Photography by John Michael

"Preserving the memories so others will remember"™

Veterans Day 2017

WW II Pacific

What the Veteran Sees

Live as brave men, the gaunt gray man said with sunken eyes.
Go in the direction of thunder at whatever cost. As if describing some deadly game.
At daybreak, we charged together, through the trees. Side-by-side–into a hive of angry bees.
A sudden taste of baptismal fire. Visceral images of friends in elegant repose.
Flowing like mist over muddy fields of red. Below a dark, empty sky.
The symphony of guns fades away. And we the living are left to see what we cannot yet conceive.
The memories of comrades, and their acts of bravery. Hopelessly conflict with all that we have lost.
Incongruous, familiar faces, seen through granite, grey, and black. Fade away like smoke, in the trees–where eagles lay.
— John Fenzel, Veterans Day 2017
 Green Beret with Distinctive Unit Insignia and Flash

About John Fenzel

John Fenzel is a retired senior Army Special Forces officer who has served on battlefields throughout the world. He has served on the personal staff of the Secretary of Defense, as a Special Assistant to the Vice President, as a strategic planner for the Chief of Staff of the Army, and as a White House Fellow during the Clinton and Bush administrations.

He commanded a Special Forces Battalion at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and an Army brigade at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  In the wake of the 9-11 attacks, he served as Staff Director for Tom Ridge in the Homeland Security Council. He was the principal architect of The Homeland Security Advisory System, our nation’s first public warning system for terrorist threats. He is the author of the critically acclaimed thriller, The Lazarus Covenant.

In his 30 years of military service, John has served in numerous command and staff positions around the world.  During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, he commanded a Special Forces “A-Team,” training, equipping and advising a Kuwaiti Battalion and accompanying them during the liberation of Kuwait. He has commanded three Special Forces companies, leading the first Army deployments to Pakistan and the Baltic States. In Bosnia, he commanded the special operations teams in the U.S. and British sectors, working closely with the United Nations to secure the indictments and convictions of those responsible for war crimes in Srebrenica.  He is the only active duty American military officer to testify at The Hague in support of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

John is a graduate of the Naval War College and the National War College*. Born in Iowa and raised outside Chicago, John lives with his wife and three children in Annapolis, Maryland.  The Sterling Forest is his second novel.


My Connection to COL John Fenzel

When two paths cross, one never can anticipate the outcome of the encounter. That was the case when I met COL John Fenzel. Our first face-to-face meeting occurred downtown Washington DC near the Army Navy Club. I had brought with me one of the recent ANC Memorial books that I had prepared from a final honors ceremony of a Special Forces Soldier. The reaction was unexpected, but in the next moment, I was the proud recipient of a US Army Accessions Command challenge coin. What later followed was a series of events at Fort Bragg, NC, Andrews Air Force Base and Patuxent Naval Air Station with the US Army’s ambassadors from the skies – The Golden Knights.

Another one of those events was the Army Strong Experience in 2009 held at Fort Meade, Maryland where over several days I was made “Army Stronger” as then the Secretary of the Army, Pete Geren described the results of the exposure on the participants. In addition to another exposure to the Golden Knights, I soon learned about and got involved with the US Army Marksmanship Unit, which is headquartered at Fort Benning, Georgia. It was established by President Dwight D, Eisenhower in 1956 to highlight the proficiency of marksmanship in the Army.

COL Fenzel opened some doors that let me see a part of the US Army that is truly special.

Thank you, COL Fenzel!


*The National War College is headquartered at Roosevelt Hall and one of the colleges of the National Defense University at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, DC











Posted 3 months, 1 week ago at 12:06 pm.

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Since the inception of the US Army in 1775, there was never a single flag identifying the entire Army,   That changed in 1956 when President Dwight D.


US ARMY FLAG with Streamers

Eisenhower issued an executive order establishing the US Army flag.  What follows below is a fact sheet published by the Quartermaster Corps.

“Office of The Quartermaster General
Washington D.C.
1 June 1957

 The United States Army Flag was officially adopted by order of President Dwight D. Eisenhower through Executive Order No. 10670, on June 12, 1956.

The newly adopted flag was presented by Vice President Richard Nixon to Secretary of the Army Wilber M. Brucker at a ceremony at the Capitol, Washington DC, on June 13, 1956. On the following day, June 14, Flag Day and also the 181st anniversary of the establishment of the Army the United States Army Flag was unfurled at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, in connection with public a public address by Secretary Brucker.

The United States Army came into being by the action of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, and two years later, on June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress officially adopted the Stars and Stripes as the Flag of the United States.

Although various elements of the Army, from groups and corps down to separate battalions, have their own colors and distinguishing flags, none has previously served the  US Army as a whole. The new United States Army flag is designed to meet the need for a flag which will represent the entire Army on appropriate occasions.

The Army flag is made up in the National colors red, white, and blue, with a yellow fringe.  It is the standard size for colors: 4 feet, 4 inches hoist and 5 feet 6 inches fly.  It bears 145 streamers (Note: as of 1998, there are 172 streamers)of ribbons representing the campaigns in which the Army has participated since its inception.  (As of 2016  there are 189 campaign streamers.)

The flag is made of white silk, upon which is embroidered in blue, a replica of the official seal of the War Office. Beneath the seal is a broad scarlet scroll bearing the inscription in white letters, “United States Army”.  Beneath the scroll blue Arabic numerals, is “1775”, the year in which the Army was created with the appointment of General George Washington as Commander-in-Chief.

The original War Office seal, constituting the central design of the Army Flag was authorized by the Continental Congress on May 8, l779.  The seal is thus described:

“A cannon in front of a drum with two drumsticks; below the cannon three cannon balls. A mortar on a trunion and below the mortar two powder flasks. In the center a Roman breastplate over a jupon (leather jacket).  Above the breastplate rises a plain sword with the pommel and guard supporting a Phrygian cap between an espontoon (pike) and an organizational color on one side and a musket with a fixed bayonet and the National color on the other side.  Above is a rattlesnake holding in its mouth a scroll inscribed, ‘This We’ll Defend’ “.

The cannon balls and powder flasks are of the Revolutionary War type.  The Phrygian cap is the traditional symbol of liberty.

The War Office was at first officially known as “A Board of War and Ordnance.”  The third such Board appointed by Congress was succeeded on February 7, 1781, by a Secretary at War, which position was filled by the appointment of Major General Benjamin Lincoln on October 30 of the same yearHenry Knox was elected Secretary at War by Congress on March 8, 1785. He served through the period of the Articles of Confederation until the office was established as an executive department under the United States Constitution.  He thereby became the first Secretary of War.

The Department of War was created by Congress on August 17, 1789, and so remained until it was retitled Department of Army under the Unification Act of July 26, l947. Since the beginning, however, the seal of the War Office has continued to serve the Department of War and Department of the Army.US Amry flag with campaign streamers

The campaign streamers are attached below the spearhead of the flagstaff. Each steamer is 2 3/4 inches in width and 4 feet in length.  They are designed in the colors of the respective campaign ribbons and are embroidered with the designations of the campaigns and the years in which they took place.  The following colors are employed in design of the streamers representing major campaigns:

Revolutionary War: scarlet with a white stripe
War of 1812: scarlet with two white stripes
Mexican War: green with one white stripe
Civil War: blue and grey, equally divided
Indian Wars: scarlet with two black stripes
War with Spain: yellow with two blue stripes
China Relief Expedition: yellow with blue edges
Philippine Insurrection: blue with two red stripes
Mexican Expedition: Yellow with two green stripes and a blue stripe
World War I: double rainbow
World War II:
     American theater — blue with two groupings of white, black, red, and white stripes; with blue, white, and red in the center.
     European-African-Middle Eastern Theater — green and brown with two stripe groupings, one of green, white, red and the other of white, black, and white stripes; with blue, white, and red stripes in the center.
     Asiatic-Pacific Theater — orange with two white, red, and white stripe groupings; with blue, white, and red stripes in the center.
Korean Service: Light blue bordered on each side with white; with a white center stripe.


The Army flag was designed by the Heraldic Branch, Office of Research and Engineering, Office of The Quartermaster General. Research on background material was begun in July 1955, when a requirement for a United States Army flag was indicated by the Secretary of the Army. Several tentative designs were developed and from among these the design as adopted was selected by Secretary of the War Brucker.

The flag presented by Vice President Nixon to Secretary Brucker was hand embroidered by expert women needleworkers at the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot. Other hand embroidered flags were presented to President Eisenhower; the Chief Of Staff, U.S. Army; and for display in the Pentagon building corridor near the entrance to the office of the Secretary of the Army.

A limited number of additional flags have been made at the Philadelphia Depot. These additional flags, however, have the design appliqued rather than embroidered. The appliqued flags, without campaign streamers, were assigned to the various Army headquarters, service schools, and other locations designated by the Secretary of the Army”


Since this fact sheet was published, additional streamers have been added to identify additional campaigns.  These include

Vietnam: Yellow with green borders and three red stripes centered
Armed Forces Expeditions:
     Panama Light blue with a narrow blue, white and red stripe in the center. On each edge is a narrow green, yellow, red, and black stripe.
     Dominican Republic Light blue with a narrow blue, white and red stripe in the center. On each edge is a narrow green, yellow, red, and black stripe.




Here are a couple of books for further exploration

United States Army: The Definitive Illustrated History

AND from the Army Historical Foundation

U.S. Army A Complete History



Posted 1 year, 8 months ago at 6:33 am.

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GEN Eisenhower’s D-Day Words to the Troops

2016 JUN 6 –


It was seventy-two years ago that GEN Dwight D Eisenhower  issued the words below to the troops ready to execute D-Day…


A eisenhower letter 6 JUN 1944


This and more photos can be viewed in the exhibit prepared by the US National Archives.


Posted 1 year, 8 months ago at 1:20 pm.

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Fort Benning Doughboys Football – The Team of Fame


Fort Benning - Main Gate Sign

Fort Benning – Main Gate Sign

2012 OCT 07 Columbus, Georgia:  The 1962 All Service, Undefeated Fort Benning Doughboys Football Team began their 50th reunion weekend. First with a tour of the US Army’s premier post where many who have worn the uniform began their service to the United States of America.  THe Fort Benning Doughboys Football Team of that year holds a special distinction that has yet to be challenged over the five decades since the team of 1962 set it.  It was great that the current team (composed of active duty Soldiers) took time to honor them during their game that Sunday of the reunion weekend.

Continue Reading…


Posted 5 years, 4 months ago at 6:52 am.

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2009 – The Year of the NCO

The sergeant is the Army.

Dwight D. Eisenhower


Posted 8 years, 9 months ago at 5:30 am.

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"Unlike presidential administrations, problems rarely have terminal dates."

– Dwight D. Eisenhower

thirty-fourth President of the United States (1953-1961


Posted 9 years, 4 months ago at 5:16 am.

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The "Kansas Cyclone"

The 34th US President, Dwight David Eisenhower played football for the United States Military Academy at West Point where he was known as “The Kansas Cyclone” and ran seventy yards in a game against Yale in 1912. A knee injury in his second year ended his football career (but not his military career). Eisenhower went on to coach the Ft Benning Doughboys and during his military career arose to the Rank of General – Supreme Commander of the Allies in Europe during WW II and then later served two terms as President of the United States of America

In 1956, he established the marksman unit in the US Army that often provides keen competitors to the Olympics. They have brought back over 40 medals from those competitions, while acting as a research and improvement unit for the entire US Army. They’re based at Ft Benning, GA.

The distinction of the Ft Benning Doughboys is that the football team in the 1960s was undefeated.

I have one yardstick by which I test every major problem – and that yardstick is: Is it good for America?
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Posted 9 years, 6 months ago at 8:17 pm.

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Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

I’ve been doing some research and found this among the WW II archives. If you didn’t know Churchill, despite a rather challenging time in his youth with delivering everyday speech, became one of the most memorable speakers and statesmen.

He like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, were great leaders at the time. It’s sad we have few to none today of such caliber. Those who might be ascending to the leadership roles are tormented and torn down for their character and ethics.

Where are we headed?

Posted 9 years, 6 months ago at 8:47 pm.

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Dwight D. Eisenhower on the Total Effects of War…

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the lives of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children… this is not a way of life in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
– Dwight D. Eisenhower


Posted 9 years, 9 months ago at 8:14 am.

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The Fort Benning Doughboys…

I recently was asked by one of my friends to restore a photo of a championship football team from 1962 of the Fort Benning Doughboys. They were undefeated in their season and are planning a reunion later in 2008. It was a rewarding challenge to take a 40-year-old photo and bring it back to life in a current version.

The photo turned out so well, that I suggested to this fine athlete and retired US Army Special Forces officer that I could then turn it into a notecard. What you see below is my latest creation from that effort.

Fort Benning 1962 Football Team - All Service Champs and UNDEFEATED

Fort Benning 1962 Football Team – All Service Champs and UNDEFEATED

I also did some research about Fort Benning, located in Georgia, and found that the installation is located on what was originally farmland that previously contained many Native American settlements and has been a launching pad for many outstanding names in the annals of history — “Fort Benning’s long history has produced an impressive alumni list. Eisenhower coached its football team. Marshall rewrote the curriculum. Patton pushed men to prepare for battle. Bradley organized its Officer’s Training School, a source for men of rank in World War II. Powell and Schwarzkopf were honor graduates, as were Eaton and Freakley and other heroes from the sands of Iraq.”

Key to the success of the infantry of the US Army, soldiers learn how to jump from airplanes, the US Army Rangers are now there, and the powerful mobility of helicopters was discovered at “Benning”.   It is also home to the wonderful Infantry Museum that explores in-depth the contributions of the US Army Infantryman.

A very interesting book about the history of Fort Benning details the origins of the post back to its inception when it was established in 1918. It is named after Confederate General Henry L. Benning, who had lived in Columbus, Georgia and is Known as the “Home of the Infantry”.  Or if you like historical photographs, another book, “Images of America – Fort Benning” may be your item.



Posted 10 years ago at 12:46 am.