Archive for July, 2012

In the words of B-17 Pilot Keith E. Harris (1919-1980)
Transcribed from cassette tape by Linda Harris Edited by Alan Harris
 

ON THE MORNING OF OCTOBER 10, 1943, I was then flying in the 570th Squadron in the 390th Bomb Group. On this morning, October 10, we'd flown two missions on the two preceding days; October 8 we went to Bremen and October 9 we went to Mariensburg over in the Polish Corridor. And the morning of October 10, we were assigned a new plane, #783; it was a B-17G with a chin turret, a brand new airplane. That wasn't so bad, but when we saw the squadron setup, why, our number wasn't in it, and our plane and one other were posted over on another board. And up above these numbers was written, "To fly with the 100th."
Now, the 100th group had a real bad reputation as far as coming home was concerned, and I immediately appealed to the colonel, Colonel Edgar Wittan, who was later killed in England, and told him that I didn't want to fly with the 100th. He said, well, everyone was going on the same mission, and I should go over and fly with them; if I didn't like the way they were flying, I could come over and join the 390th again. He said they were real short of planes, and they wanted enough to make a group.
We took off before the 390th on a mission to Munster in Germany; it was on Sunday, a nice sunshiny day, a beautiful day, beautiful fall day. The target was a built-up section of Munster, and I thought it was rather inappropriate that this large set of steps to one big building in Munster was picked out as the aiming point. I'm not sure now whether it was a church or not, but it seemed to me that it was.
Anyway, we took off before the 390th and flew over to where the 100th was assembling. They had 16 planes in the air when I arrived, and the other plane from the 390th had some kind of trouble, either real or imagined, and went back and landed at our base. I circled information with the 100th and got in position and took the #5 spot in the high squadron off to the right and above six planes; there were six in the lead, six in the low, and five of us in the top squadron. We got the group all assembled, and the wings started to assemble, and two of the planes from the 100th dropped out. And so then I was in the #3 position, or #2 position; I went up to #2 position in the high squadron.
Just as we started to cross the North Sea, another 100th plane turned around and started for home (aborting, they called it in those days), and the remaining two planes were just side by side, and so I pulled up in the lead and I led the high squadron, which then consisted of two airplanes. The other airplane was a 100th group plane and had a square D on its tail and we had a square J on our tail.
We crossed the North Sea, or north edge of the English Channel, and headed into Germany. We had a little fighter support for protection until we got just about to the coast. We went in and headed about towards the Ruhr, the Ruhr Valley. The formations were pretty tight; our group was leading the wing, which consisted of three groups, and the 100th was a little bit lower, and then came the 390th and then the 395th.

Well, we had just turned at the initial point to head towards Munster; we were still about, oh, 20 minutes away from the target, and we were heading northeast. We made a shallow turn to the left and were heading northeast; the sun was behind us. And seemingly out of nowhere two fighters came in from about 6 o'clock, a little bit high, and they shot up the lead plane of the group, of the 100th group, and on the radio gun, the handle dropped and just pointed right straight up in the
air, so we figured they were in trouble. But when we looked in the plane, we could see in the windows. We were close enough; we were about, oh, maybe 200 feet from it. There seemed to be a lot of activity, but it was… it didn't make any sharp turns or anything like that as if it was going to leave the formation.
The only thing it did do was slow down, and when you are leading a group and you slow down suddenly, it causes quite a consternation among the other pilots. We slowed down with them. I just had the one man on my right wing, and he was able to stay behind me all right; that was the most difficult part of formation flying, was the slowing down, because if anyone in the lead slows down, it takes a little while for the others to keep from overrunning.
Well, not only did he slow down, but he started losing altitude, and we stayed with him for about, I imagine it was about four minutes, and the fighter attacks were really getting fierce then; they were coming in from the sides. And after we had lost about, I imagine, 2000 feet or maybe 3000 feet (we still had our bomb load, of course), the 390th group passed us, and they were about 2000 or 3000 feet above us. And by that time, our lead plane was smoking pretty badly, and the other 12 planes were still staying in formation, scattered out a little bit by the fighters and the slowing down of the lead plane.
Well, right then I took my group commander's advice, and I said, "Well, this is it," so we put on full take-off power and closed up the cowl flaps as much as we could, and we started to join the 390th. And the man on my right wing (who I think his name is Rosenthal, but he was written up in the "Stars and Stripes" as the only survivor of the 100th mission), he stayed fairly close, so he evidently put on full power too. And we climbed it seemed like an eternity before we could ever catch the 100th, I mean the 390th, and this plane on our right wing stayed fairly close, and there were several fighter attacks on our two planes at this time. However, I think most of them were finishing off the 100th, the 12 planes that went on down with the leader.
As soon as we put on take-off power and started to climb and saw the opposition and the position we were in, we dropped the bombs. And, as far as I know, my right wing man did too. By the time we had reached the 390th, they had already turned right into the bombing run. They turned a little left to go into the bombing run; we were able to cut 'em off a little, and they had about 16 planes left at that time. We dropped into the #5 spot in the low squadron, and I lost track of the other 100th plane; I don't know where he went, the remaining 100th plane.
We flew northwest, mostly west, from Munster, and the fighter attacks were just ferocious; the guns were just going all the time. And we had one fighter who came in head-on from 12 o'clock level, and he wasn't firing. Just before he got to us he kind of dropped down and we raised up a little bit, and I still think he must have been shot, because he did not shoot at us at all; he just flew right through the formation, the bottom half of the formation.
While this was going on, the 390th lost two more planes from fire and from enemy aircraft, and we moved up to the #4 spot in the low squadron. And it must have lasted about 20 minutes, I guess, before some 51's and some 47's came over just about, oh, they were inside of the Netherlands, I guess, a little ways, but, of course, they couldn't go clear to Munster, and we were naturally very tickled when they showed up and then the German fighters left. And just about the
time they showed up, we lost another plane from the 390th in the low squadron, and then I moved up to #3 position in the low squadron and there were, I think, five in the lead and five in the high.
Two more planes were lost on the way home, and when we got back to the 390th airbase it was all socked in; it was all foggy and cloudy, couldn't see a thing, so we went on to the base where the 100th was stationed, and there were three of us landed there that I know of. I landed first, and then William Cabraille landed in "Eight Ball," and his plane was shot up a lot worse than ours; he had an engine out, and he ran off the end of the runway–but I don't think there was anyone actually seriously wounded in his plane as there were none in ours.
We went into the debriefing room, and of course there were a lot more debriefing tables han there were crews to fill them; there were only three crews in there, and we had just started our debriefing and everybody was certainly relieved to be back on the ground. Our plane was not flyable; I mean it wouldn't take off again without a lot of repairs.
And while the intelligence officer was questioning us on the enemy attacks and the bomb strike and things like that, why there was a telephone call, and they wanted the pilot of the 390th plane that flew with the 100th, and so I went in this office and picked up the phone and said, "This is Lieutenant Harris," and the voice at the other end said, "This is General … "(I cannot remember his name now) [very likely it was General Curtis LeMay–A.H.], but it shocked me so when he said "General" I just about fainted. And he wanted to know what happened to the 100th; he said there were 12 planes missing, so I told him everything I knew about the mission, and he wanted to know how far into the mission that they were shot down and things like that. After I had told him everything I knew, why he said, "Thank you," and I hung up; that was the extent of my conversations with generals.
I went back to the debriefing table, and the boys made their claims. We had five fighters shot down, confirmed that day, from our plane, which was at that time the most, I guess, on any one mission. The whole group shot down 57 fighters claimed, although I am a little suspicious of some of these figures myself. I only know of actually two that were shot down by our gunners that I could see; of course, the pilot's compartment of a B-17 gives you a very limited view of the enemy attacks unless they are head-on or from the side, and the only one I saw that I could confirm was completely demolished was one that came up from about 11:30, low. Oh, he came up at an angle of about 30 degrees, and I think it was the navigator that got him, but the others, of course, I couldn't see. The top turret gunner got one, the tail gunner got one, and I think one of the waist gunners got one, maybe the ball turret gunner; anyway it was a big day, and we were really tickled to be back on the ground.
The pilot that flew the plane for the 100th, I didn't even get the plane number, everything was so mixed up when we were on this mission, and later on in the Stars and Stripes, there was an article, this must have been around the 1st of November, probably, 1943, if you care to check on it, and the name of the article is "One Out of Thirteen," and he wrote the whole story about the mission, his part in it, and he never even mentioned me, which I thought was kind of an oversight, but I suppose he thought that I was not even from his group so I didn't count.
But anyway, we were… no one was hurt, physically, but for two or three days there we didn't feel like flying again. In fact, the next mission was going to be to Schweinfurt, and due to the fact that our plane was shot up so badly, they gave us another new plane, and this was one of the newer ones where they left out a lot of the fancy trimming, along about November of 1943, and this one had… oh you could see down into the bombardier's compartment from the pilot's compartment, and there were a lot of things that were really not…I suppose they weren't necessary, but they made our old B-17F a nicer airplane to fly.

We took off on the Schweinfurt raid, and we got up to altitude and checked the guns, and one of the ball turret guns wouldn't fire, and one of the tail guns wouldn't fire, and we were leaking oxygen someplace; we generally carried about 400 pounds of oxygen in the main tanks, and it was already down to less than 200, and so we turned around and came back. That was the only mission we aborted except one to Paris in September–we took off and a push rod broke in the number 3 engine and started shooting out a lot of oil, so we feathered it and came back.
But Schweinfurt wasn't a bad trip for our group; they only lost one plane, and as far as I know, all of the men on that crew were interned. One of them, I think it was the copilot, it was his 21st birthday, and he was a little reluctant to go too, and they were kind of kidding him about it, but uh, he did go but I guess they saw all the chutes open from the plane. I think it was flak that got that one.
The mission the day before Munster, on the 9th of October in 1943, was the longest mission we had done, except for the one to Regensburg when we landed in Africa, but this one to Mariensburg, we took off from England and we flew north, and we crossed the peninsula of Denmark, oh, about half-way up. Then we went down along the south coast of Sweden, well, we could just see Sweden, and went over Bornholm Island. We turned southeast and we crossed the coast, oh, maybe 100 miles before we got to Mariensburg. We headed southeast, and on the bomb run at Mariensburg there was no flak and no fighters, and we went in at 12,000 feet, our group, and the other two groups had bombed the aircraft factory there.
Well, it was a real good bombing; the accuracy was just outstanding. Practically all the bombs were right inside the aircraft factory works and the buildings, and I heard later on that there was even a POW camp right across the river–the river kind of bends around this factory, and they didn't get struck at all, and all of these bombs landed very close, I suppose within 500 feet of the aiming point.
That was about an 11-hour mission, I think; we got home about dark, and we crossed the Danish coast on the way home. We had let down to probably 5,000 or 6,000 feet, and there were some–two or three–twin-engine fighters came out and they stayed just far enough behind so our tracers would not reach them, although a lot of the planes tried to reach them, and they were firing 20 mm cannons into the formation. I didn't see them hit anyone, but I could see these flashes when they went off behind the planes below us, and, oh, it looked like a flashbulb go off and then there would be a white puff of smoke about as big as a basketball when they fired, when they exploded in the air.
We got out (and this was when we were just about over the coast–well, it was the south edge of Denmark, I guess) and we got out over the water and there were six planes, 109's, came out, and they flew down along the lead squadron out far enough so they were out of gun range, and they flew out about, oh, I suppose probably four miles in front of the plane, and they all six turned in formation and they went right through the formation in a head-on pass, and the group that they went through was about 3,000 feet below us and about two or three miles ahead, and we had an excellent view, and with all the tracers and 20-mm cannon shells going off, and as far as I know, everyone was unscathed because there were no losses in the 17's, and these six planes flew on back over the coast towards the east.
Mariensburg was a real good mission for us. We didn't lose any planes at all, and there wasn't much damage–a few bullet holes but not many–and if it hadn't been for the fact that the next day we were going to Munster, why, we would have really started enjoying our missions over in the ETO [European Theater of Operations].
For statistics, photos, and other stories about the 390th Bomb Group during World War II, visit http://www.390th.org
[Source: http://www.alharris.com/stories/munster.htm May 2012 ++]

Advertisements

Civil War Nostalgia

Posted: July 15, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags:

In October 1861 Alfred Lewis Castleman, a surgeon in the Fifth Regiment of the Wisconsin Volunteers, described the first death in his regiment. It was not from battle. “The poor fellow died of Nostalgia (home-sickness), raving to the last breath about wife and children,” he wrote. “Deaths from this cause are very frequent in the army.”
While today “nostalgia” is used to describe the longing for a lost time, the word originally signified acute homesickness, a condition widely regarded as a dangerous and often deadly illness. Doctors maintained that it could kill, either by worsening existing maladies or by causing its own physical symptoms, which included heart palpitations, lesions, damage to internal organs, “hectic fever,” bowel problems and incontinence.
A Civil War veteran described nostalgia’s effects in 1866, noting how it “fastens upon the breast of its prey, and sucks, vampyre-like, the breath of his nostrils. Many a heroic spirit after braving death at the cannon’s mouth … has at length succumbed unresistingly to this vampyre, Nostalgia.” During the Civil War, with close to three million men away from home and therefore potential victim to its ravages, Americans both on the battlefield and on the home front worried about nostalgia.
Homesickness was widespread in both the Confederate and Union armies, as thousands of surviving journals and letters testify. Many men came from rural areas and were away from farm and family for the first time. Added to this sense of displacement was the fear that they might be killed in battle and never see their loved ones again.
An 1861 letter from Richard Simpson, a soldier in the Third South Carolina Volunteers, to his aunt was typical. “We are now in the land of danger, far, far from home,” he wrote. Simpson had been away from home before, but, he confided: “I never wished to be back as bad in my life. How memory recalls every little spot, and how vividly every little scene flashes before my mind. Oh! If there is one place dear to me it is home sweet home. How many joys cluster there. To join once more the family circle (I mean you all) and talk of times gone by would be more to me than all else besides.”
While Simpson’s homesickness was intense, it was not debilitating. For thousands of other men, the emotion sapped their strength and left them ill. When it became this serious, doctors deemed it nostalgia. Union records offer a good picture of its consequences: over the course of the war’s first year, the Surgeon General reported, there were 572 cases of nostalgia among troops. Those numbers rose in subsequent years, peaking in the year ending in June 1863, after the draft had begun. That year more than 2,000 men were listed as suffering from nostalgia; 12 succumbed to it. The year with the most fatalities was 1865, when 24 men died of the disease. In all, between 1861 and 1866, 5,537 Union soldiers suffered homesickness acutely enough to come to a doctor’s attention, and 74 died of it.
Given the deadly risks believed to accompany the condition, soldiers of all ranks monitored their own mental health as well as that of their comrades. Union Gen. Joseph Shields wrote in 1862 that soldiers, “if not allowed to go home and see their families … droop and die. … I have watched this.” In August 1864, Gen. Benjamin Butler worried that this might happen to him, writing his wife, “You make me so homesick. I shall have nostalgia like a Swiss soldier.” Men lower in the ranks harbored the same fears. Cyrus Boyd of the 15th Iowa Infantry wrote in 1863, somewhat hyperbolically, “More men die of homesickness than all other diseases — and when a man gives up and lies down he is a goner. Keep the mind occupied with something new and keep going all the time except when asleep.”
In light of such fears, soldiers and physicians looked for possible causes of and cures for nostalgia. What sparked the emotion? And how could it be assuaged? Some pointed to the letters that soldiers received from home. If they didn’t receive enough letters, they might grow lonely and sad and begin a descent into nostalgia. On the other hand, if they received too many letters, they also might dwell overmuch on the family scenes they were missing.

Doctors also theorized that music might carry a soldier’s mind back to his family. As a result, some units took steps to prohibit particularly moving melodies. S. Millett Thompson, of the 13th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry, reported that “the bands are forbidden to play pathetic or plaintive tunes, such as Home, Sweet Home… Auld Lang Syne, etc., lest they serve to dispirit, and unnerve our suffering men.” Such a rule was not frivolous, as Numa Barned, a Union soldier forced to listen to new “homesick recruits” playing “Home, Sweet Home,” confided. “I don’t like to hear it for it makes me feel queer,” he wrote.
If music could spark homesickness, so could holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas were always difficult days for men far from home. The Sabbath likewise was a day for remembering other routines and identities that war had forced soldiers to abandon.
Doctors also contended that within the Army, homesickness was more visible among some populations than others, although they reached no consensus about which populations those actually were. Some pointed to young recruits, venturing far from home for the first time. Others claimed that middle-aged men, long accustomed to the comforts of domestic life, missed them most acutely. Some believed farm boys were more likely to be homesick than city dwellers, while others maintained that New Englanders were particularly tender-hearted and therefore vulnerable.
Doctors sometimes went beyond these demographic profiles and attributed homesickness to character flaws. J. Theodore Calhoun, the assistant surgeon of the Union Army, believed nostalgics needed to be rendered “more manly,” while Dr. John Taylor of the Third Missouri Cavalry contended that they were indolent hypochondriacs who were probably prone to other vices as well. Taylor told nostalgic soldiers that their “disease was a moral turpitude,” and “was looked upon with contempt – that gonorrhea and syphilis were not more detestable.”
The association of nostalgia with venereal disease was not accidental. Some doctors, like Roberts Bartholow, believed that a strong libido and the tendency to masturbate predisposed soldiers to homesickness, pointing the finger at “those given to solitary vice or the victims of spematorrhea.” Supposedly, soldiers who lived in a dream world and who fantasized about home or sex, or both, became disconnected from their actual surroundings, and wished for different circumstances. Other vices associated with nostalgia were drinking, gambling and tobacco use.
If the precise causes of nostalgia were open to debate, so too were its cures. Some suggested that vigorous physical exercise might cure men of their yearnings for the family hearth; others put faith in the idea that once they faced battle, men would feel more committed to the cause and less tied to home.
Many, however, worried about the risks of nostalgia and took extreme measures to treat it. Physicians sometimes suggested hospitalization, but if cases turned critical, they often sent men home to cure them. A medical manual suggested that in nostalgia’s early stages, “a furlough … will often suffice to restore the moral vigor of the young soldier. But when it has long resisted treatment, and gone so far as to produce sensible external lesions … or structural changes in large organs, a discharge must unquestionably, be granted.”
To modern Americans who are accustomed to leaving home and who harbor few fears of dying of nostalgia, such diagnoses and cures seem strange, even laughable. But they reveal much about 19th-century values. The widely shared conviction that homesickness could kill reflected the deep moral and emotional significance that these Americans attached to home. Even more, their concerns about homesickness and nostalgia remind us that while today we celebrate restless mobility and see it as a central part of our national identity, earlier generations did not, and instead found mobility to be profoundly painful and unnatural.
[Source: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/home-sweet-home/ New York Times Susan J. Matt article 19 Apr 2012 ++]

PTSD

Posted: July 15, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags:

Retired Army Maj. James LaCaria said he was afraid to leave his apartment before he got Kaeci, his 5-year-old service dog. LaCaria, 36, from El Paso, Texas, was diagnosed in 2010 with post-traumatic stress disorder after combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He had been in and out of inpatient psychiatric treatment facilities before his psychiatrist recommended he get a service dog to help him cope with his anxiety and nightmares. But an Army policy implemented in JAN 2012, critics say, has made it harder for soldiers such as LaCaria who are suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injuries to have specialized psychiatric service dogs on military posts. Matt Kuntz, executive director of the Montana chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, launched an online petition last month calling on Army Secretary John McHugh to revise it. “In our point of view, the need for basic regulation turned into a mountain of red tape,” Kuntz said. The policy was implemented shortly after a 6-year-old boy in Kentucky was fatally mauled by a German shepherd trained to help a soldier at Fort Campbell cope with PTSD. The incident happened away from the post. Before January, service dogs were allowed on Army posts under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Now, service dogs must be provided by groups approved by Assistance Dogs International. ADI does not have chapters in 18 states, making the process of acquiring one in those states more difficult. The new policy also requires service members to get approval of a care plan from their commander. “Our policy is supportive of the use of service animals in treating physical disabilities, as well as PTSD,” said Maria Tolleson, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Medical Command. Kuntz’s petition at http://www.change.org/ calls on the Army to make it clear that soldiers do not need to exhaust all other treatment methods before they can qualify for a service dog, and to ensure that soldiers with service dogs can have living quarters where they can keep their service dogs, and to broaden the definition of an accredited service animal provider beyond ADI. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) last month sent a letter to McHugh urging the Army to change its new policy. Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, surgeon general and commanding general of MEDCOM, responded in a letter that the Army “is committed to providing the highest level of care to all soldiers” but “has no studies underway to determine the efficacy of service dog use in the treatment of traumatic brain injury.” [Source: USA Today article 7 Jun 2012 ++]

Boston’s Veterans Services chief said the discrimination claim by an Iraq and Afghan war veteran who is suing a peace activist over a Savin Hill rental dispute is “unusual,” despite the nation’s bitter divisions after a decade of war. “Things are definitely better than they used to be,” said Veterans Affairs Commissioner Francisco Urena, when asked if returning vets today are feeling the kinds of prejudices reported by Vietnam vets decades ago. The Boston Herald reported 4 JUN that Army National Guard Sgt. Joel Morgan, 29, filed a discrimination lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court against property owner Janice Roberts, 63, of Boston, after she cited her anti-war views when suggesting he look elsewhere for an apartment. Roberts, citing issues such as questions about Morgan’s ability to pay and his failure to return a rental application, has denied she passed him over for the two-bedroom, $1,220 a month flat over his war service, though she cited, “what you told me about the Iraq war,” in an April 9 voicemail in which she stated, “It probably would be better for you to look for a place that is a little bit less politically active and controversial.” Roberts doesn’t live at the Savin Hill property. State law bars landlords from rejecting veterans due to their military backgrounds. Harvey Silverglate, a noted local civil liberties lawyer who is not involved in the case, said of the looming legal dispute, “We’re living in highly contentious times. It’s just a reflection of the larger ideological battles that have divided this country. As a society, we’re forgetting how to live with our differences and this is very dangerous. We need to start talking to each other.” Meanwhile, Urena advised any vets who believe they are facing discrimination to call City Hall. [Source: Boston Herald Laurel J. Sweet article 6 Jun 2012 ++]

DFAS SCAM

Posted: July 14, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags:

The IRS and Maryland’s comptroller are warning of a new scam that targets military personnel and retirees as well as civilian workers. Emails, which seem to come from the Defense Finance and Accounting Services, claim that recipients of disability compensation from the VA may be entitled to more money from the IRS. Not true. The email, which has a “.mil” domain, instructs recipients to send copies of their income tax returns, 1099-Rs, Retiree Account Statements, VA award letter to a colonel in Florida, officials say. With that kind of information, a con artist can steal an identity and wreak all sorts of havoc on a victim’s finances. The IRS says beware of any emails out of the blue promising benefits. Also, if you think it may be legit, contact the agency on your own — don’t respond to the email. And any email or phone solicitation asking for your Social Security number should send you running. [Source: The Baltimore Sun Eileen Ambrose article 6 Jun 2012 ++]

Following is the current schedule of Congressional hearings and markups pertaining to the veteran community. Congressional hearings are the principal formal method by which committees collect and analyze information in the early stages of legislative policymaking. Hearings usually include oral testimony from witnesses, and questioning of the witnesses by members of Congress. When a U.S. congressional committee meets to put a legislative bill into final form it is referred to as a mark-up. Veterans are encouraged to contact members of these committees prior to the event listed and provide input on what they want their legislator to do at the event. Membership of each committee and their contact info can be found at http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/committees.tt?commid=svete:
 June 19, 2012: The House Veterans Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on VA's Veterans Benefits Management System. 2:00 P.M.; TBD.
 June 21, 2012: HVAC, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity will hold a hearing on pending legislation. 10:00 A.M.; 334 Cannon.
 June 27, 2012: SVAC will conduct a legislative hearing. The agenda is comprised mainly of bills regarding health care, disability compensation, and NCA matters. 10:00 A.M.; 418 Russell
[Source: Veterans Corner w/Michael Isam 14 Jun 2012 ++]

Stolen Valor Update

Posted: July 13, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags:

A U.S. Army soldier who prosecutors say falsely claimed to have fought in Vietnam and Afghanistan – and to have earned two Purple Heart medals and a Bronze Star for heroism – was indicted on federal charges on 6 JUN. Command Sergeant Major William John Roy is accused of lying about his service as he sought disability, medical and educational benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek said. Roy, 57, was awarded more than $27,000 in disability benefits and $30,000 in educational benefits after submitting bogus evidence of his combat wounds and bravery in action, Mrozek said. According to an indictment handed down in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Roy claimed he served as a medic in Vietnam in 1974 and was twice injured in combat during that war. Roy also claimed that he was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze star for his heroism in Vietnam — when in fact an investigation found that he had been in Germany serving in a non-combat role at the time, Mrozek said.
Among the documentation Roy provided was a Purple Heart certificate purportedly signed by President Richard Nixon but dated four months after Nixon had resigned from office, Mrozek said. Roy also sent a letter to the Army in 2008 seeking a Purple Heart for extensive injuries he said he sustained in a mortar and rocket attack at a forward operating base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, when in fact he was not involved in such an incident, Mrozek said. Roy was indicted on one count of presenting false writings to defraud the United States, three counts of making false statements to the government and three counts of stealing government property. He faces a maximum sentence of 55 years in prison if convicted at trial. Mrozek said Roy, who remains on active duty, would be sent a summons to appear in federal court next month for an arraignment on the charges. [Source: Chicago Tribune Dan Whitcomb article 6 Jun 2012 ++]

 

A singer who appeared on the NBC show "America's Got Talent" and claimed he was injured during a grenade blast in Afghanistan has no military record of his purported combat injuries, the Minnesota National Guard said 5 JUN. Timothy Michael Poe appeared on the nationally televised show 4 JUN. He told the judges he spent 14 years in the military, and suffered a broken back and brain injury when he was hit by a grenade in Afghanistan in 2009. "I had volunteered for a team to go out and clear buildings and help out with the wounded," Poe said during a taped interview on the show. "There was a guy who come up with a rocket-propelled grenade. I saw it coming down, and by the time I turned and went to jump on top of my guys, I yelled `grenade' and the blast had hit me." According to military records, Poe served with the Minnesota Army National Guard from December 2002 through May 2011, working as a supply specialist. Records show he was deployed in Kosovo from Oct. 10, 2007 to July 15, 2008, and then served in Afghanistan for about a month in 2009. "Sgt. Poe's official military records do not indicate that he was injured by a grenade in combat while serving in Afghanistan in 2009, as he reports," Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, a spokesman for the Minnesota National Guard, said in a statement.
Olson noted that Poe did not receive the Purple Heart, which is given to those who are injured in enemy combat. Poe didn't claim he had received the award. "We looked very closely at his record,"
Olson said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "We did not find something to substantiate what he said." Neither Poe nor NBC returned telephone messages from the AP. Poe told the judges that he was from San Antonio, Texas. The television show listed his age as 35. Poe had a stutter when he spoke with the judges, which he attributed to his brain injury. The stutter disappeared when he sang. He also didn't appear to stutter when he spoke with the show's host after his performance. When he was describing his injury, Poe said during the video clip: "When I was laying there I thought I'd never see my daughter walk down the aisle or throw the baseball with my son or be able to hold them and see them. … I didn't want my life to be over." He said singing has helped him deal with the injury. "I'm just happy to be here," he told the judges. In a subsequent 23 minute interview on the military-focused podcast ‘Tou Served’ [ http://www.blogtalkradio.com/youserved/2012/06/06/interview-with-tim-poe ] he admitted that he, in fact, did not earn medals he once claimed to have received, but maintains he suffers from traumatic brain injury, despite assertions by military officials to the contrary. He said the Minnesota National Guard officials who dispute his claim do not have all of his medical records and he is willing to release his medical records supporting his diagnosis. The military blog You Served http://www.blogtalkradio.com/youserved plans to post them on its site if and when received, [Source: FoxNews.com AP article 5 Jun 2012 ++]