Friday, March 11, 2011

This post is important for so many reasons

Normally I have a lot to say, and most of the time it is more for me than anyone else. Today I read something that touched me in a way that I have not been touched for a long time. The last time I felt this way was in 2007 when I rode the Missing Man Formation for Run For The Wall on the leg from Ludlow, CA to Needles, CA. Anyway some of you that read this and follow it already know that Bob Shoreparty Talley is my younger Brother. He is the guy that originally talked me into doing Run For The Wall. He is also a computer Genius, and I of course am not. He makes up the Central Route Specific Web page, and it is pretty much an intense labor of love on his part. Anyway he called me this morning and told me to read one of the tributes on that page. So I went to, clicked on route specific web sites, and then clicked on Central Route 2011, then as directed I clicked on page 6 of the tributes posted there. What I read was a story of why one of our riders (I have never met this man, I believe he was a FNG last year, and may even be a Southern Route rider, but that does not matter, I believe as most do in the thought "One Mission, two routes", Any way I copied Toothless' words and am going to post them below. Warning before reading if in a public place get your sunglasses on, or wait until you are alone, because as simple as this man's story is, it will get to you.
To Toothless, thank you again, I cut and pasted your words exactly as you posted them on the forum, and although I did not ask your permission to place them here I hope you understand that this blog,although not dedicated to the Run (once again the writer is) mostly pertains to the Run, and to the readers, in the next 67 days I will be posting more and more about the Run and for my trucking friends I will be giving you heads up on where to watch for riders heading to California. So now with a big thanks I am going to try and click the paste button and make this work. In a later post I will put the link in because the art work Shoreparty added to this is as priceless as the story itself is.

Posted in the General discussion forum on the pages is the following story of why Toothless is riding (and I agree with Shoreparty it is also why I and most others do this run every year....till they all come home) Thanks Toothless:

This was something that’s been going through my mind since reading the article
in the post titled “The Things That Carried Him”, it finally came into my thick skull, of just who I was riding for.

I had told myself it was for a school friend that was killed before I graduated from high school. He and I weren't really close but his brother was my age and we were good friends. I had also told myself it was for the guys killed in the Phu Bi area north of Da Nang. These men were killed during the Tet offensive of 1968 when a rocket exploded on their compound.

I was stationed in Da Nang with MCB9 (Mobile Construction Battalion) from Sept 67 until March of 68. I was on my duty site in the shops area one morning, when my company Platoon Chief came up to me and ask me “What have you done now, Middleton?” with a stern look on his face. My mouth dropped a foot and I just stared at him for what seemed like several minutes at the time, but it was just a second or two. The chief, with hands on his hips, said “Well you've gone and done it now!” He finally smiled and said you got a new duty assignment. The reason that this took me by surprise was because I had learned just three days before that I was going to be assigned to Phu Bi with the next detachment that was scheduled to leave in the next couple of days. As I stood there with this deer in the headlights look on my face, the chief told me I needed to report the battalion XO asap.

I cleaned off what oil and grease I could and reported to the X O’s office. I still didn't realize what was going on until he told me that I was to pack my gear and be ready to be on the tarmac at DaNang AFB at 0500 the next morning.

Before I had joined the battalion and while in transit I had put down on a form that they give you while you’re in between duty assignments, called a dream sheet. This sheet lists what types of units you would prefer to be assigned to according to your rating. Of course being as I was assigned to a battalion, that was my last choice. My preference was a smaller scale unit. I was to fly back to the states and take up my new assignment. I had been with the battalion at this time for seven months in country. I followed his orders and spent the rest of
the day turning in gear and packing all my belongings to be shipped home.

The next morning there was a driver to take me to the airstrip. After checking in at the base I was instructed to make my way out on the tarmac to a spot where I was to wait for boarding the C141 that was to be my ride back to the world. There was another Sea Bee from another unit waiting when I got to the area. This guy was sitting on his sea bag and looked up at me and said, “Have a seat. Think it will be a little while before they let us board the plane,” as they where
just starting to load the cargo.

We stared talking just to pass the time and tell each other why we were there. We were far enough away from the plane that we really couldn't tell what they were loading. The only light was from the rear cargo lights and the lights from the forklift being used. As we were sitting there, a Navy lieutenant walked up and was to be the third passenger on the plane. A few minutes after the officer joined us, they were finishing up the loading and the plane’s loadmaster came and said we could board now. We gathered our gear, went to the plane and entered through the ramp. The loadmaster told us to take any of the jump seats we wanted on either side of the plane and as far forward as we could go. The other sailor and I went down one side of the cargo and the Lieutenant went down the opposite side. We finally sat down just a few
feet from the cockpit.

We were visiting and not paying that much attention to our urroundings and by the time we had found a seat and put our gear down the back
ramp was coming up and we were on the move. The pilot made haste and we were in the air in short order. The other sailor and I were still talking as we climbed into the early morning sky.

I sat back in the seat and decided to stretch out and put my legs up on the green nets that are used to strap the cargo down. The next thing I new I was staring into the net, at almost the same time the other guy turned to me and said, “You know what those are?” I turned and nodded.

“They’re caskets.”

Yes they were. Six stacked crisis-crossed on the pallet. There were three pallets making a total of eighteen. We sat for a few moments and didn't say a word. As we sat there looking the lieutenant stepped from around the front of the stack with a look on his face similar to the ones that we must have had. We looked at him and with out being asked both said “Yes Sir. We know.” he turned and went back to his seat.

The other guy and I just sat there for awhile without saying anything. I finally got up to take a closer look under the netting. The standard GI issue caskets with the same cold metal case still used now I would suppose. I noticed the red tags attached to each one. Some had names and some did not. The tags that didn't have names were simply labeled “Unknown for FBI Identification and Verification.” As I recall there were four or five marked with that notation.

The flight was to take us to Japan to where we would change planes to head back to the states and it seemed like an eternity for us to get there.

Once I was back at CBC Hueneme, I joined A Seabee Team and three weeks later was back in VN for another seven months. After arriving back in country we received notice that five of the guys that were sent to Phu Bi were killed in a rocket and mortar attack on the compound. That was to have been my assignment.

Now getting back to the real subject. I was reading the article mentioned earlier, when I came to the section about how up until 2005 the bodies of our fighting men and women were treated like cargo it hit me. Those men on the plane with whom I’d flown out of Da Nang was my real reason, along with the men from my battalion, I was going to ride.

These eighteen men didn't have flag draped caskets or escorts or even a simple ceremony when loaded on to the aircraft. They were treated like just so much cargo and simply shipped home. So I ride for them and all the others that came home this way. May our country never treat it's fallen this way again.

By the Grace of God I missed that transfer to Phu Bi, and I could have been in one of those cold metal boxes.

Joe Middleton

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Poster Girl


Thanks Beccy Cole for supporting the efforts towards freedom, and I will put your poster on my wall, because you are on the right side of history. Those who have not had to fight for freedom have no idea what has been sacrificed to give them that freedom. Freedom is not free. THANK YOU for what you have done!