When most think about a General
They think of Ike, Patton or Powell
But I had the great privilege
Of meeting one wonderful Gal.
I met her in Waxahachie
Where I was honored to be
At the Dedication of a Vet’s Memorial
Where they had etched my poetry.
The Pres was supposed to be there too
But counting chads kept him away
But the citizens still turned out
On a cold, cloudy, windy day.
I thought one of the highlights
Was Kathy talking about our Land
And the Patriots and Veterans
And the Military’s Freedom stand.
You could see she was a Soldier
In the true sense of the word
And her heartfelt, spoken words
The most inspiring I have heard.
She passed on in August
While at her childhood home
Where she still was rooted
After thirty-one years on the roam.
Promoted to the highest rank
Of Lady Soldiers when retired
She served our Nation proudly
And many people, she inspired.
A role model for all women
And every other Soldier, too
A Commander in her own right
With honors bestowed on very few.
As Adjutant General
A champion for the enlisted
And for leadership changes
Although there’s some resisted.
In the White House with Reagan
And with Bush number one
On the staff of Colin Powell
Just some of those things she’d done.
She saw the horrors of Rwanda
Its Refugees and genocide
And when she spoke of the children
And the mass graves, this General cried.
She was in charge of base exchanges
And was insistent on the plan
To get stores open for our Troops
In Iraq and in Afghanistan.
A Warrior fighting for the Troops
And won most battles that she fought
But then cancer came along
And all her strength and will for naught.
Much too young to be taken
Although she passed this final test
It’s a sad time for all of us
Because we’ve lost one of our best.
Married to a Congressman
For only eight short years
And along with Martin Frost
There’s many of us, shed tears.
So, this Veterans Day an honor
For me to dedicate this piece
To that Great Lady and Soldier
And, may she rest in peace.
Del “Abe” Jones
A NEW DAY
This Veterans Day is different
And our leadership is new
Let’s hope things will get better
And they do what they should do.
Maybe next year at this time
Troops will be home or on their way
Wouldn’t that be just great
For a really different Veterans Day?
We have lost so many people
Some will suffer wounds for life
With each and every Hero changed
By wartime’s pain and strife.
They have served without complaint
Some two times and some three
Much more than we should expect
From those who protect our Liberty.
Our Troops do what they’ve always done
When our Nation has a need
To protect our Country’s shores
Or some foreign one, that needs freed.
Most everyone knows someone
Or has a loved one who was lost
And each of us must realize
That our Freedom has great cost.
Our Veterans Day is very special
A day to thank that special soul
Who will serve and fight and die for us
With Freedom’s Security their goal.
The next time you see a Uniform
Just take a moment to say, “Thanks!”
For our Country would be nothing
Without those Military Ranks.
So on this day, Two thousand six
As we Honor those who Served
Let us all strive to be a Nation
Where their sacrifice is deserved.
Del “Abe” Jones
Please watch and listen to "A PITTANCE OF TIME" at
We buried another veteran today.
He went to his God, but from us, he went away.
This one was young, in the prime of his life.
He left twin children and a very courageous wife.
It wasn't a bullet, a plane crash or a bomb.
It was cancer, and he just finally, could not hold on.
He fought "it" like a strategic military campaign.
But the time came to surrender, to end his earthly pain.
He knew he would be fine in the presents of his Lord.
But what about his twins, those children he adored?
In their small world, will they grow strong and at "life" win.
Please God, they are so young, let them always remember him.
We buried another veteran today.
It seems, all my life, it has happened this way.
From my uncles of the WW II-time frame.
To the military neighbors and friends that Vietnam would claim.
I am not that old, but for me the number of dead, is always
on the rise.
When I get a call that another veteran is gone, it is never really a surprise.
From lost sub-mariners, of the Thresher & Scorpion in early days of my life.
To the forever gone, military-medical friends of my veteran wife.
I lost a Korean War veteran friend this year, to a crashed
I lost a Gulf War friend to cancer, a difference in their age, but still that pain.
I lost an Uncle to cancer who did Korea with the Navy, steaming off shores.
I lost my father-in-law who fought in Korea, from a "fox-hole" in the frozen outdoors.
We buried another Veteran today.
It seems in all my family's generations, it happens this way.
From my Revolutionary War Grandfathers who started this sad, but needed trend.
To the family members on both sides in 1861, who just would not bend.
Some of my family veterans lived a long and happy life,
after "their" war.
They died of old age in their bed, safe-behind a locked door.
They died in battle, buried where they fell.
They died years later, carrying emotional scars, in their own personal hell.
My family is no different than thousands who met our Nation's
They rose to the demands of this country and some gave their "all".
We have to keep doing this, to make our homeland free.
But, it is that Veteran's twin-little children that keeps worrying me.
We buried another Veteran today.
It seems all my life it continues to happen this way.
Now my only child is nine and we reside on a military installation.
I truly want her to live in a safe and free nation.
But what happens to her, when it is her-generation's turn
to make a stand.
Do I lose my only child in some forsaken-foreign land?
Does she play it safe, stay home and say "that's boy's stuff".
Or does she join like her mother and go right into the ruff.
She has to be that one Veteran I don't see, make that final
Let me go before her, let me first give this country my fighting "all".
Maybe if I go "out-there" and make my final stand.
She can stay safe, at home, in this wonderful free land.
We buried another Veteran today.
Major Van E. Harl, USAF Ret.
Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi
28 November 2001
He's lying in the tree line, blood running down his arm.
Listening for the sound of the Handcart boys, to remove him from this harm.
He flew in on a modern jet that got shot down in this affray.
But he is no different than the wounded at Shiloh, trying to survive, till they safely take him away.
In the dark of the night she waits with so much pain to
Injured in the crash of her aircraft and now this seemly endless nightmare.
Where is the chopper that will lift her from the smoke, the fire and the pain?
Where are the Handcart boys, hurry, her life is beginning to drain?
He was wounded when a round slammed onto the "cruiser's"
Shards of metal are protruding from his arm, shoulder and the right side his neck.
The corpsman has stopped the bleeding; he's been prepared, to be extracted in the night.
The Handcart boys are racing his way, and will be there before first light.
Get in, get them out, and hurry back, inside the safety
of our lines.
It has been this way since ancient wars, to the battles of modern times.
The two-wheel Handcart is the way the wounded were removed from battles in past wars.
Our modern Handcart has a rotor-blade and sliding doors.
Look at history, look at artwork, recent photos or at movies
if you will.
When it came to removing the wounded and injured off of some war torn desolate hill.
It was a Handcart carrying the broken and the dying with their screams of pain.
It was a Handcart transporting at Normandy in the cold June rain.
Every branch of the service has its modern version of the
Handcart boys who respond to the call.
They go out for the wounded and dead, bring them back, get them all.
Some times the Handcart boys are brought back in a Handcart not of their own.
Some times they become the wounded & the dying, and for their efforts, they never come home.
There are also women who work these, latter-day Handcarts
and their lives too, are on the line.
It is a dangerous mission, but just as their predecessors they to make that recovery in time.
They move out over the desert, into the night as the sand blows and swirls.
These Handcart operators are our Handcart girls.
I have a two-wheeled wooden handcart with an old worn flag
sitting out on my front lawn.
It is not a protest, it's a reminder of our dead, who returned by Handcart, lying there upon.
In order to defend this Nation, we will continue to send the brave & young, our freedom they earn.
And we will always have a need for the Handcarts, for our wounded and dead, they must return.
Major Van E. Harl, USAF Ret. 15 March 2003
Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico Vanharl@aol.com
I was in Starkville, Mississippi on Memorial Day weekend,
attending the Eagles over Mississippi air show.
I volunteer at the local Air Force recruiting office, so I took along some Air Force recruiting pamphlets. I figured I could pass them out to all the young women and men I would surly see at the Air Show.
What I quickly found was a lot of "kids" there with their families, but very few "recruitable-age" young people. What I saw the most of, were older couples. My impression was that a large percent of these "seniors" were veterans. They wore hats, tee shirts, pins and military memorabilia that was quietly declaring they were veterans. What I noticed was a lot of these "older" veterans who you might mistake as WWII era "troops", were actual Korea and Vietnam veterans.
I was a little taken back, to find so many Vietnam veterans who looked like my grandfather. We see so many movies and TV shows about Vietnam and they always seem to portray that era of veterans as "young".
The truth is American service personnel were in Vietnam as far back as the late 1950s. The Korean War is over 50 years in our past. Our veterans are obviously getting older and every year; fewer are showing up at air shows and "reunions". Only, to be mourned by their comrades who are still with us.
In the middle of writing this article I had to stop and phone Lt.Col. Floyd E. Smith. "Smitty" is a retired WWII, Korea and Vietnam, Air Force Veteran. He is in his late 70's and he is the man who convinced me to join the Air Force. I just wanted to make sure he was O.K. "Smitty" was in the hospital this past Christmas and to tell you the truth, the missing man formation I witnessed at Starkville, kind of got to me.
I also called four of my uncles who served in WWII, one who served in Korea and a cousin who is retired, WWII Royal Canadian Air Force. Then I made a call to Major Anne Smith, USAF Ret.
She was stationed in Alaska with her join-spouse husband, Lt Col Lane Smith during the same time; I was at Elmendorf, AFB. Lane retired on 20 years and was dead from cancer inside of three years.
It is not just the "elder" veterans this country is loosing. I remember in 1963 when the USS Thresher (SSN-593), a US Navy submarine, sank with the lost of 129 officers and men. As soon as he heard of the sinking, my father (who is retired Navy) was on the phone calling some of the wives, of the lost sailors he had known.
I was in grade school, but I still remember the look on my father's face as he made those calls. He repeated these actions again in 1968 when the USS Scorpion (SSN-589) was lost. My sister was at Arlington National cemetary a few years back and took a picture of Major Audie Murphy's grave marker and sent it to me.
I was driving to school with my sister, when the news of Major Murphy's death in a plane crash, came over the radio. He had died on 28 May 1971 (Memorial Day weekend). I can not explain it, but I sill think of the man from time to time and I remember him not as a movie actor, but as one of the most decorated American veterans of the 20 century.
One of the "old" veterans I did not call that day (because it was Sunday and I only had his work phone) was a retired Air Force friend named Bob Day, of San Antonio. This I truly regret, because he died in a plane crash this past summer. I strongly suggest we young "veterans" pick up the telephone and called our "senior" veterans. Better yet, put your uniform on and go visit a retirement-home. I think you will be surprise how many veterans you will find there. I guarantee you, they will enjoy seeing and talking with you. A lot is owed to them and they will not be with us forever.
Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret.
I only met the Lady Gunner once, when she was in grade school.
Her father had come to visit me at Chanute Air Force Base, in the little town of Rantoul.
She was quiet and did not say all that much, in fact I hardly heard her speak.
One might have gotten the wrong impression she was timid or a little meek.
I had known her father's family since I was in high school.
I would go over to her grandparents house and try to be my "70s" cool.
Her father was younger than I, and he would hang on my every word.
When I suggested he not join the military, unfortunately these words he heard.
Vietnam had just ended and staying out of the Army was on
every ones mind.
I was not going to go into the services either, I admit in those days I was a little blind.
Who was I, giving advice on such an important subject - I knew so little about.
But the military in those days was something you worked hard, at keeping your children out.
The Gunner's grandfather was a Cavalry Officer back in 1943.
His old military memorabilia kept in his den, held a strong interest for me.
He started out on Army horses with a scabbard rifle at his side.
He finished that war going through Germany on a long tank ride.
The Gunner wanted to go to college and then on to Medical
The Illinois National Guard, with its tuition assistance was just the tool.
Go to basic training and get a technical skill.
Then go back home to college, and just do your weekend drill.
In the Guard she started out as a Medic and then became
an Army M.P.
I was a cop in the Air Force, so her being an M.P. was just fine with me.
She attends Eastern Illinois University, out in the prairie, in the land of very few trees.
Again this was fine, that is where I got my masters degree.
I have a tradition of phoning "old" veterans on
Memorial and Veteran's Day.
The list gets ever longer, but some years my condolences to the family is what I have to say.
The Lady Gunner's grandfather is at the top of the list, I use to make the call.
Last year on Veteran's Day I added the Gunner and we talked on the phone in her dormitory hall.
The Lady Gunner's unit got called up for the second Iraq
war and send to Fort McCoy.
I did not get to talk to her this Memorial Day because she was preparing to deploy.
We did a few e-mails and a letter now and then.
Then she went "in-country" and the communication has gotten rather thin.
The Lady Gunner is now in Iraq trying to sleep at night
in that miserable desert heat.
As an MP she works a checkpoint on a dangerous Baghdad street.
In the turret of her Humvee she scans the area for terrorist activity in that town.
Every mindful she is a ready-made target for an RPG round.
I watch the news about the Middle East on TV every night.
I am always looking for the Gunner, in hopes to see, she is all right.
We keep loosing fine young troops to attacks every week.
I keep watching the TV screen, looking for the Gunner on a bloody Baghdad street.
It looks like the Gunner is going to be there for at least
That is a long time to live with a tent, the damned heat and the constant fear.
They don't really want us there, they allege they want their country back.
But that is politics and for the Gunner, she only needs to worry about the next attack.
My daughter and I send the Gunner a "care-package"
and I heard it finally got there.
We sent a couple of Air Force T-shirts for this Army Gunner to wear.
I hope she uses them and her limited ties to the Air Force not sever.
Because they have American Flags on them and the words "Freedom-Forever.
We as a nation just need to get this over with and get our
troops back-that's all.
I want her back by next Veteran's day so I can make my regular "old veteran's"call.
This time she will be a combat veteran who has matured beyond her years.
We just want her home, to see she's well and relieve her family's fears.
The Lady Gunner has seized the moment and met her Nations
She is not like a lot of young people her age, who have in life, no-clue at all.
She cares; she knows what she needs to do and what is profoundly right.
Please God, keep Lauren safe in that dangerous Baghdad night.
The Lady Gunner goes to War.
Major Van Harl USAF Ret. 4 August 2003 Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque, NM firstname.lastname@example.org
Started with a group of twenty-five
In the year of twenty-eight
By those who'd lost a Son or Daughter
From the wartime's cruel fate.
When the Blue Star on the Service Flag
Was replaced with one of Gold
Everybody knew a Mother grieved
With a loss from that household.
"Out of tragedy, we were formed"
And, "Out of love we continue."
This legacy of Gold Star Mothers
With the heartache, that they knew.
They use the memories and love
Of those who gave their all
To help those other Veterans
Who answered our Nation's call
It's so sad, they still exist
And most likely always will
As long as, we go to war
There's a need they must fulfill.
(The following is etched on the Ellis County Veterans Memorial
in Waxahachie, Texas along with
Not enough credit given, to mothers, sisters, daughters,
Some too, who gave their all, the best years of their lives.
There's some, wore a uniform, of one of the military "branches"
And like all of those men, taken some deadly chances.
Some were in the U.S.O., brought a little taste of home,
With smalltalk, donuts, coffee, where'er the troops would roam.
There was "Rosie the Riveter," who fought her own war here.
And the nurses that eased the pain, and tried to ease the fear.
There were women pilots, who put their lives on the line,
Said, "Send me where you will. That suits me, just fine!"
Those who stayed at home, to raise their families,
Who gave all, went without, realizing harsh realities.
So many of those women, who gave so much more
Than they were asked to, during each and every war.
We honor those, upon this stone, and give our humble "Thanks"
To those who served with honor, in our country's wartime ranks.
I could see the flash of cannon
Over the ridge of the hill
Could hear the shots over my head
As I lay deathly still.
I looked up at the twinkling stars
Through the haze of the gunsmoke
And I could hear my comrades
Whispering as they spoke.
There was a quaking in their voice
That betrayed their mortal fear
And as I gazed into the sky
I asked, "What am I doing here?"
I thought of all those buddies
Killed on this foreign shore
And of loved ones back home
And then, I knew, "What for!"
To fight for God and Country
Is a calling, most will heed
To keep freedom safe from those
Who would plant an evil seed.
I lay there in my foxhole
Gripped by the numbing cold
But then, felt a warmth, from inside
Like I was held in the "fold".
I felt my best friend touch me
And couldn't believe he said,
"No need to call the corpsman,
'Cause he's already dead!"
And then my head felt light
As I looked down below,
Whispered, "I'll see ya', Bros
Because it's time for me to go!"
So many fates are left unknown
And so many rumors that abound
So many families ask the question
When will, the answers be found?
So many years have come and gone
Sometimes, hope is hard to keep
There's some who feel there's none
And in some, it's buried deep.
The pain, is in not knowing
How, to put loved ones to rest
When there is no way to prove
They have passed, the final test.
But, no matter what the answers
We can't let this cause alone
Until, each and every one of them
Is found, and brought back home.
It's hard to find, the stories
That, they won't talk about
It's hard, to realize the things
That they had, to go, without.
How can they let the feelings
(Even, they don't understand)
Show to, any other people
In this, Freedom's Land.
We can't know, the hardships
Unless, we were there
Especially, when they came back home
To those who didn't, seem, to care.
Unless you had, lived through it
Watching, Comrades that had died
Why should they, talk about it to us
Of, the tears, inside, they've cried?
Even, if they chose to tell us
What difference, would it make
Would it be worth the chance
That they, would have to take.
Why should they bare their soul
That's already been, stripped, clean
Because, even with, a picture of it
We couldn't see, what they have seen.
Sometimes, all we have to do
Is, to look into their eyes
And think that we might see or hear
Their, mournful, pain-filled cries.
That POW who came home
Who lived, through that Hell
Can't tell the stories, of the MIA
Who never had, a chance to tell!
So, we may never, ever, know
Of, the horrors, they have, known
And, if we think about it
It's probably best, that they aren't shown!
But there is, always an end
To every, never-ending story
Although sometimes, they're never told
In, all their Truth and Glory.
So if you ask about it
And if you ever wonder why
They won't talk of that nightmare
Maybe now, you might know, Why?
Del "Abe" Jones
White Bluff, TN
Only twenty years ago
She came onto this earth
Joined by Sis, Charity
At the time of Her birth.
Another older Sister
Two Brothers, Mom and Dad
Left behind to mourn the loss
With much Pride, within the sad.
Three women, "in country"
Doing their Duty with the Guard
But Mom and Dad, never guessed
That, it could be so hard.
Trying to help another People
In a foreign, far-off land
Fighting for, and against them
Is not exactly, what they'd planned.
Now, they want their "Babies" Home
Or at least, in some safe place
For fear of another loss
That, can never be replaced.
They have made their sacrifice
In the highest order of the day
Michelle, a Soldier who Gave All
Is the price, they had to pay.
MILITARY SPOUSE'S DAY (May 7)
It's a day set aside in May
To Honor those often left at home
Who stand beside their loved ones
Who are often on the roam.
They raise the family, pay the bills
And do it all without complaint
Many times they aren't too happy
But hold their feelings in restraint.
They're the backbone of the Services
And hold the line on the Homefront
They put their own lives on hold
With their Spouses' on the forefront.
Men and Women hold the "Fort" down
For their significant others
Who are off preserving Freedom
With their "Sisters" and "Brothers".
There's not enough Credit given
To those Spouses left behind
For they truly are a rare breed
Of a very Special kind.
Del "Abe" Jones
Please visit my 9/11 Memorial page
http://mywebpage.netscape.com/delabejones/page1.html (9/11 Memoriam)
http://mywebpage.netscape.com/delabejones/instant/memorial.html (more poetry)
I also have my first e-book, "THE WORLD, WAR, FREEDOM, AND MORE",
(re: Vietnam, Gulf War, and all Vets, Native American, Trail of Tears and
Chief Joseph, ) available for FREE in .zip or .exe format. Just ask for it.
23 Nov 57
Toasts were made and glasses emptied
Songs were sung and tears were shed
Hopes were voiced to meet again soon
Then goodbyes were softly said.
Memories of friendships linger
Always proving life worthwhile
When the present is dark and fearful
We think of the future and friends and smile.
Let us hope sometime – somewhere
Old friends can be together then
To laugh, to love, and drink of the peace
That we, in our way, will have helped to win.
Bless them, Lord, and bless them again
Those brave women and those brave men
Who serve us all with commitment full,
Who relax only when there is brief lull
In the never ending urgent demand
That they provide protecting hand;
Wherever, whenever, however needed.
The call to them is always heeded.
Some are called policemen, firemen too,
Also the intrepid ambulance crew.
Emergency nurses and urgent care docs
Hospital ERs without any locks.
And teachers to prevent many socks.
This group serves by shift and by day
Receiving a fair return in their pay.
Then there is our great military
Awesomely able, really quite scary
In abilities learned and skills quite perfected
They assure that we are very protected.
They watch over us by night and by day
No enemy approach will cause them to sway.
The world’s their beat, they don’t retreat
But go where duty calls,
Always ready to save the day
No matter what befalls.
Our soldiers, sailors, marines and Coast Guard; Our airmen in the blue;
We owe our freedom to you who served.
Patriots all, you are tried and true,
You gave to us your very best
That our beloved country would pass the test.
Our gratitude must be profound
Our thankful voices join in hearty sound,
Our supporting love and appreciation
Expressed to you by this great nation.
Merle Zirkle 2012