Every day should be veterans day: Read below to find out why

Originally posted in December 2013

I was poking  around on Facebook early this afternoon and I found a post by a friend; Retired Navy Commander John Jones of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  I had read the information contained in his post some two years ago, but time has not dampened the words’ effect on my sentiments and I wanted to give the words more exposure.

The words in Commander Jones’ post come from a speech given in 2010 by US Marine Corps Lt General John Kelly.  General Kelly tells the story of two Marines from different backgrounds bonded together by their common service and dedication.

Not revealed and hidden from his audience on the evening of his presentation was the fact of General Kelly’s loss of his own son four days earlier in Afghanistan.  Below, after a brief introduction by Geoffrey Ingersoll written in the Business Journal, are the words of General Kelly as he spoke them during that evening in 2010.

Five years ago, two Marines from two different walks of life who had literally just met were told to stand guard in front of their outpost’s entry control point.

Minutes later, they were staring down a big blue truck packed with explosives. With this particular shred of hell bearing down on them, they stood their ground.

Heck, they even leaned in.

I had heard the story many times, personally. But until today I had never heard Marine Lt. Gen. John Kelly’s telling of it to a packed house in 2010. Just four days following the death of his own son in combat, Kelly eulogized two other sons in an unforgettable manner.

From Kelly’s speech:

Two years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact, the 22nd of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 “The Walking Dead,” and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi. One battalion in the closing days of their deployment going home very soon, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour.

Two Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 22 and 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines.

The same broken down ramshackle building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, also my men and our allies in the fight against the terrorists in Ramadi, a city until recently the most dangerous city on earth and owned by Al Qaeda. Yale was a dirt poor mixed-race kid from Virginia with a wife and daughter, and a mother and sister who lived with him and he supported as well. He did this on a yearly salary of less than $23,000. Haerter, on the other hand, was a middle class white kid from Long Island.

They were from two completely different worlds. Had they not joined the Marines they would never have met each other, or understood that multiple America’s exist simultaneously depending on one’s race, education level, economic status, and where you might have been born. But they were Marines, combat Marines, forged in the same crucible of Marine training, and because of this bond they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same woman.

The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure went
something like: “Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no unauthorized
personnel or vehicles pass.” “You clear?” I am also sure Yale and Haerter then rolled their eyes and said in unison something like: “Yes Sergeant,” with just enough attitude that made the point without saying the words, “No kidding sweetheart, we know what we’re doing.” They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, al Anbar, Iraq.

A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way—perhaps 60-70
yards in length—and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed. A mosque 100 yards away collapsed. The truck’s engine came to rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped.

Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds of explosives. Two died, and because these two young infantrymen didn’t have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms.

When I read the situation report about the incident a few hours after it happened I
called the regimental commander for details as something about this struck me as
different. Marines dying or being seriously wounded is commonplace in combat. We expect Marines regardless of rank or MOS to stand their ground and do their duty, and even die in the process, if that is what the mission takes. But this just seemed different.

The regimental commander had just returned from the site and he agreed, but reported that there were no American witnesses to the event—just Iraqi police. I figured if there was any chance of finding out what actually happened and then to decorate the two Marines to acknowledge their bravery, I’d have to do it as a combat award that requires two eye-witnesses and we figured the bureaucrats back in Washington would never buy Iraqi statements. If it had any chance at all, it had to come under the signature of a general officer.

I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen Iraqi
police all of whom told the same story. The blue truck turned down into the alley and immediately sped up as it made its way through the serpentine. They all said, “We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing.” The Iraqi police then related that some of them also fired, and then to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion.

All survived. Many were injured … some seriously. One of the Iraqis elaborated and with tears welling up said, “They’d run like any normal man would to save his life.”

What he didn’t know until then, he said, and what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal. Choking past the emotion he said, “Sir, in the name of God no sane man would have stood there and done what they did.”

“No sane man.”

“They saved us all.”

What we didn’t know at the time, and only learned a couple of days later after I
wrote a summary and submitted both Yale and Haerter for posthumous Navy Crosses, was that one of our security cameras, damaged initially in the blast, recorded some of the suicide attack. It happened exactly as the Iraqis had described it. It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated.

You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives. Putting myself in their
heads I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. Exactly no time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: “… let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.”

The two Marines had about five seconds left to live. It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. By this time the truck was half-way through the barriers and gaining speed the whole time. Here, the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were—some running right past the Marines. They had three seconds left to live.

For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines’ weapons firing
non-stop…the truck’s windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tore in to the body of the son-of-a-bitch who is trying to get past them to kill their brothers—American and Iraqi—bedded down in the barracks totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground. If they had been aware, they would have know they were safe…because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber.

The recording shows the truck careening to a stop immediately in front of the two Marines. In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even started to step aside. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread should width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons. They had only one second left to live.

The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God.
Six seconds. Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty…into eternity. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight—for you.

Below you will find three YouTube Videos of General Kelly’s speech (the sound quality is not the best, but it is still stirring.)

English: Photo of LtGen John F. Kelly

English: Photo of LtGen John F. Kelly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/john-kellys-speech-about-marines-in-ramadi-2013-6#ixzz2mdNKgRjP

 

 

 

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Veterans Day: November 11th, 2014

 

  • Those following me in the past will know I always post something about veterans on Veterans Day and other veterans holidays.  I usually post the same or similar accounts year after year.  Often I will add something new … something compelling about fighting men and women.  The following is comprised of several stories or events.There is so much to honor about our and our allies’ veterans … so much, and we can never do the honor justice.  I hope you will do your part and more to honor out veterans.

    It Was Armistice Day (11th Month, 11th day, 11th Hour, 1918)

    Veterans Day 2007 poster from the United State...
    Image via Wikipedia

    The treaty to end the War To End All Wars was signed on November 11th, at 11 AM, 1918. The day was to be celebrated from that time on as Armistice Day.

    We know of course, World War I did not end all wars and another World War (WWII) would kill young and old alike from its beginning in 1939 until its end in 1945.

    The following, taken from the website Military.com explains the history of Armistince Day and how it came to be Veterans Day:

    Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.’” As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.

    In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress — at the urging of the veterans service organizations — amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

    And so we do … honor our veterans, today November 11, 2014 and forward in time.

    getimage.exe

     

    177811943 poster, United States, World War II Artist Perlin, B. Publisher United States. Office of War Information Studio Name/Printer United States. Government Printing Office Historical period World War II

    HERE FOR MORE VETERANS DAY POSTERS

    Related articles

    Here’s an enlightening piece about a small town that has yet to forget the

    ir liberators during WWII.  First posted by us on November 12, 2010

    TODAY, NOVEMBER 12 2010, WILL BE CELEBRATED AS VETERANS DAY IN THE UNITED STATES. THE INFORMATION POSTED BELOW TELLS A TALE FROM A FAR DISTANT LAND.  A TALE ABOUT ONE PEOPLE’S LOVE AND DEDICATION TO PEOPLE WHO FOUND THEMSELVES IN A FOREIGN TOWN,  SAVING OR LIBERATING ITS PEOPLE.

    THIS POSTING OF THE INFORMATION BELOW WILL HONOR OUR VETERANS, JUST AS THAT SMALL TOWN HAS HONORED THEM FOR AN UNBELIEVABLE NUMBER OF YEARS.  I HAVE NO IDEA WHO TO ATTRIBUTE ALL OF THE INFORMATIONAL TEXT AND THE BEAUTIFUL IMAGES FOUND BELOW.  FOR THAT I AM SORRY, BUT IF SOMEONE WILL LET ME KNOW WHO TO ACKNOWLEDGE FOR THIS GREAT INFORMATION, I WILL BE PLEASED TO ATTRIBUTE THEIR WORK.

    Some of you will not be able to see the images below.  I apologize, but here is the link for the town web site … you’ll like it:
    YOU’ BE ABLE TO ACCESS THE FESTIVITIES
    Have you ever wondered if anyone in Europe remembers America’s sacrifice in World War II?  There is an answer in a small town in the Czech Republic, in the town called Pilsen (Plzen ).

    Every 5 years, Pilsen conducts the Liberation Celebration of the City of Pilsen in the Czech Republic.

    May 6th, 2010, marked the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Pilsen by General George Patton’s 3rd Army.Pilsen
    is the town that every American should visit.  Why?  Because they love America and the American Soldier…

    Even 65 years later… by the thousands,The citizens of Pilsen came to say thank you.

    Lining  the streets of Pilsen for miles From the large crowds, to quiet reflective moments,including this American family’s private time to honor and remember their American hero.

    This is the crash site of Lt. Virgil P. Kirkham, the last recorded American USAAF pilot killed in Europe during WWII. It was Lt. Kirkham’s 82nd mission and one that he volunteered to go on. At the time, this 20-year-old pilot’s P-47 Thunderbolt plane was shot down, a young 14-year-old Czech girl, Zdenka Sladkova, was so moved by his sacrifice she made a vow to care for him and his memory.For 65 straight years, Zdenka, now 79-years-old, took on the responsibility to care for Virgil’s crash site and memorial near her home.

    On May 4th, she was recognized by the Mayor of Zdenka’s home town of Trhanova ,Czech Republic, forher sacrifice and extraordinary effort to honor this American hero.

    Another chapter in this important story… the Czech people are teaching their children about America’s sacrifice for their freedom.

    American Soldiers, young and old, are the ”Rock Stars” these children and their parents want autographs from.

    Yes, Rock Stars! As they patiently waited for his autograph, the respect this little Czech boy and his father have for our troops serving today was heartwarming and inspirational.

    The Brian LaViolette Foundation established The Scholarship of Honor in tribute to General George S. Patton and the American Soldier, past and present.

    Each year, a different military hero will be honored in tribute to General Patton’s memory and their mission to liberate Europe . This award will be presented to a graduating senior who will be entering the military or a form of community service such as fireman, policeman, teaching or nursing – – – a cause greater than self. The student will be from 1 of the 5 high schools in Pilsen, Czech Republic .

    The first award will be presented in May 2011 in honor of Lt. Virgil Kirkham, that young 20-year-old P-47 pilot killed 65 years ago in the final days of WWII.

    Presenting Virgil’s award will be someone who knows the true meaning of service and sacrifice… someone who looks a lot like Virgil. Marion Kirkham, Virgil’s brother, who himself served during WWII in the United States Army Air Corps!!!

    In closing… Here is what the city of Pilsen thinks of General Patton’s grandson. George Patton Waters (another Rock Star!) we’re proud to say, serves on Brian’s Foundation board.

    And it’s front page news over there. not buried in the middle of the social section.

    Brigadier General Miroslav Zizka – 1st Deputy Chief of Staff, Ministry of Defense, Czech Armed Forces.

    Notice the flags? Share this email with your family and friends. Every American should hear this story.

    I have posted the following poems for several years running. I hope you will enjoy them and understand why I believe the draft should be reinstated.

    THE FOLLOWING POEMS, IN FLANDERS FIELD BY LT. COLONEL JOHN McCrae AND TOMMY BY RUDYARD KIPLING SAY MORE ABOUT THE TRUE FEELING OF SERVICEMEN, AND NOW WOMEN, THROUGHOUT OUR WORLD THAN ANY OTHER POEMS ON THE SUBJECT OF WAR AND SERVICE.  AND, EACH POEM DOES SO IN PLAIN, UNSTILTED LANGUAGE.  AS MEMORIAL DAY PASSES , I POST THE POEMS IN THE HOPE THAT OUR MEN AND WOMEN WILL NO LONGER DIE, OR BECOME DISABLED IN  WAR … UNDECLARED OR OTHERWISE.

    In Flanders Fields

    Veterans Day | Field of poppies

    Veterans Day | Field of poppies (Photo credit: *Arielle*)

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved, and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high.

    If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.

    Detailed information concerning the circumstances of the penning of In Flanders Fields can be found here

    TOMMY

    I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer, The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.” The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die, I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I: O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”; But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play, The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play, O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

    I went into a theatre as sober as could be, They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me; They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls, But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls! For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”; But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide, The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide, O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

    Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap; An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit. Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?” But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll, The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll, O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

    We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too, But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you; An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints, Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints; While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”, But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind, There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind, O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

    You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all: We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational. Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace. For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!” But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot; An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please; An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

    Below is a nice recitation of Tommy

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nGClrsAN2aY

     

    You will also find a very lengthy account of Kipling and his life here, where one of his most popular poems, My Boy Jack is given full treatment (after all it was about his son Jack’s death in battle.)  For reasons unstated, no mentions is made of  Tommy. Perhaps others do not share my respect for the poem, but more can be found regarding Tommy’s publication by clicking  here.

    Finally, the reader has seen that both poems are written by those who wrote of their own nation’s experience in war and individual battles.  The soldiers who fight, have much in common and little at odds … with the exception of the cause for which they must fight as dictated by their “Commanders in Chief.”

    This will end my 2014 contribution for
    Veterans Day.  I hope it was not to much to swallow for one setting, but if it is/was return to read it another day or days.
    \

     

 

Honor Our Veterans: November 11, 2012

It Was Armistice Day (11th Month, 11th day, 11th Hour, 1918)

The treaty to end the War To End All Wars was signed on November 11th, at 11 AM, 1918. The day was to be celebrated from that time on as Armistice Day.

We know of course, World War I did not end all wars and another World War (WWII) would kill young and old alike from its beginning in 1939 until its end in 1945.

The following, taken from the website Military.com explains the history of Armistince Day and how it came to be Veterans Day:

Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.’” As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.

In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress — at the urging of the veterans service organizations — amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

And so we do … honor our veterans, today November 11, 2012 and forward in time.

getimage.exe

17781943 poster, United States, World War II Artist Perlin, B. Publisher United States. Office of War Information Studio Name/Printer United States. Government Printing Office Historical period World War II

HERE FOR MORE VETERANS DAY POSTERS

Related articles

More For Veterans In New Mexico

Officially, Veterans Day was last week, but in my mind, every day should be a day for veterans. With that in mind, I am posting links to various benefits New Mexico veterans can seek.

Here’s the home page for New Mexico Department Of Veterans Services

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