SN1 William Bruesewitz

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(Originally posted 06 December 2018) Navy Seaman 1st Class William Bruesewitz, killed at the Pearl Harbor attack, will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery Dec. 7 on the 77th anniversary of the incident.

Bruesewitz, 26, of Appleton, Wisconsin, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma (BB 37) moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft Dec. 7, 1941. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced in November that Bruesewitz was accounted for March 19 this year and his remains were being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Greg Slavonic who will be at the interment ceremony said he is honored to attend the ceremony for Bruesewitz.

“As battleship USS Oklahoma, which on December 7, 1941 sustained multiple torpedo hits and capsized quickly, Petty Officer 1st Class Bruesewitz and other sailors were trapped below decks. He was one of the 429 Sailors who were killed that fateful day,” Slavonic said.

“Breuesewitz and his shipmates are remembered at the USS Oklahoma Memorial on Ford Island which was dedicated in their honor December 7, 2007. Sailors like Bruesewitz who represent the ‘Greatest Generation’ gave so much and asked so little but when the time came to serve their Navy and nation, they answered the call.”

After Bruesewitz was killed in the attack, his remains were recovered from the ship, but they could not be identified following the incident. He was initially buried as an unknown at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Forensic developments, like DNA analysis, allowed reexamination and eventual identification of his remains. Bruesewitz is the 118th crew member to be identified by the DPAA’s USS Oklahoma project. There were 388 personnel unaccounted for from the ship and 187 Sailors have been identified so far.

Renate Starck, one of Bruesewitz’s nieces, told us from Maryland that after Bruesewitz was identified and interment plans have started, the family requested that it be Dec. 7.

“Because we’ve been aware of loss of our uncle. Since he died, the family remembered him on this day. This is also easy for the young ones to remember. It gives us peace and forgiveness for his loss,” she said during a phone interview.

About 60 people, most of whom are family members and some close friends, will be attending the funeral ceremony at the Arlington National Ceremony which will begin at the administration building at 1 p.m.

A funeral service for him will be held earlier in the day starting at 7:50 a.m. at Salem Lutheran Church, Catonsville, Maryland, after which a procession to Arlington will take place. The Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore, dedicated their Dec. 1 and 2 performances of W. A. Mozart’s Requiem to Bruesewitz.

Explaining the historical process, a DPAA statement says that from December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries. In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Bruesewitz.

In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the Punchbowl for analysis. To identify Bruesewitz’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA analysis, anthropological and dental analysis, along with circumstantial evidence.

USS Oklahoma crew members have been honored Dec. 7 each year with a ceremony held on Ford Island at the USS Oklahoma Memorial to include, post of the colors, principle speaker, honoring those who served on the USS Oklahoma, 21-gun salute and taps. Leis are placed on some white standards in honor of each crew member where a picture is placed on a standard when they are identified.

Additionally, there is a USS Oklahoma Memorial in Oklahoma, which has a listing of the crew members lost, near the Oklahoma Capitol honoring 429 Sailors who were killed on USS Oklahoma during the Pearl Harbor attack.

We honor you, William Bruesewitz.

(#Repost @Navy.mil)

SSgt Marvin E Culbreth

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Marvin served as a Staff Sergeant, 13th Bomber Squadron, 3rd Bomber Group, Light, U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. He resided in Georgia prior to the war.

Marvin was a passenger on B-25D #41-30532. This B-25, while on a ferrying flight from Horanda Airfield to the 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby, ran into severe weather and radioed that they were returning but they were not heard from again during the war.

The B-25 was first located in 1961 and in 2001 the remains of the crew were discovered. They had crashed into Mount Kenevi. Marvin was first declared “Missing In Action” and his status was changed to “Killed In Action” when the plane was later found.

We honor you, Marvin Culbreth.

(#Repost @Find A Grave. Picture @13th Bomb Squadron)

CPT Dovey Johnson Roundtree

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Today we want to honor Dovey Johnson Roundtree, a trailblazing lawyer, minister, advocate and inaugural member of the WAAC. She broke barriers, reaching the rank of Captain and recruited so many black women she helped set the groundwork for desegregation in the military. She used the GI Bill to attend Howard Law School, and in 1955 she won a landmark case to end segregation in the bus system!

We honor you, Dovey Roundtree.

(#Repost @Women in Military Service for America)

 

Billy Ray White

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Billy Ray White was born in North Carolina. After high school he received his draft notice, which stated that he had 30 days to choose a branch of service. So at the age of 19, Billy joined the United States Navy. He did this for two reasons: first, the Navy would give him a chance to travel and see the world, and second, since this was the era of the Vietnam War and he was under the impression that he would stay out of harm’s way. Unlike other branches, which were on the front lines of battle, the Navy seamen would serve far removed from the active warzone and therefore away from danger.

Billy’s draft notice brought him to Baltimore, Maryland and then to Great Lakes, Illinois for boot camp. The corpsman training prepared him for his position on the Pickaway, a transport ship responsible for transporting 2,000 troops to Vietnam. Taking care of the wounded on a U.S. Navy vessel is no easy feat. Treating injured men on the open sea is a special challenge. Billy remembers having to transport incapacitated men from lifeboats to the ship decks, using only the strength from his body. He had to climb a rope ladder to carry the stretcher up to the deck. Keeping the stretcher level and the victim safe and comfortable was the most challenging part of the ordeal. Billy’s first Navy excursion departed from Long Beach, California. After many weeks on the ocean, with stopovers at Hawaii and the Philippines, Billy was flown to Japan to a Navy base, where he was stationed on a construction battalion. He was in charge of tool distribution and he also became licensed as a battalion truck driver. Billy’s membership in the battalion required that he be among the first soldiers to enter into enemy territory. In addition to the dangers of battle, there were also environmental dangers for those who were first to reach the Vietnamese coast. The members of the construction battalion had to negotiate the dense jungles and protect themselves, while building roads and raising tents. The heat, the terrain and the wildlife were all dangers to the battalion’s construction campaigns and the men’s well-being. This meant that Billy was in fact in harm’s way while serving in response to his draft letter.

After one tour in Vietnam, Billy requested a transfer into the data processing area. He was sent to Japan, where one of his duties was to prepare payroll for the entire seventh fleet! He was stationed there for three years and three months before returning to the United States. When he returned, he immediately noticed a commonly held sentiment that expressed not resentment, but merely disregard for returning soldiers. People didn’t care about the psychological or sometimes even physical condition of the returning veterans, and they didn’t want to hear of the hardship faced while in Vietnam. Billy remembers that he was treated differently after returning home. No one spoke to him about his experience in Japan or Vietnam.

After returning home, Billy was able to find a job, but it was only guaranteed for one year. So he enrolled in night school, where he was trained in Computer Engineering. After graduating, he got his first job working for ITT, where he stayed for ten years as a computer specialist. After working there, Billy began working for himself in the field of investment marketing, mortgage refinancing and insurance with Primerica Financial Services. As his salary grew, so did his professional merit, which has been recognized by a number of plaques that today line his room. Billy has also helped several former military with navigating the VA Benefit program, even giving seminars at his church. In all, his success has given him opportunities to see the world in a bright light, a dream he has had since before his enrollment in the United States Navy.

We honor you, Billy White.

(#Repost @AFRH)

SP5 Jesse Don Hennig

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JD Hennig joined at 22 , leaving a wife and baby. He wanted to make his father & country proud. He came home with honor having been awarded Army Commendation Medal by Gen. Westmoreland due to consequences of a visit to Nam by President Nixon, but he was spat upon at the airport. He had PTSD before it had a name but he worked at Texas Instruments in research and gathered more awards, night vision etc. He died from Agent Orange Cancer at 52. He is sorely missed. He had little formal education but worked side by side with PhDs and went to MIT to train PhDs in his technique in Silicon Growth for Black Box Projects. He remarried and has several grandchildren, he taught them all how to fish and sail. When JD was sedated he always called out names of his squad who didn’t come home. He felt guilty that he came home and not them. He loved his country to his death and they awarded him 100% disability before he passed. He made a difference in many lives, he is honored to this day. He is listed along with all the service people who have passed after the war due to causes of the war and was honored at The Wall in Washington in 2004 when his name was added to the “In Memorium Group” which is still growing.

We honor you, JD Hennig.

(#Repost @http://tcvvm.org/project/jesse-don-hennig/)

SGT Marcos A Lopez

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I arrived home one day after my classes at Edgewood High School in San Antonio, TX were over and it was then that the direction of my life changed forever. My mom was crying uncontrollably.  There, clinched in her hands was the telegram that my older brother, Sergeant (E-5) Isidoro “Lolo” Lopez, who had been the person I looked up to and who I considered my hero, had been wounded in Vietnam.  I could see the distraught look in my mother’s eyes. Somehow we got through that day. Subsequently, we learned that my brother was patched up and was sent back into the jungle to face more combat. “America needs me,” he gallantly told mom.

The love for my brother, along with following my father’s, Hilario Lopez, footsteps who had fought in World War II,  caused me to drop out of high school and join the Army at the age of 18.  During basic training, I was told I could not be sent to the combat zone because my brother was in country already and I could be considered the sole surviving son if he was killed. I was still resolved to go to Vietnam, so I volunteered.

After basic I got accepted to Airborne School in Fort Benning, Georgia but tower week became too much. Damn those chin-ups. After a couple of weeks I was being recycled but I decided not to go through the jump training again.  I then decided to volunteer to help train Army Rangers in Pensacola, Florida.  I thought if I could be involved in some way, I could get closer to Vietnam and hopefully see my brother. That’s how naïve I was. Each day, I waited anxiously for my orders.  Finally after several months the day came.  I landed in Cam Ron Bay, Vietnam in May 1968.   A few days later I was in Da Nang, and my new home became Quang Tri.  My MOS was infantryman 11 Bravo. I started as an RTO (radio transmitter operator) and carried a PRC-77 rucksack with c-rations, water, socks, and ammunition.

A month later I learned that my brother had been wounded again, this time more seriously. He was flown home due to the injuries so I was not going to see him here.  Now, on my own, I came to trust my new fellow soldiers, my buddies, in the First Calvary Division, attached to the 5th Infantry Division in Camp Red Devil (Charlie 1, Charlie 2 Firebase Camp).

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was within 10 miles from camp, too close for comfort even for me.  There we experienced several incoming fire fights and mortar fire. We would go out in combat patrol and face enemy ambushes that turned into fire fights. It was during my fifth fire fight on Oct 1, 1968 that I spotted Charlie and I reported it to my squad leader. All of a sudden, a fire fight broke out and a grenade exploded between my legs and I went down.  I had shrapnel wounds on both calves.  I was still fighting off the enemy until a buddy came out to drag me back to the platoon perimeter.   While I was being dragged I took a bullet to my left chest wall.  This is when I said “what the heck am I doing here…my brother is already back in the US and I am here…and now I am also wounded.”

The fire fight continued and night quickly approached.  We were waiting for a medi-vac chopper to carry 7 of us WIA’s and 4 KIA’s but the chopper couldn’t land due to enemy fire. I began to hallucinate and thought I heard the sound of the chopper’s engine. While we waited, my buddies reassured me by saying “You are going to be ok, just hang on”.  They took turns telling us this as they dug a hole with their bare hands to build a fire so the chopper could see where to land.   It was that fire glow that guided the pilot to find us.  Even in and out of consciousness, my heart was heavy leaving my buddies behind.  Being loaded into the chopper with the other wounded and casualties, I told by buddies, “I will come back to be with you.”  I am haunted sometimes by not being able to return.  The physical wounds healed, but my heart still hurts for my buddies who helped me on that day and the rest of the soldiers that remained to carry on the fight.

I was taken to Quang Tri field hospital. They treated my wounds and I was sent to two other hospitals in Vietnam before I was taken to Yokohama, Japan for more surgeries.  In November 1968, I arrived in a stretcher at Kelly AFB San Antonio, Texas, my hometown.    Only my mother, sisters and a few relatives were waiting for my arrival at the Beach Pavilion at Fort Sam Hospital where I recuperated.  After 7 long months after being wounded I was able to walk again using crutches. I thought myself lucky that I still had my legs.

Finally I got to go home to visit my mother.  Sitting in her kitchen was my brother Lolo in his Marine uniform.  For a minute, I thought I was in heaven.  But, it was really him. After starting this long tough journey to find my brother, we both made conversation filled with tears of sadness for each other and our fellow soldiers. We vowed to remain strong and live our lives to honor them. Both my brother and I still remain close today.

I remained in the US Army until 2007 and was assigned to various forts throughout the country. In 1996 until I retired I was attached to law enforcement and assigned to certain drug task forces in Texas.

Even today, the smell of gunpowder, the sounds of taps being played at burials, hearing the national anthem and reciting the pledge of allegiance have special meaning for me due to my Vietnam War experiences.

When Saigon fell, I thought “what were we fighting for?” understanding the high cost of lives lost and suffering inflicted on so many families. My innocence was gone but I did my duty. I want future generations to know that the freedoms we enjoy do not come free and even though they may join the military or not, to always be proud of those that serve their country and appreciate the real sacrifice and human tragedy that occurs with war.

We honor you, Marcos Lopez.

(#Repost @http://tcvvm.org/project/marcos-a-lopez/)

John Deer

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Abilene native John Deer grew up flying with his dad, a World War II Army Air Corps veteran. As a teenager on a car trip to Dallas, John passed by Fort Wolters near Mineral Wells, Texas, and took notice of the many helicopters populating the area’s big skies. How cool it would be to fly one of those, he thought.

In 1967, Deer enlisted in the Army so that he could apply for flight school, and it wasn’t long before he was at the stick of a UH-1 “Huey.” Like most helicopter pilots, he attended Primary Helicopter Training school at Fort Wolters, where, during the height of the Vietnam War, one of the world’s busiest airports was located.

In Vietnam, John was assigned to the 173rd Assault Helicopter Company, which was stationed in the woodsy area near Lai Khe, which the Americans called “Sherwood Forest.” In keeping with the name ascribed to its home base, Deer’s helicopter unit flew under the call sign “The Robin Hoods,” and painted the noses of their UH-1 aircraft with bright yellow caps.

Because of the rugged terrain, the lack of usable roads, and the need to move troops quickly to fluctuating battle sites, the U.S. military relied heavily on rotary aircraft in “The Helicopter War” in Vietnam. The Huey, built by Texas’ Bell Helicopter, was the most widely used, with more than 7,000 deployed. Deer flew “slick” missions, ferrying troops and supplies to battle zones. For the infantry on the ground, the Huey was a lifeline, and the signature whop-whop-whop of its single blade slapping the air is the soundtrack of their war. Dedicated to helping the men on the ground, Huey crews were known for their fearless commitment to a very dangerous duty.

Six months into his tour, just after he had turned 22, Deer was on a single-ship mission when his aircraft ran across an enemy bunker complex and was hit by 30 enemy rounds, one of which traveled through the Texan’s thigh and hip. The young soldier spent a year and a half in hospitals and rehabilitation. He wouldn’t fly again in Vietnam, but he would push himself to recovery, and come home to take to the air as a private helicopter pilot in San Antonio, where, among his other causes, he continues to do what he can to support medical and rehabilitative care for wounded warriors.

We honor you, John Deer.

(#Repost @http://tcvvm.org/project/john-deer/)