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Showing posts from October, 2018

A Marine's Story: Sergeant Robert V. Allard

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Sergeant Robert V. Allard was born on November 7, 1919, in New York, New York.

He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and completed the additional training to become a Marine Raider and was assigned to the Pacific during WWII.

On August 18, 1942, during the raid on Makin Island, he and nine other Marines helping with the evacuation were captured and after a few months in captivity, Sergeant Robert V. Allard was executed on October 16, 1942.  He was never recovered and is memorialized on the Tablet of the Missing in Honolulu Hawaii.


*See also  Private Alden Curtis MattisonSergeant Dallas Henry CookPrivate John Irvin Kerns, and Corporal Joseph N. Gifford

A Soldier's Story: 2nd Lieutenant Noble Lee Sissle

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2nd Lieutenant Noble Lee Sissle was born on January 10, 1889, in Indianapolis Indiana.  He was always a talented musician who sang in church choirs and was a soloist for Central High School's Glee club (his family briefly lived in Cleveland Ohio).

Scouted by James Reese Europe to form a band in 1916, Lieutenant Sissle was already on hand to help James Reese Europe organize the New York 369th Infantry military band.

Deploying to France, in May 1918 and fighting under France's 16th Division,  the "Harlem Hellfighters" spent 191 days in combat.

They also brought Jazz to France.

After the war, Lieutenant Sissle returned to the civilian Europe band, briefly holding it together with Eubie Blake after James Europe's murder.

Eubie Blake and Lieutenant Sissle would continue to collaborate over the years, writing hit songs and performances, including the songs for Josephine Baker's "Shuffle Along" and "Chocolate Dandies".

Lieutenant Sissle also hel…

A Soldier's Story: Lieutenant Ruppert Leon Sargent

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Lieutenant Ruppert Leon Sargent was born on January 6, 1938, in Hampton Virginia.  After graduation from Virginia State University, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in January 1959.

Lieutenant Sargent graduated Officers Candidate School on October 15, 1965, and in 1967, deployed to Vietnam with the 9th Infantry Regiment.

On March 15, 1967, during an investigation of Viet Cong activity and the after the discovery of a tunnel, Lieutenant Ruppert Leon Sargent earned a Congressional Medal of Honor, when Viet Cong soldiers lobbed two grenades from the tunnel into the middle of the platoon.  Lieutenant Sargent smothered the grenades and protected his team.

He rests at the Hampton National Cemetery in Hampton Virginia.

A Soldier's Story: Private Kurt Vonnegut

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Private Kurt Vonnegut was born on November 11, 1922, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

While attending high school at Shortridge High School he also played clarinet and was a co-editor for the school's newspaper.

After graduation, he enrolled in Cornell University, with a biochemistry major, but by May 1943 he had left school, enlisted in the U.S. Army and trained as a scout.

Sadly, prior to his deployment, his mother committed suicide.

He was assigned to the 106th Infantry Division, during the Battle of the Bulge, his unit was overrun and on December 22, 1944, was taken as a  prisoner and sent to a camp outside Dresden. The prisoners worked and lived in an old slaughterhouse, which, when Dresden was firebombed on February 13, 1945, prisoner casualties were light, as they had been forced to work underground in the meat lockers.

Freed by Red Army Troops after General Patton captured Leipzig, he was repatriated and after discharge, took advantage of his GI bill by attending the University …

A Soldier's Story: Major General Charles Calvin Rogers

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Major General Charles Calvin Rogers was born on September 6, 1929, in Claremont, West Virginia.

He began his U.S. Army career through the ROTC program at West Virginia State University, graduating in 1952.

Assigned to artillery units throughout Korea and Vietnam, Major General Rogers earned the Congressional Medal of Honor on November 6, 1968, while commanding the 1st Battalion fire support base near the Fishhook region of Vietnam.

The post had come under heavy attack, a Major General Rogers continued to rally the Battalion and leading attacks, despite being wounded.

After recovery, he was assigned to the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for military operations.  He also continued his education, attending the U.S. Army War College and earning a Master's degree from Shippensburg State College.

By 1971 he was assigned as the assistant deputy commander of V Corps artillery, then as commanding officer of 42nd Field Artillery Group. He then was assigned the commanding general post …

A Soldier's Story: Colonel Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

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Colonel Theodore Roosevelt Jr was born on October 27, 1858, in New York City, New York.  While young he had health issues, including severe asthma, which he conquered when he began hiking in the Alps in 1869.   After learning the benefits of exercise, Colonel Roosevelt was an avid fitness buff for the rest of his life.

Another lifelong love of Colonel Roosevelt was zoology and at seven, he began, with cousins, a natural history museum featuring animals he had found or trapped and taxidermied. He also wrote, "The Natural History of Insects" at age nine.

He was educated mostly at home until he entered Harvard in September of 1876. Graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1880 he also participated in rowing, boxing, Alpha Delta Phi Literary Society, the Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, the Harvard Advocate, and was a member of the Porcellian Club.

After Harvard, he began law school at Columbia University, but, when he was nominated for state assembly, he became more interested in politics …

U.S. Battles: The Battle of Guantanamo Bay - Spanish-American War

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After the Spanish American War was declared on April 21, 1898, it was decided to secure Guantanamo Bay, as Caimanera, Cuba, was an important port for Spain.

On June 6, 1898, the USS Marblehead, the USS St. Louis, and the USS Yankee entered Guantanamo Bay at dawn and cleared the Spanish Forces from the blockhouse on McCalla Hill. Although the Spanish ships Alvarado and Sandoval tried to intercept, they were outgunned by the USS Marblehead.  The telegraph cable linking Fisherman's Point to the rest of Cuba and to Haiti was severed at this time.

On June 10, 1898, the First Battalion of the Marine Corps arrived from Key West Florida, landing at Fisherman's Point and began to occupy McCalla Hill, rechristening it Camp McCalla.

Camp McCalla was poorly positioned, the ground surrounding it was hilly and covered with thorny brush and cactus. Another issue was the forward posts, they were too far forward and couldn't communicate with each other or the main post.

While unloading su…

An Airman's Story: Sergeant John G. MacIntosh Jr.

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Sergeant John G MacIntosh Jr grew up in Ohio, working as a stock clerk before joining the U.S. Army Air Services in July 1941.

He trained as a turret gunner and was assigned to the B-24 Liberator Unit, 431st Bomber Squadron, 11th Bomber Group, in the Pacific.

While flying on #42-73018 (I believe it was named "Captain and The Kid") an unknown event disabled the plane, which was last seen off the coast of Truk, the Philippines on July 28, 1944.

Sergeant John G Macintosh Jr is memorialized on the Tablet of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial.

*Also see Captain Thor E Hamrin

A Soldier's Story: Private Needham Roberts

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Private Needham Roberts was born on April 28, 1901, in Trenton, New Jersey.

He enlisted into the US Army and was assigned to the 369th Infantry, also known as the "Harlem Hellfighters" and deployed to France.

On May 14, 1918, while on guard duty in Argonne Forest with Sergeant Henry Johnson he assisted in fighting off a 24 man enemy patrol.   The attack left him severely wounded and permanently disabled.

After the war he toured, giving lectures about his service and radio interviews during WWII to encourage Americans of African descent to enlist.

He died on April 18, 1949, and rests in Fairmount Cemetery in Newark, New Jersey.

A Marine's Story: Sergeant Rodney Maxwell Davis

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Sergeant Rodney Maxell Davis was born on April 7, 1961, in Macon, Georgia.

After graduation from Peter G. Appling High School in May 1961, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and assigned to the 2nd Marine Division as a rifleman.

He remained at Camp Lejune until 1964, when he was assigned to the Marine detachment to Naval activities in London, England, until 1967 when he was assigned to the 1st Marine Division and deployed to Vietnam.

Sergeant Rodney Maxwell Davis earned a Congressional Medal of Honor during Operation Swift, in the Quang Nam Province, during a firefight on September 6, 1967, Sergeant Davis smothered a grenade with his body.  His wounds were fatal.

He rests at Linwood Cemetery in Macon Georgia.

An Airman's Story: Colonel Jesse Eldred Stay

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Colonel Jesse Eldred Stay was born on July 20, 1921, in Draper, Utah.  He briefly attended college at UCLA, in pre-med, supporting himself while working at the California Furniture Factory, before leaving school to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Forces.

A tall, thin man, he struggled to make the minimum weight requirements (General James Stewart also struggled to make weight), but ultimately managed to.

He was initially assigned to fly B-17's before being reassigned to the B-24 Liberators and sent for a 29-month assignment in the Pacific, in which he flew reconnaissance and bombardment missions, including well-known battles, such as the attack on Wake Island, and Iwo Jima, and remained relatively unscathed.

Colonel Stay remained with the US Air Force post-war, finishing his degree, this time in Industrial Management, at UCLA before being assigned to the Pentagon, first with the Office of the Secretary, then with the Press Office.  Throughout the subsequent years, he was assigned to …

A Marine's Story: Private John Irvin Kerns

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Born on August 9, 1919, U.S. Marine Corps Private John Irvin Kerns grew up in Copperhill, Tennessee.

A Marine Raider, Private Kerns took part in the raid on Makin Island and volunteered to help with the evacuation.  He and nine other Marines were left behind and captured on August 17th and 18th, taken as a prisoner and executed on October 16, 1942.  He was never recovered.

Private John Kerns is memorialized in the Court of the Missing, Honolulu HI.


Private Alden Curtis MattisonSergeant Dallas Henry Cook and Corporal Joseph N. Gifford also took part in the Raid on Makin Island.


A Sailor's Story: Commander Ernest E. Evans

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Commander Ernest E. Evans was born on August 13, 1908, in Pawnee, Oklahoma.  After his graduation from Musegee's Central High School in 1926, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

In June 1927 he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and graduated with the class of 1931.

Initially assigned to the Naval Air Station in San Diego, California, he then began to work up the ranks on ships.

He was assigned to the destroyer Alden which was patrolling the East Indies during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and in March of 1942 assumed command of the Alden.

In 1943, Commander Evans was given command of the new destroyer, the Johnston, which successfully engaged in a submarine encounter before assigned to accompany the task force engaged in the Battle of Samar, where he earned a Congressional Medal of Honor during the confrontation for his command and his continual engagement of the enemy.  Ultimately the Johnson was sunk and Commander Evans was never recovered. He is memorialized at the …

An Airman's Story: Brigadier General James Maitland Stewart

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Brigadier General James Maitland Stewart was born on May 20, 1908, in Indiana, Pennsylvania.

He attended Mercersburg Acadamy, where he played football and was a high jumper on the track team.  He also participated in the choir, glee club, the John Marshall Literary Society, and was the art editor of the yearbook. His hobbies included making model airplanes, drawing, and chemistry.  He was an avid fan of Charles Lindberg.

General Stewart then began his collegiate career at Princeton, majoring in architecture but spent much of his time participating in the drama and music clubs, including the Triangle Club, and during the Summer, took part in the University Players, the intercollegiate stock company, which attracted the attention of MGM.

General Stewart obtained a contract in 1935 and after a slow start, became a well-known actor in many films including Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The Philadelphia Story.  During this period he also learned to fly, earning a private pilot license i…

An Airman's Story: Lieutenant Colonel Charles Herman Older

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Lieutenant Colonel Charles Herman Older was born on September 29, 1917, in Hanford, California.

After graduating from the University of California in 1939 he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps as an aviator before transferring to the American Volunteer Group, better known as "The Flying Tigers" and traveled to China to aid in the Second Sino-Japanese war.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Flying Tigers disbanded and he was transferred to the Army Air Forces, fighting in the China-Burma Theater.

He remained with the U.S. Air Force Reserve after WWII, attending law school at the University of Southern California, and redeployed to Korea.

After graduation, Lieutenant Colonel Older worked as a lawyer until he was appointed to the bench by Governor Regan, where he served as a judge for 20 years and many trials, including the Charles Manson trial.

He died on June 17, 2006.

A Soldier's Story: Sergeant First Class Webster Anderson

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Sergeant First Class Webster Anderson was born on July 15, 1933, in Winnsboro, South Carolina.

Enlisting in the US Army in 1953, he was assigned to the 101st Airborne and deployed to Korea.

Remaining in the Army after his Korean deployment, Sergeant Anderson was deployed to Vietnam.

Near Tam Ky, Sergeant Anderson earned a Congressional Medal of Honor when his unit came under attack.  He, under fire, climbed onto the parapet of a Howitzer, directing fire, while simultaneously returning fire with a rifle and grenades. He maintained his defensive fire, even when he was struck in the legs with the shrapnel of two grenades, a third grenade exploded in his hand as he tried to throw it back.

Despite the severity of his wounds, he survived, although he lost both legs and one arm.

Retiring from service in 1968, he returned to his home in Winnsboro, South Carolina where he lived until his death on August 30, 2003.

Sergeant First Class Webster Anderson rests in the Blackjack Baptist Church Ceme…

A Soldier's Story: Colonel Olveta Culp Hobby

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Born on January 19, 1905, in Killeen, Texas, Colonel Olveta Culp Hobby had a largely informal legal education through Mary Hardin Baylor College, South Texas College and University of Texas.

She began working as a parliamentarian for the Texas House of Representatives before joining the staff of the Houston Post in 1931.

During WWII, she became the director of the newly created Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, which was created to fulfill the non-combat roles left vacant after the fighting commenced.  Colonel Hobby created the enlistment standards and code of conduct and was instrumental in getting women service members equal access to military benefits and pensions.  She returned to civilian life and her career at the Houston Post after the war.

She became the first female secretary under President Eisenhower, appointed to head the Department of Health and Human Services on April 11. 1953.  Her legacy includes the approval of the polio vaccine.

In 1955 she resigned as secretary, re…

An Airman's Story: Captain Charles Fredrick Pratte Jr.

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Captain Charles Fredrick Pratte Jr. was born on March 29, 1915, in Fall River, Massachusetts.  He and his family relocated to Warren, Rhode Island, where, in 1937 he began attending Rhode Island State College and participated in ROTC.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force on April 8, 1941, and after training, was assigned to the 42nd Bombardment Squad and stationed at Hickam Field, Hawaii.

An accomplished pilot, he participated in the Battle of Midway and provided air support during the US Navy's Guadalcanal and North Solomon Campaigns.  He was also part of the offensive of the Gilbert and Marshall Islands.

In March 1944, while piloting the B-24 "Belle of Texas" he was attacked and the plane severely damaged.  Captain Pratte, having to make an emergency landing, had his crew tie parachutes to the gun mounts to provide enough drag to compensate for the damaged brakes, bringing the plane down safely.  The "Belle of Texas" was repaired and renamed "Patches&…

A Sailor's Story: Vice Admiral Clifton "Ziggy" Albert Frederick Sprague

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Born on January 8, 1896, in Dorchester, Massachusettes, Vice Admiral Clifton Albert Frederick Sprague was a graduate of the Roxbury Latin School.

Accepted into the U.S. Military Academy at Annapolis, where he earned the nickname "Ziggy", he was actually commissioned a year early due to U.S. involvement in WWI and assigned to the gunboat the Wheeling.

Vice Admiral Sprague began training as a Naval Aviator, graduating on August 11, 1921, and served as a test pilot, significantly contributing to the development of the aircraft carrier catapult systems and the MARK1 aircraft arresting system.

Returning to Annapolis, he served as the executive officer squadron VN-8D5 until 1931, when he was assigned to Panama, and then Hawaii. He became the first pilot to fly the 13 hour Hawaii to Midway run, as well as serving as the air operations officer at the Naval Air Station and as air officer of the carrier Yorktown.  In 1940 the Navy sent him to the Naval War College, after which he was…

A Sailor's Story: Ensign Frances Eliza Wills

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Ensign Frances Eliza Wills was born in Philadephia but made her way to New York City early in life to attend Hunter College.

She volunteered for the U.S. Navy in November of 1944, attending the Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School at Smith College.

Upon graduation, she, along with Lieutenant Harriet Pickens, became the first woman Naval officer of African descent. She was assigned to teach naval history and to administer classification tests.

After her discharge, she wrote a book about her experiences called "Navy Blue and Other Colors".  She was also active with the auxiliary of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Ensign Wills died on January 18, 1998.

A Marine's Story: Sergeant Opha May Johnson

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Sergeant Opha May Johnson was born on May 4, 1878, in Kokomo, Indiana.  Moving to Washington DC, she graduated from Wood's Commerical College in 1895.

Sergeant Johnson worked for the Interstate Commerce Commission until 1918 when the U.S. Marine Corps opened enlistment to women.

On August 13, 1918, she was the first woman in line to enlist, thus becoming the first woman to be called a U.S. Marine.

She was assigned to clerical duties at Marine Corp headquarters.

Discharged at the end of the war, she went on to work for the war department, still serving the Marine Corps, until her retirement in 1943.  Sergeant Johnson died on August 11, 1955, and rests in Rock Creek Cemetery.

A Marine's Story: Major General Wendell Cushing Neville

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On May 12, 1870, in Portsmouth, Virginia, Major General Wendell Cushing Neville was born.
He entered into the military academy at Annapolis in 1886, graduating in 1890, beginning a military career that would span almost 40 years, many of them in combat roles.
While still a cadet, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion during the Spanish American War and took part in the Naval attack on Guantanamo Bay.  From there, Major General Neville was transferred to China, for the Boxer Rebellion.
After his China post, he was then assigned to the Philippines, Cuba, Nicaragua, Panama, and finally Hawaii before taking part in the Occupation of Veracruz, where he commanded the 2nd Advance base and earned a Congressional Medal of Honor on April 21, 1914, during the Veracruz Intervention.  He returned to China in 1915 to command the Allied Guard.
During January of 1918, Major General Wendell Neville was assigned the command of the 5th Regiment, stationed in France, and he coordinated the taking of Hill…

A Soldier's Story: Captain Riley L. Pitts

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Born on October 15, 1937, in Fallis, Oklahoma, Captain Riley L. Pitts attended Witicha State University and graduated with a degree in journalism.

He worked briefly with the Boeing Corporation before joining the U.S. Army.

Captain Pitts initially was an information officer but transferred to a combat role and was assigned to the 27th Infantry Regiment, where he commanded C Company.

Captain Pitts earned a Congressional Medal of Honor on October 31, 1967, while assisting another company under fire. Leading an assault on enemy positions, he completely disregarded his own safety in his attack, once throwing himself on a rebounded grenade (it failed to explode), and maintain continuous fire throughout, until he succumbed to wounds.

Captain Pitts is the first American officer of African descent to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.

He rests in Hillcrest Memorial Gardens, Spencer, Oklahoma.


A Sailor's Story: Officer Payton Jordan

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The U.S. Naval officer Payton Jordan was born on March 19, 1918, in Whittier, California.

A highly talented athlete, he attended Pasadena High School and the University of Southern California where he was a member of both the football and the track teams and in 1939 was the captain of the Collegiate Champion team.

Although an Olympic hopeful, WWII canceled the games and Officer Jordan instead joined the U.S. Navy.

After his service, he became the coach at Occidental College and then Stanford University.   His coaching ability was notable and his athletes were consistently high performers.  In 1968 Payton Jordan coached the U.S. Olympic team who famously won 24 medals and set six world records.

In 1972 Payton Jordan began to compete again in the USA Track and Field Master's division.  During his second running career, he set two world records and two American records.

Payton Jordan has been inducted into the USA National Track and Field Hall of Fame and the USATF Master's Hall…

A Soldier's Story: Corporal Tobias William Frazier

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Corporal Tobias William Frazier was born in Sulphur, Oklahoma in 1892.

A football player, he played for Armstrong Academy until his graduation in 1917.

Enlisting in the U.S. Army during WWI, he was assigned to the 36th Division, where Corporal Frazier and other soldiers from the Choctaw Native American Tribe used their native language to confound enemy listeners.  Their actions helped break the Hindenberg Line.

After the war, Corporal Frazier returned to his native Oklahoma, nursing a wounded leg.

He died in 1975 and rests in Rattan, Oklahoma.

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