Welcome to Talking Proud, Service & Sacrifice

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Honoring those who have served and sacrificed

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“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.
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James Stockdale, "a giant of a patriotic American," a "real scrappy guy"

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Americans love heroes, that's for sure. One of our problems is we don't always appreciate who most of our real heroes are or were. Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale, USN (Ret.) died on July 5, and is one of those great American heroes of all time. At his funeral aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, Admiral Vern Clark, the Chief of Naval Operations, said, “Admiral Stockdale challenged the human limits of moral courage, physical endurance and intellectual bravery, emerging victorious as a legendary beacon for all to follow.” December 16, 2016. Go to story.
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The rescue of Capt. Roger Locher, Oyster 01 Bravo

Back in May 2012, I published a story entitled, “Loss of Oyster One: The “Bloodiest Day.” It highlighted events that began on May 10, 1972 involving Major Bob Lodge, USAF. On that day, he and his “back-seater” and Weapons System Officer Capt. Roger Locher, USAF flew their F-4 Phantom II jet fighter over North Vietnam on a MiG CAP (combat air patrol mission). They were the lead aircraft of Oyster Flight; a flight of four. Lodge’s personal call-sign was “Oyster 01 Alpha," verbalized as Oyster Zero One Alpha.” Locher’s personal call-sign was “Oyster 01 Bravo, verbalized as Oyster Zero One Bravo.” The North Vietnamese shot their aircraft down.

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Locher successfully bailed out while Lodge was killed when his aircraft crashed into the ground. Locher (shown in this photo shortly after being rescued) was rescued on June 2, 1972 by American forces west of Hanoi in what was among the most harrowing rescue missions of the war. He was rescued on Day 23 after spending 22 days on the ground escaping and evading the enemy.

A former USAF navigator and pilot, Ross “Buck” Buchanan contacted me on November 25, 2016. He was the pilot of an A-1 “Skyraider” from the 1st Special Operations Squadron (SOS), Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, “NKP,” for the mission that would rescue Locher.

Buck later presented a briefing about the Locher rescue to a group of mostly “older” pilots, who were members of the Daedalians organization and their wives in Great Falls, Montana. He has been kind enough to provide the briefing to me so that I can present it to you on “Talking Proud”. My purpose here is to convey Buck’s briefing of the rescue of Oyster 01 Bravo, Capt. Roger Locher, USAF. It is presented here. This is his story. December 2, 2016.
Go to story.
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Miss Linnie Leckrone, "the heart of a true nurse," WWI

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This story will highlight Miss Linnie E. Leckrone, Army Nurse Corps (ANC), WWI, at the Battle of Château-Thierry, France, in July 1918. But the story is not just about her. Miss Leckrone was one of the many heroines of this war, caring for so many of the soldiers whose daily companions were death, stench, rot and futility. I can only give you a taste of these horrors, and supreme valor, backbone and spirit. She has been a lightning rod for me to better understand better what she and so many others might have endured during one of the most brutal wars in history. My objective here is to try to imagine what they experienced, and therefore what Miss Leckrone might have experienced. So I am going to focus a lot on WWI as it affected her and her colleagues, and we'll try to better understand some of the major medical challenges they faced. November 24, 2016. Go to story
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It ain't easy being a pitcher, even in the "Little Leagues"

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I happened to pay attention to the Little League World Series that began on August 19, 2006 at Howard J. Lamade Stadium in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. I have prepared a photo gallery that shows the grimmacing, groaning, intense life of a Little League pitcher in games that are a once in a lifetime opportunity for boys. These guys came to play, that's for sure. By the way, baseball has truly become an international support, yet another piece of American culture embraced around the world. Oh yes, one more thing. Hey mom and dad. We know you told the kid to hold his tongue, but not between his teeth! November 13, 2016.
Go to photo gallery.
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The "Ghost," Matt Urban, Medal of Honor
“The Greatest Soldier in American History.”

President Jimmy Carter

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I came across a man, wearing the Medal of Honor, and learned his name was Lt. Colonel Matt Urban, a WWII veteran. I looked him up. His name is Lt. Colonel Matt Louis Urban. He was known as “the Ghost.” He was nicknamed “The Ghost” by German soldiers because he just kept coming back no matter how many times or how seriously he was wounded in battle. ´┐╝He was assigned to and fought with the 60th Infantry Regiment, “The Go-Devils,” of the 9th Infantry Division (ID) in North Africa, Sicily, France, and Belgium. At the time he was a first lieutenant and then captain. He was awarded seven Purple Hearts. He also received the Silver Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster (which means two Silver Stars), Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters (three Bronze Stars), Croix-de-Guerre, Presidential Unit Citation, and American Campaign Medal.

The surprises kept on coming. His full name was “Matthew Louis Urbanowicz.” He was the son of Polish immigrants, born in 1919, grew up in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Why did this surprise me? My father was born in 1919 of Polish immigrants, he grew up in Buffalo, and I too grew up in Buffalo and graduated from the University of Buffalo. Yet I had never heard of Matt Urban, the hero. This was a story I simply had to do. I've learned so much that I am blessed to have done it. (092416)
Go to story.
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Come fly with me over Laos - Major Gerald Taylor, USAF, 23rd TASS, NKP RTAFB

"Do you see that "little flivver" down there in the weeds of Laos?
That's our Bird Dog on the prowl for enemy


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I have published an extensive story about the Bird Dog, "The O-1 'Bird Dog,' the toughest dog in the fight, 'our little flivver.'" I want to extract from the introduction to that story:

"There are countless ways to come to grips with the almost indescribable courage and bravery of our armed forces in the Vietnam-Laos Wars. Understanding the men who flew the O-1 'Bird Dog' Forward Air Controller (FAC) is one. Much has been capably written about these FACs and their machines. More must be written, more must be read, more must be understood. These were 'chariots with wings,' the toughest little dogs in the fight, the eyes in the sky, a warbug, a centerpiece of the hunter-killer team that heaped lead upon the enemy's head."

Major Gerald Keith Taylor, USAF, flew the O-1 Bird Dog, the "Dawg," out of Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base (NKP RTAFB) from about August 1966 to June 1967, mostly over Laos. Taylor flew with the 23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron (TASS), known as "The Crickets." In July 2016 John Taylor, Gerald's son, sent me the photos his dad used in his slide show program. I want to publish many of these photos. II want to show you the geography over which and through which these pilots flew. This will help you understand better what all our pilots experienced when flying over Laos, whether in a fighter, a transport, helicopter or prop job executing whatever mission they experienced. So take a flight along with Major Taylor, and thankfully you can relax and study the film. Go to photo album. (092516)