Fight for America

Fight for America

Fight for America

Fight for America

Returning war veterans have baffled and, at times, been a headache to politicians since the days of Alexander. The conflict between speaker and soldier is an enduring one—young people doing the bidding, whether it be well or ill-intentioned, of their elders, only to come home and be relegated to second-class citizenship.

Even in our own short history, American veterans have physically clashed with the very people who sent them to clash with others.

At the height of the Great Depression, thousands of WWI veterans converged on the National Mall to demand benefits promised to them for their service over a decade prior. These men, known as The Bonus Army, were responsible for ending the costliest war in human history, and when they demanded reimbursement (that, again, was promised to them) for their service they were met with teargas and batons. Mini-riots ensued, bigger names got involved, and a movement for veterans’ rights grew—which was a considerably new concept at the time.

Most of us are aware of the shameful treatment of Vietnam veterans during the 60s and 70s. They were unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of hatred for a war that continues to polarize Americans. They were spit on, called unrepeatable names, and bore the brunt of blame for an unpopular war—as if they had all been at the Gulf of Tonkin themselves. People continue to view that generation as broken, overlooking the fact that the majority of them were instrumental in a vast amount of economic growth in the 80s and 90s. Google men like Fred Smith and Bob Parsons and you’ll see how America would be a completely different place if it wasn’t for the ingenuity bred in the Vietnam War.

Now new generations of American war veterans are making their way home in a polarized society. These are men and women who, like their predecessors, come from every conceivable background and, like their predecessors, are close to being marginalized by a society that understands little about them, what they’ve accomplished, and the great things they’ve done and are capable of doing. The media and Hollywood portrays them as drug-addled, broken and prone to unprovoked violence. Obviously, like the aforementioned generations, statistics prove these depictions wrong.

I could cite numerous examples of American veterans getting trampled on by the Federal Government. But the point I’d like to make is that, no matter what, where, why and when, our Nation’s vets have continued to serve their people once they have taken off their uniforms. The reason why is very simple: They love their country.

That’s why they joined the military in the first place. You can’t stop loving your land just because you’re back in the private sector. You’ll always have that deep, inner drive to give back. We’ve seen that in organizations like Team Rubicon and Team Red, White & Blue—groups of veterans physically giving back to their communities. They pick up the slack when the Feds are incapable of performing—which, let’s face it, is often. Their contribution is organic and authentic.

I have a friend who is a municipal police officer in a mid-sized West Texas city. I served with this man in the military and have maintained a close friendship with him since then. He’s a fiercely independent person who, like many of us, has grown weary of the Federal Government’s encroachment into our lives. He’s tired of seeing politicians bicker while things fall apart. He puts his life and reputation on the line everyday—dealing with extremely violent Cartel members, cop-hating gang members, drunken oil heirs who have never worked a day in their lives and could easily lodge a fraudulent complaint against him, etc—to make his community a safer place to live.

He does this while people ignorantly clump him, a city beat cop, into the same category as people in DC who legislate our liberties away, simply because he wears a uniform that denotes authority—a local one at that. Yet he continues to serve. He truly believes that he is making his community a better place.

This friend is no different than the thousands of other veterans who have donned a uniform at one point or another. He has to give back. It’s ingrained in him. Squabbling about what to do is not good enough… We must show up and do it ourselves.

We understand that America may not always fight for us… But we will ALWAYS fight for her.

Fight for America

Fight for America

U.S. Navy Anchor

U.S. Navy Anchor

U.S. Navy Anchor
U.S. Navy Anchor
He who controls the seas, controls the world.
All great civilizations understood this
and built their societies around seafaring culture,
whether it was militarily,
 for exploration or for trade.

Hail to those brave souls
Carrying our colors at sea
So that the man on the ground
May have one more night of peace

U.S. Navy Anchor

U.S. Navy Anchor

Act of valor led to medals, awards

Act of valor led to medals, awards

By Danielle McLean
Maynard —

Robert R. Lee, nicknamed the “The General,” served two tours in the Vietnam War as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army and part of the Army’s elite 11th Armored Calvary Regiment, known as the Black Horse Troopers, between 1968 and 1971. In his first tour he was part of the Army’s M-48 A3 Tank force and in the second, was a helicopter door gunner.

He has earned several prestigious medals including a Purple Heart, a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with valor, an Army Accommodation Medal with valor, and numerous Air Medal Awards. He was a member of the Army Reserves for seven years after his time in Vietnam.
Lee has lived in Maynard for 40 years with his wife Angela Lee Cossette, working for the Digital Equipment Corporation for 20 years and then the U.S. Postal Service before retiring in 2008. He is still an active charter member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 116 out of Leominster.

What prompted you to enlist into the army?

 I originally got drafted. Then I was told I would stay home for another six months, so I changed my draft into an enlistment. That made it so for one extra year I could get specialty training instead of infantry training. Back in those days when you are 19 you are thinking, “I think I would rather be on a tank than an infantry soldier.” What did I know? Plus somebody mentioned going to Germany where all the girls are, so at 19 I enlisted for an extra year to make it three years and to get specialized training for armor.

What was the story behind your awards? What do they mean to you?

The Silver Star has always been something that has always meant a little extra to me, mainly because that day will always live in my memory as the day I probably should have got kicked in the butt instead of being pinned on a Silver Star.

Editor’s note: the Silver Star Medal is the third highest award for bravery in the U.S. military.

I did some things that I wasn’t sure I was capable of doing, but I knew I had to do and the outcome was the award. I was on an M-48 A3 tank and we were taking fire from both sides of us. Our tank got hit by a rocket propelled grenade and before I knew it the tank commander was down and severely wounded. Everyone was trying to communicate and we had our radios blown out by a rocket-propelled grenade.

I grabbed my personal weapon and I got help. While I was running to the next tank to let them know we’d been hit I stumbled onto an [enemy] bunker complex that was right in front of me. I decided to start shooting into it.

As the story goes, the guys in the helicopter were watching me with a set of binoculars saying, ‘who is that idiot playing John Wayne?’ For many years I tried to not play that in my mind because I know lots of people that got shot up and wounded that day, including myself. But then I came to the determination that it is something I should be proud of and I am proud of. So I decided to start talking about it and I found that talking about it brought me to a different place in my life.

We all love our country and we all love our brothers and each year around this time on Memorial Day we all remember the ones that didn’t come back.

Can you describe the bond you share with your fellow Vietnam veterans?

The bond is unbelievable. Yearly, we do a major reunion, last year in Orlando. We are all in our mid-60’s now and not a lot of them wanted to go to Orlando, but 1,200 of us showed up there to have dinner together and break bread and remember those that didn’t come back.

The reunion comes up once a year, this year it will be in Indianapolis. But we’ve been in all the major cities across the states. We’ve had 37 actual reunions and it took about 15 years for the thing to get going. Then 15 years later a lot of people still didn’t want to get back into reunion mode, but little by little a couple of guys, then a couple other guys come and are honored. We have guest speakers and we get together and have our time together. We are united.

How important is it for people to think about and honor our veterans?

I hope people don’t forget the sacrifice that these men make. I know I won’t.

How important is it for veterans like yourself to fight and stand up for this country?

In my mind it will always be America first and love of life and the freedom that we share because of all those guys and it will just always go on. The day I don’t see a Memorial Day parade, I hope I’m not here.

Decades after end of Vietnam War, US begins Agent Orange clean-up

By NBC News staff and wire reports

HANOI, Vietnam — Nearly four decades after the end of the Vietnam War, the United States and Vietnam on Thursday began cleaning up the toxic chemical Agent Orange on part of Danang International Airport.

The U.S. military sprayed up to 12 million gallons of the defoliant onto Vietnam’s jungles over a 10-year period during the war, and the question of compensation for the subsequent health problems is a major post-war issue.

Respiratory cancer and birth defects among both Vietnamese and U.S. veterans have been linked to exposure to Agent Orange.

Thursday marked the first time Washington has been involved in cleaning up Agent Orange in Vietnam.

Old enemies team up to battle Agent Orange

The U.S. government is providing $41 million to the project which will reduce the contamination level in 73,000 cubic meters of soil by late 2016, the ruling Vietnam Communist Party’s mouthpiece Nhan Dan daily said.

U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear said at a ceremony at the former American air base at Danang that the project showed that the two countries were “taking the first steps to bury the legacies of our past,” Voice of America (VOA) reported.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded contracts to two U.S. companies to work on the project along with Vietnam defense ministry officials, the U.S. Embassy said.

Danang in Vietnam’s central region is a popular tourist destination. During the Vietnam War, that ended in 1975, the beach city was used as a recreational spot for U.S. soldiers.

Return to Vietnam: Meeting a formerly faceless foe

Agent Orange was stored at Danang air base and sprayed from U.S. warplanes to expose northern communist troops and destroy their supplies in jungles along the border with Laos.

Over the next decade, other former U.S. air bases that stored Agent Orange are due to be cleaned up as well, VOA reported.

Reuters contributed to this report.