Capt Warren H. Berg

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In 1941, Warren graduated from Mankato State Teachers’ College (now Minnesota State University-Mankato) with a bachelor’s degree in education, intending to become a college professor. He completed a year of graduate work at the University of Minnesota, but World War II then dramatically altered his career plans. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps (now U.S. Air Force) and was called to active duty in November 1942. Warren graduated at the top of his Navigator Training School class at Mather Field in Sacramento, CA, in 1943 and was assigned to the Eighth Air Force, 96th Bomb Group, at Snetterton Heath, England. After 30 bombing missions over Europe, the crew of his B-17, The Reluctant Dragon, developed a reputation for being lucky. The 11 other crews that had reported for combat duty at the same time had been shot down. Warren and his crewmates signed up for a second tour, eventually leading as many as 1,000 B-17s and B-24s to German targets. But their luck ran out on mission No. 36 on Jan. 13, 1945. They were shot down over Bischofsheim, Germany. Six of 10 crew members bailed out at 24,000 feet and survived, but they were taken prisoner. On April 29, 1945, Gen. George Patton and his Third Army liberated Stalag 7A near Moosburg, and soon 1st Lieutenant Berg was headed home. He was promoted to Captain and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with six Oak-Leaf Clusters. The experiences of his B-17 crew are among those recounted in the book ‘D-Day Bombers: The Veterans’ Story’ by Stephen Darlow.

Later that year, Warren began a 38- year career with Trans World Airlines in Kansas City when he was hired as a navigation instructor. He and Genevieve, who he had known since high school, married on April 27, 1946, and spent almost all their married life in Kansas City, North. Warren retired in 1983 as Director of Flight Operations Ground Training for all TWA pilots and flight engineers. He also had supervised the safety training of flight attendants. His various administrative positions over the years necessitated considerable world travel. He served on the training committee of the International Air Transport Association, wrote numerous training manuals used in the airline industry and audited training procedures for Ethiopian and Saudi Arabian airlines. Upon his retirement, he was honored as a leader in airline training by the Boeing Aircraft Flight Crew Training Center and Delta, American and United Airlines.

We honor you, Warren Berg.

(#Repost @Together We Served)

SSG Joseph A. Chinick

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SSG Joseph A. Chinick died July 13, 1944 in Europe. Joe received the Bronze Star posthumously with no explanation as his effort had been classified as “Secret.” To date, his brother Harold has not been able to learn the reason for the Bronze Star Award.

We honor you, Joseph Chinick.

(#Repost @Pritzker Military Museum and Library)

ADM Edwin John Roland

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Edwin John Roland was born on 11 February 19O5, at Buffalo, NY. where he graduated from Canisius High School and attended Canisius College. Appointed a Cadet in 1926, he graduated from the U. S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering and with a commission of Ensign on 15 May 1929.

He served his earliest assignments as Gunnery Officer on board the destroyers USCGC SHAW (1929-30), and the USCGC WILKES (1930-31), which were part of the old Destroyer Force operated by the Coast Guard between l924 and 1934 in an all-out attempt to suppress smuggling. He won a commendation for being instrumental in capturing the gunnery trophy for both vessels.

In 1932 he was in charge of target observation and repair for the Destroyer Force Target Practice in the Gulf of Mexico and for Cutter Target Practice off Norfolk, VA. In September he was assigned as Navigator and Gunnery Officer on board the USCGC ESCANABA, based at Grand Haven, MI. Detached in l934, he spent the next four years at the Coast Guard Academy as an Instructor in Physics and Mathematics and an Assistant Coach for football, basketball, and baseball. During the summer cadet practice cruise of 1936 on board the USCGC CAYUGA, he participated in the evacuation of Spanish Civil War refugees.

During World War II he served as Chief, Enlisted Personnel Division at Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, DC from May 1942 to October 1943. He next served as Commander, Escort Division a unit of Task Force 60, which escorted convoys from the United States to Mediterranean ports. His, flagship was the Coast Guard-manned destroyer escort, USS VANCE (DE-387). For meritorious performance of that duty he was awarded the Navy Commendation Ribbon.

In December 1944 he became the first Commanding Officer of USCGC MACKINAW (WAGB-83), the first heavy duty U. S. icebreaker ever built. Especially designed for work in the Great Lakes, her homeport was at Cheboygan, MI. For meritorious service while commanding that ship, he received a Coast Guard Commendation Letter. The letter cited him for icebreaking on an unprecedented scale in the Great Lakes. This permitted tidewater Navy and Army vessels and merchant vessels to pass through the ice and deliver urgently needed supplies essential to the war effort.

After completing one year of student work at the National War College in June l955, he returned to Coast Guard Headquarters to serve in the Office of the Chief of Staff. On March 16, 1956, he was assigned as Deputy Chief of Staff of the Coast Guard. With his nomination by the President and with the approval of the Senate, he was advanced to the rank of Rear Admiral effective 1 July 1956. He was subsequently assigned as Commander, First Coast Guard District, Boston. On 1 July 1960 he assumed the dual post of Commander, Eastern Area and Commander, 3d Coast Guard District, New York. With the approval of the President and the Senate, he was appointed Assistant Commandant of the U. S. Coast Guard with rank of Vice Admiral effective from 12 February 1962. He assumed the duties of that office at Headquarters on 1 February.

On 23 April 1962 he was appointed Commandant of the U. S. Coast Guard with rank of Admiral. He succeeded the retiring Admiral Alfred C. Richmond on 1 June 1962. He was relieved by Admiral Willard J. Smith and retired from the USCG on 1 June 1966 with various awards.

On July 9, 1963, ADM Roland received the Legion of Merit from the Secretary of the Treasury C. Douglas Dillon in recognition of his outstanding record in maintaining a military readiness posture “unparalleled in the peacetime history of the Coast Guard.” On 21 January 1966 ADM Roland received the Distinguished Service Medal for the service’s swift response to the Navy’s request for patrol craft to assist in coastal surveillance in South Vietnam. His also skillfully guided the handling of the Cuban Exodus operations in the Straits of Florida in 1965. ADM Roland also went to Saigon during the summer of 1965 to confer with the Naval Coastal Surveillance Forces shortly after the arrival of the 82-foot cutters in South Vietnam. Based at Danang these 82-footers constituted Coast Guard Squadron One.

It was during ADM Roland’s administration that the Coast Guard’s long sought program for modernization of its fleet with medium and high endurance cutters got underway with the launching and christening of the first major cutter built since World War II. Mrs. Roland sponsored this first vessel, the 210-ft. Medium Endurance Cutter RELIANCE (WMEC-615) at Todd Shipyards, Houston, Texas, on May 11, 1963.

ADM Roland received The American Legion Distinguished Service Medal from the Robert L. Hague Merchant Marine Industries Post No. 12142, Department of New York, on 6 November 1965. He was cited for outstanding contributions to the American Merchant Marine and Safety of Life at Sea while chairing the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Subcommittee of the Shipping Coordinating Committee. He also received recognition for being the U. S. Delegate to the Maritime Safety Committee of the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) and for encouraging the inauguration and expansion of the Automated Merchant Vessel Report (ANVER ) System to both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

We honor you, Edwin Roland.

(#Repost @The Patriot Files)

 

Ship’s Master William S. Chambers

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William Chambers was en route to Hawaii on a cargo ship on December 7, 1941, when his captain announced news of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Chambers had been in effect training for war for two years. At 18, he entered the Pennsylvania State Nautical School in October 1939, shortly after WWII broke out in Europe, and the school had its students learn the ropes on different vessels of the U.S. Navy. During the war, Chambers made many dangerous voyages, none worse than a 1942 trip to the Soviet Union on which he lost three ships to torpedoes or mines. At war’s end, he was still at sea, carrying supplies for the invasion of Japan which were never needed.

We honor you, William Chambers.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)

PVT George Watson

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George Watson was born in 1915 Birmingham, Alabama. Apart from his birth, little is known about his early life. He attended school in Colorado and graduated in 1942. Like many men that year, Watson then accepted the call to arms in defense of his nation.

As an African-American, the career opportunities in the Army were extremely limited. Consequently, Watson joined the 29th Quartermaster Regiment after basic training. With the war in full swing, Watson’s unit was immediately transported to the Pacific on board the American controlled Dutch Steamer USAT Jacob. They arrived on March 8, 1943.

As Watson and his unit waited to disembark the Japanese attacked the Jacob while she was moored near Porlock Harbor, New Guinea. With little defense against the devastating assault, the Jacob took several direct hits and the order to abandon ship was issued. Troops threw themselves into the sea, many of whom had been severely wounded. Fortunately, Watson had avoided injury and being a competent swimmer was able to head towards the few life rafts that were available. As he did so, he looked back to see many of his comrades were not so lucky.

The wounded soldiers and those who could not swim flailed about in the sea in need of help. Watson turned from the rafts and headed towards the men. The Japanese continued to rake the sea with gunfire making it all the riskier. Time and time again he swam back to rescue troops and bring them to safety. Watson continued saving his comrades until he reached the point of exhaustion. As he swam towards the steamer once more, she slipped beneath the waves. The subsequent drag proved too strong for the exhausted Watson to escape and he was sucked to the bottom with her.

As news of his gallantry spread, it was evident to the Army that a heroic and distinguished act had taken place. However, for African-Americans of that era, the Medal of Honor was too far out of reach despite the inexplicable gallantry they consistently displayed. Watson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and was the first African-American to receive that award during WWII.

However, as the decades passed the US military realized such men had been overlooked. They instituted a review in the early 1990’s to determine those that might have been excluded due to race. In 1997, George Watson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. With no family to receive Watson’s medals, they are on display at the US Army Quartermaster Museum in Fort Lee, Virginia. Also, the ship USNS Watson was named in his honor.

We honor you, George Watson.

(Submission by: GP Cox. #Repost @Pacific Paratrooper)

Maj Corbin B. Willis Jr.

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Corbin grew up in Colorado and with his best friend and sister Betty they had many fun adventures. He graduated from high school and enlisted in the Army Air Corp. He was trained as a fighter pilot and then transferred to the Air Force as a B-17 pilot when the need arose. During WWII while on his 22nd bombing mission over Germany they were shot down and he became a POW. He was liberated at the end of the war, served in the Korean war and in the military until he retired as a Major after 20 years.

He married the love of his life Margaret (Peggy) Taylor in 1949. They traveled all over the world while he served in the military. They are the parents of four children. After military retirement they settled in Alameda, California to raise their family. Corbin worked as the purchasing agent for Alameda Hospital until he retired from that position and they moved to Sandy, Oregon. Together they enjoyed traveling, playing bridge, and reading. Corbin had an continuous thirst for knowledge. He could not go within 200 miles of a museum or a point of interest without taking a detour to see it. He was an accomplished painter and spent many years teaching in schools about the war and his POW experience.

We honor you, Corbin Willis, Jr.

(#Repost @Myers Mortuary)

SGT Joseph Edward Brown

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Drafted by the Army twice, Joseph Brown had two widely disparate experiences in the military. He graduated from high school in June 1945 and went into the Army during the final days of World War II, suffering degrading conditions at a Texas base where he and other blacks were subject to inferior accommodations. In 1950, he was called to serve again in Korea, but this time, he was assigned to an elite unit and attended leadership school. Because Brown had been a pre-med student in college, he was asked to supervise a medical unit; he even had some white soldiers under his command with the 74th Engineer Combat Battalion, Medical Detachment. In only five years, the Army had changed, moving, in Brown’s view, more quickly to integrate its ranks than the civilian world. “During the Korean War, the black soldier began to be accepted on an equal basis as a combat soldier.”

We honor you, Joseph Brown.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)