Thursday, January 31, 2013

Harvesting Apathy

Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) gave one heck of a speech to the winter meeting of the Republican National Committee a week ago tonight. In fact, it was perhaps the best anti-statist speech given by an elected official in my recent memory. I encourage you to watch it if you haven't, or at least read Governor Jindal's remarks as prepared.

Just one of the great points he made spoke to building an electoral majority.
We must compete for every single vote. The 47 percent and the 53 percent. And any other combination of numbers that adds up to 100 percent. President Barack Obama and the Democrats can continue trying to divide America into groups of warring communities with competing interests, but we will have none of it. We are going after every vote as we work to unite all Americans.
He's absolutely right. Back in my electoral post-mortem (subheading "On Widening the Map") I noted the necessity of reaching voters, communities, and regions who are considered lost or not worth challenging for in the current political calculus. Libertarians and conservatives are doomed to defeat and extinction unless the map is widened.

There's another crop of citizens to harvest as well: the forty to sixty percent of Americans who don't politically engage or vote in biennial national elections. We've got to get past people's apathy and get them involved. And on that, I've got a wild premise. Could it be that American apathy is actually an asset in disguise?

TFH 1/31: First Lieutenant Jefferson J. DeBlanc, USMCR

Jefferson Joseph DeBlanc was born on February 15, 1921 in Lockport, Louisiana. He enlisted in the United States Navy Reserve on July 29, 1941 and was accepted into the aviation cadet program to produce Naval Aviators. He was given a reserve commission as a United States Marine Corps Second Lieutenant on May 4, 1942 and became a fighter pilot flying the Grumman F4F Wildcat.

In October 1942, DeBlanc was assigned to Marine Fighting Squadron 112 (VMF-112) and deployed for the Guadalcanal Campaign, arriving in theatre on November 2, 1942. He shot down his first enemy aircraft about two weeks later. On January 29, 1943, DeBlanc was forced to ditch his Wildcat in Ironbottom Sound, but was rescued by an American destroyer and was soon back with his squadron and flying.

Two days later - exactly 70 years ago - on January 31, 1943, now First Lieutenant DeBlanc led an escorting flight of six fighters that accompanied bomber aircraft. Despite the fact that his plane was leaking fuel and suffered battle damage, he refused to abandon the bombers to enemy action, stayed on station, and permitted them to hit their targets even though his own aircraft was assuredly doomed.

For his valor above and beyond the normal call of duty, Jefferson DeBlanc received our Nation's highest honor.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

TFH 1/30: The Skies Over Nha Trang

January 30, 1968 was a Tuesday - and the beginning of the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War. The communist North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong guerrillas attacked throughout South Vietnam, particularly in rear areas.

The city of Nha Trang and the local air base, home to the United States Air Force's 21st Tactical Air Support Squadron, were targets. Two of the 21st TASS' pilots boarded their Cessna O-2 Skymaster aircraft, normally just used for forward air control duties, and engaged the enemy.

The two heroic pilots were Lieutenant Colonel Karl T. Feuerriegel and Captain Kenneth H. Sellers.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

TFH 1/29: Five Navy Crosses at Guadalcanal

Seventy years ago today on January 29-30, 1943, two different actions occurred during the waning days of the Guadalcanal Campaign as the Japanese attempted to evacuate their forces from the island in defeat. One action was an Allied success, the other a defeat.

Two minesweeper/corvettes of the Royal New Zealand Navy, the HMNZS Kiwi (T102) and HMNZS Moa (T233), engaged the Japanese submarine I-1 off the north shore of Guadalcanal as the sub was trying to deliver supplies to the island. Kiwi and Moa exhausted their depth charges and drove the enemy to the surface. The two New Zealand ships' guns were too small to damage the Japanese vessel, so their captains used their own ships as weapons, ramming the enemy to sink her. Three of the New Zealanders were decorated by the United States Navy for their courage in securing the overall objective of a Japanese defeat at Guadalcanal.

Further south in the Solomon Islands, a United States Navy task force approaching the main battle area with the mission of trying to stop the Japanese evacuation came under attack by enemy bombers. The Battle of Rennell Island resulted in the sinking of the heavy cruiser USS Chicago (CA-29) and heavy damage to the destroyer USS La Vallette (DD-448).

Monday, January 21, 2013

TFH 1/21: Captain Paul T. Johnson, USAF

Paul T. Johnson was born on April 26, 1958. He gained a commission in the United States Air Force in 1985 via Officers Training School at Lackland Air Force Base (today Joint Base San Antonio) in San Antonio, Texas. He was trained as a Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot and was flying with the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing in combat over Iraq and Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm.

On January 21, 1991, then Captain Johnson's A-10 and another from the 354th wing were tasked to support a search and rescue mission for a United States Navy F-14 Tomcat crew who had been shot down the night before. Over six hours, Johnson led his flight extremely deep into enemy territory at great risk. His courage and airmanship meant the rescue was successful, and he was decorated with the second-highest award the Air Force could have bestowed: the Air Force Cross.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

TFH 1/20: Marine Reservists PFC James Dunn, Jr. and 2ndLt Robert M. LaPrade

Members of the United States Marine Corps are often referred to as "Devil Dogs". The 3rd Battalion of the 6th Marine Regiment are the true Teufelhunden, so named by the Germans who were routed by this battalion during World War I's Battle of Belleau Wood. As the relatively new 2nd Marine Division gained strength in 1941 and 1942, they incorporated many members of the Marine Corps Reserve into their formations.

Two such Marine reservists found themselves fighting on Guadalcanal seventy years ago today as members of 3/6 Marines and showed extraordinary heroism. The two Devil Dogs were Private First Class James Dunn, Jr. and Second Lieutenant Robert M. LaPrade.

Friday, January 18, 2013

TFH 1/18: Second Lieutenant Kenneth L. Christy, Jr., USMC

On January 18, 1968, the United States Marine Corps' 3rd Marine Division was locked in combat in Vietnam near the demilitarized zone that separated North and South Vietnam. On that day, a young platoon leader with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment led his men forward to relieve a fellow platoon under heavy attack and when the company commander was struck down, took command of the entire company and led the defense until they could be relieved.

That Marine officer was Kenneth L. Christy, Jr., and for his courage, he received the Navy Cross.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

TFH 1/17: Captain Ralph H. Currin, USMCR

The United States Marine Corps' 2nd Marine Division began fighting in relief of their brother Leathernecks of the 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal on January 8, 1943. During three days of fighting along the Matanikau River - January 15-17, 1943 - the operations officer for the 2nd Marine Division's 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment placed himself at the front of a casualty-stricken rifle company and rallied them to victory. Captain Ralph H. Currin, a Marine Reserve officer, was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

TFH 1/12: Captain Charles W. Davis, USA

Blogger's note: due to a clerical error on my part, this post should have appeared on Saturday, January 12, 2013, the seventieth anniversary of the events described. Please accept my sincere apologies.

Charles Willis Davis was born in Gordo, Alabama on February 21, 1917. He spent time with the Alabama National Guard prior to World War II, and went to war in the active United States Army with the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment and the 25th Infantry Division on Guadalcanal.

On January 12, 1943, Davis was 2-27 Infantry's executive officer during the Battle of Mount Austen, the Galloping Horse, and the Sea Horse. He volunteered to carry orders forward to the battalion's isolated and heavily engaged companies, and remained with them to lead them in combat. His heroism was recognized later in 1943 with the Medal of Honor.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

TFH 1/15: SP5 Dwight H. Johnson, USA

Dwight Hal "Skip" Johnson was born on May 7, 1947 in Detroit, Michigan. He was drafted into the United States Army, and at age 20 in January of 1968, held the rank of Specialist 5th Class and was assigned as a driver of an M48A3 Patton tank with the 1st Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment. At the time, this battalion was attached to the 4th Infantry Division.

On January 15, 1968, the tank Johnson was driving was immobilized due to a thrown track. The fight for its driver, however, was just beginning.

Monday, January 14, 2013

TFH 1/14: First Lieutenant John E. Warren, USAR

The motto of the United States Army's 22nd Infantry Regiment is "Deeds, not Words". On January 14, 1969, a 22-year old First Lieutenant platoon leader with the regiment's 2nd Battalion, a component of the 25th Infantry Division, embodied the regiment's motto literally when he saved the lives of three of his subordinates by smothering the blast of a grenade. John Earl Warren, Jr. hailed from Brooklyn, New York, held a US Army Reserve commission, and was posthumously decorated with the Medal of Honor for his act of supreme and unselfish courage.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

TFH 1/13: Technical Sergeant Walter C. Borawski & Sergeant Howard C. Hensley, Jr., USMC

Sixty years ago today on January 13, 1953, one platoon of the United States Marine Corps' Company G, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division raided forward from the main combat line against an enemy occupied hilltop. When the platoon leader was struck by enemy fire, the platoon sergeant, Technical Sergeant Walter C. Borawski, took command and continued to press the attack until he was knocked out by a grenade. After Borawski became a casualty, Sergeant Howard C. Hensley, Jr., a squad leader, took command after having previously rescued the platoon leader under fire.

Both of these gallant Marines received the second-highest award for valor they could have: the Navy Cross.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

TFH 1/12: Sergeant William D. Port, USA

William David Port was born on October 13 or 31, 1941 in Petersburg, Pennsylvania. He was living in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania when in late 1966 or early 1967 at age 25 he was an older draftee into the United States Army. He was sent to combat in Vietnam as a Private First Class and joined the airmobile troops of the 1st Cavalry Division in the 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment.

Friday, January 11, 2013

TFH 1/11-12 (and 2/1-2): Lieutenant Clark W. Faulkner, USNR

Over the past several months as I've recounted stories of heroism from World War II on their 70th anniversaries, you've had occasion to read the exploits of brave United States Navy and United States Naval Reserve officers who commanded PT boats: Medal of Honor recipient LCDR John D. Bulkeley, Navy Cross and Distinguished Service Cross recipient LT Robert B. Kelly, and Navy Cross recipient LT Lester H. Gamble.

Today, we add a fourth name to that roster of gallant PT commanders: Lieutenant Clark Woods Faulkner, USNR.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

TFH 1/10: Tropic Lightning On Guadalcanal

By January 10, 1943, the days of the Imperial Japanese Army on Guadalcanal were numbered. They were largely cut off from reinforcement and resupply, and their withdrawal and defeat were just a matter of time. This fact did not, however, reduce the enemy's tenacity or dampen their fanatical fighting spirit.

The United States Army's 25th Infantry Division, "Tropic Lightning", had begun landing on Guadalcanal in December 1942. This day, 70 years ago, was one of their first in combat. Company M of the division's 35th Infantry Regiment (this would have been the 3rd or 4th battalion) found themselves under heavy counterattack by the Japanese on the slopes of Mout Austen.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

TFH 1/9: LCDR John R. Pierce, USN

The USS Argonaut (SS-166) was the only submarine of the United States Navy designed and constructed with minelaying as its primary mission and was the largest submarine constructed by the United States until the advent of nuclear power. She was commissioned on April 2, 1928.

Shortly after America's entry into World War II, Argonaut completed an overhaul at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in California during which her minelaying equipment was removed. When she arrived back at Pearl Harbor, Argonaut was further modified to carry troops on raiding missions. Submarine-borne raids proved particularly effective and included attacks such as the one on Makin Island.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

TFH 1/8: 2nd Lieutenant Douglas F. Lambert, USMCR and Sergeant Thomas P. McGuire, USMC

In January 1953, the Korean War was entering its last six months of the bloody, back-and-forth stalemate between the United Nations' forces defending South Korea and the aggressor Communist Chinese. Sixty years ago today - January 8, 1953 - Company I of the United States Marine Corps' 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division launched an attack against a fortified hilltop.

One platoon leader, a 23-year old Marine Reservist, was struck down leading his Marines' charge and continued to direct their attack while refusing evacuation until the rest of his wounded comrades were cared for. Elsewhere, a 22-year old Sergeant squad leader single handedly cleared an enemy trench hand-to-hand and took command of forces on the flank of the attack whose leaders had become casualties.

Both of these Marines received the second-highest award for valor: the Navy Cross.

Monday, January 07, 2013

TFH 1/7: Three "CAP" Marines, Three Navy Crosses

During the Vietnam War, the United States Marine Corps realized that the fight against the Viet Cong communist insurgency couldn't succeed unless isolated Vietnamese populations were made better able to defend themselves against the enemy. Reinforced Marine rifle squads began to be assigned to villages and hamlets to train the local militias and fight along side them. In 1967, the practice was formalized by the III Marine Amphibious Force as the Combined Action Program.

CAP Marines volunteered for this duty. As one former member of CAP has written:
Images of fanatical Viet Cong pouring out of the villages, jungles, and rice paddies hovered in the mind of each of us as we hunkered down for our first night of sleep in such supposedly hostile territory. That first night each new Marine and Corpsman counted the friendly faces of a handful of Americans, then looked with mixed emotions at a poorly equipped platoon of Vietnamese Popular Forces, the local village "militia". 
Each Marine or Corpsman certainly pondered the distance to the nearest American military base. Each calculated how long it would take for help to arrive. Each knew that, when needed, help would probably not arrive in time.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

TFH 1/6: Major Patrick H. Brady, USA

Patrick Henry Brady was born in Philip, South Dakota on October 1, 1936. He grew up in Seattle, Washington. He began college studies at Seattle University in the mid-1950s where he became frustrated with the mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) participation in those days. He was eventually kicked out, but he reexamined his priorities when he figured he would be drafted into service anyway after his graduation. This time, he was successful and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army's Medical Service Corps in 1959.

In 1963, Brady completed the Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Alabama and became a medical evacuation helicopter pilot. In 1965 he completed his first tour during the Vietnam War with the 57th Medical Detachment. Two years later in 1967, he began his second tour in Vietnam, and ultimately joined the ranks of our Nation's greatest heroes.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

TFH 1/5: Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker, USAAF

Kenneth Newton Walker was born on July 17, 1898 in Cerillos, New Mexico. He later lived in Denver, Colorado. Walker began his service to the United States when he enlisted in the United States Army at nineteen years old on December 15, 1917.

Walker was accepted into the fledgling United States Army Air Service and received a temporary commission as a Second Lieutenant. He did not serve overseas during World War I, but nonetheless was allowed to remain in the Army and received a permanent commission on July 1, 1920. As the Air Service became the Air Corps in 1926, and throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Walker was a key participant in developing the doctrine and tactics for combat aviation that would prove their worth during World War II.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

TFH 1/3: Gunnery Sergeant Joseph F. Covella, USMC

Joseph Francis Covella was born on October 17, 1928 and hailed from Brooklyn, New York. He joined the United States Marine Corps in 1947 and fought during the Korean War with the 1st Marine Division's 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. He received the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry in action on September 20, 1951.

Covella remained in the Marines into the 1960s and was sent to Vietnam in 1965 as an advisor to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). His specialty was weapons instruction, and he was assigned to South Vietnam's 1st Infantry Divsion in the 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment. Our brave men and women in uniform, when serving with allied units as advisors, are held to the same standards of conduct and expected behavior in the face of an enemy as if they were with our own forces.

On January 3, 1966, then Gunnery Sergeant Covella volunteered to remain with a rear guard to cover the withdrawal of the Vietnamese infantry company he was with as they were in danger of being overwhelmed by the enemy and was forced to withdraw. He remained behind with the wounded providing covering fires as those who could escape did so. His "extraordinary heroism" cost him his life, and he was posthumously decorated with the second-highest award he could have received: the Navy Cross.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

TFH 1/2: SFC Junior D. Edwards, USA

Junior Dean Edwards was born in Indianola, Iowa on October 7, 1926. He was drafted into the United States Army in 1945, too late to serve during World War II, but stayed in the service and on January 2, 1951 found himself fighting with the 2nd Infantry Division in the Korean War.

Edwards, assigned to Company E (2nd Battalion) of the 23rd Infantry Regiment, charged ahead three times alone against enemy machine guns in daring counter attacks, repelled twice only after exhausting all of his ammunition and grenades, and the third time when cut down by the enemy. His indomitable courage and fighting spirit were posthumously recognized with our Nation's highest honor.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

TFH 1/1: SFC Rodney J. T. Yano, USA

Rodney Jamus Takahashi Yano was born in Kealakekua Kona, Hawaii on December 13, 1943. He joined the United States Army in 1963, and by New Year's Day 1969 was a helicopter crew chief with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, "Blackhorse", with the rank of Sergeant First Class. The 11th ACR fought in Vietnam from 1966-1972.

On this day in 1969, SFC Yano's helicopter was marking enemy positions with smoke and white phosphorous incendiaries for attack by other units and acting as a door gunner when one of the "WP" grenades detonated within the aircraft. Yano was set aflame by the burning phosphorous and incurred further wounds that would prove mortal as he sacrificed himself to save his comrades and the helicopter as he threw burning ammunition overboard. He posthumously received the Medal of Honor.