Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Florida X

I had the most unfortunate experience of being stranded in Florida last winter while the mid-Atlantic region got hammered with a major snow storm. Sad, but true. I was forced to remain in sunny, warm Florida longer than I had planned.

In an attempt to make the best of a bad situation, I decided to head to Key West ( I know, but somebody had to do it, right?) I had seen pictures of what appeared to be a small Vietnam memorial in the sand and decided I would check it out.

Well, it turned out that Key West had dedicated a brand new expansion of that small memorial just a couple of months before I was stranded. It is really quite impressive and I couldn't be happier that I ended up deciding to go.

Today, I will show you only the original memorial and save the newer additions for future, probably several, posts.

This is the memorial as you approach from the nearby parking lot off the main road. It mostly lists the names of supporters and contributors to the overall project.



The memorial from the other side listing the fallen and honoring all. This is the view that I had seen elsewhere and expected to find once in Key West.



The Honor Roll list all that made the ultimate sacrifice in 'Nam.


The list continues on the opposite side with one soldier standing out on a separate plaque.


Hard to see in the above picture, here is the marking above the plaque. I have never seen anything like this before in my visits to hundreds and hundreds of Vietnam memorials across the country.


I looked up Pvt. Recupero and was dismayed to find virtually nothing except that he was killed by small arms fire on April 24th, 1966. I think this is sad.

I wi8ll write lots more about Key West in the future, there is a lot to see here.

Next time,on the 28th, we will take another trip to Maine, so join me there.as usual, at 9:00am.

To see additional memorials from Florida, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Connecticut X

This small, yet elegant, memorial to the five from Bloomfield who were lost sits on the village green. It shares the space with memorials to other heroes and other wars and can be found on Jerome Avenue.


The dedication on the back speaks to the honor of those who served.


In keeping, I suppose, with the, sometimes, insular nature of small towns, not too much information is available about this site. I invite you, as I always do, to get in touch if you can supply more information. Many of you have done this in the past and I always enjoy learning more or being corrected when I err.


All that served all honored here as well they should be.

Next time, on the 23rd, we will revisit Florida, so, join me there at 9:00am, as always.

To see other memorials from Connecticut, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Colorado XXIV

The Colorado Vietnam Memorial is located in Pueblo and you can read it's most fascinating story elsewhere on this site. Also, located in Pueblo is a memorial to Drew Dix who is a medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam war. He is one of four from Pueblo who have been awarded the MOH, one from WWII and two from Korea.


The memorial tells the story of SSGT Dix's heroism and how he had always dreamed of being a Green Beret, but was turned down due to his very young age at enlistment. Three years after joining the Army, he was admitted to the program and realized his dream.



You can read some of his story ion this plaque that is part of the statue and here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drew_Dennis_Dix and elsewhere on the 'net.



The site also, lists the names of all MOH recipients. There are currently 3515 Medals awarded, some earned more than one, and one, only one, has been awarded to a woman. Learn more here:

http://www.mohmuseum.org/site/faq


UPDATE: I recently asked the center if the list of awardees is kept up to date and they assured me that it is periodically updated to reflect all recipients. Several will be added in the relatively near future so that all will be listed for their convention in Pueblo in 2017.



An interesting fact that I have observed on my travels is that SSGT. Dix is claimed by at least three other states and they list his name on various memorials. He must have lived in or in some way be connected to these additional places.

The memorial is located at the Pueblo convention Center, 320 Central Main Street.

Next time, on the 18th, we head back to Connecticut, so as I always say, join me there at 9:00am.

To see additional memorials from Colorado, or any other state, click on the state name on the left side of this page.

Monday, August 8, 2016

California XVI

California State University at Fresno honors many at this site. Several wars and a number of alum who served or were lost are singled out for remembrance.





Designed by a professor at the school, one marvels at how far we have come. Cal State, to be sure, had it's share of anti-war issues, like so many others, yet, they have chosen to build this stately site.




But, here, is something I have not seen before. The left side of this memorial honors the 20,000 civilian women that served in 'Nam and remind us, again, of their patriotism and sacrifice, especially the 56 who were lost, in addition to the 8 nurses listed on The Wall.



I have spoken of these women in the past, but they deserve another salute,as we deserve another reminder. 


The following information was found at Vietnam Reflections, check them out at

http://vietnamreflections.blogspot.com/2009/03/circle-of-sisters.html

American Red Cross

Hannah E. Crews Died in a jeep accident, Bien Hoa, October 2,1969.
Virginia E. Kirsch Murdered by US soldier in Cu Chi, August 16, 1970.
Lucinda J. Richter Died of Guillain-Barre syndrome, Cam Ranh Bay, February 9, 1971.

Army Special Services

Rosalyn Muskat Died in a jeep accident, Long Binh, 1968.
Dorothy Phillips Died in a plane crash, Qui Nhon, 1967.

Catholic Relief Services

Gloria Redlin Shot to death in Pleiku, l969.

Central Intelligence Agency

Barbara Robbins Died when a bomb exploded in front of the American Embassy, Saigon, March 30, 1965.
Betty Gebhardt Died in Saigon, 1971.

United States Agency for International Development

Marilyn L. Allen Murdered by US soldier in Nha Trang, August 16, 1967.
Dr. Breen Ratterman Died in a fall from a balcony in Saigon, October 2, 1969.

United States Department of the Navy OICC (Officer in Charge of Construction)

Regina "Reggie" Williams Died of a heart attack in Saigon, 1964.

Journalists

Georgette "Dickey" Chappelle Killed by a mine on patrol with Marines outside Chu Lai, November 4, 1965.
Phillipa Schuyler Killed in a firefight, Da Nang, May 9, 1966.

Missionaries

Carolyn Griswald * Ruth Thompson * Ruth Wilting: All 3 killed in raid on leprosarium in Ban Me Thuot during Tet February 1, 1968.
Betty Ann Olsen Captured during raid on leprosarium in Ban Me Thuot during Tet 68. Died in 1968 and was buried somewhere along Ho Chi Minh Trail by fellow POW, Michael Benge. Remains not recovered.
Eleanor Ardel Vietti Captured at leprosarium in Ban Me Thuot, May 30, 1962. Still listed as POW.
Janie A. Makil Shot to death in an ambush, Dalat, March 4, 1963. Janie was 5 months old.
Evelyn Anderson * Beatrice Kosin Both captured and burned to death in Kengkok, Laos, 1972. Remains recovered and returned to US.

Operation Babylift

The following women were killed in the crash, outside Saigon, of the C5-A Galaxy transporting Vietnamese children out of the country on April 4, 1975. All of the women were working for various US government agencies in Saigon at the time of their deaths with the exception of Theresa Drye (a child) and Laurie Stark (a teacher). Sharon Wesley had previously worked for both the American Red Cross and Army Special Service. She chose to stay on in Vietnam after the pullout of US military forces in 1973. (Source: August 13, 2000 The Baltimore Sun)

Barbara Adams * Clara Bayot * Nova Bell * Arleta Bertwell * Helen Blackburn * Ann Bottorff * Celeste Brown * Vivienne Clark * Juanita Creel * Mary Ann Crouch * Dorothy Curtiss * Twila Donelson * Helen Drye * Theresa Drye * Mary Lyn Eichen * Elizabeth Fugino * Ruthanne Gasper * Beverly Herbert * Penelope Hindman * Vera Hollibaugh * Dorothy Howard * Barbara Maier * Rebecca Martin * Sara Martini * Martha Middlebrook * Katherine Moore * Marta Moschkin * Marion Polgrean * June Poulton * Joan Pray * Sayonna Randall * Anne Reynolds * Marjorie Snow * Laurie Stark * Barbara Stout * Doris Jean Watkins * Sharon Wesley


These brave women, too, must never be forgotten.

Our next stop, on the 13th, will be in Colorado, so meet me there at 9:00am.

To see additional memorials from California, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Arizona XI

Anthem, Arizona has a most beautiful and unique memorial. It is not specifically to Vietnam but we are remembered and included among the names honored on the plaza like area.

I did not visit on November 11th, but on the day I was there I met a really nice Canadian guy who was escorting a WWII vet to the site. We had a very long and friendly conversation about his service, mine, and Vietnam in general. It was a very special visit for me.



The following I took directly from a site about the memorial. It contains some of the ideas and story of the site. I could certainly do no better in telling the story.



In 2011, 97 years after the Armistice of World War I, we have the once in a century experience of adding the eleventh year.  The new Anthem Veterans Memorial in Arizona, a beautiful expression of astronomical time, will be dedicated today on 11.11.11.
Designed by Renee Palmer-Jones, it consists of five pillars in graduated heights, representing the five branches of the U.S. military.  At the top of each pillar is a large elliptical shaped hole, gathering sunlight downward through the five ellipses toward a mosaic of the Great Seal of the United States at the foot of the pillars.  Each year on November 11 at precisely 11:11 am, the shadows of the pillars will align into one column and the elliptical sunlight will form a perfect circle shining onto the Great Seal.




Installing the Great Seal at the Anthem Veterans Memorial, November 9, 2011
The design focus of this memorial is the astronomy of November 11, not an arrangement of names.  Yet arrangement principles inform our experience in Anthem.  The pillars are organized by Department of Defense order of precedence.  There are only five units, so this ordering is simpler than the British Army order of precedence used at Edwin Lutyens’ World War I Memorial to the Missing of the Somme in Thiepval, France.

Chronology forms the basic arrangement, giving precedence to the oldest units.  However, even with only five, there are two exceptions.  Three of the units were founded in 1775:  the Army (June 14), the Navy (October 13) and the Marines (November 10).  The Navy disbanded in 1781, only to be reinstated later the same year.  So it appears third, after the Marines.  The Coast Guard was founded in 1790, but it is now in fifth position as a part of Homeland Security rather than the Department of Defense.  If the Coast Guard returns to the Department of Defense during a war, it would stand between the Navy and the Air Force (1947).


The arrangement and graduated heights of Anthem’s five pillars display an order of precedence, but the equality of the services is also expressed in the placement of their seals at equal heights on the pillars’ narrow sides.  This equality carries through in the benches at the front of the memorial.  Although they are five in number, they are not individually designated with the name of a military unit.

The Anthem Memorial Planning Committee used the fund-raising technique of engraved brick pavers that can be purchased to honor military personnel or to show community support.  Pavers with military names form a Circle of Honor on the ground around the Great Seal and the pillars.  They are primarily organized chronologically by donation date.  Prior to placement, families can request to be grouped together, similar to the “meaningful adjacencies” of the World Trade Center memorial in New York.  Two rows of blank bricks surround the Circle of Honor in soldier row formation, the typical placement of headstones in military cemeteries.


Pavers representing the non-military support of individuals, businesses and organizations, are arranged by size of donation in front of the benches, with the largest donations at the center bench.  The next two funding tiers are at the left and right of the center bench, with the two end benches reserved for the fourth tier.  The pavers within each tier are in no particular order, although they aren’t quite random.  Liz Turner of the Memorial Planning Committee told me they tried to lay these bricks in a manner that was “aesthetically pleasing.”



In its use of astronomical time, the Anthem Veterans Memorial fully honors the historic tradition of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  Its primary symbol is the gathering of sunlight onto the Great Seal of the United States at 11:11 on November 11.  Yet peripheral arrangement decisions add power to this memorial.  Those pillars could be in alphabetical order, but this is a memorial to history.  Order of precedence reflects that.


I would love, someday, to actually be there on November 11th. I'll let you know if that ever happens.

Next time, on the 8th, we will take another trip to California, so join me there, as usual, at 9:00am.

To see other memorials from Arizona, or any other state, click the state name on the left side odf this page.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Real Warriors

UPDATE:

No pictures today, just, perhaps, the most important post I have ever made. Please take the time to read it all, it may help you or someone you know or love.

I was sent the following by someone who cares about me and all vets. It rang a bell for me and I thought some of you might benefit, also. Many of us from the 'Nam era are struggling with PTSD and don't know it or won't admit it. On my travels I have met many of you and want to echo the message of this article and video. If you have any of the symptoms mentioned here, or even a concern about the possibility of PTSD, check it out. When I returned from 'Nam, I had some medical issues and went to the V.A. for help. I was treated very badly and I swore I would never enter a V.A. facility again. Many of us had that experience. Well, many years later, I was forced to return to the V.A. I was totally bummed out, put off going until I finally had no choice. Well, the difference was amazing. People were truly caring, respectful, helpful. I was stunned. It was much, much later that a friend said, "Well, you know, WE run it now!"


So, I encourage all of you who may have PTSD, or know someone you think might, to heed my advice. Read the following, watch the video and call the V.A.or your local Vet Center.

I am printing this just the way it was sent to me. I took out a bunch of links as they seem to prevent me from posting. I have included a link to the video mentioned in the article.



I wrote this quite some time ago, but never posted it. Since then, I have taken the advice Stacy gives. With encouragement from others, I finally went to the Vet Center in my area and was immediately seen by a therapist. That lead to joining a group of guys working out our shit and, now, several years later, I have to say I find it helpful. The nightmares have decreased a bit and I am even able to sleep some. The journey is not over and I often wonder if it will ever be complete, but we are walking the road.

I hope you will take the few minutes it takes to read this and then, if you are one the ones denying or avoiding, STOP IT, go to your nearest VET Center, they are there to help.




'Real Warrior' Finds Path to Physical, Emotional Healing


By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 4, 2011 - Black-and-white photos of Vietnam-era veterans line the wall at a Veterans Affairs center. Some are smiling and others are gazing at a distant point, but in all, an unseen light catches the emotion in their eyes.

The photographer, Stacy Pearsall, a veteran of the more recent wars, strove to capture the character and the experience etched in their faces while listening to their recollections of war.

"Their stories are amazing," she said.

This line of photos on a wall in a VA center in Charleston, S.C., serves not only as Pearsall's veteran tribute, but also a milestone in her recovery from physical and emotional wounds of war.

Just a few months earlier, Pearsall had nearly given up hope of working as a photographer again or of taking photos that didn't serve as a haunting reminder of a painful past.

Pearsall's photography career took off while she was in the Air Force. As a combat photographer, she took thousands of pictures over the course of her Air Force career, earning her accolades and awards from leaders at all levels of her chain of command.
She traveled extensively for her job, so she felt prepared when she was tasked to deploy to Baghdad in September 2003.

As part of her duties, Pearsall documented a school rebuilding process, and when the school marked its opening with a ceremony in February 2004, she attended. After the ceremony, as the unit prepared to head out, the Humvee she was riding in was making a tight turn on a dead-end street when a roadside bomb detonated.

Pearsall was sitting behind the driver's seat. The impact threw her forward, and her head hit the back of the seat. But more concerned about her ears, which were bleeding from the concussive sound, she didn't feel the neck pain until hours later. She was seen by a doctor who chalked it up to whiplash, and she was back out on a mission the next day.

Months later, the headaches and vertigo lingered, as did the severe neck pain. But concerned about her Air Force career, Pearsall didn't seek treatment. Her deployment ended in March, and she became a student at Syracuse University for a year to hone her photography skills.

She had become accustomed to hiding her pain and the emotional after-effects of combat from others, but was unable to keep them from a friend -- a fellow photographer and Vietnam veteran -- who recognized the signs of post-traumatic stress. He connected her with a Vet Center, where she began counseling.

"It definitely helped me work through a lot of emotions and stress," she said. "I knew whatever I said to [my therapist] wouldn't go back to my active-duty command. There was no threat of losing my career."

After school, Pearsall went on back-to-back deployments, first to Africa, then to Lebanon and finally, back to Iraq. The difference between her first and second Iraq deployments was like night and day, she said. In 2003, she never fired her weapon, but in 2007, she fired it constantly.

Her unit experienced heavy casualties in Diyala province. Pearsall saw bodies of Iraqis who had been executed and mutilated, and comrades shot just a few feet away, which she later had to photograph. People getting wounded or killed was a daily occurrence, she said.

A series of back-to-back events took their toll. Pearsall lost three teammates, and a day later, her video partner was wounded and evacuated. Another friend had been shot in the head right in front of her. "Nothing prepares you for the death of your friends," she said.

Her photos from that time are haunting.

In one photo, three soldiers are gathered in a dimly lit room, faces downward as if in reflection, a single light shining through a window. Two days before, their teammate had been shot in the head just 10 feet away from where they were standing. In another photo, two soldiers are comforting each other, one close to tears, after the loss of a friend the day before.

"I'm eternally tied to the photographs that I made and those soldiers who were in those photographs," she said.

The photographer said she had to keep her emotions in check, for her teammates and for the troops who served under her. "I think I handled things pretty well by just not addressing the emotions at the time," she said.

Pearsall was injured again -- further damaging her neck -- when a roadside bomb detonated during a mission. A few months later, her unit was ambushed. She was running out to help a wounded soldier in the street when a cord attached to her helmet snapped her back. Her head slammed on a Stryker vehicle, again injuring her neck.

The next morning, she felt neck pain unlike anything she had felt before, and she knew it was time to get help. The doctors did an X-ray and she was on a helicopter that day. Her neck injury had grown so severe, the doctors told her, that if she had jolted her head one more time, it would have severed her spinal cord.

Pearsall's greatest fear -- losing her career -- was now at hand, she said. And her husband, a strong source of support, was deployed at the time. "It was a really ugly time in my life," she said.

The years of wearing 85 pounds of gear had wreaked havoc on her neck. The doctors told her she wouldn't be able to work as a photographer or pursue another passion, riding horses, again.

But Dr. Patrick Lovegrove, an Air Force flight surgeon at the time, offered her hope through prolotherapy treatment -- which involves insertion of a 4-inch needle down to the bone -- that lasted for more than two years. Pearsall was able to get off of the pain killers and finally on the road to physical recovery.

Invested in her recovery, her doctor separated from the Air Force, but continued to donate his services to her until the therapy ended in 2009 and she switched over to the VA system.

"I'll always owe him a debt of gratitude," she said. The therapy enabled her to ride horses and take photos again, but she knew she'd always have some degree of pain from her degenerative condition.

"It was either adapt to life or shrivel up and die," she said. Pearsall chose to adapt.

But the loss of her Air Force career affected her, as did the emotional wounds of war that she had pushed aside to focus on her physical recovery. She started seeing a mental health therapist about a year after her deployment.

"The military told me I couldn't be a photographer for them anymore," she said. "Mentally, that put me on a roller coaster. What am I good for?"

Pearsall found an answer at the VA medical center in Charleston. While she sat for hours in waiting rooms, she began to notice the men and women around her. Most of the veterans there were from the Vietnam era, and she reached out to hear their stories. She felt inspired to bring her camera and take their portraits, leading to the project that now fills a wall there.

"Just because I was disabled, didn't make me unable," she said. "Once I wrapped my own mind around that, I could do more."

Pearsall plans to keep up her veteran portrait work at VA hospitals in Georgia and North Carolina, then here, and to Maryland and Virginia as well. In another effort aimed at helping veterans, Pearsall provides horse therapy to veterans through a nonprofit group.

Most recently, Pearsall offered to have her story documented for the Defense Department's "Real Warriors" campaign in hopes of encouraging other veterans and service members to seek help. The campaign in sponsored by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, and it features stories of service members who sought psychological treatment and continued successful military or civilian careers. Her profile is now posted on the Real Warriors website,
http://realwarriors.net/.

"My hope is that if they watch my story, they'll find a way to offload their burden," she said. "Everyone wears a different amount, but it's not necessary to carry it around with you all the time."

Pearsall said the stigma that kept her from getting help has been greatly reduced through projects such as the Real Warrior campaign and through efforts by the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments.

For service members still leery about getting care, Pearsall recommended online support networks, blogs and forums where people can go and shed their burdens. "You'll see you're not alone," she said. "The loss of sleep, nightmares, anxiety, road rage -- they're products of war."

Pearsall also hopes leaders will gain a greater understanding of mental health issues and, above all, avoid judgment.

"Be positive and supportive," she said. "You're the first in line for that service member."

While it's been difficult to discuss, Pearsall said, she believes it's important to share her story.

"If I get one person to get help if they're having issues, then I feel like I've been successful.

http://realwarriors.net/multimedia

Read Stacy's blog here;

http://f8pj.blogspot.com/


Next time, on August 3rd, we will visit the previously promised site in Anthem, AZ, so meet me there at 9:00am.

To see memorials, from any state, click on the state name on the left side of this page.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Washington VII

I guess to my frequent readers I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but, once again, I need to extol the people of small towns,

I was in Ephrata, Washington and found this memorial on the Grant County Court House lawn. At first glance one might not think too much of it, but in reading up on it I discovered that it was funded by raffles and Bingos and some direct contributions. In the 2010 census, Ephrata had 7664 citizens and they found away to honor their Vietnam vets.


 Another astounding thing I noticed. The memorial lists those who served in addition to those who were lost, a total of twenty.


Nine, 45%, were lost! Think about that for just a moment. If 45% of all who served in 'Nam had been lost the number would be about 1,500,000. Staggering! That number, by the way, is more than the estimated losses from ALL American wars from the Revolution through today. Again, staggering.



So, I will once again salute the small towns of America, their people, their heroes and their dedication to honoring their sons and daughters.


 The memorial may be found on the front lawn of the Court House, 35 C Street, Ephrata, Washington.

Next time, on the 29th, meet me again in Arizona, as always, at 9:00am.

To see additional memorials from Washington, or any other state, click on the state name on the left side of this page.