Posts Tagged ‘war’


Dad in UniformMarvin began his journey as a radio operator aboard the battleship USS Indiana in the South Pacific during WWII.  Over the course of three years he participated in the battles of Tarawa, Saipan, Battle of the Philippine Sea, Great Marianas Turkey Shoot, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Bombardment of Japan, destroying enemy positions in advance of landing of our soldiers and Marines.  The USS Indiana won numerous battle stars and citations during the War.

Of interest to this post was the Indiana’s participation in the Battle of Okinawa and a sailor aboard that ship named Marvin.  While enduring numerous kamikaze attacks, the Indiana unleashed a relentless bombardment of the island’s defenses to support the invasion.

DadTed began his journey as an infantryman in the Army’s 96th Infantry Division in the South Pacific.  Over the course of two years he participated in the Battle of Leyte, Philippines, and the Battle of Okinawa, which was the largest battle of WWII in the Pacific.  During the battles, the 96th suffered 1,595 killed in action and 14,484 wounded.  The 96th Infantry Division won a Presidential Unit Citation for combat actions in these two battles; one of only four Army units to win one during WWII.

Also, of interest to this post, was the 96th’Infantry Division’s invasion of Okinawa, and, in particular, a rifleman in the 351st Infantry Regiment named Ted.  How he must have loved the bombardment of our battleships.  Ted survived the battle, although he lost a lot of his hearing.

After the war Marvin returned home to settle down and raise a family, eventually having six children, three boys and three girls.  Ted also returned home to start a family, eventually having two sons.

Now, back to the battle of Okinawa.  What are the chances that a sailor on the USS Indiana bombarding an island would have a daughter who would marry the son of a soldier fighting on that island?  The sailor’s daughter was named Michelle, the soldier’s son was named George.  OUR DADS! – (Ted James and Marvin Clements)


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In the last 100 years, 16,307,243 men have been inducted (drafted) into the military: WWI – 2.8 mil., WWII – 10.1 mil., Korea – 1.5 mil., and Vietnam – 1.9 mil.  In 1970 the Selective Service System went to a lottery system based on your birthday.  In that year, the first 195 birthdays were drafted; my birthday was #82.  It didn’t matter to me since I was already in the U.S. Marine Corps.  The last man drafted entered the Army on June 30, 1972.

No one that I knew wanted to be drafted, but off they went to serve their country.  As the years passed, I’ve bumped into very few individuals that served in the military, including those drafted, that didn’t consider it a life learning experience.  We learned responsibility, commitment, loyalty, discipline and the experience of “serving” our country.  We learned how to work with individuals with vastly different backgrounds and perspectives.  And, we experienced some things that we would like to forget.  Most of us can still talk about it as if were yesterday.

Let me put this into perspective.  Today we have 1.4 million individuals serving in the military protecting 323 million of us; or 0.4 percent of our population.  So very few individuals will acquire that “serving your country” experience.

I realize that everyone can’t serve in the military.  In a ‘We Are the Mighty’ article in 2015, it was reported that there were 34 million individuals between the ages of 17 – 34.  Of that group 71% wouldn’t qualify for military service due to physical, behavioral and emotional issues.  Of the qualified group, only 1% had an interest to serve in the military.  We, as a country, have become disconnected from the idea of serving our country.

Here is my thought-provoking proposal.  Every young person, starting at age 18 must serve their country in one of the following services.

  • Military (two years active, or 6 years reserve)
  • Conservation Service (National Parks, recreation, energy programs, etc.)
  • Medical Service (Veterans hospitals, health service, etc.)
  • Peace Corps (as is)
  • Educational Service (Programs for supporting primarily at risk schools, preschool programs, maintenance, etc.).

There would be two commitment choices for non-military service; a two-year full-time commitment, or a four-year commitment of two active weeks each year and two days a month.  Pay grades and ‘service’ benefits would be like those for military personnel.  How about earning funds for college, college credit, help with buying a house and medical benefits?

While the service requirement starts at 18, full-time student deferments (college, trade schools, etc.) would make sense for filling certain positions; however, the deferment would have a set period.  Also, the non-military service options would provide a great opportunity for those individuals with some physical limitations that could not serve in the military.

The future of our country will be determined by how well we prepare our young people.  However, too many of them today are struggling to find a path forward or a purpose; or in street terms, a way out.  I believe this would provide a valuable building-block for growth, and it would greatly benefit our country.



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WWII medal

In recent weeks I have watched with interest the growing concern over the situation in Syria. The reported actions of Bashar Assad’s regime have, in effect, shocked most of the civilized world on a scale not seen in decades. Countries around the world have condemned the cowardly acts of Assad. We should do something! How can we sit back and let over a 1,000 innocent men, women and children be gassed? We should strike Syria; they have crossed the red line.

“We should do something.” What thought-provoking words; safe to some but terrifying to others. These are safe words for those who are not at personal risk if military actions are taken; terrifying words to those whose family members have to do it. When I ask someone who thinks we should strike Syria who is WE, they quickly respond, the United States. Then I ask them if anyone in their family is in the military and is part of the WE, or are they talking about members of someone else’s family that are in the military. One lady who thought that we should attack Syria actually told me that ‘I would never want my kids to be in the military;’ so I guess that leaves my family.

Responses to my question often include the comment that those in the military “volunteered” to serve; they knew what they were getting into. Interestingly, the oath taken by enlistees is as follows:

“I, _____, 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.”

If you go back and read the history of the oath, its purpose clearly focuses on “enemies” of the United States and the protection of our Constitution. I understand that. What I don’t understand is describing many foreign conflicts as a threat to the United States, and then wanting to send our military to get involved. Some even going as far as calling it a sign of weakness if we don’t take military action. We should not be the world’s police force. The fact that the United Nations is incapable of carrying out its responsibilities in these situations is not a reason for the United States to shoulder the burden. Additionally, terms like ‘limited’ and ‘surgical’ are meaningless in war.

My family has served in this Country’s military since before the Revolutionary War; we have eight generations of military service. We fought with the British against the Shawnee and Mingo Indians at Point Pleasant Ohio in 1774, as part of the Virginia Militia and then in every war since. There are twenty-nine of us that have served this Country; with one still serving. I know families that have had family members serve four and five combat tours in the last six to seven years, seen families devastated by the loss of a loved one; watched burials at Arlington Nation Cemetery, watched a lone flag-draped casket taken off of a plane at a local municipal airport, watched a wounded warrior try to make his way around a Bass Pro Shop in his wheelchair, and listened to a young widowed Marine Corps wife at a gravesite try to explain to a toddler where daddy was. — This is the WE!

In the past decade, which has been the longest period of sustained conflict in America’s history, less than one percent of American’s have served on active duty in the military. Around twelve percent of the Senate and nineteen percent of the House are veterans. According to a New York Times article in May 2013, only a handful of them have children serving in the military.

I know who WE is. Do you?

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