STORIES FROM OUR MEMBERS

 


"Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. 
Protect them as they protect us.  Bless them
and their families for the selfless acts they
perform for us in our time of need.  I ask this
in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
Amen."


Reprinted from The Middletown Press

 

MIDDLETOWN — A well-known Vietnam veteran who has won countless awards will be honored next week at the Capitol for his commitment to members of the armed services and advocating for their rightful benefits.

American Legion Post 75 Commander Larry Riley is one of nine Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame inductees, seven of whom are legionnaires. “A state award for doing something you love doing? That just knocked me off my feet,” he said.

“It blew me away” when he learned of the honor, Riley said. “People tell me, ‘You deserve it.’ But I don’t think I did all that much.” Still, Riley acknowledged, “It’s just amazing.”

Riley, who will be inducted Dec. 7, was the post’s first African-American leader. He was notified of his selection about a month ago. Tammy Marzik and his friend Karen Uberti, a member of the the city’s Jewish War Veterans, nominated him for the award.

The state hall of fame recognize current or former state residents who have worn the uniform of the nation’s armed forces, performed their military duties and then continued to contribute to community, state and nation in an exemplary manner. These outstanding contributions may, for example, be in the areas of professional, civic, veterans’ advocacy, or political or contributions over the life of the nominee, according to the organization.

“Everybody that goes into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame has a military background. Generally speaking, it’s what you did after the military and what your commitment is to the community, and times you’ve gone above and beyond your service,” said fellow Vietnam veteran Phil Cacciola, who spent 30 years in the service. “Larry has been a role model for young men and women of color. We went through an awful lot coming back during that time, and we know that it’s not the reception young men and women should be getting today.”

In 2017, Cacciola, former American Legion commander, was the first Middletown resident to be inducted. Like Riley, his mission is to ensure each veteran is treated fairly and receives their due benefits.

“It’s a tough time for young men and women coming back from the war zone with jobs, family, children, school, PTSD,” Cacciola said. “They need all the support they can get. I think Larry and the guys we are associated with really carry that forward.”

Riley was co-project leader in the development of the commemorative mural installed in City Hall, which recognizes the 50th anniversary of the country’s participation in the Vietnam War in late 2016.

Riley said he feels very fortunate to be part of a veteran-friendly community in Middletown and the surrounding area.

“It makes it easier for us to do our job, and my job is to make sure veterans find out about the benefits they have coming, and nobody coming home from these recent wars has to go through what we went through coming back from Vietnam,” he said.

Returning soldiers commonly endured ill will. Many were called “baby killers,” spit upon and treated with disrespect.

“The stigma and all the names they called us, it was just horrible. It was horrible to come back. We didn’t talk about the war at all, and that hurt us because we had no way of venting, no place to go (for support),” Riley said.

Riley worked security for the state of Connecticut, then took a job in Washington, D.C., working with the U.S. Secret Service as part of the Explosive Detector Team, according to his nominators.

Ken McLellan, curator of the Greater Middletown Military Museum, called Riley very deserving.

“It doesn’t matter what color your skin is or where you were raised,” McLellan said. “If you served in the military, you are a veteran and that’s what matters. That’s what I really admire about Larry. He’s all over the place. He’s involved in everything.”

Riley was instrumental in helping get the baseball game concession stand at Palmer Field up and running, he said. Proceeds from the sale of snacks allow the Legion to buy uniforms and equipment for the players.

“The players and their families don’t have to pony up money in order to play baseball. With his work, with the coaches, along with Phil Cacciola, they’ve been able to expand to four teams,” McLellan said.

Middletown is distinguished by having a Council of Veterans, which has representation from every one of the city’s many veterans organizations, including the American Legion Post 206, Catholic War Veterans Post 1166, Veterans of the Vietnam War of Middletown, Veterans of Foreign Wars posts 583 and 1840 and Daughters of American Veterans Chapter 7.

“It gives us a good starting point so we’re all on the same page,” Riley said.

It is also home to the Greater Middletown Military Museum, expected to open after 13 years of effort, in early spring.

The council runs the city’s Memorial Day parade, and members are caretakers for various American flags flying across Middletown, repairing and replacing them when necessary.

During the two weeks preceding and following Veterans Day this year, Riley and other veterans visited about seven schools, talking to youth about the flag.

“It was just amazing,” he said. “Each year, it seems like more schools are getting added to our program. It also helps out the kids. There are not that many veterans in families anymore.”

Members of these groups also make sure veterans whose cremains are unclaimed are buried in the state cemetery in Middletown. Some families find the process of appealing to probate court too laborious and are grateful for help from local veterans who want their fellow soldiers’ remains laid to rest.

“We want to make sure when they bring them up to the cemetery that we have a bunch of veterans up there to send them off to make sure they’re not buried alone without family and friends,” Riley said.

The ceremony will be held Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. at the Legislative Office Building Atrium in Hartford. The event is free and open to the public.
 


5 CONFLICT MONUMENT
5 Conflict Memorial-Middletown



On MMay 24, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. The Middletown Council of Veterans & VFW Post 583 proudly unveiled the 5 Conflict Monument on Veterans Green in Middletown, honoring those who have served in the 5 major conflicts since Vietnam: Desert Storm, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan. Donations from all the Middletown veterans groups, CVMA 31-1, and Valhalla MC Connecticut, along with many others, made this possible. This monument was placed alongside the other monuments on Veterans Green (between Washington St./Rt. 66, and Washington Terrace). This is the only known monument of its kind, honoring the brave men & women who have fought and are still fighting for freedom since Vietnam.   (VVW member Mike Rogalsky at podium)


 



The Coffelt Database of Vietnam casualties
http://www.coffeltdatabase.org/
 


William C. Fritsch, 95, passed away quietly Tuesday afternoon on December 18, 2012. His family was at his bedside. He had been a resident of Apple Rehab of Colchester, for the past three years. He was loved and cared for by the staff there for his sparkling eyes and winning smile. Mr. Fritsch was previously a long time resident of Cromwell, CT for over 45 years as well as Portland for close to 20 years.
He was predeceased by the love of his life Mary, who he was married to for 68 years, and also by a son Thomas, USMC, killed in Vietnam. Mr. Fritsch served in the
U.S. Navy for 7 years, 3 years during WW II. He served both in the European Theater and South Pacific. He was proud to be aboard the USS Missouri when the peace treaty was signed.

He was very active in the Knights of Columbus in the 3rd and 4th degree. Life Member of 4th Degree Color Corp. He was a member of the
Elks Lodge of Middletown, #771 as well as The American Legion Post 105 and VFW 583. He was a member of St. John's Church in Cromwell since 1965. He worked a Colt's Firearms and retired from Northeast Utilities in 1979 after 34 years as a Shift Supervisor in the Control Room.
He is survived by his daughter's and two son's. Gloria & Dean Thomas of California, Patricia Fritsch of Colchester, CT, William & Bonnie Fritsch of Texas and Steven & Kimberly Fritsch of Cromwell, CT. He also leaves his grandchildren, Lauren and Chelsey Fritsch of Cromwell and Shawn & Wendy DeFelice of Marlborough, CT. One great grandson, Khanur DeFelice of Marlborough, CT. He also leaves a sister-in-law , Marge Johansen of East Windsor and many nieces and nephews, all who he loved very much.  He will be deeply missed. May he rest in peace.

Arrangements are being handled by Rose Hill Funeral Home, Elm St. in Rocky Hill, CT. Calling hours will be 4-7 pm Friday, December 21st at the Funeral Home. A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at St. John's Church in Cromwell, CT , on Saturday morning 10 am. please go directly to the church. Burial will follow mass at Rose Hill Cemetery. In lieu of flowers the family asked that donations be made in memory to the "Thomas W. Fritsch Memorial Scholarship Fund" and sent in c/o Patricia Fritsch 4 Waterhole Rd., Colchester, CT 06415



Vietnam Wall

http://www.virtualwall.org/iStates.htm


First click on a state. When it opens, scroll down to the city and the names will appear. Then click on their names. It should show you a picture of the person, or at least their bio and medals.


This really is an amazing web site. Someone spent a lot of time and effort to create it.


I hope that everyone who receives this appreciates what those who served in Vietnam sacrificed for our country.


The link is a virtual wall of all those lost during the Vietnam war with the names, bio's and other information on our lost heroes. Those who remember that time frame, or perhaps lost friends or family can look them up on this site. Pass the link on to others, as many knew wonderful people whose names are listed.


 


GOOD BYE VIET NAM

Goodbye Viet Nam

Great Video on Youtube
 


A Thank You to all Vietnam Vets from a Marine in Iraq

 
A guy gets time to think over here and I was thinking about all the support we get from home. Sometimes it's overwhelming. We get care packages at times faster than we can use them. There are boxes and boxes of toiletries and snacks lining the center of every tent; the generosity has been amazing. So, I was pondering the question: "Why do we have so much support?"

In my opinion, it all came down to one thing: Vietnam Veterans. I think we learned a lesson, as a nation, that no matter what, you have to support the troops who are on the line, who are risking everything. We treated them so poorly back then. When they returned was even worse. The stories are nightmarish of what our returning warriors were subjected to. It is a national scar, a blemish on our country, an embarrassment to all of us.

After Vietnam , it had time to sink in. The guilt in our collective consciousness grew. It shamed us. However, we learned from our mistake. Somewhere during the late 1970's and on into the 80's, we realized that we can't treat our warriors that way. So ... starting during the Gulf War, when the first real opportunity arose to stand up and support the troops, we did. We did it to support our friends and family going off to war. But we also did it to right the wrongs from the Vietnam era. We treat our troops of today like the heroes they were, and are, acknowledge and celebrate their sacrifice, and rejoice at their homecoming ... instead of spitting on them.

And that support continues today for those of us in Iraq . Our country knows that it must support us and it does. The lesson was learned in Vietnam and we are all better because of it.

Everyone who has gone before is a hero. They are celebrated in my heart. I think admirably of all those who have gone before me. From those who fought to establish this country in the late 1770's to those I serve with here in Iraq . They have all sacrificed to ensure our freedom. But when I get back home, I'm going to make it a personal mission to specifically thank every Vietnam Vet I encounter for THEIR sacrifice. Because if nothing else good came from that terrible war, one thing did. It was the lesson learned on how we treat our warriors. We as a country learned from our mistake and now we treat our warriors as heroes, as we should have all along. I am the beneficiary of their sacrifice. Not only for the freedom they, like veterans from other wars, ensured, but for how well our country now treats my fellow Marines and I. We are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice.

Semper Fidelis,

Major Brian P. Bresnahan
United States Marine Corps

 





THANK A VETERAN, TODAY! 
REMEMBER OUR...POW  MIA'S

Let us not forget, that...... since before 1776
and continuing until this very day........many brave young souls have fought and
died..... that we might have the freedom to celebrate, grill hotdogs and hamburger,
drink Budweiser and shoot fireworks, without a seconds thought....after all....it is
our right.  A right bought with their life's blood.


This is eleven minutes long.  Worth every second.  Patriots, get your hanky ready!
 
Folks,

Killed in action the week before, the body of Staff Sergeant First Class John C.
Beale was returned to Falcon Field in Peachtree City , Georgia , just south of
Atlanta , on June 11, 2009. The Henry County Police Department escorted the
procession to the funeral home in McDonough , Georgia . A simple notice in local
papers indicated the road route to be taken and the approximate time. This was
filmed during the procession by a State Trooper.


Nowadays one can be led to believe that America no longer respects honor and no
longer honors sacrifice outside the military. Be it known that there are many places
in this land where people still recognize the courage and impact of total
self-sacrifice. Georgia remains  one of those graceful places. The link below is a
short travelogue of that day's remarkable and painful journey. But only watch this
if you wish to have some of your faith in people restored. Please share widely.
 
http://blip.tv/play/AYGJ5h6YgmE



 


TAPS



If any of you have ever been to a military funeral in which taps was played; this
brings out a new meaning of it.
 
Here is something Every American should know. Until I read this, I didn't know, but
I checked it out and it's true:

We in the  United States  have all heard the haunting song, 'Taps.' It's the song
that gives us the lump in our throats and usually tears in our eyes.

But, do you know the story behind the song?  If not, I think you will be interested
to find out about its humble beginnings.

Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain
Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison's Landing in  Virginia  .  The
Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land.
 
During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely
wounded on the field.  Not knowing if it was a  Union  or Confederate soldier, the
Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical
attention.. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the
stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment.

When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a
Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.

The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock.
 In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had
been studying music in the South when the war broke out.  Without telling his
father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to
give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status. His request was only
partially granted.
The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral
dirge for his son at the funeral.
The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate.

But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician.

The Captain chose a bugler.  He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes
he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform.


This wish was granted.


The haunting melody, we now know as 'Taps' used at military funerals was born.
 

The words are:

Day is done.
Gone the sun.
From the lakes  
From the hills.  
From the sky.
All is well.  
Safely rest.  
God is nigh.

Fading light.
Dims the sight.
And a star.
Gems the sky.
Gleaming bright.  
From afar.  
Drawing nigh.  
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise.  
For our days.  
Neath the sun  
Neath the stars.  
Neath the sky
As we go.
This we know.  
God is night

 
I too have felt the chills while listening to 'Taps' but I have never seen all the
words to the song until now.  I didn't even know there was more than one verse .  I
also never knew the story behind the song and I didn't know if you had either so I
thought I'd pass it along.


I now have an even deeper respect for the song than I did before.
 



"WHAT IS A VIETNAM VETERAN?"

A college student posted a request on an internet news group asking
for personal narratives from the likes of us addressing the
question: "What is a Vietnam Veteran?" This is what I wrote back:

[Author Unknown]
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

Vietnam veterans are men and women. We are dead or alive, whole or
maimed, sane or haunted. We grew from our experiences or we were
destroyed by them or we struggle to find some place in between. We
lived through hell or we had a pleasant, if scary, adventure. We were
Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Red Cross, and civilians of all
sorts. Some of us enlisted to fight for God and Country, and some
were drafted. Some were gung-ho, and some went kicking and screaming.

Like veterans of all wars, we lived a tad bit--or a great bit--closer
to death than most people like to think about. If Vietnam vets differ
from others, perhaps it is primarily in the fact that many of us
never saw the enemy or recognized him or her. We heard gunfire and
mortar fire but rarely looked into enemy eyes. Those who did, like
folks who encounter close combat anywhere and anytime, are often
haunted for life by those eyes, those sounds, those electric fears
that ran between ourselves, our enemies, and the likelihood of death
for one of us. Or we get hard, calloused, tough. All in a day's work.
Life's a bitch then you die. But most of us remember and get twitchy,
worried, sad.

We are crazies dressed in cammo, wide-eyed, wary, homeless, and
drunk. We are Brooks Brothers suit wearers, doing deals downtown. We
are housewives, grandmothers, and church deacons. We are college
professors engaged in the rational pursuit of the truth about the
history or politics or culture of the Vietnam experience. And we are
sleepless. Often sleepless.

We pushed paper; we pushed shovels. We drove jeeps, operated
bulldozers, built bridges; we toted machine guns through dense brush,
deep paddy, and thorn scrub. We lived on buffalo milk, fish heads and
rice. Or C-rations. Or steaks and Budweiser. We did our time in high
mountains drenched by endless monsoon rains or on the dry plains or
on muddy rivers or at the most beautiful beaches in the world.

We wore berets, bandanas, flop hats, and steel pots. Flak jackets,
canvas, rash and rot. We ate cloroquine and got malaria anyway. We
got shots constantly but have diseases nobody can diagnose. We spent
our nights on cots or shivering in foxholes filled with waist-high
water or lying still on cold wet ground, our eyes imagining Charlie
behind every bamboo blade. Or we slept in hotel beds in Saigon or
barracks in Thailand or in cramped ships' berths at sea.

We feared we would die or we feared we would kill. We simply feared,
and often we still do. We hate the war or believe it was the best
thing that ever happened to us. We blame Uncle Sam or Uncle Ho and
their minions and secretaries and apologists for every wart or cough
or tic of an eye. We wonder if Agent Orange got us.

Mostly--and this I believe with all my heart--mostly, we wish we had
not been so alone. Some of us went with units; but many, probably
most of us, were civilians one day, jerked up out of "the world,"
shaved, barked at, insulted, humiliated, de-egoized and taught to
kill, to fix radios, to drive trucks. We went, put in our time, and
were equally ungraciously plucked out of the morass and placed back
in the real world. But now we smoked dope, shot skag, or drank
heavily. Our wives or husbands seemed distant and strange. Our
friends wanted to know if we shot anybody.

And life went on, had been going on, as if we hadn't been there, as
if Vietnam was a topic of political conversation or college protest
or news copy, not a matter of life and death for tens of thousands.

Vietnam vets are people just like you. We served our country, proudly
or reluctantly or ambivalently. What makes us different--what makes
us Vietnam vets--is something we understand, but we are afraid nobody
else will. But we appreciate your asking.

Vietnam veterans are white, black, beige and shades of gray; but in
comparison with our numbers in the "real world," we were more likely
black. Our ancestors came from Africa, from Europe, and China. Or
they crossed the Bering Sea Land Bridge in the last Ice Age and
formed the nations of American Indians, built pyramids in Mexico, or
farmed acres of corn on the banks of Chesapeake Bay. We had names
like Rodriguez and Stein and Smith and Kowalski. We were Americans,
Australians, Canadians, and Koreans; most Vietnam veterans are
Vietnamese.

We were farmers, students, mechanics, steelworkers, nurses, and
priests when the call came that changed us all forever. We had dreams
and plans, and they all had to change...or wait. We were daughters
and sons, lovers and poets, beatniks and philosophers, convicts and
lawyers. We were rich and poor but mostly poor. We were educated or
not, mostly not. We grew up in slums, in shacks, in duplexes, and
bungalows and houseboats and hooches and ranches. We were cowards
and heroes. Sometimes we were cowards one moment and heroes the next.

Many of us have never seen Vietnam. We waited at home for those we
loved. And for some of us, our worst fears were realized. For others,
our loved ones came back but never would be the same.

We came home and marched in protest marches, sucked in tear gas, and
shrieked our anger and horror for all to hear. Or we sat alone in
small rooms, in VA hospital wards, in places where only the crazy
ever go. We are Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, and Confucians
and Buddhists and Atheists--though as usually is the case, even the
atheists among us sometimes prayed to get out of there alive.

We are hungry, and we are sated, full of life or clinging to death.
We are injured, and we are curers, despairing and hopeful, loved or
lost. We got too old too quickly, but some of us have never grown up.
We want, desparately, to go back, to heal wounds, revisit the sites
of our horror. Or we want never to see that place again, to bury it,
its memories, its meaning. We want to forget, and we wish we could
remember.

Despite our differences, we have so much in common. There are few of
us who don't know how to cry, though we often do it alone when nobody
will ask "what's wrong?" We're afraid we might have to answer.

Adam, if you want to know what a Vietnam veteran is, get in your car
next weekend or cage a friend with a car to drive you. Go to
Washington. Go to the Wall. It's going to be Veterans Day weekend.
There will be hundreds there...no, thousands. Watch them. Listen to
them. I'll be there. Come touch the Wall with us. Rejoice a bit. Cry
a bit. No, cry a lot. I will. I'm a Vietnam Veteran; and, after 30
years, I think I am beginning to understand what that means.

Author Unknown
 



IN LOVING MEMORY

Mary (Boutin) Fritsch
 

 

 

Mary (Boutin) Fritsch loving wife of William passed away on Friday (February 8, 2008) surrounded by her family. She was a resident of Cromwell for the past 42 years and previously of Portland. She was born in Canada in 1919. She was a member of St. John R.C. Church in Cromwell for the past 42 years as well. She was very strong in her faith and taught CCD at St. John Church for many years. She became a Gold Star Mother in 1968 due to the loss of her son, Thomas in Vietnam. Mary was part of the "Heartwarmers" Senior Citizens Choir as well as the Line Dancers for Senior Citizens in Cromwell. She was Past President of the Emblem Club of Middletown #452. For many years she expressed her creative talent with the art of teaching ceramics to many from the local area for over 10 years. She was also a member of the American Legion Auxiliary of Cromwell and the VFW. She is survived by her husband William, and her children, Gloria and Dean Thomas of California, Bill and Bonnie Fritsch of Texas, Steven and Kimberly Fritsch of Cromwell and Patricia Fritsch of Colchester; her grandchildren, Shawn and Wendy DeFelice of Marlborough, Lauren and Chelsey Fritsch of Cromwell; a great grandchild, Khanur DeFelice of Marlborough; her loving, sister Marge Johansen of East Windsor and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her son, Thomas, USMC, her parents Paul and Roseanna Boutin, two brothers, Gustave, and Gerald and sister, Joan. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the "Thomas W. Fritsch Memorial Scholarship Fund" Veterans of the Vietnam War, P.O. Box 2114, Middletown, CT 06457.

Mary would brighten up any room she walked into with her wonderful smile. She always considered the Middletown Vietnam Veterans as her adopted family just as we claimed her to be our adopted Mother.  She set the perfect example to each and every one of us to believe in your faith and never give up hope.

 

ALL GAVE SOME

SOME GAVE ALL

YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN


Some people have been a bit  offended that the actor, Lee Marvin, is buried in a grave alongside 3 and  4 star generals at Arlington National Cemetery. His marker gives his  name, rank (PVT) and service  (USMC). Nothing else. Here's  a guy who was only a famous movie star who served his time, why the heck  does he rate burial with these guys? Well, following is the amazing answer:  
I always liked Lee Marvin, but didn't know the extent of  his Corps experiences.
 
Lee Marvin

Marvin, Arlington

 In a time  when many Hollywood stars served their country in the armed forces often in rear echelon posts where they were carefully protected, only to  be trotted out to perform for the cameras in war bond promotions,  Lee Marvin was a genuine hero.  He won the Navy Cross at Iwo  Jima. There is only one higher Naval award...  the Medal Of  Honor.
 
 If that is a surprising comment on  the true character of the man, he credits his sergeant with an even  greater show of bravery.
Johnny Carson

Dialog from "The  Tonight Show with Johnny Carson": His guest was Lee Marvin. Johnny said, "Lee, I'll bet a lot of people are  unaware that you were a Marine in the initial landing at Iwo  Jima .and that during the course of that  action you earned the Navy Cross and were severely wounded."
 
 "Yeah, yeah... I got shot  square in the bottom and they gave me the Cross for securing a hot spot  about halfway up Suribachi. Bad thing about getting shot up on a mountain is guys getting' shot hauling you down. But,Johnny, at Iwo   I served under the bravest man I ever knew... We both got  the cross the same day, but what he did for his Cross made mine look cheap in comparison. That dumb guy actually stood up on Red beach and directed his troops to move forward and get the hell off the beach  Bullets flying by, with mortar rounds landing everywhere and he stood  there as the main target of gunfire so that he could get his men to safety. He did this on more than one occasion because his men's safety  was more important than his own life.
 
 That Sergeant and I have been  lifelong friends. When they brought me off Suribachi we passed the Bob KeeshanSergeant and he lit a smoke and passed it to me, lying on my belly on the litter and said, where'd they get you Lee?' Well Bob... if you make it  home be fore me, tell Mom to sell the  outhouse!"
 
 Johnny, I'm not lying,  Sergeant Keeshan was the bravest man I ever knew.
 
 The Sergeant's name is  Bob Keeshan. You and the world know him as Captain Kangaroo."
 
On another  note, there was this wimpy little man on PBS,  gentle and quiet.Mr. Rogers is another of those you would least suspect  of being anything but what he now portrays to our youth. But Mr. Rogers was a U.S. Navy Seal, combat-proven in Vietnam with over twenty-five confirmed  kills to his name.  He wore a long-sleeved sweater on TV, to cover the many tattoos on his forearm and biceps. He was a  master in small arms and hand-to-hand combat, able to disarm or kill in a heartbeat. Fred Rogers


Letter from a Soldier
 

I hope that all of you who get this email are about to have a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays.  This Christmas is pretty short for me.  It will really consist of about 45 minutes with Wendy, Rachael and Matthew tomorrow at 330AM.  We are planning to try to webcam and share some time.  Other than that it’s a regular day here in Iraq.  Not much is different, though the number of emails from the states has dropped off significantly.  We are still fighting and flying with no change in schedule.

For some reason we have elevated our security posture on the computers and it wreaks havoc on attachments and such.  I have no idea what this will look like when you get it so I hope it is readable.
 



The first interesting thing that has happened is that we hosted the previous SEC DEFs visit to LSAA and he stopped by our MEDEVAC unit C company 2-135 GSAB.  (see sec def 1&2) As usual, I was behind the scenes making sure the visit went well.  I had to go out earlier in the day and make sure that we were all ready and then work the moving parts to ensure success.  He came and took a look at our MEDEVAC helicopters, then chatted with the troops.  I have to say, what a genuine person.  It amazes me the B.S. we see in the media that portrays him as a villain.  Definitely a crock.  I found him honest, caring and incredibly intelligent.  I know there was a big to do after his trip here where the press quoted the SEC DEF as saying that most people don’t understand IRAQ. All you see on TV is explosions and bloodshed.  He said that when he flies around the country he sees people just trying to live their lives. I see the same thing, farmers in the fields, kids playing soccer in the dirt and mud, people in traffic jams and trying to sell their wares.  95% of people here just want a better life, but 5% are blood thirsty and greedy.  Its too bad the US press is so focused on the bad things.  I haven't seen a single article about our helicopters and how as we fly over villages the children run out and wave.  They don’t cover how we package care packages from the gifts back home and drop them into the villages as we fly over.  They don’t cover how 75% of the people in the hospital here at the LSAA are Iraqi's seeking medical aid.  Ahh well, not sure I expected better.


Baghdad haze


This photo, (Baghdad haze) is a good representation of the weather these days.  We have crisp clear days in the 60s and lots of cloudy hazy and nasty days.  Most of the haze you see in this picture is from smog as the folks in Baghdad burn everything to stay warm.  Dung, garbage, wood, coal, whatever.  It is pretty nasty and definitely poses a challenge to our flying.  The insurgents like to fly kites with piano wire so we would get tangled in them as we fly.  We have had our first heroic acts of the war as of this update.  The first was when we were supporting an American assault with our Apache gun ships and they got attacked by Iraqi army tanks and armored vehicles.  Obviously the Iraqi's didn’t know who was in front of them.  Our Apache turned on their very bright landing light and actually landed in front of the tanks and armored vehicles on a road.  The Iraqi's realized they must be shooting at the US forces and stopped.  Another time over the city of Ramadi, our Marines were pinned down in a fire fight with all of their radios wiped out except one small squad radio.  The 36th CAB Apache's were in the air supporting them and relaying their radio traffic back to their HQ for help.  The insurgents fired on the helicopters with both sustaining damage.  They landed near by at a FOB and check the aircraft, the damage was bad, but not life threatening so they re-fueled and took to the air.  While supporting the Marines, the insurgents would stop firing and hide when the apache's came over.  This allowed the marines to maneuver and kick the crap out of the enemy.  Our guys re-fueled three times and came back again and again while being engaged with RPGs, machine guns and small arms.  I bet we don’t hear much about that in the US?




One of my recent missions took me to Al-Kut, a FOB south east of Baghdad to work with some folks.  Unfortunately I cant say what I was working on, but it was and is very interesting.  The first picture (al-kut mud) shows what happens around here when it rains.  The second show the Entry Control Point for the FOB.  This is on the very outside of the FOB and of course there are other security measures behind me in the picture that I cannot show.  The soldier you see in the center of the picture is an Iraqi soldier providing the first line of defense.  While I was at the ECP, three Iraqi's came to the FOB.  The insurgents set up a checkpoint dressed as police and shot them all because they worked for the US and KBR on the FOB.  Of course we took care of them and flew them to Baghdad on our MEDEVAC helicopters saving their lives.





At Al-Kut, the polish have the lead.  The three hind photos above are from some of their forces as they operated to secure that part of Iraq.  The hind is a gunship like our Apache, though it is a cold war soviet relic and nowhere as advanced.  One issue is they don’t have night vision like us.  That obviously causes some big problems.
 










Al-Kut is an old Iraqi air base and obviously portions are in disarray.  These pictures show some of the interesting finds laying around the base on the other side (uninhabited side).  See (ADA, 1000lb, casings, bombs and bunker).  Seems to me the Iraqi's left in a hurry when we came through.  And yes the bombs are the real thing.  Those casings are the size of your forearm.  Big bullets used to shoot down aircraft.  The ADA is a German made anti-aircraft missile launcher.

Finally from my visit, I would like to share a picture of a child I met outside the wire.  He desperately wanted to sell me his prayer beads.  Unfortunately you cannot give them anything.  I would have given him every dollar in my wallet, but if you do then the children will gather and the insurgents target them so that it causes the US bad press saying we are causing the death of children.  Note that its cold out and muddy.  Look at the youngsters feet.  He and his brother live in a tent next to the Tigris river with their flock.



Finally, old glory.  At the end I sat on the roof of the bunker next to our colors smoking a cigar and watching the sun set.  Amazing still.  I love our country more now than when I left.




Take care all, I hope you have the merriest of holidays.

Stephan

 




 

Replacing Military Records

Have you lost important military records and don't know how to replace them?
Learn what to do if you lose your discharge, separation, or other papers. 
If discharge or separation papers are lost, duplicate copies may be obtained by contacting the: 

National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records 
9700 Page Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63132- 5100

Specify that a duplicate separation document or discharge is needed. The veteran's full name should be printed or typed so that it can be read
clearly, but the request must also contain the signature of the veteran or the signature of the next of kin, if the veteran is deceased. Include
branch of service, service number or Social Security number and exact or approximate dates and years of service. Use Standard Form 180, "Request
Pertaining To Military Records," available from our site (see instructions below), VA offices or at the VA forms web site
http://www.va.gov/vaforms  It is not necessary to request a duplicate copy of a veteran's discharge or
separation papers solely for the purpose of filing a claim for VA benefits.

Standard Form 180 and Replacing Records Fortunately, the paperwork involved in requesting records replacement is
relatively simple. The process is as follows:

First, get a copy of Standard Form 180
http://www.archives.gov/research_room/obtain_copies/standard_form_180.pdf ,
Request For Military Records.
http://www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf

It is not necessary to request a duplicate copy of a veteran's discharge
or separation papers solely for the purpose of filing a claim for VA
benefits. 
*        Remember to either type or print on the form. 
*        Fill in the individual's name, social security number, and date and place of birth in section 1, blocks 1 through 4. 
*        Provide the dates of service in the applicable spaces in section 1, block 5. 
*        Indicate whether or not the individual is deceased in section 1, block 6. 
*        Indicate whether or not the person retired from the military in section 1, block 7. 
*        In section 2, indicate which medals need to be replaced. 
*        Record a return address and then sign section 3. Only the service member, guardian, or next of kin may sign this form. 
*        If possible, include a copy of the discharge or separation document, WDAGO Form 53-55 or DD Form 214. 
*        Mail the completed form and supplementary documents to the appropriate address, as detailed on the back of SF 180. 
The National Archives and Records Administration receives many requests, and a response may take six months or more. If complete information
about the veteran's service is furnished on the application, VA will obtain verification of service from the National Personnel Records
Center or the service department concerned. In a medical emergency, information from a veteran's records may be obtained by phoning the
appropriate service:

Army, 314-538-4261 
Air Force, 314- 538-4243 
Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard, 314-538-4141

Re: Military Records

Dennis,

The e-mail that you sent out the other day about the hard copies of the military records being discarded after the data is put into the automated system is false.  I receive updates on military info quite often and I received one today. It states the following:  According to the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA), it has been rumored that the National Military Personnel Records Center (NMPRC) in St. Louis, Mo. was planning to automate their stored military records and intended to discard all the hard copies of these documents, unless servicemembers requested them. Members of FRS's Editorial Team personally called NMPRC to discuss the issue and were quickly assured that such news is pure hearsay. The facility has no plans of automating the files in the near future, nor will they throw away anyones records. However, servicemembers are eligible to retrieve a copy of the files, if they so desire. Requests should be directed to:

National Personnel Records Center
9700 Page Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63132

You may call 314-801-9195 or visit http://vetrecs.archives.gov

Requests that are made is expected to take 2 - 4 weeks for completion and service members can e-mail mprstatus@nara.gov  to check the status of their request.

John Flanagan

These are results of a new survey from The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Washington, D.C.

It plays with preconceptions we may have about who Vietnam Veterans really are.

VIETNAM WARRIORS: A STATISTICAL PROFILE IN UNIFORM AND IN COUNTRY

* Vietnam Vets: 9.7% of their generation. 9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam era (Aug 5, 1964-May 7, 1975).
* 8,744,000 GIs were on active duty during the war (Aug 5, 1964-March 28, 1973).
* 3,403,100 (including 514,300 offshore) personnel served in the Southeast Asia Theater (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, flight crews based in Thailand, and sailors in adjacent South China Sea waters).
* 2,594,000 personnel served within the borders of South Vietnam (Jan 1, 1965-March 28, 1973).
* Another 50,000 served in Vietnam between 1960 and 1964.
* Of the 2.6 million, between 1-1.6 million (40-60%) either fought in combat, provided close support or were at least fairly regularly ! exposed to enemy attack.
* 7,484 women (6,250 or 83.5% were nurses) served in Vietnam.
* Peak troop strength in Vietnam: 543,482 (April 30, 1969).

CASUALTIES
* Hostile deaths: 47,378.
* Non-hostile deaths: 10,800.
* Total: 58,202 (includes formerly classified as MIA and Mayaguez casualties), subsequently died of wounds account for the hanging total.
* 8 nurses died-1 was KIA.
* Married men killed: 17,539.
* 61% of the men killed were 21 or younger.
* Highest state death rate: West Virginia- 84.1 (national average 58.9 for every 100,000 males in 1970).
* Wounded: 303,704-153,329 hospitalized + 150,375 injured requiring no hospital care.
* Severely disabled: 75,000-23,214 100% disabled; 5,283 lost limbs; 1,081 sustained multiple amputations.
* Amputation or crippling wounds to the lower extremities were 300% higher than in WWII and 70% higher than in Korea.
* Multiple amputations occurred at the rate of 18.4% compared to 5.7% in WWI! I.
* Missing in Action: 2,338.
* POWs: 766 (114 died in captivity).
DRAFTEES VS. VOLUNTEERS
* 25% (648,500) of total forces in country were draftees. (66% of US armed forces members were drafted during WWII).
* Draftees accounted for 30.4% (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam.
* Reservists killed: 5,977.
* National Guard: 6,140 served, 101 died.
* Total draftees (1965-73) 1,728,344.
* Actually served in Vietnam 38%.
* Marine Corps drafted: 42,633.
* Last draftee: June 30, 1973. RACE AND ETHNIC BACKGROUND
* 88.4% of those who actually served in Vietnam were Caucasian.
* 10.6% were black.
* 1% belonged to other races.
* 86.3% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasian (includes Hispanics)
* 12.5% (7,241) were black
* 1.2% belonged to other races.
* 170,000 Hispanics served in Vietnam; 3,070 (5.2% of total) died there.
* 70% of enlisted men killed were of Northwest European descent.
* 86.8% of the men who we! re killed as a result of hostile action were Caucasian
* 12.1% (5,711) were black
* 1.1% belonged to other races.
* 14.6% (1,530) of non-combat deaths were among blacks.
* 34% of blacks that enlisted, volunteered for the combat arms.
* Overall, blacks suffered 12.5% of the deaths in Vietnam at a time when the percentage of blacks of military age was 13.5% of the total population.

RELIGION OF DEAD
* Protestant-64.4%
* Catholic-28.9%
* Other/none-6.7%.

SOCIETY-ECONOMIC STATUS
* 76% of the men sent to Vietnam were from lower middle and working class backgrounds.
* 3/4ths had family incomes above the poverty level; 50% were from middle income backgrounds.
* Some 23% of Vietnam vets had fathers with professional, managerial or technical occupations.
* 79% who served had a high school education or better. 63% of Korean War and only 45% of WWII vets had completed high school upon separation).

DEATHS BY REGION PER 100,000 OF POPULATION:

* South-31
* West-29 * Midwest-28.4 * Northeast-23.5. WINNING AND LOSING
* 82% of vets who saw heavy combat strongly believe the war was lost because of lack of political will.
* Nearly 75% of the public agrees it was a failure of political will, not arms.

HONORABLE SERVICE
* 97% of Vietnam-era veterans were honorably discharged.
* 91% of actual Vietnam War veterans and 90% of those who saw heavy combat are proud to have served their country.
* 66% of Vietnam vets say they would serve again if called upon.
* 87% of the public now holds Vietnam veterans in high esteem.
 


 
This should warm your heart after having to read all the negatives that the media pushes.
 
A Real Hero May 07 Lonsberry Column SOMETHING THAT DIDN'T MAKE THE NEWS Maybe you'd like to
hear about something other than idiot Reservists and naked Iraqis.
 
Maybe you'd like to hear about a real American, somebody who honored the uniform he wears.
 
Meet Brian Chontosh.  Churchville-Chili Central School class of 1991.  Proud graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Husband and about-to-be father.  First lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.  And a genuine hero.
 
The secretary of the Navy said so yesterday.  At 29 Palms in California Brian Chontosh was presented with the Navy
Cross, the second highest award for combat bravery the United States can bestow.  That's a big deal.
 
But you won't see it on the network news tonight, and all you read in Brian's hometown newspaper was two paragraphs of nothing.
Instead, it was more blather about some mental defective MPs who acted like animals.
 
The odd fact about the American media in this war is that it's not covering the American military.  The most plugged-in
nation in the world is receiving virtually no true information about what its warriors are doing.
 
Oh, sure, there's a body count.  We know how many Americans have fallen.  And we see those same casket pictures
day in and day out.  And we're almost on a first-name basis with the pukes who abused the Iraqi prisoners.  And we
know all about improvised explosive devices and how we lost Fallujah and what Arab public-opinion polls say about us and how
the world hates us.
 
We get a non-stop feed of gloom and doom.  But we don't hear about the heroes.  The incredibly brave GIs who honorably do
their duty.  The ones our grandparents would have carried on their shoulders down Fifth Avenue.  The ones we completely ignore.
Like Brian Chontosh.
 
It was a year ago on the march into Baghdad.  Brian Chontosh was a platoon leader rolling up Highway 1 in a humvee.
When all hell broke loose.  Ambush city.  The young Marines were being cut to ribbons.  Mortars, machine guns,
rocket propelled grenades.  And the kid out of Churchville was in charge.  It was do or die and it was up to him.
 
So he moved to the side of his column, looking for a way to lead his men to safety.  As he tried to poke a hole through
the Iraqi line his humvee came under direct enemy machine gun fire.  It was fish in a barrel and the Marines were the fish.
And Brian Chontosh gave the order to attack.  He told his driver to floor the humvee directly at the machine gun
emplacement that was firing at them. And he had the guy on top with the .50 cal unload on them.
 
Within moments there were Iraqis slumped across the machine gun and Chontosh was still advancing, ordering his driver
now to take the humvee directly into the Iraqi trench that was attacking his Marines.  Over into the battlement the humvee
went and out the door Brian Chontosh bailed, carrying an M16 and a Beretta and 228 years of Marine Corps
pride.  And he ran down the trench.  With its mortars and riflemen, machineguns and grenadiers.
And he killed them all.  He fought with the M16 until he was out of ammo.  Then he fought with
the Beretta until it was out of ammo.  Then he picked up a dead man's AK47 and fought with that until it was out of ammo.
Then he picked up another dead man's AK47 and fought with that until it was out of ammo.
 
At one point he even fired a discarded Iraqi RPG into an enemy cluster,  sending attackers flying with its grenade explosion.
 
When he was done Brian Chontosh had cleared 200 yards of entrenched Iraqis from his platoon's flank.  He had
killed more than 20 and wounded at least as many more.  But that's probably not how he would tell it.
He would probably merely say that his Marines were in trouble, and he got them out of trouble.  Hoo-ah, and drive on.
 
"By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost
devotion to duty, 1st Lt. Chontosh reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions
of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service."
 
That's what the citation says.  And that's what nobody will hear.
 
That's what doesn't seem to be making the evening news.  Accounts of American valor are dismissed by the
press as propaganda, yet accounts of American difficulties are heralded as objectivity.  It makes you wonder
if the role of the media is to inform, or to depress - to report or to deride. To tell the truth, or to feed us lies.
 
But I guess it doesn't matter.  We're going to turn out all right.  As long as men like Brian Chontosh wear our uniform.
- by Bob Lonsberry © 2004
 

 
Groups Arrange Foster Care for Military Pets
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

 

WASHINGTON, May 12, 2004 - Deploying overseas means leaving friends and loved ones
behind. For service members with no one to take care of their beloved dog, cat, bird
or other pet, it once meant also having to abandon or turn the pet over to a shelter
- never to see it again. 

Thanks to two nonprofit groups - the Military Pets Foster Project and Operation
Noble Foster - service members can now arrange foster care for their pets while
they're gone. 

The Military Pets Foster Project, a nonprofit group founded by animal lover Steve
Albin, has placed about 15,000 pets in foster homes throughout the United States
while their owners serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. Operation Noble Foster, which
specializes in foster homes for cats, has found temporary homes for about 25
military cats a month since shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, according to founder Linda
Mercer. 

Albin and Mercer said they established their groups shortly after the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks, when they learned that thousands of service members had been
forced to give up their pets when they deployed to Operation Desert Storm more than
a decade earlier. "What kind of morale builder is that?" Albin said. "Does it mean
that to serve, you have to be willing to put your best friend to sleep?" 
Since launching the Military Pets Foster Project, Albin estimates that the group has
saved as many as 150,000 pets from being abandoned or turned over to shelters, where
pets not quickly adopted often are euthanized. Although dogs and cats are the most
common pets in need of foster homes, Albin said his group has also placed ferrets,
rabbits, horses, lizards, snakes and other "exotics," including a pot-bellied pig. 

Albin said he matches pets in need of foster care with appropriate foster homes and
requires those involved in the arrangement to sign a foster agreement. 

Both Albin and Mercer said they're impressed by the outpouring of support they
receive from people willing to provide foster care for pets while service members
deploy in support of the war, serve tours where they can't take their pets, or even
ship off to basic training. 
 
"People are opening up their hearts and their doors to help the people of the
military," said Albin. "It's a patriotic gesture of thanks." 
 
Mark Delman from Parker, Colo., signed up through Operation Noble Foster to provide
a foster home for five cats owned by a military family currently stationed in
Germany. Delman said he encourages others to open their doors as well. 
 
"These people are keeping us safe and free, and shouldn't have to give up their
beloved pets to do so," he said. "Offering a foster home is a way of saying
'thanks.' I tell people not to hesitate to do it." 
 
Albin encourages service members in need of foster care for their pets to give the
Military Pets Foster Project as much notice as possible of their upcoming deployment
so the group can find a suitable home. 
 
For more information, visit the organizations' Web sites. 

Related Sites:
Military Pets Foster  

Project Operation
http://www.netpets.org/netp/foster.php

Noble Foster
http://www.operationnoblefoster.org

 


DNA and the AWOL Who Wasn't

From: POW-MIA InterNetwork

Date: March 09, 2004

"DNA saves Jersey soldier’s reputation"

JERSEY CITY (AP) -- It’s been nearly four decades since Army Spc. 4 Carl Wadleigh of Jersey City went missing during the war in Vietnam.

Unlike other soldiers in his company, judged to have fought bravely and died for their country, the former student of Jefferson Elementary School in North Bergen -- his twin sister, Margaret, likens him to Matt Dillon, the handsome sheriff on TV’s "Gunsmoke’’ -- was branded a deserter.

After 36 years of living with this cloud hanging over their brother’s reputation and military career and their family’s name, Wadleigh’s six surviving siblings were told last month that the Army had it wrong all along.

Military brass now believe that in 1968 Wadleigh, then 21, died fighting on behalf of his country in Vietnam’s Ben Tre Province.

DNA tests have definitively proved, Army officials now say, that Wadleigh’s remains had been confused with those of another soldier, Master Sgt. Frank Parrish, and were buried in Texas in 1973.

In a stark reversal, the Army now says Wadleigh is entitled to a full military funeral, and family members are planning for a burial in May at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Just beginning to digest the Army’s revised determination on their brother’s disappearance, Wadleigh’s siblings say they feel a sense of closure and vindication, but also anger and bewilderment that the government could get things so wrong for so long.

"I was shocked. I was glad it ended,’’ said older brother Clifford Wadleigh Jr. of Jersey City, an ex-Navy medic who enlisted shortly before Carl was drafted in 1964. "It just felt like part of you was missing.’’

Carl’s parents, Clifford Sr. and Mary, died in the 1980s without that closure. All they knew of their son’s last days was what they had heard from FBI agents who visited them inquiring about their youngest son’s whereabouts. They said that Carl had gone AWOL -- absent without leave.

"We all thought he was AWOL,’’ said Michelle Wadleigh, another of Carl’s sisters, a religious science teacher who lives in Florham Park. "That was the hard part. There was an absolute stigma.’’

The Army’s reappraisal of Carl Wadleigh’s status as a soldier began in 1989 when the Vietnamese government shipped boxes containing the remains of 21 U.S. soldiers to the United States, according to Lt. Col. Jerry O’Hara, a spokesman for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii.

With the emergence of mitochondrial DNA as an unassailable tool for identifying remains, military forensic experts were able to definitively identify one set of these remains as Master Sgt. Frank Parrish. The discovery was shocking because military officials were convinced they had already recovered and buried Parrish’s remains.

Parrish, who worked as an adviser to a South Vietnamese strike force, was believed to have been the soldier found in 1972 alongside the body of Master Sgt. Earl Briggs, according to an account compiled in 1990 by the Homecoming II Project, an advocacy group for families of missing soldiers. Both men were killed in an ambush on Jan. 16, 1968.

Military officials had based their identification of the remains on a comparison done with Parrish’s picture and a toothless and jawbone-less skull.

There also was circumstantial evidence, said 1st Lt. Ken Hall, who works with O’Hara. Parrish was a medic, and a set of forceps had been found near the remains, he said.

Parrish’s brother Johnnie had long rejected the forensic evidence the government had used to identify his brother, the Homecoming II report stated.

"The Pentagon informed Johnnie Parrish that he could accept it or reject it, but the identification was final,’’ the account states, noting that Parrish’s parents accepted the determination and eventually a reluctant Johnnie Parrish did, too.

As it turns out, Johnnie Parrish was right; the government was wrong.

The definitive identification of Parrish in 1989 set in motion a series of events, beginning with the exhumation of the remains in the Texas grave. Then came the time-consuming process of figuring out who that man was.

"We went back to Ben Tre,’’ the province where the remains initially believed to be Parrish had been found, O’Hara said.

"We also deduced who the person could be by process of elimination. Who was in the area? ... It takes an awfully long time.’’

It was November 2001 before military officials contacted two of Carl Wadleigh’s six siblings in New Jersey, asking for blood samples that could be used to compare DNA patterns with the remains unearthed in Texas.

Just last month, Army officials contacted family members and confirmed that the remains that had been buried in Texas were those of their brother Carl.

In a Feb. 18 meeting with family members in the Branchville home of eldest sibling Maryjane, Army officials said they still believe Carl went AWOL, but not for as long as originally thought. Rather, they think he went AWOL for 13 days, having run off with a Vietnamese girlfriend.

Sent to a hospital near Saigon to undergo a procedure in 1968, Carl never showed up, Army officials said, according to Carl’s siblings.

Army officials failed to return dozens of calls seeking verification of this account, which four siblings said they took away from the meeting.

Family members acknowledge that Carl had sent pictures home of a French Vietnamese woman he claimed to have married. Once, they said, he asked family members to raise $1,000 so he could send her to the United States.

Army officials told the family they now believe Carl returned to active duty sometime after his unexcused absence. He died fighting for his country, they said, and is entitled to a full military funeral, according to family members.

"He died a hero,’’ Michelle Wadleigh said.

Mary and Clifford Wadleigh Sr. began their family in Jersey City in the early 1934, with the birth of Maryjane. In 1945, the family moved to North Bergen, where Carl and Margaret were born on Dec. 20, 1946.

Without elaborating, Margaret, who now lives in Black Hawk, S.D., said family life was not happy, recalling that as kids she and Carl ran away from home. Carrying two bananas for sustenance, they got as far as a carnival park in Bayonne before tossing in the towel, Margaret remembered.

"We called home and my mom said we could take the rest of the day off’’ from school, Margaret recalled.

Clifford Jr. remembers swinging on trees in the hills of North Bergen with his younger brother.

Once, when a branch snapped, Clifford Jr. remembers shoving Carl out of harm’s way, sparing him a steep fall.

"We were very close,’’ Clifford said. "I saved his life once or twice as kids.’’

Carl never attended high school, family members said, and was living with relatives in Jersey City when he was drafted in 1964. He was shipped out to Vietnam in 1965.

The last family member to see Carl alive was first cousin Kenneth Wadleigh, a lifelong Jersey City resident who served with Carl in the Army’s Ninth Infantry Division. Kenneth, now a supermarket manager in Fort Lee who remembers Carl as outgoing and interested in wrestling, said he never believed Carl went AWOL.

One reason for Kenneth’s staunch belief is that he visited Carl in 1967 at a hospital near Saigon where Carl underwent treatment for a hernia he developed from carrying heavy weapons.

It not clear whether this is same hospital visit Army officials were referring to when they said Carl never showed up for an appointment in 1968. Kenneth is sure of the year, because it was the same year he finished his tour of duty and it was shortly after the visit that he heard family members mention that his cousin had gone AWOL.

"I would never believe it,’’ Kenneth said. "I sat and talked to him for three hours, and that was the furthest thing from his mind. He wanted to do his job and go home.’’

Kenneth’s theory on what happened to his cousin: "After he was discharged (from the hospital), I think he hitched a ride on a truck and (I believe) the truck was ambushed. ... He was found right outside of base camp.’’

Carl’s service was also remembered positively by his fellow soldiers, according to Michelle Wadleigh, who attended a reunion of her brother’s platoon five years ago.

"My brother had quite a reputation for being an incredible soldier,’’ she said. "He carried heavy artillery rifles. ... I know he didn’t like it. I remember the letters, but I know he did what he had to do.’’

In the years since the Army classified Wadleigh as AWOL, the family’s trials were more than emotional, they said.

Clifford Jr., who works as a security officer at City Hall, lost several jobs because of suspicions raised by federal agents visiting his workplace, mistaking him for his younger brother, he said.

And while Margaret is grateful for the sense of closure the identification of her brother’s remains has brought, she isn’t prepared to forgive the military its errors.

"I’m totally disappointed in the government,’’ Margaret said. "Not knowing if he was dead or alive and finding him in someone else’s grave. ... It does give it some closure, but I am totally disappointed by the whole thing.’’

Clifford Jr., who spent his Navy years stateside, said he’s come to peace with the Army’s performance concerning his brother.

"They put us through a lot of hell saying this and that,’’ he said. "But after 30 years they found my brother. They did their job.’’

With the history of their brother’s service now officially rewritten, the kind of personal praise Michelle received about her brother from his fellow soldiers can now be bestowed publicly.

This Memorial Day, Jaime Vazquez, Jersey City’s director of Veterans Affairs, plans to attach Carl Wadleigh’s name to the Vietnam memorial rock in Pershing Field that honors city residents killed in action.

Wadleigh’s will be the 65th name affixed to the rock, Vazquez said. Michelle Wadleigh also wants her brother’s name placed on the Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

"He served with dignity,’’ she said. "He deserves to be there.’’

©The Trentonian"

 






Please keep our troops in your prayers.  This prayer is provided courtesy of 
one of our hospital chaplains.

Love to all,

Jack
 
A Prayer In Time of War
 
Our God and Protector
For the Sons and Daughters of our Countryland
We pray for safe return
And no less we pray for those men, women and children
Whose fate
Finds them in their own homeland full of
Immeasurable strife and tension
 
May the hand that heals
And purifies our motives
Direct the actions that command earthly justice
And guide us to the kind of peace
That eases the hearts discontent,
That bends the sword
And mends the broken spirit
 
In our families, by the side of colleagues,
And through our inner thoughts
We will surely pause
To remind ourselves of the significance of every life
 
Bless this moment, we pray, for the healing of all nations.
 
By Your grace we pray,
 
Amen
 
Rev. Marcus M. McKinney
Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center

(860) 714-4183


Submitted by:  Rich Couturect: Honor is alive and well...

The Third Infantry Regiment at Fort Myer has the responsibility for
providing ceremonial units and honor guards for state occasions, White
House social functions, public celebrations and interments at Arlington
National Cemetery......and for standing a very formal sentry watch at the
Tombs of the Unknowns. The public is familiar with the precision of what 
is called, "walking post" at the Tombs.
 
There are roped off galleries where visitors can form to observe the
troopers and their measured step and almost mechanical silent rifle
shoulder changes. They are relieved every hour in a very formal drill 
that has to be seen to believe. Some people think that when the cemetery is
closed to the public in the evening that this show stops. First, to the 
men who are dedicated to this work, it is no show.....it is a "charge of
honor".
 
The formality and precision continues uninterrupted all night. During the
nighttime, the drill of relief and the measured step of the on duty 
sentry remain unchanged from the daylight hours. To these men, these special
men, the continuity of this post is the key to the respect shown to these
honored dead, symbolic of all American unaccounted for and American 
combat dead. The steady rhythmic step in rain, sleet, snow, hail, hot,
cold...bitter cold, is uninterrupted. It is the important part of the 
honor shown.
 
Last night while you were sleeping, the teeth of hurricane Isabel came
through this area and tore hell out of everything. We have thousands of
trees down, power outages, traffic signals out, roads filled with down
limbs and "gear adrift" debris. We have flooding.....and the place looks
like it has been the impact area of an off shore bombardment.
 
The Regimental Commander of the U.S. Third Infantry sent word to the 
night time sentry detail to secure the post and seek shelter from the high 
winds, to ensure their personal safety. THEY DISOBEYED THE ORDER.
 
During winds that turned over vehicles and turned debris into 
projectiles, the measured step continued. One fellow said "I've got buddies
getting shot at in Iraq who would kick my butt if word got to them that we
let them down. I sure as hell have no intention of spending my Army career
being known as the god-damn idiot who couldn't stand a little light breeze
and shirked his duty." Then he said something in response to a female
reporter's question regarding silly purposeless personal risk, "I 
wouldn't expect you to understand. It's an enlisted man's thing."
 
God bless the rascal! In a time in our nation's history when spin and 
total bullshit seems to have become the accepted coin-of-the-realm, there
beat hearts, the enlisted hearts we all knew and were so damn proud to be a 
part of.....that fully understand that devotion to duty is not a part time
occupation. While we slept, we were represented by some fine men who 
fully understood their post orders and proudly went about their assigned
responsibilities unseen, unrecognized and in the finest tradition of the
American enlisted man.



Release No. 06-01-03
June 5, 2003


NPRC initiates online records request procedures

The National Personnel Records Center is working to make it easier for
veterans with computers and Internet access to obtain copies of
documents from their military files.

Military veterans and the next of kin of deceased former military
members may now use  a new online military personnel records system to request
documents.  Other individuals with a need for documents must still
complete the Standard Form 180 which can be downloaded from the online web site.

The new web-based application was designed to provide better service
on these requests by eliminating the records center's mailroom processing
time. Also, because the requester will be asked to supply all information
essential for NPRC to process the request, delays that normally occur
when NPRC has to ask veterans for additional information will be minimized.

Veterans and next of kin may access this application at
http://vetrecs.archives.gov   http://vetrecs.archives.gov. Please note
there is no requirement to type "www" in front of the web address.


NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 27, 2003



MISSING NAVY CREWMEMBERS FOUND AND IDENTIFIED

The remains of nine U.S. Navy crewmembers, missing in
action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and their
remains are being returned to their families for burial.

The nine are identified as Cmdr. Delbert A. Olson,
Casselton, N.D.; Lt. j.g.'s Denis L. Anderson, Hope, Kan.;
Arthur C. Buck, Sandusky, Ohio; and Philip P. Stevens, Twin
Lake, Mich.; Petty Officers 2nd class Richard M. Mancini,
Amsterdam, N.Y.; Michael L. Roberts, Purvis, Miss., Donald N.
Thoresen and Kenneth H. Widon, Detroit and Petty Officer 3rd
class Gale R. Siow, Huntington Park, Calif.

A group burial will be held at Arlington National Cemetery on June 18, 2003.

The nine departed Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force
Base on Jan.11, 1968 onboard a Navy OP-2E Neptune aircraft for a
mission over Laos to drop sensors which detected enemy
movements.  During its last radio contact, the crew reported
they were descending through dense clouds.  When they did not
return to their home base, a search was initiated but found no
evidence of a crash.  Two weeks later, an Air Force aircrew
photographed what appeared to be the crash site, but enemy
activity in the area prevented a recovery operation.

Between 1993 and 2002, six U.S.-Lao investigation teams
led by the Joint Task Force Full Accounting interviewed
villagers in the surrounding area, gathered aircraft debris and
surveyed the purported crash site scattered on two ledges of
Phou Louang Mountain in Khammouan Province.  During a 1996
visit, team members also recovered identification cards for
several crewmembers, as well as human remains.

        Full-scale recovery missions by the U.S. Army Central
Identification Laboratory Hawaii (CILHI) in both 2001 and 2002
yielded additional remains, as well as identification of other
crewmembers.  More than 1,900 Americans are missing in action
from the Vietnam War, with another 86,000 MIA from the Cold War,
the Korean War and WWII.


VA To Grant Benefits To More Vietnam Veterans

WASHINGTON (Jan. 23, 2003) - Based upon a recently released review
of scientific studies, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi
has decided to extend benefits to Vietnam veterans with chronic lymphocytic
leukemia (CLL).

"Compelling evidence has emerged within the scientific community
that exposure to herbicides such as Agent Orange is associated with CLL,"
Principi said. "I'm exercising my legal authority to ensure the full range
of VA benefits is available to Vietnam veterans with CLL."

The ruling means that veterans with CLL who served in Vietnam
during the Vietnam War don't have to prove that illness is related to their
military service to qualify for Department of Veterans Affairs disability
compensation.  Additionally, for more than 20 years, VA has offered special
access to medical care to Vietnam veterans with any health problems that
may have resulted from Agent Orange exposure, and this decision will ensure
higher-priority access to care in the future.

The decision to provide compensation was based upon a recent
report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that found among scientific studies
"sufficient evidence of an association" between exposure to herbicides
during the Vietnam War and CLL.

The IOM review, conducted at VA's request, was the latest in a
series spanning the period since 1993 when the independent,
non-governmental agency first published a report for VA that examined
thousands of relevant scientific studies on the health effects of various
substances to which American service members may have been
exposed in Vietnam.

"On the modern battlefield, not all injuries are caused by
shrapnel and bullets," Principi said.  "This latest IOM study and my
decision to act upon it are the latest examples of VA's continuing efforts
to care for the needs of our combat veterans."


VA requested the IOM panel of experts to focus on CLL in their
report because of veterans' concerns that CLL shares some similarities with
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which the IOM had previously connected to Agent
Orange exposure.

Principi ordered the development of regulations to enable VA to
begin paying compensation benefits once a final rule takes effect.
Publication of that regulation is expected in the near future.  VA will
publish further details, when available, on its Web site at
http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/benefits/herbicide/

In the meantime, veterans with questions about health-care,
compensation and survivor benefits may call a toll-free help line at
1-800-749-8387 for information.  VA also encourages Vietnam veterans who
have not done so to request a subscription to Agent Orange Review, VA's
free newsletter that will keep them abreast of developments on this issue and
other policies and scientific findings in the future.

Newsletter subscription information is available from the help line
number above.  Back issues and additional information about Agent Orange
are available at another VA Web site at
http://www.va.gov/agentorange/

Agent Orange Data

USAF Ranch Hand Herbicides from Aug 1965

Grand Total:

8,165,491

       

GALLONS

I Corps Location:

Orange

White

Blue

Total

A Shau

53,550

2,550

6,128

62,228

An Hoa

6,500

1,800

11,250

19,550

Binh Hoa

8,220

 

1,600

9,820

Cam Lo

80,375

8,660

12,785

101,820

Camp Carrol

78,200

5,400

5,050

88,650

Camp Eagle

14,250

   

14,250

Camp Esso

53,410

5,600

5,500

64,510

Camp Evans

18,690

 

880

19,570

Camp Henderson

68,155

7,040

4,800

79,995

Chu Lai

12,170

4,150

1,598

17,918

Con Thien

84,700

12,460

10,925

108,085

Da Nang, China Beach

13,800

 

2,000

15,800

Dong Ha

54,385

5,060

9,935

69,380

Duc Pho, LZ Bronco

46,225

14,400

1,175

61,800

Firebase Jack

140,875

11,900

3,280

156,055

Firebase Rakkassan

150,145

23,900

2,510

176,555

Firebase West

15,405

3,690

18,480

37,575

Hill 63

20,500

3,200

 

23,700

Hill 69

11,620

4,150

1,598

17,368

Hoi An

17,520

3,000

13,950

34,470

Hue

41,395

5,070

46,465

Khe Sanh, Firebase Smith

43,705

3,040

4,300

51,045

LangCo Bridge

50,610

5,600

3,500

59,710

LZ Baldy

15,430

3,000

13,950

32,380

LZ Dogpatch, Hill 327

4,490

 

8,250

12,740

LZ Geronimo

22,535

14,000

468

37,003

LZ Jane, Firebase Barbara

91,150

6,750

3,700

101,600

LZ Langley, Firebase Shepard

72,105

7,040

4,800

83,945

LZ Profess, Hill 55

39,300

13,000

17,209

69,509

LZ Rockcrusher, Hill 85

47,800

   

47,800

LZ Rockpile

110,050

15,440

7,650

133,140

LZ Ross

15,405

6,720

18,508

40,633

LZ Sandra

118,780

20,210

24,755

163,745

LZ Snapper, Firebase Leather

11,350

 

3,000

14,350

Marble, Hill 59

15,405

6,720

18,508

40,633

Phu Bai

54,300

3,000

120

57,420

Phu Loc, LZ Tommahawk

78,250

4,000

 

82,250

Quang Nai

25,605

 

1,800

27,405

Quang Tri, LZ Nancy

68,000

2,750

3,700

74,450

I Corps Total:

2,355,322

         

II Corps Location:

Orange

White

Blue

Total

An Khe, Camp Radcliff

37,810

6,400

5,610

49,820

An Lao, LZ Laramie

68,970

,490

10,570

80,030

Ban Me Thuot

16,000

9,250

 

25,250

Ben Het

80,495

7,230

3,000

90,725

Bon Song, LZ Two Bits

80,643

,630

6,000

87,273

Bre Nhi

6,600

   

6,600

Cam Ranh Bay

21,227

1,373

 

22,600

Camp Granite

59,310

2,075

5,390

66,775

Che Oreo

 

1,800

 

1,800

Da Lat

575

   

575

Dak To

49,460

600

34,800

84,860

Firebase Pony

43,490

 

3,800

47,290

Kontum

415

 

415

LZ Dog, LZ English

63,073

630

6,000

69,703

LZ Oasis

   

No Data

LZ Putter, Firebase Bird

50,095

 

7,200

57,295

LZ Uplift

43,455

3,220

,275

46,950

Nha Trang

6,950

325

 

7,275

Pham Rang

,110

2,075

 

2,185

Phan Thiet

5,000

,330

,220

5,550

Plei Ho, SF Camp

15,300

1,260

,110

16,670

Plei Jerang

98,220

51,235

1,800

151,255

Pleiku

1,210

11,640

1,950

14,800

Puh Cat, LZ Hammond

29,700

7,210

 

36,910

Qui Nhon

53,215

1,800

4,125

59,140

Song Cau

5,650

55

 

5,705

Tuy An

13,215

3,740

 

16,955

Tuy Hoa

29,565

4,485

 

34,050

II Corps Total:

1,054,406

         

III Corps Location:

Orange

White

Blue

Total

An Loc

77,000

79,830

 

156,830

Ben Cat

87,250

83,640

20,105

190,995

Bien Hoa

35,045

124,525

3,950

163,520

Cholon

320

   

320

Cu Chi

59,150

67,540

14,105

140,795

Dau Tieng (Michelin)

32,370

45,800

3,600

81,770

Dien Duc, Firebase Elaine

66,850

25,500

 

92,350

Duc Hoa

750

   

750

Firebase Di An

6,000

 

1,595

7,595

Firebase Frenzel

13,445

57,560

,900

71,905

Firebase Jewel, LZ Snuffy

219,550

146,010

7,300

372,860

Firebase Mace

34,280

23,350

,730

58,360

Katum

299,420

239,395

20,000

558,815

Lai Khe

57,120

22,300

1,800

81,220

Loc Ninh

46,660

103,710

1,800

152,170

Long Binh, Firebase Concord

13,445

57,560

 

71,005

LZ Bearcat

17,840

75,470

 

93,310

LZ Fish Nook

44,000

23,800

 

67,800

LZ Schofield

38,640

17,210

7,800

63,650

Nha Be (Navy Base)

119,725

121,925

6,000

247,650

Nui Ba Den, Firebase Caroline

50,020

66,500

2,100

118,620

Phouc Vinh

484,383

146,576

12,810

643,769

Phu Cuong

39,845

62,230

12,055

114,130

Phu Loi

79,000

83,430

 

162,430

Qua Viet

50,610

5,600

3,500

59,710

Quan Loi

44,190

34,300

 

78,490

Saigon

     

No Data

Song Be

1,900

9,220

 

11,120

Tan Son Nhut

6,320

 

1,595

7,915

Tay Ninh

720

3,225

600

4,545

Trang Bang

32,365

39,560

6,000

77,925

Vo Dat, Firebase Nancy

14,180

29,100

 

43,280

Vung Tau

7,350

   

7,350

Xuan Loc

23,865

58,750

660

83,275

III Corps Total:

4,086,229

         

IV Corps Location:

Orange

White

Blue

Total

Ben Luc

45,900

14,838

 

60,738

Ben Tre

24,800

24,750

 

49,550

Can Tho

15,160

13,915

11,685

40,760

Cao Lanh

1,875

2,935

830

5,640

Dong Tam

5,870

605

165

6,640

Firebase Grand Can(yon?)

 

1,540

 

1,540

Firebase Moore

9,820

   

9,820

Ham Long

3,275

1,620

 

4,895

Moc Hoa

12,400

6,590

 

18,990

My Tho

13,320

7,316

965

21,601

Nam Can

150,345

64,295

 

214,640

Phnom

 

184

 

184

Phu Quoc

19,000

   

19,000

Rach Gia

 

2,155

 

2,155

Seafloat

4,700

   

4,700

Soc Trang

3,410

2,391

1,280

7,081

Tan An

89,550

36,450

 

126,000

Tieu Con

8,700

   

8,700

Tra Vinh

9,885

8,000

 

17,885

Vinh Loi

30,010

   

30,010

Vinh Long

8,360

9,755

890

19,005

IV Corps Total:

669,534

Note: This does NOT include the US Army helicopter or ground applications, or any form of the insecticide programs by GVN or the US military. The amount represents gallons within eight (8) kilometers of the area. Thus, each area is 9.6 miles in diameter.

Description:

TCDD (Dioxin) Amounts:

Agent Orange

1.77 to 40 ppm

Agent Blue (Purple)

32.8 to 45 ppm

Agent Red (Pink)

65.6 ppm

Agent White (Green)

65.6 ppm

Silvex

1 to 70 ppm

2,4,5-T (Current)

0.1 ppm or less

3/8/98
 

Compensation Information
New VA Hotline for Agent Orange

Vietnam veterans now have a new national toll-free helpline to answer
questions about Agent Orange Exposure, health care, and benefits. PR
Newswire reports that the VA expects considerable interest in the new
helpline at (800) 749-8387 because of a new policy that allows Vietnam
veterans with adult-onset (Type II) diabetes to receive disability
compensation for ongoing medical problems linked to exposure to Agent
Orange and other herbicides during the war. VA representatives staff the
hotline from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., CST, or you can access a 24-hour
automated system at other hours. The VA has established a specific Agent
Orange Web Page in conjunction with the helpline that can be accessed at
http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/benefits/herbicide