Date published: January 1, 2010
Cold War Commemorated: Thank You VFW
Dedicating the November/December issue to the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was very nicely done, starting with the commander-in-chief's column. "Fall of Berlin Wall Frees East Europe" by Lee Edwards epitomized the excellent articles for which our magazine is known.
However, all perils from former communists are not dead and buried. We have failed to take full advantage of what we should have learned at the so-called end of the Cold War. Many communists simply changed spots and still hate Americans. Just look at Vladimir Putin, who may take over power again in 2012, as an example. Unfortunately, the fall of the Wall failed to put out the imperialist fire that is still simmering in Russia.
Thomas P. Strider, Viera, Fla.
I served in Berlin from 1972-76. The real mission of the Berlin Brigade was to delay captivity just long enough to allow U.S. forces to destroy any confidential material on hand. We knew we could not stand up to the assembled might of the Warsaw Pact. Remnants of the Wall represent not only the blood of those who died trying to escape from communism, but the hopes and dreams of most of the residents of the East
Allan V. Campbell E-Mail
I served with the Berlin Brigade from April 1969 to February 1970. We went on "alert" in the Grunewald Forest when the weather was most miserable. Defusing unexploded WWII ordnance also kept crews busy, causing casualties. Members of the Berlin Veterans Association can relate many stories.
Dick Johnson, Williamsburg, Va.
When the Wall went up on Aug. 13, 1961, 1 was in the Weapons Pit. (81mm mortars), D Co., 2nd Bde., 6th Inf., positioned at Tempelhof Airport. While visiting Berlin in 2005, a German girl thanked me for being there because if GIs had not stayed, she said, Germans would not be free today.
Garylmler, Fhhertown, Pa.
My sincere appreciation and thanks to VTW for the November issue honoring Cold War veterans. With much relief, I welcome all the fine artides, the 2004 book, and efforts of VFW magazine pertaining to the Cold War.
Yet despite 30 months in West Germany during the 1980s with the 202nd MP Company at NATO Site 4 protecting Lance nuclear missiles as a tower rat, I remain ineligible for VFW membership.
VFW membership eligibility would be most welcome among Cold War vets. Please do not let the "silent artillery of time" sweep us away without that opportunity. Jeff G. Mack, Elgin, Ill.
Editor's Note: Mr. Mack is correct in saying that most Cold War vets not recognized by a campaign medal remain ineligible. However, six officially authorized campaign medals encompass 30 operations/duty stanons that constitute the Cold War. For the complete list, see page 25 of the November/December 2004 issue. Members favoring overseas Cold War service for membership need only introduce properly prepared resolutions at their state conventions for consideration at the national convention in 2010.
Numerous readers were disappointed that specific actions and countries were not mentioned in the November issue articles. For new members since 2004, please note that VFW magazine published a three-year-long Cold War series along with a 1 72-page book entitled Cold War Clashes: Confronting Communism, 1945-1991, that comprehensively covered the Cold War. Unfortunately, this book sold out quickly.
The articles commemorating Cold War service were very informative and timely. I earned my VFW eligibility for duty in Korea, but vets who served along the inter-German border, for instance, are not eligible. It's time for VFW to allow those tens of thousands who received the Cold War Certificate for overseas service to join.
Mark Leonard, Morrisville, Vt.
You folks are doing a fantastic job honoring Cold War vets. The November/ December issue was just wonderful. Thank you. Please let us know what happened to the Cold War medal legislation that was going through Congress in 2008. Stan Price, Fort Davis, Texas
Editors Note: See Now Hear This on page 10 for a medal update.
As a Navy Cold War vet (1978-88), I was happy to be recognized by VFW. I am proud to have served my country during this time because we had a hand in ending the Cold War. What Americans don't realize is that the armed forces were involved in situations that could not be discussed back then.
Dave Corey, E-Mail
Media Covering Wall's 20th
Virtually none of the mainstream media's coverage of the Berlin Wall's fall credited America, not to mention GIs, with contributing to the demise of communism in East Europe or preserving freedom in the West. (But the Wall Street Journal did publish a nice arride on the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment)
In an editorial titled "Europe's Wall of Ingratitude," the Investor's Business Daily pointed out how some Germans chanted "Gorby! Gorby!" As it said, "NATO's protection of Europe from [Soviet Mikhaill Gorbachev's now-defeated regime is what led to the liberation of [East Germany!, not Gorby's 'Glasnost or 'Perestroika'," which were "in large part public relations efforts aimed at salvaging the Soviet Union as it was losing the final stage of the Cold War."
At the time, Gorbachev said: "I am a Communist, a convinced Communist."
First U.S. KIA of Terrorism
Re: " 'Selflessness & Courage' " pertaining to Marine CpI. Steven J. Crowley in Pakistan (November). This article was very well done. Thank you for writing it. The Marine detachment in Islamabad held a memorial ceremony on Nov. 21-30 years to the day that CpI. Crowley made the ultimate sacrifice.
Col Doug Fairfield, Commanding Officer, Marine Corps Embassy Security Group, Quantico
Congratulations for recognizing CpI. Crowley and his service to country. The article content was excellent. We will be using some of the information provided on our Web site.
Bill McClure, E-Mail, Marine Embassy Guard Association
Gold Star License Plates
Re: "War Vet License Plates" Now Hear This), October. At least 40 states today have some type oí license plate honoring service members who have been killed in action. Connecticut was about the seventh state to come out with a plate honoring the fallen. By the end of September 2009, 176 Gold Star family license plates had been issued there.
I initiated this project in Connecticut because my son, Joe, was killed in Fallujah, Iraq, on Nov. 18, 2004. The Gold Star plate serves as a reminder to us, the living, of the ultimate sacrifice that so many Americans have made in so many wars.
Joseph P. Nolan, Waterbury, Conn.
Navy's Greatest Explorers
The October issue was filled, as usual, with many great articles. I found the lead article, "America's Top 10 Greatest Navy Explorers" by Fred L. Schultz, particularly interesting. Another name should have been added to the list.
Capt. William R. Anderson, skipper of the first nuclear sub Nautilus, sailed under the North Pole at the height of the Cold War. Two books were written about this feat. He went on to become a four-term congressman from Tennessee and an advisor to several presidents.
I was privileged to be present when Capt. Anderson was laid to final rest at Arlington National Cemetery in 2007.
James E. Dyer, E-Mail
Editor's Note: This first submerged voyage under the North Pole resulted in the first peacetime award of the Presidential Unit Citation to a Navy ship. Known as Operation Sunshine, it lasted from July 22- Aug. 5, 1958. The Nautilus spe«f 96 hours submerged under the North Pole and traveled 1,590 miles under ice.
The crew of the Nautilus was in fact explorers going into uncharted and dangerous waters unable to surface in case of an emergency. They found a submerged crossing from Pacific to Atlantic. The polar crossing gave President Eisenhower a much-needed tool for dealing with the Soviets regarding their launch of the Sputnik. I am proud to know and have served with crew members of both the Nautilus and Triton.
Tommy Robinson, Secretary, Nautilus Alumni Association, Port Orchard, Wash.
Elisha Kent Kane also should have made the "Top 10" list. A Navy medical officer, he made two Arctic expeditions between 1850 and 1855. On the second, he penetrated farther north than any other explorer had done up to that time. Forced to abandon the brig Advance, Kane survived an 83-day march of indomitable courage.
In an attempt to recover his health, he went to Cuba, where, ironically, he died. Regarded as a national hero, his funeral train at home is said to have been the longest of the 19th century, except Lincoln's.
During the Mexican War (1846-48), Kane served in the Marines. He was also a veteran of the Africa Squadron and participated in a China mission.
The destroyer Kane is named in his honor. Besides a congressional medal, he was recognized with a commemorative postage stamp in 1986.
JohnMadsen, Clifton Heights, Pa.
Editor's Note: Other notable Navy Arctic explorers include Edwin De Haven (185051), Dr. Isaac Hayes (1854, 1860-61 and 1881) and Lt. Cmdr. George W. De Long of the famed USS Jeanette expedition of 1879-81. De Long and 18 other crewmen perished in Siberia or off its coast.
Perhaps the least-known Navy explorer is Lt Thomas J. Page. At the helm of the USS Water Witch, he spent three years penetrating 2,000 miles into the South American interior by ship and horseback. Between 1853 and 1856, Page's crew surveyed rivers in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Yet his exploits are virtually lost to history.
C. Brian Kelly, Charlottesville, Va.
That was a great story about Navy explorers. I am surprised you did not include Navy Cmdr. Winfield Schley, who commanded the flagship Thetis in July 1884 in search of the Army Signal Corps Lt Adolphus W. Greely's exploration party (Lady Franklin Bay Expedition). Schley rescued Greety and six of his 24 men after passing through 1 ,400 miles of ice.
DarrellD. Olson, Summerville, S.C.