Sp4c John Philip Baca

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Baca was born on January 10, 1949, in Providence, Rhode Island. He was raised in San Diego, California. Baca was drafted into the United States Army on June 10, 1968.
By February 10, 1970, he was stationed in Vietnam as a Specialist Four with Company D of the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. On that day, in Phuoc Long Province, he was serving on a recoilless rifle team when the lead platoon of his company was ambushed. Baca led his team forward through intense fire to reach the besieged platoon. When a fragmentation grenade was tossed into their midst, he “unhesitatingly, and with complete disregard for his own safety,” covered it with his helmet and then laid his body over the helmet, smothering the blast and saving eight fellow soldiers from severe injury or death. Baca survived his wounds and was formally awarded the Medal of Honor by President Richard M. Nixon on March 2, 1971. Two other soldiers in Company D, Allen J. Lynch and Rodney J. Evans, had previously earned the medal.

He says he should have died in Vietnam on Feb. 10, 1970. Baca, a 21-year-old soldier, found himself in the middle of a gunfight and watched a grenade land in the middle of his patrol. “I saw my whole life flash through me. What do I do? Do I pick it up? Do I throw it? Where did it come from? It’s not supposed to be here, and do I run from it? Somebody is going to get wounded,” Baca said. “All these thoughts went through my mind.”

He covered the grenade with his helmet and then covered his helmet with his body, saving the lives of the men around him. He remembers praying to Jesus and feeling as if an angelic presence was holding him as he lay bleeding on the battlefield.

In 1990, Baca returned to Vietnam with ten other soldiers of the Veterans Vietnam Restoration Project. The group spent eight weeks working alongside former North Vietnamese Army soldiers building a health clinic in a village north of Hanoi.
Baca rarely speaks publicly about the events for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. However, he prefers to recall an event that occurred on Christmas Day, 1969, when he was walking ahead of his unit, acting as “point,” and surprised a young North Vietnamese soldier sitting alone on top of an enemy bunker in the jungle. He saw that the soldier could not reach his rifle quickly and, not wanting to shoot him, yelled in Vietnamese for him to surrender. Not only was he able to take his “Christmas gift” alive and unharmed, the young man, twenty years later, was among the Vietnamese that Baca worked with building the clinic in 1990. Baca remains active in social causes, particularly related to Vietnam veterans issues and the plight of the homeless.

In 2002, a park was named in his honor in Huntington Beach, California. After living in Orange County, Baca moved to Julian, California, enjoying the relative solitude. Gaudette’s pie shop is a local favorite, and Baca is her best customer, sometimes ordering 10 pies a week. Baca says he doesn’t own a television anymore or a computer. Instead, he spends his days talking with people. He listens to their stories and occasionally he shares his.

 

44 years later, Baca continues to be a giver. The apple pies are proof. They aren’t for him, but for strangers all across the country: Wounded warriors who’ve lost limbs and families who’ve lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It’s just a delight doing this. Making some people happy, people we’ve forgotten about. But, pies…everybody likes pies,” Baca said.

“He is the most generous man I’ve ever met in my life. I don’t think he wants to own anything in this life. He wants to give it all away,” said Mike Murray, a friend and a veteran himself also living in Julian.

We honor you, John Baca.

(#Repost @Hawaii Reporter)

MAJ Emiline Ann “Duce” Bourgeois

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Major Emiline Ann “Duce” Bourgeois, a native of Thibodaux referred to by the National World War II Museum as the oldest living female WWII veteran in Louisiana, whose service also included the Korean and Vietnam wars, died Oct. 30, 2015. She was 103.

In February 1945, near what would eventually be the end of World War II, Bourgeois, then 33, joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. Her first assignment saw her serving in the Philippines, nursing wounded soldiers. A second assignment, also in the Philippines, saw her serving in combat hospitals.

In a recent interview with the Houma-Thibodaux magazine & website Point of Vue, Bourgeois recalled how wounded GIs were happy to have an American nurse to talk to. She had many boyfriends, but chose to never marry.

“They were very young, and they didn’t know how old I was because I seemed to always look younger than I am,” she told WWL-TV’s Bill Capo in a 2011 interview where she was celebrated at a Veterans Day ceremony in Thibodaux.

Bourgeois, or “Duce” – the nickname was given to her by her grandfather, referencing the French word for “sweet” – also served in post-World War II occupied Germany. Her last assignment was as head nurse of obstetrics at the West Point Academy Hospital in New York.

Her wartime service was honored with many awards including the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the National Defense Medal, the Germany Occupational Medal, and a West Point Academy patch.

Born on Dec. 24, 1911 in the St. Charles community, south of Thibodaux, young “Duce” attended and graduated from St. Charles High School in 1929. She then headed to New Orleans, where she first found odd jobs, including working at S.H. Kress & Co. dime store on Canal Street. She then enrolled in the Hotel Dieu School of Nursing, from which she graduated in 1941. Her specialty was obstetrics.

As she progressed in her military career after WWII, Bourgeois was awarded the rank of 1st Lieutenant and then Captain. During the Vietnam War, she was assigned to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York, where she served as the charge nurse of the obstetrical ward.

She retired in 1962 to care for her parents, who lived well into their 90s. She also returned to nursing, accepting a general nursing position at St. Joseph Hospital, where she would continue to work for 20 years.

We honor you, Emiline Bourgeois.

(#Repost @The Star Press)

RDML William “Bill” E. Newman

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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)

1LT Paul Baffico

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Differing from some of the public universities at the time, the school that Baffico attended—the University of San Francisco—had a requirement that all students participate in ROTC for their first two years with the option to continue on voluntarily after that.  Despite the more conservative nature of the school, the university’s proximity to landmarks of 60s counter-culture—Haight-Ashbury, The University of California at Berkeley, and San Francisco itself—made putting on a uniform and going to class that much more intense in an environment where heated debates about Vietnam were raging. Watching as peers were pulled out of class and taken to the draft board, however, and hoping to postpone being drafted himself, Mr. Baffico chose to continue with ROTC after the school’s initial requirements had been met.

After completing his undergraduate studies, Baffico was trained as a Signal Officer at Ft. Gordon, Georgia before moving on to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, and finally landing at Ft. Hood, Texas. From there, he deployed to Vietnam and joined up with the 101st Airborne Division as a Signal Platoon Leader at Camp Eagle, in the hotly contested DMZ. From the time he landed in Vietnam—coming into Tan Son Nhut and making the 30-minute drive by jeep to Camp Eagle—Baffico was enveloped by the dangers of the conflict that would be ever-present in his 206 combat assaults.

One day, in particular, stands out to Baffico and represents the intensity he experienced:

“As dawn broke on the morning of May 6th [1970] I was called to Division Tactical Operations Center (the Situation Bunker) and told that Firebase Henderson was under heavy attack and partially overrun. It was a sapper attack and the ammo dump was on fire and cooking off. My three men had been hit: two killed and one MEDEVAC’d out. The battle was at full peak and the only working communications for the entire firebase was the Pathfinder radio (LZ air traffic control). I was ordered to get a new team and equipment ready and get them installed at Henderson within 45 minutes regardless of the situation. I was not to leave the firebase until my men were in place and the equipment was back on air.”

That during his interview Baffico chooses to focus on issues of leadership surrounding this moment, and what it means to support the troops in such a situation, is perhaps telling of how hard it is to revisit certain moments in the past. Mr. Baffico does suggest it took him many years to be able to even write about that day. The understanding of leadership that Baffico took away with him that day continued to shape him as he came home to a community protesting  the war in Vietnam; as he married and raised a family, and as he began a long career with Sears Roebuck & Co.—a company that understood his service and supported him.

Baffico, who lives in Lake Bluff, Illinois and is one of the founders of the Lake County Veterans and Family Service Foundation, takes time each month to volunteer at The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., where he talks with visitors about the war-time sacrifices he witnessed and what it actually means to be of service to your country.

We honor you, Paul Baffico.

(#Repost @Pritzker Military Museum & Library)

James Clarence Adams

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James Clarence Adams was born September 3, 1947, in Martinsburg, West Virginia, to Lawrence and Eva Cage Adams. He had two sisters.

James graduated from Martinsburg High School in 1965 and worked for his father at the Stoney Corner Service Station and at the J.C. Penney Store. He also worked for Burroughs Corporation located in Washington D.C. where he was employed at the time of his enlistment in the Army in October 1966. He served at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. In 1967 he graduated from Officer’s Candidate School in Fort Benning, Georgia, and was commissioned a second Lieutenant.

Lieutenant James Adams was stationed in South Vietnam beginning September 9, 1968, a member of Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, 25th Division. On November 27, he was in Tay Ninh Province, where he received wounds which caused his death. His body was returned to the United States and buried in Rosedale Cemetery in Martinsburg on December 9, 1968.

Lieutenant James Adams’s name appears on panel 38w of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D. C. In February of 1969 his parents were presented with the Bronze Medal and Purple Heart, which had been posthumously awarded to their son.

We honor you, James Adams.

(#Repost @wvculture.org)

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.)

MAJ Donald G. Carr

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Army Maj. Donald G. Carr, 32, of San Antonio, accounted for on Aug. 19, 2015, will be buried May 11, at San Antonio National Cemetery. On July 6, 1971, Carr was assigned to the Mobile Launch Team 3, 5th Special Forces Group, as an observer in an OV-10A aircraft that supported an eight-man Special Forces reconnaissance team. During his mission, his aircraft encountered bad weather. Shortly afterward, the ground team heard an explosion to their northeast, which they believed to be that of an OV-10A. They failed to locate the crash site, however, and Carr was declared missing in action.

Between September 1991 and March 2014, joint U.S./Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic teams conducted more than 25 investigations and site surveys, but could not locate his remains.

In April 2014, a Vietnamese citizen contacted American officials, claiming to know about possible American remains in Kon Tum Province, Vietnam. Wreckage, photos, personal effects, and remains were located and transferred to DPAA, and later identified as Carr’s.

To identify Carr’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used circumstantial evidence and DNA analysis, including mitochondrial DNA.

The support from the government and the people of Vietnam was vital to the success of this recovery.

Today there are 1,598 American servicemen and civilians still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. Carr’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, along with others unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

We honor you, Donald Carr.

(Submission by: Miah Parry #Repost @powmiafamilies)