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Letters to the editor

John "J.P." Power

In Paul Donen’s recent letter to the Daily, he was gracious in properly recognizing all the various contributors to the success of Armed Forces week in Vail. I would like to go a step beyond and specifically recognize the contribution of Gen. Natonski, the current command general of the First Marine Division. His message was one thing, but the spirit of his remarks was quite another. Here’s a disorganized take from an old Marine (you’re never ex until you are dead) which you get for free (and that’s probably what it’s worth):First, let me give you an idea how busy the commanding general of an infantry Marine division is. He leads over 20,000 Marines, including three-infantry regiments, an artillery regiment, armor and air, and multiple supporting units. Even while the general was here in Vail, 1st Marine Division units were still in transit to Camp Pendleton or in Iraq. Taking time to be here under these circumstances says volumes about Corps values and our honored dead. For us grunts (guys with guns on the ground), chats with the CG are like SWAG (Stuff We Ain’t Gonna Get). Example: When I checked into the First Marine Division as a young Marine officer in 1969 (DaNang, Vietnam) the CG, Ormond Simpson, had a standing order that no officers would be posted to their commands until the CG had personally greeted each of us. As fate would have it, Gen. Simpson could not schedule my visit for three weeks, so I was temporarily assigned to headquarters company, which among other duties is responsible for the defense of the command post. Instead of tanning on China Beach, I got to run combat night patrols to suppress enemy mortar and rocket attacks on the CP before officially getting into the war. So, when I heard Gen. Natonski was coming to Club 8150 in Vail, I knew it had to be a typo.But it wasn’t a typo. So said event organizer Paul Donen. Not only would the general and his aides be there, but so would amputees, widows of Marines and sailors, Navy Seals, a Marine color guard in full dress blues, and heads of various Navy/Marine Corps foundations. By my eyeball count, those we were honoring may have outnumbered the rest of us. I’m sure that was not the case, but it felt that way. Patriots in our valley won’t want to miss next year’s event.The Marine Corps Foundation came about as a result of friends in New York commenting on two articles that appeared on the same page of the Times. One was a story describing how the children of a Marine Medal of Honor recipient could not pay the bills to attend college. The other was a celebration about the Humane Society’s successful annual fundraising gala for homeless dogs and cats. The friends asked, “Why is it we can take care of homeless dogs and cats, yet can’t take care of the homes of the brave?” The Marine Corps Foundation was born, and the general was here to honor its purpose.Gen. Natonski’s remarks addressed the Battle of Fallujah, where he commanded overall coalition forces. While the tactics, strategy and conduct of the battle were fascinating, what was particularly poignant to me, however, was the tale of Pfc. Adelsberger. After the death of his platoon corpsman (medic), Adelsberger jumped into the void, rushed from wounded Marine to wounded Marine, pulled them upstairs to a rooftop, rendered aide, and called for medical evaluation. He returned to his platoon and continued aiding his fallen comrades until he succumbed to his own wounds. He recovered, returned to his unit, and was killed in combat 30 days later. Pfc. Adelsberger was meritoriously promoted to lance corporal (fire team leader) and posthumously recommended for the Medal of Honor. It is helping the children of Marines like Adelsberger that brought our small band together at Club 8150. The funds raised were small as compared to what we do for our own dogs and cats in the Vail Valley, but we continued the journey for the homes of the brave.John “J.P.” PowerCaptain, USMCR, 1968-1971Vail, Colorado


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