CPL Edwin Steve Wilson


Edwin Wilson served in the Korean War as part of Company A, 7th Cavalry Regiment. On March 17, 1951, he was injured. He writes of the experience: “Our unit was to secure a hill in the vicinity of the village of Chang-Ri. I was one of the lead troops and as we advanced up the hill I was caught in a cross fire by the Chinese and was wounded in the left leg and medavaced to aid station and then to Japan.”

We honor you, Edwin Wilson.

(#Repost @National Purple Heart Hall of Honor)

1LT Paul Baffico

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Differing from some of the public universities at the time, the school that Baffico attended—the University of San Francisco—had a requirement that all students participate in ROTC for their first two years with the option to continue on voluntarily after that.  Despite the more conservative nature of the school, the university’s proximity to landmarks of 60s counter-culture—Haight-Ashbury, The University of California at Berkeley, and San Francisco itself—made putting on a uniform and going to class that much more intense in an environment where heated debates about Vietnam were raging. Watching as peers were pulled out of class and taken to the draft board, however, and hoping to postpone being drafted himself, Mr. Baffico chose to continue with ROTC after the school’s initial requirements had been met.

After completing his undergraduate studies, Baffico was trained as a Signal Officer at Ft. Gordon, Georgia before moving on to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, and finally landing at Ft. Hood, Texas. From there, he deployed to Vietnam and joined up with the 101st Airborne Division as a Signal Platoon Leader at Camp Eagle, in the hotly contested DMZ. From the time he landed in Vietnam—coming into Tan Son Nhut and making the 30-minute drive by jeep to Camp Eagle—Baffico was enveloped by the dangers of the conflict that would be ever-present in his 206 combat assaults.

One day, in particular, stands out to Baffico and represents the intensity he experienced:

“As dawn broke on the morning of May 6th [1970] I was called to Division Tactical Operations Center (the Situation Bunker) and told that Firebase Henderson was under heavy attack and partially overrun. It was a sapper attack and the ammo dump was on fire and cooking off. My three men had been hit: two killed and one MEDEVAC’d out. The battle was at full peak and the only working communications for the entire firebase was the Pathfinder radio (LZ air traffic control). I was ordered to get a new team and equipment ready and get them installed at Henderson within 45 minutes regardless of the situation. I was not to leave the firebase until my men were in place and the equipment was back on air.”

That during his interview Baffico chooses to focus on issues of leadership surrounding this moment, and what it means to support the troops in such a situation, is perhaps telling of how hard it is to revisit certain moments in the past. Mr. Baffico does suggest it took him many years to be able to even write about that day. The understanding of leadership that Baffico took away with him that day continued to shape him as he came home to a community protesting  the war in Vietnam; as he married and raised a family, and as he began a long career with Sears Roebuck & Co.—a company that understood his service and supported him.

Baffico, who lives in Lake Bluff, Illinois and is one of the founders of the Lake County Veterans and Family Service Foundation, takes time each month to volunteer at The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., where he talks with visitors about the war-time sacrifices he witnessed and what it actually means to be of service to your country.

We honor you, Paul Baffico.

(#Repost @Pritzker Military Museum & Library)

Peter Thomas

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Famed voice-over actor and World War II veteran, Peter Thomas received five battle stars including the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the French Croix de Guerre for his military service with the First Infantry Division in Europe.  After graduating from high school in 1943, he joined the army and was one of 28 replacements sent to Omaha Beach the day after D-Day.  The life-altering experience gave him a deeper appreciation for fellow soldiers, his country, and freedom.  Thomas, who has lived in Naples for many years, served in five major campaigns including the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge.

We honor you, Peter Thomas.

(#Repost @http://wgcuvets.org)

Grace Chicken

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Grace Chicken wanted to see the world.  As a young woman, her ambition was to be a nurse in the war, so she joined the Red Cross and was stationed in Joplin, Missouri.  When she heard that the Air Force was looking for nurses, she enlisted to train as an Army Air Force Specialized Flight Nurse, and was sent to Bowman Field Kentucky.  Her first posting was to Newfoundland, Canada, and from there she went on to be stationed in the Azores, a country that was neutral during WWII.  Injured US military personnel were flown to the Azores from other arenas, such as Europe, Asia and Africa.  From the Azores, the Aerovac teams would fly the patients back to the United States for treatment.  After VE Day, Chicken was sent to Hawaii and from there they flew to all the small Pacific Islands picking up wounded Americans along the way.  She was on the second US plane to arrive in Japan after the surrender.  After the war, Chicken went back to school on the GI Bill and then enlisted to serve in Korea.

We honor you, Grace Chicken.

(#Repost @http://wgcuvets.org)

Maj Gen Jeanne M. Holm

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Jeanne M. Holm was the first woman in the armed forces to be promoted to the rank of Major General (1973), and this was only one of her many firsts. She served in the Army from 1942-1945 and transferred to the Air Force in 1948, when a new law integrated women in the regular armed forces. Gen. Holm served in a variety of personnel assignments, including Director of Women in the Air Force from 1965-73. She played a significant role in eliminating restrictions on numbers of women serving in all ranks, expanding job and duty station assignments for women, opening ROTC and service academies to women, and changing the policies on the status of women in the armed forces. According to Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught, “Gen. Jeanne Holm is recognized as the single driving force in achieving parity for military women and making them a viable part of the mainstream military.” After her retirement, she served as a Special Assistant on Women for President Ford and as a policy consultant for the Carter administration. She is the author of Women in the Military, An Unfinished Revolution (Presidio Press, 1986, revised edition, 1992).

We honor you, Jeanne Holm.

(#Repost @Penn State University Libraries)

PFC Howard P Perry


Breaking a tradition of 167 years, the U.S. Marine Corps started enlisting African Americans in 1942.

The first man to enlist was Howard P. Perry. With 119 other recruits, he began the grueling process of becoming a Marine at Montford Point near Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The trainees were not allowed to enter the main base without a white escort.
After completing boot camp they were shipped to combat zones, in all-Black units.

We honor you, Howard Perry.

(#Repost @Dod African-American History presentation)