Friday, July 31, 2009

Secretary Shinseki Meets with Philippine President Arroyo

WASHINGTON (July 31, 2009) - The status of benefits to Filipino Veterans
of World War II was a prime topic recently when Secretary of Veterans
Affairs Eric K. Shinseki met with Philippine President Gloria

"VA has long-standing ties to the Philippines, with many U.S. Veterans
living in the islands," Secretary Shinseki said. "Our partnership with
the Philippine government enables us to ensure these Veterans receive
the benefits they have earned."

The partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the
Philippine government was recently enhanced when VA implemented a law
granting a cash payment to Filipino Veterans who aided American troops
in World War II. The payments came through the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act, which authorized $198 million for one-time payments.

Under the provision, VA is paying claims of $9,000 for non-U.S. citizens
and $15,000 for Filipino Veterans who are U.S. citizens. VA's Manila
Regional Office has received more than 25,000 claims and has paid out
approximately $56 million so far.

Shinseki expressed his appreciation to Arroyo for the support her
government's Philippine Veterans Affairs Office gave to VA's Manila
office in their joint outreach to eligible Veterans in the weeks
following the law's passage earlier this year.

VA recently donated a new $800,000 CT scan machine to the Philippine
government's Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City. The
donation is one in a series of medical equipment donations and facility
upgrades worth $5.5 million since 2003 that the U.S. Government has made
to the medical center.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Take me out to the Ball Game

Florida Marlins A ball NY-Penn Team Jamestown Jammers 25 Robert Taylor and 30Richard Orton with American Cold War Veterans Chairman Sean Eagan on July 30th before the game with the State College Spikes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Here is a portion of an article posted on Veterans Today by the wife of a Vietnam Veteran.It is quite an eye opener.You can read the full article here will just get you started.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] became a household name in the early 1980’s. As the wife of a former military man and a veteran, I was compelled to learn all I could about it. On one occasion I told my husband I suspected he had PTSD. He denied it, telling me our problems were all because of me and my independence. Yes, I was a feminist, and the longer I lived with him, the more defiant I became to make my own way. Nevertheless, I did not have the courage to end our marriage and I stayed with him because I loved him and I was afraid he would not survive without me. In early 2000, he met a Vietnam Veteran on the golf course.

Together, they bonded as brothers. With the acceptance of their friendship, my husband has recognized the behaviors he battles daily are a reflection of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He met with a representative of Veterans Affairs in 2001 or 2002, and is still battling to get the benefits he was promised. PTSD is his daily battle and there are times he actually wants to run away from himself. If only the VA could live with him for one week they would understand how painful his emotional wounds are. If only the VA could hold him during the flashbacks.

In many ways, my soldier husband is still in Vietnam, never to return. On one occasion my husband met with a VA rep only to be told, and I quote, “It doesn’t help your case that you are still with your first wife.” When my husband expressed his comment to me, I was outraged, wanting the name, phone number, and contact information. My husband did not share it with me, but I can certainly educate others into the scenarios I discover.

Recently, I became involved with Veterans-for-Change (, a non-profit group that desires to wake up Congress and fulfill the promises made to Veterans. As a member of Veterans-For-Change, an expanding vocal group for Veterans rights, benefits, and treatment, I as well as my co-members and veterans nationwide, are extremely upset that the VA appears to ignore the veterans.

In March 2008, my husband traveled to Columbia, SC to appeal a decision from the VA. Now, he is told his file is in Washington, still awaiting a decision. My concern is not just for my husband, but for all veterans. Just how long does it take for a veteran to get the physical, emotional, mental, and monetary care he or she needs so life can return to normalcy? Now that I am an active participant with Veterans-for-Change I recognize there is a multitude of complaints that must be addressed by Congress or the Veterans Affairs.

My mission is to write about these scenarios and to share with my readers. When called to duty, to service America and its freedom, our Veterans stood tall, fought the battles, and now when needing our service the most, the VA ignores, or procrastinates to service their needs. This is a disgrace to all serving in the military.

Veterans-for-Change repeatedly hears stories from military veterans about the lack of care with the VA, along with the intense emotional battle, just to get benefits. Repeatedly, veterans are either denied, or their files are placed on hold, sometimes for years. Many of these claims are for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD]; lack of properly sanitized and sterilized medical equipment used for testing and physicals; and Blue Water Navy Dioxin Exposure and Agent Orange.

PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

VA Physicians are being instructed to deny or misdiagnose PTSD, or they are simply ignoring the signs, over medicating or improperly medicating, and simply not even looking into alternative ways of dealing with PTSD. Many Veterans are left to feel as if no one cares, or no one listens to their symptoms. Instead of listening, or asking probing questions, the medical practitioner prescribes a drug and it appears that the VA has a drug for every ailment.

We as Americans must take a stand to service and understand our soldiers and Veterans, not simply remove their weapons, dust them off, and refer them to another source of treatment, or someone else at the VA. We must learn to listen and stop the habit of prescribing drugs for every ailment. Veterans are not pin cushions or guinea pigs. We promised our Veterans benefits, freedom, and a better life, not simply prescribed drugs by doctors who react by overwriting prescriptions, instead of listening to their emotional ailments. Is this the way the VA strives to help our Veterans?

Just simply prescribing a drug in hopes the Veteran will feel better in the morning? Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] is described as an ‘emotional illness’ and it was not recognized as PTSD until the 1980’s when the American Psychiatric Association recognized it as such, according to the website,

PTSD leaves no visible scars, only the emotional scars that will remain forever inside the mind of the war veteran. PTSD leaves a stigma attached to it. To those who do not understand this ailment, the looks, discriminations, and lack of compassion leaves the Veteran with a lack of understanding of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the wounds of it. While it is true, the wounds are embedded within the mind, the wounds are so obvious to those of us who love the Veteran suffering with PTSD; and we strive to do all we can to make their life more productive and pleasant. We need the VA to do the same.

Medical Equipment

Veterans-for-Change has discovered there are far too many reports of improperly cleaned or sterilized equipment at numerous VA hospitals, resulting in thousands of complaints that have not been addressed or resolved.

Reportedly, there could be as many as 11,224 Veterans at risk, due to this lack of care, and many VA hospitals are involved. The number of Veterans affected could result in health and physical epidemics that could result in deadly diseases that should have been prevented provided the proper sanitation, and sterilization techniques were used. Instead, questions remain unanswered, and the VA’s continuous denial brought to the public attention of these problems, resulted in denying any possibility, or accepting responsibility, of cross contamination to many veterans. This is unforgivable and a government investigation should be underway – ASAP.

Blue Water Navy Dioxin Exposure

Reportedly 21 million gallons of Agent Orange were scattered over the fields in Vietnam between 1962 and 1970. Many of the Veterans of the Vietnam conflict served the United States Navy during 1962 and 1975. Many of these war veterans suffer with medical disabilities from the effects of Blue Water Navy Dioxin Exposure, found in Agent Orange.

However, these naval personnel are constantly denied service-connected health care and disability compensation by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Those who served in the Navy during war time have been excluded for presumption of illness directly related to Agent Orange. This chemical was sprayed, tossed around, and of course when it rained went into the ocean, or was carried in the air during strong winds.

Agent Orange was also carried on board ships for delivery, yet Veterans are still denied benefits due to the “boots on the ground” ruling. The ‘boots on the ground’ ruling must be changed to benefit the Veterans and their illnesses. They were in Vietnam. They experienced Agent Orange in everything around, especially in the air and waters.

President Obama has said: “We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America, a commitment that begins with enlistment and must never end.

”You, as Americans, and politicians of a free society, do have a moral, ethical, and Patriotic obligation to provide benefits and care, regardless of the costs involved! Our government has a moral, ethical, and Patriotic obligation to care for those who did the job others failed to do, or the many millions of Americans who chose to escape the effects, physical ailments, illnesses, and emotional wounds of war. Freedom is not free; it comes with a price tag. Veterans paid a gigantic price, emotionally, physically, and mentally.

Only a war veteran can comprehend how that price was paid for in full by our military and war veterans, along with their spouses and children! The price they paid for their devotion to their freedom does not have a monetary amount and it could be considered priceless since the effects of war leave so many emotional and physical scars that cannot be repaired. The price our war veterans paid was distributed in full with blood, sweat and many tears! Veterans-for-Change finds this unforgivable. Isn’t it about time Congress, the President, and the Veterans Affairs actually stood tall and paid that bill?

Isn’t it time to help our wounded warriors, including those who suffer with PTSD, lack of medical care and improperly cleaned or sterilized equipment, and Blue Water Navy Dioxin Exposure, along with the emotional scars, to be compensated? The actions of Congress and the actions and policies of the VA seem to express so loud and clear that it would have been far better had our men and women not served or died at war than to suffer the denials, the schemes, shenanigans, and the maltreatment provided by the government of the United States.

Let us all make a bit of noise with our Congress and all lawmakers. Send a copy of this article to those in your community, along with those who represent your home front. Isn’t it time our Veterans were treated with respect and dignity? Isn’t it time we welcomed them home and gave them the benefits promised, without the emotional war they must battle now, just to get those benefits? The choice is yours. You must decide

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, on the 56th anniversary of National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, President Barack Obama signed H.R. 2632, the Korean War Veterans Recognition Act. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), adds National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day to the list of days on which the display of the flag of the United States is especially encouraged.

President Obama said, “The freedom, security and prosperity that we enjoy as a nation exists only because of the heroic and selfless sacrifices of America’s servicemen and women. Today, we owe special remembrance to the veterans of the Korean War, and especially the United States and allied combatants who made the ultimate sacrifice in Korea. For their courageous actions in pursuit of freedom and democracy for the Korean peninsula, these dedicated men and women deserve our unending respect and gratitude.”

From the White House (Office of the Press Secretary)

President Barack Obama signs H.R. 2632, the Korean War Veterans Recognition Act, in the Oval Office Monday, July 27, 2009. Monday was the 56th anniversary of National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.

This official White House photograph is being made available for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way or used in materials, advertisements, products, or promotions that in any way suggest approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.
Save the Mojave Cross

Got this email today it is absurd. ACLU they want to totally erase our culture fight these bastards.


Electronically sign official petition:

Subject: Fw: This is beyond absurd!

Please take five minutes to watch this!

I received this today from a former shipmate of mine and watched the video. I certainly hope the Supreme Court will do the right thing and leave this memorial intact.


What is going on here???







Monday, July 27, 2009

Retake Congress! Okla Iraq vet needs our support!
Please help the elect a congressman that is a Constitution loving patriot and veteran.
"As a soldier, I pledged my life to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.
That very oath, as a young Sergeant in the Army, is what prompted me to read the Constitution for the first time. Since then I have learned that our government is up to a great many things that it should not be and as your Congressman, I pledge my life, liberty, and sacred honor to do all that I can to restore the rule of law,the liberty of all, and the Sovereignty of Oklahoma."

RJ Harris on the 2nd Amendment

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Cold War Veterans feeling on his treatment by the VA

I came across this forum post that sends a message I here again and again . The Pension system needs to be reformed at the VA he is one of many of the era who have come to find out they are treated as second class veterans in the VA system.



Posts: 1

cold war veterans are not treated with respect they deserve
« on: March 04, 2008, 01:21:37 AM »

I haven't had good luck with the VA since ETS. I recently had a brain aneurysm burst and it has left me totally disabled. I just received a letter today denying me of anything. They state that it was a time of PEACETIME. I manned a nuclear arsenal during that showdown with gorbachev. That was frontline duty if I ever seen it. I really feel neglected about it all. The cold war wasn't a war without a congressional proclamation. Has our war today have this? This will lead to major neglect in the future that cannot happen. All veterans raised their right hands and all veterans get benefits. Thats what I thought happens, guess I was wrong. Young and dumb was a necessity for the guys I worked with. wish I could have those years back, I wouldn't given them away so quickly.

Friday, July 24, 2009

By Don Keith, N4KC

July 24, 2009


Special event operation honors 50th anniversary of historic North Pole mission radio message.

America desperately needed heroes in the late 1950s. Our country was still trying to recover from the nonvictory in Korea. Our space program was literally blowing up on the launch pads down at Cape Canaveral. Then the Russians launched Sputnik. That single event sent a shiver through the Free World.

Even the closest allies began to question US military might and her previous technological superiority over the Soviets. That was the primary reason President Dwight Eisenhower decided to send what was then the world’s most well-known vessel, USS Nautilus, through the unexplored waters beneath the Arctic ice pack, from Pacific to Atlantic via the North Pole. The Nautilus had achieved world renown as the first nuclear powered submarine, which made it capable of such a mission. It was a daring mission, one that could have been another spectacular and tragic failure — and almost was. Of course, there were other reasons, military and scientific, for sending the first nuclear vessel off on such a hazardous voyage. Still, the need for heroes, to show the world America still had the “right stuff,” was a compelling reason for the president to order the historic, top secret mission in the summer of 1958.

It is my opinion that the importance of what Nautilus and her brave crew accomplished at the top of the world is not fully appreciated now, more than 50 years later. At the time, it made a worldwide splash that would only be exceeded 11 years later by the first moon landing. That was one reason I was so proud to be asked to coauthor a book about the event with the man who was her skipper on the North Pole run, Captain William R. Anderson (The Ice Diaries, Thomas Nelson Publishers). It was also the reason I decided the 50th anniversary of the voyage was a perfect opportunity for a special event Amateur Radio operation — both to call attention to the historic event and to tie ham radio to what was sure to be a very public celebration. I had no way of knowing that it would turn into such a success.

Permission to Come Aboard

My goal from the beginning was to try to do the operation from the Navy’s Submarine Force Museum and Library in Groton, Connecticut. That also just happens to be where Nautilus is now berthed and open to the public as only the second vessel dubbed “Historic Ship” (Old Ironsides in Boston is the other). If we could actually operate from the deck or radio room of the world’s first nuclear-powered vessel that would be even better.

Moreover, if we could do the event over the weekend of August 2 and 3 (the actual anniversary of Nautilus becoming the first ship to reach the North Pole was August 3, a Sunday night East Coast time), then it would be a perfect alignment with history. That would guarantee us the biggest crowd at the ship and museum, too. Since the anniversary was going to fall on a weekend, it would be best to take advantage of that bit of luck.

I could see several big problems, including logistics and coordinating with the staff at the museum and ship. Nautilus is in Connecticut. I live in Alabama and, in addition to writing and promoting the books I write, I also have a day job.

I was not sure how I was going to get two good, working stations up to New England and set them up properly. How could I work with the museum management folks in Groton to get permission and direction on a location from which to operate? They did not know me and, I assumed, would be wary of somebody who wanted to come set up radios on their site. I had also heard that they were not particularly welcoming of such events. Thankfully, that turned out to be anything but the case, but I suspect the organized and professional manner in which they were eventually approached contributed to what turned out to be a very warm welcome and plenty of gracious assistance.

The main reason for that was the Southern New England Navy/Marine Corps Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) group. Back in January 2008, I had blindly sent e-mails to several clubs in the area looking for help in the operation and got a couple of replies saying they would float the idea with their membership. After a while, of necessity, I started considering alternate plans.

I could try to operate from the battleship USS Alabama and the submarine USS Drum in Mobile, Alabama. That was certainly closer to me and I had contacts there, plus they have onboard ham radio stations that participate in “ships on the air” events. The problem was that neither of those great museum ships had any connection to Nautilus or the North Pole, other than Drum being a submarine. As a last resort, I could just put my home station on the air, using a special call sign, but that would have been a poor effort to pay homage to those brave men and what they accomplished beneath the treacherous ice pack.

That is when I got a nice note from Chuck Motes, K1DFS/NNNØHAL, who is active in the Southern New England MARS group and helps man and maintain the MARS station at the US Navy’s submarine base, a few hundred yards from Nautilus. It seems that Scott Moore, W1SSN, had seen my original e-mailed plea for help and passed it along to Bob Veth, K1RJV/NNNØFCC, Director — Region One, Navy MARS.

He and his organization immediately recognized this as an excellent way to accomplish several ends. First, they could get exposure for their group during a special weekend at the museum. It would also enable them to test their emergency response trailer, mobile tower and station setup. And, of course, they wanted to help me give the Nautilus crew and this special anniversary some worldwide recognition via Amateur Radio. Everyone in the organization was enthusiastic from the start and gave approval, appointing Chuck Motes, K1DFS, the point man. It was the perfect choice for several reasons including the fact that Chuck’s father and grandfather had worked on the construction of Nautilus back in the early ’50s.

Chuck’s second e-mail to me already had ideas for station configuration — pending approval from the Nautilus museum crew, of course — and a plan for approaching Lt Cdr Greg Caskey, who runs the place. I already had a presentation and book signing event scheduled for Saturday, August 2, at the museum, coordinated with the museum director, so we went at our contacts from both directions. The staff and Lt Cdr Caskey were extremely helpful, directing visitors to our eventual location, coming by to check on us and see if we needed anything and even giving us 24 hour access to an area typically closed in the evening. That enabled us to keep the stations on the air at night as long as the bands lasted.

As it turned out, we were not able to operate from aboard Nautilus. They have quite a few visitors wandering through on any weekend. They anticipated being especially crowded on this particular one. That would make it difficult for us to work in already cramped quarters and we would have had to settle for compromise antennas. There was also a special commemorative ceremony planned for Sunday afternoon on the ship’s deck, which included raising a replica of the North Pole flag on the sail of the submarine. The ship flew that flag when she first entered port in Portland, England, after the successful polar crossing. As it turned out, during the ceremony, the special event station was announced to the big crowd and everyone was invited to come by and visit.

Actually our eventual setup ended up being better in every way than if we had been below decks on the submarine, but more on that later.

“Nautilus 90 North”

Even before I started begging for help to pull this thing off, I was thinking about the call sign I wanted. There was one obvious choice. When Nautilus first emerged from beneath the ice pack in the Greenland Sea near the island of Spitsbergen, she wanted to report her success to the key people who had staked their careers — and presidency — on this mission.

The radio operators aboard the submarine ran into the typical propagation problems found in those high latitudes. They were finally able to raise a Navy radio station in — of all places — Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the spot where the polar mission had started 2 weeks before. Not bad DX. The historic message sent in Morse code was, "Nautilus 90 North". That short piece of traffic to President Eisenhower and the Pentagon confirmed that the submarine had successfully reached the most inaccessible spot on the planet, the North Pole, at 90 degrees north latitude.

I wanted N9N for the special event station call.

Thankfully, it was available for that weekend and I quickly went through a very efficient member of the VEC system to reserve it. The “9” caused some confusion during the weekend, since we were in the “1” call area. My being listed on several Web sites as the QSL contact in Alabama threw some folks, too. Some operators were still not accustomed to the 1 × 1 format, and kept arguing that there had to be another letter or two to make it a legal call sign. Further, a contest group in Indiana uses N9N for their state QSO Party in June every year. Since I listed the N9N call sign on as soon as I got it reserved, I was getting QSL cards long before the event, wondering if they had really contacted USS Nautilus. I should have waited until later to get it up on and I apologize for the confusion.

QSOs and Sausage Stew

When I arrived in Groton the evening before the event was to kick off, I was amazed at what Chuck and his guys had accomplished. They had a travel trailer for comfort, including air conditioning and restroom facilities. There were already two complete HF stations set up outside, Field Day style, protected from sun and rain — both of which we had an abundance of that weekend.

A converted boat trailer was parked nearby, bearing a 40 foot, portable, crank-up tower with a 4 element HF beam and a 2 meter Yagi on top. A G5RV for 40 and 75 meters was strung from the tower to end supports across the parking lot. There was even a legal limit amplifier available for the 20 meter station but we only used it when we really needed it because it required firing up a separate generator. Chuck and his crew had even organized volunteer operators and loggers; some from Navy and Army MARS and others who were not MARS members, and had them scheduled on big marker boards in 1 hour shifts throughout the weekend.

My contribution was a set of “talking points,” key facts about the submarine, the mission and why we were there. The whole operation was located right there on the banks of the Thames River, only a few hundred feet from Nautilus, in the middle of the museum parking lot. We had great visibility from the main entrance. Visitors could not miss us. Chuck and the crew had a table full of material about Amateur Radio and information on becoming a MARS volunteer and handed it out to curious people all weekend.

It was an inspiring location. As we operated and told over-the-air contacts about Nautilus and the North Pole, we could look over at the actual historic vessel with her famous hull numbers—SSN-571, the first ship to carry the “N” for “nuclear” — sitting there quietly in her final resting spot. Occasionally one of her modern sisters made its way up the Thames, bound for the submarine base next door, still using much of the technology Nautilus pioneered over 50 years ago.

Rick Castrogiovanni, N1JGR/NNNØJGR, was our designated chef and we were well fed all weekend. His sausage stew on Friday night was wonderful, the perfect kickoff to the weekend. The camaraderie was fantastic as well. Though I had not met any of these folks before, and had only exchanged e-mails with Chuck, they made me feel right at home. Of course, we had one big thing in common, a hobby we love. All I had to do was show up, operate and eat.

Rick, along with Gil Woodside, WA1LAD/NNNØWWW; Alan Lisitano, W1LOZ/NNNØLOZ; George Carbonell, N1RMF/NNNØRMF, and Chuck, K1DFS, made up the crew who stayed with the stations from Friday morning setup all the way through teardown on Monday morning. I dashed off down I-95 to New York City in the wee hours of Monday morning for some media interviews so I even got out of that thankless job, too. Bob Veth, K1RJV/NNNØFCC, drove down from Massachusetts and was there most of the weekend as well. His enthusiasm and support were invaluable.

We had literally scores of volunteers who operated, logged and did many other tasks to keep things running smoothly. When the tower support for the G5RV broke early Sunday morning, somebody had to climb the tower and restring it. When a sudden thunderstorm blew in on Saturday afternoon, everyone had to scramble to get the gear secured. Nobody complained. They just pitched in and helped. I wish I had room to mention everyone by name and call sign, but I hope they know that their efforts, time and expertise are appreciated.

I thank Betsey Doane, K1EIC, ARRL Section Manager for Connecticut, who sent us a warm welcome but was traveling and could not be there that weekend. She is, by the way, a member of Navy MARS with the call sign NNNØEBP.

History Repeated

We ended up the weekend with over 2000 contacts in the log, working all 50 states and 26 foreign countries. I do not know how this compares to other special event stations, but it has to be near a record for only two operating positions over one weekend. I have received about 500 QSLs that I responded to with specially designed cards.

There were so many highlights of the weekend it is hard to get them all into this article. Several former Nautilus crewmembers dropped by the stations, including a couple of men who were aboard for the North Pole run. At least one of the former 571 crew who visited is a ham and took a turn at operating. We worked a number of former Nautilus crew on the air, too, and others who had taken part in constructing that marvelous Jules Verne-like vessel at Electric Boat Corporation, which is located just a few miles downriver from where N9N was set up. It was also a pleasure to talk with many other former submariners and military veterans who are Amateur Radio operators.

But one especially thrilling moment occurred when I took a call on 20 meter SSB from Harold Dennin, AC3Q, from Des Plaines, Illinois. Harold explained that he was one of the naval radio operators at Pearl Harbor who copied the historic transmission of “Nautilus 90 North” that day in 1958. We promptly switched to CW and recreated that bit of radio traffic. Maybe it was only the magic of the moment, but Harold’s fist certainly sounded wonderful. I could imagine the feeling of the radio operator aboard the submarine when the message was safely sent and QSLed.

Another special feature of the event came on Sunday night. Nautilus officially reached the North Pole — the first vessel in history to do so — at 11:15 PM EDST on August 3, 1958. Thanks to K1DFS and his dedicated crew, N9N remained on the air Sunday night until that “magic minute.” At that time, stations were invited to “check in,” and as many as possible of the call signs were copied in 1 minute. Then the operators went back and conducted official contacts with as many of them as they could. We plan to send each of those stations a special certificate.

I cannot say enough about the Navy/Marine Corps MARS folks and what they did to make this event possible. In the true spirit of Amateur Radio, they gave up their weekend, took days off work and labored in heat and humidity to make the stations strong and viable, even with especially poor band conditions. I think propagation was the only thing Chuck and his guys were not able to fix! Thanks as well to all the other volunteers who took part in the weekend and to the staff at the Submarine Force Museum and Historic Ship Nautilus for their help and hospitality.

As a result of these efforts, Amateur Radio and the MARS program got excellent PR before thousands of visitors over the weekend and others who read about the event in local media. Thousands more who listened in or worked N9N learned more about the historic event that was the primary reason for the operation.

Most importantly, we were all able to honor 116 brave men who took their marvelous ship where no man had gone before. In the process, they changed the course of the Cold War and gave America the heroes we so desperately needed.

As submariners say, “Bravo zulu!”

“Job well done!”

Don Keith, N4KC, was first licensed in 1963. He holds the Amateur Extra class license and is an ARRL member. He has published 17 books, including his latest, The Ice Diaries, the story of USS Nautilus and her voyage in 1958 from Pacific to Atlantic via the North Pole. His novel, Wizard of the Wind, features a ham radio operator as a key character and his book Final Patrol, tells about the 17 WWII submarines open as museum ships around the country, including several that have amateur stations aboard. Don holds a degree in broadcast and film and worked in broadcasting for over 20 years. He currently serves as vice president of marketing communications for Education Corporation of America, which owns and operates career colleges nationwide. Don’s Web site is He can be reached at 40 Red Stick Rd, Pelham, AL 35124-3728.

Launch in external player

VFW Legislative Update

In This Issue:
1. House VA Committee Hearings
2. NDAA Update

1. House VA Committee Hearings:

Wednesday: The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (O&I) held a hearing on VAs brachytherapy safety standards. Brachytherapy is a form of radiotherapy often used to treat prostate cancer by using radioactive seeds which are placed inside or next to a patient's malignant cells. The hearing came on the heels of reports of botched prostate cancer procedures and lack of quality and controls at Philadelphia's VA Medical Center. A panel of doctors from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine who implemented the Brachytherapy procedures under contract at the Philadelphia VA offered their explanations and apologies. The committee posed questions to the panel of doctors and the representatives from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the safety and security of radioactive materials used in medical procedures and how VA can identify quality controls and strict oversight. Reports show that the Brachytherapy procedure is very effective when administered and monitored properly.

Thursday: The O&I subcommittee also held a hearing examining Quality of Life and Ancillary Benefits provided by VA. VA ancillary benefits include adaptive grants for automobiles and housing, vocational rehabilitation, education, aid and attendance and insurance. Witnesses included representatives from veterans' service organizations, The Institute of Medicine, Quality of Life Foundation of Virginia, National Organization on Disability and VA benefits staff. Chairman John Hall (D-NY) asked the panels to review recent legislation and reports addressing the appropriateness of VA benefits and quality of life loss payment. Updating VAs current rating schedule and addressing quality of life payment has remained a priority for VFW and other VSOs since recommendations were made by the VDBC in October 2007.

For more on the hearings, visit the House website at
To read the final report of the Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission (VDBC) go to:

2. NDAA Update: Late last night, the Senate passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a vote of 87-7. The bill, S. 1390 included the following VFW-supported provisions:

**SBP-DIC offset - The Senate approved an amendment offered by Sen. Bill Nelson that would end the deduction of VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from military Survivor Benefit Plan annuities.

**Concurrent Receipt - The Senate approved an amendment offered by Sen. Harry Reid to phase-in the extension of concurrent receipt to all medically retired service members, regardless of years of service.

**Military Spouses Residency Relief - The Senate approved an amendment offered by Sen. Richard Burr that would give a military spouse who moves out of state because of military orders the option to claim one state of domicile, regardless of where they move. This amendment would remove the need for military spouses to update drivers' licenses, filing tax returns for multiple states, and changing vehicle and voter registrations with each move.

The House passed its bill (HR 2647) in June. The bills now head to conference for final approval

Kokesh for Congress

Please help the elect a congressman that is a Constitution loving
patriot and USMC Iraq veteran.
We the People must get legislators that are not sold out and really
will represent us!

The lobbyists, bankers and corporations choose wisely which candidates
will do their bidding for them.
The Informed Electorate must now take the lead in turning our nation
back to it's rightful owners, We the People

Adam Charles Kokesh was a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps
and a veteran of the Iraq War.
PO Box 1062
Santa Fe, NM 87504

Sent from my mobile device

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Support Military Families

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Barbara Boxer <>
Date: Tue, 21 Jul 2009 20:48:04 GMT
Subject: Support Military Families
To: Sean Eagan <>

Dear Sean,

As Americans, we are so lucky to live in a free country,
defended by the brave men and women of our armed forces. We owe
them our gratitude, respect, and support for sacrificing so much
for us.

That's why I've just introduced new legislation in the Senate
that will ease the burden on our military families -- and why
I'm asking all supporters to help. My three
amendments are being considered, right now, during this week's
debate on the defense authorization bill.

Please stand with me, add your voice, and help me build support
for this crucial effort to help our military families: Please
endorse my amendments now!

What would my amendments do?

-Give families with two parents on active duty the option to
stagger their overseas combat deployments -- so one parent can
stay home as the primary caregiver for their children. In
addition, after one parent returns, provide a 90-day
re-integration period before the other parent is deployed. This
amendment is supported by the National Military Family

-Reimburse military families who have to travel more than 50
miles from home in order to receive medical care -- down from
the current 100-mile requirement. This amendment is supported by
the Military Coalition.

-Provide flexible spending accounts for all uniformed service
personnel -- so military families receive tax breaks for
spending on medical expenses and child care. This amendment is
supported by the VFW, National Military Family Association,
Military Officers Association of America, and other

These amendments are the right thing to do for our
servicemembers and their families. They do so much to protect us
-- now it's time for us to stand up for them.

Please stand with me, add your voice, and help me build support
for this crucial effort to help our military families: Please
endorse my amendments now!

The Senate is slated to consider my amendments over the next few
days, so time is of the essence here.

I need to show my colleagues the strong grassroots support
behind these military families amendments -- and your help can
make the difference.

If you support these amendments, please let me know. It will
really help me secure the votes I need to get them passed.

Please endorse these military families amendments now. -

In Friendship,

Barbara Boxer
U.S. Senator

P.S. Your support in the next 48 hours is crucial: Please sign
on to endorse these military families amendments now ? and then
forward this email to everyone you know!

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Grave Offenses

Arlington Scandal here is the newsvine thanks brother Glen
Well this is no surprise "Veterans that gave all" have a new scandal

Arlington National Cemetery Scandal: Some Headstones Don't Match Records For Bodies, Iraq Vets' Memorabilia Trashed

Story from Huffington Post

An elegant white sign at Arlington National Cemetery informs visitors they are inside "our nation's most sacred shrine." Run under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army, Arlington is the final resting place of John and Robert Kennedy, Supreme Court justices Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and Earl Warren, and the nation's military royalty from the Civil War to the Iraq war. More than 4 million people visit Arlington every year to tour the legendary grave sites, which include those of "Maltese Falcon" author Dashiell Hammett and big-band leader Glenn Miller, and watch a specially trained U.S. infantry soldier march silently in guard of the Tomb of the Unknowns. Arlington shelters the remains of more than 320,000 service members and holds nearly 30 new funerals a day. As visitors head out into the sacred grounds, the cemetery asks, "Please conduct yourselves with dignity and respect at all times."

Behind the pristine lawns, the dignity of, and respect for, Arlington National Cemetery are tattered. An Army investigation this year found that the de facto boss of the cemetery, Deputy Superintendent Thurman Higginbotham, made false statements to Army investigators as they probed what they later classified as wire fraud at Arlington — a female employee's computer had been tapped into without authorization, and she had been impersonated online. An internal Army memo and an interview with a former Army employee also suggest that high-level Army officials knew for months about problems at Arlington but failed to act. Three former public affairs officers have recently testified under oath about a hostile work environment at Arlington. One was fired after speaking out. The other two quit in disgust.

Sadly, Arlington's internal problems have materialized on the grounds themselves. Despite nearly 10 years and countless dollars spent on computerizing its operations, the cemetery still relies mostly on paper burial records that in some cases do not match the headstones. "There are numerous examples of discrepancies that exist between burial maps, the physical location of headstones, and the burial records/grave cards," the cemetery admitted in a 2008 report to Congress.

And in a relatively remote area of the cemetery, where 600 service members from Iraq and Afghanistan are laid to rest, personal mementos placed on graves are left out to rot in the rain for days, ruined by workers with power washers, or thrown into a trash bin.

"The aesthetics of the cemetery are deceptive," says Gina Gray, an Army veteran of eight years who served in Iraq and who was the cemetery's public affairs officer in early 2008, before she was fired over a clash with her boss. "To the naked eye, it is a place of sacred beauty and a tribute to our nation's heroes," says Gray, who has been rehired as an Army contractor at Fort Belvoir, in Virginia. "But if you scratch below the surface, you will find that it's really just window dressing. They've put these pretty curtains up to hide the ugliness on the inside."

At the center of the chaos is Higginbotham, Gray's former superior and a focus of the Army investigation. While cemetery Superintendent John Metzler is the titular head at Arlington, Higginbotham runs the show, say current and former employees. A tall and imposing man, Higginbotham has worked at the cemetery since 1965. He started as a security guard and worked his way up to deputy supervisor in 1990. In his current position, he has earned a reputation for running the cemetery with an iron fist. (Higginbotham declined to talk to Salon.)

One of Higginbotham's failures, say employees, has been his inability to rectify disturbing discrepancies between burial records and information on headstones. For years, Arlington has struggled to replace paper-and-pen burial records with a satellite-aided system of tracking grave locations. "My goal is to have all the gravesites available online to the public, so people can look up a grave from home and print out a map that will show exactly where the gravesite is," Higginbotham told Government Computer News in April 2006. Such systems are standard at other cemeteries, like the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio, nearly identical to Arlington in age and size. Yet an effort begun in 2000 to set up a similar system at Arlington remains unrealized.

In 2004 and 2005, Arlington conducted a pilot project to check burial records against headstone information on 300 graves. "The accuracy of interment records and maps that track reserved, obstructed, and occupied graves were proven to have errors," the project found, according to Arlington National Cemetery budget documents. "For example, gravesites that were marked as obstructed were actually available and information listed on grave cards and burial records were not consistent with the information on the actual headstone."

The problems continue today. In 2008, Arlington National Cemetery issued a progress report to Congress on the computerization project. "The current way of doing business is mostly manual, complex, redundant and inefficient," cemetery officials noted, acknowledging continuing discrepancies among burial maps, headstones and burial records.

Gray says her conversations with groundskeepers suggest the discrepancies and confusion might not stop at the grave's edge. "They told me they've got people buried there that they don't know who they are, and then they've got the wrong headstones over the graves." She adds: "I told several Army officials — in one instance, a two-star general — but nothing was ever followed up on." Salon heard the same claims from current and former cemetery employees, who asked to remain anonymous.

Arlington officials insist that there are no cases at Arlington where headstones do not match the remains beneath. "We are not aware of any situation like that," says cemetery spokeswoman Kaitlin Horst.

VFW Legislative Update

VFW Washington Weekly July 20, 2009  In This Issue:

1. House VA Committee Hearings

2. Women Veteran Hearings

3. Military Voting Rights Bill

4. DOD Identifies Captured Soldier

1. House VA Committee Hearings: Tuesday: The Subcommittee on Oversight
and Investigations held a hearing on VA and DOD's implementation of a
joint electronic medical record. Mandated by the FY 2008 Defense bill,
Secretaries' Shinseki and Gates have made the interoperable record a
priority.  The deadline for the creation of a joint lifetime
electronic record that will contain information from the day a
servicemember enters the military to their transition into the VA
system is Sept. 30, 2009.  Committee members all stated that it is
time to make the transition easier for all those returning from
battle, and to improve upon a system that ensures the best care,
efficient benefits delivery, and seamless transition in to civilian
life.  Director Rear Adm. Gregory Timberlake and Deputy Director Cliff
Freeman of the Interagency Program Office, both testified that it is
their goal to enable DOD and VA to work together to deliver a
comprehensive system that will modernize both agencies and bring them
into  21st century. Wednesday: The full committee moved several
VFW-supported bills forward for House action.

HR 3155 would authorize training, support and medical care to family
caregivers of veterans.  It would also create a stipend to cover
housing and expenses incurred by primary caregivers to certain

HR 1293 would increase the amount veterans receive for improvements
and structural alterations for home health services.

HR 2270 combines provisions from eight other bills, to include
establishing a Director of Physician Assistant position within VA;
eliminate the deduction in accelerated death payments to
terminally–ill veterans and service members under SGLI and VGLI; allow
certain veterans to increase the amount of life insurance they carry
under VGLI; prohibit catastrophically-disabled veterans from having to
pay copayments or other fees for critical medical services; and
permanently authorize hospital care, medical services and nursing home
care for Vietnam and Persian Gulf War veterans exposed to herbicides.

Thursday: VFW presented testimony before the Subcommittee on Economic
Opportunity on State Approving Agencies (SAAs) and their role in
education programs administered by VA. SAAs were established by
Congress in 1947 to ensure that veterans and eligible dependents use
the GI Bill educational benefit in an approved educational
environment.  Their key function is to ensure that education and
training programs meet VA standards.  VFW believes that with the
passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, SAAs need more highly trained
individuals working at the state and federal levels.  We also
testified that adequate resources provided by Congress and vigilant
oversight are needed to decrease the potential for waste, fraud and
abuse.To read VFW testimony, go to: more on
the hearings, visit the committee website at

2. Women Veteran Hearings: The Senate and House Veterans Affairs
Committees held hearings last week on VA healthcare services for women
veterans.  Both hearings looked at how VA can bridge the gaps in care
that currently face female veterans.  VFW sponsored a witness who
spoke of her experiences about the care given her when she
transitioned out of the Army into VA.

A panel of female warriors spoke at both hearings and told personal
stories of their struggles getting proper care and benefits at VA
facilities.  According to VA, of the 1.8 million women veterans in the
U.S., about 450,000 have enrolled for care at VA.  The VA's chief
consultant on women's health, Dr. Patricia Hays, addressed some of the
inconsistencies and problems, and told Senate Committee members that
VA is implementing an innovative approach to improve services to
women.  Some of the current initiatives and programs include:
Comprehensive primary care providers throughout the nation. Staffing
every VA medical center with a Women Veterans Program Manager.
Enhancing mental health care at all facilities.  Creating a
min-residency education program on women's health for physicians.
Improving communication and outreach about VA services for
women.Conducting a multi-faceted research program on women's health.

VFW -supported legislation addressing access to care at VA that
focuses on understanding the needs of women vets and improving
services was introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Stephanie
Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD). The House passed their version.  We await
Senate action.  For more on both hearings, visit the respective
committee websites at and

3. Military Voting Rights Bill: The Senate Administration Committee
approved legislation last week to ensure the votes of U.S. troops and
other Americans living overseas are counted in upcoming elections.

The bill, S. 1415, would require states to send ballots to military
and overseas voters at least 45 days before an election, and provide a
10-day grace period for ballots to be received after Election Day, as
long as they are postmarked in time.  Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), the
bill's sponsor, is going to offer the legislation as an amendment to
the fiscal year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, now under
consideration by the Senate.

4. DOD Identifies Captured Soldier:

The Defense Department announced the capture of Army Pfc. Bowe R.
Bergdahl, 23, of Ketchum, ID,on July 3.  Bergdahl, a member of 1st
Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team,
25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, AK, is the only missing
American serviceman in Afghanistan.  Army Spc. Ahmed K. Altaie, of Ann
Arbor, MI, is the only missing American serviceman in Iraq.  He was
allegedly kidnapped while on his way to visit family in Baghdad on
Oct. 23, 2006.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Top Websites for Veterans to Find Support and Assistance

By Guest Blogger Britney Wilkins

When veterans come home after spending time in combat or stationed overseas, whether they’ve lived abroad with their family or haven’t seen them in over a year, they’re faced with all kinds of transitions and obstacles that hinder their ability to pick up where they left off. And while the general public consensus is that we’re all supposed to lend a hand to the soldiers who sacrificed so much for us, it can be overwhelming for veterans and their families and friends to really connect with the types of services and support they need to get on with their lives. If you’re looking for assistance with job searching, going back to school, rehabilitation and therapy, mental health and stress, or figuring out your finances, here are top websites for veterans who need support when they return home.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: This major government HQ for veterans has all kinds of resources for transitioning back to life as a vet, getting your benefits, keeping up with military news and Congressional legislation, finding official forms and documents, getting jobs with the VA, and more.

Disabled American Vets: Find local chapters to help you get the benefits you deserve as a disabled veteran. You’ll also get help filing for disability, getting compensated, and supporting your family.

Veterans of Foreign Wars: offers members all kinds of discounts, insurance and other benefits. The VFW is also an active advocacy group for putting pressure on Washington to support military and veterans’ issues.

GI Bill: The VA website has a special page for reading about the GI bill, applying to school and getting all of your deserved education benefits.

VA Locations: Use this tool to find VA hospitals and vet centers around the U.S.
Veterans and Military Health: Medline Plus’ website lists hazards, clinical trials, news stories, symptoms and conditions, statistics, rehab programs and other resource related to veterans and military health.

SAMHSA: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a page just for veterans. This all-purpose website has lots of tips for veterans who need support making the transition back to everyday family life, finding a job, going back to school and more.
This post was contributed by Britney Wilkins, who writes about the online universities. She welcomes your feedback at BritneyWilkins81 at

Friday, July 17, 2009

VA to Reduce Spending Increase Accountability

Secretary Shinseki Announces Next Steps in Technology Advancements to
Reduce Wasteful Spending and Increase Accountability

Initial 45 Projects Targeted for New Department-Wide Management System

WASHINGTON (July 17, 2009) - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
announced today that it will temporarily halt 45 information technology
projects which are either behind schedule or over budget. These
projects will be reviewed, and it will be determined whether these
projects should be continued.

"Leveraging the power of Information Technology to accelerate and
modernize the delivery of benefits and services to our nations Veterans
is essential to transforming VA to a 21st century organization that is
people-centric, results-driven and forward thinking," Secretary of
Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said.

Secretary Shinseki ordered a review of the department's 300 IT projects
and implementation of the PMAS, designed to increase the department's
accountability for IT projects.

Each of the 45 projects will be temporarily halted. No further
development will occur and expenditures will be minimized. A new
project plan that meets the requirements of Program Management
Accountability System (PMAS) must be created by the project manager and
approved by VA's Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology
before resuming.

"VA has a responsibility to the American people, who are investing
millions of dollars in technology projects, to deliver quality results
that adhere to a budget and are delivered on time." Shinseki said.
"They need to have confidence that the dollars they are spending are
being effectively used to improve the lives of our Veterans."

PMAS is a management protocol that requires projects to establish
milestones to deliver new functionality to its customers. Failure to
meet set deadlines indicates a problem within the project. Under PMAS,
a third missed customer delivery milestone is cause for the project to
be halted and re-planned.

"Our goal is to increase our success rate for our systems development
projects," Roger W. Baker, VA's Assistant Secretary for Information and
Technology, said. "We will use every tool at our disposal to bring
about greater accountability and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being
spent wisely. PMAS and the IT Dashboard will be critical indicators of
whether our IT projects are on schedule and on budget, and if they are
not, we will take swift action to cut down on waste and redundancy."

PMAS, in conjunction with the analytical tools available through the IT
Dashboard, will ensure early identification and correction of
problematic IT projects. The IT Dashboard <>
, launched last month, is a one-stop clearinghouse of information,
allowing the American people to track federal information technology
initiatives and hold the government accountable for progress and

Over the next year, all IT projects at VA will be required to move to

The Obama Administration has made management reform a key
government-wide priority. From IT accountability to personnel and
contracting reforms, the administration is committed to providing better
value, efficiency, and effectiveness for taxpayers' dollars.

Below is a complete list of all projects temporarily halted under PMAS
at this time:

o Scheduling Replacement

o Laboratory System Reeingeering Project (LSRP)

o Pharmacy Re-Engineering Pre .5

o Health Data Repository (HDR) II

o Pharmacy Re-Engineering Pre1.0

o HeVet Middleware Services

o Person Service Identity Management

o Administrative Data Repository (ADR)

o Document & Ancillary Imaging

o Clinical Data Service

o VA Learning Management

o Home Telehealth (HT) Development

o Occupational Health Record Keeping System (OHRS)

o Enrollment System Redesign (ESR) v4

o CHDR - Chemistry & Hematology: ADC Automation

o Clinical Flow Sheet - CLIO

o E-Gov: E-Training

o Barcode Expansion

o Delivery Service

o Organization Service

o Enrollment System Redesign (ESR) v3.1

o Health Data Repository (HDR) Data Warehouse

o Home Telehealth (HT) Infrastructure Enhancements

o Radiology Outside Reporting

o BCMA Inpatient Medication Request for SFG IRA

o Blood Bank - VBECS v1.0

o Prosthetics Enhancements

o VIC (Veterans Identification Card) Development

o Spinal Cord Injury & Disorders Outcomes v3.0

o Radiology HL7 Interface Update

o Ward Drug Dispensing Equipment (WDDE) Interface

o Lab Data Sharing & Interoperability (LDSI) - Anatomic

o HBPC Medical Foster Home (MFH)

o eClaims Plus

o ASISTS Modification - Case Management

o National Teleradiology Program

o CAPRI Enhancements

o Master Patient Index

o RMS - Rights Management Server

o National Teleradiology Program

o Problem List Standardization

o Radiology Standardization

o LDSI Terminology Support

o Clinical/Health Data Repositories (CHDR) Phase II

o Fee Data and HERO

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

IAVA Report on Females in the Military Due Out

Dear Sean,

If you blinked, you might have missed it.With the media still covering
Michael Jackson's death, and the circus surrounding reality TV stars
Jon and Kate Gosselin, you might have missed an important story that
broke this week.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of
Congress, released a stunning new report detailing significant
barriers faced by many female veterans when accessing VA care. Some of
the crucial findings include:

• Privacy standards for women veterans at VA facilities aren't being met.•

Comprehensive primary care is still not available for women veterans
at all hospitals and clinics.•

The VA still has shortages of qualified women's health and mental
health care providers. This is unacceptable. With more women serving
than ever, the VA must work to ensure they receive the care they've

Female troops have shown incredible courage in defending our country,
and are entitled to the same support and recognition as their male

We want you to know IAVA is working every day to make this a reality.
We're on the front lines on Capitol Hill and in the media, fighting
for better care and benefits, and ensuring that women's issues are a
top priority.

Next month, we're releasing a groundbreaking Issue Report on women in
the military, based on extensive research and the experiences of IAVA
Member Veterans.

Want to be the first to read it? Sign up for mobile alerts by texting
REPORT to 69866. We'll send you a text message as soon as the report

Thank you for standing with us.


Paul Rieckhoff
Executive Director & Founder
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)P.S. Click here to
read the full GAO report and more about women veterans.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Letter to the Family of Lt. Bradshaw, Died Same Day as MJ, May They Find Comfort

A Soldier Comes Home
Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On July 5, The Post published a letter from Martha Gillis of Springfield [Va.], whose nephew, Lt. Brian Bradshaw, was killed in Afghanistan on June 25, the day that Michael Jackson died. The letter criticized the extensive media coverage of Jackson's death compared with the brief coverage of Lt. Bradshaw's death. Among the responses was the following letter, written July 9 by an Air National Guard pilot and a fellow member of the crew that flew Lt. Bradshaw's body from a forward base in Afghanistan to Bagram Air Base. Capt. James Adair, one of the plane's pilots, asked the editorial page staff to forward the letter to the Bradshaw family. He and Brian Bradshaw's parents then agreed to publication of these excerpts.

Dear Bradshaw Family,

We were crew members on the C-130 that flew in to pick up Lt. Brian Bradshaw after he was killed. We are Georgia Air National Guardsmen deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. We support the front-line troops by flying them food, water, fuel, ammunition and just about anything they need to fight. On occasion we have the privilege to begin the final journey home for our fallen troops. Below are the details to the best of our memory about what happened after Brian's death.

We landed using night-vision goggles. Because of the blackout conditions, it seemed as if it was the darkest part of the night. As we turned off the runway to position our plane, we saw what appeared to be hundreds of soldiers from Brian's company standing in formation in the darkness. Once we were parked, members of his unit asked us to shut down our engines. This is not normal operating procedure for that location. We are to keep the aircraft's power on in case of maintenance or concerns about the hostile environment. The plane has an extremely loud self-contained power unit. Again, we were asked whether there was any way to turn that off for the ceremony that was going to take place. We readily complied after one of our crew members was able to find a power cart nearby. Another aircraft that landed after us was asked to do the same. We were able to shut down and keep lighting in the back of the aircraft, which was the only light in the surrounding area. We configured the back of the plane to receive Brian and hurried off to stand in the formation as he was carried aboard.

Brian's whole company had marched to the site with their colors flying prior to our arrival. His platoon lined both sides of our aircraft's ramp while the rest were standing behind them. As the ambulance approached, the formation was called to attention. As Brian passed the formation, members shouted "Present arms" and everyone saluted. The salute was held until he was placed inside the aircraft and then the senior commanders, the sergeant major and the chaplain spoke a few words.

Afterward, we prepared to take off and head back to our base. His death was so sudden that there was no time to complete the paperwork needed to transfer him. We were only given his name, Lt. Brian Bradshaw. With that we accepted the transfer. Members of Brian's unit approached us and thanked us for coming to get him and helping with the ceremony. They explained what happened and how much his loss was felt. Everyone we talked to spoke well of him -- his character, his accomplishments and how well they liked him. Before closing up the back of the aircraft, one of Brian's men, with tears running down his face, said, "That's my platoon leader, please take care of him."

We taxied back on the runway, and, as we began rolling for takeoff, I looked to my right. Brian's platoon had not moved from where they were standing in the darkness. As we rolled past, his men saluted him one more time; their way to honor him one last time as best they could. We will never forget this.

We completed the short flight back to Bagram Air Base. After landing, we began to gather our things. As they carried Brian to the waiting vehicle, the people in the area, unaware of our mission, stopped what they were doing and snapped to attention. Those of us on the aircraft did the same. Four soldiers who had flown back with us lined the ramp once again and saluted as he passed by. We went back to post-flight duties only after he was driven out of sight.

Later that day, there was another ceremony. It was Bagram's way to pay tribute. Senior leadership and other personnel from all branches lined the path that Brian was to take to be placed on the airplane flying him out of Afghanistan. A detail of soldiers, with their weapons, lined either side of the ramp just as his platoon did hours before. A band played as he was carried past the formation and onto the waiting aircraft. Again, men and women stood at attention and saluted as Brian passed by. Another service was performed after he was placed on the aircraft.

For one brief moment, the war stopped to honor Lt. Brian Bradshaw. This is the case for all of the fallen in Afghanistan. It is our way of recognizing the sacrifice and loss of our brothers and sisters in arms. Though there may not have been any media coverage, Brian's death did not go unnoticed. You are not alone with your grief. We mourn Brian's loss and celebrate his life with you. Brian is a true hero, and he will not be forgotten by those who served with him.

We hope knowing the events that happened after Brian's death can provide you some comfort.


Capt. James Adair
Master Sgt. Paul Riley
GA ANG 774 EAS Deployed

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Band Of Brothers Hero, Darrell ‘Shifty’ Powers Dies

Band Of Brothers Hero, Darrell 'Shifty' Powers Dies

Published: June 20, 2009

"The world depended on them. They depended on each other." That was
the tagline for "Band of Brothers" – an award-winning 2001 HBO
mini-series drama on the World War II experiences of Easy Company, a
U.S. Army unit that fought bravely and fiercely across Europe. But for
Bristol's Margo Johnson – daughter of Darrell "Shifty" Powers, one of
the soldiers depicted in "Band of Brothers" – two more lines could be
added to describe her heroic father: "The world truly admired Darrell
Powers. I absolutely adored him." "I loved everything about my daddy,"
Johnson said. "He never bragged about what he did in the war. And for
a lot of years, he never even talked much about what he did – unless
someone asked him about it. "But he truly was a hero to me," Johnson
said. "Just like he'd been to the people who know him as a soldier in
a [mini-series]."

Powers, a Dickenson County native, died earlier this week at age 86
following a battle with cancer. His funeral service will be held today
in Clintwood. "He was a brave man, even to the end of his life,"
Johnson said of her father. "He's helping me be brave now, too."
Bravery – and dignity – was a constant, running thread in the life of
"Shifty" Powers, both during and after his life as an Army
sharpshooter in the actual "Band of Brothers."
During the war, he fought brutal battles against the German army
across France and Belgium. After the war, Powers served as an eloquent
representative for the men he fought with: At one point during the
"Band of Brothers" mini-series, he appeared on camera to talk in
moving, humane fashion about his grim but necessary task during the
war – killing the enemy. And, too, Powers served as a loyal, steadfast
representative for the country he fought for: from graciously meeting
with a former enemy German soldier to eagerly accepting any chance to
speak with modern-day members of the U.S. military. Ivan Schwarz, a
producer on the "Band of Brothers" HBO series, remembers Powers as a
"kind, generous soul with a great sense of humor." "Shifty was an
incredibly humble human being," said Schwarz, now executive director
of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission in Cleveland, Ohio. "He was
like most of the other [Easy Company] soldiers we met for the series.
They were good guys who were kind of shocked that, 50 years later,
people were making a big deal over them for just doing their duty.
"That's exactly how [Powers] was, too,"

Schwarz said. Attempts were unsuccessful to reach Peter Youngblood
Hills – the English actor who portrayed Powers in the "Band of
Brothers" miniseries, through both HBO and his former publicity firm,
Hamilton Hodell in London, England.

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Passing of Shifty Powers

Memorial Service: you're invited.

A REAL substitute for the "Pop Icon" insanity...

Shifty volunteered for the airborne in WWII and served with Easy
Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st
Airborne Infantry. If you've seen Band of Brothers on HBO or the
History Channel, you know Shifty. His character appears in all 10
episodes, and Shifty himself is interviewed in several of them.

I met Shifty in the Philadelphia airport several years ago. I didn't
know who he was at the time. I just saw an elderly gentleman having
trouble reading his ticket. I offered to help, assured him that he was
at the right gate, and noticed the "Screaming Eagle", the symbol of
the 101st Airborne, on his hat.

Making conversation, I asked him if he'd been in the 101st Airborne or
if his son was serving. He said quietly that he had been in the 101st.
I thanked him for his service, then asked him when he served, and how
many jumps he made.

Quietly and humbly, he said "Well, I guess I signed up in 1941 or so,
and was in until sometime in 1945 . . . " at which point my heart

At that point, again, very humbly, he said "I made the 5 training
jumps at Toccoa, and then jumped into Normandy . . . . do you know
where Normandy is?" At this point my heart stopped.

I told him yes, I know exactly where Normandy was, and I know what
D-Day was. At that point he said "I also made a second jump into
Holland , into Arnhem ..." I was standing with a genuine war hero . .
. . and then I realized that it was June, just after the anniversary
of D-Day.

I asked Shifty if he was on his way back from France , and he said
"Yes. And it's real sad because these days so few of the guys are
left, and those that are, lots of them can't make the trip." My heart
was in my throat and I didn't know what to say.

I helped Shifty get onto the plane and then realized he was back in
Coach, while I was in First Class. I sent the flight attendant back to
get him and said that I wanted to switch seats. When Shifty came
forward, I got up out of the seat and told him I wanted him to have
it, that I'd take his in coach.

He said "No, son, you enjoy that seat. Just knowing that there are
still some who remember what we did and still care is enough to make
an old man very happy." His eyes were filling up as he said it. And
mine are brimming up now as I write this.

Shifty died on June 17 after fighting cancer.

There was no parade.

No big event in Staples Center .

No wall to wall back to back 24x7 news coverage.

No weeping fans on television.

And that's not right.

Let's give Shifty his own Memorial Service, online, in our own quiet
way. Please forward this email to everyone you know. Especially to the

Rest in peace, Shifty.

"A nation without heroes is nothing."
(Roberto Clemente)

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Monday, July 13, 2009

N.D.’s contribution to the Cold War

Kevin Bonham - 07/11/2009

COOPERSTOWN, N.D. — While President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev were negotiating a preliminary agreement this past week to further cut the American and Russian nuclear arsenals, Mark Sunlov was putting the final touches on a monument to North Dakota’s contribution to the Cold War. Sunlov is site manager of the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historical Site, a remote outpost known as Oscar-Zero on the edge of the scenic Sheyenne River Valley, surrounded by miles and miles of fields of wheat, corn and soybeans. The site will open to the public for the first time at 10 a.m. Monday. Oscar-Zero and November-33, a missile silo two miles east of Cooperstown, are the last remnants of the 321st Missile Wing, a cluster of intercontinental ballistic launch sites that were spread over a 6,500-square-mile area around the Grand Forks Air Force Base that stretched from near the U.S.-Canadian border to Interstate 94. This missile launch control facility is one of 15 in eastern North Dakota that closed in 1997 as a condition of the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Each facility controlled 10 Minuteman III missiles armed with as many as three nuclear warheads aimed at the former Soviet Union, “From a history standpoint, it’s a gem,” Sunlov said, as he straightened stacks of magazines — Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated and Sports Afield, all dated 1997 — in a recreation room setting of chairs, couches and a television. “It’s almost like a time capsule,” Sunlov said. “The feeling was that they just picked up their personal bags and just left. Everything is here, and most of it is usable. The only trouble is the mice moved in when the Air Force moved out.”

Nuclear deterrent

The process of preserving a nuclear missile launch facility has been in the works since before they closed, according to Al Berger, a military history professor at UND and current president of the State Historical Society of North Dakota. “It’s much the same as preserving a site like Fort Totten,” he said. Fort Totten State Historic Site is one of four preserved military posts built in the 1860s in what is now North Dakota to protect overland and river routes used by immigrants settling the West. In the Cold War period, the nuclear missiles served as fortification — modern-day forts — against the constant threat of war from the Soviet Union. Because of the missile fields, North Dakota commonly was called the world’s third largest nuclear power. “It represented a powerful deterrent against a power from attacking us with nuclear weapons,” Berger said. “Ultimately, it was mutually assured destruction — the idea that whoever started throwing missiles first might destroy the target, but they most assuredly would be destroyed in the end. If you attack us, you will die. So, why commit suicide?” The United States’ nuclear weapon system was part of a complex formula to make that work, he said. “In as sense, it’s an ironic coincidence that we’re opening it in the same month that Robert McNamara died,” Berger said. McNamara served as Secretary of Defense from 1961 to 1968, under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Besides being considered the chief architect of the Vietnam War, he was a key player in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when Soviet nuclear missiles were discovered in Cuba and the world teetered on the threshold of nuclear war for 13 days.

“The peace workers are part of the story of that missile center, too,” Berger said. “There were critics of the nuclear weapon program, including here.” The Red River Valley Peace Workers was an organization formed after the 1982 UND Peace Conference for the purpose of informing and involving the public “in the quest for peace.” Over the years, small groups of nuclear war protesters conducted demonstrations at nuclear missile silos around the region. In 1988, Nukewatch, a peace activist group based in Wisconsin published a book called “Nuclear Heartland: A guide to the 1,000 missile silos in the United States.” The 96-page book featured roadmaps to the missile sites, which also were given nicknames such as “Peaceless”, “Friendly Facism” and “We’ll Help You Leave” missiles. Missileer’s life Sunlov knows, as much as anybody, just how fresh history is here. The U.S. Air Force Academy graduate spent five years of his military career as a missileer, from 1998 to 2003, the last four years at Minot Air Force Base, which still has 150 nuclear missiles on alert for any potential nuclear threat. Like other missileers, he spent shifts that lasted as long as four days living in a capsule 80 feet underground, just like Oscar-Zero, as a deputy commander and as a commander, the ones who might, at any time, be given the order to launch a nuclear warhead. It actually takes four people at a minimum to launch a missile, two at the missile site and two at another one. “The idea that one person could launch a nuclear missile is pretty far-fetched,” Sunlov said. “It’s even impossible for one crew to do it.” When he left the Air Force, Sunlov went to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he earned a history and museum studies degree. His first job out of school was at Fort Buford State Historic Site near Williston, N.D. Then, the Oscar-Zero job was created. “It’s kind of a strange full circle for me,” Sunlov said. Eight people normally are stationed at a launch control facility at a time — two 3-person missileer crews, a cook and a facility manager. The topside or ground-level floor consists of living quarters with several bedrooms, a large kitchen, living room and recreation room. The command post — capsule, as missileers call it — is located down a fortified elevator shaft, 60 to 90 feet below ground. The command post is a concrete building, about 50 feet long and 30 feet wide, suspended in the ground by giant shock absorbers, which measure 2 feet in diameter by 20 feet in length. It is accessible only by elevator and through a 4-foot-thick concrete blast door equipped with steel rods that seal the unit once the door is closed. One half of underground bunker contains the equipment and facility operations equipment, the other with the missile control center. Inside the missile control center, the commander and deputy commander sit at seat-belt-equipped airline pilot-like captain’s chairs in front of separate control stations filled with what look like ancient electronics boards. The station contains buttons, levers and lights labeled: “enabled,” “Lch in process” and “Missile away.” Possibilities The Cold War was thawing by the time Sunlov became a missileer. But nuclear threats still exist. Sunlov was just about at the end of a four-day shift in an underground bunker in rural Minot on Sept. 11, 2001, when he and his deputy commander watched on television as the first airplane hit the Twin Towers in New York City. “Then we watched the second plane hit,” he said. “We had some procedures to go through, but it was just readiness. You do start to prepare the capsule for war. If you get the order, you’re either ready or you’re not.” He didn’t leave the capsule until Friday – a full week in the underground bunker. “You think about nuclear war quite a bit,” he said. “Would you survive? What about your family? You don’t dwell on it, but you definitely think about it.” He and his deputy also pondered the small round door high on a wall above the commander’s station that leads to a last-chance escape hatch, a tunnel, filled with sand. If they ever were stuck in the capsule during a nuclear attack, after a certain amount of time they were supposed to dig their way through the tunnel to the outdoors above them. “We always wondered if the door would open,” he said, “And if it did, where it would lead. We always joked it was probably paved over and we’d be stuck down there, forever.” These days, Sunlov is more than happy to spend time in that bunker, giving visitors a first-hand look at what it was like not only to live near nuclear missiles in the North Dakota soil, but to eat and sleep just inches from their controls. Still, while Oscar-Zero and 14 other facilities like it in eastern North Dakota have been silenced, 150 other nuclear missiles barely 100 miles to the west remain on alert. “It seems like we’re halfway through a process that hasn’t been completed yet,” Berger said. “We’ve drawn down the tensions enough.

We feel we need far fewer warheads than we had before. “I suppose the most significance that you could contribute to the missile facility is that it’s closed,” he added, “that we don’t need it anymore — or at least that’s what the treaty says.”

Ronald reagan minuteman missile state historic site Oscar-Zero Missile Alert Facility A grand opening is planned July 31-Aug. 1, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m., July 31. The State Historical Society expects many former Air Force missileers to be on hand for the event. Location: Four miles north of Cooperstown, N.D., along N.D. Highway 45. Hours: Through Sept. 15, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily; Sept. 16-Oct. 31 and March 1-May 15, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday, Thursday and Saturday, 1-5 p.m., Sunday; Nov. 1-Feb. 28, by appointment only. Guided Tours. Cost: $10, adult; $3, child; $2 per person, groups of 20 or more; $40 for groups of 20 or less. Admission free to members of the Friends of Oscar-Zero, or members of the State Historical Society of North Dakota Foundation. November-33 Launch Facility Location: Two miles east of Cooperstown, N.D., along N.D. Highway 200. What to see: Topside view of launch facility; launch closure door that once protected a missile; security fence and electronic security system and ventilation systems that served the underground buildings. Interpretive signs will be available to tell the history.

Reach Bonham at (701) 780-1110; (800) 477-6572, ext. 110; or send e-mail to

Friday, July 10, 2009

VA to Develop Miramar

VA Secretary Announces $1 Million to Develop New Miramar Annex

WASHINGTON (July 10, 2009) - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has
awarded nearly $1 million to a small business to begin expanding
burial services for Veterans in the San Diego area by developing the
new Miramar Annex.

"VA is committed to providing the best possible service to the Veterans
of southern California by developing new burial areas and building
permanent facilities at the Miramar Annex," Secretary of Veterans
Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said.

The Miramar Annex will be part of the area's Fort Rosecrans National
Cemetery. VA awarded Van Dyke Landscape Architects the
architect-engineer contract totaling $961,000 to develop additional
gravesites and infrastructure. This design project is scheduled for
completion this fall.

When completed, the new designs for the project will provide 11,700
conventional gravesites, 10,300 columbaria niches and 4,900 in-ground
cremation sites. The project will also include an administration
building, a maintenance complex, two committal service shelters and a
public assembly area, as well as an irrigation system, roads,
signage and landscaping.

In the midst of the largest cemetery expansion since the Civil War, VA
operates 128 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico and 33
soldiers' lots and monument sites. More than three million Americans,
including Veterans of every war and conflict - from Revolutionary War
to the Global War on Terror - are buried in VA's national

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