24- Airborne officer to deploy in the 505th PIR – interview with Major Crispin Burke

March 20th, 2015

In this episode, we pay honor to a current active duty Airborne officer, Major Crispin Burke. We trace his background from ROTC to various training and vital assignments, including that of a pilot of Blackhawk helicopters for different units in the Army — especially overseas in the middle of the decade-long conflicts.

We met Major Burke when he was adjutant to LTG William Caldwell, when the latter was Commanding General of Fort Sam Houston and the 5th Army, aka US Army North. Major Burke was instrumental in representing LTG Caldwell’s office at various ceremonies, memorials and meetings to honor the WWII Airborne and Infantry combat veterans.

 As an Army Aviation officer, Major Burke has served with many units, including the 10th Mountain Division and other support elements in the Aviation and UAV environment. He is Airborne qualified, and his next assignment (barring any emergency redeployment from the Army) will be a Brigade Aviation officer in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. MAJ Burke Bio Crop_________________________________________

The book to which Major Burke refers in the interview is titled FOUR STARS OF VALOR: The Combat History of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II.

4 Stars of Valor book cover___________________________

As you will hear in this audio episode, the last time we gathered with Major Burke was at the 2012 December CG Reception at Fort Sam Houston. Major Burke honored our 82nd Airborne Division Association Alamo chapter senior veteran member, D. G. Harris of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, aka “Devils in Baggy Pants” (who had 3 combat jumps in WWII, with a beach landing at Anzio, as well as fighting in the Battle of the Bulge).

____________________________

We wish Major Burke the best of luck and happiness with his military career (especially in the 82nd Airborne Division), his writing endeavors, and most of all — his future teaching career and possible podcasting.

 Select this link to listen to the audio episode in another window.

Copyright (c) 2015, Matrix Solutions Corporation and Crispin Burke. All rights reserved.

23- Airborne trooper becomes publisher, entrepreneur and podcaster – Tom Morkes

November 26th, 2014

Discipline, drive, organization, integrity and professionalism — these are the characteristics for successful entrepreneurship. These are also the cornerstones of Tom Morkes for his successful career in the US Army in logistics, especially in the war zone of the Middle East. Tom was deployed to Iraq with the 2nd Infantry Division.  Also, he joined the 5th Special Forces Group (an airborne unit) as an S-3 in the GSB (a logistics support battalion) in the last year in which he was in the Army, although he did not deplay with that unit.

Once a graduate of West Point in 2008 — and now once again a civilian — Tom has successfully made the transition to an entrepreneur as a  publisher, podcaster, author, consultant and role model. This is his story.

Tom Morkes- then and now

As you will hear in this audio episode, challenges and obstacles and problems are expectations that are met with adjustments, changes and creativity in adapting to the new situation — which are the manners to overcome.

Tom is pursuing his entrepreneurship and provides consultation to veterans about entrepreneurship and business training for those who want to transition out from the Army — as well as  strategies for success.

Tom can be contacted at:

www.tommorkes.com.

 

Select this link to listen to the audio episode in another window.

Copyright (c) 2014, Matrix Solutions Corporation. All rights reserved.

22- WWII Airborne Infantryman tells his story of “Market Garden”

November 14th, 2013

To listen to the audio podcast, select this link.

In this episode, we highlight the story of Walter Hughes, a World War II Combat Infantryman and Paratrooper.

At 18 years old, he jumped from a C47 Aircraft behind the German enemy lines during Operation Market Garden, the invasion of Holland by the American, British and Polish forces on 17 September 1944. He was also in the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division (also known as the “Devils in Baggy Pants.”

He was one of the paratroopers that made the daylight assault on Nijmegen bridge across the Waal River. This heroic, but costly, action was depicted in the 1977 motion picture, A Bridge Too Far.

Walter Hughes joins the other 2 members that we have highlighted in this podcast series for their heroism and bravery in combat when they were Airborne Combat Infantrymen of the 82nd Airborne Division, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and who also made the suicide daylight assault on the Nigmegen bridge:

Darrell G. Harris, who made 3 combat jumps with the 82nd Airborne (Sicily, Salerno and Holland), as well as the Anzio beach landing and fought in the Battle of the Bulge;

and

– the late Al Essig, who made all 4 combat jumps with the 82nd Airborne Division (Sicily, Salerno, Normandy and Holland), and who was a prisoner of war in late 1944 until 1945.

We have highlighted these 2 WWII Veterans in earlier episodes of this podcast. They also were the first to have earned the CIB (Combat Infantryman’s Badge) in 1943 with their combat jumps.

The story of Walter Hughes and his trip into combat during Operation Market Garden in September of 1944 is told in a 22-minute video at this URL:

http://nralifeofduty.tv/patriot-profiles/video/walter-hughes-a-veteran-s-memories/list/a-veterans-memories

 

(by the way, we thank www.nralifeofduty.tv for publishing and sharing on the Internet this video for all to view)

As a final note, we remind you that Darrell G Harris had written his story in his book, CASABLANCA TO VE-DAY: A PARATROOPER’S MEMOIRS. This goes into detail about his enlistment into the US Army, his training as a paratrooper, and his combat experiences in Africa and Europe with the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division.

We honor the WWII veterans who are still able to share their stories and camaraderie with us, as they are now in their twilight years. It is fitting that we salute them during this month of November, 2013, especially in memory of Veterans Day.

Copyright (c) 2013, Matrix Solutions Corporation and www.nralifeofduty.tv. All rights reserved.

21- New Commander for Alamo Chapter – J.D. Williamson

February 20th, 2013

   ALAMO CHAPTER ELECTS NEW CHAIRMAN – J.D. WILLIAMSON:

James D. Williamson – Chapter Chairman for 2013

On 24 January 2013, we confirmed the nomination of James D. Williamson for Chapter Chairman.

J.D. agreed to step up to the leadership position, and thus, the Alamo Chapter members at the meeting elected him Chapter Chairman for 2013.

J.D. joined the Army in 1973 from Miami, Florida, and served with the 82nd Airborne Division starting in 1974. During his military career, he was with the 1st Bn, 504th PIR.

 

He joined our chapter in February, 2012.

J.D. has been with the U.S. Border Patrol and has held various positions in law enforcement. He is currently a Lieutenant serving with the Texas Travis County Sheriff’s Department, and we thank him for both his military and law enforcement service.

J.D. lives in Kyle, TX, with his wife, Roya (who has attended our meetings in the past as a guest with J.D. — both in Austin and San Antonio).

After the election meeting, the chapter began to implement a Transition Plan. This included delivering the “gavel” of authority for the Chairman, the leader’s briefcase and Chapter Handbook and responsibility for the Alamo Chapter funds.

As of 24 January 2013, Fred Castaneda has stepped down as Chairman and is now a Trustee (per the by-laws, which state that the prior Chairman serve as Trustee).

The other officer positions are those of Secretary-Treasurer and Vice-Chairman. These will be addressed at the next several meetings in 1Q2013. In the meantime, Al Pike and Matt Rayson remain as Trustees.

The events during 2013 in which the chapter plans to participate — as well as the proposed schedule for chapter meetings in 2013 — were documented in the Chapter newsletter and sent to the membership via email.

Welcome and congratulations to J. D. Williamson.

Airborne! All the Way!

20- In Memoriam – Bob Bingham; also Veterans Day and CG Reception

December 24th, 2012

In this episode of the Alamo Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division, we commemorate the memory of one of the charter members — one of the founders of the Alamo Chapter — Bob Bingham.

Bob had been a charter member of the Alamo Chapter, as he helped to establish and grow the organization. He had also held offices in the chapter, and the last one was that of Vice-Chairman in 2008-2009. Bob had participated in meetings, parades, JR. ROTC and other community service programs.

Bob passed away on 18 December 2012, as he had been treated with dialysis during the prior year. He is survived by his wife, Frances. Both Bob and Frances were San Antonio residents. The remembrance ceremony is a private event and he will be honored at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

__________________________________________________________

VETERANS DAY 2012

The Alamo Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division also participated in the Veterans Day celebrations. In  San Antonio, D.G. Harris drove his Roadster in the parade.

In Austin, Matt Rayson, Dennis Dezso and James D. Williamson marched in the parade. They then participated in the ceremony at the south steps of the Texas State Capitol Building.

_____________________________________________________

Chapter meeting – December 2012

On 8 December 2012, the chapter met for the final meeting of 2012 at VFW Post 8787 in Austin. There were no new officers to install at this time. Matt Rayson, Dennis Dezso and Fred Castaneda enjoyed the social hour in a pot-luck lunch after the chapter business meeting.

___________________________________________________

CG RECEPTION AT FORT SAM HOUSTON, TX.

On 15 December 2012, several members of the chapter were invitees to the Commanding General’s reception at Fort Sam Houston. The host was our senior active duty member, LTG William B. Caldwell, IV,  at his post home to the chapter members Darrell G. Harris, Matt Rayson and Fred Castaneda.

It was our privilege to attend such a fine event, and we felt honored to do so. We thank LTG Caldwell for his support and camaraderie.

Copyright (c) 2012, 82nd Airborne Division Association Alamo chapter. All rights reserved. Photo, above, by Sgt. Lee Ezzell, Command Photojournalist, US Army North (5th Army).

 

19- 91st Birthday for 82nd Airborne Trooper – and ‘Welcome Home, Vietnam Veterans’

November 5th, 2012

(Editor’s note: There is no audio episode for this post, as the narrator was suffering from respiratory illness. As a Vietnam Veteran, he was suffering from complications of respiratory problems from Agent Orange exposure while a combat infantryman in Vietnam)

 BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION FOR D.G. HARRIS HELD AT DROP ZONE CAFÉ:

On Monday, 15 October 2012, at 12:00 noon, there was a BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION FOR DARRELL G. HARRIS, our senior Veteran member of the Alamo chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association.

Over 20 invitees attended this celebration with camaraderie at the DROP ZONE CAFÉ in San Antonio, Texas. D.G. Harris turned 91 years old on the 15th of October of 2012.

 

 LTG William B. Caldwell, IV, our senior active duty member, was the driving force in sponsoring this event, LTG Caldwell personally presented DG Harris with a gift (a special book signed by the author). Thanks to Association Chapter  new member Major Crispin Burke at Fort Hood, Texas,  for coordinating this celebration for the chapter.

Also in attendance was MG Guy S. Meloy (Ret.). Both MG Meloy and LTG Caldwell were past Division Commanders of the 82nd Airborne Division.

As you may know, DG Harris was one of the first paratroopers in WWII with the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) of the  82nd Airborne Division. DG made 3 combat jumps (Sicily, Salerno and Holland), as well as an Anzio beach assault and a critical defensive stand in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge.

 

We know that many of you have asked about D.G.’s book, CASABLANCA TO VE-DAY: A PARATROOPER’S MEMOIRS. DG Harris still has copies available for those who wish to purchase them (each copy $7 US). Please refer to episode 8 within this podcast series for details to contact DG Harris for a copy.

 

_________________________________________________

ALL ARE WELCOME TO ‘WELCOME HOME, VIETNAM VETERANS’ EVENT:

 On Wednesday, 7 November 2012, an event that is sponsored by Fort Sam Houston will honor and “WELCOME HOME, VIETNAM VETERANS.”  This will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War.

As you may know, the 82nd Airborne Division fought in Vietnam from 1968 for a couple of years.

All are welcome – Vietnam Veterans, friends, family, loved ones, significant others, etc.

A reception will be held in the Quadrangle at Fort Sam Houston after the formal event on the Staff Post Parade Field. The start time for the event will be 4:00 p.m. (1600 hrs.)

Copyright (c) 2012, Matrix Solutions Corporation.

18- Airborne Infantry Green Berets – Airborne Special Forces

August 31st, 2012

What does the CIB mean to combat veterans who were Green Beret Special Forces during the Vietnam war?

We get answers to this question from both Jon Ker and James Savell– Combat Infantrymen who earned the CIB after they volunteered to go to Vietnam as Airborne Special Forces.

This interview took place several days prior to the Lifetime Achievement recognition event at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, which was hosted by the Commanding General of US Army North – 5th Army, LTG William B. Caldwell, IV.

During this event, both Jon Ker and James Savell presented the 1st annual AL ESSIG AWARD to Darrell G. Harris (a WWII Airborne Combat Infantryman who had 3 combat jumps, a combat beach landing at Anzio and fought in the Battle of the Bulge). This award recognizes a local hero who served as an Airborne Combat Infantryman and served as a role model for Infantrymen and Paratroopers.

As you will hear in this audio episode, both men had different reasons for wanting to join the Special Forces and wear the coveted Green Beret back in the sixties.

Jon Ker had the incentive to become a Special Forces Green Beret soldier from the song by SSgt. Barry Sadler in the sixties called “The Ballad of the Green Beret.” And Jim Savell was already in the Army as an enlisted man who kept volunteering to become a Green Beret and go to Vietnam.

Copyright (c) 2012, Matrix Solutions Corporation. All rights reserved.

17- Being Airborne means Being “in Harm’s Way”- more than just combat – Jason Savell

August 17th, 2012

When we think of the term “being in harm’s way,” we mostly visualize combat infantrymen or others in the combat arms dealing with the enemy and exposing themselves to the risk of injury or death. However, in this episode, we see other dangers that face the Airborne soldier — even beyond the training parachute jumps.

These dangers lurk with the environment of massive movement of men, material, vehicles, aircraft and motion. As you will hear in this audio episode, Jason Savell describes his personal tragedy of such a danger when he was a paratrooper that was “in harm’s way.”

 As you will hear in this episode, Jason Savell was an infantryman in the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division when the tragic event occurred that severed his leg and forced him to use an artificial limb.

However, you will also hear how his attitude, his strength and resolution to be the best helped him to recover and reconstruct his life that is now filled with a wonderful family, respect from all, a great education and a stunning career that he enjoys.

Most notably apparent is the attitude and respect that he has for this father, James Savell, who was a Green Beret Special Forces soldier in the Vietnam War–as well as having served in the 82nd Airborne Division as an infantry paratrooper. This legacy of a military family continues, as Jason’s son is now in the Army and will seek service in the 82nd Airborne Division, as well.

Jason was present during the presentation of the 1st annual AL ESSIG AWARD to a role-model of an Airborne Infantryman. This took place at Fort Sam Houston when his father, James Savell, and Jon Ker (both from the Special Forces Association, Chapter 93 in Waco) delivered this to Darrell G. Harris, a WWII paratrooper and combat infantryman of the 82nd Airborne Division. And the gracious host for this event was LTG William B. Caldwell, IV, the Commanding General of US Army North – 5th Army (by the way, LTG Caldwell was a past Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division who also earned the CIB).

Jason now is in his path of education to complete his MBA and then go on to New Media and Social Media implementation, in addition to his career in reconstruction and refurbishment of dwellings.

We wish good luck to his son when he becomes part of the 82nd Airborne Division.

Copyright (c) 2012, Matrix Solutions Corporation and the 82nd Airborne Division Association Alamo Chapter. All rights reserved.

16- Past 82nd Abn Div Commander honors WWII Paratrooper – D.G. Harris

August 8th, 2012

For Airborne Paratrooper Combat Infantrymen in all campaigns, there are those who “set the standard” of service, dedication, contribution and heroism. This episode describes the honor given to Darrell G. Harris– a WWII veteran who was a combat infantryman and a paratrooper who served almost 3 years in Europe with the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (also known as “the Devils in Baggy Pants”) of the 82nd Airborne Division.

At Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in the office of LTG William B. Caldwell, IV, who is the Commanding General of US Army North (5th Army), an award and presentation ceremony took place on 13 July 2012.

The other presentations of awards, certificates and achievements came from a variety of Veterans organizations, as well as some from active duty.

Among the Veterans groups represented were:

– The 82nd Airborne Division Association, Alamo Chapter in San Antonio, Texas — Chapter commander Fred Castaneda; chapter Trustees Al Pike and Matt Rayson; and 82nd Airborne Division veteran Dennis Dezso; and 82nd Airborne Division Veteran from the 504th PIR, Jason Savell;

– The Combat Infantryman’s Association — National Commander Bill Cross; and local chapter Commander Tony Martinez of H21 Southern Branch, Division 4;

– The Special Forces Association, Chapter 93 in Waco, Texas — Commander James Savell and Secretary Jon Ker– who delivered to D. G. Harris the presentation of the 1st Annual AL ESSIG AWARD for outstanding service by an Airborne Infantryman to his country;

– The Americal Division Veterans Association — Association Adjutant Roger Gilmore;

– The media (in the form of the PAO of Ft. Sam Houston and the 5th Army or US Army North, as well as the journalists and photographers from the San Antonio Express newspaper.

The Active Duty organizations that also honored D.G. Harris with lifetime achievement awards were:

– The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina — with Major Roger Wang from the unit delivering in person the plaque (since D.G. Harris spent his time with the 82nd Airborne Division in the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment);

and finally,

– The event host, LTG William B. Caldwell, IV, Commander of US Army North (5th Army), and his administrative officer, Major Crispin Burke from Fort Sam Houston, Texas;

The CIB Association National Commander, Bill Cross, attended the event and presented D. G. Harris with a lifetime membership in the Combat Infantrymen’s Association (previously, D.G. Harris had been a veteran member of the Association since 2008). Bill was assisted in delivering this membership award by Tony Martinez, the Commander of H21 Southern Branch, Austin, Texas Chapter in Division 4.

Right after the presentation of awards to D. G. Harris, the CIB Association National Commander, Bill Cross, made an announcement to the host of the event, LTG Caldwell, that this Active Duty commanding officer will receive a lifetime membership, as well, to the Combat Infantrymen’s Association. LTG Caldwell is also a CIB recipient from his conflicts in Operations Desert Storm, OEF and OIF.

The event also had the attendance of LTG Caldwell’s staff, as they also thanked D. G. Harris for his selfless service. After the presentations were concluded and the press and Media had interviewed the participants and taken photos, the members of the Veterans organizations–along with Major Wang and Major Burke–met at the Drop Zone Cafe right outside Fort Sam Houston for a luncheon meeting and a time to socialize with other guests.

By the way, the Drop Zone Cafe is a shrine of memorabilia and photos that honors the Airborne Soldier — from the 1940 Test Platoon to the present day. At this meeting,  the final honors to Darrell G. Harris took place, and many of the attendees were looking to get a copy of his book.

The only sad part on this day was the absence of one of D. G. Harris’s comrade-in-arms, Al Essig, who passed away on 18 June 2012. However, with the Special Forces Association, Chapter 93, Al’s service will be remembered with a yearly presentation of the AL ESSIG AWARD to a deserving Airborne Infantryman.

Our salute to Darrell G. Harris, our chapter hero who set the standard as a Combat Infantryman and Paratrooper of the 82nd Airborne Division.

If you would like to see the photographs from that event, you can go to this site by this link:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/usarnorth/sets/72157630561144402/

Copyright (c) 2012, Matrix Solutions Corporation and the Combat Infantrymen’s Association and the 82nd Airborne Division Association. All rights reserved.

15- Memorial Day and a Tribute to a D-Day WWII Hero- Al Essig

June 13th, 2012

This episode delivers honor and recognition to a group of troopers, as well as to a single individual.

First, we wish to honor those who died in service to their country during all the wars and all the campaigns in the history of the USA.

We honored those who were KIA on 28 May 2012, at the Memorial Day 2012 ceremony at Cook-Walden’s Capital Parks cemetery in Pflugerville, Texas.  Not only did we lay the chapter’s wreath at the foot of the cross of the fallen Infantrymen (signified by the helmet, boots, pistol belt and rifle) during the final commemorative portion of the ceremony, but we also congregated with other veterans at the VFW Post 8787 location over lunch. This was a time of great camaraderie for all those who attended and participated in this event. Of course, our chapters were the only ones who came in combat uniforms, to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

______________________________________

Second,  we also wish to honor a local hero on the 68th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion during WWII — the combat parachute jump by the 82nd Airborne Division on D-Day, 6 June 1944. This hero is Al Essig, who was currently in the Waco, Texas, area.

Tony Martinez, CIB, as well as Major Burke and Matt Rayson of the 82nd Airborne Division Association, prepared the award certificate for Al Essig, to honor him for his achievements as an Airborne Infantry Paratrooper and Pathfinder.

Major Burke (adjutant for LTG Caldwell from the the 82nd Airborne Division), Matt Rayson, Fred Castaneda, and former comrade-in-arms, Darrell G. Harris, presented Al Essig (even though he was in a wheelchair and in ill health) with various certificates, awards and mementos of his achievements.

Among the items delivered to Al Essig were:

– A signed book by D.G. Harris titled CASABLANCA TO VE-DAY: A PARATROOPER’S MEMOIRS, and presented to Al by D.G. Harris;

- A CD with the audio narration of the D.G. Harris book, above;

– A letter of gratitude from LTG William Caldwell, commander of the US 5th Army, as well as a commemorative coin of the 5th Army, presented to Al by Major Crispin Burke, adjutant to LTG Caldwell. Major Burke also presented the audio CD to Al.

– A flag with the spirit of the Airborne, commemorating the D-Day jump on 6 June 1944 in the invasion of Normandy, presented by Matt Rayson;

– A certificate of Appreciation and membership in the Combat Infantrymen’s Association, presented to Al by Tony Martinez; and

– The jump wings with the 4 combat jump bronze stars, presented to Al by Fred Castaneda.

– Lastly, the Pathfinder’s badge was presented to Al by CSMG Coleman from Fort Hood, Texas.

______________________________

You can listen to the audio recording of the ceremony for Al Essig by using the following link:

___________________________________

Al Essig’s Awards, Badges and military achievements

______________________

We salute Al Essig, as well as Darrell G. Harris, for their dedication, heroism and commitment during the combat operations in WWII with the 82nd Airborne Division. And we thank John Ker, who was the organizer of the event in Waco (by the way, Mr. Ker is with the Special Forces Veterans group in Waco, and he himself has 2 CIB awards, as well as jumpmaster parachute wings).

By the way, Al Essig’s experiences as a POW are highlighted in the book called STRIKE AND HOLD: A MEMOIR OF THE 82ND AIRBORNE IN WORLD WAR II by T. Moffatt Burriss.

(you can order this book from www.amazon.com)

Airborne! All the Way!  for our local heroes.

Copyright (c) 2012, 82nd Airborne Division Association. All rights reserved.