“Talking Proud” honors service and sacrifice, focused mainly on our military, and where I can, on Canada’s as well. Feel free to send me a note using the Contact Form and, if appropriate, I will post your comments in our Letters section. My name is Ed Marek, and I run this site on my own, as a hobby. That said, a donation is always uplifting.
“Sacrifice: Without Fear There Is No Courage”
America lost a Marine Aviator this day
Lt. General Frank E. Petersen, Jr., USMC (Ret.) died at his home on August 25, 2015, age 83. He was the first African-American Marine Corps aviator and the first African-American Marine Corps general. He served more than 38 years in the Marine Corps and was a pioneer in many significant respects. Petersen enlisted in the United States Navy in 1950 as a seaman apprentice. He served as an electronics technician. In 1951, he entered the Naval Aviation Cadet Program. In 1952, after completing flight training he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He served two combat tours in two wars, Korea (1953) and Vietnam (1968). His first tactical assignment was with Marine Fighter Squadron 212 during the Korean War. He flew various fighter/attack aircraft. Lt General Petersen flew 64 combat missions in Korea and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his combat leadership and bravery on 15 June 1953. He flew over 250 combat missions in Vietnam, received the Purple Heart after enemy antiaircraft fire brought down his F–4B over the demilitarized zone, and commanded VMFA–314 when the Marine Corps Aviation Association honored the squadron with the inaugural Robert M. Hanson Award for best fighter attack squadron. He held command positions at all levels of Marine Corps aviation, commanding a Marine Fighter Squadron, a Marine Aircraft Group and a Marine Aircraft Wing. He was also the first African-American to command a fighter squadron, a fighter air group, an air wing and a major base. (082715)
Republic of Korea "Blue Dragon" Marines, Vietnam
Robert Lafoon has provided me with a marvelous set of photos of the 2nd Republic of Korea (ROK) "Blue Dragon" Marine Brigade in Vietnam. I have posted them at the close of the Blue Dragon article. Lafoon was a Sp4 with the US Army Special Photo Detachment, Pacific. This photo, for example, shows members of the 6th Co., 2nd Bn, 2nd Bde ROK Marines preparing defensive positions near Tuy Hoa, February 2, 1966.
The 2nd "Blue Dragon" Marine Brigade deployed to Cam Ranh Bay in late September and early October 1965, at about the same time the ROK Army (ROKA) Tiger Division deployed to Qui Nhon to the north. The Blue Dragon brigade was commanded by Brigadier General Yun Sang Kim. All the Blue Dragon brigade's officers had been trained by the USMC at Quantico or San Diego. One US Marine colonel at Hoi An is said to have remarked some years later: "We taught them everything we know, and now they know it better than us." We're sure our Marines would take issue with that, but the point is, the Korean Marines were good, damn good. Go to The 2nd ROK Marine Brigade "Blue Dragons". I have placed Lagoon's photos at the end of the story. This story is contained in a larger article, "ROK Army and Marines prove to be rock-solid fighters and allies in Vietnam War". August 16, 2015
One hometown's Fallen in Vietnam — "from someplace called Cheektowaga"
"Death in Nam was just a heartbeat away" — Unnamed soldier
I have been operating this "Talking Proud Service & Sacrifice" web site for 15 years or so as a hobby. I concentrate on those who served and sacrificed, mostly in our military. Many of the stories I have done are at once heartbreaking yet the cause of spine chills filled with pride.
While doing these stories, I have always asked myself:
"Where do we get these people, so courageous, so strong? Why do they risk themselves to save others?"
Every time I ask, I answer the question myself:
"We get them from our neighborhoods, our schools, our churches, the house next door; they were the kids just down the street, our chums, or people we barely knew in school."
And, I have found, their courage and valor is often a gut response. They are built to respond to crisis. They react in an instant, without considering the costs and benefits. They just do it. They take the risk, they take the consequences. They come in many forms. And they made a difference.
I decided recently to find out who from my hometown, Cheektowaga, New York, was killed in action (KIA) in the Indochina War. I found we lost seven. I do not know any of them. One graduated from my alma mater, Cleveland Hill, and two from nearby Maryville High School, where I did a bit of student teaching. Two lived in Cheektowaga but attended schools in Buffalo. August 8, 2015. Go to story.
Major L. Johnson’s HH-43 "Pedro" Log Book, Binh Thuy, 1967-68
This is a photo of Major Leslie Johnson, USAF, a HH-43 Pedro helicopter pilot assigned to Det 10, 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron (ARRS), Binh Thuy, RVN during 1967-1968. His son, Leslie Johnson III, a veteran of Operations Just Cause, Desert Shield and Desert Storm, provided us with a transcript of his dad’s log book from November 1967 - May 22, 1968. Leslie said, “Log ends abruptly. Dad made no further entries at Binh Thuy AB. I believe he had had his fill and concentrated on his duties, staying focused on the missions, and not re-living them in a log book. Dad was exhausted from missions and no sleep.” The log book interesting because it is first hand from a pilot who was there, and because it reflects his activity early in the war. June 25, 2015. Go to story.
US Navy clandestine maritime operations, WWII China and early Vietnam
I must admit this is a crazy story. I began by wanting to talk about the “Brown Water” Riverine Navy during Vietnam. But before I knew it, I was studying US Navy clandestine maritime operations in China in WWII. And as I did, I became acutely aware of the relationships that developed between those operations in China in WWII and those that occurred in the early days of Vietnam, as early as 1954. Along with this, I learned how the Navy developed its capabilities all the way up to and including the launch of the US Navy SEALs, and their involvement in the early days of Vietnam.
This report will highlight how clandestine, covert US Navy maritime operations developed in WWII China. Then it will skip ahead to address US Navy covert maritime operations through the early days of US involvement in Vietnam, after the French gave up Indochina in 1954. I will walk you up to the Gulf of Tonkin Incidents involving, among others, the USS Maddox and Turner Joy. That is where I will stop, August 1964. I will not cover the Korean War.
This story is extremely complex, and often convoluted. I started it in September 2014. I have done my best to be accurate, even though the documented history is often conflicting and ambiguous. May 13, 2015. Go to story.