Reflections on the irreparable losses in Chattanooga, TN
By Velandy Manohar, MD
Sailor Randall Smith dies from injuries in Chattanooga shooting: family
New York Daily News
Published: Saturday, July 18, 2015, 8:34 AM
Updated: Sunday, July 19, 2015, 12:19 AM
A courageous U.S. Navy serviceman became the fifth fatality in the Chattanooga military shootings
A courageous U.S. Navy serviceman became the fifth fatality in the Chattanooga military shootings, dying Saturday after a heroic two-day fight for his life.
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith had flashed his wife a thumbs-up after taking three bullets from a heavily-armed gunman Thursday during the Tennessee rampage that killed four Marines.
But the damage inflicted by the bullets that pierced his stomach, liver, colon and arm proved too devastating to overcome.
Smith died shortly before a report that his killer Mohammad Abdulazeez, 24, texted a link containing an ominous Islamic verse to a friend on the night before he opened fire on two military facilities.
“When he came out of surgery, and he woke up, he acknowledged his wife. He gave her a thumbs up,” Proxmire told the Daily News. “But that was it.”
The hero, from Paulding, Ohio, also leaves behind three daughters under the age of 7.
Now 5 brothers in arms, 4 Marines and a Navy Petty Officer are gone from our midst. Their sacrifice is unimaginably cruel and hard to comprehend and too much to bear.
I have reflected on these irreparable losses and the historical context in which I try to find some answers and make sense of the ongoing dangers and sacrifices that our family members, friends, neighbors who serve in the best military in the world and the very important role played in back ground by the Recruiting Centers in shopping centers in small and large communities in busy and remote environments.
I will begin with this posting from 1970 in response to the uplink of Melanie’s- stirring ballad Lay Down, Lay it all down [ Candles in rain]
Uploaded May,9, 2009
“So raise the candles high, 'Cause if you don't we could stay black against the night, Oh, raise them higher again, And if you do we could stay dry against the rain, Lay down, lay down, Lay it all down.
Tillman SD 3 months ago
I was 14 years old in 1970 and living in San Diego. It was the height of the Viet Nam war. The downtown area was a sea of white hats and
Marines. A friend and I were on a city bus riding home when a young Marine got on. There were a group of young girls sitting behind us at the
back of the bus. One of them said "I hope he comes back here and sits with us". He did and they began talking. "Do you like being a Marine?"
one of the girls asked. "I need to be a Marine." he answered. "I had two brothers go to Nam and they got killed, so I feel I have to go." There
was silence throughout the bus. This song was playing. I will never forget it.
5 heroic valiant brothers are gone from our midst. We will never forget their sacrifice. VM
I want to share with you the honors earned by the undying patriotism, unswerving loyalty, valiant and honorable service of heroic members of the US Navy. The Museum of the US Navy Memorial has two magnificent statues. One of the bronzes is of the Lone Sailor with his sea bag looking out to see at a mooring. And the other is of Sailor returning home to the loving embrace of his wife and his little kid who reached his waist.
This is the description of the Lone Sailor in the US Navy Memorial. To me it more or less fits our greatly missed hero:
“The LONE SAILOR is 25 years old at most, a senior second class petty officer who is fast becoming a seagoing veteran. He has done it all-fired his weapons in a dozen wars, weighed anchor from a thousand ports, tracked supplies, doused fires, repelled boarders, typed in quadruplicate and mess-cooked, too. He has made liberty call in great cities and tiny villages, where he played tourist, ambassador, missionary to the poor, adventurer, souvenir shopper and friend to new lands. His shipmates remember him with pride and tell their grandchildren stories, some of which, like him, are seven feet tall.” [It is fitting that we remember their service in heroic terms. VM]
Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt served as Assistant Secretaries of the Navy, Presidents who served in Naval uniform included: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George Bush.
The following words are inscribed in the paving above the compass rose as you enter the US Navy Memorial.
In Honor of those who served to Forge
The Heritage of the United States Navy
In tribute to those who perished to provide peace
And security for our maritime nation
In Gratitude to those now serving.
Also embedded in the granite floor are these words spoken by President John F. Kennedy, on August 1, 1963 at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland.
Any man who may be asked in this century
What did he do to make his life worthwhile...?
Can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction,
"I served in the United States Navy.
President Ronald Reagan said this about the United States Marines, “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem.”
The Immortal Six Flag Raisers
6 Flag raisers; front row [Left to right] Marines Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, Doc Bradley [USN] Harlan Block[USMC] Behind Sousley is Marine Michael Strank and behind Doc Bradley is Rene Gagnon. Strank, Sousley and Block died shortly after wards. Marine Strank who was born Czechoslovakia died before his citizenship papers were delivered. Marine Hayes and Gagnon and Doc Bradley became National Heroes.
“Doc” Bradley was a Navy Corpsman who “just jumped in to lend a hand.” He won the Navy Cross for heroism and was wounded in both legs. Bradley, a quiet, private man, gave just one interview in his life. In it he said . . . “People refer to us as heroes–I personally don’t look at it that way. I just think that I happened to be at a certain place at a certain time and anybody on that island could have been in there–and we certainly weren’t heroes–and I speak for the rest of them as well. That’s the way they thought of themselves also.”
Pearl Harbor Dec 07 1941 These words of Melanie sadly describe the human experience in the inescapable cauldron of terror and horror. “We were so close, there was no room, We bled inside each other's wounds.”
By the time the Japanese air raid was over at 9:45am, the destruction to the United States’ Fleet was vast. The attack claimed the lives of 2,409 American servicemen and civilians and wounded another 1,178. Eighteen ships in Pearl Harbor were destroyed or heavily damaged and 347 American aircraft were put out of action. The commanding officer of MAG-21, LtCol Claude A. Larkin, although wounded almost immediately upon arriving at the field that morning, continued to direct the efforts of his Marines to meet the Japanese attack. Marine personnel fought back with machine guns stripped from the ruins of smoldering planes, and in many instances with small arms. Miraculously, only four Marines perished in the air raid at Ewa.
The official report added that, “practically to the last man, every Marine at the base met the attack with whatever weapon there was at hand, or that he could commandeer, or even improvise with the limited means of his command. They displayed great courage and determination against insurmountable odds.”
Similarly, the commanding officer of the Marine Barracks at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard noted in his report of 7 December that immediately upon the first raid by hostile planes, “the (1st and 3d) defense battalions immediately went into action with antiaircraft machine guns with telling effect.” In addition to manning battle stations, security posts and fire engines, Marines at the Barracks assisted in collecting and transporting casualties from the waterfront to the Naval Hospital. One set of barracks, the Noncommissioned Officers’ Club and the Post Exchange were also vacated and prepared for the caring of casualties. The mess halls were opened and served food on a 24-hour basis to civilian and military personnel at the Barracks
Over 800 officers and enlisted Marines were serving aboard ships at Pearl Harbor at the time of the Japanese attack. There were Marine ships’ detachments aboard the USS Arizona, California, Helena, Honolulu, Maryland, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. During the first minute of the attack, a Japanese torpedo slammed into the port bow of the USS Arizona. The senior Marine officer, Maj Alan Shapley, was thrown from the foremast at least a hundred feet into the water but managed to swim clear to Ford Island. Rescuing two shipmates on his way to safety, Maj Shapley later received a Silver Star for his actions.
Official U.S. Navy Photo 32414Though stunned by the fury of the enemy assault, the Marines who were not caught below ship manned their posts and returned antiaircraft fire. Individual acts of heroism were numerous that December morning; four Marines serving aboard ships in “battleship row” received Navy Crosses for heroic actions in rescuing fellow Marines and Navy personnel.
Typical of the heroism displayed by many Marines were the actions of Sgt Thomas E. Hailey. Stationed on the USS Oklahoma, when that battleship capsized, he swam to an adjacent battleship to assist in the rescue of the latter’s crew. Then, on his own initiative, he manned an antiaircraft gun, despite enemy bombing and strafing and the fact that he had no previous experience on this type of weapon. Later, clad only in his underwear and armed with a rifle, he volunteered and went up in an airplane on a five-hour search mission.
Similarly, aboard the USS Nevada, Cpl. Joseph R. Driskell, although wounded and with most of his clothes burned off, manned another gun when his own was wrecked. Subsequently he assisted other injured men and joined in fire-fighting squads which brought flames under control.
Marine Corps losses at Pearl Harbor included 112 Marines killed and missing in action and at least 64 wounded. The heaviest Marine losses came from the ship’s detachment aboard the Arizona, only 3 officers and 12 enlisted men survived from a Marine detachment of 82. In words that could easily apply to the actions of all U.S. servicemen stationed at Pearl Harbor of 7 December 1941, the executive officer of the West Virginia noted that: “Throughout the action, there never was the slightest sign of faltering or of cowardice. The actions of the officers and men were wholly commendable; their spirit was marvelous; there was no sign of panic, no shirking nor flinching, and words fail in attempting to describe the truly magnificent display of courage, discipline, and devotion to duty of all.”
A Short history of the close ties between the US Navy and US Marines
Tim Hibbetts, A-6E, F/A-18C Pilot
The US Navy and US Marine Corps were birthed and grew up together, helping one another get through some hard times and difficult changes, but also glorying in similar accomplishments and striving for compatible goals.
Not to go into the entire history of the Corps, but from the beginnings as the small arms experts on ships (sniping from the tops, defending against enemy boarding parties and leading attacking boarding parties, along with enforcing ship regulations), Marines started working as independent shore parties, attacking enemy strong points and holding landing and docking facilities for larger forces (and some stranger missions: Battle of Derne, where they get "...the shores of Tripoli"). Some of these core missions (pardon the pun) were set aside from time to time, making the Marines just part of the larger land forces (read: Army). In WWI, especially, they broke their "from the sea" mold in Belleau Wood. The return to the main thrust happened with the extensive amphibious operations in the Pacific in WWII. It was short-lived, however. With the operations in Korea (after the initial landings), Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq (despite the amphibious landing feint during Operation Desert Storm), the Marines have been almost exclusively employed similar to Army troops, at least in higher profile, combat roles (they still deploy to sea regularly).
The current Marine leadership is intent on changing that.
Due to increasing budget constraints, the Commandant is looking to return to the Marine Corps' essential task: take a beachhead and hold it long enough for a larger force to land and execute the desired effect.
Since this is going to entail coming in from ships, it will actually be moving the Marine Corps and Navy closer together again. The Corps has been lobbying the Department of the Navy (DoN), the civilian leadership element of both services, to direct more Navy funds for the Marine mission, the partial result being the new class of amphibious vessels, the USS San Antonio amphibious transport dock. An Iconic and classic image of United States projecting its power overseas is a flotilla of amphibs on your shore with Marines squinting with that steely gaze over the low bow waves of floating armored personnel carriers.
Operational Cooperation and interdependence of the Sailors and Marines of the US Military
USS Constitution Museum
The Marine Guard
By Commander Tyrone G. Martin, U. S. Navy (Retired)
The concept of Marines — sea-going soldiers — goes back at least to the ancient Greeks. In those days, and for centuries to come, there was a division of labor in a warship: sailors operated and navigated the ship, soldiers (“marines”) did the fighting, and the gentry provided (hopefully) a unifying leadership. By the 17th Century, when regular navies began appearing, more and more officers were sailors, and sailors had taken charge of the great guns in their ships. But the tradition remained of “sea soldiers” providing small arms fire and other soldier skills.
While there were Continental Marines during the Revolution, they, and the Navy, went out of existence when independence was won. As a new United States Navy was becoming operational in 1798, a new Marine Corps was authorized by Congress on 11 July 1798. It missions were to serve in ships of the Navy as well as forts and garrisons ashore, and to perform any other duty directed by the President.
The duties of Marines aboard ship basically were four: Provide musket fire aboard ship in combat when the opponents were close together. Provide a hard core of tough troops when needed to assault another ship in man-to-man combat. Provide the main strength of any armed party put ashore. And finally, on a daily basis, provide sentries outside the Captain’s cabin and at such other places as the Captain thought necessary.
During the Barbary War, Constitution was particularly active in the summer of 1804, leading her squadron in repeated attacks against Tripoline shipping and bombarding the town of Tripoli. Unlike the Marines from other ship, under Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon, who helped take the town of Derne, Constitution’s Marines never got ashore or into close combat. Private Charles Young, during a bombardment of the town on 3 August, was unfortunate enough to have an elbow smashed by a shell fragment as the ship moved in very close to the shore fortifications. He was the only one of Constitution’s Marines hurt in the war. The brilliant strategy and daring tactics used by the Navy and the Marines lead to complete victory. No less a military Genius than Lord Wellington who decisively vanquished Napoleon offered words of praise
The War of 1812 was the period of Constitution’s greatest glory, and her Marines were very much a part of the story. Their musket firepower repeatedly played an important role in the victories won by the ship.
On 19 August 1812, Constitution dueled with the British frigate Guerrier in a closely fought action that twice had the two ships entangled by their rigging. On the second occasion, First Lieutenant William Sharp Bush, officer in charge of the Marine Guard, leaped atop the quarterdeck bulwark with the intention of leading boarders in a man-to-man assault of the enemy. Before he could do so, he was shot through the head by a British sniper and fell dead on deck. The naval officer who attempted to replace him was shot through the abdomen, and the ships pulled apart before another effort could be made. In return, the fire by U. S. Marines had wounded the two most senior British officers, their Sailing Master, and a number of seamen. The enemy was so damaged that surrender followed. William Bush was the only Marine officer to die in action in “Old Ironsides,” and the first U. S. Marine officer to die in combat anywhere. Private William Mullen, serving in the mizzen fighting top, was shot in the ankle in this fight.
A little over four months later, when Constitution was off northeastern Brazil, she dueled with the British frigate Java. This was a fight involving a lot of maneuvering by the ships, but at one point they became entangled and Marine musket fire had a telling effect. Of particular impact was the mortal wound to the British Captain, Captain Henry Lambert, inflicted by Sergeant Adrian Peters (or Peterson), firing from the main fighting top, seventy-five feet above the action. The senior surviving officer was unable to regain the initiative and Java became Constitution’s second wartime victim. U.S. Marine casualties in this fight were Private Thomas Hanson killed, and Privates Michael Chesley, John Elwell, and Anthony Reeves wounded. All but Reeves are known to have been stationed in the main fighting top, so there must have been an awesome fire fight high in the rigging.
Constitution’s third and final fight of the War of 1812 occurred on 20 February 1815, when she defeated the British light frigate Cyane and the corvette Levant simultaneously in a night engagement. While the ships never came together as in the earlier duels, the Marines got in their licks when the distances came within a hundred yards. Paying the ultimate price for the American victory were Privates Antonio Farrow, William Horrell, and John Lancey, one-half of the American deaths on this occasion. The officer in charge at this time was Captain Archibald Henderson, who would become the Corps’ fifth Commandant and hold the position for thirty-nine years! Marine Corps snipers and individual Marines are exceptional marksmen and keep in fighting fit all through their service in the use of side arms and long guns.
The Sailors and Marines of the USS Constitution were also Peacemakers by projecting their awesome force to distant lands. A decade later, Constitution was serving as flagship of the West African Squadron when, while visiting Monrovia, Liberia, Commodore Isaac Mayo was asked by local authorities to see if he could bring peace between the warring Barbo and Grebo tribes, some miles south of the capitol near the Cavally River. When his negotiator was threatened by the Barbos, Mayo decided to use force.
On 5 September 1853, a five-boat force loaded with armed Marines (led by Major N. S. Waldron) and sailors, and supported by a 12-pounder howitzer and Congreve rockets, made an amphibious assault. The destruction of a few huts by his bombardment convinced the Barbos to talk with the Grebos, who already had indicated a willingness to do so. Except for one native woman slightly wounded on the arm, there were no casualties. The talks were held on Constitution in the Commodore’s cabin, he and his officers in their gold lace finery and the tribal leaders in feathers and skins. The treaty was “signed” on 6 September. On 18 July 1854, a similar “palava” — without an assault first — brought peace to the Grahway and Half Cavally tribes, also in Liberia.
C. Operation Tomodachi is a more recent example of a highly risk laden mission of peace, and mercy that offered hope when there was no reasonable expectation of effective help, lit the lamp that dispelled the literal darkness that had enshrouded the people of Fukushima
Operation Tomodachi (トモダチ作戦 Tomodachi Sakusen? lit. "Operation Friend(s)") was a United States Armed Forces assistance operation to support Japan in disaster relief following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. The operation took place from 12 March to 4 May 2011; involved 24,000 U.S. service members, 189 aircraft, and 24 naval ships; and cost $90 million. All branches of the US Military served in this very dangerous and very crucial life-saving operation.
Many if not most of the U.S. military bases in Japan are involved in some manner in Operation Tomodachi.
Yokota Air Base in Fussa, western Tokyo, is the operational command center, and furthermore functions as the aviation hub due to the washout of the Sendai Airport by the tsunami. Kadena Air Base, Okinawa is the hub of airpower in the Pacific.
Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, operated as an aviation hub for many aircraft traveling to northern installations.
Misawa Air Base, Aomori, combined services and Japan Self-Defense Forces
Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture home of CVW-5 and Fleet Air Wing 4 of the JMSDF
Camp Zama is the home of U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward)
Sasebo Naval Base in Nagasaki Prefecture, USS Essex (LHD-2) and its Expeditionary Strike Group.
Yokosuka Naval Base inside of Tokyo Bay is home to the Seventh Fleet, composed of 11 warships, including USS George Washington (CV-73) and command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19).
Task Force Fuji, Camp Fuji Marines and sailors
Camp Courtney, Okinawa, operated as the communications post between Okinawa and Japanese mainland.
Mississippi and Alabama National Guard forces joined those from Kentucky and Guam to assist with Operation Tomodachi.
Japanese formed long human chains and in their quiet patient manner helped the rescue and relief efforts.
500,000 gallons of fresh water has been provided from the US Navy to support cooling efforts at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Marines based at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma moved command and control teams and systems to NAF Atsugi. Eight KC-130Js from VMGR-152 and eight CH-46E and four CH-53 Super Stallions transport helicopters from HMM-265, all from MCAS Futenma, were made available to transport rescue teams and equipment, as well as provide search and rescue.
The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit responded to Northern Japan from Malaysia and Indonesia, where the unit was conducting Theater Security Cooperation exercises. The 31st MEU delivered relief supplies to five cities, one island and one Japanese ship. More than 164,000 pounds of food and relief supplies were delivered, along with thousands of gallons of water. Elements of the 31st MEU, including Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 2nd Battalion 5th Marines went ashore on Oshima Island to deliver critical supplies and assist in debris removal.
MV Westpac Express, a civil-registered fast ferry chartered by the Marine Corps, was made available to transport equipment from Okinawa to Honshu. Westpac Express made two sorties in support of Operation Tomodachi. The ship moved 450 tons of cargo, including 7-ton trucks, fuel tankers, generators and water tanks from Okinawa to Iwakuni, Japan, arriving 15 March. On 20 March, Westpac Express loaded 226 pallets of bottled water at Pohang, ROK, off-loading at Iwakuni the next day.
This is illustrative of the selfless efforts made by many thousands of Americans for generations who were recruited for the highest order of service from every walk of life from Sea to shining Sea to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States in the course of their fearless and tireless efforts to accomplish their missions.
I close this tribute with these luminous and evocative words of Melanie:
“…We were so close, there was no room
We bled inside each other's wounds
We all had caught the same disease
And we all sang the songs of peace
Some came to sing, some came to pray
Some came to keep the dark away
So raise the candles high
'Cause if you don't we could stay black against the sky
Oh, raise them higher again
And if you do we could stay dry against the rain
Lay down, lay down
Lay it all down
Let your white birds smile up
At the ones who stand and frown
Lay down, lay down
Lay it all down…”
May God bless the five brothers in arms, their peers and their families and keep them in his loving embrace. I want to share this letter sent by President A. Lincoln to Mrs. Bixby who lost five of her sons during the course of the Civil. America, we have collectively lost five of our sons in the dastardly attack in Chattanooga, TN.
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.
“I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”
Yours, very sincerely and respectfully, A. Lincoln
These words fully and truly describe the thoughts and feelings of all those who are sharing the grief and sense of loss over these brutal terrorist attacks.
America, The Beautiful Lyrics
By Katharine Lee Bates – 1913
“…O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine!
O Beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!”
Velandy Manohar, MD