Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Vets Prevail and Poster Project II

This week I had the pleasure to interview on TNAV two veterans who are making an impact.

Rich Gengler is a retired Navy Lieutenant Commander earned an Air Medal flying the F/A 18 Hornet and went on to found Prevail Health Solutions with the goal of helping address the surge in military mental health issues that have accompanied the Global War on Terror.

I first learned on VetsPrevail more than three years ago when I stumbled upon this awesome presentation:

Create a confidential account at Vets Prevail, and you'll get a $25 gift card for dinner and a $5 Amazon gift card.  It is a quick process, I did it.  Go here using this link and they'll know GallantFew sent ya.

Second half of the show featured an interview with USMC veteran, Hollywood actor and GallantFew Board Member Michael Broderick.  Michael raised money for GallantFew last year through The Poster Project, auctioning off a signed movie poster of Band of Brothers.  If this video doesn't create chills up your spine, check your pulse.

He's back at it this year, Poster Project 2: Blackhawk Down.

Go check out VetsPrevail, and stay tuned for more info on The Poster Project!

Watch the original youtube broadcast here.

You can also catch TNAV on iTunes (search GallantFew) or listen on your computer or mobile device at BlogTalkRadio and PodBean.  Be sure to check out the other great veteran programs at

Follow TNAV on Facebook.

RLTW  Karl

Friday, August 22, 2014

POW Tribute - Andersonville Georgia, September 19 2014

ON September19, at the Andersonville Georgia National Prisoner of War Museum  - a special ceremony and Memorial Marker unveiling will he hosted by THE RIDE HOME  

The tribute will be for Capt Floyd James Thompson, Special Forces, Americas longest held POW.

If you are not familiar with the Ride Home, I ask you to visit the above noted website. (full disclosure, I sit on the Board of Directors).  I urge you - if you are a former POW, to take advantage of the tribute weekend, recognition, and camaraderie offered - TRH covers room, tribute, banquet costs for you and a guest.  You just have to get there! It is a biker casual (jeans) weekend for POWs from ALL conflicts, and families of those still missing, as well as families of those who now have answers with remains having been returned.

We took up the challenge of a Presidential Proclamation, “I call upon the people of the United  States to join me in honoring and remembering all former American prisoners of war and those missing in action who valiantly served our great country. I also call upon Federal, State, and local government officials and private organizations to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

Each year, our goals are to invite, as our guests, former POWs and MIA families, offering a recognition commensurate with their extraordinary courage and valor, to increase the number of participants paying tribute, and to increase public awareness and commitment that we will never forget.

If you are Special Forces - active or retired - please support this effort to recognize your brother, held captive just short of NINE YEARS.  This truly will be a moving tribute - deserved but not received - as he lived tormented by his captivity, with his story ignored by media until his passing.

Proposed Itinerary -   Friday, 19 September 2014

0715 hrs. - Motorcycle Escort for all Honored Guest from Americus to Andersonville, National Prisoner of War Museum, National Historical Site and National Cemetery (former POWs CAN RIDE with an escort on bikes)

0830 hrs. – Missing in Action Memorial Service – National Cemetery

0900 hrs. – Memorial Service for Colonel F. J. Thompson, Longest held American POW

1000 hrs. – National Prisoner of War Museum, National Historic Site open for viewing & tours
                                (email me - - for full proposed weekend itinerary)

There is a beautiful POW/MIA memorial in OLD Andersonville, just across from the prison grounds. It was dedicated last year and is itself, worth the trip. If you have never been to Andersonville - do it now! It is an amazing part of our history.

There is time for each "conflict" to have private moments, or join "meet and greets" Thurs evening, ceremonies on Friday that include a dinner, and a very moving, wonderful individual POW recognition on Saturday followed by lunch. 

As with all events, if you cannot attend - monetary support is needed to cover the costs involved with hosting those that have sacrificed so much. This is not  a one time effort - but has a past - and will have a future. Sponsors are needed. Corporate support is needed. Donations ARE tax deductible.  Participation is welcome.Friday morning, dinner ( -- NO tickets at door)  and Sat recognition is open to all. 

Feel free to distribute this.   Recognition is due - honor deserved - and after 4 obits in my mail this week - there may not be a "next year" for many of these former POWs.

Should have, could have, would have....    They returned with honor - the least we can do now - is honor them.

Mary Schantag, Chairman

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Dead to the VA

The United States Department of Veteran Affairs continues to astound me with new levels of incompetence and lack of caring.  A friend forwarded me this article yesterday:  Veteran facing big bills after VA declares him dead.

Seems someone stole this veteran's identity, sought medical care with that stolen identity, then died leaving unpaid medical bills.  That's not the worst part though, the VA declared him dead, and sent notification to his "surviving" family that $5,000 in VA payments had been improperly paid and demanding return of the funds.  I quote from the article:
"Hubbard receives a government pension around $1,000 a month. It’s been three months since he’s received any money to pay bills or buy food.
“We got a food bank here, and the one at the church where I go to, that’s where I get my food from,” he said.
Hubbard also feared he wouldn't be able to pay for his Section 8 housing.
The landlord cut him a break, only charging $25 a month until he gets his pension back.
“I keep calling. They say it could take up to eight months,” he said."
They said it could take up to eight months.  EIGHT MONTHS!!!

WHAT! THE! HELL!!!????

I'm getting more and more infuriated while I write this.  See, I've also recently worked with a veteran and his family who, due to an error by the VA (I know, hard to believe), his GI Bill payments were not only cut off, but the VA automatically withdrew thousands of dollars from the veteran's account.  The veteran didn't know until his house payment bounced, then other checks started bouncing.

The VA says, "Yup we screwed up, but it takes a long time to correct the issue so be prepared for it to happen again".

Well they were right about that - two months now in a row the VA has withheld money and not reimbursed money improperly confiscated.  It might happen again in two weeks.  There is a family out there, veteran husband with TBI and PTSD, a caregiver spouse stretched to the absolute limit, and a slew of little kids, one of whom is special needs.

How can an organization dedicated to helping veterans be so callous, so incompetent?

Now I understand humans make errors - but to take EIGHT MONTHS to correct it?  While a Navy veteran who served during Vietnam can't pay his housing and has to go to a foodbank?  What would he do if he didn't have a caring and understanding landlord?  When a veteran can't feed his kids?  Can't put gas in his car to take them to the doctor?

Does anyone at the VA realize they are destroying veterans' lives?  This is the kind of stuff that causes a veteran to contemplate suicide.  That the one agency that is pledged to care for him or her demonstrates such total and complete heartlessness is unforgivable.

Shame, shame, shame.

There are a lot harsher words I want to use.

This incompetence is criminal negligence.


Can you do that?  Do you care?  I'll be reaching out to my lawmakers this week - I hope you do too.


Friday, August 15, 2014

More Merrill's Marauders - a recollection

Below is a letter to the editor of a local paper written by Ranger Hall of Fame member and original Merrill's Marauder LTG (Ret) Samuel V. Wilson.  Earlier this year I interviewed him. km


Dear Mrs Beres:

Attached and also pasted below is a short piece for whatever use you may wish to make of it--OpEd, Letter to Editor, "stand alone."  Also feel free to edit, rewrite, or "cherry-pick" as you like.

As you can see, the subject is  "Merrill's Marauders" and the 1944 North Burma Campaign.  As you may already know, the Governor of Virginia has proclaimed August 10, upcoming (also see below),  as National World War II Merrill's Marauder Day to commemorate that successful yet tragic campaign.  As one of the few surviving Marauders, I have written this short essay (?) to call attention to the day the Marauders ceased to exist and to honor a valiant band of American fighting men who by now are all but forgotten.

I am informed that this piece will form the editorial of the Farmville Herald in the upcoming Friday edition, August 8th.

I send it on to you and through you to the RTD for whatever...

With high regard,

Samuel Vaughan Wilson
Lieutenant General, US Army-Retired

President Emeritus
Hampden-Sydney College

* * *


Reflections on the North Burma Campaign of 1944

These days I spend much of my sunlit mornings in a rocking chair on my front porch listening to bird songs and watching the butterflies flit and careen around the shrubs and flowers.  Down below in the small lake, largemouth bass leap after dragon flies. In boyhood we used to call them “snake doctors.”  Their random flight patterns remind me of helicopters  Often in the distance there is the wild sounding call of the pileated woodpecker, strangely similar to the cries of Gibbon monkeys that I listened to in faraway jungles seventy years ago.  When the monkeys went quiet, we knew the enemy was near.

Battle scenes in jungled mountains are never far from my mind.

When we first went behind the Japanese lines in North Burma in early 1944, we were known as the ”Galahad Force.” Galahad was our radio call sign.  Later, the news media dubbed us “Merrill’s Marauders”  after our commander, Brigadier General Frank D. Merrill.  We were 3,000 volunteers who had responded to a presidential call to engage in a “dangerous and hazardous” mission.  Some eight months and almost 1,000 zig-zag miles after the first shots were fired, we had been whittled down to 200 soldiers still able to fight.  The arithmetic itself tells the story.

The feeling I remember most from those harrowing days is fear—numbing, paralyzing, choking, dry-mouthed fear.  We were deep behind the lines of a ferocious enemy who greatly outnumbered us.  Danger was everywhere, 360 degrees, every minute of the day and night.  Our umbilical cord to safety in India had been cut--we had cut it ourselves.  Our only connection with the outside world was by air--and that link was a tenuous one, vulnerable to fickle weather conditions and to Japanese Zero’s, superb fighter aircraft with veteran pilots.  Yet our only means of sustenance and support hung up there in the air above us.  It is a wonder that some of us could survive, let alone put up a good fight.  But fight we did, and somehow we managed to succeed agains the odds and at great cost.

It is at times like those that intangibles, things that you can’t see or touch come into play.  I shall never forget one such instance.

We were deep into our campaign. The going was tough, and our losses had been heavy.  Then one day in an aerial resupply drop there came several pouches of mail.  Letters from home.  I had two personal letters, an overdue officers club bill and a small package.  I took my treasures and went behind a clump of bamboo and sat there for a few minutes holding those precious items tightly in my hand.  The return address on the small package read “Jamestown Presbyterian Church, Rice VA.”  For some reason, I opened it first.

It was a small autograph book, the kind that high schoolers exchange with sentimental inscriptions on graduation day.  My little book was full of personal messages, prayerful inscriptions from members of the Jamestown congregation--family, neighbors, sunday school mates, close boyhood pals, more distant kinfolk and people whom I hardly knew.  The words varied, but the message was constant: “We love you and pray for your safe return.”

Choking back a sob, I turned to the first inscription.  It was from my mother.

“Sam, this verse brought you clearly before me. ‘...I will lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help.’  “May you ever keep looking up.”  (signed) Mom

I put both hands over my mouth. I didn't want my men to hear me cry.

LTG (R) Wilson with Marauder historian Bob Passanisi at a Merrill's Marauder reunion several years ago in Minneapolis (photo Jonnie Clasen)
LTG (R) Wilson back in the day (photo RHOF)


More Marauders:

Merrill's Marauders: The Untold Story of Unit Galahad and the Toughest Special Forces Mission of World War II by Gavin Mortimer, published last year, from the release:
 A new book on the legendary WW II Merrill’s Marauders was released to the public in November 2013 in honor of Veteran’s Day, according to its award-winning English author Gavin Mortimer.
         “Merrill's Marauders: The Untold Story of Unit Galahad and the Toughest Special Forces Mission of World War II,” traces the short history of the 5307 Composite Unit Provisional (CUP,) later dubbed Merrill’s Marauders by the press, in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations.
         Included in the book are first-hand accounts of nine members of the 5307th CUP interviewed by Mortimer. Two of the nine, Edward A. “Ted” McLogan, the last surviving officer of the campaign, and Francis Ponder, one of the 5307th replacements, died during the past year.
         The other seven ranging in age from their late 80s to 100 are Robert “Bob” Passanisi, Roy Matsumoto, Vincent Melillo, Gabriel Kinney, Rich Murch, Ed Kohler and Clarence Branscomb. 
         Those men are part of the 3,000 from the jungles of Panama and Trinidad, Guadalcanal, New Guinea, New Georgia and the United States who answered President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s call for a secret “dangerous and hazardous” mission in 1943, and volunteered not knowing where they were going or what they would be doing.
         Mortimer, one of the world’s foremost experts on World War II special forces, said he wrote the book because “there was a sense on my part in wishing to publicize just what the Marauders did in Burma.  I have long been an admirer of Charles Hunter, the Marauders second in command, and I think he got quite a rough deal at the end of the campaign, as did the Marauders in general.
         “The involvement of U.S. ground troops in Burma has been largely overlooked in histories of WW II,” explained Mortimer. “Burma is regarded generally as a British theater, in the same way the Pacific was a U.S. theater. 
         “But the Marauders are testament to the significant and important role that the U.S. Infantry played in the reconquest of Burma,” he said. “It was also one of the most unforgiving campaigns ever seen in modern warfare.
         “I've written extensively about the Special Air Service and the Special Boat Service  in WW II, and they were brilliant special forces units. What stands the Marauders apart, however, was the fact they were operating in some of the toughest terrains imaginable, and one of the most disease infested. That they defeated not only the Japanese, but also the multitude of diseases, is proof of their outstanding achievement.
         “I had no idea about mite typhus or just how prevalent the diseases were before embarking on the project, nor about the size of the leeches, or the constant rain,” said Mortimer, adding that conditions throughout the entire campaign were a “nightmare.”
         Casualty rates for the Marauders, who were called the “dead end kids” by one newspaper correspondent, were expected to be 85 percent.  They were considered “expendable,” since a plan existed to get them into Burma but no plan existed to get them out, according to Marauder, lecturer and retired Lt. Gen. Samuel V. Wilson.
         Yet the volunteers who arrived in Bombay, India, on the SS Lurline Oct. 31, 1943, went on to make military history by marching farther -- with estimates up to 1,000 miles -- than any other American fighting force in WW II. They had only what they could carry on their backs or pack on mules. There were no mechanized vehicles.
         They trudged up the Ledo Road, through the Himalayan mountains and jungles of Burma to achieve their mission - capturing the only all-weather airstrip at Myitkyina, Burma, and opening up supply lines into Asia.
         For their bravery, each member of the unit received the Presidential Unit Citation and a Bronze Star.  There were six Distinguished Service Crosses, four Legions of Merit, and forty-four Silver Stars.  The Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment crest is the Merrill’s Marauder patch.

In memory of Merrill's Marauder Matsumoto

Coming soon - copies of all the proclaimations - 49 States, only missing California (if you can help contact me).

RLTW  Karl

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bachelor's degree preferred (SOF experience will qualify as equivalent)

Jud sends this to me, it's the first time I've seen this line, repeated at the title:

"Bachelor's degree preferred (SOF experience will qualify as equivalent).

1.  That should be the standard!
2.  If you don't know what SOF is, your experience doesn't qualify.

Job Title: Account Manager
Reports to:  VP, Client Services
Location: Stamford, CT

Job Summary: Executes projects independently with the support and direction of VP, including but not limited to timeline development and management, financial reporting and management, client contact report development, client meeting agendas and action item report development, interaction and coordination with other departments (including creative, traffic, scientific services, editorial, and meeting planning), on-site program management, materials development, concept planning, and external vendors

Principal Responsibilities:

Develops relationships with clients at appropriate levels under the direction of VP
Leads assigned projects independently

Manages client needs relating to each project, interacts with other agencies and healthcare professionals should the client need, including but not limited to, recruitment and logistics for key meetings

Builds and maintains relationships with key opinion leaders (KOL) based on project parameters

As needed, participates in all business planning sessions; researches, compiles, and computes various data; prepares reports and summaries, selecting relevant data from a variety of sources proactively

Takes a leadership role in project financials, including development and management of financial trackers, preparation and participation in regular finance meetings, supporting and overseeing project billing with appropriate support and supervision, proactively identifying and proposing solutions for financial issues on client projects. Participates in monthly forecasting exercises

Takes a leadership role on developing and managing interdepartmental relationships; establishes strong relationships, successfully executes projects with this interdepartmental group, manages conflict appropriately, and proposes solutions to issues as they arise

Proactively develops and prepares spreadsheets and presentations as needed, using Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; composes and edits correspondence and documentation

Uses advanced prioritization and judgment skills ensuring proper execution of communications and tasks. Proactively and consistently coordinates communications effectively between account team and other agency departments.

Has excellent communication skills in all areas – written, verbal, and listening

Job Requirements:
Education: Bachelor’s degree preferred (SOF experience will qualify as equivalent)

Experience and Skills:
3+ years’ experience in program management
Some healthcare-focused experience preferred, but not required
Strong interpersonal skills verbal and written communication skills
Able to work independently, but also amenable to specific direction and guidance
Comfortable leading client calls
Solutions oriented
Must be attentive to details and adept at multi-tasking
Working experience in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint
Willingness and ability to travel for programs if requested; 10% travel likely

Veteran Unemployment - Here we go again?

Following the trend of veteran unemployment?  Earlier this year it was all the rage to trumpet success:

A warmer welcome? Veteran unemployment rate down again: Labor Department

Unemployment report shows rates looking up for veterans

Veteran Unemployment Numbers Improving!

Veterans Unemployment Rate Dropped in 2013

Where are we now?

I believe we must look not only at this month, but at a twelve month trend compared against non veterans, all veterans, males, females, Desert Storm era veterans and Post-9/11 era veterans.  Numbers don't lie and trends are revealing.

First, a twelve month trend of non vets, all vets, Desert Stormies (Era I) and Post 9/11 (Era II).  With the exception of May 2014, the Post 9/11 veteran is significantly more likely to be unemployed.  Stated as an average, a Post 9/11 veteran is nearly 40% more likely to be unemployed than a non veteran.

A twelve month trend of the men.  It follows predictably the first chart, because men outnumber women in the military.

And now for the ladies.

Wow, it's all over the place!  This is because statistically it's a very small sample.   What is revealing though is when the average for each population for the last twelve months is compared in a bar chart.  All the women hover around 6% unemployment, except Post 9/11 female veterans - nearly 9%.  The math says a Post 9/11 female veteran is 40% more likely to be unemployed that a female non veteran.

We can go on and make a lot of comparisons, such as Post 9/11 veterans are 64% more likely than Desert Storm veterans to be unemployed!

Overall, veteran unemployment rates are very promising - consistently well beneath that of the civilian population, but that does not accurately portray the real deal - that Desert Storm veterans drive the veteran unemployment rate way down and masks the Post 9/11 veteran unemployment rate.

No longer does the argument "well those youngsters are in school" work - it's been thirteen years.

What to do?  Well, it ain't the federal government's place to ensure veterans are transitioned and integrated into communities - it's each COMMUNITY'S place.  If city and county governments took on this mission and organized veterans living locally to connect with, mentor and help network our youngest veterans this problem would start resolving itself.

What is YOUR community doing?  Does your city webpage have a "Welcome Veterans" section?  Does the local Chamber of Commerce host a quarterly new veteran and local employer social?  There are as many ways to make this happen as there are communities in the country.

When I first entered the US Army as a 2nd Lieutenant back in 1983 there was a sign over the Infantry Officer Basic Course doorway.  It said "LEAD, FOLLOW, OR GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY".

It's far past time.  Is someone in your community leading?

If you need help getting your community motivated, join the GallantFew network or contact Karl (look at the top of and let's roll.  RLTW

Monday, August 11, 2014

National WWII Merrill's Marauders Day - August 10, 2014

Yesterday might have slipped past you without warning - so let's catch you up this morning.  Seventy years ago yesterday the "Merrill's Marauders" were disbanded.

In existence only six months, about 3,000 volunteers answered President Franklin D. Roosevelt's call in 1942 for a secret "dangerous and hazardous" mission (sound familiar - mission unspoken destination unknown?) that became a thousand mile trek through some of the toughest terrain on the planet to ultimately seize the only all-weather airstrip in Burma at Myitkyina (the first Ranger airfield seizure!).

They were the first American combat troops to fight the Japanese on the ground in Asia.

300 were still fit to fight when they reached Myitkyina (Sparta!).  So few remained, the unit was disbanded and the survivors rolled into the 475th Infantry (Mars Task Force). 

Today about fifty original Marauders still live, and their 68th annual reunion is set for Milwaukee Wisconsin over Labor Day weekend.

75th Ranger Regiment honors the Marauders legacy by wearing the Marauder patch as their crest.  The Mountain Ranger Camp is named after Frank D. Merrill, the unit's commander.

Below are some of the recent news releases honoring Merrill's Marauders.  Did your state recognize the unit?  Post links to the press release in the comments!

Merrill's Marauder Vincent Melillo, flanked by two other Rangers, at the 1st Ranger Battalion Ball November 2013.

RLTW  Karl

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wichita Run and Gun

I will be at this event in Wichita, Kansas raising awareness for veterans and GallantFew, Inc. Aaron Childress with Chili Off The Grid will talking about The Raider Project. If you are in the area of Wichita, Kansas on August 16th, I highly suggest you come out and check this out. This is going to be a great time with food, veterans, finish line prizes, and sending some lead down range. Ammunition and Guns will be provided by The Bullet Stop. Please contact me if you would like to help out, sponsor, or just have fun. This is a great opportunity to grow the network and raise awareness for the War Fighter Community. Its not a pitty party it will be veterans taking care of veterans.

You can pre-register here.

Don't forget to LIKE GallantFewThe Raider Project, Chili Off The Grid, and The Bullet Stop on Facebook. 

 I can be reached at