Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2018

A Soldier's Story: Private Cathay Williams - Civil War, Western Frontier - Veteran

Private Cathay Williams was born enslaved during the month of September 1844 in Independence Missouri.

She worked as a house slave for the Johnson Plantation near Jefferson City Missouri.

The Union considered enslaved persons "contraband" and regularly impressed them into service. When Jefferson City came under Union control, she was "confiscated" and assigned to the 8th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment, traveling with them as a seamstress and cook.

On November 15, 1866, she disguised herself as a man and enlisted into the U.S. Army as William Cathay and was assigned to the 38th Infantry Regiment (known as the Buffalo Soldiers) and stationed in New Mexico.  Catching smallpox shortly after enlistment, she struggled with her health but kept her secret for almost 2 years before her gender was discovered by the post doctor.  She was discharged on October 14, 1868.

Private Cathay Williams remained in the Southwest, supporting herself as a seamstress and cook.

Her he…

A Soldier's Story: Captain Bertha Dworsky - WWII - POW - Veteran

Captain Bertha Dworksy was born on December 31, 1910. 

Trained as a nurse, she enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to Manila.

After Manila fell, she was taken to the internment camp at Santo Tomas where she remained a prisoner of war for 36 months before being released in 1945.

She died on February 24, 1992, and rests in Sunnyvale California.

A Soldier's Story: Corporal James Arness - WWII - Veteran

Born James King Aurness on May 26, 1923, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

After his high school graduation in 1942, Corporal Arness wanted to be a Naval Aviator, but at 6'7" was too tall.  Instead, he accepted his draft into the U.S. Army, where he trained as a rifleman and was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division.

Corporal Arness landed with U.S. Forces during the Battle of Anzio on January 22, 1944, where he was severely wounded in the right leg.  After several surgeries and months of hospitalization, he was honorably discharged in January 1945.

After his service, Corporal Arness attended Beloit College and worked as a radio announcer for WLOL before hitchhiking to Hollywood.

After appearing in several Westerns, John Wayne recommended him for the crew of Gunsmoke and the role of Matt Dillion. His role in Gunsmoke would last for more than 20 years.  Corporal Arness also wrote an autobiography, James Arness, An Autobiography.

He died on June 3, 2011, and rests in the Forest Lawn…

A Soldier's Story: Major General Harry W. Brooks - Korea, Vietnam - Veteran

Major General Harry W. Brooks was born on May 17, 1928, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

A graduate of Crispus Attucks High School, General Brooks was also active in ROTC during high school and after his graduation, enlisted in the U.S. Army.

While advancing up the ranks (he had originally enlisted as a Private) he also earned a Bachelors degree from the University of Nebraska and a Masters degree from the University of Oklahoma.

Major General Harry W Brooks's career, like that of General Fox Conner, is noted for his mentorship. Major General Brooks took many soldiers, including Collin Powell, under his wing, and, while the commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division, ordered more than 10,000 soldiers to return to school to finish their educations.

General Brooks also co-authored The Gathering Storm: An Analysis of Racial Instability Within the Army.

After his retirement in 1976, General Brooks focused on corporate achievement.  His company, Advanced Consumer Marketing Corp was not…

A Soldier's Story: Lieutenant Francis Scott Fitzgerald - WWI - Veteran

Born on September 24, 1896, in St. Paul Minnesota, Francis Scott Fitzgerald was named after his distant relative, Francis Scott Key.

Lieutenant Fitzgerald spent his very early childhood in Buffalo New York and then returned to St. Paul. 

Educated largely by private Catholic academies, he went on to Princeton University, writing for The Princeton Triangle Club, the Nassau Lit, and the Princeton Tiger before dropping out in 1917 to join the U.S. Army.

Lieutenant Fitzgerald trained at Fort Leavenworth under General Eisenhower, although the two were never good friends.  He wrote his first novel, The Romantic Egotist during this period, although it was rejected by publishers.

After training, he was stationed at Camp Sheridan in Montgomery Alabama, where he military career resembled that of Anthony Patch's in The Beautiful and the Damned.  He was released from service in 1918 when the war ended.

He re-wrote The Romantic Egotist, renaming it This Side of Paradise, launching Lieutenant F…

A Marine's Story: Private Alden Curtis Mattison - WWII - Killed in Action

Private Alden Curtis Mattison was born in Blair, Wisconsin, on April 22, 1921.

Enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps as a rifleman, he was assigned to the 2nd Raider Battalion, the U.S. Marines light infantry amphibious unit created during WWII.

Captured during the raid on Makin Island,  he was executed on October 16, 1942.  Private Mattison was never recovered.

He is memorialized in the Court of the Missing, Honolulu HI.

*Also see - Corporal Joseph N. Gifford

A Soldier's Story: Brigadier General Sereno Elmer Brett - Career Soldier - Veteran

General Sereno Elmer Brett was born on October 31, 1891, in Portland, Oregon.  He attended Oregon State University, graduating in 1916.   He then enlisted in the U.S. Army.

His first deployment was with the 3rd Infantry Regiment during the Pancho Villa Expedition. 

After that deployment, General Brett focused on armored vehicle warfare,  leading a tank battalion during WWI with the Western Front Tank Corp, and led the attack at the Battle of Saint Mihiel in September of 1918.

Between the wars, General Brett worked with General Patton and General Eisenhower to evaluate and optimize tank warfare.  He was also the Chief of Staff of the Armored Division in Fort Knox. 

During WWII he was on staff in the 5th Armored Division as it prepared for the European Theater.  General Brett retired from the U.S. Army in October of 1943. He dies on September 9, 1952, in Santa Barbara California, and rests in Arlington Cemetery.

General Brett's reports, diaries, and memorandums were donated to the …

A Soldier's Story: Colonel Myles Anderson Paige - WWI / WWII - Veteran

Colonel Myles Anderson Paige was born on July 18, 1898, in Montgomery Alabama. 

A member of the 15th New York National Guard, he deployed with the 369th Infantry to France, where, the regiment earned the nickname the "Harlem Hellfighters" and spent a total of whopping 191 days on the front line -more than any other unit.

He attended Howard University, where he played football and after graduation entered Columbia Law School while also working as an assistant librarian.

He passed the New York State bar in 1925.  Colonel Myles Anderson Paige began working with the Attorney General of New York, before being appointed to the Magistrates Court and then, in 1939 he was appointed to the Court of Special Sessions, becoming the first American of African descent to be appointed as a criminal court judge in New York.

Colonel Myles Anderson Paige returned to active duty during WWII, assigned to a command post with the Third Separate Battalion.  He retired from military life in 1945.


A Soldier's Story: Sergeant First Class William Maud Bryant - Vietnam - KIA - CMOH

Born on February 16, 1933, in Cochran Georgia, Sergeant First Class William Maud Bryant moved to Detroit Michigan prior to enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1953.

Sergeant Bryant chose to participate in the rigorous training of the newly formed Special Forces and was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group.

On March 24, 1969, Sergeant Bryant earned a Congressional Medal of Honor.  While assigned to the Long Khanh province in Vietnam, his patrol came under fire and during the next 36 hours was in active combat.  Under fire, he scouted the perimeter, retrieved fallen ammunition and assisted with the wounded.  His service during this time was said to be an inspiration to his team.  Sergeant First Class William M. Bryant did not survive the fight.  He rests in the Raleigh National Cemetery.

A Soldier's Story: Colonel Clarence Austin Orndorff - WWI - WWII - Veteran

Born on May 17, 1894, in Spokane Washington, Colonel Clarence Austin Orndorff, graduate of Gonzaga University, served with the U.S. Army through WWI, afterward, he joined the Washington State National Guard.

Maintaining a civilian life as a lawyer, Colonel Orndorff also maintained a National Guard career until 1945, including a deployment to Guadalcanal during WWII, where he was injured.

Colonel Orndorff also served as the Commanding officer of the 95th Regiment JRTC.

Dying on January 11, 1971, he rests in Holy Cross Cemetery in Spokane Washington.

A Soldier's Story: Sergeant Robert Colodny - WWII - Veteran

Born on August 5, 1915, in Phoenix, Arizona, Sergeant Robert G. Colodny, an avid scholar and idealist, enlisted in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and sailed to the Spanish Civil War on February 20. 1937.

Severely wounded after being shot in the forehead, Sergeant Colodny left Spain partially paralyzed and blind in his left eye by March 1938.

Despite his health issues, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and in 1941 was assigned to Army Intelligence and stationed in the Aleutian Islands.  There, with Sergeant Dashiell Hammett wrote the newsletter The Adakian, and co-authored The Battle of the Aleutians.

After the war, he returned to Berkeley to get a doctorate in History and Philosophy and in 1959 joined the faculty at the University of Pittsburg.

In 1961, under the paranoia of McCarthyism, Sergeant Colodny was brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee after accusations of Communist sympathies.  He was completely cleared of all charges and continued to teach until his retirement…

A Sailor's Story: Commander William F. Eadie - WWII - MIA - KIA

William F. Eadie was born on July 25, 1913, in Chicago, Illinois.

Enlisting in the U.S. Navy, he was a Kingfisher pilot who once scouted the survivors (including Captain Eddie Rickenbacker) of a B17, which had wrecked in the ocean three weeks prior.  Commander Eadie had loaded the survivors onto the wings of the plane and taxied to the nearest base.

Unfortunately, on January 8, 1945, his Kingfisher went missing.

Commander William F. Eadie is memorialized in The Courts of the Missing, in Honolulu HI.  There was also a Chicago area airfield, Eadie Field, named in his honor, although it has since been converted to a park.

A Soldier's Story: Lieutenant Helen Cassiani Nestor - WWII - POW - Veteran

Born on January 27, 1917, Bridgewater Massachusetts native Lieutenant Helen Cassiani Nestor joined the U.S. Army nurses corps and was assigned to the Sternberg General Hospital in Manila, Philippines.

Captured with the other nurses after the fall of Corregidor, she was held in the Santo Tomas Internment Camp until the end of the war.  Like the other 78 nurses, she will forever be known as one of the "Angels of Bataan and Corregidor".

After the war, she returned to Bridgewater Massachusettes, got married and raised a family.  She died on November 25, 2002, and rests in St. Thomas Aquinas Cemetary in Bridgewater Massachusetts.

A Soldier's Story: Lieutenant Jack C. Montgomery - WWII - Veteran

Born on July 23, 1917, in Long Oklahoma, Lieutenant Montgomery was a graduate of the Chilocco Indian Agricultural School (Lieutenant Montgomery was a member of the Cherokee Native American Tribe)

He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1937 and during WWII was deployed to Italy.  There, Lieutenant Montgomery earned a Congressional Medal Of Honor by single-handedly attacking (and taking) enemy positions, armed with an M1 rifle, a carbine, and some grenades. He was seriously wounded during this firefight

He returned to his home in Oklahoma shortly after and died on June 11, 2002.  He rests in the Fort Gibson National Cemetery.

An Airman's Story: Major Reed McKinley Chambers - WWI - Veteran

Born on August 18, 1894, Major Reed McKinley Chambers left his home in Onaga, Kansas young and enlisted in the Tennesse National Guard.

He served through the Mexican Expedition and then transferred to the Army Signal Corps (U.S. Airforce precursor) and was assigned to the 94th Aero Pursuit Squadron.  He is credited with seven victories.

His post-war project, Florida Airways, (with partner Eddie Rickenbacker) went bankrupt due to damages suffered because of a hurricane.  As insurance for aircraft did not exist at that time, there was no way to recoup the losses.

Major Chambers next project, the founding of the United States Aircraft Insurance Group (with David Beebe) created the aircraft insurance industry.

He died in St Tomas, US Virgin Islands on January 16, 1972.

A Marine's Story: Private First Class James Anderson Jr. - Vietnam - Killed in Action

Born on August 22, 1947, in Los Angeles, California. PFC James Anderson Jr had attended the Los Angeles Harbor College for a little more than a year before deciding to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Deploying to Vietnam in December of 1966, Private First Class James Anderson Jr. earned a Congressional Medal of Honor on February 28, 1967, when he smothered a grenade with his body during Operation Prairie.

He rests at the Lincoln Memorial Park in Carson, California.

A Marine's Story: Major Tyrone Edmund Power III - WWII - Veteran

Born on May 5, 1914, in Cincinnati Ohio, Major Tyrone Edmund Power III was raised amongst a well-known family of actors.

After his high school graduation from Purcell High School in 1931, he began acting on stage, with small parts, and as an extra until transitioning to Hollywood in 1936.

Major Powers earned almost instant fame after his role in Lloyds of London.  His acting legend was cemented after his role in the Mark of Zorro.

Major Powers enlisted in the U.S. Marines during WWII, and, because of his prior pilot experience, was able to easily earn his wings.  Considered too old for combat flying, Major Powers was assigned to the Marine Transport Squadron, flying supplies in and wounded out through the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  Although he left active service, Major Power continued to serve through the U.S. Marine Corps reserve.

He returned to acting and filmmaking in 1946, keeping a fairly active schedule, dying surprisingly young, of a heart attack while filming Solomon …

A Marine's Story: Master Sergeant Eric Roy England - Vietnam - Veteran

Born on April 15, 1933, in Blairsville, Georgia, Master Sergeant Eric Roy England joined the Marine Corps early, at the age of 17.

An avid shooter, he trained hard, winning national competitions in long-range shooting, including the Leech cup.

Deployed to Vietnam, Master Sergeant Eric England would go down in history as one of the top snipers of the war, with 98 confirmed shots.

He also served as a weapons tactic instructor. 

Retiring from the Marine Corp in 1974, he returned to the Appalachians of his youth, spending his time hunting, fishing and watching NASCAR.

He died on April 7, 2018, and rests in Arlington Cemetery.

A Soldier's Story: Master Sergeant Woodrow W. Keeble - WWII - Korea - Veteran

Born on May 16, 1917, in Waubay South Dakota, Master Sergeant Woodrow W. Keeble, a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Native American tribe, was an avid baseball player who was being scouted by the Chicago White Socks.

He was also a member of the North Dakota National Guard's 164th Infantry regiment and was deployed twice into combat, once during WWII, participating in the Battle of Guadalcanal, and once, during Korea, earning a Congressional Medal of Honor during the fight for Hill 675-770.  The injuries he sustained in that fight retired him from combat.

In both cases, his throwing arm was put to good use and Master Sergeant Woodrow W. Keeble was well known for his grenade use. 

He taught at the Wahpeton Indian School between his combat deployments and after his military retirement. 

Master Sergeant Woodrow W. Keeble died on January 28, 1982, after a long struggle with tuberculosis.