War doesn't take a holiday: Christmas Island Style salutes veterans

Keynote speaker Wayne Smith, right, speaks to Herb Savage and Lois Bolin before the event. The Christmas Island Style Salute to Veterans took place Tuesday evening at the Rose History Auditorium at the historical museum. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

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Keynote speaker Wayne Smith, right, speaks to Herb Savage and Lois Bolin before the event. The Christmas Island Style Salute to Veterans took place Tuesday evening at the Rose History Auditorium at the historical museum. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— The keynote speaker at the Christmas Holiday Veterans’ Salute was himself a reminder of the sacrifices our military veterans may be called on to endure when they serve our country.

Naples resident Wayne Smith was a young Air Force fighter pilot flying his 90th combat mission when he was shot down over North Vietnam on January 18, 1968. He spent five years and two months 1,882 days as a prisoner of war, sharing time with John McCain in the “Hanoi Hilton” and enduring physical and psychological torture. Smith spoke to the gathering at the Veterans’ Salute, a Christmas Island Style event, in the Rose History Auditorium Tuesday evening, an event blending patriotic spirit and Christmas spirit.

Smith quoted the words of an anonymous prisoner “one of those who didn’t make it” that he remembered inscribed on the wall inside the prison.

“Freedom has a taste to those who fight and almost die that the protected will never know,” wrote the unknown soldier. Those who didn’t make it home outnumbered those who did. Of 1,300 American POWs in Vietnam, only 471 survived, said Smith.

Dave Gardner, Post Commander of Marco Island’s VFW Post 6370, recounted the stories of four Marco residents, all military combat veterans from World War II, who died this year. Bedford Biles jumped into Normandy ahead of the D-Day landings as part of the 101st Airborne Division, and earned numerous medals for his service. Bob Lamendola was another who wore the insignia of a combat infantryman, and as Gardner pointed out, “if you see that medal, you know they went through hell.” Gardner was a combat medic in the Korean War.

Joe Capilets, also in the infantry, earned a Bronze Star fighting his way across Europe, including living through the Battle of the Bulge. Howard Rotchford was a destroyerman in the Navy, who helped torpedo and sink a Japanese battleship.

Asked the connection between Christmas and military veterans, Christmas Island Style chairman and Army veteran Steve Stefanides said, “when you spend Christmas in a foxhole, or in some hellhole away from home, you never forget it.” It is very appropriate, he said, “to show appreciation for those who have served.”

After the speeches, music was provided by the New Life Community Church of God praise band and choir. Soloist Tica Barrett took the mic for several numbers, accompanied by her husband, New Life music director Greg Barrett.

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Comments » 14

MIOCENE (Inactive) writes:

My Father, who was a WWII Veteran recently died at age 90.

At his wake, the room was filled with children, grandchildren, cousins, etc.

I peaked through the curtain and noticed that the ‘wake room’ next to us had NO one in it.

I thought to myself; Is THAT the wake of the soldier who DIDN’T ‘come back‘?
No children, no grandchildren; nobody; the absence of conception. A whole extended family of people who never existed because the shell landed in the OTHER sailor’s gun turret instead of my Father's.

If the shell had instead landed in my Father's gun turret, it would be the OTHER room filled with little girls and boys and relatives of all ages instead of ours; and none of US would exist.
-Or, if the Japanese had NOT found the Yorktown that day, there would be TWO wakes and two rooms filled with children.

The only sense life makes, is that it makes no sense at all.
It’s just chance and randomness; and in a few hundred years; it won’t matter who lived, who was born, who died, or who was aborted; for those that follow us will never know the alternatives; just like WE don't know the alternatives.

They, like us; will only know what they know.

MIOCENE (PAREIDOLIA)

RayPray writes:

"For unto us a child is born...The Prince of Peace" (Isa 9:6)

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9)

Every couple weeks, these old fools need to doll themselves up and strut around to get their hearses kissed by the rest of the island.

But isn't it really blasphemy we have to go thru jingoistic farce even on Xmas.

"Naples resident Wayne Smith...fighter pilot flying his 90th combat mission"

Christianity came to Vietnam in the 1500s. It's estimated that ~ 10% of Vietnamese are Christians.

In these 90 missions during the undeclared war against the Vietnamese, one must wonder just how many Christian women and kids his bombs obliterated....

CopWatch writes:

in response to MIOCENE:

My Father, who was a WWII Veteran recently died at age 90.

At his wake, the room was filled with children, grandchildren, cousins, etc.

I peaked through the curtain and noticed that the ‘wake room’ next to us had NO one in it.

I thought to myself; Is THAT the wake of the soldier who DIDN’T ‘come back‘?
No children, no grandchildren; nobody; the absence of conception. A whole extended family of people who never existed because the shell landed in the OTHER sailor’s gun turret instead of my Father's.

If the shell had instead landed in my Father's gun turret, it would be the OTHER room filled with little girls and boys and relatives of all ages instead of ours; and none of US would exist.
-Or, if the Japanese had NOT found the Yorktown that day, there would be TWO wakes and two rooms filled with children.

The only sense life makes, is that it makes no sense at all.
It’s just chance and randomness; and in a few hundred years; it won’t matter who lived, who was born, who died, or who was aborted; for those that follow us will never know the alternatives; just like WE don't know the alternatives.

They, like us; will only know what they know.

MIOCENE (PAREIDOLIA)

“I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an a*s of yourself.”
― Oscar Wilde

Semper Fi

Our dead brothers still live for us and bid us think of life,
not death-of life to which in their youth
they lent the passion and joy of the spring.
As I listen, the great chorus of life and joy begins again
and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers
and destinies of good and evil our trumpets sound once more.
a note of daring, hope and will.
I see them now, as once I saw them on this earth.
They are the same bright figures that come also before your eyes and when I speak of those who were my brothers,
the same words describe yours.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes ~

CopWatch writes:

in response to RayPray:

"For unto us a child is born...The Prince of Peace" (Isa 9:6)

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9)

Every couple weeks, these old fools need to doll themselves up and strut around to get their hearses kissed by the rest of the island.

But isn't it really blasphemy we have to go thru jingoistic farce even on Xmas.

"Naples resident Wayne Smith...fighter pilot flying his 90th combat mission"

Christianity came to Vietnam in the 1500s. It's estimated that ~ 10% of Vietnamese are Christians.

In these 90 missions during the undeclared war against the Vietnamese, one must wonder just how many Christian women and kids his bombs obliterated....

“I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an a*s of yourself.”
― Oscar Wilde

Semper Fi

MIOCENE (Inactive) writes:

It has been said that Jesus; the so-called "prince of peace" influenced the world like no other.

Yet how can one make such a claim, since for the last 2000 years the Christian World has been at war not only with others; but amoung itself.

It wasn't JESUS who influenced the world; but was rather Constantine, Charlemagne and others; along with the Popes; who manipulated the superstitious masses into an army of trained seals; steamrolling over and destroying all who didn't believe as they.

-And ever since: "History has been written by the winners."

MIOCENE (PAREIDOLIA)

Konfuzius writes:

in response to CopWatch:

“I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an a*s of yourself.”
― Oscar Wilde

Semper Fi

How can you be an a..........e by Oscar Wilde when you just express your mind? Vietnam was an undeclared criminal war America couldn't win. Finally loss!
I feel sorry for all the death. The Vietnamese people in the same way American soldier lost their life's for - NOTHING!
The war was an history mistake.

RayPray writes:

in response to CopWatch:

“I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an a*s of yourself.”
― Oscar Wilde

Semper Fi

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go."
--- Oscar Wilde

loisbolin writes:

in response to RayPray:

"For unto us a child is born...The Prince of Peace" (Isa 9:6)

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9)

Every couple weeks, these old fools need to doll themselves up and strut around to get their hearses kissed by the rest of the island.

But isn't it really blasphemy we have to go thru jingoistic farce even on Xmas.

"Naples resident Wayne Smith...fighter pilot flying his 90th combat mission"

Christianity came to Vietnam in the 1500s. It's estimated that ~ 10% of Vietnamese are Christians.

In these 90 missions during the undeclared war against the Vietnamese, one must wonder just how many Christian women and kids his bombs obliterated....

One may also wonder how many needless America lives were lost in Vietnam- how many America families suffered because politicians played a game of chess with their lives. The men and women who serve our country sign a blank check payable to the US for an amount up to and including their lives.

The war in Vietnam could have been over in 1 day if the politicians would have let the pilots bomb selected airfields - but such was not the case. The pilots were told they were not there to win the war. They were told they couldn’t fire on any target unless fired upon first. They went on missions the same time every day giving the opponent the advantage of knowing when to shoot first.

North Vietnamese killed 1,000,000 South Vietnamese in Vietnam after the US departed - another estimated 1,000,000 were killed trying to escape.

Pol Pot, Communist Dictator and leader of the Khmer Rouge, killed 3.5 million out of Cambodia’s total population of 8 million (see Killings fields.

This was a case of Communism vs Freedom Loving “Dissidents”. I doubt is Mr. PP cared if they were Christians or not.

Wayne Smith, a 24 year old pilot, spent 5 years and 2 months of torture and watched many of his class mates die while in captivity, did not engage civilians – he engaged Russian MIGs flown by Vietnamese pilots – as well as some Cubans- just so you have your facts straight.

So as you rest in peace over the holidays, reflect upon why you have the psychological freedom to enjoy this day with family and friends knowing they are safe– why you have the right to post anonymous blogs to express your views-
indeed Pray Ray that you continue to have this right.

You will continue to have this right as long as there are people like our Greatest Generation and subsequent Guardians of Liberty that serve a cause greatest than themselves.

So the next time “these old fools”, who preserved the Spirit of 1776 in 1945 by defeating the greatest tyranny the world has even known, need to doll themselves up and strut around to get their hearses kissed by the rest of the island”, I suggest you “reframe” your thinking.

See “Strutting” as walking the talk of being proud of who they are and paying tribute to a member of a very special group who has a very special bond – a bond that is only understood by those who have seen the battle field or served those who did.

In the words of those returning POWs of Vietnam who used a special code to stay in contact with each other so as not to allow the horror of what they faced bring them down …GBU…. God Bless You.

Enjoy your holiday knowing that somewhere out there, there is someone watching out for you on Earth just as there is someone watching over you from above.
1973 POW Release

591 Total

325 Air Force
77 Army
138 Navy
26 Marines
25 Civilians

Konfuzius writes:

"So the next time “these old fools”, who preserved the Spirit of 1776 in 1945 by defeating the greatest tyranny the world has even known, need to doll themselves up and strut around to get their hearses kissed by the rest of the island”, I suggest you “reframe” your thinking."

Take history straight. The revolution war was a war for freedom against Britannia together with Germans and French soldiers. On top General Steuben still honored by he Steuben parade in New York.
1939 America get no invitation to join the war in Europe. I guess if Japan makes not this terrible mistake to bomb America in Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941 America will never entered WWII. And never for the reason of "defeating the greatest tyranny the world has even known"!
In December 1941 the war was anyway decided against the "greatest tyranny the world has even known"! America accelerated the end of this war in Europe thanks outstanding General George Patton Americans didn't like in that days.
Anyway. It was good that America join WWII and was on the right side. But all others wars than, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq under W. Bush were useless and historical mistakes. The American or the world freedom was never in danger. Quit frankly even for Japan it was logistical impossible to invade the USA.
I believe it is more serious to express your sorrow about all the poor brave soldiers sacrificed their life "...because (unfortunately) politicians played a game of chess with their lives!"
Unfortunately JFK, LBJ and RMN. And Nixon was ready to drop the BIGGY!

One more time: I feel sorry for all the American families and all other families world wide suffer the death of family member for nothing.

And I am thankful that great President Barack Obama did not step in Syria for another useless war and no reason!

Peaceful Christmas!

RayPray writes:

in response to loisbolin:

One may also wonder how many needless America lives were lost in Vietnam- how many America families suffered because politicians played a game of chess with their lives. The men and women who serve our country sign a blank check payable to the US for an amount up to and including their lives.

The war in Vietnam could have been over in 1 day if the politicians would have let the pilots bomb selected airfields - but such was not the case. The pilots were told they were not there to win the war. They were told they couldn’t fire on any target unless fired upon first. They went on missions the same time every day giving the opponent the advantage of knowing when to shoot first.

North Vietnamese killed 1,000,000 South Vietnamese in Vietnam after the US departed - another estimated 1,000,000 were killed trying to escape.

Pol Pot, Communist Dictator and leader of the Khmer Rouge, killed 3.5 million out of Cambodia’s total population of 8 million (see Killings fields.

This was a case of Communism vs Freedom Loving “Dissidents”. I doubt is Mr. PP cared if they were Christians or not.

Wayne Smith, a 24 year old pilot, spent 5 years and 2 months of torture and watched many of his class mates die while in captivity, did not engage civilians – he engaged Russian MIGs flown by Vietnamese pilots – as well as some Cubans- just so you have your facts straight.

So as you rest in peace over the holidays, reflect upon why you have the psychological freedom to enjoy this day with family and friends knowing they are safe– why you have the right to post anonymous blogs to express your views-
indeed Pray Ray that you continue to have this right.

You will continue to have this right as long as there are people like our Greatest Generation and subsequent Guardians of Liberty that serve a cause greatest than themselves.

So the next time “these old fools”, who preserved the Spirit of 1776 in 1945 by defeating the greatest tyranny the world has even known, need to doll themselves up and strut around to get their hearses kissed by the rest of the island”, I suggest you “reframe” your thinking.

See “Strutting” as walking the talk of being proud of who they are and paying tribute to a member of a very special group who has a very special bond – a bond that is only understood by those who have seen the battle field or served those who did.

In the words of those returning POWs of Vietnam who used a special code to stay in contact with each other so as not to allow the horror of what they faced bring them down …GBU…. God Bless You.

Enjoy your holiday knowing that somewhere out there, there is someone watching out for you on Earth just as there is someone watching over you from above.
1973 POW Release

591 Total

325 Air Force
77 Army
138 Navy
26 Marines
25 Civilians

>>> What Rusty Calley did once from the side of a ditch, these pilots did every day from high above....

http://www.georgelois.com/pages/Esqui...

"The war in Vietnam could have been over in 1 day if the politicians would have let the pilots bomb selected airfields"

>>> Fantasy!

>>> All you need to know about our ill-starred colonial adventures over the past 60 years: http://www.amazon.com/Generals-Americ...

Borrowing from Talleyrand, they were all "...worse than a crime; ...a blunder."

tikihut2206 writes:

some of you people are crazy..just give thanks to all our vets for giving their lives for our freedom....

harrisbill239#279036 writes:

And, please everyone of you, no matter what your religious or anti-war beliefs are .... remember that it's always better to fight a war in somebody else's country, than it will ever be to (again) fight a war on our own land. In this way, we can hope to fight tyranny before it reaches our homelands and before it physically reaches our wives, children, grandchildren, and as many of our friends and relatives as possible. If we don't fight tyranny where it first raises it's ugly head, then sooner or later we will be fighting it on our own ground. If you don't believe that, just remember 9/11. Take the battle to our enemies - don't wait for them to bring the battle to us.

Konfuzius writes:

"Take the battle to our enemies - don't wait for them to bring the battle to us."

YES! Watch Cuban, Canadians, Bahamians, Mexicans and of course Bermudians. They have all boarder lines to USA.

The last war on American ground was provoked by America. The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, the result of American intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. Maybe it was more Mexico than Spain. The worse war on American ground was also an American conflict. The civil war.

So who indoctrinated you so strong that you can believe some nation on earth will attack America on Americans homeland? Except terrorists. But against terrorists attacks is even America powerless. See 9/11!

The wars today are cyber wars, financial wars, wars against poverty and noneducational citizen. In this fields AMERICA is not fit at all.
Partly helpless.

You see in modern times old tenets will not work anymore.

RayPray writes:

in response to harrisbill239#279036:

And, please everyone of you, no matter what your religious or anti-war beliefs are .... remember that it's always better to fight a war in somebody else's country, than it will ever be to (again) fight a war on our own land. In this way, we can hope to fight tyranny before it reaches our homelands and before it physically reaches our wives, children, grandchildren, and as many of our friends and relatives as possible. If we don't fight tyranny where it first raises it's ugly head, then sooner or later we will be fighting it on our own ground. If you don't believe that, just remember 9/11. Take the battle to our enemies - don't wait for them to bring the battle to us.

"Take the battle to our enemies - don't wait for them to bring the battle to us."

>>> Wasn't this what Admiral Yamamoto's felt in attacking Pearl Harbor?

"If we don't fight...then sooner or later we will be fighting it on our own ground. If you don't believe that, just remember 9/11."

>>> Since we'd already been fighting in Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Granada, Dominican Republic, Iraq, Kuwait, Bosnia, Haiti, Somalia, etc, why then did 9/11 happen at all?

>>> What area of the world did our rulers forget to attack in the 50 years prior to 9/11?

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