Friday, November 30, 2012

TFH 11/30 Edition 2: Private First Class Charles George, USA

Charles George, a Cherokee Indian, was born in Cherokee, North Carolina on August 23, 1932. He was sent to war in Korea with the United States Army's 45th Infantry Division. His assignment was fitting as the 45th had a tradition of high numbers of Native American soldiers, which was also reflected in the division's insignia and their nickname: "Thunderbird".

Sixty years ago today on November 30, 1952, George was a Private First Class with the 45th's 179th Infantry Regiment's 1st Battalion, Company C. While on a raiding mission, an enemy grenade landed amongst George and two of his comrades. His defensive action to smother the grenade with his own body ultimately cost him his life and assured the posthumous award of our Nation's highest honor.

TFH 11/30 Edition 1: Navy Crosses for Two Marine Raiders

The United States Marine Corps formed the Marine Raiders in the early days of America's involvement in World War II to conduct amphibious raids behind enemy lines. The 2nd Raider Battalion, known as "Carlson's Raiders" after their commander Lieutenant Colonel Evans Carlson, successfully carried out the raid on Makin Island on August 17-18, 1942, resulting in one Marine being decorated with the Medal of Honor and 19 Marines and 2 sailors with the Navy Cross.

The 2nd Raiders then fought on Guadalcanal itself. Seventy years ago today on November 30, 1942, one of Carlson's platoons took a Japanese encampment completely by surprise, routed the enemy, and saw at least two of the attackers add Navy Crosses to the Raiders growing tally of decorations for valor.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

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

Robert Joseph Pruden was born on September 9, 1949 in St. Paul, Minnesota. He joined the United States Army in 1967; evidence suggests that based on his selection/volunteering for Non-Commissioned Officer candidacy and Ranger training he was a volunteer and not a draftee.

The Vietnam-era 75th Ranger Infantry Regiment (Airborne) was constituted as a number of separate specialized infantry companies to be trained and delegated to individual divisions or corps for long range patrol and reconnaissance duties. The 75th's Company G was assigned to the 23rd Infantry Division, better known by its moniker "Americal", for those duties in Vietnam.

On November 29, 1969, then Staff Sergeant Pruden, just 20 years old, commanded a six-man reconnaissance and ambush team that was itself ambushed by a much larger enemy force. Pruden left himself exposed to enemy fire to draw the enemy's attention away from his wounded comrades and to provide enough cover until evacuation helicopters could arrive. He lost his life on that field of battle, and his indomitable courage and supreme sacrifice were recognized with the Medal of Honor.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

TFH 11/28: HM3 Fred Townsend Foster, USN

A few days ago, I blogged about Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class William B. Barber, a Navy Cross recipient from the Vietnam War who showed incredible courage and devotion to duty while caring for wounded Marines.

Today's Their Finest Hour honoree is another Navy Corpsman who received the same award for his courage in the care and defense of wounded Marines during the Korean War. On November 28, 1950, Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Fred Townsend Foster was continually under communist attack as he cared for thirty wounded Marines during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.

Unfortunately, little is known about this heroic sailor, besides the words of his Navy Cross citation.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

TFH 11/27: Lieutenant Colonel Don C. Faith, Jr., USA

Don Carlos Faith, Jr. was born in Washington, Indiana on August 26, 1918. He intended to follow his father into the United States Army and applied to the United States Military Academy, West Point but was rejected on medical/dental grounds. After graduating from Georgetown University in 1941, he was again found medically ineligible for service during his draft physical, appealed, and was accepted into the Army on June 25, 1941. He attended Officer Candidates School, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on February 26, 1942.

Faith served for most of World War II with America's first airborne fighting force: the 82nd Airborne Division. He jumped into battle with the "All Americans" on each of the four times they did so: Sicily, Salerno, Normandy, and Grave/Nijmegen. By war's end he was a Lieutenant Colonel on the staff of Major General Maxwell Taylor. He remained in the Army, and in 1950 was the commander of the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment on occupation duty in Japan with the 7th Infantry Division.

With the outbreak of the Korean War on June 25, 1950, the 7th's formations were scavenged to provide reinforcements for the American forces on the Korean peninsula. After receiving replacements from the United States and by South Korean conscripts, the division was committed to battle and participated in the landings at both Inchon and Wonsan.

In the early winter cold and snow of November 1950, the Chinese Communist forces pouring into Korea engaged the Americans and allies in what became the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. For four days at the battle's outset until he was listed as missing in action and presumed killed, Lieutenant Colonel Faith led his battalion at every level both at his headquarters and in direct action against the enemy as they broke out from being surrounded. His actions resulted in the award of the Medal of Honor.

Monday, November 26, 2012

TFH 11/26: First Lieutenant Frank N. Mitchell, USMC

Frank Nicias Mitchell was born on August 18, 1921 in Indian Gap, Texas. He grew up in Roaring Springs, Texas, graduating from Roaring Springs High School in 1938. In 1939, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served in the Pacific throughout World War II. He received an officer's commission in 1945.

Mitchell stayed in the Marines after the war, and found himself back in combat as the 1st Marine Division entered the Korean War in 1950. On November 26, 1950, winter was setting in on the Korean peninsula. About one month before, Communist China sent their army into battle in support of their North Korean allies and began to beat back the American and UN forces to the south.

On that day, First Lieutenant Frank Mitchell, leading a rifle platoon of Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, charged to the front of his men when they were ambushed. Despite his own wounds, he consolidated his unit's defenses, held strong during hand-to-hand fighting, and when there was only one way to cover the withdrawal of his wounded comrades, he fought alone to his death. His valor above and beyond the normal call of duty was recognized with our Nation's highest honor.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

TFH 11/25: HM3 William B. Barber, USNR

The United States Marine Corps relies on sailors from the United States Navy to provide their medical care - both in and out of combat. After recruit training, men and women who want to become US Navy Hospital Corpsmen learn their medical trade at the Military Education & Training Campus, Fort Sam Houston, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.

After their base Navy training, the Hospitalmen (to include women) who will serve with the Marines then go to one of the Field Medical Training Battalions, located at either Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune (East) or Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. At the FMTB, they learn the battlefield skills necessary to support Marines in the field, as well as the additional medical skills needed to care for those with the grievous injuries inflicted by modern weapons.

On November 25, 1968, a Navy Corpsman serving with the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment in combat in Vietnam charged into danger four times to save four different Marines from the enemy and cared for them until they could be evacuated. Hospitalman William B. Barber - promoted to Hospitalman 3rd Class by the time of the award - received the Navy Cross (our Nation's second-highest award for valor) for his courage under fire and risking his life to save others.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

TFH 11/24: 2LT Mark S. Steiner, USA

Mark Stephen Steiner was born on Armistice Day, November 11, 1948 (Veterans Day was so named in 1954). His hometown was Ogden, Utah. At just 19 years old, he graduated from Officer Candidates' School and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army's artillery branch in 1968. He arrived for combat in Vietnam (click the "full profile" link at this page) on September 12, 1968 and joined Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery Regiment, then part of the 9th Infantry Division.

Just thirteen days after his 20th birthday, Lieutenant Steiner was attached as a forward observer to the 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment. Steiner was with 2-60's Company A on a reconnaissance-in-force mission in the Long An province in Vietnam's Mekong Delta on November 24, 1968 when the infantry came under heavy fire from a fortified communist enemy force. He set aside his role as a gunner and engaged the enemy directly to protect the wounded soldiers around him. His courage in the face of the enemy inspired the soldiers around him to attack.

The young lieutenant was cut down by the enemy, and his gallantry was posthumously recognized with the second-highest award the Army could grant: the Distinguished Service Cross.

Friday, November 23, 2012

TFH 11/23: Three Marines, Two Enemy Machine Guns on Guadalcanal

The 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment was a comparative newcomer to the Guadalcanal Campaign, beginning combat operations ashore with the 2nd Marine Division on November 2, 1942.

On November 23, 1942, two Japanese machine guns blocked the advance of 1/8. Three young United States Marines volunteered to take them out. 19-year old (born April 27, 1923) Private Clarence Lee Evans hailed from Saginaw, Missouri and had enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve on May 31, 1941. Private William F. Richey came from Tyler, Texas.

The name of the third Devil Dog is lost to history. It's not known what if any recognition he received for the attack, but both Evans and Richey - one who lost his life that day, one two days later - were posthumously decorated with the United States' second-highest award for valor: the Navy Cross.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

TFH 11/22: Major Charles J. Loring, Jr., USAF

Charles Joseph Loring, Jr. was born in Portland, Maine on October 2, 1918. He enlisted in the United States Army in March 1942 for service during the Second World War and joined the Army Air Corps. Loring was selected as an aviation cadet in May 1942 and trained as a fighter pilot.

He spent his early flying years on antisubmarine patrols in the Caribbean Sea and the Panama Canal area until sent to fly with the United States Army Air Forces building in Great Britain for the invasion of Europe, arriving there in March of 1944. Loring flew 55 missions against Nazi Germany and occupied Europe. During his 55th mission on December 24, 1944, he was shot down, captured, and remained a prisoner of war until his liberation two days before V-E Day on May 6, 1945.

Loring stayed in uniform during peacetime and transitioned to the United States Air Force when it became its own service on September 18, 1947. He found himself flying in combat again during the Korean War. Loring flew as an instructor and operations officer with both the 36th and 80th Fighter-Bomber Squadrons equipped with the Lockheed P-80/F-80 Shooting Star, completing another 50 combat missions.

Loring's 51st mission over Korea found him leading a flight of four Shooting Stars for close air support of ground troops. A forward air controller identified an enemy artillery position that was decimating South Korean soldiers. As Loring began his bomb run, his aircraft was hit by Chinese Communist antiaircraft fires. He knew his plane was doomed - and also that his bombs had to be placed on their target and the enemy artillery destroyed, lest the lives of countless friendly soldiers be lost. Major Loring chose to make his plane the bomb, and for his heroic sacrifice, was posthumously awarded our Nation's highest honor.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

TFH 11/18: Major Colin Arnold Clarke, USAF

Blogger's note: My apologies to the legacy of this post's subject as this should have appeared on Sunday, November 18, 2012 - the 40th anniversary of the events.

Colin Arnold Clarke, known as "Arnie", was born on August 31, 1935 in Seattle, Washington. He began service to our Nation when he enlisted in the United States Navy Reserve on January 3, 1954. While serving with the United States Navy, he graduated from the University of Washington in 1958 and later was honorably discharged on May 3, 1960 so he could attend Officer Training School for the United States Air Force. He was commissioned on May 9, 1960 and received his pilot's wings in September of 1961.

Clarke served four tours during the Vietnam War. During his fourth on November 18, 1972, he directed a search and rescue mission that retrieved two downed American airmen from the clutches of the enemy. He received the Air Force Cross for his heroism.

TFH 11/21: SFC Dave W. Wentzel, USA

Dave Wesley Wentzel was born on February 25, 1924. His hometown of record was Mover County, Minnesota, and his service to our Nation began in the United States Army during World War II. I wasn't able to locate any information about his World War II service, but based on his having a "regular Army" service number, he either volunteered for service initially or stayed in the peacetime Army after the war.

As 1951 was winding down, the Army's 1st Cavalry Division was completing more than 500 consecutive days of combat service in the Korean War and was about to rotate out. Wentzel was a platoon sergeant with Company F (2nd Battalion/Squadron) of the 8th Cavalry Regiment. On November 21, 1951, Sergeant First Class Wentzel's unit was manning an outpost when they came under attack by a much larger enemy force. Under the Minnesotan's leadership and indefatigable courage, the position was held. Wentzel didn't survive the battle, but his heroism lives on in the citation for the second-highest award he could have received: the Distinguished Service Cross.

Monday, November 19, 2012

TFH 11/19: Captain Joseph J. Foss, USMCR

Joseph Jacob Foss was born on April 17, 1915 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After the death of his father in an electrical accident, he was forced to drop out of school at age 17 to help run the family farm. He was able to return to school, graduated, and then attended the University of South Dakota. While in college, Foss enlisted in the South Dakota National Guard and served with them from 1937 to 1940. 

After graduating from USD in 1940, and already a private pilot, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and entered the Naval Aviation Cadet program. Foss received his officer's commission and "wings of gold" as a Naval Aviator but at age 26, was judged to be too old to be trained as a fighter pilot. Regardless, he got himself checked out in and qualified to fly the Grumman F4F Wildcat and persisted in his desire to fly fighters. 

Finally, in June 1942 as the tempo of World War II in the Pacific increased and more fighter pilots were needed, Foss' request was granted and he joined Marine Fighter Squadron 121 (VMF-121). As VMF-121's executive officer from October 9 to November 19, 1942 during the Guadalcanal Campaign, Foss personally shot down 23 Japanese aircraft and the squadron as a whole destroyed 72. For his leadership, aerial skill, and conspicuous gallantry, he was decorated with the Medal of Honor.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

TFH 11/15: PFC Mack A. Jordan, USA

Mack Alvin Jordan, born on December 8, 1928, was a twenty-two year-old infantryman from Collins, Mississippi. He was in the United States Army for just a year, and given that his service started in 1951 along with his age, I'm conjecturing that he was drafted for service in the Korean War.

As with countless other American citizens called to serve their Nation in times of crisis, Mack Jordan answered. While serving with the 24th Infantry Division on November 15, 1951, he volunteered to remain behind to cover the withdrawal of his platoon and disrupted the communist enemy's attack by charging an entrenched machine gun. Even after he was mortally wounded, he continued to fight until his unit regained its former position. His family later received the Medal of Honor he so assuredly deserved.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

TFH 11/14: Lieutenant Colonel Harold W. Bauer, USMC

Harold William Bauer was born to German immigrants in Woodruff, Kansas on November 20, 1908. He began his service to our Nation when he was appointed to attend the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland in 1926. After graduating with the Naval Academy class of 1932, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.

Bauer began World War II as a Captain, and became the founding commanding officer of Marine Fighting Squadron 212 (VMF-212), the "Lancers", when the squadron was activated on March 1, 1942. He received his promotion to Major on April 29 of that year, and a rapid follow-on to Lieutenant Colonel on August 7.

VMF-212 flew from Vanuatu in the South Pacific and flew missions against the Japanese as part of the Guadalcanal Campaign. Bauer's personal courage in the skies, and superior leadership of his squadron, saw Lancer flying leathernecks destroy 92 enemy aircraft, at least eleven of those by Bauer himself. For six months of courage above and beyond the normal call of duty, he received the Medal of Honor.

Monday, November 12, 2012

TFH 11/12-13: The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal - Four Medals of Honor

Four brave United States Navy sailors were decorated with our Nation's highest award - the Medal of Honor - for their heroic actions during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, part of the larger Guadalcanal Campaign, seventy years ago: November 12-13, 1942. Three of the four gave their lives.

Rear Admiral Daniel Judson Callaghan was born on July 26, 1890 in San Francisco, California. He graduated with the United States Naval Academy class of 1911, served as a surface warfare officer primarily on destroyers and cruisers, and was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Naval Aide in the months approaching the United States' entry into World War II. Callaghan was promoted to Rear Admiral in April of 1942. He was the commander of Task Group 67.4 with his flag aboard the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco (CA-38). Incoming Japanese fires struck the bridge of the San Francisco, killing Admiral Callaghan and most of the ship's chain of command.

Boatswain's Mate First Class Reinhart John Keppler first enlisted in the Navy in February 1936, was honorably discharged, and reenlisted on April 25, 1940. Keppler was also aboard the San Francisco. After a Japanese torpedo plane crashed into the ship, he put himself at severe risk to both rescue survivors and perform damage control and firefighting efforts that were credited with saving the cruiser to fight again another day.

Lieutenant Commander Bruce McCandless, the son of Commodore Byron McCandless (himself a World War I Navy Cross recipient), was born in August 1911 and graduated with the United States Naval Academy class of 1932. He was the communications officer aboard the San Francisco and took command of the ship when Rear Admiral Callaghan and the rest of the ship's command staff were killed.

Rear Admiral Norman Scott was born August 10, 1889 in Indianapolis, Indiana and was a classmate of Rear Admiral Callaghan with the Naval Academy class of 1911. As with Callaghan, Scott was a surface officer and served mainly in cruisers and destroyers before World War II. He received his promotion to Rear Admiral in May 1942 and was Callaghan's second-in-command of the combined cruiser/destroyer group during the battle. His flagship, the USS Atlanta (CL-51), was struck by a Japanese torpedo and in the confusion of battle, came under friendly-fire from the San Francisco's 8-inch guns.

Here are the stories and citations for these four great Americans.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

TFH 11/10: Lance Corporal Christopher S. Adelsperger, USMC

Christopher S. Adelsperger was born on October 24, 1984 and grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was a three-sport high school athlete, and left the University of New Mexico to enlist in the United States Marine Corps - one of the many who felt our Nation's call in the days after 9/11.

On November 10, 2004 - coincidentally the Marine Corps' birthday - he was serving as a rifleman with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment in combat in Iraq as part of the 1st Marine Division's Regimental Combat Team 1. When his platoon was clearing houses in Fallujah, Lance Corporal Adelsperger repeatedly put his own life at extreme risk to protect his fellow Marines and press the attack against the enemy.

His chain of command recommended him for the Medal of Honor, and ultimately he received the second-highest award he could have for valor: the Navy Cross.

Friday, November 09, 2012

TFH 11/9: The Final Three of the Great War

On November 9, 1918. The "Great War" - World War I - had just two days left to rage before the armistice that took effect at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. Fighting continued right up to the end, as did incredible acts of courage by our fighting men.

Three brave soldiers of the United States Army earned the Medal of Honor that day. They were the three final recipients for the First World War.

One of them was half-Mexican and used his American father's name so as not to be placed in a segregated unit that wouldn't be allowed into combat.

Another wasn't even an American yet, as he didn't become a naturalized citizen until 1919.

All three were heroes. They were Private David B. Barkley (Barkeley), Private First Class Harold I. Johnston, and Sergeant Ludovicus M. M. Van Iersel.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

A Bonhomme Richard Election

I don't see how the candidate who lost to John McCain, who then got creamed by Barack Obama, can now be considered the best option to beat Barack Obama. -- Me, in one form or another, on Mitt Romney and the Republican Party, starting at least 18 months ago.
Tuesday sucked. To borrow from Churchill, it was a "colossal...disaster". Amazingly enough, I do find some encouragement - minor as it may be - but the road ahead is going to be long and hard. As a lot of people are doing, I'm pondering how to move forward with conservatism and libertarianism, and what role I can play in the equation. I know I can do more, but am uncertain as to where to start. When I figure it out, I'll be sharing. I know there will be a lot of introspection, and a lot of teaching - so expect me to wax philosophically here more often than I have been doing.

Since everybody else has given an election post-mortem, I figured I might as well throw in my two cents too.

TFH 11/8 Edition Two: Colonel William H. Wilbur, USA

William Hale Wilbur was born in Palmer, Massachusetts on September 24, 1888. He graduated from the United States Military Academy, West Point in 1912 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. Wilbur also attended the French military academy, where he was a classmate of Charles de Gaulle, and served in combat during World War I.

Seventy years ago today on November 8, 1942 - just as Colonel Demas Craw and Major Pierpont Hamilton had volunteered - now Colonel Wilbur carried a letter to Vichy French authorities in Morocco in an attempt to stave off hostilities and bloodshed as the British and Americans landed in North Africa during Operation Torch.

Colonel Wilbur completed his mission, and when he returned to the beachhead, assumed command of both infantry and armor and led them in an attack against a French battery firing on the landing Americans. As was the case with Craw and Hamilton, Wilbur was decorated with the Medal of Honor.

TFH 11/8 Edition One: Colonel Demas T. Crew & Major Pierpont M. Hamilton, USAAC

Seventy years ago today, American and British land forces began offensive operations against Nazi Germany and their Vichy French collaborators with the assault of North Africa codenamed Operation Torch.

At first light on November 8, 1942, American forces began to go ashore at Port Lyautey, Morocco. The Allies sought to have the Vichy French forces surrender without hostilities or a minimum of bloodshed, and two officers volunteered to take a message under a flag of truce to the French commanders and authorities. The two volunteers were US Army Air Corps/US Army Air Forces officers Colonel Demas T. Craw and Major Pierpont M. Hamilton.

Demas Thurlow "Nick" Craw was born on April 4, 1900 in Traverse City, Michigan. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1918, too late to see any service in World War I. He remained in the Army, received an officer's commission, and transitioned to the Air Corps in the late 1920s. Before the United States' entry into World War II, Craw was positioned as an observer with the Royal Air Force during which he flew on over 100 combat missions.

Pierpont Morgan Hamilton was born in Tuxedo Park, New York on August 3, 1898. He joined the United States Army on August 7, 1917 and became an aviation cadet in the Flying Service (as the Air Corps was then known). Illness prevented him from serving during World War I in France, and he left the Army on December 31, 1918. He applied for, and was appointed as a Major in the Air Corps, after the United States' entry in World War II on March 2, 1942.

Both of these men, one of whom was killed in action, received the Medal of Honor for their mission.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

TFH 11/6: ENS Kenneth H. Muir, USNR

The SS Nathaniel Hawthorne was a Liberty-type cargo ship. On November 6, 1942 - 70 years ago today - she was sailing into the Caribbean Sea with a load of bauxite, a key raw material for the manufacture and smelting of aluminum, when she was torpedoed by the Nazi Type IX submarine U-508.

On-board the Hawthorne, the officer-in-charge of the United States Navy armed guard, Ensign Kenneth H. Muir, USNR of New York, placed the lives of his sailors and the civilian merchant mariners above his own as the ship went down. His courage and devotion to duty led to the posthumous award of the Navy Cross.

Monday, November 05, 2012

TFH 11/5: Lieutenant Colonel Earl G. Cobeil, USAF

Earl Glenn Cobeil hailed from Pontiac, Michigan and was born on August 29, 1934. He flew the Republic F-105 Thunderchief for the United States Air Force and was shot down over Vietnam forty-five years ago today on November 5, 1967.  Cobeil was injured when he bailed out and was captured by the North Vietnamese. For three years he survived under torture and interrogation by both the North Vietnamese and their communist Cuban allies who had sent intelligence officers to Vietnam to collaborate in the torment.

He survived for three years in captivity until losing his life on or about November 5, 1970. Contemporaneous accounts from his fellow POWs indicate that his conduct in captivity was incredible for its indomitable courage. The Air Force posthumously awarded him their second-highest decoration: the Air Force Cross.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

TFH 11/1: Corporal Anthony Casamento, USMC

Anthony Casamento was born on November 16, 1920 in New York City. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at age 19 on August 19, 1920 prior to the United States' entry in World War II.

He landed on Guadalcanal with the 1st Marine Division in August of 1942. On November 1, 1942, the Americans ashore on the island launched an attack against the Japanese along the Matanikau River - exactly 70 years ago. Casamento, then a Corporal with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, kept one of his squad's machine guns in the fight, in spite of his own wounds and the entire gun squad being killed or wounded. He ultimately received the Medal of Honor for his courage.