Making A Difference

One Veteran Shows How
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Veterans Day, November 11th is hard on the heels of the 247th birthday of the United States Marine Corps on November 10th. In observance of both occasions I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorite veterans: former Staff Sergeant Adda May (Amy) Dillon née Carpio, USMC. I’ve only known Amy for about 3 years, but my regard for her grows daily. That’s because she just keeps growing daily…

Of those who survived and graduated Boot Camp to receive their eagle, globe and anchor, those who were molded by Amy’s capable hands learned she was not 7-feet tall. As many advanced to become respected NCO’s themselves, they discovered she was much bigger than that—though Amy was “only” 4-feet, 11-inches tall. I say “only” because the tape is limited to measuring inches and feet. It can’t measure character, courage, tenacity and discipline—which Amy shared and instilled into their bones and blood. It’s no surprise a decade later, mobs of her former “boots” still stay in touch with her via phone, e-mail and social media, crediting her with much of their success. But 3 years as a drill instructor, out of her 12 years’ service, helped make Amy what she is too, and she thanks them for that.

Veterans Day: It is to honor both the living… And those who have gone before.

In The Blood

US Navy service is a strong traditional thread binding several generations of Amy’s family. With that service came sacrifice, too, as exemplified by her grandfather, Federico Carpio. A career blue-water sailor, he has been listed as POW/MIA and later “Presumed Killed In Action” since February 27, 1942. He was serving aboard the USS Langley, CV-1, on that date, when it was attacked in the Java Sea by 16 Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” bombers and 15 A6M Reisen fighters. Through skillful helmsmanship Langley dodged the first two bombing passes, but on the third pass she was bracketed by bombs port and starboard and targeted dead center. The Langley, America’s first aircraft carrier, became the first US carrier sunk in World War II.

Langley’s topside burst into flames, her engine room flooded, she went dead in the water and later sunk. At least 16 crewmen were killed and the survivors wound up aboard USS Pecos. But then the Pecos was attacked and sunk by Japanese forces while en route to Australia. An unknown number of Langley and Pecos survivors were captured and placed on different Japanese ships for transport to Japan. At least one of those was sunk by US forces. Skeletal remains unearthed in Japan eventually identified several crewmen from the Langley and Pecos, but of Federico Carpio, no clues were ever found. Fair winds and following seas, sailor; you served honorably and well.

Undaunted, and more likely strengthened by his father’s sacrifice, Amy’s dad, Cezar Carpio, joined the Navy and served 26 years in submarines, retiring as a Chief Torpedoman. Chief Carpio’s service was during the height of the Cold War, when the most hunted denizens of the world’s oceans were not blue whales or bluefin tuna, but American submarines.

Cruising for weeks at crushing depths, our subs were black holes in the water, rarely ever sniffed by our enemies—who were routinely tracked by our subs. The best weapon is one neither friend nor foe can see or hear, and both our submarines and their crews were famously silent. If asked today about his service, Chief Carpio might tell a tale or two about some well-known liberty ports in exotic places, but about their operations, he would likely just smile and say something like, “Here and there, doing this and that.” Such duty takes a special kind of man, and it seems Chief Carpio was a special kind of father too, inspiring his petite powerhouse of a daughter to serve as well.

SSgt Dillon, Drill Instructor, USMC

Is this a face you’d want to argue with? Didn’t think so.

Marching On

Following her tour as a Drill Instructor, Amy returned to a Marine Air Wing and her regular duties as an Aviation Data Analyst and Combat Marksmanship Instructor. The Corps had been good to her, and there was interesting travel—to Japan, where she climbed Mount Fuji; to the Republic of Korea, where she had the “fun” of running drills in full MOPP gear and gas mask; to points as far southwest as the Philippines and northeast as The Netherlands—but she grew restless. Finally, SSgt Dillon left the Corps, as she told me, “To see what else I could do.”

Settling in Bluffton, South Carolina, she continued her education in legal studies at South University, focused on constitutional law and the rights to self-defense and to bear arms. Amy became a certified firearms instructor with NRA, a Concealed Carry Permit Instructor for South Carolina’s Law Enforcement Division and in-house firearms instructor for Palmetto State Armory. She’s a Personal Safety Academy instructor for the SABRE Civilian Safety Awareness Program, and works closely with and consults for several organizations like “The Well Armed Woman” and the US Concealed Carry Association, appearing at the latter’s Concealed Carry Expo 2016 as both a firearms instructor and fashion model, showing off stylish ladies’ concealed-carry clothing.

Amy’s an active competitor, regularly shooting 3-Gun, IDPA, USPSA and Glock Shooting Sports events. A dedicated outdoor sports and physical fitness aficionado, she enjoys river paddling, swimming, mountain biking and rough country running in events like the “JCB Mud Fest 2016,” where she ran, slogged, leaped and crawled over 5 miles of mud and 43 slippery-slimy obstacles. Such abuse can be tough on appearances, but she also does social media videos on hair and skin care and cosmetics for active outdoor women, plus accessorizing around your daily-carry weapons and gear.

Increasingly you’ll find Amy as a guest on programs dealing with Second Amendment issues, firearms safety training and civilian shooting tactics, and see her face at SHOT Show, the annual NRA convention and other related events. She is also a freelance writer and blogger for Newsmax.com. This lady is the militarized variant of the Energizer Bunny…

As I write this on Independence Day, Amy is arriving in Washington D.C. as South Carolina’s representative to The D.C. Project, a nonpartisan initiative bringing 50 armed and knowledgeable women, one from each state, to the capitol. Over July 6 through 8, delegations of these ladies will meet with lawmakers to establish relationships, educate and update elected officials on Second Amendment issues, and represent the growing population of female shooters, putting human faces and stories on the lawful use of firearms in self-defense, recreational and sporting activities. One of Amy’s scheduled visits is to the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein. Hmm… I wonder how that one will go?

And a note to Chief Carpio from the son of another blue-water warrior and Chief Torpedoman: About this daughter of yours—Well done, Chief; well done. Connor OUT

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