Raised in an Anchorage orphanage, Roy Bailey was educated at a school for Alaskan natives until he was 15, when he went to work full time. At 17, he lied about his age to get into the Army and two years later, he found himself in the midst of the European Theater’s most intense fighting. Wounded and tangled up in wires, Bailey listened as many of his comrades died in the snowy woods. “The thing about being exceptionally happy that you are alive only lasts temporary, because all your buddies that you knew, a lot of them are still over there in graveyards.”
When he made it back to safety, no one would believe that his wounds were inflicted by the enemy. He was given belated recognition for his valor some 50 years later at a ceremony in Alaska attended by VIPs and his family.
We honor you, Roy Bailey.
(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)
Alex graduated for Clearfield High School in June of 1965 and enlisted in the US Army two months later. He went to Basic Training in Ft. Polk, Louisiana and then Combat Medic Training at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. He trained as Neuropsychiatric specialist and Brooke Army Medical Center Sand Antonio Texas. Alex received on the job training at Letterman Army Medical Center in San Francisco, California, followed by a 3 year station at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. in the Psych Department, NCOIC.
Alex took a 14 year break in service and then re-enlisted into the Utah National Guard 144th Evacuation Hospital where he worked through the ranks from Spec. 5 to Spec. 6, converted to Staff Sergeant.
During his service in the National Guard, Alex was deployed to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield, and remained there through Desert Storm and Desert Calm. As Chief Wardmaster, he was tasked with establishing a 400 bed hospital in 14 days, and was able to achieve it in 12 days!
Alex returned home in 1991 where he attended another Academy and was promoted to First Sergeant. Due to Reduction of Forces, he was transferred to the 625th Military Police as First Sergeant and went TDY to the Panama Canal to conduct a law and order mission.
He retired from the Utah National Guard in September 1999 and has since been involved with the American Legion for the past 12 years and held many leadership positions including 2nd Vice Commander, 1st Vice Commander, and Post Commander for Post 132 for 2 years. He was the 2nd Vice Commander, 1st Vice Commander and District Commander for 2 years for District 8. Alex is currently the Department of Utah Commander for the American Legion.
He is also a life member with the VFW, and has been involved with the Knights of Columbus and The Boy Scouts of America.
We honor you, Alex Aerts.
(Submission by: Ninzel Rasmuson)
Norma Gene Rambow was born in Indiana. On December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor was bombed. Norma was an eighteen year old freshman at Indiana State Teacher’s College and was very angry and wanted to take revenge. But she had to be twenty to join our women fighting forces. During her sophomore year, she was not able to join again due to a family emergency. On February 13, 1943, the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve was established and Norma was finally able to join. After being sworn in, she had to wait a few months and was called into active duty on November 15, 1943. When she arrived at Union Station in Washington, DC, Norma wondered what she had gotten herself into. Women in uniform were yelling “Fall In” to hundreds of us!
Norma had Boot Camp at Camp Lejeune, NC and this experience really put things in order for her. She felt truly alive living and working with girls from across this great country. The military routine was just what she needed. Battalion Reviews were exciting exercises, full of pomp and circumstances. Norma graduated in December 24, 1943. She had hoped to go to Photography School, but instead went to Cooks & Baker’s School. After training, she was assigned to Mess Hall 54 Battalion Area at Camp Lejeune. Norma was proud of her Corporal stripes and performed her duties in appreciation. She cooked, ground coffee, cleaned, etc. She served as an Assistant Cook, a Chief Cook, a Wing Sergeant (supervising the Mess girls) and later a Supply Sergeant. The friendships she enjoyed were a blessing. The military experience was a good one. On November 16, 1945, Norma had enough points for discharge.
The year 1946 determined Norma’s life for the next 53 years. In the summer of 1946, she was invited to spend time with her mother and her new family in Battle Creek, MI. Her mother had worked for Post Cereals during the war year, 1941 thru 1945. Norma worked in a neighborhood drug store, where she met a handsome young man. After they were married in April of 1947 they welcomed a son and later a daughter. In the summer of 1956, Norma took a couple of classes at Western Michigan University. She carpooled with teachers at a local school. In August, 1956, Norma got a call from a superintendent asking if she would be interested in teaching first grade in a two teacher building. That was when her 27 year career began with just two years of college training and a promise that she could continue her education. It was a real challenge for her parenting, but Norma had help from her husband and a very supportive neighbor. She did earn a B.S. degree and later a Masters. Norma felt that her experience in the classroom was going home. It gave her a very satisfying feeling that she was doing what she should be doing.
We honor you, Norma Rambow.
(#Repost @Armed Forces Retirement Home)
At the not-so-tender age of 42, businessman Alexander Standish joined the war effort, recruited by the Army Air Corps to interview pilots just returned from missions for intelligence information. He was old enough to be the father of many GIs he served with, but his experience and poise proved invaluable in intelligence work. After an uneventful stint in New York City on anti-submarine command, Standish was assigned to London, where D-Day preparations were underway. Nearby, in Bletchley Park, British intelligence was cracking the Enigma code used by the Germans. Standish followed General Omar Bradley across Europe, relaying to him the latest inside information. He worked with Generals Eisenhower and Bradley in planning the D-Day invasion and subsequent strategy for taking back Europe from the Nazis. British intelligence was able to decode German messages, whose contents were often passed directly to Standish to relay to Bradley. “[Eisenhower] said, ‘My job is to stage this invasion, as you know. Your job is to keep me informed.'”
We honor you, Alexander Standish.
(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)
Jorge Otero Barreto (born 7 April 1937), a.k.a. “the Puerto Rican Rambo”, is a retired United States Army soldier. He earned 38 military decorations during his career, and has been called the most decorated U.S. soldier of the Vietnam War. Due to his multiple awards he has received recognition from numerous organizations and has had buildings named after him. He is also the main subject of Brave Lords, a documentary which tells the story of the Puerto Rican experience in the war in Vietnam.
Otero Barreto was born in the town of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, the son of Eloy Otero-Bruno and Crispina Barreto-Torres. His father named him “Jorge”, Spanish for George, after George Washington whom Otero-Bruno admired. In Vega Baja, Otero Barreto received his primary and secondary education. He attended college for three years, studying biology until 1959 when he joined the U.S. Army. After his basic training, he attended the Army’s Air Assault School, graduating in 1960. He was the first Puerto Rican to graduate from the U.S. Army Air Assault School.
From 1961 to 1970, Otero Barreto served five tours in Southeast Asia, starting as an advisor who helped train Vietnamese troops. According to the documentary “Brave Lords”, Otero Barreto served in various military units during his military career. He served in the 101st Airborne Division and the 25th Infantry Division “Tropic Lightning”. He also served in the 82nd Airborne Division, an active airborne infantry division of the United States Army specializing in parachute landing operations and in the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. He participated in 200 combat missions, was wounded five times in combat, and was awarded 38 military decorations, making him “the most decorated soldier of the Vietnam War.” Among his many decorations are 3 Silver Stars, 5 Bronze Stars with Valor, 4 Army Commendation Medals, 5 Purple Hearts and 5 Air Medals (one each for every 5th mission which involved a helicopter).
Otero Barreto has been called “the most decorated Puerto Rican veteran,” and the news media and various organizations have called him “the most decorated soldier in the Vietnam War.” Whatever the case, Otero Barreto remains one of the most decorated Vietnam War veterans, and possibly the most decorated U.S. soldier in the Vietnam War living today.
We honor you, Otero Barreto.
Charles Tedesco was with the 313th Infantry Regiment, 79th Division during the storming of Omaha Beach and was injured on July 8, 1944. The following is an account of what happened in his own words:
“We were not the first to land on Omaha Beach – but soon after. There were like telephone polls in the water to stop landing crafts from landing, but holes were blasted. We landed on the beach and dug in – 88mm were coming down heavy like rain hitting all around. I had no idea not to touch them and burned my finger picking one up. There were bodies floating in the water all over. The bodies on the sand were stopping the tanks from coming forward. The medics would be cut down as soon as they went to help. So we were stuck. The Colonel orders them to run over our men in order to know out the German Artillery. I could see the men’s heads.
We advanced to Cherburg – hedge row after hedge row – to a wooded area. Another company was to the left of us and were attacked. We were dug in when they came in our area. Artillery came with them. I jumped up and a new guy jumped on my fox hole. I had no where to go and jumped on top of him. Then orders to move out. My hole mate said get off. I had a burning sensation on my back – couldn’t move.
He pushed me off him. All my company left. I was yelling medic but couldn’t move. They finally came back and got me. I had a shrapnel between my 3rd and 4th vertebrae and was paralyzed for about one year. I had 8 operations: 2 in England, but they couldn’t get it out so I was sent to New York then to Hammond General Hospital in California.
I have no feeling on my left leg down to my toes. This was very hard for me to write as I have never told anyone about it.”
We honor you, Charles Tedesco.
(#Repost @National Purple Heart Roll of Honor)
Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen, or, “The Berlin Candy Bomber” served as a catalyst for this operation. As America geared up for the looming world war, Halvorsen was awestruck with the planes he saw flying while he labored on his father’s sugar beet farm in Tremonton, Utah. With a dream for flight, Halvorsen applied for and was accepted into a pilot-training program. The attack on Pearl Harbor prompted him to join the Army Air Corps, and he trained on fighters with the Royal Air Force. Reassigned to military transport service, Halvorsen remained in the service at war’s end. He was flying C-74 Globemasters and C-54 Skymasters out of Mobile, AL, when word came in June 1948 that the Soviet Union had blockaded West Berlin.
During the 15-month airlift (Operation Vittles), American and British pilots delivered more than 2 million tons of supplies to the city. But it was Halvorsen’s decision to airdrop candy to children (Operation Little Vittles) that clinched an ideological battle and earned him the lasting affection of a free West Berlin. Today, Halvorsen is affectionately known by Berliners and many around the world as as the Candy bomber (“Rosinenbomber”), Uncle Wiggly Wings (“Onkel Wackelflugel”) and the Chocolate Pilot.
As an aside, I had the privilege of being honored with Gail at the Utah State Capitol for the Cold War Victory Medal on August 29, 2017. Gail’s first reaction when this photo was taken as his signature was to do a “thumbs up!” So, that’s what we did!
We honor you, Gail Halvorsen.
(Submission by: Ninzel Rasmuson and #Repost @wigglywings)