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Showing posts from May, 2018

A Soldier's Story: Private First Class Ben Carterby - WWI - Veteran

PFC Ben Carterby was born on December 11, 1891,  in Ida, Oklahoma, which is part of the Choctaw Nation. 

He attended Dwight Training School before his enlistment in World War I.  Assigned to the 141st Infantry, he became one of the Choctaw code talkers.  The unit was the first to use a Native American language to transmit messages.

It is important to note that Native Americans were not given U.S. Citizenship until 1924, and fought this war regardless.

PFC Ben Carterby returned to his native Oklahoma after the war, dying on February 6, 1953.

See Also:

Captain Charles Walter Vetch

Corporal Peter Maytubby

Corporal Tobias William Frazier

Corporal Solomon Bond Louis

Private First Class Ben Carterby

Private First Class Joseph Oklahombi

Private Joseph Harvey Davenport

An Airman's Story: Sergeant Herman Lester Scearce Jr. - WWII - Veteran

Born on May 22,1925 in Danville, Virginia, Sergeant Herman Scearce, growing up in an area hard hit by the depression, lied about his age and enlisted in the U.S. Airforce.

Sergeant Scearce was trained as a radio operator and gunner, and he was assigned to fly with the "Grey Geese" B-24 Liberators in the Pacific Theater.

Flying on the plane "Dog Patch Express" - his team participated in the first bombing runs on the Island of Nauru.

A thorough history of the B-24's can be found in "Finish Forty and Home: The Untold WWII Story of B-24's in the Pacific" written by Sergeant Scearce's son. Philip Scearce.

Sergeant Scearce remained in the U.S. Airforce until his retirement in December of 1962.  He embarked on a second career as County Magistrate until 2005.  He died on March 26, 2015.

An Airman's Story: Captain Thor E. Hamrin - WWII - Missing in Action

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.

A Soldier's Story: Master Sergeant Roy P. Benavidez - Korea, Vietnam - Veteran

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 Sailor's Story: Lt. Commander Laura M. Cobb - WWII - Veteran

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 c…

A Soldier's Story: Colonel Hamilton Stuyvesant Fish III - WWI - Veteran

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…

A Soldier's Story: Sergeant Henry Johnson - WWI - Veteran

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 redcap 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 ra…

A Sailor's Story: First Lieutenant John R. Fox - WWII - Killed in Action

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 overrun by enemy 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.

A Soldier's Story: Corporal Freddie Stowers - WWI - Killed in Action

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 was 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.

A Soldier's Story: Sergeant Edward A. Carter Jr. - WWII - Veteran

Sergeant Edward A. Carter was born on May 26, 1916 in Los Angeles, California.

As the son of missionaries, he grew up in India and China, and learned four languages English, Mandarin, Hindi and German.

His first brush with combat was in 1932, at the age of 15 when he joined the Chinese Nationalist Army during the Shanghai Incident, during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Sergeant Carter's next combat enlistment was with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade,  a group of American volunteers that supported the Spanish loyalists during the Spanish Civil war.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army and while assigned to the 56th Armored Infantry Battalion's 12th Armored Division Sergeant Carter earned a Congressional Medal of Honor when, after his tank was disabled, he, armed with a bazooka and having five wounds, still managed to kill six enemy soldiers and took two hostage.

Sadly, he was denied re-enlistment in 1949 because he was a suspected communist (due to his serving with the Chinese army at 15).

A Sailor's then Solider's Story: Master Sergeant George H. Wanton - Spanish American War - Veteran

Born on May 15, 1866, George H. Wanton was born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey.

Sgt. Wanton joined the U.S. Navy in 1884 and served for four years before joining the U.S. Army in 1889.

He was assigned to Troop M of the 10th Cavalry Regiment during the Battle of Tayacoba of the Spanish American war and earned a Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions during the rescue of a landing party (with Dennis BellWilliam Thompkins, and Fritz Lee).  Sgt. Wanton also attempted to retrieve the body of Captain Manuel Nunez, but the operation was considered too unsafe.

In November of 1921, he served as an honorary pallbearer for the Unknown Soldier and finished the rest of his career as quartermaster. retiring from service in 1925.

Sgt. Wanton died on November 27, 1940 and is buried at Arlington

A Soldier's Story: 1st Lieutenant Vernon Baker - Korea, WWII - Veteran

Vernon Baker was born on December 17, 1919, in the rugged Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Entering the U.S. Army on June 26, 1941, he was assigned to the 92nd Infantry and deployed to Italy, where he earned a Congressional Medal of Honor for his action near Viareggio when he single-handedly eliminated three machine-gun nests, an outpost and a dug out.

Lt. Baker remained in the Army, as a career soldier, serving through the Korean War and retiring in 1968.

He spent his retirement working for the Red Cross and hunting, with elk hunting being a particular favorite.  He died July 13, 2010, in St. Maries, Idaho.

A Soldier's Story: Sergeant William H. Thompkins - Spanish American War - Veteran

On October 3, 1872, the world welcomed Sergeant William H. Thompkins into the world.

From Paterson, New Jersey, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, becoming a career soldier.

During the Spanish American War's Battle of Tayacoba, while aboard the USS Florida, he participated in the rescue of a landing party under fire.

Sergeant Thompkins spent the rest of his career stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco, CA,  dying on September 24, 1916.

A Sailor's Story: Fireman 1st Class Robert Penn - Spanish American War - Veteran

Born October 10, 1872, in City Point Virginia, Robert Penn was raised in an agricultural community and worked as a field hand prior to enlisting in the U.S. Navy.

Fireman Robert Penn served aboard the USS Iowa during the bombardment of San Juan, Puerto Rico and the blockage of Santiago de Cuba.  He was the only African-American sailor aboard the USS Iowa at the time.

He earned a Congressional Medal of Honor when a boiler malfunctioned and blew out a manhole gasket.  He repaired the boiler by balancing on wood and coal buckets above the boiling water, saving his fellow sailors and rescuing the USS Iowa.  After leaving the U.S. Navy, he moved to Las Animas, Colorado.  Robert Penn died June 8, 1912.

A Soldier's Story: Corporal Dennis Bell - Spanish American War - Veteran

Corporal Dennis Bell was an unlikely hero.

Born on December 28, 1866, in the Washington D.C. area, he joined the U.S. Army Calvary and was assigned to the 10th Calvary Division.

Stricken with malaria, he was confined to the USS Florida to recuperate, when, during the Battle of Taya Coba, Corporal Dennis Bell went ashore, under fire, to rescue others.

He remained in the U.S. Army until 1906 and continued in government service until his retirement.  He was an active Mason and died September 28, 1953, at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital in Washington DC.  He is buried in Arlington Cemetery.