Free Cruise for Medal of Honor Recipient

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We, the Armed Forces Service Center, a Military Hospitality Lounge in Miami ( formerly operated by the USO) are seeking a Medal of Honor recipient for a free 7 day cruise November 7th, to the Western Caribbean out of Fort Launderdale (“FLL”). This is a fund raising cruise and we will have an announcement available soon and a press release. Hopefully, this Medal of Honor recipient lives in Florida or we will fly this person to Florida. We plan a ceremony on Veterans Day, November 11th, on board the Celebrity Solstice, one of the newest and most beautiful ships at sea.

The Armed Force Service Center is the old USO of south Florida and our 501(c)(3) is the Armed Forces Service Center. We operate the Military Hospitality Lounge in Miami and soon in FLL. Please see our website at: www.militaryloungemiami.com This will be free cruise for the recipient of the Medal of Honor and we will have a ceremony on board on Veterans Day, 11 November, as well as other socials ( champagne).

Please contact Keith Whitbeck at k2563439@bellsouth.net or 305-968-4399 for additional information.

SFTT Editor’s Note:  This message and proposal seems genuine, but readers are recommended to take reasonable precautions to verify it’s authenticity.

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Picking up the Torch for Col. David Hackworth

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My valiant, wonderful husband, Colonel David (Hack) Hackworth, one of America’s greatest heroes and most valor-decorated soldiers, died in my arms two years ago this past May (Editor’s note:  This was written by Col. Hackworth’s wife three years ago on the second anniversary of his death).  During the last weeks we shared, he thought not a wit about himself; and his love for me burned so brightly I still feel surrounded by that awesome warmth.  But he worried too about the frontline troops he spent his life protecting and particularly about Soldiers For The Truth (“SFTT”), the foundation we started together.  So I promised Hack I’d pick up the torch and keep SFTT viable – and continue our commitment to get the kids out at the tip of the spear the best leadership, training and equipment.

I knew it wouldn’t be easy.  In spite of the major stories we broke – such as the lack of up-to-date body armor or none at all when the troops first went back into Iraq or the unarmored hummers or Abu Ghraib, which pointed so clearly to flaws in both training and leadership – most people we addressed when we tried to raise awareness and funds found it difficult to accept that our soldiers and Marines weren’t getting the right stuff with which to wage war.  Even though we eventually came to expect the disconnect, we always found it hard to compute — but that was because for many years we were often first to report outrages like the Tillman cover-up in our weekly column DEFENDING AMERICA, which Hack would also discuss every week on TV and radio.  To disbelieving ears, of course, but he kept getting booked because he had better pundit credentials than most and good TV-Q, probably because he was as quick and deadly with words as he’d been in battle.

Only recently have I noticed that we’re gaining more traction and I suspect it’s mainly because the Walter Reed debacle so deeply shocked and touched the nation.  Suddenly we were all confronting what Hack had warned us about on Larry King when we first went into Iraq:  in spite of all our vows to the contrary, we’ve allowed ourselves to be sucked into another Vietnam with far greater potential fall-out.  Sure, because of medical and technological advances, we won’t have a black granite wall listing 58,000 fallen warriors; but depending upon how much longer we’re stuck in Iraq, we’re likely to have far more than 58,000 wounded, many grievously.

Excellent organizations offer countless services to take care of the troops, from entertaining them in Iraq to helping them and their families when they come home.  The USO, Wounded Warrior, Fisher House and so on.  But no organization except SFTT is dedicated day in, day out to being there for our stalwart warriors as they stand tall for their country out in the shifting sands of the Valley of the Shadow of Death — to try to prevent them from being killed or wounded in the first place.

As we entered last spring the fifth year of this terrible war, SFTT will formally announce the new Basic Five campaign to get America’s frontline troops the best available of the five most essential items of personal combat gear so they have the best possible chance to complete their assigned missions and make it home alive and in one piece in a plane seat instead of a body bag or on a stretcher.  Doesn’t it seem criminal that the richest nation in the world, which spends more than the rest of the world combined on defense, can’t budget responsibly enough to provide its sons and daughters with a helmet that will prevent many more of the endemic, life-altering head injuries?  With the same better body armor the generals choose – and wear hidden under their uniforms?  With a rifle that’s not a jammer like Jessica Lynch’s M-16 and that’s at least as effective as the AK-47, the terrorists’ weapon-of-choice?  With a sidearm that’s reliable and deadly in tight situations?   And with boots capable of going the bloody distance?

No wonder Hack died worrying about the troops.  But if more Americans stay mindful of the dreadful consequences of war and help SFTT carry Hack’s torch, we can together “SUPPORT THE TROOPS WITH MORE THAN LIP SERVICE” and make sure more of our brave volunteers survive whatever lies ahead.

Eilhys England

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Honoring my father, Col. Lowell E. May (USAF)

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As a small child, I remember sitting down with my father leafing through a scrapbook of pictures that he had taken in North Africa during WWII. While the scrapbook was sadly lost in a fire, I vividly recall that many photos of his fellow B-26 Martin Marauder pilots and crewmen had crosses inked-in beside them.  My dad patiently explained that these brave men had lost their lives in the war and this was his way of honoring their memory. 

While he rarely talked about his combat experiences, I do recall him telling me that 60 of the 200 aircraft that had made the trip across the Atlantic to North Africa had been lost at sea due to mechanical failure, lack of fuel or some other non-combat related cause.   While my dad passed away many years ago, I still recall his sadness that these brave young men had unnecessarily perished because their equipment was not tested properly.

Now some 60 years later, it is difficult to believe that our men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan still don’t have adequate protective gear.  When will our military leadership wake-up to insure that our troops have the proper equipment to have a fighting chance to come home alive and in one piece?   

Richard W. May

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Remembering P.F.C. Theartis Watts, Jr., (USMC)

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Theartis Watts was an 18-year old rifleman in my Marine infantry platoon in Viet Nam in 1968. He was a big-city kid from Philadelphia with an incredible knack for finding delicious Vietnamese fruits and vegetables to augment our C-rations, and he had one of the most brilliant smiles I’ve ever seen. When he smiled, which was often and in the most dire circumstances, his entire face lit up. Theartis won a Bronze Star with Combat “V” for conspicuous gallantry on April 13, 1968 in a nasty firefight a few kilometers east of Hue City. When my platoon sergeant and his radioman were killed, Theartis took over the radio and established comm with our company commander. Since my radioman had been wounded, and his radio rendered inoperable by enemy machine gun fire, Theartis’ action to secure an operable radio, while under heavy enemy fire was critical to making higher headquarters aware of the severity of our tactical situation.

 

After I transferred out of the platoon, Threartis remained behind. It was in this position on August 17, 1968, that he led a night-time patrol of Marines in an area south of Da Nang. When in their ambush position, Theartis detected a group of shadowy figures approaching. Under his Rules of Engagement, he was authorized to open fire without further action, but due to ongoing problems with RVN Popular Force (local militia loyal to Saigon) patrols wondering into Marine-only areas, Theartis challenged the approaching group. The response was immediate bursts of automatic weapons fire from the group, which proved to be a hard-core VC patrol.

 

Theartis was fatally wounded in the first bursts, but his Marine patrol was able to return fire from their concealed positions and secure the ambush site, forcing the VC patrol to flee. Theartis knew well that by issuing this challenge when he could have just opened fire on the unidentified figures he was taking upon himself the risk that by giving up the element of surprise he would both forfeit the Marines’ tactical advantage and put himself at mortal danger.

 

P.F.C. Theartis Watts gave his life in an attempt to insure that no friendly Vietnamese forces would suffer another “friendly fire” encounter as long as this 18-year old Marine was in charge.

 

[ See  here for Theartis Watts, Jr. on the Virtual Wall. ]

 

Contributor:  Roger Charles

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