Military service of Actor:
Sgt George Reeves
US Army Air Force
View his Service Profile on TogetherWeServed.com at http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/profile/197573
Short Bio: In 1943, Reeves landed his first starring role in the box office hit So Proudly We Hail!, in which he played a wounded World War II soldier who falls in love with costar Claudette Colbert.
Shortly after the film’s release, Reeves put his career on hold to enlist in the army. Joining the Special Theatrical Unit of the U.S. Army Air Force, he appeared in several training films.
The first thoughts that come to mind when one thinks about World War II Marines is them landing on bloody beaches and fighting in steamy jungles of the Pacific. But this was not the role of Marine Pierre Julien Ortiz, who served in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. His exploits and dare-devil attitude were things of fiction yet they were all real.
He was an American and a Frenchman with a Spanish name and he lived in remarkable times and did remarkable things. His life was a series of rousing adventures that were the basis for several Hollywood screenplays. He was a ship’s mate, a race car driver, a decorated French Foreign Legionnaire with two awards of the Croix de Guerre, a World War II Marine officer with two Navy Crosses and two Purple Hearts, a member of the covert Office of Strategic Services and captured by the Germans only to escape and three years later be captured again – and he was a Hollywood movie actor. He spoke five languages including French, German and Arabic.
On February 1, 1932, at the age of 19, he joined the French Foreign Legion for five years’ service in North Africa in Morocco. Within three years he was a sergeant. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre twice during a campaign against the Rif. When his contract expired, he went to Hollywood to serve as a technical adviser for war films.
With the outbreak of World War II and the United States still neutral, he re-enlisted in the Legion in 1939 as a sergeant. He was wounded in action and imprisoned by the Germans during the 1940 Battle of France. He escaped the following year and made his way to the United States.
He joined the Marines in June 1942. As a result of his training and experience, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant after only 40 days. He was promoted to captain in December and, with his knowledge of the region, sent to Tangier, Morocco. He conducted reconnaissance behind enemy lines in Tunisia for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). During a night mission, Ortiz was seriously wounded in an encounter with a German patrol and was sent back to the United States to recover.
In January 1944, he parachuted into the Haute-Savoie region of German-occupied France as part of the three-man “Union” mission with Colonel Pierre Fourcaud of the French secret service and Captain Thackwaite from SIS to evaluate the capabilities of the Resistance in the Alpine region. He drove four downed RAF pilots to the border of neutral Spain before leaving France with his team.
Promoted to major, Ortiz parachuted back into France on August 1, 1944, this time as the commander of the “Union II” mission. He was captured by the Germans on August 16 and spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner of war. He was the most highly decorated member of the OSS.
In April 1954, he volunteered to return to active duty to serve as a Marine observer in Indochina. The Marine Corps did not accept his request because “current military policies” will not permit the assignment requested. He rose to the rank of colonel in the Marine Reserve.
After the war, Ortiz worked with director John Ford, a former member of the OSS himself. Two movies were produced depicting the exploits of Ortiz: ’13 Rue Madeleine’ with James Cagney (1947) and ‘Operation Secret’ with Cornel Wilde (1952).Ortiz also had parts in such films as ‘The Outcast,’ ‘Wings of Eagles’ and ‘Rio Grande’ in which he played Captain St. Jacques. He also played the part of Major Knott in the film, ‘Retreat Hell,’ a movie about the Marines at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in during the Korean War in 1950. According to his son, Marine Lieutenant Colonel Peter J. Ortiz, Jr., “My father was an awful actor but he had great fun appearing in movie.”
Ortiz died of cancer on May 16, 1988, at the age of 74, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He was survived by his wife Jean and their son Peter J. Ortiz, Jr.
Ortiz’s decorations included two Navy Crosses, the Legion of Merit, the Order of the British Empire, and five Croix de Guerre. He also was made a Chevalier of the Legion d’honneur by the French.
In August 1994, Centron, France held a ceremony in which the town center was renamed “Place Colonel Peter Ortiz.” This event was attended by many former members of the local maquis unit in the region, as well as the Marine contingent and Mrs. Ortiz and her son.
View the service history of Actor:
PhM2c Harry Carey, Jr.
View his shadow box on TogetherWeServed http://navy.togetherweserved.com/profile/606485
Short Bio: During World War II, Carey enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and he served in the Pacific Theater first as a Navy medical corpsman. However, he was transferred back to the United States (against his wishes) to serve in the “Field Photographic Reserve” under his father’s good friend, the director John Ford.
Since the beginning of warfare military leaders knew their greatest chance of winning on the battlefield is to know where the enemy is, how great in strength and what they were planning to do. It was certainly no different with Vietnam commanders. To gain useable and timely intelligence on local enemy forces, Vietnam infantry commanders created “unauthorized” or off the book reconnaissance units to penetrated deep into enemy-held territory. So successful were these forays by these small, well-armed Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols (LRRPs) that General William Westmoreland approved the formation of a LRRP unit in each infantry brigade or division.
But there was one reconnaissance unit operating in Vietnam several years before LLRP units existed. It was Project Delta, a clandestine special reconnaissance operations considered the most successful Special Operation units of the Vietnam War, yet few Americans have ever heard of them, or know that this unit’s operational model was precursor for the renowned Delta Force.
Established at Nha Trang in 1964 the mission of Project Delta (officially designated Detachment B-52) was to conduct special reconnaissance missions throughout Vietnam when ordered by COMUSMACV and the Vietnamese Joint Central Staff. Mission orders generally followed requests for assistance by division or larger commands. Project Delta would then fall under operational control (OPCON) of the requesting unit.
Missions were as many as they were varied including operational and strategic reconnaissance into long held Vietcong areas to collect intelligence for tactical or strategic exploitation, direct air strikes on normally inaccessible targets or when a heavy concentration of an enemy was spotted, conducting BDA (Bomb Damage Assessment) in enemy controlled areas, inserting hunter-killer missions at night using helicopter borne personnel with sniper scopes and Starlight scopes, recovering allied POW’s and downed airmen, capturing enemy for intelligence exploitation, tap into wires on enemy communications lines, plant mines on transportation routes, mislead enemy counterintelligence by using deceptive missions, mock ordnance devices, and dummy infiltrations, and conducting photo reconnaissance and psychological operations. The operations were near known enemy base areas and infiltration routes in the border areas. These operations remained classified until 1996.
While the operational strength of B-52 varied and fluctuated during its history, typically it was comprised of 11 officers and 82 enlisted men from the U.S. Army Special Forces, a 105 man CIDG (Civilian Irregular Defense Group) Nung Security Company responsible for compound and TCC security, a Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) team consisting of four US and 24 CIDG 20 officers and 78 enlisted men from the Vietnamese Special Forces, a 123 man CIDG Roadrunner Company and the 81st Airborne Ranger Battalion (RVN) made up of 43 officers and 763 enlisted men. The 81st Airborne Ranger Battalion was the reactionary force for Project Delta. With the dire need for additional troops in Saigon during Tet 1968, the Airborne Ranger Battalion fought in Cholon and in the jungles northeast of Saigon.
In most cases elements of the 281st AHC were attached OPCON for aviation support. Additionally U.S. Air Force personnel were assigned as Forward Air Controllers as well as Australian SAS and South Korea Special Forces personal.
The Recon Teams (combined USASF and VNSF) and Roadrunner Teams (VNSF equipped with enemy uniforms, accouterments and weapons) were the primary source of intelligence collection for Project Delta. Insertion of these Teams for infiltration was accomplished in a covert manner by helicopter with techniques developed initially by the 145th AVN PLT and Project DELTA and refined by the 281st AHC.
Extraction or exfiltration was accomplished in much the same manner as the insertion. After the Team was identified by means of pre-designated codes the recovery operation proceeded. Depending on the terrain, weather, extent of wounds and enemy situation, the Team may be extracted with ladders, McGuire Rigs or Electric Hoist. In later years the McGuire Rigs were refined into the STABO Rig. If the LZ was hot and the Team was in contact, the Team was usually extracted with the McGuire or STABO and flown to a secured area to be recovered into the aircraft.
During its history, Project Delta identified 68 enemy units, captured vast amounts of equipment and supplies and identified many major enemy installations and supply routes. Enemy losses attributed to B-52 during its operations include 338 KIA, 25 WIA and 69 POWs. Operating in even combat tactical zone in Vietnam, it was OPCON to the 25th Infantry Division, 1st Cavalry Division, 101st Airborne Division, 4th Infantry Division, 3rd Marine Division, and the 5th ARVN Division as well as Company A, 5th Special Forces Group.
After conducting 55-60 separate operations, Project Delta ceased operations on June 30, 1970. Never numbering more than 100 officers and enlisted men at any one time, it would become the most highly decorated unit of its size in the Vietnam War.Among the many decorations Detachment B-52 soldiers received were two Distinguished Service Crosses, 18 Silver Stars, 58 Bronze Stars with “V” devices and 53 Purple Hearts. Project Delta was also the second most highly decorated unit in the conflict with the Valorous Unit Award, the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, the Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal with Palm, and the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon.
Twenty nine former members of Project Delta are listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.
View the Military Service of Baseball Legend
2LT Jackie Robinson
Shadow Box: http://army.togetherweserved.com/profile/355353
Short Bio: Hall of Fame Major League Baseball Player, Social Reformer. Famed baseball player and civil rights advocate who became the first African-American to play in modern major league baseball.
An event on July 6, 1944, derailed Robinson’s military career. While awaiting results of hospital tests on the ankle he had injured in junior college, Robinson boarded an Army bus with a fellow officer’s wife; although the Army had commissioned its own unsegregated bus line, the bus driver ordered Robinson to move to the back of the bus. Robinson refused. The driver backed down, but after reaching the end of the line, summoned the military police, who took Robinson into custody. When Robinson later confronted the investigating duty officer about racist questioning by the officer and his assistant, the officer recommended Robinson be court-martialed. After Robinson’s commander in the 761st, Paul L. Bates, refused to authorize the legal action, Robinson was summarily transferred to the 758th Battalion where the commander quickly consented to charge Robinson with multiple offenses, including, among other charges, public drunkenness, even though Robinson did not drink. By the time of the court-martial in August 1944, the charges against Robinson had been reduced to two counts of insubordination during questioning. Robinson was acquitted by an all-white panel of nine officers. The experiences Robinson was subjected to during the court proceedings would be remembered when he later joined MLB and was subjected to racist attacks. Although his former unit, the 761st Tank Battalion, became the first black tank unit to see combat in World War II, Robinson’s court-martial proceedings prohibited him from being deployed overseas, thus he never saw combat action. After his acquittal, he was transferred to Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, where he served as a coach for army athletics until receiving an honorable discharge in November 1944.
It was an absolutely beautiful late summer morning across the northeast United States. A day of sunny, clear skies and comfortable temperatures with people routinely going about their daily business. In airports all along the east coast, passengers and crews were boarding aircraft for destination all over the world. Among them were four heading to California airports; three on their way to Los Angeles International Airport and a fourth destined for San Francisco International Airport. It was Tuesday, September 11, 2001, two weeks before the end of summer and the beginning of fall.
For 213 passengers and 34 crew members aboard the four aircraft, everything seemed routine with none suspecting what was about to happen. Nor were they aware that the other 19 passengers scattered among the four aircraft were radicalized Islamic terrorists from Saudi Arabia and several other Arab nations determined on punishing America for it’s support of Israel and its continued military presence in the Middle East.
American Airlines Flight 11 departed Boston’s Logan Airport at 7:59 A.M. en route to Los Angeles with a crew of eleven and 81 passengers, including five terrorists. Around thirty minutes into the flight, the five hijackers breached the cockpit, taking control of the plane and by 8:45 A.M., crashed it into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The 20,000 gallons of jet fuel reacted like a bomb, exploding on impact, leaving a gaping, burning hole near the 80th floor of the 110-story skyscraper, instantly killing hundreds of people and trapping hundreds more in higher floors.
As the evacuation of the tower got underway, local television crews raced to the scene and began broadcasting live images of what they thought was an accident of unknown origin. At ground level and in other Lower Manhattan buildings, people stopped what they had been doing and watched in horror, speculating among themselves on what had happened. Eighteen minutes later, United Airlines Flight 175, also out of Boston, with a crew of nine and 56 passengers, including five hijackers, appeared out of the sky, turned sharply and directly toward the World Trade Center and tore into the south tower near the 60th floor, exploding on impact. It was 9:03 A.M. This was the only impact seen live on television around the world as it happened.
Within two hours, the Twin Towers collapsed into a massive heap of twisted steel, broken glass, fiberglass, asbestos, and pulverized cement, creating thick dust over the entire area, including ten surrounding buildings. That cancer causing dust would later prove to be fatal to many of those who worked, lived, or studied in Lower Manhattan at the time of the attack from “exposure to toxins at “Ground Zero.” Many first responders are among them.
A third aircraft, American Airlines Flight 77, departed Washington Dulles International Airport at 8:20 A.M. en route to Los Angeles with a crew of six and 58 passengers, including five hijackers. Less than 35 minutes into the flight, the terrorists stormed the cockpit. Panicked passengers secretly made phone calls to loved ones informing them of their situation. At 9:37 A.M., the hijackers crashed the aircraft into the western side of the Pentagon. News sources began reporting on the incident within minutes. The impact severely damaged an area of the Pentagon and by 10:10 A.M.., a portion of the Pentagon collapsed, smothered in fire. Firefighters spent days trying to fully extinguish the blaze. Because the Pentagon was headquarters for the United States Department of Defense, it symbolized U.S. military power. A total of 125 military personnel and civilians were killed as well as the 64 people on the plane.
The fourth California-bound plane, United Flight 93, with 37 passengers, including four terrorists, and a crew of seven, was seized about 45 minutes after leaving New Jersey’s Newark International Airport. Because the plane had been delayed in taking off, passengers on board learned of events in New York and Washington via cell phone. Knowing they too were on a doomed plane, a group of brave passengers and flight attendants decided to fight back against their hijackers, informing several people on the ground of their plans. Many passengers called their loved ones saying their final goodbyes if the attempt to wrestle back the control of the plane was not successful. During the struggle, the plane flipped over and sped toward the ground at upwards of 500 miles per hour, crashing in a rural field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 10:03 A.M. All 45 people aboard were killed. Its intended target is not known, but theories include the White House, the U.S. Capitol, or one of several nuclear power plants along the eastern seaboard.
On a day of unthinkable horror and needless deaths, there was also countless acts of heroism shown by thousands of firefighters, police, paramedics, co-workers and fellow citizen doing everything possible to save lives and give aid and comfort to the survivors. Among them was Rick Rescorla, a man some say predicted the attack.
Cyril Richard “Rick” Rescorla was born in Cornwall, on the southwest tip of England, in 1939. From an early age it was obvious Rick was a natural athlete who liked physical challenges. He was an avid boxer, rugby star and set a high school record in the shot put. With little interest in book-learning, his need for jeopardy and adventure got the best of him and in 1957, at the age of 16, he quit school and enlisted in the British Army.
He trained as a paratrooper with The Parachute Regiment and served in military intelligence in Cyprus. At the time, the EOKA-Greek Cypriot nationalist guerrilla organization was actively fighting an insurgency in hopes of ending British rule in Cyprus. Active from 1957 to 1960, the group sabotaged British military installations, ambushed military convoys and patrols, and assassinating British soldiers and local informers.
With the end of that insurgency, he sought out a more adventurous military life, so he then served as a paramilitary police inspector in the Northern Rhodesia Police (now the Zambia Police Service) from 1960 to 1963. Backing South African forces against Communists anti-British forces often lead to brutal, deadly confrontations – an experience that made him a fierce anti-Communist. It was in Rhodesia that he met and created a lifetime friendship with American soldier Daniel J. Hill, who inspired Rescorla to later join the U.S. Army and fight in Vietnam where he could again battle the communists.
On returning to London and civilian life, he joined the Metropolitan Police Service. His tenure at the Met was short-lived and he soon resigned and moved to the United States. Shortly after arriving, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1963. After basic training, he attended Officer Candidate School and airborne training at Fort Benning. Upon graduating, Rescorla was assigned as a platoon leader to Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and experienced one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War – the Battle of Ia Drang.
The battle took place from November 14 to November 18, 1965 in the Ia Drang Valley of the Central Highlands. It was the first major combat between U.S. and North Vietnamese forces. On one side was 1,000 troopers of the U.S. Army 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st and 2nd Battalions, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade and the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade. Facing them was the 2,000 man B3 Field Front Command made up of five regiments from the People’s Army of Vietnam’s 304th Division and Viet Cong guerrillas from the H15 NFL Battalion.
For several days there was fierce, deadly fighting at LZ X-Ray in which the men of the 1st Cavalry suffered many dead and wounded. While there were times it seemed possible the enemy would overrun the U.S. forces, it did not happen. It was the strong leadership, well-rehearsed tactics and heroic efforts on the part of the troopers that prevented that from happening. Equally – if not more importantly – was the heavy artillery and air support that kept the enemy off balance. B-52 bombing around the area was another major deterrent.
As the battle subsided, portions of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, were ordered to move cross-country to LZ Albany, where it was to be picked up by helicopter and moved to a new location. The U.S. unit was moving through the jungle in a long column when the North Vietnamese sprang a massive ambush along the length of the column from all sides. The cavalrymen returned fire, but the Communists were fighting from prepared fighting positions and many of the American leaders had fallen in the initial stages of the ambush.
Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, commanded by Capt. Myron Diduryk, was still at LZ X-Ray when they received orders to relief the Battalion. Rescorla, the sole remaining platoon leader in Bravo Company, led the reinforcements into the Albany perimeter, which was expanded to provide better security. As the wounded at Albany were evacuated that evening, the helicopters received intense ground fire as they landed and took off. The Americans at Albany then settled down for the night waiting for the North Vietnamese to attack, but illumination flares provided by Air Force aircraft made the enemy cautious. By morning, they had withdrawn.
The next day, Friday, November 18, as dawn rose over the battlefield, the Americans began to police up their dead. This task took the better part of the day and the next, as American and NorthVietnamese dead were scattered all over the field of battle. Rescorla described the scene as, “a long, bloody traffic accident in the jungle.” policing the battlefield, Rescorla recovered a large, battered, old French army bugle from a dying NVA soldier.
Both sides suffered heavy casualties; U.S. losses were 237 killed, 258 wounded and four missing. It was estimated that the enemy lost about 1,500 killed. Lt. Col. Harold Moore, commander of 1/7, along with Journalist Joseph Galloway, co-authored the book “We Were Soldiers Once – and Young.” Moore called Rescorla “the best platoon leader I ever saw.” The photo of the solider on the front cover of the book is Rick Rescorla.
After service in Vietnam, Rescorla returned to the U.S., left the Army. The adventurous boy who did not like school then did a complete 360 turnaround and spend years in college. Using his military benefits, he studied creative writing at the University of Oklahoma, eventually earning a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Master of Arts degree in English, and a law degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law. He then packed up his bags, moved to South Carolina, and began teaching criminal justice at the University of South Carolina for three years and published a textbook on the subject.
Rescorla left teaching for higher-paying jobs in corporate security, joining Dean Witter Reynolds at their offices at the World Trade Center in New York City.
Following the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, he became increasingly concerned about the potential for a terrorist attack against the World Trade Center. In 1990, he contact his counterterrorism-trained friend from Rhodesia, Daniel Hill, requesting him to visit the World Trade Center to provide an assessment of the building’s vulnerabilities.
After Hill arrived to the World Trade Center, Rescorla asked him how he would attack the building if he were a terrorist. Hill requested to see the basement, and after the two walked down to the basement parking garage without being stopped by any visible security, Hill pointed to an easily accessible load-bearing column, and said, “This is a soft touch. I’d drive a truck full of explosives in here, walk out, and light it off.” Rescorla reported these findings to the New York Police Department and the New York Port and New Jersey Authority, who owns the site, but received no official response.
Rescorla and Hill decided on writing a detailed report to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, insisting on the need for more security in the parking garage. Their recommendations, which would have been expensive to implement, were ignored again.
Following the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing which killed six people and injured more than 1,000, Rescorla invited Hill back to New York, where he hired him as a security consultant in order to analyze the building’s security. Although no arrests had yet been made in the case, Rescorla suspected that the bomb had been planted by Muslims, probably Palestinians.
Hill let his beard grow and masqueraded as an anti-American Muslim, speaking fluent Arabic and frequented several mosques in New Jersey where he befriended other visitors to the mosques. He concluded that the attack was likely planned by a radical imam at a mosque in New York or New Jersey. Followers of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a radical Muslim cleric based in Brooklyn, were subsequently convicted of the bombing.
The conclusions drawn by both Rescorla and Hill following their meticulous findings on the 1993 bombing, convinced them the World Trade Center was still a target for terrorists and predicted that the next terrorist attack could involve a plane crashing into one of the towers. So strong was his feelings, Rescorla recommended to his Morgan Stanley superiors the company leave their Manhattan office space and setup in New Jersey. However, this recommendation was not followed as the company’s lease at the World Trade Center did not terminate until 2006. At Rescorla’s insistence, all employees, including senior executives, then practiced emergency evacuations every three months.
After Dean Witter merged with Morgan Stanley in 1997, the company eventually occupied twenty-two floors in the South Tower, and several floors in a building nearby. Rescorla’s office was on the forty-fourth floor of the South Tower. Feeling that port authorities failed to act upon his 1990 warnings, he concluded that employees of Morgan Stanley, which was the largest tenant in the World Trade Center, could not rely on first responders in an emergency, and needed to empower themselves through surprise fire drills. He trained employees to meet in the hallway between stairwells and go down the stairs, two by two, to the 44th floor. As was to be expected, Rescorla’s strict approach to these drills put him into conflict with some high-powered executives who resented the interruption to their daily activities, but he nonetheless insisted that these rehearsals were necessary to train the employees in the event of an actual emergency. He timed employees with a stopwatch when they moved too slowly and lectured them on fire emergency basics.
At 8:46 A.M. on the morning of September 11, 2001, Rescorla heard the explosion when American Airlines Flight 11 struck World Trade Center’s North Tower. He ran to his office window on the 44th floor of the South Tower and saw the North Tower in flames; he knew then his prediction had come true. When the Port Authority announcement came over the P.A. system urging people to stay at their desks, Rescorla ignored the announcement, grabbed his bullhorn, walkie-talkie and cell phone, and began systematically ordering Morgan Stanley employees to evacuate, including the 1,000 employees in WTC 5. He directed people down a stairwell from the 44th floor, continuing to calm employees after the building lurched violently following the crash of United Airlines Flight 175 38 floors above him at 9:03 A.M. Even a group of 250 people visiting the offices for a stockbroker training class knew what to do because they had been shown the nearest stairway.
Rescorla had boosted morale among his men in Vietnam by singing Cornish songs from his youth, and now he did the same in the stairwell, singing “Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming, Can’t you see their spear points gleaming? See their warriors’ pennants streaming, to this battlefield. Men of Cornwall stand ye steady, It cannot be ever said ye for the battle were not ready. Stand and never yield!”
Between songs, Rescorla called his wife, telling her, “Stop crying. I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I’ve never been happier. You made my life.”
After successfully evacuating most of Morgan Stanley’s 2,687 employees, he went back into the building. When one of his colleagues told him he too had to evacuate the World Trade Center, Rescorla replied, “As soon as I make sure everyone else is out.” He was last seen on the 10th floor, heading upward, shortly before the South Tower collapsed at 9:59 A.M. His remains were never found. He was declared dead three weeks after the attacks
Rescorla was survived by his wife, Susan, his two children and his three stepdaughters by Susan. Rescorla had requested that he be cremated and have his ashes strewn in his birthplace, Haylee, Cornwall, England. Having revered the eagle as a symbol of both American freedom and Native American mysticism, he had also told Susan that when he died he wanted her to contribute money to an endowment for eagles. Photo of Susan at Rescorla’s memorial in Haylee, Cornwall England
Rescorla’s activities during the September 11 attacks were quickly brought to national attention by the news media, including a detailed account by Michael Greenwald in the October 28, 2001 issue of The Washington Post of Rescorla’s life and “epic death, one of those inspirational hero-tales that have sprouted like wildflowers from the Twin Towers rubble.” A memorial statue of Rescorla at Ft. Benning, Georgia, the Home of the Infantry was unveiled in 2006.
September 11, 2001. A day that we will never forget. A day that will be forever etched in our hearts and minds as a day that changed our country forever. A day that changed the way we view the world and how we go about our daily activities.
Read the service reflections of US Navy Sailor:
Sp(V)1 Barbara Stuvengen
Shadow Box: http://navy.togetherweserved.com/profile/81837
WHAT PERSUADED YOU TO JOIN THE SERVICE?
With the wisdom of age, I firmly believe my Navy connection throughout my lifetime was set in stone the day that little 7-year old girl saw her idolized big brother in the uniform of a United States Sailor. It lay dormant until December 7, 1941 when my 17th birthday dinner was interrupted by radio newscasts from Pearl Harbor. It was still another 3 years before I was able to convince a Navy Recruiter, that I was finally eligible to enlist and follow in my brother’s footsteps. This was against my mother’s wishes, but with my father’s signature, definitely against said brother’s wishes, although he later relented. I entered Boot Camp at Hunter College on February 22, 1945. My own career was brief because of restrictions in those days, but I went on to marry a man who finally retired as a BMC with 43 years of service, a younger son who retired as a BTC after 20 years, an older son, now an EMC who left and then re-enlisted, and an IT2 grandson.
BRIEFLY, WHAT WAS YOUR CAREER PATH IN THE SERVICE?
Because of my “Boston accent” they wouldn’t consider my wishes to be a Control Tower Operator or Link Trainer Instructor, but because of my business experience I was sent right from Hunter to Naval Communications in D.C., where I ultimately became Yeoman to the Legal Assistant to the Chief of Naval Communications. Our enlistment at that time was for “the duration and six months”. By the time my name came up on the list, they were desperate to fill the rate of Specialist V (Flight Orderly), and I extended for a year, went to school at Patuxent River, and was assigned to fly with Naval Air Transport Service between Moffett Field, CA and Honolulu. Between flights I was duty PO on the crew scheduling desk. I was discharged in 1947. When I met my husband in 1956, I re-enlisted in the Reserves and served with him in a unit at Hunter’s Point in San Francisco, until I became pregnant with our first son.
DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS?
During that time period, women in the Navy were never sent into combat. I do, however, feel I had a part in it by serving as a crew member on the “hospital flights” when we brought back wounded men being transferred to hospitals in the States. I also count two reminders of how dangerous our lives were when the crew I assigned to one flight died in a crash shortly after leaving Moffett, since the Flight Orderly was one of my Shipmates in FO training. The second one was the return flight from Honolulu when we lost one engine and nearly the second one after passing the “no return” point. Obviously, we made it back safely, but it was a scary situation.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?
Obviously, in a long lifetime, there could be no end to the list. Strangely enough, the one I have never forgotten was the awful experience of marching to morning chow over walkways lined with angle worms which came out after an overnight rain. The more serious memory, of course, was joining in the celebration in Lafayette Park, across from the White House, the night Japan surrendered and the war was over. A more recent memory has to be the looks on the faces of the 4th grade students holding my dog tags and listening to my “sea stories” of women in the military.
WHICH INDIVIDUAL PERSON FROM YOUR SERVICE STANDS OUT AS THE ONE WHO HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOU…AND WHY?
It would have to be my brother, whose 32-year career in the Navy continued to be such a factor in my life, and whose Remembrance Page is on my NTWS Profile. I can’t forget, however, the Commander, who calmed down the WAVE LtCdr who was irate that the scared-to-death S2c was not respecting her rank; or the Captain, who having been at sea throughout the war, realized his WAVE Yeoman was listening to him turn the air blue, and said “Oh Hell, you’re a sailor too”, and continued to ball-out whoever was on the other end. Nor can I forget RADM Dirk Debbink, who chose to follow his CNO’s orders for community service by spending Memorial Day in our small town. Now VADM Debbink, CNR, returned two years later and spent a couple of hours personally helping to lower the 128 Veterans’ flags in our Memorial Park.
WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER THE SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?
After my discharge in 1947, I went to work at California Research Corporation, a subsidiary of Standard Oil Company of California in San Francisco, first in Personnel, then as Secretary to the Vice President, and later as Head Clerk in the Patent Department. After I married and had my children I formed my own secretarial service, working from home from different law firms. In 1965 we moved to my husband’s home town in Wisconsin, and I continued working from home for another law firm in a nearby city. We both joined The American Legion, and thereby started yet another career for me. I became the first Woman Post Commander, and held other offices up to and including the National level, being appointed as National Historian in 1996. I have since remained active at all levels of the organization. I have also been active in my church and the community, among other things having served two terms as Village Clerk, and for the past 16 years as a member of the Library Board. Should I just say that I am “retired”?
HOW HAS SERVING IN THE NAVY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU NOW APPROACH YOUR LIFE AND CAREER?
My answers to all the previous questions should pretty much tell the story of how the military, specifically Our Navy, have influenced my life, and will continue to do so until my flag rests on my casket.
HOW HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU TO MAINTAIN A BOND WITH THE SERVICE AND THOSE YOU SERVED WITH?
NTWS has been a lifesaver toward preserving my sanity during some very stressful times in our lives when the dreaded Alzheimer’s has taken over a hard-charging BMC, who gave 43 years of service to the Navy, and 52 years to our marriage. I have never before felt so much love and caring from so many people who never had heard of me, nor I them. The strongest effect though has been learning just how far the women have come from “back in my day”. I have been honest in stating I still have mixed emotions about them serving on the ships, but I have the deepest respect for all they have done and are doing.
Note from the Editor: Our dear friend Bobbe passed away on May 23, 2016. While we are sad that she is no longer with us, we rejoice in knowing that she is with her dear BMC again.
View the service history of LPGA Legend:
1stLt Patty Berg
US Marine Corps
Short Bio:Patricia J. Berg started playing golf at the age of fourteen. Two years later she won the Minneapolis City Championship and at eighteen she was the state amateur champion. Winning twenty-nine titles in seven years, including the 1938 U. S. Amateur, and she was easily the most famous female golfer in the country.
Berg joined the Marine Corps in 1943. She was a Procurement Officer with the Eastern Procurement Division in Philadelphia, PA until 1945.
World War I will be remembered as one of the bloodiest wars in human history. Millions of soldiers died on both sides, and whole generations of young men were wiped out. Armies were bogged down in impenetrable trenches, resulting in thousands dying in futile assaults against fortified enemies. The war also introduced new and terrible weapons, such as the machine gun, which made the war even more horrific and bloody. There were many terrible battles, but the worst one for the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) was the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
On August 30, 1918, the supreme commander of Allied forces, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, arrived at the headquarters of General John J. Pershing’s 1st US Army. Foch ordered Pershing to effectively shelve a planned offensive against the St.Mihiel salient as he wished to use the American troops piecemeal to support a British offensive to the north.
Outraged, Pershing refused to let his command be broken apart and argued in favor of moving forward with the assault on St. Mihiel. Ultimately, the two came to a compromise: Pershing would be permitted to attack St. Mihiel but was required to be in position for an offensive in the Argonne Valley by mid-September. Foch also placed Pershing as the overall commander of the offensive since the American Expeditionary Force was to play the main attacking role in what would be the largest American-run offensive of World War I.
This required Pershing to fight a major battle, and then shift approximately 400,000 men sixty miles all within the span of ten days. Stepping off on September 12, Pershing won a swift victory at St. Mihiel and began moving his troops to the Argonne. Coordinated by Colonel George C. Marshall, this movement was completed in time to commence the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on September 26.
Unlike the flat terrain of St.Mihiel, the Argonne was a valley flanked by thick forest to one side and the Meuse River on the other. This terrain provided an excellent defensive position for five divisions from General Georg von der Marwitz’s Fifth Army.
While the goal of the offensive was to destroy the Germans, the strategy to do this was to cut off their main supply route. The Germans controlled the land between the Argonne Forest and the River Meuse in France, just inside its border with Belgium. The Sedan-Mezieres railroad, Germany’s main supply link, was in this area. Taking control of this railroad was the Allied Force’s main objective.
Both the Allied Forces and the Germans understood how critical this area was to Germany’s ability to continue its offensive into France. For this reason, both sides invested all available troops to the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and surrounding battles.
The Meuse-Argonne presented a number of challenges to the U.S. forces, which made up the largest part of the Allied Forces fighting. First, the overgrown, bushy, terrain of the area was difficult. The forest had no roads over which tanks and troops could easily move. Furthermore, the Germans had been in control of the area for the past four years and had well-fortified it.
The other key challenge was logistical. Most of the Americans were some miles away where they had just fought a battle at St. Mihiel Salient. Moving that many troops and their armory in such a short time period was an unprecedented logistical operation. Without the successful troop movement, the Germans would have likely held their supply lines.
However, one American division had difficulty capturing its assigned land and the entire Allied advance was slowed down.During this day-long stoppage, the Germans were able to retreat back to the Giselher line, where they prepared to make stand.
German General Max von Gallwitz directed six reserve divisions to shore up the line. The arrival of additional German troops ended American hopes for a quick victory in the Argonne. While Montfaucon was taken the next day, the advance proved slow and American forces were plagued by leadership and logistical issues. By October 1, the offensive had come to a halt. Traveling among his forces, Pershing replaced several of his green divisions with more experienced troops, though this movement only added to the logistical and traffic difficulties.
On October 4, Pershing ordered an assault all along the American line. This was met with ferocious resistance from the Germans with the advance measured in yards. It was during this phase of the fighting that the 77th Division’s famed “Lost Battalion” made its stand. Elsewhere, Corporal Alvin York earned the Medal of Honor for capturing 132 Germans.
On October 8, Pershing made a push on the east side of the Meuse with the goal of silencing German artillery in the area. This made little headway. Two days later he turned command of the 1st Army over to Lieutenant General Hunter Liggett.
As Liggett pressed on, Pershing formed the 2nd U.S. Army on the east side of the Meuse and placed Lieutenant General Robert L. Bullard in command. From October 13-16, American forces began to break through the German lines with the capture of Malbrouck, Consenvoye, Cote Dame Marie, and Chatillon. With these victories in hand, American forces pierced the Kreimhilde line, achieving Pershing’s goal for the first day. With this done, Liggett called a halt to reorganize. While collecting stragglers and re-supplying, Liggett ordered an attack towards Grandpre by the 78th Division. The town fell after a ten-day battle.
On November 1, following a massive bombardment, Liggett resumed a general advance all along the line. Slamming into the tired Germans, the 1st Army made large gains with the V Corps gaining five miles in the center. Forced into a headlong retreat, the Germans were prevented from forming new lines by the rapid American advance.
On November 5, the 5th Division crossed the Meuse, frustrating German plans to use the river as defensive line. Three days later, the Germans contacted Foch about an armistice. Feeling that the war should continue until the German’s unconditionally surrendered, Pershing pushed his two armies to attack without mercy. Driving the Germans, American forces allowed the French to take Sedan as the war came to a close on November 11, 1918.
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive cost Pershing 26,277 killed and 95,786 wounded, making it the largest and bloodiest operation of the war for the American Expeditionary Force. American losses were exacerbated by the inexperience of many of the troops and tactics used during the early phases of the operation. Germans losses numbered 28,000 killed and 92,250 wounded.
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest American military campaign and one of the world’s greatest battles.
An up close and personal interview with U.S. Army Veteran and Togetherweserved.com Member:
SSG Robert L Tate
Shadow Box: http://army.togetherweserved.com/profile/287713
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE ARMY?
In 1949 I was 16 years old and had just started my junior year in high school and worked part time for a national food store chain called the California Markets in my hometown of Evansville, Indiana. They offered me a produce manager’s job if I would go full-time. Being raised in a father-missing family, I thought it was a good idea so I quit high school. About a month later the chain went bankrupt.
I looked up an Army recruiter early named Tech Sgt. Vickery in December 1949 who always came by the schoolyard trying to get new recruits. I told him I wanted to join the Army but wouldn’t be 17 until February. He said just lie about my birth date and to say I was born in another state. He added they probably wouldn’t check it out. My 16-year buddy Don Bullock also decided to give it a try. We joined a week later and were bused to Indianapolis for physicals. Don passed without any problems but I was sent home to get some teeth fixed and told to come back once that was done. A few days after getting my teeth fixed, I returned for my physical. The minimum requirement for joining was 5′ 2″ and 112 lbs. I was exactly 5 feet, 2 inches tall but I weighed slightly less than 112 pounds. To make sure I would tip the scales at the minimum weight I ate a whole sack of bananas before weighing in. I stepped on the scale and came in at exactly 112 pounds.
My friend Don had been sent to basic with Company B, 13th Armored Infantry Battalion, Combat Command A, 3rd Armored Division, in Fort Knox. I was also sent to the 13th for training, but Company B had already filled so I was put in Company C. Both of our company commanders found out we were underage. His commander gave him a hard time and got him a minority discharge. Mine didn’t care, so I got to stay.
WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK.
My orders out basic training were for occupation duty in Japan. I was also given a 30-leave to go home to Evansville before heading to Seattle for shipment overseas.
When my leave was up, I reported to the Evansville train station where I ran into two other young soldiers also on their way to Seattle for shipment overseas. One was Bob Willett a buddy of mine from Evansville and the other was Ralph Jenkins who was came from Oakland City just up the road. When we changed trains in St. Louis, we were joined by another trainee from Fort Jackson South Carolina. Our new train was a relatively new Streamliner named ‘City of St. Louis’ which would take us partway to Seattle. Once we jumped aboard, however, we found the only thing available was a four person suite and the Military Vouchers we were travelling under did not include such ‘luxury.’ But the kindly conductor let us have it anyway. WOW!!! We had a steward in the car that we called back to order ham sandwiches. When we gave him a tip of $5 (back in those days great tip) he really took care of us for the entire trip.
We arrived two days early and since we didn’t want to go to the base until we had to we decided to look around Seattle. But we also were pretty well broke so we scrapped our pennies together and had enough for me to call home and have my mom wire us some money through Western Union. For two days after the money arrived we had some fun and still reported to base on time.
I shipped out on the USS General M. M. Patrick and landed in Yokohama. Since I had been trained for the cavalry I was certain I would be assigned to occupation duty with the 1st Cavalry Division. But at the reception station I learned I was assigned to the 7th Infantry Division, which was spread all over Japan with garrisons on Honshu and on Hokkaido, the northernmost island. My duty station was the division headquarters in Sendai, 231 miles north of Tokyo where I would be on the staff of the Division’s G-3 (Operations). A couple of days later I was on a train to Sendai.
I remember pulling into the Sendai train station and seeing men urinating in outside urinals and wondering what kind of world had I entered? When I stepped off the train, I was then hit with an awful smell. Part of the smell was fish markets and open drain ditches but the worst smell came from what I would learned later were called ‘honey buckets.’ The Japanese at the time used open latrines and the waste was collected in buckets below. Workers would go around every morning, collect the waste buckets and empty them into ‘honey wagons.’ The waste was then used to fertilize crops. I never really got used to that smell.
When the Korean War broke out in June 1950, we were moved to Gotemba and into a tent city at the base of Mount Fuji and put through a rigorous training schedule, including amphibious landing training. I remember everyone was anxious to get over to Korea and get into the fight.
The 7th Division was understrength since many of our officers and NCOs were sent to Army Divisions already in combat in Korea. To bring us up to strength thousands of Republic of Korea (ROK) troops were integrated into our ranks. At this stage in their training, the ROK soldiers were not worth much. There was also a language barrier that constantly got in the way. Later when we got in combat most of the ROKs proved to be brave fighters.
When we boarded the crowded troop ship for Korea we were assigned three men to a bunk. When I got down to my rack there were two ROK soldiers sitting on it eating dried squid with kimchee, which stunk to high heaven. I managed to get it over to them that they were not going to use my rack and they had to sleep on deck. I noticed later that one of them left his Japanese made Kodak camera on the bunk. I never did find him and still have the camera to this day.
Soon after arriving in Korea in early September 1950, we made an amphibious landing with the 1st Marine Division at Inchon. Days later we engaged North Korean soldiers in the First Battle of Seoul. The Division then marched 25 miles east to Suwon to capture the important rail juncture of Inchon. A few weeks later we made an amphibious landing at Iwon and made a rush to the Yalu River separating North Korea from China and when the Chinese entered the war we ended up at the bitter fight at the Chosen Reservoir.
After leaving Korea, I was assigned to US Army Forces Command and was discharged in 1952 as a Staff Sgt. From 1955 to 1968 I was a member of the 71st Troop Carrier Squadron, US Air Force Reserves.
DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS? IF SO, COULD YOU DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?
On the morning of June 25, 1950 we awoke to the news that Communist North Korea had smashed across the 38th Parallel and invaded South Korea. South Korea’s army, smaller and not as well trained and equipped was unable to halt the onslaught. By June 28, Seoul had fallen, andacross the peninsula the shattered remnants of South Korea’s army were in full retreat. Three United States divisions sent to its aid were committed in small units. They too were driven into retreat. We all knew it would be a matter of time before our division would be going to war. In late August or early September we sailed across the Sea of Japan and landed at Pusan. A week or so later we were on ships going to Inchon.
On September 15, 1950 the 1st Marine Division swarmed ashore after preparatory bombardment by aircraft and naval guns. Our 7th Infantry Division followed. Taken by complete surprise the North Koreans put up a light resistance and most quickly fled the city.
I remember the sporadic sniper fire that first night in Inchon and remember wondering to myself what the heck I was doing there and thinking I should be home in school instead of where I was. The next day we headed for what would be the first of five battles for Seoul.
The division’s first objective was to take the heavily defended North Koreans holding the high ground immediately northwest of Seoul. It was a brutal battle with many casualties on both sides. Once our frontline troops defeated the enemy, elements of the division entered Seoul. After a couple days of vicious house-to-house fighting,any enemy that had not retreated was either dead or captured. With Seoul firmly in our hands, the division was ordered to take two vital hills southeast of Seoul. It took 12-hour of fierce battle to take the two hills. Later my commander, Lt. Col. Hampton G-3, was killed in a tank ambush around the 4th or 5th day while we were trying to hook up with our tank task near Suwon just south of Seoul.
After our division and the 1st Marine Division secured Inchon, Kimpo Air base, Seoul and Suwon our division started a long overland truck march to the east coast of Pusan where we renewed training and added replacements for our combat-thinned ranks. Orders came down in October to advance to the Yalu so again we loaded sea transport and headed north along the east coast of Korea to Iwon. As a part of the G-3 shop I knew in advance that the push to the Yalu, which separated North Korea from Manchuria (China), was to stop the flow of supplies coming across the river. Our amphibious landing on the last day of October, 1950 was unopposed. We set off north toward the Yalu wearing our newly issued insulated shoe packs for the extreme cold.
We slogged through the cold into Pukchong late at night. We were all cold and pretty tired. I took off my shoe packs, didn’t notice my sweaty socks and jumped into my sleeping bag trying to get warm. When I woke up, my left toes were frozen white with ice between them. It scared the heck out of me, but I managed to massage them and they were okay. It sure taught me not to leave sweaty socks on when you go to sleep.
As the division moved north we met a sharp skirmish at Pungsan and a harsh firefight at Kapsan. The push continued in arctic-like cold weather, and on November 20, the 17th Infantry slogged into Hyesanjin-on-the-Yalu–the first U.S. unit to reach the Manchurian border. It was the northernmost point of advance by the United Nations’ command in three years of bitter warfare.
When the Chinese came across the border on November 27, 1950, we were totally unprepared. The enemy attack caught our division strung out, with some elements as far as 250 miles apart. I remember trying to make it down the MSR (main supply route). I hitched a ride in an Air Force Forward Observer van before they could cut it off and catch us in the Chosin Reservoir trap. Elements of the 7th Infantry (31st Regiment, 32nd Regiment, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, and other support units) were caught in the Chosin Reservoir and suffered tremendous casualties and unspeakable hardships. Thank God I was not caught in that trap. I made it down the MSR before the Chinese cut it off and encircled the troops at Chosen Reservoir.
If I remember correctly (it’s been over 50 years), our Assistant Division Commander, Brig. Gen. Henry Hodes put together a tank task force and broke through at Hagaru-ri to get some of the troops out. Just a couple days ago (after 54 years) not very far from my hometown, they buried the remains of a member of the 7th Infantry Division whose body was recently found in a shallow grave at the Chosin Reservoir.
I remember making it to Hungnam and while waiting to be evacuated I tried to get some sleep in what I think was a bombed out school. But the Navy was bombarding the enemy from the harbor and it seemed like every shell was going right over the building I was trying to sleep in. Finally we boarded the craft to be taken to the ship. It was dark and I remember our craft being challenged for our identity by the heavy cruiser USS St Paul. We were to be aboard ship for three days, but ended up being on it for over a week before we got to Pusan. Everyone on board was sick with dysentery and the whole ship was pretty messy. I don’t ever remember (before or since) being as cold and discouraged as I was that December in 1950.
OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
My fondest memories come from the five month I was stationed at Camp Sendai, Japan. I like learning about the Japanese culture and seeing things that were new and sometimes strange to me. I hated to leave when the 7th Infantry Division reassembled its scattered units throughout Japan to train in preparation for going to Korea to join other American divisions already fighting.
On March 11, 2011, memories of Sendai came flashing back when I saw that a major tsunami hit the city following a magnitude 9.0 Earthquake off the coast. I understand the center of the city was barely damaged but the areas closest to the coastline received major damage resulting in hundreds dying. It was the largest earthquake recorded in Japan’s history.
The memories I dislike the most are those dealing with the many casualties, “American and Korean” I saw during the Korea War.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?
The particular memory that stands out for me was experiencing the bitter, subzero temperature I experienced during our push to the Yalu and at the Chosin Reservoir. Both battles were fought over some of the roughest terrain during some of the harshest winter weather conditions of the Korean War. The worst was the cold front from Siberia that engulfed the Chosin Reservoir with temperature plunging to as low as −35 °F (−37 °C). The cold weather was accompanied by frozen ground, creating frostbite casualties, icy roads, and weapon malfunctions. I had never been so cold in my life.
IF YOU RECEIVED ANY MEDALS FOR VALOR OR AWARDS FOR SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENT, PLEASE DESCRIBE HOW THESE WERE EARNED.
My buddy Scotty and I were recommended for the Bronze Star Medal but through some unexplained policy in place at the time, they could only give one. Scotty won out and they gave me the one just below, the Army Commendation Medal w/Pendulum. The medal was presented by Maj. Gen. Goodwin Barr, the 7th Infantry Division Commanding General.
OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICE YOU RECEIVED, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE ONE(S) MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?
While in the Korean War with the 7th Infantry Division, I participated in 5 major battles and 2 amphibious landings resulting in having five Battle Stars and two Arrowheads on my Korean Campaign Medal.
WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
Col. Joe T. Pound, from Sullivan, Indiana was truly a great leader of men. I met Col. Pond while I was the First Sgt. of the 71st Troop Carrier Squadron from 1955-1968. There were two others commanders before him and another one who followed. All were fine men and great squadron commanders and since each was required to put in their flying time in order to maintain their proficiency they placed a lot of responsibility on me saying I would have to take care of most of the other functions in the Squadron. They were true to their word and backed me 100 percent.
Of the four Col. Joe Pond was the one who most led by example. He was stern but fair. He became my mentor in many ways. When the Squadron was activated and sent to Vietnam in 1968, Col. Pond stayed on active duty and finished out his distinguished career at the Pentagon. He was the finest Commander I ever served under both in the Air Force and the Army. He was not only my commander but a good friend as well. He has since passed away.
CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?
When I returned from Korea, I was stationed at Camp Atterbury, Indiana just south of Indianapolis. While I didn’t go to Indianapolis that often, one Friday night I decided to go there just to get off the base, find a place to relax and maybe have a couple of drinks. Apparently I must have had a lot more than just a couple of drinks because all I remembered was waking up in my bunk Saturday morning with a hangover. My roommate asked me if I remember anything earlier that morning. As hard as I tried, I could not remember a thing. He told me he was awakened around 2 am by some commotion in the company street and looked out the window to see what was going on. The racket was two burly MPs holding up a drunk under his arms and carrying him down the street. He said the drunk was so short his feet were not even touching the ground. As they carried the drunk closer he realized it was me, all 5 feet 2 inches of me. That was the only time in my life I couldn’t remember where I had been and what I had done. However, I cannot help smiling to myself on those rare occasions when I think of my ‘lost weekend.’ But I see it more as a cautionary tale since it taught me a valuable lesson that I have lived up to even now: ‘Always drink in moderation.’
WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?
After being discharged in December 1952 I got married and started having kids (seven of them). I joined the Air Force Reserve in 1955 and was First Sergeant of the 71st Troop Carrier Squadron for 13 years. My unit was activated during the Cuban Missile Crisis but with the Russians backing down at the last minute. We were on active duty for a short time. We were again activated in 1968 for the Vietnam War and during our preparation the 71st TCS was converted to gunships and re-designated as the 71st Air Commando Squadron, (Later designated as 71st Special Operations Squadron). Because of my situation at home (seven kids, one severely handicapped, the rest school age or under)I was discharged for hardship reasons.Watching my squadron go to Vietnam without me was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I have always felt a little guilt about not being able to go with them. The 71st was the only Reserve Unit to serve in Vietnam.
I made my living in the construction business for 50 years building primarily homes and apartment buildings. I have been retired since 2003 along with “The Light of my Life” (my wife of 58 years). I spend a great deal of my time working around my house and yard.
My Kids kept telling to get a computer but I said I lived without a computer for almost 70 years. But I finally gave in and bought one. WOW!!! I wish I had bought one year’s ago. I am on it a good deal of time each day (especially in the winter). I am getting involved in a lot of things going on in the world, Government, and Ancient Roman and Greek history, EBay, etc. It has sure been a way of keeping my mind active.
WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
Am a member of the 7th Infantry Division Association. I derive a lot of satisfaction in keeping in touch with some of my comrades in arms. I attended their convention in July, 2004 in Las Vegas.
I belonged to the American Legion for years, but had to drop it because of personal reasons.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?
I learned a sense of responsibility and discipline while in the military that I have carried with me all my life and in the workplace. Having been in combat I have also realized not to sweat the little thing. Finally, I found out I could accomplish almost anything regardless how hard or difficult if I set my mind to it.
BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE AIR FORCE?
My simple advice is to take your service seriously and consider it as a career. But the best advice I can pass on to new soldiers was something I heard when I was discharging from the Army in 1952. I was Camp Atterbury and attending an orientation lecture about adjusting to civilian life. At the end of his lecture the crusty major spoke these words: ‘You can leave the military but it will never leave you.’ He then made us a bet that in in the years to come if we were to go into a bar we would more than likely notice some guys sitting around and talking. He said if we got close enough to hear the conversation, chances are they would be talking about their military service. I found out more often than not, he was right.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.
Setting up my profile page was like taking a trip down memory lane. Browsing other profile has the same effect. The feature I cherish the most is that my profile page can be viewed by my six living kids, 15 grand-kids, 15 great-grand-kids and so far two great, great, grand-kid. Here they can get a glimpse at what I did in the military service to include some of the ways in which I felt about things. It’s a good feeling. As a life member who knows how long people will be able to read of my experiences.
I would like to add that these pages are dedicated to all those men and women who for over the last few centuries have answered our country’s call to defend the freedoms and the way of life we all now enjoy. Their efforts and sacrifices have made this great country the model to all freedom loving people in the world. God grant that we will always have enough of those individuals that put these beliefs above all else. We must always extend the hand of friendship to all people everywhere. By freely giving to others our greatest possessions of freedom, justice, and the basic principles of human rights, we will insure that we will always have them ourselves. I pray God will continue to shed his grace on this great country.