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Author Topic: THE LUCKY BAG: Stories about former CG vessels and Coasties  (Read 19822 times)
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BuoyJumper
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« Reply #30 on: August 22, 2009, 11:58:10 am »

Jack .... so glad you stopped by and thanks for emailing me this story on how the plaque to RESFLO 1 was erected at Poole, England.

How two ‘old men’ placed a USCG RESFLO 1 plaque in Poole, England


The Memorial Plaque reads:
Quote
"From this Quay, 60 cutters of the United States Coast Guard Rescue Flotilla 1 departed for the Normandy Invasion, 6 June 1944. These 83 foot boats, built entirely of wood, and the 840 crewmembers were credited with saving the lives of 1437 men and 1 woman. In remembrance of the service of Rescue Flotilla 1, and with appreciation of the kindnesses of the people of Poole to the crews, this Plaque is given by the men and women of the United States Coast Guard"

Semper Paratus

June 1994


Back in 1992 the CG Combat Vets Association held a Reunion in Reno, Nevada  One of the subjects at the business meeting concerned putting some kind of memorial to honor the US Coast Guard at Normandy for the upcoming 50th Anniversary in 1994.  An expensive amount, up to 20k was the figure tossed about, was shouted down and the Combat Vets Assoc. made no commitment to do anything for any amount that day. In fact, one of the leading directors threatened to resign on the spot if any monies were dedicated to such a project. At that point the President called for adjournment of the meeting as the time allotted for the use of the hotel conference room had expired.

This situation did not sit well with some of the WW2 members and a few were quite vocal about the ‘do nothing attitude’ of the leadership since it was less than 2 years to get something started and finished to meet the 50th Anniversary deadline of June 6, 1994. And so, Jack Campbell and I met, joined together as close friends as well as co-conspirators in ‘doing something’ to honor The Guard and leave a lasting memory for the generations to come. It happens that we both served at Juno Beach, Normandy during the D-Day operations, Jack C, GM3c on CG49(83490) and Jack R, CMoMM on CG43 (83464) although we did not know each other back then.

Jack C made contact with the building industry in Long Branch, NJ, his hometown, and found out where the bronze plaques were cast that they placed at the various housing developments in the area. He followed up with a visit to the local manager for the one of the areas largest builders who was happy to assist, since his dad was a WW2 vet, who helped Jack C make arrangements with the Texas foundry for sizes, price, etc. When that info came back we were set to solicit funding from fellow Resflo 1 vets as well as any other Coasties who wanted to take part.

I sent out letters as I had compiled a list of ex- Resflo 1 vets for a mini-reunion we had held in Atlantic City a short time before. Since we needed a statement to place on the plaque underneath the picture of an 83 ‘, I took over the task of writing some material which Jack, his longtime friend Boo and my wife and I went over at his home one afternoon in the summer of ’93. We could only have 110 words or less so pared down my remarks to meet the foundry requirement regarding space.

Several other folks were instrumental in getting the finished plaque air freighted to Poole, Dorset, England, mounted on a piece of native Purbeck stone and ready for the D-Day ceremonies on June 6, 1994. One was the son of the cook on the 83490 who trucked the plaque from the Texas foundry to New Orleans for air freight, others were those who mounted the plaque in Poole on stone and moved it to the Quay. Still others were those who setup the dedication ceremonies that included the Poole Lord Mayor and many other dignitaries.

And lastly, but by no means least, our own US Coast Guard who sent the CGC Dallas, Captain Hull commanding, who offered an open house on the cutter (with fantastic refreshments) for the townsfolk. That night the US Coast Guard Band played in the Poole Auditorium and brought the house down when they played the Colonel Bogey March, from the movie Bridge on the River Kwai, as well as other English marches dear to the hearts of all. It was, indeed, a ‘night to be remembered ‘ a long as I live.

Today, there is standing on a corner of the Poole Quay, where 60 83’ cutters were moored 3 abreast in 1944, a Plaque that honors the cutters, crews, and townsfolk as it recalls the services rendered by all during the dark days of WW2 and especially the Normandy Landings.

I am proud to have had a small part in putting that Plaque on a foreign shore to give untold future generations the story of what men and women of England and a few servicemen of the United States Coast Guard did so many years ago. My dear friend and fellow 83’ footer sailor Jack Campbell ‘passed the bar’ in December,  2008 and he is sorely missed. He gave much to the CG Combat Vets Assoc, as a 2 term PNP and founder of giving a watch and certificate to the graduating recruit of each class with the highest Physical Ed score at USCG Training Station, Cape May, NJ.  This tale has been written to show what just 2 ‘old men’ can do with respect of their past service to their beloved country when they were needed and enough determination to “see the job gets done”  when others fail.

 

                                        - Fair Winds and Following Seas, Jack-
                                        
                                                     SEMPER PARATUS

Jack W Read
8/19/2009

THANKS JACK .. WE ARE BLESSED TO HAVE YOU WITH US SHIPMATE ...
« Last Edit: August 23, 2009, 02:09:51 am by BuoyJumper » Logged

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« Reply #31 on: August 22, 2009, 12:46:56 pm »

Very inspiring story.  I am disheartened by the response of the CGCVA though.
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« Reply #32 on: August 23, 2009, 10:09:22 pm »

t Quay on June 6, 1994 along with a parade and beautiful church ceremony to honor all who left Poole for Normandy---Resflo 1 got the most and best of all plus a 'garden party' in London later in the week
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« Reply #33 on: August 23, 2009, 10:53:56 pm »

Jack ... You RESFLO 1 vets deserved every honor bestowed upon you.  In that photo of the RESFLO 1 vets during the dedication of the memorial plaque, are you the one standing in the back left corner of the photo?
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« Reply #34 on: August 23, 2009, 11:01:58 pm »

Jack -  USCG Flag
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« Reply #35 on: August 24, 2009, 10:37:46 pm »

Jack ... You RESFLO 1 vets deserved every honor bestowed upon you.  In that photo of the RESFLO 1 vets during the dedication of the memorial plaque, are you the one standing in the back left corner of the photo?

No--- Harry Naismyth (crossed the bar)---I am the one taking the picture (out of sight, out of mind and out of pic)-----my other post above was only 1/2 for some reason---here as Paul harvey used to say 'is the rest of the story'---

I hold no grudges for the CGCVA as they forced the issue and made '2 old guys' connive to get something done---we picked Poole, Dorset, England since it was the base for the 60 Rescue Flotilla 83's and the only fully CG Base in Europe---the CGCVA did put a plaque in Normandy for the 50th and all Coast Guard but we got the Dallas, the CG band, the 90' flags of US, Britain and Canada flying high and proud on a windy day as the parade passed down the Poole Quay----
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« Reply #36 on: September 06, 2009, 09:51:22 am »

Semper Par Sir.   
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« Reply #37 on: September 10, 2009, 03:02:17 pm »



Coast Guard cutter Apalachee to
find new life here as a museum

Posted by James Ewinger/Plain Dealer Reporter
June 01, 2009


The Coast Guard Cutter APALACHEE WYT-71 served the Coast Guard for 43 years.  

CLEVELAND, OHIO — Retired Chief Petty Officer George Staples remembers when wooden mallets and baseball bats were used to keep the ice off Coast Guard ice-breaking tugs.

He didn't need any Monday as he stood on the bridge of the former Coast Guard cutter Apalachee at the foot of East Ninth Street. The vessel spent World War II and the rest of its 43 years in government service battling the elements around Baltimore.

The 110-foot Apalachee, considered a cutter, sailed here Sunday, from Oswego, N.Y., and is expected to become a floating museum.

The Coast Guard Tug Association, with members across the nation, hopes to berth it by the old abandoned  Coast Guard station on Whiskey Island.

"It could break three to six feet of ice," said Staples, of Bradenton, Fla., one of the volunteer crew members who sailed the tug here.

It took four days to get to Cleveland. Then another 20 minutes Monday morning to move 1,000 yards from the Coast Guard moorings on East Ninth to the Port Authority's Pier 28, just west of Cleveland Browns Stadium.

     

"This is the last time I sail this ship. The last time I said that was 23 years ago," said retired Chief Warrant Officer Dave Cunningham, who commanded the recent voyage. He was also the Apalachee's last captain when it was decommissioned in 1986.

When Cunningham stepped ashore in 1986, "it was like the life was coming out of the ship."

He watched the life begin to flow back in three weeks ago in Oswego, as volunteers got the Apalachee ready to come here. It spent the last 20 years around Oswego Bay until its civilian owner donated the cutter to the tug association in January. Cunningham said despite its working life, a lot of the machinery had fallen into disuse.

   

"But we know how to make it run, and how to bring it back," he said. Many of the volunteers are old Coasties, along with two on active duty with the Neah Bay here.

A lot of cleaning and refitting still needs to be done, but the cutter retains the black hull of a Coast Guard work boat, along with the regulation white superstructure and buff-colored mast and fittings.

The cutter had a complement of no more than a dozen or so, but Cunningham said that "hundreds of men served on her since World War II," and at least in spirit, they were all on board for the trip to Cleveland.

Photos of Apalachee coming into Cleveland
The restoration of CGSTA Whiskey Island
Photos of CGSTA Whiskey Island abandoned by the CG in 1976 last used as the Boat House night club
Original Article
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« Reply #38 on: September 10, 2009, 03:25:32 pm »

I was stationed with Chief Staples on the Chautauqua.  Ran into him at one of Doak Walker's reunions and he was talking about the CG Tug Association.  Nice to see they managed to get this all together.
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« Reply #39 on: September 10, 2009, 03:56:47 pm »

It really is good to see that the CG Tug crew could get this done.  Makes me wish I actually lived in Cleveland or at least in the area.  I would definately volunteer to help out and get her back in shape. 

If it could be done right, I could see where the old Whiskey Island CG Station and the APALACHEE could have new careers as a mariners training center in much the same way as the Tongue Point Job Corp Center and the former cutter IRONWOOD are being used ......

but that's a Lucky Bag story for another day.........
 
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« Reply #40 on: September 10, 2009, 05:07:16 pm »

Nice job on putting her back into service colors. Replate those bulwarks, too workboat. I recall seeing & working with her on the Penobscot River up to Bangor, Maine in the winter of 1986. I had the CGC Snohomish, out of Rockland and Apalachee was out of Portland. She normally took care of the Kennebec River, a bit south of Penobscot Bay. Somewhere I have a few photos of Apalachee roaring downstream, with a bone in her teeth and ice flailing in all directions. I believe she was decommissioned a month or so after I put Snohomish out of commision.

Chief Staples name also rings a bell, but from many years earlier. Very nice job to all.
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« Reply #41 on: October 18, 2009, 12:18:44 pm »

I know THE LUCKY BAG is supposed to be about former CG vessels and Coasties but Chris Noel gave up a promising movie career to support our U.S. military Vietnam veterans and to try and neutralize some of the damage done by Hanoi Jane.  To this day she is still helping homeless vets in south Florida.  If you have never heard of Chris you need to.  She is one very special lady and worthy of your support in any way that you are able.

Chris Noel ... Still working hard
on behalf of Vietnam Vets


  
Chris sings "Feelin Groovie" for the troops in Vietnam            Chris today ... still working hard on behalf of Vietnam veterans






The Vietnam Interview: A Date with Chris Noel
By Claudia Gary and David T. Zabecki

When Hollywood turned stridently against the war and the men who fought it, Chris Noel stuck with the GIs—and she’s still with them.
A model turned actress in the early 1960s, Chris Noel was a young blonde bombshell with a number of movies and TV guest appearances under her belt when she first started entertaining the troops in Vietnam. She received the Distinguished Vietnam Veteran award in 1984 from the Veterans Network for her work during the war. In an interview, Noel recalls her life-altering experiences and her ongoing efforts in support of Vietnam veterans.

Vietnam: Tell us a little about your Hollywood career before Vietnam.
Chris Noel: When I first went to Hollywood, I was put under contract to Universal for one month, and then they fired me. Their head of casting said I had the worst voice in the world, and said to “send that girl back where she came from, she’s atrocious.” So I cried a lot, until three weeks later I was under contract to MGM. In the first film I did I played the girlfriend opposite Steve McQueen, in Soldier in the Rain. Jackie Gleason and Tuesday Weld were in the film. I guest-starred in almost all of the television shows of that year. I did a lot of beach movies and motorcycle movies, and just a little bit of everything.

And before Hollywood?
When I was in Florida as a young girl, at the age of 16, I was on the cover of Good Housekeeping magazine with a little baby, posing as a young mother. I was also the Kodak girl. There were wonderful posters that were done on the beach with me in a hammock, and with a beach ball, and that sort of thing. But I just knew that I had to do something more with my life, so I went to New York. A television writer did an article where they picked the three top women in television commercials and three top guys, and I was one of the three girls. Then I was also one of the Rheingold [beer] girls in New York, and on the cover of the New York Post and New York Mirror. But I always wanted to go to California.

What was the turning point for you?
The 1965 Christmas tour that I made with California’s Governor Pat Brown and various celebrities. That year, my boyfriend was over in Vietnam with Bob Hope. Then I had the opportunity to go to the VA hospitals. When I went into the gangrene ward of double and triple amputees, I was stunned. I remember the very first guy I saw there said something really nasty to us. Then Sandy Koufax took and threw a ball to a guy who had only one arm, and he reached up and caught the ball. He was laughing, and the other guys were laughing. I thought, “Wow, I have to find a way to learn to make them happy.” My girlfriend and I sang “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” and we were absolutely terrible, but it was kind of cute. When I walked out of the ward, I was still very, very stunned. Those moments changed my life and made me realize that I had to make a difference.

How did you get the disk jockey job with Armed Forces Radio?
My boyfriend came back from his tour and he had to put in Reserve time. He was at Armed Forces Radio and Television Service in Hollywood, and he found out that they were looking for someone to put on the radio. So I called, made my appointment, went in and did my interview—and they chose me. I started off doing a show called Small World with George Church III. I became really popular. The colonel called me in one day, and said, “Well, Chris, I hate to tell you this, but you’ve been fired.” I said, “Fired? What did I do wrong?” And he said, “Well, you’ve been fired, but you’ve been hired to do your own show.” It was pretty exciting. They came up with the name, A Date With Chris. They would record it to be put on 33-1/3 records, which would be sent to all the outlets throughout the free world.

Did you ever meet Adrian Cronauer?
During the Vietnam War, there were several people who had a radio show for the U.S. troops there. Adrian Cronauer (Good Morning Vietnam - Robin Williams) was not the original. I met Adrian back here after his movie was done.

What did you think aout your radio show being called America’s answer to Hanoi Hannah and Saigon Sally?
Something that just blew me away was when Hanoi Hannah stated that she really didn’t know how the GIs all felt about her until she got a video of the movie Good Morning, Vietnam! Isn’t that weird? I never really knew what Hanoi Hannah looked like until 2007, when CSPAN was showing an interview with her. It was fascinating. I had heard just a little tiny bit of her voice a couple of times in Vietnam, but usually I was so busy that I wasn’t really tuned in to her.

How did you get on Bob Hope’s tour?
After I started my radio show, I knew that the holidays were coming and Bob Hope would be going back over again. I asked, “Is there any way that you could get Bob Hope to let me go with him to Vietnam?” The answer came back: No, I wasn’t considered a big enough star to go with him. But a few weeks later I got a telegram from the Pentagon asking if I would go over and entertain the troops.

 

How was your first trip to Vietnam?
The first time I went over was in December 1966. I was very excited, but I didn’t have the foggiest idea of what to do, because all I knew was how to be an actress on radio and television. I took a portable record player with batteries, and a little record case. I think I had the top 100, or maybe only the top 50 songs. They said, “You’re going to be there at Christmas time, so take some kind of Santa Claus outfit.” I was only being paid $200 a week by MGM, so I didn’t have a lot of money. I went to Hollywood Boulevard and I saw a little silver miniskirt and little silver top, and that’s what I bought for my Santa Claus outfit.

They sent me to one of the bases to get my shots, and I had to stand in this line, just like all the guys. I had never been anywhere outside of the United States except one time to Mexico. When we landed in Vietnam and I walked down the steps at Tan Son Nhut, it was stifling. They took my suitcase and we got into a van. The windows were open, but there was mesh on the windows, which they said was to keep grenades out.

What was it like being on Bob Hope’s 25th Anniversary show in Cu Chi on December 25, 1966?
My escort officer said to me: “Chris, Bob Hope is going to be doing a show on Christmas Day. How would you like to be in his show?” I wasn’t very far away from Cu Chi, so they just helicoptered me in. When I first got there so many cameras were clicking, it sounded like a field of locusts. We went to this tent, and they had fans going, and makeup artists, and hairdressers. Some GI had given me a poem, something about the Night Before Christmas, only it all had to do with the Vietnam War. It was that whole poem I did onstage.

I kept hearing all of these show business people complaining—they complained about everything! They complained about how hot it was—“I can’t go out there if I’m sweating like this,” and “You must do something better with my hair.” I’m sitting there thinking, my gosh, I can’t stand these people! They’re all just prima donnas. They don’t have the foggiest idea of what it’s really like over here. They’re in air conditioning as much as they can, and they’ve got the best of everything, and all they do is complain!

How was it to work with “Colonel Maggie,” Martha Raye?
I had been up north for several days and was back in Saigon, and I was very, very tired. I was so happy to think that I was actually going to have a bed, and could lie down behind a closed door. When I got to the hotel I remember being told that Martha Raye was there. I walked in, and there was Martha with three Green Berets. Someone introduced us and we talked for just a second, and she said, “Get it together, girl, you’re having dinner at the camp with the boys.” I said: “I just got here! I’m not going to eat any dinner, I’m not doing anything!” She said: “Oh, yes, you are! You get it together, because you’re having dinner with the boys.”



When we first got to Camp Goodman, we walked into a mess hall that had a kind of platform and a very long table. Nobody else was in the room—just four of us. The food was brought in to us. I was talking a little bit, and then the captain sitting next to me very meanly looked at me and said: “What are you doing here? We all know what Maggie is doing here, but what is it that you’re doing here?” I looked at him and was almost speechless. I said: “I’m doing the same thing Maggie is. I’m here because I care. I was asked to be here.”

Then a lieutenant who was there, Ty Herrington, said, “Miss Noel, would you like to see our camp?” I felt as if he was on a white horse saving me, and I said, “Oh, yes, yes!” He took me around and showed me the camp a bit, and then he opened the door to his room. There was a picture of a woman in a silver frame. I said, “Oh, that must be your wife!” And he said, “My mother wishes she were.” Shortly after that day he became my escort officer. After a couple of more tours we were in love and we got married. As it turned out, the woman in his picture was his wife! He had lied to me.

Some big acts were restricted to base camps for security, but you sometimes went alone to the more isolated firebases. What was that like?
I’m so thankful that I was able to have that opportunity—to just drop down out of the sky in a helicopter, and to see the guys come out of the boonies, exhausted, and already with that stare in their eyes. I feel really blessed that I could be there for a few moments with them, just to sign some pictures, just to say hello, just to let them know that, yes, people do care about you. Along with Maggie and a few female war correspondents, I was one of the only women who ever traveled the entire scope of South Vietnam. I really think I got to have one of the most incredible experiences, to see that it wasn’t the same war for everybody.

You kept doing this even though the Viet Cong had a $10,000 bounty on your head and you had a fear of heights?
I didn’t think they’d ever really get me. I felt really protected. And once I started getting into those helicopters, I just loved it. What’s weird is that now, when I get into helicopters, I freak. Back then, one time the hydraulic system went out in a helicopter and we went down…that was scary.

Did your helicopter ever come under fire? Were there any close calls on the ground?
I only remember one very serious time in a helicoper, while trying to leave a mountaintop. Being in places that were being mortared—maybe three times. And groundfire—maybe twice.

You are a hero to GIs, but in show business, openly supporting the troops was the equivalent of professional suicide. How did you keep doing the hard right over the easy wrong?

Whenever I talk to young people, I always leave them with one thought: Do the right thing. Actually I never really thought of it that way, but when I started hearing it a lot—“do the right thing”—I realized that that’s how I went along in my life, just always trying to do the right thing. I cannot imagine anybody having grown up in this country ever betraying it. Yet I’ve met so many people who are somewhat like that. And I’ve had to endure their conversations and sit there politely, and excuse myself when the time was up.

Your book A Matter of Survival is subtitled The War Jane Never Saw. How could you and Jane Fonda, coming from the same Hollywood culture, see things so differently?
I went to see a psychiatrist in New York who was doing work with PTSD, and I was just hoping that maybe she could help me because I really needed some help from somebody. Something came up about Jane Fonda. The doctor looked at me and asked, “How can you possibly even consider yourself in the same breath? She was born with a silver spoon, and you weren’t. Why would you even bring her up? You don’t have anger against her, you just have anger, period, and your own hostility. You’re just using her as a catalyst.”



I was in a pretty fragile state as it was, and I thought to myself, “Man, then if I have these thoughts that are so misdirected, are you trying to say to me that all these thousands and thousands of men and women who know the truth about Jane Fonda and feel the same way that I do—that we’re all screwed up? That she was fine, but we’re all the ones who are screwed up?”

Did you ever meet with Jane Fonda?
Yes. In the 1970s a girlfriend said, “Come on, I’m going to this event—Jane Fonda is talking, at Warner Brothers Studio.” They had it set up in a big room. She was talking, and I was thinking, “I can’t believe I’m here listening to all of this.” So finally, I stood up and told her: “I don’t even know where you’re coming from. How can you say these things? You know, you went over to the enemy side in the Vietnam War, and I didn’t. I stayed with our troops, which I felt was the honorable thing to do. How can you live with yourself, having done what you did? And how can you be saying today all the things that you’re saying about our government and the oil industry? I can tell you right now, I’m married to an independent oil producer, and it’s costing him more money to get the oil out of the ground than he’s getting for it. He’s losing everything that he owns and he’s going under. And I’m sitting in this room, listening to these disgusting things that you’re saying. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

She said: “You and I need to talk. Would you come up afterwards? Because you and I just need to talk.” Well, that went nowhere. Everybody in the room looked at me like I was some kind of lu-lu.

You married Ty Herrington, whom you met in Vietnam, but that went terribly wrong?
Ty Herrington was a very charming, good-looking guy. I was madly in love with him, and it was so incredibly romantic. I was this Hollywood star, and he was this warrior. He was able to slip out of Vietnam a couple of times. I met him on R&R in Hawaii.

Then we decided to get married, but things started happening right before we got married, things that scared me. I realized that something was very, very wrong—but I went ahead and married him anyway. It was a horrible mistake. He used to put a gun to my head, and a knife to my throat, and he used to strangle me until I passed out. He would get this look in his eyes. I was scared, but I didn’t know how to get out from underneath it.

We moved to Nash­ville because he had a contract with Monument Records. They recorded him singing “When the Green Berets Come Home” and “A Gun Don’t Make a Man”—isn’t that something? I was able to get him to go see a psychiatrist once. The psychiatrist told me that he was a paranoid-schizophrenic manic-depressive, and that he was very dangerous. Then one day he put a gun to his head and he was gone.

You have remained a tireless supporter of Vietnam vets, with projects such as the Vetsville Cease Fire House you founded in 1993 in Florida to help homeless veterans.
I was living in Palm Beach at the time and married to a lawyer. I would go to United Way meetings and talk about the fact that we needed to do something for homeless vets. People would laugh at me: Here’s this movie actress talking about homelessness—what does she know? All they seemed to care about were all the people coming in from other countries. They didn’t care anything at all about the homeless vets. I finally concluded that none of these people were going to do anything but make fun of me and I would just have to do it all by myself. I woke up one day and said: “That’s it, today’s the day I’m going to do it.” By the end of that week I had a house in Riviera Beach, the roughest area in the entire town. At our opening ceremony, a neighbor walked over to see what was happening. Then he offered me the use of a house he owned that was right next to ours, and he wouldn’t take any money for it. Within about five months he went into foreclosure and lost all of his property. I went to the bank and made a deal to buy his two houses. So now I had three houses there. That’s how it all began, and then it expanded.

And now this project of yours has grown beyond Palm Beach?
Pretty soon we were in three cities, and I had people calling me from different places in the country, wanting me to help them. I don’t take government money. I did in the beginning—I applied for grants, and I did get them, but I don’t have any grants anymore. I just work really hard and have a fundraiser and do a mail-out to try to raise some money to keep the program going.



We are now in another muddled war that the American people are turning increasingly sour on. But so far they haven’t turned against the GIs sent to fight it. Why do you think it’s different this time?
I don’t think it’s different this time. I think they’re just keeping their mouths shut. I have found that if you ask anybody who tells you they were against the war in Vietnam, they will all deny having said anything bad about the GIs. Not one person has admitted to spitting on a GI or calling them names. I think that’s because the Vietnam vets suffered so greatly from the attacks against them, and there was so much emphasis on the reality of PTSD. But I believe that people still have the same thoughts that they had during the Vietnam War.

The only difference is that now it’s become so politically incorrect to say anything negative about the warrior—but they don’t really support the warrior. They’re not the ones who are sending letters over; they’re not saying great things about them. They just pretend that they support the troops but not the war. They may not admit it, but deep in their souls that’s the way they feel. They’re not going to invite GIs to dinner, or invite them over to their home when they come back, or be really good friends with them, or go to any of the veteran functions. Any­way, that’s my personal opinion. I really don’t think it’s changed.

So many of those fighting this war are children or, in some cases, grandchildren of Vietnam veterans. What more can be done to ensure we take bet­ter care of these new veterans?
Just keep fighting for them. Just keep fighting for the veterans’ issues. Keep fighting to make Walter Reed a better hospital—with more doctors. Sometimes our vets are fortunate, and they get a really good doctor; at other times, they are not so fortunate.

What enduring lessons did you gain from your experience during the Vietnam War?
I just think that war is hell, no matter who is fighting or where the wars are. But I think sometimes you have to have war in order to have peace. I mean, I’m just a retired movie actress. What do I know? I just keep fight­ing for what is my truth, trying to make it a better world for as many people as I come in touch with. I try to give the best of myself whenever I’m around other people, and try to be the best person I know how to be.

Chris Noel's website
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« Reply #42 on: October 19, 2009, 09:30:10 am »

Wow - she's so beautiful. Good for her. That's amazing.
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« Reply #43 on: November 12, 2009, 03:01:53 pm »




Friendship blooms
from relic of war

By Diane Bell
Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at midnight

SAN DIEGO — The death of two soldiers fighting on opposite sides in World War II has given birth, decades later, to a warm friendship between their families on opposite sides of the globe.

The story began in 2003, when Jim Taddonio a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard living in Del Cerro discovered a Japanese dog tag among the personal effects of his deceased father-in-law. The dog tag belonged to the father-in-law’s cousin, a Marine lieutenant killed in the battle of Peleliu in the Pacific Palau Islands in 1944.

The kitami (dog tag) of Japanese soldier Teruhiko Hirabayashi (center) brought the families of Jim and Jeane Taddonio (left) and the
family of Teruhiko Hirabayashi together and a new friendship was born.

This oval brass tag, about 1 inch wide, etched with a series of Japanese characters, launched Taddonio on a search for relatives of the Japanese soldier who once had worn it.

After numerous inquiries, Taddonio was put in touch with a Navy captain married to a Japanese woman, who translated the soldier’s name: Teruhiko Hirabayashi.

Eventually Taddonio, who retired two years ago as a Toyota sales manager in National City, made contact with a Japanese homeland defense officer based in San Diego. When the officer returned to Japan, he discovered Hirabayashi’s name on a memorial shrine in Tokyo. The officer eventually identified the soldier’s hometown near Nagano and located his sister, 76, who was living with her son and daughter-in-law.

Almost a year after Taddonio had begun his search, he and his wife, Jeane, received an e-mail followed by a phone call from the daughter-in-law, Fumiko, who teaches English. She told them that Hirabayashi, 24, was killed during fighting in Papua New Guinea in 1943. His family had received no personal belongings, just an empty box with a letter stating that he was dead.

“This name tag is very important to us,” she told the American couple. “It’s the only reminder of him from the time he died. We’d like to buy it from you.”

Taddonio quickly informed them that the dog tag wasn’t for sale, but he would happily give it to them. Rather than trust it to mail delivery, he said he and his wife were coming to Japan for a convention the following summer and would personally deliver it. An e-mail relationship quickly blossomed.

A short time later, Fumiko informed them that her son and mother-in-law had booked a flight to San Diego and would pick up the ID tag. The Taddonios opened their home to their new Japanese friends and planned a whirlwind tour of San Diego. It included traditional tourist sites but also the Yokohama Friendship Bell on Shelter Island and the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. There, in a brief ceremony, the Taddonios presented the dead soldier’s name tag, or kitami, to his sister, 61 years after he died.

Words were few, but the quiet celebration filled their souls, Jeane said.

“We all became one for those moments,” she said. “Death had found new life for all of us and scars of universal grieving had faded, at least for a time.”

During the three-day visit, “We never got into how my wife’s cousin came to possess the name tag, or who killed whom,” Jim said. “We all accept the fact that that little piece of metal brought two families together, something that neither family would have ever dreamed of happening. ... Since then, we’ve established a very strong and loving family friendship and have visited each other.”

The Taddonios refer to the ID tag as a gift from the dead.

“A lot has happened because of me finding that name tag in my in-law’s belongings,” Jim said. “Not because of me, but because, after all these years, Americans and Japanese are ready to forgive and move on.”

Original Article
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« Reply #44 on: November 20, 2009, 04:44:22 pm »



A Hero Is Honored 60 Years Later
Braved frigid waters to rescue torpedo victims
By Russell Drumm
November 19, 2009


Ensign John Simmons who served aboard the cutter Comanche was posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal on Tuesday in New York City for his rescue efforts saving survivors of the troop transport Dorchester which was torpedoed and sunk off Greenland in 1943.    

NEW YORK — On Tuesday, 66 years after jumping into Arctic waters as a young Coast Guard reservist to save soldiers whose troop ship had been torpedoed by a German U-boat, John Simmons of East Hampton was posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the service’s highest non-combat citation for heroism.

The award ceremony took place at a private club in New York City with Coast Guard Capt. Gregory Hitchen officiating.

“There was an invocation, the Coast Guard prayer, a petty officer sang the national anthem a cappella,” Lorraine Tuohy, Mr. Simmons’s daughter, said yesterday.

“Captain Hitchen talked about the incident from the official records declassified 10 years ago. He apologized it had taken 66 years. He said it was a privilege. The grandchildren were mesmerized. It was great.”  

Twenty-four family members attended Tuesday’s award ceremony, during which Captain Hitchen took them back to the night of  Feb. 3, 1943.

The S.S. Dorchester, a former ocean liner serving as a U.S. Army troop ship with 900 men on board, was off Greenland en route to Europe escorted by three Coast Guard cutters, Tampa, Escanaba, and Comanche. Nearly 700 men died in what was to become the second largest loss of life at sea in World War II when the troop ship was torpedoed by U-223 just before midnight.

Beyond the terrible loss of life, the incident gained national attention because four military chaplains representing Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish faiths, who had led soldiers in prayer, gave up their life preservers, linked arms, and went down with the ship.  

The crew of Comanche saw the flash of an explosion. The troop ship sank fast. Those who were not trapped below decks were cast into 39-degree water.

That night, three officers and nine enlisted men from the Comanche  acted as “retrievers” — rescue swimmers wearing newly developed suits and attached to their cutter by ropes. The Dor­chester’s men who were in the water were too weak to climb the cargo nets that had been hung over the side of the Comanche.

Many were dead or unconscious, so the retrievers concentrated on those threatened by exposure on overcrowded and capsizing lifeboats and rafts. The swimmers jumped over the side with a line attached and were hauled back with 93 of the U-boat’s victims.

The Comanche’s commanding officer, Lieut. Commander Ralph Curry, later named the men who had gone over the side again and again, Ensign John W. Simmons, U.S.C.G.R., among them.

“For heroic conduct while serving onboard U.S.S. Comanche in effecting the rescue of survivors from the torpedoed S.S. Dorchester on 3 February 1943,” Captain Hitchens said, reading from the medal citation signed by B.J. Penn, acting secretary of the Navy, on behalf of President Barack Obama.

“When the benumbed survivors of the Dorchester were unable, because of heavy seas and freezing wind, to make any effort to climb on board the rescuing ship, Ensign Simmons volunteered for the dangerous task of going over the side and working in the rough, freezing water in order to assist the exhausted and helpless survivors. . . .”

After the war, Mr. Simmons went to work for Becton and ****inson, a pharmaceutical company, and in the early 1970s, he became president of Morton Salt. He and his wife, Paula Simmons, who was given her husband’s medal on Tuesday, moved to Highway Behind the Pond in East Hampton in 1968 with their family. Mr. Simmons died in 1980 and was buried in Most Holy Trinity Cemetery in East Hampton.

“It came from out of the blue two weeks ago on a Monday night,” said Ms. Tuohy, who lives in Brooklyn. “I almost didn’t pick up the phone until I heard the person mention the Comanche and Dorchester. She said they were looking for children of John Simmons. I knew a tiny bit about this, but my dad never talked about it.”

In addition to Mrs. Simmons and Lorraine Tuohy, the other attending family members included Mr. Simmons’s other daughters, Paula Butler and Carol Rathborne, his son, John Simmons, and their children. ­
 
Original Article
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