Newsletter Articles

From the Bookshelf

by Carl Kurfess

War Animals — The Unsung Heroes of World War II

By Robin L. Hutton 

War Animals -The Unsung Heroes of World War II. By Robin L. Hutton

“Today, war is a high-tech affair. The modern soldier relies on advanced weapons and communications technology as his essential support. But in World War II, soldiers relied on an entirely different kind of support–a kind of support soldiers have used since ancient times. Animals. Dogs, horses, and pigeons became World War II soldiers’ best friends in battle, serving to carry weapons, wounded men, and messages through artillery fire. In War Animals, bestselling author Robin Hutton brings the animal heroes of World War II to vivid life with the heroic true tales of: Famed pigeon G.I. Joe, who saved an Italian village and British troops by flying 20 miles in 20 minutes to carry a message to Allied forces; Chips, a German Shepherd trained as a sentry who attacked an Italian machine gun team, sustaining powder burns and saving his handler’s life; Bing, a paradog who jumped out of a plane on D-Day, landed in a tree, and once on the ground helped his handlers locate the enemy. A heartwarming and sometimes even hilarious history of bonafide heroes of feather and fur, War Animals is a World War II story you’ve never read before.”– Provided by publisher. 

I found this book quite interesting, especially the War Dog part. The US Army used dogs as sentry, scout dogs, sled and pack, mine detection, and messenger dogs. The US Coast Guard used them mainly for sentry duties, and the US Marines used them as scout dogs. Pigeons were used as message carriers, horses and mules were used it the Italian theater, carrying supplies up hills and mountains that vehicles could not traverse. 

The book also covers the British use of animals, especially rescue dogs who located trapped civilians in bombed out buildings from German bombing attacks. This book introduced me to the British People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Dicken Medal which was awarded to some of these outstanding animals. 

Detective Nicole Stone Post 8870, District 1 & Department of Washington: Law Enforcement Officer of the Year

Detective Nicole Stone  Post 8870, District 1 & Department of Washington  Law Enforcement Officer of the Year

It is always gratifying to see our Post honorees advance to the next level and we had the opportunity to honor one such at the March Post meeting knowing the was eligible for the National award. 

Detective Nicole Stone  Post 8870, District 1 & Department of Washington  Law Enforcement Officer of the Year
L to R: Asst. Chief G. Koen, Detective John Ernst, Honoree Detective Nicole Stone, Sr Vice Commander Carl Kurfess, Chief Cheol Kang.

Detective Nicole Stone began her career in law enforcement working as an assistant to the Traffic Unit Sergeant in the Spokane Police Department, while attending Spokane Community College, studying Administration of Justice/Law Enforcement. Continuing her education, she became a Reserve Police Officer for the Spokane P.D. and worked as a Corrections Officer for Spokane County Jail. 

Since joining the Mukilteo P.D. in 2008, Stone has built an impressive record investigating and achieving convictions in major cases, including the notorious Chennault Beach Triple Murder case. She worked as co-lead for the house party triple murder case, which garnered nationwide media attention. She received the Mukilteo Police Department Commendation Award for her work on this case. Since 2015, Stone has been one of the elite investigators chosen from all police agencies county wide forming the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team. 

Post 8870 is proud to be able to recognize Detective Stone’s work and to sponsor her to the District 1 and now Department of Washington and potentially national awards. Our thanks for her dedication to public safety. 

 L to R: Asst. Chief G. Koen, Detective John Ernst, Honoree Detective Nicole Stone, Sr Vice Commander Carl Kurfess, Chief Cheol Kang

In Memoriam: Edgar Gray Jr.

VFW Post member Pastor Edgar Gray Jr. passed away recently. He as born on October 15, 1933 in Ada, Ok., the second child of Deacon Edgar Gray Sr. Upon graduation from High school, he enlisted in the US Navy. Petty Officer Gray served as a Machinist’s Mate Third class for 4 years plus two in the reserves and was a veteran of the Korean War. 

Gray graduated from the University of Washington in 1977 with a BA in History and Education. Before his University Graduation, he served on The Washington State Ordination Board (for Pastors) 1972-1975. Comrade Gray was a long time member of Post 8870 and served as Post Chaplain for many years. He leaves a wife, six sons three daughters, 14 grandchildren, 13 great-grand children and a host of nieces and nephews. 

Many thanks to our Post comrade Roosevelt D. Ward, Jr., CPO Retired, USN. for providing the information on Edgar’s life. We will drape our charter in Comrade Gray’s honor at the April meeting. 

Edmonds Veterans Plaza Update

Edmonds Veterans Plaza Update

As we reported earlier, there have been some issues with the Kiosk at the Plaza around damage from the winter weather. We now have a resolution of those issues which will allow us to economically repair any potential new damage from ice and moisture. Additionally, plans are underway to install a cover over the kiosk to protect it from weather and debris from the surrounding trees, pending a design approval from the city. 

The software which operates the kiosk is reported to be functional and will be in operation soon. While there is still much work to be done to connect the history of the individuals honored in our Plaza with the data base in the kiosk, that work will proceed. 

We are planning to hold a brief dedication ceremony on Memorial Day, following our traditional Memorial day observance at the Cemetery, to take place at 1:00 PM. Please put this event on your calendar. 

District Commander Presents Post with 2018 J.A.S.O.N. Award

District Commander Presents Post with 2018 J.A.S.O.N. Award

At the March Post meeting, District 1 Commander Doug White honored us with a visit at which he presented the Post with this award. The initials stand for the months of July, August, September, October and November. The award is in appreciation of “detailed reporting and participation in the Community activities reporting period of July through November known as the J.A.S.O.N. period.” 

Our Post staff officers including our Quartermaster, Dennis Peterson; Chaplain, Dan Doyle and Surgeon, Charlie Gaul are largely responsible for this achievement. 

Seen in the photo at left are (L to R) Commander White, Officer of the Day Jim Collins and Post Commander Mike Denton. 

Some Thoughts from Mike Reagan

Some Thoughts from Mike Reagan

This morning I finished my love letter to Fallen Canine Hero Apollo. He died in this war June 5, 2013. Please Never Forget. 

I listen to a lot of music and books and choose those that tell me a story. That is what I try to do with my art and my posts. I believe that while I work with the fallen I bring them back for a period of time as I draw. I try and listen to them all, even the animals. If you were to take any of my drawings, like Apollo and follow up on the image you would find a story, a sometimes sad, but always fantastic story about a Hero. I live in these more then 6000 stories and have for 15 years. 

I truly believe that these people visit my drawing board and so I write things on my board as I work and as they come to me. I read one of those before I came up to write this: 

Life has 2 realities: The one most of us understand, where we can see, hear, smell and touch it. Then there is the one where we need to just believe. That ability takes trauma to achieve. You learn to believe because you have to, to hold on to whatever you lost that you loved the most. Once I draw a portrait of the fallen they become a part of me. I have become part of a lot of wonderful individuals who I believe died for me. 

Expediting VA Medical Access

Past Post and District Commander Jim Traner provided this table of direct line numbers for scheduling medical appointments in specific departments at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. It is hoped that members will find this information useful as he did. 

Specialty Clinic Scheduling

DIAL TOLL FREE: 1-800-329-8387 + EXT 

VA OPERATOR 206-762-1010
PHARMACY REFILL 206-777-4000

Audiology: 62404
Cardiology: 62008
Dermatology: 62305
Endocrinology: 62495
EMG: 62202
Eye Clinic: 62020
Geriatric Psych: 62308
General Surgery: 62354
Gastroenterology: 62285
ID: 62428
MRI: 65273
Neurology: 62021
Neurosurgery: 63019
Nutrition: 65350
Oncology: 62114
Ortho: 64310
Otolaryngology: 62359
Podiatry: 61517
Plastic Surgery: 61066
Prosthetics: 63444
Pulmonary: 61889
RCS: 62202
Radiology: 62409
Renal: 63012
Ultrasound: 61189
Urology: 62265
Vascular: 62245
Women’s Health: 65314#2

TTY/TDD: 1-800-829-4883
VA Benefits: 1-800-827-1000

National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial Dedicated

On February 26, The VFW joined with hundreds of veterans and officials to dedicate the Washington DC site of the new National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial at the corner of 23rd Street and Constitution Ave. NW, in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial and near the Vietnam Wall. Special guest speakers were former Vice President and then- Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, retired Air Force Gen. Chuck Horner, former U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait Ed Gnehm, and current Kuwait Ambassador to the U.S. Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. Representing the VFW on the dais were the Memorial Foundation President/CEO Scott Stump, a Life member of the VFW Department of North Carolina, and Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton, a Life member of VFW Post 4075 in Frankfort, Ky

On February 26, The VFW joined with hundreds of veterans and officials to dedicate the Washington DC site of the new National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial at the corner of 23rd Street and Constitution Ave. NW, in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial and near the Vietnam Wall. Special guest speakers were former Vice President and then- Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, retired Air Force Gen. Chuck Horner, former U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait Ed Gnehm, and current Kuwait Ambassador to the U.S. Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. Representing the VFW on the dais were the Memorial Foundation President/CEO Scott Stump, a Life member of the VFW Department of North Carolina, and Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton, a Life member of VFW Post 4075 in Frankfort, Ky. 

From the Bookshelf “Tin Can Titans”

Tin Can Titans

The Heroic Men and Ships of World War II’s Most Decorated Navy Destroyer Squadron. 

This book tells the story of the first of the new Fletcher-class destroyers that joined the Pacific fleet in fall of 1942. They held the line against the Japanese fleet until America’s shipyards produced the new ships that would eventually defeat the Japanese Navy. These first three ships would later be formed into Destroyer Squadron 21 (Desron 21), which became the battle hardened US Naval squadron of World War II. 

The USS O’Bannon (DD 450), the USS Nicholas (DD 449), and the USS Fletcher (DD 445) arrived in the Pacific theater in September 1942 and were immediately put to work escorting ships, patrolling against enemy submarines, bombarding enemy positions on Guadalcanal, and shooting down enemy planes. There was a severe shortage of destroyers and they were in constant demand and were working and fighting almost nonstop. Other new destroyers arrived in 1943 and were also put to work immediately. Over time, some were sunk, others were damaged, but they were constantly in service. 

When Admiral William Halsey selected Destroyer Squadron 21 (Desron 21) to lead his victorious ships into Tokyo Bay to accept the Japanese surrender, he chose the most battle-hardened US naval squadron of the war. But it was not the squadron of ships that had accumulated such an inspiring résumé; it was the people serving aboard them who won the battles. This is the story of Desron 21’s heroic sailors whose battle history is the stuff of legend. Through diaries, personal interviews with survivors, and letters written to and by the crew during the war, John Wukovits brings to life the human story of the squadron and its men who bested the Japanese in the Pacific and helped take the war to Tokyo. – King County Library Review. 

(ed. note: Later in the Pacific war, the destroyer’s role in the battle of Okinawa was described as “absorbing torpedoes” on behalf of the larger combatants and troopships, resulting in the heaviest Navy casualties of the war.) 

Dick Cole, last of the Doolittle Raiders, dies at 103

Dick Cole, last of the Doolittle Raiders, dies at 103
Cole at the controls of a refurbished B-25 Mitchell in Burnet, Texas, in September 2018. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./Air Force) 

Retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, the last surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders who rallied the nation’s spirit during the darkest days of World War II, has passed away. 

Tom Casey, president of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Association, confirmed to Air Force Times that Cole died April 9 in San Antonio. His daughter, Cindy Cole Chal, and son, Richard Cole, were by his side, Casey said. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Casey said. Memorial services are also being scheduled at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in Texas. 

Cole, who was then-Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot in the No. 1 bomber during the daring 1942 raid to strike Japan, was 103. 

Dick Cole, last of the Doolittle Raiders, dies at 103
One of the Doolittle Raiders takes off from USS Hornet. 

The Doolittle Raid was the United States’ first counterattack on the Japanese mainland after Pearl Harbor. Eighty U.S. Army Air Forces airmen in 16 modified B-25B Mitchell bombers launched from the aircraft carrier Hornet, about 650 nautical miles east of Japan, to strike Tokyo. While it only caused minor damage, the mission boosted morale on the U.S. homefront a little more than four months after Pearl Harbor, and sent a signal to the Japanese people not only that the U.S. was ready to fight back but also that it could strike the Japanese mainland.