All Weather Patriots
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All Weather Patriots
By Joe Carrannante

I believe in all weather patriots. On December 16th 1944, the WWII Battle of the Bulge began near the outskirts of Bastogne, Belgium in the Ardennes Forest. This winter battle which resulted in 81,000 Americans killed, wounded, or taken prisoner, is an example of all weather patriotism. These U.S. soldiers fought against the Germans for a little over a month in below zero temperatures and whiteout blizzards. During this time many men were equipped with warm weather gear, yet even so, their heroics became legendary. One such legend is of First Sergeant Leonard A. Funk Jr. In short, Sergeant Funk and his men moved 15 miles in a driving snow storm, attacked German positions through waist high snow drifts, killed 21 Germans, and took another 80 prisoner. Sergeant Funk was from Braddock Township, Pennsylvania.

Another version of all weather patriotism can be seen in the Invasion of Iraq. Our men and women fighting in Iraq have dealt with intense sandstorms and temperatures above 100 degrees. Their heroics are stunningly inspirational as well. On April 4th, 2003, Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith defended his unit from being overrun by insurgents. He manned a .50 caliber machine gun on a broken down Armored Personnel Carrier and proceeded to kill as many as 50 enemy combatants while many of his wounded comrades were evacuated from the area. Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith was killed in action and posthumously received the Medal of Honor. He was from El Paso, Texas.

My name is Joseph Carrannante and I am an Army ROTC Cadet. In two years I will be a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army. I train year round and in all weather conditions. I am an all weather patriot preparing to follow in the footsteps of the soldiers before me. Obviously there is no training that will prepare me for actual combat, but training in different weather conditions will help me overcome any environmental obstacles I might encounter. In early January with blowing snow and zero degree temperatures I have had to take physical training tests. This includes stripping down to a t-shirt and shorts and performing as many sit-ups and push-ups as possible in two minutes then run two miles as fast as I can. In mid July with 100 degree temperatures I have had to practice my marksmanship with sweat pouring down my face. After shooting, I had to clean my weapon and store it for another day. These training events and others like it are essential to my ability to function as a soldier in all weather conditions.

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The stories from the past serve as my guide and inspire me to train harder and longer. Soon I will be leading soldiers into combat. The weather and temperature won’t matter. If I should find myself fighting in the sub-zero and snowing conditions of the Afghan mountains, I will think of First Sergeant Funk bounding through waist deep snow in the Ardennes Forest. If I should find myself fighting in a 100 degree sandstorm in Iraq, I will think of Sergeant First Class Smith climbing on top of an Armored Personnel Carrier and defending his fellow soldiers. I will think to myself, “If these guys could do it, so can I.” They will serve as my inspiration and motivation to keep my soldiers alive and lead them to success. I believe in the all weather patriots of the past, and I intend to continue the tradition into the future.