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Sgt. Shaft: 'Assured Victory' Prints Available
Sgt. Shaft: 'Assured Victory' Prints, Protecting the Flag


About the Author

Sgt. Shaft 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.

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Dear Sgt. Shaft:

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.

Robert P.
Montgomery, Ala.

Dear Ray:

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 to:

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 Pentagon employees.

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 and B-52 bombers and AC-130 gunships; the Army's Special Forces and Rangers; a Marine Expeditionary Unit; F-18 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.

Shaft notes

- 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 law."

The Idaho Republican said that lenders need to be reminded that the Servicemembers 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 of desecration.

"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 amendment, soon.

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 sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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2005 Sgt. Shaft. All rights reserved.



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