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: http://www.vhfcn.org/stat.html (Whole portions of this content was copied directly from the referenced History.com source)
Best Ref: www.c-span.org/video/?320869-1/debate-vietnam-war
If you really want to get into the weeds see:  www.vvfh.org

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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