LTC Regina H. Schiffman

2017-10-20 Schiffman

Regina graduated from West Philadelphia High School and entered nurses training at the Hahneman Hospital School Of Nursing. Upon graduation, she began as an operating room nurse at the Presbyterian Medical Center in NYC. After three years of Neurosurgical Nursing work there she decided to make a career in the U.S.Army. A year after she enlisted, the U.S. was at war in Korea, & in the summer of 1951 she found herself working in the operating room of the 8063rd. M.A.S.H unit in Korea. Conditions were primitive in both the Operating Room (tent), as well as in her tent for living. A pot-bellied stove for heat, & her helmet for bathing, but she grew strength from the selflessness of her mission & the camaraderie of her fellow nurses, physicians & soldiers.

Before retiring after 21 years of service she served at Brooke Army Medical Center BAMC), Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Letterman General Hospital, San Francisco, Valley Forge General Hospital, Pennsylvania, 8063rd. Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH), Korea, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, Walter Reed Medical Center, Washington, D.C., Landstuhl & Frankfort Germany, Japan, & Ft. Benning, Georgia. During her career she was awarded The Korean Service Medal, United nations Service medal, National Defense Service Medal W/1 oak leaf cluster, & The Meritorious Service Medal. While serving in the Army, she also completed her Master’s Degree in Nursing at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, & graduated Magna Cum Laude. She retired in San Antonio, Texas where she lived in Windcrest, & finally at the Army Residence Community. During her retirement she traveled all around the world on 56 ocean cruises.

We honor you, Regina Schiffman.

(#Repost @Dignity Memorial)

SSG Joseph A. Chinick

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SSG Joseph A. Chinick died July 13, 1944 in Europe. Joe received the Bronze Star posthumously with no explanation as his effort had been classified as “Secret.” To date, his brother Harold has not been able to learn the reason for the Bronze Star Award.

We honor you, Joseph Chinick.

(#Repost @Pritzker Military Museum and Library)

PVT George Watson

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George Watson was born in 1915 Birmingham, Alabama. Apart from his birth, little is known about his early life. He attended school in Colorado and graduated in 1942. Like many men that year, Watson then accepted the call to arms in defense of his nation.

As an African-American, the career opportunities in the Army were extremely limited. Consequently, Watson joined the 29th Quartermaster Regiment after basic training. With the war in full swing, Watson’s unit was immediately transported to the Pacific on board the American controlled Dutch Steamer USAT Jacob. They arrived on March 8, 1943.

As Watson and his unit waited to disembark the Japanese attacked the Jacob while she was moored near Porlock Harbor, New Guinea. With little defense against the devastating assault, the Jacob took several direct hits and the order to abandon ship was issued. Troops threw themselves into the sea, many of whom had been severely wounded. Fortunately, Watson had avoided injury and being a competent swimmer was able to head towards the few life rafts that were available. As he did so, he looked back to see many of his comrades were not so lucky.

The wounded soldiers and those who could not swim flailed about in the sea in need of help. Watson turned from the rafts and headed towards the men. The Japanese continued to rake the sea with gunfire making it all the riskier. Time and time again he swam back to rescue troops and bring them to safety. Watson continued saving his comrades until he reached the point of exhaustion. As he swam towards the steamer once more, she slipped beneath the waves. The subsequent drag proved too strong for the exhausted Watson to escape and he was sucked to the bottom with her.

As news of his gallantry spread, it was evident to the Army that a heroic and distinguished act had taken place. However, for African-Americans of that era, the Medal of Honor was too far out of reach despite the inexplicable gallantry they consistently displayed. Watson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and was the first African-American to receive that award during WWII.

However, as the decades passed the US military realized such men had been overlooked. They instituted a review in the early 1990’s to determine those that might have been excluded due to race. In 1997, George Watson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. With no family to receive Watson’s medals, they are on display at the US Army Quartermaster Museum in Fort Lee, Virginia. Also, the ship USNS Watson was named in his honor.

We honor you, George Watson.

(Submission by: GP Cox. #Repost @Pacific Paratrooper)

SGT Joseph Edward Brown

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Drafted by the Army twice, Joseph Brown had two widely disparate experiences in the military. He graduated from high school in June 1945 and went into the Army during the final days of World War II, suffering degrading conditions at a Texas base where he and other blacks were subject to inferior accommodations. In 1950, he was called to serve again in Korea, but this time, he was assigned to an elite unit and attended leadership school. Because Brown had been a pre-med student in college, he was asked to supervise a medical unit; he even had some white soldiers under his command with the 74th Engineer Combat Battalion, Medical Detachment. In only five years, the Army had changed, moving, in Brown’s view, more quickly to integrate its ranks than the civilian world. “During the Korean War, the black soldier began to be accepted on an equal basis as a combat soldier.”

We honor you, Joseph Brown.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)

SSG Ernest E. Gallego

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America was at war in the summer of 1943 when Ernest Gallego graduated from high school. He tried to enlist but had to wait until he turned 18 that November for the Army Air Force to take him. His ambition was to be a pilot but he failed the depth perception test and chose gunnery school because it offered him a faster track to an assignment overseas. From their base in Italy, he and his crew flew more missions than they originally thought would earn them rotation back to the States, because the brass increased the magic number. After V-E Day, Gallego was on a ship headed home, expecting to fly more missions, when he heard the news of the Japanese surrender.

We honor you, Ernest Gallego.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)

LT Ruth Deloris Buckley

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Ruth Buckley enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps after graduating from the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing in 1940. Buckley was first stationed in North Africa, working in the pre-operation tent. She was exposed to the enormity of the war through her interaction with the young servicemen. “Suffering was written in every line of their tired faces and clenched teeth.”

On the way from Africa to Italy, her ship was sunk by a German bomber who ignored the giant red crosses painted on the vessel’s side and deck. Buckley and her fellow nurses took to the lifeboats and were picked up by a British destroyer. On a beach in Italy, another bomber dropped his payload in an effort to avoid a pursuing plane, and Buckley was severely wounded by shrapnel. After recovering, Buckley turned down offers to return to the United States, and instead went back to work in Italy.

Buckley and the 95th Evacuation Hospital followed the troops as the front line moved up through Italy, and into liberated France.  Although her service as an Army nurse put her life in danger and meant witnessing the horrors of war first hand, Buckley had a great passion for the services she performed. “There were many compensations for the dangers I faced and chief among them was the privilege of serving our wounded… they are the grandest, gamest, finest soldiers in the world.”

We honor you, Ruth Buckley.

(#Repost @Pritzer Military Museum and Library and @Veteran’s History Project)

LT Gene J. Takahashi

2017-10-4 Takahashi

Gene Takahashi’s experiences in Korea began shortly after the end of the Second World War. He had enlisted in the Army late in that war, after spending most of it with his family in an Arizona internment camp for Japanese Americans. After the Japanese surrendered, Takahashi was sent to Korea for occupation duty for 18 months. Called up from the reserves to serve in Korea, Takahashi found that his language skills with both Japanese and Korean were highly prized. He was named platoon leader of an all-black unit, and he was captured by the Chinese in November 1950 when they entered the war. He escaped, made it back to Seoul, and rejoined the fighting. Wounded by enemy machine-gun fire in March 1951, Takahashi saw his wartime service come to an end while recuperating.

We honor you Gene Takahashi.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)