Skip to content

Archive for

31
Mar

1stLt Tom Landry US Army Air Force (1943-1945)

View Military Selandryrvice History of Football Hall of Famer:

1stLt Tom Landry

US Army Air Force

(1943-1945)

Shadow Box: http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/profile/129426

Short Bio:Famed football coach Thomas Wade Landry starred at quarterback for Mission High School, helping his team outscore the opposition by an accumulated score of 322-0 en route to a 12-0 record in his senior year. Landry joined the U.S. Army Air Corps after one semester at the University of Texas, and flew 30 B-17 missions during World War II before earning his discharge in 1945 as a 1stLt.

30
Mar

GySgt Paul Moore, USMC Ret (1942-1963)

moore2Military Service Reflections of US Marine:

GySgt Paul Moore

US Marine Corps (Ret)

(1942-1963)

Shadow Box: http://marines.togetherweserved.com/bio/Paul.Moore
WHAT PERSUADED YOU TO JOIN THE SERVICE?

I was a Copy Boy at the Associated Press in DC on the Sunday that Pearl Harbor was attacked. I went to HQMC at 8th and I Street in Washington DC and enlisted.

The Battle of Wake Island was also a part of my motivation for enlisting. I had friends that were POWs in Japan after their gallant stand at Wake.

(ED  note– The battle of Wake Island 8-23 Dec 1941 began four hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Because of the International Date Line it was December 7, 1941 in Pearl Harbor.)

BRIEFLY, WHAT WAS YOUR CAREER PATH IN THE SERVICE?

After Boot Training at Parris Island and a subsequent transfer to Quantico, I attended the AMM School [Aviation Machinist Mate] a six month course at Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida. I then attended the [NAP] Naval Airplane Pilot Enlisted Flight Training at Dallas-Fort Worth in 1943. It was a six month, six days a week course on all the aircraft maintenance and included Morse Code for messages and ship’s blinker light. Also included was training with semaphores (flags).

At the time I was there, April 1942, we trained on the old bi-wing aircraft and included wooden spar and fabric work that dated back to the World War I era. Our training aids were real antiques that would be great museum pieces today. The Marine Corps was still equipped and operating much as it had since WWI. By that I mean $21.00 a month, marksmanship pay for Sharpshooter $3.00 a month and Expert $5.00 a month. Flight pay was an additional 50% of base pay. Only rifle was the Springfield 03, we wore canvas leggings, high top dress shoes, starched cotton Khaki and still had a live bugler giving us all the duty calls. The runway at Quantico now where HMX-1 is stationed was under construction;  Cherry Point and El Toro had not been constructed yet.

Later, I served as a crew chief on the Torpedo Bomber – TBM Avenger. Then in 1950, I served at HMX-1, Marine Helicopter Squadron One, the first Marine Corps helicopter unit and long before it became the Marine One, Presidential squadron. During my career I have served as Line Chief, Assistant Maintenance Chief, Operations Chief, and Logistics Chief in helicopter units throughout the Corps. I also attended the first Marine Sergeants Major class in 1954 at Parris Island.

DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS?

I first landed in New Hebrides Islands, Espiritu Santos for preparation for the Caroline Islands, [mid 1944] Palalua Island, Atoll Ulithi, where we bombed Yap, a bypassed Japanese Island, and patrolled the islands which included Pelilieu. I was in The Battle of Okinawa in 1945 with Marine Torpedo Bombing Squadron 232 (VMTB-232).

I was in Korea from February 1953 through March 1954. Our mission was evacuation of wounded, observation and artillery spotting, etc. As crew chief I also participated in many of those missions. I also served in Marine Observation Squadron 6 (VMO-6), 1st Marine Brigade, Tongarii Site A-9 in Korea in 1953.

In 1963 I delivered UH-34 helicopters to Danang from MAG-16 in Okinawa. Later, I was a civilian contract adviser to Vietnam Air Force Helicopter units from 1964 – 1968 at Danang, Nha Trang, Saigon and Binh Thuy in the Delta.

Also several other operations including the “Frequent Winds” evacuation of Saigon in April 1975 and a super secret trip to Oman in late 1979 for the Embassy prisoners in Iran.

DID YOU RECEIVE ANY AWARDS FOR VALOR? CAN YOU DESCRIBE HOW THEY WERE EARNED?

I only have the “Combat Action Ribbon,” which I am proud to have earned for ground combat defense and an incident when the Japanese landed suicide troops at night from a twin engine bomber at Yomitan during the Battle of Okinawa.

Other than that, I have the Presidential Unit Citation and the Navy Unit Citation both of which our units earned.

It is sad to say, but unit records during WW II were poor or nonexistent from units. In those days, the unit diary was daily hand scribed and mailed to CMC once each month. Mostly officers were the recipients of the personal awards.

While flying H-34 helicopters with the US Air Force Advisory Group in Vietnam 1964-1968, I received the Republic of Vietnam Air Service Medal from the Vietnamese government. I am not sure how they worded it or what it was for since it is written in Vietnamese. I know what I did during World War II, Korea & Vietnam and don’t require medals to confirm it. Many did things that would have equaled the criteria for an award. However it had to be witnessed and written up by someone.

OF THE MEDALS, AWARDS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICES YOU RECEIVED, WHAT IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

MAG-36 Plaque from all my Brother Marines while at Okinawa 14 Years 1973/1987 as Senior 53 Rep. Was on” Frequent Winds ” Operation evacuation of Saigon & Desert One Prep for “Eagle Claw” rescue of U.S. Embassy Personnel in Iran. Alao 14 “Team Spirit Exercises in Korea & exercises in Philippines & Australia. I solved several serious problems which resulted in Airframe changes etc.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?

The Battle of Okinawa! There were a couple hundred thousand dead bodies, ours, Japanese military and thousands of civilians. The smell erased any appetite one may have had for the C-Rations! We watched the Kamikaze attack on our fleet each day. We were bombed and shelled day and night on the coral air strip – Kadena. We were constantly in and out of our fox holes. You could hear the Japanese artillery fire only about three to five miles away to the South. You could count thousand one, thousand two, etc., and tell how far they were from shot to shell impact.  At night, when the Japanese bombers came over, our anti-aircraft lights would show them overhead and the heavy flack shrapnel would fall back all around us.

One night, Japanese twin engine bombers flew in a few feet off the ocean and landed wheels up with suicide troops that had satchel charges destined for our aircraft. All had sub-machine guns and firing at tents and everything. We were in mass confusion, firing at whatever moved in the dark! The KIA arrived, stacked in 6 X 6 trucks like stove wood! Our troops were buried in a trench about three or four feet deep, and were wrapped in their poncho or shelter half, one dog tag in their mouth, one nailed to the wooden cross at their head and then covered up. I had a constant dread that I might be buried in that manner far from home!

I also served in Korea in 1953 with the extreme cold and the extreme wounds of some of our evacuees. I remember the strong smell of dried blood in our helicopters! At times, I think back and remember my crash in the Vietnam jungle near a river when the tail pylon came off my CH-34C in 1966. I was certain that it was the end of my life.

How do you separate these to one memory? However, one really good memory was when I soloed in an old biplane as an eighteen year old Corporal and buzzed trains, cattle, barns and the like throughout the Texas landscape! I received fifty percent flight pay and that aircraft all to myself, just me and the wind; smile. What more could an eighteen year old red-blooded American want . . . except possibly a pretty young lady?

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

The young Corporal Drill Instructor that screamed in my face, “Feather Merchant, you will never become a Marine!” I stared back and thought, “I’ll be a better damn marine than you a-hole!” I fired high man on the old Springfield 03 Rifle and got my choice of duty as well as a few dollars added to my twenty one dollar a month pay.  He called me out at graduation and said, “When I go into combat, this is the Marine I want with me!”  Damn, that felt good!

DO YOU HAVE A PARTICULARLY FUNNY STORY FROM YOUR SERVICE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?

In 1956, while at Naval Air Technical Training Center Memphis, setting up the first helicopter course for the NATTC this episode happened. An old beer drinking friend’s antics created a story that is a classic!

Buck Yeager was the oldest Tech Sergeant in the Corp at the time. He was well known for activities that would have got most of us court-martialed. He was tolerated by most because he was also a good Marine. He was in my car pool with several other Marines. One day I was busy in the class room when the Sergeant Major called and asked for Buck to report to the Squadron Office. He had no classes that morning and I knew he was outside the gate at the VFW having a few cool ones. So, I called and informed him that the Sergeant Major wanted him at the Squadron Office. He replied “Tell him I’ll be there at 13:00 hours”. That evening, I could not find Buck when we were ready to go home. So, I went to the Squadron Office to inquire about him. The Sergeant Major told me Buck was in the brig! I asked what had happened. They had seated Buck outside the Commanding Officer’s office awaiting his appointment and detailed a young Sergeant to watch him since he had been drinking. Buck went to sleep and when the Commanding Officer opened the door, the Sergeant shook him. Buck jumped up and floored the Sergeant! The kicker was when I asked what the Commanding Officer wanted with Buck. The Colonel was going to present him his Good Conduct Medal!

I still remember the CO Col E. C. Glidden, he was a Marines Marine!! He salvaged Buck and after drying out was allowed to retire.  Buck was called back to active duty during Vietnam and was promoted to MSgt. The sad thing was that a few years back I attended the HMX-1 reunion and Buck showed up barely able to walk, dying of cancer. He had arrived by bus to Quantico from New York. We all pitched in and flew him home. Buck went to guard the gates of Heaven about 2 months later. I always treasured those days when Marines were not exactly parade ground perfect, got the job done and were tolerated by some damn good Officers.

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER THE SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?

I was flight adviser and instructor to VNAF H-34 Helicopters from 1964 through 1968, in units at Danang, Nha Trang, Saigon and Binh Thuy in the Delta. I rotated flying, two weeks each unit, for four years. I think I saw every square inch of South Vietnam. Some of it was damn unfriendly.

I spent three years with the Malaysian Air Force SH-3D helicopters and off shore operations from 1969 through 1971. Then I worked three years at NAS Alameda with a CH-53 Marine Reserve unit. Then for fourteen years, from 1973 through 1987, I was Senior Helicopter Rep, MAG-36, in Futema, Okinawa.I was in Frequent Winds, “Operation Evacuation”, in Saigon.

I also went on a top secret trip to Diego Garcia, on the carrier, USS Nimitz and Oman, on November 27th, 1979. I found out later that it was preparation of the Navy RH-53 helicopters for Desert One which took place later and ended in the crash episode in the desert.

I deployed each year, fourteen of them, for “Team Spirit” exercises in Korea. I retired at 1st MAW, Camp Butler in March 1987. Back in California, I received a call from a Dallas, Texas company that wanted me to take over an Inspect & Repair operation at Helwan, Egypt on Wessex SH-3 helicopters. I worked that project from 1991 until 1993, both in Egypt and Dallas, Texas until a law suit was presented against the company. I was then sent to Geneva, Switzerland for the International Tribunal.

I retired again and now just go to military reunions and get older day by day!

ARE YOU A MEMBER OF ANY MILITARY ASSOCIATION(S)? IF SO, WHICH ASSOCIATIONS AND WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIP(S).

I’m a member of POP A SMOKE, the USMC Combat Helicopter Association. I am a member of Marine TWS.

HOW HAS SERVING THE ARMED FORCES INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND CAREER?

It was my entire life’s work and a very satisfactory career.  I would do it all again, happily. I approached each day looking to see “What’s next”, preparing to go and I always traveled light!

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

Here’s a word to those serving today. It is a great career. Certainly the pay and benefits are now far superior to years back. I started at $21.00 a month and after 21 years my base pay as a MSgt. E-7 was $380.00 a month. Three months before I retired, the new E-8/E-9 ranks were incorporated and I was suddenly designated a “Gunnery Sergeant” E-7. Stay at least for 20 years since it is a retirement not available on the outside at such a young age. In the combat areas it would pay to study & understand your enemies.

HOW HAS TOGETHERWESERVED HELPED YOU TO MAINTAIN A BOND WITH THE SERVICE AND THOSE YOU SERVED WITH?

It is a means of staying in touch with all of the brothers with which I served and remembering those times both good and bad. It is also a reason to get up and do something each morning!

27
Mar

Join Together We Served Today!

tws poster

“With over 1.5 million members, TogetherWeServed.com has reconnected more U.S. military veterans than any other website or organization.” If you served, join our ranks today!

26
Mar

Against All Odds – Survival at Oradour-sur-Glane

Prior to D-Day, the Allies conducted a large-scale deception campaign designed to mislead the German High Command as to the location of the imminent invasion of Europe. The purpose was to make the Germans believe the invasion would occur at Pas-de-Calais rather than at Normandy. The plan worked perfectly. A large number of German divisions were moved to the port of Pas-de-Calais, including units from the Normandy region.

Caught with their pants down, the German High Command was stunned to learn on the morning of June 6, 1944, some 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces had landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the coast of France’s Normandy region. At first most high-ranking German officers clung to the notion it was a diversion and that the actual invasion would still occur at Pas-de-Calais. Slow to react, it took a few days before the German High Command realized they had been deceived and ordered divisions to Normandy in an effort to stop the Allies from advancing. One division was the 2nd SS Panzer Division (Das Reich).

Nearly 440 miles southeast near the French town of Valence the division moved north to Normandy. With French rail network nearly destroyed by strategic Allied bombing, the division was forced to move by road. Along its rush north, it came under constant harassing attacks by the French resistance (Maquis) which over several days managed to kill or wound some 40 German troops near the village of Tulle. In retribution for each German casualty, Das Reich soldiers hanged three male citizens of Tulle – 120 men in all.

By June 10 elements of Das Reich had advanced only about 190 miles when word came down that the Maquis had captured a German officer.

According to the Vichy French collaborationists the Maquis had taken SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Helmet Kampfem and was holding him in the village of Oradour-sur-Vayres.

Later that day SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Adolf Diekmann, commander of 1st Battalion, 4th SS Panzergrenadier Regiment, moved into Oradour-sur-Glane, possibly mistaken it for nearby Oradour-sur-Vayres. His aim was exacting revenge and teaching the French a lesson for supporting the French Resistance movement. They assembled all of the townspeople in the central square under the guise of having their identity papers checked. In addition to all of the local residents who were present on that day, the SS also ensnared six young people who did not live there but had the great misfortune of just having ridden through town on a bicycle trip when the Germans arrived.

The women and children were separated from the men and locked inside the village church. The men were taken to six barns where the SS had already moved machine guns into place.

The Nazis shot the men in their legs to prolong the agony. Once all the men in the barns were immobile, the structures were doused with fuel and set on fire. 190 men perished there. Six were able to escape.

25
Mar

PFC Leon Uris US Marine Corps (1942-1945)

urisView the Military Service of Author

PFC Leon Uris

US Marine Corps

(1942-1945)

Shadow Box: http://marines.togetherweserved.com/profile/20830

Short Bio: Author of “Battle Cry”, “Exodus” among others, Uris at the age of seventeen joined the United States Marine Corps. He served in the South Pacific at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and New Zealand from 1942 to 1945.

23
Mar

HM2 Donald Ballard U.S. Navy (1965-1970)

docPersonal Service Reflections of US Navy Sailor:

HM2 Donald Ballard

U.S. Navy

(1965-1970)

Shadow Box: http://navy.togetherweserved.com/bio/Don.Ballard

PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE NAVY?

My whole family has served in the Army or Navy beginning with World War I and in all our wars since then. I grew up thinking that I had an obligation to serve this great country, either in the military or in some other way. I knew that I wanted to go into the service but I wanted to be a dentist first. I started college to become a dentist then ran out of money so I looked to the military as a source of financial assistance. The thought that I would “play soldier” out in the field getting cold, dirty and looking for a soft bed to sleep in just didn’t sit very well with me so the Army was out.

Then the Navy told me that I could be a dentist after I completed some enlisted time and finished my education. It sounded okay to me and since I was married at the time I talked it over with my wife and we agreed that Navy was better than the Army for me. I thought that Navy life would be cleaner and I would be working in a hospital somewhere my wife could be with me. I really thought about making it my career as a dentist. My childhood dentist was a reservist and I remember him telling me how proud he was that he could serve our country by “taking care of the troops” as he called them. He was the one that influenced me the most to serve.

I joined the Navy in 1965 before Vietnam really got started. I had never heard of the country or our involvement in their civil war and I didn’t care since I was joining the Navy. I did not for one minute think that I would be fighting in their war.

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK.

The Navy was quick to tell me that they did not need a dentist and that they needed Corpsmen more. It was explained to me that I would be studying the whole body not just the teeth. I was told that if I decided later I could apply for a change to the dental side of the medical department. I quickly learned that the needs of the service were greater than the needs of the individual.

After Hospital Corps School I was stationed in the Naval Hospital in Memphis, TN. I worked orthopedic surgery where I learned how to clamp-off bleeding arteries and learned not to be afraid of the badly injured bodies. We treated 40 new Vietnam patients a day returning to the States. We did surgery on them and sent them to the military or VA hospital closest to their hometown. That training helped me later when I was in Vietnam.

I must have irritated someone because I was assigned to the Fleet Marine Force. I was sent to my second boot camp but this time it was all Marines yelling, pushing and generally harassing us. I thought, “What am I doing here? This is not what I joined for.” You can believe at that time I was one mad Sailor.I lived mostly in the field hating the treatment I was receiving and wishing I had joined the Army. I was later assigned to 1/6 at Camp Lejeune, NC.

My life changed when we made our first landing on an island in the middle of the Mediterranean. I was in Charlie Company and we stayed on the island for weeks living in the jungle, humping the hills and working with the French Foreign Legion who had just come back from Vietnam. I learned a lot from those guys. This shared experience created a bond between the Marines and the Corpsmen; we all lived together and put up with the same harassment and had a reasonably good time. I treated several real world casualties and the Marines started accepting us as “Marine Docs” – life changed for me.

I fell in love with those Marines and I felt sorry for them, with all they had to go through. It is difficult when you are the toughest fighting force this country has and you have to live up to it every day that you serve. In my opinion that’s not only tough, that’s Marine tough. I learned that life as a Marine was much more demanding than any other service requires. If I had to go into combat again, you can believe I would be with the Marines.

I served with Mike Co. 3/4, 3rd Marine Division in Vietnam. I knew what my job was and I tried to do the best I could. I returned home with 3 purple hearts and an attitude. I was sent back to the Navy where that same attitude got me into trouble.
The Navy was cutting back on Corpsmen and I believed that my career was going to be short. I got out and joined the Army believing that it had to be better than what I had been in. I was awaiting orders to report to Officer Basic when I was called to the White house to receive the Medal of Honor. I stayed in the Army for a short time then returned home and joined the National Guard.

In all, I spent a total of 35 years in the military: Five years in the US Navy which included two years in the FMF with the 1st Bat 6th Marines and 3rd Bat 4th Marines. I then went into the US Army got a commission and finishing finished my career in the military as a Colonel (06) in the Kansas Army National Guard.

IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN COMBAT OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE ACTIONS WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.

I participated in several combat operations but I do not remember most of the names and dates of the operations. I tried for years to forget and just block out the whole Vietnam experience.

I cannot remember any good times in Vietnam, just the terrible haunting sounds, smells and noises.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

My memories of combat were different than those of the Marines. My fears were not of dying, sometimes that would have ended my problems. My fears were that I could not save the lives of the Marines that I loved and depended on every day for my own survival. I was more worried about not having the right equipment or supplies to do my job or not having enough training to save the lives of my closest friends. I prayed at night that somehow the war would end and we all could just go home. Over time I really lost my willingness to go on. It’s extremely difficult when one of the guys that you spent your whole combat life with is killed.

I suffer from PTSD today because I could not save everyone. I was forced to make choices during a firefight on who lived and who died. I cried with the Marines that died or the guys around me that cried when others died. I wake up at night even now hearing the Marines calling for me to help them or their buddies. I treat myself by helping others get through their problems. I still love the name ‘Doc’ and I still use it today. I lived my life with a purpose that was and is to serve others; I don’t have a life that I can call my own. I will continue to serve and be a problem solver until the day I die. I owe my life to God and another corpsman named Doc’ Pickard.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Hospital Corpsman Second Class Donald E. Ballard, US Navy, Company M, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division. Place and date: Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam, May 16, 1968. Entered service at: Kansas City, Mo. Born: December 5, 1945, Kansas City, Mo.

CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life and beyond the call of duty while serving as a HM2 with Company M, in connection with operations against enemy aggressor forces. During the afternoon hours, Company M was moving to join the remainder of the 3d Battalion in Quang Tri Province. After treating and evacuating 2 heat casualties, HM2 Ballard was returning to his platoon from the evacuation landing zone when the company was ambushed by a North Vietnamese Army unit employing automatic weapons and mortars, and sustained numerous casualties. Observing a wounded Marine, HM2 Ballard unhesitatingly moved across the fire swept terrain to the injured man and swiftly rendered medical assistance to his comrade. HM2 Ballard then directed 4 Marines to carry the casualty to a position of relative safety. As the 4 men prepared to move the wounded Marine, an enemy soldier suddenly left his concealed position and, after hurling a hand grenade which landed near the casualty, commenced firing upon the small group of men.

Instantly shouting a warning to the Marines, HM2 Ballard fearlessly threw himself upon the lethal explosive device to protect his comrades from the deadly blast. When the grenade failed to detonate, he calmly arose from his dangerous position and resolutely continued his determined efforts in treating other Marine casualties. HM2 Ballard’s heroic actions and selfless concern for the welfare of his companions served to inspire all who observed him and prevented possible injury or death to his fellow Marines. His courage, daring initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of extreme personal danger, sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the US Naval Service.

IF YOU RECEIVED ANY MEDALS FOR VALOR OR AWARDS FOR SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENT, PLEASE DESCRIBE HOW THESE WERE EARNED.

The Medal of Honor.

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICE YOU RECEIVED, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE ONE(S) MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?
I would say that my uncle, a WWII Navy man who taught me all the basics, had a tremendous impact on me. He taught me about knowing right from wrong and doing the right thing even when it’s not in your best interest.

My philosophy is to be the man you most respect and treat others as you want them to treat you. In my opinion, life is a game for which we don’t make the rules.

Learning to play ‘the game’ with a win-win attitude and helping others to win so the game goes on is to me what it’s all about. I think it’s important to seek to understand others before you expect them to take the time to understand you. If you stay motivated and keep a positive mental attitude you can deal with anything.

I also give all glory to God.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
When reflecting on my service I have to remember and give special thanks to ‘Doc’ Charles Pickard, a fellow Navy Corpsman who saved my life; otherwise I would not be here today.
I also remember all those magnificent men that deserved the Medal of Honor but did not get it for one reason or another.

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?

While serving in the National Guard I also served as a Captain on the Fire Dept. I retired from both and I currently own a funeral home and cemetery.

I continue to serve military veterans and their families; I want them to receive the respect that they deserve. I continue to stand on guard duty in my cemetery and I provide discounted funerals and caskets for veteran families to keep prices low.

I am a spokesman for the National Combat Medical Memorial and Youth Education Center, for corpsmen and medics that were killed in combat saving the Marines. I’m trying to help earn money to get it built during my lifetime. I spend considerable time educating the youth of this country as I realize they are our new leaders. I want this memorial to continue to educate long after I am gone. Freedom is not free and we must remember those that paid the full price.

I am retired, but I failed at that job, so I watch over an 82-year-old, 120 acre cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas. I also manage commercial and residential rental property I own.

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

I have learned to love and respect people, men and women alike. The military gave me the education I needed to deal with life and every challenge that came my way. I learned that teamwork is the only true way to success and that by helping others get what they want you ultimately receive what you want.

I never wanted any medals, certainly not the 3 purple hearts. I wear the Medal of Honor for all of the guys that were with me, they kept me alive.

When reflecting on my service I have to remember and give special thanks to ‘Doc’ Charles Pickard, a fellow Navy Corpsman who saved my life; otherwise I would not be here today. I also remember all those magnificent men that deserved the Medal of Honor but did not get it for one reason or another.

I think it is important to understand that Medal of Honor recipients are just American Veterans that did what they thought needed to be done at that time in their lives. I was just doing my job to the best of my ability. I had a wife and 2 kids at home and I wanted to get home safe and alive like everyone else. There were days when I was afraid that I would not make it home. It was the love for the Marines that I was serving with that kept me going and the knowledge that we were all just trying to get home. It was all of us working together and supporting each other that kept us alive – there is no greater love than combat buddies.

This photo shows nine of the Medal of Honor recipients attending the inaugural 2014 Medal of Honor Bowl all-star game on Jan. 11, 2014 at the Citadel’s Johnson Hagood Stadium, Charleston, South Carolina. That is me in the front row, far right.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.

Even with the Medal of Honor I did not feel that I could deal with my PTSD. It was not until I hooked up with the guys that I served with that I began to feel better about myself. They were my treatment and they allowed me to be what I needed to be without being judgmental of my feelings or how I was or wasn’t dealing with my problems. I looked at life in a much different way after I attended my first reunion. I continue to meet with my fellow veterans and I get stronger after each reunion I attend. I encourage everyone to attend reunions. I don’t care how much they hurt at first, healing can’t start until you can live with yourself and better understand why things are like they are.

I want to personally thank all of the TWS team members for what you do for our troops. I believe that this networking resource is a very important tool that helps heal all veterans and may even prevent PTSD. We can go through life alone or as part of something bigger. We can associate with our brothers and sisters and continue to build a network to help each other or we can go it alone.

I didn’t have the opportunity to talk with any of my buddies after leaving the service, I didn’t know if they lived or died. We didn’t have this type of communication so it took years to meet up and talk about our problems. Meeting with other Veterans I learned that they felt the same way I did, and by us talking and crying together, we were able to solve or at least deal with problems better with mutual understanding of why things turned out the way they did.

I personally believe that the TWS network is very useful in finding and developing friendships and bonds that help everyone live their lives to the fullest. You will never know when or where you will need someone but by maintaining contacts among friends and combat buddies all will certainly benefit. I wish that this site would have been available to me when I needed help. Sometimes the smallest contact will reassure you when you need it the most. I totally support your efforts to maintain this web site and believe that no one will fully realize the importance of this until they need help. Bonding is very important and I believe that there is no greater love than combat buddies.
I want to help support and motivate our military personnel. I am glad that we have the most patriotic military that America has ever seen. I am quick to tell them that I had motivation to join the military in the 60’s, it was called the draft. I was not drafted but I sure didn’t want to be either, so I joined. I can tell all those who are currently serving my heart goes out to them each time they are deployed. My thoughts and prayers are with them when they are on patrol or on watch, no matter where they are. I want them to know that I’m behind them 100%, as are all true Americans.

The Vietnam vets are not going to allow the new returning vets to be treated like we were treated when we returned home. No one can ask for more, you have joined the ranks of fearless warriors that have gone before you to fight for freedom, that’s what makes America the greatest country in the world. God Bless America and God Bless our military for the freedoms we enjoy today. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

20
Mar

Into the Unknown

radio

Senior Airmen Seth Schoenfeld and Zach Burnett, both emergency managers attending Global Dragon,

attempt to identify multiple radioactive contaminants in a full-scale passenger train during a training

event on Wednesday. 

Staff Sgt. Christopher Muncy/Air National Guard

18
Mar

America’s Secret War – Operation Shining Brass

The guerrilla war was not going well for the Viet Cong in the late fifties. Badly needed supplies moving down jungle trails from North Vietnam were constantly being spotted by South Vietnamese warplanes and often destroyed. To give themselves a fighting chance, existing tribal trails through Laos and Cambodia were opened up in 1959. The North Vietnamese went to great lengths to keep this new set of interconnecting trails secret.The first North Vietnamese sent down the existing tribal trails carried no identification and used captured French weapons. But the Communists could not keep their supply route secret for very long. Within months, CIA agents and their Laotian mercenaries were watching movement from deep within the hidden jungle.

But keeping an eye on what the North Vietnamese were doing in Laos was not enough for Washington.

They wanted to put boots on the ground in a reconnaissance role to observe, first hand, the enemy logistical system known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail (the Truong Son Road to the North Vietnamese).

By late 1964 South Vietnamese recon units were inserted into Laos in ‘Operation Leaping Lena’. After a number of disastrous missions, it was determined U.S. troops were necessary and Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) was given the green light to take over the operation.

Thus was born the secret war in Laos that would eventually kill about 300 hundred Special Forces troops, with fifty-seven Missing in Action, and some fifteen known to have been captured. But the Communist never admitted to having captured any Special Forces troops.

In November the first American-led insertion was launched against target Alpha-1, a suspected truck terminus on Laotian Route 165, fifteen-miles inside Laos. A newly formed reconnaissance team selected for the initial mission was Recon Team (RT) Iowa.
Team leader was Master Sergeant Charles Petry along with Sergeant First Class Willie Card, a South Vietnamese Army Lieutenant and five Nungs (fierce fighters of Chinese decent used extensively and paid by U.S. Special Forces). They were the first U.S.-led cross-border secret operation into Laos, code-named ‘Shining Brass,’ to reconnoiter and interdict infiltration along Ho Chi Minh Trail.
The Special Forces officer supervising the mission was Capt. Larry Thorne, the subject of last month’s Dispatches article “Three Wars under Three Flags”.It was the rainy season in Vietnam and RT Iowa prowled the Special Forces camp at Kham Duc, near the Laotian border, waiting for the rain to let up and for the clouds to break. Tension during the idle days ran high, for their highly classified mission could open a new phase of the war. Finally, the rain stopped, but visibility was still poor on the Laotian border to the West where mountain peaks poked above the clouds. It was finally agreed, however, to try an infiltration despite the unfavorable flying conditions.

Hence, toward the end of the third day, October 18, 1965, two South Vietnamese operated CH-34 helicopters unmarked and sprayed with camouflage paint, lifted off and climbed above the clouds over Kham Duc and banked to the West toward a suspected truck park 15 miles inside Laos.

17
Mar

A1c Rock Hudson US Navy (1943-1946)

rock hudsonView the Military Service of Actor:

A1c Rock Hudson

US Navy

(1943-1946)

Shadow Box: http://navy.togetherweserved.com/profile/606155 

Short Bio: His immaculate good looks, suave sophistication and stunning influence captured the hearts and minds of fans everywhere. As one of the most dashing silver screen stars of the 1950s and 1960s, Rock Hudson was the epitome of Hollywood’s leading man.

16
Mar

SMSgt R. J. Hensel U.S. Air Force (Ret) (1966-2005)

buckPersonal Service Reflections of USAF Airman:

SMSgt R. J. Hensel

U.S. Air Force (Ret)

(1966-2005)

Shadow Box: http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/bio/R.Hensel

PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE AIR FORCE?

Several of my uncles and cousins were in the Army and Navy during the Korean and seeing them in uniformed influenced my decision that someday I wanted to join the Army. My enjoyment of the TV shows “Combat” and “Sea Hunt” also helped steer me at that direction.

In 1954 my mother, sister and I attended a military funeral for 1Lt. Quinlan, a local Air Force pilot that was killed in a training mission. The twenty one gun salute, bugler playing taps and F-86 missing man flyover left a lasting impression and confirmed my decision that I will someday join the Air Force.

I graduated High School in 1964 and Cape May Vocational Technical Institute in 1966 and went to work for a plastic company as a design draftsman. I wanted to be a member of the military for a long time and decided to join the New Jersey Air National Guard in September 1966.

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK.

I joined the Air Guard’s 177th Tactical Fighter Group (TFG) in September 1966. I left for basic training at Lackland AFB in October and Technical School at Chanute AFB from November to March 1967 graduating as a hydraulic systems mechanic apprentice.

In January 1968, the Spy Ship Pueblo was seized by the North Koreans and the 177th was activated. In June of 1968 the unit?s aircraft mechanics were sent to Phu Cat AB South Vietnam for a one year tour. In 1980 I decided to cross train to APG (Air Plane General) and worked phase docks as APG / Hydraulics. I became a certified Crew Chief in 1986 crewing F-106s and later F-16 aircraft. In May and June 1968 we deployed five F-16C Fighting Falcon aircraft and 46 personnel to Howard AFB, Panama in support of Operation Coronet Nighthawk, a U.S. led anti-narcotic smuggling air patrol operation. This photo of me with Roy Clark of the Hee Haw TV show was taken right after a sudden Panama rainstorm.

In 2000, I retired from my full time Technician employment and stayed in the Air Guard as a traditional guardsmen working in Maintenance Control (MOC). September 11, 2001 the World Trade Towers were attacked and I spent two years on active duty working Noble Eagle missions. I retired from N.J. Air National Guard in December 2005 at age 60 with 39 years 4 months and 1 day of military service.

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

The 177th TFG from Atlantic City and the 113th TFG from District of Columbia’s CAM Squadrons and pilots were sent to Phu Cat Vietnam in June 1968 for a one year tour. We replace regular Air Force personnel from the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron from Myrtle Beach AFB, S.C. who were sent 180 days TDY to Phu Cat shortly after the January 1968 Tet Offensive. The 355th was made up of a squadron of F-100Fs and flew most of the Misty missions in the theater. The most notable of the pilots assigned to the squadron that year was Capt. Merrill McPeak who later became Air Force Chief of Staff.

Bob Hope visited us on Christmas Day and we really appreciated the show he put on. Roosevelt Greer, Ann Margret and The Gold Diggers accompanied him and really put on a great performance.

I’ll always remember as soon as we arrived in country, they gave us a Gamma Globin (GG) injection in the butt check. It was the most painful injection I ever had. I will also remember the Malaria Pills that we were supposed to take that gave everyone the sh*#^s. Considering everything, it was not a bad duty assignment for a war zone. Many times Army and Marines would visit our club and comment how they wish they had joined the Air Force. After listening to other peoples stories, you learn to appreciate what you have taken for granted.

Photo is us guy waiting at a bus stop in Vietnam. Standing left to right are Harvey Hymer from Missouri, Paul Bridges from Massachusetts, John Carr from New Orleans, Dan Tozer from New Jersey, Gerald Morett from Iowa, myself, Ralph Barrett from Mechanicsville, Virginia with his hand on my shoulder. We were a very close group.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

I have truly enjoyed my time in the military.

It was a brotherhood for me. When we got out of Tech School and back to our unit, the older guys, many Korean Veterans, took the young ones under their wing and after work we would all meet at the All Ranks club. They watched over us and taught us the rules of drinking as an adult. Find that happy spot, maintain it without going beyond and becoming sick or foolish. They looked after us and made sure we stayed out of trouble. There final advice was, “do the same for those coming in when you get older”. Talk about having your brothers back!

There are so many funny stories I could tell about the good times on TDYs but the rule is, “What happens TDY, stays TDY”. Sorry folks, I can’t divulge those secrets even to this day.

Read more »

%d bloggers like this: