View the service history of actor and stuntman:
TSgt Jock Mahoney
US Marine Corps
View his Service Profile on TogetherWeServed.com
Short Bio: At the University of Iowa, he was outstanding in swimming, basketball and football. When World War II broke out, he enlisted as a Marine fighter pilot and instructor. In Hollywood, he was a noted stunt man, doubling for Errol Flynn, John Wayne, and Gregory Peck.
Each year at the annual board meeting of the Historic Naval Ships Association (HNSA) in Annapolis, The National Association of Destroyer Veterans (Tin Can Sailors) makes a presentation of grants to our Tin Can Ship Museums. The Thomas J. Peltin Destroyer Museum Grant Program makes these grants possible. The program has over the last 20 years awarded grants totaling over 2 million dollars to Tin Can Ship museums in the U.S. including the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (DD-850), USS The Sullivans (DD-537), USS Laffey (DD-724), USS Kidd (DD-661), the USS Orleck (DD-886) and USS Turner Joy (DD-951). In March of this year, TCS awarded $10,00 to each Museum and gave $5000 to HNSA and $1000 to the Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society.
Veterans and active duty personnel who served in a DD, DDG, DE, DL, DM, FF, AD, AR, APD, AVD, AVP, or other similar types of ships are eligible as are interested non-veterans and veteran family members. TCS helps veterans connect with shipmates or find out if their ship is having a reunion or learning how to contact former shipmates.
Tin Can Sailors, Inc.
Terry Miller, Executive Director
PO Box 100
Somerset MA 02726
View the service history of singer:
PFC Eddie Fisher
View his Service Profile on TogetherWeServed.com
Short Bio: Fisher was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1951, sent to Fort Hood, Texas for basic training, and served a year in Korea. From 1952 to 1953, he was the official vocal soloist for The United States Army Band (Pershing’s Own) and a tenor section member in the United States Army Band Chorus (an element of Pershing’s Own) assigned at Fort Myer in the Washington, D.C. Military District. During his active duty period, he also made occasional guest television appearances, in uniform, introduced as “PFC Eddie Fisher”. After his discharge, he began to sing in top nightclubs and had a variety television series, Coke Time with Eddie Fisher on NBC (1953-1957).
I came into the tent one afternoon on the second or third day we had been there and Mike was busy writing a letter. I casually asked who he was writing and he said, “Bobby Kennedy.” “As in Senator RFK?” I asked “Yes.” I said I didn’t think we had been here long enough to complain to our Senators. He said he was asking for a New York state flag. I stated that it was unfortunate that he came from a state with so many people that his pleas would never be heard. He made some disparaging remarks about the remoteness and backwardness of Arizona and the race was on. He wrote to Sen. Kennedy and I wrote to Sen. Carl Hayden of Arizona.
I had my reply in a mail cycle plus a few days. Nothing from New York. I wrote back to the Senator to thank him for his efforts. He was unable to fill my request through his office, but he pointed me in the direction of the state official who could. In my correspondence with his office, I kept referring to the secretary who was really opening the mail assuming that she was a lovely example of the girl next door. He mentioned her name and after I quit writing the Senator, I started writing her. In the meantime crickets from New York. I wish I had Mike’s later letters to the Senator because they were pretty caustic. Need I mention that my flag arrived before Mike heard from Kennedy? He finally mailed his driver’s license to Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and said he would not be returning to New York.
Then the press got a hold of it and flags came to Mike from everywhere. From the selectmen in Schenectady, and, finally, Bobby Kennedy’s office.
It is a silly little story but it was a great diversion and made for a war story that involved no violence. Suddenly it was the big thing in several squadrons – get your state flag and hang it up. There were a lot of them.
There are two interesting footnotes to this story: after the assassination of MLK there was much tension everywhere in Vietnam and the air wing was no exception. It was decreed that all flags would come down rather than removing just the ones that involved a Confederate motif.
The other is my continued correspondence with Ann, the secretary. After extending our tours, Mike and I came home on leave and I found myself in Washington DC and reached out to Ann. Her parents informed me that she was in Chicago at the convention. I finally reached her there (by this time she was Walter Mondale’s secretary) and she said stop by the Hilton, so I did. We got into the convention to hear Mayor Daley let the rest of the Dems know how it is done in Chicago. Had the joy of sharing tear gas with the hippies being pounded on by Chicago’s finest in Grant Park. Wined and dined on the finest the Hilton could send up paid for by the DNC. Livin’ large. Twenty or so very exciting hours in my life.
One other note – Mike never did go back to New York as promised. Instead, he married a Flagstaff girl and stayed.
View the service history of director:
PFC Sam Peckinpah
US Marine Corps
View his service history on TogetherWeServed.com
Short Bio: David Samuel Peckinpah was born and grew up in Fresno, California, when it was still a sleepy town. Young Sam was a loner. The child’s greatest influence was his grandfather Denver Church, a judge, congressman and one of the best shots in the Sierra Nevadas. Sam served in the US Marine Corps during World War II but – to his disappointment – did not see combat.
The citation which Mike received stated that his actions took place “deep within enemy-controlled territory.” While this is factually correct, it is also misleading. Staff Sgt. Fred Zabitosky received a Medal of Honor with the same notation (DA GO 69-27). After some time and, I believe, court intervention, the awards was reissued with a change reading “within enemy-controlled territory in Laos” (DA GO 91-23). Why is this important?
In 1962, Averell Harriman, Ambassador at Large in the Kennedy Administration, negotiated an agreement meant to establish the neutralization of Laos. The United States withdrew the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group in Laos 666 military advisors from Laos in accordance with this agreement. The North Vietnamese ceremonially withdrew 25 personnel, leaving well over 10,000 North Vietnamese troops in Laos. The United States failed to respond strongly to this total negation of the agreement and, for many years, pretended to accept the myth of North Vietnamese withdrawal. When it was required to act out of due diligence against those forces, it established elaborate ruses to do so; Project 404 (sheep-dipped military personnel acting as Assistant Military Attaches) and CIA-led Hmong and other elements in Laos, and cross-border operations by MACV-SOG from Vietnam. The consequences of this facade were well-documented in Norman B. Hannah’s “The Key to Failure: Laos & the Vietnam War” (Madison Books, 1987).
GI’s in Vietnam usually attributed it to an effort by the State Department to preserve Harriman’s historical legacy, dubbing the Ho Chi Minh Trail as “The Averell Harriman Memorial Highway.” The U.S. denied it had any military forces in Laos, when, in fact, the small numbers of military personnel engaged in Laos were there solely because of a much larger, and also denied North Vietnamese presence. Thus, in 1969, Fred Zabitosky’s Medal of Honor and other awards to SOG personnel engaged in cross-border operations were written up with the phrase “deep within enemy-controlled territory.”
In 1970, when the Government of Cambodia permitted U.S. and South Vietnamese forces to enter its country and engage the North Vietnamese forces that were occupying vast tracts of Cambodia, they also closed the port of Sihanoukville to the transshipment of supplies to those North Vietnamese forces. It became evident that the bulk of the Communist material was coming through Cambodia. The North Vietnamese recognized this and determined to expand and secure their supply route through Laos on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. One of the actions they took, in September 1970, was to attack Laotian and CIA forces on the Bolevens Plateau in order to expand their control westward. MACSOG personnel conducted Operation Tailwind at the request of the ambassador in Laos, to distract the North Vietnamese and relieve the pressure on units on the Bolevens. Mike Rose received his award for actions in Tailwind that received attention because of the totally bogus story aired by CNN in 1998.
By denying an American presence in Laos, the historical record has been misconstrued, beyond the operational aspects that affected the outcome of the war. In the recent Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary, episode 2 (1961-1963) states that “Kennedy sent the Green Berets to the Central Highlands of Vietnam to organize mountain tribes to fight the Viet Cong to undertake covert [emphasis added] missions to sabotage their supply bases in Laos and Cambodia,” as though this was an illegitimate action undertaken by the U.S. Ken Burns accepts the presence of Communist sanctuaries in those countries without questioning the self-imposed restraints by the U.S. Later, in discussing the failed ARVN Operation Lam Son 719 in Episode 9 (May 1970-March 1973), he points out that “by the end of 1970, both houses of Congress had barred all U.S. ground personnel, even advisors, and special forces, from crossing the border,” but he fails to chastise Congress for its one-sided proscription.
In the time frame of the Vietnam War, it may have been useful to designate operations as being “deep within enemy-held territory,” under a flawed diplomatic policy. But in the context of history written post-war, that terminology is not only inappropriate, but it perpetuates misperceptions that color the public understanding of that history. It might be useful to find out who and why this terminology was used in Mike Rose’s award citation, but it would be even more useful to correct the record. No one was shy about talking about Laos in the award ceremony, only in the award itself.
Stephen Sherman served with 5th Special Forces Group (ABN) in Vietnam. He is presently the editor of a series of books on the Second Indochina War and a principal contributor to a website devoted to correcting the Burns/PBS documentary of the Vietnam War, which can be found at http://wiki.vvfh.org
An interview with Stephen Sherman can be found at https://www.sofmag.com/special-forces-and-special-operations-activities-in-southeast-asia-from-1954-1976/
View the service history of entertainer:
1stLt “Tennessee” Ernie Ford
US Army Air Corps
View his Service Profile on TogetherWeServed.com
Short Bio: Best remembered for the song “16 Tons”, during World War II, 1st Lieutenant Ford was a bombardier flying missions over Japan. The war’s end found Ford in San Bernardino and then Pasadena, California, where he worked as a radio announcer.