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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  

    Nov 15, 2009
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    Don't ask me, I'm still scratching my head on this one;

    2nd Bomb Wing delegation visits Russia
    by Airman 1st Class Samuel O'Brien
    Air Force Global Stike Command Public Affairs

    8/8/2012 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFNS) -- A delegation of five people from the 2nd Bomb Wing visited Engels Air Base in Saratov, Russia, last month on a goodwill mission with a dual purpose.

    Team members evaluated the suitability of the airfield at Engels Air Base for B-52H operations. The outing also established initial relationships for a long range aviation bomber exchange program between the U.S. and Russia.

    "We're going to fly B-52s to Russia, and they're going to fly Tu-95 Bears to Barksdale," said 2nd Bomb Wing commander, Col. Andrew Gebara, who led the Barksdale group. "It's a tremendous opportunity for our two nations to learn from each other to improve aviation technology and skills in our respective air forces."

    Lt. Col. Michael Thompson, 2nd Bomb Wing director of staff, Capt. Michael Middents, 2nd Operations Support Squadron, Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Sternod, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and Master Sgt. Lance Taylor, 2nd Security Forces, made the trip with Gebara. They were joined by a U.S. Embassy Attaché from Moscow, as well as an interpreter.

    While participants had hurdles with the language barrier, the team noticed some similarities.

    "One of the big takeaways from our trip is that while we fly different aircraft and are from opposite ends of the globe, our objective is the same," said Thompson. "We all want to have a safe and credible deterrent force."

    Engels Air Base vice commander, Col. Yuri Pelin, took the group on a tour of the base. The delegation was able to observe most of the ramp, study airfield diagrams and watch several different airframes complete landings.

    "Our Russian hosts were extremely hospitable and open," said Thompson. "They made every effort to make us feel welcome and assist us in accomplishing our site survey."

    The trip was also an exercise in reciprocation. Several members of the Russian team recently visited Barksdale.

    "The Air Force benefits greatly from the relationships established between the U.S. and any foreign nation," said Gebara. "The Russian delegation's visit to Barksdale, followed by our trip to Engels Air Base, opened the door for future positive relationships between our two nations."
  2. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

    Nov 15, 2009
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    Truly the End of an Era.

    FORT HOOD, Texas (Aug. 21, 2012) -- Iconic, dependable, reliable, tough, a workhorse, an air cavalryman's steed.

    All were used to describe the UH-1 Iroquois, affectionately known as the "Huey," during its retirement ceremony, Aug. 18, at Robert Grey Army Airfield, when the 21st Cavalry Brigade (Air Combat) conducted a ceremonial airlift with the final three UH-1s remaining in the active-duty Army.

    At the end of August, 21st Cav. Bde. Commander Col. Neil Hersey said those Hueys will be flown to, and retired with Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command, AMCOM, which is headquartered at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala.

    Hersey called the UH-1's retirement bittersweet.

    "It's an honor to be a part of the ceremony that sends them off appropriately," he said. "It's sad because this platform has meant so much to this unit over the years and to the Army as a whole. It really made the helicopter, in Army aviation, the important aspect of Army aviation that it is."

    Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jimmy Green, III Corps standardization pilot, said this ceremony was about putting these machine and the veterans who flew them up on a pedestal.

    "We've taken those Hueys to a lot of static displays around Texas and different veterans memorials, and a lot of those guys, their lives were changed by this machine," Green said. "They were saved by it, they were hauled out by medevac (medical evacuation), they were lifted in as troops, and brought out of hot fire. There are a lot of guys who get really emotional with this machine."

    During a reception held later in the evening, Aug. 18, the guest speaker was retired Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk, a former III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general. During Vietnam, Funk was an Air Cavalry Troop commander in 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.

    Funk reiterated the Huey's iconic status.

    "It's an emotional event for all of us here," he said. "It's a sad day, but it's an important one for all of us who are represented by that bird."

    "These are extremely brave people flying these birds," Funk continued. "Even the Marine pilots would say that if I go down, send me an Army aviator, because they'll come and get me."

    Funk described the young Soldiers who flew the UH-1s as being brave beyond all reason, especially during the many risky medevac missions.

    "I turned 30 over there, and I was one of the oldest in the troop," he said. "So here you are with these 19-year-old kids, and they're flying these airplanes and they're taking these great infantry. And our kids never got the credit for the fighters they were, for how tough they were."

    During the ceremonial airlift, the three Hueys provided veterans a trip down memory lane, ushering back thoughts of both good times and bad, as they took short flights across the hilly Central Texas landscape.

    "That reminded of Vietnam for the five years I was over there," said Tony Blas, who served with Company B, 1st "Garryowen" Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cav. Div. in Vietnam from 1968-1972. "The five years I was over there, we lost a lot of men over there, some friends. It's very hard to forget."

    Despite a 38-year gap between rides aboard a Huey, Blas said one thing about it remains unmistakable.

    "I can still remember the sound," he said. "When you hear that blade, you know it's a Huey, you know it's a UH-1."

    Fellow Vietnam veteran Jesus Perez, who served with the 571st Transportation Detachment (Aircraft Maintenance) in support of the Utility Tactical Transport Helicopter Company, or UTT, also has fond memories of that distinctive Huey sound.

    "Where I live in Copperas Cove (Texas), they go over my house a lot, and it makes me feel really good," Perez said.

    "The distinctive 'whop-whop' sound is one that only a Huey makes," Hersey added, "to the point where if you watch any movie, even that shows Apaches or Black Hawks flying, the soundtrack they use for the rotor sound is still the Huey."

    After months in the jungle on the battlefield, that sound often meant a safe escape for an infantryman like Blas.

    "We used that aircraft a lot to transfer, to take us out of our mission," Blas said. "When you're out for 120 days, sometimes four months, sometimes six months, I remember waiting for them at the LZ (landing zone), and when you see them, you'd get very happy. "

    On some occasions, a UH-1's flight in and out of the jungle wasn't so smooth. As Vietnam veteran J.B. West, a pilot in 3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment, recalled, he made many missions in the Huey and even was shot down once.

    "I was making an emergency medevac, and they shot the engine oil line out, and the engine quit and down I came," West said.

    Green, the chief III Corps pilot, described the UH-1 as an old farm truck in that it just works.

    "And it's GI proof. You can't tear it up," he said. "And if there's a place to land and the engine fails on a Huey and you ding the Huey up, then you screwed up. It's very forgiving. If you don't have to put it in the trees, a good pilot should be able to get it on the ground without a scratch."

    West said that as he landed the UH-1 after the engine had quit, he didn't even bend the skids.

    "The pucker factor goes up when the engine quits," he said. "The stress level goes up a little bit, and it gets awful quite when you get to about 300 feet and the engine quits."

    Afterward, he said all of the Soldiers in the Huey got out, set up a perimeter, and waited for about an hour for help to arrive.

    As the final active-duty Army unit with a Huey says good-bye to the aircraft, Hersey noted the UH-1's incredible longevity.

    "It's equipment that has served the Army for roughly 57 years," he said. "I doubt that any piece of military machinery has seen such longevity, with the possible exception of the B-52."

    "It's the Cadillac of helicopters," Perez said.

    After returning from his airlift, Perez said he had a great time.

    "I never thought I'd get the chance to do it again," he said. "I can't wait to get home and call my brother."

    Blas said the airlift brought back the memory of all that were lost during Vietnam.

    "Almost 59,000 Soldiers who died," he said. "We were over there to fight for this country. Like they say, 'All gave some. Some gave all.' Those are the 59,000 who died over there. It kind of shocks you every time you're reminded of that."

    Funk summarized the close connection the Soldiers had with the Huey.

    "Sort of like the cavalryman and his horse, you can't separate the air cavalryman, the aviator, from his steed," he said, "and in those days that was the UH-1."
  3. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

    Nov 15, 2009
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    Just a "Make You Smile" post.

    CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait (Sept. 6, 2012) -- On the first day of April 2012, a 10-mile road race was set to begin, while on the other side of the base, a lone runner pushed herself harder and faster around this desert outpost to finish her 24-hour quest: 100 miles in remembrance of fellow North Carolinians who have died in the war on terror.

    That lone runner was Sgt. 1st Class Rita Rice from Sanford, N.C., stationed here with the North Carolina Army National Guard's 113th Sustainment Brigade. Rice carried her own water. Traffic wasn't stopped for her. No t-shirts or medals were handed out, and the only cheers and recognition along the way were a few high fives and pats on the back from Soldiers who took turns running with her.

    Rice, a former member of the 82nd Airborne Division, joined the North Carolina Army National Guard in 2009. Every runner that ran a lap or two with Rice during her 100 miles said they felt honored to share the road with her.

    "It's awesome," said Sgt 1st Class Lee Klimala, "her superhuman ability and can-do attitude is contagious."

    Rice is an ultra runner, one who trains for and participates in endurance races more than 26.2 miles long, the length of a marathon; most are between 50 and 100 miles long. It took many years for her to become the runner she is today.

    In 2006 she began to slowly pound the pavement and shady wooded trails of North Carolina to keep up with her twin daughters, who had started running track at school.

    "It was a good excuse for me to get back in shape and to be with my girls and bond," Rice said. "It was hard at first, but well worth it. I had not run seriously for almost fourteen years since my days in the 82nd, but my family and friends kept me motivated."

    Over the following months, Rice was able to complete a two-mile run, then four miles, a 10-miler, and before long she completed her first marathon in 2007.

    Rice said the major change in her attitude toward running and her desire not to quit came when a close neighborhood friend, Special Forces Chief Warrant Officer 2 Scott Dyer, was killed in Afghanistan in late 2006. After the news of her friend's death, Rice wanted to honor his service, and decided that running was a healthy and challenging way to do it.

    Rice said she was lucky to have a running mentor, Lt. Col. Mike McNeill. McNeill, a special forces officer, motivated Rice, helped her get past the mental challenges of running long distances, and taught her how to enjoy the experience of running.

    Rice, now a veteran runner, has completed five marathons, multiple endurance races, and other fun runs that challenge a person mentally and physically. Rice said her personal mottos or "Rules according to Rice" are as follows: "Live life to its fullest. Set challenging goals for yourself and maybe it will inspire others to also 'go for it.' Dream big dreams. Never quit, and never forget those who gave their lives so that we may enjoy ours."

    "Rice is the definition of a 113th Sustainment Brigade "Steel Soldier" whose determination to succeed inspires others and makes the whole unit "twice as strong," but above all else, she's proud to be an American Soldier, serving her country, and honoring our fallen heroes," said Col. David Jones, commander of the 113th Sustainment Brigade.

    The Official Home Page of the United States Army | The United States Army
  4. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

    Nov 15, 2009
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    AUGUSTA, Ga. (Sept. 12, 2012) -- For 44 years, Shelby Harding has held onto a case with her late-husband's Army and foreign medals, but not all the spaces are filed. There a blank space where a missing award should be.

    During that time Shelby had always felt her late-husband, Steve Harding, should have received the Army's Combat Infantrymen Badge for his actions during the Vietnam War.

    "I always knew in my heart that Steve was deserving of the award but I never received the orders for it," added Shelby.

    Steve died April 26, 1968, in the Quang Tri Province of Vietnam. Shelby received his awards and decorations during two separate ceremonies in 1968 and 1969 and at the time inquired to the whereabouts of the missing medal.

    "During the presentation of the awards in 1969, I asked about the CIB and the response I received was 'What, you want more lady?'" added Shelby.

    It wasn't until 2011 that someone offered to help Shelby. Her niece's husband searched months to find information on Steve's CIB but to no avail.

    The following year Capt. Kyle Hatzinger, commander of Company D., 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, made contact with Shelby after learning about Steve while sponsoring a reunion for Company D in Branson, Mo., April 2012.

    "I sent Shelby a letter to simply introduce myself and let her know she is part of the Company D. family," added Hatzinger. "At the time, I had no idea Shelby had been looking for her husband's missing award."

    A month later, Shelby asked Hatzinger for help.

    "I was pleased to help her but had no idea where to start," he added. "I turned to a colleague in administration and she pointed me to two different military records agencies."

    For more than a month, Hatzinger worked with the U.S. Army Human Resources Command and the National Personnel Records Center - Military Records finding information on Steve and his assignments in Vietnam.

    "After about a month of research, I received a call from an HRC employee who'd been working on Steve's records," said Hatzinger. "He conveyed to me that once a file on Steve was found he opened it up to find CIB orders dated 1968."

    Hatzinger said he was excited and relieved to receive the information, despite no explanation why orders existed without the award ever being presented.

    "I was fortunate for the help I received from personnel at HRC and the NPRC," added Hatzinger. "At the same time, I was excited and relieved that we could help Shelby and allow her some closure."

    "I was pleased and excited that after all these years. I was able to receive Steve's award, one I knew he deserved for service to the country," said Shelby. "I needed that closure."

    Hatzinger said once the award was collected, he wanted to ensure Shelby received it in a customary fashion.

    "I know she would have been happy receiving the award with a handshake and kind words, but I wanted to make sure it was presented in a meaningful and traditional way," added Hatzinger.
    Hatzinger arranged to have a grave-side, award ceremony in Augusta, Ga., Sept. 1, which he and his wife attended along with four veterans who served with Steve, some of their spouses and 10 of Shelby's family members.

    The hour-long ceremony included the CIB presentation, a speech from three of Steve's brothers-in-arms, a final roll call and a commemorative plaque given by Ralph Dahl from Cailf. - one of Steve's former platoon members, said Hatzinger. Additionally, Dahl's wife presented Shelby with a hand-made guidon, a Company D. Flag.

    "It was a somber but wonderful time, not a dry eye in the crowd," Shelby said of the ceremony. She was inspired by the speeches, and amazed that Hatzinger and men who fought by her husband's side would travel from around the U.S. to pay their last respects to Steve.

    "There was a lot of sadness during the reading of the eulogies but Shelby cherishes her memories and deserved time to reflect on her husbands achievements ... I was impressed by her strength," said Hatzinger.

    With the CIB properly resting in Shelby's case she commented, "We have done what needs to be done. I will always have my memories and at 75-years-old, my life is complete."

    'Black Knight' captain helps Vietnam widow claim missing award | Article | The United States Army
  5. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

    Nov 15, 2009
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    Never Forget :

    POW/MIA Recognition Day Honors Service Members

    National POW/MIA Recognition Day is Friday, Sept. 21. Each year, the President issues a proclamation asking Americans to recognize the nation’s service members who were held prisoner or are still missing, and their families.

    The day’s events include a Pentagon commemoration ceremony hosting former prisoners of war, family members, military service members and distinguished guests. Traditionally held on the third Friday in September, the event will include formal military honors. A flyover of military aircraft is scheduled to conclude the ceremony.
    Also, in New York City, Department of Defense (DoD) representatives will participate in the New York Stock Exchange’s Closing Bell Ceremony to honor prisoners of war and those missing in action. The New York Yankees will acknowledge the day with a home plate tribute to service members, past and present, during a game that evening.
    In addition, observances of National POW/MIA Recognition Day are held across the country on military installations, at state capitols, in local communities, schools and at various veterans' facilities.
    As a result of resolutions passed in Congress, the first official commemoration of POW/MIAs was in 1979, when the first national ceremony was held. The observance is one of six days of the year that Congress has mandated flying of the POW/MIA flag, created by the National League of Families', at major military installations, national cemeteries, all post offices, VA medical facilities, the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the offices of the secretaries of state, defense and veterans affairs, the director of the selective service system and the White House.
    The DoD has more than 600 people dedicated to the worldwide mission of accounting for the more than 83,000 missing service members from conflicts as far back as World War II.
    For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office or call 703-699-1169.
  6. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

    Nov 15, 2009
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    I realize I don't watch that much TV News but did anyone notice?
    Happy 65th Birthday to the US Air Force : September 18, 2012

    9/17/2012 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy issued the following message to the Airmen of the United States Air Force:

    As we celebrate the United States Air Force's 65th birthday, we salute all of the dedicated Airmen who serve or have served in our Nation's youngest and most innovative Service.

    Throughout our proud history, the Air Force has embraced the technology that continues to revolutionize our capabilities in air, space and cyberspace. We owe an enormous debt to the ground-breaking visionaries and engineering pioneers who brought the technology of flight to life, and to the professional strategists and tacticians who imagined the military possibilities of these new technologies and propelled the science, theory and application forward.

    While our Service enjoys an unbreakable connection to state-of-the-art technology, we must never forget that everything we do depends on our people, the living engine of our Air Force. Today, more than ever, the Air Force can take pride that our Service culture promotes and benefits from the know-how, determination, and commitment of a diverse group of men and women who embody our Core Values -- Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do -- while pursuing adaptive and innovative solutions for our Nation's security.

    Every day, our Airmen have an opportunity to add a bright new chapter to the Air Force story by serving our Nation in the world's finest air force. The challenges confronting our country are great; but our active duty, Guard, Reserve, and civilian Airmen have never failed to answer our Nation's call. Working together in common purpose as one Air Force, we will keep America secure today and for all the years to come.

    Happy birthday, Air Force! Aim High ... Fly-Fight-Win!

  7. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

    Nov 15, 2009
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    I read the article and then saw the pictures. Man's Best Friend no questions asked.

    LANDSTUHL REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, Germany (Sept. 24, 2012) -- When an injured handler of a military working dog regains consciousness from a blast or other incident downrange, the first thing they ask is, "How is my dog? How is my dog?"

    A Soldier recently injured in Afghanistan asked the same question in the intensive care unit at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany. When his nurse told him JaJo (pronounced "zsa-zso") was being treated for injuries at a nearby military veterinary clinic, but was doing fine, she said a tear of relief rolled down his cheek.

    Only one day after surgery, JaJo, with a bandaged foot and shrapnel wounds visible across his body, was allowed to visit his handler and friend -- an infantry Soldier recovering from the same incident, whose name is being withheld for patient privacy reasons.

    Although JaJo had half of his spleen removed and suffered two broken bones in his right-rear foot, the young German shepherd appeared uninjured as he eagerly made his way bedside. Although his handler wasn't initially aware of his visitor, JaJo licked his outstretched hand and was ready to jump up and share the bed. Moments later, an eye opened as JaJo licked his hand again and the Soldier was alert enough give his friend a loving cuddle.

    "If he could, JaJo would lay on that bed all day," said Capt. (Dr.) Catherine Cook, officer-in-charge of the Military Working Dog Ward at the Dog Center Europe facility at Pulaski Barracks. Cook said JaJo is expected to recover from his wounds and could be able to deploy again as a Tactical Explosive Detection Dog, but first would be medically evacuated, or medevaced, stateside to convalesce. His handler will also soon be medevaced to the U.S. to continue his long-term recovery.

    It was because of the unlikelihood of their paths crossing again that prompted Cook and her staff to help them reunite. She could recall only a handful of previous occasions when both handler and dog were seriously injured and one was physically capable of visiting the other.

    JaJo and his handler weren't a traditional K-9 team, in which a handler remains part of the duo until his or her permanent change of station. JaJo's handler is an infantry Soldier who attended an intensive dog handler's course for approximately four weeks. He would be paired up with JaJo only for the duration of his deployment.

    It is during the training period where Cook said teams develop a special bond and handlers learn to give commands for seeking out improvised explosive devices.

    Cook gives huge credit to the on-scene medics and other medical personnel downrange for helping make the reunion possible. JaJo's treatment in Afghanistan included a chest tube, catheter and other medical treatment for penetrating shrapnel wounds.

    "The medics who worked on him did a fabulous job -- high speed. They treated him as well as any human Soldier," said Cook.

    The effort to treat military working dogs continues in Germany where Cook and her staff put in long hours caring for canines seriously injured downrange. Being able to experience the reunion helps put the hard work and effort into perspective.

    "It's rewarding because you could tell he recognized JaJo," Cook said. "If he only remembers just a little bit of this in the future, it was all worthwhile."

    A visit to the ICUfrom a special friend
    [h=3]Working Dog reunites with handler during hospital bedside visit[/h][​IMG]
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  8. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

    Nov 15, 2009
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    Well here I am a dollar short and four days late ... again -
    Happy Birthday to the United States Navy

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  9. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

    Nov 15, 2009
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    [h=1]Coast Guard Honors World War II veteran[/h] NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – A 92-year-old World War II veteran was honored for his service and was presented with campaign service medals, the World War II Victory Medal, and read a letter from President Harry Truman by local Coast Guard members in a small ceremony at his home in New Britain Monday, October, 15.
    Sebastian “Pete” Petruzzelli served in the Merchant Marine, where he sailed merchant vessels in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Mediterranean oceans. He was recognized during the small ceremony, which was presided over by Coast Guard Master Chief Todd Holcomb, the senior enlisted member at Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound in New Haven, Conn. The ceremony, attended by Petruzzelli’s wife, children, grandson, and surviving siblings, was an emotional event as his family watched him be recognized for his service.
    “It was tough duty, we battled heavy seas, seasickness, and were constantly concerned about attacks from enemy submarines," said Petruzzelli. "I’m grateful for the Coast Guard for coming to my home and recognizing my service in the Merchant Marine."
    His time in service was not just tough on him, but also on his family. Like many others at the time, his entire family sacrificed while Petruzzelli was away at sea. For a year and half, Petruzzelli was out of contact with his wife and sisters. He never received his family’s letters, and they in turn never received his, due to the nature of his schedule and the difficulties in mail delivery during war time.
    To highlight the lack of communication during the war, Petruzzelli shared his story of how a few days after he returned to Connecticut following the war, a Red Cross worker arrived at his home, with all of the undelivered letters he had sent home to notify his wife that her husband was lost at sea. When the Red Cross worker at the door asked Petruzzelli who he was, he told the audience at the ceremony with a smile, that “I’m the guy who is lost at sea.”
    “It was a true honor for me to meet a veteran and hero like Petruzzelli," said Holcomb. "He is a humble man that clearly loves his family and his country, and to be able to present him with his medals so many years after the conflict ended, was a very special opportunity."

    Coast Guard Honors World War II veteran
  10. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron  

    Oct 26, 2003
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    Stirling, Scotland
    Nice story, thanks.
  11. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

    Nov 15, 2009
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    FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Oct. 17, 2012) -- Military leaders "dropped in" Oct. 15 to celebrate a birthday for a local WWII paratrooper and author.

    Darrell G. Harris celebrated his 91st birthday with members of the Alamo Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association, including Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV, commanding general, U.S. Army North, and senior commander, Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis.

    Retired Maj. Gen. Guy Meloy III, a former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, was also on hand to congratulate Harris on his 91st birthday.

    His three combat jumps at Sicily and Salerno in Italy and Nijmegen in the Netherlands during World War II, and his beach landing at Anzio, make Harris special to the 82nd Airborne Division.

    "There's a unique bond among old Airborne troops; and when you add combat experience, it's even stronger," said Meloy. "You just can't really define it."

    Harris, a soft-spoken great-grandfather and author of "Casablanca to VE Day: A Paratrooper's Memoirs," said his 91st birthday had another meaning for him.

    "It means I'm glad I stopped smoking 20 years ago," Harris joked.

    Harris, like many others, said he enlisted after Pearl Harbor.

    "I was going to college when Pearl Harbor happened," said Harris. "We were hitchhiking back from Fort Worth (Texas), and the driver had the radio on. At first we thought it was a radio show."

    Harris, a native of Strawn, Texas, enlisted from Amarillo, Texas, and, after landing in North Africa, served in the three parachute operations and the Italian campaign. He said he spent his enlistment in several demolition platoons, working with dynamite, TNT, Composition C and other explosives.

    The humble paratrooper said service during World War II was what shaped him and gave him purpose.

    "I'm proud to be able to serve my country," said Harris.

    Harris' wife, Omadell, was unable to attend, but he said he'd celebrate his birthday with her later. Harris and Omadell have three children, three grandchildren and one great-grandson.

    It's important to celebrate the contributions and service of veterans like Harris, said Fred Castaneda, chairman, Texas Alamo Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association.

    "We have to give homage and honor to these men," said Castaneda. "DG is very humble. When he talks, you are listening to living history."

    Local World War II paratrooper gets special birthday | Article | The United States Army
  12. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

    Nov 15, 2009
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    Okay the one above was for the 82nd. Now something for my friends in the 101st!

    LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Oct. 21, 2012) -- Ask Chief Warrant Officer 4 Walter Jones why he serves and he will tell you, "It's all about flying and Soldiers."

    Jones, born in Mountain Home, Idaho, is serving in Afghanistan as an aviation maintenance officer with D Company, 5th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade. Jones enlisted in the Army at the age of eighteen and after completing basic training in 1969, went on to Fort Rucker, Ala., to become a UH-1 "Huey" crew chief. Soon after that he found himself assigned to the 162nd Assault Helicopter Company in Can Tu, Vietnam.

    One day during a mission his aircraft started to receive small arms fire. Rounds struck the helicopter's fuel cell, and the aircraft immediately caught fire. The helicopter began to spin about 200 feet above the ground.

    Jones braced for impact and was knocked unconscious.

    He was injured and spent ten months recovering in the hospital. During this time he made an important decision.

    "That experience really made me focus on what I wanted to do with my life," said Jones, "I wanted to make a career out of the Army."

    The Army re-classified him as a telephone line repairman and stationed him with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. Having valuable combat experience as a Huey crew chief in Vietnam, he quickly found his way back into aviation.

    This was also his first experience with the Cold War during the Arab-Israeli War in 1973. He remembers sitting on the green ramp being on standby to support Israel if needed, but Israel did not require it.

    While at Fort Bragg he saw the experimental balsa wood full scale model of the future UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. He pointed to one of his buddies and said, "I am going to fly that one day."

    "And I did," said Jones, now a veteran Black Hawk pilot.

    In 1975, he graduated from flight school. The 101st Airborne Division was next on his horizon. Assigned to the D Company, 158th Assault Helicopter Battalion, it was here where with the 'Ghostriders' that his dream of flying Black Hawks became a reality. D Company was the first unit in the Army to receive the UH-60, and in 1979 he became one of the first pilots to go through the UH-60 qualification course.

    "The 101st set the standard as far as Army aviation goes," remarks Jones. "The 101st is the only way to go, it sets the standards for air assaults."

    After assignments in Korea, Hawaii and Texas Jones found his way back to Fort Campbell, Ky., when the 6th Attack Training Battalion returned to the home of the 101st to become the 2nd/101st Attack Battalion.

    Jones retired from active duty service out of Fort Campbell in 1993. After his retirement, he went to work for contractors in Saudi Arabia, where he continued to fly.

    In 1999 his wife, Diane, gave him an ultimatum.

    "She told me, 'If you are going to leave again don't bother coming home,'" recalled Jones

    So he took a job working once again at Fort Campbell for DynCorp in 2001. Being back on a military base, working around Soldiers and only being responsible for the maintenance of aircraft, Jones saw significant differences between his life as a Soldier and as a civilian.

    "Being around the [Soldiers] and working a nine to five job as a civilian is different," he said, "When you are working as a civilian, nine times out of 10, the people you work with you don't associate with off the job; whenever your shift is done you are on your way."

    Jones started to miss the camaraderie and sense of family that comes with military service. Diane could also sense that her husband missed his old life.

    "When he retired, I did not think that he would serve again, " said Diane, "but it wasn't long before I knew that he missed it and regretted retiring."

    Walter and Diane, who just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, grew up in military families with both their fathers having served in the Air Force.

    "To be honest, I had missed the military also," said Diane, "Growing up in the Air Force, the military is all we both had ever known."

    In 2004, Jones decided it was time to make a change. He made a plan and decided to talk to Diane about the financial benefits of going back onto active duty service.

    "I get emotional when I think about it," said Walter. "She looked me in the eyes and said, 'You want to fly again.' If I ever mention going contract maintenance overseas again she will say no. But I can deploy as many times as I want. She is a military wife all the way through."

    Walter applied to come back on active duty through the voluntary recall program.

    One of the forms he was had to fill out was the Army "Dream Sheet." When asked to fill out his top three choices, Walter only had one place he wanted to go -- Fort Campbell.

    "I told them it was 101st, no ifs, ands or buts about it, " said Jones.

    In January 2005, Jones went to the replacement company at Fort Campbell and was sent to his unit. Walter was sent to the same unit he has served in almost 30 years before. It was something he did not expect to happen.

    "When I came back in, I did not ask for any unit in particular I just wanted to get back into the air assault, back into the 'Hawks flying again," said Jones. "Whoever did it I thank them."

    It was a homecoming for Jones and he could not have been happier about it.

    Having served with the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade for the past 7 years, Jones has deployed with the 101 CAB four times. This current deployment is his third to Afghanistan.

    With 32 years of active duty service under his belt, Jones will tell you that not much has changed since his days of serving in Vietnam.

    "I look back and the biggest difference is that the equipment and technology is so much more complicated," said Jones. "I think it was a simpler time back then. Young soldiers have to be a lot smarter to do the same job we did back then. I admire these young Soldiers so much for what they are dealing and working with."

    If anything, Jones is a shining example of someone doing what they love every day?

    "He has been happy being back in the Army and doing a job that he loves," said Diane. "I am happy that he has been able to do what he loves."

    Vietnam veteran continues service in Afghanistan | Article | The United States Army
  13. Biak

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    Nov 15, 2009
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    One more for today.

    [​IMG]A bayonet and sheath belonging to U.S. Army Pfc. Clyde Sparks lay on a table at the 606th Air Control Squadron Oct. 4, 2012. Sparks lost the bayonet in Luxembourg in 1944, and after 68 years the bayonet was returned to his family. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

    by Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon
    52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

    10/24/2012 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- Clyde Sparks never spoke much about his time in the U.S. Army. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, where he earned a Purple Heart Medal for wounds suffered in Luxembourg. It was his silence that always marked him as a veteran of the Second World War.

    It wasn't until Staff Sgt. Scott Martin, who is a radio frequencies transmissions systems operator for the 606th Air Control Squadron, met him for the first time that he began to talk about his experiences.

    "He completely opened up to me," said Martin, who is married to Sparks' granddaughter, Jessica Martin. "He found out that I was also in the military, and that was all it took.

    "My fondest memory of him is just sitting and talking with him," he continued. "Whenever I would come over, he would clear a space right next to him and tell me to sit down. He couldn't walk a lot, but he could talk. We would talk for hours and hours."

    Sparks would tell Martin stories about how cold it was where he served. While most of his memories had faded over time and old age, one memory remained vivid.

    "He always talked about losing his bayonet in the war, and you could tell he wasn't happy about it," said Martin, who is originally from Chico, Calif.

    But now, the Sparks family has a new story to tell, because a Luxembourg man tracked down the owner of the bayonet from 68 years ago.

    It was December 1944 when Pfc. Clyde Benson Sparks made his way into Boulaide, Luxembourg, where his unit liberated the small town from the German occupation. They had strict orders to keep the nearby roads clear so Gen. George Patton and his men could press north to Bastogne, Belgium.

    It was there that Sparks lost his precious bayonet.

    The bayonet, which was mounted on the end of a M1 Garand rifle, went missing during his time in the village of Boulaide, and Sparks never saw it again. He died in 2008 never knowing what happened to his standard-issued weapon.

    Nine-year-old Alphonse Haas found the bayonet shortly after U.S. troops pushed forward and left the small village. The Americans used the Haas home as an aid station, and that was where he found the bayonet.

    Haas kept the weapon as a reminder of his country's liberation until the day he died. His son, Marco Haas, developed a keen interest for Boulaide's involvement in the war in 1944. The bayonet was among other items that his father had from that period and Marco found initials and a series of numbers engraved in the sheath.

    Haas began searching in 2001 for the owner of the bayonet, submitting search queries for what turned out to be Sparks' Army serial number and initials. He tried the National Archives, U.S. embassies, and veteran's organizations with no luck. He began to lose hope in finding the rightful owner of the bayonet.

    The national archives finally came back with a positive match on the serial number. It was Sparks' serial number.

    Thrilled, Haas now searched for Sparks and his whereabouts. He wondered if it was possible that he died in the war or if he made it home.

    Haas found his answer on Sept. 9, 2011, when he found Sparks' death notice on a Web site.

    "I was very sorry when I read (Clyde's) death notice," said Haas. "I was too late."

    Still, he knew that the family would appreciate their loved one's belongings.

    "I imagine myself getting something back from my dad or grandfather that they forgot 68 years ago in such conditions," he said. "He was not on holiday here, he was at war. Some of his friends gave their lives to free our country, to free Europe."

    Martin received a call one day from his wife's aunt saying that a man found a bayonet belonging to Clyde in Luxembourg and he wanted to give it to the family.

    "I was wary at first, because it seemed unreal," he said. "It was unexpected."

    Haas presented the bayonet to Martin during a ceremony at the 606th, in front of an eager and curious room of peers. Martin accepted the bayonet on behalf of his wife's family, who were unable to make it to the presentation.

    "I'm in complete shock that he was able to find this and actually bring it to fruition; that's quite amazing," said Martin, who seemed to still be taking in the whole situation.

    Martin thanked Haas for the kind gesture and expressed the importance for his extended family.

    The bayonet is a reminder of the Sparks family legacy and a reminder that freedom does not come without sacrifice.

    "I think it belongs back home. It was here for 68 years, and I think it's time for it to go back," Haas said to Martin. "I hope this will make a lasting friendship between our families for a long time to come."

    Feature - Families unite through WWII bayonet
  14. Biak

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    FORT MEADE, Md., Nov. 9, 2012 – As the nation approaches Veterans Day, observed Nov. 11, two former service members -- one from World War II, the other from the Vietnam War -- were awarded their long-awaited Bronze Star medals in a ceremony at the Defense Information School here today.

    [TABLE="align: left"]
    [TD="class: captions"][TABLE="align: right"]
    Keynote speaker U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland had worked to ensure that former Army doctor Capt. Charles E. Rath Jr. and former Army medic Spc. 4 Charles Shyab received their medals. Mikulski presented the awards to the veterans, along with flags that had flown over the U.S. Capitol, at the ceremony.

    Misplaced paperwork was the cause of Rath waiting 67 years and Shyab 44 years for their medals.

    Rath, 93, said his Bronze Star was approved in 1945. Shyab’s Bronze Star for valor was authorized in 1968 after he saved many American soldiers’ lives and was wounded on Chu Moor Mountain in Vietnam near Ho Chi Min Trail.

    “This Veterans Day and every day, we are thankful for the service and sacrifice of all our veterans and their families,” Mikulski said. “Our veterans who fought for our freedom shouldn’t have to fight for the recognition they have earned. I went to work to cut through the red tape and break through the bureaucracy to give these two heroes the long-overdue honor they deserve.”

    “Here at the Defense Information School,” she continued, “we’re demonstrating that a grateful nation never forgets.”

    Mikulski described the ceremony as “very poignant and well-deserved.” Shyab and Rath, she added, “deserve these medals, but also our gratitude.”

    Rath said he was drafted into the Army as a doctor during World War II following his internship. His Bronze Star citation noted his meritorious achievement in support of the 63rd Infantry “Blood and Fire” Division’s drive through Central Europe.

    From mid-February 1945 until the end of the war, the 63rd Infantry Division made a path of “blood and fire” from Sarreguemines through the Siegfried Line to Worms, Mannheim, Heidelberg, Gunzburg and ending in Landsberg, Germany, at the end of April 1945 when the division was pulled from the line for a much-needed rest, according to the history of the 63rd Infantry Division.

    Shyab, 68, said he was in one of three companies ordered to ascend Chu Moor Mountain, where Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia meet. They faced a battalion of enemy forces.
    “We were in [the enemy’s] backyard,” he said of the fight that April day in 1968. “Once they found out we were there, they started mortaring us and when our place went over to drop a 500-pounder, they used that noise to mortar us and that’s when I got wounded.”
    Shyab said the soldier who got him safely to a helicopter for evacuation never made it back to his foxhole.
    Thirty men were killed in action during that firefight, Shyab said, another 70 were wounded and 15 were evacuated off the mountain.
    Shyab said he doesn’t recall how many lives he saved that day.
    “The men we lost will always be remembered,” he said during the ceremony.
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    JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. (Nov. 9, 2012) -- Soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) gathered in Washington, D.C., to welcome Honor Flight Ohio to the World War II Memorial, Oct. 20.

    The Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization which transports veterans of past wars to their respective memorials in Washington, D.C.

    "I'm very honored to be out here to spend time with these veterans," said Spc. Parker Myers, infantryman, Honor Guard Company. "They have done more than I could ever imagine. It's a sobering experience."

    Myers, a native of Wauseon, Ohio, added it was especially touching since these veterans were from his home state.

    For many of the veterans, it was their first time visiting the memorial since returning home from the war.

    "It's breathtaking," said Ernie Ratterman, who served as a military police officer in World War II. "I'm very glad that the Soldiers were here to welcome us."

    During their visit, Old Guard Soldiers laid a wreath to commemorate the veterans' service. They also participated in a flag folding ceremony to honor a World War II veteran who never made it home from the war.

    "This flag was the original flag that was folded at his funeral in the 1940s," said Sgt. Jonathan Thoits, infantryman, Honor Guard Company. "It meant a lot for me to be able to fold his flag here because he fought and died for our country in this war and he will never be able to see this memorial."

    Gene Imber, who served in the Korean War, was moved to tears as he described what it meant to see the Soldiers honor a fallen comrade.

    "It meant a lot," said Gene Imber, before losing his words as he was overcome with emotion.

    Imber visited the memorial with his twin brother Dean Imber, who also served in the Korean War. The Imbers agreed seeing the Old Guard's presence there was humbling.
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  16. Biak

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    ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Nov. 9, 2012) -- World War I happened nearly a century ago in Europe. Frank Buckles, the last living American WWI Veteran, died last year at the age of 110. It was the sacrifice of he and of his fellow service members that inspired the holiday Americans are about to observe: Veterans Day.

    Originally known as Armistice Day to honor the living veterans of the First World War, Veterans Day has transformed into a holiday inclusive of service members of all eras. Veterans Day is a national holiday of remembrance and recognition of all those who served regardless of branch or duty status, Reserve or active component.

    Looking back on Veterans Day as Armistice Day is at once nostalgic as well as historically mindful. Historian Robert H. Ferrell of Indiana University Bloomington reminds readers that what was once a staple celebration represented by World War I era artifacts and culture was translated into a holiday that could span generations. In his work, "Oatmeal and Coffee: Memoirs of a Hoosier Soldier in World War I," Ferrell outlines those Great War Soldiers were a very different breed than their World War II counterparts. Doughboys, as World War I Soldiers were called, were not the same as the Yanks or G.I.s of World War II.


    An armistice, or temporary cease fire, between the Allied Nations and Germany stopped the fighting of World War I on November 11, 1918. Known at the time as the Great War, the end of combat became effective on the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The official end of the war would not come for another seven months, on June 28, 1919, when the Treaty of Versailles was signed. A publication from 1918, America Magazine, marked the day as one of triumph and joy, even amongst those suffering from losses. A passage from this magazine read: "There would be time and enough in the future to grieve for the ravages was had wrought in their own lives, but on the day of the armistice all gave way to universal rejoicing, because mankind was once more free."

    President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first "Armistice Day" on Nov. 11, 1919, to show solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service. Wilson declared "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service." The original concept for the celebration was for the suspension of business for a two minute period beginning at 11 a.m., with the day also marked by parades and public meetings.

    In 1920, France and the United Kingdom each held ceremonies honoring their unknown dead from the war. An "unknown soldier" of the Great War was buried in each nation's highest place of honor: in England, Westminster Abbey; in France, the Arc de Triomphe. This holiday is now known as Remembrance Day in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium, and commemorates all who served.

    In 1921, an unknown American Soldier was interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Armistice Day officially received its name in America in 1926 through a Congressional Resolution (44 Stat. 1982). This proclamation read: "It is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations."


    In 1938, Congress declared Armistice Day a legal holiday (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a), to be held the 11th of November in each year. This was to be a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day."

    If World War I had indeed been "the war to end all wars," Nov. 11, might still be called Armistice Day. Hostilities across the Pacific escalated during the 1930s, battles erupted in Europe in 1939, and the world was once again overrun with war. The ideal of a lasting peace was laid to rest.

    Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but World War II saw the greatest mobilization of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen in the Nation's history. Approximately 16 million Americans served in the Armed Forces during World War II.

    Raymond Weeks of Birmingham, Ala., organized a Veterans Day parade for that city on Nov. 11, 1947, to honor all of America's Veterans for their loyal service. The First World War, unfortunately, was not the war to end all wars, and both World War II and the Korean War dramatically increased the number of American war veterans. Recognizing that Armistice Day was limited to a specific conflict and group of Soldiers, the name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954.

    Later, U.S. Representative Edward H. Rees of Kansas proposed legislation changing the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor all who have served in America's Armed Forces. June 1, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation changing the name of the legal holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.


    In the 1960s, federal legislators attempted to make Veteran's Day fall on a Monday, like Memorial Day and Labor Day. The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, to ensure three-day weekends for federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. The intention was to encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities, and stimulate the economy during the long weekends.

    According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, however, many states did not agree with this decision. The U.S. Army Center of Military history reports that "forty-six states had either continued to commemorate November 11 or had reverted back to the original date based on popular sentiment."

    Confusing and unpopular, the first Veterans Day under the new law was observed on October 25, 1971. It mattered to the citizens that Veterans Day was a specific remembrance, and not just a generic type of holiday. Sept. 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed a law which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of Nov. 11, beginning in 1978.


    Just as personal memories evolve throughout the course of life, so to do things like memorials and holidays. What used to be recognized as a celebration of the end of "the war to end all wars," our modern consciousness sees it differently. It once commemorated a specific day and a group of people involved, and now is emblematic of service and sacrifice for all military members.

    In Sarah E. Drake's article from 2002, "The Postwar Home Front: Memorializing Veterans," she wrote about how those service members from World War II and the Korean War actually witnessed this holiday's evolution firsthand. In 1958, unknown American service members from both of these conflicts were also interred at Arlington National Cemetery, which transformed the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to the Tomb of the Unknowns. The 1921 remembrance of a lone World War I Soldier would be forever changed as these other war dead are now honored there as well.

    Historian Gabrielle Kalapos theorizes that the selection of Nov. 11 as a day for the cease fire "may simply be a coincidence" but this day had ancient historic meaning in the old Roman Julian calendar. In her book, The Origins of Modern Holidays, she posits that not only is fall the season for remembering and commemorating the deceased, but that holidays for this were already part of the European tradition long before World War I.

    Celtic Samhain and the Germanic Day of the Dead were both celebrated Nov. 11, until the switch to the modern Gregorian calendar moved those days to Nov. 1. In addition, Martinmas, or St. Martin's Day, was celebrated on Nov. 11, once Christianity was established in Northern Europe. Named after St. Martin, a Roman soldier who longed for the life of a Christian monk, died on this date in 397 C.E. While an interesting theory, this notion outlines that honoring the dead was long part of the collective Western psyche long before the hostilities of World War I.

    The joyous celebrations of those early Armistice Days should not be forgotten as Americans celebrate Veterans Day. The Revolutionary War hero Nathan Hale said he regretted that he had "but one life to lose for my country." This year, as in all years, it is a time to give thanks for those who have served, pay respect to those who have come home, and honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
  17. Biak

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    Nov 15, 2009
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    One more, this just popped up 3 minutes ago. Another reason to always keep your eyes open.

    Jane White was talking herself out of stopping at an estate sale in her Uptown Minneapolis neighborhood last February. It was snowing, she was recovering from foot surgery, there was nowhere to park.
    Then a car pulled away right in front of the house. White grabbed the spot, walked inside and found the letter.
    Or, as she likes to say, the letter found her.
    While other treasure hunters hovered around the stately home's china, silver and French provincial furniture, White zeroed in on a three-page handwritten letter, with envelope, set out neatly on the desk of the former owner's library.
    The postmark was Germany, April 27, 1945. The writer, 20-year-old James Haahr of Grand Forks, N.D., wrote with warmth and boyish bravado to a Mr. Allen S. King, hinting at historic events swirling around him.
    "Dear Mr. King," Haahr wrote in neat cursive, "I've seen quite a bit over here in Europe -- most of the large cities of England and a few in France -- and of course those in Germany that we took but not on a 'Cook's Tour'! They weren't very glad to see us, I'm afraid."
    Three days later, on April 30, Adolf Hitler committed suicide. Nazi Germany's surrender was ratified in Berlin on May 8.
    "I picked the letter up and realized I had an absolute treasure on my hands," White said. For $2, it was hers.
    White, 57, has long been fascinated by history, some of the best of it hanging on her own family tree. One of her ancestors was a private bodyguard for George Washington. Her great-great-great grandfather was the first assessor of Tucker County in West Virginia, where her parents were raised. He was awarded a princely bonus of $25 for "keeping the nicest books." The money was deducted from the assessor who kept the worst books, White recounted with a laugh.
    But nothing piques White's interest like the potentially monumental accounting found in a simple letter. "My great-uncle Andrew White made my ancestry come alive for me," she said. "Every year around Christmas, he would send long, descriptive letters about our ancestors and the details of their lives."
    Those letters, White said, "make up a part of who we are, whether we become famous or not."
    "We had much tougher fighting in France than we have in Germany -- quite a feeling of satisfaction to roll into one German city after another and see the sheets hanging out of the windows! The people have various reactions and some think we're English rather than Yanks! Close for now. Sincerely, Jim Haahr"
    From a "Who's Who" book nestled into the library shelf of the home on Fremont Avenue S., White learned that King was also from Grand Forks. He later moved to Minneapolis and became president of Northern States Power Co., a predecessor to Xcel Energy. Born in 1900, King died in 1979.
    So, what about Haahr? White's computer was down, so a friend, Judy Harrington, did an Internet search for his unusually spelled name about a month ago. She tracked down Haahr in Reston, Va. White followed up with an old-fashioned call to 411 to get his phone number. She and Haahr have now spoken twice, one of those calls lasting 45 minutes.
    "He was just tickled to find out I had this letter," she said. They're Facebook friends, too.
    Haahr, who is married, turns 88 on Pearl Harbor Day. He has two grown daughters and two grandchildren. He doesn't recall King, but guesses that they were members of the same Grand Forks church. King was likely part of a group writing to the troops to express their support. At the time, Haahr was recovering from wounds sustained in battle.
    Just days after Haahr wrote the upbeat letter, he learned that his 23-year-old brother, Louie, had been killed while serving in the Pacific Islands.
    "My captain said, 'Sgt. Haahr, go back to the tent and take the day off,'" Haahr said in a phone interview this week. "It was a great shock to me. I went back and said a few prayers for my parents and my brother."
    Haahr returned home and graduated from George Washington University. He spent 32 years in the Diplomatic Service. In 2003, Haahr wrote a book about his experiences with the 101st Infantry Regiment, titled "The Command Is Forward."
    On Veterans Day, Haahr will gather with friends, some of them World War II veterans, "for a long kaffeeklatsch." He'll wear his special military jacket "and pretend I'm back in the Army again."
    A special delivery will help him with that. White planned to overnight-ship the letter that Haahr penned 67 years ago so that he'll have it. "I'm glad something I wrote was saved," Haahr said with a laugh.
    White shakes her head. "If I hadn't picked the letter up," she said, "it would have gone into the garbage."

    Wartime letter is returning to sender, 67 years later | StarTribune.com
  18. Biak

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    Nov 15, 2009
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    11/22/2012 - ROYAL AIR FORCE ALCONBURY, England (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

    On a typical day from 1942 to 1945, the flightline on Royal Air Force Alconbury, England, would be full of activity as aircrews, maintainers and weapons troops prepared as many B-17 Flying Fortresses as they could for missions in Germany.

    One of those troops was Ted Penn, a quartermaster in the 685th Air Materiel Squadron, who returned to RAF Alconbury on Nov. 13; the first time in 67 years; to discover the installation in a far different state than when he left it in October of 1945.

    On his tour of the base, Penn shared some of his experiences about World War II RAF Alconbury.

    "We'd play baseball in the summer and football in the winter," the 92-year-old Penn, of Berkeley Heights, N.J., said. "We'd organized a baseball team and played against Jimmy Stewart and his team when they were here at Alconbury for a little bit."

    The Soldiers had many activities to choose from during their downtime to keep them occupied and not go stir crazy, Penn said. The command provided trucks to take us to local pubs and towns where we would buy a meal and some drinks and socialize with our British neighbors.

    Not all of his time at Alconbury was peaceful, as he was present when an explosion rocked the runway. On May 27, 1943, after delivering some supplies to the flightline, Penn stood around talking with "the munitions folks" loading 500-pound bombs on the B-17s before a mission. As the loaders were finishing their task, they told Penn he should head out for lunch and they'll join him.

    "One of the guys, I didn't know his name, told me to get on my bike and beat them down to the mess tent so I could be first in line," he said. "Halfway down the hill, I heard a terrific explosion and the force rocked me on my bike. I hopped off and saw a tremendous fire."

    The ground personnel were arming a B-17F (tail number 42-29685) in the dispersal area when the 500-pound bomb detonated. The explosion, in turn, set off several other bombs. In an instant, 18 men were killed, 21 injured and four B-17s were destroyed on the ground. Eleven other B-17s were damaged. Penn survived by mere seconds.

    "The fellows I was talking to were all gone, and I could just as well have been killed if they hadn't told me to go ahead," he said. "Nothing was left of their plane but a big crater."

    Penn was also responsible for delivering supplies throughout the island, including in the run-up to the D-Day landings.

    "My boss, Lt. Sheets, and I would be on per diem where we wouldn't see the base for weeks at a time," he said. "We were hauling equipment back and forth all over, preparing for the invasion. There were times where it seemed like if we brought more men and equipment, this island would sink!"

    During their time in Britain, the Soldiers could also get passes to travel, giving Penn the opportunity to visit Ireland, Leicester and London. Penn happened to be touring London when victory in Europe was announced.

    "There were so many people out you couldn't even move," he said. "Everyone was just happy, laughing and crying on the streets and hanging out of windows."

    The post-war days at RAF Alconbury were not all full of joy, however. While Penn and other Soldiers stood in formation waiting to depart RAF Alconbury one last time for home, in October 1945, the officer present asked for a volunteer to run and fetch the paperwork necessary to get them all home. A Soldier volunteered and hopped in the waiting jeep for what should have been a 10 to 12 minute trip.

    "About thirty minutes after he left, someone drove up and said the guy had rolled the jeep and died," Penn said. "It was very sad to see someone make it safely through the war, only to die right before we went home."

    After departing RAF Alconbury, Penn boarded the USS Lake Champlain, an aircraft carrier converted to carry Soldiers home from Europe. All of the aircraft were removed from the carrier and there were Soldiers all over.

    "Near the States, we hit the tail-end of a hurricane," Penn said. "The waves were so high, they came up and washed over the flight deck of the carrier. They'd also pick the ship up, and it would start vibrating because the propellers were hanging out of the water."

    Once he got home, he surprised his parents, since they weren't aware he'd be coming home so soon.

    "I was walking down the street and saw my dad walking toward me," he said. "My dad did a double take and then ran to greet me. He led me back into the house and in the kitchen to show my mom, and said he wasn't going to work that day."

    Penn was accompanied to RAF Alconbury his son, John, who grew up hearing stories of his father's time in the Army.

    "My father kept in touch with his Army buddies after he left the service in 1945, but of the dozen or so friends he wrote to each year, there is only his friend, John Swisher, and himself left from the group," said John. "I've always marveled at how much he remembers from those days and hearing him tell of his experiences back then allowed me to have a greater appreciation for what he experienced as a 22-year-old Soldier away from home for the first time."

    John was the driving force behind the visit, as he was determined to see where his father served. It took several months to convince his father to come, but he was finally able to convince his father to return to England.

    "This was my father's second time in England and my first," he said. "I would have felt something was missing if we had not visited the airbase that was the source of so many memories for him, both good and bad. Alconbury played an important role in his life as a young man, the three and half years he was there, and now I have a better feel for the context of his stories, having seen the base personally. It was important for me to give him the chance to pass on his knowledge and experiences to today's Airmen."
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    Nov 15, 2009
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    [h=1]Generations of Tomb Guards reunite[/h] November 28, 2012

    Since 1948, The Tomb of the Unknown Identification Badge, has been awarded to a small percentage of Soldiers who exemplified selfless service while guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier [TUS] in Arlington National Cemetery, Va.
    On Nov.17, they gathered to reflect on this special duty and the unique bond that exist within it.

    "We are a part of a strong brotherhood of dedicated men and women that have worn this badge over the years," said Sgt. Brian Gougler, Sentinel, TUS, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). "No matter what generation they served in, [badge holders] all live by the same creed."

    Gougler said he looked forward to his first Tomb reunion because of the understanding he hoped to gain from the experience.

    "This is how we continue to pass the torch of knowledge to the next generation," said Gougler. "I'm able to talk with badge holders who served 40 or 50 years ago to gain a deeper understanding of how things used to be. They're major differences because time has certainly changed, but the mission has remained the same. There is only one standard and that is perfection in everything we do."

    During the reunion, Sentinels, past and present, reflected on their honorable duty.

    "We talked about how each Sentinel spent many late nights preparing a perfect uniform to walk the mat," said Gougler. "Sentinels today are allowed to wear head gear that wasn't allowed back then and that's ok. Some things do separate us, but we all did our missions no matter what."

    Gougler added how great it was to see this time of bonding with those who have earned the badge.

    Timothy F. Gerard, Sentinel Badge #328, Society of the Honor Guard, TUS, agreed.

    "It really means a lot to the older guys to talk with some of these younger guys," said Gerard. "It is both refreshing and rewarding because some badge holders who served many years ago still wish they could still get back out there and guard the Tomb."

    Gougler shared the same sentiments.

    "It is amazing to see the younger guys and some of these gentlemen talk and share what is a special time that only a very few have experienced or even know about," said Gougler. "I found that many guys enjoyed the night hours. They were the best times in my life."

    It can take anywhere between six months to more than a year to earn the badge, the second least awarded badge in the Army after the Astronaut Badge. Gerard said this rarity helps keep the group even closer.

    "There aren't that many of us so everyone knows everyone," said Gerard.

    Although the years have come and gone along with the duties of those who once served, one thing remains unchanged about the responsibility of a Tomb Sentinel.

    "The job of guarding the Tomb is still being done every day. It doesn't matter the time of day or weather condition," said Gougler. "This is the best job in the Army because each one of us has given our best to provide the Unknowns the proper dignity and respect they deserve. Each generation of Sentinels is tied to one another and it provides a direct link to the history of the job I love."

    Generations of Tomb Guards reunite | Article | The United States Army
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    [h=1]99-year-old World War II veteran, retiree recalls Pearl Harbor, war years[/h] [​IMG]

    WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. (Dec. 11, 2012) -- To help put this year's Pearl Harbor Day remembrance into perspective, one of Watervliet Arsenal's oldest living retirees this week recalled life at the Arsenal during the early days of World War II.

    Ernie Blanchet, from Troy, N.Y., said that his father was once a machinist at the Arsenal during World War I and as a kid, he often walked along the Erie Canal that once flowed through the Arsenal.

    As one of 12 children, Ernie found that he had to go to work at an early age to help support his family. He worked in local textile mills for $12 a week making underwear. He ventured out of state for awhile, but even that job did not provide him a sense of purpose that he was looking for. Tired of going from job to job, he decided to settle down and to build a career.

    At age 28, and just months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Ernie landed a job at Watervliet Arsenal. The date was June 16, 1941.

    "I was at my sister's house on December 7th, 1941, when my nieces brought in the news that Pearl Harbor was attacked," Ernie said. "I remember thinking that maybe the Arsenal was going to be a target, too, because of the important work we were doing to help prepare our country for war."

    "When I reported for work on Monday, the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked, armed security guards had closed all the gates except for one," Ernie recalled. "Lines of cars, as well as workers, were backed up as security guards checked every vehicle and person coming into work."

    Most of the Arsenal workers, which numbered nearly 1,000 at the time, walked in through the gate versus drove in during the early 1940s. When the lines at the gate got backed up, hundreds of workers scaled the Arsenal walls to get to work on time, Ernie said.

    Security also tightened inside the gate, Ernie added. New security badges were issued that granted limited access to the buildings. The days of being able to freely walk through one building to get to another had ended.

    "I was lucky because I was on the quality control inspection team," Ernie said. "What this meant is that I had access to every building, which made me feel very special."

    Ernie has great praise for the World War II era leadership and workforce. What the attack did to the workforce was that it brought everyone together as a team, Ernie said. Within a few months, the Arsenal workforce went from several hundred to several thousand workers.

    From the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor until the Normandy Invasion in 1944, the Arsenal manufactured more than 23,000 cannons with an on-time delivery rate of 99.6 percent.

    Ernie was part of this unprecedented achievement, an achievement that has yet to be equaled.
    And so, on this 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, there is a sense of reflection by the Arsenal workforce. Arsenal history books speak volumes about the World War II era, or what former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw called "The Greatest Generation" years. But the books pale in comparison to the stories told this week by Ernie.

    Ernie eventually enlisted in 1944 and served on a U.S. Navy Destroyer Escort ship until he was discharged after the war. He came back to the Arsenal after his discharge where he worked until he retired in 1971. He is now 99-years-old and he said he plans to help the Arsenal celebrate its 200th anniversary in July 2013, when he will be 100.

    The Watervliet Arsenal is very proud of Ernie's service to the Arsenal and to his country. And on this Pearl Harbor Day, our thoughts and prayers are with those who gave their lives for our country on that fateful day in December 1941.

    99-year-old World War II veteran, retiree recalls Pearl Harbor, war years | Article | The United States Army

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