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I joined the Marines in 1969 but was unable to serve in Nam due to a medical condition I suffered while at Camp Pendleton. I recently visited The Wall and came away changed. When I got home I wrote these words.
I met a man I did not know beside a long black wall.
And as he reached to touch its face the tears began to fall.
I too was there the man explained and as he wept I knew
We shared a fate for though we lived our names could be there too.
We paused a moment silently and then he turned to say
It's been so long but still I see it clear as yesterday.
The bullets screaning by my head. The thought that I might die.
But then they took one next to me. No time to wonder why.
He reached to touch a faceless name and then he bowed his head.
Had this one not been there for me I surely would be dead.
I fought to find the words that I could say to ease his pain.
But I like he knew all too well forgetting is in vain.
For on that wall resides the names of all of those who fell
So long ago. So far away. But their stories we must tell
to all our children so that they will know and then believe
That Freedom is for everyone, but Freedom is not free.
To all of those who served then and those who are serving now I say thank you. Untill all are Free - None are free!
A bellowing voice called out, "Who here can cut hair?" My father, a fresh Navy volunteer who had never cut a hair on another human being's head applied for the job.
"I thought it would be better than standing on the hot deck or washing clothes," he recalled when my sister and I giggled. He continued, "Well, your Grandfather always cut my hair and I guess I just figured it wouldn't be that hard!" "The next day they came down to my bunk and said, 'You’re the new barber. Report tomorrow.'"
The USS Borie destroyer was headed to Viet Nam and my Father started his duty as soon as they were on the water. One day the Captain came down. He needed an actual haircut, not just a buzz job. His hands trembled, but the Captain walked away with a "nice looking haircut and both ears intact," Dad said, smiling.
Every night while on gun duty, he watched the dark sky light up with tracer bullets, flares and gunfire. Every day, wearing his clean white smock, he manned his barber chair. Six hours on, six hours off for 30 days straight.
On his trip home, he got a message that the Admiral would be on board in 48 for an inspection. Dad, an E3 Petty Officer, cut 279 heads of hair in two days. No ears lost, no complaints. Dad even walked away with a letter of recommendation from the Captain.
My Father didn't continue cutting hair when he was out of the Navy, probably because my sister and I would never let him get near ours! He doesn't talk much about the war, he didn't see as much as other soldiers, but he does smile proudly when he tells us the story of how he became the ship’s barber.
My Dad served in Vietnam from January 1970 to January 1971 as a Marine with the First Marine Division Alpha and Charlie Company 2nd Platoon.
A few months after arriving in Nam, he volunteered to become a Radioman...no one really wanted that job because it was very dangerous, the enemy made certain that he would be the first to get killed. No radio no support.
My Dad step up to becoming a Radioman...he told me that his vocabulary was limited and he had trouble pronouncing many english words. He mostly spoke Tex/Mex. But he was a very big and strong man.
He told me that the rules were very simple, to say "No" was to say Negative, to say "Yes" was to say Affirmative, and a sacred word was the word "Repeat" (had something to do with artillery and friendly fire)...well he could not pronounce word "Affirmative"...not that the Marines in his Unit were making fun of him, it's because his way of saying affirmative sounded very funny.
So one day somewhere in the Jungle's of Vietnam, he got tired of been laughed at trying to say "Affirmatiive". Around April of 1970, instead of saying affirmative, he was the first to come up with the Radio expression, "Roger That" instead of Affirmative.
Today "Roger That" is commonly used in War Movies and by many who served in the Military...Thank you Dad...we love you and also for telling us your War Stories.
I just wanted to thank you for posting the video Freedom isn't Free. While watching it, I saw my cousins name on the memorial wall. Donnie Jay Bragg. Donnie left us way too soon, but his memory lives on. I have such great childhood memories from summer vacations on their farm in West Virginia.
Seeing his name made me feel so proud. I felt like that was a sign from him...after all these years...looking down saying, "Hey little cousin" with his big ole smile.
Thank you again for the video!
My Grandfather’s unit captured Coburg, Germany, which was the seat of the British Royal Crown. Queen Victoria’s mother was from Coburg and Queen Victoria’s Husband, Prince Albert was born there (Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha).
According to my Grandfather, the people were very friendly but begged the GIs to not eat their chickens. Unfortunately, they ate the chickens because other food sources were scarce, as one can imagine. Anyway, one day my Uncle Peter (also a war vet), his mother, my Aunt, Grandma and Grandpa were having dinner together and my Grandpa mentioned this story. He spoke of how his tank fired shots at the castle and various other places in their fight with the Nazis.
Suddenly, my Uncle Peter’s mother exclaimed teasingly, “It was you! You destroyed my house!” You see, my Uncle’s mother is from Coburg (as is my Uncle). So my Aunt used to tease my grandpa saying that it was his fault that Peter and my Aunt met and got married, since his unit captured it from the Nazis, and due to a large US Army presence afterwards, kept it from falling behind the Iron Curtain.
My Dad is Donald N. Blanton, US Marine. If you know a Marine, you know "Once a Marine always a Marine." He served in Vietnam in the late 60's and early 70's. A number of men in my family have served this wonderful country and loved it when they did and still love it to this day. Serving his country made an ever lasting impression on my Dad. He would go back and fight today if they would let him. He is 63 now (sorry Dad - have to make a point) and too old to be active, but as I said "Once a Marine always a Marine." He now is very active with the Patriot Guard in the State of Maryland. Most people know who the Patriot Guard are but if you don't they attend the funerals of our young men and women who gave the ultimate for their country - their lives - and salute, say a prayer, and keep unwanted protesters from interfering in the privacy of the family. This is his ULTIMATE THANK YOU to these young heros. His way of paying his respects to all the men/women who lost their lives doing exactly what he did - PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF OUR COUNTRY AND ALL THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE. Thank you Dad, and all the men and women who have served, who are serving, and who will serve this country and its people. If you run into a Veteran or Active member of our military, take the time to shake their hand and thank them for their service. It's the least WE CAN DO. I love you Dad. YOU ARE MY DAD, MY HERO.
I am PFC Ellis, Jontell D.
I enlisted in the US Army Reserve July 10th 2002. My ETS date was July 11th, 2010. My MOS was Chemical Ops Specialist-Dragon Soldier.
My unit was put on a homeland defense mission for 3-4 years. Before then, I was with a detachment who helped the company with their mission. I participated in an overseas mission in Camp Carroll, South Korea.
One of my best friends is currently serving in Afghanistan and he has done 2 tours in Iraq. My grandfather was in Air Force and retired there. He was in the Vietnam War. I am the only woman in my immediate family to have enlisted in the military.
I am honored to have served and would serve again if I could. I honor, respect and support ALL branches of Armed Forces. I salute you!