Good morning, Legionnaires and veterans’ advocates, today is Thursday, April 22, 2021, which is Earth Day, Girl Scout Leader Day, and Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.
Today in history:
Earth Day, an event to increase public awareness of the world’s environmental problems, is celebrated in the United States for the first time on April 22, 1970. Millions of Americans, including students from thousands of colleges and universities, participated in rallies, marches and educational programs across the country.
On April 22, 1915, German forces shock Allied soldiers along the western front by firing more than 150 tons of lethal chlorine gas against two French colonial divisions at Ypres, Belgium. This was the first major gas attack by the Germans, and it devastated the Allied line.
On April 22, 1945, Adolf Hitler, learning from one of his generals that no German defense was offered to the Russian assault at Eberswalde, admits to all in his underground bunker that the war is lost and that suicide is his only recourse.
Pat Tillman, who gave up his pro football career to enlist in the U.S. Army after the terrorist attacks of September 11, is killed by friendly fire while serving in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. The news that Tillman, age 27, was mistakenly gunned down by his fellow Rangers, rather than enemy forces, was initially covered up by the U.S. military.
On April 22, 1994, former President Richard M. Nixon dies after suffering a stroke four days earlier. In a 1978 speech at Oxford University, Nixon admitted he had screwed up during his presidency but predicted that his achievements would be viewed more favorably with time. He told the young audience, “You’ll be here in the year 2000, see how I am regarded then.”
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Military.com: ‘Dirty, Embarrassing Secret:’ Veterans with PTSD Struggle to Shed Stigma of Bad Paper Discharges
- Military Times: About a third of service members have taken the COVID-19 vaccine
- Associated Press: Putin vows a ‘quick and tough’ Russian response for its foes
- Stars & Stripes: Organizers say Pentagon is jeopardizing Memorial Day motorcycle ride
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21 Apr 2021 | Military.com | By Richard Sisk
A sailor helped prevent the sinking of the destroyer John S. McCain. A Marine received the Purple Heart when his vehicle was blown off the road in Afghanistan.
Both now bear the lifetime stigma of having their service branded as "other than honorable" by the military.
They are among thousands of veterans cut off from Department of Veterans Affairs benefits by so-called "bad paper" discharges despite a Defense Department directive and an act of Congress ordering discharge review boards to give "liberal" consideration to upgrades for those with diagnoses of post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury.
The sailor, who spoke to Military.com on condition that his name be withheld, was a 19-year-old seaman culinary specialist when the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer McCain collided with the Liberian-flagged chemical tanker Alnic MC at 5:24 a.m. Aug. 21, 2017.
"I was in the galley on the grill," he recalled, when the bulbous bow of the tanker bashed a 28-foot hole in the port side of the McCain, which was east of the Strait of Malacca on the way to a port call in Singapore.
"It felt like an earthquake, pretty much this huge thump. Everything got tossed around, everything was shaking," he said. "And yeah, that’s when we figured out we got hit and the ship was sinking."
He and the rest of the crew went to general quarters in a frantic rescue effort, which the Navy credited with keeping the listing destroyer afloat.
"We had to pretty much do what we were assigned in that situation to pretty much save the ship," the sailor said.
"The crew fought back against progressive flooding across numerous spaces for hours on end. Facing constant peril from flooding, electrocution, structural damage and noxious fumes, these sailors prevented further loss of life and ultimately saved the ship," the Navy said in a release from the time.
Ten sailors were killed and five injured in the collision. The teenager who had been working the grill knew them all.
"The crew was about 300 people so I would see those people every day when we were underway. We just ran into them all the time — talk to them, hang out, things like that," he said.
The memories of the collision haunted him, and he would eventually be diagnosed with PTSD.
"I got other than honorable [when I was discharged]," he said. "It’s because I popped on a urinalysis test for smoking weed. And that was just due to my mental state at the time