Homeland Vol. 1 Number 9 â€˘ November 2014
We Are Homeland Honoring Our Veterans A Lifetime of Commitment American Boys: A true story of the lost 74 WAR DOGS
Real stories from real heroes: service members, civilians, veterans, the wounded, and the families that keep it together
HOMELAND / November 2014 1
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HomeLand Publisher Michael J. Miller
Contributing Writers Wounded Warrior Project Linda Kreter Rick Rogers CJ Machado Louise Esola Vanessa Ruiz Barry Barton Steve Wilson Vickie West Starr Pamela Stokes Eggleston
Public Relations Linda Kreter CJ Machado Graphic Design Trevor Watson
Greetings and a warm welcome to HOMELAND Magazine! Please take some time to get to know the layout of our magazine. Homeland Magazine focuses on real stories from real heroes; the service member, the veteran, the wounded and the families that keep it together. Our magazine is driven by passion, vision, reflection and the future. The content is the driving force behind our magazine and the connection it makes with service members, families, veterans and civilians. Homeland is about standing your ground, resilience, adaptation, inspiration and solidarity. HOMELAND is inspirational, “feel good” reading; our focus is on family, military and civilians alike. I believe HOMELAND is where the heart is, and our publication covers a wide variety of topics, and issues about real life and real stories. We are honored to share the work of so many committed and thoughtful people. They say San Diego is a military town, I find that San Diego is a HOMELAND town, where military and civilians work and live together. We appreciate your support and are so happy to have you as a reader of HOMELAND Magazine. With warmest thanks, Michael J. Miller, Publisher
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Homeland Magazine is published monthly. Submissions of photographs, Illustrations, drawings, and manuscripts are considered unsolicited materials and the publisher assumes no responsibility for the said items. All rights reserved. Homeland Magazine 13223 Black Mountain Road, #168 San Diego, CA 92129
858.877.3421 Contact Homeland Magazine at: email@example.com www.homelandmagazine.com
Homeland Inside This Issue
6 Golf and Wounded Warriors 7 USS Midway Host Veterans Day Activities 8 Washed Clean and Never Forgotten 10 Changing of the Guard 11 Unknown Soldier 12 Transforming Lives in San Diego 13 Pawn Stars Veterans Day Wishes 14 American Boys: Lost 74 17 Operation Homefront
Did You Know?
18 Va Loan Myths Debunked
21 REIG Operation Renovation 24 Lifetime Commitment WWP 28 War Dogs 30 100th Anniversary of WWI
How much do you know about Veterans Day?
HOMELAND / November 2014 5
Golf and Wounded Warriors – A Perfect Match By Pamela Stokes Eggleston
Compassion and Camaraderie Purple Heart recipient Sgt. (ret.) Dan Casura has played golf for four years. He has grown to love the game of golf and adores the connection and camaraderie he has with the San Diego Chapter of Tee It Up for the Troops (TUIFFT), a nonprofit supporting wounded warriors and their families. “They are a huge factor in the reason why I was able to start this game” says Casara. Golf involves strength, endurance, and mental concentration – a true mind-body connection. It also fosters solidarity and peer to peer relationships. Phil Galchutt, Tee It Up’s San Diego Chairman, says that “the golf event is really not the focus but the warriors are just like everyone else in that they love competition. They enjoy playing in a tournament even though sometimes they may not be able to hit the ball but only putt or something. It is the camaraderie that means so much.” In a direct and impactful way, golf heals and helps wounded warriors. In fact, it is moving meditation; you have to become focused on the ball alone at that precise, present moment. For wounded warriors, this singular action is what takes their minds off of things that may be negative so that they can focus on golf and enjoy themselves.
HOMELAND / November 2014
TUIFFT, a national nonprofit based in Minneapolis, Minnesota with chapters throughout the country, raised more than $ 4 million nationwide over the past decade. The San Diego chapter recently completed its 10th Annual Tee It Up for the Troops San Diego Appreciation Golf Tournament on October 6th, hosting 160 golfers, including active duty service members and wounded warriors from Camp Pendleton and the surrounding areas. Proceeds from this event will benefit Freedom Station located at the San Diego Naval Medical Center, which houses injured veterans transitioning to civilian life, some of whom also attended the event.
Giving Back through the Game of Golf Casura received his first set of clubs from James “JB” Ball, Founder of Tee It Up for the Troops. Since then he has helped build the San Diego Appreciation Golf Tournament and says that giving back in this manner is what he is compelled to do. Galchutt, who has been involved with TIUFFT since 2005, would like to grow the golf event for 2015 but says it has proven to be a challenge as corporations are decreasing their sponsorship budgets. His “renewed focus is on raising awareness: everything else will naturally follow.” And within the 3 years of the Appreciation Golf Tournament, $231,000 has been raised to directly support local programs to include the Wounded Warrior Surfer Program, the Freedom Station, Boys and Girls Club, and others. Says Galchutt: “we look to give funding to organizations that make a boots on the ground, immediate impact – a tangible, personal connection to service members and veterans.” For more information, please visit http://www.sandiegoteeitupforthetroops.org/.
Thank You to My Neighbors
USS Midway Hosts Veterans Day Activities By Vanessa Ruiz, USS Midway Museum The USS Midway will honor Veterans and active-duty military with a “Veterans Day Celebration for All” presented by Booz Allen Hamilton, November 8-11. The popular museum is dedicated to honoring those who serve country and community. Recognition events regularly are held on Memorial Day Weekend, July 4, Veterans Day, 9/11, and Pearl Harbor Day. Kicking off the celebration is the first annual Military Book Fair on Saturday November 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. aboard the Midway. The book fair will benefit local veterans organizations and feature New York Times bestselling authors, celebrities, panel discussions and more. Guests have the opportunity to meet Hank Steinberg, creator and producer of the TV show The Last Ship, and Without a Trace. Top authors scheduled to attend include: Iris Johansen, Catherine Coulter, James Rollins, Ted Bell, Andrew Kaplan and others. Admission to the book fair is free with museum admission. On Veterans Day, November 11, the USS Midway Museum will be the center of San Diego’s Veterans’ Day events. Midway is the presenting sponsor of the official Veterans Day Parade and the host venue for the San Diego Blood Bank Veterans Blood Drive and NBC San Diego’s “Salute to Service Festival,” presented by Geico Military. The San Diego Bloodmobile will be parked on Navy Pier alongside the Midway from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donors will be awarded a pass to visit the museum while supplies last.
Joe Ciokon, MCPO, USN (Ret.) Volunteer Public Affairs Officer
10 USS Midway Admission
Just for San Diegans! As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, we know San Diego’s support has made Midway’s success possible!
To make an appointment to donate, or for more information, please call 1-800-469-7322 or visit www.sandiegobloodbank.org.
So for a limited time, San Diegans can purchase adult admissions for only $10! That’s a 50% discount!
The USS Midway aircraft carrier float will be one of many floats that will march in the San Diego Veterans Day Parade on November 11 at 11a.m. along Harbor Drive. The parade is free of charge to view and recognizes the contribution of all of our Veterans from every branch of the Armed Forces in all areas of service. This year’s parade is a “Tribute to Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans” and will include a welcome to all the U.S. Veterans who served during the war years 2002-2014. Following the parade all those in attendance are invited to continue the celebration aboard the Midway at the NBC7 San Diego “Salute to Service Festival” presented by Geico Military, from 1pm to 4pm. Attendees will enjoy free food, live entertainment, and sweepstakes entry with military ID.
“Thank You, San Diego!”
For more information on “A Veterans Day Celebration for All” aboard the USS Midway and event details please visit the USS Midway’s website at www.midway.org. www.homelandmagazine.com
(619) 544-9600 • www.midway.org Tickets available at www.midway.org and at the ticket booth during museum hours. May not be combined with other offers and cannot be resold. Proof of ID with a San Diego zip code required at time of purchase. #202
HOMELAND / November 2014 7
Washed Clean and Never Forgotten: The Cleaning of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall By Linda Kreter
I still remember when I first visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. Clear memory has blurred over the years, but not the first glimpse of that black granite slash of a wall with the carved names of 58,195 fallen in the jungles in Vietnam. My uncle served two tours – and I am forever grateful that his name is absent from this bold and moving memorial to courage and valor. The Vietnam War was very controversial; the draft, the anti-war protests, the enormous body count, and residual hideous effects of Agent Orange, the defoliating agent used to clear areas to see the guerrilla fighters. The Memorial Wall itself created controversy when in an anonymous selection process, former Yale student, 21-year old Maya Lin’s design was chosen. Its cunningly simple wall design with 58,195 names carved into the granite was confusing in a town full of more traditional memorials. Later two statues were added to satisfy that debate; the Three Servicemen Statue and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Stature to offset the feelings of some that the Wall was merely a giant tombstone. Today, the Wall is one of the most visited sites in Washington, DC. In the beginning when the wall was opened in 1982, many veterans could only bear to visit the Memorial at night; to be unseen and to privately mourn their fallen friends and memories. Some veterans have never visited the wall, and instead close the door on that part of their past. But for those that visit, most feel a fascinating need to locate, then touch or trace the name of their loved one. Over time, those finger and hand smudges and tracings leave marks, and so does nature. The National Park Service is formally tasked with keeping the Memorial clean, but later efforts were augmented with the help of volunteers, led by veteran Jan Scruggs of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, who was discouraged that bird droppings had filled in some of the engraved names. Mr. Scruggs is known to have handed 37 toothbrushes to visiting veterans one day, who then scrubbed the grime away. Today, veteran’s organizations and the Park Service work more closely together and every spring and summer weekends, volunteer cleanings take place. Mementoes left at the wall are collected daily, catalogued, and added to the Memorial Collection. The wall is washed early in the morning, as sunrise is the rare time when the wall is not busy with visitors. Though this is a solemn task, many speak of the honor and humility they feel in reviving and refreshing the dark granite wall, making it pristine for the coming week’s visitors. Volunteers are welcomed, as are children (who are often the great-greatgrandchildren of those named on the wall) who wash the lower portions of the wall where they can reach. It is not difficult physical work, but it can be intense, and even a time of draining remembrance. Each year, over 3,000,000 visitors will come to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Powerful, sobering, proud, and very compelling – we honor our Vietnam Veterans and those whose names will be literally touched and renewed every week.
For more information on visiting or volunteering to clean the Wall, contact the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund at www.vvmf.org, or call them at 202-393-0090. HOMELAND / November 2014
The wall is washed early in the morning, as sunrise is the rare time when the wall is not busy with visitors. Though this is a solemn task, many speak of the honor and humility they feel in reviving and refreshing the dark granite wall, making it pristine for the coming weekâ€™s visitors.
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THE CHANGING Of
Changing of the Guard Ritual
he guard is changed every hour on the hour October 1 to March 31 in an elaborate ritual. From April 1 through September 30, there are more than double the opportunities to view the change because another change is added on the half hour and the cemetery closing time moves from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. An impeccably uniformed relief commander appears on the plaza to announce the Changing of the Guard. Soon the new sentinel leaves the Quarters and unlocks the bolt of his or her M-14 rifle to signal to the relief commander to start the ceremony. The relief commander walks out to the Tomb and salutes, then faces the spectators and asks them to stand and stay silent during the ceremony. The relief commander conducts a detailed white-glove inspection of the weapon, checking each part of the rifle once. Then, the relief commander and the relieving sentinel meet the retiring sentinel at the center of the matted path in front of the Tomb. All three salute the Unknown who have been symbolically given the Medal of Honor. Then the relief commander orders the relieved sentinel, “Pass on your orders.” The current sentinel commands, “Post and orders, remain as directed.” The newly posted sentinel replies, “Orders acknowledged,” and steps into position on the black mat. When the relief commander passes by, the new sentinel begins walking at a cadence of 90 steps per minute. The Tomb Guard marches 21 steps down the black mat behind the Tomb, turns, faces east for 21 seconds, turns and faces north for 21 seconds, then takes 21 steps down the mat and repeats the process. After the turn, the sentinel executes a sharp “shoulder-arms” movement to place the weapon on the shoulder closest to the visitors to signify that the sentinel stands between the Tomb and any possible threat. Twenty-one was chosen because it symbolizes the highest military honor that can be bestowed -- the 21-gun salute. Duty time when not “walking” is spent in the Tomb Guard Quarters below the Memorial Display Room of the Memorial Amphitheater where they study cemetery “knowledge,” clean their weapons and help the rest of their relief prepare for the Changing of the Guard. The guards also train on their days off. The Guards of Honor at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are highly motivated and are proud to honor all American service members who are “Known But to God.”
The Guards of Honor at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are highly motivated and are proud to honor all American service members who are “Known But to God.”
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Sentinels of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and in any weather by Tomb Guard sentinels. Sentinels, all volunteers, are considered to be the best of the elite 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), headquartered at Fort Myer, Va. After members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment become ceremonially qualified, they are eligible to volunteer for duty as sentinels at the Tomb. If accepted, they are assigned to Company E of The Old Guard. Each soldier must be in superb physical condition, possess an unblemished military record and be between 5 feet, 10 inches and 6 feet, 4 inches tall, with a proportionate weight and build. An interview and a two-week trial to determine a volunteer’s capability to train as a tomb guard is required. During the trial phase, would-be sentinels memorize seven pages of Arlington National Cemetery history. This information must be recited verbatim in order to earn a “walk.” A walk occurs between guard changes. A daytime walk is one-half hour in the summer and one hour in the winter. All night walks are one hour.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF UNKNOWN SOLDIERS
ach year on Nov. 11, the U.S. celebrates Veterans Day in honor of those who have fought — and those who have died — for the country. Wreath-laying ceremonies take place at cemeteries across the land, including at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Though the commemoration officially began in Arlington as Armistice Day, with the burial of an anonymous World War I soldier at the Tomb of the Unknowns in 1921, the occasion didn’t become a federal holiday in the U.S. until 1938. (In 1954 its name was changed to Veterans Day.) Accounts differ on when the tradition began in Britain and France, but most experts surmise that the first burial of unidentified soldiers at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris took place in 1920, a year before the practice took root in the U.S.
The first known ceremony to honor unknown soldiers dates back to the Peloponnesian Wars in ancient Greece, where an empty stretcher was carried in tribute to the dead. Before Armistice Day in 1921, one of the earliest such commemorations in the U.S. was a granite sarcophagus dedicated in 1866 at Arlington in remembrance of the 2,011 unidentified soldiers who died in the U.S. Civil War. www.homelandmagazine.com
The original Unknown Soldier buried at Arlington in 1921 was among four who had previously been interred in France. Once the caskets were exhumed, Sergeant Edward F. Younger, a decorated officer, walked around them several times and arbitrarily chose one of the four by placing a handful of white roses upon its top. The coffin lies in a tomb adorned with the phrase, “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.” In subsequent wars — including World War II, Korea and Vietnam — a solitary unidentified soldier was selected to be honored with an Arlington burial. Other nations have also adopted the ceremony. In Canada, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added to the National War Memorial in Ottawa in 2000, when the casket of a Canadian soldier from World War I was disinterred from a French cemetery and flown across the ocean for burial. Iraq, Australia, Denmark and several countries in South America commemorate their unknown dead in similar ways.
of DNA testing in the 1980s and ‘90s, the tradition of burying an unknown soldier has begun to decline. Most soldiers around the world are now required to supply blood samples upon joining the military to ensure their bodies can be identified if they are slain in the line of duty. Although military personnel put their lives at risk for their countries, this requirement, at least, can provide closure to families who might otherwise never be able to lay their loved ones to rest.
The tradition took on great power — in the past, the Pentagon took great pains to ensure the bodies of unknowns remained unidentified, even going so far as to destroy relevant documents about where bodies were discovered and with what, if any, personal effects. But with the advent
HOMELAND / November 2014 11
Homeless Vet Programs Transforming Lives In San Diego By Rick Rogers San Diego VA Public Affairs Office
San Diego County Veteran Center outreach program is quietly transforming lives of homeless veterans in ways they never dreamt while helping save taxpayers money in the bargain.
About a year ago San Marcos Vet Center director Joe Costello began the “Mobile Outreach for Homeless Veterans” initiative to increase veteran enrollment in the VA healthcare system and connect veterans with housing options.
Veteran Steve Webb talks to Veterans Affairs Social Worker Nikima Loureiro at the Veterans Affairs Mobile Vet Center in Downtown San Diego. The weekly program aims to provide homeless Veterans with basic resources. (Photo by Christopher Menzie, VA San Diego Healthcare System)
“Now starting Sept. 1 for the first time since 2002, I’ll have a roof over my head (an apartment in South Bay),” said Watson unable to check his tears. “This has changed my life. Now I tell all veterans about this program.” Likewise, former sailor Joey Bergman, 52, recently sought VA help after being homeless for “eight or nine years.” “I didn’t understand how all the services worked,” said Bergman, who like Watson suffers from numerous ailments. “I just felt the VA was for people with bigger problems than what I had.” Veteran Samual Faulk fills out information with Veterans Affairs (VA) Military Service Coordinator Robert Hill II. The San Marcos Vet Center has started a weekly outreach program to offer basic health services and other resources to homeless Veterans through the VA Mobile Vet Center in downtown San Diego. (Photo by Christopher Menzie, VA San Diego Healthcare System)
Costello, an Afghanistan war veteran, leads one of the busiest centers of its kind in the country. He saw a need for outreach in San Diego County and worked to fill it. A key focus is the roughly 1,300 homeless veterans living in and round the city of San Diego. “We needed to be on the streets,” Costello said of the program he spent three years building, “taking the assets we and our community partners, like the Veterans Village of San Diego and Interfaith Community Services, have and delivering them to the veterans who need them the most. That’s the only way we can really make an accurate needs assessment and to properly serve our homeless veterans.” At first veterans were reluctant to seek help. But thanks to the Vet Center’s steady presence the barriers melted away now and up to 40 homeless veterans a week are coming forward. “When I first saw the mobile van, I thought: Is the VA going to do what it’s always done in regards to homeless vets – nothing?” said Tim Watson, 57, a former airman, who has lived on San Diego streets for more than a decade. “Then the van (mobile Vet Center’s RV outreach clinic) showed up the next week and the next and the next. When I knew they were here for the long haul, I came forward.
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Costello wants to expand mobile outreach to the Midway District and other pockets of homeless veterans. Studies show that delivering psychiatric and health care to the homeless saves about $16,000 per person every year by cutting emergency room visits, hospitalizations and incarcerations. Capitalizing in part on Vet Center inroads, a VA pilot program is providing medical care and housing never before seen by San Diego’s homeless veterans. The VA’s pilot Homeless Patient Aligned Care Team program – or H-PACT – is a national program operating in more than 40 cities nationwide. The program is proving so successful here that San Diego’s H-PACT program ranked second in the entire nation at lowering emergency room visits by its veterans. Estimated savings last year totaled nearly $730,000. That amount is now believed much higher since the number of veterans enrolled has doubled to more than 200 and rises weekly. “The whole point of H-PACT is point-of-care access,” said Dianne McGuirk, the program’s care manager in San Diego. “We want to be where homeless veterans are to provide care.” San Diego won selection for H-PACT pilot program in 2012 when the VA was designing ways to fulfill its ambitious 2009 promise to house all homeless veterans by 2015. The VA envisioned one-stop shopping for hard-pressed former military members that would connect them to medical care, employment and housing.
Honoring our Beloved Heroes: ‘Pawn Stars’ Veterans Day Wishes
Veterans Day Special
ALL DAY Nov. 11th, 2014
Military Eat FREE
All Vets & Active Military get a Free Entree on Tuesday, Nov. 11th. Drink purchase required. Valid for meals $10.99 or less. Dine in only. Military ID or other proof of service required, DD-214 preferred. One offer per person. Offer Valid 11.11.14. Not valid with any other discounts. Other restrictions may apply.
By CJ Machado Richard Benjamin Harrison, Jr. also known as “The Old Man” from the History channel’s reality TV show Pawn Stars served in the Navy years ago. A fellow San Diegan at one time, he served in the military for twenty years, retiring in 76”. As viewers of Pawn Stars know well, the Harrison’s support veterans and are always interested in military items and often highlight rare and historical items. When asked “why did he join the military?” “The Old Man” responds “I joined the military because I wanted to serve my country”. ‘Homeland Magazine’ would like to honor “The Old Man”, who admitted role on the 2nd highest rated reality TV show is to be “The Old Grump”. Pop’s would like to send out a message to all our servicemen and women… “We should love all Americans, but those who serve our country deserve a bit more love. All Americans are great, but members of the military are even greater”. www.homelandmagazine.com
Don’t Miss Military Mondays! 20% off Food & Merch w/ Valid I.D. Ask your Hooters Girl for details.
HOMELAND / November 2014 13
american boys: The true story of the lost 74 of the vietnam war
By Louise Esola On June 3, 1969 the only warship to sink in the Vietnam War took 74 American sailors to their watery grave. The young men on the USS Frank E. Evans were typical of their generation; mostly draft-induced fresh recruits barely a year out of high school. Their ship had just come off the gunline along the coast of South Vietnam, firing five-inch shells to support Marines on the ground. Battleweary, the Evans was an old tin can destroyer left over from World War II, kept on the line only to fight in Southeast Asia. In a tragedy of chance and circumstance, she sank in three minutes into dark midnight waters, with a full war allowance of ammunition and men on board. Three of the lost were brothers. One man would survive only to learn his son did not. When the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was erected over a decade later, the ship and her men had been forgotten, lost in the turmoil of the country’s unpopular war. American Boys is their story.
November 1982 In a city of white stone buildings and marble statues of great men long gone, they made an incision in the earth. From the fresh-laid grass rose a place to communicate with the dead. The leaves had turned gold, and there was a slight chill in the air. At dusk, as those in three-button suits who often decided the fate of the nation
made for home under a purpling sky, workers polished the black granite, tracing the letters with their fingers. They, like the others, were taken aback by the immensity of it all: My God, the price in chiseled typeface. A terrible folly set forever in stone. Nearby, a long procession of monotone syllables echoed within the National Cathedral, like the reading at a holy day service: John . . . Robert . . . Dale . . . James. Each one a story. The somber homecoming parade had begun.
Ann Armstrong Dailey was one of many on the way to Washington National Airport that second week in November. The nation’s capital seemed even busier than usual. Election day had just passed, and Thanksgiving was still to come, yet the hotels were booked solid. The incomers were less official, less touristy—no Three brothers, Boatswains Mate Second Class Gary Sage, Radarman Third briefcases, no boxes of Class Greg, and Seaman Apprentice Kelly Jo Sage, were killed on the USS Frank E. Evans on June 3, 1969. Photograph courtesy of Linda Vaa.
HOMELAND / November 2014
Kodak film. Some wore ragged U.S. Army fatigues, medals over denim, embroidered patches that told their stories. Some had beards and long hair. They looked like they’d been to hell and back— they wore it on their faces. A few carried signs: “Never Again” and “Never Forget.” There were the old couples, too, the ones whose hair, and lives, had gone gray. They walked with canes, weighed down by grief. These people, pouring into Washington that fall, had a bond. “It was as if they were all drawn by the same ghostly bugle,” a newspaperman had typed. Their eyes still welled up if you asked them about that time—the day the telegram came, the moment they held a hand for the last time, the day they lost their youth, the time when they knew everything that was would never be again. A line between then and now. A barrier hard and cold as stone. Ann was looking for her youngest sibling, thinking of another. She remembers Alan in a black bow tie and suit at Patricia’s wedding in Edmonds, Washington. It was May 1968, at an uncle’s old farmhouse— Chubby Checker on the record player, buttercream frosting, the constant flash of the Kodachrome. There’s one photograph in particular. It’s a
snapshot of two beautiful sisters, one in a red sleeveless number Jackie Kennedy might have worn around Camelot, the other in delicate lace, crowned with a swath of snowwhite tulle. Their mother faces them. Alan stands tall, to their right, gazing forward. He’s a young, stoic patriarch, in dark-framed glasses. His whole life ahead of him. It might be a cliché, but it was true nonetheless, and it’s how his sisters remember him. So young. By then the women knew Alan would do what sailors do: ship out. There was this war. A place no one could find on a map a decade before had become a hot zone—a dirty word on college campuses, a name intoned on almost every newscast. Vietnam. A little over a year after the wedding, it would take their Alan. A decade drifted by; they woke to a new one. People were saying the war had been a waste, a mistake, a wrong turn in the fog. “Was there a point when the looming collision might have been averted?” one Vietnam War historian would ask. Rhetorically and with no answer.
USS Frank E. Evans, DD-754. Courtesy of the USS Frank E. Evans Association
And now two women found themselves woven into the droves descending upon Washington in the fall of 1982. All of them longing for meaning, for a chapter that would close the book. Something that memorialized their loss in a war nobody wanted to remember. Something that said: This all really happened. There’d been nothing like that. Nothing. Nowhere. And then came the wall. The idea of a memorial to the more than 58,000 Americans killed in the Vietnam War was born in March 1979, the child of Hollywood and a tortured combat veteran who couldn’t sleep. As it did so many, the war haunted Jan Scruggs. The flashbacks were always the same. He’s a skinny kid, slogging along a trail in the hellfire heat when the sound of gunfire pierces the silence. Or buddies are unloading an ammunition truck, and a crate full of mortars goes off. Its nothing you want to remember, nothing you could forget. They’re all dead. Just like that. One year out of high school, most of them, just like him. By 3:00 a.m. Jan’s in his kitchen. The neck of his whiskey bottle rattles against his glass. That www.homelandmagazine.com
Sage brothers opening mail on the fantail of the USS Frank E. Evans on May 25, 1969. From Left to right, Greg, Gary, and Kelly Jo, reading his birthday card from his mother. Kelly Jo turned 19 on May 29. Sent to the Sage family from the United States Navy in July 1969.
night he had gone to the theater with his wife to see The Deer Hunter, Hollywood’s bloody depiction of bluecollar America’s war, Jan’s war, the one nobody cared about anymore. Nobody will remember their names, he thought. They fought and died because their country told them to, sent them there, and no one will remember them. “I’m going to build a memorial to all the guys who served in Vietnam,” Scruggs told his wife the next morning over breakfast, the bright sun streaming through the window. “It’ll have the name of everyone killed.” At that time few Americans knew precisely how many had been lost in Vietnam. Nobody had a number to go with the nation’s longest war. Yet it had touched every town and every city. It became a page in American history few wanted to write, or even confront. The memorial’s design was as controversial as the war it commemorated: one prominent Vietnam
veteran would call it a “black gash of shame,” though it was also likened to the harsh listing of the dead in Homer’s Iliad. A chevron in stone, it simply listed in chronological order the names of those killed in the Vietnam War. Rather than uplifting white, a massive headstone to trumpet a life lived, it was funeral black. Stone cold, dark and final as death, it made no attempt to glorify the loss. The wall said only: This happened. The lawmakers who fought ferociously for the memorial, the ordinary people who wrote letters to the papers, the journalists, the talk shows, they all, finally, said the same thing: the wall represented a decision, a peace, a consensus. Wholly funded by individual donations, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial belonged to the people. “They were ours,” the guys who didn’t come home, a newspaper columnist would write. It was that simple. Months before the unveiling that November, an engraver at the Binswanger Glass Company in Memphis, Tennessee had just done her work. The woman took a cloth to the dark panel of granite, her eyes moist. She cleared the dust, and then polished enough to see her reflection and a name—her own brother’s.
Continued on page 18
HOMELAND / November 2014 15
Continued from page 17
The true story of the lost 74 of the vietnam war
felt for many like a turning of the tide, a new beginning. People converged on the National Mall morning, noon, and night. As the New York Times put it eloquently, “Americans continued to arrive at the wall even after darkness fell. . . . They bore the slow grief of the Vietnam time , in left , illy Re and indulged in the simplest sort of human ce ren Master Chief Law son, Boiler Tender memorial, the act of touching stone, feeling conference with his ce Reilly. Courtesy Third Class Lawren the cold, stony texture of the engraved names ation. oci Ass ns Eva E. of the USS Frank of the dead that shows up by flashlight and in the wavering glow of matches struck in the dark.”
For Ann, who lived about ten minutes from the memorial site, it was something she needed to do with Patricia, then living on the opposite coast in Oregon. She couldn’t see Alan’s name alone, so finite and cruel. Ann
The outpouring of emotions triggered by the wall would never be equaled in this town. Immediately, people began to leave offerings at the foot of the dark granite, and they would never stop: medals, packs of Marlboro Reds, black-and-white photos,
The last photo of the Armstrong sisters with their brother Alan Armstrong, killed off the coast of Vietnam in 1969. The sisters were the first to discover that Alan’s name had been left off the Vietnam Wall. Photograoh courtesy of Ann Armstrong Dailey. The wall had a poignance the likes of which Washington had never seen. From day one, it seemed, the world stopped to see the names. And it would keep coming to see them, decades later. It was about that time—sometime in the fall of 1982, before she drove to the airport to pick up Patricia—that Ann discovered that Alan’s name was not on the list that she would have read aloud at a lectern in the National Cathedral. That it wouldn’t be on the memorial. Surely there was a page missing. Someone had made a mistake— hadn’t they? Patricia already had her plane ticket. If Ann told her over the phone she wouldn’t come. And Ann needed her sister.
USS Frank E. Evans sailors drinking at a bar in Subic Bay. From left to right, Seaman Michael Clawson, Seaman Francis Garcia, Seaman Apprentice John Sauvey, Seaman Frederic Messier, Seaman Tom Vargo Courtesy of the Messier family. followed closely the news about the memorial in the making. At the nudging of someone who knew well about her brother and through her connections in Washington, she volunteered to read a section of names of the Vietnam dead. The vigil was carefully coordinated, enlisting the help of hundreds to read all 57,939 names, nonstop, over the course of fifty-six hours. That Ann would read Alan’s name would be ceremonious. An opening and a closing all the same. It was time. She wanted Patricia, her only living sibling, to be by her side. The dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
HOMELAND / November 2014
teddy bears, letters, and flowers. A mother wrote to her son, “I am the one who rocked him as a baby. I am the one who kissed away the hurts.” Almost overnight the wall became a place where veterans embraced and wept. One pointed and said, there he is, that good lieutenant. A chum scribbled a note to a fellow he called ‘Smitty: “Perhaps, now I can bury you...I won’t again see you night after night when the war reappears and we are once more amidst the myriad hells...” Some stood a hundred yards away, unable to face coming closer. Years later a suffering old veteran would take his life under an oak tree near the memorial.
Ann told Patricia right away, in the car at the airport. She couldn’t have hidden it if she’d wanted to. Patricia wanted to fight it. But it was lost in the parade; the whirlwind that came with the new memorial. Phone calls went unanswered. A television news interview faded after a few sound bytes. They dealt with it together—their anguish forgotten, their brother Alan, left behind. Something as simple as a name not on a wall. Something as devastating as a name left off that wall. “It was like he was dead all over again,” Patricia would say, remembering the days in Washington. Louise Esola is a journalist whose work has appeared in numerous publications including UT San Diego, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Associated Press, and Foreign Policy. Excerpt adapted from American Boys: The True Story of the Lost 74 of the Vietnam War by Louise Esola (Pennway Books, $19.99). www.homelandmagazine.com
Operation Homefront Serves Military Families with Field Office in San Diego By Vickie West Starr
peration Homefront (OH) is a national non-profit that leads more than 2,500 volunteers with nationwide presence who provide emergency and other financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. Jack Chirrick is the executive director of the California field office, headquartered in San Diego, which is one of seventeen OH field offices across the U.S. “It is an honor to live in and be a part of the San Diego community,” said Chirrick. “The military is a big part of that community, and my team and I are committed to enriching the lives of our wounded, ill, and injured veterans and military families with a variety of programs from emergency assistance to morale building events. Our military community makes a lot of sacrifices to take care of all of us in the community, and it is our privilege to be here to stand by them and provide support where it is needed.”
Operation Homefront has met more than 949,000 needs of military families since its inception in 2002. Nationally, 95 percent of total donations to Operation Homefront go directly to programs that
provide support to our military families. For more information, go to www.OperationHomefront.net.
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His team is currently planning twelve morale events for the end of 2014 and includes distribution of toys and holiday meals to military families. Military families interested in attending these events can log on to Operation Homefront. net for times and locations, and to register to attend. Operation Homefront has three transitional housing villages including the Southern California Village located in Oceanside. The village offers Wounded Warriors a place to call home as they transition out of the military. Service members and their families live rent free in a fully furnished apartment that has all the amenities of home. While at the village, the service member is assisted in establishment of financial sustainability. Workshops, groups, and social gatherings allow residents to be a source of support for each other and develop a sense of community.
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HOUSING / REAL ESTATE home in San Diego for up to $546,250 without a down payment? And if you have a down payment, you can go much higher with VA!
VA Myth #3: I Can Only Have One VA Loan at a Time The VA allows Veterans to buy homes using “partial eligibility”. Veterans can use any remaining partial eligibility to purchase as many homes as the math allows. This is great information for active duty military who move often and prefer to buy a home wherever they are stationed.
VA Myth #4: Qualification Standards are Harder Let’s face it, more paperwork and conditions are required for all loan types these days. The great news with VA is that income and credit standards are actually more flexible. So even if it feels like a mountain of paperwork is being requested, we find that the VA is still very often the best choice.
VA loan Myths - Debunked California is home to the most active duty and prior military Veterans of any state and yet, our beautiful state ranks 35th in the percentage of Veterans using their VA. Here is an example of what this means in numbers. North Carolina has 769,384 Veterans and 119,957 active VA loans. In comparison, California has 1,795,455 Veterans and only 116,860 active VA loans (http://www.va.gov/vetdata/veteran_population. asp). So in a state where over a million less Veterans reside than California, there are more active VA loans than in our state. Some argue, it’s because North Carolina has more active duty and lower prices. Neither argument holds up. California has 161,864 active duty stationed here, where North Carolina only has 106,689. Yes, North Carolina home prices are lower, but the VA loan doesn’t have a maximum amount, so it works equally well in both price ranges. These numbers and many others on the list make me cringe. Remember, we are 35th!
The VA Myth Epidemic In last month’s issue of Homeland, we revealed the overwhelming confusion caused by every lender having different overlays on VA loans. I am mentioning this again here because I cannot overstate the importance of understanding this core problem with VA. Until more of us are aware, we simply won’t know what questions to ask or how to avoid unnecessary problems when buying a home. The second part of this story is how confusion from overlays leads to multiple myths which are sabotaging veterans when we go to buy a home. Let’s start with more truths; most of us have never
HOMELAND / November 2014
been educated on the full benefit our VA loan offers us. As an air traffic controller, I spent three of my eight years of service in training on air traffic control duties. Counter this to the three minutes of VA loan information I received when leaving the military at my transition class. As with most things, I initially thought it was just me but I have spoken to enough fellow military and have encountered enough bad information working on VA loans these past ten years to know that this is another battle we must be aware of in order to win. So here is a quick list of the Top Ten VA Myths I have found that many of us erroneously believe.
VA Myth #1: My VA Loan Eligibility Expires or Can Only Be Used Once VA loan eligibility does not expire and we can reuse it. We have had clients use their VA for the first time at the age of 86 when it was earned in their twenties. We have also had clients who have used their VA as many as five times! And I am sure there are Veterans out there that can beat that record.
VA Myth #2: My VA loan Can Only Be Used to Buy My 1st Home The VA loan benefit works great for your 2nd, 3rd, and dream home too! Because there is no limit on the VA loan amount, other than a maximum loan amount set by each lender (remember those overlays), the VA can be used to buy your dream home. This commonly believed myth often keeps Veterans from buying a home in higher cost states like California and New York. In fact, did you know you can buy a
VA Myth #5: Purchasing a Condo is Just Like Purchasing a House Because many of us in San Diego purchase condos, it is important to know that condos must be VA approved in order to purchase them. But like the example in our last article, many lenders do not know how to search the VA condo list and neither do the sources they turn to (the Home Owners Association of the complex, the listing agent, or the lender’s own underwriters). Any military person will know what I mean when I say it is a government database, put into place over two decades ago and it is not Google. Please call us if you need help finding an approval or getting an approval for a condo complex not currently approved. We are here to help!
VA Myth #6: I Had a VA Foreclosure So I Cannot Use My VA Again You can use your remaining VA eligibility and use the VA again. Even better, we see partial eligibility being used without the Veteran being required to pay off any foreclosure loss the VA incurred. So please look at your VA first, even if you have had a foreclosure.
VA Myth #7: I Am Active Duty and the VA Loan is for Veterans The VA works for active duty, retired, prior military, reservists, etc.
VA Myth #8: VA Loans Don’t Work on Properties that are Foreclosures, REOs or Short Sales VA eligibility may be used to purchase these properties. In fact, just a few years ago, over 50% of our clients were using their VA to purchase one of these types of properties.
Continued on page 22 www.homelandmagazine.com
HOMELAND / November 2014 19
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REIG OPERATION RENOVATION: Paying It Forward, Our San Diego Miracle
By Barry Barton U.S. Navy I joined the Navy in summer of 2001 through the delayed entry program when I was a junior in high school. September 11 was a life changing experience for this country. When this event took place, I was writing my girlfriend who is now my wife, a letter in economics class. I had two choices: The first choice was to run and not fulfill the commitment that I gave to this country; or to keep my word, sacrifice everything, and defend America. I decided to give my life for our country. My plan changed from getting out after 4 years, to 8 years to join the Coast Guard; all of which did not pan out. I now plan on retiring in the Navy. I didnâ€™t have very much growing up, and the Navy has given me more experience and opportunities than I could have ever dreamed of. When I joined the Navy I had nothing, and now I have something. I owe this country, the Navy, and my fellow service members all that I have for what they have given my family and me. I married my High School sweetheart Cheryl, and we have three boys. Matthew is 9 yrs old and loves football. Christopher is 5 and is disabled due to Cytomegalovirus (CMV). Ethan is 3 and loves sports. www.homelandmagazine.com
My wife Cheryl does not work so that she can take care of our son Christopher. Christopher was born with congenital CMV, which has devastating effects on babies in utero. Christopher suffers from a severe case and is legally blind, deaf in both ears, he has Microcephaly (small head), Cerebral Palsy (CP), severe brain damage and developmental delays. He is developed as much as a 4 month old baby. Christopher requires 24 hour care, and Cheryl also somehow manages to take care of the other two boys and myself. The craziest thing about CMV is that no one knows about it! CMV is the leading cause of disabled children in the world. No one is talking about it. But, there is an organization called STOPCMV that is leading the way and talking to Congress. This is a huge concern and we only hope that people become more educated about the effects of CMV and ways to screen for it. On top of the stress that comes with having a disabled child, we now have to worry about our youngest son, Ethan, as well. We recently found out that the right side of his heart is enlarged. We would like to do a remodel so that Christopher and all of our children have a place that accommodates their needs. We have looked into making some of the upgrades ourselves, but it would destroy the little that we have in our savings account.
It wasnâ€™t until we saw a story about REIG OPERATION RENOVATION on KUSI TV that things began to change. REIG was holding a contest for about 100 Military homeowner Families, to apply for a home remodel, as a gift, by completing the application and having it reviewed by a panel. No strings attached, just an amazing local renovation and remodeling Financial Investment Firm, wanting to give back to the Military community. While we initially were a bit hesitant, we went for it. I understand about 60 families applied. When we were interviewed and then selected by REIG Company, we could not believe it! All of our dreams have come true. We look forward to the renovation and understand our home will be ready before Thanksgiving! We are so thankful and have such gratitude to REIG for what they have done thus far and what they will do for our family going forward. They became the biggest miracle of our life this year.
HOMELAND / November 2014 21
Continued from page 20
VA Myth #9: My Current Home is Upside Down, So I Can’t Move Up This one is one of my favorites. If you purchased a condo or small house several years ago when single and after marriage, several children, and a few promotions, you need a bigger home, the VA works. Even though the market has not completely recovered and your current home is upside down, the VA works. This may be the best news you have received since you purchased the home and the market crashed!
VA Myth #10: I Didn’t Get Approved By My Favorite Bank So I Have to Rent Remember those overlays? It is disheartening to realize that some of the most restrictive overlays are in place with lenders and credit unions that we trust the most and have been members of since bootcamp. I know what you are thinking but trust me when I say I have been a member myself for over 25 years and I love them for my car loans and insurance. But they often outsource their home loan services, they take a portion of the commission of the agents they call their preferred agents, and they are not leaving many clients happy. Don’t believe me? Here is just one example; take a look at USAA’s website and find their home buying reviews. Over one third of their loyal clients left a one star review for their VA loan service. If they were a restaurant, would that be the equivalent of finding a cockroach in your food? It doesn’t feel great to point this out but I am frustrated enough with over a decade of hearing sad stories that I feel compelled to share this with you so that you will get a second opinion. Especially if you were turned down by your favorite military credit union. A second opinion from us is free and could keep you from experiencing your own missed opportunity.
Contributed by Karen Bates, CPA Proud Navy Veteran and Co-Founder of Military Home Loans (619) 422-5900
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Get this special rate when you finance a Military Auto Center vehicle on Saturday, November 8, 2014 with Miramar Federal Credit Union. Terms & Conditions * APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Rate and term is based on credit worthiness of the borrower and income verification. 0.49% APR available for up to 36 month term on auto model years 2010 or newer with less than 50,000 miles. Sample Payment: .0.49% APR for 36 months on a $15,000 loan will be $419.85. First payment will be due 90 days after date of funding. Interest will accrue from the date funds are disbursed. Up to 120% financing of retail Kelly Blue Book value. Rate and offer are subject to change without notice. Vehicles must be purchased during the one day sale event.
Sale will be held at Miramar Federal Credit Unions parking lot at: 9494 Miramar Rd, San Diego, CA 92126
GEICO Salutes Our Veterans Thank you, for all who serve and have served. 75 years of service to the military Deployment storage plans Homeowners and renters insurance available through the GEICO Insurance Agency, Inc. Flexible military pay plans
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HOMELAND / November 2014 23
A Lifetime of Commitment Wounded Warrior Project
oday, America recognizes the heroes who have selflessly served and sacrificed for this country, and Wounded Warrior Project速 (WWP) joins a grateful nation as we say thank you. We honor the men and women who have bravely worn the uniform and remind them they are not forgotten. But how will we honor and empower them tomorrow and, more importantly, for a lifetime? The road to recovery is unique for every warrior, and it can be especially difficult for the most severely injured veterans, who often rely on a caregiver for long-term support and assistance. The WWP Annual Alumni Survey found three out of 10 WWP Alumni need the aid and attendance of another person because of their injuries and health problems; among them, more than onefourth need more than 40 hours of aid per week. What will happen to those warriors when their caregivers are no longer able to provide that care and support?
HOMELAND / November 2014
To provide those with the greatest need opportunities to define what independence means to them, it will take community support and public responsibility. WWP is stepping up to say we will be there. As part of our ongoing commitment to provide for those who have honorably served our country, WWP has committed $30 million in 2014 to cover both the immediate and long-term needs of 250 of the most severely injured veterans who, without this funding, are at the greatest risk of institutionalization. Provided by generous donors across America, this 2014 financial commitment will serve as the model for the decades of support WWP is prepared to provide to the most vulnerable warriors of this generation, ensuring they are able to live rewarding and independent lives. The funding supports two innovative programs, the Independence Program and the Long-Term Support Trust, to safeguard care and support as injured veterans and their families confront their long-term needs and goals. www.homelandmagazine.com
to quality support and services in the least isolated setting possible after their family members or caregivers are no longer able to provide care. This inaugural year will see up to 80 warriors enrolled in the trust, where they will have access to secured funding to cover the costs of up to 20 years of support services designed to keep these warriors in their homes or the least restrictive settings possible. The goal is to empower each warrior to live as independently as possible, with the highest quality of life and the finest, most compassionate care available. Through the trust, resources such as case management, life-skills training, home care, transportation, respite care, education and career-training, and residential programs will be available to injured veterans. No other organization is offering this type of long-term support to the most severely wounded service members and their families. Current rehabilitation programs typically invest heavily in the beginning of a warrior’s recovery from traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or other neurological conditions, but not during the longest and most defining phase of recovery, which begins with the return home. For warriors working through the compounding effects of both visible and invisible wounds, this longer-range, more strategic approach for care and independence is needed. In many instances, for the cost of one month in an in-patient institutionalized brain injury rehabilitation program, the WWP Independence Program can provide a year’s worth of community-based support on a weekly basis to an individual warrior. We have severely injured warriors transitioning home from rehabilitation programs, many of whom are in their 20s and 30s with decades of life ahead of them. WWP is stepping up to make sure they are cared for and provided opportunities and support to live life to the fullest for decades to come.
When we say we are committed for a lifetime, we mean it. To learn more about Wounded Warrior Project, visit woundedwarriorproject.org.
The Independence Program works with service providers in each warrior’s community to assist in identifying and achieving individualized goals, which restore meaningful levels of activity and purpose into their daily lives. The Independence Program pairs a specialized case manager with the warrior and family to develop a personalized plan that targets the warrior’s needs or interests. For many, this is the opportunity to participate in the types of daily tasks and meaningful activities many people take for granted. A roadmap is developed for each warrior based on their interests and goals for independence and quality of life. The Long-Term Support Trust provides a dedicated funding source to ensure the most severely injured warriors have access www.homelandmagazine.com
HOMELAND / November 2014 25
VA Home Loans for Veterans by a Veteran As a homeowner myself using my VA loan and as a multiple home investor, I understand purchasing a home is one of the biggest and most important purchases someone will make in their lifetime. Being a 10-year active duty Veteran as an Airborne Paratrooper, I know what it means to sacrifice your time away from civilian life and the abuse your body takes in the military. Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™ve made it my mission as a Loan Officer to reach out to other Veterans to assist with their Home Purchases. From pre-qualification to closing, I will be there to ensure that the loan process for your home goes as smoothly as possible. You will find that I strive to keep in contact with my clients throughout the entire process and to be easily accessible. In addition to VA home loans, I also specialize in FHA and Conventional home loans. BRE# 01147747 NMLS# 9873 Top Producer 2008 through 2013
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HOMELAND / November 2014 27
S G O D R WA
esent r P o t r a W il iv C s from r Canine Soldier
Honoring Ou By CJ Machado
We honor your service and will forever remember the lives that were given bravely to ensure our freedom. Dogs have served in warfare since ancient times. Throughout our nation’s military history, you will find stories of outstanding bravery and dedication of our canine heroes. These dedicated canines served as mascots, messengers, scouts, guards, trackers, sentries and first aid responders. These loyal companions also locate, comfort and protect the wounded after battles. Today, military working dogs go through vigorous training in facing combat, detecting explosives and chasing down the enemy. Our well-trained canine soldiers can parachute, rappel and swim. Hundreds of military working dogs put there lives on the line for us everyday. Remembering some of our most famous ‘War Dogs’ this Veterans Day...
Civil War 1861-1865
Union Jack was one of the best-known dog mascots in the civil war. The brown and white bull terrier mascot of the 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry was known to understand bugle calls and obeyed only the men of “his” regiment. Jack’s career spanned nearly all the regiment’s battles in Virginia and Maryland. The dog was present at the Wilderness campaigns, Spotsylvania, and the siege of Petersburg. After a battle he would seek out the dead and wounded of his regiment. Jack himself was wounded severely at Malvern Hill and was captured twice. He is the only dog known to have been traded for a Confederate soldier at Belle Isle.
World War I 1914-1918
Stubby, a stray American pit bull terrier was the most decorated War Dog of our time. He served nineteen months overseas and participated in seventeen battles. His most recognized valiant effort on duty was when one night all soldiers lay sleeping and he alerted a sleeping sergeant of an
HOMELAND / November 2014
World War II 1939-1945
impending gas attack. This allowed for all troops to place their masks on, avoiding imminent death. Stubby became a national hero and in 1920 was awarded a large silver medal from the Eastern Dog Club of Boston with the inscription “Awarded to the Hero Dog Stubby.” General John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing awarded Stubby a gold medal made by the humane society. He met three presidents including Woodrow Wilson, Harding and Coolidge.
Chips, a mixed breed German Shepherd, Husky and Collie was the only War Dog to have received the Purple Heart and a Silver Star, which were later rescinded due to the regulation prohibiting the issuance of medals to animals. While on morning patrol with his handler Pvt. John Rowell, 300 yards away, a camouflaged pillbox opened fire. Chips immediately broke loose and charged the enemy soldiers. Moments later, the machine gun fire stopped and an Italian soldier appeared with Chips slashing and biting at his throat. Three Italian soldiers followed with their arms raised in surrender. After receiving a minor scalp wound and powder burns from the confrontation, later that night, Chips led to the capture of ten more Italian soldiers trying to attack the unit. www.homelandmagazine.com
Korean War 1950-1953
York, a Military Working German Shepherd served from June 12, 1951- June 26, 1953. He completed 148 combat patrols. No patrol member was ever killed while York led point. General Samuel T. Williams awarded him the Distinguished Service Award for his outstanding performance.
ceremony on December 21, 2008. Lex was awarded the “Commemorative Purple Heart” on February 16, 2008. Lex now lives in peace and harmony with the Lee family in Quitman, Mississippi. There are thousands of canines that have dedicated their lives to serving our country and we regret that we could not share each of them individually in this article. Many thanks to Michael G. Lemish, Military Working Dog Historian ‘Forever Forward K-9 Operations in Vietnam’
Vietnam War 1954-1975
Lex, a Belgian Malinois, U.S. Marine Corp Bomb Sniffing Dog served two tours of duty in Iraq and was wounded in action at the side of his handler, Corporal Dustin Jerome Lee, who was killed on March 21, 2007. Although severely wounded, Lex stayed and protected Dustin until help arrived and they were physically separated. Lex was retired from the USMC in a “nationally televised” www.homelandmagazine.com
War dogs were used by the Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Sarmatians, Alans, Slavs, Britons, and the Romans. The Molossus dog of the Molossia region of Epirus was the strongest known to the Romans, and was specifically trained for battle. Among the Greeks and Romans, dogs served most often as sentries or patrols, though they were sometimes taken into battle. The earliest use of war dogs in a battle recorded in classical sources was by Alyattes of Lydia against the Cimmerians around 600 BC. The Lydian dogs killed some invaders and routed others. During the Late Antiquity, Attila the Hun used giant Molosser dogs in his campaigns. Gifts of war dog breeding stock between European royalty were seen as suitable tokens for exchange throughout the Middle Ages. Other civilizations used armored dogs to defend caravans or attack enemies. The Spanish conquistadors used armored dogs that had been trained to kill natives.
Nemo, a sentry German Shepherd, alerted his handler Robert Thorneburg to several Vietcong hiding in a cemetery within the base perimeter. Thorneburg released Nemo and several shots later he heard his dog crying in pain. Thorneburg went looking for his faithful companion and killed one VC before being wounded by return fire. Nemo crawled across his master’s body and refused to let anyone get near him. The reaction team finally convinced Nemo to leave Thorneburg as other handlers administered first aid. Thorneburg survived and Nemo lost sight in one eye due to a bullet wound. Nemo would no longer walk sentry duty. He returned to Lackland Air Force Base in July 1967 as an air force canine recruiter.
Afghanistan War 2001- present
A Brief History of War Dogs
In the Far East, Emperor Lê Lợi raised a pack of 100 hounds, this pack was tended and trained by Nguyễn Xí whose skills was impressive enough to promote him to the Commander of a shock troop regiment.
www.k9writer. com and the Military Working Dogs National Monument, www.jbmf.us for providing valuable information that made this tribute possible. If you would like to pay tribute to these heroic canines, you can visit the only Military Working Dog Memorial west of the Mississippi locally at The Rancho Coastal Humane Society (RCHS) at 389 Requeza St., Encinitas, CA 92024 Rancho Coastal Humane Society www.rchumanesociety.org
Later on, Frederick the Great used dogs as messengers during the Seven Years’ War with Russia. Napoleon also used dogs during his campaigns.. The first official use of dogs for military purposes in the United States was during the Seminole Wars. Hounds were used in the American Civil War to protect, send messages, and guard prisoners Dogs were also used as mascots in American World War I propaganda and recruiting posters.
HOMELAND / November 2014 29
100th Anniversar By Steve Wilson Disabled American Veterans (www.dav.org)
ver the Summer of 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of World War I, which after the fighting ended soon saw the founding of DAV by Judge-Elect and former Army Capt. Robert S. Marx. The fighting began in Europe in July 1914, following the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. This event, coupled with a series of alliances and an arms buildup across Europe triggered the most destructive conflict in history at the time.
As veterans returned home, who’d fought in what until 1941 would be dubbed the “War to End all Wars,” many resorted to begging in the streets, holding tin cups and signs that read, “Help Me, I’m a Disabled Veteran.” Many veterans across the nation started to organize to make their voices heard in calling for medical care and other services to meet their needs. In Cincinnati, Judge Robert Marx became a leader and champion for veterans’ causes, and due largely for his flair of leadership and organizing, he formed a unique organization dedicated to the service of disabled veterans and their families. This group was known as the Disabled American Veterans of the World War.
When America entered the war in 1918, 20th century technology was colliding with largely 19th century “occupy by The first caucus was held in Cincinnati mass and force” tactics. New weapons and was attended by 250 people from such as poison gas, specialized fighter The founder of DAV, Judge-Elect and former Army Capt. Robert S. Marx. various veteran groups nationwide and bomber aircraft, tanks and improved artillery contributed to the 53,000 American deaths and another 204,000 The new organization began to swell its numbers right away. Judge Marx Americans wounded. traveled the nation and brought the other, local, smaller and independent The armistice formally ended the war on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month in 1918. In many areas, the fighting lasted until exactly 11 a.m. and, on the last day of the war, there were nearly 11,000 casualties. The first Armistice Day, which later became known as Veteran’s Day, was enacted by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. America was ill-prepared for the numbers of wounded, ill or injured veterans who returned home. At the time, there was no agency like the Department of Veterans Affairs solely charged with the care and rehabilitation of veterans. First DAV HQ.
HOMELAND / November 2014
disabled veterans group over to DAVWW as he convincingly told them they’d be much stronger under one banner with common goals. By the time the first National Convention came to Detroit, DAVWW had more than 1,000 members attend. National Commander Marx summed up the convention by saying, “In war, all are eligible to be wounded, so all the sick and wounded would be eligible to join the DAVWW.” The attendees left with the feeling that this new organization stood for and championed all causes for disabled veterans and their families regardless of era. By www.homelandmagazine.com
ry of World War I
WWI DAV organization
the time the second National Convention came about, the DAVWW’s ranks swelled to 17,486 members. Former Congressman Nick Lampson said, “Congress should stop treating veterans like they’re asking for a hand out when it comes to the benefits they were promised, and they should realize that, were it not for these veterans, there would be nothing to hand out.”
for veterans and their families in the event of a budget stalemate of a government shutdown.
Today, 100 years after the war that brought DAV into existence, the organization is still fighting for veterans and their families of all eras for the benefits they earned through service and sacrifice.
“In our nearly 100 years of service, some things regarding the way we conduct our advocacy efforts have obviously changed,” said National Headquarters Executive Director Barry Jesinoski. “But what will never change is our focus of fulfilling our promises to veterans and their families of all eras. Judge Marx’s vision lives on today and, as a war brought DAV into existence, we’ll keep advocating for those who sacrifice when the nation calls.”
Past National Commander Joseph W. Johnston wrote President Obama and Congress urging them to reach an agreement to fully fund all federal programs, services and benefits which directly or indirectly support America’s heroes, especially those who are wounded, injured or ill due to their service. DAV’s legislative team is championing the Putting Veterans Funding First Act, S. 932 and H.R. 813, that would protect benefits and services www.homelandmagazine.com
The Commander’s Action Network is available at www.dav.org for anyone to easily find their elected representatives and contact them with a customizable letter to advocate for legislation that benefits veterans.
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DID YOU KNOW? Veterans Day
11 Veterans Day facts: How much do you know about Veterans Day?
What is the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day? These two holidays are frequently confused but they are not the same. Memorial Day, celebrated in May, honors those who lost their lives in service to our country, and Veterans Day, celebrated in November, honors all who have served and focusing on thanking living service members, past and present.
In what war did the largest number of Americans serve in the Armed Forces? World War II saw more than 16 million Americans become service members.
When was Veterans Day first celebrated?
President Eisenhower signing HR7786, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
Why do we celebrate Veterans Day?
Originally called Armistice Day, Veterans Day was celebrated on Nov. 11, 1919, which was the first anniversary of the end of the fighting of World War I.
President Woodrow Wilson said of that first observance in 1919, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”
Troops from the 1st Infantry Division landing on Omaha.
Why do we spell it Veterans Day and not Veteran’s Day? Shouldn’t there be an apostrophe? Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an ‘s’ at the end of ‘veterans’ because it is not a day that ‘belongs’ to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.
Is there a national ceremony?
Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities. This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect.
When did Veterans Day become a national holiday? Although first observed in 1919, Congress did not make it official until 1938. IN 1954, the name changed to Veterans Day. In the 1970s the date moved around in November, causing confusion, and President Gerald Ford in 1975 signed a law placing the observance on Nov. 11 and there it has remained.
HOMELAND / November 2014
Image above is unknown U.S. soldier from the North African American Cemetery.
In keeping with the honoring of the timing of the armistice ending the carnage of WWI, a Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery. www.homelandmagazine.com
Which state is home to the largest number of veterans?
How many veterans are there living in the United States?
California has the most, with 2 million veterans calling the Golden State home. Texas and Florida are next, with 1.6 million vets in each state, reports the Census Bureau.
The U.S. has 21.8 million veterans, according to the Census Bureau’s Snapshot of Our nation’s Veterans.
How many of U.S. vets are female?
There are 1.7 million female veterans, as of 2013, according to the Census Bureau.
Do veterans ever serve in more than one war? Yes. More than 1.3 million of America’s living veterans have served in more than one conflict, and 54,000 have served in 3 wars - WWI, Korea and Vietnam - according to the Census Bureau’s Snapshot of Our nation’s Veterans.
Please thank a veteran and have a Happy Veterans Day!
HOMELAND / November 2014 33
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