BG Joseph V. Medina

2018-9-20 Medina

Since the days of the American Revolution, the Armed Forces have served as a place in which conflicts of race could be put aside for the protection of the nation and its people. Through a career that spanned 31 years, Brigadier General Joseph V. Medina served his country with both dignity and honor.

General Medina is one of four Hispanic officers to ever obtain a rank of Brigadier General or higher in the United States Marine Corps, and was the first Marine to take command of a naval flotilla. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal for his command skills, as well as for the tremendous responsibilities Medina took on throughout his career.

During his service, General Medina was a vocal proponent of the recruitment of Hispanics into the Marine Corps. As of 2013,  approximately 157,000 armed servicemen – 11.4 percent of active duty members and 18 percent of the total Marine population – were of Latin-American descent. While debate rages on about immigration reform and national languages, it’s important to remember the role proud Hispanic Americans take in the defense of their home, be it adopted or not. General Medina is testament to that much.

We honor you, Joseph Medina.

(#Repost @Chambers Primary School Hispanic Month Appreciation wall)

 

CAPT Thomas J. Hudner, Jr.

2018-9-19 Hudner

Thomas Hudner had no particular interest in airplanes when he graduated from the Naval Academy in 1946. He wanted only to serve aboard a ship. But in 1948, after he had been at sea for several months and had worked as a communications officer at Pearl Harbor for a year, he was ready for a new challenge and volunteered for flight training. He was briefly stationed in Lebanon before being assigned to the carrier USS Leyte as an F4U Corsair pilot.

By the fall of 1950, Lieutenant Hudner was flying combat missions in Korea. On December 4, he was one of a flight of six fighters sent out on an armed reconnaissance mission over North Korea. Hudner was wingman for a Navy flier named Jesse Brown, the son of a Mississippi sharecropper who had attracted a good deal of attention—and some discrimination—as the Navy’s first black pilot.

While strafing enemy positions at a low altitude, Brown’s plane was hit by antiaircraft fire. Smoking badly and without power, the aircraft was too low for Brown to bail out or clear the snow-covered mountains. Hudner followed Brown down, calling off a checklist to help prepare him for the crash landing.

Brown put his plane down in a wheels-up landing in a clearing below. The impact buckled the fuselage at the cockpit, and Hudner was certain that Brown was dead. To his amazement, Brown opened the canopy and waved weakly, but he appeared to be unable to free himself. Knowing that rescue helicopters had a long distance to travel, Hudner decided to help Brown get out of the plane himself. He didn’t ask permission from the flight leader because he knew it would be denied.

Hudner radioed, “I’m going in,” then dumped his ordnance, dropped his flaps, and landed wheels up, hitting the hilly area hard. He got out and struggled through the snow to get to the downed plane. Hudner saw that Brown’s right leg was crushed by the damaged instrument panel, and he was unable to pull him out of the wreckage.

Hudner kept packing snow into the smoking engine and talking to Brown as he drifted in and out of consciousness. When a U.S. helicopter arrived, the pilot worked with Hudner for forty-five minutes trying to get Brown out. They hacked at the plane with an ax, and even considered amputating Brown’s trapped leg with a knife. The snow packed on the bottom of their boots prevented them from getting any firm footing on the plane’s wing. As nightfall approached, bringing temperatures as low as thirty degrees below zero, it was clear that Brown was dead. Hudner hated to leave the body behind, but the helicopter pilot couldn’t fly in the mountainous terrain after dark. Reluctantly, the two men returned to base camp.

The next morning, reconnaissance showed that Brown’s body, still in the cockpit, had been stripped of clothing during the night by enemy soldiers. Because of the hostile forces in the area, it was impossible to retrieve it. The following day, the commander of the Leyte ordered four Corsairs to napalm the downed plane so that Brown could have a warrior’s funeral.

By February 1951, the Leyte was back in port in the United States. In mid-March, Hudner found out that he was to be the first American serviceman in the Korean War to receive the Medal of Honor. Daisy Brown, the widow of Jesse Brown (who had been posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross), was present when President Harry Truman put the medal around Thomas Hudner’s neck on April 13, 1951.

We honor you, Thomas Hudner Jr.

(#Repost @Medal of Honor Speakout)

MM3 Doris Miller

2018-9-18 Miller

Doris Miller is credited with shooting down several Japanese planes with a machine gun from the deck of the U.S.S. West Virginia during the attack on Pearl Harbor. When news of his actions reached the public, the African-American community saw him as their symbol of patriotism and pride. They wanted him to give speeches, named Boys Clubs after him, and started a write-in campaign to have President Roosevelt admit him to the Naval Academy. Although he did not attend the Naval Academy, Miller was decorated for bravery and continued to serve on active duty. Miller lost his life in the explosions and subsequent sinking of the Liscome Bay early on the morning of November 24, 1943.

We honor you, Doris Miller.

(#Repost @A People at War)

WASP Violet Clara Thurn Cowden

2018-9-14 Cowden

Violet Cowden served with the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, a stateside program that enlisted female pilots to ferry supplies cross-country, thus freeing up male pilots for combat roles. For Cowden, serving as a WASP gave her the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream of flying while doing her patriotic duty. “I thought, ‘Well, what better way to serve my country than to fly and do the thing that I love most, and I didn’t have to pay for the gas.'”

As the war wound down and male pilots returned home, the program was discontinued. It would not be until 1977–over thirty years later–that the WASP contributions were recognized by the federal government and they were given official veteran status.

We honor you, Violet Cowden.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)

PVT Kenneth Brown Hart

2018-9-13 Hart

From Bunker Hill to Baghdad, the citizen soldier has played a vital role in our military history. These patriots laid down their plow shares and took up the sword when our nation called. Many gave their lives on foreign soil to preserve our freedom here at home.

One such citizen soldier was Kenneth B. Hart of Knoxville. Quiet and of a slender build, he was an unlikely warrior. He wore wire-rimmed glasses; loved to play his clarinet; and had an aptitude for math. Kenneth was a ’38 graduate of Knoxville High where he was a member of the band. He completed 2 years at the University of Tennessee as engineering major. As a member of the UT marching band he participated in the Orange Bowl an Rose Bowl parades. In 1940, he joined the Tennessee National Guard. One year later he married his high school sweetheart, Hazel.

Assigned to the 191st Field Artillery Band, he continued to play his clarinet. Kenneth and Hazel spent 2 years together at an Army Post in California where he trained for combat. Their final good-bye was in the spring of ’44 in New York as Kenneth shipped out for Germany. By June, he had entered the European Theater and had been reassigned to the 1st Infantry Division, 18th Regiment, 1st Battalion Company C. The “Big Red One” helped to chase the retreating Germans across France to the Siegfried line.

Control of the Dams of the Roer River Valley was a major objective of the allies. All that stood between them and the Dams was 70 square miles of dense fir trees and rough terrain known as the Huertgen Forest. It was infested with determined German troops that were intent on repelling the Americans. The Germans had reinforced this natural barrier with concrete bunkers, pillboxes, and heavy artillery. Often overshadowed in history by Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge, the Huertgen Forest has been referred to as a m”meat grinder”. The records show that for every yard gained, it took more lives than any other American objective in Europe.

Against this backdrop, Kenneth’s unit fought through the Huertgen Forest. November 22, 1944 was cold and rainy, mixed with intervals of snow. Company C was trying to take Hill #203 according to battle reports. The Germans had the high ground and launched a deadly barrage of mortar and artillery and almost decimated Company C. Kenneth Hart died instantly that day from artillery shrapnel while taking shelter in a foxhole. Company C fought on despite the losses. On November 27th, a platoon from that company charged that hill. After 10 minutes of savage hand-to-hand fighting, the hill was in American hands. Only 2 American officers and 6 enlisted men were left of that platoon. Hill 203 has been described by members of the 1st Battalion as the fiercest fight they encountered in the war. The Americans finally took the Huertgen Forest and the Roer Valley. The final butcher’s toll was over 24,000 American dead, killed or missing. Another 9,000 were victims of frostbite, trenchfoot, and battle fatigue. It took 5 months, 9 divisions, a parachute regiment, and a Ranger battalion to take the Huertgen Forest.

We honor you, Kenneth Hart.

(#Repost @National Purple Heart Hall of Honor)

Carl Wicklund

2018-9-12 Wickland

This is my grandfather Carl Wicklund during WWII, he served during the war in the United States. I believe he was in administration – Army. He didn’t really talk about his service.

Carl Wicklund was the son of Swedish immigrants to Seattle, his family spoke Swedish at their house. He and my grandmother stayed in West Seattle all their lives- and raised three kids including my dad. Carl passed when I was a teenager.

We honor you, Carl Wicklund.

(Submission written by: Patrick Wicklund)

YN3 Melissa Rose Barnes

2018-9-11 Barnes

Melissa Rose Barnes was the family clown, no doubt about it. When her sister, Jennifer, was sick with lupus, for instance, she dressed up in disco clothes and jumped around the house doing John Travolta imitations — just like a kid, except that she was 25 at the time.

“She’d make her sister die laughing,” said Barnes’s mother, Linda Sheppard, from her Redlands, Calif., home. “She was really outgoing and bubbly, always up for a good time.”

Barnes, who was known as Mel, was scheduled to leave her posting at the Naval Command Center at the Pentagon in October for her first seaborne assignment. The 27-year-old was killed when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11.

“She was proud to serve her country and proud to wear her uniform,” Sheppard said. “If she had lived, she would have been a lifer.”

When Barnes wasn’t making her sister laugh or dressing up as a tarot card reader for Halloween, she was likely to be at the beach or dancing and having a little wine with friends, Sheppard said. Sitting still was not part of her repertoire.

Barnes counted many people on the East and West coasts as friends, including her stepfather, Jim.

“She was a person not easy to forget,” her mother said. “So beautiful, so vibrant. You could not ignore her.”

We honor you, Melissa Barnes.

(#Repost @The Washington Post – Sacred Ground: Remembering the Victims)