A Passion to Serve the People Who Have Served All of Us.
When I noticed a man wearing dark athletic shoes with stars on the back, I asked if there was a story behind the shoes. Yes, and it’s a compelling and far-reaching one!
A fellow blogger and friend, Joy Neal Kidney, has this great post on her site about a Marion [Iowa] Police Officer and U.S. Air Force veteran Ron Slagle and his family who designed a shoe so they could help first responders and military personnel with any mental health crisis they might be suffering.
Veterans Day is a day to thank all who have served our country in the United States Armed Forces. In the divisive climate we find ourselves in during these troubled days, I think it is important to remind ourselves what it means to be an American and why so many Americans have willingly served in the defense of Freedom, and many making the ultimate price to ensure our Freedoms continue.
In light of that, I thought I would share this poem I discovered by Lynne Carey
I was a proud veteran That served my country well To those that would listen I had many stories to tell.
We fought for America’s freedom In far away places on foreigh land. Wherever the battle for Democracy raged, America’s finest made a stand.
We fought for your future And the right to remain free. For we saw what freedom meant To those without Liberty.
For you and yours We would gladly have given our life. We faced the fears and perils of battle We braved endless turmoil and strife.
Please remember us veterans And the sacrifices we made for you. Please share the blessings of freedom. Proudly wave the red, white and blue.
Lynne Carey Copyright 2004
With Respect, Honor, and Gratitude, Thank You Veterans!
Marine tradition holds that the Marine Corps was formed in a bar. The story dates back to November 1775, when two newly commissioned Captains, Samuel Nicholas and Robert Mullan, reportedly organized the first Marine Corps muster at the Tun Tavern, a popular bar in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. According to the tale, the two officers enticed potential recruits with mugs of beer and the promise of adventure on the high seas.
These recruits made up the first five Marine Corps companies that served aboard Continental Navy warships. Some historians maintain that a pub called the Conestoga Wagon was the more likely recruitment site; however, that is also a bar, and so, this tale remains a part of Marine lore to this day.
The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia even features a restaurant appropriately named “Tun Tavern.”
Somehow, given the reputation of the US Marines as “life takers and heartbreakers,” this seems oddly entirely appropriate. I mean, how many other US military services can brag they were formed in a bar?
All joking aside, if you see a Marine today, wish them a Happy Birthday, and maybe buy them a beer!
Armed Forces Day is for those currently in uniform.
Veterans Day is for those who once wore the uniform.
Memorial Day is for those who never made it out of their uniform.
As you celebrate the beginning of summer, and try to put the stress and turmoil of 2020 behind you, take a moment to reflect on your freedoms and to thank those who fought and died to keep those freedoms intact and to protect them for others.
IT IS FOOLISH AND WRONG TO MOURN THE MEN WHO DIED. RATHER, WE SHOULD THANK GOD THAT SUCH MEN LIVED
On Oct. 27, 2019, Conan, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois military K9, played a key role in the Barisha raid, which resulted in the death of the ISIS leader. Conan is one more dog on a long list of our heroic military working dogs.
World War II
One famous K9 hero from WWII was Chips, a German Shepherd/Alaskan Husky/Collie mix donated by a New York family. Chips is credited with saving the lives of many U.S. soldiers and earned a Purple Heart and Silver Star. He once broke free from his handler and took out a sniper nest in Sicily, capturing four enemy soldiers.
Five years after WWII, the Korean War again demonstrated the value of military working dogs. Chiefly deployed on combat night patrols, they were hated by the North Koreans and Chinese because of their ability to ambush snipers, penetrate enemy lines, and sniff out enemy positions. The enemy propaganda teams began using loudspeakers to blast the message, “Yankee, take your dog and go home!”
Now, fast forward to Vietnam. This was a totally new environment and job description for these K9 warriors. Their duties became more widespread – scout, sentry, patrol, mine, and booby-trap detection. Like their predecessors in Korea, these four-legged soldiers were so hated by the Viet Cong that they attracted a $20,000 bounty for their capture.
Nemo, a German Shepherd, saved his handler, Robert Throneburg, during an enemy attack on Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Vietnam in 1966.
Thanks to politicians and the media, we exited Vietnam in too much of a hurry, and the military working dogs that served our forces so admirably and saved untold lives were left behind, classified as “surplus military equipment.” Despite the outrage and pleas from many handlers who were prepared to pay for their dog’s flight home, the military command would not permit it. Some dogs were transferred to the South Vietnamese military and police units that were not trained to handle them, and many others were euthanized. It is estimated that of 4,000 that served, about 200 made it back to the U.S.
Fortunately, that should never happen again. Following a huge public outcry led by many angry U.S. military-dog handlers, Congress passed “Robby’s Law” in 2000, allowing for the adoption of these dogs by law-enforcement agencies, former handlers, and others capable of caring for them.
Middle-Eastern War K9s
The hot, dusty desert and rugged mountains of Iraq and Afghanistan serve up new challenges for military K9s trained for explosive and drug detection, sentry, therapy, and other work.
A dogs’ sense of smell is roughly 50 times better than ours, meaning they can sniff out IEDs before they detonate and injure or kill U.S. servicemen. Ground patrols can uncover approximately 50 percent of these deadly devices, but with the help of these K9 warriors, the detection rate increases to about 80 percent.
When you go into your grandmother’s kitchen, you smell the stew. The dog goes into your grandmother’s kitchen, he smells carrots, pepper, tomatoes, and lettuce. I mean he smells all the ingredients.
William Cronin, American K9 for Afghanistan and Mali, West Africa
Military K9s Today
Cairo, a Belgian Malinois, was a member of Seal Team Six that killed Osama bin Laden. He was part of a new breed of elite canine soldier, a Special Forces dog whose training includes such skills as parachuting and fast-roping from helicopters.
According to retired Air Force K9 handler, Louis Robinson, a fully trained bomb detection canine is likely worth over $150,000, and considering the many lives these dogs may save, you could characterize them as priceless.
On The Home Front …
It would be a disservice not to mention the working dogs of Law Enforcement, who go to work every day and help keep our streets and neighborhoods safe. The courage and loyalty of these four-legged police officers are amazing and deserving of our respect and gratitude.
And then, last but not least, is the family dog who, without a second’s hesitation, would put themselves between their family and any danger.
To those dedicated, loyal K9 partners who work night and day worldwide, helping the military and law enforcement, who faithfully protect our families and us, we say thank you!
After serving in the Marine Corps for 8 years and as a police officer for 2 years, Brandon Prince received the unfortunate news that, due to a service-related disability, he could no longer serve his community as a police officer. Brandon took the news in typical Marine Corps fashion and simply turned to another of his passions – creating art pieces for people to enjoy. His wife, Nicole, is a partner in this wonderful enterprise.
Located in Upstate South Carolina, Deep South Creations offer personalized, custom woodworking, beautifully crafted and sure to last for years, becoming family heirlooms.
Veterans Referring Veterans
I met Brandon while presenting at one of the Veterans Referring Veterans’ Thursday night virtual “Happy Hours.” I joined the VRV several months ago as a veteran author. The VRV is a great online directory and networking tool for validated veteran-owned businesses of all kinds. It turned out that Brandon likes to read, and I ended up shipping him a copy of one of my books.
Loyal For Life
My stories are action-adventure yarns involving military or retired military personnel and being a dog lover, include K9s. One K9 character, a Belgian-Malinois Trident dog, named Ajax, has become a real favorite for many readers. Ajax is quite a heroic animal and saves the day on many dangerous missions. After seeing some of Brandon’s work, I decided I wanted something special as a tribute to Ajax and other “non-fictitious” K9 service members. I talked to Brandon and what he came up with really blew me away. I absolutely love it!
Once he was finished with the piece, Brandon contacted me for my shipping address. But after being socially-distanced for over a year and learning he was only a couple of hours away, I asked if he minded if I picked it up. He didn’t mind at all. It was an excuse for a nice little “road trip” and a chance to meet two wonderful people and fellow VRV members.
Brandon and Nicole at Deep South Creations turn out some stunning work. There are wooden flags, duty racks, cut-outs, signs, etc., all created onsite in the shop behind their house. Unfortunately, I can’t display them all here in this blog post, so you need to visit them on their website, Facebook page, or Instagram! Deep South Creations offers discounts to active duty, veterans, law enforcement, and other first responders.
Do yourself a favor and check out Deep South Creations, and support this amazing veteran-owned small business.
Jenna Ridennhour is an Army veteran. She served a two-year enlistment with the United States Army as an optician. After completing her service period, Jenna continued working as an optician for 12 years in the civilian sector. Deciding to jumpstart her career, Jenna went back to school and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration in 2015. With her new BBA in hand, the entrepreneurial spirit kicked in, and a new business was born in February of 2020.
What this business offers …
Regal Reflections, LLC is based in Savanah, Georgia, and offers a unique way to create and share special memories of your events. Experience the ultimate “selfie” with the Mirror X Photo Mirror, a stunning 6-foot tall interactive, voice-guided photo booth that can be set up at your location. Packages include many options such as a personalized touch screen, a personalized overlay, a backdrop (if requested), props (both physical and/or digital), unlimited 4×6″ prints, a uniformed attendant, signing and stamping features, and texting/emailing capabilities.
Jenna has spent years researching the industry and designing a system that ensures her clients receive a delightfully high-end experience. She takes great pleasure in providing an entertaining, memorable, and shareable experience for each client and their guests.
Whether you provide Regal Reflections with a list of your “must-haves” or you are drawing on her team’s wealth of experience, this veteran-owned business will make sure every single detail is perfect for your special event. Regal Reflections specializes in providing that personal touch that makes your event one that will be remembered and talked about for years to come.
So whether for a wedding, a birthday party, a holiday celebration, a conference, or a bar mitzvah … Regal Reflections has the tools to help easily capture and share those wonderful memories with all your friends and family … even virtually!
The Virtual Experience …
This is an amazing option and one I do have some personal experience with. Several weeks ago, the Veterans Referring Veterans network raised funds for a little boy named Lukas. Lukas, the son of a Marine veteran, was recently diagnosed with Leukemia. Regal Reflections played an amazing role, allowing those who contributed to the fundraiser and other well-wishers to send Lukas pictures created online “virtually,” so Lukas could see those who were pulling for him from his room in the hospital. I could not attend the actual event held at Four Brother Meadery in Festus, Missouri, because of a previous commitment. But I was still able to send Lukas a picture using this virtual photo booth. It was an amazing thing to see and be a part of.
This virtual photo booth experience can also be just the thing to share special memories with friends and family unable to share in activities during these uncertain times or those over extended distances.
So, please take a minute to check out Regal Reflections and see what this amazing lady veteran has to offer her clients. And support businesses run by those who were willing to put their lives on the line for us.
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I got an email from my dad this afternoon telling me his Uncle Bob passed away today. He was 95. My Great Uncle Bob was a WWII veteran, serving in the Army Air Corps on Okinawa at the end of the war.
In the email, my dad mentioned that when he was born, the whole Widmer clan lived in the same house in Herkimer, NY. By the time my father was a toddler, he’d identified Bob as his favorite uncle. Bob would take my dad to the playground and kept a watchful eye on him as he grew older. All the time Uncle Bob was in the Army, he would send my dad a dollar each month to put in a bank he had given him. When he returned from overseas, Uncle Bob took my dad and the money, bought my dad’s first bicycle, which he taught him to ride.
Uncle Bob was not drafted until July of 1945, and Japan surrendered in August of 1945. Hence, the war was over before he arrived at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, where he served as an aircraft mechanic. As I understand it, he worked on B-29s and P-47s, which continued to fly air defense and other missions during the occupation. Bob received a commendation signed by President Harry Truman for his service.
I still remember going to my Great Uncle Bob’s house as a very young boy and playing with his two girls, Ellen and Ruth. We would also see them at Raquette Lake in upstate New York and at family reunions. I guess Ellen and Ruth would be second cousins. Uncle Bob and Aunt Lillian were wonderful people, and these are such great memories. American has lost another one of its heroes.
Today, a Veterans Referring Veterans social is being held at Four Brothers Mead in Festus, Missouri. Sadly, I was unable to attend due to a previous engagement. These are a great bunch of people.
A Silent Auction for a Great Cause
At this social, a silent auction is being held to raise money for Lukas, the young son of a Marine Corp veteran and the owner of True Allegiance Flag Co, who was recently diagnosed with Leukemia.
Rob, the owner of this amazing veteran-owned company, makes rustic wooden American flags you can proudly display in your home or office.
A signed set of my JD Cordell Action Series books was donated for this auction, as well as many other amazing products from veteran-owned businesses across the nation.
Lukas was taken to the local emergency room on Friday, October 16, 2020 for fever, bruising, and soreness. After blood work, it was discovered that Lukas’s platelets were extremely low and his white blood cell count was extremely high. The doctors decided to transport Lukas via ambulance to Children’s Hospital in St. Louis (2 hours away from home).
It was there, around 1:30am, October 17, 2020, that the doctors delivered the news to Lukas’s parents that he has Leukemia. It was determined they would immediately start a blood transfusion to get his platelet count up (which had dropped even lower since the previous test), then later on in the day decide which type of Leukemia he has and start chemotherapy Monday, October 19, 2020.
Later that day, it was determined that Lukas has Type B Leukemia (which apparently is the better of the two types). The plan to start chemotherapy Monday is still in place, and no surgery or radiation will be needed. He will also have a bone marrow biopsy and spinal type very soon. Lukas will be in the hospital for 2-3 weeks as of right now.
Jessie and Rob have 4 other children between the two of them that will be at home during this time. Jessie has two full time jobs, and Rob owns his own business making fantastic works of art out of wood. However, with them being two hour away from home and family, neither of them will be able to work during this time to provide for their family.
It is our hope to be able to raise enough money for lodging, gas money, food, and ALL bills while their little family undergoes this hardship. We know that our God is a mighty God and He will provide!! Thank you for taking the time out of your day to support this magnificent family!
I know a lot of people are having a tough time right now, but …
Some of you may recall Operation Holiday salute from last year – well you all did such an AMAZING job that Veteran’s Last Patrol decided to make this annual effort!
Teachers, managers, families, coaches, associations, companies…this is a GREAT group project. There are veterans who are in hospice care confined due to social distancing that could use extra love this holiday season. Please take an hour or so out of your day to write to them.