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)

CPL Frank Buckles

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Washington (CNN) — Frank Buckles, the last living U.S. World War I veteran, has died, a spokesman for his family said Sunday. He was 110.

Lawmakers Monday began to move ahead with proposed resolutions that would allow his casket to be displayed at the Capitol Rotunda, and plans were already in the works for his burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Buckles “died peacefully in his home of natural causes” early Sunday morning [27 Feb 2011], the family said in a statement sent to CNN late Sunday by spokesman David DeJonge.

Buckles marked his 110th birthday on February 1 [2011], but his family had earlier told CNN he had slowed considerably since last fall, according his daughter Susannah Buckles Flanagan, who lives at the family home near Charles Town, West Virginia.

Buckles, who served as a U.S. Army ambulance driver in Europe during what was then known as the “Great War,” rose to the rank of corporal before the war ended.

His assignments included that of an escort for German prisoners of war. Little did he know he would someday become a prisoner of war during World War II.

He came to prominence in recent years, in part because of the work of DeJonge, a Michigan portrait photographer who had undertaken a project to document the last surviving veterans of that war.

As the years continued, all but Buckles had passed away, leaving him the “last man standing” among U.S. troops who were called “The Doughboys.” His death leaves only two verified surviving WWI veterans in the world, both of whom are British.

President Obama issued a statement Monday on Buckles’ passing, saying he and first lady Michelle Obama were “inspired” by Buckles’ story.

Frank Buckles lived the American Century,” Obama’s statement said. “Like so many veterans, he returned home, continued his education, began a career, and along with his late wife Audrey, raised their daughter Susannah. … We join Susannah and all those who knew and loved her father in celebrating a remarkable life that reminds us of the true meaning of patriotism and our obligations to each other as Americans.”

Buckles told CNN in 2007 he accepted the responsibility of honoring those who had gone before him, and to be their voice for permanent, national recognition after he was gone.

DeJonge found himself the spokesman and advocate for Buckles in his mission to see to it that his comrades were honored with a monument on the National Mall, pushing for improvements to a neglected, obscure city memorial nearly in the shadow of the elaborate World War II memorial.

Buckles wanted national status granted to the D.C. War Memorial, a marble gazebo built in the 1930s that, for now, honors only his comrades from the District of Columbia. His call was to elevate the designation of the site to join U.S. honors accorded to those who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

“We have come to the end of a chapter in history,” said Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, a House sponsor of legislation to upgrade the DC War Memorial. “Frank was the last American Doughboy — a national treasure,” Poe said in a statement provided to CNN.

The “Frank Buckles WWI Memorial Act” passed the House but had not cleared the Senate before Congress adjourned. Poe on Monday restated his support for a House resolution that would allow a public display for Buckles in the Capitol Rotunda. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia is a co-sponsor of the Senate proposal.

Buckles, at the age of 108, came to Capitol Hill from West Virginia in 2009 to testify before a Senate panel on behalf of the D.C. War Memorial bill. He sat alongside Rockefeller and fellow proponent Sens. John Thune, R-South Dakota, and Jim Webb, D-Virginia.

“I have to,” he told CNN when he came to Washington, as part of what he considered his responsibility to honor the memory of fellow veterans.

Rockefeller praised Buckles in a statement Monday, calling him “a unique American, a wonderfully plain-spoken man, and an icon for the World War I generation.”

“His life was full and varied and an inspiration for his unbridled patriotism and enthusiam for life,” the statement said.

Buckles, after World War I ended, took up a career as a ship’s officer on merchant vessels. He was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines during World War II and held prisoner of war for more than three years before he was freed by U.S. troops.

Never saying much about his POW experience, Buckles instead wanted attention drawn to the plight of the D.C. War Memorial. During a visit to the run-down, neglected site a few years ago, he went past the nearby World War II memorial without stopping, even as younger veterans stopped and saluted the old soldier in his wheelchair as he went by.

Renovations to the structure began last fall, but Buckles, with his health already failing, could not make a trip to Washington to review the improvements. The National Park Service is overseeing efforts that include replacing a neglected walkway and dressing up a deteriorated dome and marble columns.

Details for services and arrangements will be announced in the days ahead, the family statement said.

Flanagan, his daughter, said preliminary plans began weeks ago, with the Military District of Washington expressing its support for an honors burial at Arlington, including an escort platoon, a horse-drawn casket arrival, a band and a firing party.

“It has long been my father’s wish to be buried in Arlington, in the same cemetery that holds his beloved General (John) Pershing,” Flanagan wrote as she began to prepare for the inevitable in a letter she sent to home-state U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia.

“I feel confident that the right thing will come to pass,” she said.

Manchin issued a statement Monday that read, in part, “He lived a long and rich life as a true American patriot, and I hope that his family’s loss is lightened with the knowledge that he was loved and will be missed by so many.”

Buckles in 2008 attended Veterans Day ceremonies at the grave of Pershing, the commander of U.S. troops during World War I. He also met with then-President George W. Bush at the White House, and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon.

“The First World War is not well understood or remembered in the United States,” Gates said at the time. “There is no big memorial on the National Mall. Hollywood has not turned its gaze in this direction for decades. Yet few events have so markedly shaped the world we live in.”

Buckles’ family asks that donations be made to the National World War I Legacy Project to honor Frank Buckles and the 4,734,991 Americans with whom he served.

More than 116,000 Americans were killed, and more than 204,000 wounded, in the 19 months of U.S. involvement in the war, according to the Congressional Research Service. The overall death toll of the 1914-18 conflict was more than 16.5 million, including nearly 7 million civilians, and more than 20 million wounded.

Details can be found at: http://www.frankbuckles.org.

We honor you, Frank Buckles.

(#Repost @cnn.com)

1st Lt. Mary L. Hawkins

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On Sept. 24, 1944, 1st Lt. Mary Louise Hawkins was evacuating 24 patients from the fighting at Palau to Guadalcanal when the C-47 ran low on fuel. The pilot made a forced landing in a small clearing on Bellona Island. During the landing, a propeller tore through the fuselage and severed the trachea of one patient.

Hawkins made a suction tube from various items including the inflation tube from a “Mae West.” With this contrivance, she kept the man’s throat clear of blood until aid arrived 19 hours later. All of her patients survived. For her actions, Hawkins received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

We honor you, Mary Hawkins.

(#Repost @National Museum of the US Air Force)

Donald Nathan “Don” Aldrich

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Born 24 October 1917 in Moline Illinois. His father taught him to fly before he was 12 years old. When he tried to enlist for pilot training in the American military before the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was rejected because he was married.

He joined the RCAF in February 1941, earning his Wings in November 1941. He served initially as an instructor in Canada but he transferred to the Marines after the US entered the war and the RCAF would let him go (date unclear). He was wounded in action twice.

Captain Donald Aldrich, Marine Pilot who shot down a Tojo, newest Jap fighter plane, over Rabaul, Feb. 9, to become the fifth Marine flyer to kill 20 enemy planes, was congratulated by his Commanding Officer, Major James J. Neefus, of Belle Harbor, N.J. after he was awarded the Purple Heart Medal at a South Pacific Base.

He was KiFA on 3 May 1947 while attempting a forced landing at Glenview Naval Air Station. His Corsair ran into soft dirt and he flipped over.

We honor you, Don Aldrich.

(#Repost @Aces of WWII)

 

Harvey Jacobs

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We were assigned to the 497th Bombardment Squadron of the 344th Bombardment Group located at Stansted, Bishops Stortford.

Towards April and May, we were instrumental in creating havoc in German transportation system by hitting more and more marshalling yards plus railroad bridges, including several over the Seine River. Although fighter reaction was diminishing, the threat of flak was still quite prevalent.
We became aware that the “big day” was approaching, but when it would be was still a mystery. A feeling of exhilaration consumed us that morning of June 6th for we realized that our efforts, along with all of the others, had made this day possible.
The Nazis had taken tremendous punishment from both the strategic and tactical air forces and. were reeling. Now it was up to the boys on the ground to finish them off. We knew our task was not finished as we would be required to give air cover and support to the advancing troops.

On June 5, 1944 all officers were instructed to carry their Colt 45 automatic on all future missions. We hit the sack about midnight and after an hours sleep, were awakened and told to prepare for a mission.
When we arrived for briefing, the giant map showing our route to and from the target was, for the first time, covered with a sheet. Our Commanding Officer Col. Vance, with a dramatic flourish removed the sheet, and announced that the planned invasion of the continent was about to begin.

This was it…D-Day was here and the Normandy invasion would be launched at 06:30 hours by the biggest concentration of soldiers, sailors and airmen ever amassed in the history of warfare. The American troops would make their landings on Omaha and Utah beaches and the assignment of the B-26 groups was to knock out the coastal gun installations.
Our targets were the gun emplacements at Utah, specifically La Madeleine, Beau Guillot and St. Martin de Varreville, and we, as the lead group, were to start all bombing operations at H-hour minus 20 (06:10 hours) and every two minutes thereafter another wave of bombers would send their regards whistling down to the enemy below.
As history relates, the weather that morning was horrendous, the worst it had been in over 100 years. We could not reach our normal flight altitude as the cloud cover was anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 feet, so in essence, we went in at low level.
As I was flying on my flight leader’s left wing I was the 15th plane over Utah on that historic day. Our box of 36 planes led by my squadron commander, Col. Del Bentley had St. Martin de Varreville as our assigned target and after dropping our load of destruction at precisely 06:09 hours, we headed west over the Normandy peninsula and then in a northerly direction towards England.

As we turned towards home we realized that it was H-hour and the first wave of troops would be hitting the beaches.

Our route carried us through an area referred to as ‘Shit-Pan Alley’, the area between the Alderney Islands and the northwest tip of Normandy. What intelligence briefing did not tell us was that there were anti-aircraft installations at both points, and we were caught in a murderous cross-fire of flak.
Our lead ship was hit, and with one engine knocked out, he dropped out of the formation. The other wing-man and myself spread apart to allow the #4 plane to move into position but he just sat there and made no attempt to take over the lead. As a result, I took over the #1 slot and led the formation back to our base. Upon landing we noticed that MP’s were all over the area. They were making certain that we headed directly to de-briefing. Once there we were subjected to a thorough interrogation and then informed that we could not leave the room which was under armed guard. Obviously high command felt the Germans didn’t realize that today was D-Day and they didn’t want us calling them long distance to inform them of the days events.
As we were still considered on ‘alert status, we couldn’t leave the area anyhow so most of us, being slightly exhausted, napped on the benches until later in the morning when a sumptuous lunch of Spam sandwiches was served. We were able to wash this delicious repast down our gullets with our choice of either powdered milk or coffee so strong it was guaranteed to grow hair on the bottom of your feet.
Sherman was right…”War is hell”.

Shortly afterwards, mission #2 for the day was called.
The French Underground had sent word that a Panzer division was being rushed to reinforce German troops in the invasion area, and the estimated time of arrival at the Amiens marshalling yards would be approximately 14:00 hours.
We would arrive several minutes later to make certain they would progress no further. As weather conditions were still poor, we had go in at altitude much lower than normal, and as a result again received an inordinate amount of anti-aircraft fire.
As soon as bombs were away, the formation entered the cloud cover hoping to break through somewhere from 12,000 to 14,000 feet. However the clouds were so dense so dense that it was practically impossible to see the other planes in the formation. I turned 45 degrees to the right and after several minutes reverted to the original heading, climbing steadily until I broke into the clear at a little over l3,000 feet. Ice had started to form on the wings so we desperately searched for an opening in the cloud layer in order to make a safe de-sent.
Within several minutes a small hole was found and I peeled off and dove for the deck. No enemy fighters were visible and we returned safely to our base.

My tour of duty, however, was completed on D- Day plus 1.

I flew 2 missions on D-Day and 2 additional missions the following day giving me a total of 57.
Our Squadron Flight Surgeon, Captain Harry Prudowsky, had observed that my normally smooth landings had become quite bouncy, and he had been informed by some of the flight leaders that my formation flying had also become erratic.
He ordered a physical examination and discovered a sizable weight loss plus increased tension which had created a sleeping problem. In World War #1 it was called Shell Shock, but inasmuch as the euphemistic era was upon us, it became Anxiety Reaction, Moderately Severe.

On June 9th the crew was grounded and on June 10th we went to 9th Air Force HQ to meet the Central Medical Establishment.
On the llth I was interviewed by a medical officer and on June 12th, my 22nd birthday, the medical board informed me that we were to be returned to the Zone of the Interior, the good old US of A.

Almost a month later, July l0th to be exact, our orders came through and we left for Liverpool where we boarded the Mauretania for our trip home.

We honor you, Harvey Jacobs.

(#Repost @Men of D-Day. Written by Harvey Jacobs)

SPAR Dolores (Denfeld) Schubilske

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When Dolores (Denfeld) Schubilske enlisted in the Coast Guard, the United States was already into its third year of World War II. Bloody battles were being fought throughout Europe and the Pacific while hundreds of thousands of men were giving their lives in different parts of the world to combat the spread of tyranny.

Meanwhile, all across America, women were doing their part contributing to the war efforts by collecting rationed goods, selling war bonds, and working in factories building much-need parts and equipment for the war.

Women were also enlisting in the armed services to fill roles here at home to allow more men to serve overseas.

Schubilske, born in 1924 in Wausau, Wis., grew up with three brothers and one sister on her parents’ farm. After high school, she moved 200 miles southwest to Milwaukee, where she landed a job as a seamstress, sewing parachutes. Throughout her stint of almost two years with the company, she thought her hard work of repairing the material was for servicemen who jumped out of airplanes. In reality, she later learned what the parachutes she and the company were making were really used for.

“It wasn’t until much later when I learned that the parachutes were used to slow the fall of the bombs while the aircraft safely escaped the blast areas,” Schubilske said.

While living and working in Milwaukee and seeing Coast Guard Station Milwaukee on occasion, Schubilske developed an interest in the Coast Guard. So much so that on Aug. 4, 1944, on her 20th birthday and on the 154th birthday of the Coast Guard, she joined the Coast Guard’s Women’s Reserves – SPARs – created by Congress in November 1942.

Like everyone else who joined the service, Schubilske went off to boot camp. Not your traditional boot camp, though. She shipped off to Palm Beach, Fla, to the Biltmore Hotel, one of the most fashionable resorts in the country at that time. However, the War Department had taken over the Biltmore and other upscale hotels in Florida during the war and transformed them into training facilities and hospitals. The Biltmore was used for the first dedicated school for SPARs, and then in mid-1945, as a naval hospital. By the conclusion of the war, more than 7,000 SPARs had been trained at the Biltmore.

The Biltmore was anything but a resort for Schubilske and 39 other women.

“We spent six weeks marching, crawling, training, exercising, and swimming, among other things. Everything you would do at a boot camp”

Straight from her training, she reported to “A” school in Lakehurst, N.J. where, because of her experience as a civilian with parachutes, she entered the parachute rigger rating. She was one of only six women among 200 members in her class.

After three months in “A” school, Schubilske, then a parachute rigger third class, landed at Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., where she spent the next several months until the end of the war with about 15 other parachute riggers, all women, packing parachutes for jumpers and for air sea rescue packages that were dropped from the back of airplanes. There were only 18 women in the entire Coast Guard rated as parachute riggers.

“We had to climb up a ladder everyday to get to the top deck to where we packed the chutes,” Schubilske remembered. “Our instructors eventually tested the chutes we packed. We were not allowed to jump out of planes in order to test the parachutes. They were the only ones who could do that.”

Asked if she would have jumped if given the opportunity, she replied, “I definitely would have.”

World War II ended in 1945 beginning with Germany’s surrender in May and Japan’s surrender in September. In the subsequent months as servicemen returned home from overseas, servicemembers here at home were also being demobilized, including the SPARS. The Women’s Reserve was originally established to augment the Coast Guard during the war and remain active for six months afterward.

Schubilske was honorably discharged in Detroit on March 21, 1946 along with many other men and women.

“I was disappointed that the Coast Guard would not allow women to remain,” she said. “I could have joined the Navy at that time because they were allowing women to remain affiliated, but I didn’t want to join the Navy.”

Schubilske moved back to Milwaukee where she married and started a family. When her husband passed away of cancer when they were both in their late 40s, she raised three boys and three girls by herself in the same house she lives in today.

Almost 70 years after being discharged, Schubilske still speaks highly of the Coast Guard and is extremely proud of her involvement as a member of the Women’s Reserve and her service to her country. You can see it in her eyes, and hear it in her voice as she proudly displays photo albums and tells stories of her days as a SPAR.

Today, she remains active with other service personnel from the Navy, Coast Guard and Marines as a member of a local WAVES organization – Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service – the Navy’s reserve organization for women during the war.

She also volunteers at a local senior citizens’ house, enjoys a hobby of cutting stones and making them into jewelry, and at the age of 89 she still travels extensively with family and friends. In 2010, she traveled to Pascagoula, Miss., to attend the christening of the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton, named after Capt. Dorothy Stratton, the first woman to serve as a commissioned officer in the Coast Guard. Two years later, she was present in Alameda, Calif., for the cutter’s commissioning. Although inclement weather on Coast Guard Island during the commissioning caused the SPARs to remain on buses, it was an event and a moment to remember.

“It was a thrill to be part of the commissioning and to have our picture taken with the first lady, Michelle Obama,” recalls Schubilske. “It was so nice of her to come onto our buses and spend time with us.”

Earlier this year, Schubilske elected to ensure her legacy remains an important part of Coast Guard history by donating her uniform back to the Coast Guard, where it will soon be on display at the Coast Guard 9th District offices in Cleveland.  She said she didn’t want to give it to an organization or museum and risk having it just sit in a box.

As a major milestone approaches next year, you can be sure Dolores Schubilske will continue to remain active with her family, friends and country, proudly sharing cherished memories as a parachute rigger in the U.S. Coast Guard.

We honor you, Dolores Denfeld.

(#Repost @Coast Guard: Great Lakes)