Muriel Kupersmith

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Muriel Kupersmith was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her first memories are of sitting on her father’s lap while he played songs on his mandolin. As a teenager, she had the job of air raid warden turning street lights off at dawn if a siren went off. This was done with a special key and she never remembers being afraid of walking around the city in the early morning. Later in life, she wanted to join the U.S. Marines because both her fiancé and future brother-in-law were Marines, but she was too young. So when she turned 20 Muriel went to enlist, but she was underweight, only 89 pounds! She was told to eat bananas and drink milkshakes, but her mother had a better idea. Taking a cup full of pennies, tying them in a handkerchief and wearing them discreetly, Muriel now at “98” pounds was able to enlist! The physical aspect of boot camp at Camp Lejeune was not difficult for her. Muriel didn’t mind the hot weather and was good at all the obstacle courses. However, when it came to performing indoor duties like making the bed, she did not do well. And when she had mess duty, the pot Muriel had to clean was bigger than her! After boot camp, Muriel was stationed at the all-female Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia. One of the women she met was a future actress named Bea Arthur. It was very strict at Henderson Hall and if any male was coming in, an announcement would be made on the intercom. Muriel’s job was to notify the family of deceased Marines. She had to go through their personal effects and pull out anything that would upset the family. One day, she got word that her fiancé, Bud, had been wounded at Okinawa and would be coming home. A few days later, Muriel was told to go and see the Colonel. Everyone was quiet around her as she walked to the office. Rather than hearing the good news about Bud, she was told that he had been killed on the hospital ship. Greatly saddened, Muriel was granted leave to go home. But after a few days, she was back to work for, what she felt, was a very good cause. A short time later she would also hear that her brother-in-law was killed at Iwo Jima.

One benefit that Muriel and her friends had was the ability to use free hops on planes to go to various places. Once they went to Florida for a weekend. Muriel ended up getting sunburned and on the way back home the plane experienced turbulent weather. It was so bad everyone had to wear the very heavy life preservers. After a rough landing and a visit from the ambulance staff to make sure everyone was alright, Muriel and friends were able to make it back to the barracks with a half hour to spare. On inspection the next day, she was asked by the Lieutenant where she got the sunburn and Muriel said “at the St. George’s hotel pool in Brooklyn.” At that point, Muriel swore off taking the hops…until the following weekend, when she got a chance to go to Chicago. Even though they had no money, the girls, wearing their Marine Corps uniforms, got to ride the L train to Wrigley Field and see a Cubs game all for free.

After the war, Muriel was getting ready to get discharged. She was given money to buy civilian clothes and found a great unknown store called “Copycat.” Some of the other women asked her where she got her outfits and Muriel said “Copycat.” “No, no,” one replied “We don’t want to copycat your outfits, just tell us where you got them.” “Copycat” Muriel replied. “Really we won’t buy the same outfits!” another exclaimed. Muriel laughed and explained about the name of the store. Now a civilian, and a few years later, the Marines wanted her back. But she was married now and not eligible to return to duty. Muriel worked in a bank in Brooklyn and she and her husband raised a son and a daughter. She likes to tell the story of her son’s birth. While waking up after the very difficult delivery of over five days, Muriel heard the Marine Corps song being played. Is it any wonder that her son became a Marine who would serve for 26 years?

We honor you, Muriel Kupersmith.

(#Repost @AFRH.gov)

2LT Robert “Bob” Dole

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There is no doubt that Senator Bob Dole will always be known for his service to his country; however, most only consider the work he has done through various levels of Government, not realizing that Senator Dole also served in the U.S. Army during WWII, fighting in Italy with the 10th Mountain Division, where he was severely wounded by the Germans.

Senator Bob Dole’s lifetime of public service began with his enlistment in the United States Army during World War II. He was born in Russell, Kansas, on July 22nd, 1923. He graduated from Russell High School in 1941, and enrolled into the University of Kansas to pursue an undergraduate career on the pre-medical path. His university studies, however, were interrupted by his military service during WWII.

After training for nearly ninety days at from Fort Benning, Senator Dole left for Europe from Fort Meade in Maryland. Dole served mostly in Italy as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 10th Mountain Division. Senator Dole served under a group of experienced superiors, and cites in his oral history interview that it was these friendships formed during his service which helped build trust and alleviate intimidation. One individual specifically mentioned is Frank Carafa who rescued Senator Dole from danger after he was hit by a German.  Senator Dole also recalls being marked with an “M” on his forehead— with his own blood—by a fellow GI to signify to the medics who later found him that he had already received one dose of morphine. Senator Dole was shot in the shoulder, suffered from spinal cord bruising, and lost a kidney. He was hospitalized for over a year, and during this time met future Senators Dan Inouye and Phil Hart.

In his interview, Senator Dole describes Eisenhower as a hero and comments on mourning the loss of President Franklin Roosevelt from overseas. Senator Dole served in the Army from 1942 until 1948, receiving the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service, in addition to the American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the WWII Victory Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB). Senator Dole recounts his WWII experience in this oral history interview, but also goes into much more detail in his 2005 autobiography One Soldier’s Story: A Memoir.

After ending his military career, Senator Dole began his public service as a legislator. He ran and was elected first to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1950. This began a long career in governmental work, including service in the United States House of Representatives from 1961-1969, as well as the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1996, where he was both the Senate minority and majority leader. Dole also ran for Vice President with President Gerald Ford in 1976 and for President in 1980, 1988, and 1996.

In addition to his military honors, Senator Dole is a highly decorated citizen. In 1989, he received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Ronald Reagan, the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton, and numerous other honors.

We honor you, Robert Dole.

(#Repost @Pritzker Military Museum & Library)

1LT Geraldine Lillian Edwards Boock

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Geraldine “Gerry” Boock graduated from nursing school in 1944, and she and several of her classmates decided to join the war effort. One of her friends volunteered the two of them for overseas duty, and after six weeks at sea, she landed in Calcutta, where she worked with patients wounded or taken ill in the China-Burma-India Theater. She wasn’t immune to an occasional bout of dysentery; she also encountered a shifty snake charmer, and, on a moonlight visit to the Taj Mahal, an amorous British soldier. After the war ended, she stayed on in India until spring 1946 and in the Army until December of that year. Her last assignment was in a California hospital obstetrics ward, as different an experience as possible from her sojourn in India.

We honor you, Geraldine Boock.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)

LT John Williams Finn

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The December 7, 1941, Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor lasted about 90 minutes, killing 2,333 American military personnel and wounding 1,139 others.

The initial targets were U.S. airfields, to prevent a U.S. counter-attack by air.  The first Medal of Honor awarded in World War II went to a sailor who defended one of those airfields.  His name was John William Finn.

Born on July 24, 1909 in Los Angeles, California, Finn was a then-32-year-old chief petty officer in charge of guns and bombs for the planes at Naval Air Station Keneohe Bay. Once he learned of the attack he raced from his home and wife to the base.

Finn’s Medal of Honor citation states: “During the first attack by Japanese airplanes he promptly secured and manned a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machine gun strafing fire.

“Although painfully wounded many times, (shot in foot and shoulder) he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy’s fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety.”

Finn had to be ordered to go for medical treatment and his wounds kept him in the hospital until Dec. 24.

Admiral Chester Nimitz presented Finn with the first World War II Medal of Honor 75 years ago on Sept. 14, 1942.

Finn served in the Navy from 1926 to 1956 and retired as a lieutenant. He lived to the age of 100 before he died in Chula Vista in 2010.

We honor you, John Finn.

(#Repost @The OC Register)

Al Vise

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Al Vise was born in Knoxville, Tennessee on April 29, 1919. He met his wife, Etta, in Ireland while serving in the U.S. Army. While serving in the Army during WWII, he went to Africa, Italy, England, Belgium, Holland, Ireland, and France. While Al was in England, he prepared to invade France. He landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day at 5:00pm. In Belgium, Al liberated those in concentration camps. Al recalled when General Patton delivered his “Miracle Prayer” in Germany and it was then that Al felt that “God was on his side.” After the war, Al moved to Bountiful, Utah. Later, he met up with his wife in New York and they had four children.

On November 14, 2017, I had the honor of interviewing Al Vise. In his own words, these are his recollections of D-Day: (FYI – “During World War II (1939-1945), the Battle of Normandy, which lasted from June 1944 to August 1944, resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the battle began on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day, when some 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region. The invasion was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history and required extensive planning. Prior to D-Day, the Allies conducted a large-scale deception campaign designed to mislead the Germans about the intended invasion target. By late August 1944, all of northern France had been liberated, and by the following spring the Allies had defeated the Germans. The Normandy landings have been called the beginning of the end of war in Europe.” (History Channel, www.history.com)

“Thank you for inviting me here to share a couple of my memories of June 6, 1944, D-Day. At that time, I was a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army, 7th Field Artillery, First Division, known as the BIG RED ONE. Our earlier fighting had included chasing Rommel (Erwin Rommel (15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944) was a German general and military theorist. Popularly known as the Desert Fox, he served as field marshal in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II, Wikipedia) across Northern Africa, and a 37-day campaign in Sicily.”

“We prepared for invasion at Lyme Regis, England. We boarded our ships and transferred to the LST’s at sea, heading to Omaha Beach. We landed about five in the afternoon.”

“The beach was filled with live fire from missiles fired from miles away. I jumped off the LST with my rifle and pack into chest-high water. I think we stayed wet for several days from the ocean water and the rain.”

“We secured a beach head to prepare for the landing of troops, tanks, and trucks following us. We then pushed past the beach and through the hedge rows toward the town of St. Lo.”

“St. Lo became our base to prepare for the big Break Out towards Berlin. We set up the town to handle the huge number of tanks, trucks and tons of material that would be needed for us in the coming weeks.”

“In the Big Break Out from Normandy to Berlin, we liberated Liege, Bastogne and many smaller towns. We crossed the fortified Siegfried Line twice and won the Battle of the Bulge. This broke the back of the Nazis.”

“My strongest memories of that day were these:

Number 1: We must get off the beach or we will be killed.
Number 2: I must get my troops to St. Lo.
Number 3: I must protect my troops, and those to follow.
Number 4: The hedge rows were beautiful but deadly. They were perfect hiding places for the Nazis.
Number 5: We threw grenades inside of the bunkers to kill the Nazi soldiers firing the cannons”

“Our motto always played in my head:

First in War
First in Peace
No mission to difficult
No sacrifice to great
Nothing this side of Hell
Shall stop the First Division
THE BIG RED ONE”

We honor you, Al Vise.

(Submission written by: Ninzel Rasmuson)

Bea Arthur

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Best known for her roles on the popular television shows “Maude” and “The Golden Girls,” the late Bea Arthur was also once a truck driver in the Marine Corps. She was one of the first members of the Women’s Reserve and aside from driving military trucks, she was also a typist. Arthur enlisted at the age of 21 in early 1943 under her original name, Bernice Frankel. Appraisals from her her enlistment interviews described her conversation as “argumentative” and her attitude and manner as “over aggressive” — fitting, given the cantankerous characters she would play later in life. In a handwritten note, the Marine interviewer remarked, “Officious–but probably a good worker — if she has her own way!”

Arthur was stationed at Marine Corps and Navy air stations in Virginia and North Carolina during her career, and was promoted from corporal to sergeant to staff sergeant. She was honorably discharged in September 1945, married a fellow Marine (Private Robert Aurthur) shortly afterwards, and changed her name to Bea Arthur before enrolling in the Dramatic Workshop of the New School in New York in 1947. After a successful Broadway career that included a Tony award, Arthur made a splash as “Cousin Maude” in the classic TV series “All in the Family” in the early ’70s, and went on to star in her own sit-com, and cement her celebrity fame in the long-running “Golden Girls.”

We honor you, Bea Arthur.

(#Repost @Military.com)

William “Bill” Mauldin

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William Mauldin (1921-1993) had seen war. As such, he knew how to portray soldiers. Serving as an infantryman, Mauldin traveled with the U.S. Army as it advanced through fascist occupied Europe during the Second World War. As a cartoonist for Stars and Stripes, Mauldin created a series of comics that were quickly adopted by the American soldier and public alike. Willie and Joe, his two stoic yet weary GIs, faced the grim realities of war that thousands of Americans were confronting across the continent. In 1945, Mauldin won a Pulitzer Prize for his work, commemorating the resonance of his cartoons with the American people.

Yet while Mauldin is best remembered for his World War Two comics, he continued to work prolifically after the war. Working first with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mauldin would win a second Pulitzer in 1959. From 1962 until 1991, Mauldin worked for the Chicago Sun-Times, where he continued to produce a number of cartoons each year. Starting his work in Chicago during the 1960s would give him plenty of material, especially as the United States began to increase its involvement across the Pacific in Vietnam.

Although Mauldin supported the policies of Democratic President Lyndon Johnson, he found himself in disagreement with American policy in Vietnam. In 1965, Mauldin visited Vietnam – where his eldest son was serving – and sent back a number of cartoons on the war. After returning to the U.S., he continued to produce cartoons about Vietnam through 1975, when Saigon finally fell to North Vietnamese forces. In these cartoons, Mauldin addressed issues of voting rights, civilian casualties, and the rationale behind American involvement in Vietnam. His cartoons provide an entertaining yet sympathetic view of the U.S. soldier, and offer a critical look at American policy.

We honor you, William Mauldin.

(#Repost @Pritzker Military Museum & Library)