Monday, August 27, 2012

Cpl Huff footnote

Life is full of interesting footnotes. Sometimes these can be even more fascinating than the events themselves. I myself do not believe in coincidence but I'll let you be the judge.

The day we placed Cpl Huff's casket in the funeral home the family had brought in a collage of photos to display. Most of these were pictures of a young Clarence Huff before he joined the Corps. A few were of Cpl Huff's Marine days.

A close up taken from the photo below.

As I looked at the pictures one struck me as particularly familiar. I knew I had seen it somewhere before but kept quiet about it. The next day I scrutinized the various photos hanging on the walls in our building and sure enough, right outside my office door was this photo:

Clarence Huff is standing in the second row the third from the left.
The inscription reads:
"Daddy-O's Raiders"
4th Ptl. - B Co - 2nd Inf Tr Bn - Tent Camp #2
Camp Joseph H. Pendleton, Calif.
6 Oct. 1950

A closer view. Cpl Huff is second from the left at this angle.
It amazed me that all this time his picture was hanging on our wall and we never knew how significant this picture was to us and our history. 

An even closer view, third from the left again.

Two months after this photo was taken Cpl Huff would fall in battle. Sixty two years later it would be my special privilege to honor the Huff family by presenting the flag to his oldest brother as a symbol of appreciation for Cpl Huff's faithful service. 

Photo by Bob Morehead.
"The safest place in Korea was right behind a platoon of Marines. Lord, how they could fight. The Reds told us they were afraid to tangle with the Marines and avoided them when they could be located." - Major General Frank E. Lowe, USA, Presidential observer on Korean War, in the Washington Daily News 26 Jan 1952.

Semper Fidelis,
America's SgtMaj

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Rest easy Marine

Aug 15, 2012 we had the honor of escorting Cpl Clarence Huff on his final journey.
Photos by Thomas Ondrey, The Plain Dealer.

Marines are uniquely aware of their history and legacy. We who wear the uniform today stand on the shoulders of the valorous few who came before us. It has been our awesome privilege to be a part of this closing chapter for Clarence Huff and his family and to bid farewell to one of our own. 

Semper Fidelis,
America's SgtMaj

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Finally home

On Tuesday Aug 14, the Marines of 3/25 had the privilege of being on hand to welcome home the remains of Corporal Clarence "Bud" Huff.  As some of you may remember for my post last month, Cpl Huff fell in battle 62 years ago on Hill 1520 south of Yudam-ni in Korea. Although he was a known battlefield casualty, his remains were never identified. Just this summer, forensics ninjas working for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command were able to ID his remains. He had been buried at Punchbowl Cemetery in Hawaii as an Unknown all this time. One of my Marines, Sgt Smith, flew the Hawaii to escort Cpl Huff back to his family here in Ohio.

The plane arrives.
The Cleveland Airport allowed the Huff family and our pall bearers on the flight line to meet the plane. The local VFW had a color guard present as well as TSA. A number of airport employees lined up to meet the plane as well.

The Huff family a few of America's finest watch the proceedings.
As the plane taxied to a halt passengers pressed against the glass to get a look at the line of flags and uniformed types standing by to render honors. Many took pictures and applauded when the pilot announced they were transporting the remains of a fallen Marine.
Pall bearers step off under the eye of the VFW honor guard.
A view from the plane thanks to our baggage handler friends from the airport.
Sgt Smith reported to me that as he got up from his seat the stewardess reminded passengers to please remain seated out of respect until the remains were embarked from the plane. As Sgt Smith moved through 1st class a gentleman stood up in front on him obviously on his own program. From way back in coach a voice suddenly bellowed: "Sit the &%#$@ down!" In a flash the startled passenger was back in his seat. Sgt Smith never broke stride.

Welcome home brother.
Another view from within the bird.

Bagpipes play as Cpl Huff is placed into the hearse. Note the airport employees rendering a hand salute near the front of the vehicle.

Overheard among the Huff family:

"Well, he's finally home."
"Yeah, much to his chagrin probably. He just spent the last 62 years in Hawaii and we brought him back to Ohio just in time for winter."

We traveled with the procession back to the funeral home. We placed him in the room where they were to have the memorial ceremony the next day. Inside the casket Cpl Huff's remains were sealed beneath the bedding. On top in repose was a set of dress blues with his military awards. We gave his uniform a once over to make sure it was all squared away. Poor guy had to endure one more uniform inspection before we'd let him go. 

Semper Fi brother! Welcome back to the land of the free.

America's SgtMaj

Monday, August 6, 2012

Heard in the clear!

I've heard dialogue is difficult to write. I imagine that's true considering remarks made in real life are just too good to be made up. Another installment of comments heard in the clear.


Technology is full of wonderful advancements. But I can't help but wonder if it could turn into too much of a good thing at some point:

"I'm waiting for Apple to come out with a house."

Among consummate professionals, land navigation is considered a high art. Terrain association and the use of landmarks are skills to be coveted:

"We're looking for a duck in dress blues." 

Toughest duck on the block.

Motorcycle safety and the use of personal protective equipment is often used as a measuring rod of an individual's intellect:

"He thinks Moby Dick is a venereal disease; so of course he doesn't wear a helmet."

Marine Corps Recruit Depots are the source of many astonishing tales. What follows is a conversation overheard in MCRD San Diego and should give one hope for the next generation.

Company Commander speaking to assembled recruits: "So, who's got family coming to graduation?"
Recruits all enthusiastically respond except one: "This recruit, sir!"
CO to the recruit who didn't answer: "You don't have anyone coming out to see you graduate?"
Recruit: "No, sir!"
CO: "Why? Money issues?"
Recruit: "No, sir!"
CO: " isn't anyone coming to see you?"
Recruit: "This recruit's mom is a *#&@ hippie, sir!"
CO: "...Very well, carry on!"
Recruits: "Carry on, aye, aye, sir! Good afternoon, sir!"

Today's final offering was found posted above a urinal in one of Cleveland's finest establishments:

Semper Fidelis!
America's SgtMaj

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

More on veteran employment

Today we have a guest post by Anna Brown of AmeriQuest Transportation Services. They are big supporters of the Hire Our Heroes initiative. After reading my post in June on the subject, they asked if I'd follow up with something by one of their writers. So here you go:

Addressing the Myths that Prevent Veteran Employment

Earlier this month, Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, revealed The Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative, which will effectively provide $29 million in grants to give veterans better access to local transportation. One of the main incentives behind enacting the initiative was the belief that more readily available transportation jobs would mean a decrease in unemployment. However, limited access to transportation work is just one of several factors that have pushed veteran unemployment over 12%.

In today’s economy, many find it difficult to gain full employment, but it’s especially difficult for returning veterans. There are many misconceptions and prejudices that keep employers from choosing to hire veterans. In addition, there are many veterans who feel uncertain and nervous as they seek to transition back into the civilian world. They feel stereotyped and unappreciated, and they often aren’t sure how to explain their skills to employers. What would-be employers often fail to see in these returning military members are leadership skills, hands-on training, adaptability, and problem-solving skills that should not be overlooked in the workplace.

The Problem
In a release from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the 2011 unemployment rate of post-September 11th veterans was a staggering 12.1%. The unemployment rate among the U.S. population in general is currently 8.2%. In particular, young male veterans between 18-24 had an unemployment rate of 29.1%, while non-veterans in that group had an unemployment rate of 17.6%. In the 25-34 age range, the difference was 13.4% unemployment vs. 9.5%. These differences are significant, is just one indication that employers may be viewing veterans differently than non-veterans.

The Stigma
 When a veteran returns from an overseas deployment, some will view them as a hero. However, employers tend to view them with suspicion. There has been a great deal of publicity and federal funding to help veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).This additional publicity has also perpetuated myths that every veteran is maladjusted and unable to function appropriately in society. There are several types of stigmas that affect veteran employment:

          - Unreliability. Rather than being seen as helping our nation, veterans are often viewed as unreliable due to multiple moves and deployments. One veteran detailed her experience with this stigma on the Veteran’s Affairs blog in February of 2012.

          - Volatility. As mentioned above, due to publicized incidents involving PTSD and TBI, veterans can be stereotyped as having anger issues that can snap without warning. While PTSD and TBI can cause emotional and cognitive issues, these problems can often be overcome with proper treatment, accommodation, and counseling. In addition, not every retuning service member is afflicted with these mental illnesses.

          - Lack of Qualifications. Unfortunately, the extensive training and leadership of our men and women in uniform is not as easily recognized in the civilian world as it should be. Many employers are only interested in whether an individual has a college degree, and will gloss over the hands-on experience, adaptability, and leadership veterans possess. In addition, many veterans struggle to describe their experience and skills in a way that applies to the business world.

The Solution
There is no easy solution to these issues, but there are several things that can be done by both employers and veterans to ease the unemployment situation and help more veterans become employed.

          - Hiring Our Heroes Act. Signed into law by President Obama in November of 2011,this Act gives higher visibility to the employability of veterans and helps remove some of the stigmas. It has also created resources to help veterans translate their skills in ways that would apply to the civilian workforce. In addition, there are new online tools to search for jobs and new resources for case management and career counseling. These tools are available on the Joining Forces resource page.

          - Education of Employers. Many employers feel that a veteran could be a danger in the workplace, or that accommodation for disabilities would cost the company too much money. What an employer doesn’t realize is the experience, leadership, adaptability, and skill of a veteran can bring great advantage to the company and often the cost of accommodation is minimal. America’s Heroes at Work has created a fantastic Employer Tool Kit that can be of great help to employers in seeking to hire and integrate the skills of veterans into their business.

Today’s economy isn’t an easy place for anyone seeking employment. However veterans shouldn’t have a more difficult time than other job seekers. As veterans learn to articulate their skills, and employers and society move to overcome the stigmas they have toward veterans, there is reason to believe the veteran employment situation can improve. 

The article was written by Anna Brown in partnership with AmeriQuest Transportation Services. AmeriQuest is a fleet management company that provides services including the sales of fleet equipment, truck leasing, and the sales of used freightliner trucks.