1LT Richard Thomas Shea Jr

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USMA Class of 1952, First Lieutenant Shea was the executive officer of Company A, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. On July 8, 1953 his company was attacked at night by overwhelmingly superior forces at “Pork Chop Hill” near Sokkogae, North Korea. He voluntarily organized a group to defend the most threatened area, and held off repeated attacks. Later, he singlehandedly assaulted a machine-gun emplacement and fought hand to hand until mortally wounded. He lived in Norfolk County and graduated from Churchland High School in Norfolk County. He was Class of 1948 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and entered West Point.

We honor you, Richard Shea Jr.

(#Repost @Korean War Project Remembrance)

CPT Florent “Flo” Groberg

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Retired U.S. Army Capt. Florent “Flo” Groberg was born in Poissy, France, May 8, 1983. Groberg became a naturalized U.S. citizen, Feb. 27, 2001, and graduated from Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Md., in June of the same year.

In May 2006, Groberg graduated from University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice. Groberg entered the Army in July 2008 and attended Officer Candidate School and received his commission as an infantry officer, Dec. 4, 2008.

In November 2009, he deployed to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Lethal, with responsibility for the Pech River Valley in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province. Upon returning home in June 2010, he continued serving as a platoon leader until he was reassigned as an infantry company executive officer from October 2010 to November 2011. He was then assigned as the brigade personal security detachment commander for 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. He deployed again to Kunar Province, Afghanistan, in February of 2012, with Task Force Mountain Warrior. He was promoted to captain in July 2012.

On the morning of Aug. 8, 2012, U.S. Army Capt. Florent Groberg served as a personal security detachment (PSD) commander for Task Force Mountain Warrior in Asadabad, Afghanistan. As the patrol advanced toward the governor’s compound, they reached the choke point along the route, a small bridge spanning a canal feeding the Kunar River. The patrol halted near the bridge as two motorcycles approached from the opposite direction. The motorcyclists began crossing the bridge, but stopped midway before dismounting and retreating in the opposite direction.

As the patrol observed the motorcyclists, Groberg also spotted a lone individual near the left side of the formation, walking backwards in the direction of the patrol. The individual did not cause immediate alarm as there were other local civilians in the area.

However, when the individual made an abrupt turn toward the formation, Groberg rushed the suspect and shoved him away from the patrol. Groberg then immediately confirmed the individual was wearing a suicide vest, and with the help of Sgt. Andrew Mahoney, a fellow Soldier with the PSD, grabbed the suicide bomber, physically driving him away from the formation and down to the ground.

While on the ground, the bomber’s explosive vest detonated. The explosion caused a second suicide bomber, who remained hidden behind a small structure near the road, to detonate his vest prematurely. Most of the blast of the second bomber’s suicide vest went straight into a building, adjacent to the patrol.

Groberg’s actions disrupted both bombers from detonating as planned, saving the majority of lives he was charged with protecting. As a result of his actions, Groberg sustained the loss of 45 to 50 percent of his left calf muscle with significant nerve damage, a blown eardrum, and a mild traumatic brain injury. Groberg spent his recovery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from August 2012 through May 2015. He was medically retired from Company B Warriors, Warrior Transition Battalion, as a captain, July 23, 2015.

We honor you, Florent Groberg.

(#Repost @army.mil)

 

1stLt Baldomero Lopez

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One of the Korean War’s most recognized images is that of a young Marine scaling a wall during the invasion of Inchon on Sept. 15, 1950.

Stepping over the seawall on the northern side of Red Beach, Marine Corps 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez is the picture of courage.

Lopez, the son of Spanish immigrants, grew up in Tampa, Florida, and enlisted in the Navy in 1943, but was soon tapped to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. He joined the Marines after graduation. Today, a picture of Lopez and a citation hang outside his academy room. Lopez’s actions immediately after the photograph at Inchon was taken are why his picture will always have a place of honor in that hallway.

Just a few months into the Korean War, Lopez and his platoon were engaged in the reduction of immediate enemy beach defenses after landing with the assault waves. Exposing himself to hostile fire, Lopez moved forward alongside a bunker and prepared to throw a hand grenade into the next pillbox from which fire was pinning down that sector of the beach.

Taken under fire by an enemy automatic weapon and hit in the right shoulder and chest as he lifted his arm to throw, Lopez fell backward and dropped the deadly grenade. After a moment, he turned and dragged his body forward in an effort to retrieve the grenade and throw it. In critical condition from pain and loss of blood, and unable to grasp the hand grenade firmly enough to hurl it, he chose to sacrifice himself rather than endanger the lives of his men, and with a sweeping motion of his wounded right arm, cradled the grenade under him and absorbed the full impact of the explosion. He did not survive the blast.

President Harry S. Truman presented the Medal of Honor posthumously to Lopez’s parents in a ceremony at the White House in 1951. Lopez is the only Hispanic-American graduate of the academy to receive the Medal of Honor.

We honor you, Baldomero Lopez.

(#Repost @DoD live)

BGen Joseph Jacob “Joe” Foss

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Joe Foss was born 17 April 1915 on a farm near Sioux Falls, South Dakota. When he was 12, he saw Charles Lindbergh on tour. He took his first flight when he was 16 in a Ford Tri-Motor. Just before Joe’s 18th birthday, his father was killed by a downed power line leaving Joe to help care for his family: odd jobs, schooling & the occasional flying lesson followed. When he was 25 he graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

With that in hand, he joined the Marines with a wish to fly. He was winged in Miami on 29 March 1941. He served as an instructor in Pensacola & was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on 10 April 1942. He joined VMF-121 & was promoted to Capt., 11 Aug 1942. VMF-121 sailed to Guadalcanal on board the USS Copahee, their Wildcats landing at Henderson Field, 9 October 1942.

For the next 3 months, “Joe’s Flying Circus” helped defend the island from extensive Japanese counter-attacks. On 7 November, he was shot down (in F4F-4 02147 or 03453 in USN/USMC AC loss list) by enemy fighters (bullets just missing his head) while strafing Japanese ships 240 kilometers north of Guadalcanal. He struggled in his life-jacket for five hours in a storm with sharks circling until members of a Catholic mission from the island of Malaita, who happened to be paddling by in canoes, rescued him. In his autobiography he said he broke a chlorine capsule to keep the sharks away. “It’s a good thing I didn’t know, as would later be proven, that chlorine doesn’t protect swimmers from shark attacks,” Sick with malaria, he was evacuated along with the rest of 121 on 19 November. He returned on 1 January 1943.

On 15 January 1943, he had matched Eddie Rickenbacker’s record of 26 planes destroyed.
He left the Island on 26 January. On 8 May 1943 he received the Medal of Honor from President Roosevelt during a special ceremony at the White House.

Promoted to Major, 1 June 1943, he became CO of VMF-115 on 17 July 1943. He held that post until 20 September 1944 when a recurrence of Malaria forced him to relinquish command. He returned to Sioux Falls, where he and a friend ran the Joe Foss Flying Service, building it into a venture with 35 airplanes.

In 1946, he left the Marine Corps to accept a Commission in the South Dakota National Guard as a Lt. Colonel. In 1948 he was elected to the South Dakota House of Representatives where he served a two-year term.

When the Korean War broke out, the Marines recalled him, and he directed training. He was promoted to Colonel in 1950 & then to Brigadier General in 1954. In 1954 he was elected Governor of South Dakota (The youngest Governor the the history of the state). He was re-elected in 1956.

We honor you, Joe Foss.

(#Repost @acesofww2)

LT John Williams Finn

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The December 7, 1941, Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor lasted about 90 minutes, killing 2,333 American military personnel and wounding 1,139 others.

The initial targets were U.S. airfields, to prevent a U.S. counter-attack by air.  The first Medal of Honor awarded in World War II went to a sailor who defended one of those airfields.  His name was John William Finn.

Born on July 24, 1909 in Los Angeles, California, Finn was a then-32-year-old chief petty officer in charge of guns and bombs for the planes at Naval Air Station Keneohe Bay. Once he learned of the attack he raced from his home and wife to the base.

Finn’s Medal of Honor citation states: “During the first attack by Japanese airplanes he promptly secured and manned a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machine gun strafing fire.

“Although painfully wounded many times, (shot in foot and shoulder) he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy’s fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety.”

Finn had to be ordered to go for medical treatment and his wounds kept him in the hospital until Dec. 24.

Admiral Chester Nimitz presented Finn with the first World War II Medal of Honor 75 years ago on Sept. 14, 1942.

Finn served in the Navy from 1926 to 1956 and retired as a lieutenant. He lived to the age of 100 before he died in Chula Vista in 2010.

We honor you, John Finn.

(#Repost @The OC Register)

Col Edward “Eddie” Rickenbacker

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Eddie Rickenbacker was a WWI world-famous pilot and war hero. He also drove a race car and was very skilled. During WWII, “Eddie was off in a B-17 bomber plane” and had planned to go to Hawaii with his crew: Hans Adamson, Bill Cherry, Jim Whittaker, John Deangelis, James Reynolds, Alex Kaczmarczyk, and Johnny Bartek. While flying, the B-17 went down and crashed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They immediately got in the rafts and rowed away. On the way, they found out no one had grabbed the food. After weeks without food (except for 4 oranges) they made a fishing pole and after two times, they caught a big fish and gladly ate. They were planning to go to Fiji.

A few days later Alex died mumbling in his sleep after drinking too much sea water. A few days later, they caught sound of a plane. “then out of the blue sky came an American rescue plane looking for them.” After two days they were sighted but it was not known how to get them out of the water. But then the plane came down and took one of the crew into the plane. The next day they made it to an island and were welcomed by people on America’s side. They were soon taken to a hospital in Hawaii.

We honor you, Edward Rickenbacker.

(Submission written by: Adin Parry, 9 years old. Source: Lost in the Pacific, 1942 by Tod Olson)

PVT George Watson

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George Watson was born in 1915 Birmingham, Alabama. Apart from his birth, little is known about his early life. He attended school in Colorado and graduated in 1942. Like many men that year, Watson then accepted the call to arms in defense of his nation.

As an African-American, the career opportunities in the Army were extremely limited. Consequently, Watson joined the 29th Quartermaster Regiment after basic training. With the war in full swing, Watson’s unit was immediately transported to the Pacific on board the American controlled Dutch Steamer USAT Jacob. They arrived on March 8, 1943.

As Watson and his unit waited to disembark the Japanese attacked the Jacob while she was moored near Porlock Harbor, New Guinea. With little defense against the devastating assault, the Jacob took several direct hits and the order to abandon ship was issued. Troops threw themselves into the sea, many of whom had been severely wounded. Fortunately, Watson had avoided injury and being a competent swimmer was able to head towards the few life rafts that were available. As he did so, he looked back to see many of his comrades were not so lucky.

The wounded soldiers and those who could not swim flailed about in the sea in need of help. Watson turned from the rafts and headed towards the men. The Japanese continued to rake the sea with gunfire making it all the riskier. Time and time again he swam back to rescue troops and bring them to safety. Watson continued saving his comrades until he reached the point of exhaustion. As he swam towards the steamer once more, she slipped beneath the waves. The subsequent drag proved too strong for the exhausted Watson to escape and he was sucked to the bottom with her.

As news of his gallantry spread, it was evident to the Army that a heroic and distinguished act had taken place. However, for African-Americans of that era, the Medal of Honor was too far out of reach despite the inexplicable gallantry they consistently displayed. Watson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and was the first African-American to receive that award during WWII.

However, as the decades passed the US military realized such men had been overlooked. They instituted a review in the early 1990’s to determine those that might have been excluded due to race. In 1997, George Watson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. With no family to receive Watson’s medals, they are on display at the US Army Quartermaster Museum in Fort Lee, Virginia. Also, the ship USNS Watson was named in his honor.

We honor you, George Watson.

(Submission by: GP Cox. #Repost @Pacific Paratrooper)