Wednesday, November 30, 2011

TFH 11/30: PFC Charles George, USA

The US 179th Infantry Regiment (In Omina Paratus - "In All Things Prepared") has been part of the Oklahoma Army National Guard since 1921. Fifty-one years ago, the regiment as part of the 45th Infantry Division (Semper Anticus - "Always Forward") was fighting in Korea. On this day in 1950, one brave American soldier engaged the enemy hand-to-hand and then protected two of his comrades with his own body.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Korean War:


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company C, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Songnae-dong, Korea, 30 November 1952. Entered service at: Whittier, N.C. Born: 23 August 1932, Cherokee, N.C. G.O. NO.: 19, 18 March 1954. Citation: Private First Class George, a member of Company C, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy on the night of 30 November 1952. He was a member of a raiding party committed to engage the enemy and capture a prisoner for interrogation. Forging up the rugged slope of the key terrain feature, the group was subjected to intense mortar and machine gun fire and suffered several casualties. Throughout the advance, he fought valiantly and, upon reaching the crest of the hill, leaped into the trenches and closed with the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. When friendly troops were ordered to move back upon completion of the assignment, he and 2 comrades remained to cover the withdrawal. While in the process of leaving the trenches a hostile soldier hurled a grenade into their midst. Private First Class George shouted a warning to 1 comrade, pushed the other soldier out of danger, and, with full knowledge of the consequences, unhesitatingly threw himself upon the grenade, absorbing the full blast of the explosion. Although seriously wounded in this display of valor, he refrained from any outcry which would divulge the position of his companions. The 2 soldiers evacuated him to the forward aid station and shortly thereafter he succumbed to his wound. Private First Class George's indomitable courage, consummate devotion to duty, and willing self-sacrifice reflect the highest credit upon himself and uphold the finest traditions of the military service.

1st Battalion/179th Infantry (PFC George's battalion) serves today as a member of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which holds the lineage of the 45th Division. This unit, still part of the OK ARNG, has deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq in support of the War on Terror.

Site Note

It would appear that the United States Army has changed the site for Medal of Honor Citations. This is the new link!

As I am able, I will go back and correct previous embedded links in my "Finest Hour" posts.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

TFH 11/29: Staff Sergeant Robert J. Pruden, USA

Robert J. Pruden entered the United States Army in 1968. Promoted quickly, he was a member of the 75th Ranger Infantry Regiment (Airborne). On this day in 1969, his indomitable fighting spirit and courage earned for him our Nation's highest honor.


Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, 75th Infantry, Americal Division. Place and date: Quang Ngai Province, Republic of Vietnam, 29 November 1969. Entered service at: Minneapolis, Minn. Born: 9 September 1949, St. Paul, Minn. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. Pruden, Company G, distinguished himself while serving as a reconnaissance team leader during an ambush mission. The 6-man team was inserted by helicopter into enemy controlled territory to establish an ambush position and to obtain information concerning enemy movements. As the team moved into the preplanned area, S/Sgt. Pruden deployed his men into 2 groups on the opposite sides of a well used trail. As the groups were establishing their defensive positions, 1 member of the team was trapped in the open by the heavy fire from an enemy squad. Realizing that the ambush position had been compromised, S/Sgt. Pruden directed his team to open fire on the enemy force. Immediately, the team came under heavy fire from a second enemy element. S/Sgt. Pruden, with full knowledge of the extreme danger involved, left his concealed position and, firing as he ran, advanced toward the enemy to draw the hostile fire. He was seriously wounded twice but continued his attack until he fell for a third time, in front of the enemy positions. S/Sgt. Pruden's actions resulted in several enemy casualties and withdrawal of the remaining enemy force. Although grievously wounded, he directed his men into defensive positions and called for evacuation helicopters, which safely withdrew the members of the team. S/Sgt. Pruden's outstanding courage, selfless concern for the welfare of his men, and intrepidity in action 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 U.S. Army.

Robert Pruden rests today in Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, MN. The descendant of his Vietnam Era unit, the 75th Ranger Regiment (Airborne), is a key component today of our special operations forces for the War on Terror. We are forever thankful for the courage of men like Robert Pruden, and all those who serve or have served with the Rangers.

Monday, November 28, 2011

TFH 11/28: Staff Sergeant Robert S. Kennemore, USMC

On November 27, 1950 the Battle of Chosin Reservoir began. During the opening phases of the battle, one United States Marine sacrificed his body to protect the lives of his comrades. This Marine, a veteran of Guadalcanal during World War II, was Robert S. Kennemore.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Korean War:


Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, Company E, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division ( Rein ). Place and date: North of Yudam-ni, Korea, 27 and 28 November 1950. Entered service at: Greenville, S.C. Born: 21 June 1920, Greenville, S.C. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as leader of a machine gun section in Company E, in action against enemy aggressor forces. With the company's defensive perimeter overrun by a numerically superior hostile force during a savage night attack north of Yudam-ni and his platoon commander seriously wounded, S/Sgt. Kennemore unhesitatingly assumed command, quickly reorganized the unit and directed the men in consolidating the position. When an enemy grenade landed in the midst of a machine gun squad, he bravely placed his foot on the missile and, in the face of almost certain death, personally absorbed the full force of the explosion to prevent injury to his fellow marines. By his indomitable courage, outstanding leadership and selfless efforts in behalf of his comrades, S/Sgt. Kennemore was greatly instrumental in driving the enemy from the area and upheld the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. 

The Chinese Communist grenade he smothered cost him both his legs. Robert Kennemore passed away at age 68 on April 26, 1989 and rests in San Francisco National Cemetery.

Staff Sergeant Kennemore's unit, 2nd Battalion/7th Marines, still serves today with the 1st Marine Division, steadfastly defending our Nation and liberty.

Friday, November 25, 2011

TFH 11/25: 50 Years of the "Big E"

USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
We are Legend
Ready on Arrival
The First, the Finest
Eight Reactors, None Faster

Fifty years ago today, the United States Navy commissioned its first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise (CVN-65). For those fifty years, she has defended liberty in all the world's oceans. She will continue to do so for just a few more years; she is destined to be replaced by the newest American carrier, the PCU Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) by 2015.

To all the thousands of brave men and women who have manned this gallant, pioneering warship for the past half-century, a grateful America - as well as all those who cherish the defense of liberty, wherever they may be - we say thank you.

Please take a few minutes to watch this great video from the US Navy on 50 years of USS Enterprise History.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

TFH 11/23: LTJG Eugene Ralph Hanks, USNR

In late November 1943, coincidental with the attack on Tarawa, American forces also attacked and seized Makin Atoll elsewhere in the Gilbert Islands. Flying off of the USS Enterprise (CV-6), fighter squadron VF-16 supported the landings and defended the force against attacking Japanese aircraft.

On this day in 1943, one Naval Aviator led his four-plane flight into aerial combat against a superior force and shot down five or six enemy aircraft himself. Lieutenant Junior Grade Eugene Ralph Hanks, for his heroism to include five straight days - not just on November 23, 1943 - 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 Lieutenant, Junior Grade Eugene Ralph Hanks, United States Naval Reserve, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron SIXTEEN (VF-16), attached to the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE [see my note below] (CV-6), during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands Areas from 19 to 24 November 1943. Gallantly leading his four-plane combat team as part of a twelve plane air patrol intercepting a strong force of hostile aircraft on 23 November Lieutenant Hanks fought his plane boldly and with relentless determination and, although outnumbered nearly two to one, personally shot down five Japanese planes and probably another of the seventeen destroyed during the bitter engagement. Again vastly outnumbered the following day, he continued his bold tactics and, despite his disadvantageous position, directed a brilliantly executed attack to destroy ten hostile fighters and two bombers. By his outstanding ability as a leader and an airman, Lieutenant Hanks contributed materially to the success of our aerial operations in the Pacific war area, and his valiant devotion to duty in the face of overwhelming odds reflects the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.

Blogger's note: Military Times' Hall of Valor lists LTJG Hanks' ship as the USS Yorktown with an incorrect hull number of "6"; Yorktown was CV-5 and furthermore was sunk at the Battle of Midway on June 7, 1942. I have made the correction above because I believe it to be accurate. Whether or not Hanks' Navy Cross actual printed citation included the mistake I don't know.

Thanks to all of our brave Naval Aviators, past and present - and a very happy Thanksgiving to those who are currently deployed and separated from their families!

If you're ever in Pensacola, I highly recommend visiting the National Museum of Naval Aviation too!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Questions I Want to Ask

Tonight is (another) Republican Presidential Candidate debate, produced by the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, and will air on CNN. The debate is to focus on national security and foreign policy, but will necessarily branch into other topics such as the "super committee" failure.

For each of the eight candidates who will be in the debate, these are the one, single question I'd like each of them to respond to, listed alphabetically (some may have a follow-up, too):

For Representative Michele Bachmann:

Mrs. Bachmann, since you took your seat with the 110th Congress in 2007, not one single piece of original legislation that you have authored, or were the primary sponsor of, has been brought to the floor of the House for a vote, much less passed. This includes the time you have spent to date with the 112th Congress, under the leadership of your own party. What does this say to your abilities to shepherd legislation through Congress - for foreign, domestic, or national security issues - whether your party is in control or not?

For Mr. Herman Cain:

Mr. Cain, in New Hampshire on November 17th, you were quoted as saying, "Who knows every detail of every country or every situation on the planet? Nobody! We need a leader, not a reader," and, "Forget the facts, forget history, just lead!" Without a strong perspective on world and regional histories, the ability to rapidly digest the written intelligence reports you would receive as President, and contextualizing that intelligence into historical context, exactly how do you propose to lead with a consistent strategy for foreign policy?

TFH 11/22: General David Shoup, USMC

David Monroe Shoup was born in Indiana on December 30th, 1904. He served for 37 years with the United States Marine Corps, finishing his career as the 22nd Commandant.

On November 20, 1943 the United States launched Operation Galvanic - the amphibious assault on Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. The largest island of the atoll is Betio. The 2nd Marine Division's 2nd Marine Regiment was the lead assault force. Then-Colonel David Shoup had taken command of the regiment just eleven days before.

After a brief naval bombardment, our Marines stormed ashore. Their first enemy was nature; the tides had been miscalculated, meaning that there was not enough clearance for landing craft to pass over the reefs. Instead of landing on the beach, many had to slog through the surf dragging their equipment under enemy fire. Once ashore, our forces faced the most tenacious and heavily dug-in Japanese defenders yet. Throughout the battle, one man stood taller than the rest, ignored his own wounds, and led his Marines to victory.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II:


Rank and organization: Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps, commanding officer of all Marine Corps troops on Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, and Gilbert Islands, from 20 to 22 November 1943. Entered service at: Indiana. Born: 30 December 1904, Tippecanoe, Ind. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of all Marine Corps troops in action against enemy Japanese forces on Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, from 20 to 22 November 1943. Although severely shocked by an exploding enemy shell soon after landing at the pier and suffering from a serious, painful leg wound which had become infected, Col. Shoup fearlessly exposed himself to the terrific and relentless artillery, machinegun, and rifle fire from hostile shore emplacements. Rallying his hesitant troops by his own inspiring heroism, he gallantly led them across the fringing reefs to charge the heavily fortified island and reinforce our hard-pressed, thinly held lines. Upon arrival on shore, he assumed command of all landed troops and, working without rest under constant, withering enemy fire during the next 2 days, conducted smashing attacks against unbelievably strong and fanatically defended Japanese positions despite innumerable obstacles and heavy casualties. By his brilliant leadership daring tactics, and selfless devotion to duty, Col. Shoup was largely responsible for the final decisive defeat of the enemy, and his indomitable fighting spirit reflects great credit upon the U.S. Naval Service .

Our Navy and Marine Corps suffered 1,696 killed in action to seize Tarawa, but our enemy paid a much higher price. Of the approximately 4,850 defenders on the island, only 146 lived to be taken prisoner.

Throughout his career, David Shoup embodied the 2nd Marine Division's motto of "Follow Me" and the 2nd Marines' motto of "Keep Moving" - most definitely during the battle on Tarawa. Both the 2nd Marines and the 2nd Marine Division valiantly serve and defend our Nation to this day.

Monday, November 21, 2011

TFH 11/21: MN1 Cecil H. Martin, USN

On this day in 1968, 28 year-old Mineman First Class Cecil H. Martin commanded a two-boat riverine patrol in Vietnam's Mekong Delta. When the patrol came under intense enemy fire, he placed his boat between the enemy and a stricken craft, led the defense, and saved many to fight again another day. For his heroism and leadership, he received our Nation's second-highest recognition for valor: 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 Mineman First Class Cecil H. Martin, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism on the night of 21 November 1968 while serving with River Division 531, River Patrol Flotilla FIVE, Task Force 116 (TF-116), during riverine assault operations against enemy aggressor forces in the Mekong Delta region of the Republic of Vietnam. As Senior Boat Captain of a two-boat patrol, Petty Officer Martin was transiting from Rach Soi to Rach Gia, in conjunction with a concentrated patrol program adopted for the Sea Lords interdiction campaign in the lower Delta, when his patrol came under heavy enemy attack on all sides. During the initial hail of fire, his cover boat received two direct rocket hits, wounding all personnel aboard and causing the craft to veer out of control and run aground directly in front of the enemy firing positions. Petty Officer Martin ordered his coxswain to reverse course and reenter the ambush area to rescue the cover boat's crew members. As his unit approached the stricken craft, Petty Officer Martin directed effective counterfire and, placing his boat between the beleaguered craft and the blazing enemy batteries, took command of the precarious rescue effort. While affording exemplary leadership and inspiration to the members of his surprised and battered patrol element, he directed the major fire-suppression efforts of his gunners, personally manning and firing a machine gun at crucial intervals. Additionally, Petty Officer Martin rendered first aid to casualties, extinguished a fire in the beached craft, advised his commanding officer in the Naval Operations Center of the seriousness of the situation, and coordinated the transfer of wounded personnel to his unit. Through his courageous and determined fighting spirit, he succeeded in safely extracting his men, undoubtedly saving numerous lives. His great personal valor in the face of heavy and sustained enemy fire was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

All told, Cecil Martin served for 21 years in our Navy, retiring in 1979 with the rank of Lieutenant. Our Nation is forever grateful for your service and courage, and that of all the gallant sailors who have served in our Navy!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Supreme Court Math: Who Cares About Kagan?

Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway has produced a couple of good roundups on the Justice Thomas or Justice Kagan recusal questions surrounding the judicial review of Obamacare. I think that there's a much stronger case to be made for Kagan's recusal than Thomas', but I don't think it's worth us conservatives spending a lot of time arguing for her to remove herself. Why? Simple math says it is unlikely that Kagan's presence will alter the outcome.

Here's how I see it working out:

Definite NO Justices on Obamacare: Alito, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas
Definite YES Justices on Obamacare: Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, Sotomayor

That leaves Justice Kennedy. If he goes anti-Obamacare, it's a 5-4 decision we like, else a 4-5 we hate. If Kagan doesn't hear the case and Kennedy is a No, then it's a 5-3 decision we like and the only benefit is that it's a two vote margin and not one. If Kennedy is a Yes in that circumstance, it's 4-4 and Obamacare will be preserved just the same as if it was 4-5. Split courts leave the lower court decisions in force, which in this case makes for a bit of chaos because different district courts and Circuit Courts of Appeals have come to different conclusions.

If that math holds, I'll just point out that a Thomas recusal - however unlikely - would be a disaster. If it holds, it really doesn't matter if Kagan is sitting or not.

TFH 11/17: 1LT Bernard J. Ray, USA

On this day in 1944, the United States Army was engaged in intense fighting with Nazi German forces during the Battle of Hürtgen Forest. At least 12,000 valiant Americans perished in combat during the battle; we suffered around 33,000 casualties in all.

The 4th Infantry Division had been fighting on the European mainland since D-Day, June 6, 1944, when they were the first unit to hit Utah Beach at H-Hour. Their D-Day victory and service as France was liberated embodied the division's motto: Steadfast and Loyal. One of the division's regiments, the 8th Infantry, is known as the "Fighting Eagles", and aspire to satisfy their motto of Patriae Fidelis - Loyalty to Country

During the Hürtgen battle, one Fighting Eagle officer, when his unit was pinned down by intense enemy fire and defensive obstacles, sacrificed himself so that the forces of liberty could charge forward. That man was Bernard J. Ray.


Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company F, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division. Place and date: Hurtgen Forest near Schevenhutte, Germany, 17 November 1944. Entered service at: Baldwin, N.Y. Birth: Brooklyn, N.Y. G.O. No.: 115, 8 December 1945. Citation: He was platoon leader with Company F, 8th Infantry, on 17 November 1944, during the drive through the Hurtgen Forest near Schevenhutte, Germany. The American forces attacked in wet, bitterly cold weather over rough, wooded terrain, meeting brutal resistance from positions spaced throughout the forest behind minefields and wire obstacles. Small arms, machinegun, mortar, and artillery fire caused heavy casualties in the ranks when Company F was halted by a concertina-type wire barrier. Under heavy fire, 1st Lt. Ray reorganized his men and prepared to blow a path through the entanglement, a task which appeared impossible of accomplishment and from which others tried to dissuade him. With implacable determination to clear the way, he placed explosive caps in his pockets, obtained several bangalore torpedoes, and then wrapped a length of highly explosive primer cord about his body. He dashed forward under direct fire, reached the barbed wire and prepared his demolition charge as mortar shells, which were being aimed at him alone, came steadily nearer his completely exposed position. He had placed a torpedo under the wire and was connecting it to a charge he carried when he was severely wounded by a bursting mortar shell. Apparently realizing that he would fail in his self-imposed mission unless he completed it in a few moments he made a supremely gallant decision. With the primer cord still wound about his body and the explosive caps in his pocket, he completed a hasty wiring system and unhesitatingly thrust down on the handle of the charger, destroying himself with the wire barricade in the resulting blast. By the deliberate sacrifice of his life, 1st Lt. Ray enabled his company to continue its attack, resumption of which was of positive significance in gaining the approaches to the Cologne Plain. 

First Lieutenant Bernard Ray, age 23 at his death, rests in Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, NY.

Lieutenant Ray's legacy persists today. The 8th Infantry Regiment continues to defend our liberty still as part of the 4th Infantry Division, home based at Fort Carson, CO. 1st Battalion/8th Infantry is part of the division's 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team; 2/8 is part of the 2nd HBCT. The 4th ID has sent warriors to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

To all our brave fighting men and women who have lived the principles of Steadfast and Loyal and Loyalty to Country we give our eternal thanks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

TFH 11/16: Major Freeman V. Horner, USA

The fourth verse of our national anthem starts with these words:

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation.

Freeman Victor Horner was born on June 7, 1922 in Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania. He served with the 119th Infantry Regiment, part of the 30th Infantry Division in Europe during World War II. The 30th Division landed at Omaha Beach in Normandy on June 11, 1944 as a follow-on reinforcement to the invasion. By November, the division was driving into Germany. The motto of the 119th Regiment was "Undaunted". On November 16, 1944, then Staff Sergeant Freeman Horner demonstrated without any doubt what it means to live up to that motto.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II:


Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company K, 119th Infantry, 30th Infantry Division. Place and date: Wurselen, Germany, 16 November 1944. Entered service at: Shamokin, Pa. Birth: Mount Carmel, Pa. G.O. No.: 95, 30 October 1945. Citation: S/Sgt. Horner and other members of his company were attacking Wurselen, Germany, against stubborn resistance on 16 November 1944, when machinegun fire from houses on the edge of the town pinned the attackers in flat, open terrain 100 yards from their objective. As they lay in the field, enemy artillery observers directed fire upon them, causing serious casualties. Realizing that the machineguns must be eliminated in order to permit the company to advance from its precarious position, S/Sgt. Horner voluntarily stood up with his submachine gun and rushed into the teeth of concentrated fire, burdened by a heavy load of ammunition and hand grenades. Just as he reached a position of seeming safety, he was fired on by a machinegun which had remained silent up until that time. He coolly wheeled in his fully exposed position while bullets barely missed him and killed 2 hostile gunners with a single, devastating burst. He turned to face the fire of the other 2 machineguns, and dodging fire as he ran, charged the 2 positions 50 yards away. Demoralized by their inability to hit the intrepid infantryman, the enemy abandoned their guns and took cover in the cellar of the house they occupied. S/Sgt. Horner burst into the building, hurled 2 grenades down the cellar stairs, and called for the Germans to surrender. Four men gave up to him. By his extraordinary courage, S/Sgt. Horner destroyed 3 enemy machinegun positions, killed or captured 7 enemy, and cleared the path for his company's successful assault on Wurselen. 

Horner later received an officer's commission and continued to serve in our Army. He went to war again for the defense of liberty in Korea. He passed away at age 83 in Columbus, GA on December 1, 2005. He rests with so many of our Nation's honored dead in Arlington National Cemetery.

The remaining words of our anthem's fourth verse are:

Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust;"
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

The 119th Infantry Regiment was disbanded around the year 2000. The 30th Infantry Division, nicknamed "Old Hickory" in honor of Andrew Jackson, became a unit of the North Carolina Army National Guard until its deactivation on January 4, 1974. The "Old Hickory" lineage lives on in the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, part of the National Guard from both North Carolina and West Virginia. The 30th HBCT has deployed twice to Iraq, first in 2004 and again in 2009. Thanks to the brave citizen-soldiers of today, and great heroes of yesterday like Freeman Horner, we are assured that the Star-Spangled Banner will continue to wave in triumph.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Occupy Pittsburgh - Yurting for Winter

The economic miscreants at Occupy Pittsburgh are trying to settle in for the long haul over winter, assuming they don't meet the same fate as the original occupiers in NYC. They apparently have realized that tents just won't cut it for the long haul. Winter is going to hurt if they can't have some heat to sleep with. To avoid the hurt, they're going to yurt.

Yes, yurt. What is a yurt, you ask? According to a website linked by Occupy Pittsburgh, a yurt is "a circular portable shelter used by Central Asian nomads for over 2000 years, recently adapted for Western use." Our local occupiers are asking for assistance building what they're calling "hexayurts". The occupiers want them because they are "wind proof, water proof, and safe for a heater installation." They are also looking for "creative floor ideas." Somebody evidently suggested that wooden pallets would be good, except that if they used pallets with spaces - i.e. most such items - "We may help the rats make a nest for winter." Glad they're worried about that. Plague and other rat-borne diseases can be a real bitch, particularly if you only have a tent and not a yurt to convalesce in. So then, what do our occupiers need to construct their yurts?

Before we get into materials, let's take a look at the occupiers' principles. The Occupy Pittsburgh General Assembly adopted the original Occupy Wall Street statement of purpose on October 12, 2011, no doubt with very fervent "up twinkles". Here's some of the things they stand against:

  • They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity...
  • They have poisoned the food supply through negligence...
  • They have spent millions of dollars...[to] look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance...
  • They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil...
  • They continue to block generic forms of medicine...
  • They continue to create weapons of mass destruction...

You get the drift. I excerpted the above because they speak to hypocrisy of the occupiers, for, what does it take to build a yurt?

TFH 11/15: Ace of Aces

Richard Ira Bong was born September 24, 1920 in Superior, WI. When he entered the US Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Program in 1941, one of his flight instructors was Barry Goldwater, later a distinguished US Senator and conservative icon. Bong received his wings and a commission as a Second Lieutenant on January 9, 1942 as America's direct involvement in World War II began.

Bong flew all of his missions in the Lockheed P-38 Lightning against Japan in the Pacific campaigns. While serving as a gunnery instructor from October 10-November 15, 1944, he repeatedly volunteered for combat missions and shot down eight enemy aircraft over both Borneo and Leyte in the Philippines. For his courage and tenacity in the air, he received our Nation's highest honor:

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II:

BONG, RICHARD I. (Air Mission)

Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Army Air Corps. Place and date: Over Borneo and Leyte, 10 October to 15 November 1944. Entered service at: Poplar, Wis. Birth: Poplar, Wis. G.O. No.: 90, 8 December 1944. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty in the Southwest Pacific area from 10 October to 15 November 1944. Though assigned to duty as gunnery instructor and neither required nor expected to perform combat duty, Maj. Bong voluntarily and at his own urgent request engaged in repeated combat missions, including unusually hazardous sorties over Balikpapan, Borneo, and in the Leyte area of the Philippines. His aggressiveness and daring resulted in his shooting down 8 enemy airplanes during this period.

It's a rare occurrence indeed, but Richard Bong's Medal of Honor citation doesn't even come close to recognizing the amazing ability of this courageous airman. He was first recognized for his flying skills in late 1942 when he shot down his first two planes in December 1942, earning the first of his two Silver Star Medals

In July 1943, he shot down four Japanese fighers over Lae in New Guinea, earning him the Distinguished Service Cross, one notch below the Medal of Honor.

By April 1944, Bong was credited with 27 aerial victories making him the greatest air ace in US history, surpassing the 26 kills of fellow Medal of Honor recipient Eddie Rickenbacker in World War I. By January 1945, Richard Bong's victory total stood at no less than 40 enemy planes destroyed. In addition to the decorations already listed, he also earned seven Distinguished Flying Crosses and fourteen Air Medals for his incredible exploits in the skies. Now, a well-known national hero, he returned home Stateside and participated in numerous PR appearances to help the war effort on the home front.

Eager to get back into the air, he became a test pilot later in 1945. He was assigned to work with Lockheed on the United States' first jet fighter, the P-80 Shooting Star. On August 6, 1945 - the same day the final act of World War II began with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima - Bong was killed in his P-80 when the fuel pump malfunctioned. His death received co-top billing with the atom bomb in many newspapers.

The two units that Bong flew with for most of his time in the Pacific, the 35th Fighter Group and the 49th Fighter Group, still are active with the United States Air Force today. The 35th Operations Group is now the flying arm of the 35th Fighter Wing. They fly General Dynamics F-16CJ Fighting Falcons tasked for enemy air defense suppression out of Misawa Air Base in Japan. The 49th Operations Group flies America's newest fighter, the F-22A Raptor, with the 49th Fighter Wing at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.

I'm sure that today's airmen in those units carry on the tradition of excellence in the skies that Richard Bong so most definitely embodied. Major Richard Bong rests today near the place of his birth in Poplar, WI.

Monday, November 14, 2011

TFH 11/14: The Ia Drang Three

Forty-six years ago today, the first major battle between the United States Army and the People's Army of Vietnam (North Vietnamese Army) was fought in the Ia Drang Valley. Three courageous Americans distinguished themselves above and beyond all the valiant warriors that day: Bruce P. Crandall, Ed W. Freeman, and Walter Joseph Marm, Jr.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War (3rd of 3 Citations):


Rank and Organization: Major, U.S. Army, Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Place and dates: Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam, 14 November 1965. Place and date of birth: Olympia, Washington, 1933. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Major Bruce P. Crandall distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism as a Flight Commander in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). On 14 November 1965, his flight of sixteen helicopters was lifting troops for a search and destroy mission from Plei Me, Vietnam, to Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley. On the fourth troop lift, the airlift began to take enemy fire, and by the time the aircraft had refueled and returned for the next troop lift, the enemy had Landing Zone X-Ray targeted. As Major Crandall and the first eight helicopters landed to discharge troops on his fifth troop lift, his unarmed helicopter came under such intense enemy fire that the ground commander ordered the second flight of eight aircraft to abort their mission. As Major Crandall flew back to Plei Me, his base of operations, he determined that the ground commander of the besieged infantry batallion desperately needed more ammunition. Major Crandall then decided to adjust his base of operations to Artillery Firebase Falcon in order to shorten the flight distance to deliver ammunition and evacuate wounded soldiers. While medical evacuation was not his mission, he immediately sought volunteers and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, led the two aircraft to Landing Zone X-Ray. Despite the fact that the landing zone was still under relentless enemy fire, Major Crandall landed and proceeded to supervise the loading of seriously wounded soldiers aboard his aircraft. Major Crandall's voluntary decision to land under the most extreme fire instilled in the other pilots the will and spirit to continue to land their own aircraft, and in the ground forces the realization that they would be resupplied and that friendly wounded would be promptly evacuated. This greatly enhanced morale and the will to fight at a critical time. After his first medical evacuation, Major Crandall continued to fly into and out of the landing zone throughout the day and into the evening. That day he completed a total of 22 flights, most under intense enemy fire, retiring from the battlefield only after all possible service had been rendered to the Infantry battalion. His actions provided critical resupply of ammunition and evacuation of the wounded. Major Crandall's daring acts of bravery and courage in the face of an overwhelming and determined enemy are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army. 


Captain Ed W. Freeman, United States Army, of Boise, Idaho, who distinguished himself by numerous acts of conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary intrepidity on 14 November 1965 while serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). As a flight leader and second in command of a 16-helicopter lift unit, he supported a heavily engaged American infantry battalion at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam. The unit was almost out of ammunition after taking some of the heaviest casualties of the war, fighting off a relentless attack from a highly motivated, heavily armed enemy force. When the infantry commander closed the helicopter landing zone because of intense direct enemy fire, Captain Freeman risked his life by flying his unarmed helicopter through a gauntlet of enemy fire time after time, delivering critically needed ammunition, water, and medical supplies to the besieged battalion. His flights, by providing the engaged units with supplies of ammunition critical to their survival, directly affected the battle's outcome. Without them the units would almost surely have gone down, with much greater loss of life. After medical evacuation helicopters refused to fly into the area because of intense enemy fire, Captain Freeman flew 14 separate rescue missions, providing lifesaving evacuation of an estimated 30 seriously wounded soldiers-some of whom would not have survived had he not acted. All flights were made into a small emergency landing zone within 100 to 200 meters of the defensive perimeter, where heavily committed units were perilously holding off the attacking elements. Captain Freeman's selfless acts of great valor and extraordinary perseverance were far above and beyond the call of duty or mission and set a superb example of leadership and courage for all of his peers. Captain Freeman's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.


Rank and organization: First Lieutenant (then 2d Lt.), U.S. Army, Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). place and date: Vicinity of la Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam, 14 November 1965. Entered service at: pittsburgh, pa. Born: 20 November 1941, Washington, pa. G.O. No.: 7, 15 February 1967. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. As a platoon leader in the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), 1st Lt. Marm demonstrated indomitable courage during a combat operation. His company was moving through the valley to relieve a friendly unit surrounded by an enemy force of estimated regimental size. 1st Lt. Marm led his platoon through withering fire until they were finally forced to take cover. Realizing that his platoon could not hold very long, and seeing four enemy soldiers moving into his position, he moved quickly under heavy fire and annihilated all 4. Then, seeing that his platoon was receiving intense fire from a concealed machine gun, he deliberately exposed himself to draw its fire. Thus locating its position, he attempted to destroy it with an antitank weapon. Although he inflicted casualties, the weapon did not silence the enemy fire. Quickly, disregarding the intense fire directed on him and his platoon, he charged 30 meters across open ground, and hurled grenades into the enemy position, killing some of the 8 insurgents manning it. Although severely wounded, when his grenades were expended, armed with only a rifle, he continued the momentum of his assault on the position and killed the remainder of the enemy. 1st Lt. Marm's selfless actions reduced the fire on his platoon, broke the enemy assault, and rallied his unit to continue toward the accomplishment of this mission. 1st Lt. Marm's gallantry on the battlefield and his extraordinary intrepidity at the risk of his life are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country. 

Their unit, the 1st Cavalry Division, still defends our nation today and has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Battle of Ia Drang was dramatized in the movie We Were Soldiers. It's a very well done movie, and I strongly encourage all readers to get a copy of the source book, We Were Soldiers Once...and Young: Ia Drang - the Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

TFH 11/12: Two Tough 'Ombres

In November 1944, the 90th Infantry Division - known as the "Tough 'Ombres" since they were formerly called the "Texas-Oklahoma" division - fought in Europe as part of the XX Corps under General George S. Patton's Third Army.

On this day, November 12, 1944, two 90th Division soldiers exemplified what it means to go "above and beyond the call of duty" and received our Nation's highest honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (second reference):


Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company H, 359th Infantry, 90th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Kerling, France, 12 November 1944. Entered service at: Texas City, Tex. Birth: Bainbridge, Ohio. G.O. No.: 77, 10 September 1945. Citation: He commanded a platoon that bore the brunt of a desperate enemy counterattack near Korling, France, before dawn on 12 November 1944. When German tanks and self-propelled guns penetrated his left flank and overwhelming infantry forces threatened to overrun the 1 remaining machinegun in that section, he ran 400 yards through woods churned by artillery and mortar concentrations to strengthen the defense. With the 1 remaining gunner, he directed furious fire into the advancing hordes until they swarmed close to the position. He left the gun, boldly charged the attackers and, after a 15-minute exchange of hand grenades, forced them to withdraw leaving 30 dead behind. He re-crossed the fire-swept terrain to his then threatened right flank, exhorted his men and directed murderous fire from the single machinegun at that position. There, in the light of bursting mortar shells, he again closed with the enemy in a hand grenade duel and, after a fierce 30-minute battle, forced the Germans to withdraw leaving another 20 dead. The gallantry and intrepidity of T/Sgt. Everhart in rallying his men and refusing to fall back in the face of terrible odds were highly instrumental in repelling the fanatical enemy counterattack directed at the American bridgehead across the Moselle River.


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company L, 357th Infantry, 90th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Thionville, France, 12 November 1944. Entered service at: Howard, Pa. Birth: Marsh Creek, Pa. G.O. No.: 89, 19 October 1945. Citation: He displayed conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty in combat on 12 November 1944, near Thionville, France. During an attack on strong hostile forces entrenched on a hill he fearlessly ran up the steep approach toward his objective and set up his machinegun 20 yards from the enemy. Realizing it would be necessary to attract full attention of the dug-in Germans while his company crossed an open area and flanked the enemy, he picked up his gun, charged through withering machinegun and rifle fire to the very edge of the emplacement, and there killed 12 German soldiers with devastating close-range fire. He took up a position behind a log and engaged the hostile infantry from the flank in an heroic attempt to distract their attention while his comrades attained their objective at the crest of the hill. He was killed by the very heavy concentration of return fire; but his fearless assault enabled his company to sweep the hill with minimum of casualties, killing or capturing every enemy soldier on it. Pfc. Sayers' indomitable fighting spirit, aggressiveness, and supreme devotion to duty live on as an example of the highest traditions of the military service. 

Our Nation is forever in the debt of our fighting men and women, particularly those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and those who have exhibited the utmost of valor.

Who next, Penn State?

I watched most of the emotional return to the field of Penn State Football today. The Nittany Lions dealt with the pressure, and nearly staged a late-game comeback, but ultimately lost to Nebraska, 17-14.

I didn't attend Penn State, but I am a fan. Didn't have much choice, as my college roommate was one, and I started cheering for them for good in 1994 with the awesome offensive juggernaut featuring Kerry Collins, Ki-Jana Carter, Bobby Engram, and Kyle Brady. I'm still having a hard time consolidating all my thoughts on the scandal and tragedy surrounding the (alleged) actions of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

Interim head coach Tom Bradley is in an impossible position. He is holding his dream job right now - he certainly would have been one of the most likely candidates if Joe Paterno had left the head coach's position under normal circumstances - and it is most likely impossible that he will be retained after the season ends. Coach Bradley succeeded Sandusky as the defensive coordinator and was one of Sandusky's assistants for the preceding 19 years. He is inexorably linked with both Paterno and Sandusky; if the university is going to make a clean sweep, the remaining games of this season will be the beginning and end of his head coaching career with the university.

I think they should sweep out the football program at PSU and start anew. So long as there are any individuals remaining with the team's staff who worked during the Sandusky timeframe or aftermath, there will be questions that the university shouldn't have to deal with once this tragedy is brought to an end (with recognition that for the victims, it may never end). What does PSU need as a new head coach?

  1. Someone untainted by association or employ with Jerry Sandusky or Joe Paterno.
  2. Someone who can "follow a legend" without someone questioning his worthiness to take the place of one of college football's greatest coaches (sticking to football, set the other things aside for now).
  3. Someone of national prominence who can help repair the university's damaged reputation and return legitimacy in the eyes of recruits and their parents.
  4. Someone who can handle both the role of players' mentor as well as players' disciplinarian.
  5. Finally, someone who is one heck of a football coach.

I think there is only one person who fits the bill for Penn State: William Laird Cowher.

Bill Cowher has been enjoying his TV gig since retiring from coaching the Pittsburgh Steelers. He's the hot name for every NFL head coach job, but hasn't shown any interest in going back to the sidelines in the pros. Going into next season he'd be just 55 years old, one year younger than Tom Bradley. He'd bring instantaneous respect to a damaged program. He'd command attention in recruiting from the nation's best high school footballers. He had no problems following the legendary Chuck Knoll as coach of the Steelers.

I'm not surprised at this point that Cowher hasn't gone back to the NFL. I've thought since he passed up the first couple of NFL head coaching opportunities pitched to him that if he does return to the sidelines, it will be in college. I'm sure he'd love to go to his alma mater of NC State, but they seem pretty set with a coach for now. If Penn State should call, I'd be stunned if he didn't consider it very seriously.

Here's to hoping that Pennsylvania State University pulls out all the stops to make Bill Cowher their next football coach. It will go a long way to healing wounds, and making Happy Valley happy again.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

For 236 Years...

The Few, The Proud. Thank you to all the Marines past, present, and future who have defended our Liberty, protected our National honor, and showed the entire world what America stands for. Happy 236th birthday!

Both of these USMC recruiting commercials are from the post-9/11 world. They remind us what serving in our military is supposed to be about - preparing for waging and winning war. Today's the Marines' day. Tomorrow is Veterans' Day.

Every day, we should all thank God with all our hearts for the warriors who defend us.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

TFH 11/9: Two Soldiers, Two Flyers, Four Heroes

For November 9th, Their Finest Hour honors and commemorates the acts of four courageous American warriors - two pairs of individuals; three of whom gave their lives in service to our Nation.

On November 9, 1918, there were less than two days left of fighting to World War I. Our soldiers, not knowing that the end of war was imminent, continued to press forward. Two soldiers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 356th Infantry Regiment volunteered to swim the Meuse River on a reconnaissance mission. Only one returned.


Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, Company A, 356th Infantry, 89th Division. Place and date: Near Pouilly, France, 9 November 1918. Entered service at: San Antonio, Tex. Birth: Laredo, Tex. G.O. No.: 20, W.D., 1919. Citation: When information was desired as to the enemy's position on the opposite side of the Meuse River, Pvt. Barkeley, with another soldier, volunteered without hesitation and swam the river to reconnoiter the exact location. He succeeded in reaching the opposite bank, despite the evident determination of the enemy to prevent a crossing. Having obtained his information, he again entered the water for his return, but before his goal was reached, he was seized with cramps and drowned. 


Rank and organization: Sergeant (then Private First Class), U.S. Army, Company A, 356th Infantry, 89th Division. Place and date: Near Pouilly, France, 9 November 1918. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Birth: Kendell, Kans. C O. No.: 20, W.D., 1919. Citation: When information was desired as to the enemy's position on the opposite side of the Meuse River, Sgt. Johnston, with another soldier, volunteered without hesitation and swam the river to reconnoiter the exact location of the enemy. He succeeded in reaching the opposite bank, despite the evident determination of the enemy to prevent a crossing. Having obtained his information, he again entered the water for his return. This was accomplished after a severe struggle which so exhausted him that he had to be assisted from the water, after which he rendered his report of the exploit.

Private David Barkley (Wikipedia notes the misspelling of his name) is credited as the first person of Hispanic descent to receive the Medal of Honor.

Twenty-six years later in 1944, First Lieutenant Donald J. Gott and Second Lieutenant William E. Metzger, Jr. piloted a B-17 Flying Fortress on a raid against Saarbrucken, Germany. Before reaching the target, their bomber was struck and heavily damaged by anti-aircraft artillery. Nonetheless, Lieutenants Gott and Metzger dropped their bombs on target and then did everything possible to save the lives of their crew.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

TFH 11/8: Sp6c Lawrence Joel, USA

The fall of 1965 saw America's entry into combat in Vietnam. Lawrence Joel served in the US Merchant Marine for a year, and then enlisted in the United States Army in 1948. He served our nation during the Korean War, and then was part of one of the first units sent to Vietnam. On this day in 1965, he exemplified the best America has to offer. When his unit was ambushed by a Viet Cong force with 6-to-1 superiority, he ignored his own personal safety and the multiple wounds he suffered to care for the wounded that surrounded him.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War:


Rank and organization: Specialist Sixth Class (then Sp5c), U.S. Army, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry, 173d Airborne Brigade. Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 8 November 1965, Entered service at: New York City, N.Y. G.O. No.: 15, 5 April 1967. Born: 22 February 1928, Winston-Salem, N.C. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp6c. Joel demonstrated indomitable courage, determination, and professional skill when a numerically superior and well-concealed Viet Cong element launched a vicious attack which wounded or killed nearly every man in the lead squad of the company. After treating the men wounded by the initial burst of gunfire, he bravely moved forward to assist others who were wounded while proceeding to their objective. While moving from man to man, he was struck in the right leg by machine gun fire. Although painfully wounded his desire to aid his fellow soldiers transcended all personal feeling. He bandaged his own wound and self-administered morphine to deaden the pain enabling him to continue his dangerous undertaking. Through this period of time, he constantly shouted words of encouragement to all around him. Then, completely ignoring the warnings of others, and his pain, he continued his search for wounded, exposing himself to hostile fire; and, as bullets dug up the dirt around him, he held plasma bottles high while kneeling completely engrossed in his life saving mission. Then, after being struck a second time and with a bullet lodged in his thigh, he dragged himself over the battlefield and succeeded in treating 13 more men before his medical supplies ran out. Displaying resourcefulness, he saved the life of 1 man by placing a plastic bag over a severe chest wound to congeal the blood. As 1 of the platoons pursued the Viet Cong, an insurgent force in concealed positions opened fire on the platoon and wounded many more soldiers. With a new stock of medical supplies, Sp6c. Joel again shouted words of encouragement as he crawled through an intense hail of gunfire to the wounded men. After the 24 hour battle subsided and the Viet Cong dead numbered 410, snipers continued to harass the company. Throughout the long battle, Sp6c. Joel never lost sight of his mission as a medical aidman and continued to comfort and treat the wounded until his own evacuation was ordered. His meticulous attention to duty saved a large number of lives and his unselfish, daring example under most adverse conditions was an inspiration to all. Sp6c. Joel's profound concern for his fellow soldiers, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country. 

When he received his Medal of Honor from President Lyndon Johnson on March 9, 1967, he became the first living African-American recipient of the award since the Spanish-American War in 1898. Joel Lawrence retired from the Army with the rank of Sergeant First Class in 1973. He passed away from diabetes complications in 1984, and rests in Arlington National Cemetery.

His unit, the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry, continues to defend liberty today as part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. They are forward-deployed in Vincenza, Italy, and have fought with distinction in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Monday, November 07, 2011

TFH 11/7: Specialist 4th Class Robert F. Stryker, USA

On this day in 1967, an American soldier smothered a mine to save the lives of six of his comrades. 

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War:


Rank and organization: Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army, Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Loc Ninh, Republic of Vietnam, 7 November 1967. Entered service at: Throop, N.Y. Born: 9 November 1944, Auburn, N.Y. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4c. Stryker, U.S. Army, distinguished himself while serving with Company C. Sp4c. Stryker was serving as a grenadier in a multicompany reconnaissance in force near Loc Ninh. As his unit moved through the dense underbrush, it was suddenly met with a hail of rocket, automatic weapons and small arms fire from enemy forces concealed in fortified bunkers and in the surrounding trees. Reacting quickly, Sp4c. Stryker fired into the enemy positions with his grenade launcher. During the devastating exchange of fire, Sp4c. Stryker detected enemy elements attempting to encircle his company and isolate it from the main body of the friendly force. Undaunted by the enemy machinegun and small-arms fire, Sp4c. Stryker repeatedly fired grenades into the trees, killing enemy snipers and enabling his comrades to sever the attempted encirclement. As the battle continued, Sp4c. Stryker observed several wounded members of his squad in the killing zone of an enemy claymore mine. With complete disregard for his safety, he threw himself upon the mine as it was detonated. He was mortally wounded as his body absorbed the blast and shielded his comrades from the explosion. His unselfish actions were responsible for saving the lives of at least 6 of his fellow soldiers. Sp4c. Stryker's great personal bravery was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army. 

Robert Stryker was killed two days before his 23rd birthday. He rests today in Pine Hill Cemetery, Throop, NY. Sp4c. Stryker's memory lives on every day in the present United States Army. Our Army's Stryker armored fighting vehicles - named also for Medal of Honor recipient Stuart S. Stryker (WW2, 3/24/1945) - have been in service for over ten years and now equip eight of the Army's Brigade Combat Teams. These fighting vehicles have proven their worth to our Army warriors in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

TFH 11/5: Corporal Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr., USA

Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr., a member of the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) Native American Tribe, was born in Wisconsin on July 2, 1924. At age 17 in 1941, he entered the United States Marine Corps and served our Nation throughout World War II, leaving uniform in 1945.

In 1948, he answered America's call again, this time in the United States Army. 1950 saw Mitchell Red Cloud thrust back into combat in Korea. As the forces of liberty beat back the communist Chinese and North Koreans, he found himself right at the point of an enemy surprise attack near his unit's command post, with just him, his Browning Automatic Rifle, and incredible fighting spirit and courage between the enemy and their objective.

This was sixty-one years ago today.


Rank and organization: Corporal, U S. Army, Company E, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Chonghyon, Korea, 5 November 1950. Entered service at: Merrilan Wis. Born: 2 July 1924, Hatfield, Wis. G.O. No.: 26, 25 April 1951. Citation: Cpl. Red Cloud, Company E, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. From his position on the point of a ridge immediately in front of the company command post he was the first to detect the approach of the Chinese Communist forces and give the alarm as the enemy charged from a brush-covered area less than 100 feet from him. Springing up he delivered devastating pointblank automatic rifle fire into the advancing enemy. His accurate and intense fire checked this assault and gained time for the company to consolidate its defense. With utter fearlessness he maintained his firing position until severely wounded by enemy fire. Refusing assistance he pulled himself to his feet and wrapping his arm around a tree continued his deadly fire again, until he was fatally wounded. This heroic act stopped the enemy from overrunning his company's position and gained time for reorganization and evacuation of the wounded. Cpl. Red Cloud's dauntless courage and gallant self-sacrifice reflects the highest credit upon himself and upholds the esteemed traditions of the U.S. Army. 

Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr. rests in Decorah Cemetery, Black River Falls, Wisconsin.

The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 19th Infantry Regiment serve in our Army to this day. They are part of the 198th Infantry Brigade at Fort Benning, GA. The 198th Brigade's role is to transform civilians into soldiers - citizens into warriors. The 19th's regimental motto of "Rock Steady, Rock Force" fits this role well, and is certainly exemplified by Red Cloud's stand in 1950. One of the main present day US Army facilities in the Republic of Korea is named for him.

The Marine Corps also honors this great American for his World War II service with them. The USMC's Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 6 from Camp Lejeune, NC is nicknamed the "Red Cloud Battalion". CLB-6 is presently serving in Afghanistan. May they all come home safely!

In 2000, the vehicle cargo ship USNS Red Cloud (T-AKR-313) entered service with the Military Sealift Command. She has transported equipment to our fighing men and women since entering service, and will continue to do so for the next several decades.

Thanks for taking a few minutes on a Saturday for honoring a great American hero, and please keep all of our present day service members in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, November 04, 2011

TFH 11/4: Corporal Lee H. Phillips, USMC

Sixty-one years ago today, one Marine rifle squad leader stayed at the front of his men and led the charge against a heavily defended hilltop. For his leadership and courage, he received our Nation's highest honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Korean War:


Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Company E, 2d Battalion, 7 Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.). Place and date: Korea, 4 November 1950. Entered service at: Ben Hill, Ga. Born: 3 February 1930, Stockbridge, Ga. Cpl. Phillips was killed in action 27 November 1950. 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 of Company E, in action against enemy aggressor forces. Assuming the point position in the attack against a strongly defended and well-entrenched numerically superior enemy force occupying a vital hill position which had been unsuccessfully assaulted on 5 separate occasions by units of the Marine Corps and other friendly forces, Cpl. Phillips fearlessly led his men in a bayonet charge up the precipitous slope under a deadly hail of hostile mortar, small-arms, and machine gun fire. Quickly rallying his squad when it was pinned down by a heavy and accurate mortar barrage, he continued to lead his men through the bombarded area and, although only 5 members were left in the casualty ridden unit, gained the military crest of the hill where he was immediately subjected to an enemy counterattack. Although greatly outnumbered by an estimated enemy squad, Cpl. Phillips boldly engaged the hostile force with handgrenades and rifle fire and, exhorting his gallant group of marines to follow him, stormed forward to completely overwhelm the enemy. With only 3 men now left in his squad, he proceeded to spearhead an assault on the last remaining strongpoint which was defended by 4 of the enemy on a rocky and almost inaccessible portion of the hill position. Using 1 hand to climb up the extremely hazardous precipice, he hurled grenades with the other and, with 2 remaining comrades, succeeded in annihilating the pocket of resistance and in consolidating the position. Immediately subjected to a sharp counterattack by an estimated enemy squad, he skillfully directed the fire of his men and employed his own weapon with deadly effectiveness to repulse the numerically superior hostile force. By his valiant leadership, indomitable fighting spirit and resolute determination in the face of heavy odds, Cpl. Phillips served to inspire all who observed him and was directly responsible for the destruction of the enemy stronghold. His great personal valor reflects the highest credit upon himself and enhances and sustains the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. 

As the citation notes, Corporal Phillips was killed in action on November 27, 1950. He rests today in Marietta National Cemetery, Marietta, GA. His unit, 2nd Battalion/7th Marines, serves our Nation presently as part of the deployed 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. The crest of 2/7 Marines reads "Ready for All, Yielding to None" - if that isn't Lee Phillips' legacy, I don't know what is.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Cain's Amateur Hour

I'm a big fan of non-politicians seeking political office. I'd love to support Herman Cain. If he winds up being the GOP nominee, I'll vote for him. But, I'm troubled - no, make that VERY troubled - about what his campaign could indicate about a Cain Presidency:

First, there's the problems with and false characterizations of Mr. Cain's 999 Plan.

Second, there's Mr. Cain's lack of cohesion in answering questions regarding his pro-life beliefs.

Now, we've got the sexual harassment kerfuffle. POLITICO, as I'm sure you know by now, broke the story that Mr. Cain was accused by at least two women of inappropriate behavior.

Since then, Mr. Cain has offered a variety of denials and a variety of details that are, at times, contradictory. Then his campaign chief of staff, Mark "Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em" Block, last night came out on Fox News and blamed - by name - current Rick Perry staffer Curt Anderson for leaking the story. Mr. Anderson was a former staffer for Cain during his 2004 Senate campaign. Then today, Mr. Block - also on Fox News - backed away from the accusation of Mr. Anderson. Now just within the last hour or so, I heard with my own ears, Herman Cain himself accuse Curt Anderson again on the Sean Hannity radio program.

Does anybody in the Cain camp know what they're doing, or for that matter, what anybody else in the camp is doing?

Right now, the best argument against Mr. Cain is that his campaign has shown abysmal crisis management skills. How can this do anything but reflect poorly on Mr. Cain's own characterizations of himself as a "problem solver"? I find myself wondering how he managed to be a success in business when:

He hasn't been able to handle questions succinctly - particularly on issues he had to have known that he'd be asked about, like abortion.

His campaign had ten days forewarning from the POLITICO reporters on the sexual harassment story and they couldn't even come up with a consistent "no comment" or "baseless accusation" reply that the candidate himself could stick to, much less have a consistent message from the campaign as a whole.

He's made verbal missteps such as characterizing the People's Republic of China as "trying to develop nuclear capability", when they've had nuclear weapons since the mid-1960s.

I think Herman Cain has a great life story. I am wholly inclined to call the sexual harassment charges a load of BS until there's some actual evidence or eyewitnesses on the table. If he expects to actually contend to be President of the United States though, he's got a whole lot of work to do.

And he doesn't have much time to get ready; the one-on-one debate "Lincoln/Douglas"-style with Newt Gingrich on Saturday could finish him.

TFH 11/3: Captain Marcellus H. Chiles, USA

Unbeknownst to the soldiers fighting, the "Great War" only had eight days left to its horrors this day in 1918. One young American officer from Colorado, 23-year old Marcellus H. Chiles, led his battalion forward and placed the lives of his men above his own.


Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Army, 356th Infantry, 89th Division. Place and date: Near Le Champy Bas, France, 3 November 1918. Entered service at: Denver, Colo. Birth: Eureka Springs, Ark. G.O. No.: 20, W.D., 1919. Citation: When his battalion, of which he had just taken command, was halted by machinegun fire from the front and left flank, he picked up the rifle of a dead soldier and, calling on his men to follow led the advance across a stream, waist deep, in the face of the machinegun fire. Upon reaching the opposite bank this gallant officer was seriously wounded in the abdomen by a sniper, but before permitting himself to be evacuated he made complete arrangements for turning over his command to the next senior officer, and under the inspiration of his fearless leadership his battalion reached its objective. Capt. Chiles died shortly after reaching the hospital. 

Captain Chiles died on November 5. He rests today with 14,245 of his comrades - 486 of those unknown but to God - in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial near Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France.

Raja for Allegheny County Executive

Last night (11/2) I had the honor of attending a town hall-style campaign meeting of D. Raja ("Raja"), a local Allegheny County entrepreneur and CEO who is the Republican candidate for Allegheny County Executive in next Tuesday's (11/8) election. I wholeheartedly and enthusiastically support Raja's candidacy.

Raja is an immigrant to our great Nation. His success is proof of the American Dream: hard work and perseverance will lead to success. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1989 and from my alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University, with an MBA (with honors) in 2001.

Raja has published policy position papers in eight key areas that our county government must improve. I encourage my readers to check them all out via the link. The eight areas are:

  • Jobs
  • Taxes, Regulations & Fees
  • Port Authority/Mass Transit
  • Modernizing Government
  • Fostering Innovation
  • Pittsburgh International Airport Plan
  • Education
  • Senior Citizens

Here are my take-aways from Raja's policy positions, and the core of why I support him.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

TFH 11/2: Major Raymond H. Wilkins, USAAC

In November 1943, Major Raymond H. Wilkins commanded the 8th Bombardment Squadron of the US Army Air Corps' 3rd Attack Group. They flew the North American B-25 Mitchell medium bomber. On this day of that year, Major Wilkins led his squadron on an attack against Japanese shipping. Their unit was the last to attack, their targets obscured by fire and smoke, and the enemy's antiaircraft gunners were fully alerted. Into this inferno flew Major Raymond Wilkins, and America gained a true hero of the skies.


Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Army Air Corps. Place and date: Near Rabaul, New Britain, 2 November 1943. Entered service at: Portsmouth, Va. Born: 28 September 1917, Portsmouth, Va. G.O. No.: 23, 24 March 1944. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy near Rabaul, New Britain, on 2 November 1943. Leading his squadron in an attack on shipping in Simpson Harbor, during which intense antiaircraft fire was expected, Maj. Wilkins briefed his squadron so that his airplane would be in the position of greatest risk. His squadron was the last of 3 in the group to enter the target area. Smoke from bombs dropped by preceding aircraft necessitated a last-second revision of tactics on his part, which still enabled his squadron to strike vital shipping targets, but forced it to approach through concentrated fire, and increased the danger of Maj. Wilkins' left flank position. His airplane was hit almost immediately, the right wing damaged, and control rendered extremely difficult. Although he could have withdrawn, he held fast and led his squadron into the attack. He strafed a group of small harbor vessels, and then, at low level, attacked an enemy destroyer. His 1,000 pound bomb struck squarely amidships, causing the vessel to explode. Although antiaircraft fire from this vessel had seriously damaged his left vertical stabilizer, he refused to deviate from the course. From below-masthead height he attacked a transport of some 9,000 tons, scoring a hit which engulfed the ship in flames. Bombs expended, he began to withdraw his squadron. A heavy cruiser barred the path. Unhesitatingly, to neutralize the cruiser s guns and attract its fire, he went in for a strafing run. His damaged stabilizer was completely shot off. To avoid swerving into his wing planes he had to turn so as to expose the belly and full wing surfaces of his plane to the enemy fire; it caught and crumpled his left wing. Now past control, the bomber crashed into the sea. In the fierce engagement Maj. Wilkins destroyed 2 enemy vessels, and his heroic self-sacrifice made possible the safe withdrawal of the remaining planes of his squadron. 

The US Army Air Corps, of course, became today's United States Air Force. Major Wilkins' units still serve our Nation to this day. The 8th Bombardment Squadron is now known as the 8th Special Operations Squadron, part of the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, FL. The 3rd Attack Group's present-day descendant is the 3rd Operations Group of the 3rd Wing, located at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.

The bodies of Major Wilkins and his crew were never recovered. They rest today, like so many courageous Americans, on the field of battle where they gave their lives for us. They will all continue to live in the hearts of those who cherish the freedom and liberty men like Raymond H. Wilkins so courageously protected.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

TFH 11/1 Special: Awesome Airmanship

Awesome job by the LOT Airlines pilots who put their Boeing 767 down on the runway in Poland this morning with no landing gear. All survived! Video from Fox News:

TFH 11/1: Sergeant Robert Allen Owens, USMC


Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 13 September 1920, Greenville, S.C. Accredited to: South Carolina. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with a marine division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during extremely hazardous landing operations at Cape Torokina, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, on 1 November 1943. Forced to pass within disastrous range of a strongly protected, well-camouflaged Japanese 75-mm. regimental gun strategically located on the beach, our landing units were suffering heavy losses in casualties and boats while attempting to approach the beach, and the success of the operations was seriously threatened. Observing the ineffectiveness of marine rifle and grenade attacks against the incessant, devastating fire of the enemy weapon and aware of the urgent need for prompt action, Sgt. Owens unhesitatingly determined to charge the gun bunker from the front and, calling on 4 of his comrades to assist him, carefully placed them to cover the fire of the 2 adjacent hostile bunkers. Choosing a moment that provided a fair opportunity for passing these bunkers, he immediately charged into the mouth of the steadily firing cannon and entered the emplacement through the fire port, driving the guncrew out of the rear door and insuring their destruction before he himself was wounded. Indomitable and aggressive in the face of almost certain death, Sgt. Owens silenced a powerful gun which was of inestimable value to the Japanese defense and, by his brilliant initiative and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice, contributed immeasurably to the success of the vital landing operations. His valiant conduct throughout reflects the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service. 

The 3rd Marine Regiment's motto is Fortuna Fortes Juvat - Fortune Follows the Brave. Sergeant Owens' unit, the 1st Battalion/3rd Marines serves and protects our great Nation to this day.