The Moonduster Chronicles
The Official Newsletter of
Operation Just Cause

...for as long as it takes                                         July 1998


Important News
Michael Blassie Positively Identified as "Unknown"
More information on Michael Blassie can be found at the National Alliance of Familes.

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And I want to thank Christina for sending me this poem written by E. O. Laughlin, entitled

"The Unknown".
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Updates from Previous Issues
The following messages were sent in by Gunny:

"More Good News"
"Medal of Honor recipient Roy Benavidez is home and on the way to a full recovery. He also has his own email address: rpbcmh17@yahoo.com. So let's see if we can fill up his mailbox with good wishes."

--And--

Roger Hall's FOIA action on behalf of the families of our unaccounted for POWs is moving along steadily. The total cost will probably be in the $50k range from what I've been told. It's a sad state of affairs that the families have to "buy" justice but a lot of folks are helping out by sending donations to:

POW/MIA FOIA Litigation Account

8715 First Avenue, #827C, Attn. Roger Hall
Silver Spring, MD 20910

(every little bit helps) This is the probably the most important action being taken today on behalf of getting the truth. It's also sad that we have to buy the truth but if the families can win this one, it will be easier next time...and there will be a next time

Disclaimer: The FOIA action being pursued by Roger Hall is not connected with OJC, but it is strongly endorsed by Gunny, Colonel Guy, Steve Golding, the POWMIA Forum and the members of the OJC Board of Directors. (Thanks for the updates on these stories, Gunny)

To find out more about these stories, go to the "Announcements" in the June Issue of the NL

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--And--

This is in from Dave Murray

FEED BACK FROM JILL HUBBS

"Hi, Dave! I have to tell you how thrilled my mother is with the letters and cards she's been receiving...especially the kind words so many veterans wrote. It has really lifted her spirits - and as you can imagine, she looks for the mail every day....I can't thank you enough."

God Bless all that have helped ! Please think about sending a card to Mrs. Hubbs, once a month or so.

Let her know that Veterans don't forget Veterans ! And that our POW/MIA Brother's Are Not Forgotten.

Dave Murray

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This also from Dave Murray:

In from Bob Dumas:

    There will be POW/MIA hearings held by Congressmas Stephen Buyer, Chairman of the Veteran's Affairs Committee. It's important that Bob Dumas be one of those to testify. Please contact Congressmans Buyer's Legislative Aid, Tom Hawley and stress the importance that Bob be one of those to testify.

    Bob's brother, Roger is POW/MIA from Korea. He was about to be repatriated and at the last minute he was taken off the truck never to be seen again Bob has 50 years of research and working the issue. It's important that he be heard. DPMO doesn't want Bob to testify.

Heaings are open to the Public

Congressman Stephen Buyer
voice: 202-226-2843
fax: 202-226-0789

Copies can be faxed to Bob at: 860-546-9112

NEW JERSEY STATE COUNCIL
VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA INC.
PO Box 1229
Bayonne, New Jersey 07002-6229

Sample letter:
Congressman Stephen E. Buyer
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC

Attn: Tom Hawley - Legislative Aid

Dear Congressman Buyer;

    It has come to my attention that you will be holding hearings on the POW/MIA issue in September. This is to request that Mr. Bob Dumas be one of those people called to testify at those hearings.

    Bob's knowledge and expertise on the POW/MIA issue comes from 50 years of activity and research into the POW/MIA issue. Certainly, failing to have Bob as one of the witnesses at this hearing would be a failure to obtain the truth backed by facts and research.

    Sincerely

    End of Sample Letter

    ___________________________

    For more info: Contact David Murray
    Chairman POW/MIA Committee
    New Jersey State Council
    E-mail: Dave

    C: Bob Dumas
    Frank D'Alonzo - Secty. - NJ State Council - VVA
    Veterans Vote

    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Special Request From Gunny:

    We have a couple of new projects in the works at the present time and we could use a bit of help in a very special area. If any member has any connections to the Hollywood, New York, or Nashville entertainment scene, we can use your assistance.


Please contact me at this special address set up for the purpose:
gunnyf@hotmail.com if you think you might be able to help.

---Gunny---
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Announcements:

For Distribution:

Senate Hearing On U.S.-VN Trade Relations

    The Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade (Chairman Grassley) will be holding a hearing on Senator Bob Smith's legislation, S.J. Res. 47, on Tuesday, July 7, 1998 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 215 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. S.J. Res. 47, cosponsored by Sen. Helms, prohibits a waiver of the so-called Jackson-Vanik freedom of emigration requirements for communist Vietnam, thereby denying authorization for expanded U.S. trade programs there. The witness list will be short, but statements for the Committee record will be welcomed. Please forward them to Senator Bob Smith's office, SD307, Washington, D.C. 20510, Att: Dino Carluccio (fax 202-224-1353.)

    Senator Smith will be the lead Congressional witness. He requests that all those concerned about the issue of freedom of emigration for the Vietnamese people, human rights and democracy in Vietnam, and Hanoi's ability to account for missing American servicemen from the war, plan on attending this hearing. Your presence will be an important signal to Committee members, so please pass this message along!

P.S. S.J. Res. 47 is the Senate version of the House bill, H.J. Res. 120, sponsored by Reps. Rohrabacher, Gilman, and Chris Smith.

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This in from Lynn O'Shea:
National Alliance of Families

Sometime next week, the House of Representatives will vote on H.J.Res 120. This Joint Resolution disapproves the extension of the Jackson - Vanick Waiver, as it applies to Vietnam.

We need you all to call, fax, and e-mail your Congressman and ask that they support H.J.Res 120. Vietnam does not deserve further trade concessions. Remember, this is an election year. Use your influence and make the call.

The toll free number is 800-504-0033. If the toll free number is not working call your Congressman at 202-224-3121.

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The Medal Of Honor Should Not Be Taken From Lt. Blassie
By Ted Sampley
U.S. Veteran Dispatch
July 1998

On Memorial Day 1984, President Ronald Reagan presented the Medal of Honor to the allegedly unidentified remains of an American serviceman the Pentagon had chosen to be interred in the Tomb of the Unknowns as the Vietnam Unknown Soldier.

Today, the U.S. government wants to strip that medal and honor away from the Vietnam Unknown because he was recently identified as Air Force First Lieutenant Michael Blassie.

The Medal of Honor is the highest military award and is normally presented by the President in the name of Congress to a person while in service to the United States "who distinguishes himself or herself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy force."

Usually, the medal is awarded only after the recipient has been nominated by his or her commanders and whose heroic deeds were witnessed by others. The origin of the Medal of Honor goes back to the Civil War. Since then, only 3,428 Medals of Honor have been authorized. As of March 24, 1998, there are 165 recipients of this highest honor still living.

In order for the Medal of Honor to be awarded to an Unknown Soldier, whose actions in combat or deeds of valor would obviously be unknown, Congress had to create and pass a special law authorizing the President to make the presentation.

In the case of the Vietnam Unknown, Congress passed such a special authorization (Public law H.R. 5515) just a few days prior to the Vietnam Unknown being interred. The law reads: "A bill to authorize the President to award the Medal of Honor to the unknown American who lost his life while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam era and who has been selected to be buried in the Memorial Amphitheather at Arlington National Cemetery."

Earlier this year, four years after the U.S. Veteran Dispatch printed a story identifying the remains interred in the Tomb of the Vietnam Unknown as belonging to Air Force Lt. Michael Blassie, a Pentagon panel suggested an exhumation of the remains for DNA testing.

On July 8, an Armed Forces Identification Review Board certified a finding by DNA experts that the Vietnam Unknown was Lt. Blassie. He had served as the Vietnam Unknown for 14 years.

A military honor guard picked up the remains on July 9 from an Air Force mortuary at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C. and drove them to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to be returned to his family in St. Louis, Missouri. Lt. Blassie was buried again with full military honors in a national cemetery in St. Louis on July 10.

Lt. Blassie’s family says that the Medal of Honor presented to him when his unidentified remains were interred as the Vietnam Unknown should remain with him, and I agree.

Secretary Of Defense William Cohen says he does not favor leaving the nation’s highest honor with Lt. Blassie. Cohen pointed out that Lt. Blassie had been posthumously awarded the Silver Star. Lt. Blassie was killed when his A37 attack jet was shot down during a heated battle over An Loc, South Vietnam on May 11, 1972

Representatives of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) say their organizations oppose Lt. Blassie’s family having the medal because Lt. Blassie had not been nominated by his commanders for "performing high acts of valor."

"What would be nice is if the family withdrew the request," Phil Budahn of the American Legion told USA Today. "Their loved one is a hero to them and to many of us. But the Medal of Honor is something very, very special and it simply was not awarded to this particular hero." The American Legion and VFW are missing the point.

President Reagan awarded the Medal of Honor to the American serviceman who was serving as the Unknown Soldier from the Vietnam War, and that was Lt. Blassie. Besides, there is a precedent where at least one other Medal of Honor was awarded for meritorious service instead of valor.

During the Civil War, upon the recommendation of Major Generals Sherman and Thomas, Dr. Mary E. Walker received the Medal of Honor because of her "valuable service to the government" while assigned to duty as an assistant surgeon in charge of female prisoners at Louisville, Kentucky.

Dr. Walker’s medal was rescinded in 1917 along with 910 others because, according to a special government panel, their deeds did not meet the criteria of "gallantry at the risk of their lives above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against the enemy."

President Jimmy Carter restored the Medal of Honor to Dr. Walker in 1977 after being encouraged to do so by women’s advocacy groups. Ironically, credible reports indicate that when Pentagon officials chose the Vietnam Unknown in 1984, they knew that the remains were probably those of Lt. Blassie.

During the last decade, those same officials have used less circumstantial evidence than was available to identify Lt. Blassie (and no DNA tests) to write off hundreds of other missing in action servicemen as identified.

While Lt. Blassie was serving as the Unknown, his family suffered the pains of not knowing whether he was dead or held prisoner by the Communist Vietnamese. To strip the Medal of Honor from Lt. Blassie would not only be a dishonor to him and his family, it would also dishonor the unknown soldiers from World War I, World War II and Korea whose remains are still serving in the Tomb of the Unknowns.

In the early 1980s, the Reagan administration pressured the Pentagon to add a set of remains from the Vietnam War to the Tomb of the Unknowns. White House officials claimed that this gesture was an overdue act of reconciliation and display of support for the POW/MIA accounting process.

Pentagon officials, unable to find what they considered unidentifiable remains, chose the remains which had been tentatively identified as those of Michael Blassie and destroyed accompanying documentation that linked him to the remains.

Lt. Blassie’s remains were re-designated as X-26 and were sent to Washington. On May 25, 1984, the X-26 remains lay in state at the Capitol where for three days, an estimated 250,000 people filed past the coffin to pay their respects.

The remains were transported by caisson to the cemetery on May 28, stopping briefly at the new Vietnam Veterans Memorial where an unofficial honor guard of Vietnam veterans attached themselves to the procession.

Ten years after the burial, Lt. Blassie’s sister Pat read the article I wrote in the U.S. Veteran Dispatch which identified her brother as the Vietnam Unknown. She contacted the Air Force but was told there was nothing to substantiate the claim.

Last year, CBS News picked up the article off the U.S. Veteran Dispatch’s internet archives. Producer Vince Gonzales conducted an eight month investigation which led CBS to conclude that not only were the remains in the Tomb of the Unknowns those of Lt. Blassie, but that the Pentagon had known it all along.

After several major CBS news broadcasts about Lt. Blassie, Secretary Cohen followed the advice of a specially appointed Pentagon panel and ordered the Unknown’s remains exhumed for DNA testing. The DNA findings were described by officials as 99.9 percent certain that the Vietnam Unknown was Lt. Blassie.

The Medal of Honor was awarded to Lt. Blassie. The Pentagon should not be allowed to take that honor away from him.

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The theme of this month's Moonduster Chronicles is:
"Freedom Is Not Free"

Articles

What Does July 4th Mean To Me?
by George Fallon

Fourth of July
by Chuck *Doc* Stewart

Independence Day Message
from William S. Cohen, Secretary of Defense

From Mary and Chuck Schantag, P.O.W. NETWORK

"What the 4th of July Means to Me..."
by Beverly Haire

What the 4th Means to Me
by Christina Sharik

Honoring The American Flag
Condensed speech by Leo K. Thorsness

From Concord to Oklahoma
by Mike Blades

The Fourth of July
by Katy Miller

What The 4th Means...
by Chris Rich

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Poetry

4th Of July Rememberance
by Christina Sharik "ArmyMom"

Postcard From Bosnia
by Christina Sharik "ArmyMom"

A Price Tag on Independence
by B F Malone

An Eagle Screams
by Mike Blades

Soldiers of War
by Janet W.

Observance
by Christina Sharik

Still Fighting
by Willie D.

Unending War
by Willie D.

The 4th
by Willie D.

Faded Ribbon
by Marsha

Liberty's Child
by Marsha Burks Megehee

Danny
by Marsha Burks Megehee

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:
Rolling Thunder Ride Info
September 12-13, 1998 - Second annual Rolling Thunder - MO Run
.

    This event is gonna get very big this year. The main ride will begin in St Joseph again this year. It will leave fairly early in the morning in St Joe and progress across the the state following I-70. The ride will hopefully grow with every fuel stop. The fuel stops will be posted here as well as on the flyers that will be showing up along the route in the next month or two and again about a month or so before the event. The first destination is the Gateway Arch in St Louis. We hope to arrive about the same time as the March to the Arch as a show of support. Then the ride will backtrack back out to Wentzville MO to the VFW post (site of the First Vietnam Veteran's Memorial) for a candle light vigil and ceremonies.

    These ceremonies are very moving and are what got me involved with Rolling Thunder in the first place. There will be food and drink available from the VFW post and plenty of camping space for the night. Sunday morning the bikes will assemble again for the "Labor of Love Ride" to the Labor of Love memorial in St Peters for more rememberence and a Fly By by the MO Air National Guard F-15's at approximately 1:00pm. At that time the ride will disassemble.

For more info, contact: Scootr
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POW/MIA Freedom Radio
Sundays 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Mountain Time

July 26, 1998 Guest Speakers:
This will be a special 2 hour show about women POW/MIA's. The expert on this subject will be guest Ms. Jolynne Strang.


More Information can be found on The POW/MIA Freedom Radio Website

"You can also hear it live on the Internet" at American Freedom Radio
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"International Hall of Honor"
Feel free to place the above banner on your website to link to"International Hall of Honor"

This Site Was Created To "Honor Deceased Veterans" From Around The World

"Place A Flag" In Memory Of A Loved One or Friend Who Served Their County With "Dignity - Honor & Pride"

The "International Hall of Honor" Site Is Designed & Maintained By:
Al Varelas - USMC
Webmaster, Decorated Vietnam Veteran, Khe Sanh Combat Base
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POW/MIA's Reported Missing on the Fourth of July (Independence Day)
Information Courtesy of Scope Systems--Any Day In History

Charles Franklin Bookout
E7/US Army Special Forces
Born: December 1, 1934
Birthplace: Oklahoma City, OK
Date of Loss: July 4, 1970
Country of Loss: Laos

---And---

Patrick Martin Fallon
O6/US Aif Force
Born: November 12, 1921
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, PA
Date of Loss: July 4, 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
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Final Thoughts

In light of the information received on the positive identification of Michael Blassie as the man buried in the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I believe that it is especially important this Independence Day for me to remember those who paid the ultimate price of Freedom for me and for all Americans. Michael Blassie and many others like him, paid for the price of freedom with their lives.

Our POW/MIA's continue to pay.
(This is just my opinion. Your comments and opinions are welcome, as always.)
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Message From the Editor:

This month, our newsletter has a title in honor of The Fourth of July (Independence Day 1998).
I would like to thank Christina Sharik for coming up with the title.

I wanted to find out what "Freedom" meant to members of Operation Just Cause. For me, the word 'independence' has taken on a whole new meaning since I joined Operation Just Cause. I have learned that like George Washington and the others who fought for America's independence back in the 18th century, our POW/MIA's continue to fight to preserve that freedom which I so easily take for granted.
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I would like to say "Thank you" to the people who helped me to put together this month's issue of

"The Moonduster Chronicles".

I also wanted to let you know that you may still submit articles, announcements, or poems for this issue of the Newsletter. I will include them as I receive them. I would appreciate any comments you may have.

Thank you,


Barbara Fitzgerald-Malone

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"The Moonduster Chronicles" Archived Issues

October 1998

September 1998

August 1998

June 1998

March 1998

February 1998

January 1998

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