Yellow Shirts

Yellow Shirts on Great Road – Making a Difference

 

Earlier this month, a Bedford resident’s memory was jolted after seeing about forty people in hats wearing yellow shirts walking on Great Road. He was reminded he was holding a book in his basement for the Bedford Legion post.

 

Those forty or so people were marching in the American Legion’s National Commander’s Walk. It really wasn’t too much of a march. Waving hands and beeping horns of support followed those “marchers” on Great Road from our Post to Veterans Memorial Park and back. It was for increasing the awareness for Veterans; making a difference – nationally and in our own community. The Walk, with Dale Barnett, our National Commander was originally to be held in Concord. As a result of the weather it was negotiated instead to end up at our Post.  It was quite an honor to host both State and National members of the American Legion and be able to continue the walk.

 

Just a week earlier, we had been honored by the presence of the National American Legion Auxiliary President, Sharon Conatser, as our ALA hosted an evening for her and many other local dignitaries. We are proud to note this little place called Bedford has been getting a good degree of attention.

We are making a difference.

 

Here’s a quote from the “Vets’ News” boasting a national audience: The last-minute notice didn’t faze Post 221 Commander- “(It took) three phone calls, because we have a team and a half here,” Commander O’Connor said. “The team we have here, our family unit – it’s easy to be a commander when you have people like that.”

 

Remember a reference to a book held by a Bedford resident earlier? After the walk, He turned that book over to the Legion and we put it on display in our glass case for safe keeping. It was a hard copy of the very first Massachusetts American Legion Convention, dated 1919. It was a great month.  You’ll never know what may come of your actions – a book filled with history of our Family’s very beginning donated to us – to continuing to raise Veteran’s support wearing yellow shirts and hats on Great Road.

 

We have a lot of events coming up at our Post.  You can keep up to date by visiting our website or Facebook page – more details on these upcoming events at:

 

http://bedfordlegion.org/

 

https://www.facebook.com/BedfordLegion/?fref=nf

 

 

  • Cinco de Mayo
  • Kentucky Derby Party
  • Mother’s Day Breakfast
  • General Body Meeting (AL) – adopt/vote on By-Laws
  • WWII 1911 .45 cal hand gun raffle (100:1 odds)
  • An Adventure to Remember – May 21st 7-11P

 

 

 

 

 

 

Massachusetts Walk for Veterans

Massachusetts Walk for Veterans

Despite multiple downpours and even hail, Legionnaires, led by National Commander Dale Barnett held an awareness walk in Bedford, Mass. on Friday, Apr. 8. Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion.
Despite multiple downpours and even hail, Legionnaires, led by National Commander Dale Barnett held an awareness walk in Bedford, Mass. on Friday, Apr. 8. Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion.
Despite multiple downpours and even hail, Legionnaires, led by National Commander Dale Barnett held an awareness walk in Bedford, Mass. on Friday, Apr. 8. Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion.
Despite multiple downpours and even hail, Legionnaires, led by National Commander Dale Barnett held an awareness walk in Bedford, Mass. on Friday, Apr. 8. Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion.
National Commander Dale Barnett chats with members of the Concord, Mass. Police Department, who stopped by to offer their support. Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion.
Dewey Moss, Aide to the National Commander, takes a group photo at Post 221 in Bedford, Mass. on Friday, Apr. 8. Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion.
National Commander Dale Barnett talks to the group at Post 221 in Bedford, Mass. on Friday, Apr. 8. Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion.
Anthony-Hunt-Hamilton American Legion Post 221 Post Commander O. C. O’Connor, carrying The Bedford Flag, walks in National Commander Dale Barnett’s Walk for Veterans event in Bedford, Mass. Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion
After some quick thinking, Legionnaires were able to get the awareness walk underway in Bedford, Mass. on Friday, Apr. 8. Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion.
After some quick thinking, Legionnaires were able to get the awareness walk underway in Bedford, Mass. on Friday, Apr. 8. Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion.
After some quick thinking, Legionnaires were able to get the awareness walk underway in Bedford, Mass. on Friday, Apr. 8. Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion.
http://www.legion.org/commander/photos/232365/massachusetts-walk-veterans

Springtime

To Our American Legion Family –

Winter’s behind us, or soon will be – snow again maybe…….  Time to focus on the next season: Spring. With longer days, warmer temperatures and Mother Nature showing off her new flowers and buds, it’s a time to start anew.

We move the clock forward an hour “spring ahead”- colorful catalogs of fashion, gardening, and DIY projects fill your mailbox, inbox, twitter, Pinterest, or Snapchat accounts……. OK some of those things may be a little bit more high tech for many of us – but none the less – all great ways of getting spiffed up and moving forward.

St Patrick’s Day was a big success at the Legion both upstairs in Genetti Hall and in the Member’s Lounge.  Thank you to all who participated in making those events a real big success; the people who shop, chop, cook, boil, decorate, order, arrange and just make it all happen – Thank You !

The IT Team has been moving forward with improvements on the website, helping spread the word on Facebook, as well as other IT related projects – Thank You !

WWII Model 1911– PKZSEWMA – Keep your eyes open for a raffle coming shortly for a .45 cal handgun; manufactured by Auto-Ordinance.  It’s an identical model to the one used by US Servicemen and women from 1911 – 1986. All other rules and regulations in accordance with Massachusetts State Laws will be adhered to – if winner does not have a legal MA LTC, a $500 cash value, or equivalent, will be arranged.  There will only be One Hundred (100) Raffle Ticket Books sold (1/100 odds to win).

Bedford High School’s Red Cross Club and Citizen Scholarship Foundation – Dollars for Scholars have teamed up for a BHS/Bedford Community joint effort.  The American Red Cross developed a program to help encourage young adults to become more involved in sponsoring blood drives.  This is a tall order and we are hoping you will all help our BHS Seniors reach their goal.  Their 2nd and last drive of the year is NEXT Wed 4/6 at BHS 1-7 which is why I’m reaching out to all of you as past/current sponsors in the hopes of asking for your help in spreading the word.  I am attaching the electronic poster and here is the direct link to the sign-up

http://www.redcrossblood.org/give/drive/driveSearchList.jsp?zipSponsor=BHS

 

Thank you Jimmy McMahan – and best wishes to you and your future endeavors!  Your many years of service to our Post and to the SAL Leadership Team will part of our history now – just like our Post has strong roots back to our origins with your family – Thank you for your service.

 

National Commander’s Walk – Bedford will be represented in the Walk for Veterans though downtown Concord on April 8th. Leading the Walk will be American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett and Department Commander Louie Brault. “The purpose of this Walk is to raise public awareness about the crucial issues facing America’s veterans and their families,” said Department Commander Louie Brault. “An estimated 22 veterans a day commit suicide. Traumatic brain injuries have become a signature wound of the Global War on Terrorism and up to 20 percent of the men and women who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are believed to experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We are walking for those who marched for us.” The Walk will begin at noon on April 8th. The length of the walk is 2.5 miles and will start by Meriams Corner near the intersection of Lexington Rd and Old Bedford Rd in Concord wind through Concord and end at Minuteman National Historical Park.  An info poster is attached for your review and/or sign up – please join us !   Bedford Citizen link on the walk:  http://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/wpcontent/uploads/2016/03/03292016-OC-OConnor-National-Commanders-Walk.pdf

 

Save the Date – more information to follow – let’s just say keep the date open on May 21, 2016 – it will be a busy day for our Post – starting off with an American Legion General Body Meeting – we’ll be reviewing & voting to accept the recommendations from the By-Law Sub Committee – voting for Post Officers (deadline to throw your hat in the ring if you’re interested is April 12th) – a light lunch followed with the drawing of the WWII Model 1911 .45 caliber handgun – and finally a great night of entertainment in Genetti Hall from 7-11P.
Keep moving forward – For the Good of the Legion !

Wheels Up

To Our American Legion Family –

 

“Wheels up in twenty” – you’ve heard this term used before. Practically speaking it’s a verbal heads up, or warning that an air transport you’re somehow connected with will be departing in twenty minutes – be attentive. Of course, other meanings exist as well.

 

What you’re about to read will unequivocally redefine how you process and think of the term “wheels up”. Please bear with me – this ”blurb” is longer than usual – I hope you will agree it’s worth your time and effort.

 

Many of you undoubtedly heard of, or even know the story of a Fall River born Naval Academy Graduate. Prior to entering Annapolis, this Massachusetts native attended Phillips Academy; a mere 20 minutes away from our Post. The young Midshipman may have missed WWII, as he was the Class of 1946; yet another conflict stirred on the horizon. You may also have heard of a couple of his Annapolis classmates: Stanfield Turner and Jimmy Carter.

 

During the same period, far, far away geographically and culturally speaking – a Mississippi native attended a one room school house. At the early age of six, he attended an airshow with his father where he caught the “bug” and aspiration of becoming a pilot. This student went on to become the Salutatorian of his 1944 High School Class. In following the footsteps of Jesse Owens, this student went on to Ohio State University. At that time, the Navy ROTC program only had a participation rate of .0025% Black students nationally; statistics illustrated that only 14 African-Americans out of over 5,600 total students were enrolled in the program.

 

As fate would have it, the two Naval Aviators with distinctively contrasting beginnings found themselves assigned to Fighter Squadron 32 aboard the Essex Class Aircraft Carrier; the USS Leyte (CV-32). During the Korean War CV-32 flew nearly 4,000 missions and earned two Battle Stars while assigned to Task Force 77. Fighter Squadron 32, or the VF-32 Swordsmen flew the F4U-Corsair fighter-bomber aircraft. That same squadron sharing a proud legacy dating back to the Korean War is known today as FVA-32 currently flying F/A -18F Super Hornets. On August 8, 1950, The USS Leyte was sent to Korea as part of the U.S. Seventh Fleet.

 

December 4, 1950 began in a similar fashion to those previous 20 combat missions for Ensign, Jesse L. Brown from Mississippi. The F4U Corsair flew interdiction raids and supported US Marines on the ground. A little after 1:30PM, six aircraft launched off the deck of the carrier for a “search and destroy” mission that day. 100 miles from the task force, somewhere near Somong-ni, 15 miles behind enemy lines, Jesse’s aircraft took on small arms fire from Chinese ground forces. There were no options to make it back to the Task Force – he had to ditch his aircraft “wheels up” in the snow covered mountainous terrain with below zero temperatures.

 

Among the five other circling Corsairs was Jessie’s Wingman, Lieutenant Commander (LCDR), Thomas Hudner, Jr. eagerly observing as Ensign Brown crashed his plane below. The pilots looked on with limited hope for anyone to survive such a horrific crash like that. LCDR Hudner spotted Ensign Brown with his helmet off and barely moving his arm; unfortunately stuck in the wreckage.

 

LCDR Hudner then executed not only the unthinkable, the unexpected, but also disobeyed a direct order…… The following is part of the Medal of Honor Citation presented to him on April 13, 1951 by President Harry S. Truman:

 

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty………  maneuvering to circle the downed pilot and protect him from enemy troops infesting the area, Lt. (J.G.) Hudner risked his life to save the injured flier who was trapped alive in the burning wreckage. Fully aware of the extreme danger in landing on the rough mountainous terrain and the scant hope of escape or survival in subzero temperature, he put his plane down skillfully in a deliberate wheels-up landing in the presence of enemy troops. With his bare hands, he packed the fuselage with snow to keep the flames away from the pilot and struggled to pull him free. Unsuccessful in this, he returned to his crashed aircraft and radioed other airborne planes, requesting that a helicopter be dispatched with an ax and fire extinguisher. He then remained on the spot despite the continuing danger from enemy action……….

This link below, will provide you with actual video coverage of President Truman presenting the Medal of Honor to LCDR Hudner, you will see Ensign Brown’s wife in attendance at the ceremony. It was certainly with a heavy heart that LCDR Hudner carried Ensign Brown’s last words, when Brown asked Hudner to “Tell Daisy I love her”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvLJkaGwLso

Two Naval Aviators crash landed their F4U Corsairs that day – both with “wheels up”. The first was Ensign Brown, the first African-American pilot in the U.S. Navy, and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross. Also the first African American killed in the Korean War. Twenty three years later, the Navy commissioned the Jesse L. Brown FF-1089 (Fast Frigate) in his honor in 1973.

The second man to intentionally crash “wheels up” that day; heroic wingman, Medal of Honor recipient, and a member of American Legion Post 0221 was Thomas J, Hudner, Jr.  We are proud of all our members to whatever extent they served in our Armed Forces. Tom Hudner will never tell you is a hero – that’s exactly how heroes see themselves. LCDR Hudner was also the first service member to receive the Medal of Honor in the Korean War.

The first mention of that fateful event on December 4, 1950 in the American Legion Magazine was November 1951. That issue also celebrated the 33rd American Legion National Convention. Yes, that was 65 years ago. Since then several articles and mentions have emblazed the pages of countless newspapers, magazines, TV shows, including many more instances in our AL Magazine.

 

When LCDR Hudner left the crash site, his wingman had succumbed to his wounds. What a comfort it must have been for Ensign Brown to have a friend by his side, one who put his own life in harm’s way to try and save him. Tom made a promise to his wingman that we would come back for him; a promise he continues to hold near and dear. There are Americans in North Korea scouring the mountainsides for those two Corsairs – ultimately hoping to repatriate the remains of Ensign Brown.

We, as Americans, vow to never leave anyone behind. As more and more Veterans return home from combat, or tours of duty across the globe, our appreciation for their, and their families’, sacrifices take on new dynamic meanings. For it is within our own means to demonstrate support for whatever their needs may be; that is what the American Legion Family does. Too many are coming home with invisible scars of PTSD in addition to visible scars, or lost limbs – all need our support.

This year marks the 98th American Legion Convention to be held in Cincinnati, OH. In two years, we’ll be celebrating the 100th Anniversary Convention in Minnesota. Much has changed over the last hundred years. Yet one thing remains constant – Americans will answer the call to protect freedom – Freedom Is Not Free. It’s also incumbent upon us, not only continue our worthy efforts to support all Veterans in our community, but to also take a hard look at what else we can do to improve on those efforts.

 

Back in December 1950, LCDR Hudner made a decision to help save his wingman. In the summer of 2013, Tom continued to make good on his promise “we’ll be back for you” when he visited North Korea asking for and receiving permission for expeditions to search for those two Corsairs. That’s a living example of undeniable commitment.

 

It has been a humbling honor to learn and write about a man like LCDR Hudner; a member of our Post.  He continues to set one of the most resilient examples of commitment that I know of.  As Commander, I ask all of us in the American Legion Family of Post 0221:  What are we willing to do for those who have served and continue to serve? There are members of the Legion, the ALA, and the SAL, who perform tirelessly week after week; I applaud them to no end. Yet, they are but a very small minority of our entire membership. There are many programs here at the Post that could use additional support and encouragement. Some require as little as an hour a month. Spread the word about hall rentals. Please let us know what you might be willing to do to assist us here. At the very least, come down and visit us in the Members Lounge.

 

With Sincerity and Deepest Respect,

 

OC

 

 

These links will offer more insight on the LCDR Hudner’s story – I encourage you to dig deeper into the history of the Korean War, the association of our own Post Member, and an incredible legacy.

 

http://archive.legion.org/handle/123456789/3970

http://burnpit.us/2014/12/lieutentant-jg-thomas-hudner-receives-medal-honor-attempting-rescue-downed-wingman

https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/bigpicture/2015/11/11/honoring-veterans/s9HRxai0fJQyFrQlw2M2mK/story.html

http://www.cmohs.org/recipient-detail/3128/hudner-thomas-jerome-jr.php

http://www.legion.org/magazine/230689/well-be-back-you#comments