General George Patton

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Born November 11, 1885, in San Gabriel, California, as a young boy, George Patton set his sights on becoming a war hero. During his childhood, he heard countless stories of his ancestors’ victories in the American Revolution and Civil War. Striving to follow in their footsteps, he enrolled in Virginia Military Institute in 1904.  A year later, he attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating on June 11, 1909. In 1910 he married Beatrice Ayer, a childhood friend.    In 1912 Patton competed in the Pentathlon at the Stockholm Olympics. He did well in the fencing portion and placed fifth overall. In 1913 he was ordered to the post of Master of the Sword at the Mounted Service School in Kansas, where he taught swordsmanship while also attending as a student. Despite his grace with a sword, Patton had a reputation for being an accident prone young man. Some even speculate that his explosive temper and incessant cursing were the result of a skull injury in his 20s.

Patton had his first real taste of battle in 1915, when leading cavalry patrols against Pancho Villa at Fort Bliss along the Mexican border. In 1916 he was selected to aide John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in Mexico. In Mexico, Patton impressed Pershing by personally shooting Mexican leader Julio Cardenas during the Battle of Columbus. Pershing promoted Patton to captain and invited him to lead Pershing’s Headquarters Troop once they left Mexico.

In 1917, during WWI, Patton was the first officer assigned to the new American Expeditionary Force tank corps. Tanks had proven effective in France at the Battle of Cambrai. Patton studied this battle and established himself as one of the leading experts in tank warfare. He organized the American tank school in Bourg, France, and trained American tankers to pilot the French Renault tanks. Patton’s first battle was at St. Mihiel, in September 1918. He was later wounded in the battle of Meuse-Argonne and later earned the Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership of the tank brigade and establishing the tank school.

It was during WWII that Patton hit the high point of his military career. In 1943 he used daring assault and defense tactics to lead the 7th U.S. army to victory at the invasion of Sicily. On D-Day in 1944, when the allies invaded Normandy, President Roosevelt granted Patton command of the 3rd U.S. Army. Under Patton’s leadership, the 3rd Army swept across France, capturing town after town. “Keep on advancing… whether we go over, under, or through the enemy,” Patton told his troops. Nicknamed “Old Blood and Guts” due to his ruthless drive and apparent lust for battle, he wrote home to his wife, “When I’m not attacking, I get bilious.”

In 1945, Patton and his army managed to cross the Rhine and charge straight into the heart of Germany, capturing 10,000 square miles of enemy territory along the course of the 10-day march, and liberating Germany from the Nazi’s in the process.

In December of 1945, General George S. Patton broke his neck in a car crash near Mannheim, Germany. He died at the hospital in Heidelberg 12 days after, on December 21, 1945. In 1947, his memoir, War as I Knew It, was published posthumously.

In 1970 the film Patton explored Patton’s complex character, which ran the gamut from seemingly ruthless to surprisingly sentimental. The film garnered seven Academy Awards. To this day, Patton is considered one of the most successful field commanders in U.S history.

We honor you, George Patton.

(#Repost @https://www.biography.com/people/george-patton-9434904)

BG Benjamin O. Davis Sr.

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On Oct. 25, 1940, Benjamin O. Davis Sr. became the first African American to hold star rank in the U.S. Army and in the armed forces. He was promoted to brigadier general, temporary — a situation with which he was all too familiar, as his promotions to major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel had all originally been “temporary.” Such was the situation for black officers in Davis’s day — all two or three of them.

Fortunately for today’s 10,000-plus African-American Army officers, Davis was a patient man. Born in Washington in 1877, he first entered the military as a temporary first lieutenant on July 13, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Mustered out in 1899, he enlisted as a private just six months later. Within two years, he had been commissioned a second lieutenant of cavalry in the regular Army.

Davis’s service as an officer with the famed “Buffalo Soldiers” regiment in the Philippines and on the Mexican border was exemplary, yet his subsequent assignments as a college ROTC instructor and as a National Guard advisor were far from the front lines. All of his postings, including duty as the military attache to Liberia, were designed to avoid putting Davis in command of white troops or officers.

Because these were not high profile jobs, Davis rose slowly through the ranks, earning his colonel’s eagle only in 1930. In 1938, he received his first independent command, the 369th National Guard Infantry Regiment. When Davis was promoted to brigadier, some saw it as a political action from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

However, as advisor on race relations in the European theater during World War II, Davis, as his Distinguished Service Medal citation relates, showed “initiative, intelligence and sympathetic understanding” while conducting investigations, bringing about “a fair and equitable solution to … problems which have since become the basis of far-reaching War Department policy.”

Davis’s slow, steady, and determined rise in the Army paved the way for countless minority men and women — including his son Benjamin O. Davis Jr., a West Point graduate who in 1954 became only the second African-American general in the U.S. military and the first in the Air Force.

We honor you, Benjamin Davis Sr.

(#Repost @Military.com)

Leon Johnson Wimer

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Leon Johnson Wimer’s parents, William C. Wimer and Mary Jane Hedrick Wimer, were married on May 5, 1893, in Pendleton County, West Virginia. Leon was born on January 30, 1895, at Ruddle in Pendleton County. Leon had a younger sister, Bettie Catherine, who married William Edward Mullenax.

During the Civil War, Andrew Joseph Wimer, Leon’s grandfather, had served as a private in Company C of the 14th Virginia Cavalry in the Confederate Army.

Following the sinking of American merchant ships by German submarines, the United States declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917. When the call for volunteers failed to produce the needed one million troops to support the war effort, the Selective Service instituted the draft with the first registration on June 5, 1917, for all men between the ages of 21 and 31.

On that day Leon registered for the draft at Franklin in Pendleton County. He was single and working as a teamster for I.N. Liller at Moorefield, West Virginia. His draft registration describes him as tall and of medium build, with dark brown eyes and black hair. No exemptions or disabilities were claimed.

The third registration for the draft started on September 12, 1918, for men ages 18 through 45. Leon’s half-brother, Ira Clem Hedrick, who was 33 years of age, registered on that date at Petersburg in Grant County, West Virginia. World War I draft registration cards provide a great deal of demographic information, and Ira’s states that he was married and working as a carpenter in Petersburg. He is described as tall and slender and having blue eyes and red hair.

During World War I, H.M. Calhoun of Pendleton County corresponded with many young soldiers from the county to inquire about their daily lives in the military. Leon Wimer’s letter to Mr. Calhoun gives a first-hand account of the early days following his enlistment in the Army on August 6, 1917. While Mr. Calhoun apparently gave the recruits self-addressed postcards so they might inform him of their arrival at their training camps, Leon took the opportunity to write a detailed story of his unit’s movements throughout the training process. His tone is light and familiar and somewhat scholarly, with a touch of humor.

From a Pendleton County boy
Ft. Sill, Okla, Oct. 26, 1917

Mr. H.M. Calhoun
Franklin, WV

My dear Sir:

Am in receipt of your letter of the 11th inst, and in reply to your request for information about my personal history and movements since joining the army, I present the following data.

I enlisted in the Quartermaster Corps of the Army on Aug. 6, of this year, taking out my first papers at Cumberland, Md. From there I was sent to Baltimore, and then to Columbus Barracks, Columbus, Ohio. At this last place I underwent the strenuous physical examination required of all applicants, all of which I passed successfully, and came out a fullfledged recruit of Uncle Sam’s big family of warriors.

My training began immediately after being sworn in. The army cot with one blanket was introduced to me and has proved a fast friend up to this date. “Mess” was the most popular call that was sounded, the response coming from every man. This incident occurs three [times] daily in army life – “beans and coffee, for breakfast, coffee and beans for dinner and for supper we have a change – beans and coffee,” Of course this is somewhat exaggerated; the mess as a rule being somewhat homelike with good variety and excellent quality of both victuals and preparation.

During my month’s stay at Columbus Barracks we were taken out every day by previously trained officers and given three hours drill and calisthentics. We soon learned to Right face!; to the rear march!; hands on hips, place! and about forty-eleven other peculiar exclamatory demands.

Of course we had to do a little other muscular exercise besides march around the parade ground but we never mind this because such duties are given very pleasant titles. We never say “work” in the army, but fatigue is the word. Kitchen Police doesn’t sound much like peeling potatoes, scrubbing tables and floors in the mess hall [but] that is what it means.

Reveile sounds every morning at 545 and we have to pile out without much time to stretch or think about our nice dreams of the night, in order to get breakfast mess at 600. Retreat sounds at 6 P.M. We have to be on hand to answer roll call and listen to the strains of the Star Spangled Banner from the company band should we be fortunate enough to possess one. “Tatoo Call” at 915 or 930 at night blows all lights out. “Taps” means for every one to be in his bunk and preparing for tomorrow’s duties.

On the 26th of August we were loaded aboard a south bound train – seven car loads of us anxious to see the country. We had a pleasant trip which landed us at San Antonio, Texas. We were taken to the Q.M. Detachment quarters at Ft. Sam Houston and for two or three days were given plenty of drill and fatigue to keep any ordinary person busy. There were hundreds of recruits coming in every day or two from the different recruiting districts all over the U.S., so we did not stay there long but were loaded into trucks and were hauled about twenty five miles north west of “Sanantone” into the jungles and cactus of Texas, to another army camp called Leon Springs. Besides our Q.M. Detachment there was a school of twenty two hundred officers-in-training, a camp of engineers, several batteries of artillery, troops of cavalry and one regiment of infantry, the 57th.

We spent exactly one month at this place, Leon Springs, before we were given orders to move on. Our trip to Ft. Sill, Okloma was a very pleasant one, a day of which being spent by taking in Ft. Worth, Texas. Upon landing at Ft. Sill we found the weather somewhat cooler, and talk about wind, it blows to beat the band all the time. At present I am located at the Auxiliary Remount Depot, it being a part of Camp Doniphan. Here we have charge of large number of recruit mules and horses.

An aviation camp is near us on the south and the purr of the big war-birds is so common now that we seldom notice the machines at all.

Taking all-in all I am quite satisfied with army life but will be glad when my services will no longer be needed and I can get back to civilian life and friends once more.

Thanking you for the interest you are taking in us fellows who are fighting for Uncle Sam and wishing you success in this undertaking as well as all others, I beg to remain.

Respectfully yours,
Leon J. Wimer

Aux. Rem’t Depot
Camp Doniphan
Ft. Sill
Okla

P.S. I would appreciate a publication of this thru the “Pendleton Times”, just to let my friends know of the life we are leading in the army. L.J.W.

While stationed at Camp Doniphan, Leon contracted measles, which led to pneumonia and took his life on January 31, 1918. The U.S. Army Medical Department, Office of Medical History, explains the high incidence of measles during the war in the following manner:

During peace times when troops are in garrison, measles is a disease which gives relatively little concern to the medical department of an army; most troops, under such circumstances, having had some years of service, either have had the disease and thus developed an immunity to it, or, having been exposed, have escaped the disease by reason of the fact that they already possessed an immunity. Therefore, during peace times, measles usually has been limited, in so far as serious outbreaks in the Army are concerned, to recruit depots. On the other hand, when the Army has been greatly expanded, as in mobilization for war, the incidence of measles greatly increased. Thus measles has played a very important part during the various wars in which the United States Army has participated. (Source: Communicable Diseases, Chapter XII, “Measles: Statistical Considerations Prior to the World War,” (http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/wwi/communicablediseases/chapter12.html, accessed 7 Dec. 2015.)

We honor you, Leon Wimer.

(#Repost @http://www.wvculture.org)

LT Lane Schofield Anderson

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Lane Schofield Anderson was born February 14, 1896 in Richmond, Virginia to Justin K. and Fannie Anderson. He attended schools in Mercer, Mingo and Kanawha counties in West Virginia.

He graduated from Charleston High School in 1916. He excelled in track, becoming the first West Virginian to run the 100 yard dash in 10 seconds. He was a student at West Virginia University for a short time before entering Camp Benjamin Harrison for Officers Training, later being commissioned a Second Lieutenant. He married Julia L. de Gruyter on February 13, 1918. They had one child.

Lieutenant Anderson went overseas as a member of Company G, 26th Infantry, 27th Division. While in France he served under British Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig. This company took part in the Battle of Argonne and broke through the Hindenburg Line.

The testimony of men who served with Lieutenant Lane Anderson attests to his bravery in battle after taking command when the leader of his platoon was killed. Under heavy enemy fire, Anderson left his safe position to lead his men to their objective and was wounded. Various accounts were given to his family as to the exact manner of his death. By some accounts he died shortly after, but other reports state he was captured and died in a German prison. His official date of death is September 7, 1918.

In a sworn deposition given March 5, 1919, Sergeant Harry S. Lynk, a comrade of Lane Anderson stated that during the initial stages of their attack on the Hindenburg line, two platoons of Company G lost contact. In order to regain contact, Lieutenant Lane Anderson, braving heavy enemy fire, did reconnaissance in an effort to locate the men of the platoons of Company G. It was discovered that they had enough men to hold their front line position. Captain Hardy, who had been in command, was killed and full command fell to Lieutenant Anderson.

Enemy forces were on both flanks and Anderson made the decision that the position should be “put out of action” in order to spare the remaining men. Sergeant Lynk stated that it was “sure death to show yourself” and related how Anderson “jumped up on the top Himself” while firing a rifle and “loaded down with bombs” in an effort to lead his men to a safer position. At this time, Lane Anderson was wounded by machine gun bullets. “For this and other acts of bravery,” said Sergeant Lynk, “I Know Lt. Anderson should receive the highest decoration that could be awarded by any government.” Sergeant Lynk, who himself had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in the same battle, believed Lieutenant Lane Anderson more worthy of recognition than himself.

Lane Schofield Anderson was buried in Somme American Cemetery in Bony, France. For his bravery, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously. The award was presented to his widow, Julia L. Anderson. A VFW post was later named for him.

We honor you, Lane Schofield Anderson.

(#Repost @wvculture.org)

CPL Frank W. Buckles

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Born in a Missouri farmhouse in 1901, Buckles lied about his age to enlist in the Army at 16. “I was interested in the war,” he explained during a 2001 interview with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project. “I’d been reading the newspapers since I was a child, and I was a wireless amateur.” In December 1917 he set sail for England on the Carpathia, meeting crewmembers who had been aboard when the ship rescued survivors of the Titanic less than six years earlier.

Eager to see action, Buckles persuaded his superiors to send him to France. “I used several methods, including, I should say, pestering every officer of influence in the place,” he recalled. He was stationed in Bordeaux and various other locations, where he drove ambulances and motorcycles but never served on the front lines. After the armistice, he assisted with the repatriation of German prisoners of war, then returned to America and eventually got a job with the White Star Line steamship company.

Buckles’ shipping career satisfied his thirst for adventure and even embroiled him in the century’s second major global conflict. In December 1941, he was working in Manila when Japanese troops invaded the city and took him prisoner. He was held in several brutal internment camps and lost more than 50 pounds before being freed by an American airborne unit in February 1945. Suffering from beriberi and dengue fever, he decided to seek a quieter existence back home in the United States, where he married, had a daughter and later ran a cattle farm in West Virginia, where he lived until his death. His wife, Audrey, died in 1999.

Buckles became the country’s last surviving World War I veteran following the death in February 2008 of 108-year-old Harry Landis. Over the next few years, he received a flood of honors and awards, including special permission to be buried at Arlington National Ceremony. He also served as the honorary chairman and spokesman for the World War I Memorial Foundation, which supports the restoration of the District of Columbia War Memorial and its rededication as a national monument to veterans of the Great War.

We honor you, Frank Buckles.

(#Repost @History)

COL Alexander Standish

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At the not-so-tender age of 42, businessman Alexander Standish joined the war effort, recruited by the Army Air Corps to interview pilots just returned from missions for intelligence information. He was old enough to be the father of many GIs he served with, but his experience and poise proved invaluable in intelligence work. After an uneventful stint in New York City on anti-submarine command, Standish was assigned to London, where D-Day preparations were underway. Nearby, in Bletchley Park, British intelligence was cracking the Enigma code used by the Germans. Standish followed General Omar Bradley across Europe, relaying to him the latest inside information. He worked with Generals Eisenhower and Bradley in planning the D-Day invasion and subsequent strategy for taking back Europe from the Nazis. British intelligence was able to decode German messages, whose contents were often passed directly to Standish to relay to Bradley. “[Eisenhower] said, ‘My job is to stage this invasion, as you know. Your job is to keep me informed.'”

We honor you, Alexander Standish.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)

 

Col Edward “Eddie” Rickenbacker

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Eddie Rickenbacker was a WWI world-famous pilot and war hero. He also drove a race car and was very skilled. During WWII, “Eddie was off in a B-17 bomber plane” and had planned to go to Hawaii with his crew: Hans Adamson, Bill Cherry, Jim Whittaker, John Deangelis, James Reynolds, Alex Kaczmarczyk, and Johnny Bartek. While flying, the B-17 went down and crashed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They immediately got in the rafts and rowed away. On the way, they found out no one had grabbed the food. After weeks without food (except for 4 oranges) they made a fishing pole and after two times, they caught a big fish and gladly ate. They were planning to go to Fiji.

A few days later Alex died mumbling in his sleep after drinking too much sea water. A few days later, they caught sound of a plane. “then out of the blue sky came an American rescue plane looking for them.” After two days they were sighted but it was not known how to get them out of the water. But then the plane came down and took one of the crew into the plane. The next day they made it to an island and were welcomed by people on America’s side. They were soon taken to a hospital in Hawaii.

We honor you, Edward Rickenbacker.

(Submission written by: Adin Parry, 9 years old. Source: Lost in the Pacific, 1942 by Tod Olson)