Monday, December 29, 2008

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Are You A Cold War Veteran?

We are the ignored "Cold Warriors", we served our tours during the Cold Warsrom Sept. 1945 to Dec. 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I would like to invite all those who served during this period to join the American Cold War Veterans.We are a VSO dedicated to researching and preserving the history of the Cold War.

One of our goals is to convince Congress to authorize and direct DOD to issue a Cold WarVictory Medal to everyone who served honorably durng the Cold War.Another goal, a long term goal, is to have a memorial dedicated to the Cold War errected inWashington, DC.

Please visit our website at www.americancoldwarvets.orgour message forum at our membership page at

Join us in our quest to honor all veterans of the Cold War, most especially those who paid theultimate sacrifice, laid down their lives to protect freedom and America.

There was a bill in the Senate, S.1097 The Cold War Medal that got as far as the Senate Armed ServicesCommittee, where it lay there gathering dust. Unfortunately it never got out of committee. So another year passes that we are ignored.

Now that the elections are over and Congress is in recess until January, we have to start again witha push, a large push. Everyone please write, call, fax your senators and represeentatives. Ask them toplease introduce legislation to direct DOD to issue a Cold War Victory Medal. Have it included in theNational Defense Authorization Act 2009, or to introduce a stand alone bill.

The Cold War Veterans of our country deserve to be recognized and remembered for their honorable anddistingushed service to the United States. Those who gave their lives to protect American, and thedefeat of Communism.

You were there, youy know the truth, even if the general public thnks it was "peace time" andnothing happened. No shots were fired is something we hear very often, but it is not true. Lives were lost,there are still MIA/POW's that need to be accounted for.
Thank you to all veterans of every era, our current military, and those to come who will carry onthe tradition.

Jerald Terwilliger
Vice ChairmanAmerican Cold War Veterans

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Little History

Just a few of the high points of the Cold War. Most of which are forgotten or ignored.
1945 February 4-11 The Yalta Conference Britian, Russia and USA devise plan to govern post-war Germany. Stalin promises fair elections in Poland.

1946 March 5, Winston Churchill declares the "Iron Curtain"

1947 March 12, President Truman requests money to fight Communism in Greece and Turkey. Pledges aid to any nation threatened by Communism.

1947 June 5 The Marshall Plan was started to aid nations ravaged by WWII, The Soviet Union and communist and Eastern Europe decline the aid.

1948 June 24 the Soviet Union blocks all road and rail traffic in Berlin. From June 1948 to May 1949 the US and Britian fly over 200.000 flights into Berlin deliverying over 1.5 million tons of supplies to Western Berlin.

1949 June Communist China declares victory over government of Chiang Kaishek which flees to Taiwan. On October Mao Tse-tung proclaims the Peoples Republic of China.

1950 June 25 North Korean Communists invade South Korea, June 27 President Truman orders US troops to assist South Korea. Chinese troops enter the conflict by the end of the year.

1952 November 1 the US explodes the first Hydrogen bomb, less than a year later the Soviets announce they had tested their first Hydrogen bomb.

1953 March 5 Joseph Stalin dies. On July 27 an Armistance is signed between North and South Korea; as of this date there is still no peace treaty. President became the first American President to threaten use of the Atomic Bomb. The cost of lives were 36,515, wounded 92,134 and MIA 8,156. It is estimated that ten million pepole lost their lives in the conflict.

1954 June 27 US sponsored forces topple government of Jacobo Guzman.
May 7 Vietnamese forces defeat the French at Dien Bien Phu. In July the Geneva Accords divide the country at the 17th parallel. The United States assumes chief responsibility of providing anti-communist aid to South Vietnam

1955 January 12, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles announces the doctrine of Massive Retalation, threating full scale nuclear attack on the Soviet Union in response to Communist agression anywhere in the world.

1956 February 14, Nakiti Krushchev denounces the policies of Stalin and rejects the Lennin idea of inevitable war

1957 October 4, the Soviet Union launches the first man made satellite, Sputnik into space.

1958 The U.S. creates NASA and the space race is in full force.

1959 January 1, Fidel Castro overthrows the Governernment of Cuba and signs trade agreements with the Soviet Union.

1960 May 1, Frances Gary Power flying a U2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union and captured.

1961 April 17, U.S. organized forces attempt to invade Cuba, three days later they surrender and admit defeat.

1961 August 15, the Soviet Union begins construction of the Berlin Wall to prevent East Germans from crossing into West Berlin.

1962 The Soviet Union installs nuclear missiles in Cuba, capable of reaching the United States.
on October 22 President Kennedy declares a blockade of Cuba. On October 28 the Soviets agree to dismantel their missiles. This ended the period of time in which the world was the closest to nuclear war.

This post is getting rather long so I will continue in another post.

A Personal Note

My son came to Maine from Indiana to spend Christmas with my wife and I. I think our four dogs and five cats were a little overwhelming at first.

It is a joy to have him with us. He has grown up into a fine young man, always willing to help anyone.

Will try to show him parts of Maine he has not seen before, or course it will depend on
the snow how much and how far we will travel.

Cold War Certificate

According to Peter Ogden, Director of Veterans Services, the State of Maine is trying to
bring about a "Cold War Certificate for all Maine Veterans who served honorably during the Cold War.

The prelimenary date will be May 1st, 200. This will coincide with the Maine declaration of May 1st as "Cold War Victory Day", a recurring day of celebration.

Jerald Terwilliger
National Vice Chairman
American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
"We Remember"

Dec. 25, 1991

President Mikhail Gorbachev went on television his resignation as the eighth and last
leader of the USSR.

It was largely a show as most of the Communist Block nations had alread
withdrawn and expressed thier desire for freedom.

It was the end of the Cold War, and we had won; truth and freedom prevailed. The world was
saved from "nuclear winter"

And you could continue to sleep safe in your beds thanks to all American Cold War Veterans.

New State Director

American Cold War Vetrans are pleased to announce that Jim Weller has been named
Pennyslvania State Director. We welcome Jim and look forward to working closely with
him in his new and challenging role.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cold War Memories

Cold War Memories
Jerald Terwilliger (RM1),
National Vice Chairman/Treasurer of American Cold War Veterans, Inc. © March 11, 2008

While I was still in High School during the late 1950’s, I was a Civil Defense volunteer. My station during Air Raid Drills was the Grade School very close to my home. I had the keys to the doors in case it was needed as a shelter. Of course the need never arose, so I just stood at the front door with my little armband and steel helmet. I probably looked pretty silly, but I did feel important.

Of course this was a period when the entire country wondered, worried and waited for the possible attack. I am sure a lot of people remember the “duck and cover” drills. School children hid under their desk or in hallway and covered their heads. It would not have helped any if there had been an actual atomic explosion. It was the best idea we had right then. It was a frightening ordeal, and I am sure many can still recall the sound of the siren blaring away. How many people had backyard or basement fallout shelters? No one knows for sure, but there were many. They ranged from a simple get under the workbench in the basement, to more sophisticated shelters dug in the ground; stocked with canned goods, water, flashlight, candles, a first aid kit, and transistor radio.

Our country lived in various amounts of fear and dread of the possibility of “Nuclear Winter”. We had faith in our country, our president, and our military. Fear and distrust of the Communists ran rampant. There was the black list of Hollywood, the McCarthy hearings, some wondering if the man next door was a possible spy. In all it was a very vivid and long lived era of our history.

I think this was a very large influence on my decision to join the U.S. Navy upon graduation. My older brother had joined the Navy which also led me to consider the Navy. I waited almost a year after graduation before taking the big step. It was not an easy thing, and I thought a great deal about it, what it might mean to me and my family.

I felt the need to serve my country growing stronger, wanting to do something right. So I enlisted in 1960, and thus began my ten year journey.

I went to Boot Camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Center. Some of the memories include being woken in the middle of the night for inspection, standing next to your bunk in skivvies holding the neck of your tee shirt out to show it was clean. Also standing guard in the rain beside the dumpster. Sure was a lot of fun, I recall washing our clothes by hand, hanging them in the drying room. To press our uniform we filled empty metal polish cans with hot water to use as an iron, with the uniform turned inside out to get the creases correct. Then the uniform was placed under the mattress and slept on, and you hoped it was not wrinkled in the morning.

Being the assorted clowns and misfits that we were our smoking lamp was out more than it was lit. That mean you can only smoke in certain places at specific times. Our company was well known for several weeks, and not in a good way. I think we did more marching on the parade ground then any other company in camp during that period. Russel’s Rejects I think we were called. But, we eventually got our act together and straightened up, after a few hours of doing PT with our rifles in the rain. We all managed to make it through the 12 weeks and graduate together.

From Boot Camp I was assigned to Radioman “A” school in Norfolk, VA. That was another fun and interesting phase of learning. Norfolk Naval Base is a very large and sprawling base. The Radioman school was about four blocks from the barracks; yes we marched to and from school. I found that instead of waiting in the chow line, if you just acted like you were supposed to be there, just walk to the head of the line with no problem. There were a few cat calls and “Where are you going”, but I just ignored that and went on my way. Not that the food was that great that I could not wait, I just did not want to waste the time I could use to study.
We had to learn Morse Code and be able to copy at least 40 words per minute. Of course there were other classes, electronics, damage control etc. If I remember correctly the school was sixteen weeks long. There were a lot of nice guys in my class and we had some good times. I can still hear the dit dah dit of code, something you just never forget. Ten years of sitting there with earphones stuck on my head, with all the noise and static I do believe made me a little batty, and hastened my loss of hearing.

One very vivid memory of attending school: it was December, and we could not get leave. So picture a bunch of eighteen year olds (most of us away from home for the first time) sitting around listening to Johnny Mathis singing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” or Brenda Lee singing “I’m Sorry” “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.” We were a lot of sad young men, with no place to go, no one but each other to talk to. It was a very lonely time for us all. We shared our packages of cookies and candy from home, or goody boxes as we called them.

After finishing school I was assigned to the USS Donner LSD-20, a big flat bottomed ship that did a lot of rock and roll. Donner was a part of the Atlantic Amphibious Force, also know as the “Gator Navy”. The stern had a gate that we could lower, and fill the well deck (back part of the ship which was a big empty space) with water. Then Donner could take on LCM’s and LCVP’s (landing boats to carry the Marines to shore. We also had a flight deck which was used to land and lift off helicopters, as the Marines made their landings. We could carry about 320 Marines for transport. There was more than one green faced Marine in the various detachments we carried aboard ship you had to feel sorry for them.

I spent a little time as Radioman aboard the landing craft, using a little portable radio. Yes, we had “C rations” to keep up our strength. We never knew for sure how old they were, but they were not very tasty. You can get pretty wet sitting in one of those boats for four or five hours. We would begin by dropping a cargo net over the side of the ship and the poor Marines had to climb down the net into the bucking and rolling boat. That was never an easy task. Then we would run in a circle till all the boats were loaded, and run to the shore, drop the ramp and watch the marines run ashore. Then it was back to the ship and circle some more, load more marines and off to the beach again.

The Donner was flagship and recovery ship for MR-7, we recovered the nose cone containing “Ham the Space Chimp”. We were very proud of our accomplishment, and had our own little part of history and the space program. Everyone thought that without us it might not have happened in the same way.

This brought about my first encounter with Russian “fishing trawlers” who followed our every move. I will never forget the Boson mate on the bridge at the time as he yelled “General Quarters, this is not a drill” into the loudspeaker. I think he was the most frightened person on the ship. The Russian ship passed by at about fifty yards, much closer than they should be. They were even brave enough to wave at us. I saw a lot more “trawlers” through the years. It seems as though the Russians were never far away. Of course these supposed fishing boats were really an early version of a spy ship they had a lot of antennas for listening to radio transmissions, also several types of radar gear.

We recovered two more nosecones for NASA. We were also part of the recovery task force for Alan Sheppard’s historic flight aboard “Freedom 7” as the first US Astronaut in space. Even though we did not actually recover the nose cone it was still a part of history, and somewhat exciting.

We made a “Good Will Tour” Solant -Amity III to Africa, we were flagship for Admiral Reed, Commander US Southern Forces, and all the radiomen were considered part of his staff. The rest of the crew thought this was very unfair, but we loved it. This was also my first experience sailing in a convoy, albeit a small convoy.

One of the more memorable events that occurred was when we crossed the equator and made the magical transformation from “pollywog” to “shellback” It was quite a ceremony, complete with crawling through a large pile of slop, running the gauntlet of paddles and kissing the larded belly of the fattest man aboard. We also sailed around the Cape of Good Hope, at the southern end of Africa, which entitled us to “spit into the wind.” During our return to CONUS we crossed the equator at the Prime Meriden, making us “Emerald Shellbacks.”

We visited several ports in South Africa, and the west coast of Africa. While in Monrovia we participated in the celebration of President Tubman’s birthday. That was quite a show, large parades, parties and other ceremonies. The crew actually managed to behave and there was no trouble at all.

In the midst of this cruise we were dispatched to The Congo, where we stood by and eventually landed some of our Marines. I think we spent about two weeks steaming up and down the coast. For our effort we were awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. Once again we were being shadowed by Russian trawlers, and a Russian destroyer. They never came close, but we knew they were there. The Russians were always in the back of our minds, we wondered and watched and waited to see what would happen.

We finally backloaded our Marines and continued our cruise. I made a few quick friends in Capetown, most of the people were very happy to see us “Yanks”. The crew was treated like we were special visitors, everyone wanted to know about the U.S. Even though New York and Hollywood seemed to be the only cities they knew about.

The crew learned a lot about some of the African ports we visited, as we attempted to join some of the local customs. We took a few side trips to some very small villages, ate some of their food (and of course some of the local brew), I was always ready to try something new. I picked up a few trinkets that I still have on display today.

Although most of time we were welcomed, it was not always the case. Sometimes we ran into groups of people with anti-American, pro-communist leanings. One or two small demonstrations greeted us in some of the ports on the west coast. At one point the captain decided to get everyone back aboard ship to head off any huge problem. Obviously it took a little time to find all of those who had gone ashore, and there was one minor fight; but no injuries were reported.
There was on very unfortunate incident that brought a lot of sadness to the crew. We had pulled into a small cove and had a beach party. The crew rode the boats to an island where we had a picnic, with games and some beer. One member swam too close to one of the boats as it was heading back to the ship. He got too close to the boat, was caught in the propeller and died instantly from his injuries. Everyone felt his loss and sorrow for his family. We held a very heart touching and somber ceremony as his remains were airlifted off the ship to begin his journey home.

As we headed home we hit some rough weather, and a ship with a flat bottom does not ride very well in big waves. Eating dinner in the mess hall was a real thrill; you had to hold your tray with one hand, and lift it in the opposite direction of how the ship was rolling. The weather was so bad that the order was given to “knock off ships work,” which mean everyone could relax. Well, almost everyone; the Radioman Chief told us to keep painting that deck. The ship was taking some very large swells, and at one point rolled about 28 degrees to the port side. Eventually chief Carpenter let us stop painting when it started to rain. To this day I am not sure if we were being punished, the chief thought it was funny, or he just had to have the deck painted.
We lost our “escort” about this time and made the rest of the trip without them, not that they were missed at all. Our group stopped in Trinidad to drop off the Admiral and his staff. We enjoyed a couple of days of liberty, spent some of that money we had saved while at sea. Then we pulled into Bermuda for a visit. A few of us rented bicycles or motor scooters to see a little more of Bermuda. Driving on the “wrong side” created a bit of confusion and near accidents. Some of the stories that were told actually seemed quite funny.

We arrived in our home port Little Creek Amphibious Base, in Norfolk, just before Christmas. Everyone who could manage it took some leave time to be with family and friends. Of course not everyone could go at the same time, so there were a lot of the crew still aboard, we had a great Christmas dinner and it was ok, being single at the time, I had volunteered to stay aboard ship so others could get home for Christmas.

New Years Eve was special, many men had purchased alcohol in Bermuda, and although it was put in locked storage for the trip home, nobody bothered to check it as we left ship. So there were quite a few bottles still aboard ship, the cook even put vodka in the gravy. I was on the signal bridge at midnight; someone had gotten into the ammo locker and stolen some flares, which of course we fired into the air. All the ships whistles were blaring, bells ringing, and people yelling Happy New Year, and we could see some fireworks over the city.

As a part of Amphibious Squadron Eight the ship and crew was expected to be ready at all times. So we would pull out of port Monday morning, and return Thursday evening or Friday morning. The time was spent doing various drills and training to keep us “battle ready”, and you could almost do certain things in your sleep.

Upon returning to port depending how lucky you were and which duty section you were in, you could get liberty for 24, 38, or 72 hours. If you were unlucky you had the duty weekend and spent the entire weekend aboard ship. Since the radio shack was always manned, we worked in three shifts, and the mid-watch was a long one. The rest of the ship stood four hour “watches”, but the operations department(radiomen, radarmen, signalmen) all stood eight hour “watch”. With only one or two guys on duty you could get very sleepy. So if you had the mid-watch you were allowed to sleep in that morning when you got off duty, while the rest of the crew worked. The “deck apes” or first division and boson mates always gave us a hard time about sleeping while they had to work.

Then we spent a couple of months in port, with lots of chipping and repainting of the ship. That is a never ending process as we attempt to keep ahead of the rust, especially on an older ship. General upkeep and maintaining a ship take a lot of time and effort.

There is an old joke about sitting in port for an extended time; when you get underway, before you can move you have to break away all the coffee grounds that have built up while sitting tied to the pier. The coffee pot is always on, and everybody drinks a lot of coffee. Then we emptied the grounds down the latreen.

Donner also made several cruises to the Caribbean with our every friendly Marines embarked. We would drop them off so they could play their little “war games”. Some of the landings were very impressive to watch. Of course we did manage to get a little liberty while they were busy. We got to see many ports and spend some enjoyable time in the Caribbean.

I was one of the “lucky, chosen few” I pulled two months of “KP duty”, as mess cook for all the Chief Petty Officers. It was easy duty, I just had to make sure the table was set, and they had their meals ready. One good thing, I made friends with the regular cooks, and every now and then managed to sneak a whole cake or a can of peanut butter for the guys in the radio shack. To go with the peanut butter, I would get some freshly baked, still warm bread. You have no idea how good that tastes at 2:00am.

I advanced from Seaman Recruit (E-2) to Radioman third class (E-4) while aboard Donner, in the Navy you take a test for E4 and above and your scores are compared to everyone in the Navy taking the same test at the same time. No automatic advancement or battlefield promotion. There are only so many open slots for each rate level, so you have to make a good grade on the test, or wait till the next test.

As is always the case in the military, you make friends, get close to someone and then one by one they get transferred. My time aboard Donner came to an end in April 1962, and I was transferred, leaving a lot of good friends. You try to stay in touch, but eventually you lose contact. Then some thirty years later I found the website for my old ship and found some of the guys I remember from my time aboard Donner.

She was a proud ship and had served since WWII; with a short period of being out of commission, she was later re-commissioned and served faithfully and honorably to the end. I am proud to have served aboard this grand old ship. Even though it was only about two years, I still have fond memories, even though time has dimmed them somewhat, they are still cherished moments.

The Donner was then decommissioned for the final time in 1970 and spent time in the James River Reserve Fleet, just sitting there rusting away. Attempts to keep her afloat and make the ship into a museum failed and she was sold and converted to scrap in 2004.

To be continued.

Congress What About Our POW/MIA's

How long must our missing remain unaccounted for? It is far too long, too many families waiting for closure, never knowing for sure if their loved ones are still alive.

The Department of Defense branch Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), is working hard and travels all over the world. They are following up reports of sightings or possible locations of either POW/MIA's or location of remains.

There were many reports of Americans captured in Korea and Vietnam being taken to China or Russia. Some of these turned out to be false leads, but there were some instances that proved to be true.

Korea, Russia, and China have all claimed that there are no POW's under their control. Saying that all information available has been turned over to American officials. These countries are working with DPMO to find remains of American military personnel.

DPMO is constantly interviewing people, asking questions. They are doing a great job and slowly remains are being repatriated. It just is not fast enough for those left behind.
What if it were your father, brother, husband that was missing, would you not want the truth? How long, and how hard it must be. The constant pain of the unknown is devastating. Some have been waiting for more than sixty years. Do you not think it has gone on and should be solved quickly.

ALL POW/MIA on their website lists World War II 74,384, Cold War 123, Korea 8,056, Vietnam 1,742 unaccounted for. DPMO figures are very close to this count.

The 123 missing from the Cold War were aircraft shot down by Communist forces. These missions were under secret conditions, many of these missions are still classified, the men involved sworn to secrecy.

Robin Piacine, President of The Coalition of Families of Korea and Cold War POW/MIA's, has been working with Congress, The White House, DPMO, and Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC). Robin is a tireless, determined young woman. She has created the Pennsylvania Project, collecting mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)samples from families of missing to be used in identifying remains. You can read more information on the website

This year the House of Representatives had a bill introduces H. Res 111 to establish a House Select Committee for Pow/MIA Affairs with 280 cosponsors. Much to our regret it failed to pass, and the committee was discharged.

So everyone get your fingers loose and ready to type. Your phone ready to call. When the 111th Congress convenes in January 2009 write, fax, call, or visit in person your elected officials. Tell them that as a country, we can not, must not and will not forget those missing. Tell them we want action and our loved ones returned.

Jerald TerwilligerNational Vice ChairmanAmerican Cold War Veterans"
We Remember"