6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops - We Are The Mighty
MUSIC

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops

On July 20, 2017, the veteran community lost a valuable advocate in Chester Bennington, lead singer and front man of Linkin Park. Not only do his lyrics resonate deeply within the veteran community, he was a loud supporter of the U.S. troops.


To commemorate the life and support of Chester, let us never forget the acts of a true patriot.

1. He was a friend of Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and CEO of IAVA

 

2. He joined many celebrities on the “Convoy to Combat Suicide” tour

Along with Lady Gaga, Korn, Avenged Sevenfold, Cale Conley, and many MLB teams, the goals of the tour were to pass the Clay Hunt SAV Act, getting President Obama to take Executive action in this effort, and to connect over a million post-9/11 veterans with transitional resources.

 

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops
Chester talking in front of a San Diego crowd. (Photo via YouTube Screengrab)

3. His vocal support of the Clay Hunt SUV Act worked

On Feb. 12, 2015, President Obama signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act into law. The bill not only broadens VA and third-party support for veterans, but also extends combat veterans’ eligibility for VA hospital care for one year.

(The Obama White House, YouTube)

4. The song “Wastelands” is dedicated to the troops

In addition to being a dedication by Linkin Park, the music video features many photos of our men and women in uniform.

[dailymotion //www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/x3nxjh6 expand=1]

Real Time With Bill Maher: Backstage Pass… by fatimagale

Fellow Linkin Park band member Mike Shinoda said to Military Times, “Our effort to help soldiers is a humanitarian one, about people. I hope the veterans feel our deep gratitude for their service and hope our efforts help give them the support they need to re-establish their lives.”

(IAVAVids, YouTube)

5. Every stop on the “Carnivores” tour, he would give a shout out to the troops

In Linkin Park’s 2014 tour, Chester would take a moment to thank the troops and veterans in attendance. He would address the audience about veteran suicide in a somber tone. He encourages the crowds to join in with him for all the troops do for the country.

During the tour, Linkin Park flies twenty two flags, each flag symbolizing the Veterans Affairs Department’s estimate for daily suicide among veterans.

(Quan Nguyen, YouTube)

6. He truly cared and took his time to speak to veterans who approached him

Chester Bennington would always make time for his fans, especially his military fans. Many times, he would allow the veterans to just vent directly to him.

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops
(Photo via Twitter)

Writer’s Note: He was a great man and a voice of my generation. Personally, his music helped me get through the rough times of my teenage years.

As a soldier, Linkin Park was always on my playlist. Going through my divorce in Afghanistan, it was the music that truly felt like someone else knew what was going on in my life.

Now, as a veteran, it breaks my heart knowing that a man that gave his all to prevent veteran suicide ended his own life.

An estimated 40% of all Post 9/11 veterans know a veteran who ended their life and 47% know someone who attempted. The burden of suicide isn’t just on the shoulders of one person.

We need to stand together. Friend to friend. Comrade to comrade. Veteran to veteran.

Be there for the people who swore to always have your back.

MUSIC

The top 5 military-themed songs that aren’t written by Toby Keith

Music is such a powerful tool in our society. It is absolutely crazy how lyrics on top of a melody can turn our brain into a mental time machine. For me, I can never listen to “Cherry Pie” by Warrant and not go back to that dive bar in Ohio where I slow danced the night away with a girl I assumed was my next ex-wife.


6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops

For many of us veterans, hearing a song might take us back to when we served or where we deployed. I spent many days in 2005 sitting by my tent in Iraq, enjoying one of those cold, delicious, non-alcoholic Busch beers while enjoying some fine tunes.

Music artists have usually gone out of their way to release one song “for the troops!” While many are not nearly as good as country music superstar Toby Keith when it comes to producing a ‘Murican tune, some have succeeded. Today we will honor 5 of those artists whose names don’t rhyme with Kobe Teeth.

1. Kenny Loggins — Danger Zone

You gotta be careful listening to this one, especially after watching the music video. Sometimes I think I’m Maverick and I’m getting ready to do a lot of cool things in an F-14. Then I look down at my Prius speedometer and see that I’m only doing 55. Kenny nails this song though. You cannot listen to it and not think of Tom Cruise and those other handsome flyboys in Top Gun.

2. Dixie Chicks — Travelin’ Soldier

Alright, before you go getting outraged and calling for my head because I included the Dixie Chicks on this list, hear me out! If you listen to the lyrics in this song and don’t get a little misty eyed, YOU might not be American! This is one of the greatest love songs ever written about the love between a deployed soldier and his lady back home. This is also one you have to be careful listening to. You might end up singing it at the top of your lungs while sitting in traffic, and it’s embarrassing the first four times it happens.

3. Creedence Clearwater Revival — Fortunate Son

I don’t even have to explain how great this song is to all members of the military. As an Iraqi veteran I am insanely jealous that this masterpiece was released during the Vietnam era. This is the song I listen to right before I get ready for an intense night of ping pong.

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops

 

4. Johnny Cash — I Won’t Back Down

The Man in Black brilliantly covered this Tom Petty song which saw heavy radio play following the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks. Rumor has it that if you listen to this song three times in front of the mirror, you will actually re-enlist. You will probably also fail the urinalysis too which should have been expected if you were sitting in front of a mirror in your bathroom listening to this song.

5. Toby Keith — Brought To You Courtesy of The Red White and Blue (The Angry American)

OK, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make a list of military themed songs without listing Toby Keith. I mean it’s Toby Keith! Anyways, let’s get to the last, bonus song on the list.

BONUS: Lee Greenwood — God Bless the USA

This is the song every veteran should be listening to at their local Waffle House every single Veteran’s Day when they’re enjoying those sweet sweet waffles. If this song doesn’t hit you right in the feels then I just don’t know if there’s a place for you in this country.

Lists

10 awesome songs we listened to while ‘Bangin’ in Sangin’

Gearing up to head out on a vital mission, clearing operation, or standard foot patrol to take down enemy forces comes with a lot of excitement and no shortage of anxiety.


You can’t exactly watch TV to take your mind off things, so music plays a key factor in lifting spirits and keeping Marines hungry for the fight.

Related: 4 times armies blasted music to intimidate and infuriate their enemies

My brothers in 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines and I faced many major obstacles while serving during our combat deployment in Sangin, Afghanistan.

So check out the music playlist that kept our morale high and our motivation pumping as we were “Bangin’ in Sangin.”

1. DMX – “Ruff Ryder’s Anthem”

Great while setting up a vehicle check point.

(DMXVEVO, Youtube)

2. Outkast – “Bombs over Baghdad”

An awesome song to play while dropping mortars on the bad guy’s position.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaFygeknae8
(GeneralGibbs, Youtube)

3. Katy Perry – “California Gurls”

Best song for Hollywood Marines to listen to when they think about them California girls.

Don’t judge — you know she’s catchy as hell. (KatyPerryVEVO, YouTube)

4. Ludacris – “Roll Out”

When you’re “Oscar Mike” in two minutes and need that extra burst of motivation.

(LudacrisVEVO, YouTube)

5. AC/DC – “Thunderstuck”

Best to listen to after a productive enemy engagement. OO-RAH!

(acdcVEVO, YouTube)

6. E-40 – “Go Hard or Go Home”

Awesome to listen to at the gym or when you want to make a legit deployment dance video.

(Alex Burock, YouTube)

7. Survivor – “Eye of the Tiger”

A good song for all occasions.

(SurvivorVEVO, Youtube)

8. Trick Daddy – “Let’s Go!”

When you’re beggin’ the bad guys to shoot at you.

(HQmvideo, YouTube)

9. Seether – “Out of my way”

Perfect right before gearing up for a patrol or clearing operation.

(Randomgunz, YouTube)

10. Kanye West – “Stronger”

When you survived another day in the suck. (That beard though.)

(KanyeWestVEVO, YouTube) 

Here’s the playlist in one convenient location. You’re welcome.

What music did you listen to while taking down the bad guys? Comment below.
MIGHTY TRENDING

This is why so many veterans turn to music after war

An increasing number of studies and testimonials suggest that music heals symptoms of trauma, depression, and anxiety. As a result, veterans are being offered more music programs to help with healing after service.


Walter Reed Army Medical Center and at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence have created a music therapy program.

There are music therapists at VA hospitals across the country.

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops
Vietnam War veteran and Guitars for Vets volunteer James Robledo places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. (Guitars for Vets photo)

And there are non-profit organizations like Guitars for Vets, which provides free guitar lessons — and a guitar — to veterans nationwide.

Vietnam War veteran James Robledo is a graduate of the program and the chapter coordinator at the Loma Linda chapter in California who, as a volunteer, has helped over 180 veterans graduate from the program.

“Playing the guitar takes concentration, it’s a little frustrating, it’s a challenge — but when you’re doing that, everything else disappears,” Robledo told We Are The Mighty.

Guitars for Vets — and its impact — has gained national attention. Robledo was named the 2015 National Humanitarian of the Year by the National Association of Letter Carriers, and he was invited to a music panel at the White House as well as to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

“There have been students that have come back and said because of the program they no longer have suicidal thoughts. And that’s what we’re about,” added Robledo.

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops
It costs $200 to put a veteran through the program, and all the funding comes from donations. (Guitars for Vets photo)

Ted Peterson, a veteran of the Navy and the Army and another graduate of the program, joined Robledo (and Willie Nelson — maybe you’ve heard of him) at the White House for a panel on music in the military.

He has written songs about the military community, including one that helped provide solace after the loss of loved ones.

“Learning to play guitar has let me reinvent myself. My knees and back are pretty banged up, but I can still impact other peoples’ lives in a positive way,” said Peterson about how he uses music to help others.

To date, Guitars for Vets has administered over 25,000 guitar lessons and distributed over 2,500 guitars to Veterans, and their waiting list keeps growing, which is why We Are The Mighty has partnered up with Base*FEST powered by USAA to donate $1 (up to $10k) every time you vote for one of our veteran artists and Mission: Music finalists until Sept. 23, 2017.

Editors’s Note: Voting is now closed. We reached our goal of donating $10k to Guitars for Vets — thank you to all those who supported this program!

MUSIC

Civil War musicians served as battlefield medics

The life of a Civil War regimental band member wasn’t all treble clefs and drum sticks. During combat, they were pressed into service as field medics and ambulance drivers, running onto contested battlefields and dragging the wounded off for medical treatment.


The bands were generally raised just before the units they would serve. Some were contracted by state legislatures and others by officers in units they had begun enlisting.

The initial purpose of the band was to help get attention of potential enlistees as a sort of marketing campaign.

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops
(Photo: Public Domain)

When the units began training and later deploying, the bands would help keep morale up and sometimes assist with music for drills.

But when the units took to the field, there were generally few uses for a full brass band in the middle of combat. Some were ordered to play music in the middle of the fray, like when a Confederate band played during the Battle of Gettysburg and men on both sides heard the music.

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops
The Zouave ambulance crew, probably made up of members of the military band by the same name, conduct a demonstration of their abilities. (Photo: Library of Congress)

Some musicians became runners, carrying messages as the bullets flew. But most were sent to remove the wounded.

Massachusetts musician John D. Whitcomb later said:

I put some considerable value on the service of the band in the several affairs the regiment was engaged in as an Ambulance Corps. . . . The mere fact of one member of the band being twice required to cross the line of fire of both forces, undoubtedly saved the lives of several members of our own regiment from the fire of one of our own batteries, several members of our own regiment having already been killed by the unfortunately located battery. . . . The bandsmen had been well taught by the surgeon how to give first aid to the wounded, and how to use stretchers, bandages and tourniquets. We were to go with the regiment into battle, rescue the wounded, if possible, and carry them to the field hospital. We were liable to be sent as messengers on dangerous errands.

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops
Notice how front lines never had a particularly safe place to play instruments. (Painting: Don Troiani courtesy of the National Guard)

In 1862, Congress passed a bill to muster out nearly all regimental bands, leaving some at the corps and brigade levels as well as drummers, buglers, and fifers in the companies.

Unsurprisingly since many of the men had worked in battles like Whitcomb’s, they were happy to take their last paychecks and leave.

Later the same year, Maj. Jonathan Letterman created the Ambulance Corps out of specially trained soldiers, along with the medics, nurses, and surgeons who had existed since the Revolutionary War.

The Ambulance Corps proved itself at the Battle of Antietam when they successfully recovered all the wounded in 24 hours. (The musicians sometimes took over a week to do the same after some battles.)

MUSIC

This anthem is full of pre-WW2 history that no one knows about

The words of the United States Coast Guard are Semper Paratus — always ready.

Since Aug. 4, 1790, it’s been true. The Revenue Marines were created by Congress in 1790 and, in 1915, the modern Coast Guard we know and love and appreciate when we are lost at sea was formed.

“Coasties” serve in times of peace and in times of war and we are lucky to have them.

The History of the U.S. Coast Guard Song

The song perfectly captures the history and lore of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Posted by We Are The Mighty on Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Coast Guard song is named for its motto Semper Paratus and here are a few things you should know about it, if you want to call yourself a true (trivia- and/or Coast Guard-loving) American:

1. The song turned 90 years old last year

Written in 1927 by Captain Francis S. Van Boskerck, legend has it the song was penned whilst Van Boskerck was in the Aleutian Islands. He used an old piano that belonged to a fur trader’s wife. Two dentists, Alfred E. Nannestand and Joseph O. Fournier, also helped with the early lyrics.

2. Like the other services, the song was the result of a song-search contest*

Van Boskerck and his dentist buddies entered their version into the contest and won. In 1943, Homer Smith would revise the lyrics, and in 1969, the first line of each verse was changed, resulting in the current version of the song.

*For all the songwriters out there looking to make history, rumor has it our young country may soon have a new branch of the military, and with it, the need for an anthem of its own…

3. It contains a decent synopsis of pre-WWII Coast Guard history

“From Aztec shore to Arctic zone,” alludes to the U.S. landings on Mexico’s Gulf Coast during the Mexican War (1846-1848). “Surveyor and Narcissus” refers to the Cutter Surveyor who faced off against the British Narcissus during the War of 1812.

The U.S. Coast Guard patrols the waters around New York in the wake of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

www.youtube.com

The lyrics are full of Easter Eggs. See if you can identify each historical moment below:

Verse 1
From Aztec Shore to Arctic Zone,
To Europe and Far East,
The Flag is carried by our ships
In times of war and peace;
And never have we struck it yet,
In spite of foemen’s might,
Who cheered our crews and cheered again
For showing how to fight.

Chorus
We’re always ready for the call,
We place our trust in Thee.
Through surf and storm and howling gale,
High shall our purpose be,
“Semper Paratus” is our guide,
Our fame, our glory, too.
To fight to save or fight and die!
Aye! Coast Guard, we are for you.

Verse 2
“Surveyor” and “Narcissus,”
The “Eagle” and “Dispatch,”
The “Hudson” and the “Tampa,”
These names are hard to match;
From Barrow’s shores to Paraguay,
Great Lakes or Ocean’s wave,
The Coast Guard fights through storms and winds
To punish or to save.

Verse 3
Aye! We’ve been “Always Ready”
To do, to fight, or die!
Write glory to the shield we wear
In letters to the sky.
To sink the foe or save the maimed
Our mission and our pride.
We’ll carry on ’til Kingdom Come
Ideals for which we’ve died.

Articles

This vet taught himself to play the piano in Saddam Hussein’s bombed out palace

In December 2003, Michael Trotter, Jr. was a soldier stationed in Baghdad, Iraq. His unit was camped out in one of Saddam Hussein’s bombed-out palaces when his commanding officer discovered a piano and suggested Trotter, who enjoyed singing, check it out.


“You had to crawl over soot and rut and rock and rubble from the war to get to this piano; it was like one of those dramatic movie scenes,” Trotter told Real Clear Life.

It’s common for troops to play the easier-to-transport guitar while deployed, but not many get the chance to tickle the ivory. Trotter didn’t know how to play piano, but he began to teach himself. Music became an outlet and an escape from the stress of combat.

When his friend, Army Captain Robert C. Scheetz, Jr., was killed by an IED, Trotter wrote a song called “Dear Martha,” which he then performed at Scheetz’s memorial service. Trotter would go on to sing at many more memorials, providing solace for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Dear Martha” is about the letters written between loved ones divided by war. Trotter recorded the song with his wife, Tanya Blount, as part of their musical duo, The War and Treaty, which explores the concept of creating music out of darkness and despair to find peace, tranquility, and a higher purpose.

While this video doesn’t include any visuals, you can hear their tranquil notes and haunting harmonies by clicking play below — and you really, really should:

(The War and Treaty | YouTube)
MIGHTY HISTORY

How a sailor remembered 250 prisoners of war through song

Douglas Hegdahl walked freely around the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison camp, one of many American prisoners of war held there in 1967. He was sweeping the courtyards during the prison guards’ afternoon “siesta.” The American sailor that fell into their laps was known to the guards as “The Incredibly Stupid One.” They believed he could neither read nor write and could barely even see. But the “stupid” Seaman Apprentice Hegdahl was slowly collecting intelligence, gathering prisoner data, and even sabotaging the enemy.

He even knew the prison’s location inside Hanoi.


Hegdahl was a South Dakota native who was blown off the deck of the USS Canberra as the ship’s five-inch guns fired on nearby targets of opportunity. Once overboard, he floated in the South China Sea for 12 hours before being picked up by fishermen, who turned him over to the North Vietnamese.

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops

Hegdahl’s enlistment photo and a photo of the sailor in captivity.

Certain he could be tortured for information, the Communists tried to get Hegdahl to write anti-American and anti-war propaganda. They showed him similar documents that other captives – higher ranking captives – wrote for the North Vietnam. Hegdahl thought about it for a moment, then agreed. The Communists were amazed. No other captured American did this voluntarily. They went off to get ink and paper.

The young sailor was thinking quickly. He figured the officers who wrote the propaganda material were probably coerced into doing it. He decided the best thing he could do was play dumb. He was very, very successful. The North Vietnamese thought Doug Hegdahl was a developmentally challenged “poor peasant” and set out to teach him to read and write. After failing at that, they decided to write a confession for him to sign, which he did:

“Seaman Apprentice Douglas Brent Hegdahl III United States Navy Reserve, Commanding Officer, USS Canberra.”

The sailor was first put into a cell with Air Force officer Joe Crecca, who taught Hegdahl 256 names of other POWs and then taught him how to memorize the information to the tune of “Old McDonald.” After that, Hegdahl was imprisoned with Dick Stratton, who was the ranking officer for a time.

Because they thought Hegdahl so developmentally challenged, the Hỏa Lò Prison guards essentially gave him free reign to do a lot of the cleaning and sweeping around the prison yard. He was even allowed to go and clean up around the front gates of the prison itself. That’s how he was able to later tell U.S. intelligence where the prison could be found within the North Vietnamese capital.

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops

Hegdahl on sweeping duty at “The Plantation,” Hanoi.

But the sailor didn’t stop there. As the sailor swept the prison grounds, when the single guard assigned to him took his afternoon siesta, Hegdahl would add a little bit of dirt to the gas tank of the nearest truck. Over the course of his captivity, he managed to disable five NVA prison trucks this way.

Eventually, it came time for the NVA to offer early releases to some of the prisoners of the Hanoi Hilton. Even though there was a strict order among the POWs to not accept any early releases, Hegdahl was ordered to accept an early release — the only Hoa Lo prisoner ever ordered to do so — by his senior officer, Lt. Cmndr. Dick Stratton. He was not only the most junior prisoner in the camp, he also had all the information the U.S. government needed to expedite the release of the POWs — all of them. He didn’t want to, but someone needed to tell the U.S. about the torture they were receiving there.

When he was released, not only did Hegdahl recite the names of the 256 men who were shot down or captured in North Vietnam, he could say their dog’s name, kids’ names, and/or social security numbers. These were the means by which other POWs verified the information given. He picked up all of this information through tap code, deaf spelling code, and secret notes.

Released in 1969, Hegdahl was able to accuse the North Vietnamese of torture and murder of prisoners of war at the Paris Peace Talks in 1970. Flown there by H. Ross Perot, he accused the North Vietnam delegation of murdering Dick Stratton, assuring Lt. Cmndr. Stratton would have to be repatriated alive at the war’s end.

But the prisoners back in Hanoi didn’t have to wait long for treatment to change. Once Hegdahl described the treatment of POWs in public and to the media, the ones he left behind saw their treatment improve, receiving better rations and less brutality in their daily life.

In his memoirs, Stratton wrote of Hegdahl:

“The Incredibly Stupid One,” my personal hero, is the archetype of the innovative, resourceful and courageous American Sailor.
MUSIC

That time a President’s son got high with Willie Nelson at the White House

Country-Western legend Willie Nelson enjoys a great view. It’s also well-known that he enjoys smoking marijuana. There’s even a well-known country song about protecting oneself from getting into Nelson’s allegedly potent stash.


For years, in interviews and in his biographies, Nelson alluded to smoking weed with a “White House insider” during the Presidency of Jimmy Carter. Nelson says the insider knocked on his hotel room door one night and offered to give him an exclusive tour of the Presidential mansion. On the roof, Nelson says the insider had a beer in one hand and a fat Austin Torpedo in the other.

In a 2015 interview with GQ, Nelson admitted what he’d long neglected to answer. His insider friend was actually Chip Carter, otherwise known as James Earl Carter III, son of then-President Jimmy Carter.

Nelson, after admitting that his friend “looked a lot like…could have been, yeah…” Chip Carter, he goes on to say that the incident wasn’t anything to brag about.

“… at the time, seemed like the thing to do. We were there, and there it was, and uh…why not, you know? And they have a great view from the roof.”

When asked if he hid the story and his friend’s identity to keep from embarrassing the President, Nelson denied it, saying President Carter knew his own son and that he definitely knew the Red-Headed Stranger.

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops
President Carter with Willie Nelson and friends. (National Archives)

Chip Carter, now 65, says Nelson told him not to tell anybody.

For all the talk of staying out of Willie Nelson’s weed, Nelson has started his own proprietary brand of marijuana, calling it “Willie’s Reserve.” You can pick it up from dispensaries in Washington, Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon.

“I’ve bought a lot of pot in my life,” Nelson told GQ. “And now I’m selling it back.”

Read the whole 2015 Chris Heath interview with Willie Nelson on GQ.com.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Vote for MISSION: MUSIC Finalist Theresa Bowman

UPDATE: THE VOTING IS NOW CLOSED AND THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON MONDAY, SEPT. 25, 2017 AT WE ARE THE MIGHTY!

Welcome to the finals for Mission: Music, where veterans from all five branches compete for a chance to perform onstage at Base*FEST powered by USAA. CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW TO VOTE every day to determine the winner!

Theresa Bowman was born in the Philippines and grew up as a Navy brat. Theresa began her music career very early. At age four she began to play piano, and by junior high, she demonstrated great vocal talent. Eventually, Theresa branched out musically and developed an interest in stringed instruments.


6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops
Theresa Bowman (US Air Force)

In high school she picked up both cello and ukulele. Fortunately, her ukulele is small enough to accompany her on deployment, so she has had the opportunity to practice and write music from anywhere. In 2008, she joined the Air Force, serving as an Air Battle Manager on the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System. She continued to perform on active duty, and has since separated from the Air Force. Theresa recorded “Your Lullaby” on Operation Encore’s first album, the first song she ever wrote and completed.

Return to the voting page and check out the other finalists!

For every vote, USAA will donate $1 (up to $10k) to Guitars for Vets, a non-profit organization that enhances lives of ailing and injured military veterans by providing them with guitars and a forum to learn how to play. Your votes help those who served rediscover their joy through the power of music!

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops
MUSIC

Jim Morrison’s dad had a hand in starting the Vietnam War

It’s fairly well known to students of pop culture and classic rock aficionados that the father of The Doors’ frontman Jim Morrison was a flag officer in the U.S. Navy. What is not as well known is that then-Captain George Stephen Morrison was the commander of U.S. Naval forces at the time of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident that gave the Johnson Administration the justification they needed to enter the Vietnam War.


After graduating with the U.S. Naval Academy’s Class of 1941, George Morrison was sent to Hawaii to join the crew of the minelayer USS Pruitt (DM 22). He was there on the fateful morning of Dec. 7 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops
The Morrison family in the mid-1950s. (Jim at the far right.) (Photo: Morrison family collection)

After several combat deployments as a surface warfare officer, Morrison went to flight school. He pinned on his Wings of Gold in 1944 and flew combat missions in the Pacific for the balance of World War II and also during the Korean War.

In August of 1964, Morrison was aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA 31) leading the U.S. Navy force stationed off the coast of Vietnam. On August 2 several North Vietnamese patrol boats attacked the USS Maddox (DD 731) during an intelligence gathering mission that put the ship at 28 miles off the coast.

The PT boats fired several torpedoes that Maddox evaded while firing back with five-inch guns. Maddox hit one of the attacking boats, while F-8 aircraft launched from the USS Ticonderoga (CVA 14) strafed the others as they fled, sinking one and heavily damaging another. Maddox emerged from the skirmish having only been hit by a single bullet.

Tensions remained high over the next days, and Morrison put his assets on high alert. Under the direction of President Johnson, he also ordered Maddox along with the USS Turner Joy (DD 951) to sail close to the North Vietnamese coast to “show the flag.”

During an evening and early morning of rough weather and heavy seas, the destroyers received radar, sonar, and radio signals that they believed signaled another attack by the North Vietnamese navy.

For some four hours the ships fired on radar targets and maneuvered vigorously amid electronic and visual reports of enemies. Despite the Navy’s claim that two attacking torpedo boats had been sunk, there was no wreckage, bodies of dead North Vietnamese sailors, or other physical evidence present at the scene of the alleged engagement.

Got a fever? Here’s the cure: How this WWI veteran became Metallica’s ‘One’

James B. Stockdale, later an admiral who was bestowed the Medal of Honor for his bravery during his time as a POW in Hanoi, was airborne in an F-8 during that time and reported seeing no enemy activity.

The details of the incident were distorted (perhaps intentionally) between Morrison and the other commanders on the scene, the Pentagon, and the White House. That night President Johnson interrupted prime time TV (a very big deal in those days) and told the American public that two U.S. Navy warships had been attacked on the high seas and he was asking Congress for support to counter the North Vietnamese aggression.

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops
Jim and his dad Radm. Morrison on the bridge of Bon Homme Richard. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

 

At the same time Morrison and his staff told Navy headquarters in Hawaii that the radar returns the destroyers had targeted were probably false returns generated by the rough seas. Headquarters relayed the information to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, but he failed to gives those details to President Johnson.

Based on Johnson’s testimony that the destroyers had suffered an unprovoked attack in international waters, Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving the president the authority to conduct military operations in Southeast Asia without a declaration of war.

According to an article by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon, the next year Johnson commented privately:  “For all I know our Navy was shooting whales out there.”

 

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops
Jim Morrison: Lizard King, Navy brat.

George Stephen Morrison went on to earn his first star at the young age of 47. Five years later he was the keynote speaker at the decommissioning ceremony for Bon Homme Richard in Washington D.C. the same day his son Jim, the rock icon, died in Paris, France at age 27 after years of drug and alcohol abuse.

The elder Morrison was an avid piano player who had always encouraged his three children to appreciate music, but he never understood the choices Jim made and was always perplexed when he went to friends’ homes and saw posters of his son on their children’s walls.

George Stephen Morrison retired from the Navy in August 1975 as a rear admiral. He died in Coronado, California in 2008.

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QUIZ: Who said it, Joseph Stalin or Bob Dylan?

Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan and Soviet political leader Joseph Stalin are famous for different reasons.


Dylan has been influential in popular music and culture for over five decades. Stalin, on the other hand, governed the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953.

Despite, their differences, when it comes to influencing people, they are both masters of poetry. We gathered some of their most famous quotes to make this quiz. Did the dictator or the folk singer say these things?

MUSIC

This is how US Presidents almost got to choose their own entrance music

A Marine Corps band first played “Hail to the Chief” for Andrew Jackson as he walked off on his way to Ohio. It earned three cheers from his adoring crowd. After President John Tyler adopted it for his 1841-1845 term in office, the tradition stuck and American Presidents have been associated with the song ever since.


But before that, they tried to choose a personal theme song. Thanks, John Tyler.

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops
Admit that you don’t know what John Tyler looks like.

George Washington almost had “Hail, Columbia” as his theme, with lyrics like “Let Washington’s great name ring through the world to loud applause.” And Jefferson tried to get “Jefferson and Liberty” as his theme song, with lyrics like “But join with heart and soul and voice, for Jefferson and Liberty!”

Some Presidents had special songs written for their campaigns that would have worked as an entrance theme, like Warren Harding’s “Harding, You’re the Man For Us,” Richard Nixon’s “Nixon Now,” Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can,” and the ill-advised “Get On the Raft With Taft.”

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops
He’s fat. That’s the joke.

In the January-February 2017 issue of Smithsonian Magazine, Abigail Tucker detailed the history of the song and how it came to be played for the President of the United States. In the early days of our nation, the general population wasn’t too fond of the British. So when a theatrical version of the 1810 poem “Lady of the Lake” premiered in Philadelphia, it really caught on.

The show was an epic historical story about the life of an anti-British elite who is destined for greatness but whose life is tragically cut short by a power hungry villain. The stage show was a musical production that American audience immediately fell in love with and soon the whole country was raving about the show and its songs. So it was basically the “Hamilton” of the 1800s.

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops
Which sucks for the real Alexander Hamilton. You’d think he’d at least be considered, but Lin Manuel-Miranda is *so* talented.

After the War of 1812, anti-British sentiment was still riding high and even though “Lady of the Lake” was about an anti-British Scotsman it hardly mattered to Americans. He was an awesome character and that was enough. The lyrics were changed a number of times, however. Poetic olive trees eventually replaced Scottish pines and the hero of the song stopped murdering British people.

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops
I bet May dies fighting

Eventually, people completely forgot the official lyrics of the song.

Today the Defense Department mandates that “Hail to the Chief” only be played by the Marine Corps band in B-flat major and only for a sitting President in a “stately context” and at Presidential funerals.

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