Profiles in Courage

Maj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow, U.S. Army (1952–1994)

Maj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow, U.S. Army (1952–1994)

Sidney Shachnow was born in Lithuania in 1934, Sidney Shachnow faced oppression in his homeland and found his calling in the U.S. Army after immigrating to America in 1950. Sidney Shachnow enlisted in the military in 1955 and served for more than 39 years, including 32 in the Special Forces community. His top posts included leadership of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School and U.S. Army Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg and U.S. Army-Berlin in Germany. "Maj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow truly lived the American dream," said officials at the Special Warfare Center and School, which the general commanded from 1991 until his retirement in 1994. "He came up through the ranks from private to major general through hard work and selfless service to this nation and the men and women under his command." Along the way, the general became a legendary Special Forces officer, revered by many in the close-knit community of Green Berets. As a 7-Year-Old Boy, Shachnow was Imprisoned in...

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Capt Stephen Decatur, U.S. Navy (1798–1820)

Capt Stephen Decatur, U.S. Navy (1798–1820)

In the world of American Naval heroes, few figures loom as large over Navy history as that of Stephen Decatur. He was among the first American military heroes to come to prominence after the American Revolution, the youngest sailor ever promoted to Captain in U.S. Navy history, and a veteran of three wars. With every battle in every war he fought, Stephen Decatur's service exemplified the heroism and bravery of the Navy, no matter what his rank he was at the time. Stephen Decatur Was Brought into the World of Ships and Sailing Early On Decatur was practically raised in the Navy, as his father, Stephen Decatur, Sr., was a commodore during the American Revolution. The younger Decatur entered the naval service at just 19 years old. Within six years, he would be Captain of his own ship.  Even for sailors of his time, he was something of an anomaly. He was by no means ignorant but found his time at university less than thrilling, so he got a job supervising the construction of the...

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The Dogs of the Vietnam War

The Dogs of the Vietnam War

Former dog sentry handler Richard Cunningham shared a history about well-trained dogs as a new kind of warfare. In the Vietnam War about 350 dogs were killed in action and 263 handlers were killed. When U.S. forces exited from Vietnam only 200 of the dogs made it back to the states. "I would wager that 90 percent of American combat troops killed in action during the Vietnam War never saw their killers. Whether it was a sniper at 200 yards, a rocket fired into a base camp or an attack from a well-concealed bunker complex, the element of surprise was usually on the side of our enemies. But our forces did have one elite weapon that sometimes took the advantage away. At times, these weapons even turned such situations upside down and enabled us to surprise and take them out. That elite weapon were our military working dogs in Vietnam War, and we had thousands of them. Military Working Dogs Were the Elite Weapon in the Vietnam War I was a sentry dog handler in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968, a...

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Ernie Pyle – Famous WWII War Correspondent

Ernie Pyle – Famous WWII War Correspondent

American journalist Ernest Taylor "Ernie" Pyle was one of the most famous war correspondents of WWII. Using his folksy writing style, Pyle connected with his readers and brought the realities of the battlefront to living rooms across America. At his peak, his columns appeared in 400 daily and 300 weekly newspapers. His devoted readers included political and military leaders and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. His coverage of campaigns in North Africa, Italy, and France earned him a Pulitzer Prize. While reporting on the war in the Pacific Theater in April 1945, Pyle was killed by enemy machine-gun fire on the Japanese island of le Shima. Born August 3, 1900, in Dana, Indiana, Pyle grew up on a farm. After graduation from high school, he longed for adventure and registered for the WWI Draft and joined the US Naval Reserve. WWI ended before he got a chance to see the world, so Pyle enrolled in journalism classes at Indiana University after returning home. One semester shy of graduation,...

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SFC Ronald Rosser, U.S. Army  (1946-1962) – Medal of Honor Recipient

SFC Ronald Rosser, U.S. Army (1946-1962) – Medal of Honor Recipient

Medal of Honor Recipient Ronald Rosser passed away on Wednesday Aug 26, 2020 in Bumpus Mills, Tenessee at the age of 90 from issues related to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was awarded the medal for his bravery during the Korean War. Ronald Rosser was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1929. His father was a coal miner. When he turned 17, his mother gave birth to twins. He decided there wasn't enough room for him at home, so he followed his brother into the military in 1946. He served for three years and was a part of the occupations of Japan and Germany after World War II. When he left the Army, he returned home to work in the coal mines alongside his father. Rosser's younger brother, Richard, was killed in action during the Korean War. Rosser re-enlisted out of a sense of vengeance. "…I made up my mind that you can't kill my brother and get away with it," he said. Ronald Rosser's Service in the Korean War During the war, his platoon was charged with capturing a hill from the Chinese and...

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Jack Hinson – A Civil War Sniper Hell Bent on Revenge

Jack Hinson – A Civil War Sniper Hell Bent on Revenge

Jack Hinson, better known as "Old Jack" to his family, was a prosperous farmer in Stewart County, Tennessee. A non-political man, he opposed secession from the Union even though he owned slaves. Friends and neighbors described him as a peaceable man, yet despite all this, he would end up going on a one-man killing spree. Jack's plantation was called Bubbling Springs, where he lived with his wife and ten children. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he was fiercely determined to remain neutral. Grant Had Stayed at the Jack Hinson Estate When Union Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant arrived in the area in February 1862, the Jack Hinson hosted the man at their home. The General was so pleased with the plantation that he even turned it into his temporary headquarters. Even when one of their sons joined the Confederate Army, while another joined a militia group, Jack remained strictly neutral. They were content to manage their plantation despite the ongoing conflict. Grant had stayed at...

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Lt. Col. Charles Kettles, U.S. Army (1953-1978)

Lt. Col. Charles Kettles, U.S. Army (1953-1978)

During the early morning hours of May 15, 1967, personnel of the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, were ambushed in the Song Tra Cau riverbed near the Duc Pho District in the South Central Coast of Vietnam by an estimated battalion-sized force of the North Vietnamese Army. The NVA attacked with numerous automatic weapons, machine guns, mortars, and recoilless rifles from a fortified complex of deeply embedded tunnels and bunkers that were effectively shielded from counter fire. Maj. Charles Kettles Volunteered to Lead a Flight of Six UH-1D Upon learning that the 1st Brigade had suffered casualties during an intense firefight with the enemy, then - Maj. Charles Kettles volunteered to lead a flight of six UH-1D helicopters to carry reinforcements to the embattled forces and to evacuate wounded personnel. As the flight approached the landing zone, it came under witheringly deadly enemy fire from multiple directions, with reinforcements hit and killed before they could even leave the...

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Cpt Daniel Inouye, U.S. Army (1943-1947) – Medal of Honor Recipient

Cpt Daniel Inouye, U.S. Army (1943-1947) – Medal of Honor Recipient

Senator Daniel Inouye served in the United States Senate from 1963 until his death in 2012. At the time of his death, he was America's second-longest sitting Senator, which is not at all surprising considering he could easily be considered one of World War II's hardest men to kill. Daniel Inouye's Early Life This Japanese-American, who faced discrimination and segregation, had every reason to sit this war out if he so chose with a bitter heart. But considering he was raised by a father who told him the following upon enlisting by his account: “My father just looked straight ahead, and I looked straight ahead, and then he cleared his throat and said, ‘America has been good to us. It has given me two jobs. It has given you and your sisters and brothers education. We all love this country. Whatever you do, do not dishonor your country. Remember – never dishonor your family. And if you must give your life, do so with honor.” Daniel Inouye was born in 1924 in Honolulu Hawaii, which as a...

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SGM Thomas Payne, U.S. Army (2002-Present)

SGM Thomas Payne, U.S. Army (2002-Present)

On June 15, 2014, the United States launched Operation Inherent Resolve, a three-pronged campaign against the Islamic State terrorist organization (ISIL) that had made stunning advances across Syria, Iraq, and Libya. At its peak, ISIL had an estimated 200,000 fighters and controlled a third of Syria and almost half of Iraq.  The Uneasy Alliance's Role in the Fight against ISIS The fight against ISIL in the region is ongoing today, but the brutality inflicted on civilians by the terror group, and the danger of its spread sparked an uneasy alliance of otherwise geopolitical foes to come together to confront the threat. The U.S. and Western Allies, Russia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Iran all sent forces against ISIL, even if they weren't part of the official coalition.  Between 2014 and 2019, ISIL lost 95% of its territory, including Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city and its declared capital at the Syrian city of Raqqa, and its leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, was killed by the U.S....

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PFC Harold Agerholm, U.S. Marine Corps (1942-1944) – Medal of Honor Recipient

PFC Harold Agerholm, U.S. Marine Corps (1942-1944) – Medal of Honor Recipient

PFC Harold Agerholm had a quiet start to his life. After qualifying from school in Racine, Wisconsin, he worked as a multigraph operator for the Ranch Manufacturing Company. Then in July 1942, he joined the Marine Corps Reserve. Upon completing his recruit training in San Diego, California, Harold Agerholm was sent to the Headquarters and Service Battery, 4th Battalion, 10th Marines, and 2nd Marine Division. He received further training for eleven months with his battalion in Wellington, New Zealand. In January 1943, Agerholm was promoted to Private First Class. In November 1943, a year and a half after first signing up, the young marine took part in the war, engaging with Japanese forces on Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll. It was the first time American forces faced serious opposition to a landing. The 4,500 Japanese soldiers on the island were well prepared and fought to the last man. They extracted a high price for their deaths. Throughout the incredibly intense battle, which lasted...

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MajGen Joshua Chamberlain, U.S. Army (1861 – 1866) – His Lost Medal of Honor

MajGen Joshua Chamberlain, U.S. Army (1861 – 1866) – His Lost Medal of Honor

The long-lost Medal of Honor belonging to the "Lion of Little Round Top" has been found. It awarded to then-Colonel (and later Maj. Gen.) Joshua Chamberlain, for his "distinguished gallantry" in leading the 20th Maine volunteers on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, came by mail to the Pejepscot Historical Society in Maine in July from a donor who wished to remain anonymous. The Location of Joshua Chamberlain's Original Medal of Honor Historians from the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, and the U.S. Army have since verified the authenticity of the Medal. "Though it seems almost too good to be true, we are confident that we are now in possession of Joshua Chamberlain's original Medal of Honor," said Pejepscot Historical Society Director Jennifer Blanchard. "All of the experts we've consulted believe it to be authentic, and we are tremendously honored to return the medal to Chamberlain's home" in Brunswick, Maine, which is now a museum open to the public,...

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