AS you approach the conference room the first thing the strikes you is the scent. It’s not the normal woodsy scent with its notes of herbs, heather and hint of peat fire you normally associate with coming here each Wednesday. Nor is it the the smell of Brimstone coconut oil and 6 different designer women’s perfumes you’ve come to associate with Impish standing in for Lethal. This scent is redolent in age, mothballs, several kinds of polish, old leather, laundry starch and freshly pressed dry cleaning.
When you enter the room you are confronted by a myriad of uniforms both Dress and Combat from WWII until present day. A much paler than normal Lethal is sitting on a stool in his Full Dress uniform, or more correctly being kept on the stool by Diaman and Ginny who seem to be insisting adamantly about something which Lethal is just as adamantly opposing. It’s only when he gestures to a near by sunglasses wearing Air Force NCO who appears somehow familiar and unfamiliar at the same who time steps up beside Lethal and speaks to the ladies that they toss their hands up and resignation and take their places.
The AF NCO turns to Lethal and appears to offer him a hand getting up, Lethal points at something behind the Officer and it’s gotten for him. Then slowly and unsteadily using an actual cane rather then his normal shillelagh he climbs the stairs with the mysterious AF NCO in close attendance despite this apparently annoying Lethal.
As Lethal makes it up to the podium looing a little worse for the trip suddenly the NCO bellows “Officer on Deck! AH_TEN_SHUN!”. The speed with which these old Vet’s stand up and the sound of thumbs hitting trousers seams and heels clicking together to say nothing of the pride with which it is done is nothing short of awe inspiring.
As you were. Be seated. Sip it if you got it. <a small chuckle erupts among the uniforms>
Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen.
As its painfully obvious Impish didn’t exaggerate much on my illness. In all honesty he might have actually understated the severity it. While I continue to improve I tire very easily and fins myself in the position of being force to emulate him in that I seem to require frequent naps and the expense of my work. I still have a long way to go catching up with my school work but I am please to report I did manage to achieve a respectable 88 on the mid term which I was able to take Sunday.
Yesterday was as you all know I’m sure Veteran’s Day I elected to wait until today to hold our observance because I frankly didn’t have the time for 2 issues in the same week much less back to back. As it is I’ve been working on this one since school started.
This year while we pay tribute of course to all Veterans we pay special tribute to 2 elite groups of Veteran’s about which not enough is said.
Now before my knees buckle and the podium catches me in the chin lets start this.
Please join with me now in saluting our Commander in Chief with the newly designated salute to be used for him only
This would be in response to the recently rendered “latte” salute given by our alleged Commander-In-Chief …
lest we forget
Before we get too far into our observance of Veteran’s Day and certainly not to take away from it’s importance, there is another occasion I want to remark upon which occurred Monday.
Want to know what makes Vets the greatest group of people I know? Its that they never stop serving or lose their can do attitude. While I might have found the movie totally preposterous I know in my heart that this scene would happen for real just exactly the same way if any group of Vets were called upon today
The Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor was created in 1861, based on separate bills to promote the efficiency of the Army and Navy, and bestowed on those who “distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action.”
The bills were signed by President Lincoln, and the medals were designed to celebrate heroes of the Civil War, but the award survived and gained prominence after the conflict, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
Since 1863, it has been awarded the bravest soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, according to the U.S. Army’s website. In the name of Congress, the president awards each medal.
Awarding the actual medal can take years. What is the process of being granted the Medal of Honor?
Fewer than 100 living recipients are among us today.
The process begins right away. Often, service members involved with the act of heroism give sworn statements or include it in a written report so the individual will be recognized for his or her efforts.
Then, the formal recommendation paperwork begins. It moves up the chain of hierarchy. In some cases, this can involve thick files of sworn statements, maps and drawings by fellow service members.
Then, it has to be decided whether the actions of the individual merit the military’s highest honor or something lesser like the Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest medal for valor.
Because the standards for the Medal of Honor are so high, deciding whether someone deserves it can take the longest. Some have argued that the standards have changed and become too high, requiring too much to be rewarded, but top defense leaders say that the way wars are fought now is different.
During and after the Vietnam War, 247 individuals received the Medal of Honor for their actions. None was awarded for Operation Desert Storm or missions in the Balkans, Panama, Grenada or Beirut.
Here’s a look at some of the recent recipients:
As many of you are aware, the Knights of Columbus submitted to congress that the words “Under God” should be added to our pledge of allegiance. Both Houses of Congress passed the law and it was signed by President Eisenhower in 1954. The information below was based on a pole taken by NBC on what percentage should keep the words in our pledge verses the percent who want it removed
History of Official versions
(changes in bold italics)
1892: “I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
1892 to 1923: “I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
1923 to 1924: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States and to the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
1924 to 1954: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands; one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
1954 to Present: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America , and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Do you believe that the word God should stay in American culture ?
NBC had a poll on this question. They had the highest Number of responses that they have ever had for one of their polls, and the Percentage was the same as this:
86% to keep the words , IN God We Trust and God in the Pledge of Allegiance, 14% against.
Again, that is 86% of Americans believe the word God should stay. That is a pretty ‘commanding’ public response. Therefore, I have a very hard time understanding why there is such a mess about having ‘In God We Trust’ on our money and having God in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Why are we catering to this 14%? Many of our veterans fought with that pledge in their hearts why are we willing to dishonor them over a minority? You can bet if asked our Veteran’s want God on our Money and in our Pledge of Allegiance.
Despite wounds, Medal of Honor recipient killed up to 175 enemies, saved comrades
By Brad Lendon, CNN
(CNN) — As many as 175 enemy troops killed, 18 wounds from enemy fire, 38 hours of battle, 48 hours evading the North Vietnamese troops in the bush — and one tiger. Those are the numbers behind Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins’ Medal of Honor, an award he received from President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony Monday.
Adkins of Opelika, Alabama, was honored for his actions in Vietnam’s A Shau Valley more than 48 years ago. Then a 32-year-old sergeant first class, Adkins was among a handful of Americans working with troops of the South Vietnamese Civilian Irregular Defense Group at Camp A Shau when the camp was attacked by a large North Vietnamese and Viet Cong force on March 9, 1966, according to an Army report.
“Adkins rushed through intense enemy fire and manned a mortar position defending the camp,” the Army report says. “He continued to mount a defense even while incurring wounds from several direct hits from enemy mortars. Upon learning that several soldiers were wounded near the center of camp, he temporarily turned the mortar over to another soldier, ran through exploding mortar rounds and dragged several comrades to safety. As the hostile fire subsided, Adkins exposed himself to sporadic sniper fire and carried his wounded comrades to a more secure position.”
Later, under enemy fire, some of it coming from South Vietnamese allies who had defected to the North during the battle, Adkins took wounded troops to an airstrip outside the camp for evacuation and drew enemy fire away from the evacuation aircraft. He went outside the camp again to retrieve supplies from an airdrop that fell into a minefield. And that was just day one.
“The bottom line is that it was just not my day to go,” Adkins said in an Army interview at Fort Benning, Georgia, last week.
The fighting, and Adkins’ heroism, continued in the early morning of March 10 when the North Vietnamese hit the camp with their main attack, according to the Army report.
“Within two hours, Sergeant First Class Adkins was the only defender firing a mortar weapon. When all mortar rounds were expended, Adkins began placing effective rifle fire upon enemy as they infiltrated the camp perimeter and assaulted his position. Despite receiving additional wounds from enemy rounds exploding on his position, Adkins fought off relentless waves of attacking North Vietnamese soldiers,” the Army report says.
After falling back to a smaller bunker in Camp A Shau, Adkins killed more enemy troops with small arms fire, destroyed equipment and classified documents to prevent them from getting into North Vietnamese hands, and led a group of soldiers in digging their way out of the rear of the bunker and escaping the besieged camp.
But Adkins’ ordeal was not over. Because he was carrying a wounded comrade, he and his small group couldn’t get to the evacuation helicopters sent to pick up the battle’s survivors. The band faded into the jungle, avoiding their North Vietnamese pursuers for 48 hours.
And that’s where the tiger comes in.
“The North Vietnamese soldiers had us surrounded on a little hilltop and everything started getting kind of quiet,” Adkins is quoted as saying in an Army report. “We could look around and all at once, all we could see were eyes going around us. It was a tiger that stalked us that night. We were all bloody and in this jungle, the tiger stalked us and the North Vietnamese soldiers were more afraid of the tiger than they were of us. So, they backed off some and we were (able to escape).”
Helicopters rescued Adkins and the rest of his group on March 12.
The Army says Adkins killed 135 to 175 enemy soldiers during the Camp A Shau battle. He suffered 18 wounds during the 86-hour ordeal.
Forty-eight years later, Adkins doesn’t cite those numbers but two others.
“I’m just a keeper of the medal for those other 16 (U.S. troops) who were in the battle, especially the five who didn’t make it,” he told Army News Service.
“I can tell you every man who was there and the five who lost their lives. I can tell you how that happened. It diminishes, but it does not go away,” Adkins said.
And he remembers the South Vietnamese who stuck by his side.
“There were about 410 indigenous Civilian Irregular Defense Group soldiers there with us, and of those, only about 122 survived, and most of those were wounded. It was a horrible, horrible battle. There was valor on all sides, not only from the Americans, but from the CIDG soldiers also,” he’s quoted as saying in an Army report.
Others to receive honor
Honored with Adkins at the White House ceremony was one other soldier, posthumously.
Spc. Donald P. Sloat was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in using his body to shield comrades from a grenade blast near Danang, Vietnam, in January 1970.
Our European arrogance in alphabetical order
Apologize to no one.
Remind those of our sacrifice and don’t
allow them to confuse arrogance with leadership.
The count is
dead, brave Americans.
And we have to watch an American elected leader who apologizes to Europe and the Middle East that our country is “arrogant”!
HOW MANY FRENCH, DUTCH, ITALIANS, BELGIANS AND BRITS ARE BURIED ON OUR SOIL… AFTER DEFENDING US AGAINST OUR ENEMIES?
WE DON’T ASK FOR PRAISE… BUT WE HAVE ABSOULUTELY NO NEED TO APOLOGIZE!
DO THINK ABOUT THIS.
“If I Die Before You Wake” Tribute to Armed Forces
As I came out of the supermarket that sunny day, pushing my cart of groceries towards my car, I saw an old man with the hood of his car up and a lady sitting inside the car, with the door open. The old man was looking at the engine. I put my groceries away in my car, and continued to watch the old gentleman from about twenty five feet away.
I saw a young man in his early twenties with a grocery bag in his arms walking towards the old man. The old gentleman saw him coming too, and took a few steps towards him. I saw the old gentleman point to his open hood and say something. The young man put his grocery bag into what looked like a brand new Cadillac Escalade. He then turned back to the old man. I heard him yell at the old gentleman saying: “You shouldn’t even be allowed to drive a car at your age.” Then with a wave of his hand, he got in his car and peeled rubber out of the parking lot.
I saw the old gentleman pull out his handkerchief, and mop his brow as he went back to his car and again looked at the engine. He then went to his wife and spoke with her; he appeared to tell her it would be okay. I had seen enough, and I approached the old man. He saw me coming and stood straight, and as I got near him I said, “Looks like you’re having a problem.”
He smiled sheepishly and quietly nodded his head. I looked under the hood myself and knew that whatever the problem was, it was beyond me. Looking around, I saw a gas station up the road, and I told the old man that I would be right back. I drove to the station and went inside. I saw three attendants working on cars. I approached one of them, and related the problem the old man had with his car. I offered to pay them if they could follow me back down and help him.
The old man had pushed the heavy car under the shade of a tree and appeared to be comforting his wife. When he saw us he straightened up and thanked me for my help. As the mechanics diagnosed the problem, I spoke with the old gentleman.
When I shook hands with him earlier, he had noticed my Marine Corps ring and had commented about it, telling me that he had been a Marine too. I nodded and asked the usual question, “What outfit did you serve with?” He had mentioned he served with the first Marine Division at Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal.
He had hit all the big ones and retired from the Corps after the war was over. As we talked we heard the car engine come on and saw the mechanics lower the hood. They came over to us as the old man reached for his wallet, but was stopped by me. I told him I would just put the bill on my AAA card.
He still reached for the wallet and handed me a card that I assumed had his name and address on it and I stuck it in my pocket. We shook hands all around again, and I said my goodbye’s to his wife. I then told the two mechanics that I would follow them back to the station. Once at the station, I told them they had interrupted their own jobs to come along with me and help the old man. I said I wanted to pay for the help, but they refused to charge me.
One of them pulled out a card from his pocket, looking exactly like the card the old man had given to me. Both of the men told me then they were Marine Corps Reserves. Once again we shook hands all around and as I was leaving, one of them told me I should look at the card the old man had given to me. I said I would and drove off.
For some reason I had gone about two blocks, when I pulled over and took the card out of my pocket and looked at it for a long, long time. The name of the old gentleman was on the card in golden leaf and under his name was written: Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
sat there motionless, looking at the card and reading it over and over. I looked up from the card and smiled to no one but myself and marveled that on this day, four Marines had all come together because one of us needed help. He was an old man all right, but it felt good to have stood next to greatness and courage, and an honor to have been in his presence. Remember, OLD men like him gave you FREEDOM for America. Thanks to those who served and still serve and to all of those who supported them, and who continue to support them.
America is not at war. The U.S. Military is at war. America is at the Mall. If you don’t stand behind our troops, PLEASE feel free to stand in front of them!
“Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” Romans 13:7 (NIV)
Medal of Honor takes moment to earn, years to receive
In most cases when a soldier does something extraordinarily brave in battle, it happens in a matter of moments. But to reward that bravery often takes years.
Washington (CNN) — Spc. Sal Giunta went above and beyond the call of duty on October 25, 2007, when he helped thwart an ambush and stopped two Taliban fighters from capturing a fellow solider. But it will be November 16, 2010, when now Staff Sgt. Giunta received the Medal of Honor from President Obama, a wait of more than three years.
By contrast, it took just five months for Obama to find, nominate and eventually see Elena Kagan sworn in as a Supreme Court justice.
Even people very supportive of the awarding of the Medal of Honor say the process is too long, and some even say that the Department of Defense has raised the bar too high for the nation’s highest award for valor.
The idea of presenting an award like the Medal of Honor does not usually come from military brass, according to Col. David Sutherland, who served in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. “Most of the time, the service members bring it to us and say we need to make sure this individual is written up for the proper award and given the proper recognition.”
In Giunta’s case, the process began within hours of his heroics on a rugged mountain ridge in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. One of the men he helped save, Spc. Frank Ekrode, who was at Bagram Airfield being treated for multiple injuries, gave a sworn statement about Giunta’s actions.
“The same night I got medevaced to Bagram Airfield, like 3 o’clock in the morning or whenever it was, I wrote my first sworn statement,” Ekrode told CNN recently.
At just about the same time, Capt. Daniel Kearney, the commander of Giunta’s unit, started the paperwork to formally recommend Giunta for the Medal of Honor.
“I realized I was walking amongst heroes. I was walking amongst giants,” Kearney said. “I needed to make sure this country recognized those individuals and paid them the right ‘thank you.’ ”
Kearney, who could hear the firefight from the unit’s base camp, sent the Medal of Honor recommendation to Lt. Col. William Ostlund, the commander of Giunta’s battalion.
From there, it was sent to Col. Charles Preysler, brigade commander. The recommendation became an ever-growing file of information: sworn statements, maps, drawings. The file eventually got to be about 3 inches thick.
Eventually, the recommendation made its way up each stage of the Army’s chain of command to the secretary of the Army.
That was a crucial step. So far, no one had challenged Kearney’s recommendation. But when the secretary of the Army read the file, he could have decided that Giunta deserved a Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest medal for valor. That would have stopped the process, and Giunta would have gotten the other award almost immediately.
That last part of the process took more than two years. Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr., R-California, who was a Marine officer in Iraq and Afghanistan, has a problem with that.
“This just shows how bureaucratic and how slow the Department of Defense has become,” he said.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates agrees that the process can take a long time, but he defends it.
“This process that we have, that is so complex and so thorough, and the standards are so high that it takes a while, first of all. Generally, it’s a two- or three-year process because the requirement is that the evidence be incontestable, that there be no doubt,” Gates told CNN’s Barbara Starr in an exclusive interview.
Hunter also worries that the Defense Department has set the bar too high for earning the Medal of Honor. “I think frankly that the DOD’s standard for the Medal of Honor and for other awards has actually changed so that you have to do more than ever before. Some say, frankly, that you have to die anymore to get the Medal of Honor,” he said.
The numbers would seem to back up Hunter’s worries. There were 247 Medals of Honor awarded for action in Vietnam. Since that war, there have been nine medals awarded. Giunta’s is No. 10, and that number includes not just the war in Afghanistan, the longest war in U.S. history, but also Operation Iraqi Freedom and the mission in Somalia. There were no Medals of Honor awarded for Operation Desert Storm, nor were there any for the missions in the Balkans, Panama, Grenada or Beirut.
Gates and other top defense leaders said it’s not that the Defense Department has changed the criteria for a Medal of Honor; it’s that the way wars are fought now is different.
“I think part of the reason is the nature of war today, in the sense that, particularly in Afghanistan, our enemies generally use weapons at a distance from us. The improvised explosive devices have caused about 60 percent of our casualties,” Gates said. “So as a proportion, there’s less hand-to-hand or in-close combat than there has been in previous wars.”
But “in-close combat” is just what Giunta faced. When the Taliban fighters ambushed his unit, they were only about 20 feet away.
And when Army Secretary John McHugh read Giunta’s file last January, he agreed that Giunta deserved the highest medal for valor. So the process continued. The file went to Gates and to Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mullen can make recommendations, but it’s Gates who decides if Giunta’s medal recommendation should go one step further, to the president’s desk.
“When you start to read the details, and really — whether it’s for this living recipient or the ones that are being presented posthumously — you just sit there and wonder how could anybody possibly do this,” Gates said.
Gates did forward the file to the White House, and on September 9, 2010, Obama called Giunta and told the young soldier from Iowa, who risked his life for his good friend and fellow soldiers, that he would be receiving the Medal of Honor.
The color of valor: 24 minority veterans receive long overdue Medal of Honor
By Chelsea J. Carter and Halimah Abdullah, CNN
(CNN) — If not for the hue of their skin or their ethnicity, 24 soldiers who faced death in service to their nation would have received the most prestigious medals for their valor long ago.
But they were born and fought in a time when such deeds were not always fairly acknowledged.
On Tuesday, the U.S. government corrected the oversight.
President Barack Obama honored 24 Army veterans with the Medal of Honor — the country’s highest military award, given to American soldiers who display “gallantry above and beyond the call of duty ” — for their combat actions in Vietnam, Korea and World War II.
“No nation is perfect, but here … we confront our imperfections and face a sometimes painful past, including the truth that some of these soldiers fought and died for a country that did not always see them as equal,” Obama said.
Only three of the soldiers are alive to receive the recognition.
The rest — soldiers with last names including Garcia and Weinstein and Negron — are dead.
Of the 24 honored, 10 never came home. The body of one — Cpl. Joe Baldonado — has never been recovered, Obama said.
For the few who survive, such as Melvin Morris, this day has been more than 40 years in the making.
He was fresh-faced and 19 when he volunteered to go to Vietnam. In 1969, the Army Green Beret “charged into a hail of fire” to save his injured comrades and retrieve the bodies of the fallen, even though he was shot several times and bleeding. The Army would later say his actions on the battlefield that day showed “determination possessed by few men.”
“The staff sergeant recovered a fallen comrade … and took out several bunkers even after he was shot several times,” Obama said.
He was honored in 1970 with the Army’s Distinguished Service Cross award.
Today, at age 72, Morris — who is African-American — received his nation’s most esteemed military honor.
“It makes me very proud that they are going back and looking at records,” Morris told CNN.
But it was never about a medal for Morris, who joined the Army in 1959.
On September 17, 1969, he was on a search-and-destroy mission with his company when he learned the commander of another company nearby had been killed.
“Immediately it came to me that I had to recover his body,” Morris said. “…Leave no man behind under any circumstance.”
Morris was shot three times — in the chest, arm and left ring finger — as he carried the casualties out of the line of fire. He was then trapped in the firefight.
“The only thing I could do is fight, to hope I could get out,” he said.
And fight he did.
He was later evacuated from the battlefield. Less than a year later, he returned to duty in Vietnam where he would be decorated again for his actions in combat.
There are others, too.
Men like Santiago J. Erevia, a radiotelephone operator from Texas who in 1969 tended injured comrades in Vietnam’s Quang Tin province when his position came under attack. According to the citation, Erevia took out three machine gun bunkers with grenades and gunfire. He then returned to care for his wounded comrades, crawling from one wounded man to another to administer aid.
And there were men like Jose Rodela, who, while commanding a mobile strike force in Vietnam’s Phuoc Long province, “was wounded in the back and head by rocket shrapnel while recovering a wounded comrade,” according to a military commendation. Still he single-handedly assaulted and knocked out a mortar position before returning to lead his men.
Morris, Rodela and Erevia wore Army uniforms as they accepted the medal, which was placed around their neck by Obama.
“In the thick of the fight all those years ago, for your comrades and your country, you refused to yield,” the President said.
In 2002 Congress — as part of the Defense Authorization Act — set up a review of Jewish and Hispanic veterans who had served in combat since the middle of the century “to ensure those deserving the Medal of Honor were not denied because of prejudice,” explained the White House. The congressional action was later amended to open the door for any serviceman or woman denied the award due to discrimination.
One of those who posthumously received the award is Leonard Kravitz, an assistant machine gunner in the Korean War. He is the uncle and namesake of actor and rock musician Lenny Kravitz.
Finally I want to acknowledge an extremely small and very elite cadre of warriors. We tend to hear a lot about SEAL Teams, Rangers, Force Recon and even the the AF’s SOG. In regards to those groups the press loves to use the term ‘Shadow Warriors’. However I’m talking about those we never hear about, the original shadow warriors. The ones who oft went in not in teams or pairs but solo. Some on deployments that even might last years. They did this of their own free will, these were not military personnel per sae. They deployed on their missions with the full expectation and knowledge that if things went sideways not only were they on their own but there would likely not be an attempt at their extraction, acknowledgement of their affiliation or body recovery attempt. I’m talking about a a group of men and woman who’s stories we cannot be permitted to hear due to national security concerns. Men and women who served with honor, distinction, courage, valor, bravery, dedication and in some cases gave their lives while doing it it all under a blanket of deliberate obscurity
When one of these often highly decorated men or women die, they are not even given the same burial and a solider in full dress their medals on display. Their medal[s] are taken from them moments after they are given to them and kept securely in a vault lest question best left unasked come under a journalists spotlight and stones not turned over feel the point of their shovel. Should they die in the line of duty no public mention is made. Nothing is read into the Congressional Record, no call comes from the President or an Official of their Department. Their names are not graven on stone for all to see lest we forget what they have done on our behalf. All that acknowledges their ultimate sacrifice is this:
A small unlabeled star on a cold white marble wall which even to see you must have security clearance.
Currently, there are 107 stars carved into the marble of the CIA Memorial Wall. The”Book of Honor” lists the names of 74 employees who died while serving their country. The names of the remaining 33 employees must remain secret, even in death; each of these officers is remembered in the book by a star.
These brave Veterans of undeclared wars, prevented ones, the War on Terror and of the Cold War too deserve remembrance.