Pinned down…

by blistering machine gun fire near Quoin Loi, Vietnam, our platoon fought for their lives as I grabbed the radio to call in fire support.

Our commanding general roared overhead in his helicopter, hurling orders to units on the ground, dominating the net, making it virtually impossible for me to put through an urgent plea for artillery support.

Let me be brutally honest. In the midst of battle, combat will make one say things they would otherwise never dream of.

The general bellowed: “why doesn’t someone call in artillery support?”

If you would get off thebleeping net”, someone will, I frantically responded.

“Roger that”!

A few seconds later, artillery rounds from the good guys silenced Charlie. My radioman said: “Lieutenant, do you realized who you just yelled at?”


You can read the rest of this terrific story and learn how John, in seminary to become a priest, ended up in the Army. Simply, order our book: When Heaven Visits, dramatic accounts of military heroes from Amazon, or order a signed copy from me (Jerry Barnes, the author). Click the “contact us” button and select “purchase a signed copy” from the drop-down list in the subject line and I will send you the details. If you choose the Amazon route and provide an Amazon rating for the book, shoot me an email at and I will send you a $3.00 discount coupon for our next book, Angels on the Battlefield.

Above: Photo of John with a copy of When Heaven Visits, which includes his story.

Today is the 76th anniversary…

of D Day, when 155,000 brave young Americans joined British and Canadian brothers to free France from occupation by Hitler’s forces.
12,000 German soldiers faced them, having occupied the strategic bluffs overlooking Omaha Beach.
The Germans, prepared for D Day over 3 years. During that time, they prepared for this deadly day. Many challenges faced the Americans and their brothers in arms.
Firing almost continuously from fortified bluff positions, using tank guns, “zipper machine guns, able to fire 25 bullets per second, and thousands of mined obstacles embedded in the sand of Omaha Beach, clearly, the Germans held the strategic advantage.
Beaches along the Normandy coast, were covered with hundreds of large concrete obstacles, piles, iron boxes, large metal tri-pods, and thousands of miles of razer sharp, concertina wire strung all along the beach.
Mines were everywhere. Together, they presented a formidable obstacle of death and destruction, for the young men to overcome.
Higgins boats, shown in the first picture, brought the young men from landing ships in the English Channel to Omaha Beach.
A Higgins boat carried 35 men, each with a rifle, 70 pounds of ammunition, supplies, gear and a poncho. Many of the Higgins Boats, never made it through the obstacles to Omaha Beach. Hitler called these obstacles, his “Great Atlantic Wall”. Many young men drowned in the waters off Omaha Beach.
For the Higgins boats that made it to Omaha Beach and dropped the front ramp, a blistering stream of German bullets greeted them. ‘
Sixteen of those young heroes, hailing from Bedford, VA, never got a shot off. Many were killed on the beach, some of them cut in half by never ending machine gun fire and explosions of mines embedded in the beach. This was the largest, per capita loss for any small town in America. In 1944, Bedford had a population of 3200, and today, about 6,000. Four more “Bedford Boys” died a few hours later.
One of the stories in my second book, “Angles on the Battlefield, is entitled “Approaching Omaha Beach”. Told through the eyes and words of Marvin Young, of Roanoke, VA, who followed the Bedford brothers onto Omaha Beach.
“Angles” will publish in the fall of ’20, and contain 38 stories.
We will follow this post with a video post next week, describing some of the challenges Marvin and other brothers faced on Omaha Beach and days later. Till next time—-

Jerry Barnes, Author, “Combat Survivor Stories”

Credit to the Denver Post for the photos used here.


A flat tire…

on the lead vehicle could not have come at a more inopportune time.

 Pinned down, in the middle of a planned trap, intense enemy fire, rained on James and his buddies.  Caught in the “staged firefight trap”, James and his unit struggled to free themselves.

With the lead vehicle disabled by a flat tire, something, someone had to do something or matters would get worse, much worse!

“Can you guys cover me while I change the tire, James yelled over the radio?”

“Got your back man”, one yelled over the radio.

The friendly fire int intensified as his buddies gave precious cover for James to pull the truck to the side of the inoperable vehicle. A few minutes later, the tire was changed.  James, back in the wrecker, yelled “Let’s get outta here!”

Enemy fire suppressed, the lead vehicle pulled away and the convoy headed to the base.

I write about these heroes in our new book, “Angels on the Battlefield”.  Thirty-one stories of combat survivor heroes are told for the book, headed to a Fall ‘20 release.

Check the author web site and place your orders at



U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Samantha Beuterbaugh


When the US…

moved from the draft to an all-volunteer force, there was some fear and reservation. Wise advisors stated we will be able to fill all our needs through volunteers. Time has proven them absolutely correct.

There was no need to fret. Despite any misgivings, the military services are all filling their ranks with the cream of the crop and now have waiting lists for even most combat ranks. Why my Marine friends have transformed the idea of volunteering into a powerful motivation by implying “who will step up next and be allowed to enter the elite ranks of the toughest fighting force on the planet?”

So why do people volunteer? Is it for recognition? Inclusion in a cause for good? To give of themselves? To serve others? I imagine there are as many reasons for good people to volunteer for difficult or challenging assignments as there are reasons not to.

I think of the spirit of the volunteer whenever I go to New York and walk to the site of the World Trade Center. One morning while standing at the entrance, I could see the brave men and women of NYC Fire and Rescue companies rushing out of Engine Company No 10 and other companies nearby, some pulling their gear on as they ran headlong into an inferno of debris, fire, dust—-and death. Why did they volunteer that morning?

I am glad difficult, perceived “impossible” assignments are always out there for us to ponder. They give us reasons for striving, imagining, dreaming, and most of all, finding if we have the mustard to achieve something great with our lives. Every person I interviewed for “When Heaven Visits, dramatic accounts of military heroes” was a volunteer. Some came home scarred for life, but not, and this is the important part, NOT defeated!

Virginia Veteran Reservists Whose Stories are Featured in When Heaven Visits.


Carlos Showalter…

a great marine, who fought at the battles of Iwo Jima and Saipan led the “Flame of Freedom” ceremony for New Freedom Farm, Buchannan, VA.

New Freedom Farm, founded by Lois Dawn Fritz, Navy Veteran, is located in Buchannan, VA, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of VA. Freedom Farm serves veterans who deal with PTSD and other injuries. Other heroes at Freedom Farm are horses and other animals who have been rescued from neglect and abuse and given a new purpose in life to serve veteran heroes in their time of need.

“Rolling Thunder” sponsors New Freedom Farm”. Members of RT’s Mississippi chapter, stopped by to celebrate with Carlos, Lois and the assembled group.

Miss Virginia led the group in singing Happy Birthday” to Carlos on the occasion of his 95th birthday.

In addition to enjoying the celebration, I was privileged to present a signed copy of our recently published book “When Heaven Visits, dramatic accounts of military heroes” to the third generation of the Showalter family, Carlos’ granddaughter.

Carlos Showalter and Author Jerry Barnes at New Freedom Farm.