Monday, June 30, 2008

By Ed O'Mara
PROUD veterans of a mammoth relief operation in post-war Germany were given a spontaneous round of applause by shoppers during a memorial march through the city centre.
The heroes of the Berlin Airlift, which began on June 28, 1948, were honoured during two days of festivities including a city-centre march yesterday.

The reunion was organised by the British Berlin Airlift Association (BBAA) to mark the 60th anniversary of the success of the operation to fly much -needed food and fuel to Allied troops and two million German inhabitants who were in the city of Berlin.

Following the Second World War, the ruined German capital was carved up between Allied nations Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union.

But the city itself lay deep within Soviet territory and on June 24, the Soviets sealed off all road, rail and inland waterway access to the city in a bid to seize it for themselves.

The only way British and US forces could get into Berlin was using three air corridors and so the airlift began on June 28.

It continued for 11 months until May, 1949, when the Soviets finally relented and re-opened the borders, but it claimed the lives of 78 men and women.

Every year the BBAA remembers the fallen heroes of the operation, with the 60th anniversary of a particularly poignant occasion for surviving veterans.

Yesterday veterans of the operation, and families of those who were unable to attend, were joined by members of the RAF, US Airforce and the Air Cadets as they proudly marched along Bridge Street, through Cathedral Square to a church service at St John’s Church.`

The parade was led by the RAF band, and the city centre came to a standstill as the parade made its way along the busy street.

Peterborough Mayor Cllr Pat Nash greeted them outside the Town Hall, where a large crowd of Sunday shoppers gathered to pay their tributes .

And as the dozens of heroes passed, toddlers, parents and grandparents who had been enjoying the weekend sunshine burst into a spontaneous round of applause to show their respect for the veterans.

The march was the climax of a weekend of celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the mission.

About 100 BBAA members gathered at the Imperial War Museum airfield at RAF Duxford on Friday, before enjoying a 1940s musical feast from the Johnny Harris Orchestra at the Cresset in Bretton, Peterborough, on Saturday night.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Undergoing MyBlogLog Verification

Book honors veterans


REXBURG – Two southeast Idaho men have worked together on a book about military veterans that they hope will be both an inspiring tribute and a memorial. "Welcome Home," by Stewart Portela and Sam Walton, recounts stories of veterans from the Vietnam War period up through today's combat against terrorism.

Portela, of Firth, is a science teacher at Firth High School who also teaches a course on military history.

Walton, of Blackfoot, is a veteran of the 101st Airborne Division who was a member of the division's parachute team, the Screaming Eagles.

The book will be available next week, and the authors have several book signings planned.

The book features stories of veterans from towns and cities all over southern Idaho, including some from the upper valley and Teton Basin.

Walton said the veterans they have talked to for the book are modest about their service.

"One veteran leads to another," Walton said. "They'd say: 'I'm not a hero, but you should talk to this guy, because he is (a hero), and the next one would tell us the same thing."

The new book has the stories of 94 veterans and centers on their homecoming perspective and military history.

It also memorializes several who did not return.

"I wish every student up and down the valley would read this book because it would give them a sense of appreciation for what these veterans have done," Portela said. "The book is not a book about 'blood and guts,' but about the veterans themselves."

The book joins two previous books by Portela, "Heroes Among Us," and "Footsteps in the Sand."

The first of those books has stories about veterans from World War II and the Korean War and the second book returns to the World War II period.

Two basic themes tie the stories in "Welcome Home" together.

The authors note that Vietnam veterans received little appreciation when they returned home.

Portela and Walton state that today it is the Vietnam veterans who are welcoming home and aiding the young veterans of today.

"It is inspiring to see these veterans of 50 to 60 years of age, some still wearing uniforms and medals, shaking hands and hugging these young veterans upon their return from overseas deployment," Portela wrote in an e-mail.

The book includes accounts of forward air controllers who went outside their lines to call in air strikes and recent soldiers' challenges in dealing with improvised explosive devices planted by terrorists.

There are also stories of veterans of the Cold War, the first Gulf War, and those who served in submarines and missile silos.

"What I hope everyone gets from this book is the number of veterans we have all around us and what they have done for us," Walton said. "I hope if you read this book, that someday you may bump into one of these veterans and be able to shake their hand and tell them thank you."

Portela wrote: "'Where do we find such men?' That's the closing line in the movie, 'The Bridges of Toko-ri,' made from the novel of the same name by James Michener. A senior naval officer says it in wonder at the self-sacrificial heroism of several naval aviators, killed while fighting in rice paddies of Korea after their aircraft went down. In all of my interviews with the men and women who have served our nation, I have often asked myself this question, 'Where do we find such people?' I am in awe of what our veterans have done for our country and the cause of freedom. What makes this question so relevant is that many of these veterans served and sacrificed, then came home to an ungrateful nation."

For more information, call 346-6675.
Dear Supporter,

Yesterday, I represented at a press conference with leaders in the Senate, before the body passed the bipartisan GI Bill for the 21st Century. It was an honor to be there, but I wasn’t just representing my fellow veterans, I was representing each and every one of you.
30,000 petition signatures. Tens of thousands of letters to Capitol Hill. Thousands and thousands of letters to the editor. Donations that allowed us to air national TV ads on the bill. That’s what you did to help pass this bill, in the name of, and that’s why I was invited to stand with Senators as the bill was brought up for consideration.
More importantly, your work made passage of the bill a reality.

Now, the bill will go to the President’s desk, and he has signaled he will sign it. It wasn’t so long ago that the President had threatened to veto the legislation, with Senators like John McCain backing him up on that decision. The President’s reversal can also be attributed to just how much you worked to pass this bill. The President and those in his party know that there could be nothing more unpopular than vetoing increased education benefits for those who serve in war, in a time of war.

That’s why I want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. What you have done is make the American dream possible for so many of us. Many of us who couldn’t afford college will now be able to. We’ll go on to become doctors and lawyers and teachers, and have the chance to raise families in the American middle class. It was a promise made to us by Franklin Roosevelt, and your work has restored that promise.
You are truly patriots, in every sense of the word.

Brian McGough
Iraq and Afghanistan War Veteran

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Congress Delivers for America's Newest Greatest Generation

WASHINGTON (June 26, 2008) – The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is saluting Congress for the overwhelming passage of a new GI Bill for the 21st Century. The bill, S. 22, the "Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act," was attached to the war funding supplemental that the House passed June 19 and the Senate is predicted to approve this evening. President Bush is expected to quickly sign it into law.

"This is a tremendous victory for America's veterans, military, and their families," exclaimed VFW national commander George Lisicki, a Vietnam combat veteran from Carteret, N.J., "and we have Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia to thank for his rock-steady determination to get this bill passed."

S. 22 captured the VFW's immediate attention when Webb introduced it on his first day in office, Jan. 4, 2007. His bill – which increases college assistance for veterans – was overshadowed last year by increased calls to end the war in Iraq and the administration's sudden announcement to surge 30,000 additional troops into Iraq. But Webb, the former Secretary of the Navy under the Reagan Administration and a Marine Corps infantry officer who received the Navy Cross for heroism during the Vietnam War, pressed on, fortified by the challenge to get his bill heard.

He worked for more than a year to build a coalition of allies, not only within his own Democratic Party, but from across the aisle and within the House. These allies include 57 other Senate cosponsors, to include five fellow GI Bill beneficiaries: Vietnam veteran Chuck Hagel (R-NE), World War II and Korean War veteran John Warner (R-VA), and World War II veterans Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Daniel Inouye (D-HI).

S. 22's companion bill in the House, H.R. 5740, was introduced by Harry Mitchell (D-AZ) and Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL), and it garnered 302 bipartisan cosponsors, to include Korean War veteran Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Sam Johnson (R-TX), a veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, who was held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for nearly seven years.

Webb intended S. 22 to mirror the original World War II GI Bill, which is widely regarded as one of the most significant pieces of legislation enacted in the last century, and one the VFW played a leading role to shape and bring to fruition in 1944. Almost half of the 16 million men and women who served in World War II took advantage of the education benefit. They became the scientists, scholars, politicians and captains of industry who were directly responsible for the tremendous era of growth and prosperity the nation enjoyed during the latter half of the 20th century. Those GI Bill recipients also returned to federal coffers $7 for every $1 dollar spent on their education in the form of higher taxes paid on the higher wages earned.

In 2002, the VFW was at the forefront to work with then-House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Chris Smith (R-NJ) to increase Montgomery GI Bill benefits by 49 percent. And now, 64 years after the original World War II GI Bill was signed, the VFW is again leading all veterans' service organizations to ensure that America's newest Greatest Generation is rewarded with a new GI Bill for the 21st Century.

S. 22 will pay the highest in-state public tuition rate, and provide for books, fees, and a living stipend. It eliminates the $1,200 enrollment fee, extends the use-or-lose benefit requirement from 10 to 15 years, and greatly enhances the amount paid to Guard and Reserve members. The new GI Bill automatically adjusts itself as tuitions increase, and provides a dollar-for-dollar tuition match for private colleges and universities who choose to participate in the program. A new provision added to the bill allows reenlisting servicemembers to transfer their educational benefit to their spouse and/or children. The transferability provision – which is endorsed by the Defense Department – was proposed by Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), an Air Force Reserve colonel, and John McCain (R-AZ), a Vietnam veteran who was held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five and a half years.

Since 1997, the VFW has been lobbying Congress to update the 20-year-old peacetime Montgomery GI Bill with 21st century tuition realities. The VFW did this by testifying at more than 40 congressional committee hearings, through hundreds of VFW Legislative Committee member visits to every House and Senate office in Washington and within their home states, and through the grassroots lobbying effort of 2.3 million VFW and Auxiliary members at 8,300 VFW Posts nationwide.

"The Montgomery GI Bill was good, peacetime legislation, but it only paid about 70 percent of the average cost of today's public tuitions, and barely 30 percent at private schools," said the VFW's national commander. "That's just not a good enough incentive for someone to join a military that's been at war for almost seven years, and it definitely wasn't good enough to compete against public and private employers who also want to recruit America's best and brightest."

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, almost 400,000 veterans have received secondary education degrees since Sept. 11, 2001. Lisicki said more degrees would have been earned if veterans were not forced to choose between college – and risking financial debt – or getting a job to support their families.

"The passage of S. 22 will go far to eliminate that difficult decision," stressed Lisicki, who said the new GI Bill will benefit 2.2 million men and women serving in uniform today, and 1.6 million more who have separated or retired since 9/11.

"The VFW salutes Senator Webb and every cosponsor in the Senate and House for sticking to their principles to do what's right for a military that has done everything asked of them, and we thank President Bush for his impending signature to reward our military for their faithful service," said Lisicki. "The VFW is proud to once again play a key role in the development and passage of a new GI Bill, because this is a win-win for America."
VA Launches Expansion in Veterans Health Facilities
Peake: 44 New Clinics Bring Care Closer to Home

WASHINGTON (June 26, 2008) - Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B.
Peake today announced plans to create 44 new community-based outpatient
clinics to bring the world-class health care of the Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA) closer to home for veterans in 21 states.

"VA continues to make access to care easier through an expanding
outpatient system focused not only on primary treatment but also
prevention of disease, early detection, and health promotion," Peake

The new clinics, scheduled to be activated over the next 15 months, will
increase VA's network of independent and community-based clinics to 782,
an increase of more than 100 in five years.

This growth in community clinics has helped VA meet veterans'
expectations for prompt, quality service, with 98 percent of veterans
seen within 30 days in all types of VA primary care facilities
throughout the country.

In addition to on-site primary care staff, today's modern outpatient
clinics frequently feature state-of-the-art telehealth systems
permitting veterans to maintain regular contact with doctors in
specialties from cardiac care to mental health at regional VA hospitals
linked for video consultations, coupled with telemetry of health data or

A highly acclaimed national health records system allows practitioners
at even remote clinics to review patient records stored at VA facilities
anywhere in the country.

VA's 21 regional networks develop applications for new clinics in
consideration of reducing the distance veterans travel to their nearest
VA hospital or clinic, as well as local demand, existing hospital,
clinic workload and other factors.

A listing of the newly approved clinics is attached.

VA's Planned Sites for New Outpatient Clinics

Alabama (2) -- Marshall County, Wiregrass

Alaska -- Matanuska-Susitna Borough area

Arkansas (2) -- Ozark, White County

California -- East Bay-Alameda County area

Florida -- Summerfield

Georgia (4) -- Baldwin County, Coweta County, Glynn County, Liberty

Indiana (2) -- Miami County, Morgan County

Iowa -- Wapello County

Louisiana (5) -- Lake Charles, Leesville, Natchitoches, St. Mary Parish,
Washington Parish

Maine -- Lewiston-Auburn area

Minnesota (2) -- Douglas County, Northwest Metro

Missouri -- Franklin County

New Mexico -- Rio Rancho

North Carolina (2) -- Robeson County, Rutherford County

North Dakota -- Grand Forks County

Ohio -- Gallia County

Oklahoma (4) -- Altus, Craig County, Enid, Jay

Tennessee (3) -- Giles County, Maury County, McMinn County

Texas (5) -- Katy, Lake Jackson, Richmond, Tomball, El Paso County

Virginia (3) -- Augusta County, Emporia, Wytheville

West Virginia -- Greenbrier County

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A fun Website to check out

This is a update on UK Veterans fight for a National Defence Medal.

The Forgotten Many Who Served With Honour
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In 2006 the Government of the day instituted Veterans Day to be on the 27th of June, and annually thereafter. The Defence Secretary on the MoD website writes; “ We firmly believe that we owe our veterans- wherever they served in peacetime or a conflict, whether overseas or in the UK- a debt of gratitude. All have contributed; all have made sacrifices; all have helped to lay the foundations of the prosperous society we enjoy today.”

We believed, that at long last, we the ‘forgotten many’ were being recognised when the Secretary of State for Defence said; “Today is the first ever Veterans Day, it offers a unique chance to honour and express our gratitude to all those who have served our country as members of the British Armed Forces. There are many thousands of veterans among us, we should be proud of them.”

We commenced our campaign for a National Defence Medal in September 2007 feeling let down by the politicians’ rhetoric and lack of real resolve for proper recognition.

The Government has presented veterans with the vaunted Veterans Badge and have lauded the success of this form of recognition from city to village. The campaigners for the National Defence Medal believe that this was a step in the right direction. However the badge is designed for informal every day wear and is not suitable for any formal military occasion. We believe that a National Defence Medal in line with the Australian Defence Medal would be much better, though the MOD have said they do not feel any obligation to follow.

Veterans, regular, short service and national service who served with the BAOR, occupied Korea after the armistice and in other theatres worldwide throughout the cold war, remain unrecognised, unlike our NATO allies. Indeed the December 2007 edition of the Soldier Magazine in the letter column discussing medals indicated that 75% of the readership believed National Service should have been recognised with a medal. We believe that the plethora of commemorative medals or ‘bling’ is as a direct result of an unstructured and unfair medals policy.

We hope that as a visitor to our website you will understand the genuine sense of grievance held by service personnel who served their country with honour and fidelity yet have nothing to show for it. As you will ascertain there is considerable political support and some letters are extremely emotive.

Our campaign response is quite simple and addressed directly both to the current CDS and Secretary of State for Defence; “ Gentlemen, rectify this situation forthwith. Do not merely utter platitudes.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

26 Million Veterans a Force to be Reckoned With

Mr. Coulter nails it in this article We still have strength in numbers. We need to keep together and let our voices be heard loud and clear and most importantly together: AMVETS, VFW, ALG, DAV and all 300 plus VSO's out there should meet once a year to flex our political muscle and to build and maintain a agenda annually.

All for one one for all.

By Bruce Coulter

Tue Jun 24, 2008,

Belmont, Mass. -

I had the pleasure of visiting with veterans at the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ regional convention at the Burlington Marriot Hotel a couple of weeks ago.

One thing that struck me was the sight of so many gray-haired men and women in attendance. Not that I’m even remotely close to 30, let alone 20, mind you. No one will ever accuse me of ageism.

But the key word in VFW is veteran. There are approximately 26 million veterans in this country and a large portion of them, primarily World War II and Korean War veterans, are dying at unprecedented rates. The figures vary to some degree, but it’s estimated between 1,800 and 2,000 veterans are dying each day across the nation.

I saw very few VFW members who might have been under 50. That’s been problematic for a number of years for most veterans’ organizations. Younger veterans are either not joining these groups, or are non-participating members. Full disclosure: I’m a non-active member of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and the American Legion.

A couple of years ago, I attended a monthly DAV meeting in Leominster. During the first 30 minutes, the chapter president discussed, in a wooden, monotone tone, what the group did the previous month, and then proceeded to spend another 30 minutes discussing what would happen over the course of the next month. By the time he finished, I was ready to shoot myself.

Mind you, it’s not a reflection on the members in terms of effort. The men sitting there that evening were the same ones raising money for community events or charitable organizations month after month. Many of them volunteer with no thought of personal gain, but rather, simply to help the communities they call home.

But the meeting lacked the sense of camaraderie that is typically infectious among veterans. Some veterans’ groups have a building they can call their own. They have BBQ’s, picnics, or sit around the bar, enjoying a cold brew and swapping stories, sad and funny.

Roland Gendron, a “Frozen Chosin” Korean War veteran who was presiding over his last convention as state commander, believes younger veterans are more interested in getting settled into their own lives. Those who have joined, he noted, did so because they were offered the first year’s membership for free.

Still, he holds no grudges against younger veterans, explaining he wasn’t an active member after initially joining the VFW in 1955.

“I was involved with family events, plus coaching baseball and football,” adding he became more involved once his children were grown.

Of this generation of veterans, Gendron noted they’re hungry for a piece of Americana. They want to get married, have kids and get a good job.
“A small percentage of new members stay active,” he said.
Who can argue with that reasoning?

However, because there are 26 million veterans, leaders of veterans’ groups understand there’s strength in numbers, particularly when it comes to lobbying state and federal lawmakers.
Gendron recognizes that basic fact.
“We have to have a large membership to lobby Congress,” he said.

And the efforts of organizations, such as the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart and others have paid off handsomely for veterans.

Some retired veterans can now collect disability compensation and their retirement pensions now. For years, the Department of Veterans Affairs offset compensation on a dollar-for-dollar basis, effectively taxing retired disabled veterans at a rate of 100 percent.

Veterans are also receiving more in terms of federal dollars for health care than they have in years, although many lawmakers, including Congressman Bob Filner, D-Calif. and Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, think the $94 billion request by President George Bush for fiscal 2009 still isn’t enough. Filner and Akaka are chairmen of the House and Senate veterans committees

Hey, we all want a piece of the pie. Some just prefer a little whipped cream on top. And we veterans have the numbers to back it up. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Bruce Coulter is the editor of the Burlington Union, a sister newspaper of the Belmont Citizen-Herald. He also a retired, disabled veteran. He may be reached at

Food, diesel and coal arrived during the operation

Berlin Airlift veterans are to gather at a Shropshire museum to mark the 60th anniversary of the operation.

About 40 members of the British Berlin Airlift Association will meet members of the public at the RAF museum at Cosford on Wednesday.

West Berlin was cut off by Soviet troops and British and US aircraft flew in food, diesel and coal in nearly 300,000 flights over 11 months.

Sixty five British, Germans and Americans aircrew died in crashes.

The Soviet leader Stalin had hoped to force the city's citizens to accept Communist government.

But the operation continued until the blockade was lifted almost a year later.

Crews were faced with a number of obstruction tactics such as radio jamming, shining searchlights designed to temporarily blind pilots and drifting barrage balloons.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/06/24 08:39:44 GMT

Monday, June 23, 2008

Former US POWs Continue Efforts for Compensation from Iraq
By Dan Robinson
Capitol Hill
18 June 2008

Robinson report - Download (MP3) audio clip
Robinson report - Listen (MP3) audio clip

Americans held by Iraq during the Gulf War in 1991 testified to Congress Tuesday about their efforts to obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation and punitive damages from the Iraqi government. VOA's Dan Robinson reports from Capitol Hill.

The legal history may be complex, but the underlying emotions are not. Americans subjected to torture and other mistreatment while in the hands of the Saddam Hussein regime want to be compensated for their suffering.

George Charchalis, who is retired from the U.S. Navy, was in Kuwait at the time of Iraq's invasion in 1990.

"What I had feared most came to pass. The Iraqi soldiers kicked down the door and struck me in the face with a rifle butt, knocking me down to the ground and kicking me in the stomach," he said.

He is among 17 Americans held by Iraq during the Gulf War who have sought compensation from the present-day government in Baghdad.

Under a more than decade-old law, foreign nations on a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, as Iraq used to be, are liable for damages for torture or the killing or hostage taking of U.S. citizens. And international law holds that successor regimes can be held liable.

Ambassador John Norton Moore was co-counsel in a 2002 case against Iraq in which a U.S. judge awarded former POWs $959 million.

"The word of the Congress and the nation is clear," he said. "Those who torture Americans will be held accountable. There is no if, and or but attached to those pledges."

But after the U.S. invaded Iraq, efforts to collect from frozen Iraqi assets were blocked by the Bush administration, which cited a need to protect Iraqi reconstruction funds.

In a 2005 ruling, the Supreme Court declined to accept an appeal from the group, effectively overturning the nearly billion-dollar federal court award.

A provision in defense legislation approved by Congress in 2007 would have allowed the lawsuit to proceed. But President Bush, again citing threats to Iraqi reconstruction funds, used a procedural tactic to veto the measure.

Democratic Representative Steve Cohen chaired the House Judiciary Committee hearing.

"The president has not satisfactorily explained why these fundamental [legal] principles should be disregarded here, nor has he satisfactorily explained why all of Iraq's assets must be shielded, even while it is reaping billions upon billions of dollars from its oil fields, and while it is readily paying off pre-war commercial debts to foreign corporations totaling $4.4 million," he said.

U.S. Navy Captain Larry Slade was among the plaintiffs in the original lawsuit.

"My fellow POWs and I, who brought this historic case, were tortured by Iraq through brutal beatings, starvation, electric shock, whipping, burning, mock executions, threatened dismemberment, threats to our families, subjection to bombing, and breaking of bones and eardrums," he said.

Slade says former POW claims are also supported by unanimous congressional resolutions condemning Iraqi abuses and Saddam Hussein's use of detainees as human shields, as well as a February 2002 executive order by President Bush holding states, organizations and individuals responsible for treating U.S. personnel humanely.

"These courageous POWs and their family members, whom the nation owes a debt of gratitude, have struggled now for six years in their efforts to hold their torturers accountable, said Ambassador John Morton Moore. "Surely six years in their efforts to support the rule of law, as volunteers for their country, is enough.

Continuing to block compensation efforts, adds Moore, means future generations of American POW's will face a greater likelihood of being tortured.

Attorney Daniel Wolf asserts the Bush administration has blocked compensation to prevent the issue from harming bilateral negotiations with Iraq over two agreements on future relations, and the status of U.S. forces.

"The irony could not be greater," he said. "Having once had their physical selves held hostage by the Iraqi government to extort concessions from the United States, Iraq's former American victims are now having their claims held hostage by their own government so that it can extract concessions from Iraq."

Wolf accuses the State Department of, in his words, looking for a convenient opportunity to abandon (the claims) forever.

Iowa Democrat Bruce Braley says there could be some hope in a legal compromise he has proposed.

Iowa Democrat Bruce Braley (file photo)

"The alternative that I am proposing would eliminate any fears of a flood of expensive lawsuits, because it specifies the plaintiffs against Iraq, and offers relative modest amounts [despite] the judgment that is already on the books for the POW-torture victims," he said. "The total amount that Iraq would have to pay under this compromise agreement would be approximately $415 million."

Braley says this contrasts with billions of dollars the U.S. is spending in Iraq, adding that his proposal would permit former POW's to be compensated, while eliminating Iraqi government concerns.

At the same time, legislation the lawmaker is sponsoring would remove authority President Bush received from Congress under which he could waive provisions regarding Iraq on the basis of national security.
The U.S. Sacrifices in Korea being Forgotten by Younger South Koreans

Editorial The Korean War Revisited


On June 25, 1950, the North Korean army invaded South Korean territory by crossing the 38th Parallel. When the roar of tanks and sounds of bombs broke the early silence of a peaceful Sunday morning, a third of South Korean soldiers were off duty. The near defenseless government under then President Rhee Syng-man remained disorganized, while North Korean forces occupied Seoul in three days and advanced to the Nakdong River in a month.

South Korea was saved thanks to U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, who, as United Nations commander-in-chief for Korea, directed the famous Incheon landing. Otherwise the Republic of Korea would have been erased from the world map. The Korean War was the worst catastrophe in the history of the Korean Peninsula, with one million dead or wounded and 10 million separated from their families. About 200,000 Korean and U.N. soldiers and 2,000 student soldiers died in battle. Thanks to help from 20 nations (besides South Korea), especially the United States, we recovered our land and overcame the ruins of the war to develop into a major economy ranked in the world’s top 20 based on liberal democracy and market economics.

According to a poll of 1,016 middle and high school students in Korea, 43 percent did not know what year the war broke out. Only 49 percent knew that North Korea invaded South Korea. More shocking was that 28.4 percent picked the United States as the greatest threat to national security, followed by Japan (27.7 percent) and North Korea (24.5 percent). Adults should share the blame for why children are so ignorant about the war but are well informed about the candlelight vigils this year. Students view the United States as a threat despite the sacrifice of 33,000 U.S. soldiers to save South Korea.

June is also Remembrance Month, a time when the patriotism of fallen soldiers is marked and praised. June this year, however, is covered by a distorted situation. The heart of Seoul is filled with a self-destructive collective behavior shaking the basis of our society and expressing anti-U.S. hatred. The Korean Teachers and Educational Workers Union has blasted the comic “Spreading Correct Knowledge of the Korean War,” which the Korean Veterans Association has produced and distributed free to students. The union has blasted the comic for being from the Cold War period and idolizing MacArthur and U.S. forces.

There is no guarantee that another Korean War will not break out again. The people of the post-war generation who directly experienced the war or heard many stories from the war generation have a duty to properly teach our descendants about the conflict and the lessons learned.

The Army’s campaign to implement “Warrior Pay” of up to $1,500 a month to reward soldiers for cumulative time served in a war zone is running up against a hard deadline that could mean the difference of whether payouts begin next fiscal year or are put on hold for at least another year.

The Army and Defense Department didn’t send a formal Warrior Pay proposal to Congress until May 28 — deep into the legislative process for the fiscal 2009 defense budget. So when Congress sought changes, there wasn’t much time to get that work done. The reality now: If an updated proposal isn’t in the pipeline before the July 4 congressional recess, the plan will likely be dead for another year.

The concept is to retool hazardous duty pay so that each service can tailor it to its individual needs. The Army wants to use it to create what it’s calling Warrior Pay, and to gradually increase payments based on the length of time a soldier spends on combat duty.

The Marine Corps should follow suit.

The Warrior Pay concept rewards experience and promotes volunteerism. Like Sea Pay, it compensates those who deploy more by paying out bigger monthly amounts as they accumulate time in combat zones over the course of their careers.

Warrior Pay would be an incentive to re-enlist and to volunteer for combat duty, reducing the burden on the rest of the service. This could only boost morale.

Congress can still get this done this year. But it will take some effort.

After that, it will be up to the Marine Corps to buy into the program. It certainly wouldn’t be right to reward soldiers for repeated deployments while failing to do the same for Marines.
Shortchanging Our Vets: Military Suicides

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Push for museum at iconic site

5:00AM Monday June 23, 2008
By Kate Connolly

Checkpoint Charlie could become the site of Europe's first Cold War museum, following a plea by some of the most significant figures of the post-World War II era, which divided the continent into capitalist West and communist East.

Former Presidents, Foreign Ministers and ambassadors have written an open statement to the German Government. They say that, almost two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, memories are fading fast, despite the art-house success of films such as Good Bye Lenin! and The Lives of Others, both set in communist East Berlin.

Vaclav Havel, the former Czech President, former Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, Germany's former Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and the former United States Ambassador to Germany John Kornblum are among those appealing for "the establishment of a Cold War museum" to "safeguard for the long term the memory of the division of Europe and its liberation". Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has also given his backing to the project.

As the most famous crossing-point between East and West Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie has been suggested as the most appropriate site for a museum dedicated to lives on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

The appeal, published in the Suddeutsche Zeitung, comes at a time when Berlin is beginning to regret the initial rush to do away with one of history's ugliest symbols of repression. City authorities have faced mounting complaints that most of the Wall and its accompanying watchtowers have disappeared, mostly pulverised and used for road building. Critics argue that information is too scarce for many to properly grasp what the Cold War was all about.

Interest in the East of the past has even extended to opening prefabricated flats of the era as mini-museums.

But more and more Cold War remnants are being lost to make way for new developments. This week the capital commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Berlin airlift, when the Western allies broke a Soviet blockade to deliver supplies to the city. Veterans of the almost year-long airlift - now in their eighties and nineties - who landed planes laden with everything from sweets to coal every 90 seconds - will gather at Berlin's Tempelhof airport. But Tempelhof will close in the autumn, to make way for a new international hub.

Little remains of the 165km Berlin Wall, which lasted for 28 years, dividing the city and leading to the deaths of at least 133 people. Although tourists in a recent survey voted it the sight they most wanted to see, even some Berliners are at a loss to remember where it ran. More of the Wall is on display elsewhere - at the Vatican, the Imperial War Museum, the United Nations - than in Berlin.

Apart from a few stretches, such as the now crumbling 1362m-long East Side, on which 106 artists have painted their work and which is soon to receive a facelift, the most prominent "Wall reminder" is an easily-missed cobblestone strip to show where it once went.

A museum, say the politicians, would help to counteract what some critics call a "Disneyfication process".


This appeared in the pharos-tribune

On April 30 and May 1, The American Cold War Veterans held their annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Veterans from across the country, who served in the military during the Cold War, from September 1945 to December 1991 attended to discuss issues concerning all veterans, and to make plans for the coming year.

These include the continued effort to have Congress authorize and Department of Defense issue a “Cold War Victory Medal” to all those who served honorably during our country’s longest war. At the present time, there is a bill, S.1097, The Cold War Medal Act 2007, that is sitting in the Senate Armed Services Committee awaiting approval.

On May 1, the organization hosted a congressional breakfast in the Hart Senate Building. Key speaker was U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina, who stressed the need to honor our veterans and remind the public the meaning and reason for the Cold War. During the meeting, Frank Tims, national director of the American Cold War Veterans, was presented with the U.S. Army “Freedom Team Salute.”

After the breakfast, we all gathered in Arlington National Cemetery to hold a memorial service, complete with color guard ringing of the bell 21 times to simulate a 21-gun salute, and buglar playing taps. During the ceremony, a slight mist was falling, which seemed very appropriate at the time, and the sun broke from behind the clouds a little later.

On completion of the ceremony, the organization separated into smaller groups and placed flowers on the graves of several Heroes of the Cold War. These brave men and women might be forgotten by the general public, said Frank Tims, but as our motto says, “We Remember.”

Looking down the road, our future goal is to have a memorial erected to honor all Cold War veterans.

We also want to reach out to all veterans, join forces with other veterans service organizations to ensure that veterans receive the proper care and aid that they deserve and to work closely with the Veterans Administration to make sure no vet is left behind.

We ask that everyone contact their elected officials and ask them to vote for passage of this bill when it reaches the Senate floor.

For more information please visit our Web site at and see our message forum at e-mail me at

Jerald Terwilliger

formerly of Logansport

Treasurer of American Cold War Veterans
Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
is running out of space! You Can Help


Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
is running out of space! YOU Can HELP- Please Read:

One of the last surviving veterans of the Pearl Harbor attack,
Ray Emory, who was on board the U.S.S. Honolulu, has asked
us to please include the concept of a National Veterans Cemetary
on the battlesite of the Dec 7, 1941 attack on Ewa Field.

Ewa Field was a famous USMC WW-II Aviation Base,
historic December 7 battlesite, and was a Naval Airfield going
back to 1925. It has the ideal type of soil for a cemetary,
and futher, has a large number of fighter aircraft revements
that would be PERFECT for mausoleums. These are
extremely BOMB-PROOF and also very historically fitting
for Veterans who would wish to actually be a PART of
famous WW-II History as well as be interned in an Historic
National Battlefield.

Further, Ewa Field is currently on President Bush's list to
be named as part of a wider National Pearl Harbor Monument,
designated under the National Antiquites Act of 1906.

It is a PERFECT FIT for the West Oahu Community and for
U.S. Military Veterans. And for PRESERVING AMERICA!

The land is a USMC WW-II airfield that was likely the
FIRST American Battle of World War II- being struck by
IJN Zero fighters at 07:55 AM, Dec. 7, 1941, BEFORE
Pearl Harbor was struck. It was also the "Base of Aces",
with famous Ace pilot squadrons like the "Black Sheep,
"Swash Bucklers" and "Wake Island Avengers".

Honolulu Advertiser story- Front Page, Wednesday

KGMB TV News Story

KHNL TV News Story

President Bush Memo "Pearl Harbor National Monument"

Presidential Executive Order 13287: "Preserve America"

We need YOUR help to make the U.S. Navy comply with
Federal Preservation Statutes and Presidential Executive Orders
and NOT turn Historic WW-II Ewa Field into a Shopping Center!


John Bond
P.O. Box 75578
Kapolei, Hi. 96707

Saturday, June 21, 2008

spacer image

The Week in Germany: Culture

June 13, 2008

Friends Always: A Conversation with Andrei Cherny About His New Book Honoring the American Heroes of the Berlin Airlift

Heroes: Andrei Cherny's "The Candy Bombers". photos © courtesy of Andrei Cherny

"The Candy Bombers: The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America's Finest Hour," by Andrei Cherny, was published in April 2008 - the 60th anniversary of the 1948/49 Berlin Airlift.

It is the story of the small group of Americans who, with few resources and against all expectations, fed half of one of the largest cities in the world by air for more than a year, thereby avoiding World War III, winning the hearts of the Germans, and inspiring people around the world to believe in America's fundamental goodness.

At the core of Cherny's research was his extensive interviews with Gail “Hal” Halvorsen, and his access to Halvorsen’s boxes of letters, diaries and documents that had sat for years untouched in his basement.

As a 27-year-old pilot Halvorsen, in violation of the Airlift’s strict rules, had started dropping presents of candy tied to homemade handkerchief parachutes to the children of Berlin, and became not only the nation’s first post-war military icon, but almost single handedly transformed how the citizens of Germany’s capital saw the United States. Sixty years later, every aging Berliner still remembers when he stopped fearing America’s “terror bombers” and instead looked to the sky for the next arrival of “the Candy Bombers.”

The following interview with Andrei Cherny about the book was provided to The Week in Germany for publication by the author. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of the German government. In his own words, Cherny speaks about how he researched the book and the strong emotions he often felt in recalling this noble hour in human history.

Author: Andrei Cherny

Why did you choose The Candy Bombers as the title of this book? Who were the Candy Bombers?

The direct answer is that they were a group of airmen during the Berlin airlift that followed the lead of a young 27-year-old pilot and started dropping candy tied to little parachutes to the children of the devastated city. (At first, in doing so, they were breaking all the rules of that vast and complicated undertaking; later the airlift command gave its blessing to the candy drops.) The name was coined by the children of Berlin and eventually came to be used for all the airlift pilots. In the larger sense what I argue in the book is that their approach to dealing with the Germans – a people the Americans had defeated and whose country they had occupied – became seen and accepted as the way America should act in the world. There was a big debate right after World War II, and even during the war, as to the kind of role America should play as it was coming into its own as a world power. During the Berlin airlift, as the candy drops became its defining feature, Americans came to view their role as a special one – a role predicated on the belief that we had a mission in the world to act in a way that married our military might with a sense of moral purpose.

Describe the evolution of this project, where did the idea for this book come from?

First and foremost I was looking to tell a thrilling and exciting narrative story. The kinds of books that have appealed to me in recent years are books like Seabiscuit or The Devil in the White City. Grounded in careful historical research they have the characteristics of some of the best of fiction and are, most of all, thrilling stories.

In some respects my choosing this particular tale to tell was a reaction to what was happening at the time in America and around the world. It was 2004 and I was working for John Kerry’s presidential campaign. Abu Ghraib was starting to make headlines and the issue of Guantanamo Bay was also coming to the fore. And it seemed to me the America that I and so many others had grown up believing in was somehow absent from the world scene. I asked myself, when was the moment that America was at its most esteemed, most respected, most beloved around the world? It seemed clear it was during the Berlin airlift when Americans undertook what was then, and still is now 60 years later, the greatest humanitarian effort in history. It was a time when people throughout the world – on both sides of the Iron Curtain and on every side of every political or philosophical division – believed America was on the side of good and decency.

What sort of research did you do for The Candy Bombers? Who were your sources?

The research was grounded in a lot of archival work – at the National Archives; in the Library of Congress; the U.S. Army Archives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania; the U.S. Air Force Archives at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama; and at numerous other archives and libraries throughout the U.S. In Germany I spent a lot of time at the Allied History Museum in Berlin and at the U.S. Air Force in Europe history offices in Ramstein. I also spent a lot of time traveling to locations integral to the story. For example, I managed to get to Rhein-Main Air Base outside Frankfurt, which was the primary airlift hub, just days before it was permanently shut down in December 2005. And of course I also visited Tempelhof Airport in Berlin and other landmarks there central to the story.

One of the most rewarding aspects of the research was the time I spent time with airlift veterans at their annual reunion and at a number of other venues around the country. With the help of the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation I even got a chance to fly on a restored C-54 transport plane, the same kind of plane that served as the mainstay of the operation. But the real heart of the research, and what nobody else had done before, was my interviews and close collaboration with the original candy bomber, Gail “Hal” Halverson. He’s now 87 but still has more energy than just about anybody I know. I spent many days with him here in the U.S. (he has homes in Arizona and Utah) and accompanied him to a convention of airlift veterans. I also trailed him and interviewed him in Berlin on one of his trips there. Along with those interviews I was given unfettered access to his personal papers that were literally buried in boxes in his basement.

What sort of material did you find in those boxes?

They contained an absolute treasure trove without which the book would have taken on an entirely different character. Hal’s papers included news clippings and old flight logs, letters he’d received from candy companies offering donations and wishing him well; letters from school children all over the country who donated candy, pocket change and handkerchiefs to be fashioned into parachutes; and letters from the children and parents of Berlin. To this day I have a hard time reading them without getting a lump in my throat. Being able to see what a single candy bar meant to those kids who hadn’t tasted anything like that in years, and their parents who had been unable to provide such things to their children, was an extraordinary experience. The gratitude and joy expressed to Hal personally, and to America because of what he was doing, was amazing. It made sense of this entire story for me. And finally, Hal’s papers included his love letters to the woman who eventually became his wife, Alta Halverson. Their romance is very much a part of this book. It’s their story.

The book’s subtitle is “The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America’s Finest Hour.” There have certainly been many books, documentaries, histories and the like about the Soviet blockade of Berlin and America’s response. What’s the “untold” story here? What’s new in this book?

The Berlin Airlift is one of those stories that are in plain sight but actually not really known. Most people know that America brought food to Berlin by airplane after the war but they’re not exactly sure what happened. They don’t know the exact circumstances. As famous as it is, the airlift is often overlooked in stories of the Cold War and of post-WWII America, despite the fact that it played a crucial role in determining this country’s path both domestically and internationally. It’s thus no surprise that there’ve been few popular histories of the Berlin airlift.

What I think makes this book most different is that the airlift story is usually told in terms of great power politics (i.e. the negotiations between America and the Soviet Union) or in terms of pure military history (i.e. how this enormous undertaking was organized.) Both of those stories are important, are part of this book, and are central to the tale. The untold story is at the human level. At its heart this is a story about people. It’s about a group of Americans – some well-known, like Harry Truman; others unknown like Hal Halverson – who were somehow seen as leftovers of World War II, and weren’t given their due during that titanic struggle. And then came this moment when history tested them to the ultimate degree. It’s also the human story of how America went from wanting to punish Germans for the horrors of World War II to seeing them as people who deserved compassion and kindness. And finally it’s the human story of the Berliners themselves – the residents of Hitler’s capital. It’s the story of how they went from being a city of people who had cheered on the Nazis during the war, and continued to embrace many of Nazism’s fascist principles during the post-war American occupation, to being a city of people who passionately embraced democracy and freedom and loved America more than the population of perhaps any other foreign city on earth.

You say the men who broke the siege of Berlin were the misfits, the leftovers, and history’s second-stringers. What do you mean?

Each of the main characters in this book finds himself, after World War II, in a situation where he’s seen as a second stringer. Harry Truman had come into office after the death of his predecessor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a giant on the world stage, and spent almost his entire presidency derided as someone unable to fill FDR’s shoes. Many Americans considered him an object of scorn. Lucius Clay had dedicated himself to the art of war and railed at the circumstances that kept him from the battlefield. World War II was the opportunity to find the martial glory he had trained for all his life and instead he had been put in charge of organizing the war on the home front. James Forrestal, who kept scaling the heights of power in government, became the first secretary of defense and the cabinet official with more responsibility for national security than any previous cabinet member in history even as he was slipping into madness. Bill Tunner, who had organized a successful and legendary airlift over the Himalayas during the war, was consigned to a desk job in a forgotten corner of the Pentagon. And while others had found fame as bomber or fighter pilots during the war, “Hal” Halverson was stuck as a transport pilot, ferrying people and planes from South America to the European Theater of Operations because of his insistence on being a stickler for rules. All of these characters saw the great parade of World War II and its aftermath pass them by. But it turned out for each of them that their experiences – the very same experiences that kept them from finding glory during the war – were exactly what was needed at that moment when America experienced its greatest crisis of what became the post-World War II age.

Whom do you consider the unsung hero of the airlift?

I’d have to say that would be Bill Tunner – the general who came in after a couple of months of the airlift to save it from the descent into failure in which it found itself. He was a hard man. (I tell the story in the book of the seeming callousness with which he treated his wife’s illness and eventual death.) But he was also an amazing organizer. As I was writing the book, and watching an American city – New Orleans – in large measure destroyed by incompetence in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he really appealed to me. With a pitiful number of planes and the most meager amount of materials at his disposal, he was able to feed what was then one of the largest cities in the world completely by air when there was almost no one in the world who thought such an undertaking would be possible.

You detail numerous incidents and anecdotes in The Candy Bombers. Which stands out most in your mind?

The moment that stands out most clearly for me was the moment of Berlin in November 1948. But first, let me give you some background. During the years after Germany’s surrender the American occupation seemed to be failing, and in Berlin the populace was becoming more opposed to democracy, not less. The city was more crime ridden than ever before. Life was becoming coarser. And it was a city that had been on the verge of starvation for at least four or five years – reaching back even to before the end of the war – with rations far below that which the U.N. said was necessary for human survival. In November 1948, when things were at a point were they seemingly couldn’t get any worse, the longest, most sustained fog in Europe’s recorded history engulfed the entire continent. As hungry as Berlin had been, things did indeed get worse. The airlift, which was the last tiny lifeline of food and coal for heat, was virtually shut down for days on end.

Everyone, including the joint chiefs of staff and the state department, expected Berliners to rise up and kick the Americans out or, at the very least, accept ration cards from the Russians that would allow Berliners to abundantly feed their families and heat their homes. Instead the exact opposite happened. Only four percent of Berliners accepted the offer of Soviet rations. The city, which just a couple of years earlier had become the world’s crime capital—racked with gang warfare, violent robberies, and brutal murders—became perhaps the safest big city in the world as the crime rate plummeted. And for the first time, in polls that had been done on a regular basis by the U.S. military government, Berliners switched from being opposed to democracy to being in favor of it. That, to me, is the summation of the untold story of the Berlin airlift. Were it not for the sense of kindness and humanity of the airlift and the candy bombing that transformation would never have happened.

Harry Truman’s totally unexpected victory over Tom Dewey is one of the most enduring milestones in presidential electoral history. Why do you say it was the Berlin crisis that gave Truman his victory?

As someone who has already written a book of American political history, if I thought I had any expertise at all it was in this area. And yet this was one of the things that was a real eye-opener to me. I had always believed the common historical explanation of Truman’s come-from-behind victory: that it was partly a result of his economic populism, partly a result of public appreciation for the New Deal, and partly because he was a ferocious campaigner, while Dewey, as one pundit described him, looked like “the little man on the wedding cake.” But it turned out that as much as the 1948 campaign was about all those things, it was as much or more about national security and the fear of war. That doesn’t come through in any of the histories of the campaign itself or of that era but it’s very apparent if you look at what was going on in the daily thrust and parry of the campaign and at what was on the minds of Americans during that election. Newspaper headlines, radio commentaries, and television news stories were suffused with, and dominated by, conversation and commentary about the Berlin crisis. In fact if you look back at the headlines in 1948, you’ll see that Berlin was more of a subject than Dewey, who was accepted by almost all Americans as the likely next president of the United States. He and Truman were engaged in a non-stop back-and-forth in their speeches, and their respective campaigns on this big struggle America was finding itself in with the USSR; the question of how to confront the Soviets; and which of them would be able to better deal with national security and the threat of an impending World War III.

Berlin was also central to the 1948 elections because for Truman the fight was not just about beating Dewey, it was also about beating the third party candidacy of Henry Wallace – another former vice president to FDR. The Truman/Wallace battle was waged almost exclusively over the issue of Berlin. Wallace staked his entire candidacy on the subject. Beyond Dewey being a strong candidate, the reason every pundit and journalist thought Truman was sure to go down to defeat was that they were convinced Wallace was going to split the democratic party and deny Truman enough votes to win. So Truman had to engage in a titanic struggle to define the future and soul of the Democratic Party. It was a struggle to determine who would be FDR’s and the Democratic Party’s true heir. It’s a struggle that defines the Democratic Party to this day. If Henry Wallace had gotten anywhere near the amount of support he was getting from Democrats before the Berlin crisis there’s no way Truman could have won. The fact that he didn’t get that kind of support was a direct result of America’s reaction to the Berlin airlift.

Why do you consider the Berlin airlift the “forgotten foundation tale of America in the modern world”?

Because it was the moment when America took its first feeble steps as a world power in a time other than that of global war. What we had done in World War I was fight in Europe and then pull back in the aftermath. Most people around the world and in the United States, including FDR, expected America would do the same after World War II. No one expected a long-term military commitment. But that’s where we found ourselves as 1947 turned into 1948, and Americans had to figure out how we were going to act at the summit of world power when we weren’t just a junior partner to France or England or some other great power and when we were on our own as leaders of the free world. In a matter of months we had the Berlin Blockade, the Marshall Plan, and NATO. All these things were happening in a rush of events that were puling America into a whole new role on the world stage. It was during the course of the Berlin airlift that we were able, for the first time, to figure out how to combine our military might with this sense of moral leadership that would be so important to figuring how we’d act for the rest of the 20th century.

In what way can the legend of the Candy Bombers and the lessons of the airlift help guide our way forward?

I think what shines through very clearly in the kind of foreign policy Harry Truman and others in the book ended up asserting is that America can’t just see people around the world as pawns in the global game. We have to not only convey that we are concerned with the well being of others and their future, we actually have to be concerned. Throughout the years of the occupation, before the Berlin blockade and airlift, we had already been bringing food to Germans and Berliners. But it had always been done with a sense of doing so for our own benefit as Americans to make sure Berliners, for example, didn’t turn to Communism. And it also seemed like we were doing the barest amount necessary to keep them alive. It wasn’t until the airlift came to be seen as something representing America’s kindness and sense of common humanity with the Germans we’d defeated in war that those Germans saw us as people who had their best interests at heart. What we've seen since 9/11 in Iraq and around the world has been America conveying the image that we’re acting for our benefit alone – it’s our way or the highway. There’s no sense, in our actions on the world stage, that we’re building a coalition of people who share a common destiny or that we believe the fate of people, whether in the Middle East or Africa or Asia, is intimately tied up with our own.

It should also be noted that throughout the process of the airlift, America was committed to the belief that it had to be done in conjunction with our allies and that at every step we had to walk with them even when it was inconvenient for us. And on the home front, Harry Truman made it clear that at a time of threat, all Americans had to be involved in the struggle. We forget that in 1948 – an election year – he took the incredibly unpopular step of calling for the draft, which had expired after World War II, to be reinstated. Needless to say his popularity, which had been building up from its low levels of 1946, started plummeting again. Nevertheless he believed all Americans had to serve. We haven’t seen that kind of leadership out of Washington in the years since 9/11 either.

You’ve said you were connected to this story on a more emotional and personal level than you would have thought when you first started working on this book. In what way?

All four of my grandparents were concentration camp survivors during World War II. When I was in Germany – in Berlin – I caught myself wondering whether the candy bombers had been right about treating the post-war Germans with kindness instead of a sense of punishment. As I began writing the book I had to resolve for myself the same kinds of questions American occupiers had struggled with. Also, both of my parents had grown up in postwar Europe – in Czechoslovakia – in conditions of hunger and hardship very similar to what the children of Berlin were dealing with in 1948 – the children who were so entranced by the candy bombers. And my parents were around that same age. As a result their memory, and the memory of them as children, was very much on my mind. It gave me a personal connection to the story that I otherwise might not have had.

What do you want readers to get out of this book?

Most of all I want them to get a good story. I want them to have a story that’s a page-turner; one that will appeal to people that would normally not want to read something that goes under the category of “history.” I also want them to take away a reminder of who we are supposed to be as Americans. This is a book about doing a great thing at a big national level – the Berlin airlift, a huge undertaking. It’s also about how one person’s individual actions can make a huge difference when done in the spirit of kindness and generosity. When Hal Halvorsen started dropping candy on the children of Berlin he couldn’t, in his wildest dreams, have imagined the impact he was going to have. His small gesture set in motion a chain of events that, for years to come, had huge repercussions for Americans and people around the world.

About the Author

Andrei Cherny is founder and co-editor of "Democracy: A Journal of Ideas," a quarterly print and online journal of progressive thought that seeks to spur new ideas on the big challenges of the 21st century.

He has provided policy and strategy advice to political leaders, national labor unions, Fortune 100 CEOs, and prominent civic leaders. A former senior speechwriter and advisor to Vice President Al Gore, Cherny was the youngest White House Speechwriter in American history.

Cherny has written on politics, policy, and history for the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and New Republic, is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, and appears as a commentator on television news programs including ABC’s Good Morning America, The O’Reilly Factor, and CNN Morning.

Cherny and his wife reside in Phoenix, Arizona where he is a criminal prosecutor. He is an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve. He graduated with honors from Harvard College and from the University of California Berkeley Law School.


Andrei Cherny (personal website)

The Candy Bombers (website for the book)

Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation

The Berlin Airlift Veterans Association

Merkel Opens Air Show, Meets Halvorsen (TWIG, May 30, 2008)

Berlin Airlift was 'Miracle of Friendship', Ambassador Scharioth Says (

Andrews AFB Open House Honors Heroes of the Airlift (

Friends Always: Andrei Cherny Tells 'The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlif and America's Finest Hour' (TWIG, June 6, 2008)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Veteran Pension Bill Passes NY Assembly

Thanks to Jim Maisano for sending this along He called me today and urged all veterans in New York to Call their State Senator and tell them to urge Senate majority leader Joseph L. Bruno to vote on this before the Summer recess.

See Bill Summary

Here is the Assembly Bill that passed yesterday.

The Case for a Veterans Pension Bill

As proof of my point that passing the Veteran Pension Bill today does
not cost any real money in the coming years, here is an example:

- Currently, most veterans that served in military up to 1975 get the
buy-back. This change in the law benefits those that served in military
after May 7, 1975, but did not serve in actual combat.

- So, let's pick a guy who joined the military in 1978 at age 18 (born
in 1960).

- He served in the military for 3 years, 1978 to 1981.

- He leaves the military and starts a government job in 1982.

- He hits 20 years as a government worker in 2002, but is only 42 years
old. He cannot start taking his pension - he is too young. Most
probably, he keeps working in his government job.

- He turns 55 in 2015 and can finally take his pension, but at a

- Maybe he decides to wait until he is 62 in 2022 to start taking his
pension so that he gets the full amount.

- But either way, this guy's pension does not cost the government any
money until at some point between 2015 and 2022.

- And this guy served in one of the earliest years that this change in
law would impact. The vast majority of people that could benefit from
the buy-back served after him in the military and start taking pensions
in much later years.

- So the actual costs associated with this change in law are at least a
decade away and will increase slowly over time as more vets qualify for
a pension.

- By the way, it is not even clear that this guy would even utilize this
buy-back option, because if he worked for about 30 years in that
government job, he probably does not need the extra years and it is not
worth paying into the buy-back program.

- You can see why the fiscal note is so flawed (for this and several
other reasons).



James Maisano, Esq.
Crowell & Moring LLP
153 East 53rd Street, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10022

WEISENBERG, WRIGHT -- read once and referred to the Committee on
Governmental Employees -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered
reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee -- recommitted
to the Committee on Governmental Employees in accordance with Assembly
Rule 3, sec. 2 -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered
reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee -- again
reported from said committee with amendments, ordered reprinted as
amended and recommitted to said committee

AN ACT to amend the retirement and social security law, in relation to
providing credit to members of public retirement systems of the state
for military service


1 Section 1. Section 1000 of the retirement and social security law, as
2 added by chapter 548 of the laws of 2000 and subdivision 9 as added by
3 chapter 547 of the laws of 2002, is amended to read as follows:
4 S 1000. Military service credit. Notwithstanding any law to the
5 contrary, a member of a public retirement system of the state, as
6 defined in subdivision twenty-three of section five hundred one of this
7 chapter, shall be eligible for credit for military service as hereinaft-
8 er provided:
9 1. A member, upon application to such retirement system, may obtain a
10 total not to exceed three years of service credit for up to three years
11 of military duty, as defined in section two hundred forty-three of the
12 military law, if the member was honorably discharged from the military
13 {and all or part of such military service was rendered during the
14 following periods: (a) commencing December seventh, nineteen hundred
15 forty-one and terminating December thirty-first, nineteen hundred
16 forty-six; (b) commencing June twenty-seventh, nineteen hundred fifty
17 and terminating January thirty-first, nineteen hundred fifty-five; or

EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
{ } is old law to be omitted.

A. 6318--C 2

1 (c) commencing February twenty-eighth, nineteen hundred sixty-one and
2 terminating May seventh, nineteen hundred seventy-five;
3 2. A member, upon application to such retirement system, may obtain a
4 total not to exceed three years of service credit for up to three years
5 of military duty, as defined in section two hundred forty-three of the
6 military law, if honorably discharged therefrom, if all or part of such
7 services was rendered in the military conflicts referenced below, as
8 follows:
9 (a) hostilities participated in by the military forces of the United
10 States in Lebanon, from the first day of June, nineteen hundred eighty-
11 three to the first day of December, nineteen hundred eighty-seven, as
12 established by receipt of the armed forces expeditionary medal, the navy
13 expeditionary medal, or the marine corps expeditionary medal;
14 (b) hostilities participated in by the military forces of the United
15 States in Grenada, from the twenty-third day of October, nineteen
16 hundred eighty-three to the twenty-first day of November, nineteen
17 hundred eighty-three, as established by receipt of the armed forces
18 expeditionary medal, the navy expeditionary medal, or the marine corps
19 expeditionary medal;
20 (c) hostilities participated in by the military forces of the United
21 States in Panama, from the twentieth day of December, nineteen hundred
22 eighty-nine to the thirty-first day of January, nineteen hundred ninety,
23 as established by receipt of the armed forces expeditionary medal, the
24 navy expeditionary medal, or the marine corps expeditionary medal; or
25 (d) hostilities participated in by the military forces of the United
26 States, from the second day of August, nineteen hundred ninety, to the
27 end of such hostilities in case of a veteran who served in the theater
28 of operations including Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the
29 United Arab Emirates, Oman, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, the
30 Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and the airspace above these locations}.
31 {3} 2. A member must have at least five years of credited service (not
32 including service granted hereunder) to be eligible to receive credit
33 under this section.
34 {4} 3. To obtain such credit, a member shall pay such retirement
35 system, for deposit in the fund used to accumulate employer contrib-
36 utions, a sum equal to the product of the number of years of military
37 service being claimed and three percent of such member`s compensation
38 earned during the twelve months of credited service immediately preced-
39 ing the date that the member made application for credit pursuant to
40 this section. If permitted by rule or regulation of the applicable
41 retirement system, the member may pay such member costs by payroll
42 deduction for a period which shall not exceed the time period of mili-
43 tary service to be credited pursuant to this section. In the event the
44 member leaves the employer payroll prior to completion of payment, he or
45 she shall forward all remaining required payments to the appropriate
46 retirement system prior to the effective date of retirement. If the full
47 amount of such member costs is not paid to the appropriate retirement
48 system prior to the member`s retirement, the amount of service credited
49 shall be proportional to the total amount of the payments made prior to
50 retirement.
51 {5} 4. In no event shall the credit granted pursuant to this section,
52 when added to credit granted for military service with any retirement
53 system of this state pursuant to this or any other provision of law,
54 exceed a total of three years.
55 {6} 5. To be eligible to receive credit for military service under
56 this section, a member must make application for such credit before the

A. 6318--C 3

1 effective date of retirement. {Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions
2 of this subdivision, an individual who retired on or after December
3 twenty-first, nineteen hundred ninety-eight and before the effective
4 date of this section may make application for credit pursuant to this
5 section within one year following the effective date of this section, in
6 which event, the cost to the retiree would be based on the twelve month
7 period immediately preceding retirement.}
8 {7} 6. All costs for service credited to a member pursuant to this
9 section, other than the member costs set forth in subdivision {three}
10 TWO of this section, shall be paid by the state and all employers which
11 participate in the retirement system in which such member is granted
12 credit.
13 {8} 7. A member who has purchased military service credit pursuant to
14 section two hundred forty-four-a of the military law shall be entitled
15 to a refund of the difference between the amount paid by the member for
16 such purchase and the amount that would be payable if service had been
17 purchased pursuant to this section.
18 {9} 8. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in the event of
19 death prior to retirement, amounts paid by the member for the purchase
20 of military service credit pursuant to this section shall be refunded,
21 with interest, to the extent the military service purchased with such
22 amounts does not produce a greater death benefit than would have been
23 payable had the member not purchased such credit.
24 Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in the event of retire-
25 ment, amounts paid by the member for the purchase of military service
26 credit pursuant to this section shall be refunded, with interest, to the
27 extent the military service purchased with such amounts does not produce
28 a greater retirement allowance than would have been payable had the
29 member not purchased such credit.
30 S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.
FISCAL NOTE.--Pursuant to Legislative Law, Section 50:
This bill would allow up to three (3) years of service credit for
military duty by removing all existing requirements that such military
service be performed during certain war periods, during certain hostil-
ities while in the theater of operations or upon the receipt of an
expeditionary medal. However, the total service credit granted for
active and peacetime military service shall not exceed three (3) years.
The member would be required to make a payment of three percent of
current compensation per year of additional service credit granted by
this bill. Members must have at least five (5) years of credit service
(not including military service).
Insofar as this bill affects the New York State and Local Employees`
Retirement System and the New York State and Local Police and Fire
Retirement System, if this bill were enacted there would be an estimated
first year cost of approximately $2.5 million to the State of New York,
$3 million to participating employers in the New York State and Local
Employees` Retirement System and $1.5 million to the participating
employers in the New York State and Local Police and Fire Retirement
In addition to the above costs, there would be additional costs for
future members of the Retirement System`s who have such military
This estimate, dated March 11, 2008 and intended for use only during
the 2008 Legislative Session, is Fiscal Note No. 2008-19, prepared by
the Actuary for the New York State and Local Employees` Retirement

A. 6318--C 4

System and the New York State and Local Police and Fire Retirement
certain New York City Retirement Systems ("NYCRS"), this proposed legis-
lation would amend New York State Retirement and Social Security Law
("RSSL") Section 1000 to provide certain members of the New York City
Employees` Retirement System ("NYCERS"), the New York City Teachers`
Retirement System ("NYCTRS"), the New York City Board of Education
Retirement System ("BERS"), the New York City Police Pension Fund
("POLICE") and the New York City Fire Pension Fund ("FIRE") the opportu-
nity to obtain additional retirement service credits for certain Mili-
tary Service.
This proposed legislation would permit any NYCRS member, prior to the
effective date of retirement, to make application for these additional
service credits.
To obtain such Military Service credits, members would be required to
pay to the appropriate NYCRS, for each year of Military Service
purchased, a sum equal to 3% of the annual rate of salary at date of
MEMBERS IMPACTED: Insofar as this proposed legislation relates to the
NYCRS, the number of members who could potentially benefit from this
proposed legislation cannot be readily determined.
IMPACT ON BENEFITS: With respect to the NYCRS, a member who served in
the U.S. military and received an honorable discharge would be permit-
ted, after completing five years of credited service (exclusive of the
service credit that could be purchased under this proposed legislation),
to purchase a maximum of three years of Military Service (inclusive of
any prior purchases of Military Service credit).
In order to purchase the Military Service credits provided in this
proposed legislation, a member must have been honorably discharged
following a period of "military duty" as defined in New York State Mili-
tary Law Section 243.
If a member`s Military Service meets these conditions, then that
member would be permitted to purchase a maximum of three years of Mili-
tary Service (inclusive of any previously-received Military Service
Credit) attributable to any period of the member`s military career.
For purposes of the respective NYCRS, each year of Military Service
credit purchased would apply toward providing the member with a year of
benefit accrual under the particular benefit formula covering the
In certain circumstances, the member also may be entitled to utilize
such Military Service as qualifying service for benefit eligibility
For purposes of the Fiscal Note, it has been assumed that members who
purchase Military Service in accordance with this proposed legislation
would generally be entitled to count such service for benefit accrual
purposes and for the purpose of qualifying for benefits.
FINANCIAL IMPACT - OVERVIEW: With respect to an individual member, the
additional cost of this proposed legislation would depend on the length
of all New York city service, age, salary history and Plan in which the
member participates, as well as the number of years of service credit
With respect to employers participating in the NYCRS, the ultimate
employer cost of this proposed legislation would be determined by the
increase in benefits to be paid, the impact of certain benefits commenc-

A. 6318--C 5

ing earlier, a shorter working lifetime, and the reduction in certain
future member contributions.
and based on the census data and assumptions herein, the enactment of
this proposed legislation would increase the APV of benefits by approxi-
mately $148.1 million as of June 30, 2006.
In addition, with respect to the NYCRS, the APV of future member
contributions (primarily attributable to the payments by members of 3%
of salary per year of Military Service purchased) would increase by
approximately $25.8 million when measured as of June 30, 2006.
Consequently, with respect to the NYCRS, the APV of net future employ-
er contributions would increase by approximately $122.3 million as of
June 30, 2006.
based on the Actuary`s actuarial assumptions and methods in effect as of
June 30, 2006, the enactment of this proposed legislation would increase
annual employer costs by approximately $18.4 million per year.
based on the Actuary`s actuarial assumptions in effect as of June 30,
2006, the enactment of this proposed legislation would ultimately
increase employer contributions by approximately the estimated addi-
tional annual employer costs.
FINANCIAL IMPACT - SUMMARY: The following table summarizes the esti-
mated financial impact of this proposed legislation on the NYCRS.
Estimated Financial Impact to Allow Members of the NYCRS To Purchase
up to Three Years of Military Service Credit*
($ Millions)
Additional First Year
APV of Future Additional
Retirement Additional Employer Employer
System APVB Contributions** Costs***

NYCERS $ 48.6 $ 39.8 $ 6.2
NYCTRS 20.0 15.9 1.9
BERS 5.0 4.1 0.6
POLICE 60.6 50.8 8.1
FIRE 13.9 11.7 1.6
TOTAL $148.1 $122.3 $18.4
* Based on the Actuary`s actuarial assumptions and methods in effect
as of June 30, 2006, exclusive of One-Year Lag methodology.
** Equals change in APVB minus increase in APV of future member contrib-
*** Estimated Additional Employer Costs are determined without regard to
the funded status of the Retirement Systems and represent the best esti-
mates of the ultimate annual financial burden of the proposed legis-
lation. Estimated Additional Employer Contributions would ultimately
approximate Estimated Additional Employer Costs.
ADDITIONAL EMPLOYER COSTS - GENERAL: In general, the real cost of the
enactment of this proposed legislation would be the additional benefits

A. 6318--C 6

2008 AND LATER: If this proposed legislation were enacted during the
2008 Legislative Session prior to June 30, 2008, then increased employer
costs would be determined for Fiscal Year 2008.
OTHER COSTS: Not measured in this Fiscal Note is the impact of this
proposed legislation on the Manhattan and Bronx surface Transit Operat-
ing Authority ("MaBSTOA") or on State or Local employers with respect to
their participation in the New York state and Local Retirement Systems
("NYSLRS") or the New York State Teachers` Retirement System ("NYSTRS").
Also, this Fiscal Note does not include analyses of the impact of this
proposed legislation on the expected increases in administrative costs
or costs for Other Post-Employment Benefits ("OPEB").
CENSUS DATA: The census data used for estimates of APV of benefits and
employer contributions presented herein are the active members included
in the June 30, 2006 (Lag) actuarial valuations of NYCERS, NYCTRS, BERS,
ACTUARIAL ASSUMPTIONS AND METHODS: Additional APV of benefits, member
contributions and employer contributions have been estimated as of June
30, 2006 using various approximating techniques and assumptions by the
Actuary, including, but not limited to:
* A certain percentage of Veterans being honorably discharged.
* A certain percentage of honorably discharged Veterans being disa-
* Different percentages of members by NYCRS would have prior Military
* Each eligible member would purchase an average of 2.5 years of the
Military Service.
Employer costs have been estimated assuming the additional APV of
benefits and reductions in APV of member contributions would be financed
through future normal contributions.
FISCAL NOTE IDENTIFICATION: This estimate is intended for use only
during the 2008 Legislative Session. It is Fiscal Note 2008-04, dated
February 28, 2008, prepared by the Chief Actuary for the New York City
Employees` Retirement System, the New York City Teachers` Retirement
System, the New York City Board of Education Retirement System, the New
York City Police Pension Fund and the New York City Fire Pension Fund.
FISCAL NOTE.--This bill would amend Article 20 of the Retirement and
Social Security Law to allow active members of public retirement systems
of New York State to claim service credit for up to three years of mili-
tary service, regardless of when it was performed. Currently active
members can receive service credit for military service performed during
specified periods of war. A member must have at least five years of
credited service to be eligible and make application for such credit
before the effective date of retirement. To obtain such credit, a member
must deposit in the pension accumulation fund three percent of his or
her current annual full-time rate of compensation per year of military
service claimed.
The annual cost to the employers of members of the New York State
Teachers` Retirement System for this benefit is estimated to be $5.9
million or .04% of payroll if this bill is enacted.
The source of this estimate is Revised Fiscal Note 2008-14 dated April
21, 2008 prepared by the Actuary of the New York State Teachers` Retire-
ment System and is intended for use only during the 2008 Legislative