Friday, January 31, 2014

TFH 1/30-31: Sergeant Truman O. Olson, USA

Truman O. Olson was born on October 13, 1917 in Christiana, Wisconsin. He was drafted for service in the United States Army for World War II on June 19, 1942 at age 24 and according to his enlistment record, had spent his entire life around Christiana and nearby Cambridge and was working as a farm hand having only completed one year of high school.

After completing his training as an infantryman he was sent to Europe to join the 3rd Infantry Division as a replacement. He was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment. By late January 1944, he had attained the rank of Sergeant and was a machine gunner.

Olson landed with the 3rd Infantry Division at the Anzio beaches in Italy as part of Operation Shingle on January 22, 1944. Just over a week later, with the precarious, five-mile deep beachhead threatened by Nazi counter attacks, Olson and his comrades were locked in combat around the town of Cisterna.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

TFH 1/30 Part 2: Private First Class Lloyd C. Hawks, USA

Lloyd Cortez Hawks was born on January 13, 1911 in Becker, Minnesota. At age eight he moved to Michigan with his family, but returned to his native Minnesota after graduating from high school. In 1940 at age 29 he decided to enlist in the United States Army but was soon discharged for being too old and out of shape.

Two years later in 1942, the Army relented and with a two-front war being waged, accepted him back into service as a medic. After training, Hawks joined the 3rd Infantry Division's 30th Infantry Regiment during the Italian Campaign.

It was good that the Army gave him a second chance...

TFH 1/30 Part 1: Staff Sergeant Jesse R. Drowley, USA

Jesse Ray Drowley was born on September 9, 1919 in St. Charles, Michigan. His family moved often as he was growing up, and he was living in Spokane, Washington when he enlisted or was drafted into the United States Army (extensive searches don't turn up his enlistment record!).

Drowley was assigned as an infantryman with the 1st Battalion, 132nd Infantry Regiment as part of the Americal Division. The Americal was unique in World War II as it carried a name and not a numerical designation. The division got its name from "American, New Caledonia", the South Pacific island on which the unit was provisionally formed for defense in May 1942. While officially known later as the 23rd Infantry Division, the Americal name stuck.

The Americal, with then Staff Sergeant Jesse Drowley in its ranks, arrived on Bougainville as part of the Solomon Islands and New Guinea campaigns on Christmas Day 1943 to relieve the 3rd Marine Division who had been fighting there since November 1, 1943.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

TFH 1/28: Technician 5th Grade Eric G. Gibson, USA

Eric Gunnar Gibson was born in Nysund, Sweden on October 3, 1919. He emigrated as a child with his parents to the United States, where they settled in Chicago, Illinois. From Gibson's enlistment record, we know that he entered the United States Army on February 18, 1941. He's listed as a "selectee", so he was probably drafted. We also know that he only completed three years of high school and hadn't become a naturalized American citizen yet.

His peacetime occupation is listed as a "semiskilled meatcutter", and perhaps it was his civilian job experience that saw him placed in the Army Quartermaster Corps. Gibson was assigned to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment as a company cook. That regiment was part of the 3rd Infantry Division.

Cooks typically do not fight, unless a unit is being overrun. Having reached the rank of Technician Fifth Grade (Corporal) and caught the ear of his company commander, Gibson worked out a deal so he'd get to see action.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Their Finest Hour on VLR, January 27!

I'm back from last week's business trip and once again behind the Vigilant Liberty Radio microphone for Their Finest Hour tonight, January 27, 2014, at 10pm Eastern, 7pm Pacific! Thanks to Alex Kauffman (@alexkauff) for sitting in last week!


Friday, January 24, 2014

TFH 1/24: First Lieutenant Robert M. Hanson, USMCR

Robert Murray Hanson was born on February 4, 1920 to Methodist missionary parents in Luckow, India. While traveling through Europe en route to the United States to attend college in 1938, he witnessed the gathering storm of war first hand, having been present in Austria during the Nazi Anschluss.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Hanson was a student at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He left school and enlisted as a Naval Aviation cadet in May 1942. He received his Naval Aviator's "Wings of Gold" and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps Reserve on February 19, 1943. By June of 1943, Hanson had arrived for combat in the South Pacific with the USMC's Marine Fighting Squadron 215 (VMF-215).

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

TFH 1/22: Staff Sergeant Thomas E. McCall, USA (IN-ARNG)

Thomas Edward McCall was born in Burton, Kansas on May 9, 1916. He later relocated with his parents and family to Indiana, where they settled in Attica. McCall joined the Indiana National Guard in the 1930s, and was federalized for wartime service with the United States Army in 1942.

McCall was placed with the 36th Infantry Division in Company F, 2nd Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment. The division saw its first action during the Italian Campaign in 1943. On January 20, 1944, the 36th launched an ill-fated attempt to establish a bridgehead across the Rapido (Gari) River as part of the assault against the Nazi defenses known as the Winter or "Gustav" Line. This was the beginning of the Battle of Monte Cassino, which would rage for over four months.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Their Finest Hour LIVE, January 13: Ed Morrissey Returns! (UPDATE: Show Replay!)

I'm back with a new, live Their Finest Hour broadcast on Vigilant Liberty Radio Monday, January 13, 2014 at 10pm Eastern (9C/8M/7P) for a spin around the issues of the day with Ed Morrissey (@EdMorrissey) of!

TFH 1/11: Major James H. Howard, USAAF

James Howell Howard was born on April 13, 1913 to American parents in Guangzhou (Canton), China. Howard's father was an opthamologist teaching overseas. He and his family returned to the United States in 1927 and settled in St. Louis, Missouri.

After graduating from Pomona College in Claremont, California in 1937, Howard enlisted in the United States Navy as an aviation cadet in January of 1938 and was commissioned as an Ensign and received his Wings of Gold as a Naval Aviator a year later. He was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) operating from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Howard chose to leave the Navy in June, 1941 to join the 1st American Volunteer Group - the famous "Flying Tigers" fighting against the Japanese over Burma and China.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Roundtable of Extreme Liberty - January 7, 2014 show!

Taylor Millard (@EyeDesertBlog) and myself were back on Vigilant Liberty Radio (@VigilantLiberty) on Tuesday, January 7 with the Roundtable of Extreme Liberty. We had a bit of those "VLR growing pains" and "open source production values" when Taylor's computer crapped out as we went live, but we were able to get the show going and had a great discussion with our three entertaining panelists!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Their Finest Hour LIVE from January 6, 2014!

Last night, I got my Internet broadcasting year on Vigilant Liberty Radio off to a great start by welcoming my good friend, blogger with United Liberty and FreedomWorks, and indomitable libertarian Michelle Ray (@GaltsGirl) back to the program!

TFH 1/7: Sergeant Joe C. Specker, USA

Joe C. Specker was born in Odessa, Missouri on January 10, 1921. According to his enlistment record, his education ended with grade school, and he was drafted into the United States Army for World War II service on September 9, 1942 when he was 21 years old. Prior to his induction at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, it's recorded that he was a farm laborer.

Very little is known, or at least can be found, about him. He must have demonstrated leadership, because within 16 months of his enlistment he was a Sergeant with the 48th Engineer Combat Battalion fighting the Nazi Germans in Italy. Like so many of his American wartime comrades, Sergeant Specker had likely never traveled far from his home prior to being called to defend humanity and liberty.

The motto of the 48th Engineer Combat Battalion was "Open the Way". On January 7, 1944, Specker's battalion was advancing up the slopes of Mount Porchia. It was three days before his 23rd birthday. The 48th's advance was blocked by an enemy machine gun position supported by snipers.

Friday, January 03, 2014

TFH 1/3: Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, USMCR

Gregory Boyington was born in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho on December 4, 1912. His childhood was split between living in St. Maries, Idaho and Tacoma, Washington. He began attending the University of Washington in 1930, where he was also a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps. After college graduation in 1934 with a degree in aeronautical engineering, he received a commission as a United States Army Second Lieutenant and was placed into the Coastal Artillery Reserve.

He later left the Army, and was accepted into the United States Marine Corps Reserve as an aviation cadet on February 18, 1936. He received his "Wings of Gold" as a Naval Aviator on March 11, 1937 and his Marine officer's commission.

Boyington resigned his commission on August 26, 1941 to join the quasi-military 1st American Volunteer Group being formed by the Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company for war service in Asia along side the China Air Force: the famous "Flying Tigers". Boyington flew with the Flying Tigers into the spring of 1942, by which he had been credited with 3.5 aerial victories (3 kills, 1 assist) when he broke his contract to return to the United States.

His wartime service wasn't done though, not by a long shot.