CDR Carl B. Forkner, Ph.D., USN(Ret)
It was the height of the Cold War. We were still stinging from Congress’s mis-management of our involvement in Vietnam. Liberalism was sweeping America, changing the landscape of communities, congregations, schools, and families. The gas shortage of 1973 was over and compact cars were becoming the norm as rampant inflation gripped America during the Carter years. Ronald Reagan had just moved into the White House, with his first victory being the demarche–and threat–to Iran that if the hostages were not released by Inauguration Day, he was coming to get them…they were released before that day. BUT…there was also good news…
With practices of performance-enhancing drug (PED) use and state sponsorship that included supporting the families of athletes, the Soviet Union (USSR) was a force to be reckoned with in both the winter and summer Olympic Games. The 1980 Winter Olympics would prove to be no different, with the USSR fielding a team of athletes who were built like Dolph Lundgren (Ivan Drago, the Soviet boxer from the Rocky IV film who killed Apollo Creed in the ring), the massive Vasily Alexeev, and gracious ice skaters. They were again favored to take the gold medal in men’s hockey, a sport that the United States excelled in but could not top the pumped-up Soviet team.
We all know about the “Miracle on Ice,” when the US beat the USSR in men’s hockey, and then went on to defeat Finland in the Gold Medal game. It was, to be sure, a time for joyous celebration–not just for the American Men’s Hockey Team, but for all of America as the Soviet Bear had been toppled by America’s team of amateur hockey players (the Olympics were not yet opened to professional athletes).
In 2004, Disney made the movie “Miracle on Ice” about the story of how the US men’s team worked to defeat the Soviets. Cast in the movie was a young man named Michael Mantenuto, who played the role of the team’s hero, Jack O’Callahan. But this post is not even about the game or Michael’s role in the film.
You see, in 2010, Michael joined the Army and became a Special Forces Communications Sergeant, serving in Iraq and Syria.
To read the rest of SSG Michael Mantenuto’s story, please go to the following link and read/watch the accounting of this young soldier’s life in the article written on the American Legion’s “Burn Pit” article site:
Today, we still have over 20 Active Duty, Guard, and Veterans take their own lives EACH DAY!
Once, we were a band of brothers, and then a band of brothers and sisters; we must each challenge ourselves to again look out for one another. We can relate to their service; we may have experienced their pain; we may have been silent…but we can be silent no longer.
It only takes one to help one.
Be a Combat Buddy, a Shipmate, a Wingman. Together, we can all make it through…