Real (dead) ghosts

I’m stealing inspiration from my good friend Karen Spears Zacharias and writing about ghosts today. Be sure to read what she has to say, too. Karen is full of good ideas.

Like Karen, I believe in ghosts. I don’t believe in werewolves, zombies, monsters, and certainly not in vampires, but I do believe in ghosts.

I’ve written before about the spirit world encounters I’ve had with my father since he died three years ago. Most notably, the doorbell we installed (and later uninstalled) for him so that he could notify my mother and I when he needed help in his last days. The doorbell still has a tendency to go off from time to time in my mother’s house. It doesn’t happen as much as it used to, I guess Dad’s got better things to do now, but we do still hear it on occasion. The last time I heard it was in May when I was back in Nashville to attend my niece Caitlin’s wedding. Caitlin is the first of Mom and Dad’s grandkids to get married and it was a big day for all of us. Dad would have loved it. My sister Laura and I were getting ready at Mom’s house when the bell went off, then went off again, and again. No one had heard it in months but we all agreed that it was Dad sharing in our wedding day excitement.

Another encounter came years earlier. My grandmother died after a long battle with cancer. We all knew her time was coming and I was expecting a call to say that she had passed. One morning I was out for a run, it was February and chilly, a gray, rainy day. Midway through my run I began to crave silence and took off my headphones. Then I stopped in my steps. I knew without being told that she was gone. I walked back home and found a black cat — no kidding — sitting on our porch. I’d been inside the house for about 15 minutes when my phone rang, it was my dad calling to tell me that my grandmother had died.

My husband and I flew to Nashville for her funeral, and though expected, the occasion that was sad nonetheless. We all had loved her mightily. The family gathered the night before at the visitation and we all stayed late to share memories and cry. The next morning my husband and I were awakened early by another call from my father. This time he had called to tell us that my aunt, his sister, had also died. She’d suffered from lupus and other health problems and her mother’s death had apparently been too much for her weakened heart to take. She had died in her sleep. As soon as we’d finished with my grandmother’s service we began to plan my aunt’s. My husband had to get back to work, though, and caught a flight back to Fayetteville on the day of my grandmother’s service. He called me as soon as he got home — the very day my aunt had died — to tell me that the black cat was again on our porch.

There were other encounters, too. The house we lived in then was a beautiful, old house, built around 1920. Many times when I was alone in the house I would catch a glimpse of something brown and yellow darting past. In time I became convinced that I was seeing an image of a young black boy, perhaps 10 or 11 years old, wearing a yellow t-shirt. I even had the newspaper’s research librarian look for old stories of a tragedy or crime that might have happened in the house but she found nothing. Another time my husband and I came home to that house late, around midnight, and as we pulled up in front we both saw — for the briefest of seconds — someone hanging on the porch from a noose.

In that same house my husband was awakened one night by a woman in a long white gown who slapped him across the face and then disappeared. I never saw her, but he was adamant and I believe him. And then we bought two old rifles from a gun show — a German mauser and a Polish mauser. My cousin came to visit us around that time and woke one morning to tell us about the strangest dream she’d had about two soldiers who had been in our kitchen arguing. She described the uniforms of the Germans and the Poles perfectly. And this was my Homecoming Queen cousin — she’s no history buff.

Other weird things happened in that house — pictures fell off the walls for no reasons. Doors slammed without explanation. We loved that beautiful house, but were kind of relieved to leave it, even though we moved only one door down. We haven’t had any ghostly experiences in our present home, even though it is just next door, leading us to think that maybe there was some dark history in the old house after all.

I do believe in ghosts, but I’m not afraid of them. I think they’re just spirits that are — for lack of a better word — stuck. For whatever reason, good or bad, they just aren’t ready to leave Earth, so they hang around to watch, encourage, celebrate with, and sometimes to frighten us. Just like living people, some are nice and some are not so nice but all can only hold as much power over us as we allow them to have.

Fayetteville-area volunteers needed

In case you hadn’t heard, Fayetteville is planning a HUGE, 10-day recognition of Vietnam veterans from Nov. 4 – 13. It’s called Heroes Homecoming and more than 60 events (concerts, films, lectures, demonstrations, displays, etc.) will be part of program, including a big parade downtown. Sixty events require a lot of planning and a lot of work to pull off. Here’s how you can volunteer:


      The Army’s Army, the go-to organization in Fayetteville for supporting the military, veterans and their families, is stepping forward to recruit additional volunteer participation in order to ensure Vietnam vets get the long overdue homecoming and personal attention they deserve.

“Fayetteville is a model community when it comes to our support for the military, veterans and their families,” said Army’s Army Executive Director Janine West. “We want to encourage everyone to get involved in Heroes Homecoming by volunteering at one of the many events taking place here leading up to Veterans Day.”

Heroes Homecoming, the largest commemoration of its kind, is a 10-day celebration giving Vietnam vets the welcome home they deserve but never received. Home to the largest military installation in the country and to Fort Bragg, where more than 200,000 troops trained before being deployed to Vietnam, there is no better place to host this event than in Fayetteville. All Heroes Homecoming events recognize the service and sacrifice of veterans, ranging from concerts and parades, to lectures and movie screenings, to cultural celebrations and recognition ceremonies.

One of the larger events taking place during Heroes Homecoming is the first ever Heroes Crusade sporting tournament. The three-day tournament, which will kick off Heroes Homecoming from November 4-6, will consist of a rugby tournament, golf tournament, and run/walk/bike. Proceeds will benefit three military charities: Wounded Warrior Project, Green Beret Foundation and RDU AMBUCS. It’s unlike any other sporting event out there in that elite athletes and wounded warriors will compete side-by-side, all in the name of honoring wounded servicemen and servicewomen.

“We’ve already gotten a great response from our members and partners that plan on volunteering, but we need more to make sure we can give our Vietnam vets the ‘welcome home’ they deserve,” added West.

The Army’s Army, established in 2008, is the world’s only non-profit volunteer organization of citizens and businesses who have pledged their moral, physical and spiritual support to those in the military. The Army’s Army is closely involved with several of the community’s largest military events, including 31 Day Salute and Ft. Bragg MWR’s Operation Celebrate Freedom. It was recently recognized by ABC as a leading military support organization as a result of its involvement with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition when the reality television show came to town this past summer to build a new home for a military family. Just like with these events, the Army’s Army plans to throw its full support behind Heroes Homecoming.

To learn more about available volunteer opportunities for Heroes Homecoming, contact Kaki Vansickle at or (910) 822-4501. For Heroes Crusade, contact Janine West at or (910) 709-9671.

Heroes Homecoming is held in partnership with the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and is being presented by WRAL-TV. For more information on Heroes Homecoming, visit

About The Army’s Army:
Fayetteville/Cumberland County is America’s first sanctuary community for the Military and their Families. The Army’s Army is the world’s only volunteer organization of citizens and businesses who have pledged their moral, physical and spiritual support to those in the military. We do everything we can to make soldiers and their families feel welcome, appreciated and safe. The Army’s Army is dedicated to “watching over those who watch over us©.” For additional information, visit

Free food & stuff on Veterans Day – you earned it!

If a tree falls in the woods and no one sees or hears it, did it really fall?  I’ve always thought that was a dumb question. The tree fell. Period. It happened. Just go with it. That’s like asking if a restaurant offers a bunch of free meals to troops and military family members on Veterans Day and companies offered freebies, too, but no one eats them or claims the freebies, did the restaurants and companies really offer anything?  Well, of course they did, but still… With all this free food on the 11th, you guys will need to do extra PT on the 12th!

Here’s a list of some of the restaurants that plan to do just that. Hopefully I’ll be adding to this list in the coming days. Drumroll…

Applebee’s – free meal, Friday, Nov. 11: Last year, Applebee’s served 1,024,000 million free meals to military veterans and active servicemembers. Applebee’s is again offering a free meal to military veterans and active-duty service members on Veteran’s Day, Friday, Nov. 11, 2011. There will be 7 entrées to choose from. Military ID or proof of service required. Find locations at

Chili’s – free meal, Friday, Nov. 11. Chili’s is offering all military veterans past and present their choice of one of 6 meals. This offer is available during business hours on November 11, 2011 at participating Chili’s in the U.S. only. Dine-in from limited menu only; beverages and gratuity not included. Veterans and active duty military simply show proof of military service. Visit their website to find locations.

Golden Corral – Free meal, Monday Nov. 14: The 10th annual Golden Corral Military Appreciation dinner will be held on Monday, November 14, 2011 from 5 pm to 9 pm in all Golden Corral Restaurants nationwide. The free “thank you” dinner is available to any person who has ever served in the United States Military. If you are a veteran, retired, currently serving, in the National Guard or Reserves, you are invited to participate in Golden Corral’s Military Appreciation Monday dinner. For more information visit
Special thanks to Golden Corral: To date, Golden Corral restaurants have provided over 2.5 million free meals and contributed over $4.3 million to the Disabled American Veterans organization.
Hooters – Free Meal, Friday, Nov. 11. Hooter’s is serving up a free meal to military veterans all day on Veterans Day. Offer good for all veterans and active duty military personnel. Choose one of the new specialty items on the Hooter’s menu. Offer valid at participating Hooters only; open to all active duty and military veterans with valid military ID or proof of military service. Drink purchase required. For more information, visit,
Krispy Kreme – Free doughnut. Available only at participating Krispy Kreme stores. Offer available to all active-duty, retirees & veterans on Friday November 11th. Be sure to call ahead to verify your local Krispy Kreme is participating.

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants – free lunch or dinner, Sunday Nov 13, 2011: McCormick & Schmick’s is celebrating their 13th annual Veteran’s Appreciation Event on Sunday, November 13th. Veterans will be able to choose a complimentary lunch or dinner entrée. Veterans must provide proof of military service. Be sure to contact your local McCormick & Schmick’s as this is valid at participating restaurants only. Also, Space is limited and reservations are highly recommended. For more information visit: M&S Veterans Appreciation Event.

Outback Steakhouse – A week of Free Bloomin’ Onions and Cokes Monday Nov. 7 – Friday Nov. 11. Outback Steakhouse is honoring America’s military veterans by offering active duty military and veterans a free Bloomin’ Onion and a Coca-Cola product during the week leading up to Veteran’s Day. This offer is available to Military Personnel who have one of the following forms of identifications: U.S Uniform Services Identification Card, U.S Uniform Services Retired Identification Card, Current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES), DD form 214 Veterans Organization Card (i.e., American Legion and VFW), Photograph in Uniform, Wearing Uniform. For more information, visit,
The Outback understands commitment. For the past two years, The Outback, with the help of their patrons, has donated $2 Million to Operation Homefront, a non-profit organization providing everyday and emergency support for active troops, wounded warriors and their families.
Subway – Free Six Inch Sub. Select Subway locations offer a FREE six inch sub to military veterans on Veteran’s Day. However, Subway restaurants are franchises, so this offer may not be available everywhere. Please call ahead.
Texas Roadhouse – free meal, Friday, Nov. 11. Offer varies by location; our local Texas Roadhouse is offering a free meal from opening until 4pm. Other locations may vary in offer, hours, or availability. Call ahead to your local restaurant for more information.
T.G.I. Friday’s – Buy one get one free Nov 11-14. At participating locations for anyone with an old or current military ID. November 11-14.

Uno Chicago Grill, Friday, Nov. 11. Uno’s is offering a free entree or individual pizza with a purchase of an entree or pizza of equal or greater value. Offer good for all military  for veterans and active duty military. ID or proof of service required: Show up in uniform (if your service permits), provide military ID, show a picture of yourself in uniform, or have other ID showing proof of service. More info here.

Home Depot and Lowes Coupon Updates
Update: Home Depot and Lowes 10% Military Discount Available Everyday.
Home Depot: The Home Depot(R) is offering all active duty personnel, reservists, retired military, veterans and their families a 10 percent discount off their purchases in honor of Veteran’s Day. The offer is valid on purchases of up to $2,000 for a maximum of $200 and is available at The Home Depot stores, The Home Depot Design Center locations, Yardbirds and EXPO Design Center(R) locations. The 10% discount is available everyday for active duty and retirees, but not all veterans. Home Depot makes this offer available to all veterans on most military holidays. You can also find Home Depot discounts online.

Here’s to the Heroes
Anheuser-Busch Parks. Anheuser-Busch Parks offers Active Duty Service Members free admission for them and up to 3 dependents to any of their parks once a year. Throughout 2011, members of the military and as many as three direct dependents may enter SeaWorld, Busch Gardens or Sesame Place parks with a single-day complimentary admission. The Here’s to the Heroes program is only available to Any active duty, activated or drilling reservist, or National Guardsman. Eligible parks include: Adventure Island, Busch Gardens (Tampa Bay or Williamsburg), SeaWorld (Orlando, San Diego, or San Antonio), Sesame Place, and Water Country USA. Not valid at Discovery Cove and Aquatica. Christmas Town at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va. is not included as part of this program. For more information and to register, visit: Free admission summary, and ticket application.

Colonial Williamsburg Free Admission. Colonial Williamsburg offers free weekend-long admission tickets to active-duty military, reservists, retirees, veterans, and their immediate dependents from Friday, Nov. 11 through Sunday, Nov. 13th. The complimentary ticket incudes admission to Colonial Williamsburg exhibition sites, art museums, and most daytime programs, as well as free parking and use of the shuttle bus system. Tickets are only available at on-site ticket sales locations. Tickets are also available to families of deployed servicemembers. Tickets available on the following dates: Nov. 11-13.

Historic Jamestowne – Free Admission. The National Park Service commemorates Veterans Day with Fee Free days at Historic Jamestowne November 11-13. Free admission for everyone. See events calendar.

Knotts Berry Farm Military Tribute Days – Free Admission. Knott’s Berry Farm has an annual Military Tribute event in which they offer military members past and present by offering free park admission. This year the Military Tribute Days run from November 1 – 24 November (Thanksgiving Day).  Veterans or current serving military personnel plus one guest get in FREE with proper ID presented at Knott’s turnstile (DD214, Veterans Administration Hospital ID or Active Military Service ID). Purchase up to six additional tickets for just $17 each. More info.
Fee Free Day at National Parks. To honor America’s service men and women, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that areas managed by the National Park Service would not charge entrance fees for Veteran’s Day weekend – November 11-13, 2011. Over 100 national Parks will be participating in this event.
San Jacinto Monument and Museum (La Porte, TX). November 7-13: Free admission to the theatre, Observation Floor, and (on November 12-13) the special exhibit to all veterans and their families. More info.
Bed and Breakfast for Vets
In the third year of the program, B&Bs for Vets has organized over 485 (and counting) participating Bed and Breakfasts and Inns across the US and Canada which will be offering veterans a free night’s stay on November 10th, the night before Veterans Day. This offer is available to both active duty military members and veterans with ID, but space is limited. Each Inn and B&B has at least one room available for this promotion and reservations must be made directly through the participating Inns and B&Bs. For more information visit B&Bs for Vets.

Free Hugo® Canes for Veterans.
Sam’s Club® locations nationwide will distribute 36,000 Hugo® canes free of charge on November 9th, 10th, 11th, 2011 to U.S. military veterans in need of mobility assistance. Limited quantities available, while supplies last. Sam’s Club® Membership is not required, but proof of military service may be required. For more information, visit

Other Veteran’s Day Discounts
Here are some additional Veteran’s Day Discounts. In all cases, be sure to provide proper ID or proof of service. In addition, some of these stores are franchises, so verify participation before assuming the discount is in place.
Free Car wash. Thousands of car washes around the country are offering vets a free car wash on Veterans Day. Find a list at Grace for Veterans, which helped veterans receive 101,537 FREE Washes on Veterans Day in 2010. – Discount “Veterans Day Honor” MP3 album download. This downloadable album includes 12 songs as performed by the military bands and ensembles of the U.S. Armed Forces. Visit Amazon on Veteran’s Day to download the album.
Netflix – One Month Free Trial.
Sport Clips – FREE haircut to active-duty military & veterans. Offer only available at select locations. Please call to verify local participation.
Tim Hortons – all US locations are offering a free donut to all veterans (check out the Star Spangled donut!).

Due propers…

I’m apt to criticize the President when I don’t like something he says or does, so it’s only fair that I praise him when I do…Check out this from The White House blog today:

The White House Tuesday, October 25, 2011
The following blog post by Matt Flavin, Director of Veterans and Wounded Warrior Policy, is also available You can view the related fact-sheet here.

We Can’t Wait: Supporting Our Veterans

I think all Americans can agree that veterans shouldn’t have to fight for a job once they’ve come home from the fight overseas. But, all too often, those who have sacrificed so much for America struggle to find a job worthy of their talents. As the President has said, “if you can save a life in Afghanistan, you can save a life in an ambulance. If you can oversee millions of dollars of assets in Iraq, you can help a business balance its books here at home.” Ensuring our nation’s veterans get the opportunities they have earned has been one of President Obama’s top priorities as Commander in Chief.

That’s why President Obama called for a new Returning Heroes Tax Credit of up to $5,600 for firms that hire unemployed veterans and a Wounded Warriors Tax Credit that will increase the existing tax credit up to $9,600 for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities.These credits are included in the American Jobs Act. Unfortunately, these tax credits that could help companies hire veterans are held up in Congress.


While we will continue to work with Congress to bring up the American Jobs Act piece by piece, we will increase our focus on taking executive actions that fight for the middle class because the American people simply can’t wait. That’s why today, the Obama Administration is announcing two new initiatives to help create jobs for veterans.

1. Hiring 8,000 Veterans in Three Years: The Community Health Center Veterans Hiring Challenge 

Today, the Obama Administration challenged Community Health Centers to hire 8,000 veterans – approximately one veteran per health center site – over the next three years. The National Association of Community Health Centers will also contribute to this effort and joined the Administration in announcing this Community Health Center Veterans Hiring Challenge.

2. Helping Veterans Become Physician Assistants 

Under this initiative, the Administration will make it easier for veterans to use the training they have received in the military to become physician assistants. We will begin to give priority in physician assistant grant awards to universities and colleges that help train veterans for careers as physician assistants. In an effort to expand the number of training programs that accommodate veterans, the Administration also will identify model programs that offer expedited curricula for veterans and that offer enhanced veteran recruiting, retention, and mentoring services, and help bring these best practices to other programs.

These efforts build on previous Administration efforts to create jobs for veterans including sending 600,000 veterans back to school on the Post-9/11 GI Bill and hiring over 100,000 veterans into the federal government over the past year and a half. And just last week, First Lady Michelle Obama announced that the American Logistics Association (ALA) and their 270 affiliate companies committed to hiring 25,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013. This commitment is part of the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative to support veterans and military families. The ALA’s commitment will fulfill a quarter of the President’s challenge to the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013.

This work is also happening across the federal agencies.The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, are working closely with other agencies and the President’s economic and domestic policy teams, to lead a new task force to ensure that every member of the military receives the training, education, and credentials they need to transition to the civilian workforce or to pursue higher education. This initiative includes the design of a “Transition Boot Camp,” which will give service members additional counseling and guidance and help them depart their active duty service “career-ready.”

Over the weeks and months ahead, we’ll continue to take actions like these that will improve the economy and help middle class families including our nation’s veterans because we simply can’t wait.

Matt Flavin is the Director of Veterans and Wounded Warrior Policy


You can view the related fact-sheet here.

Stay Connected

With friends like these…

The Obama Administration has made me bi-polar. It seems like it’s always kiss-us-on-one-cheek, slap-us-on-the-other with those folks.

For her part, beautiful and gracious Michelle Obama has done more for military families than any First Lady I can recall. And President Obama even issued a wide-ranging Presidential Directive on Military Families to every branch of the Federal Government in January. I truly believe both of them are sincere in their desires to make military life more palatable and sustainable.

But then, under President Obama’s watch, we in the military community have nearly not been paid and have seen our promised retiree benefits and Tricare benefits dangled over a hopeless abyss as if they were a optional gift from the federal government instead of a benefit that has been promised and earned, a million times over.

Recently, The White House debt reduction plan described military retirement as  “out of line with most other government or private retirement plans.” If ever a statement proved the thesis of the book AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes from Military Service — And How It Hurts Our Country, written by my friend Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer, it was that sentence from the White House.

Military retirement IS out of line with most other government and private retirement plans because MILITARY SERVICE IS OUT OF LINE WITH MOST OTHER GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE JOBS. In fact, that I even have to write that sentence proves the points made in AWOL.

But, for those of you sitting side by side with our President and Congress in the remedial class, here’s the condensed version of why military benefits have to be better in an all-volunteer military:

1. Military service, even during peacetime, is dangerous. Troops die all the time, even when they’re just training.

2. Military service is hard. People yell at you. They don’t care about your feelings. They make you do things you don’t want to do. And if you have a bad attitude about all of that you could find yourself court-martialed.

3. You can’t just quit your military job if you decide you don’t like it. You sign up for a set number of years and you owe those years. Period. You can never say, “take this job and shove it” and you have to follow orders EVEN when you think that doing so might get you killed.

4. Military service is hard on families. Divorces are rampant and kids grow up with lots of memories of someone missing from the dinner table. This is true even during peacetime.

5. Frequent moves are common and exhausting for the whole family and often mean that your family will have to subsist on one income — and not an especially generous income at that. You’ll make a decent living in the military but, because of frequent moves and long deployments — your spouse may not be able to find or keep a job. Your kids will change schools and friends — a lot, and may even have to repeat a grade because of different school system requirements.

6. Your body WILL be broken. Yes, service members are in better shape than their civilian peers while they’re serving, but 20 years worth of PT, rucking and, in some cases, jumping out of airplanes and other extreme tasks, mean that you will not move well as an old person. And that’s not even counting war injuries. (This, btw, is precisely why the Tricare benefits for retirees need to be good — military retirees are paying now to treat injuries and ailments they received while they were serving.)

… should I go on?

The painfully obvious point, which apparently must be explained to our President and the majority of our Congressional Representatives who have no experience in the military themselves, is that the benefits for the military have to be better in order to attract people to our all-volunteer military. Take away the benefits and, all of the sudden, serving your country no longer seems worth the struggle and hassle. And should (fingers crossed) our economy improve, we will need some especially compelling reasons to attract people to military service in the future. I hope and pray the President and Congress don’t destroy the incentives before then.

Peace out, Iraq

The war in Iraq is over and the President promises us that all American troops will be home for Christmas.

That’s a huge statement — and a great one to hear. Though I do worry about the stability and security in Iraq after we leave, I think it was the right call on President Obama’s part. The Iraqi government wasn’t willing to work with us on the Status of Forces Agreement and Iraq’s position would have left American troops subject to prosecution under Iraqi laws — which is completely unacceptable. So, just like that, we’re done.

Peace out, Iraq — literally.

Americans, for the most part, couldn’t be happier about it. It’s been a long, unpopular war that has claimed too many American and Iraqi lives and destroyed even more bodies and families. I, for one, am very glad for the end to be so soon in sight. But would it have killed President Obama to make some sort of statement of victory? I can understand him wanting to avoid saying “Mission Accomplished”, but with Saddam dead and his regime destroyed, our mission there was accomplished. Can’t we just say, “we won”?

News stories say that, though American troops will be out of Iraq, 4,000-5,000 military contractors will be there to provide security to diplomats, on top of the troops who will have to stay to guard the embassy an such sites and personnel. Four thousand to 5,000 — Kind of makes you wonder how many people we’ll have there that need guarding. That sounds more like a quasi-military presence to me than a security force…

Here is the official letter from the President regarding the end of the war:

The White House, Washington
Good morning,

I’m writing to tell you that all US troops will return home from Iraq by the end of December. After nearly nine years, the American war in Iraq will end. Our servicemen and women will be with their families for the holidays.

The war in Iraq came with tremendous cost. More than a million Americans served in Iraq, and nearly 4,500 gave their lives in service to the rest of us. Today, as always, we honor these patriots.

When I came into office, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. As Commander in Chief, I ended our combat mission last year and pledged to keep our commitment to remove all our troops by the end of 2011. To date, we’ve removed more than 100,000 troops from Iraq.

This is a significant moment in our history. For more information, including video, please visit

The end of the war in Iraq reflects a larger trend. The wars of the past decade are drawing to a close.

As we have removed troops from Iraq, we have refocused our fight against al Qaeda and secured major victories in taking out its leadership–including Osama bin Laden. And we’ve begun a transition in Afghanistan.

On the first day of my Administration, roughly 180,000 troops were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of this year that number will be cut in half, and we’ll continue to draw it down.

As we welcome home our newest veterans, we’ll enlist their talents in meeting our greatest challenges as a nation—restoring our economic strength at home. Because after a decade of war, the nation that we need to build is our own.

Today the United States moves forward, from a position of strength.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama



Please bear with me while I do a little rainy day venting…

For four months now I’ve been working with several other volunteers to try and get country stars to read a message of hope for a public service announcement that encourages military community members in crisis to reach out for help instead of resorting to suicide. The first round of the PSAs featured Hollywood stars reading a similar message and it’s been a huge success. We lose, on average, one veteran every 36 hours to suicide, but the Veteran’s Crisis telephone line has already directly prevented 16,000 callers from taking their own lives. And that — 16,000 — is the number that keeps me getting up and getting back to work on this project.

But here’s the problem — many of the stars who I thought would jump at a chance to do this very small thing that could have a major impact on the military community have told us no. We have had some great, truly moving and phenomenal responses from some stars. We’ve had some who have thanked us for allowing them to participate and have even begged us to let them know of other ways they can help — and I love those artists and will spend the rest of my life singing their praises. But the ones who I thought would be lining up to sit in front of our cameras and give us just 20 minutes of their time — in appreciation for the millions of dollars they’ve earned off marketing themselves as military supporters — have said that they’re either too busy or that they’re just not interested. To say that I’m disillusioned at this point would be a major understatement.

I’m from Nashville. I grew up around country music and I love country music, but I’m starting to hate that side of my hometown. For years now I’ve listened as the genre of music my hometown is best known for has cranked out military support songs and patriotic hits. Many of these artists are paid to perform on military bases, paid by MWR in fact, which — as you probably already know — is partially funded by surcharges at our commissaries and Exchanges. That means that troops, some of whom qualify for WIC and foodstamps, are paying their grocery money for these stars to come and sing the patriotic songs that earn these performers millions. And then we call and ask if that performer can spare about 20 minutes to read a script on camera in a studio in Nashville, we’ve even offered to fly a film crew to film some of the stars who are currently touring, and we sweeten the deal for them by reminding them of all the television networks that have already agreed to air the PSAs, and we still get doors slammed in our faces.

As a military family member, I feel used. I see my family and my friends’ families making tremendous sacrifices for this country. I see my friends’ bodies and minds forever damaged by combat and their kids suffering from years spent away from a deployed parent. Then I call up the representatives of artists who drape themselves in Old Glory and proudly present themselves as military supporters to their very patriotic fans, and I get a response like, “we just aren’t sure that fits with so-and-so’s image.”

I’m trying stay professional so I won’t name names. But I will say this, I’m not talking about one artist who has said no, or even 10 artists. I’m talking about dozens. Think of your favorite country stars. Think of all those red, white & blue songs you hear on the radio. Think of all those people you’ve seen perform, sell CDs — and get paid — on your military bases. Now consider that most of them have refused to help us. I’d love it if you would ask them why.

Dearth of medals is starting to get noticed

Several news sites today are reporting that California Congressman Duncan Hunter, himself an OIF and OEF veteran, is asking the Sec Def to go back over award citations to make sure the troops are really getting the honors they deserve.

About damn time, is what I say — but I’m still pleased as punch that Hunter is stepping out and saying it, too.

I wrote about this issue in July for the New York Times’ At War blog and stand by what I wrote then: It is pathetic that, in the longest war in our nation’s history, there have been so few recipients of the Medal of Honor, our highest valor award.

Please consider sending a message to your elected officials to encourage them to also ask for a review of the valor awards, particularly those who have received Silver Stars and the Distinguished Service Cross/Navy Cross/Air Force Cross troops since 9/11. And, lest you think such a thing would be cumbersome, we’re not really talking about that many records that would need to be reviewed. Only about 22 people have received the DSC/Navy Cross/Air Force Cross for these present day wars and only about 400 have received the Silver Star for actions in Iraq & Afghanistan. This is a totally doable request. Ironically, to date the Pentagon’s main reasoning for being so stingy with the Medal of Honor is that they say the integrity of the MOH must be preserved. I agree wholeheartedly, but I can’t see how the integrity of a medal is preserved by denying it to people for doing very nearly the same actions that were deemed worthy of the MOH a generation ago.

Below you’ll find some names and award citations that, I think, illustrate that the same standards are not being applied with regard to who gets which medals now. Every citation you see here is inspiring and, even if you don’t agree with me, I think you’ll be impressed and awed after reading what our troops have done in the name of our country during these last 70-some odd years.

(I have removed the names of these individuals because I am, by no means, implying that the MOH recipients did not deserve it — they most certainly did — and because the present day troops whose actions are recounted here would probably not likely having their names on this blog in this context.) It took me several hours on a Saturday afternoon to find and compare these citation narratives, which were chosen at random. There are likely better examples out there that I haven’t found yet.

The comparisons:

1. Helicopter Pilots
Medal of Honor, Vietnam
XXXX distinguished himself on 25 May 1971 while serving as a helicopter pilot in Kontum Province in the Republic of Vietnam. On that date XXXX volunteered to fly a lightly armed helicopter in an attempt to evacuate three seriously wounded soldiers from a small fire base which was under attack by force.
He made the decision with full knowledge that numerous anti-aircraft weapons were positioned around the base and that the clear weather would afford the enemy gunners an unobstructed view of all routes into the base.
As he approached the base, the enemy gunners opened fire with heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms. Undaunted by the fusillade, he continued his approach determined to accomplish the mission.
Displaying tremendous courage under fire, he calmly directed the attacks of supporting gun ships while maintaining absolute control of the helicopter he was flying. He landed the aircraft at the fire base despite the ever-increasing enemy fire and calmly waited until the wounded soldiers were placed on board.
As his aircraft departed from the fire base, it was struck and seriously damaged by enemy anti-aircraft fire and began descending. Flying with exceptional skill, he immediately regained control of the crippled aircraft and attempted a controlled landing. Despite his valiant efforts, the helicopter exploded, overturned, and plummeted to earth amid the hail of enemy fire.

Silver Star Recipient, Afghanistan,
Chinook pilot assigned to 3rd Battalion, 82nd Aviation Regiment (TF Talon), in front of the Talon headquarters on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan March 9.

In November 2009, XXXX and his crew were called for a casualty evacuation mission in Baghdis province, western Afghanistan. As XXXX and his crew approached the pick-up site, his left door gunner reported heavy tracer fire coming at them. XXXX and his co-pilot maneuvered to avoid the rounds.

Once they were able to land, ground troops began loading five wounded Soldiers on the aircraft. Very quickly, the aircraft began taking more enemy fire. With less than a minute on ground, insurgents fired a rocket propelled grenade at XXXX’s Chinook. The round penetrated the nose, flew between the two pilots, and hit the flight engineer in the back of the head before coming to a rest inside the helicopter, unexploded.

 XXXX and his crew continued to take a barrage of enemy fire, but XXXX directed the team to stay on ground until the last patient was loaded. Once the fifth patient was loaded, XXXX led the team out of the hot landing zone and back to a coalition base where the casualties could receive treatment.

After they determined the aircraft was still flyable, XXXX made the decision to conduct a second casualty evacuation of several wounded and dead Afghan National Army soldiers.



Medal of Honor – Vietnam
Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company A, 2d Battalion, 2d Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and date: An Loc Province, Republic of Vietnam, 24 May 1969.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. XXXX distinguished himself while serving as a platoon sergeant with Company A, near the village of Lang Sau. Company A was directed to assist a friendly unit which was endangered by intense fire from a North Vietnamese Battalion located in a heavily fortified base camp. S/Sgt. XXXX quickly organized the men of his platoon into effective combat teams and spearheaded the attack by destroying 4 enemy occupied bunkers. He then raced some 200 meters under heavy enemy fire to reach an adjoining platoon which had begun to falter. After rallying this unit and assisting their wounded, S/Sgt. XXXX returned to his own sector with critically needed munitions. Without pausing he moved to the forefront and destroyed 4 enemy occupied bunkers and a machine gun which had threatened his advancing platoon. Although painfully wounded by an enemy grenade, S/Sgt. XXXX refused medical attention and continued his assault by neutralizing 2 more enemy bunkers nearby. While searching one of these emplacements S/Sgt. XXXX narrowly escaped death when an enemy soldier detonated a grenade at close range. Shortly thereafter, he ran to the aid of a severely wounded officer and struck down an enemy soldier who was threatening the officer’s life. S/Sgt. XXXX then continued to rally his men and led them through the entrenched enemy until his company was relieved. His exemplary leadership and great personal courage throughout the 4-hour battle ensured the success of his own and nearby units, and resulted in the saving of numerous lives of his fellow soldiers. By individual acts of bravery he destroyed 10 enemy bunkers and accounted for a large toll of the enemy, including 2 key enemy commanders. His extraordinary heroism at the risk of his life was in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

Iraq, Silver Star
SSG XXXX, Operational Detachment Alpha 062 (ODA-062), Company C, 2d Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in action at Baqubah, Iraq, on 9 April 2004
Staff Sergeant XXXX distinguished himself through conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against enemy forces, in Baqubah, Iraq, on 9 April 2004, while serving as the Detachment Weapons Sergeant for Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha XXX Company C, 2d Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), under Advanced Operational Base 060. Staff Sergeant XXXX’s heroism and bravery under intense enemy fire and in total disregard for personal safety, saved the life of a wounded American Soldier and led to the overwhelming success and survival of his Operational Detachment Alpha 062 in an engagement with Anti Iraqi Forces (AIF).
While Staff Sergeant XXXX and his detachment were patrolling to downtown Baqubah after receiving multiple reports that 500 AIF were staged to conduct attacks on Coalition and Iraqi government entities and structures, Staff Sergeant XXXX and two other detachment members moved to the rooftop of the Diyala Police Station and emplaced hasty defensive fighting positions. As the attack began his hasty defensive position was destroyed by three direct hits from a volley of approximately a dozen rocket propelled grenades (RPG), fired from four separate positions. During the initial phases of the attack, Staff Sergeant XXXX dug a trapped and wounded Soldier out of the rubble and revived him under intense hostile fire and continuous barrages of RPGs.
Realizing that the massing of fires was the prelude to an all-out assault, Staff Sergeant XXXX emerged from the destroyed fighting position firing his M-249 machine gun at the AIF attackers. The AIF continued to systematically target his rooftop position with a sustained attack of at least 25 RPGs supported by medium machine gun and various small arms fire. Without regard for his own personal safety, Staff Sergeant XXXX engaged and killed several AIF attempting to breach the building’s defensive perimeter by moving to multiple positions and engaging the enemy with withering fire in a close-pitched battle. Staff Sergeant XXXX then repositioned himself to his initial exposed defensive position to counter another enemy flanking maneuver killing several more attackers at close range and destroying an enemy machine gun position with an AT-4. As the battle continued, Staff Sergeant XXXX further exposed himself to enemy fire as he systematically moved around the rooftop perimeter coordinating and directing friendly fires in order to gain fire superiority over the enemy.
Having repelled the enemy assault, Staff Sergeant XXXX then moved from the rooftop to the first floor of the jail compound of the Diyala Police Station. He then organized U.S. Forces to retake the detention facility from approximately 350 inmates who were rioting and attempting to escape. The inmates had broken out of their cells to get away from a very large fire in the jail portion of the police station caused by the intense RPG fire. While leading the U.S. Forces to retake the detention facility, Staff Sergeant XXXX was forced to engage a very large inmate, whose ultimate plan was to pull Staff Sergeant XXXX into a sea of rioting prisoners, in hand-to-hand combat. While engaged with the inmate in unarmed combat, and risking his own safety, he instructed U.S. Forces to fire non-lethal ammunition at the prisoner. The inmate was shot three times with non-lethal rounds and continued to fight Staff Sergeant XXXX with intense vigor until Staff Sergeant XXXX subdued him using hand-to-hand techniques, quelling the riotous intentions of the rest of the prisoners.
Staff Sergeant XXXX demonstrated an extraordinary degree of heroism under fire, by rallying his Special Forces detachment in the successful repelling of an over-whelming superior battalion-sized enemy force, which maintained the integrity and authority of the Diyala Police Station and the Iraqi Interim Government Counsel. His heroic actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of gallantry and intrepidity, which reflect great credit upon himself, the Special Operations Command Central, and the United States Army.


Medal of Honor – Vietnam
Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division. Place and date: Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam, 22 February 1969.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as commanding officer of Company A, in action against the enemy in the northern A Shau Valley. Capt. (then 1st Lt.) XXXX’s company came under intense fire from a large well concealed enemy force. Capt. XXXX maneuvered to a position from which he could assess the situation and confer with his platoon leaders. As they departed to execute the plan he had devised, the enemy attacked and Capt. XXXX was wounded along with all of the other members of the command group, except the executive officer. Capt.XXXX continued to direct the activity of his company. Advancing through heavy enemy fire, he personally neutralized one enemy position and calmly ordered an assault against the hostile emplacements. He then moved through the hazardous area coordinating aircraft support with the activities of his men. When his executive officer was mortally wounded, Capt. XXXX reorganized the company and directed the fire of his men as they hurled grenades against the enemy and drove the hostile forces into retreat. Wounded again in the final assault, Capt. XXXX refused medical attention, established a defensive posture, and supervised the preparation of casualties for medical evacuation. His indomitable courage, inspiring initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of grave personal danger inspired his marines to such aggressive action that they overcame all enemy resistance and destroyed a large bunker complex. Capt.XXXXs heroic actions reflect great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps, and uphold the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.


Silver Star, Afghanistan,
SSG XXXX, Operational Detachment Alpha , Company A, 2d Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Pashmul, Kandahar, Afghanistan, on 24 June 2006
Staff Sergeant XXXX, United States Army, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry in action as the Medical Sergeant for Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
On 24 June 2006, while conducting a cordon and search mission to capture or kill Taliban leadership in Panjawi District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, Sergeant XXXX was assigned to lead a support by fire element as part of an effort to seize a compound located on key terrain adjacent to the detachment’s perimeter. His element consisted of one US Army Embedded Tactical Trainer (ETT), an interpreter, and nine Afghan Soldiers. As they moved to a position approximately 75 meters south of the objective, they came under heavy Taliban fire. Sergeant XXXX maneuvered his element through enemy fire to his designated position and prepared his weapons to support the assault. The compound was quickly cleared and secured by the assault team. Immediately following the assault, an unexpectedly large Taliban Force counter-attacked with automatic fires. From his support by fire position, Sergeant XXXX initiated lethal direct fires on the enemy, who were attempting to close on the target compound. Sergeant XXXX’s action blunted the enemy envelopment of the element in the compound.
Sergeant XXXX’s small group immediately began receiving a heavy volume of accurate machinegun, rocket-propelled grenade, and small arms fires from all directions. Sergeant XXXX maneuvered his element to close with and destroy an enemy automatic weapon that was placing effective fire on the beleaguered element within the compound. Continuing to maneuver his element, Sergeant XXXX moved through an opening in a low mud wall and unknowingly into the midst of group of Taliban fighters. Sergeant XXXX, the ETT, and the interpreter reacted with furious fire in several directions and employed hand grenades at extremely close ranges, killing many of the enemy. Groups of enemy fighters continued to approach to within 15 meters and fire directly into Sergeant XXXX’s position while shouting insults and threats at the Afghan National Army Soldiers, indicating their intent to capture the group. As Sergeant XXXX exposed himself to employ a grenade at a nearby group of enemy fighters, a bullet struck him in the back of the head, knocking him down, resulting in his temporary loss of vision and hearing. As he groped for his weapon and attempted to regain his bearings, two Afghan Soldiers were forced to withdraw from their support by fire position, leaving Sergeant XXXX’s small element further isolated.
When Sergeant XXXX regained his vision, he returned to cover, refused medical attention, and rejoined the battle. In a valiant attempt to inspire the remaining defenders, he shouted words of encouragement at them and directed their fires against the determined and advancing Taliban. He then led them in an assault upon Taliban fighters who now seemed more determined to capture the isolated element. While attempting to maneuver on the flank of the approaching Taliban fighters, now as close as ten meters, the ETT was seriously injured by a rocket-propelled grenade. Sergeant XXXX, ignoring his own bleeding head wound, selflessly risked his own life while immediately moving to retrieve the injured ETT. Caught in the open and completely exposed to enemy fire, he was brought down a second time by a burst of machine gun fire that destroyed his M4 carbine and shattered his left shoulder and upper arm. As he lay wounded, he continued encouraging the members of his element, and directed their fire as they became the target of an even heavier fusillade of machinegun and rocket-propelled grenade fires.
Ignoring his wounds, Sergeant XXXX maintained his composure, passed his radio to his interpreter, and assisted in directing a relief force to his position. When the relief force arrived to provide assistance, Sergeant XXXX, despite both of his serious wounds, again refused medical assistance and resolved to walk out on his own so that all assistance could be afforded the more seriously wounded ETT.
Sergeant XXXX’s courageous actions and determined spirit not only prevented his small element from being overrun, captured, or destroyed, but decisively engaged and eliminated enemy forces who would have joined the assault on the beleaguered element defending the compound. His gallantry, dedication to duty, and selfless sacrifice exemplified the warrior ethos and directly contributed to the detachment seizing the initiative, denying the enemy the use of key terrain, and forcing the Taliban retreat. The heroic accomplishments of Sergeant XXXX reflect great credit upon himself, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, Special Operations Command Central, and the United States Army.


Afghanistan, Distinguished Service Cross
Operational Detachment Alpha  Company A, 2d Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) 24 June 2006
Panjawal District, Kandahar Province,
Surrounded on all sides by hardened Taliban fighters, a vastly outnumbered force of Americans and Afghans fought nearly to the last bullet. In June 2006, 47-year-old Master Sergeant XXXX of the 7th Special Forces Group – the Army’s elite Green Berets – was the team’s medic during Operation Kaika. The Taliban believed this isolated group of Americans and Afghans, numbering less than 70, would be an easy target. They were gravely mistaken.
When the terrorists sprang their trap, the sky exploded with the thunder of rifle, machine-gun, and grenade fire from both sides. The main group was separated by more than 100 yards, and the situation at both positions was dire.
XXXX heard over the radio that several wounded men ahead of a forward position could be overrun at any moment. Leading a team of eight, he quickly traversed the distance between the two positions and took stock of the situation. There he saw two wounded men – Staff Sergeant X and Staff Sergeant XY – farther ahead and knew he had to reach them. Disregarding three enemy machine-guns, XXXX dropped to his stomach and began an arduous crawl to the wounded troops. Restricted in his movements by his protective armor,XXXX Paused and removed the only shield he had from the hostile onslaught, his Interceptor bullet proof vest. He traded his armor for a cloth sign that he pinned to his back to alert the close-air support attack helicopters that he was friendly.
The 200 foot crawl was nearly an hour and a half of constant enemy fire directed at the brave American. Reaching a compound to which he could pull the wounded, he singlehandedly moved the two soldiers there and performed emergency first-aid. As night fell, XXXX made several trips to move the Binney and Fuerst back to the advanced position. From there, they were able to medevac the injured, and begin their own exfiltration to the security of the patrol base.
While XY did not survive his severe injuries, X lived because of the bold decision made by a 47-year-old-medic more concerned with the lives of his friends than his own. For his actions, XXXX was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the first time a member of the 7th Special Forces Group was awarded this honor since July of 1964. SOURCE: DoD

Navy Cross, Afghanistan
Staff Sergeant XXXX,
United States Marine Corps, Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, Regional Corps Advisory Command 3-7, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on 8 September 2009
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Staff SergeantXXXX United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy as a member of Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, Regional Corps Advisory Command 3-7, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on 8 September 2009 in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. Assigned to the security element while other members of his team led two platoons of Afghan National Security Forces into Ganjgal Village for a pre-dawn meeting with village elders. Staff Sergeant XXXX heard over the radio that the dismounted patrol was ambushed by roughly fifty enemy fighters in fortified positions. With four members of his team in immediate danger of being surrounded, he drove a gun-truck, with one other Marine as his gunner, forward into the kill zone of a well prepared ambush. With only the machine gun fires of his gunner to suppress the enemy, he ignored heavy enemy fires and drove the vehicle into the kill zone three times to cover the withdrawal of the combined force and evacuate two dozen members of the Afghan National Security Forces. With complete disregard for his own personal safety, he made a fourth trip into the deepest point of the kill zone in another gun-truck with three other U.S. personnel to recover the bodies of the fallen team members. He positioned his vehicle to shield the U.S. members from the intense enemy fire as they dismounted to recover their bodies. By his decisive actions, bold initiative, and selfless dedication to duty, Staff Sergeant XXXX reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Air Force Cross, Afghanistan
Senior Airman XXXX,  21st Special Tactics Squadron, at Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on 6 April 2008
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Senior Airman XXXX, United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an armed enemy of the United States while serving with the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, at Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on 6 April 2008. On that date, while assigned as Special Tactics Combat Controller, Airman XXXX executed a day rotary-wing infiltration with his Special Forces team to capture high-value insurgents in a village on the surrounding mountains. While climbing near vertical terrain to reach their objective, the team was attacked in a well-coordinated and deadly ambush. Devastating sniper, machine gun, and rocket-propelled grenade fire poured down on the team from elevated and protected positions on all sides, immediately pinning down the assault force. Without regard for his life, Airman XXXX placed himself between the most immediate threats and provided suppressive fire with his M-4 rifle against enemy fire while fellow teammates were extracted from the line of fire. Airman XXXX bravely withstood the hail of enemy fire to control eight United States Air Force fighters and four United States Army attack helicopters. Despite a gunshot wound to the left leg and being trapped on a 60-foot cliff under constant enemy fire, Airman XXXX controlled more than 50 attack runs and repeatedly repelled the enemy with repeated danger close air strikes, several within 100 meters of his position. Twice, his actions prevented his element from being overrun during the intense 6 and a half hour battle. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Airman XXXX reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Medal of Honor, WWII
Staff Sergeant XXXX
Organization: U.S. Army
Division: 30th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division
Date of Issue: 03/29/1945
Place / Date: Near St. Die, France, 28 October 1944
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 28 October 1944, near St. Die, France. When his company was stopped in its effort to drive through the Mortagne Forest to reopen the supply line to the isolated third battalion, S/Sgt. XXXX braved the concentrated fire of machineguns in a lone assault on a force of German troops. Although his company had progressed less than 10 yards and had lost 3 killed and 6 wounded, S/Sgt. XXXX charged forward dodging from tree to tree firing a borrowed BAR from the hip. Despite intense machinegun fire which the enemy directed at him and rifle grenades which struck the trees over his head showering him with broken twigs and branches, S/Sgt. XXXX made his way to within 10 yards of the closest machinegun and killed the gunner with a hand grenade. An enemy soldier threw hand grenades at him from a position only 10 yards distant; however, S/Sgt. XXXX dispatched him with a single burst of BAR fire. Charging into the vortex of the enemy fire, he killed another machinegunner at 15 yards range with a hand grenade and forced the surrender of 2 supporting infantrymen. Although the remainder of the German group concentrated the full force of its automatic weapons fire in a desperate effort to knock him out, he proceeded through the woods to find and exterminate 5 more of the enemy. Finally, when the third German machinegun opened up on him at a range of 20 yards, S/Sgt. XXXX killed the gunner with BAR fire. In the course of the action, he personally killed 9 Germans, eliminated 3 enemy machineguns, vanquished a specialized force which was armed with automatic weapons and grenade launchers, cleared the woods of hostile elements, and reopened the severed supply lines to the assault companies of his battalion


Medal of Honor, Phillipines
Lieutenant Commander XXXX
Organization: U.S. Navy
Place / Date: Philippine waters, 7 December 1941 to 10 April 1942

Citation: For extraordinary heroism, distinguished service, and conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty as commander of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3, in Philippine waters during the period 7 December 1941 to 10 April 1942. The remarkable achievement of Lt. Comdr. XXXX’s command in damaging or destroying a notable number of Japanese enemy planes, surface combatant and merchant ships, and in dispersing landing parties and land-based enemy forces during the 4 months and 8 days of operation without benefit of repairs, overhaul, or maintenance facilities for his squadron, is believed to be without precedent in this type of warfare. His dynamic forcefulness and daring in offensive action, his brilliantly planned and skillfully executed attacks, supplemented by a unique resourcefulness and ingenuity, characterize him as an outstanding leader of men and a gallant and intrepid seaman. These qualities coupled with a complete disregard for his own personal safety reflect great credit upon him and the Naval Service.


Medal of Honor, WWII
Colonel XXXX
Organization: U.S. Army
Division: Air Corps Reserve
Place / Date: Near Port Lyautey, French Morocco, 8 November 1942

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty. On 8 November 1942, near Port Lyautey, French Morocco, Col. XXXX volunteered to accompany the leading wave of assault boats to the shore and pass through the enemy lines to locate the French commander with a view to suspending hostilities. This request was first refused as being too dangerous but upon the officer’s ins1stence that he was qualified to undertake and accomplish the mission he was allowed to go. Encountering heavy fire while in the landing boat and unable to dock in the river because of shell fire from shore batteries, Col. XXXX, accompanied by 1 officer and 1 soldier, succeeded in landing on the beach at Mehdia Plage under constant low-level strafing from 3 enemy planes. Riding in a bantam truck toward French headquarters, progress of the party was hindered by fire from our own naval guns. Nearing Port Lyautey, Col. XXXX was instantly killed by a sustained burst of machinegun fire at pointblank range from a concealed position near the road.



Medal of Honor, Vietnam
Staff Sergeant XXXX
Organization: U.S. Army
Company: Company E, 3d Battalion
Division: 173d Airborne Brigade
Place / Date: Phu My District, Republic of Vietnam, 7 September 1970

S/Sgt. XXXX was riding in the lead armored personnel carrier in a 4-vehicle column when an enemy mine exploded in front of his vehicle. As the vehicle swerved from the road, a concealed enemy force waiting in ambush opened fire with automatic weapons and anti-tank grenades, striking the vehicle several times and setting it on fire. S/Sgt. XXXX escaped from the disabled vehicle and, without pausing to extinguish the flames on his clothing, rallied his stunned unit. He then led it in a vigorous assault, in the face of heavy enemy automatic weapons fire, on the entrenched enemy position. This prompt and courageous action routed the enemy and saved his unit from destruction. Following the assault, S/Sgt. XXXX heard the cries of 3 men still trapped inside the vehicle. Paying no heed to warnings that the ammunition and fuel in the burning personnel carrier might explode at any moment, S/Sgt. XXXX raced to the vehicle and climbed inside to rescue his wounded comrades. As he was lifting 1 of the men to safety, the vehicle exploded, mortally wounding him and the man he was attempting to save. By his extraordinary devotion to duty, indomitable courage, and utter disregard for his own safety, S/Sgt. XXXX saved his unit from destruction and selflessly sacrificed his life in a brave attempt to save 3 comrades. S/Sgt.XXXX’s conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the cost of his life were an inspiration to his comrades and are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.

Medal of Honor, WWII
Lieutenant XXXX
Organization: U.S. Navy
Place / Date: Iwo Jima, 17 February 1945
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of LCI (G) 449 operating as a unit of LCI (G) Group 8, during the preinvasion attack on Iwo Jima on 17 February 1945. Boldly closing the strongly fortified shores under the devastating fire of Japanese coastal defense guns, Lt. (then Lt. (j.g.)) XXXX directed shattering barrages of 40mm. and 20mm. gunfire against hostile beaches until struck down by the enemy’s savage counterfire which blasted the 449’s heavy guns and whipped her decks into sheets of flame. Regaining consciousness despite profuse bleeding he was again critically wounded when a Japanese mortar crashed the conning station, instantly killing or fatally wounding most of the officers and leaving the ship wallowing without navigational control. Upon recovering the second time, Lt. XXXX resolutely climbed down to the pilothouse and, fighting against his rapidly waning strength, took over the helm, established communication with the engineroom, and carried on valiantly until relief could be obtained. When no longer able to stand, he propped himself against empty shell cases and rallied his men to the aid of the wounded; he maintained position in the firing line with his 20mm. guns in action in the face of sustained enemy fire, and conned his crippled ship to safety. His unwavering fortitude, aggressive perseverance, and indomitable spirit against terrific odds reflect the highest credit upon Lt. XXXX and uphold the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
Medal of Honor, Korea
Corporal XXXX
Organization: U.S. Army
Company: Company F
Division: 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division
Place / Date: Near Chup’a-ri, Korea, 31 August 1951

Cpl. XXXX, a member of Company F, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. When his platoon leader was killed, Cpl. XXXX assumed command and led his unit in an assault on strongly fortified enemy positions located on commanding terrain. When his platoon came under vicious, raking fire which halted the forward movement, Cpl. XXXX seized a 57mm. recoilless rifle and unhesitatingly moved ahead to a suitable firing position from which he delivered deadly accurate fire completely destroying an enemy bunker, killing its occupants. He then returned to his platoon and was resuming the assault when the unit was again subjected to intense hostile fire from 2 other bunkers. Disregarding his personal safety, armed with grenades he charged forward hurling grenades into 1 of the enemy emplacements, and although painfully wounded in this action he pressed on destroying the bunker and killing 6 of the foe. He then continued his attack against a third enemy position, throwing grenades as he ran forward, annihilating 4 enemy soldiers. He then led his platoon to the north slope of the hill where positions were occupied from which effective fire was delivered against the enemy in support of friendly troops moving up. Fearlessly exposing himself to enemy fire, he continuously moved about directing and encouraging his men until he was mortally wounded by enemy mortar fire. Cpl. XXXX’s extraordinary heroism, indomitable courage, and aggressive leadership reflect great credit on himself and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.

Attn: Ohioans

or is it Ohio-ites? Or maybe Ohiozoans? Whatever it is you Buckeyes call yourselves, here’s something for you.

If you vote in Ohio and you are concerned about military issues, this is a great resource. And I’m in a rush this morning so I’m copying it straight from the press release:


Ohio Keeps Military Voters Informed with New Website


October 5, 2011 – Arlington, Va. – This info is too good not to share. Ohio is doing great things for our military members and their families.  They recently launched and the Military Ready-to-Vote program to help make voting while on Active Duty as straightforward and hassle free as possible. Through email reminders and social media, they’ll keep you up-to-date on important deadlines and other relevant information. And don’t forget you can still stay informed by reading your FVAP emails

– but also be sure to “like” us Facebook at and follow @FVAP on Twitter.


Elections Information for the November 8, 2011 General Election Register & Request Your Absentee Ballot


If you are an Active Duty or overseas voter and you have not yet done so, please follow this link and fill out the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), print it and mail it back. Note you also can use FVAP’s online wizard at By filling out the FPCA you are both registering to vote and requesting an absentee ballot for the upcoming November election. This form also serves to update your voting address if it has changed since you last voted.


If you have already filled out and submitted your FPCA or requested your absentee ballot, you should be receiving your ballot in the coming days.  If you have any questions, please visit the “questions and answers” section at or contact Ohio Secretary of State’s military liaison at or (877) SOS-OHIO (767-6446) ext. 4.


Ballot Tracking


When you receive your absentee ballot, please make note of the special tracking number which will allow you to follow the status of your ballot and verify that your county board of elections has received it once you have completed, signed and returned it.


Statewide Ballot Issues Information


In addition to voting on a number of local candidates and issues specific to your county, there are three statewide ballot issues on which all Ohio voters will have the opportunity to weigh in this November 8, 2011. You can read more about State Issues 1, 2 and 3 here.

For more information about the local candidates and local issues that will be on your ballot, contact your local board of elections.


Thank you once again for your interest in If you have tips or suggestions on how to make our updates more effective or would like to share ideas on what else we can do to be helpful, please contact the Ohio Secretary of State’s military liaison at or (877) SOS-OHIO (767-6446) ext. 4.




If you’d like more information on the Federal Voting Assistance Program or need help with the absentee voting process please go to or contact the FVAP at 703-588-1584 (toll free 1-800-438-VOTE) or email the program at And don’t forget to “like” us Facebook at and follow @FVAP on Twitter.