I never planned on becoming an old veteran 15

As Veteran’s Day approaches once more, my thoughts turn to how many veterans I have known in my life. My Dad, of course, comes to mind immediately. He served during the last year of World War 2 in the Navy and returned to an America that was fundamentally changed from the country he had grown up in. His father served in World War 1 and his grandfather served in the Civil War. All of them were volunteers and each came home and participated in veterans groups until they passed on to the next reunion.

Growing up in my hometown, veterans always seemed to be really old.

Their original uniforms were ill-fitting and sometimes they had to wear the uniforms of the organizations they belonged to like the Legion and the VFW. Any attempt to get into one of their original uniforms for many was a struggle that got harder as the years passed. They walked a little slower than I am sure they must have when they served. Some struggled with mended limbs while others just fought the battle of arthritis. But none of them ever seemed to complain. They jockeyed up to see who would have the honor of carrying the flag or one of the Springfield Rifles as part of the honor guard. All of them understood that they were carrying that flag and the rifles for someone who was not able to be there to do so.

As the years passed, there seemed to be less and less of them marching.

Some had to slow down because they were no longer able to take that walk in the cold November weather. Others had long since joined their fallen comrades after having that same flag draped over their coffin. I visit my Mom every Tuesday at the retirement home she lives in now and this week I got a chance to see the men still living as they viewed the pictures from their younger days. Some now need assistance but all came to attention as best they could when the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem were recited and sung. I can’t imagine any of those men kneeling except maybe on the beaches of Normandy to try and avoid getting shot by a German machine gun. Or maybe on a beach in the Pacific to try and comfort a buddy that had just been maimed by a Japanese shell.

Going off to fight for my country

Like my Dad and his Dad, I joined when I was seventeen. I was in a hurry to leave town and serve my tour in uniform. Frankly, at seventeen, all I thought about was the glory and the nice uniform that would set me apart from my peers. Okay, I also thought about how it would help me with girls, but at seventeen, what young man doesn’t have at least a passing desire for the opposite sex. At least in the world I grew up in anyway.

And then reality set in

Imagine my disappointment when I discovered very early on that the payment for wearing that uniform was a lot of sacrifices. On the first day, you find out that in order to serve, you lose your freedoms. Really basic stuff like the freedom to wake up when you want, the freedom to speak when you desire and the freedom to get up and go anywhere and anytime you want. Gone. Just like that you find out that the rights you have taken for granted all of those years are no longer available to you.

Don’t get me wrong, you can still do all of those things. But you will pay an extraordinarily high price if you do not follow the rules.  What you don’t realize is that from that day until the day you are finished, all of those sacrifices are meant to shape you. You learn quickly that all of those around you are going through the same things. You are being built into a team and being prepared to do things that are unnatural and unpalatable to many people. Your actions as an individual and a team could result in the destruction of whole cities and the people within them. Or just a small village and a single enemy. No matter which, they would only be accomplished if the country was in danger. But you needed to be ready to answer if called.

I think that is when I started to understand why those veterans all looked so old.

It wasn’t just the passage of time. It was the understanding of the things they had seen and the things they had done. That hunched over old man wearing an Airborne Badge jumped out of a plane into enemy fire. That Marine who can barely walk had to climb over a sea wall at Inchon and spent the next two years of his life in hospitals trying to learn how to use his legs again. That sailor with the withered hands who survived burns over much of his upper body when a kamikaze plane crashed through the defenses of his ship.

They had the privilege of becoming old while many of their comrades did not.

The ones we remember on Memorial Day hold a special place in their hearts always. Some of them became old because they had something called survivors guilt. Why did that bullet take my brother and not me.

But when you look at your eyes, the age fades away. Those eyes that have seen so much are still intense with the feelings of achievement and sometimes a little pride. I see it every time I volunteer at the VA. I saw it last week at out Veterans Breakfast put on by my state Representative Justin Walsh. Those eyes saw unimaginable horrors but also saw the fruits of their sacrifices fulfilled. They achieved their mission and them came home to a country that was better for their service.

I am older now than the men were who I used to think were ancient. I survived my two decades of service while some of my generation did not. Many who served with me now are suffering from the ravages of age and diseases that surely came from their service. When I have been lucky enough to see them at reunions though, I notice something within a few minutes of talking with them. While outwardly we all appear older, we are all still very young at heart. To a person, they all say the same thing. If they were younger, they would do it all again.

Where do these men and women come from? More importantly, if the country needs them in the future, where will they come from?

Thank you to all who served. It was my greatest honor and privilege to serve as your comrade.

I never planned on becoming an old veteran. But with the Grace of God, I am thankful to still be able to write these words. I know many who did not have that written as part of their stories.

A couple of old Chief Warrant Officers

Mister Mac

 

Global Undersea Warfare Champions Reply

As Veterans Day 2018 approaches, I wanted to say thanks to the winning team that has given so much to the nation.

On December 7th, 1941, unforeseen circumstances changed the role of submarines forever. Gone was the role of coastal protection and scouting for the fleet and our submarine force has never looked back.

Sheer courage, unbridled innovation, and a collective surge of determination have all been the hallmarks of the United States Submarine Force.

Day or night, somewhere in the darkest part of the ocean, our Submariners are protecting this country from enemies who would take our freedom if we let them.

We never will.

Mister Mac

The Home Depot Foundation Pledges Quarter of a Billion Dollars to Veteran-Related Causes by 2020 3

Yesterday’s post was about a very unhappy man who was mad at

(insert name of home improvement store here)

for not being eligible for a military discount.

https://theleansubmariner.com/2018/10/24/lifer/

I was thinking after I posted that story that many people are not aware of how much some companies work very hard to support actual veterans-in-need causes.  Because I have worked with different groups over the years, I am a bit more familiar with them. It may surprise you as well.

This announcement was made in 2016 on Home Depot’s web site.

The Home Depot Foundation Pledges Quarter of a Billion Dollars to Veteran-Related Causes by 2020

The Home Depot Foundation has focused on U.S. military veteran support since 2011. Today’s increased commitment will help address continued veteran challenges, including:

More than 39,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. More than one million veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks and subpar living conditions.

“We consider it a duty and honor to give back to our veterans,” said The Home Depot Foundation board member and chair Giles Bowman. “We know they experience many challenges when they return from service and their home shouldn’t be one of them. This increased commitment demonstrates our dedication to serving our nation’s heroes.”

The announcement kicks off The Home Depot Foundation’s sixth annual Celebration of Service. Celebration of Service is a two-month-long campaign focused on improving the homes and lives of U.S. military veterans and their families. From September 1 through Veterans Day, Team Depot, The Home Depot’s associate-led volunteer force, will work with local and national nonprofit organizations to complete projects for aging, combat-wounded and homeless veterans.

Since that time, they have also made massive donations for disaster relief in some of the major hurricanes and storms around the country. In 2018 alone, they have increased their charitable giving to over $4,000,000.

http://ir.homedepot.com/news-releases/2018/10-12-2018

I have to assume that many of the areas affected by the storm are home to veterans and will benefit from the generosity of Home Depot and others.

I am very sorry the gentleman didn’t get his $1.50 discount on that hammer he wanted. He probably spent that much in gas as he drove across town to (insert name of the other home improvement store here).

But I did want to give a shout out to Home Depot for their awesome work with veterans of all kinds.

If you want to learn more about their story, you can go here:

https://corporate.homedepot.com/community/honoring-our-veterans

https://www.youtube.com/user/homedepot

Thanks to all who honor our veterans in meaningful ways.

Mister Mac

By the way, this is not a paid endorsement… just wanted to let some sun shine on a nice group of people

The New “Star” in Star Spangled Banner Reply

This morning, I was honored to join a few members of the Pittsburgh Sea Cadet Battalion in helping to kick off the Bike Ride for Operation Troop Appreciation in Pittsburgh. This even helps to raise funds to build and sustain the morale and wellbeing of the military community, past and present, with the assurance that the American public supports and appreciates their selfless service and daily sacrifices.

This 100 mile run will travel the hills and valleys of Western Pennsylvania in support of our troops still deployed and those who return to our country after serving.

It is very humbling to see all of the volunteers and meet the bikers who came out to support. God bless all of you for your efforts.

Thanks to the Sea Cadets and a special thanks to the guest singer Antolena who performed one of the most amazing renditions of the National Anthem many of us have ever heard.

http://operationtroopappreciation.org/

https://www.facebook.com/Antolena-2042019952781129/?__tn__=HHH-R

https://www.facebook.com/pittsburghseacadets/

The New “Star” in Star Spangled Banner

When I came home, I posted the pictures and related a few of the stories on Facebook I learned while I was at Operation Troop Appreciation’s Pittsburgh facility this morning. I posted a picture of the young lady (Antolena) and wrote the following comment to go with it:

“Sometimes we take for granted that the National Anthem will be sung nicely. It happens so often that a beautiful young lady or handsome young man stands before a group of total strangers and gives a very pleasant version of a very difficult song. Then, every once in a great while, or in this case, for the very first time, you are standing less then ten feet from someone who owns the song from the moment they open their mouth. No fear. No quivering of the voice. No searching for notes. Without the flourishes and fanfare of an orchestra, you hear something that represents what the song stands for. Courage. Skill. Spirit. When Francis Scott Key wrote the words, he did so with a determination that was meant to convey the emotions he felt at seeing that flag still standing. When I heard you sing this morning, I felt what he felt. So many people had tears in their eyes when you were done. I know that God was with you. I pray that no matter what journey life takes you on, He is always there with you. God Bless you.”

While I was writing my tribute and without any warning, her Mom was writing the following note to me. Both notes appeared simultaneously:

” Bob; I will never forget the day Antolena discovered she was born the same day as Francis Scott Key. She said she had chills and how ironic. The day she first sang at PNC park for the Pirates was her birthday Aug. 1. She said I want to make him proud performing his star spangled banner on “our” birthday!! Funny how God always places people in each other paths…blessed for certain”

To all of my readers: I hope the day comes that you get a chance to hear this young lady sing. I have a suspicion that you probably will!!!

Mister Mac

Its always the quiet ones… the story of Captain Mike Rose, US Army retired Reply

Image result for huey medevac helicopter

This story is dedicated to all of the heroes in our lives.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. In our American culture, we are taught from an early age about the heroes who protect us from all manner of bad things. Stories of policemen and firemen rescuing people at great risk to themselves still make us feel good about our fellow mankind. Medical personnel who do amazing things to save and preserve live are also high on our list of heroes. Men and women who served in ships and submarines living lives filled with unseen dangers that ordinary people couldn’t possibly fathom. Soldiers and marines and airmen exposed to things that defy our belief. In a world with so many negatives, I believe we all look for and appreciate the moments when one of us rises up and does the extraordinary. It gives us hope that mankind is not completely lost in self-absorption and individual focus.

The one thing about real heroes I have observed though, is how often you don’t know who they are.

True heroes are the ones who dust themselves off, thank God for their fortune in still being alive and move on with their lives. They can be the person behind you at the grocery store. They can be the old man sitting in a chair at the nursing home with the blank expression on his face. They can be the person who shows up at work every day just being the best at what they do that day. You just never know.

The project from hell

A long time ago, I was working as a project manager for a company on a very difficult project. Two people who held that role before me had already been fired and the third was so anxious to leave he threatened to quit. I was sent in his place. Within a few short weeks, it was obvious that the contract had been badly bid and we were short staffed. The person who managed the group got “promoted” and my new boss offered me help. The help they sent was a white haired older gentleman who like me was a retired military officer who had once been retired. He was Army and I was Navy but we quickly learned each other’s strengths. Over the next year, we turned the project around and exceeded all of the goals that had been set.

The cavalry arrived just in time

Before Mike arrived, I had been told that he was very detail oriented and sometimes could be hard to work with. To be honest, his attention to detail is part of what helped us survive. I came to view him as a brother and friend and not just an employee. He didn’t talk much about his military background. I just knew that he had been an Army Medic in Vietnam and later was given a promotion to the officer corps where he worked in artillery. He briefly mentioned something about a long ago conflict where he had been wounded which is why he was so sensitive to heat and cold.

When the project ended, we stayed friends and have exchanged Christmas cards and emails through the years. Fast forward to October 2017. My wife and I were watching the news and the scene shifted to the White House room where they hold ceremonies. The camera focused on the President placing a familiar blue patterned ribbon with a medal around the neck of a white haired older man. I looked at my wife and said:

“Holy shit, that’s Mike Rose”

The white haired man wearing an Army dress uniform and those familiar wire rimmed glasses was Captain Gary Michael Rose. This quiet, very unassuming man had once saved the lives of so many men in a faraway battle that stayed hidden for many years. On this day, all of the years melted away and America got a chance to look at a real hero. This was the man who came to work every day and did common things in an uncommon way. But that would be Mike.

“Retired Capt. Gary “Mike” Rose enlisted in the U. S. Army, April 4, 1967. He attended basic training at Fort Ord, California, and Infantry Advanced Individual Training at Fort Gordon, Georgia. After graduating from AIT, he was promoted to private first class and attended the U.S. Army Jump School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

In October 1967, Rose began Special Forces Training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. A year later, he graduated as a Special Forces medic and was assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group. In April 1969, Rose was assigned to the 46th Special Forces Company, headquartered in Lopburi, Thailand. In April 1970, Rose was reassigned to the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group, 5th Special Forces Group.

In April 1971, Rose attended the Spanish Language School in Anacostia, D.C., then assigned to the 8th Special Forces Group (later designated the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Group) in Panama until August 1973.

In August 1973, Rose was selected to attend Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in Field Artillery in December 1973, and attended Field Artillery Officer Basic at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In 1978, Rose attended the Field Artillery Officer Advanced Course followed by various field artillery assignments in Germany, New Mexico, Korea and Fort Sill.

Rose graduated in December 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts in General Education and Military Science from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and a Masters of Arts in Communication from the University of Oklahoma in December 1989.

Rose retired from the U. S. Army in May 1987. He then worked as an instructional designer writing operator, user and maintenance manuals, as well as designing training for the manufacturing industry. He permanently retired in 2010. Rose has been married to his wife Margaret since 1971. They have three adult children and two grandchildren. In retirement, Rose has remained involved in charity activities primarily through the Knights of Columbus.

Rose’s military awards include the Distinguished Service Cross, the Bronze Star Medal with one oak leaf cluster and “V” device, the Purple Heart with two oak leaf clusters, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Good Conduct Medal with two knots, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Campaign with star, Presidential Unit Citation (MAC SOG), Vietnam Civic Action Honor Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation – with Palm Combat Medical Badge, Special Forces Tab, U.S. Army Parachute Badge, Thai Army Parachute Badge, Vietnam Parachute Badge, and several service ribbons.

The Official Citation

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to

Sergeant Gary M. Rose

United States Army

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Sergeant Gary M. Rose distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity while serving as a Special Forces Medic with a company-sized exploitation force, Special Operations Augmentation, Command and Control Central, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. Between 11 and 14 September 1970, Sergeant Rose’s company was continuously engaged by a well-armed and numerically superior hostile force deep in enemy-controlled territory. Enemy B-40 rockets and mortar rounds rained down while the adversary sprayed the area with small arms and machine gun fire, wounding many and forcing everyone to seek cover. Sergeant Rose, braving the hail of bullets, sprinted fifty meters to a wounded soldier’s side. He then used his own body to protect the casualty from further injury while treating his wounds. After stabilizing the casualty, Sergeant Rose carried him through the bullet-ridden combat zone to protective cover. As the enemy accelerated the attack, Sergeant Rose continuously exposed himself to intense fire as he fearlessly moved from casualty to casualty, administering life-saving aid. A B-40 rocket impacted just meters from Sergeant Rose, knocking him from his feet and injuring his head, hand, and foot. Ignoring his wounds, Sergeant Rose struggled to his feet and continued to render aid to the other injured soldiers. During an attempted medevac, Sergeant Rose again exposed himself to enemy fire as he attempted to hoist wounded personnel up to the hovering helicopter, which was unable to land due to unsuitable terrain. The medevac mission was aborted due to intense enemy fire and the helicopter crashed a few miles away due to the enemy fire sustained during the attempted extraction. Over the next two days, Sergeant Rose continued to expose himself to enemy fire in order to treat the wounded, estimated to be half of the company’s personnel. On September 14, during the company’s eventual helicopter extraction, the enemy launched a full-scale offensive. Sergeant Rose, after loading wounded personnel on the first set of extraction helicopters, returned to the outer perimeter under enemy fire, carrying friendly casualties and moving wounded personnel to more secure positions until they could be evacuated. He then returned to the perimeter to help repel the enemy until the final extraction helicopter arrived. As the final helicopter was loaded, the enemy began to overrun the company’s position, and the helicopter’s Marine door gunner was shot in the neck. Sergeant Rose instantly administered critical medical treatment onboard the helicopter, saving the Marine’s life. The helicopter carrying Sergeant Rose crashed several hundred meters from the evacuation point, further injuring Sergeant Rose and the personnel on board. Despite his numerous wounds from the past three days, Sergeant Rose continued to pull and carry unconscious and wounded personnel out of the burning wreckage and continued to administer aid to the wounded until another extraction helicopter arrived. Sergeant Rose’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty were critical to saving numerous lives over that four day time period. His actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 1st Special Forces, and the United States Army.

To see the whole story go here   https://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/rose/

 

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes.

The ones who did the most probably say the least. I have been honored to have lived and worked with some amazing people. I would be willing to bet many of you have too and maybe just don’t know it.

As you think about the world today, give thanks for the Mike Roses and all those who give so much. They truly have made a difference.

Mister Mac

Dedication Ceremony for the Submarine Service Memorial at the Cemetery of the Alleghenies 4

It was an honor today to be present as a Memorial Stone was Dedicated by the USSVI Requin Base Pittsburgh PA at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies near Pittsburgh.

The pictures tell the story.

Hand Salute!

I grew into it 4

I grew into it.

When you are seventeen and the whole world is just outside of you front door, you can be a little anxious to get started. Some kids will go off to college, some will go to work in a factory or mill, and some kids find themselves drawn to something more adventurous. In my case, that was the military and more specifically, the Navy.

I convinced my parents to sign the permission slip and without much real thought on my part (other than the foreign ports I would hopefully see) I raised my right hand and said a bunch of words. At seventeen, I honestly had very little idea what the words meant or what I was obligating myself for. As we were lining up to say them at the Navy office, I seem to remember a serious feeling coming over the whole proceeding. Up until that moment, the kids that were in the room with me had been typical kids just kind of joking and being “brave”. Then we all said the words together…

“I… (state your name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the Officers appointed over me according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Yep. Seventeen years old and I just took an oath to support and defend a document I had barely read in school and understood even less. I was supposed to defend it against all enemies both foreign and domestic (whatever that meant) and I was going to obey the orders of a guy I have never met in person and a bunch of men and women who I had not yet met.

What was I thinking? I was only seventeen. I had only shot a gun a few times before and certainly had never shot at another human being. And orders? Holy cow, my Dad and I used to fight like two prize fighters over the stupidest stuff. Now I had to willingly follow the orders of some guy I hardly knew?

But I grew into it.

The Navy very wisely sent me off to boot camp where I met a large number of other bewildered young men. We marched, we got up at a certain time every day, and we learned about Navy stuff while starting to become men. We learned to look out for each other and give up some of our self. We learned about teamwork and sacrifice. We learned that there are consequences for bad behavior and we learned about authority.

On graduation day from Boot Camp, our parents and girlfriends came to see us march one last time. I was in the band and I still can’t remember a group of guys performing those songs with any more pride or talent. When the last note was finished and the announced that we were now US Navy sailors, there was a sense of completion and a sense of fear of the unknown ahead. What kind of sailor would I be? Would the task be more than I was able to complete? We had heard all the stories about brave men and ships being attacked by the enemy and to be honest I was not certain I would measure up.

But I grew into it.

The challenges would come faster and faster over the years. Technical schools, submarine school, the first of my five boats leading to becoming a Chief Petty Officer. But through it all, we learned our new roles and we were ready to do what we had agreed to do those many years ago in a small town Recruiters office someplace in America. We became the teachers and the mentors and the leaders who served this great nation in times of peace and war. Then the day came when our time was up and we had to relinquish the watch. A new generation would fill our billets and have to carry on the traditions. The nation would have to depend on them for protection. I wondered how they would do.

But you know what? They grew into it too. As the earth continues to turn and as freedom loving peoples still desire freedom, a strong Navy will always be needed. There will never be a shortage of enemies who would take that freedom away if they had the means.

I just pray as I look around the country now that enough young people will still be willing to raise their right hands and give themselves and the country a chance to grow into an even better place than when my generation were in charge. This modern Antifa movement is kind of frightening to me. Many of these kids are seventeen too and maybe aren’t sure what it means to attack your own country. There is a word for that: Treason

Mister Mac

 

Still serving – More resources for veterans and their families 1

Once in a while, I get emails from people who have checked out the web site and found one of the pages meaningful. I recently got this email and wanted to share it with my readers.

Our veteran population is growing day by day and the issues and concerns they will have to face do not stop when they hang up their uniforms. We think of them sometimes but the problems they face are real and exist every day. Overcoming a long term health issue can be challenging when facing it alone so any additional resources mean making the difference between success and failure.

The Leansubmariner will continue to do its best to bring connections to people still fighting the country’s battles, even the ones they sometimes have to fight in silence.

Mister Mac

 

Hi,

I’m writing to thank you for the resources here you’ve put together to help those who serve. My father-in-law is a disabled vet and lung cancer survivor, and it has meant the world to be able to find resources to help him pay for everything he needs. You’re really doing a great service for people like him – I cannot thank you enough.

I’m happy to pass on some other pages we’ve found useful, in case you or your viewers might think so too:

Aging Vets – How to Plan Wisely for Your Future
Residential Leases and the Military – Your Rights
Resources for Vets & Families Living with Cancer
Military Veterans Resource Center
Assistive Tech for Veterans and Military
Guide to Military Moves
Behavioral Health for Veterans
Mental Health Needs of Vets & Families
Justice for Vets

Thanks,

Meagan C.

Silent Service: Submarine Warfare in WW2 2

Chub 2 Chub 3 Chub

As Memorial Day 2015 approaches, I am once again reminded that submarine sailors paid a heavy price during the second World War in a way that is vastly more expensive that nearly any other type of war fighting based on a per capita measurement.

This video certainly captures many of the issues they faced.

In honor of the day… the top five posts on TLS Reply

299975_2269444587380_1586561932_2226982_1880440993_n.jpg

What worked best in the past three and a half years? Not surprisingly, submarine sea stories were the most popular.

I am grateful to the folks who have contributed as much as I am to those that have visited. So here they are as of today (January 31, 2015)

1. https://theleansubmariner.com/2013/11/24/id-like-to-be-a-submariner-how-hard-could-that-be/

2. https://theleansubmariner.com/2014/02/21/hey-you-have-the-next-watch/

3. https://theleansubmariner.com/2014/02/16/ever-a-submariner-by-jody-rurham-mm2ss-a-gang/

4. https://theleansubmariner.com/2014/12/24/did-it-matter/

5. https://theleansubmariner.com/2014/07/29/just-let-it-go/

One that did not make the top five was one of my very favorite posts and truly shows the bravery of a generation that is fast leaving us: https://theleansubmariner.com/2011/10/25/taffy-3-courage-beyond-measure/

As always, thanks for your visits.

Did your favorite make the list? Let me know what it was and why it was something you liked…

Mister Mac