Friday, September 28, 2012

My Son's Birthday, Scouting, and POPCORN!

My son Neil was born on September 28, 2005, so today is his seventh birthday! Just recently, Neil began his journey in Scouting with Cub Pack 85 of the Laurel Highlands Council.

Neil wants YOU to support Scouting!
I expect at our upcoming Pack meeting, Neil will receive his Tiger Cub Immediate Recognition Badge, as he's successfully learned the Cub Scout Promise, sign, and salute. I have great hopes for the benefits Neil will get from Scouting. Scouting was a huge part of my life growing up, and I'm hoping it will be for him too.

TFH 9/28: Major Oscar F. Miller, USA

Oscar Franklin Miller was born in Franklin County, Arkansas on October 25, 1882. His childhood was marked by the death of his father when he was eight, and his formal education ended with elementary school. Miller left his family at age 16 or 17 to travel to Texas in search of work.

He enlisted in the United States Army for three years on April 9, 1901 during which he fought in the Philippine-American War. After his enlistment finished, he worked as a civil servant in both the United States Postal Service and as an immigration inspector.

With the United States' entry into World War I, he returned to the Army on May 16, 1917 and was selected for officers' training. He did well, and was commissioned with the rank of Major and given a command of a battalion in the 361st Infantry Regiment, assigned to the 91st Infantry Division. They arrived in France for combat in July 1918.

On September 28, 1918, Miller led his men forward against a fortified enemy from the very front of the battalion, through three wounds that would eventually claim his life. His courage inspired his men to secure their objective, and was recognized with our Nation's highest honor.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

TFH 9/27: SM1 Douglas A. Munro, USCG

Douglas Albert Munro was born on October 11, 1919 to an American father and Briton mother in Vancouver, Canada. The family moved back to the United States in the early 1920s and settled in South Cle Elum, Washington. Munro became a naturalized United States citizen along with his mother and sister in 1922.

After graduating from high school in 1937, Douglas Munro spent one year in college before leaving school to join the United States Coast Guard. He advanced through the ranks quickly, and by September 1942 was a Signalman First Class and leader of a 24-boat landing craft group in the Guadalcanal Campaign.

On September 27, 1942 - 70 years ago to the day - Marines under the command of the legendary "Chesty" Puller found themselves pinned down under intense enemy opposition during the Second Battle of the Matanikau. With the destroyer USS Monssen (DD-436) providing cover by hurling 5" shells at the enemy ashore, Munro led his boats to the beach to evacuate the Marines. He placed his own boat in between the others and the enemy to draw their fire.

For his supreme courage in the face of the enemy which cost him his life, Douglas Munro became the only Coast Guardsman ever to receive the Medal of Honor.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The UN Speech I'd Give

Today, President Barack Obama will address the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. Frankly, I really don't care what he has to say there, because based on his track record, I'm sure it will be another iteration of his "blame America first" ideology, tinged with additional apologetics for the dubious view that it's a YouTube video that produced the recent increase in Middle East turmoil.

Another thing I can pretty much guarantee is that he's going to speak too long. That's a common problem with politicians, which is particularly on my mind as I was just in Gettysburg this past weekend. President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is masterful because of both its subject and its brevity.

So, were I the President of the United States, trying to keep it as pithy and inspiring as possible, here's what I'd say to the United Nations, if it was me standing there today. I think I'd probably set an all-time record for UN walkouts.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

TFH 9/20: PFC Walter C. Monegan, Jr., USMC

Walter Carleton Monegan, Jr. was born on Christmas Day, 1930 in Melrose, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the United States Army in November, 1947 when still sixteen years old. After his underage status was discovered, the Army discharged him.

Determined to serve his country, Monegan then enlisted on March 22, 1948 with the United States Marine Corps, who would accept 17 year-olds. On September 15, 1950, as part of the 1st Marine Division, he landed with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment at Inchon in the United States' first major offensive operation of the Korean War.

Private First Class Monegan was a rocket gunner armed with a World War II-era M9A1 Bazooka. As the Marines advanced inland towards the South Korean capital of Seoul, he repeatedly put himself at risk to engage enemy armor. He personally destroyed three North Korean T-34 tanks - one on September 17, two on September 20 - before he was cut down by a Communist machine gun. His amazing courage in the face of the enemy saw him posthumously decorated with our Nation's highest honor.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

TFH 9/19: Sergeant William R. Jecelin, USA

William R. Jecelin was born in Baltimore, Maryland on May 6, 1930. He grew up there, and also joined the United States Army from that city. Early in the Korean War, he was sent into combat with Company C, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment as part of the 25th Infantry Division.

On September 19, 1950, then Sergeant Jecelin led his platoon in a frontal assault against a fortified enemy ridge line. Jecelin's soldiers charged forward with fixed bayonets and engaged the Communist enemy in hand-to-hand combat. As their attack was in imminent danger of being repulsed, he rose and led the platoon forward again as an enemy soldier flung a grenade at the American attackers. Jecelin set the lives of his men above his own and for his courage, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

TFH 9/18: First Lieutenant Raymond J. Enners, USA

Raymond James Enners was born on November 5, 1945. He grew up in Farmingdale and Dix Hills, New York and was a gifted athlete, captaining his football, basketball, and lacrosse teams. He received an appointment to the United States Military Academy, West Point in 1963. He continued to excel in lacrosse while there, receiving an honorable mention as an All-American in 1967. After graduating with the class of 1967, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army's infantry branch.

Just over a year later, Enners was serving as a rifle platoon leader in the 23rd Infantry Division, popularly and better known as the Americal Division. On September 18, 1968, then First Lieutenant Enners showed extraordinary courage as he led his platoon in the attack and in the attempted rescue of a severely wounded squad leader. His valor cost him his life, and he was posthumously awarded the second highest decoration a grateful Nation can grant: the Distinguished Service Cross.

Monday, September 17, 2012

225 Years of our Constitution

Earlier I posted about the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. Today is also Constitution Day, celebrating the 225th anniversary of the culmination of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, May 14-September 17, 1787 and the signing of our Nation's structural document.

Today, our constitutional republic is threatened by Statism. Our federal government acts today in areas and capacities not intended or conceived by the men who gathered in Philadelphia two and a quarter centuries ago.

The Bloodiest Day

150 years ago today, approximately 113,500 Americans marched onto the field of battle - and fought each other. The Battle of Antietam outside Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862 pitted the Union's Army of the Potomac under Major General George B. McClelland against Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.

The battle was a tragedy of epic proportions. 22,717 of the men who took the field that day became casualties: 3,654 killed, 17,292 wounded, and 1,771 captured or missing in action. Those totals make it the bloodiest single-day battle in American history. To put it in perspective, the total casualties for the Americans who landed on Omaha Beach during D-Day were about 5,000 KIA, WIA, & MIA.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

TFH 9/16-17: Captains Joseph A. Personnett & Richard L. Polling, USAF

The weather over South Vietnam on September 16, 1972 was poor for flying to say the least; the area surrounding Đà Nẵng was under a typhoon warning. The Communist enemies of liberty took no pause for the weather.

About 90 miles south at Mộ Đức, an Army position manned by just 120 men was assaulted by 2,000 or more enemy soldiers. The commander on the ground declared a tactical emergency - they were in imminent danger of being overrun. The weather cleared enough for two young United States Air Force Captains with the 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron to board their North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco aircraft and head for the battle. They were Joseph A. Personnett (b. 1/24/1946) and Richard L. Polling (b. 9/26/1946).

Personnett and Polling repeatedly flew their lightly armed aircraft over the battle to attack the enemy with what weapons they had, while also mustering all other support they could from the air, land-based artillery, and naval gunfire from the USS Hanson (DD-832), which had raced to the scene through mine-infested waters.

Their aircraft was repeatedly hit by enemy antiaircraft fires, and Personnett and Polling were ultimately shot down over the battle. The two ejected, and were surrounded by the enemy until rescued by Army helicopters. Both brave men received the second highest award the Air Force could grant: the Air Force Cross.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

TFH 9/15: Major John Lucian Smith, USMC

John Lucian Smith was born on December 26, 1914 in Lexington, Oklahoma. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1936, and gave up a commission with the United States Army and instead became a Second Lieutenant with the United States Marine Corps. He received his Wings of Gold as a Naval Aviator in 1939.

In August 1942 with the beginning of the Guadalcanal Campaign, then Major Smith was commanding Marine Fighter Squadron 223 (VMF-223) - the first fighter unit to fly from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, beginning on August 20. From August 21-September 15, 1942, VMF-223's fighters shot down 83 Japanese aircraft - 16 of which were downed by Smith himself.

For his "conspicuous gallantry and heroic achievement in aerial combat" during that period, he was decorated with the Medal of Honor.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

TFH 9/13-14: Colonel Merritt A. Edson, USMC

Merritt Austin Edson was born in Rutland, Vermont on April 25, 1897 and grew up in nearby Chester, Vermont. He received a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in October of 1917. He went to France with the 11th Marine Regiment in September 1918, but arrived too late to see any action in World War I.

In between the World Wars, Edson served with distinction in Nicaragua during 1928-29 when, as a Captain, he was awarded his first of two Navy Crosses for valor in the face of the enemy. At the beginning of World War II, now Lieutenant Colonel Edson was commanding the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. This infantry unit was redesignated in 1942 and became the prototype unit for the Marine Raiders.

After receiving a promotion to Colonel in May 1942, his 1st Marine Raider Battalion spearheaded the assault on Tulagi on August 7, 1942. Edson's valor in command on Tulagi earned him his second Navy Cross. Just a week later after Edson's Raiders had been repositioned to defend a key ridge line protecting the Guadalcanal beachhead, his stalwart and indefatigable courage and leadership in leading the defense against Japanese attackers this time saw him decorated with our Nation's highest: the Medal of Honor. This became known as the Battle of Edson's Ridge.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

TFH 9/12-13: Major Kenneth D. Bailey, USMC

Kenneth Dillon Bailey was born on October 21, 1910 in Pawnee, Oklahoma. He moved as a child to Danville, Illinois and served for three years in the Illinois Army National Guard before earning a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps on July 1, 1935.

Bailey served first with the Marine Detachment aboard the USS Pennsylvania (BB-38), then with the 7th, 1st, and 5th Marine Regiments. In February 1942, his battalion was redesignated as the first battalion of Marine Raiders. As part of the 1st Marine Division, they landed on Tulagi as part of the opening of the Guadalcanal Campaign on August 7, 1942. Now a Major and a company commander, Bailey fought through wounds to personally assault a machine gun position that was blocking his company's advance and received the Silver Star.

It was a mere taste of the heroics to which this Marine would rise.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

TFH 9/9: Captain Charles B. DeBellevue, USAF

Not long ago, I related the Air Force Cross heroics of Captain Richard S. Ritchie, USAF, the first and only Air Force pilot to achieve the title of "Ace" (five aerial victories) during the Vietnam War. In the missile age, pilots aren't the only ones credited with the kills in two-seat fighters: their weapons systems officers (WSO or "wizzo") in the back seat get credit too.

Ritchie's WSO for four of his five kills was Captain Charles B. DeBellevue. Born on August 15, 1945 in New Orleans, Louisiana, DeBellevue had hoped to attend the United States Air Force Academy but wasn't accepted. He went instead to the University of Southern Louisiana (today University of Louisiana Lafayette) and received his commission in the United States Air Force through ROTC.

In 1971, DeBellevue joined the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron ("Triple Nickel") flying from Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base. On September 9, 1972 - forty years ago to the day - he added kills five and six flying with pilot Captain John A. Madden, Jr. and became an Ace. Like Ritchie, he was awarded the Air Force's second highest award: the Air Force Cross.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

TFH 9/8: The Battle of Ganjgal - 1 Medal of Honor, 2 Navy Crosses...and unfinished business

Three years ago today on September 8, 2009, a United States Army/United States Marine Corps Embedded Training Team working with the Afghan Army and National Police led their trainee forces into Ganjgal, Afghanistan.

The task force was ambushed. They had been promised artillery support, but changes to the rules of engagement meant that commanders at fire support bases were hesitant to authorize fire missions. They had also been told that no air support would be available. They were on their own.

That day, four American warriors stood tall against our enemies. One Marine, Corporal Dakota L. Meyer, received the Medal of Honor for his valor. Two other Marines, both immigrants to our Nation, received the Navy Cross. Here are their stories:

Friday, September 07, 2012

TFH 9/7: Staff Sergeant Glenn H. English, Jr., USA

Glenn Harry English, Jr. was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania on April 23, 1940. He entered the United States Army from Philadelphia in 1962. By September 1970, he had attained the rank of Staff Sergeant and was serving with Company E, 3rd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment ("The Rock") - then part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade ("Sky Soldiers").

On September 7, 1970, Staff Sergeant English was in the lead vehicle of an armored personnel carrier column when a mine was detonated in front of it, starting an enemy ambush. His uniform was afire as he escaped the vehicle, but that didn't stop him from leading the unit on a counterattack against the ambushing forces. With his unit safe, he turned his attention to the three soldiers trapped in the burning vehicle. His rescue attempt cost him his life, and a grateful Nation paid recognition to his valor above and beyond the normal call of duty with the Medal of Honor.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

TFH 9/6: Corporal Benito Martinez, USA

Benito Martinez was born on April 21, 1932 (there is a discrepancy in his birth date) in Fort Hancock, Texas. He spent his entire childhood there, and enlisted in the United States Army in 1950 after graduating from high school.

He was sent to war in Korea with the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment (the "Wolfhounds") which was part of the 25th Infantry Division. Sixty years ago today on the night of September 6, 1952, Corporal Martinez was a machine gunner with the 2nd Platoon of Company A. He was manning a bunker with three other soldiers when they observed Communist infiltrators trying to cut off their isolated position.

Martinez directed the men with him to withdraw back to safer positions while he remained alone to hold back the attack. For six hours he used every bit of firepower he had to hold back the enemy before he was cut down. Corporal Martinez's heroic stand was recognized in December 1953 with the Medal of Honor.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

TFH 9/5: HM3 Edward Clyde Benfold, USN

Edward Clyde Benfold was born on January 15, 1931 on Staten Island, New York. He grew up in Audubon, New Jersey, graduating from Audubon High School in 1949. After graduation, Benfold enlisted in the United States Navy and by July 1951 was rated as a Hospital Corpsman (I used the modern rating abbreviation above out of habit). He was designated a medical field technician and assigned to the 1st Marine Division; Benfold was sent with the Marines to combat in Korea.

Sixty years ago today on September 5, 1952, Corpsman Benfold was caring for the wounded of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment when he observed two possibly wounded Marines in a shell crater. As he approached the crater exposed to fire, the charging communist enemy hurled two grenades into it. Benfold grabbed the grenades and stopped the charge, placing his comrades bodies above his own, and ultimately being recognized with our Nation's highest honor.