I am pleased to welcome you to my personal blog, which I started in March 2009. I first became interested in blogging about five years ago, using old "blogger.com", which was cumbersome to use and I never mastered. About a year ago I discovered that Google had bought "blogger.com" and had revised it considerably, making it fun to use, so much so that I have devised at least 15 blogs on various subjects and frequently add posts and Gadgets to them.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Blue Mike, Chap. II - Combat (3 of 5)

These are US Army trucks crossing the treadway (pontoon) bridge across the Rhine river, March 30, 1945.

March 30, 1945 - Weiskirchen, Germany

Blue Mike tells us that "at 1000 Co. M moved on foot to an assembly area in the vicinity of Alsenz. The weather was cloudy with a light rain. At 1100 we loaded on trucks and moved approximately 50 miles via Darmstadt to assembly in the vicinity of Frankfurt. We crossed the Rhine at Oppenheim on the treadway (pontoon) bridge in a smokescreen so there was very little to see except the water, the pontoons and the two tracks the vehicles had to stay on....After General Patton got on the east side he reportedly radioed back to Gen. Bradley, 'We have crossed the Rhine.' Gen. Bradley was totally amazed because logistically he had believed it was impossible for Gen. Patton to advance so rapidly.....The entire 14th Infantry made the crossing of the Rhine river and moved into assembly areas in the vicinity of Frankfurt.

"We closed into billets in the town of Weiskirchen by 1600. After we had gotten settled in our billets and our kitchen truck arrived, we broke out the deer meat [killed earlier that morning]. One of our men had found a big supply of potatoes and onions in the basement of one of our billets...and we had some of the best tasting venison stew you ever tasted.

March 31, 1945 - Weiskirchen, Germany

Blue Mike: "Co. M remained in billets in the town of Weiskirchen, south of Hanau, throughout the day." [I remember being sick that day, from a bad C ration, I suppose.]

April 1, 1945 - Bivouac near Glauberg, Germany

Blue Mike: "...Today is Easter Sunday morning, and the rest of the Army rolls on while we continue to take it easy. If the present pace continues perhaps the war will be over in two weeks....[I remember seeing my first jet plane that day, a German fighter.] At 1700 the 3d Battalion departed by truck and occupied the town of Altenstadt by 2100....Co. M and elements of the 3d Battalion went into the advance march for about seven km after detrucking and occupied a bivouac area near Glauberg after midnight.

April 2, 1945 - Wolf, Germany

Blue Mike: "The regimental attack order on the 6th SS Nord Division was issued at 0500. At 0720 the 3d Battalion reported enemy fire being received from the woods south of Altenstadt. The attack was scheduled at 0900 but by 0800 the attack was postponed until 1000....Co. M was in position at 0915. Lt. Prekker's 3d Mortar Platoon was set and zeroed in on Hill No. 267...At 1000 the artillery and mortar preparation began. As promised in the regimental attack order, the artillery delivered 400 rounds of high explosives and our mortar platoon fired about 90 rounds on the hill. The artillery lifted at 1020 and there was no response from Hill No.267. Immediately we moved into the attack march on the hill. We received no fire while closing on the hill....We occupied the hill and found it had been occupied by a German horse-drawn artillery battery. What we found was not pretty. Five or six enemy killed along with four or five Percheron-type horses destroyed....When the 3d Mortar Platoon occupied Hill No, 267, they found a money wagon...full of German marks..Most of the mortar platoon were a little depressed about our attack on Hill No. 267. They did their job by delivering fire on the hill as ordered. They were depressed because so many horses were killed.

"Following the occupation of Hill No. 267, Co. M continued in the attack march in an easterly direction for about four miles until nightfall where we bivouacked in and around the village of Wolf. [I remember that we emplaced our mortar outside a house and slept inside, six to a bed - two on the mattress, two on the box springs, and two on the bedding. We kept guard on the mortar and ammunition.]

April 3, 1945 - Bivouac near Dudenrod, Germany

Blue Mike: "The weather was clear and cool. The situation has become very fluid. At daybreak we received a report from division intelligence that we should be alert for...fleeing 6th SS Nord troops...Co. M was ordered to hold positions....and to send out foot patrols...The 3d Battalion assignment was the clean-out of woods and towns and to patrol the road networks. Co. M conducted a thorough search of the town of Wolf...Co. M departed Wolf at 1200 on foot and arrived in the town of Dudenrod at 1400, a distance of only two miles....Co. M was bivouacked about one half kilometer southeast of Dudenrod."

April 4, 1945 - Bivouac near Breitenbach, Germany

Blue Mike: "At 0800 Co. M loaded on the first shuttle of QM trucks in Dudenrod for displacement of 16 miles to the 3d Battalion assembly area in Kressenbach, arriving at 1530. The weather was rainy and miserable...Co. M bivouacked one-half kilometer southeast from Breitenbach and two miles east of Kressenbach....The day was cloudy with a slow rain most of the afternoon. We moved into our bivouac area outside the village of Breitenbach about 1700. Our orders were to guard our perimeter and dig in for the night. Foxholes and slit trenches were not the most comfortable places to spend the night in the rain." [I've thought of this night frequently. It was the only night in the rain during our time in combat. I remember that I was to share cover with Pfc Presnell, one of our squad's ammunition bearers, but we could not erect a pup tent because he had burned his wooden tent pegs at Camp Old Gold. So we buttoned our two shelter halves together and pulled them over us to keep the rain off. I remember the occasional automatic weapons firing by other units in their fight with the 6th SS Nord Division. It was not a good night.] Blue Mike continues: "My order was for everyone to keep his head down until daylight unless we were attacked. Fortunately, I was able to bring our company mess truck into our company area for the night, which provided a hot meal before darkness. All of our men were dog-tired after two days of the advance march. To compensate, I placed the company cooks on guard duty for the night. We armed them with all the BARs [Browning Automatic Rifles] we could locate."

April 5, 1945 - Bivouac near Breitenbach, Germany

Blue Mike: "A close screening action was initiated following a report that survivors of the 6th SS Nord Division had been ordered to change into civilian clothes for the purpose of making their escape into Bavaria. All small towns in the regimental area were screened by a house-to-house search, the woods were mopped up and a close control of civilians was established... Co. M, less the 1st MG Platoon, had been ordered to sweep and clear two small villages northwest of Breitenbach at 0800. We completed this assignment by 1000....A system of motor patrols, outposts and listening posts was established for the night as the units buttoned up. Co. M participated in outpost duty up to two km to our front and in motor patrols...At 2030 we were alerted to be prepared to move to the vicinity of Fulda tomorrow morning."

April 6, 1945 - Maberzell, Germany

Blue Mike: We've surely been having some lousy weather lately as it has been cloudy and rainy most of the time. We slept out in the rain night before last, but found a shed and two warehouses for most of our men last night...Co. M and the rest of the 3d Battalion prepared close out its area near Breitenbach for movement forward. At 0600, we were loaded on QM trucks and began the displacement of approximately 25 miles to the general vicinity of Fulda. Our route of march via convoy from Breitenbach was north through Hauswitz and to Hosenfeld where we detrucked at 0830.

Blue Mike: "We deployed and began a sweep of the Forst Grossenluder via Giesel, Neiderrode, Hainbach and on to Maberzell. We had completed a foot march of 13 km or 8 miles in a search and occupy operation. The Forst Grossenluder sweep resulted in the capture of 70 POWs in this mopping-up exercise by the 14th Infantry. A house-to-house search was made in the towns, and the woods in between were thoroughly searched. The weather continues bad with uninterrupted light rain. The road was very muddy. The 2d MG Platoon and the 3d Mortar Platoon were in direct support of the battalion in this sweep. The 1st MG Platoon was still on guard duty at Eberstadt. We made our way into Maberzell, three miles west of Fulda, at nightfall....At 2000 Co. M was billeted in Maberzell for the night. We received word that the 1st MG Platoon would rejoin us tomorrow. At 2200, we received the order to move eastward tomorrow morning. The billeting parties are to be at regimental headquarters in Fulda ready to move promptly at 0600."

April 7, 1945 - Kaltensundheim, Germany

Blue Mike: At 0930, the company loaded on trucks in Maberzell and started the displacement to Kaltensundheim. As was the case in nearly every move forward, the motorized elements of Co. M would drop into the QM truck convoy. We arrived in Kaltensundheim at 1500 after a move of 25 miles. The weather had improved and was starting to clear. The day continued cool, clear and bright. The roads were still muddy but drying....The company was billeted in Kaltensundheim for the night. All of the company's machine-gun-mounted jeeps were active in roving patrols during the afternoon. [I remember being involved in some of these patrols.] and up until near midnight."

April 8, 1945 - Kaltensundheim, Germany

Blue Mike: ..."The company had machine-gun mounted jeep patrols active throughout the day. The weather was crisp and clear....The company remained billeted in Kaltensundheim for the night...We were at our most northerly advance into Germany. From now on, we would be traveling in a south-southeast direction until we met the Russians....We have stayed in houses the last two nights and it was much appreciated. The first night it was raining and last night there was frost on everything."

April 9, 1945 - Dreissigacker, Germany

Blue Mike: "This is the second morning in Kaltensundheim with very little to do....The company continued jeep patrols in the morning. The weather was cool and clear....At 1400 we loaded on trucks and traveled ten miles to Dreissigacker, just outside of Meiningen, arriving at 1500, where we billeted for the night."

April 10, 1945 - Meiningen, Germany

Blue Mike: "The company continued jeep patrols for most of the day. The weather was hazy with one mile visibility in the morning but burned off by noon to four miles visibility. The nights have been clear...At 1830 the company loaded on trucks in Dreissigacker for a two mile ride into Meiningen, arriving at 1900 to relieve elements of the 2d Battalion, 66th Infantry. The 3d Battalion was now in regimental reserve.....We billeted for the night in Meiningen. Again, we were called upon for night patrols in and around the city. At 1855 the 3d Battalion reverted to attachment to XII Corps, relieving 2d Battalion, 66th Infantry, vicinity of Meiningen. This means were are now on call by Corps to handle hot spots. We are now in reserve."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Cultural Right of Offendedness

I found this article in Albert Mohler's blog.

A new and unprecedented right is now the central focus of legal, procedural, and cultural concern in many corridors--a supposed right not to be offended. The cultural momentum behind this purported "right" is growing fast, and the logic of this movement has taken hold in many universities, legal circles, and interest groups.

The larger world received a rude introduction to the logic of offendedness when riots broke out in many European cities, prompted by a Dutch newspaper's publishing of cartoons that reportedly mocked the Prophet Muhammad. The logic of the riots was that Muslims deserved never to be offended by any insult, real or perceived, directed to their belief system. Unthinking Christians may fall into the same pattern of claiming offendedness whenever we face opposition to our faith or criticism of our beliefs. The risk of being offended is simply part of what it means to live in a diverse culture that honors and celebrates free speech. A right to free speech means a right to offend, otherwise the right would need no protection.

These days, it is the secularists who seem to be most intent on pushing a proposed right never to be offended by confrontation with the Christian Gospel, Christian witness, or Christian speech and symbolism. This motivation lies behind the incessant effort to remove all symbols, representations, references, and images related to Christianity from the public square. The very existence of a large cross, placed on government property as a memorial, outside San Diego, California, has become a major issue in the courts, and now in Congress. Those pressing for the removal of the cross claim that they are offended by the fact that they are forced to see this Christian symbol from time to time.

We should note carefully that this notion of offendedness is highly emotive in character. In other words, those who now claim to be offended are generally speaking of an emotional state that has resulted from some real or perceived insult to their belief system or from contact with someone else's belief system. In this sense, being offended does not necessarily involve any real harm but points instead to the fact that the mere presence of such an argument, image, or symbol evokes an emotional response of offendedness.

The distinguished Christian philosopher Paul Helm addresses this issue in an article published in the Summer 2006 edition of The Salisbury Review, published in Great Britain. As Professor Helm argues, "Historically, being offended has been a very serious matter. To be offended is to be caused to stumble so as to fall, to fail, to apostasize, to be brought down, to be crushed." As evidence for this claim, Professor Helm points to the language of the King James Bible in which Jesus says to his disciples: "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast in to hell" [Matthew 5:29].

Likewise, Jesus also speaks a warning against those who would "offend" the "little ones." As Professor Helm summarizes, "So to 'offend' in this robust sense is to be an agent of destruction. And to be offended is to be placed in desperate straits."

The desperate straits are no longer required in order for an individual or group to claim the emotional status of offendedness. This shift in the meaning of the word and in its cultural usage is subtle but extremely significant.

Offering a rather robust definition of this new usage, Professor Helm describes this new notion of offendedness as "that one is offended when the words and actions of another produce a feeling of hurt, or shame, or humiliation on account of what is said of oneself about one's deepest attachments."

Professor Helm's definition is rather generous, offering more substantial content to this modern notion than may be present in the claims of many persons. Many persons who claim to be offended are speaking merely of the vaguest notion of emotional distaste at what another has said, done, proposed, or presented. This leads to inevitable conflict.

"People have always been upset by insensitivity and negligence, but the profile of offendedness, understood in this modern sense, is being immeasurably heightened," suggests Professor Helm. "The right never to be offended, never to suffer feelings of hurt or shame, is being touted and promoted both by the media and by the government and interest in it is being continually excited." Thus, "Claims to be hurt or shamed are noticed. They are likely to be rewarded."

The very idea of civil society assumes the very real possibility that individuals may at any time be offended by another member of the community. Civilization thrives when individuals and groups seek to minimize unnecessary offendedness, while recognizing that some degree of real or perceived offendedness is the cost the society must pay for the right to enjoy the free exchange of ideas and the freedom to speak one's mind.

Professor Helm is surely right when he argues that the "social value" of offendedness is now increasing. All that is necessary for a claim to be taken seriously is for the claim to be offered. After all, if the essence of the offendedness is an emotional state or response, how can any individual deny that a claimant has been genuinely offended? Professor Helm is right to worry that this will lead to the fracturing of society. "We all hear things we don't like said about people and causes that we are fond of but in the changed social atmosphere we are being encouraged to give public notice if such language offends us. I am now being repeatedly told that I am entitled not to be offended. So--from now on--not offended is what I intend to be. Does this heightening of sensitivity make for social cohesion? Does not such cohesion depend rather on enduring what we don't like, and doing so in an adult way? Does not the glue of civic peace rest on such intangibles as the ability to laugh at oneself, to take a joke about even the deepest things? And is it not a measure of the strength of a person's religion that they tolerate the unpleasant conversation of others? Isn't playing the offendedness card going to result in an enfeebling of the culture, the development of oversensitive and precious members of the 'caring society'? Whatever happened to toleration?"

Given our mandate to share the Gospel and to speak openly and publicly about Jesus Christ and the Christian faith, Christians must understand a particular responsibility to protect free speech and to resist this culture of offendedness that threatens to shut down all public discourse.

Of course, the right for Christians to speak publicly about Jesus Christ necessarily means that adherents of other belief systems will be equally free to present their truth claims in an equally public manner. This is simply the cost of religious liberty.

An interesting witness to this point is Salman Rushdie, the novelist who was once put under a Muslim sentence of death because he had insulted Muslim sensibilities in his novel The Satanic Verses. Mr. Rushdie presents an argument that Christians must take seriously.

"The idea that any kind of free society can be constructed in which people will never be offended or insulted is absurd. So too is the notion that people should have the right to call on the law to defend them against being offended or insulted. A fundamental decision needs to be made: do we want to live in a free society or not? Democracy is not a tea party where people sit around making polite conversation. In democracies people get extremely upset with each other. They argue vehemently against each other's positions," Rushdie insists.

As the novelist continues: "People have the fundamental right to take an argument to the point where somebody is offended by what they say. It is no trick to support the free speech of somebody you agree with or to whose opinion you are indifferent. The defense of free speech begins at the point where people say something you can't stand. If you can't defend their right to say it, then you don't believe in free speech. You only believe in free speech as long as it doesn't get up your nose."

As the Apostle Paul made clear in writing to the Corinthians, the preaching of the Gospel has always been considered offensive by those who reject it. When Paul spoke of the cross as "foolishness" and a "stumbling block" [1 Corinthians 1:23] he was pointing to this very reality--a reality that would lead to his own stoning, flogging, imprisonment, and execution.

At the same time, Paul did not want to offend persons on the basis of anything other than the cross of Christ and the essence of the Christian Gospel. For this reason, he would write to the Corinthians about becoming "all things to all people, that by all means I might save some" [1 Corinthians 9:22].

Without doubt, many Christians manage to be offensive for reasons other than the offense of the Gospel. This is to our shame and to the injury of our Gospel witness. Nevertheless, there is no way for a faithful Christian to avoid offending those who are offended by Jesus Christ and His cross. The truth claims of Christianity, by their very particularity and exclusivity, are inherently offensive to those who would demand some other gospel.

Christians must not only contend for the preservation and protection of free speech--essential for the cause of the Gospel--we must also make certain that we do not fall into the trap of claiming offendedness for ourselves. We must not claim a right not to be offended, even as we must insist that there is no such right and that the social construction of such a right will mean the death of individual liberty, free speech, and the free exchange of ideas.

Once we begin playing the game of offendedness, there is no end to the matter. There simply is no right not to be offended, and we should be offended by the very notion that such a right could exist.


This article was first published August 4, 2006. During the month of July, I will be posting new articles and also featuring some articles from the archives I hope you will find helpful. This month requires a different schedule as I spend time with family and do groundwork on upcoming articles, messages, books, and projects. My normal schedule for new articles will resume as August begins.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Children of Sadr City

This is a post from the blog "Healing Iraq" by a dentist named Zeyad..

Monday, October 20, 2008

Children of Sadr City

An Iraqi boy drinks from a broken pipe in Sadr City. A United Nations report found that 94% of boys in Iraq attend elementary school, but that number drops to 44% by high school. For girls, 81% start elementary school; 31% go on to attend high school.
The Raad brothers, and tens of thousands of children like them in this poor walled-in Shiite Muslim district, have been shaped by war, honed by poverty. They are witnesses to sectarian violence, Shiite militias, angry sermons echoing through mosques, Humvees gurgling through streets and pictures of religious leaders and wanted men hovering on billboards. These children may not know grammar and punctuation, but they know what to do when the bullets come, how to take cover, to hide from the kidnappers, the militants and the soldiers.

Bloodshed and years of unrest are harsh teachers, especially in Sadr City, where 30% of children have quit school, according to a Baghdad human resources office. That estimate is probably low. A United Nations report found that 94% of boys in Iraq attend elementary school, but that drops to 44% by high school. For girls, 81% start elementary school; 31% go on to high school.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Blue Mike, Chap. II - Combat (2 of 5)

This is me in my new "Ike" jacket in June 1945.

March 22, 1945 - Venningen, Germany
Blue Mike reports: At 1200 the attack on a division front was begun....We were on the right flank of the 71st Division which was on the right of the XXI Corps drive to Pirmasens. There was very little resistance as most German troops had escaped to defensive positions east of the Rhine.
"Division intelligence reported mine fields between the towns of Schweix and Venningen out in front of the Siegfried Line. Co. M began the advance at 1200. About one-half mile out of Liederschiedt, we crossed the border between France and Germany. Our first German village was Schweix. We moved by platoon strength. I was with the company Hq staff [including me and most of the 3d Mortar Platoon] group and between Schweix and Venningen, we ran into a mine field. It was an old field, as erosion had uncovered eight or ten of the mines. ... I marked a way through until I felt we were beyond the mines. The rest of the group used my footprints and all got through the field safely. We continued on to Venningen, arriving there at 1630. We had marched a distance of slightly over four miles.
"Our motorized group [on another route] was delayed by numerous road blocks...When they got into Venningen, they saw the gun [a German 88-mm] which presumably was doing the shelling [when we were in Liederschiedt].
March 23, 1945 - Bivouac near Klein-Fischlingen, Germany
Blue Mike: "We are now in Germany. ... We occupied Vinningen yesterday, slept here last night and are waiting on transportation for another move. ... At 1945 we loaded on trucks and half-tracks and began the motor movement, passing through the 'dragon's teeth' and abandoned pill-boxes of the Siegfried Line, to the assembly area in the vicinity of Klein-Fischlingen. Pfc Johnson and others in the mortar platoon rode on the half-tracks. This was his first experience of riding on a half-track. We closed into the assembly area at 2350, after covering a distance of 49 miles, and bivouaced for the night.
March 24, 1945 - Otterstadt, Germany
Blue Mike: "The day was fair and warm with good visibility. We spent the morning sitting around and waiting on transportation.
"At 1600 the company moved by motor to the town of Otterstadt within one and a half miles of the west bank of the Rhine river. We had closed into Otterstadt and had established outpost positions on the west bank of the Rhine by 2200. .. We were billeted in houses, except for outpost personnel."
March 25, 1945 - Otterstadt, Germany
Blue Mike: "Our low temperature last night was 37 degrees F. The Germans...limited their activities to lobbing 88-mm artillery and mortar shells into Otterstadt at random intervals.
"The mortar platoon was zeroed in on an assembly area, assumed to be a mess area, 800 yards deep on the east side....Lt. Stewart had observed with his binoculars that Germans would sneak down to a sunken barge on the east side of the Rhine and return with buckets of water. He arranged with Lt. Prekker to zero one of his mortars on that barge. From then on, every time a Kraut would approach that barge, we would drop an 81 mm mortar round on him.
"At 0900 regimental intelligence reported a German mess line was shelled. The mortar platoon outpost kept a continuous daylight binocular surveillance of the east side of the Rhine. All of the six mortars were zeroed in on various targets of opportunity on that side. This morning we noticed a gathering of Germans in a targeted area. It was obvious this was a mess line. The mortar platoon outpost on the west bank of the Rhine could hear the mess kits rattling as well as watching them with their binoculars, and when the German mess line was full, they gave the order to fire. Within a matter of minutes, the mortar platoon dropped 15 to 20 rounds on the mess line. No doubt some were killed or wounded."
March 27, 1945 - Otterstadt, Germany
Blue Mike: "This was a day of very little activity for Co. M except for manning river bank outposts. The sky was overcast with rain in the morning. We continued to receive occasional 88 mm fire in and around Otterstadt."
March 28, 1945 - Otterstadt, Germany
Blue Mike: "The enemy resistance on the east bank of the river appeared to be weakening. Very little artillery was received in Otterstadt. The weather was overcast and rainy.
"At 1315 orders were received from division for a contemplated move later in the night of March 28. We were to be relieved by the 411th Infantry Regimentof the 103d Division under cover of darkness. ...At 2200 the relief had been completed.
"By 2300 Co. M had assembled in Speyer preparatory for further movement by motors. Later after we had cleared Otterstadt, we learned that the Krauts had made a crossing in force across the Rhine and the 411th Infantry lost quite a few men.
March 29, 1945 - Bivouac near Alsenz, Germany
Blue Mike: "At 0100 we loaded on QM trucks and began a move of 42 miles to an assembly area in Alsenz. Our route of march was Speyer, Dudenhofen, Geinsheim, Lachen, Neustadt, Lambrecht, Weidenthal, Frankenstein, Fischbach, Enkenbach, Winnweiler, Imsweiler, Rockenhausen and on to Alsenz. This move was a roundabout way to get to Frankfurt by going back a considerable distance to the west and north, but it did place us in a favorable reserve position for transfer from the Seventh Army to Patton's Third Army. After many long and irritating delays parked on the side of the road, we closed into Alsenz at 2230. We had covered 42 miles in 20-1/2 hours or an average pace of less than two MPH. We could have walked it in less time if we had the energy.
"Before settling into bivouac we were alerted for a further move tomorrow. We were now assigned to XII Corps, Third Army.

Monday, July 20, 2009


This morning I've found some interesting stuff in spot.us about the San Francisco Bay Area. I suggest you check it out.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch:

Bay Area Toxic Tour:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Remembering the Fallen

Remembering the Fallen
Below is a moving story courtesy of the U.S. Air Force blog, Air Force LIVE. While the media usually covers stories about the fallen heroes, other events sometimes push aside the importance of recognizing the military. Below is a background paragraph about a letter (full text below) that was published in the Washington Post about Lt. Brian Bradshaw, 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, who was killed in Afghanistan on June 25. The letter comes from Capt. James Adair and Master Sgt. Paul Riley of the Georgia Air National Guard, who flew Lt. Bradshaw from a forward base to Bagram Air Base for his final flight home.

Full letter by the Guardsmen:

Dear Bradshaw Family,

We were crew members on the C-130 that flew in to pick up Lt. Brian Bradshaw after he was killed. We are Georgia Air National Guardsmen deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. We support the front-line troops by flying them food, water, fuel, ammunition and just about anything they need to fight. On occasion we have the privilege to begin the final journey home for our fallen troops. Below are the details to the best of our memory about what happened after Brian’s death.

We landed using night-vision goggles. Because of the blackout conditions, it seemed as if it was the darkest part of the night. As we turned off the runway to position our plane, we saw what appeared to be hundreds of soldiers from Brian’s company standing in formation in the darkness. Once we were parked, members of his unit asked us to shut down our engines. This is not normal operating procedure for that location. We are to keep the aircraft’s power on in case of maintenance or concerns about the hostile environment. The plane has an extremely loud self-contained power unit. Again, we were asked whether there was any way to turn that off for the ceremony that was going to take place. We readily complied after one of our crew members was able to find a power cart nearby. Another aircraft that landed after us was asked to do the same. We were able to shut down and keep lighting in the back of the aircraft, which was the only light in the surrounding area. We configured the back of the plane to receive Brian and hurried off to stand in the formation as he was carried aboard.

Brian’s whole company had marched to the site with their colors flying prior to our arrival. His platoon lined both sides of our aircraft’s ramp while the rest were standing behind them. As the ambulance approached, the formation was called to attention. As Brian passed the formation, members shouted “Present arms” and everyone saluted. The salute was held until he was placed inside the aircraft and then the senior commanders, the sergeant major and the chaplain spoke a few words.

Afterward, we prepared to take off and head back to our base. His death was so sudden that there was no time to complete the paperwork needed to transfer him. We were only given his name, Lt. Brian Bradshaw. With that we accepted the transfer. Members of Brian’s unit approached us and thanked us for coming to get him and helping with the ceremony. They explained what happened and how much his loss was felt. Everyone we talked to spoke well of him - his character, his accomplishments and how well they liked him. Before closing up the back of the aircraft, one of Brian’s men, with tears running down his face, said, “That’s my platoon leader, please take care of him.”

We taxied back on the runway, and, as we began rolling for takeoff, I looked to my right. Brian’s platoon had not moved from where they were standing in the darkness. As we rolled past, his men saluted him one more time; their way to honor him one last time as best they could. We will never forget this.
We completed the short flight back to Bagram Air Base. After landing, we began to gather our things. As they carried Brian to the waiting vehicle, the people in the area, unaware of our mission, stopped what they were doing and snapped to attention. Those of us on the aircraft did the same. Four soldiers who had flown back with us lined the ramp once again and saluted as he passed by. We went back to post-flight duties only after he was driven out of sight.

Later that day, there was another ceremony. It was Bagram’s way to pay tribute. Senior leadership and other personnel from all branches lined the path that Brian was to take to be placed on the airplane flying him out of Afghanistan. A detail of soldiers, with their weapons, lined either side of the ramp just as his platoon did hours before. A band played as he was carried past the formation and onto the waiting aircraft. Again, men and women stood at attention and saluted as Brian passed by. Another service was performed after he was placed on the aircraft.

For one brief moment, the war stopped to honor Lt. Brian Bradshaw. This is the case for all of the fallen in Afghanistan. It is our way of recognizing the sacrifice and loss of our brothers and sisters in arms. Though there may not have been any media coverage, Brian’s death did not go unnoticed. You are not alone with your grief. We mourn Brian’s loss and celebrate his life with you. Brian is a true hero, and he will not be forgotten by those who served with him.

We hope knowing the events that happened after Brian’s death can provide you some comfort.

Capt. James Adair
Master Sgt. Paul Riley
GA ANG 774 EAS Deployed

Please visit here to read more about Lt. Brian Bradshaw and his fearless service.

Posted byashmccallinFallen HeroesLt. Brian Bradshaw, Soldier Stories, U.S. Air Force
Bookmark & Share

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Today's Update on Calli Nickels

Saturday, July 18, 2009

It is nearing evening on Saturday. We have really been blessed this time. Calli has handled the 4 chemo treatments this time better than any other ones previously. She has slept through alot of it, but hasn't gotten sick, just nauseated and they have handled that pretty successfully. Hopefully we have found a good combination of things to help her through the treatments. We will be leaving sometime after midnight tonight, it will mean late driving, but sleeping in our own beds will be worth it.
A man from our church sent us up pizza on friday evening and she was able to eat some, she also ate breakfast this morning and so between the two she has eaten more than in the last 3 weeks all together.
The plan is for this to be the last chemo prior to surgery, hoping for good enough levels to be able to have surgery on the 3rd of August.
So really I would say it was a great week. I hope that you have had one too.
Take care and God bless,
Becki and Calli

Teenager Nightmares: A Week without Cell Phones

I found this article in gospel.com

Teenager Nightmares: A Week without Cell Phones

The Youth Specialties blog is written by and for youth workers. As someone whose last involvement in youth ministry was attending youth services in high school, I find it a great place to read about the issues youth leaders face today.

In a recent post, Brooklyn Lindsey discusses some of her thoughts on cell phones and youth ministry:

I recently returned from a summer mission trip where we made the unfathomable decision to collect cell phones for an entire week. A few students needed us to help them through the night sweats and uncontrollable shaking, but for the most part, by day two, all was well in the world.

We ended up having a week of deepened relationships, focused conversation, and focused service to others. Students could call their parents from the adult leaders’ cell phones but other than that, they were free…so to speak.

Three days after our trip I found myself in our local college/ young adult ministry setting. We meet in a local coffee bistro with live music and awesome discussion. My husband is the leader, so I love the ministry, 30 Below is something I look forward to every week. However, one thing was really obvious to me after having a week free of technological interruption, everyone around me (dozens of people sitting around tables) sat in this all too familiar conversation with eyes darting every few minutes to their lit up phones. Even if it was to simply “check the time”, we were all there…but not really. I started to wonder if I too, if our phones have become our safety, our fall-out plan.
We’ve all been around someone who can’t stop fidgeting with their phone or some other piece of technology, and I’m sure we’ve all wondered if they were really paying attention or if they were off in another world. It’s interesting to hear of youth ministers physically taking devices from teenagers in an effort to bring about some semblance of normalcy to their lives. Perhaps it’s a discipline we should all practice from time to time.

Do you think technology can keep us from fully experiencing our relationships with people? Or do you think our relationships can be made better through the use of always-on tech? And more importantly, what about your relationship with God? How do those bundles of circuitry help or hinder your connection with God?

By: Chris Salzman. This entry was posted on Friday, July 17th, 2009 at 8:26 am and is filed under Holidays, Technology, Youth Ministry.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Blue Mike, Chap. II - Combat (1 of 5)

Captain W. P. "Pete" Sims,  author of "Blue Mike"

March 12, 1945 - Assenoncourt and Guermange, France

This was the place, the starting place for our 1000-mile journey in combat,the "jumping-off place," the place where I went from "Non-Combat" to "Combat" and was paid $10.00 extra each month, the place where the countdown ended, and the last place to make adjustments between my duffel bag and my field pack. I wouldn't see the duffel bag again until the war was over. I would wear one combat uniform that would get dirtier and dirtier until a shower unit showed up with piles of clean uniforms to rummage through. This was the place where the two parts of the company, the motor movement part and the train movement part, finally got together again, that is, assembled. I calculate that I've travelled about 4,000 miles by car, train, ship, and truck to reach this place, with almost no walking. Just think of the poor Greek and Roman soldiers who would travel similar distances on foot. I use the term "Blue Mike" in this post since that was the simple radio code in WWII for Company M, 3d Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment. I'll be selective in this post and tell only about what affected me.
The train from Camp Old Gold had stopped in Luneville at 0100. We had traveled 331 miles in 59 hours, or an average speed of 5 mph. At 0730 division sent QM trucks for us. At 0800 we went by truck a distance of 59 kilometers or 37 miles to our assembly area in the town of Assenoncourt, France, arriving at 1300. The motorized section of Co. M had arrived earlier. The town was so small that the 3d Mortar Platoon had to be billeted nearby in Guermange. I remember being in a store room or office on a dairy farm where I found a "Lucky Strike" cigarette package in green. (Remember their motto: 'Lucky Strike green has gone to war'?)
March 13, 1945 - Night March, Weisslingen to Meisenthal, France
According to Blue Mike, at 0800 we turned in all extra clothing and duffel bags for storage to be returned to us at some later date. During the day, equipment was checked and live ammunition was issued for all weapons. All platoon jeeps were loaded with heavy weapons and ammunition preparatory for a move into combat, which seemed imminent. The less we had to carry, the better. From that time on, it was your pack and your rifle [pistol in my case].
Again according to Blue Mike, at 1830 our unmotorized troops loaded onto trucks in Assenoncourt and with company vehicles began a move of 32 miles to the forward area near Weisslingen, France, arriving at 2130. We were on our way to relieve elements of the 100th Division, which had this area pretty well secure before our arrival.
Leaving our vehicles behind, we departed on foot at 2200 on what all were later to call the 'death march,' traveling up the valley to the northeast for a distance of seven miles. This night march seems to have been more of a training exercise than it was a combat necessity. Our top brass was giving us our first taste of a forced march at night under combat conditions.
I was in a group at the tail of the movement that got separated from the rest and spent several hours in a barn with hay in it. The next morning with good daylight we were able to find our way into Meisenthal, where I remember being invited in for coffee by a French family.
Our motor vehicles had been held in Weisslingen and were not brought forward until the next day. The regiment had completed a move of 39 miles under cover of darkness. I remember hearing and seeing flashes of artillery firing during this move.
March 14, 1945 - Meisenthal, France
In the early morning Co. M occupied hasty positions northeast of Meisenthal, France. When our jeeps arrived with our mortars and ammunition at 1100, we emplaced the mortars immediately northeast of Meisenthal with observers on the high ground in each rifle company area. I remember watching US planes attacking Bitche, some six miles to the northeast.
March 15, 1945 - Meisenthal, France
We continued to occupy and fortify our position in what seemed to be a vineyard northeast of Meisenthal, expecting a German counterattack. I remember being on guard duty a few hours at night and hearing a nearby stream that sounded like German soldiers on patrol. The counterattack never materialized. Our mortars were all properly targeted, but we never received the order to fire. The weather continued good.
March 16, 1945 - Bitche, France
At 1130 the company received a warning order to be prepared to move on one hour's notice to Bitche. At 1200 hours the company was pulled back into Meisenthal for a fine steak dinner. Blue Mike reports that I considered it, at the time, possibly our last one. The 3d Platoon and I moved out at 1400. I was riding in our jeep, for a change. We moved into a 'rat race' sweeping operation in the woods south of Bitche on foot, where we spent the night in bivouac, a most unpleasant night. At 0300 we decamped and moved in our jeeps into Bitche, which had been taken the day before by the 100th Division.
March 17, 1945 - Camp de Bitche, France
We moved on through Bitche to Camp de Bitche and dug in our mortars between brick barracks buildings that were part of a French army training camp. Blue Mike says that I was feeling ill and did not enjoy the good food served in the mess that night. As I recall we slept in the buildings near our mortars three nights.
March 18, 1945 - Camp de Bitche, France
Blue Mike reports: "The day dawned cool, clear and bright. The enemy was observed around a pillbox two miles east of Camp de Bitche."
March 19, 1945 - Camp de Bitche, France
Blue Mike reports: "The company continues its defensive mission. Improvement of positions continues. At 1310 the mortar platoon was alerted to fire on selected targets if called, but the order was not sent down. The 3d Battalion is in reserve. It surely was cold last night."
March 20, 1945 - Night March, Camp de Bitche to Liederschiedt, France
Blue Mike reports: "The weather was cool, slightly overcast and with scattered showers. Visibility was good.
"At 1015 our new regimental commanding officer, Col. Carl E. Lundquist reported in, replacing Col. Donald T. Beeler, who had to retire because of medical reasons.
"At 1530 the regiment received telephone orders from division to relieve elements of the 5th Infantry along the line of Ropperviller to Walschbronn.
"At 1630 the company withdrew from defensive positions and assembled in Camp de Bitche. We closed in to the assembly area at 1930 and awaited instructions. The 42d Division was on our right.
"At 2350 the company began a night march of seven miles to relieve 3d Battalion, 5th Infantry.
"Pfc William T. Johnson referred to this move on foot as the 'second death march.' He and others shivered for a few hours before loading up with mortars and ammunition and started the foot movement up a long hill and across a wide open space to a ruined town where they relieved elements of the 5th Infantry." [I remember that the town was a horrible mess, with buildings ruined and with dead animals in the street.]
March 21, 1945 - Liederschiedt, France
Blue Mike reports: "After midnight, the march continued until the relief of the 3d Battalion in Liederschiedt, France, about one mile from Schweix, was completed at 0450. Pfc Johnson moved through fog until reaching town of Liederschiedt at 0400. [I remember meeting a guide from 5th Infantry who led us to our mortar positions.]
"Pfc Johnson noticed that every time a flock of sheep appeared over a hill 1500 yards behind us, we got enemy fire on our position almost invariably. Later, after the shepherd had been picked up by American troops, we learned that he was actually an artillery observer. A flock of white sheep can be seen for miles and serves as a good signal for the enemy to start firing.
"At 2220 we received word that the 71st Division was attached to the XXI Corps with VI Corps on our right. Once again, the 14th Infantry Regiment was on the 'Right of the Line' for the division."

Update on Calli Nickels

THURSDAY, JULY 16, 2009 8:24 PM, EDT


Well we are back in Atlanta for chemo, they started it at around 6pm so will finish at about 2:30 am. So far she is taking it pretty well.

Yesterday Troy Calli and I went to see the surgeon and make the plan for surgery. Her surgeon felt it best to hold off on surgery till Aug. 3rd to give the arm time to heal a little, and for her to get another round of chemo, due to the break it is the best possible plan for her. We decided on going with a cadavor bone, tendons and ligaments. That should give her the best outcome for success in regaining use with the least long term disabilities. She will have some restrictions and limitations, but this is the best option we felt. Our surgeon is a very confident, kind, straight forward man and we all felt comfortable with our decisions.

Last week was a trial, this week has been a blessing.

The following verse has been proven true over and over to us! God is cool.

Isaiah 40:29

29 He gives power to the weak. He increases the strength of him who has no might.

Have a great week

Becki and Calli

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blue Mike, Chap. 1 - Prelude to Action

February 22, 1945 - Camp Old Gold, France - L to R, Lt Col Guthrie, Gen Eisenhower, Gen Wyman, Maj Campanello

I consider that my countdown to combat began on or about January 1, 1945, since Division had surely been notified by that date to prepare to move north to the Port of Embarkation (POE). Actually, however, my countdown should begin December 24, 1944, since that's the date I had to report back on duty after leave. I use the term "Blue Mike" in this post since that was the simple radio code in WWII for Company M, 3d Battalion,14th Infantry Regiment. I'll be selective in this post and tell only about what affected me.

January 1, 1945 - Ft. Benning, Georgia -

According to Blue Mike, the story of Company M by Captain W. P. "Pete" Sims: "During the first week of January, 1945, the rumor mill was running rampant. We all knew the division would be going overseas in the near future, but few of us knew when or where. You could hear a rumor that we were scheduled for the South Pacific, then go into the next room and hear it straight from the horse's mouth that we were headed for Europe. The time of departure was subject to similar conjecture. Most of us didn't know that an advanced detail had moved out on January 3 to arrange for the division's arrival at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. The division received orders to close out of Ft Benning beginning on January 12."

January 12, 1945 - Ft. Benning, Georgia -

According to Blue Mike: "Today was spent with pre-overseas orientation, pay allotments to dependents, National Service Life Insurance, last minute inoculations, final type physicals and a letter to dependents explaining your probable future service in a combat zone. Additionally, we were issued a card giving our APO mailing address while out of the States. Most of the men threw away the letter to dependents, but all of them sent the card with their new mailing address. Since we were required to leave a clean barracks behind us, most of the afternoon was spent cleaning windows and swabbing down the walls. Everything formerly stocked on the walls had to be placed in duffel bags or thrown away. The floors were scheduled to be done the next day. In the evening the barracks were nearly deserted with most men at the PX or a service club."

January 14, 1945 - En route by train -

Blue Mike reads: "At 0800 on this Sunday morning, Co. M assembled in the company area and marched in formation to the Sand Hill railway spur before boarding the troop train....We sat on the train for a long time but finally, at 1400, we began to move. We were en route to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey....The train was strictly GI with mesh net hammocks and wooden bunks..."

January 15, 1945 - En route by train -

Blue Mike continues: "Meals were served on paper plates three times a day....Our train passed through Washington, D.C. at about midnight or a little later....."

January 16, 1945 - Camp Kilmer, New Jersey -

Again Blue Mike: "Our train arrived at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey at 0800. As we detrained we couldn't believe the cold. The thermometer stood at 9 degrees F....The most notable change immediately apparent was going from the balmy sunshine of Georgia to the snow cover of New Jersey....The snow was 10"-12" deep, or more, throughout our stay and it continued to snow off and on...."

January 17, 1945 - Camp Kilmer, New Jersey -

Blue Mike reads in part: "...After the first day of getting acquainted with the surroundings, the company settled into a training routine and making preparations for the men to get their last passes off base....."

January 18, 1945 - Camp Kilmer, New Jersey -

Blue Mike again: Off base nearly every man was granted a 12-hour pass to go the big city of New York. [I got two of these passes. On the first one I went to two movie theaters for concerts by Lionel Hampton and Woody Herman. I have no idea what the movies were. On the second pass I remember that when I came up on the sidewalk of Broadway, I looked around, then went back to Pennsylvania Station and returned to Camp Kilmer.]

January 19, 1945 - Camp Kilmer, New Jersey -

Blue Mike tells us that: "Most of the first group receiving passes left for New York this morning...The training schedule continued with lectures and movies on what to expect in combat...."

January 20, 1945 - Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.

Blue Mike"The training schedule continued today."

January 21, 1945 - Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.

Blue Mike: "The training schedule continued with demonstrations of enemy infiltration and counterattack."

January 22, 1945 - Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.

Blue Mike: "There was no training schedule today. It was considered an off day even though it was Monday."

January 23, 1945 - Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.

Blue Mike: "Again, today was an off day for the training schedule."

January 24, 1945 - Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.

Blue Mike: "There was very little on the training schedule for today. It continued to snow today. It was very cold to be outdoors. As time drew near for boarding the ship, duffel bags were packed for the last time and placed in a designated location for preboarding...All OD blouses were packed away and from then on it was combat gear only....

January 25, 1945 - Camp Kilmer, New Jersey -

Blue Mike reports: "During the early morning Co. M assembled with full pack and equipment in snow above the ankles. Shortly, we boarded a train for the short trip from Camp Kilmer to the harbor where our troop ship was waiting. At the dock we were met by the Red Cross ladies who passed out hot coffee, doughnuts, chewing gum and candy. The air was cold, so that hot coffee really hit the spot.

"At the designated time, we started up the gangplank single file. Each man was issued a meal ticket, told not to lose it and was directed down into the hold to the compartment designated for Co. M...We had gotten settled by 1200...

"Co. M was one of the first units to board the ship. The reason for this was that we had been designated one of the ship's Police and Sanitation Companies. Our specific assignments were by platoons....The mortar platoon had the assignment of sweeping and swabbing decks for a designated portion of the ship....

January 26, 1945 - Aboard ship -

Blue Mike reads: "At 0400 we became aware that our ship was moving..Just as dawn was breaking, our ship glided out of New York harbor and past the Statue of Liberty. We soon learned that we were on a US Navy transport ship, the "General J. R. Brooke"/...

January 27, 1945 - Aboard ship -

  Blue Mike: ...We almost capsized tonight. At about 2200, General Quarters was sounded throughout the ship....for a submarine alert..While turning out of the wind, the ship was hit broadside by a very large wave. Our ship listed to an angle of 45 degrees...if our list had exceeded 47 degrees, we would have turned turtle and capsized.

January 28 - February 4, 1945 - Aboard ship

Blue Mike reports: "...sea sickness...poker...'Sweepers, man your brooms, clean sweep down fore and aft'... bunk inspection...calisthenics...practice alerts...movies...two meals a day....sick call [I went on sick call once on the ship, the only time ever, to get help with a sore throat and was told to gargle with salt water.]

February 5, 1945 - Aboard ship -

Blue Mike: "After dark the 'General Brooke' pulled into and anchored in the harbor at Southampton, England....the English Channel was socked solid with fog and considered unsafe....

February 6, 1945 - Aboard ship -

Blue Mike: "This morning the 'General Brooke' weighed anchor and proceeded across the channel to LeHavre, France....After docking we got our first look at the port city of LeHavre. It was a shattered mess...The 14th Infantry, including Co. M and other units, will be sleeping aboard the 'General Brooke' and will not touch French soil until tomorrow.

February 7, 1945 - Camp Old Gold, France -

Blue Mike: "At 0700 hours, Co. M went single file down the gangplank of the 'General Brooke,' carrying everything we had brought aboard to 2-1/2 ton trucks [My recollection is that we traveled on open-top 40-foot trailers.] and started to drive to a destination unknown, other than that which we had been told, 'a training center.'....
"Thirty kilometers later we arrived at 'Camp Old Gold.' There were three of these camps scattered at various points in Normandy; all named for a brand of cigarette. The other two were 'Lucky Strike' and 'Philip Morris.'...
"Camp Old Gold was a disappointment to say the least....Camp Old Gold was a sea of tents and mud, located about one kilometer from the town of Doudeville, France. We were unloaded and assigned a camp area. The first order of business was erecting pyramidal tents which slept six to eight men [on folding canvas cots]. We carved out our own tent locations and a company street.
[As I recall, I came up with the name 'Martin's Clip Joint' for the 4th squad's tent since Sgt Jim Martin, the squad leader, was a barber and occasionally cut hair.]

February 8, 1945 - Camp Old Gold, France -

Blue Mike reads: "Our purpose at Camp Old Gold, as designated by regiment, was to continue training exercises and to plan and organize for movement of the regiment to a combat area.
"We were provided gravel for tent floors. Later, we had gravel for the company street. Even so, the mud up to the ankles seemed to be ever present. Each man had a cot, his pack, and shared a tent to call home for the time being.....One of the less desirable details a man could be assigned was shoveling mud from the roadway ditches, the company street, and the drip line around each tent. We had our own company slit trench latrine which had to be replaced occasionally as it filled up with water.....Censorship of letters continued and would continue until May 18, 1945, ten days after VE Day....

February 9, 1945 - Camp Old Gold, France -

Blue Mike reads: "Our men were required to do two hours of guard duty in the rain and cold....Every man pulled his share of KP....Even though we were living in a sea of mud, we held daily bunk and equipment inspections....

February 10, 1945 - February 28, 1945 - Camp Old Gold, France -

Blue Mike reads:
"...rain...mud...gravel...cold...training...hiking...maneuvers....visit by General Eisenhower...writing and receiving letters....pay day....wind....movies....scrounging for wood and coal....

March 1, 1945 - March 8, 1945 - Camp Old Gold, France -

Blue Mike reads: "...much colder....coal ration received....still raining....mail call....training exercises....now have our vehicles....training has been completed....division order dated March 3 had been issued for the 'planned movement from present area.' On March 5, the regiment received this order for implementation on March 9. The time had come to move out.

March 9, 1945 - En Transit -

Blue Mike reads: "....Co. M began the day at 0500. The business at hand was the closing of tent city preparatory to moving out. The company was divided into groups. The first group, under the command of 1st Lt Chester Robinson, consisted of drivers and their vehicles, and the second group, under my command, consisted of the remainder of the company who were to make the movement by train. At 0900 the second group loaded onto trucks and made the short trip...to the railhead at Yerville, France. The first group followed and rendezvoused with the remainder of the motor movement group in Yerville. Upon arrival in Yerville, the second group was assigned to the well-known 40 and 8 boxcars of World War I fame.....The trains were loaded. There were five trains pulling the maximum number of cars to accommodate the division and supporting troops. The motor movement for the 14th Infantry Regiment alone consisted of 332 vehicles carrying 1,210 personnel.
"At 1400 the motor movement and the train movement departed Yerville with our destination being Nebing, France, east of the World War I bastion city of Nancy. The motor movement requirements were a rate of march of 25 mph, 75 yards between vehicles with halts of 10 minutes every two hours. The line of march was the more southerly one through the cities of Rouen, Beauvais, Beaumont, skirting around the north side of Paris, Sezanne, Vitry-le-Francois, St. Dizier, Toul and on to Nancy, a distance of 281 miles. Thereafter, the motor movement would proceed an additional 60 miles through Luneville, Lemming and on to Altweiler before breaking into individual groups for assignment back to their organization. ...
"The rail movement of the fifth train carrying the 14th Infantry would take the more northerly route through the cities of Amiens, La Fere, Laon, Reims, Charleville, Sedan near the Belgium border, Conflans, Nancy and on to Luneville, a distance of 331 miles. Since the 14th Infantry Regiment had a strength of 3,133 men, this left 1,923 men to ride on the 40 and 8 boxcars. Hence, 77 boxcars were required for the 14th Infantry alone."

March 10, 1945 - En Transit -

Blue Mike continues: "There's very little one can do to make a 40 and 8 comfortable, but an effort was made. The floor was covered with six inches of clean straw. Each car carried a three-day supply of C rations and several jerry cans of water...The train continued on from Amiens and passed through Reims about 1400. ...By driving straight through, the motor convoy arrived in the Dieuze area in about 36 hours, while the train took three days. Hence, the motor troops arrived in Assenoncourt about one and a half days before the rest of the company.

March 11, 1945 - En Transit -

Blue Mike reads: "Today we seemed to be traveling in essentially a southerly direction. Also, we were having fewer long, drawn out delays. At 1800 we entered into the outskirts of Nancy. We lost at least three hours switching back and forth just getting through Nancy. Everyone had bedded down for what they thought was another night of sleep in a 40 and 8.

March 12, 1945 - Assenoncourt and Guermange, France -

Blue Mike says: "At 0100 our train came to a stop in Luneville. The word was passed that this was the last stop and to fallout. We had traveled 331 miles in 59 hours, or an average speed of five mph. So much for the French rail system in wartime. [My recollection is different in that I think the train stopped in Lemming in broad daylight.]
"At 0730 division sent QM trucks. At 0800 we went by truck a distance of 59 kilometers or 37 miles to our assembly area in the town of Assenoncourt, France, arriving at 1300.....We prepared billets in Assenoncourt for the night...The 3d Mortar Platoon was billeted in the village of Guermange nearby.
"Pfc William T. Johnson, Jr., the assistant gunner in the 4th Mortar Squad was from Washington, Georgia. He was raised as a farm boy [?] but he was not prepared for what he found in Guermange, France. The rural French built their homes and their barns as one unit. In fact, the animals had stalls connected to the French living quarters. Hence, Pfc Johnson spent the night in a room with a cow in the adjoining room. It was a new experience for him.....[I remember this as the dirtiest place I've ever slept in.]
[This was the place, the "jumping-off place," the place where I went from "Non-Combat" to "Combat" and was paid $10.00 extra each month, the place where the countdown ends, and the last place to make adjustments between my duffel bag and my field pack. I wouldn't see the duffel bag again until the war was over. I would wear one combat uniform that would get dirtier and dirtier until a shower unit showed up with piles of clean uniforms to rummage through. I calculate that I've travelled 4,000 miles by car, train, ship, and truck to reach this place, with almost no walking. Just think of the poor Greek and Roman soldiers who would travel similar distances on foot. I'm stopping this post here and will begin others to tell about my two months of "combat."]

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Preparing for Combat

William T Johnson, 1943

I consider that I began preparing for combat on or about September 1, 1941 at age 17 when I began the study of Military Science and Tactics in the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Presbyterian College.
September 1, 1941. After entering Presbyterian College in September 1941 and after our entry into the Second World War on December 7, 1941, it did not seem likely that I would be able to complete my training in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and be commissioned a Lieutenant of Infantry if and when I graduated in May 1945.

October 1, 1942. We were instructed on the several options open to us, including enlisting in the Army Reserve as a possible way to defer induction by Selective Service, so I chose that method and walked over to Clinton High School on or about October 18, 1942, and was sworn into the Reserve of the Army of the United States. At that time I was assigned an Army Serial Number, 14 183 363, the first "1" indicating that I had volunteered for service and the "4" indicating that I lived in the Fourth Corps Area. I kept that ASN for the remainder of my enlisted service.
June 15, 1943. I continued in that status until June 15, 1943, when I entered active military service at Fort McPherson, GA, followed by basic infantry training at Camp Croft, SC, and Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) at Mississippi State College, MS, while awaiting entry into Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, GA.
March 1, 1944. That started on or about March 1, 1944, and ended on or about May 31, 1944, when the Army decided that I probably would not make a good officer after all, and I was assigned to Company M, 14th Infantry, 71st Division, in the Sand Hill area of Fort Benning.
June 1, 1944. The division had been activated July 15, 1943, had been in training in California, Colorado, and Panama as a light division provided with mules for transportation, and then was being reorganized as a standard Infantry division with three regiments and trucks for transportation. The next several months were very pleasant for me as I trained in a Heavy Weapons Company with machine guns and mortars. I was one of more than a hundred Privates First Class and considered that I was in a good unit, with people that I liked and respected.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

44th Anniversary of the Signing of The Older Americans Act

I received this email from the Agency on Aging this morning.

Statement by Assistant Secretary Kathy Greenlee on the 44th Anniversary of the Signing of the Older Americans Act

On July 14, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Older Americans Act into law. At the ceremony, President Johnson said, "The Older Americans Act clearly affirms our Nation's sense of responsibility toward the well-being of all of our older citizens. But even more, the results of this act will help us to expand our opportunities for enriching the lives of all of our citizens in this country, now and in the years to come. This legislation is really the seed-corn that provides an orderly, intelligent, and constructive program to help us meet the new dimensions of responsibilities which lie ahead in the remaining years of this century. Under this program every State and every community can now move toward a coordinated program of services and opportunities for our older citizens." He continued, "The Older Americans Act will make it possible for us to move faster in these places where we have already started. It will permit us to travel new ways where old ways have not worked before. It will permit new beginnings where none have been made before." President Johnson went on to say, "The grants under this law will be modest in dollars, but will have far reaching results. Its results will come from where they are needed - always at the hometown level."

Now, 44 years later, those inspiring words continue to guide our work on behalf of millions of older Americans and their families. The Older Americans Act programs and services, which exist in nearly every community in America, have made a difference in the lives of our aging population -- providing so many older Americans with the opportunity to live at home for as long as possible with their families and friends. The Act has created an extraordinary network of dedicated individuals, advocates, volunteers, community-based organizations and Federal, state, tribal and local partners whose work each and every day makes life better for older Americans and their caregivers.

As we work together to meet the pressing demographic, social, and economic challenges before us, let us reflect on the tremendous progress that has been made over the past four decades to support older Americans. We have come a long way, but our work is not yet complete. In the days and weeks to come, I look forward to working with all of you to continue to honor our older Americans and to meet the needs of America's future generations.

Pentagon Report: Snuff Tobacco on Bases

I found this article in 'Stand-To', a Department of the Army Publication.

By Henry Cuningham Military editor, The Fayetteville Observer.

A government report recommends that the military set a timeline to stamp out tobacco on military bases.

The Institute of Medicine, in a study prepared for the Pentagon, suggests the military:

  • Stop selling tobacco products in military commissaries and exchanges or, at least, not sell tobacco at a discount.
  • Treat tobacco use in the same way as other health-related behaviors, such as alcohol abuse and poor physical fitness, which impair military readiness.
  • Prohibit tobacco use anywhere on military installations.

The report, "Combating Tobacco in Military and Veteran Populations," said taxpayers coughed up more than $1.6 billion per year on military personnel's tobacco-related medical care, increased hospitalizations and lost days of work. In 2008, the Department of Veterans Affairs spent more than $5 billion to treat veterans with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is strongly associated with tobacco use, the report said.

Nowadays, tobacco use on military bases is limited to places 50 feet from a building. Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base offer tobacco-cessation programs. In December 2002, Fort Bragg complied with a presidential mandate for all military recreational centers to go smoke free or limit smoking to designated, separately ventilated areas.

"I hope they don't get carried away with it," said Bruce MacKay, 59, a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War.

"There's a place for everything." MacKay said. "One thing will lead to another. Too much interfering with your life. If you stop tobacco altogether, it's going to be like trying to stop booze. You aren't going to be able to do it."

MacKay was one of several military veterans who stopped by Tobacco Road Outlet at Reilly and Cliffdale roads Monday afternoon for tobacco products.

The suggestions could force soldiers to drive off post to smoke a cigarette, someone said. A ban on on-post sales could benefit off-post tobacco shops, someone else added. If you didn't smoke in the 1970s, you couldn't take a break, another veteran observed.

"Most people start smoking in their early teenage years," said Karen Goepfrich, a registered nurse and program manager for tobacco cessation on Fort Bragg. "You can't really blame the Army on getting people started smoking like they used to. But because of the high-tempo environment, the stress, the long hours, it makes it harder for them to quit."

Fewer than one in five Americans uses tobacco, but more than 30 percent of active-duty military personnel and about 22 percent of veterans use tobacco, the report said.

"Of greater concern, the rate of tobacco use in the military has increased since 1998, threatening to reverse the steady decline of the last several decades," the report said. "Furthermore, smoking rates among military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan may be 50 percent higher than rates among nondeployed military personnel."

Goepfrich said stress management is one of the reasons for tobacco use in the military, especially overseas.

"It's also the downtime," she said. "You're going from being on the go, running 10 miles an hour, high adrenaline, to now it's time to rest. Unless they have a plan of what to do with their downtime, a lot of them will dip."

Military editor Henry Cuningham can be reached at cuninghamh@fayobserver.com or 486-3585.