Col Edward “Eddie” Rickenbacker

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Eddie Rickenbacker was a WWI world-famous pilot and war hero. He also drove a race car and was very skilled. During WWII, “Eddie was off in a B-17 bomber plane” and had planned to go to Hawaii with his crew: Hans Adamson, Bill Cherry, Jim Whittaker, John Deangelis, James Reynolds, Alex Kaczmarczyk, and Johnny Bartek. While flying, the B-17 went down and crashed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They immediately got in the rafts and rowed away. On the way, they found out no one had grabbed the food. After weeks without food (except for 4 oranges) they made a fishing pole and after two times, they caught a big fish and gladly ate. They were planning to go to Fiji.

A few days later Alex died mumbling in his sleep after drinking too much sea water. A few days later, they caught sound of a plane. “then out of the blue sky came an American rescue plane looking for them.” After two days they were sighted but it was not known how to get them out of the water. But then the plane came down and took one of the crew into the plane. The next day they made it to an island and were welcomed by people on America’s side. They were soon taken to a hospital in Hawaii.

We honor you, Edward Rickenbacker.

(Submission written by: Adin Parry, 9 years old. Source: Lost in the Pacific, 1942 by Tod Olson)

SPC Karen Irene Offutt

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In the late 1960s, Karen Offutt was a teenager and considered herself very patriotic. She got chills whenever she heard “The Star-Spangled Banner.” At 18, she dropped out of nursing school and enlisted in the Army and was deployed to Vietnam.

“I felt real proud to have the uniform on,” Offutt, 68, told her 42-year-old daughter Kristin Glasgow at StoryCorps. “I was an executive stenographer. I had top secret ‘eyes only’ clearance. And a lot of times they would call me in the middle of the night to come in — if we were gonna do an airstrike on a certain village,” Offutt says.

But she also experienced degrading treatment as a woman in the Army. “I had to look ‘cutie,’ you know, with my hair and my lipstick or whatever — and serve tea,” she tells her daughter. “Whatever was needed to be done I did it. Including having to pose as a ‘Bunker Bunny.’ ” Offutt says she had to do what she was told, “or you didn’t last long in the service.”

As a woman, she also didn’t get the same recognition that a man would get for helping save lives. Karen Offutt was awarded a Certificate of Achievement for her heroic acts in Vietnam in 1970. It wasn’t until 2001 that she was awarded a Soldier’s Medal for Valor.

The citation for her medal records the event as follows: “Observing a fire in Vietnamese dwellings near her quarters, she hurried to the scene to provide assistance. Without regard for her personal safety and in great danger of serious injury or death from smoke, flames, and falling debris, she assisted in rescuing several adults and children from the burning structures. Without protective clothing or shoes she repeatedly entered the buildings to lead children that had reentered their homes to safety. She continued to assist the Vietnamese residents in removing personal property and livestock, although danger increased until fire-fighting equipment and personnel arrived.”

Offutt says she went to the Moving Wall, the traveling half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, in 1986. “I remember standing there, staring at those names because I knew some of those guys on the wall. This man came up and put his arm around me and he said, ‘Welcome home, sister.’ And I just started bawling because nobody had ever welcomed me home.”

We honor you, Karen Offutt.

(Submission by Ninzel Rasmuson. #Repost @Hall of Valor and @npr storycorps)

SFC Kenneth W. Westbrook

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Army Sergeant First Class Kenneth W. Westbrook was looking forward to retiring from the military in November, a long-cherished milestone that would allow him to spend more time with his wife and three sons. Then came the call to Afghanistan and one final tour of duty. With U.S. casualties mounting in the war-torn region, the dangers were evident. Yet Westbrook didn’t hesitate.

“They called him up and he said, ‘Of course I’ll go,’” related his brother, David Westbrook, 50, of Farmington, N.M., in a phone call Sunday night. “He was a strong believer in the job he was doing for our country.”

About two months from retirement, the 41-year-old Westbrook found himself in a fierce battle Sept. 8 during which he was gravely wounded when insurgents attacked his unit in the Ganjigal Valley of Afghanistan. The insurgents used small arms and indirect fire, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Westbrook, who was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, died from his wounds Wednesday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. His brother, Sergeant Marshall A. Westbrook, of the 126th Military Police Company of the New Mexico Army National Guard, died at age 43 on Oct. 1, 2005, when a bomb exploded near his Humvee in Baghdad, Iraq.

We honor you, Kenneth Westbrook.

(#Repost @Fallen Heroes Project)

SGT Marshall A. Westbrook

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Before Marshall A. Westbrook was deployed to Iraq, he installed a new door on his family’s home. It was the start of many home improvement projects he wanted to get done. Recently, about 20 community volunteers from at least eight local businesses, including the Public Service Company of New Mexico, where Westbrook worked as an environmental process operator, picked up hammers and other tools and picked up where Westbrook left off. “He worked for us for 23 years. This is the least we could do,” said Dick Goeden, who worked with Westbrook at PNM. “The house definitely needed some repairs.”

“He was a gentle giant,” said Sergeant First Class Arthur Garcia, who has known Westbrook in and out of the military for about 15 years. “He had a soft voice. He was a good guy, and he will be sorely missed.”

Westbrook was a member of the Albuquerque-based 126th Military Police Company. He died on the morning of Oct. 1 in Baghdad after being struck in the head by shrapnel from an explosive device.

“He loved his family. He loved his soldiers. This gentle giant, Sergeant Allen Westbrook, will rest in peace,” Brigadier General Kenny Montoya said. Westbrook, born July 25, 1962 at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., was married and the father of five children.

We honor you, Marshall Westbrook.

(#Repost @Fallen Heroes Project)

SGT Arthur Thomas Robb Jr.

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In 1917-1918, Mr. Robb served in France as a sergeant with the 308th Infantry. He was severely gassed during the Oise Marne offensive on August 28, 1918 and spent five weeks in the hospital at Tours before returning to his infantry company on October 17, 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne offensive.

We honor you, Arthur Robb Jr.

(#Repost @National Purple Heart Hall of Honor)

RDML Burton Hale Shepherd

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Rear Admiral Burton H. Shepherd, who during his military career, as a commander, was strike leader of Attack Carrier Air Wing 16.

Oct. 26, 1967, 18 aircrafts set out on a mission to destroy a heavily defended thermal power plant in Hanoi. For this and other acts of bravery during this mission, Shepherd received the Navy Cross.

That citation was read at Monday’s Glenmoor salute by Shepherd’s son, Michael, a resident of Ponte Vedra Beach. In part, it states: “After proceeding expeditiously to the coast to refuel, Commander Shepherd returned to an area south of the target to search for one of his missing strike pilots. Continuing the search for over an hour over enemy terrain in the face of the most concentrated enemy fire in North Vietnam, he finally returned to the coast after reaching a low fuel state.”

The missing pilot who had been shot down was John McCain, now a U.S. senator.

We honor you, Burton Shepherd.

(#Repost @The St. Augustine Record)

1LT Diana J. Ramsey

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Diana J. Ramsey was born on June 21, 1945 in Kingston, Jamaica prior to the island’s independence from the United Kingdom. In 1955, at the age of 10, her family immigrated to the United States so that the kids could receive a good education. They relocated to Connecticut, joining family already established there. The education Ms. Ramsey recieved was part of the reason she was compelled to go to school to be a Nurse. In 1963, she graduated high school and enrolled in the Nursing Program at St. Francis College in New York. After completion of the program, she joined the Army–following in the footsteps family that served in the British Military, and an older sister who had already joined the U. S. Army.

Ms. Ramsey reported to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, for Basic Officer Training in 1966. Upon completion of Basic, she was assigned to Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco for Advanced Operating Room Nurse Training. While she was slated to be stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas, after that training, she was actually mobilized to the 67th EVAC Hospital in Qui Nhon, Vietnam as an Operating Room Nurse in 1967.

During her time there, Lt. Ramsey was promoted to the Assistant Head Operating Room Nurse. She also assisted the 67th EVAC Hospital in Pleiku, Vietnam. In the OR, she assisted in countless surgeries for the causalities that were brought to the Hospital, tending to wounds sustained in battle.

After Vietnam, she was transferred to the Army Hospital at Fort Belvoir, VA, where she worked as a Nurse at the Pediatric Unit before being discharged from the Army in 1968. In 1969, she married her husband, who she met while stationed at Qui Nhon. Her husband was one of the Anesthesiologists based there as well. They settled in Kansas City, MS, where he completed his OB/GYN residency and she continued to work as an Operating Room Nurse. They would later settle permanently in the Houston, Texas area, were she would continue to work in the Operating Room and assist her husband in his OB/GYN practice. She used the skills she learned in the most extreme of environments to ccontinue to show the compassion for her patients at the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

We honor you, Diana Ramsey.

(#Repost @Pritzker Military Museum & Library)