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Dedicated to our fallen heroes and all past and present servicemembers, who unselfishly have given their lives and continue to put themselves in Harms Way.

Ralph W. Ashland, with his war bride, Jacqueline, bringing nations together.

This site is dedicated to Ralph Waldo Ashland, 01.12.22 - 15.09.84, a WWII Veteran, who landed on the beaches of Normandy on D Day, June 6th, 1944 and stayed in the European Theater until his death, dedicating his life to the preservation of freedom and democracy.  Whether by his role in the de-nazification of Germany or helping to rebuild Europe, his legacy lives on and is not forgotten.

President, Senate Recognize National Veterans Awareness Week

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov.  2006 – President Bush officially declared this week National Veterans Awareness Week and urged all Americans to honor veterans who “stepped forward when America needed them most.”

As the president proclaimed a weeklong tribute to the nation’s 25 million veterans, the U.S. Senate issued a resolution encouraging Americans to commemorate it by teaching young people about the contributions veterans have made through the country’s history.

Bush issued a proclamation paying tribute to “America’s men and women in uniform (who) have defeated tyrants, liberated continents and set a standard of courage and idealism for the entire world.”

Military members have protected the United States through its history, he said, placing the country’s security before their own lives in a way the country can never repay. “Our veterans represent the best of America, and they deserve the best America can give them,” he said.

The president urged Americans to pause this Veterans Day to honor it’s the country’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen and to remember that defending freedom involves “great loss and sacrifice.”

“This Veterans Day, we give thanks to those who have served freedom’s cause,” he said. “We salute the members of our armed forces who are confronting our adversaries abroad.”

The president paid special tribute to “the men and women who left America’s shores but did not live to be thanked as veterans.”

“They will always be remembered by our country,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Senate resolution designating this week National Veterans Awareness Week emphasizes the need to develop educational programs regarding veterans’ contributions to the country.

Senate Resolution 507 recognizes the tens of millions of Americans who have served in the armed forces during the past century and the hundreds of thousands who have given their lives in that service.

It notes that the all-volunteer force has resulted in “sharp decline” in the number of Americans personally connected to the military and, as a result, the decrease in young people’s awareness about “the nature and importance of the accomplishments of those who have served in the armed forces.”

Recognizing that the system of civilian control of the military “makes it essential that future leaders … understand the history of military action and the contributions and sacrifices of those who conduct such actions,” the Senate resolution encourages Veterans Day activities that focus on related educational programs.

Veterans Day School Kits for teachers as well as students are posted on the VA Web site to support those programs.

Related Sites:
President Bush’s Veterans Day Proclamation
Senate National Veterans Awareness Week Proclamation
Veterans Day School Kits

The War That Didn't End All Wars

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov.  2005 They called it "The Great War," and it was a titanic struggle that decimated Europe and killed the young men who were the brightest hope of that generation.

President Woodrow Wilson called it "The War to End All Wars," but he was sadly mistaken. When another conflict erupted 20 years later, "The Great War" became simply World War I.

The war began in 1914 over "some damn foolish thing in the Balkans," as German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck prophesied. A Serb nationalist stepped from a crowd in Sarajevo and shot the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, killing both.

Within weeks, the European continent was split into two camps, with Germany and Austria facing off against France, Russia and Great Britain. Millions of men fought on the Western and Eastern Fronts. All the combatants expected to make quick work of their enemies, but then all aspects of national power came to the defense of the nations, and the war quickly evolved into a stalemate.

Both fronts became killing machines, as generals and admirals, unused to the destructive power of the technologies they unleashed, still ordered attacks using the old rules of warfare. At the Battle of the Somme in 1916, 60,000 British soldiers were killed or wounded on just the first day. The Battle of Verdun -- February to December 1916 -- cost both German and French forces almost 800,000 casualties.

On the Atlantic, German submarines came close to strangling Great Britain as the tonnage of Allied shipping sunk rose.

The United States remained neutral through the war's first years. Wilson was re-elected president in 1916 with the slogan "He kept us out of war." But in 1917, Germany instituted unrestricted submarine warfare, and the U.S. Congress declared war.

The first American troops journeyed to France in June 1917. Following a parade through Paris, Army Col. Charles E. Stanton said: "Lafayette, we are here," a phrase that gave heart to the Allies.

Army Gen. John J. Pershing commanded the American Expeditionary Force. His mission was to join the fight, but only as an American Army under American commanders. The allies wanted American units piecemeal as replacements for their own decimated forces. Adding to this pressure was revolution in Russia and its pullout from the alliance.

German and Austrian forces could concentrate on the Western Front, and in a gamble that almost paid off, German forces attacked toward Paris before the Americans' strength could be mustered.

French and British leaders asked for American units to stop the Germans. The 1st Infantry Division at Cantigny; the 2nd Infantry Division, which included the 4th Marine Brigade, at Belleau Wood; and the 3rd Infantry Division becoming known as the "Rock of the Marne" showed that Americans were up for the fight. Some 60,000 American soldiers and Marines had saved Paris.

From May until the armistice in November 1918, more than 50,000 Americans died in battle. More died of illnesses. At the war's end -- at "the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" -- about 113,000 Americans had paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Reporting the war was old-fashioned, anything but dull

By Mary Bishop
The Roanoke Times

Bob Slaughter personal account of D. Day..

I was really keyed up and so were my buddies, and we went around. I know I took my General Eisenhower message that was issued to all of us, and I got autographs of all my buddies and everybody I could get to autograph it.

 As our teams were called, we assembled on the landing craft and were lowered into the water, and it was tremendously rough and the spray from the sea was cold, and it came over the sides of the landing craft and nearly everybody got soaked. We were taking water from the rough sea over the bow, and we were bailing to try to keep afloat. Some of the landing craft sank before they got in because of the rough sea. In fact, we picked up some of our buddies who had floundered eight or nine miles from shore, and we had taken them on as extra cargo; and some that we should have picked up or would have liked to have picked, we left because we didn't have room. We hoped somebody else would.

 It was a terrible ride to the beach. Over to our right, the battleship Texas was firing into the cliffs, and every time that big fourteen inch gun went off, a tremendous tsunami swamped our boat, and the water would come over the side and just soak us and make our seasickness worse.

Reporting the war was old-fashioned, anything but dull

By Mary Bishop
The Roanoke Times
June 6, 1999

For decades, he was silent. Then nagging memories of D-Day stirred him to push for a national memorial to honor the soldiers, his buddies, who went through that awful morning, 55 years ago today. Now this once unknown working Joe from Roanoke may be the best-known D-Day veteran in America. This is the story of his unlikely transformation.

Bob Slaughter took off his uniform in July 1945, just as soon as he got back from the war.

He had left Roanoke a 16-year-old boy. He came home a shaken man of 20, and had gone to work as a printer's composing room apprentice at The Roanoke World-News. One day, he walked downtown for a haircut. "Tell me something," the barber asked as Slaughter settled his sprawling 6-foot 5-inch frame into the chair in the basement of the Colonial American National Bank Building. "How come a big, strapping young man like you is not in the Army?"

"Well, I just got out," he told him. The barber didn't listen and rattled on about all his son had been doing in World War II. Slaughter let it go.

He didn't say: I was in D-Day.

Other people looked at his civvies and also assumed he hadn't gone to war.

They made cracks about how he must be unfit for service.

Most times, he let it go.

At home, he was distant and sullen. He didn't leave his parents' house much at first. Then he'd disappear for days. And his younger brothers and sister would look at each other, puzzled, when thunder cracked and he jumped, like he was ready to jump for cover. He didn't tell them it sounded like the Germans' 88mm cannons. He didn't talk about the war at all.

At least he still had his buddies from D Company. He spent nights with them in beer joints and dance halls, and that was good.

And it wasn't so good.

Like veterans throughout history, nobody had prepared him for life after war. He drank too much. Worse, he watched some of his buddies drinking themselves to death. He fought all the time. After being trained for aggression for so long, he was still itching for it - his buried anger flying out in his fists as if they were saying: I was in D-Day.

Before the war, Bob Slaughter had been impatient for manhood.

At 15, he stood over his father at the dining room table and begged him to sign papers so Slaughter could join the Virginia National Guard. By 16, he was in basic training after his heavy-weapons company and other Virginia guard outfits were called up for federal service. Then late in 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and World War II began.

Slaughter guarded Maryland's Eastern Shore and helped Marines practice landings at Virginia Beach.

He watched the Statue of Liberty fade in the distance aboard the Queen Mary, the ocean liner converted to troop transport. Porpoises followed; a whale rolled in the smooth water. Near Scotland, the ship accidentally sliced an Allied warship in two and killed 332 British sailors.

In England, he pulled 37-mile speed marches and practiced assaults on cliff-backed beaches. Month after month.

His 17th, 18th and 19th birthdays came and went.

On D-Day, he was in the third wave of troops to hit Omaha Beach on the French coast of Normandy. He was a squad leader in Company D of the 116th Infantry of the 29th Division, a participant in the biggest coastal invasion in the history of the world, the one that began to put Hitler out of business.

Germany artillery blasted in Slaughter's ears. The smell of explosive cordite burned his nostrils. American naval guns boomed, and fighter-bombers darted overhead. His landing craft's ramp slammed furiously in the stormy English Channel, killing one of the first men off the boat.

Dead and wounded men were everywhere as he leaped into the water. Men screamed as 60-pound loads of gear pulled them, drowning, under water. Some clung to Slaughter and nearly dragged him down until he inflated his Mae West life vest and swam hard for the beach. The water was red with blood.

He saw a GI shot as he crossed the beach; the medic who came to help was also shot. They lay screaming side by side, then fell silent.

Slaughter had stripped the plastic casing off his rifle and wet sand jammed the firing mechanism. He ran low across the beach aware, he wrote later, that to the Germans his big frame presented a "naked morsel on a giant sandy platter." He stumbled in a tidal pool, accidentally firing his gun and almost shooting himself in the foot.

By the end of the day, 790 men from Virginia were dead. Eighteen died from Roanoke. Twenty-three from Bedford.

But somehow Slaughter had made it.

For the next 11 months, he fought on through the Normandy hedgerows, liberating French towns from the Nazis. He was wounded twice - a forehead grazing so bloody he was sure he was dying, and a shot above his right kidney. Both times, he got patched up and made his way back to the front. He and D Company pushed into Germany. By the spring of 1945, the war in Europe was over.

Bob Slaughter came home the middle of July.

Life goes on

As the drinking and fighting filled his nights, word got around: Don't fool with Bob Slaughter. Then he began dating Margaret Leftwich, a young Roanoke bank teller he met in Virginia Beach. They married in 1947, and the marriage civilized him. He finished high school at night, and later earned an associate's degree from Virginia Western Community College. He lost touch with his war buddies and quit the beer joints.

He labored hard at the newspaper and rose to composing room foreman. He raised two sons, coached Little League, made furniture in his woodworking shop and mowed the grass. And for 30 years, except to other veterans, he rarely mentioned the war. His wife knew little of what he'd been through. His sons learned even less.

Occasionally he would wander from the newspaper's backshop into the newsroom and suggest a story about D-Day. He asked for one in 1979, the 35th anniversary, but there was no story that year.

It was beginning to bug him that people knew so little about the invasion. He'd meet college-educated people in their 30s who hadn't heard of it, who didn't understand.

The D Company guys started getting together for reunions in 1982. Their talk sharpened Slaughter's war memories.

He began to collect other veterans' accounts of D-Day. They'd send him bits and pieces of their lives, yellowed clippings, tattered ribbons.

In 1984, a bunch of them went to Washington, D.C., for a ceremony on D-Day's 40th anniversary. Former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger spoke, and bands played. It was the first major tribute to D-Day. Slaughter came home pleased. He didn't expect there to ever be much more than that.

The march begins

Bob Slaughter retired from the newspaper in 1987. One warm afternoon he sat on his patio on Kirkwood Drive Southwest with Steve Stinson, a young co-worker he'd befriended at the newspaper. Slaughter, then 62, wanted to take his wife to Europe; Stinson had been there.

Slaughter mentioned that, well, he had been to Europe before, too. He'd been in the war. He'd been in D-Day.

Stinson listened a while and said there ought to be a D-Day memorial.

The idea got old soldier Slaughter on his feet again.

Yes, there should be a memorial. At least a statue. He got to work.

Late in 1987, a newspaper columnist proposed a memorial, and Slaughter, Stinson and two veterans, Col. Norman Elmore and Lt. Col. Milton Aliff, formed a committee.

With his $1.50 pasteboard briefcase jammed with D-Day information, Slaughter won the support of other Roanoke Valley men - Circuit Judge Jack Coulter, Navy Cmdr. William Bagbey, artist John Will Creasy, former newspaper editorial writer Bob Fishburn and Gen. William Rosson.

With each meeting, Slaughter felt he had moved ahead. The men formed a D-Day foundation and were talking about where a memorial ought to be, what it ought to look like.

The naysayers, oddly enough, were D-Day veterans, especially ones who still couldn't talk about it. They told Slaughter to forget about a memorial. To which he'd respond: "You're going to let these guys down who're lying over there in graves? They were our buddies!"

An obsession

In a corner of his bedroom, Slaughter set up an IBM Selectric typewriter, a retirement gift from the newspaper. He began to write his memories of the war. On the wall was his framed, worn copy of the June 6, 1944, orders of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the D-Day commander. Slaughter had gotten his buddies to sign it, and he carried it in his wallet through the war. The inked signatures were fading and the lines where he folded the paper many times crisscrossed the page, but Eisenhower's words were still there to spur him on: "You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade ..."

Slaughter would mentally put his uniform back on. He'd place himself in the landing craft and ride it all the way in to Omaha Beach. He gave himself permission to remember everything, to feel everything that he had packed away in his consciousness.

He was kicking in his sleep, flinging his arms, running, jumping - reliving it. A flailing man of his size can be dangerous. Margaret Slaughter moved to another room to sleep.

The newspaper began to pay attention. Two days before D-Day's 45th anniversary in 1989, The Roanoke Times & World-News published excerpts from Slaughter's memoirs. I was in D-Day , he finally said.

Ups and downs

Around that time, the D-Day foundation proposed that the memorial be built on Mill Mountain in Roanoke. The mountain park's prominence and its closeness to the Blue Ridge Parkway seemed to make it the perfect place. Slaughter was encouraged.

City government didn't go for the idea. Some leaders thought construction would harm the mountain. Others said the memorial clashed with other plans.

Roanoke seemed as disrespectful as it had when he came back from the war.

"A lot of good Roanoke boys went over there and got themselves killed, and in a few years they were just completely forgotten," he said. "That just wasn't fair. It hurt me, and it made me mad."

By 1994, he was even more discouraged. All the city offered was a speck of land near the Hotel Roanoke. Maybe his committee should concede defeat.

But as in the ups and downs of D-Day, the axis soon shifted.

In the spring of 1994, a few weeks before the 50th anniversary of D-Day, Ken Ringle, a writer for The Washington Post, was looking for a D-Day veteran to profile. He read about Slaughter in a collection of D-Day oral histories.

Ringle's profile on the front of the Post's Style section told the story of an ordinary working Joe with vivid and humble memories of one of the worst battles in history. Other stories followed in Newsweek, People, on television. The White House asked Slaughter to walk Omaha Beach with President Clinton on the anniversary.

It was Slaughter's proudest moment. On the beach, he remembered, Clinton held on to him as he poured sand out of his shoes. And as he described D-Day to Clinton and pointed out where the troops landed, Slaughter could hear the photographers off in the bushes: Click, click, click, click.

The breakthrough

When he returned home, his front lawn was full of neighbors welcoming himback.

Roanoke - and the world - finally was getting the picture.

But the best news was that Margaret Slaughter, who had stayed home, had a long list of people who wanted to talk with her husband about the memorial. He thought then that he'd turned a corner. In 1994, Bedford offered a stunning hilltop with a view of the Peaks of Otter. In 1996, the National D-Day Memorial Foundation took what Slaughter believed was its most important step: It hired an executive director, Richard Burrow, formerly a chief planner of Explore Park in Roanoke County.

Plans were announced for a $12 million memorial and education center. Ground was broken. And "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schulz donated $1 million, bringing the total raised to $8 million.

Slaughter also won an ally in Stephen Ambrose, Eisenhower biographer and president of the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans, set to open in 2000. Ambrose wrote about Slaughter in his best-selling 1994 book "D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II." The two men became friends, and Ambrose agreed to help raise money for the memorial. Ambrose made an appeal for the memorial and his own museum before the National Press Club.

Director Steven Spielberg studied the Ambrose book for his Oscar-winning D-Day movie "Saving Private Ryan." Bob and Margaret Slaughter attended the Hollywood premiere last year and met Spielberg, Tom Hanks and other stars.

Mr. D-Day

Today, Slaughter is more famous than ever. He's been interviewed more this spring than he was for the 50th anniversary.

Some other D-Day veterans think he has a big ego. Some envy him.

Many veterans, however, say Slaughter deserves the attention and that he's doing it for the memorial, not for himself.

Widows, sisters and children of men who died on D-Day call to thank him. They're still sending him shoeboxes of old photos and medals of their loved ones. All of it will find a place in the memorial's education center.

Last week, Slaughter received a package from the daughter of old D Company buddy Vic Crimone, who died not long ago. She sent medals, pictures and his newspaper articles about other veterans. Slaughter looked at the snapshots of them as GIs. "How young we were," he said, "how happy. It just tears me up."

"Nobody ever asked him about D-Day," he said of Crimone. "He spent his life obscurely. Vic had five or six kids and sent them all to college. He was just a good man."

It's guys like Crimone, Slaughter says, the memorial will honor. He wishes Crimone could have seen it.

A thousand World War II veterans die every day. Slaughter wants that
memorial built.

"I don't like to get my name in the paper," Slaughter said. "I don't like to have my picture in the paper. Most of the time it's pretty ugly. But I know what it takes to get the job done."

Tired warrior

There are high costs to being Mr. D-Day.

Slaughter is tired. At 74, he rarely turns down an interview or an invitation to speak. Exposure helps the memorial.

"I think I'm doing a terrible job," Slaughter told a reporter one morning after a run of interviews with the Washington Post , CBS and the History Channel. "I'd love to do a good job with you. It just seems like I'm leaving out a lot of good stuff. I'm tired of talking about it."

He doesn't take vacations. Important calls may come.

His phone rings all day. His fax machine, in his bedroom office, sometimes whirs away at 3 a.m. with a British D-Day veteran's reminiscences.

Slaughter has trouble sleeping anyhow, especially around the D-Day anniversary when he's talking about it a lot. He still fights in his sleep.

His back hurts from typing thank-you notes. As memorial foundation chairman - a position he finally accepted recently - he thanks people for every donation, however small.

He often works 40 hours a week and doesn't earn a dime. Postage, computer, fax, pencils, paper, long-distance phone calls - he pays for all that he needs in his job as chairman. Burrow, the director, says in the three years he's been in the job, Slaughter's asked for reimbursement for less than $50 in expenses.

Slaughter is pained when he talks about his family. He still can't talk with his sons, Bob Jr. and Hunter, about the war. He can talk more openly with strangers in the news media. He doesn't know why. He says he was hard on them when they were boys. He should have been a better dad. His face sags when he says his sons talk more with their mother about his wartime experiences than they do to him.

He has no time for hobbies. The seasoned walnut and cherry he collected for woodworking draw dust in his basement shop. He used to fish. Catching a big fish seemed like the most important thing in the world years ago. "I don't feel that way anymore," he said. "I think that fish deserves to live out his life, just like I want to live out mine."

Writing and history interest him more now.

And the D-Day memorial.

Comparing the memorial's progress to his battle route in World War II, he says the memorial is about as far along as Germany's Roer River, about the end of the war.

In France today, veterans will hold their annual D-Day service at Omaha
Beach American Cemetery.

A few words will honor the men who died, and someone will play taps.

Three men were selected to lay the D-Day wreath.

There will be a Medal of Honor winner from California, and a former Army chief of staff.

And there will be a long, tall staff sergeant from Roanoke named Bob Slaughter.

The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic, mutual-help, war-time veterans organization. A community-service organization which now numbers nearly 3 million members -- men and women -- in nearly 15,000 American Legion Posts worldwide.
The American Retirees Association (ARA) is comprised of active, reserve and retired members of the Uniformed Services, male and female, across the United States. It was founded in 1984 for the exclusive purpose of addressing inequities in the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA), Public Law 97-252 (Title 10 USC 1408).
"The decoration known as the Purple Heart (authorized to be awarded pursuant to Executive Order 11016) may only be awarded to a person who is a member of the armed forces at the time the person is killed or wounded under circumstances otherwise qualifying that person for award of the Purple Heart.".

Retiree Enlisted Organization
As TREA grows in membership and stature, our voices grow louder in Washington, DC. The larger our numbers, the more we can accomplish in safeguarding the promised benefits we earned while serving our country.




Veterans Voice

AMVETS was born in the midst of war, for it was in August 1943, with victory still two years away, that a new organization, later to be known as American Veterans of World War II, had its beginning.

Disabled American Veterans
Formed in 1920 and chartered by Congress in 1932, the million-member DAV is the official voice of America's service-connected disabled veterans -- a strong, insistent voice that represents all of America's 2.1 million disabled veterans, their families and survivors.

Organized in 1896 from Jewish Civil War Veterans, is the oldest active veteran association in the United States.

The Jewish W

To organize, promote and maintain for benevolent and charitable purposes an association of persons who have seen honorable service during the Korean
War at any time between June 25, 1950 and 31 January 1955, both dates inclusive, and of certain other persons, the particular qualifications for
membership set forth in the By-laws of the Korean War Veterans Association


FirstGov for Seniors

The unprecedented demand for services by this group is one of government's most pressing concerns in the new millennium.  An Internet website geared specifically toward seniors provides an outstanding opportunity to help meet those demands.

Veterans Affairs

Department of Veterans Affairs

     Missing Personnel Office  the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO). The information assembled on the following pages is to assist readers in understanding the U.S. Government effort to achieve the fullest possible accounting of our missing in action -- from all wars. U.S. military and civilian personnel are at work daily in locations across the globe, seeking information from our former enemies. The information here is the result of years of painstaking analysis and intelligence reporting. Additional case-specific information, both classified and unclassified, is available to the primary next-of-kin of our missing Americans

     Veterans Employment  Veterans Employment goal is to help all Veterans who served in obtaining suitable, long term, meaningful employment, or secure private business opportunities. Help with information and resources for benefits or services for the disabled.

     Veterans Search  Provides online search for veterans and links to top armed forces regiments.


Celebrate the Spirit of the Elbe!

     Commissioned in1995 to celebrate the end of World War II, this rare lithograph depicts the  historic meeting of the Russian and American armies at Torgau, Germany in 1945.  The painting is based on a Life Magazine photo of Lt. Alexander Silvasko and Lt. Bill Robertson. While the original painting lies in the World War II museum in Russia, rare signed lithographs are now available.  

Benefits & Pay
A complete list of DFAS yearly 
pay tables from 1949 to present.

The Personal Affairs Department staff  provides advise concerning benefits that veterans may be entitled to receive from Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).


Military Health Care
Locate a military hospital, find out about health benefits, or general health information.

     MedicareIf you are receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement or disability benefits, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. About 3 months prior to your 65th birthday or 24th month of disability, you will be sent an Initial Enrollment Package that will contain information about Medicare, a questionnaire and your red, white and blue Medicare card. If you want both Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance).


Armed Forces Recreation Center

Armed Forces Recreation Centers (AFRCs) Mission Statement: Centrally-managed, U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center-operated Armed Forces Recreation Centers (Joint Services facilities) with mission to provide rest, relaxation, recreation, and sustainment for Army personnel, their families, and other members of the total Defense Force.




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