Friday, December 30, 2011

TFH 12/30: 1LT Robert L. Howard, USA

On this day in 1968, a 29 year-old Sergeant First Class with the 5th Special Forces Group organized and led his mixed American/Vietnamese infantry platoon while it was under heavy attack by a much larger enemy force. For his courage and determination, he received our Nation's highest honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War.


Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 30 December 1968. Entered service at: Montgomery, Ala. Born: 11 July 1939, Opelika, Ala. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Howard (then Sfc .), distinguished himself while serving as platoon sergeant of an American-Vietnamese platoon which was on a mission to rescue a missing American soldier in enemy controlled territory in the Republic of Vietnam. The platoon had left its helicopter landing zone and was moving out on its mission when it was attacked by an estimated 2-company force. During the initial engagement, 1st Lt. Howard was wounded and his weapon destroyed by a grenade explosion. 1st Lt. Howard saw his platoon leader had been wounded seriously and was exposed to fire. Although unable to walk, and weaponless, 1st Lt. Howard unhesitatingly crawled through a hail of fire to retrieve his wounded leader. As 1st Lt. Howard was administering first aid and removing the officer's equipment, an enemy bullet struck 1 of the ammunition pouches on the lieutenant's belt, detonating several magazines of ammunition. 1st Lt. Howard momentarily sought cover and then realizing that he must rejoin the platoon, which had been disorganized by the enemy attack, he again began dragging the seriously wounded officer toward the platoon area. Through his outstanding example of indomitable courage and bravery, 1st Lt. Howard was able to rally the platoon into an organized defense force. With complete disregard for his safety, 1st Lt. Howard crawled from position to position, administering first aid to the wounded, giving encouragement to the defenders and directing their fire on the encircling enemy. For 3 1/2 hours 1st Lt. Howard's small force and supporting aircraft successfully repulsed enemy attacks and finally were in sufficient control to permit the landing of rescue helicopters. 1st Lt. Howard personally supervised the loading of his men and did not leave the bullet-swept landing zone until all were aboard safely. 1st Lt. Howard's gallantry in action, his complete devotion to the welfare of his men at the risk of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army. 

As you can tell from his Medal of Honor citation, Robert Howard had received an officers' commission by the time he was recognized for his great courage. He was one of the most decorated soldiers of the Vietnam War, also receiving two Distinguished Service Crosses and the Silver Star medal, among other decorations including eight Purple Hearts for wounds suffered in combat.

He retired from the Army in 1992 with the rank of Colonel. He passed away on December 23, 2009 from pancreatic cancer and rests today in Arlington National Cemetery.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

TFH 12/24: CDR Laurence A. Abercrombie, USN

Laurence Allen Abercrombie was born on October 10, 1897 in Lawrence, MA. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1921. The beginning of World War II found him in command of the Mahan-class destroyer USS Drayton (DD-366). She was at sea during the attack on Pearl Harbor escorting the aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2). Just over two weeks later, Commander Abercrombie and the Drayton found themselves escorting a convoy to Christmas Island. On this day, 70 years ago, Laurence Abercrombie's skill and courage as a commanding officer under fire earned him the first of the three Navy Crosses he received for his World War II service, our Nation's second highest honor.

All three of Commander Abercrombie's Navy Cross citations, from the Military Times' Hall of Valor:

Action Date: 24 December 1941

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Commander Laurence Allen Abercrombie (NSN: 0-56922), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the Destroyer U.S.S. DRAYTON (DD-366), during operations in the Far East on 24 December 1941 Commander Abercrombie skillfully directed his vessel in an engagement which resulted in the destruction of an enemy vessel. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Navy of the United States.

Action Date: 22 October 1942

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Navy Cross to Commander Laurence Allen Abercrombie (NSN: 0-56922), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as the Commanding Officer of Destroyer Division NINE, which engaged Japanese naval forces in a daring daylight raid on the enemy patrol line south of the Gilbert Islands on 22 October 1942. Commander Abercrombie skillfully maneuvered his division, exercising such brilliant tactical judgment that heavy damage was inflicted upon the enemy. Two enemy vessels were sunk by the gunfire of his force, and repeated air attacks were repelled without damage to the ships or crews under his command. Through his leadership this bold mission was brought to a highly successful conclusion. His courageous conduct was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Naval Service.

Action Date: 17 February 1943

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Second Gold Star in lieu of a Third Award of the Navy Cross to Commander Laurence Allen Abercrombie (NSN: 0-56922), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the Destroyer U.S.S. DRAYTON (DD-366), as Screen Commander of a Task Force unit during action against Japanese aerial forces in the Solomon Islands area on 17 February 1943. By the accurate and timely warning given by the ships under his command, Commander Abercrombie enabled the task unit commander to dispose his transports and destroyers for the most effective action against hostile Torpedo Planes. Despite the difficulties and hazards of a night engagement during which five Japanese planes were destroyed, Commander Abercrombie brought his forces through without casualty or damage. Commander Abercrombie's inspiring leadership and the valiant devotion to duty of his command contributed in large measure to the outstanding success of these vital missions and reflect great credit upon the United States Naval Service.

We have much to be thankful for the skill and gallantry of our sailors past and present. Laurence Abercrombie retired from the Navy as a Rear Admiral and he passed away on May 3, 1973.

USS Drayton served throughout World War II in the Pacific, earning eleven battle stars. She was decommissioned on October 9, 1945 and sold to be scrapped on December 20, 1946.

Friday, December 23, 2011

TFH 12/23: Captain Henry Talmage Elrod, USMC

Henry Elrod was born in Turner County, GA on September 27, 1905. After attending the University of Georgia and Yale University, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1927. He received a commission as a Second Lieutenant in 1931, and earned his aviators' wings in 1935.

The growing winds of war found "Hammerin' Hank" in Hawai'i early in 1941. As hostilities increasingly appeared imminent, he was sent with the 14 planes of Marine Fighter Squadron 211 to Wake Island on December 4th. On December 8th, coincidental with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (Wake, being on the other side of the International Date Line), Wake also came under assault.

The Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and civilians on Wake Island held off the Japanese invaders for fifteen days of intense combat. Henry Elrod flew his F4F Wildcat to distinction, shooting down two attacking aircraft and sinking a Japanese destroyer. When all the defender's aircraft had been destroyed, he picked up a rifle and joined the battle line. 70 years ago today, he gave his life, and for his gallantry he received our Nation's highest honor:


Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 27 September 1905, Rebecca, Ga. Entered service at: Ashburn, Ga. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to Marine Fighting Squadron 211, during action against enemy Japanese land, surface and aerial units at Wake Island, 8 to 23 December 1941. Engaging vastly superior forces of enemy bombers and warships on 9 and 12 December, Capt. Elrod shot down 2 of a flight of 22 hostile planes and, executing repeated bombing and strafing runs at extremely low altitude and close range, succeeded in inflicting deadly damage upon a large Japanese vessel, thereby sinking the first major warship to be destroyed by small caliber bombs delivered from a fighter-type aircraft. When his plane was disabled by hostile fire and no other ships were operative, Capt. Elrod assumed command of 1 flank of the line set up in defiance of the enemy landing and, conducting a brilliant defense, enabled his men to hold their positions and repulse intense hostile fusillades to provide covering fire for unarmed ammunition carriers. Capturing an automatic weapon during 1 enemy rush in force, he gave his own firearm to 1 of his men and fought on vigorously against the Japanese. Responsible in a large measure for the strength of his sector's gallant resistance, on 23 December, Capt. Elrod led his men with bold aggressiveness until he fell, mortally wounded. His superb skill as a pilot, daring leadership and unswerving devotion to duty distinguished him among the defenders of Wake Island, and his valiant conduct reflects the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country. 

Captain Elrod was originally interred on Wake Island among those who fell with him during the battle. His remains were moved to Arlington National Cemetery in 1947, where he rests today.

His squadron, today VMA-211, the "Wake Island Avengers", flies the AV-8B Harrier II in defense of our Nation and the cause of liberty.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

TFH 12/22: Major Thomas J. H. Trapnell, USA

Thomas John Hall Trapnell, "Trap" as he was nicknamed, was born on November 23, 1902 in Yonkers, NY. In 1923, he began his military service at the United States Military Academy, West Point. After graduation, he was commissioned and became a cavalry officer. With the cavalry, he served under such noted officers as Jonathan Wainwright and George Patton.

In 1939, he joined the Philippine Scouts with the 26th Cavalry Regiment. The Japanese Empire invaded the Philippines in a coordinated attack with that on Pearl Harbor. Against insurmountable odds, the forces of the United States Army and the Philippine Army retreated towards the Bataan Peninsula. Trap, then commanding the 26th Cavalry, fought courageously in a rear guard action to protect the withdrawal, including the last horse cavalry charge in US Army history.

On this day in 1941, 70 years ago to the day, his determination, heroism, and fighting spirit was on display as he single-handedly destroyed a bridge to slow the enemy's advance. For his gallantry, he was decorated with our Nation's second highest honor: the Distinguished Service Cross.

From Military Times' Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Major Thomas John Hall Trapnell, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Commanding Officer of the 26th Cavalry Regiment, Philippine Scouts, in action against enemy forces while the U.S. Cavalry engaged in rear guard action on 22 December 1941, in the Philippine Islands. During a concentration of enemy fire from tanks and infantry, Major Trapnell remained between the hostile forces and his own troops and set on fire a truck on a bridge somewhere in Launion Province. Then he waited calmly until the bridge had burned before leaving in a scout car to rejoin his troops. Major Trapnell's intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.

Major Trapnell was captured by the Japanese in April of 1942. He survived the hell of the Bataan Death March, and remained a prisoner of war until he was liberated by the Soviet Union in Manchuria in 1944.

While a prisoner, Trap was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. His service to our Nation continued in the Korean War and in the early days of US involvement in Vietnam. He advised President Kennedy not to get involved. He retired as a Lieutenant General in 1962, with the recommendation he hold the rank of full General in retirement.

In addition to his Distinguished Service Cross, he was also decorated during his career with the Army Distinguished Service Medal, three Silver Star medals, four awards of the Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star medal with Valor Device.

Thomas John Hall Trapnell, American hero, passed away on February 13, 2002 at age 99. He rests in the cemetery at West Point.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

TFH 12/21: Corporal Larry Eugene Smedley, USMC

On this day in 1967, one courageous 18-year old United States Marine led his six-man squad against an enemy force nearly twenty times as large. He ignored his wounds, and kept up the attack. He gave his life for us, and was recognized with our Nation's highest honor.


Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Company D, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. Place and date: Quang Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam, 21 December 1967. Entered service at: Orlando, Fla. Born: 4 March 1949, Front Royal, Va. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a squad leader with company D, in connection with operations against the enemy. On the evenings of 20-21 December 1967, Cpl. Smedley led his 6-man squad to an ambush site at the mouth of Happy Valley, near Phouc Ninh (2) in Quang Nam Province. Later that night an estimated 100 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army regulars, carrying 122mm rocket launchers and mortars, were observed moving toward Hill 41. Realizing this was a significant enemy move to launch an attack on the vital Danang complex, Cpl. Smedley immediately took sound and courageous action to stop the enemy threat. After he radioed for a reaction force, he skillfully maneuvered his men to a more advantageous position and led an attack on the numerically superior enemy force. A heavy volume of fire from an enemy machinegun positioned on the left flank of the squad inflicted several casualties on Cpl. Smedley's unit. Simultaneously, an enemy rifle grenade exploded nearby, wounding him in the right foot and knocking him to the ground. Cpl. Smedley disregarded this serious injury and valiantly struggled to his feet, shouting words of encouragement to his men. He fearlessly led a charge against the enemy machinegun emplacement, firing his rifle and throwing grenades, until he was again struck by enemy fire and knocked to the ground. Gravely wounded and weak from loss of blood, he rose and commenced a 1-man assault against the enemy position. Although his aggressive and singlehanded attack resulted in the destruction of the machinegun, he was struck in the chest by enemy fire and fell mortally wounded. Cpl. Smedley's inspiring and courageous actions, bold initiative, and selfless devotion to duty in the face of certain death were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Corporal Smedley rests today with so many other of our honored dead in Arlington National Cemetery. He is also memorialized on Panel 32E, Line 40 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

His unit, 1st Battalion/7th Marine Regiment, still serves today in defense of liberty and freedom with the 1st Marine Division. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

TFH 12/20: 2LT Charles L. Brown, USAAC

From time to time, the valor of our heroes takes too long to recognize. In the case of Charles Brown, recognition of his heroism during World War II took over 64 years. On December 20, 1943 Brown was piloting a B-17 Flying Fortress on a bombing mission over Germany when it was heavily damaged by Nazi anti-aircraft fire and attacking fighters. On February 4, 2008 the United States Air Force presented him with our Nation's second highest award for courage, the Air Force Cross.

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Second Lieutenant Charles L. Brown for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an armed enemy of the United States as a B-17 Pilot of the 527th Bombardment Squadron, 379th Bombardment Group (Heavy), EIGHTH Air Force, in action over Germany, 20 December 1943. On this date while attacking a heavily defended target over occupied Germany, Lieutenant Brown's aircraft sustained severe flak damage, including destruction of the Plexiglas nose, wing damage, and major damage to the number two and four engines. Lieutenant Brown provided invaluable instructions to the copilot and crew requiring the number two engine to be shut down. He then expertly managed to keep the number four engine producing partial power. This action enabled his crew to complete the improbable bombing run and bomb delivery on this important strategic target. Immediately upon leaving the target, sever multiple engine damage prevented maintaining their position in formation. During this extreme duress, the demonstrated airmanship displayed by Lieutenant Brown could only be described as crucially pivotal to the aircraft's survival and displayed by only more seasoned and experienced aviators during the War. His violent, evasive tactics to counter the multiple enemy efforts to destroy their airplane directly contributed to his crew and his aircraft's survival. Alone and outnumbered, the aircraft was mercilessly attacked by the enemy in which crew difficulties were compounded when discovered only three defensive guns were operational, the others frozen in the -75 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. The result of this brief, but devastating aerial battle was one crew member dead; another critically wounded that would require amputation of his leg; serious damage of the third engine; the complete destruction of the aircraft's left elevator and stabilizer; the inoperability of the bomber's oxygen and communications systems; and the complete shredding of the rudder by enemy fire that produced a death roll of the plane as it spiraled helplessly out of control causing the entire crew to temporarily lose consciousness. Miraculously, prior to ground impact, Lieutenant Brown and the copilot regained consciousness and managed to regain full flight control by pulling the heavily damaged aircraft out of its nose-dive. Although managing to recover this aircraft from certain doom, the crew's plight was further complicated when a lone German fighter witnessed the maneuver, now attempted to force the crippled aircraft to land. Displaying coolness, courage and airmanship of more senior pilots, he boldly rejected the enemy fighter's attempts at a forced landing and directed the struggling aircraft to the North Sea. While attempting this improbable, treacherous return to home station, Lieutenant Brown's command and control was instrumental to the remaining crew's survival. While in the cockpit, he provided the essential engine control, fuel management, and piloting skills necessary to the cockpit team during their hazardous, yet miraculous return of the aircraft's perilous crossing of the North Sea back to home station in England. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Lieutenant Brown reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Army Air Corps.

There's another side to this story: that of the German Luftwaffe pilot who intercepted the stricken B-17 and let it escape. His name was Franz Stigler. Stigler, who had already shot down two B-17s that day, could see through the holes blasted in the plane by his comrades' weapons. He saw the dead and dying crew inside, and held his fire, thinking:
I cannot kill these half-dead people. It would be like shooting at a parachute.
The Nazis weren't known for their compassion, but Franz Stigler showed it that day. Had his act of mercy become known to his own chain of command, he'd have been executed for his actions. His courage in not shooting is also worthy of our praise.

Late in their lives, both Brown and Stigler located each other and the incredible story of 12/20/1943 became known. Both of them passed away in 2008: Stigler in March, Brown in November - about 9 months after receiving his Air Force Cross. 

The 379th Bombardment Group's descendant, the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, flies in defense of our Nation today.

Friday, December 16, 2011

TFH 12/16: Major Robert S. Beale, USAF and Major Paul J. Mongillo, USAFR

SEAD - Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses. It is one of the most dangerous combat missions an aviator can fly. These brave pilots make themselves the targets. They attack anti-aircraft gun and missile sites and the radars that enable them. They are the ones who protect our bombers and attack aircraft from ground defenses so that they reach their targets.

On this day in 1967, two gallant airmen (one a reservist) climbed aboard their Republic F-105 Thunderchief in Thailand on a mission to support air attacks on the communist North Vietnamese capital of Hanoi. They faced intense flak. They had 18 surface-to-air missiles fired at them. Even after their plane was struck by enemy fire, they did not give up on their vital mission of protecting strike aircraft from those same weapons. One survived, one gave his life for his Nation and liberty.

Through their skill and courage, all of the other aircraft they were clearing the way for reached their target and returned safely. For their skill and courage, both Major Robert S. Beale and Major Paul John Mongillo received our Nation's second highest honor: the Air Force Cross. (Name links to Military Times' Hall of Valor records)

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Major Robert S. Beale (AFSN: 0-57324), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force while serving as an F-105 Thunderchief Pilot of the 44th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Korat Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, during a missile suppression mission on an isolated vital military target near Hanoi, North Vietnam, on 16 December 1967. On that date, Major Beale braved many concentrations of heavy anti-aircraft artillery fire and eighteen surface-to-air missiles as he successfully led his missile suppression flight in diverting the hostile defenses away from the main strike force. He contributed to the destruction of one missile site only three miles from the center of the heavily defended target area and damaged at least one other missile complex. As a result of his actions, the main strike force suffered no losses, encountered only four missiles, and successfully destroyed this vital military target. Through his superb airmanship, aggressiveness, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Major Beale reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pride in presenting the Air Force Cross (Posthumously) to Major Paul John Mongillo (AFSN: FV 0-3087591), United States Air Force (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as an F-105 Thunderchief Electronics Warfare Officer of the 44th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Korat Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, in action against an isolated vital military target near Hanoi, North Vietnam, on 16 December 1967. On that date, Major Mongillo braved many concentrations of heavy anti-aircraft artillery fire and eighteen surface-to-air missiles as he successfully led his missile suppression flight in diverting the hostile defenses away from the main strike force. He contributed to the destruction of one missile site only three miles from the center of the heavily defended target area and damaged at least one other missile complex. As a result of his actions, the main strike force suffered no losses, encountered only four missiles, and successfully destroyed this vital military target. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Major Mongillo reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Major Paul Mongillo is remembered on Panel 32E, Line 15 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.

Robert Beale retired from the United States Air Force in 1979 with the rank of Colonel. He also received a Silver Star medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in Vietnam as well as two awards of the Legion of Merit for his peacetime exceptional service.

Beale and Mongillo's squadron, the 44th Fighter, still flies in defense of liberty and our great Nation today. They are part of the 18th Operations Group of the 18th Wing, based at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

TFH 12/15: Sergeant Allen James Lynch, USA

Allen Lynch was born on October 28, 1945 in Chicago. He joined the Army in 1964. Three years later, he was serving as a radioman in the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment as they fought in Vietnam. On this day in 1967, he refused to abandon three wounded comrades and repeatedly put himself at risk to protect them and lead his unit's counterattack against a numerically-superior enemy.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War:


Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company D, 1st Battalion (Airmobile), 12th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). place and date: Near My An (2), Binh Dinh province, Republic of Vietnam, 15 December 1967. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Born: 28 October 1945, Chicago, Ill. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Lynch (then Sp4c.) distinguished himself while serving as a radio telephone operator with Company D. While serving in the forward element on an operation near the village of My An, his unit became heavily engaged with a numerically superior enemy force. Quickly and accurately assessing the situation, Sgt. Lynch provided his commander with information which subsequently proved essential to the unit's successful actions. Observing 3 wounded comrades Lying exposed to enemy fire, Sgt. Lynch dashed across 50 meters of open ground through a withering hail of enemy fire to administer aid. Reconnoitering a nearby trench for a covered position to protect the wounded from intense hostile fire, he killed 2 enemy soldiers at point blank range. With the trench cleared, he unhesitatingly returned to the fire-swept area 3 times to carry the wounded men to safety. When his company was forced to withdraw by the superior firepower of the enemy, Sgt. Lynch remained to aid his comrades at the risk of his life rather than abandon them. Alone, he defended his isolated position for 2 hours against the advancing enemy. Using only his rifle and a grenade, he stopped them just short of his trench, killing 5. Again, disregarding his safety in the face of withering hostile fire, he crossed 70 meters of exposed terrain 5 times to carry his wounded comrades to a more secure area. Once he had assured their comfort and safety, Sgt. Lynch located the counterattacking friendly company to assist in directing the attack and evacuating the 3 casualties. His gallantry at the risk of his life is in the highest traditions of the military service, Sgt. Lynch has reflected great credit on himself, the 12th Cavalry, and the U.S. Army. 

Lynch left the Army in 1969. In civilian life he worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs and has also volunteered with both the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pearl Harbor: What Wasn't Lost

Last Wednesday, we marked the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The cost to the United States Navy was great, but of the eight battleships sunk or damaged during the attack, six returned to service later in the war, some after not much time at all.

In addition to the battleships, seven major ships were sunk or damaged. Of those seven, all but one returned to active service:

USS Utah (AG-16, ex-BB-31) - Utah was no longer a first-line battleship, instead finding use as an anti-aircraft gunnery training ship. She was mistaken by the Japanese attackers as an active capital ship and was struck by numerous air-dropped torpedoes. She capsized and like Arizona, still rests in Pearl Harbor today as the grave for 54 of her crew.

USS Raleigh (CL-7) - Raleigh, an Omaha-class light cruiser, was struck by a single Japanese torpedo and listed severely to her port side, in danger of capsizing. Her valiant crew saved the ship, and destroyed five enemy planes with determined anti-aircraft fire. She was repaired and served with the Pacific Fleet for the duration of the war. Raleigh was decommissioned on November 2, 1945 and scrapped in early 1946.

USS Honolulu (CL-48) - Honolulu, a Brooklyn-class light cruiser, received only minor damage during the attack. She served throughout the war in the Pacific, earning eight battle stars and surviving a Japanese torpedo attack during the Battle of Leyte on October 20, 1944. Her major repairs were completed at Norfolk in early 1945. She decommissioned to reserve status on February 3, 1947 and was scrapped in 1959.

USS Helena (CL-50) - Helena, a St. Louis-class light cruiser, was struck at Pearl by one torpedo. Her crew's outstanding damage control prevented major damage to the ship, even though one boiler room and one engine room were flooded. Helena returned to service after repairs in 1942, participating in the Guadalcanal campaign. On July 5-6, 1943, Helena was sunk by three Japanese torpedoes during the Battle of Kula Gulf. 168 sailors of her nearly 900 crew were killed in action. She was the first ship to receive the Navy Unit Commendation, the unit-equivalent of the individual Silver Star medal.

USS Cassin (DD-372) - Cassin, a Mahan-class destroyer, was dry docked with fellow destroyer USS Downes (DD-375, below) and battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) during the attack. An incendiary bomb strike caused Downes' fuel tanks to explode, and uncontrollable fires spread to both destroyers. Originally assumed to be a total loss, Cassin was eventually repaired and returned to service on February 5, 1944. She contributed to many of the late 1944-early 1945 offensive operations in the Pacific. Decommissioned at Norfolk on December 17, 1945 she was scrapped in 1947.

USS Shaw (DD-373) - Shaw, also of the Mahan-class, was also dry docked on December 7th. She was struck by three bombs setting her afire. At 0925 the order to abandon ship was given, and her forward magazine exploded about five minutes later causing heavy damage. She was repaired, however, and rejoined the fleet after receiving a new bow in the summer of 1942. Shaw eventually earned eleven battle stars for her contributions to winning the war in the Pacific. Decommissioned at New York City in October 1945, she was scrapped in 1946.

USS Downes (DD-375) - Downes, a third member of the Mahan-class, was struck as previously mentioned by an incendiary bomb and the ensuing fires destroyed both herself and Cassin. Her wreck was eventually salvaged and towed to the mainland for repairs. Downes left the Mare Island Naval Shipyard on November 15, 1943 and rejoined the war in the Pacific in early 1944. After earning four battle stars for her Pacific service, she was decommissioned on December 17, 1945 and scrapped in 1947.

One destroyed, six damaged to varying degrees, six returned to combat. Certainly the cost of repairs and time to complete them affected these vessels' contribution to the war, but they were not destroyed. They all ultimately helped to defeat Japan. But what of the other things the Japanese didn't destroy?

TFH 12/14: Sergeant John William Rucker, USA

The Distinguished Service Cross is the second-highest award for valor for members of the United States Army. Reading DSC citations frequently make me wonder why some of these brave fighting men didn't receive the Medal of Honor. Records from this day in 1970 bring us such a story: Army Ranger John Rucker.

From Military Times' Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Sergeant John William Rucker (ASN: US-222302703), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company C (Ranger), 75th Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 17th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade. Sergeant Rucker distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 14 December 1970, while serving as assistant team leader to a six-man patrol during ground operations near Tuy Hoa, Republic of Vietnam. As the small unit advanced along a narrow trail, the lead man observed a large enemy force moving toward the friendly element along the path. Immediately, the American patrol hastened into an ambush position paralleling the enemy avenue of approach. Although vastly outnumbered, Sergeant Rucker and another team member initiated contact with the foe as they unleashed a barrage of claymore anti-personnel mines and automatic weapons fire. Utilizing the element of surprise, Sergeant Rucker's stratagem resulted in the elimination of approximately ten belligerents. The foe reacted to the initial onslaught with fragmentation grenades and automatic weapons fire while attempting to maneuver into position surrounding Sergeant Rucker's team. Realizing the peril caused by the threat of encirclement, Sergeant Rucker exposed himself to the hail of enemy rounds as he fought to prevent the foe from flanking and trapping his men, Suddenly, Sergeant Rucker was knocked to the ground by a flurry of bullets. Although painfully wounded, the sergeant refused medical assistance and continued his mission of resistance. Numerous enemy troops attempted to overrun the friendly perimeter, but Sergeant Rucker challenged the charge with accurate bursts from his M-16 rifle. Refusing to relinquish his position in the face of the enemy counter-attack, the tenacious Sergeant Rucker held his ground until his injuries weakened him and caused him to fall unconscious. Moments later, American medical helicopters and gunships arrived at the scene to evacuate the beleaguered troops. Sergeant Rucker succumbed to his wounds en route to the base hospital. Sergeant Rucker's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

John William Rucker appears on Panel 06W, Line 121 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The descendant of his unit, the 75th Ranger Regiment, is a key component of both Army Special Operations Command and United States Special Operations Command.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

TFH 12/13: Commander John Milton Hyde, USN

On this day in 1944, the captain of the Balao-class submarine USS Bergall (SS-320) found his boat in water too shallow to submerge. Undeterred, he led the Bergall on a night surface attack on two Japanese heavy cruisers, destroying one and severely damaging the second at a minimum. For his leadership and courage, he was decorated with our Nation's second highest honor: the Navy Cross.

From Military Times' Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Commander John Milton Hyde (NSN: 0-73456), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. BERGALL (SS-320), on the SECOND War Patrol of that submarine on 13 December 1944, in enemy controlled waters of the South China Sea. Contacting two hostile heavy cruisers in water too shallow to permit submersion if detected, Commander Hyde courageously launched a night surface attack against the enemy vessels and directed the firing of six torpedoes, which caused one of the cruisers to blow up with a tremendous explosion and a mass of engulfing flames and inflicted extensive damage on the other which stopped dead in the water. After reloading, he once again attacked the crippled vessel and, when a salvo from the damaged cruiser inflicted damage to the BERGALL's pressure hull, skillfully maneuvered his craft to evade further damage and return to port. By his leadership, gallant fighting spirit and devotion to duty, Commander Hyde upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

John Hyde also received three Silver Star medals for heroism and skill as a submarine officer and commander in the face of the enemy. To him, and to all our brave submariners who have defended liberty throughout the Earth's oceans, we say thank you.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Pearl Harbor: What Was Lost

First and foremost, what was lost at Pearl Harbor were lives.

  • 1,999 United States Navy
  • 233 United States Army (including the Air Corps)
  • 109 United States Marine Corps
  • 49 Civilians

2,390 in total. An additional 1,178 were wounded, and survived.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was devastating to the United States Navy's Pacific fleet. Naval doctrine prior to World War II focused on the centrality of the battleship. Naval war would be decided by big guns on both sides slugging it out shell for shell.

Pearl Harbor was the beginning of the end of the battleship as the dominant capital warship for the United States, mainly because with eight of the nine Pacific Fleet battleships destroyed or severely damaged, the aircraft carriers were the only striking force the US Navy had left.

The attack itself, clearly, was evidence of the ascendancy of the aircraft carrier. Two Japanese fast battleships - Hiei and Kirishima - accompanied Vice Admiral Chūichi Nagumo's 1st Air Fleet as escorts for the Pearl Harbor attack, but weren't involved in any shooting. Aircraft from the six Japanese carriers - Akagi, Hiryū, Kaga, Shōkaku, Sōryū, and Zuikaku - did all the damage.

What was the ultimate cost to the United States Navy in capital ships? Here's what happened to all nine battleships, listed in order of their hull numbers, belonging to the Pacific Fleet on December 7, 1941.

I hope you take the time to read the whole thing.

Fifth of Five Bomb Hits...

To this point in the attack, battleship USS Arizona had been struck by four bombs. The fifth bomb hit at 0806 Hawaiian time penetrated the forward main battery magazines, causing a catastrophic explosion that destroyed the vessel seven seconds later.

Arizona burned for two days. Of her 1,400 crew, 1,177 perished. As most know, she still lies where she was destroyed. Of the dead, most still lie with her.

These are the brave Sailors and Marines who died with their ship.
(Full Military & Civilian Casualty Resource for the Attack)

Never forget. Never.

The Message


Message sent from CINCPAC headquarters, 0755 Hours Hawaiian Time, December 7, 1941.

The Attack is Underway

At this moment on December 7, 1941 - 0748 Hawaiian Time - the first aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy began attacking Kaneohe. 70 years ago.

Never forget. Never.

TFH 12/7: On the Darkest Day, Sixteen Shined

Today is the 70th Anniversary of the surprise attack by the Empire of Japan upon the United States of America at Pearl Harbor, O'ahu, Hawai'i. I will have additional posts today, which will appear at their correct times in historical context, that is, five hours ahead of Hawaiian Time.

This post is appearing at 0200 Hawaiian Time. The first Japanese aircraft struck Hawai'i at 0748 local, 1248 Eastern.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a military disaster of epic proportions. It isn't hard to imagine, but it could have been worse (more on that later today). 2,402 Americans lost their lives, 1,247 were wounded. Even in defeat, the courage and valor of the American fighting man shone through the darkness.
  • 55 received the Navy Cross or Distinguished Service Cross
  • 53 received the Silver Star
And sixteen incredible Americans received our Nation's highest decoration: the Medal of Honor. Fifteen sailors at Pearl Harbor, one Marine at the far western end of the Hawaiian chain on Midway. Of the sixteen, eleven gave their lives.

Today, now, we recognize and honor all sixteen.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

TFH 12/6: Captain Angelo J. Liteky, USA

Military chaplains are men of God and non-combatants. Regardless, they frequently put themselves at great risk to minister to their flock: all our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen. On this day in 1967, one chaplain - a Catholic priest - went above and beyond the call of duty to not only minister to his men's souls, but to save their lives.


Rank and organization: Chaplain (Capt.), U.S. Army, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 199th Infantry Brigade. place and date: Near Phuoc-Lac, Bien Hoa province, Republic of Vietnam, 6 December 1967 . Entered service at: Fort Hamilton, N.Y. Born: 14 February 1931, Washington, D.C. Citation: Chaplain Liteky distinguished himself by exceptional heroism while serving with Company A, 4th Battalion, 12th Infantry, 199th Light Infantry Brigade. He was participating in a search and destroy operation when Company A came under intense fire from a battalion size enemy force. Momentarily stunned from the immediate encounter that ensued, the men hugged the ground for cover. Observing 2 wounded men, Chaplain Liteky moved to within 15 meters of an enemy machine gun position to reach them, placing himself between the enemy and the wounded men. When there was a brief respite in the fighting, he managed to drag them to the relative safety of the landing zone. Inspired by his courageous actions, the company rallied and began placing a heavy volume of fire upon the enemy's positions. In a magnificent display of courage and leadership, Chaplain Liteky began moving upright through the enemy fire, administering last rites to the dying and evacuating the wounded. Noticing another trapped and seriously wounded man, Chaplain Liteky crawled to his aid. Realizing that the wounded man was too heavy to carry, he rolled on his back, placed the man on his chest and through sheer determination and fortitude crawled back to the landing zone using his elbows and heels to push himself along. pausing for breath momentarily, he returned to the action and came upon a man entangled in the dense, thorny underbrush. Once more intense enemy fire was directed at him, but Chaplain Liteky stood his ground and calmly broke the vines and carried the man to the landing zone for evacuation. On several occasions when the landing zone was under small arms and rocket fire, Chaplain Liteky stood up in the face of hostile fire and personally directed the medivac helicopters into and out of the area. With the wounded safely evacuated, Chaplain Liteky returned to the perimeter, constantly encouraging and inspiring the men. Upon the unit's relief on the morning of 7 December 1967, it was discovered that despite painful wounds in the neck and foot, Chaplain Liteky had personally carried over 20 men to the landing zone for evacuation during the savage fighting. Through his indomitable inspiration and heroic actions, Chaplain Liteky saved the lives of a number of his comrades and enabled the company to repulse the enemy. Chaplain Liteky's actions reflect great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army. 

Posting Captain Liteky's tale of heroism required some reflection and consideration on my part. I wrote earlier today about my reservations. Liteky left the priesthood in 1975, eventually married, changed his name to Charles, and became a peace and social justice activist. That in of itself is not what troubled me; we're all free to both support a particular world view, and to change our minds as to what that world view is. No, what troubled me is that on July 29, 1986 he renounced his Medal of Honor by leaving it at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as a protest to the policies of the Reagan Administration and our Nation. My first take was that this was an affront to all other Medal of Honor recipients and the courage and sacrifices they all made for the cause of Liberty and in defense of all of us. Disagree, fine - but keep sacred the award and what it represents.

Then, I read this article originally published on March 24, 2000 from the San Francisco Chronicle. In it, fellow Medal of Honor recipient Paul Bucha is quoted:
When I look at Liteky, I have respect for the courage of his views. It's difficult to be an iconoclast. It's much easier to go along. Men like Liteky are people who should force us to stop and think, and they should not be ostracized and criticized. They are entitled to their views, and perhaps if we listened we'd be better off.
He's right. I was wrong to be hesitant. Captain Liteky's heroism on December 6, 1967 is rightfully set apart from his later life, most of which I would likely have big philosophical problems with. For all our military chaplains - and all Americans - his actions under fire are to be commended and admired.

Liteky's Medal of Honor that he left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial today is part of the collection at the National Museum of American History in our Nation's capital.

A dilemma

As readers of this space know, most of my regular content fits with the blog title: the stories of heroes, in particular those who have received the Medal of Honor or DSC/NC/AFC. I am ever in awe of the deeds of these great Americans, as I hope all my readers are too.

For December 6, I found a Medal of Honor Citation that jumped off the page at me for recognition (as if any MoH citation is mundane) because of who the individual was. I had started cutting and pasting and writing the blog post when I found out something troubling. This hero later renounced his Medal as a protest against our government and Nation, and returned it.

I am a believer in the United States and our freedoms, including that of dissent. Lord knows I have enough issues with our government that I better believe in protecting dissent. I have a hard time though recognizing someone who rejects that our Nation can legitimately honor his actions while pursuing policies he disagrees with. To me, honoring this man in this space diminishes the deeds, courage, and sacrifices of the other 3,457 recipients of our Nation's highest honor.

Am I wrong? Way off base? There are five USMC Navy Cross recipients whose deeds fell on this day in 1950 I can choose from, or honor all five, as an alternative.

I have a record of honoring heroes with whom I disagree politically. There's only one Medal of Honor since 1900 that was awarded for actions on December 6. I'm just having a hard time understanding how a man who saved 20 American soldiers can reject his Nation's gratitude under any circumstances.

Please let me know what you think. Comment or send a tweet to me @allanbourdius


Monday, December 05, 2011

TFH 12/5: Major Thomas E. Dayton, USAF

The US Air Force's 22nd Special Operations Squadron was based in Thailand during the Vietnam War, flying the A-1 Skyraider. They flew interdiction missions over the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and also supported other operations, such as the rescue of downed aircrews.

On December 5-7, 1969 one gallant airman would not leave a downed comrade to the hands of the enemy. He repeatedly exposed his plane to ground fire at great risk to himself and because of his skill and courage, the rescue was ultimately successful. That airman was Major Thomas E. Dayton, and for his heroism, he received our Nation's second-highest honor: the Air Force Cross.

From Military Times' Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Major Thomas E. Dayton (AFSN: 0-29982), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as an A-1 Tactical Fighter Pilot of the 22d Special Operations Squadron, in action in Southeast Asia, from 5 December 1969 to 7 December 1969. On those dates, Major Dayton exerted all the courage and flying skill at his disposal in a fiercely opposed attempt to rescue a fellow airman from one of the most heavily defended areas in Southeast Asia. During the first two days of this largest search and rescue mission attempted in Southeast Asia, Major Dayton escorted helicopters into the search area on four separate occasions. Despite intense hostile fire during low altitude and slow speed required in this protective role, he repeatedly attacked hostile positions throughout the valley. Designated On-Scene Commander on the third day, Major Dayton continued his heroic rescue efforts with great vigor and determination despite the fact that fifteen previous attempts had failed, and with full knowledge that each return would again place his life in jeopardy. Notwithstanding these tremendous obstacles, Major Dayton persisted in his efforts, with the realization that the successful application of airpower would be the deciding factor. During the final rescue attempt, Major Dayton had to hold an orbiting position over the survivor to divert air strikes away from the survivor's position. Braving hundreds of rounds of hostile fire during these three days, Major Dayton took control of the recovery operation at its lowest ebb and heroically challenged and mastered this successful, unparalleled rescue mission. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Major Dayton reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Major Dayton also was decorated with the Silver Star (October 8, 1969) and three Distinguished Flying Crosses (10/6/1969, 12/11/1969, and 2/7/1970) for his Vietnam service. The records at Military Times show that he continued his service to our Nation and the defense of liberty into the 1980s, attaining at least the rank of Colonel, and twice receiving the Legion of Merit for outstanding service. The 22nd Special Operations Squadron is today inactive with the USAF, and has no descendant unit.

To Thomas E. Dayton, and all the brave men and women who have defended us in the skies, we say thanks.


On this day in 1933, Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment, repealing Prohibition as established by the 18th Amendment! Talk about a long national nightmare ending.

Prohibition is an interesting topic for the present day, in the case of the "war on drugs" and now-illegal products from marijuana to methamphetamine. Is continued prohibition the answer, or do we remove Federal restrictions and rely on the 10th Amendment and the laws of the states? Legalize everywhere?

With each passing day I'm becoming more libertarian on this issue and leaning towards a 10th Amendment fix. We are on safe ground when we stick to the Constitution.

Gah! Another topic to add to the list of things I'd love to write about when I have the time...

Friday, December 02, 2011

TFH 12/2: Colonel William E. Barber, USMC

William Earl Barber was born November 20, 1919 in Dehart, Kentucky. His service to our Nation began in March 1940 when he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. In 1943, he entered Officer Candidates School and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in August of that year.  He landed on Iwo Jima with the 26th Marine Regiment ("The Professionals") and received the Silver Star for bravery and a Purple Heart for wounds received.

After occupation duty in Japan, he returned to the United States in 1946 to continue his Marine Corps career. As the United States once again found itself at war in 1950, then Captain Barber was sent with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines (the "War Dogs", motto "Ready for anything, counting on nothing.") to Korea.

During the Battle of Chosin Reservoir from November 28 to December 2, 1950 in freezing, snowy weather, Captain Barber's company of  220 Marines was assaulted by no fewer than 1,400 communist attackers of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. They were defending the supply line to the rest of the 1st Marine Division; the survival of 8,000 of their comrades depended on their stand. Throughout the fight, the Marines of F Company could count on one thing: the incredible heroism and leadership of their commander.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Korean War:


Rank and organization: Captain U.S. Marine Corps, commanding officer, Company F, 2d Battalion 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.). Place and date: Chosin Reservoir area, Korea, 28 November to 2 December 1950. Entered service at: West Liberty, Ky. Born: 30 November 1919, Dehart, Ky. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of Company F in action against enemy aggressor forces. Assigned to defend a 3-mile mountain pass along the division's main supply line and commanding the only route of approach in the march from Yudam-ni to Hagaru-ri, Capt. Barber took position with his battle-weary troops and, before nightfall, had dug in and set up a defense along the frozen, snow-covered hillside. When a force of estimated regimental strength savagely attacked during the night, inflicting heavy casualties and finally surrounding his position following a bitterly fought 7-hour conflict, Capt. Barber, after repulsing the enemy gave assurance that he could hold if supplied by airdrops and requested permission to stand fast when orders were received by radio to fight his way back to a relieving force after 2 reinforcing units had been driven back under fierce resistance in their attempts to reach the isolated troops. Aware that leaving the position would sever contact with the 8,000 marines trapped at Yudam-ni and jeopardize their chances of joining the 3,000 more awaiting their arrival in Hagaru-ri for the continued drive to the sea, he chose to risk loss of his command rather than sacrifice more men if the enemy seized control and forced a renewed battle to regain the position, or abandon his many wounded who were unable to walk. Although severely wounded in the leg in the early morning of the 29th, Capt. Barber continued to maintain personal control, often moving up and down the lines on a stretcher to direct the defense and consistently encouraging and inspiring his men to supreme efforts despite the staggering opposition. Waging desperate battle throughout 5 days and 6 nights of repeated onslaughts launched by the fanatical aggressors, he and his heroic command accounted for approximately 1,000 enemy dead in this epic stand in bitter subzero weather, and when the company was relieved only 82 of his original 220 men were able to walk away from the position so valiantly defended against insuperable odds. His profound faith and courage, great personal valor, and unwavering fortitude were decisive factors in the successful withdrawal of the division from the deathtrap in the Chosin Reservoir sector and reflect the highest credit upon Capt. Barber, his intrepid officers and men, and the U.S. Naval Service.

William Barber also served our Nation in Vietnam. He retired from the Marine Corps on May 1, 1970. He died of natural causes on April 19, 2002 and rests today with so many of our Nation's heroic dead in Arlington National Cemetery.

William Earl Barber at Military Times' Hall of Valor, including his World War II citation for the Silver Star and Vietnam citation for the Legion of Merit with Combat "V".

The units of his Medal of Honor heroism still serve our great Nation today. 2nd Battalion/7th Marines is part of the 1st Marine Division.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Chuck Woolery, Patriot!

With thanks to the Larry O'Connor Show, I had no idea that Chuck Woolery was on our side and that he's produced some absolutely awesome content! A sample:

You can get the rest of his videos from his site or direct on the Save Us Chuck Woolery YouTube page. What ever you do, don't miss "Let's Tax the Amish". Enjoy, my fellow patriots!

TFH 12/1: PFC Lewis Albanese, USA

Forty-five years ago today, a 20-year old American infantryman fixed his bayonet, charged into a network of enemy defensive positions, eliminated the opposition and enabled his platoon to continue the advance against a superior force. When he ran out of ammunition, he continued to engage the enemy hand-to-hand until he succumbed to his wounds. This is the story of Lewis Albanese.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War:


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company B, 5th Battalion (Airmobile), 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division. Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 1 December 1966. Entered service at: Seattle, Wash. Born: 27 April 1946, Venice, Italy. G.O. No.: 12, 3 April 1968. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life and beyond the call of duty. Private First Class Albanese's platoon, while advancing through densely covered terrain to establish a blocking position, received intense automatic weapons fire from close range. As other members maneuvered to assault the enemy position, Private First Class Albanese was ordered to provide security for the left flank of the platoon. Suddenly, the left flank received fire from enemy located in a well-concealed ditch. Realizing the imminent danger to his comrades from this fire, Private First Class Albanese fixed his bayonet and moved aggressively into the ditch. His action silenced the sniper fire, enabling the platoon to resume movement toward the main enemy position. As the platoon continued to advance, the sound of heavy firing emanated from the left flank from a pitched battle that ensued in the ditch which Private First Class Albanese had entered. The ditch was actually a well-organized complex of enemy defenses designed to bring devastating flanking fire on the forces attacking the main position. Private First Class Albanese, disregarding the danger to himself, advanced 100 meters along the trench and killed 6 of the snipers, who were armed with automatic weapons. Having exhausted his ammunition, Private First Class Albanese was mortally wounded when he engaged and killed 2 more enemy soldiers in fierce hand-to-hand combat. His unparalleled actions saved the lives of many members of his platoon who otherwise would have fallen to the sniper fire from the ditch, and enabled his platoon to successfully advance against an enemy force of overwhelming numerical superiority. Private First Class Albanese's extraordinary heroism and supreme dedication to his comrades were commensurate with the finest traditions of the military service and remain a tribute to himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

PFC Albanese's unit, 5th Battalion/7th Cavalry is today the 5th Squadron/7th Cavalry, reconnaissance element of the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. 5/7 Cav's Vietnam Division, the 1st Cavalry Division, continues serving our nation with its four heavy brigade combat teams and other units in Fort Hood, TX.