Saturday, November 05, 2005

Letter to the editor:

This is a nice letter and a timely reminder that we should remember on Veterans day how much we owe our veterans.

By David Heckman

Remember sacrifices of all our veterans

On Oct. 21. I had the privilege and the honor of leading a group of World War II veterans on board the USS Cobia at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. These veterans were members of the destroyer crew USS Murphy. They were in Sheboygan attending their ship’s reunion. The USS Murphy served both in the Atlantic and Pacific Theater during World War II. The Murphy took part in the D-Day landings of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

During their tour on board the Cobia, one of the Murphy’s crewmembers shared his experience of that day on June 6, 1944. He said, “I was top deck on the Murphy watching the landing operations. In the distance, I could see the ladders of the (Army) Rangers as they tried scaling the cliffs overlooking the beachhead. Every so often you could see a puff of white smoke as the Germans were dropping hand grenades on top of the Rangers as they were climbing up the ladders. ‘My God; they were just killing our boys.’ The Rangers were trying to get up those cliffs to knock out those big guns above the beaches. I’ve never forgotten that day,” he said. Tears were filling his eyes as he recalled the events he had witnessed that day.

A few hours later, I again had the privilege of leading two veterans on board the Cobia. One veteran served in both World War II and Korea, the other in Korea. I learned after the tour was over that this particular World War II veteran had served as a Corpsman/Medic on Iwo Jima. He was in the same company unit as John Bradley. John Bradley became part of history when he helped raise the flag in the most famous photograph (the raising of the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi) taken during World War II. John Bradley was from Wisconsin.

So why am I writing this. On Nov. 11, we will be observing Veterans Day. Please take time to remember all of our veterans. Tell them how much they are appreciated. Tell them that the sacrifices that they have made have not gone unnoticed – that as Americans we are forever in their debt.

We may not agree with everything our government does or who our leaders should be, but that’s okay. That is what freedom is about. Let us say thank you to all our veterans from World War I and II, to Korea, to Vietnam, to Gulf War I and now the present deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. We need to remember all our men and women who have served both in peace and in times of war. Their sacrifices are part of the reason this nation remains a great nation. Thank you for allowing me to share these thoughts with you.

David Heckman is a tour guide and member of the overnight staff of the USS Cobia

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