CPL John La Malfa

2017-10-31 La Malfa

I enlisted in the US Army in September of 1940 and served for one year before being discharged. Then in 1942 I was recalled by the Army and went to North Carolina for basic training. I was a Staff Sergeant who was first assigned to a Glider Unit and sent to New Guinea. Soon after, I was transferred to the 11th Airborne Division as a Paratrooper. In New Guinea I made two jumps behind enemy lines. My brother Mike, was also drafted and he served as an Engineer. We met while we were in New Guinea and spent a day together.

After leaving New Guinea, I was sent to the Philippines where I was in combat at one point for 102 consecutive days. There I also made two jumps behind enemy lines. In one jump, my parachute opened only 100 feet from the ground, and it felt as if I had landed like a sack of potatoes.

During the War, I was wounded in the arm by a shell fragment. My decision not to go to the hospital turned out to be a good one because the transport Jeep was unfortunately blown up after it had moved only 100 yards. In May 1945 I found out that my brother Mike was killed in action, shot down in a plane.

I fought in Okinawa where the fighting continued even after that War was over. I was awarded the Purple Heart Medal and the Bronze star for my wounds and missions. In November 1945, I was discharged after spending several months in Japan.

We honor you, John La Malfa.

(“Memories of World War II” By John La Malfa)

Cpl Robert G. Geisler, Jr.

2017-10-30 Geisler

Writing to his parents from Vietnam in 1966 and 1967, Marine Corps Corporal Robert G. Geisler, Jr., offered up all of the brutal details of his combat experiences, describing the high incidence of booby traps, mines, and casualties, and the impact that witnessing such violence has on his state of mind. His correspondence gives the sense of a very young man (he was 19 when he departed for Vietnam) who coped with the horrors of war by sharing them with his family. Despite all that he sees in country, his commentary also hints at a spirit that remains hopeful, such as when he describes the camaraderie between members of his unit. Eight weeks before he was scheduled to leave Vietnam, he was seriously wounded while on patrol; though he never saw combat again, he survived, and returned home to his family.

We honor you, Robert Geisler Jr.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)

Maj Clara C. Johnson

2017-10-29 Johnson

In 1950, Clara “Chris” Johnson was a theatrical designer with limited prospects when she decided that the Air Force would provide her with a steady income. Her initial impression of her female colleagues confirmed that she was going to be judged solely on her abilities and not on the color of her skin. “I was always impressed with my female colleagues in that I was the only person of color and they were readily accepting of me.”

She survived a rigorous stint at Officers Candidate School and a year in Vietnam, and got to retire at an age young enough to have a second career in academia.

We honor you, Clara Johnson.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)

LT Elaine Danforth Harmon

2017-10-28 Harmon

A life-long Marylander of 95 year, Elaine Danforth Harmon was a role model, patriot, and World War II veteran. Born in 1919, she was the daughter of  Dr. David Charles Danforth (a Baltimore dentist and professional baseball player with the 1914 Baltimore Orioles) and Margaret Oliphant Danforth (a homemaker). She distinguished herself early in life by earning a degree in bacteriology from the University of Maryland in 1940.

While an undergraduate, and in response to an ad in the school’s student newspaper, “The Diamondback,” Elaine applied for, and was accepted into, the Civilian Pilot Training program at the historic College Park Airport. She asked her father to sign the permission form because she knew her mother felt it would be “unlady-like” to be a pilot.

After earning her private pilot’s license and graduating from the University of Maryland, she became aware of a need for female pilots to join the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) to provide support for the war effort in 1943. Over 25,000 women nationwide responded, but only 1,830 were granted admission into the program. Ultimately, Elaine was one of the 1,074 women who successfully completed pilot training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. Thirty-eight of these brave women died in service to their country. The WASP were trailblazers by successfully breaking into the previously male dominated role of military pilots. In the many decades that have passed since the war, they have continued to be role models, and heroines, for aspiring young women across our nation.

During the 1970s, she was very proactive in working with the WASP organization, and Senator Barry Goldwater, to get the WASP contributions to World War II finally recognized with the award of an Honorable Discharge and GI benefits from the United States Air Force for the pilots. In more recent decades she remained active in WASP activities that resulted in the awarding, by an act of Congress, of the Congressional Gold Medal. Resulting from her leadership role in ongoing post-WWII activities, Elaine was invited to the White House Oval Office on two occasions, one with President George W. Bush, and the other with President Barack Obama.

We honor you, Elaine Harmon.

(#Repost @Maryland’s Women’s Hall of Fame)

 

1LT Alvin K. Dickson

2017-10-27 Dickson

He enlisted in 1942, and he fought in Europe in 1944 and 1945 as an Army lieutenant with a quartermaster truck company attached to the 11th Armored Division of Lt. General George Patton’s 3rd Army. Primarily assigned to deliver ammunition and gasoline to tanks on the battlefront, Lieutenant Dickson was wounded twice in December, 1944, but returned to his unit immediately after receiving medical care each time.

He said highlights of his combat experience included helping rescue a trapped infantry unit “under very heavy shellfire” in January, 1945, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star. Al was one of eight U.S. veterans of The Battle of the Bulge who received France’s highest distinction, the Order of Légion d’Honneur medal from Philippe Letrilliart, consul general of France, during the battle’s 70th anniversary award ceremony held in 2015 by the Boynton Veterans Council at Veterans Memorial Park in Boynton Beach, Florida.

Al was an honorable man, lifelong learner, and an eternal optimist. He took classes in computers, cell phones, and bridge to keep current well into his nineties. He had a great passion for life and a strong devotion to his friends, family and the Jewish faith. He was a longtime member of Temple Shomer Emunim in Toledo. He made everyone feel very special. He was an avid golfer, and enjoyed playing tennis, bridge and poker with his friends. He loved investing in the stock market, and was president of his investment group for decades. He also had a rich baritone singing voice and was a member of several vocal groups throughout his lifetime, and sang with a dance band in the 1930s. Al enjoyed traveling all over the world and loved to share photos of his adventures. He was a wonderful storyteller, and could retell every joke he ever heard. “Buckeye Al” loved Ohio State football and traveled to many of the championship games over the years.

We honor you, Alvin Dickson.

(#Repost @The Blade)

BG Gustav J. Braun, Jr.

2017-10-25 Braun

Gustav Braun Jr. served during the First World War and was recognized for his fearless service:

The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Gustav J. Braun, Captain, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Sergy, France, July 29-30, 1918.

No medical officer or first-aid man being present, Captain Braun, then first lieutenant and battalion liaison officer, established a first-aid station and worked throughout the day and night dressing the wounded. On both days he repeatedly went out himself in the most intense shell fire and carried wounded men to shelter. When the water supply was exhausted, he made several trips through neaby machine-gun fire and filled canteens at water holes and a creek in front of the line.

He remained in the military through World War II. General Gustav J. Braun Jr. was the Assistant Division Commander of the 34th Division at the time of his death in 1945 in combat in Italy. The 34th Division was a National Guard unit from Iowa. Braun had served in various staff positions within the 34th, including chief of staff and commander of the 133rd Regiment, a subordinate unit. The 34th Division had fought some of the fiercest battles in all of the war and at war’s end the division’s losses included 3,737 killed, 14,165 wounded and 3,450 missing in action.

The 34th Division had fought its way up the Italian peninsula and was in the the shadows of Monte Be Monte and its will entrenched German defenders. Elements of the 34th Division attacked the defenders, with limited success. The arrival of deep winter led to both sides digging in to wait for spring thaws. It was during this stalemate when Braun was killed. He was flying in a light aircraft on reconnaissance when it was shot down by enemy gunfire.

We honor you Gustav Braun Jr.

(#Repost@Arlingtoncemetery.net)

 

CAPT Paul J. Weitz

2017-10-25 Weitz

In this June 1973 photograph, Skylab 2 pilot Paul J. Weitz operates the control and display console of the Apollo Telescope Mount solar observatory. Weitz, along with Commander Pete Conrad and science-pilot Joe Kerwin successfully completed a 28-day mission aboard Skylab, which was the first crewed mission to the first U.S. space station. Launched aboard a modified Saturn V rocket on May 14, 1973, Skylab marked a new phase for American’s human spaceflight program, with the goal of staying in space for longer periods and conducting complex scientific experiments in the unique environment. The Skylab 2 mission lasted from May 25 to June 22, 1973.

Weitz received his commission as an Ensign through the Naval ROTC program at Penn State. He served for one year at sea aboard a destroyer before going to flight training and was awarded his aviator wings in September 1956. He served in various naval aircraft squadrons until he was selected as an astronaut in 1966. He retired as a captain of the U.S. Navy in 1976.

He logged 672 hours and 49 minutes in space aboard Skylab, including 2 hours and 11 minutes of spacewalk time. Mr. Weitz commanded STS-6, the first flight of Space Shuttle Challenger, which launched on April 4, 1983, and landed on April 9. The mission’s primary payload was the first Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, a new NASA satellite that would revolutionize low-Earth orbit communications forever. Mr. Weitz also served as Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center. He retired from NASA in 1994.

Paul Weitz passed away October 23, 2017. He was 85.

We honor you, Paul Weitz.

(#Repost @Nasa and @Wikipedia)