MajGen Charles F. Bolden, Jr.

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Aerospace engineer and Major General (ret.) Charles F. Bolden, Jr. was born on August 19, 1946 in Columbia, South Carolina. He graduated from C.A. Johnson High School in 1964. Both of his parents, Charles and Ethel Bolden, were teachers and stressed the importance of education. Bolden received his B.S. degree in electrical science from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968, and earned his M.S. degree in systems management from the University of Southern California in 1977. He then accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps following graduation from the Naval Academy and underwent flight training at Pensacola, Florida, Meridian, Mississippi, and Kingsville, Texas.

Between June 1972 and June 1973, Bolden flew more than 100 combat missions into North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in the A-6A Intruder while stationed in Nam Phong, Thailand. After returning to the United States, Bolden served in a variety of positions in the Marine Corps. He was then assigned to the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, where he completed his training in 1979. While working at the Naval Air Test Center’s Systems Engineering and Strike Aircraft Test Directorates, he tested a variety of ground attack aircraft until his selection as an astronaut candidate in 1980. Bolden’s NASA astronautical career included technical assignments. He served as pilot on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1986. In the wake of the Challenger disaster, he was assigned as the chief of the Safety Division. In 1990, he piloted the Space Shuttle Discovery during its mission to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope. Bolden served as the Mission Commander for Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1992 and the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1994. He logged more than 680 hours during these four flights. Bolden left NASA and returned to the U.S. Marine Corps in 1997, and was assigned as the Deputy Commandment of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy. During Operation Desert Thunder-Kuwait in 1998, he was assigned as the Commanding General of the Marine Expeditionary Force. He was promoted to Major General in 1998. In 2003, Bolden retired from the Marine Corps and served as president of the American PureTex Water Corporation. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Bolden as the top NASA administrator, making him the second astronaut and the first African American to serve in this position.

Bolden’s military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. NASA awarded him the Exceptional Service Award in 1988, 1989, and 1991. In May of 2006, he was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

We honor you, Charles Bolden Jr.

(#Repost @History Makers)

MG Sidney Shachnow

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Maj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow survived three years in a Nazi concentration camp, he deployed twice to the jungles of Vietnam and he was the top U.S. Army officer in Berlin at the end of the Cold War. Along the way, the general became a legendary Special Forces officer, revered by many in the close-knit community of Green Berets. Maj. Gen. Shachnow, 83, who lived in Southern Pines with his wife, Arlene, died Friday, Sept 28, 2018. But his legacy, officials said, will live on.

Born in Lithuania in 1934, Maj. Gen. Shachnow faced oppression in his homeland and found his calling in the U.S. Army after immigrating to America in 1950. He enlisted in the military in 1955 and served for more than 39 years, including 32 in the Special Forces community. His top posts included leadership of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School and U.S. Army Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg and U.S. Army-Berlin in Germany.

“Maj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow truly lived the American dream,” said officials at the Special Warfare Center and School, which the general commanded from 1991 until his retirement in 1994. “He came up through the ranks from private to major general through hard work and selfless service to this nation and the men and women under his command.”

“Even in retirement, Maj. Gen. Shachnow remained committed to the Special Forces Regiment, serving in a variety of volunteer roles and serving on a number of boards,” officials said. “He continued to provide sage guidance and sound counsel to commanders throughout the enterprise, and specifically here at the Special Warfare Center and School. Maj. Gen. Shachnow cast a long shadow, and we will miss him dearly.”

As a 6-year-old boy, the general was among thousands of Jews held prisoner at the Kovno concentration camp near Kaunus, Lithuania. He lived in the camp for more than three years before being liberated.

In 1994, Maj. Gen. Shachnow told The Fayetteville Observer that the experience of the concentration camp left a deep mark on him. “After I finished that experience, I was very cynical about people,″ he said. “I didn’t trust people. I thought that there is a dark side to people. If you leave things to people, they’ll probably screw things up.″ The U.S. Army helped Maj. Gen. Shachnow regain his faith in his fellow man.

After moving to the United States, Maj. Gen. Shachnow began a new life with his family in Massachusetts, but dropped out of school to enlist in the Army, despite hardly being able to speak English.

He later attended Officer Candidate School as a sergeant first class and was commissioned in 1960 as an infantry officer, according to his military biography. He served with the 4th Armored Division until 1962, when he volunteered for Special Forces. Maj. Gen. Shachnow served with the 5th Special Forces Group and commanded the secretive “Detachment A,” a small team of Special Forces soldiers who operated in Berlin during the Cold War and prepared for possible war with the Soviet Union.

In 1990, Maj. Gen. Shachnow was the commander of all American forces in Berlin when the Berlin Wall was toppled, near the end of the Soviet Union. He told The Fayetteville Observer that the history of the moment was not lost on him. “Here it is the very capital of fascism and the Third Reich. The very buildings and streets where they were goose-stepping and heil-Hitlering and the very system that put me in the camp and killed many people,” he said. “Here we are 40 some-odd years later, and I come back to be commander of American forces in that city and a Jew on top of that… It sort of adds insult to injury, doesn’t it?″

While serving in infantry, airborne, airmobile and Special Forces units, Maj. Gen. Shachnow also earned degrees from the University of Nebraska and Shippensburg State College in Pennsylvania. And he received an honorary doctorate from the Harvard Executive Management Program.

Maj. Gen. Shachnow was inducted as a Distinguished Member of the Special Forces Regiment in 2007. During his military career, his awards and decorations included two Distinguished Service Medals, two Silver Stars, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, three Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts, among other honors. He also was honored with the U.S. Special Operations medal for outstanding contributions to the special operations community and is included on the honor roll in the Infantry Officers’ Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Following his retirement, Maj. Gen. Shachnow authored a best-selling autobiography, “Hope and Honor,” which was published in 2004.

The late Col. Aaron Bank, known as the “father of the Green Berets,” once called Maj. Gen. Shachnow a “determined, dedicated, dyed-in-the-wool Special Forces officer.”

And Bob Charest, a veteran of Detachment A who twice served under Maj. Gen. Shachnow, said the general would be remembered as one of the greatest leaders in Special Forces history. “He stood out throughout his career,” Charest said. “He is quite an icon among Special Forces troops.”

We honor you, Sidney Shachnow.

(Submission by: Miah Parry. #Repost @The Fayette Observer)

Brig Gen Robin Olds

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Brigadier General Robin Olds was the director of aerospace safety in the Air Force Inspection and Safety Center, a separate operating agency and an organization of the Office of the Inspector General, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. General Olds has worldwide responsibility for the development and implementation of policies, standards and procedures for programs in safety education, accident investigation and analysis, human factors research, and safety inspection to prevent and reduce accidents in Air Force activities.

General Olds was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the son of Army Air Corps Maj. Gen. and Mrs. Robert Olds. He spent his boyhood days in the Hampton, Va., area where he attended elementary and high school. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., and was commissioned as second lieutenant in June 1943. A member of the academy football team, he was selected as All-American tackle in 1942. He completed pilot training in 1943.

General Olds is rated a triple ace, having shot down a total of 17 enemy aircraft during World War II and the Vietnam War. He began his combat flying in a P-38 Lightning named “Scat 1” during World War II, and at the end of the war he was flying “Scat VII,” a P-51 Mustang, and was credited with 107 combat missions and 24.5 victories, 12 aircraft shot down and 11 1/2 aircraft destroyed on the ground.

During the Vietnam War in October 1966, General Olds entered combat flying in Southeast Asia in “Scat XXVII,” an F-4 Phantom II. He completed 152 combat missions, including 105 over North Vietnam. Utilizing air-to-air missiles, he shot down over North Vietnam two Mig-17 and two Mig-21 aircraft, two of these on one mission.

General Olds was wing man on the first jet acrobatic team in the Air Force and won second place in the Thompson Trophy Race (Jet Division) at Cleveland in 1946. He participated in the first one-day, dawn-to-dusk, transcontinental roundtrip flight in June 1946 from March Field, Calif., to Washington, D.C., and return.

His duty assignments in England, Germany, Libya, Thailand and the United States have included positions as squadron, base, group and wing commander; staff assignments in a numbered Air Force, Headquarters U.S. Air Force and the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is a graduate of the National War College, 1963.

In February 1946 General Olds started flying P-80 jets at March Field, Calif., with the first squadron so equipped. In October 1948 he went to England under the U.S. Air Force – Royal Air Force Exchange Program and served as commander of No. 1 Fighter Squadron at Royal Air Force Station Tangmere. The squadron was equipped with the Gloster Meteor jet fighter.

He assumed duties as commander of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in September 1966. He returned to the United States in December 1967 and served as commandant of cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy through January 1971.

General Olds assumed the position of director of aerospace safety in the Air Force Inspection and Safety Center at Norton Air Force Base, Calif., in February 1971.

His military decorations and awards include the Air Force Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star with three oak leaf clusters, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with five oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with 39 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, British Distinguished Flying Cross, French Croix de Guerre, Vietnam Air Force Distinguished Service Order, Vietnam Air Gallantry Medal with Gold Wings, Vietnam Air Service Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. He is a command pilot.

He was promoted to the temporary grade of brigadier general effective June 1, 1968, with date of rank May 28, 1968.

We honor you, Robin Olds.

(#Repost @USAF. Picture @This Day in Aviation)

CSM Basil L. Plumley

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Night had fallen as American and North Vietnamese soldiers exchanged sheets of gunfire during Operation Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley in November 1965. Illumination flares attached to parachutes floated from American aircraft.

One parachute failed to open, and the flare plummeted into stacks of ammunition crates near the command post of the First Battalion, Seventh Cavalry Regiment, one of several American units engaged in the Vietnam War’s first major battle with North Vietnamese regulars.

Sgt. Maj. Basil L. Plumley jumped to his feet, reached into the pile, grabbed the burning flare and tossed it into a clearing. For that unhesitating action, he earned the Silver Star. It was one of more than 30 decorations he would receive; among the others were the rare honor of a Combat Infantryman’s Badge with two stars, signifying that he had fought in three wars.

“It’s very rare for someone to have served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam,” said retired Col. Greg Camp, executive vice president of the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Ga., near Fort Benning. Only 325 soldiers have ever received what is known as the “Triple C.I.B.”

Sergeant Major Plumley, who died at 92 on Wednesday, [October 12, 2012,] at a hospice in Columbus, Ga., also has the distinction of having received the Master Combat Parachutist Badge with a gold star, indicating that he had leapt into battle five times during his 32-year military career.

“In World War II, he made four combat jumps into hostile fire: at Sicily, Salerno, on D-Day in Normandy and in Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands,” Colonel Camp said. “To have then made a fifth jump in Korea would make him one of a very few to have earned a gold star on his jump wings.”

Sergeant Major Plumley received wider prestige after the 1992 publication of “We Were Soldiers Once …and Young,” an account of the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, and the 2002 release of the movie based on the book, “We Were Soldiers.” The book was written by Joseph L. Galloway and Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore, who as a lieutenant colonel at the time was commander of the First Battalion, Seventh Cavalry. The movie starred Mel Gibson as the colonel and Sam Elliott as Sergeant Major Plumley.

Mr. Galloway was a United Press International correspondent attached to the battalion during the Ia Drang battle in the remote Central Highlands of Vietnam. “This was a cliffhanger situation, 450 Americans in an understrength battalion surrounded by more than 2,000 North Vietnamese regular troops,” Mr. Galloway said in an interview on Thursday. “In four days, 234 Americans were killed.” (Colonel Camp of the Infantry Museum said the North Vietnamese lost many more troops.)

At 6-foot-2, Sergeant Major Plumley was a no-nonsense, almost monosyllabic leader, Mr. Galloway said, even to a civilian. On Day 2, he recalled: “This battle blew up and I hit the ground. I’m laying as flat as I can and Plumley walks up, kicks me in the ribs and hollers, ‘Can’t take no pictures laying there on the ground, sonny!’ ”

To the troops, he was “Iron Jaw.”

Basil Leonard Plumley was born in Blue Jay, W.Va., on Jan. 1, 1920, one of six children of Clay and Georgia Plumley. His father was a coal miner. After two years of high school and work as truck and tractor driver, he enlisted in the Army in 1942.

His daughter, Debbie Kimble, said he died within two weeks of being told he had colon cancer, and four months after his wife of 62 years, the former Deurice Dillon, died. Besides his daughter, he is survived by a granddaughter and two great-grandsons.

After retiring from the Army in 1974, he worked for 15 years as an administrative assistant at the Martin Army Community Hospital at Fort Benning.

In his later years, particularly after “We Were Soldiers” was released, Sergeant Major Plumley was frequently invited to speak at officer and noncommissioned officer courses. “He was a terror in insisting on hard, realistic training, the highest possible standards, because he knew that saves lives in combat,” Mr. Galloway said.

But when his phone rang and an interviewer asked him to tell war stories, he would hang up.

We honor you, Basil Plumley.

(#Repost @The New York Times)

BG Joseph V. Medina

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Since the days of the American Revolution, the Armed Forces have served as a place in which conflicts of race could be put aside for the protection of the nation and its people. Through a career that spanned 31 years, Brigadier General Joseph V. Medina served his country with both dignity and honor.

General Medina is one of four Hispanic officers to ever obtain a rank of Brigadier General or higher in the United States Marine Corps, and was the first Marine to take command of a naval flotilla. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal for his command skills, as well as for the tremendous responsibilities Medina took on throughout his career.

During his service, General Medina was a vocal proponent of the recruitment of Hispanics into the Marine Corps. As of 2013,  approximately 157,000 armed servicemen – 11.4 percent of active duty members and 18 percent of the total Marine population – were of Latin-American descent. While debate rages on about immigration reform and national languages, it’s important to remember the role proud Hispanic Americans take in the defense of their home, be it adopted or not. General Medina is testament to that much.

We honor you, Joseph Medina.

(#Repost @Chambers Primary School Hispanic Month Appreciation wall)

 

CAPT Thomas J. Hudner, Jr.

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Thomas Hudner had no particular interest in airplanes when he graduated from the Naval Academy in 1946. He wanted only to serve aboard a ship. But in 1948, after he had been at sea for several months and had worked as a communications officer at Pearl Harbor for a year, he was ready for a new challenge and volunteered for flight training. He was briefly stationed in Lebanon before being assigned to the carrier USS Leyte as an F4U Corsair pilot.

By the fall of 1950, Lieutenant Hudner was flying combat missions in Korea. On December 4, he was one of a flight of six fighters sent out on an armed reconnaissance mission over North Korea. Hudner was wingman for a Navy flier named Jesse Brown, the son of a Mississippi sharecropper who had attracted a good deal of attention—and some discrimination—as the Navy’s first black pilot.

While strafing enemy positions at a low altitude, Brown’s plane was hit by antiaircraft fire. Smoking badly and without power, the aircraft was too low for Brown to bail out or clear the snow-covered mountains. Hudner followed Brown down, calling off a checklist to help prepare him for the crash landing.

Brown put his plane down in a wheels-up landing in a clearing below. The impact buckled the fuselage at the cockpit, and Hudner was certain that Brown was dead. To his amazement, Brown opened the canopy and waved weakly, but he appeared to be unable to free himself. Knowing that rescue helicopters had a long distance to travel, Hudner decided to help Brown get out of the plane himself. He didn’t ask permission from the flight leader because he knew it would be denied.

Hudner radioed, “I’m going in,” then dumped his ordnance, dropped his flaps, and landed wheels up, hitting the hilly area hard. He got out and struggled through the snow to get to the downed plane. Hudner saw that Brown’s right leg was crushed by the damaged instrument panel, and he was unable to pull him out of the wreckage.

Hudner kept packing snow into the smoking engine and talking to Brown as he drifted in and out of consciousness. When a U.S. helicopter arrived, the pilot worked with Hudner for forty-five minutes trying to get Brown out. They hacked at the plane with an ax, and even considered amputating Brown’s trapped leg with a knife. The snow packed on the bottom of their boots prevented them from getting any firm footing on the plane’s wing. As nightfall approached, bringing temperatures as low as thirty degrees below zero, it was clear that Brown was dead. Hudner hated to leave the body behind, but the helicopter pilot couldn’t fly in the mountainous terrain after dark. Reluctantly, the two men returned to base camp.

The next morning, reconnaissance showed that Brown’s body, still in the cockpit, had been stripped of clothing during the night by enemy soldiers. Because of the hostile forces in the area, it was impossible to retrieve it. The following day, the commander of the Leyte ordered four Corsairs to napalm the downed plane so that Brown could have a warrior’s funeral.

By February 1951, the Leyte was back in port in the United States. In mid-March, Hudner found out that he was to be the first American serviceman in the Korean War to receive the Medal of Honor. Daisy Brown, the widow of Jesse Brown (who had been posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross), was present when President Harry Truman put the medal around Thomas Hudner’s neck on April 13, 1951.

We honor you, Thomas Hudner Jr.

(#Repost @Medal of Honor Speakout)

GEN Lucian Truscott

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Some men are born to serve in the Armed Forces. Sometimes it’s familial tradition for sons to follow in a father’s footsteps, or a grandfather’s. In other cases, young men, at a very early age, dream of doing nothing else. And some men are drawn to service not by birthright or innate desire, but by circumstances in which they find themselves or their country.

Men in the latter category can become surprisingly effective, adapting to the service’s rigors and demands as if they were, in fact, born to it.

One such man is Lucian Truscott, considered to be one of the finest Generals who ever served in World War II. Even though he didn’t attend West Point, the prestigious military academy, and had no battlefield experience at the outset of the war, Truscott’s less obvious talents soon became clear, and he proved himself an ideal candidate for top honors as a military commander.

He first entered the war as a Colonel, as he had signed up during World War 1, feeling honor bound to serve his country. But when that war ended, he had a decision to make: realistically, would his lack of experience on the field impinge on his chances for advancement? But he stayed, and when World War Two arrived, he was made Colonel.

Truscott turned out to have a skill that proved very valuable to his leaders, including Dwight D. Eisenhower. He could play, and knew a great deal about, polo. This gave him a connection to Lord Mountbatten, who was leading forces in Europe at the time.

Eisenhower sent Truscott overseas with a mandate to forge a stronger bond between the two Allies. Truscott and others watched the Dieppe battle led by Mountbatten in 1942, and though it was a somewhat disastrous raid, but learned a lot about what not to do.

He was subsequently determined to use what he had learned at Dieppe to reduce casualties and death among his men when he finally began planning raids and battles himself.

His first mission as a General, in 1942, was when he led Operation Torch in Morocco. It was considered a success and earned Truscott a second star. But he felt it had been less than wonderful, too many men lost their lives. Yet it led Eisenhower to appoint him Deputy Commander.

Truscott always tried to think of strategic ways to reduce casualties. Because he believed that the enemy was in superior shape, he insisted his men undergo brutal rounds of personal training before heading into battle. They got into such great physical shape that they went into fighting doing what the men fondly dubbed, “the Truscott Trot.” But it helped, and the men grew fiercely loyal to him.

Truscott’s dedication to his men, as much as his training and experience, led to him becoming one of the most in demand generals leading forces into battle all over Europe.

When sent to Italy, he was not happy with one General, in particular, Mark Clark, who had rerouted troops in an attempt to seize Rome. Truscott felt that the attack was Clark’s vainglorious attempt to stroke his own ego, demonstrating little regard for the well being of the men, or the bigger picture of the war’s goals. He did not wish to participate in what he deemed to be an exercise in ego. Ultimately, Truscott led VI Corps in the invasion of Southern France.

In May, 1945, Truscott was asked to speak at a ceremony at the Sicily Rome American Cemetery in Italy. When he rose to stand by the dais, Truscott turned his back on his listeners so he could speak directly to the dead. Then, as World War II cartoonist Bill Mauldin recalled, he apologized to the fallen men buried there.

He would not speak of “the glorious dead,” Mauldin commented, as so many other military leaders did. He found no glory in row after row of white crosses giving mute testimony to dead soldiers, most of whom were in their late teens or early twenties.

According to Mauldin, Truscott then made a promise. That if he ever met any old people, particularly old men, who thought death in battle was glorious, he would straighten them out. It was, he said, the least he could do.

We honor you, Lucian Truscott.

(#Repost @War Stories)