Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Mrs. Murphy

You mention the name Audie Murphy around a millennial or a snowflake and you get a blank stare. You mention the name Pam Murphy around just about anyone and you get the same blank expression – except for those who may have lived in or near Sepulveda or Van Nuys, California. I have always said the toughest job in the world is the spouse of a military person.

Audie was only 46 years old when he died in a helicopter crash into the Virginia Mountains. He was bothered all his life when he came back from the war and it really affected his life. He never got the medical help he should have gotten.

Not many young people know who Audie Murphy was or how big a war hero he was. Two or three of the medals he earned would make most service men proud, but to have earned his decorations in battle is truly unbelievable.

List of Decorations for Audie Murphy:

Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star (with oak leaf cluster)
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star (with oak leaf cluster and Valor Device)
Purple Heart (with two oak leaf clusters)
U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal
U.S. Army Good Conduct Medal
Presidential Unit Citation (with First Oak Leaf Cluster)
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (with One Silver Star), Four Bronze Service Stars (representing nine Campaigns) and one Bronze Arrowhead (representing assault landing at Sicily and Southern France)
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal (with Germany Clasp)
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
French Fourrage in Colors of the Croix de Guerre
French Legion of Honor - Grade of Chevalier
French Croix de guerre (with Silver Star)
French Croix de guerre (with Palm)
Medal of Liberated France
Belgian Croix de guerre (with 1940 Palm)

Additionally, Murphy was awarded:
The Combat Infantry Marksman badge with Rifle Bar, Expert Badge with Bayonet Bar.

Isn't it sad the media can tell us all about the BAD that goes on, but ignores the GOOD people? If a movie Star or politician stubs their toe we have to hear about it for Days!

(From the Los Angeles Times on April 15, 2010)

Pamela Murphy, widow of WWII hero and actor, Audie Murphy, died peacefully at her home on April 8, 2010. She was the widow of the most decorated WWII hero and actor, Audie Murphy, and established her own distinctive 35 year career working as a patient liaison at the Sepulveda Veterans Administration hospital, treating every veteran who visited the facility as if they were a VIP.

Any soldier or Marine who came into the hospital got the same special treatment from her. She would walk the hallways with her clipboard in hand making sure her boys got to see the specialist they needed. If they didn't, watch out.

Her boys weren't Medal of Honor recipients or movie stars like Audie, but that didn't matter to Pam. They had served their Country. That was good enough for her. She never called a veteran by his first name. It was always "Mister." Respect came with the job.

"Nobody could cut through VA red tape faster than Mrs. Murphy," said veteran Stephen Sherman, speaking for thousands of veterans she befriended over the years. "Many times I watched her march a veteran who had been waiting more than an hour right into the doctor's office. She was even reprimanded a few times, but it didn't matter to Mrs. Murphy. "Only her boys mattered. She was our angel."

Audie Murphy died broke in a plane crash in 1971, squandering millions of dollars on gambling, bad investments, and yes, other women. "Even with the adultery and desertion at the end, he always remained my hero," Pam told me.

She went from a comfortable ranch-style home in Van Nuys where she raised two sons to a small apartment - taking a clerk's job at the nearby VA to support herself and start paying off her faded movie star husband's debts. At first, no one knew who she was. Soon, though, word spread through the VA that the nice woman with the clipboard was Audie Murphy's widow. It was like saying General Patton had just walked in the front door. Men with tears in their eyes walked up to her and gave her a Hug. "Thank you," they said, over and over.

The first couple of years, I think the hugs were more for Audie's memory as a war hero. The last 30 years, they were for Pam.

One year I asked her to be the focus of a Veteran's Day column for all the work she had done. Pam just shook her head no. "Honor them, not me," she said, pointing to a group of veterans down the hallway. "They're the ones who deserve it."

The vets disagreed. Mrs. Murphy deserved the accolades, they said. Incredibly, in 2002, Pam's job was going to be eliminated in budget cuts. She was considered "excess staff." "I don't think helping cut down on veterans' complaints and showing them the respect they deserve should be considered excess staff," she told me.

Neither did the veterans. They went ballistic, holding a rally for her outside the VA gates. Pretty soon, word came down from the top of the VA. Pam Murphy was no longer considered "excess staff."

She remained working full time at the VA until 2007 when she was 87. "The last time she was here was a couple of years ago for the conference we had for homeless veterans," said Becky James, coordinator of the VA's Veterans History Project. Pam wanted to see if there was anything she could do to help some more of her boys. Pam Murphy was 90 when she died. What a lady.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Special Forces Heritage - OSS or 1st Special Service Force?

The following is an article written by David S. Maxwell, COL (ret), SF titled "Is the OSS Contribution to Special Forces a Result of Disinformation?" and posted on the Small Wars Journal. Maxwell is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Previously he was the Associate Director of the Center for Security Studies in the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University. He retired as an Army Special Forces Colonel with command and staff assignments in Korea, Japan, Germany, the Philippines, and CONUS, and served as a member of the military faculty teaching national security at the National War College. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, the Command and General Staff College, the School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth and the National War College, National Defense University.



Is the OSS Contribution to Special Forces a Result of Disinformation?

It pained me to read the latest issue of the USASOC Historian Office's publication Veritas and it pains me even more to have to write these words. You might not be familiar with Veritas because it is not published on line, only in an expensive high gloss print publication. The specific article in the recent edition is “The OSS Influence on Special Forces.” The article can be downloaded at this link:

The author's thesis is that since only 14 members of the OSS actually served in Special Forces their contribution was not as great as has been described over the years. The author uses fashionable modern academic analysis focusing solely on data and numbers to reach this outrageous conclusion: “The result was concrete evidence of disinformation and exaggeration perpetuated by the active force and veteran associations.” The only “concrete evidence” the author cites is the number 14. (As an aside there were at least 15 members of the OSS who served in Special Forces from 1952 to 1954. His list fails to include Robert McDowell who served with the OSS in Yugoslavia.)

The author is trying to prove his thesis by relying on numbers. However, he undermines his argument with this statement:

Therefore, the five former OSS instructors in the SF Department, constituting approximately one-third of the instructor cadre from 1952-1954, are the ones who provided the most influence from their OSS experiences on the developing force. Because the five interacted with or impacted every soldier trained in the SF program at the school, they gave students undergoing instruction an exaggerated impression about the overall presence of former OSS veterans in SF.

What the author fails to recognize and appreciate is that the OSS was an organization known for two things: punching well above its weight, i.e., making outsize contributions from its small numbers; and for conducting effective influence operations. At its peak there were some 13,000 members with 7500 serving overseas which was less than one Army division while the Army fielded over 90 divisions in WWII. Its Morale Operations branch focused on “persuasion, penetration, and intimidation” to destabilize governments and mobilize indigenous resistance at the strategic and tactical level.

Rather than assess the numbers of OSS members in SF the author would do a great service by reminding readers that today’s SF assessment and selection, organization (especially the ODA), training, doctrine, and most important the foundational mission of SF, unconventional warfare, are directly related to and descended from the OSS. For those interested I recommend perusing the USASOC web site OSS Primer and Manuals accessed. USASOC’s own website says: “Special Forces traces its roots as the Army’s premier proponent of unconventional warfare from the Operational Groups and the Jedburgh teams of the Office of Strategic Services.” I personally traced the development of SF doctrine and the unconventional warfare mission from the OSS to the present (then 1995).

Yes, other U.S. Army officers made significant contributions to the development of SF such as Russell Volckman, Wendell Fertig, and Donald Blackburn. They brought back tremendous overseas experience and demonstrated a unique quality necessary in SF: when there is a lack of guidance, organization, and support, operators must be able to take the initiative and organize indigenous resistance in support of national security objectives. Their guerrilla warfare experiences in the Philippines added important perspectives to the guerrilla warfare experiences of OSS members in Europe as well as in Burma and throughout Southeast Asia. But they did not bring back the organization, training, and doctrine that resided in the OSS and was passed on to SF.

The author could have written a very positive article and highlighted the outsize contribution the members of the OSS made to SF. They were the conduit for assessment and selection, organization, training, doctrine, and unconventional warfare. Most important the contributions they made continue to this day with appropriate modifications based on evolving global conditions, experience, and technology.

Furthermore, I know of no Special Forces officer or NCO who does not believe with all his heart that Special Forces (and the entire joint SOF enterprise) is a direct descendent of the OSS and shares the lineage with the CIA and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. While the numbers can justify the author’s thesis he does not account for the intangibles of history, tradition, and the influence of those larger than life figures in the OSS as well as the actual OSS documentation and doctrine that provide the foundation for modern SF. To accuse the active force and veteran organizations of disinformation to belittle the contribution of the OSS to SF is an insult beyond belief.

So, what should be done? Normally those finding fault with an article will demand a correction. In this case a correction and acknowledgement of the error is insufficient. Nor is an apology demanded. This is the second recent error filled article published in Veritas. A previous article on the Special Action Force Asia required a correction and nearly four pages of clarification.

What this article indirectly highlights is that the US Army has failed to include the OSS in the lineage of Special Forces. This is most likely because the OSS was not an Army unit (like SOF today it was a very effective joint and interagency (civilian) organization with members from all services). Therefore, the Army chose to make the 1st Special Service Force the predecessor of US Special Forces. While original members of the 1st SSF were recruited by Colonel Aaron Bank to join SF (along with paratroopers and foreign troops through the Lodge Act) the “Force” was a hyper-conventional American and Canadian direct-action raiding unit. While it fought valiantly and deserves recognition for its tremendous exploits it did not make formal contributions to the assessment and selection methodology, the organization of the Special Forces A Team or the unconventional warfare mission.

The best corrective that the USASOC Historian’s office could undertake would be to petition the Army to add the OSS to the lineage of Special Forces. I strongly recommend that Army Special Operations community pursue righting this wrong by the Army and restore Special Force’s proper lineage. This will be a fight, but it will be a fight worth having. And lastly, I would demand that Veritas be published online so that the entire national security community can read about the history of Special Operations and the entire special operations community, academia, retirees, and interested Americans can provide oversight of the research conducted.

Postscript

COL Maxwell also provides the following: I was provided this explanation as to why the reason why the OSS is not in the SF lineage by someone who has worked the issue in the past:

QUOTE The Office of Military History steadfast refused to include the OSS in the lineage of ANY U.S. Army unit and is based upon three main factors:

1. The OSS was an ad-hoc organization

2. The OSS was formed from volunteers

3. The OSS was not a recognized TO&E Table of Organization and Equipment)

END QUOTE

I can kind of understand the bureaucratic reasons for 1 and 3 but I am not sure why the unit being formed of volunteers is a problem. SF consists of triple volunteers. I wish we could accept the history as it really is rather than apply some arbitrary rules that deny reality and history.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Christmas 1944

The below was published by Keith Nightingale on the Small Wars Journal with the original title "Fried Chicken and Family – Christmas 1944". COL (ret) Nightingale served two tours in Vietnam with Airborne and Ranger (American and Vietnamese) units. He commanded airborne battalions in both the 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the 82nd Airborne Division. He later commanded both the 1/75th Rangers and the 1st Ranger Training Brigade. The original article can be viewed at this link: http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/fried-chicken-and-family-christmas-1944

Christmas Day 1944, near Trois-Pont, Belgium, was truly a white Christmas. It was also incredibly cold, especially for those 82nd paratroopers that were holding a tenuous thin line against the best combined armed force the German army could muster. Due to the lack of manpower, men were scattered in two-man foxholes across a much broader front than normal tactics dictated. In such situations, necessity breeds violation.

Combat is the ultimate test of doctrine and wise commanders adjust doctrine to meet tactical necessity. The men were at the crest of a large hill mass that faced another even larger mass, separated only by a partially cleared but snowbound field. Their position could be reached by only the suggestion of a bad road worn into the land by years of wood collectors and game wardens. By no stretch, could it support the requirements of an infantry unit. As such, it did not.

The troops, most still wearing only the light summer paratroop fatigues and leather boots, spent much of their time simply trying to survive. The frequent forays of probing German units served as momentary periods of warmth as adrenalin fired the near-frozen skin and viscera of the combatants. Once quiet resumed, the necessary acts to retain or gain some form of warmth took precedent. Open fires were out of the question. Consequently, the outposts huddled in small foxholes for body warmth and occasionally built small twig fires in the bottom for a moment of heat. But only a moment.

Some had “acquired” a quilt or blanket from some luckless peasant quarters earlier or had the foresight to steal the blanket off their beds in Soissons, France, where they had been recovering from Market-Garden. Very few had the new shoe pacs or even galoshes, so quick was their departure the evening of 17 December. Virtually all troops had bedsheets as hasty camouflage cover.

16 December had brought the juggernaut of two panzer armies against the thinly held Ardennes sector. Very quickly, two US regiments of the green 106th Division were overrun and surrendered. All along the Belgian border area, US units were thrown back in disarray coalescing in pockets of resistance as best they could. Engineer elements blew bridges and with great courage, stoically defended crucial crossing sites and intersections. Places such as Bastogne, St. Vith, Malmedy, Trois-Pont, and Fraiture began to fill with withdrawing elements, mostly leaderless and in some panic.

General Dwight Eisenhower, after understanding the magnitude of the effort, released his only Theatre reserves, the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions at 1900 on 17 December. They were only at part strength with many troops on leave and much of their ordnance in shops for repair. Only a minimal amount of ammunition was locally available.

Loading on hastily assembled Red Ball Express vehicles, mostly open trucks, the troops deployed as rapidly as they could be assembled with only minimal attention to unit integrity so great was the need. Throughout the night, and in alternating sub-zero and sleeting weather, they traveled east to the disintegrating sectors. One division would go to Bastogne in the southern area and the other to Werbomont, further north. Ultimate assignment would be determined after MG Jim Gavin, Acting Corps Commander in the absence of MG Ridgway in the UK and CG, 82nd, met in Bastogne with MG Middleton, the CG VIII Corps.

By luck of the draw and a shorter distance to travel, the 101st arrived in Bastogne, and Gavin ordered it to hold the road structure. The 82nd would go to Werbomont and figure it out from there, so tenuous was any intelligence on German dispositions and intentions. Gavin, meeting the lead elements of his division in the early dawn of 18 December, and with no real feel for enemy dispositions, sent them east on a line paralleling the high ground overlooking the valley between the Rivers Salm and Ourthe. This was a long ridge stretching from Belgium almost into Germany. This would be the northern shoulder of what was soon labeled “The Bulge.”



One of these elements was the 505 PIR which was assigned the easternmost portion of the loosely held line. It was a small group of troops from one of the three battalions that found themselves on a very cold Christmas, receiving presents beyond price. The outpost had been in intermittent contact all day and much of the preceding night. Sleep was a forgotten luxury. Both extreme cold and professional German infantry, well-supported by artillery and armor, forced a maintenance of alertness that a hard core NCO would have envied.

The troops were closely rationing the few boxes of K rations they had snatched in France. Most had eaten the main meals some time ago and were now subsisting on cigarettes, gum, candy, and memories. There was no reason to believe this situation would soon change.

In this area, daylight was a rumor and dark a reality. Fog, even in this most frigid air, had frequently clouded and rolled over the position obscuring all but a few meters to the front. The NCOs in response, sent small patrols and outposts as far forward as the leading edge of the fronting woods, not daring a further positioning for fear of the outposts being bypassed.

Every step broke the hard dry snow surface and sounded across the ground. Here, the snow was dry as flour but crusted. A walk of less than a hundred meters was exhausting. A small patrol could be a full day’s affair. Stealth was achievable only under the dark snow-laden trees that delineated the irregular open ground. The rough roads and paths were packed with deep drifts, all but impenetrable except by armor—of which the Germans apparently had a great deal.

Dark arrived quickly here, with less than six hours of furtive daylight to bar its entrance. The skies had been consistently low, leaden, and impenetrable. The only consistency was the sharp, surgical precision of the cold. No planes were seen or heard. Silence was deep and profound except for the sudden eruption of artillery announcing a German thrust in the sector. A battle would be fought, and calm and cold would then return.

The troops talked in low mutterings through blue lips and clenched teeth. Talking expended energy and movement was prized more than conversation. What talk there was, was of past Christmases, sumptuous feasts relived mouthful by mouthful, and warm surroundings. While they talked to Army efforts to feed a Christmas feast, they were completely aware that this would not happen here, at this time. But, they were wrong.

Famous for being “up front” and for caring for his troops, MG Gavin did not shirk this moment—though his position would allow him to do so. Christmas Day 1944, was not auspicious other than for the precarious nature of his command. Stretched very thin along rugged snow packed terrain, his command was constantly engaged by a force superior in arms but not in will. Only because of the tenacity and ingenuity of his troops, was Gavin able to hold his positions.

From his headquarters in Bra-sur-Lienne, Belgium, as he always did, he visited as many troop positions and subordinate commanders as he could. A review of the Division Operations Report (OpRep) indicates the history for that day.

OPREP 25 December 1944

All units successfully broke contact with the enemy and withdrew to the new defense line (NOTE: the 82nd had been ordered to withdraw to a tighter line in the rear by General Bernard Montgomery the night before. This, somewhat, allowed a reduction of the distance between them. But it also forced Gavin to find his elements in new positions.)

325th Glider Infantry, the 1st Battalion, filled the gap between the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the 7th Armored Division by occupying DRI-LE-CHESLIN and VAUX-CHAVANNE. At 2200 hours, an enemy infantry attack was repulsed. The 2nd Battalion as Division Reserve and the 3rd Battalion as Regimental Reserve occupied positions near AU-HETRE.

504th Parachute Infantry—2nd and 3rd Battalions occupied new positions along the line EN BERGIFA to BRA-VAUX-CHAVANNE. The 1st Battalion, in Regimental Reserve, vicinity of BRA.

505th Parachute Infantry—the 2nd and 3rd Battalions now occupied new defensive positions between TROIS-PONTS and BASSE-BODEUX. 1st Battalion occupied a position 3000 yards north of BASSE-BODEUX as Regimental Reserve.

508th Parachute Infantry—occupied new defensive positions along the line HAUTE-BODEUX, EN BERGIFA with all Battalions on the MLR. The 3rd Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment (28th Inf Div) was relieved of attachment to the 508th Prcht Inf Regt.

307th Airborne Engineer Battalion laid minefields; constructed field fortifications called abatises, and blew bridges to form a barrier along the Division Front.

B Company, 86th Chemical Battalion, A Company, 703d TD Battalion, and 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion were attached to the Division. C Company, 563d Antiaircraft Artillery, Automatic Weapons Battalion was relieved of attachment to the Division.

END OPREP

Previously, on 24 December, the skies had cleared. On one hand, this was a Godsend permitting planes to fly for the first time since the initial attack. Fighters assisted the Division several times in taking out German armor, now constricted on narrow mountain roads and almost out of gas. But, there was a downside.

The open skies meant a much colder temperature for the troops, bound in deep snow and ice. The somewhat warming effect of the low clouds and fog was lost. Concurrently, night brought an almost full moon, eerily illuminating the sparkling snow across the entire front. What once was lost to sight, was now open and at a good distance. Only the dark, laden pines and fir trees obscured vision. It was in the early morning of 25 December that General Gavin began what was his normal day—visiting the units, talking to the troops, and encouraging them where they needed the most support. He was always mindful of the mental condition and emotional needs of his troops. If he could not supply warmth, he could supply spirit. Most often, that was all his troops needed to carry the day.

Preparing to depart his CP with his aide, Hugo Olson, and a driver, he stopped briefly at the mess, took an empty K ration box and went into the kitchen. He returned to his vehicle and asked Hugo to navigate the jeep to his first position. Over the course of the day, he would traverse more than 15 miles of frontage, visiting each of his subordinate units.

The first elements he visited were from the 325 GIR, now holding the high ground along Baraque De Fraiture, the scene of tenacious Tank-Infantry combat the previous few days. The 325, now fully blooded in Normandy, was an integral and highly competent force despite their lack of Airborne status.

Next were elements of the 508th PIR, a mixed element of the 517th and 509th PIRs and the 504th PIR. The recently added 517th and 509th elements had been rushed from the UK as Airborne reinforcements and were not a normal part of the 82nd. However, as Airborne, Gen. Gavin welcomed them to the Division and gladly added them to his stretched forces.

Well past dark and at almost midnight, the General’s jeep found itself at the base of a hill near the last unit. A barely discernible trail was indicated through the deep snow by a small path cut by soldiers who had gone before. The jeep began to wind its way up the narrow twisting trail until it was almost completely snowbound near the crest. At this point, General Gavin ordered the jeep to stop and jumped out. He was almost waist deep in snow but could clearly see the troop positions in the shining moonlight and moved methodically toward them. To his rear, his driver followed with a K ration box in his arms.

Coming upon the men, now on full alert to the people looming behind them, they recognized the general and assumed a loose posture of attention. Gen. Gavin, as he always did, immediately put them at ease with a:

“Hey fellas. Merry Christmas.”

He jumped down into the nearest position, followed by his driver and opened the K ration box and its small remaining portion of fried chicken. He passed the box around to each man who quickly reached in and extracted a piece. While Gen. Gavin held light conversation, the troops eagerly gnawed the long cold meat.

After a few minutes, he turned to his driver and said;

“Come on. Let’s go.”

With that comment, he departed, leaving his troopers with some of the greatest gifts they could have, something to digest for both the stomach and the soul. This is why soldiers fight and would fight for him. It was a lesson in loyalty, dedication, compassion and steely resolve-for both the superior and the subordinates.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Secretary of Defense

General "Mad Dog" Mattis has resigned as Secretary of Defense. Patrick M. Shanahan is serving as the acting Defense Secretary publishing a memorandum on his first day in this position stating “As acting secretary of defense, I now look forward to working with President Trump to carry out his vision alongside strong leaders including the service secretaries, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the combatant commanders, and senior personnel in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.” Additionally, Shanahan stated “We have deep respect for Secretary Mattis’ lifetime of service, and it has been a privilege to serve as his deputy secretary.”

Mattis resigned on December 20th, shortly after Trump unexpectedly announced that the United States would withdraw its forces from Syria. The former Marine Corps General’s resignation letter cited policy disagreements with the president, who has since doubled down on his decision to withdraw American troops from Syria but now is stating that it would be a controlled, safe withdrawal and troops in Iraq along with air power could re-engage ISIS if necessary. Mattis initially planned to resign at the end of February to allow Trump time to find a replacement. Trump, however, announced that Mattis would leave months earlier, on January 1st. Mattis stated that the "President deserves as Sec Def who views are more closely aligned with the President."

Secretary Mattis' short farewell letter to DoD personnel offers steadying advice amid looming uncertainty over troop numbers in Syria and Afghanistan: “Let nothing which is transpiring, change, hinder, or delay your military movements, or plans," he wrote, quoting a telegram President Abraham Lincoln sent to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in February 1865...... “Our Department’s leadership, civilian and military, remains in the best possible hands. I am confident that each of you remains undistracted from our sworn mission to support and defend the Constitution while protecting our way of life. Our Department is proven to be at its best when the times are most difficult. It has been my high honor to serve at your side. May God hold you safe in the air, on land, and at sea.”

Secretary Shanahan had been serving as the Deputy Secretary of Defense since July 19, 2017. Shanahan has not served in the military, instead earning under graduate and graduate degrees in mechanical engineering, and a Masters degree in mechanical engineering from MIT and a Masters in Business Administration from MIT Sloan School of Management. He worked for Boeing, notably as vice president and general manager for Boeing Rotorcraft Systems in Philadelphia where he was responsible for all U.S. Army Aviation programs and site activities in Philadelphia and Mesa, Arizona including the V-22 Osprey, CH-47 Chinook, and the AH-64D Apache programs.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Proud Mary of World War II Fame

Mary Babnick Brown was an American woman who donated her long blond hair to be used in WW II. Brown was a Coloradan; the children of Slovenian immigrants. She left elementary school at the age of 12, to help support her family as a servant for $5/week. When she was 13, she lied about her age so that she could work at National Broom Factory for 75 cents a day, a job she held for 42 years. Her younger siblings pitched in by picking up chunks of coal that had fallen onto the railroad tracks. Brown's lone prized possession was her knee-length fine blonde hair.

In 1943, Mary Brown saw an advertisement in a newspaper, searching for women with blonde hair of at least 22" length, that had never been treated with chemicals or hot irons. The military was offering to purchase such hair, to be used for meteorological instruments in the war effort. The "meteorological instruments" were actually crosshairs for Norden bombsights. The Army Air Forces (the predecessor to today's US Air Force) had tried various materials for the Norden bombsight, including black widow spider webbing, but nothing could withstand the temperature variations like fine blonde human hair that had never been treated with chemicals or heat.

A Norden bombsight and crosshairs in the photo below:

Brown sent off a sample of her 34" blonde hair to the government for analysis. After analyzing her hair, they agreed to purchase it, offering to pay her in war savings stamps. But Brown wouldn't accept payment for her hair. She saw it as her patriotic duty to help the war effort. She later recalled that she cried for months after cutting her hair. It was decades before Brown learned the true use of her hair, and the effect of her sacrifice. In 1987, on her 80th birthday, she received a personal thank-you letter from President Ronald Reagan. Mary died on 14 April 1991.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Chaplain's Corner - Taking Stock at Christmas - 2018

Guest Chaplain's Corner from the Devotion – ‘Take Stock’ -Alastair Begg

(Scripture: Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds. Proverbs 27:23)

Every wise businessman will occasionally hold a stock-taking, when he will examine his accounts, consider what he has on hand, and determine clearly whether his trade is prosperous or declining. Every man who is wise in the kingdom of heaven will cry, "Search me, O God . . . Try me"; and he will frequently set apart special seasons for self-examination, to discover whether things are right between God and his soul. The God whom we worship is a great heart-searcher; and in the past His servants referred to Him as "I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.

Let me encourage you in His name to diligently search and solemnly test your spiritual state, for fear you should come short of the promised rest. This is what every wise man does, and what God Himself does with us all. I exhort you to do the same yourself this evening. Let the oldest saint examine the basics of his piety, for gray heads may cover evil hearts: And the young professor should not despise the word of warning, for the greenness of youth may accompany the rottenness of hypocrisy. Every now and then a spiritual giant falls. The enemy still continues to sow tares among the wheat.

It is not my aim to introduce doubts and fears to your mind; I rather hope that the rough wind of self-examination may help to drive them away.

It is not security but fleshly security that we would kill, not confidence but carnal confidence that we would overthrow, not peace but false peace that we would destroy.

By the precious blood of Christ, which was not shed to make you a hypocrite, but rather that sincere souls might declare His praise, I urge you to search and look, for fear that in the end it will be said of you, "Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting."

Thanks to Deane Schultz, former 7th and 5th SFG(A), for this guest Chaplain's Corner

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Anniversary of Operation Just Cause - Invasion of Panama

Today marks the 29th anniversary of the United States invasion of Panama, codenamed Operation Just Cause, which began on December 20th 1989 and lasted until late January 1990. George H. W. Bush was the President then and this invasion happened 10 years after the U.S. approved a treaty (the Torrijos–Carter Treaty) to transfer control of the Panama Canal to the Panamanian Government by the year 2000.

The invasion was a culmination of events that put a chasm between the US and Panama relationship:

November 1987 - the U.S. cutting military and economic aid and the Panamanian's responding with a restriction on the US Military presence;

February 1988 - the indictment of Panamanian President Noriega on narcotics trafficking charges;

March 1988 - a failed coup against Noriega by Panamanian officers;

May 1989 - Noriega invalidating civilian elections; U.S. pre-staging combat troops in and near Panama for a Training Exercise (Operation Nimrod Dancer);

October 1989 - second coup attempt against Noriega failing;

15-17 December 1989- Noriega declares State f War exists between the US and Panama; USMC Officer shot and killed by Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF); USN officer and wife assaulted by PDF; US National Command Authority directs the execution of OPLAN Just Cause;



20 December 1989 - D Day for Operation Just Cause. Major objectives were protect U.S. lives and key sites and facilities, capture and deliver Noriega to competent authority, neutralize PDF forces as well as command and control, support establishment of a U.S.-recognized government in Panama, and restructure the PDF. The operations utilized 27,684 U.S. troops and over 300 aircraft while opposed by the 16,000 man PDF. Some of the unique combat actions occurring in Operations Just Cause include: Company A, 1st Bn, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne)- already stationed in Panama provided strategic reconnaissance and secured key sites; 75th Ranger Regiment made parachute jumps into Rio Hato Airfield and Torrijos Airport to secure these sites as an air head for follow on US units; 82nd Airborne Division conducting a Raid on Renacer Prison to free political prisoners; and, Delta Force rescuing an American citizen held captive at the Carcel Modelo prison;

3 January 1990 - Noriega Surrenders;

31 January 1990 - Operations Just Cause ends; Operation Promote Liberty begins then ends 4 1/2 years later.

The Pentagon determined that between 300 and 500 Panamanians were killed during the invasion - other sources place that number at 1,000. US Service member casualties were 23 KIA and 325 WIA.

Noriega was extradited to the United States to stand trial were he was convicted on eight counts of drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering and sentenced to 40 years in prison. His sentence was later reduced to 30 years.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Green Beret Charged with Murder

After eight years, two investigations and the intervention of a congressman, Maj. Matthew Golsteyn is being charged with murder in the death of an Afghan man during a 2010 deployment. Golsteyn’s commander “has determined that sufficient evidence exists to warrant the referral of charges against him,” U.S. Army Special Operations Command spokesman Lt. Col. Loren Bymer told Army Times in a brief email statement Thursday. “Major Golsteyn is being charged with the murder of an Afghan male during his 2010 deployment to Afghanistan,” Bymer wrote.

The major’s attorney, Phillip Stackhouse, told Army Times that he and his client learned of the charges on Thursday as well, and that the murder charge carries with it the possibility of a death penalty. Stackhouse called his client a “humble servant-leader who saved countless lives, both American and Afghan, and has been recognized repeatedly for his valorous actions.”

Bymer confirmed that Golsteyn has been recalled to active duty and is under the command of the USASOC headquarters company. An intermediary commander will review the warrant of preferred charges to determine if the major will face an Article 32 hearing that could lead to a court-martial. That commander has 120 days to make that decision. Golsteyn had been placed on voluntary excess leave, an administrative status for soldiers pending lengthy administrative proceedings, Bymer said. He is not being confined at this time.

The path to these charges has been a winding one. Golsteyn, a captain at the time, was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 with 3rd Special Forces Group. During the intense Battle of Marja, explosives planted on a booby-trapped door killed two Marines and wounded three others who were working with the major’s unit. During those heated days, Golsteyn earned a Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest award for valor, when he helped track down a sniper targeting his troops, assisted a wounded Afghan soldier and helped coordinate multiple airstrikes.

He would be awarded that medal at a 2011 ceremony at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The award was later approved for an upgrade to the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest award for valor. But both the medal and his coveted Special Forces tab would be stripped from him due to an investigation that eventually closed in 2014 without any charges.

An Army board of inquiry recommended a general discharge for Golsteyn and found no clear evidence the soldier violated the rules of engagement while deployed in 2010. This would have allowed Golsteyn to retain most of his retirement benefits under a recommended general discharge under honorable conditions. Though he was cleared of a law of armed conflict violation, the board found Golsteyn’s conduct as unbecoming an officer.

Golsteyn was out of Special Forces and in a legal limbo as he awaited a discharge. That could have been the end of it, but in mid-2015, Army documents surfaced, showing that Golsteyn allegedly told CIA interviewers during a polygraph test that he had killed an alleged Afghan bomb-maker and later conspired with others to destroy the body. Those documents were part of a 2011 report filed by an Army investigator, Special Agent Zachary Jackson, who reported that Golsteyn said after the Marines were killed in the February blast that his unit found bomb-making materials nearby, detained the suspected bomb-maker and brought him back to their base.

A local tribal leader identified the man as a known Taliban bomb-maker. The accused learned of the leader’s identification, which caused the tribal leader to fear he would kill him and his family if released. Trusting the leader and having also seen other detainees released, Golsteyn allegedly told CIA interviewers that he and another soldier took the alleged bomb-maker off base, shot him and buried his remains. He also allegedly told the interviewers that on the night of the killing, he and two other soldiers dug up the body and burned it in a trash pit on base.

Stackhouse has previously called this alleged admission a “fantasy” that his client confessed to shooting an unarmed man. Then, in late 2016, during an interview with Fox News, Golsteyn admitted to a version of the incidents involving the killing of the alleged Afghan bomb-maker. The Army opened a second investigation near the end of 2016.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, himself a Marine veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, stepped in on Golsteyn’s behalf, writing a letter to the Army secretary and making scathing public comments about the case, calling the Army’s investigation “retaliatory and vindictive.” The congressman called on Army leadership to “fix this stupidity,” describing Golsteyn as “a distinguished and well regarded Green Beret.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Green Beret General Mark Milley picked as next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs

President Donald Trump announced Saturday that he’s picked a battle-hardened commander who oversaw troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to be the nation’s next top military adviser. If confirmed by the Senate, Gen. Mark Milley, who has been chief of the Army since August 2015, would succeed Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Dunford’s term doesn’t end until Oct. 1, and Milley’s tenure as Army chief of staff is supposed to run through August 2019. Trump said the date of transition is “to be determined.” Trump used an early morning tweet to reveal his choice. “I am thankful to both of these incredible men for their service to our Country!” he said. Dunford is a former commandant of the Marine Corps and commander of coalition troops in Afghanistan. Milley commanded troops during several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dunford’s spokesman, Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder, said all indications are that Dunford will serve his full term. Ryder referred other questions to the White House. He said Dunford congratulated Milley on his nomination. “He has served with Gen. Milley in peacetime and in combat and has the highest regard for his leadership.”

In a statement, Pentagon spokesman Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Andrews said, "we are aware of the president’s nomination and share his confidence for Gen. Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, to be the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Department of Defense remains fully focused on defending our nation.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that Milley was "a battle-tested commander and Pentagon reformer who will be a worthy successor" to Dunford.

Trump’s decision, announced before leaving Washington for the annual Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia, had caught some in the Pentagon by surprise when unofficial word spread Friday after he said a succession announcement was coming. Normally an announcement on a new chairman wouldn't be expected until early next year. Officials had said the Air Force chief, Gen. David Goldfein, was also a strong contender for the job.

Milley is known as a charismatic, outgoing leader who has not been afraid to offer candid and sometimes blunt assessments to Congress. Last year he admonished the House Armed Services Committee for its inability to approve a defense budget, slamming it as “professional malpractice.” In 2016, he told lawmakers, in answer to a direct question, that women should also have to register for the draft now that they are allowed to serve in all combat jobs.

As the Army's top leader, he helped shepherd the groundbreaking move of women into front-line infantry and other combat positions, while warning that it would take time to do it right. More recently, he has worked with his senior officers to reverse a shortfall in Army recruiting when the service fell far short of its annual goal this year.

He also played a role in one of the Army's more contentious criminal cases. While serving as head of U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Milley was assigned to review the case of former Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who abandoned his post in Afghanistan and was held captive by the Taliban for five years. Milley made the early decision to charge Bergdahl with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Bergdahl was eventually found guilty, reduced in rank to private, dishonorably discharged and fined $10,000, but was spared any additional prison time.

A native of Winchester, Massachusetts, and a fervent supporter of the Boston Red Sox and other city teams, Milley received his Army commission from Princeton University in 1980. An infantry officer by training, he also commanded Special Forces units in a career that included deployments in the invasion of Panama in 1989, the multinational mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina to implement the Dayton Peace Accords, and the Iraq war.

The Milley move starts a series of military leadership changes in coming months, including successors in 2019 for Adm. John Richardson as the chief of Naval Operations, Gen. Robert Neller as commandant of the Marine Corps, and Air Force Gen. Paul Selva as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Trump also will pick a replacement for Milley as Army chief. Goldfein began his term as Air Force chief of staff in 2016, so wouldn’t be expected to step down until the summer of 2020.

General Milley served in the 5th Special Forces Group and has earned the following Awards and Decorations: CIB, 2nd Award; EIB; Special Forces Tab; Ranger Tab; Master Parachutists Badge; Special Forces Combat Diver Badge; Defense DSM; Army DSM w/ 2 OLC; Defense SSM w/ 2 OLC; LOM w/ 2 OLC; BSM, w/ 3 OLC; MSM w/ silver OLC; ARCOM with 4 OLC; and many other awards.

Article from the Military Times

Sunday, December 2, 2018

RIP Two Green Berets, One USAF CCT KIA in Afghanistan

The Department of Defense on Wednesday released the identities of three U.S. special operations troops killed during combat operations in Afghanistan. Two Army Green Berets and an Air Force combat controller were killed Tuesday by an improvised explosive device in the eastern Afghan province of Ghazni.

The two Army Special Forces soldiers were Capt. Andrew Patrick Ross, 29, of Lexington, Virginia, and Sgt. 1st Class Eric Michael Emond, 39, of Brush Prairie, Washington. The two were assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. “Andrew and Eric were invaluable members and leaders in 3rd Special Forces Group and the special operations community. Our most heartfelt condolences go out to the families of these brave men,” Col. Nathan Prussian, 3rd Group commander, said in a statement.

The Special Tactics airman was Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin, 25, of Hookstown, Pennsylvania. He was assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. “[Dylan] was the guy everyone wanted to be around, in even the worst of times he had a smile on his face and a way to lighten things up,” a Special Tactics Officer and former team leader of Elchin said in a statement. “He was always doing whatever it took to get the job done.” "Dylan had an unusual drive to succeed and contribute to the team. He displayed maturity and stoicism beyond his years and was always level-headed, no matter the situation,” said Lt. Col. Gregory Walsh, commander of the 26th Special Tactics Squadron. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dylan’s family, fiancĂ©, and friends. He will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.”

The service members died from injuries sustained when their vehicle was struck by an IED in Andar district, Ghazni Province. Their deaths raise the number of U.S. troops killed in combat in Afghanistan this year to 13. Four other Americans, including a civilian contractor, were wounded in the IED blast. Of the three troops killed, Emond had been in the military the longest, at more than 21 years. He had served in the Marine Corps and the Army. This was his seventh overseas tour.

His awards and decorations include three Bronze Star Medals, two Purple Hearts, the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, two NATO Achievement Medal, four Afghanistan Campaign Medals, Army Good Conduct Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, two Overseas Service Ribbons, National Defense Service Medal, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Combat Infantry Badge, and Combat Action Badge. Emond was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Ross had more than seven years of service in the Army. This was his second overseas tour. His awards and decorations include two Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Combat Action Badge, Combat Infantry Badge, and Military Free Fall Parachutist Badge. Ross was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal and the Combat Infantry Badge. He is survived by his wife and parents.

Elchin had been in the Air Force for six years, enlisting directly into Special Tactics. He had qualified in static line parachuting, military free fall, combat scuba diving, and was a rated Joint Terminal Attack Controller. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal with Valor, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Combat Action Medal, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award, Air Force NCO Professional Military Education Graduate Ribbon, Air Force Training Ribbon and NATO Medal. Elchin is survived by his mother and fiancée.

Article from the Military Times

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Murder Charges against SEALS and Raiders in Green Beret's death

Two Navy SEALs and two Marine Raiders will face murder charges in the June 2017 death of an Army Special Forces staff sergeant in Mali. The four personnel face UCMJ charges that include felony murder, involuntary manslaughter, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, hazing and burglary in the strangulation death of Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar, according to a release from Navy Region Mid-Atlantic public affairs.

An Article 32 preliminary hearing for all four accused is scheduled for Dec. 10. None of those charged were named in the release. Redacted charge sheet information reveals previously undisclosed details about the alleged incident. Whereas previous accounts only noted that the two SEALs had assaulted Melgar, charge sheets indicate that the two Marine Raiders, identified only as a staff sergeant and a gunnery sergeant, were allegedly involved in the direct assault as well.

All four individuals are being accused of driving to the Marines' quarters to get duct tape, driving to the quarters shared by Melgar and the SEALs, then breaking down Melgar’s locked door, restraining him and binding him with duct tape and strangling him by using a chokehold. Each has been charged with conspiracy for allegedly sharing information with each other about what they told investigators, omitting information such as the use of duct tape and the Marines’ presence in the room, and disposing of alcohol kept in the quarters.

Rear Adm. Charles Rock, commander of the Mid-Atlantic Region, preferred the charges Wednesday. Though no defendants were named, numerous media outlets have reported that two members of SEAL Team Six, Petty Officer Anthony DeDolph and Chief Petty Officer Adam Matthews, who shared off-site housing in Bamako, Mali, with Melgar, as well as two Marine Raiders, were questioned as “persons of interest” or witnesses in the death investigation.

Navy Capt. Jason Salata shared a statement on behalf of U.S. Special Operations Command. “We honor the memory of Staff Sgt. Melgar, our thoughts remain with his family and teammates. If these allegations of misconduct are substantiated, they represent a violation of the trust and standards required of all service members. We trust our service members to safeguard our nation’s most sensitive interests and to do so with honor," Salata said. He added: “We will not allow allegations or substantiated incidents of misconduct to erode decades of honorable accomplishments by the members of U.S. Special Operations Command. Ours is a culture of professionalism and accountability, which prides itself in being a learning organization that uses critical self-examination in a relentless dedication to improvement.”

Just a week ago, it was reported that the more than year-long investigation had been concluded and handed over to Rock, who was appointed directly by Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer. Melgar’s June 4, 2017, death was initially investigated by Army officials but was later handed over to Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Little information, other than acknowledgement of the death investigation, has been made public by military officials since Melgar’s death. Various media outlets have reported new details as the investigation progressed. Melgar, DeDolph, Matthews and two Marine Raiders shared housing in Mali and were in the country on a mission supporting Malian and French counterterrorism units fighting al-Qaida factions in the region.

Initially, DeDolph and Matthews told investigators they found Melgar unresponsive in his room. They later changed their story to say the three were conducting hand-to-hand combat training at 4 a.m. The pair said that Melgar was drunk, passed out and couldn’t be revived. But that raised further questions, as friends of Melgar knew he did not drink alcohol. When that information, along with toxicology reports showing no drugs nor alcohol in Melgar’s system, DeDolph and Matthews again changed their stories. They said they had ambushed Melgar in his room after a perceived slight, saying he had deliberately avoided them while driving to a party. During the scuffle, Melgar became unconscious and stopped breathing. DeDolph and Matthews told investigators they attempted CPR and a field-expedient tracheotomy before taking him to a nearby medical facility. He could not be revived.

A later autopsy classified his death as “homicide by asphyxiation,” or strangulation. Marine Corps Special Operations Command has previously declined to comment on the investigation. Both DeDolph and Matthews were flown from Mali shortly after the incident and placed on administrative hold at SEAL Team Six headquarters in Dam Neck, Virginia.

Melgar had emailed his wife shortly before his death and told her had a “bad feeling” about some of his fellow troops. Other reports indicate that Melgar may have learned of cash skimming by fellow special operators. The Daily Beast last year reported that Melgar had allegedly uncovered that the SEALs were skimming cash from operational funds. The funds are often used to pay informants for terrorist or arms trafficking information. Melgar was nearly finished with his deployment to Mali when he died.

Melgar was assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group at the time of his death. A native of Lubbock, Texas, Melgar joined the Army in 2012 and served two tours in Afghanistan with 3rd Special Forces Group out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal posthumously.

Article from the Military Times

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Chapter Meeting Notes October 2018

Old Business:

Honorary Members to Associate: See Bill on how to write your resume. Some may be selected, some may not. National will still maintain their standards in the bylaws.

Storage Unit: Chair – Phil Sloniger. Motion to spend $3500 to buy a Connex, Passed.

23rd Annual Ralph Dominguez/Jerry Montoya Food Drive: Chair Greg Brown, Committee Chuy Zamora, Steven Kroll, Steve Franzoni & Al Oliveira. $2000 max expenses passed. Various coordination efforts are in progress.

New business:

Finance Briefing: It was voted on to establish a finance committee that is comprised of Steve Franzoni, Al Oliveira and Brain Kanof. They will propose a course of action on investing the Chapters funds to hopefully provide more growth. Phil moved that we absorb the loss from the National Convention and move on. Passed, despite a last minute suggestion by Bill to invest 40% of Chapter funds in Lottery scratch off tickets.

2018 Christmas party: Our chapter Christmas party is set for December 8th at VFW 812. Jerry Campos is the chair with Chuy, Pablo, Tony, and Leo as committee members. $3500 spending limit was approved. Some decision made by the committee are as follows; RSVP cutoff is 3 December. RSVP to Jerry Campos, Steve or Pete. A table can be reserved IF that party has 10 people. Either family or 10 friend that want to sit together. Social hour will be from 1800-1900 with dinner will be served from 1900 to 1945 hours and if you are late the food will be gone. The food is being catered by East End catering. A vote will be made at the November meeting (17th). The Chapter member (or former spouse) and one guest is free. All other guest will be $10. Larry “Mojo” will collect the money. Pete and Steve will run the prizes. No decision has been made on how that will go yet. And lastly, dress will be casual.

SF Students at USASMA Welcome Party: We have no long tabbers USASMA students this year and may cancel the get together, but in the interest of getting Associate Members to join, we may still hold it for the PSYOPS and Civil Affairs students.

Chapter Elections: Pete, Bill and Steve Nominated for another 2-year term for President, Secretary and Vice President respectively. Larry Carson was nominated for Treasurer. November is Elections and December at the Christmas party will be the installation of Officers.

Cub Scout Pack 58: Re-charter in January, the Chapter will pay the Sponsor fees again (less than $100). With the National BSA allowing girls in the Scouts, the Pack asked us for permission to admit girls. Nobody voiced any objections so Bill (Chartered Representative) will notify the Pack Committee Chair. Pack 58 continues to win awards as the top Pack in the Mescalero District.

Deceased Member Plaque: Tom Brady – Chair. His intent is to make memorial plates for the oldest deaths first.

Wreaths Across America: Pete and Bill are reviewing the list of Deceased SF and Chapter Members who get a wreath. Total will be discussed at the November meeting. The Chapter normally funds wreaths for all interned SF brothers in the Fort Bliss National Cemetery.

US Border Patrol Special Operations Group 2019 Law Enforcement Technology and Equipment Expo: This Expo is our top annual fundraiser and is scheduled for 1-2 May, 2019. Those interested in being on the Committee should see Pete or Steve.

SFA 9 Member SGM Derek Koukies retired: In his own words, “I had my retirement ceremony on Thursday, 8 Nov 2018. My official retirement date is 31JAN2019 (30yrs). I am on terminal leave now, but will begin working for General Dynamics Informational Technology Branch here at FBNC at the Special Operations Mission Training Center (SOMTC) in the command exercise section on 26 November 2018.” “I have transferred my membership to SFA Chapter 100. I just want to thank you all for the camaraderie and support. During my time in El Paso. Everyone there are sincere and genuine people. I hope to make it back out to El Paso in the near future. Please pass on my warm regards to everyone.” As many of you know, Derek was one of the most active Chapter 9 - USASMA SF Students, of all time. We wish him the best with Chapter 100!

Chapter President's Message:

Greeting all. Welcome to November. The year is winding down and in less than 45 days, we’ll be in 2019 and starting all over. I’ve sat at the helm for 11 years now and it is, and has been, my honor to represent the Isaac Camacho Chapter, despite my inability to grow a decent mustache. I only hope that I’ve represented Chapter 9 with honor and grace (not so much sometimes I know). I will continue to lead from the front as long as you will have me. I want to give a heartfelt thanks to Bill and Steve for sticking with me. I, better than anyone know the work that these two put into the Chapter; Thank you brothers.

Now to some real business. As mentioned above, the Chapter Christmas party is set for 8 December at the VFW Post 812. Social hour will be from 1800-1900 with dinner from 1900-1945. Based on the RSVP’s, that will be the amount of plates ordered and please RSVP by 3 December. You can either notify me, Steve F. and/or Jerry Campos. Dress will be casual or in your Sundays best, your call.

Pete Peral
President SFA Chapter IX
De Oppresso Liber

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Operation Magic Carpet- Bringing Home the Troops from WWII

The U.S. military experienced an unimaginable increase during World War II. In 1939, there were 334,000 servicemen, not counting the Coast Guard. In 1945, there were over 12 million, including the Coast Guard. At the end of the war, over 8 million of these men and women were scattered overseas in Europe, the Pacific and Asia. Shipping them out wasn’t a particular problem but getting them home was a massive logistical headache. The problem didn’t come as a surprise, as Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall had already established committees to address the issue in 1943.



When Germany fell in May 1945, the U.S. Navy was still busy fighting in the Pacific and couldn’t assist. The job of transporting 3 million men home fell to the Army and the Merchant Marine. 300 Victory and Liberty cargo ships were converted to troop transports for the task. During the war, 148,000 troops crossed the Atlantic west to east each month; the rush home ramped this up to 435,000 a month over 14 months.

In October 1945, with the war in Asia also over, the Navy started chipping in, converting all available vessels to transport duty. On smaller ships like destroyers, capable of carrying perhaps 300 men, soldiers were told to hang their hammocks in whatever nook and cranny they could find. Carriers were particularly useful, as their large open hangar decks could house 3,000 or more troops in relative comfort, with bunks, sometimes in stacks of five welded or bolted in place.



The Navy wasn’t picky, though: cruisers, battleships, hospital ships, even LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank) were packed full of men yearning for home. Two British ocean liners under American control, the RMS Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, had already served as troop transports before and continued to do so during the operation, each capable of carrying up to 15,000 people at a time, though their normal, peacetime capacity was less than 2,200. Twenty-nine ships were dedicated to transporting war brides: women married to American soldiers during the war.

The Japanese surrender in August 1945 came none too soon, but it put an extra burden on Operation Magic Carpet. The war in Asia had been expected to go well into 1946 and the Navy and the War Shipping Administration were hard-pressed to bring home all the soldiers who now had to get home earlier than anticipated. The transports carrying them also had to collect numerous POWs from recently liberated Japanese camps, many of whom suffered from malnutrition and illness.



The time to get home depended a lot on the circumstances. USS Lake Champlain, a brand new Essex-class carrier that arrived too late for the war, could cross the Atlantic and take 3,300 troops home a little under 4 days and 8 hours. Meanwhile, troops going home from Australia or India would sometimes spend months on slower vessels. There was enormous pressure on the operation to bring home as many men as possible by Christmas 1945. Therefore, a sub-operation, Operation Santa Claus, was dedicated to the purpose. Due to storms at sea and an overabundance of soldiers eligible for return home, however, Santa Claus could only return a fraction in time and still not quite home but at least to American soil. The nation’s transportation network was overloaded: trains heading west from the East Coast were on average 6 hours behind schedule and trains heading east from the West Coast were twice that late.

Many freshly discharged men found themselves stuck in separation centers but faced an outpouring of love and friendliness from the locals. Many townsfolk took in freshly arrived troops and invited them to Christmas dinner in their homes. Others gave their train tickets to soldiers and still others organized quick parties at local train stations for men on layover. A Los Angeles taxi driver took six soldiers all the way to Chicago; another took another carload of men to Manhattan, the Bronx, Pittsburgh, Long Island, Buffalo and New Hampshire. Neither of the drivers accepted a fare beyond the cost of gas.



All in all, though, the Christmas deadline proved untenable. The last 29 troop transports, carrying some 200,000 men from the China-India-Burma theater, arrived to America in April 1946, bringing Operation Magic Carpet to an end, though an additional 127,000 soldiers still took until September to return home and finally lay down the burden of war.

Article from Beyond The Band of Brothers website

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

USMC Birthday Message from the Commandant

The Corps’ 243rd birthday is just around the corner, and the commandant’s birthday message may have some Marines reaching for the tissues. The annual birthday message is a tradition birthed under the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. John A Lejeune. Most years the Corps posts a cheesy motivational video. But this year’s message from Gen. Robert B. Neller, the 37th commandant of the Marine Corps, is a heartfelt reflection on what binds all Marines together and the hardships all Marines share.

Narrated by Neller, the message traces the individual development of a Marine from his early days to their first deployment and senior leadership roles that follow. The message highlights the misery and difficulties that bind Marines in training and on the battlefield, the sweat and blood that is shed, and the challenges Marines must overcome throughout their career. It’s a reminder that all Marines are the same, and the Corps has a job to do.



The video, as with previous years, also discusses the Corps’ historical legacy with a focus on the World War I battle of Belleau Wood and the entry of women into the Corps. There’s also a shout out to the Corps’ latest Medal of Honor recipient, retired Sgt. Maj. John Canley, who was awarded the nation’s highest award for combat valor for his heroic actions during the battle of Hue City during the Vietnam War. The Marine Corps celebrates its 243rd birthday on November 10th.