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Veteran's Day 2012

I run through my usual tropes below - but I want to make a special point this year to thank our Global War On Terror veterans, especially those whose service started post 9/11.

That graphic is from the Facebook page of SFC Kevin Doe.

Perhaps more accurately... the less than 1%, as the guys at RangerUp do the math:

Today is my day. Today is SWWBO's day.  Today is Dusty's day. Today is Bill's day. Rich's, Neffi's, Bloodspite's, Sanger's, Jim B's, Mike L's, Jim C's, John S', V29's, Sergeant B's, 1SG Keith's, Oldloadr's, 74's, CAPT H's, a certain Canadian Gunner who shall remain nameless, a certain Redleg Captain who shall remain nameless, RetRsvMike's, the 'Phibian's, Lex's, Matty's, Chuck's, Fishmugger, John(NTA), Heartless Libertarian's, Kevin's, Grumpy's, Grimmy's,USMC Steve's, Marine6's, Saker's, Quartermaster's, Spike's, La Migra's, etc - the list is seemingly endless, and I know I didn't list everybody - feel free to add yourself in the comments. That would be a nice touch, actually.  Worse than those who I didn't list, is the one I had to strike, as his day has moved to May.

This is the fourth year since 1947 that the Auld Soldier flipped from sharing this day with me to sharing Memorial Day with *his* father.

Though it grew from Armistice Day, and is Remembrance Day to our Anglosphere buddies, it is *not* my Grandfather's day. Daddy Jack, a soldier of the Great War, well, his day now is Memorial Day.  As is it with his son.  That's why well-intentioned cartoons like this one make me and many of my fellow vets squirm - though I know from comments in past years, there are those of you who disagree with me on this.  The words are fine - it's the imagery that grates:

Today we mostly celebrate the living. The brand-new vets in Basic Training through to the survivors.  Those who "saw the elephant," as Civil War soldiers were wont to say to those whose service required no similar animal husbandry.  We honor the dead in May.

Oh, heck,  today we Veterans honor the dead, too. We can't help it. The bonds of combat soldiery are tightest because of those who went with us but didn't come back, they took the low road while we took the high. Most of us have an "absent companion" or four that we drink to, when the time is right. Today it will be right. Technically I I have 17,19 21 that I will drink to. 17,19 21 little shots of tequila. My habit is to spread 'em out between Veteran's Day and Memorial Day. Before he shifted holidays, the Auld Soldier didn't even try to do that. If he toasted all his ghosts, his liver would rip itself out of his belly and run. I rather expect Bill has a similar problem.

I honor my favorite veteran: SWWBO. The rest of you can take your positions after that. I honor my two favorite people who sweated out what their veterans were off doing: Mom and my sister. Well, Mom has also moved to the Memorial Day slot, dammit.  That still twinges too,
We have bonds, we veterans. Bonds that sometimes our closest family don't understand. Why does Grampa Joe keep bailing that wino out of trouble? Because that wino lost two fingers tossing a grenade out of a two-man fighting position during a vicious night fight on Guadalcanal, that's why. Because that stranger that Dad greets like a long lost brother once a year is, in fact, a long lost brother, who shared the exhilaration of the night combat drop on Point Salines. Because the quiet guy you've never seen before extracted your Dad's best friend's body from a helicopter crash in Mogadishu by cutting off his legs - so that no man would be left behind. Because that guy over there negotiated with Aideed to get the legs back.

Because that woman sitting at the table comforted many of your grandfather's friends as they lay dying, the last thing they ever saw, or heard. Then there's *that* woman at the local emporium downtown who earned a Silver Star attacking outnumbered into a jihadi ambush and her team survived because of her leadership.  Because that janitor in your school spent a long night on LZ X-Ray, cut off from his unit, keeping his squadmates alive. Because that Bank President looking at ties over there drove an AMTRAC across the reef at Tarawa under a withering fire so your uncle wouldn't have to slog in on foot, fighting both the sea and the Japanese. That man in Lions with your great-uncle? Your uncle helped him walk out from the Frozen Chosin.

Because that man serving turkey at the shelter helped Uncle Bob deal with Esther's "Dear John" letter, that arrived right before "Big Push." And him, that guy playing with his grandkids, who always seems to have some candy for you... well, he's a "Glow-worm," a fighter pilot who jumped from a burning aircraft after he lost that dogfight with the Bf-109, and spent the rest of the war in a POW camp - and survived the forced marches to the west, as the germans were falling back from the onslaught of the Red Army. His buddy? The wingman whose 'six' was being covered. We are also a maudlin, sentimental group. We honor ALL of our veterans. Especially the ones who didn't really volunteer, but would and did give their lives freely for their brothers in arms, too.

We have the bond of shared experiences, whether it's Basic, Jump School, the JRTC, Graf, Pahakuloa, Camp Red Cloud, Hof, Okinawa, Tay Ninh, Vung Tau, Suwon, Phenix City, El Paso, Biloxi, FOB Speicher, Fallujah, Al Anbar, the convoys across the Atlantic, storming over a beach, busting bunkers, hunkering under artillery, rescuing families caught in the middle, finding that cask of cognac and... and the list goes on and on and on. And your newest veterans - they have their traumas, too.  But we learned from our Vietnam brothers, in fact, our Vietnam brothers lead the way, working to make sure they get welcomed home as they should be.  And that those among 'em, get taken care of as needs be.

I am proud of my place among you, you men and women who simply did their duty. Who didn't run. Who came when asked. I am among giants. But my thoughts will be with the newest wave of veterans.

by Spc. Nathan Hoskins November 8, 2006
Pvt. Michelle Young, Pvt. Zachary Smith and Spc. Courtney Brenton from 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, beautify Dining Facility 1 at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. Paintings like this one are found throughout the camp. This photo appeared on
Yanno, like Saker, our young Afghan vet, now suffering under the resurgence of the Garrett Troopers, with their focus on things like haircuts and reflective belts, not so much on teaching their charges proper field sanitation.

The Republic is still well served. Well served indeed. And as long as we find men and women willing to do the hard, dirty work - there will be a Republic, regardless of who is in charge.

As the Marines say, "Semper Fidelis"


Oh - and *that* is a good cartoon for Veteran's Day! Especially if you happen to be near me and are a Hawt Chick. Just sayin'...   I can be found tomorrow working at my Rotary Club's Veteran's Day Pancake breakfast, where disabled vets eat free.  And we'll take your word on it.  If you're going to lie for pancakes... you've got problems!


My Mom (WW2, USN) and Dad (WW2, USA-->USAAF) are still going strong, thank the Lord and the Mayo doctors. They've had adventures in health care in the last decade. I've neices and nephews in the Army and Air Force, cousins beyond count serving or served, none in my beloved USMC. Ah well. Uncle Woody, my Mom's brother, another Marine (Korea), is also doing well.
Where be the pancake breakfast, and what time as well?

Might be hungry tomorrow:-)

Rich In KCK

 0730-1000 tomorrow, at the Riverfront Community Center in Leavenworth.

 My Dad, the WWII B-17 radioman, crossed over to the Memorial Day celebration this year, joining his oldest brother, Uncle Otis, the WWI infantryman, and his grandfather, HT, the Confederate infantryman. And his GGG-Grandfather, one of the Overmountain Men at King's Mountain. And his BIL Bynum, the artilleryman at a whole host of unpleasant south Pacific locaitons, now celebrating his own third Memorial Day anniversary. And his other BIL Harold, the Korean war artillerymen, on his fifth Memeiral Day rememberance. And his third BIL Phil, the AF high up Colonel, on his tenth anniversary of the crossover. 

So many others, too. Here's to us and those like us, damn few that there are left for this day.  
Bill, if you are lurking, Happy Vets day. Hope all is well on the Rockpile.

Happy vets day to the rest of you. Glad I don't have quite so many ghosts, but I'm catching up as we all approach the clearing sooner or later.
I didn't appreciate how long my family list is, until just now sitting down and thinking...and my wife's side of the family makes up the bulk of it (just bigger family mostly.)
By order of seniority:  my wife's Grandpa Warren, earned his CIB in the Bulge as a TSgt with the 84th Infantry Division; my uncle, who enlisted in the Air Corps, and was discharged from the Air Force; my dad, in the CA Air Guard; my wife's elder uncle, retired Navy; my father in law, Army during the bad years of the late 70s; my wife's uncle, USAF; my wife, Army Reserve, Guard, and Regular Army; and my wife's cousin, Army cav scout; and her other cousin in the USAF.
Thanks for the info, will see how the Mrs is doing in the morning.

Maybe that we/I can head on up,  mmmm pancakes!!!


Rich in KCK
 Both my grandfathers.  Moved to May now.  Paratrooper and Army Doctor.  My cousin Steve, CPO, USN (R) (UDT/SEAL in Vietnam).  Dave (Big Country), Captain, USA.  Adrian (The Mad Mexican) MA1, USN.  Scott (the Nuke), LCDR, USN.  Josh (Coonass), PFC, USMC.  Derek (The Lineman), SFC, USA (R).  Boedy, (The Ladies Man)  1LT, USAF.  Bless all of you who have served and who are still serving.  You are the best of us.
We are also a maudlin, sentimental group.

You can say that again,  Every year I know what you are going to say and yet it still gets difficult to see the screen.

Thank you veterans. It's humbling to be in your shrinking elite group. 
I visit this site daily, and this is my first reply. I had to, after seeing the lists of the honored and missed.
My dad "Fighting Joe" BM USS Whaler- Korean War; his brother Randy, USMC- Korean War; my Grandfather USMC- Nicaragua/ Banana Wars; Uncle Bill USMC- WW II several Islands; my Uncle Tom USMC- Cuba; all of whom have moved on to Memorial Day. My other Uncle Bill USN- WW II; my Uncle Joe USA- WW II; ;My Uncle Rick USMC- Viet Nam; his son Rick my cousin USMC- Iraq; his son Mark USMC- Iraq & Afganistan. Me "Shelby" USMC- Cold War. Fair winds and following seas to all Veterans, I hope you all had a good day yesterday. I had plenty of adult beverages for all, and in true Irish tradition always pour one on the ground for those who have passed.
Semper Fi,
My dad and the Bride's dad.  Both Vietnam vets, both (thank God) still with us.  Love ya both, Dad and Pop.
Grandpa, US Army WWI, Pop 41st Infantry Division WWII, son-in law Marines and National Guard (two trips to Iraq). Daughter-in-law USN, son-in-law USAF, and my good buddy Grayman,still serving, who is still nursing the body trauma of 3 trips (4 IED's one MRAP roll over) to the Stan.

Someone once asked me "Why did you join the Marines?" After thinking about it (not long) my reply was, "Because I wanted to be with people who were Marines." Now I like being with all veterans.

Semper Fi Brothers & Sisters..
The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music,
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love. 
-Walt Whitman

I work with, a donation pick-up service that supports Veterans, and in collaboration with the Vietnam Veterans of America, we're sharing the above linked infographic about the conditions of US Veterans and how we can help them... Check it out if you're interested!

 My dad was in the RCAF and served on Annette island in the Alaskan Panhandle and other parts of the Alaskan war. My Uncle was RN and later RCN started on HMCS Campleton (4 stacker lend lease destroyer) on the forward gun, got off before her run into the German drydocks. then corvettes and finally a landing craft infantry at D-day (Sword beach I think). the best man at my parents wedding had just come home from being in the POW camp where the "Wooden Horse escape" took place, he had been shot down over Dunkirk in 1940. Out of 11 million Canadians, approx 1 million were in uniform.
Took my daughters to watch the 21 gun salute and then back to the unit's Mess for lunch and beer with my old buddies.
My dad, now in his fourth May, and my mom's brother, still going strong at 86, with his time in the Corps as part of the Greatest Generation.  And, humbly, myself.....  

An honor and a privilege to serve with all.
All of my uncles that served in WW2 (Dad's six brothers and Mom's brother in-law) have now joined the Memorial Day remembrance.  Joyfully, I still have my Dad (20+ years through WW2, Korea and Vietnam), my older brother, several cousins-once-removed's spouses, and numerous friends to share Veteran's day with.  Maybe because I spent my nine years in the Air Force Reserve flying into hurricanes it never felt like it was work, only something I was honored and privileged to do with a great bunch of guys, kind of like having a really large family.  Maybe being a brat made me believe I had an obligation to do what I could to serve for as long as they would let me.  I just know I loved it.  I gave a talk once to a group of veterans of the China-Burma-India campaign that one of my uncles was in.  I listened to their stories about flying over the mountains with maps with mostly blank areas, counting rivers to find the valley they needed.  I showed slides and talked about flying into hurricanes.  Men who had flown combat missions told me I was crazy or brave, although I had a mission in which we had only lost one plane ever.  They were amazing.  How can you not love something that puts you near people like that, doing something they respect.

Know this is a few days late... but this seems like a very appropriate place to pay homage to my late father:

TSgt William J. O'Brien, USAAF
303rd. Group 359th Squadron 8th Air Force
35 Missions over occupied Europe
B-17 42- 97944 (BN-I) "Daddy's Delight"

Long Island, NY
It's never too late for that, Frank.