Cpl Ralph Racacho

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Racacho served with  D Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. Corporal Racacho was wounded on 24 August 1968 while he was leaving the helicopter he was on and was hit in the right arm by a gunshot. Later he received more wounds to his neck and head from shrapnel.

We honor you, Ralph Racacho.

(#Repost @National Purple Heart Hall of Valor)

LT Ruth Deloris Buckley

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Ruth Buckley enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps after graduating from the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing in 1940. Buckley was first stationed in North Africa, working in the pre-operation tent. She was exposed to the enormity of the war through her interaction with the young servicemen. “Suffering was written in every line of their tired faces and clenched teeth.”

On the way from Africa to Italy, her ship was sunk by a German bomber who ignored the giant red crosses painted on the vessel’s side and deck. Buckley and her fellow nurses took to the lifeboats and were picked up by a British destroyer. On a beach in Italy, another bomber dropped his payload in an effort to avoid a pursuing plane, and Buckley was severely wounded by shrapnel. After recovering, Buckley turned down offers to return to the United States, and instead went back to work in Italy.

Buckley and the 95th Evacuation Hospital followed the troops as the front line moved up through Italy, and into liberated France.  Although her service as an Army nurse put her life in danger and meant witnessing the horrors of war first hand, Buckley had a great passion for the services she performed. “There were many compensations for the dangers I faced and chief among them was the privilege of serving our wounded… they are the grandest, gamest, finest soldiers in the world.”

We honor you, Ruth Buckley.

(#Repost @Pritzer Military Museum and Library and @Veteran’s History Project)

PFC Victor Johnson Jr

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Victor Johnson served in the US Army during the Vietnam war. He was a Armor Reconnaissance Specialist with the 3rd Squadron, 4th US Cavalry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightening Division). Victor was killed in action in Hau Nghia on March 7, 1969.

We honor you, Victor Johnson Jr.

(Source: @Together We Stand)

SSG Joseph Arden Beimfohr

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Joseph Beimfohr enlisted in the Army two days after his 17th birthday, with the approval of his grandmother, who had raised him. He did two tours of duty in Korea in a forward force that was on alert at all times. In August 2004, he arrived at Ft. Riley, Kansas, to train for duty in Iraq. Encouraged that he was working with experienced and dedicated men, he landed in country in January 2005. There he did more forward scouting, only this time under real, rather than anticipated, fire. What he learned from his experiences was that soldiers have to trust their training and instincts. In July he lost both legs to an explosion, and Beimfohr subsequently learned that the only limitations in his life were self-imposed.

We honor you, Joseph Biemfohr.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)

CPL Norman Philip Swaney

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Drafted just prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Corporal Norman Swaney entered the Army Air Corps in January 1942, and volunteered for “the glory outfit”—the paratroopers. As a member of F Company of the 101st Airborne, although he lost a lot of buddies, he terms his experience in Normandy a “piece of cake” compared to what was to come. Wounded by shrapnel during Operation Market Garden, he recuperated in England before rejoining his unit in France, only to be taken prisoner by the Germans on January 3rd, 1945, during the Battle of Bastogne. Put through a series of work camps and eventually transferred to Stalag IX-B, he was liberated in early April 1945, and arrived stateside before his family had even been notified that he was a POW.

We honor you, Norman Swaney.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)

PFC Myron A. Hartman

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Private First Class Hartman was a member of the 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. He was Killed in Action while attacking enemy positions near Imok-Chong, North Korea from multiple shell fragments on October 9, 1951. Hartman was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.

We honor you, Myron Hartman.

(#Repost @American Battle Monuments Commission)

Col Nathaniel G. Raley

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Raley, 84, was “hooked” on becoming a pilot at age 7 after he and his father flew in a barnstorming World War I biplane in their home town of Demopolis. A flight with an instructor at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, at age 13 further fed Raley’s appetite to become a pilot. He wanted to be a fighter pilot after the P-38, the largest single-seat fighter in the Army, came out in 1939.

Raley would get his chance at 19 when he left the University of Alabama, where he was studying mechanical engineering, and passed the aviation cadet exam in February 1942. After classroom and flight training in California and Arizona, he was shipped to Casablanca, Morocco, in June 1943. After flying missions to Tunisia from Morocco, Raley was assigned to a fighter squadron of the 12th Air Force in Tunis, Tunisia. At 20, Raley was the youngest pilot in the squadron. He worked his way up from wing man, element leader and flight leader to squad leader, where he led a group of 12 planes.

Raley began flying combat missions on Aug. 19, 1943, escorting B-17 bombers from Tunisia to Foggia, Italy. He saw five B-17s shot down on his first mission. “I thought, ‘Good grief, this is mission No. 1. I’ve got 50 missions,’ ” Raley said. Soon, Raley’s group moved to Sicily, where they continued flying missions – some times twice a day – against the German Army in Salerno, Italy. “I was getting concerned about living to be 21 years old,” Raley said. “I was getting to be weary of war.”

Raley’s squadron “did a little bit of everything” from escorting bombers to dive bombing and strafing. During his 48 missions, Raley shot down two German Messerschmitt 109 fighters and destroyed two others parked at an airfield.

On his 48th mission in late January 1944, one engine in Raley’s P-38 was hit by enemy fire. Flames were shooting 25 feet behind the engine and Raley wanted to head to the coast to ditch the plane. But enemy fire started hitting the remaining operating engine and a 20 mm shell landed in the cockpit floorboard. The shell didn’t explode, but it went through the plane’s fuel tank. “Flames were just boiling up,” Raley said. It was time to bail out, but Raley was flying about 100 feet off the ground, way below the minimum 500 feet. But with his plane stalling, Raley was able to get to 300 feet and somersaulted out of the plane.

He landed about 50 feet from several dozen German soldiers. He took a step in the other direction, but turned his head to see the soldiers with their guns pointed at his chest. He stopped. The soldiers stood him against a wall and were arguing among themselves when the non-commissioned officer walked up and saved him. The fire had erased Raley’s eyelashes and most of his eyebrows. His eyes were stinging. “I was a bloody mess,” he said.

Raley was held in Laterina in the Tuscany region of Italy for about a month. “It was just a hellhole,” he said. “We didn’t even get water to drink. It was cold.” He was then shipped by rail box car to Munich, where he spent two months in Stalag 7-A. He spent some time there in solitary confinement because he refused to talk during interrogation. Raley was transferred to Stalag Luft 1 in Barth, Germany, near the Baltic Sea. He spent a year and two days there. It was cold and the prisoners ate barley soup, which they had to pick grub worms out of before eating it, he said.

The camp was “unpleasant,” Raley said. “But I was never beaten. I was never put in handcuffs or leg irons.” The Russian Army liberated the camp on April 30, 1945, a day after the Germans abandoned the camp, Raley said. “The Russians were very good to us,” Raley said. “They were very rough on the Germans.”

Raley left active duty after arriving home, but joined the Air Force Reserve. He retired from the reserves in 1974 as a full colonel.

We honor you, Nathaniel Raley.

(#Repost @Alabama Media)