was hatched in April of 1982 at the home of
the veterans' newspaper, Stars & Stripes,
in Washington, D.C. This moniker combines
the name of its creator, John Fales, Marine
MOS in Vietnam and "Scout Sgt.," with the
military expression when wronged, "Shafted."
Sgt. Shaft's wry sense of humor, empathy for
the underdog, and strong love of country and
fellow veterans closely mirror the nature
of its creator. The weekly advice column resided
in the Stars & Stripes from 1982 to 1985,
and laid dormant until its rebirth in the
Washington Times in 1991. The column,
Fales is proud to say, gives an outlet for
the concerns of active military, veterans,
and their families in a national newspaper.
In addition to writing the column, John Fales
is President of the Blinded American Veterans
Foundation. Fales was born in New York City
and served in the U.S. Marine Corps until
his retirement on disability. His decorations
include Purple Heart, Vietnam Service Medal,
Vietnam Campaign Medal, National Defense Service
Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Service
Medal, New York State Conspicuous Service
Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Combat
Action Ribbon, and South Vietnamese Cross
of Gallantry. Sgt. Shaft has no twin.
This week, Sgt. Shaft weighs in on baseball legend and USMC
veteran Ted Williams, the new VA secretary, and new Guard benefits.
[Want to sound off on Sgt. Shaft's latest column? Visit
the discussion boards.]
Dear Sgt. Shaft:
A recent TV show referred to the remains of the late Ted
Williams still being stored upside down and headless at a cryogenic
storage facility in Arizona. His son, John Henry, who brought about
this ghoulish scenario, is now himself dead.
As a baseball legend and a Marine fighter pilot who fought in both
World War II and Korea, losing 4½ years of his major league playing
career, Mr. Williams deserves to be rescued from this degrading
situation and given a dignified burial with honors. Can't Major
League Baseball, the people of Boston and the Marine Corps pool
their influence and ensure his dignified burial, or is this American
icon destined to remain forgotten?
U.S. Army Vietnam War veteran
It is unconscionable that this American hero and baseball superstar
is left hanging upside down and headless like a piece of cowhide
in a dark deep freezer. I urge the powers that be in Major League
Baseball and the U.S. Marine Corps to use their muscle to ensure
that the remains of Mr.
Williams be buried with dignity and honor in the sacred grounds
of Arlington National Cemetery.
· The Sarge is looking forward to joining other members of the National
Press Club and their guests at a luncheon featuring Veterans Affairs
Secretary Jim Nicholson.
The president said when he announced Mr. Nicholson's nomination
to be the secretary of Veterans Affairs:
"Jim Nicholson is a patriot, a man of deep conviction who has answered
his country's call many times. As a young man from Iowa, raised
in modest circumstances, he became a cadet at West Point in the
late 1950s and went on to become an Army ranger and paratrooper.
As a ranger, he fought in Vietnam, where he won multiple decorations
for bravery in combat, including the Bronze Star and the Combat
Infantryman Badge. After eight years on active duty, he joined the
Army Reserve, in which he served for 22 more years before retiring
as a full colonel.
"Throughout his career, Jim has shown the same honor, integrity
and commitment to service that defined his life as a military officer.
He and his wife, Suzanne, have given back generously to their community
and have been leaders in numerous volunteer causes in their home
state of Colorado. He was a respected chairman of the Republican
National Committee. And for the past three years, he has served
as the United States ambassador to the Vatican."
"Jim has worked with the Vatican to advance many vital foreign-policy
goals, including fighting poverty, hunger, AIDS, expanding religious
liberty around the world and ending the brutal practice of human
"I'm grateful to Jim for his superb work as our ambassador, and
I now have asked him to accept a new assignment, to serve his country
and his fellow veterans."
The luncheon will be at noon April 20. For more information, call
Pat Nelson at 202/662-7500.
· The Sarge salutes the U.S. Postal Service for agreeing to pay
the employees' share (in addition to the Postal Service's share)
of health insurance premiums for up to 24 months for career USPS
employees who are called to active military duty. The change was
made in response to a request from the American Postal Workers Union.
The policy took effect March 17 and is retroactive to Dec. 28, 2002.
It applies to qualified career employees of the Postal Service activated
for military service under Executive Order 12302 or 13223 in Operation
Enduring Freedom, Operation Noble Eagle and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Postal Service will assume the full cost of employees' premiums
for the time that they perform qualifying military service only.
·The Sarge also salutes Amvets for their new initiative with the
National Guard. As the Guard faces increasing deployments, Amvets
has partnered with the National Guard Bureau to help maximize support
for the families affected by these deployments.
This agreement, formalized by a Memorandum of Understanding signed
by Amvets National Commander William A. Boettcher and National Guard
Bureau (NGB) Chief Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, marks the first time
the NGB has partnered with a national veterans service organization
to expand the Guard's Family Program volunteer network.
"As veterans, we fully appreciate what it means to have support
on the home front for our men and women in uniform," Mr. Boettcher
said. "It's particularly important for those who serve in the National
Guard, where their families often do not live in close proximity
to the services normally available to active-duty personnel."
Under the new arrangement, the AMVETS Family Support Network of
local posts will work closely with state National Guard Family Program
directors and coordinators to ensure that no Guard family "falls
between the cracks."
Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900,
Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax to 301-622-3330; call 202-462-4430
or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2005 Sgt. Shaft. All rights reserved.