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Didn't Make The Front Page News

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Biak, Feb 14, 2012.

  1. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    It's Never Too Late;

    FORT JACKSON, S.C. (June 14, 2012) -- He spent 30 years in the Army and fought in two wars. This weekend, Melvin Bryant, 90, will attend his first Army Ball.

    "I was always busy overseas somewhere, either coming home or leaving," said Bryant, a veteran of both World War II and Vietnam. "For 30 years, I never had a chance to go."

    An Alabama native, Bryant has lived in the Columbia area since retiring as a sergeant major at Fort Jackson in the early 1970s.

    "I was all over the world, but came here for my last tour," he said. "I got my 30 years in and called it quits. I served everywhere -- Fort Benning (Ga.), Fort Bragg (N.C.), Fort Gordon (Ga.) -- but never near home. I guess that's why I made this my home. I love Fort Jackson."

    Bryant joined the Army in 1942 and fought in Europe during World War II. He was among the Soldiers to take part in the Anzio Beachhead in 1944, where troops of the 5th Army swarmed a 15-mile stretch of an Italian beach near Anzio and Nettuno.

    Bryant declined to elaborate on his combat experiences.

    "You're asking me about things I don't talk about," he said, but revealed he later met his wife, Marta, in Italy.

    "I picked that young lady up right after World War II," he said.

    When he returned to the United States after the war, he decided to leave the Army. It wasn't long before he realized he'd made a mistake, though.

    "There was a short break," he said of his 30-year career. "I wasn't sure I wanted to stay in and got a job with the state. It lasted for 30 days before I told my wife it wasn't for me. I went to Fort McClellan (Ala.), signed my name and cut a trail. I've served just about everywhere. I served in Alaska, Iceland, Germany, Italy and Africa."

    He also served from 1968 to 1972 in Vietnam.

    "I was in Germany and missed Korea," he said. "I was waiting for my name to come up, but it never did. The good Lord was looking out for me."

    In Vietnam, Bryant was part of a Combat Engineer Battalion in the 5th Division.

    "I was there 13 months. Ku Chi was headquarters, but we were scattered all over the jungle," he said.

    Bryant will be accompanied to Fort Jackson's Army Ball this Saturday by his daughters, Lucy and Sandy.

    "They're buying gowns in Greenville for the ball," he said. "They're spending all my money, but what the heck ... you can't take it with you."

    90-year-old WWII, Vietnam veteran prepares for first Army Ball | Article | The United States Army
     
  2. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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  3. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    Combat controller posthumously awarded Silver Star
    by Rachel Arroyo
    Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

    6/15/2012 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (AFNS) -- Senior Airman Mark Forester had an American flag wrapped around his chest plate inside his body armor when he was fatally wounded by an enemy sniper's fire Sept. 29, 2010.

    This simple act is a testament to how Forester lived his life, a life respected by all who knew him.

    Forester, a combat controller assigned to the 21st Special Tactics Squadron at Pope Field, N.C., was posthumously awarded the Silver Star on June 15 in a ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

    The Silver Star, the third highest combat medal, is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy of the U.S. while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force.

    The medal was presented to his parents, Ray and Pat Forester of Haleyville, Ala.

    Forester, 29, was killed in action while moving to the aid of a fallen teammate during an assault of an insurgent safe haven in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.

    His courage on this mission led to the elimination of 12 insurgents and capture of a significant weapons cache.

    Air Force Special Operations Command Commander Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel said Forester embodied the Air Force core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do.

    "Though he cannot be here to accept this recognition and probably would have shunned the attention if he were, we honor and document his heroic actions in the presence of his family, his teammates and his friends," Fiel said. "We commit his actions forever to memory as is due a true hero and brother-in-arms. He will be remembered, as we remember all heroes, who have the greatest valor driven from deep dedication to our nation and our way of life."

    Members of the special tactics community came from across the country by the hundreds to witness the presentation and to pay respects to their brother, their role model and beloved friend.

    Forester had a monumental impact on Staff Sgt. Johnnie Yellock, a close friend and fellow combat controller assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

    So much so that Yellock maintains frequent contact with the Forester family and travels to Alabama each year to spend Thanksgiving with them, a practice he started with Mark Forester before he died.

    Yellock, who was injured in an IED explosion in Afghanistan last year, respected Forester for walking the walk.

    "Mark always stuck to his morals. Mark was one of those people who would keep everybody in line," Yellock said. "You always looked up to him. He had unwavering character, charisma and morals that his parents obviously instilled in him from a young age."

    Thad Forester also credited his little brother for being a standout. He said he was both humbled and honored to see he served as a role model to so many.

    "Mark really was unique, and he had such high character and consistency in values that this is what should happen," he said. "We should honor people who are good examples."

    Thad Forester said his family has been trying to learn everything they can about the time his brother spent in the military. He said he finds himself imagining what happened in his brother's last battle.

    The Mark Forester he goes back to, however, is not wearing a scarlet beret or a special tactics kit.

    "Most everyone sees pictures of Mark in uniform, but I picture him more as my little brother," he said. "He was my best friend and my roommate in college."

    After accepting the award on behalf of his son, Ray Forester acknowledged the outpouring of love and support from his son's second family, the special tactics brotherhood.

    "It has been a tough almost two years, but I want to thank each of you for being there, for supporting us," he said. "And I especially want to thank the special tactics community. What a family it is."

    Thad Forester also thanked special tactics for remaining steadfast alongside their family.

    "From the very beginning, from the very first notification and visit, they told us 'we will be with you every step of the way,'" he said. "Honestly, it sounded like something anybody would say, but it's true. The special tactics community has been right by our side."

    Students at the Special Tactics Training Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., walk by Forester's picture each morning as they enter the building, and they work out each afternoon beneath a portrait of him drawn by a teammate that hangs in their gym.

    His presence is a constant, reminding old and new generations of combat controllers of the ultimate price of freedom.

    Combat controller posthumously awarded Silver Star
     
  4. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    CHIPYONG-NI, South Korea (June 26, 2012) -- Chipyong-ni was a little known mountain village until a battle there changed the momentum of the Korean War and made an indelible mark in military history.

    A day after the 62nd anniversary of the start of the Korean War, American, South Korean and French officials and Korean War veterans gathered here June 26, to mark one of the pivotal battles of the brutal three-year conflict.

    During a ceremony hosted by the Republic of Korea, or ROK, Army's 20th Mechanized Infantry Division, officials and veterans laid wreaths and flowers at a memorial in the modern day city of Jipyeong-ni, formerly spelled Chipyong-ni during the Korean War.

    In late 1950, the large-scale Communist Chinese intervention in the Korean War dramatically changed the complexity of the conflict and increased the number of enemy troops that United Nations forces faced.

    Occupying a critical junction about 40 miles southwest of then-Communist occupied Seoul in February 1951, Chipyong-ni was a crossroads village less than mile long and a few blocks wide.

    The 2nd Infantry Division's 23rd Infantry Regimental Combat Team, augmented by a French infantry battalion, held the village and took on an entire Communist Chinese Army element during three days of heated battle Feb 13-15, 1950.

    Enveloped by enemy forces and fighting around the clock in near freezing temperatures, around 5,000 American and French troops repelled and defeated 25,000 Communist Chinese forces and effectively shattered what historians called the myth of the "magical millions of Chinese in Korea."

    Commanded by Col. Paul L. Freeman Jr., the 23rd Infantry Regiment had previously clashed with Chinese forces at the nearby Twin Towers and at Kunu-ri during the previous winter retreat from North Korea.

    Eighth Army Historian Ron Miller said the battle changed the momentum of the war because it was the first time Communist Chinese troops had been stopped in ground combat and forced to retreat.

    "This success invigorated Eighth Army with a heightened sense of morale and a renewed fighting spirit," said Miller. "The successful defense of an isolated regimental combat team without grievous losses against a numerically superior force symbolized a turning point."

    According to Miller, by early April 1951, United Nations forces had ejected the Communist Chinese from Seoul and pushed them north of the 38th parallel to the approximate area of the Military Demarcation Line that continues to divide Korean Peninsula today.

    During the ceremony, ROK Army Maj. Gen. Na Sang-woong, commander of the 20th Mechanized Infantry Division, paid tribute to the "noble sacrifice of the UN Soldiers who fought bravely in the mountains, valleys and fields of the Republic of Korea defending freedom and democracy."

    The ROK Army 20th ID commander said the veterans of the Battle of Chipyongi-ni "sowed the seeds of democracy and prosperity" in South Korea.

    Brig. Gen. Robin B. Akin, U.S. Forces Korea and Combined Forces Command assistant chief of staff for logistics, also thanked the veterans for their service and sacrifices.

    "The Korean War reminds us that freedom is never free," said Akins. "It also reminds the world that people of free nations will stand together to defend it."

    Korean War veterans remember Battle of Chipyong-ni | Article | The United States Army
     
  5. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    ARLINGTON, Va. (June 25, 2012) -- Sgt. Audie Murphy Club members from across the country gathered at the grave of America's most-decorated World War II Soldier, June 20, for a wreath-laying ceremony on what would have been the Medal of Honor recipient's 88th birthday.

    The Arlington National Cemetery ceremony drew curious tourists from the adjacent Memorial Amphitheater and the Tomb of the Unknowns.

    "Sergeant Audie Murphy wasn't someone about awards or award chasing. He was about taking care of his men and women and getting the mission accomplished," said Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    Since 1986, the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club has honored noncommissioned officers who have acted in a manner consistent with the actions of the Medal of Honor recipient. The club was established 26 years ago at the III Corps headquarters, Fort Hood, Texas. It has since spread to Army units around the world. Candidates are nominated, then screened to determine their leadership ability, training accomplishments and how they care for Soldiers while living up to Army values, the Warrior Ethos and the NCO Creed.

    "That's why I say while we're here, it would be befitting of me to not only recognize Sergeant Audie Murphy on his birthday, but to also thank the members of his club and the loyal and dedicated Soldiers that have continued to serve honorably and with distinguished contributions and volunteerism throughout their communities and neighborhoods," Battaglia said

    Battaglia laid the wreath along with Military District of Washington Sgt. Murphy club chapter president Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Taylor.

    "This is an annual event -- we honor him with a wreath on his birthday," Taylor said. "He is the face of our organization and our charter. We're trying to make this a larger event."

    Joint Force Headquarters-National Capitol Region and Military District of Washington Commander Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington witnessed the ceremony.

    Besides the Medal of Honor, Murphy was awarded numerous military awards from numerous countries. The Texas native also received the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver and Bronze Stars, the French Legion of Honor, the French Croix de Guerre and the Belgian Croix de Guerre.

    Murphy, who turned to acting, songwriting and a literary career after his service, was killed in late May 1971 during a plane crash in Western Virginia. During the program, an oral biography recited by an Old Guard Soldier and Club Treasurer Staff Sgt. Tanner Welch noted that after the accident, Murphy's remains were discovered days after the crash on Memorial Day.


    Ceremony marks Audie Murphy's birthday | Article | The United States Army
     
  6. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    Looks like the Wackburo church tried it again :rolleyes:

    [h=1]Texas Aggies form protective ‘Maroon Wall’ at funeral of Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale [/h]
    Aggie former student, Lt. Col. Roy Lin Tisdale died June 28, 2012 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was the commanding officer of the soldier who shot him during a safety briefing for his unit, reported the New York Times. An accompanying YouTube video of a radio interview with a friend of Col. Tisdale’s shares more about the circumstances of the incident.
    The solemnity of Lt. Col. Tisdale’s impending funeral and burial at the College Station Aggie Field of Honor was threatened by the pronouncement of the Westboro group’s media release, which caught the eye of Texas Aggie Class of 2008 graduate Slezia, who was “up late chatting with friends on Facebook.” Slezia reached out to his Aggie classmate, Lily McAlister, and “we were searching for other groups who were planning on being at the church, other Facebook groups, and discovered that Aggie Chris Rowan had created a Facebook page about an hour” after the Slezia-McAlister team had launched theirs.
    The three Aggies ultimately joined forces and united other smaller groups in an effort to protect the funeral for Tisdale, a fellow Aggie. Slezia said, “I got in contact (with Rowan) over Facebook and we discussed merging the groups to help present a more unified message; he was amiable and I knew we would need the help of another competent leader. Rowan had already made a group with similar intent. I got him and Lily in contact, and they began working the logistics.” What resulted was the Facebook event page, The Maroon Wall.”

    more here > Texas Aggies form protective
     
  7. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron  

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    "One of the most controversial elements of Turkish foreign policy has been the attempt by the Justice and Development party (AKP) to cultivate closer ties to Iran. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rapprochement with Tehran has raised concerns in Western capitals that Ankara is drifting away from the West. Differences over Iran's nuclear program have heightened these fears. In defiance of the United States and other key NATO members, such as the United Kingdom and France, Turkey has downplayed the danger posed by Iran's nuclear policy and attempt to elude constraints imposed by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The most acute example was in June 2010, when, bucking its Western allies, Ankara voted against a new UN sanctions regime that would target Iran's military.
    Worries about Ankara's eastward drift, however, exaggerate the degree of common interests between Turkey and Iran. Beneath an amicable veneer, relations between the two countries are marked by mistrust and unease. Turkey and Iran have been strategic rivals since the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when the Persian Safavid dynasty blunted the Ottoman Empire's eastward expansion. The Arab Spring has given this historical rivalry new life. Since the summer of 2011, conflicts between the two countries have become more visible on Syria, missile defense, secularism, Palestine, Iraq, and the Kurdish issue. As pressures for greater democracy in the Middle East have intensified, Turkey and Iran have clashed more openly and each side has sought to expand its influence at the expense of the other."
    The Turkish-Iranian Alliance That Wasn't | Foreign Affairs
     
  8. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    I wouldn't expect this to "make the News" and realize it is 2 years old but I met Major Duckworth at the welcome Home ceremony and just ran across this article.

    Army Maj. Tammy Duckworth of the Illinois National Guard was recently certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly fixed wing aircraft. Duckworth lost both legs in 2004, when her Blackhawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq. She is the head of the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    SPRINGFIELD, Ill., (8/4/10) -- Gen. George S. Patton once said: “Success is how high you bounce when you hit the bottom.”
    An Illinois Army National Guard aviator hit bottom in 2004, when her Blackhawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq, leaving her disabled.
    Despite losing her legs, Maj. Tammy Duckworth was determined to fly again. In late July, she was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to pilot fixed-wing aircraft.
    “When I woke up at Walter Reed, all I wanted to do was to go back to my unit and fly again,” said Duckworth, a 19-year veteran of the Illinois Army National Guard. “This fixed-wing license fills in the gap in my life that has been there since the day I was shot down.”
    Duckworth completed about six months of training before taking her final check ride at Manassas Regional/Harry P. Davis Field in northern Virginia July 19.
    “Tammy was a great student; well disciplined and hard working,” said Ben Negussie, a flight instructor at Dulles Aviation in Manassas, Va. “She wanted it more than any other student. She pushed more and has a great attitude. She never complained, which has made me think a lot before complaining about anything.”
    During a combat mission north of Baghdad in 2004, Duckworth’s aircraft was ambushed and a rocket-propelled grenade struck the helicopter she was co-piloting. She continued to attempt to pilot the aircraft until passing out from blood loss.
    As a result of the attack, Duckworth lost both legs and partial use of one arm. She received many decorations for her actions, including a Purple Heart, Air Medal and Combat Action Badge.
    Duckworth has not flown a helicopter since her Blackhawk was shot down, but said she hopes to return to the pilot’s seat of a helicopter again. She said being a passenger in the aircraft is not the same as being behind the controls as a pilot.
    Duckworth said aviation provides a unique way for her to control her own destiny. She was able to climb into a Blackhawk while at Walter Reed and ever since has been excited to fly again.
    “I also got into the Blackhawk flight simulator, and it just felt right,” Duckworth said. “That cockpit is where I belong.”
    The first time she flew in a Blackhawk was to welcome her unit home from deployment. “I cried riding in the back of the aircraft,” Duckworth said. “I was happy to see the guys from my unit, but it hurt tremendously to be a passenger and not part of the crew.”
    Duckworth plans to purchase a small airplane to help her commute between Illinois and Washington, D.C., where she is an assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). President Barack Obama appointed seven positions under the Office of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, which is headed by retired Army Gen. Eric K. Shinseki.
    She said the fixed-wing license is a stepping stone to get back to flying a helicopter again.
    “It took five years to work my way through the FAA’s medical system to prove that I could fly again with my disabilities,” Duckworth said. “The fixed-wing license was the best way to demonstrate my abilities.”
    Since Duckworth already has an FAA helicopter license, all she needs to do is some refresher training in a new civilian helicopter.
    “I couldn’t get to this point without doing the fixed wing rating first,” she said.
    Duckworth was appointed to the head of the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, where she directs VA public affairs, internal communications and intergovernmental relations. She also oversees programs for homeless veterans, consumer affairs and special rehabilitative events.
    Although Duckworth works in Washington D.C., she remains a member of the Illinois Army National Guard.
    Duckworth has become an inspiration to many people, but said her inspiration are the crew members that helped save her life.
    “Not a day goes by that I don’t say thanks for my crew and their heroic effort in saving my life,” she said. “I wake up every day knowing that I have to live a life worthy of their actions.”
    Duckworth was the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs in 2006. Under her leadership, Illinois has implemented several new programs to help veterans when returning from deployment.
    “She is an example to others not to give up on anything in life,” Negussie said. “Things are not always going to go your way, but anything is possible if you have the right attitude.”
     
  9. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    This is a rather long article but well worth the time to read.

    KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan (July 17, 2012) -- They're the crew no one wants to see take off.

    "A perfect deployment would be no missions," said Spc. Bryan Heaston, 30, of Lusby, Md.

    Nearly every time Heaston, a medevac crew chief serving on Forward Operating Base Shank, climbs into a Black Hawk and fastens his seat belt, he launches knowing someone is in pain -- and may be dying.

    "We always see the worst days for people," said Heaston. "Sometimes it's their best days when they all come together for a wounded friend, but it's generally the worst day of someone's life."

    Medevac operations are a roller coaster of emotions, swinging from hours of overwhelming boredom to explosions of frenzied activity every time the radio crackles "Medevac! Medevac! Medevac!"

    Plastic forks quickly fall to their Styrofoam takeout plates. Books drop. Boots pound the wood floor. Eight bodies are suddenly in motion, grabbing cases of medicine and weapons as they head out the door.

    "That's the worst part of this job," said Heaston, whose C Company, 3/82 medevac platoon supports Task Force Corsair, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. "It's the sitting around, knowing something might happen at any time, but you don't know what it's going to be or how serious."

    Traffic screeches to a halt on a dusty gravel road, Shank's main thoroughfare, as a ragged line of medics and pilots plunge across, each seeming to try and outrace the other. The quarter-mile sprint continues over fist-sized, unstable rocks to the airfield, then down the long runway to an awaiting aircraft. It's a fast-paced, but well-choreographed symphony of pre-laid-out vests and equipment slapping against bodies.

    The rip-tear of Velcro and jingling buckles on flight vests snapping home in rapid succession pierce the solitude blanketing the helipad, just as the auxiliary power unit and huge General Electric T-700 turbine engines begin their ear-piercing screams.

    Moments later, 54-feet of rotor blades chop the air, drowning out everything except the sound of radio calls in the crews' headsets. Amid the adrenaline-driven actions, each member of the crew runs down an internal checklist, mentally and physically preparing for what they're all about to head in to. Oftentimes, however, medevac crews don't know.

    "That's the thing that's interesting about this job," said Heaston. "Once you get a POI [point-of-injury] call, you have no clue what you're getting into until you're there. They're all different. We've been all over this area of Afghanistan -- farmers' fields, highways -- you name it, we've been there."

    On an evening quickly fading to darkness, Forward Operating Base Shank medevac birds are headed to pick up the victim of an improvised explosive device, or IED, blast near a small combat outpost in Wardak province.

    In the back of a helicopter being tossed seemingly in every direction all at once by heavy winds whipping over mountains so close to the bird it seems like passengers in the helicopter could touch them, Staff Sgt. Erin Gibson, 31, a flight medic, sets up monitors and IV bags, readying herself for whatever may come her way.

    "You kind of just hope for the best and prepare for the worst," said Gibson, of Covington, Ohio. "If it's somebody who has uncontrolled bleeding, I try to get all my bandages and stuff together and get IVs hung, just in case they haven't gotten any yet. I just try to mentally prepare like that."

    In the near-darkness, mountaintops fly by. Medevac pilots push their aircraft harder than the usual Black Hawk cruises. Every moment that elapses between them and their injured comrade takes with it the precious gift of time.

    "You are literally racing for someone's life," said 1st Lt. June Ciaramitaro, 26, of Fort Worth, Texas. "On an urgent medevac, you're going to pull as much as you can. Usually you'll go in to a 30-minute TGT [tubine gas temperature] limit, so the engine can only be at a certain temperature for 30 minutes. We go as fast as we can to get there, then based on what the medic's analysis is, we'll still pull as much as we can to get back if we need to."

    As the bird touches down on a small landing area, four U.S. Soldiers crouch under the whirling blades, each bearing a corner of the stretcher carrying their fallen brother. A massive man lies on it covered in blankets and bandages, his arms interlaced across his abdomen; his wrists are secured together with a green U.S. Army issue sock.

    "He had a head injury," said Gibson, "so they tied his hands together so they wouldn't be flopping around or flailing, trying to hit people."

    Gibson goes to work. The inside of the helicopter is now pitch black, except for the faint glow of the bird's instrument panel. The flashlight on Gibson's head bounds back and forth across the cabin, which is tightly-packed with medical equipment of all kinds. A glimpse of her gloves feeling the Soldier's chest. A flash on an IV bag. A small glimpse of a heavily bandaged face as she leans in to reassure her patient. Tousled strands of Gibson's blonde hair glow in the white light of her headlamp; blue eyes gauge the wounded soldier's reactions just a few inches from his face.

    "I just hope by leaning over his ear and telling him what I'm doing he'll understand," said Gibson. "He might not like what I'm doing, and it might not feel good, but it's for his benefit, to make him feel better."

    He's wounded in multiple places. Gibson doesn't know the extent of the horror which had recently unfolded to land this Soldier in her helicopter as she frantically works to start an IV and assess which wounds to begin treating first. Her patient is the only survivor of an IED blast that killed the other six passengers of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle, or MRAP, he was riding in. For now, the only thing that matters is the patient in front of her.

    "The only thing on my mind is I have to do what it takes to make him feel better, and I can't let myself get side-tracked or start thinking about other things," said Gibson. "You kind of have to put the blinders on and stay mission-focused. You can't let that other stuff bother you, or it affects what you're doing for the patient."

    As the helicopter vibrates, rattles, and sways under a buffeting of heavy winds, Gibson tries to start an IV in the soldier's hand -- the only place he's not injured. Even with hands that have done this many times before, she can't get what she needs. She moves to his leg, and affixes a needle to what looks like a little, black handheld drill. She pulls back the space blanket covering the Soldier, examines his femur for a moment, then presses down. She's starting an intraosseous infusion, drilling straight into the bone to deliver fluids through the marrow.

    "I had to put that line into his leg so I could push pain medication, because the line that I started in his hand wasn't dripping fast enough," she explains.

    Her patient doesn't even flinch until she irrigates the IV, pushing liquid in to make a space in the marrow. Reacting to the pain, the huge Soldier breaks free of his head restraint and bolts upright, kicking at her with his other leg, instinctively trying to push her off. Only now does it become apparent how small Gibson's tiny 4-foot-11-inch frame is compared to her patient. Where most people have to crouch low to move about the bird, Gibson can almost stand upright.

    "I totally understand why he was doing that, because I'm sure it hurt really, really bad," said Gibson.

    Heaston, who had been virtually motionless in his seat, transfixed by Gibson's constant motion, leaps to hold the Soldier down and save his medic from becoming a casualty herself.

    "I've never seen anyone get drilled before," said Heaston. "I watched the drill go in, and thought, 'well, he handled that pretty well.' Once she started to flush and he sat up, I got over there and thought 'oh my God- his arms are bigger than my legs. How am I going to hold this guy down?'"

    Just as Heaston reaches the patient, the man passes out, his head cocked at a painful angle against the helicopter floor. Heaston delicately cradles the Soldier's head, gently placing it back between the yellow foam pads on the stretcher.

    Gibson doesn't miss a beat. She keeps moving, starting the IV and moving about the helicopter's cabin, seemingly engaged in a hundred careful tasks at once. She locates a needle, and then pushes drugs into the IV drip. As her patient comes back around, her face is inches from his, telling him everything is going to be all right.

    "Once he settled down and I finished what I was doing, I just leaned over and explained to him what I did and why I had to do it. I think after that, he was better," she said.

    Gibson said it's that perfect moment she can lean over and explain what she's doing she most hopes for.

    "You want them to know you're doing everything you can to make them feel better -- to take away the pain," said Gibson, "and to reassure them they're on their way to the hospital, and the doctors there are going to do everything they can to give them the best possible outcome."

    In the front of the cockpit, pilots bear forward, focused on the task in front of them, leaving the scene in back to the medic and crew chief helping the patient. Medevac pilots seem to have a universal rule.

    "They've told me to never look back," said Maj. Cory Fass, 32, of Center, N.D. Fass wasn't at the stick for this mission, but flew the next night with an Afghan patient who had been seriously wounded by shrapnel.

    "I never look back there," said Fass. "Like last night, there wasn't anything bad going on back there, but they told me he was still bleeding, so I kept my eyes forward. There was no way I could look back."

    Just a few minutes later, the few dim lights of FOB Shank appear off to the right, approaching at extraordinary speed. In seconds, the rear wheel of the helicopter gently kisses the concrete and the front follow in feather-light unison.

    "When I land, I never think about the guy in back," said Fass. "If I start thinking about what's going on back there, and how I'm going to land because of him, then I may not do it correctly. You want to make every landing perfect."

    Head and chest injuries, though, bring new dimensions most pilots don't have to deal with, especially when you have to cross multiple ridgelines in the mountainous region of eastern Afghanistan.

    "If it's a head or chest injury, we try not to climb or descend very quickly enroute," said Ciaramitaro. "We try to keep it at 500 feet-per-minute or less, because the change in altitude can affect their head or chest area, their lungs. It makes it a little more difficult."

    Heaston quickly throws the sliding door back as five or six Soldiers, each wearing blue rubber gloves, emerge from behind a barrier wall in the murky darkness, crouch-sprinting to the helicopter. Now amid a tangle of IV and oxygen lines, it takes a second to maneuver the heavy stretcher in the dark cabin and get the patient out. He's quickly hurried off the helipad and disappears into the darkness.

    Gibson follows the crew just to the barrier wall at the edge of the pad, and returns a few moments later. With her same measured frenzy, she quickly collects a mess of wrappers and plastic caps littering the cabin floor. Then suddenly, as she settles into her seat, she's perfectly still. Another call is done, and she's back talking to the pilots as if nothing had happened.

    "It's just one of those things," said Gibson. "You can't let every scenario personally affect you, or else your job's really going to get to you and it's going to be harder for you to do. I mean, to some extent, it's going to, but you just have to kind of compartmentalize, and as soon as you take him to the FST (hospital), you know he's in the best hands he can be in, and you've just got to kind of let that be the end of it. You have to put your focus back on putting your aircraft together and getting ready for the next mission, should it come."

    Resembling the final scenes of an action-packed play, the aircrew goes through the process of turning knobs and flicking switches to shut down their bird. Meanwhile, Heaston and Gibson re-organize the jumble of equipment packed just about anywhere it fits in the helicopter cabin in preparation for the next call. Once complete with their post-flight chores, they begin their speechless, somber walk under a sea of stars in a moon-less sky, a far cry from the frenzied race to spin up their bird less than an hour before.

    Inside the wood shack that functions as a combination command post, lounge, office, operations center and storage facility, the television is on, still playing the same DVD that had been playing when the crew took off. The stench of grease and gravy rises from half-eaten meals. Heaston flops on a worn faux-black-leather couch, opens his green Army-issue laptop to begin filling out maintenance reports, and "Medevac! Medevac! Medevac!" The radio begins a night-time stampede out the door again,

    Crews at Shank are on duty for 24-hour periods. This time, Gibson comes back with blood on her boots and uniform. The toe of her right boot is solid crimson. The next morning, the blood is still there. She's wearing the same clothes. She slept in her uniform waiting for the next call.

    "Usually with those urgent medevacs in the middle of the night, when you're half-asleep, it's a lot better to sleep in most of your uniform so you don't have to reach for things in the dark, knock things over, or trip over things," said Gibson. "You're putting yourself in more danger by doing that. All I have to do is grab my top and my weapon and run out the door."

    Medevac crews in Afghanistan are available any time a Soldier is in trouble. FOB Shank's average time to get from being completely asleep to airborne is just eight minutes -- six minutes during the day. It's often a mad dash in the dead of night.

    "We go from dead asleep to flying in our most dangerous mode of flight in just eight minutes, so you have to get your 'A' game on really quickly," said Ciaramitaro. "Even when your radio breaks squelch in the middle of the night, your heart races. Even if you're not on duty and someone else's radio goes off, your heart races, and that interrupts your sleep no matter what."

    It's a call no one wants to hear, but helping a wounded Soldier on the battlefield is the only thing that matters to medevac crews.

    "It's something you always dread," said Gibson. "But when it comes, it comes. I'm always here to do my job, no matter what time of day or night it is. Sometimes I think, 'It's three in the morning, why am I running to a helicopter?' But that's our job, and you just get out and you do it."

    The following day, the waiting begins again. Hours and hours of boredom pass as crews wait to rescue a Soldier on the worst day of his or her life. It's a constant cycle of waiting for the worst, doing their best, and starting the cycle all over again.

    "I can't say it doesn't affect me sometimes, and if you ask any of us, they'd probably tell you the same thing," said Gibson. "That's when it helps to have your peers around that you can sit and talk to and get support from, because they understand what's going on and what you're going through. We have a pretty good support group down here."

    The redemption from all that stress comes from knowing what they do matters. Since their arrival late last year, 82nd CAB Medevac units in Regional Command-East have treated more than 3,400 patients.

    Gibson's patient, the massive Soldier she cared for in the helicopter, survives. He's been sent home from Afghanistan to complete his treatment in the United States.

    Ciaramitaro said while the medevac unit itself seems to get all the glory for saving lives, it takes a concerted effort across Task Force Corsair to get each one of those patients to safety. From AH-64 Apaches providing security to fuelers and maintainers keeping birds in the air, to air traffic control clearing Shank's busy airspace when an urgent call comes in, everyone plays a part.

    "Every single person in our unit cares so much about the mission," said Ciaramitaro. "Every day you know you made an impact on someone's life. It's amazing to be able to feel that way."

    The six soldiers mentioned above;

    They died July 8, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit in Maidan Shahr, Wardak province, Afghanistan, with an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 978th Military Police Company, 93rd Military Police Battalion, Fort Bliss, Texas.
    Killed were:
    Staff Sgt. Ricardo Seija, 31, of Tampa, Fla.,
    Spc. Erica P. Alecksen, 21, of Eatonton, Ga.,
    Spc. Clarence Williams III, 23, of Brooksville, Fla.,
    Pfc. Trevor B. Adkins, 21, of Spring Lake, N.C.,
    Pfc. Alejandro J. Pardo, 21, of Porterville, Calif., and
    Pfc. Cameron J. Stambaugh, 20, of Spring Grove, Pa.

    Best Soldiers for the worst days: Medevac crews in Afghanistan save lives day, night | Article | The United States Army


    Defense.gov News Release: DOD Identifies Army Casualties
     
  10. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    by Staff Sgt. Angela Ruiz
    6th Mobility Wing Public Affairs

    7/20/2012 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- The Hillsborough County Sheriff's office, in Florida, in partnership with members of MacDill Air Force Base, conducted a fallen hero's dignified transfer here for the second day in a row July 18.

    Over the years, service members have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and, since 2009, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department has made it their responsibility to see that all fallen heroes returning home are met by fellow brothers-in-arms and are honorably escorted to their final resting place.

    The Sheriff's office has conducted more than 14 of these honorable escorts.

    When the fallen heroes land on the flightline, this bittersweet reunion is the first their families will have with their loved one since they departed for their deployment. The sheriff's office supports the families in their grieving process by providing a minimum of 20 motorcycle deputies and six support vehicles to escort them in the procession.

    The sheriff's office coordinates with multiple agencies in the state depending on where the hero will be laid to rest, making their last ride home an honorable one. For Army Spc. Clarence Williams III and Army Staff Sgt. Ricardo Seija, the most recent heroes escorted home, the sheriff's office cleared a path through four county lines.

    Williams a native of Brooksville, Fla. and Seija a native of Tampa Fla., died July 8, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit in Maidan Shahr, Wardak province, Afghanistan, with an improvised explosive device.

    "This is a service that we provide only if the family wishes, and we've never had a family not accept the offer" said J.D. Callaway, Director of Community Affairs, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    For Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee, who's proudly served the sheriff's department for over 35 years and is a parent to a military member who has served two tours in Afghanistan, providing this service is very close to his heart.

    "I think that it's important that our office and our community recognize that there is a real price being paid " said Gee, "These are real people with real families that are affected, we're not ever going to let one of these service members come home without being paid a great honor for the sacrifice that they've made."

    As the procession departs the flightline, the streets are silent, lined with service members standing at attention and rendering a final salute. Traveling through the city of Tampa people wave their flags, hold their right hand over their hearts and make signs to show their sympathy while the local fire departments, port authority and even helicopters line the path showing support in their own unique way while also securing a safe path with the motorcycle riders who drive ahead to stop traffic.

    For the deputies that volunteer to conduct this honorable detail, some memories will stay with them forever.

    "Once we escorted a fallen hero out to a funeral home; he had two young children, and our honor guard had the honor of carrying the fallen hero from the hearse that day," Callaway said. "As the widow and children watched the honor guard carry the flag draped casket past them, the little boy looked up at his mother and said, 'Is that daddy?' That one I'll never forget."

    The sheriff's department provides every fallen hero's honorable escort free of charge to the families. They also produce a video of the procession for the families and the general public.

    "The families really cherish those [videos]. I've had a lot of families call me and tell me how much they appreciate it. Sometimes they don't even remember the day" Gee said. "We're doing this because it needs to be done and we have the ability. But it's the community, that's what makes it special for the families to see the community come out. We see ourselves as the facilitators of that."
    Florida sheriffs give 'fallen heroes' last ride home
     
  11. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Major Tammy Duckworth is a LEGEND. Her story serves to demonstrate that gender specifics in military affairs are a thing of the past, and that even the worst injuries can be made to work in your favour with the right path back.

    Tammy Duckworth for Chief of Staff, please.

    Tammy should run for office. This inspirational woman deserves to show us all how it is done from the top down.

    GO Major Duckworth!
     
  12. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    Hey Volga! Become an Illinois citizen and you CAN vote for her! Tammy Duckworth for Congress - Tammy Duckworth for Congress
    As usual the negative attitudes are getting the "air-time" (I think her opponent is jealous as Hell). This is one contest I'd have no hesitation and actually vote FOR a candidate.

    Aw, just show up and vote!
     
  13. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Patron  

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    I would vote for her, too if I lived in her district. She is a "true hero"..
     
  14. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    I can also attest she is a genuinely Nice person! Not bombastic and egotistic. I hope Illinois wakes up and allows her to 'serve' again. Okay, I'll stop before we get ejected to the Stump.






    But I WOULD VOTE FOR HER!
     
  15. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron  

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    "An Equipment and Logistics news article 23 Jul 12

    The Ministry of Defence has signed a multi-million pound contract for new boots for the Army, Royal Navy and RAF.
    Armed Forces personnel will receive a new range of brown combat boots to replace the black and desert combat footwear they currently wear.

    As part of a contract worth £80m, troops will have the choice of wearing five different boots depending on where they are based and what job they are doing. The five types available are:
    • Desert Combat – worn by dismounted troops conducting high levels of activity in desert environments exceeding 40 degrees Celsius
    • Desert Patrol – worn by mounted troops, typically drivers/armoured troops conducting lower levels of activity in desert environments exceeding 40 degrees Celsius
    • Temperate Combat – worn by dismounted troops for high levels of activity in temperate climates
    • Patrol – worn by mounted troops, typically drivers/armoured troops conducting lower levels of activity in temperate climates
    • Cold Wet Weather – worn by dismounted troops for high levels of activity in temperatures down to minus 20 degrees Celsius.
    Each of the five boot types comes in two different styles, so personnel can wear whichever one is more comfortable for them."
    Ministry of Defence | Defence News | Equipment and Logistics | Deal signed for new combat boots
     
  16. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    World War II veteran, hero receives medals 67 years after heroic acts | Article | The United States Army

    FORT CARSON, Colo. (July 19, 2012) -- John Krajeski says he is finally at peace.

    "I think I sleep better at night, now," he said, chuckling. "I wanted at least this recognition. It was something I needed to do before I went to my grave."

    For years, Krajeski, 86, had been trying to receive the Silver Star and Bronze Star medals he had been promised 67 years earlier after performing heroic actions on the island of Okinawa, Japan.

    His lieutenant wrote up the paperwork for the citation, but Krajeski stored it in a duffel bag with the rest of his Army paperwork. The bag remained in his mother's basement until 1980 when Krajeski found it while helping his mother move.

    "I promised myself that I would follow up on that. I didn't really pay attention on following up on it until (2006)," he said.

    More than 60 years after the original citation was written, Krajeski began his quest to receive the medals, writing hundreds of letters and emails and making dozens of phone calls to members of Congress and officials within the Army.

    "I wrote to all the senators, but they all said they couldn't help me," he said. "That hurt my feelings, badly."

    Government and military officials said Krajeski's records burned in the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.

    Armed only with the citation from his duffel bag, Krajeski continued in his pursuit, finding help from an organization based in Washington, D.C.

    "I wish I knew exactly what was pushing me," Krajeski said. "It was so important to me. I was going to stay with it until I couldn't breathe anymore. I wanted at least this recognition."

    In a formal ceremony, July 11, at the 4th Infantry Division headquarters, Krajeski was pinned with the honors by Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commanding general, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson.

    "It's guys like (Krajeski), that's why we are the greatest country," Anderson said during the ceremony. "Most of our heroes who earn these awards say, 'I was just doing my job,' and I know he would say the same thing. Today is about recognizing bravery and courage."

    Dressed in his Eisenhower wool uniform, Krajeski took the stage. When the attention to orders was called, Krajeski stood as straight and tall as he could. His hands remained open, unable to close into fists due to myasthenia gravis -- a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes debilitating muscle weakness.

    As Anderson clipped the medals to his lapel, Krajeski's face filled with emotion.

    "It's such a wonderful honor," he said.

    THREE MIRACLES

    Krajeski said he experienced three miracles throughout his time as a private with the 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Inf. Div.

    The first came after he fell into the ocean trying to navigate across the boats after landing at Okinawa.

    "I had all my combat items on plus all kinds of heavy things like throwing grenades," he said.
    As he started to sink, Krajeski said he grabbed hold of a piece of netting that hung 15 feet below the boat deck.

    "I was able to grab those nettings and come crawling up like a squirrel or a monkey and I just got out before those boats crashed back together again."

    Another miracle occurred after a bomb landed in his foxhole.

    "It hit 20 inches in front of me," he said. "I heard it come bump, bump, bump down into my hole, but it didn't explode. It was a dud."

    The third miracle came June 10, 1945, two weeks after Krajeski celebrated his 19th birthday.

    After months of intense fighting on Okinawa, Soldiers knew the key to capturing the island rested with the destroying of a single cave from which Japanese soldiers fought.

    American troops made repeated attempts to claim the territory, but were forced to retreat four days in a row to their morning foxholes, Krajeski said.

    "They asked for someone to volunteer to blow up that cave and I hesitated a long time, but no one would help, so I got a friend of mine from another company and we volunteered to blow up that cave."

    Armed with their weapons and 100 pounds of TNT, Krajeski and another Soldier made their way across the hills to the bottom of an escarpment below the mouth of the cave.

    "We had about an hour and a half or two hours of steady walking and being careful, from where our people were, to get to this escarpment," he said. "We kept whispering what we got to do and what we're going to do. When we finally got there, we made an agreement. We are not going to make any mistakes; we're not going to do anything too fast; we're not gonna try and be heroes; we're going to be careful."

    As the two Soldiers made their way up the escarpment, shattered coral on the hillside cut into their hands and feet.

    "We bled all the way to the top," Krajeski said.

    Just below the top of the escarpment, Krajeski and his companion waited.

    "We must have been there one to two hours, and what we would whisper to each other was 'Don't do any noise. Don't sneeze; don't do anything. If you have to go potty, you go in your pants.'

    "It was so tense, you just could not function. You dare not make one sound or they would be down on you. Over the hour, hour-and-a-half period that we were huddled there, we didn't say very much. We actually touched once in a while to give ourselves a little feeling that we're not alone."

    As the Japanese continued to mill above them near the entrance to the cave, Krajeski's third miracle occurred.

    "We had light flares from the boats off in the sea. They shut them off for (the mission)," he said. "About three or four hours up on that escarpment, waiting for those Japanese to go to bed, the good lord or a drunken sailor pushed a button, and a night flare came up immediately over the top of us. It couldn't have been placed better."

    Krajeski said the Japanese rushed into the cave, fearing an attack. Krajeski and the other Soldier rushed up the hillside, heaving their TNT into the cave.

    "When that bomb goes off -- 50-100 pounds of TNT -- it was a horrendous blow," he said. "It blew those big rocks up in the air, and we heard them coming down. If one had hit us on the head we wouldn't be here today. It was something to remember. It's something that sticks with you."

    The two Soldiers ran back to the beach where they were greeted by their comrades.

    "My lieutenant, I don't think he expected to see me come back," Krajeski said. "He wrote the (citation) up the next day."

    Because they were able to blow up the cave, Krajeski said U.S. troops pushed past the Japanese and eventually overtook the island.

    "That was the last major fight that we had to get land to get the Japanese back. It was very important," he said. "After we broke through on that, it only took us a month of much easier fighting the rest of the way to the end of the island."

    RECOGNITION

    As he's aged, names of the men he served with elude Krajeski.

    He can't remember the name of the Soldier who stood by his side throughout the mission to the cave.

    "I called him 'Shorty' instead of his real name," he said. "For some reason his name just drifted away from me over the years."

    Although he doesn't recall the Soldier's name, Krajeski remembers his demeanor and commitment to the mission.

    "He was the kind of guy who didn't panic when we got up in that terrible land," he said. "We had to be quiet and had to sit there and wait for the Japanese to settle in. He didn't spook too badly. Some kids would have really fallen apart like that."

    After the war, Krajeski returned home to Nebraska. He left the Army as a master sergeant, enrolled in the journalism program at the University of Nebraska, and reunited with his childhood friend, Darlene Mecham.

    "I knew where her apartment was, and I went to knock on her door," Krajeski said. "Instead of (a) big hug or something she stood there. I said, 'Lady, could you spare a crust of dry bread for an old Soldier?' And she closed the door. I stood there a moment. She came back and opened the door and handed me a dry crust of bread. It only took us six months after that."

    John and Darlene Krajeski married in 1948. For three years they ran a newspaper in Nebraska, before heading to Colorado to stake claim on soil John Krajeski said was rich with uranium. But John Krajeski's myasthenia gravis took hold and he couldn't work due to his condition.

    Darlene Krajeski worked as a nurse while her husband stayed home and raised their children.

    Despite his heroics, John Krajeski rarely discussed the war.

    "He never mentioned this for years," Darlene Krajeski said. "Once in a while he would bring up something that would happen in the service, but he never would talk about it."

    It wasn't until 2006 that John Krajeski said he felt compelled to receive the medals he'd earned.

    "Ordinarily, a 19-year-old boy and another 19-year-old boy, we shouldn't have been there. It was ridiculous and anybody who had experience wouldn't even consider going up there at night to do that," he said. "The Silver Star, it represents that the particular person that gets the star has done something above and beyond the call of duty.

    "Now that I have it," he said, "I feel honored and at peace."
     
  17. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    [h=3]Korean War Vet’s Memories Vivid of Time Spent as POW[/h] By Terri Moon Cronk
    American Forces Press Service
    WASHINGTON, July 24, 2012 – When infantryman David Mills joined the Army on his 17th birthday and was sent to fight in the Korean War, his mission was to hold Outpost Harry “at all costs.”

    Mills, now 76, says those orders came from 8th Army on April 2, 1953, to stave off enemy Chinese troops from the strategically placed outpost in the Iron Triangle, about 50 miles from Seoul at the 38th parallel, which divided North and South Korea. The outpost was close to Chinese lines.

    The Chinese had “an affinity” for Outpost Harry, said Mills, a member of Company F, 15th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division.
    “They came to ‘visit’ us often and fought ferociously,” he said. “They tried [several times] to take it. Had it fallen, with its high elevation, it would’ve made it difficult for the main line of resistance to remain where it was. [We] perhaps would’ve had to withdraw as far back as Seoul, which no doubt would have extended the war for quite some time.”
    It was unlikely the United States would have accepted a cease fire with the capital of South Korea under Chinese control at that time, he added, so it was important for American troops to hold the outpost’s position.

    But on April 24, Chinese troops nearly took Outpost Harry.
    “We had 88 men holding the outpost,” he said. “The attack was ferocious. We were overrun. Hand-to-hand fighting occurred in all of the trenches, and very heavy losses were suffered on both sides.”
    The forward observer from the 39th Field Artillery called for backup artillery to stop the attack, which was successful, he said.
    But things didn’t turn out as well that day for Mills, who received nine wounds -- two in the head, six in the leg and one in the left arm.
    During what Mills described as very close fighting with hand grenades and bayonets, his weapon overheated and became inoperable. While searching for another, he crawled on his stomach to the entrance of a bunker about 30 yards away.
    “Nobody was in there,” he said. “I reached in to grab a rifle, and I felt something poke me in my back. I backed out very slowly and turned over, and was looking at the muzzle of a Russian-made submachine gun.”
    Three Chinese soldiers stood over him, Mills said. One held the gun, and the other two carried six grenades each, three on each side of their chests, he said.
    “I thought I was going to die,” Mills recalled reciting a short prayer as he looked up at the barrel of the weapon.
    “I was ready to die,” he said. “Then I had an immediate second thought. I was 17 years old, and I thought, ‘How are my parents going to take this?’ And I thought, maybe, I could get the weapon away from that soldier, and kill all three of them. Then I had a rational thought: He had his finger on the trigger and the likelihood of me being successful was rather slim. I lay there until they picked me up.”
    As the captors walked him to a Chinese camp, Mills saw the dead everywhere. “There were many Americans, but many more Chinese,” he said.
    As the soldiers roughed him up and forced him down hilly terrain, Mills said he felt no pain and wasn’t aware he was wounded.
    “Each time we got to the top of a rise, they’d hit me between the shoulder blades with the butt of the weapon, and I’d go tumbling down the hill. After the third time, my leg felt funny and I had difficulty maintaining balance,” Mills recalled. It was when he felt blood running down his neck that he knew he’d been hit.
    “Eventually, I half-crawled and was half-dragged to a cave, in which I spent the first night of my captivity,” he said.
    Mills found himself next to a Chinese soldier who had three bullet holes in his stomach.
    “I could hear bubbles as the air escaped [from his wounds],” he said. “He died during the night.”
    The next morning, the Chinese soldiers took Mills from the cave and repeatedly prodded him with a rifle to make him walk up a road, but by then he was in such pain from his injuries, he couldn’t walk.
    “They pointed to a rock for me to sit down on, went around the corner,” Mills said. “I thought I was going to be executed.”
    Instead, he said, four Chinese soldiers came around the corner with a stretcher, put him on it and carried him for seven days to a place Mills estimated to be 30 to 50 miles behind the lines.
    “I was placed in a dungeon not high enough for me to stand, or long enough for me to stretch out straight,” he said. He couldn’t eat for two weeks. Knowing he would die of starvation otherwise, Mills said he forced himself to eat.
    Rain poured into the dungeon. “I spent a lot of my time snapping the backs off lice,” Mills said of his confinement. “My leg hurt so bad, I asked them to cut it off. They sent someone to look at it. I don’t know if he was a doctor … he just looked at it, and [now] I’m glad they didn’t acquiesce to my request.”
    After enough prisoners of war to fill an army truck were brought in, they were taken to a prisoner camp, Mills said. Still not treated for his wounds, with bullets and shrapnel intact, Mills said he was not made to do hard labor like the other prisoners.
    During his four-month captivity “the 15th Infantry Regiment with its company-sized outpost decimated the entire 74th Chinese Infantry Division, killing more than 5,000 of them,” Mills said. “There were very heavy American losses, but we held that hill.”
    Four months to the day after he was taken prisoner, the Chinese repatriated Mills and the other POWs on Aug. 24, 1953. His family didn’t know he was alive, Mills said, and initially were told he was killed in action. Mills said he has copies of his two published obituaries.
    Reflecting on that April day in 1953 when the outpost was attacked, Mills said he was the last soldier, U.S. or Chinese, on the hill firing a weapon.
    “I’ve often wondered if I was captured with an empty gun,” he said.
    He also thought he was likely the only survivor of the attack, until decades later when he found the Outpost Harry Survivors Association and similar groups.
    For being wounded during combat Mills received the Purple Heart, but it took 57 years, because of omissions in his paperwork, he said. Mills said his initial discharge papers indicated he’d served overseas, but they didn’t say where, and didn’t note that he’d been wounded, had served in combat, or been taken as a POW.
    Knowing he was eligible for the Purple Heart, Mills’ daughter set out to find and correct her father’s records.
    After hearing his records likely had burned in a fire in a St. Louis military repository, Mills’ papers were found archived in Philadelphia.
    The paperwork was corrected, and the award was approved in nine short days, Mills said. Then-Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli presented Mills with his Purple Heart in 2010.
    “To receive [the Purple Heart] from General Chiarelli was worth the wait,” Mills said.
    Although the Korean War is sometimes called “The Forgotten War,” Mills said that was not his experience. Upon his enlistment in the Army, Mills recalled that he “wanted to see the world.”
    “And I did. A small part of it,” he said.

    Defense.gov News Article: Korean War Vet
     
  18. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron  

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    Psst! Wanna buy a Kalashnikov?! :D
    "The Bushmaster M4 is a 3-foot rifle capable of firing thirty 5.56×45mm NATO rounds, and used by spec ops forces throughout Afghanistan. It's a serious weapon. But in the Internet's darkest black market, it's all yours. Who needs a background check? Nobody.The Armory began as an offshoot of The Silk Road, notable as the Internet's foremost open drug bazaar, where anything from heroin and meth to Vicodin and pot can be picked out and purchased like a criminal Amazon.com. It's virtually impossible to trace, and entirely anonymous. But apparently guns were a little too hot for The Silk Road's admins, who broke the site off from the main narcotics carnival. Now guns, ammo, explosives, and more have their own shadowy home online, far from the piles of Dutch coke and American meth. But the same rules apply: with nothing more than money and a little online savoir faire, you can buy extremely powerful, deadly weapons—Glocks, Berettas, PPKs, AK-47s, Bushmaster rifles, even a grenade—in secret, shipped anywhere in the world."
    The Secret Online Weapons Store That'll Sell Anyone Anything
     
  19. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    Another rather long but well worth the time one.

    Commentary - Flashbacks of war: Remembering Red Sand
    Commentary by Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace
    100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

    8/1/2012 - ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England (AFNS) -- (Editor's note: This is the first in a two-part commentary. Read "Help arrives in my darkest hour" on Aug. 2 and learn how Wallace sought and received help.)

    Like many, I was prepared to lay down my life for my country each time I shipped off to war. There were a few times when I genuinely believed the cost would be my life, but, sadly it's turned out to be much more.

    The sacrifices paid in combat can't be quantified in dollars or time, but are counted in tears shed by those who love and support us while we're downrange or healing back at home.

    I'm an Air Force Wounded Warrior, a purple heart recipient, and not ashamed to admit it.

    On the outside I look just like any other Airman and relish in that. However, something nearly always feels different. I'm typically withdrawn and emotionally numb.

    I've adapted and am learning to live like that.

    A respected colleague of mine and someone I consider a friend advised me to try to put my feelings down into words, to share this experience.

    So taking the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs functional manager Chief Master Sgt. Tyler Foster's advice, I've done just that and will recount one particular mission, as I remember Operation Red Sand.

    A group of scouts, their medic, a Navy combat cameraman and I set out by foot April 2, 2011, into areas far north in the Bala Murghab (BMG) Valley, Badghis Province, Afghanistan.

    We ventured further than coalition forces had ever gone, and spent the night reconning villages, plotting locations and fighting positions for ourselves, and anticipating enemy locations and contact.

    It was a rough night, but paled in comparison with what was soon to follow.

    The next night, the same scouts from Red Platoon, Bulldog Troop, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, Navy dog handler Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Lee, his bomb dog 'Valdo,' a handful of Afghan National Army soldiers, Petty Officer 1st Class John Pearl and I returned.

    This time we went to secure an area of ruins central to the location where we could operate patrols in known insurgent areas, and egress by riverbed if needed.

    After securing the ruins in a field just outside Kamisari Village, we dug in fighting positions and fortified the eroded walls and doorways with sandbags, all under the cover of darkness. We also patrolled the nearby Kamisari and Joy Gange villages, looking for evidence of mines, improvised explosive devices or booby traps.

    At day break and without rest, we launched a patrol into a known insurgent hotbed and tried to convince locals to not support the insurgency and start supporting their government, with promises of a better life and development being made possible.

    Army 1st Lt. Joe Law, Red Platoon leader, assured the men that if they worked with the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, they would see bazaars and progress like that seen in central BMG.

    Unaccepting to Law's offers, the village elders became argumentative and accused our team wrongdoing and trespassing. Tension grew in the air as the villagers became visually upset, spitting and behaving in a way you rarely see in people who typically put a lot of stock into saving face and respect.

    Law ordered our team to move out.

    As we headed out of the village, around a dozen fighting-age men began to line rooftops, and we knew a battle would soon ensue.

    We headed back to our fortified ruins and dug our heels in for the inevitable battle that would find us.

    The ruins we established as Observation Post Reaper was eroded and roofless, and was basically a dilapidated, old three-room mud hut.

    I was in the western-most part of the ruins with scouts Sgt. Jeff Sheppard and Pfc. Ben Bradley. Pearl, Lee and Valdo were also in that room.

    The center room housed an Afghan National Army soldier, his platoon sergeant, our interpreter, Law, scout Sgt. Peter Nalesnik and Maj. Jonathan Lauer, an advisor from the 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, who was along for the mission.

    Three Afghan National Army soldiers, scout Spc. William Newland, medic Spc. Kellen West, and forward observer Spc. Dwayne Sims-Sparks were all in the eastern room.

    Soon we began to take small-arms fire, and we started to locate where they were attacking from and returned fire. Pearl was documenting the fight with video and I with still photos.

    From where I stood, I noticed Sheppard and Bradley immediately engage the Taliban and lay down suppressive fire. Most of the incoming fire was originating from a compound several hundred meters to our north. Insurgents were also using canals to our east and west to flank us.

    They were able to maneuver up and down the canals, spraying rounds at us at will from a wide array of cover locations. Almost immediately the fighting reached a level of intensity that forced me to lay down my camera and volley rounds back at the insurgents.

    A few minutes into the firefight, I watched in awe as, while my co-worker Pearl was shooting video, an insurgent hit three rounds near his head, walking each round closer than the next.

    I could hear several whizzing bullets passing very near to my face and body, and their sound is unforgettable. At a distance, they sounded like pops; near my position, they sounded more like loud cracks; and when they passed within inches of my ears, they sounded like a high-speed bullet train roaring by.

    The Taliban were bombarding us with AK-47 and a barrage of heavy machine gun (PKM) fire.

    As we fought, I could literally see the mud walls of our ruins being cut down by the incoming PKM fire.

    Sheppard called out to Pearl that he'd better move. At that point, Pearl grabbed his video camera and moved into the next room. Our room was the smallest of them all, not well fortified and we were taking one hell of a beating.

    The firefight continued for a few hours and we were literally pinned down and under attack from the compound and both canals.

    We needed a mortar mission or close-air support desperately as we were severely outgunned, had minimal cover in the ruins and field, and the insurgent force attacking us was growing very quickly.

    Italian Army soldiers from Forward Operating Base Todd began laying mortar fire into the field west of where most the insurgents were attacking. The first mortar hit about 25 meters from my position.

    Each falling mortar shook the ground like an enormous bass drum, rattling my bones and soul. The first mortar stunned me for a moment, then coming out of the haze I joined Sheppard and Bradley, calling out mortar positions to Law. Under Sims-Spark's directions, mortars moved closer and closer to the target.

    The enemy assault grew in intensity and I recall wondering if we'd make it out alive. Our 15-man team seemed doomed.

    Still, Law kept working the close air support mission and, despite the dangerously close proximity to which bullets were impacting, I could see Sheppard and Bradley keep fighting. It was inspiring!

    Law was calling on someone to verify no insurgents were approaching from our south. I remember thinking that in order to see over the southern wall, I would have to run through a hail of enemy AK and PKM fire, jump up to grapple the top of the wall and peer over.

    Shaking and petrified, I garnered the courage and ran through the barrage of bullets and verified, indeed we didn't have any surprises coming to attack us from the rear.

    When I raced back to the front of the room and returned scanning the western canal, Sheppard shouted at me to stay down. I knew any dumb move would burden my team in that they'd have to carry my mangled body off that field. Still, keeping insurgents off our rear was worth the risk.

    Through panic and impending doom, the scout team kept their focus and wits about them, and we all continued to fight our hardest.

    Law called out to check the south again. This time, without giving it too much thought, I checked the rear.

    With each dash to the southern wall, my heart skipped beats and rounds bounced near my body and face. I could taste their proximity as dirt peppered my face.

    The fighting went on and continued to intensify. Sheppard was keeping the insurgents out of the river beds by launching grenades and one of our Afghan National Army soldiers hit the compound center mass with a precisely aimed RPG.

    No matter how hard we fought, they were growing in mass and their attacks were intensifying. It was clear they did not want us to set up a fire base in their backyard.

    Our room continued getting pounded and we soon found ourselves taking three RPGs back to back, nearly destroying our northern defenses. Sheppard knew it was time to move and planned to lay down squad-automatic weapon fire to cover movement to the next room and he'd soon follow.

    Before he had the chance to do so, the insurgents shot an RPG straight through the makeshift doorway in the front of our ruins, and I watched, as if in slow motion, as the grenade went straight over Bradley's head, skimmed within inches of my face and impacted the ground a few feet behind me.

    When the grenade exploded I was thrown into the front wall and saw nothing but sharp white light. I couldn't smell, feel, see, and couldn't comprehend what was going on for moments ... then I heard clear as day, Sheppard screaming, "Medic! Medic! Medic! We need a medic! Get down here, West!"

    I stumbled and regained my footing and found that I had all extremities and knowing Lee was dead, shuttered to look back. When I did, I learned he was alive, but Valdo was in really bad shape.

    The RPG struck right behind Valdo and the heroic dog took most of the blast. Lee seemed extremely concerned for his wounded shipmate Valdo, Sheppard had shrapnel to the front of his arm, Bradley had shrapnel in his leg, and I caught some in my upper back and also had a concussion.

    But we were all alive and while Lee and the West tended to Valdo, the rest of us continued to fight.

    Knowing the insurgents were dialed in on our position and that another direct RPG hit would kill the four of us, Law called for more mortar fire and close air support.

    An F-16 Fighting Falcon soon shrieked low and overhead, popping flares to scare the insurgents. A remote piloted vehicle pounded the compound with 30 mm cannons, and we egressed towards the canal.

    I didn't know it at the time, but soon learned that Nalesnik, Lauer and an Afghan National Army soldier were already in that canal, clearing our path forward.

    During the fog of the battle, I really only saw what was before me and around me. I knew Sheppard and Bradley were in the fight, I knew Law was leading us forward and calling in fire missions, I knew Lee was struggling with Valdo and that West was tending to wounds, but I had little knowledge of the vital parts the rest of the team was playing in the fight.

    I learned later that at one point, the Afghan National Army sergeant bravely tossed Newland down and covered him with his own body, to protect the young specialist from a barrage of PKM rounds. That's the type of heroism you see on movies but rarely witness first hand.

    Meanwhile, we battled our way into the canal and for two kilometers, we fought our way through sporadic small-arms fire.

    Pearl carried Valdo, our wounded shipmate, on his shoulders.

    I was behind Pearl in the canal and could see Valdo had a hole about the size of a Pepsi can in his intestine. Pearl was soaked in vomit and feces, but kept pushing forward, determined to get Valdo to the medevac site.

    Once we made it to a clearing, we found two Mine Resistant Ambush Protected all-Terrain Vehicles (Cougars) waiting for us, which Law had already coordinated.

    Even coming out of the canal was intense as we had to climb up about 9 feet, while the roots we grabbed would break away. I had about 200 of the 550 rounds I left with still on me, plus an AT-4 (anti-tank weapon), 9mm handgun, four grenades, camera gear, back-up camera gear, food, water and supplies - it was hard as hell to climb out of that canal.

    Once I got to the top, I quickly saw that the Cougars were under attack and were rocking their crew-serve automatic weapons at distant insurgents.

    We quickly crammed as many as we could inside the Cougars, others jumped in back, and we moved our wounded to Combat Outpost Metro for a medical air evacuation.

    Once we reached COP Metro, we found the COP was under attack and all our comrades who stayed behind during the mission were up on the walls engaging. West cared for Valdo and the rest of us, while more MRAPs arrived for a mounted re-assault toward Joy Gange Village.

    We got Valdo, Lee and Sheppard airborne, and West then treated Bradley and I.

    After being patched up, I was horrified to find that the mounted counter offensive left without me. I jumped in the back of an un-armored ANA Ranger about to ride back north but their movement was cancelled, so I hauled butt to the walls of COP Metro to man a sniper rifle, and provided over watch.

    I was pleasantly surprised to find Pearl already up there on a machine gun. He and I had been through much together on that deployment and for all my life, I'll truly consider him my brother.

    Bulldog Troop's first sergeant, 1st Sgt. David Dempsey, led a quick-reaction force and joined Red Platoon, and continued with mounted and foot patrols in the nearby villages, capturing and killing insurgents, destroying known compounds, capturing IED-making materials and destroying an IED-making facility.

    No further coalition forces were wounded in the engagement.

    An Air Force B-1 dropped four 38GBU bombs and Army close air support assisted with hellfire missiles and 30mm cannon support from the air.

    Italian Army soldiers supported with eight mortars from FOB Todd, and provided observation support from COP Chroma, which overlooked the engagement, and allowed them to accurately advise Army scouts on insurgent locations.

    In the end, we were all fine and ready for duty within days. Valdo was sent to a Role-2 hospital at Camp Arena, Herat, where he was stabilized by a team of doctors. Once stable, he was transferred to Kandahar Air Field, where a veterinarian could treat him.

    Until then, it had been an Army field medic, doctors and nurses who strayed from their 'human expertise' and did their best to patch up the canine.

    I'm not sure what became of Valdo and often wonder. As for the rest of the team, I keep in contact with nearly all of the Americans who fought at Operation Red Sand. I'm told the Army Combat Studies Institute will release part two of their Vanguard of Valor Book in the coming months, and that an entire chapter will be dedicated to Red Sand.

    Have I suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder?

    Perhaps.

    Though I know I'll continue to keep in touch with my team, I direly wish I could meet some of the insurgents whom we fought against at Red Sand. If I could, I'd plainly tell them this:

    You should have aimed your shots better, you should have fired your RPG with precision ... you should have pierced our hearts, but you didn't.

    No, your attempt on our lives failed. Our hearts still beat and they beat for your people, the people of the Murghab Valley whom you carelessly toss aside and grow fat from, as they continue to go without food, water or a peaceful existence.

    As you attacked us on that field, I watched Afghan women and children take cover behind trees on the western side. As your men attacked us from within those families, we never once returned fire in their direction.

    Why do we care more about your families than you? Why can't you see that your cause is futile? Here's my sincere recommendation to you:

    Lay down your arms and join the reintegration process. You should stop terrorizing your people and start assisting your government in rebuilding and development.

    If you do this, someday you will see an Afghanistan you've never imagined possible. Perhaps someday your grandkids and mine could play in the park together, or tour some of Herat City's spectacular sites on the same tour bus.

    If you don't, more will needlessly suffer at your hands. And rest assured, there are many scouts from Red Platoon whom remember your faces as we met in the village prior to your assault.

    Just join reintegration.

    But, above all, I forgive you.
     
  20. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    The rest of the above story;


    Commentary by Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace
    100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

    8/2/2012 - ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England (AFNS) -- I want the nightmares to stop!

    That's one thing I told Dr. Jeffery Peterson, a 48th Medical Operations Squadron clinical psychologist, when I went to see him last year.

    I admit the visit wasn't voluntary.

    Just before leaving Afghanistan in May 2011, I had to accomplish an online post-deployment health assessment and was flagged by many of my responses. I had to see Peterson my third day home. I felt our encounter was routine, but optimistically routine.

    While downrange I was involved in several close-range firefights, as well as living in constant threat of the near-daily attacks we repelled.

    I was notified that I had to do yet another PDHA last August. What followed absolutely blew my mind!

    After submitting the PDHA, I stopped by a coworker's office to talk briefly and returned to a ringing phone. A member of the 48th Medical Group staff was calling me merely 21 minutes after pressing the final mouse click and submitting the PDHA. I was amazed at how fast they reached out to me.

    I was flagged again and scheduled to see Peterson that same afternoon. I honestly dreaded having to go 'talk about my problems,' again but was truly impressed at how the medical system was working like a well-oiled machine. The 48th MDG staff monitored my progress as if I were their only patient.

    Once more, Peterson was very positive and he seemed exceedingly concerned about complications in my Purple Heart medal approval. Since then, he saw my Purple Heart come to fruition and has been in routine contact with me. I also received comprehensive treatment from another 48th MDG psychiatrist and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

    Despite my care moving from the family practice clinic to the mental health clinic, Peterson has kept in repeated contact with me. It's more than obvious, he cares.

    Top-care isn't limited to Peterson either.

    Dr. Paul West, my psychiatrist, goes well above and beyond, whenever I need a listening ear or professional advice.

    Furthermore, the Air Force assigned me to Tom Sansone, a Wounded Warrior counselor at the Air Force Personnel Center.

    Sansone has been involved in all aspects of medical care, and has called me at home and at work dozens of times. He's an amazing counselor.

    The truth is I never wanted to see Peterson, West, Sansone or the other medical staff. I didn't volunteer, the Air Force redeployment system forced these people into my life, but I'm sure glad it did.

    Luckily many Airmen won't see lives taken first hand, much less take human lives or lose close friends to the enemy. Yet, others will. For those people, there's help.

    For service members thrown right into the mix of the darkest aspects of war and inhumanity, I hope you fight well and stand your ground, my brothers. I hope you keep our enemies at bay and keep the fight on foreign soil. Rest assured, as I now know, there are people here at home who care.

    For me that was my wife, the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program and the 48th MDG.

    Through my rants and despair, my anger and sadness, my wife has always been there. Still, there are some things I could never talk to her about; who'd want to put the worst on the ones they love?

    In those times and for those subjects, I have professionals at nearby RAF Lakenheath. I'd be lying to say I always had complete confidence in our medical system -- I used to have my doubts. But no longer; now I have full faith that the system works and the professionals care.

    I'll permanently change station to a stateside base next month, and the professionals who cared for me at RAF Lakenheath will become people of my past. I admit that fact is troubling. Yet, I've seen first-hand success of the Air Force medical system and the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program. I'll be in good hands wherever I PCS to -- I'm a believer!
     

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