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 @https://www.history.com/news/10-famous-korean-war-veterans; https://www.needsomefun.net/johnny-cash-army-12-photos/)

CPL James Bumgarner “Garner”

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In his memoir, Garner claimed to have been the first Oklahoman drafted into the Korean War. Born James Bumgarner (he shortened his named when he began acting), the future star of “Maverick” and “The Rockford Files” served as a U.S. Army private in the 5th Regimental Combat Team, which sustained heavy casualties in Korea. On just his second day in Korea, Garner was hit with shrapnel from a mortar round while on patrol and sustained minor injuries to his hand and face. In April 1951, he was hospitalized after dislocating a shoulder, suffering phosphorous burns and being struck in the upper leg while diving into a foxhole. Garner, who received two Purple Hearts for his injuries, made his film debut in 1956 and starred in several war dramas including “The Great Escape.”

We honor you, James Garner.

(#Repost @https://www.history.com/news/10-famous-korean-war-veterans; https://army.togetherweserved.com/army/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApps?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=Person&ID=274657)

BG Benjamin O. Davis Sr.

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On Oct. 25, 1940, Benjamin O. Davis Sr. became the first African American to hold star rank in the U.S. Army and in the armed forces. He was promoted to brigadier general, temporary — a situation with which he was all too familiar, as his promotions to major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel had all originally been “temporary.” Such was the situation for black officers in Davis’s day — all two or three of them.

Fortunately for today’s 10,000-plus African-American Army officers, Davis was a patient man. Born in Washington in 1877, he first entered the military as a temporary first lieutenant on July 13, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Mustered out in 1899, he enlisted as a private just six months later. Within two years, he had been commissioned a second lieutenant of cavalry in the regular Army.

Davis’s service as an officer with the famed “Buffalo Soldiers” regiment in the Philippines and on the Mexican border was exemplary, yet his subsequent assignments as a college ROTC instructor and as a National Guard advisor were far from the front lines. All of his postings, including duty as the military attache to Liberia, were designed to avoid putting Davis in command of white troops or officers.

Because these were not high profile jobs, Davis rose slowly through the ranks, earning his colonel’s eagle only in 1930. In 1938, he received his first independent command, the 369th National Guard Infantry Regiment. When Davis was promoted to brigadier, some saw it as a political action from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

However, as advisor on race relations in the European theater during World War II, Davis, as his Distinguished Service Medal citation relates, showed “initiative, intelligence and sympathetic understanding” while conducting investigations, bringing about “a fair and equitable solution to … problems which have since become the basis of far-reaching War Department policy.”

Davis’s slow, steady, and determined rise in the Army paved the way for countless minority men and women — including his son Benjamin O. Davis Jr., a West Point graduate who in 1954 became only the second African-American general in the U.S. military and the first in the Air Force.

We honor you, Benjamin Davis Sr.

(#Repost @Military.com)

Sp4c John Philip Baca

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Baca was born on January 10, 1949, in Providence, Rhode Island. He was raised in San Diego, California. Baca was drafted into the United States Army on June 10, 1968.
By February 10, 1970, he was stationed in Vietnam as a Specialist Four with Company D of the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. On that day, in Phuoc Long Province, he was serving on a recoilless rifle team when the lead platoon of his company was ambushed. Baca led his team forward through intense fire to reach the besieged platoon. When a fragmentation grenade was tossed into their midst, he “unhesitatingly, and with complete disregard for his own safety,” covered it with his helmet and then laid his body over the helmet, smothering the blast and saving eight fellow soldiers from severe injury or death. Baca survived his wounds and was formally awarded the Medal of Honor by President Richard M. Nixon on March 2, 1971. Two other soldiers in Company D, Allen J. Lynch and Rodney J. Evans, had previously earned the medal.

He says he should have died in Vietnam on Feb. 10, 1970. Baca, a 21-year-old soldier, found himself in the middle of a gunfight and watched a grenade land in the middle of his patrol. “I saw my whole life flash through me. What do I do? Do I pick it up? Do I throw it? Where did it come from? It’s not supposed to be here, and do I run from it? Somebody is going to get wounded,” Baca said. “All these thoughts went through my mind.”

He covered the grenade with his helmet and then covered his helmet with his body, saving the lives of the men around him. He remembers praying to Jesus and feeling as if an angelic presence was holding him as he lay bleeding on the battlefield.

In 1990, Baca returned to Vietnam with ten other soldiers of the Veterans Vietnam Restoration Project. The group spent eight weeks working alongside former North Vietnamese Army soldiers building a health clinic in a village north of Hanoi.
Baca rarely speaks publicly about the events for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. However, he prefers to recall an event that occurred on Christmas Day, 1969, when he was walking ahead of his unit, acting as “point,” and surprised a young North Vietnamese soldier sitting alone on top of an enemy bunker in the jungle. He saw that the soldier could not reach his rifle quickly and, not wanting to shoot him, yelled in Vietnamese for him to surrender. Not only was he able to take his “Christmas gift” alive and unharmed, the young man, twenty years later, was among the Vietnamese that Baca worked with building the clinic in 1990. Baca remains active in social causes, particularly related to Vietnam veterans issues and the plight of the homeless.

In 2002, a park was named in his honor in Huntington Beach, California. After living in Orange County, Baca moved to Julian, California, enjoying the relative solitude. Gaudette’s pie shop is a local favorite, and Baca is her best customer, sometimes ordering 10 pies a week. Baca says he doesn’t own a television anymore or a computer. Instead, he spends his days talking with people. He listens to their stories and occasionally he shares his.

44 years later, Baca continues to be a giver. The apple pies are proof. They aren’t for him, but for strangers all across the country: Wounded warriors who’ve lost limbs and families who’ve lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It’s just a delight doing this. Making some people happy, people we’ve forgotten about. But, pies…everybody likes pies,” Baca said.

“He is the most generous man I’ve ever met in my life. I don’t think he wants to own anything in this life. He wants to give it all away,” said Mike Murray, a friend and a veteran himself also living in Julian.

We honor you, John Baca.

(#Repost @Hawaii Reporter)

MAJ Emiline Ann “Duce” Bourgeois

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Major Emiline Ann “Duce” Bourgeois, a native of Thibodaux referred to by the National World War II Museum as the oldest living female WWII veteran in Louisiana, whose service also included the Korean and Vietnam wars, died Oct. 30, 2015. She was 103.

In February 1945, near what would eventually be the end of World War II, Bourgeois, then 33, joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. Her first assignment saw her serving in the Philippines, nursing wounded soldiers. A second assignment, also in the Philippines, saw her serving in combat hospitals.

In a recent interview with the Houma-Thibodaux magazine & website Point of Vue, Bourgeois recalled how wounded GIs were happy to have an American nurse to talk to. She had many boyfriends, but chose to never marry.

“They were very young, and they didn’t know how old I was because I seemed to always look younger than I am,” she told WWL-TV’s Bill Capo in a 2011 interview where she was celebrated at a Veterans Day ceremony in Thibodaux.

Bourgeois, or “Duce” – the nickname was given to her by her grandfather, referencing the French word for “sweet” – also served in post-World War II occupied Germany. Her last assignment was as head nurse of obstetrics at the West Point Academy Hospital in New York.

Her wartime service was honored with many awards including the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the National Defense Medal, the Germany Occupational Medal, and a West Point Academy patch.

Born on Dec. 24, 1911 in the St. Charles community, south of Thibodaux, young “Duce” attended and graduated from St. Charles High School in 1929. She then headed to New Orleans, where she first found odd jobs, including working at S.H. Kress & Co. dime store on Canal Street. She then enrolled in the Hotel Dieu School of Nursing, from which she graduated in 1941. Her specialty was obstetrics.

As she progressed in her military career after WWII, Bourgeois was awarded the rank of 1st Lieutenant and then Captain. During the Vietnam War, she was assigned to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York, where she served as the charge nurse of the obstetrical ward.

She retired in 1962 to care for her parents, who lived well into their 90s. She also returned to nursing, accepting a general nursing position at St. Joseph Hospital, where she would continue to work for 20 years.

We honor you, Emiline Bourgeois.

(#Repost @The Star Press)

RDML William “Bill” E. Newman

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Rear Admiral Bill Newman, a 1961 Naval Academy graduate, retired from active duty in 1996, culminating 35 years of commissioned service.

Primarily an aircraft carrier-based naval aviator, he served as attack pilot, experimental test pilot, and flight demonstration pilot as leader of the Navy’s Blue Angels. Bill logged 950 carrier landings and 5200 pilot hours in 53 types of U.S. and British military aircraft. During 1965 combat operations in Vietnam, Bill’s A-4 “Skyhawk” was hit by enemy ground fire on several missions. He was shot down and rescued on a Friday-the-13th–a not-too-unlucky day.

During 1978/79, as Commanding Officer/Flight Leader of the Navy’s Blue Angels, Bill led the team in 200+ air shows throughout the USA and Canada flying the A-4 “Skyhawk II”.
Along the way, Bill had the following sea commands: Attack Squadron-195 flying the A-7 “Corsair II”, the 90 aircraft comprising Carrier Air Wing NINE onboard the aircraft carrier Constellation, and the USS White Plains, a 17,000-ton combat stores ship operating in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

During the last ten years of his career, Bill served in the Naval Air Systems Command as a Materiel Professional. His responsibilities included major acquisition program management, engineering oversight of naval aviation development programs, and flag command of the Naval Air Warfare Centers’ research and test activities performed on 53,000 square miles of test ranges in southern California.

We honor you, William Newman.

(#Repost @Angels and British Photo from: Aloft Magazine)

Kemal Amin “Casey” Kasem

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The American disc jockey was a student at Detroit’s Wayne State University when he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1952 at the age of 20. Kasem was sent to Korea, where he honed his on-air broadcast skills as a DJ and announcer for the Armed Forces Radio network. The future host of “American Top 40” produced and performed in radio dramas broadcast to the troops. After returning home, Kasem found work in radio stations across the United States.

We honor you, Casey Kasem.

(#Repost @https://www.history.com/news/10-famous-korean-war-veterans)