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29
Dec

RM3 Sidney Weinstein US Coast Guard (1942-1946)

herbPersonal Service Reflections of US Coast Guardsman:

RM3 Sidney Weinstein

US Coast Guard

(1942-1946)

View Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/bio/Herb.Weinstein

WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?

I was in high school at the time of Pearl Harbor. I had never heard of Pearl Harbor and didn’t know where it was. That was true for many of my friends but we sure found out quickly. We all became Gung Ho and were ready to enlist, however we had a couple of months left. to graduate so I opted to finish school.

Many of my friend did enlist, going into the US Army Air Corps to become pilots. That was my desire also, but my father said “NO”. He was in the first World War, captured by the Germans and gassed. He was shot and he lost 3 fingers on his left hand. When I said “US Army” he said “Not MY son”.

My friend said that we could enlist in the US Coast Guard but I said I wanted to fly. He said “I will take care of you and you will fly”. We went for our physicals. I was accepted but he was rejected for athletes foot that could have contaminated the entire group. I met him in New Guinea and said “Look what coast you gave me.” We never went to flight training as I thought I would. Instead I became a Radioman on a ship.

WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?

My service path is as follows: Enlisted as an Apprentice Seaman, boot camp, the assorted

guard duty in North Philadelphia and then Cape May, NJ Radio School in Atlantic City NJ. USCGDO New York for assignment finally to the US Army FS-271 as a Radioman.DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS? IF SO, COULD YOU DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?

We took the ship from Wheeler Shipyard in NY through the Panama Canal to the west coast for guns and then to Honolulu, HI and the Pacific Ocean areas south of the equator to New Guinea and then shuttled in the area supplying the Army and Marine units fighting the Japs in this God forsaken island.

Assigned to the USS Aquarius (AKA-16) for further duty in the radio room of this Attack Cargo Ship. It was an amphibious type with 8 LCM’s and 16 LCVP’s plus and array of anti-aircraft guns with a compliment of plus or minus 500 men when assorted troops of the Marine Corps or the US Army. After the defeat of the Japanese, we were assigned to Admiral Kinkaid’s 7th Fleet to trapsport Chaing Kai Sheks Chinese troops to North China to fight Mao Tse Tungs communist Chinese troops. We made numerous trips to deliver those troops and finally back to Okinawa to pick up US Marines and take them to Seattle Washington. We finally left the west coast for New York, through the Panama Canal up the east coast to the gold old USA and finally discharged in very late April of 1946.

WHICH, OF THE VESSELS OR DUTY STATIONS YOU WERE ASSIGNED TO, DO YOU HAVE THE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY?

To tell you the truth, I did enjoy my duty in the Coast Guard wherever I was stationed. I have no regrets except that I wasn’t allowed to go to pilot training as I had anticipated. I would say however, that my greatest sea duty station was aboard the USS Aquarius AKA-16 for the exceptional tours, the initial combat in areas unknown to me. To the friendships that lingered far beyond the service. To the reunions we did have for many years . And believe it or not, to tell the people aboard this ship that she was built at Kearny Shipyards in New Jersey, just a few miles from my house. Some of them eve thought I helped build the ship. That’s how gullible some of them were.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?

I think my most memorable experience was assigned to the US Coast Guard detachment in Camp LeJuene, NC. I was privileged to go to Elizabeth City NC to the Coast Guard air station there and allowed to take an anti-submarine warfare flight in a Martin PBM patrol plane over the Atlantic Ocean. That cemented my desire to become a pilot. (I was able to do that later in life, eventually flying for the Civil Air Patrol, an arm of the US Air Force and becoming a Command Pilot with 15 years of service.)

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24
Dec

BMC Cesar Romero, US Coast Guard (1943-1945)

cesarView Coast Guard Service of Actor:

BMC Ceasar Romero

US Coast Guard

(1943-1945)


Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/profile/9164

Short Bio: In October, 1942, he voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and saw service in the Pacific Theater. He reported aboard the Coast Guard-manned assault transport USS Cavalier (APA-37) in November, 1943 and saw action at Tinian and Saipan. According to a press release from the period:

“Romero preferred to be one of the crew and asked for no special privileges, which he did not receive. His shipmates admired him for this and for his exceptionally hard work. Romero was considered to be one of the best winch operators, swinging 18,000 lb. barges from their deck cradles over the side of the transport during invasions or while loading cargo. Among other duties he was first powderman on the forward five-inch gun. When an occasion permitted recreation, Romero helped put on a variety show for the crew. Later in the war he assisted in Bond rallies.”

(Veterans – view more military profiles of famous people on www.togetherweserved.com)

23
Dec

Vietnam Vet’s Portraits Pay Tribute to Fallen Soldiers

When Michael Reagan came back from the Vietnam War he said there was a piece of him missing. “I joined because there was a war going on, and I felt it was my duty to do that” said Reagan.

Reagan was sent to Con Thien, Vietnam, in the summer of 1967, and he served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a corporal in the 3rd battalion, 4th Marine Regiment from 1966 to 1969. “I wondered, what am I doing here? There’s some pretty scary stuff happening,” said Reagan.

His return home wasn’t easy, he said. “I remember on April 10 1968, when I landed at the airport. I was spit on and called names. It was not very comfortable.” For the next five years, he said, it was very tough for him to adjust to civilian life. “I didn’t break any laws but drank a lot, and I was pretty screwed up.”

Reagan’s interest in drawing started while he was in the service. “In Vietnam at the Distribution Management Center, you were either fighting or not doing anything, and rather than sit around and not do anything, I would draw pictures of the Marines I was with or their families, and, sadly, sometimes the only thing that would come home from fallen Marines were the drawings I did,” said Reagan.

That desire to become an artist drove him to the Burnley School for Professional Art in Seattle when he was 27 years old. “I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be, but the harder it got, the harder I worked, and I knew this was what I wanted to be,” said Reagan.

After finishing his three-year program at the Burnley School, he got a job at the University of Washington, and retired after 30 years. During that time, Reagan drew thousands of portraits of major celebrities, movie stars, politicians, heads of state, Playboy Playmates, and he became a very successful artist.

While Reagan drew portraits for profit, he also liked to do charity work, and said he saw it as a way to pay-it-forward after his safe return from the war. “I would get the celebrities to sign some blank illustration boards and redraw their portraits and then would auction those to charities. When I got home I really needed to do something to thank the gods for bringing me back home, because I shouldn’t have come home,” said Reagan.

After 25 years of portraits, Reagan got a call from a local TV news station in Seattle to do a story, and the station said to him, “You know what Mike? We realized that over the 25 years you’ve been doing this work for charities, you’ve raised over $10 million,” said Reagan.

That news story was seen nationally, and it was then that a widow whose husband died in combat called Reagan. “I received a call from a Gold Star widow Charisse Johnson from Boise, Idaho, and she said, “How much would you charge me to do a portrait of my husband? He was a Corpsman and died in Iraq in 2003,” said Reagan. He told Johnson that he would not charge for drawing the portrait of Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Michael Vann Johnson Jr.

“I’ll never forget it. I sent it out, and about two weeks later Charisse called me and said, ‘In a year I haven’t slept a full night. Yesterday, I received the portrait of my husband, and I’m calling to thank you because when I opened the package and saw the portrait I looked into his eyes. I reconnected instantly with him. I talked to him and was able to finish some of the conversations we didn’t get to finish,” said Reagan.

Reagan was very moved by Johnson’s wife, and he knew this portrait wasn’t going to be his last one after that, and that’s how the Fallen Heroes Project was born in 2004. “The year before I did this project I was paid $75,000 by the Mariners to do a painting, but this project took over my life, and I figure I needed to do this. I said to my wife, ‘You know this is going to change our life, but it was OK because she knew what this meant to me,” said Reagan.

Ten years later and 3,632 portraits to date all done free of charge of fallen soldiers, Reagan continues to pay tribute to the fallen for their ultimate sacrifice. He opens up his email early in the morning and late at night and sees family requests. “I read a lot about the person I draw and look at tapes and videos of the families. I have a spiritual conversation with the person I’m drawing trying to decipher the message they need me to send home. I’ll never know the message as long as the picture contains it, so when the families get it whatever happens on the other end happens. I’m the vehicle,” said Reagan. He draws an average of two portraits a day every day.

“I have a soft spot in my heart for Mike Reagan”, says TWS Chief Administrator Diane Short. “I was working with Mike on our monthly newsletter “Voices” in which he tells his story, when my dad passed away.”

“I told Mike that my dad was a WWII, Korean and Vietnam vet that had raised nine kids and grandfather to twenty-two. He was gracious enough to ask me a few questions about him and his service. He called me back later that day to say he wanted to do my dad’s portrait. I was blown away. He didn’t have to do that, but that is the kind of man he is.”

“When I returned from my dad’s funeral, this wonderful portrait was waiting for me. It now hangs in my living room.”

For Reagan, this is a huge adventure, and he feels very fortunate to be a part of it. “There’s an incredible amount of trauma and pain for the families who lost these people. They’re all proud of their sons and daughters, husbands and wives, all of them. They are allowing me, a total stranger, to play this incredible part. I came home from Vietnam in 1968, I thought whole, but what I actually had when I came home was a hole. This project and these wonderful families that allow me to do this work for them have allowed that hole to be filled in my soul again,” said Reagan. “I made a commitment to the Marine Corps, and they taught me what commitment was all about and the Fallen Heroes Project is a lifetime commitment.”

Fallen Heroes Project’s mission is to honor the American Fallen Heroes for their ultimate sacrifice during the war against terrorism. The foundation will provide the resources to produce and distribute to each family a hand-drawn portrait of their Fallen Hero, created by artist Michael G. Reagan, free of charge. Each portrait is intended to show our Love and Respect for these Heroes and their families.

22
Dec

Sgt Stephen Willcox U.S. Air Force (1962-1968)

wilcoxPersonal Service Reflections of USAF Airman:

Sgt Stephen Willcox

U.S. Air Force

(1962-1968)

Shadow Box: http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/bio/Stephen.Willcox

WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?

By the time I graduated from high school in 1962, young men either went to college or knew the draft would eventually catch up with them. My grades in high school were less than stellar and there were no expectations from teachers or family that I was “college material.” So, my best friend and I went to see an Army recruiter. We tentatively signed up as Nike Ajax Repairmen. As soon as the recruiter left the office to make copies of documents, the Air Force recruiter from the office across the hall walked in and invited us over to his office. Within the hour we signed papers to join the U.S. Air Force. The decision to join the Air Force for me centered around my concern that I might not have the mechanical ability to be a Nike Ajax Repairman, whereas the Air Force tested recruits for inherent and acquired abilities prior to job training and assignments. Who told the Army recruiter of our decision is lost to time, but I must admit the Air Force recruiter made a bold move. I’m thankful to this day he did so, as the Air Force tests demonstrated clearly that I didn’t possess an ounce of mechanical ability.

WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?

After technical training as an Administrative Specialist at Amarillo AFB, my first assignment was at Donaldson AFB in Greenville, South Carolina with the 63rd Field Maintenance Squadron of the 63rd Troop Carrier Wing (MATS). I worked as a Security Clerk in the Orderly Room. Shortly after arriving at Donaldson, I learned the base would be closed and the 63d TCW moved to Hunter AFB in Savannah, Georgia. We closed down the Orderly Room in about April of 1963 and I was assigned as the 63rd FMS Mail Clerk at Hunter AFB. I transferred to the Aero Repair Branch on the flight line under the direction of CMSGT William G. Jones. When he transferred up to the Field Maintenance Office as Maintenance Superintendent, he took me with him. I essentially became the squadron resource on the Air Force Manual 39-62 and edited airmen and some officer performance reports before forwarding them to Wing Personnel. Due to the zero error rate on reports to Wing Personnel, I was asked to interview for an administrative position at the Office of Deputy Commander Material, 63rd TCW. Although selected for the job it was not very demanding and by the summer of 1965 I grew restless and bored with the job.

Personnel told me of an opening for a special assignment in the state of New Mexico. To apply required an intensive background check, an official Air Force photo session, work history and references. Intrigued, I joined the other candidates vying for the position. Selected for the position in April of 1965, I was assigned to the 1090th Special Reporting Group, an Air Force detachment at Sandia Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sandia Base was from 1946 to 1971 a nuclear weapons installation of the Department of Defense and run by the Army. From April of 1965 until my discharge from active service at the nearby Kirkland AFB, I worked in a classified mail/record room that maintained a tracking system of secret and top secret documents.

DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS? IF SO, COULD YOU DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?

No, I spent my entire four years of active service in the U.S. The 63rd FMS and other squadrons under the 63rd TCW did provide early support operations to Vietnam and other areas of Southeast Asia. Then, the C-124 Globemaster was the only aircraft large enough to carry heavy military equipment into combat areas. Quickly, however, a newer transport aircraft took over the job and the C-124 soon phased out of operation.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?

The one year I served at Sandia Base. The Sandia Base, Kirkland AFB and Albuquerque communities were quite unique. Both Sandia Base and Kirkland employed a large civilian workforce. Sandia Base, in particular was an eclectic community where civilians, Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force personnel worked side by side. Because Sandia was an Army base, an E4 (then A1C) in the Air Force was considered an NCO and could join the NCO Club. The Staff Sergeant who supervised me was not only a boss, but a friend. I often think of those months at Sandia Base and Albuquerque – it’s like the motto on the New Mexico license plate – truly a “Land of Enchantment.”

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17
Dec

The Amazing Story of the USS Kirk

Launched in September 1971, the destroyer escort USS Kirk (FF-1087), with a compliment of 18 Officers and 267 Enlisted, sailed the high seas of the Indian Ocean, South America and much of the Pacific Ocean, including the waters off Vietnam.

She was a warship in every sense: an efficient, deadly fighting machine with the mission of hunting down, pursuing and destroying her submarine prey. Yet her finest hours were spent tending pregnant women, soothing terrified little children, and saving the lives of tens of thousands. This is the incredible story of a brief episode in the early years of the long life of USS Kirk.

Decades of American involvement in South Vietnam came to an end on April 30, 1975 when North Vietnamese troops entered the deserted streets of Saigon on foot, trucks and fighting vehicles. North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates of the presidential palace and soldiers hoisted the yellow and red flag of the Viet Cong.

Just hours before the fall of the Saigon almost all American civilian and military personnel in Saigon were evacuated, along with tens of thousands of South Vietnamese likely to punishment, perhaps even death, for working with the Americans, and flown on Marine helicopters to U.S. Navy aircraft carriers waiting off the coast.

The Vietnam War was officially over. Now those Navy ships were steaming away from Vietnam-with one exception.

That night Commander Paul Jacobs, the captain of the USS Kirk, got a mysterious order to head back to Vietnam from the commander of the evacuation mission – Operation Frequent Wind (the final phase in the evacuation of American civilians and “at-risk” Vietnamese). Adm. Donald Whitmire told Jacobs to go back to rescue the Vietnamese Navy since most of them will probably be killed if they didn’t. And there was one more thing, the admiral told Jacobs: He’d be taking orders from a civilian.

Thirty year old Richard Armitage came aboard the Kirk late at night and met with Jacobs and Commodore Donald Roane, commander of the flotilla of Navy destroyers in the officer’s mess. He told the two officers they were ordered to Con Son Island, about 50 miles off the coast of South Vietnam and not yet occupied by the North Vietnamese. Con Son was the site of a notorious prison. Now, its harbors were the hiding place for the remnants of the South Vietnamese Navy.

Armitage, a U.S. Defense Attaché in Saigon and former Naval Officer, felt the U.S. had sold out the South Vietnamese so he didn’t tell his bosses at the Pentagon there would be refugees on those ships. He feared the American authorities wouldn’t want them.

The Kirk steamed through the night to Con Son, reaching the island just as the sun came up on May 1. There were 30 South Vietnamese navy ships, and dozens of fishing boats and cargo ships. All of them were packed with refugees, desperate to get out of Vietnam. There was no exact count of how many people were on those ships. Some historical records say there were 20,000 people. Other records suggest it was as many as 30,000.
The Kirk sent its engineers to some of the boats and after fixing what could be fixed on the seaworthy vessels and transferring people from the ships that would be left behind.

The Kirk led the flotilla of naval ships, fishing boats and cargo ships toward the Philippines. Another destroyer escort, the USS Cook, helped out as the ships were leaving Con Son.

As the flotilla headed out to sea on the way to the Philippines, other Navy ships came in and out of the escort. Among those other ships were the USS Mobile, USS Tuscaloosa, USS Barbour County, USS Deliver and USS Abnaki. But it’s clear from the daily logs from the Kirk and the other ships that the crew of the Kirk took the lead in what has been called one of the greatest humanitarian missions in the history of the U.S. military

The crew worked tirelessly and professionally, showing as much heart and dedication as any group of people you’ll ever find. They treated the Vietnamese refugees with respect and dignity at a time when they needed most in leaving their country at the end of a long and brutal war.

The Kirk’s sailors kept busy providing food, water and medicine to people on the South Vietnamese ships. Of the some 30,000 refugees on vessels escorted by the Kirk over six days, only three died.

But as the flotilla approached the Philippines, the Kirk’s captain got some bad news. The presence of South Vietnamese vessels in a Philippine port presented the government in Manila with a diplomatic predicament. The government of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, one of the first to recognize the Communist rulers now in control of a single Vietnam, insisted the ships now belonged to the North Vietnamese and they didn’t want to offend the new country.

Armitage and his South Vietnamese friend, Capt. Do, came up with a solution that Marcos had to accept. Since the Americans only loaned the ships to the Vietnamese government to fight the Communists, they would lower the Vietnamese flag and raise the American flag as a sign that the ships were back in the hands of the United States.

Following a frantic search to find 30 American flags, the ships flying American flags were allowed into Subic Bay. For the refugees, it was just the beginning of their long journey, which took them to Guam and then resettlement in the United States

For the sailors of the Kirk, ending the Vietnam War by rescuing 20,000 to 30,000 people was very satisfying.

Armitage says he “envied” the officers and men of the USS Kirk. The ship had not seen combat on its tour to Vietnam. But it ended with the rescue

Information for this article were drawn from USS Kirk websites and an NPR one-hour documentary entitled “The Lucky Few: The Story of USS Kirk.” The film can be seen at http://digitalcitizen.ca/2011/04/30/the-lucky-few-the-story-of-uss-kirk-complete-film/

There is also a book written by Jan K. Herman called “The Luck Few. The Fall of Saigon and the Rescue Mission of The USS Kirk.”

16
Dec

A3C Sherman Hemsley US Air Force (1954-1958)

hemsleyView the Military Service of Actor:

A3C Sherman Hemsley

US Air Force

(Served 1954-1958)

Shadow Box:http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/profile/171483

Short Bio: Sherman Hemsley played characters known to be wise-cracking, “Weezy” loving, “honky” calling, boisterous fools which America and the entire world laughed with kindheartedly. As a child, Hemsley was introduced to acting during school where the teachers would ask students to play different characters. He eventually ended up dropping out of school and joined the Air Force. During his adolescence he never considered acting as a profession until after he served in the military.

15
Dec

MGySgt Carlton E. LeDrew USMC (Ret) (1961-1981)

ledrewPersonal Service Reflections of US Marine:

MGySgt Carlton E. LeDrew

US Marine Corps (Ret)

(1961-1981)

WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?

I am a Canadian transplant. While serving in the Canadian Army (Boy Soldier, 2nd Battalion PPCLI Airborne, 3rd Battalion. Black Watch, Royal Highland Regiment of Canada), our instructors taught us how well they thought of the US Marine Corps with comments like “If you have US Marines on either flank, normal displacement of weapons, otherwise, heavy weapons on the weak flank.” In our Sergeant’s Mess hung the Eagle Globe and Anchor of the Corps. All of this was from serving with Marines in Korea.

Upon completion of a seven-year enlistment, I went to work for a Canadian company in the oilfields of Texas. While there, I met and made friends with a couple of young USMC Sergeants, recruiters no less. The next thing you know, at age of twenty four, I was standing on the yellow footprints at MCRD Parris Island, SC.

WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?

I left Parris Island as a PFC, American Spirit Honor Medal recipient and Series Honor Man, for duty with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines at MCB Camp Lejeune, NC which included a trip through the Caribbean aboard the Boxer, LPH-4.

From there it was duty at C&E Schools (San Diego and 29 Palms) both as a student and as an instructor. I served two tours to Vietnam, Chu Lai and the Da Nang area, with visits to Hue, Phu Bai and Dong Ha. I was fortunate to be granted U.S. Citizenship between these tours, in 1968.

I then followed duty as Senior Career Planner for MACG-38 at MCAS El Toro and then some five years of recruiting duty as the senior recruiter in Atlanta and Operations Chief in Macon, Georgia. My final duty station was MCLB Albany in Georgia.

DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS? IF SO, COULD YOU DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?

Yes, two tours in Vietnam. The first in 1966 and 1967 and the second in 1969 and 1970. Neither would provide material to write a book about other than personal observations of Marines doing their duty under less than desirable conditions.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?

Truly, it is a toss-up between being a Career Planner and a Recruiter as both of these tasks affect the greater good of the Corps. In one, you have the potential retention of a trained and ready Marine. With the other, you are bringing a wide cross section of America’s finest young men and women wanting to be trained as a Marine.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL PERSON FROM YOUR SERVICE STANDS OUT AS THE ONE WHO HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

There were too many to single out just one! From the beginning, my Drill Instructors in boot camp to Instructors in MOS schools, Marines and Sailors aboard ship, overseas duty, working with foreign troops (Canadian, South Korean, Australian), and learning from both young and seasoned Marines. I came away with a wealth of life-lasting experience and knowledge. The mentoring of senior Marines to junior Marines was a key element for a successful career.

CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE THAT WAS FUNNY AT THE TIME AND STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?

As a recruit at Parris Island, I was somewhat of an oddity being age twenty four, married, having seven years of previous service (albeit with the Canadian Army). During one of many inspections, I was asked who my Series Commander was. I replied, “Sir, my Series Commander is 1st “Leftenant” Vogler, sir! “Lieutenant” is pronounced “Leftenant” in Britain and other countries of the former British Empire.

“Leftenant” . . . “Leftenant” . . . I do remember leaving my body outline in sweat on the deck after that, and learned very quickly to remember “Lieutenant” thereafter.

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER THE SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT JOB?

Several months prior to retirement, I attended a Veterans Job Fair. I interviewed with several companies and decided on joining a specialty advertising firm as a sales rep. I knew it might be a challenge, but I felt that since I had succeeded as a Marine Recruiter, I could do well here and, fortunately, did.

In the following years, I considered a number of interesting challenges that included management in the fast food industry (McDonalds); director of a disabilities program for a county in Arizona; management of a pest control company (I became the company expert on termites, scorpions, Africanized bees, and pigeons); working for myself as a consultant for small businesses (tough boss). One of the most interesting challenges was that of property manager for a fair sized church in California. It had five buildings, including a 1300 seat sanctuary, a seven-acre lake, a soccer field, four parking lots and all the peripheral landscaping. They had all of this with a staff of two full-time, two part-time workers and a limited budget. My Marine training and learned scrounging abilities served me well on this job!

In my ‘retirement’ I am anything but retired! I work with and actively participate in programs and projects designed to assist Veterans of all branches of the Armed Forces. I am also a member of the Military Affairs Committee of the local County Chamber of Commerce and I work with our church Boy Scout Troop. One of our Scout service projects is the monthly cleaning of some 3,000 plus plaques at the local Armed Forces Park.

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?

My first membership with any military association was with NCOA [Non- Commissioned Officers Association] While I was still on active duty stationed at MCB 29 Palms, California, and MCAS El Toro, it offered me a way to give back to the community and still maintain my identity as a Marine.

I then joined The American Legion and became very active with their programs, in particular – Boys’ State, Law & Order, Scouting, Membership, and Ceremonial Team. Because of the principles and philosophy of the American Legion (at 2.5 million members with over 14,000 Posts worldwide), I have done more community service as a Legionnaire than with any other Veteran’s association membership. I was fortunate to have mentors within the Legion who were not shy about sharing their experiences and taking the time to guide the rookie.

Side point: When the Judge finished the new citizen swearing in ceremony in 1968, he then took the time to advise us, as new citizens, that we now had the obligation to give back to the community, state, and nation. Little did I realize at that time I would come to know and recite the preamble to the American Legion constitution that states in part, “to serve the community, state, and nation.”

As time passed, I added ‘support memberships’ in the MOPH, VFW, MCA, the Marine Heritage Foundation, and Vietnam Veterans in Canada. Locally, I am an active member of the Marine Corps League and the Vietnam Veterans of America. The VVA Chapter has a ceremonial team that serves as a color guard and firing team for veteran’s funerals and community events.

HOW HAS MILITARY SERVICE INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND CAREER?

You just never lose the basic premise of what it is to be a U.S Marine! I apply the Marine spirit and attitude to everything that I do. At age thirteen in Canada, I was pretty much on my own. Upon turning sixteen, I was on active duty with the Canadian Army as a “Boy Soldier” (the boys of the beardless battalion). At age twenty four, I became a Marine and never looked back. Subconsciously or consciously, if you will, I use my Marine training in all aspects of my life.

For me, “Attitude is Everything,” you have a choice when you first put your feet on the deck in the morning. You can say “Good morning, God!” or you can say “Good god, it’s morning!” That phrase will set the pace for the rest of your day! Follow this with “Adapt, Improvise and Overcome,” and you get the picture.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR THOSE THAT ARE STILL SERVING?

Learn from example and share by example. Mentoring is the key to success in the military and in later life! Find a mentor to emulate as you grow in your career, and then be a mentor to those who follow you. Never stop learning! Take all the MCI courses that relate to your MOS and then go for more. More means taking night school classes at a local community college. With a computer, you also have access to online classes. Again, never stop the learning process because it will help you with your Marine Corps career and it will definitely help you should you decide not to stay in the Corps.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU MAINTAIN A BOND WITH YOUR SERVICE AND THOSE YOU SERVED WITH?

TWS is a great website! What a service it provides to all Marines out here in cyberspace! I have been reunited with comrades going right back to boot camp, through all schools and duty stations, Vietnam and even now in my so-called “retirement” status.

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