“Talking Proud” honors service and sacrifice, focused mainly on our military, and where I can, on Canada’s as well. Feel free to send me a note using the Contact Form and, if appropriate, I will post your comments in our Letters section. My name is Ed Marek, and I run this site on my own, as a hobby. That said, a donation is always uplifting.
“Sacrifice: Without Fear There Is No Courage”
America lost a Marine today
Richard Pittman died on October 13, 2016, age 71. He suffered partial blindness and was unable to join regular service, but was able to join the Marine Corps Reserve. He volunteered to go to Vietnam, infantry, instead of accepting an offer for an engineering position. Intelligence back in July 1966 said there were eight battalions of North Vietnamese crossing the DMZ. His group was to be part of a blocking force. His company was to set up a radio relay station for other units to use. Pittman was a lance corporal at the time, July 24, 1966. He said as they went to set up the radio station, his unit was ambushed. He said he was one of the last in his column, known to his squad as "Tail Man Charlie." He said, "Marines do what Marines do, they charge to the front. That's the last thing you want do in an ambush, you know …. 'cause you'll end up in the kill zone, but that's what we did." He and his fellows were told to halt and hold their position. Another platoon went forward to engage the enemy. Pittman could not be still, so he left his position to go help the struggling platoon up forward. He eventually rushed forward to help the Marines who were calling for help. “Believe it or not, I had the last functioning machine gun,” he said. Dodging fire, he took on nearly three dozen enemy troops. He established his position and opened up with machine gun fire, exhausting three weapons, he finally threw a grenade. The enemy retreated, and he was able to assist the wounded Marines. “I didn’t have any other goal in mind, other than to just, you know, help my fellow Marines,” he said. “And, in retrospect, fortunately, I was able to do that … I never knew how many were killed and wounded until I went to the Vietnam Memorial … When I saw a couple of names that I knew, that were in my squad. Then the day of the action and all the names that were right there together. I was in shock. Because we were all buddies. We were all close. There was a lot." President Lyndon B. Johnson presented him with the Medal of Honor on May 14, 1968. (101816)
The "Ghost," Matt Urban, Medal of Honor
“The Greatest Soldier in American History.”
President Jimmy Carter
The surprises kept on coming. His full name was “Matthew Louis Urbanowicz.” He was the son of Polish immigrants, born in 1919, grew up in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Why did this surprise me? My father was born in 1919 of Polish immigrants, he grew up in Buffalo, and I too grew up in Buffalo and graduated from the University of Buffalo. Yet I had never heard of Matt Urban, the hero. This was a story I simply had to do. I've learned so much that I am blessed to have done it. (092416) Go to story.
Come fly with me over Laos - Major Gerald Taylor, USAF, 23rd TASS, NKP RTAFB
"Do you see that "little flivver" down there in the weeds of Laos?
That's our Bird Dog on the prowl for enemy
I have published an extensive story about the Bird Dog, "The O-1 'Bird Dog,' the toughest dog in the fight, 'our little flivver.'" I want to extract from the introduction to that story:
"There are countless ways to come to grips with the almost indescribable courage and bravery of our armed forces in the Vietnam-Laos Wars. Understanding the men who flew the O-1 'Bird Dog' Forward Air Controller (FAC) is one. Much has been capably written about these FACs and their machines. More must be written, more must be read, more must be understood. These were 'chariots with wings,' the toughest little dogs in the fight, the eyes in the sky, a warbug, a centerpiece of the hunter-killer team that heaped lead upon the enemy's head."
Major Gerald Keith Taylor, USAF, flew the O-1 Bird Dog, the "Dawg," out of Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base (NKP RTAFB) from about August 1966 to June 1967, mostly over Laos. Taylor flew with the 23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron (TASS), known as "The Crickets." In July 2016 John Taylor, Gerald's son, sent me the photos his dad used in his slide show program. I want to publish many of these photos. II want to show you the geography over which and through which these pilots flew. This will help you understand better what all our pilots experienced when flying over Laos, whether in a fighter, a transport, helicopter or prop job executing whatever mission they experienced. So take a flight along with Major Taylor, and thankfully you can relax and study the film. Go to photo album. (092516)
America lost a Soldier today
Navajo Code Talker Joe Hosteen Kellwood passed away on September 5, 2016 in Phoenix. He was 95. This photo shows him in 2005 standing beside the Navajo Code Talker statue in the tribal capitol of Window Rock in 2005. Kellwood joined the 1st Marine Division in 1942 at the age of 21 and operated as a Navajo Code Talker until the war ended in April, 1945. He took part in several battled in the Pacific Theater, including the Battle of Cape Gloucester, Peleliu and Okinawa. Kellwood said he didn’t worry much about being killed in action because he had a secret way to protect himself the Navajo war — he chewed sacred corn pollen hidden in his chewing gum. (091716)
Hmong find F-105 pilot hanging from the trees
“The body bag held the contents of one Major Sanders, former F-105D pilot, whose remains had been retrieved and returned to (Lima Site 20) Alternate that very afternoon by a CIA case officer whose Hmong team cut them down out of the trees where he had been hanging for several weeks still in his ejection seat.” I have found precious little information about Sanders' loss. Therefore, I intend to use his loss as cause to explore several questions raised by this crash, as a means to educate ourselves about the aircraft and the environments in which the pilots flew them. To the extent I can, I want to first present facts as officially documented. Later on I will go over some of those facts and analyze what might have happened. June 28, 2016. Go to story.
Evacuation from France and the march to occupy Germany
Patrick Wilson, writing “Dunkirk: Victory or defeat” published by History Review in September 2000, cautioned people not to underestimate the importance of the mass British military evacuations from Dunkirk, France, writing this:
“Dunkirk was the beginning of the end for the Third Reich.”
Generaloberst Gerd von Rundstedt, the opposing force German commanding general said something similar. He called Dunkirk “one of the great turning points of the war.”
German Generals Erich von Manstein and Heinz Guderian as well as Admiral Karl Dönitz considered the failure of the German High Command to order a timely assault on Dunkirk and eliminating the BEF as one of the major mistakes the Germans had made on the Western Front.
So the question comes to mind, how could these evacuations from France in 1940, which many say was the result of a military disaster, lead to the fall of the Third Reich?
This report will at a top level walk you from those evacuations from France through to the Allied occupation of a defeated Germany. Indeed, I will conclude by telling you how the Allies trapped German forces in Dunkirk and forced them to surrender, in 1945. The evacuations can be viewed as the first step. I will do so primarily by highlighting important policy decisions and policy planning, many of which at the time were kept secret. This is not so much a report about the fighting and the battles as it is about policy. April 8, 2016. Go to story.