Profiles in Courage

Alexander Sandy Bonnyman, U.S. Marine Corps (1942-1943)

Alexander Sandy Bonnyman, U.S. Marine Corps (1942-1943)

Alexander Sandy Bonnyman was as American as a young man in the 1940s could possibly get. He was born in Atlanta in 1910, but his father moved the family to Knoxville, Tennessee, to take the presidency of the Blue Diamond Coal Company. Young Alex graduated from public schools in his youth and attended Princeton University, where he became a star athlete on the football team.  Alexander Sandy Bonnyman Answered the Call to Service When his grades slipped at Princeton in 1932, Bonnyman decided he had a higher calling than engineering and football. He dropped out of college and joined the Army Air Corps. But although he was an excellent airman, the stick of a fighter plane wasn't where he belonged. He left the Air Corps to follow in his dad's footsteps. His lasting legacy, however, came when his country needed him. He answered the call to service, even though he didn't have to, and would receive the Medal of Honor for leading his outnumbered Marines to victory at Tarawa.  Being...

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Brig Gen James Robinson Risner, U.S. Air Force (1943 – 1976)

Brig Gen James Robinson Risner, U.S. Air Force (1943 – 1976)

James Robinson Risner was a man of humble origins, son of an Arkansas sharecropper, educated at secondary school level, not particularly ambitious, a common man save for two things: He could fly the hell out of an airplane; and, under terribly difficult circumstances as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam, he rose to a level of heroic leadership matched by few men in American military history. Born in Mammoth Springs, Arkansas on Jan. 16, 1925 and raised in a religious family, Robinson Risner made his first critical life choice between attending Bible College or joining the Army Air Forces during World War II. When he passed the tough entrance exam for pilot training by one point, his future aloft was set. Flying came easily to the gifted trainee, which led to a coveted assignment flying fighters after graduation. But Robbie's repeated requests for combat duty were ignored by the Army's personnel system, and he spent the rest of the war defending the Panama Canal. Postwar peace and...

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Staff Sgt. Edward Carter Jr., U.S. Army (1932-1949)

Staff Sgt. Edward Carter Jr., U.S. Army (1932-1949)

Biography of Edward Carter Jr. A career Army noncommissioned officer, Edward Carter Jr. was born May 26, 1916, in Los Angeles, California. He was the son of missionary parents who went to the Far East and finally settled in Shanghai, China. Edward ran away from this home when he was a young teen to begin a military exodus. However, it was not to be an ordinary journey as his material and spiritual paths intertwined. His first tour was short-lived, yet not too short to prevent the 15-year-old Carter from rising to the rank of Lieutenant in the Chinese Army. When he was discovered to still be a child, Edward was promptly discharged and returned to his parents. It was also long enough for Carter to believe he was visited by a spirit in the Chinese Army and informed him would be a great warrior but would not die in war. Now having a spiritual military destiny, as soon as he was old enough, Edward enrolled in a Shanghai military school. There he received extensive combat...

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Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, U.S. Army (1988–2005)

Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, U.S. Army (1988–2005)

Alwyn Cashe personified everything the U.S. Army could possibly want in a Soldier. He was calm, cool, collected, and dedicated not just to the mission. He was dedicated to his men. That dedication would ultimately result in Sgt. Cashe gave up his life to save six others.  The Heroism of Sgt. Alwyn Cashe: Dedication Beyond Duty Cashe was born into a poor family in Oviedo, Florida, in 1970. He joined the U.S. Army 1989 as a Supply Specialist, but by 1993, he was retrained as an infantryman. He served in the Army as a squad leader, a Drill Sergeant, and, ultimately, a Platoon Sergeant. His career included deployments in the 1991 Gulf War, the former Yugoslavia, and the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. But his second deployment to Iraq in 2005 would forever cement his legacy. On October 17, 2005, Cashe was deployed to Salah Ad Din Province, Iraq, with the U.S. Army's 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. While on a nighttime mounted patrol near Samarra, his Bradley Fighting Vehicle was hit...

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Lt. Russell J. Brown, U.S. Air Force (1948-1955)

Lt. Russell J. Brown, U.S. Air Force (1948-1955)

Jet fighters first made an appearance in the German Luftwaffe during World War II, but the technology had come a long way by the time the Korean War started in 1950. At first, the North Korean air forces were flying Soviet-built propeller-driven fighters, and the United States forces were flying American-made P-51 Mustangs and Vought F4U Corsairs. As the war dragged on, both sides got substantial upgrades.  When the Korean People's Air Force started flying the MiG-15, it was clear that the propeller fighters were outmatched by Soviet-built aircraft and Soviet-trained Chinese and North Korean pilots. MiG-15s were very good at intercepting B-29 Superfortress bombers and engaging their fighter escorts. They wreaked havoc on prop fighters. They were faster and more numerous than anything the United Nations forces could muster.  While the F-86 Sabre was sent to Korea to counter the growing MiG-15 threat, they would not arrive until December 1950. Until then, the U.S. Air Force...

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Sgt James M. Logan, U.S. Army (1936-1945)

Sgt James M. Logan, U.S. Army (1936-1945)

Texas native James M. Logan was the embodiment of the U.S. military's greatest tactical weapon: its Non-Commissioned Officer Corps. Every branch has some kind of saying about NCOs. They're the backbone of the Air Force, they lead the way in the Army, and in the Marine Corps, they wear special swords.  If you want to see how poorly an armed force without NCOs performs in combat, just look at how the Russians are doing in Ukraine. The Heroic Journey of Sgt. James M. Logan Sgt. James M. Logan was one of the first American troops to hit the beaches of Salerno on Sept. 9, 1943 and almost immediately, he and his fellow soldiers found themselves under a heavy German assault. Logan, unlike many of the men with him on the beaches that day, wasn't a conscript and would show the Nazis and Fascist defenders what it means to be a professional soldier. Logan grew up in Luling, Texas during the Great Depression. Like a lot of Americans at the time, he had to help the family make ends meet. By...

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CPT Joe Ronnie Hooper, U.S. Army (1956-1978)

CPT Joe Ronnie Hooper, U.S. Army (1956-1978)

Joe Ronnie Hooper had his share non-judicial punishments (authorized by Article 15 of UCMJ), racked up 115 confirmed kills and was awarded the Medal of Honor. He was also one of the most decorated soldiers in American international combat. Joe Hooper's Early Life Born in the summer of 1938 in South Carolina, Joe Ronnie Hooper was relocated as a child to Moses Lake, Washington where he attended Moses Lake High School. Originally a Navy man, Hooper first enlisted in December of 1956. After graduation from boot camp at San Diego, California he served as an Airman aboard USS Wasp (CV-18) and USS Hancock (CV-19). He was honorably discharged in July 1959, shortly after being advanced to Petty Officer Third Class. The next year, Hooper enlisted in the US Army as a Private First Class. After graduating Basic Training, he volunteered for Airborne School. From there he did tours of duty in Fort Bragg, Korea, and Fort Hood, eventually making his way to Fort Campbell's 101st Airborne Division....

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Sgt Peter Lemon, U. S. Army (1968-1972)

Sgt Peter Lemon, U. S. Army (1968-1972)

The tall man in an immaculate business suit looked across the crowded classroom at more than a hundred young faces. He was an imposing figure, over six feet tall and broad of shoulder. Yet he spoke with a quiet gentleness that captivated the children. At the back of the room stood an impatient cameraman from the local TV station. He had come to interview a rare hero, a living Medal of Honor recipient. It seemed, however, that Peter Lemon was more interested in talking to the children than in talking to the camera. And he wasn't even talking about himself or his own heroic actions decades earlier. Instead, the hero, pausing from time to time to compose himself, talked of three friends who had died the night of his action. Peter Lemon: the Heroic Night and the Price of Sacrifice On that spring day in 1993, there were only 204 living Americans authorized to wear the Medal of Honor. Mr. Lemon was one of them, yet he had shown up in business attire, no Medal draped around his neck. The...

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Sgt. John McVeigh, U.S. Army (1942-1944)

Sgt. John McVeigh, U.S. Army (1942-1944)

The port of Brest was a critical objective for the Allied forces fighting in France after D-Day. To break out of their relatively small portion of France, the Allied liberators needed 37 divisions by September 1944, along with the 26,000 tons of materiel to supply them. To make this happen, they needed Brest and its port.  The Overlooked Battle: the Battle for Brest Given its importance, it's surprising that the Battle for Brest is often overshadowed in D-Day history. Admittedly, a lot was happening at the same time. Allied forces surrounded and destroyed German defenders in Normandy. Gen. George S. Patton began his fast-paced thrust across the country, and Allied soldiers were bogged down in hedgerow country.  Even with all that in mind, however, the Allies could not maintain those gains and their foothold in Nazi-occupied Europe with the port of Brest. 75,000 Allied troops began an assault on the heavily-defended city on August 7, 1944, despite the heroism of men like...

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LtGen Arthur MacArthur Jr., U.S. Army (1861-1909)

LtGen Arthur MacArthur Jr., U.S. Army (1861-1909)

With no less than 620,000 deaths recorded over four years of intense fighting between Confederate and Union forces, the American Civil War remains the bloodiest conflict in American history. Playing host to battles such as Shiloh, Antietam, Stones River, and Gettysburg, the Civil War holds tales of unprecedented violence, ferocious bravery, and unparalleled heroism. Among these many tales is that of Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur Jr. whose bravery at the most critical moment inspired his regiment during the Battle of Missionary Ridge. Arthur MacArthur Jr.'s Biography MacArthur Jr. was born in the Chicopee Falls area of Springfield, Massachusetts on June 2, 1845. His mother Aurelia was the daughter of Benjamin B. Belcher, a wealthy industrialist. She would die at the age of 45, leaving behind Arthur and his brother, Frank. MacArthur's father, Arthur MacArthur Sr., was a prominent judge and the fourth governor of Wisconsin. With his father's influence, MacArthur enrolled in the...

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Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone, U.S. Marine Corps (1934-45)

Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone, U.S. Marine Corps (1934-45)

Today's United States Marines have many idols. Unsurprisingly, these are often other Marines, Marines who served in wars past but distinguished themselves and exemplified what it means to call oneself a United States Marine. Few of these idols loom as large as Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone.  Basilone was born to an Italian family in Upstate New York and raised in New Jersey. He was working as a golf caddy when he decided to join the Army in 1934. It was, of course, years before the United States entered World War II. He spent three years in the Philippines, a place he would come to love.  John Basilone Came Back to the Military Service John Basilone loved Manila so much, in fact, that after he left the Army and became a truck driver, he decided he would re-enlist to get back to Manila as fast as possible. Thinking the Marine Corps would get him there faster, he joined the Marines instead of the Army in 1940. He was sent to Guantanamo Bay instead.  After the Japanese...

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MajGen Frank Baldwin, U.S. Army (1861-1906)

MajGen Frank Baldwin, U.S. Army (1861-1906)

Receiving the Medal of Honor for valor in combat puts one in the hallowed company of but a few thousand individuals to ever grace the earth. But by the time you earn two Medals of Honor, you are one of 19 persons to have ever done so. Perhaps it is because the Medal of Honor is quite often awarded posthumously but receiving two and living to talk about it is a rare feat in the world. Frank Baldwin would do just that in the 1800s and live to become a General by World War 1. His first would come during the American Civil War in an era where men lined up in neat rows and took turns shooting at each other. The next would be on the American frontier as the rapidly expanding America put itself in increasing conflict with the Native Americans pushed west. And while each conflict is the subject of intense historical debate, the gallantry of a man on either side when the bullets start to fly is often the least controversial part of it all. Frank Baldwin's Early Life A native of Michigan,...

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