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“Sometime” Never Comes

Claire O'Brien

Claire O’Brien
Photo Credit: Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal

“We should have you on the show sometime.”  This week that became my least favorite phrase.

It has been four years since I stepped up to assure that the messages of American Warrior Radio would not go silent upon the untimely death of the program’s founder Dave Sitton.

My initial decision was driven by passion for the message, not business sense.  Many listeners and guests are surprised to learn that the radio station does not compensate me for broadcasting the show. Quite to the contrary, I pay them for the pleasure to rent an hour of their airwaves.  Thanks to our generous advertisers, this year will mark my first that American Warrior Radio will not be a very expensive personal labor of love.

My fourth year as host marked another important threshold. American Warrior is gaining sufficient traction that publicists, movie studios and public relations firms are now calling us suggesting their clients for guest spots on the program.   We still do most the research and bookings ourselves, seeking out stories that inspire and need to be heard by the 99% of the population who never served in the military. But getting phone calls from New York, Hollywood or…Sioux City Iowa can be a real morale booster.

This brings me to my least favorite phrase.  Not long ago I came across a series written by Tim Gallagher of the Sioux City Journal. It was about women veterans. One in particular fired my imagination; 95 year old Claire O’Brien who volunteered for the WAVES during World War II and served our nation for two and a half years.  HERS was a story I wanted to help tell.

So I contacted Mr. Gallagher and not long after received a phone call from Claire O’Brien.  Her voice was strong for someone who had witnessed nearly a full century and she said she would be happy to come on the program.

Year end is always tough. Programming is adjusted to fulfill promises. Many Veteran’s charities make a special push during the holidays.  “Yes, we must have you on the show sometime.”

Claire O’Brien died this past Sunday.  Luckily for our nation, her story had been told by others.  But there remain so many others from her generation whose story, whose messages, if not recorded will be lost forever.

Douglas Dillard

Doug Dillard

One year ago, we had Douglas Dillard on the show. He jumped in behind enemy lines during D-Day, survived the Battle of the Bulge and went on to lead covert operations in both Korea and Vietnam.  He held every rank in the Army except General. Doug was a great interview and we agreed that he should come on the show again sometime.  In September I received a note from his daughter – Doug had passed.

Often, “sometime” never comes.  If you know a Veteran from that generation, ask for their story. Record it if they are willing to share.  Their sacrifices must transcend time.

 

Thank YOU! Please Keep Spreading the Word!

American Warrior Radio just surpassed 100,000 visitors for the year!

When I revived the program following the founder’s untimely death, with absolutely ZERO knowledge of doing a radio show, I was inspired by his mission; to educated and inform our population about those who protect us on both the home front and abroad.

I have no idea that we would see this kind of progress and am very pleased we are reaching a national audience now.

Please keep spreading the word!  If you have an idea about a story that needs to be told, please send us a note to: warriorradio@cox.net

 

Have You Checked out our Podcasts?

Over 12,000 persons have this year!  If you haven’t visited recently, here is what you may have missed:

In addition to some names you might recognize like Roger Staubach, Dale Dye, Jim McDivitt and Radney Foster we have also spoken with others whose names might NOT be so familiar but are true American Heroes:

The brave helicopter pilots who landed on a cliff side to rescue Marcus Luttrell in the “Lone Survivor” story

A Marine pilot who earned FOUR Distinguished Flying Crosses in Vietnam, returning from one mission with palm fronds stuck in his tail section.

A soldier who was a teenager when he jumped into Normandy, survived the Battle of the Bulge and went on to lead clandestine missions in both Korea and Vietnam.

Check out our podcast archives using the tab above, now conveniently organized by broadcast month!

 

Help Us Tell These Great Stories!

Veterans both past and present.  Award winning historians and writers. Musicians, Movie Stars and organizations that support our military. The first responders that keep us safe on the home front.

American Warrior Radio produces some very unique and in-depth discussions with all of these people.  Would you like to join in helping us spread these important messages?

For as little as 50 cents per broadcast, you CAN by becoming a Patron of American Warrior Radio!   Simply click on the Patreon link.

As a reward, you will receive some very cool swag related to some of the guests we have had one the show;

 
Autographed copy of the Rowdy Johnson Band’s CD that features “Unwanted Man”, a stirring song inspired by an encounter with a homeless Veteran.

 

 

Autographed copy of “The Friday Pilots”, a compilation of recollections by several Veterans featured on our program.

 

 

 

 

Your very own American Flag Bottle Breacher, a great Veteran owned and operated company founded by Navy SEAL Eli Crane.

 

Unknown Soldier

unknown soldier

Sgt. Edward F. Younger

On this Day in 1921 – The bodies of four American Soldiers exhumed from four different cemeteries in France arrived at the Hotel de Ville in Paris. The four bodies selected represented the remains of soldiers for which there were no records indicating name, rank, organization or date of death.

Upon arrival at the Hotel de Ville, the official forms regarding the transfer and selection of the bodies were burned, assuring the destruction of any paper trail that would indicate where in France the remains came from.  The four caskets were draped with US flags and placed side by side in a hall of the hotel.

The next morning, at 10 AM, US and French officials entered the hall.  Among them was Army Sergeant Edward F. Younger. Younger had been twice wounded and received the Distinguished Service Cross. When Younger and five other soldiers lined up in the makeshift chapel, he thought his group was to serve as pallbearers. But then Younger was handed a spray of white roses by the officer in charge and left alone in the chapel. HE had been selected to perform a very unique task.

Younger said: “I was left alone in the chapel. There were four coffins, all unnamed and unmarked.  I walked around the coffins three times, then suddenly I stopped.  What caused me to stop, I don’t know, it was as though something had pulled me. I placed the roses on the coffin in front of me. I can still remember the awed feeling that I had, standing there alone.”

Younger faced the casket, stood at attention and saluted.  Then the other officials present, led by General  Duport, Commander of the French 6th Army Corps, all entered the hall and rendered their final salute.

The remains that Sergeant Younger selected would be transferred to a hilltop overlooking Washington DC and placed in a white marble sarcophagus inscribed with the words “Here rests in honored glory an American Soldier known but to God.”

Younger died of a heart attack on August 6, 1942 – almost 8 months to the day after the US entered into World War II.  He is buried in Section 18 of Arlington Cemetery next to his wife Agnes and approximately 300 yards from the soldier he selected to be forever interred in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

 

Twenty Third Anniversary of “Blackhawk Down”

Blackhawk Down

Col. Lawrence Casper

Their mission changed when the call went out; Blackhawk Down.

Twenty three years ago, a US Joint Special Operations Force with combined elements of Special Forces units from Army Special Operations Command, Air Force Special Operations Command and Navy Special Warfare Command were dispatched on a mission in the heart of Mogadishu, Somalia. Their objective was to capture two high value targets.

Blackhawk Down

Ranger Jeff Struecker

A mission planned for an hour turned into a running overnight battle and rescue operation when the Blackhawk Down call went out. By the end of the operation, US casualties numbered 73 wounded, 18 KIA and one pilot captured. The enemy casualties were estimated in the hundreds to as many as a thousand.

Two men received the Medal of Honor for their actions during the battle; MSgt Gary Gordon and Sgt 1st Class Randy Shughart. (Delta Force) Both volunteered to be dropped into a swarm of enemy militia in order to protect the crew of the downed helicopter Super Six Four.

This battle was to become the subject of the film Blackhawk Down.  Hear more about it from two men who were there.  Army Ranger Jeff Struecker and Colonel Lawrence Casper.

 

USS Arizona Respect and Honor

RESPECT

Lauren Bruner

Lauren Bruner

Twenty one year old Fire Controlman 3rd Class Lauren Bruner scrambled to his duty station 87 feet above the deck of the USS Arizona when the attack on Pearl Harbor began.   10 minutes later Japanese bombs fatally crippled the Arizona, trapping Bruner and his shipmates in an inferno.

The repair ship Vestal was moored nearby and threw over a line. Bruner and six other men climbed hand over hand across the rope.  Bruner was the second to the last man to leave the USS Arizona and had burns over 70 percent of his body.

After 7 months in the hospital, Bruner went right back at it as a crewmember of the new destroyer USS Coghlan.

Now a sharp 95 years old, he has already made arrangements to have his ashes buried along with his shipmates on the USS Arizona when he is finally bid “Fair Winds and Following Seas”.

USS ArizonaA new memorial representing a full scale outline of the 608 foot long battleship is being built in the center of the University of Arizona campus mall. Brass medallions inscribed with the name and rank of every one of the 1,177 sailors and marines killed aboard the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941 will be installed around the perimeter of the memorial. It will be the largest memorial to the Arizona apart from the National Park in Pearl Harbor.
If you would like to support this cause please visit the donation site.

 

 

 

Protecting our Independence

Listening to today’s Independence Day guests, great patriots and warriors all, I found myself getting a little choked up.  My first reaction was slight embarrassment.  Then it dawned on me that this should be the natural response of anyone who holds a deep and abiding love for their country.

Having spent the first nine years of my life overseas incubated my love for the USA in a manner that is hard to shake.  The United States was a magical land. One could drink tap water without fear and daily trips to the market were unnecessary.  Every home seemed to have a television and a telephone.

I recall neighbors from around our block huddled about a small transistor radio listening to broadcasts of the Gemini Space mission. A five year old child’s mind reeled at the concept of a nation so great it could send men into space while we still unloaded airport baggage with ox carts.

When the leaders of my country of birth spoke, the citizens chuckled and rolled their eyes. When the leaders of the US spoke, people all across the globe listened.

My first hard lesson upon coming to the US was involved language. My brother and I were struggling and a note was sent home from school. My parent’s simple reaction was “Well you will just have to work harder than the other kids won’t you?”  There it was; opportunity. The realization that I was in control of my own destiny. The liberty and independence to rise OR fall based upon my willingness to make the extra effort. What a magical country!

My international travels as an adult only reinforced my appreciation for this land of opportunity.  If it was up to me, every young person in our nation would be required to spend 30 days overseas so they can learn a true appreciation for what we have and incubate their own sense of responsibility for preserving this special gift so hard won by previous generations.

It breaks my heart when I hear veterans express their fears that the liberties they fought to defend are being allowed to slip away.  The message I take from their voices is one of disappointment – and a challenge.  As if they are the adults telling that grade school child to work harder.

This morning I read an editorial claiming our battle for independence from Britain was a mistake.  I chuckled and rolled my eyes.  Then I went out and posted my flag.

 

 

 

 

 

A Generation Fades as another steps up to Stand the Watch

Doolittle RaiderThis morning I was saddened to hear the news of the passing of Staff Sergeant David Thatcher, one of only two remaining members of the original 80 Doolittle Raiders. Then Corporal Thatcher was the engineer/gunner on the crew of the 7th aircraft, “The Ruptured Duck”. (Interesting feat given that the tail guns were replaced with painted broom sticks in order to save weight!) After successfully dropping their bombs on industrial sections of Tokyo, they were forced to ditch their aircraft just off the Chinese coast.  Thatcher was the only crew member not injured. The aircraft’s pilot, Lt. Ted Lawson suffered severe injuries that required his leg to be amputated in the field.  Upon his return home, Lawson would author the book “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo”.

One of the joys and honors of hosting a military radio show is the opportunity to talk directly to those veterans who have made history. For someone like me, this is the equivalent of sitting down over a beer with an MLB all-star or former President of the US.

As a member of the community that donated the silver goblets used in the famous Doolittle Raiders reunion toasts, I have always felt a special connection to their story. This was further reinforced during my term as Honorary Commander to General Robin Rand and the 12th Air Force. General Rand is a big believer in reminding young airmen of their historical roots and the 12th’s connection to General Jimmy Doolittle was a strong one.

Thatcher’s passing leaves Lt. Col. Richard Cole as the sole surviving Raider.  Cole was Doolittle’s co-pilot in the first bomber to leave the deck of the USS Hornet. One of the greatest honors of my life was to spend an hour with Dick discussing the famous mission. Much like present day warriors, his humility and simple devotion to his duty was inspirational. He talked about flying 200 feet above choppy waves, with full knowledge they did not have sufficient fuel to complete the original egress plan as you or I would talk about a trip to the neighborhood market.

You can hear Cole’s interview here.

Godspeed Sergeant Thatcher! Thank you for your service!

 

Warriors Needed to Save a Life!

Warriors Needed!

There is a scene from the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou” where a candidate for public office repeatedly declares “Is you or is you ain’t my constituency?!”  Right now you have an opportunity to stand up and save a life.

One of the principal tenants of our US military is “We never leave men behind”.

As regular listeners to American Warrior Radio are aware, we have taken up the battle to save the life of “Dave”, a brave Afghan interpreter who responded to the call of liberty and faced combat shoulder to shoulder with our troops based upon the promise that our nation would take care of him and his family.

You can hear/read more about his story and the larger issue here, here and here:

Despite complying with all the requisites for a Special Immigrant Visa under the Afghan Allies Act of 2009, “Dave” and his family have been stuck in bureaucratic limbo for NEARLY THREE YEARS!  In the interim, as the situation in the country continues to destabilize, those who assisted US troops are being systematically hunted down and slaughtered by our jihadist adversaries.  Most recently, these enemies issued a “kill order” for Dave and his family through social media networks.

There are thousands of Afghan interpreters facing similar circumstances and the issue is huge. Often, when a task appears overwhelming, people are frozen into inaction because they don’t know where to start.  We start by picking one issue. In this case, one brave ally among the thousands we promised to help.

While many elected officials have agreed to take up Dave’s cause, the political reality is that most Congressional offices strongly prefer that a request for action come from one of their own constituents.  If someone you know lives in one of the following Congressional Districts and is willing to take up this cause, please contact us immediately!  warriorradio@cox.net

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick       CD 1 – Flagstaff, White Mountains

Rep. Raul Grijalva             CD 3 – Tucson, Nogales, Ajo, Gila Bend

Rep. Paul Gosar                 CD 4 – Prescott, Payson, Wickenburg

Rep. Matt Salmon            CD 5 – Gilbert, Apache Junction, Queen Creek

Rep. Ruben Gallego        CD 7 – Phoenix, Glendale

Rep. Trent Franks            CD 8 – Peoria, Sun City, Litchfield Park

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema      CD 9 – Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa