Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Matteo Sciabordi, Omar Benson Miller, Michael Ealy, Derek Luke and Laz Alonso in a scene from Miracle at St. Anna

Richard Owen in Rome

It is a story that underpins Italy’s postwar democracy: the honour lost under Benito Mussolini was regained through the struggle of the partisans and their help for the Allies. Now the partisans are fighting for their reputation after a new film by the director Spike Lee which, they say, insults the memory of the Italian Resistance during the Second World War.

Miracle at St Anna retells the story of the massacre of 560 civilians – including women and children – in August 1944 by SS troops as they retreated northwards in the face of the Allied advance.

The film, which highlights the role of African-American soldiers in the war, suggests that antiFascist partisans indirectly caused the atrocity by taking refuge in the village and then abandoning the residents to their fate.

It even shows a partisan named Rodolfo collaborating with the Nazis. This runs directly counter to the accepted Italian version of events, which is that the slaughter was not a reprisal but an unprovoked act of brutality and that the hunt for partisans was a pretext.
Related Links

* Villagers recall terror of SS massacre

* Nazis too old to be jailed for massacre

* Former Nazi officers on trial over Italian massacre

Partisan organisations are to stage protests today at the Italian film premiere, which will take place at Viareggio, on the Tuscan coast, close to the village of Sant’ Anna di Stazzema, the site of the massacre. The film is due for release on Friday.

At a press screening in Rome, James McBride – the black American author who wrote the novel on which Mr Lee’s film was based – said: “I am very sorry if I have offended the partisans. I have enormous respect for them. As a black American, I understand what it’s like for someone to tell your history, and they are not you.

“But unfortunately, the history of World War Two here in Italy is ours as well, and this was the best I could do . . . it is, after all, a work of fiction.”

Mr Lee, unrepentant, said: “I am not apologising.” He told Italians there was “a lot about your history you have yet to come to grips with. This film is our interpretation, and I stand behind it.”

He added that the film, which follows the fate of four black GIs, was intended “to restore the voice of black soldiers who fought in the war”. He said that “not all Italians” had admired the partisans, many of whom fled to the mountains and left civilians to face the Nazis. “I have not invented anything,” he declared.

Giovanni Cipollini, the deputy head of Anpi, the partisans’ association, said the film was a “false reconstruction” and a “travesty of history”. Didala Gherarducci, the secretary of Anpi at Viareggio, said that her husband died in the massacre and she had written to Mr Lee to tell him that his “false” version of events “weighs on my heart like a stone”.

The film has already been released in the US to a mixed reception; in its first week it took only $3.5 million (£2 million) at the box office. Mr Lee said he made it to counteract war films such as Clint Eastwood’sLetters From Iwo JimaandFlags of Our Fathers, in which black US troops were not prominent.

Veterans Affairs reclassifies ALS as service-related disability

Department to cover Lou Gehrig’s disease


No one can explain it, but the numbers are clear: Veterans are developing the movement-robbing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis disease at twice the rate as those who never served.

Based on that research, the Department of Veterans Affairs has decided to award full medical and disability benefits to vets suffering from the illness, regardless of where or when they served. The decision reclassifies ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, as a service-related disability.

The decision brings relief to Bonita Springs resident Greg Ford, an Army veteran, who was diagnosed with ALS 12 years ago when he was 37. He said he has since burned through his savings, his 401(k) plan and the proceeds from the sale of a home in St. Louis. He and a caregiver, Kathy Remmenga, live in a Bonita condominium owned by Ford’s father and stepmother.

“More often than not, this disease financially bankrupts families. It’s a godsend that this benefit is available to us now,” Ford said.

He receives some disability pay through Social Security as well as private long-term disability insurance, though he said it’s not enough to keep up with Remmenga’s salary, medical equipment, home modifications and the rising cost of living. Ford doesn’t yet know how much money he’ll receive from the VA; the agency will evaluate him and determine his compensation.

In the late stages of the disease, the cost of medical equipment, round-the-clock care and other needs can run as high as $200,000 a year.

“ALS is a disease that progresses rapidly, once it is diagnosed,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. James Peake said in a statement. “There simply isn’t time to develop the evidence needed to support compensation claims before many veterans become seriously ill. My decision will make those claims much easier to process, and for them and their families to receive the compensation they have earned through their service to our nation.”

The first link between military service and ALS emerged in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. As researchers examined Gulf War Syndrome, a collection of conditions such as muscle weakness, slurred speech and memory loss, they discovered that Gulf veterans were being diagnosed with ALS at twice the rate of the normal population - and at ages younger than the average onset of 55.

Then, a 2005 Harvard University study looked at veterans who had served prior to the Gulf War and found higher rates of ALS among them as well. An Institute of Medicine report in 2006 evaluated that and other studies, confirmed the link, and prompted last week’s VA decision.

Researchers do not yet know why ALS occurs more often in veterans, but they are exploring theories such as trauma, exposure to toxins, intense physical activity and vaccinations.

ALS attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal column. As the neurons deteriorate, patients lose their ability to move, talk - and in the end, breathe. The average lifespan after diagnosis is two to five years. Ford’s 12-year survival is exceedingly rare.

Even among veterans, ALS is not a common disease. The ALS association estimates the disease strikes two out of 100,000 people. An estimated 5,600 people in the United States are diagnosed with the disease each year.

Ford, 50, was in the Army for eight years as a Russian linguist. His service occurred during the Cold War years after Vietnam and before the Gulf War. No one in his family has had ALS. He wonders whether the illness is related to multiple immunizations in preparation for overseas deployment, but he knows that theory is yet unproven.

Ford had inquired about VA help several years ago and said the agency had been willing to provide medical care. But he declined because his private insurance at the time offered greater benefits and he wanted to stay involved in clinical trials run by academic medical centers. Now, Ford said, the ALS status change will offer veterans a greater range of VA care.

“The decision is a good one, the right one, an honorable one,” Ford said.

The VA has been criticized recently for the level of veterans’ care, most notably in a Washington Post expose about conditions at the Defense Department’s Walter Reed Army Medical Center and questions over its treatment of veterans with post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.
New York National Guard Family Programs Message

Harlem Globetrotter Game
Wednesday, October 8th
10:00 AM
Harlem Armory
40 West 143rd Street

Sponsored by the Police Athletic League.

First to respond, first to receive tickets. Please respond to me ASAP. There may be some fun participation for military kids on the court during the game. Flyer is attached.



Amy J. Maniscalco
New York National Guard Family Programs
Military Family Assistance Center Specialist
Staten Island, Brooklyn and Long Island

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Family Told Obama NOT To Wear Soldier Son's Bracelet... Where is Media?

Barack Obama played the "me too" game during the Friday debates on September 26 after Senator John McCain mentioned that he was wearing a bracelet with the name of Cpl. Matthew Stanley, a resident of New Hampshire and a soldier that lost his life in Iraq in 2006. Obama said that he too had a bracelet. After fumbling and straining to remember the name, he revealed that his had the name of Sergeant Ryan David Jopek of Merrill, Wisconsin.

Shockingly, however, Madison resident Brian Jopek, the father of Ryan Jopek, the young soldier who tragically lost his life to a roadside bomb in 2006, recently said on a Wisconsin Public Radio show that his family had asked Barack Obama to stop wearing the bracelet with his son's name on it. Yet Obama continues to do so despite the wishes of the family.

Radio host Glenn Moberg of the show "Route 51" asked Mr. Jopek, a man who believes in the efforts in Iraq and is not in favor of Obama's positions on the war, what he and his ex-wife think of Obama continually using their son's name on the campaign trail.

Jopek began by saying that his ex-wife was taken aback, even upset, that Obama has made the death of her son a campaign issue. Jopek says his wife gave Obama the bracelet because "she just wanted Mr. Obama to know Ryan's name." Jopek went on to say that "she wasn't looking to turn it into a big media event" and "just wanted it to be something between Barack Obama and herself." Apparently, they were all shocked it became such a big deal.

But, he also said that his ex-wife has refused further interviews on the matter and that she wanted Obama to stop wearing the reminder of her son's sacrifice that he keeps turning into a campaign soundbyte. This begins at about 10 minutes into the radio program.

To download radio show or to read the transcripts: Click Here

This from a creative thinker, T. J. Birkenmeier. Whoever T. J. Birkenmeier is, I sincerely salute him.


I'm against the $85,000,000, 000.00 bailout of AIG.

Instead, I'm in favor of giving $85,000,000, 000 to America in a We Deserve It Dividend.

To make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide U.S. Citizens 18+.

Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up..

So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billon that equals $425,000.00.

My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a We Deserve It Dividend.

Of course, it would NOT be tax free.

So let's assume a tax rate of 30%. Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes. That sends $25,500,000, 000 right back to Uncle SamBut it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket.

A husband and wife has $595,000.00. What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?

Pay off your mortgage - housing crisis solved.

Repay college loans - what a great boost to new grads

Put away money for college - it'll be there

Save in a bank - create money to loan to entrepreneurs.

Buy a new car - create jobs

Invest in the market - capital drives growth

Pay for your parent's medical insurance - health care improves

Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean - or else

Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back. And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.

If we're going to re-distribute wealth let's really do it...instead of trickling out a puny $1000.00 ( "vote buy" ) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President. If we're going to do an $85 billion bailout, let's bail out every adult U S Citizen 18+!

As for AIG - liquidate it.

Sell off its parts. Let American General go back to being American General. Sell off the real estate.

Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.

Here's my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn't.

Sure it's a crazy idea that can "never work." But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party! How do you spell Economic Boom?

I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion

We Deserve It Dividend among the people, more than the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC. And remember, The Birk plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

Ahhh..I feel so much better getting that off my chest.

T. J. Birkenmeier, A Creative Guy & Citizen of the Republic

PS: Feel free to pass this along to your pals as it's either good for a laugh or a tear or a very sobering thought on how to best use $85 Billion!!

British Cold War Veterans Organize and Call for Cold War Veterans to be Recognized

Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to UK politicians for their service during the cold war but our troops get nothing.

The call for a Cold War Medal has now reached global proportions with former service men and women in countries across the world calling for official recognition through the issue of a medal.

Cold War Medals For Our Leaders

Mikhail Gorbachev USSR Liberty Medal from the U.S
For his role in ending the Cold War, Gorbachev took a tremendous risk in bringing what we knew as the Soviet Union to the point where it is today. It was a dangerous time and it's hard for a lot of people today to remember what those times were like, how threatening it all was.

Lord Robertson UK Presidential Medal of Freedom
For his pursuit of the defence of freedom during the period of the cold war and in the establishing of the Russian-NATO Council.

Lady Thatcher UK Presidential Medal of Freedom
For her resolute defence of the unity of the west and overcoming post war division in Europe – in other words the ‘Cold War’

Ronald Reagan USA Honorary Knighthood
For his leadership during the cold war and services to the UK.

Nicolae Ceaucescu Romania Honorary Knighthood
The former Romanian dictator was given an honorary Knighthood by the British government for standing up to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Nobody looked too deeply at his domestic record, or cared, it seems.

Vaclav Havel Czech US Medal of Freedom
Czech President Vaclav Havel received the US Medal of Freedom for his stance on democracy in his homeland during the Cold War.

Helmut Kohl West Germany US Medal of Freedom
West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl received the US Medal of Freedom as the leader of a democratic Germany during the Cold War in which he visited the Soviet Union to seek assurances from Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that would eventually enable German reunification.

Tony Blair UK Presidential Medal of Freedom (Pending)
former Prime Minister Tony Blair is named to be a recipient of the Medal as well.

It has also been widely reported that the end of the Cold War saw a flurry of awards from the UK and US Governments to one another, close ideological friends seemed to be the criteria, with many top officials and civil servants being the beneficiaries (No surprises there then).

Cold War Veterans around the world know all too well how threatening it all was. They were the ones ready and willing to do the fighting (without recognition of any kind), not the ones sat securely in protected bunkers!

A Poignant Reminder From The Era

I SERVED as a Cold War warrior from 1972-84, including six years in Germany, where the invasion of West Berlin was taken as a real threat. When the Russians invaded Afghanistan, everything on wheels, tracks and jet powered was mobilised.

For nine months of the year we perfected our craft in the art of radio communications; all traffic was done in real time in all weathers under all conditions, and if you haven’t experienced a German winter at 2am on the Deiester Ridge you do not know what cold is.

All elements of the British Army of the Rhine were ready and willing to repel the Russian bear. When not on exercise we were putting out forest fires and patrolling the inner German border, guarding atomic rocket and warhead sites.

Living in field conditions, eating field rations, burdened with weapons and back packs month after month took its toll, but we did it with a will and solid determination.

Now I’m a civilian I have nothing to show that I served my country. That is why I will stand on the sidelines and applaud the be-medalled warriors who were able to prove themselves under fire – something I never had a chance to do.

The veterans’ badge I wear on my lapel is no substitute for a more tangible symbol of time served as a soldier, defending what’s left of Great Britain. A medal would suffice. –

Tony Levy, Served 1972-84

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Let Ohio Troops and Vets Vote!


IT IS UNTHINKABLE that anyone from any political party would try to block our servicemembers and wounded veterans from voting, but a new lawsuit in Ohio is threatening to do just that.

Ohioans are allowed by law to register to vote and cast an absentee ballot on the same day as long as they do so before the Oct. 6th registration deadline, but a lawsuit filed in the Ohio State Supreme Court is trying to upend that law. If the groups bringing the suit have their way, it would potentially void thousands of ballots already cast by hospitalized veterans and deployed servicemembers, and make voting extraordinarily difficult for those who haven't yet.

This isn't about protecting one side or the other's chances in the election - it's about protecting the rights of those who fight to protect ours. We have asked limitless courage, honor and sacrifice from our troops, and they have given us all of it. We owe it to them to not make them jump through hoops to practice their basic rights as citizens.

Join Veterans for America in stopping this threat to our democracy. Please sign our petition asking the court to honor our troops and veterans, and throw out this ridiculous lawsuit.


Bobby Muller, Veterans for America


Friday, September 26, 2008

"I looked into Putin's eyes and saw three letters a K a G and a B."

John McCain

American Cold War Veterans Forum

We are The American Cold War Veterans. A Veterans Organization As a group we are dedicated to all of our Brother and Sister Veterans, with special dedication to those who served during the Cold War era September 1945 to December 1991.

Could The Economic Crises effect Veteran Benefits?

VA under fire over delays in new GI Bill

By Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Friday, September 26, 2008

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers angrily criticized Veterans Affairs officials Wednesday for possible delays in implementing the new GI Bill benefits by the August 2009 deadline, calling for more urgency and ingenuity by department leaders.

Keith Pedigo, assistant deputy undersecretary for veterans benefits administration, told members of the House that the VA does not have the technical expertise or manpower to handle the transition from the old education benefits system to a larger, more complex formula.

As a result, the department expects to contract out the work. But he said the 11-month window left to get that work done will create challenges for the program.

House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner, D-Calif., charged that officials aren’t working hard enough to find solutions.

"I could find a geek to do this stuff for $1 million," he said.

"We’ve got kids all over the country that could do this work. Maybe it’s a little more complicated than your normal computer work … but it’s not that conceptually difficult."

The new GI Bill benefits, passed by Congress in June, mandate a $1,000 monthly housing stipend and four years of tuition at any state university for all veterans who served at least three years on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001.

Under the old system, veterans received a flat rate for their education based on their contributions into the system. Veterans Affairs officials said the new system will be much more complicated, calculating different rates for every recipient based on how long they served, what school they attend and where they live.

"The difference between the concept and getting it so payments arrive on time is huge," said Stephen Warren, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Department’s information and technology office.

"It’s extremely complicated."

Representatives on the committee raised concerns about contracting out the work to a private company, asking what safeguards and contingency plans are in place if the new system is not ready in time.

Meanwhile, Defense Department officials said they’re confident the computer systems designed to share personnel records with Veterans Affairs will be ready by March of next year.

"Right now it’s just a question of format. We don’t know how the contractor or the VA is going to want the data," said Curtis Gilroy, director of accession policy for the DOD personnel office.

"Once that is determined, it will not be difficult."

Veterans groups told lawmakers they want assurances that if a contractor takes over the check-issuing responsibilities, Veterans Affairs officials will still be the final arbiters for questions surrounding benefits.

But most importantly, they want the system to be ready by the fall semester next year.

Patrick Campbell, chief legislative counsel for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said he worries that thousands of veterans could enroll for classes next summer only to discover a few months later their government-promised reimbursement isn’t coming.

"I don’t care how they do it," he said. "Veterans must get these benefits on time."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Veterans Plea to Senate Armed Services Committee

I was recently contacted by Chris Williams he served in the 70th Ord Co.which was part of the same Artillery Group I was in Turkey back in 1990-91. We worked with DU there. He is having some health problems as have I. He sent me this letter he sent to SASC. If there is anyone who can help or has resources you might have or advice for him in filing his VA claim.contact me and I will forward it to him.

Dear Sir,

I regret to inform you that my hands shake as I write this letter.




Let's see…..OK my pain killers are still working. I just don't understand.


Symptoms could be construed as the same.


Somehow take care of the Soldier or Take care of the Soldier and his family?


I don't recall a unexpected consequence clause in my contract!

Sir, those soldiers who served still bleed for our Country. Just as the new Soldiers bleed for this Country today. My packet left the DAV for the VA on Sept. 16, 2008. You tell me which one it is because shuffling of doctors and hundreds of doctors visits have proved nothing.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Week of September 22, 2008

Hundreds of thousands of veterans would have widespread and direct access to voter registration services through Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offices under a landmark bill that was passed by the House of Representatives yesterday, the Veterans Voting Support Act (H.R. 6625), introduced by Rep. Robert Brady. A companion bill sponsored by Senators Diane Feinstein and John Kerry (S. 3308) may be acted on by the Senate in coming days. The House and Senate bills would create new opportunities for the nation's 25 million veterans to register to vote at facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

How do you feel about this action? Let your public officials know how you feel!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

VA Announces $36 Million in Grants for Homeless Programs

WASHINGTON (Sept. 23, 2008) - Homeless veterans in 35 states, the
District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will get more assistance, thanks to
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) grants providing $36.7 million to
community groups to create 1,526 beds for homeless veterans this year.

"These grants provide a helping hand to veterans who have served our
nation in uniform," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B.
Peake. "Our partnerships with community-based organizations provide
safe, temporary housing while these veterans return to productive

VA has identified public and community non-profit groups eligible to
receive payments for housing and supportive services to homeless
veterans, including 49 grants for vans that will transport homeless
veterans to health care and training programs.

The grants are part of VA's continuing efforts to reduce homelessness
among veterans. VA has the largest integrated network of homeless
assistance programs in the country. In many cities and rural areas, VA
social workers and other clinicians working with community and
faith-based partners conduct extensive outreach programs, clinical
assessments, medical treatments, alcohol and drug abuse counseling and
employment assistance.

VA's Grant and Per Diem program helped reduce the number of veterans who
are homeless on a typical night last year by 21 percent to about 154,000
veterans. VA also provides health care to about 100,000 homeless
veterans, compensation and assistance in obtaining foreclosed homes and
excess federal property, including clothes, footwear, blankets and other

More information about VA's homeless programs is available on the
Internet at http://www.va.gov/homeless.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gorbachev Reflects On What Went Wrong

Philadelphia Inquirer
September 21, 2008
He says the West kicked Russia when it was down.
By Trudy Rubin

On Thursday, Mikhail Gorbachev received the prestigious Liberty Medal at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center. The former Soviet president was praised for advancing the cause of liberty by introducing reforms that led to the peaceful breakup of the Soviet Union.

The same day, in a speech on U.S.-Russia relations in Washington, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denounced Moscow's invasion of Georgia and warned that Russia had reverted to "paranoid, aggressive" behavior.

The disconnect between those two events could not have been more dramatic. Yet the Philadelphia ceremony was a reminder, as U.S.-Russian relations grow colder, of how closely our two nations cooperated under Gorbachev and George H.W. Bush.
Bush the elder was on stage with Gorbachev, and the emotional bond between the two was clear. "President Bush was my best partner . . . and made it possible to put an end to the Cold War," Gorbachev said. "We brought change to the point of no return where the clock could not be turned back."
So what went wrong?

I asked Gorbachev this question in an interview in Philadelphia. (For the record, Gorbachev has blamed the Georgians for provoking the Russian invasion by sending troops into the separatist enclave of South Ossetia. The story is much more complex: The Russians had troops poised on the Georgian border clearly looking for an excuse to cross it. The Georgians did, however, choose to march into a trap.)
"Does the current Russian government want to be part of the West, or not?" I also asked. Like most Russians, Gorbachev views the current tensions through a totally different prism than do most people here.

"Russia has been a European country always and wants to remain a European country," he insisted. "There is no longer an ideological division. Russia has no intention of fighting anyone."

He recalled the amazing days when he, as Soviet leader, gave the green light for Eastern Europe to choose its own future and Germany to reunite. Then, he said, there seemed a chance of getting rid of NATO as well as the communist Warsaw Pact. He repeated his plea, made since the 1990s, for a common security organization for all Europe.

Instead, he said, we see a "new struggle for spheres of influence" between NATO and Russia. He recalled the words of the first secretary general of NATO in the late 1940s, about the purpose of the transatlantic organization: "To Keep America in, keep Germany down and keep Russia out."

Of course, neither "Old Europe" nor, more so, the "New Europe" of ex-communist nations trusts Russian intentions sufficiently to want to dissolve NATO or to break security links with Washington. That mistrust has intensified because of the extensive Russian invasion of Georgia, even among Europeans who believe Georgia brought its troubles on itself.

But Gorbachev reflects an understandable Russian anger that the West betrayed promises it made to him in the early 1990s. "America took advantage of the breakup of the Soviet Union," he said with emotion, "and [it] rejected decisions taken and signed by the United States.

"Secretary [of State James] Baker said that NATO would not move to the East. Where is NATO today?" He referred to NATO's decision to invite former East European countries into its ranks and the pending decision about whether to admit Georgia and Ukraine.

There was bitterness in Gorbachev's voice as he recalled Western disrespect during the 1990s, when Russia was in a state of collapse. "We Russians didn't like it," he said. "I didn't hear words of sympathy from our Western partners. They came to applaud."

This sense of grievance clearly colors Russia's political decisions and thinking. Gorbachev says the Western press was "acting on instructions" because it did not report that the tragedy in Georgia was all the fault of Georgia's government.
It's unclear whether Russian behavior today would be different if the West had paid it more respect since 1990. Would former President Vladimir V. Putin have chosen not to reassert authoritarian rule and control of the press? Would he not have made threats against neighboring countries?

And would Putin have refrained from trying to monopolize control of pipelines carrying energy from Central Asia to Europe? Gorbachev described the ongoing pipeline battle in the Caucasus thus: "The name of the game is competition." But Russia's idea of competition seems to be to block the building of pipelines it cannot control - by any means.

And yet, Gorbachev raises valid questions about the best way to move forward with Russia. Escalation of public rhetoric boxes each side into a corner from which it's hard to escape.

While slamming Rice's remarks as "rash and irresponsible," Gorbachev pointed to the "somewhat different statements" of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in London, also on Thursday. Gates called for a united NATO strategy that would reassure Russia's neighbors, without provoking more hostilities. Russian leaders may now recognize they overreached in Georgia, frightening off foreign investors and alienating the European public. Their rhetoric is softening.

"We need to do a lot of work," Gorbachev says. His embrace of George H.W. Bush is a reminder of the cooperation that was once possible. Perhaps - if the West sets firm red lines but is judicious about NATO expansion - such cooperation may be possible again.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

JAFFREY -- Because burglars cut the telephone lines to the Jaffrey Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5613 before breaking in on Monday, the security alarm monitoring center never received an alert.

Jaffrey Police Officer Chris Follomon said Tuesday that the break-in early Monday morning set off the alarm at the VFW on Hathorn Road, but ADT Security never received the alert because the system relies on the phone line, which had been severed.

Referring to the alarm system at the VFW, Follomon said, "It said trouble on the panel."

The time of the burglary is estimated to be at about 2:08 a.m. based on the alarm panel indicator, according to police reports.

VFW Manager Lonn Elliot said a cleaning person discovered the break-in later that morning and, according to police reports, Elliot reported the incident to police at 7:26 a.m.

"As far as I'm concerned, [ADT] should receive some kind of alert that the phone line's been cut," Elliot said.

He said he notified ADT of the burglary and an ADT representative suggested the VFW get a radio system back up that could send an alert through a satellite, instead of a phone line.

An ADT representative did not return messages left on Tuesday by press time yesterday.

Elliot said the person who cut the phone line knew what he or she was doing because only the phone line was cut, and no other cables.

"They actually climbed the telephone pole about 25 feet and cut it just as it comes into the conduit," he said.

The conduit, he said, runs from the pole in to the ground and then in to the building.

The burglars didn't get much, Elliot said, except for a few coins from a video game machine and 56 packs of cigarettes, which the VFW sells for $4.50 a pack.

"They tried to get into the safe, but they didn't get in," he said. "They had access to all the liquor too and they didn't take any of it."

The burglars, he said, did between $1,000 and $1,500 in damages to the building in gaining entry and tampering with the safe. "They broke the dial off the safe and broke the manual turn dial," he said.

The burglars used a crowbar or some other prying apparatus to open several doors. They opened other doors by breaking the door handles, he said.

The VFW, a lounge for veterans who are members and their relatives, remained open following the break-in, Elliot said.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Kansas City Star
At first glance, the military reunion this week in Kansas City looked a lot like many others.

On Friday, veterans crowded the halls of the Sheraton Kansas City Sports Complex Hotel, filling a hospitality room and boarding a tour bus to the National World War I Museum at the Liberty Memorial.

One detail, however, separated this reunion from others.

That was evident with the sign-up sheet in the hotel hallway, requesting that former residents of different “camps” sign up to meet later.

Camps — as in prison camps.

The 61st national convention of the American Ex-Prisoners of War will continue through Sunday. Many of the approximately 140 veterans attending served during World War II. Among them were former German POW camp residents, as well as survivors of the Bataan Death March — the 1942 march of thousands of American and Filipino prisoners by the Japanese.

Still others in attendance were POWs during the Korean or Vietnam wars.

What all of them have plenty of — war stories — was not what they came to Kansas City to hear, said Paul Dillon of Maryland Heights, Mo.

“These guys will not let you call them heroes,” said Dillon, who attended with his father, Red Dillon, a ball-turret gunner on a B-17 bomber that was shot down over Europe during World War II. “These are ordinary people who showed the greatest valor by simply enduring under extraordinary circumstances.”

Some convention members came forth with combat details, when asked.

“I can still see it today,” Red Dillon said, detailing how he was shot down and watched airmen try to bail out of other planes.

“This one guy bailed out. His chute didn’t open. I saw him hit the ground.”

Dillon and the others came mostly for camaraderie and fellowship, said Ed Slater of Independence, a Korean War POW. Slater is a member of the organization’s Heart of America chapter, which gathers every Tuesday at the Kansas City Veterans Hospital.

The convention coincided with National POW/MIA Recognition Day on Friday. Attendees observed the occasion with a ceremony Thursday.

The Kansas City convention is occurring as a prominent former POW, Sen. John McCain, is running for president. Yet the profile of the American Ex-Prisoners of War or its members is likely no higher because of McCain, said John Clark of Columbia, an Air Force veteran who in 1972 shared space with McCain in the “Hanoi Hilton” POW camp in North Vietnam.

“These guys’ stories are compelling on their own merits,” he said.

Paul Dillon added: “I wish everybody could meet these guys. Being here is like walking into a history book. What these guys did is the stuff other people make movies about.”

To reach Brian Burnes, call 816-234-7804 or send e-mail to bburnes@kcstar.com.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

One final salute for WWII veteran

By Garret Mathews
Originally published 08:27 p.m., September 18, 2008
Updated 08:28 p.m., September 18, 2008

On Sept. 7, 91-year-old Harold Gourley of Newburgh put on his dog tags and cap he saved from his service in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II.

Elsie Gourley

Elsie Gourley

It would be the last time.

His wife, Elsie, wheeled him onto their front porch.

"Some men from the VFW are in the front yard. They want to present your service medals," she whispered.

The effects of a stroke suffered two years ago so weakened Harold Gourley that he weighed less than 100 pounds. He could no longer get out of bed without help.

"But Harold snapped off the smartest salute you've ever seen. You could tell the ceremony meant a lot to him, and he appreciated it so much," recalled Elsie Gourley, his wife of 61 years. "Everybody had tears in their eyes."

Harold Gourley died Monday.

"Dad always said that he just did his job during the war," said his daughter, Karen Courter, who lives in San Antonio. "He didn't expect any medals, but it was kind of nice they came."

Mae Rogers, Harold Gourley's 89-year-old sister, worked 26 years for Veterans Affairs.

"About a year ago, I started asking around with folks I knew about the medals because I knew how much he deserved them," said Rogers, who lives in Battle Creek, Mich. "I was told to work through Sen. Richard Lugar's office, and they came through with awards for his European service and also the battle."

On Tuesday, Elsie Gourley talked about the man she met at a Fourth of July shindig in Boonville, Ind., and married six months later.

"He was energetic and mechanical. Not more than 140 pounds. Twenty-nine inch waist. Always working. Always fixing something. I remember him rebuilding a wrecked 1956 Chevy pickup from the frame to the engine and driving it for years."

She said Harold Gourley was a vegetarian because he couldn't stand the taste of meat.

"In the war, he was always trading the food rations they gave him for desserts. Harold loved his pies and cakes."

Courter, 54, says her father "may have been the world's biggest homebody. The only vacation we ever took was to the Smoky Mountains. One night in a motel, and we were headed home. Dad always had to sleep in his own bed. After the war, he said he wasn't going anyplace, and he pretty much meant it."

Harold Gourley was born in rural Spencer County, Ind., and got to only eighth grade. His father ran a sawmill, and the seven children quickly were put to work.

"If you were lazy, he'd cross you off his list," Courter said.

"You talk about punctual. Everything was on a schedule," Elsie Gourley said. "Up at 6 in the morning, go to bed at 8 and in the middle of all that time he never stood still."

He worked for Servel before and after the war. He later hired on as a welder at Arkla, and continued to farm the family's 100 acres long past retirement.

"Nobody got out of a job," his wife said. "He thought nothing of sticking me on top of that soybean combine."

Courter noticed something different about her father than many other veterans who fought in the war.

"He talked about his service, even the bad things like when he saw people with their heads cut off. He'd tell about all the half-tracks he repaired when they thought nobody could get them going again, and how proud he was to serve in the 10th Armored Division under Gen. George Patton."

That unit helped liberate France, but it stalled en route to Germany because vehicles ran out of gasoline.

"They were sitting ducks for the Germans for five days until fuel could be dropped from the air," Rogers said. "One thing that bothered my brother was that the tanks were in so much of a hurry when they finally did get gas that they ran over some of their own men."

"When the hospice workers came to give him a bath, Dad always had a story," Courter said. "From how combat made many soldiers throw up, to how there wasn't much to look forward to during the cold of the Battle of the Bulge other than getting a fresh pair of socks."

Elsie Gourley honored her husband's wish that he not be put in a nursing home.

"He was going downhill pretty fast. It's a good thing the medals came when they did. That was cutting it pretty close."

Harold Gourley's funeral was Thursday.

"I don't know what I'll do now. I know there's friends and I know there's family, but I'm really gonna miss that man."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Barack Obama: " Spending on the Cold War relics should be for the veterans"

"Keep in mind that there is a difference between the Pentagon budget and the size of the military. So it may be that, for example, there are weapon systems that are outmoded relics of the Cold War; but what I want to make certain of is, is that our troops are not going on these repeated tours, lengthy tours, that we are providing them with all the support they need when they're on the ground. And we can't do that currently. When they come home we are treating them with the dignity and honor that they deserve. Whether you were for the war or against the war, we can all agree to, and the Bush administration has not done that because they tried to do it on the cheap. Folks who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, folks who have disability payments that are due are not getting the kinds of services they deserve. I have some specific plans to address that."

Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007
Statement of David K. Rehbein
National Commander of The American Legion

Before a Joint Session of
The Veterans’ Affairs CommitteesUnited States Congress
On The Legislative Priorities of The American Legion

By JASON STEIN | Wisconsin State Journal

MADISON — As Wisconsin soldiers wage war abroad, the state’s top veterans official is calling on taxpayers to prop up the faltering fund that helps care for those veterans on their return.

Punished by a shifting economy and the largest number of returning state soldiers in more than a generation, the Veterans Trust Fund will be bankrupt by as early as 2013 without new state money or serious spending cuts, said John Scocos, the secretary of the state Department of Veterans Affairs who is about to deploy to Iraq himself.
At stake are not only ongoing veterans programs such as loans, health care and education grants that are among the best in nation, but also whether new state programs will be undertaken to help soldiers returning with debilitating wounds to their bodies and minds.

A proposal passed Thursday by the board overseeing the Veterans Affairs Department calls for $8 million in taxpayer dollars for the 2009-11 budget.

That request, which has to be approved by lawmakers and Gov. Jim Doyle next year, would represent a departure for an agency that in recent years has largely funded its own operations and would also mean added strain for the already challenged state budget and taxpayers.

“Let’s not debate this for three years. We’ve got to do it now,” said Scocos, who had sought an even larger sum for the fund. “We’re going to lose a generation of veterans.”

Reckoning delayed

In 2004 and 2005, state officials made cuts to veterans programs to keep the fund out of bankruptcy and buy time until better market conditions arrived. But so far, the fund has only put off its time of reckoning.

The fund now has $62.6 million in assets as of June, less than half of the $126.6 million it had in June 1998. The cash on hand in the fund has also dropped to $23.6 million at the end of June, down 19 percent from $29 million in June 2006.

That’s because the two main sources of new money for the fund — investment earnings and interest on loans it makes to veterans — have both declined sharply in recent years because of changes in the financial markets, said Bill Kloster, a policy adviser with the agency.

In addition, a separate fund that makes home loans to veterans is also struggling and no longer has the cash to be able to help the Veterans Trust Fund, as it has done in the past.

Steve Lawrence, adjutant quartermaster for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Wisconsin, said that, particularly in wartime, taxpayer money should help cover some of the cost of providing state benefits to veterans.

“That cost should be spread over all state taxpayers — not just veterans who are taking out loans,” Lawrence said. “That’s the way most veterans look at it.”

The trust fund makes personal loans to veterans as well as grants to help qualifying veterans with health care, education and emergency needs. The fund also helps veterans apply for federal benefits by covering many of the administrative expenses of the Veterans Affairs Department, which only relies on taxpayer money for 1.7 percent of its current budget, said Anthony Hardie, executive assistant at the agency.

New programs wanted

Scocos said he wants the agency to do even more by starting pilot programs to supplement federal efforts to help veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cope with severe injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Scocos will be deployed to Iraq as a colonel with the U.S. Army Reserves later this month and is expected to be on leave from his state job until November 2009.

There are now 24,059 Wisconsin veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than double the 10,400 state veterans of the First Gulf War in 1990 and 1991, Hardie said.

Marv Freedman, chairman of the board of the Department of Veterans Affairs, said he also favored searching for outside or federal money for the trust fund and looking for ways to save money on existing programs.

But Freedman said at a minimum taxpayers should take over the $1.6 million annually now paid by the trust fund to run the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.

“Veterans shouldn’t be paying to honor themselves,” Freedman said.

The budget proposed by the board now goes to Gov. Jim Doyle, who will make his own budget proposal in February.

Lee Sensenbrenner, a spokesman for the Democratic governor, said Doyle was committed to veterans but declined to say in advance whether more taxpayer money could be freed up for the fund.

“There’s been this concern of shortfalls before. We’ve always met the challenge,” Sensenbrenner said.

Aides to Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston, and Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch, R-West Salem, declined comment.

Started in 1943

The trust fund’s history stretches back to 1943 when an earlier fund was set up to help World War II vets. Since then the fund has suffered recurrent bouts of near bankruptcy.

Rick deMoya, a former administrator of the agency’s Division of Veterans Services who in the past has been harshly critical of Scocos, said the trust fund could save money by eliminating the military funeral honors program and other efforts that duplicate federal services.

Kloster said that in recent years Scocos and other state officials helped the fund’s finances by cutting administrative costs and spending on education grants, as well as ending health-care grants to veterans for items the federal government was already covering.

But the yearly interest being paid on the fund’s investments has dropped from more than 6 percent in 2000 to just above 2 percent as of this summer, Hardie said.

Meanwhile, the mortgage refinancing boom allowed veterans to pay off personal loans from the department early by rolling them into their home loans, which took many loans off the agency’s books and dried up the stream of new interest money into the fund, Kloster said.

In the run-up to the current 2007-2009 budget, the Veterans Affairs department sought $14 million in taxpayer money to boost the trust fund, but only received $500,000.

Veterans also received, however, a landmark expansion of the Wisconsin GI Bill to cover 100 percent of the tuition and fees for qualifying veterans at public colleges in the state.

This time, Scocos said he had sought $24 million in taxpayer money for veterans but had the request pared back by the veterans board.
Gorbachev gets Liberty Medal tonight

By Inga Saffron

When former President George H.W. Bush bestows the Liberty Medal on former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev Thursday night at the National Constitution Center, it will be a short-lived nostalgia trip back to the good old days of Russian-American relations.

Bush, who bonded with Gorbachev as they slammed shut the door on the Cold War, will personally drape the ribbon around the neck of his old friend. Their sentimental moment will be accompanied on piano by Van Cliburn, the wunderkind who won Russian hearts in 1958, at a time when deep friendships between such high-ranking superpower officials were unimaginable.

But the happy reunion that will play out at the Constitution Center belies the growing discord today between the United States and the newly ascendant, oil-rich, muscle-flexing, mostly capitalist Russia of Vladimir V. Putin. Indeed, relations between the two countries, analysts agree, haven't been this frosty since Comrade Gorbachev took over the Soviet Union in 1985.

In an interview last night that hinted at some of the themes he intends to take up in this evening's speech, Gorbachev placed the blame for the current chill with Russia squarely on the current Bush administration. The partnership Gorbachev initiated in the 1980s began to fall apart, he said, with the international arm-twisting that this President Bush used to start the war in Iraq.

"This administration wants everyone to follow suit, allies and others," Gorbachev complained. "America needs its own perestroika," he said, using the Russian word for restructuring that became the signature of his tenure as the Soviet Union's last leader.

"You have to open your windows more often," said Gorbachev, a fit-looking 75. "The world is different. There must be the beginning of change."

Gorbachev's frank remarks echoed the high-profile essays he published in the American press last month after the crisis in Georgia erupted.

Despite the warm reception planned for Gorbachev, it will be hard to overlook the irony that he has become one of the staunchest defenders of Russia's military incursion, which he described as a humanitarian effort.

In separate pieces he wrote for the opinion pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post, Gorbachev gave voice to the bitterness many Russians feel about the United States' failure to live up to the promises of cooperation it made after the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991.

"Russia has been told to simply accept the facts," he wrote in the Times. "Here's the Independence of Kosovo for you. Here's the abrogation of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty. . . . Here's the unending expansion of NATO. All these moves have been set against the backdrop of sweet talk of partnership."

"Why would anyone put up with such a charade?" he demanded.

In those essays, he chastised the United States for trying to bring the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine into its orbit in a quest to control the region's oil pipelines and keep Russia down economically.

Though U.S.-Russian relations have been eroding for years, Russia's forceful behavior in the independent Republic of Georgia clearly sent both sides scrambling for their old Cold War playbooks. The simmering grievances have been magnified by the U.S. presidential campaign, with Republican John McCain declaring, "We are all Georgians," and then calling Democrat Barack Obama soft on Russia. It's been a while since anyone uttered those particular fighting words.

No one is suggesting Gorbachev should be denied the Liberty Medal, or its $100,000 prize, for criticizing America or for his implicit support of Russia's increasingly authoritarian and anti-Western leadership.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R., Pa.) brushed off the significance of Gorbachev's statements in an interview, saying, "I'm not surprised to see Mr. Gorbachev support his country."

But others, such as Stanford University professor Michael McFaul, a noted Russia expert who is advising Obama, admitted he was surprised by the tone of Gorbachev's essays - even though he shares his view that "we let the Russians down" on promises to rebuild their economy.

As McFaul observed, one of the hallmarks of Gorbachev's rule was a refusal to resort to force at difficult moments. Most notably, Gorbachev announced in 1988 that the Soviet Union would no longer intervene militarily if its Eastern European satellites charted their own noncommunist course.

That historic concession marked the end of the so-called Brezhnev Doctrine and led to a wave of peaceful democratic revolutions that ultimately resulted in the collapse of communism and the dismantling of the Soviet Union in 1991. Gorbachev received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, in no small part because he prevented bloodshed as the Soviet empire withered away.

"The whole point of the Gorbachev era was to get beyond the confrontational approach to U.S.-Russian relations," McFaul said. "He was trying to get beyond the zero-sum way of thinking. The idea of Russia integrating with the West was Gorbachev's." The former Soviet leader spoke about a "common European house" that included Russia as a friend, not a threat.

Now, it's clear to many Russia specialists that Moscow no longer cares what the West thinks. Gorbachev's stance on Georgia is evidence that a new historical cycle is beginning.

George Friedman, who runs the private intelligence consultancy called Stratfor, argued in the Sept. 25 New York Review of Books that Russia's use of military force outside its borders, for the first time since the Afghan war of the 1980s, suggests there has been a fundamental shift in the balance of power between the United States and Russia.

The fact that Gorbachev supported the action should dispel any lingering romanticism about the last Soviet leader, Friedman argued in an interview.

"Somehow, in the American fantasy, Gorbachev was transformed into a Western liberal. Let's remember, his real aim was to save the Communist Party. He agreed to relax political controls in exchange for Western money." Friedman pointed out that Gorbachev "isn't despised in Russia today because he was too liberal; he's despised because he was ineffectual." He failed to reform the Soviet Union and make communism work.

After Gorbachev was forced from power in the 1991 coup d'etat, and the Soviet Union was split into 15 independent states, he tried to influence policy in his homeland. He made a half-hearted run for the Russian presidency in 1996, only to receive less than 1 percent of the vote. He founded a policy institute. But all that many Westerners know of the lifelong communist is that he made a lot of money doing ads for Pizza Hut and Louis Vuitton.

While Gorbachev prospered from capitalism, Russia struggled. In the 1990s, its people suffered through the equivalent of the Depression.

America grew used to thinking of Russia as a basket case and took advantage of its weaknesses to expand on its former turf. While promising Russia that it, too, could become part of NATO, the United States never made good on the offer.

The rising price of oil, along with Putin's strict measures, has allowed Russia to reinvent itself. Its economy is booming - unlike America's.

"Americans cannot get it through their heads how popular Putin is," Friedman said. Nor do they realize, he added, that Russia is on its way to becoming a major power again.

So after the United States called for sanctions on Russia, including restrictions on its membership in international clubs like the G8 and the World Trade Organization, Gorbachev wrote: "These are empty threats. If our opinion counts for nothing in those institutions, do we really need them?"

It was the first time since he appeared on the world stage that Gorbachev suggested Russia might not, after all, need to be part of the West.

"I do think Russia must be integrated" with the West, he insisted last night. "But I also think that we must dance to our own music."
New VFF Ad

Vets for Freedom Members:

I wanted you to alert you all to our new television advertisement--"Petraeus vs. Obama." The ad, which started airing last night on national cable, will run extensively for the next week throughout the entire country on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC. The ad provides a direct contrast between what our commanders on the ground are saying and what Senator Obama says about the surge.

CLICK HERE to see the ad

The intent of the ad is to urge Senator Obama to recognize the success of the surge and applaud the troops through action and not just talk, by supporting Senate Resolution 636. The resolution, which you can read here, may come up for a vote today, and Vets for Freedom will be monitoring the vote closely. We have held dozens of meetings with Senators and Senate staff over the past week about 636, urging consideration of the resolution.

I want to thank all of the Vets for Freedom members who have made thousands of phone calls to Senate offices this week, quickly doubling the number of co-sponsors -- We now have 33 Senators on board! Many more Senators have indicated that they will vote for the legislation. But the questions remains--will Senator Obama and other surge--deniers vote for it?

We will keep you posted, and appreciate all you do to support our our warriors overseas.

Move out and Draw fire,

Pete Hegseth
Chairman, Vets for Freedom

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dear Mr. Obama

This commercial was done by a young vet from Oregon
You have to watch the whole thing. When he finishes talking and walks away, you get a sense of his honor for freedom.

Bob Cook is on the Lake County Republican Central Committee. His son Joe returned from Iraq last year.
Hi, my son Joe just did a commercial for John McCain. Please pass this on.

Bob Cook

"Freedom has never been Free not now and not during the Cold War"

See more Forgotten Heroes of the Cold War

Did We Really Win the Cold War Without Firing a Shot?

Sunday August 17, 2008

John McCain said yesterday that Ronald Reagan had won the cold war "without firing a shot." Whatever happened to:

The Korean War
The Vietnam War
The Contras & Nicaragua
The Mayaguez
The Pueblo
(Did I forget any?)

I was under the impression that presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford thought that the military interventions on their watch were part of fighting the cold war.

Cold War Casualties

* Using the strictest criteria 382 deaths caused by hostile acts occurred during the early period of the Cold War . We believe the number should be much higher, and include operational losses such as the crew of 99 lost on the submarine USS Scorpion, lost at sea in May 1968. At numerous times during the Cold War, large losses were taken in ambiguous circumstances, and were often shrouded in secrecy. Combat deaths were classified as "accidents" due to political or security reasons, and thus the public at large (and too often, the next-of-kin) were denied the truth. Source VFW St Pete Times

* DOD list 165 POW/MIA from Cold War Shoot Downs 125 still listed as missing. Source DOD
* The Cold War from September 1945 - December 26, 1991, was global in nature, and many facets and changing strategic considerations. During some parts of the period, actual shooting wars were involved, but always it was a political and military confrontation. Many of the losses in the Cold War were on missions that were under the veil of secrecy.

* Of 382 here are some major losses not included : Berlin Airlift 31 Americans killed in accidents, USS Thresher 125 lost, USS Scorpion 99 Crew Lost, USS Liberty 34 Killed and 173 wounded by Israeli Attack, Mayaguez Incident 18 KIA, 3 MIA and 41 wounded,

"Freedom has never been Free not now and not during the Cold War"

Sean Eagan
Chaiman American Cold War Veterans, Inc.

Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
Phone: 716 720-4000
Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile

See more Forgotten Heroes of the Cold War

Survivor of B-52 crash in IGH speaks

1958 crash killed all but one of crew, evicted family

Loren Kahl, who survived being burned following a B-52 crash in Inver Grove Heights in 1958, will be the featured speaker at a 50th anniversary commemoration of the event.

Kahl will speak at a brief program at 6:15 p.m. Sept. 16 at the marker commemorating the crash site, on the Broderick Boulevard service road near the interesection of highways 52 and 55, near the Inver Grove Heights water tower. The South St. Paul VFW Honor Guard will participate in the program, as will local historians.

The B-52, on a practice bombing mission flown out of an air base in Maine, hit the ground around 8 p.m. Only one from the eight-man flight crew survived. Kahl's family was caught up in the catastrophe that engulfed their farmhouse in flames. Although badly burned, Kahl's father managed to get the rest of the family to safety.

The marker was erected with help from several Twin Cities aviation history groups and civic leaders, including local chapter 1229 of the national Experimental Aircraft Association.

Parking is available on both sides of the street; handicapped parking is also available.

In case of inclement weather, the program will be canceled. For information, call 651-450-8540 or 651-450-8545.

For a description of the event written by Noel Allard, Minnesota author and aviation historian, see article below.

B-52 Crash Site Memorial :


by Noel Allard

It was a warm, dark September evening in 1958. August Kahl and his fifteen year old son, Loren were loading tomatoes into their farm truck so they could get an early start to market in South St. Paul the next morning.

The sound of a jet bomber high overhead was nothing new to the Kahls. They had heard the sound before. There were the new jet airliners landing at Wold-Chamberlain, fifteen miles away, and there were the Air Force bombers on training missions that could be heard every so often. But tonight the sound seemed unusual, Loren Kahl followed the path of the sound as it circled around him, it was getting louder and louder. All at once there was a heavy "booom" from an area on the other side of the barn. For an instant, the farm light blinked out, then the Kahls were enveloped in a fireball that swirled around both sides of the barn. They began to run towards the farmhouse a hundred yards away...but the fireball seemed to surround them. The ground was on fire and a noisy wind was blasting at their unprotected skin. Loren could feel the skin on his face tighten from the heat, August Kahl tripped on something and fell headlong into the roaring ground fire, regained his footing and found his way to the house.

Inside the house, six other members of August's family were struggling to understand what had happened. The house was an inferno. Part of the stairway had been carried away and Grandpa Kahl needed help to get to the bottom. They managed their way out of the house and staggered some distance away from the heat to look back and catch their breath, most of them in shock and aghast at the scene.

Only scant minutes before the cause of the massive explosion and fire had been an Air Force B-52D Stratofortress maneuvering at 36,400 feet overhead. On a Cold War training mission to simulate a nuclear strike on the Twin Cities, the plane had been home to six flight crewmembers and two instructors. The plane from the 69th Bomb Squadron 42nd Bomb Wing of SAC, had departed Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, Maine earlier in the day. It had made ECM runs at Bath, Maine, Albany, New York, Williamsport, PA, Youngstown, Ohio, and Bellefonte, Ohio. The flight had continued to Richmond, Indiana, where a GPI Nav-bomb run was started, and which was to terminate at Minneapolis. There it would be scored for accuracy from the Air Force Radar Bombing site at Wold-Chamberlain.

Four times the big plane crossed the target with "bombs away" for the fourth run at 2016CST, Minneapolis. As it rolled off the last run something went wrong. An elevator trim "excursion" began to send tremors through the ship. Whatever happened will never be known, for at this point the tail broke off the airplane, and it began a high speed plunge straight for the ground. There was no remark from the crew, and no cockpit voice recorder or black box to record the last moments. From 36,400 feet, the ship dove towards earth, and in no more than 108 seconds had crossed through 8.000 feet Moments later, control tower personnel at Wold-Chamberlain witnessed an explosion in the direction of Inver Grove Heights. The plane's main structure had impacted on the August Kahl farm a few miles south of South St. Paul Airport.

Though the crew had remained silent, they had never the less taken action. Four crewmembers had ejection seats and fired themselves out into the night almost immediately. The other four crew, including the two instructors, had no ejection seats.. It was for them to find an open hatch and leap to safety. Perhaps the centrifugal force kept them pinned to their crew positions, for they were unable to exit and rode the plane to the ground, being consumed in the explosion and fire.

Of the four that ejected and were subjected to a 600 mile per hour jetstream from outside the ship, flailing arms and legs and contact with the aircraft structure produced fatal injuries to three. They were found long after searchers and investigators had arrived, still strapped in their useless seats, their parachutes ripped to shreds by air blasts. The co-pilot was the singular survivor. He had landed in a tree on a farm adjoining the Kahl property. Neighbors helped him walk to a waiting ambulance some time after the crash.

Ariel photos taken the morning after the crash showed that the plane had come in at a flat angle, clipping off the top of a billboard alongside state highway 52., just fifty yards from the impact spot. Five craters marked the positions the fuselage and each pod of two engines. One of the engines had bulleted through the Kahl farmhouse, smashing off the lower staircase. Pieces large and small littered the entire farm and spread across neighboring farms. The tail of the aircraft was found three miles to the west.

Though the event was traumatic and carried ad front page news in local newspapers for the next two days, apart from convincing local citizens that the plane was not carrying nuclear weapons, the accident was soon hushed up. Recoverable pieces of the aircraft were taken to the big Air Force Reserve hanger at Wold-Chamberlain where they were laid out for the Air Force Accident Investigation team. No further news was given to the public.

As a result of` the investigation, numerous changes were adopted in both the ejection procedure, and in the design of the ejection seats themselves.

For the Kahl Family, with August and Loren badly burned, and the other family members burned and traumatized, they were able to recover enough compensation to pay for their hospitalization and to build a new farmhouse on a different spot of ground than where the former house had stood. In the fall of 1995 when the Kahl farm was purchased by the city of Inver Grove Heights, these buildings were burned.

The accident happened on September 16, 1958. Thirty-eight years later, on September 14, 1996, a stone memorial was dedicated on the spot where the bomber had crashed. Under the sponsorship of the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame, all of the major aviation museums in the Twin City area lent their support, both financially and physically to provide, at long last, a marker to honor these Cold War Veterans who gave their lives for their country. Today the stone with a fine etched tablet reminds all passersby of the sacrifice of these men. The location of the memorial is at the intersection of Broderick Blvd. And Brooks Blvd. Near the Inver Hills Community College, alongside Highway 52 in Inver Grove Heights.

Participating historical groups included:

* Planes of Fame East Inc. of Eden Prairie
* The Air Guard Museum- International Airport
* The Confederate Air Force, Southern Minnesota Wing, South St. Paul
* American Wings Air Museum, Anoka County
* Twin City Aero Historians, Minneapolis
* The Air Force Association, E.W. Rawlings Chapter
* Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame

Monday, September 15, 2008


RICK WARREN, PASTOR, SADDLEBACK CHURCH: Welcome back to the "Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency."

And welcome, Senator John McCain.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Good to be here.

WARREN: My first question, was the cone of silence comfortable you were in just now?

MCCAIN: I was trying to hear through the wall.

WARREN: This first set of questions deals with leadership and the personal life of leadership. The first question, who are the three wisest people that you know that you would rely on heavily in an administration?

MCCAIN: First one, I think, would be General David Petraeus, one of the great military leaders in American history, who took us from defeat to victory in Iraq, one of the great leaders (inaudible).

Fourth of July a year ago, Senator Lindsay Graham and I were in Baghdad. Six hundred and eighty-eight brave young Americans, whose enlistment had expired, swore in reenlistment to stay and fight for freedom. Only someone like General David Petraeus could motivate someone like that.

I think John Lewis. John Lewis was at the Edmund Pettis Bridge, had his skull fractured, continued to serve, continues to have the most optimistic outlook about America. He can teach us all a lot about the meaning of courage and commitment to causes greater than our self- interest.

Meg Whitman, Meg Whitman, the CEO of eBay. Meg Whitman, 12 years ago, there were five employees. Today, they're 1.5 million people that make a living off eBay in America, in the world. It's one of these great American success stories. And in these economic challenges times, we need to call on the wisdom and knowledge, the background of people like Meg Whitman, who have been able to make such a great success such as eBay part as the American folklore.

WARREN: OK, let me ask you this. This is a character question.

MCCAIN: I hope they get easier.

WARREN: Well, this one isn't any easier. We've had a lot of leaders, because of their weaknesses, character flaws, stumble, become ineffective, are not even serving anymore, serving our country. What's been your greatest moral failure, and what has been the great -- what do you think is the greatest moral failure of America?

MCCAIN: They don't get any easier.

WARREN: No, they don't get any easier.

MCCAIN: My greatest moral failing -- and I have been a very imperfect person -- is the failure of my first marriage. It's my greatest moral failure.

I think America's greatest moral failure has been. Throughout our existence, perhaps we have not devoted ourselves to causes greater than our self-interest, although we've been at the best at it of everybody in the world.

I think after 9/11, my friends, instead of telling people to go shopping or take a trip, we should have told Americans to join the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, the military, expand our volunteers, expand what you're doing -- (APPLAUSE) -- expand what you're doing, expand the current missions that you are doing, that you are carrying out here in America and throughout the world, in Rwanda. And I hope we have a chance to talk about that later on.

And you know -- a little pandering here. The first words of your very successful book is "this is not about you." you know what that also means? Serve a cause greater than your self-interest.

WARREN: John, you know that a lot of good legislation dies because of partisan politics, and party loyalty keeps people from really getting forward on putting America's best first. Can you give me an example of where you led against your party's interests -- oh, this is hard -- (LAUGHTER) -- and really, maybe against your own best interests for the good of America?

MCCAIN: You know, by a strange coincidence -- (LAUGHTER) -- I was not elected Miss Congeniality again in the United States Senate. I don't know why. I don't know why. I don't know why.

Climate change, out of control spending, torture, the list goes on, on a large number of issues that I have put my country first and I've reached across the aisle. but I'd probably have to say that one of the times that probably was one of the most trying was,

when I was first a member of Congress, and I'm a new freshman in the House of Representatives and very loyal and dedicated to President Reagan, whom I still think is one of the great, great presidents in American history -- (APPLAUSE) -- who won the cold war without firing a shot, in the words of Margaret Thatcher.

He wanted to send troops to Beirut for a peacekeeping mission. My knowledge and my background told me that a few hundred Marines in a situation like that could not successfully carry out any kind of peacekeeping mission. And I thought they were going into harm's way. Tragically, as many of you recall, there was a bombing in the Marine barracks and well over 100 brave Marines gave their lives. But it was tough, that vote, because I went against the president I believed in, and the party that believed that maybe I was disloyal very early in my political career.