Friday, November 17, 2017

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Alabama VII

One of the very first trips I ever made on this journey was to Alabama. It was back in February of 2010 and I had no idea that I might return sometime or that this project would continue all these years later.

I had read over the years about the Alabama Vietnam Memorial in Anniston and determined that some day I would get there.
The white cross you see in this pic is a reflection of a simple 911 memorial just opposite this one.

Anniston is not too very far from Atlanta, Georgia, so, recently my buddy, Steve, and I headed out to see it and any others we might find along the way.



Located at 17th and Quintard the park includes several memorials and honors all lost in Vietnam and the other 20th century engagements and remembrances for First Responders. The number of 'Nam guys listed here is 1205, but, varies from 1205 to 1213 to 1224 depending upon where you look. The Virtual Wall (virtualwall.org) lists 1224.

The Wall is made of Zimbabwe black granite and is fronted by a reflecting pool shaped like the state.



The arches that grace the whole park were once part of the old Anniston High School and were moved here to become part of the project.



This dedication is among the history and poetry provided here.



Next time, on the 21st, I will tell you the story of the Morenci 9 and show you the monument to them. So, join me then, as always, at 9:00am.

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

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans Day 2017



The following was taken from the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs page. It tells the history of what we now call Veterans Day.

It includes a number of contacts of use to Vets.

Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

 

History of Veterans Day

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France.
Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities.  This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"
The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.
The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:
Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.
An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first "Veterans Day Proclamation" which stated: "In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible."

President Eisenhower signing HR7786, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
President Eisenhower signing HR7786, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day. From left: Alvin J. King, Wayne Richards, Arthur J. Connell, John T. Nation, Edward Rees, Richard L. Trombla, Howard W. Watts 

On that same day, President Eisenhower sent a letter to the Honorable Harvey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans' Affairs (VA), designating him as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee.
In 1958, the White House advised VA's General Counsel that the 1954 designation of the VA Administrator as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee applied to all subsequent VA Administrators. Since March 1989 when VA was elevated to a cabinet level department, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has served as the committee's chairman.
The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.
The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.
Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Connect with us

  • Benefits:
    1-800-827-1000
  • Health Care:
    1-877-222-VETS (8387)
  • VA Inspector General: 1-800-488-824

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Washington XII

Anacortes is located on Fildago Island just off the coast of mainland Washington. I have been communicating with my friend Steve, from Anacortes, since he read about my journey in a local reprint of the Washington Post story published in 2010.

He told me that he had found a small memorial which had fallen into disrepair and that he wanted to see if he could do anything about it.

We spoke off and on over the years until I finally got the chance to visit a while back.


We met in a local Starbucks and then he took me to Grand View Cemetery where  we found a brand new memorial to the three from the area that gave all in 'Nam. This part of our country is extremely beautiful and I thank Steve for meeting me and sharing this beautiful memorial.





This last picture is a different view from the cemetery.


Next time, on the 11th, look for a special Veterans Day post at 11:00am.

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

I have been writing this blog for a time, nearly nine years, now. during my travels I have come upon a number of memorial sites that try to tell the history of the war and our involvement. a few of these seem to have political agendas, specifically trying to blame JFK for our participation in it. I have been aware and have stated many times on this site that Richard Fitzgibbon was killed in 1956 in "Nam. However Marc Leepson has presented us with a thorough recounting of our history in Vietnam and the buildup of American forces there.

This article originally appeared in the VVA's magazine, The Veteran and is reprinted here with the permission of the magazine and the author.

(Note: some graphics, including a great timeline, would not transfer on to this site.)


When did the Vietnam War start...


                                                     ...and end?

                                                                          

BY MARC LEEPSON
Are you a member of Vietnam Veterans of America? If so, you are a veteran of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard who served on active duty during the Vietnam War.
However, if you are a veteran who served in Vietnam before February 28, 1961, or elsewhere around the world before August 5, 1964—or if your service began after May 7, 1975—you are not eligible to be a VVA member by virtue of the eligibility dates the organization has used since 1999.
This is notwithstanding the fact that thousands of service members put in time in Vietnam in wartime conditions before February 28, 1961, and that more than three dozen Marines lost their lives in the May 15, 1975, Mayaguez incident near Cambodia, which is widely considered the last engagement of the Vietnam War.
Which brings us to the question at hand: How do you determine the start and end of a conflict such as the American war in Vietnam when there was no official declaration of war? And this corollary: Should former military personnel who served in wartime conditions in Vietnam before February 28, 1961, and after May 7, 1975, be considered Vietnam veterans?
There is no easy answer to either question. For starters, the federal government recognizes at least four sets of “official” beginning and ending Vietnam War dates:
  • January 1, 1960, to April 30, 1975: the Department of Defense’s Vietnam Service Medal eligibility beginning and ending dates.
  • February 28, 1961, to May 7, 1975: the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 dates that define Vietnam War in-country veterans eligibility for veterans preference. Those dates are also in the 1996 Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act and are part of Title 38 of the U.S. Code, the official compilation of American laws.
  • January 9, 1962, to May 7, 1975: the Department of Veterans Affairs’ dates used to determine in-country veterans who are eligible to be compensated for exposure to Agent Orange.
  • August 5, 1964, to May 7, 1975: the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 and 1996 Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act dates that define Vietnam-era veterans (those who served outside Vietnam).
But wait, there’s more. The Pentagon’s U.S. Vietnam War Commemoration recognizes Vietnam veterans as those who served in country from November 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975.
And there’s even more: The earliest date of a name listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is June 8, 1956, the date of the death of USAF Tech. Sgt. Richard Fitzgibbon, Jr.
To complicate matters even more, just three of the beginning dates correspond to something significant that happened in the war:
  • November 1, 1955, the date used by the Commemoration, is when the Military Assistance Advisory Group-Vietnam began operations.
  • February 28, 1961, the beginning date used by the Readjustment Assistance and Veterans Benefits Improvement Acts for Vietnam veterans, is the approximate date that American military advisers began working directly with the South Vietnamese.
  • August 5, 1964, the beginning date used by the Readjustment Assistance and Veterans Benefits Improvement Acts for era veterans, is three days after North Vietnamese PT boats fired on the U.S.S. Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin, and two days before Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which is generally regarded as tantamount to a Declaration of War.
Nothing significant in the war effort took place on January 1, 1960, or on January 2, 1962.

ON THE GROUND IN VIETNAM
Uniformed U.S. military personnel were on the ground in Vietnam starting in September 1945 when World War II (and Japan’s occupation of Vietnam) ended. American troops remained in Vietnam up to the Gulf of Tonkin incident. So the United States—as the noted Vietnam War historian George Herring put it—was “deeply involved” in military matters in Vietnam from early September 1945 until the communist takeover of all of Vietnam on April 30, 1975.
First came a huge U.S. commitment of financial and logistical support for the French in their war against the communist Viet Minh from 1945-54, known as the First Indochina War. The U.S. did not take part directly in the war, but underwrote the French effort with funds and materiel—and a handful of American service personnel on the ground.
After the French defeat in 1954, increasing numbers of U.S. military advisers began working with the fledgling non-communist government of South Vietnam. That started with thirty-five military advisers who arrived in Vietnam in 1950 under the newly created Military Assistance Advisory Group-Indochina, which was formed on August 3, 1950.
That early involvement brought with it the usual consequences of war: service members killed and wounded in action and in accidents. The first American to lose his life in Vietnam was Lt. Col. A. Peter Dewey, who was shot in the head in a Viet Minh ambush while riding in a Jeep in Saigon on September 26, 1945. Dewey, an Office of Strategic Services (OSS) officer, was returning from a hospital after visiting another American, Capt. Joseph Coolidge, who had been wounded while returning from Dalat. Dewey’s name is not engraved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
A handful of other Americans were wounded and killed following the end of the First Indochina War in 1954. They served with the Military Assistance Advisory Group-Vietnam, which took over from the Military Assistance Advisory Group-Indochina on November 1, 1955. MAAG-V was followed by the Military Assistance Command (MACV), which began operations on February 8, 1962, under Gen. Paul Harkins. When Gen. Harkins landed at Tan Son Nhut that day, MACV already had five thousand American military personnel in country.
Most of the MACV troops were advising the Armed Forces of the Republic of (South) Vietnam. “Others, in increasing numbers, served in Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine units providing direct combat and logistical support to the Vietnamese or, in the case of the Navy, patrolling Indochinese coastal waters,” a U.S. Army historian wrote. “These Americans, especially advisers and helicopter crews, were beginning to come under, and return, Viet Cong fire.”
Other early casualties include:
  • U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Richard B. Fitzgibbon, Jr., who was shot and killed by a fellow airman in Saigon on June 8, 1956. He is the earliest casualty whose name is engraved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
  • Army Special Forces Capt. Harry G. Cramer, a West Point graduate, who was killed near Nha Trang on October 21, 1957, during an ARVN Special Forces training mission.
  • Army Maj. Dale Buis and Master Sgt. Chester Ovnand, who died on July 9, 1959, in an ambush as they watched a movie at the U.S. MAAG compound in Long Binh.
  • Navy Lt. Cmdr. George W. Alexander, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Roger H. Mullins, and Navy Chief Petty Officer William W. Newton, who perished in a helicopter crash in Quang Tri Province on February 17, 1960.
  • Spec.4 James T. Davis, who served as an Army Security Agency (ASA) Radio Research Unit advisor to the ARVN and was killed in an ambush along Highway 10 by Viet Cong troops on December 22, 1961.


THIS IS THE END?
Determining the end date of the Vietnam War is much less complicated than settling on a beginning date. American military personnel were in harm’s way in Vietnam right until the final troops left Saigon on April 30, 1975. President Ford declared the “Vietnam era” over on May 7, 1975, the reason that two federal government eligibility laws use May 7, 1975, as the end of the “Vietnam era,” and that’s the date in the U.S. Code.
However, on May 15, 1975, thirty-eight Marines, Airmen, and Navy Corpsmen lost their lives in the Mayaguez operation and three men were missing in action. That includes twenty-three USAF personnel who died in a helicopter crash en route to the staging area in Thailand. Their names are the last ones engraved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. May 15, 1975, also is the date that the Commemoration uses as the end of the Vietnam War.

Next time, on the 5th, we will revisit washington, so join me there at 9:00am.

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

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Pennsylvania XIII

I found this memorial while driving through the Borough of West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.

It sits at an odd place in an intersection and was very difficult to photograph in the very limited time that I had.



It actually mentions on names or specific engagements on the memorial, just a tribute to all from the borough that participated in our wars.


It is emblems, among the small flags in front the Vietnam and others are actually named.



Located at Ford Street and Front Street in the borough of west Conshohocken.

Next time, on the 31st, we will take a look at the history of our involvement in Vietnam , so join me here at 9:00am., as always.

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

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Oklahoma VII

Gano, Oklahoma is located about 75 miles north east of Oklahoma City. My cousin Dan who lives in OK. took me there and I was stunned at the size and scope of their Veterans Memorial. I never actually saw the town so I tried to find a little info about it online. There is virtually nothing.

Anyway, here a few of the pics I took that day.


The site is quite large and has a number of stones listing names of the many that served, Medal of Honor recipients, and other interesting facts.



Also, there is huge anchor and two different tanks.


There are a couple of these citing the major battles of individual wars. Note the dates of Vietnam; 1965 to 1973, I have commented, often, on how we can't even agree on when the war was fought. As I type this I am watching the Ken Burns The Vietnam War program on PBS and in it he cites the first American killed in 'Nam (albeit in a mistaken shot) as Col. Dewey in 1945. I have often mentioned TSGT Richard Fitzgibbons as the first killed after the dividing of the county in 1954. He was killed in 1956 after a number of US solders were sent in 1955, and there were others that followed.


This one lists all those lost in various wars from the Revolution through Desert Storm. I wonder if it has been updated since. If I am ever able to find out, I will update here, too.

Next time, on the 26th, we will venture once again to Pennsylvania, so join me there at 9:00am.

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