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31
Aug

MSTC John Murphy U.S. Coast Guard (1963-1971)

Read the Service story of U.S. Coast Guardsman:

profileMSTC John Murphy

U.S. Coast Guard

(1963-1971)

Shadow Box:

http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/bio/John.Murphy
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD?

After a year in college I was feeling restless and looking to go out in the world and do something productive. I had always enjoyed boats and being on the water so joining one of the sea services seemed like a natural. My career interests were in science and technology so I went to visit the Navy recruiter to discuss the nuclear propulsion field. I passed all the tests except one: I was too TALL. The height limit on subs was 6-4 in those days and I was already 6-5 and still growing. The recruiter suggested I go across the hall to see his Coast Guard counterpart as they were “always looking for guys over six feet tall.” Having fond recollections of Coasties zipping around in their forty footers in Montauk, performing rescues and saving pretty girls from their sinking yachts, I walked across the hall and met with the Coast Guard recruiter in New York. After hearing his pitch I was sold and signed up the same day.

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?

After completing basic training in Cape May on my 19th birthday, I was sent to Key West to await the next class of Sonar School. I was a bit of a “sea lawyer” (wise-guy) so the Navy CMAA sent me to the Coast Guard base to work for “my own kind” instead of cleaning heads, mess-cooking or doing something else where I would have a chance to “mess up” HIS Navy. Spent the next month day working at the CG moorings and filling in for an injured crewman on one of the station’s 40 footers. Finished Sonar School second in my class, was advanced to PO3 and sent to the CGC Half Moon based at Staten, Island, New York. Enjoyed my two year tour on the Half Moon immensely. I made E-5 and attended the Class-C school for Oceanography, steering my career toward the Marine Sciences. I was transferred to the Coast Guard Oceanographic Unit in 1966 where I worked with early computer systems and then took over running the Unit’s marine chemistry lab.

I made a number of TAD cruises aboard Evergreen, Sweetgum, and Glacier as a member of the scientific party. I made E-6 in 1967 and then laterally transferred to Marine Science Technician when the rating came into existence. I was sent to the CG Institute to develop the rating quals and service-wide exams for the new rating and then transferred to Governor’s Island as an instructor in the new MST “A” School. I made Chief in 1969 and was assigned collateral duties developing the prototype of the first computerized Satellite/Loran shipboard navigation system – the forerunner of today’s GPS systems. I spent the last two years teaching “A” School students and developing computer programs for the CG’s Honeywell computer systems. I would have liked to stay in but family responsibilities dictated that I leave the service after a wonderful 8 years.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

Fleet Sonar School – a tough six month school. CGC Half Moon – my favorite unit of all. A great ship with a great crew. I made a lot of patrols and visited some great liberty ports. Coast Guard Oceanographic Unit – highly challenging work. I learned computer programming and
ended up running the unit’s marine chemistry lab. CGC Evergreen – I made a number of oceanographic cruises aboard this research cutter including Ice Patrol off the coast of Greenland. CGC Sweetgum – made a trip where divers were checking on the wrecks of tankers sunk by U-boats during WW-2.

My job was to analyze the water in and around the wrecks looking for signs of residual oil seeping into the environment. No oil but some great fishing over the wrecks and a chance to help with the hard-hat diving ops. CGC Glacier – the cruise of a lifetime. DeepFreeze 68 to the Weddell Sea. The crew was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation Medal for meritorious service, literally going where no man had gone before. TRACEN Governor’s Island – really enjoyed instructing as well as my collateral assignment of developing the prototype GPS system. Awarded the CG Commendation Medal for this effort.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

The research trip to Antarctica aboard CGC Glacier. Spent 6 months planning and making preparations for the scientific aspects of the trip. Once underway we had to set up a full multi-discipline research station aboard a ship including computers, physical, chemical, biological and geologic oceanographic equipment. We were the first ship to successfully penetrate the Weddell Sea ice since Shackleton in 1915. Once we passed the limits of where Shackleton had gone we were the first men to ever see the parts of the Antarctic coast we saw on portions of that trip.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER? 
The Coast Guard Commendation Medal. It took a lot of teamwork and hard work. We all pulled together to complete a complex project. My Good Conduct Medals for almost 10 years of hard work, and our Navy Unit Meritorious Commendation for the team.

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

The Coast Guard Commendation Medal as it was awarded in recognition of my work on a highly complex project – developing the first integrated Shipboard Navigation System consisting of Satellite, Loran-A and Loran-C components. We also implemented the first system capable of determining a ship’s position from only two Loran stations rather than the typical three, a big plus in polar waters where it was impossible to be within range of more than two.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

Chief Don Etzler, one of my instructors in Sonar School and later my Leading Petty Officer on Governors Island. He taught me about the technical aspects of my job, how to be a good Coast Guardsman, a good Petty Officer. He set a wonderful example of what it meant to be a Chief. In short he helped me become a man.

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?
On Ocean Station around Halloween we had a very superstitious lookout on the flying bridge. One of the DCs dressed up in an N-B-C suit and climbed up to the flying bridge where the lookout was stationed. The poor seaman freaked out and scrambled down the ladder to the bridge, explaining to the OD how a spaceman had landed aboard the ship. He refused to go back up saying he’d rather risk court martial than the chance of being abducted.

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?

I worked in a variety of positions in the computer field for the 30 years after my discharge. Most were in the area of Systems Engineering, making a bunch of gadgets work together with a computer, something the CG taught me how to do well.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

The Coast Guard was an excellent environment in which to learn leadership skills along with the technical training associated with a particular rating. This proved to be invaluable in civilian life and provided a natural foundation for a successful career in middle management. As far as the influence on my personal life, the regimentation was highly useful when I found myself the father of six children. I have to admit that there have been times when my wife and children had to remind me I’m not a Chief in the Coast Guard anymore.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE COAST GUARD?
Above everything else – be true to the traditions of those who went before you. Learn from your leaders and utilize the training afforded you. In those unexpected situations where you haven’t been trained, use the common sense you were born with, the Coast Guard accepted you as one of their members as they have faith in your ability to make the right decision.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.

Keeping in touch with former shipmates and refreshing cherished old memories. An added bonus has been being able to show my grand-kids the kinds of things their grandfather did when he was a much younger man.

29
Aug

The Hunt for “Wolfman 44”

From the TWS Archives
By Loyde W. McIllwain & Jon YimOn Dec, 19, 1972, an OV-10 Bronco observation plane flew through the scattered clouds over South Vietnam’s northern region west of the South China Sea. At the controls was Air Force pilot Capt. Frank Egan. His aerial observe (AO), a Marine officer known by the call sign, “Wolfman 44”, carefully searched for enemy activity in the rain soaked jungle and mountains below.

Suddenly, the twin-engine Bronco was hit by an enemy heat-seeking missile. Damage was extensive. Not wanting to crash in thick jungle, Egan turned his crippled aircraft out to sea in an attempt to ditch it over water. As luck would have it, an Army U-21 Ute conducting electronic battlefield surveillance witnessed the incident and descended towards Egan’s damaged plane. The pilot, Army Capt. Warren Fuller, contacted Egan on the aircraft emergency frequency and was told by Egan that he planned on punching out when he got to 800 feet.
Declaring himself the ‘on-scene commander,’ Fuller established radio contact with everyone that he thought could help. He requested a Navy warship to steam toward the damaged Bronco and contacted a local ground commander in the general area and a pair of jet fighters that had been working earlier with Capt. Egan. Fuller also enlisted the help of a flight of UH-1 Huey helicopters from Da Nang.As Egan’s crippled Bronco approached the coast, both he and Wolfman 44 ejected at about 800 feet, but Fuller saw only one parachute open. “Wolfman 44 contacted me when he hit the ground and told me Frank’s parachute never deployed and that he appeared to be dead,” Fuller said. “I found out later that a D-ring prevented (Egan’s) parachute from deploying.”  Wolfman 44 and Egan’s lifeless body were picked up by a Huey and taken to the Navy warship, where Egan was officially pronounced dead. Photo is of Capt. Francis X. Egan.

A few days later, the Marine aerial observer came over to Fuller’s outfit hoping to meet and thank him for his help, “But I was out on another mission,” recalled Fuller.
That was the last time Capt. Fuller would ever hear from Wolfman 44.For some 30 years since then, Warren Fuller had been personally searching for the man known as “Wolfman 44” but all he had were mere scraps of information: The aviator’s call sign and a tip that he was a Marine attached to the 1st ANGLICO (Artillery-Naval Gunfire Liaison Company). In this age of rapid communications and social networking, he turned to the internet, posting his search on various military website forums for any details on the Marine aerial observer. Photo is of Capt. Warren Fuller.

One of Fuller’s posts caught the attention of members on the US Marines heritage community website, TogetherWeServed.com (Marines TWS). After reading the information posted by Fuller, several members took-on his quest as their personal mission. Within days of the post, there were many leads to the possible identity of Wolfman 44 but none panned-out.

On New Year’s Day 2010, a TogetherWeServed.com administrator received a phone call from former Army Specialist Mark Stovall, a member of the Marines’ sister site, Army TWS. Stovall saidhe had first-hand knowledge of the events of Dec 19, 1972: He was the one who pulled Capt. Frank Egan from his downed aircraft.

Captain Egan didn’t eject, recalls Stoval. “I found him still strapped in his seat. I can’t remember if he (Wolfman 44) was in the bird when I got there or was running like hell with me to get there himself.”

Stovall added that it’s hard for him to recall exactly what happened with all the activity that was going on at the time, as combat adrenaline tends to lend itself to distorted sensory perception.

“I don’t remember much about Wolfman getting to Da Nang with us,” said Stovall.  “But I have to assume Wolfman got there as well and was likely taken to the Gunfighter Compound at Da Nang Air Base because I didn’t see him at (our) compound and it was just across the road.”

As to Wolfman 44’s name, Stovall said it must be in Air Force records of the event, since the Army had nothing in their documents mentioning any names of those flying with Egan that day. “It says the pilot died from ‘injuries incurred during ejection,” Stoval recounts. “That was wrong, of course, because I found him still strapped-in.”

The search for Wolfman 44 went on as Fuller and Stovall, along with Marines TWS members, pressed-on by keeping track of every lead. Then on Jan. 5, 2011, a big break came from a Marines TWS member, retired Marine Sergeant Major James Butler.

“There was an aerial observer in our unit, a 1st Lt. J.F. Patterson,” said Butler. “He was recommended for the Purple Heart in Dec. 1972.”

With that vital piece of information, Marines TWS members called upon their vast resources to locate information on 1st Lt. Patterson. As it was a common name, there were several leads. TWS members narrowed and focused the search on those that fell within the age range to have served in Vietnam; narrowing a list to seven possibilities scattered throughout the United States.

The search for the enigmatic “Wolfman 44” was officially ended with a post on the Marines TWS site by member George Reilly of the TWS Personal Locator service: “Warren is on the phone with Wolfman 44 right now!”

After some 38 years of searching, former Capt. Jonathan F. Patterson, aka “Wolfman 44,”was located and reunited with Capt. Warren Fuller.

In a letter to all the Army and Marine TWS members involved in the successful search of Wolfman 44, Fuller wrote, “Today, my wife Janie and I hosted a luncheon with Jon and his wife Gail in Winston-Salem, NC at a very nice restaurant called Paul’s Fine Italian Dining. We talked about many things over lunch, but the topic of the OV-10 shot down on December 19, 1972 always seemed to surface. I also learned this was Jon’s 3rd ejection out of an OV-10. Jon and I will continue to stay in touch.”

Jon Patterson is now a member of Marines TWS, the website whose members worked every lead and put a name to the call sign “Wolfman 44.”

IF YOU HAVE A STORY ABOUT FINDING AND REUNITING WITH AN OLD FRIEND AS A RESULT OF TOGETHERWESERVED, PLEASE CONTACT ADMIN HERE. WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR STORY.

26
Aug

MSgt Everett Squires U.S. Air Force (Ret) (1970-1991)

profile1PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE AIR FORCE?

My father Cpl Everett A. Squires who served in the Army Air Force during WW II as a mechanic on B-17 and B-24 bombers. He was assigned to the 493rd and 447th Bomb Wings while stationed in England. While there he met a lady who he would 2634marry after waiting 5 years, she was able to come to the United States in 1950. He and my mother told stories all the time to me and my brother and sister about their experiences during WWII. That is the reason there was never any doubt as to which service I would join, it was going to be the Air Force. When he passed in 2005 I saw on his DD214 that he had been separated on Oct 7 1945, exactly 25 years to the day that I enlisted on Oct, 7 1970.

I was a civilian printer for the Department of Navy, working in the Pentagon and various other Navy buildings in the Washington, DC metro area. When the draft lottery was held, my birthday came up with a somewhat low number. That is when I decided on the Air Force, hoping I could continue in my chosen trade as a printer. My Agency Director, even requested that I be assigned to the print shop of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff in the Pentagon. I took the bypass test for being a printer in the AF and I never got any results back. I knew I had passed because all the question were about duties I had been performing every day. I asked to see the Squadron Commander and he listened to me, but I never got an answer or even allowed to retest. Like the saying goes “The needs of the Air Force come first”, so I became a Security Policeman.

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?

I attended basic training at Lackland, AFB beginning in October 1970, and the Air Force picked me to be the only member of my flight to be a Security Policeman. Technical school for Security Police was across the base at Lackland. My class was accelerated so we could
complete the class before New Years. This was the last class that taught both Law Enforcement and Security. The career field was than split into two AFSC’s. I ended up getting my first choice of bases out of Tech School. There was only one opening from the class at Dover, AFB DE. It was the closest to my home.

I arrived at Dover on Super Bowl Sunday in 1971 with the Baltimore Colts and the Dallas Cowboys, playing. I watched the game from the transient barracks. I was assigned to Security since I had completed SP tech school, while the other guys I processed in with had been washed out of their tech schools and they all got Law Enforcement. I was only at Dover a couple of months when I got orders for South East Asia (SEA). After TDY back at Lackland for AZR Combat Training, I returned back to Dover for only a couple of weeks. I arrived at Ubon RTAFB in late June of 1971. I was assigned to what was called Shadow flight, the largest flight that worked the high threat hours at night.

I performed various assignments before I was selected to train as a 81 mm mortar gunner I never did get to go to a formal mortar school, I was transferred to the Heavy Weapons section when it was first formed and I spent most of my time working the mortar pit with an occasional assignment on a Quick reaction Team as either a M-60 or 50-cal machine gunner. The base was attacked two times, while I was there. One was a single sapper who was killed before he could do any damage. Two of my friends would receive Bronze Stars for their actions that night. The other was a stand off mortar attack, which targeted the AC-130 parking area. I extended my tour twice during the Spring Offensive of 1972 and left Ubon just after Linebacker II started and was actually home for Christmas. My next assignment was to Malmstrom, AFB, MT. I was trained to work as a Flight Security Controller and was assigned to a 10th Missile Security Flight. While there I was promoted to E-5 SSgt with less than 4 years in service and had 11 months Time In Grade when I was discharged.

During that time I was given the opportunity to attend project transition. I approached the MSgt who was in charge of the base print shop and I proceeded to tell him that I was capable of operating all the equipment in the shop and he would not need to training me at all. His shop was short one billet so he agreed. I worked there for about six weeks and I had to go back to being a cop for the remainder of my enlistment. This time it was with the 490th Missile Security Flight, where I worked at the farthest site from the base, 150 miles and a three hour drive. I always wondered if it was because I took that transition assignment.

I was discharged in October 1974 and my brother flew out to Montana and we drove home to Virginia together and we got to see some of the country. I went back to work at my old job as a printer for the Department of the Navy .After being out of the Air Force a few months I started to miss being a part of it. I still had my 2 year reserve obligation and I figured I would use it as an active reservist. I contacted an AF Reserve recruiter and I enlisted in the Air Force Reserve as a veterinary technician in the 22 Medical Services Squadron at Andrews AFB. This unit was a part of the 459th Airlift Wing.
It was the only position available that I could keep my SSgt rank. I never really got any training as a Vet tech and after a few months the veterinary positions were all turned over to the Army so I had to find a new slot. My only Annual training with this unit was helping do physicals for dependent children for the upcoming school year. Basically helping get the children rom one station to another. I tried to transfer to the 459th Security Police Squadron but they had no slots for an E-5 at that time and could not take me as an overage. I went down the road to the District of Columbia Air National Guard and enlisted there for a 3 year term as a Security Policeman.

I had to enlist for three years, and when that was up, I made up my mind to make it a career. I am very glad I did. I retired there after a total of 21 years. During my time as a member of the 113th Weapons System Security Flight and the 113th Security Police Squadron, I participated in three Presidential Inaugurations, Jimmy Carter, first one for Ronald Reagan, second one was canceled due to extreme cold, and George H. W. Bush. Carters we work as additional members on patrol with the DC Metro Police. The one for Bush we worked traffic control. During Ronald Reagans, we worked with the DC Army National Guard MPs as part of the riot control team. When the Army Commanding general decided that we should be deployed, he left the Army MPs at the DC Armory and took just the Air Force Security Police. Nothing happened so we just stood by at the parade route. I also went to two overseas deployments; RAF Station Finningley, and NAS Keflevik. Other Annual Training was held in Savannah GA, Alpena MI, Langley, AFB and Key West, NAS, FL. During Desert Shield/Storm I volunteered for additional active duty. One night after the call for members to report, I went straight to Andrews and was assigned to provide security for the aircraft of the 113 TFW. I did this for several months and continued to also work additional Anti Drug missions as well as our regular monthly drills. Plus working at my civilian job in the Pentagon. I also got to visit a few other ANG units, including those in Virginia, West Virginia, and Nebraska. Myself and two other Security Policeman went TDY for a few days to learn from our counterparts at our Advisor base at Seymour Johnson AFB. NC. We did not get much accomplished as our host unit the 4th SPS, got put on alert as the Grenada Operation started that day. My last day in the DCANG was performing a Light All mission on Halloween night October 1991.

IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY MILITARY OPERATIONS, INCLUDING COMBAT, HUMANITARIAN AND PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.

I was assigned to the 8th Security Police Squadron at Ubon, RTAFB which was a vital part of the USAF effort in the Vietnam War. Due to its location we were never in normal security. We had many Yellow alerts and two actual Red Alerts as we were attacked

two times during my time there. I was never actually involved in any combat operations myself. After being at Ubon for about six months, in early January 1971, I was awakened one morning after working all night and told to report to the 1st Sgt.

When I got there I was told that the Red Cross had contacted the Air Force and that my mother had passed away. Of course I ended up taking emergency leave to attend her funeral. My family wanted me to apply for a humanitarian reassignment, which I did. But the Air Force said no. So back to Thailand I went, which took me a while because I was on stand by all the way. From Travis, AFB I was on a C-5A and got put off at Hickam, AFB, because of Special Cargo. I then boarded a C-141 which blew an engine getting ready for take off. I ended up three days later on the same aircraft and finally got back to my base. Not only did I finish my tour, but I did two three month extensions due to the increased efforts of the enemy in Vietnam.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
It was my deployment as a member of the DCANG to Royal Air Force Station Finningley. My mother was from London, and she and my father met during WW II while he was part of the 8th Air Force. While there I was able to travel to London. Here I met up with a cousin and her husband and took the train to their home. The next day we traveled out to the coast to visit her mother where I also got to meet another Aunt. My least favorite memories were at Dover, AFB, DE working in the Weapons Storage Area (WSA) having to walk on top of the mounds during hours of darkness. Day shift was fine as we got to patrol in a vehicle.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

My time as a mortar gunner while a member of the 8th SPS, Ubon, RTAFB. I really looked forward to having nightly fire missions. We just about always had a fire mission shooting illumination rounds to light up the perimeter at night. I hated it when a round did not go off and we had to clear the mortar tube by disconnecting it from the base and turning it upside down with one person catching the round and making it safe.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER?

The Air Force Achievement Medal. I received it for performing addition duties while supporting the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department and DC National Guard Anti-Drug Program. We performed Light All missions. We would go to street corners and set up lights to deter the efforts of drug dealers and give the local residents an opportunity to feel safe in the neighborhoods. As well as Light All missions, we also worked other events. Two of those were at RFK Stadium. They were concerts by The Who and The Rolling Stones. I got to go to the front of the stage for a while and got to see Mick Jagger up close. What more can you ask for , getting paid and seeing Rock Stars for free. Supporting the Anti-Drug program was probably the most important thing I did during my service as a member of the Air National Guard.

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

My Vietnam Service Medal, and Vietnam Campaign Medal are very important to me because they allow me to be part of the Vietnam Brotherhood for which I am so proud of. I have become friends with some of the finest people around, the members of the Vietnam Security Police Association (VSPA). I was chosen to carry the flag of Thailand as a member of the color guard of the VSPA. at the 25th anniversary of the Vietnam Wall in 2007 held in Washington, DC. That Veterans Day will be the one I remember the most. I was proud to march with heroes.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

SSGT Lindsay Hall. He was the Assistant Flight Chief of the Heavy Weapons Section at Ubon, RTAFB. He came to Ubon from a base in Vietnam that was closing, I do not remember which one. We were so lucky to have him and the others who came with him as we learned a lot from their experiences. He did so much to establish the section and make us proud to be part of it. We even got to wear distinctive head gear, the Aussie Bush hat.

PLEASE RECOUNT THE NAMES OF FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH, AT WHICH LOCATION, AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER MOST ABOUT THEM. INDICATE THOSE YOU ARE ALREADY IN TOUCH WITH AND THOSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE CONTACT WITH.

One of my best friends was James Wilson, a roommate of mine at Ubon, RTAFB and fellow member of the Heavy Weapons Section. He and I both had follow on assignments to Malmstrom, AFB working Missile Security. We worked different shifts and different flights. After many years I found out where he lived and sent a letter. We have talked on the phone but have never gotten back together. But of course I will remember him as a brother forever.

James Mahaffey who was also a member of the Heavy Weapons section and I connected and communicated for several years and he visited my wife and I while traveling around the country. We visited the Air Force Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial Wall. He passed away a few years ago from Agent Orange related illness. His profile is one of my remembered Airmen. Rest In Peace “Wolf Pack Defender”.

I stay in touch with several of my friends from my time in the DC Air National Guard. We keep talking about getting together again, but it never seems to happen. Maybe some day.

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?

It was the night we “sank” an M113 track, I mostly worked the mortar pit, but that night I was on the Quick Reaction Team (QRT). The driver was an A1C, whose name I don’t remember, and pretty new to the squadron. I thought he knew what he was
doing. He decided to drive through a pond and the tracks must have got stuck on a log or something and we could not move it in any direction. I think the drain plugs were not put in and the water started entering the inside . I called Central Security Control (CSC) many times asking for assistance from the other track to pull us out as the water kept filling in. Believe me I tried real hard not to sound desperate. The other track was busy pulling out a stuck 2 1/2.ton truck. Finally the Thai Guards all got on the top. By the time we got help the whole thing was filled with water. We carried everything out including the machine guns (50 Cal) and all the ammo in water up to my arm pits.

I was “asked” to report to maintenance first thing the next morning and clean up the mess. I don’t remember what happened the with the rest of the shift, but I know that we did not get the rest of the night off. Early the next morning I reported in my stateside fatigues all set to go, but was told not to worry about it that it had already been taken care of. Our maintenance section was great as it was back in service just a few days later. I figured I would be working without a paycheck for the rest of my enlistment. But nothing was ever said about it. I kept my stripes and I even made E-5 when I got back stateside. It was a while before I went back on a QRT, It was either the mortar pit or Fire Direction Control (FDC), which I never had any real training on. Than again I never got to go to mortar school either. Just a day working with our training section, running up and down a filed setting up the mortar including the aiming stakes and setting coordinates on the sight. But I really did like the mortar pit when we finally got to fire live missions every night. Back then during a war I suppose things were different. Not funny then, but I can laugh about it now.

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?

After discharge from the Air Force, I went back to my job as a printer for the Navy. The Agency later became part of the Defense Logistics Agency. I transferred to the Government Printing Office and retired after 42 years of Federal Service in July of 2010. I am a Life member of the Alexandria Volunteer FD and still participate. I am going into my 45th year as a member and serve as the Department Treasurer.

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?

I am a Life member of many military associations. I am proudest of the Vietnam Security Police Association. We have experienced a lot of the same things, both in South East Asia and stateside assignments. I have met very few people who I actually served with, but have become friends forever with all of them. I participate with my Vietnam Veterans Association Chapter 641 and with Eagle Chapter of the USAF Security Forces Association in washing the Vietnam Memorial Wall. We do this once a month during the period of April -October and sometimes twice a month when both associations have a scheduled date. There is no better satisfaction than having the privilege of washing “Our Wall”.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

I think that my core values were reinforced by my military service along with working as a civilian for the Department of Defense. I learned a lot about leadership, as even when you are not a high rank, you still are given a lot of responsibility. This helped me not only as I progressed in my Air Force career, but also helped me in being a good supervisor in my civilian career. The thing I remember most from the Air force was they stressed to always treat the people that work for you as your greatest asset. Without them nothing gets done.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE AIR FORCE?

Being a Vietnam War veteran, I am part of a brotherhood who believes that no generation of veterans shall ever be forgotten. No matter which service or where you have served, you should be proud of what you have done. My hope is that those now serving will continue to feel the same way. Be proud of the uniform you wear as it reflects not only on you, but of all those who have worn it before you. You would be wise to pay attention and listen to those who have served longer than you and pass that information on as you advance in your career.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.

Just like most of the military associations I belong to I have not made contact with many people who I served with. I have made friends with lots of new people with whom I can share the Air Force experience. It has been wonderful to get together with people who only have the Air Force in common and feel like you have known them forever the first time you meet face to face. On several occasions I have had mini reunions with people I have initially met here at TWS, traveling to events and actually meeting others who are traveling and meeting up with them, beginning with our 1st get together in Frederick, MD.

24
Aug

hughesruddtwit_400x400View the service history of reporter:

1stLt Hughes Rudd US Army Air Corps (Served 1941-1945)

View his Service Profile on TogetherWeServed.com

http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/profile/162703

Short Bio: Hughes Rudd, was a puckish, curmudgeonly newscaster who once incurred the wrath of thousands of Midwesterners by describing Detroit as “Cleveland without the glitter,” served in WWII as a “Liason Spotter” during WWII.

22
Aug

Profile in Courage: The Second Most Decorated Soldier of WWII

The 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division (known as “The Cottonbalers” from their use of a cotton bale breastworks during the Battle of New Orleans under Andrew Jackson), has served in more campaigns than any other infantry unit in the United States Army. In World War II, the regiment fought German forces on three fronts, North Africa, Italy, and Northwest Europe, quite probably serving more time in combat than any other regiment in the U.S. Army during the war.

The regiment’s numerous WWII actions include four separate amphibious landings against enemy beach defenses, earning the coveted spearhead device on the campaign streamers awarded for each of these operations: Morocco in November, 1942 as part of Operation Torch (the Allied campaign to clear the Axis powers from North Africa); Sicily in July, 1943 as part of Operation Husky, and Anzio in January, 1944 as part of Operation Shingle – where the regiment conducted a breakout and drove towards Rome (both landings in the Allied campaign to clear the Axis powers from Italy); and Southern France in August, 1944 as part of Operation Dragoon, advancing up the Rhone River Valley and driving the German forces back to the German frontier.

After fighting the retreating Germans in the Vosges Mountains near the German border in eastern France, and pushing them back to Colmar, central Alsace, France, where the 7th helped clear the bitterly-defended Colmar Pocket in January, 1945, the regiment finally crossed the Rhine River into Germany in March, 1945. They took part in the seizure of Munich in April, 1945, and then headed for Austria, reaching the Salzburg area where elements of the 7th helped capture Hitler’s retreat at Berchtesgaden as the war ended.

One of the Soldiers fighting in those battles was Garlin Murl Conner. Conner was born June 2, 1919 on a several-hundred-acre family farm in Clinton County, Kentucky, where his family raised livestock and grew hemp, cotton, tobacco, and corn. Drafted into the Army like so many other young men, he was sent to Fort Lewis for basic training in March, 1941. Following basic training, he was then assigned to K Company, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, and deployed overseas to fight the Germans in North Africa, and ended up serving in French Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Sicily, Italy, and France.

Not surprisingly, the farm boy was also a good soldier, easily rising through the ranks from private to sergeant, earning a battlefield commission to 2nd Lieutenant, and then a promotion to 1st Lieutenant. And by the time the war was over, he was the “second most decorated soldier” of World War II. Audie Murphy, also a member of the 3rd Infantry Division, was recognized as America’s most decorated hero of World War II.

By the spring of 1945, Conner had earned four Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars, seven Purple Hearts and the second highest military award for extreme gallantry, the Distinguished Service Cross. He also received the French Croix de Guerre or “Cross of War.”

Conner earned his Distinguished Service Cross in action against enemy forces on January 24, 1945, in the vicinity of Houssen, France where the division Soldiers battled two enemies: German forces and icy, bone-chilling weather where daily temperatures averaged 10 degrees below zero. The night was equally cold with no moonlight.

Earlier that day, Conner, who had been badly wounded in the hip, sneaked away from a field hospital and made his way back to his unit’s camp. Around 8 am, his commanding officer was seeking a volunteer for a suicide mission: Run 400 yards directly toward the enemy while unreeling telephone wire all the way to the front-line trenches, in order to establish an observation post and call in targeting coordinates for mortar and artillery fire.

Disregarding his injured hip, Conner volunteered and ran the 400 yards through intense enemy fire and established a forward artillery observation post and began calling in artillery strikes against attacking Germans. During his dash, he crossed the impact zone of a heavy concentration of enemy artillery fire, with shells exploding a mere 25 yards away. For three hours, he held his position against wave after wave of German attackers who came at times within 15 feet, holding off 600 enemy Soldiers and 6 German Mark VI tanks.Ordered to vacate his position, he instead ordered artillery to concentrate their fire on his location. During the battle, Conner was responsible for 150 German casualties, including 50 killed, with a combination of his machine gun fire and artillery fire, and was credited with saving the 3rd Battalion from being overrun.

After his unit was sent to occupy Austria, Conner was sent back to the United States a well-deserved rest after 800 days of fighting in a war zone prior to being sent to fight in the Pacific theater. The war ended before he could be sent overseas a second time.

Conner returned home to Kentucky as a genuine war hero. Awaiting him was public eager to see a real war hero. According to a news article, on a beautiful spring day in May 1945, residents of Clinton and surrounding counties traveled from the hills of south-central Kentucky by foot, wagon, and automobile to see and honor the hometown soldier from Aaron, Kentucky, who had just returned from the war with numerous military decorations. A parade featuring prominent locals and the guest of honor, Garlin Murl Conner, wound through Albany to the town square and then to a ceremony in a large second-floor room in the courthouse.

With the room filled to capacity, several dignitaries, including Alvin York, the renowned World War I Medal of Honor recipient, addressed the audience. Fifteen-year-old Pauline Wells, standing on a bench in the back of the crowded room and frustrated by the long wait, asked her mother repeatedly, “Where is he?” Each time her mother admonished Pauline to be patient. When the guest of honor finally rose to speak, Pauline exclaimed, rather matter-of-factly, “That little wharf rat? Why, he couldn’t have done all those things!” She later characterized Conner as a “cocky little fellow, but humble and yet proud of what he had accomplished.”

Only two months after this homecoming celebration, twenty-six-year-old Conner enjoyed a brief courtship with the much-younger Pauline, married her, and immediately returned to his familiar rural community. Eager to put the war behind him and focus on his future, Conner and his young bride leased from his father a mule, some farming tools, and thirty-six acres along Indian Creek in Clinton County. There he embarked on life as a farmer. As the years passed, his close friends and associates indicated that Conner seldom talked about his war service, and each time someone suggested that he pursue efforts to add the deserved Medal of Honor to his list of decorations, he emphatically dismissed the idea. His usual reply was, “I’d done what I had to do and come home, and that’s all there is to it,” or “It is in the past and in the past let it remain,” refusing to consider it further. Pauline said her husband “thought people would say he was bragging, and he didn’t want that.” His response was typical of many returning veterans, who believed they had done nothing extraordinary.

Conner farmed all his life and for seventeen years served as president of the local Kentucky Farm Bureau. In addition, he and his wife worked tirelessly helping disabled veterans receive their pension benefits, a service his wife continued. He died in 1998 at the age of seventy-nine after battling kidney failure and diabetes, which in his last years left him bedridden and unable to speak.

Approximately two years before Conner’s death, Richard Chilton of Genoa City, Wisconson, learned of Conner while corresponding with veterans who may have known his uncle Gordon Roberts who died during the Anzio campaign. Chilton was a decorated Green Beret veteran of Korea who later trained Israeli fighters.

Unfortunately, out of nearly three hundred veterans of the Third Infantry Division, only two or three remembered his uncle, but several mentioned Conner. With what seemed his last option, Chilton wrote to Conner, who replied that he had been, in fact, Gordon Robert’s Platoon Sergeant at the time he was killed. However, the promised follow-up letter with more details never arrived.

Among those who pushed for the Medal of Honor was his former commander in World War II, retired Maj. Gen. Lloyd B. Ramsey, who filed an affidavit in which he wrote, “There is no doubt that Lt. Conner should have been awarded a Medal of Honor for his actions. One of the most disappointing regrets of my career is not having the Medal of Honor awarded to the most outstanding Soldier I’ve ever had the privilege of commanding.”

Before he died, the late Maj. Gen. Ramsey signed the necessary documents for awarding the Medal of Honor to Conner.

Conner’s death only strengthened the resolve of his friends and advocates, for they now no longer needed to be concerned with Conner’s sensitivity to the subject of the Medal of Honor. Pauline fully supported the effort and believed that her husband, so quiet and unassuming, would have been less averse to a posthumous award.

Paperwork was sent to U.S. Army Board of Correction of Military Records which first rejected Conner’s application in 1997 on its merits and turned away an appeal in June 2000, saying at the time that no new evidence warranted a hearing or a new decoration despite more than a dozen letters of support from Soldiers who served with 1st Lt. Conner that were included in the retroactive petition.

In the years that followed, lawmakers in Kentucky, Tennessee and three other states passed resolutions backing the effort to see Conner receive the Medal of Honor.Conner’s fellow Soldiers also filed affidavits crediting Conner not only with helping save the lives of fellow Soldiers, but also with being key to defeating the Germans in the battle.

A bipartisan group of current and former members of Congress has backed Conner’s application in the past, including retired Sen. Bob Dole, a Kansas Republican and World War II veteran; retired Sen. Wendell Ford, a Democrat from Kentucky; current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky; and Whitfield, who represents Conner’s home town near the Tennessee line. Noted World War II historian Steven Ambrose, who died in 2002, wrote in November 2000 to support Conner’s application, saying his actions were “far above the call of duty.”

The Rhode Island Senate offered a resolution on June 1, 2005 that called on Congress to award the Medal of Honor to Conner. The resolution states, in part, that Conner served over 800 days on the front lines. In the same resolution, seven former generals voiced support for Conner to receive the Medal of Honor.

After Chilton found three eyewitness accounts to Conner’s deeds in 2006, Pauline Conner resubmitted the case to the board in 2008 – two years after the statute of limitations expired.

The review board remained unmoved by Conner’s submission. “The most recent information received December 22, 2008 is not new evidence and does not warrant granting an exception to the above cited regulation and a formal hearing,” wrote Conrad V. Meyer, the director of the Army Board for Correction of Military Records on Feb. 9, 2009.

While the military board has upgraded other recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross to a Medal of Honor, the action is rare. As of 2012, the last year available, 178 Distinguished Service Crosses had been elevated to Medal of Honor status out of 13,000 issued since 1917. Military policy dictates that the first decoration must be re-examined, re-justified, and then re-evaluated with new evidence before any action can be taken. Photo is Bernie Atkins whose DSC was upgraded to a Medal of Honor in 2015.

Although an effort was made to secure a Medal of Honor for Conner, the award of the medal was denied in 2014 by a U.S. District Judge on a technicality. U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell, in an 11-page opinion said a technicality will prevent Pauline Conner of Albany, Ky., from continuing her campaign on behalf of her husband, who died in 1998. Russell concluded that Pauline Conner waited too long to present new evidence to the U.S. Army Board of Correction of Military Records, which rejected her bid to alter her husband’s service record.

Russell praised Conner’s “extraordinary courage and patriotic service,” but said there was nothing he could do for the family. “Dismissing this claim as required by technical limitations in no way diminishes Lt. Conner’s exemplary service and sacrifice,” Russell wrote.

The Conner family history, buried in military service, does not begin with 1st Lt. Conner; but dates back to the early beginnings of America with Lawrence Conner, according to their family’s historical records. Lawrence Conner arrived in America as an indentured servant emigrating from Dublin, Ireland. Family historical documents state that he served with the 8th and 12th Virginia Regiments during the Revolutionary War.

Murl was never awarded the Medal of Honor due to an oversight and failure to process the paperwork. However, there is still a glimmer of hope for Conner to receive the Medal of Honor. In 2015, the issue was ordered into mediation by a circuit court and the award is now under consideration. Also, keep in mind that the military can also conduct a further review at the behest of Congress.

17
Aug

AC2 Hoyt Axton US Navy (1957-1961)

View the service history of Actor, Singer, Songwriter

axtonAC2 Hoyt Axton

US Navy

(1957-1961)

Shadow box:
http://navy.togetherweserved.com/profile/607613

Short Bio: In the late-fifties, Hoyt left college to join the Navy, where he served a hitch as a carrier sailor. Although he already had thoughts at that point of pursuing a musical career, he kept athletically active in the service by boxing. He vividly recalls scoring a TKO in the ring, in less than a minute during a grudge match arranged by his Division Officer, over another sailor who had broken his nose with a sucker punch one day while they were standing in the chow line. “I didn’t even spill my applesauce,” Hoyt recalls. Professing to this day that he doesn’t have a ‘flight’ mechanism, Hoyt went after the other man on the spot. They were quickly broken up, however, and the boxing match arranged.

“I knocked him down three times in 56 seconds of the first round,” Hoyt remembers with relish. “He finally took off his gloves, climbed out of the ring, picked up a folding chair and struck a threatening pose. I motioned for him to come on back in the ring with it, but he didn’t.” Hoyt went on to become the Heavyweight Champion of a task force of 35 ships.

15
Aug

Military Myths and Legends: The Battleship in Union Square

In 1917 the U.S. Navy built a full-size battleship in New York City’s Union Square Park near the entrance to the subway and faced south. It would stay there for the next three years. The ship – USS Recruit – was commissioned as a normal seagoing ship, under the command of Acting Captain C. F. Pierce and with a complement of thirty-nine bluejackets from the Newport Training Station. It functioned as a recruiting office and training center with sailors training on the ship to demonstrate a small part of navy life to potential civilian recruits. The Navy also offered public access and tours of the ship, allowing civilians to familiarize themselves with how a Navy warship was operated.

The accommodations aboard USS Recruit included fore and aft full officer’s quarters, a wireless station, doctor’s quarters and examination rooms to assess the health of potential candidates, a heating and ventilation system that was capable of changing the temperature of the air inside the ship ten times within the span of an hour, and cabins for the accommodation of the sailors of its crew.

Constructed from wood, two high cage masts, a conning tower, and a single dummy smokestack matched Recruit’s silhouette to the layout of seagoing U.S. battleships of the time. Three twin turrets contained a total of six wooden versions of 14-inch (360 mm) guns, providing the ship’s ‘main battery’. Ten wooden 5-inch (130 mm) guns in casemates represented the secondary anti-torpedo-boat weaponry of a battleship, while two replicas of one-pounder saluting guns completed the ship’s ‘armament’.

According to the August 1917 edition of Popular Science, the USS Recruit followed the normal navy routine. Sailors rose at 6 a.m., scrubbed the decks, did their laundry, and attended instructional classes. They then stood guard over the ship and were available to answer questions from visitors. By night, all the ship’s lights were turned on, including a series of searchlights.

Following its completion and commissioning, the Landship USS Recruit hosted a variety of different events and receptions intended to bring civilians aboard the ship, the first of which took place on the afternoon of September 8, 1917. Some events were of a patriotic nature in keeping with the wartime spirit, including the presentation and unfurling of a recreated Betsy Ross American flag, while others featured famous opera singer Mabel Garrison to Chief Bald Eagle who can be seen posing with a Colt-Browning M1895. There were also social dances for New York’s socialites.

The New York Times reported at the time that the “Landship” as a recruiting tool had helped the U.S. Navy recruit 25,000 men into joining the Navy and Marine Corps – 625 times the size of her own crew, and enough to crew twenty-eight Nevada-class battleships.

After spending over two years in Union Square, the Landship USS Recruit was decommissioned and dismantled for moving to Coney Island’s Luna Park, where the Navy intended to maintain it as a recruiting depot following its success at its Union Square location. Recruit remained in Union Square for the duration of the war until she was decommissioned and lowered her colors in March 16, 1920, she was disassembled over several days and according to the New York Times was destined to be moved to Luna Park on Coney Island as an attraction however, she was never reassembled and little is known of New York’s own ‘Landship’.

Almost 30 years later, USS Recruit’s legacy continued with the landlocked training ship USS Recruit (TDE-1) part of the installations at the San Diego Naval Training Center. Not a dreadnought like her predecessor, she was a two-thirds scale Dealey-class destroyer escort. She was used to train recruits from 1949 until the base was closed in 1997.The Recruit still stands, unused, adjacent to a retail area of Liberty Station, as the redeveloped base is known.

12
Aug

LTJG Jack Curlee U.S. Navy (1943-1946)

Read the service memories of US Navy Veteran:

profileLTJG Jack Curlee

U.S. Navy

(1943-1946)

Shadow Box: http://navy.togetherweserved.com/bio/jdcnavy

PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE NAVY?

During World War II, almost everyone that could serve, did serve, and wanted to serve. You could decide to enlist, or if not, the government could decide for you by drafting you. I enlisted in the Navy’s V-12 program which then took me to the USNR Midshipmen’s School in New York City for commissioning.

My brother, George Brooks Curlee, served as a Sergeant in the Army’s 70th Infantry Division (Trailblazers), in Germany during World War II. He was wounded and MIA but made it safely home after the war.

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK.

While attending the V-12 program at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, I received the remaining hours I needed to graduate from Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) with a degree in mechanical engineering. While I was at API, I played varsity baseball for three years.

When I went to the USNR Midshipmen’s School in New York City, I focused on becoming an engineering officer. I was then sent to the diesel engineering school in Flint, MI. After that, I was assigned as the engineering officer aboard USS LST-78 for the entire time I was in the South Pacific and assisted in its decommissioning upon return to the United States. I was then sent to NAS Green Cove Springs, FL, where I assisted in decommissioning the USS Stern (DE 187).

IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN COMBAT OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE ACTIONS WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.

As the engineering officer aboard USS LST-78, I participated in the Okinawa Gunto operation, which was the amphibious landing, assault and occupation of Okinawa, during May and June 1945. It was also called Operation Iceberg. Photo is of our ship on a beach after offloading troops and equipment.

We saw the USS Birmingham (CL-62) get hit by a Japanese kamikaze plane on May 4, 1945 off Okinawa. The plane hit her starboard deck forward, carrying a 500 lb. bomb which penetrated to the sick bay three levels below deck before exploding. About fifty crew members were killed in the attack. The plane’s pilot was found dead in the water, having been ejected from the aircraft. She was able to steam to Pearl Harbor for repairs. It was terrible to witness such an event.

Historian’s Notes: Following the Japanese attacking on Pearl Harbor and the loss of many American held Pacific outposts, the United States launched a counter-offensive strike known as “island-hopping.” The idea was to capture certain key islands, one after another, until Japan came within range of American bombers. The final island in this strategy was Okinawa and capturing the four airfields on the island that America needed to launch bombing raids on Japan’s industrial heartland and to use the island itself as a base of operations for the planned invasion of Japanese mainland.

The invasion of Okinawa on April 1, 1945, the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War of World War II began and ended with the heaviest concentration of naval gunfire ever used to support an amphibious landing. Positioned off the beaches were ten American battleships, nine cruisers, 23 destroyers and destroyer escorts, and 117 rocket gunboats. Together they fired 3,800 tons of shells at Okinawa during the first 24 hours.

The landing force consisted of 60,000 American troops (two Marine divisions and two Army divisions). Initially they landed unopposed but as the force moved inland they found 130,000 Japanese dug into caves and tunnels on the high ground away from the beaches. They had been told by their commanding general to fight to the death.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

My only shipboard assignment was the USS LST-78. One of our anti-aircraft gunners misidentified a PBY as an enemy aircraft and then shot it down. The pilot was fortunately able to crash land the aircraft with no loss of life. Sometime later, the pilot tried to board our ship with a drawn .45 cal. automatic pistol. He wanted to kill the gunner who shot him down! He was restrained and taken away. It is hard to understand how the gunner could make such a mistake, though, because a PBY was one of the most recognizable aircraft ever manufactured!

I have great memories of the officers and men aboard ship. Chief Motor Machinist’s Mate, later Chief Petty Officer James Leach and I were close, and we reconnected many years later via the Ohio LST/Amphibs Association and reminisced about our times together in the Navy during WWII.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?

My brother, Brooks Curlee (at left in photo) and me in Pasadena, CA on Jan. 1, 1946, just before we went to the Rose Bowl.

I had just returned from the South Pacific, and was in San Francisco, preparing to assist in the decommissioning of USS LST-78. My brother, who had been wounded and MIA with the 70th Infantry Division (Trailblazers), U.S. Army in Europe, was stationed in southern California. What are the chances that brothers stationed in opposite parts of the world could end up so near each other and go to a football game together! The University of Alabama beat the University of Southern California 34-10. More irony? We both graduated from Auburn!

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICE YOU RECEIVED, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE ONE(S) MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

The Asiatic-Pacific Campaign medal with a battle star for the Okinawa Gunto Operation. I was proud to have participated.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

Chief Motor Machinist’s Mate James Leach had the greatest impact on me while I served aboard USS-LST 78. Although I had a mechanical engineering degree and had completed the diesel engineering school, being immediately assigned as the engineering officer of a ship was daunting to say the least. He was an experienced NCO and knew the engine room inside and out. I took care of him (I helped him make Chief Petty Officer) and he took care of me!

In the photograph that is me on the left and James Leach on the far right.

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?

One time the ship’s captain asked to inspect the engine room. He came down and took one look at the auxiliary engines, which apparently was sufficient for him and he left. He never even went into the main engine room! He never came down to the engine room again and we believe he never realized that he had not seen the main engines!

The captain also ordered release of the stern anchor much too early during a beaching process. Naturally, all the chain was run out and the anchor was lost. He had to request a replacement anchor much to his embarrassment!

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?

I worked my entire civilian career as a sales engineer and a sales manager for two large equipment manufacturing firms. I’ve been retired for many years.

In this photo I am surrounding with my wonderful family on the occasion of my 90th Birthday, March 22, 2012.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

I learned mostly to be organized and prepared. Preparation and training are the keys for almost any event you may face.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE NAVY?

Learn everything you can and learn to accept constructive criticism without taking it too personally.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.

I’ve enjoyed reliving my time in the Navy on TWS. It allowed me to put things in perspective chronologically. I’ve also remembered many things I had forgotten until I started writing them down for TWS.

Photo is of the Engineering Division aboard USS LST-78, DEC44. I am shown at the far right of the first row.

10
Aug

America’s First Military Draft

In the spring of 1861, decades of simmering tensions between the northern and southern United States, over issues including states’ rights versus federal authority, westward expansion, and slavery, exploded into the American Civil War. Since neither the Union nor the Confederacy relied on conscription to fill the ranks, both sides believed volunteers would be enough to do the fighting – which was expected to be over by the end of summer 1861. However, as the one-year mark neared, it became obvious to the Confederacy and the Union that the war would last much longer and its armies would need many more soldiers in the increasingly violent and protracted conflict.

But it wasn’t until the Battle of Shiloh on April 6 & 7, 1862 that the need became critical enough to address. The battle began when the Confederates launched a surprise attack on General Ulysses S. Grant’s Union forces in southwestern Tennessee. After initial successes, the Confederates were unable to hold their positions against fresh union reinforcements and were forced back, resulting in a Union victory. Both sides suffered nearly 25,000 casualties killed, wounded, or missing€“ it was the bloodiest single day of the Civil War so far. The glaring deficiency in troop numbers prompted Confederate President Jefferson Davis to quickly authorize the first Conscription Act on April 16, 1862.

This legislation required all white males aged eighteen to thirty-five to serve three years of Confederate service if called. Soldiers already in the military would now be obligated to serve an additional twenty-four months. Five days later, the Confederate government passed the Exemption Act, which excused from military service select government employees, workers deemed necessary to maintain society (such as teachers, railroad workers, skilled tradesmen, ministers and owners of twenty or more slaves.) Substitution was an additional way to avoid the draft, though the Confederate Congress abolished the unpopular practice in December 1863. However, even before the 1862 Conscription Act, a group of Unionists in Arkansas known as The Peace Society were essentially drafted after their arrest, being given the choice between enlisting or face a trial.

Exemption and substitution were just two of the many reasons conscription was controversial. Governors considered that a draft assigning soldiers to Confederate national service was an usurpation of their state authority. Those who had volunteered in April 1861 and whose enlistments were expiring resented the additional two years of obligatory service. Draftees, who had not volunteered in the initial excitement of 1861 and were less enthusiastic about the Confederate cause, were not eager to leave their homes and families.

The first conscription act was only moderately successful, and a second was passed in September 1862. This legislation raised the draft age to forty-five. A third conscription act in February 1864 stipulated that boys of seventeen and men up to fifty would be eligible for reserve duty.

The draft was especially problematic and difficult to enforce in Arkansas, and figures for Union and Confederate conscription are difficult to quantify. The Union victory at the Battle of Pea Ridge fought March 6 & €“8, 1862, one month prior to the enactment of Confederate conscription, meant that the pro-Confederate administration of Arkansas Governor Henry Rector no longer had full autonomy statewide. Resistance to Confederate conscription was also noteworthy in the highlands of Arkansas, where there was little investment in slavery. In the Ouachita Mountains, men who had avoided conscription efforts fought with Confederate forces in the February 15, 1863 Skirmish at McGraw’s Mill, resulting in a Confederate victory.

The Union government instituted its own draft a year later in March 1863. The Enrollment Act required all able-bodied men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five to serve in the local units of their state militias. In the decades prior to the Civil War, these laws were rarely enforced; state militias, such as they were, served more as social clubs than military units, with parading and picnicking more common than artillery and musketry drill. In the first year of the war, the militia system was the template to organize volunteer recruits into local regiments. Now, states would be legally required to fill quotas apportioned by the War Department. These troops were to serve for up to nine months. The Union government allowed some exceptions for certain occupations and physical disabilities, and for religious conscientious objectors.

Like the Confederate conscription act, the Union’s state militia draft of 1862 achieved only moderate results. A more permanent procedure would be needed to provide necessary troops. To this end, President Lincoln signed the Enrollment Act on March 3, 1863, which called for a Federal draft that summer. Exemptions from the draft could be bought for $300 or by finding a substitute draftee. Protesters, outraged that exemptions were effectively granted only to the wealthiest U.S. citizens, led to bloody draft riots in New York City where eleven African Americans were killed by angry mobs in July 1863. Immigrants and the poor were especially resentful of the methods used by wealthier citizens to avoid service.

In both the North and the South, compulsory service embittered the public, who considered it an infringement on individual free will and personal liberty and feared it would concentrate arbitrary power in the military. Believing with some justification that unwilling soldiers made poor fighting men, volunteer soldiers despised conscripts. Conscription also undercut morale, as soldiers complained that it compromised voluntary enlistments and appeared as an act of desperation in the face of repeated military defeats.

Conscription nurtured substitutes, bounty-jumping, and desertion. Charges of class discrimination were leveled against both Confederate and Union draft laws since exemption and commutation clauses allowed propertied men to avoid service, thus laying the burden on immigrants and men with few resources. Occupational, only-son, and medical exemptions created many loopholes in the laws. Doctors certified healthy men unfit for duty, while some physically or mentally deficient conscripts went to the front after sham examinations. Enforcement presented obstacles of its own; many conscripts simply failed to report for duty. Several states challenged the draft’s legality, trying to block it and arguing over the quota system. Unpopular, unwieldy, and unfair, conscription raised more discontent than it raised soldiers.

In the Union and Confederacy, conscription was partially meant to encourage voluntary enlistment, as those who joined as volunteers were eligible to receive bounty money (enlistment bonuses) from states, counties, cities, and the federal government – in some cases totaling a sum upwards of $1,000. However, these bounties created the problem of bounty jumping, wherein men would volunteer, collect the money, then desert and re-enlist elsewhere and collect that money as well.

Neither the North nor South exercised full control within the state through the remainder of the war. Regardless, the primary purpose of conscription was never to raise substantial numbers of troops but to spur enlistment. In this aspect, at least, Union and Confederate conscription achieved some success.

Although the Civil War saw the first compulsory conscription of U.S. citizens for wartime service, a 1792 act by Congress required that all able-bodied male citizens purchase a gun and join their local state militia. There was no penalty for noncompliance with this act. Congress also passed a Conscription Act during the War of 1812, but the war ended before it was enacted. During the Civil War, the government of the Confederate States of America also enacted a compulsory military draft. The U.S. enacted a military draft again during World War I, in 1940 to make the U.S. ready for its involvement in World War II, and during the Korean War. The last U.S. military draft occurred during the Vietnam War.

8
Aug

SP5 Pat Sajak US Army (Served 1968-1970)

pat sajakView the service history of Game Show Host:

SP5 Pat Sajak

US Army

(Served 1968-1970)

View his service profile on http://army.togetherweserved.com/profile/371601
Short Bio: Sajak became an Army disc jockey, a job he held for 18 months. Sajak didn’t love a lot of the military’s radio rules, so he circumvented them. He later told the New York Times, “If you said your name, you were supposed to say your rank – specialist fifth class, which kind of ruins your patter. So on the radio I would just not say my name at all. I went for a year on radio without ever identifying myself.”

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