Veterans News Blog

Vets Issues

Monthly Archives: April 2007

My Appearance is Coming up on My Point Radio on Sat. April 28th 8 p.m. EST 5 p.m. 

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click on the icon or here for My Point Radio

Also Appearing on the Same Show is David L. Robbins, NYT best selling author.

Friday, April 27

He is author of many great historical novels including these great books. 

War of the Rats

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“Immensely exciting and terribly authentic…White-knuckle tension as the two most dangerous snipers in Europe hunt each other through the hell of Stalingrad.”
—Frederick Forsyth

Last Citadel

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“Robbins recreates the battle (of Kursk) in this rousing novel. He has done extensive research into the weapons and planes used in the battle, bringing to life the horrors of war.”


Proposal for Cold War Victory Day in New York State on May 1st, 2007

WHEREAS, the Cold War (September 2, 1945 – December 26, 1991) was a long and costly struggle for freedom between the forces of democratic nations, led by the United States, against the tyranny and brutality of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; and

WHEREAS, the Cold War began after World War II with the threat of world domination in Europe and Asia by the Communist ideology and military action and that this unique war was marked by periodic confrontations between the West and East including international crises such as the Berlin Airlift in 1948, the Korean War, 1950 – 1953, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, and the Vietnam War, 1960 – 1975; and

WHEREAS, the end of the longest undeclared war in United States history began with the fall of the Berlin Wall, November 1989, and culminated with the collapse of the Soviet Union’s Communist government in December of 1991; and

WHEREAS, tens of thousands of New York State Veterans valiantly served in our nation’s armed forces during this long conflict with many sacrificing their lives; and

WHEREAS, the Cold War Veterans Association (CWVA) – a federally recognized Veteran’s Service Organization with numerous members in New York State has identified May 1st as the day to commemorate our Victory in the Cold War:

NOW, THEREFORE, I Eliot Spitzer, Governor of the Great State of New York, do hereby proclaim, May 1, 2007 as

Cold War Victory Day

in the State of _New York__ in honor of the brave men and women of __New York__ who helped our victory possible.

Cold War Veterans Association

Sean P. Eagan Director, New York State

14 Valley Street, Jamestown, New York 14701

Phone: 716-708-6416 E-Mail:

April 27th, 2007

Dear Governor Spitzer,

As New York State Director of the Cold War Veterans Association, I urge you to please give a strong show of support for all Cold War Veterans by declaring May 1st, 2007 as Cold War Victory Day.

Our nation remains strong and free because of the sacrifices that I made along with my fellow servicemen and women during the Cold War. Our president declared that we won the Cold War. Yet there has been very little and in some cases no effort to recognize the dedication and sacrifice that we Cold War Veterans made.

Please help us in receiving official appreciation for 2007. Your proclamation of May 1st as Cold War Victory day would send a strong message to the Cold War Veterans of our state that you appreciate and support the sacrifices that they made.

Thank you for taking the time with my request. The men and women who served in the Cold War who are your constituents here is this great state also thank you for supporting us in this important proclamation.


Sean P. Eagan
New York State, Director
Cold War Veterans Association
CWVA NY 716-708-6416

The Cold War Veterans Association is a tax-exempt 501(c)(19) Veterans Service Organization open to honorably discharged veterans who served during the Cold War period – September 2, 1945 to December 26, 1991

Cold War survival kits discovered
Tamiko Lowery / Opelika-Auburn News
April 23, 2007

A local church stairwell kept Cold War secrets of survival under lock and key for 40 years.

Construction workers at First Baptist Church of Opelika, 301 S. Eighth St., recently unlocked historic secrets during the church’s renovation project.

“We’re still in shock,” said Ken Adams, director of building maintenance at FBCO. “We were just amazed to find old stuff like that. All the medical kits were still intact. There were crackers, too, and one of the guys tried one, but said it was stale. So we threw the crackers out.”

While the food didn’t fare well over time, the Cold War survival kits did. The historical treasures found at the church have since been given to the Museum of East Alabama, located at 121 S. Ninth St., for display Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“The medical kits were dated in the ‘60s,” said Glenn Buxton, executive director of the Museum of East Alabama.

“This morning, we were given a 17 and a half-gallon metal barrel. We’re pleased to have this piece of local history,” he said Friday.

Local history means something to retired Lt. Col. Albert Killian, who has been a member of First Baptist Church of Opelika since 1941. He says that he, along with others, got a charge out of finding fall-out shelter items popular in the 1960s housed in a holy place.

“I thought, ‘How about that,’ ” Killian said. “There was an emergency toilet made out of a tin container that had toilet paper and a disposable chemical bag.”

While it was not uncommon for churches to serve as Cold War bomb shelters for the U.S. Department of Civil Defense, he says, recent church findings are a surprise – especially since the items have been well preserved.

“It’s a leftover from an era past when the threat of a nuclear explosion was upon us,” Killian said.

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Water pours from ports on the bottom of the Pickerel during an emergency surface. Crews filled ballast tanks with seawater to dive, Dunn said. During an emergency surface, they closed the ballast tank valves on the top of the submarine and forced air into the tanks, which pushed the water out the ports, causing the submarine to shoot to the surface.

Jim Dunn was scrubbing the deck of a seaplane tender at White Beach, Okinawa, when a submarine docked on the other side of the pier.

Submariners were volunteers, he said. They received incentive pay, ate better than anyone else in the Navy, dressed in civilian clothes when they went on liberty and stayed out as late as they wanted.

It was 1958, and Dunn was 21 years old. When he had liberty it was “Cinderella liberty” – he had to wear his uniform and be back at midnight.

“I decided I was in the wrong Navy and volunteered to be a submariner.”

He had to pass psychological tests, pressure tests and enter the bottom of a 100-foot diving tower and “blow and go” bubbles until he reached the top.

The air pressure at the bottom of the tank was 50 pounds per square inch, he said. The higher he went, the more the air expanded inside his lungs. Blowing bubbles kept them from bursting.

Deep water exerts a lot of pressure, he said. A line tied across the inside hull of a submarine will droop halfway to the floor when it dives to 1,000 feet. Submarines would implode if they went too deep.

The first submarine Dunn “rode” was the Gudgeon, a diesel, fast-attack submarine built after World War II.

It traveled 5 or 6 knots an hour at 400 feet, he said, had to come to periscope depth twice a day to vent exhaust, and it dripped hydraulic fluid onto the bunks. But he liked it because on a submarine, officers and enlisted men “were all the same.”

“In the words of Admiral (Bruce) DeMars: ‘We belonged to a very elite group,'” Dunn said.

Even the Soviet crews that they followed were considered brother submariners.

Dunn had to learn every job on the Gudgeon to qualify to be a submariner. It took him more than six months.

A submariner has to know everybody’s job, Dunn said, because when something goes wrong, there usually are only seconds to respond.

Dunn also qualified for and served on four other subs during his 16 years as a submariner: the Tiru and Pickerel, diesel submarines built at the end of World War II; and the Flasher and Tautog, nuclear-powered submarines. Dunn served on the Tautog for more than five years.

Nuclear subs could travel 25 knots an hour at a depth of 1,000 feet and stay submerged for months at a time.

“As long as we had food – that was the big thing,” Dunn said.

Dunn was a quartermaster, a term the Navy once used for a navigator.

On the Gudgeon, he had used maps, stars and the LORAN-A navigation system, which measured the time interval between three or more low-frequency, land-based radio transmitters to determine the position of a ship to within 10 to 15 miles.

By the time he was assigned to the Tautog, he was using satellite trackers.

Life on a nuclear sub was very, very secretive, Dunn said.

Crew members could never tell their family and friends what they were doing or where they had been.

And living inside a machine-filled, metal tube 1,000 feet below the surface of the ocean required some adjustments.

“When you worked on a submarine, you bathed before you left,” Dunn said, “because fresh water was always in short supply.”

Their water was distilled from sea water, he said. Even their oxygen was manufactured from sea water.

There were never enough bunks, Dunn said. Petty officers had their own bunks in the “mole hole,” but the rest of the crew lived with “hot bunking.” When one submariner was on watch, another slept in his bunk.

Dunn was assigned to the Tautog in December 1969 as lead quartermaster.

The Soviets had a submarine base at Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the North Pacific, he said.

“Between 1945 and 1991, there was always a U.S. submarine submerged off the coast of Petropavlovsk 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Dunn said. “But no one would talk about it.”

In June of 1970, the Tautog was two weeks into an eight-month-long West Pac (Western Pacific) tour when its crew discovered a new Soviet Echo II, K-class guided missile submarine about 14 miles west of Petropavlovsk.

The Tautog followed the Soviet sub for 1′ days while it did its sea trials – moving back and forth, doing figure-eights, sharp turns and dives, with the Tautog right behind.

Suddenly, about 2 a.m. on June 24, the Tautog’s sonar operators lost track of the Soviet sub.

Dunn had just finished his watch and was sleeping when he heard the sound of grinding metal and was thrown into the corner of his bunk.

Barefoot and half dressed, he scrambled up the ladder to his station in the control room. Broken coffee cups covered the floor. The captain was in his bathrobe.

Damage reports poured in: The Soviet sub had collided with the Tautog’s sail (the part above the deck), ruptured the Tautog’s top hatch and flooded the trunk of the sail.

If the Tautog stayed in the area, it would have been scuttled or forced to surface, Dunn said.

“There was only one thing to do.”

The captain ordered the sub to drop to 1,000 feet and head south.

Dunn was calculating the track when he heard the sonar man say that it sounded like the Soviet sub was breaking up. Dunn pushed the thought away; he had too much to do.

Later it hit him, Dunn said. The Soviet sub would have gone down with as many as 130 submariners on board.

“I felt horrible,” Dunn said. “I had problems sleeping for years. I would try to go to sleep and have weird dreams that I was in a coffin, and someone was trying to push the lid down when I was trying to get out.” Read Entire Article from the Casa Grande Dispatch

Islamo-Fascism Awareness Day
Terrorism Awareness Project: Islamo Fascism Awareness Day
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Join the Terrorism Awareness Project in a mass-screening of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War against the West

Towanda American Legion honors first female commander

TOWANDA – Charlotte Madden Gates of Towanda was honored at a banquet held on Sunday afternoon for her 10-plus years of service to the Towanda American Legion Post 42 Honor Guard.

At the event, which more than 60 people attended, Gates received a citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives presented to her by Rep. Tina Pickett; a certificate from the Veterans’ Appreciation Committee; and a pin presented to her by Joyce Richlin, member of the Post 42 Ladies Auxiliary, according to Diane Elliott of Towanda.

Gates was also honored with a birthday cake during the banquet in celebration of her 84th birthday, which was April 15, Elliott explained.

According to Dan Rungo, vice commander, Gates was the first woman in Bradford County to volunteer for the draft during World War II. Gates served in the Marine Corps from 1943 until 1945 as a telephone operator at Camp Pendleton, Calif. During that time she also was a member of the Woman’s Marine Dance Band, “Camp Bugler.” “I was real popular then,” Gates said.
Gates was “first and only” woman commander of the Towanda American Legion Post, and according to Rungo, she was also a member of the Ladies Auxiliary for many years, as well as being instrumental in forming the color guard and honor guard.

“I have enjoyed all the years of work,” said Gates, who added that she especially enjoyed the funeral guard color guard. “We do it for any veteran even if they aren’t a member of the post,” something which not all posts will do, said Gates.

“I thank everyone for doing this; it was nice,” Gates said as she expressed her gratitude to everyone who honored her at Sunday’s banquet.

Gretchen Balshuweit can be reached at (570) 265-1639 or by e-mailing:

Title of the Photo is (Fort)Sill-1


A Must Read Email

This is a email I recieved from Roger Helbig at

From: Robert P. Walsh
Sent: Sunday, April 22, 2007 9:35 AM
To: Mike Bird , Col Dan
Subject: FW: From a pilot on his trip back home …

We do not have bad news coverage in this country. We have NO news coverage
in this country.

Bob Walsh

From a pilot on his trip back home …

February 17, 2007,

I was at curbside at 24th and M, Washington DC. 16 Degrees with a light
breeze. Going west after my second week of freezing temps to my warm home in
SoCal. Take a walk on the beach, ride a horse, climb a mountain and get back
to living. I’m tired of the cold.


paying the taxi fare at Dulles in front of the United Airlines counter,
still cold.


engaged the self-serve ticket machine and it delivers my ticket, baggage tag
and boarding pass. Hmmm, that Marine over there is all dressed up in his
dress blues a bit early this morning… “Good Morning Captain, you’re
looking sharp.” He says, “Thank you, sir.”

Pass security and to my gate for a decaf coffee and 5 hours sleep. A quick
check of the flight status monitor and UA Flt 211 is on time. I’m up front,
so how bad can that be? Hmmm, there’s that same Marine. He must be heading
to Pendleton to see his lady at LAX for the long weekend, all dressed up
like that. Or maybe not. I dunno.

The speaker system announces “Attention in the boarding area, we’ll begin
boarding in 10 minutes, we have some additional duties to attend to this
morning, but we’ll have you out of here on time.”

The Marine Captain has now been joined by five others. BINGO, I get it,
he’s not visiting his lady, he’s an official escort. I remember doing that
once, CACO duty. I still remember the names of the victim and family, the
Bruno Family in Mojave – all of them. Wow, that was 24 years ago.

On board, 0600:

“Good morning folks, this is the Captain. This morning we’ve been
attending to some additional duties, and I apologize for being 10 minutes
late for push back, but I believe we’ll be early into LAX. This morning it
is my sad pleasure to announce that 1st LT Jared Landaker, USMC will be
flying with us to his Big Bear home in Southern California. Jared lost his
life over the skies of Iraq earlier this month, and today we have the honor
of returning him home along with his mother, father and brother . Please
join me in making the journey comfortable for the Landaker family and their
uniformed escort. Now sit back and enjoy your ride. We’re not expecting
any turbulence until we reach the Rocky Mountain area, but we’ll do what we
can to ensure a smooth ride. For those interested, you can listen in to our
progress on Channel 9.”

Click Channel 9: “Good morning UA 211. You are cleared to taxi, takeoff
and cleared to LAX as filed.”

4 hours and 35 minutes later over Big Bear, CA, the AB320 makes a left roll,
a steep bank and then one to the right. Nice touch. Nice tribute. Five
minutes out from landing, the Captain comes on the speaker: “Ladies and
Gentlemen, after landing I’m leaving the fasten seatbelt sign on, and I ask
everyone to please yield to the Landaker family. Please remain seated until
all members of the family have departed the aircraft. Thank you for your
patience. We are 20 minutes early.”

On roll out, I notice red lights, emergency vehicles approaching. We’re
being escorted directly to our gate, no waiting, not even a pause. Out the
left window, a dozen Marines in full dress blues. A true class act by
everyone, down to a person. Way to go United Airlines for doing things
RIGHT, Air Traffic Control for getting the message, and to all security
personnel for your display of brotherhood.

When the family departed the aircraft everyone sat silent, then I heard a
lady say,”God Bless you and your family, and thank you.” Then a somber round
of applause. The Captain read a prepared note from Mrs. Landaker to the
effect, “Thank you all for your patience and heartfelt concern for us and
our son. We sincerely appreciate the sentiment. It’s good to have Jared

After departing the aircraft I found myself along with 30 others from our
flight looking out the lobby window back at the plane. Not a dry eye. It was
one of the most emotional moments I’ve ever experienced. We all stood there
silently, and watched as Jared was taken by his honor guard to an awaiting
hearse. Then the motorcade slowly made it’s way off the ramp.

I realized I had finally seen the silent majority. It is deep within us
all. Black, Brown, White, Yellow, Red, Purple, we’re all children, parents,
brothers, sisters, etc – we are an American family.

Official Report: February 7, 2007, Anbar Province, Iraq .. 1st LT Jared
Landaker United States Marine Corps, from Big Bear California, gave his
live in service to his country. Fatally wounded when his CH-46 helicopter
was shot down by enemy fire. Jared and his crew all perished. His life was
the ultimate sacrifice of a grateful military family and nation.

His death occurred at the same time as Anna Nicole Smith, a drug using
person with a 7th grade education of no pedigree who dominated our news for
two weeks while Jared became a number on CNN. And most unfortunately,
Jared’s death underscores a fact that we are a military at war, not a nation
at war.

It has been said that Marines are at war – America is at the mall.

1st LT Landaker, a man I came to know in the sky’s over America on 17
February 2007, from me to you, aviator to aviator, I am unbelievably
humbled. It was my high honor to share your last flight. God bless you.

War Becomes Personal at Academy

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War is what cadets train for at the nation’s oldest private military academy.

The grim reality of that career path is hitting home for the officers-to-be in the student body at Norwich University with the deaths of two former students in Iraq, within three days of each other.

“It’s kind of like surreal now because before I heard names, you know, and I saw pictures and I didn’t know them so it was kind of removed,” said senior Cadet Jonathan Pride, 21, who graduates next month and will be commissioned an Army lieutenant. “Now, it’s somebody I know. It’s kind of like ‘Wow, there really is a war out there.'”

Norwich, founded in 1819, has been training officers for battle on its picturesque hilltop campus since before the Civil War.

The school lost at least 52 graduates in the Civil War, 16 in World War I, 86 in World War II, three in Korea and 22 in Vietnam, although college officials say the numbers are imprecise.

And since the war began in Iraq, it has lost four graduates, including two this month:

_Army Capt. Anthony Palermo Jr., 27, of Brockton, Mass., was killed April 6 by an improvised explosive device that detonated near his Humvee in Baghdad. He attended Norwich for four years before graduating from Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts in 2003.

_Army Sgt. Adam Kennedy of Norfolk, Mass., was killed April 8 when he was hit while on patrol near Diwaniyah, Iraq. He graduated from Norwich in 2004.

“For the last three or four days, almost every senior I’ve talked to that’s going to be commissioning in the Army had some kind of different temperance about them,” said junior Kim Sorber, of Dallas, Pa., who is due to receive her commission in just over a year. “They’ve got some kind of, not even hesitance, but just a different, lower, more modest temperance about them.”

Last year, Norwich produced more second lieutenants for the Army than any other college except the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Not every student is headed for a military career. Of the 1,950 who attend, 1,150 are members of the Corps of Cadets and only a portion of those are seeking officers’ commissions.

It is an “awesome responsibility to prepare them, to guide them,” said Commandant of Cadets Michael Kelley, a 1974 graduate and retired Army colonel. “The group that’s here today came post 9/11. Every one of them knew the world order had changed.”

During his student years at Norwich, five alumni died in Vietnam. But Kelley couldn’t remember anything being done for any of them. Today, however, “our students take so proudly the service of others,” he said.

Fallen Norwich graduates are remembered on the Harmon Wall, a granite monument on which are inscribed the names of graduates and others who have contributed to the community, not just those killed in action. It is named for former Norwich President Gen. Ernest Harmon.

Kennedy and Palermo, whose names will be on the wall’s yet-to-be inscribed 2007 section, also will be remembered by the Corps of Cadets at a May 3 ceremony known as “echo taps.”

The entire Corps of Cadets will gather in full dress uniform just before 11 p.m. and be called to attention with whispered orders. Following a salute of 21 shots by a firing party, two buglers at different locations on campus will play taps, a beat apart, just enough to make the sound appear to echo.

Pride and Sorber attended echo taps for 1st Lt. Mark Dooley, a 2001 graduate killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in September 2005.

Pride was a member of the firing party.

“I was crying on the platform,” Pride said. “It can be anybody. It can be him, it can be Kim, it can be anybody. We are all connected in this. We are at a small school. We are all connected in some way. It was almost as if part of me died.”

AP full article


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Navy Blue Angel jet crashed during an air show Saturday, plunging into a neighborhood of small homes and trailers and killing the pilot.

Witnesses said the planes were flying in formation during the show at the Marine Corps Air Station at about 4 p.m. and one dropped below the trees and crashed, sending up clouds of smoke.

Raymond Voegeli, a plumber, was backing out of a driveway when the plane ripped through a grove of pine trees, dousing his truck in flames and debris. He said wreckage hit “plenty of houses and mobile homes.”

“It was just a big fireball coming at me,” said Voegeli, 37. “It was just taking pine trees and just clipping them.”

Witnesses said metal and plastic wreckage _ some of it on fire _ hit homes in the neighborhood, located about 35 miles northwest of Hilton Head Island. William Winn, the county emergency management director, said several homes were damaged. Eight people on the ground were injured.

The crash took place in the final minutes of the air show, said Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Walley, a Blue Angel pilot. The pilots were doing a maneuver which involved all six planes joining from behind the crowd to form a Delta triangle, said Lt. Cmdr. Garrett D. Kasper, spokesman for the Blue Angels. One plane did not rejoin the formation.

Walley said the name of the pilot would not be released until relatives were notified of the death. A Navy statement said the pilot had been on the team for two years _ and it was his first as a demonstration pilot.

“Our squadron and the entire U.S. Navy are grieving the loss of a great American, a great Naval officer and a great friend,” Walley said.

Kasper said all possible causes of the crash are under investigation, and it could take at least three weeks for an official cause to be released.

John Sauls, who lives near the crash site, said the planes were banking back and forth before one disappeared, and a plume of smoke shot up.

“It’s one of those surreal moments when you go, ‘No, I didn’t just see what I saw,'” Sauls said.

The Blue Angels fly F/A-18 Hornets at high speeds in close formations, and their pilots are considered the Navy’s elite. They don’t wear the traditional G-suits that most jet pilots use to avoid blacking out during maneuvers. The suits inflate around the lower body to keep blood in the brain, but which could cause a pilot to bump the control stick _ a potentially deadly move when flying inches from other planes.

Instead, Blue Angels manage G-forces by tensing their abdominal muscles.

The last Blue Angel crash that killed a pilot took place in 1999, when a pilot and crewmate were killed while practicing for air shows with the five other Blue Angels jets at a base in Georgia.

Saturday’s show was at the beginning of the team’s flight season, and more than 100,000 people were expected to attend. The elite team, which is based at Pensacola Naval Air Station, recently celebrated its 60th anniversary.

The 2007 team has a new flight leader and two new pilots; Blue Angel pilots traditionally serve two-year rotations.

Kasper said the team would return to Florida on Sunday afternoon. “We will regroup,” he said.