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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted 1 month ago at 12:06 pm.

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Defenders Day at Fort McHenry 09 SEP 2017

A Historic Celebration – Fortified!

 

Fort-McHenry-aerial

 

 

Celebrated annually to commemorate the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, Defenders Day is a Maryland holiday celebrated in 2017 on 12 September in which Fort McHenry played a pivotal role in the success of that battle.  The British with their array of warships in the harbor bombarded the fort repeatedly during the battle.   The soldiers of the fort responded in kind with a steady barrage and the Americans were victorious.

 

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Posted 3 months ago at 6:43 am.

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Rangers Lead the Way – A Ranger is Laid to Rest

29 November 2016 – Beaufort National Cemetery

In a military honors ceremony, a hero was laid to rest today.   One who gave more than his twenty years of service in the US Army.

major gerard m devlin

MAJOR Gerard “Jerry” M. Devlin USA Ret. fought in two wars – Korea and Vietnam – it was a tour in Vietnam where he earned the Distinguished Service Cross awarded for his gallantry and valor during that conflict.  Beyond his service to the United States – his twenty years in the US Army, he became an author and military historian.

I met Jerry at an event commemorating Operation Dragoon, the second invasion of France during WW II.  He was introduced as the author of the book Paratrooper considered “The Bible of the Airborne”.  As I was in midst of completion of my first book Images of America  – Fort Myer, I shared that I was a new soon-to-be-published author. That was the beginning of a great friendship which was much more with his sage advice and insights.

 

I secured a copy of Paratrooper and immediately delved into the book.  I found it to be well presented and very informative.   Since Jerry lived in South Carolina and I was heading there in a few months, I contacted him to get the book autographed. What was supposed to be “over coffee” turned out to be a rather significant meeting. It also included LTG E. M. “Fly”  Flanagan, who commanded the Special Forces of the US Army in 1968 to 1971 and the author of the book Airborne.

The friendship continued and the coaching about the publishing world along with tips about successful book promotion came along with it.  Much sage advice was provided.  My annual trips to South Carolina always included some time with Jerry.  He also expanded my network in many ways, including befriending the command historian of the XVIII Airborne Corps.

We had what I believe a very symbiotic friendship. My second book,  Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair has been a great success with the insights and coaching from Jerry.   While he was working on a book about LTG William P. Yarborough,  The Father of the Modern Green Berets, I would locate items that might have been of interest or spoken to someone who had contact with the general.

I am thankful to have met him and shared many wonderful minutes with him.  He’ll be sorely missed.

I set up a memorial to Jerry on Find-A-Grave’s website

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Posted 1 year ago at 2:00 pm.

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Senator Cotton Speaks to the Society of the Honor Guard

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Tom Cotton It was COL Neale Crosby who wrote some very touching words about “Why We Guard the Tomb” Recently Senator Tom Cotton shared the following words with the Sentinels who have and are guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns:

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Posted 1 year ago at 2:37 pm.

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Words From the Chief

GEN Mark Milley Chief of Staff

 

 

At the recent Association of the US Army Annual Meeting held in Washington DC, General Mark Milley, the 39th Chief of Staff of the US Army addressed a group of attendees at a luncheon.

Among his words in that speech were the following:

 

“We’re the United States Army. And our enemies need to know these colors don’t run from tough fights. We will adapt and we will evolve our current force.  But in the end, we will win. That much I can tell our enemies … They can take it to the bank.”

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Posted 1 year, 2 months ago at 2:26 pm.

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2016 US Army Band Concert – 1812 Overture

US Army Band 2016 Concert

 

 

 

 

 

AN ANNUAL EVENT

The final event of the summer of The US Army Band – “Pershing’s Own”  accompanied by the Presidential Salute Battery of the 3d Infantry Regiment of the US Army – “The Old Guard”is an annual concert on the Washington Mall at the Sylvan Theater (near the Washington Monument) Among appearances by the Herald Trumpets and the US Army Band Chorus, it features the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky – the “Guns Platoon”  providing live cannon fire with their WW II vintage M5’s  – 3″ anti-tank guns.

Watch the Video

If you couldn’t make it to the National Mall for the nearly 90 minutes of music, here is the video provided by the folks at DVIDS…

 

“GUNS RUN LONG!!!”

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Posted 1 year, 4 months ago at 8:06 am.

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ON POINT BOOK REVIEW – Fort Lesley J McNair

Who Was General Lesley J. McNair

Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair was commander of ground forces during WW II.  He was killed in France during that war and his remains stayed in France, Where he trained the troops for that war is the only US Army Post in Washington, DC  and is named in his honor.

Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair

Images of America - Fort Lesley J McNair

ON POINT is the Journal of the Army Historical Foundation. The Summer 2016 issue of the journal from the Army Historical Foundation contains a review of the book by John Michael “Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair”  Beginning in 1791 when Major Charles Pierre L’Enfant designed the New Capital City of Washington DC.  It began as “Reservation #05”  – only 28 acres where a single artillery tube with earthworks was placed to defend the Capital City.  Over time, the US Army Post was known by many different names – During the Civil War it was Washington Arsenal and where the first federal penitentiary was built – the location of where the Lincoln Assassination conspirators were incarcerated, tried and hanged.  Later it became Washington Barracks and site of the US Army Engineering Schools.  When Roosevelt Hall was built, it became the home of the US Army War College.  A brief time, it was named Fort Humphreys and finally Fort Lesley J. McNair.   Home to the National Defense University and its colleges – including the National War College.  It is also where the Military District of Washington is headquartered and the US Army Center of Military History occupies a building that was first the Quartermaster stables then the post’s movie theater.  When the US Army abandoned Fort Hunt Virginia, the US Army Band – “Pershing’s Own” and the US Army Music School was located at Washington Barracks (Fort Lesley J. McNair) before relocated to Fort Myer by the order of General George C Marshall. Likewise, for many years after the regiment was re-activated in 1948, Alpha and Echo Companies of the 3d Infantry – “The Old Guard” were stationed here.

READ THE REVIEW – BUY THE BOOK

You can read the review here at the Historic Fort McNair website  An autographed copy of the book is available also here.

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Posted 1 year, 4 months ago at 12:50 pm.

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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

MORE PHOTOS MORE MESSAGES …   MORE

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

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Posted 1 year, 6 months ago at 1:20 pm.

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National Medal of Honor Day 2016

National Medal of Honor Day

National Medal of Honor Day

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Posted 1 year, 8 months ago at 6:09 am.

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Another “First” at Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery - Amphitheater

Arlington National Cemetery – Amphitheater

For those of you who have visited this website often, you know the love and admiration I have for Arlington National Cemetery and since June of 2010 with the new management, things have gotten so much better!

Over the last decade plus, the hours which I’ve walked and worked among  those acres of heroes at rest are countless, but each time it’s a place that I welcome to visit time and time again.

I spent St. Patrick’s Day 2013 in a very unusual and festive way… It was truly an honor to be selected to photograph the change of responsibility and  retirement of  an US Army Airborne Ranger …  at the Amphitheater of Arlington National Cemetery.  When President Woodrow Wilson dedicated it in May of 1920, it became a place where special events happen. These include: Sunrise Service on Easter Sunday, Memorial Day remembrance in May and honoring those who served in November on Veterans’ Day.  It would be later that year in 1920 that the first Unknown Soldier would be interred.

But back to the historic event …  it was a first … a first time that such an event would happen, where the echoes of great events still resonate within the marble structure.  On 17 MAR 2013… new echoes would join them…

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Posted 4 years, 8 months ago at 10:08 am.

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