DISPATCHES
NEWSLETTER
NOV 2017

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Note From the Editor

This issue of Dispatches includes an interesting story Kurt Chew-Een Lee is believed to have been the first Asian-American Officer in the Marine Corps, a piece on one of the bloodiest battles of Vietnam, FSB Ripcord, and a bit of history on Camp Pendleton.

Please let me know your comments regarding your Dispatches - things you like and things you like less. Also please contact me with any stories or articles you would like considered for publishing. I can be reached at Mike.Christy@togetherweserved.com.

All information for Bulletin Board Posts and Reunion Announcements please send to Admin@togetherweserved.com

Lt Col Mike Christy U.S. Army (Ret)


CONTENTS

1/   View Your Entry in Our Roll of Honor!
2/   Profile in Courage: Kurt Chew-Een Lee
3/   Preserve Your Old Photos: Let Us Help For Free!
4/   Military Myths & Legends: Five Myths About the Vietnam War
5/   Do You Still Have Your Boot Camp/Basic Training Photo?
6/   Places, Bases and Memories: From Spanish Mission to Defender of Freedom
7/   Featured Military Association: The National Association of Destroyer Veterans
8/   2017 Cruise for Troops: Perfect Blend of Great People & Nice Rides
9/   Have A Military Reunion Coming Soon?
10/ Battlefield Chronicles: The Bloody Battle of FSB Ripcord
11/ New Together We Served Military Store
12/ TWS Bulletin Board
13/ TWS Person Locator Service
14/ Letters to the Editor
15/ Can't Find What You're Looking For?
16/ Book Review: Ghosts of Iwo Jima

 

View Your Entry in Our Roll of Honor!

As a fitting tribute to our Members of Together We Served, your service to our country is now honored in our Roll of Honor, the most powerful online display of Living, Fallen and Deceased Veterans existing today. Our 1.67 million Veteran Members, who served from WWII to present day, now have a dedicated entry displaying a brief service summary of their service and their photo in uniform if posted.

You can find your Roll of Honor entry easily - click on the graphic below and select your service branch. Then enter your Last Name in the search window at top right and scroll down. Please check your entry for accuracy and Log in to TWS to update any information on your Profile Page, such as your Last Unit, and add your service photo for completeness if you haven't already done so. 

If you have any questions regarding your entry in our Roll of Honor, please don't hesitate to contact us at Admin@togetherweserved.com or contact our Live Help Desk at the bottom left of your TWS website.
 


 

Profiles in Courage: Kurt Chew-Een Lee

Kurt Chew-Een Lee is believed to have been the first Asian-American officer in the Marine Corps, rising through the ranks beginning his career from World War II to the Vietnam War. 

Lee was born in 1926 in San Francisco and grew up in Sacramento, California. Lee's father was M. Young Lee, born in Guangzhou (Canton), emigrating in the 1920s to the Territory of Hawaii and then California. Once established in America, M. Young Lee returned to China to honor an arranged marriage. He brought his bride to California and worked as a distributor of fruits and vegetable to hotels and restaurants. Two of his brothers, Chew-Fan and Chew-Mon, became Army officers who also served in the Korean War. Chew-Mon received the Distinguished Service Cross and Chew-Fan the Bronze Star.

Eager to fight in World War II, Kurt Chew-Een Lee joined the U.S. Marine in 1944. Instead, he was based at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego as a language instructor. 

From October 1945 to April 1946, Lee was enrolled in The Basic School, newly reactivated for USMC officer training. Second Lieutenant Lee graduated to become the first non-white officer and the first Asian-American officer in the Marine Corps. He deployed to Guam and China to interrogate Japanese prisoners of war

He was the only person of Asian ancestry many of his fellow Marines had ever met. Behind his back, some called him a "Chinese laundry man" and questioned whether he was ready to kill Chinese soldiers. Some even questioned his loyalty as U.S. forces were battling Chinese forces, which had joined the conflict on the side of North Koreans

But as his unit faced the intense enemy fire, rugged territory, and brutal weather, he won his men's loyalty as he repeatedly put himself at risk to protect his unit and others.

When the North Koreans attacked across the DMZ in June 1950, Lee's unit was shipped out to Korea on September 1, 1950. For two weeks he drilled his machine-gun platoon day and night on the deck of the ship, enduring derision from the other platoon leaders. 

After arriving in Japan for final battle preparations, Lee's superiors tried to reassign him as staff officer handling translation duties. Lee insisted that he was only there to "fight communists," and allowed to retain command of his machine gun platoon.

The 1st Battalion 7th Marines, including Lee, landed at Inchon on September 21, 1950, to attack the North Koreans and force them to retreat northwards. The People's Republic of China sent troops to stiffen the North Korean fighting response. On the night of November 2 - 3 in the Sudong Gorge, Lee conducted a sole reconnaissance mission in heavy snow, moving well ahead of his unit. He fired rounds and threw grenades to make it sound like the Marines were advancing. 

When Lee reached the outpost where the Chinese forces were hiding, he employed a ruse no one in his unit could've done. "Don't shoot!" he yelled. "I'm Chinese."

Hearing Chinese confused them and the temporary distraction proved crucial as the Marines launched a counterattack.

During the attack, Lee kept his men focused by directing them to shoot at the enemy's muzzle flashes. Following this, Lee single-handedly advanced upon the enemy front and attacked their positions one by one to draw their fire and reveal themselves.

His men fired at the muzzle flashes and inflicted casualties, forcing the enemy to retreat. While advancing, Lee shouted to the enemy in Mandarin Chinese to sow confusion and then attacked with hand grenades and gunfire. Lee was wounded in the knee and in the morning light was shot in the right elbow by a sniper, shattering the bones. He was evacuated to an army field hospital outside of Hamhung. For bravely attacking the enemy and saving his men, Lee was awarded the Navy Cross, the second highest honor given for combat bravery. 

"Despite serious wounds sustained as he pushed forward," the citation read, "First Lieutenant Lee charged directly into the face of the enemy fire and, by his dauntless fighting spirit and resourcefulness, served to inspire other members of his platoon to heroic efforts in pressing a determined counterattack and driving the hostile forces from the sector."

Some who either served with Maj. Lee or knew of him said they believed he was deserving of the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award.

Less than a month later, while Lee was recovering in a field hospital from a gunshot wound to an arm, tens of thousands of Chinese forces surged into the region, overwhelming 8,000 American troops fighting as United Nations forces.

His arm was still in a sling when he and a sergeant left the hospital against orders, commandeered an Army jeep and returned to the front. Over the next two weeks, Lee helped lead his unit of several hundred Marines across snowy mountain passes at night, using only a compass to find and reinforce smaller groups that had been surrounded.

Late on December 2nd after several days of exhausting combat during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, Lee's platoon was given the task of spearheading a 500-man thrust against the Chinese forces to relieve the outnumbered Fox Company of 2nd Battalion 7th Marines trapped on Fox Hill, part of Toktong Pass and strategic to controlling the Chosin Reservoir road. Lee's relief force was given heavier loads to carry through the snow, up and down lightly wooded hills, through the extreme cold (-20 F, -29 C), and under the very limited visibility of snow blizzard and darkness. Lt. Col. Ray Davis, Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion, had no instructions for Lee on how to accomplish the mission except to stay off the roads with their heavily reinforced roadblocks. 

As point man of 2nd Rifle Platoon in Baker Company, Lee used only his compass to guide his way, leading 1st Battalion in single file. Suddenly pinned down by heavy enemy fire coming from a rocky hill, Lee refused to be delayed in his mission. He directed the men to attack the hill with "marching fire", a stratagem used by General George S. Patton in which troops continue to advance as they apply just enough suppressive fire to keep the enemy's heads down. Upon reaching the rocky hill, Lee and the battalion charged, attacking enemy soldiers in their foxholes. Lee, with his right arm still in a cast, shot two enemy soldiers on his way to the top. When he reached the top, he noticed that the other side of the hill was covered with enemy foxholes facing the other way in expectation of an attack from the road, but the foxholes were now empty and the enemy soldiers were over 400 yards (370 m) away in rout because of the fearfully sudden 1st Battalion attack from their rear. 

Following this success, communication was established with nearby Fox Company on Fox Hill. 1st Battalion directed mortar fire against the enemy and called in an airstrike, then Lee led Baker Company forward in an attack which forced a path to Fox Company. During this attack, a Chinese machine gunner targeted Lee, wounding him seriously enough to end his Korean War service. Regrouping his men, the badly wounded Lee led Baker Company in more firefights against pockets of enemy soldiers in the Toktong Pass area, securing the road. Lieutenant Colonel Davis received the Medal of Honor for commanding the relief of Fox Company. For this action, Lee was awarded the Silver Star.

"First Lieutenant Lee's platoon was pinned down by intense hostile fire while attacking south on the main service road from Koto-Ri," the citation said. "Observing that the heavy fire was inflicting numerous casualties, he exposed himself to the deadly fire to move among his troops, shouting words of encouragement and directing a withdrawal to covered positions. Assured that the last of his wounded was undercover, he was seeking shelter for himself when he was struck down and severely wounded by a burst of enemy machine-gun fire."

In addition to the Navy Cross and the Silver Star, Maj. Lee received many other military honors, including a Purple Heart. While serving in the Vietnam War, he received his second Purple Heart. He also received the Legion of Merit.

Slight of build at 5 feet 6 inches tall and 130 pounds, he brought outsize determination to the battlefield, and his heroics have been recounted in books and a documentary film, "Uncommon Courage: Breakout at Chosin," shown on the Smithsonian Channel in 2010.Among books written featuring his exploits is "Colder the Hell: A Marine Rifle Company at Chosin Reservoir" (1996) by Joseph R. Owen.

Lee retired from military service at the rank of major in 1968 and worked a civilian job with New York Life Insurance Company for seven years. During this period, Lee's mother died in Sacramento, and Lee's brother Chew-Mon Lee died at the rank of colonel in the US Army while serving as an attaché in Taiwan. His brother Chew-Fan Lee advanced in his career as a hospital pharmacist. In 1975, Lee began working as a regulatory compliance coordinator for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association; a position he held for almost two decades.

His first wife, Linda Rivera, died. His second marriage, to Helga Schneider Lee, ended in divorce. Neither marriage produced children. He had a step-daughter from his second marriage. 

Kurt Chew-Een Lee died on March 3, 2014, at the age of 88.

Survivors include a stepdaughter, Nicole Ashley; and three sisters: Faustina Lee, Betty Mar and Juliet Yokoe and his brother Chew-Fan. 


 

Preserve Your Old Photos: Let Us Help for Free!

Do you have old photos from your service days stashed away in a drawer or in a shoe box in your attic? Old photos fade with time and if they are not scanned and preserved digitally, they risk eventually being lost forever.

This is where TWS can help. We have just invested in a high quality Fujitsu book and photo scanner that can scan any size of photo or yearbook. As a service to our members, we would like to offer you a free photo scanning service for your most significant photos from your service which we will then return to you, in original condition, along with a CD containing your photo files.

In addition, we can upload your photos for you to your Photo Album on your TWS Service Profile which will also appear in your Shadow box and available to you to access or download at any time.

Please contact us at Admin@togetherweserved.com for full details on this Free Service. 


 

Military Myths & Legends: Five Myths About the Vietnam War

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick say their multi-part PBS documentary about the Vietnam War, which concluded at the end of September, was intended to unpack a complex conflict and to embark upon the process of healing and reconciliation. The series has catapulted the Vietnam War back into the national consciousness. But despite thousands of books, articles, and films about this moment in our history, there remain many deeply entrenched myths.

MYTH NO. 1
The Viet Cong was a scrappy guerrilla force fighting a superpower.

"Vastly superior in tools and techniques, and militarily dominant over much of the world," historian Ronald Aronson wrote about the hegemonic United States and the impudent rebels, "the Goliath sought to impose on David a peace favorable to his vision of the world." Recode recently compared the Viet Cong to Uber: "young, scrappy and hungry troops break rules and create new norms, shocking the enemy."

In reality, the Viet Cong, the pro-North force in South Vietnam, was armed by both North Vietnam - which planned, controlled and directed Viet Cong campaigns in the South - and the Soviet Union. According to the CIA, from 1954 to 1968, communist nations (primarily the Soviet Union and China) provided the North with $3.2 billion in military and economic aid, mostly coming after 1964 as the war accelerated. Other sources suggest the number was more than double that figure.

The Viet Cong had powerful and modern AK-47s, a Soviet-made automatic rifle that was the equivalent of the M-16 used by American troops. Its fighters were also equipped with submachine guns, grenades, rocket launchers and an array of other weapons. By contrast, the U.S. military gave the South Vietnamese armed forces old World War II-era castoffs, such as M-1 rifles, until the late 1970s.

MYTH NO. 2
The Vietnamese refugees who came to the United States represented the elite.

As the Immigration Policy Center's Alicia Campi has put it, the 130,000 Vietnamese who came to the United States at the end of the conflict "were generally high-skilled and well-educated" people. Sociologist Carl Bankston described this group as "the elite of South Vietnam."

Although the group that fled in 1975, referred to as the first wave, was more educated and middle-class, many who arrived through the U.S.-sponsored evacuation efforts were also people with close ties to the Americans in Vietnam whom Washington had promised to rescue. They were not necessarily "elite." These included ordinary soldiers of South Vietnam as well as people who had worked as clerks or secretaries in the U.S. Embassy.

The second wave of refugees who left Vietnam after 1975 numbered approximately 2 million. They came from rural areas and were often less educated. Most escaped on rickety wooden boats and became known as "boat people"; they deluged neighboring countries of "first asylum" - Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Indonesia - at a rate of 2,000 to 50,000 per month. More than 400,000 were admitted into the United States.

The third wave of refugees, of which an estimated 159,000 came to the United States beginning in 1989, were offspring of American fathers and Vietnamese mothers, as well as political prisoners and those who had been put in "reeducation camps."

MYTH NO. 3
The American fighting force in Vietnam relied on the draft.

Popular culture is rife with examples of poor and minority soldiers arriving in Vietnam via the draft and then dying. The idea runs through the heart of Robert Zemeckis's "Forrest Gump," Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" and Michael Cimino's "The Deer Hunter," among other movies and books. Vietnam was "the most blatant class war since the Civil War," as James Fallows put it in his 1989 book "More Like Us."

The facts show otherwise. Findings from the Report of the President's Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force in February 1970 show that 78 percent of active-duty troops in 1965 were volunteers. Nor did the military rely primarily on disadvantaged citizens or African Americans. According to the commission's report, African Americans "constituted only 12.7 percent of nearly 1.7 million enlisted men serving voluntarily in 1969." Seventy-nine percent of troops had at least a high school education (compared with 63 percent of Korean War veterans and 45 percent of World War II veterans). And according to VFW Magazine, 50 percent were from middle-income backgrounds, and 88 percent were white (representing 86 percent of the deaths).

MYTH NO. 4
Communist forces breached the U.S. Embassy in Saigon during the Tet Offensive.

One of the most pivotal events of the Vietnam War was the attack by the Viet Cong on the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in 1968. Retired ambassador David F. Lambertson, who served as a political officer there, said in one account that "it was a shock to American and world opinion. The attack on the Embassy, the single most powerful symbol of U.S. presence signaled that something was badly wrong in Vietnam. The Tet Offensive broke the back of American public opinion." Early reports by the Associated Press said the Viet Cong had occupied the building. UPI claimed that the fighters had taken over five floors.

In fact, communist forces had blasted a hole through an outer wall of the compound and hunkered down in a six-hour battle against U.S. and South Vietnamese forces. The embassy was never occupied, and the Viet Cong attackers were killed. The Tet Offensive's other coordinated attacks by 60,000 enemy troops against South Vietnamese targets were repelled. Don Oberdorfer, writing for Smithsonian Magazine, observed that Tet was a military disaster for the North, yet it was "a battlefield defeat that ultimately yielded victory" for the enemy.

In part, that was because the erroneous reports about the embassy assault were searing and humiliating to Americans, and no subsequent military victories during Tet could dislodge the powerful notion that the war effort was doomed.

MYTH NO. 5
South Vietnamese soldiers were unwilling and unable to fight.

Some contend that the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), the South's army, was not up to the job. Andy Walpole, formerly of Liverpool John Moores University, wrote that "they were unwilling to engage in combat with their guerrilla counterparts and were more interested in surviving than winning." Harry F. Noyes, who served in Vietnam, complained about this widespread belief: "Everybody 'knows' they were incompetent, treacherous and cowardly."

 But those who fought alongside the ARVN tell a different story. Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, an adviser to the South Vietnamese Airborne Division, bemoaned that "the sacrifice and valor and commitment of the South Vietnamese Army largely disappeared from the American political and media consciousness." He wrote of the tenacious fighting spirit of those troops, particularly at the Battle of Dong Ha, where they were charged with supporting American Marine units. "In combat, the South Vietnamese refused to leave their own dead or wounded troopers on the field or abandon a weapon," he recalled.

South Vietnamese forces also fought off the surprise communist assaults on Saigon and elsewhere during the Tet Offensive of 1968. In August and September of that year, according to Gen. Creighton Abrams, commander of U.S. military operations from 1968 to 1972, "the ARVN killed more enemy than all other allied forces combined, and suffered more KIA, both actual and on the basis of the ratio of enemy to friendly killed in action," because it received less air and other tactical support than U.S. forces. In March 1972, during the Easter Offensive, South Vietnamese forces, with American air support, also prevailed against a conventional enemy invasion consisting of 20 divisions. And in April 1975, the 18th Division defending Xuan Loc "held off massive attacks by an entire North Vietnamese Army corps," according to one report. In the end, those soldiers had even more at stake than the Americans did.

Source: Lan Cao

 

Do You Still Have Your Boot Camp/Basic Training Photo?

Together We Served has a growing archive of more than 10,000 Boot Camp/ Basic Training Graduation Photos which we now display on your Military Service Page and Shadow Box. We also have a growing collection of Yearbooks which we will be making available on the site shortly.

We are still searching for Boot Camp/ Basic Training Photos and Yearbooks. So if you have yours available, please contact us at Admin@togetherweserved.com or call us on (888) 398-3262.

Either you can send us a scanned file of your photo or you can send it to us for scanning. We will add this for you to the Recruit/ Officer Training section of your Military Service Page. 

All photos and yearbooks will be returned to you in original condition along with a CD containing your scanned photo. 

 

Places, Bases, and Memories: From Spanish Mission to Defender of Freedom

Of all the Marine Corps bases throughout the world, Camp Pendleton has one of the most intriguing pasts, filled with historical charm and vibrancy. Spanish explorers, colorful politicians, herds of thundering cattle, skillful vaqueros and tough Marines have all contributed to the history of this land.

Sept. 25 marks the 75th anniversary of the dedication of the camp by President Franklin Roosevelt as a Marine Corps installation. What started as a Spanish missionary installation is now one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the world - and a much-needed break between the urban expanse of San Diego and Orange counties.

In 1769, a Spaniard by the name of Capt. Gaspar de Portola led an expeditionary force northward from southern California, seeking to establish Franciscan missions throughout California. On July 20 of that same year, the expedition arrived at a location now known as Camp Pendleton, and as it was the holy day St. Margaret, they baptized the land in the name of Santa Margarita.

During the next 30 years, 21 missions were established, the most productive one being Mission San Luis Rey, just south of the present-day Camp Pendleton. At that time, San Luis Rey Mission had control over the Santa Margarita area.

In 1821, following Mexico's independence from Spain, the Californios became the new ruling class of California, and many were the first generation descendants of the Portola expedition. The Mexican governor was awarding land grants and ranchos to prominent businessmen, officials, and military leaders. In 1841, two brothers by the name of Pio and Andres Pico became the first private owners of Rancho Santa Margarita. More land was later added to the grant, making the name Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores, and that name stayed with the ranch until the Marine Corps acquired it in 1942.

In 1863, a dashing Englishman named John Forster (Pio Pico's brother-in-law) paid off Pico's gambling debts in return for the deed to the ranch. During his tenure as owner of the ranch, he expanded the ranch house, which was begun by the Picos in 1841, and developed the rancho into a thriving cattle industry.

Forster's heirs, however, were forced to sell the ranch in 1882 because of a string of bad luck, which included a series of droughts and a fence law that forced Forster to construct fencing around the extensive rancho lands. It was purchased by wealthy cattleman James Flood and managed by Irishman Richard O'Neill who was eventually rewarded for his faithful service with half ownership. Under the guidance of O'Neill's son, Jerome, the ranch began to net a profit of nearly half a million dollars annually, and the house was modernized and furnished to its present form.

In the early 1940s, both the Army and the Marine Corps were looking for land for a large training base. The Army lost interest in the project, but in April of 1942 it was announced that the rancho was about to be transformed into the largest Marine Corps base in the country. The Marine Corps paid $4.2 million for the rancho.

On the eve of World War II, the Marine training bases were limited to Quantico, VA, Parris Island, SC, and San Diego. When the expansion of all U.S. armed forces was authorized by President Roosevelt's proclamation of an unlimited national emergency on May 27, 1941, an immediate need for additional amphibious force training facilities led to the construction of Camp Pendleton.

 After five months of construction, the Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores, which included San Onofre, became the West Coast's largest military camp. The first troops to occupy the new Base were the 9th Marine Regiment with the 1st Battalion, 12th Marines, who marched for three days from Camp Elliott in San Diego to Camp Pendleton. President Roosevelt dedicated the Base on Sept. 25, 1942, in honor of World War I Major General Joseph H. Pendleton who had long advocated the establishment of a West Coast training base.

By 1943, the first women Marine reservists arrived to help keep base administration running smoothly. The O'Neill's blacksmith shop became the Ranch House Chapel and opened primarily for their use.

By October 1944, Camp Pendleton was declared a "permanent installation" and by 1946, became the home of the 1st Marine Division.

During the Korean War, $20 million helped expand and upgrade existing facilities, including the construction of Camp Horno. When Camp Pendleton trained the country's fighting force for the Korean and Vietnam Wars, approximately 200,000 Marines passed through the Base on their way to the Far East.

The Corps broadened its capabilities during the 1980s from "amphibious" to "expeditionary" by combining infantry, armor, supply and air power. Troops and equipment could now be deployed halfway around the world in only days as part of a self-sustaining air-ground team. This successful use of military power has been demonstrated through Marine Corps operations in Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti Afghanistan and Iraq.

 Camp Pendleton has continued to grow through renovations, replacing its original tent camps with more than 2,600 buildings and 500 miles of roads.

 

Featured Military Association: The National Association of Destroyer Veterans

Together We Served is pleased to feature one of our Association Partners, The National Association of Destroyer Veterans.

Founded as Tin Can Sailors in 1976, The National Association of Destroyer Veterans  now have thousands of members. The Association has three basic purposes:

  1) To serve Destroyer Veterans through our magazine, events, ship's store, free admissions, etc.

  2) To support the Historic Fleet through our Destroyer Museum Grant Program and with volunteer labor.

  3) To support the Active Fleet through free distribution of our magazine and contributions to Navy Relief.

The National Association of Destroyer Veterans helps support and maintain 10 ship museums through fundraisers and work parties. You can find a list here

If you would like more information on the DesVets and how to join, contact NTWS Member Captain Morgan Little at CaptLittle@gmail.com or visit their website at http://www.destroyers.org


 

2017 Cruise for Troops: Perfect Blend of Great People & Nice Rides

By Tom Edwards

The 9th annual Cruise for Troops was held in Columbus, Minnesota on September 23, 2017.  It was once again held in the very spacious parking lot at Running Aces Casino & Racetrack known as the gathering spot for the largest combined car, truck and motorcycle show in the Midwest. The previous get-together had approximately 1,000 various forms of 2- and 4-wheel transportation with 4,000 people enjoying an eclectic mix of bikes, classic cars, hot rods, and trucks. There was, literally, something for everyone. 

It was also an unseasonably warm fall day for the land of 10,000 lakes. In this part of the country, t-shirts and shorts are not the typical uniforms of the day after the leaves have started to change from green to a great mix of orange, yellow and red. 

Cruise for Troops benefits the Invisible Wounds Project (www.iwproject.org) is a 501c3 organization. As their website notes: "Invisible Wounds Project is focused on raising awareness and providing services to military and emergency personnel who are battling PTSD, mental health issues, and suicide. It is our belief that in working with the community, our sponsors/donors and volunteers that we can have a dramatic impact on the mental health crisis that is taking place within this group of men and women". What a noble goal. The first Cruise for Troops involved 35 cars and about 100 participants. As a veteran/car fan I am so pleased to have seen the event reach new levels of success and participation with each successive year. 

All proceeds benefit the Invisible Wounds Project charity.

The cruise of cars, bikes and trucks started at noon with the USA - 1 Monster Truck leading the way. That was fun to see. When I saw that truck my first thought was "Finally, a truck that is perfect for a Minnesota winter". It was followed by a great mix of "If-you-like-it-you-saw-it" rides. I'm 68 years young and I'm reasonably confident that was the most motorcycles I have ever seen cruise on by in my lifetime. Just like every other ride there, they all looked to have rolled off the show room floor that day.

Also, being represented was Operation 23 to Zero (www.op23tozero.com). Their Mission Statement is: "We provide support to those in need by relieving simple stressors for those who may not see a solution in sight. We work to provide a connection that can save a life, and show that brotherhood never ends. We also fight to raise awareness of the military suicide rates."

I have seen various numbers concerning the suicide rate among veterans; all those figures are in the low twenties. The bottom line; one is too many. I am grateful for organizations that reach out to support those that have served this nation and help keep it free. Seeing Operation 23 to 0 extend a helping hand was a wonderful experience for my wife Cathy, and I, and I'm sure for everyone there.

For those that enjoy listening to a very well-played 6 string acoustic guitar and a great singing voice - and who doesn't - this event had you covered. Sailor Jerri, (www.sailorjerrimusic.com) delivered a nice mix of songs. She is from central Minnesota and served in the Navy as an Aviation Mechanic. One of the songs she performed was her own "Hallelujah Veterans Version" and it justifiably received a long round of applause. Having enjoyed seeing her, I went to her site and in the Bio section was very surprised to read "I recently started to learn to play guitar". Recently? Really? Jerri, trust me, you're picking it up at a rapid pace. 

Russ Hanes, the founder of the Invisible Wounds Project once again committed countless hours into making this another great event. His concern for veterans and first responders is admirable and deeply appreciated by those connected to those groups. They have stepped up and woven a positive thread through the fabric of our society. Hand salute to Russ, his volunteers, the sponsors and the veterans and first responders they support.

The first Cruise for Troops involved 35 cars and about 100 participants. As a veteran/car fan, I am so pleased to have seen the event reach new levels of success and participation with each successive year.

 

Have A Military Reunion Coming Soon?

TWS has nearly 1.7 million members who served in a wide range of units, ships, squadrons and duty stations. Get more people to your Reunion by sending your Reunion information to us in the following format and we will post it for free in our Reunion Announcements on Together We Served, in emails that go to our members and in our Newsletters.

Please contact us at admin@togetherweserved.com with the following details of your Reunion:

Your Reunion Name:
Associated Unit or Association:
Date Starting:
Date Finishing:
Place Where Held:
City:
State:
Contact Person:
Contact Phone Number:
Contact Email Address:
Website:
Other Comments: 

 

Battlefield Chronicles: The Bloody Battle of FSB Ripcord

Tet Offensive. Siege of the Khe Sanh. Battle of Hue. Fall of Saigon. These are just a few of the names a person might hear when discussing famous battles of the Vietnam War. Less likely to be mentioned is the final high-casualty engagement between units of the U.S. infantry and the North Vietnamese Army. Taking place between March and July 1970, the Battle of Fire Support Base Ripcord would stay tucked into a hidden chapter of the war's history for decades.

At the same time, President Richard Nixon was secretly withdrawing troops from Vietnam, leaving only the 101st Airborne Division fully operational which he tasked with regaining initiative of the A Shau Valley, a key strategic focal point for the NVA.

So it was that members of the 187th and 506th Infantry Regiments, along with supporting units under the command of 3rd Brigade, were sent to the abandoned Fire Support Base Ripcord to set the stage for the planned offensive 'Operation Texas Star.'

The plan was to rebuild the abandoned fire support base set on four hilltops to be used as outposts for the planned offensive by the U.S. Marines to search and destroy the NVA supply lines in the mountains overlooking the valley.

The operation was held with as little press coverage as possible since it was happening during the time of the Cambodian incursion in May and June 1970. This was a series of 13 major missions conducted covertly in neutral Cambodia but Cambodian communists were helping North Vietnam with logistics and other types of support. It was also one year after the media disaster of Hamburger Hill, the battle known for its questionable use of infantry instead of firepower which led to 75 Soldiers losing their lives and another 372 wounded.

The Cambodian campaign was aimed to disrupt the Ho Chi Minh supply trail which spanned outside Vietnam borders, through Laos and Cambodia. The mission was of similar nature as the 'Texas Star Operation' and even though the latter was not secret, it was still on the certain level of "Need to Know Basis".

While the members of the 101st Division were rebuilding the base and preparing the attack on the enemy supply lines, the NVA was secretly gathering intelligence. They also launched sporadic attacks from March 12th and lasted until June 30th. It is estimated that as many as 25,000 NVA troops were positioned in the A Shau Valley area at the time.

After weeks of reconnaissance, on the morning of July 1, 1970, the North Vietnamese started firing mortars at the firebase. The battle for the hilltops raged for days. The 101st was surrounded, outnumbered almost ten to one and running low on supplies. It was only the high ground and the bravery of its defenders that kept the enemy from overrunning the FSB Ripcord.

The heaviest of these attacks took place between July 1st and 23rd. During those 23-days, 75 U.S. Soldiers were killed in action, making the Battle of FSB Ripcord one of the deadliest battles in the Vietnam War for the United States.

Col. Ben Harrison (later Maj. Gen.), the Commander of the 3rd Brigade, claimed the NVA losses at Ripcord were one of the reasons why the North postponed their Easter Offensive that finally happened in 1972 since they had to resupply and reorganize after the attacks on the firebase. 

Denny Kirkham was 18 years old at the time. Drafted only one month out of high school, he served in Vietnam as a Spec. 4 Radio Operator for 3rd Brigade's Tactical Operations Center at Camp Evans. Working in the lines of communication, his MOS was to be picked up and placed where needed. This is how he came to be part of FSB Ripcord history.

"I woke up one night out of my bunk and was thrown into a Huey with a Spec 5 Radio Repairman," reported Kirkham. "Next thing I know, we're flying in the dark, jumping off and skidding onto the hillside. That's how it all started. Tactical operations bunker on Ripcord had been partially hit, and there was some wounded personnel. A couple of those were signalmen, radio operators. We were there to resupply and support communications."

Though only there for a week and a half, Kirkham was inundated with the siege and all of the pandemonium that went along with it.

"It kind of just dragged on and on," recalled Kirkham. "I was there for several of the attempts of the NVA to come through the wall. We were surrounded most of the time. It was my first time being under mortar and artillery fire. I witnessed several of the B-52 strikes."    
Kirkham was also there when anti-aircraft fire from enemy forces dealt one of the biggest blows to FSB Ripcord's supply cache.

"A helicopter was shot down right above the ammo dump," said Kirkham. "It was like the whole top of the hill was coming off. That hurt us for several days. We had to depend on other bases around Ripcord to really help cover us until we could be resupplied."

Though young and in awe of his surroundings, Kirkham was aware that, like everyone else, he was placed on the hill to do a job.

"It was a counter-insurgency operation," he said. "I was a radio operator with secure information. We had classified information coming in. At one time, my radio was the only one that was transmitting. I was able to keep it going, and I was kept busy for a little farm boy from Indiana. I stayed on my toes; leaning up against sandbags to sleep for an hour, then staying up for another 12. I don't remember a bunk at all. I don't remember sleeping."

That feeling was echoed throughout the base, from the grunts in the foxholes working to diminish the strength of the NVA battalions to the "Shake n' Bake Sergeants" who had risen through the ranks in the blink of an eye to satisfy a growing need for NCOs to lead the way.

As an offensive quickly dissolved into a standoff and a fight for survival, it was decided that defending the base was not going to accomplish anything in the long run. Immediate and swift lifeline withdrawals soon followed.

On July 23, after the helicopters withdrew the survivors under heavy mortar, anti-aircraft and small arms fire. After the evacuation, the U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers were called in for carpet bombing. 

"The withdrawals began happening so fast that a specialist and I were put onto a Huey that had body bags on it that were filled. We were getting off that mountain any way we possibly could toward the end. I was glad to get off there, but riding off with the KIAs was hard. I witnessed several of the B-52 strikes" said Kirkham. 

"With what was happening back in the states with the anti-war situation, they didn't want to bring up another Hamburger Hill to throw into the mix," added Kirkham. "Newspapers and TV back in the States didn't want to see those body counts."

When the FSB Ripcord Association emerged in 1985, the American public began to learn more and more about the battle. With the emergence of the story came a surprise for Kirkham: a Bronze Star in honor of his actions.

Following the war, Kirkham returned to the States and lived the civilian life for a few years. In 1975, he rejoined the Army voluntarily, serving until his retirement in 1993. He returned to his hometown of Corydon, IN, in 2005 after the passing of his wife. Though more than 47 years separate his initial connection to the Screaming Eagles, his ties to the community remain strong.

The final death toll of the FSB Ripcord battle from March 12 to July 23, was 138 American Soldiers. There were also 3 men missing in action. Among the men killed in action were the professional football player Bob Kalsu, who played for the Buffalo Bills, before being drafted and Weiland Norris, the brother of Chuck Norris.

Three Medals of Honor and five Distinguished Service Crosses were awarded to the men who fought at Ripcord. One of the Medals of Honor was awarded to Lt. Col. Andre Lucas, who died on the last day of the battle after directing the successful retreat of his men.

Lt. Col. Lucas on one occasion during the battle flew in a helicopter at a treetop level above an entrenched enemy directing fire for over 3 hours. He remained in an exposed position as long as he could, and after that swapped his damaged helicopter for another one, and immediately resumed his perilous mission.

On another occasion he attempted to rescue a crewman trapped in a burning helicopter, all by himself, risking his life under heavy fire. 

The Battle of FSB Ripcord was not very known to the public, mostly because the Nixon administration wanted to avoid any media coverage of the last major battle in the Vietnam War. The memory of the battle was revived in 1985 when The FSB Ripcord Association was established to honor the fallen and remember the survivors.

 "When a free nation sends men and women to war, their sacrifice must be honored and rewarded. Regardless of the outcome, these people deserve our thanks, respect, support and more importantly a place in our memories." 

~Martin Hinton on the Battle of Firebase Ripcord

 

New Together We Served Military Store

By popular request, we are pleased to offer our Members your very own Together We Served Military Store with a whole range of items to peak your interest including custom shirts and caps, jackets, decals, badges, automotive and items for the home.

Now you can also purchase custom Together We Served branded merchandise. Please check out our range of ball caps, polo shirts, T-shirts, jackets and windbreakers HERE.

Our Store is offered in cooperation with Military Best, one of the most trusted suppliers in the United States, who offer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee on all items purchased. Many items are made in the USA and a proportion of the proceeds from your purchase help support our military's underfunded MWR programs.

We appreciate your feedback at admin@togetherweserved.com your comments regarding what you like, what you like less and if there are any additional items you would like us to stock.  


 

TWS Bulletin Board

If you wish to make a post to our new Bulletin Board - People Sought,  Assistance Needed, Jobs Available in Your Company, Reunions Pending, Items for Sale or Wanted, Services Available or Wanted, Product or Service Recommendations, Discounts for Vets, Announcements, Death Notices - email it to us at admin@togetherweserved.com.

Volunteer of the Month
CWO3 William "Marty" Martin
US Marine Corps
(1973-1997)


CWO3 Martin has been a member of Marines Together We Served since Apr 13, 2013.
 
In 2015 Marty joined our Memorial Team to complete all of our fallen profiles.

Marty recently stepped up to the plate again to help a 94 year old survivor of Guadalcanal complete his profile and tell his story.

Thank you, Marty, for all your hard work to make TWS the best it can be.

You can view Marty's shadow box here: http://marines.togetherweserved.com/bio/William.B.Martin


Service Reflections Video of the Month 
#TributetoaVeteran - LTJG Jack Curlee, US Navy, 1943 - 1946

 

Looking for Army and Marine Corps Volunteers Memorial Team
Do you have a passion for making sure that all of our Fallen are not forgotten? This is the team for you. We have Fallen profiles that have either been orphaned or created by someone who has not been online for a very long time and there is nothing in those profiles. TWS is working to make sure that all of our Fallen profiles are as complete as possible.

If you're interested in joining our Memorial Team, please contact us at admin@togetherweserved.com

TWS Brochures Available
Do you have a reunion coming up and would like to spread the word about Together We Served? We now have brochures available that helps explain a little bit about who we are and what we do.

Send your requests to admin@togetherweserved.com. Please include your name and address along with how many brochures you require.

TWS Invite Cards
Did you know we have Together We Served invite cards that you can hand out to any veteran you meet? It even has a place to put your name, service branch and member number so you get credit for the invite.

If you would like some cards, email us your name and address to admin@togetherweserved.com and we will get them in the mail to you.

From Our TWS Historian
We are in the midst of creating a Military Courses/Schools section for your profile page. You may recieve an email shortly that asks you where your course was.  When I recieve your answer, I will change the entry on your profile for you, you don't have to do anything. Some courses are not spelled correctly or have an acronym so when you send it in, please use the official title. You assistance is greatly appreciated. We want your military history as accurate as we can get it for you and your family.

In our Combat/Operational History database we are adding any operation you were involved in that we can document through a news article or unit history. An example would be the recent collison of the USS Fitzgerald or the recovery of a Marine Helicopter off Hawaii. Though they are not Combat Operations, they are operations you may have been involved in and deserve to be on your profile. It's part of your history.

Regards,

Rowdy
Roger A. Gaines 
LTC, SC (Ret US Army) 
TWS Senior Military Advisor 
Chief Historian and Database Manager

Reunions

Do You Have a Reunion Planned for the Norfolk Area?
If you do, please contact Diane Short at admin@togetherweserved.com to discuss doing a presentation for your reunion.
 
VA and Other News
Military Family Appreciation Month
 
"Our nation owes each day of security and freedom that we enjoy to the members of our Armed Forces and their families. Behind our brave service men and women, there are family members and loved ones who share in their sacrifice and provide unending support."
- President Obama
 
Each year the President signs a proclamation declaring November Military Family Month. This annual proclamation marks the beginning of a month-long celebration of the Military Family in which the Department of Defense and the nation will honor the commitment and sacrifices made by the families of the nation's service members.
 
Throughout the month of November, military families serving around the world are honored through a variety of observances and recognized for their commitment and the many contributions they make every day in support of the military and our nation. Efforts to recognize the sacrifices of the military family by Active, Guard, and Reserve leaders are being joined and supported by DoD organizations to include the Army Air Force Exchange Service, Defense Commissary Agency, and others.
 
Community leaders, businesses, and military bases and posts are teaming up to recognize military families through special events such as open houses, fun runs, family fun nights, and community dinners; discounts at MWR facilities, local business, and sporting events; and special recognition during community activities throughout the month of November.
 
Contact your local MWR or Family Services offices to learn more about events scheduled in your area.
 
VA Family Caregiver Program
The Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 allows VA to provide benefits to eligible Caregivers (a parent, spouse, child, step-family member, extended family member, or an individual who lives with the Veteran but is not a family member) who support the Veterans. The law distinguishes between Veterans who incurred or aggravated a serious injury in the line of duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001 (Post-9/11 Veterans), and those Veterans whose injuries were incurred prior to Sept. 11, 2001 (pre-9/11 Veterans).
 
Who Is Eligible For the VA Family Caregiver Program?
�?� Veterans eligible for this program are those who sustained a serious injury �?? including traumatic brain injury, psychological trauma or other mental disorder �?? incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, on or after September 11, 2001.
�?� Veterans eligible for this program must also be in need of personal care services because of an inability to perform one or more activities of daily living and/or need supervision or protection based on symptoms or residuals of neurological impairment or injury.
�?� To be eligible for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, Veterans must first be enrolled for VA health services, if not enrolled previously.
 
Services Available to Family Caregivers through this Program
The law will provide additional assistance to primary Family Caregivers of eligible post-9/11 Veterans and Service members. Services for this group include:
 
�?� Monthly stipend
�?� Travel expenses (including lodging and per diem while accompanying Veterans undergoing care)
�?� Access to health care insurance (if the Caregiver is not already entitled to care or services under a health care plan)
�?� Mental health services and counseling
�?� Comprehensive VA Caregiver training provided by Easter Seals
�?� Respite care (not less than 30 days per year)
Visit the VA's caregiver page for more information, and to apply for these services:
 
Veterans ID cards available starting in November
Veterans Affairs officials will start issuing new veterans ID cards next month, giving recipients an easy way to provide their military service for business discounts and other promotions.
 
The move, first reported by Military.com, comes two years after Congress passed legislation for the cards. A VA spokesman said they'll be made available for no cost to any veteran who applies through the department's website.
 
The new cards won't replace VA medical cards or official defense retiree cards, and will not carry any force of law behind them.
 
But supporters have called a national veterans ID card a simple way to honor veterans' service and a way to help them prove their service status for non-federal activities. They have also argued that many veterans' practice of carrying around copies of their military discharge paperwork or other personal documents to get corporate discounts leaves them open to fraud and identity theft.
 
Several states - but not all 50 - give veterans the option to identify themselves on drivers' licenses. But the national ID card through VA would give a more standard way to verify military service.
 
VA officials have not yet said how long it will take to issue cards after a veteran has requested them.
 
Legislation authorizing the cards was sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., and passed through Congress without objection. About 21 million Americans are veterans, with another 1.3 million individuals currently serving in the military. 
 
Army is testing a new combat fitness test
The jury is most definitely in: The Army Physical Fitness Test, for all its simplicity and efficiency, does not measure how well a soldier will perform under fire.
 
The Army has known that for years, officials told Army Times, and the service has spent more than a decade looking for a better way to not only measure combat readiness but also to train soldiers to that standard while reducing injuries.
 
Program managers at the Center for Initial Military Training think they've finally got the right test: A six-event slog dubbed the Army Combat Readiness Test.
 
They rolled it out in an early August pilot at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, where members of that state's National Guard and special operators from 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment gave it a whirl.
 
"[The ARCT] is as close physically as you can get to replicate the types of physical actions you'll do on the battlefield," Staff Sgt. Talen Peterson, a Ranger assigned to 2nd Battalion's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, told Army Times on Aug. 2nd.
 
The test, designed to be given to soldiers when they report to their first units, is different from the standard APFT in a very basic way: It measures five kinds of fitness versus the APFT's one.
 
"This has been in the works since the early 2000s," said Whitfield East, a research physiologist at CIMT, which is part of Training and Doctrine Command. "Soon after we went to war, it was pretty self-evident that the APFT did not sufficiently identify the high physical demand capacities that soldiers needed to execute warrior tasks and battle drills and common soldier tasks."
 
Running, sit-ups and push-ups all measure muscular endurance. They also do a great job of measuring basic heart and lung health, experts say, but don't have a lot to do with the kind of physical fitness needed to load artillery rounds or haul wounded troops out of the line of fire.
 
Army to grow the force by 17,000 soldiers in 2018
In January, the Army set a goal to grow the force to 1.018 million soldiers by the end of September.
 
They did it with help from hefty retention and recruitment incentives, and, according to the service's deputy chief of staff for personnel, the Army is poised to do it all over again in 2018.
 
The Army is asking Congress for 17,000 more troops as an unfunded requirement, Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands told Army Times in a Sept. 28 interview.
 
"Ten thousand in the active, and 4,000 for the Guard and 3,000 for the Reserve," Seamands said. "Right now, the House is supporting the entire thing we have asked for. The Senate has a number that is less than that."
 
This time last year, that Army had been on track to shrink the force down to 460,000 in the active component. The National Defense Authorization Act, signed by Barack Obama right before Christmas, reversed that course, giving the service the go-ahead to the active duty ranks to 476,000.
 
As of the end of September, Seamands said, the Army had succeeded in meeting its recruiting and retention goals across the active Army and National Guard.
 
Only the Reserve had fallen short, by 2 percent. Seamands attributed that to the number of Reserve officers and noncommissioned officers who had taken advantage of the opportunity to go active duty this year.
 
In all, the Army added more than 27,900 soldiers to its ranks - about 16,000 in the active Army, 8,000 in the Army National Guard, and about 3,900 in the Army Reserve.
 
With a mandate to re-enlist 9,000 soldiers in 2017, the Army pulled out all the stops. Selective retention bonuses were increased in normally over-strength military occupational specialties, like infantry, with a $10,000 cherry on top.
 
Others were given either $10,000, then $5,000, free and clear just to extend their contracts by a year.
 
Those kinds of deals aren't coming back this year, Seamands said, but the standard re-enlistment bonuses that were available in the second half of this year are a good indication of what might be available to those thinking about staying in uniform.
 
"We don't think we will do an extension. That was a decision that made sense last year in '17," Seamands said. "What we're looking for now is a longer commitment. We will have re-enlistment bonuses for our NCOs. But, they won't be for extensions. I don't see that happening."
 
Army Recruiting Command will also see a bump in its goals, Seamands said, and the door will stay open for reserve component NCOs who want to go active.
 
"In order to increase the officer flow, we plan on doubling the size of [Officer Candidate School] for next year," Seamands said. "It will go from about 500 to 1,000 next year."
 
But those plans all depend on what Congress can agree on, of course.
 
"It is our intent to grow," Seamands said. "I think it is Congress's intent to grow."
 
VA Seeks to Extend Gulf War Syndrome Filing Deadline
The VA is seeking to expand the time limit that veterans can claim disability benefits for Gulf War Syndrome by five years.
 
In a document to be published in the Federal Register on October 17, the VA seeks to expand the time limit that veterans of the Gulf War may claim disability benefits for the chronic multisymptom illness known as Gulf War Syndrome from December 31, 2016, until December 31, 2021. The VA is inviting the public to comment on their plans by December 18, 2016. The document, with instructions for commenting, can be found on the Federal Register website.
 
Gulf War Syndrome is defined by the VA as a cluster of medically unexplained chronic symptoms that can include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and memory problems. See our Gulf War Syndrome page for more details.
 
There is no medical or scientific evidence about the nature and cause of the illnesses suffered by Gulf War veterans, however, the VA says that studies by the National Academy of Sciences proved that these conditions occur in Gulf War Veterans three times more than they do in the civilian population. Based on that fact, the VA grants what it calls "presumptive disability" to veterans suffering from these conditions. Presumptive Disability means that Gulf War Veterans suffering from these conditions don't need to prove their military service caused the health problems in order to receive VA disability compensation.
 
Gulf War Veterans may also qualify for VA medical care: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/benefits/health-care.asp
 
In their request to extend the time period that veterans may claim disability for Gulf War Syndrome, the VA cited a study done earlier this year by the National Academy of Sciences that stated "at present, there is insufficient basis to identify the point, if any, at which the increased risk of chronic multisymptom illness may abate". That means the symptoms may still show up in veterans more than 25 years after the war's end. 
 
In order to provide fairness to affected veterans, the VA says they want to continue to provide disability benefits to veterans suffering from Gulf War Syndrome no matter when the illnesses begin. 
 
See the VA's Gulf War Syndrome page and Health Care for Gulf War Veterans page for more details: https://benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-postservice-gulfwar.asp
 
U.S. Army weapons officials plan to issue the service's new XM17 Modular Handgun System to three units by the end of the year.
The 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky is scheduled to begin receiving 2,000 9mm XM17s in November, according to an Army press release.
 
The 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas, as well as one of the Army's new security force assistance brigades is also scheduled to receive the MHS by the end of 2017, Brig. Gen. Brian Cummings, commander of Program Executive Officer Soldier at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, said in the press release.
 
The Army awarded Sig Sauer a contract worth up to $580 million Jan. 19. Sig Sauer beat out Glock Inc., FN America and Beretta USA, maker of the current M9 9mm service pistol, in the competition for the Modular Handgun System, or MHS, program.
 
Army to Field New Sidearm to 3 Units
The 10-year agreement calls for Sig to supply the Army with full-size XM17 and compact XM18 versions of its 9mm pistol. The pistols can be outfitted with suppressors and accommodate standard and extended-capacity magazines.
 
The service launched its long-awaited XM17 Modular Handgun System competition in late August 2015 to replace its Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol. The decision formally ended the Beretta's 30-year hold on the Army's sidearm market.
 
The current plan is for the Army to buy 195,000 MHS pistols.
 
Other services also have embraced the MHS. The Air Force is scheduled to buy 130,000, the Navy plans to buy 61,000 and the Marine Corps plans to buy 35,000 MHS models.
 
Cummings also said that the new pistol may see more action than its predecessor, the M9, which was primarily issued as a personal protection weapon. The M17 and M18, Cummings said, have also proven good for close-quarters combat, and so might be issued to some units and soldiers to fill that role as well.
 
"We're looking at more than the traditional basis of issue, where we are doing a one-for-one replacement," Cummings said.
 
Looking For

Volunteers for the Veteran Treatment Court
 Colorado
My name is Holly Hall and I am currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the Bill Daniels Veterans Center in Denver. I am reaching out to find Vets affiliated with, or who work in, your organization who may be interested in being Mentors to other Vets going to Veteran Treatment Court (VTC) in the 2nd Judicial District for drug & alcohol charges; we are still looking for interested Vets in this District area to take up the role, as I have been working on this angle for quite a while.  In other words, I am reaching out because we are looking for any Veterans who would be interested in being Peer Mentors for fellow Vets going through the 2nd Judicial Court for drug or alcohol charges; the Mentors must be a US Vet themselves with no current criminal justice involvement so as to help their fellow Vets through crisis, especially by navigating the Judicial System and being their solid support system for a minimum of one year, or until the Mentee graduates from the VTC program (which is very similar to the "Battle Buddy" Mentality they would have on the battlefield).  I have also been collaborating with a colleague of mine, Jahlia Daly, on creating and implementing a recurring Peer-to-Peer Veteran group event (where the group is designed and implemented for those who want to discuss personal challenges and lend support to one another in a safe environment, similar to AA, which can not only lead to new friendships and stronger bonds, but a renewed sense of community and the ability to provide/receive specific Veteran support in any way it is needed). As such, I am looking for ideas on how we can start our own group here in the Center for our local Veterans and found your contact information on Google for this purpose.  If anyone you know is interested in this idea, I would also like to talk to you by phone or email personally, as it would be great to get this idea past the implementation stage it is in now to becoming a reality.

 Ms. Holly Hall
VoA Bill Daniels Center
AmeriCorps VISTA
1247 Santa Fe Drive  .  Denver, CO 80204
Office: 303-901-3031
Fax: 720-264-3312


USS Spiegel Grove Shipmates
Anyone on the USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32)  from 72 -75, please text me at 910 449 0575.   

Thanks!    
Terry Brinson SK3

Lost Ring
I would appreciate the return of my ring that was taken from the shower room on the USS Topeka or USS Duluth in 1946 or 1947. I was the drummer in the ship's jazz band. The ruby ring was my 16th birthday gift from my mother. I am now 89 years old.

Vincent F. Casha
vinnyump@att.net

Living Iwo Jima Survivors
The Iwo Jima Association of America (IJAA) is developing a roster of all known surviving Iwo Jima veterans in order to ensure they are included in all correspondence and invitations regarding the upcoming 75th Anniversary and commemoration of the Battle of Iwo Jima in 2020.

It would be greatly appreciated if you would distribute this to all your contacts and networks to contact me at IJAA regarding knowledge of any living Iwo Vets. Email: rsifuentes@iwojimaassociation.org

Best regards and Semper Fidelis,

LtCol Raul "Art" Sifuentes USMC (Ret)
Dir., Business Development
Iwo Jima Association
703 2128128
Mobile-703 963 6895

Rovison Aquino Danganan
I am looking for my son Rovison Aquino Danganan. He 28 and the last time I  heard he was in San Diego, California. He joined the service in July of 2007. If you heard from him please contact Victoria Wallace 489 Gregory Lane SE Salem Oregon. My phone number is 503 581-9618. Thank you for your help.

USAF Veteran in Great Need of a Kidney Transplant
I have been approved for a living donor kidney transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The expense of the hotel and transportation will be paid by my insurance carrier and should be about a 7 day period. The hotel connects into the Mayo Clinic at this site. It should be noted that the Mayo Clinic is rated as the best hospital in the US, according to the news and the world. My insurance carrier considers them a "hospital of excellence" and they are approved for the maximum reimbursement. Please contact: Barry Shaw @ cell: 516 225-8436/or e-mail @ barrymshaw0@gmail.com.

Did You Know SMSgt Ron Williams USAF?
My husband, SMSgt Ron (Willie) Williams passed on July 23, 2017. I am still in search of any military or civilian member that may have known Ron, talked with him or heard of him during his service in NKP and Da Nang 1971- 72. He left Bergstrom AFB Austin, TX under super secret orders. I have not been able to find those orders or who issued them. He was a Staff Sergeant while in SEA and worked in Life Support at NKP and taught survival skills at Da Nang. He told me there were 3-4 NCO's that went down to Da Nang every Monday to teach classes. I have not been able to locate the travel vouchers they flew under. He was assigned to the 56th CMBT SPT OP. I have the names of two commanders, LTC Robert H. Finley and LTC Lawrence R. Hileman. I am not sure where these commanders were stationed in SEA. They both have signed documents for Ron.

Before Ron passed, the VA denied all his claims. He had 2 heart attacks (heart disease), prostate surgery, sinus surgery, 2 back surgeries and Parkinson's disease. He also had indications of PSP. I sent over 300 pages of military documentation, which included letters from all his doctors, to the VA, which should have proven he was in NKP and Da Nang. Because of the verbal orders, he was given, I had no proof of his teaching in Da Nang. The VA wants proof that he actually was in Da Nang.

What I need for the VA to verify Ron's claim, is for anyone that knew him, talked with him or heard of him to write a letter with their name, SSN, and member id stating any of the above facts, including dates, pictures of him, any other information they feel might help me prove my case.

I can be reached at: 
thetas@msn.com
512-868-9216
106 Liz Lane
Georgetown, TX 78633

God Bless,

Mary Williams

Guest Speakers
Greetings Veterans, Bob Willis, the gentleman who organizes and puts on the outstanding "For God & Country" Event in November each year is looking for some help with speakers. He needs specifically Combat Veterans willing to share a story, experience, or give a motivational speech even maybe at the event, namely Korean War and Vietnam Era Veterans. If you are willing, know of someone who is, please get that info to me soonest so I can report back to Bob. This is truly an awesome event and opportunity to attend. Details forthcoming, so keep your blinkers pealed.
 
R/S & S/F;
 
Michael J. Decker
Paymaster
Ulster Detachment MCL
H: 845-331-5796
C: 845-399-5385
TeufelHunden@hvc.rr.com

US Marine Jacob Greenwald
Please help me locate the owner of this beautiful Marine Corps sword. The name on the sword is Jacob Greenwald. I found it in the Capital Hill district of Seattle in a junk shop. I can't imagine someone throwing this out.

Click here to see the full size image.

You can contact me at Rwilly1@hotmail.com
Ron Hall

L Conville Murray
Anyone knowing the whereabouts of L Conville Murray, an AE2 (then) I believe stationed at NAS Cubi Point in VRC-50 or VC-5 in 1981-83 time frame, contact Stewart, Darryl, CWO3 on TWS.

Last USCG Radioman Class "A" School Governor's Island
Were you in the last USCG Radioman Class "A" School to graduate from Governor's Island, New York City, NY? I was and, now that its 45 years later ... it would be nice to hear from any of my classmates. Please contact Fred Langille at 1138 Cedar Crest Drive, Huntington, WV 25705-3004 or, at phredta11bl@copper.net. Let's see if we can get a reunion together ... be interesting to see if all our uniforms fit as well (mine does!). Looking forward to hearing from any who were there plus, instructors.

Frederick C. LANGILLE, Jr.
phredta11bl@copper.net


Corporal Alfred Jean
We found this recently and hope we can get it back to it's owner.

It's a WWII service card for a Marine by the name of Corporal Alfred Jean. Service dates are May 26, 1943, Jun 1, 1946.

If you can help us find the family, it would be greatly appreciated.

Brad Lynnet 
440-835-4854
prxpublishing@gmail.com



 

TWS Person Locator Service

Available for Together We Served members only! Together We Served has two hard working marines that devote their time and energy to help our members find long lost friends that are not yet members of our site.

If you have someone you are looking for, please send name, age they would be now and where they were from to us at admin@togetherweserved.com and we'll get them on the case for you.


 

Letters to the Editor

General
Love your site and TWS, it has allowed me to renew old friendships and get up to speed on others. Thanks for this.

~Lt. Col. Bill Houck, USA Retired

Last Friday my oldest son and I drove up to Oceana, California for the burial of PFC George B. Murray who died on the tiny island of Betio in the Battle for Tarawa 74 years ago. DNA had confirmed his identity and his remains finally came home to America to be laid to rest. He died with 1,000 other Marines in a battle that only lasted 3 days. We didn't know PFC Murray or his family but we and over 500 others were there, including a full Marine color guard, because we believe no Marine who dies for this country should ever be forgotten and after all, we Marines are his extended family. 

SEMPER FI! 

~James Marino USMC
Read the article here.

Vietnam Miniseries
I saw the Vietnam miniseries on TV by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. I was discouraged by a realistic but negative tone of the miniseries.

I served in the USAF in B-52s over Vietnam and got Four Air Medals to show for it. I think we did a good job.

I didn't know then just how poorly our top civilian and military leaders handled the Vietnam War (police action). I knew that I wondered why we didn't do more bombing to have a greater impact on the will of the North Vietnamese. I knew we had some people break under war conditions and committed atrocities. I knew we were not appreciated here at home after we got out. I guess because we lost the war, very few committed atrocities, and because we had some significant soul searching in regards to civil rights. But in general, I also knew I had served my country well in all that I did.

I'd like to see more stories on TWS on how well our service people served during Vietnam. There have to be many, many great stories of bravery and attention to duty and beyond. For one bombing mission over Vietnam from Guam, we had a 20 hour work day, including getting up, eating, briefing, pre-flight, flying (11-12 hours), aircraft debriefing, intelligence debriefing, eating, and going back to bed. We would do this over and over 2 or 3 times a week. It was shorter of course from the Utapao Thai Naval Air Station but then we flew every day or every other day. The guys in the fighters flew even more often. Their rule was that they could come home after 100 missions, but many stayed for a 2nd or 3rd hundred. I only got credited for 98 (I think) missions (in bombers). Fortunately for us, we were flying at 30,000 to 35,000 - over enemy territory so we were too high to them to reach us unless we went into the DMZ where they sometimes had SAM missiles. I was lucky to have avoided the high-risk environment most of the time and came home with no PTSD or Agent Orange disorders. I got out in early 1969.

~James Davis
U.S. Air Force


 

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Book Review: Ghosts of Iwo Jima

A Story about Battle, Ghosts, and Two Very Special Dogs
By Joe Jennings

Ghosts of Iwo Jima is a realistic and historically accurate novel about a group of dedicated searchers who travel to the island of Iwo Jima with two remarkable dogs to recover the remains of five young Marines missing for over seventy years. The story blends three fiction genres; there are realistic scenes of combat, and there are ghosts, but Ghosts of Iwo Jima is primarily a dog story. 

The plot revolves around four main characters: Gunny, a Golden Retriever search dog who leads the effort to find the missing men; Robby Durance, a young Marine who overcomes his fear and lives up to the legacy of his gallant ancestors, and dies on Iwo Jima; Sam Webber, Gunny's handler; and, Luke, a retired Military Working Dog, who, along with his handler, Steve Haney, is responsible for clearing the search area of unexploded ordnance. 

Overcoming some initial skepticism especially from the forensic anthropologist on the team, Gunny and Luke quickly demonstrate their value, but this proves to be the least of their problems. Shortly after the searchers arrive on Iwo Jima they begin to realize that not all of the twenty-six thousand young men who died violent deaths there are content to rest peacefully. The team is caught in the middle when two old enemies compete to influence the outcome of their mission. One of the spirits, a Japanese demon, focuses his murderous rage on Gunny, and Luke must risk his own life to save his friend. 

Ghosts of Iwo Jima proceeds in a series of scenes alternating between depictions of combat on Iwo Jima, the search for the remains of the five Marines, and the backstories of the major characters. These backstories include true to life accounts of K9 search and rescue and Military Working Dogs, and realistic depictions of combat in Vietnam and Afghanistan. 

This is a great story with suspense, humor, pathos, clear and interesting descriptions and good character development. A page-turner for sure. What a clever way to showcase the talents of an amazing dog and trainer. I highly recommend this book. 

Reader Reviews
I found this book extremely interesting. Characters, plot, and circumstances are realistic and informative. It was amazing to learn about the capabilities of the well-trained dogs. This is a very appealing read.
~George Marshall

Read this cover to cover yesterday and really enjoyed it. The description of the battle, body recovery, and search dog work are full of realistic details yet the book flows without getting bogged down in minutiae. The ghosts added a fun imaginative element. Joe also beautifully captures the deep and appreciative relationships between K9 and Handler. Enjoy! It is a fun read!
~Arthur S.

This book is a real page-turner. It gives you a historic look at the battles of Iwo Jima, as well as battles in Vietnam. The Search team is amazing and shows you in detail how these wonderful dogs work. The story keeps you on edge, with the search for the remains of our brave heroes who did not make it home from the Battle of Iwo Jima. You will be captured by this story and will not be disappointed.
~Brian Cook
 
Really enjoyed read the first novel by this author. Characters were well developed and the background adding to the storylines. Great insight to combat in Vietnam, Iwo Jima and rescue dogs. Looking forward to any new books by this author.
~Janet Bradley

A work from the heart! The combination of serving our country as a Marine and serving his community as the owner of a beloved rescue dog, Joe Jennings's new book reflects his depth of experience and knowledge that makes his new novel hard to put down. To this day the sacred soil of Iwo Jima is revered for the terrible struggle and the lives lost and changed on that remote piece of Japanese rock. This story takes you there and up-close to a particular scene and a fictional few men who met their fate during that battle. I sincerely hope that our nation, as well as the people of Japan, never forget Iwo Jima. Novels and historical accounts of World War Two often get lost in the horrific numbers of lives lost; Ghosts of Iwo Jima, although a novel, helps us to understand the individual stories of the very young men who battled there. The rescue dogs in this story provide a warm edge that helps to touch the heart. I hope that you will order and read this terrific book. Finally, I recommend that you order a copy for your favorite Marine as a gift of appreciation and love.
~Chuck Kelseyon

Impressive debut by the author. Very good read as I learned a lot about search and rescue as well as a few history lessons. Backstories are interesting and I felt I was there with the crew. Even had a part of the book pull at the old heart a little. I won't reveal what part as I do not want to spoil the story for other readers. Check this book out, you won't be able to put it down!
~ Abe's Beard

About the Author
Joe Jennings is a retired U.S Marine, Vietnam veteran, and, currently, a search dog handler with Great Basin K9 Search and Rescue in northern Utah. 

In his first novel, Ghosts of Iwo Jima, his experiences, combined with his love for dogs and U.S. Marines, form the core of his storytelling. Joe's stories have a ring of truth to them because he has, "been there and done that." Even the ghost stories are grounded in ancient religious and cultural beliefs. 

If you are a discerning reader of realistic fiction you may want to give this new author a look.

 

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