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.
My name is Robert P. I was at the Arlington National Cemetery recently
and I saw the display of the beautiful print titled "Assured Victory."
Could you please let me know how much it costs and how I may order
a copy? Thank you.
As I noted in a previous column, George Skypeck has generously donated
hundreds of his "Assured Victory" prints to the Blinded American Veterans
Foundation (BAVF). Anyone who wishes to obtain a print and help our
wounded heroes and their families can send a $100 tax-deductible contribution
PO Box 65900
Washington, D.C. 20035-5900
The original painting has been loaned to Arlington National Cemetery,
where it is on display at the visitors' center. "Assured Victory"
depicts the terrorist attacks of September
11 -- the heroic sacrifice of the brave police, firefighters and
It also shows the resolve of America's gallant military forces to
bring the "war on terror," as president Bush termed it, to the terrorists
no matter where their haven, location or support base worldwide. To
that end, the painting depicts the first units to respond: the Air
Force's B-1, B-2
bombers and AC-130
gunships; the Army's Special Forces and Rangers; a Marine Expeditionary
attack aircraft from Navy aircraft carriers; the U.S. Coast Guard
and seaport and inland waterway security; the Army and Air National
Guard; the FBI and CIA; the Department of Homeland Security; and the
many unseen faces of America's reserve forces.
The main centerpieces are the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor,
and the Statue of Armed Freedom that rests atop the U.S. Capitol and
overlooks the Pentagon. Both symbols define the American sense of
spirit, duty and compassion --we welcome all peoples as friends, and
oppose all enemies with our entire might.
Below them is a purple and black mourning ribbon blending into the
purple and white ribbon of the Purple Heart medal linking the Pentagon
to the World Trade Center casualties, and the two symbols of American
sacrifice, which probably will continue as the war progresses. The
entire background of the painting is the American flag.
A special thanks to the Pitney Bowes Corp. for agreeing to mail the
prints to the generous donors.
- Kudos to Sen. Larry E. Craig, chairman of the Senate Committee on
Veterans Affairs, for maintaining a watch on greedy, unpatriotic entrepreneurs.
Mr. Craig said he was deeply troubled when he was told that "at least
four wounded servicemen have had their cars repossessed while being
treated for their injuries at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington,
D.C. That is simply unacceptable and may be in violation of federal
The Idaho Republican said that lenders need to be reminded that the
Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protects active-duty military families,
including National Guard troops called up to active duty, from foreclosures,
evictions and other financial pitfalls. Under the law, service members
are exempt from repossession or foreclosure without a court order.
The act also caps service members' interest rates at 6 percent, if
military service affects ability to meet their obligations, and allows
them to terminate any real-estate lease when their military orders
require them to do so. The law also forbids judges from holding military
personnel in default on any legal matter unless the court has first
appointed a lawyer to protect the service member.
- As we say "Happy Birthday USA," isn't it about time that Congress
adheres to the wishes of the citizens they represent by passing the
flag protection amendment. An independent poll confirms that the vast
majority of Americans want the flag protected from acts of desecration.
The poll of 1,004 adults nationwide was conducted by the Opinion Research
Corp. from June 16 to June 19 and has a margin of error of three percentage
points. In responding to the question "How important do you think
it is to make flag desecration against the law?" 81 percent said it
was somewhat to extremely important.
The poll echoes numerous others conducted since a 1989 U.S. Supreme
Court decision declared flag desecration protected by the First Amendment.
Poll after poll indicated that between 75 percent and 80 percent of
the public support legal protection of Old Glory from physical acts
"I'm delighted but not surprised that this poll again confirms what
we already know," said Thomas P. Cadmus, national commander of the
American Legion. "When asked a straightforward question, most Americans
will give you a straight answer -- 'Protect Old Glory.' "
The House and Senate are expected to vote on HJR-10, the flag protection
Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, PO Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail