Sorry for the length freinds, but the author Mr. Ruggiero is a fellow coworker and is a good friend of mine.
I thought I would share it with everyone.
USAF MSgt (Ret.) Ed Harkins' letter (way below mine), is on the money. I wish to add to his sentiment. John Kerry is a disgrace to the United States, not just Vietnam Veterans. I am a proud Vietnam vet who served a difficult tour (1968-1969), during one of the worst periods of the war. I did it the hard way....I enlisted in the Army as a volunteer. I did not await the decision of a draft lottery, and despite being a straight A student throughout my many years of Catholic School education, I did not seek, nor WOULD I have sought, a college deferment. I went off to basic training and infantry school as an enlisted soldier, and performed with total pride during my four years of active Regular Army service. Every moment of every day during training, the war was in my thoughts.
I had grown up in Brooklyn, New York, and despite what you may have heard about "impersonal" big city life, I had strong friendships and traditional American beliefs: God, Country and Duty. Friends of mine had gone off to war and died, or returned as mangled versions of the people I once knew as young, athletic, strong men. My father was a veteran of WWII, also an infantry soldier and a proud NCO. Dad was at the major battles of the European Campaign, including the hardest fought battle of the war, Monte Cassino. As a child, I grew up admiring my father's multiple Bronze Stars for Valor, nestled among his many decorations, which were framed and hanging on the dining room wall for decades. I am the proud custodian of that heritage today.
I was raised to believe that honor, courage, loyalty, faith, and respect were the benchmarks of character. A man was only as good as his word, and his respect was measured by the challenges he faced and conquered. Some members of our present society will tell you that the America of the 1950's and 60's was suffering from myopic vision, and that the concepts of devotion and Americanism were monolithic in nature and anachronistic; nothing more than relics of a time gone by. That's a lie. Americans were proud, resourceful and capable. And that attitude was not only found in American Legion halls or VFW posts. It could easily be observed in any public or private school, park church, non-profit organization or neighborhood association.
So with a strong sense of moral conviction, and a desire to right the wrongs of the world, I went off to war. I intended to defend the honor of my country in a struggle against global communism. Along the way, I made many friendships, and lost many friends. I served in the jungles and in the rice paddies in the most brutal profession known to mankind; the infantry. Among my duties were the responsibility for the defense of the defenseless; the restoration of hope to the hopeless; and the survival of my brother soldiers. I pulled duty in the mud, the rain, the sweltering heat, and oppressive conditions that could break the will of any man. Yet during my tour, I did not shirk, I did not gripe, I did not falter. I did my duty.
Yes, there were many times when it was the will of God alone that made me survive. I was a good student in infantry school, but a novice nonetheless. Until you first taste combat, you can not appreciate the bitterness it leaves in your mouth. But every day, on every mission, in every situation, I kept faith with my fellow soldiers, and those who preceded me in history, such as my own father.
I was briefly separated from my unit on a combat mission, and was "missing in action". My God, my training, my faith in my instructors and the lessons I had learned are what brought me back to safety. I saw horrific things in a land of great beauty. But the greatest thing I witnessed was the love of brothers in arms. I had the high honor of having known, and having served alongside, a brave Army officer from my hometown of Brooklyn, NY. His deed was forever committed to history when he saved the lives of his fellow soldiers by jumping upon a grenade at the cost of his own life. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. This was the caliber of American with whom I was privileged to serve. More about that in a moment.
You will not read of my exploits in any military journals or war
magazines. I was just one of millions of Americans who performed their duty with honor in that war, and then moved on. Fortunately, I returned alive, unlike some of my friends. Like many former warriors of earlier conflicts; WWI, WWII, and Korea among them, I returned to civilian life and put my medals away. I was never ashamed of my service, but I kept it in context.
While in Vietnam, it became obvious that the war effort was causing
tremendous turmoil and trouble at home. We heard of mass protests,
demonstrations, and acts of civil disobedience that led to criminal acts
against the government. I never lost faith in my nation and its' just cause. Vietnam had its' heroes, but I was not among them. I was merely a soldier who answered his call to duty, and did his time. I was not a hero, I was a patriot.
Over the next several years, a surge towards anarchy prevailed. College campus buildings and other public facilities were attacked and overtaken. Dishonorable people who desired the overthrow of our political system used anti-war sentiment as a shield for their despicable hated of America and what it represented. I heard all the arguments, observed all the controversy, and my faith in America never wavered. Not once did I speak out against my country.
With the fall of Saigon, and the "loss" of the war, I admit I had days of disappointment. But I held a strategic overview, and considered the loss of Vietnam as nothing more than a battle in the war against global communism. Many years later, I rejoined the military family in the administration of Ronald Wilson Reagan. I was so inspired by what he was doing to promote democracy by challenging those who opposed it, that when given the opportunity to enlist in the Air National Guard, I did so. I knew nothing of Air Force life. I did not understand their "code". I was an Army vet, an outsider at first. A great friend, a recruiter named Richard Doctor, convinced me to take the plunge. During that period in the 1980's I was a federal employee, working for the US Postal Service, one of several full time jobs I held simultaneously. My newly accepted military responsibilities fit well with my civil service lifestyle, and I jumped into it with both feet.
I was proud to again be wearing the uniform when the Berlin Wall came
crashing down. I saw the removal and overthrow of dictators. I witnessed the defeat of communism in our own hemisphere, in Central America, and the complete isolation of the despot, Fidel Castro. In the mid 1980's I became an employee of the Department of the Army, as a weapons specialist. The fall of the Evil Empire justified the setback in Vietnam. America regained her prestige in the world, and we veterans could be proud in public.
Being American was "OK". I had kids. My oldest son, Charles III, filled me with pride when he enlisted in the Air National Guard and went off to training. Years later, he still serves proudly. His wife, Michele, is also a veteran of active duty with the USAF. My younger son, John, is now at the age of eligibility for military service. He has the same vision as his grandfather, his father and his brother. He is a good American and sees the hypocrisy of the media and the duplicity of those who seek personal gain at the expense of national honor and security. My brothers John and James served their country. John in the Army, Jim in the Marine Corps. My brother-in-law Sal Savino served as an MP in Saigon. I have other members of my extended family in service to their nation. Many of my Air Guard friends served in Desert Storm with honor, distinction, and pride. Eventually I retired from the Air National Guard in March, 2004 with 26 years of service to my country.
Back during the Vietnam war days, I was aware of people like John Kerry. The antiwar activists as a class were well known to me, because I kept myself informed. I remember the original footage, on the news, of his anti-American antics. I found him to be a petty annoyance, insignificant and unimportant. My analysis of him then was that he was disloyal, disrespectful and dishonorable.
Have you ever heard the slogan "time changes a man"? Apparently not so
with Kerry. He is still disloyal, disrespectful and dishonorable. The
problem is that he is no longer merely annoying, insignificant and
unimportant. He has become significant and very dangerous. He cloaks himself in the clothing of a former warrior, and proudly touts his medals for all the see. Yes, this is the same man who mocked the honor of brave patriots and heroes.
Kerry is neither a patriot nor a hero. I know who the patriots are; some of their names appear in the address line of this e-mail. Jeff Hunt, Ed Sobus,George Sobus, Mark Sobus, Michelle Brody, Joel Crane, and Chris Ford are named. My son Charlie is a patriot, as is Richard Doctor and hundreds of others I know who serve proudly still, after many years of service.
I know who the heroes are, and Kerry is not a hero. I have stood in the presence of a true American hero. He was 1LT John Earl Warren Jr. If you want to learn about him, go to http://www.mishalov.com/Warren.html
and read how he earned his Medal of Honor. I had the privilege to know this man, work with him, walk alongside him and share meals with him. I also had the distinct sorrow to read his name carved in a black granite panel in that damned wall in D.C.
More than a dozen years ago, I received a call which surprised me. It was from the executive officer of the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment at Fort Drum. I had been at Fort Drum for a number of years, but I never learned how they knew of my service in Vietnam with their battalion, since I am not a member of the regimental association or any veteran's group affiliated with that unit. This fine young officer explained to me that I was the only veteran of the battalion they could locate, who was in close proximity to Fort Drum. He had a request, and presented it to me by telephone.
I was asked if I would attend a memorial service combined with a Battalion Change of Command ceremony. Two other veterans, from WWII and Korea, would be in attendance. I was told it would be a great honor to have me present. As a proud civil servant, former soldier, and member of the Air National Guard, I was honored and flattered by the request. There was a benediction, a wreath placing ceremony, and a pass in review by the troops of the battalion. The Generals were in attendance. I was so proud to be a veteran of the Vietnam War.
I was also asked if I would give a short speech at the dedication of a
building to be occupied by the battalion, in the recently constructed troop area of Fort Drum. Not knowing the nature of the dedication, I agreed. As it turned out, the building was being dedicated to the memory of 1LT Warren. I was stunned. In the end, I found myself being introduced to the entire assembly of the installation's chain of command, and the battalion soldiers. I was incapable of speech. Overcome with emotion, understanding the real nature of the sacrifice made by this heroic American, I felt unworthy to address his memory. John Warren had no known survivors, no family could be located. The one person who had actually met him, and who could represent the memory of this brave soul, was choked with emotion and rendered mute. The meaning of the word "HERO" is clearer to me than it is to most people,
even those who have fought in wars.
My father was a hero in his own right. He earned his Bronze Stars and
Combat Infantry Badge on battlefields strewn with the debris of human
carnage. Like all soldiers, committed to victory or death, fighting for the duration of the war, he stood his ground and prevailed. His generation, which included many of my uncles who fought in that war, and not all of whom survived, saved the world. God Bless EVERY American patriot and veteran.
John Warren was a hero in the most precise definition of the term. His
deed was larger than life, and claimed his life in the making. His exploit stands tall, among those of the patriots of Saratoga, Brandywine, New Orleans, Antietam, Richmond, Manila, Tripoli, Chateau Thierry, Cantigny, The Hurtgen Forest, Arnhem, Anzio, Chosin, Kimpo and Hue. Many of the men at those battles were heroes, and so was John Earl Warren Jr.
I know patriots, and I have known heroes, and John Kerry is neither. No patriot would disavow his love of country and drag it through the mud as Kerry did, alongside accomplices like Fonda and Hayden. No hero would
disgrace the sacrifices of brothers-in-arms by supposedly tossing his medals away in a public display of anger and protest.
No patriot or hero would ever lie to our Congress, claiming that the
murders of innocent civilians, the needless burning of villages for no
military purpose, the rape of women, and the slaughter of livestock were
done in a wholesale manner, with craven indifference for international laws and with total disrespect for humanity. Kerry's claim that such events were commonplace is a lie. There were isolated incidents of abuse, as there were in any war, but it is curious that he failed to chronicle the famous enemy tactic of booby-trapping children and using them as human suicide bombers. In my time in Vietnam, in the field and in base camps, I saw no such atrocities committed by Americans, as he describes.
Here's what I saw: Vietnamese citizens who believed in the hope of liberty and human dignity. Men and women who fought and died alongside their American defenders in the pursuit of freedom and self-determination. Dirt-poor peasant farmers who would give up the meager rice they had, to honor the Americans who made it their mission to defend their hamlets and villages throughout the countryside. Brave men who sacrificed all to defend their ideals, and their brother soldiers and Marines (Semper Fi, brother!).
I saw parents risk their lives, and lose, to protect their children from a hated enemy who came in the night and conscripted the unwilling, raped the defenseless, and preyed on the weak and elderly. I saw leadership with a concern for human survival and dignity in the face of war, as few have had the privilege to witness. I saw the tragedy of untimely death, and felt the ache of loss beyond my control.
Mr. Kerry, I never saw YOUR WAR. I saw the REAL WAR, not the carefully
scripted artifice you devised for political gain and popular favor. Like
millions of other veterans of war, I never exploited my service wrongfully for self-aggrandizing purposes. I never spit on my flag. I never put my boot to the banner of my country, known as a symbol of freedom and justice to oppressed people all over the world, and who look to the USA for salvation.
You sir, are a liar. Why is it that a group of Medal of Honor recipients have mounted a campaign against your election? It is because, despite your claim of heroic action and your Purple Hearts, they know a hero when they see one; and Mr. Kerry, IT AIN'T YOU! Why doesn't your "band of brothers" stand beside you with pride?
I do not like your politics. You engage in the politics of division and defeat. Your politics will not result in the defeat of the opposing
candidate, but the continual erosion of common morality espoused by those like you will defeat our nation if not checked in place. You are poison, like a venomous snake seeking prey. You seek to prevail through opportunism and class warfare worthy of historical figures with names like Engels, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Breshnev, Tse-tung and Hitler.
Your victory is all that matters, even if the loss of America is the
result, because all your side cares about is the removal of George Bush and the defeat of decency. Your party is the champion of gangsta rappers, trial lawyers, and felons. The party of Dan Rostenkowski, Marc Rich and Monica Lewinsky. Your constituency includes the ACLU, the North American Man-Boy Love Association, and thousands of people who vote democrat even though they've been dead for many years. Your party members can't read a ballot, or punch a hole in a piece of paper, yet you want them to be in control of the nuclear arsenal. You align yourself with pathetic chumps and losers like Al Franken, Al Sharpton, and Al Gore. Maybe what you need is Al-anon.
You want to turn control of America's destiny over to the United Nations and people in Europe who have the NERVE to call themselves our "allies". And all this from a self-convicted war criminal, meaning yourself. You stated under oath that you personally participated in war atrocities and murders. There is no statute of limitation on those crimes Mr. Kerry, so why don't you turn yourself into your buddies in the World Court? Maybe you and Slobodan Milosevic can be roomies.
I look forward to a political future without YOU. From now on, my "FREEDOM FRIES" are going to be smothered in "W" ketchup! Your brand of situational morality, combined with your dismal absentee record from the floor of the US Senate, should relegate you to Ron Reagan's ash heap of history, right on top of the former Soviet Union.
To those conservatives who might read these rantings, MOUNT UP! The time for action is now. How many of your friends have you registered to vote? Who are YOU taking to the polls on election day? When will YOU become a patriot and do your duty to preserve the honor and integrity of our way of life? If you don't plan to vote, mail me a spare key to your house. I'll drop it in an envelope, along with your home address, and send it to Al Quaeda. If you don't want to change this election, they sure do Get off your lazy asses and do something to defeat the candidate they are hoping will win. Are you a gun owner?
Even more reason to vote! Are you a parent? Do it for the future of your children.
I have not yet begun to fight. Pass the ammunition, and stay tuned for
more from me. Amen.
Patriot and Proud Veteran
I love the last couple sentences:
--- Ed Harkins wrote:
Some of us are just concerned that Kerry might be
considered a war hero, which he is not and the public being none the
wiser since none of the liberal press will challenge the candidate on
the truth of his military service in Vietnam. The press cover
his VVAW activity campaign by campaign giving comfort and support to
the enemy at a critical point in the war efforts. I believe it would be a terrible mistake to elect him as president and commander-in- chief of our military. He used his short military service for political and personal gain, there is reasonable doubt about his decorations and loyalty to his fellow veterans and he definitely hasn't support our military in the past nor will he do so in the future. He's a turn-coat, a self-serving politician of the worst kind and deserving of the contempt of those of us that did our service in an honorable way and stayed throughout our tours in Vietnam. I like many of you were there more than once, the price we paid for being career military. Kerry isn't worthy of being the President of these United States and I personally recent Edwards telling people that Kerry was a true war hero and that he cared about those men serving their country there. It isn't the truth and people need to be told that. Now, if that is political, so be it. I'm all for giving the guy a blanket party. Maybe if that had happened, we wouldn't be listening to his BS now.
Ed Harkins, MSgt. USAF Ret.