Incredible Military Stories
Pvt Burt Young, U.S. Marine Corps (1957-1959)

Pvt Burt Young, U.S. Marine Corps (1957-1959)

You may not recognize the name, but you'll recognize the face. Let's be honest: a Burt Young movie marathon is a day well spent. He appeared in more than 160 roles in 50 years in Hollywood, acting alongside the silver screen's most recognizable names: Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, and, of course, Sylvester Stallone.  His credits include "Chinatown," "The Killer Elite" and "Once Upon a Time in America," along with his turn as Paulie in the 1976 film "Rocky." He continued in the role through...

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VA Updates: Benefits Best Practice – Tell Your Family

VA Updates: Benefits Best Practice – Tell Your Family

Six million Veterans receive benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). As I described in a previous column, these are earned benefits for military service and not entitlements.  For Veterans, it is essential to explain to your family members what these benefits are, how they are administered, and how they would be affected if you should pass. Based on an all too common real-world situation, this example summarizes why taking the time to speak to your family about your...

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SFC Fred Willam Zabitosky, U.S. Army (1959-1989) – MOH Recipient

SFC Fred Willam Zabitosky, U.S. Army (1959-1989) – MOH Recipient

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. SFC Fred Zabitosky, US Army, distinguished himself while serving as an assistant team leader of a nine-man Special Forces long-range reconnaissance patrol. SFC Zabitosky's patrol was operating deep within the enemy-controlled territory in Laos when they were attacked by a numerically superior North Vietnamese Army unit.  SFC Fred Zabitosky Repeatedly Exposed Himself to North...

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The Earth Is Weeping by Peter Cozzens

The Earth Is Weeping by Peter Cozzens

After the Civil War, the Indian Wars would last more than three decades, permanently altering the physical and political landscape of America. Peter Cozzens gives us both sides in comprehensive and singularly intimate detail.  Overview of The Earth Cries He covers lots of ground, much of it bloody, thus he skips lightly over certain events, but in doing so he doesn’t gloss over anything. Even when he treads familiar ground - Red Cloud’s War, the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the Nez Perce...

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WW2 – Battle Of Wake Island (1941)

WW2 – Battle Of Wake Island (1941)

The Battle of Wake Island was fought December 8-23, 1941, during the opening days of World War II. A tiny atoll in the central Pacific Ocean, Wake Island was annexed by the United States in 1899. Located between Midway and Guam, the island was not permanently settled until 1935 when Pan American Airways built a town and hotel to service their trans-Pacific China Clipper flights. Consisting of three small islets, Wake, Peale, and Wilkes, Wake Island was to the north of the Japanese-held...

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Civil War – The Battle of Chattanooga

Civil War – The Battle of Chattanooga

The November 1863 Battle of Chattanooga was a series of battles that were fought over the course of three days. It was also a series of battles that probably should have never happened in the first place. Around the same time, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant captured the key city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and the Union Army defeated Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg; Gen. William Rosecrans managed to defeat Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg at Chattanooga, forcing the south out of middle Tennessee. But...

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The Sullivan Brothers

The Sullivan Brothers

Ever since the premiere of "Saving Private Ryan" in 1998, there's been a little bit of confusion around how and why the Army might want to pull one of its soldiers out of a combat zone, even if all of his many brothers were killed in combat.  During World War II, there were very few exemptions to the military draft. Most of the time, potential recruits were rejected for things like medical issues, having jobs critical to the war effort, or religious exemptions. It wasn't until after the war...

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Maj Kurt Chew-Een Lee, U.S. Marine Corps (1945-1968)

Maj Kurt Chew-Een Lee, U.S. Marine Corps (1945-1968)

Kurt Chew-Een Lee is believed to have been the first Asian-American officer in the Marine Corps, rising through the ranks beginning his career from World War II to the Vietnam War.  Lee was born in 1926 in San Francisco and grew up in Sacramento, California. Lee's father was M. Young Lee, born in Guangzhou (Canton), emigrating in the 1920s to the Territory of Hawaii and then California. Once established in America, M. Young Lee returned to China to honor an arranged marriage. He brought his...

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Famous Navy Unit: VFA-31 Tomcatters

Famous Navy Unit: VFA-31 Tomcatters

VFA-31 (Strike Fighter Squadron 31) is the second oldest Navy attack fighter squadron. Known as the Tomcatters with the call sign "Felix," it is currently based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, VA. It flies the F/A-18E Super Hornet. "V" stands for fixed wing, "F" stands for fighter, and "A" stands for attack. Chief Of Naval Operations Instruction (OPNAVINST) governs the squadron designation system. The Navy's oldest currently active squadron is VFA-14, and it has been...

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Backtracking in Brown Water by Rolland E. Kidder

Backtracking in Brown Water by Rolland E. Kidder

The market is flooded with books written about Vietnam. Many follow the same path in their storytelling, beginning with their youth, entry into the military, their war experiences, returning home, and how they feel today about that journey. This book does some of that, but it is different in more ways. The author takes us on a voyage spanning his wartime service as a U.S. Navy patrol boat officer in Vietnam's Mekong Delta to his recent return trip to Vietnam and finally, to the most poignant...

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VA Updates: Glad You Asked

VA Updates: Glad You Asked

During Veterans Month, I had the opportunity to brief several companies' Veteran groups about the benefits they earned from their military service. During my presentations, I provided a quick overview of all the benefits and then devoted three-quarters of the hour to answering questions from the attendees. I've found that answering questions enables me to provide more situation specific information and often suggest next steps they can take to receive their benefits. Inevitably, there are more...

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Sgt Jack Riley, U.S. Marine Corps (1966-1972)

Sgt Jack Riley, U.S. Marine Corps (1966-1972)

What personal and professional achievements from your Military service are you most proud of and why?:

Did each of us Marines in Vietnam have an impact on those in our charge? We follow all orders, doing our duty with the usual subordinate complaints of our being singled out again for something others should also be called upon to do. The common expression was being screwed by the green machine again. The platoon leader assigned combat patrols based on his and the platoon sergeant’s assessment of combined squad skills. Chief among those was whether the squad leader possessed the skills to accomplish the mission and safely return his men. “To safely return his men!” During Operation Prairie Three, March 30, 1967, I failed miserably to return with my men safely. Four of my Marines, plus two more who joined my squad on Hill 70, were killed that day and night. Two died from one mortar blast, and four died from bullets and shrapnel. Wounded three times myself, we were all hurting and vastly outnumbered. We never stopped fighting both the enemy and trying to cheat death. At battle’s end, while lying on a surgical gurney at the NSA, I felt like a total failure as a leader. We were victorious at the battle’s end, but six of my Marines did not safely return. More had experienced tour-ending severe wounds. So much for being a squared-away squad leader! I declined a recommendation for valor from my first sergeant. Losing six Marines does not warrant a medal! The guilt of those killed stayed with me for decades. I never spoke of Vietnam to my wife or siblings. I was invited to speak at events and did so only to recognize those brave men on Hill 70. I kept my shame to myself!

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Soldier and Writer
Lt Col Michael Christy (USA) Ret.

Many articles contained in this Blog were written by Together We Served’s former Chief Editor, Lt Col Michael Christy, and published in TWS’s Dispatches Newsletter.

Lt Col Christy’s military career spanned 26 years, beginning in 1956 when he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. Following two years active duty, he spent another two years in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. In 1962, he joined the Army National Guard and in 1966 was called up for active duty with the U.S. Army. After an 18 year distinguished Army career, Lt Col Christy retired from military service in 1984.
Lt Col Christy saw action in Vietnam with Special Forces Units, including the renowned Delta Force, and was awarded two Silver Stars, six Bronze Stars (three with Valor), and two Purple Hearts.
As a military consultant and accomplished writer, Lt Col Christy has contributed to several TV military documentaries, including those found on the History Channel, plus significant military history publications, including Vietnam Magazine.