Meals for troops in the field have always been problematic. In earlier centuries, dried, or salt cured beef and pork with a variety of beans, somme very hard break and whatever the troops could forage from the immediate vicinity were what comprised rations. No doubt the ‘C’ rations of WWII and beyond were an improvement. While I hear more recent vets do not have a really high opinion of the culinary quality of today’s MREs, I expect they are something of an improvement as well.
Navy sailors of prior generations lived mostly on that same salt meat, beans, hard tack bread and oatmeal, sometimes supplemented with fresh meat and vegetables/fruit early in a voyage. Fortunately, those of us who served in the 20th century, when refrigeration became available aboard ship, fared considerably better.
The traditional Memorial Day observance at the Edmonds Cemetery drew an estimated 200 attendees. “The Edmonds Cemetery is the final resting place to approximately 600 veterans dating back to the Civil War,” began Cemetery Board Member Jerry Janacek as he welcomed attendees. Janacek’s remarks were followed by a presentation of the colors by members of the Edmonds VFW Post 8870, the Pledge of Allegiance led by a contingent of Girl Scouts, singing of “The Star Spangled Banner” by David Little, and a bagpipe rendition of “Grand Old Flag” by piper Jan Begg.
In his invocation, Pastor Barry Crane of Edmonds’ North Sound Church reminded attendees that “though we come from many races and religion, we are all Americans, and we realize that freedom is not free.” Crane was followed by the North Sound Singers under the direction of Allan Skoog singing “America the Beautiful.”
Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson spoke briefly, noting that Arlington National Cemetery was created in the wake of the Civil War, a war that saw “the greatest loss of life of any of America’s armed conflicts.”
Keynote speaker was Monica McNeal, president of American Gold Star Mothers for Washington, Alaska and Oregon, a group of mothers who lost a son or daughter while in service to their country. Monica spoke about the loss of her son, Lance Cpl. Eric Levi Ward, killed in action in Afghanistan on Feb. 21, 2010.
Since then, she has dedicated herself to honoring Eric’s service and that of others who continue to serve. Eric now rests in Arlington National Cemetery. “The true cost of war is not the trillions of dollars, but in young lives like Eric’s,” she concluded. “Some gave all; all gave some. God bless America.”
McNeal was followed by Mike Denton of VFW Post 8870, with the missing man table ceremony in memory of those who remain missing in action. Next was the ship’s bell ceremony officiated by VFW Post 8870 Commander Carl Kurfess, who read off the names of Snohomish County service members who died in Iran and Afghanistan. Kurfess was assisted by Vietnam veteran John Shelton, who rang the bell as each name was read.
The ceremonies ended with “God Bless America” by the North Sound Singers, the benediction by Pastor Barry Crane, taps and a rendition of “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.
Excerpted from story & photos by Larry Vogel, MyEdmondsNews
Every now and then, we run across some interesting photos and narratives of our members’ service history. If you have some pics and narrative of your service you would like to share with our comrades, send it to your editor. We would like to start doing more of this if the membership agrees.
Destroyer sailors currently in the Post, include World War II Veteran and the late Amos Chapman, Past Commanders Jim Blossey & Mike Denton. We expect there are others and would like to hear from you.
Blossey served aboard USS Walton, DD362 in the Korean War and Denton as a reservist aboard USS Whitehurst, DE 634, following active duty on USS Castor AKS, a supply ship supporting carriers off Vietnam. Others of our “Tin Can” shipmates (such as Amos Chapman) are no longer with us. Photos of both ships reflect their Vietnam era configuration, though both date to WWII.
The U.S. is about to become embroiled in a debate over its role in the world. That discussion, which will unfold with the release of President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal will nominally be about how much America should spend on defense. But the real issue is what role the U.S. wants to play in the world. Do we need, or want to continue to be the predominate force on the world stage? How important is it to our prosperity and security to be in a position to substantially control world events?
America spends plenty on defense, nearly $600 billion annually. A lot of money any way you look at it, but as a percentage of our annual gross domestic product ($ 18 trillion in 2015) defense spending is just a bit over 3%, which seems not at all excessive a price to pay to maintain our nation’s security and the security of that massive economy.
In constant dollars, defense spending has has actually declined from $768 billion in 2010 to $595 billion in 2015 — the fastest drawdown, percentage-wise, in many decades. As a result of the decline in net spending, we are asking our active duty and reserve men and women to perform at a higher “operating tempo” than they and their equipment can reasonably sustain. Ships and aircraft which should be in active service sit idle, awaiting deferred maintenance and replacement. Personnel serve long, arduous deployments away from their families. Sure, that is the job they signed up for (as we all did), but retaining valuable people in the face of this kind of service will become more and more difficult.
We hear quite a lot about how the government is short changing Veteran care and rightly so, but the Congress is equally tight about seeing that those now serving have what they need to perform the daunting tasks they are given. We, the people of the United States of America, in the persons of our elected representatives, must decide what our role in the world needs and is to be, and fund the necessary armed force accordingly.
Mike grew up in Spokane and Edmonds. He served active duty with the Navy 1962 -64. He was a Radioman aboard the USS Castor (AKS-1) in the Taiwan Straits, Quemoy-Matsu and Vietnam. As a reservist, he served on the USS Whitehurst DE634 1964-65. Mike attended Shoreline Community College and has a business degree from the University of Washington. He is retired from a career in advertising. He and Linda have two sons and reside in Edmonds.
Benton was born in Lafayette, TN and enlisted in the Navy in Nashville in 1943. He served in the Pacific Theatre, Solomon Islands. He was with the 152nd Landing Craft Repair Unit (LCRU) as a 1st Class Ships Cook 1943-45. He returned to Norfolk, VA Naval Base in July, 1945 and got married. He and Mary Eliza-beth were in New York City Times Square for the VJ Day celebration. They were married for 65 years. He was a member of VFW Post 3694 in Seattle after the war and served as the Post Athletic Director. Benton is a retired baker and served as a General Manager for Hansen Bakery and Best Pie. He resides in Bothell.