America is a place of heroes, honor, achievement, and respect. But it is as well a place where far too often, heroism is confused with celebrity, honor with fame, true achievement with popularity, individual respect with political correctness. From inside here you look out at a culture that celebrates self-gratification, the crossing of all moral boundaries, and now even the breaking of all social taboos. And on top of it all, too often the sound you hear is whining - the whining of America, what can be heard only as the enormous ingratitude of modern man toward our unprecedented prosperity and good fortune.
Via na email request, I found another organization that is of help to our service members and their families.
A fact website is here. Take a look at the description of an financial services company that has been in place since Custer’s Last Stand in 1879.
This is not an endorsement, nor do I use them, nor did I get compensated. I like to share resources when I run across them with my readers.
Here’s Kara’s intro from the website:
Secure our Military Families during Reduction in Force
In my job at AAFMAA, I get calls from friends in the military seeking guidance about what to do for their families if they are affected by the drawdown—big choices about life insurance, retirement benefits, survivor services and much, much more. Many military members across our country face choices in the days ahead that could have a permanent impact on the security of their families. The costs of poor decisions could be high and they know it.
As a blogger on the issues facing our military service members, you know that poor decisions are caused by bad information. You can help protect these men and women by informing them about their rights and their options. We at AAFMAA believe that the only way to combat uncertainty is with certainty.
I’ve assembled a few potential storylines below about the questions many will be asked and how AAFMAA can help answer them. Any of these stories could be the difference between a secure financial future for your readers and one that is less so.
I hope you can help spread the word that members of the military do have rights and they do have a choice.
I know I speak for many when I say that if you served your country—if you put your life on the line for your country—then household budget issues like higher life insurance premiums should never stand in the way of family security. Have a look and feel free to borrow anything you like, or to contact me if you need any additional information.
Take a look and see if they can help you and/or your friend and their familes out.
Since the horrific tragedies of 9/11, more than 2.5 million men and women have been deployed, and each time they have been called to serve, they have done so with honor, courage, and without question. You would think after serving, that finding a job in the civilian world would not be one of their toughest challenges, but sadly that is not always the case.
The unemployment rate for younger veterans is as high as 25% in some markets, and to combat this growing and alarming problem, Veteran recruiting Services in cooperation with the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s Joining Forces Initiative will host the 3rd annual 9/11 virtual career fair for veterans and military spouses. Since September 2011, more than 31,000 veterans have been hired as a result of attending a VRS virtual career fair, and we are looking to help at least 50,000 more. The 9/11 virtual career fair has dozens of America’s leading employers, and over 23,000 veterans already registered to participate.
Here is the video tour of the virtual career fair floor
VRS is changing the way employers recruit our Nation’s finest. Take a look at the employer lineup for the 9/11 virtual career fair for veterans and spouses http://www.screencast.com/t/QPeFrrVsfX
Worth a look, worth passing the word, don’t you think?
Attention Military Veterans: A research study examining military experiences (including deployment experiences) of those who have served (or are currently serving) is being conducted by Dr. Steven L. Lancaster, a professor at Drake University. This online survey assesses experiences with stressful life events (including military events, such as combat exposure), current mental health experiences, coping skills, and thoughts related to these events and how your time in the military has affected you. If you are a military veteran who is 18 years or older, you are eligible to participate.
The survey is completely anonymous and takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. As an incentive to participate, all participants will be given the chance to enter a raffle drawing for a $50 online gift certificate to Amazon.com awarded to 6 randomly selected participants. The drawing database is maintained separately from, and is not in any way connected to, survey information submitted; therefore your participation will remain anonymous. If you would like to participate in this research study, please click the link below.
This will take you to a consent form and questionnaire. You will have a chance to enter the raffle after completing the questionnaire.
This research has been reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board for protection of human subjects at Drake University.
Please feel free to forward this announcement to eligible friends/colleagues/military members you know who may wish to participate. Thank you in advance for your help with this project. We are going to publish the results in scientific journal with the goal of better understanding the post-deployment experience of military service members.
If you desire to participate please copy and paste this URL into your browser (no http:// is necessary):
Steven L. Lancaster, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
In a time far gone (October 1988 to be more precise), two XOs, at turnover, bought into the idea of the outgoing one: There were but a few of the 50 contract required brass plaques from the builder of the ship left. Wouldn’t it a great idea if two were set aside, passed down the years, in a ritual only known to the Ship’s XOs, to be presented to the final CO and XO?
I thought Tom Brown’s idea was excellent. We picked two of the about 5 left from Todd Shipyard, and we typed up a turnover sheet. The outgoing XO signed and noted the next duty station, and the incoming XO signed to accept the responsibility for the safekeeping of these two mementos for the future.
Over the years, I often thought about emailing the seated XO and asking if they were still “standing the watch” so to speak, but I refrained.
I was unable to attend the final moment of the CARR’s service to the Nation, but I contacted the closet one to what should have been the end game, the decommissioning CO, CDR Patrick Kulakowski. In the first email, I didn’t disclose the exact details, just asked to get ahold of his XO, to check on something that had been put in place years ago.
Here was his response:
We found a Manila folder and note about pass down of two plaques from Todd; however, they are long gone…log ended in 2001…
While the entire plan didn’t survive, the evidence of it did. Not bad to make it hang on for 12-13 years, but…who were the two XOs in question in 2001, or possibly the next turn over?
It may have been an oversight if the ship had a major maintenance period about then, or it might have been someone wanted to have a piece of the Ship’s history for themselves…
Any input appreciated, just for the sake of a good, honest “Sea Story” that really didn’t begin like “Once upon a time…”
The day began with just bringing back a cleaned up laptop that had captured a virus to a friend. He then said he was taking me to lunch.
But before it began, as we drove to “a place you (meaning me) never have been before,” we pulled up to restaurant where I had been, for lunch, one time before in my life, that lunch being with Jim Helinger, Sr, the man who I have often documented as the one who flew gliders. More importantly, the reason this helicopter pilot and I met, was Jim met him one morning about 4 years ago, in an IHOP parking lot, with Jim opening the discussion with “You put us out of work!” After the helo pilot assessed the Glider Pilots Association bumper sticker on Jim Sr’s car, he acknowledged his part in the accusation. Jim called me as soon as he got home, and a few days later I met Don. Don had the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association bumper sticker, which was the clue Jim Sr needed to open the conversation.
That meal began like most other meals we had had together, a little bantering and discussions of the current things going on in our lives and politics, but later, something special happened.
He went back to his story of being a 17 year old boy, in Germany, assigned to the 82nd Division, and after doing something kind of stupid in a exercise drop, was assigned to being a courier. It was on one of his drives to anther post he saw a M.A.S.H. type Bell 47 helo and was asked if he’d like a ride. He said yes. The rest, as we say, became history.
Like Jim Sr, actual combat experience is addressed only in generalized components, but sometimes, once in a while, a story comes forth in detail, and I was able to hear one that day.
Some Special Forces or maybe LRRP troops, about 30 of them needed extraction now, with the bad guys hot on their heels. A “5 Ship” was sent, with Don (now 19 years old and an aircraft commander) flying his normal position in the number 5 slot. There was room for one helo at a time on the LZ.
Robin Hoods Unit Insigina (173rd AHC) in Vietnam
#1 got in and out, 2 got in and out, #3 got shot down and #4 extracted crew #3, but no troops. Don went in. The rest of the troops piled on board, as it was the last chance they had to not get overrun. Up to this point the tenor of his voice was pretty matter of fact sounding, but after this it changed and his eyes began tearing up.
“We had 17 of us in the Huey. I couldn’t even get off the ground. The crew chief through his M-60 and ammo out the door, then the Engineer did the same thing.” He then recounted how he knew he couldn’t leave them, any of them, yet they had to get out of there and now. He said he told everyone, I don’t care if you get naked, get rid of anything you can! And they proceeded to toss weapons and ammo and equipment, including his over chicken plates out of the bird, and anything they could jettison of the helo components, like the side armor on the seats for the pilots, too.
He got some lift…and he could get a few feet up to translate to forward flight. He asked me if I knew what rice paddies were. I did, having spent time on Okinawa and visits to Japan. He said he’d have to land in some spots, let a few people off, fly over the dikes between the paddies, then let them get back on, just to make headway, away from danger and out of the jungle.
Next came an important set of details: At most, he could get about 10 feet of altitude. IN the jungle, he couldn’t see his path out, so two of the gunships from his unit flew top cover, but more importantly, as his eyes, directing him left, right, or turn around and go back (in dead end circumstances).
He finally got to the airfield, but could only land with forward speed, like a plane, but on the skids. Once more, his voice was trembling, as he told me how scared he was that the guys in back, out the doors, standing on the skids might lose their feet, because he had no option but to come home that way, indicating he was talking to his crew chief to make sure no one’s feet were below the skids. I’m sure it wasn’t done in a conversational tone.
Finally, they were safe on the ground. All 17 passengers made it to the base. The engine on the bird was toast, the skids damaged from the landing. In a dark humor sort of way, the comment “screwed up another bird” admonition was actually praise for a mission accomplished attaboy.
The last line of the story was “we were just kids.” Then we sat in silence for several moments. There was nothing to say, just to acknowledge a part of personal history without comment.
This man regularly, after the bi-weekly breakfasts with other vets, all the way back to WWII: “I’m not a hero.”
Member of the 173rd Assault Helicopter Company of the 8th Infantry Division, shot down three times, 4 hours short of the record for combat flight hours in a year tour, flying “Slicks” into and out of Hot LZs, flying behind a bird (in another mission), that was shot down in front of him and the crew chief (Gary Wetzel, (his own account here)) of the downed Huey was badly wounded, but, with the injuries from the crash causing that damage, crawled between the wreckage, getting his M-60 and ammo, and had to help fight off the enemy with the infantry in a major battle, was awarded the MoH, and did what he told me in the story above, I’m not buying it. He is, and his comrades in that conflict who would not leave anyone behind, but would strain their young minds to solve such problems under life and death circumstances, a hero.
The below post was sent by Doug Karr, a former Navy Second Class Petty Officer, who asked if I would share this information. He can be contacted at doug.karr.usn @ gmail.com for more information
Are Veterans at Risk for Mesothelioma?
Most people know that exposure to asbestos can create various health problems. This compound was used for many different reasons up until the mid-80s, and very few businesses warned their employees about the risks of exposure. However, today it is widely known that asbestos exposure can lead to such serious conditions as mesothelioma, or asbestos cancer.
Persons at High Risk
If people worked within such fields as maintenance, construction or sanitation when asbestos was widely used, they may have been exposed to it. However, recent research has proven that many military veterans have also been exposed to asbestos, especially those who worked on or repaired Navy ships. This leaves all of these persons with a high risk for mesothelioma.
How Were People Exposed to Asbestos?
The main reason asbestos was used years ago was because it helped make various compounds stronger. With that said, it was commonly found in many different construction supplies such as insulation, drywall, fireproofing materials, caulking and joint compounds.
Whenever people handled these materials by way of installations, sanding or removal, asbestos fibers were released into the air. With asbestos dust being so tiny, it was easy for people to inhale it, and it often remained in the air long after people were finished with their work.
Since the dust remained in the air so long, even people who were not involved with the construction work were often exposed to the chemical. People who unknowingly inhaled asbestos included cleanup crews, inspectors, sellers, buyers and even customers. The risks on navy ships were even greater.
The reason that seamen were more at risk was because of the tiny enclosed spaces onboard, which made it even easier for them to inhale asbestos fibers. In open spaces, asbestos has a chance to dissipate over time; however, this was not the case on navy ships. The fibers remained in the air, increasing people’s risks of developing mesothelioma.
People who were in situations where they may have worked with asbestos directly, should certainly get tested for mesothelioma. However, even those who did not work with the chemical, but were in the vicinity at a time where they could have inhaled them, should be tested for asbestos cancer as well. This definitely includes veterans.
Many doctors suggest that even family members of people who were exposed to asbestos may be at risk. This is because asbestos fibers can cling to clothing for a long time, and they could dislodge in a totally different area from where the original contamination occurred.
How Does Mesothelioma Develop?
Years ago, when veterans inhaled these harmful fibers they did not know that the chemical could cause a deadly disease such as cancer. This is sad considering most construction product manufacturers knew that if people inhaled asbestos dust, they could develop cancer.
The mesothelium are mucus membranes that line most every organ in the human body. When people inhale asbestos fibers, the dust agitates the mesothelium, encouraging abnormal cell growth. Malignant mesothelioma is commonly found in the linings of the lungs; however, it has been known to develop in the heart and stomach as well.
What makes this form of cancer so deadly is that it can quickly spread throughout the body. While it begins as tiny tumors within the mesothelium, it tends to spread rapidly to surrounding tissues. It is essential to note that mesothelioma is not lung cancer; however, it can spread and develop into lung cancer.
Mesothelioma Legal Cases
If veterans or their family members have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, they should highly consider hiring a qualified attorney to help them get the compensation they deserve. Even though asbestos was banned years ago, it can take several years for mesothelioma to develop.
Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer that can affect people who were exposed to asbestos. Many of these people are veterans, and most of them served in the Navy. Since it can take several years for asbestos cancer to develop, it is best for people to be tested for the disease as soon as possible.
If you need no introduction to this wonderful project, and want to just get on with getting your blog/website participating, the signup link is here.
This year, while there is a reduction in military action, there still are men and women in the field, who are at risk of being injured. There are those, of course, presently in the military medical system who have injuries that can be circumvented or need therapy that can be provided by technology.
Beginning this Independence Day in 2012, Soldier’s Angels will begin the annual fundraising efforts to provide funding for laptops with voice recognition software, Wiis and GPS units to be provide at no cost to military members or care facilities to help these men and women get back closer to normalcy in their lives, after serving their country and us.
Know these things about the annual fundraising:
All the donated funds go to the equipment, or the delivery to the people/facilities. You don’t often come across a charity project that devotes the funds right to the “end users.”
While the 4 “service teams” are listed for the donations, all the money goes to one account, and is spent to provide to those in need, regardless of their service affiliation. The teams are merely a ways for the supporters to have a little friendly competition among themselves to satisfy their fix for a little old school interservice rivalry.
Lobby your workplace to allow you to post/pass out a flyer with this information to the employees
See if your employer has matching funds for donations to this project and get that word out to your co-workers
Present this information to your social networks, the digital ones, and the real ones, too!
Post the information in local coffee shops/restaurants and other places with community bulletin boards (check with the management first, which is another opportunity to discuss this project with those who are not aware of the work)
Thank you for reading this and considering taking this information viral! The people who have benefited for the donations over the last 7 years have been given a precious gift and are grateful for the equipment the has helped them get back into life!
It’s been a week now, since the phone call from AW1 Tim popped up on my phone in the early evening. I was busy at Home Depot, so I figured “I’ll call him back tomorrow.” Later that evening, before shutting down for the night, I saw the back channel emails and listened to Tim’s message. As soon as the first “F-21 crash” hit my ears, I thought as they did, and s they did, prayed we wouldn’t hear the worst of news, yet still knowing, the minimum: The pilot had died. Bad news would be coming for someone.
I’m not sure exactly when I found Lex’s Blog, but this I know: It was some of the most engaging writing on the blogs, right up there with a Army National Guard CPT from California and the Army Tanker who rolled into Fallujah. All of them were real, and discussed life in the active duty word in terms I could connect with.
Over the many years of reading, along came the only line, highly factual novel: “Rythyms.” What an incredible read that was. I’ve told countless people “it reads better than a Clancy novel, and has enough detail to keep us (vets/military members) in it, yet he explains thing happening on the ship and in the cockpit so people with exposure to the life will understand.” Something about his way with words. He could seat you in the plane, make you feel the launch and the thrills and the boredom and the terror of night landings…
His blog became my “hub” or gateway to other websites in the MilBlogging world, being the first one I checked in for news, humor, analysis, and just life stuff that Lex would write.
I began admiring his writing from the words on the screen standpoint, but also saw something special…actually, many things:
He was a mentor: Many posts on his site are related to the advice he gave, or was asked on him. Not only did he had great answers, that he shared, he turned the commenters loose to help out. Oh, what amazing guidance, from the old school to the current crop of those in uniform. The comments on any post at his site are not to be missed.
He was a humble leader. Many of his stories were encoded with that understanding of “the system.”
Well read, beyond the NATOPS manuals and the like, in classical literature, philosophy, and history.
He was a leader who valued those working with him. The stories told that, but in this world of blogging, his site was a lot of him leading the way, then having those in the blogoshpere/virtual peanut gallery take over to
He was a man of conviction. Solid vision.
A family man, who cared deeply about his real family, and his extended ones.
The man was many things. I only briefly met him and spoke with him at the 2006 MilBlogging Conference. I sometimes emailed him, with questions, or things I found that may be of interest. Some links got published…..I had a response where they were appropriate.
He inspired me at many levels. I, having seen the opening line of his work “Rythyms,” commenced my own version, having stood my first watches as an assigned officer on a replenishment ship that ran with Battle Groups, and many a time, I was watching the carrier to our port side, first as a Junior Officer of the Deck, and later, as the Officer of the Deck, responsible for the comings and goings of the ships alongside, the helos off the aft deck and the supplies moving via “connected replenishment” (CONREP) or by helo (VERTREP). I learned a lot, and he story gave me a foothold by putting the eyes of the OOD of an AOR into the picture. The story is “Life in the Fat Ship Navy,” and is presently an uncompleted work. I have been fortunate enough to have received a few emails over the years, saying how I took tham back to many years ago, and got their minds churning, remembering the sounds, sights and smells of it all. A tribute to Lex’s style, which I endeavored to “mimic.”
But that wasn’t all. His virtual demeanor constantly made me think as to how I might communicate more fully, yet concisely. All of his writing was a model of how to do that….and it begged for being an absorbed quality.
Years ago, I stumbled upon “High Calling: The Courageous Life and Faith of Space Shuttle Columbia Commander Rick Husband”, a similar man, by my best recollections of the read. Devoted to their families, their profession and their faith. While Col Husband’s wife, Evelyn, penned that wonderful book, telling the story of a great man and leader and husband and pilot, Lex’s readers have been able to do this, telling stories of all manner of his life and interactions with others, and conveying how they were blessed by CAPT LeFon’s life. In a week, there are over 1400 comments on the Open Thread, put up by the only other person who could log onto Lex’s Blog, Whisper. If you’d like to see, as someone on Facebook pointed out, what the “dash” on your headstone represents, there are about 1400 descriptions there for the world to see.
Shortly after posting, I remembered a few back channel and out in the open discussions Lex and I had. We professionally “CPAed” (Closest Point of Approach) certainly by an association, if not within a few hundred yards of each other in the summer of 1979. It would have made Lex a 3rd Class Middie, on cruise aboard the USS NICHOLSON (DD-982). I was in the Ingalls Shipbuilding yard, as part of the commissioning crew of USS LEFTWICH (DD-984), still, at the time, uncommissioned. I recalled the USS NICHOLSON pulled in on the West Bank yard side for dry docking to repair damaged propeller. It seems she had been backing into a slip in GTMO during Shakedown training and found a coral head near the landward end. Turns out, Lex was aboard at least at the time of the grounding incident, but we found our connection via the Commanding Officer of NICHOLSON at the time. It seems the discussion was something about how “Black Shoe” leadership was so much different from that of the Aviation community. Of course, he could say this then, in the mid-2000s. Turned out I was on DESRON 32 when the same officer was the Commodore, and that, was something we shared in common, despite being separated by time, community and coasts across our careers.
We lost a great man. His wife and family are left with but a legacy, but also the gratitude of many who were positively touched in this life by a man who was larger than himself, yet never penned (typed) a word that would lead you to believe he was anything more than one of us….and in that, there is a great lesson for me.
The year (last one, that is) finished with the annual picture of the assorted old guys and “guests” after we had breakfast, a week before Christmas. One from last year was unable to join us, having passed away this year after fighting against MRSA.”
Protecting privacy, and making it more fun, this photo includes the restaurant’s owner, a solid supporter of vets, and always thankful we come around. The waitress for the day, and who normally is our regular one lately. There are three ex-”Shoes,” a Navy Cross wearing A-6 pilot, the high time pilot, with the most traps, also, in the venerable F7U Cutlass (began as a PBM tail gunner in WWII and subsequently became an enlisted pilot), an NFO who knew the thrill of flying over an already bombed target(s) to gather BDA photos in RA-5s, thre retired USMC colonels, who began flying in WWII, one F4Us and later became a USAF Fighter Squadron Commander while on an exchange tour), one in PBYs and one in PBJs. Rounding out the scoundrels that morning were two P-2/-3 pilots, one of which was the USNA roommate of my second CO, during my XO tour. The USA representative spent his Vietnam years making sure the Office in Sigonella was efficiently run. Not pictured of the regulars is a VN era heavy equipment operator, who also is a very suitable professional Santa, so he was absent, and the 4 hours short of the most combat hours guy in a year’s tour in Vietnam flying “Slicks.”
If you can’t find a great unique story any given any other Saturday around the table with this group, you need your hearing checked….
So, the invitation for those of you passing through the Tampa/St Pete area on weekends is this: You’re welcome to come and sit and hear a few stories, tell a few, and meet some who made history, but don’t make a big deal out of it…..just email me or a leave a comment and I’ll get your the “every other” Saturday schedule.
USS HEERMANN (DD-532) at the Battle off Samar (click for the larger image)
It is the last great sea battle to be fought. It demonstrated much of humanity, the determination of both sides in a massive world war, the individual bravery of men on small ships who charged head long into death, so that those they were tasked with escorting could complete their mission. The Japanese bravely pushed to wipe General MacArthur’s “I Have Returned” landing at Leyte Gulf back into the sea, using the remaining surface forces of battleships and cruisers, only to be defeated by a ambushes the night before in the inland seas of the Philippine Islands, and on the morning of this day, 67 years ago, the likes of CDR Evans, CDR Hathaway, LCDR Copeland and their crews, while aircraft from the escorted CVEs made runs from above, many without bombs and some without even gun ammunition.