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Posted by on Nov 11, 2015 in Military, War | 10 comments

Veterans Day 2015: One Never Runs Out of Names

vet Day 2015

So much has been written about our veterans on Their Day — thanking, honoring, mourning them — that sometimes it is difficult to come up with new words, fresh words, adequate words to express our immense gratitude, respect and, for the fallen, our grief.

But, for sure, one never runs out of names: The names of our friends and loved ones still living or departed who have worn our country’s uniform and have given it all for us.

There are 58,195 names engraved on the Vietnam Wall Memorial alone.

One day, all names for all wars will be engraved somewhere. For now, rest assured that every one of those names is engraved in the hearts and minds of the surviving sons and daughters, wives and husbands, fathers and mothers, grandparents, their descendants…

This Veterans Day, I will just list a few names of some good friends, some still with us, one “hanging in there,” and some no longer with us and thank them — I know you will do the same.

But first, some words from our President’s Veterans Day proclamation, because in it he mentions some of the veterans who we sometimes forget to include in our thoughts.

Those who are presently serving our country, still on active duty and their families:

The brave men and women of our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard demonstrate a resolute spirit and unmatched selflessness… On Veterans Day, we reflect on the immeasurable burdens borne by so few in the name of so many, and we rededicate ourselves to supporting those who have worn America’s uniform and the families who stand alongside them.

Our homeless veterans:

Just as every veteran deserves the support and benefits they have earned, those who have given everything to defend our homeland deserve a place of their own to call home.

Our wounded and troubled veterans, those suffering from the visible and invisible wounds of war and those who — having survived the battle for their life — come home and cannot survive the battle of their life.

No one who fights for our country should have to fight for the care they deserve. Earlier this year, I was proud to sign the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which fills critical gaps in mental health care by raising awareness and taking steps to improve access to care for those suffering from the invisible wounds of war.

I would add to this those who have fallen on foreign fields in recent and distant wars and have not made it home yet. More than 1,600 of them remain unaccounted just from the Vietnam War.

These are some of the veterans I am proud and honored to have come to call my friends:

Millie At-6 2

WASP Millie Dalrymple, who in 1942 answered our country’s call for women pilots to serve at home in order to free male pilots to fight the war overseas. Millie took her final flight in November 2012 at age 92.

Charlie Vietnam 3

Marine Lt. Col. Earl Charles “Charlie” Rodenberg who served his country with distinction for 24 years as a combat naval aviator, including in Vietnam and during Operation Desert Storm and who went on to earn the Air Medal with 25 “Strike/Flight” awards for heroism and meritorious service flying many helicopter rescue and attack-bomber combat missions. Our good friend and neighbor left us in February 2011. He was only 65.

img012 (2)

My good friend “Jack” who loved the Texas wildflowers so much, who served his beloved city of Austin so well as Director of the Austin Park and Recreation Department and his country so meritoriously in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. Jack was 82 when he left us in April 2014.

Chuck Heard 2
Just this April, another good friend and neighbor departed. Charles “Charlie” Monroe Heard had just celebrated his 90th birthday when he suddenly left us. Charlie served in the Pacific at the end of World War II.

Juanyta-Ortiz

U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Juanyta D. Ortiz (now Janie Johansen) who in December 1999, while flying over Kuwait in a C-130 in support of Operation Southern Watch when the aircraft accidentally impacted the ground and became airborne again suffering severe structural damage injuring dozens of passengers, several fatally, with complete disregard for her own safety used her aeromedical skills to help the injured passengers. Janie, now a grandmother, lives in Austin, Texas.

John closeup

Finally, my dear friend, 95-year-old World War II veteran, B-17 bombardier, John Tschirhart, in frail health, but waiting for his story, “The French American” to be told on the big screen. That Veterans Day story is here.

To all of them, and to so many more, we love you and honor you on Your Day.

Lead image: Courtesy U.S. Air Force

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Copyright 2015 The Moderate Voice
  • SteveK

    Thank you Dorian. I hope you’re having a good day with family, friends, and memories. Veterans Day is a good day for that sort of thing.

    For some reason the Leonard Cohen song “Anthem” has become part of my celebrating this day…

    The birds they sang at the break of day
    Start again I seemed to hear them say
    Do not dwell on what has passed away
    Or what is yet to be.

    Yeah the wars they will be fought again
    The holy dove she will be caught again
    Bought and sold and bought again
    The dove is never free.

    Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack, a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in.

    Edit to add:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_e39UmEnqY8

  • Slamfu

    As usual, a touching perspective into the lives and accomplishments of some of our soldiers, thanks DdW.

    I have never served, nor ever even seriously considered serving unless a major power was threatening invasion or attack. That being said I like to take part of Memorial Day and Veterans Day to be thankful for the fact that I have lived a life almost entirely free from the threat and horrors of war due to the actions of a lot of other people that chose to willingly go into it. Very few people in history can say that. The world is an ugly place, has always been, and I feel it’s our job to take as much of the randomness and cruelty out of it as best we can, and I was fortunate enough to born into a time and place that knows so much prosperity and peace that war is largely a foreign concept or a theme encountered in video games and movies for entertainment.

    Basically I’m very thankful to be an American in the late 20th and early 21st century, and I know I have a lot of people, many who died for it, to thank for that.

    • Lorie Emerson

      I am copying your comment Slamfu, since it so well expresses my thoughts and feelings that I don’t seem to have words for.

  • shaun

    Thank you so very much, Dorian.

  • DdW

    Thank you, Steve, Shaun and Slamfu for those sentiments. And Shaun and I believe Steve, too, thank you for your service.

    • shaun

      Indeed!

      This is the time of the year when I mention that 11 friends and I used to get together on Veterans Day. I’m now the only one left.

      • DdW

        Sorry to hear that, Shaun.

        Talking about military friends, I visited my dear Friend John Tschirhart this afternoon at an Austin hospital. John is the only and last World War II veteran close friend I have.

        To those who have been following his story (“The French American”), I just want to say that he had a very, very close call this past weekend.

        Fortunately, John is a very “tough guy,” has recovered marvelously and he may be going “home” shortly.

  • KP

    You hit the spot Dorian.

    • DdW

      Thanks, Kevin. A salute to your brother.

  • DdW

    @Rudi:

    There was an Instagram link to a wonderful photo of Tuskegee Airman Allie
    Peek.

    It is no longer here, but thank you anyway.

    I had the honor of meeting a Tuskegee Airman about three years ago, took copious notes and was going to write about him — never did.

    I hope he is still with us. Have to find my notes.

    They were amazing soldiers/airmen.

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