"These fallen heroes represent the character of a nation
who has a long history of patriotism and honor -
and a nation who has fought many battles
to keep our country free from threats of terror."

-- Michael N. Castle

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

The Things They Carried

They carried P-38 can openers and heat tabs, watches and dog tags, insect repellent, gum, cigarettes, Zippo lighters, salt tablets, compress bandages, ponchos, Kool-Aid, two or three canteens of water, iodine tablets, sterno, LRRP-rations, and C-rations stuffed in socks. They carried standard fatigues, jungle boots, bush hats, flak jackets, and steel pots. They carried the M-16 assault rifle. They carried trip flares and Claymore mines, M-60 machine guns, the M-70 grenade launcher, M-14's, CR-15s, Stoners, Swedish K's, 66 mm Laws, shotguns, 45 caliber pistols, silencers, the sound of bullets, rockets, and choppers, and sometimes the sound of silence. They carried C-4 plastic explosives, an assortment of hand grenades, PRC-25 radios, knives and machetes.

Some carried napalm, CBU's, and large bombs; some risked their lives to rescue others. Some escaped the fear, but dealt with the death and damages. Some made very hard decisions, and some just tried to survive.

They carried malaria, dysentery, ringworms, and leaches. They carried the land itself as it hardened on their boots. They carried stationery, pencils, and pictures of their loved ones real and imagined. They carried love for people in the real world, and love for one another. And sometimes they disguised that love: "Don't mean nothin'!"

They carried memories!

For the most part, they carried themselves with poise and a kind of dignity. Now and then, there were times when panic set in, and people squealed, or wanted to, but couldn't; when they twitched and made moaning sounds and covered their heads and said, "Dear God," and hugged the earth and fired their weapons blindly, and cringed and begged for the noise to stop, and went wild and made stupid promises to themselves and God and their parents, hoping not to die. They carried the traditions of the United States military, and memories and images of those who served before them. They carried grief, terror, longing, and their reputations.

They carried the soldier's greatest fear, the embarrassment of dishonor. They crawled into tunnels, walked point, and advanced or flew into fire, so as not to die of embarrassment.

They were afraid of dying, but too afraid to show it. They carried the emotional baggage of men and women who might die at any moment. They carried the weight of the world, and the weight of every free citizen of America .


Sent by Major Ross W., via Seamus

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Remembering PFC Gunnar Becker

On Memorial Day, I always pause to remember PFC. Gunnar Becker, who was killed in Iraq in January, 2005.

You can learn more about Gunnar here, here, here, and here.

And if you have a moment today, please stop by and let Debey - Gunnar's Mom - know we will never forget.

We are soldiers.
We are soldiers in the United States Army.
We are trained to be all we can be.

We fight for the freedom of many citizens of the United States.
We are all ready to meet our fates.

We all volunteer to defend the red, white and blue.
Not only the flag, but for the citizens of our great country too.

Since our country's birth for all these years,
we have been trained to be the best on Earth.

Many times we have went to war.
We will be involved in many more.

Generation by generation soldiers continue to enlist.
Some of us will go to war and definitely be missed.

Some soldiers will return and some won't.
Those who do not, we won't forget and we hope you don't.

Many of us are going to Iraq.
Some of us won't be coming back.

We have loved ones we are leaving behind.
They will always be in our prayers, hearts and mind.

If we don't make it home safely at the end of the war,
just remember we died defending the beliefs of those of many more.

-- PFC Gunnar Becker, November, 23, 2003

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

New Names Etched Into Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

Visitors pay tribute to the wall’s 58,260 etched names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which bear testament to the ultimate sacrifice made by U.S. troops. Defense Dept. photo by Sebastian J. Sciotti, Jr.

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 7, 2008 – The names of four U.S. servicemembers were etched into the glossy black walls of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial this week alongside more than 58,000 of their fallen comrades.

Finishing the addition today was the name of Raymond C. Mason, a Marine lance corporal who died a year ago as a result of ailing health stemming from a bullet wound that paralyzed him in February 1968 during the Tet Offensive.

In a ceremony at the wall here, Mason’s widow, Priscilla Mason, watched as an engraver inched a sandblaster over the Marine’s stenciled name with surgeonlike precision.

Priscilla got on bended knee, held a sheet of paper up to the bright, new inscription, and rubbed a crayon in diagonal strokes until “RAYMOND C MASON” was embossed against the white paper. She said she plans to have the outline tattooed onto her skin, and she has promised to make dozens of rubbings for friends back home in Riverside, R.I., when she returns here on Memorial Day.

“This is wonderful. He’s finally home,” she said when asked how she felt upon seeing the finished product on Panel 41E, Line 64 of the memorial.

The names of Richard M. Goosens, a Marine lance corporal, and Dennis O. Hargrove and Darrell J. Naylor, both Army specialists fourth class, were inscribed here yesterday. The Defense Department determined that their deaths, which occurred years after the end of U.S. operations in Vietnam, resulted from wounds suffered in a combat zone there.

The wall’s 58,260 etched names bear testament to the ultimate sacrifice paid by those U.S. troops, said R. James Nicholson, former secretary of Veterans Affairs.

“It’s also a tangible expression of the gratitude of the American people for those who served and died there,” he said in an interview today. “The hope is that more and more Americans will learn and grow to appreciate the sacrifice and the price that was paid to perpetuate our freedom.”

Designed by architect Maya Lin and built in 1982, the memorial consists of two black walls sunken into the ground, with a rolling mound of earth behind it sloping toward a heavily trafficked street.

“It was Maya’s vision for the memorial that it appear as a rift in the earth,” said J.C. Cummings, architect of record for the memorial. “At the same time, the wall serves a practical purpose of separating the visitor from the noise and the traffic of Constitution Avenue and the noise of the city.”

As a result, the architecture creates a quiet and contemplative atmosphere, he said, a design that allows visitors to have a respectful experience.

Jan C. Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, said adding the names this week completes the healing process for surviving friends and family members. The additions also reflect America’s solidarity with its servicemembers of past and present, he said.

“When you join the service, you can feel comfortable that the service is going to stand behind you,” Scruggs said in an interview today. “Especially the people who are serving today in Iraq and Afghanistan in combat, they need to know that we’re behind them and we appreciate what they’re doing.”

Related Sites:
Vietnam Veterans Memorial

More Photos

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