June 2010

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Excerpts from An American Knight by Norman Fulkerson about Col. Croizat:

Colonel Victor Croizat died of congestive heart failure on May 8, 2010 at his home in Santa Monica, California.

…”In 1954, Croizat was picking up the pieces of a broken Vietnam following the French defeat in the battle of Dien Bien Phu. After the partitioning of Vietnam and the implementation of Communism in the North, over 800,000 Vietnamese refugees, who did not want to live under the despotic regime, made their way south and were assisted by Croizat. His “untiring effort at first to rescue, and then to resettle the war-ravaged refugees had made him nearly a national hero in South Vietnam.”[1]

“Lieutenant Colonel Croizat would also go on to establish a South Vietnamese Marine Corps (SVMC) which would, under the direction of American advisors, develop into a serious fighting force. The relationship between the newly established SVMC and the Americans was cemented by a bond of trust. There was no hardship that the Vietnamese Marines suffered which was not also endured by their American counterparts.

“Basic to the creed was the sharing of food, danger, hardship and discomfort in the field. Wherever the Vietnamese commander hung his hammock, his American advisor hung his nearby.”[2]

“Lieutenant Colonel Croizat would go on to earn the respected title of Co-Van, Vietnamese for “trusted friend.” Out of the 6,000 American advisors in the 20 years following the formation of the Vietnamese Marines, only 600 would earn this title. ”

[1] Colonel Gerald Turley, The Easter Offensive: The Last American Advisors, Vietnam 1972 (Annapolis, Md.: US Naval Institute Press, 1995) p. 7.

[2] Donald Price, First Marine Captured in Vietnam (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007) p. 10

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June 29, 2010 would have been the 71st Birthday of Colonel John Ripley. Although he is no longer with us his memory, as Mary Susan Goodykoontz says so well in this book review of An American Knight, will live on forever.

Mary Susan Goodykoontz at her home in Radford, Virginia with a picture of her brother John Ripley, dangling under the Dong Ha bridge to her left.

“While the world knew my brother John as a Navy Cross recipient, I will always remember him simply as my darling little boy. Being the oldest member of our family I had the joy of caring for him as if he were my own child. It was for this reason that I was overjoyed when Norman Fulkerson contacted me, after John’s death, with the idea of writing a book about his life.

“The final product, titled An American Knight, gave me the chance to see a side of John I frankly never knew. Although I was well aware of his heroism at Dong Ha, I did not know he was such a legend in the Marine Corps, because he did not tell me those things. John was very humble.

“While I thoroughly enjoyed An American Knight and found it to be an extremely accurate account of my brother’s life, it was, at the same time, a painful read since it brought back so many happy memories of someone I sorely miss. I have had, since John’s death, this feeling that he would never die. That is to say that his memory would live forever. Now I know it certainly will because of Mr. Fulkerson’s book. As Irving Berlin, the Jewish-American songwriter said: “The song is ended but the melody lingers on.”

“On behalf of my family, of which I am the last living member, I say thank you!”

Mary Susan Goodykoontz,  Radford, Virginia

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The Battle of the Blood

Written by John Horvat

In the final analysis, the military is all about blood. Wars are waged in the field of blood. We ask our soldiers to be disposed at any time to shed their blood for our country. So impressive is this great sacrifice that we can figuratively say that in the young soldiers’ veins, flows the blood of the nation.

When soldiers go to war, they receive that “red badge of courage” which is the true test of their dedication. And when they die, we pray that their blood be not shed in vain.

So strong is this blood in war that the war bond itself becomes as if a blood bond. Who cannot but reflect upon the words of King Henry V’s St. Crispin’s Day Speech:

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother.

In the great trials of war, these “brothers” are immersed in each other’s blood. They fight amidst the blood of both friend and foe. They nurse each other’s bloody wounds. Each depends upon the other to give their blood for their brother next to them in a sublime act of self-denial.

Indeed, does not the Gospel say that greater love hath no man that he who lays down his live for another?

However, there is one thing that this blood asks: that it not be tainted.

Often, soldiers are not saints but there are certain acts that dishonor that blood which they shed. These are certain vices that destroy the cohesion that unites their blood as one. Treason, disloyalty, dishonesty and cowardice are certainly among these. Yet another is unnatural vice that puts a disordered sexual relationship in the place of that disinterested bond between soldiers.

And thus, the battle over the inclusion of homosexuals in the military is about blood. We can say that figuratively this blood that unites soldiers as brothers is tainted by introducing the possibility of this relationship in the ranks which demand the disinterested and total trust of a brother.

However, on a much lesser level, we can say that the military is physically about blood since it would introduce into the military a group with high-risk blood contagion. This is so true that current FDA policy will not accept homosexual men as blood donors.

In addition, medical officials note that there is exposure to drug-resistant diseases circulating in the homosexual population such as hepatitis C, antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, or various strains of herpes.

The irrefutable danger involved in this contagion should alone be enough to exclude homosexuals from the military’s battlefields of blood. However, the homosexual lobby is trying to downplay this danger and is even seeking to lift this ban citing better testing methods – a move many doctors oppose as far too risky to lift. Despite political pressure to lift it, the FDA has recently voted to retain the ban since no one can deny that men who have sex with men (MSM) are a significant risk. Only recently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a study which found that the rate of new HIV diagnoses among MSM was 44 times higher than among other men and the rate of primary or secondary syphilis 46 times that of other men.

Thus, by exposing men in close quarters to occasions of contagion, we will be introducing yet another danger which will add to that of the enemy on the battlefield. However, worse yet, we will be symbolically injecting bad blood into this bond of brothers that must have total trust.

We ask our soldiers to shed their blood for our nation. They have the right to ask that their blood not be tainted.

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This is a very interesting rendition of TAPS for all those who are as moved as I am when I hear this sublime song. It is played by a 13 year old girl named Melissa Venema. At the end of the You Tube video (below) you will see the enthusiastic applause of the audience which is a clear indicator of what Americans think about those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

Although this musical piece is sounded off nightly by the different branches of the American Armed Forces to indicate “lights out” it is more commonly known to civilians as the song played at military funerals.

Although there are no official lyrics for this song, I found the following unofficial verse on line which is often used:

Fading light dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar drawing nigh — Falls the night.

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

Then good night, peaceful night,
Till the light of the dawn shineth bright;
God is near, do not fear — Friend, good night.

God Bless our brave American Servicemen!

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Marines carry the remains of Lance Cpl. Justin Wilson USMC, of Palm City, Fla., at Dover Air Force Base, Del., March 24. (U.S. Air Force photo/Brianne Zimny)

Seeing A Fallen Soldier Home

By Colleen M. Getz

His name was Marine Lance Cpl. Justin Wilson – although I did not know it when his life brushed mine on March 25 at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Lance Cpl. Wilson was not there in the terminal that afternoon; at age 24 and newly married, he had been killed in Afghanistan on March 22 by a roadside bomb. A coincidence of overbooked flights led our lives to intersect for perhaps an hour, one I will never forget.

I did not meet his family that day at the airport, either, although we were there together that evening at the gate, among the crowd hoping to board the oversold flight. I did not know that I had a boarding pass and they did not. I did not know they were trying to get home to hold his funeral, having journeyed to Dover, Del., to meet his casket upon its arrival from Afghanistan.

I also did not know that they already had been stuck for most of the day in another airport because of other oversold flights. But I did not need to know this to realize what they were going through as the event unfolded and to understand the larger cause for it. No matter how we as a nation have relearned the lesson forgotten during Vietnam – that our military men and women and their families deserve all the support we can give them – despite our nation’s fighting two wars in this decade, it is all too easy for most of us to live our lives without having the very great human cost of those wars ever intrude.

But it did intrude heartbreakingly that day at the airport gate. It began simply enough, with the usual call for volunteers: Anyone willing to take a later flight would receive a $500 flight voucher. Then came the announcement none of us was prepared to hear. There was, the airline representative said, a family on their way home from meeting their son’s body as it returned from Afghanistan, and they needed seats on the flight. And there they were, standing beside her, looking at us, waiting to see what we would decide. It wasn’t a hard decision for me; my plans were easily adjusted. I volunteered, as did two women whom I later learned sacrificed important personal plans.

But we three were not enough: Six were needed. So we stood there watching the family – dignified and mute, weighed with grief and fatigue – as the airline representative repeatedly called for assistance for this dead soldier’s family. No one else stepped forward. The calls for volunteers may have lasted only 20 or 30 minutes, but it seemed hours. It was almost unbearable to watch, yet to look away was to see the more than 100 other witnesses to this tragedy who were not moved to help. Then it did become unbearable when, in a voice laced with desperation and tears, the airline representative pleaded, “This young man gave his life for our country, can’t any of you give your seats so his family can get home?” Those words hung in the air…”

To read the rest of this Washington Times Story click here.

Funeral procession of Marine Lance Corporal Justin Wilson makes its way toward Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Palm City.

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