HEROES






 
◊   Nicholas Winton, rescuer of children during the Holocaust, dies at 106, By Emily Langer
◊   Private Henry Johnson distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of heroism, By Congressional Medal of Honor Society
◊   Walter F. Mazzone, Navy veteran who helped lead Sealab, dies at 96, By Emily Langer
◊   Gene Windsor, who rescued Air Florida crash survivors in 1982, dies at 74, By Matt Schudel
◊   Remembering Louis Zamperini
◊   Ola L. Mize, Honored for Heroics in Korean War, Dies at 82, By Douglas Martin
◊   Pensioner who hid medals and absconded from care home found at D-Day celebrations in France, By Ben Farmer
◊   Last of original group of Navajo Code Talkers dies
◊   Not all heroes are military - or even adults
◊   Bill Ash, WWII prisoner who attempted multiple escapes from POW camps, dies at 96
◊   Kurt Chew-Enn Lee, Marine Corps Hero dies at 88.
◊   Walter D. Ehlers, Medal of Honor recipient who took part in D-Day, dies at 92
◊   Nick "Nicky" Bacon, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient for heroism during the Vietnam War passed away at the age of 65.
◊   John J. McGinty III, Vietnam veteran who received the Medal of Honor, dies at 73
◊   Mavis Batey, code breaker during World War II, dies at 92
◊   John D. "Bud" Hawk World War 2 veteran and Medal of Honor recipient has passed away at the age of 89
◊   Nicholas Oresko, Oldest Medal of Honor recipient dies at 96
◊   Bud Day, Vietnam veteran who received the Medal of Honor, dies
◊   Wildfire Tragedy in Arizona
◊   Honoring our First Responders
◊   Bob Fletcher, who saved farms of interned Japanese Americans, dies at 101
◊   Texas Fire Fighters Fatalities
◊   Maureen Dunn, Vietnam widow and advocate for POWs, MIAs and their families, dies at 72
◊   Emil Kapaun, who ministered to Korean War POWs, to receive posthumous medal
◊   Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist, conspirator in plot to kill Hitler, dies
◊   Thomas C. Griffin, Doolittle Raider
◊   Hard-working actor Charles Durning dies at 89
◊   Reis Leming, American airman who rescued 27 people in historic 1953 British storm, dies at 81
◊   Medal of Honor recipient James L. Stone, 89, dies
◊   Joe Vaghi dies; Navy beachmaster who helped lead the invasion of Omaha Beach on D-Day was 92
◊   Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Woodrow W. Crockett dies; decorated Tuskegee Airman served in World War II, Korean War
◊   Neil Armstrong, first man to step on the moon, dies at 82
◊   Tuskegee airman George Hickman 88 dies
◊   Bob Slaughter, D-Day veteran who helped create National Memorial in Bedford,Va.
◊   Wesley A. Brown, first black Naval Academy graduate, dies at 85
◊   Margie Stewart, U.S. militarys official pinup in World War II, dies
◊   OSS agent who led WWII rescue of more than 500 US airmen shot down by Nazis dies in NY
◊   Raymond Aubrac, French Resistance leader, dies at 97
◊   Joseph L. Stephenson, decorated World War II Army officer, Prince Georges teacher and coach, dies at 93
◊   William R. Charette, Medal of Honor recipient, dies at 79
◊   George Kerchner, Army Ranger who led D-Day attack on German gun positions, dies at 93
◊   Decorated World War II vet who later fought for right to fly U.S. flag at home in Va. dies at 92
◊   Tina Strobos, Dutch student who rescued 100 Jews during the Holocaust, dies at 91
◊   'Band of Brothers' veteran Buck Compton dead at 90
◊   J. Cameron Wade, World War II veteran and activist for forgotten black soldiers, dies at 87
◊   Warren A. Skon, Navy ace pilot in WWII
◊   John F. Baker Jr., Medal of Honor recipient, dies at 66
◊   Mike Colalillo WWII medal of honor recipient dead at 86
◊   Gordon Hirabayashi, Japanese American who defied internment order, dies at 93
◊   Nancy Wake, 'White Mouse' of World War II, dies at 98, by Adam Bernstein
◊   Ace Navy pilot led National Security Agency under Nixon administration, by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   Reginald Augustine, part of secret mission to find Nazi scientists, dies at 97, by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   John R. Alison, daring WWII ace who led Burma invasion, dies at 98, by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   Paul J. Wiedorfer, WWII Medal of Honor recipient, dies at 89, by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   Obituary: Kim Hill, 44, whose fight with leukemia led to first Ronald McDonald House, by Dennis McLellan
◊   Last U.S. World War I veteran Frank W. Buckles dies at 110, by Paul Duggan
◊   Christian J. Lambertsen, OSS officer who created early scuba device, dies at 93, by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   Bill Bower, last surviving bomber pilot of WWII Doolittle Raid, dies at 93, by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   Obituary: Richard 'Dick' Winters, courageous WWII officer portrayed in 'Band of Brothers', by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   Geraldine Doyle, 86, dies; one-time factory worker inspired Rosie the Riveter and 'We Can Do It!' poster, by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   Frank Bessac, anthropologist who made daring escape from war-torn China, dies at 88, by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller, 92, dies, by Matt Schudel
◊   Honoring Bill Mauldin, Sgt., USA - America's Greatest War Cartoonist (An edited anonymous email received by Papa Chris, December 2010)
◊   A Local Life: Margaret Kerr Boylan, 89, piloted military planes around U.S. during World War II, by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   Some Thoughts on the Recent Medal of Honor Award, by Christopher M. Clarke
◊   Obama awards Medal of Honor to Giunta, by John Ryan
◊   John K. Beling, commander of aircraft carrier during 1967 fire at sea, dies at 91, by Timothy R. Smith
◊   WWII Aviator's Long Journey To His Final Resting Place, by Michael E. Ruane
◊   Obituary: David H. McNerney, 79, received Medal of Honor for Vietnam actions, by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   Federal employees honored with Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, by Joe Davidson
◊   Last Lakota code talker Clarence Wolf Guts dies at 86, by Holly Meyer
◊   Jerome M. McCabe, survivor of Korean War's Battle of Chosin Reservoir, dies at 84, by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   Medal of Honor recipient David C. Dolby dies at 64; had troubled post-military career, by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   Vernon J. Baker, African American Medal of Honor recipient, dies at 90, by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   A Hero and a National Disgrace, by Christian Davenport
◊   James McLaurin, member of famed Tuskegee Airmen; at 87, by J.M. Lawrence
◊   Korean War documentary, 'Uncommon Courage: Breakout at Chosin,' debuts, By Neely Tucker
◊   Oldest Medal of Honor recipient from WWII dies, by Julie Watson
◊   A Memorial Day Tribute
◊   Edward Uhl, 92; helped invent bazooka, headed Fairchild Industries, by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   Dorothy "Dottie" Kamenshek dead; women's professional baseball player, by Matt Schudel
◊   Walker M. "Bud" Mahurin, a top flying ace, dies at 91, by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   Robert Grimes dies at 87; WWII pilot evaded Nazi capture, by Peter Eisner
◊   Jaime Escalante dies, inspired 1988 film 'Stand and Deliver', By Jay Mathews
◊   Heinz Stahlschmidt dies; demolitions expert thwarted razing of Bordeaux, By by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   Officers Who Shot Pentagon Gunman Recall Moments Of Mayhem, By Christian Davenport
◊   WW2 Renegades Saved Lives, By T. Rees Shapiro
◊   2 Teens Injured In Colorado Middle School Shooting, By Samantha Abernethy
◊   Soldier stormed Japanese machine gun bunker, by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   Freya von Moltke dies; Led Nazi Resistance Kreisau Circle, by Emily Langer
◊   Medal of Honor recipient Col. Robert L. Howard dies at 70, by T. Rees Shapiro
◊   Miep Gies was the last link to Anne Frank, by Monica Hesse
◊   Jasper Schuringa subdued alleged terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Northwest Airlines 253, by Soraya Roberts
◊   Passengers subdued man with satchels on Dulles-Vegas flight, by Avis Thomas-Lester and Martin Weil







Nicholas Winton, rescuer of children during the Holocaust, dies at 106, By Emily Langer

Emily Langer, Published July 1, 2015

Nicholas Winton, rescuer of children during the Holocaust, dies at 106. Inspired by the Kindertransport, a rescue operation then in place for children in Germany and Nazi-occupied Austria, Mr. Winton set about a mission he called his "wartime gesture." He was credited with saving, through his personal initiative, the lives of at least 669 boys and girls. For decades after the war, he kept his work secret. Read his story here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/nicholas-winton-rescuer-of-children-during-the-holocaust-dies-at-106/2015/07/01/78abbe24-2001-11e5-bf41-c23f5d3face1_story.html














Private Henry Johnson distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of heroism

Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Issued June 2, 2015

Private Henry Johnson distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of heroism at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a member of Company C, 369th Infantry Regiment, 93d Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces on May 15, 1918, during combat operations against the enemy on the front lines of the Western Front in France. For more on his citation, see http://www.cmohs.org/recipient-detail/3517/johnson-henry.php.













Walter F. Mazzone, Navy veteran who helped lead Sealab, dies at 96

By Emily Langer, Published September 9

Walter F. Mazzone, a retired Navy captain who pushed the limits of human underwater activity in battle and in peace, first aboard submarines during World War II and later with the Navy's pioneering Sealab program, died Aug. 7 at his home in San Diego. He was 96. For more on his remarkable life, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/walter-f-mazzone-navy-veteran-who-helped-lead-sealab-dies-at-96/2014/09/09/272f5dce-3378-11e4-a723-fa3895a25d02_story.html.












Gene Windsor, who rescued Air Florida crash survivors in 1982, dies at 74

By Matt Schudel, Published September 3

Not all heroes are military. M.E. "Gene" Windsor, who died of a cerebral aneurysm on August 24, risked his life repeatedly to rescue survivors from the January 13, 1982 Air Florida crash in the frozen Potomac River. As a helicopter-borne paramedic, he repeatedly hauled survivors in from the frozen river, standing on the helicopter's skids with no safety harness. Read about his heroic actions at http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/me-gene-windsor-who-rescued-air-florida-crash-survivors-in-1982-dies-at-74/2014/09/03/3bbfe206-32c2-11e4-9e92-0899b306bbea_story.html.












Remembering Louis Zamperini


Louis Zamperini, both an Olympic and War hero, who lived an amazing life and survived the worst that can be thrown at a person, died in early July at 97. For more on his fascinating life, see Lee Habeeb (National Review), Remembering Louis Zamperini, A soldier who taught the world about heroism, love, and redemption." or Cindy Boren (Washington Post) "Louis Zamperini, war hero, Olympian and subject of best-seller, dies at 97". Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption" (2010) tells his story, as will a movie--to open on Christmas Day 2014--directed by Angelina Jolie.













Ola L. Mize, Honored for Heroics in Korean War, Dies at 82

By Douglas Martin, NY Times, Published: March 18

Ola L. Mize, a sharecropper's son who was awarded the Medal of Honor for valor after leading his outnumbered men in harrowing combat in the Korean War and single-handedly killing dozens of enemy soldiers, died on March 5 at his home in Gadsden, Ala. He was 82. See full story at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/17/us/ola-l-mize-korean-war-hero-dies-at-82.html.














Pensioner who hid medals and absconded from care home found at D-Day celebrations in France

By Ben Farmer, Defence Correspondent, Published: June 4

"Pensioner who hid medals and absconded from care home found at D-Day celebrations in France. The 89-year old was reported missing from his Hove care home but actually sneaked onboard a coach for a final reunion with his D-Day comrades across the Channel." See his amazing and inspiring story at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/10881513/Pensioner-who-hid-medals-and-absconded-from-care-home-found-at-D-Day-celebrations-in-France.html.














Last of original group of Navajo Code Talkers dies

By Associated Press, Published: June 4

The language he once was punished for speaking in school became Chester Nez's primary weapon in World War II. Read more here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/last-of-original-group-of-navajo-code-talkers-dies/2014/06/04/68e08aa6-ec09-11e3-b10e-5090cf3b5958_story.html?tid=sm_fb














Not all heroes are military - or even adults

By Susan Svrluga, Published: May 8, Washington Post

As we think about heroes, let us keep in mind Marty Cobb. He started off a tiny boy, born prematurely and survived open-heart surgery at 3 months. He grew up fast, and took to heart his mother's injunction that he was the "man of the family." He adored his older sister, and took his responsibility seriously always to try to protect her. On May 1, he tried to do just that.

Marty and his sister were playing behind the house, near the railroad tracks in Richmond, VA, as they often did, while Mom was cooking chicken and macaroni and cheese, Marty's favorite dinner.

Suddenly, a teenaged neighbor burst through the back door, carrying Marty's bleeding sister. The girl told her mother that she'd been attacked and that Marty had tried to fight off the attacker. The teenager said an older white man had attacked the children, but within hours, police arrested and charged the very teenager who had carried the girl home in connection with the attack on Marty's sister. Marty was killed in the struggle, his head crushed with a brick. His body was lying on the railroad tracks. Marty was eight years old.

(Source: The Washington Post, May 10, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/richmond-community-working-to-make-sure-that-marty-cobb-is-not-forgotten/2014/05/08/90c9be3e-d6bf-11e3-aae8-c2d44bd79778_story.html)







Bill Ash, WWII prisoner who attempted multiple escapes from POW camps, dies at 96

By Matt Schudel, Published: May 10, Washington Post

Bill Ash, a Texas-born fighter pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force, who was shot down over France and made more than a dozen daring efforts to escape from German prisoner-of-war camps during World War II, died April 26 in London. He was 96." For more information on this hero's fascinating adventures, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/bill-ash-wwii-prisoner-who-attempted-multiple-escapes-from-pow-camps-dies-at-96/2014/05/10/163bc34a-d79d-11e3-8a78-8fe50322a72c_story.html












Kurt Chew-Enn Lee, Marine Corps Hero dies at 88.

By Bart Barnes, Washington Post, Published: March 12

As a first lieutenant and platoon leader in 1950, Kurt Chew-Een Lee earned the Navy Cross and the Silver Star, two of the military's highest combat decorations for valor, in a 36-day period that included some of the fiercest and highest-casualty fighting of the Korean War. Read about his heroic actions that saved thousands of American lives during the Korean War here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/kurt-chew-een-lee-marine-corps-hero-dies-at-88/2014/03/12/e8a474be-a947-11e3-8599-ce7295b6851c_story.html











Walter D. Ehlers, Medal of Honor recipient who took part in D-Day, dies at 92

By Matt Schudel, Washington Post, Published: February 22

Walter D. Ehlers, the last surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor to participate in the D-Day invasion of Normandy during World War II, died Feb. 20 at a veterans' hospital in Long Beach, Calif. He was 92. Read his incredible story of heroism here. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/walter-d-ehlers-medal-of-honor-recipient-who-took-part-in-d-day-dies-at-92/2014/02/22/d2a4e6fa-9be9-11e3-9080-5d1d87a6d793_story.html











Nick "Nicky" Bacon, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient for heroism during the Vietnam War passed away at the age of 65.

By Emma Brown, Washington Post, Published: July 19 (2010)

Editor's note: Nick Bacon passed away in 2010 and was 1st Sergeant of Mike Poole's MP training at Fort McClellan, Alabama. He died in 2010. Mike is a black belt under sensei Jan Hansen in Ohio.


Nicky Daniel "Nick" Bacon (November 25, 1945 - July 17, 2010) was a United States Army first sergeant from the Americal Division who served during the Vietnam War. For his actions in combat in Tam Ky, Vietnam, Bacon was awarded America's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor. He served his first of two combat tours in Vietnam in 1966 during which he was wounded three times. On his first mission in Vietnam, the helicopter he was riding in collided with another, killing everyone except Bacon and one other soldier Bacon volunteered to serve a second combat tour in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. He reached the rank of staff sergeant while serving with Company B, 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 11th Infantry Brigade of the Americal Division. On August 26, 1968, while leading a squad in Bravo Company's 1st Platoon, in an operation west of Tam K?, Bacon and his unit came under fire from enemy positions. While Bacon destroyed these positions with hand grenades, his platoon leader was wounded in open ground. Assuming command, Bacon led the platoon in destroying still more enemy emplacements.

Read his amazing story here http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/18/AR2010071802808.html







John J. McGinty III, Vietnam veteran who received the Medal of Honor, dies at 73

By Emily Langer, Washington Post, Published: January 21



John J. McGinty III, a retired Marine Corps captain who received the Medal of Honor for his efforts to lead, protect and rally his outnumbered platoon during an assault in a jungle in Vietnam, died Jan. 17 at his home in Beaufort, S.C. He was 73. For more information please see http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/john-j-mcginty-iii-vietnam-veteran-who-received-the-medal-of-honor-dies-at-73/2014/01/21/e5719d8c-81ef-11e3-9dd4-e7278db80d86_story.html











Mavis Batey, code breaker during World War II, dies at 92

By Emily Langer, Washington Post, Published: November 16



Mavis Batey was a British student of 19, when she was recruited for a top-secret assignment during World War II. Little did she know, the codes she broke would help win the war. Read about amazing story here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/mavis-batey-bletchley-park-code-breaker-in-world-war-ii-dies-at-92/2013/11/16/ef8682cc-4d49-11e3-9890-a1e0997fb0c0_story.html?tid=auto_complete










John D. "Bud" Hawk World War 2 veteran and Medal of Honor recipient has passed away at the age of 89

By Emily Langer, Washington Post, Published: November 7

John D. "Bud" Hawk World War 2 veteran and Medal of Honor recipient has passed away at the age of 89. Read about his life and heroic actions below.

*Currently there are only 78 recipients of the Medal of Honor still living. Of this 78, eight earned their medal in WW2.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/john-d-bud-hawk-world-war-ii-veteran-and-medal-of-honor-recipient-dies-at-89/2013/11/07/f69401d8-47c3-11e3-b6f8-3782ff6cb769_story.html









Oldest Medal of Honor recipient dies at 96

Associated Press, Published: October 6

Nicholas Oresko, an Army master sergeant who was badly wounded when he single-handedly took out two enemy bunkers during the Battle of the Bulge in 1945, died Friday night at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, hospital officials announced Saturday. He was 96. For more information, see http://news.msn.com/us/oldest-medal-of-honor-recipient-dies-at-96-1











Bud Day, Vietnam veteran who received the Medal of Honor, dies

By Emily Langer, Washington Post, Published: July 30

George E. "Bud" Day, an Air Force fighter pilot who received the Medal of Honor for his valor during 5 1/ 2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, where he befriended his cellmate, the future Sen. John McCain, died July 27 at his home in Shalimar, Fla. He was 88." For more on this remarkable veteran of three wars, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/bud-day-vietnam-veteran-who-received-the-medal-of-honor-dies/2013/07/30/9318fc00-f861-11e2-8e84-c56731a202fb_story.html










Wildfire Tragedy in Arizona

By Mike Pepe

Sadly tragedy has once again struck the nation's firefighters. In Arizona 19 members of an elite task force of firefighters has perished while fighting a 23 square mile wildfire. The specially trained team of 20 firefighters had advanced ahead of the fire and was digging "breaks" clearing out anything that burns in an attempt to stop the fire from advancing, overrunning land, homes and neighborhoods. These firefighters were at the front edge of the wildfire, the most dangerous position, when something catastrophic happened causing the fire to overtake them, killing 19. A single member survived as he had separated from the team to reposition a vehicle. Once again the young age of this team of "hot shots" as they were called reminds us how suddenly a life can be taken. The average age of these men was only 22. A fire can travel up to fourteen miles an hour and jump ahead as it takes on a life of its own. For this reason citizens are asked to evacuate immediately when notified and not assume the fire will travel in a different direction or to remain at home in an attempt to protect their property with a garden hose. The number of firefighters killed at one event had not been matched for land fires since 1933.

To see the speed of a fire on flat land click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m67ZokFYl2A







Honoring our First Responders



Honoring our First Responders: This year's natural disasters have brought forth numerous heroes, as well as stories of catastrophe and loss. Many of the heroes remain unsung. They appear, help out, and disappear without notice. Sometimes their heroism results in their own injury or death. Let's pause to remember Arkansas Sheriff Cody Carpenter, who was killed last week when a flash flood swamped Scott County while Carpenter and a wildlife officer were checking on reports that residents of a home might be in danger from the rising waters. He apparently was swept away by the flood; his body was recovered Friday morning, May 31. Wildlife office Joel Campora was still missing. On the same day In Oklahoma, veteran storm chaser and widely respected meteorologist, Tim Samaras, 55, was killed while trying to record data during one of the devastating twisters that hit the state known for being cautious even as he stalked the world’s most dangerous vortexes. Killed with him were his son, Paul, 24,and a colleague Carl Young, 45. Meanwhile, thousands of firefighters continue to fight some of the worst wildfires in California in recent years. So far, fortunately, none has been reported killed or seriously injured, but these incidents are a good reminder that our first responders put their lives on the line everyday--and sometimes are called on to make the ultimate sacrifice.





Bob Fletcher, who saved farms of interned Japanese Americans, dies at 101

By Robert D. Davila, Published: June 2



As another reminder that not all heroes are military, let's pause to honor a man who did the right thing in the most difficult circumstances. "Bob Fletcher, who saved farms of interned Japanese Americans, died at 101 on May 23. In 1942, a few months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government forced Japanese immigrants and Americans of Japanese descent to report to barbed-wire camps. Many lost their homes to thieves or bank foreclosures. A state agricultural inspector, Mr. Fletcher acted instinctively to help Japanese American farmers. He quit his job and went to work saving farms belonging to several interned Japanese families. He worked the farms, paid the mortgages and taxes, and took half the profits. He turned over the rest — along with the farms — to the three families when they returned to Sacramento in 1945. Mr. Fletcher, who settled in Sacramento as a farmer after the war, also served people in other ways. He spent 20 years as a volunteer firefighter with the Florin Fire Department and retired in 1974 after another 12 years as paid chief. He helped start the Florin Water District in 1959 and was a board member for 50 years. He was an active member of a local historical society and donated land for a community center. " For more information, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/bob-fletcher-who-saved-farms-of-interned-japanese-americans-dies-at-101/2013/06/02/6030b0e4-cae9-11e2-9245-773c0123c027_story.html







Texas Fire Fighters Fatalities




In Houston Texas, four firefighters have died battling a five alarm fire in a motel there. While temperatures outside reached 90 degrees more than 100 firefighters strained to bring the blaze under control. A number of firefighters were working inside after reports that people were still inside the building when a ceiling collapsed killing three fighters instantly; a fourth succumbed later at the hospital. What is striking is the young ages and the length of service time of the deceased. Robert Bebee joined 12 years ago and was 41. Matthew Renaud had been on 11 years and was only 35. Robert Garner was only 29 years old and had been a firefighter for a mere three years, and a young female firefighter, Anne Sullivan and just graduated the fire academy in April. Please remember: our military are not our only heroes. The first responders-whether in Houston, Oklahoma, or after the Boston Marathon attack-put their lives on the line everyday in a variety of dangerous circumstances to protect us all.





Maureen Dunn, Vietnam widow and advocate for POWs, MIAs and their families, dies at 72

By Emily Langer, Washington Post, Published: May 18


Maureen Dunn, Vietnam widow and advocate for POWs, MIAs and their families, died on May 10 at the age of 72. Mrs. Dunn almost single-handedly started the Vietnam POW-MIA accountability movement when her husband, a Navy pilot, went missing in 1968. Over time, her campaign and similar ones across the country gained momentum. In 1970, when the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia was formed in Washington, Mrs. Dunn?was among the original members. She served over the years as a regional and national coordinator. For more information, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/maureen-dunn-vietnam-widow-and-advocate-for-pows-mias-and-their-families-dies-at-72/2013/05/18/7ce5c3fc-be62-11e2-89c9-3be8095fe767_story.html
















Emil Kapaun, who ministered to Korean War POWs, to receive posthumous medal

By Krissah Thompson, Published: April 10, Washington Post


It took 60 years for the men who served in the Korean War with Father Emil Kapaun to see his memory honored with the military's highest award. Members of the heroic military chaplain's family and a handful of Korean War veterans, most in their 80s, listened Wednesday as President Obama lauded Kapaun's bravery and kindness before handing the Medal of Honor to his nephew, Ray Kapaun."
"In the chaos - dodging bullets and explosions - Father Kapaun raced between foxholes and into no-man's lands, dragging the wounded to safety. When the enemy broke through and the combat was hand-to-hand, he carried on comforting the injured and the dying," Obama said. Kapaun was "an American soldier who didn't fire a gun, but who [carried] the mightiest weapon of all: the love for his brothers so powerful that he was willing to die so that they might live."
Read the remarkable story of Fr. Kapaun, who is also being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church, at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/04/11/obama-awards-kapaun-medal-of-honor and http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/emil-kapaun-who-ministered-to-korean-war-pows-to-receive-posthumous-medal/2013/04/10/09913232-a121-11e2-be47-b44febada3a8_story.html













Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist, conspirator in plot to kill Hitler, dies

By Emily Langer, Washington Post, Published: March 12


"Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist, the last known surviving conspirator of Operation Valkyrie, the 1944 assassination plot that failed to kill Adolf Hitler but became a celebrated episode of German resistance during World War II, died March 8 at his home in Munich. He was 90." For more information on von Kleist and the effort to stop Hitler, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/ewald-heinrich-von-kleist-conspirator-in-plot-to-kill-hitler-dies/2013/03/12/4fe672d6-8b2f-11e2-9838-d62f083ba93f_story.html









Thomas C. Griffin, Doolittle Raider

Washington Post, Published: March 1


Thomas C. Griffin, a B-25 bomber navigator in the audacious Doolittle’s Raid attack on mainland Japan during World War II, died Feb. 26 at a veterans nursing home in northern Kentucky. He was 96. This leaves only four of the original 71 officers and 130 enlisted men who flew 16 B-25 bombers (see photo) from the deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Hornet on a daring and near-suicidal mission to bomb Tokyo. This was the first Allied counter-punch against Japan after more than four months of steady defeats and setbacks. The attack on Tokyo caused little real damage but shocked the Japanese, who had been told they were invulnerable, and was credited with providing a major lift to American morale. It was the first-ever takeoff of land-based B-25s from a carrier, and it was not even certain they would be able to take off. They did not have sufficient fuel to return, nor could they land on a carrier, so all personnel knew they would either be shot down, taken prisoner, or at best, crash land in China and face a daunting effort to escape and find assistance. Amazingly, most of the B-25 crews that came down in China eventually made it to safety with the help of Chinese civilians and soldiers. Of the 80 airmen that participated in the raid, 69 escaped capture and death. Two aircraft, with a total of 10 crewmen, went missing. Eight of the missing crew members were taken prisoner by the Japanese police in Shanghai (two crewmen had drowned after the crash landing of their aircraft). On 19 October 1942, the Japanese announced that they had tried the eight men and sentenced them to death, but that several of them had received commutation of their sentences to life imprisonment. After the war, it was learned that two of the missing crewmen, Staff Sgt. William J. Dieter and Sgt. Donald E. Fitzmaurice, had drowned when their B-25 crashed off the coast of China. The other eight, Lieutenants Dean E. Hallmark, Robert J. Meder, Chase Nielsen, William G. Farrow, Robert L. Hite, and George Barr; and Corporals Harold A. Spatz and Jacob DeShazer were captured. On 28 August 1942, pilot Hallmark, pilot Farrow and gunner Spatz were tried as war criminals by the Japanese because of their purported strafing of civilians. On 14 October 1942, these three crewmen were taken to a public cemetery outside Shanghai and executed by a firing squad. For more on Mr. Griffin, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/thomas-c-griffin-doolittle-raider/2013/03/01/2c8f5ca6-829e-11e2-b99e-6baf4ebe42df_story.html









Hard-working actor Charles Durning dies at 89

By Matt Schudel, Published: December 25


Actor, war hero passes. Charles Durning, who was often called the ultimate character actor because of his ability to inhabit almost any role, from everyday workingman to politician to priest, died Monday December 24, 2012 at his home in New York City at the age of 89. Why include an actor among our heroes? Durning was also a genuine war hero who saw some of the fiercest combat in Europe during World War II, received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts for wounds incurred in combat. For more on his little-known war experiences, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/hard-working-actor-charles-durning-dies-at-89/2012/12/25/820732de-4eba-11e2-839d-d54cc6e49b63_story.html





















Reis Leming, American airman who rescued 27 people in historic 1953 British storm, dies at 81

By Emily Langer, Published: November 21


Following the tragedy and suffering of the recent storm, Sandy, Beisho members may be interested in the story of a hero who emerged from a similar tragedy more than half a century ago. If you have stories of heroes or people who went "above and beyond" to help in the recent story, please share them on our Facebook page.

Reis Leming, American airman who rescued 27 people in historic 1953 British storm, dies at 81. "Equipped with a rubber dinghy and an anti-exposure suit, Mr. Leming forged into the neck-high frigid waters and over eight hours, like a human tug-boat, single-handedly pulled 27 people to safety. It was later revealed that Mr. Leming, then 22, did not know how to swim." For the full, fascinating story of this hero, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/reis-leming-american-airman-who-rescued-27-people-in-historic-1953-british-storm-dies-at-81/2012/11/21/3c42246a-3282-11e2-bb9b-288a310849ee_story.html.









Medal of Honor recipient James L. Stone, 89, dies

Earned nation's highest award for valor during the Korean War

Greertoday.com, Published: November 10, 2012


The Congressional Medal of Honor Society announces that Colonel James L. Stone, Medal of Honor recipient, passed away Friday, November 9, 2012, in Arlington, Texas at the age of 89.

Colonel Stone was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas on December 27, 1922. He spent 30 years in the military serving in both Korea and Vietnam.

He was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Dwight D. Eisenhower at a White House ceremony on October 27, 1953.

His heroic action occurred near Sakkogae, Korea, on November 21-22, 1951. As a First Lieutenant he served as a platoon leader with the 1st Cavalry Division, 3rd Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry regiment.

Read about his heroic acts during the Korean War here: http://greertoday.com/greer-sc/medal-of-honor-recipient-james-l-stone-89-dies/2012/11/10/











Joe Vaghi dies; Navy beachmaster who helped lead the invasion of Omaha Beach on D-Day was 92
The Washington Post, Published: September 9, 2012


Joe Vaghi dies; Navy beachmaster who helped lead the invasion of Omaha Beach on D-Day was 92. Reputedly the youngest beachmaster on Omaha Beach during D-Day in 1944, Joe Vaghi was known as one of the traffic cops in hell. One of nine beachmasters who landed, he was one of only five who survived the next two days. He received a Bronze Star for heroism: after being knocked unconscious and with his clothes on fire, Vaghi and another soldier rushed to a jeep on fire and removed two gasoline cans that were about to explode, endangering numerous troops around the jeep. During the landing on Omaha, an explosion threw a young Navy radio operator, Torre Tobiassen, to the ground. He found himself next to a box of explosives and unable to move. Only four decades later, after a reunion of D-Day veterans, did he learn that Mr. Vaghi had moved the box before it could ignite amid the fire on the beach. For more on Mr. Vaghi see http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/joe-vaghi-dies-navy-beachmaster-who-helped-lead-the-invasion-of-omaha-beach-on-d-day-was-92/2012/09/08/b2e7222c-f5e3-11e1-91cb-58c92a8a140e_story_1.html









Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Woodrow W. Crockett dies; decorated Tuskegee Airman served in World War II, Korean War
By Megan McDonough, The Washington Post, Published: September 9, 2012


Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Woodrow W. Crockett dies; decorated Tuskegee Airman served in World War II, Korean War. A pioneer in integrating the US military,
Col. Crockett twice received the Soldiers Medal for rescuing downed pilots from burning aircraft. His other honors included the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Meritorious Service Medal, five awards of the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and two awards of the Air Force Commendation Medal.
In 2007, Col. Crockett and other Tuskegee Airmen received the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the countrys highest civilian honors. For more information see http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/decorated-tuskegee-airman-and-retired-air-force-lt-col-woodrow-w-crockett-dies/2012/09/09/01ac7574-fa94-11e1-875c-4c21cd68f653_story.html











Neil Armstrong, first man to step on the moon, dies at 82
By Paul Duggan, The Washington Post, Published: August 25, 2012


Neil Armstrong, the astronaut who marked an epochal achievement in exploration with one small step from the Apollo 11 lunar module on July 20, 1969, becoming the first person to walk on the moon, died Aug. 25 at 82. See the story by By Paul Duggan at http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/neil-armstrong-first-man-to-step-on-the-moon-dies-at-82/2012/08/25/7091c8bc-412d-11e0-a16f-4c3fe0fd37f0_story.html?hpid=z1.













Tuskegee airman George Hickman 88 dies
By Jeff Black, NBC News Published: August 20, 2012


George Hickman, a Tuskegee airman decorated as among the first black pilots to fly for the U.S. military during World War II, has passed away. Read his story here. http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/20/13378621-tuskegee-airman-george-hickman-88-dies-in-seattle?lite























Bob Slaughter, D-Day veteran who helped create National Memorial in Bedford,Va.
By Emily Langer, The Washington Post, Published: May 30, 2012


Bob Slaughter, D-Day veteran who helped create National Memorial in Bedford,Va. Bob Slaughter was once described as perhaps the best-known D-Day veteran in America. National media outlets turned to him when they needed a first-person account of the Normandy invasion. At 6-foot-5, he was an imposing presence as he led President Bill Clinton across a windswept Omaha Beach during a 50th anniversary commemoration in 1994. And by all accounts, the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va., which was dedicated by President George W. Bush in 2001 and draws 75,000 visitors a year, would never have been built if not for Mr. Slaughters efforts. Mr. Slaughter, 87, died May 29 at a hospital in Roanoke.For further information, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/bob-slaughter-d-day-veteran-who-helped-create-national-memorial-in-bedfordva/2012/05/30/gJQA1Ndj2U_story.html.


















Wesley A. Brown, first black Naval Academy graduate, dies at 85
By T. Rees Shapiro, The Washington Post, Published: May 25, 2012


Memorial Day is a good day to remember those who served, and those who sacrificed. Some had to fight just to be able to serve.

Wesley A. Brown, first black Naval Academy graduate, dies at 85. Retired Lt. Cmdr. Wesley A. Brown, a descendant of Virginia slaves who endured racial taunts and merciless hazing to become the first black midshipman to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy, in 1949, died May 22, 2012. His lasting mark was his determination to be the first black graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis since its founding in 1845. Five other black midshipmen had come before him; none had graduated. Most were forced to resign from the academy because of a hostile racial climate. Brown was the victim of a hazing campaign orchestrated by Southern upperclassmen who sought his dismissal. For more information, please see http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/wesley-a-brown-first-black-naval-academy-graduate-dies-at-85/2012/05/25/gJQAv86WpU_story.html















Margie Stewart, U.S. militarys official pinup in World War II, dies
By T. Rees Shapiro, The Washington Post, Published: May 8, 2012



Margie Stewart, the mahogany-haired ingenue who graced millions of morale-boosting posters during World War II as the U.S. militarys official pinup, died of pneumonia April 26 at a hospital in Burbank, Calif. She was 92. For more information, please see http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/obituary-margie-stewart-us-militarys-official-pinup-in-world-war-ii/2012/05/08/gIQAYWheBU_story.html








OSS agent who led WWII rescue of more than 500 US airmen shot down by Nazis dies in NY
By Associated Press, Published: May 1, 2012


George Vujnovich, the intelligence agent who organized a World War II mission to rescue more than 500 U.S. bomber crew members shot down over Nazi-occupied Serbia, has died at his home in New York. He was 96. For more information on this story, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/oss-agent-who-led-wwii-rescue-of-more-than-500-us-airmen-shot-down-by-nazis-dies-in-ny/2012/05/01/gIQAylwCvT_story.html









Raymond Aubrac, French Resistance leader, dies at 97
By Emily Langer, The Washington Post, Published: April 12, 2012


Raymond Aubrac, French Resistance leader, dies at 97. Raymond Aubrac, a French Resistance leader who escaped Gestapo torturers with help from his pregnant wife an episode that became one of the most celebrated triumphs of the underground and also an enduring love story of World War II, died April 10 at a hospital in Paris. The couples wartime exploits replete with sabotage and danger, sex and a shoot-out made good movie material. For more information please click here. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/raymond-aubrac-french-resistance-leader-dies-at-97/2012/04/12/gIQAeI6uDT_story.html?sub=AR

















Joseph L. Stephenson, decorated World War II Army officer,
Prince Georges teacher and coach, dies at 93

By Adam Bernstein, The Washington Post, Published: March 22, 2012


Joseph L. Stephenson, decorated World War II Army officer, Prince Georges teacher and coach, dies at 93. A decorated Army captain, Stepehnson who retired in 1962 and then spent 20 years as a social studies and history teacher in Prince Georges County Public Schools. After joining the Army in 1942, Capt. Stephenson served in Europe during World War II in the all-black 92nd Infantry Division, which saw much combat and had high casualty rates. During the Korean War, Capt. Stephenson was company commander of an early integrated unit. He received the Silver Star in 1952 for his actions during the Battle of Triangle Hill. For more information, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/joseph-l-stephenson-decorated-world-war-ii-army-officer-prince-georges-teacher-and-coach-dies-at-93/2012/03/20/gIQAByJ9TS_story.html.














William R. Charette, Medal of Honor recipient, dies at 79
By T. Rees Shapiro, The Washington Post, Published: March 20, 2012


William R. Charette, Medal of Honor recipient, dies at 79. William R. Charette, a Navy corpsman who received the Medal of Honor during the Korean War for jumping on top of a wounded Marine to protect him from the blast of a nearby grenade, died March 18 at his home in Lake Wales, Fla. He was 79. For the full story, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/2012/03/20/gIQAuOIbQS_story.html.

















George Kerchner, Army Ranger who led D-Day attack on German gun positions, dies at 93
By Adam Bernstein, The Washington Post, Published: March 12, 2012


George Kerchner, Army Ranger who led D-Day attack on German gun positions at Point du Hoc, dies at 93. George Kerchner, a junior officer who led his Army Ranger company up the Pointe du Hoc cliffs during the Normandy invasion and who managed to silence German big guns that threatened the success of the D-Day landings, died Feb. 17 at his home in Midlothian, Va. He was 93. For the full story of his incredible mission, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/george-kerchner-army-ranger-who-led-d-day-attack-on-german-gun-positions-dies-at-93/2012/03/12/gIQAfmqP8R_story.html















Decorated World War II vet who later fought for right to fly U.S. flag at home in Va.
dies at 92

Associated Press: March 3, 2012


Decorated World War II vet who later fought for right to fly U.S. flag at home in Va. dies at 92. A World War II Medal of Honor winner who later made headlines for his fight to fly an American flag in his Virginia front yard, has died. Retired Army Col. Van Thomas Barfoot was 92.

For more information, please click here:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/decorated-world-war-ii-vet-who-later-fought-for-right-to-fly-us-flag-at-home-in-va-dies-at-92/2012/03/03/gIQA7aRuoR_story.html










Tina Strobos, Dutch student who rescued 100 Jews during the Holocaust, dies at 91
By Emily Langer, The Washington Post, Published: February 29, 2012


Tina Strobos, a psychiatry student who joined the Dutch underground during World War II and helped save the lives of more than 100 Jews by giving them refuge on the upper floor of her Amsterdam rowhouse, died Feb. 27 at her home in Rye, N.Y. She was 91.

For more information, please click here
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/tina-strobos-dutch-student-who-rescued-100-jews-during-the-holocaust-dies-at-91/2012/02/29/gIQAfalKjR_story.html










Warren A. Skon, Navy ace pilot in WWII, and wife Hazel Skon, both 92, die days apart
By Matt Schudel, The Washington Post, Published: February 25, 2012


Warren A. "Andy" Skon, 92, a retired Navy captain who was an ace fighter pilot in the Pacific theater during World War II, died Jan. 19 at his home in McLean.

For the full story, see
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/warren-a-skon-navy-ace-pilot-in-wwii-and-wife-hazel-skon-both-92-die-days-apart/2012/02/24/gIQAAxYOaR_story.html


















J. Cameron Wade, World War II veteran and activist for forgotten black soldiers, dies at 87
By Matt Schudel, The Washington Post, Published: February 25, 2012


J. Cameron Wade, who was among the first African American soldiers to integrate Army combat units during World War II, died Jan. 18 at the Kensington Park assisted living facility in Kensington. He was 87.

For more details please click here
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/j-cameron-wade-world-war-ii-veteran-and-activist-for-forgotten-black-soldiers-dies-at-87/2012/02/23/gIQAJSVWaR_story.html














'Band of Brothers' veteran Buck Compton dead at 90
By T. Rees Shapiro, The Washington Post, Published: February 27, 2012


Lynn D. "Buck" Compton, an Army paratrooper whose World War II service was portrayed in the book and HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers" and who later as a prosecutor secured a conviction of Robert F. Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan, died Feb. 26 at his home in Burlington, Wash. He was 90

For full details please see
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/band-of-brothers-veteran-buck-compton-dead-at-90/2012/02/27/gIQAd4xmeR_story.html




















John F. Baker Jr., Medal of Honor recipient, dies at 66
By T. Rees Shapiro, The Washington Post, Published: January 24, 2012


John F. Baker Jr., a retired Army master sergeant who was awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War for rescuing wounded soldiers from an ambush and leading a daring counterassault, died Jan. 20 at a hospital in Columbia, S.C. He was 66.

See how this diminutive (5'2") soldier displayed the heart of a giant.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/john-f-baker-jr-medal-of-honor-recipient-dies-at-66/2012/01/24/gIQAiUJXOQ_story.html


















Mike Colalillo WWII medal of honor recipient dead at 86
By T. Rees Shapiro, The Washington Post, Published: January 4, 2012


One of the few remaining Medal of Honor recipients from World War II has passed away. On April 7, 1945, Mr. Colalillo was a 19-year-old Army private first class on a patrol outside Untergriesheim, Germany, when his unit came under a barrage of enemy fire. Pinned down by German machine guns and artillery, Mr. Colalillo turned to his fellow soldiers and told them to follow his lead. Inspired by his confidence, the soldiers advanced in the face of savage enemy fire, according to his citation for the Medal, the militarys highest award for valor. Mr. Colalillo surged toward the Germans, firing his submachine gun until it was knocked from his hands by shrapnel. He then ran toward an American tank to take control of a machine gun mounted above its cannon turret. Bullets clanged off the tanks armor and zipped by his body as Mr. Colalillo delivered his own withering response to the German onslaught.

For more, see "Mike Colalillo, WWII Medal of Honor recipient, dead at 86."
or
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/mike-colalillo-wwii-medal-of-honor-recipient-dead-at-86/2012/01/03/gIQAoVlbaP_story.html






Gordon Hirabayashi, Japanese American who defied internment order, dies at 93
By T. Rees Shapiro, The Washington Post, Published: January 5, 2012



The U.S. lost a great American hero in January when Dr. Gordon Hirabayashi died. Mr. Hirabayashi protested and refused orders to turn himself in for internment during World War II, standing up for the rights of all Americans and objecting to the racial hysteria of the 1941 order relocating all Japanese-Americans to internment camps. He spent the rest of his life as a civil rights activist.

To learn more about him, see "Gordon Hirabayashi, Japanese American who defied internment order, dies at 93."
or
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/gordon-hirabayashi-japanese-american-who-defied-internment-order-dies-at-93/2012/01/04/gIQAZEdfdP_story.html






Nancy Wake, 'White Mouse' of World War II, dies at 98
By Adam Bernstein, The Washington Post, Published: August 9, 2011



The Gestapo called her "The White Mouse" for the way she deftly avoided their traps.

Nancy Wake, 98, who died of an infection Aug. 7 in London, was one of the most effective and cunning British agents working in German-occupied France during World War II.

A sultry glamour girl before the war, she married a French playboy industrialist whose tastes, like hers, ran to caviar and champagne midmorning and love in the afternoon. They were living in southern France when the war ignited.

She hid downed Allied servicemen at her home and led them over the Pyrenees to the safety of neutral Spain. She later helped organize thousands of French resistance fighters known as the Maquis, by meeting Allied arms drops, distributing weapons and training 7,000 partisans in preparation for the Normandy invasion.

She earned decorations from the British, French and American governments; she was belatedly honored in Australia, where she had grown up. Exact figures are hard to establish, but she was reported to have helped save many hundreds of lives.

Max Hastings, a British journalist and military historian, described her an "ardent warrior, possessed of an endless appetite for sensation."

As her involvement in the war deepened, Ms. Wake was trained by the British to kill with her bare hands (she delivered a fatal karate chop to a sentry at an arms factory), parachute into enemy-held territory and work a machine gun.

She chomped on cigars and bested guerrilla fighters in drinking bouts. She traveled nowhere without her Chanel lipstick, face cream and a favorite red satin cushion.

"She is the most feminine woman I know until the fighting starts - then she is like five men," a colleague in the French resistance once said.

With her highly motivated force, Ms. Wake planned and executed a successful raid on a Gestapo garrison and an arms factory in central France in 1944.

The Gestapo placed a large bounty on her head. That she evaded capture and death added to her mystique; one-third of the 39 women serving in the British Special Operations Executive in France did not come home.

She was dauntless. When a German counterattack against the Maquis disrupted lines of communication, Ms. Wake covered 200 kilometers by bike over hostile ground to get and receive crucial messages. She slept in haystacks or in the open during her 72-hour journey, which resulted in reestablishing radio contact with London.

The nature of her work made Ms. Wake cautious. Three French women came to her attention for possibly being spies. Under her interrogation, she became satisfied two were telling the truth. She sentenced the third to death by firing squad.

"I was not a very nice person," Ms. Wake told an Australian newspaper in 2001. "And it didn't put me off my breakfast. After all, she had an easy death. She didn't suffer. I knew her death was a lot better than the one I would have got.

"And if I hadn't done it," she added, "and she had got away and reported to the Germans what the Maquis were up to, how could I have ever faced the families of the Maquisards we lost because of it? It was definitely the right thing to do."

Nancy Grace Augusta Wake, the youngest of six siblings, was born in Wellington, New Zealand, on Aug. 30, 1912. Her father, a journalist, abandoned the family in Sydney. He also sold the family's home, forcing his wife and their children to find new lodgings.

Ms. Wake left home at 16 and, buffered by a small inheritance from an aunt, booked passage to England.

In London, she bluffed her way into journalism by telling a Hearst newspaper executive that she was fluent in Egyptian- Egypt being a favorite topic of his. She wrote shorthand gibberish that resembled hieroglyphics and passed it off as the language.

The news executive sent her to Paris as a roving European correspondent, where she said she was awakened to the growing atrocities of Adolph Hitler.

In 1939, she married Henri Fiocca, heir to a Marseille shipping concern. She later told the Daily Telegraph: "He was tall. He could dance the tango. And if you dance the tango with a nice, tall man, you know what eventually will happen, don't you?"

After the Germans rolled into France in 1940, she became an ambulance driver and gradually deepened her involvement in the escape line from her home in Marseille. She hid people on the run, paid exorbitant bribes to prison guards to free those captured by the local authorities and became a dependable courier for the resistance.

She became a threat to the Germans, and her handlers advised her to make her way to England via Gibraltar. Her husband promised to come after settling family business but was shot by the Nazis after refusing to reveal her whereabouts.

With the escape route in constant peril and Germans patrolling the trains, it took several tries before Ms. Wake was able to make it to Spain on the back of a coal truck. She had earlier been forced to jump from a slow-moving train, drawing the fire of German soldiers.

She arrived in England in June 1943, then underwent eight months of training in the Special Operations Executive. She was subsequently parachuted into the Auvergne region of central France as a liaison between London and the Maquis.

After the war, Ms. Wake tried to find a job that suited her energies. She ran unsuccessfully for political office in Australia, returned to England to do intelligence work and, in 1957, married former British air force pilot John Forward. He died in 1997. She never had children.

In recent years, she lived in a nursing home for retired veterans. She passed much of the day clutching a gin and tonic at the nearby hotel bar, the same watering hole where she had her first "bloody good drink" after the war.

Ms. Wake was the subject of two biographies in addition to her 1985 memoir. A TV miniseries aired in the late 1980s; she was typically scornful of its factual liberties.

"For goodness sake, did the allies parachute me into France to fry eggs and bacon for the men?" she asked. "There wasn't an egg to be had for love nor money, and even if there had been, why would I be frying it when I had men to do that sort of thing?"







Ace Navy pilot led National Security Agency under Nixon administration
By T. Rees Shapiro, Published: July 20, 2011


Navy Adm. Noel A.M. Gayler, 96, an ace combat pilot during World War II who served as President Richard M. Nixon's first director of the National Security Agency and retired as commander of all forces in the Pacific at the drawdown of the Vietnam War, died July 14 at the Woodbine nursing home in Alexandria. He had congestive heart failure.

Adm. Gayler (pronounced GUY-ler), the son of a Navy officer, was one of the most highly decorated Navy pilots of World War II.

He went on to hold many distinguished posts, including service in the office of the chief of naval operations and as a senior aide to the secretary of the Navy. During the late 1960s, his job was to pick strategic targets in Russia in the event of a possible nuclear attack.

From 1969 to 1972, he was director of the National Security Agency, the country's code-making and code-breaking apparatus based at Fort Meade.

Although Adm. Gayler had no prior intelligence experience, he was considered a trusted aide of then-Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, according to the 2009 book "The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency."

Adm. Gayler was among many top security and intelligence officials who reportedly endorsed a Nixon-led initiative permitting the NSA to eavesdrop on the phone conversations of American citizens at a time of violent campus uprisings.

During court proceedings against The Washington Post for publishing the Pentagon Papers - the Defense Department's secret history of the war in Vietnam - Adm. Gayler assisted the prosecution by providing expert testimony on the classified nature of the documents.

James Bamford, who wrote the 1982 NSA history "The Puzzle Palace," said Adm. Gayler was the agency's first director to use the position as a ladder rung to higher military office.

Upon his promotion to chief of U.S. Pacific Command - succeeding Adm. John S. McCain Jr. - Adm. Gayler supervised all combat operations based in the Pacific, including naval air strikes in Vietnam.

One of Adm. Gayler's duties was to greet homecoming American prisoners of war held in Vietnam. Among them was John S. McCain III, a Navy fighter pilot who later went into politics, making a bid for president in 2008 and now serving as a U.S. senator.

Adm. Gayler helped oversee the U.S. evacuation from Saigon in April 1975 and helped organize the waterborne transport of tens of thousands of refugees. He retired in 1976.

Noel Arthur Meredyth Gayler was born Dec. 25, 1914, in Birmingham, Ala. He graduated in 1935 from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, then received pilot training.

During World War II, he wreaked havoc against Japanese planes in the Pacific. He dive-bombed enemy destroyers and strafed bomber planes. He recorded five enemy kills, making him an ace.

For valorous combat during a four-month span in 1942, Adm. Gayler received three awards of the Navy Cross - the highest decoration for bravery after the Medal of Honor.

His other military decorations included the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, two awards of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, two awards of the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal.

His first marriage, to Caroline Groves, ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife of 24 years, Jeanne Mallette Gayler of Alexandria; five children from his first marriage, Caroline Maness of Charlotte, Deborah Poisot of Austin, Anne Gayler of Monroe, N.Y., Alexander Gayler of Blacksburg, Va., and Christopher Gayler of Los Altos, Calif.; three stepchildren, Scott Landers of Sherman Oaks, Calif., Logan Landers of Encino, Calif., and Jeanne Mattison of Washington; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

At the end of World War II, Adm. Gayler witnessed the Japanese surrender while onboard the battleship Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945. Toward the end of his military career, he became an advocate against nuclear weapons such as the atomic bombs dropped on Japanese cities.

Adm. Gayler said he had been profoundly affected by a visit to Hiroshima shortly after it was bombed. He also participated in atomic weapons tests in the Pacific.

"Nothing that you can read or see in motion pictures prepares you for that," Adm. Gayler said at a National Press Club appearance in 1983. "The more you know about them, the less you like them and the less utility you think they have."








Reginald Augustine, part of secret mission to find Nazi scientists, dies at 97
By T. Rees Shapiro, Published: July 7, 2011


Reginald C. Augustine, 97, who participated in a top-secret Army mission to hunt down Nazi scientists during World War II and determine Germany's efforts to build a nuclear bomb, died June 30 at Sibley Memorial Hospital in the District. He had pneumonia.

Mr. Augustine, who separated from the military at the rank of captain, parlayed his wartime intelligence work into a two-decade career at the CIA. As an operations officer, Mr. Augustine served in Munich and Frankfurt during the 1950s and 1960s and was posted to Saigon in 1968.

During World War II, Mr. Augustine was part of an elite detachment of linguists, spies and scientists assigned to a mission whose code name was Alsos. The Alsos operation was under the purview of Lt. Gen. Leslie R. Groves, the head of the atom-bomb development effort known as the Manhattan Project. Although Alsos is Greek for "grove," the code name was apparently coincidental.

"Alsos was one of the most successful intelligence operations of the war," said Robert Norris, author of the 2003 book "Racing for the Bomb: General Leslie R. Groves, the Manhattan Project's Indispensable Man."

Groves suspected German physicists were deep into a similar bomb effort and feared the enemy might finish first because they possessed superior engineers. Among the German scientists were Otto Hahn, the discoverer of the nuclear fission principle, and several Nobel Prize-winning physicists.

In autumn 1943, Groves called for the creation of Alsos to track the Nazis' progress by finding German scientists and interrogating them.

Mr. Augustine, then serving in the Army Air Forces, emerged as an ideal candidate in the spring of 1944 when military officials were selecting additional members for the operation.

At Northwestern University, Mr. Augustine majored in Latin, minored in German and took two years of ancient Greek. After graduating in 1935, he spent 16 months touring Europe on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that he acquired in Rotterdam.

During an extended stay in Germany, Mr. Augustine attended a Nazi Party rally in Heidelberg that he later described as akin to a "Fourth of July" celebration with scarlet swastika banners and leather-booted storm troopers.

Part of the Alsos mission, said historian Thomas Powers, author of the 1993 book "Heisenberg's War: The Secret History of the German Bomb," was to scour Europe for raw nuclear materials such as uranium ore and keep it out of German hands.

On one operation in the south of France near Toulouse, Mr. Augustine was surveying a warehouse with a Geiger counter when the device's needle spiked near some barrels.

The area was brimming with radioactivity, and Mr. Augustine was credited with helping to find 31 tons of nuclear material.

The Americans confiscated the shipment, and Mr. Augustine accompanied the lode back to the United States on a Navy ship for use in the Manhattan Project. Mr. Augustine learned later that some of the uranium he helped retrieve was incorporated into the "Little Boy" bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Another operation, which Mr. Augustine called "a grand climax to all Alsos operations in the war," was the seizure of a strategic German atomic research center near Stuttgart.

Once the area had been secured, Mr. Augustine escorted to American territory several captured German scientists, including Hahn, Nobelist Max von Laue, and physicists Karl Wirtz, Erich Bagge and Carl von Weizsacker.

For his service, Mr. Augustine received a Bronze Star Medal and the Order of the British Empire, awarded to him personally by King George VI.

Reginald Cooper Augustine was born in Decatur, Ill., on Oct. 12, 1913. Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Juno Yolanda DeCastro Augustine of Takoma Park; two daughters, Dolores Augustine of Roslyn Heights, N.Y., and Nancy Oppenheim of Riverdale; and two grandchildren.

The Alsos mission was disbanded in October 1945. Ultimately, the operation found that the German nuclear scientists were nowhere near completion.

"The conclusions were unmistakable," Alsos chief scientist Samuel Goudsmit later wrote. "The evidence at hand proved definitely that Germany had no atomic bomb and was not likely to have one in any reasonable time."








John R. Alison, daring WWII ace who led Burma invasion, dies at 98
By T. Rees Shapiro, Published: June 7, 2011


John R. Alison, a retired Air Force major general and World War II fighter ace who helped lead a nighttime invasion by glider into enemy-held Burma - a logistical feat that included the transport of troops, heavy machinery and even mules, died June 6 at his home in Washington.

He was 98 and his family declined to give a cause of death.

Gen. Alison, a highly decorated fighter pilot, flew in the China-Burma-India theater during World War II with the Army Air Forces. He served in the 75th Fighter Squadron, a group led by Maj. Gen. Claire Chennault and known as the Flying Tigers and recognized by the shark teeth painted on the nose of their planes.

During the war, Gen. Alison had seven confirmed victories, including six air-to-air kills, qualifying him as an ace. In one of his aerial battles, Gen. Alison said he shot down at least two Japanese bombers before crash-landing his bullet-ridden fighter plane in a river.

In 1943, Gen. Alison was handpicked by Army Air Forces commander Gen. Henry "Hap" Arnold for a top-secret mission.

At the time, the Japanese occupied much of the jungle and mountain territory in Burma and were advancing toward India.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, on the advice of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, directed Arnold to create a specialized unit to help British forces engage in guerrilla warfare with the Japanese.

In response, Arnold made Gen. Alison and Philip Cochran co-leaders of "Project 9," a classified task force that operated outside the military chain of command.

Gen. Alison and Cochran received orders directly from Arnold and were given virtually unlimited authority. "To hell with the paperwork," Arnold told them. "Go out and fight."

Arnold instructed them to join British army Maj. Gen. Orde C. Wingate in India and arrange the stealthy airlift of thousands of Wingate's men and supplies into Burma.

The mission, known as Operation Thursday, began in the middle of the night on March 5, 1944.

Gen. Alison piloted one of the 54 glider planes that took off that night towed behind American cargo aircraft. When they were 200 miles beyond the Burmese border, the gliders unhooked from their nylon tow line and headed for the landing zone code-named "Broadway."

Because of the harrowing conditions, only 37 planes made it to the landing area, and 24 men died as gliders crashed in the jungle.

When the first planes landed, the invasion force included 539 troops and three Missouri mules. Additional gliders came in loaded with bulldozers, tractors and lights.

"Everything," Gen. Alison told reporters in 1944, "to make a modern airport deep in the jungle, deep in the heart of enemy territory."

In six days, Gen. Alison and Cochran had overseen the movement of 9,052 troops, 175 horses, 1,283 mules and 509,083 pounds of supplies into the Burmese jungle.

Wingate's forces, called the "Chindits," wreaked havoc on the Japanese while American pilots resupplied the British troops and evacuated the wounded.

Gen. Alison and Cochran's unit, soon renamed the 1st Air Commando Group, has been credited as one of the American military's first special operations forces. According to the Air Force, the mission in Burma marked the first U.S. aerial invasion into enemy territory and the first nighttime heavy glider assault landing. The 1st Air Commando Group also was the first American military unit to use helicopters in combat.

Called back to the United States after the mission, Gen. Alison briefed Allied commander Dwight D. Eisenhower on his successful use of the gliders for the planning of D-Day. Cochran died in 1979.

John Richardson Alison was born Nov. 21, 1912, in Micanopy, Fla. He was a 1935 engineering graduate of the University of Florida.

At 5-foot-5 and 3 / 4 inches, he was rejected from the Navy as too short and instead received pilot training with the Army.

He served as a P-40 flight instructor for the British air force and Soviet pilots before seeing combat in China. After the Burma invasion, he participated in combat over the Philippines and Japan.

He later served in Korea and Vietnam as a military adviser with the Strategic Air Command and retired from the Air Force in 1972. He was a past president of the Air Force Association and senior vice president of Northrop Grumman.

His decorations included the Silver Star, two awards of the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart.

His first marriage, to Louise Muncie, ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife, Kathleen Acidno Alison of Washington; two sons from his second marriage, John R. Alison III of Falls Church and David Alison of Phoenix; and three grandchildren.

In late 1940, then-Lt. Alison was picked to give a demonstration of the Curtiss P-40 fighter plane in Washington for a group of Chinese military attaches and for Flying Tigers leader Chennault.

Lt. Alison spent less than two minutes in the air buzzing in tight circles only feet above the ground.

When he landed, the Chinese pointed to the P-40 and said, "We need 100 of these."

"No," Chennault said, pointing to the daring pilot, "you need 100 of these."








Paul J. Wiedorfer, WWII Medal of Honor recipient, dies at 89
By T. Rees Shapiro, Published: May 26, 2011


Paul J. Wiedorfer, 89, who as an Army private on Christmas Day 1944 charged two German machine-gun nests and single-handedly saved his platoon mates caught in an ambush, an act for which he received the Medal of Honor, died May 25 at the Baltimore VA Medical Center. His family said he had congestive heart failure.

Mr. Wiedorfer, who was born and grew up in Baltimore, was reportedly Maryland's last surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor, the military's highest award for valor.

He was 23 when his unit, part of Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army, was sent to rescue American troops trapped in Bastogne, Belgium, during the first days of the Battle of the Bulge.

On Christmas 1944, he and his platoon were advancing across a clearing in the snow-draped forest near Chaumont, Belgium. It was about noon on the cloudless, cold day when two camouflaged machine guns erupted with fire.

The American soldiers dropped to the frozen ground behind a small ridge, pinned down by the surprise German attack. Then Mr. Wiedorfer began his solo assault.

"I was probably a little nuts when I did it," he told the Baltimore Sun in 1995. "But someone was going to die if something didn't get done."

He charged into the open field, sliding across the icy clearing, which had been blanketed the night before with three inches of wet snow.

As he ran, he slipped and fell once, but got up and kept going.

"Luckily, their firing wasn't too good that day," Mr. Wiedorfer told the Sun in 1994. "They didn't get me."

When he was within 10 yards of one machine-gun emplacement, he tossed a grenade into it. After it exploded, he shot and killed the remaining Germans inside. He then spun around and attacked the second nest with his rifle, wounding one of the German soldiers. Six other Germans surrendered to Mr. Wiedorfer, according to his official Medal of Honor citation, although some news accounts put the number higher.

"Twenty other Germans dug in around the two machine-gun positions," Sun war correspondent Lee McCardell wrote at the time, "stood up in their foxholes, their hands over their heads and shouted kamerad," or German for "friend."

Two months later, crossing the Saar River in Germany, Mr. Wiedorfer's unit came under mortar fire. The soldier next to him was killed instantly. Mr. Wiedorfer was struck by shrapnel, and the blast shattered his leg and injured his hand. He recuperated at a hospital in England, where he was placed in traction.

One day, a fellow patient was reading the Stars and Stripes newspaper and informed Mr. Wiedorfer that he'd just received the Medal of Honor for his Christmas Day bravery.

"To be perfectly honest," Mr. Wiedorfer told the Sun in 2008, "I wasn't really sure what the hell [the Medal of Honor] was, because all I was, was some dogface guy in the infantry."

A few days later, still sitting in a hospital bed, Mr. Wiedorfer was presented the Medal of Honor while a military band filled the ward's hallways with pomp and circumstance.

Paul Joseph Wiedorfer was born July 17, 1921, in Baltimore. He graduated from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute high school in 1939.

After the war, he was treated to a ticker-tape parade down the streets of Baltimore but spent three years in and out of hospitals recovering from his wounds.

Besides the Medal of Honor, Mr. Wiedorfer's decorations included two awards of the Purple Heart.

He separated from the military in 1947 as a master sergeant and was a power station operator with Baltimore Gas and Electric when he retired in 1981.

In the early 1990s, a man came to Mr. Wiedorfer's home and offered to polish his Medal of Honor. The man took the authentic medal from its ceremonial shadow box and replaced it with an imitation. Mr. Wiedorfer's stolen medal was returned to him in 1995. Stephen Pyne, who was charged with the theft, was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Mr. Wiedorfer's wife, the former Alice Stauffer, died in 2008. A daughter, Nancy Mazer, died in 2010.

Survivors include three children, Randee Wiedorfer of Parkville, Md., Paul J. Wiedorfer Jr. of Baltimore and Gary Wiedorfer of Cocoa, Fla.; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

As he aged, Mr. Wiedorfer said he prayed for the day there would be no living recipients of the Medal of Honor.

"Because," he once said, "it will mean that we have learned to live in peace."

Today, 84 recipients remain.






Not all heroes are military. This is someone who turned their personal tragedy into a way to help thousands of others.


Obituary: Kim Hill, 44, whose fight with leukemia led to first Ronald McDonald House
Dennis McLellan


Wednesday, March 9, 2011; 6:01 PM

Kim Hill, whose childhood battle with leukemia was the catalyst for the creation of the first Ronald McDonald House, died March 5 at a hospital in Orange, Calif. She was 44.

Radiation treatments to overcome leukemia as a child had caused the formation of brain tumors as an adult, said her father, Fred Hill.

Fred Hill was a tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1969 when he and his wife, Fran, learned that 3-year-old Kim had acute lymphatic leukemia.

"The doctor started crying when he told us," Fred Hill recalled. "He said kids don't usually live with this type of leukemia for more than six months. We were devastated."

But Kim defied the odds. Over the next 3 1/2 years, she underwent chemotherapy as well as radiation to her brain every day for two weeks when she was almost 4.

In 1971, two years into their daughter's treatment, the Hills helped organize a fundraising fashion show in which the wives of Eagles team members modeled fur coats.

"We only expected 10 ballplayers to be there," said Fred Hill, "but the entire football team showed up, including the owner and general manager."

They raised $10,000 for the Leukemia Society of America.

"Owner Leonard Tose was the last guy to leave," recalled Fred Hill. "He said, 'I want you to come back next year and make 10 times that amount. I'm going to give you Veterans Stadium to use if you need it, the football team - whatever you want."

Fred Hill and his neighbor, Stan Lane, formed a nonprofit organization called Eagles Fly for Leukemia.

At Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, they found Dr. Audrey Evans, whose long wish list included purchasing a house near the hospital that would provide temporary lodging for the families of young cancer patients.

After Eagles Fly for Leukemia raised $125,000 the next year, Eagles General Manager Jim Murray arranged with local McDonald's franchise owners to have the team's quarterback, Roman Gabriel, promote its St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Shake in exchange for a share of the profits being donated to the purchase of a house for patients' families.

The McDonald's owners then offered to donate all the profits on the condition that the house be named the Ronald McDonald House.

By the time the first Ronald McDonald House opened, in Philadelphia in 1974, the Hills had moved to California.

Today, there are 302 Ronald McDonald Houses serving families in 30 countries and regions.

"I didn't enjoy being sick," Kim Hill told reporters in 1982. "But if I wasn't sick, all of this might not have happened."

Kim Hill, who was born Aug. 11, 1966, in Orange, had a typically active childhood after overcoming leukemia.

After the family moved to San Juan Capistrano, Calif., in 1977, she rode horses with her two sisters. And she sang in the choir and ran cross-country at Capistrano Valley High School.

After graduating in 1984, she studied cosmetology. When her father, who sold medical supplies, opened a McDonald's in nearby Mission Viejo in 1987, she went to work there.

That same year, Kim's son, Andrew, was born.

In 1991, a CT scan revealed she had two tumors between her brain and her skull. She underwent five operations over the next 11 years.

In addition to her parents and son, Ms. Hill is survived by two sisters.

- Los Angeles Times







Although Frank Buckles was just one of millions of World War I 'doughboys,' his passing should cause us to pause and remember the millions who served in the great wars of the 20th century.


Last U.S. World War I veteran Frank W. Buckles dies at 110
Paul Duggan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 28, 2011; 12:03 PM

Frank W. Buckles died Sunday, sadly yet not unexpectedly at age 110, having achieved a singular feat of longevity that left him proud and a bit bemused.

In 1917 and 1918, close to 5 million Americans served in World War I, and Mr. Buckles, a cordial fellow of gentle humor, was the last known survivor. "I knew there'd be only one someday," he said a few years back. "I didn't think it would be me."

Mr. Buckles, a widower, died on his West Virginia farm, said his daughter, Susannah Buckles Flanagan, who had been caring for him there.

Flanagan, 55, said her father had recently recovered from a chest infection and seemed in reasonably good health for a man his age. At 12:15 a.m. Sunday, he summoned his live-in nurse to his bedroom. As the nurse looked on, Flanagan said, Mr. Buckles drew a breath, and his eyes fell shut.

"We have lost a living link to an important era in our nation's history," Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said of Mr. Buckles, whose distant generation was the first to witness the awful toll of modern, mechanized warfare. "But we have also lost a man of quiet dignity who dedicated his final years to ensuring the sacrifices of his fellow doughboys are appropriately commemorated."

As time thinned the ranks of those long-ago U.S. veterans, the nation hardly noticed them vanishing, until the roster dwindled to one ex-soldier, embraced in his final years by an appreciative public.

"Frank was a history book in and of himself, the kind you can't get at the library," said his friend Muriel Sue Kerr. Having lived from the dawn of the 20th century, he seemed to never tire of sharing his and the country's old memories - of the First World War, of roaring prosperity and epic depression, and of a second, far more cataclysmic global conflict, which he barely survived.

Mr. Buckles, who was born by lantern light in a Missouri farmhouse, quit school at 16 and bluffed his way into the Army. As the nation flexed its full military might overseas for the first time, he joined 4.7 million Americans in uniform and was among 2 million U.S. troops shipped to France to vanquish the German kaiser.

Ninety years later, with available records showing that former corporal Buckles, serial No. 15577, had outlived all of his compatriots from World War I, the Department of Veterans Affairs declared him the last doughboy standing. He was soon answering fan mail and welcoming a multitude of inquisitive visitors to his rural home.

"I feel like an endangered species," he joked, well into his 11th decade. As a rear-echelon ambulance driver behind the trenches of the Western Front in 1918, he had been safe from the worst of the fighting. But "I saw the results," he would say.

He saw the world

With his death, researchers said, only two of the approximately 65 million people mobilized by the world's militaries during the Great War are known to be alive: an Australian man and a British woman, 109 and 110 respectively.

Mr. Buckles said he was just a naive schoolboy chasing adventure when he enlisted Aug. 14, 1917, after the United States joined a war that had been raging for three years, with millions dead. "I knew what was happening in Europe, even though I was quite young," he told a Washington Post reporter when he was 105. "And I thought, well, 'I want to get over there and see what it's about."

After the armistice, he traveled the globe as a purser on commercial ships and was caught in Manila when Japan invaded the Philippines in 1941. He endured 38 months of cruel deprivation as a civilian prisoner during World War II before being freed in a daring military raid.

In 1953, he and his wife bought a cattle farm with a Colonial-era stone house near Charles Town, W.Va., and there Mr. Buckles quietly spent the rest of his life, his doughboy tunic hanging in a closet. As his generation passed away, he held fast as a centenarian, doing daily calisthenics and immersing himself in books and newspapers.

Then, on Feb. 4, 2008, a Florida man who had been in Army basic training when hostilities ended in November 1918 died at 108. As best as the VA could determine, that left only Mr. Buckles, who warmly indulged people's growing fascination with him.

He was an honored guest on Capitol Hill, at the Pentagon and in the Oval Office. School children, history buffs, journalists, younger veterans, and even Britain's defense secretary visited him at the farm, admiring him like a museum piece.

"Well, I guess I'm famous now," he said slyly. Not surprisingly, some were quick to declare him "a hero" - a notion he dismissed as sentimental.

The VA, established in 1930, does not have complete records from World War I. But amid all the attention Mr. Buckles received, no one surfaced claiming to have also served in the U.S. military before the armistice. Mr Buckles's secret to longevity: "When you think you're dying," his son-in-law once heard him quip, "don't."

Letters from strangers, some seeking autographs, arrived at his home in stacks. He signed as many as he could until a frail hand forced him to stop. And despite the ailments of age, he went on championing his favorite cause: a proposal to refurbish the District of Columbia's neglected World War I monument and rededicate it as a national memorial.

Appearing before a U.S. Senate panel in 2009 in support of the idea, Mr. Buckles greeted lawmakers and others as they filed toward him in a reverent procession. With his old Army ribbons pinned to his blue blazer, he seemed a memorial in his own right to a dimly remembered catastrophe that left an estimated 16 million people dead worldwide.

'I was just 16'

Wood Buckles - his given name, recorded in the family Bible before birth certificates were required in his home state - was born Feb. 1, 1901, on his parents' farm in Bethany, Mo. He said destiny seemed to side with him early, in 1903, when he and his brother Ashman fell deathly ill together with scarlet fever.

Ashman, 4, succumbed; Mr. Buckles pulled through and experienced a century. Few others born during the McKinley administration lived to have a Facebook page, as he did.

"My father took newspapers," he told the Library of Congress's Veterans History Project a decade ago. "I read about the war."

The tangle of alliances and volatile rivalries among Europe's old empires, the diplomatic deceits and blunders that ignited the conflict in 1914 were hard for an adolescent to sort out. But the din of rabid patriotism surrounding America's entry into the war in April 1917 stirred his imagination, Mr. Buckles said.

"I was just 16 and didn't look a day older," he once wrote. After Navy and Marine Corps recruiters shooed him away - "they'd take one look at me and laugh" - the Army, expanding massively, inducted Mr. Buckles, who swore without proof that he was old enough to join.

A sergeant insisted that he needed a middle initial, Mr. Buckles recalled. So he adopted an uncle's name, Frank Woodruff Buckles, and never stopped using it.

"Every last one of us Yanks believed we'd wrap this thing up in a month or two and head back home before harvest," he said. "In other words, we were the typical cocky Americans no one wants around until they need help winning a war."

In December 1917, as his Army detachment steamed for Europe on the British liner Carpathia, Mr. Buckles said, crewmen shared stories of the grim dawn less than six years earlier when their ship had been the first to reach survivors of the Titanic. From England, he said, "I was anxious to get to France, and I used several methods, including, I should say, pestering every officer of influence in the place."

A lifetime later, recalling the scorched French countryside from the comfort of his den, he spoke of the weary, grateful German POWs, some of them teenagers like himself, who he helped repatriate after the vast bloodletting of the world's first industrialized war.

One gave him a souvenir, a soldier's belt with a buckle inscribed, "GOTT MIT UNS" [God with us], which he kept for the rest of his years.

In war and peace

The nation's official toll from 19 months of war: 116,516 deaths, about half in battle, most of the rest from illnesses, mainly the 1918 influenza pandemic.

After his discharge, Mr. Buckles said, he paid for typing and shorthand classes and took a clerical job with a steamship line - a generation before the first G.I. Bill would make college and home ownership possible for millions of returning World War II vets.

He weathered the Depression at sea on his purser's salary, regularly making port calls in newly Nazified Germany. He saw Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Summer Olympics, he said, and watched Jesse Owens anger the dictator by sprinting to victory in Berlin's Reichssportfeld.

Then, in December 1941, he was working in a shipping company's Manila office when Japanese invaders landed in Luzon after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

"Three years, two months," he said of his captivity in the Philippines, eventually at a notorious camp in Los Banos. There, under pitiless Japanese guards, hundreds of Allied civilian and military internees lived in squalor, subsisting on often wormy rations.

"The starvation was so bad . . . it is surprising that any of us survived," said Mr. Buckles, who was among 2,147 Los Banos prisoners liberated Feb. 23, 1945, in a risky assault by U.S. paratroopers and Filipino guerrillas.

American commanders in the fight to retake the Philippines had ordered the rescue mission, 25 miles behind Japanese lines, fearing that the guards would begin massacring the captives before the main U.S. ground advance reached the camp.

Mr. Buckles turned 44 that winter, suffering from the aftereffects of beriberi, dysentery and dengue fever. Deciding he had had enough adventure, he said, he worked in sales for a West Coast paint company after marrying in 1946. Then he settled on his 330-acre Gap View Farm, driving a tractor past his 100th birthday until the years finally caught up with him.

His wife, Audrey Buckles, died in 1999 at age 78, after which Flanagan, their only survivor, moved to the farm to help care for her father.

Because Mr. Buckles served just one hitch in the Army and returned from France with no wounds or medals for bravery, he was eligible under Arlington National Cemetery protocols only for inurnment in a vault for cremated remains. In March 2008, however, the Bush administration ordered a rare exception for an old corporal of the so-called war to end all wars, and for the passing of living memory.

Mr. Buckles wanted a grave site at Arlington and a traditional white marble headstone. And he will get his wish.







Christian J. Lambertsen, OSS officer who created early scuba device, dies at 93
T. Rees Shapiro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 18, 2011; 10:54 PM

Christian J. Lambertsen, who as a medical student in 1939 invented a revolutionary underwater breathing system used by the military in World War II and who later helped coin the popular acronym to describe his device and others like it - scuba - died of renal failure Feb. 11 at his home in Newtown Square, Pa. He was 93.

Dr. Lambertsen, who had a second home on Maryland's Eastern Shore, was a longtime professor at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He was an expert on respiratory physiology and diving-related ailments.

His 1939 invention, the Lambertsen Amphibious Respirator Unit, or LARU, is considered a forerunner of the scuba technology used today.

In 1952, Dr. Lambertsen and a colleague wrote a paper for the National Academy of Sciences describing his "Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus," which they shortened to scuba.

Before World War II, military divers wore clunky metal helmets that pumped breathable air through hoses tethered to boats on the water's surface.

Dr. Lambertsen's LARU let divers swim freely and stealthily. It used pure oxygen and was a closed system. Equipped with a carbon dioxide filter, it enabled the diver to re-breathe the air he exhaled while underwater, which made the system bubbleless.

After the Navy rejected his device at first, Dr. Lambertsen demonstrated the LARU in the swimming pool of the Shoreham Hotel in Washington in 1942 to the Office of Strategic Services, the World War II predecessor of the CIA.

Not only was the OSS impressed with the invention, the nascent spy agency saw great potential in the young medical student, who was also an experienced diver.

After he graduated from medical school in 1943, Dr. Lambertsen joined the Army Medical Corps and was recruited to the OSS.

He helped train members of a newly formed OSS maritime unit in the use of his underwater breathing system in the pool at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

One of the men Dr. Lambertsen trained was able to swim more than a mile underwater in the Potomac River and remain submerged for 48 minutes.

Dr. Lambertsen's device was further tested in Operation Cincinnati, in which OSS swimmers clandestinely infiltrated the heavy defenses of the U.S. Navy harbor at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and blew up an old barge.

The mission was a resounding success, a top-secret government report later concluded, because "Navy sound detection gear did not reveal the presence of underwater swimmers."

Dr. Lambertsen was deployed during World War II to Burma, where he worked with OSS units on underwater infiltration and espionage missions. Maj. Gen. William J. Donovan, the leader of the OSS, awarded him the Legion of Merit.

After the OSS was disbanded in 1945, Dr. Lambertsen arranged to demonstrate LARUs to the different military branches.

In 1948, he began training the Navy's elite underwater demolition teams, the precursor of the Navy SEALs, to use the system.

During one training exercise near St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dr. Lambertsen and another swimmer made the first exit and re-entry from a submarine.

In the 1950s and 1960s, collaborating with the J.H. Emerson Co., Dr. Lambertsen developed an advanced version of his underwater breathing system. It was used by Navy special operations units until the 1980s.

In 2009, Dr. Lambertsen received the distinguished service award from the OSS Society, which honors the old intelligence service.

Presenting the award, Adm. Eric Olson, commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, said Dr. Lambertsen and his LARU enabled the OSS to conduct "previously impossible missions."

Christian James Lambertsen was born May 15, 1917, in Westfield, N.J. He graduated in 1938 from New Jersey's Rutgers University.

He conducted his first experiments on underwater breathing systems during vacations to the Jersey shore, using contraptions rigged with hoses and a bicycle pump.

His prototypes evolved during medical school, and he made a major breakthrough by adding carbon dioxide filters from anesthesia equipment.

In 1943, Jacques Cousteau and another French diver invented an improved scuba system called the "Aqua-Lung," which let swimmers dive deeper and stay underwater longer.

Dr. Lambertsen joined the medical faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 1946 and became a professor of pharmacology in 1952.

His wife, Naomi Hill Lambertsen, died in 1985.

Survivors include four sons, Christian J. Lambertsen Jr. of Chapel Hill, N.C., David Lambertsen and Richard Lambertsen, both of Easton, Md., and Bradley Lambertsen of Wallingford, Pa.; and six grandchildren.

In his later years, Dr. Lambertsen enjoyed spending time at his waterfront home in Bozman, Md., where he raised cattle, kept honeybees and grew tomatoes, apples and pears.






Bill Bower, last surviving bomber pilot of WWII Doolittle Raid, dies at 93
T. Rees Shapiro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 15, 2011; 10:30 PM

Bill Bower, 93, the last surviving bomber pilot of the audacious Doolittle Raid, a morale-boosting strike against the Japanese months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, died Jan. 10 at his home in Boulder, Colo.

He died of complications from a fall that occurred in July 2009, said his son Jim.

As a 25-year-old first lieutenant, Col. Bower commanded one of the 16 Army Air Forces' B-25s in the top-secret mission under the direction of then-Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle. Col. Bower and the 79 other men who participated in the bombing run came to be known as the Doolittle Raiders.

Their story began April 18, 1942. That morning, Col. Bower's twin engine B-25 took off from the USS Hornet aircraft carrier loaded with four 500-pound bombs, three extra fuel tanks and five parachutes.

Leaving the Hornet culminated months of planning on behalf of the military, which had sought to retaliate against the Japanese for the Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor attack.

But returning to the ship was not an option; the deck was too small for the massive bombers to land on. The mission was planned as a one-way trip, and there was no turning back.

After skimming the waves during the 600-mile flight to Japan, Col. Bower directed his plane toward Yokohama and was stunned by the island's natural beauty.

"I had the impression that, my gosh, what peaceful, pretty countryside that was," Col. Bower later said. "What do they want war with us for?"

When Col. Bower arrived over his target in Yokohama, about 25 miles south of Tokyo, he encountered heavy anti-aircraft fire. His crew dropped the plane's 2,000 pounds of ordnance on Yokohama's dockyards and an oil refinery.

Col. Bower then throttled on toward China, where the Americans had tentatively planned to land and regroup in Chuchow, 200 miles south of Shanghai.

But plans changed. The planes encountered strong headwinds and stormy weather that burned fuel.

By 11 that night, one of Col. Bower's engines died before his plane had reached Chuchow.

Col. Bower pulled the aircraft to 10,000 feet and ordered each of his men to jump out in intervals.

When everyone else had parachuted into the dark air below, Col. Bower approached the plane's escape hatch. The second engine died.

As he prepared to jump, he checked his pockets for his compass, his father's World War I-issue .45-caliber sidearm and, most important, two packs of Lucky Strikes and matches. Then he said goodbye to his bomber, which Col. Bower had dubbed the Werewolf, his son said.

"I patted the old boat, and out the hatch," Col. Bower wrote in a war journal. "Whish, bang, and gently down to Earth I came."

When he touched down, he wrapped himself in his parachute and slept till daylight. The next morning, he hiked for several hours until Chinese villagers took him in and fed him.

He later met up with more Doolittle Raiders who had parachuted to safety and began to make his way home, flying mainly on commercial airliners.

Although the bombing run had resulted in minimal damage, the Doolittle Raiders returned to the United States as heroes, hailed as having delivered a symbolic blow to the Axis powers early in the war.

For his integral role, Col. Bower received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

"It was our mission to do it," he later said of the raid. "We were to show the world it could be done. And we did."

William Marsh Bower was born Feb. 13, 1917, in Ravenna, Ohio. His interest in flight was sparked after his first trip in an airplane at age 10 with a barnstormer.

He attended Hiram College and Kent State University, both in Ohio, and served in the Ohio National Guard from 1934 to 1938. He received his pilot's wings in 1940. In 1942, he married the former Lorraine Amman. She died in 2004.

After the Doolittle Raid, Col. Bower flew missions in England, North Africa and Italy. He became an officer in the Air Force when it was formed in 1947. He served as the commander for an Air Force Arctic supply unit and later commanded Dobbins Air Force Base in Marietta, Ga. He retired from the military in 1966.

In Boulder, Col. Bower became an expert fly fisherman and elk hunter, his family said. He attended many Doolittle Raider reunions that honored the surviving members and saluted those who had died.

Thirteen of the 16 American planes had been abandoned in midair, and three crash-landed.

One man died bailing out of his plane, and two drowned. Three were executed by the Japanese. One man died of disease as a prisoner. Twelve raiders later were killed in combat during World War II.

With Col. Bower's death, his son said, only five Doolittle Raiders remain.

In addition to the Distinguished Flying Cross, Col. Bower also received the Bronze Star Medal and two Air Medals.

On one occasion, Col. Bower returned home and saw that his children had found his medals. They were playing with them and had slightly damaged some of the awards.

"At first I was angry with them, but then I realized something: That's all the medals are - just things for little kids to play with," Col. Bower told the Rocky Mountain News in 2004.

"Why be known for the medals," he continued, "when you can be known for the kids?"

Survivors include four children, Jim Bower of Arvada, Colo., Bill Bower of Chapman, Kan., Mary











Obituary: Richard 'Dick' Winters, courageous WWII officer portrayed in 'Band of Brothers'
T. Rees Shapiro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 10, 2011; 8:20 PM

Richard "Dick" Winters, 92, a decorated Army officer whose courageous leadership through some of the fiercest combat of World War II was featured in the best-selling book and HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers," died Jan. 2. He had Parkinson's disease.

The Patriot-News in central Pennsylvania reported that Maj. Winters, a longtime Hershey resident, died at an assisted-living facility in nearby Campbelltown.

Stephen Ambrose's 1992 book "Band of Brothers" followed the men of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. The group came to be known as Easy Company.

One of Easy Company's officers was Maj. Winters, a charismatic and compassionate leader who entered Army service as a private and returned home after World War II as a major.

He and his men jumped into combat on June 6, 1944, above Normandy and later fought together through Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands and the Battle of the Bulge.

The unit experienced heavy turnover because of battlefield casualties. One Easy Company soldier later wrote that among his colleagues, the Purple Heart "was not a decoration but a badge of office."

Maj. Winters graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in 1941 before enlisting in the Army. He was selected to attend officer candidates' school, earned a commission in the summer of 1942 and then - drawn by the promise of extra pay for hazardous duty - volunteered to join a newly formed paratrooper unit.

Of about 500 officers who volunteered to join the elite unit, only 148 made the cut.

Maj. Winters excelled as a infantry leader and a paratrooper and became a hallowed figure among his men for his "follow me" attitude.

He received the military's second-highest decoration for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross, for his actions on D-Day.

That morning, after landing and untangling from his parachute, Maj. Winters gathered a small group of men for a raid on German cannon emplacements near Brecourt Manor.

Guarded by a platoon of 50 German sentries, the heavily fortified battery had been firing on Utah Beach, causing significant casualties and slowing the Allied advance.

In their assault of the position, Maj. Winters and his men killed 15 German soldiers and took 12 as prisoners. At one point, Maj. Winters noticed a wounded German soldier crawling toward a machine gun.

"I drilled him clear through the head," Maj. Winters told Ambrose.

Maj. Winters and his men destroyed three German cannons and completed the action with near-textbook efficiency.

Throughout the war, Maj. Winters's leadership skills earned him commendations and promotions. He served as Easy Company's commander and was promoted to lead the 506th Regiment's 2nd Battalion, which included Easy Company.

Maj. Winters and his men eventually saw the end of the European campaign while occupying Adolf Hitler's mountainside retreat, the Eagle's Nest, nestled in the Alps above Berchtesgaden. They celebrated by drinking champagne from the Fuhrer's 10,000-bottle cellar.

Late in the war, one of Maj. Winters's soldiers, Floyd Talbert, wrote him a letter from an Indiana hospital, thanking him for his loyalty and leadership.

"You are loved and will never be forgotten by any soldier that ever served under you," Talbert wrote. "I would follow you into hell."

Richard Davis Winters was born Jan. 21, 1918, in Lancaster, Pa.

His family's roots in American history reached back to Timothy Winters, a British immigrant who served in the Revolutionary War and saw action in the Battle of Yorktown.

Maj. Winters's own war story went untold for nearly a half-century until the publication of Ambrose's book, which became a national bestseller.

In 2001, a television miniseries adapted from Ambrose's work was released on HBO. The series, co-produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, won six Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe.

Toward the end of the war, Maj. Winters turned down the opportunity to make the Army a career.

He returned to the United States and joined an Army colleague's company, Nixon Nitration Works, in New Jersey. He was recalled to active duty during the Korean War as a training officer.

For the rest of his career, Maj. Winters owned a farm in rural Pennsylvania and sold animal nutrition products to animal-feed companies. He married Ethel Estoppey in 1948 and had two children. He lived the quiet and peaceful life he'd promised to himself after surviving the war.

One of the most harrowing experiences of his military service came in late April 1945. The men of Easy Company discovered a German working camp near Landsberg that was part of the Dachau concentration camp. Maj. Winters found wheels of cheese piled in a nearby cellar and ordered that the nourishment be distributed among the inmates.

"The memory of starved, dazed men who dropped their eyes and heads when we looked at them through the chain-link fence, in the same manner that a beaten, mistreated dog would cringe, leaves feelings that cannot be described and will not be forgotten," Maj. Winters wrote of the experience. "The impact of seeing those people behind that fence left me saying, only to myself, 'Now I know why I am here.'"









Geraldine Doyle, 86, dies; one-time factory worker inspired Rosie the Riveter and 'We Can Do It!' poster
T. Rees Shapiro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 29, 2010; 11:30 PM

Geraldine Doyle, 86, who as a 17-year-old factory worker became the inspiration for a popular World War II recruitment poster that evoked female power and independence under the slogan "We Can Do It!," died Dec. 26 at a hospice in Lansing, Mich.

Her daughter, Stephanie Gregg, said the cause of death was complications from severe arthritis.

For millions of Americans throughout the decades since World War II, the stunning brunette in the red and white polka-dot bandanna was Rosie the Riveter.

Rosie's rolled-up sleeves and flexed right arm came to represent the newfound strength of the 18 million women who worked during the war and later made her a figure of the feminist movement.

But the woman in the patriotic poster was never named Rosie, nor was she a riveter. All along it was Mrs. Doyle, who after graduating from high school in Ann Arbor, Mich., took a job at a metal factory, her family said.

One day, a photographer representing United Press International came to her factory and captured Mrs. Doyle leaning over a piece of machinery and wearing a red and white polka-dot bandanna over her hair.

In early 1942, the Westinghouse Corp. commissioned artist J. Howard Miller to produce several morale-boosting posters to be displayed inside its buildings. The project was funded by the government as a way to motivate workers and perhaps recruit new ones for the war effort.

Smitten with the UPI photo, Miller reportedly was said to have decided to base one of his posters on the anonymous, slender metal worker - Mrs. Doyle.

For four decades, this fact escaped Mrs. Doyle, who shortly after the photo was taken left her job at the factory. She barely lasted two weeks.

A cellist, Mrs. Doyle was horrified to learn that a previous worker at the factory had badly injured her hands working at the machines. She found safer employment at a soda fountain and bookshop in Ann Arbor, where she wooed a young dental school student and later became his wife.

In 1984, Mrs. Doyle and her family came across an article in Modern Maturity magazine, a former AARP publication, that connected her UPI photo with Miller's wartime poster.

The artist did take some liberties with Mrs. Doyle's physique, her family said.

"She didn't have those big muscles," said her daughter Stephanie Gregg of Eaton Rapids, Mich. "She was busy playing cello."

According to her family, the original photo of Mrs. Doyle was featured on the cover of the 1986 Time-Life book "The Patriotic Tide: 1940-1950."

"You're not supposed to have too much pride, but I can't help have some in that poster," Mrs. Doyle told the Lansing State Journal in 2002. "It's just sad I didn't know it was me sooner."

Geraldine Hoff was born July 31, 1924 in Inkster, Mich., and grew up in Ann Arbor, where her father was an electrician.

Her husband of 66 years, Leo H. Doyle, died in February. A son, Gary Doyle, died in 1980.

In addition to her daughter Stephanie, survivors include four children, Jacqueline Drewes of Eaton Rapids, Mich., Brian Doyle of Holt, Mich., Deidre Doyle of Fort Myers, Fla., Lauretta Doyle of Hollandale, Wis.; a brother; a sister; 18 grandchildren; and 25 great-grandchildren.

The "We Can Do It!" poster was scheduled to be displayed in Westinghouse facilities for only two weeks in February 1942. As time passed, however, it took on a whole new life.

In the early 1940s, Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb composed the song "Rosie the Riveter."

Simple lyrics helped the tune become a rotation staple on radio stations coast-to-coast: "All day long whether rain or shine, she's part of the assembly line. She's making history, working for victory, Rosie the Riveter."

After the song had become popular, the May 29, 1943, edition of the Saturday Evening Post cover featured a Norman Rockwell illustration of a muscular, red-headed riveter with the name Rosie painted on her lunch pail.

From then on, many people began to associate the hardworking female factory employee with the name "Rosie," and so the title stuck to Miller's poster.

Several women claimed to be the "real" Rosie the Riveter, including Rose Monroe, an aircraft parts worker who appeared in a propaganda film promoting war bonds.

In the decades since the poster's creation, the image has evolved into a pop culture reference that generated scores of imitations.

Based on Miller's artwork, and Mrs. Doyle's likeness, are "Rosie the Riveter" T-shirts, bags, aprons, costumes and figures.

In 1999, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp based on the "We Can Do It!" poster.

For years, Mrs. Doyle made appearances in Michigan to sign posters, until her arthritis made her dependent on a wheelchair and unable to write.

While many people profited off the "Rosie the Riveter" image, Mrs. Doyle often said she never made a penny from it because she was too busy tending to her family and "changing diapers all the time."









Frank Bessac, anthropologist who made daring escape from war-torn China, dies at 88
T. Rees Shapiro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 24, 2010; 6:07 PM

In 1949, Frank Bessac was a Fulbright scholar studying in Inner Mongolia when communist forces began organizing bloody raids across China.

Fleeing for his life, he embarked on what became an 11-month, 1,500-mile trek to seek asylum in Tibet.

Before the journey ended, three men in his traveling party would be shot, beheaded and buried in shallow graves near the Tibetan border.

When the student made it back to the United States, the story of his safe return made national headlines. His autobiographical account of the trip appeared in Life magazine and vividly portrayed his harrowing tale of survival.

But many details of the epic sojourn remained hidden for a half-century, including that one of the three men killed was a clandestine CIA agent - the first to die in the line of duty.

For the rest of his life, Dr. Bessac retreated into obscurity and spent most of his career as a professor at the University of Montana. He died Dec. 6 at age 88 of complications from a stroke at a hospital in Missoula.

Dr. Bessac first became interested in Mongolian culture during World War II. He served in China with the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA. Expertly trained, he was part of a commando unit that parachuted behind enemy lines to rescue downed American pilots.

When the war ended, he received a Fulbright scholarship and studied Mongolian and Chinese languages at a university in Beijing.

In the summer of 1949, he lived among isolated nomads in a small village in Inner Mongolia until communist militias began wreaking havoc in the region.

He fled to the western Chinese city of Urumqi, where he met a State Department vice consul named Douglas S. Mackiernan.

In casual conversation, Mackiernan mentioned a code word that Dr. Bessac remembered from his OSS days. It was a secret message that identified Mackiernan's true employer: the CIA.

Mackiernan was posted in Urumqi under State Department cover, but in truth he was a high-ranking spy privy to vital secrets concerning the Russian nuclear bomb effort.

As communist forces bore down on Urumqi, Mackiernan enlisted Dr. Bessac's help to burn official documents to prevent them from falling into Chinese hands.

On Sept. 27, 1949, the two Americans set out with a small traveling party for Tibet, where they hoped to find asylum among Buddhist monks.

They headed south for the Takla Makan desert, a desolate expanse known among locals as the "white death." They went days without finding fresh water.

They had brought maps and a compass with them for navigation, but the tools proved useless - mountains and lakes would appear in front of them without any indication on the charts.

In November, the men stopped to camp for the winter in the shadow of an icy mountain range bordering Tibet.

"By good fortune, Mackiernan had brought two books with him," Dr. Bessac wrote in the Life article. "One was 'War and Peace,' which I read three times. The other was 'Cass Timberlane,' which I only had time to read twice before we had to put its pages to use in our makeshift toilet."

In mid-March of 1950, Dr. Bessac's group set off across the mountains. S ome nights they slept at an altitude of more than 17,000 feet. To keep warm and cook meals, the men spent several hours a day foraging for dried yak dung to burn.

Their food supplies ran so low that they depended almost exclusively on the meat of antelopes or yaks they could hunt down.

They approached the Tibetan border in late April of 1950. Weary, the men settled near a cluster of yak-hair yurts belonging to a nomadic family.

To demonstrate friendliness, Dr. Bessac presented a gift of raisins, tobacco and cloth to the Tibetan settlement.

On his way back, Dr. Bessac heard gunfire from a hill above. Realizing they were being fired on, Mackiernan and three men in the traveling party walked out of their tents with their hands up.

Dr. Bessac watched from behind a boulder as Tibetan border guards shot and killed Mackiernan and two anti-communist Russian allies who had been with them. The Tibetan sentries had mistaken the travelers for marauders.

Dr. Bessac and another man wounded in the melee were tied to horses by six Tibetan guards and led toward Lhasa.

Later, Dr. Bessac learned that the three round objects in sacks dangling from a camel had been the heads of Mackiernan and the dead Russians.

During the trip to Lhasa, the caravan was met by two official couriers who had entry papers granting Mackiernan and Dr. Bessac safe passage. The documents - requested directly from the State Department in Washington - had arrived five days too late.

Realizing the guards' fatal error, a courier pulled out a pistol and handed the weapon to Dr. Bessac, urging him to take revenge on the guards. Dr. Bessac refused.

He did request, however, that the heads of his friends be taken back to their proper graves.

In Lhasa, the guards who had killed his three friends were tried in a military court and sentenced to severe lashings. As Dr. Bessac noted in the 1950 Life magazine article, he "watched and enjoyed the whole proceeding."

Before setting off for the last leg of his journey, a 27-day, 300-mile mule ride over the Himalayas to India, Dr. Bessac received a Buddhist blessing from Tenzin Gyatso, who would become the 14th Dalai Lama.

Francis Bagnall Bessac was born Jan. 13, 1922, in Lodi, Calif.

He received a bachelor's degree in history from the College of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., before joining the Army in 1943. He received a master's degree in anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley and, in 1963, a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin.

He moved to Missoula in 1965 and taught at the University of Montana from 1967 to 1989, when he became a professor emeritus.

A son, Harry Bessac, died as a toddler. Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Susanne Leppmann Bessac of Missoula; five children, Bret Bessac of Kingsville, Tex., Barbara Tracy of Santa Rosa, Calif., Andrea Maxeiner of Bronxville, N.Y., Turan Albini of Belgrade, Mont., and Joan Steelquist of Seattle; a sister; and eight grandchildren.

For more than 50 years, Dr. Bessac kept secret Mackiernan's covert status with the CIA.

In 2006, the CIA officially recognized Mackiernan's sacrifice by acknowledging that the first star on the wall of honor at the agency's McLean headquarters belonged to him.






Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller, 92, dies
Matt Schudel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 20, 2010; 10:58 AM

Bob Feller, a fireballing pitcher who broke into the big leagues as a 17-year-old sensation with the Cleveland Indians and was acclaimed as baseball's finest pitcher from the late 1930s to the late 1940s, died Dec. 15 at a hospice near Cleveland. He was 92 and had leukemia.

Mr. Feller, who came out of the cornfields of Iowa in 1936 as a rawboned righthander who threw harder than anyone else of his era, rode his mighty fastball to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was also a significant figure off the field, as the first major leaguer to volunteer for military service during World War II and the first president of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Before he turned 23 in 1941, Mr. Feller - nicknamed "Rapid Robert" - had 107 victories and was well on his way to being one of the most dominant pitchers in history. With his overpowering fastball and knee-buckling curveball, he had led the American League in strikeouts four times and in earned run average once.

"In a sport not noted for its prodigies, Bob Feller stands supreme," Donald Honig wrote in his 1975 oral history, "Baseball When the Grass Was Real." "Achieving star status at seventeen with a suddenness that was as dramatic as it was remarkable, Feller became baseball's most electrifying performer since Babe Ruth."

But two days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Mr. Feller stepped away from his lucrative baseball career to join the war effort. He enlisted in the Navy and missed three full seasons and most of a fourth while serving as the chief of a gunnery crew aboard the battleship USS Alabama.

He returned to baseball late in 1945, then recorded his finest all-around season in 1946, with 26 wins and an ERA of 2.18. His 348 strikeouts were considered a single-season record until statisticians later amended Rube Waddell's 1904 total from 343 to 349. (The current record of 383 was set by Nolan Ryan in 1973.) Mr. Feller's 36 complete games in 1946 remain the highest total in baseball since 1916.

By the time he retired in 1956, Mr. Feller had compiled a record of 266-162, with an ERA of 3.25. He led the American League seven times in strikeouts and six times in victories. He pitched three no-hitters and a record 12 one-hit games.

In the decades since, baseball aficionados have speculated that Mr. Feller might have won 350 games and set the career strikeout record if he had not lost several of his prime baseball years to the military. But Mr. Feller never regretted his choice and regarded his years in the Navy as his most important contribution.

"You'll never hear me complain about my time in the service," he said in 2001. "Baseball is insignificant when it comes to war."

Strikeout King

Other pitchers have compiled better records than Mr. Feller, but few have inspired the open-mouthed awe that made him a legend from the start. In 1936, as a 17-year-old high school student, he struck out eight of the nine batters in an exhibition game with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Sportswriter Red Smith once described the effect the young Mr. Feller had on other players: "They were taking the pre-game exercises when the kid kicked his left foot high and delivered his first warm-up pitch. All over the field, action ceased. Nobody said anything. Everybody just stood still and watched."

Mr. Feller made his first official big-league appearance July 19, 1936, pitching one inning of scoreless relief at Washington's Griffith Stadium against the Senators. Less than two months later, on Sept. 13 against the Philadelphia Athletics, he equaled the major-league record of 17 strikeouts in a game.

At the end of the season, Mr. Feller went back to his home town of Van Meter, Iowa, for his senior year of high school. His graduation was broadcast nationwide on radio, and he was on the cover of Time magazine at 18.

On the final day of the 1938 season, pitching against the Detroit Tigers, Mr. Feller struck out 18 hitters to set a new major-league record. (Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood share the current mark, with 20.) He also established a less enviable record in 1938 by walking 208 batters in one season - a number that still stands.

Mr. Feller's fastball was so extraordinary that there were repeated efforts to measure its precise speed. He once threw a pitch that easily overtook a motorcycle racing at 86 mph. Another time, military equipment used to test projectiles was set up at Washington's Griffith Stadium, timing Mr. Feller's fastball between 98 and 107 mph.

Baseball writer Tim Wendel concluded in "High Heat," his 2010 book about kings of the fastball, that Mr. Feller was the third-hardest thrower in history, behind Ryan and minor-league phenomenon Steve Dalkowski.

"Feller is the best pitcher living," New York Yankee star Joe DiMaggio said in 1941."I don't think anyone is ever going to throw a ball faster than he does."

Symbol of the game

Robert William Andrew Feller was born on Nov. 3, 1918, in Van Meter, Iowa, and grew up on his family's farm.

When not doing farmwork, he was hurling a rubber ball against the side of a shed or pitching to his father in the barn. He once broke his father's ribs with a fastball.

The young Mr. Feller was a star attraction by the time he was 12. Years before a mythical baseball diamond was carved from an Iowa cornfield in the movie "Field of Dreams," Mr. Feller's father built a ballfield in his pasture to showcase his son's talents.

In 1936, as a high school junior, Mr. Feller signed with the Cleveland Indians for $1 and an autographed baseball. He never pitched in the minor leagues.

By 1940, he was one of the highest-paid players in the game. He eventually made $100,000 a year, with contract clauses that gave him extra compensation for increased attendance. He led offseason barnstorming tours with other baseball stars and advertised a wide array of products - although he refused to endorse alcohol, tobacco or patent medicines.

Years later, it came to light that he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to treat the drug and alcohol dependency of his first wife, Virginia Winther. They later divorced.

In 1947, Mr. Feller injured his arm. He was never quite the same pitcher again. When the Indians won the World Series over the Boston Braves in 1948, four games to two, both losses were charged to Mr. Feller.

By adding a slider to his pitching repertoire, Mr. Feller bounced back in 1951 to lead the league with 22 wins. In 1954, when the Indians won the American League title, he won 13 games.

As one of the organizers of the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1950s, Mr. Feller served as its first president and helped establish a pension plan for retired ballplayers.

Mr. Feller spent more years as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. than any other player in history, having been elected in 1962. He was outspoken about preserving baseball's standards and fought against admitting steroid users and convicted gambler Pete Rose into the Hall of Fame. He was equally dismissive of modern-day pitchers, who he thought were coddled by pitch counts--a limit on the number of pitches thrown in games.

"The pitch count, to me, is ridiculous," he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2010. "It's a lot of horse muffins."

Mr. Feller settled outside Cleveland in Gates Mills, Ohio, where he kept four tractors.

Survivors include his second wife, Anne Morris Giuiland, whom he married in 1974; and three children from his first marriage.

As a goodwill ambassador for the Indians , Mr. Feller appeared at the team's spring training games, often playing catch on the field in his familiar No. 19 uniform. In 2009, at the age of 90, he was spry enough to pitch in a Hall of Fame exhibition game in Cooperstown.

He signed autographs for countless fans and reminisced with an unfailing memory about players and games long in the past. Yet he fiercely guarded his place in baseball history and did not hesitate to correct any distortions of his record.

In the 1990s, when a statue of Mr. Feller was being designed for Cleveland's new baseball stadium, he had the sculptor change his grip on the baseball and asked that a can of snuff be removed from his hip pocket.

"I never used that stuff," he said.






Honoring Bill Mauldin, Sgt., USA - America's Greatest War Cartoonist
(An edited anonymous email received by Papa Chris, December 2010)
In World War II, GIs loved the cartoons of Sgt. Bill Mauldin and until his death, veterans of the War looked up to this man. Now the Postal Service has finally honored the great American with a postage stamp they can all be proud of.





The Bill Mauldin stamp honors the grunts' hero. Mauldin died at age 81 in the early days of 2003. The end of his life had been rugged. He had been scalded in a bathtub, which led to terrible injuries and infections; Alzheimer's disease was inflicting its cruelties. Unable to care for himself after the scalding, he became a resident of a California nursing home, his health and spirits in rapid decline.

He was not forgotten, though. Mauldin, and his work, meant so much to the millions of Americans who fought in World War II, and to those who had waited for them to come home. He was a kid cartoonist for Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper, an enlisted man just like the soldiers he drew for. Mauldin's drawings of his muddy, exhausted, whisker-stubbled infantrymen Willie and Joe were the voice of truth about what it was like on the front lines. His gripes were their gripes, his laughs their laughs, his heartaches their heartaches. He was one of them. They loved him.

He never held back. Sometimes, when his cartoons cut too close for comfort, superior officers tried to tone him down. In one memorable incident, he enraged Gen. George S. Patton, who informed Mauldin he wanted the pointed cartoons celebrating the fighting men, lampooning the high-ranking officers to stop. Now!

The news passed from soldier to soldier. How was Sgt. Bill Mauldin going to stand up to Gen. Patton? It seemed impossible.

Not quite. Mauldin, it turned out, had an ardent fan: Five-star Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe. Ike put out the word: Mauldin draws what Mauldin wants. Mauldin won. Patton lost.



If, in your line of work, you've ever considered yourself a young hotshot, or if you've ever known anyone who has felt that way about him or herself, the story of Mauldin's young manhood will humble you. Here is what, by the time he was 23 years old, Mauldin accomplished:

He won the Pulitzer Prize, was featured on the cover of Time magazine. His book "Up Front" was the No.1 best-seller in the United States . All of that at 23. Yet, when he returned to civilian life and grew older, he never lost that boyish Mauldin grin, never outgrew his excitement about doing his job, never big-shotted or high-hatted the people with whom he worked every day.



I was lucky enough to be one of them. Mauldin roamed the hallways of the Chicago Sun-Times in the late 1960s and early 1970s with no more officiousness or air of haughtiness than if he was a copyboy. That impish look on his face remained.

He had achieved so much. He won a second Pulitzer Prize, and he should have won a third for what may be the single greatest editorial cartoon in the history of the craft: his deadline rendering, on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, of the statue at the Lincoln Memorial slumped in grief, its head cradled in its hands (see below). But he never acted as if he was better than the people he met. He was still Mauldin, the enlisted man.



During the late summer of 2002, as Mauldin lay in that California nursing home, some of the old World War II infantry guys caught wind of it They didn't want Mauldin to go out that way. They thought he should know he was still their hero.

Gordon Dillow, a columnist for the Orange County Register, put out the call in Southern California for people in the area to send their best wishes to Mauldin. I joined Dillow in the effort, helping to spread the appeal nationally, so Bill would not feel so alone. Soon, more than 10,000 cards and letters had arrived at Mauldin's bedside.

Better than that, old soldiers began to show up just to sit with Mauldin, to let him know that they were there for him, as he, so long ago, had been there for them. So many volunteered to visit Bill that there was a waiting list. Here is how Todd DePastino, in the first paragraph of his wonderful biography of Mauldin, described it:

"Almost every day in the summer and fall of 2002 they came to Park Superior nursing home in Newport Beach, California, to honor Army Sergeant, Technician Third Grade, Bill Mauldin. They came bearing relics of their youth: medals, insignia, photographs, and carefully folded newspaper clippings. Some wore old garrison caps. Others arrived resplendent in uniforms over a half century old. Almost all of them wept as they filed down the corridor like pilgrims fulfilling some long-neglected obligation."

One of the veterans explained to me why it was so important: "You would have to be part of a combat infantry unit to appreciate what moments of relief Bill gave us. You had to be reading a soaking wet Stars and Stripes in a water-filled foxhole and then see one of his cartoons."

Mauldin is buried in Arlington National Cemetery . Last month, the kid cartoonist made it onto a first-class postage stamp. It's an honor that most generals and admirals never receive.



What Mauldin would have loved most, I believe, is the sight of the two guys who keep him company on that stamp.

Take a look at it.

There's Willie. There's Joe.

And there, to the side, drawing them and smiling that shy, quietly observant smile, is Mauldin himself. With his buddies, right where he belongs. Forever.



(Below are some examples of Mauldin's most famous cartoons.






"By the way, wot wuz them changes you wuz gonna make when you took over last month, sir?"








"I'm beginning to feel like a fugative from th' law of averages."








A Local Life: Margaret Kerr Boylan, 89, piloted military planes around U.S. during World War II
T. Rees Shapiro
The Washington Post
Saturday, November 20, 2010; 5:50 PM

The course of Margaret Kerr Boylan's life was changed at age 19 by an out-of-the blue gift from her father.

It was a canvas-sided Piper Cub airplane.

Mrs. Boylan, a horseback-galloping, polo-playing speed junkie, thrived as a junior pilot and often took to the skies on trips across the country.

From her home in Oklahoma, she'd fly her plane to Roswell, N.M., to visit a cousin who was a student at the New Mexico Military Institute.

She'd fly to Minnesota to pick raspberries when they came in season and take home several crates' worth of the fruit to have for breakfast.

If she became disoriented during her trips, she'd spot a highway from the air, land in the nearest pasture and flag down a car for directions.

Mrs. Boylan, 89, who died Oct. 11 of complications from dementia at her home in Staunton, Va., became such an experienced pilot that by the beginning of World War II, she was among the first women to take part in an experimental flight program.

In 1942, Mrs. Boylan took her first commercial flight to Sweetwater, Tex., where she began training as a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots.

The WASPs, as they came to be known, played a crucial role during the war by ferrying newly minted planes to air bases around the country. From there, men would fly the planes across the U.S. border for missions overseas.

The important - if unglamorous - task fell largely to the capable hands of female pilots to free up men for air combat in the Pacific and Europe. Women were prohibited from taking part in the fighting abroad.

Unlike their male counterparts in the military, Mrs. Boylan and the more than 1,000 other WASPs received no federal benefits during their service from 1942 to 1944.

"We just didn't question things that much during the war," Mrs. Boylan told The Washington Post in 1977. "We were so pleased and delighted to have the chance to fly those aircraft."

Unlike male pilots at the time, who usually specialized in a particular plane, Mrs. Boylan and other women flew a diverse body of aircraft, including fighters, bombers and cargo planes.

From her post in Romulus, Mich., Mrs. Boylan piloted P-51 Mustangs, P-39 Airacobras, P-4o Warhawks and hulking twin-engine B-25 bombers.

Mrs. Boylan said that having experience in the cockpit of such a wide variety of aircraft had its advantages - sometimes to the embarrassment of her male colleagues.

"Some men were refusing to fly certain planes - P-39s, B-26s - because they said they had a lot of bugs and were killing people," Mrs. Boylan told The Post in 1977. "They had us fly the planes and that way they shamed the men into flying them."

Margaret Ellis Kerr was born Feb. 6, 1921, in Ada, Okla. Her uncle was Robert S. Kerr, the first native Oklahoman to serve as governor. He also served three terms in the U.S. Senate, representing his home state as a Democrat.

After the war, Mrs. Boylan graduated from Columbia University and worked in public relations for Northeast Airlines.

In June 1948, she met her future husband, Robert J. Boylan, at an Aviation Writers Association convention in Montreal. They married six weeks later and moved to Washington, where Mrs. Boylan's husband joined the State Department as a Foreign Service officer in 1951. She traveled with him to postings in Singapore, Australia, Japan and India.

From 1964 to 1986, Mrs. Boylan served as a congressional liaison and branch chief for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Her husband died in 1980. Survivors include her three children, Robert J. Boylan IV of Swoope, Va., Ann Mazzullo of Fairfax Station and Elisabeth Boylan of Silver Spring; two sisters; a brother; and five grandchildren.

In the mid-1970s, Mrs. Boylan helped lead a group of former WASPs lobbying to gain federal benefits and veteran status. By fall 1977, they finally received recognition from Congress.

In all, WASPs flew more than 60 million miles around the country during the war.

"We worked seven days a week, sunup to sundown," Mrs. Boylan told The Post. "Sometimes we'd get on a commercial flight (after a ferry run) with our uniforms and our parachutes on and other passengers would start getting off. They wanted to know, 'Why don't we have parachutes?' "







Some Thoughts on the Recent Medal of Honor Award
Christopher M. Clarke

Few Americans can have missed the recent celebration of the heroism of Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta to whom President Obama presented the nation's highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor, on November 17. Accounts of his truly self-sacrificing and heroic actions in the Korengar Valley of Afghanistan in 2007 (see article below) indicate the award was well deserved. Moreover, Staff Sgt. Giunta's modest personality and insistence that the award is actually a recognition of the daily heroism of our men and women in uniform, with him only designated as their representative, highlights the fact that he truly does represent the best America has to offer.

In watching the extensive coverage of and numerous interviews with Staff Sgt. Giunta, however, I have become increasingly concerned about the impact of the heavy burden on this fine young American. He is clearly uncomfortable with the attention and embarrassed to be singled out, especially above the two men-his friends-that he lost that day. He has been forced to relive again and again the horrors of the action for which he was awarded the Medal. One has to wonder what further psychological pain receiving the Medal is inflicting on this humble and likeable young career soldier from Iowa.

Perhaps it's partly due to the fact that I have a son about his own age, but 25 is still young, and I fear Staff Sgt. Giunta is being forced to carry a weight that would be crippling to men far older and more experienced. Perhaps we should keep in mind the fate of the celebrated Marine, PFC Ira Hayes, one of the six men in the iconic photograph of the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima in February 1945. Bedeviled by the continuing attention and haunted by his memories, Hayes entered into a descending spiral after his discharge and died only 10 years later, at the age of 32, of exposure and alcohol abuse.

One can only admire the dignity and humility with which Giunta has handled all the attention and hope that it will not add to the lifelong cost of war that he will continue to pay. "Sal" Giunta is a poignant reminder of the hidden burdens of war that so many of our young veterans and soldiers will carry for the rest of their lives. They deserve every bit as much appreciation and support in dealing with their hidden scars as those who bear more visibly the wounds of war.






Obama awards Medal of Honor to Giunta
John Ryan
Staff writer, Army Times
For the first time in nearly four decades, a president has fastened the Medal of Honor around the neck of a living soldier during an ongoing war.

Today at the White House, President Obama honored Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, 25, in part, for rescuing a comrade from the grips of Taliban fighters in one of the most dangerous regions of Afghanistan in 2007.

"It is my privilege to present our nation's highest military award to a soldier as humble as he is heroic." The president then went off script and said, "I really like this guy."

Giunta, from Hiawatha, Iowa, then a specialist in Battle Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, helped fend off a close ambush by 15 Taliban fighters in the Korengal Valley. The Taliban fired hundreds of bullets and rocket-propelled grenades at the soldiers moving in a file.

"The two lead men were hit by enemy fire and knocked down instantly. When the third was struck in the helmet and fell to the ground, Sal charged headlong into the wall of bullets to pull him to safety behind what little cover there was, and as he did, Sal was hit twice," Obama said. "They were pinned down but two wounded Americans still lay up ahead."

After the squad advanced and formed a perimeter around one injured soldier, the squad realized their point man, Sgt. Joshua Brennan, was missing. "Sal sprinted ahead, at every step meeting relentless enemy fire with his own. He crested a hill alone with no cover at dusk," Obama said.

"There he saw a chilling sight: the silhouettes of two insurgents carrying the other wounded American away, who happened to be one of Sal's best friends," Obama said. Giunta took aim and shot down one insurgent, scared the other away and provided first aid to Brennan for 30 minutes.

The fighting was so fierce, each soldiers' gear was shot through or cut by shrapnel during the ambush. The squad suffered five casualties. Brennan and Sgt. Hugo Mendoza later died of their wounds.

Throughout his remarks, the president thanked the soldiers of Battle Company, Giunta's wife and parents, and Brennan's and Mendoza's families for their sacrifices.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey and Army Secretary John McHugh all attended the ceremony.

After the ceremony, Giunta, wearing jump boots, a maroon beret and his new gold and blue medallion, walked to a podium outside the West Wing and made a short announcement.

"I want to make it be known that this represents all services and all the branches that have been in Afghanistan since 2001, and Iraq since 2003, he said. "Although this is so positive, I would give this back in a second to have my friends with me right now."

Seven soldiers have been awarded the Medal of Honor since 2001. Giunta is the 87th living recipient of the Medal of Honor.

http://www.armytimes.com/news/2010/11/ap-giunta-receives-medal-of-honor-111610/




"For those interested in another eye-witness account of the devastating 1967 fire on the USS Forrestal and the heroism of another officer involved in putting it out, see Papa Chris's book, Honorary Samurai, pages 197-212.


John K. Beling, commander of aircraft carrier during 1967 fire at sea, dies at 91
Timothy R. Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 17, 2010; 3:08 PM

Retired Rear Adm. John K. Beling, who was commander of the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal when it was engulfed by a fire at sea in 1967 that left 134 sailors dead, died Nov. 5 at Reston Hospital Center of pneumonia. He was 91.

In the summer of 1967, the Forrestal steamed to the Gulf of Tonkin to support air raids on North Vietnam. Late on the morning of July 29, the crew was preparing for the day's second round of air sorties on North Vietnam.

Seven minutes before the first aircraft was to leave the deck, an electrical malfunction misfired a rocket from a taxied F-4 Phantom. The rocket, shooting across the flight deck, struck a jet piloted by Lt. Cmdr. John McCain, the future U.S. senator and Republican presidential candidate.

The rocket pierced the 200-pound fuel tank of McCain's plane, and fuel from his jet gushed onto the Forrestal's deck. Hot propellant from the errant rocket ignited the spilled fuel, causing an inferno.

Within 94 seconds, the fire detonated the first of nine 1,000-pound bombs, blowing a gaping hole in the flight deck. McCain was able to survive by opening his cockpit and climbing down the nose of his aircraft, which was destroyed.

Then-Capt. Beling was resting in his cabin when the fire erupted. He ran the 20 feet to the bridge. As 40-knot winds fanned the flames, Capt. Beling ordered the ship to slow to try to lessen the gusts. He directed incoming helicopters to land on the front of the flight deck to evacuate the injured. At one point, he considered abandoning ship.

"Capt. Beling saved that ship," Ronnie Crowder, a seaman aboard the Forrestal, told the Jackson Sun newspaper in Tennessee in 2004. "He came out in a T-shirt and directed operations. He would direct them to push a plane over. He was completely in control of what was going on."

The fire lasted 10 hours. Most of the victims were in the carrier's hangar, just below the flight deck.

As the fire abated that night, Capt. Beling addressed his crew by microphone and slowly recited a prayer.

"We thank you for the courage of those who gave their lives in saving their shipmates today. . . . Heavenly Father, help us to rebuild and to reman our ship, so that our brothers who died today may not have made a fruitless sacrifice."

Severely listing, with the flight deck cratered and charred, the Forrestal steamed into Subic Bay, a sprawling Navy base in the Philippines. The carrier was repaired and put back into service before being retired in 1993.

Adm. Beling "never wavered when we had that tragic fire," said Ken Killmeyer, a seaman on the ship and historian of a Forrestal veterans' group.

A Navy investigation absolved Capt. Beling of negligence. He retired from the Navy in 1973 as a two-star admiral and commander of the Iceland Defense Force, a NATO organization.

John Kingsman Beling was born in New York City on Oct. 29, 1919, and grew up in Harrington Park, N.J.

He graduated from the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., in 1941 with a degree in mechanical engineering. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that December, he joined the Navy Reserve as an aviation specialist.

After flight training, he became a carrier-based dive-bomber pilot in the Pacific. In 1944, his Curtiss Helldiver was struck by ground fire. Badly burned, he parachuted into the Pacific Ocean and was rescued by a cruiser.

Adm. Beling's decorations included the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart.

After he retired from 32 years of active duty, he spent more than a decade working for defense contractors. He lived in Arlington County for more than 40 years.

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Evelyn O'Brien Beling of Reston; three children, James Beling of Arlington, Nancy Gallagher of Sterling and Peter Beling of Charlottesville; and seven grandchildren.



Beling had been to Southeast Asia before and almost didn't make it back. He came within a moment of dying in the waters of the Pacific Ocean like so many other pilots and crewmen whose planes went down on raids against the Japanese. Beling was a twenty-five-year-old bomber pilot in 1944, stationed on the carrier USS Yorktown. One day in July, he and his co-pilot flew their dive bomber to a tiny island in Micronesia called Yap. The lush tropical island, located just nine degrees north of the equator, was a beautiful green spot in the Pacific Ocean, surrounded entirely by a broad shallow lagoon and nearly ninety miles of barrier reef. The island was held by the Japanese and Beling's mission was to hit their installations.

As they go to the island, Japanese planes came up to meet the dive bombers and their fighter escorts. Beling in the front seat took aim at one of the Japanese planes with his guns and, for just a split second, regretted having to shoot it. The target was a Betty, which the American pilots considered a beautiful plane. Beling zeroed in on the plane's right engine and squeezed the trigger, watching as his cannon shells cut through the plane and started a fire in the engine. But the fire died out quickly and Beling didn't have time to chase the plane for another shot. The island was almost directly beneath him now and he had to continue on his bombing run.

Beling's escort fighters were taking care of the Japanese planes, so he turned his attention to the island, where antiaircraft guns were filling the air with exploding metal. He was lining up his plane with a good target when he felt a jolt and the whole airplane shuddered. The plane showed no ill effects, so Beling disregarded it and continued to concentrate on the bombing run. He didn't realize that a large-caliber antiaircraft shell had blown through his plane without exploding. Beling squeezed the trigger on his cannons and strafed the island as he lined up his bombing target.

He was low and almost on top of the small island before he realized his plane was on fire. The flames were visible outside the cockpit, but then they died down and Beling thought he might be okay. Then they reappeared inside the cockpit. The plane started to fill with smoke. His co-pilot called for them to bail out, but Beling realized they were right over the island and would land in Japanese hands. Besides, they were too low to bail out.

"No, don't bail yet!" Beling yelled. "Wait! Wait!" He realized that he still had control of the plane, so he made a big climbing turn under full power to get the plane away from the island and up high enough for their parachutes to do some good. But as he pulled the yoke back hard, Beling felt the fire crawling up his legs.

Within seconds, his legs were completely on fire and he thrashed about the cockpit, trying furiously to put out the flames. Beling screamed in pain. He struggled to pull away from the heat, but the tiny cockpit offered no hop of that. His hands and arms were catching fire as he tried to beat out the flames below. With the fire growing larger every second, Beling frantically decided to jump out of the plane now, even through he couldn't tell exactly where he was in relation to the island or how high.

It turned out that he was about one thousand five hundred feet high, enough altitude for his parachute to break his fall. Beling watched as his plane crashed into the ocean, and then he landed in about three feet of water about a hundred yards off the island. He never saw what happened to his co-pilot. He thought maybe the other man had gotten out in time while Beling was too distracted to notice.

Beling stood up in the shallow water and looked around. He was in agony from the burns that covered his legs and much of his arms. His flight suit was mostly burned off. As he stood there, he could see that the fighter escorts were strafing the antiaircraft gun that had shot him down. He was close enough to see the Japanese installations on the island, but so far no one was shooting at him. Once the antiaircraft gun was out of commission, the fighters circled over Beling and one dropped an inflatable life raft to him. He knew they would send help if they could.

The bundled life raft landed near Beling and he struggled over to it, every movement causing excruciating pain in his legs. He inflated the small on-man raft and flopped into it. He saw that the landing on the coral reef had torn open the dye marker intended to help rescuers spot him, and the green dye was filling the raft as seawater splashed in. He didn't care.

Beling wanted to get away from the island as quickly as possible, because he didn't know if the Japanese would start shooting at him or send a boat to take him prisoner. After trying a few different positions, he found that lying on his back made the raft the most stable in the breaking waves. So he lay there staring up at the blue sky and paddling with both hands. But he soon realized that the coral reef surrounding the island was making his journey difficult. The waves broke hard over the reef and Beling had to contend with higher and higher surges as he got closer to the reef. Paddling was exhausting, and the pain was growing worse every minute. He had to take frequent rest breaks. When he had to urinate, he saw that the urine was fluorescent green because the dye marker had soaked into his body through the burns on his legs.

After more than an hour, Beling saw a navy seaplane headed his way. Landing inside the reef was too risky for the rescue plane because of the shallow water, so it skittered down just outside. Beling paddled with all his might as the Japanese opened fire on the seaplane with mortars. That's why they didn't shoot at me. I was the bait so they could get a bigger target.

But the rescue plane did not come alone. Fighter planes had come along for support and they strafed the island while Beling paddled furiously to make it over the reef. The shelling stopped and the rescue plane maneuvered as close as it could get. Once Beling made it over the reef, the pilot on the seaplane stepped out on the pontoon landing gear and urged Beling on. He yelled words of encouragement, partly because he was eager to get away from the island.

The pilot had left the plane's engine revving high so they could make a quick getaway, but Beling feared hitting the props as he got close to the plane. The pilot's weight at the door was making the prop on that side dip low and rock in the waves, so Beling called out for the pilot to get back in his seat and move the plane, trying to reach a rope that the pilot had left trailing in the water. The young man struggled to follow the plane, every kick of his legs sending terrible pain throughout his body, but he finally grabbed the rope. The plane continued to roar forward and Beling was pulled through the water for a while, desperately clinging to the line. Finally, the pilot pulled the line in and grabbed Beling, heaving him into the backseat. The bare metal of the seat was torture on his burned legs, but he had to endure a long, slow ride back to the plane's home, the cruiser USS Biloxi.

Medics on the Biloxi began treating Beling's extensive burns, but it would be a slow, painful process of recovery. His flying days were over for a long while, and it was weeks before he could walk again.

From Sailors to the End: The Deadly Fire on the USS Forrestal and the Heroes Who Fought It by Gregory A. Freeman posted on www.missingaircrew.com/yap/mac/26july1944.asp.







WWII Aviator's Long Journey To His Final Resting Place
Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 27, 2010; 11:48 PM

Claude G. Tyler never saw World War II end. He never came home to greet his parents, Crawford and Florence, never married his sweetheart, Ruthie, never had kids, grew old, retired or passed with the rest of his generation through the cycles of long life.

He died 67 years ago with 11 other aviators aboard a B-24 Liberator named Shack Rat that crashed in the mountains of New Guinea, thousands of miles from his home in Landover, where he used to play the harmonica on the back porch.

He was 25.

On Wednesday, after resting with his comrades for decades in the fastness of a place called the Huon Peninsula, he was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

Seven soldiers fired three rifle volleys in his honor as about 30 relatives gathered in the rain-sodden cemetery. A white-gloved chaplain prayed over his coffin. And as the sun broke through the clouds and an orange butterfly flitted among the tombstones, a bugler played taps.

Much of the world Tyler knew is gone. The closest relatives present were his nephews, Russell and Richard Wayne Gordy of Calvert County, now both in their 70s.

Russell Gordy, a retired truck driver, turned 7 on Oct. 27, 1943, the day Shack Rat fell off the radar during a recon mission to the Bismarck Sea.

But he still remembers his uncle playing the harmonica on the back steps of the family homestead, and his grandmother refusing to accept that her "baby boy" was dead.

And he still has a letter Tyler wrote his mother saying he planned to wed his girl, Ruthie, after the war.

All these years later, her last name has been forgotten, and Tyler's family does not know what became of her. "All I know is Ruthie," Russell Gordy said Wednesday after the funeral.

Tyler's parents and siblings are dead. "Everybody's gone but me and my brother," Russell Gordy said.

Tyler was a staff sergeant serving in the southwest Pacific with the 5th Air Force's 90th Bombardment Group, the Jolly Rogers. His 320th squadron, with its Moby Dick angry whale insignia, flew long-range, four-engine B-24Ds.

According to the Pentagon and the Web site PacificWrecks.org , Shack Rat took off about 7:30 a.m. with a crew of 12 from an airfield outside Port Moresby, New Guinea, called 5-Mile Drome.

The crew included four gunners and Tyler, who was listed as the photographer.

The mission was designed to observe enemy shipping in the Bismarck Sea in preparation for an Allied attack on the big Japanese base at Rabaul, New Britain, northeast of Australia, according to the Defense Department's POW/missing personnel office.

Seven hours into the mission - perhaps on its way home - the plane was north of the Owen Stanley Mountains in the southeast part of New Guinea. It had been directed to land at an airstrip near Dobodura, north of the mountains because of bad weather back at Port Moresby.

Last contact with the plane was at 2:30 p.m. and did not include the aircraft's position, according to the Pentagon and PacificWrecks.

Shack Rat vanished from Allied radar in bad weather in the rugged Sarawaget Mountains, about 200 miles northwest of Dobodura.

Over the next days and weeks, multiple air searches were conducted, but the aircraft was not located, the Defense Department said.

After the war, more searches were conducted in the area for Tyler and scores of other missing airmen, and in 1949 the aviators were declared unrecoverable.

In 1944, Tyler was listed as having been awarded an Air Medal by the Army. And in a March 1945 news account, he was listed as among local men who had been killed in action.

A half-century went by.

In August 2003, a team from the Pentagon's missing-in-action office working in New Guinea heard about a crash site from a resident there.

The resident also turned over part of an identification card belonging to one of the crewmen and reported that there were possible human remains at the site.

Twice in 2004, recovery teams tried to reach the site by helicopter but could not because of the rough terrain and bad weather, the Pentagon said.

Finally, teams were able to get into the area in the winter of 2007, when they found human remains, pieces of personal identification and parts of the airplane.

DNA was extracted from a piece of Tyler's skull and eventually matched with DNA provided by his nephews.

Last Saturday, Tyler's remains were flown on a commercial plane from a military facility in Hawaii to Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport.

His family watched, and the ground crew saluted, as the coffin was unloaded.

"I am overwhelmed with joy," Russell Gordy said of his uncle's homecoming.

"It is one of the highlights of my life to have all this come together," he said. "It's just been a great, great, great experience."

Of his uncle, he said: "I felt he was there looking down."

Another Shack Rat crewman, tail gunner Claude A. Ray, 24, Coffeyville, Kan., was also identified and was buried Wednesday, in Fallbrook, Calif., the Defense Department said.

Larry Greer, a spokesman for the POW/missing personnel office, said that the other crewmen also have been identified but that their families have not yet been fully briefed.





Obituary: David H. McNerney, 79, received Medal of Honor for Vietnam actions
T. Rees Shapiro
The Washington Post


Wednesday, October 13, 2010; 10:33 PM

David H. McNerney, a retired Army first sergeant who was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading soldiers out of a Viet Cong ambush in 1967, died of lung cancer on Oct. 10 at a veterans hospital in Houston. He was 79.

Sgt. McNerney was not supposed to be in Vietnam on March 22, 1967. At 35, he'd already served two tours in those jungles and had spent most of the previous year training young troops to go to war.

"Let me tell you how things are in this company," Sgt. McNerney was said to have told his men, who admitted they were afraid to look him in the eye. "You do what I tell you to do and you do it when I tell you to do it, because you will die in Vietnam if you don't."

He bonded with the soldiers during their training, and when the company received orders to ship out, Sgt. McNerney negotiated with the unit's commanding officers to be included on the outbound manifest, and he started his third tour in Vietnam.

The company's mission that March day was to rendezvous with a reconnaissance unit that had reportedly disappeared in a remote area near Polei Doc in South Vietnam, close to the Cambodian border.

While trekking through thick vegetation, the company's front column was hit with heavy fire and the rear platoon was surprised from behind.

Before the company's 108 soldiers could organize into defensive positions, they were surrounded and outnumbered at least three to one.

In the first minutes of battle, 22 Americans were dead and about 40 were wounded. The company's commanding officer and the forward artillery observer were both killed in the ambush.

As the senior enlisted man, Sgt. McNerney took control of the remaining soldiers and coordinated their counterattack.

In order to get a better perspective of the battle, Sgt. McNerney began to sprint toward the front lines as bullets kicked up dust around his boots. He hit the ground and returned fire, killing a group of Viet Cong soldiers in front of him.

Then Sgt. McNerney's attention became focused on a small orb about the size of a pine cone that seemed to be floating toward him in slow motion.

When the grenade exploded just a few feet away, Sgt. McNerney was blown in the air and suffered a laceration on his chest.

Ignoring his wounds and sensing the approaching enemy soldiers, Sgt. McNerney recovered the artillery observer's radio and called in heavy rounds to within 65 feet of his position - dangerously close to the artillery's margin of error.

In order to mark the area that his troops occupied, Sgt. McNerney searched for colored smoke canisters but realized they had all been used.

Improvising, Sgt. McNerney grabbed his unit's brightly colored insignia panel and headed through substantialenemy fire to a tall tree in a clearing. He climbed up and tied the panel to the highest branch in the canopy, so it could be seen by friendly aircraft.

He continually checked on the wounded soldiers and provided support to the men defending their positions.

The jungle was so dense that when Sgt. McNerney called for an evacuation of the wounded, he was told helicopters could not land nearby.

Undeterred, he crawled to an exposed area beyond his unit's defensive line to collect demolition materials from rucksacks that had been dropped by soldiers. He wrapped the explosives around the trunks of several trees and blew them up to create a landing zone.

When the helicopters finally arrived to pick up the wounded, Sgt. McNerney refused to be evacuated, despite his severe injuries, and stayed on the battlefield until he was relieved by a new commanding officer a day later.

David Herbert McNerney was born June 2, 1931, in Lowell, Mass., and grew up in Houston.

He joined the Navy after graduating from high school in 1949 and served a tour in Korea. After his enlistment ended in 1953, Sgt. McNerney enrolled at the University of Houston but never attended a class.

While walking around campus, he spotted an Army paratrooper recruiting poster and signed up the next day.

After he received the Medal of Honor from President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968, Sgt. McNerney volunteered for a fourth tour of combat in Vietnam.

When he retired from the Army in 1969, his decorations included five awards of the Bronze Star Medal and two awards of the Purple Heart. A documentary based on his Army career, "Honor in the Valley of Tears," was released in May.

Sgt. McNerney worked as a U.S. Customs inspector in Houston from 1970 until his retirement in 1995.

His wife, the former Parmelia "Charlotte" Moeckel, died in 2002. Survivors include a brother and a sister.

As a career soldier whose father had received the Distinguished Service Cross in World War I, Sgt. McNerney was aware of the risks of his chosen profession.

"I was a professional soldier. That was my job," he told Texas Monthly in 1986. "That's why I did what I did. It wasn't a normal day. I was fighting for my life."





Federal employees honored with Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals
Joe Davidson
The Washington Post


[Editor's note: Not all of America's heroes are military. These Federal employees represent the tens of thousands who every day try to find new ways to work more efficiently, present services to the public more effectively, or protect our national security against threats domestic and foreign. Congratulations to the winners and the thousands of others who work selflessly every day for our benefit.]

Thursday, September 16, 2010; B03

With the sticks and stones thrown at federal employees in recent months, verbally and sometimes with lethal force, it's refreshing when ordinary workers are honored for extraordinary accomplishments that really are routine parts of their jobs.

Wednesday afternoon, first lady Michelle Obama met with federal employees who are recipients of this year's Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals. The winners received their medals at a gala Wednesday evening. In a letter read at the gathering, President Obama said, "Federal employees do their jobs with pride and passion, protecting us from threats abroad and at home, keeping our promises to our veterans and seniors, and performing many other vital services that keep America moving forward."

The medals have been presented annually since 2002 by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. This is the first year the awards carry the name of Heyman, the organization's founder, who died last year. The winners were selected from more than 400 workers nominated by their colleagues.

Max Stier, the partnership's president and chief executive, said the awards demonstrate "our government has an ever-replenishing set of amazing people." The winners also demonstrate, he said, the too-often overlooked "value of investing in their workforce."

Pius Bannis, a field office director for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Haiti, took the highest honor: Federal Employee of the Year. He was honored for his work helping hundreds of Haitian orphans find new families in the United States after the earthquake that devastated the island nation in January. "When I get news about the children and how they are settling in . . . that just makes me very, very happy," Bannis said during a luncheon at The Washington Post in honor of the winners and finalists. "It makes me feel the effort was worth it, it's really worth it."

The other winners are:

-- Jeffrey M. Baker, Science and Environment Medal. He led the design and construction of the world's largest net-zero energy office building, a 220,000-square-foot structure in Golden, Colo. Net-zero means the building generates as much or more energy than it uses. Baker is director of laboratory management for the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

He said the work demonstrates that "by focusing on energy performance in the earliest stages of design, others can achieve similar performance on their own projects to help achieve our national energy goals."

-- Sandra K. Brooks, Homeland Security Medal. She uses innovative techniques to gather information about drug trafficking. As deputy director of intelligence and security for the Joint Interagency Task Force South, a network of federal agencies, she promotes advanced technology to detect stealth vessels that have been used by drug smugglers and could be used by terrorists. She said her work helps the nation "to stay a step ahead of our adversaries."

-- Teri Glass and the Army Medical Support Systems Team, National Security and International Affairs Medal. They developed life-saving medical evacuation equipment that has saved the lives of Americans wounded in combat. Glass and the team created a kit that allows a wide range of vehicles, including Humvees, to be quickly converted into medical evacuation transportation.

Glass said the most rewarding part of her job is "knowing that we play some part in a wounded warrior's chances of survival."

-- Shane Kelley and Eva Ristow, Citizen Services Medal. They brought increased Social Security services to residents in remote sections of the country, particularly Indian reservations, by using two-way video connections located in public facilities such as libraries. Their work "has increased the number of benefit applications by nearly 80 percent among Native Americans at some of the reservations," according to the partnership.

Ristow said she gets her kicks by finding "new and better ways to provide service to the public."

Kelley put it this way: "I try to serve America through my work by doing whatever I can to bring the government to the public rather than expecting the public to find the government."

-- Jamie Konstas, Justice and Law Enforcement Medal. The FBI intelligence analyst helped develop a national online database that the partnership said "resulted in the conviction of more than 600 pimps and predators, and the rescue of more than 1,150" child prostitutes.

She described her work as "more of a passion than a job." Helping her colleagues in law enforcement bust pimps who prey on children "has been extremely gratifying," she said.

-- Susan Solomon, Career Achievement Medal. She is a senior scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whose research on climate change "demonstrated how changes in surface temperature, rainfall and sea level are largely irreversible for more than 1,000 years after carbon dioxide emissions are completely stopped," according to the Partnership.

Her work is far too complex for my feeble mind to grasp, but Solomon's enthusiasm is contagious. "So many people are curious about understanding the planet," she said, "and I love those moments when somebody says, 'Oh, now I get it.' "

-- Saskia van Gendt, Call to Service Medal. She is an Environmental Protection Agency scientist who developed an online competition to recognize building designs that reduce environmental impact, by cutting waste and minimizing energy consumption.

Asked whether she would recommend a career in the federal service, van Gendt echoed other winners. "Definitely. It's been very rewarding," she said. "The range of experiences you get is really, really rewarding. You learn a lot . . . and you can see the impact on multiple levels."

The Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service have a content-sharing arangement.







Last Lakota code talker Clarence Wolf Guts dies at 86
Holly Meyer
Rapid City Journal Staff


June 18, 2010 11:00 am

When the towers of the World Trade Center fell on Sept. 11, 2001, Clarence Wolf Guts asked his son to call the U.S. Department of Defense to see if the country needed his code talking abilities to find Osama Bin Laden.

Wolf Guts was in his late 70s at the time, so his son, Don Doyle, did not make the call, but said the request personified his father's love of country.

"He still wanted to help. He was trying to still be patriotic," Doyle said.

Wolf Guts, 86, the last surviving Oglala Lakota code talker, died Wednesday afternoon at the South Dakota State Veterans Home in Hot Springs.

A Native American code talker from World War II, Wolf Guts helped defeat Axis forces by transmitting strategic military messages in his native language, which the Japanese and Germans couldn't translate.

"He's the last surviving code talker from the whole (Lakota) nation. It's going to be a little like the passing of an era," Doyle said.

The 450 Navajo code talkers were the most famous group of Native American soldiers to radio messages from the battlefields, but 15 other tribes used their languages to aid the Allied efforts in World War II. Wolf Guts was one of 11 Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Native American code talkers from South Dakota. Wolf Guts, of Wamblee, enlisted in the U.S. Army on June 17, 1942, at age 18. While in basic training, a general asked Wolf Guts if he spoke Sioux. He explained the three dialects to the general and said he spoke Lakota. Wolf Guts helped develop a phonetic alphabet based on Lakota that was later used to develop a Lakota code.

He and three other Sioux code talkers joined the Pacific campaign; Wolf Guts' primary job was transmitting coded messages from a general to his chief of staff in the field.

Pfc. Wolf Guts was honorably discharged on Jan. 13, 1946, but the horrors of war followed him home and he turned to alcohol to forget, Doyle said.

"He tried to keep it all inside," Doyle said.

About a decade ago, Wolf Guts started to share his experiences as a code talker with his son and the public.

Doyle said his father's deeply religious way of life was also a part of the stories. He always thanked God for bringing him home.

With the sharing of his story came recognition of his service and honors, including national acknowledgement through the Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008 championed by senators Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and John Thune, R-S.D.

Both senators honored Wolf Guts efforts and offered their sympathies on Thursday night.

"I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Clarence Wolf Guts. He and his fellow Code Talkers have had a lasting impact on the course of history and helped lead the Allies to success during World War II. He will be greatly missed, but his contributions to our state and nation will live on," said Johnson.

"Clarence Wolf Guts was an American hero; he was courageous and self-sacrificing. I have a great deal of respect for Clarence and for the extraordinary contributions Mr. Wolf Guts made to our country. The efforts of the Lakota Code Talkers saved the lives of many soldiers, and for too long went unrecognized. Kimberley and I wish to express our sympathy to his family during this difficult time," Thune said.

Doyle said his father was humbled by the recognition, but was proud of his service during the war. Wolf Guts' desire to help others continued throughout his life well after the war ended.

"He considered himself just a man, nobody important. A man that tried to make life better for his family and his people. To me that is his legacy, to be able to help people," Doyle said. "To him, that was being warrior."

Contact Holly Meyer at 394-8421 or holly.meyer@rapidcityjournal.com.





Jerome M. McCabe, survivor of Korean War's Battle of Chosin Reservoir, dies at 84
T. Rees Shapiro
The Washington Post


[Editor's note: Although the U.S. Marines are most often associated with the horrific Korean War Battle of the Chosin Reservoir-and the nickname bestowed on the survivors, the "Chosin Few"-the 31st Regimental Combat Team of the U.S. Army, under-strength and hastily formed regimental combat team of the US 7th Infantry Division, bore the brunt of the attack of more than 60,000 battle-tested Chinese "volunteers" who were intent on driving the U.S. off the Korean peninsula. One of the few remaining members of the 31st's "Chosin Few" has passed away, a good reminder to us all of the heroism our military troops display today in Iraq, Afghanistan, and wherever else they are ordered into combat.]



Friday, September 3, 2010; B06

After four days and five nights of combat in temperatures that dipped to 35 degrees below zero, Jerome M. McCabe's toes were numb and black from frostbite. His right arm and leg were bleeding from shrapnel wounds inflicted by a Chinese mortar round.

The 23-year-old Maryland native and self-described "wet-nosed lieutenant" was the fire control officer for an Army artillery unit engaged in what historians considered some of the bloodiest fighting of the Korean War: the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.

By the night of Dec. 1, 1950, only 385 of the original 3,000 soldiers remained in the 31st Regimental Combat Team, known as Task Force Faith. About 1,000 had been killed, taken prisoner or left to freeze to death. Another 1,500 were incapacitated or removed from the battlefield.

Then-Lt. McCabe said he was lucky; he was part of a group that called themselves the "Chosin Few." He went on to a long career in the military, serving a second tour in Korea and one in Vietnam before retiring as a colonel in 1973. He died of pancreatic cancer Aug. 27 at his home in California, Md., at age 84.

His fellow Chosin soldiers -- poorly trained, ill-equipped and outnumbered 8-1 -- were cut off from a larger Marine force on the west side of the reservoir near Hagaru-ri.

"There were dead Chinese lying all around us, and they were frozen in place," Col. McCabe recalled 50 years later in an interview with The Washington Post.

The Americans had resisted wave upon wave of communist troops attempting to break their perimeter. Finally, by that night, the unit began a large scale evacuation along a snow and ice covered road to the Marines' lines five miles away.

After being struck by the mortar round earlier that day, then-Lt. McCabe laid unconscious in the cold for several hours until he was put in the back of a truck for the convoy headed west.

But the Chinese launched an ambush on the evacuation, blowing up bridges crucial to the American escape. Waiting out the cold in their quilted uniforms and fur hats, the communists opened fire on the Americans, eviscerating the stranded trucks and soldiers with machine guns and mortar fire from the redoubts above the road.

"We were just sitting ducks for the Chinese," Col. McCabe said in 2000, noting he would rather "die before I was taken prisoner."

He scrambled out of the truck and crawled down into a ravine. There, he met up with another group of soldiers and together they hiked the remaining distance to the Marines on foot -- despite the lieutenant's bleeding shrapnel wounds and severely frostbitten toes.

According to historian Roy E. Appleman, author of "East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout in Korea, 1950" (1987), the battle's "hallmarks were misery, soul-crushing cold, privation, exhaustion, heroism, sacrifice, leadership of high merit at times, but finally, unit and individual disaster."

Appleman continued, "It would be hard to find a more nearly hopeless or more tragic story in American military history."

For the rest of his life, Col. McCabe carried the wounds of the war with him. He had chunks of shrapnel throughout his body, varying in size from a dime to a quarter, that were visible beneath his skin. Going through airport security, he'd set off metal detectors. And while his arm and leg wounds eventually healed, his toes never regained feeling.

"So many people did so much more than I," Col. McCabe told The Post in 2000. "You come out and say, 'Why the hell did I survive?' "

Jerome Michael McCabe was born July 20, 1926, in Baltimore. He graduated in 1958 from the University of Georgia with a degree in math education and in 1963 received a master's degree in business administration from Babson College in Massachusetts.

In his post-military career, Col. McCabe worked in the private sector for a government defense contractor.

Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Peggy Duginns McCabe of California; five children, J. Michael McCabe of California., Patricia Ruppert of Laytonsville, Timothy McCabe of Phoenix, Mark McCabe of Fountain Valley, Calif., and Peter McCabe of Ashburn; a sister, Anne Margolis of California; 14 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.











Medal of Honor recipient David C. Dolby dies at 64; had troubled post-military career
T. Rees Shapiro
The Washington Post


[Beisho editor's note: This obituary is a good reminder that, with thousands of our service men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other non-visible wounds of war, we owe it to those who have served to be sure they get the help they need in recognition of their service, whether they received the Medal of Honor or not.]

Friday, August 13, 2010; B07

David C. Dolby, 64, who received the Medal of Honor for saving his Army platoon in Vietnam but had a troubled post-military career that included a conviction for cashing fraudulent checks, died Aug. 6 in Spirit Lake, Idaho. He lived in Royersford, Pa.

His brother, Daniel Dolby, said Mr. Dolby had been visiting fellow Vietnam veterans in Idaho, but he did not know the cause of death.

Mr. Dolby -- "Mad Dog," as he was known to his Army comrades -- was a solid 6-footer who wrestled and played football in high school. He enlisted in the Army at 18 and became an Army Ranger and a member of the Green Berets. He was known to scout the jungle ahead of the other men, toting his heavy M60 machine gun like a rifle.

On May 21, 1966, then-Spec. 4th Class Dolby was in the middle of his first tour in Vietnam. He was part of a 1st Cavalry Division platoon on a mission near An Khe when the men walked into an ambush.

Six soldiers were immediately killed by machine-gun fire.

Several others were wounded, including the platoon's officer, 2nd Lt. Robert H. Crum Jr. Within an hour of the ambush's first shots, the lieutenant, drenched in blood from bullet wounds, sat against a tree and relinquished command of his men to Spec. Dolby.

In Brig. Gen. S.L.A. Marshall's 1967 book about Vietnam, "Battles in the Monsoon," an entire chapter is dedicated to Spec. Dolby's rescue efforts. Marshall said Spec. Dolby was "one of the rarest of warriors -- a man with keen imagination who at the same time, when under fire, seems to be wholly without fear."

While fully exposed to enemy fire, Spec. Dolby launched his own assault on the enemy machine gun bunkers until he'd expended all of his ammunition.

"I prayed in the beginning and then I didn't have time to pray," Spec. Dolby later said of the action on the ridge that day, noting that "bullets were going by -- under my arms, between my legs, past my head."

After reloading, he single-handedly killed three enemy machine gunners, according to his Medal of Honor citation. Spotting a wounded comrade, Spec. Dolby picked the man up and carried him over his shoulder to safety for medical treatment. He then crawled through gunfire to within 50 meters of the enemy positions, which were concealed within the ridge by camouflage mats covered with jungle fronds. He lobbed several smoke grenades at the face of the bunkers to mark them for air strikes.

After a four-hour battle, Spec. Dolby organized the withdrawal of his troops while artillery fire and air strikes obliterated the Vietcong redoubt. The platoon lost eight men, and 14 were wounded, including Sgt. Alonzo Peoples.

"The bravest man I ever knew, maybe the bravest that ever lived," Peoples later called Spec. Dolby. "He saved all of us."

An Army report counted 55 dead enemies on the ridge and estimated that 100 others were killed or wounded. On Sept. 28, 1967, Mr. Dolby -- who had been promoted to sergeant -- received the Medal of Honor from President Lyndon B. Johnson in a White House ceremony.

In a highly unusual turn of events, Mr. Dolby served four more tours in Vietnam after receiving the country's highest award for valor. He said of his continuous service, "If I'm going to be in the Army, I'd rather be in Vietnam where the actions is. I feel I can be of more help to my fellow men there."

His other military decorations included the Silver Star, three awards of the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.

Mr. Dolby's life after receiving the Medal of Honor was marked by controversy. In 1969, he was arrested for possession of marijuana and for participating in a brawl in Vietnam. He was fined $342 and reduced a grade in rank. He left the Army in 1971 as a staff sergeant. He later worked in a tire factory and a steel mill and was a painting contractor with his brother.

In 1974, Mr. Dolby was arrested by FBI agents for cashing at least 58 fraudulent checks under assumed names and worth between $8 and $500 during a trip to Hawaii. He pleaded guilty to cashing $1,200 in bad checks and was placed on three years' probation.

Upon receiving his sentence, Mr. Dolby told the court: "I'm sorry to say I made such a poor and incredible decision at the time."

David Charles Dolby was born May 14, 1946, in Norristown, Pa. His father was a personnel manager at a BFGoodrich tire plant and had been a prisoner of war during World War II.

His wife, Xuan Dolby, whom he met in Vietnam, died in 1987. Besides his brother of Coventryville, Pa., he is survived by his mother, Mary Dolby of Laureldale, Pa.

"Look, we're all equal," Mr. Dolby once said of Medal of Honor recipients. "We all did things that, if we had chosen not to do, nobody would have said we should have done. We all had that one moment in our lives. Other than that, we're just normal people."









Vernon J. Baker, African American Medal of Honor recipient, dies at 90
T. Rees Shapiro
The Washington Post


Thursday, July 15, 2010; B05

First Lt. Vernon J. Baker, 90, an Army infantryman who, more than 50 years after the end of World War II, became the only surviving African American to receive the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the war, died July 13 at his home near St. Maries, Idaho. He had brain cancer.

In 1993, the Army commissioned a study led by researchers from Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., to determine whether there had been a racial disparity in how the Medal of Honor was awarded during World War II.

Of the more than 400 Medals of Honor awarded, not one of the 1.2 million African Americans who served in the war was a recipient.

After researchers found the discrepancy, the Army recommended seven African American soldiers for the country's most prestigious military honor, including Lt. Baker.

On Jan. 13, 1997, after Congress voided a statutory limit for awarding the medal, President Bill Clinton presented the families of six men with the Medal of Honor; four had died in combat, and two others had died since the end of the war. Lt. Baker, then 77, was the only living recipient.

In April 1945, then-2nd Lt. Baker was one of the few black officers serving in the segregated 92nd Infantry Division near the northern Italian village of Viareggio.

He and his 25 men were ordered to lead an assault on Castle Aghinolfi, a heavily guarded mountain fortress on the western end of the Gothic Line, a series of fortified bunkers considered to be the one of the last lines of German defense toward the end of the war.

Two hours after starting their mission on April 5, Lt. Baker and his men came within 300 yards of the castle. While attempting to find a suitable place for a machine gun, Lt. Baker observed two rifle barrels hanging out of a concealed slit in some rocky earth.

After stealthily crawling to the opening, he popped up and emptied the clip of his M-1 rifle into the observation post, killing two sentries.

While searching for more camouflaged emplacements, Lt. Baker spotted a machine-gun nest occupied by two soldiers distracted by their breakfast. He shot and killed them both.

A German soldier then hurled a grenade that landed at Lt. Baker's feet. Undeterred, he fired two fatal rounds at the fleeing German, while the grenade by Lt. Baker's boots failed to explode.

He found the door to another bunker and blasted it open with a grenade. A wounded German soldier stumbled out in confusion, and Lt. Baker shot him. After tossing in a second grenade, he raided the bunker with a submachine gun blazing, killing two more Germans.

On the way back to his men, Lt. Baker saw that his platoon's position had come under heavy machine gun and mortar fire. He watched in despair as 19 of his men were cut down by bullets or wounded by shrapnel.

Even though he'd been shot in the hand, Lt. Baker led the evacuation of his remaining men, helping to eliminate two machine-gun nests and four more German troops.

In the midst of the retreat, Lt. Baker's platoon came across German soldiers wearing helmets painted with red crosses carrying litters covered with blankets.

His shellshocked men urged him to let them fire, but Lt. Baker refused. When the platoon came within 50 yards of the supposed medics, the Germans dropped their stretchers and picked up machine guns.

"Hit the bastards!" Lt. Baker instructed his men, according to his 1997 memoir "Lasting Valor." "Our riflemen cut loose with a vengeance. . . . The enemy platoon dissolved."

On July 4, 1945, Lt. Baker received the Distinguished Service Cross, the military's second highest decoration for his actions in Italy. Upon receiving the Medal of Honor 52 years later, he burst into tears.

"I'm not a hero," Lt. Baker later said. "I'm just a soldier that did a good job. I think the real heroes are the men I left behind on that hill that day."

Vernon Joseph Baker was born Dec. 17, 1919, in Cheyenne, Wyo., where he was raised by his grandparents. He learned to hunt at a young age and became an expert marksman.

He shined shoes, swept out a barbershop and worked as a railroad porter before graduating from high school. When he attempted to enlist in the Army, he was told by a recruiter that there was no place for "you people." He tried again and was accepted into the infantry in June 1941.

He stayed in the Army until 1968, retiring as a first lieutenant. His other decorations included the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart. After his Army career, Lt. Baker worked in Vietnam with the Red Cross and counseled military families.

His marriage to Leola Baker ended in divorce. His second wife, Fern Brown, died in 1986. Survivors include his third wife, Heidy Pawlik Baker; and two children.

He spent much of his later life hunting big game in Idaho. During one expedition, he discovered a mountain lion lurking behind him. After receiving his Medal of Honor, Lt. Baker was asked by Clinton what happened to the cougar.

"Why, it's in my freezer," Lt. Baker said. "I'm going to eat him."








A Hero and a National Disgrace
[Editor's note: The following story relates the story of a hero who answered his nation's call not once, not twice, but three times. It also illustrates the on-going scandal at Arlington National Cemetery, arguably America's most hallowed ground. The mismanagement and negligence of those in charge of the cemetery is a national disgrace that breaks the heart of every veteran and their family members. As July 4, our national Independence Day, approaches, I urge each of us to take a few minutes to remember those who have served their country and to insist that their service be honored properly, befitting the dignity, honor, and efficiency with which they served their country.]




Photo of veteran's tombstone in Arlington Cemetery creek startles son
Christian Davenport
Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, June 18, 2010; B01

It was around lunchtime Thursday when Mike McLaughlin settled into a chair in his family room and opened the newspaper. There, on the front page, was a photograph of a burial marker lying in a stream at Arlington National Cemetery and an article that led to a sudden realization.

"This is my father's tombstone," he called out to his wife.

Then he became, as he said, "unglued." How could his father -- who dropped out of college to serve in World War I, rejoined the Navy the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor at the age of 44 and then served again during the Korean War -- be so dishonored?

Upset, he called the cemetery, which had been trying to figure out whom the headstone belonged to after The Washington Post alerted officials there Wednesday morning that several mud-caked markers were lining a stream at one of the country's most venerated burial grounds.

A few hours later, a top Arlington official called McLaughlin back to apologize for his father's tombstone being discarded in such a way and assure him that it will be disposed of properly.

In an interview from his home in the Shenandoah Valley, McLaughlin, a 74-year-old Arlington County native, said he was "appalled."

"You can't harm Dad, and you can't harm Mom," he said, his voice cracking. "But the way this was handled is going to affect service personnel who are dying right now and in years to come. They deserve some honor and respect."

"We thought it was a sacrosanct place," said his wife, Judé McLaughlin. "I can't believe they'd be so cavalier with such an important thing."

Cemetery officials said they will take corrective action immediately and are to meet with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday to figure out how the headstones can best be removed without harming the stream or surrounding environment. They confirmed that one of them belonged to J. Warren McLaughlin, a retired Navy captain who died in 1971.

After his wife, Elizabeth, died four years later, the cemetery ordered a new headstone and engraved both names on it, said Kaitlin Horst, a cemetery spokeswoman. That headstone is still there today, in Section 47. The old headstone was discarded and somehow ended up in the stream, along with many others. It was still unclear Thursday how they ended up there or why.

But who was J. Warren McLaughlin?

A patriot, his son said. And a hero. A dedicated father and husband, whose military career spanned five decades and inspired his son to join the Navy.

He was born in Burr Oak, Kan., in 1896, the son of a railroad man, the oldest boy among nine children. He went to college and made good grades but dropped out over the objections of his father, who wanted him to be the first member of the family to receive a college degree.

It was 1917. World War I was raging, and the young J. Warren McLaughlin wanted to serve. After the war, he left the Navy, moved to Arlington and worked as an engineer for the Department of the Interior.

Mike McLaughlin remembers sitting on his father's lap as a young boy in 1941 when the news of Pearl Harbor broke on the radio. His father leapt up at the news. "I was dumped on my butt on the wood floor," Mike McLaughlin recalled. "I joke that I was the first Washington area casualty of the Second World War."

The next day, he said his father went to rejoin the Navy and was soon deployed to the Pacific. There, while helping unload a ship, U.S. forces came under attack. An artillery shell landed close to the ship, causing him to fall from one of the decks.

Mike McLaughlin said the Navy wanted to award his father the Purple Heart, but he refused, saying that "his injury was caused by his stupidity, not enemy action," because he was leaning too far over the rail when the shell hit.

After World War II, the elder McLaughlin served at the Pentagon in the Naval Reserves until the late 1950s. Mike McLaughlin followed in his father's footsteps and became a Naval Reserve officer after college, retiring as a commander.

Arlington has long been an important place for him. It's not only where his parents are buried but his daughter as well. She died when she was 4 days old.

And it's where he used to ride his bicycle as a kid with friends from the neighborhood.

"We'd ride through Fort Myer into the back of the cemetery and have one whale of a downhill ride and out the main gate," he said.

So he was especially dismayed when the scandal at Arlington Cemetery broke last week. The Army's inspector general found that more than 200 grave sites were unmarked or misidentified and that at least four burial urns were unearthed and dumped in an area where excess dirt is kept.

As a result, the Army has reprimanded Superintendent John C. Metzler Jr., who is retiring July 2, and his deputy, Thurman Higginbotham, who was placed on administrative leave pending a disciplinary review.

Mike McLaughlin had been following the news closely. Then on Thursday, after he settled into his favorite chair with the paper, the story was no longer just about the cemetery. It was about his father's memory.

Staff researcher Julie Tate, staff writer Rick Rojas and editorial aide Brian Kuhta contributed to this report.





James McLaurin, member of famed Tuskegee Airmen; at 87
J.M. Lawrence
Globe Correspondent

May 28, 2010

When World War II hit, 21-year-old Roxbury machinist James Wardell McLaurin joined the Tuskegee Airmen and became one of 994 black aviators for the Army Air Corps who endured discrimination in America even though they fought the Nazis.

Mr. McLaurin of Weymouth, a retired lieutenant colonel and former assistant regional director of the Small Business Administration, died May 18 at Massachusetts General Hospital of cancer. He was 87.

"We didn't know we were making history in those days,'' said his fellow Tuskegee Airman Dr. Harold May on Tuesday outside Trinity Church in Boston, where five Tuskegee Airman attended Mr. McLaurin's funeral.

All in their 80s now, the airmen slowly rose from a pew at Trinity and gave a final salute to their comrade.

Fewer than 75 Tuskegee pilots are living today.

The Tuskegee Airmen escorted bomber planes on missions and their military achievements are often cited as a factor behind President Truman's decision to end racial segregation in the military in 1948.

In 2007, Mr. McLaurin and other surviving Tuskegee Airmen received the Congressional Gold Medal.

He rarely spoke about his World War II experiences, his family said.

Born in Newport News, Va., Mr. McLaurin moved to Boston as a boy. He loved airplanes as a youth and started flying as a teenager, his family said.

After World War II, he was discharged in 1946 and spent 10 years in the reserves assigned to Otis Air Force Base. He worked in the Boston Navy Yard as a ship mechanic and later an administrator before going to work for the Small Business Administration.

"Jim McLaurin is the type of person who did more things for other people by accident than most people do in their lifetime on purpose,'' said his childhood friend Jay Arrow of Carver, who said Mr. McLaurin helped him earn promotions in the Navy Yard.

"There weren't a lot of opportunities for people like me in those days,'' said Arrow, a Native American.

"Doors were closing in my face all the time. He gave me my big break.''

Mr. McLaurin was remembered for his infectious smile as well as his love of jazz clubs and Cape Verdean cooking.

He quietly carried his experiences of racial discrimination without bitterness, friends and family said.

"He wasn't a prejudiced guy. He always reached out and he never let his experience change the way he dealt with people. His friends were black and white and whatever,'' said his grandson Mark Bailey of Quincy.

"My father was murdered when I was young,'' Bailey said, "so to have a guy like him around to talk to you about being a man was great. I carry a lot of things he told me about being a father, being smart enough to always complete what you start, and to never give up even when you make mistakes.''

Mr. McLaurin married Helen Willis in the 1940s. They raised their two daughters in Rockland and divorced after 30 years of marriage.

His family said Mr. McLaurin brought the Harlem Globetrotters to the South Shore to foster better race relations and founded a program with attorney F. Lee Bailey to teach piloting skills and aircraft appreciation to urban and suburban youths.

"He was funny. He was very easygoing. He was sweet. He was extremely generous to others,'' said his daughter Karen McLaurin-Chesson of Providence.

Mr. McLaurin loved Martha's Vineyard and was a regular presence in Oak Bluffs for many decades. He served on the board of the town's Elderly Affairs Council.

During one summer four years ago in Oak Bluffs, he met then-Senator Barack Obama, who asked him about his Tuskegee experiences. Obama made good on his promise to bring Mr. McLaurin to the White House if elected president. Mr. McLaurin attended Obama's inauguration "with bells on,'' his grandson said. "He was cold, but he was out there.''

Mr. McLaurin helped many local minority businesses through his work at the SBA. "It's no joke he made millionaires,'' his daughter Karen said.

After he retired from the SBA, Mr. McLaurin opened his own small business, East Bay Marine, which ferried supplies to crews working on the Big Dig tunnel projects.

In 1989, the Massachusetts Port Authority declared that the East Boston Pier he rented was unsafe and ordered him to leave. Mr. McLaurin's supporters blamed union politics for forcing him out.

He eventually gave up his business and spent his later years assisting neighbors at the Weymouthport condo complex where he lived.

During services at Trinity Church, where he was a member for two decades, Mr. McLaurin was remembered as an American hero who was more than happy to fix leaky faucets, shave down sticky doors for his neighbors, and drive people to doctor's appointments.

"Jim knew how to help people in all kinds of ways,'' the Rev. David Dill said.

In addition to his daughter and grandson, Mr. McLaurin leaves another daughter, Sheila Jane Bailey of Hyde Park; another grandson; and several nieces and nephews. Burial was in Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain.



© Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company




Korean War documentary, 'Uncommon Courage: Breakout at Chosin,' debuts
Neely Tucker
Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, May 30, 2010; E01

The old Marine is sitting in the lobby of his elegant apartment building in Northwest Washington. Dark pinstriped suit. Checked shirt. Red-and-blue striped tie held in place with a gold pin. Chest full of medals. Black shoes shined to merciless perfection.

He is 84 years old. He is trying to hold his composure.

"I get sentimental thinking about this," Maj. Kurt Chew-Een Lee says in his gravelly voice, his brown eyes dropping. "Just thinking and talking about it."

Lee is the subject of "Uncommon Courage: Breakout at Chosin," an hour-long documentary making a Memorial Day debut on the Smithsonian Channel. It's about one of the Marine Corps' greatest moments, when a few thousand Marines, surrounded and greatly outnumbered by Chinese and North Korean forces, led United Nations troops in bursting out of their death trap near the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War, making their way to the coast and safety.

A short and skinny young lieutenant, Lee made a one-man raid on a Chinese gun position during that battle in the winter of 1950. He then led 500 men on a five-mile nighttime hike across mountainous terrain through a blizzard, in 30 degrees below 0, to re-enforce and rescue another position, all with a broken arm. Then he was shot and had to be evacuated. The fighting was so intense that roughly 90 percent of his rifle company was killed or wounded. He was awarded the Navy Cross.

"He was ferocious," says Lt. Joseph R. Owen, another survivor of that campaign, who served alongside Lee.

The documentary focuses on Lee's role as the first U.S. Marine-commissioned officer of Chinese descent during a time of great prejudice toward Asian Americans. His contemporaries recall hearing racial slights and insults during the era, but Lee politely dismisses the issue as "overplayed and a little ridiculous."

("They better not have had any biases like that," he says now. "They'd have gotten their [rear ends] kicked.")

It also details a battle, and a war, that are often an afterthought in U.S. history discussions.

"It was the Afghan war of its time, and in that way it resonates even today," says David Royle, executive vice president of the Smithsonian Channel. "When you hear the details, it's not that much different from young soldiers today fighting in the hills in the Hindu-Kush."

Lee -- about 5 feet 7 inches tall and maybe 130 pounds -- speaks about the war in crisp, economical terms, if not harsh ones. Much of the military's planning for the conflict was "horrible." The night of his heroic, near-impossible march, he was given "asinine directions" by superiors that he proceeded to ignore.

"Certainly, I was never afraid," he says. "Perhaps the Chinese are all fatalists. I never expected to survive the war. So I was adamant that my death be honorable, be spectacular."

But the documentary and his famed exploits are not what he wants to talk about on this rainy Washington afternoon, in the city where he eventually settled after being detailed to Quantico.

What he wants to talk about as the afternoon gloom settles in the corners of the building's huge lobby, as the cleaning people come and go and vacuums turn on and off, is an afternoon more than 65 years ago, long before he ever set sail for the Korean Peninsula.

It is the day he told his mother that he had enlisted in the Marines. Rather coldly, he sees now, he waited to tell her until the day before he left.

"She did not say anything when I told her. Not a single word. But I could tell by her face she was totally crushed."

The family was Chinese, but he, like his father, had been born in Hawaii. They were living in Sacramento by the time he was a teenager and World War II was raging. His father, an intensely patriotic and proud man (of both China and the United States), sold produce to local markets. His mother raised the children and was "the prettiest woman in the community."

Lee "totally identified" with the Marines' reputation for being the first into combat. He enlisted to counter the stereotype of the "meek, obsequious, bland Asian."

The day after he told his mother, she made him a "banquet-type meal" of his favorite foods. When the family ate, she sat, wordless. She finally went to her room and sat on the edge of the bed. He followed her and stood beside her.

"I thanked her for the meal. I said I had to leave. And then she threw her arms around my waist. She was sobbing. She just cried. She never said anything."

There was so much ahead of him on that afternoon. The brutalities of the war, a successful military career, two marriages. After leaving the Marines, he worked for New York Life for seven years as a trainee supervisor, then nearly two decades for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association as a coordinator of regulatory compliance. He had no children but has a stepdaughter who is now "the closest person to me."

And yet, what haunts him still is his behavior that day, of failing to take into account his mother's feelings.

"I was, more or less, a young punk," he says. Later, he adds: "I'm glad I got another 20 years or so to try to make it up to her. She was a great lady."

Uncommon Courage: Breakout at Chosin, premieres on the Smithsonian Channel at 8 p.m. Monday.






Oldest Medal of Honor recipient from WWII dies
Julie Watson
The Associated Press

Thursday, May 27, 2010; 8:05 PM

SAN DIEGO -- Retired Navy Lt. John Finn - the first American to receive the nation's highest military award for defending sailors under a torrent of gunfire during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor - died Thursday. He was 100.

Finn was the oldest of 97 Medal of Honor recipients from World War II still living. He died at a nursing home for veterans in Chula Vista, outside San Diego, according to a Navy statement.

Despite head wounds and other injuries, Finn, the chief of ordnance for an air squadron, continuously fired a .50-caliber machine gun from an exposed position as bullets and bombs pounded the Naval Air Station at Kaneohe Bay in Oahu. He then supervised the rearming of returning American planes.

"Here they're paying you for doing your duty, and that's what I did," Finn told The Associated Press before his 100th birthday. "I never intended to be a hero. But on Dec. 7, by God, we're in a war."

President Barack Obama said "his modesty does not diminish his extraordinary conduct or the incredible example he has set for our men and women in uniform and for all Americans."

"I had the privilege of meeting Lt. Finn last year, and I was struck by his warmth and humility," Obama said in a statement from the White House. "As we mark Memorial Day, and pay tribute all who have fallen in defense of this nation, the passing of Lt. Finn is a reminder of the sacrifices that generations have made to preserve the freedoms we hold dear."

Finn, who enlisted in the Navy just before his 17th birthday, received the Medal of Honor on Sept. 15, 1942.

He later served as a limited duty officer specializing in anti-aircraft guns in San Diego, Hawaii, Washington, Panama and aboard aircraft carriers, the Navy said.

Finn retired in 1956 after three decades of service, but he continued to help young sailors and stayed active in Navy organizations, Lt. Aaron Kakiel said.

"He's been a real inspiration to a number of our aviation ordnance men and an example for the entire Navy," he said.

Born July 23, 1909, in Los Angeles, Finn lived for 50 years on his ranch near Live Oak Springs, outside San Diego.

Finn died at the Veterans Home of California in Chula Vista, the Navy said. Officials initially said he had died at his ranch.

He will be buried with full military honors. Kakiel said the Navy was still working with his family members on the details.




A Memorial Day Tribute
Christopher M. Clarke
I just finished researching, compiling, and self-publishing a book about what I could discover concerning my father's experiences during World War II. I made only four copies-one for each of his descendants. It was a real labor of love, for him and for my sister, my late brother, and my son, daughter, and granddaughter. But the more I researched and the more I worked on it, the more I realized it was really a tribute to the tens of thousands of GIs my Dad interacted with, many of whom never came back to marry, raise a family, embark on a career, and enjoy a well-deserved retirement. I'd like to share with you just a few thoughts from my research and the book.

My father's experience was unique-as was everyone's, I suppose. He was born in a small town in Ohio in 1908 and remembered as a small boy watching General John "Black Jack" Pershing stopping at the local railroad siding to wave to folks as he returned from World War I. From 1923-1932, Dad served on both active and inactive duty in the Ohio National Guard as a member of what later became the 107th Armored Cavalry. During his service, it was the real cavalry, and one of the few memories my father shared was the thrill of riding a horse at full gallop shooting a .45 pistol in target practice.

Dad had been involved in radio as an announcer and entertainer virtually since the beginning of the medium, as early as the mid-1920s. By the mid-1930s, he was the promotion and publicity director of WNJO in West Palm Beach, Florida and later of WRBL in Columbus, Georgia. The beginning of the war found him in Columbus, GA just outside Fort Benning, a major training facility for infantry, airborne, and other combat troops. From about March 1941 until May 1942, Dad was a member of the Columbus, Georgia Defense Service Council and Camp Services Committee at Fort Benning as civilian coordinator of entertainment for troops. From May 1942-March 1943, he worked fulltime as WRBL's Director, Soldier and Civilian Morale Department, producing, directing, announcing and sometimes acting in theatrical performances and coordinating other entertainment for the troops.

In 1942, Dad pulled every string he could find to get a commission to join the Army so he could continue to contribute to the War effort as a member of the uniformed services. Failing that, he enlisted in March 1943. While continuing his grueling schedule of coordinating and conducting evening morale programs, he spent his days going through regular boot camp with the other recruits. He was promoted to the rank of Technical Sergeant (T/4), but his enlistment lasted only a few months. The rigors of working day and night led to a total physical collapse, and Dad was hospitalized for months, eventually dropping to around 90 pounds. He was discharged in August 1943, but as soon as he recovered his energy, he resumed his duties as civilian coordinator of morale programs at Fort Benning and continued those duties until the end of the War.

Dad never spoke much about his experiences. I remember as a very young boy-perhaps five or six years old-Dad teaching me how to stand at attention; turn right, left, and "about face"; and how to salute. But it wasn't until he died in 1981 that I found among his possessions a small box of strange little pins of all sorts. They sat in my drawer for more than 20 years before I finally got around to investigating what they were and what they signified.



Framed Collection of John H. Clarke's pins from Fort Benning and Fort Blanding during World War II.

It turns out that most of the pins were "Distinctive Unit Insignia" from various military units (see photo attached) that he had entertained. After an entertainment program, a member of the unit would present him with a pin that had great significance to the members of the units. Some units had long and distinguished histories, going back to the War of 1812 or the Civil War. (See examples below.) Many are still in service, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. All took part in World War II in the European Theater of Operations. Some were at Fort Benning unknowingly training for involvement in the D-Day landings, including the unit in which my father had taken basic training. Thousands of the men from these units never returned home-and likely some of the individuals who presented him with their unit pins died on some European battlefield.

Putting together the history of these units, and of my father's brief encounter with each of them, became a moving experience for me, reminding me of the sacrifice so many of our men and women made to assure freedom in Europe and Asia. It made me appreciate all the more the long, thin line of men and women who have been willing to man the walls of civilization from Bunker Hill to Kandahar, those who have answered our country's call In time of need. So, as Memorial Day comes this year, it will not be just another "day off," another opportunity for a barbeque, or a time for family and friends. For me, it will be a day of reflections on the blessings of liberty, the responsibility that goes along with that blessing, and the sacrifices of those who have stood forth to protect it when called upon to do so.





14th Field Artillery Regiment

Distinctive Unit Insignia. Description: A silver color metal and enamel device consisting of a red disc charged with a white Maltese cross within a ring of fourteen gouttes d'eau (silver) reversed; attached above is a wreath of the colors, silver and red, on which is a red and white American Indian war bonnet surmounting a silver arrow. Attached below, a silver triparted scroll inscribed "EX HOC SIGNO VICTORIA" in black letters. The overall dimension is 1 1/8 inches (2.86 cm) in height.

Symbolism: Scarlet (red) is a color traditionally associated with Artillery units. The cross, a heraldic device, and utilized by the Indians in Oklahoma, is symbolic of the morning star and is representative of the dawn of the 14th Field Artillery. The fourteen drops of water correspond to the numerical designation of the regiment. The irregular placement of the drops is to represent a dried peyote, a species of small cactus, one of the sacred emblems of the Comanche and Kiowa Indians. The war bonnet pierced by the arrow of Satanta, a noted Kiowa chief of the mid-19th century, is really a spear with a feathered end and leather grip. Satanta was well known among all the Indians of the Fort Sill region.

Background: The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the 14th Field Artillery Regiment on 20 October 1923. It was redesignated for the 14th Field Artillery (Armored) Regiment on 25 October 1940. The insignia was redesignated for the 14th Armored Field Artillery Battalion on 30 March 1942. It was redesignated for the 14th Artillery Regiment on 21 November 1958. Effective 1 September 1971, it was redesignated for the 14th Field Artillery Regiment. The insignia was amended to correct the description and revise the symbolism on 7 November 1991.



Coat of Arms

Blazon:

Shield: Gules a broad armed Maltese cross with slightly reentrant ends Argent within fourteen gouttes d'eau reversed arranged in the outline of peyote (one of the cactus family, in outline approximating a circle).

Crest: On a wreath of the colors, Argent and Gules, an American Indian war bonnet Gules and Argent over Satanta's arrow of the last.



Motto: EX HOC SIGNO VICTORIA

Shield: Scarlet (red) is a color traditionally associated with Artillery units. The cross, a heraldic device, and utilized by the Indians in Oklahoma, is symbolic of the morning star and is representative of the dawn of the 14th Field Artillery. The fourteen drops of water correspond to the numerical designation of the regiment. The irregular placement of the drops is to represent a dried peyote, a species of small cactus, one of the sacred emblems of the Comanche and Kiowa Indians.

Crest: The war bonnet pierced by the arrow of Satanta, a noted Kiowa chief of the mid-19th century, is really a spear with a feathered end and leather grip. Satanta was well known among all the Indians of the Fort Sill region.

Background: The coat of arms was originally approved for the 14th Field Artillery Regiment on 24 February 1921. It was amended to correct the blazon of the shield on 28 April 1923. It was redesignated for the 14th Field Artillery (Armored) Regiment on 25 October 1940. The insignia was redesignated for the 14th Armored Field Artillery Battalion on 30 March 1942. It was redesignated for the 14th Artillery Regiment on 21 November 1958. Effective 1 September 1971, it was redesignated for the 14th Field Artillery Regiment. The insignia was amended to correct the blazon of the shield and revise the symbolism on 7 November 1991.





8th Infantry Regiment

Distinctive Unit Insignia. Description: Argent on a bend Azure, between in sinister chief a tomahawk Gules halved Sable and an arrow of the last barbed of the third in saltire and in dexter base an eagle's claw erased Proper, three roses of the field seeded of the third, surmounted by a mural crown, the shield and crown mounted on a heavy Roman Gold boss figure in high relief. The overall height of the insignia is 1 5/32 inches (2.94 cm).

Symbolism: The shield is silver (white) with a blue bend, the Infantry colors. The three heraldic flowers on the bend are symbolic of: first, the rose, the flower of the state of New York, where the regimental headquarters was first organized; second, the hispida, the flower of the Philippines, where the regiment saw service during the Insurrection; and third, the temple flower, which is the flower of Cuba, where the 8th served during the War with Spain. The arrow and tomahawk represent the Indian campaigns in which the regiment has participated. The claw representing the maimed strength of the Prussian eagle alludes to the regiment's part in the Occupation of Germany after World War I.

Background: The distinctive unit insignia was approved on 5 November 1923. It was amended to correct the description on 28 April 1925.



Coat of Arms.

Blazon:

Shield: Argent on a bend Azure, between in sinister chief a tomahawk Gules halved Sable and an arrow of the last barbed of the third in saltire and in dexter base an eagle's claw erased Proper, three roses of the field seeded of the third.

Crest: On a wreath of the colors Argent and Azure out of a mural coronet a dexter arm in armor embowed the hand grasping a flagstaff with tassel all Proper.



Motto: PATRIAE FIDELITAS (Loyalty to Country).



Shield: The shield is white with a blue bend, the Infantry colors. The three heraldic flowers on the bend are symbolic of: first, the rose, the flower of the state of New York, where the regimental headquarters was first organized; second, the hispida, the flower of the Philippines, where the regiment saw service during the Insurrection; and third, the temple flower, which is the flower of Cuba, where the 8th served during the War with Spain. The arrow and tomahawk represent the Indian campaigns in which the regiment has participated. The claw representing the maimed strength of the Prussian eagle alludes to the regiment's part in the Occupation of Germany after World War I.

Crest: The crest symbolizes service in the Mexican War; the Eighth was the first United States Regiment to plant its colors on the fort at Churubusco.

Background: The coat of arms was approved on 6 July 1923. It was amended to correct the spelling of the motto on 1 October 1963.

The regiment was constituted 5 July 1838 in the Regular Army as the 8th Infantry,organized in July 1838 in New York, Vermont, and Michigan. It was consolidated in May 1869 with the 33d Infantry, and the consolidated unit was designated as the 8th Infantry. It was assigned 17 December 1917 to the 8th Division, relieved 24 March 1923 from assignment to the 8th Division and assigned to the 4th Division (later redesignated as the 4th Infantry Division). It was inactivated 25 February 1946 at Camp Butner, North Carolina, but reactivated 15 July 1947 at Fort Ord, California.

The unit was relieved 1 April 1957 from assignment to the 4th Infantry Division and reorganized as a parent regiment under the Combat Arms Regimental System. It was withdrawn 1 August 1984 from the Combat Arms Regimental System and reorganized under the United States Army Regimental System. Among the famous former members of the 8th Infantry Regiment were Confederate generals James Longstreet and George Pickett.

1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment

The 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 8th Infantry Regiment was originally organized on 1 July 1838 as a detachment of recruits at Detroit, Michigan. It was designated on 5 July 1838 as Company A, 8th Infantry, and concurrently constituted in the regular Army. It was consolidated in May 1869 with Company A, 33rd Infantry, with the consolidated unit being designated as Company A, 8th Infantry.

The 8th Infantry was assigned on 17 December 1917 to the 8th Division and relieved on 2 March 1923 from its assignment to the 8th division before being reassigned to the 4th Division (later redesignated as the 4th Infantry Division). It inactivated on 25 February 1946 at Camp Butner, North Carolina.

Reactivation - The unit reactivated on 15 July 1947 at Fort Ord, California. It was reorganized and redesignated on 1 October 1963 as the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry. It inactivated on 10 April 1970 at Fort Lewis, Washington. 2nd Reactivation - It reactivated again on 13 September 1972 at Fort Carson, Colorado.

Honors

The regiment has earned a total 48 Campaign Streamers. Decorations of the "Fighting Eagles" Battalion include three presidential unit citations (four citations for A Co. and C Co.). The first citation was awarded to the regiment during World War II on June 6, 1944, for action on the beaches of Normandy. Two other presidential unit citations were awarded to the battalion for actions in Pleiku Province and Dak To district in the Republic of Vietnam. A co and C co were awarded another presidential unit citation for Kontum Province in the Republic of Vietnam.

In World War II, the Eighth Infantry Regiment was cited twice in the order of the day by the Belgian Army - the first for action in the Belgian Campaign, and later for action in the Ardennes. The Belgian Government subsequently awarded the regiment the Belgian Fourragere.

The First Battalion Eighth Infantry won nine campaign streamers, and one in May and 2nd with it being an Oak leaf cluster in October-November 1967 Presidential Unit Citation (United States) with one Oak leaf cluster, and supporting units, for action in Vietnam from 1966 to 1970, participating in operations Sam Houston, Francis Marion, Don Quin, and Paul Revere III, and IV. The Vietnamese Government awarded the battalion the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm and the Civil Action Medal First Class. Alpha and Charlie Companies were awarded an Oakleaf Cluster to their Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism in the Republic of Vietnam. Companies A and C sought out, engaged and decisively defeated an overwhelmingly larger force by deploying small, isolated patrols and conducting company and platoon-size reconnaissance-in-force operations. A-1-4 engineers took much of the brunt blast of automatics and mortar fire from human waves charging and retreating many time they received. Personal awards are highlighted by the regiment's seven Medal of Honor winners.

A few of the famous past commanders include former General of the Army George C. Marshall, and General James Van Fleet, who led the regiment ashore on D-Day.

2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment

The 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, was originally constituted on July 5, 1838 in the Regular Army as Company B, 8th Infantry, and organized at Detroit, Michigan. It consolidated in May 1869 with Company B, 33d Infantry, with the consolidated unit being designated as Company B, 8th Infantry.

World War I

The 8th Infantry was assigned on 17 December 1917 to the 8th Division and relieved on 24 March 1923 from this assignment to the 8th Division and reassigned to the 4th Division later re-designated as the 4th Infantry Division. Company B inactivated 25 February 1946 at Camp Butner, North Carolina.

Reactivation

It reactivated on 15 July 1947 at Fort Ord, California, and inactivated on 1 April 1957 at Fort Lewis, Washington, and relieved from assignment to the 4th Infantry Division. Re-designated on 1 August 1957 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2d Battle Group, 8th Infantry, it was assigned to the 8th Infantry Division, and activated in Germany (with its organic elements concurrently constituted and activated). It was relieved on 1 January 1959 from assignment to the 8th Infantry Division and reassigned to the U.S. 1st Infantry Division. Reorganized and re-designated on 1 October 1963 as the 2d Battalion, 8th Infantry, it was concurrently relieved from assignment to the 1st Infantry Division and assigned to the U.S. 4th Infantry Division. It inactivated on 13 September 1972 at Fort Carson, Colorado. The unit activated on 1 August 1984 at Fort Carson, Colorado. It inactivated there on 15 December 1989 was relieved from assignment to the 4th Infantry Division. Reassigned on 16 December 1995 to the 2d Armored Division and activated at Fort Hood, Texas, it was relieved on 16 January 1996 from assignment to the 2d Armored Division and reassigned to the 4th Infantry Division.

Operation Iraqi Freedom

OIF I (OIF 05-07)

Under the command of LTC James Howard, 2-8 IN deployed in support of OIF 05-07 in November 2005. The battalion spent approximately three weeks at Camp Buehring, Kuwait conducting Reception, Staging, Integration, and Onward Movement (RSOI). In mid-December 2005 the battalion began its move north into Iraq via semi-tactical ground movement. The battalion moved north through southern Iraq, making stops along the way at NAVISTAR on the Kuwait/Iraq border, CSC CEDAR II, and CSC SCANIA before reaching FOB KALSU in northern Babil Province.

2-8 IN, in conjunction with 2nd Special Troops Battalion, and 2nd Brigade Headquarters conducted Relief in Place/Transfer of Authority with 155th AR BDE, Mississippi National Guard and 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in December 2006. 2-8 IN's area of operations included Babil Province north the Yusifiyah, south to Tounis, west to Mussayib, and east to the Ubaid. Within AO NORMANDY the major population centers controlled by 2-8 IN included Iskandariyah, Haswah, Eskan, the Hateen Apartments, Muelha, and an area known as Chaka 4 (or the Kilometers). In addition, 2-8 IN controlled a large portion of MSR TAMPA, from Checkpoint 15 all the way north to Checkpoint 22. The TALONS spent OIF 05-07 balancing kinetic operations with security and support operations, as well as keeping vital supply routes open through AO NORMANDY. Kinetic operations netted several high value targets, while security and support operations allowed the local populace to be co-opted into participating securing their villages and towns.

Through twelve months of combat operations, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry lost six members of the battalion:

PVT Joshua M. Morberg (HHC/2-8 IN); SPC Lance S. Sage (HHC/2-8 IN); SGT Jason J. Buzzard (E/2-8 IN) CPL Cesar A. Granados (E/2-8 IN); SPC Jeremiah S. Santos (B/2-8 IN); SGT Michael T. Seeley (B/2-8 IN)

In November 2006 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment redeployed to Fort Hood, TX. Shortly after redeployment LTC James Howard relinquished command and 2-8 IN began to relocate from Fort Hood, TX to Fort Carson, CO. 2-8 IN finalized the move in the Spring of 2007. LTC Doug Cardinale and Command Sergeant Major Richard Joyce assumed command of the battalion prior to it relocating to Fort Carson, CO. Upon arrival at Fort Carson, 2-8 IN began training up for yet another OIF deployment. In April 2008 the battalion conducted a month-long rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, CA in preparation for OIF 08-09.





14th Infantry Regiment

Distinctive Unit Insignia. Description: A gold color metal and enamel device 1 1/8 inches (2.86cm) in height overall consisting of a gold imperial Chinese dragon placed against a red conventionalized Spanish castle with the motto "THE RIGHT OF THE LINE" in gold letters on a blue ribbon scroll.

Symbolism: The dragon is the crest of the regiment and the castle is one of the charges on the regimental shield. The motto is the motto of the regiment.

Background: The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved on 6 Nov 1924. It was amended on 11 Jun 1925 to correct the color of the motto letters.



Coat of Arms

Blazon:

Shield: Per fess Azure and Argent, two arrows chevronwise point to point counterchanged between in chief a cross patée of the last and in base a spreading palm Vert debruised by a castle Or.

Crest: On a wreath of the colors an imperial Chinese dragon affronté Or scaled and finned Azure incensed and armed Gules.



Motto: THE RIGHT OF THE LINE



Symbolism:

Shield: The regiment was organized in 1861 and played a notable part in all the Virginia Campaigns from the Siege of Yorktown in 1862 to October 1864. It was in Sykes' regular division of the 5th Corps of the Army of the Potomac whose badge was a white cross patée. At Gaines Hill and Malvern Hill the division commander praised the regiment and the brigade commended it at Second Manassas. It performed a most difficult service at Antietam, was in the repulse of the crucial attack of the enemy at Gettysburg and made a most gallant charge at the Wilderness. In later years the regiment took part in two Indian Campaigns indicated by the two arrows and detachments were in two others but not in sufficient strength to entitle the regiment as a whole to participation. It was at the capture of Manila in the Spanish War indicated by the castle, and in the fighting around the same city in 1899 indicated by the palm, and in the China Relief Expedition as shown by the dragon.

Motto: The motto is the much prized remark made by General Meade directing the station of the regiment in the Review just after the Civil War.

Background: The coat of arms was approved on 10 Dec 1921.

At the end of the Civil War when asked where the 14th U.S. Infantry Regiment should be placed in the Grand Review in Richmond, Virginia celebrating the Union victory, General George Meade, Commander of the Army of the Potomac said, "To the right of the line. The 14th has always been to the front in battle and deserves the place of honor."

Since its constitution in 1861, the 14th Infantry Regiment has compiled a distinguished record of service with the United States Army. The Golden Dragons have been "to the front in battle" in the Civil War, the Indian Wars, the War with Spain, the China Relief Expedition, the Philippine Insurrection, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and currently in the War on Terrorism.




Edward Uhl, 92; helped invent bazooka, headed Fairchild Industries
T. Rees Shapiro
The Washington Post
Sunday, May 23, 2010; C06

In early 1942, then-Lt. Edward Uhl was a young engineer just out of college when he was recruited to the Army's ordnance corps for a special mission.

The United States had only recently entered World War II, and the Army was scrambling to create a functional antitank weapon capable of penetrating German armor.

Within months, Mr. Uhl and a senior colleague created just such a device -- a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher that became known as the "bazooka" and is still used in various forms today. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the bazooka one of the crucial "tools of victory" for the Allies in World War II, along with the C-47 transport plane, the Jeep and the atomic bomb.

Decades after the war, Mr. Uhl became president, chief executive and chairman of the defense contractor Fairchild Industries, where he was responsible for overseeing the production of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, an aircraft that ravaged Iraqi tanks during the Persian Gulf War.

Mr. Uhl, 92, died May 9 at an assisted living facility in Easton, Md., of complications from a stroke.

He joined the Army in 1941 shortly after graduating with honors from Lehigh University, where he majored in engineering physics. He was assigned to the ordnance corps and began serving in a special weapons unit with Leslie Skinner, who would retire from the Army as a colonel.

In 1942, the pair received orders to design an antitank weapon that could penetrate four-inch steel plating used on German tanks. At a small shop in Indian Head, Md., they went to work on developing the bazooka, officially known as the M1 rocket launcher.

Physicist Robert Goddard is often credited with designing the prototype for the tube rocket launcher, but his innovation was poorly timed. He presented his device to military officials in Washington in November 1918, the month World War I ended.

Inspired by Goddard's earlier work, Skinner and Mr. Uhl planned to design an inexpensive and mobile launching system. They created projectiles by attaching grenades to miniature rockets that flew at 300 feet per second.

But when it came to a viable launching method, they were stumped.

The weapon needed to be lightweight, accurate and, above all, safe. Mr. Uhl and Skinner were struggling to find a way for a soldier to fire the launcher without being burned by the thrust of hot gas created when the rocket's propellant was ignited.

One day, Mr. Uhl was stumbling through an old junkyard when he saw a metal tube about five feet long and had a brainstorm.

In an interview with Maryland Cracker Barrel magazine in 2007, Mr. Uhl remembered saying: "That's the answer! Put the tube on a soldier's shoulder with the rocket inside and away it goes."

He and Skinner added a shoulder stock and a hand grip. Mr. Uhl tested the weapon first by firing a round into the Potomac River while wearing a welder's helmet and mitts.

An Army official requested a live demonstration at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, where Mr. Uhl and Skinner would fire at a tank 125 yards away, moving at 20 mph.

After six other antitank systems had a try -- all missing the tank or failing to fire -- it was Mr. Uhl's turn. It was a perfect shot.

"I hit the damned tank dead center," Mr. Uhl said.

The Army called for the weapon to be mass-produced and deployed quickly. The new launcher was cheap to make, and the Army reportedly distributed more than 450,000 during World War II.

Soldiers who used the American rocket launcher gave it a number of monikers, including "the stovepipe" (because of its appearance) and "the Buck Rogers gun" (because of its advanced technology).

The officer who oversaw the Aberdeen demonstration in 1942 was credited with bestowing on the launcher its enduring nickname. He remarked at the time that Mr. Uhl's launcher resembled comedian Bob Burns's tubular musical instrument, called the "Bazooka."

Edward George Uhl, whose father was a mechanic and milkman, was born March 24, 1918, in Elizabeth, N.J.

He left the Army in 1947 at the rank of lieutenant colonel and began his ascent in the defense industry. After he worked in guided missiles with the Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River, Md., he joined Fairchild in 1961.

At Fairchild, Mr. Uhl expanded the company's offerings to include missiles, satellites and aircraft, including the A-10 Thunderbolt II, also known as the Warthog. He retired as the company's chairman in 1985.

Mr. Uhl's first wife, Maurine Keleher, died in 1966. Their daughter, Carol Uhl Nordlinger, died in 2008.

Survivors include his second wife, Mary Stuart Brugh Uhl of Oxford, Md.; three children from his first marriage, Kim Uhl of Washington, Scott Uhl of Woodbine, Md., and Cynthia Uhl of Williamsburg; two stepsons, George Hatcher of Easton and William Hatcher of Hagerstown, Md.; a sister; and nine grandchildren.

In retirement, Mr. Uhl and rocket scientist Wernher von Braun went on big-game hunting trips to Africa. On his deathbed, von Braun gave his prized elephant gun to Mr. Uhl.



Photo of Uhl: Associated Press

Photo of Soldier: Us military file photo






Dorothy "Dottie" Kamenshek dead; women's professional baseball player
Matt Schudel
The Washington Post
Saturday, May 22, 2010; B04

Dorothy "Dottie" Kamenshek, 84, often considered the finest female baseball player ever and whose exploits with the Rockford Peaches in the 1940s helped inspire the movie "A League of Their Own," died May 17 at her home in Palm Desert, Calif. A family friend said she had lingering complications from a stroke suffered nine years ago.

Ms. Kamenshek was only 17 when she joined the Rockford, Ill., team in 1943, the first year of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Chicago Cubs owner and chewing gum magnate Philip K. Wrigley established the league to keep baseball before the public eye when male ballplayers were drafted into the military during World War II.

The women's league became a popular attraction in the 1940s and early '50s, and Ms. Kamenshek was acknowledged as its greatest all-around player. She twice won the league's batting title, was named to seven all-star teams and was once recruited to play for a men's professional team.

In 1999, Sports Illustrated named her one of the 100 greatest female athletes of all time.

Wally Pipp, a onetime New York Yankee who lost his job at first base to Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig, called Ms. Kamenshek "the fanciest fielding first baseman I've ever seen, man or woman."

In the 1992 film "A League of Their Own," Geena Davis played a character named Dottie Hinson that was said to be based on Ms. Kamenshek and another star player, Pepper Paire Davis. Ms. Kamenshek, who was often known as "Kammie" during her playing days, was a consultant for the movie and spent two days teaching the actresses how to turn a double play.

"Our skills were as good as the men's," she told baseball historian John B. Holway for an article in Baseball Research Journal. "We just weren't strong enough to compete with them."

Ms. Kamenshek, who was 5-feet-6 and 135 pounds, was playing for a softball team near Cincinnati when she tried out for the fledgling women's baseball league. She was signed as an outfielder before making the transition to first base.

The Rockford Peaches were one of the four original teams of the All-American League, as it became known, along with teams in South Bend, Ind., Racine, Wis., and Kenosha, Wis.. By 1948, the league had expanded to 10 teams across the Midwest and drew almost 1 million fans to its games.

The women's rules evolved from a modified form of softball to an almost exact duplicate of men's baseball -- except that its players wore above-the-knee skirts. The women played up to 120 games in a four-month season. Each team had only 15 players, which meant that they often played with serious injuries as well as constant abrasions, or "strawberries," from sliding into bases on their bare legs.

The players were expected to follow one simple rule: "Look like women. Play like men."

They had to keep their hair at shoulder length and wear makeup even while playing and were required to attend a charm school run by cosmetics doyenne Helena Rubenstein. Chaperones traveled with the teams, and drinking, smoking and unauthorized dating were forbidden. Still, some of the ladies of the diamond managed to have colorful escapades, as recounted in "A League of Their Own."

They even had male groupies, whom they called "Clubhouse Clydes" or "Locker Room Leonards."

Ms. Kamenshek seldom got into trouble off the field because, by all accounts, she was fanatical about practicing. She batted and threw left-handed and spent hours in front of hotel-room mirrors working on her fielding and batting swing.

In 1946 and 1947, she led the league in hitting with averages of .316 and .306. Her lifetime batting average of .292 was the highest ever in the women's league. She stole 657 bases during her 10-year career, including 109 in 1946. In 3,736 career at-bats, she struck out only 81 times.

When a men's team in Florida offered her a contract in 1947, she turned it down because she thought it would turn into a publicity stunt.

Ms. Kamenshek led her Rockford team -- which she called "the New York Yankees of the All-American League" -- to four league titles. In the final game of the 1950 championship series, she drove in five runs to propel the Peaches to victory.

In 1951, she hit .345 and stole 63 bases, and after sitting out the 1952 season, she returned for a final year in 1953. With dwindling attendance and competition from television, the All-American League disbanded in 1954.

"All the girls were there because they loved playing," she recalled of her career, "but we were also here to keep baseball going during the war."

Dorothy Mary Kamenshek was born Dec. 21, 1925, in Norwood, Ohio. She was an only child and grew up playing sports on sandlots.

After retiring from baseball, she received a bachelor's degree in physical therapy from Marquette University in Milwaukee in 1958. She worked as a physical therapist in Ohio before moving to Los Angeles, where she became chief of therapy services of a Los Angeles County children's services agency. She retired in 1980 and had no survivors.

Ms. Kamenshek and the All-American League were all but forgotten until a 1988 exhibit at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Years later, people who saw her play still marveled at her ability.

"Kammie had no weakness," Pepper Davis once said. "She hit left-handed line drives and was a complete ballplayer, the Pete Rose of our league."



Photo Credit: National Baseball Hall Of Fame Library Photo




Walker M. "Bud" Mahurin, a top flying ace, dies at 91
T. Rees Shapiro
The Washington Post
Friday, May 14, 2010; B05

Retired Air Force Col. Walker M. "Bud" Mahurin, 91, who as a fighter pilot in World War II and the Korean War was credited with downing 24 enemy planes, making him one of the leading American aces of his generation, died May 11 at his home in Newport Beach, Calif. He had complications from a stroke.

A spokesman for the American Fighter Aces Association said Col. Mahurin shot down 24.25 planes over the course of his career (pilots are awarded a fraction of a kill if multiple fighters engaged the enemy). He downed 20.75 in World War II and 3.5 in Korea before he was captured by the enemy and endured 16 months as a prisoner of war.

To qualify as an ace, a pilot must have five or more documented enemy kills. The top U.S. ace of World War II, Richard Bong, gunned down 40 Japanese planes.

While serving in the Army Air Forces during World War II, Col. Mahurin flew the P-47 Thunderbolt, a propeller-driven plane equipped with eight 50-caliber machine guns. He used them to devastating effect against the German Luftwaffe.

In November 1943, Col. Mahurin was the first American pilot to become a "double ace," having destroyed 10 enemy planes, in the European theater.

In late March 1944, he was flying on an escort mission over France when he encountered German fighter planes. He dove toward the ground in pursuit of an enemy plane, and his P-47 was shot up in the altercation. He parachuted out.

"The next thing I know, I'm in the French countryside at high noon with 35 of my fellow fighter pilots circling around me like a beehive," Col. Mahurin told the San Diego Union-Tribune in 1986. "I ran like hell."

He hid in a tall haystack and eventually made contact with a group of French Resistance fighters, who spirited him out of the country to England five weeks later.

He finished the war flying P-50 Mustangs in the Pacific. His last confirmed kill of the war came against a Japanese plane in January 1945 on a mission over the Philippines.

In 1951, Col. Mahurin was sent to Korea to fly the F-86 Sabre jet, which he described as "a Cadillac" in the sky, complete with an air-conditioned cockpit.

Unlike during his bomber escort days in Europe, Col. Mahurin's objective in Korea was to lure enemy MiG-15 planes into the sky over the Korean peninsula for one-on-one dogfights.

"That was the most fun I ever had," Col. Mahurin said in a 2006 interview. "You seldom think of aerial combat -- getting shot at -- as fun, but it's a lot of fun if you're doing the shooting."

In a May 1952 bombing raid on a communist railroad depot, Col. Mahurin got cocky, and it cost him.

"I figured they couldn't touch me," he told an interviewer in 1997. "I was on the side of God. I felt that we were doing the right thing for humanity. I saw a truck coming into the target area. I thought to drop my bomb, and then go down to strafe that truck. Back at the Officer's club bar, I would have a great story to tell."

His plane was shot by anti-aircraft fire, and he crash-landed in a rice paddy. As a prisoner of war in North Korea, he was subjected to psychological torture. He was interrogated for hours on end and was forced to stand at attention in subfreezing temperatures until collapsing from exhaustion. He reportedly attempted suicide because of the harsh treatment.

Col. Mahurin, along with many others, signed a false confession that the United States was partaking in a germ warfare campaign against North Korea and China.

"I lived in solitary confinement, with no one to talk to except the interrogators," he said in 1997. "The POWs had a hard time, but they were together. Being isolated in your own mind, in your own facility without any extraneous information, except what they wanted you to hear, was a different circumstance."

Walker Melville Mahurin was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., on Dec. 5, 1918. He was a 1949 astronautics and aeronautics graduate of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.

His first marriage, to Patricia Sweet, ended in divorce. In 1970, he married Joan Gill. Besides his wife, of Newport Beach, survivors include three children from his first marriage, Lynn Vaughan of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., George Mahurin of Brea, Calif., and Michael Mahurin of Florida; a stepdaughter, Valerie Miller of Newport Beach; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

After retiring from the Air Force Reserve in 1956, Col. Mahurin became an official for North American Aviation and other aerospace companies. He spent several years with the National Security Industrial Association, an organization for defense contractors.

He wrote a memoir about his time as a prisoner, "Honest John" (1962), which had been his call sign in Korea, and a book about the German air force during the Third Reich, "Hitler's Fall Guys: An Examination of the Luftwaffe by one of America's Most Famous Aces" (1999).

Despite his prowess, the first plane Col. Mahurin downed during World War II was his own.

His main task with the 56th Fighter Group was to escort large bomber planes on missions from England to Germany. One day, Col. Mahurin was hot-dogging next to a B-24, a hulking bomber with long wings and four jumbo-size propellers.

Col. Mahurin maneuvered his smaller P-47 closer and closer, until he was flying just feet from the B-24.

While pulling away, the tail of Col. Mahurin's plane was shredded by the bomber's propeller. He ejected and landed next to the burning carcass of his plane. When he returned to the base, he received a tongue lashing and a $100 fine, but he was allowed to keep flying.





[Editor's note: The U.S. and British air forces flying missions over Germany in World War II lost more men in action per capita than the Japanese kamikaze corps. Those who flew these dangerous missions deserve our highest respect and admiration. The "Black Thursday" raid was one of the worst encounters of the air war. "After rebuilding its strength, the 8th Air Force again attacked Schweinfurt on 14 October 1943, a day that would go down in history as "Black Thursday." 291 B-17s left England, 229 bombed the target, and 60 bombers were lost. Crew casualties amounted to 639 men ... a loss the 8th Air Force could not afford, and which put a halt, for the time being, to unescorted deep strikes." (Geoff Walden, Third Reich in Ruins, http://www.thirdreichruins.com/schweinfurt.htm.)


Robert Grimes dies at 87; WWII pilot evaded Nazi capture
Peter Eisner


Friday, April 23, 2010; B05

Col. Robert Grimes, 87, an Army Air Forces pilot who evaded capture in World War II when his B-17 bomber was shot down over Nazi territory, and who later was a Prince William County schools administrator, died April 21 at his home at Fort Belvoir. He had complications from prostate cancer.

Only in recent years did Col. Grimes speak extensively of his wartime experiences, in part, he said, because the military had ordered airmen to treat their experiences as secret.

When he sat down for extensive interviews about the war in 2002, he said he felt relief about being able to share his memories. After that, he met with Air Force jet pilots at a base in Colorado, in which he described flying night training missions in the dark, without radar and under radio silence. He knew other planes were nearby but used instinct and occasional flares to avoid collisions. The top-gun pilots were shocked and rendered speechless.

In 1943, then-Lt. Grimes and a nine-man crew flew bombing runs over Nazi Europe from an English air base, north of London. He was 20, unknown to the others, and was the youngest of the crew. It was the height of the U.S. Army Eighth Air Force daylight bombings of strategic targets over Nazi territory. On a mission near Gdansk, Poland, on Oct. 9, they faced intense ground fire and flak.

After dropping his bombs, he was able to return to his base at Snetterton Heath, but the B-17 was riddled with holes and taken out of service. Lt. Grimes and crew set off with a different plane on the morning of Oct. 20, six days after what became known as "Black Thursday" -- an attack on a Schweinfurt, Germany, ball-bearing plant in which 60 B-17s and 600 men were lost.

The target this time was a bomb manufacturing plant near Aachen, Germany. Nazi fighter planes zoomed in when Lt. Grimes experienced engine trouble over central Belgium. He was forced to linger beneath the clouds and separated from the rest of his squadron.

Within minutes, cannon fire destroyed the plane's tail, and Lt. Grimes struggled for control. As he sounded the alarm, not realizing he had been wounded in the leg by machine-gun fire, the pilot held a slow circle and fought for crucial seconds so the crew could jump free of the stricken plane. He was the last to bail out before the B-17 crashed into a field close to a Luftwaffe base, 35 miles southwest of Brussels.

Col. Grimes later learned that four of his crewmen were killed in action, but five had survived the crash. "You never stop thinking about it," he said in a 2004 interview. "In my mind, I'm back in the cockpit, left seat, looking at the controls, and I'm dodging and diving around the Nazi fighters, trying to make it to a cloud bank. And I look for every option, but I never come up with anything to save us."

On the ground in Belgium, he heard Nazi patrols and barking dogs but was able to hide in the brush until dark, when farmers saved him, knowing the penalty for harboring airmen was execution. He was handed over to members of the Comet Line, a civilian escape organization that saved an estimated 700 airmen during the war. A young member of the organization, Micheline Dumont, arranged for a doctor to remove a bullet from Lt. Grimes's leg and nursed him back to health.

He recalled celebrating his 21st birthday in Brussels on Thanksgiving Day, hidden by Micheline and her friends.

In mid-December, Comet operatives provided forged Belgian and French identity papers and led him on foot, by bicycle and train to a village near the French-Spanish border. Basque guides took Lt. Grimes and several other airmen on an overnight hike in the freezing rain through the Pyrenees. He and his companions waded to safety across the Bidassoa River into Spain before dawn Dec. 23, pursued by Nazi patrols and facing fire from border guards.

Lt. Grimes returned to the United States, trained other bomber pilots in 1944 and was preparing for an impending invasion of Japan when the war ended in 1945. As part of the new Air Force, he went back to Europe for the Berlin Airlift that brought supplies to Berliners during a communist blockade of that city.

He finished his military career as chief of the logistics operations division with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After military retirement in 1972, at the rank of colonel, he spent 10 years as an associate superintendent of schools in Prince William County.

Robert Zeno Grimes was born in Portsmouth, Va., on Nov. 24, 1922. He was one of seven children born to a master carpenter at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

In 1945, he married Mary Helen Moore. Besides his wife, of Fort Belvoir, survivors include three daughters, Susan Grimes of Washington, Jennifer Grimes of Falls Church and Dale Soper of Woodbine, Md.; two brothers; two sisters; two grandsons; and three great-grandchildren.

After the war, Col. Grimes received a bachelor's degree in military science from the University of Maryland and a master's degree in business administration from George Washington University. His military decorations included the Legion of Merit, the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.

One of Col. Grimes's riveting memories was having been on a Brussels street car the night of his birthday celebration, which was halted by Nazi guards. "I gave the first guard my Belgian ID card and got through it. Then the second guard came and asked me in French if I'd already shown my identification. I somehow saved myself with my high school French. And this was what I said, 'Oui, oui.' Those words saved my life."

Peter Eisner, a former Washington Post editor, is author of "The Freedom Line" (William Morrow, 2004), the story of Robert Grimes and the Comet Line.




Jaime Escalante dies, inspired 1988 film 'Stand and Deliver'
Jay Mathews


Wednesday, March 31, 2010; B05

Jaime A. Escalante, the most famous and influential American public-school teacher of his generation, died March 30 of cancer at his son's home near Sacramento. He was 79.

A lively, wisecracking Bolivian who did not begin teaching in the United States until he was 44, Mr. Escalante transformed one of the lowest-performing high schools in the country into a model for raising the achievement of disadvantaged children. A 1988 film about his success, "Stand and Deliver," with Edward James Olmos playing the East Los Angeles math teacher, spread his story around the world and inspired teachers in hundreds of inner-city schools to copy his methods.

Mr. Escalante pioneered the use of Advanced Placement, a program of college-level courses and tests designed for high-achieving private schools, to raise standards in average and below-average public schools. His success at Garfield High School, where 85 percent of the students were low-income and few parents had more than a sixth-grade education, suggested that more time and encouragement for learning could trump educational disadvantages.

Calculus was one of the most difficult of the AP subjects. The three-hour final exam, written and scored by outside experts, was considered an impossible goal by many Garfield teachers, familiar with the academic weaknesses of their mostly Hispanic students. Mr. Escalante's first calculus class in 1978 did poorly. Five of the original 14 students lasted the entire course. Only two passed the exam.

But each year's calculus class did better than the previous one. When in 1982 all 18 students passed the exam, Mr. Escalante hoped he had a thriving program that would only get bigger.

Then the Educational Testing Service, which administered AP exams for the College Board, accused 14 of the students of cheating on the exam. Outraged Hispanic community leaders suspected ethnic bias and called for protests. But Mr. Escalante urged his students to retake the exam, an option allowed under AP rules.

Twelve accepted his advice. The exam this time was heavily proctored. The results gave the film its dramatic high point and guaranteed Mr. Escalante's celebrity: All 12 passed the exam, including five who earned top scores.

A Washington Post investigation of the cheating charges unearthed copies of the original exams of 10 students, and they showed that nine of them had been involved in copying one another's work on one free-response question during the first exam. Mr. Escalante never accepted that account and noted that the second exam results were clearly valid.

The Garfield AP program continued to grow, with courses in history, government and biology, and spectacular results in calculus.

In 1987, Garfield students took 129 AP calculus exams, more than all but four high schools, public or private, in the country. That year more than a quarter of all Mexican American students in the United States who passed the Calculus AB exam attended Garfield.

Jaime Alfonso Escalante Gutierrez was born Dec. 31, 1930, in La Paz, Bolivia. He was a fun-loving, athletic teenager who developed into a natural teacher.

His first job was teaching physics, without a textbook, to a class at the American Institute, a school established by Methodist missionaries, when he was 21. He became a popular science teacher in La Paz, often working at one school in the morning, another in the afternoon and tutoring at night.

His wife, Fabiola, arranged for the family to move to California, to which two of her brothers had already immigrated. Mr. Escalante went along with his wife's plan, but he was frustrated to discover upon arriving that his Bolivian credentials would not get him a job in any U.S. school.

He spent 10 years learning English and repeating his undergraduate education and teacher training, mostly at night and during the summers, before he was accepted as a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Shortly after Mr. Escalante arrived at Garfield in 1974, its administrators were fired because the chaotic campus -- riven by gang disputes -- was on the verge of losing its accreditation. Few people noticed the balding teacher with the thick accent teaching basic math to the school's lowest-achieving students. But the new principal saw how well-decorated his classroom was, with sports posters and motivating slogans. Mr. Escalante was given more challenging classes, leading to his experiment in AP Calculus for barrio children.

Once Mr. Escalante became a national celebrity, rubbing shoulders with Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron on his own PBS series on careers for students who applied themselves in school, he faced resentment from other Garfield teachers. He was quick to tell Principal Henry Gradillas about colleagues selling real estate in the teachers lounge or calling in sick to get a head start on their weekend. He was painfully blunt about the flaws in the teaching methods of other teachers in the math department, which he chaired.

Much of Mr. Escalante's success with students stemmed from his ability to persuade them to work on lessons in his classroom after school each day, and to attend Saturday and summer classes to prepare for calculus. He rejected the usual markers of academic excellence and insisted that regardless of a student's GPA, he would let her take the AP course if she promised to work hard.

On one occasion, a student he did not know wandered into his after-school classroom, crowded with people doing their homework. She said she was in the gifted class and needed help with a problem. His voice full of delight, Mr. Escalante motioned to a boy in the room and said, "Let me have a student who is not gifted show you how to do that."

Lured to a Sacramento school by an ambitious superintendent in 1991, Mr. Escalante ended his career quietly, making sure that his students passed the AP test without trying to revolutionize the school. In retirement, he divided his time between California and Bolivia, where he complained that several schools were named after him but had given him no money for the rights.

He is survived by his wife, two sons and six grandchildren.






Heinz Stahlschmidt dies; demolitions expert thwarted razing of Bordeaux
T. Rees Shapiro
The Washington Post


Friday, March 12, 2010; B08

Heinz Stahlschmidt, a World War II demolitions expert in the German navy who disobeyed orders to raze the crucial French port of Bordeaux and instead set off a controlled explosion that was credited with saving the city, died Feb. 23.

He was 90 or 91, depending on news accounts, and had been living in Bordeaux since 1947, when he became a naturalized French citizen and was known as Henri Salmide.

Mr. Stahlschmidt, a native of Dortmund in northeast Germany, joined the navy in 1939 and was trained to defuse British sea mines. He survived the sinking of three warships and in 1941 was assigned to shore duty in Bordeaux in southwest France.

In late August 1944, with Allied forces closing in, he was ordered by his superiors to rig Bordeaux's docks to blow. It was the country's most extensive port, stretching about seven miles.

Mr. Stahlschmidt said he could not bring himself to perform the job. "My family were Huguenots, and I acted according to my Christian conscience," he told Reuters in 1997. "I could not accept that the port be wantonly destroyed when the war was clearly lost."

After making contact with French Resistance fighters, Mr. Stahlschmidt came up with a plan to thwart the destruction.

The German orders called for the city to be blown up on Aug. 26, but Mr. Stahlschmidt struck Aug. 22 at 8:15 p.m. He laid strips of dynamite inside the supply bunker filled with demolition hardware and thousands of pounds of ordnance and watched as the city shook from the huge explosion.

He killed dozens of Germans in the process but spared nearly 3,500 civilian lives -- the number the Germans expected to die in the port blast. By saving Bordeaux -- home to the country's most vital harbor and nucleus of the famed wine region -- he also helped assure France had a stable platform for postwar economic recovery.

In 2000, France made him a Knight of the Légion d'Honneur, one the country's most prestigious decorations.

After the demolition, Mr. Stahlschmidt hid from Gestapo in Bordeaux, became a member of the port's fire brigade and later married a French woman, Henriette Buisson, according to the New York Times. She is his only immediate survivor, the Times reported.

Mr. Stahlschmidt was seen as a traitor by many Germans, and his name was struck from official German naval records. Likewise, Mr. Stahlschmidt said French officials nearly shot him after the war because of his German military service. For many years, the French Resistance tried to take credit for Mr. Stahlschmidt's exploits in Bordeaux.

"Despite it all, in the same circumstances I'd do it all over again," Mr. Stahlschmidt told Reuters. "But to some people, I'm still just a 'boche' [a derogatory term in French for Germans]."

By adopting a French name, he made his allegiances clear. He returned to Germany only once, in 2001, and proudly wore the Legion d'Honneur insignia on his lapel during a visit to Dortmund.

Bordeaux city government officials said Mr. Stahlschmidt will be buried in French soil.

Washington Post, March 12, 2010





Officers Who Shot Pentagon Gunman Recall Moments Of Mayhem
Christian Davenport
The Washington Post

Tuesday, March 9, 2010; B02

There was something about the man in the blazer that wasn't quite right -- an intensity, a nervousness -- that told Officer Marvin Carraway that "something was about to happen."

A former Marine who served in the Persian Gulf War, Carraway could sense it, he said. So he stood up to greet the man at the entrance to the Pentagon last Thursday evening, and that's when John Patrick Bedell pulled out a gun and started firing.

Within moments, the gunman suffered a fatal gunshot wound. In interviews Monday, the three members of the Pentagon Force Protection Team involved in the shooting outside the Pentagon said Bedell, a 36-year-old Californian whose family said he had descended into paranoia, appeared from out of nowhere and started firing wildly.

Even though Bedell was standing just five feet away, he only managed to hit Carraway in the thigh. Carraway, 44, said he retreated behind a bulletproof barrier while Bedell kept firing. Police said the shooter was carrying two 9mm semiautomatic handguns. Nearby, Officer Colin Richards also ducked behind a barrier, and, as Bedell ran past them, the two officers returned fire.

"There was no time to think," Carraway said, "it happened so fast."

Moments before, Officer Jeffrey Amos, 46, who was on patrol near the Metro station entrance, had decided to stretch his legs when he heard "a loud popping sound" and thought, "That's gunfire." He started running toward the sound and suddenly saw Bedell, holding a gun, running toward him.

Amos raised his UMP 40 submachine gun and fired, and Bedell came crashing down, knocking over a metal railing. He was pronounced dead later that evening. Authorities said he had been shot in the head.

On Monday, all three officers said they were thankful no one else was hurt. "It could have been much worse," Carraway said.

Amos's shoulder was grazed by the gunfire. Carraway said a bullet just broke the skin of his thigh.

"He's Superman," said Richards, 29. "Man of steel."

"He's a former Marine," Amos added.

The incident was, the officers said, the sort of harrowing, random attack they try to stay alert for -- even at the end of a shift on what had been a normal Thursday of checking identifications at the Pentagon entrance.

All three officers are on routine administrative leave while investigators look into the shooting, but they should be back at work within a week, said Terry Sutherland, a police spokesman. In the meantime, they're spending time with their families.

Amos, who has three children, said his youngest, a 5-year-old, keeps asking: "Daddy, why are they calling you a hero?"









WW2 Renegades Saved Lives
T. Rees Shapiro
The Washington Post


One was codenamed Agent Rose, the other was dubbed Bordeaux's Choltitz.

Andree Peel was a member of the French Resistance movement. She got her codename for being a saving grace to more than 100 British and American pilots shot down over France whom she helped flee the German occupied country.

In 1944, Heinz Stahlschmidt was a German Navy ordnance expert who was ordered to blow up the docks of Bordeaux, the country's most vital harbor. But Mr. Stahlschmidt wouldn't do it.

He disobeyed the orders and instead blew up his own explosives cache and went into hiding. (Much like Dietrich von Choltitz, the German general who refused Hitler's orders to burn Paris.)

Mr. Stahlschmidt later said the weight of the more than 3,500 civilians who would have been killed by his blasts seemed like too much of a cost when "the war was clearly lost

During her efforts, Mrs. Peel was captured by Nazi foot soldiers who tortured and interrogated her for her role in helping the Allies. Just as her captors were lining her up to be executed, U.S. troops arrived and liberated the prison.



"I was born with courage."Agent Rose later said of her exploits. "I saved 102 pilots before being arrested."

Her work did not go unnoticed. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was honored to shake her hand.

Mr. Stahlschmidt was not as lucky. After blowing up the explosives cache, he was hunted by Gestapo and French officials later tried to have him shot for his participation in the German military.

Nonetheless, Stahlschmidt was proud of his efforts, and eventually so was France. They granted him naturalized citizenship and a new name: Henri Salmide. In 2001, France awarded him with a prestigious honor.

He later said he had no regrets: "Despite it all, in the same circumstances I'd do it all again."

Mrs. Peel died March 5 at age 105. Mr. Stahlschmidt died Feb. 23 at 90 (or 91, there are conflicting reports).

It's pretty interesting to learn about how both of these people acted on their own instincts to preserve some humanity during a dark period in history.

After watching the Oscars last night, in which several war movies won awards, do either of these Renegades' life stories sound script worthy to you? Let us know below if you do.






2 teens injured in Colorado middle school shooting
Samantha Abernethy
The Associated Press

Wednesday, February 24, 2010; 12:44 AM

LITTLETON, Colo. -- A teacher tackled a man armed with a high-powered rifle just after two teenage students were shot Tuesday at a suburban Denver middle school that's just miles from Columbine High School, the site of one of the nation's deadliest school shootings, authorities said.

One male and one female were shot at about 3:30 p.m. outside Deer Creek Middle School in Littleton, Jefferson County Sheriff's office spokeswoman Jacki Kelley said. Both students were taken to a nearby hospital and were expected to survive.

Student Steven Seagraves said he was about 10 feet away when an adult approached students and asked them: "Do you guys go to this school?"

When the students said they did, he shot them, Seagraves said.

Seventh-grade math teacher David Benke, a 6-foot-5 inch former college basketball player who oversees the school's track team, tackled the suspect as he was trying to reload his weapon.

"He was trying to rack another round. He couldn't get another round in before I got to him so I grabbed him," Benke said, recalling that he didn't have time to fear for his life.

Benke's wife said her husband called her after the shooting.

"He said there was a shooting and that he had to tackle the gunman," Sandra Benke said. She said her husband was upset that he couldn't reach the shooter before two rounds were fired. "He said, 'It was one of my students.'"

The sheriff's office identified the suspect as 32-year-old Bruco Strongeagle Eastwood, a man they say had visited the school before and was inside the building shortly before the shooting. Authorities have not said what his connection is to the school. He is expected to make his first court appearance Wednesday morning and may face at least two counts of attempted murder.

Eastwood has an arrest record in Colorado dating back to 1996 that includes menacing, assault, domestic violence and driving under the influence of alcohol, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

A man who answered the phone Tuesday night at a number listed for Eastwood identified himself only as "Mr. Eastwood" and said he was Bruco Eastwood's father. He was at a loss for words.

"There's nothing you can say about it. What can you say?" the man told The Associated Press. "Pretty dumb thing to do. I feel bad for the people involved." He wouldn't comment further.

The victims, Reagan Webber and Matt Thieu, were both treated at Littleton Adventist Hospital. Christine Alexander, a hospital spokeswoman, said Webber was treated and released to her home, and that Thieu was transferred to another hospital.

Authorities say both victims had surgery Tuesday evening.

Bus driver Steve Potter said he was about to pull away from the school with a full bus when he heard a loud bang that sounded like an M-80 firecracker. Students screamed when they spotted the man with a rifle, Potter told KMGH-TV.

"He looked like he was just kind of looking around for someone to shoot," he said.

Potter said he saw Benke grab the suspect so he and another man jumped on the gunman and helped hold him until police arrived.

"He's the real hero," Potter said of Benke. "All the credit goes to him."

Kevin Zwolinski, another student, said he had just boarded a school bus when he heard two shots and saw one of the victims fall to the ground.

"I thought it could have been like a tire might have been popped, but as soon as I turned around and saw everyone running I knew it was a gun," he said.

Zwolinski said everyone on the bus was told to lie silently on the floor until authorities arrived.

The school is about three miles southwest of Columbine High School, where two teens - Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris - killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 23 others before killing themselves in 1999.

The middle school was temporarily locked down with about 30 students in the building. They were eventually taken to a nearby elementary school, where they were to meet up with their parents.

Students' parents were alerted through text messages, phone calls and e-mails, Jefferson County Schools spokeswoman Melissa Reeves said.

Kelley said authorities don't yet have a motive for the shootings.

"Why this school, why this happened, why these students, we don't have any of those answers yet," she said.

Associated Press writers P. Solomon Banda in Littleton and Ivan Moreno and Thomas Peipert in Denver contributed to this story.







Soldier Stormed Japanese Machine Gun Bunker
T. Rees Shapiro



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Alejandro R. Ruiz Sr., 85, an Army infantryman in World War II who received the Medal of Honor for single-handedly storming a Japanese machine gun bunker -- twice -- during the Battle of Okinawa, died Nov. 23 at a hospital in Napa, Calif. He had congestive heart failure.

On April 28, 1945, in the last months of the war, Pfc. Ruiz deployed to Okinawa on a mission with his platoon, seeking remnants of a Japanese battalion hiding in fortified emplacements on steep ridges near the village of Gasukuma.

The soldiers were patrolling in a ravine when they were ambushed from a network of concealed pillboxes. Coming under heavy fire, every soldier except Pfc. Ruiz and his squad leader was dead or injured.

Realizing that his standard-issue M1 Garand -- with an eight round clip -- would be insufficient against the more powerful Japanese machine guns, Pfc. Ruiz picked up a Browning automatic rifle and began his solo assault. He calmly walked 35 yards to the bunker. He climbed on top and was prepared to fire into it, but a ruptured cartridge jammed the Browning, according to the Medal of Honor citation.

A Japanese soldier charged him, and Mr. Ruiz beat him down with the broken gun. Pfc. Ruiz tossed the rifle aside and ran back through the grenade explosions and gunfire to where his platoon was pinned down. He retrieved a second weapon, tested it and grabbed some extra cans of ammo before he dashed back.

All of the Japanese guns were now trained on Pfc. Ruiz as he raced back through a hail of gunfire. He was hit in the leg, but he managed to climb back on top of the pillboxes. He jumped from one bunker to the other, spraying bursts of gunfire into the apertures.

Pfc. Ruiz's Medal of Honor citation says that "in the face of overwhelming odds," he single-handedly killed 12 Japanese soldiers and silenced the machine gun nest, saving his fellow soldiers.

President Harry S. Truman gave him the Medal of Honor, the military's highest award for valor, during a ceremony at the White House in June 1946. He also received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Alejandro Renteria Ruiz was born April 26, 1924, in Loving, N.M., to Mexican immigrants. He spent his career in the Army. He also served in the Korean War and retired as a master sergeant in the mid-1960s. He lived for many years in Visalia, Calif., which named a park in his honor. Most recently, he had been living at the Veterans Home in Yountville, Calif., near Napa.

His marriages to Eliza Martinez and Lilia Flores ended in divorce. Survivors include two children from his first marriage, Celia Ruiz and Alejandro Ruiz Jr., both of Berkeley, Calif.; a sister; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Sgt. Ruiz often recounted the circumstances that led to his Army service. As a teenager working in odd jobs for a cattle farmer in Carlsbad, N.M., he had been tasked to drive a cow to another farm when he became distracted by thoughts of a girlfriend.

He drove, with the cow in tow, straight to Barstow, Tex., 122 miles away, to woo the young woman into marrying him. Sgt. Ruiz was detained, and a judge told him that he would either be sent to jail for kidnapping the cow, or he could enlist in the Army to stay out of trouble. He chose the Army.








Freya von Moltke dies; led Nazi resistance Kreisau Circle
Emily Langer
Washington Post Staff Writer


Saturday, January 9, 2010; B04

Freya von Moltke, 98, who married into one of Germany's most prominent military families and preserved the memory of the Nazi resistance activities that led to her husband's execution, died of a viral infection Jan. 1 at her home in Norwich, Vt., where she had lived for the past 50 years.

Mrs. von Moltke outlived her husband, Count Helmuth James von Moltke, by almost 65 years. He was hanged in Berlin on Jan. 23, 1945. Together they ran the Kreisau Circle resistance group from their estate in rural Silesia, which was then German territory and is now part of Poland.

The full extent of the von Moltkes' activities did not emerge until decades later with the publication of two books: "Letters to Freya: 1939-1945," a collection of their correspondence published in 1990, and "Memories of Kreisau and the German Resistance," Mrs. von Moltke's memoirs published in English in 2003.

A group of several dozen German intellectuals, the Kreisau Circle participated in discussions of an attempt on Hitler's life. For moral and practical reasons, Helmuth von Moltke and other members disagreed with the assassination plan, at least initially. Other members supported and ultimately abetted the unsuccessful 1944 bomb plot.

Mostly, the Kreisau Circle used its several wartime summits at the von Moltkes' home to map out the democratic Germany they thought would follow the collapse of Nazism. Few in the group lived to see the end of the war, the others having been rounded up and killed.

"Our husbands died, but it was surely worth it," Mrs. von Moltke told the Daily Telegraph in 2004. "These men were acting on behalf of humanity."

Freya Deichmann was born March 11, 1911, to a prosperous banking family in Cologne. She was 18 when she met the man who would become her husband, a descendant of one of Bismarck's chief military strategists. They were married within a few years. Mrs. von Moltke received a doctorate in law from Humboldt University in Berlin but never practiced law, as the young couple soon moved to Silesia.

Her husband went alone back to Berlin, where he advocated in his capacity as an international lawyer for better treatment of prisoners taken by the German army. Before the war, he offered his expertise to Jewish families trying to use legal means to salvage what they could of belongings confiscated by the government and helped them leave the country.

All the while, Mrs. von Moltke was his loyal and savvy accomplice. She collected his letters, later published in a book, and hid them in the estate's beehives, which she said even S.S. officers would be afraid to search.

"The letters were dynamite," said her son, Helmuth Caspar von Moltke of Hanover, N.H. "They were very dangerous . . . for my parents, but also for any people named in them. . . . She decided that [the beehive] was the best place to keep them."

In 1989, the estate was the site of a Mass for the reconciliation of Germany and Poland, a cause Mrs. von Moltke enthusiastically supported. Today the property houses a foundation for European understanding.

After the war, the widowed Mrs. von Moltke went with her two sons to Switzerland and then to Cape Town, South Africa, where some of her husband's family had lived. There she was a social worker for the handicapped but left almost a decade later because of her anger at the racist policies of the apartheid government.

In 1960 Mrs. von Moltke moved to the United States to be closer to Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, a philosopher whom she had known in Germany and who had fled when the Nazis came to power. In the 1980s, she became a U.S. citizen.

In addition to her son, survivors include six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Another son, Konrad von Moltke, died in 2005.

In an interview for the 1993 book "Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich" by Alison Owings, Mrs. von Moltke spoke about her relationship with her husband.

"Some marriages are made in heaven," she said. "I certainly had such a marriage. . . . When one has such a wonderful thing, it doesn't last. It was a gigantic gift. Then there was nothing."

Mrs. von Moltke told Owings, who visited the elderly woman twice at her Vermont home, that every morning she ate a bowl of porridge and then sat in a straight-backed chair to think for an hour. She said that not a day passed when she didn't remember her late husband.




Medal of Honor recipient Col. Robert L. Howard dies at 70
T. Rees Shapiro


Saturday, January 23, 2010; B04

Robert L. Howard, 70, one of the Vietnam War's most highly decorated servicemen who received the Medal of Honor for leading fellow soldiers out of an ambush and fending off more than 250 troops during a two-day siege deep in enemy territory, died Dec. 23 of pancreatic cancer at a hospice in Waco, Tex. He had been living in the San Antonio area since retiring from the Army in 1992 at the rank of colonel.

In addition to the Medal of Honor -- the military's highest award for valor -- Col. Howard received two awards of the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Defense Superior Service Medal, four awards of the Legion of Merit, four Bronze Star Medals and eight Purple Hearts.

Col. Howard, an Army Green Beret, served five tours in Vietnam. During one 13-month period, he was nominated for the Medal of Honor for three separate acts of heroism.

In December 1968, then-Sgt. 1st Class Howard was part of a platoon tasked with going into North Vietnam in search of a fellow Green Beret whose rescue beacon reported him missing in action. While leading the patrol, Sgt. Howard and his lieutenant were blown back by an anti-personnel mine that signaled a 250-man ambush on their platoon. The blast knocked Sgt. Howard unconscious, and the shrapnel wounded his hands and destroyed his rifle.

When he came to, Sgt. Howard smelled the stench of burning flesh as a North Vietnamese soldier was using a flamethrower to torch the bodies of the American and South Vietnamese casualties, as Peter Collier wrote in "Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty."

As Collier described it, Sgt. Howard lobbed a grenade in the direction of the North Vietnamese soldier and made his way toward his lieutenant, who had been badly injured in the melee.

While he was administering aid to the wounded officer, a bullet struck Sgt. Howard's ammunition pouch, detonating several magazines and knocking him back. After regaining his composure, the badly injured sergeant moved back to the lieutenant and began dragging him toward the remaining Special Forces soldiers, shooting several North Vietnamese troops along the way.

Sgt. Howard took charge of the battered platoon and helped organize the overpowered and outnumbered troops into defensive emplacements along a ravine. Sgt. Howard crawled from position to position, resupplying his men with ammunition and directing fire toward the encircling enemy while radioing in fire support from airborne gunships.

After two days of constant firefights with North Vietnamese troops, the stranded platoon was evacuated by U.S. helicopters. Ensuring that all of his men had made it on to the choppers, Sgt. Howard climbed aboard and was the last man to leave the battlefield, according to his Medal of Honor citation.

As a result of his actions, Sgt. Howard received a direct appointment to officer status as a first lieutenant. President Richard M. Nixon presented him with the Medal of Honor in 1971.

Robert Lewis Howard was born July 11, 1939, in Opelika, Ala. He enlisted in the Army in 1956 and joined the 101st Airborne Division.

In 1965, during his first tour of duty in Vietnam, he was wounded by a bullet that ricocheted and glanced his face. While recuperating in a hospital, he was recruited by a Special Forces soldier to join the Green Berets.

He received a bachelor's degree in police administration from Texas Christian University in 1973 and received two master's degrees from Central Michigan University, one in management in 1980 and the other in public administration in 1981.

After retiring from the military, he worked at the Department of Veterans Affairs as a liaison to other veterans. He frequently made trips around the country and abroad to battle zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan to speak with troops about his experiences. From 2007 to 2009, he was president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

Col. Howard's marriages to Tina Dickinson and Rona Redfern ended in divorce.

Survivors include two daughters from his first marriage, Melissa Gentsch of Waco and Denicia Howard of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; two children from his second marriage, Army Sgt. Robert L. Howard Jr. of Fort Bragg, N.C., and Roslyn Howard of Hawaii; and four grandchildren.





Miep Gies was the last link to Anne Frank, and her loss is tough for many women
Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer


Wednesday, January 13, 2010; C01

The girls who loved Anne Frank loved her in a deep and abiding way, in a way that bordered on obsession and felt both bleak and wise. She was their first introduction to the terribleness of the world, and the beauty, and to sad endings that are also hopeful and true.

Miep Gies died on Monday, and another chapter in Anne Frank's legacy has ended.

"I read ["The Diary of Anne Frank"] in fourth grade," remembers Krista Francis, a human resources director in Kensington. "It was the first grown-up book that I read," back in the 1970s. "She was feisty, and I was feisty, and she loved to write, and I loved to write." Thirty years later, Francis remembers the experience. Most of Anne's fans remember their first experience and the ways it changed them.

"It was my parents' book -- black, hardback, without a picture," remembers author Sandi Wisenberg, who first read the book in 1964 and whose deep fixation with Anne Frank would ultimately lead her to write her own memoir, called "Holocaust Girls." Prompted by Anne's hiding, "I had an escape bag -- a little plastic overnight bag -- and I kept it near my bed." One night the air conditioning went out in her family's Houston home, and she lay in her dark, hot bedroom, listening in terror to every noise that came through the open windows. "I thought," she says, "that it was the Nazis."

The girls who loved Anne Frank wanted to understand what she went through, in whatever small ways they could. They were prone to melancholy and morbidity; they couldn't believe the atrocities that had happened in their parents' or grandparents' lifetimes.

My own fixation came early and stayed late. In high school I begged my father to take me to Germany, to a conference he was attending where the keynote speaker was Gies, one of the women who protected the Frank family during their two years of hiding in the annex of an Amsterdam spice factory. I don't remember much of what she said. I just remember thinking that she knew Anne Frank, and that we were in the same room.

The Austrian-born Gies never became what you might consider a household name, but a historical footnote for what she did more than six decades ago -- bringing the eight residents of the annex supplies during their hiding, and rescuing Anne's diary when the Franks were discovered and sent to concentration camps in 1944. She was the last living protector; other annex helpers died long ago. Her passing represented the loss of the only connection that Anne had to the present world, and that her fans, in turn, had to her. As years passed, and the Holocaust became something that happened a generation ago, then two, then three, Gies alone was our tie.

"Anne Frank and Miep Gies have in them the entire range of human behavior," says Francine Prose, author of the recent "Anne Frank: the Book, the Life, the Afterlife." "You have the unbelievable evil that was going on just outside of the attic, and then you have Anne and Miep exemplifying the greatest decency and courage and humanity that could possibly exist."

In researching her book, Prose was repeatedly surprised by the depth of feeling that people felt for Anne, for how personal they viewed the relationship to be.

"I was in sixth grade, and my language arts teacher did a quarter-long project on the Holocaust," remembers Melanie Karlins, a 20-something who works for George Mason University. "I stole the book. I didn't give it back to the library. I read it over and over again, every six months, all the way through high school."

In the beginning she read it for the story of Anne, for her schoolgirl concerns about boys and parents and homework. As Karlins got older, she realized that she no longer identified with the Frank sisters, but with their protectors, who were confronted daily with choices of self-preservation vs. altruism and fear vs. bravery. Gies "was the last remaining person who was part of the story, and she was such a big part of the story," Karlins says.

"People who read the diary understand that she was an average, normal person with limited means," says Sara Bloomfeld, the director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. "And in an extraordinary moment she did what she felt was the right thing."

As the girls who loved Anne Frank grew up, they became women who loved Miep Gies, and who hoped that they would do what she did, if ever they were asked to.




Jasper Schuringa subdued alleged terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Northwest Airlines 253
Soraya Roberts
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Originally Published:Saturday, December 26th 2009, 9:21 AM
Updated: Saturday, December 26th 2009, 10:41 PM

The passenger who tackled a suspected terrorist on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 said Saturday that he's "happy" to be alive.

Jasper Schuringa, a video director and producer from Amsterdam, told CNN how he helped the cabin crew to subdue Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old who reportedly ignited a small explosive device on board the plane Friday as it prepared to land in Detroit.

Schuringa said he heard a sound that reminded him of a firecracker and someone yelling, "Fire! Fire!"

But he was only certain something was wrong when he saw smoke. He saw Abdulmutallab's pants open and he was holding a burning object between his legs.

"I pulled the object from him and tried to extinguish the fire with my hands and threw it away," Schuringa said.

He said he then screamed for water and pulled Abdulmutallab out of his seat and dragged him to the front of the plane.

Schuringa told CNN that Abdulmutallab seemed out of it and "was staring into nothing."

To ensure the suspect did not have other explosives on his body, Schuringa stripped off Abdulmutallab's clothes. He then handcuffed the alleged attacker with the help of a crew member.

Schuringa said the other passengers applauded as he returned to his seat and that he sustained minor injuries during the take down.

"My hands are pretty burned. I am fine," he said. "I am shaken up. I am happy to be here."

Federal law enforcement and airline security sources say Abdulmutallab was immediately taken into custody following the incident and treated for second- and third-degree burns on his thighs.

CNN reports that the Nigerian suspect, a student at University College London, is 'talking a lot' to the FBI.

The Transportation Security Administration said in a statement that the plane and its baggage were screened after the incident. Security sources told CNN that remains of the device were sent for analysis to an FBI explosives lab in Quantico, Virginia.

Law enforcement and airline security sources also told CNN that no other suspicious materials were found and that the suspect only had carry-on luggage.

Passengers on board the flight were interviewed by law enforcement before leaving the airport.

Abdulmutallab flew on a KLM flight from Lagos, Nigeria, to Amsterdam and is reportedly not on a "no fly" list, though he is on a U.S. database of people with suspected terrorist connections.

Although there is no evidence that he is a trained member of Al Qaeda, the Nigerian national reportedly claimed a link to extremists. A federal security document obtained by CNN further revealed that his explosive device "was acquired in Yemen along with instructions as to when it should be used."






Passengers subdued man with satchels on Dulles-Vegas flight
Avis Thomas-Lester and Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writers

Monday, January 25, 2010; B01

Earl W. Stafford said he had just awakened from a nap in first class of United Airlines Flight 223 Saturday night when a large man holding two satchels came down the aisle from the coach section.

First, the man tried to open the cockpit door, Stafford said. Then, Stafford said, he began to shake the handle of the airplane's front exit door.

Stafford jumped up from his aisle seat.

It was the key moment in the drama that unfolded with startling suddenness high in the sky as the jetliner, carrying 129 passengers and a crew of five, headed toward Las Vegas from Dulles International Airport.

"I grabbed him from behind and spun him around," said Stafford, 61, an entrepreneur who lives in Centreville.

"I yelled: 'I need help! Somebody get the bags!' My fear was that he was going to try to detonate an explosive."

Ultimately, the airplane interrupted its flight to land safely in Denver, where authorities took over. But it was the passengers who intervened to protect themselves and their fellows.

The response appeared to stem at least in part from heightened sensitivity to threats, such as that posed by the man who allegedly tried to detonate explosives aboard a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas.

Four other passengers also gave accounts of the flurry of action in the cabin.

Art Thomm of Martinsburg, W.Va., said he had spotted the man earlier and said he had seemed to be staring into space. "He looked crazy," Thomm said.

When Thomm heard the commotion at the front of the plane, he ran up the aisle to help.

He said the man pushed back against Stafford and "threw [Stafford] off him."

As soon as he did, Thomm said, "I hit him and tackled" him.

"He was crazy," Thomm said. "He started asking me if I knew who I was messing with." But Thomm said he had the man around the neck and held on.

Passenger Barry Eynon of Coopersburg, Pa., was seated across the aisle from Stafford. When Stafford yelled for help, Eynon said, he pitched in, grabbing the man and helping to subdue him.

Stafford's seatmate, Washington lawyer Thomas A. Hart, headed to Las Vegas with him on business, also joined in, taking one of the man's bags and tossing it out of reach as others came to help.

Sergei Sandou, 41, of Las Vegas said he twisted the man's arms behind his back and held them there as other passengers strapped him into a seat with a seat belt.

FBI officials said Sunday that they had released the man, whom they did not identify, pending a psychiatric evaluation. Authorities said they do not think he is a terrorist.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said it is almost impossible to open the door while the cabin is pressurized.

Stafford, who organized the People's Inaugural celebration in Washington last year, was headed to a convention of television executives to promote a public-service announcement that his charitable foundation produced last week, encouraging voluntarism.

Stafford was "the man of the hour," Eynon said.

"I'm just thankful that everybody is okay," Stafford said.

Staff Writer Matt Zapotosky also contributed to this report.





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