Maj Alexander C. Furla

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Maj. Alexander C. Furla served in the U.S. Air Force (active duty 1985-1996, reserve 1996-2006) as an aeromedical evacuation operations officer during the Panama (Just Cause), Persian Gulf (Desert Shield/Storm) and Somalia (Restore Hope) campaigns, having been awarded 13 military service decorations, ribbons and numerous letters of commendation. He also served with the first team to stand up the HQ AMC Tanker Airlift Control Center (TACC) Aeromedical Evacuation from April 1992 to 1996, and with the 375th Aeromedical Airlift Wing, 57th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, 7276th Air Base Group, and 90th Strategic Missile Wing. Major commands included the Strategic Air Command (SAC), U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), Military Airlift Command (MAC), Air Mobility Command (AMC) and Air Force Reserve Command (AFRES).

We honor you, Alexander Furla.

(#Repost @The American Legion)

SSgt Johnny Cash

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Weeks after the start of the Korean War, the future country music superstar enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. After proving adept at radio communications, Cash was assigned to a unit in Landsberg, West Germany, where he served as a high-speed Morse Code intercept operator. There he monitored transmissions from the Soviet Army, which was playing a covert role in Korea, and Cash claimed in his autobiography that he was the first American to intercept reports of the 1953 death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. During his downtime from his highly classified work, Cash began to write songs, including “Folsom Prison Blues,” and practiced with a newly purchased guitar in a makeshift band of airmen dubbed “The Landsberg Barbarians.” After his promotion to staff sergeant and honorable discharge in 1954, Cash settled in Memphis and launched his musical career after signing with Sun Records in 1955.

We honor you, Johnny Cash.

(#Repost @;

CPT Ronald Reagan

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Ronald Wilson Reagan enrolled in a series of home-study Army Extension Courses on 18 March 1935. After completing 14 of the courses, he enlisted in the Army Enlisted Reserve on 29 April 1937, as a Private assigned to Troop B, 322nd Cavalry at Des Moines, Iowa. He was appointed Second Lieutenant in the Officers Reserve Corps of the Cavalry on 25 May 1937.  On June 18 of that year Reagan, who had just moved to Los Angeles to begin his film career, accepted his Officer’s Commission and was assigned to the 323rdCavalry.

Lieutenant Reagan was ordered to active duty on 19 April 1942. Due to eyesight difficulties, he was classified for limited service only, which excluded him from serving overseas. His first assignment was at the San Francisco Port of Embarkation at Fort Mason, California, as liaison officer of the Port and Transportation Office. Upon the request of the Army Air Forces (AAF), he applied for a transfer from the Cavalry to the AAF on 15 May 1942; the transfer was approved on 9 June 1942. He was assigned to AAF Public Relations and subsequently to the 1st Motion Picture Unit in Culver City, California. Reagan was promoted to First Lieutenant on 14 January 1943 and was sent to the Provisional Task Force Show Unit of This Is The Army at Burbank, California. Following this duty, he returned to the 1st Motion Picture Unit, and on 22 July 1943 was promoted to Captain.

In January 1944, Captain Reagan was ordered to temporary duty in New York City to participate in the opening of the sixth War Loan Drive. He was assigned to the 18th AAF Base Unit, Culver City, California on 14 November 1944, where he remained until the end of the war. He was recommended for promotion to Major on 2 February 1945, but this recommendation was disapproved on July 17 of that year. On 8 September 1945, he was ordered to report to Fort MacArthur, California, where he was separated from active duty on 9 December 1945.

While on active duty with the 1st Motion Picture Unit and the 18th Army Air Forces Base Unit, Captain Reagan served as Personnel Officer, Post Adjutant, and Executive Officer. By the end of the war, his units had produced some 400 training films for the Army Air Forces.

Reagan’s Reserve Commission automatically terminated on 1 April 1953. However, he became Commander-in-Chief of all U.S. Armed Forces when he became President on 20 January 1981.

We honor you, Ronald Reagan.

(#Repost @

Grace Chicken

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Grace Chicken wanted to see the world.  As a young woman, her ambition was to be a nurse in the war, so she joined the Red Cross and was stationed in Joplin, Missouri.  When she heard that the Air Force was looking for nurses, she enlisted to train as an Army Air Force Specialized Flight Nurse, and was sent to Bowman Field Kentucky.  Her first posting was to Newfoundland, Canada, and from there she went on to be stationed in the Azores, a country that was neutral during WWII.  Injured US military personnel were flown to the Azores from other arenas, such as Europe, Asia and Africa.  From the Azores, the Aerovac teams would fly the patients back to the United States for treatment.  After VE Day, Chicken was sent to Hawaii and from there they flew to all the small Pacific Islands picking up wounded Americans along the way.  She was on the second US plane to arrive in Japan after the surrender.  After the war, Chicken went back to school on the GI Bill and then enlisted to serve in Korea.

We honor you, Grace Chicken.

(#Repost @

Maj Gen Jeanne M. Holm

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Jeanne M. Holm was the first woman in the armed forces to be promoted to the rank of Major General (1973), and this was only one of her many firsts. She served in the Army from 1942-1945 and transferred to the Air Force in 1948, when a new law integrated women in the regular armed forces. Gen. Holm served in a variety of personnel assignments, including Director of Women in the Air Force from 1965-73. She played a significant role in eliminating restrictions on numbers of women serving in all ranks, expanding job and duty station assignments for women, opening ROTC and service academies to women, and changing the policies on the status of women in the armed forces. According to Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught, “Gen. Jeanne Holm is recognized as the single driving force in achieving parity for military women and making them a viable part of the mainstream military.” After her retirement, she served as a Special Assistant on Women for President Ford and as a policy consultant for the Carter administration. She is the author of Women in the Military, An Unfinished Revolution (Presidio Press, 1986, revised edition, 1992).

We honor you, Jeanne Holm.

(#Repost @Penn State University Libraries)

Pete Lambert

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One of the last of the Greatest Generation, 97-year-old Pete Lambert is one of the few veterans still alive who flew and fought in WWII, and he lives in Shasta County.

“I’m 97 going to heaven,” said Lambert jokingly.

Lambert flew B-17 bomber planes and had over 30 missions during the WWII.

“I went to Berlin four times and I went to Frankfort couple times. D-day, I flew twice,” said Lambert.

He lives in Cottonwood with his best pal, his dog Ronald, and has a big family that includes 25 grandchildren.

Lambert said he always loved to fly.

“My brother was a doctor and he flew way back when I was 5-years-old, he took me up flying so I always knew about flying,” said Lambert.

He shared a few memories that brought joy remembering the past.

“You know I only had to fly a 34 because I was a lead pilot. But I asked to fly 35, and I flew as a tail gunner because I wanted to fire a 50 and I didn’t see a thing,” chuckled Lambert.

For him, other stories were harder to tell like the time when his crew stood by his side, barely escaping death during a mission.

“We went to Munich, got shot and it knocked the engine out. I had three engines. I asked the crew if they wanted to bail out over Switzerland. I told them I was going to come home, and so they all stayed with me and we made it.”

He had some pictures to give a glimpse of what it was like during the war and how he earned some awards.

“That’s me, that’s my co-pilot…” said Lambert with a photo of him and his crew.

“It has been a long nice life… some bad, some good,” said Lambert.

He said he’s one of the lucky ones.

“I’ve been lucky. 97 is…next year I mean about three months, August. I gonna tell them 98 and it’s getting late,” said Lambert.

We honor you, Pete Lambert.

(#Repost @


James Edwin Woods

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James Edwin Woods, son of Walter R. and Elizabeth [Cogar] Woods, was born on December 10, 1931, in Parkersburg, West Virginia. In 1949, James graduated from Buckhannon-Upshur High School in Buckhannon, West Virginia. He was very popular and well liked, and played forward on the basketball team.  In the fall of 1949, James enrolled at Potomac State College at Keyser, West Virginia, where he lettered in basketball, but he dropped out of college to enlist in the Air Force in February 1951.

After receiving his basic training at Sampson Air Base, New York, James transferred to Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado, where he trained as a gunner on the B-29. In October 1951, James was sent to Randolph Field in Texas for training in combat flying. Early in 1952 he was transferred to Hunter Air Force Base in Savannah, Georgia, where he became part of a Strategic Air Command group as a right gunner on the B-50. James was sent to Ramey Air Base in Puerto Rico for eight months and then to Forbes Air Force Base in Topeka, Kansas, for training to prepare him for duty in the Far East.

In March 1953, James arrived at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Now an Airman 2nd Class, he was a crew member of a US RB-50G with the 343rd Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron of the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, which was attached to the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron.

On July 29, 1953, James was a gunner of the 17-member crew on a US RB-50G, that was given a special assignment over the Sea of Japan. Another West Virginian, Captain Robert E. Stalnaker from Cabell County, was also a member of the crew. Six crew members were electronic specialists known as Ravens, and on that day one of their assignments was to investigate radar facilities along the Soviet border. The best way to do that was to provoke the Russians into turning on their search and control radar, which was usually done only when the early warning radar detected a potential threat. This risky maneuver was known as ferreting because the goal was to ferret out information about the capabilities of the Soviet equipment. The Russians understood the game and tried not to be lured into turning on their equipment, which would expose the capabilities of their system to the United States.

After completing the mission at about 6:15 AM, the US RB-50G was returning to the base at Yokota when it was intercepted and unexpectedly fired upon from the rear by two Russian MiG-17 fighter planes. The gunfire from the MiG-17 at the rear disabled the RB-50G’s No. 1 engine and set the No. 4 engine on fire. The attack also tore off part of the tail section and destroyed the wing. As the tail gunner, James Woods was able to return a brief burst of fire at the MiG-17, but to no avail, and commander Captain Stanley O’Kelley ordered the crew to bail out. The plane lost altitude quickly and crashed into the sea. The attack occurred two days after the armistice ending the Korean War was signed on July 27, 1953.

The US conducted a thorough search of the area by air and sea, and was assisted by an Australian ship near the crash site. Halted due to dense fog and approaching darkness, the search was resumed on the morning of July 30, 1953.  Captain John Roche, co-pilot of the plane, was wounded but survived the crash by holding onto pieces of the wreckage. He was picked up by the Navy ship USS Picking in the early morning hours of July 30, 1953 after floating in the Sea of Japan for about 22 hours. No other survivors were found. The bodies of Captain Stanley O’Kelley and Master Sergeant Francis Brown were later recovered along the coast of Japan. The remaining 14 members of the crew, which included James Woods, were never accounted for.

The United States State Department officially released information that the US RB-50G was the victim of an unprovoked attack by two Russian MiG-17 fighters while on a routine navigational training exercise in international airspace over the Sea of Japan. In fact, the US RB-50G was involved in a ferreting operation and, in order to provoke the Russians, had flown into the danger zone of the harbor at Vladivostok, which was home to the Soviet’s Pacific fleet.

The Soviet government maintained that about 6:00 AM on the morning of July 29, 1953, a US Air Force RB-50G aircraft violated the boundary of the USSR in the region of Cape Gamov and flew through their airspace to the area of Ajton Island near Vladivostok. The Soviets claimed that two Russian MiG-17 fighter aircraft approached the US RB-50G with the intention of showing the crew that they were within the boundaries of the USSR and urging them to leave Soviet airspace. The Soviets stated that the US RB-50G aircraft was last seen flying out to sea and they had no further knowledge of the fate of the plane or its crew. However, according to Captain Roche, several Russian boats were in the area immediately after the crash, and crew members of the rescue planes searching the site also reported sightings of Russian boats and planes in the area that may have picked up other possible survivors or remains.

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s the US government made repeated requests to the Soviet Foreign Ministry for information regarding the July 29, 1953, attack on the US Air Force RB-50G plane but received little or no response. In June 1992 Russian President Boris Yeltsin admitted that the Soviets had shot down nine US planes during the 1950s and held twelve of the survivors prisoner. It is not known whether any of these prisoners were crew members aboard the US RB-50G which was shot down on July 29, 1953.

James’ parents found out about what happened to their son on the morning of July 31, 1953, when they heard a report about the incident on the radio. The telegraph office in Clarksburg happened to be closed that day, so they didn’t receive the official notification until it was too late.

In a letter to President Eisenhower, Elizabeth Woods spoke of her feelings about the fate of her son and other Cold War MIAs: “I write from the fullness of my heart and not with bitterness or resentment. I love my son as you do yours. I only pray that if he is dead that God will ease the pain and loss. But if he with his crew members are in a slave camp somewhere, God forbid our neglect of them.”

At the time his plane was shot down, James Woods was engaged to Helen Snow of Denver, Colorado, and they planned to be married in September 1953 after his tour of duty in the Far East was completed. A few years later, she married someone else, and later had a son whom she named after James.

In 1989, James’ mother Betty established a $1000 athletic scholarship in his name to be awarded to a worthy student at Buckhannon-Upshur High School. Although the body of James Woods was never recovered, his family and friends held a memorial service for him in Buckhannon in July 2001. A memorial plaque in his honor was hung in the Veteran’s Chapel of the Heavener Cemetery in Buckhannon.

James’ father Walter Woods died in 1988, and his mother Betty passed away in 1996. James is survived by his sisters Colleen [Woods] Einhorn and Kathryn [Woods] Chettle.

We honor you, James Woods.