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28
Apr

A1C Fred Ward US Air Force (Served 1960-1963)

View the service history of actor:

Summer Catch Premiere

A1C Fred Ward

US Air Force

(Served 1960-1963)
View his Service Profile on TogetherWeServed.com

http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/profile/171512

Short Bio: A marvelous character actor with intense eyes, a sly grin and somewhat grizzled appearance, Fred Ward has nearly 70 appearances under his belt in many tremendous films.

26
Apr

MSgt John Ogden U.S. Air Force (Ret) (1953-1974)

ogieView the service reflections of

MSgt John Ogden

U.S. Air Force (Ret)

(1953-1974)

Shadow Box: http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/profile/114547

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

I lived my entire life in the shadow of my older brother Joe who had served in both the AAF and Navy during WWII, which I avidly followed in my young years. I remember a popular chant of youths my age after the D Day invasion. It went ” Step on the starter, step on the gas, here comes Hitler sliding on his ass”. Followed by much gleeful laughter.

Brother Joe had just completed serving in his second war as a Marine in Korea. Because of this I had followed this conflict since it’s inception and remember reading of the invasion of North Korea into South Korea in early 1950, the fall of Seoul, the surprise US landing at In’chon in late 1950, the recapture of Seoul, the headlong battles up the peninsula to the Chosin Reservoir When the Peoples Volunteer Army of China entered the conflict at the close of 1950 and completely encircled the X Corps. However the X corps fought valiantly, was able to breakout and were successfully evacuated at Hungnam Harbor on Christmas Eve the very date that Supreme Commander, General McArthur felt he would be able to have the troops back home. Unfortunately the war dragged on for another two and a half years. After several see-saw battles over the the 38th Parallel an Armistice was arranged in July 1953, An actual Peace Treaty between The North Korea, China and the United States, or the United Nations, has ever been signed. Legally, I guess you could actually say we are at war in this region until an actual Peace Treaty between the warring nations is signed.

Although we had just missed all the action in Korea, my best buddy Tom Poston and I decided to enlist. His brother was In the Navy, with mine in the Marine Corps we couldn’t settle on either of our brothers services so we compromised and joined the young US Air Force which then gained two bright and handsome young men. While attending Basic Training at Lackland AFB, TX Tom was made Squad Leader and got to wear deuce strips, while I being scrawny and 5’1″, was made right guide, marched at the head of the flight and wore three stripes. Later I learned that this dubious honor was always given to the smallest man in the flight so the whole flight would have to guide on and match the stride of all to that of the right guide. At least the stripes kept us both out of pulling KP, barracks and latrine guard. Prior to graduating, we were promoted to A/3C I was sent to Keesler AFB, MS for Basic Electronics Training at Keesler AFB and Tom left to attend Aircraft Mechanics Training at Chanute AFB, where tragically he was killed an an automobile accident while on week-end pass.

I would say that I grew up wanting to be in the military and be trained in some useful skill. I completed both during my first two years of service. After working in the field for two more years, I decided I’d found my home and re-enlisted at Hurlburt Field, FL. I have since traced my ancestry back to 1640 and found that we have had family members that have served in every war from the Revolutionary War through the current wars in the middle east conflict. Perhaps military life is in our blood. I enjoy and am proud and honored to live among Veterans from WW11 through the present here at the Trinka Davi Veterans Village.

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?

1954: I was assigned to the 3392 Instructor Sqn at Keesler AFB, MS and attended the Technical Instructor Course to enable me to teach the AC&W Radar Apprentice Repairman Course I had just completed. I taught the smaller gap filler radar, range and height finding radars and Identification Friend orFoe (IFF) Mark 10 System.

1955: I was pulled for training into Course 32170F Bomb Systems Technician consisting of the APS-23 Search Radar and APA-44 Bombing and Navigation Computer. Upon completion I was re- assigned to the 3535 A&E Maintenance Sqn at Mather AFB, CA to maintain the Bomb/Nav Systems installed on T-29 Samaritans, configured to train Bomb/NAV Officer Students. Here I received the AOM Award and was subsequently promoted to A1C.

1956: I was re-assigned to a Tac Recon Sqd at Hurlburt Field, FL to maintain the Bomb/Nav Systems installed on the RB-66 Destroyers there. I was an unhappy camper as the maintenance shop was overstaffed and there wasn’t enough work to go around. When someone came around asking for volunteers, I was first in line and wound up being re-assigned to Shaw AFB, SC for cross training into the new TRC-24 Radio Relay Equipment Repairman AFSC 30450. I maintained a TRC-24 Radio System at the Radio Relay Site at Eastover, SC. I met and married my wife Margaret on Dec. 29, 1956.

1957: I was re-assigned to the 585 C&G Sqn at Bitburg, AFB, Germany. I was deployed to Libya where we set up Radio Relay sites from Wheelus AFB, Tripoli to the Radar Guidance site at Garian. where Matador TM-61A missiles were guided to the bomb rage. Upon return, I was promoted to SSgt. My daughter Rhonda was born on Dec. 17, 1957 and shortly thereafter, I was deployed to and assigned NCOIC of of a Radio Relay site at Delmenhorst, Germany in the British Sector, and set up the site on a British Army Base.. After training my team, they improved the site operation to the extent that they were awarded Radio Relay Site of the Year. On several occasions, a black sedan on the Eastern side of the of the border would stop, men in civvies would get out, watch us through binoculars, and take pictures of the site. We felt that they also zeroed in on individual team members. Upon reporting this to our British buddies we were told not to worry as they were probably APN agents and only doing their job.

1959: I was re-assigned to a SAC unit at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ. I cross trained into AFSC 30552 VHF Mobile Radio Equipment Repairman, AFSC 30453 Ground to Air UHF Communication Equipment and 30454 Ground (Heavy) Radio Equipment Repairman. My team and I installed and maintained the SAC Commanders Net and I had the additional duty as NCOIC of the MARS Station. I was authorized to remove electronics equipment from any aircraft in the bone yard scheduled for demolition. I attended an ADT Bomb Storage Alarm System training program and upon completion set up a training program to train other repairmen. It was a busy year and I learned a lot about the entire Ground Radio Communications Equipment Career Field.

1960: I was re-assigned to the 1st RBS Sqn Det 1 ,UT. I supervised 1 repairman and help maintain 1 UHF Ground to Air Radio Set and 1 ground to Air back up. I was not a happy camper and let it be known by requesting re-assignment. Shortly thereafter, I was re-assigned to the 33 Comm Sqn at March AFB, CA. I was immediately a happy camper. Five of us were assigned to assist the Collins Radio Engineers in installing a vast array of High Power HF SSB Transmitters used in the SAC Short Order System which would maintain 24/7/365 Communications between SAC Hq, Looking Glass the Airborne Command Center and all the B52 Bombers en-route to all strategic points of the Soviet Bloc during th Cold War.

1962: I was assigned to NATO 6th ATAF Izmir, Turkey. Here, I worked as Ground HF Radio Repairmen. I made time to study hard and finally obtained my 3047X skill level and was qualified to work on or teach any equipment in the 4 AFSC’s Ground Radio Career field held a T30332 primary and a additional 32170F in BOM/NAV Systems which made a total of 6 AFSC’s I had acquired and a well rounded knowledge of the electronics career ladder. I was now ready to tackle the Liberal Arts Evening. Courses offered through the University of Maryland European Extension.

1965: I was assigned to the 3413 Instructor Sqn Keesler AFB, MS. I taught the Ground Radio Apprentice Repairman Course in Jones Hall and the Officers Basic Electronics Course at Gulf Park Annex. I attended the Instructor Supervisor Course, was promoted to TSgt and completed the Ground Radio Superintendent Course 30490.

1968: I was assigned to Eglin AFB, FL Air Research and Development Command and managed the daily Inventory and Status Reporting of all Mission Essential Equipment to Dept of the AF. I continued my off duty education at Okaloosa-Walton Community College.

monkey island1969: I was re-assigned to the 620 Tac Con Sqn at Son Tra, RVN. I was a refugee from Dong Ha which had been wiped out by a typhoon and was assigned to get the MARS station atop Monkey Mountain up and running again. I spent the entire year in this cushy assignment as Honcho and Chief bottle washer. During the year my team increased the traffic count ten fold. I provided supervision, engineering and operation assistance and training. My team manned the nets 24/7/365 and provided the labor, know how and initiative to build a new radio hooch complete with cooking and sleeping facilities. When Senator Goldwater visited us, He was very impressed with what the team had accomplished.

1970: I was re-assigned to the USAF GEEIA Unit at Keesler AFB and was promoted. I was a very happy camper and hoped to finish my career with this Unit.

1971: I was again assigned to the 3413 Instructor Sqn for an Instructional Systems Development Project. Previously I had a chance meeting in the BX with my former Chief when we were teaching the Officers Electronics Course at the Annex during my previous Instructor tour and this I suspect is how I got pulled back. I was promoted to MSgt and for the next two years and a half years I was the Instructional Systems Development Team monitor. We completed the project on schedule, implemented the new system and completed the validation testing 2 months before my retirement date. I was allowed transitional absence to work at the Litton Industries automated shipyard. I completed the subjects required for a BS of Technical Education at USM and received my sheepskin. I retired on 1 Jul 1974.

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.

I saw no combat during my entire career. I enlisted during the Korean War and retired just prior to the end of the Vietnam War. I was boots on ground in Vietnam 1969-1970. I arrived in time to participate in the Summer Fall 9 June 1969 – 31 October 1969campaign. I was assigned duty as a shift leader and volunteered to be NCOIC,and maintain and operate radios during my off duty hours.

On several occasions I volunteered to accompany the Marine EOD team to downed Aircraft Sites and other sites that had been attacked by enemy forces to salvage electronics equipment that could be used for MARS and other operations. Needless to say I obtained very little sleep during this assignment.

The second campaign I was in occurred during Winter Spring 1 November 1969 – 30 April 1970. One day I was was installing radio antennas at the MARS station and watched several Providers spray all around Monkey Mountain and surrounding areas. My eyes, sinus,trachea, skin and esophagus were all burning before I realized that it was was no smoke screen those babies were laying down for the Marines out in the bush. I grabbed my ditty bag and hiked down the Monkey to our base camp at Son Tra. I took a long hot shower before I got all the grease out of my scalp and off my skin. Then I went over to the club and tossed down a few stiff ones to wash out the internal plumbing. I got to feeling pretty good but that didn’t stop the burning inside. By the grace of God I’ve survived this long and intend to keep kicking for at least 21 more years if I have anything to say about it. So far I have survived Prostate Cancer and I’m working on Diabetes I I with diet and exercise.

My third campaign was the Sanctuary Counter Offensive of 1 May 1970 – 30 Jun 1970. I from AI8AM Monkey Mountain and a buddy from AI8AD Da Nang attended a MARS conference at Ton Son Nhut Air Base. The evening before, we decided to look for entertainment in Saigon. After an evening on the town we decided it would be best to spend the rest of the evening in a hotel near the base. We arose early the next morning and headed for the base. We passed a ’59 Chevy with a man in the drivers seat wearing a floppy field hat. He looked like a Latino which shouldn’t have caused us any alarm except for the Chevy and the field hat. We continued down the street until we heard him open the door. He proceeded to the rear door and removed a weapon. Luckily we were at the end of a block wall which we both ducked behind as we heard the bolt drawn back Alpha Delta had drawn his four inch pocket knife and I had picked up a broken cinder block. At that time a large group of RVN Airman rounded the corner on motorbikes, the Latino ducked into an apartment building, alpha delta and alpha mike ran the remainder of the way to Ton Son Nhut.

My fourth and last campaign was Southwest Monsoon 1 July 1970 – 30 November 1970. It is called such because of the muggy, rain and drizzle that made land operations difficult.I was preparing and looking forward to returning to my family in the sates.

The photo below is one of two F-8 Crusaders that pranged into the Monkey. The Marine F-8 went in just outside the gate to the Radar Site. I could see it from the MARS station. The one shown below was on the other side of the Monkey.

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

My assignments to Keesler, AFB MS. I served three tours there, I first arrived there in Dec. 1953 where I was to be trained into the Electronics Systems career ladder. I received as a Electronics Systems Helper, AC&W Equipment Apprentice, Technical Instructor, OJT and Bombing/Navigation Systems Technician. I became thoroughly acquainted with the Gulf Coast. I was converted, baptized and ordained an elder in the priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints which has effected the direction my life has taken over the years. I made many friends while there and regretted leaving in Aug. 1955.

I was again assigned to Keesler in Apr 1965 with duty as instructor in the Ground Radio Maintenance Apprentice Course. I was promoted to TSGT. We built and lived in our first house and enjoyed the good fishing and seafood found along the Gulf Coast. I was selected to attend the 30490 Ground Radio Superintendent Course.

After returning from Vietnam in Sep. 1970 I was assigned to GEEIA and spent several happy months modifying or installing electronics systems at several installations. However I was transferred back to the 3413 Instructor Squadron and promoted to MSgt. For the remaining years of my career I supervised an Instructional Program writing team until my retirement on 1 Jul 1974

My least favorite was my assignment to Hurlburt Field because there was only one B-66 Destroyer for about 20 32150F Bombing/Navigation Maintenance Mechanics. Work was scarce. I volunteered for another assignment and left a few weeks later.

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

The bond that formed between the MARS Men, MARS Volunteers and the Operators of the two radar sites and the Gatr site was outstanding. They were all intent on seeing that the MARS operation was manned 24/7. I am deeply indebted to Gene Dixon from the GATR site who helpedme maintain the radio equipment and antenna farm during his off duty time. It seemed that all those who were assigned to the Monkey were determined to do whatever was required of them and were willing to pitch in where ever needed.

The day Senator Barry Goldwater visited the MARS Men stands out above the rest. He was an avid MARS Man and if I’m not mistaken, he visited with most if not all of the MARS stations in Southeast Asia at one time or another. The day he visited us on the Monkey, you’d never have thought him to be a U.S. Senator, a presidential nominee or a Reserve USAF Major General. He was very congenial, chatted with all and swapped several war stories. He even took his turn at operating on one of the Nets. He had his own MARS station that was staffed by volunteers. A MARS station lucky enough to make contact with his station received phone patches for their clients at no charge. Barry footed the Bell charges from his station to wherever the patch was made.

To the Men of MARS who have never received medals or accolades for their service, I salute you. A lot of you worked 24/7/365 to provide back-up communications, obtained radio contact with AARS, ran phone patch traffic, relayed MARS Grams for the guys in the remote areas and trenches of Vietnam and maintained the equipment required to do so. I doubt if your story will ever be told. But that is neither here nor there. You also served proudly.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER? IF YOU RECEIVED ANY MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS OR QUALIFICATION BADGES FOR SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENT OR VALOR, PLEASE DESCRIBE HOW THESE WERE EARNED.
I received no medals for valor. How ever I did receive the Air Force Commendation Medal. The citation that accompanied the award reads:

“Master Sergeant John R. Ogden distinguished himself by meritorious service as Instructor and Instructional Systems Development Monitor, Course 3ABR30434, Ground Radio Branch, Communications Systems Department, Headquarters, United States School of Applied Aerospace Sciences, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, from 15 July 1971 to 30 June 1974, During this period Sergeant Ogden demonstrated superior qualities of leadership,dedication, and technical knowledge which resulted in a significant improvement in our training program. His excellent executive ability, coupled with his management of resources, contributed immeasurably to our training mission. The distinctive accomplishments culminate a distinguished career in the service of his country, and reflect credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.”

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 Vietnam Service Medal because it represents a brotherhood of warriors who put their lives on the line for their country, many fought bravely many died bravely and gave their lives willingly in the hope that the entire world will one day enjoy peace, justice, liberty and freedom.

Senator Barry Goldwater championed those who served in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.He made several fact finding tours over there and strongly opposed the rules of engagement set forth by LBJ and his cohorts. He felt that the toll in military lives was deplorable and fought for more drastic measures against the enemy. He was quoted as saying:

“If I had inherited the mess that Johnson got into, I would have said to North Vietnam, by dropping leaflets out of B-52s, ‘You quit the war in three days or the next time these babies come over, they’re going to drop some big bombs on you. And I’d make a swamp out of North Vietnam. I’d rather kill a hell of a lot of North Vietnamese than one American and we’ve lost enough of them,”.

He favored the use of Nuclear Artillery that was and is part of the U.S. Arsenal. This scared a lot of liberals and needless to say he was never elected president.

The photo seen here was taken during his visit to the Monkey Mountain MARS Station in December 1969. He was an avid MARS Man and ran many a phone patch for those serving in Vietnam and Southeast Asia and picked up the tab from his station to it’s final destination. The awe struck Tech Sergeant standing on his left is your own Ogie Doggie. The other three team members are on my left and the rest were volunteer operators. Jack Webb, my wingman, who replaced me as Honcho when my DEROS arrived is looking over my right shoulder.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
My second Instructor Supervisor 1965-66, Marvin Claytor GS-11 and former AF SSgt who took me under his wing, became my best friend, confidant and fishing buddy. However I fear I’ve lost him. I tried to call him after Katrina hit and got no answer. I’ve tried since and have been told that he no longer has that number.

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 wife was still a victim of culture shock when we left Turkey. When ever we went out she was always rubber necking to make sure that no Turk had his eye on Rhonda, our six year old, platinum blond, blue eyed beautiful daughter who would have been a prized possession in any rich Turk’s harem irregardless of her tender youth. I have no idea what the Turks fed their horses that they hitched to the Phaetons that constantly roved every street of Izmir picking up passengers at Ecke Pachuk (25 lira or $.25 US) each head not including babes in arms. The horses didn’t drop road apples as those here do. They dropped cow dabs but much juicier. With all her rubber necking, Margaret would inevitably step right in the middle of one and start to slip.

Someone had to be there to catch her or she would have done the splits. She would release an epithet like you never heard come from a sweet lady’s mouth. She would immediately turn tail and make a bee line for the apartment post haste, grab a jug of Clorox, run water into the tub and soak her foot for an hour or two.before she would sally forth again. The worst of these occasions occurred one evening when we and the neighbors went to the movies. Archie pulled up next to the movie house and parked in the alley. Flo pulled the front seat forward so Margaret could exit. It was a ’63 Chevy SS and as with all coupes, it was hard to get out of the rear seat. She managed to get her foot out and when she began to put her weight down she let out the most chilling blood curdling scream I’d ever heard. I ran around the car to see what had happened.

She was up above her ankle in the most ancient watering hole in ancient Smyrna aka Izmir. Jonah had probably used this one when he came forth from the belly of the whale, Alexander the Great probably used it on a foray through Smyrna, after that came the Roman Legions. St. Paul probably used it as boy roaming the streets of Smyrna, after that came the crusaders. Once she begin to stir it up by removing her foot, you wouldn’t believe the stench that emanated from it. She pulled her foot out leaving her right shoe buried in the muck. When Margaret got her first whiff, she commenced to upchuck and continued till she got the dry heaves. Finally she sat down in the front seat, poked the putrefied foot out the window and muttered weakly, “Please take me home.” I think she meant back to the land of the big BX but I had to complete my tour. When we got her back to the apartment she went through her usual ritual only she used a whole jug of Clorox. Her right shoe is probably still buried in the muck of the ancient watering hole of Izmir.

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?

In 1978 after teaching Electronics Courses in Higher Education for four years, I was employed as an Electro-Mechanical Process Engineer by the Cooper Group-Weller Plant in the Electrical/Electronics Manufacturing Industry for twelve more years. During this period, two books I read changed my life. The two books were written by Benjamin Graham and titled “The Intelligent Investor” and “Security Analysis”. I read, re-read then diligently studied them. In 1989 I said to myself, “I can do this.” So I quit working for the man and using our savings and retirement accounts, I started to work for myself and have done so until the present. Now I work when the need arises or the spirit moves.

I spent much of my time looking after my ailing wife before she passed on 28 Mar 2011, visiting on AFTWS and working with Grass Roots movements that are working to get the nation to return to the tenets established by our founding fathers.

At present I reside at the Trinka Davis Veterans Village in Carrolton GA where we receive outstanding care and treatment. I can’t say the same about the County Probate Courts though. I was declared a Ward of the State even though I scored in the 85th percentile on a competency examination, declared competent by four psychologists and two psychiatrists. Now my estate is controlled by a Conservator, Jerry A. Landers Jr., Attorney, Guardian ad Litem, Dawn R. Levine, Attorney and Kelli L. Wolk Probate Judge. Since 09/26/2013, $109,438.37 have been received into my estate. $81,894.17 were dispersed. As of 05/21/15 only $25,214.07 remained in my estate. Mr. Landers claimed disbursements were made to me in the amount of $9,182.81 during this period, I only received a total of $7,896,24. At present I am allowed $500/month of a monthly total income of $3,743/month. The powers that be dispose of the rest in any way they see fit. How many others who have been caught up in the Probate Courts of the nation have their estates wrested from them by the court officers who are supposed to be protecting them? New laws must be passed to protect those who are incapacitated or aged from being exploited at the hands of unscrupulous court officers of the Probate Courts. There are millions upon millions in Federal benefits available to those who are capable of manipulating the present laws.

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
The Disabled American Veterans have always been there to run interference for me when I was processing disability claims through the VA bureaucracy. I would never have made it to first base without them. They also keep me well informed on programs and benefits available to disabled veterans.

The picture you see here reflects how I felt after a day of being hassled at a VA Hospital. All I wanted to do is sit down with my feet up and stare off blankly into space. The DAV helps me survive this. The little blond haired, blue eyed darling is the reason my better half and I, Margaret were so over protective of her during our stay in Turkey. Siamese Sam helped watch over Rhonda too. He was every bit as over protective as Margaret and me.

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

I was a kid who skated through school with a B+ average and never cracked a book other than those pertaining to social studies or history as they were subjects I loved. It was this immature kid who enlisted and wanted to jump right into the middle of the KoreanWar and single-handedly win it. But my Guidance Counselor was very wise and turned turned down every item on my wish list. I finally gave up and stated that I might like working on rockets, and he informed me that it was a very hard field to get into. He shook his head and told me that I would have to go though several courses of electronics training first. I was tired of batting out on everything I suggested so I reluctantly said ” Sign me up”. Without realizing it, I had just learned the rules of how to get along in life.

1) Look before you leap.
2) Thoroughly discuss all the ramifications with someone in the know.
3) Always take the path that offers the best opportunities .

I have since followed these these rules and they have served me well in life.

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

If you don’t have a better half, look the field over and choose wisely. If the Air Force is not for you, wait until you have you have completed at least 4 years of college before you tie the knot. Always agree with your better half. Always watch your six. Never leave a buddy behind. Follow the three rules for getting along in life. Take advantage of every available opportunity. Do what’s right. Always give God the glory for your accomplishments.

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

It has served as a gathering place, town hall, education center and forum, chat room and family reunion. I have been able to contact veterans of all the branches of our Armed Services and learn what their views are on national and world events. I now have contact a vastnew family that I was unaware of less than a year ago.

I am a lifetime member and have seldom missed a daily visit except when I was on the road or had no access to a computer. It enhances my esprit d’ corps. It has provide me with the means of joining with brothers on the the other branches of TWS and I have enlisted their help in seeking information about my Brother Joe’s experiences in the three other branches of service prior to getting smart enough to join me in USAF, from which we both finally retired. He started in the Army Air Force and strayed to the Navy and the Marine Corps. He’s the only one I know who has served in four of the five branches. I enjoy the camaraderie that I had when I was on active duty.

I love discussing topics of interest on the Forums and swapping e-mails with my Wingmen. I’ve made more friends than I’ve ever made in private life. Most of the ones I made there were the ones who like all here have been there and done that. I will love swapping photos of my family with those aboard who engage in such activities. Before starting this project, I had never edited a photo. I have to give myself an” A” for effort.

24
Apr

TWS: “Buddy Statements”

buddy statementHas the VA denied your claim because you cannot verify through your records what happened? Did you know they will accept two “Buddy Statements” from those you served with as evidence?

Complete your profile and you can then contact those listed for the same unit/duty station for the same time frame to see they can verify your claims for you.

21
Apr

A1C George Lindsey US Air Force (Served 1953-1956)

View the service history of actor:

gooberA1C George Lindsey

US Air Force

(Served 1953-1956)

View his service history on TogetherWeServed.com

http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/profile/172282

Short Bio: Best remembered as the loveable “Goober Pyle” on the “Andy Griffith Show”, Lindsey graduated in 1952 with a teaching certificate and a degree in biological science and physical education. He joined the Air Force and was stationed at Pinecastle Air Force Base in Orlando, where he was recreation director.

19
Apr

GM1 Tom Bateman U.S. Navy (1976-1989)

profile5Read the service reflections of

GM1 Tom Bateman

U.S. Navy

(1976-1989)

Shadow Box: http://navy.togetherweserved.com/profile/231497

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

I had always wanted to join the military. I was raised on WWII movies, built military models, listened to stories from my uncles and just loved the thought of it. As a child I had thought I would join the Army and I would be a Tanker. I had apair of army fatigue coveralls that I wore all the time. My Mother said I would only take them off to be washed. Over my teenage years, my uncle Don (EM1 WWII SeaBee) told me about his service in the Navy. That, his love of our country and it’s veterans along with his Civic Pride is what confirmed my choice in military service and steered me from the Army to the Navy.

In igh school I took Army ROTC (there was no NROTC in our school system) and made it to Colonel (Battalion Commander for the school) by the end of my senior year. This guaranteed that I would start out as an E-3 instead of an E-1. At the start of my senior year I enlisted in the Navy’s Delayed-Entry Program. I left for Boot Camp 5 days after graduation.

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 had originally planned on making a career of the Navy, most likely staying enlisted. I quickly advanced to PO2 and enjoyed the work at that level but as I moved more into a leadership position, i found that I missed the hands on work. I took and passed theE6 exam on the first try and was frocked to PO1. At that point I had become interested in computers by taking civilian correspondence courses and all the computer-related Navy Correspondence courses I could. At this point, I decided that I was more interested in programming than missiles and did not reenlist.

After I got home, I applied to a local Community College and finding part time work, I found that I did miss the Navy so I joined the Reserves. After taking and passing the E7 exam, I decided to apply for Limited Duty Officer with a Data Processing specialty and started the paperwork to do so. Unfortunately, I was told that I could not change my specialty to Data Processing (I had my Associates Degree by then and was working in the field) due to overmanning. It didn’t make sense to me to have to keep up on weapons knowledge while pursuing a totally different career in the civilian world. At that time I started working mid-nights, Monday night through Friday night, which messed up my Saturday drill days, so I went Category-H (inactive Reserve) and let my contract lapse (and I’m still kicking myself to this day for letting that happen).

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.

We made an Indian Ocean deployment as part of the USS America Battle Group in 1981. During that deployment we were detached from the Battle Group and sent up into the Persian Gulf. Iraq and Iran were at war at this time so we were deployed as a Radar Picket/AirDefense asset. We cruised at Condition 3, weapons manned and ready to go, making sure nothing spilled over into the countries to the east.

I remember standing 12 hour watches in the Missile House and then going up to CIC to stand a 4 hour watch as Engagement Controller then having 8 hours to sleep, relax, whatever. The Battle Group was relieved after 5 months in the area and proceeded up the Gulf of Suez to begin a northern transit of the Suez Canal. We made the transit at Condition 3 with many of the Security Force armed and on deck (to repel boarders) due to the assassination of President Sadat of Egypt earlier in the month.

The America kept a CAP over our Battle Group and the Egyptian military patrolled the canal with Helos.

While in the Indian Ocean we also played tag with numerous Russian warships at various times but never engaged.

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 say that USS Preble (DDG 46) was my favorite duty station. I spent 4 years of my life with her and wish I could relive those days yet again. I was assigned to her out of “C” school and since her home port was Pearl Harbor, Iwas sent to San Francisco to catch a MAC flight. The transportation desk at the San Francisco airport saw the home port and sent me on my way to Hawaii. When I arrived, I found out she was currently in San Diego, stuck with an engineering casualty. Since it appeared that she would be there for a while, I was then assigned TAD to Harbor Clearance Unit 1, which was based at Alpha Docks on Hickam Field.

I spent about 3 months with this unit and had a great time. Those Divers were a great bunch of guys and I even got to help a bit on the testing of the MK-12 diving system that replaced the old bronze hardhat suits you always see in the old movies. Those 3 months allowed me to settle into the tropical routine of Hawaii. Once aboard, I found that even as a PO3 I had to pay my dues. Our division was rank heavy due to most of the FTM’s coming aboard as PO3’s so I had to pull Compartment Cleaning duty. It really was not that bad and had to wait for my security clearance to be finalized so I could get access to the Missile House (can you say “Special Weapons”?). Once I was actually working in my rate, life was great.

My least favorite duty station was Boot Camp but not for the reasons you may think. I was actually very bored there. I already had 3 years of high school ROTC under my belt so a lot of it was repetition for me, to the point that I kept falling asleep in class.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?
Hard to say. My entire active duty time was great, even though I didn’t think so at the end. Being stationed on a ship home-ported in Pearl Harbor was fantastic, especially when we went into the shipyard for a year. It was just like shore duty. Our deployment to the Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf was 212 days long with only 22 days in port so with 3 section duty that meant 197 days aboard ship. There was a lot of monotony and a lot of time to kill. This did allow me to complete a number of Navy correspondence courses along with my Civilian computer course and gave me time to build the associated microcomputer. Unlike nowadays where you just plug everything together to build a computer, I had to actually build all the circuit boards and even build the integrated video monitor.

Military service in general matured me and reinforced what my parents taught me; to be responsible for my actions, a trait that many people seem to lack in this millennium.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER?
USS Preble (DDG 46) earned her 6th and 7th Missile “E” while I was aboard and her 8th, just after I left’; no small task as the only ship in the Navy I was aware of that had a better record was the USS Chicago (CG 11) which was decommissioned in 1980 with 11 straight Missile “E”s. Also, for some reason, my division (GMM’s and FTM’s), were tasked with manning After-Steering while underway. I can remember being sent up to the bridge to learn to steer the ship prior to being assigned to After-Steering watch. I must have done much better than I thought (and than anyone else) because after that, I was assigned as Special Evolution After-Steering Helmsman. I held this position for over 2 years. The only problem with this is I never saw our entrance or exit from a port nor any unreps. But then I guess I didn’t have to pull lines or hump stores.

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?
I’m a “Cold War” vet; Medals/Awards were few and far between back in the day, the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) was just hitting the fleet and was the only badge available to surface guys at the time.

I did receive the Navy Achievement Medal for “Professional Achievement” while in the Persian Gulf in 1981 (awarded by COMMIDEASTFOR). While in the Gulf, we were at Condition 3 the whole time so it was critical that the Missile System remain up and functional. We had a couple of system causalities that I was able to quickly repair (the system was over 20 years at that point) to maintain our state of readiness. If the casualties were not quickly resolved we would have had to pull off the line which would have been a black eye to the command and could have possibly exposed the countries to the east.

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

GMCS Cris Relyea (RIP Master Chief). He was my Sea Daddy when I first got aboard the ship. He took me under his wing and steered me in the right direction. He was instrumental in my achievements while aboard and after I left the Navy. I still think of himoften. He was such a great guy. He had a command presence that you could feel without his having to force it upon you. You wanted to follow his lead, he didn’t need to coarse or explain why. I wish he was still around so I could thank him again for taking the time to show me the way.

FTCM James Julian was our Division LCPO after GMCS Relyea. He was instrumental in setting the direction of my civilian career. He suggested using a portion of our G.I. Bill benefits to take a “Master’s Course In Micro Computers” from a now defunct company. The interesting thing about the course was that they provided a Heath Kit computer that you built as part of the course and got to keep (with your benefits paying for it). That set the hook and it must have been the right thing for me since I’ve been in the industry for over 30 years and still love my job.

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?
Shellback initiation when we crossed the equator on our way to Australia in 1981. The whole thing was a lot of fun and messy. It helped to break up the monotony of too many days at sea and let everyone blow off some steam. It was all in good fun and luckily before the PC era came around (those that did not want to participate did not have to).

There were way more pollywogs than Shellbacks so they may not have paid as much attention to us as they would have liked but some got special attention. I remember the Operations Department head, LCDR (later VADM) Green getting a lot of personal service. He took it all in stride and had a good time.

Those were the days.

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 discharge from Active duty I got into Data Processing (now called Information Technology) and have been in the field ever since. I can thank FTCM Jim Julian for steering me to the correspondence course that I took which got me interested in the field. (The picture looks strange because I was playing with infrared film at the time.)

After receiving my degree, I started out as a Mainframe Computer Operator, became a Programmer/Analyst, then moved up to Systems Programming. During that time, networking came of age and I moved away from the Mainframe to become a Server Engineer. After about 10 years I moved over to the Network Engineer side (still keeping my hand in on the server side).

To date, I am now the Network Architect for a major airport in the US.

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

United States Naval Institute; It keeps me up to date on what the Navy is doing. NRA Life member (I am a Gunners Mate!), VFW Life member where I am currently at-large but plan to affiliate with a local post.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?
The Navy taught me so much that I still use every day. I can’t even begin to think how I would have turned out with out it. “A” school gave me the basics (Boot Camp was a breeze for me due to 3 years of high school Army ROTC). “C” School taught me troubleshooting skills that I still use on a day-to-day basis along with how to read and use a manual (a skill many people never acquire, even in the IT field).

Working as a Gunners Mate Missiles was a great experience. You had to have so many skills, mechanical, electrical, electronic, hydraulic, pneumatics, plumbing, weapons, demolition, small arms, etc., etc., and of course, leadership.

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

1. Be safe but enjoy everything you can. I was “too” military when I was on active duty and regret that I did enjoy more of my time ashore while in port. You may never visit a port again in your life so make all of it you can.

2. Train, train, train! Take advantage of every class and training opportunity you can. An informed mind is thebest tool you can have.

3. Do not be afraid of collateral duties. They can provide exposure to other skills and provide a little spice to your day-to-day duties.

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

I’ve found old shipmates and made new friends here and probably would not have had either opportunity were it not for this site. I have also used TWS to honor a number of friends and relatives that have passed away by creating Remembrance Profiles for friends and family to view.

17
Apr

Take United 93 Down!

By LtCol Mike Christy-TWS Dispatches

U.S. Air Force Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney was a rookie in the fall of 2001, the first female F-16 pilot ever at the 121st Fighter Squadron of the District of Columbia Air National Guard 113th Wing located at Joint Base Andrews, Camp Springs, Maryland. She had grown up smelling jet fuel, as her father, retired U.S. Air Force Col. John Penney, was a veteran air racer who flew jets in Vietnam and was a flight captain with United Airlines at the time. She got her pilot’s license when she was a literature major at Purdue. She planned to be a teacher. But during a graduate program in American studies, Congress opened air combat aviation to women and Penney was nearly first in line. “I signed up immediately,” Penney says. “I wanted to be a fighter pilot like my dad.”

On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, Penney and others from her squadron had just finished two weeks of air combat training in Nevada. They were sitting at a briefing table when someone looked in to say a plane had hit the World Trade Center. When it happened once, they assumed it was some yahoo in a Cesna. Word slowly filtered in that it was not a small private plane, but two commercial airplanes that had slammed into the Twin Towers in New York; then, that a third plane had flown into the Pentagon; and finally, that a fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was heading toward Washington, D.C. to possibly take out the Congress or the White House.

Penney and her commanding officer, Col. Marc Sasseville, were ordered to stop United Airlines Flight 93 from reaching the nation’s capital and hitting its intended target. But there was no time to arm their F-16s, which had only dummy training ammo on board – no incendiary high-explosive bullets and no missiles. They were flying the only missiles they had.

She and Col. Marc Sasseville made a desperate pact – they would be kamikaze pilots, on a suicide mission, to stop Flight 93 from hitting Washington at any cost.

He planned to strike the plane’s cockpit. Without batting an eye, the petite, blonde, 25-year old Penney, one of the Air Force’s first female fighter pilots – and who had never “scrambled” a jet fighter before – replied, “I’ll take [down] the tail.”

“We wouldn’t be shooting it down – we would be ramming the aircraft, because we didn’t have weapons on board,” Penney said in an interview with the Washington Post. She added, “I gave some thought to whether I would have time to eject, but I had to be sure. You only get one chance. You don’t want to eject and then miss. You have to stick with it the whole way.”

What made her mission more terrifying was her knowledge that her father was a flight captain for United Airlines at the time, flying an East Coast rotation that could have included Flight 93. It turns out that her father had been piloting United 93 earlier in the day but had gotten off at Boston, something she had no way of knowing at the time.

On that cool, clear morning, Penney jammed the throttle of her unarmed F-16 fighter jet at Andrews Air Force Base into a roaring “scramble” takeoff, skipping the normal half-hour pre-flight, knowing that if her mission was successful, she would not be coming back.

But none of her thousands of hours in the air quite compared with the urgent rush of launching on what was meant to be a one-way flight to a midair collision.

“It was so surreal because the air space was so quiet,” she recalled. “I really didn’t have much emotion or time to reflect that day because I was focused on getting the job done, but there was significant adrenalin.” She muttered a fighter pilot’s prayer – “God, don’t let me f**k up” – and followed her commander into the sky under full military take-off power, afterburners scorching their trail. Their flight path from Andrews took them over the Pentagon, still billowing smoke as service members and employees and rescue personnel desperately worked to contain the blaze and save lives.

What she and Sasseville didn’t know it at the time, Flight 93 had already crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. She didn’t have to take out an airliner full of innocent civilians, the hostages on board were willing to do just what the two Guard pilots had been willing to do: give their lives for their country.

Her mission soon changed to helping clear and establish a defensive cap over Washington’s airspace and escorting Air Force One, with then-President George W. Bush aboard, to Andrews Air Force Base.

Their lives were spared, but many were lost, including that of a family friend.

One of John Penney’s best work buddies and cubicle mate back at United’s pilot training center, Captain Jason Dahl, was the pilot of United 93 that fateful morning.

Had the passengers of that plane not overcome the terrorists and taken it down in a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, “Lucky” would have died killing one of her father’s closest friends, among others.

“It would have been utterly devastating for my wife and me,” John Penney told the Post. “With Jason on the plane, it would have been an additional level of grief. But there were thousands of families that learned about the loss of their loved ones that day.”

When Lt. “Lucky” Penney thinks about her role on Sept. 11 and how it will be remembered, she said she hoped media attention on the attacks won’t make Americans fearful of the future.

“We saw so much of the best of ourselves come out that day, with strangers helping strangers and many courageous acts,” she said. “We remembered something more important than ourselves, and that was the community to which we belonged.”

In the time since that clear blue morning, Penney said, “I’ve come to realize that heroism isn’t something unique or possessed by only a chosen few. That courage is there inside of each and every one of us. In the normal, perfectly average people that helped each other in the moments before the towers fell. The first responders. Neighbors and strangers coming together and lifting each other up. Those who sacrificed to undertake the dangerous and difficult task of cleaning up and rebuilding. How, in defiance of those who would threaten our way of life, how we all got up that next morning and went on.”

Penney, a single mother of two girls, works at Lockheed Martin as a director in the F-35 program. She is now a major and no longer a combat flier. She flew two tours in Iraq and she serves as a part-time National Guard pilot, mostly hauling VIPs around in a military Gulfstream (C-38), pursuing a second master’s degree.

“The real heroes are the passengers on Flight 93 who were willing to sacrifice themselves. I was just an accidental witness to history.”
-Heather “Lucky” Penney

14
Apr

Sp(Q)2c Durward Kirby US Navy (Served 1943-1945)

View the military history of famous sidekick:

kirbySp(Q)2c Durward Kirby

US Navy

(Served 1943-1945)

View his service profile on Together We Served:

http://navy.togetherweserved.com/profile/667558

Short Bio: Kirby is most noted as a host, announcer, and sketch comic, particularly on The Garry Moore Show and later on Candid Camera, where he served as Allen Funt’s sidekick from 1961 through 1966.

12
Apr

1LT Victor Lawe U.S. Army (1987-1997)

profile4Read the service reflections of

1LT Victor Lawe

U.S. Army

(1987-1997)

Shadow Box: http://army.togetherweserved.com/profile/135985

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

My Uncle Stanley Shelton (1SG, Retuncle stan) influenced me to join the Army. I was frustrated after graduating college and not finding a job in my major of Journalism in the Washington, DC area. I visited the Navy recruiter who gave me an aviator test that “wasn’t even competitive.” Code for I flunked. I visited the Air Force recruiter who could not offer me any military jobs that I liked. My cousin Jan and my Uncle Stanley advised me against joining the Marines. I went into the Army recruiter’s office and was told that 81E illustrator job was closed, 33J journalist job was closed, and 33R combat photographer job was closed. All of those jobs were under the Signal Corps so he showed me every laser disk they had for the Signal Corps. I settled on three jobs, 31C Single Channel Radio Operator, 72E and 72M multi-channel radio operator. After some closed doors discussion among the recruiter and his commander I was told the 72-series were closed but there was an opening for 31C Single Channel Radio Operator.

I took the ASVAB, Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test and scored very high. The commander noticed I had a college degree and asked if I was interested in Officer Candidate School. I said yes. He advised me of the process. I was an Option 19, delayed entry enlistee. Option 19 meant I had station of choice after graduating AIT (Advanced Individual Training). [Untrue] During my last 90 days of civilian life, I became addicted to crack cocaine and my life became unmanageable. I didn’t want to dishonor my commitment to the Army, so I checked into a rehab facility in Baltimore, MD. Two weeks after a 28-day program I boarded a bus to the MEP station in Baltimore. Many of my fellow enlistees were busted for drugs and alcohol consumption after being briefed that these substances were not allowed.

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 completed basic training at Ft. Dix, NJ. That coincidentally was the last duty station for my Uncle Stanley who retired as a Company First Sergeant. I boarded another bus for AIT (Advanced Individual Training) at Ft. Gordon, GA. It was different being “off the choke chain” and having certainfreedoms that were denied to me before in basic training. I was fortunate to be in a roomful of experienced and squared away soldiers. We had E4’s in our room who had signed up for IMC (International Morse Code) and they knew the drill on how to prepare for a room inspection. Our rooms always passed with flying marks until one day a drill sergeant gave us a block of instruction on humility. It involved push-ups and some insider tips we knew nothing about. He showed us how to make a challenge coin or quarter bounce or fall flat on a bunk. He made us all take a half step backward and wiped his hand across the floor where we were just standing at parade rest to prove that if he really wanted us he could get us.

My first duty assignment was with the 532nd Signal Company, 39th SIG BN (Signal Battalion), 2nd SIG BDE (Signal Brigade) in Geilenkirchen (GUY-lin-kur-chin) Germany at a NATO Air Base. Our unit provided unsecured (redundant) AM comms to NATO forces, and the 85th USAFAD (Pershing Missiles) in support of the German Defense Plan. This was during the Cold War when Germany was split in half. I resisted the assignment tooth and nail. As an Option 19 I chose Italy, Australia or France for my assignments, my recruiter had told me I would have my choice of assignments, I found out that these were not options for me and was assigned to Germany. I was on foreign soil with too much time on my clean and sober hands. We had a Coke machine in our barracks that sold Bitburger beer. “Lead me not to temptation, it is right down the hall next to the day room.” I continued the paperwork process for applying for OCS (Officer Candidate School). It was painful as the upper echelons of my chains of command were far, far away. My company HQ was located 40 miles away in Rheinberg, Germany. My battalion HQ was located in Chevres, Belgium. My brigade HQ was located in Manheim, Germany. After one unsuccessful attempt where my packet got lost between HQ, I simply gave up.

In January 1989 we were playing a touch football game between the barracks and I was recruited to play contact football with the Dortmund Giants of the bundesliga [German-American Football League]. It was the best thing that happened to me it gave me a sense of purpose outside of being a soldier. I got to see more of Germany than I would have as a barracks rat.

I completed the NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) board as an E4 in the secondary zone just before I transferred to my next duty assignment at Ft. Bliss, TX. I was assigned to A Btry, 5/62 ADA (Air Defense Artillery), 11th ADA BDE as a radio operator for a Vulcan platoon. I completed PLDC (Primary Leadership Development Course) and restarted the OCS application process where all of my commanders were co-located on the same post. I wrote the essay “Why Do I Want To Become an Army Officer?” and went through the interview and received high marks.

My assignment changed as I transferred from the Vulcan platoon to HQ platoon as a maintenance clerk. Our assigned clerk tested positive on a drug test prior to deployment as our unit was alerted for Operation Desert Shield. We started deploying advance parties on 15 August 1990. We painted our vehicles sand color, drew desert combat fatigues, went through intense aircraft friend-foe recognition training, rules of engagement, physical training in full MOPP (Mission Oriented Protective Posture) gear and weapons, combat lifesaver training, SEER (Survival, Escape, Evasion, Resistance) training, handling of POW’s in addition to normal skill level training. Our unit closed on Saudi Arabia on 30 September 1990. It was a lot of hurry up and waiting. We convoyed to our tactical assembly area 15 km away from the Kuwaiti border. We trained with different units as our attachment orders were always changing. First we were attached to 75th FA BDE (Field Artillery Brigade) from Ft. Sill, OK, then a FA unit from the WV NG West Virginia National Guard), then 3rd Sqdrn/3rd ACR (Armored Cavalry Regiment), then 17th Cavalry with XVIII ABN Corps. We became part of the left hook during the Desert Storm phase of the operation.

After the war, the parades and the awards I finally got promoted to SGT. Shortly afterwards I received my orders to report to OCS at Ft. Benning, GA. Our class was the first class that was top heavy in every category: most drill sergeants, most recruiters, most warrant officers, most college options, most E-7’s, most Rangers, most Special Forces soldiers, and the biggie: most combat experience. We had folks whose combat experience stretched back to Urgent Fury in Grenada to Just Cause in Panama and a busload of us fresh from Desert Storm. 151 in-processed and I was among the 74 graduated. I received a commission in Armor.

I completed Armor Officer Basic Course at Ft. Knox, KY. I volunteered for Battalion Maintenance Officer course, Dismounted Armor Scout Course (the Armor Center’s version of RIP), Ranger school and Airborne school. I disqualified myself for Ranger school after getting dehydrated twice in the same day for the day and night land navigation courses.

I reported to Airborne training back at Ft. Benning, GA. My orders for my next duty station changed about every 2-3 weeks as I was being assigned a different unit that was going through or completed a post-war draw-down. By the time I made it to Airborne school I received two sets of orders: one for BNCOC (Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Course) for 31C20 Single channel Radio Operator NCO, (obviously the left hand of the Army didn’t know that the right hand had given me a commission) and another set cancelling my orders for 72nd Armor Bn, 82nd ABN DIV. I saw my former AIT drill sergeant in my Airborne class. I asked him what would happen if I showed up at BNCOC as a 2LT? “The Commandant would congratulate you on your commission and he would politely show you the door, sir.”

I was finally assigned to A Co. 2/67 AR BN, 1st BDE, 1AD in Friedberg, Germany. The former home to Elvis. I know this because a lock of his hair still exists in the barber shop at the kaserne. As the 3rd platoon leader, I had the fortune of inheriting the best platoon in all of VII Corps. They had a five foot trophy to attest to their gunnery and maneuvering skills. Here I had the opportunity to make some unoriginal mistakes and at the same time hone my craft. By the time I got really good at tanking, I was branch detailed (reassigned) to the Signal Corps.

I went to Signal Officer Branch Qualification Course in Ft. Gordon, GA. It was a homecoming for me as I saw a lot of my former NCO’s that I served with in Geilenkirchen, Germany. I was reassigned as the node center 74 platoon leader of C Company, 141st SIG BN, 1AD in Bad Kreuznach, Germany home to 1st Armored Division HQ. Again I inherited the best signal platoon in the battalion for Signal Stakes. Again I had to learn my craft. I had ample opportunity to do so as signal is very inexpensive to deploy and we deployed in support of anybody and everybody in the division and in the corps that had a need for our comms. I was fortunate to have a platoon full of professional NCO’s who knew their craft.

A year later I was promoted to company executive officer and we received notice from the Pentagon to downsize our battalion and my unit was chosen for its strength. “Tis better to divide the strength than the weaknesses.” I was given a $100,000 budget and a six month timeline to get our equipment to direct support unit (DSU) level maintenance readiness. Our equipment went to the four winds. Our secure communications went to CECOM in Tobyhanna, PA. Our tactical vehicles and comm shelters went to Ft. Riley, KS. Our excess durable items went to Pirmasens depot in Germany. Our recovery vehicles and cargo HEMTT’s (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks) were dispersed throughout V corps.

Our personnel stayed within the battalion as we received orders to deploy an advanced party to Hungary in support of Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia. I transferred to HHC (headquarters and headquarters company) as their first XO (Executive Officer) in a l-o-n-g time. I was sent to Observer-Controller school in Hohenfels, Germany to support 7th ATC during Exercise Mountain Guard. This was our capstone exercise to help us train for Bosnia and peacekeeping operations. We deployed January 1996. I served my last year as the Battalion Maintenance Officer under two commanders. In support of this operation we fielded new M40-series masks, new mine detecting equipment, XM1107 armored Hummers, and Windows 95.

As the BMO (Battalion Maintenance Officer) I was responsible for every piece of equipment within the Task Force South sector spanning 13,000 sq. km. Communications were key to find out the unit’s maintenance readiness. The down-sizing came at the wrong time as we were under-strength to handle the communications support mission. As a result we were tasked organize to 22nd SIG BDE to fill in the blanks to make the network more robust from Germany to Hungary to Croatia to the southern tip of Bosnia. It was a rough mission to transition from combat operations to peacekeeping. We were rewriting doctrine and sending in lessons learned every day. After that 1 year peacekeeping tour I left the Army on 1 February 1997.

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.

I participated in Operation Desert Shield and Storm. My unit deployed a month after the initial invasion of Kuwait. Up until 1 January 1990. War was a distant concept. It had no real meaning to me. It was the stuff of legends and movies. During the Shield phase, I activelysought out every Vietnam and Panama vet in our units to mentally prepare myself for the worse situations possible. Our senior NCO’s spoke to us informally and formally to break us in to the horrors or war. It bonded us in ways I cannot really describe. All of the petty BS went away and it became all for one. Us or them. Victory or death. At the same time we remembered our training: MOPP4 (Mission Oriented Protective Posture level 4) training, NBC training (Nuclear Biological Chemical), SEER (Survival, Escape, Evasion, Resistance) training, EPW (Enemy Prisoner of War) procedures, mine clearing, rules of engagement, proper SITREPs (Situation Reports), battle drills, change of formation drills, it all came together. All of the different units we were cross-attached to forced us to learn how a field artillery unit shoots, moves and communicates. We applied that principle to armor units, and cavalry units.

During the war  I saw the devastating affects of gunfire on the human body up close and personal. Seeing Iraqi tanks with their turrets blown off and the charred remains of enemy soldiers. Being coated in oily mist after the oil fields were set on fire. Seeing the innocents who were caught in the crossfire. Seeing nomads wandering the desert not knowing where there next meal was coming from. Processing three Iraqi militia who seemingly materialized out of the morning fog as EPWs made me realize how close to dying we were.

After the war, it was difficult dealing with the nationwide accolades, the parades, the speeches and the multiple awards.It changed the fact I can wear my BDU’s or my Class As in public. I can get discounts that were previously unavailable to me. The strangers who waited for us to touch down at Biggs Army Air Field at Ft. Bliss, TX, at oh-dark-thirty to shake our hands and pat us on the back for a job well done was awesome and bewildering. As a soldier, my mindset was that I did my job. I did what I was trained to do. I didn’t do anything heroic or special. To the civilian the contrary was true. I didn’t see the big picture that I was a part of an armed force that helped free the oppressed and liberate a country from the tyranny or a dictator.

My last tour was in Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia. As soon as we crossed the border experiencing the tomb like silence and seeing all of the war torn homes and burned farms. Seeing children rush towards our convoys because we represented a mobile food source. It hurt my heart to see it.

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

My signal assignments were the best. During my first signal assignment I had the opportunity to go skiing at Garmisch, design a unit t-shirt, design a company certificate of achievement, and play football with and against German nationals.

My second signal assignment it was homecoming of sorts. I had been away from the signal community for 4 years. I was married, and had achieved my goal of being a commissioned officer. Though I didn’t meet anyone from my enlisted past, I was able to apply many combat arms experiences with my troops. I knew the principles. I knew the jargon. I worked with my soldiers and they worked for me. Both were more family oriented and more comradeship between ranks. Everyone looked out for one another.

Least favorite: Both of these units I will highlight were bad at first until a change in both leadership and philosophy helped turned sagging morale and performance around.

At first Ft. Bliss was a mess. Soldier morale and discipline was at an all time low when I arrived. The barracks were shooting galleries when I arrived. The barracks air conditioning was ignored. Outside it was 100 degrees inside it was 18 degrees hotter. It took several Sergeants Major and an engineering Colonel to get that situated. After a change of command and leadership philosophy things started to get better and then we were deployed which in my opinion united us into an “all for one” attitude. My last company commander CPT Anthony English worked with the soldiers to make the unit better than it was by focusing on the basics.

67th Armor BN in Friedberg, Germany started out a cannibalistic environment wherein fellow lieutenants would turn on each other in an effort to gain favor with the battalion commander rather than perfect their craft and learn from the soldiers they led. It took a transferred company commander and a courageous 1SG to turn that around in our company. Esprit de corps began to improve as I was leaving as our unit got its swagger back through tough, realistic training and teamwork.

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

Exercise Protect the Force 1994 at Darmstadt Training Area. I was given free reign to formulate a program of instruction to support training a battalion objective of Occupy and Defend a Signal Site. I was allowed to hand-pick my cadre, my OPFOR (Opposing Forces), my ROE (Rules of Engagement), and
my pick of the training ammo and explosives I needed to achieve it. My OPFOR and I trained in the rain, heat and cold to prepare prior to the battalion closing on the training area. We had so much fun providing tough, realistic training.

We trained our units to standard. If you failed a critical task on our lane, your unit was recycled until you learned the lesson. Our BN S-3 supported that objective. We learned so much about each other and our co-workers in the battalion. That situational training exercise was a success due to the planning, personnel and execution that is still talked about decades later.

One scenario that is still talked about was when one unit frustrated my OPFOR. My OPFOR could not take the site away from the unit, so as the officer in charge called a “drive by” audible. We loaded up all the soldiers from the far side of the objective into a Hummer and drove into their site and unloaded our soldiers from the rear of the Hummer into their perimeter. Shock, awe and confusion ensued, fun was had by all, mostly by me and my OPFOR.

Another scenario was the “air assault scenario.” The BLUFOR unit set up their headquarters next to a tree with a purple rope hanging down from it, they did not put the rope there nor did they question why it was there, more about the rope to follow. They did not have complete control their site security, on top of that I had an OPFOR soldier buried under leaves ten feet away from them. We unloaded an artillery simulator, for those who don’t know, this makes a big badda boom, to the near side. While they were distracted, the soldier under the leaves killed everyone in their headquarters that was set up by the tree. The soldier that I had in the tree came down the purple rope upside down and killed everyone who was still standing, from the rear.

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

Volunteering to create Operation Talk To Santa that was born out of boredom in the site radio room with my old squad leader SGT Tonora Butler. It started with a what if? conversation and ended with my unit providing two radio shelters. One for the kids and one for Santa(me). It was such a hit that the following year I was in demand for two military communities mine and Rheinberg where the company HQ was located. These radio broadcasts lasted for one week, from the 11th of December to the 18th of December, for 2 hours twice a day. The broadcasts went out from the Geilenkirchen School. There was a teacher present to make sure that the children were all allowed a chance to talk to Santa. I received a letter of appreciation from the principle of the school and one year a chaplain got on the air to thank all of us involved for doing what we were doing. He stated that it meant a lot not only to the American children but to the rest of the children as well as it exposed them to a bit of American culture and an idea of what Santa in America is like.

As the newly minted NBC officer going from worst to first in a short amount of time. My assigned NBC NCO committed suicide before the BDE Command Inspection. Even with battalion NCO’s to help my unit bolo’ed the inspection and my unit was placed on the needs improvement list. I received an excess tanker who was not NBC NCO certified to help me organize the mess I had and get our NBC room up to standard and beyond. Within a year our unit became the sterling example for others to follow for best practices. I simply employed a visual tracking system for everything NBC related. This system was implemented by the BN CHEMO (Battalion Chemical Officer) to help B Company win the Draper Award (for excellence in leadership).

Being cross-attached to D Trp, 3/5 CAV during maneuver exercises in Hohenfels, Germany. We had so much fun and learned more about cavalry tactics and strategies. We stopped being concerned about what people thought and focused on basic performance. Our team commander, CPT Farquhar, kept everything simple and stupid. He taught me how to quickly write OPORDERs so that they had SMART (Specific Measurable, Realistic Timely) goals within. Doing the simple things correctly delighted the TF Commander from 3/5 CAV. He loved that we were precise on the radio and could navigate mounted between objectives. We got our swagger back by being bold and audacious.

Being selected by the S-3 SGM to represent our unit to travel to Orleans, France to help that town celebrate their 51st liberation anniversary. Our honor guard cadre and I had the opportunity to see our sister unit the 28th Signal Regiment and participate in parades and enjoy a seven course dinner. The townspeople of Orleans treated us like gods. We met a WWII Medal of Honor recipient. We received a tour of the town and saw the ancient church that Joan of Arc worshiped in.

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?

My first challenge coin for winning the Soldier of the Month Board at Ft. Gordon, GA. I was pulled from formation after class one day and placed in a room full of senior NCO’s with no prior study time as they asked me soldier of the month board questions in rapid succession. Out of all of the random soldiers they pulled I performed the best and received a 361st SIG BN challenge coin.

A certificate of achievement for “The Run to Belgium”. That was my first gut check. I had run a 10k before, but never a 14k. It was 8.8 mile run from the Germany-Netherlands border to the Netherlands-Belgium border. It was confusing as we didn’t really know where we were going. There were no guides along the route. There were no water points. We just followed the herd as thin as it got along the way to where we thought we were supposed to go. We were lucky no one got hurt or lost.

As an acrophobic soldier, this was another one of the manhood tests that I felt I had to overcome while I had the opportunity. I had to recycle after a jammed neck injury during ground week working on PLFs. I left C Company, 507th PIR (Parachute Infantry Regiment) and transferred to the next cycle with D Company. I locked up in fear on the 40 foot tower and was consequently “skinned up” and reminded to have faith in the equipment by the Black Hat. I had to let go of my fear. I had to commit to a leap of faith as it were. After successfully negotiating the 40-foot tower I later learned that I was not the only scaredy-cat. There were a lot of aviation warrant officers who were scared of heights now that they were separated from their metal wings. My first jump was disastrous as my right leg was hung in the risers due to a weak exit through the prop blast. I figured out how to undo the mishap and landed safely. My successive jumps were uneventful and safe.

A TOP GUN hat for getting the best Table XII gunnery score in the battalion. It was my last gunnery and the BN CDR (Battalion Commander) flexed us all over the range in MOPP (Mission Oriented Protective Posture). Every target that popped up got laid down in and out of sector. My platoon outscored 11 other platoons in the battalion to earn that honor.

A letter of commendation from General Cherry for my outstanding support of Exercise Proud Lion. I was assigned as the liaison officer from my unit to brief the simulated and actual deployment of my units in support of the exercise. I was the lowest ranking officer on deck. I was nervous in the service when the chief of staff COL Ryan announced OPBRIEFs were due in 24 hours. I consulted with every captain I could find and consulted with my S-3 MAJ Neil about what to do and what not to do. I rehearsed numerous times before I was ready to brief. I was the last one to brief the ADC-M (GEN Cherry) and his G-3 LTC Kostich (my former BN commander from 2/67 AR) on my OPPLAN. After the brief, the room was silent and GEN Cherry thanked me for my time and effort and asked if anyone had any further questions for me. None came, I was dismissed. He came to me and asked how long I had been doing this in front of a group of senior officers. “This was the first time sir.” I wish I had a coin, but I don’t, so I will have to get creative, have a good Iron Soldier Day Lieutenant.” Weeks later I received a letter of commendation from him that made me the envy of all of my peers and superiors.

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

SSG Anthony Dokes my second squad leader at 532nd SIG CO. He believed in me and realized the untapped talent he had in me and allowed me to use that talent to be creative and do things to improve morale. He supported my application to OCS. He knew how tomanage me. He got ME! He allowed me to create my own additional duties like site photographer, site illustrator, and unit supply specialist. He supported me playing football and doing things a normal E4 should not be doing. My extra-curricular activities benefited the unit and myself.

SGT Jerome Taylor my squad leader at Ft. Bliss, TX. He was a combat vet from the 509th PIR (Parachute infantry Regiment), Operation Just Cause in Panama. He was instrumental in training us on the do’s and don’ts in combat. You would have thought he was an infantryman but he wasn’t, he was a 63B (Light wheeled mechanic). He and three other NCO’s were from my hometown of Washington, DC. He put the fun in functional training. When I was getting in shape for OCS he led a bunch of volunteers on Sunday runs through the Franklin Mountains. The higher elevation and consistency paid off! When I got to OCS I was running like an Olympic grade turbo-charged cheetah.

Captain Miciotto “Bear” Johnson was my last tank company commander in Friedberg, Germany. He said something to me that hearkened back to my enlisted days, “I take care of all my Soldiers, that includes officers. You need to do the same. If a fellow officer needs help, give it. Don’t do things with a favor attached. Just do it and move on to the next objective. If you do it for one, do it for all of us. We are on the same team and we need all the help we can get when we need it.” He gave us our tanker swagger back by asking every tanker who the best loader was, who the best driver was, who the best gunner was, who the best master gunner was, who the best TC was. It was a test to see if the soldier mentioned someone else or were bold enough to say themselves. It forced soldiers to acknowledge there was someone better than they were. He would follow up if they mentioned another tanker, “So what are you going to do about it?” This forced soldiers to create their own solutions to move up in talent if not rank. It worked. It tore down the platoon fiefdoms and implemented more intra-unit collaboration.

Major Hruska the best BN S-3 I had ever witnessed. It wasn’t that he knew his training and doctrine. He knew everyone else’s too. He was a history buff. He studied tactics and strategy. He was a Jedi among men. He could manage or lead a battle blindfolded. He knew the precise moment to deploy task force reserves and where. He knew enemy capabilities before they deployed. He was THAT guy.

Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Strong saw something in me that I hadn’t recognized in myself. I had not been in the unit very long. I am still in transition from tank platoon leader mode when he walked in on an NCOPD session I was having with platoon’s NCO’s in the mess tent during an exercise. This was a rare if not unheard of event in his battalion. From that point on he made it a point to keep tabs on me and my accomplishments. During my OPPLAN brief for Exercise Protect The Force he stopped me before I finished and announced he had heard enough and left me with the S-3 and his staff. I thought I did something wrong. MAJ Neil and the assistant S-3 assured me everything was fine. “LT Lawe you just watched the colonel get his mind blown with your level of detail and contingency planning. We saved you for last for a reason. He has made all of your peer OIC’s rewrite their plans because they failed to consider all of the what if’s you covered in the second paragraph.” He who takes more than his fair share of objective shall receive more than his fair share of objectives to take. I don’t who said it first but that was my career under LTC Strong and I was okay with it.

PLEASE RECOUNT THE NAMES OF FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH, AT WHICH LOCATION, AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER MOST ABOUT THEM. INDICATE THOSE YOU ARE ALREADY IN TOUCH WITH AND THOSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE CONTACT WITH.

SPC Robert Boyles-a native from Oregon, a fellow comic book geek with a great sense of humor. We traveled together from AIT to first duty station in Germany.

SFC Don Fulton-Excellent platoon sergeant. We were both long time Redskin fans, we were both Geminis, and we were both from the AtlanticEast Coast. Me from DC and him from SE Virginia.We were finishing each other’s sentences within a week. He helped me through the transition from NCO to officer.

SFC Louis Imbrogno-excellent platoon sergeant He was a member of a motorcycle club and owned a boss Harley. He helped me weather the constant turnover of gunners I had on my crew.

SFC Bowie-he was my acting 1SG while I was the acting commander. We kept each other honest and ensured we were prepared to do the extra work to ensure the in boxes remained empty.

SPC Cornelius “Boosie” Davis, a native of Alabama who had a great sense of humor. He was a superb all around athlete. I wished we could have played football together at Dortmund.

SPC “Wild Bill” Massey. We became closer after I left the unit. I was the photographer at his wedding in Germany. When I returned to Germany as a 2LT, SGT and his wife were there to pick me up from the airport and ferry me to brigade headquarters.

CPT Ronald Woodman we were OCS classmates and we linked up again at 14st SIG. Both us were former combat arms platoon leaders relearned our craft in the world of communications. We maintained a constant buddy watch over one another.

CPT Stephen Cichocki- he was my OCS classmate and a former master gunner who was my sounding board throughout my commissioned career.

SPC Verburg-he was my go to guy in the platoon if I needed something done right now! He would assess the hey you mission and would enlist his buddies to make sure it was done in a timely and stealthy manner. I loved playing dirty hearts or spades with him. Lots of mutual respect.

SGT Rosamund, SGT Wrzenski, SGT Danielson, CPL Pena, CPL Raymond, among others- all were high speed low drag NCO’s. They were masters of their craft. I learned so much from them during my transition from armor to signal.

SGT Turner- he was my first motor pool NCO who kept me honest on so many occasions with the BN XO.

SSG Cole-he was my go to NCO in the platoon. He was the NCO version of Verburg. Another great card player.

CPT Ian “Frenchie” Forbes-it was his signal platoon I inherited at 141st SIG BN. He provided me with wise counsel on the tribal customs of my new home.

CPT Stephen Bates-we were the noisy outlaws of the battalion who got shit done. We were peer XO’s in different companies who sought each other out just to vent if nothing else. I think we were the founding members of the LPA in the unit.

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 tank crew pranked the platoon sergeant’s tank driver who was from Brooklyn, NY. he was deathly afraid of the VW-sized boars in Germany. He fell asleep on guard duty at night, so we poured garbage all around his tank to attract the boars so he would stay awake on duty. If there were no boars we would make hog noises to spur his alertness levels.

My section in Armor Officer Basic Course pranked a certain cadre officer who used to zeroize our SINGCAR radios (Single Channel Air-born Radio system) on every break or AAR (After Action Review). Our section has some former tankers who had ties to the training NCO’s. We convinced one to let us have a smoke grenade. One of our classmates rigged it to the half shaft under his Hummer with communications wire. The more the half shaft rotated it tightened the wire connected to the quick release pin and the spoon and broke. His Hummer quickly filled with emerald smoke. We saw him through our binoculars coughing and gagging several hundred meters away. No retaliation came our way.

I pranked the BN S4 CPT Jonathon Long at a Hail & Farewell into thinking he had left his Vinson KY-57 unsecured in the motor pool and I found it as such during a routine staff duty inspection. I produced an extra one from my CVC (Combat Vehicle Crew-member) helmet bag as proof. It was an extra one I signed out from the communications shop.

I pranked the BN S-3 into believing that such a thing as snow snake repellent existed. I took a can of WD-40 and covered it with a piece of paper that generically said snow snake repellent and made up a stock number to go with it. I referenced the newly issued field manual that referenced snow adders indigenous to Bosnia. He took it and ran with it to the division commander’s weekly readiness briefing. The commander added it to the list of things units needed to order and would be briefed as red, amber or green status. Confession may be good for the soul yet my body paid for that one in the form of push-ups, a one-sided ass chewing and a week’s worth of convoy commander detail downrange in Bosnia.

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 have been in manufacturing management ever since. I have been in the metals industry twice as a shift supervisor.

I was in the automotive industry as a shift supervisor. That was fun believe it or not giving back to the armed services. I worked for Oshkosh Defense making trucks like the PLS , HEMTTs, HETs, LVSRs and the newly designed MATVs for the Marines and the Army. It was eye-opening to read the laudatory e-mails from congressmen and service members remarking how our product helped saved lives down range. Also meeting service members who arranged to visit the plant and shake everyone’s hand who helped build these amazing mine resistant vehicles. That organization was the most top heavy with veterans from white collar to blue collar.

I have been in the plastics industry two times-once as a supervisor and currently I am a production manager.

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
I have let my memberships lapse for the Signal Corps Regimental Association, the US Armor Association and the NCO Association.

When I lived in Indiana, I became a mentor at Handley Elementary and was invited to their Veteran’s Day celebrations. When I lived in Wisconsin, I would march in the Memorial Day parades as an ad-hoc flag bearer in full BDU’s.

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

It has influenced how I am as a leader in charge of personnel, resources and time. No matter where I worked I employed the same techniques that made me a successful NCO and officer. I was a fit, firm and fair leader. I made it a point to learn the process and implement change to streamline the process and eliminate waste for the better not just change’s sake. Over the years I have had to soften the sharp combat edges I had developed to negotiate more win-win scenarios. I have implemented recognizing individuals and teams who have exceeded performance expectations at the various organizations where I have worked.

Having qualified on numerous weapon systems, I don’t own nor care to own any firearms. I am of the mindset that firepower attracts more firepower. I do not feel the need to conceal and carry. I learned through my military training and as a former range safety officer to respect guns, bullets, weapons of any kind and what they are designed to do. I do not hunt. As long as there are Piggly Wiggly supermarkets I don’t see the need. I have seen up close and personal the effects of small arms fire on the human body. I have witnessed the carnage of large caliber weapons. It would take a lot to motivate me to fire a bullet in anger outside of a high intensity combat environment, and even then (?). My relatives have reluctantly asked “have you killed anyone in combat?” My answer is no. A few will follow-up with “Did you want to kill anyone in combat?” My answer is yes. Does that make me a bad person? Those situations where that was a possibility have long since moved on and so have I.

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

Get your mind right and the body will execute each and every time. I have done it and I have witnessed it in others. The synergy between the two is awesome. Tap into it. If you declare it, it will become reality. This is a rare environment where you
are getting paid to find out your potential. Numerous soldiers sign up for one MOS and later transfer to something more of their liking. Numerous more soldiers make a career out of the service because it fills their needs and they are good at what they do. Remember “Good gold will not net you good soldiers. It will get you mercenaries until the gold runs out. Good soldiers will get you good gold.”

Join with some goals in mind. At the end of your tour, what do you want to be? My goals were to improve myself as a leader, graduate OCS and to overcome my fear of heights and graduate Airborne school. The last two I accomplished. The first one was a constant work in progress. I was continually learning and sharpening the saw. I read numerous books, field manuals, Army Regulations and had lots of training which were a good base for starting out. To be a good leader, you have to be in a leadership position and learn from your mistakes. The more your do certain things, the more comfortable you will become with your particular leadership style.

If and when you deploy to combat, pay strict attention to your training. Study and ask lots of “what if?” questions. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. No one likes it, but it pays dividends tenfold when the scenario is upon you. Learn from every subject matter expert you come in contact with from drill sergeants to platform instructors to squad leaders to officers. The knowledge is free and it is power. Volunteer for whatever training is available and give it your all.

When you are deployed overseas remember you are an ambassador for your country in whatever role you are assigned. Make the Army values (Loyalty, courage, selfless service, respect, honor and integrity) your values not just buzz words you recall during evaluation time. If you live it, walk it, your soldiers will reflect it.

Volunteer for every training class available, you never know where it will take you. At the very least you will learn something that is benefiting you, the unit and you may be able to apply as a civilian. Seek out the best soldiers, the best NCO leaders (informal and formal) and make them your mentors. Learn by reading the regulations, the field manuals, and the technical manuals. Learn through correspondence courses. Learn through hands-on training, classroom training, cross-training and hip-pocket training. Education is the one promotion no one can take away from you. The positive example you set is the one most will follow. Have a goal and do what it takes to achieve it. If you fail, it’s your goal, no one else’s, the goal police will not drag you away to jail. Dry your tears and try it again. Or simply pick a more achievable goal and pursue that. Specialized qualifications like Ranger and Special Forces are NOT made for everyone that is why it is an elite specialization. The standards are higher to attract the best of the best and even some of them fail.

When people ask me if I miss the Army, I tell them I miss the people more than anything. The soldiers, NCOs, and the officers I served with made up the difference. They made “embracing the suck” missions bearable. We buoyed each other’s spirits to get it done. We did what we had to so we could get back to doing what we wanted to do. The down time spent with each other was worth it. The war stories told around the fire barrel, the pranks, the lies and alibis bonded an unlikely band of brothers and sisters when things were at the worst yet it brought our best.

When people ask me if I would go back, my answer is no. My Army has changed. I would be perceived as a man out of time like Captain America. My old school habits would not blend well with today’s leadership climate.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.
In beginning it helped me network with former soldiers, NCO’s that I hadn’t been in contact with in years. I later networked with them over Facebook, e-mails and phone calls. The stories I had read about other soldiers some were intimidating reading all of their accomplishments, then I read others that were seemingly uneventful yet the soldier got something out of their service if it was nothing more than interacting with different people on foreign soil. I connected with that.

10
Apr

Pearl Harbor – December 4-7, 1941

What I Remember
By Vincent L. Anderson
From February 25, 1941 to May 8, 1942, I served as an enlisted man in the 94-man Marine Detachment on the aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Lexington CV-2.On Thursday, December 4, 1941, the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Lexington CV-2 was moored port side to mooring platforms F-9-N and F-9-S, Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, T.H., in 7 1/2 fathoms of water and the temperature throughout the day ranged from 71 degrees to 78 degrees.

On this date I had the 2000 to 2400 hours duty as orderly for the Executive Officer, Cdr. W. M. Dillon. The Corporal of the Guard posted me on duty at 2000 hours at the Executive Officers quarters and I reported in to Cdr. Dillon and took my position in the hallway outside his quarters that had a small table and telephone.

About 2030 hours I received a call from the Officer of the Deck, Ensign E. M. Price, that there was a communication man from Ford Island with a secret dispatch for the senior officer afloat and as the Captain was ashore would I come down to the Quarter Deck and bring the communication man to the Executive Officer to accept the dispatch. I first notified Cdr. Dillon who was in his quarters reading and then went and brought the communication man to the Executive Officer, who signed for the dispatch. I then took the communication man back to the Quarter Deck.

When I returned to the Executive Officer’s quarters, Cdr. Dillon handed me a sheet of paper with the names of each of the Division Officers and asked me to find them and have them report to his quarters immediately. I found the Division Officers and informed them that the Executive Officer wanted to see them immediately and they were with Cdr. Dillon when I was relieved at 2400 hours. I never learned what the secret dispatch said. However, the following morning, Friday, December 5, 1941, at 0445 hours preparations were started to get us underway and at 0728 the Lexington got underway and left Pearl Harbor. And at 0940 hours the Lexington landed eighteen VSB planes of Marine Scouting Squadron 321, and at 1103 hours started landing her own air group. Then we found out we were to deliver this Marine Scouting Squadron to Midway Island.

The Lexington crew had no prior warning that we were going to leave Pearl Harbor on Friday, December 5, 1941. However, the only other aircraft carrier in the Hawaiian area at this time was the U.S.S. Enterprise which had left Pearl Harbor on Friday, November 28, 1941, to deliver the Marine Fighter Squadron VMF-211 to Wake Island, and was returning to Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941, shortly following the Japanese attack.

On Sunday, December 7, 1941, I had the 0800 to 1200 hours duty as Orderly for the Executive Officer, Cdr. W. M. Dillon, and was posted on duty on the open bridge. At that time the Lexington operating with Task Force 12, was set in condition of readiness III in the anti-aircraft batteries and damage control. Cdr. W. M. Dillon and the ship’s captain, Frederick Carl Sherman were together awaiting our morning flight patrol to take off. At approximately 0815 a ships communications man approached and gave me a dispatch from, “CINCPAC to All U.S. Navy Ships Present Hawaiian Area,” that read, “AIRRAID ON PEARL HARBOR X THIS IS NO DRILL”. I immediately took the dispatch to Capt. Sherman, who read and showed it to Cdr. Dillon. Capt. Sherman immediately went into the closed bridge and over the ship’s loudspeakers informed the entire crew we were now at war with Japan. General Quarters was sounded immediately and I was relied and immediately reported to my General Quarters station as a loader on Gun 6 (a 5″ 25 cal. AA Gun).

Now For the Rest of the Story:
In 2001 I came in contact, through the U.S.S. Lexington CV-2 Minutemen Club, with Capt. James B. Johnson, USN (Ret.), a U.S.S. Lexington CV-2 Coral Sea Battle Survivor. He served aboard the Lexington as an Ensign in 1941 and 1942 in the Communication & Intelligence Division. We corresponded both by telephone and email, initially about the search for Amelia Earhart of which we both had some interest and both had done some research. When we discussed our respective duties aboard the Lexington I told him of my December 4, 1941, duty as orderly for Cdr. Dillon and the secret dispatch and as he was a Communication & Intelligence officer on the ship I asked if he had seen the dispatch. He told me he had not seen it but, on the early morning of Friday, December 5, 1941 the Communication & Intelligence Division Officer, Lieut. Comdr. W. Terry, met with all his officers, including Ensign James B. Johnson, and told them that before they would return to Pearl Harbor they would be at War with Japan, but he did not elaborate he just made this comment as a statement of fact.

Another Story;
Another side light of my conversations with Capt. James B. Johnson was what he told me about the day, February 20, 1942, when Lt. Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare, shot down five of nine Japanese bombers that were attacking the Lexington near Bougainville, in the Solomon Islands Area. I had told him I saw O’Hare shoot down all five as our antiaircraft Gun Battery four was on the port side and the attack was on the starboard aft and we could not fire. He told me that at that time he was an observer on the flight bridge and when O’Hare landed after shooting down the five Japanese bombers, O’Hare told his plane captain James Shinn AMM3c, to refuel and rearm his plane immediately as he wanted to get back in the air. The Air Officer on the flight bridge then told his talker to notify O’Hare he had done enough for one day and when O’Hare was told he shook his fist at the Air Officer.

And Yet another Story:
In June 1951, then Lt. Cdr. James B. Johnston was the Civil Administrator of the Northern Mariana Islands and on June 30, 1951 he accepted the Last Japanese Surrender of World War II on Anatahan Island.

Editor’s Note:
Lieut. Cdr. Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare became the Navy’s first flying ace when he single-handedly attacked a formation of nine heavy bombers approaching his aircraft carrier on Feb. 20, 1942. Even though he had a limited amount of ammunition, he managed to shoot down or damage several enemy bombers. On April 21, 1942, he became the first naval recipient of the Medal of Honor in World War II.

O’Hare’s final action took place on the night of Nov. 26, 1943, while he was leading the U.S. Navy’s first-ever nighttime fighter attack launched from an aircraft carrier. During this encounter with a group of Japanese torpedo bombers, O’Hare’s Grumman F6F Hellcat was shot down; his aircraft was never found. In 1945, the U.S. Navy destroyer USS O’Hare (DD-889) was named in his honor.

A few years later, Col. Robert R. McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, suggested that the name of Chicago’s Orchard Depot Airport be changed as a tribute to Butch O’Hare. On September 19, 1949, the Chicago, Illinois airport was renamed O’Hare International Airport to honor O’Hare’s bravery.

7
Apr

SSgt Charles M. Schulz US Army (Served 1943-1946)

View the service history of cartoonist:

sparkySSgt Charles M. Schulz

US Army

(Served 1943-1946)

View his service history on TogetherWeServed.com

http://army.togetherweserved.com/profile/234063

Short Bio: In February 1943, Schulz was drafted into the United States Army and was sent to Fort Campbell in Kentucky. He was shipped to Europe two years later, departing Boston on February 5 and arrving in Le Havre, France on February 18, 1945 to fight in World War II with the U.S. 20th Armored Division. The unit spent its first month in unit training. It saw combat at the very end of the war. Elements of the 20th Division participated in the liberation of Dachau concentration camp. Schulz‘s unit was near but did not actually enter the camp. Schulz attained the rank of Staff Sergeant and was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB). Years later he would say his proudest possession was his CIB and when speaking of his wartime service he would simply say, “I was a foot soldier.”

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