Godspeed Edward "Babe" Heffron and Earl "One Lung" McClung
U.S. Army and World War II Veteran Edward "Babe" Heffron, known from the book and television miniseries "Band of Brothers," died December 1st at the age of 90. Heffron served with the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, better known as Easy Company. He fought in major battles during the European campaign, including the Allied landing at Normandy, and the Battle of the Bulge.
Earl "One Lung" McClung died on November 27th. McClung was one of the scouts for Easy Company (2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division) and was also a sniper/marksman. He parachuted into Normandy and fought alongside the 82nd Airborne until he could reunite with the 101st for the assault on Carentan. He received his nickname, according to Marcus Brotherton, this way in Normandy:
So [the lieutenant] just put the machine gun by me. I wasn’t very happy about being made a machine gunner. As far as I know that machine gun is still there. When I woke up there were some strong adjectives being thrown around. So Rogers [who was known for writing funny poems] wrote a poem about it with a line that went:
Who hung the gun on One Lung McClung?
See more at: http://www.marcusbrotherton.com/honor-earl-mcclung-1923-2013/#sthash.hgliAuK4.dpuf
Photo: Fort Hood Air Assault School
Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Stanton, left, instructs two students from Fort Hood Air Assault School as they prepare to rappel 85 feet out of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter on Fort Hood, Texas, Nov. 20, 2013. Stanton is an air assault instructor. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ken Scar
Photo: TEN MINUTES!
Army Master Sgt. Raymond Geoghegan gives the 10-minute warning to paratroopers as they approach Luzon Drop Zone and prepare to conduct airborne training on Fort Bragg, N.C., Nov. 21, 2013. Geoghegan is a jumpmaster assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's 782nd Brigade, Support Battalion. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Armas
Photo: Marine Jump
U.S. Marines wait on a C-130 Hercules before participating in jump training at night over Yokota Air Base, Japan, Nov. 21, 2013. The training also enabled the Yokota aircrews to practice flight tactics and timed-package drops. The Marines are assigned to the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force. U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo
Photo: Aussies on Patrol
Australian soldiers patrol near Multinational Base Tirin Kot, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, Nov. 6, 2013. The Australian soldiers are assigned to the U.S. Army 2nd Cavalry Regiment Task Force. Australian Defense Force photo by Cpl. Mark Doran
The Patented Blackfive Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
[This post is an annual event here...]
Blackfive: "How To Cook A Turkey"
1) Go buy a turkey.
2) Take a drink of whisky.
3) Put turkey in the oven.
4) Take another 2 drinks of whiskey.
5) Set the degree at 375 ovens
6) Take 3 more whiskeys of drink.
7) Turn oven the on.
8) Take 4 whisks of drinky.
9) Turk the bastey.
10) Whiskey another bottle of get.
11) Stick a turkey in the thermometer
12) Glass yourself a pour of whiskey.
13) Bake the whiskey for 4 hours.
14) Take the oven out of the turkey.
15) Take the oven out of the turkey.
16) Floor the turkey up off of the pick.
17) Turk the carvey.
18) Get yourself another scottle of botch.
19) Tet the sable and pour yourself a glass of turkey.
20) Bless the saying, pass and eat out.
[Updated] Must Read: "A Sailor's Dying Wish"
[Updated post from November 11, 2013]
Via our own Mr. Wolf, if you read one thing today, you should make it this piece from I Drive Warships...and have a box of tissues handy.
After signing my Pop, EM2 Bud Cloud (circa Pearl Harbor) up for hospice care, the consolation prize I’d given him (for agreeing it was OK to die) was a trip to “visit the Navy in San Diego.”
I emailed my friend and former Marine sergeant, Mrs. Mandy McCammon, who’s currently serving as a Navy Public Affairs Officer, at midnight on 28 May. I asked Mandy if she had enough pull on any of the bases in San Diego to get me access for the day so I could give Bud, who served on USS Dewey (DD-349), a windshield tour...
But that's not exactly what happened. Go to IDW and read about what the crew of the Dewey did for Bud Cloud.
Update 11-27-13: FoxNews has a report on this visit today.
Home for the Holidays...A Combat Controller and Spouse You Should Know
When Erin Chambers answered the phone at 6 a.m. Nov. 16, she wasn’t surprised to hear her husband Josh’s voice. The telephone is an important link between Erin, a second-grade teacher at a private school in Seattle, and Josh, a 2000 Homer High graduate deployed with the U.S. Air Force in Afghanistan.
This call was different, however.
“He asked if I could get on Skype,” said Erin of a computer program that allows the couple to see each other while talking. “So I got on Skype and he said he had good news and bad news.”
The good news: Josh was coming home.
The bad news: He had been shot in the leg...
Go read the whole story about looking at the bright side (of what life throws or the Taliban shoots at you). By the way, Josh and Erin were married last June.
You can send Josh and Erin Chambers well wishes by mailing them to 30212 5th Avenue South, Federal Way, Wash., 98003.
Iranians will go Click-Boom
Go over to Commander Salamander's and read what he had to say about a nuclear Iran in 2006 and what he says now (hint: not much difference).
Photo: The Code Talkers Recognized
Wallace Coffey, chief of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma, left, and Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Chief Gregory Pyle stand during a ceremony in which their tribal citizens received the Congressional Gold Medal in Emancipation Hall at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Nov. 20, 2013. The U.S. Congress awarded the medal as an expression of the nation's profound gratitude to the code talkers for their valor and dedication during World War I and World War II. DOD photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp
A Time for Thanksgiving
[This is a repost from 2005. It's still appropriate...Javier Alvarez is Someone You Should Know]
Randy sends this email, a must read if ever there was one, that he received from Captain James Eadie today:
A Time for Thanksgiving
As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I eagerly anticipate the plates of turkey and stuffing, the moments of camaraderie around the TV watching football and the sharing of stories amongst friends, but it is the soldiers’ stories of bravery and courage that should be shared on this day of Thanksgiving.
I had the rare chance to talk in depth with one of my CCATT patients on our last flight, a young 24 year old Marine from Camp Pendleton, California. It is Javier’s story hangs with me this day. Javier gave me permission to share his story with you, a true story of heroism, and sacrifice that deserves to be told on Thanksgiving.
On the morning of 16 November 2005, the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment were taking part in operations along the Iraq-Syrian board to clear the towns of insurgents.
Javier [Alvarez], a strong and sturdy looking square jawed Marine Corporal was on his third deployment to Iraq. He had seen heavy combat in his previous two deployments, and had been injured once before earning him a Purple Heart. On this day he was in command of a Squad of fourteen men. I knew just by talking to him that his men were fortunate to have him leading them into battle. He spoke with clarity and confidence of a man twice his age. In the truest essence, he was a Marine.
On this morning Javier’s Squad was providing tank security (I still don’t fully understand how infantry provides security to tanks, but that’s why I am in medicine).
The morning of the 16th started like many – early. The operation was going well. The Marines were taking some fire, but were successfully clearing the town they had been assigned. Urban warfare is extremely dangerous. Each house must be searched before it can be “cleared.” US and Iraqi Security Forces have taken heavy losses in past urban offenses such as Fallujah. Javier had no intention of letting that happen to his men today.
As the tanks were rolling down the street they began taking heavier fire. The Squad broke into a brisk jog to keep up with the tanks as they pushed forward into the fire fight. Ahead was a house that seemed to be the focus of the fight. Lying in the doorway to the house was a downed Marine. He laid motionless spread across the sill. Further in there lay another Marine.
The Platoon Sergeant grabbed Javier and told him to send his half of his Squad to the house to pull out the downed Marines. Normally, the Squad leader would stay back to coordinate the assault, but Javier told me ‘I could not send my men into harms way without me.”
Taking point, Javier led his five man team towards the house. Shots rang out around them as they advanced. They could see the downed Marines ahead. A young Lieutenant lay face down outside the house. Javier did not know if he was still alive. They would have to act quickly if they were to save him and the others.
As they approached the house the enemy fire intensified and Javier felt a sudden sting and burning in his right leg. He looked down at his leg. Damn, he thought, “I’ve been shot.” He indeed had taken two bullets to his thigh, but he pushed on.
Undeterred, Javier continued to lead his men towards the house. With increasing fire, they took up a defensive posture against the house wall. Slightly protected there, he began tending his wounds with direct pressure as the others returned fire. He could see several downed Marines only arm lengths away, but they could not be reached safely. Gun fire continued to rain down on them. Another member of the squad was hit. They were in a bad position.
What happened next was recalled to me by the Medic that they called Doc. During the barrage of fire, with their backs literally up against a wall an enemy grenade was thrown out of a window landing in the middle of the five men. Doc told me “It was amazing. I was applying pressure to one of the injured soldiers when someone yelled out GRENADE. Javier just dove at the grenade. I have never seen anything like it.”
Javier grabbed the grenade with his right hand. He told me “I knew I only had three to five seconds before it would go off.” With his body shielding his men from the grenade, he made a valiant effort to heave the grenade away. As the grenade left his hand it exploded.
Javier’s right hand was immediately amputated at the wrist. Shrapnel from the grenade penetrated his left thigh. Others in his group took shrapnel to their arms and legs, but no one lost their life.
Doc told me on the plane that he was convinced that they all would have died if it were not for Javier’s heroic actions.
The fighting continued. As more Marines approached the house to provide covering fire, Javier now with two gun shot wounds to his right leg, shrapnel to his left leg and an amputated right hand worked to get his injured men clear. With the aid of his Platoon Sergeant, Javier and his men walked out of the kill zone to the casualty collection point away from the fighting.
Doc stayed in the fight for a while despite being hit with shrapnel from the grenade. He tended to the downed Marines and at one point crawled into the house to pull out the Marine who lay inside. Unfortunately, most of the Marines they came to help had been fatally injured. There was little that could be done. Doc continued to care for the downed soldiers until others noted his wounds. Doc was finally escorted out of the fight to attend to his injuries.
In all told, Javier’s Squad took heavy injuries. We air lifted out 6 members who had sustained shrapnel injuries and one who lost his leg. Javier clearly took the brunt of the injuries, but miraculously no one lost their life. Javier’s selfless action had saved the lives of many men.
I spoke at length with Javier on the flight to Germany. Perhaps it was the awe that I felt talking with him that kept me coming back, or maybe the fact that his men admired him so much. In the end, I think I was drawn in by him because he was just like you and me. He was real. A soldier who had done everything asked of him by his country. He fought with honor and dignity, and led his men with courage. Above all, he put his men’s life above his and protected them from harm.
He didn’t ask for honors or special treatment. His biggest concern when we were loading him onto the plane was his fellow soldiers. He would not lie down until he had visualized and spoken with all of his troops on the plane.
When I arrived home from the mission, I opened the paper. There before me in simple bullet format read the names of the most recent US deaths in Iraq. I generally do not look at these lists. They are just names with no personal connection. But this day, halfway down there were five Marines listed including a young Second Lieutenant all from the 2 nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment from Pendleton, California who had died on 16 November, 2005. These were the men that Javier and his Squad gave everything to try to save.
I stared at the paper for many minutes, recalling the story Javier and his men had told me. I marveled at the sacrifices they made and felt a tremendous sense of loss for these men whose names now stood out from the paper as not mere records, but as living, breathing men who gave everything their country asked of them.
As I get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving here in Iraq, I have so much to be thankful for. My wife is amazing, we have been blessed with a child on the way, and I feel like I have the greatest family and friends that one could ever wish for, but there is more. I see around me everyday soldiers giving everything they have with the full belief that their actions do make a difference. That their sacrifices are for freedom and will one day improve the lives of ordinary Iraqis.
When I sit down on Thursday to my thanksgiving meal, I will be holding these soldiers and their families close. We as a country have so much to be thankful for.
For me, on this Thanksgiving Day, I will be thankful for Javier. He has given the gift of life to his men and their families. I often ask myself if I was in his position, what would I have done? I don’t know, but I certainly hope that I could be like Javier.
My warmest wishes to you all for a wonderful Thanksgiving, we truly have a great deal to be thankful for.
James S Eadie, Capt USAF MC
332 Expeditionary Air Evacuation Squadron
Critical Care Air Transport Physician
The men who died that day were Lance Corporal Roger Deeds, Lance Corporal John Lucente, Corporal Jeffrey Rogers, Corporal Joshua Ware, and 2nd Lieutenant Donald McGlothin - all from the Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment, 13th MEU, 1st Marine Division.
Ten Thanksgivings Ago...
This is a repost from ten years ago:
Below is an email (via military reader "In Media Res") from a Captain in the 501st (a unit that I know well) that was at President Bush's Thanksgiving Dinner. With all the talk of fake turkey and photo ops, maybe you should hear about the President's visit from someone that was actually there:
We knew there was a dinner planned with ambassador Bremer and LTG Sanchez. There were 600 seats available and all the units in the division were tasked with filling a few tables. Naturally, the 501st MI battalion got ourtable. Soldiers were grumbling about having to sit through another dog-and-pony show, so we had to pick soldiers to attend. I chose not to go.
But, about 1500 the G2, LTC Devan, came up to me and with a smile, asked me to come to dinner with him, to meet him in his office at 1600 and bring a camera. I didn't really care about getting a picture with Sanchez or Bremer, but when the division's senior intelligence officer asks you to go, you go. We were seated in the chow hall, fully decorated for thanksgiving when aaaaallllll kinds of secret service guys showed up.
That was my first clue, because Bremer's been here before and his personal security detachment is not that big. Then BG Dempsey got up to speak, and he welcomed ambassador Bremer and LTG Sanchez. Bremer thanked us all and pulled out a piece of paper as if to give a speech. He mentioned that the President had given him this thanksgiving speech to give to the troops. He then paused and said that the senior man present should be the one to give it. He then looked at Sanchez, who just smiled.
Bremer then said that we should probably get someone more senior to read the speech. Then, from behind the camouflage netting, the President of the United States came around. The mess hall actually erupted with hollering. Troops bounded to their feet with shocked smiles and just began cheering with all their hearts. The building actually shook. It was just unreal. I was absolutely stunned. Not only for the obvious, but also because I was only two tables away from the podium. There he stood, less than thirty feet away from me! The cheering went on and on and on.
Soldiers were hollering, cheering, and a lot of them were crying. There was not a dry eye at my table. When he stepped up to the cheering, I could clearly see tears running down his cheeks. It was the most surreal moment I've had in years. Not since my wedding and Aaron being born. Here was this man, our President, came all the way around the world, spending 17 hours on an airplane and landing in the most dangerous airport in the world, where a plane was shot out of the sky not six days before.
Just to spend two hours with his troops. Only to get on a plane and spend another 17 hours flying back. It was a great moment, and I will never forget it. He delivered his speech, which we all loved, when he looked right at me and held his eyes on me. Then he stepped down and was just mobbed by the soldiers. He slowly worked his way all the way around the chow hall and shook every last hand extended. Every soldier who wanted a photo with the President got one. I made my way through the line, got dinner, then wolfed it down as he was still working the room.
You could tell he was really enjoying himself. It wasn't just a photo opportunity. This man was actually enjoying himself! He worked his way over the course of about 90 minutes towards my side of the room. Meanwhile, I took the opportunity to shake a few hands. I got a picture with Ambassador Bremer, Talabani (acting Iraqi president) and Achmed Chalabi (another member of the ruling council) and Condaleeza Rice, who was there with him.
I felt like I was drunk. He was getting closer to my table so I went back over to my seat. As he passed and posed for photos, he looked my in the eye and "How you doin', captain." I smiled and said "God bless you, sir." To which he responded "I'm proud of what you do, captain." Then moved on.
Update December 4, 2003 (links no longer work): As if you needed more (well, hell, maybe you do if you work for the Washington Post), a reader sends this link to another story about the Bush Thanksgiving visit via a family member who was there.
Oh my god, here is another one....these things are everywhere.
BTW, Reuters and the Washington Times have stories reporting that the dinner was in the early evening hours and not at 0500...
Team Rubicon - Operation Seabird in Tacloban, Philippines
Here's a recent map of all of the NGOs in and around the areas hit by the typhoon...As you can see, there's really not that many of them. Of course, Team Rubicon was there ASAFP. You can read more about TR's Operation Seabird here.
Providing medical aid during the critical time gap between disaster and conventional response, Team Rubicon combines veterans and medical professionals into deployable teams and gets them in country FAST.
The #OpSeabird medical team, including those patrolling barangays to provide on-site care, have treated nearly 600 patients at field hospitals and clinics established in Carigara and Tacloban.
Photo: In the Arms of the Air Force - Combat Talon crews help Filipino Familes
U.S. Air Force personnel help families in Ormoc affected by Typhoon Haiyan exit an MC-130 Combat Talon aircraft during Operation Damayan after transport to Manila, Philippines, Nov. 21, 2013. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel M. Young
Families displaced by Typhoon Haiyan board an MC-130 Combat Talon II assigned to the 1st Special Operation Squadron during Operation Damayan in Ormoc, Philippines, Nov. 21, 2013. The Philippine government is closely coordinating ongoing relief efforts including search and rescue, supply drops and personnel airlifts, with military and civilian organizations. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel M. Young
Book Review - "The First Phone Call From Heaven" by Mitch Albom
The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the far right side bar.
Sports personality Mitch Albom’s latest book, The First Phone Call From Heaven, is a great holiday novel. He will touch the reader with this spiritual storyline. Anyone who has lost a loved one will understand how there is always the longing for a way to talk to those who have died, to have a link with the afterlife. In this case the link is provided by the telephone as Albom weaves the plot with the history of the phone.
The plot has a small town on Lake Michigan gaining notoriety when its citizens receive phone calls from their loved ones who have died. The mystery is whether this is the great miracle or a hoax. Sully Harding has to face adversity in his personal life, with the loss of his wife, and in his professional life, when he is found guilty of crashing his Air Force jet; even though it was not his fault. He is the skeptic that tries to prove that Heaven is not reaching out and that someone is playing with people’s emotions.
The main characters are well developed, likable, and sympathetic. Katherine receives phone calls from her dead sister, Diane; Tess from her mother Ruth; Jack and Dorene from their son Robbie who died in combat. The reader journeys with these people as Albom skillfully shows how they react differently when they hear their loved ones’ voices. They range in emotion from gratefulness, believing that they are no longer alone to the desire to have the dead stay dead as explained in the book quote, “It wasn’t making me happy. It just made me miss him more.”
His first spiritual book was Tuesdays with Morrie, which chronicles the time spent with his former college professor, Morrie Schwartz, who was dying from ALS. “The conversations with Morrie changed my whole life as I became exposed to a lot of suffering. Now, six years later I chose to write another book on spirituality where I hope the readers would see the miracle, ‘that the end is not necessarily the end.’ What the book shows is that people have souls so when they die they are not just gone.”
One of the characters was Robbie, a soldier killed in Iraq. A powerful quote from the book has Robbie telling his dad, “There’s no bad days here… It’s awesome…if we knew what comes next, we never would have worried.” Albom hopes that military families will take a little comfort in these scenes since “they must always face the specter of death; it’s always around. Maybe a loved one can believe somewhere the person lost is alive.”
It will not be lost on the reader that Albom puts emphasis on the preciousness of the human voice and the desire to hear their loved ones speak. He explained to blackfive.net, “I thought it would be a great contrast to how people use the phone today, avoiding all human contact, particularly with texts.”
The First Phone Call From Heaven is a very powerful read for those that want to believe that “the end is not the end.” Anyone who lost someone will take comfort in the faith that there is a possibility that someday they will be able to continue hearing from a loved one.