“Linking …..the past to the present”

May 31, 2007

PFC Jerry Wayne Gentry of B Troop, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry. Vietnam Hero’s family finally honoured.

Jerry Wayne Gentry honored with memorial in Cartersville

Rebecca Long
Staff Writer
Published May 24, 2007 11:23 PM CDT

Hero was a word that people who attended a memorial dedication ceremony Thursday for U.S. Army Pfc. Jerry Wayne Gentry heard quite often to describe the fourth of the 15 Bartow County residents to be killed in action during the Vietnam War.

The crowd of veterans, family members, friends, classmates and elected officials sat in the warm May sun to hear the stories of those who served with Gentry, who was killed in action Nov. 9, 1967. Gentry is the 21st Georgia veteran to be recognized by the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association, which honors one of the Atlanta area’s 418 veterans killed in action in Vietnam. The event featured personal accounts of those who served with Gentry and a dedication of a new memorial in his honor.

“Over 58,200 men and women were killed, but today’s ceremony is about one man — Jerry Wayne Gentry,” said Bryan Tate, chairman of the AVVBA. “Yes, it happened 40 years ago, but it is still fitting.”

Gentry was described by many as a quiet man and a good friend to all.

Johnny Roberson, a Bartow County resident and Vietnam veteran, said Gentry was “just like the man in the photograph. No matter what was asked of him, he just smiled.”

That is how many of those gathered remembered the 1965 Cassville High School graduate, who seemed to have an abundance of friends and supporters. As members of the Albany Marine Band played patriotic selections, the old friends greeted each other on the plaza steps, remembering with laughter and tears the days they had shared with him.

“He was hard to get to talk,” said one classmate who had sat behind him in an English class. “But once you did, you were in for a treat. He saw everything and knew everything. He could tell the best stories.”

Around 40 members of Gentry’s graduating class attended the event, wearing blue and gold ribbons. Many of the members of the class said class members were still extremely close, having lost more than one member to the war. The class, according to one of the women there, was and still is proud of all their war heroes. (source)

And Deb Tainsh (Gold Star Mother of Patrick Tainsh) who was there, wrote the following:

Linking Gold Star Families Past to Present

Deborah Tainsh, May 31, 2007

From Cartersville, Georgia, PFC Jerry Wayne Gentry of B Troop, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry, the only uninjured member of his crew, in the face of enemy fire and with complete disregard for his own safety, aided his wounded comrades by carrying them to safety. Then with that which only a soldier is driven, he attempted to mount a vehicle and return fire to the enemy only to be mortally wounded and posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his gallantry and unselfish devotion to duty.

Forty years after twenty year old PFC Gentry’s gallantry on November 9, 1967, west of the city of Que Son in South Vietnam, I was privileged to meet Mrs. Doris Gentry, Jerry’s mother, a mother who had never received her Gold Star service flag; that is until this special day, May 24, 2007.

With her soft white hair gleaning in the sun as did her gentle face and smile, this petite mom still appeared strong as her two surviving daughters, other family members and several hundred strangers surrounded her. An occasion that would never have occurred without the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association whose mission statement is to promote patriotism and sponsor activities of a patriotic nature among the business community, to recognize those who served and honor those who gave their lives in the Vietnam war; to promote the positive image of the Vietnam veteran, their dependents and the widows and orphans of deceased Vietnam veterans.

Each year since 1987 this organization of great Americans has honored Georgia fallen Vietnam heroes and their families by dedicating memorial sights throughout Atlanta and the surrounding area. The 2007 dedication in memory of PFC Gentry was held at Friendship Plaza, downtown Cartersville, Gentry’s hometown where his mom still resides.

In this quaint patriotic community the train still roars through several times each day and beside the train depot stands a cut stone etched with a flag, eagle, and the words God Bless America, In memory of those who serve and protect our country. Near these words Mrs. Gentry, family, and guests sat facing the speaker’s stage and the Albany Marine Band from Marine Corp Logistics Base, Albany, Georgia and the presentation of colors by members of 1st Bn, 108th Armor 121st Infantry Division, Georgia National Guard.

After a patriotic concert and opening statements by Cary King, President of AVVBA, comrades from other states who served with and were with Gentry the night he died, but who had never met or spoken with his family, shared their emotional and heart spoken memories, an exercise that the veterans and family said brought a sense of release for them.

To the side of the stage sat a group of Gold Star moms from across Georgia who had also experienced the death of a child in service to our nation in past and present wars. I sat with two of my peers, Jan Johnson, mom of U.S. Army Specialist Justin Johnson who gave his life in Iraq, April 2004, and Stacey Holley, mom of U.S. Army Specialist Matthew Holley who gave his life, November, 2005.

After the dedication of the memorial monument now at Friendship Plaza in Cartersville, standing below the speaker’s stage, Jan held a Gold Star Service Flag and Stacey held a Gold Star lapel pin as I stood at the podium and read these words:

Mrs. Gentry, in honor of your son and hero, U.S. Army PFC Jerry Wayne Gentry, we Gold Star mothers of this new century and new generation want to present you with this Gold Star Flag, the service flag created during WWI for families to hang in their homes in honor of loved ones killed while in service to our great country.

As stated in the history of the national organization of American Gold Star Mothers, Incorporated January 5, 1929:

“We stand tall and proud by honoring our children, assisting our veterans, supporting our nation, and healing with each other.”

And as stated in the preamble to Public Resolution 123, 74th Congress, June 23, 1936

“The American mother does much for the home and the moral and spiritual uplifting of the people of the United States, does good for government and humanity, and the American Gold Star Mothers have suffered the supreme sacrifice of motherhood in the loss of their sons and daughters…”

Mrs. Gentry, we Gold Star Mothers of today know the depths of your broken heart and the scar that forever remains. And we are honored to stand in support of you today with pride and thanks to you for your supreme sacrifice made in 1967 on behalf of our great country.

Please accept our condolences regarding the death of your son. We now present you with this service flag which holds the blue star that represents hope and pride and the gold star that represents liberty and freedom.

We will never forget your son and hero, PFC Jerry Wayne Gentry. We will never forget you.

Jan and Stacy then presented the flag and pin to this Vietnam war mom who for forty years believed she, her son, and family had been forgotten; a mom and family that wasn’t sure at first about accepting to have their fallen hero and family honored by the AVVBA; a mom with other children who had never experienced the support of peers as they lived their own “hell.” A mom who said through tears, “I always saw blue and gold star flags in homes during WWII when my daddy served. I always wondered why I never had one during Vietnam.”

Then with smiles and tears of gratitude, Mrs. Gentry and family accepted the hugs, love, care, monument, and service flag they had deserved since November 9, 1967. They knew, finally and for sure, that they were no longer alone, thanks to these brave heroes from another era who have felt let down and unappreciated, but who found the strength to carry the flag and memory of their comrades forward.

The Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association provided a gift greater than they will ever comprehend as they have now linked the past to the present. And together we moms, dads, and other family members will continue the journey of healing and carrying forward the flag, honor, and love for our children, their comrades, the fallen, wounded, and those heroes continuing to serve this nation on our behalf. May our past and present always remain linked, and may no family ever be forgotten.

PFC Jerry Wayne Gentry: Thank you for your service. Mrs Gentry, to echo Deb Tainsh: NO! We will never forget.

An Open Letter To Politicians On Both Sides Of The Aisle

May 31, 2007

I received this letter from one of the Soldier’s that we’ve featured here at ASM in the past. His letter, speaks eloquently of the frustration that our Troops in harms way are feeling when they are constantly barraged with the news coverage of the political posturing that constantly is occurring in Washington D.C. I can fully appreciate and understand his frustration and the frustration of the many men and women serving in our Nation’s Armed Forces. This is a letter which needs to be read by every single one of the Politicians currently sitting on their “thrones” in Washington D.C., not caring that their political posturing gravely affects the lives of the men and women so proudly and valiantly serving our Country. I say that, because quite honestly, I don’t think the Politicians, really care about how their decisions and political posturing affects not only our Troops, but each and every one of us. I honestly don’t think they care about much of anything, as long as they can maintain their “political power base” and continue to line their pockets with our hard earned tax dollars. I think that many of you will agree, after reading this letter.

To the Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen of both sides of the aisle:

I have watched and listened to your political posturing and fighting, and have tolerated it up until now, but I find myself increasingly unable to let those things slide and find myself drawn to speak out, especially in light of the recent Memorial Day holiday.

To those profess to be opposed to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan:

I will not speak as to whether it is correct or right for us to be in those places, or any other for that matter. Instead, I will address my opinions on your actions regarding the conduct of those missions and your support (or lack thereof) for them. If, as you profess, you truly believe that we shouldn’t be in those countries, if you believe, as you state repeatedly on the media, THEN YOU ARE FAILING YOUR PRINCIPLES AND YOUR CONSTITUENTS. If you believe that Soldiers are dying needlessly, as you’re so fond of saying to all that will listen, WHY ARE YOU ALLOWING IT TO CONTINUE? If you TRULY believe that things are hopeless, that we cannot win, that we must withdraw, then every second you delay that SOLDIERS ARE DYING and you do nothing about it. Each second you waste with useless posturing and toothless bills and motions merely delays any productive change, and SOLDIERS DIE while you plan your next soundbite for CNN. If you SINCERELY believe that Soldiers are dying needlessly, WHY DO YOU REFUSE TO TAKE THE NECESSARY STEPS TO STOP IT? If, on the other hand, as I suspect, you are merely using the deaths of American patriots to fuel your political machinery then you are, without a doubt, the most vile of opportunists, and should not only be censured for your actions, but should forfeit your place within the governmental workings of the land those Soldiers died to protect.

To those who profess to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:

If you support the troops, then SUPPORT THE TROOPS. Quit the political in-fighting, work together, and give the troops the adequate and necessary funding and support they require. Don’t back down from the assaults of the far side of the aisle, FIGHT FOR THE TROOPS TOOTH AND NAIL as they fight for you in a far off place. DON’T LET THEIR DEATHS BE IN VAIN. If you support the mission, then you MUST SUPPORT THE TROOPS, and in no way should you allow the POLITICIZING OF THEIR DEATHS, using their deaths as a statistic being used to push for the end of the mission and the removal of the troops. If you believe their deaths serve a purpose, if you believe the Soldiers serving overseas are doing the right thing, then HOW CAN YOU LET OTHERS BELITTLE THEIR MISSION AND CALL FOR THEIR RETURN BEFORE THE MISSION IS OVER? Support the Troops, Support the Mission.

Either way, to both sides of the aisle: CHOOSE YOUR SIDE AND HAVE THE INTESTINAL FORTITUDE TO FIGHT FOR IT. Don’t let our brave men and women die overseas because you’re too cowardly to fight for them as you see fit.

- A Tired Combat Veteran

Bob on the F.O.B.: CAB Chaser

May 30, 2007

Well folks, unfortunately this is the last in the Bob on the FOB series.  So, until SGT Merrifield releases more, you’ll just have to review the archives.  It has truly been an honor to feature his work and I will eagerly await any of his future works.

Iraq and US Forces Free Kidnapped & Tortured Iraqis

May 30, 2007

Below is yet another example of how the Iraqi citizens are tiring of the threats and violence from insurgents and al-Qaeda in their communities and cooperating with Coalition Forces, by providing valuable information. If not for a concerned citizen, these 42 men who had been kidnapped and tortured by al-Qaeda would not have been rescued and may have soon been killed. This is yet another example of the positive things our troops are doing in Iraq.

Working together, Soldier’s from the 5th Iraqi Army Division and US Soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division rescued 42 men who had been held captive by al-Qaeda. Some claimed to have been held for as long as four months. The freeing of the 42 kidnapped men occurred during a raid which was based on a tip from a local citizen and occurred at an al-Qaeda hideout 6 miles South of Baquba on Sunday.

The kidnap victims were found in a small concrete and mud compound and were sleeping in cramped rooms on dirty blankets and pillows. There was rotting food inside and outside of the building. There was evidence that the men had been tortured and some had broken bones as a result of the torture. All were transported to a nearby combat outpost for medical evaluation, provided fresh food and water and questioned about their abductors.

“This is one more example of how al-Qaeda treats the citizens of Iraq - and we mean ALL the citizens, not based along sectarian lines or any other lines,” said US Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman. “This is another example of why we must win this fight against al-Qaeda.”

Multi-National Forces-Iraq

AT&T Teams Up With Cell Phones For Soldiers

May 29, 2007

AT&T is launching yet another project in support of our Troops. AT&T has a long-standing history of supporting the Troops. For more than 85 years AT&T has been dedicated to supporting active duty military personnel, their families and veterans through various charitable contributions, events and sponsorship of programs. AT&T also hires Veterans and supports reservists in their employ, as well as providing phone services at bases around the World. It’s always heartwarming to see large corporations showing their pride and dedication to the men and women serving in our Armed Forces.

AT&T as part of their continued committment to and gratitude for the sacrifices that members of the Military make daily for the Nation, have taken yet another step in supporting our Troops by teaming up with the non-profit organization Cell Phones For Soldiers. Cell Phones For Soldiers was founded in 2004 by two siblings from Massassachusetts, 16 year old Brittany Bergquist and her 15 year old Robbie, who collect used cell phones and recycle them to purchase prepaid phone cards for active duty Military members, to help them remain connected to their families during deployments.

In support of this program, AT&T has donated 10,000 pre-paid phone cards, so that Brittany and Robbie can send more cards to military members. Additionally AT&T and it’s partner Cingular, will designate select Cingular store locations around the country, as drop-off sites to collect used cell phones for the program by July 4th. The kickoff of this new AT&T venture began on Thursday May 24th in the Northeast, beginning in Boston, New York, Washington DC and Philadelphia. For more information on the program, or to participate in the program, please visit AT&T

Plans For Vietnam Memorial Center Announced

May 29, 2007

Plans have been unveiled for the new Vietnam Memorial Center which will be an underground center located on the National Mall near the Vietnam Memorial Wall. The plans were unveiled in a news conference on May 23rd by the designer of the project, Ralph Appelbaum. I am really interested is seeing the progress of this new Memorial Center. Our Vietnam Vets, as we’re all aware, have for many years been treated poorly and I feel that this is one way to provide a small token of Thanks for their selfless service and sacrifices.

“The center will be a place that reveals the human dimension of the war and honors the value of service and the bonds of loyalty and friendship,” Mr. Applebaum said. “It will allow a new generation of visitors to better understand the human experience of war and the web of lives affected.”

“This is the logical next evolution of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial experience and I am enthusiastic to be part of the campaign to bring it to life,” said retired General Barry McCaffrey, who chairs the advisory board of veterans, authors, historians and educators who advise the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund officials on the exhibits.

According to Mr. Applebaum, the goals of the center are to enhance the memorial experience, honor the fallen, put faces to names of those who are memorialized on the Wall and encourage young visitors to learn more. He went on to explain that the plans for the Memorial Center were born from listening to Vietnam Veterans and learning and researching about the Vietnam War. This resulted in a clear concept for the center.

The Vietnam Memorial Center will include exhibits that display
photos of the fallen warriors, along with letters and other remembrances for each individual. There will also be an exhibit which displays values
; respect, loyalty, courage, duty, service, honor and integrity, along with excerpts of letters from the fallen warriors that convey each concept. There is a planned artifact collection, of items that have been left at the Vietnam Wall in honor of the fallen warriors. A timeline chronology of the war and key actions, history of the memorial, resource center where visitors can access additonal information and a legacy of service section which provides a visual connection to those who served in Vietnam and all Americans who have served, past, and present.

“The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center will be a place that touches the heart and teaches the mind, enhancing the memorial experience for people of all ages and walks of life, taking them on a journey through layers of storytelling and history,” said Harry Robinson, a board member of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund who also spoke at the news conference on May 23rd.


Update on 875th Engineer Battalion

May 28, 2007

On March 25th, I posted a story called Clearing Routes… Saving Lives about the Soldier’s in the Arkansas National Guard 875th Engineer Battalion and the importance of their job in ensuring that roads were safe for other troops to travel. I just received word today, that one of the Soldier’s mentioned in the story, SPC Erich Smallwood, was killed by an IED on May 26th. Please keep the family and friends of SPC Smallwood in your thoughts and prayers.

Below is a link to the local story about SPC Smallwood.

Memorial Day… Remembering Those Who Paid The Ultimate Sacrifice

May 28, 2007

Today is Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a day of rememberance. A day to honor and remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our Nation. A day to pay tribute and show our appreciation for those who have fallen in the name of Freedom. Many of our children have no idea what Memorial Day is about. Instead they look forward to the weekend as nearing the end of their school year, a family barbecue, going to the lake, parties and aren’t aware of how Memorial Day came about or what it means. I’m going to post 2 songs here for you to listen to, as I feel that they are very fitting and appropriate for Memorial Day.


Today, the traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years with many Americans forgotting the meaning and traditions surrounding this special day of observance. In many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are often ignored and neglected. Many think that Memorial Day is a day to honor all dead and not just those who have fallen in service to our Country. Many look upon Memorial Day weekend, as the kickoff to their summer. They look on it as the first weekend that they take out their boats, head to the lake, get together with friends… yet not taking the time to remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. A sacrifice which allows them to continue to have these freedoms.

Memorial Day History

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, who was the National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. The first observance of Memorial Day was on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize Memorial Day was New York in 1873 and by 1890 it was recognized in all of the Northern States.

Initially the South refused to recognize Memorial Day and chose instead to honor their dead on other days, until after World War I, when it changed from just honoring the Civil War dead, to honoring those who died fighting in any war. Memorial Day is now celebrated in every State on the last Monday in May. In 1971 Congress passed the National Holiday Act to ensure a 3 day weekend for Federal Holidays.

Because of the fact that many Americans have forgotten what Memorial Day is about, the National Moment of Rememberance resolution was passed in December 2000, which asks that at 3pm on Memorial Day, that ALL Americans voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of rememberance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or by listening to Taps. This Moment of Rememberance is a step in the right direction. However, America has a long way to go, to get back to the full intention of the original Memorial Day. A day set aside out of the year to get together with others and remember, reflect and honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and given their all in service to our Country.

I challenge each of our readers, to take the time on Memorial Day to remember and honor our fallen servicemembers. To pay respect to them and remember the sacrifices that they have each made for our Country. Take a moment from your busy weekend, go to your local cemetery and pay respects to the fallen warriors. Attend a memorial service in honor of our fallen warriors. Do something to pay honor, respect and tribute to our fallen warriors. Teach your children the history of Memorial Day and teach them to honor our fallen heroes. They are the reason that we are able to enjoy so many things that we take for granted. They are the reason that we’re able to speak our mind, live our lives in freedom and enjoy the way of life that we do. They deserve to have this day to honor them. Memorial Day is for THEM. While we go about our day today, let us never forget the sacrifices that these men and women have paid for our Country and for our freedoms.

Some Gave All

I’m going to close with a poem, which I thought was fitting. This poem was written by a Vietnam Veteran.

Everyday is Memorial Day

Today we remember
A grateful Nation recalls
Our Men and Women
Who paid the price
Of freedom for us all.

For those of us who
Served beside them
Every day is Memorial Day
We can’t let their memories fade
We were touched by their loss.

Their lives touched ours
Changing and helping us
Becoming who we are
Grateful for what we have
Freedom at Home.

For those left at home
You gave us your sons and daughters
Husbands and Wives
Fathers and Mothers
Brothers and Sisters
Friends and Lovers
Thank You for sharing them with us.

We miss them all
We won’t let them be forgot
That is why each of us
Who have been in battle knows
We can never forget
That Every Day Is Memorial Day.

by Kerry (Doc) Pardue


May 27, 2007

I found the following on Soldiers Angels and asked permission to cross-post it all over the place! I am NOT an American, but this one speaks LOUDLY across all political and geographic boundaries. I believe that this one, sent by a K9 handler in Iraq, reminds each of us why we are all in this together. So America, if you do NOTHING else this weekend, rember and give thanks to ALL our troops. (and yes, click on the link to watch the YouTube! This brat says “thank you” to every single one of our brave troops. “Some are living and some are gone. In my life I love them all.”


Quote:: A lot of people look at this weekend as a chance to let loose, party, get together with family and enjoy their time off during the week. Well, that’s what it’s there for; it’s there for you to remember and enjoy your time off in a free country that others have paid for with their lives protecting.

Whatever your political view is currently, put that aside and offer up thanks and prayers for those who have fought and died in keeping this country free and proud. Some were as young as 18 and others as old as 50. What does that mean exactly? One wasn’t even old enough to drink a beer like you are going to this weekend and the other could of been your father.

I know there are a lot of good people that are proud of this country and the military that’s protecting it, but I just want to reflect, that this weekend, be proud and give thanks for the freedoms you have, b/c others gave their lives to protect it.

On a personal note, I will be remembering my friend and co-worker Sgt Adam L. Cann/USMC, Camp Pendleton K-9 (Dogs of War) who was killed in action by a suicide bomber in Ramadi, Iraq on January 5th, 2006. He was only 23. He was the LAST person you would have thought could die over here b/c he was so full of life and energy. He lived the good life, fought the good fight and gave the ultimate sacrifice. We shall never forget him or others like him.

h/t to Kassie for this one.

Bill To Protect Custody Rights For Deployed Troops

May 27, 2007

A while back, I wrote this story about what the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act doesn’t protect and how many servicemembers have lost custody of their children due to deployments. I was pleased to read that lawmakers in Washington DC have recognized that this is not only unfair to our deployed servicemembers, but have decided to do something about it. I was really pleased to see that one of our lawmakers has recognized how devastating this can be to our troops and how distracting and worrisome it can be for a Soldier deployed in a warzone. Thankfully, something is being done about this.

On May 16th, the House passed an amendment that is designed to prevent deployed Soldiers from permanently losing custody of their children because of the absence caused by their deployment. The amendment was sponsored by Representative Mike Turner of Ohio, after he had read an article about servicemembers losing custoday of their children. The amendment was passed by voice vote as part of a defense policy bill. It would reinstate the custody arrangements of a Soldier’s children that was in place prior to the Soldier being deployed. The bill provides an exception for temporary orders issued in the “best interest of the child.”

“This additional protection is needed to provide them peace of mind that the courts will not take away their children because they answered the country’s call for service,” Turner said.


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