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The Online Magazine FOR and ABOUT Southside Virginia







Nov '08 Contents

Nov '08 Cover


Discovering Southside
West Line to the Blue Ridge (Discovering series)

My Shelves Are Full
and So's My Heart

By Gert Slabach


Depot Poker Run
Event Article

Event Photo Gallery


"Treat Yourself To Art" - Photos
South of the (VA/NC) border - Art Gallery Event

The Straight Leg Infantryman
A Tribute
By Paul M. Steube



South Winds
(Joy Of The Game)

On The Funside
(Bringing the Family Closer for Halloween)
By Amy Hanek

Ask Bubba - Advice
A Bubba Thanksgiving


Editor's Page

V & B Comics
(Verrnack & Blupirk - Fun in the Fall Woods)

Festivals & Events

Past Issues

Past Issues are available from June 2008 through the current issue.
Select the desired issue from the drop-down box below.



The Straight Leg Infantryman

A Tribute

 By Paul M. Steube

   I want to tell you something that it took me fifty-three years to learn. And I was so glad that I knew it before my brother died so I could tell him.

   I was a mustang in the Navy. That's someone who starts out as an enlisted man, then later gets a commission.

   I quit high school and joined the Navy. About two years later, I was fortunate enough to be selected for the Naval Aviation Cadet, or NAVCAD, program.

   Going to Pensacola. Going to get those Navy Wings of Gold. The Holy Grail. It was a very demanding program, especially for me. But I made it. I learned to fly. I made my requisite six carrier landings aboard the USS Lexington and was commissioned an Ensign and a Naval Aviator.

   Lord, we thought we were something. Bright, shiny, new, God's gift to--well, you know the rest. We couldn't walk for strutting.

   Then, a little later, I got orders to Vietnam. The Navy's first helicopter gunship squadron. I flew 284 combat missions flying helicopter gunships off an LST. It was like dancing in the sky--hurling thunderbolts down at anybody foolish enough to reveal his position by shooting tracers at us. And they couldn't get us. We were too good, too lucky, what was that movie line? Too cute to die. And we were Oh, so young. Lord, we knew we were something.

   Then, some years later, when we were observing the 50th Anniversary of the D-Day landings, I learned about what some other people had done and still do. I realized that I did not amount to a pimple on the behind of the Noblest Man on the Field of Battle--the Straight Leg Infantryman--

   Usually not much more than a boy

   Usually given not much more than a hunting rifle

   Usually told not much more than "Go that way--and kill anything that tries to stop you."

   And Thank God he does.

   And that is why, if ever again I were in uniform, walking down a street or through an airport concourse, and I met a Private wearing a little blue enamel rectangle with a rifle superimposed on it, I wouldn't stop to explain--he would simply have to wonder the rest of his life "Why did that Navy Commander salute me?"

   (Hand salute)

   God bless you, Dogface.



Editor's Note:
This preface was in the e-mail with the tribute I was sent. It says a lot in itself, and I felt I should include it.

   I'm going to try to resurrect the tribute I told you about. I had never written it down for some time--just gave it orally at a program for local D-Day vets and for a dinner with West Point cadets and maybe somewhere else. Then I wrote it down and sent it to the local papers when I realized how quickly the WWII guys are going away from here. I guess, if life has provided me a motto, it would have to be Time Provides Perspective.











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