"All American Veterans"
DEDICATION OF THE BRIDGE AND GARDEN
Dedication of the "Veterans Memorial Bridge and Garden"
May 31, 2010
FEATURED SPEAKER TO DEDICATE "THE MEMORIAL BRIDGE AND GARDEN"
MASTER SARGENT, BENNIE McDONALD, SPECIAL FORCES (retired)
Good morning ladies and gentlemen, fellow veterans and guests. We meet here this morning to “Dedicate” this beautiful “Monument” in memory of those who gave all to preserve our precious freedom. This was and is an idea, a dream of Sandy Lyons. Isn’t it beautiful? Sandy asked me to speak to you this morning and give you a little history on why we observe “Memorial Day”, dedicate memorials, such as this, and also what our military does to preserve our freedoms. President Ronald Reagan spoke of these freedoms in his 1981 Inaugural Address when he said: “Above all, we must realize that no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women”.
Each of us will live or have lived an average of 936 full moons, 312 seasons and 88 weeks of vacation. Isn’t it great to live these as free citizens of this great country? You may wish to thank our military for this.
Please allow me to start back in the Civil War. It was during that era that Memorial Day, formerly know as “Decoration Day”, began. On November 19, 1863 then President Lincoln gave a speech at Gettysburg, PA Known as the “Gettysburg Address”. It was on July 1, 2 & 3, 1863 that a great battle had taken place there. During those three days there were over 51,000 casualties. During this speech he dedicated this as a “Soldier’s Cemetery” possibly the first “National Cemetery”. The observance was first enacted to honor Union soldiers of the “Civil War”. As we all know we now observe “Memorial Day” on the last Monday of May each year.
When we enter into the Military we take an Oath in which we swear or affirm that we will support and defend the “Constitution of the United States” against all enemies foreign and domestic and that we will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. This is but one of the many reasons that we are willing to give our lives for our beloved country.
This country has been involved in several wars. I will discuss these briefly.
World War One (1917 & 1918) KIA 116,708 WIA 204,002 Unaccounted for 3,350 (TOTAL COST $588 Billion)
World War Two (1941- 1945) (ERA) 7Dec41 to 31Dec46 KIA 408,306 WIA 670,846 Unaccounted for 78,750 (TOTAL COST $4.8 Trillion)
Korean War 1950- 1953) (ERA) 27Jun50 To 31Jun55 KIA 54,246 WIA 103,284 Unaccounted for 8,215 (TOTAL COST $408 Billion)
Vietnam War (1957- 1975) (ERA) 28Feb61 To 7May75 KIA 58,219 WIA 153,356 Unaccounted for 1724 (as of May 26, 2008) (TOTAL COST $584 Billion) TOTALS KIA 637,479 WIA 927,690 Unaccounted for 93,320
No, FREEDOM is not FREE…..
I realize that many of us can’t picture this many, in each, category in our minds so lets do a little comparison. I am sure that you are familiar with the Georgia Dome, Turner Field and the Phillips Arena in Atlanta. Their total seating capacity is 141,341. The total KIAs from these wars can fill these facilities more than 4.51 times. The WIAs more than 6.56 times. The unaccounted for can fill the Georgia Dome (71,250) with over 22,000 left over.
No FREEDOM is not FREE…
Please allow me to give you one other comparison.
The total population of Gilmer County in the year 2000, according to the US Bureau of the Census was 23,456 persons. The total KIAs, from these wars would have taken this population more than 27 times. The WIAs more than 39 times and the MIAs more than 3.9 times.
No, FREEDOM is not FREE….
The Persian Gulf War August 2, 1990- February 28, 1991 there were 294 killed. (114 enemy fire, 145 accidental and 35 by friendly fire).
The Global War on Terror is ongoing so I won’t report on it. Other countries where Combat is either ongoing or was in the past.
Lebanon 25Aug82 To 26Feb84
Grenada 23Oct83 To 21Nov83
Panama 20Dec89 To 31Jan90
Somalia 17Sep92 To not declared.
I hope these comparisons let you better understand the cost of these wars in human lives and tax payer dollars.
Sandy asked me to speak a little on The United States Army Special Forces. So I will endeavor to give you a little history on the unit that I served in for over ten years. I am sure that many of you have heard of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the U.S. Army Rangers, and the First Special Service Force, American and Canadian (WWII). The FSSF became known as the Devils Brigade or the Black Devils. I mention these because this is where SF as we know it today actually got its beginning. After WWII President Harry S. Truman disbanded the OSS (Jedburgs). (The Central Intelligence Agency, CIA also got its beginning here.) Colonels Aaron Bank and Russell Volckman, two OSS Operatives remained in the Army and convinced the Army to adopt its own unconventional guerrilla-style force. This unit began at Fort Bragg, NC (Spring 1952) in what was known as a Psychological Warfare/Special Forces Center. This is known today as the USAJFK Center for Special for Warfare, actually the school that trains all SF, Psyops & Civil Affairs personnel. While the unit was forming and training, wearing the Green Beret. On October 12, 1961 JFK came to Fort Bragg and awarded the unit the Green Beret as its official headgear.
President Kennedy said "The green beret is a symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom”. The Army allocated 2300 personnel slots for this unit. Col Bank chose a cadre of officers and NCOs to begin this unit and train others as they join. He chose combat veterans, airborne qualified and ex-Rangers for this tast. Each volunteer had to have at least the rank of Sergeant (E-5) trained in infantry, as well as the above and be willing to work behind enemy lines in civilian clothes if necessary. If caught in civilian clothes in the combat zone one could be shot on sight. November 11, 1953 half of the unit known as the 10th Special Forces Group deployed to Bad Tolz, West Germany. The other half (77th SFGA) remained at Fort Bragg. Explain the reason for numbering system. In June 1956 an original 16 member team known as the 14th SFOD deployed to Vietnam to train a cadre of indigenous Vietnamese SF teams. It was shortly after this deployment that CPT Harry G. Cramer, Jr. was KIA, the first American to die in Vietnam. SF remained in Vietnam for 14 years. Speak a little on what we did during those 14 years. (Teams, Camps, SOG, Delta and such) By the time the 5th left Southeast Asia, its soldiers had been awarded 21 Medals of Honor, plus one Distinguished Service Medal, 90 Distinguished Service Crosses, 814 Silver Stars,13,234 Bronze Stars, 235 Legions of Merit, 46 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 232 Soldier's Medals, 4,891 Air Medals, 6,908 Army Commendation Medals and 2,658 Purple Hearts. It was a brilliant record, one that was built solely on blood and sacrifice. We lost 814 SF Troopers in Vietnam. We were never more than 5000 strong during this time. At the same time we were operating in Bolivia, Venezuela,Guatemala, Columbia and the Dominican Republic. A team of SF brought Che Guevara down. I hope that you have heard the Ballad of the Green Berets and saw the movie The Green Berets, from a book by Robin Moore, starring John Wayne. The Ballad was written and preformed by SSG Barry Sadler. On March 5, 1971, the 5th SFGA returned to Fort Bragg while some teams remained behind in Thailand where they launched secret missions into Vietnam. This ended in 1972. On October 1, 1984 the Army established a separate career field for SF enlisted and soon thereafter for Warrant Officers. Our branch Insignia is the crossed arrows, which I am wearing today. This is because our tactics are much like the American Indians.
On April 9, 1987, the Army Chief of Staff established a separate branch of the Army SF officers. The June 1990 reactivation of Fort Bragg's 3rd Special Forces Group has brought to five the number of Special Forces groups on active-duty status. Other Special Forces groups are the original 10th Group stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, with its 1st Battalion still stationed at Stuggart, Germany; the lst Group at Fort Lewis, Washington, with C Company, 1st Battalion, stationed in Okinawa; the 5th Group at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; and the 7th Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. National Guard units include the 19th and 20th Groups.
Please allow me to back up and tell you about a very special operation that was performed by the U.S. Army Special Forces, Aircraft and crews from The USAF as well as Army Aviation units, under the command of Colonel Arthur D. (Bull) Simons) flew to a POW camp known as Song Tay which is 23 miles from Hanio to rescue some of our POWs. Even though the raid brought no POWs out it was still a success. North Vietnam was holding over 450 POWs at the time. Naval Aviation units carried out a very big diversion at the same time.
When we enter the military we write a blank check payable to the American people for up to and including our lives. I hope that I have given you some insight into what we do in the military. For these reasons we are here today to dedicate this “Veteran’s Bridge and Memorial Gardens” to those which paid the ultimate price.
In closing please allow me to read the.. SF Prayer…..
Special Forces Prayer
Almighty GOD, who art the Author of Liberty And the Champion of the oppressed, hear our prayer.
We, the men of Special Forces, acknowledge Our dependence upon thee in the Preservation of human freedom.
Go with us as we seek to defend the defenseless And to free the enslaved.
May we ever remember that our nation, Whose motto is “In God We Trust”, Expects that we shall acquit ourselves With honor, that we may never bring shame Upon our faith, our families, or our fellow man.
Grant us wisdom from Thy mind, courage from Thine Heart, strength from Thine arm, and Protection by Thine hand.
It is for Thee that we do battle, and to Thee Belongs the victor’s crown.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and glory Forever, AMEN
This is home of the FREE because of the BRAVE.
Thank you, and May God bless each of you.