The Christy Collection

Military Stories and Articles

Night Mission to Mogadishu by Trent LaLand

Night Mission to Mogadishu by Trent LaLand

While the United States military and coalition forces prepared for the imminent battle with Iraq's military forces, Operation Desert Storm, January of 1991, a second international crisis unfolded in the famine-stricken country of Somalia, where a full-scale bloody civil war erupted. Warlord General Mohammad Farah Aideed rebel forces were attempting to overthrow the Somali government. The fighting threatened Americans and Foreign diplomatic missions based in Mogadishu, Somalia, as the Somali...

read more
Was Mr. Rogers a Vietnam-Era Sniper?

Was Mr. Rogers a Vietnam-Era Sniper?

At some point in their military career, U.S. troops will likely hear the rumor that television's Mr. Rogers, host of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," was a death-dealing, hardcore Vietnam-era sniper in either the Army Special Forces, Navy SEALs, or the Marine Corps.  Fred Rogers and his past are just one more file to add to the mounting list of military myths and urban legends. It might be fun to think of a man as smart and wholesome as Fred Rogers picking off a North Vietnamese general or...

read more
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...

read more
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!

read more
Cpl Lyubov Shtrigel, U.S. Marine Corps (2009-2013)

Cpl Lyubov Shtrigel, U.S. Marine Corps (2009-2013)

What do you miss most about your time in the service and what made this especially significant to you?:

No one from my family approved nor even believed in me when I signed up for the Marine Corps in late spring of 2008 right around the time the recession hit. As a matter of fact, when it came time to attend the monthly poolie sessions in order to prepare me for bootcamp, my dad adamantly refused to take me there and wouldn’t budge no matter how much I pleaded with him. At that time I had no means of transportation and had just relocated to NC from CA after losing my 3 year job because the company I worked for had filed for bankruptcy. My dad stated that he was not going to contribute to his daughter’s death and that is what he believed would happen to me if I joined the military. His idea of the military was the one he was forced to enlist in 50 years prior as a Ukrainiaan in the Russian army where there were days the soldiers had nothing to subsist on but raw onion and stale black bread, not to mention so many other horrors he experienced there as well. Trying to explain the difference to my dad between his forced service in Russia half a century ago to my voluntary desire to serve in the United States was like talking to a brick wall, literally impossible. However, rather than giving up, I wanted to prove to him, to all of them, that I was my father’s daughter through and through and was made of harder stuff than what they thought I was made of…that I had what it takes to become a Marine and it was not going to necessarily end with my untimely death. Because when theres a will, there is a way, and I found that way.

read more
The Marine Corps Memorial

The Marine Corps Memorial

The Battle of Iwo Jima is one of the most important battles in the history of the Marine Corps. More than 26,000 United States Marines were killed or wounded for the strategically vital eight square miles of the island. It allowed the United States to attack the Japanese home islands from the air without warning and become the staging point for the coming invasion of Japan. It also came to define the modern Marine Corps. The image of Marines raising the flag on Mount Suribachi became the...

read more
Does the U.S. Military Really Use Saltpeter to Calm the Urges of Basic Trainees?

Does the U.S. Military Really Use Saltpeter to Calm the Urges of Basic Trainees?

This old legend might be the first military myth new recruits come across, and it might have been around for as long as saltpeter itself. Despite the combined efforts of science, health education, and common sense, somehow, the myth of the military adding saltpeter to the food or beverages in basic training still persists.  History with Using Nitrated Sodium Salts Why would the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, or Marine Corps do such a thing? The legend says they would add saltpeter to...

read more
Make Peace or Die by Charles Daly

Make Peace or Die by Charles Daly

As many readers of the Dispatches Newsletter might be aware, "Make Peace or Die" is the motto of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. For Charles Daly, it became a regular choice he would have to make, time and again, over the course of his entire life.  "Make Peace or Die: A Life of Service, Leadership, and Nightmares" is everything the name promises it to be. At times terrifying, the book is always engrossing and descriptive. It’s one of the finest personal recollections of the Korean War...

read more
Sgt James M. Logan, U.S. Army (1936-1945)

Sgt James M. Logan, U.S. Army (1936-1945)

Texas native James M. Logan was the embodiment of the U.S. military's greatest tactical weapon: its Non-Commissioned Officer Corps. Every branch has some kind of saying about NCOs. They're the backbone of the Air Force, they lead the way in the Army, and in the Marine Corps, they wear special swords.  If you want to see how poorly an armed force without NCOs performs in combat, just look at how the Russians are doing in Ukraine. The Heroic Journey of Sgt. James M. Logan Sgt. James M....

read more
Korean War – The Pusan Perimeter

Korean War – The Pusan Perimeter

In the early days of the Korean War, things looked pretty bleak for the American and South Korean forces in the Korean Peninsula. The sudden Communist advance across the 38th parallel took the allies by complete surprise, and despite stiff resistance, North Korean troops almost pushed the U.S. and South Korea into the Sea of Japan. Those defenders fell back into a 140-mile battle line around the port city of Pusan (now Busan) at the southeastern tip of the peninsula. They determined that...

read more
The Hauntings of Okinawa

The Hauntings of Okinawa

There are many historical military places where you can experience ghostly specters, cold spells, and reports of things moving around all by themselves. Ghostly cavalry forces still protect F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming. Houses on Fort Leavenworth feature terrifying child ghosts. Baltimore's Fort McHenry is a veritable who's who of the afterlife, with reports of people seeing Abraham Lincoln, Edgar Allen Poe, and even Chief Black Hawk.  Nowhere in the U.S. military,...

read more
Women Pilots in WWII: The Original Fly Girls

Women Pilots in WWII: The Original Fly Girls

Women have been involved in aviation from the beginnings of both lighter-than air travel and as airplanes, helicopters and space travel were developed. Women pilots were also formerly called "aviatrices". During World War II, women from every continent helped with war efforts and though mostly restricted from military flight many of the female pilots flew in auxiliary services. Americans Refused to Believe the War Was Inevitable Like most Americans in the late 1930s, President Franklin...

read more