“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”
Task Force K-Bar and Canada’s JTF2, the beginning of the Afghan ground war
The first six months of the Afghan War
No one in the US will forget the enemy air attack on the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001. But very few of us know or remember what happened very shortly thereafter on the ground, lasting from October 2001 through April 2002. This report covers the first six months of the war in Afghanistan, but with a special focus. This report focuses mainly on the war in southern Afghanistan, led by an outfit known as Task Force K-Bar. I also have chosen to place a special emphasis on one of Canada’s units participating with that task force, a very secretive military unit known as Joint Task Force Two, JTF2. This is a most intriguing military unit, not well known even in Canada, and certainly not in the US. May 21, 2013. Go to story.
The Final Toast --- Doolittle’s Raiders
During May 2013, at Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, the surviving Doolittle Raiders of WWII gathered publicly for the last time. They flew 16 B-25 bombers from the USS Hornet’s deck and bombed Tokyo in April 1942. They knew they could not return to the carrier, and tried to make it to China to land following the mission. Four aircraft crash-landed, 11 crews bailed out, and three Raiders died. Eight more were captured, and three were executed. One more died of starvation in a Japanese prison camp. One crew made it to Russia. Of the 80 raiders, 62 survived. They have reunited every year since 1946. Each year, 80 goblets are transported to the reunion, and if one of them died, his goblet is turned upside down in the case that carries the goblets. Also in the case is a bottle of 1896 Hennessy Very Special Cognac. That was the year Lt. Colonel Jimmy Doolittle was born. As 2013 began, there were five living Raiders, but one died in February, Tom Griffin, 96. There are now four goblets left. These four have decided they are too few to hold any more reunions. The original plan was that when there were only two survivors, the two would open the bottle, and drink from their goblet in honor of their brothers now gone. The four survivors have changed the rule. They will hold a final public reunion at a later date, sometime during 2013, and they will all open the bottle and all four will toast their brothers for the final toast. (051213)
The “Flying Dudleys” of Wausau, WWII
I want you to meet a special group of men, the four Dudley brothers of Wausau, Wisconsin, tagged by some as “The Flying Dudleys.” Left-to-right, Lauren Charles “Laurnie” Dudley, 20; Jefferson James “Jay” Dudley, 24; Richard David “Dick” Dudley, 18; and Robert Lee “Bob” Dudley, 22. It is unusual for four brothers serve in war at the same time, though it did happen. All four of these guys wanted to, and did. When we read and hear about the American warrior, we often ask the question, “How do we get such men and women? Where do they come from that they could do these things?” The answer lies with “the invisible obvious.” These men and women come from our families, from our neighborhoods, from our schools, from being with friends and colleagues. They are in many respects us, at our best. By Ed Marek, editor, March 26, 2013. Go to story.
The F-105 Thunderchief, a legend flown by legends
The F-105 "Thunderchief," known as the Thud, the hyper hog, the lead sled, and a lot more to those who flew her "Downtown" in North Vietnam, is indeed a legend. Most remarkable, though, are the men who flew her. One pilot has said, "To go to Hanoi day after day not only took great courage, but more important, it took great loyalty to your country." One writer said this about these men: "Knowing what lay ahead, the best of men competed for a place on the toughest missions. They did it because they were fighter pilots." We need to take a moment to think about their sacrifices and what those mean to our nation. August 30, 2005. Go to story.
America’s “Happy Hooker, The CH-47 Chinook
The US Air Force announced it intends to buy 141 HH-47 Chinook helicopters to conduct Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) missions. If you want to talk about multi-tasking, you've found the right aircraft in the Chinook. We want to use the selection of the HH-47 as an excuse to explore the CH-47 aircraft from the time of its first appearance in combat in Vietnam in 1965 to its present use in Afghanistan, including its emergency use responding to the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. We'll even give you an aircraft "walk-around." December 13, 2006. Go to story.
American heads under helmets, a photo album
In November 2004, we started accumulating photos of helmets with American heads underneath them. Why? Because.We have five pages of "Helmet" photos for you to browse. Some will make you proud, some will make you sad, some will make you laugh, some will make you all of that, and more. They all reflect our culture, our people. February 7, 2005. Go to photo album.
On patrol in Afghanistan: always “pushing out”
“We’re playing big boys’ games ... What I’m interested in is getting the job done, and let’s face it, getting the boys back safely.” Lieutenant Colonel Carew Hatherley, Grenadier Guards, Britain. Most of us have not been in ground combat. That includes me. Though I am sitting here in the lap of luxury, I have tried to discover and understand what our men and women have gone through while exposed to ground combat, by reading their testimonials and memoirs, and by watching videos of them in action. I have selected the Afghanistan War as the setting. Our forces have been there over 11 years, many of them have been there several times, and this war continues on. I cannot replicate what it is actually like to be there. I can only convey what the men and women say it is like. By Ed Marek, editor. January 13, 2013. Go to story.
LS-36, “The Alamo” in Laos
This is a story about a place known as Lima Site 36 at Na Khang, Laos, LS-36, during the Indochina War. We all know there was a secret war in Laos that actually started before the war in Vietnam. What many of us do not know much about is the role of these “Lima Sites.” I selected LS-36 as a means to convey their importance. We are going to cover a lot of ground. I never heard of LS-36. So I decided to tackle the questions where was it, why was it there, and what happened to it. It turned out these were no easy questions to answer. November 19, 2012. Go to story.
Digniﬁed transfer of the Fallen: a solemn movement of respect and honor
This is not a ceremony and not a media event
Defense Secretary Gates decided to open up the return of our combat Fallen to the media. He did this against the recommendations of many signiﬁcant others who opposed changing the rule, including the families. All right, it's done. Given this decision, I want to be sure people know the solemn and digniﬁed manner in which our forces treat our Fallen on their way home. That they treat them with such respect and honor is heartwarming and a source of great pride. There is no political agenda here. You will see our forces do their very best to care for the remains of our Fallen --- a solemn movement of respect and honor. By Ed Marek, editor, July 12, 2009
Airman Basic Paige Renee Villers, USAF, courage, honor, a patriot
Loss of Oyster One: The “Bloodiest Day.”
Major Bob Lodge, USAF, Lynbrook, New York, a 1964 graduate of the US Air Force Academy (USAFA), and member of the 555th “Triple Nickel” Fighter Squadron (FS), 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (TRW), Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base (RTAFB), spent two tours in the Indochina War, flew 186 combat missions in fighters, and shot down three enemy MiGs. On May 10, 1972, his callsign Oyster One, flying an F-4 Phantom II jet, was shot down over North Vietnam by enemy MiG-19s and killed. His backseater and Weapons Systems Officer (WSO), Major Roger Locher bailed out and was rescued some 22 days later west of Hanoi in what was among the most harrowing rescue missions of the war. Lodge was lost on the Bloodiest Day for enemy MiGs, and the stories surrounding his loss and Locher’s rescue tell us a great deal about the kind of people we are. Go to story. (052012)
Medevacs & Medics, Angels of Mercy
For the past 8-9 years, while running this web site as a hobby, I have written multiple stories about our military medevac and medical people in war. As an Indochina War veteran who flew aboard combat reconnaissance missions, mostly over Laos, I have always had a special spot in my heart for those who we all knew would come to our aid if we got into trouble during combat operations. In the Air Force, we knew it would virtually stop the air war to go in to save a downed crew. In researching Army and Marine operations, I have also learned what a massive effort is put into getting our wounded out of the killing zone and into medical hands. I have further learned the extent of this medical system available to our wounded from the medic working on a downed troop in the killing zone all the way to getting wounded soldiers to some of the most sophisticated medical facilities and capable medical hands available in the world. All of this is done with a level of professionalism that exceeds my command of the English language to describe. I have reassembled a group of these stories in an effort to give you a wide picture of what our medevacs and medics do on behalf of our men and women in combat. March 17, 2012. Go to story.
MiG Alley Korean War: The first jet vs. jet aerial warfare
When I was a young guy, I recall hearing reports on the radio about how many North Korean MiG fighter aircraft our guys shot down every day. Killing MiGs was a big deal in those days. I heard a lot about “MiG Alley.” But as I look back, I did not know where MiG Alley was. I knew it was over the Korean peninsula, I knew it was MiG-15 against F-86 Sabre, but had no idea it was so far to the northwest and that it crossed into China. This report will summarize the historical context of why MiG Alley was so far to the northwest, on China’s border, highlight the role of the B-29, focus on the debut of the MiG-15 and F-86, the advent of fighter vs. fighter aerial warfare, and pass on a few F-86 pilot stories. February 19, 2012. Go to story