Charles Blount was often the last person to see a paratrooper as he dove out of the plane over a drop zone. “I counted them as they went out,” Blount says, detailing the events that took place aboard his plane in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944. From Normandy to Holland to the Battle of the Bulge, Blount saw the beginning of three major campaigns for victory in Europe. The following is the record of the plane crash he was involved in:
The plane was loaded with approximately 150-200 Jerry cans of gasoline. As Lt Estelle lowered the landing gear and made his approach to land, he instructed his crew chief to look out the glass dome for enemy planes. Charles Blount spotted two ME-109s behind and above them. He dropped to the floor and attempted to shout a warning, but 20MM explosive rounds were already ripping through the plane. A fragment from an exploding round struck TSgt Blount in the shoulder. The impact drove him back to the floor, landing behind the co-pilot’s seat. He managed to get into the cockpit and found the pilot and co-pilot uninjured. The pilot had shut all systems down to reduce the danger of fire inside the plane. One wing was ablaze as the pilot made a safe landing. In the words of TSgt Blount, “they landed without spilling a single can of gasoline.”
Later TSgt Blount found the base of the 20MM exploding round inside the plane, which he kept as a souvenir. The fragment in his shoulder remained there the rest of his life.
In 1981 in a bar, in Michigan, two men struck up a conversation. One said he had grown up in Germany, but now lived in the US and practiced law. The two men were about the same age which caused the second man to ask if the lawyer had been in the war. He stated he had been a fighter pilot. The second man said he had also been a C-47 pilot. The German said “I shot down a C-47 one morning near Kassel, Germany.”
The two pilots had first met 26 years earlier in the air near Kassel, Germany as war time enemies.
We honor you, Charles Blount.
(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project and National Purple Heart Hall of Honor)
Anthony was drafted into the military on December 2, 1942. He was sent to Camp Kilmer, South Plain Field, N.J. From there he went to Miami, Florida for basic training, then on to Savannah, Georgia and then to Columbia AFB, Columbia, SC. He returned to Camp Kilmer and from there was shipped out to England on the Queen Mary, which was converted to a troop ship carrying 16,000 men.
They arrived in England in March 1944. On June 13, 1944 his squadron, the 83rd Airdrome, 9th Air Force landed on Omaha Beach, Normandy, France. There they were attached to Patton’s 3rd Army and followed him to the end of the war.
Anthony returned to the USA and was honorably discharged in November 1945. He returned to his job and worked there and other jobs till October 1951, when he was hired as Middlesex’s 1st regular Italian Officer.
During his twenty-six year career, Anthony was awarded as the “Police Officer of the Year” by the America Legion and the Middlesex Jaycee’s.
He was also a marksman shooter on the Middlesex Police department Pistol Team. In 1955 Allentown, PA. He came in second place in a National Shoot. He and another person both shot 299 out of 300. Anthony had eighteen times in the black and the person who came in first had twenty-two times.
We honor you, Anthony DiBartolomeo Sr.
On a September day in 1952, a young woman from Puerto Rico joined the Army. The 20-year-old college graduate attended Army Physical Therapist School and soon found herself serving at Army hospitals around the globe. In 1970, just two years after earning a master’s degree in physical therapy (PT), she was sent to Vietnam. Then a major in the Army Medical Specialist Corps (AMSC), Aida Nancy Sanchez spent a year at the 95th Evacuation Hospital, Da Nang, Vietnam, where she established the first PT clinic.
Sanchez was asked to go on a top-secret assignment. She was only told that she would be required to travel outside Vietnam in civilian clothes.
Before leaving for Saigon, she was informed her assignment was to travel to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, where she would treat Lon Not, the country’s president. He had suffered a stroke and needed intense physical therapy. She was asked to read the president’s medical records, but not take any notes or make any copies. In Phnom Penh, she stayed at the city’s finest hotel and was guarded by seven Cambodians and two undercover US agents.
She worked with the Cambodian president for a year before extending her tour another year. It was during 1972 that she experienced the “horrors of war.” She assisted Army nurses when Vietnamese wounded were brought to the 95th Evac Hospital at China Beach.
We honor you, Aida Sanchez.
Frank McKee found out just how pugnacious his fellow paratroopers could be when he pulled MP duty in England and had to break up pub fights between the men of the 82nd Airborne and other units awaiting orders for D-Day. The night before the invasion, his plane dodged anti-aircraft fire, and he landed safely.
He wasn’t as lucky a month later, on July 4, when he “felt something like a horse kicked me in the back” during a skirmish with German troops. But he recovered from his wounds to parachute into Holland and fight through the coldest winter in Europe in 40 years, in the Battle of the Bulge.
We honor you, Frank McKee.
(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)
Katherine was raised on a rural Maryland farm, went to nursing school and landed a job at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C. She had hopes of joining the Army to see the world, but was one inch too short for Army standards, so she joined the Navy.
Soon after, the Army lowered their height standards, she transferred in and was assigned to Tripler Army Hospital in Hawaii in September 1941. She was among 82 nurses on the base when Pearl Harbor was attacked and as a nurse, she worked 24 straight hours.
By 1944, the Army assigned her to Germany where she earned a Bronze Star for valor. In late 1950, she went to the 8063 Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, the first MASH in Korea. Kathryn retired from the Army in July of 1966 after 28 years of service.
We honor you, Katherine Doody.
John L. Borling was born in Chicago, Illinois in March, 1940. He graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1963, and received his pilot’s wings in 1964. By 1966 then-Lieutenant Borling was flying combat missions from a base in Thailand over North Vietnam. His F-4 Phantom was shot down on June 1, 1966 while flying his 97th mission. Borling spent the next six and a half years in enemy prison camps, including the notorious Hanoi Hilton. During the first few years as a prisoner of war (POW) he was kept in solitary confinement, subjected to torture and barely survived on a Spartan diet. In order to keep his mind active, Borling wrote poetry and passed it along to his fellow POWs by tapping them on the walls using a code system they developed themselves. Treatment of the POWs improved in the early 1970s. He and the rest of fellow captives were released on February 12, 1973.
Following his release, Borling received pilot refresher training, then was selected to be a White House Fellow from August 1974 to August 1975, serving during the Gerald Ford administration. He then attended the Armed Forces Staff College and following that he was assigned to the 94th Fighter Squadron, the famed Hat in the Ring squadron, which he soon commanded. Borling attended the National War College, and he followed this with a tour at the Pentagon where he served as the chief of Checkmate Strategic Studies Group. In February of 1982, he was sent to Ramstein, West Germany where he commanded the 86th Fighter Group. He followed this assignment with a tour at the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers – Europe (SHAPE) in Belgium.
In June of 1986 then-Colonel Borling was assigned to Headquarters, Strategic Air Command (SAC) at Offut Air Force Base, Nebraska. By June, 1987, he was the commander of SAC’s 57th Air Division, based at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. He followed this with senior level assignments in SAC before returning to the Pentagon as a Major General, serving as the director of operational requirements from January 1991 to January 1992. Major General Borling finished his military career with a four-year tour at Allied Forces North (AFNORTH), NATO in Norway, first as the Deputy Chief of Staff-Air, and then as the Chief of Staff for AFNORTH-Europe in Stavanger, Norway. He retired on August 1, 1996 after thirty-three years of service.
We honor you, John Borling.
(#Repost @Pritzker Military Museum & Library)
Barbara J. Dulinsky was the first female marine to serve for the Marine Corps in a combat zone. Serving at the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam headquarters in Saigon, Dulinsky received the opportunity to be the first women marine to enter a combat zone. On March 18th, 1967 Dulinsky landed in Saigon to begin her work of the Marine Corps Personnel Section on the staff of the commander, naval forces, and Vietnam to provide administrative support to Marines. The few women who were serving in combat zones had volunteered for the job and were verified by many men to be sent over. These women were very brave and had to demonstrate maturity, stability, and the willingness to adapt to different situations. Dulinsky who’s credited to be the first women to take a major step in promoting Women’s duty in the Marines created a legacy to live on. Her leadership showed courageous volunteering that helped evolve Women Marines to take more responsibility when serving.
In a letter she wrote, “Right now, most of us don’t look the picture of ‘the New Image.’ Whew! Hardly! I can’t determine at night, if I’m pooped from the work day or from carrying around these anvils tied to my feet called combat boots. Our Young-uns (and me too inside) were scared, but you’d have been proud of them. They turned to in the mess, cashiering, washing dishes, serving and clearing tables.”
Dulinsky’s words showed that the situation wasn’t an easy transition, but she’s also showing that they should be proud of the women because they are trying their best to prove that women are capable of this work.
We honor you, Barbara Dulinsky.