Sunday, September 08, 2019

Does Sacrifices of Our Troops Mean Anything?

We all hear and say it, “thank you for your service” to Veterans and active duty Military. I’m sure most actually mean it when said, but do people actually understand what sacrifices our Troops have made over the years?

If so, why are those sacrifices so easily cast aside as if they hold no meaning?

What do I mean?

Think about it. Shortly after the Allies complete victory in World War Two, we saw the battles flare up again in Korea where Communist Forces of the North decided to conquer the South and impose total Communism in the country. American Troops sacrificed close to 34,000 dead with thousand coming back scared with wounds both physical and mental.

The Vietnam War saw us sacrifice over 58,000 lives with thousands more maimed for life.

The first Gulf War, Desert Storm saw almost 150 deaths of American Troops, but again, thousands left with lifelong issues, both physical and mental.

Then comes the War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq after the horrific attacks witnessed on September 11, 2001 and still ongoing with again over 7,000 Troops paying the ultimate sacrifice and thousands more suffering from debilitating wounds and mental issues.

Needless to say, our Service Members have paid a high cost for us to remain free.

So why is it so easy to cast their sacrifices aside?

By that I mean take a look at the ending of the above conflicts, even today’s ongoing conflict against Terrorists.

We left Korea under a cease fire agreement that although the heavy fighting ended in 1953, animosities continued over the years. America put that war aside and got on with their lives, the Korean War becoming known also as “the Forgotten War” as accolades were paid to WWII battles and Troops.

Along comes Vietnam and the subsequent escalation into a full blown war, complete with battles, firefights and body counts reported nightly on American television. We left it under the “Paris Peace Accords” in 1973 with promises of if the North Vietnamese Communists violated the accords, we would return to ensure the South Vietnamese remained free.

We reneged on that promise as the North did violate the accords multiples times, concluding in all out invasion in 1975 as the American Congress and citizens turned a blind eye to the plight of the Vietnamese people and we saw on television Communist tanks break down the gates of the Presidential Palace while American Diplomatic staff tried desperately to escape from rooftops on helicopters, untold numbers of sympathetic South Vietnamese left to their own devices, trapped under the Communist Forces.

Few in America gave a damn.

Fast forward to Desert Storm and again, we committed Troops to repel Iraqi Saddam Hussein’s Troops after they invaded neighboring Kuwait. As we know, they were ejected and the conflict ended again with a Cease Fire agreement.

Throughout the 1990’s, under the B.J. Clinton administration, Saddam Hussein repeatedly violated the terms the Cease Fire and was met with a couple Cruise Missile reprisals and political rhetoric stated in television speeches by Clinton.

Saddam continued supporting terror unhindered and seeking Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Then came September 11, 2001 and the most horrific terrorist attack in history as highjacked aircraft were flowed into the World Trade Center buildings, the Pentagon and another forcibly crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, taken over by passengers, destination unknown, but believed by many to be the White House or Congress.

Many called for President Bush to immediately retaliate, some believing Saddam Hussein’s involvement that ultimately proved untrue in this particular instance. Bush held them back with his famous comment, “When I take action, I’m not gonna fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It’s going to be decisive.”

And it was decisive as after the Afghani Taliban refused to oust Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden from their midst, our Troops were sent in.

Shortly after as Afghanistan looked to be coming under control, the decision was made to implement the Clinton era policy of deposing Saddam Hussein and ridding his support of terrorists and providing safe haven for some.

Even though a policy signed by President Clinton in 1998, it was opposed by many Democrats who continued their opposition even after our Troops were sent in and largely successful after many bloody battles and sacrifices. With Saddam deposed and eventually executed by hanging, Iraq appeared on the road to better lives for most citizens and late 2007 began seeing a drawdown of American Troops, President Obama ordering a complete withdrawal of our Troops by 2011.

Obama, having ignored calls of withdrawing too soon, ended up having to send our Troops back to Iraq in 2014 as a renewed Jihadist enemy, now labeled ISIS began taking territory and establishing a very harsh ‘caliphate’ in Northern Iraq and beyond.



Afghanistan too saw a resurgence of Jihadist even though Osama bin Laden was killed. The Taliban began reasserting themselves in the region and reclaiming Afghani territory.

Now, we read of President Trump making overtures to the Taliban and setting up secret negotiations, now cancelled after a Taliban attack in Afghanistan killed several, including a US Soldier.

Whatever happened to our policy of not negotiating with terror groups?

While I do not support endless war, whatever happened to fighting for Victory over ‘how do we get out of it?’

Soldiers from the Korean War were forgotten. Soldiers from the Vietnam War were despised and demoralized seeing their hard fought sacrifices for naught as we handed the freedoms of the South Vietnamese to the brutality of Communists on a silver platter.

In Iraq, we crowed victory, Obama claiming, “After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over,” only to see renewed fighting and our Troops reengaging enemies in the Middle East.

I’m sure Trump would love to run for reelection in 2020 as the President that got us out of Afghanistan. But at what cost?

How many experiences do we need to see these negotiations and withdrawals make a mockery of the sacrifices made by our Troops as our enemies wait a short spell and renew their attacks, believing with good cause, we will capitulate and ignore their hostilities?

I’ve said before, I was still in the Army when Saigon fell in 1975. I had spent 19 months in Vietnam and knew we had promised to return if there were violations of the Peace Accords. The evening of April 30, 1975 saw me and rest of my company sitting on our gear in the company area in Ft. Bragg, N.C. just waiting on the orders to load up and deploy back to Vietnam.

The orders never came and were sent home where I too watched TV broadcast of the embarrassing actions of American escaping from roof tops and helicopters being pushed over the side of their aircraft carrier to make room.

I could only think, “Why was I ever sent there? Why did over 58,000 of my brothers sacrifice their lives only to see us hand it over to our sworn enemy?”

We did everything asked of us then. Troops today have done everything they have been asked to do as well.

Will there sacrifices be cast aside as easily as was ours, only to see the enemy they fought be given back power to enslave people again while Americans ignore it all and go shopping?

What good is it to say “Thank you for your service” if you are not willing to support the high price of the sacrifices made?

Why hold Memorial Day parades if those sacrifices are thrown away and cast aside as if nothing?

And to our elected officials I can only say if you are unwilling to support our Troops, whether you voted to deploy them or not, don’t send us into Harm’s Way.

Don’t seek photo ops with us to gain votes for reelection after you dishonor our sacrifices by voting to capitulate to an enemy.

If you cannot support our Troops being victorious over always wanting an exit strategy first, don’t send us.

Our sacrifices must have value too, just as our fathers and grandfathers sacrifices in the previous wars did.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Do We Really Need Separate Veteran’s Days?



Does every group that has served in the Military get to have an official Veterans Day dedicated solely to them now, as some Women Veterans now seem to want?

Oregon joins 3 other states marking June 12 as ‘Women Veterans Day’

Does this mean they will no longer be part of the November 11 recognition that they have been? Or do they receive special treatment and recognition with multiple days of honor others aren’t entitled to?

Do we set a special date to recognize Black Veterans, Native American Veterans, Gay Veterans or Foreign National Veterans that crossed borders to serve in our Military?

What about former WWII Nazi’s that joined in our Military to serve our nation after the war, such as the former Waffen SS soldier turned Green Beret currently buried in Arlington Cemetery?

Should we reach back in time to hold special honors to former Confederate soldiers that enlisted in the U.S. Military after the Civil War and fought for America in battles?

What about Draftees that were conscripted to serve and did not willingly enlist? Will they merit some special recognition some feel denied?

A Veteran is a Veteran, regardless of race, gender or even nationality, if they served in our Military. All served and all are due respect and honor for their service. Equal respect and honor!

One of the aspects of Military service I recall was the efforts to remove all notion of separateness in Basic, all of us being equal in training and treatment, right down to shaving off our hair and sending all civilian clothes we wore to the Army back home.

Yes, historically some have been barred from serving in a capacity they might have wanted to.

In the early days of the Civil War, Frederick Douglass penned an essay, “Fighting Rebels With Only One Hand” complaining of Blacks not being allowed to serve in the Union Army, when there were Blacks armed in the South.

Sometime later they were permitted to serve and served with distinction, as seen with the Buffalo Soldiers. However, they were not permitted to serve alongside White Soldiers, which remained in place until the mid 20th century.

Women have served as well and even though barred from combat service before, some have sacrificed their lives and others have taken up arms if need be.

We fully recognize that women have traditionally played an important role in our defense and it was only of late they were granted the right to be recognized and honored alongside the men, which is what I have thought the goal was, to be treated equally as the men that served.

But is it really equal that they be granted a special day of recognition others are not included in?

And as I asked above, what about the others honored on November 11? Are they now to be granted a special day just for themselves, above and beyond the rest?

Is there a legitimate reason to drive a wedge between Veterans by granting a special day to just a few?

We’re all Veterans and accepted as such, even though society is still adjusting to having female warriors. We stand together, shoulder to shoulder, side by side on Veteran’s Day as is seen today on the battle fields.

In the end I fear this special day for women Veterans will see a backlash come November 11 as those that have been opposed to women serving all along will discount recognizing them alongside their brothers at Veterans Day recognition, claiming they already had their day.

Many of us welcomed women into our ranks over the years. Even most that were initially opposed have come to accept women in more traditional male roles. Don’t spit in our faces now by declaring yourselves somehow more deserving or entitled to special recognition above and beyond the rest.

My apologies to all of you women not wishing to participate in this extra day and speaking out against it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Vietnam Plus Fifty

Recently I acknowledged on facebook of the date, February 6, 1969, the 50th anniversary of my entering the U.S. Army. Looking back it’s hard to believe that was actually 50 years ago, just a few months after my 20th birthday.

As I have said to others many times over the years, I enlisted after earlier receiving my draft notice, hoping to receive training in the “job of my choice” instead of automatically being placed into the infantry and shipped off to Vietnam, as my career Army cousin had told me would most likely have happened if drafted.

As luck would have it, on July 13, 1969 I landed at Bien Hoa Airbase in South Vietnam after completing training in my “job of choice” in helicopters from Ft. Eustis, Virginia.

Like most men that I served with, I believed in what we were sent over there to do and did not approve of the actions of the few that seemed to draw the headlines back in the U.S. claiming day to day atrocities and mayhem.

Although aware before going over of the anti-war factions hating on military members, I was naive enough to consider them in the minority. Perhaps they were, but upon my return from Vietnam, they felt like a majority of American citizens that held us in disdain for serving in the military and trying to fight for the freedoms of the South Vietnamese people.

I’m not going to go into the war itself, it still be hashed over whether or not we should have been there, past leaders that sent us there back then today claiming they knew all along they were sending us off on a losing proposition and it being they without the stomach to support us in what they sent us to do.

No, that will continue to be debated well after I am dead and buried and likely never actually agreed upon.

What I do intend to address is how so many of us were given little regard upon return by society in general. And no, not everybody engaged in such fashion and not everyone was “spat upon” physically when returning, but in a sense, all of us were spat upon in a more emotional sense as we were labeled “baby killers,” “trained killers,” “monsters trained in violence” and largely had much of the blame for society’s ills placed at our feet, especially the growing drug problem.

Sadly, American society seems to have issues with returning veterans once the fighting is over and we return to the country we loved enough to place our lives on the line for.

World War One saw the U.S. Government send troops to attack some Veterans seeking financial promises during the Great Depression in what is known as the Bonus Army. Saddest of it all, Officers we held in highest regard for leadership in the coming World War Two led the charge against these Veterans as some were killed and many others injured, falsely accused of subversion by General Douglas MacArthur who claimed, “They had come to the conclusion that they were going to take over the government in an arbitrary way or by indirect means.”

Most of us ‘baby boomers’ grew up holding Veterans of World War Two in high regard, seeing movies and early TV shows portray them as heroic and patriotic. What we were too young to realize was they too were initially held in low regard as many that did not serve feared losing their jobs to returning Veterans and the women enlisted to work the factory’s and manufacture the tools of war were being told to go home now and let then men resume earning the paychecks. It was brought to light in the 1946 movie, the Best Years of Our Lives.

In 1950 we saw our Military sent off once again to a foreign land to oppose the spread of Communism in South Korea. Overshadowed by both World War Two and Vietnam, as well as media censorship, it became known as the “Forgotten War” as little was said about it as through the 1950’s, World War Two continued to be glorified in movies with the Korean War relegated back to a handful of ‘B movies.”

And of course, we all know how the conflict in Vietnam came to dominate the news media as the public was treated to nightly “reports” during dinner in living color with little censorship lots of bloody scenes and body counts.

Most of us serving there knew the reporting wasn’t very accurate and this can be attested to by a story given in a speech by former Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Frederick C. Weyand;

“After Tet [of 68], General Westmoreland sent Walter Cronkite out to interview me. I was in Command of the Forces in the South around Saigon and below and I was proud of what we'd done. We had done a good job there. So, Walter came down and he spent about an hour and a half interviewing me. And when we got done, he said, ‘well you've got a fine story. But I'm not going to use any of it because I've been up to Hue. I've seen the thousands of bodies up there in mass graves and I'm determined to do all in my power to bring this war to an end as soon as possible’.”

“It didn't seem to matter that those thousands of bodies were of South Vietnamese citizens who had been killed by the Hanoi soldiers and Walter wasn't alone in this because I think many in the media mirrored his view.”

It wasn’t long after that Cronkite made his now famous “we can’t win” broadcast

Soon the public began hearing of the atrocity of My Lai and subsequent trial of Lt. Calley as more and more the public was led to believe actions as that were condoned by both the troops and our leaders. It wasn’t.

What media never bothered to add to their reports was the actions of a lone helicopter pilot and his crew in bringing the carnage of that day to an end.

It would be many years before the public heard of the heroic actions of Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson and his crew who served and acted as did the majority of U.S. Servicemen there.

Since the Gulf War and War on Terror, the public has repeatedly heard “never again” uttered as we see returning troops honored, applauded in airports and given both the support and appreciation they deserve and have earned. Few realize though, that is due in large part to aging Vietnam Veterans who recall the catcalls and demeaning acts we endured upon return, many trying to hide the fact they were soldiers when possible.

If ever there was a more despicable time for soldiers serving their country, I don’t know when it would have been. To this I refer readers to an open letter authored several years to all Vietnam Veterans by a young lady caught up in the anti-military hysteria of the day expressing her regret.

Today, most people have stopped looking down on us as they did back then, but not all. There are still many who feel they were in the right and actually accomplished something by taking out their aggressions and frustrations on soldiers. Many of that particular group feel they “stopped the war” when in fact they prolonged it by some five years and thousands more American lives lost, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese lives.

March 29, 1973 saw the last American troops departing South Vietnam as agreed upon by the ill fated Paris Peace Accords that the Communist North Vietnamese soon began violating as promises of aid and support from the U.S. should they violate the accords fell by the wayside, April 30, 1975 seeing the capitol of South Vietnam fall to the Communist North, leaving many of us wondering just what were we sent to do if we were just going to hand it to the Commies so easily after so many American sacrifices.

Some of us felt violated, wasted and sold out, our youth stolen from us over there as too often draft dodgers and anti-military protesters seemed to be held up in esteem as we continued to be subjects of scorn and ridicule in TV But much of shows and movies. Even efforts to honor us in some movies fell flat as we ended up being portrayed as PTSD afflicted misfits unable to handle a simple rejection or hold a job until we deal with our particular ‘demons.’

The First Blood series and the 1985 movie Cease Fire are prime examples, the latter being one I was once told was a “must see” for every Vietnam Veteran. It wasn’t.

But even that fell by the wayside as the years rolled on and we once again sent our troops off to foreign soil to fight and now the leadership of the Military was often Vietnam Veterans that corrected the poor leadership seen during the Vietnam conflict and we aging Vietnam Veterans that left the military led the way in supporting our troops now.

March 29 is now officially designated as NATIONAL VIETNAM WAR VETERANS DAY and as an overdue salute for all that served back then.

I salute all who are wearing or have worn the uniform of any of our branches of the military service.

I encourage readers to reach out to any Veterans you may know and if they served in Vietnam, give them a heartfelt “welcome home.”

Friday, January 18, 2019

Will Trump & Pelosi Destroy What’s Left of the U.S.?

In the early 1970’s, Scottish rock band, Stealers Wheel released a song, Stuck in the Middle containing the lyrics, “Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, here I am, Stuck in the middle with you.”

Who would have ever guessed that those lyrics would today provide the perfect representation of the current state of affairs in the United States of America?

Yes, this ongoing political feud over securing our Southern Border between President Trump and recently reinstalled Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi has brought about the longest government shutdown in our history with no end in sight and the left-leaning media fawning all over Pelosi, condemning Trump and crying the blues over how tough it is for furloughed Government Union workers.

Missing of course, is media outrage over the porosity of the Southern Border or calls for Pelosi and the Democrats to actually work to resolve the issue, even though they and the Republicans have for decades now told us how they intend to provide Border Security.

Trump wants to have more wall built along the Southern Border and Pelosi wants to ensure Trump is defeated in 2020 and a Democrat elected.

And we citizens are stuck in the middle as more and more, sides are chosen and nothing gets done as dire warnings of looming catastrophe permeate the news cycles.

As readers recall, I am not a fan of Trump, but in this instance I do lean towards his effort of constructing more wall along the Southern Border, even though I don’t really like the idea very much.

I don’t care for it due to one of the jobs I had in the Army was flying the border separating Western Germany with Eastern Germany and Czechoslovakia and patrolling the fence separating the nations. Yes, in the early 1970’s, before the collapse of the Communist Soviet Union, there was a physical fence erected not to keep people out, but to keep people in and manned by armed guards in towers ready to shoot anybody trying to exit the country along the fence.


In spite of my personal misgivings, I am at a loss as to what else can deter the influx of illegal immigration along the Southern Border and the problems it brings with it.

After all, how many decades now have members of both parties been giving us lip service on how they plan to deal with illegal immigration, pour Billions of dollars of our hard earned taxes into border issues and we have yet to see it decreasing?

1986 saw an amnesty deal struck with the promise of it would curtail illegal immigration. It didn’t and we saw it increase.

Since then we have had several proposals and bills passed into law to deal with the problem, including the Secure Fence Act of 2006 that saw some Democrats today opposing any fence or wall supporting a fence and wall back then.

Even the media was crying about a Border Crisis before, but now it suddenly no longer is?

I hear reports and calls of pending TSA strikes to further cripple the country and cause hardship of the populace during this shutdown.

But unions’ representing furloughed federal workers is apparently not doing anything to help those workers, instead trying to seek unemployment or food stamps.

So we enter a shutdown of nonessential government and suddenly, it becomes a catastrophe. Not the border mind you, but that federal employees have been furloughed that somehow, even though union employees with generous paychecks and benefits, are suddenly starving, unable to meet their responsibilities, can’t afford medical care, missing mortgage payments amid reports of life as we know it will soon end if Trump doesn’t back down.

Why only Trump?

What confuses me, I’m 70 years old, retired on social security and have a monetary reserve that with little effort would carry me a good six months if need be. That and I never earned more than $40K in a single year, but managed to hold some back for a rainy day.

And government has lectured us how long on saving and managing our resources?

And the feud goes on. Pelosi requests Trump to postpone giving the State of the Union speech and Trump postpones a flight on Military aircraft for her and other Democrats to the Middle East. Pelosi cries foul, of course and blames Trump for leaking word of the trip and breeching security.

But in spite of past claims she made on securing the border, she stiffens her back to prevent just that.



This is getting ridiculous. We’ve had border issues for several decades and have only received lip service as illegal immigrants continue to cross the borders. With them come gang members, criminals, drugs and even sex trafficking. And yes, many are decent people just seeking a better life. But is it really better if they ignore our laws to get here?

We have no way of knowing if any carry disease or are smuggling weapons or drugs when they cross. We do know over the years they have cost taxpayers more than they have contributed, as was reported in a 2012 NBC Affiliate Series.

As previously said, I don’t care for the idea of a wall, but I remain at a loss of what else could be done to curtail much of the illegal immigration along the Southern Border. We’ve received lip service far too long from both parties and elected officials and little has worked in getting it under control.

It’s time Trump and Pelosi both, as well as other so-called leaders to put egos aside, sit down and if not a physical wall, come up with a plan to deal with the problem.

Maybe too they could discover how to deal with problem in the other areas where illegal immigration occurs, but let’s get the Southern Border under control first.

It’s on them to end this ego driven feud on both of their parts and work it out. Come up with a real solution, not more of the same lip service we’ve been fed all of these decades.

Do it while we still have a country.

UPDATE I: Shouldn’t they be willing to at least hear the proposal before rejecting it? Democrats signal they'll reject Trump shutdown proposal

UPDATE II: CNN reporting Donald Trump caved. And now the government is going to re-open.