Lt. Col. Jimmy Kilbourne Sr.

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Retired Lt. Col. Jimmy Kilbourne Sr. (pictured bottom right), 84, received two Silver Stars and three Distinguished Flying Crosses as an A-1E Skyraider pilot with the 602nd Fighter Squadron and later the 602nd Special Operations Squadron, in Vietnam and Thailand. His 25-year career also included service in the Korean War.

In a November 1997 interview with the late Robert Noyer, Kilbourne said he was most proud of the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster awarded for valor in leading a large-scale effort to rescue the surviving crew members of three helicopters shot down by hostile ground fire Nov. 8, 1967, on a mountainside a few miles inside Laos.

The helicopters had been shot down during their attempts to extract a 12-man reconnaissance team of American and South Vietnamese soldiers that had been ambushed by a North Vietnamese Army battalion as they returned from a secret mission on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. In his interview with Kilbourne, Noyer wrote that “excerpts from the citation … tell a story of a pilot who would not give up his rescue efforts in spite of enemy fire which severely damaged his A-1E Skyraider aircraft.”

“While flying at low altitude to locate the survivors, and to pinpoint enemy gun positions, he received several hits, damaging a gun pod and external fuel tank. With the enemy firing on the survivors, then-Major Kilbourne strafed the gun emplacements, receiving more hits, this time in vital areas ― generator, propeller, internal fuel tank, hydraulic system, and worst of all, the engine. He was able to escort a successful rescue helicopter from the scene in spite of his plane being almost unflyable, returning to his base with navigation equipment inoperative. The landing, almost anticlimactic, was successful in spite of the heavy damage to his aircraft.”

Kilbourne’s first Silver Star was awarded for actions in July 1967 supporting the rescue of a downed Navy pilot just 40 miles south of Hanoi.

All told, Kilbourne flew 160 combat missions during two tours of duty. Some of his decorations resulted from the many resupply missions he flew. These included “an emergency humanitarian flight to aid Father Hoa and his Swallows,” Noyer noted. “Father Hoa, a Catholic priest, operated an armed enclave in the Delta, resisting nightly Viet Cong forays.”

We honor you, Jimmy Kilbourne Sr.

(Submission by: Ninzel Rasmuson. #Repost @AirForce Times)

Maj Gen John L. Borling

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John L. Borling was born in Chicago, Illinois in March, 1940. He graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1963, and received his pilot’s wings in 1964. By 1966 then-Lieutenant Borling was flying combat missions from a base in Thailand over North Vietnam. His F-4 Phantom was shot down on June 1, 1966 while flying his 97th mission. Borling spent the next six and a half years in enemy prison camps, including the notorious Hanoi Hilton. During the first few years as a prisoner of war (POW) he was kept in solitary confinement, subjected to torture and barely survived on a Spartan diet. In order to keep his mind active, Borling wrote poetry and passed it along to his fellow POWs by tapping them on the walls using a code system they developed themselves. Treatment of the POWs improved in the early 1970s. He and the rest of fellow captives were released on February 12, 1973.

Following his release, Borling received pilot refresher training, then was selected to be a White House Fellow from August 1974 to August 1975, serving during the Gerald Ford administration. He then attended the Armed Forces Staff College and following that he was assigned to the 94th Fighter Squadron, the famed Hat in the Ring squadron, which he soon commanded.  Borling attended the National War College, and he followed this with a tour at the Pentagon where he served as the chief of Checkmate Strategic Studies Group. In February of 1982, he was sent to Ramstein, West Germany where he commanded the 86th Fighter Group. He followed this assignment with a tour at the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers – Europe (SHAPE) in Belgium.

In June of 1986 then-Colonel Borling was assigned to Headquarters, Strategic Air Command (SAC) at Offut Air Force Base, Nebraska. By June, 1987, he was the commander of SAC’s 57th Air Division, based at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. He followed this with senior level assignments in SAC before returning to the Pentagon as a Major General, serving as the director of operational requirements from January 1991 to January 1992. Major General Borling finished his military career with a four-year tour at Allied Forces North (AFNORTH), NATO in Norway, first as the Deputy Chief of Staff-Air, and then as the Chief of Staff for AFNORTH-Europe in Stavanger, Norway. He retired on August 1, 1996 after thirty-three years of service.

We honor you, John Borling.

(#Repost @Pritzker Military Museum & Library)

LTC Rutherford “Jack” Brice, II

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Brice went to Korea as a commissioned officer after serving as an aviation machinist in World War II. Brice saw action in three of the bloodiest battles of the Korean War as a company commander and platoon leader. One of his starkest moments came during the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, a fierce fight at the top of a ridge that served as a vantage point to a broad valley. The well-fortified hill saw much back-and-forth fighting between American forces and the enemy. Climbing up the ridge was nearly impossible with all of the artillery placements built by the Koreans and Chinese. Brice’s unit finally took care of the hill, but not until many of his fellow soldiers died trying to take the hill.

We honor you, Rutherford Brice.

(#Repost @The Veteran’s Site)

MajGen James E. Livingston

While thousands of heroes have emerged since the inception of the U.S. Marine Corps on November 10, 1775, James E. Livingston has earned the title, “Leatherneck Legend.”  Growing up in the 1940’s on a 3,000 acre dirt farm in Towns, Georgia, Livingston learned the importance of hard work and determination at a young age.  After college, Livingston received an Army draft card, but instead chose to enlist in the Marines in 1962. Livingston’s career advanced through the ranks of command to Captain, and he was ordered to the Republic of Vietnam as Commanding Officer of Company E, the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade, known simply as E Company, in 1968.

With one devastating battle after another in Dai Do, E Company was sent in to assist another Marine company, which had been isolated the night before, when enemy forces seized the village. Skillfully employing screening agents, Livingston maneuvered his men to assault positions.  Despite being wounded twice by grenade fragments, Livingston refused medical treatment, and instead shouted words of encouragement to his men as they continued across the 500 meters of open rice fields, where they destroyed over 100 mutually supporting bunkers, driving the remaining enemy from their position and relieving the pressure on the stranded Marines. Having reestablished contact with the surrounded Marine Company, Livingston then learned of a third Marine Company leading an attack on nearby Dinh To village. Marshalling his resources, Livingston consolidated the two companies and led a support effort to halt the aggressive enemy counter attack from Dinh To. After being wounded a third time and rendered immobile, he remained in the combat zone and supervised the evacuation of these men.

Three days of a relentless battle of attrition with 800 Marines battling 10,000 North Vietnamese soldiers was finally coming to a victorious end for the United States. Livingston was dragged from the battlefield by two Marines as he continued to shoot at the enemy. Only after he was assured of his fellow Marines’ safety did Livingston allow himself to be evacuated.

For his gallantry, bravery and selflessness, he was awarded the Medal of Honor from President Richard Nixon in 1970. After 33 years of service, Livingston hung up his service uniform. Taking the expression: “Once a Marine, Always a Marine” to heart, Livingston looked to write the next chapter of service to America through his public service career. He authored the novel: “Noble Warrior: The Story of Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston.” He also serves on numerous volunteer boards and speaks on leadership and service to country.

We honor you, James E. Livingston.

(#Repost @Library of Congress Blogs)

Maj Kurt Chew-Een Lee

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Major Kurt Chew-Een Lee is the first Chinese-American officer in the history of the United States Marine Corps. Honored for his heroic performance during the Korean War, Lee is a recipient of the Navy Cross, the second highest honor a marine can receive for valor.

Born and raised in northern California, Lee is the first-born son of Chinese immigrants. As a first-generation American, Lee says he and his siblings “grew up in an American way, but kept Chinese customs.” As a high school student, Lee witnessed the events of World War II and-determined to become an honored American soldier-joined the Junior ROTC. During a time when very few minorities were in command, Private Lee rose through the ranks to become a First Lieutenant. Blowing past cultural barriers, he became Commanding Officer of a Machine-Gun Platoon of Company B, First Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division. His opportunity to earn the respect of his troops and prove his solidarity as an American citizen would soon arise on the rugged mountain ranges of northeast Korea.

Outnumbered by Communist Chinese forces and facing temperatures 20 degrees below zero, Lee boldly exposed himself to enemy fire as he braved the enemy-held slope. His audacious one-man attack forced the Chinese to fire and reveal their battle stations, which gave his platoon the opportunity to capture the base. Despite injuries sustained on the battlefield, Lee went on to lead 500 marines on a grueling night mission to save their fellow soldiers, the Fox Company, at the battle of Chosin Reservoir. In a mission unprecedented in Marine Corps history, Lee’s company fought for every inch of ground and safely evacuated Fox Company to the Port City of Hungnam. As the first officer of Asian descent to be commissioned in the United States Marine Corps, Lee is not only a pioneer but also a shining example of resolve and courage.

We honor you, Kurt Lee.

(#Repost @Smithsonian Channel)

SFC Daniel Metcalfe

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29-year-old US Army Sergeant 1st Class Daniel T. Metcalfe, from New York was killed on 29th September 2012 when his unit came under fire from enemy forces at Sayyid Abad, Afghanistan. He served with the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, based in Italy.

Sergeant Metcalfe joined the Army when he was 18 and had served one tour in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan prior to this deployment. He first joined his unit in Vicenza, Italy, in January 2002 and it was here that he met his Italian wife Vesna. He later became a drill instructor at Fort Benning, Georgia., before returning to Vicenza in 2011.

Sergeant Metcalfe’s father said this about his son in an interview with local press: “He was always positive, always the one taking the lead, a little mischievous. The Army took that leadership and put it into proper use. To watch his maturity after he joined the service made me as proud as I could be.”

We honor you, Daniel Metcalfe.

(#Repost @Fallen Heroes: Afghanistan)

CDR Lyndon B. Johnson

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On June 21, 1940, Lyndon Johnson was appointed Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve (USNR). Reporting for active duty on Dec. 10, 1941, three days after Pearl Harbor, he was ordered to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, D.C., for instruction. He began working on production and manpower problems that were slowing the production of ships and planes, and he traveled in Texas, California, and Washington, assessing labor needs in war production plants. In May 1942, he proceeded to headquarters, Twelfth Naval District, San Francisco, California, for inspection duty in the pacific. Stationed in New Zealand and Australia, he participated as an observer on a number of bomber missions in the South Pacific. He was awarded the Army Silver Star Medal by General Douglas MacArthur and it was cited as follows:

For gallantry in action in the vicinity of Port Moresby and Salamaua, New Guinea, on June 9, 1942. While on a mission of obtaining information in the Southwest Pacific area, Lieutenant Commander Johnson, in order to obtain personal knowledge of combat conditions, volunteered as an observer on a hazardous aerial combat mission over hostile positions in New Guinea. As our planes neared the target area they were intercepted by eight hostile fighters. When, at this time, the plane in which Lieutenant Commander Johnson was an observer, developed mechanical trouble and was forced to turn back alone, presenting a favorable target to the enemy fighters, he evidenced marked coolness in spite of the hazards involved. His gallant actions enabled him to obtain and return with valuable information.

In addition to the Army Silver Star Medal, Commander Johnson has the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

On July 16, 1942, Johnson was released from active duty under honorable conditions. (President Roosevelt had ruled that national legislators might not serve in the armed forces). On Oct. 19, 1949, he was promoted to Commander, USNR, his date of rank, June 1, 1948. His resignation from the Naval Reserve was accepted by the Secretary of the Navy, effective Jan. 18, 1964.

We honor you, Lyndon Johnson.

(#Repost @JBJ Library)