Commentary by Gary Thomas
"My experience in war in Vietnam saw many a friend killed or wounded. It is a haunting and heavy memory. I take comfort in having known them, served with them, an awed by their courage and sacrifice" ~ Gary Thomas
The 1st Sergeant's Report appears here to comment on recent events, and inform veterans on the issues affecting them and their families. Please e-mail your opinions and topical suggestions
A Special Message from "The Veterans Hour"
This Veterans Day I would like to pay special tribute to Americas Women Veterans. Some 2 million women who have served and continue to serve and protect the United States.
I was proud to serve alongside them during my career and am awed by their service now. Today we are equally honored as one group. Americas Veterans!
On this day America honors veterans for their service. The origins of Veterans Day however are rooted in the past. Armistice Day celebrated the ending of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The war to end all wars. It was not to be.
Armistice Day was eventually renamed Veterans Day in 1954 by congress to honor veterans of all wars. So, today we thank you for recognizing us for our service as we proudly attend ceremonies, fly the flag above our homes, and reminisce with family and friends.
May God Bless You,
Gary Thomas, SMSgt Ret USAF
Special -- from the memoirs of Gary Thomas. © All Rights Reserved.
The Early Years of Service for Gary Thomas
The Founder Of "The Veterans Hour"
In 1948 I was 16 years old, in the Air Force, an on a train from Oklahoma to San Francisco. Waiting for me to board was the USS Hope (Pictured Above) to take me, an lots of other servicemen to Japan. It was 19 days of rough seas and a major diversion to pick up a critically ill patient along the way.
As the seas rolled and the ship swayed I became more and more sea sick. It wasn't long before I was removed from the top bunk, much to the relief of the two below me, who by the way were a couple of tough WW II guys who had earlier tossed me up there from the much desired lower bunk. Guess they got what they deserved, but it was little consolation as I eventually needed medical assistance and spent most of my time on deck.
Forty pounds lighter, weak but recuperating, I arrived for duty as a medic at Shiroi Air Force Station in Matsado, Japan. (Soon after though I was re-assigned to the Military Police.) Growing up fast was not an issue as my life back in Tulsa was hard from the start. The real challenge was adjusting to such a strange and confusing world as occupied Japan.
I not only endured but thrived by learning the language and customs of the Japanese while serving my country to the best of my ability. Time seemed to pass quickly, and by 1950 I was in Radar Squadron, excelling in my work and in life, when suddenly on June 25th, 1950 the Korean War broke out.