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Marine Corps hero defiantly “salutes” the enemy

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Iron Mike
This photograph depicting Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Michael Burghardt’s defiance was taken by Jeff Bundy for the Omaha World-Herald. It adorns the walls of homes across America and that of Col John Gronski, the Brigade Commander in Ramadi, who has hailed the image as an exemplar of the warrior spirit.

RAMADI, IRAQ– United States Marine Gunnery Sgt. Michael Burghardt is known as ‘Iron Mike’ or just ‘Gunny’. He is on his third tour in Iraq. He has become a legend in the bomb disposal world after winning the Bronze Star for disabling 64 IEDs and destroying 1,548 pieces of ordnance during his second tour.

Then, on September 19th he was blown up.

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Cut those sideburns, Marine!

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

YUCAIPA, CA – My first thought when I saw the older man walking along Yucaipa Boulevard was, he’s an ex-Marine. His haircut gave him away. We called it, The Jarhead flat top, buzzed short on the sides, flat on top.

Every career Marine – “Lifers,” as we short-timers called them – wore a flat top. And that included the First Sergeant of Marine Air Group 31 of Beaufort, South Carolina back in 1968.

I was a lowly 19-year-old PFC (private first class for all you civilians) with one lonely stripe on my shoulders. The First Sergeant had a chest full of medals and his sleeves were covered with stripes.

The man must have been in the Marine Corps for at least 50 years.

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Best of luck Joe

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

YUCAIPA, CA – First, the newspaper headline caught my eye: “Inland poverty on the rise.” Then the plight of the 20-year-old in the story brought tears to my eyes.

Let’s call him, “Joe.”

Able bodied and willing to work, Joe is one of 35.1 million Americans nationwide receiving food stamps. Not that he wants to. But Joe has been homeless for two weeks, sleeping behind a store at night in Moreno Valley. To avoid going hungry, Joe applied for food stamps.

Joe, as with many others in the building trades in Southern California, lost his $15 an hour construction job in March 2008. Since then, he’s been able to subsist by finding enough part time work to avoid government assistance.

But even those types of jobs have dried up.

Joe was quoted as saying:

“It’s kind of embarrassing to ask the government for help when I know I’m very capable of working.”

What piqued my interest about Joe is that he said he wants to join the Marine Corps. Even though he knows he could very well be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan, he said that beats going homeless and jobless.

To Joe, I say, “consider signing up.”

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Let’s honor Shifty, a true American Hero

Friday, September 25th, 2009

“I want a nationwide memorial service for Darrell “Shifty” Powers.”
By Chuck Yeager, MajGen. (Ret.)

Shifty volunteered for the airborne in World War II and served with Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Infantry. If you’ve seen Band of Brothers on HBO or the History Channel, you know Shifty. His character appears in all 10 episodes, and Shifty himself is interviewed in several of them.

I met Shifty in the Philadelphia airport several years ago. I didn’t know who he was at the time. I just saw an elderly gentleman having trouble reading his ticket.

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Veterans, sign up for health care

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

I’ve repeated this many times, but here goes again: The best health care I have ever received in my 61 years is through the Veterans Health Care system.

Please U.S. military veterans – especially those who are without health care insurance – contact the Veterans Administration to determine your eligibility, and then get enrolled.

It’s simple, and you can get started on line by going to this link. And if you’re not computer savvy, have one of your kids or a friend help you who is.
Health Care – Department of Veterans Affairs

Nearly 50 million Americans go without health care

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

LOMA LINDA, CA – Nearly 50 million Americans go without health care. I’m not one of them.

I am a U.S. Marine Corps veteran (1967 – 1971). Those four years of service entitles me to the best health care I have received in my 61 years: veterans administration health care benefits.

I count my blessings every time I see my doctor.

I’m sure my father-in-law Ken McAuley agrees. This morning at 5:30 I drove Ken, a retired Army veteran, who served in both the Korean and Vietnam wars to the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center in Loma Linda. There Ken received cataract surgery on his left eye.

Nearly 50 million Americans go without health care. Ken McAuley isn’t one of them.

When we arrived at the nurses’ station, we were greeted with a friendly smile and a warm “good morning.” Ten minutes later Ken and about ten other veterans were assigned to individual rooms where they would meet with their doctors and surgical teams.

Nearly 50 million Americans go without heath care. I know of at least ten veterans who have some of the best health care in the world.

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They bleed red, so we wear red

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009


Submitted by

OMAHA, NEB – Last week, while traveling to Chicago on business, I noticed a Marine sergeant traveling with a folded flag, but did not put two and two together.

After we boarded our flight, I turned to the sergeant, who’d been invited to sit in First Class (across from me), and inquired if he was heading home.

No, he responded. Heading out I asked?

No. I’m escorting a soldier home.

Going to pick him up?

No. He is with me right now. He was killed in Iraq , I’m taking him home to his family.

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