Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gone With the Wind and HotLANta

In Country With Uncle Vic - JULY 2014a (published 11/14)    By Vic Campbell .. Copyright 2014 
Atlanta Revives a Whole Book                 Gone With the Wind. Well, there is THAT!

photo album for this column
In July, I volunteered to take my wife’s uncle and aunt up to Atlanta so they could be present for a grandchild’s wedding and see another set of brand new twin grandchildren as well. They come from the greatest-generation (Jack is one of my favorite sailors), so I had no problem finding a way to give them a helping hand up there and back. I did this without taking Karen along. And she trusted me to do that. Amazing. .... ..... ...
CONTINUE THIS COLUMN AT .... THIS LINK A COMPLETE STORY is at this link in a format you can also print to share with non webbed friends.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

An Unsung Veteran

Lest We Forget ... The Chinese who joined our Navy  -- And fought as Americans
USS HOUSTON NEWSLETTER (the story of Ziang Fah Lien)
To a Special Veteran, My Dad:

In 1938, a month before I was born, you joined the navy aboard a heavy cruiser  Of and on, the ship cruised up and down the Chinese coast from Tsingtao to Hong Kong as the flag ship of the Asiatic Fleet of the US Navy, and you as a lowly steward - an Officer's "Boy".  

Then the war drums became louder, the ship retreated to the Philippines in 1941.  You joined many gallant sea battles: the Battle of the Flores Sea, the Battle of the Java Sea, and the Battle of the SundaStrait where the Imperial Japanese Navy wiped out the newly formed and the last remaining suicidal resistance mission of the combined Allied Navy known as ABDA:  American, British, Dutch, Australian.

You gave your life along with 700 of your 1065 shipmates and the ship on March 1, 1942;  to this day, you still stand watch over the ship where she  went down off the Coast of Batavia;  your remaining 380 or so shipmates became POWs to build the bridge over River Kwai in Burma, only about 280 returned home to tell their hellish ordeal in the POW camps three years later  Some never could !

Your destitute family didn't know your whereabouts for 4-5 years during which your wife and one daughter died.  We had yearned that you had survived the sinking and were hiding in the jungles of Java to avoid capture, as some Japanese soldiers did.  But that was not to be, for with your death came the Veterans' benefits for the family, among which was a $3,000 government-issued insurance policy in my name, payable in $3 monthly installments.

Thank you, Dad, for your sacrifice which changed our lives forever, and for thinking about us when you knew the risk when filling in the beneficiary names.  

For decades, not a Veterans' Day goes by without me shedding tears, and thanking you for your sacrifice.  I only hoped to be worthy of your sacrifice.   Others are more fortunate to have fathers, or their fathers' graves to kneel down at, to say a prayer and to offer their thanks, and to place some flowers.  

Your grave is the watery bearing of 7,000 miles away: Long. 107 07' 55" E;   Lat. 05 48'45" S over which one cannot place flowers!

Thank you, Dad, on Veterans' Day.

With love and gratitude;

From your remaining son  

Eric Lien

More Chinese Americans who served with the USS Houston and SURVIVED !  LINK ... see second photo down.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Marine Graduation at Parris Island

I thought it might be a good idea to add all the links to photo albums and video play lists that I created while enjoying the week at the Marine Corps Resort Destination at Parris Island. Karen and I and my brother, retired Navy Captain, Jim were there with friends, The Sewells (from Alabama). I cannot say enough about how great the week was. IF you EVER have a doubt that there are tremendously good and purposeful youth in America -- Just go visit Parris Island. Young Marines in the making.  It is a sight to see.
Here are the LINKS to my collections:

Video PLAY LIST for KILO Company - Graduation Week --

PHOTOS from Tuesday OCT 28
PHOTOS from Wednesday OCT 29
PHOTOS from Thursday OCT 30 (Family Day)
PHOTOS from Friday OCT 31 (Graduation Day)
ENJOY!  The photos are all in easily shareable file sizes. IF you want a copy of the large original file for a big print, let me know the number of the picture. I can email it to you. To Marine Families and Friends - All these photos are to be treated as "your family property". In other words, use them however you see fit. Download, print, repost -- whatever.  If you feel a need to give credit for the shots - you can say provided by, or Vic Campbell.  But you don't need to.

I will be adding some tips and suggestions for those going to future graduations below this line in a few days.   Places to eat. Things to see. Things to do. Things to buy. It was so much fun, I might ask Alex to do it again so we can have a repeat performance.  BUT .. He might have other ideas. Yes, I was in the Navy too. I left after 4 years as a LtJg. and was a Comm Officer for a destroyer in Vietnam. I was my discovery  that the Navy was a military organization that led me to embrace civilian life. I would have lasted about 46 minutes at Parris Island. My ship was USS O'Callahan (DE 1051) . While I was with the O'Callahan, Jim was a Navy Corpsman in Beufort, SC and served a lot of Marines there as an operating room technician. He stayed in the Navy Reserves and eventually retired after 40 years as an O-6 !  We got to revisit some of Jim's old haunts and the chapel where he and his wife were married. She was a Navy Dental Tech ! 


Here is what we did and some suggestions. Some of this involves strategic parking to reduce walking although there are trams which seem to work great.....

FAMILY day begins  about 10 am when they are released in a liberty ceremony in the all weather facility off to the right of the parade field.  So I suggest you have your car parked toward the back side of the parade field parking lot for that. Earlier you can walk to the coffee shop at the visitor center or the museum etc. Your marine may want to go to the museum too (below, I suggest doing this last so they will be close to their report location at the end of liberty) because often they have no clue the other stuff on the island.

AFTER the ceremony - good weather or bad - get to your car and drive to the LYCEUM  -- which is beyond the admin building ... where there will be inside LOTS of tables and lots of room and an uncrowded opportunity to EAT all you want from the buffet (your marine will like this) while you talk and visit as long as you want. The buffet LUNCH at the Lyceum was pay at the door and all you can eat. I think those were more like $12  each but the new marine free. It was an underused resource the day we went so it was away from the crowds and yet in nice relaxed setting and inside.

I think you need tickets for the EVENING command lyceum buffet DINNER ahead of time but there are no quotas. I think $20 each but awesome. Your marine's DI is likely to seek you out from the guest list and assigned tables (they have the list) and talk with you about your marine. They have become very well tuned to your marine's ways and abilities over the three months and you'll hear some great things. The earlier part of the dinner involves some orientation talks about the marines and some Q&A periods. Throughout some marines are stationed nearby your tables and are open to talk about just about whatever questions you have ... even their own career paths.

Parking at he lyceum itself might be tight but there are lots of spaces around other buildings nearby. We often parked in the back parking lot behind the admin building (tall flagpole).

After LYCEUM buffet LUNCH   - our marine needed to get to the MCX and buy up all the stuff he could not buy as a recruit. Us too. So we shopped for awhile there. Various challenge coins are good to get and we got some just to give to people (from Alex) in appreciation for support at home. Some more expensive ones were engraved and bought from one of the service companies online. I think we hit the museum AFTER the MCX so he would be close to report back in on time that afternoon.

I think Alex also got some candy at the MCX to take back to the barracks but the DIs made them eat up all their candy that night so none would be left. Good to ration that idea.

There are good out of weather places to visit ... The all weather facility remains open but it is just bleachers. The BUNKER - near the Museum is used by many but we did not use it since the lyceum served that time well. The visitor center has room in it and a coffee shop. the museum was crowded but Alex was glad he got to see inside it.

ARRIVE EARLY on grad day (0615 maybe) and park at the BACK of the parking lot. Makes it easy to get out  BUT maybe before that drive over to the admin building and park in the back for COLORS (in front of the building) at 0800.  Excellent ceremony and if you can tape the talk by the Command Sgt. Mjr. Hope it is the same guy.

You can take the tram to the colors ceremony and back also.

Wed, when we had the time, we went out to the end of the island to the golf club restaurant and ate. We then took a small road to an historic french fort near the tip of the island. It was a nice outing. I think we did that on Wednesday as we explored around the island.

I know your marine is happy to be done with the crucible. Alex said he kind of enjoyed it except he cracked a rib the first day. He told no one because if you are hurt and get set back it is not fun. By the end of the next week he was fine except for a persistent Recruit Crud cough -- from yelling for three months. The point here is if you can make it on a cracked rib - anybody can ... given the prior conditioning.

Why parking the back side of the parade field? Strategy allows you to move easily from one side of the base to the other on less trafficked roads on that side. After graduation, walk to your car at the back of the parking lot and the traffic will be mostly clear for you to the gate. Most marines are happy to get out the gate asap after graduation.  Alex changed in a service station bathroom about 20 miles out. Some people staying in local hotels -ask for a late release for their marine to change after the ceremony and it seems they are happy to do that.

Also -- for the MOTORUN ... You will get several passes as they run around and back.  We were tipped off to begin observing at the parking lot roadway that disects the parking lot between the parade field and the all weather facility. They begin near there and form up to run.  Get shots there. THEN move over to the main road near the IWO JIMA area and get shots going and coming down the main drag and then move BACK to the original parking lot position to get them on their last stretch of the public parade run route.