Friday, February 29, 2008

Geriatric Air Force

Back on January 17th, we reported on a disturbing article from the Air Force Association: Our Tired Air Force.

Now click on the following article from CNN, Washington: Generals Warn of "Geriatric Air Force."

Thomas P. M. Barnett, global strategist says,

"I know Maj. Gen. Paul Selva and he's a very good guy. The conversation he's trying to make happen has to occur in stages. This is the first stage: getting people aware of the force structure train wreck built into the plans right now. Simply unsustainable. Everyone inside the USAF knows this, many on the Hill do, but it's not yet a publicly acknowledged reality, so that's the first step.

Once that's realized, then the next conversation begins. General Selva is a smart man who understands the big picture well. The people around him are also trying very hard to make good things happen, but you have to tread lightly when you're sporting only two stars."

Monday, February 18, 2008

February Book of the Month

No Time for Fear: A True Story of Heroism and Victory
Author: W. B. Berry
Xlibris Corp 401 pgs Pub 2003

Being the citizen of a free country, especially America, amounts to a lifetime journey of civic responsibility and is played out in many different settings. Some examples that are immediately familiar are family, work, education, volunteering, and military duty. No Time For Fear chronicles the WWII experiences of B-25 pilot William B. Berry who ultimately became successful in all. Born February 27, 1919 in Fairmont, West Virginia, his story is that of a true American military hero who has led a remarkable life of untold bravery, great courage, and amazing strength of character.

People from West Virginia are always proud of their military heroes and there have been many throughout its history. High profile figures Chuck Yeager and Pete Everest, the first two pilots to break the sound barrier, come immediately to mind. But others, like William Berry came back to West Virginia to lead long, productive lives building a better community for their fellow citizens seemingly unfazed by their early experiences in ruthless combat.

Those of us from the FSHS Class of ’55 knew many as they were among our fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins, and neighbors. They were engaged in multiple fronts as WWII touched all of us in some way. I, for one, am always humbled when in the company of citizen soldiers like Mr. Berry who unselfishly gave so much of their life to ensure a better future for their progeny. It is a lesson for the ages.

Berry’s 145 day journey as a downed AAF pilot in the brutal northern Italian Alps began December 10, 1944. In fact, it began early in the morning before take off with a frightening premonition that he would be shot down during his mission to bomb the Brenner railroad. No time for Fear provides the reader with chilling details of survival when man is tested to his limits. One feels a part of the story as the author leads you through his daily struggles after exiting his crippled bomber to find himself in a situation so alien that few can imagine.

Lt. Berry, 25 years old, was shot down 250 miles behind enemy lines, parachuting onto a rock and snow covered mountainside while wearing only a jump suit, flight jacket, and his .45 caliber pistol. He was separated from his crew, suffering from intense cold and biting wind, without provisions, and a German Army already on the hunt for him and the other downed airmen. That truly is “no time for fear.”

After being rescued by a young Italian farm boy who led him over five mountain ranges during an all night trip in freezing winds and deep snow to a partisan encampment, Lt. Berry’s immediate desire was to return to U.S. lines through Yugoslavia. The story of failing that attempt and subsequently being invited into the Partisan and British Special Forces as a commander in his own right is simply stunning. He was then successful in molding his group of men into a most effective Partisan fighting brigade within a minimum time.

No Time for Fear recounts with authentic prose the life of Berry and his men in constant danger while carrying out acts of sabotage, espionage, and combat against an occupying German force. Intertwined are descriptions of daily activities in his Partisan encampment that needs to be fed, supplied with ammunition, and disciplined in order to remain a viable fighting force. In that regard, by the end of the War Lt. Berry was considered one of the best of all Partisan leaders. On May 12th, 1945, William B. Berry was awarded the Silver Star by the United States Army Air Corps for “…gallant devotion to duty reflecting great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.”

The larger story in No Time for Fear is that of ordinary citizens from ordinary circumstances becoming fearless warriors in the defense of our Country. From all walks of life throughout our history such men have constantly risen to the occasion through their willing sacrifice. Berry and his cohorts from WWII are to be commended and revered for their military and civilian accomplishments. Many gave their last full measure of life in devotion to duty for the protection of all.

Lastly, William B. Berry’s compelling story is well worth reading as it has great implications for our citizenship during the present confrontation with worldwide terrorism. We are constantly made aware of the danger to our life of personal and economic freedom. The journey of that citizen warrior during WWII leaves us a better country as will the journey of those presently serving. They inspire through their courageous leadership and determination; and, our Nation is fortunate to have them.

Reviewed for FSHS Class of 1955 by
Richard L. Spencer, Ph.D.
Lt Col, USAF Ret.

Personal profile of William Bernard Berry

Mr. Berry was the second son of Hallie and Milton Berry, Fairmont, West Virginia.. His brother, Arthur, is now deceased. The family moved to Clarksburg, West Virginia in 1921. His father died in 1931 and by the time Mr. Berry was seventeen the family had moved seven times. During his teens he was employed at White’s Drug store working evenings six days a week. After graduating from High School in 1937 he began work with the Hope Natural Gas Company in Clarksburg. Through ICS studies he became a Class A civil engineer with Hope in 1941.

During thirty-six years with Hope and the Consolidated systems he held a number of management positions. Retiring in 1975 he formed his own independent oil and gas exploration and operating company drilling more than 550 wells.

Additionally, he served on the Clarksburg City council for eight years and served as president for several local and state organizations. On May 6, 1984, he was awarded the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters by Salem College and in 1985 was elected Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Mr. Berry served with the Air Corps for three years and was assigned to the 380 Bomb Squadron. He was awarded the Silver Star, Air Medal with two Bronze Leaf Clusters, EAME, Theatre Ribbon with three Bronze Stars, American Theatre Ribbon, WWII Victory Ribbon, and two Overseas Bars. He was discharged with the rank of Major.

Mr. and Mrs. Berry now spend their retirement between West Virginia and Florida.

There can be no argument but that William B. Berry’s life revolved about the highest level of civic responsibility to include family, work, education, volunteering, and military duty. He was successful in all.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"Combat Citizenship"

For a couple of years, I have been promoting the concept that non-US citizens serving in combat as members of the armed forces should have expedited opportunity to become citizens. Recently, I wrote on the topic to the president, CJCS, all service CoS and secretaries and AUSA, AFA and Navy League.

Responses from the CNO and SAF/PAC gave the welcome information that such procedures already exist. SAF/PAC sent a copy of pages from the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. They detail the expedited procedures under which a member of the military can become a citizen, even (and especially) in the AOR and also after leaving the service.

I encourage anyone who knows people in this situation to check the USCIS website at Go to Services and Benefits and look for the title Naturalization Information for Military Personnel. There are two pages that could be printed and sent to those who would benefit.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Don Coyle gone west

Don Coyle passed away at about 0545, 2 Feb 2008, in Turtle Creek, PA. His daughter , Colleen, passed on the information. He had been suffering from cancer for some time. His passing was quiet, though, after an evening of good conversation. Don served at Dover from 1958 to 1962. He became a standardization pilot and chief of the simulator. Among his experiences were a 1958 flight through a West Texas hail storm that nearly totaled 62009 and nearly 100 engine restarts between Goose and Prestwick, when water trapped in the fuel iced up the injectors.

I will be happy to pass on any messages to the family. Just send them to and I'll bounce them to Colleen.