May 26, 2014, - 8:58 am
And so it is Memorial Day 2014. Every day, I try to remember the sacrifices–in this case the ultimate sacrifice of life–that our soldiers made so we could be free. But as I look around me, I wonder if America has forgotten. Forgotten the brave last heroism of American men like 2nd Lt. John Bobo, who stood and fought on the stump of the leg he just lost in Vietnam, so that his fellow troops could live, while he slowly died (more on him, below).
U.S. Army Sgt. Chris Moore at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Photo by H. Darr Beiser/USA Today)
Michigan Natl Guard Staff Sgt. Duane Dreasky is Buried in Arlington Natl. Cemetery
It’s a likely fact that more Americans can name all the Kartrashians in attendance at this weekend’s wedding between the dung heap that is Kanye West and the toilet bowl that is Kim Kardashian than can name even just one battlefield where Americans died to protect this trash. Places like Lexington and Concord and Iwo Jima and Gettysburg, Omaha Beach and Vietnam’s la Drang Valley. These are cemeteries where the ghosts of America’s battles and wars cry out asking if what they died for is still worthy or if the current America has made it soon in vain. This morning, NBC’s “Today” show is telling us where to get the “best Memorial Day fashion.” Huh? Memorial Day isn’t about fashion. It used to be a somber day for mourning. All of the stores were closed, and it fell on a certain day, not usually a Monday for a three day weekend of shopping, barbecues, and all around blissful ignorance.
I look around the supermarkets in my hometown, where I grew up, and where I was shopping earlier this week. Far from Dearbornistan, my Michigan city was never what it is now. I see women in Muslim hijabs and niqabs (the full-Ninja face veil) everywhere, as if it were an irreversible Othello game, and the Al-Qaeda side is silently taking over the board. Every year, I notice the cancer spreads more and more, set off by 9/11, the war in which 3,000 non-military were not the only fallen, but our nation fell and willingly bent over backwards for the attackers who’ve doubled their population and houses of jihadist worship on our soil. Is this what our soldiers died for overseas? So that we would give away our borders, our culture, willingly and in an invidious, insidious manner not even noticed? So that we would just put our hands up in a gesture of careless surrender, sigh, and continue with our shopping?
Graves of Some of Our Fallen Heroes at Arlington National Cemetery
I look at stories like the one I saw in the print edition of USA Today earlier this week and predecessor similar stories from America’s West–stories about sheriff after sheriff refusing to recognize Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers–so that convicted, hardened criminals who are illegal aliens would be turned over to ICE to be deported. Instead, the sheriffs are releasing these thugly invaders into the great American abyss, saying they are “innocent” and should be free. No biggie that living here illegally is a crime and that these are hardened criminals doing time. It’s bad enough that the Obama Administration has dumped tens of thousands of murderers, rapists, and other illegal alien miscreants into our midst. Now, America’s sheriffs are doing it. Again, I ask: is this what our soldiers died for? So that they could give their lives to preserve this Union on U.S. soil and abroad, while we just give it away from within?
This was supposed to be a holy day for America and Americans. Not religiously holy. But patriotically holy. If you cherish your American citizenship and your freedom, today was supposed to be a time to reflect . . . reflect on our military men’s ultimate sacrifice and what it means. Not reflecting the best sun rays at the beach. But sadly that’s what it’s become.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
And, so, I will do my part to observe it the other way. Today, I remember and share with you the story of John Bobo, one of America’s many great, heroic fallen, who deserve our thanks, our appreciation, our re-dedication to saving this sinking nation from invaders and cancers from without and within. USA Today’s Jim Michaels, who served in the Marine’s infantry, tells us of this man’s incredible heroism.
The battle over Hill 70 near the DMZ in Quang Tri Province in the Republic of Vietnam on March 30, 1967, was not strategically significant. But it produced feats of heroism on a remarkable scale. Among the medals earned that bloody day were a Medal of Honor, the highest award for bravery, and four Navy Crosses, the second-highest decoration for bravery. There were other awards from that battle, and many acts of heroism on Hill 70 doubtless went unrecorded.
Perhaps the most extraordinary story was that of 2nd Lt. John Bobo, a 24-year-old weapons platoon commander, who was gravely injured when a mortar round severed his right leg below the knee. With a web belt serving as a tourniquet, he jammed the stump of his leg into the dirt to further staunch the bleeding. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Bobo refused medical evacuation, begging his men to prop him up against a tree so he could continue firing at the enemy with a shotgun. “It was just him, all by himself,” said Jack Riley, then a Marine corporal on the hill with Bobo.
Bobo’s story is known to generations of Marine second lieutenants going through training at Quantico, Va., where a mess hall and building are named in his honor. That’s where I first heard the story as I underwent training in 1981. Second lieutenants are in a vulnerable position. During war, “boot” lieutenants fresh out of school are acutely aware they will assume command of platoons whose Marines often have combat experience.
Bobo was something of a patron saint for second lieutenants. He seemed one of us, and yet his actions were almost beyond comprehension. It was a question on all our minds: How would we react if facing similar circumstances? But who was John Bobo? With Memorial Day approaching, it seemed a good time to find out.
He grew up in Niagara Falls, N.Y. He was not a standout student or athlete, but he had what coaches often call “heart.” His brother, Bill Bobo, now 69, recalled how heartbroken John Bobo was when the junior varsity football coach turned him down because he was too small. So he began weight training. “He was never going to let that happen to him again,” Bobo said.
In Vietnam, Bobo wasn’t the gung-ho officer who was going to get his men killed in pursuit of a promotion. He was quiet, competent and cared deeply about his men. In March 1967, Bobo’s unit, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, was on an operation designed to draw out North Vietnamese Army units. It was late afternoon when the North Vietnamese attacked. Mortars began raining down on their positions. Then NVA soldiers used the thick elephant grass to maneuver into the position where Bobo and the company command post was located.
Bobo had moved forward in an effort to support his rocket teams who were engaging at close quarters with the enemy. He was single-handedly preventing the unit from being overrun. Then a mortar round all but severed his right leg. A Navy corpsman, Kenneth Braun, reached Bobo, placed a tourniquet on him, gave him some morphine and prepared to bring him to safety, according to an account in Leatherneck magazine in 2009. Bobo urged him to leave him there, but the corpsman began dragging him to safety.
Jack Riley, then a Marine corporal, heard rifle shots and turned to see that Braun and Bobo had been shot. Bobo was killed, and Braun was seriously wounded but survived. By nightfall, the company had lost 15 Marines; many more were injured. But they had held off the NVA attack and delivered a devastating blow to the enemy. “There were enemy dead everywhere,” said Richard “Butch” Neal, a lieutenant at the time and later assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.
Back in the United States, the story barely made a ripple. “It was,” Neal said, “just a lot of good Marines doing good things on a very bad day.”
John Bobo was an incredible American. Like many American men who gave their lives in battle, he was a regular guy and an average Joe off the battlefield, but a courageous patriot who rose to beyond the occasion when called, giving everything he had, including the most precious thing: his life, so that others could hold onto that priceless treasure.
For all the men like John Bobo, we must remember their sacrifice beyond this one day.
America’s fallen patriots, Rest In Peace. Thank you for everything you gave, everything you sacrificed.
And for those still on the wasted battlefield of Afghanistan, let’s bring the rest of them home, so that we don’t mourn any additional men next Memorial Day.
And let’s do something to save this country that they died for from dying from within.
Graves of American Soldiers Who Gave Their Lives in WWII @ Normandy
Tags: 2nd Lt. John Bobo, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, America's fallen, America's fallen heroes, Company I, Jack Riley, John Bobo, Kenneth Braun, Memorial Day, Memorial Day 2014, North Vietnamese, North Vietnamese Army, NVA, Quang Tri, Quantico, Richard "Butch" Neal, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Marines, USMC, Vietnam