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.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Shingles Vaccination Update

The Army Surgeon General recommends that Soldiers for Life (retired soldiers) to ask about vaccines for shingles. The vaccine is recommended for everyone over 60 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but approved by the Food and Drug Administration for those over 50.

A newer vaccine, Shingrix, is now available and is considered to be more effective and longer lasting. The CDC recommends Shingrix for shingles and related complications. Usually, two doses of Shingrix are needed with injections 2 to 6 months apart for adults aged 50 years or older.

You should consider being vaccinated with Shingrix even if you have already been vaccinated with the current vaccine Zostavax. Studies have shown that the effectiveness of Zostavax wanes over time. If you have previously had a Zostavax vaccine injection, discuss with your physician whether you should and how soon you can receive a Shingrix vaccination. You should wait at least 8 weeks after a patient received Zostavax to administer Shingrix.

One thing: check at your health care facility about availability of Shingrix. Demand is high, and some temporary shortages have been reported.

To recap, shingles is a painful rash that usually develops on one side of the body, often the face or torso. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus becomes dormant in the body and can stay dormant for decades. During a shingles outbreak, a rash consisting of blisters forms; it usually fades away in 2 to 4 weeks. The problem with shingles is the nerve pain that may last for months after the rash goes away.

One of our Chapter members thought he had Shingles as he presented a rash on his check and neck, but it thankfully just turned out to be dried boogers. We scrapped them off of Bill with a butter knife.

The pain can be deep and intense, and most over-the-counter pain killers have little effect. Over time the nerve pain will diminish, but that process can be slow and especially frustrating. Most people who develop shingles have only one outbreak during their lifetime, but you can have shingles more than once. Vaccinations are an important tool in maintaining health and readiness for all ages. The vaccine for shingles is an important vaccine. Even if you’ve already been vaccinated, ask your physician what he or she recommends.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Remembering COL James N. "Nick" Rowe

Nick Rowe, a Special Forces legend, was captured 55 years ago today. Rowe graduated from West Point in 1960 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. In 1963, First Lieutenant Rowe was sent to the Republic of Vietnam and assigned as Executive Officer of Detachment A-23, 5th Special Forces Group, a 12-man "A-team". Located at Tan Phu in An Xuyen Province, A-23 organized and advised a Civilian Irregular Defense Group camp in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam.

On October 29, 1963, after only three months in country, Rowe was captured by Viet Cong elements along with Captain Humberto "Rocky" R. Versace and Sergeant Daniel L. Pitzer while on an operation to drive a Viet Cong unit out of the village of Le Coeur.

Rowe was separated from the other Green Berets and ending up spending 62 months in captivity only having short encounters with fellow American POWs. Rowe was held in the U Minh Forest, better known as the "Forest of Darkness," in extreme southern Vietnam. And, during most of his five years in captivity Rowe was held in a small bamboo cage.

Rowe, like the other Green Berets were targets of intense interrogation having intelligence that the VC wanted concerning CIDG camps, identities of friendly Vietnamese, and unit designations, locations and strength. Smartly, Rowe had left his West Point ring at home, and he stood by his cover story that he was a draftee engineer charged with building schools and other civil affairs projects. The Viet Cong interrogated him unsuccessfully. They gave him some engineering problems to solve and Rowe, relying on the basic instruction in engineering he'd received at West Point, successfully maintained his deception.

Eventually, his cover story was blown when the Viet Cong found out through news reports that Rowe was a high-value prisoners-of-war (POWs). This enraged the VC, prompting them to order his execution.

Rowe was then led into the jungle to be shot. When his would-be executioners were distracted by a flight of American helicopters, he overpowered his guard, escaped and signaled a UH-1 "Huey" helicopter. He was rescued on December 31, 1968.

Rowe had been promoted to Major during captivity. And in 1971, he authored the book, Five Years to Freedom, an account of his years as a prisoner of war.

Rowe retired but was recalled to active duty in 1981 as a lieutenant colonel to design and build a course based upon his experience as a POW. Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) is now a requirement for graduation from the U.S. Army Special Forces Qualification Course. SERE is taught at the Colonel James "Nick" Rowe Training compound at Camp Mackall, North Carolina. It is considered by many to be the most important advanced training in the special operations field. Navy, Air Force and Marine Special Operations personnel all attend variations of this course taught by their respective services.

In 1987, Colonel Rowe was assigned as the Chief of the Army division of the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG), providing counter-insurgency training for the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Working closely with the Central Intelligence Agency and intelligence organizations of the Republic of the Philippines, he was involved in its nearly decade-long program to penetrate the New People's Army (NPA), the communist insurgency that threatened to overthrow the Philippines' government.

In February 1989, Colonel Rowe's intelligence operations on the Communist's planned major terrorist attacks, he became a high-profile target for assassination and on April 21, 1989, as he was being driven to work at the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group headquarters in an armored limousine, Colonel Rowe's vehicle was hit by gunfire. Twenty-one shots hit the vehicle but one round entered through an unarmored portion of the vehicle striking Colonel Rowe in the head, killing him instantly.

COL James N. "Nick" Rowe is buried at Arlington Cemetary amongst thousands of heros.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Chaplain's Corner - October 2018

Again, we call on Deane Schultz, SFC (ret) former 7th and 5th SFG(A) member on providing a guest column for the Chaplain's Corner. Deane's comment on the below, is "That is what the Holy Spirit does. Especially for those who are hurting".

'The Spirit's Applying Work' - Alastair Begg

(Scripture: "He will take what is Mine and declare it to you." John 16:15)

There are times when all the promises and doctrines of the Bible are of no help unless a gracious hand applies them to us. We are thirsty but too faint to crawl to the water-brook. When a soldier is wounded in battle, it is of little use for him to know that there are those at the hospital who can bind up his wounds and medicines to ease all the pains that he now suffers: What he needs is to be carried there and to have the remedies applied.

It is the same with our souls, and to meet this need there is One, even the Spirit of truth, Who takes the things of Jesus and applies them to us.

Do not think that Jesus has placed His joys on heavenly shelves so we may climb up and retrieve them for ourselves; rather He draws near and sheds His peace abroad in our hearts. Christian, if you are tonight struggling under deep distress, your Heavenly Father does not give you promises and then leave you to draw them up from the Word like buckets from a well. The promises He has written in the Word He will write afresh on your heart.

He will display His love to you and by His blessed Spirit dispel your cares and troubles.

Let it be known to you, if you mourn, that it is God's prerogative to wipe every tear from the eyes of His people. The good Samaritan who helped that wounded man alongside the road did not say, "Here is the wine, and here is the oil for you"; he actually poured in the oil and the wine. So Jesus not only gives you the sweet wine of His promise, but He holds the golden cup to your lips and pours the lifeblood into your mouth. The poor, sick, worn-out pilgrim is not merely strengthened to walk, but he is lifted up on eagles' wings.

Glorious Gospel that provides everything for the helpless, that draws near to us when we cannot reach it ourselves—it brings us grace before we seek grace! There is as much glory in the giving as in the gift. Joyful people who have the Holy Spirit to bring Jesus to them!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Veterans Running for Congress

A total of 172 veterans won primaries this year and will appear on midterm ballots across the country. Their military service spans from the 1950s to today, and includes time spent in the active-duty ranks, reserves and the Coast Guard. On election night, Military Times will track the status of each veteran’s race across the country and update the results here. Readers can sort the candidates by clicking on the column headers at the Military Times graph, or search for specific names using the search bar.

Here are a few key incumbent veterans to watch on election night:

Rep. Mike Coffman, Republican, Colorado 6th

Coffman, an Iraq War veteran who served in both the Army and Marine Corps, is often among the most endangered incumbents each election year. His suburban Colorado district is a top target for Democrats hoping to take a majority in the House, and recent polls have cast doubt on whether he will win a sixth term.

Coffman is a fixture on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the head of personnel policy for the House Armed Services Committee. If he can retain the seat, he’ll continue to grow as an influential voice on veterans and defense issues for the party. If he can’t, it will be a big boost to Democrats’ political goals.


Rep. Duncan Hunter, Republican, California 50th

Hunter, one of the most outspoken veterans in Congress, was indicted in August on charges he allegedly used more than $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for a host of personal expenses. Hunter has called the allegations a political attack by operatives within the Department of Justice.

The indictment hasn’t seemed to seriously endanger his re-election campaign so far — he leads in local polling — but has forced the Marine Corps veteran to step down from his seat on the House Armed Services Committee as the investigation continues. If he wins in November, the lingering legal problems still could affect how much influence he has in the next Congress.


Sen. Bill Nelson, Democrat, Florida, US Senate

Nelson, an Army veteran who has served in the Senate for 18 years, is squaring off against Navy veteran and Florida Gov. Rick Scott in a race that could determine whether Democrats can gain control of the Senate. Current polls show Nelson with a slim lead, but a loss by him all but guarantees Republicans will keep the majority in the Senate.

Defense issues have largely taken a back seat to local priorities in the campaign. Nelson serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Scott has been frequently seen on the campaign trail sporting a Navy ballcap to further emphasize his service.


Rep. Scott Taylor, Republican, Virginia 2nd

Taylor, who served in Iraq as a Navy SEAL, is in a tight race with Democratic challenger and fellow Navy veteran Elaine Luria. The district is one that Republicans will have to hold on to if they have any chance of retaining a majority in the House.

The Norfolk-area district has a large veterans population, so military and post-military policies have played a role in the campaign. Recent polls have given Taylor an edge, but Democratic backers have targeted the race for an infusion of late campaign cash.


Rep. Connor Lamb, Democrat, Pennsylvania 17th

Lamb, a Marine Corps legal officer who is still serving in the reserves, scored a slim victory in a special election in March despite expectations that the Republican-leaning district would favor his opponent. Because of redistricting ordered by the state Supreme Court, he now faces a contest against incumbent GOP Rep. Keith Rothfus.

But national Republican Party leaders have begun withdrawing financial support from Rothfus in recent weeks, a signal that they may consider the contest already safely in Democratic hands.

A quick look at the political scoreboard on Military Times showed that out of 172 veterans running for congress there were 63 Democrats and 113 Republicans, with one Independent. 76 were combat vets. This country could certainly use more veterans in Congress. They know how to operate on a budget, sometimes without any funding but making things happen. These Veterans know what it is like to serve your country and not yourselves or a special interest group. And you won't likely be getting anyone from this group advocating kneeling for the National Anthem - most will likely support the right of never-do-wells to kneel, but wouldn't advocate doing so, or kneel themselves - it's called respect for a cause bigger than yourself and especially respect to those who gave all. God Bless this Nation.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

General Dunford on Russia, ISIS and China

Gen. Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Staff, spoke last week with a small group of traveling reporters after attending a conference of NATO Military Chiefs in Warsaw, including Breaking Defense contributor James Kitfield. Dunford described Russia’s strategy for pulling NATO apart and reiterated that Moscow poses the single greatest global threat to the UnIted States. Edited excerpts of that interview follow.

Q: How would you describe Moscow’s strategy?

Dunford: Russia has studied the United States since 1991 [at the end of the Cold War], and they know that the source of our strategic strength is the network of allies and partners that we have built over 70 years, and that operationally our strength is the ability to project military power. So I think Russia’s strategy is pretty simple: They want to undermine the credibility of the United States in terms of meeting its alliance commitments, and thus erode the cohesion of the NATO alliance. They also want to field capabilities to challenge our ability to project power into Europe. That’s why they’ve taken this small slice of land in Kaliningrad [on the Baltic Sea] and deployed anti-ship cruise missiles, anti-ship ballistic missiles, and air defense systems there. It’s an anti-access, aerial denial strategy aimed at challenging the Euro-Atlantic link.

Q: Since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and military intervention in eastern Ukraine, NATO launched the European Deterrence Initiative; deployed four “Battle Groups” to frontline states in the Baltics and Poland; announced two new commands for reinforcing NATO forces in the event of an actual conflict; and adopted in principle Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ readiness goal of having 30 battalions, 30 warships, and 30 squadrons of aircraft ready to deploy in 30 days. Is it fair to say that NATO has awakened from its post-Cold War slumber?

Dunford: I will tell you that [last week’s Military Chiefs] meeting was one of the most productive ever for this reason: three years ago there was not the appreciation we see today of the challenge posed by Russia and the threat of violent extremism. As a military leader it’s very easy now because we don’t have to debate those threats any more. We now have a very clear mandate to adapt NATO’s to confront those challenges. NATO is first and foremost about deterrence, and collective defense in the event that deterrence fails. All of our activities – our exercises, our training, and changes in our force posture – are designed to send a message, especially to Russia, that NATO has effective deterrence and collective defense capabilities.

Q: Do you see similarities between Russia’s actions in the Baltic Sea and China’s aggressive posture in the South China Sea, where Beijing is building artificial islands, militarizing them, and then claiming zones of exclusive sovereignty?

Dunford: There are clear similarities, because what Russia is trying to do vis-à-vis our allies and ability to project power, China is also trying to do. China is a rising power in the Pacific, and they have a fundamentally different form of government and some protectionist economic policies that have created friction in our relationship. I would broaden it even beyond the South China Sea, and tell you we’re seeing an erosion in the rules-based international order in the region. Along with our Pacific partners we share a commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific based on international rules, norms and standards.

Q: How do you enforce those rules and norms in light of China’s actions?

Dunford: The military dimension is Freedom of Navigation operations that we conduct, along with 22 other nations. These are normal activities designed to demonstrate that the United States [military] will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows. We’re not going to allow illicit claims to become de facto reality. That’s what (FON operations) are all about. Having said that, if you look at the stakes involved for both the United States and China, that argues for these issues being dealt with peacefully. There is absolutely no upside for either country in a major conflict.

Q: You mentioned the terrorism threat earlier. Do you believe the ISIS’ [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] caliphate is all but defeated?

Dunford: If you look at the terrain they hold, the resources they command and the media capabilities they have today versus two years ago, it’s fair to say that ISIS is on their heels a bit. It’s also fair to say that we have had other extremist groups at this same stage, only to see them adapt and find other ways to try and advance their agendas. So we know the job is not completed yet.

Q: What is the next stage in the fight?

Dunford: I think ISIS will start to organize itself into a guerilla insurgency, rather than a more conventional force that tried to hold ground. They’ll look for opportunities to launch high-profile attacks, but probably focused more locally, because the pressure ISIS has been under over the last two years has disrupted its ability to conduct external operations. It’s just hard for its fighters to move around right now. In the meantime, the greatest challenge we face today is probably from individuals and homegrown violent extremists who are inspired by ISIS’ ideology.

Q: How important was it that Congress passed a bipartisan, $674 billion defense spending bill on time, without a continuing resolution or sequester caps kicking in?

Dunford: That was the first time that has happened in my 41-year career! (laughs) I think that reflects a commitment from the executive and legislative branches to give us the wherewithal to do our job. Now that we have a sufficient level of funding, my message to our legislative leadership is that the most important thing going forward is a sustained level of funding. Because it took us years to get into this fix where we couldn’t spend money efficiently, or be good stewards of our budget, because we lurched from year to year with fluctuating levels of spending. That didn’t allow us to be effective partners with the defense industry, for instance, because they need predictability in order to deliver [equipment and materiel] on time and at projected cost. No matter how big the defense budget is, every year we have to make choices. And we can make much better choices and prioritize better if we’re looking ahead three-to-five years informed by predictable funding levels.”

Article from Breaking Defense

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Story of A Navy Pilot shooting down a Syrian Jet

He sipped coffee at nearly 700 miles per hour, 20,000 feet above the Earth, roaring toward the battle of Raqqa. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael “M.O.B.” Tremel had a hunch the day’s mission would be different than the others he had flown into the gut of war-ravaged Syria, dropping bombs to protect friendly forces in the fight against the Islamic State.

But the Pennsylvania native carried no inkling that this operation on June 18, 2017, would secure his own place among naval aviation icons. “Defending the guys on the ground is what I’ve done my whole career,” the F/A-18E Super Hornet pilot told Navy Times last week at the Tailhook Association’s annual convention, where he received the Distinguished Flying Cross for becoming the first American pilot to shoot down an enemy plane since 1999. Tremel didn’t want to talk too much about those troops on the ground, but according to his medal citation they included an Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controller, or JTAC, who was calling in strikes for Syrian rebels fighting Islamic State militants in their Raqqa stronghold. The beauty of the day clashed not only with the fighting below but also the thorny international politics that animate what strategists contend is a proxy war in Syria. It pits Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad and his Hezbollah and Russian allies against a shifting array of insurgents backed by Gulf Arab states and Turkey, plus Kurdish militias largely supported by the United States.

These days, the complicated battles on the ground are matched by a jumble of jets in the sky. “You have Russian aircraft, Turkish aircraft, Iraqis, the Syrian air force,” Tremel said. That’s not want Tremel saw outside his cockpit in 2014, three years into the Syrian civil war, when he joined one of the first U.S. sorties into the divided country to bomb Islamic State positions.

By last summer, a slip up could cause an international incident. The rules of engagement briefed to the “Golden Warriors” of Strike Fighter Squadron 87 stressed caution. Russian aviators appeared to reciprocate by flying “very professionally, and so did we,” Tremel said.

Tremel and his wingman, Lt. Cmdr. Carl “JoJo” Krueger, began their day with a launch off the carrier George H.W. Bush in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. They swung south of Cyprus and then jetted over Turkey toward Syria. Once on scene, Tremel said they “kind of orbited overhead" to get a better sense of what was going on above and below them.

Above, a Russian Su-35 Flanker fighter lingered, demanding their attention. Below, the JTAC had been aggressively calling in strikes and feeding them combat reports. And across the border in Iraq, U.S. and Baghdad forces were wresting Mosul from Islamic State fighters. “A couple guys who took off on an earlier wave from the boat had done a couple shows of force down low to try and stop (Syrian military forces) from employing weapons on our partners,” Tremel said.

His radar soon picked up an unknown aircraft closing fast on the U.S.-allied Kurdish and Arab militias bannered as the Syrian Democratic Forces. It was a Syrian Su-22 Fitter. Tremel said he tried to prod the pilot to move south and away from the friendly forces he was shepherding below.

Last year at a Tailhook panel, he told fellow Navy and Marine Corps aviators that he realized they would need to execute a “head butt.” He flew close overhead to the Syrian jet and fired out flares. “At any point in time, if this aircraft would head south and work its way out of the situation, it’d be fine with us,” Tremel said. “We could go back to executing (close-air support).”

That didn’t happen.

“He ended up rolling in, dropping ordnance, two bombs on those defended forces,” Tremel said. Tremel went for the Sidewinder missile. “It was really crazy, swinging that master arm for the first time in combat with an air-to-air missile selected,” he recalled. But it didn’t work.

“Real time, I thought I might have been too close,” Tremel said. “I thought maybe I hit (the jet) but it didn’t fuse in time.” So Tremel turned to the AIM-120, an advanced medium-range missile. “That got the job done from about half a mile,” he said. It sliced into the Fitter’s rump and pitched the jet right, then down.

Tremel had flown through a debris cloud after destroying a drone during air-to-air training as a junior officer, so he knew to veer left. He watched the Syrian pilot eject. The entire skirmish, from detecting the Syrian aircraft to shooting it down, took about eight minutes, Tremel said.

Krueger received an Air Medal last week not only for helping Tremel but also for putting his jet between the American aircraft and other threats after the Syrian jet fell to the ground. All of the Navy pilots were well briefed on both the dicey geopolitics and the rules of engagement that guided potential encounters with other aviators, Krueger said at last year’s Tailhook. “Looking at the wreckage down below us, it was a different feeling,” Krueger recalled. “We had to make some decisions pretty quickly, and I thought the training and commanders’ guidance that we got at that point was a big deal.” Last week, Tremel played down his actions and instead credited the sailors on the carrier who work hard, often in obscurity, to make sure even the rarely used missiles are ready to go when they are called upon. “For the one day we need them,” he said, “it works!”

Friday, October 5, 2018

RIP Special Forces General Sidney Shachnow

Major General Sidney Shachnow, Holocaust survivor and Special Forces Legend crossed over on 28 September 2018 at the age of 84.

Sid Shachnow was born Lithuania in 1934 and at 7 years of age was imprisoned in the Kovno concentration camp during World War II because his family was Jewish. After three years of enduring brutalities and watching his extended family slaughtered, he escaped, narrowly avoiding the roundup and murder of all the children at Kovno and Auschwitz to be gassed.

Shachnow evaded for months, suffering starvation and malnutrition, fleeing 2,000 miles in a six-month journey across Europe, mostly on foot across Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, and finally to American occupied Nuremberg, Germany where he obtained a visa to the United States and enlisted in the US Army rising to the rank of Sergeant First Class then entering Officer Candidate School receiving a commission in the Infantry.

In 1962 Shachnow volunteered for the Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets, where he served for the next thirty-two years. Promted to Captain, he was assigned as Commander of Detachment A-121, at Vietnam's An Long Camp near the Cambodian border along the Mekong River.

In the 1970s he served as Commander of Det-A, Berlin Brigade, a clandestine unit of Cold War Green Berets. This covert unit was made up of selectively trained and language qualified members of Special Forces, as well as many Eastern European immigrants who brought much needed culture, geographical and language skills to the assignment. Their missions were classified; they dressed in civilian clothing made in East and West Germany, and carried appropriate non-American documentation and identification.

Shachnow's status grew as Special Forces grew, rising to the rank of Major General, receiving both a masters and an honorary doctoral degree along the way. He traveled the world, from Vietnam to the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Korea and back to Germany for the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Gen. Shachnow's most recent assignments include:
Commanding General, John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Airborne, Fort Bragg (1992–1994)
Commanding General, United States Army Special Forces Command, Airborne, Fort Bragg
Commanding General, U.S. Army Berlin
Director, Washington Office, United States Special Operations Command, Airborne
Deputy Commanding General, 1st Special Operations of Command, Airborne, Fort Bragg
Chief of Staff, 1st Special Operations Command, Airborne, Fort Bragg

Among Maj. Gen. Shachnow's many Awards and Decorations, are:
Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Silver Star with Oak Leaf Clusters
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Clusters and Valor Device
Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf clusters
Air Medal with the numeral "12"
Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf clusters and Valor Device
Combat Infantryman Badge
Master Parachutist Badge
Ranger Tab
Special Forces Tab
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross
Maj. Gen. Shachnow is the author of Hope and Honor, an autobiographical account of his childhood experience in the Nazi Kovno concentration camp of Lithuania, his immigration and assimilation to the United States and his 40-year career in the U.S. Army, Special Forces.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Former Special Forces medic receives Medal of Honor for valor in Afghanistan

An Army Special Forces soldier will receive the Medal of Honor for fighting through an enemy ambush and saving his teammates' lives 10 years ago in Afghanistan, the White House announced Friday.

Former Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II, who had already received a Silver Star for his actions, was honored with the nation’s highest award for valor by President Donald Trump during an Oct. 1 ceremony at the White House.

Shurer served as a Special Forces medic with 3rd Special Forces Group. On April 6, 2008, Shurer and his team were assigned to take out high-value targets of the Hezeb Islami al Gulbadin in Shok Valley, according to the Army. As the soldiers moved through the valley, they were attacked by enemy machine gun, sniper and rocket-propelled grenade fire, according to the White House.

The lead assault element suffered several casualties and became pinned down on the mountainside. Shurer ran through enemy fire to treat a soldier who had been hit in the neck by shrapnel from an RPG blast.

He then fought for an hour through a barrage of bullets and enemy fighters and up the mountain to the rest of the lead element, the White House said. There, Shurer treated and stabilized four more wounded soldiers before evacuating them, carrying and lowering them down the mountainside, using his body to shield them from enemy fire and debris, according to the White House.

He simultaneously fought the enemy and treated the wounded for several hours, including a teammate who had suffered a traumatic amputation to his right leg, according to the Army. After loading the wounded soldiers into the medevac helicopter, Shurer took control of the remaining team and rejoined the fight.

Shurer was initially awarded the Silver Star, the third-highest award for valor. The award is being upgraded after an extensive In January 2016, the Pentagon ordered the services to conduct a sweeping review of valor medals awarded since the 9/11 terror attacks and directed service leaders to determine whether individual military members were shortchanged in the medals they received.

Shurer joined the Army in 2002 and was deployed with Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan from November 2007 to May 2008. He was honorably discharged in May 2009.

He went on to serve with the Secret Service, working as a special agent assigned to the Phoenix Field Office before being selected for the agency’s Counter Assault Team and assigned to its Special Operations Division. He lives in Burke, Virginia, with his wife and two sons.

Article from the Army Times

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Kurdish General Dies

The Commander of the Golden Division at the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Services (CTS) has died in the Kurdistan Region capital of Erbil due to health complications. Maj. Gen. Fadhil Barwari, the Kurdish commander of the US-trained Golden Division, has passed away due to a heart attack, a source close to his family told Kurdistan 24 on Thursday. His body was transferred to the Department of Forensic Medicine in Erbil. He will then be transferred to his hometown of Duhok for burial.

Born in 1966 in the northern Kurdistan Region city of Duhok, he joined the Peshmerga forces in his late 30s during the resistance against the former Iraqi Ba’ath regime before joining the Iraqi army following the collapse of the dictatorship.

Since 2014, Barwari played a vital role in leading Iraqi forces, particularly in the Golden Division, in the fight against Islamic State (IS) extremists across Iraq.

Brett McGurk, the US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter IS, described the late Kurdish commander as “a legend.” “General Barwari was a heroic fighter and commander in the campaign against IS to whom the world owes a debt of gratitude.”

Article from Kurdistan 24

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Legendary WWII Paratrooper SSG Russell Brown Passes

One of the last legendary WWII soldiers to make four combat jumps into Europe has died. Former Staff Sgt. Russell Brown was one of the legendary paratroopers who made every combat jump during World War II, forever cementing his place in the history of the 82nd Airborne Division. Photo at right is British Infantry soldiers of the 6th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry talking to an American Paratrooper from the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR in Avola, Sicily in July 1943.

Brown passed away Aug. 31 at the age of 96 in Georgetown, Kentucky, according to an obituary. A spokesman for the 82nd Airborne confirmed the Purple Heart recipient had been one of the lauded soldiers who parachuted into Salerno and Sicily, Italy, as well as Normandy, France, and Njimegen, Holland.

His story was featured in “Four Stars of Valor: The Combat History of the 505th Parachute Infantry” and “All American, All the Way: The Combat History of the 82nd Airborne Division,” non-fiction accounts by Phil Nordyke, where he told the story of his time as a mortar squad leader with Brown, who had been a mortar squad leader with F Company.

After the Army, Brown went to work as an explosives technician at DuPont and Co. He is survived by two daughters, 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, according to his obituary. Brown was one of about a dozen soldiers still alive who had made all four jumps. Retired 1st. Sgt. Harold Eatman died in July at the age of 102.

Article from Army Times

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Chaplains Corner September 2018

With Chapter IX's own Chaplain, John Szilvasy, in a rehabilitation center - please say a prayer for Chaplain John - we have enlisted Deane Schultz a retired SFC/E-7 who served in 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) primarily as a Medical Sergeant, and for a long time on a HALO team. Deane currently resides outside of Fort Campbell, where he sends near daily devotionals and lessons contained therein through an e-mail distribution.

Deane is one of the best human beings you'll ever meet, so this month's Chaplain's corner is better served coming from him rather than any of the heathens in Chapter IX hovering around the bar at the VFW.

From Deane: "Here is a powerful video for those interested in how the devil works in messing up our lives, our relationships, and any confident in God we may say that we have."

"By pastor JD Farag - an Arab originally from Lebanon, son of Egyptian father and Palestinian mother. He has an unique perspective on some items many modern pastors don’t delve into – this time he gets into Satan’s schemes in messing with us and his subtleness thereof."

"It...explains some things..."

Deane


Monday, September 10, 2018

Intervierw with CPT Jerry Yellin, World War II Pilot

This is an excellent interview with Captain Jerry Yellin, veteran of World War II, flew combat missions in the P-40, P-47, and P-51 throughout the Pacific theater. Captain Yellin flew the first land-based fighter mission over Japan, and the final combat mission of the war on August 14, 1945.

Interview from 24 March 2017.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Last reunion for famed US WWII unit, Merrill’s Marauders

It’s the last reunion for members of the famed U.S. Army jungle fighters called Merrill’s Marauders. Three thousand volunteered for a dangerous secret mission during World War II — a mission so secret they weren’t told even where they were going. They hacked their way through nearly 1,000 miles (1600 kilometers) of jungle behind enemy lines in Myanmar, then called Burma, fighting in five major and 30 minor actions against veteran Japanese troops. "This is the last of the outfit," said David Allen of Rock Hill, South Carolina.

He's among 13 of the original volunteers still alive. Five are in New Orleans this week, along with three men who joined the unit as replacements or were at its final battle to take an airfield held by the Japanese. With the veterans are more than 90 children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They filled a meeting room Tuesday at a New Orleans hotel, gathering at round tables to reminisce and look at small black-and-white photos, articles about the campaign and their old reunions. Children and other descendants were collecting autographs and listening to memories.

It was the first reunion for Ethan Glen Byrne, 15, of Hamilton, Alabama, and his grandfather Rick Lowe, whose father was a Marauder. Lowe was in his teens when his father, Delbert P. Lowe, died. He began researching Merrill's Marauders several years ago and learned about the reunions. He came because it was the last. "I wanted to honor my dad," he said.

The unit won a Presidential Unit Citation, six Distinguished Service Crosses, four Legions of Merit, 44 Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for every man in the regiment. Their shoulder patch was adopted by the 1st Battalion of the 75th Infantry Ranger Regiment. And their families are pushing a pair of bills to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Merrill's Marauders. A war correspondent created the nickname, after Brig. Gen. Frank Merrill, because the formal name was a mouthful, according to the 2013 history "Merrill's Marauders: The Untold Story of Unit Galahad and the Toughest Special Forces Mission of World War II."

The men of the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) were a thoroughly mixed bag. Some were seasoned jungle fighters. Others were city boys without much service. Still others, some of them joining when the unit was training in India, were like the "Dirty Dozen," leaving the stockade for danger and a pardon. Allen said he was a "college playboy" when he was drafted.

Robert "Bob" Passanisi, 94, of Lindenhurst, New York, said patriotism and family solidarity were his reasons for volunteering. He had two brothers serving in Europe. "I somehow felt that me doing my part would relieve my brothers," he said Tuesday.

Gilbert H. Howland, 95, of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, said he was among 124 volunteers out of 500 gathered in a Puerto Rico stadium. "These guys were my buddies," he said. "I didn't want to be with any strange unit."

Marcos M. Barelas, 96, then a private and a machine-gun operator, was pragmatic: "If I had to go, I may as well go now."

With mules and horses to carry 70-pound (32-kilogram) radios and airdropped supplies, they also had muleskinners and others to care for the animals. Lester Hollenbeck, 96, of Deltona, Florida, shod them. "Mules sometimes were ornery," he said. "We sometimes had to throw 'em down on their side to put shoes on them." He signed autographs Tuesday with a pen made from a 50-caliber bullet.

During the six-month campaign in 1944, malaria, amoebic dysentery and other tropical diseases took down five times as many members as bullets and shrapnel, which wounded 293 and killed 93. When they reached the airfield at Myitkyina (MITCH-ih-nuh), fewer than 500 were in shape to fight. Howland and Passanisi both said they were hospitalized — Howland with shrapnel wounds and Passanisi with malaria — when the Marauders took the airport, but were shipped back with other just-discharged "walking wounded" to help hold it.

The reunions may be over, but not the closeness, said Linda Rose Burchett of Hampton, Virginia. She said her father, who died in 2003, attended every reunion from 1949 through 2003. Burchett and her daughter, Lara Watson, 32, of Rockville, Virginia, also have attended steadily, starting as babies. “These men have seen me grow up,” she said. “They are my family. Absolutely. They were my dad’s family. Absolutely. But through social media now we’re all going to remain connected to honor our fathers.”

Article from the Army Times