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18
Jan

SO Stephen Fletcher U.S. Coast Guard Auxilary (2014-Present)

View the service reflections of Coast Guard Auxiliary member:

fletch1SO Stephen Fletcher

U.S. Coast Guard Auxilary

(2014-Present)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/rsbv/Fletch

If you served in any branch of the U.S. Military, join your brothers and sisters in arms at TogetherWeServed.com

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

I decided to continue to serve in the Coast Guard Auxiliary as a way to give back to my country, and help support active duty as well as Veterans. The Auxiliary has opened door and opportunities for me to serve alongside the regular active and reserve duty (the gold side counterparts to an auxiliary member). Many of the local stations are limited on their manpower, and the auxiliary fills the void. My skills and prior service as a Marine, can be utilized to help our men and women currently serving. Everything happens at the flotilla level, those are the workers, the troops in the trenches. The flotilla that I am in serves Sector Detroit, and Station Belle Isle. We hold our meetings at the Coast Guard Station, and work closely with them in various missions. Giving back to those that serve, the country, and the community.

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?

I was looking to expand on my information technology training, and my path was geared to that end. After Boot Camp I attended my MOS school (Computer Science School) at MCB Quantico, VA. I then was sent by the Marine Corps to the various RASC’s, and then ending (keeping true to a Marines basic function) at a Deployable computer based unit (5th DFASC). While at the 5th DFASC, we accomplished many “first’s” in Marine Corps history. This unit was a small 30 member T/O billeted unit, but true to the unit’s motto, we were “Good to Go”. Some amazing advances in the technology and computing world were taking place. The 5th DFASC was the first ADPE mobile center, taking the computing power of a RASC out into the field to support a MAGTF. We were the first to load onto a ship, USS Fairfax County (LST-1193), first to conduct ship-board data processing, first to deploy in a beach-head landing, first to deploy onto aircraft. There were many first’s that this unit took on and accomplished.

In the Auxiliary, I have had the chance to expand on my Marine Corps Training. Taken training and become a Operational Auxiliarist, Vessel Examiner, Program Visitor, and Information Systems. The Auxiliary allows me to support the US Coast Guard in non-traditional roles as well. The Coast Guard maintains a skills bank of members with certian skill sets. They can then draw upon these skills on an as needed basis to accomplish tasks which would otherwise overburden active duty manpower. Augmenting the station crew is another way to give your time and talents. Watchstanding or Radio Watchstanding frees up a crew member to accomplish other duties, making full use of their resources.

IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY MILITARY OPERATIONS, INCLUDING COMBAT, HUMANITARIAN AND PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.

The Marines and Coast Guard are always there in time of emergency. Humanitarian Aid is always a focus when you answer the call for help. Hurricane Diana in 1984 was one time we stepped up to the call, and assisted the people of North Carolina that suffered severe storm damages and losses. The one operation that sticks with me is the bombing(s) in Beirut. We were supporting those Marines/Navy personnel after the bombing of the US Embassy (18 April 1983). Feel free to view the online version of the Memorial that was made by the community of Jacksonville, NC. Visit the Memorial when you are at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. http://www.beirut-memorial.org/history/index.html

In the Auxiliary, we have participated in many Maritime Observation Missions, Search and Rescue, Aids to Navigation, and Air Support. Auxiliary boats and aircraft donate hundreds of hours that might not be available if only active duty did those tasks. Thousands of buoys need to have their positions verified to confirm that are on station and protecting the navigable waters.

One of the largest missions of the Auxiliary is Recreational Boating Safety. The Auxiliary promotes safety on the docks and water, gives public education on water safety, boating skills, and rules of the road. Free vessel checks are also performed to advise the boat owner of all the federal and state requirements keeping the boat owner informed and safe.

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

One of the best places I was stationed that gave me the best memories was the 5th Deployable FASC, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, NC. It was there that I was cross-trained on many different fields / MOS’s within the 40xx group, and other duties as well. We trained in garrison, and deployed to the field. We participated on various exercises (Solid Shield and CAX were favorites). The unit consisted of about 28-30 Marines total, so it was a very close, tight group, from our Major down to the last Private. There were many experiences that I had which I don’t believe would have happened if I was at a larger land based unit, that wasn’t deployable. (See news article in my profile documents). We broke ground for many Marines to follow us, as at that time our unit was new, and testing the theory. We accomplished many “firsts” in Marine Corps data processing history. First ship-board unit, first ship-board operations, first beach landing, first air-transport, among others, all for a mainframe computing environment. We even got kudos from BGEN Wineglass on being Marines in the field. CWO4 Williams can share that and other stories. We lived up to our new units motto, as we really were “Good To Go”.

On the Coast Guard side, Sector Detroit is the place to be. With missions at the Detroit River Days, to the Ford Fireworks, to Ice Patrol missions, serving here at home with the local Coast Guard just strengthens our resolve to be Semper Paratus (Always Ready).

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

The many friends that I made while attached to the various units I served in. Additionally, many of them are here on TWS, and we have re-connected and re-visited our past memories, true to the mission of this site. The stories from all them members of TWS help create as well as document the history and traditions of which I played a small role in.

One of the most heart-wrenching experiences was the recent multi-burial of veterans. These veterans were unclaimed remains of those that passed without any next of kin or the means to provide a funeral. On September 11, 2014, thirteen veterans, located by the Missing In America Project (MIAP) made the long journey to the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, MI. Hearse after hearse pulled into the cemetery until all 13 arrived. Pallbearers made up of many volunteers from active duty Marines, Army, Air Force, and Navy. Members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary also volunteered as did members of VFWs and American Legions. 78 pallbearers carried these thirteen men to their final resting place. One family member was there to receive her brother’s flag. The other twelve were presented to Gold Star Mothers who stood in place for the family these men did not have.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER? 

The Navy Unit Commendation. This award shows not only that we did a good job, but shows the teamwork of the entire unit to earn that distinction. Additionally, I was awarded the Coast Guard Unit Commendation. The citation in part reads:

“For exceptionally meritorious service from June 24, 2009 to June 23, 2014, while providing unprecedented levels of dedicated public service and operational support to the U. S. Coast Guard’s missions. Demonstrating remarkable professionalism and boating safety expertise, the Auxiliary performed over 1.1 million vessel safety checks and marine dealer visits, delivered over 540 thousand hours of boating safety course instruction and conducted over 809 thousand hours of public outreach. Displaying superior underway and airborne operational proficiency, Auxiliarists logged over 19.8 million hours of support and patrol missions, saved over one thousand lives, assisted over 20 thousand boaters in distress and prevented the loss of more than 185 million dollars in property. The Auxiliary always answered the call, remaining in lockstep with the Coast Guard’s response to every major incident.”

Teamwork is what these two awards recognize.

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

The Navy Unit Commendation & Coast Guard Commendation. These awards show not only that we did a good job, but shows the teamwork of the entire unit to earn that distinction. While the other awards also hold great memories, these two signify the brotherhood, or as history has shown many times; “this band of brothers”, the cohesiveness of the Marine Unit.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
I would have to say that the one Marine that made the biggest impact on me was my Senior Drill Instructor, Sgt Slusser. He instilled in us recruits not only the training that we needed in those long weeks of Boot Camp, but the drive to be the best at everything we do. For that title ‘US Marine’ is a very prestigious honor to have, and it proves that we are the best!

The other individuals that stand out the most are the three officers of the small but close knit unit, 5th DFASC. These three were great leaders, and we learned a great deal from them, and I am proud to have served with all three (Maj Marsh, CWO’s Williams and Trimble).

CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?

This incident stems from my time at the 5th Deployable FASC. Most data-processing Marines, once they have completed Boot Camp and gone on to their MOS in data-processing, leave the grunt work behind. They are used to working in a building, eating at the chow hall, and shopping at the base exchange. The 5th DFASC brought back the word deployable. This was our first “deployment” and our chance to experience field life. But alas, in the field there is no head, what to do. Well, the sharp thinking minds on the data-processing Marines, took the admin’s jeep (it had a little trailer) and returned later with a port-a-john, which of course they covered and concealed with camo-netting.

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?

I followed the path I started in high school; the Information technology realm. I am currently supporting the IT infrastructure (soon to be a national realm) of a transportation business, including Main site, VPN remote sites, and hundreds of mobile data (in vehicle) terminals.

In the Auxiliary I have continues my Information Systems path, becoming the Division Staff Officer-Information Systems. This position tasks me with correctly recording submitted hours and supporting the other staff officers with Information Systems support. Data Processing in a nutshell, pulling training reports and others as needed.

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

AMVETS, American Legion, American Cold War Vet Assoc, Marine Corps Vet Assoc, Marine Corps League, NCO Association, NAUS, VFW. I also serve in the USCG Auxiliary. Being an auxiliarist has allowed me to re-connect with my military memories, as well as re-establish those connections that I had while serving in the USMC. Back in uniform, and giving of my time and talents to support the US Coast Guard’s mission. Boating Safety is the primary mission of the Auxiliary, and we augment the USCG in other areas. As I expand my career in the Auxiliary in areas of Vessel Examinations, Program Visitors, and Auxiliary Operations (including USCG Watch Standing) with Boat and Air Stations, I will continue to focus on giving back.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

Military life has given me a sense of discipline and responsibility. Bearing, as they teach you in boot camp, is how you carry yourself. The leadership traits you learn can all be applied throughout your life, and will serve you well into your future years, whatever the situation is.

The skill set is useful in maintaining good work ethics. Leadership is key in almost all businesses, and those experiences in the USMC and USCG have developed and honed those skills.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE COAST GUARD?

Keep the faith. Be true to yourself and your service branch, do your best at all times. As a Marine I still uphold the Marine motto ‘Semper Fi’. Know that we all veterans and civilians alike, support the things that you do that ensure the preservation of our freedoms. Thank You for your service !!

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

TWS has let me re-connect with many of the Marines (and other branch service members). It is all about keeping those connections, and developing new ones along the way. The camaraderie that one develops while serving in any of the armed forces runs deep in the soul of that person.

TWS, regardless of the branch, allows that brotherhood that we had in time of service to rise up and flourish again. I have been able to make remembrance profiles for some of my family members (my father and grandfather) who served in WWI and WWII. Having a place that my family can share information and service history of our relatives is a great way to honor their contributions to the freedoms that I enjoy. Additionally, I have the honor of adopting a fallen member(s) profile from the current era, and can ensure that his sacrifice to this nation is not forgotten. From the stories and knowledge that the veterans have for the newer service personnel, to the lively banter in the forums, TWS allows the history to be both cherished and passed along.

15
Jan

Battle Chronicles:The Battle of Saratoga

s1The road to the American Revolutionary War – or War of Independence – began in the wake of the French and Indian War (1754 – 1763) when the government of King George III of Great Britain decided that the American colonies should share in the costs associated with the war by adding taxes to common goods, such as sugar, molasses and tea.

These attempts were met with increasingly stiff resistance. American colonists claimed they were unconstitutional, suggesting that they deserved to have representation in the British Parliament if they were to shoulder some of the war costs. Taking a harsh response, the British instead used their military to allow their representatives to safely perform their tax collection and other duties.

s2At the time, the loyalties among the colonists were divided. Historians estimate that one-third of colonists supported the American Revolution, one-third sided with the British and one-third remained neutral about breaking away from British rule.

It was the passage of the Tea Tax in 1773 that resulted in the first revolutionary act; Boston colonists masquerading as Native Americans boarded merchant ships and tossed their cargo and tea overboard. In response, the British Parliament passed a series of punitive laws in 1774 which the American Patriots named ‘Intolerable Acts,’ closed Boston Harbor and sent in troops to occupy Boston. The Patriots responded by setting up a shadow government that took control of the province outside of Boston. Twelve other colonies supported Massachusetts, forming a Continental Congress to coordinate their resistance, and set up committees and conventions which effectively seized power from the royal governments. Most Colonialists were uncertain what was going to happen next.

s3In April 1775, fighting broke out between Massachusetts militia units and British regulars at Lexington and Concord and by the following summer, the rebels were waging a full-scale war for their independence that lasted eight years from 1775 to 1783.

The Continental Congress appointed General George Washington to take charge of militia units besieging British forces in Boston, forcing them to evacuate the city in March 1776. Congress then created the first ever Continental Army and placed Washington in command. He was also giving responsibility of coordinating state militia units.

s4In mid-June 1776, a five-man committee including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin was tasked with drafting a formal statement of the colonies’ intentions. The Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence – written largely by Jefferson – in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776; a date now celebrated as the birth of American independence. Later that month, the Continental Congress formally declared independence from British rule.

Following these actions support for the Revolutionist grew to about 40 to 45 percent of the colonial population. About 15 to 20 percent of the population still supported the British Crown, however. Known as Loyalists, s6they fielded perhaps 50,000 men during the war years in support of the British Empire.

To strengthen their forces, the British hired about 30,000 German mercenaries, popularly known in the colonies as “Hessians.” They made up about one-third of the British troop strength in North America. By 1779, the number of British and German troops stationed in North America was over 60,000.

Since native lands were threatened by expanding American settlement, most Native Americans also joined the fight against the United States. An estimated 13,000 warriors fought on the British side.

By June 1776, with the Revolutionary War in full swing, a growing majority of the colonists had come to favor independence from Britain. It was during that same month that the British government – determined to crush the rebellion – sent a large fleet, along with more than 34,000 troops to New York.

s7In the cities the British had an advantage due to its naval superiority to capture and occupy coastal cities. In August, 1776, this enabled Gen. William Howe’s Redcoats to rout the Continental Army on Long Island, forcing Gen. George Washington to evacuate his troops from New York City by September. Pushed across the Delaware River, Washington fought back with a surprise attack in Trenton, New Jersey, on December 26, 1776, and won another victory at Princeton to revive the rebels’ flagging hopes before making winter quarters at Morristown.

In a plan to change the fortunes of war, the British attempted to strategically control Upstate New York and isolate New England from the Southern colonies in an effort to decisively put an end to the Revolution. s8The British strategy involved three main prongs of attack aimed at separating the Revolutionists from New England where they enjoyed their greatest support by taking control of New York City, Albany, and the Hudson River. First, British Gen. John Burgoyne would lead 8,000 troops from Canada. Barry St. Leger would direct his troops east from Lake Ontario along the Mohawk River valley, and Gen. Howe would move his troops north from New York City, where all three would meet at Albany to destroy the Rebel armies caught in the middle.

In June Burgoyne moved south from Canada, boated up Lake Champlain to middle New York then marched over the divide and down the Hudson Valley to Saratoga, some 188 miles distance. On the way, Burgoyne’s men dealt a devastating loss to the Americans in July 1777 by retaking Fort Ticonderoga.

s9However, what Burgoyne didn’t know was Howe’s decision not to move north to Albany but rather to takes his forces southward from New York to confront Washington’s army near the Chesapeake Bay.

Howe was successfully in defeating the Americans at Brandywine Creek, Pennsylvania, on September 11, 1777 and entered the Patriot capital of Philadelphia on September 25. Although he succeeded in capturing the city and forcing Congress to flee to York, Pennsylvania, he decided to camp his army in the capital for the winter, rather than proceeding with the plan of joining forces with Burgoyne and St. Leger at Albany.

Still unaware of Howe’s change in plans, Burgoyne continued driving south to Albany, NY along the historic water route of Lake Champlain, Lake s10.jpgGeorge and the Hudson River. But in the forests near the Lake George area Burgoyne’s advance south faltered from Colonist troops chopping trees and blocking Burgoyne’s path, slowing the British considerably.

By the time Burgoyne reached Fort Edward, supplies were running low so he sent a detachment to capture an American supply base at Bennington, Vermont. The detachment was attacked and defeated by John Stark and the Green Mountain Boys, costing Burgoyne a thousand men.

It was right around this time that another problem arose.

On the morning of July 27, 1777, a loyalists by the name of Miss Janes McCrea visited a friend, Sarah McNeil, who was preparing to leave Fort Edward for safety. About noon the two women were captured by some Natives11American scouts whom Burgoyne had employed as an advance force. McNeil was delivered safely to British hands, but McCrea was later discovered dead, several bullet wounds in her body and scalped. The culprits took the scalp back to Burgoyne. The murder and scalping sent a shock of horror through the colonies; it was even felt in England, where in the House of Commons Edmund Burke denounced the use of “Indian” allies.

In America the deed galvanized patriotic sentiment, swung waverers against the British, and encouraged a tide of enlistments that helped end Burgoyne’s invasion.

Read more »

13
Jan

Cpl Mel Brooks US Army (Served 1944-1946)

View the Military Service of Comic, Writer, Actor, Producer, Director:

mel brooksCpl Mel Brooks

US Army

(Served 1944-1946)
Shadow Box: http://army.togetherweserved.com/profile/336110

Short Bio: Singlehandedly won World War II! Okay, that not true, but lots of our boys in uniform might not have made it home without Brooks’s help. At 17, young Melvin Kaminsky joined the Army Corps of Engineers and was assigned to the 1104th Engineer Combat Group — just in time to be shipped over for the Battle of the Bulge. His unit fought through Europe, building bridges, destroying pillboxes, and occasionally fought as infantry. Brooks, née Kominsky, had the duty of defusing landmines in front of the advancing army.

11
Jan

Maj Leon T. Meek U.S. Air Force (Ret) (1969-1990)

Read the service story of US Airman:

meekMaj Leon T. Meek

U.S. Air Force (Ret)

(1969-1990)

Shadow Box: http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/rsbv/Leon.Meek

If you served in any branch of the U.S. Military, join your brothers and sisters in arms at TogetherWeServed.com

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

My older brother was in the Air Force and I always looked to him. In 1969 Maj Leon T. MeekVietnam was still going on and I had left college. I knew I would soon be drafted. I tried joining the Coast Guard, but they had a 2 year waiting list. I then  tried the Navy, but they had a 9 month waiting list. I next tried the Army because I wanted to be a Military Policeman. They said I was too short, but wanted me to sign up as a Helicopter Door Gunner. That did not appeal to me. I next tried the Air Force and after a struggle with the Recruiter, I was able to enlist. My original AFSC was a Fire Fighter, which I didn’t know until later. I wanted to be is some form of police work or law enforcement. After about a week in basic, my brother, who was a Drill Instructor at the time, knowing my desire, came and got me out of my barracks, took me to personnel and my AFSC was changed to Security Police. Many years later my brother told me “Rocky, they were going to make you a fireman.” I said, “Well I didn’t want to be a glorified truck washer.”

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?

I remained on active duty for 6 years, 9 months, and 7 days. At that time I held the rank of E-5/SSgt. During those years I transferred several times with two overseas deployments. One to Vietnam and one to Goose Bay Labrador, Canada. At the time I was stationed at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, and had been there only 10 months when I got orders again for overseas. I was tired of moving so often so I decided to get out of the service and attend college. I had gotten accepted at Ricks College (Now BYU Idaho). I didn’t want to completely end all of my military service so I went to the Air National Guard base in Cheyenne, WY. I went to the Recruiters office and asked where was the nearest Air National Guard Base in Idaho. Their response was, “Why do you want to go to Idaho. We have a full time job for you right here.” The Chief of Security Police was looking for a Security Police Supervisor to assist him in supervising and managing a full time Security Police force of 9 individuals. He interviewed me and hired me on the spot.

This was in March 1976. I explained I still had approximately 3 1/2 to go until my enlistment was completed and he said, “I’ll hold the position for you.” I was discharged from active duty on 30 June 1976 and on 1 July 1976 I enlisted in the Wyoming Air National Guard. I was a State of Wyoming employee for the next four years, but had to wear the military uniform and be a member of the Air Guard. At the end of the four years, The Chief of Security Police transferred to Adjutant Generals Office and I was hired as a Federal Technician and replaced him. A year after that I received a direct commission to Captain and was both the Commander and Chief of Security Police. In March of 1990 I retired and received a job in Gillette, Wyoming as a Deputy Sheriff.

IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY MILITARY OPERATIONS, INCLUDING COMBAT, HUMANITARIAN AND PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.

In 1970 – 1971 I served at Phu Cat Air Base, South Vietnam. My first 8 months I was assigned to the 1st Tiger Division, Republic of South Korea as an Intelligence Liaison Officer. My last four months in country, I worked in law enforcement. During my 12 month tour, I experienced 11 rocket attacks, My life was threatened by two intoxicated Korean soldiers and by some American soldiers when I had apprehended one of their members for being intoxicated and fighting with one of my subordinates. In addition, two members of our squadron were killed in Feb 1971 when the jeep they were patrolling in ran over a land mine (IED as they call it today) and killed them both.

On 29 July 81, Cheyenne experienced a destructive tornado. The Air National Guard facilities and six of our 8 aircraft were heavily damaged.

Nine other members of Security Police and myself, received the Humanitarian Award for Disaster Relief Operations. 1 Aug 1985, Cheyenne experienced a deadly flood which killed 12 and injured approximately 50 individuals. Myself and several of my subordinates were called upon to search and retrieve several flood victims and again were awarded the Humanitarian Award for Disaster Relief Operations.

On 5 March 1986, I received a Letter of Appreciation for assisting the Secret Service Team in coordinating and managing Security for then Vice President Bush when he visited Cheyenne, Wyoming.

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

Travis AFB because it was very close to my home town of Monterey California.

Kingsley Field, Oregon because it was Air Defense Command and was where I met my future wife.

Hated Goose Bay, Labrador. Too much snow and very little to do off duty.

Wyoming Air National Guard.

Served 14 years as a full time guardsmen and many outstanding subordinates who were very instrumental in our OUTSTANDING rating in Aug of 1989 during an ORI/MEI. Plus I received a commission to the officer ranks.

At Travis AFB I worked as a Security Alert Team Leader and eventually as a Complotter. My Flight Chief was TSgt Thompson. I really enjoyed working for him. Sometimes on our last day shift I would ask him if I could get off a few hours early because I would either travel to Monterey or Klamath Falls. He would express his worry and concerns asking me, “What if something happens to you before your actually suppose to be off duty?” I would always tell him he didn’t have to give the time off, but he always did.

It was also at Travis AFB that Jane Fonda showed up with other protesters. I was on duty at the time and was one of the Security Alert Team Leaders. We were patrolling the C-5 and C-141 Ramp and the commander announced on the radio that Jane Fonda was, “Giving Us The Finger!”

I was selected as an Outstanding First Term Enlistee at Travis. Wow, that suckered me in, but I figured I didn’t have anything else to do and if I got out I wouldn’t have a job. Plus they gave me a bonus, ($1,100.00) and my base of choice, which of course was Kingsley Field, Oregon.

I PCS’d from Travis AFB to Kingsley Field, Oregon in Aug 72. While stationed there, I had taken a part time job at a gas station and on day when I was working, a Volkswagen pulled up and this girl gets out and my mouth dropped. We dated for about 18 months until I got transferred to Goose Bay, Labrador in April 75. On her birthday in May’ 75 she broke up with me which really devastated me. We both went our separate ways and married other people. Her marriage failed and my two marriages failed as well. After 24 years we got back together and were married in 1998. I hated Goose Bay cause there basically was nothing to do. Especially since I worked the swing shift and when we got off there was no place to go. There was way to much snow. There was TV, but a person can only watch so much Hawkeye.

In April 75, I was transferred to Francis E. Warren AFB where I worked as Flight Control Facility Supervisor, Complotter and Assistant Flight Chief. I didn’t care for the missile field so much. I was there only 10 months when I got orders for England which would have been a two year assignment. I was tired of being moved around and I wanted to go to school, so I decided to get out of the service.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

Rocket Attacks, death threats, tornado, and flood. Receiving an OUTSTANDING in Aug 1989. Inspectors said: “Your Security Police Unit is rated Outstanding, One of the best Security Police Units we’ve observed in the last three years.” Receiving many, many, Letters of Appreciation, Commendations, and Superior Performance Ratings. Receiving a direct commission in 1981. My tour in Vietnam, I experienced 12 Rocket attacks which cause much damage and several injuries. In Feb 1971, SSgt Wissig and AIC Davis were killed when their jeep they were patrolling in ran over a land mine.

My first 8 months in country, I worked as an Intelligence Liaison Officer working with the 1st Tiger Division, Republic of South Korean Army. On two occasions, my life was threatened by two intoxicated Korean soldiers. One was upset because I didn’t recognize him, and the other because I wouldn’t let him rub my leg. Koreans are very touchy-feely. Anyway they both had .45’s and pointed it at me several times, threatening to shoot me. Luckily I was able to talk my way out of being killed. Another incident while I was working with the Koreans, was when the Qhuin Nhon ammo dump blew up. I worked in the Tactical Operation Center under ground and I was on nights. The dump was 20 miles to our south and when it blew up, you first felt the ground shake and then the loud ‘boom’. You could see and hear the explosions for the rest of that night. I also was responsible for relaying enemy contacts and ambushes. The Korean compound was also an Artillery Base with a 105 Howitzer which we called Stumpy. When it went off, it made your ears ring.

My last 4 months in-country I worked in law enforcement. Sometimes I was assigned duties as the NCOIC of the main gate. US Army troops sometimes would stop at the base for a little in-country R&R. When they arrived at the gate, they had to check their weapons. After their short stay, they would come back to the gate and retrieve their weapons before leaving the base. One incident was one of the soldiers was very intoxicated and my subordinate refused to give him his weapon. He started fighting with my subordinate and I ran over and assisted in apprehending and handcuffing him. The Army MPs who worked with me, whispered in my ear that we should let the troop go and his unit would take care of him. I agreed and we released the individual. After that, one of the MPs informed me one of the intoxicated individuals buddies had locked and loaded and pointed his weapon at me. The MP said he drew his weapon and informed the individual he didn’t want to do that. Of course I was very grateful. I had great respect for the MPs and sometime would work with them when I got off duty. Their NCOIC, Sgt Pendergraff transferred out, but before he did he gave me his NCO club card which allowed be access to the NCO Club even though I hadn’t been promoted to Sgt yet. He honored me when he said I was the only Law Enforcement Security Policeman who deserved it. I left Vietnam at the end of July assigned to Travis AFB.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER?

My direct commission from MSgt to Captain in Aug 1981. Air Force Commendation Medal for the period of 1 Aug 72 – 1 Feb 74: Sgt Leon T. Meek distinguished himself by Meritorious service as Security Force Communicator/Plotter, Security Alert Team Leader, and Munitions Storage Area Supervisor while assigned to the 827th Air Defense Group, Kingsley Field, Oregon, from 1 Aug 1972 to 1 February 1974. During this period, Sergeant Meek’s outstanding professional skill, knowledge and leadership aided immeasurably in identifying problem areas in the security police division and in developing and implementing the corrective actions capable of solving these problems. The distinctive accomplishments of Sergeant Meek reflects credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

The Meritorious Service Medal for the period of 8 Aug 1981 – 30 September 1989: Major Leon T. Meek distinguished himself in the performance of outstanding service to the United States while assigned to the 153d Security Police Flight, Wyoming Air National Guard, Cheyenne, Wyoming, from 8 August 1981 to 30 September 1989. During this period, Major Meek’s unsurpassed leadership qualities enabled him to direct and reorganize is unit’s mobility requirements, resulting in a decrease in unit equipment losses and man-hours for inventory. The result also created a quantum leap in the storage, maintenance, and operational readiness for all unit equipment. His analytical ability to solve problems and adeptness to priority setting resulted in the establishment and implementation of outstanding programs. Major Meek’s ability to make full and effective decisions and use of resources are outstanding and inspirational to security personnel. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Major Meek reflect great credit upon himself, the Air National Guard, and the United States Air Force.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

My brother, SMSgt Lyle E. Meek. He taught me a lot during my time in the military and chewed me out when I really needed it.

One incident I was stationed at Kingsley Field, Oregon and he was home on leave. I came to my mother’s house, in uniform preparing to go to work. I made the mistake of complaining about my supervisor and a few other things. My brother had been a Drill Instructor at Lack
land and he jumped down my throat, chewing me out, up one side and down the other. He didn’t hold anything back. As he was chewing me out for complaining, he would poke his finger in my chest, hard. Basically he told me to stop complaining and learn the jobs of those above me, because they had more responsibilities than I could imagine. Best chewing out I ever had. Oh by the way. he wouldn’t hesitate to chew me out when I was an officer either.

CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?

My first night in Vietnam. I was awakened by gunfire which was normal as the Security Police routinely set off flares, mortars and gun fire around the base perimeter which was called a” free fire zone.” At the time I didn’t know that nor did any one tell me to expect it. I was a little scared and nervous, but no one came and got us so I went back to bed figuring they would come and get me if they needed me.

The Cheyenne Tornado. I had just pulled into the parking lot and was going to the hanger when everyone outside yelled at me about the tornado. Initially I didn’t believe anyone until I looked behind me and saw what looked like a dust devil and power lines exploding. I ran into the hanger for cover. When the tornado had passed, I went outside and it looked like we had been bombed. Cars, planes, and debris everywhere. We lost six of our eight aircraft.

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?

I retired from the military on 4 March 1990. May 1990 I was hired as a Deputy Sheriff for Campbell County, Gillette, Wyoming. I retired from that on 8 Jan 2010. I went back to work for the Sheriff’s Department for approximately 9 months as a Main Control Clerk until I turned 62.

In Oct 2011, I worked part time as a Police Officer for the Gillette Community College until June 2013 at which time I retired and moved to Klamath Falls, Oregon.

In April 1992 I was involved in a shooting. A suspect was very intoxicated and had beaten his wife and was looking for her with a gun. My Sgt, Cpl, and I arrived and eventually confronted the individual who pulled a gun and shot my Sergeant in the upper left chest. Myself and my Corporal returned fire, killing the suspect. I was told later by investigators it was good I had fired because we had saved our Sergeants life as the suspect had half cocked his revolver to fire a second shot.

Presently I’m retired living in Kingsley Field base housing, in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

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

Vietnam Security Police Association is basically the only one along with TWS. No benefits from this except for connecting with other veterans and looking for old buddies. I’ve thought about others like the American Legion or the VFW, but I really don’t like large crowds or noise. I also don’t like a smoky room and I don’t drink alcohol. I suffer from PTSD so I pretty much am a recluse. I was a member of some Motorcycle Clubs, ie., “Vietnam Vets” and “Brothers Vietnam”. I left the “Vietnam Vets Club” because of some drug use and outlaw clubs they were hanging around with. I did remain with Brothers Vietnam until I moved and had to sell my motorcycle. I really enjoyed these guys as we were just a bunch of Vietnam Vets who wanted to hang out together and ride motorcycles. We were not trying to prove anything. Every Sunday in Cheyenne, Wyoming we’d all go to a truck stop for breakfast where we’d laugh and enjoy each others company and the truck stop were always ready for us when we got there.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?
After Basic Training

It gave me direction, discipline and self pride. It taught me many things about attitude and leadership.

Back when I was young there was the draft and a lot of people were trying to avoid the draft. Many young people had no discipline or respect and had no thought of the future. In some ways I was the same. However, like the lyrics of the Charlie Daniels song “Still In Saigon” I was brought up differently, I couldn’t break the rules. Plus my father was retired Army and my brother was serving. I didn’t want to get drafted so I enlisted in the Air Force.

As I said it taught me discipline, self pride and gave me a direction of where to take my life.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE AIR FORCE?

Cooperate and graduate. You joined, now honor yourself, your family, and country and honorably serve. It’s all what you make of it. You can sit around a sulk because you didn’t get the career you wanted or you can make the best of it and do the job you were given. Many time during my career I heard people complain they didn’t get the position they wanted or were promised. I was told by my father and then my brother to read the fine print, “And other duties assigned.” I wanted law enforcement, but got security police. When I was stationed at Kingsley Field Oregon, I requested again to cross train into Law Enforcement, but was denied. Made the best of it and eventually got a commission and became the Commander of both Security Police and Law Enforcement. If your going to volunteer for the military you must understand there are no guarantees. The needs of the military come first.

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

Just thinking of the past from when I graduated from high school, attending college, enlisting in the military, my tour of duty in Vietnam, and the rest of my military career and other places I was stationed. Thinking of dates, times, and looking through old photos. It would be great to find an old friend I served with or have them find me. It would really be great to be remembered and get in touch with someone and talk about the past.

.

8
Jan

Civil War’s Most Productive Spy

Espionage was big business during the American Civil War. Both sides had thousands of spies including hundreds of women. Many of the spy rings were lc1ocated in each of the capital cities, Washington D. C. and Richmond, sending valuable information back to their respective governments, and each side had a number of independent spies working for them. Some of these independent spies were under contract, but others did their dangerous work out of love for their country.

To be sure, it was a very dangerous business and inevitable, some were caught and often the penalty was hanging. Others were placed in prison or released. Of all these thousands of spies, there was one who many Civil War historian considered the most productive espionage agents of the entire war. Her name was Mary Bowser, a freed black slave working in the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Mary Elizabeth Bowser was born in Richmond, Virginia, as a slave to John Van Lew, a wealthy merchant. When he died in 1843, his wife, son and daughter Elizabeth freed his slaves. They also bought everyone in the slave’s family in order to set them free as well. Although a free woman, Mary stayed on as a servant in the Van Lew household until the late 1850s.

c2During those years, Miss Elizabeth Van Lew, a well-known member of Richmond, Virginia, society continued to live with her widowed mother in a three-story mansion in the Confederate capital. Educated in the North, Van Lew took pride in her Richmond roots, but she fervently opposed slavery and secession, became increasingly aware that Mary had exceptional intelligence. Being a staunch abolitionist and Quaker, she sent Mary to the Quaker School for Negroes in Philadelphia to be educated.

Mary returned from Philadelphia after graduating so that she could marry Wilson Bowser, a free black man. The ceremony was held on April 16, 1861, just four days after c3Confederate troops opened fire on Fort Sumter, thereby initiating the Civil War. Even though it was a marriage between two former slaves, most of the wedding party and parishioners of the church were white. The couple lived on the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia. There is no record of any children. Even after her marriage, Mary stayed in close contact with the Van Lew family and often conversations would be about intellectual and political views.

Despite her abolitionist sentiments and her close ties to the Union, Miss Van Lew was a prominent figure in the Richmond political scene which made her key in the establishment of a spy system in the Confederate capital. Van Lew would use a guise which was always distracted and muttered when she spoke in order for people to think she was unbalanced and therefore not someone to take seriously. She was given the nickname “Crazy Bet.” She would regularly visit the Libby Prison with food and medicine, and helped escapees of all kinds, hiding them in a secret room in her mansion. However her biggest accomplishment in espionage was utilizing Mary Elizabeth Bowser in one of the c4greatest feats of espionage in the Civil War.

Because of Bowser’s intelligence and photographic memory, Van Lew decided to make Bowser a spy to infiltrate the confederacy. In order to get access to top-secret information, Bowser became “Ellen Bond,” a slow-thinking, but able, servant. Van Lew was able to have her work at functions held by Varina Davis, the wife of the Confederate President, Jefferson Davis. Bowser was eventually hired full-time and worked in the Davis household until just before the end of the war. She worked as a servant, cleaning and serving meals and since slaves were trained to seem invisible, she was able to c5get incredible amounts of information simply by doing her work. The assumption was that slaves could not read or write, nor understand the complex political conversations being held. However, due to Bowser’s education and keen perception, she was able to read and remember any papers that were left around in Jefferson Davis’ study and report the information back to Van Lew all that was going on in Davis’ house.

Jefferson Davis had become aware that there was a leak in his house, but for a while he did not realize it was Bowser. Soon suspicion fell on Bowser. She chose to flee in January 1865, but she did not go quietly. Her last act as a spy was an unsuccessful attempt to burn down the Confederate White House.

c6As with most Union spies who served in Richmond during the war, all records of Mary’s work were destroyed by the War Department to protect her from the retaliation she would have faced if the extent of her service were uncovered. Because of this, very little specific information is known about her activities during the war aside that a significant amount made its way to General Ulysses S. Grant and influenced his decisions from 1863-1864.

After the war ended, Mary Bowser spent time serving as a teacher for freed slaves, and gave at least one speech in which she told the story of her time as a spy in the Confederate White House. For the speech, given in the fall of 1865 in New York, she used the name, “Richmonia Richards.” Later, in 1867, she had a chance meeting with Harriet Beecher Stowe in Georgia, and told her story again. At that time, she was teaching under the name Mary J. R. Richards.

c7After 1867, no one seems to know what happened to her. She seems to have effectively disappeared like a good spy would…
However, there is no doubt she served exceptionally well in an exceedingly dangerous position. In 1995, the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, honored her effort with these words:

“Ms. Bowser succeeded in a highly dangerous mission to the great benefit of the Union effort. She was one of the highest placed and most productive espionage agents of the Civil War. Her information greatly enhanced the Union’s conduct of the war. Jefferson Davis never discovered the leak in his household staff, although he knew the Union somehow kept discovering Confederate plans.”

6
Jan

FltOff Gene Autry US Army Air Corps (1942-1946)

View the military service of singer:

autryFltOff Gene Autry US Army Air Corps (Served 1942-1946)
http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/profile/101743

Short Bio: Known as the “Singing Cowboy,” Gene Autry, in World War II Autry enlisted in the United States Army in 1942 and became a Tech. Sergeant in the United States Army Air Corps. Holding a private pilot’s license, he was determined to become an aviator and earned his service pilot rating on 21 June 1944, serving as a C-109 transport pilot with the rank of Filght Officer. Assigned to a unit of the Air Transport Command.

4
Jan

1stLt Donald L Stover U.S. Marine Corps (1965-1970)

View the service reflections of US Marine:

stover1stLt Donald L Stover

U.S. Marine Corps

(1965-1970)

Shadow Box: http://marines.togetherweserved.com/rsbv/Donald.Stover

If you served, join your brothers and sisters at TogetherWeServed.com
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MARINE CORPS?

My Great Uncle Cat was a WWII Marine and made the landing on Iwo Jima. My Dad was in the Navy during WWII. He was on the Light Cruiser USS Miami and was shelling Iwo when Uncle Cat went in. I also had two uncles that were Marines. Jim was in Korea in 1953 and Jerry went in the Corps five years before me. He is only four and a half years older than me and more like an older brother.

The Marine Corps was always in my life. Here I am wearing a Marine Corps sweatshirt at the tender age of five. I just always knew I would join the Marine Corps.

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

When I enlisted in May 1965, I scored very high on the entrance tests. My recruiter was very happy about that and asked me if I would like to be a pilot. Now what teenage boy would not want to be a pilot so he filled out the paperwork requesting I be considered for the Marine Aviation Cadet program?

I promptly forgot about that until about the second week of boot camp at Parris Island when the Senior DI called me front and center. As we all know that is not a good thing. The word had come down for me to report to a building to take a two year collage equivalency test. That’s when the senior DI found out I had applied to become a pilot. A week or so later I was again called front and center to go over to NAS Charleston to take a flight physical. More attention I did not need.

I graduated from Boot Camp and was sent to Camp Lejeune for ITR. I completed that in due course and was then sent to casual company to await my MARCAD (Marine Cadet) application to be processed. I got the word in December 1965 that I had been accepted. I went home on leave and reported to NAS Pensacola Jan. 1, 1966 for pre-flight. After Boot Camp pre-flight was a piece of cake.

I graduated from pre-flight and went to Saufley Field for initial flight training in the T-34. I soloed there and went on to NAS Whiting Field for training in the bigger T-28. This was when things got very hard.

The Vietnam war was heating up and the Corps was very short of pilots. The Navy shortened the program by cutting a number of things in the training but the Marine Corps shortened the time by about two more months without cutting anything else from the program. I was falling way behind in ground school when I made a stupid mistake while flying. I went before a Marine Major who laughed about the mistake and said he would put me back on flight status but then hit me with the big HOWEVER. He pointed out I would be back in front of him in a couple weeks if I did not bring my ground school grades up. (That two year college equivalency test must have been rigged. I was a High School graduate competing with college graduates.) The major asked me if I could bring the grades up because if I could not I would wash out academically. If I washed out because of a flight down I could apply for OCS and most likely would be accepted. If I washed out academically I would not be able to apply for OCS. He said I could take some time to decided what I wanted to do. I took two seconds and decided to apply for OCS. The next day I was back to being a Lance Cpl. attached to the Marine Aviation Detachment at NAS Pensacola. I spent six or seven months working in the office and doing cross country prisoner chasing until I got word I had been accepted for OCS.

I reported to OCS class 44 in March 1967. I was in my winter greens when I reported in. I was the first warm body to arrive and the Sgt. DI told me to drop and give him 100 pushups. I was in the position pumping out pushups before he got the full sentence out. After about 30 or so pushups he told me to knock it off and go change into utilities and organize a field day of the barracks as the new civilian college boys reported. OCS was very hard physically as well as mentally. Fortunately there were fourteen of us that were enlisted before reporting in so we had a leg up over the college boys.

I graduated in June 1967 and was a newly commissioned 2nd Lt. and reported to the Officers Basic School (TBS) Class 6/67. There were 498 officers in this class. We all knew where we were going after graduation so we paid very close attention in classes. We graduated in November 1967 and most of the men were sent on leave and then to Vietnam as Platoon Commanders. I was one of those sent to another school. I reported in to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for Field Artillery School. I graduated the beginning of March and was immediately sent to Vietnam.

A small bit of history regarding TBS Class 6/67. We had the highest percentage of casualties of any Basic School class since Korea. We had a total of forty four good men from TBS Class 6/67 killed in action (KIA). The first KIA was 2nd Lt. Michael P. Ruane on December 18,1967 after being in country only nine days. The last one was Lt. Col. William R. Higgins on July 6, 1990. He was attached to the UN Peacekeeping force in Beirut when he was captured by terrorists and eventually executed. The Navy named a ship after him. DD76 USS Higgins was launched in April 1999.

There were numerous Silver and Bronze Star Medals as well as other medals for valor earned by members of class 6/67. On February 16, 1968, 2nd Lt Terrence Graves was killed near Khe Sanh. He was posthumously awarded the Medal Of Honor. I am honored and humbled to have been associated with such great men.

I arrived in Vietnam in early March 1968 and managed to get through my tour without too many scary stories. I rotated back to the states in April 1969 and was assigned as the Base Training Facilities OIC.

Because of the draw down of Marines in Vietnam, the Corps was downsizing back to pre-war size. Since I did not have any college at all and was in fact prior enlisted I got caught in the reduction in force (RIF). I wanted to stay in but that was not to be. On 1 June 1970 I left active duty.

I would go on to spend a year in the reserves in Columbus, Ohio but again because of the lack of college I was passed over for Capt. and had to become a full fledged civilian. I was told I could go over to the Army Reserves and they would take me. After being a Marine that just was not going to happen. I did not know it at the time but I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and did not always make good decisions. I was pretty angry at the time.

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 did participate in numerous combat operations in Vietnam. Three of them were very significant.

The first one was in April 1968. As the Artillery Forward Observer (FO), I went on a platoon sized patrol. We had been being harassed by a couple of NVA soldiers for about ten days and went out to see if we could find them. We had a very new 2nd Lt. as the platoon commander and I was along to make sure he performed okay. That was funny to me because I had only been in country about six or seven weeks. It is a good thing I was along. We flushed out two NVA and our guys gave chase. The 2nd Lt. was yelling for his men to capture the NVA at the same time the Platoon Sgt. and I were trying to get the men to slow down. It sure looked like a set up for an ambush. We got everyone to slow down and moved on slowly. We stopped at the edge of a dry rice paddy with a tree line on the other side. That would be where the ambush would be.

We sent a squad over and as the last man disappeared in the bushes all hell broke loose. We had stumbled into a large bunker system. When we got the squad back it was missing two men. I questioned the squad leader and he told me their point man was killed in the first volley of fire. The second man in line went to help him and was also killed. The third and fourth men in line were wounded. The squad leader moved up and verified the two men were dead and wisely got his men out of there. They were already under manned and only had nine men including the machine gunner who was laying down intense fire to cover the withdrawal. The squad leader had also been wounded so that left three able bodied men to help three wounded across the rice paddy while the machine gunner was doing his thing. I met them halfway and helped get everyone back to our lines.

When the new 2nd Lt. found out that the squad had left the two dead guys behind he went off the deep end. I knew this squad leader and he said he was absolutely sure they were dead. It was then I realized that idiot 2nd Lt. was yelling for everyone to get on line because we’re going to assault those bunkers and get our dead back. The troops knew that just was not a good idea and were looking at the Platoon Sgt. with lots of questions in their eyes. Sgt. Sam and I exchange looks and he grabbed one arm and I grabbed the other arm of the still raving Lt. and pulled him behind an abandoned hut. I took the lead and slammed him into the wall to get his attention. When he finally stopped yelling, I told him we were not going to get on line and make an assault. What we were going to do is set in place and call the company commander for help. He tried to argue with me when I told him if he did not stop acting like a fool and calling for help, I was going to relieve him. He looked at me and then Sgt. Sam who shook his head yes and finally got control of himself. He did turn out to be a fine platoon commander after this incident.

To make a long story short the company arrived and after several failed assaults over a twenty four hour period we were ordered to withdraw. The two dead marines were finally recovered several days later. It was learned that a reinforced NVA company was dug in there. They were staging for an offensive move against Dong Ha and Quang Tri. The NVA had pulled out by the time the unit got there to recover the bodies. The NVA apparently moved back north of the Qua Viet River. A week or so later the battle of Dia Do began.

The next battle I was in was in May 1968. Our company was moved to the north bank of the Cua Viet River and we engaged the NVA units that had been fighting in Dia Do. We fought them for ten days straight. We were within range of the NVA artillery in the DMZ and got shot up badly by them. We had pushed the NVA north to a road that ran east and west about a kilometer or two south of the DMZ when we got the word to disengage and get out of there fast. We were only a Battalion and the rest of the NVA Division was coming across the DMZ. We managed to do that but it was the end of May and we did not realize it at the time but we would be coming back. We had lost so many men that we were pulled out of the field back to Quang Tri for a twenty-four hour break. We were fed steak and eggs got hot showers clean jungle utilities and our weapons looked at by the armorers. That was the first hot chow I had eaten since arriving in Vietnam.

On 5 July we started back to engage that NVA Division. This time we were a reinforced regiment with tanks. We moved forward with no contact until we got to that road that ran east and west. The NVA were right where we had left them. This time we only fought for seven days and were at the southern edge of the DMZ when we were ordered to withdraw. That would be the last major engagement I would be involved with.

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

I would have to say that my time in the field with A/1/3 was the most memorable. That was what I had trained for and I was surrounded by absolutely magnificent men. During that time I laughed and cried and was scared to death with those men. Nothing before or since can compare.

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

I received the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal with V device. It was a downgrade from a Bronze Star but that does not matter. I was just doing what I had been trained to do.

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICE YOU RECEIVED, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE ONE(S) MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

The Combat Action Ribbon without a doubt. That one means I was there when the shooting was being done.

CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?

Just after I joined A/1/3 as their FO, the company was ordered to a new location. We were going cross country and at one point the company commander called me over. He had Lt. Bruce Lewy, platoon commander of the first platoon, there and we were checking the map to make sure we were where the Capt. thought we were. Now one map with three guys looking at it with three radiomen nearby is just shouting at the NVA to shoot at us. I was eating one of the chocolate candy bars that came in the C-rations. They tasted awful but I am a chocoholic and was eating it any way. Sure enough, there were a couple of NVA on the other side of the small stream where we were stopped and they opened up with their AK47’s on full auto.

I have to stop here and tell you about the skipper and Bruce. The skipper was six feet tall and well muscled. He was small next to Bruce who is six foot six and wears size 15 boots. He’s BIG. I was six feet at the time and weighed about 190 pounds. Well when the shooting started we dove for the nearest cover. Unfortunately the only cover was a skinny little bush about two feet tall with very few leaves. We were in a sandy area and there just was no other cover so there we were jostling each other trying to fit behind that damned bush that could not hide even one of us much less stopped any small arms fire. It was about then that I realized I was trying to keep that damned chocolate bar out of the sand. It immediately went flying.

Bruce’s first platoon did their immediate reaction drill and drove the NVA off. After the shooting stopped I looked around for Oz. He was out in the open laying face down in the sand and not moving. I thought he had been hit. I called over “Oz, Oz?” Nothing! Again I called “Oz” still nothing. “Damn it Oz, answer me.” I then heard a muffled “What?”. “Are you OK?” He answered “Yea.” I then asked him what the hell he was doing? His answer, “Playing dead!” He had been in country longer than me the new guy and knew that as a radio man he was a prime target and the best way to get the bad guys to not shoot at you when caught in the open was to make them think you were dead already. It worked.

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?

After getting caught in the reduction in force and being forced out of the Corps my wife and I moved back to Ohio. My Uncle Jim, who had been in the Corps during the Korean War, got me on at a company that provided uniforms, shop towels, walk off mats and other things for businesses in Ohio. I went from being responsible for three 1st Lt., two WO2’s, a 1st Sgt., approx 80 troops as well as numerous Staff NCO’s and NCO’s. There was also the GS13 that ran my training aids library and a Navy Chief and six Sailors who ran my Navy to delivering uniforms. I did not know it at the time but I was suffering from PTSD and after several months of delivering uniforms, I told them to take this job and shove it.

I was out of work for most of a year when my wife put her foot down and I went to work for Household Finance as an Asst Mgr. I worked there until sometime in 1973 when once again I told the District Manager to take this job and shove it.

I then spent seven years as the Manager of Central Ohio School of Diving. I was also the Chief Instructor. This was my favorite job other than the Marine Corps that I ever held. It was while I was working at the Dive Shop that I fell 25 to 30 feet and broke my legs.

I decided that I could sit in a collage class room as easily as sitting at home and enrolled at Ohio State University as a 29 year old freshman. I continued to work reduced hours at the dive shop until early in 1980 I ran out of money to continue school and got a job with General American Credits (GAC). It paid a lot more than the dive shop. I was a commercial Collector. Our clients dealt with other businesses and had our company collect the accounts receivable that was delinquent. All I had to do was make phone calls all day and arrange for payments. I worked for GAC for seventeen years and was a Unit Manager when that nasty PTSD raised its ugly head and once again I told my boss to take this job and shove it.

I was already in the VA system in the beginning of my treatment for PTSD. So I ended up getting very involved in treatment. The job at GAC was the last one I have had. Between the physical problems with my legs and the PTSD, diabetes and hearing loss, I was eventually diagnosed as unemployable (because of my age) and 80% service connected. I am now medically retired. It sucks.

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

I am a Life Member in Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and Third Marine Division Association. I am also a yearly member of American Legion, VFW and Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). I do not go to any of their meetings although I was a Scoutmaster for a Boy Scout troop the VFW sponsored. I did the scoutmaster thing for about thirteen years and finally had to let a younger guy take over.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

My Marine Corps training and service influences every aspect of my life. Duty, Honor and Country are not just words. I am in contact with many people I have found through TWS and we get pretty political. The one thing we all agree on is the oath we took did not have an expiration date. I even line my belt buckle up on the fly in my trousers and seam of my shirt. The belt is a Marine Corps web belt of course. I am very proud of my service in the Corps.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE MARINE CORPS?

Back when the first Gulf War started I really wanted to get back in because I was convinced I could teach those youngsters how to stay alive in combat. Then I started watching CNN. That was the beginning of my realization that they did not need any help from this old guy. Since then I have been paying very close attention to what is going on in my Marine Corps and I am happy to say that the Corps is in good hands.

SEMPER FI

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

For years I was unhappy that I could not remember the names of the guys I served with in Vietnam. Part of that was due to the PTSD and part because we went by nicknames. After joining TWS I have made contact not only with some of the guys I served with but others that were in the same units either before or after I was there. I have also meet some in the forums that have become friends. Later this year I am going to Oklahoma City and get together with My radioman from Vietnam. We have not been eye to eye since 1968. We have been in contact via email.

THANKS TWS!

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