Red Clay Newsletter of the Veterans who served at Khe Sanh Combat Base, Hill 950, Hill 881, Hill 861, Hill 861-A, Hill 558 Khe Sanh Village, Lang-Vei and Surrounding Area

 

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THINKIN ABOUT IT...

By Craig W Tourte

I had a great three days up at my friend and fellow Khe Sanh Veteran Tom Horchler’s house this past weekend. I played in a little Memorial Golf Tournament put on by Rich Cueva in memory of Bob Shelton and Jessie Flores, who were KIA during the Vietnam War. After the tournament Rich had most of the folks over to his house for a barbeque, but for some reason I just was not in the mood to attend. Sometimes my “disorder” kicks in and I have a need to not be around others. It is something I battle on occasion, Tommy and the others understand because they all suffer from the same thing.

Shortly before the Tournament began I started to battle those little demons again, so I decided not to ride in the golf cart. I strapped the golf bag over my shoulders and humped up and down 18 holes. I have to admit it felt pretty good, the straps digging into my shoulders and my 60 year old calf muscles and sore back crying out for rest and Gatorade but for some reason I found myself enjoying the pain. I had settled down considerable after the golf game but still was in a funk so thought it best to go back up to Tommy’s and be by myself.

Chuck Chamberlin (C/1/26) played in our foursome, I told Chuck that I was heading back up the hill to Tommy’s house and would not be going to Rich’s. Chuck said that he was going back with me (I appreciated his support); we stopped off for a Pizza and headed back up to Tommy’s farm. It was great sitting on the green grass under those huge old growth oaks. We shared some common adult beverages and talked about nothing for what must have been a couple of hours before Tommy Horchler (H.Q. 1/13) Jeff Green (H&S 3rd Marine Div.) Ned Borlaug (I/3/3) and his brother Nell Borlaug (E/2/11) showed up. We spent some time looking up at the big open sky with the full moon shining down upon us and talking about our individual experiences in Vietnam, along with other subjects, but the primary theme seemed to be our memory of our experiences in Vietnam.

As I listened to the various conversations, I was struck how the topic was just matter of fact with little emotion evident. We each shared our stories, mostly in memory and appreciation of others. I was thinking at the time, it is often difficult for me to even speak of Vietnam in the presence of those who were not there and have no connection, if I try to verbally recall those experiences I often get this big knot in my stomach and I am overwhelmed with emotion, so I have found it best to avoid the subject. I was thinking how comfortable it was being around other Vietnam Veterans, not having to explain anything or looking over and seeing that kind of glazed, often confused expression others get when the subject comes up. We all turned in early that night, exhausted from the punishing golf game. On the drive home I realized how refreshed I felt, like a big burden had been lifted off of my shoulders. I found myself content and yes, even happy can describe my mood. There is just something uplifting and refreshing about being around other Vietnam Veterans that money cannot buy and therapy cannot heal. It was great being around other Vietnam Veterans who understand my idiosyncrasies and for the most part, are just like me.

 

   
             
 
 
 
         
     

GOOD PEOPLE AT REUNIONS

By Steven Wiese

Well another reunion has come and gone I had a great time, this year my wife Deborah accompanied me to the reunion. I was looking forward to her meeting some of the people I've talked about over the years, especially Ben Long and his wife Joyce, Ken Korkow and his wife Liz, and a member of my squad and friend Mike McCauley and his wife Ruth. The week went by quickly and I wish I could have spent more time with all of them, but we enjoyed the time that we had with them. I really enjoyed seeing the familiar faces of the people I had met on previous reunions and I felt a little more at ease this year and met some new people, which was great, Craig Tourte took me up to the Delta guys room, they welcome me openly, told me to make myself at home, and help myself to the libations. I had a good time and really enjoyed them, thanks guys for your hospitality.

We took some of the field trips, went to the Marine Corps Museum which was great. We did the 8th and I parade “no comment” although we did enjoy it, we took the subway in the town and saw the Declaration of Independence, and did some sightseeing there. This brings me to the reason that I am writing this, I had the privilege of meeting a gentleman named James Kaylor. To be honest I don't remember exactly how we met, he is just one of those guys that you feel comfortable with right off the bat, you know the type. In our conversation James said weren’t you on the payback patrol, to which I replied yes, so James asked me if I had the poster for the payback patrol, I said no that I haven't even seen it, so James says you were on that patrol you should have the poster, he says I'll give you mine, I said that's OK you should keep it but thanks for the thought, James says no before the reunions over give me your address I'll send it to you.

The conversation went on to other things and I really enjoyed talking to James (he's a character to say the least). Over the next couple days we crossed paths with James a couple more times; when he would see us he would greet us with a big smile and talked to us like old friends. Well the reunion came to an end I never did give James my address, but then we all know how it is, we meet new people say give me your address and I'll do this are I’ll do that, but somehow the things never seem to happen, I'm ashamed to admit it but that's how I felt about James sending me the poster, so I never really gave it too much thought.

Deborah and I are back at home trying to get caught up on the chores that need to be taking care of after being out of town for a week, the phone rings, the voice on the other end says this is James Kaylor, I just want to verify that your address in the Khe Sanh directory is correct, I tell him it's correct, he says OK I'm getting the poster off to you today, I tell him that it's OK he didn't have to send me the poster, his reply was basically shut up I told you I would send you the poster and it's on the way.

James lives on the coast of California, and he knows Ken Pipes, for those of you don't know Ken Pipes, he was Bravo Co. Commander, he led the payback patrol, he was also wounded that day and Ken was awarded the Silver Star, a true hero.

James takes the poster to Ken Pipes and told him he was sending the poster to me, he asked him if he would sign the poster for me, Ken put an absolutely wonderful dedication to me on the bottom of the poster. I what to give a special thanks to Ken Pipes for taking the time to sign the poster for me, and for his lifelong dedication to us old war dogs. And a very heart filled thank you to James Kaylor for reminding me that there are still some truly good people in this world.

Steven Wiese
Bravo Co. lives on.
 

 

   
             
 
 
 
         
     

GREETING and SALUTATIONS

By Neil J Kenny

I am Neil Joseph Kenny. I entered the United States Marine Corps in June of 1967. I served in Vietnam with Lima Company Third Battalion 26th Marine Regiment from January 1968 through December 1968. I was reassigned to Charlie Company First Battalion Fifth Marines for the remainder of my ‘Tour of Duty’. It also was the end of my tenure in the Marine Corps, as I was separated from active duty in January 1969.

It was a time when I went from a ‘Civilian to a Marine’ from a ‘Private to a Corporal’. Most importantly it was a time where I went from a ‘Boy to a Man’ It was a time that brought me from the frivolity of youth to the fruition of adult life and I was still only nineteen years old whence I was thrust back upon an unsuspecting and often uncaring world.

I was then and am now most proud to have earned the title of Marine. Some of my very good and trusted friends are men who have served this country in various branches of the military. I myself actually did a three year stint in the New York Air National Guard. My Dad served in WWII with the United States Army. He was assigned to pick up dead and wounded while at the ‘Battle of the Bulge’. My younger brother served eight years in the United States Navy. He is a plank owner of the USS Platte. My older brother served two years in the United States Air Force. We’re still not sure how he managed that. Geez, my middle daughter is a Captain in the United States Merchant Marine. Her first job was as a Third Mate aboard a ‘rollo’ bringing humvees into Grenada during the military operations that took place there during the last century.

Why is all of this relevant? Well, maybe it isn’t; or perhaps it is to demonstrate what one might see as a sense of service that is prevalent with the many that frequent our social circle. One thing that has always been out there is the friendly inter service rivalry that has existed between the various branches of the military. It exists within the various branches of the different branches of the military services themselves. This issue extends down to the Company and Squad levels as a ‘can you top this’ rhetorical and frivolous folly.

It has become with an increasing amount of vitriolic venom a much more ominous fact that there are those amongst us who would have one believe that their service is of a higher calling and thus more meaningful then that of others. Theirs was and is the greater sacrifice and thus the only service of any valor. This is a point of interest from one whose family has served in most all of the branches, both during times of conflict as well as moments of relative calm.

We as a family have had some serve at the ‘Tip of the Spear’, while others were asked to perform duty that didn’t require as much exposure to the flame of conflict that is in fact the fire which tempers the steel of the person of whom we are today. My family has always respected the difference that each of us has had to endure while in service to this nation. I wonder why it is that not every family can do the same.

At the Marine Corps League Detachment that I belong to approximately ninety percent of our members were never called upon to face the chaos of combat. The ten percent of us who have, are a menagerie of folks who have been to the islands of the Pacific, the tundra like atmosphere of Korea, the steamy jungles of Nam, the urban sprawl of Lebanon, the sweaty Caribbean locations of Grenada and Panama, the mountainous nether lands of Afghanistan, and of course the never ending sandy patches of Kuwait and Iraq.

Does being in all of these aforementioned places make us better or lesser Marines then the ninety percent? Are we more of a Marine, or less of a Marine than those others?
No. I would think not. What may best be said is that collectively we are different Marines.

A young Warrior from Echo Company 2/6 may have said it best when he stated,
“Never above you, Never below you, Always beside you.”
I could not have stated it so eloquently if I were to search my dictionary and thesaurus while researching a long overdue term paper.

Presently I spend much if not all of my time working with or for members of the Military Service. I have a fair knowledge of what the government offers as to benefits for Veterans and their families. I spend a good amount of hours on a daily basis assisting Veterans of all branches and eras of service, to obtain what they are entitled to. Since I do not write any checks, I am not concerned with how much or what percent they obtain, my focus is primarily that they get what they are entitled to. Nothing more, nothing less.

Recently I have been extremely busy with the establishment and daily operation of the Corporal Jason L. Dunham Memorial Scholarship Foundation Inc. I am happy to say that we are now a bona fide entity and are pushing forward to assist Marines and Corpsmen who are seeking to obtain or further their college education.

At my most recent reunion, I had the pleasure to bring along with me a young Marine Sergeant who served with distinction in Iraq. It was wonderful to see the collective body of guests and veterans from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines rise as a single unit and to applaud this young man’s service. I was proud to say that I was a member of this group of ‘Gathered Warriors’.

What saddens me is the continuing discourse that prevails with the: I, Me, Mine, mentality of ‘can you top this’, and I was and am more then you.

At another past reunion someone was selling shirts that stated, “The older we get, the better we were.” I bought the shirt. I refuse to buy into the mentality. I was at Khe Sanh, from day one to day done, during the ‘Tet Offensive of 1968.’Since we see the world from behind our own eyes, I can only say for myself that I didn’t feel that Khe Sanh was the worst place that I was at during my tenure in Nam. I do not believe that neither the Marines of Bravo 1/26; nor the Marines of either Echo 2/26 or Mike 3/26 would agree with my assessment. I was not on the Ghost Patrol or either of their hills during the siege. I know not of their suffering nor pain, or loss on the personal level with which they did endure. I do know that I was there to share the same fate with them if it were that we were to go down. At the end of the day these men – both known and unknown - to me are my Brothers.
“Never above me, Never Below me, Always Beside me.”

It is that Esprit de Corps that allowed me to prevail beyond Khe Sanh through the many months of carnage that Lima Company would endure to my own finality with war during Operation Meade River.

What I come away with at the end of the day is the Camaraderie, Love, and Brotherhood that one comes to in the experience of war. War fought by young boys, who become men all too soon and sudden. A War that from our baptism of fire until our last breath tempers our hearts and souls. A War which if left where it was could allow us to be together and rejoice in life with our spouses, children, and grand children; and most importantly with each other. A War that I can leave behind only while in the company of my Brothers.

I would guess this is why that outside of my family there are not many folks who I associate with who are not Warriors and/or those who have served in this Nations Military.

I am getting older and have a desire to share my remaining time enjoying the company of those who would laugh together while remembering those who have given their all so that we could. I would think it prudent and wise to use the time remaining to work for the benefit of those who have followed the path which we have paved for them.

To those who choose to go into the new day, I would ask that you travel the path with me, rather then traverse it alone. For it is our unity that shall enable us to forge a brighter future for all that come after.

Semper Fidelis
 

 

   
             
 
 
 
         
     

I wrote this some time ago and recently found it with my pile of non-throw-aways.
Here goes Brothers!!!

By Steve Hecknauer

As I watched the show in silence it seemed like yesterday
The songs the storytellers were singing were new to you and me
The camera scanned the audience and the faces looked quite strange
The beads, the flowers, the experience have all melted away
Where once the Legends of songs stood grasping for the why's and how's of life

Some have left this world without control of even their own lives
Twenty years back I was just a kid trying to grow way before my time
Today I've reached the middle age and wonder where went my life
The songs that echoed from the tube reached out and reminded me
Of a time not long ago which seemed for them to be carefree
To sing of love and freedom was easy for those days
but for some we sang in silence for death was a heartbeat away

As I watched the audience I see them trying to relive a portion of their lives when they were but mere kids
I remember seeing faces much like I see here of people scorning young men who survived a deadly scare
Today the thoughts of yesterday makes some happy to hold dear for some the sounds of battles still ring too loudly in our ears
The memories are embedded in all our minds and hearts, of songs of hope of lyrics, and of how we left our mark.

Steve Hecknauer
C-1/26
Khe Sanh 67-68
 

 

   
             
 
 
 
         
     

THE COIN

By Craig W. Tourte

The month of October is a busy month of traveling for me, seems I’m always out of town this time of year. A few weeks ago it was Dana Point in Southern California then a drive down to San Diego. Last week it was Pebble Beach and these last four days I spent down around Palm Springs, just got home this evening. Next week it’s over to Oceanside then down to San Diego and once again to Palm Springs. The week after that it’s a few days at a place by the name of Graeagle, a small community in the mountains located just a little East of Truckee which is South of Reno and East of North Lake Tahoe. Just so you’ll understand, all of this traveling is not related to any importance I might have but rather it’s related to a good friend who for some reason just seems to enjoy my marvelous companionship.

Anyway, during my travels I always carry a few Khe Sanh coins with me. Just in case I might meet another veteran or someone who might have an interest in our experience. As a matter of fact the other night I was talking to a person who asked if I knew of a tax exempt organization which consisted of veterans because his/her company was required to donate a certain amount of money. I am efferting that now, and of course I recommended our association (that’s another story). I provided that person with a coin so they would not forget our conversation.

I’m going to try and be vague here to protect the innocent, but I knew that I would be once again meeting our California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at this particular event I would be attending in Palm Springs. I had met him last year and the year before that. By meeting him I really mean shaking hands with him as he worked the small crowd of people I happened to be among. The first year I decided not to have my photograph taken with him, I had just witnessed soldiers returning from Iraq at the airport and felt they were more significant and I wasn’t in the mood for a B movie star running for office. The second time I saw him he was up on stage, but I knew this time would be different; I would have the opportunity to be right next to him. I had left my camera in my golf bag but I did have a couple of Khe Sanh coins with me.

The time had arrived, here he was coming right at me, the usual hanger on's, ass kissers and photographers and security guards with him. For a few seconds he stood all alone and I was just a few feet away. I placed the Khe Sanh coin in my left hand and approached. I extended my right hand and said, “Nice to see you governor.” He took my hand and shook it and quickly moved along. My intention of course was to shake his hand with my right and hand him the Khe Sanh coin with my left. I wanted to say something meaningful and deep, like, “On behalf of the Khe Sanh Veterans I would like to present this coin to you” or something along those lines. But I’m afraid I failed, for some reason this occasion just did not seem appropriate.

As I look back on this failed presentation of mine, I have to ask myself, if I was able to give the Governor one of our coins, would he understand the meaning, the significant of it all. Would he appreciate our sacrifice? If I was able to just slip the coin in his pocket and he came across it later, would he even know what it was, perhaps he would think it was just a trinket of some kind or perhaps a joke of some sort.

While at Dana Point a couple of weeks ago, I had the occasion to sit down with California’s former Governor Pete Wilson who I have known for a number of years. I had sent Governor Wilson a Khe Sanh coin and a copy of the “Battalion of Kings” and Ray Stubbe’s book, “B5-T8 In 48 QXD, the Secret Official History of the North Vietnamese Army of the Siege at Khe Sanh…” a number of months ago. I didn’t have to wonder if Governor Wilson would understand the significant of the coin or if he even knew what Khe Sanh was, or if he was even aware of the sacrifices made by so many, those now long years ago. I didn’t have to explain to Governor Wilson what it meant to be a Khe Sanh Veteran. Governor Wilson looked me in the eye and thanked me for the gift I had sent him. For you see, California’s former Governor Pete Wilson, had been a Marine Corps Officer.

Publisher Note:
The challenge Coins mentioned in the article are available through the KSV PX.

 

   
             
 
 
 
         
     

The Great Race, Man vs. Incoming

By Mike “Animal” Preston

See the man running down the runway? (now you know why they call it a ''runway”) that could be me, why am I running, look almost straight up, about 60 -70 feet and slightly to the right, that would be north west, some of you would know that the rest of you would be clueless. That little black line is what was commonly known as “incoming.” I think it is a 155 round or a 140 or 122 rocket can't tell from the picture, doesn't matter they are all lethal. Maybe the guy doing the Khe Sanh ''shuffle’’ was one of you guys reading this. We all did it a lot if you happened to be a Khe Sanh Grunt.

The only thing is that is almost certain that I can tell about this picture is the branch of service this guy is in, army-no, air force-no, marines maybe, most likely navy, huh? What makes me think the odds on favorite is a naval man. Aren't sailors supposed to be clanking anchors? Well he is more than likely a Seabee out in the V-Ring as we called the runway, looking for arty holes or fixing one, that’s the only reason to be out there on the runway, or maybe he was just suicidal!

Given the terminal (that’s a fitting term) velocity of a 155 & 70 Foot AGL. That round is going to impact in about 02. Seconds or less. I wonder if the guy got through it unscathed.

 

   
             
 
 
 
             
         
   

BRU

By James Dawdy

How can you ever forget 'em? Those pitiful but smiling little urchins who hung out waiting for food, clothing, and cigarettes ('You give me one Salem cigarette #1 GI?"). Of course, it was somewhat comforting to have them around because we could, correctly or incorrectly, believe that their presence indicated no enemy activity that day.


Jim Dawdy and Bru Kids at Rock Quarry Dec 1967 Khe Sanh

In the picture of the four kids, you will notice two who have C-ration boxes tightly protected-a very valuable commodity in an area devastated by war.

The kid in the white shirt and USMC soft cover has on what must be at least a size 13W pair of boots (mine were 11R), and the kid in red shorts has what appeared to be empty ammo bandoliers wrapped around his feet. Footwear was apparently at a premium. The kid with the big boots had an empty M-60 ammo bandolier slung across his shoulder with C-rations in it. Nothing went to waste. You can't help but wonder what happened to them. Did they die from errant fire, ours or from the enemy, on their village? Did they grow up to go to school, have wives and kids, and see peace and prosperity for their families? We all hope so. It made us feel good to share our meager resources with them. It restored our faith in our own compassionate humanity, and allowed us to see within ourselves the qualities which keep us sane, even in the midst of the horror, death and destruction of war.


Jim Dawdy and Bru Kids at Rock Quarry Dec 1967 Khe Sanh


Jim Dawdy at Khe Sanh February 2007

 

 

KIDS

 


NVA Khe Sanh Battlefield Memorial Museum
on the Former Khe Sanh Combat Base

 

 


NVA PT-76 Tank used on assault of Lang Vei
February 1968

 

 


Jim Dawdy next to tank from
3rd Tank Bn

 


Jim Dawdy Khe Sanh Dec 1967
Ontos from A 3rd AT

 

   
             
 
 
 
         
     

All Servicemen & Women Aren't "Military Heroes"


Saluting Our Veterans

By Don Moore
The Englewood Sun

On this Memorial Day, I'm thinking about the com­ment "military hero" made so casually by any of us who have never been in battle when referring to our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's incorrect! The dictionary defines a "hero" as: "A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life." That doesn't apply to 99 percent of the American soldiers who have ever shouldered a rifle. A "military hero" to me is a soldier who charged off a landing craft at Omaha Beach into weathering German machine-gun fire from the cliffs above. With his buddies dying all about him on D-Day, this soldier survived and fights his way through Europe during the final 11 months of World War II in Europe. Finally he stood at the Rhine River in Germany, watching the advance of Russian troops moving westward during the closing days of the war. That's a "military hero."

A "military hero" might also be a member of the 101st Airborne Division stuck in a foxhole at the Bat­tle of the Bulge during the freezing cold winter of 1944, fighting the unexpected advance of the German army in the biggest battle on the Western Front dur­ing World War II. Under armed and under clothed, not freezing to death was an accomplishment, and holding the line against a fantastically well equipped German army was almost superhuman.

A "military hero" might also be all of the 177 B-24 "Liberator" bomber crews in the 9th Air Force who flew the low level raid on the German oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania on Aug. 1, 1943. German antiair­craft guns and fighters shot down 54 of these bomb­ers. Pilots of five of the American heavy bombers received the Medal of Honor for their actions "above and beyond the call of duty" while participating in that attack. A "military hero" might also be any of those "leather-necks" who charged ashore at Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945, and spent the next 36 days taking that eight square mile island away from the Japanese. Very few Marines survived the entire battle without being wounded: Some 6,825 American ser­vicemen died on that god forsaken volcanic island, and 19,189 more were wounded The Japanese lost almost all 22,000 of their defenders; only 216 enemy soldiers were captured.

A "military hero" might also be the survivors of the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown that went down during the battle of Midway that began June 6, 1942 and ended four days later. By then, four Japanese carriers had been sent to the bottom by American air power. Carrier based planes from the Yorktown played a key role before she was put out of commission by enemy planes. The Yorktown was sunk after the battle by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine while under tow. This battle was a turning point in the Pacific theater. Never again did the Imperial Japanese Navy go on the offensive in World War II.

A "military hero" might also be any of the members of the 1st Marine Division who marched to Chosin Reservoir and back during the freezing winter of 1950 in the early months of the Korean War. The di­vision was up against a numerically superior army of North Korean and Chinese soldiers who had them surrounded most of the time. Like the Battle of the Bulge five years earlier, it took a lot of effort in the subzero weather for a Marine not to freeze to death. At one point during the battle, Maj. Gen. O. E Smith, the division commander, was ordered by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, supreme Allied commander in Korea, to retreat. His response: "Retreat hell! We're sur­rounded and we're just advancing in another direc­tion."

A "military hero" might also be an Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine aviator shot down over enemy terri­tory during the Vietnam War. Many of these pilots, like U.S. Sen. John McCain, were captured and spent years in solitary confinement in a North Vietnam POW camp. In McCain's case, he was offered his freedom by his captures, apparently because he was the son and the grandson of two U.S. Navy admirals. He wouldn't consider it and came hobbling off the U.S. military transport plane in 1974 with the rest of our repatriated POWs from the "Hanoi Hilton" who were true "military heroes."

A "military hero" might also be a Marine who took part in 'the 77 day battle involving their artillery base at Khe Sanh, South Vietnam between Jan. 21 and April 1, 1968. Gen. William Westmoreland took on Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, the legendary North Vietnamese commander. Some 6,000 U.S. Marines were surrounded by an estimated 30,000 North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong troops. The Marines lost 730 killed and 2,642 wounded. It's estimated enemy losses were in excess of 10,000. The siege of Khe Sanh was finally broken when a re-supply column broke through to the besieged fire base.

There are only three recipients of the Medal of Honor that I know about that have any connection to the Sun's circulation area: The late PFC Douglas T. Ja­cobson, USMC, WW II, Port Charlotte; PFC Hector Cafferata, USMC, Korea, Venice; the late Lt. Clyde Lassen, USN, Vietnam, Englewood. I had the privilege of interviewing Cafferata a few years ago. He was a green Marine recruit in Korea who took part in the Chosin Reservoir campaign. Although badly wounded, he and his buddy held off a hoard of at­tacking enemy troops during the bitter cold fighting at the reservoir. "I'm no hero," he assured me. "All I did was do my best to save me and my buddies butts." The next morning they found more than 100 dead enemy soldiers in front of their position. Cafferata's commendation says there were only a handful of enemy dead in front of him. Asked about the discrepancy the platoon leader who recommended Cafferata for the Medal of Honor told me/Nobody would be­lieve how many dead there were in front of his spot on the line so we reduced the number."

The next time you use the phrase, "military heroes," make sure that's what the person is you're talking about. To use it indiscriminately is to cheapen its meaning for true "military heroes."
Contact Him

If you're a veteran with a story or you have a friend who has a tale to tell about his part in any war or veterans activity, give Don Moore a call at 941-681-3000 or 877-827-6204. You can Email: moore@sun-herald.com, or fax: 941-426 3576. To send a letter, write:
Englewood Sun, 167 W Dearborn St., Englewood, FL 34223.

 

   
             
 
 
 
         
     

GENERAL PACE 2nd PLATOON REUNITED

By Cpl. Ryan Blaich
II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)

KARMAH, Iraq (Sept. 5, 2007) -- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, made a unique visit to Marines stationed here, Sept. 4. As far as meetings with four-star generals usually go, this event was much less formal. It seemed more like a gathering of relatives, a way for Gen. Pace to connect the hardened war fighters of today to the heroes of his past. It was evident he saw himself, and his old unit, in the Marines who stood in front of him.

Nearly 40 years have passed since then 2nd Lt. Pace first stepped into a combat zone as a platoon commander. The year was 1968 and the battle was infamously known as the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. It was there he battled against communism and the hand of fate, which made a profound impression on Gen. Pace's commitment to country and Corps. The event marked a time in his life never to be forgotten throughout his career as a Marine infantry officer.

Decades later and less than a month before he retires from office, Gen. Pace returned to the battlefield to join the same platoon of Marines he led into combat as a final salute to the Corps and to those who have ever served in 2nd platoon, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

Gen. Pace stood stoically in front of men who have seen many recent battles, some just weeks prior. He shared much of his past with them as they stood silently, gathered around weight benches and dumbbells at their outpost, known as Observation Post 3, near downtown Karmah. Only the hum of a lone generator could be heard as Gen. Pace not only recalled the full rank and names of the men who perished under his command, but his fight to make sense of it all as well.

"Guys to the left of me got shot. Guys to the right of me got blown up and nothing happened to me at all. I didn't understand that. I got out of Vietnam without even a scratch on me," Gen. Pace said. "But, I made a promise to myself back then that I would continue to serve in the Corps, in their memory, and try to do my job out of respect for them." Gen. Pace said he would only retire after he stopped getting promoted, and in his words, "It worked out OK."... Read the rest to understand what a devastating blow to the military and the US Marine Corps that the PC police and the media have given us....Most people would agree it worked out a little better than OK.

On Sept. 30, 2005, Gen. Pace was appointed to his present position, making him the first Marine to ever serve as the president's top military advisor. He also serves as the military advisor to the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security. Until recently, no other Marine had ever made it to vice chairman, except Gen. Pace.

Despite the long list of successes on Gen. Pace's resume, he never forgot where and with whom it all started.

"After just over 40 years of service, when I do get out, I will still owe the Marines of 2nd platoon, Golf Company, more than I could ever repay," he said. "I'm so proud to be here with you."

The platoon seemed in awe, almost speechless by his visit. Maybe they were trying to digest the idea of a top-ranking, four-star general who humbly made it his priority to meet each of them individually, hand out coins and take personal photographs while thanking them for their sacrifices.

As Marines maneuvered around the outdoor gym for a group photo with the most distinguished member of their platoon, Gen. Pace said, "I'ld love to be able to show my guys from Golf, 2nd platoon, your picture. I know they'll be proud of you," referring to the Marines of his Vietnam platoon, who he still visits.

It is this close knit bond between Marines, officers and enlisted, which Gen. Pace said is the foundation to the health of the Corps.

After each Marine had their photograph taken with the general, got their coin and asked their questions, he had one final gift to give, a knife. Both symbolic and traditional, the K-bar knife has been a staple of Marine combat gear for generations. It was this he chose to bestow upon the latest platoon leader of 2nd platoon.

"I wanted to give you this. From one 2nd platoon leader to another," he said. "Out of respect for who you are, out of envy for your future time in our Corps and out of envy for your opportunity to lead these Marines."

1st Lt. Chad Cassady, a former sergeant, was the proud owner of the new knife and said he felt privileged to receive such a gift from a man he has long respected. Cassady had met Gen. Pace nearly two years ago at the Marine Corps Ball ceremony, not long after Gen. Pace was elected to chairman. He did not think their paths would ever cross again.

"I didn't think I'd ever see him again," Cassady said. "I never could have imagined we shared a connection."

Cassady does not plan to use the weapon in combat, but instead will proudly display the grand memento in his house. Not everyone there got a K-bar, but perhaps was able to take away a sense of belonging.

As the platoon's Corpsman, Seaman Kyle Bourgeois, put it, "I just feel fortunate."

Silent admiration filled the eyes of lance corporals and captains alike and everyone present received something less tangible than a steel blade or a metal coin. Gen. Pace was handing to each of them an item that never fades or gets dull; a sense of pride and the relentless will to succeed.

The bonds formed and shared between Marines, units, and platoons are timeless.

"Forty years from now, you'll remember these officer's names and they'll remember yours," Gen. Pace said. "A lot of stuff is going to happen between now and then. You are going to have a lot of experiences, most of it is going to be a blur, but you remember this, you'll remember each other and I'll bet you, you'll find ways to get together."

"It'll be very difficult for me to walk away," he said. "I was shaking hands the day before yesterday in Afghanistan and a soldier came through and said, 'Sir, thank you for your service. We'll take it from here.' As I look at you, that's spot on. You have taken it."

Robert A. Hall

 

   
             
 
 
 
         
     
Interesting Article on Gun Possession for Those With PTSD

Veterans Disarmament Bill

Could Come Before the Senate at Any Time
Gun Owners of America (GOA) provides Senators
with several pro-gun amendments

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Senate could bring up the Veterans Disarmament Bill at any time, as a result of its passage in the Judiciary Committee a few weeks ago. The bill—introduced by F-rated Representative Carolyn McCarthy and Senator Patrick Leahy—is ready to come to the floor.

Gun Owners of America delivered draft amendments to every Senate office yesterday, providing important changes that must be made to the bill. Among others, the most important amendment would make it clear that veterans suffering from PTSD are NOT prohibited persons, and thus, are not to be denied the ability to purchase a firearm simply because of emotional problems resulting from their service to this country.

The Military Order of the Purple Heart is opposed to the McCarthy-Leahy bill, having stated on June 18 of this year, that "For the first time the legislation, if enacted, would statutorily impose a lifetime gun ban on battle-scarred veterans."

Military veterans are justifiably concerned that this bill will legitimize the very thing that President Clinton did over seven years ago, when his administration added 83,000 names of veterans—suffering from maladies such as PTSD—into the NICS background check system.

Proponents of the bill argue that this bill gives veterans a mechanism for getting their names off of the prohibited person list. That's like giving a mugger access to your home, but then stating you can hire a lawyer and pay THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of dollars to eventually (maybe) get your stolen items back.

If the proponents are right—that this bill will actually help gun owners—then surely they won't object to friendly amendments that are designed to make it unmistakably clear that military veterans or grownups who suffered with ADHD as children will never be denied the ability to purchase a firearm, simply because they once had a "determination" from an anti-gun shrink that said there was the MINISCULE possibility that they could pose a danger to themselves or others.

You can be sure that if the McCarthy-Leahy bill passes, it will just be a first step. Consider some of the bigoted statements made by celebrities and politicians which not only show their contempt for gun owners but their pompous thinking which leads them to believe that we are all crazy for wanting to own a gun:

 "I don't know that he's mentally qualified to own that gun."—Democrat Presidential candidate Joe Biden, insulting a YouTube viewer during a debate after the man referred to his semi-auto as his "baby." (July 25, 2007).

"Isn't it possible that we all have that bit of insanity in us? That's why I'm for gun control . . . I don't really believe that a human being who feels [things] should have the option [that is, access to a gun] at their fingertips."—Actress Jodie Foster, quoted in a Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence press release (August 20, 2007).

And then there're the studies which will be, no doubt, used by liberal anti-gunners to strip away the gun rights from more and more law-abiding citizens, using the pretext that a shrink's diagnosis proves these people shouldn't own guns:

"A quarter of the Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans treated with U.S. government-funded health care have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, according to a study published Monday."—AFP news (March 12, 2007).

"The number of American children and adolescents treated for bipolar disorder increased 40-fold from 1994 to 2003, researchers report today in the most comprehensive study of the controversial diagnosis. Experts say the number has almost certainly risen further since 2003."—New York Times (September 4, 2007).

Even before the studies started rolling in, gun haters were already working the legal loopholes as best they could. When the Veterans Administration got caught adding veterans' names into the NICS system during the Clinton presidency, they defended their actions by saying it was "required by law"—a statement which was just flat out false.

But it's notable to hear what a spokesman for the VA said in an interview with World Net Daily on June 27, 2000. He said the most common way of finding a veteran "incompetent" is when he or she receives a formal rating of incompetence from a VA panel of medical representatives or from "a duly authorized VA medical center, government agency, or even a PRIVATE PHYSICIAN." (Emphasis added.)

That's what HR 2640 is all about. McCarthy and Leahy (and others like Senator Chuck Schumer) are forging the legal chains that will be used to keep hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of decent, law-abiding Americans from owning guns . . . not because of what a court rules, but because of what ONE INDIVIDUAL says.

Over two hundred years ago, Patrick Henry warned about the "chains" that were being forged to enslave them. If he were here today, would he not warn us again?

Thankfully, there are many of you who are sounding the alarm. State groups from all over the nation are pumping out alerts to supplement what GOA is doing at the national level. Just yesterday, the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition (NHFC) called its members to action, stating that HR 2640 is a Trojan Horse, which sounds justified on the outside with promises of keeping "mental defectives" from having firearms. But when one takes a closer look at the details of the bill, the group said, it reveals "a huge expansion in those who will become a prohibited person; an expansion that could potentially include most Americans."

In addition to pointing out how many shrinks could prohibit average Americans from owning guns, NHFC points out that many pediatricians could make similar anti-gun "determinations" (using the language of the bill) to disarm their patients—since after all, these docs believe that "any household with firearms is 'dangerous,' even if they are properly stored."

Good point.

ACTION:

1) Stay informed: GOA has a mammoth section on it’s website which both gives the specifics of the Veterans Disarmament Act and answers the claims made by supporters of the bill. Please go to http://www.gunowners.org/netb.htm to get more information, including the proposed GOA amendments that were delivered to each Senator on Tuesday.

2) Alert others: Forward this alert to pro-gun friends and family and ask them to take action as well.

3)Take action: Please contact your Senators, even if you have already done so. You can use the pre-written message below and send it as an e-mail by visiting the GOA Legislative Action Center at http://www.gunowners.org/activism.htm (where phone and fax numbers are also available).

----- Pre-written letter -----

Dear Senator:
I oppose the Veterans Disarmament Act, which is being pushed by Representative Carolyn McCarthy (HR 2640) and Sen. Patrick Leahy. This bill will expand the 1993 Brady Law and disarm hundreds of thousands of combat veterans, among others.

I understand that Gun Owners of America (GOA) distributed several amendments recently to every senatorial office to address the mistaken arguments that supporters of the bill have. I also understand that proponents of this bill are claiming it will actually help gun owners.

They argue that this bill gives veterans a mechanism for getting their names off of the prohibited person list. That's like giving a mugger access to your home, but then stating you can hire a lawyer and pay thousands upon thousands of dollars to eventually (maybe) get your stolen items back.

Well, if the proponents are right—that this bill will actually help gun owners--then surely they won't object to friendly amendments that are designed to make it unmistakably clear that military veterans or grownups who suffered with ADHD as children will never be denied the ability to purchase a firearm, simply because they once had a "determination" from an anti-gun shrink that said there was the MINISCULE possibility that they could pose a danger to themselves or others. That is what the GOA amendments are designed to do.

I still believe that the Brady Law has done more to register gun owners and deny guns from of law-abiding Americans than to keep guns out of criminals' hands. But adopting these amendments will at least prevent an anti-gun administration from doing what the Clintons did in 2000 when the Veterans Administration added the names of some 83,000 veterans into the NICS system.

Gun Owners of America E-Mail Alert
8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151
Phone: (703) 321-8585
FAX: (703) 321-8408
URL:http://www.gunowners.org/

 

   
             
 

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