FirstSpear TV

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Vietnam Veteran Shares First-Person Account of Life in the Bush in 1968 in Debut Memoir

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

In ’13 Months,’ author Bruce A. Bastien reflects on his experiencesas a young U.S. Marine Corps grunt serving a 13-month tour in Vietnam

SAN DIEGO – For many Americans, the Vietnam War often conjures mental images of high-action military combat overseas, unprecedented frontline media coverage of the war as it unfolded in Vietnam, and tensions across the U.S. as protestors called for the war to end. In “13 Months: In the Bush, In Vietnam, In 1968,” author Bruce A. Bastien draws back the curtain of this high-conflict period to share his experience as a young Marine – both the common notions of war and the mundane, daily life experiences that shaped his 13-month tour of duty.

“13 Months” sweeps readers up on a coming-of-age journey through a U.S. Marine Corps grunt’s daily struggles, battles, and funny moments as he navigates a new and sometimes unforgiving environment. Bastien’s book shares with readers the range of emotions and physical discomfort he experienced during his service, from unmitigated terror to utter boredom, hot and dry to wet and cold, rested and ready to frazzled and wired.

“13 Months” also shares Bastien’s experience maturing from a young man to an adult as he grows philosophically, finds his confidence, develops the ability to handle stress and strain, and learns lessons about friendship, love, difficulty, danger, deprivation, and loss. Bastien reflects on his friendship with the other American men with whom he served who came from all different walks of life, backgrounds, races, and levels of learning. The common element among them was their humanity, bravery, and willingness to risk their lives to help one another, all the while hoping to find their way back home.

“This is a personal account of the feelings, frustration, horror and friendships, of a young man under very exceptional conditions. It describes the grassroot experiences of a young marine on a mission for his country, but where questions arise of the ultimate purpose, the Why,” Mårten Wikström wrote in an endorsement of the book. “It is not a story of heroes, but a sincere description of what a young American boy experienced. What was the purpose of this war? And even, what was the purpose of some of the movements of the soldier’s unit? This is a very realistic story of how many young Americans must have experienced their role in Vietnam. The narrative doesn’t dwell in excesses, or drama, yet describes the horror and fright very clearly, but also the extreme boredom and man-to-man conflicts that arose.”

Ultimately, Bastien’s book is a gripping and unforgettable story peppered with supporting photos about a boy’s journey to becoming a man that highlights the incredible power of camaraderie and friendship. “13 Months” keeps the memories of the people who served during the Vietnam War alive and provides a glimpse into the negative impact and harrowing toll of war on individual lives.

13 Months: In the Bush, In Vietnam, In 1968

By Bruce A. Bastien

ISBN: 978-1-6632-0456-1 (sc); ISBN: 978-1-6632-0458-5 (hc); ISBN: 978-1-6632-0457-8 (e)

Available through iUniverse, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

About the author

Bruce A. Bastien has had dual careers in data processing and aviation. Bastien’s previous roles include computer salesman for IBM, business applications computer programmer, consultant, and owner of a “Cloud” service bureau business that hosts client business applications. He has also worked as a flight instructor and owner of a Part 135 on-demand airline, and he earned commercial pilot and flight instructor certificates for single and multi-engine aircraft with instrument ratings. Bastien holds degrees in biometry, computer science, and accounting. He currently resides in San Diego with his wife, Carol. To learn more, please visit

Historical Auction Block

Monday, May 10th, 2021

Are you tired of Ebay and all it’s rules about what you can sell and what you can’t?

A new list-it-yourself online auction site was recently launched called Historical Auction Block. In partnership with the U.S. Military Forum and Worldwide Military Forum this is an auction site run by collectors for collectors. Low listing fees, which are FREE until June 1st, after June 1st:

$0.10 posting fee

$0.05 Buy It Now & Classified fees

$5.00 Maximum reserve auction fee

All sales are a flat 5% final value fee!

You can post items from all wars and Countries with limited restrictions! US medals (Purple Hearts), Third Reich, signed Japanese flags, etc… Sorry but no Firearms or live ammo.

You can choose your payment options, your sale terms, feedback for BOTH buyer and seller, easy to use, mobile app will be available soon too!

Administrators take very seriously the fraudulent sale of reproductions as originals. They will make every attempt to ensure that items are being sold as described!

Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicle Turns 50 – Tried-and-Tested Warhorse of Germany’s Mechanized Infantry

Sunday, May 9th, 2021

The Marder infantry fighting vehicle celebrates its 50th anniversary today: it was a half a century ago, on 7 May 1971, that the German Army took formal deliver of the first serially produced vehicles. This took place at simultaneous ceremonies in Kassel and Kiel – the corporate seats of the legendary IFV’s original manufacturers, Thyssen-Henschel and Krupp MaK. Both companies have belonged to Rheinmetall since 1999 and 2001, respectively.

At the time of its inception, the prime mission of the new IFV was to defend the national territory in Central Europe: teamed with the Leopard 1 main battle tank, the Marder was supposed to play a pivotal role in the mobile operations of the Bundeswehr. But fate had different plans in store for the vehicle. During the Cold War, the Marder infantry fighting vehicle’s role was confined to the major exercises held by West Germany and its NATO partners to demonstrate in no uncertain terms their readiness to defend themselves. In the meantime, the Leopard 1 has long since vanished from the Bundeswehr inventory. The same is true of other systems of that bygone era, among them the Luchs armoured reconnaissance vehicle, the Starfighter F-104 fighter-bomber, and the BO 105 and Bell UH-1D helicopters. The Marder, on the other hand, went on to prove its mettle in foreign deployments, including in Kosovo and Afghanistan. As part of the Quick Reaction Force, it has engaged in firefights in around Kunduz and Mazar-e Sharif. The vehicle continues to serve the German military to this day. Nor is Germany the only Marder user nation: the vehicle also features in the armies of Chile, Indonesia and Jordan.

Rheinmetall has accumulated vast experience and expertise in the Marder domain. On behalf of the Bundeswehr, in recent years the company has carried out various measures aimed at boosting the combat performance and extending the service life of part of Germany’s Marder fleet.

This includes the installation of air conditioning in the fighting compartment; new vision equipment for the driver, gunner and commander; integration of the MELLS multirole lightweight guided missile system; and a new drivetrain. Thanks to measures currently underway to extend its service life, the Marder is likely to remain operational until the end of the decade.

Battle-tested and extremely reliable, the Marder is destined to remain an important asset of Germany’s mechanized infantry forces for some time to come, even now that the branch is on the verge of epochal change: on 18 March 2021, the Chief of Staff of the German Army confirmed the battle-worthiness of “System Panzergrenadier”.

In essence, System Panzergrenadier consists of an upgraded version of the Puma infantry fighting vehicle, supplied by PSM GmbH, a joint venture of Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, and the VJTF2023 version of the Future Soldier – Expanded System (IdZ-ES), a state-of-the-art soldier system developed by Rheinmetall. Its mission is to increase the firepower and combat effectiveness of the VJTF 2023, which will be led by Germany. By fielding System Panzergrenadier, the formation will be equipped for the first time with a digitized vehicle platform – the Puma IFV upgraded to VJTF status – plus a soldier system featuring digital radio technology. Close-meshed networking of the soldiers’ sensors and effectors with those of the infantry fighting vehicle minimizes the time between target detection and target engagement. This melding of capabilities into one total system enables effective tactical interaction between the troops and their infantry fighting vehicle, in turn enhancing the combat effectiveness of mechanized infantry formations.

SCUBAPRO Sunday – The Battle of the Coral Sea, May 4-8, 1942  

Sunday, May 2nd, 2021

The Battle of the Coral Sea is known for being the first Naval battle where the two opposing forces never met. It was the birth of the aircraft carrier. No surface ships sank another ship in this battle. It was also one of the Allies’ first victories in the war in the Pacific. It did come at a hefty price for the Allies, at a loss of 1 aircraft carrier, the USS Lexington CV-2, 1 Destroyer USS Sims DD-409, 1 oiler USS Neosho AO-23, 69 aircraft and 656 people killed; the USS Yorktown was also significantly damaged. The Lexington was so severely damaged that the U.S. sank it with torpedoes the day after the battle. The Japanese lost 1 Light strike carrier (Jeep Carrier), 1 destroyer, 3 small warships, 97 aircraft, and 966 people killed.

The Allies learned of the intended plan of the Japanese to seize Port Moresby in New Guinea. The Japanese wanted to take control of the Coral Sea and use it as a staging base to invade Australia. When the Japanese landed at Tulagi on May 3, carrier-based U.S. planes from a Task Force 17 struck the landing group, sinking one destroyer and some minesweepers and landing barges. Most of the naval units covering the main Japanese invasion force that left Rabaul, New Britain, for Port Moresby on May 4 took a route to the east, where they clashed with TF17.

On May 5 and 6, 1942, opposing carrier groups sought each other and, on the morning of May 7, Japanese carrier-based planes sank a U.S. destroyer and an oiler. Allied planes sank the light carrier Shoho and a cruiser. The next day Japanese aircraft crippled the U.S. carrier Lexington and damaged the carrier Yorktown. U.S. planes crippled the sizeable Japanese carrier Shokaku so bad that it had to retreat away from the battle. So many Japanese planes were lost that the Port Moresby invasion force, without adequate air cover and harassed by Allied land-based bombers, turned back to Rabaul.

The four-day engagement was a strategic victory for the Allies. The battle, which U.S. Adm. Ernest J. King described as “the first major engagement in naval history in which surface ships did not exchange a single shot,” foreshadowed the kind of carrier warfare that marked later fighting in the Pacific War.

My Stepfather was on the Lexington during this battle. He was a Water Tender (today’s Machinist’s Mates) in a boiler room when a Japanese torpedo slammed into it. After they abandoned the Lady Lex, he spent the next month and a half making his way back to San Diego before he could get any new clothes and a new sea bag. Like every good sailor, he went out and got drunk, lost his seabag and was arrested by shore patrol. He ended up in the brig and had to rent a seabag so he could get out because without a full seabag he would have had to stay in jail. He was one of the most significant people in my life and one of the biggest reasons I joined the Navy. He joined in 1939 and had great pride in being in the Navy. He had left Pearl Harbor on December 6, 1941, so they could bring planes to Midway. He was supposed to get out in early 1942, but stayed in for the duration of the war.

A little over two years ago, the USS Lexington was found at the bottom of the Coral Sea, and she was seen for the first time since she was lost so long ago. God bless all the sailors and airmen who are still interned in her and never had a chance to be someone’s Stepfather or live their lives.

Silent Warrior Foundation Announces the 6th Annual Whiskey & War Stories Honoring Operation Eagle Claw

Sunday, April 25th, 2021

The Silent Warrior Foundation is proud to host the 6th Annual Whiskey & War Stories™, which will be held on August 21, 2021, at the Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch, Arizona.

This annual fundraiser will honor the men of Operation Eagle Claw. An in-depth discussion of the mission moderated by board member David Hall, SOCS (SEAL), USN, Ret. will be the highlight of the event. This night will bring together members of the rescue team and former hostages.

There will also be an online auction of tactical unicorns and military memorabilia to help raise funds for the charity.

Last year’s 5th Whiskey & War Stories™ brought together the men of Operation Ivory Coast otherwise known as the “Son Tay Raid” and raised over $200,000 to benefit veterans in need. This event also kickstarted the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Son Tay Raid.

Individual tickets for the event are $150 per person. A limited number of Patriot Sponsor Packages are also available for $3,500. This special package includes a table for 8 and a VIP meet and greet with the men of Operation Eagle Claw on Friday, August 20, 2021.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased from the Silent Warrior Foundation’s website.

Special room rates available. Click here to book your room at the resort.

The Silent Warrior Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 charity serving active and former U.S. military veterans and their families since 2010.

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Charles Upham

Sunday, April 25th, 2021

In honor of ANZAC day on the 25th of April, I wanted to share a story about an amazing ANZAC soldier. For those unfamiliar, ANZAC is the acronym formed from the initial of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. It started when the Australian and New Zealand soldiers in Egypt were grouped before the landing on Gallipoli in April 1915. The acronym was first written as “A & NZ Army Corps”; however, clerks in the corps headquarters soon shortened it to ANZAC as a convenient telegraphic code name for addressing telegram messages. Australia and New Zealand both observe ANZAC Day, which is their Memorial Day to remember their fallen.  It starts with a sunrise service, followed by ANZAC biscuits and beer with brothers and family.  ANZAC Day started as a remembrance of the invasion of Gallipoli (a plan hatched by Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty in WWI), but now it is used as a Remembrance Day for all who have been lost to war.  

I had the privilege of spending an ANZAC day in Perth a few years back and it was amazing to see how similar we are to our brothers in the Pacific. So, on the 25th of April, raise a glass to all of our brothers that have helped support us in everything we have done and helped promote freedom in the world. The ANZACs are the only countries that have been with the U.S. in every war we have fought since WWI, including Vietnam and the Global War on Terror.

Now….to the amazing soldier I mentioned.

Charles Upham is a true warrior in every sense of the word. He was a Captain in the 20th BN, 2nd New Zealand Expedition Force who served in Europe and North Africa during WWII. He is considered the highest decorated Commonwealth soldier of the war. Captain Upham is one of only three people to receive the Victoria Cross (VC) twice (the UK’s version of the Medal of Honor). He is the only person to receive the award twice in World War II.

Only three men in history have earned a second VC. The other two who managed this feat were medical officers: Col A. Martin-Leake, who received it in the Boer War and the First World War; and Capt N. G. Chavasse, killed in France in 1917, who was the only soldier to be awarded the VC twice during World War I. Interestingly, Chavasse’s family was related to Upham’s.

Captain Upham was awarded his first VC in May 1941 during the Battle of Crete on the Greek island. Upham led his platoon over 3,000 yards without heavy weapons during the initial phases of the fighting and took a heavily defended German position head-on. He single handly destroyed 3 German machine gun positions with grenades and a pistol coming within a dozen yards of the last.  Afterward, he helped evacuate the wounded under heavy fire, and when it appeared an entire company was about to be cut off in the fighting, he was sent to retrieve them. He covered over 600 yards through enemy territory to recover the platoon and led them to safety. He would later organize a counterattack on the advancing German forces that killed over 50 of the enemy before falling back. As he pressed forward, 2 Germans popped out and fired upon him, where Upham played dead. He crawled to a tree with only one functioning arm to prop up the rifle and took out the two Germans as they advanced upon him.  Later, still heavily wounded, he led his platoon and, through clever tactics, duped a section of German troops into exposing themselves, at which point he quickly cut down 22 with a Bren light machine gun.

The Battle of Crete lasted 11 days, and when it was over, Upham had put together an excellent resume for gallantry that could only be rewarded with the United Kingdom’s highest military honor.

He was awarded his second VC while in Egypt during the Battle of El Alamein. During the attack, he was wounded once again. Despite his injuries, he managed to destroy an entire truckload of Germans with hand grenades. He then moved on and destroyed a tank, several gun emplacements, and vehicles, even though he was shot through the elbow and his arm was broken. The enemy launched a massive counterattack. His company held its position till it was reduced to only six survivors.  Upham was eventually taken prisoner.

As a POW, Capt. Upham attempted several escapes to include jumping off a moving truck, jumping off a moving train, and, on one occasion, he tried to escape in broad daylight by climbing the fence. When a prison guard threatened to shoot him, Upham calmly ignored him and lit a cigarette. (that’s some James Bond stuff right there). He was later transferred to Colditz Castle and remained there until the end of the war.

It was reported that when King George was told about the recommendation being made for Upham’s second VC, the King remarked to Major-General Howard Kippenberger that a “bar to the cross” would be “very unusual indeed” and enquired firmly and asked, “Does he deserve it?” Kippenberger replied, “In my respectful opinion, sir, Upham has won it several times over.”

After the war, Capt. Upham moved back to New Zealand and became a farmer.  It is said that for the remainder of his life, Upham would allow no German manufactured machinery or cars onto his property.

ANZAC Day – 2021

Sunday, April 25th, 2021

Once again, ANZAC Day will be a solemn one. Normally there are parades and ceremonies, but this year is one for introspection.

I’ll tip back a pint this evening in memory of all the ANZAC troops, from World War One’s Battle of Gallipoli to the battle fought today. I’ll think of friends in both the Australian and New Zealand militaries and good times deployed to bad places.

Operation Eagle Claw

Sunday, April 25th, 2021

In the early morning hours of 25 April, 1980 President Carter announced to a stunned world that the United States had undertaken an ambitious raid into Iran to liberate 52 American hostages held illegally at our Embassy compound in Tehran. The assault force of what was known as “Operation Eagle Claw” can be seen here, loading C141s.

Unfortunately, the task force was unsuccessful and we lost eight American servicemen in a horrible aircraft ground collision.

However, their deaths were not in vain. The hostages were eventually repatriated and the accident was the watershed event that created, over the next several decades, the world’s preeminent Special Operations capability; USSOCOM and its components. Forty years later, we wouldn’t be where are without the determination of that fledgling task force. Join me in remembering those that had the guts to try.