BG Joseph V. Medina

2018-9-20 Medina

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)

 

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)

CAPT John McCain

2018-8-28 McCain

When John McCain made his first bid for public office in 1982, running for a House seat in Arizona, critics blasted him as a carpetbagger, pointing out that he’d only lived in the state for 18 months.

“Listen, pal, I spent 22 years in the Navy,” the exasperated candidate reportedly shot back at one event. Then, after explaining that career military people tend to move a lot, he delivered a retort that made the attacks against him seem ridiculously petty: “As a matter of fact… the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi.”

McCain won the election, launching a political career that earned him two terms in the House, six in the Senate, and his party’s presidential nomination in 2008. But even after four decades in public life, McCain’s experience as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam continued to define him in the minds of many Americans, admirers and detractors alike. While he ultimately made his name on the national political stage, the scion of two four-star admirals was, at his core, a lifelong military man. He followed into the family business, becoming a decorated, if at times reckless, fighter pilot who conducted nearly two dozen bombing runs in Vietnam before being shot down, captured and tortured.

In both his military and political careers, McCain earned a reputation for being feisty and combative. “A fight not joined is a fight not enjoyed,” he declared in his 2018 memoir The Restless Wave, written with his longtime collaborator Mark Salter, and published after he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer that took his life on August 25, 2018.

Below, a timeline of his military life [selected segments, see History.com for the full account]:

John Sidney McCain III is born on August 29 at a U.S. Navy base in the Panama Canal Zone. His father, John S. McCain, Jr., is a submarine officer who will later rise to the rank of admiral and become commander in chief of U.S. forces in the Pacific during much of the Vietnam War. His grandfather, John S. McCain, Sr., also an admiral, would come to command the Navy’s Fast Carrier Task Force in the Pacific during World War II. “They were my first heroes, and earning their respect has been the most lasting ambition of my life,” McCain would later write in a 1999 memoir, Faith of My Fathers.

John McCain enters the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1954 and graduates with the class of 1958. He’s the third generation in his family to attend the Academy; his father had been class of 1931; his grandfather, class of 1906.

By all accounts, especially his own, the young McCain is an indifferent and rambunctious student, prone to pranks and occasional disobedience to authority. He graduates fifth from the bottom of his class. “My four years here were not notable for individual academic achievement but, rather, for the impressive catalogue of demerits which I managed to accumulate,” he admitted to the graduating class of 1993 in a commencement speech.

After graduation, McCain goes on to flight school in Pensacola, Florida, and later Corpus Christi, Texas, to train as a pilot. “I enjoyed the off-duty life of a Navy flyer more than I enjoyed the actual flying,” he will remember. “I drove a Corvette, dated a lot, spent all my free hours at bars and beach parties, and generally misused my good health and youth.”

In late 1966, he joins a squadron of A-4E Skyhawk pilots that will deploy on the U.S.S. Forrestal, a carrier that soon heads to the Tonkin Gulf, off the coast of North Vietnam. They arrive at the peak of President Lyndon Johnson’s Operation Rolling Thunder campaign of massive sustained aerial bombardment.

On the morning of July 29, 1967, McCain has another brush with death. As he awaits his turn for takeoff from the USS Forrestal, for a bombing run over North Vietnam, another plane accidentally fires a missile. It strikes either his plane or the one next to him (accounts differ), igniting a raging fire on the ship’s deck. McCain manages to extricate himself from his plane, only to be hit in the legs and chest by hot shrapnel.

“All around me was mayhem,” he would recall years later. “Planes were burning. More bombs cooked off. Body parts, pieces of the ship, and scraps of planes were dropping onto the deck. Pilots strapped in their seats ejected into the firestorm. Men trapped by flames jumped overboard.” By the time it’s over, more than 130 crew members are dead.

Three months later, on October 26, McCain takes off on his 23rd bombing run over North Vietnam, reportedly on a mission to destroy Hanoi’s thermal power plant. Just as he releases his bombs over the target, a Russian-made surface-to-air missile, described as looking like “a flying telephone pole,” strikes his plane, ripping off its right wing. McCain ejects, breaking both arms and one knee, and parachutes into a shallow lake.

After briefly losing consciousness, he wakes up to find himself “being hauled ashore on two bamboo poles by a group of about 20 angry Vietnamese. A crowd of several hundred Vietnamese gathered around me as I lay dazed before them, shouting wildly at me, stripping my clothes off, spitting on me, kicking and striking me repeatedly…. Someone smashed a rifle butt into my shoulder, breaking it. Someone else stuck a bayonet in my ankle and groin.”

Soon, an army truck arrives, taking McCain as a prisoner of war. He will remain one for five and a half years.

McCain remains a prisoner until the U.S. and North Vietnam sign a peace accord in late January 1973, ending the conflict. He is released in March, along with 107 other POWs, and boards a U.S. transport plane headed to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines.

After his return to the States, and while he’s still undergoing therapy for his injuries, McCain requests assignment to the National War College in Washington, D.C. “By the time my nine months at the War College ended, I had satisfied my curiosity about how Americans had entered and lost the Vietnam War,” he later wrote. “The experience did not cause me to conclude that the war was wrong, but it did help me understand how wrongly it had been fought and led.”

In late 1974, after he manages to pass the physical exam to qualify for flight status, he’s sent to Cecil Field, a naval air station in Jacksonville, Florida. A few months later, he’s promoted to commanding officer of a replacement air group, responsible for training carrier pilots.

McCain’s third and final assignment, however, may be the most influential in setting his future course. In 1977, he’s assigned to a liaison office in the United States Senate in Washington, where he serves as the Navy’s lobbyist and gets to see the workings of Congress from the inside. The job marked “my real entry into the world of politics and the beginning of my second career as a public servant,” he later recalls.

In 1981, McCain retires from the Navy with the rank of captain. His decorations include, among others, a Silver Star, three Bronze Stars and a Distinguished Flying Cross.

We honor you, John McCain.

(#Repost excerpts @History.com)

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)

RDML William “Bill” E. Newman

2018-7-10 Newman

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)

LtGen Frances C. Wilson

2018-6-8 Wilson

Wilson was born in Nassau County, in Long Island, New York to Frances and John Wilson, a United States Air Force officer.

Wilson grew up in Arlington County, Virginia and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in social sciences from Michigan State University. Wilson later earned Master degrees in education from Pepperdine University, psychology from the University of Northern Colorado, business management from Salve Regina College, National Security and Strategic Studies from Naval War College, and a Doctor of Education from The University of Southern California.

She also completed the U.S. Army Basic Airborne Course, Armed Forces Staff College’s Joint and Combined Staff Officer School, National Defense University’s CAPSTONE and PINNACLE courses, Naval Postgraduate School’s Revolution in Business Practices, and Harvard University’s JFK School of Government’s Senior Executive Course in National and International Security.

Wilson’s sister, Mary O’Donnell is a retired U.S. Coast Guard rear admiral, who in 2000 became the first woman to become a reserve rear admiral in the Coast Guard. At the time of O’Donnell’s retirement in 2004, Wilson and her sister were the highest ranking sisters in the U.S. Military.

Commissioned a second lieutenant in November 1972, she was the Honor Graduate and recipient of the Leadership Award from the United States Marine Corps Women Officer Basic School.

As a company grade officer, Wilson served as an Air Traffic Control Officer at Yuma and Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Stations and as an Instructor at Marine Corps Development and Education Center’s Instructional Management School. Following graduation from Amphibious Warfare School in 1980, she served as Staff Secretary, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Amphibious Force.

As a field grade officer she was a Company Officer, Brigade of Midshipmen, and an Assistant Professor in the Professional Development Department at the United States Naval Academy. After graduating with the 1985 class of the College of Naval Command and Staff, Naval War College, she reported to the Manpower Plans, Manpower and Reserve Affairs Department, Headquarters Marine Corps as a manpower management analyst. She then served as Special Assistant for General and Flag Officer Matters, Joint Staff, and as Executive Assistant to the Vice Director, Joint Staff.

Wilson commanded the Fourth Recruit Training Battalion at Parris Island Recruit Depot from 1988 to 1990. She then participated in a Federal Executive Fellowship with the Brookings Institution before reporting to the Marine Forces Pacific staff as Requirements and Programs Officer. In July 1993, she assumed command of Camp H. M. Smith and the Headquarters and Services Battalion, Marine Forces Pacific. Returning to Washington, D.C., in 1995, she participated on Roles and Missions Coordination Group, Requirements and Plans, Headquarters Marine Corps before being assigned as Secretary, Joint Staff.

Wilson commanded Marine Corps Base Quantico and the 3rd Force Service Support Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. She then directed Manpower Management Division, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Headquarters Marine Corps and was the Marine Corps representative to the Secretary of Defense’s Reserve Force Policy Board.

From 2003 to 2006, she served as Commandant of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University. In 2006, she was appointed president of the National Defense University. On July 14, 2006 Wilson was promoted to lieutenant general and assumed her post as the 12th president of the university, succeeding U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael M. Dunn. In March 2009, she was awarded the French Legion of Honor in a ceremony presided by French Defense Minister Hervé Morin at the French Embassy in Washington, DC.

We honor you, Frances Wilson.

(#Repost @Military Wiki)

BG Hazel W. Johnson-Brown

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When Hazel Johnson, an operating room nurse who graduated from the Harlem Hospital School of Nursing, joined the Army in 1955, she thought it would be an opportunity that would allow her to explore the world and hone her nursing skills. She had no idea she would become a part of military history — which she did in 1979 when she became the first African-American female general officer and the first African American appointed as chief of the Army Nurse Corps.

Timing had much to do with Johnson’s success in the military as she entered the Army shortly after President Harry Truman banned segregation and discrimination in the armed services. And like most good Soldiers, Johnson was rewarded with promotions and posts of responsibility during her service in the Army. She was also afforded educational opportunities in the Army and she would earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Villanova University, a master’s degree in nursing education from Columbia University, and a Ph.D in education administration from Catholic University.

As chief of the Army Nurse Corps, Gen. Johnson commanded 7,000 male and female nurses, including those in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve. She also set policy and oversaw operations in eight Army medical centers, 56 community hospitals, and 143 free-standing clinics in the United States, Japan, Korea, Germany, Italy, and Panama.

The list of awards and recognition throughout her military career includes: the 1972 U.S. Army Nurse of the Year, honorary doctorates from Villanova University, Morgan State University, University of Maryland, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster. Her responsibilities left little time to pursue other avenues of life, including marriage. However, two years before retiring from the Army, Johnson married David Brown, and the 16th chief of the Army Nurse Corps became Brig. Gen. Hazel W. Johnson-Brown.”

Following her retirement, Johnson-Brown enjoyed a distinguished “second” career in academia. She served as professor of nursing at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and finally at George Mason University in Virginia. At George Mason University, she was instrumental in founding the Center for Health Policy, designed to educate and involve nurses in health policy and policy design. Johnson-Brown retired from teaching in 1997.

We honor you,  Hazel  Johnson-Brown.

(#Repost @The Rocks Inc.)