Thursday, February 28, 2013

TFH 2/28: SFC Matthew Leonard, USA

Matthew Leonard was born in Eutaw, Alabama on November 26, 1929. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1949 and served in combat during the Korean War. Leonard served both his civilian family - a wive and five children - and his military family for his entire adult life.

Leonard had reached the rank of Sergeant First Class by February of 1967 and was then serving during war again in Vietnam with the 1st Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment (the "Iron Rangers"). On February 28, 1967, SFC Leonard was a platoon sergeant in 1-16's Company B when an enemy attack took out many of the unit's leaders. He swept into action and rallied the defense until he was himself cut down by the enemy. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity...above and beyond the call of duty", Leonard was posthumously decorated with our Nation's highest honor.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

TFH 2/27: Lieutenant Otto F. Kolb, Jr., USN

Otto Ferdinand Kolb, Jr. was born in Savannah, Georgia on June 3, 1914 and was commissioned in the United States Navy after graduating from the United States Naval Academy with the Class of 1936. He served in the Far East prior to World War II.

Kolb was an officer aboard the cruiser USS Houston (CA-30) under eventual Medal of Honor recipient Captain Albert H. Rooks when on January 1, 1942 he was assigned as a liaison officer to the free Dutch light cruiser HNLMS De Ruyter. On February 27, 1942 during the Battle of the Java Sea, the De Ruyter was torpedoed by a Japanese cruiser and sank with the loss of 345 of her crew, including a Dutch admiral, the ship's captain, and one brave American.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

TFH 2/26: Corporal Einar H. Ingman, Jr., USA

Einar Harold Ingman, Jr. was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 6, 1929. He enlisted in the United States Army in November, 1949 hoping to become an equipment operator, but was assigned for service as an infantryman.

On February 26, 1951 while fighting in Korea with the 2nd Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, now Corporal Ingman took command of two squads whose leaders had become casualties. While rallying the two beleaguered groups of men, he single-handedly knocked out two enemy machine gun positions, the second after being shot through his face and becoming dazed from a grenade blast. His courage was recognized with the award of the Medal of Honor.

Friday, February 22, 2013

TFH 2/22: SP4 George C. Lang, USA

George Charles Lang was born on April 20, 1947 in Flushing, Queens, New York. His father passed away when he was seven years old, and while he was growing up, he worked after school to help support himself and his mother. He enlisted in the United States Army after high school and by early 1969 was fighting in Vietnam with the 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, then part of the 9th Infantry Division. They were tasked with riverine warfare along the Mekong River and delta as part of the Mobile Riverine Force.

On February 22, 1969, Lang was leading an infantry squad during a reconnaissance-in-force when they came under fire from an enemy bunker complex. He led his men in the assault on the enemy positions, and despite suffering grievous wounds from an enemy rocket, he steadfastly remained in charge until his evacuation for care was ordered. Lang later received our Nation's highest honor.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

TFH 2/21: Staff Sergeant Clifford C. Sims, USA

Clifford Chester Sims was born as Clifford Pittman on June 18, 1942 in Port St. Joe, Florida. He was orphaned at an early age and lived either on his own or with relatives until his adoption by James and Irene Sims when he was thirteen years old. He graduated from high school and joined the United States Army in 1961. He and his high school sweetheart Mary were married on Christmas Day of the same year.

By February 1968, he had reached the rank of Staff Sergeant and was a squad leader with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, then part of the 101st Airborne Division "Screaming Eagles". Forty-five years ago today on February 21, 1968 in fighting near Hue, Staff Sergant Sims used his own body to shield his fellow soldiers from the detonation of a booby trap, and was posthumously decorated with the Medal of Honor for his ultimate act of courage.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

TFH 2/20: Sergeant Frank F. Aiello, USA

Seventy years ago, the United States Army was suffering through a defeat at the hands of Nazi Germany's Afrika Korps at the Battle of the Kasserine Pass. Kasserine, fought from February 19-25, 1943 - along with the earlier defeat at the Battle of Sidi Bou Zid (2/14-17/1943) - showed that America's army had a lot of learning to do before they'd be able to achieve victory in the Tunisia Campaign and in the war.

Even in defeat, we can find stories of incredible heroism on the part of the American warrior. We know of many instances of our soldiers receiving the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army's second-highest award for valor, but many of the citations for the awards have been lost to history.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

TFH 2/19: SSG Fred W. Zabitosky, USA

Fred William Zabitosky was born on October 27, 1942 in Trenton, New Jersey. He had a troubled childhood, spending time in reformatories for delinquent youths, and joined the United States Army at age 17.

The Army turned out to be the best thing for him, and he excelled in the service as its discipline and structure was just what this young man was looking for. By February 19, 1968, not only was Zabitosky an exceptional soldier and a Staff Sergeant, he was one of the elite members of the Special Forces, wearing the famed "Green Beret" in combat with the 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam.

On that day forty-five years ago, a patrol that Zabitosky was the assistant leader of came under attack by a much larger force as the Green Berets unknowingly walked right into the middle of the enemy's encampments. The account of the battle is incredible. Zabitosky survived the crash of the helicopter that had come to their rescue, and despite his immense pain from severe burns and a broken back he suffered in the crash, he pulled one other from the helicopter's wreckage and tried to save the others before struggling towards another rescue craft. His incredible courage was recognized with the award of the Medal of Honor.

Monday, February 18, 2013

TFH 2/18: Sergeant Michael E. Fish, USAF

The members of the United States Air Force aren't typically associated with ground combat. That doesn't hold for those brave airmen who volunteer for Pararescue duties and become "Pararescue Jumpers" or "PJs".

On February 18, 1969, a Kaman HH-43 Huskie of the 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron was dispatched to try and recover the crew of a shot-down Army helicopter. The Army pilot couldn't be extracted from the wreckage before darkness fell. The Pararescueman who went down into the jungle to perform the rescue elected to stay with his trapped brother in arms until the rescue could be effected.

That PJ's name was Sergeant Michael E. Fish, and for his courage, he received the Air Force Cross.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

TFH 2/17: 1LT(CC) Eugene L. Daniel, USA

Eugene Lewis Daniel was born on December 4, 1910 in DeKalb County, Georgia. He earned a commission in the United States Army via ROTC and served as an infantry officer during the 1930s. He later attended seminary and was ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church. He went off to serve in World War II not as a combatant, but as a shepherd with the Army Chaplain Corps.

Pastor Daniel, holding the rank of First Lieutenant, was posted with the 168th Infantry Regiment, part of the Iowa Army National Guard, and the 34th Infantry Division. They were one of the first American combat units committed to fighting in North Africa.

The green American forces suffered a defeat against the battle-hardened Nazis at the Battle of Sidi Boud Zid, February 14-17, 1943. As our soldiers retreated, Daniel remained behind at risk of capture or death to care for the wounded of not only our side, but that of the enemy. Before his fate was known, he was awarded the second-highest award for courage the Army could have given him: the Distinguished Service Cross.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

TFH 2/16: 2LT Darwin K. Kyle, USA

Darwin Keith Kyle was born on June 1, 1918 in Jenkins, Kentucky. His parents moved to West Virginia, where he spent his youth. Kyle entered the United States Army in 1940 and served in the European Theater during World War II, receiving the Silver Star and Bronze Star Medal for valor in action.

Kyle remained in the Army after the end of hostilities and returned to combat as a Master Sergeant with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division during the Korean War. Casualties to officers saw him receive a battlefield commission as a Second Lieutenant, and it was in that capacity as a platoon leader on February 16, 1951 that he charged two fortified enemy positions and engaged the enemy hand-to-hand. Both positions were taken under Kyle's leadership, and while he lost his life to a burst from an enemy weapon, a grateful nation awarded him its highest honor.

Friday, February 15, 2013

TFH 2/15: LCDR Thomas B. Klakring, USN

The USS Guardfish (SS-217), a Gato-class submarine, was laid down at the Electric Boat Company in Groton, CT on April 1, 1941. The boat was still under construction when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and was hurriedly completed for war service. Guardfish launched on January 20, 1942 and was commissioned by the United States Navy on May 8, 1942. Her first Commanding Officer was Lieutenant Commander Thomas B. Klakring.

Thomas Burton Klakring was born on December 19, 1904 in Annapolis, Maryland. He graduated with the United States Naval Academy Class of 1927 and was commissioned as an Ensign. Klakring commanded Guardfish through her fourth war patrol, which ended in April 1943. The sub's third war patrol ran from January 2 to February 15, 1943 when she returned safely to Brisbane, Australia. Lieutenant Commander Klakring was decorated with his third award of the Navy Cross for Guardfish's actions against the enemy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

State of the Union's Laundry List

I didn't watch President Barack Obama's State of the Union address last night. Haven't read the transcript either, and don't plan to. Didn't take in either of the responses by Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, either. For the record, and in interests of full disclosure, if Mitt Romney had won the presidency last November, I probably wouldn't have watched regardless. What's the point? Was the "state of the union" really given last night, or did we just get another litany of governmental expansion wishes and executive lecture to the Congress and assembled others?

As Ed Morrissey wrote this morning at Hot Air ("The laundry list event"):
No, the problem with this and nearly every SOTU is that it reads like Congress is Santa Claus, the President is the greedy kid, and all the rest of us are the elves in the workshop.  Almost without exception for every President in memory, the SOTU is a dressed-up version of a campaign platform filled with “I wants” and “you’d better bring mes,”  interrupted only by mindless applause and standing ovations for the most mundane of rhetoric.  That didn’t start with Obama (we should only have been so lucky!) and it won’t end with him either.  The result is a themeless, pointless, and unmemorable ramble through the arcane fighting points of the day, and no coherence whatsoever other than “gimme.”
Seriously, if I wanted to watch things running around in circles, being preened, and soaking up adoring applause as politicians are so apt to do - rather than actually accomplishing anything - there was a much better option for that last night! (Actually, I watched the Monday part of that off the DVR, last night will be watched tonight).

Back last September on the day President Obama addressed the United Nations, I wrote up the speech I'd give were I the President of the United States standing before that body. So, in that spirit, here's the address given by a hypothetical President Allan Bourdius, newly elected last November, on February 12, 2013 to a joint session of Congress.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

TFH 2/7: "Take her down!"

Howard Walter Gilmore was born on September 29, 1902 in Selma, Alabama. He enlisted in the United States Navy in November of 1920. About two years later, he was appointed to the United States Naval Academy, from which he graduated with the class of 1926 and commissioned as an Ensign. In 1930, he volunteered for submarine duty and remained with the "Silent Service" for the remainder of his service.

The day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor - December 8, 1941 - now Lieutenant Commander Gilmore was appointed as the first captain of the Gato-class submarine USS Growler (SS-215), still under construction. Growler, under Gilmore's command, completed three war patrols during 1942. The boat was a highly-effective fighting unit, having sunk six enemy ships on those patrols. Growler and her crew received many commendations, and Gilmore was promoted to full Commander.

During Growler's fourth war patrol that began in January of 1943, Commander Gilmore, on February 7, cemented his place for all time in the lore and most honored roster of our Navy's submarine force.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

How capitalism works, plus a catchy new song!

I'm a big fan of capitalism - real capitalism - not the corporatist/statist crony construct that passes for and is assumed to be capitalism under present day memes.

In the last day, I found a great example of how capitalism works. It starts with a cup of coffee.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

TFH 2/3: Second Lieutenant Raymond G. Murphy, USMCR

Raymond Gerald Murphy, normally known as "Jerry", was born on January 14, 1930 in Pueblo, Colorado. After graduating from Adams State College (Alamosa, CO) in May 1951, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and was accepted for Officer Candidates School. He received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in November of that year, and after advanced training as an infantry officer, went to war in Korea where he joined the active Marine Corps' 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

Officers commanding men in combat are expected to lead from the front, and not to leave a battlefield until all their men are accounted for. Sixty years ago today on Feburary 3, 1953, Murphy was wounded multiple times while leading his platoon in the attack. He never ceased urging his men forward against the communist enemy, and when the time to withdraw came, he personally provided covering fire for his Marines and swept the battlefield recovering casualties. Six months later in October 1953, he received the Medal of Honor for his courage from President Eisenhower at the White House.

Friday, February 01, 2013

The Columbia Seven - Ten Years

At approximately 8:59:32AM EST on February 1, 2003 - 15 days, 22:20:32 into her mission - Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102) was destroyed on reentry due to catastrophic damage suffered during the launch of STS-107 sixteen days before on January 16. All seven members of her crew perished.

TFH 2/1: Lieutenant Colonel Allan R. Baer, USAF

Two days ago, I related the story of Lieutenant Colonel Karl T. Feuerriegel and Captain Kenneth H. Sellers, two pilots with the 21st Tactical Air Support Squadron who were decorated with the Air Force Cross for their heroism on the day the communist Tet Offensive was launched in Vietnam. For a three-day period from January 30 to February 1, 1968, another of their fellow Cessna O-2 Skymaster pilots was similarly recognized for his aerial efforts over Nha Trang.

Allan R. Baer was born on January 29, 1929 in Detroit, Michigan. He enlisted in the United States Air Force before it was a year old as a separate service on July 2, 1948. After being trained as a radio operator, Baer was accepted into the aviation cadet program and received both his pilot's wings and an officer's commission. He flew both the Boeing B-29 Superfortress and B-47 Stratojet with the Air Force's Strategic Air Command during the 1950s. He was in his second of two consecutive combat tours in Vietnam between September 1966 and April 1968 when he entered the Air Force's ranks of greatest heroes.