Memorializing Those Who Fought in Vietnam

Air Force Pilot Owen Haddock (seen wearing ball cap) With Special Forces Operatives in Mekong Delta, Fall, 1967
Air Force Pilot Owen Haddock (seen wearing ball cap) With Special Forces Operatives in Mekong Delta, Fall, 1967

Vietnam War’s fifth anniversary has caused new research to surface revealing a different image of why my fellow combatants served. Hollywood and popular culture misrepresented those of us who served and why. This report is extracted from “Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans” published in the Military Order of World Wars magazine, “Officers Review” Oct., 2013 issue.

“The Vietnam War was not fought largely by draftees. Two thirds of the soldiers in Vietnam were volunteers. While minorities played a full played a full role in the fighting, 86 percent of the Americans who died fighting in Vietnam were white, middle-class volunteers.

The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) was not a rag tag army of black clad peasant guerillas who fought from the shadows. We know from released Soviet Union records that the North Vietnamese comprised of 27 divisions that were kept at full strength by a communist nation supplying 200,000 new 18 year olds per year. There was a famous North Vietnamese saying, “born in the North to die in the South”. Archives show the Soviet Union poured huge amounts of money and weaponry into North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese Army had full armored divisions, high tech weaponry and extremely sophisticated supply network.

The realities of the Vietnam War are harsh. It was a war with no front lines and fought on difficult terrain. America’s lack of political will deeply restricted military strategy in the war. Through it all our troops fought bravely and with distinction only to have their nation turn their backs on them as they returned. Some were blamed for the war.” (End of comments from “Officers Review”)

Who were the anti war groups supporting? After the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Communists sent 1 million to reeducation camps where 250,000 died of malnutrition, torture and execution. Of the 2 million who tried to flee 200,000 by drowning or pirate savagery. What happened with the borders of China, North Vietnam’s key sponsor? While I was fighting regular North Vietnam divisions in II Corps, China had the “Cultural Revolution” in full swing. They starved approximately 1.5 million Chinese depending on source. Mao’s personality cult was in full swing with immature Red Guard touting his little “Red Book”. Before that the “Great Leap Forward” starved anywhere from 18 to 37 million depending on source. When Mao’s reign ended with his death in 1976, he had killed 70 million people. Vietnam’s Cambodian neighbor Pol Pot’s communist government killed 1.5 million out its total population of 7 to 8 million.


Note: What most people, including Vietnam Veterans, know about Vietnam stems from the limited news sources reporting the war during the 1960s and 70s. After the Berlin Wall fell, Russia and China opened their safes to investigators. Much of their discovery has only recently been reported. Unfortunately the entire Vietnam War was painful and prevented many from updating their understandings. Now Ken Burns is planning his own massive (18 hours) version of the Vietnam War. His focus on John Kerry introducing the series protends a anti war intrepetation of events. Kerry testified before congress of American troops responsible for the most horrendous atrocities imaginable. His testimony is emotionally disputed by other Vietnam vets. Ref: or Google John Kerry Vietnam War Congressional testimony and record. Understanding resentment about his leading Vietnam War discussions can be found by googling his record and researching books like STOLEN VALOR and UNFIT FOR COMMAND. Plus always check


Vietnam Womens Memorial

The Ban Me Thuot Five and the Laotian Two: A story authored by Mike Benge who is a member of Vietnam Veterans for a Factual History

Vietnam Womens Memorial
Vietnam Womens Memorial

Mike Benge was published in the Vietnam Women’s Memorial remembering… “Dr. Ardel Vietti, Carolyn Griswold, Ruth Thompson, Ruth Wilting, Betty Olsen, Evenlyn Anderson and Beatrice Kosin.

You won’t find their names of the Viet Nam Memorial Wall or on a grave marker at the Arlington Cemetery.  Yet, like thousands of other women, they went to Viet Nam for the same reasons – a sense of duty, love of country, belief in God, an obligation to serve mankind, and a desire to help, in some small way, to keep the Vietnamese and Laotians free from communist oppression.  All seven women were missionaries.

Betty Olsen, POW
Betty Olsen, POW

The Ban Me Thuot 5 had many things in common:  “They all served with the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA), they all worked with Montagnards, they all lived at the CMA Compound and they were all captured or killed by the Vietnamese communists”.  Betty Olsen and writer Mike Benge were tortured throughout a trek from Ban Me Thuot to a jungle prison camp.  They were poisoned, beaten, starved and Betty finally died from their inhumanity.  She and Mike shared the task of keeping each other alive.  Dr. Ardel Vietti was captured with two associates in 1962.

Dr. Ardel Vietti, Medical Director of Christian Missionary Alliance Compound
Dr. Ardel Vietti,
Medical Director of Christian Missionary Alliance Compound

Dr. Vietti had been CMA’s Medical Director of the Laprosarium.  They disappeared in the jungle and were never heard from again.

What happened to the Laotian 2?  Mike writes, “The free people of South Vietnam learned the nature of the North Vietnamese communists in 1968, when they invade Hue.  The systematic massacre that followed belied the NVA’s persuasive propaganda.  First they murdered thousands on their lists of opponents and neutralists.  Then they turned on the pro-communists and student groups who they did not consider reliable.  Then as they retreated, they killed anyone they thought might have witnessed the wholesale slaughter.  Two missionaries, with whom I was imprisoned, told of seeing six other missionaries, in Ban Me Thuot, gunned down in cold blood as they emerged from bunkers with their hands over their heads.  TWO WOMEN MISSIIONARIES in Laos were tied inside grass huts by the NVA and burnt to death”. They were the Laotian 2.  Ref: Mike Benge – Bio

Premedidation!  Every North Vietnamese action in the Vietnam was preplanned.  The massacre of Christians and their patients in Ban Me Thuot was part of the communist plan to rid the Dar Lac Province of Christian influence.  The Ho Chi Minh trail was approved by the communists in 1959.  “The Pentagon Papers” , if they had been read, would have revealed Ho Chi Minh as a determined Stalinist fighting for the spread of international communism.  All the anti war criticism claiming the U.S. was suppressing a peasant uprising was totally false. Quoting Mike Benge again, If the burning of the two nurses from Laos wasn’t bad enough, the communists burned women and children with flame throwers in other areas during the 1968 Tet offensive.

Its really worth while for Vietnam History students to check and add their updates and book series to their reading.

Vietnamese and American survivors and veterans are planning a joint memorial in Louisville, Kentucky committed to an accurate history of the Vietnam War.


Honoring MG Livingtston on the Vietnam War’s 50th Anniversary

Just reading Gen. Livingston’s Medal of Honor citation doesn’t say as much as it should. Its worth the reader’s time to go to and see how Gen. Livingston’s action is described in the Medal of Honor’s Character Development Program and other descriptions of the battle at Dai Do on May 2, 1968.

President Abraham Lincoln was quoted:  “America will never be destroyed from the outside.  If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” He also said:  “Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.”

Space limits my attempt to describe the overwhemling odds and courage displayed by Echo Company and their commander Capt. Livingston.  Essentially Capt.Livingston, due to poor division intelligence, found himself leading 180 men into facing what amounted to elements of 10,000 men. To stablilize not only his situation and protect two other companies,he wound up attacking this larger force several times.  Echo Company lost two thirds of its men.  Yet they attacked again to block an NVA regiment’s attack on a third Marine company entering the battle.  They wiped out 100 enemy bunkers and Capt. Livingston killed 14 NVA soldiers personally. Though twice wounded by grenade fragments, he continued to direct the action and supporting artillery.  After his third wound, from machine gun fire, he was carried off the battlefield still firing his weapon at the enemy.

In  Rememberance of Company E, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines, 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade lost at Dai Do, Republic of Vietnam and our brothers and sisters of all services who lost their lives fighting for freedom.

All Vietnam War Veterans Now Face how They Want to be Remembered
Continuing Gen. Livingston’s March 3, 2016 letter from the contents page:  “The media cruelly distorted the public’s view of our service, while trying to force America’s withdrawal. Their efforts not only cost millions of innocent noncombatants their lives during the war, but even more lives were lost following our departure.  As a tragic postscript their legacy continues to cause the deaths of many more part of the world today.

For those reasons it is vital to revisit how the Vietnam War was misinterpreted and totally misrepresented.  Many of the arguments against our assistance were wholly without conscience or validity.  Since we stand at the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, now is the time to represent the truth and take back who we were then and who we are today.  Now is the time to take back the validity of our nation’s military service in Vietnam and around the world today. Most importantly, now is time to reinvigorate our dedication to freedom and human rights.”

James E. Livingston
Major General, USMC Ret.
Medal of Honor

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PSY WARRIORS from Alexander the Great, Sun Tse and Genhis Khan to Validimir Putin

Psychological Warfare Shield

Alexander The Great
Alexander the Great created fear in his opponents prior to battle.  He instructed his armorers to makes pieces of oversized armor to be left behind for inspection.  His armor created the impression his warriors were 7 to 8 feet tall!  That image combined with Alexander’s vicious reputation kept enemies from seeking combat.  Sun Tse saw psychological warfare as a force multiplier and resource saver.  Genghis Khan magnified his ferocious image by using advance agents to inform his opponents.  All three used “fake” information to control the time and place of engagement. Ref:

Vladimir Putin is No. 1 on Forbes List.

Fake Picture of Vladimir Putin Adobe Photoshop art by Steve Ryan shown on

“From the motherland to Syria to U.S. presidential elections Putin continues to get what he wants.”  Ref:  Also read: “NATO Colonel Sheds Light on Russia’s PSYOPS” By Valentina Pop. “Kremlin’s new war model is less dependent on military muscle but more propaganda”. Russia’s main tools are false facts and images, as well as glorification of Russia military power and political leadership”.  Quote from: NATO Colonel Aivar Jaeski.

While there’s no doubt Russia played role in U.S. elections, primarily by outing Sec. Clinton’s private email, they wound up with a “can’t lose” situation.  The dissention created with voters spread the debate beyond the question of how much influence had been exerted?  In “An Overview of Psychological Operations” by Lisa Burns, she examples the Kingdom of Judah 871-850 BC:  With Jerusalem about to be attacked by 3 city state armies,  the prophet Jahaziel delivered divine instructions to the Army of Judah. The army was told to line the ridges and sing and praise God. Not seeing them in fighting posture, the Ammon and Moab armies attacked and wiped out the Army of Mount Sair. Then they fought and wiped out each other.  The Army of Judah returned with wealth of all 3 of their wiped out opponents.

Putin presently may top the Army of Judah’s achievements.  Creating dissention within our ranks and the ranks of our allies is the key objective of psychological warfare.

One of the best writings about Russia’s improving information weapons is:  “Modern Russian Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) by PhD Peter A. Mattsson,…mattsson%peter_WG10_Abstract_Modern%20Russian – “The Methods of PSYOPS includes: agitation, propaganda and other information actions that influence the mind, emotions, reasoning, own belief system, and of most importance the behavior of the target population. Russia’s operations have splintered Republicans, Democrats and Independents into accusing each other of fake news. Open Democratic societies are highly vulnerable to manipulation.


Col. Don Amburn USA Ret. and Capt. Owen Haddock USAF (FMR) PSY WARRIORS

Col. Amburn served in Afghanistan to direct influencing a highly complex culture. He was able to compliment conventional PSYOPs using leaflets and broadcasts with new computer and cell phone technologies.  I operated with unconventional U.S. Army and Vietnamese special operators to encourage enemy soldiers to defect.  In 1967 Vietnam that wasn’t that hard, since the North Vietnamese Army was attempting to indoctrinate them into fighting for communism.  After we managed to get approximately 65000 to surrender, the NVA switched back to fighting for national liberation.  Both Afghanistan and Vietnam were compromised by fake news and its influence in creating uncertainties with our citizens and national government.  Vietnam was the first war where the press worked against our own troops.

The press was vulnerable to combined influences of simultaneous sex and drug revolutions.  The social mood reflected by attention getting protestors was magnified by the legitimate civil rights movement.  Later I learned from 1970s protest writers that they sensed a growing readership supporting these issues.  Publications management instructors called this identifying and building a profitable demographic.  I attended three publication conferences at Stanford University.  During the last conference even dedicated leftist writers were wondering if a conservative demographic might develop in reaction to their reporting.

To understand how sophisticated the North Vietnamese PSYOPS became, google Pham Van Xuan and his biography THE PERFECT SPY.  He became accredited with key U.S. media such as “Time” magazine and managed to become a confidant of Richard Colby and MG Robert A McClure USA aka “Forgotten Father of U.S. Special Warfare”.  MG Xuan NVA also influenced Vietnam War coverage by many other reporters.  He operated out of the Hotel Metropole in Saigon.

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Celebrating Black History Month


General of the Armies John J. “Black Jack” Pershing

The Military Order of World War’s founding resulted from General of the Armies John J. Pershing’s request his officers continue serving  after their military service. While many argue we have never stopped having world wars, our ranks are now full of officers from numerous campaigns, military actions and interventions not defined specifically as a world war. We now have Vietnam, Gulf War and special operations veterans supporting our charter. “Black Jack” Pershing?  Pershing was assigned to the Tenth Cavalry on the U.S. Western frontier.  The Tenth was an all black regiment.  The Native Americans referred to them as Buffalo Soldiers.  When the Spanish American War broke out he was reassigned from West Point to command the Tenth Cavalry.  He lead these men in Cuba in the Battle of San Juan Hill. Pershing frequently praised these black soldiers to others. His respect was unusual at that time. MOWW now has all races and ethnic groups represented in its membership.  Col. Brad Beasley USA Ret. is the VCINC is highly respected as commander of MOWW’s South Eastern Region.  His father served honorably in WWII with the famous Red Ball Express.

Last Sept., 2015, Col. Brad Beasley presented East Tennessee State’s Army ROTC’s “Blue Brigade” the Silver Patrick Henry medal for its efforts assisting MOWW National Convention in Tampa Bay, Florida. Their Pershing Rifle’s color guard presented at our main speaker event, which honored Major General James L. Williams USMC Ret.
Maj Gen James L. Williams (center) USMC Ret. with Capt Owen Haddock (FMR) (right) and Col. James T. Roberts (left) USA Ret, National Security Chair

Knoxville Chapter Military Order of the World Wars Honors Capt. Willie S. Posey, USAF Air National Guard and He Honors our Members by Speaking in Recognition of Black History Month, February 2017.

Captain Willie S. Posey
Combat Plans Division Chief, Tennessee Air National Guard

Captain Posey was commissioned in 2008 as a graduate of the Academy of Military Science at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tennessee. Upon graduating, he returned to the 119th Command and Control Squadron, Tennessee Air National Guard, serving in a variety of assignments including Space Operations Specialist, Operations Telecommunication Manager, and Information Technology Supervisor, and Cyber Combat Plans Division Chief. He assumed his current position in April 2013.

1998 Madisonville Community College, Associates of Art, Kentucky
1999 Madisonville Community College, Associates of Science, Kentucky
2003 Community College of the Air Force, Associates of Science, Information Technology Systems
2003 Bellevue University, Bachelor of Science, HealthCare Management, Bellevue, Nebraska
2006 Oklahoma University, Master of Science, Human Resources, Norman, Oklahoma

1. May 2001- November 2006 MILSTAR Terminal Operator, 55th Mobile Command and Control Squadron, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska
2. November 2006 – April 2007, Training NCO MILSTAR Operations, 55th Strategic Communication Squadron, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska
3. April 2007 – April 2013, Deputy Flight Commander MILSTAR, 119th Command and Control Squadron, McGhee Tyson ANGB, TN.
4. April 2013- Present, Combat Plans Division Chief (Full-Time), 119th Cyber Operations Squadron, McGhee Tyson ANGB, TN

Joint Service Commendation Medal (2), Air Force Commendation Medal
Joint Service Achievement Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal
Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Award (2)
AF Outstanding Unit Award (8), National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal (2)
Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon, USAF NCO PME Graduate Ribbon
Basic Military Training Honor Graduate
Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Air Force Training Ribbon

The Knoxville Chapter Military Order of World Wars meets every second Wednesday of each month. We have an 11 AM social followed by a 12 PM lunch and speaker. Rothschild is at 8807 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919. Unless notified our meetings are informal soup and sandwich gatherings. (Google: Rothschild Knoxville Tn). It is a former officer’s meeting but many other guests are welcome.

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Mayor Tim Burchett Awarded Honorary Member of Vietnam Veterans of America

Left to Right: Capt. William A. Robinson USAF Ret., Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, VVA 1078 President Don Smith, and Barry W. Rice, President Tennessee State Council

Award presented by Knoxville’s Chapter 1078 President, Don Smith
The Knoxville group is also known as the Capt. Bill Robinson Chapter 1078 in honor of Capt. Bill Robinson USAF Ret., who was a POW for seven years. His story is documented in the book “Longest Rescue”. Mayor Burchett received the honor on December 22, 2016.

Since the Vietnam war happened over 50 years ago, many of the Vietnam vets attending are sporting white hair.  Only one third of our original number remain to celebrate these special occasions not to mention their own survival.  It was a fantastic honor for Mayor Burchett, since most of these vets not only survived the war but malicious protests and their supporting media.

Vets have begun to take back their brand through independent research.  This has revealed they are not the drug addicted, guilt ridden former soldiers who used cruel and inhumane tactics.  Quite the contrary.  “Ninety One percent say they are glad they served, 74% said they would serve again even knowing the outcome.  There is no difference in the drug usage between Vietnam Veterans and non veterans of the same age group (from a VA study).  Ninety seven percent were discharged under honorable conditions.”  Its interesting a prominent awards catalogue offers an “Honorably Discharged” ball cap, which tells us the earlier narrative marked vets so badly they have to broadcast their successful service. Continuing quote:  “Vietnam Veterans are less likely to be in prison – only 1/2 of one percent of Vietnam Veterans have been jailed for crimes.  87% of the American people hold Vietnam Vets in high esteem.  Two thirds who served in Vietnam were volunteers.  Two thirds of the men who served in WW II were drafted. Approximately 70% of those killed were volunteers. 86% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasians, 12.5% were black, 1/2% were of other races.

Anti war media reported Vietnam Veteran suicides range from 50,000 to 100,000 (6 to 11 times the non-Vietnam veterans.  Unfortunately, during the first 5 years after discharge, suicides were 1.7% higher than non veterans.  After that Vets were no more likely to suicide than non vets.  This latter rate of suicide was actually less among vets.

Isolated atrocities committed by American soldiers produced torrents of outrage from antiwar critics and news media while Communists’ atrocities were so common they received hardly any attention at all. Americans who deliberately killed civilians received prison sentences while Communists received commendations.  From 1957 to 1973, the National Liberation Front assassinated 36,725 South Vietnamese and abducted another 58,499.  Their death squads focused on local village leaders or anyone who improved the lives of the peasants, such as medical personnel, social workers and school teachers.”

So while we honored Mayor Burchett, he also honors us by accepting our fellowship.

Ref: (Whole portions of this content was copied directly from the referenced source)
Best Ref:
If you really want to get into the weeds see:

Remembering Lt. Leo Holloway

Maj. Leo Holloway USAF Ret. Former WW II B-24 Navigator reviews Dr. Robert Montgomery M.D. log book inherited from his uncle Capt. Montgomery. Capt. Montgomery flew as navigator on P -61 twin engined night fighters in Europe in WW II . He pioneered radar interception.

Six months after Pearl Harbor Leo Holloway paid for his own operation, correcting a hernia, to enlist in Army Air Corps.  After basic training PFC, he completed gunnery school, then transferred to Hondo Army Airfield for navigator training. He excelled in the navigator’s course, graduated early April 22, 1944, and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Air Forces.  Leo was transferred to a new B-24 crew for training at Murdoc Army Airfield (now Edwards AFB).  Each B-24 crew consisted of the pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier, flight engineer, radio operator, armorer-gunner, and three aerial gunners. Upon completion of training, Leo’s crew was supposed to depart for the South West Pacific with eleven other B-24 crews.  Leo’s aircraft had a mechanical delay leaving him with the task of navigating a 6500 mile course without the other B-24’s to coordinate positions. It was his first non training assignment. When I flew this route as an aircraft commander in C-141Bs, it seemed to take forever to fly from Travis AFB, California to Wake Island.  I can’t imagine flying that route without modern navigation aids and at 3 to 4 times the flying time. Jet transports could also fly over the weather if necessary. When they got to Australia, Leo’s pilot, 1st Lt John Zwolinski told Leo, “since you steered us here okay, we’ll keep you as our navigator.”

B-24 similar to the one Lt. Holloway navigated in WW II

Leo’s crew joined 394th Bomb Squadron, 5th Bomb Group, Thirteenth Air Force as part of Gen. MacArthur’s step-stone strategy to liberate one island after another and isolate Japan.  They operated out of Momote, Wakde Island (next to North Coast of New Guinea), and Noemfoor Island (next to the West coast of New Guinea).  The crew flew two 12 hour missions.

To hit more distant targets Leo’s crew was ordered to overload their B-24 with fuel and bombs.  Soon after they began their takeoff, Leo realized they were going to crash.  “The next thing he remembered was stumbling around the outside of the aircraft, unable to see, unable to see and hearing a roaring sound with ammunition cooking off. Later he received last rites of the Catholic Church even though he was not a Catholic.  A nurse, ironically named Major Holloway, told him he was going to be alright. He nearly died of a severe bleeding wound.  The next day, Leo was cheered to learn 3 other of his crew had lived.  All had been protected by being in a bulk head protected area behind the cockpit.  He had to recuperate into the post war period in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was discharged after V-J day August, 1945. Leo returned to Knoxville and attended the University of Tennessee (1946-1948).  He worked an continued at UT from 1948 to 1951. While studying at UT, he married an English teacher, Neil Seymour.  He applied to return to active duty in June, 1951, in time for a combat tour in Korea.  There he flew 50 missions. I joined Knoxville’s Military Order of World Wars in August, 2013.  Major Leo Holloway USAF, Col. Jack Westbrook USAF Ret. and Col. Joe Eddlemon USMC Ret. made formidable companions.  All were WW II heroes and served their community with extraordinary commitment in retirement.

Maj. Holloway passed Dec. 10, 2016, after a short hospital stay.  He is survived by his long time companion Irene Ballard.  He will be remembered by MOWW brothers across the nation.

Most of this cut down article was extracted from “Fuelish Mission” by Col. Calvin G. Lyons USA Ret. written for MOWW’s OFFICER REVIEW

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East Tennessee’s Most Distinguished Veterans

RIGHT TO LEFT: Capt. Mark Brogan, Charlie Cordwell, and Homer Rayburn Chapter 356 Military Order of the Purple Heart

Capt. Mark Brogan “survived a suicide bombing in April, 2006 that blew him across an Iraqi marketplace. and killed the man next to him. The blast cost him the hearing in one ear, 60 percent hearing loss in the other ear, a chunk of his brain and half his skull.  Doctors said he’d be a quadriplegic the rest of his life. Brogan’s been proving them wrong ever since”. (Quoted from New Sentinel article by Matt Lakin, March 18, 2013)

Capt. Brogan is honored companion in the Knoxville Chapter Military Order of the World Wars.  He’s travels doing talks about managing hearing loss and his service in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He’s from Kingsport and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a bachelors degree in political science.

Charlie Cordwell was a farm boy from Clinton, Tennessee.  Along with 8 other brothers and sisters, he raised tobacco and slopped the hogs.  May, 1968 he volunteered for the draft and soon wound up assigned to the Americal Division, 17th Cav and 198th Light Infantry.  He was a Staff Sergeant when he approached a hooch which, unknown to him, held 5 NVA soldiers with AK 47 assault rifles.  His cohort, Big Zeke, shot one, who rushed out with an M-79 grenade launcher.  His unit also responded tossing grenades into their midst killing all.  His unit was conducting search and destroy operations with Sheridan Tanks and Armored Personnel Carriers.  He was firing his 50 caliber machine gun when a grenade exploded under an opening to his vechile.  He was hit from chest to belly button.  He spent from June, 1969 to June, 1970 close to the old demilitarized zone, which was supposed to be the boundary between North and South Vietnam. It was a militarily a very “hot’ area.  Charlie the current commander of MOP Chapter 356.  Big Zeke was an African American.

Homer Rayburn earned TWO Purple Hearts in Korea.  He recalls both brushes with death at age 86.  While he now lives in Knoxville, he was drafted from his original home in Kentucky, Christmas, 1950.  When he joined the fight to recapture Korea from the Pusan peninsula, he 17th Regimental Combat Team of the 7th Infantry Division.  He was serving with that unit, when they spent two days taking the infamous mountain named “Old Baldi” from the Chinese.   Homer was badly wounded by a grenade explosion and had difficulty breathing.  Despite his wounds, he had to walk one mile to an aide station operated by an Army Doctor. Before being drafted, like Charlie Cordwell, Homer milked cows and slopped hogs. He received his second Purple Heart by protecting a fellow wounded soldier on his stretcher.  He laid on top of the wounded man and took the shrapnel from nearby explosions.  That action occurred November 21, 1951. Write up about Homer’s heroism was loss in a records fire in the 1970s.

“It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle, it takes a hero to be one f those who goes into battle.” – Norman Schwarkopf


MG John R. D’Araujo USA Ret and Capt. Robert “Buzz” Buswell USA Ret at September 17th Commemoration. Capt. Buswell is also a member of the mOPH 356. It took him 19 months to recover from the severity of his wounds.

“These Patriots and their families serve as an inspiration to all of us by their unique example of sacrifice, commitment and hope. These are the heroes, service members and families both.  We owe them the firm commitment as a people and as a nation to do all in our power to support their efforts and enduring that “no one is left behind”.
– John R. D’Araujo Jr.,
Maj. Gen. USA Retired

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Protests and Patriotism

Quoted from POW/MIA RECOGNITION DAY MESSAGE by Major General John R. D’Araujo Jr. USA Ret. Sept. 17, 2016 at the East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery


Over the last 3 weeks we have seen a small number of professional athletes who choose to engage in a “protest against American injustices” by refusing to stand during the playing of the National Anthem. Ostensibly, this is designed to bring public awareness to their cause.

My personal view is this nonsense brings attention to themselves. It also serves to alienate a large segment of the U S population, particularly veterans and those whom we honor here today and their families.

Its notable that none of these people have lifted a finger in the service of our country yet they enjoy the freedom to enrich themselves under the very blanket of security and opportunity the country provides. In no other country on the planet would this have been possible.

Patriotism in a downpour // Taken in PO 2C Randall Smith’s USN Funeral Procession
These patriots and their families serve as an inspiration to all of us by their unique example of sacrifice, commitment and hope.

While we all recognize their constitutional right to protest in this way, my personal view is that they are giving a slap in the face to all those who we honor here today. They have sacrificed their lives and freedom in order to preserve the freedom and values the American flag stands for. The protestors miss the point entirely by the contempt and disrespect they show the American Flag. Unfortunately, there is a segment of our society that will treat these people as heroes.

On the other hand, we have learned much by the lives of America’s true heroes, prisoners of war, those Missing in Action and their families. We learned of their courage, mental and physical strength and amazing ability to endure the most horrific abuse and maltreatment, while never losing their faith in God.


We have learned just as much from the families of our POWs and MIAs by their courage and strength, who continue their lives never giving up hope.

These patriots and their families serve as an inspiration to all of us by their unique example of sacrifice, commitment and hope.

These are the heroes, service members and families both. We owe them the firm commitment as a people and as a nation to do all in our power to support their efforts and enduring that “no one is left behind”.

John R. D’Araujo Jr.
Maj. Gen. USA Retired

Knox County Deputy Veterans Service Officer Mark Lett remembers his uncle Cpl. Lawrence E. Lett USMC KIA – Navy Cross – Korea.
This picture of family grief illustrates why MG D’Araujo is talking about respecting our flag and the sacrifice of our veterans. This service was held Oct. 27, 2015.
MG John R. D’Araujo USA Ret and Capt. Robert “Buzz” Buswell USA Ret at September 17th Commemoration. Capt. Buswell is also a member of the mOPH 356. It took him 19 months to recover from the severity of his wounds.

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Ben Atchley Veterans Home Founder Honored on the 58th Anniversary of the Military Order of the Purple Heart

Order of the Purple Heart Honoree former PFC Gerald Clark USA, Battle of the Bulge survivor, wife Bea (purple dress), daughter Karen Orr and Bea’s brother William Green at post ceremony interview.

PFC Gerald Clark’s first action, after arriving in WW II 1944 Europe, was the Battle of the Bulge! He was with the 75th Infantry Division who stopped the German advance. As a man of faith he thanks the Lord for Patton’s prayer, which influenced the weather improving. When the weather cleared a vast array of fighters, bombers and transports filled the sky. He was stunned by what he saw. Just before that the cloud ceiling was about as high as our room’s ceiling. After the German’s stopped they moved South near Nancy France, where they became isolated and surrounded. They surrendered. The 75th then moved North to Holland then crossed the Rhine River into Germany. They met the Russians on the Elbe River during that time. Gerald was wounded during a mine sweeping operation North of Dusseldorf. Around midnight he and 3 members of the 3rd Army were ordered to clear mines in anticipation of coming operations. When his two companions began using their mine sweepers ahead, he had just situated himself in the right rear seat of the jeep. The Jeep hit an anti tank mine. He was throw up in the air and recalled hearing something like “ripping sounds” on that night in April, 1945. He also remembers seeing the color red. “Its by the Grace of God I’m talking with you”, he said. After two operations lost his right leg right up to his hip. We then talked about his “shell shock”, which is how post traumatic stress was defined in WW II. His faith allowed him to move through all the anxiety, conflicted feelings and survivor shame to being a good and decent family man. He developed a sense of purpose by helping fellow vets, which why both Mayor Burchett and Capt. Buswell commended his work establishing the Ben Atchley State Veterans Home. Today all veterans commend Gerald Clark for his courage today. Let’s salute his wife Bea of 70 years, their daughter Karen Orr and Mr. William Green, Bea’s brother, for their incredible support of Gerald and his work.

Col. Melvin Dean Schiller USA Ret. and wife Ceree. They were an important part of 58th Order of the Purple Heart Celebration held at the Sherill Hills Retirement Cpmmunity in Knoxville.

Col. Schiller, USA Ret. served in WW II with the 10th Mountain Division.  When the Korean War broke out, he wound up defending the Pusan Peninsula without adequate equipment and weapons.  In the beginning, it appeared to be a suicide mission.  In the spirit of American arms they held till reinforcement reversed the situation.  He later served as an advisor in Thailand with their forces and U.S. Special Operations.  He also worked with the Air Commandos I later served with in Vietnam.  His vast experience in three wars covering a 30 year career was too much for our limited space in this article. Col. Schiller was seriously wounded.  A round passed through his head, spun around inside his helmet and exited into and through his upper body.  He suffered four wounds with one hit.  Many of these service experiences leave me stunned. Look for Col. Schiller’s and Ceree’s story in a later issue.

Army Veteran Scotty Dunford visits with former dental patient Mayor Tim Burchett

Mayor Tim Burchett has done more for veterans than any other elected official. He makes all the difference to our families. His declaration of August 26 as Gerald Clark Day illustrates my point.

Honoree Gerald Clark is Chapter Finance Officer. His chapter commander is Charles D. Caldwell (865) 494-8059, 237 Foster Rd., Heiskell, TN 37754-3004, Adjutant: Bradley Walker (865) 548-4761, 1712 Guy Street, White Pine, TN 37890-3633

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Few other nonprofits use their donations with the prudence and diligence of the Alexander Bonnyman Chapter of the Marine Corps League.

Sgt. Major David J. Hatfield USMC Ret. personifies the care and oversight they show for their funds.  Sgt. Major Hatfield retired in1995 and was presented the Presidential Military Decoration “Meritorious Service Medal”.  This was the second award of the Presidential “MSM”. Further, for his off duty community activities, he was presented the “Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal”. Returning to East Tennessee in 1997, he founded the Young Marine Program.  Its a national youth program sponsored by the Marine Corps League for boys and girls 8 to 18.  Sgt. Maj. Hatfield served 3 years on MCL’s Dept. of Tennessee trustees and the last 3 years as State Commandant. Sgt. Maj. Hatfield can be reached  .

So its little wonder he serves on MCL’s National Scholarship Committee. (Go to programs then scholarships)  Don’t be afraid to donate. Fund priorities start with needy Marines and their families.  They support service dogs trained to assist wounded Marines by the Smoky Mountain Service Dog Program.  Marines are routinely maintaining the SMSD facility as well as making cash donations.  Mike Kitchens, volunteer director, makes sure 95% of all funds go directly to training service dogs.

Marines were wound up fighting hand to hand at Belleau Wood June 1 through 26, 1918. The Germans were only 50 miles from Paris. Its the battle where Gen. Pershing, AEF Commander, remarked the deadlist weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle”. Matching Gen Pershing observation was the German comment, Marines were vigorous self confident and remarkable marksmen. Some debate whether, after the battle, the Germans referred to Marines as “devil dogs” or “hell hounds”. No matter how they saw it, Lt. Col. Ernst Otto, History Section of the German Army, wrote “their fiery advance and great tenacity were well recognized by opponents. Again the Marines realized aggressive and vigorous offense cuts losses on all sides. It was the battle where the Marines gained undisputed world wide respect as fighting men. Read More in AT BELLEAU WOOD by Robert Asprey; available on
Col. Joe Eddlemon USMC Ret –
Photo Credit Margaret Wood – News Sentinel
Knoxville’s Alexander Bonnyman Marine Corps League Salutes Our Fallen Law Enforcement Brothers
“We serve public safety,
Each in our own way,
The Marine Corps world wide,
Law Enforcement at Home
When one of us falls,
We all grieve,
Each in our own way”
Eric Nash, Jim Williams, Lee Rhinemiller and Sgt. Major David R. Hatfield represent the Alexander Bonnyman Chapter of Knoxville’s Marine Corps League at the dedication of Burlington Branch Library honoring SP 4 Donald A. Sherrod.  Sherrod was killed in action during the Vietnam War 8 Aug 1966.  His decorations included the Silver Star, Bronze Star (with V), Purple Heart, and Vietnam/South East Asia service medals. Marine’s honor the fallen of all who fell serving the cause of human rights and the rule of law.  In this case it happens to be a member of the United States Army.
THE MUD RUN IS FOR MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN.  If you want to have a real “recruit” experience, Knoxville’s Marine Corps League will have experienced Drill Instructors to motivate you.  But the experience is scaled to those who just want to walk through the course and laugh at each other.  Its a great and unique day for the whole family.  Mark your calendar and sign up for Sept. 17, 2016. 
Contact for sign up forms or contact Commandant Big Jim Hatfield at (865) 740-4155.
As a former Cub Scout Master I wasn’t sure what to think about 8 year old Marines.  But on further consideration, whether these youngsters go on military service or not, they develop a unique sense of pride and dedication with real Marines as role models.  That sense of belonging to the best and striving to excel is inbred in Marine Corps training and service.  After working with trouble kids, I found without structure youngsters feel insecure. Without appropriate role models they are high risk of losing their way.  Therefore Young Marines deserve our wholehearted support.  Donors should contact Lt. Alexander Bonnyman (Medal of Honor) Knoxville Chapter of the Marine Corps League.
Marine Infantryman Okinawa WW II
Many Marine combat picture show them on the attack.  Marines are highly effective, when shock and speed are needed. They know the quicker they can overwhelm and subdue an enemy civilian and military losses will be far less than dallying about the objective.  That’s why Marines are impatient with the politically indecisively situations they’ve been forced to endue in recent times.  God Bless the Marines!
Knoxville’s Marine Corps League named itself the Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Detachment 924. Lt. Bonnyman’s Medal of Honor was awarded for his action on Tarawa during WW II. See and click on “Lt. Bonnyman” link.

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