Seaman Raul Herrera

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San Antonio native Raul Herrera was slim as a beanpole when he joined the United States Navy, and he quickly earned the nickname “Bean.” He served in Vietnam as a sailor patrolling the coastal waters in a Patrol Craft Fast (PCF), better known as a Swift Boat.

As the workhorses of the Navy’s Coastal Surveillance Force, Swift Boats like Herrera’s supported the friendly forces by preventing the import of enemy soldiers, ammunition, and supplies into South Vietnam. On July 15, 1967, Herrera and the other crew members of his fifty-foot boat helped intercept a 120-foot steel hull enemy trawler carrying more than 90 tons of ammunition intended for use against American forces. For their efforts that day, the crew was personally decorated with the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry by Premier Nguyen Cao Ky and Vice President Nguyen Van Thieu.

The U.S. Navy served an important role in the Vietnam War, providing its own combat force (U.S. Marines and Navy SEALs), aircraft, hospital and medical care, logistics support, and patrols of the coastlines and waterways. Large “Blue Water” Navy vessels and smaller “Brown Water” vessels like the one Herrera crewed participated.

We honor you, Raul Herrera.

(#Repost @http://tcvvm.org/project/raul-herrera/)

MSG Catharine Deitch

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Catharine Deitch was born in Pennsylvania in 1919 and vividly remembers the day in 1929 when the banks closed and the Depression started. Her family had cultivated 28 acres of corn, wheat, raspberries, strawberries, asparagus, etc. and they had apple, cherry and black walnut trees. So they never went hungry! Commercial feeds such as Purina Chicken Feed made their bags out of material, which was a yard square piece of printed flower designs. It was folded in the middle and sewed on a loop stitch machine, in which if you pulled the first stitch, it automatically unraveled and you had 1 square yard of pretty material from which her grandmother made underwear, blouses and dresses.

Catharine was married on December 3, 1941. They were on their honeymoon in an Oceanside cabin in Daytona Beach, Florida when the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was broadcast on the radio. Catherine’s husband picked up a broom, put it over his shoulder, started marching around and said to me “America is going to war.” They returned to Pennsylvania, rented an apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and started to get their affairs in order. Since Catharine’s husband was about to be drafted, she decided to enlist. Her active duty date began at the end of December 1942 and she traveled on a troop train to Daytona Beach, Florida, arriving just as the whistles were blowing to welcome the New Year, 1943. Since her husband’s date to report for duty was later in January, he was able to stand on the train platform and wave “goodbye” to his wife. He joked about that for many years.

Catharine served first in the WAAC until August 1943, then served in the WAC to the end of November 1945. After basic training at Daytona Beach, she was assigned to Boston, Mass., where she worked in the orderly room. From Boston, she was sent to Bradley Field, Conn. and later Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia and from there on a troop train to Riverside, Calif. to prepare for overseas assignment. One of the women who sailed with her was Miriam Rivkin, who also lives at AFRH-W. They had not seen or heard from each other until Catharine arrived at AFRH in 2007 – almost 63 later. Great reunion!
After zigzagging across the Pacific Ocean to avoid being sunk by enemy submarines, Catharine arrived at Bombay, India in October 1944. They then flew to Calcutta, India on C-47s and sat in bucket seats. They were driven up a branch of the Ganges River and lived in a huge jute mill, which the Army had converted for their headquarters.
The women were clerical workers, telephone operators, trainer specialists, cooks, medical staff, etc. They were offered the opportunity to see India and Catharine visited the Taj Mahal, saw Mt. Everest, and Darjeeling in West Bengal. She returned to the states in November 1945 and was discharged.

It was Thanksgiving Day and Fort Dix, New Jersey served them a feast! Her Army service afforded Catharine the opportunity to sail all the way around the way around the world and she has always been thankful for this opportunity!

Catharine and her husband reunited at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where they raised a family and became a part of that historical place. Her husband loved taking people on the battlefield and giving them tours. Some of the people that Catharine was able to meet there were Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, (with Jackie and Caroline) and David Brinkley.

We honor you, Catharine Deitch.

(#Repost @AFRH)

Maj Wintford “Dick” Bazzell

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Dick Bazzell was born on December 6, 1925, in Delta, Missouri. He served in the U.S. Merchant Marines from September 1943 to July 1944, and then enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 7, 1944. After completing basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama, he was assigned as an infantryman with 1st Platoon, Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 324th Infantry Regiment of the 44th Infantry Division, deploying to Europe from February to July 1945. SSG Bazzell received an honorable discharge from the Army on June 28, 1946, and later enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Reserve on September 20, 1948. He was commissioned a 2d Lt in the Air Force on February 17, 1951, and went on active duty beginning September 30, 1951.

Lt Bazzell next completed Radar Observer Training at James Connally AFB, Texas, in February 1952, followed by Aircrew Interceptor Training at Tyndall AFB, Florida, in April 1952. He served as an F-94C Starfire Radar Intercept Officer with the 58th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Otis AFB, Massachusetts, from April 1952 to March 1953, and then completed pilot training, earning his pilot wings at Bryan AB, Texas, in February 1954. After completing F-84 Thunderjet Combat Crew Training, Lt Bazzell served as an instructor pilot with the 3625th and then the 3626th Combat Crew Training Groups at Tyndall AFB from June 1954 to November 1958. Capt Bazzell served as a Weapons Controller and Operations Officer with the 720th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron at Middleton Island, Alaska, from December 1958 to December 1959. His next assignment was as a Weapons Controller and then Detachment Commander of Detachment 1, 728th AC&W Squadron at Pope AFB, North Carolina, from December 1959 to September 1961.

He then received an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment to complete his bachelor’s degree at Oklahoma State University from September 1961 to August 1963. His next assignment was in the Telemetry Section Range Development Laboratory with the 3208th Test Group at Eglin AFB, Florida, from August 1963 to February 1964, followed by service as a Physicist in the Data & Telemetry Branch with Headquarters Air Proving Ground Command at Eglin from February 1964 to October 1966. He next completed F-105 Thunderchief Combat Crew Training in March 1967, and then served as an F-105 pilot and Chief of Briefing-Scheduling with the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from May 1967 to February 1968. Maj Bazzell’s final assignment was as a Laboratory Staff Scientist with the Air Force Armament Laboratory, Armament Development and Test Center with Air Force Systems Command at Eglin AFB from March 1968 until his retirement from the Air Force on March 1, 1974.

Bizzell earned 11 Distinguished Flying Crosses during his time of service. His 10th (of 11) reads:

“Major Wintford L. Bazzell distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight as a Pilot over North Vietnam on 19 December 1967. On that date, Major Bazzell was a member of a flight of four F-105 Thunderchiefs assigned to engage hostile surface to air missile sites in support of a major attack. Under continuous fire from eight surface to air missile sites and countless antiaircraft artillery sites, Major Bazzell made repeated attacks on the missile sites threatening the strike force. As a direct result of his courageous actions, the force was able to successfully attack its assigned target in the most heavily defended area of North Vietnam without the loss of a single aircraft. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Major Bazzell reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.”

We honor you, Wintford Bazzell.

(#Repost @Veteran Tributes)

CPT Jennifer Moreno

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In her last moments of life, Army nurse Capt. Jennifer Moreno heard two orders.

One was a call to help a wounded soldier struck by a blast in a booby-trapped killing field at an Afghanistan bomb-making compound.

The other was a command to stay put lest she strike another mine in the bomb belt.

The nurse from Madigan Army Medical Center chose to help the wounded soldier, and gave her life trying.

In the words of her commander, Moreno ran “into hell” to rescue a comrade on the night she was killed. Newly released narratives of the Oct. 5 battle reveal the kind of hell Moreno and dozens of Army special operators found while trying to disrupt a plot to kill civilians in the city of Kandahar.

A total of 12 bombs exploded that night – a chain reaction that took the lives of four U.S. soldiers and wounded at least 25.

The fifth bomb killed Moreno, 25, of San Diego who volunteered for a dangerous assignment supporting special operators in combat.

The 11th bomb wounded three soldiers trying to recover her body.

Moreno is Madigan’s only fatal casualty from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though the hospital south of Tacoma has continuously deployed soldiers to medical facilities in combat zones.

Moreno “sacrificed her life so others could live,” her Bronze Star commendation reads.

We honor you, Jennifer Moreno.

(Submission by: Miah Parry. #Repost @The Washington Times)

MajGen Charles F. Bolden, Jr.

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Aerospace engineer and Major General (ret.) Charles F. Bolden, Jr. was born on August 19, 1946 in Columbia, South Carolina. He graduated from C.A. Johnson High School in 1964. Both of his parents, Charles and Ethel Bolden, were teachers and stressed the importance of education. Bolden received his B.S. degree in electrical science from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968, and earned his M.S. degree in systems management from the University of Southern California in 1977. He then accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps following graduation from the Naval Academy and underwent flight training at Pensacola, Florida, Meridian, Mississippi, and Kingsville, Texas.

Between June 1972 and June 1973, Bolden flew more than 100 combat missions into North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in the A-6A Intruder while stationed in Nam Phong, Thailand. After returning to the United States, Bolden served in a variety of positions in the Marine Corps. He was then assigned to the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, where he completed his training in 1979. While working at the Naval Air Test Center’s Systems Engineering and Strike Aircraft Test Directorates, he tested a variety of ground attack aircraft until his selection as an astronaut candidate in 1980. Bolden’s NASA astronautical career included technical assignments. He served as pilot on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1986. In the wake of the Challenger disaster, he was assigned as the chief of the Safety Division. In 1990, he piloted the Space Shuttle Discovery during its mission to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope. Bolden served as the Mission Commander for Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1992 and the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1994. He logged more than 680 hours during these four flights. Bolden left NASA and returned to the U.S. Marine Corps in 1997, and was assigned as the Deputy Commandment of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy. During Operation Desert Thunder-Kuwait in 1998, he was assigned as the Commanding General of the Marine Expeditionary Force. He was promoted to Major General in 1998. In 2003, Bolden retired from the Marine Corps and served as president of the American PureTex Water Corporation. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Bolden as the top NASA administrator, making him the second astronaut and the first African American to serve in this position.

Bolden’s military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. NASA awarded him the Exceptional Service Award in 1988, 1989, and 1991. In May of 2006, he was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

We honor you, Charles Bolden Jr.

(#Repost @History Makers)

PVT Donald Rose

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U.S. Army Specialist Five Don Rose of Wichita Falls was a Huey helicopter crew chief serving with the 176th Assault Helicopter Company in Vietnam when he was Killed In Action on December 15th 1969. Rose was set to return home the next day when he volunteered to take one last flight on a night flare mission in support of ground troops.

The aircraft in which Rose was working, UH-1H tail number 68-16206, inadvertently went into instrument flight conditions in foul weather and the aircraft crashed before the crew could gain visual orientation. All five soldiers aboard were killed, including another Texan, Chief Warrant Officer Dee Hyden of Amarillo.

Because he was due to return, when the knock came at the Rose home, Donald’s mother assumed it was him. Instead, she was met by a U.S. Army representative who had come to deliver the worst possible news.

Donald Rose was 19 years old when he perished in service to his country. He is remembered at Panel 15, Line 60 on the National Vietnam War Memorial Wall.

The UH-1 “Huey” helicopter and its crew provided critical support to ground troops. Aircraft like Rose’s were known as “slicks,” and were used for troop transport and extraction, resupply and other support missions like the flare illumination request to which this crew was responding. As the aircraft’s crew chief, Rose was responsible for the maintenance and repair of his helicopter.

More than 7,000 Huey helicopters were used in Vietnam. Half were destroyed. The four-man crews of Huey helicopters were fearless in their commitment to helping the “grunts” on the ground, and many were shot down or, like Rose’s helicopter, crashed in bad weather conditions.

Photos and story submitted by his brother, Lester Rose.

We honor you, Donald Rose.

(#Repost @http://tcvvm.org/project/donald-rose/)

CPL Frank Buckles

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Washington (CNN) — Frank Buckles, the last living U.S. World War I veteran, has died, a spokesman for his family said Sunday. He was 110.

Lawmakers Monday began to move ahead with proposed resolutions that would allow his casket to be displayed at the Capitol Rotunda, and plans were already in the works for his burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Buckles “died peacefully in his home of natural causes” early Sunday morning [27 Feb 2011], the family said in a statement sent to CNN late Sunday by spokesman David DeJonge.

Buckles marked his 110th birthday on February 1 [2011], but his family had earlier told CNN he had slowed considerably since last fall, according his daughter Susannah Buckles Flanagan, who lives at the family home near Charles Town, West Virginia.

Buckles, who served as a U.S. Army ambulance driver in Europe during what was then known as the “Great War,” rose to the rank of corporal before the war ended.

His assignments included that of an escort for German prisoners of war. Little did he know he would someday become a prisoner of war during World War II.

He came to prominence in recent years, in part because of the work of DeJonge, a Michigan portrait photographer who had undertaken a project to document the last surviving veterans of that war.

As the years continued, all but Buckles had passed away, leaving him the “last man standing” among U.S. troops who were called “The Doughboys.” His death leaves only two verified surviving WWI veterans in the world, both of whom are British.

President Obama issued a statement Monday on Buckles’ passing, saying he and first lady Michelle Obama were “inspired” by Buckles’ story.

Frank Buckles lived the American Century,” Obama’s statement said. “Like so many veterans, he returned home, continued his education, began a career, and along with his late wife Audrey, raised their daughter Susannah. … We join Susannah and all those who knew and loved her father in celebrating a remarkable life that reminds us of the true meaning of patriotism and our obligations to each other as Americans.”

Buckles told CNN in 2007 he accepted the responsibility of honoring those who had gone before him, and to be their voice for permanent, national recognition after he was gone.

DeJonge found himself the spokesman and advocate for Buckles in his mission to see to it that his comrades were honored with a monument on the National Mall, pushing for improvements to a neglected, obscure city memorial nearly in the shadow of the elaborate World War II memorial.

Buckles wanted national status granted to the D.C. War Memorial, a marble gazebo built in the 1930s that, for now, honors only his comrades from the District of Columbia. His call was to elevate the designation of the site to join U.S. honors accorded to those who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

“We have come to the end of a chapter in history,” said Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, a House sponsor of legislation to upgrade the DC War Memorial. “Frank was the last American Doughboy — a national treasure,” Poe said in a statement provided to CNN.

The “Frank Buckles WWI Memorial Act” passed the House but had not cleared the Senate before Congress adjourned. Poe on Monday restated his support for a House resolution that would allow a public display for Buckles in the Capitol Rotunda. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia is a co-sponsor of the Senate proposal.

Buckles, at the age of 108, came to Capitol Hill from West Virginia in 2009 to testify before a Senate panel on behalf of the D.C. War Memorial bill. He sat alongside Rockefeller and fellow proponent Sens. John Thune, R-South Dakota, and Jim Webb, D-Virginia.

“I have to,” he told CNN when he came to Washington, as part of what he considered his responsibility to honor the memory of fellow veterans.

Rockefeller praised Buckles in a statement Monday, calling him “a unique American, a wonderfully plain-spoken man, and an icon for the World War I generation.”

“His life was full and varied and an inspiration for his unbridled patriotism and enthusiam for life,” the statement said.

Buckles, after World War I ended, took up a career as a ship’s officer on merchant vessels. He was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines during World War II and held prisoner of war for more than three years before he was freed by U.S. troops.

Never saying much about his POW experience, Buckles instead wanted attention drawn to the plight of the D.C. War Memorial. During a visit to the run-down, neglected site a few years ago, he went past the nearby World War II memorial without stopping, even as younger veterans stopped and saluted the old soldier in his wheelchair as he went by.

Renovations to the structure began last fall, but Buckles, with his health already failing, could not make a trip to Washington to review the improvements. The National Park Service is overseeing efforts that include replacing a neglected walkway and dressing up a deteriorated dome and marble columns.

Details for services and arrangements will be announced in the days ahead, the family statement said.

Flanagan, his daughter, said preliminary plans began weeks ago, with the Military District of Washington expressing its support for an honors burial at Arlington, including an escort platoon, a horse-drawn casket arrival, a band and a firing party.

“It has long been my father’s wish to be buried in Arlington, in the same cemetery that holds his beloved General (John) Pershing,” Flanagan wrote as she began to prepare for the inevitable in a letter she sent to home-state U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia.

“I feel confident that the right thing will come to pass,” she said.

Manchin issued a statement Monday that read, in part, “He lived a long and rich life as a true American patriot, and I hope that his family’s loss is lightened with the knowledge that he was loved and will be missed by so many.”

Buckles in 2008 attended Veterans Day ceremonies at the grave of Pershing, the commander of U.S. troops during World War I. He also met with then-President George W. Bush at the White House, and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon.

“The First World War is not well understood or remembered in the United States,” Gates said at the time. “There is no big memorial on the National Mall. Hollywood has not turned its gaze in this direction for decades. Yet few events have so markedly shaped the world we live in.”

Buckles’ family asks that donations be made to the National World War I Legacy Project to honor Frank Buckles and the 4,734,991 Americans with whom he served.

More than 116,000 Americans were killed, and more than 204,000 wounded, in the 19 months of U.S. involvement in the war, according to the Congressional Research Service. The overall death toll of the 1914-18 conflict was more than 16.5 million, including nearly 7 million civilians, and more than 20 million wounded.

Details can be found at: http://www.frankbuckles.org.

We honor you, Frank Buckles.

(#Repost @cnn.com)