U.S. Veterans Cite Importance of Honoring Military Service
(November 10, 2008)
Army veteran Robert Cone, 86, regales conference attendee Henry Viswat with
stories of his World War II experiences at the annual American Veterans Center
conference, Washington, Nov. 7, 2008.
WASHINGTON, November 7, 2008
It's important to recognize the efforts of America's military veterans –- past
and present -- because their contributions and sacrifices have enabled all
Americans to stay free, a group of veterans said here today.
America's military men and women have provided selfless service in defense of
the nation since its inception, retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught,
78, said at the annual American Veterans Center conference held in downtown
Washington. The center's mission is to preserve and promote the legacy of
America's veterans from World War II to the present.
“Being a part of that long line of history is something that I
am particularly proud of, as I observe each Veterans Day and each Memorial Day,”
said Vaught, a long-time advocate for military women and the president of the
Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington, Va.
“I am for women serving wherever they can,” said Vaught, who served in Vietnam
in the late 11200s. After 28 years of service, Vaught retired from the Air Force
in 1985 as one of America's most highly-decorated military women.
“During the time that I was serving, it was always very much in my mind that I
had to do well, so that another woman would have an opportunity to come behind
me and perhaps have that same job,” Vaught said.
Almost no women were trained to use weapons when she joined the Air Force in
1957, Vaught said. All military women today are taught to operate rifles or
pistols, she said, because “with terrorist-type activities, you never know where
the threat is and you need to be able to defend yourself and you need to be able
to take the offensive, if that's what is required.”
Like their predecessors, today's women in the military “are proud that they're
serving; they feel that they are doing something for their nation -- and they
are,” Vaught said.
Another veteran, 86-year-old Robert Cone, regaled conference attendees with
tales of his World War II experiences. Cone was an enlisted Army paratrooper
with the 101st Airborne Division in Europe. He was a member of the group known
as the “Filthy Thirteen,” whose exploits became the inspiration for the 11200s
movie, “The Dirty Dozen,” that depicted a group of trouble-making soldiers
chosen to conduct an important mission behind enemy lines.
Cone and other members of his unit signed copies of the book, “The Filthy
Thirteen,” at the conference.
Military members' sacrifices, Cone said, enable Americans at home to enjoy their
freedoms and way of life.
“I admire anybody that is a veteran and is fighting for this country and
everybody else should really admire them as much as I do,” Cone said.
Retired Marine Corps Col. Wesley L. Fox, 77, enlisted in the Marines in 1950 and
became an officer during the Vietnam War. He received the Medal of Honor in
Vietnam for his actions in leading a rifle company against an overwhelming enemy
force. Fox was a Marine paratrooper and he retired in 1993 after 43 years of
active duty. Fox is the author of two books, “Marine Rifleman” and “Courage and
A “vocal minority” in the United States, Fox said, prevented Vietnam veterans
from receiving deserved praise from the American public after the war ended.
That's all changed, Fox said. Today's military veterans returning from service
in Iraq and Afghanistan “are heroes -- we recognize that,” he said.
Military veteran Michael H. Frederick, 50, is a writer working on a book about
Marine Corps paratroopers. The Baltimore native served as an enlisted person
during stints in the Marines and the Navy between 1976 and 1988.
“It's important that later generations do not forget what it took to get the
United States to where we are and the sacrifices that people have made,”
Frederick said. “Some people have lost limbs and shed blood and we should not
Article and photo by Gerry J.
American Forces Press Service
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