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Monthly Archives: August 2008

Governor General announces new Sacrifice Medal for wounded, killed in action

1 day ago

OTTAWA — The Governor General has announced the creation of a new medal, equivalent to the U.S. Purple Heart, as a way of acknowledging soldiers and civilians killed or wounded by hostile fire.

For the military, the Sacrifice Medal will replace the understated army tradition of awarding wound stripes – small strips of gold braid worn on the left sleeve – which dates back to the First World War.

Diplomatic and development staff, as well as civilian contractors, who are increasingly in the line of fire in Afghanistan, are also eligible for the award. However, journalists embedded with the Canadian military and Canadians working for international aid agencies don’t qualify.

“Our soldiers deserve our utmost respect and deepest gratitude,” Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean said in a statement.

“This medal recognizes the valued contribution of those who sacrificed their health or their lives while serving Canada.”

The round, silver medal is 36 millimetres across, has a clasp at the top of it in the form of the Royal Crown and is attached to red, black and white ribbon.

There’s a profile of the Queen on one side wearing a crown of maple leaves and snow flakes and an image from the Vimy Memorial on the other side with the word “Sacrifice.”

Eligibility for the medal has been backdated to Oct. 7, 2001, meaning it will be posthumously awarded to the 93 soldiers and one diplomat killed in Afghanistan since the war began. Hundreds of wounded soldiers are also eligible.

Recognition for those who made the ultimate sacrifice was a major consideration when criteria were established, said Marie-Paule Thorn, a spokeswoman for the Governor General.

Limiting the medal to the Afghan conflict irks both the Royal Canadian Legion and individual veterans who have been fighting for years for a medal to replace the wound stripe.

“We’re please for veterans,” said Bob Butt, communications director for the Legion. “We were hoping it would go back beyond the date (the government) has made it retroactive to, but they haven’t done that.

“Although we still support the medal. Anything that honours somebody who serves in the Canadian Forces is a good thing.”

The notion of replacing the voluntary wound stripe, first introduced in 1916, was controversial within the rank and file of the army.

Soldiers don’t like to talk about wounds. Many brush off injuries as something to be expected in their line of work and say medals only draw unwanted attention.

Thorn said the regulations allow a soldier to decide whether or not to wear the medal in public.

The steady stream of casualties coming out of Afghanistan in the fall of 2006 prompted many veterans to clamour for recognition of the wounded.

Murray Sinnott, an ex-soldier and retired city police officer from Windsor, Ont., started a grassroots campaign for a medal he called the Crimson Maple Leaf.

But Sinnott, a former member of the Canadian Guards regiment, doesn’t like the idea of giving the medal to civilians.

“It should be for soldiers under hostile fire, not some civilian contractor hiding a bunker who happens to get shrapnel in his leg,” he said in an interview.

Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, who also campaigned for wounded veterans, disagreed, saying all Canadians who put themselves in harm’s way deserve the recognition.

The guidelines drawn up by the Directorate of Honours and Recognition at National Defence stipulate that only civilians employed by the federal government – either directly or on contract – qualify for the medal.

The definition covers diplomatic and development staff as well as civilian contractors in Afghanistan.

This is the second new medal introduced this year. A new, Canadian version of the Victoria Cross was unveiled in the spring as the highest honour that can be awarded for battlefield bravery.

Fallen, wounded soldiers in line for new medal
The Queen has approved an award for troops injured or killed in Afghanistan since October, 2001

OLIVER MOORE

August 30, 2008

HALIFAX — Members of the Canadian military killed or injured in combat will be in line to receive a new Sacrifice Medal similar to the U.S. Purple Heart, the Governor-General announced yesterday.

Eligibility for the medal will be back-dated to October, 2001, meaning that it may be awarded to all those killed or wounded during the entire Afghan conflict. Recipients must have been injured seriously enough to require treatment and result in a medical report, said Marie-Paule Thorn, a spokeswoman for Rideau Hall.

“I would imagine they’d better start minting them pretty fast, because I think we’ve probably got a backlog of about 1,000,” said retired major-general Lewis MacKenzie. “When people talk about the few hundred we’ve had wounded, seriously wounded, they don’t include the people hit in a roadside bomb and then back at work the next day.”

The new medal is similar in intent to the Purple Heart, which is awarded to U.S armed forces personnel who sustain wounds serious enough to require medical attention, among other criteria. While Purple Hearts are often awarded soon after hostile action, with active units sometimes keeping a supply on hand, the Sacrifice Medal will come only after an application through military channels by a commanding officer.

The medal is a silver circle 36 millimetres across, with a claw at the top of it in the form of the royal crown and attached to a straight slotted bar. One side depicts the Queen, whose headgear includes a maple leaf motif, and the other side bears the statue from the Vimy Memorial in France and the single word “Sacrifice.”

No date has been set for the first presentation of the new medal. Governor-General Michaëlle Jean will preside over the inaugural ceremony and thereafter they will be presented on her behalf.

This is the latest of a burst of awards created in recent years and the country has now filled the obvious gaps in its lineup of military decorations, an expert on the honours system said yesterday.

“We’re finally becoming more attuned to the need to recognize those who serve,” said Christopher McCreery, the author of five books on the honours system. “The system of creating honours is catching up to the reality.”

Injured members of the Canadian military have traditionally received a “wound stripe” to wear on the sleeve of their uniforms or civilian clothing. This is a practice going back, with some interruptions, to the First World War.

“It’s something sons wore and their fathers wore before them,” Dr. McCreery said of the wound stripe. “I think people will be a bit torn. But this is a much more tangible symbol. I think the vast majority of the [Canadian Forces] will be pleased.”

Mr. Mackenzie praised the new award as being “more visible” and involving “more ceremony” than the old system.

“It’s overdue and the only thing that’ll be controversial is those people wounded since the end of the Cold War who won’t get it,” he said.

According to Ms. Thorn, the Rideau Hall spokeswoman, there is a five-year retroactive eligibility for awards, counting from the time an honour is initially proposed. That allows the Sacrifice Medal to be backdated to the start of the Afghan conflict, but doesn’t allow it to apply to casualties from Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia and the Gulf War.

New Website Launch Cold War Vet of the Month

This site will feature ACWV members who have distinguished themselves.

http://coldwarvetofthemonth.com/

Vets recall Cold War


Pictured are men from the Army 41st Tank Battalion reunion. The (front row l-r), Jim Thompson, Cates Rowlf, Bob “Frenchy” Fontaine and Adrian J. Morchinek; (second row l-r), Jesse Ledbetter, James Eads, Mel Earnest, Ed Biza, Charles W. Scheetz, Robert Yablonsky; (back row l-r), Denton Schultz, Bob Johnston, Bill Zimblich, Lee Herl.
BDN photo by Donna Clevenger

By Donna Clevenger
BDN Staff Writer
dclevenger@bransondailynews.com

The men who served during the Cold War may not have seen the drama from World War II, but they still have valid stories to tell.

A tight-knit group of soldiers of the Army’s 41st Tank Battalion who served in Germany from 1956-1958 have been coming to Branson since 2001 for an annual reunion.

There was a lot of tension between the Soviets and the U.S. according to the men from the 41st.

Operation Gyroscope was a plan to encourage draftees to re-enlist. However, most of the men who attended the reunion this year only served their 18-month-long tour. As young 18-21 year olds, they were stationed in Germany just 11 years after the end of World War II.

“It was frightening,” Ed Biza, Company A cook, said. “I had celebrated my 21st birthday. During the Hungarian Revolt, we were just a few minutes away from the Russian military — everything was in a high state of alert. When we thought about it — it was quite frightening.”

Biza said the Russians were formidable.

“Here we were, a bunch of kids, just fresh out of high school,” he said.

While the men did not see active combat, they were in an area where both sides remained on high alert and were fully armed at all times.

Others in the group wanted to also talk about the good times. They admitted to going out to check out the German girls. So what do they do each year?

“We talk about the good times,” Bob “Frenchy” Fontaine said.

Drinking German beer for the first time was quite different. Most all of the beer was brewed in a small brewery where there wasn’t much quality control. The men laughed together recalling the shots they had to take after most of them drank contaminated beer and suffered the consequences. After laughter and camaraderie, they turned to more serious talk as they spoke of a visit to Dachau, the first Nazi German concentration camp opened.

“It had been 11 years, but you could still smell it,” Denton Schultz said.

Most agreed that the German people were tense and somewhat resentful of their presence.

“They wanted peace too,” Schultz said.

“They wanted what we could give them too,” Robert Yablonsky said.

WASHINGTON (Aug. 28, 2008) – The new national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is saying “thank you” to the American airline industry for allowing military personnel traveling on orders to now check a third piece of luggage without paying an additional fee.

“I am extremely grateful to the airlines for agreeing with the VFW that dropping the fee was the right decision to make for our troops,” said Glen Gardner, a Vietnam veteran from Round Rock, Texas, just north of Austin. Gardner was elected to lead the nation’s largest organization of combat veterans on Aug. 21 at the VFW’s 109th national convention in Orlando, Fla.

The baggage fee issue surfaced last month in a Texas newspaper article about a young soldier being charged $100 for a third piece of checked luggage. The soldier was headed for additional training before deploying to Iraq.

All major U.S. carriers were allowing military to check two bags for free, but the $100 industry norm for the third checked bag was hitting young troops directly in their wallets, despite some assurances from the Defense Department that the fee might be reimbursable at a later date. The VFW weighed in by asking the Air Transport Association to work with its member airlines to exempt military personnel traveling on orders from paying baggage fees on a third piece of checked luggage.

“A $100 is a huge out-of-pocket expense to someone who doesn’t earn very much,” said Gardner, “and that’s why this luggage fee waiver is so important. Our troops can now properly focus on their mission instead of remembering to complete a travel voucher in a war zone.”

In a letter of appreciation sent Wednesday to ATA president James C. May, the VFW national commander expressed his thanks to the association for facilitating the fee waiver with its member airlines.

“Waiving the third checked bag fee was a decision that needed to be made,” wrote Gardner. “The VFW is very appreciative of ATA’s understanding of our call to action, and very grateful for the subsequent actions taken by your member airlines. U.S. air carriers have always been huge supporters of our troops; their decisions to waive the third checked bag fee now amplifies that strong support.”



Lou Sapienza of the George 1 Antarctic Recovery Project Executive Director sent this info to me today ACWV supports this project whole heartedly please check out their website and support The George 1 Recovery Project.

The George 1 Recovery Project is committed to the recovery of the remains of three U.S. Navy aviators who died when their flying boat — a Martin PBM-5 Mariner codenamed “George 1” — crashed in Antarctica on December 30, 1946. The George 1 was participating in Admiral Richard Byrd’s “Operation Highjump” expedition.

The three Navy aviators — the first American servicemen to die in Antarctica — were buried under one of George 1’s engines:

* Ensign Max Lopez, 20, of Newport, Rhode Island

* Petty Officer Bud Hendersin, 25, of Sparta, Wisconsin

* Petty Officer Fred Williams, 26, of Huntingdon, Tennessee

The plane and the men’s remains are now about 150 feet below the surface of the ice on Antarctica’s infamous Phantom Coast.

An experienced polar recovery team is preparing to retrieve the George 1 — and to carefully and respectfully return the remains of Max Lopez, Bud Hendersin, and Fred Williams to their families.

The following “THANK YOU” videos were filmed at the 2008 VFW Convention, Orlando, Florida, in the UAW-GM Display area. They are a tribute to our military service members courage and sacrifice from former veterans, the United Auto Workers, and General Motors Corporation.

VA Mobile Health Care Clinics Reach Rural Veterans
Service Coming to 24 Counties in Six States

WASHINGTON (Aug. 27, 2008) — The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is
rolling out four new mobile health clinics outfitted to bring primary
care and mental health services closer to veterans in 24 predominately
rural counties, where patients must travel long distances to visit their
nearest VA medical center or outpatient clinic.

“VA is committed to providing primary care and mental health care for
veterans in rural areas,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James
B. Peake. “Health care should be based upon the needs of patients, not
their ability to travel to a clinic or medical center.”

The pilot project is called Rural Mobile Health Care Clinics. It
features a recreational-type vehicle equipped to be a rolling primary
care and mental health clinic.

VA is currently in the process of procuring and outfitting the vehicles,
and officials expect the mobile clinics to be operational by early 2009.
Rural areas in Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming will share a single mobile
van, while Maine, Washington state and West Virginia will each have a VA
mobile van.

The clinics are planned to serve:
* Colorado: Larimer, Jackson, Logan, and Weld counties;
* Maine: Franklin, Somerset and Piscataquis counties;
* Nebraska: Cheyenne, Kimball, and Scottsbluff counties;
* Washington state: Greys Harbor, Mason, and Lewis;
* West Virginia: Preston, Randolph, Upshur, Wetzel, Roane, and
Taylor counties; and,
* Wyoming: Albany, Carbon, Goshen, and Platte counties.

Factors considered in the selection of the participating sites included
a need for improved access in the area, the degree to which clinics will
expand services and collaborations with communities the clinics serve.

By Bruce Coulter
Tue Aug 26, 2008, 04:26 PM EDT

Burlington –

Hours after Russian troops responded to Georgia’s attempt to repatriate – by force – the breakaway republic of South Ossetia, political observers pondered the possibility of a second Cold War.

In fact, even after a truce – brokered by France – was signed, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has shown little interest in pulling back troops beyond a snail’s pace.

Adding fuel to the Cold War fires was Poland’s agreement allowing the United States to stage a missile interceptor base to protect U.S. allies from rogue states. The agreement prompted a warning from Russian Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, who said Poland was opening itself to attack.

If Russia’s actions and words sound familiar, they should – at least to anyone over the age of 40.

The first Cold War began Sept. 2, 1945, almost as soon as the final curtain closed on World War II. For the next 46 years, the former Soviet Union and the United States eyed each other cautiously, all the while playing a game of cat and mouse. The Cold War era officially ended Dec. 26, 1991.

Sean Eagan, the recently elected chairman of the American Cold War Veterans (ACWV), said in the four-plus decades of the Cold War, approximately 382 American service members lost their lives in hostile actions.

He believes that number is much higher. It does not, he said, include the 31 Americans killed during the Berlin Airlift, or the losses aboard the USS Liberty, when 34 servicemen were killed and 173 wounded during an attack by Israeli forces, as well as numerous other incidents that took place during Cold War.

“We had a lot of people serve in a lot of dangerous places other than Korea and Vietnam,” he said. “There were 40 aircraft shot down and 116 soldiers missing in action from the Cold War.”

The ACWV was organized a year ago this month and membership, Eagan said, is increasing as more veterans become aware of the group.

“We’re new and we’re growing,” he said.

Despite being in its infancy, ACWV wasted little time approaching members of Congress to act on its behalf.

The group is urging Congress to honor the men and women who served during the Cold War with the issuance of a Cold War Service Medal.

Last year, U. S. Sen. Hillary Clinton introduced Senate Bill S. 1097, the Cold War Medal Act of 2007, which, if passed, would be awarded to servicemen and women who served between Sept. 2, 1945 and Dec. 26, 1991, and received an honorable discharge from the military.

Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. and Mary Landrieu, D-La., Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Maine Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins have signed on as cosponsors.

A previous bill was passed in the Senate and House in 2001, but lawmakers left issuance of the medal up to the Department of Defense, which has steadfastly refused to issue such a medal. Rather, DOD opted to issue a Cold War Certificate, which will no longer be issued at the end of the year.

U. S. Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia last year introduced H.R. 1900 – a bill to expand the retirement and disability pension benefits of people who have received an expeditionary medal in operations that weren’t covered in a VA-recognized wartime period. It’s a bill supported by ACWV.

“Too often, when these young men and women return home from service, we do not honor their bravery with the full measure of respect and gratitude that it deserves,” said Rahall in a statement. “I believe we should take this opportunity to help ensure that our veterans, regardless of the timeframe of their service, receive appropriate recognition and benefits.”

A second bill by Rahall, H.R. 1901, would extend pension benefits to veterans who have served in Korea, Lebanon, Grenada, and Panama.

As the law is written now, said Eagan, some veterans aren’t considered as having served during a wartime period.

The bill, which is attached to H.R. 5658, The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), said Eagan, has a good chance to pass.

All that is left is for the Senate to pass its version of the NDAA. However, the Senate is not expected to act on the legislation until after the November election, when Democrats hope to increase their margins in the Senate and House and hopefully, have a Democrat in the White House.

ACWV is also asking Congress to grandfather the award of the Army’s Combat Action Badge to World War II, noting that many Army veterans have served in combat, but were not eligible for the Combat Infantry or Combat Medic badges.

Ultimately, Eagan and the ACWV hope to educate people on what the cold war was.

“There were a lot of sacrifices made and people served a lot of hazardous duty during that time,” he said. “I think it’s overlooked.”

For more information, visit http://www.americancoldwarvets.org.

Bruce Coulter is the editor of the Burlington Union and a retired, disabled veteran. He may be reached at 978-371-5775, or by e-mail at bcoulter@cnc.com.

Psyop leaflet 1951

To Give you a idea of our nation’s mindset in 1951, the enclosed Psyop leaflet was used in Exercise Snowfall.

Bunkers of the DDR – Former East Germany Bunkers