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EyeWASHINGTON When the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, America sought retribution and finally took up arms. It wasn't until almost three years later that the country would receive its final closure.
In October 1944, Navy Cross recipient and fighter ace William E. "Bill" Davis participated in a bombing run on the Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku, the last remaining aircraft carrier afloat that had taken part in the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Davis recalled the harrowing experience during a Dec. 8 "DOD Live" bloggers roundtable."There were two clouds forming, one at 10,000 feet and one at about 4,000 feet, of continuously exploding shells, and I knew there was no chance to fly through that and come out the other end," he said. "But I still didn't care. I was going to get my hit. I went down, went through both clouds without taking a single hit, which is hard to imagine, and went fairly low. I pulled the release and pulled out, and of course, blacked out." Moments later, Davis said, he came to. "Blood came back to my brain, or what was left of it, and I could see again, and I was actually clipping the spray from the waves," he recalled. "Another five feet would have done it. But I had not been hit." Despite that miraculous escape, the pilot was not out of harm's way yet. "I was kind of marveling that I was still alive," he said. "But I looked up and saw that I was flying into the side of a Japanese ship, the Oyodo. Before I hit the ship, I rolled the plane on its side, and went through between the No. 2 gun turret and the bridge. And I could see the Japanese crew in on the bridge manning the wheel, all in dress whites. I have a feeling that that was because they expected to die that day." Having survived the run unscathed and earning the Navy Cross, Davis settled down with his family in California. Drives to the Sierra Mountains for annual ski trips inspired him to tell his story in book form. "At that time, it was before FM radio and so forth," he said. "You couldn't get anything the other side of the Sierra. So we were driving up and one of my daughters said, 'Daddy, tell us war stories.' And I hadn't thought of telling them, and it became a routine. When we went skiing, I told stories going up and back. And finally, I had to tell more and more." While looking back at all his experiences may have been a bit challenging, Davis said, he had a little help from diaries he kept during the war. "I didn't know we weren't allowed to keep diaries," he said. "Somehow that directive missed me. So I had something to work from and a map of all of our movements throughout the Pacific." The resulting book, "Sinking the Rising Sun," documents Davis' service in the Navy, his experiences in World War II, and even his first time in an airplane. "At the time I volunteered for the Naval Air Corps, I'd never been in an airplane," he admitted. The book has received favorable reviews, and the 89-year-old former pilot is considering opportunities to promote his memoir. "I haven't made it to a bigtime, on-camera interview with any of the talk shows, which I would love to do," he said. Dec. 13, 2010: By Jian DeLeon- Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity Article Redistributed by Support Our Troops Redistributed by
[caption id="attachment_4786" align="alignleft" width="300"]Sal_Giunta_4_MOH_065 Bravo Bulls at 11-16-2010 Reception for Medal of Honor Recipient Sal Giunta[/caption] Support Our Troops® is pleased to have played a modest background facilitative and supportive role in the reception honoring Sal Giunta following presentment of the Medal of Honor upon him in D.C. on November 16, 2010.
Following the presentment, friends and family and Sal Giunta's unit, the Bravo Bulls, gathered for a reception at the Sheraton in DC. The reception was thought up and organized by the proud and loving relatives of Sal Giunta.The role of SupportOurTroops.Org consisted of assisting in the gathering of donations in support of the event. We also made a supporting contribution toward the reception costs, and were able to facilitate the gathering of about half of those costs to assist those organizing the event. The prime mover of the reception was Mike Giunta, who did all the heavy lifting to proudly get this done for his relative and the Bravo Bulls who were returned to the U.S. in order to be able to participate in the ceremony and the reception.One of the things SupportOurTroops.Org does is act behind the scenes to bridge various gaps in many special types of situations that arise in which expertise and facilitation is needed in order to benefit members of the military. Support Our Troops Inc., provides artful, confidential, behind-the-scenes support in a variety of situations benefiting the deployed troops. The picture in this article was taken right after the Bravo Bulls very cool punch bowl ceremony at the Medal of Honor reception November 16, 2010. We had something to do with the punch bowl ceremony. One of the bravo Bulls members is going write up that and other reception events and get them to us to post. So watch for it. The thing about people like Sal Giunta is, they're actually embarrassed by all of the attention. They don't seek out public reward or approbation, and would prefer to simply keep going on about their business unpublicized. When attention or award is focused upon them to set an example for others, they accept it humbly on behalf of others they know would do the same, and then promptly go back about their business. These are what you call real men and real women. To be sure, modest as Sal Giunta is, the Bravo Bulls are all proud of their fellow soldier. America has every right to be proud of him, and we're grateful to have been able to assist in a modest background role with the event for them all.  The interesting thing about protectors and defenders like Sal Giunta is that doing good is routine for them and will remain their habit for the rest of their lives. When their military duties are done, they will come home and set about doing good works amongst and benefiting us all.  You probably won't know who they are and what they've done unless someone else tells you.  America is unique in the world, giving birth to more of this type of man and woman than any other nation. Those willing to actually step forward at risk to themselves and act for the sake of Good and Right.  And we at home in turn have a duty to keep our national house in order while are neighbors are off protecting it and doing good in the world. May God bless and watch over each and every one of our wonderful American troops. Martin C. Boire, Chairman Support Our Troops® December 11, 2010.
ArmyNatlGuardWASHINGTON The military can be a lot of things to people looking to enlist. It can be a demonstration of patriotism, a college payment plan, or just a way to get out of town and start adulthood.
For Ryan Berkshire, it was all three.In January 2003, one semester before graduating from high school and two months prior to the start of the war in Iraq, Berkshire signed up with the Montana Army National Guard. The Guard gave him the long-term opportunity to pay for college, where he could study music, and the short-term opportunity to leave his hometown of Billings, Mont., for a while."The entire time you're in high school in Billings, you talk about getting out," Berkshire said. The National Guard and the Montgomery GI Bill, added, were the best options he had. "It was really more my need for money for college, and I kind of felt like I needed to earn my right to live in this country," he said. "There are so many people that say they're going to do big things, and I just wanted to be one who could say it and back it up." Shortly after receiving his high school diploma, Berkshire shipped off to boot camp and advanced training. He would end up serving the in the Guard for six years, followed by two years in the inactive ready reserve. He'll finish his service completely in January as a sergeant. By November 2003, Berkshire was leaving for Iraq as a cook with the 639th Quartermaster Company, a petroleum and basic supply company made up of soldiers from different Montana National Guard units who soon would become some of his closest friends. "For as much as you have to put up with, there are a lot of good times in the Guard, too," he said. Talil Air Base, near Nasiriyah, was his home and his work for the next 12 months in Iraq. He worked in a cycle of eight 12-hour days followed by a day off, supervising kitchen contractors brought in from India, Pakistan and Nepal, ensuring they were following military sanitation and food preparation standards. "Alongside my duties in the dining facility, I did some guard duty," he said. "I had to escort kitchen employees to the nearby Korean hospital for medical checkups and a lot of escorting food from the gate to the dining facility and back." It was during the trips to the nearby civilian hospital, operated by South Korean forces for local Iraqis and contracted civilians on base, that gave Berkshire increased pride about the American mission in Iraq, he said. He spoke with local families who were appreciative of the U.S. and coalition military presence, he recalled, and they were getting medical services and humanitarian aid they hadn't received in years under Saddam Hussein. "To see these kids and their parents who were so appreciative of us being there, that was it for me. It really meant a lot," he said. "It gave me purpose for the rest of the time I was there." Berkshire said he felt frustrated for a long time by a widening gap between public opinion and his own experience in Iraq. Though he "wasn't in the worst situation" - his base was mortared only a few times a week and received direct missile fire only a handful of times during his tour - he heard conflicting reports of conditions in the country when he turned on the news. "It wasn't like Baghdad, where there was constant fire," he said. "I had a pretty easy time compared to other servicemembers who had more high-intensity [jobs]. I consider myself pretty lucky." Berkshire experienced difficulty when he returned to the United States and attended college, he said, where he was surrounded by opinionated people, for and against the war, who never would have dreamed of experiencing the war first-hand. "There are a lot of people in America that hear things, but unless you actually experience it, you don't really have anything to say," he said. "I'm one of the few people who saw how it actually is over there." Berkshire said both sides of the argument were right and wrong about certain things. It was a difficult time, he acknowledged, but he added that he felt the military did a lot to mitigate the stresses of combat. The morale, welfare and recreation facilities on base, he said, helped the troops "keep their heads on their shoulders." "They had a Burger King trailer and a Pizza Hut trailer, they had welfare centers where we could watch movies and play video games," he said. "They had a lot set up so it didn't have to be such a difficult or dark place." Berkshire said it took a while after he returned from Iraq to come to terms with the fact that most people around him hadn't served, and would never serve. He said he felt as if he was part of a minority because he believed he needed to give something back to his country. "When I came back from Iraq, I had the same problem trying to figure out who I was," he said. "For a while, I felt like I had a superiority complex, because I was one of only a handful of individuals that actually went out and did something for this country. I really feel like I'm an American citizen, because I served." In the end, Berkshire said, he served in the military because he wanted to. Soldiering isn't a job that's performed for the glory, he said, and it doesn't make you a better or worse person whether you'd served in the military or not. "I've had people buy me food, buy dinners and drinks, because I'm a veteran," he said. "I don't want praise for it. That's not what I'm looking for. I just want to be able to say I did my part at the end of the day. It's the small things that matter to me." ("Veterans' Reflections" is a collection of stories of men and women who served their country in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and the present-day conflicts. They will be posted throughout November in honor of Veterans Day.) Nov. 29, 2010: By Ian Graham- Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
[caption id="attachment_3231" align="alignleft" width="225"]150px-Seal_of_the_US_Air_Force Seal of the United States Air Force[/caption]
WASHINGTON Like a lot of people at that stage of their lives, Lisa Reed wasn't sure what she wanted to do in the late 1990s. After a year of ambiguity in community college, she said, she saw opportunity in the Air Force and enlisted in 1999.
Training was a bit of a shock, she admitted. Initially, she said, she was overwhelmed. As a woman, she found herself in a small minority at basic training. But that feeling subsided, she added, as she became close with her fellow servicemembers."At first, it was very obvious," she said. "All of a sudden, [the women] were completely outnumbered. As time went by, it became less noticeable." At one point, she was assigned to an F-15C squadron with 30 male fighter pilots. People certainly can face gender problems in the service, Reed said, but on the whole, it's like a family, and military camaraderie should not be taken lightly. It's hard to find that kind of friendship in the civilian world, she said, adding that the closeness people experience working together in the military is far beyond a normal co-worker relationship. "I looked at my male co-workers as family members," she said, "and my female co-workers as my sisters." In August 2001, Reed was sent to Kuwait. She did intelligence work for a fighter squadron watching the no-fly zone over Iraq as part of Operation Southern Watch. A month into her deployment, her mission changed drastically. None of her military training, she said, had equipped her for the events of Sept. 11, 2001. "It was hard, seeing something like that happen to your country, your friends, your family, while you're in a foreign country," she said. "You feel helpless. Even though there wasn't anything anybody could do, there's still a feeling like you can't do anything to help. It's surreal." The no-fly zone took second chair. Operation Southern Watch was set aside for Operation Enduring Freedom. Reed's job was to compile and deliver messages to her commander. She primarily dealt with threats pilots could face in the air. "Basically, I would go through terrorism-related message traffic and report to the base commander in the war room about possible threats," she said. Both of her parents had served in the Air Force, Reed said, so she was accustomed to the military lifestyle. In fact, she said, she wanted the travel opportunities the military would provide her. Since she left the service in 2003, she has traveled in India and Tibet as well as across the United States. "Whenever you travel to a different place, it sets a specific chapter in your life," she said. "It makes that time in your life, the people you meet there, and the things that happen very memorable." Her time in service is memorable, she said, because of the events that happened while she was in uniform, and because of the value she places on her service. "Being a veteran means you've given up part of your life and the comforts of 'normal' life for your country, and for the people you serve with," Reed said. "You put your personal comforts aside for a few years. It says a lot about someone's character, that they can put their life in someone else's hands and work in a team setting with them." ("Veterans' Reflections" is a collection of stories of men and women who served their country in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and the present-day conflicts. They will be posted throughout November in honor of Veterans Day.) Nov. 26, 2010: By Ian Graham- Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
[caption id="attachment_4397" align="alignleft" width="300"]MilitaryProvidesConduit11242010 John McAllister, a veteran who served both in the National Guard and the U.S. Air Force, stands at the World War II Memorial in Washington. D.C., July 1, 2010. In an interview McAllister reflected on the dramatic impact military service has had on his life. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second Class William Selby[/caption] WASHINGTON As a child, John McAllister saw the military as a ticket to a new world, beyond anything his rural Midwestern home could offer.
"I'm from a small town in northern Minnesota, and it was a way to learn an occupation, and also to get out there and see some things besides the small town we grew up in," he said.His two older brothers had set the example for him, both joining the Army National Guard and then going into active service. It was easy to follow in their footsteps, because McAllister also had a strong desire to serve his country. "It all comes back to being grateful for what we have in this country, and being a representative of that when we're over there in these other countries," he said. In 1988, two years after joining the Army Guard, McAllister enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and went to its firefighter academy. His service would take him far, far away from Minnesota, around the U.S. and eventually to Guam, where he was stationed when Operation Desert Storm commenced. Though he was far from the war geographically, working at what he called a gas station for large-frame aircraft carrying people and equipment to the battlefield, he had close friends stateside who were departing for the war zone. "The day the ground war started in the Persian Gulf War happened to be my 22nd birthday; it was February 24, 1991," McAllister said. "I remember waking up the morning they were pushing in -- up to that point it had just been aerial bombings going on -- and I knew that it was my friends going into harm's way." "I was concerned about them, so I made a point after I left Guam to touch base with them, and to make sure they're all okay," he added. "I took a trip down from Minnesota to New Mexico, just to visit with them." McAllister said he recalls his military service with fondness. Without it, he said, his life would be drastically different. He wouldn't have met his wife in Greece, and he wouldn't have developed the lifelong friendships only the services' camaraderie can foster. "They're probably the best friendships you'll ever make, the ones you make in the military. The things you learn, the places you see, the people you get to know [are indispensible]," he said. (Veterans' Reflections is a collection of stories of men and women who served their country in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Shield and Desert Storm and present-day conflicts. They will be posted throughout November in honor of Veteran's Day.) Nov. 24, 2010: By Ian Graham- Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
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[caption id="attachment_4371" align="alignleft" width="300"]FriendshipsFormedIn11232010 John Teetz, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, discusses his time in the military during an interview at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., July 1, 2010. Teetz served in the Army from 2001-2004, and began basic training on Sept. 1, 2001, just 10 days before Sept. 11. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second Class William Selby[/caption] WASHINGTON Servicemembers and veterans savor the friendships they make with comrades during wartime, said John Teetz, an Army veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Teetz served in the Army from 2001-2004. Now living in Philadelphia, Pa., Teetz said he originally looked to the service for guidance. College wasn't giving him what he wanted, and he'd learned the merits of service from his family."I was in college, and I wanted something to do with my life," Teetz said. "My father was 'in,' my grandfather was 'in' Navy both of them. I'm not much on boats, and I wanted to do ground stuff, so I joined the Army."Teetz enlisted in August 2001 - his tenth day of basic combat training was Sept. 11, 2001. On that day, he said, the attitude at basic training changed drastically. For him, it meant a new drive. "It made me train harder," Teetz said. "A lot of people got scared, a lot of people got more focused - I guess I was one of the ones that got more focused." In 2003, Teetz deployed to Iraq to perform ground surveillance reconnaissance duties. It was in that dangerous, austere environment, he said, that he made some of his closest friends. "When we finally got electricity up and running, everybody sent off for different things we wanted. I sent for an Xbox, my friend sent for a TV, and pretty soon we had a 'Madden' season going." But his tour wasn't all fun and games. During his deployment, one of Teetz's close friends was hit by an improvised explosive device. "He had just had a kid, and it took a while to find out that he was okay. It was a scary time," Teetz said. After his Iraq deployment ended, Teetz was able to visit his friend in Germany. "He was still limping around on crutches, but it was good to see him and 'catch up,'" he said. That camaraderie, Teetz said, is what made going to war worth it for him, noting he still keeps in touch with his battle buddies from Iraq using online networks like Facebook. Teetz said his military service benefited him in another way. "The military made me the man I am today," he said. "I'm more on point, more responsible. It basically changed my life." (Veterans' Reflections is a collection of stories of men and women who served their country in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Shield and Desert Storm and present-day conflicts. They will be posted throughout November in honor of Veteran's Day.) Nov. 23, 2010: By Ian Graham- Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity