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Category Archives: VETERANS

Rudyard Kipling

I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!


Peter Harriman • • December 7, 2008

A year-and-a-half-old battle between South Dakota’s major veterans organizations and the administration of Gov. Mike Rounds is apparently going to continue into the 2009 legislative session.

At a meeting Saturday with Sioux Falls-area legislators, representatives from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans pressed lawmakers to pass a concurrent resolution to create a state department of veterans affairs separate from the Department of Military Affairs that now oversees veterans issues. The group also urged for a bill requiring the director of the division of veterans affairs to have nothing less than an honorable discharge from military service.

This stems from a belief among veterans leaders that their assessment was not taken into account when George Summerside was named state veterans affairs director more than a year ago.

Also, while South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long said Summerside’s honorable discharge from military service in 1976 satisfied requirements in state statute for his appointment as head of veterans affairs and any subsequent discharge is irrelevant, veterans groups think Summerside might have a less than honorable discharge on his record.

Ron Boyd, state adjutant of the American Legion, told legislators because the National Guard’s role in the U.S. military has become much more prominent in the past decade, the state Department of Military Affairs needs to make National Guard issues its highest priority and can no longer devote adequate attention to veterans issues. So the departments should be split.

Adjutant General Steven Doohen was in Sioux Falls for an Air National Guard activation ceremony Saturday. He said splitting off veterans affairs from military affairs could be costly.

“I think we can make it work,” he said of a combined department. He also gave Summerside an endorsement, saying he has done “an outstanding job,” as acting director.

“I can’t for the life of me understand why the administration is not listening to you on this,” State Sen. Minority Leader Scott Heidepriem said. “At a minimum, there should be a dialogue with the chief executive of the state.”

Sen. Majority Leader Dave Knudson called the administration’s approach “almost bizarre.” While he is not convinced military affairs and veterans affairs should be separate, the Legislature has the power to split them rather than encouraging the governor

to do so in a resolution.

“We could do a bill, not just a concurrent resolution. I think you’re maybe aiming too low, frankly,” he said.

Sen. Tom Dempster, R-Sioux Falls, told veterans “it troubles me more than anything that you don’t have a seat at the table, that your voices are not heard.”

Rep. Richard Engals, D-Hartford, said he would support a bill requiring a veterans affairs director to have nothing less than an honorable discharge.

The veterans groups also urged legislators to study whether a veterans cemetery and veterans home should be built East River.

Representatives of the Marine Corps League and Paralyzed Veterans of America also attended.

Ryan Green, of the PVA, said that group is urging the legislature to either adopt a statewide building code or use international building code standards to ensure that public buildings throughout the state are accessible to paralyzed veterans.

In your voice

In your voice

US special forces launch rare attack inside Syria ALBERT AJI, Associated Press Writer Albert Aji, Associated Press Writer –Abu Kamal, Syria, where U.S. military launched rare attack on fighter network; DAMASCUS, Syria – U.S. military helicopters launched an extremely rare attack Sunday on Syrian territory close to the border with Iraq, killing eight people in a strike the government in Damascus condemned as “serious aggression.” A U.S. military official said the raid by special forces targeted the network of al-Qaida-linked foreign fighters moving through Syria into Iraq. The Americans have been unable to shut the network down in the area because Syria was out of the military’s reach. “We are taking matters into our own hands,” the official told The Associated Press in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of cross-border raids. The attack came just days after the commander of U.S. forces in western Iraq said American troops were redoubling efforts to secure the Syrian border, which he called an “uncontrolled” gateway for fighters entering Iraq. A Syrian government statement said the helicopters attacked the Sukkariyeh Farm near the town of Abu Kamal, five miles inside the Syrian border. Four helicopters attacked a civilian building under construction shortly before sundown and fired on workers inside, the statement said. The government said civilians were among the dead, including four children. A resident of the nearby village of Hwijeh said some of the helicopters landed and troops exited the aircraft and fired on a building. He said the aircraft flew along the Euphrates River into the area of farms and several brick factories. The witness spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, Syria’s Foreign Ministry said it summoned the charges d’affaires of the United States and Iraq to protest against the strike. “Syria condemns this aggression and holds the American forces responsible for this aggression and all its repercussions. Syria also calls on the Iraqi government to shoulder its responsibilities and launch and immediate investigation into this serious violation and prevent the use of Iraqi territory for aggression against Syria,” the government statement said. The area targeted is near the Iraqi border city of Qaim, which had been a major crossing point for fighters, weapons and money coming into Iraq to fuel the Sunni insurgency. Iraqi travelers making their way home across the border reported hearing many explosions, said Farhan al-Mahalawi, mayor of Qaim. On Thursday, U.S. Maj. Gen. John Kelly said Iraq’s western borders with Saudi Arabia and Jordan were fairly tight as a result of good policing by security forces in those countries but that Syria was a “different story.” “The Syrian side is, I guess, uncontrolled by their side,” Kelly said. “We still have a certain level of foreign fighter movement.” He added that the U.S. was helping construct a sand berm and ditches along the border. “There hasn’t been much, in the way of a physical barrier, along that border for years,” Kelly said. The foreign fighters network sends militants from North Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East to Syria, where elements of the Syrian military are in league with al-Qaida and loyalists of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party, the U.S. military official said. He said that while American forces have had considerable success, with Iraqi help, in shutting down the “rat lines” in Iraq, and with foreign government help in North Africa, the Syrian node has been out of reach. “The one piece of the puzzle we have not been showing success on is the nexus in Syria,” the official said. The White House in August approved similar special forces raids from Afghanistan across the border of Pakistan to target al-Qaida and Taliban operatives. At least one has been carried out. The flow of foreign fighters into Iraq has been cut to an estimated 20 a month, a senior U.S. military intelligence official told the Associated Press in July. That’s a 50 percent decline from six months ago, and just a fifth of the estimated 100 foreign fighters who were infiltrating Iraq a year ago, according to the official. Ninety percent of the foreign fighters enter through Syria, according to U.S. intelligence. Foreigners are some of the most deadly fighters in Iraq, trained in bomb-making and with small-arms expertise and more likely to be willing suicide bombers than Iraqis. Foreign fighters toting cash have been al-Qaida in Iraq’s chief source of income. They contributed more than 70 percent of operating budgets in one sector in Iraq, according to documents captured in September 2007 on the Syrian border. Most of the fighters were conveyed through professional smuggling networks, according to the report. Iraqi insurgents seized Qaim in April 2005, forcing U.S. Marines to recapture the town the following month in heavy fighting. The area became secure only after Sunni tribes in Anbar turned against al-Qaida in late 2006 and joined forces with the Americans. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem accused the United States earlier this year of not giving his country the equipment needed to prevent foreign fighters from crossing into Iraq. He said Washington feared Syria could use such equipment against Israel. Though Syria has long been viewed by the U.S. as a destabilizing country in the Middle East, in recent months, Damascus has been trying to change its image and end years of global seclusion. Its president, Bashar Assad, has pursued indirect peace talks with Israel, mediated by Turkey, and says he wants direct talks next year. Syria also has agreed to establish diplomatic ties with Lebanon, a country it used to dominate both politically and militarily, and has worked harder at stemming the flow of militants into Iraq. The U.S. military in Baghdad did not immediately respond to a request for comment after Sunday’s raid. _____ Associated Press reporter Pamela Hess in Washington and Sam F. Ghattas in Beirut contributed to this report.

TAMPA, Fla.  — The Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating how benefit claims documents nearly got destroyed at four regional offices, including Bay Pines Health Care System in St. Petersburg.

Officials found 18 documents at the four offices that, if destroyed, would have negatively affected veterans’ claims. Eight of the documents, including applications and change requests, were found in St. Petersburg in a bin of paper waiting to be shredded.

The regional office in St. Petersburg handles pension and disability claims for Florida’s 1.8 million veterans, including veterans in Hillsborough County.

“Just the fact that we found the documents in these offices raises the concern, what has happened in the past,” said Michael Walcoff, the department’s deputy undersecretary for benefits in Washington. “It’s something we’re very, very concerned about.”

The documents were identified during a routine audit of mailroom operations by the department’s inspector general. Once vital records were found in shred bins in Detroit, St. Louis and Waco, Texas, the agency issued an order for all 57 regional benefits offices to stop shredding paper.

Inspectors are in St. Petersburg this week inspecting the mailroom bins, Walcoff said.

Officials at all other regional benefits offices are going through the contents of all shred bins to see if they contain more claims documents.

© Copyright 2008 Tampa Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Learn more about veteran benefits.

Man Admits to Posing as Admiral

He wore a short-sleeve Navy summer white uniform, crisp and pressed. He had the black and gold shoulder boards of a rear admiral and a chest full of ribbons and carried himself with the confidence such a high rank bestows. He said he was a veteran who had served all over the world, in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq.

Last year, at a ceremony in Falls Church to commemorate the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Day, Trung Huan Nguyen took the stage and addressed a crowd of about 100 Vietnamese Americans.

Although he certainly seemed like the real thing, there was something that wasn’t quite right about the man in white. No matter how perfect his uniform, or plentiful his service and personal decoration ribbons, some attendees were suspicious. They checked him out. And on Wednesday, Nguyen pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Alexandria to impersonating a Navy rear admiral.

In truth, Nguyen, of Middletown, Del., was only an enlisted man and had been out of the Navy for 13 years.

Prosecutors said Nguyen’s deceit went far beyond merely playing the part of a highly ranked officer at the event, held in June 2007. They said that he kept a profile on the Web site that claimed he was commissioned into the Navy as a medical doctor in 1985 and received special warfare training. In his online biography, he played up his combat experience and said he had served in the Persian Gulf War, the global war on terrorism and the Iraq war.

The reality, prosecutors said, was that he was an E-4, a petty officer third class, the equivalent of an Army specialist. He served aboard the Missouri and the Constellation and at the North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego. His Navy career lasted just four years and ended with an honorable discharge.

Lawyer David Hubbard said his client told the judge that he perpetrated the fraud because he had always wanted to be a naval officer and could never get over the disappointment of not realizing his dream.

“I think that he very much wanted to be in the officer corps and that despite his best efforts, he was disappointed that he never made it,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard could not say why the military rejected Nguyen’s request but said he was honorably discharged. He said Nguyen, who is in his early 40s, came to the United States from Vietnam and “joined the military as a way to fit in society, to find a place in America.”

He added that Nguyen apologized to the judge and is “very sorry for what he has done.”

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigated the case, and now Nguyen is facing a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He was released on a personal recognizance bond. As part of his plea, he agreed to turn over any uniforms, insignias and decorations he is not entitled to. He also is required to send in a “mental health evaluation and treatment and waive all confidentiality,” according to court documents.

A Navy spokeswoman declined to comment, as did prosecutors.

Nguyen’s case follows that of a Louisiana man who never served in the military but wore a full-dress captain’s uniform complete with a Navy Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart to his wedding in an effort to impress his wife. That man was sentenced to a year of home confinement after pleading guilty a week ago.

the reality

Trung Huan Nguyen said he was a rear admiral, but in reality he was an E-4, a petty officer third class, the equivalent of an Army specialist. He served aboard the Missouri and the Constellation and at the North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego. His Navy career lasted just four years and ended with an honorable discharge.


July 30, 2007

VA’s Suicide Hot Line Begins Operations

Nicholson: “Help a Phone Call Away”

WASHINGTON – To ensure veterans with emotional crises have round-the-clock access to trained professionals, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has begun operation of a national suicide prevention hot line for veterans.

“Veterans need to know these VA professionals are literally a phone call away,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson said. “All service members who experience the stresses of combat can have wounds on their minds as well as their bodies. Veterans should see mental health services as another benefit they have earned, which the men and women of VA are honored to provide.”

The toll-free hot line number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). VA’s hot line will be staffed by mental health professionals in Canandaigua, N.Y. They will take toll-free calls from across the country and work closely with local VA mental health providers to help callers.

To operate the national hot line, VA is partnering with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“The hot line will put veterans in touch – any time of the day or night, any day of the week, from anywhere in the country – with trained, caring professionals who can help,” added Nicholson. “This is another example of the VA’s commitment to provide world-class health care for our nation’s veterans, especially combat veterans newly returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The suicide hot line is among several enhancements to mental health care that Nicholson has announced this year. In mid July, the Department’s top mental health professionals convened in the Washington, D.C., area to review the services provided to veterans of the Global War on Terror.

– More –

Hotline 2/2/2/2

VA is the largest provider of mental health care in the nation. This year, the Department will spent about $3 billion for mental health. More than 9,000 mental health professionals, backed up by primary care physicians and other health professionals in every VA medical center and outpatient clinic, provide mental health care to about 1 million veterans each year.

# # #

For the latest news releases and other information, visit VA on the Internet at

To receive e-mail copies of news releases, subscribe to VA’s list server at:

Medal Of Honor The Medal Of Honor

Medal Of Honor Citation: Johnson, Dwight H.

Rank and organization:

Specialist Fifth Class, U.S. Army, Company B, 1st Battalion, 69th Armor, 4th Infantry Division.

Place and date:

Near Dak To, Kontum Province, Republic of Vietnam, 15 January 1968.

Entered service at: Detriot, Mich.

Born: 7 May 1947, Detroit, Mich.


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. SP5 Johnson, a tank driver with Company B, was a member of a reaction force moving to aid other elements of his platoon, which was in heavy contact with a battalion size North Vietnamese force. SP5 Johnson’s tank, upon reaching the point of contact, threw a track and became immobilized. Realizing that he could do no more as a driver, he climbed out of the vehicle, armed only with a .45 caliber pistol. Despite intense hostile fire, SP5 Johnson killed several enemy soldiers before he had expended his ammunition. Returning to his tank through a heavy volume of antitank rocket, small arms and automatic weapons fire, he obtained a submachinegun with which to continue his fight against the advancing enemy. Armed with this weapon, SP5 Johnson again braved deadly enemy fire to return to the center of the ambush site where he courageously eliminated more of the determined foe. Engaged in extremely close combat when the last of his ammunition was expended, he killed an enemy soldier with the stock end of his submachinegun. Now weaponless, SP5 Johnson ignored the enemy fire around him, climbed into his platoon sergeant’s tank, extricated a wounded crewmember and carried him to an armored personnel carrier. He then returned to the same tank and assisted in firing the main gun until it jammed. In a magnificent display of courage, SP5 Johnson exited the tank and again armed only with a .45 caliber pistol, engaged several North Vietnamese troops in close proximity to the vehicle. Fighting his way through devastating fire and remounting his own immobilized tank, he remained fully exposed to the enemy as he bravely and skillfully engaged them with the tank’s externally-mounted .50 caliber machine gun; where he remained until the situation was brought under control. SP5 Johnson’s profound concern for his fellow soldiers, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.

Having spent 20 fun years in Air Force blue I am quite proud about our performance over the last 240 years. This section will carry more good things than the bad or the ugly, but they need to be covered also.