Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday Hero

This post was suggested by Michael

Cpt. Joseph O'Callahan

Cpt. Joseph O'Callahan
58 years old from Worcester, Mass
Naval Reserve Chaplain Corps, USS Franklin
May 14, 1905 - March 18, 1964

U.S. Navy

From Cpt. O'Callahan's Medal Of Honor citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as chaplain on board the U.S.S. Franklin when that vessel was fiercely attacked by enemy Japanese aircraft during offensive operations near Kobe, Japan, on 19 March 1945. A valiant and forceful leader, calmly braving the perilous barriers of flame and twisted metal to aid his men and his ship, Lt. Comdr. O'Callahan groped his way through smoke-filled corridors to the shells, rockets, and other armament. With the ship rocked by incessant explosions, with debris and fragments raining down and fires raging in ever-increasing fury, he ministered to the wounded and dying, comforting and encouraging men of all faiths; he organized and led firefighting crews into the blazing inferno on the flight deck; he directed the jettisoning of live ammunition and the flooding of the magazine; he manned a hose to cool hot, armed bombs rolling dangerously on the listing deck, continuing his efforts, despite searing, suffocating smoke which forced men to fall back gasping and imperiled others who replaced them. Serving with courage, fortitude, and deep spiritual strength, Lt. Comdr. O'Callahan.

You can read more about Cpt. O'Callahan here

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives just so that we may get to enjoy our freedom. For that I am proud to call them Hero.

Those Who Say That We're In A Time When There Are No Heroes, They Just Don't Know Where To Look

Wounded Warrior Project - Because So Many Have Come Back With Injuries, Seen And Unseen
This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Videos:UK Troops leave Helmand - for the last time?

From the MoD:

British troops stood shoulder-to-shoulder with colleagues from the United States and Afghanistan to witness the Union Flag and Stars and Stripes lowered for the last time at the Bastion-Leatherneck complex. The ceremony marked the end of operations for Regional Command (Southwest), a UK and US coalition command under the umbrella of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. Read more here. In the picture, Captain Matthew Clark RN, Deputy Commander of Joint Force Support, folds the lowered Union Flag with Camp Bastion's final Garrison Sergeant Major Warrant Officer Class 1 John Lilley. [Picture: Sergeant Obi Igbo RLC, Crown copyright]

UK ends combat operations in Helmand
26 October 2014

UK Armed Forces end combat operations in Helmand, paving the way for the final transfer of security to the Afghan National Security Forces.

As they have on the battlefield, British troops stood shoulder-to-shoulder with colleagues from the United States and Afghanistan to witness the Union Flag and Stars and Stripes lowered for the last time at the Bastion-Leatherneck complex.
The ceremony marks the end of operations for Regional Command (Southwest), a UK and US coalition command under the umbrella of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Other contributing nations have included Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Tonga, Jordan and Bosnia.
The UK has had a military presence in Afghanistan since October 2001, when troops deployed as part of the NATO response to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the US....
Brigadier Rob Thomson, Deputy Commander of RC (SW) and the senior UK officer in Helmand, said:
The formal end of UK combat operations in Afghanistan marks the final step in a deliberate, responsible and measured handover to the ANSF. They are more than ready to take on responsibility for security in Helmand. We can be extremely proud of the part we have played in building a capable, credible and confident Afghan force.

They have the baton, they are ready, and I am struck by their courage and commitment.

We have travelled some hard yards in Helmand alongside our coalition allies, and every single service and branch of the Armed Forces has been part of that effort. We will never forget the 453 soldiers, sailors and airmen who have made the ultimate sacrifice....

There is much more here. 

Any student of history knows that this was not the first time that the British had been in Afghanistan, but this time, according to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, WILL be the last. As the flags are lowered over Helmand, comes this from Daily Mail:

We'll never send British troops back to fight in Afghanistan, pledges Fallon as soldiers make on last assault on the Taliban
27 October 2014


British combat troops will not be deployed in Afghanistan again ‘under any circumstances’, the Defence Secretary has vowed.

Michael Fallon said yesterday: ‘We are not going to send combat troops back into Afghanistan. We’ve made that very, very clear. Under any circumstances, combat troops will not be going in there.’

His comments came as British troops were forced to make one last assault on Taliban positions as they prepared for withdrawal from Camp Bastion. Royal Artillery gunners fired 105mm shells from the base into enemy positions several miles outside the wire....

There are many more pictures - and videos - here.  Go look.

Also from the Daily Mail:

They served their country with honour and courage – and 453 paid the ultimate price. But, after 13 years of bloodshed, there will be no memorial in Afghanistan to mark the troops’ sacrifice.

The lives of the young Britons killed fighting the Taliban had been commemorated on memorial walls in Camp Bastion, but as the UK’s campaign in the country ended yesterday, it was confirmed they had been dismantled.

A source said: ‘There is no memorial left in Afghanistan.’ The Army insisted the decision was not because of fears the memorials would be defaced or destroyed. But top-ranking soldiers and relatives of those who were killed said there was an obvious risk they would be ‘desecrated’ by a resurgent Taliban.


Much more - with pictures - here.

Yes, the US Marines left too:  Last US Marines left their Afghanistan headquarters.

We WILL remember them...

Friday, October 24, 2014

Video: Highway of Heroes for Cpl Nathan Cirillo

ATTENTION !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. Leaving Ottawa today at 11:00 approx., eta Hamilton 2:00 PM via Highway of Hero's (401)

"In a show of gratitude from right across the land.....
It's our turn to stand on guard for thee."

Red Shirt Friday

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Video: For Cpl Nathan Cirillo: We Rise Again

When the waves roll on over the waters
And the ocean cries
We look to our sons and daughters
To explain our lives
As if a child could tell us why

That as sure as the sunrise
As sure as the sea
As sure as the wind in the trees
We rise again in the faces
of our children
We rise again in the voices of our song
We rise again in the waves out on the ocean
And then we rise again

When the light goes dark with the forces of creation
Across a stormy sky
We look to reincarnation to explain our lives
As if a child could tell us why

That as sure as the sunrise
As sure as the sea
As sure as the wind in the trees
We rise again in the faces
of our children
We rise again in the voices of our song
We rise again in the waves out on the ocean
And then we rise again

We rise again in the faces
of our children
We rise again in the voices of our song
We rise again in the waves out on the ocean
And then we rise again

NEVER FORGET Beirut 1983: "They came in peace"

I found this picture at the Beirut Memorial Online, and here you can find a list of the fallen from this terrible day. Go look, and think about the lives cut short, as represented by every name there.

Aerial view of the headquarters of Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 8th Marines, the ground combat element of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit, in Beirut, Lebanon where 220 Marines, 18 Sailors, and three soldiers were killed when an explosive-laden truck slammed into the building on Oct. 23, 1983, completely destroying the structure.
Source: U.S. State Department.

[...]October 23, 1983 bombing of the United States Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. The United States honors the sacrifices of the 241 American servicemen who lost their lives that day in service of their country while protecting the stability of Lebanon. The Marine barracks memorial on the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut reads, “They came in peace.”

(picture: courtesy of University of Maine)

"...Make the people who wished us harm understand...we were not defeated...we are still here..." (source)

1983: Beirut blasts kill US and French troops
At least 146 American marines and 27 French servicemen have been killed after two separate bomb attacks on military headquarters in the Lebanese capital Beirut. Two lorries containing 4000lb (1.4 tonnes) bombs exploded when they hit the buildings, the US Battalion Landing Team headquarters and the French paratroopers base which are situated just four miles (6km) apart.

The death toll is expected to rise to more than 200 as people remain trapped inside the collapsed buildings.

The US Secretary of Defence, Caspar Weinberger, insisted there was "strong circumstantial evidence" that Iran was behind the attacks but did not rule out possible Syrian and Soviet involvement.

"There are no words that can properly express our outrage and, I think the outrage of all Americans at this despicable act " President Reagan

(BBC here)

Arlington Cemetery also has a section dedicated to the fallen of October 23, 1983, here.

On October 27th, President Ronald Reagan gave a national address. He said, in part:

In these last few days, I've been more sure than I've ever been that we Americans of today will keep freedom and maintain peace. I've been made to feel that by the magnificent spirit of our young men and women in uniform and by something here in our Nation's Capital. In this city, where political strife is so much a part of our lives, I've seen Democratic leaders in the Congress join their Republican colleagues, send a message to the world that we're all Americans before we're anything else, and when our country is threatened, we stand shoulder to shoulder in support of our men and women in the Armed Forces.

May I share something with you I think you'd like to know? It's something that happened to the Commandant of our Marine Corps, General Paul Kelley, while he was visiting our critically injured marines in an Air Force hospital. It says more than any of us could ever hope to say about the gallantry and heroism of these young men, young men who serve so willingly so that others might have a chance at peace and freedom in their own lives and in the life of their country.

I'll let General Kelley's words describe the incident. He spoke of a ``young marine with more tubes going in and out of his body than I have ever seen in one body.''

``He couldn't see very well. He reached up and grabbed my four stars, just to make sure I was who I said I was. He held my hand with a firm grip. He was making signals, and we realized he wanted to tell me something. We put a pad of paper in his hand -- and he wrote `Semper Fi.' ''

Well, if you've been a marine or if, like myself, you're an admirer of the marines, you know those words are a battlecry, a greeting, and a legend in the Marine Corps. They're marine shorthand for the motto of the Corps -- ``Semper Fidelis'' -- ``always faithful.''


That marine and all those others like him, living and dead, have been faithful to their ideals. They've given willingly of themselves so that a nearly defenseless people in a region of great strategic importance to the free world will have a chance someday to live lives free of murder and mayhem and terrorism. I think that young marine and all of his comrades have given every one of us something to live up to.

They were not afraid to stand up for their country or, no matter how difficult and slow the journey might be, to give to others that last, best hope of a better future. We cannot and will not dishonor them now and the sacrifices they've made by failing to remain as faithful to the cause of freedom and the pursuit of peace as they have been.

I will not ask you to pray for the dead, because they're safe in God's loving arms and beyond need of our prayers. I would like to ask you all -- wherever you may be in this blessed land -- to pray for these wounded young men and to pray for the bereaved families of those who gave their lives for our freedom.
God bless you, and God bless America.

(The whole thing here)
From the US Marine Corps site:

The 23rd of October; ‘Our first duty is to remember’

ARLINGTON, Va. — Veterans, families, friends and various dignitaries gathered under blue skies at section 59 in Arlington National Cemetery on Oct. 17 to remember their loved ones and brothers in arms.

Since 1984, the remembrance ceremony has been an annual event of sorrow and celebration for the men who gave their lives during a peace keeping mission in Beirut.
At approximately 6:22 a.m., on Oct. 23, 1983, an Islamic terrorist drove a yellow delivery truck into the lobby of the Marine Corps barracks at Beirut International Airport. The vehicle exploded with a force equivalent to 12,000 pounds of TNT, destroying the building and killing 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers. Additionally, 58 French paratroopers were killed in a separate attack just two minutes later as they were mobilizing to assist their fellow service members.

“Most of our countrymen probably believe this global war on terror started on 9/11,” said Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway. “I don’t believe that for a moment. I believe it started in October of 1983 when we first saw a significant strike on the young men – Marine, Navy and Army, who were in that building in Beirut.”
During the ceremony, families of the fallen were called forward to lead everyone in the pledge of allegiance.


“We hope you will be consoled in the knowledge that others remember, you are not forgotten and never will be,” said Carmella LaSpada, executive director of the Whitehouse Commission of Remembrance. “Love has brought us together today, a love for those we honor, and a love for our nation.”


“They lost their lives while in a peace keeping mission,” [Lebanese Ambassador Antoine] Chedid said. “I’m here to pay tribute to them for their bravery. They paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of peace. Twenty-seven years later, their memory is still in our hearts.”

For the Marines, sailors soldiers who were there, the memory will forever remain etched in their minds.

Craig Renshaw, president of Beirut Veterans of America, said it’s important to remember the lives of the men who died that day. Most Marines knew at least one person who died. For them, the memory is going to be there forever, but it’s up to the chapters, those who were affected and a younger generation to remind others what happened when we suffered the first blow in the war on terror.

“Remembrance is not letting the memory of the guys who gave their lives be forgotten,” he said. “It’s all about them.” [emphasis mine]

Go read the rest here.

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Semper Fi, Marines.

Yes, this IS a repost from last year, but this quote still remains true - and always will

“Remembrance is not letting the memory of the guys who gave their lives be forgotten,” he said. “It’s all about them.”

Just the other day I found this video, posted by someone who says:

This is a Tribute to my Fallen USMC Brothers who Died 6:22 am October 23rd, 1983.
I came home from Beirut. They did not.
Semper Fi my Brothers.
I will,,
Remember the Peacekeepers.
You My Brothers ..
You Are NOT forgotten
Uploaded by on Oct 21, 2011

Always remembered. ALWAYS honoured.

Remember and Honor: Marine Staff Sgt. Donald C. May, Jr.

Don's wife Deborah writes of today:

October 23rd is Don's birthday. Please join me in honoring and remembering him and the life he chose to live, full of jokes and laughter. Don was a Guinness or Bushmills man but feel free to consume anything. ♥

Don was a wonderful father and husband. Anyone who met Don remembered him because of his smile and his ability to make everyone laugh. He was the guy with the big smile. Don, you will be in our hearts forever........

On the back of Don's memorial cards I had printed:

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you
in the hollow of His hand.

Semper Fidelis
wife Deborah May (here)

Marine Staff Sgt. Donald C. May, Jr. 31, of Richmond, Virginia.

Killed during convoy operations when his tank plunged off a cliff into the Euphrates River. He was assigned to the 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California. Died on March 25, 2003.

Always remembered and honoured, today and every day.

Semper Fi.