Friday, May 16, 2014

Elegy: Bill Miltenberger, On Final Deployment

Farewell, shipmate.  The world has lost a valiant sailor, a fine leader, a solid family man, and a friend to all Veterans.  And we have all lost a friend.

In Psalm 107, at verse 23, we read:
They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end.
Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
He was, at times, friendly, gregarious, opinionated, curmudgeonly, but always, always, first in line to work for any Veteran or Veterans' rights.  He was a husband, father, and grandfather, friend, loyal shipmate, and one of the hardest working men I've ever known.  When there was a problem, he would be the first to step up.

When we could no longer work VASVW, we turned it over to Bill at his request because he believed it was work that needed to continue.   His time at the helm has run out. 

At a sailor's passing we sing the Navy Hymn, which reads:
Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep,
Its own appointed limits keep.

Oh hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea! Amen.

Eternal Father, lend Thy grace To
those with wings who fly thro' space,
Thro wind and storm, thro' sun and rain,
Oh bring them safely home again.

Oh Father, hear an humble prayer,
For those in peril in the air! Amen.

Oh Trinity of love and pow'r,
Our brethren shield in danger's hour,
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them where so e'er they go.

Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea! Amen.
Bill was a leader.  His hard work in the face of the adversity of his cancer simply was awe-inspiring.  And quite simply, we could not have accomplished what we did without his Herculean efforts. 

In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Act I, Scene ii, we read this song, sung by the character Ariel:
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell: Ding-dong.
Hark! now I hear them — Ding-dong, bell.
Bill served almost four years on the USS Passumpsic AO 107.  During his years of active service on Passumpsic, the Fleet Oiler made 4 deployments to Vietnam.  By rights, he should have been granted exposure to Agent Orange.  It is a fight that still must be fought, and must be won. 

We ask that you  visit the following link to a website that will accept donations to help defray the costs of Bill's care: 


In closing, we ask that you offer a prayer for Bill.

Ship’s Company: Attention on Deck!

Hand Salute!

Ding-dong.  Hark!  Now I hear them – Ding-dong, bell.


”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Obama Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." --President Abraham Lincoln

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

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