These are stories of our Veterans and their experiences.
Back into the Heart of Darkness
My Name is Old Glory
by Howard Schnauber
I am the flag of the United States of America.
My name is Old Glory.
I fly atop the world's tallest buildings.
I stand watch in America's halls of justice.
I fly majestically over great institutes of learning.
I stand guard with the greatest military power in the world.
Look up! And see me!
I stand for peace - honor - truth and justice.
I stand for freedom
I am confident - I am arrogant
I am proud.
When I am flown with my fellow banners
My head is a little higher
My colors a little truer.
I bow to no one.
I am recognized all over the world.
I am worshipped - I am saluted - I am respected
I am revered - I am loved, and I am feared.
I have fought every battle of every war for more than 200 years:
Gettysburg, Shilo, Appomatox, San Juan Hill, the trenches of France,
the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome, the beaches of Normandy,
the deserts of Africa, the cane fields of the Philippines,
the rice paddies and jungles of Guam, Okinawa, Japan, Korea, Vietnam,
Guadalcanal New Britain, Peleliu, and many more islands.
And a score of places long forgotten by all but those who were with me.
I was there.
I led my soldiers - I followed them.
I watched over them.
They loved me.
I was on a small hill in Iwo Jima.
I was dirty, battle-worn and tired, but my soldiers cheered me,
and I was proud.
I have been soiled, burned, torn and trampled on the streets of
countries I have helped set free.
It does not hurt, for I am invincible.
I have been soiled, burned, torn and trampled on the streets of my country,
and when it is by those with whom I have served in battle - it hurts.
But I shall overcome - for I am strong.
I have slipped the bonds of Earth and stand watch over the
uncharted new frontiers of space
from my vantage point on the moon.
I have been a silent witness to all of America's finest hours.
But my finest hour comes when I am torn into strips to
be used for bandages for my wounded comrades on the field of battle,
When I fly at half mast to honor my soldiers,
And when I lie in the trembling arms of a grieving
mother at the graveside of her fallen son.
I am proud.
My name is Old Glory.
I am the flag of the United States of America.
Dear God - Long may I wave.
Click on the below for more resource links
The History of the poem "My Name Is Old Glory"
"As a Young Marine in Combat ... We Saw a Lot of Things that a Human Body Shouldn't See".
Howard Schnauber interview by Rheba Massey - November 17, 1995
Howard Schnauber was just 19 that day in 1941 when he went into the Army recruiting office and asked what the Army could do for a young man. The recruiter's reply was, " What could you do for the Army?" Howard, a farm kid, didn't know the answer to that question, but the Marine recruiter across the hall called him over, "I like your attitude.""Ten minutes later, I was in the Marine Corps," Howard laughed. When he was interviewed in 1994. Half a century later, he was still proud of having been a Marine.
Howard was born in Watertown, New York, and spent his first seven years in an orphanage, until he was farmed out to the Schnauber family who changed his name. He left them when he was just fourteen and was on his own, working on farms and for the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Howard went through boot camp at Paris Island and was infused with the high standard for discipline necessary to the Corps. He was sent to New Zealand and then to the Guadalcanal Islands on August 7, 1942. Only two of the seven men he went in with survived. When he reached the beach, he dropped down behind a big coconut log and was able to silence the machine gun fire directed at the scene before him: a chaplain praying over a dead Marine. Howard wondered how the sniper firing from a cave had missed hitting the minister. "I guess it kind of makes you believe in something more powerful than we are."
"That was my first experience as a young Marine in combat . . . We saw a lot of things that a human body shouldn't see--the type of things that stay with you the rest of your life ... maybe God kind of messed up when he made the human body. Why didn't he put a device in there that would let you forget what happened 50 years ago? Today I don't even know what I did yesterday ... but I can remember what happened ... These are the things that, in later years in life, come back to bother you."
The Marines took Guadalcanal and then went to Australia where they regrouped, and even had some good times, such as a Christmas dinner shared with a kind family. Then they went up the coast of New Guinea, and the day after Christmas hit Cape Gloucester, making five separate landings. The last was at a Catholic mission which sheltered some lepers and where they found some nuns who had been horribly tortured by the Japanese.
The Marines regrouped at the Russell Islands and then hit the island of Peleliu where 17,000 Marines were lost. The Japanese had held the island for many years and were entrenched in caves and tunnels. "You didn't stand much of a chance. But we did end up taking the island. We secured it and then I was sent home." Taking the island was accomplished with the help of heavy artillery and air support, but mostly the sacrifice of many young lives. Howard said it was a matter of "perseverance" and "guts"; but still, some Japanese held on in the caves for two years, even after the island was secured. The Japanese were so determined not to surrender, that Howard feels the Hiroshima bombing saved lives on both sides.
Morale among the Marines remained high, with the exception of one man who could not stop crying; for the majority the mood Howard remembers was "enthusiasm." Howard is proud to have served with the "finest fighting unit in World War II."
Not all of war was terrible. He recalls some beautiful things, such as a church choir on the shore singing, "Now is the Hour (when we must bid adieu)" as they backed out of Melbourne, Australia's harbor.
Howard was wounded four times during World War II and once in Korea. He has scars and has a knee replacement, but ... "Nothing was so bad that I couldn't get over it. The people that I came in contact with in hand-to-hand combat, they're dead and I'm alive and that makes me feel good."
Howard, having been shipped home from the Pacific with a war injury, was in Washington, D.C. as a guard at the White House when the victory in Europe was declared. When President Roosevelt died, Howard stood guard duty for six hours when the president's body was lying in state in the rotunda. Howard recalls this president fondly, especially for his respect for the Marines.
Mrs. Roosevelt felt differently; she thought the Marines "should be put on an island and rehabilitated for six months before we were allowed back into the States. We resented that!"
On V-J Day, when the Japanese surrendered, Howard recalls Washington was "just one great, big, massive party!" President Truman came out in front of the White House, three or four times and waved at the crowd. "Everybody was just elated. These are the good things you remember."
Howard's later memories of Truman are not so good. Howard joined the National Guard and was stationed in Korea in 1950 when Truman proclaimed the troops must stay on active duty as long as they were needed. Howard's extra year in Korea cost him his knee. From today's perspective, however, Howard thinks Truman was one of our best presidents. He liked that "He pulled no punches."
Howard reflected on the many changes in society brought by W.W.II. "Things in 1945 and 1946 started to open up. People had a chance to go back to work ... It was different than before the war ... it was the last of a depression; people had virtually nothing." Howard's adoptive family hadn't had electricity, but after the war because of the technology and companies getting back into business, everyone seemed to be light-hearted and happy. "It's amazing that we just seemed to like what we were doing. We enjoyed living and we showed it."
It was Howard's Korean war injury that brought him to Colorado for treatment at the VA Hospital. Following treatment he worked for the State of Colorado for nineteen years. He was a park manager at Boyd Lake State Recreation Area and later with Game and Fish. He was in charge of law enforcement and once again his Marine training served him well - "you have to be firm, but you have to be just."
Howard has been active in Veterans Service, helping to organize this program to provide transportation to the Veteran's Hospital. Another program serves homeless vets, and perhaps Howard's favorite is educating kids in respect for the American flag.
He wrote a poem about the flag:
Three stories from Vietnam Veterans, as published in the November/December 2018 issue of The VVA Veteran, the magazine of the Vietnam Veterans of America.
By Roger Helle, Vietnam Vet and the subject of Mark Alexander's 2007 Veterans Day profile
It was just one of many routine patrols in Vietnam that night. The 13-man Marine squad made their way through the village silently. The point man paused now and then to listen for any unusual sounds before continuing down the trail. They arrived at the edge of the village and began the nearly two-mile hike across open rice paddies toward their destination — a small fishing village on a tributary of the Perfume River just south of Hue, the Imperial City of South Vietnam.
It was a moonless night as they approached the village where the Viet Cong were believed to be gathering. As the squad entered the village, the stillness of the night was broken when the jungle tree line erupted in automatic-weapons fire. At the same time, a "daisy chain" of mines exploded, throwing three Marines at the end of the squad like rag dolls into the rice paddy.
When the firing stopped, stillness fell upon the trail and, like ghosts, the Viet Cong emerged from the jungle, moving quickly among the bodies of the dead or dying Marines, taking their weapons and equipment and disappearing into the night. The three Marines blown off the trail slowly regained their senses, two of whom had taken the brunt of the explosions. Shock gave way to pain and they began moaning. One 18-year-old Marine had somehow been spared and was only dazed by the force of the explosion. He called for the reaction force that was always on standby at the nearby base of Phu Bai.
After what seemed like hours but was less than 30 minutes, a helicopter landed a platoon of Marines who set up a perimeter on the trail. The two wounded men were flown to Da Nang and the third man, just a kid really, was taken back to the base at Phu Bai. The next day, the surviving Marine was told the other two Marines did not make it. It was a guilt he would carry for nearly 23 years.
It was 1989. The young Marine, now 41, stood on the rice paddy dike where his friends had died. With his family and a dozen other Vietnam veterans in over 100-degree heat, they held a memorial service for the fallen whose memory he had carried with him every day for the past 23 years. While the impromptu ceremony was being held, a crowd of villagers quietly gathered around this group of Americans, the first they had seen since the end of the war in 1975.
An elderly woman carrying a little girl came and stood next to the Marine. Through an interpreter, he told the local villagers that his friends had died here and he had come to honor their memory. The older woman walked up to the Marine and laid her head against his chest and wept. She too had suffered loss during the war, so they cried together.
Today, I am 71, but the memory of Vietnam is with me forever. I still remember Vietnam, but by God's grace, He has taken away the pain I once had from those memories. What I do remember is the brave men I fought alongside and the love they had for their country.
A favorite saying I saw all over during my tours in Vietnam was, "To those who fought for it, freedom has a flavor that the protected will never know."
Memorial Day is not about mattress sales, cookouts, discounted linens, or an extra day off work. It is a day to pause and remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend the freedoms that America has unlike any other nation on the face of the earth. They earned your remembrance, because freedom has a price tag!
Originally entitled, My Name is Old Glory by Howard Schnauber
© 1994 the author [Mr. Schnauber has given permission to the public to use this poem for program or publishing purposes. Please credit the Fort Collins Public Library Local History Archive, Oral History Interview of Mr. Howard Schnauber, the author.]
August 1, 2020
Today a small group of us Vets had breakfast after checking on the Hermosa Beach Veterans Memorial. We went to Ruby's in Redondo Beach for outside dining. BTW, it is very nice to have a meal there outside in this great weather. When we were ready to leave we asked our waiter for our checks. He said, "Oh guys a lady at that table over there picked up your tab, but she has left". We were floored! Most of us had on our vet caps or something identifying us as vets, but we were not over the top and did not even discuss military stuff at this meal.
Thanks to that wonderful lady and we wish we could do that in person. Most people reading this note will understand. For anyone not aware, our homecoming from Vietnam was kind of the opposite of this experience. So this really felt good.
TO UNDERSTAND A MILITARY VETERAN YOU MUST KNOW
We left home as teenagers or in our early twenties for an unknown adventure.
We loved our country enough to defend it and protect it with our own lives.
We said goodbye to friends and family and everything we knew.
We learned the basics and then we scattered in the wind to the far corners of the Earth.
We found new friends and new family.
We became brothers and sisters regardless of color, race or creed.
We had plenty of good times, and plenty of bad times.
We didn't get enough sleep.
We smoked and drank too much.
We picked up both good and bad habits.
We worked hard and played harder.
We didn't earn a great wage.
We experienced the happiness of mail call and the sadness of missing important events.
We didn't know when, or even if, we were ever going to see home again.
We grew up fast, and yet somehow, we never grew up at all.
We fought for our freedom, as well as the freedom of others.
Some of us saw actual combat, and some of us didn't.
Some of us saw the world, and some of us didn't.
Some of us dealt with physical warfare, most of us dealt with psychological warfare.
We have seen and experienced and dealt with things that we can't fully describe or explain, as not all of our sacrifices were physical.
We participated in time honored ceremonies and rituals with each other, strengthening our bonds and camaraderie.
We counted on each other to get our job done and sometimes to survive it at all.
We have dealt with victory and tragedy.
We have celebrated and mourned.
We lost a few along the way.
When our adventure was over, some of us went back home, some of us started somewhere new and some of us never came home at all.
We have told amazing and hilarious stories of our exploits and adventures.
We share an unspoken bond with each other, that most people don't experience, and few will understand.
We speak highly of our own branch of service, and poke fun at the other branches.
We know however, that, if needed, we will be there for our brothers and sisters and stand together as one, in a heartbeat.
Being a Veteran is something that had to be earned, and it can never be taken away.
It has no monetary value, but at the same time it is a priceless gift.
People see a Veteran and they thank them for their service.
When we see each other, we give that little upwards head nod, or a slight smile, knowing that we have shared and experienced things that most people have not.
So, from myself to the rest of the veterans out there, I commend and thank you for all that you have done and sacrificed for your country.
Try to remember the good times and make peace with the bad times.
Share your stories.
But most importantly, stand tall and proud, for you have earned the right to be called a Veteran.
I'm a VETERAN!
A Green Beret Recalls the Brutal Thanksgiving Day Mission He Barely Survived After Running into 30,000 Enemy Troops
A Vietnam veteran looks for the grave of a fallen friend at the at the Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery in Evansville, Wyo., prior to the memorial service held for Wyoming's 120 war dead and troops still missing on June 7, 2015.
(Jimmy McGuire/(Wyoming Army National Guard)
27 Nov 2020
Business Insider; by Stavros Atlamazoglou
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military had a covert special-operations unit that conducted cross-border operations in Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam.
Composed of Army Special Forces operators, Navy SEALs, and Air Commandos, and other personnel, the Military Assistance Command Vietnam-Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) took the fight to the enemy without hesitation.
SOG teams were primarily tasked with strategic reconnaissance deep behind enemy lines and would often end up fighting against overwhelming superior enemy forces. The unit's 100% casualty rate meant a SOG assignment came with a body bag or a Purple Heart, sometimes multiple ones.
Complicating matters, the U.S. adamantly denied its troops operated outside South Vietnam. Accordingly, SOG operators wore sterilized uniforms and carried weapons without serial numbers — for all intents and purposes, they weren't Americans when they crossed the border.
Where is the NVA?
As Americans at home sat down for Thanksgiving dinner in 1968, John Stryker Meyer and his team of operators, ST Idaho, were called in to solve a deadly puzzle.
Army intelligence and the CIA had lost track of the 1st, 3rd, and 7th North Vietnamese Army divisions, totaling 30,000 troops, somewhere on the South Vietnam-Cambodia border.
U.S. intelligence estimated that more than 100,000 NVA troops were in Cambodia, and SOG headquarters was worried that the missing NVA were preparing to launch another attack on Saigon or overrun one of the Special Forces A camps in the area.
The NVA had recently attacked several A camps, and the Tet Offensive in January that year had caught American forces off-guard across South Vietnam.
It fell on Meyer and his team to locate the missing NVA, and if they got the opportunity, to snatch an enemy soldier alive.
ST Idaho — a six-man team of two Americans and four indigenous operators — went in packed.
They carried CAR-15 rifles, sawed-off M-79 grenade launchers, detonation cord to clear landing zones, dozens of M-26 fragmentation grenades and Claymore mines, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. In the field, firepower was life.
For the Claymores — small boxes with C4 explosive and hundreds of small metal balls — the team carried five- and ten-second fuses. In case they were compromised and running toward a landing zone, they would drop the Claymores and pull the fuse. The NVA were often so close behind that those fuses were barely long enough.
ST Idaho was used to operating in Laos. In Cambodia, however, the game was played differently.
The State Department had imposed strict limitations to the rules of engagement there. The teams couldn't rely on fixed-wing aircraft for close air support or use white phosphorus, and they could only go 20 km from the border.
ST Idaho, however, found consolation in the Air Force's 20th Special Operations Squadron. Nicknamed the "Green Hornets," these airmen flew the UH-1P Huey, a better version of the helicopter also in use by the Army.
More importantly to ST Idaho was the Green Hornets' arsenal, which included rockets, M-60 machine guns, and M134 mini-guns with tens of thousands of rounds.
A Thanksgiving to Remember
On Thanksgiving Day, the team was inserted without incident and began patrolling. After a few minutes, they sighted smoke and moved toward it.
They were soon in the periphery of a huge enemy base camp, but the NVA weren't home. As the point man, one of the indigenous operators, scouted for the enemy, Meyer snapped pictures.
Suddenly, the point man shouted, "Beaucoup VC!" Although Meyer couldn't spot any enemy, he trusted his indigenous teammate and gave the call to withdraw. As he did, the NVA arrived.
Seemingly hundreds of enemy soldiers came pouring in from the south and north. The team leap-frogged toward their landing zone, planting Claymores, lobbying grenades, and firing their CAR-15s as they went. Despite their casualties, the NVA kept running after them.
ST Idaho set up a hasty perimeter around the LZ, waiting for the Green Hornets. As more and more NVA appeared, the cavalry arrived.
The Huey gunships put down a devastating rate of fire that kept the NVA at bay long enough for ST Idaho to climb up the helicopters. As Meyer's Huey was getting ready to lift off, a lone NVA soldier broke through the hail of fire and stopped feet away from the chopper.
"I remember watching the clumps of mud from his boots slowly kicking upward toward the rotors as the door gunner and I hit him in the chest with a burst of gunfire," Meyer told Insider.
As the choppers rose, several more NVA burst into the perimeter, firing at the Americans. Meyer threw a white phosphorus grenade as a parting gift. Minutes later, ST Idaho was safely back on base. They had found the missing divisions.
"It was one of the most terrifying missions of my 19 months in SOG," Meyer told Insider.
That says a lot, given the hair-raising operations that Meyer participated in and has written about. But ST Idaho wouldn't have made it without the Green Hornets.
"Nothing gave us more satisfaction than getting our SF brothers out when they got in trouble, which was almost all the time," Alfonso Rivero, a Green Hornet gunner, told Insider. "The feeling of camaraderie and brotherhood among all of us SOG people remain to this day. Nothing like it."
Despite barely surviving, the team's morale was unaffected.
"We were very sober at first, realizing how close we came to getting whacked," Meyer said. "We took pride in accomplishing the mission, but there was no braggadocio about it. We went in again two days later."
Just another day in SOG's secret war.
Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (National Service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.