PVT Satsuki “Fred” Tanakatsubo

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Mr. Tanakatsubo was born on April 26th, 1920, in Sacramento, California. In his interview, he shares what is was like to grow up in the face of discrimination as a Japanese-American.

Growing up as a Japanese-American, money was always tight. Mr. Tanakatsubo explains the struggles of working long hours in a laundry mat just to make ends meet. Eventually, he managed to land a job with civil services after being turned down seven times. The discrimination against Oriental people during that time was harsh, but Mr. Tanakatsubo and his peers were taught to “turn the other cheek” and learned to go out and have fun in their community.

Figuring he would eventually be drafted, Mr. Tanakatsubo decided to enlist in the army in 1941 at 21-years-old. However, once the war broke out—and specifically once the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred—he and many other Japanese-Americans were stripped of their weapons and pulled from their units. Soon after, Mr. Tanakatsubo was shipped to Camp Savage and forced into Military Intelligence training.

He explains how life at these camps was exhausting. If he was not forced into cleaning or physical work, he was trapped in a classroom and forced to study Japanese. Being pushed around made him rebel and challenged his dedication. He did enough to get by, but he refused to go above and beyond for those who mistreated him, often leading those that would question the way that they were being treated.

Six months later, Mr. Tanakatsubo was shipped overseas. His furlough request to see his father before he shipped out was denied, and his father passe away in a Japanese internment camp while Mr. Tanakatsubo was in Australia. After much soul searching, Mr. Tanakatsubo requested a transfer to the frontlines, acting as an interrogator for prisoners. With this job, he was able to gather important information that gave those in direct combat a heads up for what was to come.

Mr. Tanakatsubo explains how devastating it was to come back to California after his service without a home or family to return to. His father was dead, and it was difficult to track down his brothers. Eventually, he began trade school for dental work in Cleveland, and started working nights as a typist for the United States Treasury. Although it was exhausting, all his hard work paid off. He met his wife in Cleveland, and together they had three sons.

Grateful for everyone that served or serves, Mr. Tanakatsubo does not seek praise for his sacrifice because he sees his service as his duty—something that he had to do. He likes to share his story because he thinks it is important for people to open their minds and learn. As he reflects on his life struggles, he takes it all with grace because he knows he worked hard to ensure that his children would not have to face the same discrimination he did.

Mr. Tanakatsubo passed away on May 20, 2016.

We honor you, Satsuki Tanakatsubo.

(#Repost @Pritzker Military Museum & Library)

SSG Kenneth Bentz

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For someone who modestly admits he did “nothing special” while serving in Korea, Kenneth Bentz offers an informative and entertaining look at the life of an Army clerk in wartime. Drafted six months after the start of the war, Bentz did not ship out with the men he had trained with and went over on his own. His voyage took so long that there were letters waiting for him when he arrived in country. His three sisters were good to him, sending him everything from cookies to a camera to a cot. He was stationed for time in Chip Yong Ni, where one of the big battles of the war had already been fought and where he contracted malaria. He typed, did personnel work, and occasionally pulled guard duty, thankful he wasn’t carrying a weapon out in the field. His tour of duty was extended by one week: He agreed to interview outgoing GIs in Japan for a ticket on an airplane back instead of passage on a ship.

We honor you, Kenneth Bentz.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)

 

TSgt John “Chappy” Chapman

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John A. Chapman was born on July 14, 1965 in Massachusetts but spent most of his young life in Connecticut, graduating from Windsor Locks High School in 1983. At the age of 20, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, as an Information Systems Operator. He later volunteered to be a Combat Controller, where he was tasked to solve air and ground problems in different conflict and crisis situations.

He had assignments stationed in Colorado, North Carolina, and Okinawa where he became an expert in reconnaissance operations, air traffic control, and terminal attack control operations. In addition to his mental agility, he has had also mastered the physical demands of combat as an experienced static line and military free fall jumper, combat diver, and earned jumpmaster and dive supervisor qualifications.

He was then selected for a special duty assignment with the 24th Special Tactics Squadron. As a team leader, he worked with personnel training them for their roles as special tactics operators, prepared them to conduct precision strike, personnel recovery, and special operations missions around the world. While deployed, Sergeant Chapman directed close air support aircraft, delivering destructive ordnance on enemy targets in non-permissive environments.

On March 4, 2002, Sergeant John A. Chapman was in Afghanistan as part of Operation Anaconda. Sergeant Chapman’s helicopter was hit with heavy fire from al Qaeda, one member of the team, Neil Roberts, fell from the back of the aircraft, and the helicopter ended up crash landing in a valley below the Takur Ghar mountain. Sergeant Chapman and the rest of the special operations team, including fellow Medal of Honor recipient Britt Slabinksi, volunteered to return to the enemy filled, snowy mountaintop in an attempt to rescue their fallen teammate.

Sergeant Chapman charged into the enemy forces seizing their bunker and killing the forces inside. He then moved from the bunker, completely revealing himself, to engage an enemy machinegun firing at his team. It was at this point he was severely injured, presumed dead, and his teammates evacuated the mountaintop. Chapman regained consciousness and continued to fight, engaging with multiple enemy forces before making the ultimate sacrifice.

“Tech. Sgt. John Chapman earned America’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor, for the actions he performed to save fellow Americans on a mountain in Afghanistan more than 16 years ago,” Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said in a statement. “He will forever be an example of what it means to be one of America’s best and bravest Airmen.”

On August 9, 2018, the Air Force released overhead footage of the final moments of Tech Sgt. John Chapman’s heroic life. This is the first Medal of Honor to be awarded using surveillance footage rather than eye witness accounts.

“Chappy” as his teammates called him, was always a team oriented and humble man. Chappy’s commander at the time of his final actions had this to say

“John was always selfless – it didn’t just emerge on Takur Ghar – he had always been selfless and highly competent, and thank God for all those qualities,” said retired Air Force Col. Ken Rodriguez, Chapman’s commander at the time. “He could have hunkered down in the bunker and waited for the (Quick Reaction Force) and (Combat Search and Rescue) team to come in, but he assessed the situation and selflessly gave his life for them.”

Technical Sgt. John Chapman [was] posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the White House on August 22, 2018. President Donald Trump [presented] the Medal to Chapman’s wife, Valerie Nessel, and their families commemorated his life and his actions that were above and beyond the call of duty.

John Chapman’s story and spirit will live on in the lives of his family, friends and teammates. His wife, Valerie has said, “[John] would want to recognize the other men that lost their lives. Even though he did something he was awarded the Medal of Honor for, he would not want the other guys to be forgotten – that they were part of the team together. I think he would say that his Medal of Honor was not just for him, but for all of the guys who were lost.”

We honor you, John Chapman.

(#Submission by: Miah Parry. #Repost @MOH Museum)

CAPT John McCain

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When John McCain made his first bid for public office in 1982, running for a House seat in Arizona, critics blasted him as a carpetbagger, pointing out that he’d only lived in the state for 18 months.

“Listen, pal, I spent 22 years in the Navy,” the exasperated candidate reportedly shot back at one event. Then, after explaining that career military people tend to move a lot, he delivered a retort that made the attacks against him seem ridiculously petty: “As a matter of fact… the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi.”

McCain won the election, launching a political career that earned him two terms in the House, six in the Senate, and his party’s presidential nomination in 2008. But even after four decades in public life, McCain’s experience as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam continued to define him in the minds of many Americans, admirers and detractors alike. While he ultimately made his name on the national political stage, the scion of two four-star admirals was, at his core, a lifelong military man. He followed into the family business, becoming a decorated, if at times reckless, fighter pilot who conducted nearly two dozen bombing runs in Vietnam before being shot down, captured and tortured.

In both his military and political careers, McCain earned a reputation for being feisty and combative. “A fight not joined is a fight not enjoyed,” he declared in his 2018 memoir The Restless Wave, written with his longtime collaborator Mark Salter, and published after he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer that took his life on August 25, 2018.

Below, a timeline of his military life [selected segments, see History.com for the full account]:

John Sidney McCain III is born on August 29 at a U.S. Navy base in the Panama Canal Zone. His father, John S. McCain, Jr., is a submarine officer who will later rise to the rank of admiral and become commander in chief of U.S. forces in the Pacific during much of the Vietnam War. His grandfather, John S. McCain, Sr., also an admiral, would come to command the Navy’s Fast Carrier Task Force in the Pacific during World War II. “They were my first heroes, and earning their respect has been the most lasting ambition of my life,” McCain would later write in a 1999 memoir, Faith of My Fathers.

John McCain enters the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1954 and graduates with the class of 1958. He’s the third generation in his family to attend the Academy; his father had been class of 1931; his grandfather, class of 1906.

By all accounts, especially his own, the young McCain is an indifferent and rambunctious student, prone to pranks and occasional disobedience to authority. He graduates fifth from the bottom of his class. “My four years here were not notable for individual academic achievement but, rather, for the impressive catalogue of demerits which I managed to accumulate,” he admitted to the graduating class of 1993 in a commencement speech.

After graduation, McCain goes on to flight school in Pensacola, Florida, and later Corpus Christi, Texas, to train as a pilot. “I enjoyed the off-duty life of a Navy flyer more than I enjoyed the actual flying,” he will remember. “I drove a Corvette, dated a lot, spent all my free hours at bars and beach parties, and generally misused my good health and youth.”

In late 1966, he joins a squadron of A-4E Skyhawk pilots that will deploy on the U.S.S. Forrestal, a carrier that soon heads to the Tonkin Gulf, off the coast of North Vietnam. They arrive at the peak of President Lyndon Johnson’s Operation Rolling Thunder campaign of massive sustained aerial bombardment.

On the morning of July 29, 1967, McCain has another brush with death. As he awaits his turn for takeoff from the USS Forrestal, for a bombing run over North Vietnam, another plane accidentally fires a missile. It strikes either his plane or the one next to him (accounts differ), igniting a raging fire on the ship’s deck. McCain manages to extricate himself from his plane, only to be hit in the legs and chest by hot shrapnel.

“All around me was mayhem,” he would recall years later. “Planes were burning. More bombs cooked off. Body parts, pieces of the ship, and scraps of planes were dropping onto the deck. Pilots strapped in their seats ejected into the firestorm. Men trapped by flames jumped overboard.” By the time it’s over, more than 130 crew members are dead.

Three months later, on October 26, McCain takes off on his 23rd bombing run over North Vietnam, reportedly on a mission to destroy Hanoi’s thermal power plant. Just as he releases his bombs over the target, a Russian-made surface-to-air missile, described as looking like “a flying telephone pole,” strikes his plane, ripping off its right wing. McCain ejects, breaking both arms and one knee, and parachutes into a shallow lake.

After briefly losing consciousness, he wakes up to find himself “being hauled ashore on two bamboo poles by a group of about 20 angry Vietnamese. A crowd of several hundred Vietnamese gathered around me as I lay dazed before them, shouting wildly at me, stripping my clothes off, spitting on me, kicking and striking me repeatedly…. Someone smashed a rifle butt into my shoulder, breaking it. Someone else stuck a bayonet in my ankle and groin.”

Soon, an army truck arrives, taking McCain as a prisoner of war. He will remain one for five and a half years.

McCain remains a prisoner until the U.S. and North Vietnam sign a peace accord in late January 1973, ending the conflict. He is released in March, along with 107 other POWs, and boards a U.S. transport plane headed to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines.

After his return to the States, and while he’s still undergoing therapy for his injuries, McCain requests assignment to the National War College in Washington, D.C. “By the time my nine months at the War College ended, I had satisfied my curiosity about how Americans had entered and lost the Vietnam War,” he later wrote. “The experience did not cause me to conclude that the war was wrong, but it did help me understand how wrongly it had been fought and led.”

In late 1974, after he manages to pass the physical exam to qualify for flight status, he’s sent to Cecil Field, a naval air station in Jacksonville, Florida. A few months later, he’s promoted to commanding officer of a replacement air group, responsible for training carrier pilots.

McCain’s third and final assignment, however, may be the most influential in setting his future course. In 1977, he’s assigned to a liaison office in the United States Senate in Washington, where he serves as the Navy’s lobbyist and gets to see the workings of Congress from the inside. The job marked “my real entry into the world of politics and the beginning of my second career as a public servant,” he later recalls.

In 1981, McCain retires from the Navy with the rank of captain. His decorations include, among others, a Silver Star, three Bronze Stars and a Distinguished Flying Cross.

We honor you, John McCain.

(#Repost excerpts @History.com)

George H. Horton

Branches of Military Service I Served In:

U.S. Navy Serial Number 202-04-66, U.S. Army & Massachusetts National Guard Serial Number 21295699, U.S. Air Force Serial Number AF21295699.  Also sailed ships in Merchant Marines.

My Naval service ships I served on:  USS San Diego CL-53, a Light Cruiser 9 Battle Stars, USS LST 970 1 Battle Star, USS Midway CV41 Aircraft Carrier, USS Franklin D. Roosevelt CV42 Aircraft Carrier, USS Lake Champlain CV39 Aircraft Carrier, USS Leyte CV32 Aircraft Carrier, USS Pocono AGC16 Communications Ship, USS Missouri BB63 Battleship, Bombing and Fighting Squadron 74 (VBF74) Fighting Squadron Two Baker (VF2B) plans were F4U4 Corsairs, Utility Squadron Four (VU4) planes were Culver Cadet (Drone) PBY Flying Patrol Bomber.

My Combat history:  While aboard the Light Cruiser USS Sand Diego CL-53 I was in the following Battles and Campaigns:

With Task Force 61 during torpedo attack by enemy submarine 31 Aug 1942.  6 Sep 1942 with Task Force 17 during enemy submarine attach at Guadalcanal.  7 Sep 1942 attacked by enemy submarine.  15 Sep 1942 submarine attack by enemy submarine 3 ships of task force sunk or damaged Aircraft Carrier USS Wasp was sunk.  5 Oct 1942 with Task Force 17 during air attack on enemy shipping in Buin-Faisi-Shortland area, two enemy planes were shot down.  16 Oct 1942 attacked enemy vessels in Solomon Islands area.  26 Oct 1942 Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, we shot down two torpedo planes and three Horizontal Bombers.

This was a sad day for us.  The Famed Aircraft Carrier USS Hornet CV-8 was sunk.  This is the ship that Colonel Jimmy Doolittle Raiders bombed Tokyo from.  My ship the USS San Diego CL-53 took Hornet Survivors from the Destroyer Hughes and took them to Noumea New Caledonia in the French Loyalty Islands.  22 Jan 1943 enemy bombing raid at night on Espiritu Santos in New Hebrides Islands.

26 Jan 1943 enemy night bombing raid at Espiritu Santos in New Hebrides Islands.  30 Jan 1943 with Task Force 16 during enemy air attack.  27 Jun to 23 Jul 1943 supported the occupation of New Georgia Island and Munda Air Fields.  14 Sep 1943 present in harbor during night bombing raid on Espiritu Santos in the New Hebrides Chain.  1 and 2 Nov 1943 made strikes on Buka Island in Northern Solomons.  5 Nov 1943 launched first strike against Japanese base at Rabul.  5 Nov 1943 launched second strike at Rabul New Britain.  11 Nov 1943 launched heavy strike at Rabul.  19 Nov 1943 made airstrikes on Japanese held island of Nauru.  24 to 29 Nov 1943 assault and occupation of Japanese held islands of Makin and Tarawa Atolls in the Gilbert Islands.  4 Dec 1943 launched attacks against Japanese bases Gilbert Islands.  4 Dec 1943 launched attacks against Japanese bases Kwajalein and Wotje in Marshall Islands.  4 to 5 Dec 1943 we were attacked by 7 Japanese torpedo planes, 6 of them were shot down by ships gun fire.  We were again attacked at night by Japanese aircraft that were based at Wotje and two more were shot down during this 7 1/2 hour attack.  29 Jan to Feb 4 attacked the enemy strongholds of Kwajalein Roi in the Marshall Islands.  16 to 17 Feb 1944 first penetration of Caroline Islands by American Naval Forces on the fortress of Truk.  Severe loss to enemy shipping planes and installations we were under Japanese night air attack.  20 Feb 1944 attacked enemy held island of Jaluit in Marshall Islands.  19 to 21 May 1944 made offensive sweep north of Marcus Island.  23 May 1944 made strikes on enemy held Wake Island.  11 to 13 Jun 1944 attacked Saipan and Pagan Islands in the Marianas 7 enemy planes shot down.  15 Jun 1944 attacked Japenese base in Bonin Islands.  16 Jun 1944 attacked Japanese held island of Iwo Jima.  19 Jun 1944 attacked island of Guam.  We were attacked repeatedly by Japanese torpedo planes and bombers.  19 to 30 Jun 1944 attackes against Marianas Islands Guam, Rota, and Pagan Islands.  Participated in occupation of Tinian Islands.

While on the LST (Landing Ship Tank) 970 I was in the following battles:  1 July 1945 participated in operations at Kerama Retto and Okinawa in the Ryukyus Islands in action against enemy planes.  On Okinawa on night of 24 May 1945.  15 Oct 1945 participated in the initial invasion and occupation of Japan at Wakayama Island of Honshu from 25 Sep 1945 to 1 Oct 1945.  30 Oct to 2 Nov 1945 landed Army troops and vehicles at Nagoya, Japan.

Places I have been on USS San Diego CL-53:  Boston, MA, Norfolk, VA, Portland, ME, Cape Cod Canal, Annapolis, MD, Panama Canal, San Diego, CA, Efate New Hebride, Majuro Atoll Marshall Islands, Vajello, CA, Marianas Islands, Crossed Equator several times, Iwo Jima, Pearl Harbor, HI, Noumea New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Guadalcanal, Santa Cruz Islands, Espiritu Santos, Auckland, New Zealand, San Francisco, CA, Wake Island, Eniwetok Atoll.  Left ship in Aug 1944 for rehabilitation to leave to the States.

Places I have been on LST 970:  Pearl Harbor, HI, Eniwetok Marshalls, Guam Marianas, Ulithi Atoll, Kerama Retto Okinawa, Okinawa, Leyte Phillipines, Wakayama and Nagoya Japan.

My duties aboard the USS Sand Diego CL-53 Light Cruiser.  Assigned 3rd Division work area starboard side topside.  Mess Cook, Compartment Cleaner, Captain of the Head Boat Crew Whaleboat and Motor launch.  Special Cleaning Station.  Ships Painter.  Admirals Orderly.  Shell handler lower handling room Turret 8.  Shell handler upper handling room Turret 8.  Shell loader port 5 inch gun Turret 8.  Gun Captain port gun Turret 8.  During this time Turret 8 was awarded the Navy E for efficiency in gunnery on the 5 inch gun.  In Turret 8 we were allowed to wear the Navy E for one year with 5 dollars a month added to our pay.  Stood depth charge watches for 300 and 600 pounders.  Special Sea Detail.  Stood watch on torpedo tubes.

My duties on LST 970 (Landing Ship Tank).  Coxswain on Port (LCVP) Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel.  Paint Locker.  Helmsman (Steered ship).  Deck Maintenance.  Load and unload cargo and ammunitions.  Make spoke by taking my LCVP about 100 yards in front of ship so that Kamakaze planes could not spot us.  Made mail runs and Guard mail runs to the beach.  Take wounded and deceased military hospital ship.  Took liberty parties ashore and returned them to shop.  Sentry duty all types for underwater swimmers and enemy boats loaded with explosives.  Took Army troops in my boat to make landings on beaches.

My duties while assigned to VBF 74 Fighting and Bombing Squadron 74 while stationed at Oceana Naval Station Virginia and while aboard USS Franklin D. Roosevelt CV42 and USS Midway CV41.  Worked on Flight Line that had 32 F4U4 Corsairs.  Drove gas and oil truck fueled aircraft 3 times a day when flying.  Had to remove and put in 32 parachutes in planes on flying days.  Was a member of the Crash Crew.  Was responsible for getting 4 aircraft ready for flight, untie them run up engines and for securing them at night.  On carriers I was a plane captain and got planes ready for flight.  Was responsible for the hurricane locker.  Did statistical studies on aircraft as to how much fuel they were using.  On land towed aircraft and taxied same to bore sight range.

The following ships I served on when I was on Admiral Mark A. Mitschers Staff as part of the boat crew for the Admirals Barge.  Also we had a 25 foot plane personnel boat called a Skimmer that the Admirals Chief of Staff Commodore Arleigh Burke better known as 31 Knot Burke used it was faster that the Admirals Barge.  Other than keep the boats clean and take the Admiral and Commodore where they wanted to go we would make on guard mail trip a day excluding Sundays.  Real rough duty.  When we went to New York on the FDR Carrier I was one of the side boys who rode in the Admirals car and opened the door and saluted when he go in or out of the staff car.  USS Leyte CV32, USS FDR CVB42, USS Missouri BB63, USS Pocono AGC 16, USS Lake Champlain CV39.  On the Admirals Barge I was Bow Hook on the Skimmer I was the Coxswain.

While with the Massachusetts National Guard.  I was a Scout Sergeant with the 211th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron.  I was Motor Sergeant with the 126th Heavy Tank Battalion, 26th Yankee Division.  My duties were to take care of 7 heavy tanks, 4 jeeps, 42 1/2 ton trucks and 2 half trucks.  Instructed on maintenance and care of vehicles, firing of small arms, mortars and tank weapons.  Was in charge of convoys and readying vehicles for parades.  Went on active duty to Fort Knox Kentucky armored school for 6 months.  Was selected by Charlie Company to carry the Field Expedience Cup in all parades.  Left the 126th Heavy Tank Battalion Yankee Division to join the Army Air Force.

My duty with the U.S. Air Force.  23 Sep 1949 went to Lackland Air Force base for Basic Training.  Went to Automotive school at Atlanta Gen Depot Atlanta, Georgia.  Next went to Kelly AFB, Texas 25th Vehicle Repair Squadron as a Classification Specialist.  Then went to Hill AFB Utah with the 25th Veh Rep Sq as a Classification Specialist.  Was advanced to Sr Career Guidance Specialist.  Was transferred to 2949th Maint Gp at Hill AFB Utah.  Was transferred to HQ OOAMA Hill AFB and was assigned the following assignments.  Assignment Clerk, Shipment and Assignment Clerk and Assignment Supervisor.  Transferred to 2949th Aircraft Repair Squadron as First Sgt.  Was then transferred to HQ OOAMA in the position of Administrative Supervisor and Personnel Supervisor.  Transferred to 2922 Area Maintenance Group as Group Sgt Major.  Was then transferred to the 3rd Material Recovery Squadron as First Sgt Personnel Supervisor and whenever a group or squadron was having problems I was sent in to get the unit straightened out.  The 3rd Material Recovery Squadron was scheduled to go to Korea.  The men did not like their present First Sergeant and went to the Base Commander to see if I would go with them to Korea.  The base commander authorized it and I could not return down such a request.  We went to Okinawa instead of Korea, we were then transferred to FEACOM Air Base, Japan.  I was then transferred to HQ 6400 Supply Group at FEACOM APO 323 as a Personnel Supervisor and later as Personnel Sgt Major.  I returned from overseas and was assigned as First Sgt of 502nd Material Squadron, Youngstown Municipal Airport, Ohio.  I was transferred to 4670th Ground Observer Corps New Haven, Conn as First Sgt and Education Specialist.

NOTE:  While at Kadena AFB on Okinawa I was awarded the Amy Commendation Medal for:  While assigned to the 3rd Material Recovery Squadron even thought the Squadron was assigned housing in various units off base because of scarcity of housing, their mission was rather nebulous in that the groups were assigned various duties about the base that split them up.  Dependent travel was not authorized for dependents and members of the squadron were in constant expectation of movement orders.  TSgt Horton has a much greater morale problem than a normal organization at this station because of the above other than normal problems.

Places I have been with the U.S. Air Force:  San Antonio, TX, Kelly AFB, TX, Atlanta General Depot (school) Atlanta, GA, Hill AFB, UT, Kadena AFB, Okinawa, Tachikawa Air Base, Japan, Youngstown Municipal Airport, OH, Ground Observer Corps, New Haven, CT, Denver, CO Electronic School, Carswell AFB, TX, McConnell AFB, KS, England Greenham Common Brie Norton Upper Heyford RAF Bases, Fairbanks AK, Anchorage, AK, Lincoln AFB, BNebraska Jet Bailout School and Rapid Decompression.

NOTE:  29 Nov 1950 Corporal Geroge H Horton was named Airman of the Month at Hill AFB, UT.

While member of the 126th Heavy Tank Battalion I was assigned Military Police duties for the peacetime draft and was in charge of the Riot Control and Protection of government property.

In 1947 I was assigned to Utility Squadron four VU4 at Chincoteague Naval Air Station Virginia.  Drove gas truck prepared drones for flight and wnet in PBY to tow socks for the fleet to shoot at.  When I left there for Norfolk, VA for separation the twin engine plan I was flying I was flying in lost one engine.  We made an emergency landing the Port tire blew out and the nose wheel collapsed.  When I got on the the concrete ramp my legs collapsed.  A chief put me in a jeep and took me to the Chief’s Club and bought me two drinks of whiskey and then I was alright.

Assigned to 28 Munitions Maintenance Squadron Carswell AFB Texas loading munitions and nuclear weapons on B-47, B-52 and B-58 bombers.  In charge of convoys taking weapons from base to storage area.  Was small arms instructor squadron.  Transferred from Carswell AFB, TX to McConnell AFB, KS and was assigned to SAC MEST (Munitions Evaluation Standardization Team) and elite outfit we went anywhere in the world to check out the B-47, B-52 and B-58 bombers.  Attended Nuclear Weapons Safety Course.  Went to scenes of bomber crashes to remove nuclear remnants prior to aircraft crash investigation for safety.

Supervisor for loading and unloading nuclear weapons.  Did maintenance and loading of 20mm Gatling guns.  Was munitions line chief on B-58 Bomber.  Was discharged from McConnell AFB, KS.

Military Schools I went to:  Boot Camp, Newport, RI, Basic Training, San Antonio, TX, Auto Body Repairman, Atlanta, GA, Motor and Tank Vehicle Course, Fort Knox, KY, Combat and Patrolling of Individual Soldier, OH, Leadership 1, Carswell AFB, TX, Military Justice Course, New Haven, CT, Nuclear Weapons and Safety Course, McConnell AFB, KS, Basic Vehicle Maintenance Course, Fort Knox, KY, Senior NCO Academy, Ayer, MS, Fire Control Systems Mechanic, Lowry AFB, CO, Ground Observer Course, Tyndal AFB, FL, Weapons Mechanic, Carswell AFB, TX, Rapid Decompression and Bailout from Ejection Seat, Lincoln AFB, NE, Lincoln Institute of Practical Nursing, CA.

Civilian Honors Bestowed:  Admiral Nebraska State Navy, Admiral State of Kentucky, Key to City of Boston Massachusetts, Kentucky Colonel State of Kentucky, Member of Combined Veteran Honor Guard, Humanitarian Award Ogden Utah, Diploma from the French Embassy for helping France regain its liberty, and Awarded the Chinese War Memorial Medal.

We honor you, George Horton.

(Submission by:  Ninzel Rasmuson; autobiography provided to Ninzel Rasmuson by George Horton at George’s veteran home; photo taken by Ninzel Rasmuson on August 3, 2018).

WO1 Kjell T. Tollefsen

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Kjell T. Tollefsen, aka “Troll” or Black Widow 45, was a Warrant Officer in the 188th Assault helicopter Company (AHC), proudly serving his adopted country as a “Huey” helicopter pilot in Vietnam from November 1967 to November 1968.

His helicopter was among several that had dropped a special forces team — men highly trained in direct combat — into Cambodia to capture intelligence at a time when President Lyndon B. Johnson was not officially acknowledging U.S. action extending into that country. Shortly after the drop off, the special forces team was under fire.

“We didn’t know it at the time, but we had dropped them off in the middle of a battalion-sized force of NVA [North Vietnamese Army]. … We were in Cambodia … and these guys got into a very difficult situation very quickly. … Two of the special forces guys were already killed. They had numerous wounded and were asking for extraction.”

Tollefsen’s helicopter drew intense fire as he and one other aircraft returned to pick up besieged members of the special forces team.

“[They] came out with their wounded, threw them in. I think I had two KIAs [killed in action], two wounded thrown into my ship. … I forget what the other ship picked up. … We were pretty much loaded to capacity. … We got above the tree line of the jungle, foliage around us, and we took [numerous hits].”

The command and control aircraft directed the helicopter, which was losing engine oil, to a field of elephant grass further inside Cambodia. Tollefsen did a semi-controlled crash, and the ship rolled onto its side. He and two other crew members got out safely, but the gunner was trapped.

“His head had been pinned under the aircraft … and his arms and legs were flailing around. We couldn’t get him out. The other aircraft carrying the other troops, now-wounded guys, got out. So all the special forces guys got out of the aircraft, set up a perimeter for us.

“One guy had a belly wound where you could see part of his intestines. He’s now setting up a perimeter for us. No one left.”

Tollefsen and others tried to free the gunner by rocking the downed helicopter and trying to lift it with another aircraft. No one left, even as two empty helicopters came in and command ordered evacuation, Tollefsen recalled.

“The command control ship is now telling us the NVA is … closing in on where we are and ‘Get out of there.’ And the special forces guys are engaging them at the perimeter. … We all stayed there trying to get the one remaining guy who was pinned under the aircraft. And we wouldn’t leave. On the command control ship, some [senior officer] in his great wisdom was yelling at us to get out of there and leave him behind. No one would leave him behind.

“We couldn’t get the Air Force, they were just in the distance at the border [knowing] we were in trouble, but they couldn’t get approval to come across the border to give us the support. … But we had some gunship from another unit that showed up. They said, ‘The hell with the order,’ basically. … They came and started putting down some suppressive fire so we’d have enough time to get the guy out.”

After about 20 minutes trying to free the gunner, the men discovered he was being held underneath the crippled Huey by his helmet strap. Tollefsen grabbed a knife and cut it.

“We basically ripped his body out from underneath there and out of the helmet. … We tore his ear in half…. We broke his collarbone, literally, by pulling on it to get him out.”

Tollefsen and his crew were evacuated. And the gunner?

“He stayed with us. He wore a sling for about a month and refused to get out of the unit.”

The mission was one of many in which Tollefsen’s helicopter drew fire. He always flew with something of a good luck charm.

“My nickname, because I was Norwegian, was Troll. And I carried a troll doll with me. It was dressed in little hippie outfit… My wife at the time had sent it over… So it was kind of a lucky charm as well … It set on the dash with us every mission.”

(#Repost @http://articles.courant.com/2009-11-08/news/hc-kjell-tollefsen-story_1_eileen-hurst-north-vietnamese-army-vietnam-war; Photo Credit: http://www.courant.com/hc-kjell-tollefsen-pictures-photogallery.html)

 

 

 

Sgt. 1st Class Reymund R. Transfiguracion

Army Special Forces is mourning the loss of Sgt. 1st Class Reymund R. Transfiguracion 36, who died on Sunday after being wounded in an Aug. 7 improvised explosive device blast Helmand province, Afghanistan, according to 1st Special Forces Command.

Originally from the Philippines, Transfiguracion joined the Army National Guard in July 2001 as motor transport operator, his official biography says. He deployed from 2005 to 2006 with the Hawaii National Guard, joined the active-duty force in February 2008, and then deployed to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009. Afterward, he spent six months in the Philippines from 2010 to 2011 as part of Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines.

Transfiguracion was selected for Special Forces while serving as a horizontal construction engineer at Fort Polk, Louisiana. He deployed to Afghanistan in support of the U.S. counterterrorism mission there in March. He received a posthumous promotion to sergeant first class and was awarded his second Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, and Meritorious Service Medal.

His other military awards include the Meritorious Unit Commendation, three Army Achievement Medals, three Army Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, two Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbons, two Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbons, NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge, Army Special Forces Tab, Combat Infantry Badge, Basic Parachutist Badge, and Air Assault Badge.

We honor you, Reymund Transfiguracion.

(#Repost @taskandpurpose.com)