Friday, May 23, 2014

Cold War Veteran Honors Fellow Cold Warriors

Press of Atlantic City

By LUCIA C. DRAKE, Staff Writer
Robert Haller will spend this Memorial Day as he has for many years, remembering and honoring all members of the American military.
But there is one group of veterans in particular that the Egg Harbor Township resident thinks about especially at this time of year: those he refers to as the Cold War veterans.
A South Jersey native, Haller is himself a Cold War veteran, serving in the U.S. Navy and in the U.S. Merchant Marine from 1974 to 1992.
Haller served in Operation TAGOS, a mission to collect underwater acoustic data in support of Cold War anti-submarine warfare operations during the 1980s.
It is his belief that the Cold War with the former Soviet Union is too often overlooked in history, and the dangerous work done by those enlisted men and women in the early days of nuclear activity and the Iron Curtain has gone widely unrecognized.
Now semi-retired, he feels compelled to get more support for Cold War veterans and to show how important they were in this country's fight against terrorism.
"Those were dangerous missions, and our job was to protect the United States of America," Haller, 57, said recently from his home. "I voluntarily served because I love my country so much. I have always lived by the code of duty, honor and country."
Mostly, he said, he would like to see credit given that is justly due.
The author of two books, "Life of a Bluenose" (2006) and "Adventures of a Cold War Veteran" (2009), Haller has spent years lobbying the Department of Defense for legislation to authorize a Cold War Victory Medal for veterans.
Commemorative Cold War medals are available for sale by private vendors, and Congress did issue a certificate in 1999, but to date there is no official congressional medal, he said.
"I just feel so strongly about the work we did," said Haller, who served aboard the sub-hunter USNS Stalwart and achieved the rank of QMED, the highest unlicensed position in the Merchant Marines, before becoming an officer. "We were the first lines of defense during the height of the Cold War."
With U.S. troops still fighting terrorism, an official Cold War medal would validate the important role men and women in the armed services provided at that time, he said.
In writing of his military service, his goal was to educate readers about the sacrifices members of the military made in the fight against communism.
A member of the American Legion, AmVets, the Navy League and Knights of Columbus, as well as an associate member of several F.O.P. lodges, Haller said he knows what it's like to experience post-traumatic stress and hopes his insights can help other veterans.
An avid writer of fiction, poetry and commentary, Haller also dabbles in art work and plays classical violin. He is working on another military memoir about the Cold War, which he said might be called "Life of a Bluenose, Part II."
"There's a lot to get off my chest, a lot of things that need to be said on behalf of all Cold War vets," he explained.
When he raises his American flag this Memorial Day, as he does daily, Haller said he will offer a silent prayer for all service members who gave so much to help make possible the freedoms every American enjoys today.

---- Jerald Terwilliger Chairman American Cold War Veterans "We Remember" ---------------- "And so the greatest of American triumphs... became a peculiarly joyless victory. We had won the Cold War, but there would be no parades." -- Robert M. Gates, 1996