Note from the Editor
In this issue we feature an Iwo Jima related article that is horrifying in nature; why the Korean War became known as the "Forgotten War"; a harrowing story of a MACV SOC team fighting VC/NVA on Marble Mountain; a poem written by a Marine before he died in Vietnam; and how the "Memphis Belle" received the glory for being the first heavy-bomber to achieve 25 missions. I'd also like to thank you for Letters to the Editor. Please keep them coming.
Please send any comments, bulletin board postings or member-written articles to my attention at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LtCol Mike Christy, US Army (Ret)
George H.W. Bush and the Chichi Jima Incident
By the summer of 1944, continuous successes against the Japanese placed Allied forces on the doorsteps of its mainland. Convinced an invasion of Japan was necessary for a final victory, military commanders began planning for an amphibious landing on the strategically located Iwo Jima, roughly 575 miles from the Japanese coast. Once in the hands of the Allies, Iwo Jima would be a perfect place where B-29 bombers, damaged over Japan, could land without returning all the way to the Mariana Islands retaken from the Japanese after brutal fighting on Guam, Saipan and Tinian. It would also serve as a base for escort fighters that would assist in the bombing campaign.
In June 1944, Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher's Task Force began naval ship bombardments and air raids against Iwo Jima in preparation for an amphibious assault.
One hundred and fifty miles north of Iwo Jima was Chichi Jima, another target of multiple bombings beginning on June 1944 and ending September 1944. These earlier raids and those prior to the landing on Iwo Jima on February 3, 1945, the total number of ship barrages and air raids were among the longest and most intense of the Pacific theater.
On Chichi Jima, the 25,000 Japanese operated a Naval Base, a small seaplane base, a weather station, and various gunboat, sub-chaser, and minesweeping units, as well as relay communications and surveillance operations from two radio relay stations atop its two mountains. While destroying the supply and repair operations were key, one of the primary target was the destruction of the radio relay transmitter.
At 7:15 am, on Sept. 3, 1944, four Avengers were launched from the USS San Jacinto, to join four Hellcats from the USS Enterprise. Each of the fighters carried four 500 pound bombs. Twenty-year-old Lieutenant Junior Grade George H. W. Bush was one of the Avenger pilots.
When the aircraft arrived over Chichi Jima shortly after 8 am, they began attacking designated targets. Bush was the third pilot to dive on the radio tower transmitter. After nosing over into a 30 degree dive, Bush lined up on the target when his Avenger plane was hit by antiaircraft fire, engulfing it in flames. He continued unto the target and with his visibility blinded by the smoke, released his bombs. All four made direct hits on the radio tower. Flying away from the island, his burning plane lost power. He radioed his crew, Radioman Second Class John Delaney and gunner Lieutenant Junior Grade William White, to "Hit the silk!"
Wanting to get a few more miles away from the island, Bush stayed at the controls as long as he could allowing Radioman John Delaney to bail out only to die when his parachute failed to open. LtJg William White went down with the aircraft.
When Bush jumped over the side of his aircraft, the slipstream caught his lanky frame and sent it crashing into the tail of the Avenger. His head grazed the starboard elevator and his parachute snagged on the tail and ripped.With a few torn panels, the chute plummeted too fast, dropping Bush hard into the ocean. Only slightly bruised from the fall, he waited for four hours in an inflated raft, while several fighters circled protectively overhead until he was rescued by the lifeguard submarine USS Finback. For the next month he remained on the Finback, and participated in the rescue of other pilots. (Photo is Bush's rescue by submarine crew members)
Several other American flyers on the same bombing mission were also shot down and those few who survived were captured by Japanese soldiers and held prisoners on Chichi Jima Island.
As the date for the February 3, 1945 amphibious invasion on Iwo Jima grew closer, bombing intensified over Iwo Jima and nearby Chichi Jima. During these bombing operations more than one hundred American airmen were shot down over and around the Bonin Islands, but American submarines were able to rescue only three of them, including future U.S. President George H. W. Bush. Most of the others died with their aircraft or succumbed to the cold waters off Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima. Only a few were captured and taken to Chichi Jima as Prisoners of War. That brought a total of nine American airmen known to have been captured. Then they seemed to disappear from the face of the earth.
When the war was over, records from a top-secret military tribunal were sealed, the lives of eight of the nine aviators were erased, and the parents, brothers, sisters, and sweethearts they left behind were left to wonder. James Bradley - author of "Flags of our Fathers" - set out to solve the almost sixty year mystery on what happened to the aviators (Photo of Admiral Kunzio Mori during his war crimes trial in Guam).
In his pursuit to find the answers, Bradley conducted a massive search of eye-witnesses in American and Japan, combed through untapped government archives containing classified documents, and finally a trip to Chichi Jima itself to try to find out what really happened to the eight missing POWs. The ninth aviator's was released at the war's end in 1945.
His primary source for the truth kept secret until little over a decade ago were the records of the war-crimes trial of Gen. Yoshio Tachibana and Japanese officers in his command at Chichi Jima. The fascinating, unbelievable findings uncovered from his search are contained in his 2006 book, "Flyboys: A True Story of Courage."
(Photo shows Gen. Yoshio Tachibana signing the surrender of the Bonin Island chain in September 1944)
In late 1945, as part of Japanese war crime trials, a 20-man Marine Police Force, led by Col. Presley M. Rexes, was specifically detailed to probe the whereabouts of American pilots that bailed out over the Islands after their aircraft were disabled during bombing missions. He discovered what he was looking for in the records of General Yoshio Tachibana war crime trial in 1947. International Journal of Naval History also helped complete the details on what happened to the eight missing aviators.
According to the investigation, by mid-1945, due to the Allied naval blockade, Japanese troops on Chichi Jima ran low on supplies and were starving, so Tachibana's senior staff turned to cannibalism. In August 1944 and February/March 1945 in what came to be known later as the "Ogasawara Incident," Tachibana - a notorious sadistic, alcoholic commander - issued an order that all American prisoners of war (downed aviators) be killed. Lt. Col. Kikujima and Capt. Noboru Nakajima clubbed, bayoneted, beheaded and mutilated the eight American airmen. Not only the ones who bailed out over the island, but those who landed offshore and were picked up by Japanese patrol boats. (Photo is the beheading of a captured Australian commando operating behind enemy lines).
Per an account in Time Magazine, two of the prisoners were beheaded in a public ceremony and their livers immediately cut from their bodies, roasted and served as an appetizer to visiting Senior Japanese Navy Officer during a Sukiyaki party. The Japanese Navy officers subsequently reciprocated by hosting a party where they butchered and served their own American POW's. Other parts of the airmen's bodies were boiled as meat for stew.
The names of the eight aviators executed are:
Navy Aviation Radioman Jimmy Dye, from Mount Ephraim, New Jersey
Navy Pilot Floyd Hall from Sedalia, Missouri
Navy Aviation Radioman Marve Mershon from Los Angeles, California
Marine Pilot Warren Earl Vaughn from Childress, Texas
Navy Aviation Radioman Dick Woellhof from Clay Center, Kansas
Aviation Gunners Grady York from Jacksonville, Florida
Navy Aviation Gunner Glenn Frazier from Athol, Kansas
Navy Pilot Warren Hindenlang of Foxboro, Massachusetts.
The ninth aviator, Navy Pilot William L. Connell from Seattle, Washington was held as a Prisoner of War until the end of hostilities in September 1945.
This photo taken of then 88-year-old Connell in 2012 was the day he jumped out of an airplane for the first time since he was shot down at age 20 and parachuted into the hands of the Japanese.
In 1946, 30 Japanese soldiers were court-martialed on Guam on charges of executing prisoners. However, as cannibalism was not covered under international law at the time, Gen. Tachibana, Major Sueo Matoba, Admiral Kunzio Mori and Capt. Yoshii were charged with "prevention of honorable burial." The four, plus a fifth officer, were found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. All of the enlisted men were released within eight years.
The execution and cannibalism of American POWs at Chichi Jima was not an isolated incident. Many written reports and testimonies collected by tribunals indicate that Japanese personnel in many parts of Asia and the
Pacific committed acts of cannibalism against Allied prisoners of war. In many cases this was inspired by ever-increasing Allied attacks on Japanese supply lines, and the death and illness of Japanese as a result of hunger. According to historian Yuki Tanaka, "Cannibalism was often a systematic activity conducted by whole squads and under the command of officers."
Perhaps the most interesting detail about the execution and cannibalization of the eight aviators was the fact that George H.W. Bush narrowly escaped the same destiny. But what if he hadn't? Inexorably, the history of America's presidential and foreign policy would have been dramatically different.
Korea - The Forgotten War
Calling the war in Korea the "forgotten war" has been part of the American lexicon since 1951. However, why it was called that in the first place is not completely understood.To understand how the words and, more importantly, how its meaning became part of our national mentality, one must first appreciate the history of what was occurring on the Korean peninsula before, during and following the war.
Korea was ruled by Japan from 1910 until the closing days of World War II in 1945 when the Allies split the former Japanese colony along the 38th parallel, with the north administered by the Soviet Union and the South by the United States. Over the next few years the Soviets and the Americans gradually withdrew their forces, and the two Koreas were all but "forgotten" as the world focused on Germany, Eastern Europe, and China's civil war and revolution.
That all changed the early morning hours on June 25, 1950, when North Korean troops stormed across the38th parallel and invaded South Korea, catching the greatly outnumbered and ill-equipped South Korea's forces off guard and throwing them into a hasty southern retreat. American and other Allied troops still located in Korea also withdrew to the south, setting up blocking and delaying positions until they reached the southern tip of the Korean peninsula. The most famous of these blocking stances was Task Force Smith on July 27, 1950 at the Battle of Osan, approximately 20 miles south of Seoul. North Korean troops and tanks eventually overwhelmed American positions and the remnants of the Task Force retreated in disorder to the south.
The United Nations quickly condemned the invasion and demanded an immediate cessation of hostilities and for North Korea to withdraw its armed forces back above the 38th parallel. When the North Koreans failed to comply, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution on June 27, 1950 recommending that its members provide military assistance to South Korea.
Although he did not want to find the United States embroiled in another war, President Harry Truman soon agreed to send American forces into action, and on July 7, 1950, the U.N. Security Council recommended that all U.N. forces sent to South Korea be put under U.S. command. The next day, General Douglas MacArthur was named Supreme Commander of all U.N. Forces in Korea.
By early August, 1950 the weakened Allies had been pushed all the way back to the Pusan Perimeter, a defensive line around an area in the southeastern corner of theKorean peninsula. Throughout August and into September, the Americans and their counterparts fought off attack after attack from the North Koreans, barely preventing them from advancing any further. The first reinforcement to arrive by ship in the Pusan Harbor where the Army First Cavalry Division and U.S. Marines stationed in Japan. Other U.N. troops arrived as well, allowing the Allies to take the offensive.
Wanting to crush North Korean forces not only near Pusan but elsewhere in South Korea, MacArthur devised an audacious plan to land troops behind the enemy lines at Inchon - about 100 miles south of the 38th parallel and 25 miles northwest from Seoul. In that way his forces could attack the North Koreans from both directions.
Initially MacArthur's proposal met with resistance when other senior American military leaders - mostly Navy officers - criticized the plan as too risky, pointing to a variety of challenges associated with landing at Inchon, including the narrow port channel and extreme tidal changes. MacArthur argued that these factors would mean the North Koreans wouldn't expect the Allies to attempt an amphibious landing at the poorly defended Inchon.
MacArthur received the official go-ahead for the Inchon landing and beginning on September 15, 1950, American-led U.N. forces converged on the North Korean army from the north and the south, killing or capturing thousands North Korean soldiers and disrupting their supply lines. All along the Korean peninsula, the now disorganized units of the North Korean army were trying to hold on while others quickly retreated back over the 38th parallel.
General Douglas MacArthur ordered troops to pursue the retreating North Koreans further into North Korea while sending other U.N. force southeast and to recapture Seoul, which they succeeded to do by September 26, 1950 following bitter, deadly house-to-house fighting.
By early October 1950, American and South Korean forces advanced deep into North Korea, destroying North Koreans units and sending them further into retreat toward to the Yalu River, which separates North Korea from Communist China. On October 19, the North Korean capital of Pyongyang was captured.
McArthur then pushed American troops further north toward the Yalu River. Chinese leaders threatened to intervene in the conflict if U.N. forces continued north or crossed the border into China. McArthur felt confident the Chinese were bluffing and would never enter the war. It was a miscalculation that ultimately helped get him fired by Truman.
In late November, as record subzero temperatures blown in by cold northern winds, a massive force of 300,000 Chinese troops crossed into North Korea undetected and joined the demoralized North Korean forces.
In brutal freezing cold-weather fighting, the outnumbered U.N. forces, surrounded by North Koreans and Chinese, began withdrawing from the Chosin Reservoir and other footholds along the further stretches of North Korea. The complete breakout from the Chosin Reservoir took a few weeks before some U.N. forces reached Hungnam's port facilities and evacuated by ships. Other badly depleted U.N. forces rapidly retreated towards the 38th parallel.
In early January 1951, the Communists recaptured Seoul, only to have the Allies reoccupy it again in March. By May 1951, the communists were pushed back to the 38th parallel, and the battle line remained in that vicinity for the rest of the war as US and North Korean armistice negotiators, neither willing to surrender an inch of bloody worthless frozen ground, took their own sweet time dawdling in the comfort of a heated "peace tent" at the abandoned village of Panmunjom.
On July 27, 1953, after two years of bitter back and forth negotiation and three years of war that killed about 600,000 soldiers on both sides and as many as 2 million civilians, military leaders from China, North Korea and the United Nations signed an armistice that ended the fighting and established a 2.5-mile-wide demilitarized zone to serve as a buffer between the two Koreas.
Korea remains divided along the 38th parallel with North and South Korea still making threats against each other, raising nuclear-tipped spears, conducting "training exercises" and firing "stray rounds." Every day, communist and anticommunist forces - including Americans - stare each other down across no man's land and conduct reconnaissance and security patrols along the most heavily fortified space in the world. Nearly every day the media reminds us about the tensions between the two Koreas, which are perhaps worse today than when the U.N. sent troops there 62 years ago.
Isolated North Korea continues to be ruled by a one-family dictatorship currently led by its erratic and immature Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un who and in the tradition of his father and grandfather, uses the nations meager resources on military might while his enslaved people continue to starve to death.
South Korea, however, has grown into the eight wealthiest nation in the world and Seoul's quality of life in 2013 was found to be higher than that of New York City, London, or Melbourne but slightly lower than Tokyo and Paris.
So why is the Korean War Korea still referred to as a "police action," "the Korean conflict" and "the forgotten war," when in fact it was inescapably a real, hard slugging, miserable war where millions died and many more suffered from the hostilities? And why in spite of it significance of being the first shooting war of the Cold War, pitting democracy to communism?
Here are some of the reasons given for why it gained the label "the forgotten war" and continues to be referred to in that manner by many.
Nestled snugly between the storied glory of the last "good war" - Second World War and that twelve year nightmare known as Vietnam - the Korean War is mostly forgotten because very little was accomplished according to some. They point out the neither side won nor did they lose it since they never signed a permanent peace treaty, so both sides are technically still at war.
Another theory goes something like this: it was fought in a remote, backward country of no vital, strategic interest, and it ended in a deadlock "the kiss of death for national pride and war memory. What contradicts that idea, however, is the Korean War Veterans Memorial dedicate to the spirit, sacrifice, and commitment of the men and women who served during the Korean War.
Dedicate on July 27, 1995, the 42nd anniversary of the armistice that ended the war, it is in Washington, D.C.'s West Potomac Park, southeast of the Lincoln Memorial and just south of the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall. There are 38 infantrymen statues scattered across an open field to symbolize the 38th parallel.
Perhaps the one theory that makes some sense on how the forgotten war idea came into being was put forth by Melinda Pash in her book "In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation: The Americans Who Fought the Korean War," which examines this significant but neglected war.
She wrote Korea has been called a "Forgotten War" since at least October 1951 when U.S. News & World Report gave it that moniker. In reality, Americans did not so much forget the Korean War as never having thought about it at all. When the war first broke out, people worried that American involvement would usher in the same type of rationing and full mobilization that had characterized World War II. That failed to occur and within a few months, most Americans turned back to their own lives, ignoring the conflict raging half a world away.
Newspapers continued to report on the war, but with the entrance of the Chinese in late fall 1950 and the resulting stalemate in late 1951, few Americans wanted to read or think about Korea despite the nearly two million American serving in Korea.
No doubt, many of our citizens - mostly because it is so well entrenched in our psyche - will continue to "forget" or ignore the Korean War and its veterans. Yet on so many levels this shows general disrespect for those American patriots who bravely fought in a bitter Vietnam war where 54,246 died and another 103,254 were injured. Then of course there are the 7,140 POWs and the 8,117 U.S. troops still officially missing in action. Don't families of those who died deserve the honor of knowing their loved one died in a real war and not a forgotten one?
Six Days on Marble Mountain
By Neil R. Thorne
Eleven miles south of Da Nang stands five small, forested marble and limestone mountains bounded by a river on the West and separated by Highway One. Like silent sentinels guarding the coastline, the five are known collectively as Marble Mountain. The highest of these mountains, closest to the beach, is Nui Thuy Son or Kim Son, where several Buddhist temples and shrines have occupied open areas among the steep rocky surfaces for hundreds of years.
Deep caves meander through the interior in a vast, connecting network of tunnels. At the entrance of some caves are statues of Buddha. Occasionally North Vietnamese and Vietcong soldiers hide in the caves to rest or reorganize following a battle. Yet in spite of the inherent danger of sharing the mountain with the enemy,
Army and Marine recon and observation teams routinely maintain a watchful eye over American units dotting the coastline below. Two of these units, MACV SOG's CCN's Forward Operational Base (FOB) 4 and C Company of the 5th Special Forces Group, share a strip of beach just north of the mountain
On August 21, 1968, a team from CCN, Spike Team Rattler, begin a long arduous trek up the rugged face of Nui Thuy Son in search of a worthy place to setup a listening and observation post overlooking the basin. The team, seven Chinese ethnic Nung mercenaries led by team leader Special Forces Sgt.1st Class Ames and squad leader Staff Sgt. Larry Trimble, move methodically, expertly up the mountain until they reach an overhang among the rocks. Without a word spoken,
a hasty defensive perimeter is established. Ames and Trimble look down the cliff at a small clearing hidden by foliage and rocks. This is a perfect place for an observation and listening post with a panoramic view of two Marine outposts, their CCN compound, C-Team Headquarters, and other units below.
Satisfied no enemy are in the area, ropes are thrown down and one-by-one team members carefully ease down the craggy, weather-beaten face of the cliff, quietly setting into what will be their lair for the next few days. As dusk turns to night, no enemy has yet been seen or heard. The same is true the following day. What the team doesn't know is elite NVA Sappers and VC units are quietly hiding in caves below preparing for a major assault on American units on the coast.
Sometime after midnight on August 23, 1968, the team is
alerted by the sounds and sights of explosions and green and red tracers lighting up the darkness - the NVA and VC are attacking the two Marine outposts. Trimble grabs the radio, desperately trying to contact the Marines but fails. Quickly changing the radio frequency, he calls his CCN compound just as they too are attacked. Spike Team Rattler has no choice but to helplessly watch in horror at the certain death and destruction unfolding before their eyes. But within minutes they too are under heavy attack by enemy soldiers.
In one section of the perimeter, the enemy mounts a ground attack, threating to overrun the team's position. Trimble hands the radio to Ames and rushes forward to organize a defense from the assaulting enemy. In the midst of throwing grenades and laying down continuous fire on the advancing enemy, a Nung points out a nearby enemy mortar dropping rounds on the CCN compound. Raising and firing a M79 rocket launcher, Trimble destroys the mortar position. Enemy fire becomes more sporadic as flares coming from the basin, light up the darkness, casting eerie shadows on the mountain and the fierce fighting below.
Fifteen minutes after the initial attack on FOB 4 and the C-Team, a Spectre AC-130 gunship arrives over the battle area, hosing down the attacking NVA and VC with a steady stream of deadly fire from its 25mm Gatling-type rotary cannon. The fight continues inside the CCN compound, small arms fire and satchel-charges explode everywhere as the enemy and Special Forces soldiers fight hand-to-hand in deadly combat.
After what seems like forever, the rising sun from the South China Sea pushes back the shadows on the beach as surviving NVA and VC escape along the South China Sea beach.
In the growing daylight, the terrible bloodbath is overwhelming for both battle harden warriors and those with little or no experience in war.
But the fighting is not over for Spike Team Rattler.
Wanting to check how vulnerable the team might be, Trimble and several of the Nungs leave their perimeter only to run into an enemy patrol. Following a short firefight, with Ames and the other Nungs from inside the perimeter providing covering fire, a second enemy 82mm mortar is captured along with other enemy equipment and documents.
A helicopter flies out and takes the enemy equipment and documents. Ames accompanies the documents back. Some shots are fired at the hovering helicopter just before it climbs away. Trimble, the only American on the ground, is now the team leader. Among the captured papers was a detailed plan for a second attack on the Marine amphibious unit, which was thwarted.
Still surrounded on the mountain, Trimble learns from his interpreter the Nungs intend to sneak through the enemy lines and return to the compound. Refusing to abandon his post, the Nungs leave him behind. But moments after leaving, a firefight erupts bringing them running back to Trimble. With no hope of escaping and too much enemy fire for a helicopter extraction, the team stays put.
That night the enemy tries twice to overrun the perimeter only to be turned back by the team's ground fire and gunships firing danger-close to the team's perimeter. So close, the team is peppered by shrapnel, flying rocks and debris. One Nung is so severely wounded in this fight, he surely would have died if not for Trimble, a trained medic, stopping the bleeding.
On the morning of August 24, a relief helicopter drops in supplies to the beleaguered team as it reorganizes for a breakout. A Special Forces Hatchet platoon is dispatched to assist in the breakout but has to retreat after taking heavy casualties from an enemy determined to prevent Spike Team Rattler's escape. Miraculously, that night is quiet. (Photo is Trimble carefully surveying the area)
In the morning when a helicopter flies in to evacuate the wounded, it receives no enemy fire nor were any enemy spotted. Trimble and the remnants of Spike Team Rattler hold out for another day to ensure the enemy is gone. But none were seen. It seems the NVA and VC have left the mountain.
On August 26, 1968, Spike Team Rattler manages to make their way off the mountain on foot, leaving behind six days of hell none will ever forget. (Photo shows Trimble at base camp)
Eighteen American Special Forces warriors and over 80 indigenous mercenaries were dead, with scores more wounded. It was the deadliest attack on U.S. Special Forces in history. According to CCN members, had it not been for Trimble knocking out the enemy mortar, many more would have died. And so grateful for capturing documents that thwarted the attack on the USMC amphibious unit, the Marines threw a spur-of-the moment celebration for Spike Team Rattler on their return.
Neil Thorne, a MACV SOG historian and researchers, served 11 years with the Virginia and West Virginia Army National Guard as a Light Infantry Scout. His particular interest is working with the recovery of lost and missing recognition for members of Special Operations from recently declassified Vietnam War operations.
Who is He?
By Lester Atherden
Submitted by his brother
Marine TWS member David Atherden
Who is he?
You sit at home and watch,
Sipping a refreshing cold iced tea.
The news comes on and then you hear,
The All-Star game is drawing near.
Then you see a far off land,
Where men are dying in the sand.
A frown appears across your face,
You are tired of hearing about this place.
Who cares about Vietnam across the sea?
It's far away and doesn't concern me,
You'd rather hear the Beatles play,
Than learn about the world today.
But stop and think a moment or two,
And ask yourself,
Does this concern you?
It's great to be alive and free,
But what about the guy across the sea?
He's giving up his life for me
So I can live under liberty.
Instead of fighting at my front door,
This guy who lives in filth and slime,
How can he do it all the time?
He's about my age so why should he care
About a war someone else should share.
You call him vile names and make fun of his cause,
Yet he is always first to win your war.
You lucky guy, you laugh and sneer,
Because you never really known fear.
This young man faces death each day,
But he's always got something funny to say.
No mail again,
Again a twinge of sorrow,
Oh what the hell there's always tomorrow.
The morale is low, the tension is high,
Some even break down and cry.
He wants to go home and see a loved one.
He works all day and stands guard all night.
He's tired and sick but continues to fight,
The college crowd thinks he's a fool,
But that's what makes him hard and cruel.
You don't appreciate what he will do,
Like giving up his life for you.
He sacrifices much yet he has nothing in return,
So just that you can stay in school and learn,
No parties and dances for this young man,
Until he comes home again.
The days are hot and the nights are too,
What wonder a cold can of beer can do!
He dreams of cold beer and a thick juicy steak,
When someone shouts,
We've got a hill to take.
Some will be heroes because they are brave,
And others will get a reef on their graves.
You'll recognize him as he walks by,
There's a saddened look in his eye,
He walks so proud yet looks so mean,
He's called the world's greatest fighting machine.
No wonder he's proud,
He's a United States Marine.
Lester Atherden was killed in Quang Ngaia on March 4, 1966
View tributes on to this brave young man here:
Military Facts and Legends:
First WW II Aircraft Crew to Reach 25 Missions
In 1917 and 1918, the United States government issued Liberty Bonds to raise money for our involvement in World War I. By the summer of 1940 when it appeared the United States would be drawn into World War II, bonds again were being sold as a way to remove money from circulation as well as reduce inflation. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 the bonds became known at War Bonds.
To promote selling the War Bonds, rallies were held throughout the country with famous celebrities, usually Hollywood film stars, sports personalities and war heroes such as John Basilone and Audie Murphy. Famous American artists, including Norman Rockwell, created a series of illustrations that became the centerpiece of war bond advertising.
Although the U.S. Army Air Force sent its individual war heroes to War Bond rallies, it preferred sending 10-man heavy bombers crews. That because the American public knew heavy bomber crews faced death on every mission with only one in four chance of actually completing their tour of duty; that's an average life expectancy of only eight weeks. So dangerous was flying heavy bomber combat missions, the USAAF had a policy that when an aircrew wrapped up 25 missions it was deemed to have "completed their tour of duty." The War Department would then bring the bomber and its crew home to conduct nationwide promotional tours to sell war bonds to help fund the war effort.
According to decades of World War II aviation history, the crew of the "Memphis Belle" became the first B-17F Flying Fortress crew to complete 25 missions following a strike against Kiel, Germany. She and her crew were promptly sent home to the United States to join the War Bond selling tours.
A 1944 documentary film was produced detailing its exploits and in 1990, a Hollywood feature film entitled the "Memphis Belle" perpetuated its glory for decades. Problem was, the "Memphis Belle was not the first heavy bomber to survive 25 combat missions. Nor was she the second. She was the third.
The first to complete 25 combat mission was the crew of B-24 Liberator named "Hot Stuff" dropping bombs on Naples, Italy on February 7, 1943 - three-and-a-half months before "Memphis Belle" flew her 25th mission. "Hot Stuff" and her crew went on to fly five additional missions before she and her crew were recalled to the United States, where they were scheduled to go on a War Bonds Tour.
In early May, 1943 as the crew prepared for their flight to the States for their War Bonds publicity tour, they got a call from the office of Lt. General Frank M. Andrews, Commander of the European Theater of Operations, asking if he could hitch a ride back to the States. Andrews, an experienced, instrument-rated pilot, bumped the normal co-pilot off the plane and flew in his place. Also aboard were Andrews' staff and four clergymen. Five other crewmen were bumped to make room for Andrews and his entourage.
The first refueling stop before heading out over the Atlantic was scheduled for Prestwick, Scotland, but the crew decided to fly directly to their second refueling stop at Reykjavik, Iceland. Closing in of Reykjavik they ran into snow squalls, low clouds and rain. After several landing attempts, "Hot Stuff" crashed into the side of 1,600-foot-tall Mount Fagradalsfjall, near Grindavik, Iceland. Upon impact, the aircraft disintegrated except for the tail gunner's turret which remained relatively intact. Of the 15 aboard, 14 died. Miraculously the injured tail-gunner, Sgt. George Eisel, survived the crash. Because his leg got tangled up in heavy wreckage, he couldn't move. Twenty-four hours later he was rescued and the bodies recovered.
In 1945 Camp Springs Air Base in Prince Georges County, Maryland was renamed Andrews Field in Gen. Andrews honor. It has since been renamed Joint Base Andrews.
The "Hot Stuff" and her crew were soon forgotten.
"Hell's Angels" a B-17F Flying Fortress became the first 8th Air Force B-17 to complete 25 combat missions in June 1943. At the end of their tour, the crew of "Hell's Angels" signed on for a second tour and continued to fly, going on to fly 48 missions, without ever turning back from their assigned target. The aircraft was returned to the states on January 20, 1944 for it's own publicity tour.
Since 1943 Word War II aviation history considered the "Memphis Belle" as the first heavy bomber to reach the 25-mission mark. Eye witnesses and early documents tell a different story:
"Hot Stuff" was the first B-24 crew and the first heavy bomber to complete 25 combat missions on February 7, 1943.
"Hell's Angels" was the first B-17 crew to complete 25 combat missions on May 13, 1943.
Coming it third place was the "Memphis Belle," which completed 25 combat missions on May 19, 1943. (Photo is a jubilant "Memphis Belle" crew following their 25-mission)
So why did the U.S. Army Air Force promote the "Memphis Belle" as the first heavy bomber to fly 25 combat missions?
According to Warbird News, our government was anxious to report uplifting and inspiring stories of the war that would capture the American public's imagination. For the USAAF it was heavy bombers crews that successfully reached 25 combat mission in defiance of actuarial norms. Because the "Memphis Belle" hit that momentous milestone without a crewman's death made her the likely candidate to be first to return home for a War Bond tour.
Americans, for better or worse are conditioned to respond to a happy ending, especially when it goes against all probability.
TWS Bulletin Board
If you wish to make a post to our new Bulletin Board - People Sought, Assistance Needed, Jobs Available in Your Company, Reunions Pending, Items for Sale or Wanted, Services Available or Wanted, Product or Service Recommendations, Discounts for Vets, Announcements, Death Notices - email it to us at email@example.com.
Members Appreciation Discount
Get a 25% discount on Full Membership, for unrestricted access to all Service Profiles on all TWS websites. Simply enter Promocode OY25 in the payment form under the "Upgrade" tab. Paypal users, contact Chief Administrator Diane Short on the Help Desk on the Login Page for an additional offer.
SR-71 High Altitude Breakup
Our last issue of Dispatches we featured an article about the rise and fall of the SR-71 Blackhawk reconnaissance aircraft. It has since been brought to our attention an amazing story of test pilot Bill Weaver and Jim Zwayer, a flight test reconnaissance and navigation systems specialist, were flying at 78,000 feet when their SR-71 literally disintegrated around them.
Read about their death defying experience at:
Iwo Jima's Surviving Senior Ranking Officer
February 19, 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the start of the five-week struggle taking Iwo Jima. Lt. Gen. Lawrence F. USMC (Ret.), was a 23-year-old Captain and commander of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division. He was among the first waves of Marines going in and today is the most senior ranking survivor. He also served during the war in Korean and Vietnam.
On the 67th Anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, Gen. Snowden gave a talk at the Marines' Memorial Association in San Francisco. It can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3WQGSv7_w8
Two videos on the Battle of Iwo Jima - one from Ken Burn's PBS documentary WW II - can be viewed at:
If you served in or close to RVN be sure to get checked for Agent Orange support. If you local VA will not help contact your state Veterans agency, between them and the VFW they will get you support. I had the greatest support from the VFW where I am now a life member. There are many presumed conditions.
Warriors at 45 North
The name of the camp is Warriors at 45 North and we would like to invite vets and active duty military up to the camp for rest and relaxation. We invite them up and the only thing they have to do is get to the woods of NH and the rest is on us. We take them hunting, fishing, snowmobiling and ATV riding or what ever they want at no cost to them. Please feel free to check out our web-site firstname.lastname@example.org
or our FB Page Wounded Warriors at 45 North. We are a non-profit with our 501(c)(3) and everyone of us on our board is retired and prior military and we are all volunteers so the money that we raise goes right back to the care of the vets we bring up. For a list of up coming trips please check our web-site
Prostate Cancer Mentor
I am a Prostate Cancer Mentor to men and their caregivers having provided this free service for the past over 18 years as well as a survivor, activist, and continuing patient since 1992, and would like my military compatriots to be aware that should they become diagnosed with this insidious and too often deadly men's disease or have other prostate concerns, I would be pleased to help them understand prostate cancer, its treatment options, and treatment for the side effects that can accompany such treatment to aid in the long-time survival I have experienced. To learn more about my background in this regard, please visit my website, below, or email me.
Blue Water Sailors and Fleet Marines
Many VA Regional Offices have ignored 38CFR3.313 and have wrongly denied Vietnam-era Sailors and Fleet Marines a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma disability. Any Blue Water Sailor or Fleet Marine can contact me for assistance.
Together We Served
We are hosting our 2nd All Service Reunion
in Williamsburg,VA on Oct 30-Nov 1st. Our hotel is the Woodlands Hotel and Conference Center located within walking distance to Colonial Williamsburg. For reservations call 800-447-8679, TWS Group Number: 35389
Looking forward to seeing you there!
Swift Boat Sailors Association Convention
The Swift Boat Sailors Association and they are inviting all Navy advisors from Vietnam to attend their convention in Tyson's Corner, Virginia from May 7-11. For complete details, visit their website at:http://www.swiftboats.org/reunion-information/
Capt. Frank Novotny, U.S. Army (Ret.)
40th Anniversary of the Evacuation of Saigon
Just to advise, the Fort Worth Museum of Aviation is commemorating The 40th anniversary of the Vietnam Evacuation this May. USMC helicopters will fly in on Friday, May 15th, and other Vietnam era aircraft will come in on Saturday May 16th. There is also a craft beer festival. I would hope that this could be publicized and that we could attract Marines and Navy men who were involved in this operation. 1-4, 2-4, the Saigon Embassy Marines, HMMs 164 and 165, HMH-462, come to mind along with a long list of ships. Jim Hodgson who is a USMC pilot is the museum director. Email: email@example.com
Griff Murphey, ex-LT(DC)USNR BLT 1-4, BAS, 1975
US Air Force Red Horse
50th Anniversary Celebration of US Air Force RED HORSE and Prime BEEF
Oct. 12 - Oct 16, 2015 at the Ramada Inn in Fort Walton Beach Florida
For more information contact Greg MacDougal at (912) 884-7273, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or Dick Aldinger at (407) 859-7436, email: email@example.com
or visit our website at www.rhassn.us
Anthem Veterans Memorial
At precisely 11:11 a.m. each Veterans Day (Nov. 11), the sun's rays pass through the ellipses of the five Armed Services pillars to form a perfect solar spotlight over a mosaic of The Great Seal of the United States.
Located in Anthem, Arizona, it is a monument dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of the United States armed forces. The pillar provides a place of honor and reflection for veterans, their family and friends, and those who want to show their respects to those service men and women who have and continue to courageously serve the United States.
The memorial was designed by Anthem resident Renee Palmer-Jones. The five marble pillars represent the five branches of the United States military. They are staggered in size (from 17 feet to 6 feet) and ordered in accordance with the Department of Defense prescribed precedence, ranging from the United States Army, the United States Marine Corps, the United States Navy, the United States Air Force and the United States Coast Guard.
The brick pavers within the Circle of Honor are inscribed with the names of over 750 U.S. servicemen and women, symbolizing the "support" for the Armed Forces. The pavers are red, the pillars are white, and the sky is blue to represent America's flag. The circle represents an unbreakable border. Anthem resident and chief engineer, Jim Martin was responsible for aligning the memorial accurately with the sun.
We received an email from Charles Blankenship, retired Captain Navy Medical Corps (1976-2011) who informed us about his public service website. If you want to keep informed on the meaningful, often difficult issues facing Americans today, this is the website for you.
His "Open Letter to the American People" gives you an overview of the site. The subject he writes about are found in the "Blog" section and the "Favorite Links" section is well worth checking out.
What ISIS Really Wants
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here's what that means for its strategy, and for how to stop it.
Printed in the March 2015 Atlantic by Graeme Wood: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980/
Japan's Horrific Tsunami
Tsunami Reflections is a personal account of Japan's horrific tsunami of 2011 that wiped out the port town of Otsuchi and directly affected the author's Japanese family. Geographical and historical context of the town and pre-tsunami lifestyles are elucidated followed by descriptions of the aftermath, loss of family, mass funerals, humanitarian efforts, and plans for recovery. The book is available from all major internet booksellers. For early reference, a description of the book can be seen on Amazon.com:
The Importance of Associations
An important continuation of a soldier's commitment to service is the unit associations administered by unit veterans. As President of the 28th Infantry Regiment Assn, I find our younger generation of soldiers in need of post deployment affiliation with like-minded people. Whether it be struggles with the VA, the absence of camaraderie and sense of belonging, membership in associations keeps you touch with those you served with. Most of our members are Vietnam veterans but more and more current Black Lions are finding us and joining. The future of unit associations depend upon new members who want to make a difference.
Saint Christophers from Vietnam
Dear TWS, Over a year and half ago you so kindly put a post up for me about several Saint Christopher Medals I bought in Saigon in 1991. Once again I want thank you. Because of you post I was able to return my first medal back to the family of Major Donald Gene Carr a decorated MIA Vietnam war hero who's plane went down in Laos. I was able to return his medal because of a lead I got from TWS web-site after trying myself for over 19 years. I was able to return Major Carr Medal back to the family members who gave him his Saint Christopher Medal before he left for his first tour to Vietnam. His family said his Medal was very dear to him. I still have three remaining Saint Christopher Medals to return back to the soldier's families.Thank you for our time we this heart felt matter.
Double click image to see close up.
Looking for the Family of this Vet
Please fell free to contact me by phone 619-742-7272
One of my non-military co workers is trying to locate the family of this deceased WW II veteran.
We recovered his dog tags and Purple Heart with some stolen property.
Fred W. Bagley, U.S. Army
Military service number 32251968
The property was recovered in San Jose, California in Nov 2013. My coworker has attached a picture of his dog tags.
I can be reached by email or phone. Thank you for your assistance.
I am looking for anyone who knew Joseph Dean Humphrey who served on the USS Oriskany during 8/1963-5/1964. He served with ATR2 VA 165. He was a pilot with VA165-CA165, he was a pilot and was 24-25 yrs old, Great Lakes area and possible born down in the southern states. We need to find this person to verify a claim for the VA. Thanks for your help.
My brother Lance Cpl. Lester Robert Atherden, U.S. Marine Corps, was killed in Vietnam on Mar. 4, 1966. He graduated from boot camp on Jan. 22, 1963 from Platoon 275, Parris Island, NC. I am trying to get his individual black and white photograph from his platoon book. If there is any TWS member that can help me in my search, please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by calling me at 757-583-9420. I can also be reached my mail at 2912 East Malden Ave, Norfolk VA 23518.
Thank you in advance and Semper Fi.
David A. Atherden
Marine Corps 1965 - 1969
Looking for anyone that flew with the KC-135 Q models refueling the SR-71 spy planes, need help to prove that we went into Thailand and sometimes remained overnight.
A Run and Walk to honor our nation's heroic veterans
The 2015 Run to Home Base presented by New Balance will honor our nation's heroic veterans and help raise much needed funds for the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program. Proceeds from the event will fund the clinical care provided to veterans and their families at the Home Base clinic. At Home Base, we remain committed to providing world-class care, at no cost to veterans and their families.
Recent Letters to the Editor-Mike Christy
This is an O U T S T A N D I N G issue of Together We Served newsletter.
Your legacy will be a great one to reflect on! Especially to the families of past, present fallen heroes and their contributions and life they gave. Well Done Sir!
- Gary Farnum
1965 - 1986
The Navy Corpsman
Being a former combat Corpsman, I fought back the long overdue tears when I read that poem "The Navy Corpsman" by Robert Cowan. Well done Robert.
- John Rector
I am proud to say my dad was a Navy Corpsman and did indeed serve with the Marines and on several ships. We use to watch "Victory at Sea" together and that's the only time he would mention some of his wartime experiences, with much emotion too. I believe the battle for Leyte Gulf and Okinawa were especially challenging for his "corpsman/doc" training and skills
When I made Chief, he gave me his own Chief's collar devices that he wore during the war. I wore them with great pride, until my own retirement from the reserves.
- Russ Fusco
U.S. Navy (Ret)
1967 - 1997
Turning Point in Vietnam War
The Tet offensive was indeed a major loss for the VC but liberal media portrayed it the opposite; if they had done the same in WWII, they would have been charged as traitors - that's how far American media had fallen from "45 to 68"! The Democratic-controlled Congress then undercut then President Gerald Ford, a WW II Navy officer, refusing to meet our obligations to replenishing the South Vietnamese military hardware. We sold Saigon down the river just as we have done with some Middle East allies of late.
- Gerald Edgar
U.S. Air Force
1970 - 1974
Your article on the war in Vietnam about the politicians losing the war is not totally true. First, you have to look at General Westmoreland who was using conventional warfare to fight a guerrilla war. This does not work and he and other general officers failed to learn this lesson. We had overwhelming history from the French involvement before we arrived and this was arrogantly "overlooked." We also had a great soldier Colonel David Hackworth who tried and failed to convince the brass the correct way to fight and win a war we could have won. The military establishment would not listen. I suggest you read Hackworth's books,"About Face and Steel My Soldiers Heart" and "The Vietnam Primer." Also, several books written by Bernard B. Fall, who was considered the pre-eminent expert on Southeast Asia with the French involvement there. He was killed by a land mine on February 21, 1967 while on patrol with the 1st Battalion 9th Marine.
- Sid Fincher
1965 - 1969
Bernard B. Fall was a prominent war correspondent, historian, political scientist, and expert on Indochina during the 1950s and 1960s, predicted the failures of France and the United States in the wars in Vietnam because of their tactics and lack of understanding of the societies.
The Battle of Khe Sanh was conducted in northwestern Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam, between January 21 and 9 July 9 1968 and not Thieu Thien Province as written.
- Ronald Hudson
U.S. Army (Ret)
1969 - 1994
Battle of Iwo Jima
There was a second American photographer who captured on film the second flag raising on top of Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi (Iwo Jima) using a 16 millimeter color motion picture camera. His name is Sgt. Bill Genaust.
Sgt. Bill Genaust's film was very short, showing only the raising of the flag that was seen by millions in movie houses all over the world and later on television at the opening of a station's programming day. But his name would be all but lost to history after his death nine days later. Because of War Department policy, military combat photographers received no credit on their work. However, civilian photographer like Joe Rosenthal was identified and credited for his iconic photograph of the second flag raisings on Iwo Jima. After numerous years of campaigning by Master Sgt. Harold Weinberger, Genaust was finally given credit for his cinematography.
Sgt. Genaust and another Marine were killed on March 4, 1945 by enemy small arms fire after they entered a darkened cave on Hill 362A on the northwest corner of Iwo Jima. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Genaust
More on Bill Genaust: https://www.mca-marines.org/leatherneck/2000/03/marine-we-left-behind-bill-genaust
- Earle Bluff
U.S. Army Reserves
1974 - Present
Very interesting articles this month, especially the one on the island hopping campaign that culminated in Iwo and Okinawa, both of which were Navy/Marine shows. Their sector of the Pacific Theatre was known for frontal assaults. According to noted historian and author William Manchester, the Army sector under MacArthur avoided such tactics, what with skipping Rabaul and hitting the Philippines on the Leyte side. Some historians question whether the allies would have had to invade Japan proper, as opposed to relentless conventional bombing and a blockade around the islands. Most of their fleet had been sunk and we had the range to take out their airfields. I do not think President Harry Truman was confident or shrewd enough to question the prevailing assumptions.
Gerry Ford, instead of making a doomed plea to Congress should have devoted resources to evacuating more Vietnamese, and earlier, then worried about the funding later - Ambassador Graham Martin should have been overruled on the issue of evacuations. Have you seen the Rory Kennedy's "Last Days of Vietnam" documentary? Years ago, I heard West Point and Naval War College professors speak about the last days of South Vietnam. They maintained that it was tactical folly more than lack of materiel that lead to the rout down Highway One. The better divisions were all encircled around Saigon and would not move north or the government would not order them up there. I had forgotten about the attempt by some of the Vietnamese who got away to start an invasion - a novel just came out about that written by an English educated Vietnamese, reviewed by Phil Caputo today.
William Westmoreland must be considered the absolute worst theatre commander in US history, since McClellan, and that is a close call.
- Jason Gettinger
The Twins Platoons
By Christy W. Sauro Jr.
As a symbol of patriotism and public support during a time when anti-Vietnam war sentiments were growing, the Minnesota Twins baseball team and Marine Corps recruiters in the Minneapolis - St. Paul area came up with the idea of the team sponsoring a recruit platoon to be named the 'Twins Platoon." A letter sent out to area Marine recruits informed them they would be sworn in on TV at pregame ceremonies the night of June 28, 1967. Among those receiving the letter was the author, Christy Sauro Jr.
On the designated night, over one hundred young men and four young women stood in the open field in a casually fashioned "civilian" formation and were sworn in. By the end of the sixth inning, the new recruits were hustled out to waiting buses, sped away to the World Chamberlain Field Airport, boarded an American Flyers chartered flight, lifted off the Minneapolis runway and flew into the blackened night for San Diego. Before dawn the next day the recruits of the Twins Platoon were standing on the yellow painted footprints of the receiving barracks at the Marine Recruiting Depot as they met with trepidation their three tough Drill Sergeants of Recruit Platoon 3011.
Sauro breaks his masterfully written book into three chronical sections: Before Vietnam, Vietnam Tet 1968 and After Vietnam. In Part One, he introduces the reader to some individuals of the platoon as they nervously enter boot camp and how they experience the dehumanizing, rigorous training necessary to become a Marine. Not all make it. This was followed by the demanding individual training each must go through as they prepare for combat.
In Part two, Sauro's true talent as an accomplished and sensitive writer shows in his telling of the individual stories of young men who fought bravely in some of the toughest fighting of the war: The Siege of Khe Sanh and the Tet Offensive, including the brutal Battle for Hue. Other smaller but equally brutal and bloody battles followed. As is the nature of war, not all of them came home in one piece. Some did not come home at all giving rise to those who lived to grieve over them.
Part three deals with platoon members who survived the war and came home to quietly rebuilt their lives as best they could while dealing with physical damage, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the felling that eats at all combat veterans whom saw death: why them and not me?
I strongly recommend this firsthand story of American life being lived at the limits - and changed forever.
Beginning with the opening paragraph, I felt like I was transported back in time from the platoon's origins in 1967, through boot camp, their fighting in Vietnam, and the men's homecoming.
What became completely obvious after reading the first few pages of the book is the enormous amount of time and care the author devoted to researching his fellow Marines and telling their story. This book was a decades' long crusade and each chapter is brimming with detail. The reader feels the emotions, spirit, heroics, of the twenty or so Marines who comprise the book's focus.
To say I recommend the book is an understatement. The Twins Platoon should be mandatory reading for all Americans since it transcends the war in Vietnam and provides a "foxhole" view of Americans at war.
- Patrick O'Donnell
Christy Sauro's has captured the heart and soul of those young Marines who were known as "The Twins Platoon." We get to follow the lives of some of these men as they go through basic training and eventually go to Vietnam. Some are killed, some physically wounded, others emotionally damaged, but all of them have changed in some ways.
- W. H. McDonald Jr.
Christy Sauro's account represents the brutal, heart wrenching reality of the latter. It's unvarnished and candidly brutal in its portrayal of Marine Corps training. Training that would ultimately steel them in their daily struggle as they were thrown into the teeth of the conflict during the Tet Offensive of 1968.
It's painful and revealing, sad, yet inspiring as these young warriors fought for their very survival only to return to a nation tired by war and indifferent to their needs and sacrifices.
- Jack Grimm
The Twins Platoon is way more than a war story. Everything Chris Sauro has in him is in this book. It's a great story, kind of a love story about Marines. It's all about what Semper Fidelis really means: Always faithful, faithful for life, faithful if need be beyond life.
- Eric Hammel
Author of Pacific Warriors
About the Author
Following former Marine Corps Sgt. Christy W. Sauro Jr. return from Vietnam he had a successful career in the insurance business. His writing has been published in magazines such as Leatherneck and Readers Digest. He and his wife live in North branch Minnesota. The Twins Platoon is his first book and is recommended reading by the New York Public Library under "Books for Teens."
In 2011 the book was awarded the prestigious "Stars and Flags" military book award "Biography Gold" when it tied for 1st place in the category "Non-fiction Biography."
The author was honored as the CBS Veteran of the month for May, 2014. Link to story is http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/tag/veteran-of-the-month/
Stone in a Sling: A Soldier's Journey
By Scott A. Meehan
Stone in a Sling - a title suggesting David's slaying of the giant Goliath - is a book on how the author emerges victorious over his doubts, fears and daily irritation of the desert, exploding bombs, and wintry cold of Berlin. But mostly it is a study in character, values, integrity, faith and selflessness as he accounts the miracles he witnessed, his connection with God, and relationships with multicultural people across the globe. Eventually, the loyalty and freedom that accompany true love, he discovers remarkable truths and reaches philosophical and theological conclusion that rekindled his faith in God and mankind.
Meehan begins and ends his book in 2007 following the end of his last deployment to Iraq as a contractor. Between his introduction and last chapter he writes about his 25-year U.S. Army career that begins in 1980 as an enlisted combat medic and ends 15 years later as a major in 2005.
Along the journey he writes of experiences and the people he meets - from living among the indigenous people in Latin America where he survived an explosion set off by Marxist terrorists in Bogota, Columbia; to intrigue behind the East Berlin wall during the Cold war where he becomes entangled in a game beyond his control with a Soviet KGB officer; to the joys and struggles of fatherhood; to gathering intelligence from Iraqi prisoners during Desert Storm; to relationships with the Iraqi people during two tours of Operation Iraqi Freedom, that would lead to the capture of Saddam Hussein.
This is an unforgettable account about a deep and reflective man who embodies the best in our nation and the good in us all.
This was a fast-paced story of a man's life, his struggles, and the overcoming victories that set him apart from others. Very appealing not only to those who have spent time in those war-torn countries, but also to anyone desiring to have a better understanding of the war in the Middle East.
- Thomas A. Sater
This is a great story about one of our nation's best. This book gives an inside look of a soldier's military life and family life. It dives deep into Scott's family, personal and spiritual struggles that he went through during his life. A gripping story that will have you coming back for more.
This is an easy, intriguing and fun read. Scott's life takes many turns, all of which are divinely guided and work together for good. Of course this is always true, but in this book, the reader gets to see how seemingly small, routine events come together and serve a bigger purpose.
One thing the reader should pay particular attention to is that Scott was instrumental in the capture of Saddam Hussein, the ruthless oppressive Iraqi dictator. Scott's quiet way of understating this fact is evidence of his humility and is probably the reason there has not been more press regarding this hero and now author.
About the Author
Scott Meehan was born in Baltimore, Maryland and attended 12 schools, public and private, throughout the United States and South America. For twenty-five years he served in the U.S. Army, first as an enlisted combat medic for seven years before his commissioning as officer serving a for nine years an intelligence officer and six years in the acquisition field. In 2005, he retired as a Major after serving a tour of duty in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm and two tours of duty in Iraq where he received a Bronze Star for his actions in 2003-2004.
Scott Meehan lives in Orlando Florida with Trena, his wife of 34 years, where he currently teaches computer science at Kaiser University. He is completing his doctoral dissertation in organization management.