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)

CPT Rhona Marie Knox Prescott

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War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Army Nurse Corps
Unit: 3rd Field Hospital; 616th Clearing Company; 85th Evacuation Hospital
Service Location: Texas; Virginia; Georgia; Oklahoma; South Korea; Saigon, An Khe, and Qui Nhon, South Vietnam

We honor you, Rhona Prescott.

(#Repost @http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp-stories/loc.natlib.afc2001001.01146/)

CPL Wendy Marie Wamsley Taines

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War: Persian Gulf War, 1991
Branch: Army
Unit: 15th Evacuation Hospital
Service Location: Fort Dix, New Jersey; San Antonio, Texas; Fort Polk, Louisiana; Saudi Arabia

In 1989, Wendy Wamsley was a troubled 17-year-old high school student with bad grades and an attitude to match. When her policeman father informed her she was joining the Army—or she was moving out of the house—she agreed to enlist. What she couldn’t have anticipated was a tour of duty as a medic during the Persian Gulf War, an experience which definitely provided her with an attitude adjustment.

We honor you, Wendy Wamsley Taines.

(#Repost @http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp-stories/loc.natlib.afc2001001.24791/)

Lt Col Gregory A. M. Etzel

2018-9-7 Etzel

Greg Etzel was born on April 9, 1936, in Brooklyn, New York. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt through the Air Force ROTC program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, on June 7, 1957, and went on active duty beginning February 27, 1958. Lt Etzel next completed pilot training and was awarded his pilot wings at Craig AFB, Alabama, in April 1959, followed by Helicopter Pilot training at Stead AFB, Nevada, from May to October 1959.

His first assignment was as an SH-21B Work Horse helicopter pilot with the 46th Air Rescue Squadron at Otis AFB, Massachusetts, from November 1959 to March 1960, and then as an SH-21B Rescue Alert Pilot with Headquarters Air Force Iceland at Keflavik Airport, Iceland, from March 1960 to March 1961. He then served as an H-21 and then CH-3C Jolly Green Giant pilot with the 1371st and 1375th Mapping and Charting Squadrons at Turner AFB, Georgia, from March 1961 to June 1967, followed by service as an HH-3E pilot with Detachment 2 of the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron at Udorn Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from June to October 1967. Capt Etzel next served as an HH-3E pilot with Detachment 1 of the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from October 1967 to July 1968.

He then attended Naval Test Pilot School from July 1968 to June 1969, followed by service as an Aerospace Research Flight Test Officer in the VTOL Section with the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, California, from August 1969 to August 1973. LtCol Etzel served as an HH-3E pilot and Operations Officer with the 1st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron at McClellan AFB, California, from August 1973 to April 1975, and then as a Flight Test Officer with the Flight Test Engineering Division, 6510th Test Wing, at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB from November 1975 until his retirement from the Air Force on July 1, 1979.

His official Air Cross Citation reads:

“Captain Gregory A. M. Etzel distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force in Southeast Asia as an HH-3E helicopter pilot on 2 and 3 July 1967. On the 2nd of July, Captain Etzel flew his helicopter into one of the most heavily defended area of North Vietnam to rescue a downed F-105 pilot. Unable to effect a pickup because of oncoming darkness and intense small arms fire that damaged his aircraft, Captain Etzel withdrew from the area. After landing at a friendly base, he volunteered to continue rescue operations the next day. After minimum rest, he took off at first light and flew through intense automatic fire, dodged deadly missiles, and evaded attacking MIGs in search of the downed pilot. In the face of heavy small arms fire that severely damaged his helicopter, he located and rescued this valuable pilot. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Captain Etzel reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.”

Major Richard Mehr flew combat support in his A-1E Skyraider to defend the downed pilot in this rescue effort and aided Captain Etzel’s recovery effort. For his actions, Major Mehr was also awarded the Air Force Cross.

We honor you, Gregory Etzel.

(#Repost @Veteran Tributes and Hall of Valor)