31 May, 2010

V is for Victory

The men and women who have proudly served this country have settled for anything less than total victory. We are the the land of the free and and home of the brave because of the military who sacrificed so much for you and for me...

(Eisenhower speaking with 101st Airborne 1Btn C Co. prior to the D-Day invasion)

(Women's Airforce Service Pilots aka "Pistol Packin' Mama's)

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, there were lines wrapped around blocks of men and women ready to enlist to serve and protect their country!

And on that early morning, when the French awoke to the Normandy Invasion, they were for certain that either the German or the Brittish had liberated part of Normandy...it was the American Airborne.

(Airborne in preparation of the D-Day invasion)

(On the C-47 ready to parachute over France)

(101st Airborne, 3rd Btn, 506 PIR, ready to jump into France)

This Memorial Day, be thankful for the men and women who have served our country. All they want is to be remembered...please remember them

Happy Memorial Day

27 May, 2010

Remember Me

This month is military appreciation month, I hope you realize the sacrifices that these brave men and women fought for you. They have died for you and all they want is to be remembered. Please remember them...

For all of those who have served to protect this country...THANK YOU!!!! We love you and God Bless you!

26 May, 2010

The Marine’s Father

A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside. "Your son is here," she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words several times before the patient's eyes opened.

Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his
toughened fingers around the old man's limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement.

The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit besidethe bed. All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man's hand and offering him words of love and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile.

He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital - the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients.

Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night.

Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited.  Finally, she returned. She started  to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her.

"Who was that man?" he asked.

The nurse was startled, "He was your father," she answered.

"No, he wasn't," the Marine replied.  "I never saw him before in my life."

"Then why didn't you say something when I took you to him?"

"I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn't here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed."

The next time someone needs you just be there.   Stay.

We are not human beings going through a temporary spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings going through a temporary human experience.

24 May, 2010

There Was Blood Upon The Risers

I have been listening to this song most of the afternoon yesterday and I HAD to post it today. I love this song, it has been around since WWII and is still the song for the Airborne today....

(If you don't like cursing, don't watch it...)

God Bless these gutsy men!!!!!!

21 May, 2010

My Grampa's Dagger

My grampa 1st Sergeant Harold F. Asay of the 13th and 17th Airborne Div's. It was from the SA (Storm Troopers/Brown Shirts) in Germany and was from an officer. It was probably from the late-30's around the time of Kristallnacht to the start of WWII, I'm guessing.

This is the Dagger in it's scabbard. It is in very good condition and was apart of a set along with a German Luger. However my grampa sold the Luger. 

On the blade of the Dagger it reads "Alles fur Deutschland" which translates to "All for Germany".

When my dad brought this up to Michigan when I got the chance to meet Mark Bando, he called it unusual in a good way, sort of rare. My dad always said my grampa picked this up off of a dead German, I don't want to know if the German was alive when he met my grampa, that I don't need to know. This is his loot from WWII and it means a lot to me.

In Memory of a Hero

Our beloved Colonel Del Townsend, President of the 17th Airborne Association, passed away today at 4:58 PM Eastern Time, 26 January 2010. He was in his 89th year. Peter Schleck and Rose Friday were present at his departure, Colonel Kormann and Isaac Epps were en route to the hospital. Del was recuperating in peace at the hospital, and he shall now remain at peace for all his Eternity. Dear God, We, the 17th Airborne society, grieves for our great loss.

I got this in an e-mail from my sister about Col. Delbert "Del" Townsend, a highly respected member of the 17th Airborne community and hero from WWII (as both a Glider rider and a Paratrooper) to Vietnam, serving proudly and bravely in the US Army, eventually holding the rank of Colonel.

I have actually written to the Colonel through e-mail about my own grampa who served in the 17th Airborne, Col. Towsend was more than happy to help me in my research of the Airborne and of my Grampa's service in WWII. And on Tuesday we lost another WWII vet and an American hero! I will never forget Col. Townsend and his generosity towards me and my family, God Bless his family!

19 May, 2010

Blog Giveaway!!!

Hey if you want a chance to get a blog layout designed for you, then check this site out....

I know I won't win I never win these silly things, but

17 May, 2010

My Trip to Michigan - Part Three


We got back from the Lunch Bunch and I just couldn’t believe all that had happened. I guess I was in a bit of a daze just trying to wrap my mind around it all. And with all I experienced in such a little amount of time, it was a lot!!!!

Dad and I watched some footage of the 101st preparing for D-Day. With that alone, I couldn’t believe the bloopers, I myself who is not a historian, that the mini-series Band of Brothers had! I still watch the series every time it’s on, because the acting is great!!! It’s not the same, not after knowing what went on behind the scenes. I looked at some more albums, with the 1st Battalion, I believe. Then Mr. Bando asked if I was interested in meeting Mr. Don Burgett……I was unable to meet Mr. Burgett, a Michigan native, at the Lunch Bunch because he was attending the funeral of a non-101st guy. Of course I was wanting to, so I changed out of my dress and we headed off to Brighton (I hope that is the correct spelling for the city) and met Mr. Burgett and his wife Tyla at a Irish Pub. Which was another neat experience for me.
I know I didn’t say much to Mr. Burgett, but I was rather anxious yet again. Most are anxious when meeting an actor, rock star, etc…these men are my heroes!!!! My dad was able to talk more with Mr. Burgett more than I was, I was so afraid I was going to say something wrong, which I often do. I hold these men in the highest regard and would not want to give off the wrong impression. I was however able to get more autographs from Mr. Bando and an autograph from Mr. Burgett. If I had known I was to meet Mr. Burgett, then I would have brought up his books. All in all I think it all went well…

My dad was able to take this picture of me and Mr. Burgett outside of the pub…

We went back to the house and after a wonderful desert of homemade shortcake by Mrs. Bando, I was able to take pics of most of Mr. Bando’s collection. I had seen most of it the night before, but I got an extra lesson on them again the same night and I learned so much. Who better to get lessons from then a WWII historian??? I was very lucky!!!! I think I stayed up to past midnight just taking pics and talking about the Airborne. (Yes, I will upload a album here for you to see and if your friends with me on Facebook, I will also upload more pics of my trip)
Wow was I tired that night, still I took in the little room I was staying in. Like I said my dad was sleeping in the room with the 506 PIR uniforms, I had the 501 PIR uniforms. I just was so thankful for God allowing all of this to fall into place. This is my dream and I believe it to be my calling to write this book. Then for a possibility of me getting a grant so I can attend Mr. Bando’s Normandy Tour…God is in the details.
When I woke up the next morning I knew we’d have to leave early, especially after Mr. Bando found out he’d be attending a funeral for a 101st guy. But I was able to get my picture taken with him…

We left soon after that and stopped in Fort Wayne, IN where our cousins live and stayed the night there just having more fun. We got home on Friday and the last day of VBS. I know it was wrong of my to play hookey on VBS, but there was NOOOOOOO way I was gonna turn this opportunity down. It was a chance in a lifetime. I had the time of my life and I know this will only help me in my future with my book.


Murazrai is the author of Chaos Fighters a series of web sci-fi/fantasy series of spiritual warfare that he shares via blog. He runs his own blog Murazrai and is working on finishing his web series.

Murazrai, just by reading the description of your series, I know you have a wonderful imagination. How is it that you came up with Chaos Fighters? Did something and/or someone inspire you?
Don't laugh upon reading this, but that is completely random during the first day I write the whole series. Long story short, a friend of mine named Seymour introduced me to Xanga and after I accepted his invitation I found out that it is a blogging site. I don't know what should I write and I don't want to make it my personal diary (which I did in a new blog) I decided to write a novel instead. It is completely a random idea to come up with that name and its storyline, which sticks up to now. Only recently I decided that the meaning of Chaos Fighters would be fighters who go against chaotic situation around them.

Speaking of inspiration, it appeared as ideas popping out of nowhere and its originality is very high, but as time passes, I found out that my writing is strongly influenced by various anime and video games. I don't know the exact details since that I still somewhat maintained the originality, but Chaos Fighters: Cyber Assault-The Secret Programs has influence from Rockman.exe anime (Megaman NT Warrior in the US) while Chaos Fighters II-Cyberion Strike has influence from Mega Man Star Force (the anime and the game, but I don't play the games though, just watching the gameplay videos). 

Many writers such as CS Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia) have written Christian sci-fi, yet many Christian authors shy away from Christian sci-fi, why did you choose that genre?
Okay, I'm a free thinker (despite being Buddhist in my ID), so I could not answer this question. And, I'm more of a fantasy writer rather than sci-fi writer, despite I do write sci-fi titles because the sci-fi titles always contain significant fantasy elements.

Is there a certain person(s) who you can go to as a good sound board and/or who are a good support in your writing?
I pretty much alone when it comes to real life because no one write web fiction around my age in my country apparently (it certainly does not help that English web fiction is something very unpopular in Malaysia), despite there are online friends who comment on my writing. Some of them even pointed out glaring mistakes on my writing. I don't want to mention names because I think it breaches their privacy.

Would you ever think of publishing your work in the Christian market? Or is Chaos Fighters just for your blog?
I can't publish anything yet since that it means making money, which is prohibited under my scholarships' contract. In fact, I am not good on publishing matters so I would have to learn how self-publishing works, which involves a lot of things. I consider it as hobby with a great potential. In fact, this enables flexibility on my works. After all, writing isn't the only thing of my interest and I have to cater them. In addition, I prefer my works to be made into anime or video games instead of a book, which I only give the rights.

Do you have any other plots and ideas you would eventually try and write? If so, can you tell me a little about it?
Currently my recent plans are:
1) Starting Chaos Fighters-Route of Peaks around May/June. It will be in a different way compared to the novels preceding it, revealing backstory of the main series and there will be no demon threats like in previous novels. But the rest is spoiler, so I won't reveal much.
2) Spread the name of Chaos Fighters by having Chaos Fighters-Route of Land available in The Next Big Writer and Fan Story by June.
3) Join Web Serial Writing Month 2010 on August and start a new story arc/series. The tentative title is Chaos Fighters: Chemical Warriors-KIMIA. It is about the mysterious stealing of potassium iodide and a prosecutor is investigating it. It is also a side story of Chaos Fighters series which happens around the same time, but in different places. This series will be placed in a new Xanga site (and possibly on other sites as well, but depends).
4) Start Chaos Fighters-Route of Sky around October or sooner. It will be similar to the novels preceding it, but it will take place in the realm of sky with some new weapon designs and secondary enemy, which I might turn them into enemies of the demons instead of working with them.
5) Join NaNoWriMo 2010 for the second year. It will be a sequel of the 2009 NaNoWriMo novel entitled Chaos Fighters II-Chemical Sins (tentative). It will be the first novel with strong romance subplot and set at a third planet of my fictional universe. It is about an adult in his second year of pre-university grade encountering mysterious hollows made from extremely cold chemicals that normal weapons and spells could not defeat them. Then, a new teacher teach his class and things get worse from there.
6) Taking a hiatus during May 2011 to August or September 2011 due to industrial training.
A a note, items 1, 2 and 4 (whichever in progress) will be in a hiatus once I'm working on items 3 or 5. In fact, they depends on how my final year project/thesis affects my time. I might have to take a hiatus if things get out of hand. 
For the ones in the future:
1) Complete Chaos Fighters series (main series or first arc) in 5 years before moving on Chaos Fighters: Rune Force, a sequel that takes place 40 years after the Chaos Fighters series ended. The characters will use power of runes to aid in the fights.
2) Start Chaos Fighters: Insignia of Doom series as NaNoWriMo specials once Chaos Fighters II (which I intended to be a trilogy) ends. It is about a police officer wielding the titular weapon solving crisis that happens around him. It will be also a side story of the main series.
3) Continue with Chaos Fighters: Cyber Assault-The Secret Programs and focus on it once the main series ends by making it a daily update rather than a weekly update.

Outside of writing your on-line series, are you attending a university? If so, what are you studying?
I am currently studying at National University of Malaysia for my degree in Chemistry. Being a science student does not mean one cannot engage in artistic activities. Quite a number of scientists in the past indulge in arts (in general) as well.

Have you ever had the chance to connect with someone through writing?
Yes. When I joined last year's NaNoWriMo I made a few friends who shared interest on writing during meet ups. Through various websites I also do the same thing, albeit online.

Do you write anything else besides your fantasy series, such as poetry, essays, etc…
I do write some poetry, but they are extra materials for my fantasy series. I pretty much don't write anything else, but I have plans to write some essays on my personal journal.

How did you discover your talent for writing? And how has it changed your life?
I don't call my writing as a talent, but rather an unpolished interest that appeared suddenly in my life. As for discovery, I started writing when I joined Xanga like what I told you before, which I never aware of my skills. Now I even considered my first novel, Chaos Fighters-Route of Land an old shame and try to fix it when I port the novel to Booksie under the same name and pseudonym (which means the Booksie version is the canonical version, as stated in my personal journal and further ports will be based on this version). I think my English has improved somewhat and I have less addiction to video games after I start writing. In fact, I get to know better about internet and foreign culture through my discovery.

How has your faith effected and/or helped you with your writing?
I don't have faith in particular so I don't think I could answer this question.

Sean MacKenzie: Is the author of five blogs (xanga (1 professional, 1 personal use), blogspot, shoutlife, ECFL) and is also a member of Facebook. She herself is writing a piece of fiction herself set in heart of Nazi Germany as well as many other pieces she hopes to publish one in particular is about the US Airborne. Don't forget to subscribe/follow her if you wish for further updates.

14 May, 2010

My Trip to Michigan - Part Two

Before I left for Michigan Monday morning I was anxious, really I was anxious about the "Lunch Bunch" meeting. I always end up saying the first thing that pops into my head and then I think later. Never good to speak before you think, believe me I know from a ton of personal experience.
So I got up early and got myself ready, put on a dress (one of my favorites) and made sure I brought both mine and my sister’s camera and autograph book. My sister was also excited about getting some autographs from these heroes! I wasn’t sure what to expect, I’ve never gone to a reunion for veterans before. When we arrived, the first veteran I would meet is George Koskimaki. My dad told him a little about how my grampa served in the 13th and 17th Airborne GIR (Glider Infantry Regiment) and eventually we walked over to the left of the room where there were pictures of the Airborne. The second veteran I met was Fred Bahlau a 3/506 PIR (Parachute Infantry Regiment) man. Mr. Bando introduced me to him and boy was he a character.
So Mr. Bahlau took me over and was showing me a picture of a fellow trooper he served with. He told me that his buddy survived the war, only to die afterwards accidentally. Then he led me back to the table where I was to sit. Mr. Bahlau showed me a book that was made for him, a little like a scrapbook, with pictures of him and letters. There were also a lot of pictures of him while he was on the Band of Brothers Tour. (Something I would love to do, it takes you from England to the Eagle’s Nest, how amazing would that be!)

(Leonard Schmidt in the purple shirt)

Then I was introduced to Leonard Schmidt, a Purple Heart recipient, another 3/506 PIR man and of course I was asked by both, why was I here. I repeated my story many times I’m sure my dad could tell it for me, I was writing a novel on the 3/506 PIR 101st Airborne WWII. Not a usual topic a nineteen-year-old young woman would write about. Most young women my age only want to write and read Historical romances that are predictable and unbelievably cheesy. I’m too edgy for that.
After I sat down as was looking through Mr. Bahlau’s book, for the life of me I cannot remember his name, but he was a guard for Nazi War Criminals such as Herman Goering. He asked me why I was here and what I did. So again I explained my story and he told me some of what he did during the war. He was another character.
I also got the chance to meet a 501 PIR man Ed Hallo. He was a very nice gentleman, he sat down and talked with me a short while. Mr. Hallo told me a story, which I won’t repeat, it really upset him still 60 some years later. He came back later after the meeting to tell me it was nice to meet me. I was even able to get my picture taken with him, but the camera was acting up and it didn’t take.

 (My Autograph from Ed Hallo)

Finally the ceremony began and Mr. Koskimaki was introducing people and then Mr. Bando went up to the podium and introduced me and my dad and of course said that I was writing a novel on the Third Battalion of the 506 PIR. After that he told a story of how he almost got run over by a train in France. Evidently the trains in France you can’t even hear them coming. Exact opposite of where I live, you hear them at all hours of the day. So feel lucky that you can hear American trains coming and going.
After the ceremony was finished there was a short time for some more meet and greet. Like I said before Mr. Hallo left, he came back and I was able to get his autograph for me and my sister. Unfortunately the picture did not come out. I was able to see Mr. Bahlau once more and he was such a sweetheart. I was able to get an autograph from him for my sister and I even a picture taken with him. After that I know I shouldn’t have because it probably was inappropriate, I kissed him on the cheek. Hey it was a once in a lifetime moment and how many girls my age can say she kissed a WWII veteran of the 101st Airborne paratroops? Mr. Bahlau also gave me his card and told me anytime I needed help, just to contact him. I believe I will take him up on his offer.
 (Me and Fred Bahlau)

 (My Autograph from Fred Bahlau)

Finally as the meeting was wearing down, Mr. Bando introduced me to George Koskimaki. He autographed both mine and my sister’s books and I got my picture taken with him. I had left the room for a moment and when I came back Dad and Mr. Koskimaki were having a nice talk. Dad was explaining more about my grampa and what we he did.
I sat down and eventually Mr. Koskimaki said that there were some books he wanted me to read. So he came back with his three own books, two of them autographed. I had been searching for them through my library and I knew that there were good. I just couldn’t get them and couldn’t afford them on-line. I told him I greatly appreciated it and that it meant the world to me him doing this. I asked him if he could sign his last book, he went to get a pen from his suitcase and when he returned he tossed this piece of camouflaged material at me. He told me "That’s the last piece of my parachute from D-Day." I was completely dumbfounded. It wasn’t some small piece, like one or two inches long; it was a very nice size piece. I now consider it my little treasure and keep it with my other little collection that Mr. Bando gave me while up there.

(My autograph from George Koskimaki)

 (George Koskimaki's last piece of his D-Day chute)

I have more to tell, but this entry alone is fairly long, so I’ll leave the rest of the day for Part Three of my trip to Michigan.

13 May, 2010


The next interview is....

With Murazrai!!!!! It's a great interview. I know you will enjoy reading his answers as much as I have!

Rosie the Reviewer {A Distant Melody}

3 ½ ***
Synopsis: Allie Miller was never pretty enough to please her wealthy parents and Walt Novak can’t seem to get his minister father’s approval since choosing engineering as his trade instead of the pulpit. Their two lives collide with an instant connection, but torn by the war and their own free will.

The Author: Sarah Sundin is an on-call hospital pharmacist and holds a BS in chemistry from UCLA and a doctorate in pharmacy from US San Francisco. Her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England during WWII. Sarah lives with her husband and three children in California. This is her debut novel.

Profanity: None

Sexuality: A brief rumor of someone being a homosexual; a few mentions of naked females and such.

Violence: Through out the book, you are seeing war through the eyes of Walt Novak, combat missions flying over France and Germany and only a brief flight scene.

My Thoughts: One thing I particularly liked was how the main hero and heroine were not picture perfect ‘a combination of family traits’. The romance also with their friends such as George and Betty was rather sweet as well. The information in this novel was impeccable! It is easy to tell the author spent years of research on her uncle and the Air Corps to be able to write this novel. The spiritual aspect was strong and constant throughout the novel. And after reading some about Jack, Walt’s brother, who I think might be my favorite of them all; in A Distant Melody I hope she will write a book for him as well.

12 May, 2010

My Trip to Michigan - Part One

It was in late February or early March that Mr. Bando asked if I would come and visit him and see his personal collection. Because at that time I was interviewing him for my blogs. (If and when I ever get a website, that will be on there.) Actually I figured I would never get the chance to interview Mr. Bando and if I did, that would be it. I NEVER expected this to come from it. God was really doing something amazing in my life!!!!!
Most of you know I live in Indiana and as in the title of the post, I finally got to meet Mr. Bando, when I recently on my trip to Michigan. My dad and I left for Michigan on the16th Tuesday morning and after some car and cell phone trouble, we finally arrived in Detroit around 6:30. I meant to take more pics of my way up there, but just gave that up. Once we got settled and were chatting before dinner, Mr. Bando asked me why the 3/506 101st Airborne??? Well, that in itself is a long story and I’ll give ya the cliff’s notes to it… I grew up hearing about my grampa serving in WWII and then later on that he was in the Gliderriders of the 13th and 17th Abn. After watching Band of Brothers, my dad, sis, and I began to research my grampa’s service in WWII. I decided that I wanted to write something about what he did in the war. Sadly I had no idea, and still don’t, as to what he did. So I began researching the 101st Airborne. I had to be myself and chose the 3/506. There you have it…
While at dinner we talked some about 3/506 and he was trying to persuade me to write about the 1/506, I believe. Before I make any hasty decisions, I will be doing a HUGE amount of prayer, I jumped into it (yeah I know, funny choice of words with the paratroops and all) the first time, although I do NOT regret it, I will NOT do that again. Who knows, I may just write about both 1 and 3/506. I really like researching the 506 PIR, not that they other regiments are less interesting, they truly are!!!! Each unit is amazing!
I feel called to write this book and yes, I would love to get it published, but I do not know enough yet. I have years upon years of research to write this and get it right. I want to do the vets justice, if I fail in that way, I fail in every way.
Anyway, I got completely off subject, while on our first day, there Mr. Bando showed us his collection which is like a little museum within his house. I could spend hours just starring at everything, because unlike many of the people of my generation, they don’t excited about history as I do. Which is another reason I would love to go on his Normandy tour as well as his Holland/Bastogne tour. I don’t have the means to do this, so I am trying to find a way to scrape up the money for it.
Dad got the guest room and I got the upstairs room, I loved that little room, it’s kind of my dream room. Away from everything, plenty of room for a writing desk and computer. Up there is also a bunch of uniforms on mannequins as well as different posters in frames. I did miss out on his slide show, which he wanted to show us, I hope I can see it someday.
He showed me some of his own collection in his (I guess you’d have to call it kind of like a…) basement rooms, although I was beginning to wear down by then and I’m surprised I can still remember what he taught me.
Ok, that is Day 1 of my trip to Michigan…too keep updated don’t forget to subscribe to me!!!

11 May, 2010

Interview with Mark Bando - Part Three

Mark Bando is a well known author who has written numerous books on World War II and the 101st Airborne. He has been a 101st Airborne buff for many years and began collecting memorabilia and information about the legendary division in World War II. His website Trigger Time is also dedicated to 101st Airborne.

Have you ever been in the military, or thought about enlisting? If so, would you have volunteered for the Airborne?

If I had gone into the Army, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way than to be in an Airborne unit.
However, I have always been a weak runner and distance running is an essential component of jump school training. In the police academy, the farthest were ever 'ran' was three miles. These were slow miles, (about 10 minutes or more per mile), and that truly maxed me out. I was 24 years old at the time.
So no way could I have gone 2 additional miles, at a faster pace.
So you could say that FEAR kept me out of the Army. It was not fear of getting killed (my police co-workers can affirm that), nor was it fear of parachute jumping (I've made 15 jumps from a C-47 as a member of the WWII ADT and one from a Cessna), but a very real terror of FAILURE. I just did not want to go in and flunk-out of Airborne school. Those who do, are generally banished to DMZ guard duty in Korea for a year after flunking-out. I considered it the lesser of two evils to be a non-veteran than a jump school reject. However, sometimes today, when I am frequently slurred for being a non-veteran, I wonder if I made the right choice.
When you think about it, most former service people had much less-demanding aspirations. If I had gone in to the Air Force or Navy, or served as a cook or a truck driver in the Army, I could now claim 'veteran' status, but veterans of the Airborne are in fact a truly different category of soldier.
I should also mention that today's 101st Airborne Division is not on jump status. The company I embedded with in Afghanistan last year had about 12 members with jump wings, about 40 with Air Assault School wings and 70 with neither. However, the entire 2/506th Bn goes on 4 mile 'battalion runs'. I don't know what the penalty for dropping out of one of their runs might be, but I doubt if it results in banishment from the unit, as dropping out of a run in Airborne School.
One last thing, my research and writing about the Airborne has always been predicated on a sort of admiration, born of the fact that I look-up to people who have greater capabilities than my own. If I did not admire the paratroopers, I doubt I would bother to research, study and write about them. They are truly my idea of heroes.

Is there any WWII/101st Airborne novel that is both well written and researched that you would be as close to the actual events in WWII? Except for Gary Varner’s “The Great Hour Struck”.

Now that Band of Brothers has spawned such an interest in the subject, I expect there will be at least a few authors who attempt to do historical fiction on this aspect of WWII. However, I don't recall seeing or reading any other historical novels on the 101st during WWII until Varner's book appeared. This is probably because of the very large challenges involved in writing such a story. Writing about such a complicated subject, doing years of research and finally trying to describe combat in detail would be so difficult as to require clairvoyance if the writer has not experienced it. Ditto for describing parachute jumping from a C-47.
In the books I have produced, I have not had to describe such things beyond repeating what my interview subjects have told me. Although I have been under small arms fire as a police officer, I do not think that translates into knowing what a firefight was like in WWII. My experiences with being under fire DID tell me something about MY reactions to the possibility of imminent death and my 15 jumps from a C-47 helped me to write a little more knowledgeably about parachuting in my 7th book. I still doubt if I'd ever take on the challenge of writing fiction about WWII paratroopers. As I see it, it is a daunting challenge. Besides, my talent lies in recording and re-telling true stories.

Besides the 101st Airborne, what other military divisions do you like to research? You have previously mentioned the 442nd Infantry Regiment. Do you have an interest for any other Airborne Divisions such as the 17th Airborne Division or 13th Airborne Division? Or possibly dedicating a book to only the forgotten Gliders?
I already mentioned a number of WWII units both regular Infantry and Airborne, which interested me enough for me to go out and interview a bunch of them. However, in the annals of WWII Airborne history, some small units, like the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion and the 509th PIB were ignored and forgotten for decades. However, in the past 2 decades, 'Stand in the Door' was published about the 509th and 'Messengers of the Lost Battalion' and 'The Left Corner of My Heart' finally preserved the legacy of the 551st.
The most-ignored combat sub-unit of the WWII 101st Airborne has been the 321st Glider Field Artillery Bn, but at my suggestion, a friend of mine began intensively interviewing survivors of that battalion in 1996 and he managed to save a lot of their stories and history. He is working on a book about them now.
The 517th ARCT, which was also a independent unit has also been written about recently in 'Battling Buzzards', by Gerald Astor. All of these units were great and all deserve equal credit, but the 101st became world famous at Bastogne and got more attention ever since. As to personal histories and memoirs, the 506th PIR probably has more books in print than any other WWII parachute infantry unit.
The 501 has a regimental history published in 1947 by Lawrence Critchell called 'Four Stars of Hell', but strangely a regimental history of the 502nd has never been done.
Probably the most-unique and little-known WWII US Airborne outfit was the 550th Air Landing Battalion. I actually interviewed a Detroit area survivor of that unit in the early 1990's. They trained in Panama before shipping to fight in Southern France and later the Bulge. The method of combat insertion for this unit was for the C-47 carrying them to land, and they jumped out the door while the plane was taxiing on the ground (naturally without using parachutes). They practised this a lot, and after they all got out, the plane would take off and leave them, as quickly as possible.
There is a French researcher named Dominique Francois, who favors the 507th PIR and has done a lot of research and some writing about them. Martin Morgan the former director of the National D-Day Museum, has also written about the 507th. As key components of the 17th Airborne Division, both the 507 and 513th fought in the Bulge and jumped across the Rhine. More could have been written about both of those regiments.
The 508th has a oral history done by one of their own, called 'The Devils Have Landed'. Phil Nordyke, the well-known 82nd historian has documented the 505 in 'Four Stars of Valor' and 1st Bn 504 was written about by Ross Carter in 'Those Devils in Baggy Pants', while 3rd battalion 504 has been the subject of two books by former officers of that battalion (Jim Megellas and T. Moffat Burris), in recent years. As the decades passed, these units were immortalized in print, little by little, but at this late date it is difficult to find enough talking survivors to get much meaningful new primary source material from. As to the 13th Airborne Division veterans, they don't have any war stories to tell, because they arrived in the ETO when 95% of the shooting was over. All they did was round-up hordes of surrendering Nazis.
Really glad that I started talking to 101st vets when I did-most of them were considerably younger than I am now, when I started and many of them didn't even have gray hair yet!
Differing memories aside, their recall 40 years ago was still pretty comprehensive. Today,
about 80% of the men I've interviewed have passed-on. Saving and preserving some of their stories was my primary accomplishment.
So I have dedicated all my adult life to documenting the heroic actions of mostly one division-has it been a worthwhile pursuit? I personally have no regrets, but the legacy of my books and whether they continue to be read many years in the future will be the final indicator.

Can we expect any more books from you in the future, if so, would they be about the 101st Airborne?

I plan to do three more WWII related books. The one I'm currently working on, is a past & present book about the famous Band of Brothers company E/506th PIR. I embedded with the new Easy Co. in Afghanistan for a month in 2008 and hope to have that book completed around the end of 2009. After that I will do a book about F Company 501 PIR and part two of Avenging Eagles, the collection of forbidden tales. It is possible that I will someday utilize the many photos I have amassed relating to the 501st PIR and the 2nd Armored Division. So I might do a pictorial history of each of those units after completing my 'real' books. I plan to do a trilogy of books about the Detroit Police Dept. in the 1970s-1990s, two of which will be my first attempt at fiction and one of which will just be a factual re-telling of the highlights of my own 25 year career on the DPD.

Sean MacKenzie: Is the author of five blogs (xanga (1 professional, 1 personal use), blogspot, shoutlife, ECFL) and is also a member of Facebook. She herself is writing a piece of fiction herself set in heart of Nazi Germany as well as many other pieces she hopes to publish one in particular is about the US Airborne. Don't forget to subscribe/follow her if you wish for further updates.

10 May, 2010

Interview with Mark Bando - Part Two

Mark Bando is a well known author who has written numerous books on World War II and the 101st Airborne. He has been a 101st Airborne buff for many years and began collecting memorabilia and information about the legendary division in World War II. His website Trigger Time is also dedicated to 101st Airborne.

Since you have a interest in WWII and the 101st Airborne, have you ever thought to venture into writing about the Holocaust since many of the Divisions from WWII had liberated Nazi Concentration Camps? Besides your book “Breakout” which was about the 2nd Armored Div.

I have never considered writing about the Holocaust, because if I did, I would've wanted to write from the perspective of survivors' experiences and I didn't have a clue as to where to meet a lot of survivors. Besides, I think other researchers have done that subject and done it better than I ever could have. I read 'The Murderers Among Us', by Simon Wiesenthal, back in the 1970s and thought it would be impossible for anyone to write a 'better' Holocaust book than that.
I also found from talking with veterans from many different ETO units, that only certain divisions or parts of divisions actually liberated labor and concentration camps, so it wasn't a universal experience for every GI who fought against the Nazis. Also, even within a single regiment like the 506th, only the 1st Battalion actually went inside the Landsberg camp and interacted with the liberated prisoners. The claims that Easy Co. 2nd Bn did that are false. For the film BoB, they brought 2nd Bn closer to the experience than they actually were. That's Hollywood in action. You can ask Don Malarkey or any other BoB vet and if he is honest with you, he'll tell you he didn't go into the camp at Landsberg and barely even saw it.
Don Burgett of 'A' Co. 1st Bn, DID go into the camp with his buddies and if you want to know what they saw there, read 'Beyond The Rhine', by Donald R. Burgett...a very disturbing and detailed account. Lt Al
Hassenzahl, another friend of mine who was in Co. 'C', 1st Bn 506th was also in Landsberg and he told me some stories about events inside the wire there. A lot of 101st vets drove to Munich and took part in Guided Tours of Dachau, weeks after VE Day and although they got an eyeful, it would be false to claim that they all took part in liberating that place. So WWII GI vets who have real firsthand knowledge and legitimate claim to 'liberating' any camps are not all that plentiful-especially now, after 75% of the ETO vets have passed on.

It is obvious that you enjoy writing about the legendary 101st Airborne. Have you ever thought about writing about another Division, World War II, or even another war in general? Except for your third book which was written on the 2nd Armored Division.

Over the past 4 decades, a number of WWII US units have interested me, mainly because of which actions they fought-in. The greatest, most-heroic and amazing actions in NW Europe were fought by the 504 PIR of the 82nd Airborne Div. The 3/504's crossing of the Waal river at Nijmegen in broad daylight is the most inspiring of all. The 1/504 at Cheneux in the Bulge, where they leaped aboard flak wagons of the 1st SS Panzer division and cut the throats of the crews is another epic. So I did about 35- 82nd interviews, but had trouble finding enough survivors in the Midwest US to get as much info and details as I would've liked to. Another Michigan researcher named Steve Mrozek did much work to document the 504th PIR, which is his specialty. I also found that (this might just be my perception) the 82nd veterans didn't open up and talk to me as freely as the 101st guys have.
There was a local Detroit area Chapter of the 9th Infantry Division Assn and I frequented their parties and picnics in the early 1970s, resulting in at least 30 interviews. I also attended a reunion of the 30th Old Hickory Inf Div, which is one of my favorites, because by chance they frequently faced Waffen SS troops, in France, Belgium and Germany and they always defeated them, The German radio called them "Roosevelt's SS Troops", a title which they considered a compliment for battlefield prowess, not withstanding the countless war crimes connected with even the battlefield branch of the SS.
Other ETO units whose reunions I've attended are the Third Cavalry Group, (aka Patton's Ghost Troops), which was the tip of the spear for General Patton's Third Army, doing recon for them in M-8 scout cars and jeeps. I interviewed about 35 of them in the early 70s and about the same number of Americans and Canadians from the 1st Special Service Force, the forerunners to the Green Berets. This half-American and half-Canadian unit trained at Helena, MT and they had it all-parachute, ski, mountain and commando training. They fought in Italy and Southern France and the early jump-qualified members were transferred in to the 82nd and 101st in January, 1945, when the Force, also known as 'The Devils' Brigade' was disbanded. The Force was originally raised for a planned invasion of Norway, which never happened.
However, the non-jumping members of the Force who remained after the jumpers went to the 82nd & 101st DID go to Norway after VE Day, as the 474th Infantry Regiment. They disarmed the German troops occupying Norway and put them on ships back to Germany. Subsequently numerous books by various authors have been done on the 1st SSF. I never had enough research on them to make a book, but I did build a small collection of their unpublished photos and a few Force artifacts for my collection.
I think I've mentioned earlier that I wanted to write about the Japanese-American troops of the 442nd RCT, but geography and demographics made that too difficult to pursue. In 1995, I met a former captain of the 2nd Armored Division and bought from him the effects of a Waffen SS Panzer Lt Col. who had mysteriously vanished during the St Lo Breakout. This launched me on a 4 year research project about the 2nd AD in the St Lo Breakout and resulted in over 300 interviews with former 2nd AD men. I published a book about it in 1999, (the only non-101st ABD book I've done to date). The title is "Breakout at Normandy-The 2nd Armored Division in the Land of the Dead'. The entire book deals mainly with one week of WWII-the last week of July, 1944. The biggest in a series of battles I described, took place near Grimesnil, France, an area known to the locals since the 1400s, as la Lande des Morts, the land of the dead. Originally, dead bodies were buried there after being killed by rampaging raiding parties from the UK, which massacred French locals SW of St Lo. In a fascinating and amazing coincidence, the huge night battle in the same area on 30 July, 1944, turned it into a 20th century land of the dead. Some readers feel that Breakout is the best book I've ever written. It is certainly the most significant collection of previously-unknown and important information I have ever contributed to the literature of WWII. Trying to figure out why and how SS LTC Christian Tychsen disappeared in the 2nd AD sector on 28 July, 1944, was like trying to conduct a homicide investigation a half century after the death took place. As a result of my research, more significant info about this surfaced, even after the book was published.
Back to the original question which launched this dissertation, I have interviewed WWII vets whenever I found them, regardless of what branch of unit they served in, so adding all the miscellaneous interviews I've done in the last 40 years, with other ground troops, sailors, airmen and Marines, I reckon my total number of WWII interviews approaches 1500, which by coincidence was the total which the late Stephen Ambrose claimed to have interviewed in his lifetime of researching WWII.

Sean MacKenzie: Is the author of five blogs (xanga (1 professional, 1 personal use), blogspot, shoutlife, ECFL) and is also a member of Facebook. She herself is writing a piece of fiction herself set in heart of Nazi Germany as well as many other pieces she hopes to publish one in particular is about the US Airborne. Don't forget to subscribe/follow her if you wish for further updates.

08 May, 2010

V-E Day

V-E Day did not end the war in Europe. This is a common misconception. Although many in the United States and England were celebrating, the people of Europe still lived in a war zone. The military continued to fight in all the theaters, especially Germany, and there was talk that now the war was declared over in Europe the many troops still there would have to train to fight a whole new enemy.

The lives of the German citizens, both Jewish and Gentile had lived under such oppression during the Third Reich. That’s why we fought! To save the lives of people who they would never meet!

Yes, sixty-five years later we celebrate the end of the war in Europe, but more importantly we must never forget the lives lost for your freedom and for the freedoms of others.

Two people have died for you, Jesus Christ and the American GI. One dies for your soul, one died for your freedom. – Unknown

Happy V-E Day

07 May, 2010

Interview with Mark Bando - Part One

Mark Bando is a well known author who has written numerous books on World War II and the 101st Airborne. He has been a 101st Airborne buff for many years and began collecting memorabilia and information about the legendary division in World War II. His website Trigger Time is also dedicated to 101st Airborne.

Okay, how did you become a 101st Airborne buff? What got you hooked on collecting the souvenirs and then researching the history of the division?

I've been interested in WWII since pre-school days, when I watched TV documentaries and John Wayne movies. During college (History major WSU), I had to write a 12 credit hour thesis on a WWII battle or unit. I chose the 101st Airborne because I was always a Battle of the Bulge fan and the 101st was the most-famous unit in that battle. I wanted to learn more about the individuals who served in that legendary unit, by meeting a bunch of them personally. I figured there was something special and unusual about the men in that division, which enabled them to prevail when surrounded at Bastogne-meeting a bunch of them face to face was the only way to answer my curiosity about them.
The funny thing in retrospect now, is that in 1969, I thought it was already 'too late' to get any useful info from these vets, because WWII already seemed (to a teenager's perspective), to be ancient history.
Being a 3rd Generation Japanese-American I was also highly interested in the Nisei 442nd Infantry Regiment, however, most vets of that unit resided in Hawaii or on the west coast, making it nearly impossible to interview them in the quantity I wanted. If I had lived closer to where most of them were, I might have ended-up as a 442nd RCT historian instead.
There were MANY 101st vets in the greater Detroit area where I grew-up.
I met and interviewed my first one in 1968 or '69-he was the dad of a kid I attended high school and college with. I wrote my first published magazine article about him and another Bulge vet (from the 106th Infantry Division) in the Detroit News Sunday Magazine, in December, 1969. As a result of that article being published, I met George Koskimaki, a 101st Signal Company vet, who was a Detroit area schoolteacher and WWII researcher. Provided with a huge roster of local vets' current addresses from George, I was able to interview 93 Detroit area WWII 101st vets by 1971. I attended my first 101st National Reunion in August '71 and have been interviewing 101st vets ever since. This year marks at least 40 years of interviewing WWII 101st guys-my current total of 101st interviews stands at 1,004.
I also have over 300 interviews with WWII 2nd Armored Division vets (my 3rd book was about the 2nd AD), and I have also interviewed batches of vets from the 1st Special Service Force, 3rd Cavalry Group, 9th and 30th Inf Divisions and other miscellaneous units. My total WWII interviews number close to 1500.

Did you always enjoy writing and literature? Or was it something gradual?

As to writing ability, it just seems to come naturally to me, so it is rarely perceived as hard work by me. Growing up in Detroit in the 1950s and 60s, it was not a good time
to be Japanese-American in America. The nation had recently emerged from one of
the most bitter, hateful foreign wars in history and Japanese people were still openly
despised. My elementary school teachers made derogatory comments about Japan
to our classes, right in my presence and instead of praising my strengths (I was always
superior at reading and spelling), they amplified my weaknesses (math/science). In
middle school, I finally met a art teacher who realized I had talents in Graphic Arts and
he wrote a letter enabling me to get into a trade school. So I attended Cass Tech HS,
the best high school in SE Michigan at the time. When I took the 60s equivalent of a
SAT, it indicated I was in the top 7% of people born the same day as me, for writing
ability. Back in Junior High, I had written a short story for English class, which was a
James Bond short story. The teacher (a substitute teacher) thought it was so well-done,
that he insisted on reading the whole story aloud to the class. That was definitely the
first inkling I ever had that I might have some writing skills.
I never took any college-level journalism or writing classes at WSU, but I wrote my first
published newspaper article which appeared 2 months after my 20th birthday.
Later as a Detroit Police officer, I wrote precinct columns at 3 different precincts and
at the Tactical Section, for TUEBOR, the DPD’s union newspaper. My articles were
widely read, because they openly criticized high level policies of the Chief, Deputy
Chiefs, Mayor and City Council. Everyone in local city government read my columns
and even the judges spoke to me about them, when I was in various courtrooms to
testify on arrest cases. The articles also pissed-off the people in power which might be
one reason why I retired at the same rank as when I was hired 25 years later.
My police articles also incorporated a bit of story-telling, which was well-received, so several police books are also in my plans for future projects.

With all your knowledge of the 101st Airborne and your skill in writing, have you ever thought about venturing into writing fiction novels or maybe even screenplays?

Screenplays are a very intriguing concept but I've never had occasion to try it.  I suspect it might be a tad bit easier than writing a full blown novel, even a historical novel based on a esoteric slice of history that I'm well acquainted with.  I doubt I'll ever attempt a novel either.
I fully realize that it takes rich imagination and a special extra talent to write fiction as opposed to reporting or simple story-telling, which is all I do.  I really don't think I have that different kind of writing talent, to be a novelist.
I guess I'm short on creativity and imagination.  I've never been an innovator and believe me when I say I admire the writing skill that novelists posses, because I realize that their writing talents are greater than mine.

From all of the many interviews you have done with the 101st Airborne Troopers, out of all of them, which one was the most rewarding and helpful to you?

Leo Gillis (F/501) provided me a wealth of material which has not yet been fully utilized and will be used in my planned book on F/501. Lt George W.'Bill' Sefton of the 501 is a world-class story teller and he was also one of the best interview subjects I ever had. I have probably about 6 hours of audio tapes I made with him in the early 1970s. Sefton had a knack for always seeing the humor in almost any situation and his tales are instructive in how humor can be a defense device against morbidity in combat.
More recently, with the advent of audio tapes, I found that Earl Ralph Kelly and Chester Elliott of I/502 are not only great story tellers, but they had a collection of forbidden tales about happenings in their company, which virtually made my 1st 'Avenging Eagles' book much better than it could have been without their contributions. Donald E. Zahn of H and C/506th did a 6 hour video interview with me in 2004. He had avoided talking about the war for 60 years, because he didn't want his nine children to think of him as a person who had killed other people. Even apart from the killing aspect of combat, he'd had numerous other war-related traumatic experiences. His interview was one of the most memorable and he cried several times during our first hour of filming. He said "I knew this would happen if I re-visited those experiences...that's why I have avoided talking about it for so many years."
Don is sort of my alter ego, born on the same month and day (15 October) and I feel honored that he gave me the privilege of hearing his very personal stories, after compartmentalizing them for so many decades.
Mr Zahn is a bonafide war hero, who jumped into Normandy as a Pfc, was awarded the D.S.C. and later got a Battlefield Commission, serving in Charley Co. from Bastogne to Austria as a lieutenant.

Many authors/journalists/reporters decided to use pseudonym instead of their given name. Is Mark Bando, your pseudonym or your given name?

Mark Alan Bando is my given birth name. Ban-do means east hill in Japanese, although in the old country it is pronounced Bon- doh. Everyone here says BAN-doh, (rhyming with rubber BAND). I have no reason to write under a pseudonym for my WWII books, although I have considered doing it for my police books, due to the controversial nature of what I'll be writing about in them.

Sean MacKenzie: Is the author of five blogs (xanga (1 professional, 1 personal use), blogspot, shoutlife, ECFL) and is also a member of Facebook. She herself is writing a piece of fiction herself set in heart of Nazi Germany as well as many other pieces she hopes to publish one in particular is about the US Airborne. Don't forget to subscribe/follow her if you wish for further updates.