- The Giants
Had the honor to attend the birthday party of combat veteran and all around good guy Duane Allman. In attendance was his fellow Vietnam War veteran Randy Riley who served in the Army's 25th Infantry while Allman was in the 101st. While both combat veterans it was amazing to learn that Randy had earned the Bronze Star while repelling an enemy ambush in 1970. Their APC was struck by an RPG that set off a series of events where Specialist and Rifleman Riley grabbed the 50 and commenced putting an end to the enemy's assault. The head account exceeded over 50 dead before the enemy rethought their battle plan. After reviewing the after action report the Battalion Commander commented that the citation should have been upgraded to at least the Distinguished Service Cross. The beauty of this whole story is not the pair's bravery in Vietnam is that these two beloved GIANTS grew up in downtown Los Angeles together. Junior hell raisers at the age of five they experienced plenty of colorful living before eventually serving in Vietnam.
It was a wonderful event for these two to reflect on their lives together and the fact that both survived that tough, thankless war. We salute their selfless service and immeasurable bravery.
Army GIANT and Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sergeant Ronald Shuruer II.
Fifty years after the battle of Hue, in Vietnam, Marine Corps combat veteran John Canley was awarded the Medal of Honor. Originally awarded the Navy Cross his citation was to upgraded to the Medal of Honor after years of lobbying by fellow GIANT and platoon mate John Ligato. In the battle when both were in Alpha Company 1/1 Marines their Company Commander was wounded and evacuated where then Gunnery Sergeant Canley took command of the fight. Their team fought back several suicide charges from a determined NVA whereas Gunny Canley braved the battlefield evacuating wounded Marines and dragging them to safety. In the one week battle the retired Sergeant Major saved several lives and flushed out the enemy restoring the city into Allied control.
Sergeant Alfredo "Freddy" Gonzalez was also awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously in the same battle. A big debt of gratitude for these incredible warriors.
Vietnam War SOG Commando and Medal of Honor recipient Captain Gary Micheal Rose United States Army current day.
Captain Mike and his SOG team mates from Operation Tailwind 1971 safely back in South Vietnam
Marine Corps GIANT's from the 6th Recruit Battalion in Orlando mixing it up with Toby Keith.
Combat Marine GIANT Brad Fagerstom shortly before shipping off to sunny Vietnam. The Devil Dog Rifleman served in the most thankless slot in the platoon, the RTO. Brad duked it out with the commies from 1965 to 1966, then again in 1968 with the 3/4 Marines before returning home. Currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife Mary and works as a crusader for a variety of veterans issues.
The family recently lost an Army GIANT and World War Two combat veteran Nicholas (Nick) Topolewski. Born in Ukraine, emigrated to Renwer, Manitoba Nick enlisted in the Canadian Army and was assigned to the 20th Field Engineers COY, RCE in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Shortly after Sapper Topolewski participated in the D-Day landings where he fought bravely dodging Nazi gunfire and shelling eventually helping with the liberation of Holland and France as a rifleman. After his service in Europe he returned to Manitoba and eventually made his home in Vancouver, BC where he started a family and his own plumbing and mechanical business. He was known for his sharp wit, hard work and as a great family man loved by all. He is survived by his wife of 69 years Jessie, four children, six grandchildren, seven great grandchidren and two brothers. God Bless you GIANT, Rest in Peace.
Combat Marine GIANT Corporal Paul Carpenter in Afghanistan. Shortly after this picture was taken Paul was wounded in a firefight that would eventually have him receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery. The GIANT threw himself on a grenade covering the blast and saving several members of his Squad.
The METAL family recently lost an Army GIANT and Vietnam Veteran Captain Michael "Doc" Ravitch. The Doctor was a combat veteran and Battalion Surgeon for the 5th Special Forces in Nha Trang for 15 months 1968/69. Known as an Angel in Green the doctor saved numerous lives of his fellow combat GIANT's on his deployment. One cannot wrap your head around the amount of joy he created by saving so many young lives in Vietnam that returned home. Doc Ravitch served in the Army Medical Corps until Mar 31, 1973.
After his service he moved to Boulder City, Nevada eventually setting up his practice in Henderson and was the first orthopedic surgeon in the city. He was married to the former Donalene Robinson for 44 years and had two daughters, Sara and Amanda. God Bless you GIANT and Rest in Peace.
Combat GIANT Marine Lt. Col. Roger Charles on a recent visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall visiting his fallen comrades. As Memorial Day approaches we kindly remind the METAL heads that it is the fallen GIANT's you pay respect to. It is probably the most sacred day of the year as we pay our respects and pray for these beloved Americans we will never see again. They died for our country and its liberty and we as a nation will be in their debt for eternity.
Lt. Big Kerm
Search and Rescue along the Pacific Coast
Freshly minted 2nd Lt. "Big Kerm" with his former masters.
Captain Giff carrying the METAL guidon at the Tunnel to Towers Run in New York City
Sgt. Price, Sgt. Hernandez, Joey Coulter, Staff Sgt. Smith
Chris Kotch enlisted in the ARMY Reserves in 1999 right out of high school. Went straight to boot camp the day after graduation. He completed his advanced training for the M.P. Corps the following summer. In 2002 his unit the 94th M.P. Company was activated to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. They shipped out to Iraq in April 2003. After 5 months in country Kotch's humvee was hit by a terrorist IED while conducting patrols outside of Ar-Ramadi. Command would not authorize a dust off in Indian Country so their patrol had to drive Kotch back through the kill zone to deliver him to a safe LZ. An ARMY Blackhawk flew him to a field hospital. During the flight Kotch died twice before ARMY medics and surgeons brought him back. He currently resides in Maine and is married with one son. Kotch is METAL.
These photo's are of Marine Master Sergeant Jaime Juarez at his retirement ceremonies at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twenty Nine Palms, California. MSgt. Juarez served 21 years in the Marine Corps and was deployed with the First Marine Division in 2003 during Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. He served another 7 month combat tour in Iraq in 2004. The following year he was promoted to Master Sergeant and served out his career at Twenty Nine Palms. He retired in June, 2007 and currently resides in Corpus Christi, Texas with his wife Maryann. Juarez is METAL.
Major Brian Suits U.S. Army - Major Suits is a native of Port Angeles, Washington. He enlisted in the ARMY in the late 80's and soon after shipped off to Iraq/Saudi Arabia in the liberation of Kuwait in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Promoted to an officer his next tour of duty was in Yugoslavia/Bosnia where he was stationed as a peace keeper with NATO Forces where again he engaged in combat. In 2005 Captain Suits was sent to Iraq in the ongoing war against terrorists where he was wounded and received the Purple Heart for his heroic service to the nation. Back in America Bryan is the go to GIANT for all things military and clear thinking on his syndicated radio program Kennedy and Suits. His show is heard locally in Los Angeles at 640 KFI-AM.
Lt. Col. Roger G. Charles - Lt. Col. Roger G. Charles USMC (Ret.) combat veteran and platoon leader in Vietnam 1968 and 1969. After his extraordinary service in the Marine Corps he served under the late Colonel David Hackworth with Soldiers for the Truth. Upon Colonel Hackworth's passing Lieutenant Colonel Charles assumed the presidency of the organization and its leader. He is a winner of the prestigious Peabody Award for news coverage and a Naval Academy graduate. The Colonel currently resides in Virginia.
Sgt. Amick with his good friend Sgt. Brendan Foran of Danville, California.
Sgt. Lyndon Amick - Lyndon Amick enlisted in the South Carolina National Guard in May 2003 where he was assigned to the Airborne Infantry. Amick was deployed to Afghanistan in May 2007 and served there through May 2008 in the ongoing war on terrorism. Sgt. Amick is a former NASCAR driver where he was the 1996 Champion in the former Goody's Dash Series. Along with that racing title the Sergeant competed in the Sprint Cup Series along with the Camping World Truck Series. He drove full time in the Nationwide Series from 1997 to 2003 until he made the decision to enlist in the Armed Forces. He currently resides in South Carolina and works in the family business. Amick is METAL.
Sgt. Amick relaxing with the fire team in sunny Afghanistan.
Capt. Mike Gifford US ARMY
Mike was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army Reserve (USAR) in June 1997 via Siena College’s ROTC program Loudonville, NY, and received his undergraduate degree from Union College, Schenectady, NY. Mike began his service as a Reservist while pursuing a rather docile civilian career in finance in the Boston, Massachusetts, area, but served in several domestic security missions nationwide following 9/11. In May of 2003, Mike deployed to Iraq’s Anbar Province with New Hampshire’s 94th Military Police Company, USAR, and for the next 15 months of his combat tour, rained hell on the insurgency as part of the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment and 82nd Airborne Division. A freelance writer, he’s appeared as a guest-contributing editor for Soldiers for the Truth www.sftt.org, and has been published in Soldier of Fortune Magazine. Having left the military in 2005, Mike founded a non-profit to raise money for injured troops and their families, On Behalf of a Grateful Nation, Inc. www.onbehalf.org, and plans to donate 100% of the profits from his book, With a Purpose, to fund On Behalf’s grants.Mike currently lives in New York City. Having left the military in 2005, he’s currently a consultant for the Department of Defense. He can be reached at email@example.com. A special thanks to METAL for hosting my rants and raves, and for their everlasting support of every Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine on the planet.
Captain Gilmore USMC - Airmobile
Captain Gilmore with actor Mykelti Williamson at an Afghanistan FOB during a USO Tour.
Captain Gilmore with Iron Man actor and Afghan native Fahim Fazli at the FOB.
Marine Corps Civil Affairs meeting with the village elders in Afghanistan.
A Thank You to U.S. Service Members
Air Force Nurse, Lucy Lehker, comforts an 'unknown' Canadian soldier after he was badly wounded in Afghanistan.
Dear Michael Yon, Today we were sent your story of February 14, 2010. The "unknown" Canadian is our son Danny. He is a 23-year-old soldier from Vancouver, Canada. Your photographs were extraordinary and have impacted so many people here in Canada. There has been an outpouring of affection for the Americans who helped Danny in his moment of need. For that, we thank you for recording these acts of kindness into history.Danny's injuries were the result of an explosion on February 12, 2010. Four Canadian soldiers were injured and tragically one Canadian soldier was killed. Within 20 minutes of the explosion, Danny was airlifted by helicopter to Kandahar. Upon arrival he received emergency surgery that saved his life and prepared him for the flight to Bagram that you were on. After landing in Bagram, Danny was again airlifted by a US transport aircraft to the US Army run Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. There he underwent additional surgery that closed up his wounds. Once stabilized, the Canadian government dispatched a Challenger jet to bring him home. This afternoon in Vancouver, the shrapnel that did all the damage to him was finally removed. Danny is now recovering in hospital.This was Danny's second tour of duty in Afghanistan and his platoon on this tour has had heavy causalities and injuries. Physically, Danny will overcome his injuries. He also has the support of his family, his friends and his community to deal with the emotional side of this war. Our hearts go out to those families who have had the loss of a soldier or who have had to deal with greater injuries.Danny and his whole family are very grateful, and are actually overwhelmed, by the support he received while in US care. The Canadian military have also been wonderful. It is our intention to personally thank everyone who worked so hard to save Danny's life. We have already made contact with Major Deborah "Lucy" Lehker to thank her.
Sincerely, Jim & Holly
The Canadian Air Force graciously took some METAL Wolf Pack members for a ride on a refueling tanker
F-18's running CAP at the Vancouver Olympic Games