SPC Dane R. Balcon

2018-1-31 Balcon

SPC Dane R. Balcon was born on 27 April 1988, at Luke AFB Arizona, Dane Balcon was only 3 years old the day he told his mother he wanted to be a soldier.

In 2007, he enlisted in the Army as a Fire Support Specialist, following graduation from Sand Creek High School. He attended Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training with 2nd Platoon, Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery Regiment, at Fort Sill, OK. Upon graduation from AIT, SPC Balcon received his first assignment to 3rd Squadron 8th Cavalry Regt., 1st Cavalry Division, in Fort Hood, TX. He deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in Balad, Iraq on 7 July 2007 and on 5 September 2007 he completed his mission-doing what he loved doing -serving his country.

We honor you, Dane Balcon.

(#Repost @Dane Balcon Memorial Fund)

 

CSM William E. Vicars

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William Vicars spent 21 years in the Army to learn something about himself—that he was a born teacher. Vicars enlisted a year out of high school and did two tours of Vietnam. On his second tour, at the age of 29, he was called “The Old Man” by the recruits in his platoon. From an early career encounter with an officer named David Hackworth, Vicars had learned to watch out for the lowliest soldiers. He maintained tight discipline within his platoon, even as morale was disintegrating around him. After he retired from the Army in 1980, Vicars became a high school ROTC teacher in El Paso, where he grew up. He has thrived on giving young people a sense of purpose and discipline in their lives and is especially proud of turning around the lives of troubled youth.

We honor you, William Vicars.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)

BM1 Edgar A. Culbertson

2018-1-29 Culbertson

Born on October 13,1935, Edgar Culbertson left Lincoln High School in November 1952 to join the Coast Guard. He served on active military duty for 14 years. From 1952 to 1956, and 1958-1967 he was on active duty, and from 1956 to 1958 he was on reserve service. In early 1960, Edgar reenlisted in the United States Coast Guard and was stationed in Duluth, Minnesota.

It was during Edgar’s second enlistment period that tragedy struck. On April 30, 1967 during a major storm, he and two other guardsmen volunteered to go out and search for 3 missing brothers that were seen on a pier and it was reported that one of the brothers disappeared. During the search, a wave caught and swept Edgar off the pier. Edgar, at the age of 32, died in the rescue effort, and the three missing brothers’ bodies have never been found. Edgar A. Culbertson was posthumously awarded the Coast Guard medal for his bravery in the rescue attempt.

Edgar A. Culbertson during his service had received the National Defense Service medal with 1 bronze service star, the United Nations Service medal, the Korean Service medal, the Coast Guard Good Conduct with 2 bronze service star in 1956 and 1961, the Coast Guard Unit Commendation ribbon, and the Coast Guard medal.

We honor you, Edgar Culbertson.

(#Repost @Ferndale Historical Society)

 

1stLt Baldomero Lopez

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One of the Korean War’s most recognized images is that of a young Marine scaling a wall during the invasion of Inchon on Sept. 15, 1950.

Stepping over the seawall on the northern side of Red Beach, Marine Corps 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez is the picture of courage.

Lopez, the son of Spanish immigrants, grew up in Tampa, Florida, and enlisted in the Navy in 1943, but was soon tapped to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. He joined the Marines after graduation. Today, a picture of Lopez and a citation hang outside his academy room. Lopez’s actions immediately after the photograph at Inchon was taken are why his picture will always have a place of honor in that hallway.

Just a few months into the Korean War, Lopez and his platoon were engaged in the reduction of immediate enemy beach defenses after landing with the assault waves. Exposing himself to hostile fire, Lopez moved forward alongside a bunker and prepared to throw a hand grenade into the next pillbox from which fire was pinning down that sector of the beach.

Taken under fire by an enemy automatic weapon and hit in the right shoulder and chest as he lifted his arm to throw, Lopez fell backward and dropped the deadly grenade. After a moment, he turned and dragged his body forward in an effort to retrieve the grenade and throw it. In critical condition from pain and loss of blood, and unable to grasp the hand grenade firmly enough to hurl it, he chose to sacrifice himself rather than endanger the lives of his men, and with a sweeping motion of his wounded right arm, cradled the grenade under him and absorbed the full impact of the explosion. He did not survive the blast.

President Harry S. Truman presented the Medal of Honor posthumously to Lopez’s parents in a ceremony at the White House in 1951. Lopez is the only Hispanic-American graduate of the academy to receive the Medal of Honor.

We honor you, Baldomero Lopez.

(#Repost @DoD live)

PO2 Olivia J Hooker

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On Nov. 23, 1942, legislation approved the implementation of the United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve; the program known as SPAR – the acronym derived from the translations of the Coast Guard’s motto, ‘Semper Paratus, Always Ready’ – became the foundation for women in the Coast Guard today.

In February 1945, Olivia Hooker became one of the first African-American females admitted into the United States Coast Guard when she joined the service during World War II.

On March 9, 1945, Hooker headed to boot camp. She recalled waking up at 5 a.m. every day and exercising one hour before she ate. After breakfast, she and her shipmates had to polish the floors and accomplish any other chores required of them. The SPARs had to attend class and pass exams. Basic training was held in Manhattan Beach, N.Y., and lasted six weeks.

While Hooker was one of only five African American females to first enlist in the SPAR program, she never felt discouraged in her duties because of her color. Once, an admiral addressed Hooker in person and told her to come to him if she ever had problems. Hooker said that she was very glad to have made that kind of connection in the military.

Upon graduation from basic training, Hooker specialized in the yeoman rate and remained at the training center in Manhattan Beach for nine more weeks. Once she completed yeoman training, Hooker spent her entire service time stationed in Boston. Hooker worked in the separation center, typing discharges and doing paperwork.

In June 1946, the SPAR program was disbanded and Hooker earned the rank of petty officer 2nd class as well as a Good Conduct Award. Hooker said she was one of the last yeomen left in the office and she had to type up her own discharge.

Hooker went on to earn her master’s degree in psychological services from Teachers College at Columbia University, then received her doctorate as a school psychologist from the University of Rochester. Working as a professor in New York, Hooker had a remarkable career, finally retiring when she was 87 years old.

“I would like to see more of us realizing that our country needs us,” said Hooker. “I’d like to see more girls consider spending some time in the military. It’s a good idea to have people from different kinds of orientations and experiences because it’s amazing what you can do with a different point of view. The world would really prosper from more of that.”

Hooker’s long and unforgettable life gave her an appreciation for her fellow man and a dedication to her country. The impression she has left on our society and the amazing contributions she has made will never be forgotten.

We honor you, Olivia Hooker.

(#Repost @US Coast Guard)

SGT Robert “Bob” Teichgraeber

2018-1-26 Teichgraeber

Bob Teichgraeber was held as a prisoner of war for 421 days at various German prisons during World War II. Like many veterans of his era, Teichgraeber rarely spoke about his war experience.

Unlike his World War II comrades, however, Teichgraeber stashed an unusual photo in a drawer in his Collinsville, Ill., home for 72 years. “I thought there was a stigma about being a captive,” said Teichgraeber, 97, a longtime member of American Legion Post 365. “That’s the way it was. I wasn’t vocal about it.”

The photo depicts Teichgraeber in a British Army uniform after he was freed. While it was common for the British to provide whatever clothes were available to freed GIs, World War II historians say such photos are rare.

Teichgraeber was captured Feb 24, 1944, when his plane was hit while returning home from a bombing run. He fractured his right ankle when he parachuted out, landing in a farmer’s yard in Eppstein, Germany.

During captivity, the 5-foot-5 Teichgraeber went from 140 to 90 pounds. He survived the brutal 86-day hunger walk in the cold, snow, in addition to lice, fleas, dysentery and more. “We were young,” he says simply. “We endured it.”

One day while being held in an abandoned home surrounded by farmland, Teichgraeber and his friend, John Bulla were awakened suddenly. “About 5 o’clock in the morning, the door opened up — ‘You’re free!’” Teichgraeber recalls one British soldier yelling. “We went out and found some rifles and bayonets.”

Teichgraeber and Bulla shared some eggs and a single potato. As they relished their first hours of freedom, the war remained close by — at one point a German shell landed less than 100 meters away. They took refuge in an abandoned home. The Brits cleaned them up, giving them a shave, haircut and British uniform for clothing. Then they were flown to Belgium to reunite with American troops.

Since rediscovering the photo, Teichgraeber’s time as a POW has dominated his thoughts. “Every day I think about it,” he says, motioning to a table overflowing with documents, maps and more about his experience. “It’s prevalent now because of this stuff here. You can remember so much vividly, but yet you can’t remember a lot.”

We honor you, Robert Teichgraeber.

(#Repost @The American Legion)

LCDR Carlos Al Miller

2018-1-25 Miller

My late husband, LCDR Carlos Al Miller was fiercely loving and loyal to God, family, and country, and took pride in his heritage. Born into a military family, he dreamed of space and flying from his young childhood. He became and Eagle Boy Scout, and after graduating high school, entered the US Naval Academy in July 1976. We met the end of his plebe year. He eventually became the 13th Company’s Sub Commander, and went on to receive his Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering and USN Ensign Commissioning, 28 May 1980.

Carlos was sent first for temporary duty to NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX using his talents directing efforts toward the first orbital launch of the Nation’s Space Transportations System which became the first Space Shuttle. While there, he experienced Zero Gravity and became an honorary member of The Society of Interplanetary Free Floaters. He then went onto Naval Technical Training Center, Treasure Island, certifying as an Aviation Division Officer, 12 March 1982, San Diego and Moffett Field in CA and on to flight school at the Naval Technical Train Center, Corry Station, Pensacola, FL. He graduated with an Honors Graduate Certificate August 1982. Two weeks prior, we were married.

We honeymooned across country heading for Carlos’ first duty station at NAS VQ-1 Agana Guam, to Pilot the Navy’s P-3 reconnaissance aircraft.

On 23 January 1985, Carlos left behind the P-3, four propellered aircraft which he had just piloted Admirals around on, and unknown to me, was deadheading back on “a routine flight” to VQ-1 Agana, Guam from Atsugi, Japan with his Squadron CO. The CO was piloting the Navy jet VA – 3B PR 111 (nicknamed “Triple Sticks”), a modified VIP aircraft. As far as I knew Carlos had never flown in any A-3 Skywarrior jets, which were used on Aircraft Carriers. There were 9 men aboard. They were flying back in anticipating for a VQ-1 Safety Inspection with the Top Brass and Carlos and a few others on board were in the Safety department.

“January 23, 1985, the VA-3B disappeared from a radar tracking screen approximately 125 nautical miles north of Guam. The subsequent JAG investigation, completed in September, reported the Skywarrior took off from Atsugi at about 1000 Guam time. Twenty minutes later the crew contacted the VQ-1 detachment at Atsugi and reported an air turbine motor (ATM) was malfunctioning. The VA-3B continued on its course and stayed in radio contact with Navy officials, first on Iwo lima, and then on Guam. At 1230 Guam time the navigator reported the starboard ATM was shut down and the port one was heating up. Seventeen minutes later the aircrew requested permission to descend from 33,000 to 20,000 ft. Four minutes later, at 1251, radar contact was lost with the stricken aircraft. A massive air and sea search and rescue effort failed to locate any trace of the VA-3B or its crew and passengers.” (USNA Virtual Memorial Hall)

Though Carlos was lost, I am thankful for those who searched so diligently for him!!!

We honor you, Carlos Miller.

(Submission written by: Marrianne Memmott.)