Saturday, February 27, 2016

ersary of Flag Raising By COREY KILGANNONFEB. 26, 2016

Angelo Ciotta, 90, leaned against the bar inside a restaurant in Queens as fellow Marines offered a series of taut salutes and a bottle of red wine — a Marine Corps-themed vintage called Jarhead Red.

The label bore an insignia of the famous photograph of troops hoisting the American flag on Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945.

Mr. Ciotta, a retired private first class, was present that day at Mount Suribachi, where the flag was raised during one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific theater.

“Of my squad of 14, every one of them got wounded or killed,” said Mr. Ciotta, who was shot in the leg.

“I was lucky because I’m bowlegged — it missed the bone,” he said on Tuesday night, the 71st anniversary of the flag raising, where Mr. Ciotta and his fellow Queens native Jack Seiferth, 93, were honored for their service on Iwo Jima.

Dr. Seiferth, a retired sergeant with the First Battalion, Fourth Marine Division, said he managed to survive the 36-day battle in part because while storming the beach, “the first three waves were wiped out, and I was in the fourth wave.”

A commemoration of the Marines who fought in the battle of Iwo Jima.CreditUli Seit for The New York Times

Mr. Ciotta and Dr. Seiferth were being honored by a special Marine Corps detachment with a curious name: Romeo Unit 1, New York City.

Romeo is an acronym for Retired Old Marines Eating Out. The unit’s mission is to meet every month or so for a meal and swap stories, to continue the traditions and camaraderie of the Marine Corps.

Members hold a larger dinner each February to honor the ever-dwindling number of local veterans of Iwo Jima, a historic battle that Marines generally regard as their finest combat moment.

“There’s a bond — we’re a family, so we take care of each other,” Mr. Ciotta said during the dinner, which was convened on Tuesday at Manducatis, a restaurant in Long Island City, Queens.

The Romeo group includes Marines — some active-duty, but most retired — from every major military campaign since World War II and from nearly every rank of service.

It is an eclectic, colorful group that includes high-level corporate executives, retired police officers and teachers, and even a few accomplished actors, including Joe Lisi, 65, a retired Marine corporal and New York City police captain who founded the group.

Jack Seiferth, center, a retired sergeant, is one of a dwindling number of local veterans of Iwo Jima. CreditUli Seit for The New York Times

Mr. Lisi helped herd roughly 60 men to long tables near American and Marine Corps flags and brought the noisy room to order — the chatter stopped abruptly after a call of “Marines, ho!” — so that he could toast Mr. Ciotta and Dr. Seiferth.

“We love you and you very much set the standard — Semper Fi,” he said, invoking the familiar Marine credo of loyalty.

Then, Col. James Iulo, an active-duty Marine commander, offered a toast to fallen soldiers and reminded the men that 27 Medals of Honor were awarded for actions on Iwo Jima, the most of any battle in Marine Corps history. And, he added, though many more American troops were injured than Japanese, about three times as many Japanese were killed. About 70,000 Marines fought on the island and nearly 7,000 were killed, according to the National WWII Museum.

To this, there was a unified shout of “Oorah!” — the battle cry of the Marines.

A recording of taps was played, and standing along with the Marines was the owner of Manducatis, Vincenzo Cerbone, 86, a Marine veteran who served in the renowned First Infantry Division, sometimes called the Big Red One.

At a long table where several young active-duty Marines sat, Col. Christopher A. McPhillips, a military fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, was chatting with Gerry Byrne, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and current media executive.

The gathering was organized by a Marine Corps detachment called Romeo Unit 1 — an acronym for Retired Old Marines Eating Out. CreditUli Seit for The New York Times

Nearby were two other actors, John Doman and Wayne Scott Miller, who has worked as George Clooney’s stunt double. At the other end of the table was Dr. Seiferth, a retired college professor, who was talking with Dr. Theodore Laquercia, a psychoanalyst in Manhattan who served in Morocco as a private first class.

What brings them all together is the credo of “Once a Marine, always a Marine,” said Colonel Iulo, who oversees Marine Corps recruiting for much of the East Coast, and who pointed to the Marines insignia on his hat, of an eagle, a globe and an anchor.

“Some of these guys have been out of the Marines for 50 or 60 years, but they still show up because, even though you may take off the uniform, the eagle, globe and anchor are tattooed on your heart,” said the colonel, immaculately turned out in his olive green service uniform — one that, he noted, has barely changed in a century.

If Colonel Iulo was a model of spit-and-polish Marine Corps decorum, there were also attendees in red Marine Corps satin bowling jackets. Then there was Tom Nerney, 76, a retired New York police detective from Queens who had squeezed into — with the help of a corset, he joked — his faded green uniform from 55 years ago.

“I can drop down and give you 20 push-ups,” Mr. Nerney said, “but you may have to get me into a chair afterward.”

Mr. Ciotta and Dr. Seiferth said most of the men they fought with on Iwo Jima had died in recent years.

Mr. Ciotta, who was a corporal and demolition specialist with the 28th Marine Regiment, Fifth Marine Division, recalled Iwo Jima as a special kind of hell, in which members of his unit slogged their way over soft volcanic ash and were easy targets for Japanese soldiers hidden in caves and tunnels, and firing from so-called pillbox battlements.

Mr. Ciotta, who was awarded the Purple Heart, was assigned to crawling up to the pillboxes and blowing them up.

“People call us the living history of World War II,” he said, holding his bottle of Jarhead Red, “but we did nothing more than what we were asked to do for our country.”

Correction: February 26, 2016

An earlier version of this article misidentified the unit to which Jack Seiferth, a retired ​Marine ​sergeant, belonged. Dr. Seiferth was with the First Battalion, 24th Marines, not the First Battalion, Fourth Marine Division.

D.C. THUGS DECLARE WAR ON U.S. MARINES 'Knockout'-style attack on 2nd vet


Marine veteran Michael Schroeder

Marine veteran Michael Schroeder

Thugs in the nation’s capital appear to have a knack for ambushing Marine veterans from behind.

A second war veteran this month was hospitalized in Washington, D.C., after being knocked unconscious in an unprovoked attack. Michael Schroeder, 35, was beaten and left for dead Feb. 12 while walking home from a bar on the same day that veteran Christopher Marquez, 30, suffered a similar assault upon exiting a McDonald’s.

Schroeder was robbed of $40 to $60.

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“I wasn’t trying to find trouble. I was actually just trying to walk home,” the veteran told WUSA 9 on Thursday. “It’s hard for me to understand because there would’ve been zero reason for it.”

The veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom suffered suffered a fractured skull, severe concussion, convulsions and a fever as a result of the attack. A family passing by in a cab saw his body wedged between two cars and called 9-1-1. He was then taken to George Washington Hospital.

“This will probably go down as an assault or attempted robbery, but when you hit somebody in the head, and hard enough to fracture their skull with something harder than a metal or fist, it should be looked at as attempted murder,” Schroeder’s brother, who is also a Marine, told the CBS affiliate.

Police have not yet identified any suspects.

Schroeder’s attack bears the hallmarks of the “Knockout Game” that surged in popularity with urban teens beginning in 2013. Victims are attacked from behind with a sharp blow to the head. Attackers sometimes rummage through their unconscious victim’s pockets.


A "Knockout Game" victim

A “Knockout Game” victim

“I feel violated walking down the street and expecting someone to come after me or attack me,” one Washington, D.C., victim told WJLA-7 on Dec. 14, 2013.

The man, who wished to remain anonymous, told the ABC affiliate that his assault was perpetrated by a group of at least 10 teenagers.

“Make sure you travel in packs when you’re out and about, or travel with one other person so you don’t have the likelihood of getting hurt,” he said.

The Knockout Game has been tough to track because many police departments simply list the crime as an assault. Its true nature has been revealed through security camera footage and videos uploaded to social media websites.

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“It’s a very old game,” John Roman, a fellow at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, told the Washington Times in November 2013 after two local women were attacked. “It has a tendency to flare up and be a trend for a little bit.”

Unlike Schroeder’s attack, those responsible for Marquez’s injuries have been arrested. Two teenagers, a male and a female, were charged with aggravated assault and pick-pocketing, respectively, WND reported Wednesday.

Marquez, whose bravery during a 2004 firefight in Fallujah inspired the “No Man Left Behind” war memorial at Camp Pendleton, California, said he was harassed with questions related to the Black Lives Matter movement before he was knocked unconscious. He was taken to George Washington Hospital and treated for head trauma and an eye contusion.

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“I believe this was a hate crime and I was targeted because of my skin color,” Marquez told the Daily Caller Feb. 15. “Too many of these types of attacks have been happening against white people by members of the black community and the majority of the mainstream media refuses to report on it.”


Marine veteran Christopher Marquez was was attacked at a McDonald's in Washington D.C., after teens asked him about the Black Lives Matter movement

Marine veteran Christopher Marquez was was attacked at a McDonald’s in Washington D.C., after teens asked him about the Black Lives Matter movement

A GoFundMe page has been created to help Schroeder pay for his medical expenses. Readers can reach the site here.


Our first seminar with Measuring the ANZACs data


In our first blog post introducing Measuring the ANZACs to the world we told some of the story of the Dibble brothers from Auckland.

The story of the Dibble brothers from Auckland (New Zealand) illustrates some of the questions we will explore using data from Measuring the ANZACs. Victor Thomas Dibble, along with brothers Ralph Ambrose and Jesse Cyril enlisted together in the NZEF in 1916. Victor and Ralph were both bankers, while Jesse was a farmer. Their serial numbers were sequential, 26571, 26572, and 26573. Portions of their service files are mistakenly interleaved with each other. All three served in France in the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.

3/4 portrait of three Dibble brothers, Corporal (later Sergeant) Ralph Ambrose Dibble, Reg no 26572 (centre), and Privates Jesse Cyril Dibble(right), Reg No 26571, and Victor Thomas Dibble (left), Reg No 26573, all of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 8th Reinforcements to the 4th Battalion, - H Company, 17th Reinforcements.

3/4 portrait of three Dibble brothers, Corporal (later Sergeant) Ralph Ambrose Dibble, Reg no 26572 (centre), and Privates Jesse Cyril Dibble(right), Reg No 26571, and Victor Thomas Dibble (left), Reg No 26573, all of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 8th Reinforcements to the 4th Battalion, – H Company, 17th Reinforcements.

Jesse’s service was marked with both distinction (receiving a Croix de Guerre from the Belgian government) and disciplinary issues including overstaying and drunkenness. Ralph’s service was more ordinary than his brothers, staying in service until the end of the war. In 1917 he was evacuated to England for treatment of a lacerated hand suffered when trying to open a bottle by banging it against a bank. Letters in his file show that despite the incident being his own fault he was not disciplined and given base duty while he recuperated. Victor meanwhile was injured in action by a shell, and had his left leg amputated. He recuperated in England at Oatlands Park, and returned to New Zealand in February 1919. All three had survived the war unlike 18,166 of their compatriots.

Victor married in 1927, and his rehabilitation training helped him gain a job as the Secretary to the Manawatu Racing Club in Palmerston North three years later. But in 1932 Victor’s body was discovered on the grounds of the race course. He had shot himself. More than a decade after the war ended it still enacted its toll on New Zealand’s soldiers. Jesse Dibble served in World War II and lived to be 81, while Ralph returned to his job in the National Bank and lived to age 93. The story of these brothers who grew up together, enlisted together, fought together, and came home together encapsulates many of our goals in Measuring the ANZACs.

Studying suicide in returned soldiers was not part of our original research plan in the project that led to Measuring the ANZACs. But we found interesting stories that spoke to the larger issues we were interested in about how war affected men’s health in the long-term, and the data in New Zealand is quite good for asking about suicide in particular.

But we have a relatively small sample of men whose lives we have traced in depth, and we need a larger sample to more effectively study suicide. Suicide is relatively rare, so we need large numbers—the complete transcription you are helping us with—to find the stories of men who later took their lives.

On Talk several people have pointed us to files where there is evidence of post-war suicide by men who survived the war. We were able to then look at these files and think about these men’s stories in comparison to the group whose information we’ve already collected. Today we presented a seminar about suicide in World War I soldiers, and included some of the stories that you, our citizen scientists, have turned up on Measuring the ANZACs. So, thank you, your work is helping us with our research.

But … we must do more. Our understanding of suicide will be tremendously improved by the data from the History Sheets and the Statement of Services telling us what experiences men had in the war: their wounds, sickness, and the units and battles they were in. This is data we don’t yet have, and we must transcribe.

Our research on suicide stands only as an example of the kind of research that can be done with a complete transcription of these records where we can connect people to their families, to their peers in the same military units, and find rare stories. 125,000 New Zealand men served. If we have stories about things that happened to 1000 or 2000 men we can find them with a complete transcription. Onwards with Measuring the ANZACs, and thank you.

Sick vandals destroy World War One heroes graves at cemetery

French hold firm against German onslaught at Verdun By Ronan McGreevy

Wounded French troops on the Western Front. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Wounded French troops on the Western Front. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

February 25th, 1916

The Times of London reported that the French have stood up well to the German onslaught at Verdun. The battle began on February 21st when the Germans bombarded the French lines . Four days into the battle, the Times, in a despatch published by The Irish Times, is reporting that the French have responded with “considerable satisfaction”. The report continued: “It was expected and foreseen. The French were ready; their front remains unbroken in spite of withdrawals and they have had the chance they sought of inflicting heavy losses on the Germans.

“The battle is, of course, only now beginning and it may continue for many days. Our Paris correspondent hints the reasons which have led the Germans to attack Verdun are believed in France to be dynastic. The Kaiser, whose appearance on the Western Front has so often been the presage of failure, is present in person. The Crown Prince, who commands the flower of the troops in the West and asks for supplies in vain, is in nominal control.”

Recruitment in Co Kerry is “dead”, according to The Irish Times. The absence of men to join up for the British war effort is down to an “open and avowed pro-German, anti-recruiting Sinn Féin element that has been allowed to spread and to spread until every village in Kerry is rotten with it”, according to Sir Morgan O’Connell . A relative of the Liberator, Daniel O’Connell, he spoke of witnessing an anti-recruiting meeting in Killarney. “A Sinn Féin mob, headed by the band, marched up and down through the meeting with the usual accompaniment off booing and yelling. This riotous mob was led by one of the Justices of the Peace for Co Kerry.”


Relatives of Irishmen who served at sea during the first World War have been invited to share their stories in advance of the centenary of the Battle of Jutland. At least 10,000 Irishmen served in

'Middies' No Longer Have to Wear Skirts

Find Rabbit’: Marine’s 70-year search for fallen friend finally ends with recovery of missing cemetery


Elwin Hart heard the crack of the Japanese sniper’s bullet that pierced the heart of one of his first friends in the Marines.

He saw Pfc. Elmer “Rabbit” Mathies Jr. fall from the lip of the dugout where they’d taken cover. Another tough Marine “cried like a baby” when they realized Mathies had no pulse.


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