Forty-six Years Ago Today – January 10, 1970

herby crosby 1969I can’t believe it’s been 46 years ago today that my brother, Herby, left this world. A tragic casualty of war, the Vietnam war. “Life goes on,” so “they” say, yet the memories, the love remain deep-rooted, strong, if not stronger than ever in my heart.

Today I celebrate Herby. Tears of love roll gently down my face bursting when hitting the desk as I write. They glisten like crystal prisms from the light shining through the window to the right of me. Those wet sparkles somehow give me assurance that his death was not in vain. His sparkle of life touched everyone he came in contact with over his short time on this earth. He left many precious gifts to us all, and that’s what I celebrate today.

Young Army ROTC cadets have received scholarships, his comrades have become my friends, my brothers they are, and his sparkling personality, his charm is forever cemented in his family and friend’s hearts.

I was 11 years old when he joined the Army in 1966. I thought it was the most exciting, wonderful thing to be a sister of a soldier. Being so young at the time, I didn’t realize how precious every day was to have my brother around.

I so wish there would have been many precious memories made with Herby following this day in 1970, but that didn’t happen.

I strive to keep his honor, his legacy alive in any way I can. He is my passion. I am surrounded by not only his keepsakes and photos, but with colorful fabrics of those in my family who are gone, all of which give me comfort.

Herby, forever that fun-loving big brother whom I still adore, I miss you.

Remembering and honoring today, Firebird Nine One, Capt. Herbert C Crosby, and his crew, WO George “Andy” Howes, SP5 Wayne C. Allen, and SP4 Francis G. Graziosi.

firebird nine one crew drawing

Firebird 91 Crew

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National POW/MIA Day 2015

pow mia poster 2015

It’s National POW/MIA Day 2015. You see that black and white POW/MIA flag every day, even if you don’t realize it, you see this flag. It’s most likely you don’t even know a POW or MIA soldier. However, if you don’t know what the flag symbolizes or means, well, shame on you. Look it up here: http://www.pow-miafamilies.org/powmia-bracelets/

I remember the day my brother, Capt. Herbert C Crosby, U.S. Army, became a statistic, Case# [1547], and was woven into that flag. That was in 1970, January 10, the tragic day he was listed Missing in Action in Vietnam.

low-mia flagThe POW/MIA flag brings unity for a common cause throughout our country, especially with our military, veterans and their families. It’s a symbol of hope. A reminder of those who gave their ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

My family’s lives, as all families who had/have a loved one lost, left behind, changed drastically, and forever. I thank God we were a lucky family. Lucky in a way I usually don’t refer to.  I liken it to finding a needle in a haystack. That’s lucky. My brother’s remains were repatriated [1989], identified [2006] and buried in American soil in Arlington National Cemetery [2007].

I personally know two exPOWs and met many from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Their stories are shocking and atrocious.  It was an honor to meet the exPOWs and hear them share their stories in 2010 at the National Prisoner of War Museum in Andersonville, Georgia. I still believe there are men still alive in Vietnam, although I can barely grasp the pure hell they would live.

Many families are still waiting. We honor today those families, and the men and women who have not made it home. We recognize and support them, the citizens, and the government’s efforts to find and repatriate every single missing warrior.

YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:11

 

 

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POW/MIA Update – July 13, 2015

pow mia league

PROVIDED BY THE POW/MIA NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POW/MIA FAMILIES

AMERICANS ACCOUNTED FOR:  There still has been no published change to the number  unaccounted-for since the April 10th Update.  For various reasons, including wishes of the family, DoD announcements are often delayed far beyond the ID dates, and others are likely pending.  Several of those named this year were examples of how remains repatriated many years ago can now be identified using contemporary science that wasn’t available in earlier years. The number of Americans now listed by DoD as returned and identified since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is 956.  Another 63 US personnel, recovered by the US and identified before the end of the war, bring the total of US personnel accounted for from the Vietnam War to 1,019. Of the 1,627 still unaccounted-for, 90% were lost in Vietnam or in areas of Cambodia and Laos under Vietnam’s wartime control: Vietnam-1,269 (VN-467, VS-802); Laos-302; Cambodia-49; PRC territorial waters-7.  These country-specific numbers can and do fluctuate due to investigations resulting in changed locations of loss.  The League seeks the fullest possible accounting for those still missing, and repatriation of all recoverable remains.

NEW DPAA DIRECTOR NAMED & NOW MOVING FORWARD!  LTG (ret) Mike Linnington, USA, the new permanent Director, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), was named just before the League’s 46th Annual Meeting.  While always cautious to not overstate support for people named to positions of responsibility in the POW/MIA accounting mission, it is no overstatement to recognize his outstanding, varied background that is explained more fully in the upcoming League Newsletter.

Important now are the several steps he has already taken that clearly reveal he is moving energetically, though thoughtfully, to follow directives issued by former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to “completely reorganize” the POW/MIA accounting community.  While structural change is always rife with turmoil and uncertainty, as the League has experienced repeatedly, Mr. Linnington is moving out smartly.  His restructure plans dramatically move the mission forward and, importantly, adhere to Secretary Hagel’s directive to “build on the existing strengths” of the accounting community.  As a result, he is moving beyond the recommendations he received from Vice Admiral Michael Franken, USN, whose vision for DPAA related more to a concept for production of “products” than to a viable plan to pursue accounting objectives for missing US personnel and their families.

Already confirmed is that former JPAC Detachments in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos will continue to be Detachments 1, 2 and 3, respectively, reporting to the incoming Deputy Director (an active-duty Army Brigadier General) who will likely be announced next week.   The long-serving, indispensable civilian specialists in the Detachments are expected to be extended.  The small contingent of personnel deployed to support operations in Europe will also continue to be a Liaison Office, possibly reporting to a European Regional Director.  The placement in the new structure of the Joint Commission Support Directorate (JCSD) is not yet known, but has unique status within DPAA due to also supporting the work of the US-Russia Joint Commission (USRJC) on POW/MIA Affairs.

There is also a very high priority being placed on the success of the Public Private Partnership (P3) initiative, viewing the broad areas in which potential partnerships (public/private, public/public, three party, etc.) could be formed as the way in which established processes and personnel can be freed up from WWII missions to focus on Vietnam War accounting.  This initiative offers significant opportunities to expand the overall accounting effort to produce results more rapidly through applying some contractors’ efforts to archival research, investigations and recoveries that pertain mostly to WWII, the Korean War (disinterment and IDs) and Cold War.

A symposium will be held in Hawaii, immediately following the “Blessing & Dedication Ceremony) on July 27th.  This symposium will provide an opportunity for the DPAA leadership, including all Directors and Deputies, to utilize the newly improved restructure and sort out the sub-structure, moving tasks as needed, but getting to a nearly finalized structure.  I look forward to seeing that product.

Chairman’s Comment:  Mike Linnington knows he has a very challenging road ahead to earn the trust of a dedicated and talented workforce, as well as add the kind of people he wants and can depend on to move DPAA forward.  He is moving NOW and already has learned far more than one would expect after such a very short time in the position.  He pledged at the League’s 46th Annual Meeting that he is in this for the long haul and knows it will take time, but asked for support, assistance and patience as he tackles the challenges. I’m convinced that he really IS the right guy and this IS the right time.

Right now truly IS the accounting mission’s last chance to move forward with the priority required, fully supported by State and DoD policy and resourced with funding and personnel required.  There will be NO further such opportunities, precisely the reason I’m determined to ensure that Mike Linnington gets all the support and assistance he needs from the many honest, caring and determined people working in the accounting community, and not be influenced by the self-serving, insecure people who are likely doing their best to remain in positions they should not hold.

We all should be grateful to Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Christine Wormuth for selecting a person like Mike Linnington who is self-confident, but not a  know-it-all, who isn’t afraid to be seen as learning, which he is doing in spades.  Yes, he has much to learn, and many self-serving people still surround him, so dangers persist, but many are trying in every possible way to help him gain solid, objective insights.

Finally, I attended LTG Linnington’s retirement on June 17th and had talked with him many times in his advisory role to Under Secretary Wormuth, VADM Franken and Maj Gen Kelly McKeague relating to the “complete reorganization” of the entire community.  As a result, I can attest to the esteem in which he is held by a broad cross-section of military and civilian personnel.  From the lowest level to those at the top, all seem to genuinely like and admire him.  Mr. Linnington was sworn in on Monday, June 22nd, as the civilian Senior Executive Service Level 3 Director of DPAA.  It is my hope, prayer and expectation that he will work to achieve the objectives we share, and do so with honor, integrity, humility, dedication, energy and determination.  That is all we can ask.  All we should expect is his very best effort, and we do, but he will also need our full support and that of all POW/MIA-related personnel, especially the demoralized former JPAC, DPMO and LSEL personnel now in DPAA.

Therefore, we, the Vietnam War families and our many concerned Veteran organizations, individual veterans and civilian supporters, ask all dedicated accounting community personnel – especially the experienced civilian core – to set aside the justifiable frustrations and obstacles you have endured for far too many years and focus on what is possible with our new DPAA Director.  I honestly believe DPAA truly can become the central accounting focus we all have sorely missed since 1992 – a cohesive, interagency US Government priority that will, with the support of all, achieve the fullest possible accounting. This longstanding, entirely reasonable League objective is defined as 1) the missing man returned alive; or 2) his remains recovered and identified; or 3) convincing evidence as to why neither is possible, in which case he will remain forever as unrecovered, but all information will be provided to the next-of-kin who will then have the certainty of knowing the US Government did its very best to bring him home to his family and our Nation.

46TH ANNUAL MEETING:  The June 24-27th meeting was the largest, most comprehensive and compelling annual meeting in years. The Hilton sold out, responses from senior leaders were positive, and official animosity toward the League seems to have disappeared in favor of a partnership not seen since 1992.  A full report will be in the upcoming League Newsletter.

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Remembering Herby on his Birthday

herby crosby 1969

Remembering Herby, my brother on what would have been his 68th birthday.

There are only a certain amount of photos I have of my brother. He’s been gone since 1970. He was 22 years old when his helicopter was lost over South Vietnam. The helicopter was never found, although, thankfully, his remains were. A long process that took 37 years to identify.

This particular photo could  easily have been one of the last photos taken of him. I say this because, well, with limited amount of photos, this one has clues to it’s age. The Firebird patch is sewn on the green fatigue shirt which indicates he was a Firebird (call name for gunship pilots) at this time so that would have been during the later half of his tour of duty in Vietnam (1969).

He looks a bit more mature than earlier photos of him in Vietnam. I think going to war would age anyone. The blue and white striped shirt that he’s wearing he also wore while on R&R in Hawaii, which was November 1969. I have photos of him in Hawaii wearing that same shirt. He looks happy and has that Herby Crosby smile on his face. I’m guessing this photo was most likely taken after his return from Hawaii.

Why? He looks relaxed. He’s happy in love.  He has that sly look of a man recently married (he married his girlfriend while on R&R in Hawaii, November 1969). I’m only guessing here, but I believe this photo was taken shortly before his death (January 1970). It most assuredly is one of the last photos taken of him.

It’s one of my favorite because of his smile.

I have limited photos of him because of his limited life. Yet, limited is hardly the word I’d use to describe his short time on this earth. He was blessed with good parents, a hardworking loving family, many friends, and adventures any kid would love to have growing up.

Herby had plenty of rewards during his life, but he also endured accidents and illness that almost killed him in earlier years. He was no saint. He was the American kid growing up in the 50 and 60s. He followed his heart to serve God and country, beginning as a boy scout excelling to Eagle Scout, then from Army Private to Army Captain in one of the most feared helicopter gunship companies in Vietnam, the 71st Assault Helicopter Company at Chu Lai.

I can only imagine how his life would have been had he survived Vietnam and returned home alive. He didn’t come home like I had hoped though, liked we all hoped. Yet, I thank the Divine Creator every day for bringing what remains were left of him home.

I cherish the limited photos of my brother. I look at them often. Precious memories. Remembering Herby on this his birthday. Love that smile.

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The End of Our Memorial Day Tradition

the last bouquet may 2014

A  Memorial Day tradition began in my family in 1970. It was a tradition to never forget our loved one, my brother, Capt. Herbert C. Crosby (Herby), who was listed Missing in Action (MIA) in Vietnam January 10, 1970.

Since Herby was born on traditional Memorial Day, we thought it fitting to honor him with a simple, yet elegant red, white and blue flower arrangement adorned with American flags that would be placed in our local church annually for the Sunday services on Memorial Day weekend.

It was our symbol to the community of faith, courage, and hope. We lived in a small town in south Georgia. Everyone knew everyone, so everyone knew of Herby.

After 44 years this tradition has come to an end. It’s purpose was accomplished, the community never forgot and our faith and hope remained strong all those years. I remember so many times sitting in church looking so deep into those flowers, lost in thought of Herby. The flowers would brightened my heart because I knew they were for him.

The end of our Memorial Day tradition is explained below in my reply to the email sent me from the church secretary inquiring about this year’s [2015] flowers.

My apologies for not getting back with you sooner. Last year while in Donalsonville for mom’s memorial service I stopped by Flower’s By Will to chat, take care of business and to thank Will for the many years he made not only the flower arrangement, but for his caring by taking those flowers to the Vietnam Memorial at the Courthouse for the Memorial Day ceremonies.

Sadly, I let him know I wouldn’t be ordering the flowers for the church each Memorial Day anymore. It was probably the hardest decision I had to make at that time.

I thought I had also sent a message to you but obviously I did not. I more likely thought that I would change my mind when I heard from you this year.

When your email did arrive last week, I became stuck in the mud and just stared at your message. I so much want to place the flowers, yet know I can’t continue to do this. This is truly one of the hardest decisions because I feel I’m letting Mom, Dad, and Herby down by not keeping their memory alive on this so very special day for our family, Memorial Day. You know Herby was born on (traditional) Memorial Day (1947). Dad died on (observed) Memorial Day (1991). So needless to say, this holiday is very dear to me.

Mom and Dad started placing the flowers on this particular Sunday because of Herby’s loss in 1970. They were determined to place them until Herby came home so people would remember, never forget him. Little did we know it would be 37 years later that he would come home, not as we hoped but in six teeth, two bone shards, and a dog tag. Yet, he came home.

Our prayers were answered, again not in the way we hoped, but they were answered and I thank God for that every day. Our family was one of the lucky ones. We were blessed.

We kept the flower tradition going even after Herby’s return home, yet now after 44 years and Mom’s death last year, it’s time to let someone else have the honor to place flowers on this very special day.

I do wish I could keep the flowers tradition.  I write this with tears in my eyes and ache in my heart.
God’s Blessings, Marylou

None of our family now lives in Donalsonville, yet our lives were molded into the depth and breath of this lovely small town, our home in our hearts. We have friends there who are as close, if not closer than family.

I pray the church, and the community never forgets not only the sacrifice of my brother, but all the Vietnam casualties from Seminole County.

The end of our Memorial Day tradition allows a new tradition for someone else. I know in my heart that my dad, mom and brother are loved and will never be forgotten. I decorate their spirits and their graves every day in my heart, and that’s what matters. I also have a beautiful red, white and blue flower arrangement adorned with American flags that is displayed every day in my home, in his and my father’s memory.

A little sidebar note: My father insisted that the announcement of flowers in church bulletin always used the term “in honor of Capt. Herbert C Crosby” instead of “in memory of…” because we had no conclusive evidence of his death. He was missing. We were not going to give up hope he would come home.

Until which time we had proof, Herby would be honored, and that was that. The announcement held those 37 years until after his remains were positively identified in 2006, at which time it was changed to “in memory of…”.

“The flowers are placed this Sunday in honor of Capt. Herbert C Crosby by Herb and Jane Crosby.”

Amen.

herby arlington grave 2014

 

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2015 Crosby Army ROTC Scholarship Recipient

Marylou with Julia

One of the best days of the year is when I’m among the Army ROTC Eagle Battalion cadets at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Determined. Respectful. Intelligent. Achievers. Gracious. These are just a few words that describe these men and women who are achieving excellence in their lives through the Army.

It gives me great pleasure to present the 2015 Crosby Army ROTC Scholarship each year to one of these fine soldiers. The 2015 Crosby Army ROTC Scholarship awards money to the recipient who has a financial need upon their commission to duty.

Cadet Julia Frassetto is this year’s recipient. Julia is a fine young woman who has devoted herself to serving our country while furthering her education. Reading her bio will certainly tell what an achiever she is.

Read the rest of the story here…

Visit the Eagle Battalion Facebook page for more photos…

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Wreaths Across America 2014

Capt Crosby grave markerI can’t physically be there today, Saturday, December 13, 2014, but I can in spirit.

It is the same process every year. It is one of the most emotional experiences I have ever done. It brings such satisfaction, such love, and many tears of memories.

The volunteers grow every year. More wreaths are sponsored every year. The cemetery wreath coverage grows every year too! It’s overwhelmingly beautiful in so many ways. The people I have met there are special friends.

The latest graves with young families weeping and remembering their loved ones is heart wrenching. Yet, it is the most gratifying experience. Volunteer next year. You can do this at any local participating veteran’s cemetery. Contact Wreaths Across America for information.

Below is a link to a video I made of the 2010 event at Arlington National Cemetery. I feel as if I am there every time I watch this. I feel the cold, wet grown, the excitement, the anticipation of the people. The smell of the trees. One can almost hear the dead come alive this day as their graves are decorated for Christmas. It’s so real.

http://youtu.be/yQw6cH1kXGk

Merry Christmas Herby.

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Rattler Firebird Reunion 2014

IMG_1259I just returned from the 2014 reunion of Vietnam’s finest, the Rattlers and Firebirds of the 501st Aviation Battalion and 71st Assault Helicopter Company. This year’s reunion was in Fort Worth, Texas.

It’s always great to visit, in person with my brother’s comrades, who are now my friends. This great group of Firebirds here have taken me under their wings. Just being around them brings my brother alive again. Not that he’s that far away from my heart every day, these men, his friends and comrades, keep the memories alive.

Each reunion we lose a few more of these gentle, yet brave, courageous men. The tolls of war linger in their minds. The years of pain, mental  and physical just seem to disappear for a few days when they gather. The tales are told. The tears fall. The laughter is sweet medicine. The brotherhood is unbreakable.

This year, I had the fortune to meet up with my cousin, Ab Crosby, who was visiting his son in the Fort Worth area. Ab brought his son, and grandchildren to see the helicopters and all the memorabilia the Association brings to the reunion. It’s an awesome display. When one gets to the helicopters, they see just what Herby, Capt. Crosby, my brother and his crew were flying the day they were lost forever to this earth. It’s amazing how anyone survived the brutal combat of war.

The reunion will most likely be at the same location in 2016. Hope you can come visit these men and grasp a bit of history while there.

I have been blessed to know these fine warriors. Thank you Rattlers and Firebirds!

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Herb Crosby, Army Air Corps

herb crosby army air corps photo

Going through some old family photos earlier today I came upon this one. It is of Dad when he was in the Army Air Corps, serving in Panama, however I’m not sure what year this was taken. He served from January 10, 1941 until discharge in 1945. He reenlisted in the Air Force Reserves for a short time in 1953. This photo is most certainly from the 1944-45 circa.

Handsome young soldier. Great Dad too! Miss him dearly. He will always shine that smile on me. Can’t believe he’s been gone 23 years now.

 

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Remembering My Dad, Herb Crosby – 2/28/1920 – 5/27/1991

herb crosby boat race
(This is a repost, updated a little, from one I did two years ago.)
My father passed away this day in 1991, twenty-three years ago, yet it doesn’t seem that long, and then again, it seems like it’s been way too long. I miss him, yes.
Dad lived a great life but was too young (71) when he died. He smoked continuously though out his life from a small boy living on the family farm in Indiana. He didn’t learn to walk until he was about two years old. Once he learned though, he never stopped. He has traveled cross country jumping on freight trains, all the way to California where he worked at the Brown Derby Restaurant, busboy I think. He was not afraid to try anything and learned life the hard way. Yet, he always had fun.
He joined the Army Air Corps January 10, 1941, and served four years in the Panama. He’s said that it was pure hell living in the jungles. Ironically, his son, Capt. Herbert C. Crosby [Herby], most likely died on January 10, 1970 while serving in the Army in Vietnam. That’s the date Herby was listed as MIA when his helicopter went down never to be found again. Thankfully his remains were recovered and identified [2006], but sadly not before his father’s death in 1991.
My dad, Herb, built boats, Crosby boats, then Hydrodyne boats along with his brother Ab Crosby who started the boat factory back in the 50s near Fort Wayne, Indiana. Ab and dad would race boats too. Dare devils themselves, always having a great time. Dad was also a small plane pilot. I don’t remember this, but mom has told me that dad took me flying with him (when I was about 3 years old) to Canada to have a Coke!
Dad worked hard all his life. He lost just about everything a couple times, but he always pulled through. His final job was Administrator of a local hospital, which he held until he retired. He did whatever he could to take care of his family. He was always the rock for me. I loved my dad very much, and being the youngest wasn’t bad either. He and I had a special bond that I’ll never lose even now that he’s resting in peace.
He died Memorial Day [observed] 1991 as I lay across him hugging him in his hospital bed. He was unconscious at the time, but I know he knew it was me hugging him. The last coherent words from his mouth to me were “stop smoking” which was made over the telephone three days before he died. Being Memorial Day weekend my husband and I were preparing for our trip home to be with mom and dad for the weekend. It was Friday I believe and I called mom to see if she needed me to bring anything up for them. We talked and at the end of the conversation she asked dad, who was listening close to her if there was anything he wanted to say to me. I heard him yell out “stop smoking.” Dad was not doing well health wise, and we knew his time was coming, but not as quickly as we soon found out.
We arrived the next day to find dad in a state of shock/coma like. The doctor had come to give him a pain shot, morphine to ease his distress. The ambulance was called and he was taken to the hospital. He remained in the coma until he died on Monday, May 27, 1991, with all his family by his side.
It took me 17 years, but I finally quit smoking. Every day since dad’s death I can hear him say “stop smoking” yet I didn’t. Finally, in 2008 I knew it was time as I was ready.  I am smoke free and loving it.
But this isn’t about me, this is about my dad. When he died, I found out how much he had helped so many people in the town where we lived. He helped people in need in whatever way he could. It wasn’t always money, it was more than that. He loved people, he loved Donalsonville and the whole community. He gave his heart and soul to help anyone in need. He was a true American patriot, who made sure there was a memorial for all the soldiers of Seminole County who were lost in the Vietnam War, and the Korean War, placed at the courthouse in Donalsonville in their memory and honor. He always flew the American flag and after his son, my brother Herby was MIA, the POW/MIA flag flew right along with the American flag, 24/7. Ask anyone from Donalsonville and they will remember Mr. Herb. He was a character who enjoyed life and loved God, country and family.
I am the proud daughter of Mr. Herb, my dad. I love you dad, and I miss you.

 

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