American EagleMarch is celebrated as National Women’s History Month in thousands of communities and military bases throughout the world. This celebration, designated by Joint Resolutions of the House and Senate, and proclamations by six American presidents, is an opportunity to honor and celebrate women’s historic achievements. The 2013 National Women’s History Month theme, Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination, celebrates women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As the country celebrates nationally, locally we will be celebrating our female veterans. The Alabama Veterans’ Museum and Archives will honor “Our women heroes of the Korean War, often referred to as the Forgotten War.”

Women have been “in” the military as far back as the Revolutionary War, where they served on the battlefield as nurses, water bearers, cooks, laundresses and saboteurs. During the civil war women provided casualty care and nursing to Union and Confederate troops. The Army Nurse Corps was established in 1901, followed by the Navy Nurse Corps established in 1908. During WW1, over 21,000 Army nurses served in military. During WWII things really start happening, more than 60,000 Army nurses served stateside and overseas. In 1942, the Army established the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), the Women Air Forces Service Pilots (WASP) were organized and fly as civil service pilots, and the Navy recruits women into its Navy Women’s Reserve, called Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES).

The Army-Navy Nurse Act of 1947 made the Army Nurse Corps and Women’s Medical Specialist Corps part of the Regular Army and gives permanent commissioned officer status to Army and Navy nurses, soon to follow suit in 1948 the rest of the service organization do the same, and finally in 1949 the Air Force Nurse Corp is established.

In 1950, fewer than five years after World War II had ended; the United States found itself once again confronted by a war for which it was unprepared. As before, a downsized military establishment rushed to call up, draft and recruit manpower, but recruitment numbers fell short of military requirements. And just as in previous wars, the services turned again to American women to meet personnel needs, asking them to leave their homes, jobs and families to serve their country.

In celebrating women’s historic achievements, we present an authentic view of history. The knowledge of women’s history provides a more expansive vision of what a woman can do. It’s been many years since Winston Churchill and others said –

In time of danger and not before
Women were added to the corps
With the danger over and all well righted
War is forgotten and the women slighted.

Today, according to the US Department of Defense, there are approximately 204,973 women in the military, and the recent groundbreaking decision to lift the ban for women in direct combat ground roles may just have been the push needed to finally ensure a move toward equality of the sexes. This retired MSgt would have to say, “We’ve come a long way, baby!”
By: Sandy Thompson

Valley Pools

American EagleThe elimination of Osama Bin Laden, whose code name was “Geronimo,” is the subject of a film entitled Zero Dark Thirty. It has been nominated for five Academy Awards, and it is no doubt not going to be the last treatment of the subject. I am not here to discuss the historical accuracies of the film as noted by those who participated in the raid that finally stopped one of the most evil jihadists that ever lived.

All Things Soldier

It is also not my intention to stir up the current brouhaha over the medical benefits that should be afforded those who risked life, limb and marriage to be a part of the S.E.A.L. team that took Geronimo out. My purpose is to shed light on the fact that while the film and its makers stand to make a fortune, the life of the man who fired the shots that split Osama’s head wide open is in chaos, and not because he has twisted off in a PTSD induced rage.

The first problem is that “the Shooter” and his family have had to endure the assault on their lives that can only be executed by exposure created by the media. Members of the media camped out on their lawn because the location of their home had been leaked. I can only hazard a guess just by whom. So what’s the big deal, other than a level of personal annoyance that is off the hook? In a word, security. You see, S.E.A.L.S get it that there really is a war on terror, that there are jihadist cells in our country who will wait for as long as it takes to retaliate for the death of Osama. If they can’t get the Shooter himself, then from the standpoint of psychological warfare against the Special Forces community, the next best thing is to kidnap and kill his family.

The second problem is the treatment of the entire S.E.A.L. team since their usefulness in shoring up the flagging popularity of their Commander in Chief during the 2012 election is no longer existent. Those who have retired have been put out to pasture in a way that would be darkly comical if it weren’t so pathetic. It has been suggested that the Shooter enter into a rather lame version of Witness Protection that would have him driving a beer truck somewhere in the heartland. They would have to sever their ties to all that has been their life, a move that would be insane when you consider that most marriages in the Special Forces community go down in flames. Seriously? A beer truck?

How’s this for an option? How about having a Fortune 500 company hire the Shooter and mining all the skills he has developed, and capitalizing on his training? Look at Bear Grylls. After he got out of the SAS, he taught us how to survive. And, oh, who do I think should be hired to be the bodyguards for the kids and their mom? The Boys from Blackwater. When I was in Iraq, I always felt the safest when they were watching a movie in my building. As the song goes, “Nobody does it better…”

American EagleIn honor of Black History Month, join us at the museum on February 9th, 2013 as the local SCV hosts Peggy Allen Towns. Ms Towns is the author of “Duty Driven, The Plight of North Alabama’s African Americans During the Civil War” Duty Driven vividly summarizes the remarkable stories of North Alabama’s African Americans during this pivotal period in history. Event will begin at 10:00, Ms. Towns will hold a book signing after her talk….For more information please contact Sandy at the museum 256-771-7578, or Buzz Estes at 256-434-0441.
By: Sandy Thompson

Click image to enlarge
Duty Driven

American EagleThere is an understanding amongst military personnel and civilians alike that Marines stay Marines as long as they are six feet above ground, and that they have a unique level of camaraderie and commitment that sets them apart.

It was to that end in 1937 that the Marine Corps League was established by Congress during the Roosevelt Administration, and since that time its basic mission is to help Marines continue to serve their country and communities, whether they are still active or are retired. They have a saying, and that is, “A Marine may leave the Corps…but the Corps will NEVER leave the Marine!” There are over 3,000 Marines in Northern Alabama, a number that surprised me, and it is the desire of the League to see that those who have served be served well.

Marine Corps League

Besides the recent holiday service effort of Toys for Tots, which garnered several boxes of toys as well as a bike for needy kids in Limestone County, the Marine Corps League has a scholarship program, an outreach to wounded Marines, whether they have just recently been wounded or their injury occurred in past wars, a youth physical fitness program designed to keep kids off drugs and to embrace a healthy lifestyle, and the Young Marines Program, which is described as being a “youth program emphasizing honesty, courage, respect, industry, loyalty, dependability , and a sense of devotion to God, country, community and family.” The Marine League is the only of the many veterans’ organization that has a federal charter.

The MCL also is involved in other areas of activity, including a legislative program that keeps an eye on things that can affect benefits, entitlements of active duty as well as retired personnel, and military readiness. One of the my favorite things about their mission statement is their commitment to aid and render service not only to Marines, but “to their widows and orphans.” They are also most interested in preserving the history and legacy of the Corps, and those who have served in it.

Retired USMC Staff Sergeant Skip Ferguson and Private Tony Grigsby are the Commandant and Junior Vice Commandant, respectively of the local chapter. They are both Viet Nam era vets, Skip having served for 20 years, and Tony only for one, due to an injury to his knee.

They are running into a problem that is plaguing all the veterans’ organizations: the old guard is passing on, and there is a need for young blood. Sometimes when vets have been involved in combat, they don’t want to be around other vets, but that’s when you need the “Band of Brothers,” (as William Shakespeare called them,) the very most.

The Marine Corps League is different from other vets’ organizations, in that you have to have been a Marine in order to belong to the MLC. They do come together with other vets’ organizations for joint projects, but if you are in need of the presence of other Marines, or have been “away for awhile,” and wish to rekindle that fire, call Skip at 256-529-5907for more information.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Village Veterinary Clinic Caring Senior Services

American EagleThe Legion of Honor is France’s most distinguished decoration, and it can be bestowed to recognize the special contributions and acts of bravery while fighting for the liberation of France during WWII. The decision to honor World War II combatants applies only to living veterans who served on French territory, as well as in French territorial waters and airspace from 1944- 1945. Those selected are appointed to the rank of Knight of the Legion of Honor.

Denis Barbet

I am happy to report that on Jan 17th, Mr.Denis Barbet, Consul General of
France will be here at the Alabama Veterans Museum in Athens to bestow this award on our of our local WWII heroes. Receiving the award will be:
Cal Bonner – Army WWII
Theo Calvin – Army WWII
William P. (Jack) Hunter – Army Air Corps WWII
Clifford Wilford – Army WWII
Please join us to see these genuine American Heroes receive this prestigious honor. The event is free and open to the public. It will be held on January 17th, 2013, at 3 pm, at the Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives. The Museum is located at 100 W. Pryor St in Athens,
AL.

Contact Sandy Thompson,
Museum Director at 256-
771-7578 for more information.
By: Sandy Thompson

American EagleIt seems that the unplanned theme of the December 21, 2012 edition of Athens Now is that evil and darkness are indeed alive and well on Planet Earth, and attempting to strike with a vengeance. But the good news is that through it we have the opportunity to unleash good with a fury, shine brighter than the darkness, and we are.

I have no desire to be another bearer of more bad news, but in order to “rally the troops,” there needs to be a “sit-rep,” or “situational report,” in order to give people the chance to do something tangible, something that makes a true difference in the lives of one of our brave ones. This not only benefits them, it strengthens us, and helps us to not become enveloped in hopelessness, helplessness, or despair. It is simply, on so many fronts, time to fight back, and to do so in, and because of, love.

PackagesAny reader of this column knows that I am a big fan of the soldier supporting organization known as Move America Forward. I know several of the management team personally, and have continued to be impressed with their tirelessness when it comes to their support of our soldiers. In the last edition, I made a request that should you feel you want to get a care package for a soldier serving in Afghanistan, Move America Forward, is one of the best ways to do so, and they will make sure your package gets into the hands of a deserving soldier. I know this because I know that at least during Operation Iraqi Freedom, they went over to Iraq and delivered the packages themselves.

Well, then what seems to be a “new low” occurred. Someone stole some of the packages intended for the troops! In a way, it reminds me of the place in the Book of Job where bad news just kept rolling in, connoted by the introductory phrase, “And while they were yet speaking…” Whenever you saw that, you knew that another unbelievable thing had just piled on top of Job.

In the first place, who would steal care packages earmarked for those who are putting themselves in harm’s way so we can have a holiday in liberty and security? It’s not even worth spending the energy to speculate. There is, however, good news that outweighs the bad. For example, Rush Limbaugh has stepped up to help, is donating generously to purchase care packages to replace what was stolen, and MAF is scrambling to assemble them.

By the time we go to print, it may be too late for the packages to actually arrive on Christmas Day, but miracles do happen. And even if they don’t arrive precisely on December 25th, they will still go a long way toward warming the hearts and bodies of our troops, as they endure the surprising cold of the Afghani desert in winter.

So, I am asking again, if, and only if, you feel that it is your desire and perhaps your assignment to do so, go to www.moveamericaforward.org, and do some of the most satisfying “last minute shopping” you’ll ever do!

Move America Forward

Dr Carlota

American EagleUnless you have had the opportunity to have your holidays honed down by virtue of living in a combat zone, it is way too easy to get sidetracked. As a result of my three Christmases in a row which were spent in Iraq, a few spent in the desert of Mexico, and several where I have not had the opportunity to be with my family, I have learned that the simplest celebrations are the best, even when there is “sandfall” instead of snow, and even when shared with strangers. The following are some reflections of holidays spent in Iraq, which, as odd as it may sound, to this day have a deep and sweet place in my heart. Why? Because they were spent with the ones who make sure we in America are free to celebrate…or not.

Christmas Party”One year we put on a Christmas party for both Coalition and Iraqi soldiers, and it was a blast. Mercy and Marly, who were from the Philippines, and Beverly and Elizabeth, who were from the States, made decorations out of every imaginable thing. There were paper snowflakes that had taken hours to cut, and foil covered ping pong balls that became decorations for the tree. We strung popcorn and lights on an artificial tree sent from home, and had hot food trucked in from an adjacent camp for the party. Mercy took apart a New Year’s noise maker and turned it into an angel for the tree. Truly their ingenuity knew no bounds. The Iraqis were thrilled, and no one seemed to have a problem with getting into the season that is supposed to be about the Ultimate Gift. Elizabeth was Jewish, and had taught English in the Middle East for 15 years. Gutsy gal. She made sure there was a menorah on the event calendar for the month. There was also a big menorah inside Saddam’s palace, something I don’t think he would have handled real well.

Hanukkah and Christmas were the times when the American people bombarded us with blessings. There was enough candy to make you waddle, even
homemade fudge that was put out for all to devour, the donator’s cry being “Take it!” “Get it away from me!” The fudge lasted about a half day, remarkably. There were greeting cards by the hundreds of thousands, books, tapes, CDs, toiletries, hot chocolate, tea, cookies, a veritable invasion mounted by thousands of individuals and groups back home. My mom sent wondrous tea in brightly colored packets. People from Athens and elsewhere sent me so many packages for the soldiers that I could hardly get in and out of my hooch, and one even sent stuff for Super Bowl Sunday. They also blessed me with gifts that I treasure to this day, memories of an unforgettable era in my life.

Holidays in the midst of hostilities, like everything else, become more precious due to precariousness of the situation. Pushing away that precariousness for just a moment is heady, rejuvenating stuff, something I hope I never forget. Having the freedom in the first place to celebrate anything, even in a makeshift manner, becomes the most precious of all. And I hope I never get to the place that I ever sit down at home on Thanksgiving, Hannukah or Christmas, surrounded by people whom I love, where there isn’t a significant part of me that wishes I was in a Dfac,(dining facility,) in the Sandbox,(Iraq,) with the Joes and Janes. (Soldiers.)”

Please, won’t you take a moment to send a card or a care package to our brave ones? There are a number of great organizations who have this down to a science, one of my favorites being Move America Forward. You have no idea how much you will bless a soldier or civilian serving you this winter, and hopefully this “collection of recollections” will help paint the picture. Thank you for thanking our soldiers, at the holidays and all year long. God bless you!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Holiday Bazaar Happy Hanukkah

American EagleIf you are reading this article, former 4 Star General as well as recently resigned ClA Director David Petraeus by now has most likely testified in the Benghazi mess, either in public or behind closed doors. Because we went to press before we could hear what he had to say, the point of this article will not be to compare what he said right after the 9/11/12 attack in Libya with what has come forth most recently. And while what he says is more than likely the true lynch pin that could make the difference between his superiors being impeached, or the entire matter being made to go away, there is something much sadder going on than any of us will ever be able to comprehend, especially for our troops, and that is, we have, for the time being, lost a hero.

General David Patraeus

Petraeus was the best, a legend throughout Iraq. He understood the concept of “hearts and minds” as no one else did, was truly gifted at dealing with all the nuances of tribal life and leadership, and oversaw the training of more than 100,000 Iraqis in various positions of law enforcement and military service. Biographers described him as one who “did it right, and won over Mosul.”

He was the main reason that the surge worked, and his ideas withstood the criticism of those who could only theorize. It was, in part because of words like the following that he was our hero:

“You stand there, deployment after deployment, and fight on. You’ve lost relationships, spent years of your lives in extreme conditions, years apart from your kids you’ll never get back, and beaten your body in a way that even professional athletes don’t understand. Then you come home to a nation that doesn’t understand. They don’t understand suffering. They don’t understand sacrifice. They don’t understand why we fight for them.” And, he did so, i.e. fight, right along with his soldiers in some of the toughest times in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Once upon a time, I was one of those who “did not understand,” and it was for people like me that he fought, and inspired others to do so as well. I had the opportunity to be in Iraq when General Petraeus came back and assumed command. I, like many, was relieved by his return to The Great Sandbox.

I am sad for his wife, family, country, and all the families involved in this mess that continues to be stranger than fiction. I don’t excuse his actions, and I know that the chances are very slim of us ever truly knowing what happened. I think it’s entirely possible that on several levels he is being set up, and just last night had a conversation with a former Navy Corpsman who agreed with me. We are by no means alone in our suspicions that much more is going on here than meets the eye.

I do, however, take comfort in the story of his namesake, King David. No one was a better warrior, and few have blown it worse. Yet, of David it was said by the holy God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that he was a “man after God’s own heart, save in the matter with Bathsheba.” May this contemporary “4 star David” find his way through this personal and national disaster, tell the truth, and experience redemption. After all that he has done for us, he deserves our prayers to that end.

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Lindsey Rossou Country Lane Discount

Benghazi
Anyone who knows me at all knows that I have an especially soft spot in my heart for the Navy S.E.A.L.S, having spent 16 months of my three years in Iraq living amongst them. And, continuing on, I experienced firsthand what happens when there is an inside job, betrayal at the hands of those in authority, and a resulting countermeasure of ongoing selfless bravery. We had two such events, the first being a “mole” in the nascent Iraqi Special Forces who facilitated the beheading of nearly a dozen of his fellow trainees. The second occurred when one of Saddam’s former officers infiltrated our base and tried to get some of the ISOF to kill American soldiers, and for several days, no soldier was allowed to be anywhere on base without a battle buddy. We as unarmed civilians made sure we were at all times with someone who could protect us, and the offending officer was brought to justice.

American EagleAs news of what occurred in Benghazi began to come forth in fits and starts back in September, my “antennae” went straight up, curious at the confusing and conflicting accounts, and hoping against hope that the inability to report whether some of those who had died were Marines or S.E.A.L.S was only an indication of journalistic incompetence.

Then we received an email from a friend who, prior to becoming a Christian, was a sniper for the D.E.A., and who still has “friends on the inside.” The account he sent of what actually occurred, weeks before the rest of the media began to “spill the beans,” shed light on something upon which I had come to rely – the passion of S.E.A.L.S to defend and protect.

What we now know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that help was desperately needed, help was requested, and help was denied even prior to the September 11 terrorist attack. What we now know is that the attack was in no way precipitated by outrage caused by a stupid movie posted on the ‘net back in June. What we now know is that Tyrone Woods heard what was going down, came to help, saved more than 30 lives, and in the process gave his own. So did Glen Doherty. And, the creepiest of all, in part because of the moral implications, and in part because of the technology that made it possible, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton watched it happen in real time.

To pour salt in the wound, at the strange, out of sync ceremony that occurred in the hangar at Andrews AFB, “There you go Joe” (Biden) made a comment to Charles Woods, the father of Ty Woods that was jaw dropping as to its inappropriateness, and Hillary promised Mr. Woods that the filmmaker who had caused all of this would be roundly prosecuted. But what I found the most chilling, and the least surprising, was the fact that the Commander in Chief could not look the grieving father in the eye, and had the handshake of “a cold fish.”

At the very least, the entire scenario should make us cringe, and at the most, wonder if this cover up is an impeachable offense. Only time will tell, but this I know: The S.E.A.L.S will do what they always do, and that is put themselves in harm’s way for people like me, irrespective of who is in the Oval Office.

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Alabama Veterans Museum Anniversary Lindsey Rosou - Escape

Veteran's Day

American EagleThe 5th annual Veterans’ Day Parade is set to be held on the 3rd of November at 11 am. This year the Grand Marshall is going to be a WWII POW by the name of Dempsey McLemore, and Dempsey has quite the story to tell. He was part of the 82nd Airborne, and parachuted into France behind enemy lines. His mission was to blow up bridges, destroy power grids and communications systems, and in general, wreak havoc upon and cause mayhem for the Germans. He was captured and held in a German prisoner of war camp. Ultimately he was rescued by the Russians, returned to the States, built a life, and became part of the Greatest Generation. He lives here with his wife, Virginia.

Another participant in the parade will be Lt. General Richard Formica, who is the Commander of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Command/Army Forces Strategic Command at Redstone Arsenal.

I mentioned that this is the 5th Annual Veterans’ Day Parade, and the fact that it is only the 5th one makes me wonder, why? I know it’s football season, people are busy, and no one needs any more guilt dished on them. I also know that for most of my life I looked upon Veterans’ Day as a time when there would be good sales being held, it would be a three day weekend, and the banks would be closed. I was disconnected from the whole meaning of the day, as is the case with many, I am afraid.

American FlagWhy should we bother to take a little more than an hour out of our day to stand in what could be really chilly weather and watch some floats, marching bands and horse riders go by while we wave at them? So many reasons, the first being that, as actor Tom Hanks has said so famously, “It’s time to say thank you.” The Veterans of WWII are not getting any younger, and these treasures need to be treasured before they are gone forever. Same for Veterans of the Korean War, often referred to as the “Forgotten War.” I had the experience of saying “thank you” to a Korean War vet who is the father of a friend a few years back, and he said I was the FIRST one in his entire life to do so! What a shame.

In wouldn’t hurt to take the time to thank those who fought in Vietnam, either. In a “former life,” people like me made life hell for people like them, and while being vilified is incredibly tough, I think that it is actually worse to be ignored, which is something I am afraid is going to happen to those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So, if you can, and I really do mean that without an ounce of snark, take the time to come out on November 3rd You can reflect for a moment on the courage of those who have put themselves in harm’s way, either long ago or just recently, so that you and people you’ll never meet can be free to go to a parade in the first place.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Limestone Drug Company