Friday, May 25, 2018

Captain Thor E. Hamrin

Born circa 1920 in California, Captain Thor E. Hamrin originally dreamed of becoming an actor.

Instead, he enlisted on November 6, 1941, to the U.S. Airforce. 

Assigned to the 431st Bomber Squadron, 11th Bomber group - also known as the "Grey Geese".

Flying B-24J #42-73018 - I believe the plane was named "Captain and the Kid", however, I have also seen records of him as the captain of a plane named "JITA" (for Jab in the Ass) - Captain Thor E. Hamrin and his crew were last seen going down in flames approximately 12 miles off the coast of Truk, Philippines on July 28, 1944.  He is remembered on the Tablet of the Missing, located at the Manila American Cemetry.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Master Sergeant Roy P. Benavidez

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Born Raul Perez Benavidez on August 5, 1935, in Lindenau, Texas.  His parents both died while he was young from tuberculosis (His father when he was two, his mother when he was seven) and he was raised with his younger brother in El Campo, Texas by his grandfather, uncle, and aunt.

Dropping out of school early, he worked shining shoes, as a farm hand, and as a tire repairman to help support his family.

He enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard in 1952, converting to active U.S. Army in 1955, completing airborne and special forces training at Fort Bragg. 

Master Sergeant Benavidez deployed to South Vietnam in 1965 as an advisor to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam.  During that tour, he stepped on a landmine. Told he would never walk again, he spent a year in the hospital, training at night, in secret, until he walked out of the hospital and returned to active duty. He returned to South Vietnam in January 1968.

He earned a Congressional Medal of Honor on May 2, 1968, when, during a helicopter rescue of a surrounded patrol (in which the helicopter crashed), Master Sergeant Benavidez spent the next "six hours in hell" as he defended his position and rendered aid.  He was so hurt (seven gunshots, 28 shrapnel holes, and bayonet stab wounds) that he was mistaken for dead until he spit into the doctors face as they were zipping up his body bag.

Master Sergeant Benavidez spent another year in the hospital recovering before returning to active duty.

He retired from the U.S. Army in 1976, where he lectured youth and authored three books.  He died on November 29, 1998. 

Hasbro has made a GI Joe commemorative action figure in his honor.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Lt. Commander Laura M. Cobb

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Lt. Commander Laura M. Cobb was born on May 11, 1892, in Atchison, Kansas.  She was raised in Mulvane, Kansas, graduating from Mulvane High School in 1910.

She entered the nurses training program at Wesley Hospital in Wichita, Kansas, graduating in 1918.

Lt. Commanders first enlistment in the U.S. Navy took place July 5, 1918, where she worked in stateside hospitals until July 21, 1921, when she left the Navy and worked as a civilian nurse until April 1924, when she rejoined the Navy.

Lt Commander Cobb was stationed in Guam during the typhoon of November 1940 that damaged nearly every structure on the island and it is noted in her military file how hard she worked during the disaster.

Transferred to the Philipines on February 1941 as the chief nurse of the Canacao Naval Hospital in Manila.  When the Cavite Naval Yards was attacked, she and 10 other nurses remained behind with the wounded.  After the surrender on January 2, 1942, she and the other nurses were sent to the Santo Tomas camp, where they were joined by  U.S. Army nurses after the Battle of Corregidor. 

In May 1943, Lt Commander Cobb and the Naval nurses established Los Banos, where they worked twelve-hour shifts and saw over 200 patients each day.  Known here as the sacred 11, they, like all other prisoners survived on a meager diet of 900 calories or less a day. They were liberated during the raid at Los Banos on February 23, 1945. 

Lt Commander Cobb retired from the U.S. Navy in 1947, working as a nurse in Los Angeles until 1974 when she retired to Wichita, Kansas, dying in September. 1981.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Colonel Hamilton Stuyvesant Fish III

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Colonel Hamilton Stuyvesant Fish III was born on December 7, 1888, in Garrison, New York.

From a wealthy family, his education was mostly private boarding schools, including the Swiss academy Chateau de Lancy.  Colonel Fish graduated from St. Mark's Academy in 1906.

Colonel Fish was a natural athlete, playing soccer and football.  At 6'4" he was accepted onto the Harvard Football team during his college years.  He was twice on the all American team.


Graduating from Harvard in 1909 with a degree in history and government, Colonel Fish initially started Harvard Law School before leaving to work for an insurance company in New York City.  He was elected as a member of the New York State Assembly 1914-1916.

Colonel Fish was also a member of the NY National Guard and commanded (as a captain) K Company of the 15th NY Infantry (the famous "Harlem Hellfighters"), and mustered with them to the 369th Infantry.  His unit spent a whopping 191 days in the trenches, where he was elevated to the rank of major before leaving the regular army on May 14, 1919.  He remained with the NY National Guard until 1940, during which time he obtained the rank of colonel.

Colonel Fish was elected into the US House of Representatives where he served from November 2, 1920, until January 3, 1945, where he introduced the resolution 67 on December 21, 1920, which provided for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington.

After his time in Congress, he wrote five books, including FDR: The Other Side of the Coin and Hamilton Fish: Memoir of a Patriot.  In 1958 he also founded the Order of Lafayette.

He died on January 18, 1991 - at 102 years of age, in Cold Springs, New York.   He lived long enough to see a fully integrated military, which had always been one of his strongest causes.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Sergeant Henry Johnson

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Sergeant Henry Johnson was believed to be born on July 15, 1892 in Tallahassee, FL.  He made his way North, to New York City and worked as a recap porter.  He enlisted in on July 15, 1917 into the New York National Guard, 15th Infantry Regiment


Ultimately mustered into the 369th Infantry division that came to be known as the "Harlem Hellfighters"  they were "loaned" to France 161st division by General Pershing.

On May 14, 1918, while on guard duty at outpost 20 in the Argonne Forest, Sergeant Henry Johnson came under attack by a raiding party of approximately 24 enemy soldiers.  Sergeant Henry Johnson earned the name "Black Death" that day by completely winning the confrontation using grenades, rifle butt, bolo knife and fists. He survived with more than 21 wounds.  His story was told in a Saturday Evening Post article called "Young Black Joe".

After his enlistment, he briefly joined a lecture tour, but, after he spilled the beans on the racism in the trenches, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Sergeant Johnson aquired tuberculosis and died on July 1 1929.  Teddy Roosevelt Jr., of the American Legion has called him one of the five bravest Americans in WW1.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

First Lieutenant John R. Fox

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Born on May 18, 1915, in Cincinnati, Ohio. John Fox was an academic, attending Wilburforce University and participated in the ROTC program at the school.

After college, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1940 and was assigned to the 92nd Infantry Division as a forward observer.

On December 26, 1944, the Italian village he was at (Sommocolonia) was over ran by German soldiers.  Lieutenant Fox earned a medal of honor for directing artillery fire on his position after he was overrun.  His actions allowed allied forces to retake the village.

In addition to winning the Congressional Medal of Honor,  Hasbro toy company has made a GI Joe commemorative action figure in his honor.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Corporal Freddie Stowers

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Corporal Freddie Stowers was born on January 12, 1894 in Sandy Springs, South Carolina. 

He spent his youth working as a farm hand before being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1917.

Corporal Stowers was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 371 Infantry Regiment which were assigned to the French Army's 157th "Red Hand"division. 

During the assault on Cote 88, his unit, while being mowed down, kept attacking.  Eventually, he and his unit took the hill near Ardeuilet Mont Fauxelles.  He was killed in this action, dying on September 28, 1918.  He is buried in Ardeuiel-et-Montfauxelles Ardennes France.