The Order That Inaugurated Memorial Day

Better late than sorry. Just found this in my archives.

Headquarters, Grand Army of the Republic

General Orders No.11, Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868

The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance.

All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing [it] to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.

By order of



Veterans Disability Review Board

Never in the history of the Veterans Administration have I seen them work so hard to get the proper benefits to all, even the ones that may have been missed on the first round. This is compliments of Catholic War Veterans.


Physical Disability Board of Review — Please give wide distribution.

Physical Disability Board of Review

The “Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors Act of 2008,” signed by President Bush on Jan. 28, 2008, provides veterans who served on acti9ve duty from Sept. 11, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2009, with an opportunity for review of disability ratings they were given which led to their discharged from the Armed Forces.
To be eligible for a Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) review, a veteran must have been medically separated during the above mentioned time frame, with a combined disability rating of 20 percent or less, and not have been found eligible for retirement. Over half of the cases that have been completed have been changed and have made those discharged improperly, now eligible for health care, and the ability to sign up for the Survivor Benefit Plan for their families without penalty.
For more information and how to apply contact the PDBR intake unit at the following address:
550 C Street West, Suite 41
Randolph AFB, TX 78150-4743
(News Briefs, NAUS Magazine, May/June 2011)

Memorial Day 101

I can’t speak to the accuracy of these numbers, but close enough for me…..

Subject: Vietnam Stats: have not seen these before
Date: Tue, 24  May 2011 13:31:27 -0500

Some stats I had not seen before.   Staggering.


There  are 58,267 names now listed on that polished black wall, including
those  added in 2010.

The names are arranged in the order in which they were  taken from us by date
and within each date the names are alphabetized.   It is hard to believe it is
36 years since the last  casualties.

Beginning at the apex on panel 1E and going out to the end of  the East wall,
appearing to recede into the earth (numbered 70E – May 25,  1968), then
resuming at the end of the West wall, as the wall emerges from  the earth
(numbered 70W – continuing May 25, 1968) and ending with a date in  1975. Thus
the war’s beginning and end meet.  The war is complete,  coming full circle,
yet broken by the earth that bounds the angle’s open side  and contained
within the earth itself.

The first known casualty was  Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth, Mass.
listed by the U.S. Department  of Defense as having been killed on June 8,

His name is listed  on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl.
Richard B.  Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.

There are three sets of  fathers and sons on the Wall.

39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or  younger.

The largest age group, 8,283 were just 19 years old

3,103  were 18 years old.

12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.

5  soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old.

One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was  15 years old.

997 soldiers were killed on their first day in  Vietnam.

1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in  Vietnan.

31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.

Thirty one sets of  parents lost two of their sons.

54 soldiers on the Wall attended Thomas  Edison High School in Philadelphia.
I wonder why so many from one  school.

8 Women are on the Wall.  Nursing the wounded.

244  soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War;  153  of
them are on the Wall.

Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475  lost 6 of her sons.

West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per  capita in the nation. There
are 711 West Virginians on the Wall.

The  Marines of Morenci – They led some of the scrappiest high school football
and  basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci (pop.
5,058)  had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring beer busts. In
quieter  moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, stalked deer in
the  Apache National Forest. And in the patriotic camaraderie typical of
Morenci’s  mining families, the nine graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a
group in  the Marine Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966.
Only 3  returned home.

The Buddies of Midvale – LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, Tom  Gonzales were all
boyhood friends and lived on three consecutive streets in  Midvale, Utah on
Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived only a few  yards apart. They
played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field. And they  all went to

In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967, all  three would be killed. LeRoy was
killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the fourth  anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s
assassination. Jimmy died less than 24 hours  later on Thanksgiving Day. Tom
was shot dead assaulting the enemy on Dec. 7,  Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

The most casualty deaths for a single day  was on January 31, 1968 ~ 245

The most casualty deaths for a  single month was May 1968 –  2,415 casualties
were  incurred.

That’s 2,415 dead in a single month.

A Don't Miss Memorial Day Event

WELCOME HOME! Community Event
Supporting our Veterans through Festivity & Camaraderie
MAY 28, 2011 5pm to 9pm @ University Blvd/4th Ave
Hosted by Trinity Presbyterian Church
400 E. University Blvd, Tucson AZ 85705
BBQ & Pies~Live Music~Comaraderie~Prizes
~Kids Activities~ Silent Auction
To benefit the non-profit organization, Comin’ Home,
and their veterans’ services and veterans’ housing fund.
In the fun and festive 4th Avenue area, come celebrate our veterans, active duty and military family members along with
various other veteran organizations and businesses who support our heroes. Enjoy BBQ vendors, pie & dessert vendors,
live music and guest speakers including State Senator Frank Antenori & City of Tucson Councilman Steve Kozachik!
“The importance of this event is shown by the fact that Dave Croteau of Veterans For Peace
and Arizona State Senator Frank Antenori (R-LD30),
while at different ends of the political spectrum, can come together to agree on taking care of
our veterans.” – Dave Ewoldt, Event Project Leader
MC – Comedian Walt Maxam
Music Lineup includes:
Brian Dean Trio
The Chet Gardiner Band
Pablo Perigrino and Friends

Memorial Day Weekend Community Event

Media Contact:

Jessica S. McDunn




East Lawn Palms Cemetery Hosts

Memorial Day Weekend Community Activities


TUCSON, Ariz. – (May 19, 2011) – In observance of Memorial Day, East Lawn Palms Cemetery will host a weekend of activities May 28-30, at the cemetery, 5801 East Grant Road in Tucson. The events are free and open to the public. Call 520-886-5561 for more information.


The activities for the weekend include:

  • From May 28-30, the Vietnam Veterans of America Tucson Chapter 106 will display Vietnam memorabilia in a Memorial Museum.


  • From 7 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 28, the Boy Scouts from the Papago Chapter Order of the Arrow will place flags on veterans’ graves along with various Veteran organizations.


  • At 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 29, the cemetery will provide candles for a candlelight service.


  • Beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 30, the VFW Post 4903 will conduct a Memorial Day ceremony featuring guest speaker U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Vincent J. Hnat, music by Sons of Orpheus and presentation of colors by the Tucson Fire Department. Flyover courtesy of the Arizona Air National Guard 162nd Fighter Wing.


East Lawn Palms Cemetery is a proud Dignity Memorial® provider in Tucson. The Dignity Memorial network of providers has several initiatives to honor and support our nation’s veterans and active military. The initiatives and programs include the Veterans Planning Guide, the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall, the Dignity Memorial Forgotten Veterans Burial Program, educational veterans seminars and special pricing for members of veterans service organizations.


The Dignity Memorial network of more than 1,800 funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers is North America’s most trusted resource for funeral and memorialization services. Dignity Memorial providers offer an unmatched combination of products and locations serving families with care, integrity, respect and service excellence. For more information, visit

Requiem For The Huey

This speech was forwarded by my pal Col. Joe Abodeely a Company Commander of a Combat Unit with 1st Air Cavalry in Vietnam. Joe is also the Chairman of Board of the Arizona Military Museum.

Short of  the literary talent of the likes of Walt Whitman, I am not sure I can capture the near totem worship that came with the arrival of a Huey on our stage of daily battle. For us grunts in the bush it meant food, ammo, medical support, guns, power, salvation, evacuation, hope. The Huey was our trump card….or so we thought. As Col. Joe so aptly states, “it was our umbilical cord to the non-hostile place, we called the World.”

The speech follows in full.


This is the speech given at Ft Rucker when they retired the last Huey:

CW4  Lawrence Castagneto, 17 May 2011
“Thank you Sir”
As a Vietnam Veteran Army Aviator, I would like to thank everyone for coming to this special occasion, on this to be honest…very sad day, the end of a era. An era that has spanned over 50 years. The retirement of this grand old lady “OUR MOTHER” … the Huey.
I would like to thank, MG Crutchfield for allowing me to speak at this event and try to convey in my own inadequate, meager way.. what this aircraft means to me and so many other Vietnam veterans.
First a few facts:
It was 48 yrs ago this month that the first Huey arrived in Vietnam with
units that were to become part of the 145th and the 13th Combat Aviation
Battalions; both units assigned here at Ft Rucker today. While in Vietnam,
the Huey flew approximately 7,457,000 combat assault sorties; 3,952,000
attack or gunship sorties and 3,548,000 cargo supply sorties. That comes to
over 15 million sorties flown over the paddies and jungles of Nam, not to
include the millions of sorties flown all over the world and other combat
zones since then ….what a amazing journey…. I am honored and humbled to have been a small part of that journey.
To those in the crowd that have had the honor to fly, crew, or ride this
magnificent machine in combat, we are the chosen few, the lucky ones. They understand what this aircraft means, and how hard it is for me to describe my feelings about her as a Vietnam combat pilot…. for she is alive… has
a life of her own, and has been a life long friend.
How do I break down in a few minutes a 42 year love affair, she is as much a part of me, and to so many others,,,as the blood that flows through our
veins. Try to imagine all those touched over the years …by the shadow of
her blades.
Other aircraft can fly overhead and some will look up and some may not; or even recognize what they see but, when a Huey flies over everyone looks up and everyone knows who she is… young or old all over the world she connects with all.
To those that rode her into combat… the sound of those blades causes our
heart beat to rise… and breaths to quicken… in anticipation of seeing
that beautiful machine fly overhead and the feeling of comfort she brings.
No other aircraft in the history of aviation evokes the emotional response
the Huey does… combat veteran’s or not… she is recognized all around the
world by young and old, she is the ICON of the Vietnam war, U.S. Army
Aviation, and the U.S. Army. Over 5 decades of service she carried Army
Aviation on her back, from bird dogs and piston powered helicopters with a
secondary support mission, to the force multiplier combat arm that Army
Aviation is today.
Even the young aviators of today, that are mainly Apache pilot’s, Blackhawk pilot’s, etc., that have had a chance to fly her will tell you there is no greater feeling, honor, or thrill then to be blessed with the opportunity to ride her thru the sky… they may love there Apaches and Blackhawks, but
they will say there is no aircraft like flying the Huey ” it is special”.
There are two kinds of helicopter pilots: those that have flown the Huey and those that wish they could have.
The intense feelings generated for this aircraft are not just from the
flight crews but, also from those who rode in back …into and out of the
“devils caldron”. As paraphrased here from “Gods own lunatics”, Joe
Galloway’s tribute to the Huey and her flight crews and other Infantry
veterans comments:
Is there anyone here today who does not thrill to the sound of those Huey
blades?? That familiar whop-whop-whop is the soundtrack of our war…the
lullaby of our younger days it is burned in to our brains and our hearts. To
those who spent their time in Nam as a grunt, know that noise was always a
great comfort… Even today when I hear it, I stop…catch my breath…and
search the sky for a glimpse of the mighty eagle.
To the pilots and crews of that wonderful machine …we loved you, we loved that machine.
No matter how bad things were…if we called … you came… down through
the hail of green tracers and other visible signs of a real bad day off to a
bad start. I can still hear the sound of those blades churning the fiery
sky ….To us you seemed beyond brave and fearless… Down you would come to us in the middle of battle in those flimsy thin skin -chariots …into the storm of fire and hell,..
…we feared for you, we were awed by you. We thought of you and that
beautiful bird as ” God’s own lunatics”… and wondered …who are theses
men and this machine and where do they come from …… Have to be “Gods
So with that I say to her, that beautiful lady sitting out there, from me
and all my lucky brothers, that were given the honor to serve their country,
and the privilege of flying this great lady in skies of Vietnam – Thank you
for the memories…Thank you for always being there…Thank you for always bringing us home regardless of how beat up and shot up you were…, Thank You!!!!.
You will never be forgotten, we loved you then….. we love you now… and
will love you till our last breath …
And as the sun sets today, if you listen quietly and closely you will hear
that faint wop wop wop of our mother speaking to all her children past and
present who rode her into history in a blaze of glory …she will be saying
to them: I am here… I will always be here with you.
I am at peace and so should you be … and so should you be.


Are Expectations For VA Mental Health Care Achievable?

Recently a federal appeals court scolded the Veterans Administration for failing to care for the returning veterans who are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder at alarming rates that are not leveling, even with all the Outreach programs.

The U.S 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stated in a 2-1 ruling that the delays are so “egregious” that they “violate a veterans constitutional rights.”

I do not see it that way. There is little doubt that the approximately 6500 suicides a year must be addressed with urgency and budget allocations. Yet I do not see that it is the sole job of the VA to ameliorate a seeming intractable problem that is owned by the entire war making machine.

The data is showing that an average of 18 returning Armed Service members commit suicide each day.  Most folks cannot even allow this to seep into their own activities of daily living, let alone a national psyche.

The genesis of the problem is not the VA. While the Courts tried to no avail to get the VA to “work faster” in providing mental health care, I do not see how one provides “fast” mental health care.  And I do not quite grasp what the fraternal veterans organizations that filed suit two years ago are going to achieve with more pressure piled on a system that is already maxed with personnel shortages and adequately trained staff that can deal with PTSD.

PTSD is not like the flu. This syndrome begs for a degree of bonding between the therapist and client that does not suit itself to “fast” therapy.  If the ruling from Judge Steven Reinhardt and Judge Procter Hug is intended to speed up the disability claim process, I am on their side.  If the intent is to speed up mental health care, I am in opposition. Insensitive “check list” therapy can well be the cause of suicides. Many of the staff Psychiatrists and Psychologists in the nations VA Mental Health clinics have resigned prematurely and in quiet protest over the mandated 45 minutes allowed with each veteran. The VA monitors the time spent with each suffering soul. Time In, Time Out. I suggest that herein lies some of the problem with suicide prevention programs.

The slam bam thank you mam atmosphere that is created in a crisis of care and with political voyeurs looking on for their own gain of popularity is part of the zeitgeist that exacerbates the problem. This decision by the 9th Court is like sending a pregnant woman to Weight Wathchers.

The ruling goes on to state, “the VA’s unchecked incompetence has gone on long enough; no more veterans should be compelled to agonize or perish while the government fails to perfom its obligations.”    Might I simply transpose that sentence to state that the incompetence of corporate America to take up the mantle of responsibility, in the context of ungodly war profiteering, and provide the funding for private sector outreach clinics in every neighborhood and library in America.

Where is the chorus of Tea Party patriots on this, “support the troops,” issue?  Michele Bachman wants the Government out of our daily lives.  Does she have a non-federalist solution to this epidemic?

The dissenting Judge Kozinski stated, “much as the VA’s failure to meet the needs of returning veterans with PTSD  might shock and outrage us, we may not step in and boss it around.”   Why are we as a nation not shocked and outraged at the 4 and 5 tours these troops are serving? Never since the days of Continental Army have our combatants served 5 tours in defense of the country.  The Department of Defense in its back door draft, coupled with the intense ongoing need to provide bodies for the war on terror, have created a hybrid human being that is not amenable to “speeded up,” treatment regimens.

With all of the siren cries for more private sector involvement in the operation of our government, how about some tax breaks for the Halliburton Suicide Prevention Centers? Or the Blackwater Center For Transition Warriors.  They are making hundreds of millions of dollars on the backs of these suicides. This is not the VA’s problem. They are not the sole culpable party. War has many accomplices. Most as unseen as the interiority of  PTSD itself. Lets bring them into the light with some  fiscal responsibility for a ten year long war, that is not ending soon. Maybe even a few of the Swiss bank accounts for offshore corporations could be tapped when Johnnie comes marching home.

When Veterans For Common Sense and Veterans United For Truth filed suit four years ago alleging systematic failures in the processing of disability claims, they were on track. Like I said earlier, if the focus is the processing of claims, they have my undying support. I was a volunteer Veteran Service Officer, and know well the ramifications of the delays and the the unbearable burden of the soldier and their families.  The Mental Health Stategic Plan that was submitted in 2004,(seven more years of war have passed), mandated deadlines for treatment requests and benefit claims.  General Shinseki was not the head of the VA then. Those mandates have taken root.

I return to my thesis. The co-mingling of  mental health treatment and the claims process is not good problem solving.

Since the presidency of Abraham Lincoln we have afforded the legal guarantee to veterans that they will receive treatment for war wounds. Why does all that treatment have to be conducted on the grounds of  Veterans Administration? If we can farm out the work of private mercenaries, why not dole out some cotracts for mental health care?

There are 25 million veterans in the United States. 1.8 million have served in Iraq or Afghanistan in the last 11 years. And the show ain’t over. The Rand Institute study that was competed in 2008 estimated that 300,000 plus returning veterans suffer from PTSD. Think that is a big enough risk pool for a private contractor? Throw in the residual Vietnam Veterans and the lingering population of Korean War veterans who are still under Doctors orders and you have a business plan.

I travel alot. I have visited many VA Hospitals and Vet Centers. I do not see an open wound in the offering of mental health care in these facilities. Is it possible that this crisis of care is arranged so as to privatize?  Naomi Klein’s theory in her book, “The Shock Doctrine,” may apply.

Concussions, Mild Brain Injury May Land You A Purple Heart

Since the Trojan Wars soldiers have been getting clocked in combat. I suspect that thousands of the men who fought in the trenches in World War l and ll were knocked silly with blast injuries from which they never recovered nor were ever known for the permanent damage done to the neurological system.

If Grampa sat in his rocking chair a bit long, sipping whiskey and staring into space, he was very likely the victim of a serious concussion.

Now, both the Army and Marine Corps have adopted criteria to give consideration for the awarding of a  Purple Heart if a soldier/Marine experience a concussion on the battlefield.

Mild traumatic brain injuries caused by a blast or blow to the head can now qualify for a Purple Heart if the Medical Officer in charge determines that the combatant is not fit for duty for more than 48 hours as a result of lingering symptoms. The decision must be made withing seven days of the battlefield occurrence.

The Marine Corps announced the criteria in Marine Administrative Message 245/11 on April 15th. The revised memorandum states that no longer is a loss of consciousness the sole criteria.

This change is retroactive to the beginning of the Global War on Terrorism that began on September 11.2001

Marines, including veterans, whose medical records show that a prior mild traumatic brain injury was caused by enemy action since September 11, 2001 may submit a claim via the administrative chain of command.

The award criteria can be found at “ “

Submit your request to “Commandant of the Marine Corps (MMMA) Headquarters Marine Corps, 3280 Russel Road, Quantico, Va. 22134-5103

Members of the U.S. Army  can call 888-276-9472

The advances that have been made by way of military medicine are stunning. This decision to award a Purple Heart for TBI is the right thing to do, as the complications from head injuries are for life and often much more intrusive than a scar from a bullet or shrapnel.

I know, I had two of them, and always felt sad and a bit isolated by the fact that my injuries never seemed to count, even though I have been compromised by them for 42 years.

VA Disability Claims and Bin Laden

Bin Laden has been killed by American assets. It has a nice ring to it. The bells of justice are tolling for thee. It is a damn good thing we killed him, otherwise our current Attorney General would have tried him in traffic court.

So now who gets his bank accounts? Cannot some odd brand of RICO seize them and give the money to the VA to treat our disabled soldiers? I am serious. Why not? Seized drug money buys all kinds of collateral junk for law enforcement. Why not locate those accounts and apply it directly to the backlog of disability claims that are rolling in at a rate  twice as high as last year?

The number of claims that take more than 125 days to rule on have blossomed from 200,000 to 450.000 according to VA officials. Many veterans are not employed due to their physical service connected disabilities.   The VA also states that the complexity of the claims is slowing down the process. Add to that the declaration from the VA boss;  retired General Shinseki, that we are going to handle and care for the Agent Orange victims of Vietnam, “once and for all,” and you have a real administrative mountain to climb.

Many complain that the waiting time will expand from six to eight months next year.

I take issue with this complaint and lend my support to the Veteran Administration’s unprecedented workload by using my own claim and that of my brothers as a benchmark. It was only 5 years ago that many were waiting a bare minimum of two years, and that was after your paper work was in order. Some were as long as 5-7 years. I say the VA is dancing as fast as they can.

The total number of pending claims for compensation has jumped from last April to 756,ooo this month. The VA added  3000 rating officers and staff to the existing 14,000. Given that these claims are lifetime awards, they require immense due diligence and a standard of care that is not easy nor quick to train.  Who planned for 13 years of war? Or better yet, how do you plan for 13 years of war?

But I digress. Bin Laden is dead, but his bank accounts are alive. How do we get our hands on them? Some more Special Forces? Lets get the loot and use it for the veterans of war who lost their lives looking for the him.