P-40 at 188, and the P-38 at 139. All were Allison powered.

Bomber wrecks were fewer but more expensive. The B-17 and B-24 averaged 30 and 35 accidents per 100,000 flight hours, respectively- a horrific figure

considering that from 1980 to 2000 the Air Force's major mishap rate was less than 2.

The B-29 was even worse at 40; the world's most sophisticated, most capable and most expensive bomber was too urgently needed to stand down for mere safety reasons. The AAF set a reasonably high standard for B-29 pilots, but the desired figures were seldom attained.

The original cadre of the 58th Bomb Wing was to have 400 hours of multi-engine time, but there were not enough experienced pilots to meet the criterion. Only ten percent had overseas experience.

Conversely, when a $2.1 billion B-2 crashed in 2008, the Air Force initiated a two-month "safety pause" rather than declare a "stand down", let alone grounding.

The B-29 was no better for maintenance. Though the R3350 was known as a complicated, troublesome power-plant, no more than half the mechanics had previous experience with the Duplex Cyclone. But they made it work.

Navigators: Perhaps the greatest unsung success story of AAF training was Navigators. The Army graduated some 50,000 during the War. And many had never flown out of sight of land before leaving "Uncle Sugar" for a war zone. Yet the huge majority found their way across oceans and continents without getting lost or running out of fuel --- a stirring tribute to the AAF's educational establishments.

CADET TO COLONEL:

It was possible for a flying cadet at the time of Pearl Harbor to finish the war with eagles on his shoulders. That was the record of John D. Landers, a 21-year-old Texan, who was commissioned a second lieutenant on December 12, 1941. He joined his combat squadron with 209 hours total flight time, including 2 ½ in P-40s. He finished the war as a full colonel, commanding an 8th Air Force Group --- at age 24.

As the training pipeline filled up, however those low figures became exceptions. By early 1944, the average AAF fighter pilot entering combat had logged at least 450 hours, usually including 250 hours in training. At the same time, many captains and first lieutenants claimed over 600 hours.

FACT:

At its height in mid-1944, the Army Air Forces had 2.6 million people and nearly 80,000 aircraft of all types. Today the US Air Force employs 327,000 active personnel (plus 170,000 civilians) with 5,500+ manned and perhaps 200 unmanned aircraft. The 2009 figures represent about 12 percent of the manpower and 7 percent of the airplanes of the WWII peak.

IN SUMMATION:

Whether there will ever be another war is doubtful, as fighters and bombers have given way to helicopters and remotely-controlled drones over Afghanistan and Iraq . But within living memory, men left the earth in 1,000-plane formations and fought major battles five miles high, leaving a legacy that remains timeless.

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I thank each and every one of those great Americans

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God bless Marine LCPL Carpenter and his family!

I have to say, to me, this is the most touching, heart wrenching, meaningful photo I have seen.

Meet Landon. His father, Marine LCPL Carpenter, gave his life defending our country in Afghanistan earlier this year, a month before his son was born.

Baby Landon's Mom wants his story to be known. Take a moment to share this photo with your friends and reflect on the price of freedom.

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