Monday, September 23, 2013

TFH 9/23: Corporal James D. Slaton, USA

James Daniel Slaton was born in Laurel, Mississippi on April 2, 1910 or 1912 (there is a discrepancy in the records). He was drafted for service in World War II into the United States Army, and was assigned as a foot soldier with the 157th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Infantry Division.

Seventy years ago today on September 23, 1943 in action near Oliveto, Italy, Corporal Slaton advanced alone and used his bayonet, his M1 Garand rifle, and hand grenades to take out three Nazi machine guns that had pinned down two rifle platoons in the attack. His heroism was later recognized with the Medal of Honor.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

TFH 9/22: Second Lieutenant Ernest L. Childers, USA/OKNG

Ernest L. Childers, a Native American and member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, was born on February 1, 1918 in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. He enlisted in the Oklahoma National Guard in 1937, and was assigned to the 180th Infantry Regiment (today the 180th Cavalry) of the 45th Infantry Division, known as the "Thunderbirds" for the traditionally large Native American contingent in its ranks.

The Thunderbirds were federalized for service with the United States Army on September 16, 1941 as it looked more and more likely that the United States would be swept up into World War II. The division deployed overseas for combat in June 1943. They participated in the Allied invasion of Sicily, and then landed on the Italian mainland on September 10, 1943.

Twelve days later, Ernest Childers, now a Second Lieutenant and a platoon leader, embodied the 45th's motto of Semper Anticus - "Always Forward" -  when he placed himself repeatedly at risk and at the front of his soldiers as they drove tenaciously against enemy positions, and thereby entered the ranks of our Nation's greatest heroes.

Friday, September 13, 2013

An evening of blueberry yogurt, mojitos, & C-4!

This upcoming Monday night on my Conservative Daily News-hosted Internet radio show "Their Finest Hour Radio", I'm going to have a 90-minute special roundtable panel broadcast celebrating the seven seasons and 111 episodes of the USA Network hit series Burn Notice!

UPDATE 9/14, 5:10PM: Here's the link to save for the show broadcast on Monday night, 10E/9C/8M/7P!!!!!

UPDATE 9/15, 10:15PM: Scroll down to the bottom of the post for IMPORTANT UPDATES on the show program!!!!!

TFH 9/13-14: Corporal Charles E. Kelly, USA

By now, you should have read the stories of Arnold L. Bjorklund and William J. Crawford, both of whom were awarded the Medal of Honor while serving with the 36th Infantry Division in Italy on September 13, 1943 - seventy years ago today. Now, for the story of the third 36th Division soldier to receive our Nation's highest honor on that day of battle.

Charles E. Kelly was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 23, 1920. He grew up as what today would be called a "troubled youth", joining street gangs and often finding himself in trouble with the police. He entered service with the United States Army in May 1942, where his troubles continued, including occurrences of him being absent without leave.

Regardless, by the time the 36th stormed ashore on the Italian mainland at Salerno on September 9, 1943, he was a Corporal with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment. Four days later in action near Altavilla through September 14, he fought so hard and intensely that he was later known as "Commando Kelly, the One Man Army."

TFH 9/13: First Lieutenant Arnold L. Bjorklund, USA

Yesterday, I posted the first of three Medal of Honor recipients from September 13, 1943, Private William J. Crawford. Here is the second man to receive our Nation's highest honor for his actions that day following the Allied invasion of Italy on September 9, 1943.

Arnold L. Bjorklund was born on April 14, 1918 in Clinton, Washington. United States Army enlistment records show that he was a landscaping or nursery worker when he joined the Army on February 20, 1941. Bjorklund was eventually commissioned as an officer. He was a First Lieutenant with the 36th Infantry Division's 142nd Infantry Regiment when they landed at Salerno for their first combat action during World War II.

Four days later, he exemplified the best quality of a commander of men in combat: leadership can only be from the front. When his platoon was pinned down by multiple machine guns and then a mortar, Lieutenant Bjorklund ordered his men to give him cover as he dealt with the enemy alone.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

TFH 9/13 Advance: Private William J. Crawford, USA

Blogger's note: there are three Medal of Honor recipients from World War II on September 13, 1943. I am recounting the heroism of William Crawford a day early, as he has an incredible story from his life after his wartime experiences that deserves everyone's attention!

William John "Bill" Crawford was born on May 19, 1918 in Pueblo, Colorado where he was also raised and joined the United States Army from in July 1942. After training, he was assigned as a foot soldier to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment of the 36th Infantry Division, a National Guard unit federalized for war service.

The 36th Infantry Division's first combat action in World War II was the invasion of mainland Italy at Salerno on September 9, 1943. Four days later on September 13, the 36th was heavily engaged around the town of Altavilla, both attacking in the hills and facing determined counter-attacks from the Nazi Panzer Division Hermann Göring

On that day seventy years ago, Private William Crawford single-handedly took out three German machine guns that stood in the way of his platoon and company's attack with just his rifle and hand grenades. His unit's advance was assured after he captured one of the enemy guns and turned it upon the fleeing Germans.

Monday, September 09, 2013

TFH 9/9: Sergeant James M. Logan, USA/TXNG

James Marion Logan was born on December 19, 1920 in McNeil, Texas. He enlisted in the Texas National Guard at just fifteen years old in 1936. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment, part of the 36th Infantry Division. The division was activated for federal service with the United States Army on November 25, 1940 as it became increasingly likely that the United States would have to fight in World War II.

The 36th Division arrived in North Africa for staging and final training on April 13, 1943. Their first action would be the Americans' contribution to the invasion of mainland Italy - Operation AVALANCHE - scheduled for September 9, 1943.

At dawn on that day, the Fifth United States Army stormed ashore at Salerno. As the 36th's 142nd Regimental Combat Team got about one-half mile inland from the beach, they faced the first counter-attack by Nazi German soldiers of the 16th Panzer Division. In direct action first against an enemy machine gun, and then against a sniper position, then Sergeant James Logan helped insure that the American fighting man would be on the Italian mainland until victory, and later received the Medal of Honor for his heroism.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

A Thank You

I have one piece of unfinished business from my White House trip for the Medal of Honor presentation to US Army Staff Sergeant Ty M. Carter, which is to thank the White House press and media relations staff for the assistance I was given and the access I was granted.

TFH 9/4: Seaman First Class Johnnie David Hutchins, USNR

Johnnie David Hutchins was born in Weiner, Texas on August 4, 1922. He enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve in November 1942, and was sent for active service with the United States Navy in the war versus Japan across the expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

Hutchins was assigned the the USS LST-473 (LST-473) - tank landing ships being built so fast and so numerous there wasn't time or priority to actually give them names. On September 4, 1943, LST-473 transported Australian soldiers as part of the invasion fleet for the landings at Lae on New Guinea as part of the Salamaua-Lae Campaign.

As the ships approached shore with their assault troops, they came under attack from shore fires and Japanese aircraft, both level and torpedo bombers. LST-473 was struck in its pilot house and bridge area by a bomb. At that moment, an air-dropped torpedo was also making its way towards the now stricken landing ship. Johnnie Hutchins lay mortally wounded from the bomb blast, but it fell to him to steer his ship to safety out of the path of the torpedo. His final act placed him in the ranks of our nation's most honored heroes.