N.W.BOYER…Christian Author

Posts tagged “Arlington Cemetery

Most Precious Commodity…Freedom

On Valentine’s Day, when the world was hearing about the terrible tragedy in a Florida school, a ceremony and a Missing Man Formation fly over was happening for a hero at Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C.  The ashes of a brave military veteran were being laid to rest.

Sometimes we have to stop and think of those who have been extraordinarily brave as they paid a price for FREEDOM.  This is why I want to write about Col. Leo K. Thorsness, a recipient of the Medal of Honor in the U.S.A.

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The Medal of Honor is presented by the President of the United States for valor in service to his country.  Col. Leo K. Thorsness received that honor and what made it extremely special to him was that he was nominated for the honor by his peers.

This is his story as a patriot and POW (Prisoner of War) who spent years of torture and abuse at the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War.  Because he understood personally what a POW goes through,  he spoke out that President Trump owed all prisoners of war  an apology when the President said, concerning Senator John McCain,  that he “liked those who weren’t captured.”

COL. LEO K. THORSNESS

“Col. Thorsness joined the Air Force in 1952 and was sent to Vietnam in 1966 as a member of a squadron known as the Wild Weasels, whose mission was to destroy surface-to-air missiles  (SAMs) based in North Vietnam.  On April 19, 1967, Col. Thorsness was the lead pilot in a strike force of four U.S. F-105 fighter-bombers attacking SAM positions near Hanoi.  He and his electronic warfare officer, Harold Johnson, knocked out one site with a missile and scored a direct hit on another with bombs.  But they soon realized that one plane in their group had been hit, and the crew members had ejected.  While flying in circles over the parachuting airmen, Col Thorsness spotted an enemy MiG-17 fighter jet and shot it down.  As U.S. rescue helicopters approached, Col Thorsness heard through his radio that another MiG formation was nearby.  Despite being low on fuel and ammunition, he flew through anti-aircraft fire and single-handedly engaged four MiGs in aerial combat for 50 minutes.  Col Thorsness pursued one MiG, “flying right up his tailpipe,” he said later, and damaged it with cannon fire.  Flying as low as 50 feet above the ground and as fast as 900 MPH, he chased the other MiGs from the area.  As he returned to his base, he was about to refuel from an airborne tanker when he learned that another F-105 in his group was in even greater need of fuel.  Col. Thorsness let the other plane go to the tanker, hoping he could glide back to safety on fumes.  When he touched down, his fuel tanks were empty. 

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Major Thorsness and Captain Johnson flew this Republic F-105F-1-RE Thunderchief, 63-8301, on 19 April 1967. It was one of 61 F-105Fs that were upgraded to the F-105G Wild Weasel III configuration beginning in late 1967. It survived the Vietnam War, but was destroyed 20 December 1974 when, assigned to the 35th TFW at George AFB, California, it crashed at the Cuddeback Lake Gunnery Range after an engine failure. (U.S. Air Force)

Eleven days later, on April 30,1967, Col Thorsness was shot down over North Vietnam on this 93rd mission.  Ejecting from his plane at 600 mph, he suffered serious leg injuries before he and Johnson were taken prisoner.  For the first year, Col Thorsness was held in solitary confinement and tortured almost every day.  His back was broken in four places.  Another Air Force pilot, Fred V. Cherry, was tortured for teaching Col. Thorsness and other POWs a system of communication by tapping on walls.  While at the Hanoi Hilton, Col Thorsness shared a tiny cell with John McCain and two other men.  “Other than when they took you out to beat you or interrogate you, you were together 24 hours a day,” Col. Thorsness told the Huntsville Times in Alabama in 2008.  “You get to know each other so well, talking about your families, failures, weaknesses, hopes and dreams, everything.”  He and McCain were released in 1973.  Later that year, Col Thorsness received the Medal of Honor from President Richard M. Nixon; he then retired from the military…While at the Hanoi Hilton, Col. Thorsness and other prisoners measured their cell, calculating that one mile equaled 225 laps around the cell’s 23-foot circumference.  By walking 60 miles a week, Col Thorsness figured that he could cover the distance to the United States – 10,000 miles – in about three years.  “All of a sudden it became 100% real to us,” he said in 1992.  “If we could walk home in our cell, we knew whatever had to happen in the world would happen, and we really would get home.”  Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Leo K. Thorsness died May 2, 2017.  He was 85.  Survivors include his wife since 1953, the former Gayle Anderson; a daughter; and two grandchildren.   (taken in part from a comment on video shown below)

VIDEO INTERVIEW OF COL. LEO K. THORSNESS  (turn up sound)

 

What is a Missing Man Formation?

The missing man formation (sometimes instead flyby or flypast) is an aerial salute performed as part of a flypast of aircraft at a funeral or memorial event, typically in memory of a fallen pilot, a well-known military service member or veteran, or a well-known political figure.   Several variants of the formation are seen. The formation most commonly used in the United States is based on the”finger-four” aircraft combat formation composed of two pairs of aircraft. The aircraft fly in a V-shape with the flight leader at the point and his wingman on his left. The second element leader and his wingman fly to his right. The formation flies over the ceremony low enough to be clearly seen and the second element leader abruptly pulls up out of the formation while the rest of the formation continues in level flight until all aircraft are out of sight. In an older variant, the formation is flown with the second element leader position conspicuously empty. In another variation, the flight approaches from the south, preferably near sundown, and one of the aircraft will suddenly split off to the west, flying into the sunset. In all cases, the aircraft performing the pull-up, split off, or missing from the formation, is honoring the person (or persons) who has died, and it represents their departure.  (from Wikipedia)

We agree with Col. Thorsness that our most precious commodity in this country is FREEDOM.

Below is a video example of the Missing Man Fly Over at Arlington Cemetery


A Grateful Nation…Meaning of the folds of the American Flag

President Elect Trump and V.P Elect Pence laid a wreath at Arlington Cemetery the  day before his inauguration as the 45th President of the United States.  Many flags have been flown and folded at Arlington Cemetery. These flags have been tenderly laid in the hands of those who have lost their loved ones who have served in the nation’s military.   It is the highest honor to have served and to be buried in this sacred spot.  How much do you know about this special place and the meanings behind the folding of our American flag?  We will now share this with you.   Pass it on to the young people that you know about the honor and beauty that our flag represents.

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What is the history of Arlington Cemetery?

“Arlington National Cemetery is comprised of land that once belonged to George Washington Parke Custis, grandson of Martha Washington and step-grandson of George Washington. Custis spent his life commemorating Washington and built Arlington House on the 1,100-acre plantation as a memorial to the first president. In 1857, Custis willed the property to his daughter Mary Anna Randolph Custis, who in 1831 had married U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Robert E. Lee.

After the Lee family vacated the property at the onset of the Civil War in 1861, federal troops used the land as a camp and headquarters – beginning on May 24, 1861. Throughout the war, three forts were constructed on the grounds as part of the overall defenses of Washington, D.C. In 1863, the government established Freedman’s Village on the estate as a way to assist slaves transitioning to freedom. The village provided housing, education, employment training, and medical care. A property tax dispute, amounting to just over $92.07 cost the Lee family their home and in January 1864, the U.S. government purchased the property for $26,800 at public auction. After Mary Lee’s death, her son, George Washington Custis Lee sued in 1882 for the return of the property, winning his case in front of the Supreme Court of the United States.  Lee then sold the property, which by this time contained the graves of over 6,000 Union soldiers, to the federal government for $150,000.

By the third year of the Civil War, the increasing number of fatalities was outpacing the burial capacity of Washington, D.C. cemeteries. To meet this demand, 200 acres of Arlington plantation was set aside as a military cemetery.  The first military burial took place on May 13, 1864, for Private William Christman of Pennsylvania. On June 15, the War Department officially designated this burial space a national cemetery, thus creating Arlington National Cemetery. By the end of the war, burials included thousands of service members as well as African-American Freedmen.”  (Arlington Cemetery website)

What is the meaning behind the folding of the American flag?

Desecration in any form of the American flag is a despicable act because of all that it means to the freedom we share.  The men and women who died throughout history are wrapped and draped at least symbolically in this flag.  The families who carefully preserve the flag given to them by a GRATEFUL NATION hold this flag in great esteem.

 

Durkin Honor GuardThe folding of the American flag has a symbol or meaning for each fold.  They are the following:

The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

The fourth fold represents our weaker nature; as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace, as well as in times of war, for His divine guidance.

The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.

The 10th fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.

The 11th fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The 12th fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.

When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

holding-the-american-flagPresentation of the folded flag to the Family 

How to present:

  • Stand facing the flag recipient and hold the folded flag waist-high with the straight edge facing the recipient.

  • Kneel, on one knee, in front of  the flag recipient and solemnly present the flag to the recipient.
  • Present the flag using the veteran’s military service preferred wording…a Grateful Nation:
    • Army … This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service. (Note: President of the United States isn’t an official reference in the Army flag presentation.)
    • Marine Corps … On behalf of the President of the United States, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s service to Country and Corps.
    • Navy ... On behalf of the President of the United States and the Chief of Naval Operations, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s service to this Country and a grateful Navy.
    • Air Force … On behalf of the President of the United States, the Department of the Air Force, and a grateful nation, we offer this flag for the faithful and dedicated service of [Service member’s rank and name]. (NOTE: If the next of kin has expressed a religious preference or belief, add: “God bless you and this family, and God bless the United States of America.”)
    • Coast Guard … On behalf of the President of the United States, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s service to Country and the Coast Guard.

(Provided by Military Funeral Honors / U.S. Defense Department)

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In 1916, the president of the United States issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day; in August 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress.   For those of us who honor our country and the flag, any day is a good day to fly the American flag.

 

 

Link:  Retiring the American Flag Properly


From Boyer Writes and Boyer Gifts MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Having just returned from Washington, D.C with my husband who attended the Army-Navy game (He was a Navy chaplain.), we ran into some strong, motorcyclist who were there to help lay the wreaths, shown above,  at Arlington Cemetery.   Some may not know that these wreaths, some 5,000, are donated by Worchester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine.   The owner, Merrill Worchester, provides the wreaths and the trucking cost from Maine to Washington each year, since 1992.   Harrington is not a wealthy town, but is  proud that these wreaths are given each year to honor the many fallen from all wars.  Hats off to Mr. Worchester and a very Merry Christmas. 

We at Boyer Writes and Boyer Gifts, also wish you, our readers,  the Happiest Holidays and a very Merry Christmas.  For us, it is the  season for joy at the birth of  our  Savior.  We wish you and the world personal peace and joy.

Enjoy the wonderful Christmas  performance below.