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)

BG Rhonda Cornum

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Rhonda Cornum embarked on a combat search and rescue mission the morning of 27 February 1991 to recover an Air Force pilot shot down over Iraq during Desert Storm. Tragically, the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter she was aboard crashed as a result of Iraqi anti-aircraft fire. One of only three survivors from the eight-member crew, Major Cornum was captured and taken prisoner by the Iraqi Republican Guard. Suffering two broken arms, a severely damaged leg, and gunshot and shrapnel wounds in her shoulder and head, she survived imprisonment behind Iraqi enemy lines. An Army flight surgeon, wife, and mother, she was repatriated on 6 March 1991 as one of only two women POWs from the Gulf war. Although U.S. law prohibited women from serving in combat roles, her experiences and open dialogue as a POW helped pave the way for continued Congressional expansion of military women in combat roles.

Born in Dayton, Ohio, now Brigadier General Cornum started her military career in 1978 as an Army medical researcher. She completed medical school at the Uniformed Services University in 1986, and was quickly drawn to the combat field and aerospace medicine arenas. Her love of flight grew as she completed airborne, air assault and flight surgeon training. Her medical aviation research enhanced use of helmet mounted displays in advanced attack helicopters and in pilot performance. She and her husband, Air Force Brigadier General (Dr.) Kory Cornum, also built their own experimental aircraft by hand. After repatriation, Major Cornum became the first medical officer to graduate from Air Command and Staff College. She continued medical training and research in the field of urology, commanded the 28th Combat Support Hospital at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and deployed as the Medical Task Force commander to Bosnia. She was also the first female commander of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, leading medical treatment for over 26,000 injured veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. General Cornum’s career culminated in founding and leading the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Center. The Center develops psychological strengthening and resilience training to aid military members in surviving difficult, even life-threatening, situations. Awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal, POW Medal and others for her service, recently-retired General Cornum splits her time between a 700 acre family farm in Kentucky, and Biloxi, Mississippi, where her husband serves as the medical center commander.

We honor you, Rhonda Cornum.

(#Repost @GoE Foundation)

CAPT Dorothy Stratton

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In 1942 Stratton took a leave of absence from Purdue University and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Women’s Reserve of the U.S. Naval Reserve, which was also known as the WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service). She later credited Lillian Moller Gilbreth, professor of engineering at Purdue, for encouraging her to join the military, but she also recalled that she was willing “to do whatever I could to serve my country” and did not need much encouragement. Stratton was among the members of the first class of the U.S. Naval Training Station at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. After completing her initial training, she briefly served as Assistant to the Commanding Officer of the radio school for WAVES at Madison, Wisconsin.

In November 1942, after Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an amendment to Public Law 773 to create a women’s reserve for the U.S. Coast Guard, Stratton became the first woman to be accepted into the new program. She was immediately transferred from the U.S. Navy to the U.S. Coast Guard and was sent to the office of the Commandant of the Coast Guard in Washington, D.C. to organize the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve. Stratton was appointed the first director of the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve, promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander, and became the first woman commissioned an officer in U.S. Coast Guard. She rose through the ranks and in February 1944 promoted to the rank of captain.

Stratton developed Coast Guard Women’s Reserve program and gave it the name of SPAR, an acronym created from the Coast Guard motto, Semper Paratus, and its English translation, Always Ready. As director of the SPARs, a position that Stratton held until 1946, her primary role was to originate policies for SPARs that related to procurement, training, utilization, and maintenance of its members’ morale. She oversaw significant growth in the program. More than 10,000 enlisted women and 1,000 commissioned officers served as SPARs in the remaining years of the war.

Stratton retired from the military in January 1946. By June 30, 1946, the SPARS were demobilized. Stratton remained proud of the fact that the U.S. Coast Guard used the highest percentage of women of any of the military branch of services during the war.

We honor you, Dorothy Stratton.

(#Repost @Wikipedia)

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)

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)