Live chat with with Ray Linebaugh

November 05, 2007

Our live chat with Ray Linebaugh, Vietnam veteran and former president of the Joint Veterans Council of Washington County., begins today, November 5, from noon until 1:00 pm. You may participate by emailing your questions or comments before and during the chat to or by clicking here.

Moderator: Did you enlist or were you drafted into the military? If you enlisted, what inspired you to do so?

Mr. Linebaugh: I enlisted in the air force, Dec. 1, 1959. The reason I enlisted was that I just finished 10th grade, and wasn't getting anywhere. I decided to do something productive, and joined the United States Air Force. I had two older brothers. One was in World War 2 (21 years older), and my other brother John was ten years older than I and he went into the air force during the Korean conflict.

Moderator: How many years did you serve and did you see combat?


Mr. Linebaugh: I served 20 years, 1 month, and 1 day, retiring January 1, 1981. I was in combat. I served with the First Air Commando Squadron. That was a special outfit. I was with them a year. Vietnam was cut into four areas--I served in the Mekong Delta.

Moderator: Is there a memory of those days that stands out, or an example of someone's heroism that you'll never forget?

Mr. Linebaugh: There was quite a few memories, but on March 24, 1964, I won the bronze star for valor. That was on a T-28 fighter bomber air craft that crashed coming in on enemy concentration. Whether the plan was shot down or came down from mechanical error is still not known. The aircraft went in the ground with the captain aboard. The Vietnamese airman basic was thrown through the canopy because he didn't have his restraining belts on. They lost the paperwork for my bronze star, but I received it at Dover Air Force Base. The reason I and some of my fellow airnen were decorated was that there were weapons all over the ground, some were burning, amidst possible enemy action.

Moderator: Some of the veterans of World War II, particularly those who survived the D-Day Invasion, have returned to those battlefields in their old age. Do you have any desire to see again the land where you once fought?

Mr. Linebaugh: The United States government has sent some veterans back to Vietnam since the conflict ended. I've often thought about it: If I was chosen to go, I would, just to see the difference between then and now.

I believe that anyone who served would be glad to go back on a "fact-finding" mission.

Pam: Have you ever had to use Veterans Health Care facilities in Washington County? (Or this area) Is it as bad as Walter Reed?

Mr. Linebaugh: The facilities that I've used in Washington County is the VA Outpatient Clinic on Eastern Boulevard. The majority of my health care now comes from the VA hospital in Martinsburg. The facilities that the VA operates have been clean in my experience. I've never seen anything substandard. I have a doctor there in Martinsburg who takes care of my general health, Dr. Greenspoon, who is great.

I've been to Walter Reed, and feel you are treated like a number, not a person. I am not impressed with Walter Reed. I will say one thing: WIth as many different patients and problems as they see, they do a good job. I don't see how the government can possibly shut Walter Reed down and move everyone to the Bethesda Naval Hospital. Besides the GIs, Walter Reed takes care of a vast number of public servants.

Moderator: What is the greatest difference you see between the all-volunteer military and the days when the armed forces got many of their members through the draft?

Mr. Linebaugh: The difference with the all-volunteer force that a person that signs up has no gripes coming. For the draftees, they filled a lot of slots. They were in most cases individuals who were not happy. They were in some place they didn't want to be: And that was the military.

Moderator: Should the draft be reinstated now and if your answer is "yes," why do you feel that way?

Mr. Linebaugh: I believe that the draft will need to be reinacted due to the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. I believe we'll have a shortage of troops. With everybody on an even keel for the draft, it will enhance the US government's ability to fill vacancies in the different branches of the military.

Pam: Thank you for your service and doing this live chat. For veterans who are in the hospitals for the Holidays.. what do you think they would really like.. on their wish list.. I know many non-profit organizations take gifts, go caroling, etc.. but what else can we do for them?

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