1LT Thomas Martin

2018-3-30 Martin

First Lieutenant Thomas Martin died during combat operations October 14, 2007, while serving his country in Iraq.

Tom was born October 10, 1980, in Huron, South Dakota. He left South Dakota as a very young boy, went to school for a short time in San Marcos, Texas, and then graduated from high school in Cabot, Arkansas in 1998. That same year he enlisted in the United States Army completing Basic Training and AIT as a Field Artilleryman at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In 2000, after an assignment to Camp Stanley in Korea, Tom was accepted for admission to the United States Military Academy. After attending the United States Military Preparatory School, Tom entered West Point in the fall of 2001. As a West Point Cadet, Tom started on the Rugby team, was a member of the Military Tactics Team, and earned his Parachutist Badge by graduating from Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Tom majored in Military Science and graduated with his class in May 2005. He was commissioned as an Armor Officer and completed the Armor Officer Basic Course at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Tom volunteered for Ranger School and graduated earning his Ranger tab in May 2006. He reported to the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Richardson, Alaska in June 2006. Upon arrival, Tom was assigned as the Sniper Platoon Leader in Crusader Troop and deployed with the unit in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in October 2006.

He will forever be remembered as a man with undaunted determination who was fiercely dedicated to his men, his mission, and his country.

We honor you, Thomas Martin.

(#Repost @Pritzker Military Museum & Library)

GySgt Keith Renstrom

2018-3-29 Renstrom

A native of Huntsville, Utah, Keith Renstrom grew up on a farm during the Great Depression. Feeling the need to follow in his father’s footsteps and serve his country, Renstrom joined the United States Marine Corps in 1940. After his recruit training in San Diego, Renstrom was deployed to Iceland, where he stayed for several months in preparation for a possible German invasion. Keith was sent back to the United States for additional training and in 1943 was assigned as a Gunnery Sergeant to F Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment as part of the 4th Marine Division.

Keith and the 4th Marine Division shipped out from California in January 1944 bound for their first combat on the islands of the Kwajalein atoll. Following the short and vicious campaign on Kwajalein, Renstrom was sent to Maui for rest and refit before entering combat again in June 1944 on the island of Saipan. On Saipan, Renstrom experienced his first taste of truly heavy combat. Renstrom’s unit pushed eastward from the landing beaches, capturing Aslito airfield and engaging the enemy along the eastern side of the island at places like Hill 500, Donnay, Hill 721 and finally Marpi Point. It was at Marpi that Renstrom watched as hundreds of civilians plunged to their own deaths after throwing themselves from the cliffs to the jagged rocks below. Following the campaign on Saipan, Renstrom and his unit landed on Tinian and proceeded along the western side of the island capturing the airfields and Tinian Town by the end of July, sustaining a leg wound in the process.

Following action in the Marianas, Renstrom and the 4th Marine Division were sent back to Hawai’i for rest and refit before their final battle of the war, Iwo Jima. Landing on February 19, Renstrom stayed on Iwo Jima for eleven days of constant combat, before his luck ran out. Renstrom was evacuated from Iwo, having suffered wounds from a Japanese grenade that exploded in his face, putting him out of combat. For the remainder of the war he served as a Drill Instructor in San Diego, instilling the lessons he learned in combat to future Marines.

We honor you, Keith Renstrom.

(Submission by: Ninzel Rasmuson. #Repost @WWII National History Museum)

MSG Roy P Benavidez

2018-3-29 Benevidas

Today, I am remembering and honoring my dad on National Medal of Honor Day. The Medal of Honor is our nation’s highest award given in the military. It is EARNED, not won.

My dad was often asked if he would do it all over again and his answer was always this, “There will never be enough paper to print the money or enough gold in Fort Knox for me to have, to keep me from doing what I did. I’m proud to be an American and even prouder that I earned the privilege to wear the Green Beret. I live by the motto: Duty, Honor, Country.”

Thank YOU, to all who served and continue to serve. YOU are what makes America great! My dad stood along side you, and kneeled for the cross.

His Medal of Honor official citation reads:

“On the morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence information about confirmed large-scale enemy activity. This area was controlled and routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army. After a short period of time on the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested emergency extraction. Three helicopters attempted extraction, but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant Benavidez was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters returned to off-load wounded crewmembers and to assess aircraft damage.

Sergeant Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter, and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team. Prior to reaching the team’s position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members.

He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft to the team’s position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining team members. As the enemy’s fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified documents on the dead team leader. When he reached the leader’s body, Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter.

Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, re-instilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant Benavidez mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy’s fire and so permit another extraction attempt. He was wounded again in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter was able to land. His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft.

On his second trip with the wounded, he was clubbed from additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary. He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter. Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and to bring in the remaining wounded.

Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft. Sergeant Benavidez’ gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.”

We honor you, Roy Benavidez.

(Submission by: Miah Parry. Written by: Yvette Benavidez Garcia. #Repost @Hall of Valor)

 

PhM3c John Andrew Haskins

2018-3-27 Haskins

Sailors at the Port Chicago Magazine, circa 1944.

Located on the southern banks of Suisun Bay, just over six miles outside of Martinez, California, Port Chicago was one of the Navy’s busiest and most vital munitions magazines during the Second World War.  Each day, tons of munitions destined for the Pacific Theater were received in Port Chicago by rail and packed aboard ships moored pierside.

This was grinding and hazardous duty for the Sailors attached to the ordnance battalions at Port Chicago, most of who were African-Americans in a still segregated Navy. And this danger would be realized in the summer of 1944.

At about 10:18 p.m. on July 17, 1944 disaster struck the naval magazine when more than 4,600 tons of high explosive and incendiary bombs, depth charges, and ammunition ignited.  Instantly the night sky was lit up by a succession of orange and red flashes set to earth rattling, cacophonous booms.

Five miles away one individual reported that the resulting concussion pushed his car over to the “wrong side of the highway” batting him around like a toy. Twenty miles away a massive fireball could be seen rising upwards of 12,000 feet leading many in neighboring towns to think that the Japanese Navy had executed a second surprise attack on American soil. Seismic shocks could be felt some 576 miles away in Boulder City, Nevada.

At the time of the blast, Pharmacist’s Mate Third Class John Andrew Haskins, Jr., was based at the nearby Naval Ammunition Depot in Mare Island, California. The 21-year old Sailor from Alexandria, Virginia, had only enlisted a year earlier and was part of the first class of African- American hospital corpsmen to serve in World War II.

Haskins would be among the first responders to see the devastated remains of Port Chicago. It was said that upon his arrival, Haskins “immediately” and “unhesitatingly” rushed through the dangerous gasses and flaming ammunition box cars seeking out survivors, providing first aid and, as it was later reported, “working tirelessly and with cool courage in bringing the flames under control” while minimizing any further loss of life.

With more than 320 reported deaths, the incident at Port Chicago would go down as one of the deadliest events in naval history. Today, a National Historic Memorial marks the site of the old naval magazine memorializing the many lives lost that day. For his actions, Haskins was bestowed the Navy and Marine Corps Medal in October 1944, becoming the first African-American hospital corpsman to be honored for a wartime act of heroism.

Haskins would continue to serve in the Navy until 1946, two years before the service was finally desegregated. Dying prematurely in his hometown of Alexandria on March 12, 1969 at the age of 47, Haskins would be survived by his wife and daughter. He was laid to rest at Coleman Cemetery in Fort Hunt, Virginia.

Sgt Walter “Wally” Morgan Bryant

2018-3-27 Bryant

Wally Bryant, August 1992, helping a total stranger remove a tree from his home after Hurricane Andrew, Homestead, FL.

During the mid-1960’s, Wally Bryant, fresh out of Seacrest High School, Delray Beach, FL, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.  He was sent to Vietnam as so many others before and after him were ordered.  He would remain in that combat zone for two tours.
Sgt. Bryant was committed to whatever duty to which he was assigned.  His courage and physique made him a sure candidate for entering the Viet Cong tunnels.  His integrity was never in question while in Intelligence.
Bryant’s ‘esprit de corps’ and responsibility to never leaving a man behind saved lives while he served aboard an unarmed Medevac.  The story of the Sgt. going back under fire to retrieve what was thought to be a dead Marine is well known in his hometown, for the man recovered and became a fireman.
Sgt. Bryant has retained his Southern, chivalrous demeanor and commendable character to anyone in need – friend or stranger alike.  He is a wonderful example of righteous upbringing and military discipline.  Someone that anyone would be proud to call – Friend.
When my own son was killed while serving in the Marines. Wally bent the pin from his own dress cap emblem and gave it to me.  He explained that was an act his unit in Vietnam did for the families of fellow fallen Marines.  I wear that emblem around my neck to this day – not only for my son, but for all those who can no longer wear their own.
Thank you, Wally, for everything!
We honor you, Walter Bryant.
(Submission written by: GP Cox)

WASP Marie “Deanie” Bishop Parrish

2018-3-26 Parrish

Born and raised in Florida, Marie Deanie Bishop grew up with a determination to prove herself. On her twenty-first birthday Deanie, who had learned to fly, reached the age requirement for admission to the WASP program and applied that day.

After acceptance, Deanie reported to Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, on November 1,1943, where she began training. As a member of class 44-w-4, she was one of the first women pilots to go from primary training directly to advanced training, bypassing the basic training level. After the women successfully made that training change, skipping the intermediate “basic” level, all pilot training in the Army Air-force implemented this system.

Following graduation from flight school, Deanie was sent to Greenville Army Air Base in Greenville, Mississippi, where she was one of three WASPs on base. As an engineering test pilot, she tested and repaired new aircraft to be re-released for instructors and cadets in training. At Greenville she test-flew a twin-engine aircraft for the first time.

Because of her success in flying twin-engine aircraft, Deanie was soon selected for the B-26 Flexible Gunnery School at Tyndall Army Air-force Base in Florida. She was one of eight women pilots to pass all training tests flying the difficult B-26 Martin Marauder. One of her duties was to hold the B-26 in a flight pattern while B-24s would fly by with gunners shooting live ammunition at the sleeve target towed by the B-26. The training was crucial to prepare gunners for combat. Deanie was stationed at Tyndall for the remainder of her time as a WASP.

After the WASP disbanded on December 20,1944, Deanie continued to work in base operations as an aircraft dispatcher. She later went to Langley Air Force Base where a civil service position as chief aircraft dispatcher in base operations was created for her. In 1946 Deanie married Bill Parrish, a B-24 pilot from Tyndall Air Force Base, and she accompanied him when his orders sent him to Panama. There she became private secretary for the director of operations for the 6th Air Force.

After the war, she returned to school and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of science degree from the University of Houston. She served as national secretary of the National WASP Organization and chair of the WASP Steering Committee for the National WASP World War II Museum. As associate director and primary interviewer for Wings Across America, a project to document and educate others on the history of the WASP, she recorded over 103 interviews with WASPs, preserving the history of the first American women to fly military aircraft.

We honor you, Deanie Parrish.

(#Repost @What-How-When)

SP5 James McCloughan

2018-3-25 McCloughan

McCloughan spent his childhood in Bangor, Michigan, where his parents moved to take over a family farm. It was there that he found his passion for sports and music. The consummate athlete, McCloughan was a four-sport varsity athlete at Bangor High School and went on to wrestle, play football and baseball at Olivet College. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and a teaching certificate in 1968, McCloughan accepted a teaching and coaching position with South Haven Public Schools in Michigan. Three months later, McCloughan was drafted into the Army at the age of 22.

McCloughan reported to basic training in September 1968 at Fort Knox, Kentucky. His training in athletics and coaching gave him a foundational knowledge of sports medicine, and his leaders took notice. Two months after arriving at basic training, he was assigned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to complete advanced training as a medical specialist. On his last day of training, McCloughan received deployment orders to Vietnam. He was assigned as a combat medic with Company C, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. His Vietnam tour was from March 1969 to March 1970.

The company air assaulted into an area near Tam Ky and Nui Yon Hill. On 13 May, with complete disregard for his life, he ran 100 meters in an open field through heavy fire to rescue a comrade too injured to move and carried him to safety. That same day, 2nd Platoon was ordered to search the area near Nui Yon Hill when the platoon was ambushed by a large North Vietnamese Army force and sustained heavy casualties. With complete disregard for his life and personal safety, Private First Class McCloughan led two Americans into the safety of a trench while being wounded by shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade. He ignored a direct order to stay back, and braved an enemy assault while moving into the “kill zone” on four more occasions to extract wounded comrades. He treated the injured, prepared the evacuation, and though bleeding heavily from shrapnel wounds on his head and entire body, refused evacuation to safety in order to remain at the battle site with his fellow soldiers who were heavily outnumbered by the North Vietnamese Army forces.

On 14 May, the platoon was again ordered to move out towards Nui Yon Hill. Private First Class McCloughan was wounded a second time by small arms fire and shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade while rendering aid to two soldiers in an open rice paddy. In the final phases of the attack, two companies from 2nd North Vietnamese Army Division and an element of 700 soldiers from a Viet Cong regiment descended upon Charlie Company’s position on three sides. Private First Class McCloughan, again with complete disregard for his life, went into the crossfire numerous times throughout the battle to extract the wounded soldiers, while also fighting the enemy. His relentless and courageous actions inspired and motivated his comrades to fight for their survival. When supplies ran low, Private First Class McCloughan volunteered to hold a blinking strobe light in an open area as a marker for a nighttime re-supply drop. He remained steadfast while bullets landed all around him and rocket-propelled grenades flew over his prone, exposed body. During the morning darkness of 15 May, Private First Class McCloughan knocked out a rocket-propelled grenade position with a grenade, fought and eliminated enemy soldiers, treated numerous casualties, kept two critically-wounded soldiers alive through the night, and organized the dead and wounded for evacuation at daylight. His timely and courageous actions were instrumental in saving the lives of his fellow soldiers. Private First Class McCloughan’s personal heroism, professional competence, and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Americal Division, and the United States Army.

We honor you, James McCloughan.

(#Repost @US Army and Hall of Valor)