Words For Warriors Project


A truly MAGNIFICENT and NOBLE effort by one single lady for the welfare of our returning warriors! (Note: you can see a picture of me and my son in the book.)

Life In The Gym

A few days ago I mentioned that I was involved in a new project that was testing some of my weaker personality traits. I explained how I was using some of the lessons I’ve learned in the gym over the years to make a successful go of it despite said weaknesses and that it was generally working out quite well. What I did was create a military veteran support project of my own. I incorporated it, so it’s an official entity and yours truly is the President!

The mission of the Words For Warriors Project is to collect letters of encouragement/support/appreciation from people (both with and without a military background) to our veterans. The letters are put into a book and then distributed free of charge through VA hospitals/clinics and veteran’s organizations.

I’m very excited to say that the first edition of Words For Warriors has been published and the distribution…

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Home to Heroes


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A journey to the Riverside National Cemetery for this Memorial Day weekend was deemed in order.

Just my way of saying “Thank you” to three men… and Marge Johnson as well.

I was told that the Boy Scouts planted over 200,000 flags for this weekend.  Well, there’s a few more flags now…  albeit just small tokens of appreciation from me, they are recognition of what America deeply owes them.

If you never served (like me), you should be grateful that these men did…  instead of you.

In a documentary, a paralyzed Marine who made it back from Iwo Jima said one indescribable smell resonates in him to that day: the sweet, distinct smell of fresh blood squirting out from a wound to the jugular vein.  He said if you smelled that, it signaled a dying Marine.

The Riverside National Cemetery is the third-largest cemetery managed by the National Cemetery Administration.  It is also home of the Medal of Honor Memorial and only one of four sites recognized as a National Medal of Honor Memorial Site.  The Medal of Honor Memorial’s walls feature the names of all medal recipients.

(Note: By clicking on the images, you should be able to download full rez image files.)

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The uncle of one of our most patriotic bloggers, “pacificparatrooper“, is interred here.

Master Sergeant James O’Leary, USMC.

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He rests in this peaceful grassy knoll next to our other patriots…

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To learn about MSgt. O’Leary’s military service, please click on this link to read one of gpcox’s stories about her uncle: MSgt James O’Leary.  You will also learn how gpcox’s family has been serving our country for many decades, including her father “Smitty” who endured combat with the famed 11th Airborne during WWII.

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Of course, a visit to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson was in order.

Mr. Johnson was a decorated Marine fighting on board CV-6, the USS Enterprise, during the Battle of Midway and the most brutal Solomon Islands campaign in WWII.

Marge recently passed away; I was unable to fulfill my promise to take her again to visit with her husband… but then again, they are together for eternity now.  I felt Marge would like some flowers and took an Old Glory for Mr. Johnson.  He loved the Corps.  You can read about Mr. Johnson, USMC here: Mr. Johnson, USMC.

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Interestingly, I learned something about Mr. Johnson’s service in the US Marine Corps.  His enlistment was longer than what I was led to believe.  He was but 16 when he “got suckered” into enlisting.  I’ll need to write about that later, I guess.

May they both happily rest in peace together.

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I have come to know Grace and her husband Bernie though a close knit national Mustang club.  No, not the horse.  The car.

Her fist husband was US Army Staff Sergeant Robert Hartsock.  His name is etched into the Medal of Honor Memorial wall.  He was killed in action at just 24 years of age in Viet Nam.  He was but two months away from ending his tour of duty and left a son, Dion.

Staff Sergeant Hartsock’s official Medal of Honor citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. Hartsock, distinguished himself in action while serving as section leader with the 44th Infantry Platoon. When the Dau Tieng Base Camp came under a heavy enemy rocket and mortar attack, S/Sgt. Hartsock and his platoon commander spotted an enemy sapper squad which had infiltrated the camp undetected. Realizing the enemy squad was heading for the brigade tactical operations center and nearby prisoner compound, they concealed themselves and, although heavily outnumbered, awaited the approach of the hostile soldiers. When the enemy was almost upon them, S/Sgt. Hartsock and his platoon commander opened fire on the squad. As a wounded enemy soldier fell, he managed to detonate a satchel charge he was carrying. S/Sgt. Hartsock, with complete disregard for his life, threw himself on the charge and was gravely wounded. In spite of his wounds, S/Sgt. Hartsock crawled about 5 meters to a ditch and provided heavy suppressive fire, completely pinning down the enemy and allowing his commander to seek shelter. S/Sgt. Hartsock continued his deadly stream of fire until he succumbed to his wounds. S/Sgt. Hartsock’s extraordinary heroism and profound concern for the lives of his fellow soldiers were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

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May they all rest in peace.

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Blooms at Riverside National Cemetery near MSgt. O’Leary.

Thriving Love


Although many readers will be busy into their three-day weekend, it was deemed appropriate to re-blog last year’s Memorial Day post of Mrs. Marge Johnson.
I had promised to take her back to visit her husband in a couple of months…but that was never to be. She also passed away after an illness.
While her husband Sgt. Doreston Johnson survived combat during WWII, I still believe it fitting to reshare their story. In addition, her first visit to see her husband is chronicled here: https://p47koji.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-humbling-easter-sunday/
Enjoy your weekend.

Masako and Spam Musubi

2013-05-25 11.08.19 Marge and I at Riverside National Cemetery, Memorial Day Weekend 2013

A LETTER…

[Please also see “Mr. Johnson, USMC” if you wish to learn the background of this couple from the Greatest Generation by clicking on the link.]

Dear Marge,

Well, Marge, you made it indeed…  To see your beloved husband Johnnie for Memorial Day.

A heroic US Marine who fought on-board the USS Enterprise in World War II.

Decorated.

And he was but 17 years old when he set sail for the Battle of Midway.

Seventeen.  You said he was still in high school when he signed up for the Marines.  Unbelievable.

We were met by thousands of American flags being planted by hundreds of Boy Scouts and volunteers.  You were so happy to see the red, white and blue saturating the cemetery, bit by bit.

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While the Boy Scouts hadn’t made it yet to your husband’s resting place…

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Memorial Day 2014


Most sincere words about Memorial Day…

Jan Morrill Writes

I’ll admit, for me, Memorial Day often represents the first long weekend of the year, the kick-off of summer. I knew it had to do with remembering military service men and women, and I knew that it was a weekend when my parents remembered their lost loved ones.

I never really thought about it beyond that, and I’m ashamed to admit it. But this morning, one of my favorite commercials came on during the news:

imageI love this commercial, probably because it reminds me of how I used to feel when my dad arrived home from one of his trips. As a pilot in the Air Force, he was often gone for months at a time, and when he arrived home, sometimes by surprise and sometimes not, it was as if all was right with the world again.

So, this commercial prompted me to look up the “real” meaning of…

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Two Old Keys to Memorial Day


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Old Man Jack entrusted me with his house keys “…in case he shot himself in the foot” as he put it. Now covered in dust is Old Man Jack’s favorite baby – the F4U Corsair albeit a toy. He would push that button in once in a while, listen to this toy’s engine sound and watch the prop spin… It would echo a bit in my hallway…

I looked at these two old keys in my hand.  They belonged to Old Man Jack and the thought of Memorial Day instantly crossed my mind.

Two old keys to Memorial Day.

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A year ago, I had written a blog about Memorial Day (“It” and Memorial Day).

At times, I feel the meaning of Memorial Day has either faded or has changed.

In essence, many people living in today’s “politically correct” society have taken the sacrifices of our fallen to mean a three day weekend.

Sad…but that’s how I feel.. and it angers me.

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When I looked at those two keys, my mind raced to some of the things Old Man Jack said.

But mostly, to the things he could not say.

In the twelve years I was honored to know him, he would abruptly blurt out something once in a while when we were talking in his garage… while sitting in the blue wheelchair that belonged to his wife.

There was no story associated with these mutterings.

“Boys got killed on those stinkin’ islands…” then raise his thick, white eyebrows.

Or, “Hell, I pissed in my pants.”

Or once in a while, he would make a muffled smack with his lips then slowly shake his head left and right… and not say anything more.

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One such utterance was mentioned in “Old Man Jack’s Love”.

Upon gazing upon his beloved Corsair in front of him after over 60 years, he began weeping.

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Ground crew working on a Corsair in heavy rain.

After recovering and meandering next to his plane, he simply let out, “Some of (the pilots) just didn’t come back.  I could never stop thinking, ‘Did a Jap get him… or was it me?’”

He said that because as Ground Crew Chief, he was responsible for the airworthiness of the plane a young Navy or Marine pilot would take out on a mission…to shoot at the enemy…or be shot at.  These planes had to be in the best fighting condition as lives depended on it.  But he frequently said “they had to make do” because they never had enough spare parts… so they HAD to improvise.

One time, he said a bushing had been shot out on a plane that had to go on a mission the next morning.  Old Man Jack did what he could.  What he must.  He soaked two pieces of coconut logs in engine oil overnight.  When it came time for the pilot to take off, he clamped the oil soaked wood around the cabling and used baling wire to clamp them together as tightly as he could.  The plane left on its mission – with the young pilot behind the stick…in a plane with oil soaked coconut log as a bushing.

Unbelievable.

Now perhaps you understand the depth of his utterance of, “…or was it me?”

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Old Glory shimmering off a P-51 Mustang at the Chino Planes of Fame Museum.

I will never have an answer because the question could never have been asked of him.

But I feel Old Man Jack carried tremendous guilt in his heart about something that happened on those stinkin’ islands.

Not just bad; real bad.

Deep down, my heart tugs at me that someone within Old Man Jack’s reach died that shouldn’t have… and that Old Man Jack feels personally responsible for his death… and he carried that anguish for all these years.

Torment.

Grief.

Guilt.

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As Old Man Jack said, some of the young pilots didn’t come back.

They were killed or are forever missing in action.

That is for whom Memorial Day is all about.

To remember and honor those that did not come back…and not a Memorial Day sale.

Two old keys to Memorial Day…