American Veteran News Memorial Day 2016

ROLLING THUNDER ROARS INTO D.C. FOR THE 29TH TIME — WASHINGTON TIMES — Listen. It’s the collective roar of motorcycles on a mission, their faithful riders on the same route to the same cause: to draw public attention to the needs of military veterans, and the unanswered question surrounding prisoners of war and those still missing in action. Welcome to “Rolling Thunder” — the perfect name for one of those most patriotic events on the planet. These riders did roll, and there was thunder during the 29th “Ride for Freedom,” on Sunday in the nation’s capital.

“Never forget all of our prisoners of war and those still missing in action from all wars, and never forget our veterans of all wars. That’s our message, and that’s our mission,” said Artie Muller, who served in the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division in the jungles of South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos at age 20. Years later, he went on to found the feisty group that took its name from a combat operation.

Operation Rolling Thunder was the U.S. military code name for the long-term bombing of North Vietnamese targets in the mid-1960s.

This year, the ride had added star power. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made an appearance at the big event in mid-afternoon near the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall. Wearing his signature crimson “Make America Great Again” baseball hat, Mr. Trump vowed to “rebuild” the U.S. military, tend to the needs of vets and to shore up the nation’s porous borders.

PAIR JOINS FORCES TO LOCATE, RETURN REMAINS OF VETERANS MISSING IN ACTION IN VIETNAM — THE ADVOCATE — Having served in the Air Force in Thailand during the Vietnam War, Ed “Cowboy” Lewis has lamented the struggles of his era’s veterans, especially those who became homeless. His nonprofit organization, Ride of the Brotherhood, tried to create a home for such veterans, though that may have hit a dead end.

But he seems to be nearing a breakthrough for those he considers the ultimate homeless.

In April, Lewis, who lives in Lacombe, got approval from the Vietnamese Ministry of Defense to assist with locating the remains of missing servicemen from both sides of the war.

“There are 1,200 American soldiers that are still unaccounted for in Vietnam, and over 300,000 Vietnamese soldiers that are unaccounted for,” Lewis said. “Why don’t we work as a joint effort? We help them find theirs, and they give us permission to find ours.”

The April journey was Lewis’ second trip back to Southeast Asia, having led a group of veterans to visit in 2014. Also on that trip was Donna Elliott, an Arkansas resident who has been going to Vietnam often since 1999 in hopes of finding what happened to her brother, Jerry Elliott, who was declared missing in action following a battle at Khe Sanh on Jan. 21, 1968. Her difficulties getting cooperation from Vietnamese and American officials — the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has an office in Hanoi — have helped motivate Lewis’ efforts.

VET TRAVELS FROM ARIZONA TO HELP FIX DEFACED VIETNAM VETERAN MURAL AHEAD OF MEMORIAL DAY — NBC LOS ANGELES — Word of a vandalized Vietnam memorial in Venice, California, inspired scores of veterans — some from as far as Arizona — to clean up the spray-painted mess ahead of Memorial Day.

Extensive graffiti — a thick sheen of silver paint — covered the mural, which bears the names of 2,273 veterans who vanished in Vietnam and has stood untouched since 1992.

LA County Sheriff’s Department investigators showed up Saturday night to assess the wall on Pacific Avenue near Sunset Court and take pictures.

“This is about as bad as burning an American flag, stomping on it,” said John Scudder, a Marine veteran of 11 1/2 years who brought his construction truck and paint remover to help organize a cleanup. “Just like that flag is a symbol of freedom, this is a symbolization of names of people who gave their lives for this country.”

VETERANS SITES IN CALIFORNIA, KENTUCKY, VIRGINIA DAMAGED — ARMY TIMES — LOS ANGELES — Memorials to veterans in a Los Angeles neighborhood and a town in Kentucky, as well as a Civil War veterans cemetery in Virginia, were damaged as the nation prepares to mark Memorial Day, officials said.

A Vietnam War memorial in the Venice area of Los Angeles has been extensively defaced by graffiti. The vandalism occurred sometime during the past week, KCAL/KCBS-TV reported. The homespun memorial painted on a block-long wall on Pacific Avenue lists the names of American service members missing in action or otherwise unaccounted for in Southeast Asia.

News of the vandalism came as another veterans-related memorial was reported damaged in Henderson, Kentucky. Police say a Memorial Day cross display there that honors the names of 5,000 veterans of conflicts dating back to the Revolutionary War has been damaged by a driver who plowed through the crosses early Saturday.

In Virginia, the Petersburg National Battlefield has apparently has been looted, the National Park Service said. Numerous excavations were found at the Civil War battlefield last week, Jeffrey Olson, and agency spokesman, said in a news release Friday. Petersburg National Battlefield is a 2,700-acre park marks where more than 1,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died fighting during the Siege of Petersburg 151 years ago.

CHILDREN OF FALLEN TROOPS COME TO DC TO HEAL AND PLAY — T&P — At an event in the nation’s capital, 500 children of fallen service members gathered for a day of fun and healing.

On May 28, 500 children of fallen service members gathered in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., for Playfield in the Park, an event put on by Yellow Ribbons United and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS.

The day was part of TAPS’ third annual National Good Grief Camp, which pairs children of fallen service members with military and veteran mentors over the course of Memorial Day weekend.

For 10-year-olds Landon and Tyler, the camp is an opportunity to create new memories and friendships with those who understand their grief and loss.

“I realized that fallen heroes, like I have, everyone here was just like me,” Landon told Task & Purpose. “Everybody here had a parent or a loved one from all the branches of the military who passed away in the line of duty.”

A GOLD-STAR WIFE’S MESSAGE TO VETERANS: HONOR THE FALLEN BY LIVING — T&P — Jane Horton lost her husband in Afghanistan. She urges veterans on Memorial Day to honor fallen troops through living.

On Sept. 9, 2011, my husband, Spc. Christopher Horton, was killed in action in Paktia, Afghanistan. My world shattered. As I struggled to look through the kaleidoscope lens that made up my life, I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t eat, and I could barely breathe. I didn’t understand why God would take away my husband so soon, or why he chose me to live on alone and carry this great burden. I was drowning in grief, heartbroken and almost hopeless.

Throughout my long four and half years of being a war widow, nothing has been harder for me than to learn to live — when all I wanted to do was die. There have been many sleepless nights where I have laid on my face praying and crying my eyes out, and many mornings where I rolled up into a ball, asking for God to take me, or somehow spare me from this pain. I didn’t want to be here anymore, I didn’t want to face the day.

To live means so much more than just struggling to function. I may have still been breathing, but I wasn’t alive. After all, life is so much more than just breath. There was no life left within me — only a broken, devastated heart that struggled to carry on and somehow project a kind of artificial life. I was going through the motions, painting lipstick on and plastering on a fake smile every morning just to get through the day. I was only a fraction of the person I had been before, and fought hard to make it through each day.

DENIAL OF MILITARY HONORS AT ARLINGTON STINGS WASPS — AP — SWEETWATER, Texas — It’s been a difficult year for fans and former members of the U.S. Army’s Women’s Airforce Service Pilots.

The WASPs, if you are unfamiliar with local history, were female pilots trained in Sweetwater during World War II to fly military aircraft in the United States and Canada. The first women who applied for the civil service jobs were required to already have 500 hours of flight time (compared with 200 for men), received lower pay than any male counterpart, and could only fly the smallest trainers or liaison aircraft.

That changed over time, at least partially. Eventually, only 35 hours were required for entry. But more importantly, the 1,102 WASPs who served during the war ended up flying every type of aircraft in the nation’s arsenal.

WASPs ferried aircraft across the country, or performed flight duties while training male pilots. Two WASPs flew the B-29 bomber, notorious then for catastrophic engine fires, and demonstrated to the reluctant male pilots that it could be done safely.

REMAINS OF 13 MORE WORLD WAR II MARINES FOUND ON TARAWA — AP — The founder of a volunteer group says it has found the remains of 13 more World War II Marines on a Pacific atoll.

Mark Noah, head of Marathon, Florida-based History Flight, tells The Associated Press that 12 sets of remains were found on Tarawa between January and March and a 13th set of remains was found this week.

The Pentagon’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency confirms more remains have been found, although it couldn’t confirm the number. The agency says it will return the remains to the U.S. this summer.

Last year, Honor Flight found the remains of 35 Marines on Tarawa, which is part of the island nation of Kiribati, and the Defense Department found a 36th set.

All were returned to the U.S. The Pentagon says 23 of them have been identified.

THIS MEMORIAL DAY, WEAR A POPPY — MILCOM — When did Memorial Day become synonymous with, “Hey, we can get a queen-sized mattress at a discount?”

We had just moved into our newly purchased home at our newest duty station. As luck would have it, the oven that came with the house gave out just weeks after moving day.

“Well, Memorial Day is coming up soon, we can get on sale that weekend,” my husband said, barely glancing away from the television.

That rubbed me the wrong way — the idea that he automatically associated Memorial Day with appliance sales. And, if I think about it, it can be associated with mattress sales, car sales, furniture sales … the list goes on and on.

In 1868, Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed the official date of the first Memorial Day, writing in General Order No. 11: “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

In 1921, inspired by a poem, a woman named Moina Michael wrote,

MEMORIAL DAY IS A ‘NATIONAL ALL SOULS’ DAY’ — NORTH CAROLINA REGISTER — Memorial Day 2016 falls on May 30, the day it was celebrated for decades after it began as Decoration Day to honor the war dead after the Civil War.

Some veterans and Catholic military chaplains described what the solemn day means to them.

“I would liken it to a national All Souls’ Day, as far as a Catholic chaplain goes,” observed Father Carl Subler. A chaplain on active duty with the U.S. Army, he has served in Iraq, Afghanistan and various bases around the United States, most recently at Fort Drum, N.Y. A priest of the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, he has been a chaplain since 2007.

We commemorate all the faithful departed on All Souls’ Day, while on Memorial Day, “I pray specifically for those who have died in our nation’s wars, whether you agree with them or not,” explained Father Subler. “I pray for their souls and the special sacrifice they made for our nation.”

He also prays specifically for those he ministered to overseas, as well as those who lost their lives in past wars.

HONOR GUARDS STRUGGLE TO MEET DEMAND WITH FEWER VOLUNTEERS AND MORE FUNERALS — WCPO — CINCINNATI — Men and women in sharp uniforms stand at attention. A flag is folded and handed to the next of kin. Taps plays. The guns fire in salute.

Those who perform those duties at the funeral of military veteran are called an honor guard. It is a noble calling, and one that is in high demand these days. As funerals for veterans increase, the number of veterans to perform honor guard duties decreases.

“It is harder than it used to be,” said Wayne “Hutch” Hutchison, the Ohio chief of staff for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Hutch served in the Navy in the first Persian Gulf War. “Specifically, a lot of us combine honor guards to make sure our veteran heroes are given a proper burial.”

MAKING THE MOST OF ACTIVE-DUTY RETIREMENT PAY — USAA — Years before you hang up your uniform and leave active-duty military service, you will need to make a major decision about your retirement pay.

If you entered on or after Aug. 1, 1986, you’ll be asked around your 15th year of service to choose between two different retirement plans. The High-36 retirement plan is so named because it’s based on the average of your highest 36 months of basic pay, while the CSB/REDUX option comes with a $30,000 Career Status Bonus. The small number who entered the service before that date are automatically covered by the Final Pay or High-36 plan. See the chart below for the full range of options.


Viewers in Arizona and across the country are raising money for a World War II veteran from Chandler, who was scammed out of his life savings.

Jack Holder survived Pearl Harbor and went on to fly missions over both the Pacific and Europe with the U.S. Navy.

This spring, thieves convinced Holder, who is 94, that he’d won a “Publishers Clearing House” jackpot. They told him, he simply needed to pay the taxes on the $4.7 million and new Mercedes-Benz upfront, before he received the prizes.

Holder wrote checks totaling $43,000 before he realized he’d been scammed.

THOUSANDS OF MILITARY MEMBERS DENIED CRUCIAL VETERAN’S BENEFITS FOR REPORTING SEXUAL ASSAULT — THINK PROGRESS — Liz Luras carried three American flags over her shoulder in a Memorial Day march this weekend. Each represented a veteran who committed suicide after leaving the military. To Luras, this honor is especially meaningful, since she knows it could easily be her flag waving beside theirs.

Luras is one of the many soldiers featured in a new Human Rights Watch report who were “honorably discharged” from the military after being the victim of rape or other sexual assault.

Despite passing a meticulous mental health screening when enlisting in a top-secret military intelligence position, Luras was discharged after multiple rapes for having a “personality disorder,” or PD. Now, more than 15 years after her discharge, she continues to be denied jobs, health benefits, and general respect for having papers marked with “PD” — a condition that many mental health professionals, including ones within the VA, have told her she doesn’t have.

“I was on the path to West Point. I wanted this to the be my career,” she said. “But when you enlist for the military, you don’t realize that the system of justice warriors are fighting for doesn’t apply to them.”

LIVES OF VETERANS INSPIRE A DEEP SEARCH INTO HISTORY — DETROIT FREE PRESS — Sgt. Norman Stewart appeared dazed and scared as he stood at the rear hatch of the B24 bomber.

Only moments had passed since the Michigan-made bomber, affectionately called “Ole Baldy” by the crew, had been badly hit by fire from a German fighter during a World War II mission that had gone terribly wrong. The crew was being ordered to bail.

Stewart, a 19-year-old tail gunner who had graduated from Farmington High School about a year earlier, seemed hesitant, too disoriented or too injured to jump on his own. So his crew members had to push him out, according to official accounts.

It was the last time anyone saw Stewart, killed in action during that Sept. 27, 1944, mission.


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