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Duty, Honor, Country
Geoff Metcalf
Monday, Nov. 10, 2003
Duty, Honor, Country are not just words. They are a gift that has been inculcated into the military and of which all Americans are beneficiaries.

The release of the Jessica Lynch book will fuel debate from two factions with opposite views of women in the military. One side wants to use Jessica as a hero and role model to insinuate more women in uniform. The distaff view is “We told you so! Women in combat are going to be raped and beaten.”

The great sadness is the young former soldier isn’t done being a victim and she can’t do ‘Jack’ to stop the mutually exclusive exploitation.

Jessica is not a hero. However, she may yet be compelled to become heroic as she endures the aftermath.

Meanwhile, in honor of Veterans Day I want to share with you some real heroes.

"Rocky" Versace was an Army Special Forces captain, and he was a hero. He was captured by the Viet Cong on Oct. 29, 1963, and in the best tradition of the military Code of Conduct he resisted his captors ... in spades. Eventually he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. [Click here and scroll down to his citation: ]

Rocky spent two years chained in a bamboo cage and endured almost daily torture by the Vietnamese Communists. He routinely frustrated his Viet Cong interrogators by refusing to obey demands that he denounce America and accept the Communist propaganda.

He told his captors as they were dragging him to an interrogation hut: "I am an officer of the United States Army. You can force me to come here, you can make me sit and listen, but I don't have to believe a damn word you say."

One day the Viet Cong decided they would accept no more resistance from Versace. On orders of Viet Cong leader Vo Van Kiet (subsequently Vietnam's prime minister), Versace was dragged from his filthy, mosquito-infested bamboo cage for the last time. He was forced to kneel with his forehead pressed into the mud and was shot in the back of the head.

Donald Cook was a Marine Capt. Cook was awarded our nation's highest award for valor because, during his years of captivity, he jeopardized his own health by sharing his meager supply of food and scarce medicines with other U.S. prisoners who were sicker. [Click here and scroll down:]

He was/is legendary for his refusal to betray the military Code of Conduct. On one occasion, Viet Cong put a pistol to Capt. Cook's head, demanding that he denounce the United States. Capt. Cook calmly resisted and recited the nomenclature of the parts of the pistol.

The Viet Cong were so infuriated at Cook's resistance that they isolated him from other American prisoners. They intentionally denied him much-needed food and medicine. Like Capt. Versace, Capt. Cook disappeared and was never heard from again.

William J. Crawford was a janitor at the Air Force Academy. Bill Crawford was a genuinely nice guy, a comforting father figure to incoming cadets, and an interesting person to visit with. "I met the janitor today," a new cadet might say to another cadet somewhere in the course of their first year at the Academy.

"Nice guy, isn't he," the second cadet would answer.

"Yes, and very interesting. Did you know he used to box Golden Gloves?"

"Oh, yeah. He was a local champion. Does that surprise you?"

"Well, kind of. He's so nice and friendly ... doesn't seem to be the 'fighter type' of guy."

"Doesn't seem to be the 'fighter type'? Didn't you know?"

"Know what?"

"THAT janitor wears the MEDAL OF HONOR!"

[ Scroll down to Crawford, William J.]

Dr. Robert Jarvick once wrote: "Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them. They make things happen." THAT was B.T. Collins. Since I’m sharing, you should read what B.T. wrote about ‘The Courage of Sam Bird’.:

On Veterans Day I will say a prayer and have a drink for Rocky, Donald, Bill, Bull Simons, B.T., all the names on the black wall, and those more recent heroes who personify Duty, Honor, Country.

Charles M. Province wrote,

It is the soldier, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,
who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the soldier, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the soldier,
who salutes the flag,
who serves under the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag,
who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Visit Geoff Metcalf's Web site at He may be contacted at [email protected].
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