Military stories from past to present, both wars.


June 13th, 2007 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

This is a letter from my Dad. It could be a two part letter to the people, but I told him it was fine as stated. There are so many things in this piece that ring true and need to be said. I truly believe that we are on the brink of something very big here in the world between our cultures and people.
Anyway, I asked him to write something for you, so here he goes.

Combat Deaths are part of victory,

In the 18th, 19th century, WWI and WWII, Americans believed in their military leaders and believed in a military VICTORY. They understood that only victory ends a war. We did not achieve victory in either Korea or Viet Nam. Those “wars” never ended. What has happened to our nation? Why do we not allow the military leaders to do their jobs? Why are the politicians now running the wars, retreating at every possible turn?

My uncle served with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy during WW II. My grandfather’s younger brother served in WW I in France. My great-great grandfather served and died in Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg. One great-great-great grandfather served in the War of 1812 and my other great-great-great grandfather in the Revolutionary War. My father-in-law served as a Naval Surgeon during WW II and Korea.

My brother-in-law served as an NFO (Naval Flight Officer known as a “back-seater”) in the F-14 during the Cold War with Communist Russia in the 1970s. My first cousin served in the Korean Conflict. I served in Viet Nam 1967-1968 in I Corps during the Tet Offensive. I am the first in my extended family to have made the military my career. Did we, the living, and our ancestors go to war just so this country could go down in defeat?

I lost a daughter in an accidental fall so I know the loss of a child and the pain it brings. I feel for every parent who lost a child in combat, or brother or sister who lost a sibling or wife/child that lost her husband/their father due to war. But do combat deaths mean we retreat and wait for an enemy that has a stated purpose of killing or subjugating our country and the world we know? It appears that the sole purpose of almost all news broadcasts is to daily report on, drone on and dwell upon on the number of our troops killed and wounded in our current conflict daily followed by the accumulated total since 2003. Nothing positive is reported about what our troops are doing in Iraq and around the world.

According to DOD numbers, we suffered 4,435 deaths during the American Revolution, 2,260 deaths during the War of 1812. Let us skip over the numbers during the Indian, Mexican, Civil and Spanish American Wars. During WW I, we had 53,402 deaths, 63,114 other deaths in service not in theater. WW II we suffered 291,557 battle deaths, and 113,842 other deaths in service not in theater. What would our lives be like if we had surrendered and withdrawn from any of these wars/conflicts? Would we be speaking German or Japanese?

In the Korean Police Action, we had 33,741 battle deaths, and 2,835 other deaths in theater. In Viet Nam we had 47,415 battle deaths, and 10,785 other deaths in theater. In neither war was the outcome a clear VICTORY for the USA. The politicians, the anti-war movement and the “being tired of war” populous movement won out over victory.

Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-1991) we lost 147 battle deaths, and 235 other deaths in theater. We achieved the goal of kicking the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, but stopped short of removing Saddam Hussein so as not to destabilize the region politically or militarily. We know the results of this failure to achieve total VICTORY. In 2001, nineteen dedicated, fanatical men killed over 3,000 innocent people in the attacks of 9-11.

We serve/served in the military for various reasons, we try to do our best and we try to win! According to DOD and VA figures, over 42 million men and women have served during our wars, over 650,000 died in our countries’ defense, 524,000 died in other deaths in service (non-theater) and 1,431,290 non-mortal wounds were recorded. I repeat. Political figures need to lead this nation to VICTORY not to defeat. This is done by supporting the troops and not using their funding bills for political advantage, retaining office or adding earmarks for their home states. We are no longer isolated by the two large oceans east and west from missile attack or the suicide bombers who desire to bring in and detonate a nuclear/biological or chemical weapon. Sadly, victory comes with losses in our military ranks.

As a child, I remember the dark air raid window shades, the troop convoys constantly going by our house, and being taken to the railroad bridge to count the 150-200 long flatbed trains hauling planes, trucks, jeeps, trailers, tanks and artillery to Norfolk, Virginia, to be shipped to Europe for the invasion. I will not forget the joy and celebration when VE day was announced, and we all went downtown to Lynchburg’s main street to cheer and dance for joy.

We gave up a lot of things so the troops would have the best of everything; no one really complained. The only dessert we had occasionally was Eagle Brand pie with vanilla wafers as a crust so we could save the rationed sugar. I later learned this was only a lime squeeze away from being the Key Lime pie everyone knows it as today. Gasoline was rationed and the Sunday afternoon drives in the mountains of Virginia stopped.

Ask yourself; are you ready to stop getting your Starbucks latte or stop driving your gas hogs even with today’s gasoline prices? What, then, are you doing for the war effort today?