02 December 2009

Thank You Vietnam Vets

Date: Thursday, November 19, 2009, 8:01 PM

A Thank You to Vietnam Vets from a Marine in Iraq

A guy gets time to think over here and I was thinking about all the support we get from home. Sometimes it's overwhelming. We get care packages at times faster than we can use them. There are boxes and boxes of toiletries and snacks lining the center of every tent; the generosity has been amazing. So, I was pondering the question: "Why do we have so much support?"

In my opinion, it came down to one thing: Vietnam. I think we learned a lesson, as a nation, that no matter what, you have to support the troops who are on the line, who are risking everything. We treated them so poorly back then. When they returned was even worse. The stories are nightmarish of what our returning warriors were subjected to. It is a national scar, a blemish on our country, an embarrassment to all of us


After Vietnam, it had time to sink in. The guilt in our collective consciousness grew. It shamed us. However, we learned from our mistake.

Somewhere during the late 1970's and into the 80's, we realized that we can't treat our warriors that way. So, starting during the Gulf War, when the first real opportunity arose to stand up and support the troops, we did. We did it to support our friends and family going off to war. But we also did it to right the wrongs from the Vietnam era. We treated our troops like the heroes they were, acknowledged and celebrated their sacrifice, and rejoiced at their homecoming instead of spitting on them.

And that support continues today for those of us in Iraq. Our country knows that it must support us and it does. The lesson was learned in Vietnam and we are better because of it.

Everyone who has gone before is a hero. They are celebrated in my heart. I think admirably of all those who have gone before me. From those who fought to establish this country in the late 1770's to those I serve with here in Iraq. They have all sacrificed to ensure our freedom.

But when I get back, I'm going to make it a personal mission to specifically thank every Vietnam Vet I encounter for their sacrifice. Because if nothing else good came from that terrible war, one thing did. It was the lesson learned on how we treat our warriors. We as a country learned from our mistake and now treat our warriors as heroes, as we should.

I am the beneficiary of their sacrifice. Not only for the freedom they, like veterans from other wars, ensured, but for how well our country now treats my fellow Marines and I. We are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice.

Semper Fidelis,

Major Brian P. Bresnahan

United States Marine Corps

11 November 2009

Happy Birthday Marines

Happy 234th Birthday to the Marines

Earlier this year as I was filling up at the gas station I noticed a faded bumper sticker- vintage Bush 43-on the car next to me: “Dissent is Patriotic.” When I pointed to the bumper and asked the driver if she still believed that, she suggested I do something to myself which I am certain is physically impossible. I just laughed and said, “I’ll take that as a no.”

At the time, our Marine son and his men were deployed to a remote Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan. As I reflected on my experience at the Shell station, I wondered if this woman had any idea the sacrifices so many had made so she could exercise her 1stAmendment rights during the previous administration or this one.

united-states-marine-corpsI wondered if she knew about Belleau Wood, the Chosin Reservoir, Hue City, Fallujah, or the Helmand Province? Was she aware that at Tarawa, 1,020 Marines were killed in the seventy-six hour battle? She may have seen the photo but did she know at Iwo Jima, the thirty-six day assault left more than 26,000 Americans wounded and 6,800 Marines dead? Did she have any clue as to the sacrifices others have made throughout this nation’s history so she could live free?

My wife and I recently spent a week on the Marine Corps base where our son is stationed. As we walked up and down the residential street where he and his family live we realized almost half of the homes had husbands deployed to a combat zone. The other half had spouses who recently returned or were about to leave. It was humbling to see parking lots with so many cars displaying Purple Heart license plates or seeing the injured frequenting the PX. Did the woman know about these recent sacrifices?

Last week while I was working out at the gym and wearing a Marine Corps t-shirt, a young man approached. I could tell he had sustained recent injuries. This twenty-five year old medically retired Marine Corps Staff Sergeant was wounded in Iraq and only recently was able to abandon the wheel chair. His knee was still so full of shrapnel he needed a total knee replacement. He will forever live with the scars on his face but his sacrifice was even more personal. His brother, a Marine, was killed five miles from where my new friend was injured. His younger brother just enlisted. I can’t imagine what his family has been through. Yet he was so proud of his brother who died and the one about to carry the title “Marine.” Did the woman at the gas station know my friend and his family?

In AMERICAN PATRIOT by Robert Coram, Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Bud Day is quoted as saying “It is not a widely known fact, but military people are weepers. They weep when they watch a parade and the flag goes by. They weep when they hear the National Anthem. They weep at tales of valor and sacrifice.” When I read that, a sense of relief washed over me. If maybe the most valiant man I ever met can weep then I guess it’s okay for me to admit shedding a tear. I’ve shot guys and never flinched but tales of valor and the sacrifices I have seen by my military heroes and their families choke me up every time. I wonder if the woman at Shell ever cries and if so, for whom or for what?

My vehicle has only one decal…a scarlet and gold U.S.M.C. on the rear window. I’ll often have someone pull up next to me at a light and nod knowingly. I only spent four years on active duty as a somewhat marginal Marine yet after a twenty-six year career in the FBI, many of those years undercover, I’m prouder to say I was a Marine than to say I was an FBI agent. Although only a small portion of my life was in the Corps, I am forever part of a brotherhood of warriors.

Today, November 10th, a date known by every Marine, marks the 234th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day, a chance to remember all who served. Maybe you can say thanks in a tangible way this year by supporting the USO,Freedom Alliance, Iraq Star, Operation Gratitude, Hope for the Warriors, or any number of charities serving our servicemen and women who have earned our respect and admiration with their shed blood.

“When I give you the word, together we will cross the Line of Departure, close with those forces that choose to fight, and destroy them. You are part of the world’s most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon. Share your courage with each other as we enter the uncertain terrain north of the Line of Departure. Keep faith in your comrades on your left and right and Marine Air overhead. Fight with a happy heart and strong spirit. For the Mission’s sake, our country’s sake, and the sake of the men who carried the Division’s colors in past battles – who fought for life and never lost their nerve – carry out your mission and keep your honor clean. Demonstrate to the world there is No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy than a U.S. Marine.”
Major General James N. Mattis. Commander, 1st Marine Division, March 30, 2003, on the eve of crossing into Iraq

Happy Birthday Marines and Semper Fi!

Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

- Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 - 1918)

23 October 2009

Bigger Than Ourselves

There is no "me" in team. None of us living today who participated in that war made it out of Vietnam on our own. None of you living today will make it through your trials, your battles on your own. "We" won the war. "We" never lost a battle, and "We" never left any of our own on the battlefield. The word "We" gives me the priviledge of always being able to remain a part of something larger than myself. "We" by it's inclusiveness, makes me immortal because being part of "We", the United States Marine Corps, makes me a part of history.

Semper Fidelis

Used by permission of Alvin L. Simpson, from his book "Distant Shore: A Memoir".

25 May 2009

Memorial Day 2009

I have been trying to find the words to express how I feel this memorial day but words fail me.
Fortunately, I received a memorial day message that says it better than I can and I would like to share it with everyone. Have a blessed Memorial Day!
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
Good morning,
Decoration Day, a day for remembering and honoring those who gave their lives for our country. I believe it should be a day to remember all who served instead. It's only been in the past few years that I realized although you came home in body, you lost a big part of yourself, and you go back, looking for answers, that lost part of yourself, almost every day.
I found this poem yesterday, and I thought of you. There are still a few Americans who appreciate what you did to earn and preserve our precious freedom.
I can't begin to understand your sleepless nights, your nightmares, your unending guilt that you "could have", "should have", and "would have" done more. I only know it cost each of you and those who love you--you came home "different".
I know for anyone who went to war, it is never over and you never return completely. I'm sorry for that. I can only see you from the outside, know what you tell those you love, those who love you back.
I see the most when you talk to each other and I can just sit in the corner and listen. I wish I could take away the pain, the survivor guilt, the anger that comes sometimes. I'm not powerful enough to do that, nor are you. You can only do the best you can to make sense of it, to know it wasn't your choice to come home when others didn't. And it came with a price, a big one for some of you.
On this decoration day, so many years later, it would seem those pieces of yourself you left behind or walled off from the world are starting to find sunlight again. It would seem that there has been a significant healing of your wounds. I hope each day will be better for you.
You will never forget the valor of those with whom you served. They were never forgotten and never will be. Along with what you lost, I hope you gained. You have friendships, a "connection" with each other than the rest of us will never know. You have an appreciation for waking up each morning that is different. I've heard you talk about not knowing if morning will come; looking out and knowing for a lot of those aound you, morning didn't come.
Thank you for serving, for fighting for this country....for giving so much of yourself for people like me. I wish every day that it is a good day for you, that you find a little more pleasure, a little more peace.
I know you will never forget, I just wanted you to know that I will never forget either; I will think of you each day, hoping it is a good day for you, being grateful for the gift you gave our nation. You are a hero to me.
Thank you.
P H Hauser

22 January 2009

Col. James W. Hammond

It is said that the Marine Corps is made up of a few good men. Over the years Second Battalion 4th marines lost lots of good men. And now, we have lost a very special good man,our Battalion Commander in 1967, Colonel James W. Hammond. And now some of his accomplishments as written by his son.

Wes Hammond, a 1951 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1975. In addition to a B.S. from the Naval Academy, he has a M.A. (International Law) from the Catholic University of America and M.A. (Journalism) from the University of Nevada.

During more than a quarter of a century of active duty, he served in a wide variety of command and staff billets around the globe. He was wounded in action as an infantry platoon leader in Korea (1st Bn, 5th Mar). He was twice a tactics instructor at the Marine Corps School in Quantico, VA; commanded a company in an infantry battalion afloat in the Mediterranean (B Co, 1st Bn, 6th Mar); served as the S-3 of 1st Battalion, 5th Marines at Camp Pendleton during initial experimentation with vertical envelopment operations; and was aide-de-camp to MajGen D.M. Shoup (later 22nd Commandant of the Marine Corps) on Okinawa, where he met and married Miss Donna M. Selby of Brighton, Colorado. He deployed with the 10th Marines, 2nd Marine Division of the Cuban Missile Crisis (as the regimental communications officers). While with the artillery, he also served as a battery commander and the battalion XO (4th Bn, 10th Mar). He commanded the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines (“The Magnificent Bastards”) in Vietnam until wounded in action and evacuated. He returned to duty as Plans Officer of the 3rd Marine Division until wounded again, finishing his tour as the division liaison officer, Provisional Corps Vietnam. Upon return to the United States, he was Head, Command Department, Marine Corps Command & Staff College in Quantico. There he taught Research and Writing, Command & Staff Organization, and a future concept of amphibious operations called “Sea Base.” He was transferred to Hawaii, promoted to colonel and assigned as Protocol Officer and Aide to Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, Admiral John S. McCain, Jr. USN. He retired from Camp Pendleton, California and returned to Reno, Nevada.

While on active duty he was Editor & Publisher (1964-67) of the Marine Corps Gazette, the professional journal of the Marine Corps Association. Eight years after retiring from the Marine Corps, he moved to Annapolis, Md., to be editor of Shipmate, the monthly magazine of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association. After a dozen years there, he retired and returned to Reno.

He is the author of more than 50 articles in professional military journals as well as popular publications and newspapers. His Poison Gas – The Myths Versus Reality (Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn., 1999) is a plea for common sense lest we be held hostage to fear of the unknown. His The Treaty Navy – The Story of the U.S. Naval Service Between the World Wars, (Wesley Press, Reno, Nevada, 2001) describes how the innovative thinking and the developments in the 1920s and 1930s spawned the victory in the Pacific in the 1940s. His first venture into fiction was A Few Marines (Wesley Press, Reno, Nevada, 2005). It is collection of short “sea stories” that could have happened and maybe did. The second in this series, A Few More Marines (Wesley Press, Reno, Nevada) was published in 2008.

The Hammonds make their home in Reno but travel extensively including an annual trip to Annapolis during football season. They have three children and seven grandchildren.