Thursday, February 28, 2008

In Memoriam Vice Admiral Earl B. Fowler USN (RET) 1926-2008

This is in memory of Vice Admiral Earl B. Fowler USN (ret) who died at sea on February 8, 2008 while on a 60th wedding anniversary cruise with his beloved wife Helen.

Earl was a distinguished leader who reached the top of his profession in both his military and civilian careers. His service to the defense of this country and his dedication to the cause of freedom are immeasurable. To those of us he left behind, he was many things —Husband --- Father --- Naval Officer --- Businessman --- Patriot --- Navy Leaguer --- Friend. He will be missed dearly and remembered well by all in whom he came in contact.

Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, Earl B. Fowler enlisted in the Navy in 1943. He served sea duty tours aboard USS Leary (DDR- 879), USS Wright (CVL-48), USS Ranger (CV-4) and USS Columbia (CL-56). He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1946 and MIT in 1949 and held degrees in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. He also completed Harvard University’s Advanced Management Program in later career.

He retired from the Navy in 1985 after 42 years of active service. At the pinnacle of his career he served as Commander Naval Sea Systems Command and Chief Engineer of the Navy, responsible for design, development, and procurement of all Navy ships and shipboard weapons systems. This included all Navy shipbuilding and repair, eight Naval Shipyards, all Naval Weapons Stations and the largest procurement office in the world and about one third of the Navy’s budget. He had over 5,000 people in his headquarters and 115,000 in his Command.

Under his watch four battleships were activated, two nuclear carriers were authorized, the first Aegis ships were built and the Arleigh Burke Class destroyers were designed. He was in that job for over five years, the longest tenure on record. Immediately prior, he was Commander Naval Electronic Systems Command, responsible for design, development and procurement of naval communications, radar, surveillance and space systems.

Earlier tours included responsibility for construction of ships to support the Apollo Program, oceanographic research and survey ships, minesweepers and hydrofoils. Also he was responsible for material and engineering assistance to Republic of China serving with the Military Assistance Advisory Group in Taiwan. Additional tours of duty were served in Point Mugu, Pearl Harbor, San Francisco and Charleston. Acknowledged as “a sailor who built ships”, Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, in his book Command of the Seas…Building the 600 Ship Navy cited Vice Admiral Fowler as one of the “blue suiter superstars” in the success of building the 600 ship Navy.

Among his awards, he was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit. After retiring from the Navy, Vice Admiral Fowler served as a Director of five public companies and several private ones, as well as consultant to 25 other companies.

He was CEO of what is now known as Health Net, California, TRE in Los Angeles, Miltope Corporation, Long Island, ANDAC in Arlington VA, and Inteliiworxx in Sarasota. He was Chairman of SPD Technologies, Philadelphia, CEO and founder of FPBSM Industries and founder and owner of Fowler International Group, Arlington VA. Earl served as a Board member of the Sarasota Manatee Council of the Navy League for many years, as Editor of the “Anchor Line” and provided leadership and encouragement for many Navy League events, especially fund raisers where he was often the “idea man” or prime mover. His leadership was essential to establishing the Council’s Charity Endowment and the success of the Vice Admiral Earl B. Fowler Annual Charity Golf Tournament, which is named in his honor.

He was also a member of the Military Officers Association, the Cosmos Club, Army and Navy Country Club, Sons of the American Revolution, Misty Creek Country Club of Sarasota, the New York Yacht Club, and Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota.

The Sarasota Manatee Council shares in the grief of his wife Helen and their two daughters, Mary and Joan, and offers its heartfelt condolences.

As friends and associates who knew and loved him, we will not forget his great leadership and many contributions and will miss him dearly. We commend him to the Almighty.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Newly Discovered Army Reports Discredit “Winter Soldier” Claims

By Scott Swett | Monday, February 25, 2008

From March 13-16, 2008, members of the antiwar group Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) will gather in Washington, DC to “testify” against the US military at a protest event called Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan. The name “Winter Soldier” is taken from the infamous 1971 event at which members of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) related gruesome stories of crimes they claimed to have participated in or witnessed. The VVAW insisted that rape, torture and murder were standard practices for the US military in Vietnam. Organizers of the new IVAW tribunal, which is supported by several former VVAW leaders, say the 1971 conference was where “a courageous group of veterans exposed the criminal nature of the Vietnam War.” In reality, it was part of a sophisticated, vicious propaganda effort designed to poison public opinion against the US military. Newly discovered records now reveal what happened when Army investigators asked VVAW activists for evidence of the hundreds of crimes they claimed to have seen.

In our book, To Set The Record Straight: How Swift Boat Veterans, POWs and the New Media Defeated John Kerry, Tim Ziegler and I trace the course of the anti-US war crimes propaganda campaign, which began in Europe with KGB-sponsored events that were organized before the first US ground troops ever arrived in Vietnam. In 1969, leaders of those conferences helped American radicals form the “Citizens Commission of Inquiry into US War Crimes in Indochina” (CCI), which set up a series of so-called investigations where US military actions in Vietnam were compared to those of Nazi Germany during World War II. The CCI soon joined forces with the VVAW, another leftist group created with financing and assistance from members of the Communist Party, USA, the Socialist Workers Party and the communist front Veterans for Peace.

The VVAW’s Winter Soldier Investigation (WSI) took place in Detroit from Jan. 31 through Feb. 2, 1971. Financed primarily by pro-Hanoi actress Jane Fonda, the event’s honorary national coordinator, WSI was the largest war crimes tribunal held in the US during the Vietnam War. Several of the discussion panel moderators were radical leaders who had previously met with top North Vietnamese and Vietcong representatives in Hanoi and Paris. Also present were leftist psychiatrists, psychoanalysts and clinicians, who pressured the witnesses to help end the war by publicly confessing their “crimes.” Former VVAW member Steve Pitkin later recalled how the civilians went from man to man, “bombarding them; laying on the guilt.” Pitkin signed an affidavit in 2004 charging that John Kerry and other VVAW leaders had coerced him into making a false statement.

WSI was the source of the allegations John Kerry presented to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in April 1971, at a hearing set up by antiwar Senators to showcase the VVAW’s atrocity tales. The highly publicized appearance launched Kerry’s political career and helped to create a lasting image of Vietnam veterans as drugged-out murderers too damaged to function in normal society. Justice was served in 2004 when a political movement led by some of the veterans John Kerry had defamed sank his presidential bid.

Investigating the winter soldiers

In 2005, I visited the National Archives at College Park, Maryland with Vietnam veteran and researcher John Boyle. Sifting through the limited material available, we found summary data for the WSI allegations the Army had investigated. The Army’s Criminal Investigative Division (CID) had opened cases for 43 WSI “witnesses” whose claims, if true, would qualify as crimes. An additional 25 Army WSI participants had criticized the military in general terms, without sufficient substance to warrant any investigation.

The 43 WSI CID cases were eventually resolved as follows: 25 WSI participants refused to cooperate, 13 provided information but failed to support the allegations, and five could not be located. No criminal charges were filed as a result of any of the investigations. The individual CID case files, which had been available to the public beginning in 1994, were withdrawn from public access around 2003, when the National Archives realized that the documents should have been embargoed until the personal information they contained could be removed, or “redacted,” as required by the Privacy Act of 1974.

Early in 2007, Boyle learned that a historian had copied the entire collection of CID war crime investigation summaries at the National Archives, including those involving the VVAW, while they were still publicly available. The historian permitted Boyle to photocopy these documents, which we have now posted at

Army CID Investigations of VVAW War Crimes Allegations

The CID summary reports are revealing. Most of the WSI participants refused to provide evidence to support their allegations. Some made statements that were contradicted by other witnesses, were discredited, or were not substantiated by subsequent investigation.

Several of the VVAW activists backtracked significantly on their WSI statements:

· Douglas Craig claimed at WSI that members of his battalion had fired mortar rounds each night into a local dump, intentionally killing civilians who were scavenging for food. Craig told investigators he had no direct knowledge of these events and expressed misgivings about making allegations in Detroit he could not substantiate.

· Larry Craig claimed at WSI that he watched US soldiers murder a Vietnamese civilian and, on another occasion, desecrate Vietnamese graves. Craig admitted to investigators that the man who was killed could have been Vietcong, and that the soldier allegedly digging in a cemetery could have been looking for weapons caches.

· Donald Donner claimed at WSI that Army personnel had murdered a Vietnamese male, intentionally wounded a 14-year-old Vietnamese girl, indiscriminately slaughtered livestock and failed to bury enemy dead. Donner admitted to the CID that his stories were actually lies, rumors and accounts of accidental events.

· John Lytle claimed at WSI that his unit murdered civilians by destroying villages with artillery fire without making any effort to determine who was there. However, Lytle told the CID that the villages were actually fired on because it was suspected that Vietcong occupied them and incoming fire had been received from the area.

· Robert McConnachie claimed at WSI that Army troops in a convoy threw C-ration cans at Vietnamese children with such force as to kill one or two. He also said an artillery unit had intentionally shelled a hospital and killed civilians. McConnachie backtracked when questioned by military investigators, saying that no Vietnamese children were actually killed by troops throwing C-rations. He said he now believed that the alleged killing of civilians in a hospital by artillery fire was accidental.

· Ronald Palosaari claimed at WSI that Army troops killed two children and an old lady by throwing a grenade into a bunker next to a house. He also said he saw a Vietnamese soldier cut off the ear of a NVA soldier who had just been killed. Interviewed by Army investigators, Palosaari was unable to provide specific dates, locations or the names of any individuals involved in the alleged grenade incident. He admitted that he did not actually witness the mutilation of any enemy dead.

· Donald Pugsley claimed at WSI that a helicopter gunship strafed and killed water buffalo. He admitted to investigators that no water buffalo were actually fired upon.

· Kenneth Ruth claimed at WSI to have witnessed the torture of Vietcong suspects, and told Life Magazine that he saw troops test fire weapons into a village, wounding 43 civilians. However, Ruth admitted to Army investigators that he had no personal knowledge of such an event. The CID found his torture claims unsubstantiated.

· George Smith claimed at WSI that members of his Special Forces unit had beaten enemy prisoners and placed them in small barbed-wire cages. Smith backtracked on these claims when interviewed by Army investigators, saying that the alleged acts were actually committed by South Vietnamese forces rather than American troops.

· David Stark claimed at WSI that hundreds of Vietnamese civilians were killed by indiscriminate bombing and strafing in the Saigon area during late 1968. He also claimed to have witnessed the maltreatment of prisoners. However, Stark told CID interviewers that he actually saw no bodies, was unable to identify the aircraft or military units involved in the attacks or the cleanup operation, and admitted that he had never witnessed maltreatment of prisoners, except for a single occasion when he said he saw a prisoner pushed and shoved by two South Vietnamese officers.

The only Army witness to appear at WSI whose allegations have been substantiated was James Henry. Military authorities closed Henry’s case, which had already been under review for nearly a year by the time of WSI, after “an extensive investigation did not reveal sufficient evidence to prove or disprove Mr. Henry’s allegations.” However, the CID also opened a supplemental investigation into whether a group of civilians had been killed by US troops. The results of that investigation indicate that crimes were probably committed, but no documentation of any prosecutions has been found or reported.

The Naval Investigative Service (NIS) was ordered to investigate charges made at WSI by VVAW members representing themselves as veterans of the Navy or Marines. Their reports have not been located, and it is uncertain whether they were destroyed or are lost in the vast government archives system. Historian Guenter Lewy cited a summary report by NIS in his 1978 book America in Vietnam, noting that many participants refused to provide evidence to Navy investigators, and others backtracked on their stories – the same pattern found in the newly discovered Army CID documents. Lewy also reported that several veterans told the NIS in sworn statements corroborated by witnesses that they had not been in Detroit – i.e., the VVAW activists who used their names were imposters.

It is unfortunate that the military didn’t simply release the results of the investigations as they were completed. America’s Vietnam veterans might have been spared several decades of public distrust and contempt stimulated by the leftist “baby-killer” agitprop. Unfortunately, US military leaders during the Vietnam era failed to understand that home-front psychological warfare operations pose at least as great a threat to the military’s ability to successfully complete its mission as enemy operations in the field.

The (not so) new winter soldiers

Among the VVAW retreads supporting the IVAW’s new propaganda campaign is Joe Bangert, a former Marine mechanic who claimed at WSI that he had watched while his fellow Americans casually gunned down Vietnamese children and murdered and skinned a Vietnamese woman. Bangert, a fervent supporter of America’s wartime enemies, met in 1971 with North Vietnamese and Vietcong delegations in Paris, where he proudly sang “We Will Liberate the South,” and the “Ballad of Uncle Ho” for his hosts. He later moved to join his comrades in communist Vietnam, where he lived for several years.

Members of the military with actual knowledge of crimes committed by US troops in Iraq or Afghanistan have a legal and moral obligation to report them to military authorities. The activists who will claim in Washington that they saw or participated in such crimes presumably failed to do this. What are we to make of “witnesses” who ignore crimes while in the field, but later make allegations in a venue designed to smear the military and its mission? Add the near-certainty that the charges themselves will be vague, lacking the specific details and supporting evidence that real investigations require. Perhaps this time we should assume that the troops who defend us are innocent when they are accused of unsubstantiated “crimes” by a radical movement with a long history of deceit.

In light of the new CID documents, will John Kerry admit that the war crime allegations he presented to the Senate in 1971 were largely fictitious? When the Winter Soldier documentary is shown to college students, will liberal professors now point out that it has been thoroughly discredited? Will the Washington Post reconsider its credulous 2005 film review? Can we expect the new discovery to be reported accurately on Wikipedia’s leftist-controlled Winter Soldier page? Will the IVAW radicals currently preparing their own attack on the US military be embarrassed to learn that they are emulating a fraud?

Not a chance. WSI was always about perceptions; never reality. America’s detractors will peddle the VVAW’s grisly myths for as long as people are willing to believe them.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

When Veterans Retire

When a good Military Veteran leaves the "job" and retires to a better life, many are jealous, some are pleased and yet others, who may have already retired, wonder. We wonder if he knows what they are leaving behind, because we already know. We know, for example, that after a lifetime of
camaraderie that few experience, it will remain as a longing for those past times. We know that in the Military life there is a fellowship which lasts long after the uniforms are hung up in the back of the closet. We know even if he throws them away, they will be on him with every step and breath that remains in his life. We also know how the very bearing of the man speaks of what he was and in his heart still is.

These are the burdens of the job. You will still look at people suspiciously, still see what others do not see or choose to ignore and always will look at the rest of the Military world with a respect for what they do; only grown in a lifetime of knowing. Never think for one moment you are escaping from that life. You are only escaping the "job" and merely being allowed to leave "active" duty.

So what I wish for you is that whenever you ease into retirement, in your heart you never forget for one moment that "Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called children of God," and you are still a member of the greatest fraternity the world has ever known.

Civilian Friends vs. Veteran Friends
CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Get upset if you're too busy to talk to them for a week.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Are glad to see you after years, and will happily carry on
the same conversation you were having the last time you met.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Have never seen you cry.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Have cried with you.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Borrow your stuff for a few days then give it back.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Keep your stuff so long they forget it's yours.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Know a few things about you.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Could write a book with direct quotes from you.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will leave you behind if that's what the crowd is doing.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Will kick the butt of the crowd that left you behind.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Are for a while.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Are for life.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Have shared a few experiences...
VETERAN FRIENDS: Have shared a lifetime of experiences no citizen could ever dream of...

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will take your drink away when they think you've had enough.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Will look at you stumbling all over the place and say, "You better drink the rest of that before you spill it!!" Then carry you home safely and put you to bed...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

February 19th is the Sarasota County Veterans Commission's birthday.

The Sarasota County Veterans Commission celebrates its birthday today. We were established on February 19, 1945 by the State of Florida and the Sarasota County Commission. We are now sixty-three years old.

Also on this date the Marines invaded Iwo Jima.

Happy Birthday to both of us!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Buchanan Pro-Vets Provisions Become Law

Washington, D.C -- Congressman Vern Buchanan’s proposals to improve small business assistance programs for veterans were signed into law by President Bush this week. The president signed the “Military Reservist and Veteran Small Business Reauthorization Act” (H.R. 4253) on Thursday. The bill includes language from Buchanan’s “SBA Veterans’ Programs Act of 2007” (H.R. 2366), which as passed by the House in June of 2007 to provide greater resources and training to veterans hoping to become business entrepreneurs.

“Like my bill, this law will help veterans make an important transition from soldier to small business owner,” said Buchanan. “As a blue collar kid who became a successful businessman, I have lived the American dream. I want veterans who have sacrificed on our behalf to have the same opportunity. By providing veterans with grants, information services, and contact with professionals in their chosen field, these programs will help them become entrepreneurs in their own right.”

The military reservist and veteran small business reauthorization bill, which first passed the House in December of 2007 and signed today, includes provisions from Buchanan’s bill to provide veterans with the market research, financial options, and technological training important to becoming a successful small business owner. Both bills would not only expand the number and scope of Veteran Outreach Centers, they would ensure the opening of more doors and opportunities for our women veterans.

Buchanan is a member of both the House Small Business Committee and the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and Representative Adam Hasner stand up to CAIR

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) met with Attorney General Bill McCollum to protest his showing of the documentary "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" to all of his 500 employees.

CAIR demanded that AG McCollum repudiate the film Obsession and stop showing it, let CAIR "re-educate" those staff who saw Obsession, and let CAIR be part of an advisory group that can help law enforcement work with Muslims.

AG McCollum categorically rejected the first two requests and accepted the third with conditions.

According to Central Florida News 13, "The [CAIR] leaders complained the [Attorney] general has given what they call a prejudicial movie more play. State House majority leader Adam Hasner said that was exactly the point.

In April 2007, Hasner held a widely-attended viewing party of his own in a Tallahassee theater.

"It starts off by saying, 'This is not a movie about all Muslims.' It's a movie about radical Islam, and so I think it's very clear it's not propaganda, and I think the groups that are making this an issue are really showing themselves to be sympathizers with radical Islam," Hasner said.

In spite of it all, McCollum said he had no regrets. Far from hosting what critics call a propaganda movie hour, he argued it was directly connected to state business.

"It's the only film that I'm likely to show like that, but if another one comes along, we'll show it," McCollum said.

We are proud of the positions taken by our Florida political leadership on the showing of a documentary that presents a true and accurate picture of the evil posed to the world by radical Islam. Just read the stories or watch TV and you will see daily examples of radical Muslims killing innocent men, women and children.

In a comprehensive article by the CAIR was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. The Washington Times reports that since 2000 CAIR’s membership has dropped from 29,000 to 1,700. American Muslims have effectively rejected CAIR’s bid to be their leader. This speaks well for the American Muslim community and its readiness to distance itself from those linked to terrorism.

Legislative Update from Lee F. Kichen, LTC, U.S. Army (Ret.)


Federal Legislative Update

Congress Comes Back to a Full Plate-Members of Congress come back to Washington after the holiday break to a heavy work load. Veterans, military retirees and their families have much at stake between now and the election. The veterans service organizations and the military associations have made their priorities clear through testimony before Congressional committees and letters to the Hill leadership. Much of January was devoted to cleaning up some of the left over work from the 1st Session of The 110th Congress. February saw the enactment of an economic stimulus package and the President sending his budget message to The Congress both of which will impact the veteran’s community.

Bush Signs FY 2008 Defense Authorization Act-In this space last month, we reported that the President vetoed this bill due to the administration’s concern over a provision that would have allowed lawsuits against the assets of Iraq for the crimes of Saddam Hussein. The veto reflected the President's strong belief that the current Iraq government desperately needs all of its assets to build a stable government and shouldn't be held responsible for the crimes of the previous regime. Shortly after The Congress returned it cleaned up the bill and sent it to the President who signed it immediately. In December and January, we provided a detailed lay down on the provisions of this bill. One provision we have been following closely is the implementation of Combat Related Special Compensation for medical retirees with less than 20 years of service. According to our contacts in DC, the military services are waiting on DoD to complete the implementing instructions.

President Bush Signs Provision Providing Additional Funding to VA-In January, President Bush signed an emergency funding bill which provides VA an additional $3.7B. This additional funding plus the $2.9B increase in the VA appropriation provides the federal government’s second largest department a $6.6B increase over last year’s funding levels.

White House Sends Budget Proposal to the Congress-Before the ink was dry on the VA emergency appropriation, VA Secretary LTG (R) James Peake, former Army Surgeon General, presented the administration’s $94 billion blueprint for FY2009 VA funding at a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on February 7. The White House is requesting $41.2 billion for health care, $2.3 billion more than this year's amount. Peake said the budget would provide care to nearly 5.8 million veterans, including over 330,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The budget includes $3.9 billion to improve access to mental health care services; $1.5 billion for prosthetic equipment and sensory aids; and $762 billion to improve long-term care services for aging veterans.

Secretary Peake said this would "virtually eliminate" excessive medical appointment delays by the end of the year vs. 250,000 delays in April 2006 and 69,000 as of last month. He said this would be accomplished in part by fielding 64 new outpatient clinics this year and 51 in 2009, for a total of 846 nationwide.

The VA also plans to hire more claims workers and upgrade information technology to streamline paper-based claims procedures. If this works -- and other plans have foundered in recent years -- the VA hopes to reduce processing time to 145 days and improve accuracy of decisions to over 90% by the end of 2009. From the author’s perspective as a Veterans Service Officer, those goals may be the moral equivalent of “A Bridge to Far”.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars considers this budget blue-print to be a good start. We are concerned about the proposed $38 million reduction for medical research. These reductions will limit research on injuries and exposures of wounded warriors and substance abuse, and impose a 15% cut in mental health research. These cuts are unacceptable during a time of war and especially in light of current needs for wounded warrior care and rehabilitation.

Once again the administration is proposing enrollment fees of $250 to $750 annually for health care and a hike in pharmacy fees from $8 to $15 for Priority 7 and 8 non-service connected veterans. This proposal has been considered dead on arrival by previous Congresses and we urge this Congress to once again write the death certificate on this ill-conceived idea.

Administration Attempting to Increase the Cost of “Free” Retiree Healthcare-The Department of Defense is again proposing large increases in TRICARE fees that will force military retirees to assume more of the cost for the so-called free health care promised them if they stayed in uniform for twenty or more years. Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Ike Skelton (D-MO), attacked the department’s proposal to increase health care fees for retirees under age 65. The proposal closely tracks the recommendations of the DoD Task Force on the Future of Military Health Care, except that it does not propose an enrollment fee for TRICARE for Life. Recently, I had an opportunity to discuss this matter with Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) who assured me that the House will not favorably consider this proposal. Regardless of what these powerful players tell us now, we need to keep the heat on them.

Economic Stimulus Package-Will provide some rebates to disabled veterans who have no taxable income. We expect the checks to be in the amount of $300.00, however, at this writing we don’t know who will receive those checks. As soon as this information becomes available, we will pass it on.

GI Bill-Reforming the education benefits for veterans is the center piece of the VFW’s legislative program for 2008. Just as in 1944 when Congress enacted the first GI Bill of Rights for returning World War II, a GI Bill for the 21st Century would be an economic stimulus which could drive the American economy for the next fifty years. The World War II educational package resulted in higher national productivity, consumer revenue and tax revenue. Every dollar spent on veteran’s education in the late 1940s and early 1950s added seven dollars to the national economy. The Congressional Research Service estimates that the World War II GI bill was an economic engine that resulted in a $5-$12 increase in tax revenue for every $1 spent on sending a veteran to college. The Veterans of Foreign Wars urges its members to contact their Senators and ask them to support S. 22 and their members of the House of Representatives and ask them to work to pass H.R. 2702 which dramatically increases veterans education benefits.

Sarasota Congressman Agrees to Cosponsor the Reserve Retirement Bill Introduced: The Veterans of Foreign Wars was extremely disappointed that the National Defense Authorization Act didn’t contain language making reforms to the Reserve Component Retirement System retroactive to 9-11. After learning that Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-FL 13) agreed to sponsor H.R. 4930, Jack McDermott, State Commander of Florida’s Veterans of Foreign Wars issued the followed statement: “I am incredibly gratified that Mr. Buchanan is an early cosponsor of this important bill which if enacted into law will significantly modernize the Reserve Component retirement system. Under the current system, a member of the National Guard or reserves is not eligible to receive retirement until he or she reaches age 60. Recently enacted legislation reduces the age at which a Reservist can draw retired pay below the age of 60 by 3 months for every aggregate 90 days of active service in support of a contingency operation. However, the Congress failed to make this provision retroactive to 9-11. H.R. 4930 addresses this injustice by making the changes to the system retroactive to the beginning of the war on terrorism. This is clearly the right thing to do for the over 600,000 reservists and members of the National Guard who have been mobilized in support of the war on terrorism.” Buchanan joins his Congressional colleagues, Jeff Miller (R-FL1) and C. W. Bill Young (R-FL10) in sponsoring this bill. We urge all members of the Florida congressional delegation to join Messrs. Buchanan, Miller and Young in working towards the passage of this important legislation.


State Legislative Update

VFW State Legislative Priority Gains House Sponsor-State Representative Bill Proctor introduced H.B. 687 which if enacted into law will grant Disabled Veteran owned businesses priorities on contracts with state government. We truly appreciate Mr. Proctor’s leadership in the effort to assist entrepreneurial veterans in growing their businesses. We urge all veterans and their family members to contract their members of the Florida House of Representatives and urge them to cosponsor this important bill.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

WW II Trivia

The following comes from Col D. G. Swinford, USMC, Ret, and history buff.

1. The first German serviceman killed in WW2 was killed by the Japanese ( China, 1937), the first American serviceman killed was killed by the Russians ( Finland, 1940); highest ranking American killed was Lt Gen Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps. So much for allies.

2. The youngest US serviceman was 12 year old Calvin Graham, USN. He was wounded and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age. His benefits were later restored by act of Congress.

3. At the time of Pearl Harbor , the top US Navy command was called CINCUS (pronounced "sink us"),the shoulder patch of the US Army's 45th Infantry division was the Swastika, and Hitler's private train was named "Amerika." All three were soon changed for PR purposes.

More US servicemen died in the Air Corps than the Marine Corps. While completing the required 30 missions, your chance of being killed was 71%.

5. Generally speaking, there was no such thing as an average fighter pilot. You were either an ace or a target.
For instance, Japanese Ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa shot down over 80 planes. He died while a passenger on a cargo plane.

6. It was a common practice on fighter planes to load every 5th round with a tracer round to aid in aiming.
This was a mistake. Tracers had different ballistics so (at long range) if your tracers were hitting the target 80% of your rounds were missing. Worse yet tracers instantly told your enemy he was under fire and from which direction. Worst of all was the practice of loading a string of tracers at the end of the belt to tell you that you were out of ammo. This was definitely not something you wanted to tell the enemy. Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate nearly double and their loss rate go down.

. When allied armies reached the Rhine , the first thing men did was pee in it. This was pretty universal from the lowest private to Winston Churchill (who made a big show of it) and Gen. Patton (who had himself photographed in the act).

8. German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City, but it wasn't worth the effort.

German submarine U-120 was sunk by a malfunctioning toilet.

10. Among the first "Germans" captured at Normandy were several Koreans. They had been forced to fight for the Japanese Army until they were captured by the Russians, and forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured by the Germans, and forced to fight for the German Army until they were captured by the US Army.


11. Following a massive naval bombardment, 35,000 United States and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands. 21 troops were killed in the firefight. It would have been worse if there had been any Japanese on the island.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Good news from Iraq - February 12, 2008

Top generals in Baghdad hold joint press conference

BAGHDAD - The top-ranking Iraqi general in Baghdad stood side-by-side with the commander of the 4th Infantry Division and Multi-National Division - Baghdad to answer questions for Iraqi and western media during a joint press conference at the media center here.

Iraqi Gen. Abud Qanbar Hashim, commander, Baghdad Operations Command, and Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, a Hattiesburg, Miss., native, who is the Commanding general of the 4th Inf. Div. and MND-B, responded to queries regarding topics such as current trends in terrorist attacks and recent violence against the Iraqi population. The primary mission of both Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces is to protect the people of Iraq, said Hammond. While al-Qaeda is a determined enemy, CF and ISF remain even more determined to keep violence in the area down. "We will continue to extend our presence across Baghdad and maintain constant pressure upon the enemy," Hammond said.

The Iraqi army plans to keep expanding by adding more units, said Abud. "Terrorism cannot be solved only by an increase in military forces," said Abud. "The only hope is by increased intelligence. Iraqi Security Forces have taken the initiative in attacking al-Qaeda - not vice versa." Both leaders reiterated that they are part of one team fighting against a common enemy, united to protect the population and wipe out the threat of terrorism as the nation of Iraq rebuilds itself as an independent, self-sufficient democracy.

MND-B Soldiers bring gifts to village school children

BAYRK, Iraq - Making a positive impact on the lives of Iraqis, no matter how small, is a big part of current operations by Coalition Forces in the Fahama region. Soldiers with the 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad, made an impact by bringing presents to school children in Bayrk, a rural village in Fahama. Upon arriving at the school, the Soldiers passed out backpacks, pencils and stuffed animals to the eager children who swarmed around them.

Pfc. Dennis Romans, helped hand out the treats to the children, which he said reminded him of giving presents to his own three children. "I just like seeing them smile". "We try to bring out snacks and toys and sometimes pens," Romans said. "We're in an area where the kids don't have access to the things they need. I think they truly appreciate it." Soldiers wrapped up the gift-giving mission to Bayrk by searching for more ways to help the people.

Iraqi Security Forces, U.S. Special Forces detain 2 terror suspects, kill 3 terrorists in separate operations

BALAD, Iraq - Iraqi Security Forces, advised by U.S. Special Forces, detained two terror suspects and killed three terrorists in separate operations. In the village of Mashraf, Iraqi and U.S. Forces detained two members of an al-Qaeda in Iraq cell. Near the city of Tal Afar, an Iraqi Special Weapons and Tactics Team, together with U.S. Special Forces, conducted an operation to detain two suspected terrorist cell leaders. During the course of the operation, the assault force came under small-arms fire. The assault force returned fire, killing three terrorists.

Multi-National Corps - Iraq

Sunday, February 3, 2008

We won militarily in Vietnam - the media and Congress lost the war

This is a great article written on the 40th anniversary of the Tet Offensive. I was a young 2nd Lieutenant with the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam during Tet of 1968. My battalion took the West wall of Hue and went on to search for and destroy the remnants of the NVA and Viet Cong. We won a great military victory! America lost the war because of the media and Congress. Let us make sure this never happens again.

February 03, 2008 Forty Years of the Tet Offensive - By David Warren

Breaking the negotiated annual truce, for surprise, Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regulars launched the Tet Offensive, in the night of 30/31 January 1968, named for the Vietnamese lunar new year. This campaign continued in various forms through September of that year, ending in total military defeat, for the aggressors. And a brilliant propaganda victory, for the same.

Thinking back on the Vietnam War this last week. And while I was doing so, a young leftist friend wrote to me, on an entirely unrelated topic, taunting with a remark about 2008 being, “The last year of the American Empire” -- as if it started and ended with George W. Bush. He does not seem interested in the question: By whose Empire will that vacuum be filled?

My friend does not even think of himself as a leftist, only as a person with an “open mind.” We agree on that, but define “open” differently, for to my mind, a skull without a brain inside is completely open. The more brain, or more precisely, the more brain used, the more resistance it can offer to the importation of nonsense.

Forty years have now gone by, which one might figuratively characterize as the forty years of the Tet Offensive, against Western Civ. The West has done fairly well in the field: we have still not lost a purely military encounter with any of the enemies of the West. Going back farther, the French didn't even lose their battles in Algeria. Rather, Charles de Gaulle decided they were not worth fighting.

The Tet Offensive was a desperate ploy by the Communist enemy in Vietnam. Tens of thousands of his troops were flung simultaneously at more than 100 South Vietnamese towns, and into the heart of Saigon. The Communists announced a general uprising, but that did not occur. The tide was actually turned within a few days by the U.S. and South Vietnamese armies. As they re-took town after town, they discovered massacres the Communists had committed while in possession. The enemy's real object had been to decapitate a whole society.

My friend, Uwe Siemon-Netto, a German Lutheran pastor and also life-long journalist, was there as a reporter. Entering Hué as the smoke was clearing: “I made my way to university apartments to obtain news about friends of mine, German professors at the medical school. I learned that their names had been on lists containing some 1,800 Hué residents singled out for liquidation.

“Six weeks later the bodies of doctors Alois Altekoester, Raimund Discher, Horst-Guenther Krainick, and Krainick's wife, Elisabeth, were found in shallow graves they had been made to dig for themselves.

“Then, enormous mass graves of women and children were found. Most had been clubbed to death, some buried alive; you could tell from the beautifully manicured hands of women who had tried to claw out of their burial place.

“As we stood at one such site, Washington Post correspondent Peter Braestrup asked an American TV cameraman, 'Why don't you film this?' He answered, 'I am not here to spread anti-communist propaganda'.”

The Tet Offensive ended not only in a huge allied victory in the field -- some 45,000 of the Communist soldiers had been killed, and their infrastructure destroyed. It was victory after an event that showed sceptical South Vietnamese, and should have shown the world, the nature of the enemy our allies were fighting.

Walter Cronkite, the famous news anchor of CBS, led the American media reaction. After a very brief visit to Saigon, in which he got himself filmed wearing flak jackets, he returned to the United States, declaring before his huge prime time audience:

“It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honourable people who have lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could."

The media turned a tremendous victory into a tremendous defeat. Yet seven more years would pass until an America, which had by then abandoned Vietnam, and a Congress, which had cut off military supplies to the South Vietnamese, watched the helicopters removing America's last faithful servants from a roof in Saigon's old embassy compound. The South Vietnamese Army had surrendered, to another Tet Offensive, as it ran out of ammunition.

We have seen this “Vietnam syndrome” writ large, through the intervening years. We see it today in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Romans, too, had a facility for winning ground battles.