Maj Kurt Chew-Een Lee

2018-2-24 Lee

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)

CDR Lyndon B. Johnson

2018-2-19 Johnson

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)

SGT Florence Fawley

2018-2-18 Fawley

Florence was born in Paterson, NJ. She was a pioneer for girls and women and made an incredible impact in many lives. She attended nursing school and worked for Curtiss-Wright Propellers prior to becoming the first woman from Paterson to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve and quickly moved up in rank to Sergeant. Florence became the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve recruiting posters model. She later became a NYC Conover Agency model and a Vargas girl. Florence was a leader in promoting women’s health and beauty. While raising her children as an Air Force wife, she was involved in a variety of community service organizations. She later was the office manager for Dr. K.S. Foltz, coached the all girls Buckeye Track Club, and was honored with numerous community service awards including the Westerville Sertoma “Service to Mankind” award. Florence had multiple USA national running records for Women Masters. She ran a marathon at age 61. Florence was inducted into the Ohio Veteran’s Hall of Fame. Most recently, she was honored by the naming of the Women’s Marine Association OH-3 Florence Jelsma Fawley Chapter, for the Columbus and Dayton area.

We honor you, Florence Fawley.

(#Repost @WomensMarines)

TEC 5 Richard Overton

2018-2-14 Overton

Richard Overton is a former American World War II vet who, at 111 years old, is the oldest war veteran and living man in the United States.

Born on May 11, 1906, Richard Overton is a World War II veteran who served in the U.S. Army. On May 3, 2016, he became the oldest living American war veteran after fellow World War II veteran Frank Levingston of Louisiana died. Overton became a supercentenarian on May 11, 2016.

Overton began his military career with the U.S. Army on September 3, 1940 at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He arrived at Pearl Harbor with his black segregated unit immediately after the bombing by the Japanese. Between 1940-1945, he toured the South Pacific — the last three of those years with the 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion — and achieved a technician fifth grade rank by the end of his military service.

After the war, Overton returned to Texas and established his life in Austin where he worked in a variety of furniture stores before finding employment at the Texas Department of the Treasury. He has been married twice, never had children and has outlived his closest relatives.

We honor you, Richard Overton.

(Submission by: Rob Prokop. #Repost @Biography.com)

CQM Raymond Barron Chavez

2018-2-13 Chavez

On December 7, 1941, Navy helmsman Raymond Barron Chavez was on duty aboard the USS Candor. The Candor was really nothing more than a San Diego-based fishing boat commandeered by the Navy to sweep for mines in Pearl Harbor.

“We used to sweep from midnight to 6 a.m. in the morning,” Chavez said.

It was about 3:45 a.m. when the crew made a startling discovery.

“We got a submarine here in protected water, not supposed to be here,” Chavez said.

They reported the Japanese sub sighting to the base, but nothing was done about it. The ship completed its rounds, and Raymond Chavez went back to his home adjacent to Hickman Field and told his wife he was going to bed.

“It seemed like five minutes after I fell asleep. She came over and told me, ‘Get up, get up, get up.’ I said, ‘What for?’ She said, ‘We’re being attacked,'” Chavez said.

Today, at age 99, the images are still vivid.

“Just then there was a Japanese torpedo plane flying right over our house. He was so low we could see who he was,” Chavez said.

Every year, he travels to Hawaii for the Pearly Harbor survivor memorial.

“Just to think about all the men who were lost and wounded, it just gets me every time I go over there,” he said. “It’s a good, good feeling to feel that you’ve helped just a tiny bit to win the war.”

We honor you, Raymond Chavez.

(#Repost @CBS8.com)

ENS George H. Gay

2018-2-12 Gay

As a 25-year-old Navy pilot, Mr. Gay flew a Douglas Devastator torpedo plane in an attack on Japanese warships near Midway Island on June 4, 1942.

All the planes in his squadron were shot down, and he was the only one of 30 men in Torpedo Squadron 8 to survive. Historians have credited the attack by his squadron as clearing the way for an attack by American dive bombers that eventually resulted in victory in the battle.

Wounded and wearing a life jacket, Mr. Gay watched the American dive bombers hurtle out of the clouds to attack Japanese aircraft carriers and found himself “cheering and hollering with every hit.”

After he was rescued by American forces, Mr. Gay made personal appearances for the Navy, spreading the news of the victory at Midway. That victory — achieved by an American fleet with only three heavy carriers against four heavy Japanese carriers and three light ones — was a turning point in the war in that theater.

Mr. Gay was a Trans World Airlines pilot for 30 years after the war. He also spoke to civic groups around the country, telling of his Midway experiences and calling for greater military preparedness.

In 1975, he was a consultant for the movie “Midway.” Kevin Dobson played his part. Mr. Gay toured the country with the film’s stars, Charlton Heston and Henry Fonda, to promote the film.

We honor you, George Gay.

(#Repost @The NY Times)

David W. Brown

2018-2-11 Brown

Enlisted Soldier David W. Brown was born on August 26, 1920 in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1943, four years after completing high school, and three days after he and his wife were married, Brown was drafted into the United States Army.

In 1944, Brown was deployed during World War II with the 490th Port Battalion, 226 Port Company European Theater, where he served as a technician 4th Grade. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Brown landed on the shores of Utah Beach alongside 23,000 other men as allied forces stormed the beaches at Normandy. The following year, while still serving in Europe, he would travel to England, France and Belgium. In December of 1945, Brown received an Honorable Discharge from the United States Army. Following the end of the War, he returned to the United States and was discharged from the military in a ceremony at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Brown then traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, where he attended Maplewood Refrigeration, a vocational school. After completing training there in 1948, Brown worked as a refrigeration engineer. He also attended the Carrier Corporation, another vocational institute in Syracuse, New York, where he received further schooling in AC engineering. Brown went on to work as a refrigeration and air conditioning engineer at Beaumont Medical and System Air. He then established his own firm, Brown Industrial Corporation.

Brown was the recipient of many awards and honors. In 2004, he was the featured veteran in Studs Terkel’s production The Good War, showcased in Skokie, Illinois. Then, in 2009, after contributing to the History Channel’s program A Distant Shore: African Americans of D-Day, Brown was awarded an Emmy plaque from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In 2010, during a ceremony in Northbrook, Illinois, he was awarded the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor medal, the highest decoration bestowed on those who have achieved remarkable deeds for France.

Brown passed away on June 13, 2015 at age 94.

We honor you, David W. Brown.

(#Repost @History Makers)