CPT Jose Calugas Sr.

2018-10-11 Calugas

Jose Calugas was a Philippine native as well as a World War II hero. Born in Leon, Iloilo, Philippines and left without a mother at the age of ten, he left high school to support his family. Calugas enlisted in the United States Army in 1930 and bean basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He then did additional training to become artilleryman and was later assigned to the 24th Artillery Regiment of the Philippine Scouts at Fort Stotsenburg, Pampanga before being moved to the 88th Field Artillery Regiment of the Philippine Scouts.

Calugas was the first Filipino to receive the Medal of Honor during WWII in 1945 and was presented the award by General George Marshall. Calugas voluntarily ran 1,000 yards to a newly bombed and shelled battery gun position to organize a volunteer squad and place the gun back into commission all while being shot at by Japanese artillery.  Because of his actions, Calugas earned his Medal of Honor as a Mess Sergeant with the 88th Field Artillery in the Philippine Scouts and was the only Filipino to do so.

We honor you, Jose Calugas Sr.

(#Submission by: Chambers Primary School Philippino 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)

1LT Garlin M. Conner

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Garlin M. Conner was born on June 2, 1919, and raised in rural Clinton County, Kentucky. With the nearest high school almost 15 miles away, Conner’s formal education ended in eighth grade. He spent his teenage years working on his family’s farm and served in the Civilian Conservation Corps when he enlisted in the Army, March 1, 1941, at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Following basic training, Conner was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division. After several months of training, Conner and the 3rd Infantry Division deployed, Oct. 23, 1942. During Conner’s service, he fought for 28 months on the front lines in 10 campaigns, participated in four amphibious assault landings, was wounded seven times and earned a battlefield commission.

On the morning of Jan. 24, 1945, 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner was serving as an intelligence staff officer with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, near the town of Houssen, France, when German formations converged on 3rd Battalion’s position.

With his battalion at risk of being overrun, Conner volunteered to run straight into the heart of the enemy assault in order to get to a position from which he could direct friendly artillery on the advancing enemy forces.

With complete disregard for his own safety, Conner maneuvered 400 yards through enemy artillery fire that destroyed trees in his path and rained shrapnel all around him, while unrolling telephone wire needed to communicate with the battalion command post. Upon reaching the battalion’s front line, he continued to move forward under the withering enemy assault to a position 30 yards in front of the defending U.S. forces. He plunged into a shallow ditch that provided little protection from the advancing enemy’s heavy machine gun and small-arms fire.

With rounds impacting all around him, Conner calmly directed multiple fire missions on to the force of 600 German infantry troops, six Mark VI tanks and tank destroyers, adjusting round after round of artillery from his prone position until the enemy was forced to halt their advance.

For three hours, he remained in this prone position, enduring the repeated onslaught of German infantry which, at one point, advanced to within five yards of his position. When the Germans mounted an all-out attack to overrun the American lines and his location, Conner ordered his artillery to concentrate on his own position, resolved to die if necessary to halt the enemy.

Ignoring the friendly artillery shells blanketing his position and exploding within mere feet, Conner continued to direct artillery fire on the enemy assault swarming around him until the German attack was finally shattered and broken. By his incredible heroism and disregard for his own life, Conner stopped the enemy advance. The artillery he expertly directed while under constant enemy fire killed approximately 50 German soldiers and wounded at least 100 more, thus preventing heavy casualties in his battalion.

After spending over two years in nearly continuous combat, Conner was honorably discharged from the Army, June 22, 1945. Conner returned home to Clinton County after his discharge to a parade in his honor, where he met Pauline Lyda Wells. After a one-week courtship, they were married.

Conner ran a 36 acre farm in Clinton County, Kentucky, where he and Pauline raised their son, Paul. For several years, he served as president of the local Kentucky Farm Bureau, and he and Pauline volunteered their time to help disabled veterans receive their pension benefits. Conner died in 1998 at the age of 79 after battling kidney failure and diabetes.

We honor you, Garlin Conner.

(#Repost @Army.mil)

SGT Kyle Jerome White

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Sgt. Kyle Jerome White joined the Army in 2006, from Washington State. He attended basic training, advanced individual training, and U.S. Army Airborne School consecutively, at Fort Benning, Ga., before being assigned to the 2-503rd, at Camp Ederle, Italy, from 2006 to 2008. While assigned to the 2-503rd, White deployed to Aranas, Afghanistan, in spring 2007, where he served as a platoon radio telephone operator. He was assigned to the 4th Ranger Training Battalion, at Fort Benning, from 2008 to 2010. White departed the active-duty Army in May 2011.

His civilian education includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he majored in finance. He currently resides in Charlotte, where he is an investment analyst with the Royal Bank of Canada.

His military education includes the Combat Life Saver Course, U.S. Army Airborne School, U.S. Army Air Assault School, the Infantryman Course (One-Station Unit Training), the Primary Leadership Development Course, and the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Leaders Course.

White’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster and “V” device, the Army Achievement Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with one campaign star, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon with numeral 2 device, the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Parachutists Badge, the Air Assault Badge, the Presidential Unit Citation, and the Valorous Unit Award.

His Medal of Honor citation reads as following:

“Specialist Kyle J. White distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a radio telephone operator with Company C, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade during combat operations against an armed enemy in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on 9 November 2007. On that day, Specialist White and his comrades were returning to Bella Outpost from a shura with Aranas village elders. As the soldiers traversed a narrow path surrounded by mountainous, rocky terrain, they were ambushed by enemy forces from elevated positions. Pinned against a steep mountain face, Specialist White and his fellow soldiers were completely exposed to enemy fire. Specialist White returned fire and was briefly knocked unconscious when a rocket-propelled grenade impacted near him. When he regained consciousness, another round impacted near him, embedding small pieces of shrapnel in his face. Shaking off his wounds, Specialist White noticed one of his comrades lying wounded nearby. Without hesitation, Specialist White exposed himself to enemy fire in order to reach the soldier and provide medical aid. After applying a tourniquet, Specialist White moved to an injured Marine, providing aid and comfort until the Marine succumbed to his wounds. Specialist White then returned to the soldier and discovered that he had been wounded again. Applying his own belt as an additional tourniquet, Specialist White was able to stem the flow of blood and save the soldier’s life. Noticing that his and the other soldiers’ radios were inoperative, Specialist White exposed himself to enemy fire yet again in order to secure a radio from a deceased comrade. He then provided information and updates to friendly forces, allowing precision airstrikes to stifle the enemy’s attack and ultimately permitting medical evacuation aircraft to rescue him, his fellow soldiers, Marines, and Afghan army soldiers. Specialist Kyle J. White. Extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company C, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, and the United States Army.”

In reflection of the event, he shared his thoughts in the moment: “It’s just a matter of time before I’m dead. I figured, if that’s going to happen, I might as well help someone while I can.”

We honor you, Kyle White.

(#Repost @Army.mil)

HA1c Fred Faulkner Lester

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Fred Faulkner Lester was born in Downers Grove, Illinois on April 29, 1926. He joined the United States Naval Reserve on November 1, 1943 when he was just 17 years old. He was placed on active service with the United States Navy, trained as a medical corpsman, and assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Marine Regiment, 6th Marine Division.

Seventy years ago today during the Battle of Okinawa, then 19-year-old Lester, now a Hospitalman Apprentice 1st Class, rescued one wounded Marine from under heavy enemy fire, ignored his own grievous wounds, and instructed his comrades in care for the injured until he perished.

As is usual for members of the Naval Service awarded the Medal of Honor, a warship carried the young hero’s name. The USS Lester (DE-1022), a Dealey-class destroyer escort, served with our Navy from June 14, 1957 through December 14, 1973. The vessel was scrapped in 1974.

Lester today rests in peace in the Clarendon Hills Cemetery, Darien, Illinois.

We honor you, Fred Lester.

(#Repost @Their Finest Hour)

John Cole

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John Cole was called to active duty from the Marine Reserve in 1950 and assigned to the 5th Marine Regiment in northeastern Korea. In November, Cole’s unit was hit at Yudam west of the Chosin Reservoir by a massive Chinese onslaught in unimaginable 40-below-zero weather. Cole was wounded but continued to fight as the Marines battled through a gauntlet of enemy fire over a tortuous road to temporary safety in the encircled town of Hagaru. Cole was on the last medical evacuation flight to leave. For its action at Chosin and subsequent breakout to Hungnam on the coast, Cole’s lst Marine Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Cole was awarded with 3 purple hearts.

We honor you, John Cole.

(Submission photo by: Ninzel Rasmuson, #Repost @https://veteransday.utah.edu)

Arnold Barker Jr.

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As a boy, Arnold Baker, Jr. always dreamed of joining the Navy. In 1941 he turned 17 and enlisted. He was stationed on the USS Hornet as an aviation mechanic and was onboard when the ship launched the Doolittle Raid against Japan, as well as during the Guadalcanal Campaign. He survived the sinking of the Hornet in October 1942 and went on to serve his country in Korea as well, and retired with twenty years in the service.

We honor you, Arnold Barker Jr.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)