Posts Tagged ‘veteran’

Lost Airmen of Buchenwald

9 May 2012 – 19:04 CDT

From Big Hollywood:

Filmmaker Mike Dorsey grew up hearing remarkable tales of heroism from his grandfather, who was captured by the Nazis during World War II. But when Dorsey realized the ranks of his grandfather’s fellow pilots was dwindling, he knew he had to record their story – fast.

Dorsey’s “Lost Airmen of Buchenwald,” which will screen at 2 p.m. May 20 at the upcoming G.I. Film Festival, makes sure his grandfather’s legacy is captured on film.

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9/12 March on DC: A request

25 August 2009 – 21:59 CDT

An open letter to the 9/12 project members heading to on Washington, DC on September 12, 2009.

I’m not able join you on the march on Washington on 9/12 because I have commitments here at home. However, I would like to ask that anyone going as part of the 9/12 project please share this with anyone outside the central Ohio 9/12 group that is planning to go.

On Saturday, 9/12, there will be a group of veterans in DC from Ohio, New York, Colorado, Alabama, Florida and perhaps other places as well. These aren’t just any vets, they’re World War II veterans. Honor Flight, at no cost to the vets, flies them to DC for the day so that they can visit the World War II memorial and a few other sites. Most have never had the chance to see the memorial built in their honor, and this is their only opportunity. I’m not here to promote Honor Flight, as worthy an organization as I believe it is.

I’m writing you because in my discussions with the flight organizers, they’re aware of the march on Washington and while I don’t speak for them, I think it would be fair to say they’re a little bit concerned about the crowds and maybe even a bit skittish about the idea of “protesters” running amuck. My and the flight directors’, guardians’, and ground crews’ only mission and concern is for the vets under our care. I know quite a few of you, and know that of anyone, you are the most willing of any crowd – without a thought – to stand and honor the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, to call them heroes. You are also the least likely of any large group I know to be obnoxious or disrespectful to our country.

I believe I can speak for the 9/12 group when I say the whole reason for the march is not because we believe that America is a bad place and needs radical change, or that we think this latest president is a bad man. We believe our liberty is under attack from years of an ever-growing, ever-consuming, increasingly oppressive, and unbounded federal government who would burn the Constitution if they could figure out how to get Sandy Berger to smuggle it out of the archives. Yelling at the TV hasn’t worked. Bold questions, protests, and marches are absolutely our right and if necessary, our responsibility, to ensure the Constitution and our liberty is preserved for future generations.

However. Your path as a group, or perhaps your personal path, will almost certainly at some point intersect with Honor Flight, perhaps at the airports or during your march, as the World War II memorial is directly between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol building. (Map: Please, as you’re in Washington, if you see an old guy in a gray t-shirt (picture:, be respectful. Taking a minute to say thank you would be nice, but if not, please be patient. I ask you humbly with no authority, out of respect for the veterans – the living, the ones who have gone on, and the 400,000 marked by the field of stars who never came home: be aware of your surroundings. Try to save the shouting, yelling, chanting or other overt displays for areas not near and around the war memorials, especially the World War II memorial.

Thank you in advance

Honesty | Reverence | Hope | Thrift | Humility | Charity

1. America Is Good.
2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life.
3. I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday.
4. The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.
5. If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.
6. I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.
7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.
8. It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.
9. The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.

Sincerity | Moderation | Hard Work | Courage | Personal Responsibility | Gratitude

Honor Flight: Escorting WWII vets to Washington DC

8 August 2009 – 12:05 CDT

I’ve been participating in the Honor Flight program for a little over a year now. At no cost to them, we take World War II veterans to Washington, DC for the day so that they can visit the WWII memorial. Very few have ever seen it, many have never been to Washington, DC and some have never flown on an airplane. Many died before it was built. Many more will die before we have the chance to get them there.

One of my roles is that of guardian, serving as escorts and guides for the vets for the day. Today I was working on the ground crew. I was at the airport at 0530 helping the vets and the guardians get ready for the flight. A friend recently wrote and said in part

Glad you don’t feel weird about doing it. I’d feel awkward as can be. Now, if I was accompanying vets to go drive a tank or something that would be fun. But the reminiscing, emotional support…wow.

Real honestly, it isn’t easy for me, mostly because I’m such an introvert. But these guys are stronger than you’d think. Some of them break down, but that is usually one of us. Most vets have never told their stories. Many die having never shared with anyone – even their own wives and families – what they did. It isn’t that they aren’t proud of their service, but rather they went to war because they believed it was their duty because they love their country. Those who came home considered themselves fortunate, or worse. They were almost always greeted with a small amount of cash and a bus ticket back to their hometown. They got jobs, raised families, and often served in their churches and communities. Many who know them don’t even know they’re veterans.

This trip serves so many purposes. Not only is it our way to say “thank you” but it is a chance for them to open up to their families and share the stories, and the demons, that they have held onto for 60 years. We bring them home to their families in the evening and provide a kind of homecoming at the airport they never expected or believed they deserved. Typically a few hundred people turn out just to stand in a line and say “thank you”.

On a recent trip, my vet – the one I was assigned to as a guardian – told me that when Pearl Harbor was attacked, he was only 17. Two days after that awful December Sunday, he signed up – volunteered to go to war for his country. That kind of selflessness is an inspiration. I don’t want to get up at 0430, I don’t really want to be social as it were. Then I stop and realize that these things do not even rise to the level of a minor inconvenience. It is an honor and a privilege to serve these men (and occasional woman) for just one day.

Respect for those who sacrificed

13 December 2006 – 22:53 CDT

I have to say, I’m generally not one of those folks jumping onto bandwagon when it is something average Joe can’t stop raving about. Things like American Idol, the Davinci Code, mySpace, Flickr, and YouTube haven’t really interested me very much.

However, I was editing a Christmas light show video for a friend, who asked me to put it on YouTube for him so he could show it to his friends and family. I was putzing around on the site and somehow came across a series of videos about a WW2 veteran named Les Loken.

I assume that these sites like YouTube and mySpace are mostly used by young, hip kids so I was blown away when I read some of the comments that folks had left. Comments like ‘All the respect in the world to you Mr. Loken’ and ‘Thank you for sharing these stories will all of us. You help us realize how important our history is, and the people who make our history. Thank you Les.’ Most of the comments seem to center on humble gratitude for his service and recognition of how valuable the stories are and how important it is that they be told.

My own grandfather fought in the Pacific on Okinawa. Sadly, I was too young when he died about 14 years ago, to even begin to grasp what he’d done for his country – what he did for me and my family. I was never able to really ask him what happened or what life was like during the war. The veterans I’ve read of almost universally refused to see themselves as heroes. They were just men who had a deep sense of duty and honor to country. I think for many of them “stories” were horrors they lived so we wouldn’t have to. The overriding theme of Flags of Our Fathers was that they honestly felt that their actions were nothing special or out of the ordinary, or deserving of any attention. The uncommon valor of our veterans truly was, and remains so because of people like Les Loken and my grandfather, a common virtue.