Maj Wintford “Dick” Bazzell

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Dick Bazzell was born on December 6, 1925, in Delta, Missouri. He served in the U.S. Merchant Marines from September 1943 to July 1944, and then enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 7, 1944. After completing basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama, he was assigned as an infantryman with 1st Platoon, Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 324th Infantry Regiment of the 44th Infantry Division, deploying to Europe from February to July 1945. SSG Bazzell received an honorable discharge from the Army on June 28, 1946, and later enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Reserve on September 20, 1948. He was commissioned a 2d Lt in the Air Force on February 17, 1951, and went on active duty beginning September 30, 1951.

Lt Bazzell next completed Radar Observer Training at James Connally AFB, Texas, in February 1952, followed by Aircrew Interceptor Training at Tyndall AFB, Florida, in April 1952. He served as an F-94C Starfire Radar Intercept Officer with the 58th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Otis AFB, Massachusetts, from April 1952 to March 1953, and then completed pilot training, earning his pilot wings at Bryan AB, Texas, in February 1954. After completing F-84 Thunderjet Combat Crew Training, Lt Bazzell served as an instructor pilot with the 3625th and then the 3626th Combat Crew Training Groups at Tyndall AFB from June 1954 to November 1958. Capt Bazzell served as a Weapons Controller and Operations Officer with the 720th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron at Middleton Island, Alaska, from December 1958 to December 1959. His next assignment was as a Weapons Controller and then Detachment Commander of Detachment 1, 728th AC&W Squadron at Pope AFB, North Carolina, from December 1959 to September 1961.

He then received an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment to complete his bachelor’s degree at Oklahoma State University from September 1961 to August 1963. His next assignment was in the Telemetry Section Range Development Laboratory with the 3208th Test Group at Eglin AFB, Florida, from August 1963 to February 1964, followed by service as a Physicist in the Data & Telemetry Branch with Headquarters Air Proving Ground Command at Eglin from February 1964 to October 1966. He next completed F-105 Thunderchief Combat Crew Training in March 1967, and then served as an F-105 pilot and Chief of Briefing-Scheduling with the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from May 1967 to February 1968. Maj Bazzell’s final assignment was as a Laboratory Staff Scientist with the Air Force Armament Laboratory, Armament Development and Test Center with Air Force Systems Command at Eglin AFB from March 1968 until his retirement from the Air Force on March 1, 1974.

Bizzell earned 11 Distinguished Flying Crosses during his time of service. His 10th (of 11) reads:

“Major Wintford L. Bazzell distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight as a Pilot over North Vietnam on 19 December 1967. On that date, Major Bazzell was a member of a flight of four F-105 Thunderchiefs assigned to engage hostile surface to air missile sites in support of a major attack. Under continuous fire from eight surface to air missile sites and countless antiaircraft artillery sites, Major Bazzell made repeated attacks on the missile sites threatening the strike force. As a direct result of his courageous actions, the force was able to successfully attack its assigned target in the most heavily defended area of North Vietnam without the loss of a single aircraft. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Major Bazzell reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.”

We honor you, Wintford Bazzell.

(#Repost @Veteran Tributes)

MajGen Charles F. Bolden, Jr.

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Aerospace engineer and Major General (ret.) Charles F. Bolden, Jr. was born on August 19, 1946 in Columbia, South Carolina. He graduated from C.A. Johnson High School in 1964. Both of his parents, Charles and Ethel Bolden, were teachers and stressed the importance of education. Bolden received his B.S. degree in electrical science from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968, and earned his M.S. degree in systems management from the University of Southern California in 1977. He then accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps following graduation from the Naval Academy and underwent flight training at Pensacola, Florida, Meridian, Mississippi, and Kingsville, Texas.

Between June 1972 and June 1973, Bolden flew more than 100 combat missions into North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in the A-6A Intruder while stationed in Nam Phong, Thailand. After returning to the United States, Bolden served in a variety of positions in the Marine Corps. He was then assigned to the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, where he completed his training in 1979. While working at the Naval Air Test Center’s Systems Engineering and Strike Aircraft Test Directorates, he tested a variety of ground attack aircraft until his selection as an astronaut candidate in 1980. Bolden’s NASA astronautical career included technical assignments. He served as pilot on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1986. In the wake of the Challenger disaster, he was assigned as the chief of the Safety Division. In 1990, he piloted the Space Shuttle Discovery during its mission to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope. Bolden served as the Mission Commander for Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1992 and the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1994. He logged more than 680 hours during these four flights. Bolden left NASA and returned to the U.S. Marine Corps in 1997, and was assigned as the Deputy Commandment of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy. During Operation Desert Thunder-Kuwait in 1998, he was assigned as the Commanding General of the Marine Expeditionary Force. He was promoted to Major General in 1998. In 2003, Bolden retired from the Marine Corps and served as president of the American PureTex Water Corporation. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Bolden as the top NASA administrator, making him the second astronaut and the first African American to serve in this position.

Bolden’s military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. NASA awarded him the Exceptional Service Award in 1988, 1989, and 1991. In May of 2006, he was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

We honor you, Charles Bolden Jr.

(#Repost @History Makers)

CPT James A. Taylor

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First Lt. James A. Taylor was serving in South Vietnam as Executive Officer of B Troop, First Cavalry, American Division on November 8, 1967 when he was notified that his commander had been wounded in action.

He was ordered into the combat zone to take command and make preparations for a search and destroy mission the following day.

Early on November 9, Taylor resumed his duties as Executive Officer in charge of evacuation of wounded personnel, calling in air and ground support, and arranging for supplies and ammunition for the pending attack. As the troops moved forward, they came under heavy attack from a North Vietnamese regiment. Taylor reacted immediately to aid the first crippled personnel carrier before it exploded from the intense fire. But that was just the beginning of the battle – and an extraordinary display of courage under fire.

On November 19, 1968, in a ceremony at the White House, James A. Taylor was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Johnson.

His official citation reads:

“CPT Taylor, Armor, was serving as executive officer of Troop B, 1st Squadron. His troop was engaged in an attack on a fortified position west of Que Son when it came under intense enemy recoilless rifle, mortar, and automatic weapons fire from an enemy strong point located immediately to its front. One armored cavalry assault vehicle was hit immediately by recoilless rifle fire and all five crewmembers were wounded. Aware that the stricken vehicle was in grave danger of exploding, CPT Taylor rushed forward and personally extracted the wounded to safety despite the hail of enemy fire and exploding ammunition. Within minutes a second armored cavalry assault vehicle was hit by multiple recoilless rifle rounds. Despite the continuing intense enemy fire, CPT Taylor moved forward on foot to rescue the wounded men from the burning vehicle and personally removed all the crewmen to the safety of a nearby dike. Moments later the vehicle exploded.

As he was returning to his vehicle, a bursting mortar round painfully wounded CPT Taylor, yet he valiantly returned to his vehicle to relocate the medical evacuation landing zone to an area closer to the front lines. As he was moving his vehicle, it came under machinegun fire from an enemy position not 50 yards away. CPT Taylor engaged the position with his machinegun, killing the three-man crew.

Upon arrival at the new evacuation site, still another vehicle was struck. Once again CPT Taylor rushed forward and pulled the wounded from the vehicle, loaded them aboard his vehicle, and returned them safely to the evacuation site. His actions of unsurpassed valor were a source of inspiration to his entire troop, contributed significantly to the success of the overall assault on the enemy position, and were directly responsible for saving the lives of a number of his fellow soldiers. His actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military profession and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.”

We honor you, James Taylor.

(#Repost @Pritzker Military Museum & Library)

CPT Humbert Roque “Rocky” Versace

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Many believe that Captain Rocky Versace epitomizes all that the U.S. Military Academy at West Point stands for and lived by the code of “Duty, Honor, Country.” Capt. Versace was a Special Forces officer who was executed by the Viet Cong while being held as a Prisoner of War.
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on July 2, 1937, Versace was the son of an Army Colonel, he grew up living on military bases and attending high school in both Alexandria and Norfolk, Virginia. He attended West Point from 1955 to 1959, and was commissioned in the Armor branch. After graduating from the Ranger School and completing Airborne training, he served in 1st Cavalry Division, which was operating in Korea. He then returned stateside to serve in the 3rd Infantry Division (Old Guard) in Washington, D.C. Under President John F. Kennedy’s administration, advisors were sent to Vietnam in the early ‘60s, and Capt. Versace volunteered for that duty. Prior to deployment, he attended Vietnamese language school and completed training at the Military Assistance Institute.

In May 1962, he began his tour as an advisor in Vietnam, serving with the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). In May 1963, he extended his tour for another six months while making plans to get out of the Army and return to Vietnam to help the children. On Oct. 23, 1963, during his last month in service, his unit was attacked, and overrun.

Although he was wounded, Capt. Versace, along with 1Lt. Nick Rowe and Sgt. Daniel Pitzer continued to fight until they were taken prisoner by enemy forces. During their captivity, they were starved and exposed to extreme physical and psychological torture. Although wounded and weakened, Capt. Versace resisted captivity and lived by the Code of Conduct. He attempted escape four times and was seen by the other prisoners as continually resisting the captors, insulting them in their native Vietnamese and also in French. Over the course of t23 months he never broke, despite repeated torture and abuse. His physical appearance witnessed by his fellow prisoners showed that while his body was being broken, his spirit was not. He was finally separated from the other prisoners. The last they heard his voice he was singing “God Bless America”, giving inspiration to his fellow prisoners and displaying incredible courage in the face of unbearable torture. On Sept. 25, 1965 on “Liberation Radio” the North Vietnamese announced they had executed Capt. Versace.

Lt. Rowe, also a prisoner for five years, overpowered a guard and became the first American service member to escape captivity. Rowe later documented Capt. Versace’s story in the book Five Years to Freedom, and personally appealed to President Richard M. Nixon to award Capt. Versace with the Medal of Honor for his actions before and during captivity. President Nixon assured Maj. Rowe that he would seek the Medal of Honor for Capt. Versace. Lt. Rowe and Sgt. Pitzer founded the U.S. Army Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, or SERE, program at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, based on their own experiences and Captain Versace’s leadership and example before and during captivity.

Capt. Versace was nominated for the Medal of Honor in 1969, but the award was downgraded to the Silver Star Medal. In 2002, the “Friends of Rocky” were successful in getting Capt. Versace the award for valor above and beyond the call of duty. On July 8, 2002, President George W. Bush awarded Capt. Rocky Versace a posthumous Medal of Honor.

We honor you, Humbert “Rocky” Versace.

(Submission by: Miah Parry. #Repost Distinguished Members of the Special Forces)

SFC Jose Rodela

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Medal of Honor recipient Jose Rodela was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, June 15, 1937.

He entered the U.S. Army in September 1955, at the age of 17.

Rodela is being recognized for his valorous actions on Sept. 1, 1969, while serving as the company commander in Phuoc Long Province, Vietnam. Rodela commanded his company throughout 18 hours of continuous contact when his battalion was attacked and taking heavy casualties. Throughout the battle, in spite of his wounds, Rodela repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to attend to the fallen and eliminate an enemy rocket position.

Rodela retired from the Army in 1975. He currently resides in San Antonio, Texas.

Rodela received the Medal of Honor, March 18, 2014; Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal with “V” Device, Army Commendation Medal with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal with Silver Clasp and one Loop, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with one Silver Service Star, Korea Defense Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Expert Marksmanship Badge with Rifle Bar, Special Forces Tab, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with “60” Device, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm Device, Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal Unit Citation First Class, Republic of Vietnam Special Forces Honorary Jump Wings, Columbian Army Parachutist Badge.

We honor you, Jose Rodela.

(Submission by: Miah Parry. #Repost @Army.mil)

MG Sidney Shachnow

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Maj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow survived three years in a Nazi concentration camp, he deployed twice to the jungles of Vietnam and he was the top U.S. Army officer in Berlin at the end of the Cold War. Along the way, the general became a legendary Special Forces officer, revered by many in the close-knit community of Green Berets. Maj. Gen. Shachnow, 83, who lived in Southern Pines with his wife, Arlene, died Friday, Sept 28, 2018. But his legacy, officials said, will live on.

Born in Lithuania in 1934, Maj. Gen. Shachnow faced oppression in his homeland and found his calling in the U.S. Army after immigrating to America in 1950. He enlisted in the military in 1955 and served for more than 39 years, including 32 in the Special Forces community. His top posts included leadership of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School and U.S. Army Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg and U.S. Army-Berlin in Germany.

“Maj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow truly lived the American dream,” said officials at the Special Warfare Center and School, which the general commanded from 1991 until his retirement in 1994. “He came up through the ranks from private to major general through hard work and selfless service to this nation and the men and women under his command.”

“Even in retirement, Maj. Gen. Shachnow remained committed to the Special Forces Regiment, serving in a variety of volunteer roles and serving on a number of boards,” officials said. “He continued to provide sage guidance and sound counsel to commanders throughout the enterprise, and specifically here at the Special Warfare Center and School. Maj. Gen. Shachnow cast a long shadow, and we will miss him dearly.”

As a 6-year-old boy, the general was among thousands of Jews held prisoner at the Kovno concentration camp near Kaunus, Lithuania. He lived in the camp for more than three years before being liberated.

In 1994, Maj. Gen. Shachnow told The Fayetteville Observer that the experience of the concentration camp left a deep mark on him. “After I finished that experience, I was very cynical about people,″ he said. “I didn’t trust people. I thought that there is a dark side to people. If you leave things to people, they’ll probably screw things up.″ The U.S. Army helped Maj. Gen. Shachnow regain his faith in his fellow man.

After moving to the United States, Maj. Gen. Shachnow began a new life with his family in Massachusetts, but dropped out of school to enlist in the Army, despite hardly being able to speak English.

He later attended Officer Candidate School as a sergeant first class and was commissioned in 1960 as an infantry officer, according to his military biography. He served with the 4th Armored Division until 1962, when he volunteered for Special Forces. Maj. Gen. Shachnow served with the 5th Special Forces Group and commanded the secretive “Detachment A,” a small team of Special Forces soldiers who operated in Berlin during the Cold War and prepared for possible war with the Soviet Union.

In 1990, Maj. Gen. Shachnow was the commander of all American forces in Berlin when the Berlin Wall was toppled, near the end of the Soviet Union. He told The Fayetteville Observer that the history of the moment was not lost on him. “Here it is the very capital of fascism and the Third Reich. The very buildings and streets where they were goose-stepping and heil-Hitlering and the very system that put me in the camp and killed many people,” he said. “Here we are 40 some-odd years later, and I come back to be commander of American forces in that city and a Jew on top of that… It sort of adds insult to injury, doesn’t it?″

While serving in infantry, airborne, airmobile and Special Forces units, Maj. Gen. Shachnow also earned degrees from the University of Nebraska and Shippensburg State College in Pennsylvania. And he received an honorary doctorate from the Harvard Executive Management Program.

Maj. Gen. Shachnow was inducted as a Distinguished Member of the Special Forces Regiment in 2007. During his military career, his awards and decorations included two Distinguished Service Medals, two Silver Stars, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, three Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts, among other honors. He also was honored with the U.S. Special Operations medal for outstanding contributions to the special operations community and is included on the honor roll in the Infantry Officers’ Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Following his retirement, Maj. Gen. Shachnow authored a best-selling autobiography, “Hope and Honor,” which was published in 2004.

The late Col. Aaron Bank, known as the “father of the Green Berets,” once called Maj. Gen. Shachnow a “determined, dedicated, dyed-in-the-wool Special Forces officer.”

And Bob Charest, a veteran of Detachment A who twice served under Maj. Gen. Shachnow, said the general would be remembered as one of the greatest leaders in Special Forces history. “He stood out throughout his career,” Charest said. “He is quite an icon among Special Forces troops.”

We honor you, Sidney Shachnow.

(Submission by: Miah Parry. #Repost @The Fayette Observer)

1LT John Earl Warren

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Warren joined the U.S. Army from New York City in 1967.

On January 14, 1969, as a first lieutenant, Warren was commanding a platoon in Tây Ninh Province, Vietnam when the unit came under attack. During the fight, Warren fell on an enemy-thrown grenade to shield others from the blast. The action cost him his life.

His official citation reads:

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant (Infantry) John Earl Warren, Jr. (ASN: 0-5347373), United States Army (Reserve), for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty at the cost of his life while serving as a platoon leader with Company C (Mechanized), 2d Battalion, 22d Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, in action against enemy aggressor forces at Tay Ninh Province, Republic of Vietnam, on 14 January 1969. While moving through a rubber plantation to reinforce another friendly unit, Company C came under intense fire from a well-fortified enemy force. Disregarding his safety, First Lieutenant Warren with several of his men began maneuvering through the hail of enemy fire toward the hostile positions. When he had come to within six feet of one of the enemy bunkers and was preparing to toss a hand grenade into it, an enemy grenade was suddenly thrown into the middle of his small group. Thinking only of his men, First Lieutenant Warren fell in the direction of the grenade, thus shielding those around him from the blast. His action, performed at the cost of his life, saved three men from serious or mortal injury. First Lieutenant Warren’s ultimate action of sacrifice to save the lives of his men was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.

We honor you, John Warren Jr.

(#Repost @Wikipedia)