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The Christmas I Remember Best

In 1977, I was stationed on the USS Hermitage, LSD 34, out of Little Creek, Va., as an Operation Specialist. Our ship had returned from a Med cruise just before Christmas. I had not seen my family for eight months and had duty on Christmas day. My two week leave started on Dec. 29th.

Christmas day was gray and cloudy. The duty crew was served turkey with all the trimmings and the spirit of the season was there, but it wasn't the same as being at home. It was the first Christmas I had ever missed. I had to smile as I thought about my family, my grandparents and uncle, all enjoying Christmas like we always had. I hit the sack early that night.

I traveled home on the 29th and arrived late in the evening. It was good to be home after being gone for so long. I opened the door and the first thing I saw was the Christmas tree. All the presents were still there. The house was still fully decorated. My family had waited for me. We celebrated the next day and had a great time. It was truly a Christmas I will never forget. God bless America.

Rick Rozzelle
Hickory, NC

USS Arizona and why I am here.

I have nobody left living to pass this story to so I need to pass it on to someone. Even a stranger that reads this will understand why I had to tell it. I was born and I am alive because of an all night poker game. Strange as that sounds this is the story behind it. My father Bill Jones was in the Navy and stationed aboard the USS Arizona. It was a typical Sat. night and like most sailors he was enjoying some down time. He was playing poker, at one of those all night games, aboard a small boat in Pearl Harbor on that fateful Sunday morning in Dec .Many a night when at a friends house or in a corner bar playing cards. I would sit and listen to his story but was too young to recall all the details. By the time I was old enough to want the details he had passed on. I regret not getting some facts down on paper. The ones that I do remember was that the Japs had their sites set on the bigger ships and only straffed the boat he was on. If he was in his bunk like many of his friends were, then I would not of been here today to tell this story.

If you have someone that has served in the military and they tell you a story then listen to them. Also take notes because someday you may want to pass it along to someone. By the way when I sit and play cards with friends I can feel my father nudging my elbow telling me when to hold em and when to fold em. Just wish I had listened to him when I had the chance. Thank you for listening, Pat Jones

Pat Jones
Tallahassee, FL

Belated Welcome Home to Vietnam Veterans

Belated Welcome Home to Vietnam Veterans

.by Kathy Hooper on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 7:15am.Where were the ticker tape parades when you came marching in,

There were no songs on radios about how you came home again,

There was not an internet and you barely found pay phones,

You stood in silent wonderment in the land that you called home.

There was nobody there to greet you with a flag held in their hand,

You even felt liquid mucus when spit on by other men,

Silently you wondered why you even bothered to cry,

Nobody seemed to care at the countless soldiers you watched die.

There was not a fancy greeting celebration for all the men you knew,

If soldiers shouted Johnny is marching home again,

Some ignorant person would simply reply with Johnny who,

There were no festivities or honors for all of your returning troops.

Nobody seemed to bother about the battles you had fought,

They never asked about your time away in a land time forgot,

People did not greet you with a handshake or with a hug,

Instead they only sneered at you or simply gave you a shrug.

The times they have changed and your children have grown up,

Now they greet soldiers at the gate with lots of warm love,

The lessons have been learned from your fight in foreign lands,

Stand tall soldiers make them see you really gave a damn,

You served your homeland proudly and by damn you fought in Vietnam!

K. E. Hooper

Hazel Green, AL

the fall of saigon

it was the last day of the fall of vietnam..i went to my bus stop to ride out to saigon airport..i was the only one one on the 50 seater bus..there was a marine captain in charge of the we drove around saigon, we stopped at various pre-arranged stops, and lots of vietamese were waiting..the marine captain, following orders, would not let them on the bus..i finally went to the captain, and told him, that these vietnamese were my family, andd to let them on..he was a captain, i had major rank..they came on the stop..same thing..captain, that is is my wife and my stop, same thing, and on and on it went..until the marine captain turned to me and said, you seem to have a large family which i said, i have been here for 8 years..there were no more questions..they all came to the states..i did the right thing...and am proud of it..

mike marriott
lusby, MD

My Marine Grandson Bobby, Lost But Not Forgotten.

Bobby, Lost But Not Forgotten.

In February of 2006, my grandson, Lance Corporal Robert L. Moscillo deployed to Iraq for is first and only deployment. His mother, Donna, brother, David and I were there to see him off. I told Bobby not to be brave, just do what he had to do. Bobby replied as he stood straight up and said, "Grammy, I'd be proud to die for my God and my country." Shivers went up my spine when he said that. I told him how proud I was of him. And he told me, "We're going over there so they won't be coming over here." Bobby was a very dedicated and proud Marine. He was killed by an IED on May 1st, 2006. It will be 5 years this May and it stills feels like it was yesterday. His death impacted our whole family. Some came back to the Lord; and yes, some were angry with God at first. It did bring our family closer and we all still miss him so very much. We look at old pictures of him at family gatherings and when our family now gets together he is missed so very much. We all feel the void. And yet, we are proud of him. Two of his brothers joined the Marines, and a cousin also joined the Marines, because of him. Two are still in the Marines now; one in Afghanistan and one still in training in Virginia. I am one very proud Grandmother; proud of my Marine grandsons. Semper Fi.

Doris Dawson-Smith
Oceanside, CA

My gentle, wonderful, special husband

I met my wonderful husband after I graduated from college in Minnesota & moved to Texas & accepted my first teaching job. He was a squadron commander at a flight training school. To make a long story very short, he met my family in Minnesota & they fell in love with each other & we were married in Texas where he was a trainer in jet flying school. He took a "Boot Strap" program to get his college degree & shortly after that was assigned to the Vietnam conflict. He settled me in TX & ultimately was shot down over Laos, flying an A1E. I still miss him!!

Old Saybrook, CT

Home coming

When my dad came home from the war, he was spit on. It devastated him because he was so proud of fighting for our freedom and supporting our Country.

When my husband came home from VietNam...well you all know how that one went.

When my 'nephew' was home, he was at a mall and was horribly mistreated by young people who had/have no respect for our Servicemen/women.

I was in but never went oversea's and was told my service didn't count, I didn't do anything. I was in tele-communications; pretty impt piece of the equation. We were all honored and saluted at a ceremony sponsored by our community casino/Native Americans and other people and awarded medals by our State.. For many of us, it brought allot of healing.

We still love our Country and all of our service men and women. Thank you all.

Lincoln City, OR

My son

My son is proudly serving this wonderful country as a U.S Marine; he is my only child. He knew he wanted to be a Marine even as a young child; I kept thinking he would change his mind as he grew older; but one day he came home with the Recruiting Officer; he was only 17 so he knew he would need my signature. My hand was shaking as I signed those papers, but my heart was proud; proud that my son knew what he wanted to do even at age 17, knew that in this time of War where he would be going and going proudly. When your children are serving in the Military; the entire family serves with them. He made it safely through his first deployment and will soon be leaving for his second time over in Afghanistan. I will proudly hang my Blue Star Flag for my son once again and say my prayers every night for him and all our Military. He wouldn't want me to use his name as doesn't think of himself as a hero; he says he is just doing his job, but he is my hero and I am his proud mom.

San Antonio, TX

the Long Black Wall

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!

Arnie Waden
Austin, TX

Barber on the USS Borie

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.

Juli Bittner
Littleton, CO
Sunny Flowers Gift Boxed Travel Mug
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