Maj Kurt Chew-Een Lee

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Major Kurt Chew-Een Lee is the first Chinese-American officer in the history of the United States Marine Corps. Honored for his heroic performance during the Korean War, Lee is a recipient of the Navy Cross, the second highest honor a marine can receive for valor.

Born and raised in northern California, Lee is the first-born son of Chinese immigrants. As a first-generation American, Lee says he and his siblings “grew up in an American way, but kept Chinese customs.” As a high school student, Lee witnessed the events of World War II and-determined to become an honored American soldier-joined the Junior ROTC. During a time when very few minorities were in command, Private Lee rose through the ranks to become a First Lieutenant. Blowing past cultural barriers, he became Commanding Officer of a Machine-Gun Platoon of Company B, First Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division. His opportunity to earn the respect of his troops and prove his solidarity as an American citizen would soon arise on the rugged mountain ranges of northeast Korea.

Outnumbered by Communist Chinese forces and facing temperatures 20 degrees below zero, Lee boldly exposed himself to enemy fire as he braved the enemy-held slope. His audacious one-man attack forced the Chinese to fire and reveal their battle stations, which gave his platoon the opportunity to capture the base. Despite injuries sustained on the battlefield, Lee went on to lead 500 marines on a grueling night mission to save their fellow soldiers, the Fox Company, at the battle of Chosin Reservoir. In a mission unprecedented in Marine Corps history, Lee’s company fought for every inch of ground and safely evacuated Fox Company to the Port City of Hungnam. As the first officer of Asian descent to be commissioned in the United States Marine Corps, Lee is not only a pioneer but also a shining example of resolve and courage.

We honor you, Kurt Lee.

(#Repost @Smithsonian Channel)

SGT Florence Fawley

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Florence was born in Paterson, NJ. She was a pioneer for girls and women and made an incredible impact in many lives. She attended nursing school and worked for Curtiss-Wright Propellers prior to becoming the first woman from Paterson to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve and quickly moved up in rank to Sergeant. Florence became the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve recruiting posters model. She later became a NYC Conover Agency model and a Vargas girl. Florence was a leader in promoting women’s health and beauty. While raising her children as an Air Force wife, she was involved in a variety of community service organizations. She later was the office manager for Dr. K.S. Foltz, coached the all girls Buckeye Track Club, and was honored with numerous community service awards including the Westerville Sertoma “Service to Mankind” award. Florence had multiple USA national running records for Women Masters. She ran a marathon at age 61. Florence was inducted into the Ohio Veteran’s Hall of Fame. Most recently, she was honored by the naming of the Women’s Marine Association OH-3 Florence Jelsma Fawley Chapter, for the Columbus and Dayton area.

We honor you, Florence Fawley.

(#Repost @WomensMarines)

1stLt Baldomero Lopez

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One of the Korean War’s most recognized images is that of a young Marine scaling a wall during the invasion of Inchon on Sept. 15, 1950.

Stepping over the seawall on the northern side of Red Beach, Marine Corps 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez is the picture of courage.

Lopez, the son of Spanish immigrants, grew up in Tampa, Florida, and enlisted in the Navy in 1943, but was soon tapped to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. He joined the Marines after graduation. Today, a picture of Lopez and a citation hang outside his academy room. Lopez’s actions immediately after the photograph at Inchon was taken are why his picture will always have a place of honor in that hallway.

Just a few months into the Korean War, Lopez and his platoon were engaged in the reduction of immediate enemy beach defenses after landing with the assault waves. Exposing himself to hostile fire, Lopez moved forward alongside a bunker and prepared to throw a hand grenade into the next pillbox from which fire was pinning down that sector of the beach.

Taken under fire by an enemy automatic weapon and hit in the right shoulder and chest as he lifted his arm to throw, Lopez fell backward and dropped the deadly grenade. After a moment, he turned and dragged his body forward in an effort to retrieve the grenade and throw it. In critical condition from pain and loss of blood, and unable to grasp the hand grenade firmly enough to hurl it, he chose to sacrifice himself rather than endanger the lives of his men, and with a sweeping motion of his wounded right arm, cradled the grenade under him and absorbed the full impact of the explosion. He did not survive the blast.

President Harry S. Truman presented the Medal of Honor posthumously to Lopez’s parents in a ceremony at the White House in 1951. Lopez is the only Hispanic-American graduate of the academy to receive the Medal of Honor.

We honor you, Baldomero Lopez.

(#Repost @DoD live)

Betty Sutton White

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Recruiting women had been a constant challenge for the military during World War II. Mobilizing women to meet the demand for personnel became even more difficult during the Korean War. To attract women recruits, the Department of Defense (DoD) launched a nationwide recruiting campaign including newspaper stories and media events glamorizing the image of women in the military. Betty (Sutton) White of Pennsylvania was one of the first group of women from all service branches to recruit for Women Officer Procurement. She served with Headquarters Marine Corps Northeastern Recruiting, out of the recruiting office in Boston, MA.

We honor you, Betty White.

(#Repost @Women’s Memorial)

Sgt Henry A “Hank” Bauer

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Henry A “Hank” Bauer was born in East St Louis, Illinois on July 31, 1922. The youngest of nine children, Bauer’s father was an Austrian immigrant who worked as a bartender having earlier lost his leg in an aluminum mill.

After graduating from Central Catholic High School, Bauer went to work repairing furnaces in a beer-bottling plant when his older brother Herman – who was playing in the White Sox farm system – was able to get him a tryout that resulted in a contract with Oshkosh Giants of the Wisconsin State League. Alternating between infield and outfield, he batted .262.

In January 1942, Bauer enlisted in the Marine Corps. He took basic training at Mare Island, California, where he also played for the camp baseball team. 

But the easy life came to an abrupt halt. “One morning,” Bauer told TIME magazine in 1964, “this sergeant came up to me and said, ‘Why don’t you volunteer for the Raider battalion?’ I said okay. But the first thing they told me was, ‘You’ve got to swim a mile with a full pack on your back.’ I said, ‘Hell, I can’t even swim,’ and they turned me down. I told the sergeant what happened. He said, ‘You gutless SOB, go back down there.’ So I told them I knew how to swim. They took me.” 

Bauer came down with malaria almost as soon as he hit the South Pacific. “My weight dropped from 190 pounds to 160 pounds,” he said. “I was eating atabrine tablets like candy.” Temporarily recovered (over the next four years, Bauer had 24 malarial attacks), he fought on New Georgia, was hit in the back by shrapnel on Guam. Next came Emirau off New Guinea, then Okinawa. Sixty-four men were in Platoon Sergeant Bauer’s landing group on Okinawa; six got out alive. Hank himself was wounded again on June 4, 1945. “I saw this reflection of sunshine on something coming down. It was an artillery shell, and it hit right behind me.” A piece of shrapnel tore a jagged hole in Bauer’s left thigh. Also wounded that day was Richard C Goss, who was serving with Bauer. “There goes my baseball career,” Bauer told Goss as they were evacuated together. Bauer’s part in the war was over —after 32 months of combat, eleven campaign ribbons, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.

His brother, Herman, was not so fortunate. He was killed in action in France with the 3rd Armored Division on July 12, 1944

Bauer felt there was no future for him in baseball so he joined the pipe fitters’ union in East St. Louis, and got a job as a wrecker, dismantling an old factory. But a roving baseball scout named Danny Menendez found him and offered him a tryout with the Quincy Gems, a Yankees’ farm club.  

Bauer hit .323 at Quincy and promptly moved up to the Kansas City Blues, where he hit .313 in 1947 and .305 in 1948. Bauer played 19 games with the Yankees in 1948, he played 100-plus games in Yankees’ pinstripes for the next 11 seasons, plus nine World Series appearances. 

During the 1960s, Bauer managed the Kansas City Athletics and Baltimore Orioles.  In 1966 he led the Orioles to the World Series where they defeated the Dodgers in four games. Bauer then ran a liquor store for many years.

Hank Bauer died of cancer in Shawnee Mission, Kansas on February 9, 2007. 

We honor you, Hank Bauer.

(#Repost @Baseball in Wartime)

BGen Joseph Jacob “Joe” Foss

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Joe Foss was born 17 April 1915 on a farm near Sioux Falls, South Dakota. When he was 12, he saw Charles Lindbergh on tour. He took his first flight when he was 16 in a Ford Tri-Motor. Just before Joe’s 18th birthday, his father was killed by a downed power line leaving Joe to help care for his family: odd jobs, schooling & the occasional flying lesson followed. When he was 25 he graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

With that in hand, he joined the Marines with a wish to fly. He was winged in Miami on 29 March 1941. He served as an instructor in Pensacola & was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on 10 April 1942. He joined VMF-121 & was promoted to Capt., 11 Aug 1942. VMF-121 sailed to Guadalcanal on board the USS Copahee, their Wildcats landing at Henderson Field, 9 October 1942.

For the next 3 months, “Joe’s Flying Circus” helped defend the island from extensive Japanese counter-attacks. On 7 November, he was shot down (in F4F-4 02147 or 03453 in USN/USMC AC loss list) by enemy fighters (bullets just missing his head) while strafing Japanese ships 240 kilometers north of Guadalcanal. He struggled in his life-jacket for five hours in a storm with sharks circling until members of a Catholic mission from the island of Malaita, who happened to be paddling by in canoes, rescued him. In his autobiography he said he broke a chlorine capsule to keep the sharks away. “It’s a good thing I didn’t know, as would later be proven, that chlorine doesn’t protect swimmers from shark attacks,” Sick with malaria, he was evacuated along with the rest of 121 on 19 November. He returned on 1 January 1943.

On 15 January 1943, he had matched Eddie Rickenbacker’s record of 26 planes destroyed.
He left the Island on 26 January. On 8 May 1943 he received the Medal of Honor from President Roosevelt during a special ceremony at the White House.

Promoted to Major, 1 June 1943, he became CO of VMF-115 on 17 July 1943. He held that post until 20 September 1944 when a recurrence of Malaria forced him to relinquish command. He returned to Sioux Falls, where he and a friend ran the Joe Foss Flying Service, building it into a venture with 35 airplanes.

In 1946, he left the Marine Corps to accept a Commission in the South Dakota National Guard as a Lt. Colonel. In 1948 he was elected to the South Dakota House of Representatives where he served a two-year term.

When the Korean War broke out, the Marines recalled him, and he directed training. He was promoted to Colonel in 1950 & then to Brigadier General in 1954. In 1954 he was elected Governor of South Dakota (The youngest Governor the the history of the state). He was re-elected in 1956.

We honor you, Joe Foss.

(#Repost @acesofww2)

SgtMaj Leland D. Crawford

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Sergeant Major Leland D. Crawford, the 9th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps passed away on 16 February 1993.

Sergeant Major Crawford was born in Sharon, West Virginia, on 16 February 1930. He attended East Bank (West Virginia) High School and later graduated from high school on Okinawa, Japan. He enlisted in the Marine Corps on 26 September 1951 and underwent recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Following recruit training, he was assigned to Infantry Training School, Camp Pendleton, California. Upon completion of his training, he was assigned to the 1st Marine Division in Korea, where he served as a rifleman and artillery man until July 1953. He then reported to the 2d Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

In June 1956, Sergeant Major Crawford was assigned to his first tour of duty as a drill instructor at Parris Island where he remained until October 1958. He was then assigned to the 1st Marine Brigade in Hawaii, remaining there until October 1961. He returned to drill instructor duty, this time at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California, until February 1964. After this tour, he was transferred to Twentynine Palms, California, as a gunnery sergeant with 4th Battalion 11th Marines.

He joined the 3d Marine Division on Okinawa in February 1965, and the following month sailed for Vietnam. In March 1966, he returned to Twentynine Palms, where he was promoted to first sergeant. He served as First Sergeant for Headquarters Company, Force Troops until 1967. Returning to Vietnam, he served as a Company First Sergeant, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines. During this tour he earned the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” and gold star in lieu of second award; and later a Purple Heart for wounds received on 11 June 1968.

Sergeant Major Crawford was then transferred to Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., as Company First Sergeant, Ceremonial Guard Company from October 1968 to December 1970. He again returned to Vietnam to serve as First Sergeant, Company D, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines.

In May 1971, he returned to Camp Pendleton where he was promoted to Sergeant Major. He was then assigned as Sergeant Major of 2d Battalion, 1st Marines until April 1974. He again returned to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego to serve as Sergeant Major of the 1st Recruit Training Battalion until January 1976. The following year he served as the Group Sergeant Major of Marine Air Control Group 18 on Okinawa. He reported back to the 1st Marine Division in February 1977 and became Sergeant Major of the 11th Marine Regiment.

In May 1979, Sergeant Major Crawford became the Sergeant Major of the 1st Marine Division and remained in that billet until his selection as the 9th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. He served in that post from 15 August 1979 until his retirement on 30 June 1983.

Sergeant Major Crawford’s personal decorations consist of the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” and Gold Star in lieu of second award; the Purple Heart Medal; and the Combat Action Ribbon. He was presented the Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious service to the government of the United States in a duty of great responsibility as the 9th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.

We honor you, Leland Crawford.

(#Repost @USMC)