- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 20, 2004

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

Did Public Law 94-479, dated Oct. 11, 1976, appointing George Washington to the grade of “General of the Armies of the United States” make him the only six-star general in the history of the U.S. military? Or did it make him a five-star general who would always rank first among all officers of the Army, past and present?

Ajay G.

Via the Internet

Dear Ajay:

The following is a summary of Public Law 94-479, which outlines the intent on the Resolution.

“Establishes the grade of General of Armies of the United States which shall have precedence over all other grades of the Army, past and present. Authorizes the president to appoint George Washington posthumously to such grade effective July 4, 1976.”

To answer your specific question, there was no insignia described in the Resolution.

Shaft notes

cA Shaft shot to the Department of Defense and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for their inefficient and costly approach to handling overseas military absentee ballots by using overnight mail instead of planet codes.

Planet codes are a proven automated method the Postal Service uses to track mail. The Defense Department’s Federal Voting Assistance Office should use planet codes for absentee ballot voting for servicemen and their families overseas. Using planet codes is automated, efficient and the least expensive way to track USPS mail.

• The Sarge is once again looking forward to joining fellow members of the National Press Club, other press representatives and guests at a July 15 club luncheon featuring the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Hagee.

Gen. Hagee graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968 with a bachelor of science in engineering. He also holds a master of science in electrical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and a master of arts in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.

Gen. Hagee’s command assignments include: commanding officer, Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines (1970); commanding officer, Pearl Harbor Guard Company (1976-1977); commanding officer, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines (1988-1990); commanding officer, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (1992-1993); commanding general, 1st Marine Division (1998-1999); and commanding general, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (2000-2002).

The general’s staff assignments include: communications-electronics officer, 1st Marine Air Command and Control Squadron (1971); assistant director, Telecommunications School (1972-1974); training officer, 3rd Marine Division (1977-1978); electrical engineering instructor, U.S. Naval Academy (1978-1981); liaison officer to the U.S. special envoy to Somalia (1992-1993); director, Character Development Division, U.S. Naval Academy (1994-1995); and deputy director of operations, U.S. European Command Headquarters (1996-1998).

As part of his press club remarks, I am sure he will pay tribute to our Marines serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and those warriors who have made the supreme sacrifice.

• One of the most requested reprints of the Sarge’s columns is the following Marine invocation, which has anonymously evolved throughout the years. So bow your heads while standing tall and share this with your fellow Marines:

O Lord, we have long known that prayer should include confession. Therefore, on behalf of the Marines and their guests here gathered, I confess their sins:

Lord, they’re just not in step with today’s society. They are unreasonable in clinging to old-fashioned ideas like patriotism, duty, honor and country. They hold radical ideas like believing that they are their brother’s keeper and responsible for the Marine on their flank. They have been standing when colors pass, singing the national anthem at ballgames, and drinking toasts to fallen comrades.

Not only that, they have been observed standing tall, taking charge, and wearing their hair unfashionably short. They have taken John Kennedy’s words too seriously and are overly concerned with what they can do for their country instead of what this country can do for them.

They take the Pledge of Allegiance to heart and believe that the oath is to be honored. Forgive them, Lord, for being stubborn men and women who hold fast to such old-fashioned values. After all, what can you expect? They’re Marines.

O Lord our God, bless our misguided ideals, continue to raise up in this nation strong leaders and deliver us from “me first” managers and “don’t ask me” followers. Be our honored guest this day. Let it be a day of laughter, good food, good drink, and the telling of tall tales and legends that far exceed the truth.

Watch over and keep safe those who wear this nation’s uniform with special attention to their families everywhere. Now through this day and all the days ahead, God bless this great nation and God bless the corps.

Anyone interested in attending the Press Club Luncheon should contact Pat Nelson at 202/662-7500.

• Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, PO Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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