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Posted: 1/8/2003 3:55:59 PM EST
January 8, 2003 The Right View The death of heroes By David A. Keene A few years ago in the wake of the release of "Saving Private Ryan" and the publication of Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation, it became almost commonplace to note the passing of the generation of Americans who braved the Great Depression, defeated the Nazis in Europe, the Japanese in Asia and handed us all a richer, stronger and perhaps better nation than they'd inherited. The truth of that commonplace idea struck me as the New Year began with the passing of two men I have known and admired. Joe Foss and Jay Hubbard both died early on New Year's Day and neither will be forgotten by anyone who knew them. Joe was 87 and Jay was 80. They were both Marines. Joe was America's greatest ace, having downed some 26 Japanese planes during the defense of Guadalcanal in 1942. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Roosevelt after having already won the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart. He went on to become a television personality, was elected Governor of South Dakota, Commissioner of the American Football League and President of the National Rifle Association. Tom Brokaw devoted an entire chapter to Joe's life in his book. Jay spent World War II on the ground. He saw fierce fighting at Bougainville, Emirau, Guam and Okinawa as U.S. forces fought their way back across the Pacific following Pearl Harbor. After World War II, he too became an aviator and managed to see two more wars as a pilot. He led the air strikes in 1951 that made it possible for U.S. troops fighting in Korea finally take what became known to history as "Heartbreak Ridge." He retired as a brigadier general. The Marine Corps' aviation museum in Miramar, Calif., is named for him and he won every medal that Foss wore with the exception of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Last year Jay told my son (his grandson) that while he enjoyed "Saving Private Ryan," he found it impossible to sit through a more recent movie. Mel Gibson's "We Were Soldiers" detailed the horrors that took place during the battle for Vietnam's Ia drang Valley. Although Jay was in Vietnam when the battle took place, that isn't what got to him. "We faced exactly the same thing for four days at Bougainville," he told the boy, "and I just didn't need to live through that again." He knew that Hell is just that regardless of what you call it. It is important that we forget neither these men nor what they did for us. A year or so ago, Joe was flying to New York. He had his Medal of Honor in his briefcase because he always feared losing it if he put it in his checked baggage. The security guards who supposedly protect us from our newest enemies tried to confiscate the medal as a potential weapon; the incident that received national attention. "They had no idea what it was, but they weren't about to take it away from me after what I had to do to earn it." Joe told me. And they didn't. These men were heroes and representative of the best of a generation that we are losing. They were citizen warriors who lived and fought in a dangerous world so that their children and grandchildren might live peacefully in one that would be a little safer for their efforts. But they both knew that their will be new battles to fight and that others would have to do what they had done if we are to survive as a free people. Jay noted that his grandfather, who was born in 1833, served as an officer in the Union Army, recalling that: "he held me in his arms when I was an infant … as … he had been held by his grandfather who was a young soldier in our Revolutionary War. That somehow stirs me." His sons, like Jay himself, were Marines and it was fitting that a few months ago when his granddaughter enlisted in the Army she flew to California to let him know. I'm sorry they're gone. Joe and Jay both clung to life as valiantly as they fought for our freedoms and both of them made it into the New Year. Jay had told his family that making it to 2003, which marked both his 60th wedding anniversary and the centennial of manned flight, was his final goal. Jay's son might have been speaking for both he and Joe Foss when he said, "He may have crash landed into 2003 with his landing gear up and engine afire, but, by God, he made it." But, then, heroes always do. David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, is a managing associate with the Carmen Group, a D.C.-based governmental affairs firm
Link Posted: 1/8/2003 4:15:46 PM EST
This country produced some real men back then--I treasure every friendship I have made with veterans of that, the greatest, generation. We are in sore need of men of that caliber.
Link Posted: 1/8/2003 4:31:50 PM EST
God Bless them, One and All.
Link Posted: 1/8/2003 4:42:42 PM EST
Tha's a truly touching article. Indeed they were both hero's, and this country may yet again produce men of their caliber...in hte not too distant future. (FREEFALLE6) There are a number of men who hangout on this site who just might be sent into harms way, may GOD bless each and every one if they do.
Link Posted: 1/8/2003 5:03:29 PM EST
Maj. Foss almost died in Saginaw, Michigan around Thanksgiving, but he was doing better. I was sad to see it came back on him. Men like that deserve to die in some bigger (splasher?) way.
Link Posted: 1/8/2003 5:11:18 PM EST
Originally Posted By Happyshooter: Maj. Foss almost died in Saginaw, Michigan around Thanksgiving, but he was doing better. I was sad to see it came back on him. Men like that deserve to die in some bigger (splasher?) way.
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I don't know...In this case, considering the number of close friends he had to have seen first hand, go out with a bang, I think it was a good thing for him to pass away in a soft bed between clean sheets with family by his side.
Link Posted: 1/8/2003 6:28:40 PM EST
[Last Edit: 1/8/2003 6:29:14 PM EST by Zardoz]
Damn good article. This is just a little off the topic, but I can't help it.... Those assholes who tried to take his CMH away from him should be forced to get on their knees and beg forgiveness from every veteran or active service member who passes through that airport.
Link Posted: 1/8/2003 6:49:26 PM EST
Originally Posted By DPeacher: God Bless them, One and All.
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Nothing else to say...
Link Posted: 1/8/2003 7:27:01 PM EST
Personal story here: My grandfather is 79, getting up in years, and his health is not the best anymore. He's a WWII veteran and was injured (lost his left leg from the knee down) by German shelling somewhere...(he won't talk about it) in Europe-northwestern, not southern. I have heard that the shell that cost him his leg killed two buddies that were farther away from the blast than he was-apparently he was only a few feet, and he ended up being blown into a ditch-while a couple other wounded were run over by advancing tanks. He has been to the reunions of the people in his division and always returns with the same words: [b]they're dropping like flies.[/b] -They won't be around forever. Don't take a vet for granted. They have a lot to offer and you can learn a lot from them. Saying "thanks" is a good start!
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