Thursday, November 12, 2009

2009 VETERAN'S DAY: Plus one

Yesterday was Veteran's Day. It was an honor to write a blog on the subject.

As a 16 year old in the WV National Guard it was frequently my honor to take part in the burial detail of fallen heros returned from World War II.

My Dad and my Great Grandfather have miltary grave stones. I am very proud of my country and those who have defended her.

I was ashamed for her, however, when, with the stripped down miltary under President Jimmy Carter, we could not mount a rescue attempt for the Iranian hostages. Not only could we not fly the helicopters across the dessert for the rescue, we also lost a C130 aircraft. People who hate our freedom and liberty gleefully filmed the remains of the helicopter and transport plane to show to the world.

Iran insulted and embarrassed the Carter administration, and our country, throughout his time in office. (Today they toy with President Obama). The day that President Reagan was sworn into office the decision was immediately made to release the hostages. Ronald Reagan was no Jimmy Carter! Yes, I was in New York to attend the ticker tape welcome home for the hostages.

The Normandy American Cemetary and Memorial is beautiful. I would love to pay my respects there some day.

I would also like to visit the grave in France of General George Smith Patton, one of my personal heros. I plan to visit his library in California.

I am further embarrassed, however, for my countries lack of response to the fallen heros whose locations are unknown. There were 74,000 unaccounted troops in World War II, 8,037 in Korea and 1,728 in Vietnam. The books were closed on the World War II missing in 1950--just five years after the end of the war. Five years for 74,000 mising! What about no troops left behind?

When the Vietnam Vets, the VFW and advocates like H. Ross Perot stirred the political pot, the search was started again but concentrating on unaccounted for Nam vets.

The Department of Defense Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) has a 400 person staff with a 55 million dollar annual budget. Yes, 55 million dollars a year to fund a 400 person effort. These people conduct expensive, high-tech and time consumming investigations all over the globe. The result? They find about 100 service members a year. With 83,765 missing finding 100 a year is insulting.

When remains are found there are no immediate response. I mean, there is no rush, right? There are 700 sets of remains at Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii waiting to be identified. Do the math. One hundred a year and 700 waiting to be identified. How sad!

What happens when the remains are found and this 55 million dollar-a-year group is notified? JPAC spokesman, Lt. Col. Wayne Perry explained that their "tight" budget requires a years planning to decide which lead to follow.

They expressed appreciation for being informed of the find of this plane, pictured left, which crashed in the jungles in 1944.

Staff Sgt. Alvin Lennox was the radioman on that Air Force cargo plane flying from India to China. His 66 year old son and 98 year old wife were informed by the private citizen that he had made the find.

Would it not bring some degree of peace and closure to have their father-husband's remains brought home and properly buried along with other fallen heros? Maybe. The JPAC, however, just put it on their list.

What anguish for this family who probably has problems understanding a "tight" budget with 55 million dollars to annualy fund a 400 person effort. You know what? I have problems understanding it also. Lots of problems.

This is an American dishonor. It is not a political matter. It has outlived both political parties many times.
Note: In March 2010 Staff Sgt. William C. Fetterman, whose remains were found with the above mentioned Burma plane crash, was brought home for proper burial.
God help us!

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