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.

48 thoughts on “Home to Heroes”

    1. Have you watched, “The Pacific”, an HBO mini-series by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg? Of course, NO movie can put a viewer truly onto the black sands of Iwo Jima or the jungles of Guadalcanal… Only THEY can know what it was like. The carnage they saw and were part of for sake of freedom and their fellow Marines or soldiers.

  1. Koji, you do the military brilliant and memorable posts to be proud of! I can not thank you enough for you visit to Uncle Jim’s site and addition of another flag – how does one repay a friend for such loyal camaraderie?

    1. Thanks for recommending this blog, what a great find! I’ve become an instant loyal follower 🙂

    1. When leaders fail to get along with each other, war erupts. Many die. I wish these elected leaders would just go to an island and stage their own war… Thank you, Melanie!

  2. I can’t write much right now – but had to say that I love love love your photography- I can feel a sense of your style in them and they are artsy and wonderful. be back later my friend – 🙂

      1. I saw it as an honor that a fellow patriot would allow me to pay respects. It is even more mind-boggling when you realize her father and my uncle were on the same island during WWII – Leyte – but on opposite sides of the fence. Thank you for your compliment!

  3. What a beautiful post and what a wonderful person to pay tribute to friends and family of friends you’ve met online. Excellent job.

  4. You have introduced us to so many wonderful people, Koji. You have a heart for Veterans that is rare because it isn’t just words, you take action! You give tribute AND support! I admire that.

  5. Thank you Mustang.Koji for you focus and heart of respect for those who fought for our country and for other people .

    I didn’t realize gpcox was a woman, I’m surprised to say the least but her focus and respect for our Soldiers is to be appreciated like yours too.

    Christian Love from us both – Anne

  6. An interesting and informative post, Msgt Oleary was not exactly a young soldier when he served in Vietnam as indicated on his memorial plaque.
    A fine career soldier no doubt.
    Emu aka Ian

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