MG Harry William Brooks, Jr.

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Retired Major General Harry W. Brooks, Jr. was born May 17, 1928, in segregated Indianapolis, Indiana. A good student, he attended P.S. 42, P.S. 87 and Crispus Attucks High School, graduating in 1947 as an officer in the ROTC. Joining the United States Army as a private, Brooks soon rose to sergeant and used the provisions of the G.I. Bill to attend college. Noticed because of his baseball prowess, he was invited to Officer Candidates School (OCS) and received his commission as a second lieutenant in 1949. Brooks went on to obtain his B.A. degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1962 and an M.A. degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1973. He also completed the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Program.

Becoming an officer during the U.S. Army’s desegregation efforts, Brooks served in Japan with a logistics command in support of Korea. Serving in Germany as an artillery officer, Brooks also served a tour in Vietnam. His subordinate officers included Colin Powell. While attending the United States War College from 1969 to 1970, he coauthored The Gathering Storm: An Analysis of Racial Instability Within the Army. Appointed Army Director of Equal Opportunity Programs at the Pentagon in 1972, Brooks was promoted to major general in 1974, as the 6th African American general in United States history. As the commanding general of the famed 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, Brooks was responsible for 16,000 men and for ordering 10,000 of them to return to school for high school and associate degrees.

His decorations included: the Distinguished Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, two Legion of Merit Medals, two Bronze Star Medals, and seven Air Medals. Awards from NAACP and Kiwanis recognized Brooks volunteer activities. After retirement in 1976, Brooks became executive vice president of Amfac, Inc. He then founded, with some of his friends, Advanced Consumer Marketing Corporation, which was heralded as the Department of Commerce Minority Business Enterprise of the Year in 1989 and the Black Enterprise Company of the Year in 1990. Married with four adult sons, Brooks was chairman of Brooks International and lived in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Brooks passed away on August 28, 2017 at age 89.

We honor you, Harry Brooks Jr.

(#Repost @History Makers)

WO5 Greg McManus

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As a young boy of five or six years of age, Greg McManus (pictured left) recalls attending an aviation event in the Kansas City area and growing infatuated by the aircraft and the pilots who flew them. It was at this event, he noted, that a pilot picked him up, placed him in the cockpit of his plane, and explained to him the controls of the aircraft, which became the initial inspiration that would lead to his lengthy career in aviation.

“I can still remember vividly the details of that experience and how it provided me the interest to someday pursue becoming a pilot,” McManus said.

“They sent me to basic training at Ft. Polk, Louisiana, in March of 1968,” he said, “and then on to Ft. Wolters, Texas, for primary flight training.” He added, “When I arrived at Texas, I was thinking the entire time I would be flying airplanes, but when they placed me in rotary wing (helicopters), I said ‘something’s wrong’ because I signed up to fly airplanes.”

As McManus discovered, the needs of the Army generally prevail and he remained in rotary-wing training for the next several weeks. After learning to pilot helicopters such as the OH-23 Hiller and TH-55, he transferred to Hunter-Stewart, Georgia, where he was introduced to the aircraft that would see wide use in the Vietnam War—the UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” helicopter.

“It certainly had a lot more power than the other helicopters we flew in training,” said McManus of his early experience aboard the Huey.

With his training complete in the early weeks of 1969, the young pilot was pinned a warrant officer and returned home to visit his family on two weeks of leave before making the trip to California for deployment to Vietnam. Shortly after his arrival overseas, he was assigned to 162nd Assault Helicopter Company stationed in Dong Tam, Vietnam.

As the veteran recalled, his introduction to overseas service was rather brusque. “My second week there, I was co-pilot aboard a Huey and we got shot down,” McManus recalled. “The caution lights came on and we were able to land in an open area.” He added, “We yanked the radios and weapons from our helicopter and a helicopter in our formation followed us down and picked us up.”

In the weeks after his arrival, the young pilot began flying missions as the primary pilot on a UH-1C—a variant of the helicopter designed for the gunship role and equipped with two 7.62mm mini-guns, 2.75-inch rocket launchers, 40mm cannon and two door gunners firing M-60 machine guns.

“We were kind of on-call and would support a number of missions that included troop insertions, troop extractions and providing cover for medevacs,” he said. “Our gunship was also equipped to lay down smoke screens prior to the troop ships landing to insert troops.”

On March 5, 1970, the young warrant officer participated in a flight that later earned him the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. On this date, he was flying a single gunship at night on a mission north of Chau Duc, when he discovered an enemy convoy infiltrating South Vietnam along a trail from the Cambodian border.

“Without hesitation, (McManus) attacked the enemy, completely disregarding the hail of tracers which rose to meet him,” noted the orders dated June 25, 1970, which announced the presentation of the award to McManus. “He fired his rockets the entire length of the convoy, confusing the enemy and scattering the troop column.”

The aviator would go on to attack and destroy an armored vehicle towing a large artillery piece all while negotiating the helicopter through continued machine gun fire. He eventually expended all his ordnance and sustained significant damage to the aircraft, necessitating it be flown to a remote Special Forces site where it was later recovered.

His tour in Vietnam ended early April 1970, the closing moments of an experience that resulted in the award of 37 Air Medals, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses and nearly 1,000 combat flight hours. Returning to the United States, McManus later enlisted in the Missouri National Guard and went on to complete the second combat tour of his career while in Iraq from 2006 to 2007.

He finished his career in 2009 as a chief warrant officer 5 and with 41 years of service and 16,200 flight hours, possessing a legacy that includes several fascinating experiences on which he can now reflect in his retirement. He asserts, however, that some of the most enjoyable moments have been when he was able to inspire a new generation of aviators … just as he was inspired as a child.

“I was very lucky to have been part of the military and to have worked with such a great group of people who were always there for you when you needed them,” he explained.

He added, “Many times in the past, the National Guard participated in public events where we would demonstrate our aircraft to the public. These events,” he continued, “were very important to me because it gave me the opportunity to teach children and our youth a little about aviation and hopefully inspire some of them to consider pursuing it as a career someday.

“For me, carrying forth that inspiration I received as a child was both rewarding and memorable.”

We honor you, Greg McManus.

(Submission by: GP Cox. #Repost @War History Online)

GEN James J. Lindsay

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Although James Lindsay never intended to stay in the US Army when he joined, the decorated General has been devoted to service in the military for six decades.

General James Lindsay was born in Portage, Wisconsin on October 10, 1932. His childhood on his family farm prepared him for service, and the loss of his family farm prepared him for hardship and sacrifice.

When he could no longer afford college in 1952, he enlisted in the US Army and joined the 82nd Airborne Division, the following year. He went on to serve nine assignments in the 82nd and commanded the Division from 1982-83.  He served two tours in Viet Nam, 1964-65 and 1968-69 and two years in Thailand, 1971-73.

Lindsay’s military education includes successful training at Infantry Officer Candidate School, Infantry Advanced Course, Army Language School (Russian and German), The USMC Command & Staff College, and the National War College. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska and a Master of Science in Foreign Affairs from George Washington University.

Lindsay was the first Commander in Chief of United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). He was inducted into the United States Army Ranger, the Officer Candidate School and the 82nd Airborne Division Halls of Fame. He retired in 1990 as Commander of USSOCOM. General Lindsay then served from 1990 to 2009 as a Senior Mentor in the Army’s Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) coaching leaders who were commanding brigades, divisions and corps. In 1990, he founded the Airborne and Special Operations Museum Foundation, which raised $27 million to build the museum, which opened in 2000.

Lindsay’s career disproves Georges Clemenceau’s oft quoted “War is too important to be left to the generals,”

We honor you, James Lindsay.

(#Repost @Pritzker Military Museum & Library)

2LT Vernal J. Bird

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In 1941 he enlisted in the army and attended Field Artillery School. In 1942 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. His training took him many places in the western U.S. and finally to South Carolina and Georgia.

On March 12, 1944 he was on his eighth mission flying his A-20G Havoc over Boram Airstrip near Wewak, Papua New Guinea. His plane began lagging behind. The plane was subsequently lost in the Prince Alexander Range. It was decades before a Papuan national found the crash site.

Remains and data plates from the engines were turned over to recovery teams and then to JPAC Central Identification Laboratory, Hickam Field, Hawaii. Positive identification was confirmed on August 28, 2013 by his sister Elaine.

Numerous family members and friends, many who never met him, have mourned his loss and worried about the circumstances for 69 years. Those who knew him remember well his kindness and friendship to people of all ages.

We honor you, Vernal Bird.

(#Repost @The Daily Herald)

Capt Edward A Nachowitz

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Nachowitz was assigned to 93TCS, 439TCG, 9AF USAAF. He completed 4 x combat missions, with 500+ combat hrs. He failed to Return (FTR) on a re-supply mission to Bastogne, towing 2 Waco gliders.He was hit by flak in fuel tanks, broke formation and released gliders, allowing crew to bale. Nachowitz remained at controls to ensure crews departure, and was subsequently killed in the crash.

We honor you, Edward Nachowitz.

(#Repost @American Air Museum in Britain)

TSgt Charles Luther Blount

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Charles Blount was often the last person to see a paratrooper as he dove out of the plane over a drop zone. “I counted them as they went out,” Blount says, detailing the events that took place aboard his plane in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944. From Normandy to Holland to the Battle of the Bulge, Blount saw the beginning of three major campaigns for victory in Europe. The following is the record of the plane crash he was involved in:

The plane was loaded with approximately 150-200 Jerry cans of gasoline. As Lt Estelle lowered the landing gear and made his approach to land, he instructed his crew chief to look out the glass dome for enemy planes. Charles Blount spotted two ME-109s behind and above them. He dropped to the floor and attempted to shout a warning, but 20MM explosive rounds were already ripping through the plane. A fragment from an exploding round struck TSgt Blount in the shoulder. The impact drove him back to the floor, landing behind the co-pilot’s seat. He managed to get into the cockpit and found the pilot and co-pilot uninjured. The pilot had shut all systems down to reduce the danger of fire inside the plane. One wing was ablaze as the pilot made a safe landing. In the words of TSgt Blount, “they landed without spilling a single can of gasoline.”

Later TSgt Blount found the base of the 20MM exploding round inside the plane, which he kept as a souvenir. The fragment in his shoulder remained there the rest of his life.

In 1981 in a bar, in Michigan, two men struck up a conversation. One said he had grown up in Germany, but now lived in the US and practiced law. The two men were about the same age which caused the second man to ask if the lawyer had been in the war. He stated he had been a fighter pilot. The second man said he had also been a C-47 pilot. The German said “I shot down a C-47 one morning near Kassel, Germany.”

The two pilots had first met 26 years earlier in the air near Kassel, Germany as war time enemies.

We honor you, Charles Blount.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project and National Purple Heart Hall of Honor)

 

CPT Elsie S. Ott

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During World War II, the U.S. Army Air Corps pioneered military medical care through the development of air evacuations of wounded personnel. Contributing to this was 2nd Lt. Elsie S. Ott, a flight nurse on the first intercontinental air evacuation flight that demonstrated the potential of air evacuation. Born in 1913 in Smithtown, N.Y, Ott attended Lenox Hill Hospital School of Nursing in New York City after completing high school.

After several positions in area hospitals, Ott joined the Army Nurse Corps in September 1941. She was commissioned as a second lieutenant soon after and had assignments to Louisiana and Virginia before being sent to Karachi, India. It was during this assignment that she would participate in the first air evacuation. Originating from Karachi, India, patients were evacuated to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Ott was assigned to the flight with only 24 hours’ notice. Prior to this she had no flying experience and had never flown before. She gathered blankets, sheets and pillows for the trip, but the only medical equipment available to her was nothing more than a first aid kit. No medical professional screened the patients who were to fly with Ott, and she and a sergeant with a medical background were the only people on board to care for patients.

The plane left Karachi with five wounded personnel Jan. 17, 1943. Of those five, two were paralyzed from the waist down, one suffered from tuberculosis, another with glaucoma and the fifth was suffering manic-depressive psychosis. After stops along the way for refueling, the plane reached its destination nearly a week after beginning — normally a three month trip by ship.

Ott knew that her report on the trip would be crucial for further planning, and she immediately sat down to make notes for future flights. Among the suggestions she listed were the need for oxygen, more wound dressing supplies, extra coffee and blankets. She also noted that wearing a skirt was impractical for this kind of duty.

Two months later, Ott received the first U.S. Air Medal, the first given to a woman in the U.S. Army, for her role in the evacuation flight. She would later be promoted to captain before being discharged in 1946. Nearly 20 years later in 1965, Ott was selected to christen a new type of air ambulance: the C-9 Nightingale.

We honor you, Elsie Ott.

(#Repost @Military.com)