Fulton County Post 134
Atlanta, Georgia
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Come Join Us
Written by Meeting Chairman   

American Legion Post 134 meets for lunch the second Thursday of every month at the Petite Auberge Restaurant in the Toco Hills Shopping Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

American Legion is an organization of U. S. Military veterans that share the ideals of service and patriotism.  If you are serving or have served in the military during war, you may be eligible for membership.  For more information  contact us .

Next Post Meeting
Date/Time: April 10th/11:30
Location: Petite Auberge Restaurant
Program:  REAR ADMIRAL WILLIAM O. “DUSTY” MILLER

RADM (Ret) Miller is an Atlanta native and a graduate of the old Tech High School.  He is a 1946 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of South Carolina, and holds an LLB from Atlanta Law School and earned an LLM and a Masters in International Relations, both from George Washington University.

He served 35 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring in 1978 as its Judge Advocate General.  He is a graduate of both the Armed Forces Staff College and the Naval War College.

RADM Miller practiced law here in Atlanta until 1990, serving from 1985 until 1990 as president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, at which time he retired.

 

Prospective members are always welcome!


Please see the NEWSLETTER section on the Main Menu for all monthly post events beginning in 2012. Or click here..


 

 

 

Forming Planes of the Second Air Division

The Second Division of the Eighth Air Force grew from one group, the 93rd Bomb Group, to the fourteen groups by D-Day.  Theoretically, the 14 groups could deploy 504 B-24’s on a single mission.  Having this many aircraft airborne at one time presented a major problem in “forming” – having each group’s aircraft in its proper position by squadron, Group and Wing. 

The Second Division identified each Group and Wing with various color combinations.  A major problem arose in the identification of a single aircraft associated with each group.  War-weary B-24’s were painted in garish colors, making them easily recognizable in the air.  These were known as “forming ships.”  Their function was to remain airborne long enough to form each Group and await the arrival of the Group lead ship.  “Group leads” usually were the last aircraft airborne, having delayed for last minute instructions, weather, target changes, and so forth. 

When the Group lead ship arrived, the “forming plane” moved out of formation and returned to base, their critical function of serving as a rallying point now complete.  Combat crews sometimes referred to these garishly-painted airplanes as the “Judas Goats,” recalling the goats that led the cattle to slaughter at packing plants in America’s Middle West.  The lead goats escaped via a trapdoor while their followers continued to the slaughter pens. 

The original and innovative use of “forming planes” was one example of the ingenuity of the 8th Air Force Staff in deploying the maximum number of bombers on the deadly missions over Germany.

BILL SAVICH: Citizen Soldier, WWII

William M. Savich, was 21 years old from Brooklyn NY and attending college when drafted.  The Army called and Bill left college.  It was July 1941 and the lyrics to a popular tune were Good by Dear, I’ll be back in a year ‘cause I’m in the Army now…..  That  “back in a year” chantey changed dramatically after Pearl Harbor,      December 7th 1941.   Bill, a Sergeant,  began to     criss-cross the country with short back-to-back CONUS orders to different Army bases.  He completed his OCS 90 day wonder program and was commissioned a     2nd LT in August 1942.  After infantry training he shipped out as an 88th Infantry Division citizen soldier.  This was the first Infantry Division started from scratch with all plain citizen draftees.  Bill arrived in Casa Blanca Christmas day of 1943.   

In early  Spring of 1944, he embarked on a troop and mule train headed to Oran where he trained in the Atlas mountains.  He deployed to Naples, Italy and then to the front lines of the war.  It was in March 1944, engaged with the enemy near Cassino, that he received his Silver Star. He led a few volunteers from his unit to pull two of his men from a ditch in a German minefield.  They had been wounded, were trapped and crying out for help.  Bill said that the pitch black darkness, and the muffling effect of heavy rain and mud were reasons they succeeded in the extraction. It took them several hours to go about 100 yards and he had to probe every inch to avoid having his volunteer team being blown up themselves. They were guided by the cries of one of the two soldiers.  Although both soldiers were brought back, only one of them had survived and he and Bill became lifelong friends after the war. 

It was from the slopes of Mount Alto, May 28, 1944, that Bill and his 200 man company spotted the German army in retreat on Via Appia a major north-south highway.  The Germans were rolling north on the Via Appia and Bill was ordered by Battalion to go down and get closer to bring in artillery and aircraft. He did so and the allied artillery and air forces rained destruction down on those German tanks and armored vehicles.  Bill was wounded by friendly artillery fire as it bracketed in on the Germans.  Friendly fire mishaps he recounted are a very common occurrence in combat.  Most important though is that the attack he called in saved the town of Maenza, Italy from German destruction. Fifty eight years later on Italy’s Independence Day, April 23, 2002, he returned as a hero to Maenza,  became an Honorary Italian Citizen and received the Gold Medal of Italy.    

After Maenza, Bill’s Company headed North through Rome and into enemy engagement in Volterra near Florence.  Here, he was again wounded in July 1944 by artillery and machine gun fire which killed two of his men on either side of him.  He wonders why he was so blessed by God to live as long as he has.  He spent three and a half months in the hospital and then requested to go back to the front. 

In Sassoleone, Italy,  October 1944, he was again wounded by machine gun fire. 

 It was late April, 1945 when the Germans surrendered in Italy.  Battalion notified Bill and other Company Commanders across the theater, of the surrender.  The forces were directed not to fire on any Germans unless fired on first.  

Bill and his men at this time, pushed North to Vipetino near the Brenner Pass.  He had about 120 soldiers and they slogged through and past thousands of Germans all armed.  Each side was wondering what the other side might do.  The soldiers on both sides wanted nothing more than to get out of there and go home. But Bill had a responsibility to move forward.  He called Battalion a few times trying to get direction until finally the Battalion Commander told him to take charge and that if he called again he’d be court-martialed.  

Bill Savich now a Captain and Company Commander decided that the best course of action was to take charge and not call Battalion again. There were no manuals, there were no check lists, there were no training programs.  In charge, the 23 year old Bill, Company Commander, moved forward with his men on instinct,  prayer, and good old American spunk.  

Entering Vipiteno he was tired, he was pissed off, he was dirty , he was disheveled, he was scared.  He didn’t know what he was going to do.  He said Vipiteno was like a carnival.  The Italians were cheering and kissing him and his men.  It was chaos and he was in charge.  He decided to set up his command post in the Excelsior Hotel.  He entered the hotel that was still occupied by the German staff.  The German Generals and Colonels were all spiffed up, their beautiful Sophia Loren look-alike mistresses at their sides. The enemy along with their mistresses and the Italians were fixed on this bedraggled American Captain, with grenades hanging down, dirty and torn shirt,  firearm at the ready, and badly in need of among other things, sleep, a bath, a shave and a clean change of clothes.  What was this American going to do?  Bill at that point was in the exact same state of wonderment.  But he took charge.

He located the Italian Fascist hotel manager and told him to have the highest ranking German report to him.  Through an interpreter he started asking the German General questions about the number and location of forces and in turn was not getting any answers.      Finally getting more and more pissed off, he pulled out his sidearm service revolver and told the interpreter to tell the general that if he didn’t answer the questions he’d shoot him.  To this day he doesn’t know what he would have done.   

It was enough though to get the General to begin answering his questions.  He finally ordered the General to have the entire German force out of town by 6am the next morning.  He then went to bed.  Still fully clothed, exhausted, he slept.

The next morning he went into the Excelsior lobby.  There were no Germans around, only happy Italians.  The Germans had indeed evacuated the town and set up camp in the fields outside of Vipiteno.  His next job was to prevent the Italians from pillaging the German warehouses and to feed the German forces who he had ordered out to the fields.  He set up this security and logistics effort with both his own men and Italian civilians who he was able to pay.  

The war was over.  Bill was happy to be going home.  

History now lists the 88th  Infantry Division of citizen soldiers amongst the top ten divisions in the war.  German Divisions took the first six places and the American 88th Division was number seven.  

Upon return to CONUS the Army wanted to keep Bill but he was ready to go back to civilian life.  The Army, resolved to hold onto him, finally acknowledged that they had no legal authority to keep this private citizen draftee on active duty.  He was honorably discharged.  

Bill Savich, uncommon war hero once again became a “common” citizen, one of America’s Greatest Generation.  He graduated on the GI Bill from NYU, married his wife Lydia an NYU classmate, raised two children William and Patty, and had a very successful career in the insurance industry.  He was President of the Greater Atlanta Kiwanis Club in 1976 and 1977.  He has written a book not yet published that is titled At War and In Love, a totally separate and poignant story about his love for and lifelong friendship with an Army nurse whose name is Aggie.  In his short service he was awarded the French Croix de Guerre, a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts, the Italian Gold Medal, honorary Italian Citizenship, and New York State’s Conspicuous Service Cross.  

Bill just turned 91 and is a member of Post 134.   

A Knight in the Big Apple

During the lengthy television coverage of the angry Hurricane IRENE, I was jolted into surprise when on to the screen came a shot of Grand Central Station in New York City.  Its marble was gleaming in the emptiness.  Without wishing to do so, I was taken back a few decades to a time when I used it       somewhat frequently.  It was the fun of the place to watch the human flow.  One of the standouts was the man whom I called Knight in the Big Apple. I resurrected him as I saw him in what I wrote so long ago.  Ready? 

At the time, I was at my Sunday morning best: shaved, showered, fed, reasonably comfortable, and only slightly impatient about my train.  I crouched on to a bench, gave up the thought of reading in the dim light, and slyly began taking in the sights and sounds. 

He was diagonally across from me, hunched over, gathering whatever warmth surrounded him.  He was in his forties, I’d say.  I could make out that his hair was dark and full and a bit curly.  His stubble of beard was dark.  There was a robustness about him that came through a rather unkempt appearance.  I watched him chain smoke, the wobbly  cigarettes coming from hidden corners of his dirty jacket.  I was surprised to see the thickness of the wrists, the steadiness of the hands.  I expected him to have the tremors, to be hacking stuff out of chilled lungs, to be feverishly casting about for the next touch, to be disgustingly annoying to all around him.  I could tell from his clothes and manners that he was a Knight of the Big Apple, a connoisseur of cheap wines and bad booze, a seeker of hand-outs, a shareholder of hovels, a man of independent means.

Well, he wasn’t exactly ready for an appearance as a guest lecturer on deportment, but he did serve as another lesson that generalizations about people are rather tricky. 

He was quite articulate, in a rambling sort of way.  He conned a cigarette out of an elderly gentleman who had just sat on his right.  He lit it from the stub of the smoker on his left, and proceeded to give a long and surprisingly lucid but pointless account of his latest job search.  His aging benefactor ignored him, but our narrator went on anyway.  Perhaps he saw an audience that needed convincing because he directed his remarks at a door beyond the old man. 

That task completed, he turned his attention to his attire.  First, he flicked imaginary lint from his greasy, colorless corduroy pants and then lifted his feet to snug up his blackened socks.  Satisfied with the lower extremities, he shrugged off his heavily stained jacket, peeled off a ragged sweater to     reveal a dirty, yellowish white undergarment that was split half way down the back.  He scratched himself delicately in select spots, rearranged the upper garments and settled back to enjoy a        well-earned smoke. 

His respite was brief.  A woman took the now empty spot to his left.  She rattled open her NY TIMES.  Instantly alert to this new opportunity, he craned his head toward her newspaper and read along with her as he smoked.  With a New Yorker’s indifference to such suffering she tolerated him.  He billowed smoke past her face.  He was patient and polite.  He didn’t ask for a section of the paper.  Neither did he indicate that he wasn’t keeping up with her speed reading.

I watched him until time for my train.  I went back and forth from amusement to fascination to disgust.  I had to fight that.  Sure, he was dirty and unkempt and unproductive, but he was still a man for all that.  He was doing no harm, making no demands, issuing no decrees.  He was simply an honest bum. 

Uncontrollably, I tried to catch his eye as I sat up to go to my train.  There was no eye contact.  He was too engrossed in his neighbor’s copy of “Spring Fashions.”

Moaning on the Droning

Answar al-Awlaki is no longer among us.  This radical Muslim cleric and imam met his end when, toward the close of September, a drone caught him in his ancestral home in Yemen where he had been hiding and plotting. Why waste ink on him?  Well, he was a traitor, born in the U.S. in 1971, but spent much of his childhood and early youth in Yemen.  He returned to America, earned a degree in engineering at Colorado State, a Master’s in education at San Diego State, and did doctoral studies in education at George Washington University. 

He was an excellent speaker, able to emotionally move non-Arabic speaking young Muslim men.  His major thrust was motivational.  Because of his in-depth readings about Islamic concentration on jihadism and mujaheedism, his emphasis on such made him an outstanding recruiter. He did a good job preaching on vice and sin also, but the fleshpots got to him and he was arrested twice in San Diego for soliciting prostitutes. Ordinarily, he refused to shake hands with a woman. 

Awlaki felt the heat of the FBI on his trail so he moved on to England for a couple of years and then to Yemen.  He quickly rose in the eyes of Al Queda as a planner.  By 2009, he was a Regional Commander and had a hand in the operations against the U.S.  He influenced the Army doctor who shot up Fort Hood.  He motivated some of the plane-jackers who made 9/11 a sadness.  He inspired the underwear bomber.  The carbomber in Times Square was  his also.  For an American citizen, Awlaki was a busy enemy of his country. 

It is perplexing, then, to hear about those legal beavers here who became concerned about our President signing a memorandum which permitted covert action to rid us of Awlaki.  Instead of seeing him as an enemy of our country in this war with Islamic extremists, they thought of him as an American citizen who should have been tried in court.  These scholars evidently didn’t give much thought to the infeasibility.  Capturing Awlaki in Yemen would have been next to impossible. It would have been better had  they thought of the thousands of Americans who have died because of Awlaki.  Legal wrangling may be appealing to some, but it does little to comfort the grieving.

Let’s have no moaning over the droning.

 

Honoring Our Own

October seventh was a day of adventure, excitement and reflection for our own Ralph Moor, P.C. He was honored by South Georgia College for his many years of support. An economics classroom was named for him at a luncheon attended by family, students, faculty and the administration of the school. After which, he was given a personal tour of the campus.

 Ralph developed an outline for a course to be taught in his newly named classroom to teach young people to stay out of debt and live debt free lives.  He urges them to make money your servant and not your master.  These and other words of wisdom are included in his “Immutable Laws of Economics”, was quoted by the President of the college at the luncheon.

 Ralph taught economics and was the academic dean at South Georgia College for three years in the late forties following three years in Washington D.C and Winder, Georgia as executive secretary in the office of Senator Richard B. Russell.

 It was a fitting honor for this spry gentleman of 98 (going on 99). At an age most of us will not get to, he continues to lead the way.  Well done Ralph Moor.

 

"... but words will never hurt you"

        How is your Arabic?  I’ll bet that you are familiar with these words that appear almost daily in our lives:  Hamas; Hezbollah; Taliban; Al Quaida; jihad; fatwa; mujahid; qu’an; Sharia; Shiite; Sunni; imam; Islam; Muslim; infidel; Allah.  There are others, but these will do as starters.

        Why should we bother ourselves with these words?  We see them; we hear them.  Maybe we grow weary or leery of them.  Well, some wise person long ago told us that we should always know as much as possible about our enemies.  Familiarity with key words such as the above, then, should help us when we read about or listen to accounts of the doings of jihadists or imams or what the Shiites think of the Sunnis.  It’s a busy world out there in the Middle East.  We have to keep up to know our enemy.

         In recent past issues of this newsletter, I have tried to emphasize that this war with Islamic extremists has been going on for quite a stretch and, I fear, will go on ad infinitum.  Why the pessimistic view?  Simply put, we are not at war with a state with which we could negotiate.  We are at war with zealots who use religion like a virus that builds a burning fever in more than a billion of the faithful.  Through the hot teachings of the Imams, those who do not embrace Allah and the Sharia and the Qu’an are infidels and are to be dealt with harshly.  Christians and Jews are the prime infidels.  Even fellow Muslims who don’t embrace the cause are also up for extinction. 

         There are Muslims living here in the U.S.  Are they in on this centuries old jihad?  We can’t think that way.  We’d be called racists or alarmists.  Here’s something, however, that is reality: some recent surveys found that roughly 8% of American Muslims go along with the use of suicide bombings to protect Islam.  A much smaller slice looks with favor on the doings of Al Quaida.  Our President Obama claims that we have close to 7 million Muslims in our country.  Take a little slice of that pie and you have quite a piece to handle.  Pew Research gives us the survey.

         If you need a state to look at as a threat during these troubled times, hold off on China because we owe her too much money.  Russia?  We are still keeping her happy with concessions.  Pakistan?  We have to give her a back rub until we finish in Afghanistan.  Ah, here’s one to concentrate on—Iran.  It’s racing toward nuclear power and giving Israel and the U.S. the back of its hand – and it’s Islamic.

                 “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you.”

 Well, that’s still true physically – but building your vocabulary to understand your enemy makes words important. 

 

The Old Order Changeth

Change is part of life.  It happens.  Some folks long for it.  Others resent it.  Most of us “go along to get along.”

Institutions such as the military that are steeped in tradition consider change only after close study and trials.  For example, our Navy is about to assign six women junior officers to duty on submarines.  Now, that is a tremendous change.  Submarine duty has always been for men only.  The Silent Service is viewed as an elite branch of the Navy.  Let’s have a quick look at what these six women officers will have to live up to.

These six female officers, more than likely engineering grads from Annapolis, will be assigned in pairs to three unnamed subs.  If the assignment is to an Attack sub, they will be on a “boat” a bit longer than a football field and about 30 feet wide.  They will be joining 12 male officers and 127 enlisted men.  They will find that the entire crew is highly trained, knowledgeable, disciplined, and strictly volunteers.  They will learn that each crew member not only knows his job but also the job of another, in case of an emergency. 

These women will be “housed” in Officer Country, of course, but they will discover that only the Captain and Executive Officer have staterooms.  They will have to double up for sleeping space.  Silence is a must, so they will have to wear sneakers.  Uniforms for all consist of body-wrapping coveralls called “poopy suits.” There is only one “head” for officers so the ladies will have to watch for the sign on the door: ”In use.” The work day is 16 hours long.  Off duty time is generally spent studying one’s job or that of  others.  If the assignment is to a Guided Missile sub, they’ll be in a larger “boat” but the demands are the same.

What does this experiment in change mean?

Well, it means that if the assignment of women officers to sub duty is successful, it may broaden the assignment possibilities for all women in the Navy. 

Will there be problems?  Of course.  That’s why the trial is meaningful.  Will enlisted women be assigned to sub duty if this experiment is      successful?  Probably not.  The enlisted area is crowded.  Sleeping space is at a premium.  Privacy is virtually unattainable. 

It’s fair to ask, as Navy wives probably do, what about romance? I would guess that those “poopy suits” will outscore raging hormones!

For more accurate insights on this experiment, I refer you to our own former high ranking Navy Officers: Captains Dave Williamson, Bill Baker, Billy Roberts, Norm Harbaugh, Walter Buchanan, and Lt. Commander, Harry Mahoney.

 

Service Officer News - September 2011

What is a VA Non-Service Connected Pension for Veterans?

The pension is a benefit paid to wartime veterans who have limited or no income, and is age 65 or older, or, if under 65, who are permanently and totally disabled. Veterans who are more seriously disabled may qualify for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits. These are benefits paid in addition 0 the basic pension rate.

Who is eligible?

Generally, you may be eligible if you were discharged from the service under conditions other than dishonorable and you served at least 90 days of active military service 1 day of which was during a war time period. If you entered service after September 7, 1980, generally you must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty ( there are exceptions to this rule ),

AND your countable family income is below a yearly limit set by law (The yearly limit on income is set by Congress),

AND you are 65 or older, OR you are permanently and totally disabled, not due to your own willful misconduct.

As you can see, there are a number of criteria that may affect your eligibility to pension benefits.  From time to time I will expand upon these.  I will also inform you of the names of companies or  services that will provide you, as a veteran, monetary discounts.

 

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