Tag Archives: Purple Heart

Dad’s Citations: Distinguished Flying Crosses “Heroism and Extraordinary Achievement” x 2 (and Purple Heart)

img_20190618_053854~21093248197061323451..jpg

And then, three months later:

img_20190618_053913~23521895079227005849..jpg

img_20190618_061640~21807840579220169561..jpg

The Distinguished Flying Cross, after 1942, is ranked two steps above the Bronze Star. The two Citations are for both “heroism” and “extraordinary achievement.” Sometimes ribboned medals have a “V” device for “Valor”, synonymous with heroism. I’ve seen military sites which distinguish separated reasons for receiving the DFC, so that one receives the DFC for either “extraordinary achievement” or for “heroism”. In that case, one would think that one would receive the “V” device for “Valor” if issued in the case of heroism, or, as in the two citations above, for both simultaneously. But that’s not the case. Instead, if I’m not mistaken, the DFC is always and only issued when heroism, valor, is indicated along with extraordinary achievement.

I gotta wonder if the reference in the first Citation on September 6, 1951 to “intense and accurate hostile ground fire which damaged his plane” is the occasion for the Purple Heart which dad also received. I’ve no citation for that (not yet found anyway), just a copy of the official listed record and the medals. I do remember him describing the extensive damage to his plane from getting shot at in a certain battle.

He said that he had to crash his plane. If this battle was the occasion, it means that “despite” having received that ground fire, he kept on flying and destroying tanks and strafing enemy troops, that is, after he sent the rest of his pilots onwards. His Checkerboard F4U Corsair would have had fully six fifty cals in the wings. I can only imagine that this a smallish version of “The Highway of Death”:

purple heart

I had asked dad how he escaped back to base after he crashed. Stupid me. His own Marines, he said, saved him. Of course. Not just a band of brothers, but they would have been particularly immediately thankful for his having singlehandedly saved their backsides. He might have been damaged in his own backside on that occasion, not only from the hostile guns aiming at him, but from the crash itself. In looking at the date for the second DFC, December 29 of the same year, it means he was back flying in no time.

  • Is it a Patriotic to make such reviews? Sure.
  • Is it a son who honors his father? Certainly.

Is it also me trying to understand better the decades I had with my father (33 years together)? Absolutely. Knowing some of the situations that he was in, and how very many he killed in battle, seeing those soldiers right in front of him being ripped in half by his fifty cal low pass strafings would take their toll regardless if they were they enemy shooting (successfully) at him. That’s something you carry.

Leave a comment

Filed under Military

Dad’s Combat Wounded Purple Heart: understanding honor and patriotism

purple heart

Little kid that I was, I didn’t understand when dad showed me his medals, the one and only time, and only very briefly, but very nostalgically. Not understanding what he was showing me, I forgot, idiot little kid that I was. But his demeanor went into my heart and soul deeper than I suspected. Only now, a half-century later, does the memory flood back, since Rep. Mark Meadows (R., NC) had the Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee send out the list of medals received. The Purple Heart was awarded in the newly restricted years for the combat wounded only. I dare say I have a bit more understanding now than when I was a little kid.

From what I can gather of all my memories of dad, his aspirations for service to God and country, thinking about becoming a priest in the early years, then a politician in later years (as back in the day as a combat fighter attack USMC Corsair pilot he saw how much politics affected geo-political everything), then settling on following up on his JAG training at Georgetown to be an attorney because, he said instantaneously when I asked, this was his way to be of service to help people who were in trouble… from what I can gather, the last thing a purple heart like this was about for him was self-aggrandizement. He knew too many of his buddies who had given all, laying down their lives for God and Country.

He spoke only extremely rarely about war stuff, as is the case with so many veterans. I am surely speaking out of turn, but I dare say that the reason for this is the immediacy of being in life and death situations in service of that which is much greater than one’s own life, namely, the individual and common good of peoples, the service of God, Author of life, and the service of country, the national family to which one belongs.

One is drawn by this love before the epic magnificence of it all, to be in reverence before God and country, and when one is in a state of reverence, it is not that one is reduced to silence but rather lifted up into an appreciation of that for which words fail to express anything comprehensible to anyone so naive as myself as a little kid. It’s this reverence before God and country with the immediacy of life and death that makes for a brotherhood, but not an inward looking, self-congratulatory, closed society of brothers, but rather a brotherhood which encourages all to know that honor and patriotism is not about heroes, but rather about all of us striving to have the same reverence before God and Country, the same immediacy of service in the midst of life and death for God and Country.

Thanks, dad, for understanding honor and patriotism from the inside out, so that I, so that we all could be encouraged to live the same service of God and Country whatever life and death brings to us.

2 Comments

Filed under Military, Patriotism

My day with the combat wounded, with me taking the part of an Afghan soldier.

purple-heart

Our hero’s tour included getting shot twice, getting an axe to the face, and being blown up with IEDs six times. The last time involved TBI, traumatic brain injury. You know what happens to your ankles and your head when you’re in a “IED-proof” Humvee, right? He would go back if he could. Deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 at 40 years of age (an exception, as he’s really talented), he returned Stateside in 2011.

He wasn’t in the zone long, but saw more action than most might see in multiple wars. And don’t think it’s over for him. He is absolutely constrained to fighting every single day, both with a bad case of PTSD and its nightmare of being “there”, when you want to do more for your brother but can’t because you’re taken out yourself, and then by way of dealing with injuries, walking with a crutch, getting way overtired very quickly, dizzy, and then… and then… the end of the world headaches… end of the world… non stop, 24/7/365. The brain injury takes all of everything to deal with.

Whenever you see a vet, make sure you go way out of your way to thank them for their service back in the day and their continuing service for the burden they carry to this day. They carry us out of harm’s way to this day by having been available to do that for us all.

I’ve been following our hero’s progress for a number of years (he being related to my neighbors back at the hermitage), but never had the privilege of meeting him until now. He and his mom – I’m forever indebted to her for her prayers – drove down all the way from South Dakota. It’s a kind of miracle, really. This is the best he’s ever done, his best day of his best week in all these years – lots of laughter all day long – but… (I’ll get to that “but…” further below).

When he would get a phone call yesterday morning he would have a moment of hilarity, telling the caller that he would have to get back to them as he was busy now teaching a Catholic priest how to take out terrorists. “A what doing what?!” would be the answer. And on it would go. One of his many jobs over the way was to teach Afghanies how to shoot. He was happy to make me an Afghan soldier for my “day off.” He knows what he’s doing; take a gander at this very short video about his work:

After putting this newbie back about 25 feet (four more feet than NC qualification distance for concealed carry), and giving me tips on stance and posture and arms and hands and fingers and eyes and what exactly I’m looking at, he immediately got bored with that and put me back at 75 feet, well over three times the maximum distance, and then talked to me about ballistics and gravity, saying that I would have to work on distances so that calculations as to the drop would be second nature. He also wanted all the other mechanics to be second nature, muscle memory, muscle memory, muscle memory. I have plenty to work on, but apparently have a little bit of potential…

target2

I must say that he’s really good at psychology, as I easily despair if I’m not exactly on center-target every time with my 4″ barrel Glock 19. My chance for depression above is 14 out of 15. But he was very encouraging, insisting that for a newbie at that range for a pistol such as I have, my groupings were really very good because very consistent. All I have to do now is sharpen the mechanics a bit and stay practiced. Did I say he was also deployed in PsyOps?

I take this opportunity to remind the more timid readers that all Catholic priest-chaplains for the great Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police force must go through special FBI training, which includes being trained up in weaponry, particularly pistols. Just sayin’

We also talked quite a bit about shooting while running, something I never thought I would be able to do and which is part of the FBI course mentioned just above. But he said if I had the mechanics down for stationary shooting, the bit about running added no further difficulty, demonstrating just what kind of “run” it is when you’re running and shooting a pistol. Yes, of course, thought I, when I saw this. This is exactly what I’ve already seen with what I know of that FBI course. Great! Anyway, that was that.

He accompanied me to do some errands in town and then get some Chinese before heading back out to – dare I say it in view of recent posts? – “The Farm.” There we met up with the others and had the best homemade pizza ever. I got three big pieces to bring home with me. They’re for lunch and supper. Mmmmmm Mmmmm good!

There was lots of laughter all day long, but nothing compared to what happened when 189 million year old Grandma Clara-Gene joined us on speaker phone and had us all rolling on the floor laughing hysterically with her utterly dead-pan statements about her own proficiency with guns compared to all our ridiculous carry-on about useless target practice, because, you know, after all, if you see something that needs a-killin’ you just shoot it and that’s all there is to it. And actually, if she was in the military, she would be expert and an instructor. To hear this gentle grandma carry on was really a hoot and she very much enjoyed it all as well. It was just a really, really good day for all. But…

I was worried that this might be too much for our hero. It was. I got a call about 20 minutes after I left, when I was already just into the 30 mile dead zone for phones. I got the message only after midnight. He had had a seizure about 15 minutes after I was gone. I feel terribly guilty, but this morning he said that I had nothing to do with it. This is just what happens. He not only didn’t regret anything, he said that he thoroughly enjoyed every minute, having the best time ever, very happy with everything. They do plan to come again. And, of course, I could go and make my way up to where he is. I do have some errands I could do in Minnesota and South Dakota…

Update: They’re on their return trip. Pray for their safe travels: Hail Mary…

airborne-1

battle-coin-002

8 Comments

Filed under Guns, Military