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Sgt Grit American Courage Newsletter - January 11, 2002

"He who is void of virtuous attachments in private life, is, or very soon will be, void of all Regard for his country." --John Adams

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Richard, (my husband), never really talked a lot about his time in Viet Nam other than he had been shot by a sniper.  However, he had a rather grainy, 8 x 10 black & white photo he had taken at a USO show of Ann Margaret with Bob Hope in the background that was one of his treasures.

 A few years ago, Ann Margaret was doing a book signing at a local bookstore.  Richard wanted to see if he could get her to sign the treasured photo so he arrived at the bookstore at 12 o'clock for the 7:30 signing.

 When I got there after work, the line went all the way around the bookstore, circled the parking lot, and disappeared behind a parking garage.

 Before her appearance, bookstore employees announced that she would sign only her book and no memorabilia would be permitted.  Richard was disappointed, but wanted to show her the photo and let her know how much those shows meant to lonely GI's so far from home.

Ann Margaret came out looking as beautiful as ever and, as 2nd in line, it was soon Richard's turn.  He presented the book for her signature and then took out the photo.  When he did, there were many shouts from the employees that she would not sign it.  Richard said, "I understand.  I just wanted her to see it".

She took one look at the photo, tears welled up in her eyes and she said, "This is one of my gentlemen from Viet Nam and I most certainly will sign his photo.  I know what these men did for their country and I always have time for "my gentlemen".  With that, she pulled Richard across the table and planted a big kiss on him.  She then made quite a to do about the bravery of the young men she met over the years, how much she admired them, and how much she appreciated them.  There weren't too many dry eyes among those close enough to hear.  She then posed for pictures and acted as if he was the only one there.

 Later at dinner, Richard was very quiet.  When I asked if he'd like to talk about it, my big strong husband broke down in tears.  "That's the first time anyone ever thanked me for my time in the Army", he said.

 Richard, like many others, came home to people who spit on him and shouted ugly things at him.  That night was a turning point for him.  He walked a little straighter and, for the first time in years, was proud to have been a Vet.  I'll never forget Ann Margaret for her graciousness and how much that small act of kindness meant to my husband.  I now make it a point to say Thank You to every person I come across who served in our Armed Forces.

 Freedom does not come cheap and I am grateful for all those who have served their country.  If you'd like to pass on this story, feel free to do so.  Perhaps it will help others to become aware of how important it is to acknowledge the contribution our service people make.
--- Mickey Conroy

Hi Sarge,
I ordered the Flag lights and received them a few days before Christmas.  My disabled former Marine managed to put them up on the house the day they arrived.   They are wired into the spot light that shines on the Flag in the front yard and waves proudly day and night.  This spot light has a senor on it that comes on at dusk, so the Flag does too.  Now, we live in the country and don't have much traffic but what there was slowing down to see the Flag lights. They are really great and nice to look at.   They will not be taken down with the Christmas light and put away.  These two Flags will fly forever!
#FL2, $12.95 each

Yes, the above is a blatant plug. But, hey...I pick the stories.
Sgt Grit

 I am a trouble shooter for a major telecommunications company. Quite often I have to travel for my company.  Usually this involves flying. Just before Halloween I was tasked with flying down to meet a customer and discuss how we solved a major problem they had.  This was just when the email hoax was going around that talked about a impending terrorist attack in shopping malls and or other high profile targets. I did not want to fly right then, but it was important.  I knew that both my employer and my country needed people to get on those flights and continue business as usual. Needless to say I was very nervous.  I needed something soothing and something that would inspire me to "get the job done... no matter what".  I put a miniature Eagle Globe and Anchor on my suit jacket lapel and a American flag pin on my shirt collar. I let my wife know that if there was a terrorist attack while in flight, and I did not come home, she could rest assured her Marine went down fighting...  Well the flight down went very smooth, but coming home was a little different.  Usually this flight is completely booked with up to 250 people.  For some reason this flight only had about 90 or so.  Everybody was nervous.  You could feel the tension.  As we were about 30 minutes into the flight the pilot came over the mike and explained that one of the flight attendants' husband was in the Marine Corps and shipping out to Afghanistan the next day. Furthermore the flight attendant herself was a Marine who had a distinguished career.  Everybody was paying very close attention.  The pilot went on to say that as a tribute he was going to sing the Marine Corps Hymn.  WHAT????  Yes!!! ladies and gentlemen, that is what he did.  In a VERY good tenor he sang the hymn over the mike and did not miss a word.  Being a marine and hearing this I had to do the right thing.  I UNBUCKLED MY SEATBELT, ROSE, STEPPED INTO THE AISLE AND STOOD AT ATTENTION!!! Afterwards I was able to chat with the attendant for a few moments. As I was deplaning the Pilot must have been looking for me. As I was approaching him he said in a voice where all could hear... "You were a Marine too!"  I paused, smiled and told him and said, "I still am...just not on active duty".  He looked at my EGA and American flag on my collar and replied, " as far as I'm concerned you were on active duty while aboard my plane!!!"  This memory will be with me until the day I die.
Sempre Fi
Paul Garrett
0311 74/77

"Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them." -George W. Bush

Sgt. Grit,
I would like to know where G. Kingsley in your last American Courage newsletter received his misguided information on Marine draftees in Nam. In boot my boot camp in '68 out of a platoon of 80, 9 were draftees. This was a platoon where the blood flowed freely because all of our DI's were Nam vets and knew where we were going.  Kingsley said a high percentage of draftees in that era were rejected as "unfit" or for failure to meet minimum M.C. standards. I want him to know out of the 9 draftees one was made squad leader. Out of the seven experts on the rifle range 2 were draftees. I know, I was one of them. We all went on to serve honorably in Viet Nam.  I do however agree with Kingsley as long as we don't need the draft there is no need to implement it. I know the Marines drafted in Korea and I believe we drafted in the World Wars. So Mr. Kingley, if we have to draft at some juncture you will find the draftees just as proud as you are!!
Semper Fi !
Wayne J. Hughes 1/3 RVN.

"Firmness based on strong defense capability is not provocative.  Weakness can be provocative simply because it is tempting to a nation whose imperialist ambitions extend to the ends of the earth."
--Ronald Reagan

"It is the coward who fawns on those above him. It is the
coward who is insolent whenever he dares be so." --Junius

This is a response to Mrs. J. Albritton. I have thought about the draft and how it may be a way to get some of these kids out of the rut they are in and back as productive members of society. This is how I feel.  If there is a draft it should be for both sexes and it should not be restricted to the armed forces. The draft should give these "teenyboppers" a choice. They can join a service, go to college, join the peace corps, or the federal government should bring back Y.A.C.C.(Young Adult Conservation Corps). If one of these doesn't work for them then I don't think we should give them any government assistance. Some of our young men and women are stuck in a rut and think they have it bad. If we are able to get them out of the rut and let them see another country they will see how good they have it here in the good ol USA. If they do stay in school, great. If Y.A.C.C is their choice kids that grow up in the city might be able to see how us folks that live out in the weeds do it.  I Joined the Corps in 1979 and served until 1984. I feel that the Marines
was a positive experience and like being a Marine. I do not think that someone should be forced to join the Marines or any other service. I feel that our young men and women should be given choices and opportunities.  Well that's my two cents, or that's all I got to say about that.
Semper Fi,
Paul V Sandoval Cpl

Sgt. Grit and fellow readers,
First I would like to comment to everyone in regards about John Walker.  I feel very angry towards this person that is labeled the American Tailiban!  I feel disgust every time I hear those words.  He isn't an American.  He joined forces with another nation.  I don't understand what the confusion is with that.  Well on to my husband is a Marine with the 15th MEU(SOC) and I finally spoke with him after a month and I would just like to say that I was told not to worry, he was well taken care of.  So if that's any piece
of mind to any of you I just wanted to share.  I also wanted to suggest to those who's daddy's are leaving their children for WestPak, war, or what ever, some nice things to do for the kids are of course taking pictures, but also taping the dad reading stories to the kids and some nights letting the kids watch the videos.  Just a thought, we've been there, are there now, and probably will be there again and again.
Semper Fi,
A PROUD Marine Family

"No man is free who is not master of himself." --Epictetus

Sgt. Grit, I am the mother of two sons presently serving our country in the U. S. Marine Corps. I am proud of them both for their willingness to serve our country . Both sons went into the service right after graduation from high school, they wanted to follow in their older brothers decision to be a Marine. One of my sons is coming up on his fourth year where he could choose to finish his time and leave or choose to re-enlist. He called me right after Sept. 11th to say he has made the choice to re-enlist and wants to make a career of the military. I pray every day for all our service
men and women. Thank you! to all who are serving now and have served our country in the past.  Proud Marine Mom from New Jersey

"Americans stand in jeopardy of
remembering Geraldo Rivera, Christiane Amanapour or Ashleigh Banfield as the heroes of the Afghan War. Relentlessly narcissistic and buoyed by cloying network anchors at home, reporters such as these have used dramatic license to heighten the sense of personal danger to themselves and thus tacitly direct their reporting towards the inevitable conclusion -- 'ain't I a hero?'" --Decorated Gulf War combat veteran John Hillen

Dear Sgt. Grit,
I'm a Navy Mom, but first and foremost, a Patriot's Mother.  I LOVE your newsletter.  My son and I share the same love of country as do your other readers and contributors.  I look forward to each and every newsletter.  At times, I even laugh out loud (re:  John Walker   "Do the words last cigarette and blindfold fit here"...Rich Galen).  Mr. Galen, YES THEY DO. And I recall a retired Marine Officer who had the courage to say on Fox News that in his
opinion Walker should be shot.  We all love our country, its freedom and the Sailors and Marines who make the dream live on.  God bless you all.   Kathy Constantino, A Patriot's Mother and Proud Navy Mom

   Just received your latest news letter, and once again want to tell you keep it up. it Is great to read what former MARINES like my self and those presently in the CORPS have to say.  Now I would like to comment on another matter, John walker, I think this breathing piece of shit should be stood up against a wall and shot. There is no way this traitor who turned against his country should have any rights, he gave them up when he joined the taliban. Some people are chomping at the bit to get this sorry jerk back to the USA so they can plead this poor misguided? a**es case, and make it sound like its everyone's fault but his.
Chuck Michalski
Cpl, MARINE CORPS, 62--66

In reply to Wm. Shirley's letter about Reserves and National Guard during Vietnam. While I'm sure there were many members of both that served honorably, it's no secret that many joined just to avoid service in Nam and laughed about it.  I support anybody that serves his or her country, no matter what branch of service, if service is their motive.  To have people that joined the Guard to keep their butts out of Nam honored as Vietnam "era" vets alongside Vets that were there [ and those that didn't make it home] SUCKS.
             G.C.Heilmann Cpl. USMC 1966-69

I just have one gripe about John Walker:-  The man turned away from America and joined an organization whose mission is to bring down America.  Why is it that such a person can be given the pleasure of morphine for the injuries he incurred while participating in that anti-American organization?  His pain is not my concern, nor should he be free of the discomforts he has earned as a traitor to my country.  His fait will be decided in due course ... until that day, save the morphine and let that naive boy who made bad choices suffer the results of his ill guided youth.
Brooklyn, New York

Sgt. Grit:
Yesterday I received your newsletter.  I passed it on to my Mom and was driven forward by the messages included.  Thanx for your patriotism, thanx for your dedication, and thanx for caring!  Those of us that have not served in the Armed Forces but have listened to the sorted tales of Western Union Messages to our Mothers during WW II, lost boyfriends and loved ones during Vietnam, volunteered in veteran Hospitals, as well as worked as fire-fighters and law enforcement officers on the streets of America fighting hard to preserve the dignity of those found in the throws of conflict due to past experience and circumstance during the past decades and the present revel in your dedication.  Thanx and "salute" to your mission.

My son currently serves with the USMC at Camp Pendleton and during December, I received the greatest gift of a little child...a grandchild...a little girl...legacy to the spirit and resolve of the USMC.  She will revel in the spirit of her father and his mission to make freedom free for her.  Thanx to you and yours.  Thanx to those I have lost in War and welcome to the spirit of history and resolve the Marine Corp has given to my son and his family.

May the New Year enter with resolve, spirit, camaraderie and dedication.  I will forever remain faithful.  Semper Fidelis!  Bye for now.  Be safe!
cathy lou (Stanton-LeMay) HOLM

This is in response to a "Cpl.James Bell". Corporal I hope this will shed a little light.  You said that our Marine Corps didn't "need or want any draftees" but only those who desired to serve.  You see I was drafted into "our" beloved Corps in April 1968. By September I was "in country " and fighting a war that you know nothing about, but according to you I was not wanted by the Marine Corps which means that the lives I was responsible for saving were not worth anything because I was a draftee. Next time you should think of the people who were there because their country called and they answered. Just one more little tidbit of information for you to think about, in April of 1968 when I was inducted into the Armed Forces all branches were drafting. The letter reads," You are here by ordered to report for induction into the "Armed Forces" of the United States. That notice was not branch specific so this is one "Draftee" who is proud to claim the title of United States Marine.  Cpl. Roger A. Reynolds
RVN 68/69 Kilo 3/7 1st Mar.Div.

ps I also have two sons currently serving in "our" beloved Marine Corps. Semper Fi especially to the 18 other guys who were drafted that day in April 1968, the Corps got a "Few Good Men" on that day.

I was just reading your news letter " American Courage" Thank you for it.  I was struck by the letter written about being called a "baby Killer" Reminded me of my last year and a half at Quantico Virginia. I was a corporal and had the privilege of owning and having a car on base. You might think this would be good. Well I did to until I was pulled over by a cop close to base ( this was 1967) I was arrested for drunk driving though I had absolutely nothing to drink ( on my honor this is true) I was taken to a lock up where I was put through more than this American Jerk the Marines now have in Afghanistan, yes the baby killer came up as well as my bathroom privileges were taken away??? Remember they did not have breathalyzers at that time just a cops word! I think about other cases of police brutality that have since come to light and I wish I could roll back a few years! It was really not such fun there were at least 4 cops in the precinct that were having a party calling me these things, of course I was hand cuffed. Wish I could have another shot at that deal.  Thanks  Roy Casto  Simper Fi

  I read your note on Sgt Grit's letter wanting info on the Marine who had his foot amputated.  The current Marine Corps Times had a small article on the Commandant awarding him the Purple Heart.  His name is Cpl Christopher Chandler (age 21) and he is at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.  Hope this helps.
Semper Fi,
SSgt John Baker

Every Marine that I meet knows the history of the corps front to back, and they all take a moment to show that pride on the Birthday of the United States Marine Corp, to bad the other services don't respect/remember their groups like you guys do.  I thought that some of the other military groups that read this might like to know the dates that they can reflect on.

Birthdays that you should always remember are:

United States Army=June 14, 1775

United States Navy=Friday, October 13, 1775

Marine Corps=November 10, 1775

United States Coast Guard=August 4, 1790

United States Airforce=September 18, 1947

Now I have taken all the excuses out of "you don't even know the birthday of your own Military Group" .

William DuMong, USN

Sgt. Grit:
I would like to respectfully offer my views in response to the
e-mails from my brother Marines who oppose the draft. I agree that the mostly volunteer history of our beloved Corps is important, and, without question, I agree that the Corps wants only those who have the metal to be Marines.  I am not certain, however, that the issues surrounding the importance of a draft in a democracy are fully understood, and, in addition, I do not think we give enough credit to former Marines who served our beloved Corps well, and, often, with notable courage under fire in prior wars. I think it important to understand that universal service may be more important now than ever given the well documented disconnect in recent decades between the military and the civilian world and, increasingly, a Congress filled with individuals with no military service.  To illustrate the benefits of universal service (i.e., a draft), I would direct my fellow Marines' attention to mandatory military service in
Israel which has not only insured that their country survives in the midst of utter chaos, but also guarantees that every Israeli citizen understands the price of their hard won independence and freedom in the midst of totalitarian regimes and terrorism.  Clearly, 9/11 has given the American public a new awareness of the importance of the military, and, I am proud to say, of Marines who are
performing admirably despite the Pentagon's and Army Southern Command's reluctance to timely or fully use Marines in Afghanistan(NOTE: an MEU/SOC was in the Indian Ocean the day of the attacks, and a second float was ready to go in long before a Navy carrier was waylaid for an inconsequential PR show with a few hundred late arriving Rangers who were neither of sufficient
numbers, nor organized with sufficient supporting arms or equipment to sustain themselves in combat any more than in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993 when they got themselves into a major blunder without even planning for a relief force).
Notwithstanding the surge of patriotism following 9/11, the vast majority of young people in America have not been sufficiently encouraged much less prodded to join the armed  services.  The chance for the disconnect between the  military and civilians increases with each passing month if we do not mandate universal military service and some form of public service for those not physically able to serve. In my view, we risk the French Foreign Legion model where the French citizenry have historically distrusted their military and consistently opposed American military action, even sided with despots like Saddam Hussein for all the wrong reasons, despite having the U.S. having saved their liberty in two world wars. A few of the "Old Breed" survivors of Belleau Wood paid the price for French freedom in WWI.  I am not advocating drafting Marines absent extreme need in war (as the need arose during Viet Nam), but I recall that retired Col. (then Captain) Dabney who skippered India, 3/26 in the 77 day Hell on Hill 881 South during the siege of Khe Sanh looked for any differences between his volunteers and drafted Marines, and found no significant difference in performance.  One must remember, all enlisted Marines went through the forge of boot camp...all earned the title of Marine.  As to the other services, America would directly benefit from the involvement of all physically and mentally capable young men and women for several reasons.  First, they would gain the self-respect of serving their country. Second, all families would
have a direct interest in the commitment of troops to battle which is absolutely necessary in a democracy. Third, if it was understood that all able bodied young men and women would be drafted, individuals would expect to serve as a rite of passage, and, most likely, volunteer in services that they prefer. Fourth, if we ignore this untapped reserve of youth and current sense of patriotism, we fail in a fundamental way to challenge and educate our youth in order for them and all of society to fully understand the sacrifices that are necessary to preserve freedom.
Semper Fi,
John G. Fears
1st. Lt., Truck Co., 1st FSR/FLC
RVN - '69-'70

Sgt. Grit,
More than once I've been called "weird," but occasionally I find myself singing (in my head, of course--the world is not ready for the shock of an actual verbal rendition from me) the last verse of "The Star Spangled Banner."  It occurs to me that a lot of people in our fair land have forgotten (or probably never read) that last verse, so here goes:

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.  Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto:  "In God is our trust."  And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Of course, if certain individuals did read it, they would likely start up a movement to replace the whole song with something less "controversial" (too militaristic and/or religious) as our national anthem.  But it says some things that have been overlooked for a long time, at least until 9/11/01.  We see and hear, "God Bless America" frequently these days, but we should be saying, "America, bless God."  We need to remember to "praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation."
--Tom Downey
(1963-'76, Vietnam '66-'67) once a captain, USMCR, always a Marine

I Am America

I am a warrior
Where now do I wage war
I am freedom
Chained to the tower door
I am the screams
Of six thousand toppled souls
I am America
Where the candle of hope still glows
I am strong
But helpless where I stand
I am the tears
Where blood will stain the sand
I am the Eagle
Who still soars on mighty wing
I am America
Where the bells of liberty ring
I am a shield
Before the place the sheep can hide
I am the lion
Who weeps before the tide
I am the bear
Who in anger leaves the cave
I am America
Land of the free;
Home of the brave

Spykes 09/01

Sgt. Grit:
      On New Year's Eve I sat with the widow of a Port Authority Police Officer who was killed on 09/11/01. He husband was a former Marine whose body has not been found as yet. At his Memorial Service held at the end of September, Paul was represented by a picture of him in his Marine Corps dress blues. Even in death, his pride of having served in the USMC was evident to his widow and his family, hence the choice of his memorial picture.  On New Year's Eve, Maria and I talked about Paul's son choices for the future. She somewhat nervously stated that sometime after graduation from high school he would enlist in the Marine Corps. He has already spoken to some recruiters. Maria asked of me, a former Marine, questions about what he could expect from the recruiters and upon his entry into the Marine Corps. Having served in the Corps from 1966-1969 my military experiences are of a different time but being the father of an active duty Marine, I volunteered my son to give young Paul a picture of what to expect.  My pride in being a Marine so many years ago, now being the father of a Marine, and seeing today's young men volunteering as young Paul, in his father's memory, is doing, fills me with awe. I served with many heroic men in Khe Sanh, RVN. My son is serving with present day Marine Corps heroism. One of the former Marines who lost his life this past September is being remembered by his son's volunteering to continue the tradition of The Few, The Proud, The Marines.  Given the opportunity, I will attend a future graduation at Parris Island and, at that time, will welcome a Former Marine's son into the brotherhood of Marines.  Semper Fi !
      Former Marine Cpl. Kevin C. Macaulay

Hi Sarge and all you Marines. I'd like to share some thoughts about our kids today. Most get a bad rap for not caring or being aware of what our military does. For the past four years one of our local high schools told their teachers they wanted to do something special for veterans on Veterans Day.  The student body came up with the idea of having a breakfast for all veterans and their families from 0700 till no more showed up. This has been a great success and has mushroomed into other schools who also want to thank veterans for what they have done. They refuse any donations, they only want to say thank you in the best way they can, they have fund raisers through the year for this special occasion and are very happy to see all the vets turn out on this day. Every year it gets bigger and it's spreading out through the whole state. Some of them wear their hats backwards and wear sloppy dungarees and listen to that loud music but in their hearts they know the sacrifices that have been made for them and they do appreciate it. Of course we always get the 10%. These are the ones that get the publicity, but we know that the 90% shine through in spite of this. I started a TV show for veterans five years ago and we always have these kids on for guest and they always impress me with the knowledge they have about veterans. We are very proud of these kids, actually they are young adults. I've seen many a vet come out of that veterans day breakfast with a tear in their eye knowing that these "rotten kids" today do care about their veterans and the sacrifices they made. We are also proud of our show "The Veterans View."  It's a call in show, and we have a one hour slot from 8 to 9 p. m. We signed on for 13 weeks and five years later we're still there. Thanks for letting me sound off about our kids, who we think are very special and with them our country has a very bright future.  L. J. Nadeau U. S. M. C. 1951-1954  Korea

God Bless America!!
Semper fi!!
Sgt Grit

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