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Military

Honoring a local hero

I visit a few gravesites at Fort Logan National Cemetery when I go. Some people I knew, some are friends and family of people I knew. Yesterday, I stopped by and said hello to a shipmate, one you may have heard of.

Petty Officer Danny Dietz was a man that stood above others. Raised in Littleton, Colorado, he would go on to become a Navy SEAL and serve with distinction and honor. It was in the Hindu Kush of Afghanistan on June 28, 2005 that Danny’s journey would come to an end.

In a battle immortalized in the movie, Lone Survivor, he was shot in the neck and yet he kept fighting – fighting for his teammates.  He would fall back with them, leap off a precipice and continue the fight, providing covering fire until he received a fatal shot.

A truly extraordinary man, one who fought and died for something greater than himself.  My visit was humbling and shook me. I thank God for men and women like him. For his valiant action, Gunner’s Mate Second Class Dietz received the Navy Cross.

The honored resting place of Petty Officer Danny Dietz, U.S. Navy SEAL. (© Tony’s Takes)

The honored resting place of Petty Officer Danny Dietz, U.S. Navy SEAL. (© Tony’s Takes)

Remembering the real reason for the Memorial Day holiday

As I do a few times a year, I paid a visit to Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver this weekend. My father is buried there, along with thousands of others of our nation’s heroes. Brave men and women who answered the call of the nation, some in peacetime, some in war.

Today, however, is not for all of them. It is for those that made the ultimate sacrifice – a price paid out of love for country, for God and for their countrymen. Those of us left behind are charged with carrying forward and ensuring that they are never forgotten, that their sacrifices shall not have been in vain.

We would do well to remember the words of Abraham Lincoln when he said, “Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.”

Were it not for those heroes, we and our nation would not be here. Let us remember.

Honoring our nation's heroes on Memorial Day 2017.  Fort Logan National Cemetery in black and white. (© Tony’s Takes)

Honoring our nation’s heroes on Memorial Day 2017. Fort Logan National Cemetery in black and white. (© Tony’s Takes)

Something different but something that needs to be recognized

Want to make a veteran tear up? Give this to them.

That is exactly what happened to me yesterday. I discovered these in a tiny little Ziploc bag under the windshield wiper on my truck. It took me a minute to digest what it was but once I did, I couldn’t help but get tears.

Such a thoughtful gesture and one that I truly appreciate. So, my heartfelt thanks go out to Girl Scouts Troop 63979. God bless you and God bless America!

A thoughtful gift left under the windshield of my truck - Stars for Heroes. (© Tony’s Takes)

A thoughtful gift left under the windshield of my truck – Stars for Heroes. (© Tony’s Takes)

December 7th, 1941. A date which will live in infamy…

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, an event that forever changed our nation. Having served in the U.S. Navy, this day and that place have extraordinary, profound meaning to me. The thought of the horrors seen the day of that despicable and cowardly attack give rise to a variety of emotions.

I had the distinct honor of visiting there twice when I was in the service: Once in August 1995 as we took part in ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of D-Day and again in November 1996 when we returned from a deployment to the Persian Gulf.

It was on that last visit that I manned the rails of my ship and saluted the USS Arizona as we passed the watery grave of so many heroes. I distinctly remember hearing the whistle and then the command, “Hand salute,” and proudly raised my right hand to my brow as goosebumps came over me and tears welled in my eyes. A sobering moment, one that I will never forget.

I wish camera technology then (and my skill) was what it is now as the few pictures I have simply do not do it justice. The two images of the USS Arizona Memorial were taken by me on my visit in 1995. The other is a U.S. Navy photo of my ship, the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), as she passed the memorial in 1996. I am one of those figures in white manning the rails. 😉

The USS Carl Vinson passes by the USS Arizona Memorial in November 1996. (US Navy)

The USS Carl Vinson passes by the USS Arizona Memorial in November 1996. (US Navy)

The USS Arizona Memorial. Taken in August 1995. (© Tony’s Takes)

The USS Arizona Memorial. Taken in August 1995. (© Tony’s Takes)

The names of the fallen on the wall of the USS Arizona Memorial. Image taken in August 1995. (© Tony’s Takes)

The names of the fallen on the wall of the USS Arizona Memorial. Image taken in August 1995. (© Tony’s Takes)

Hold your breath: U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds opposing pass

Today one of the Thunderbirds crashed after performing at the United States Air Force Academy graduation this afternoon. Thankfully it appears the pilot is okay and the crash occurred in an open field so no other people were injured or property damaged.

In a stunning coincidence on the same afternoon,  Capt. Jeff Kuss was killed when practicing a U.S. Navy Blue Angels performance in Tennessee.

These men and women may perform for ‘entertainment’ and it may not be combat but that doesn’t make what they do any less dangerous. Pushing a supersonic combat figher aircraft to its limits has its risks, big risks.

This image was taken last year on May 31 at the Rocky Mountain Airshow in Aurora, Colorado.

The USAF Thunderbirds perform the breathtaking opposing pass in 2015.  (© Tony’s Takes)

The USAF Thunderbirds perform the breathtaking opposing pass in 2015. (© Tony’s Takes)

A seemingly endless sea of stone

A seemingly endless sea of stone. One more from my visit to Fort Logan yesterday. Each marker represents a dad, a mom, a son, a daughter… All served this nation and all worthy of honor and respect.

Fort Logan National Cemetery's headstones are decorate with flags for Memorial Day.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Fort Logan National Cemetery’s headstones are decorate with flags for Memorial Day. (© Tony’s Takes)

Heroes honored with flowers, flags and stone

I stopped by Fort Logan National Cemetery yesterday to pay my respects to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to this great nation. As always, it was a very emotional visit for me but one that I believe is required of every American. General George Patton said, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” That is a fitting statement as we are forever in their debt and acknowledging these brave men and women is the least we can do.

Flowers, flags and stone at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado on Memorial Day.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Flowers, flags and stone at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado on Memorial Day. (© Tony’s Takes)

Old Glory at sunrise

I may be old fashioned but when I see our nation’s colors flying, I can’t help but get a patriotic feeling. I think back to the places that flag has been, the things it has seen, the hope it brings to people across the world and of course the men and women who have sworn their allegiance to it and served under it.

Throw in a typically gorgeous Colorado sunrise and have that flag flying at Fort Logan National Cemetery and your heart skips a beat. My dad is interred there, as are thousands of others, and while each visit is special, moments like this one this past Saturday make it just a bit more special and poignant.

The United States flag is backlit by a beautiful sunrise at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

The United States flag is backlit by a beautiful sunrise at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Use of deadly force authorized

These unusual facilities dot the landscape across southeastern Wyoming and northeastern Colorado. It always seems a bit odd to find these silos out in the relative open. On one hand it is pretty cool to see but also a bit disconcerting when you think about what is inside and what could happen in a worst case scenario.

For every 10 silos there is one underground Launch Control Center (LCC) where two officers have primary control of the missiles. The LCC is what you oftentimes see depicted in Cold War era movies with the monstrous blast doors and the two guys that have to ‘turn the keys’ to launch.

If you ever find yourself in central South Dakota, check out Minuteman Missile National Historic Site where you can actually go down inside an inactive LCC and view a silo whose top has been removed. It is absolutely fascinating.

A Minuteman Missile silo stands guard on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Minuteman Missile silo stands guard on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)