Profiles in Courage

Veteran of Three Wars Under Three Flags

Veteran of Three Wars Under Three Flags

Lauri Allan Torni, later known as Larry Thorne, spent the majority of his life-fighting communists. First, the Soviets while in the service of Finland and Germany during World War II and then the Vietcong and North Vietnamese as a U.S. Army Special Forces officer during the Vietnam War. Biography Veteran of Three Wars Larry Thorne Lauri Torni was born in Finland, the son of a sea captain, in 1919. He enlisted in the Finnish Army at the age of 18 and was near the completion of his enlistment...

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The Incredible Rescue of LtCol Gene Hambleton, U.S. Air Force (1943-1972)

The Incredible Rescue of LtCol Gene Hambleton, U.S. Air Force (1943-1972)

On April 2, 1972, the third day of the Easter Offensive, the largest combined arms operation of the entire Vietnam War, 53-year-old Air Force Lt. Col. Iceal 'Gene' Hambleton was a navigator aboard one of two United States Air Force EB-66 aircraft escorting three B-52s. Bat 21, the call sign for Hambleton's aircraft, was configured to gather signals intelligence, including identifying North Vietnamese anti-aircraft radar installations to enable jamming. (Photo is Bat 21 in Korat Royal Thai Air...

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The Only U.S. Woman POW in WWII Europe

The Only U.S. Woman POW in WWII Europe

On September 27, 1944, a C-47 assigned to the 813th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron lifted off from England into the clear morning sky. Its destination was a landing field at St. Trond, Belgium, to pick up casualties. Since the aircraft usually carried military supplies and troops on the outbound flight and casualties on the return trip, it was not marked with the Red Cross. Aboard the aircraft was 24-year-old Texas-born Second Lt. Reba Whittle, an experienced flight nurse with 40 missions and...

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Side-By-Side

Side-By-Side

Friday morning February 2, 2008 was cold in Baghdad but since Friday is a big shopping day, shoppers crowded the markets throughout the city. At one of Baghdad's most popular gathering places, the al-Ghazl animal market, hundreds of closely packed shoppers moved from stall to stall when suddenly and without warning, a huge explosion shattered the silence, killing dozens of Iraq's. Twenty minutes later, another bomb ripped through an open air market in south eastern Baghdad. The two suicide...

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Col Pierre Julien Ortiz, U.S.M.C. (1942-54)

Col Pierre Julien Ortiz, U.S.M.C. (1942-54)

The first thoughts that come to mind when one thinks about World War II Marines is them landing on bloody beaches and fighting in steamy jungles of the Pacific. But this was not the role of Marine Pierre Julien Ortiz, who served in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. His exploits and dare-devil attitude were things of fiction yet they were all real. He was an American and a Frenchman with a Spanish name and he lived in remarkable times and did remarkable things. His life was a series of...

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Bravest Submariner Who Earned 5 Navy Crosses

Bravest Submariner Who Earned 5 Navy Crosses

Ask any Marine who was Lieutenant General Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller and each would quickly respond by saying. "Why, he was the greatest, bravest and most highly decorated Marine in Marine Corp history." Another would inevitable say, "He was not only a tough, no nonsense Marine he is also the only one awarded five Navy Crosses." Both would be right. During his career, Puller fought guerrillas in Haiti and Nicaragua, and participated in some of the bloodiest battles of World War II and...

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Irena Sendler

Irena Sendler

Often, non-combatant civilians risk their lives by performing quiet yet extraordinary acts of selflessness and gallantry that require just as much bravery as a soldier charging head-on into enemy fire. Irena Sendler was one such civilian. She was a gentle but determined Polish social worker who managed to smuggle 2,500 children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during the Second World War. As amazing as this feat was, she was only internationally honored for her immense bravery toward the end of her...

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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. Brief Navy Service 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...

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VADM John D. Bulkeley, U.S. Navy (1933-1975)

VADM John D. Bulkeley, U.S. Navy (1933-1975)

John D. Bulkeley was a Vice Admiral in the United States Navy and one of its most decorated naval officers. Bulkeley received the Medal of Honor for actions in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He was also the PT boat skipper who evacuated General Douglas MacArthur from Corregidor in the Philippines.  Biography of John D. Bulkeley John D. Bulkeley was born in New York City and grew up on a farm in Hackettstown, New Jersey, where he graduated from Hackettstown High School. He was a 1933...

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Sgt Henry Johnson, U.S. Army (1918-1919) – America’s First World War Hero

Sgt Henry Johnson, U.S. Army (1918-1919) – America’s First World War Hero

Henry Johnson was a World War I soldier who singlehandedly beat back a German assault while critically wounded. He was a great American hero and received the highest military honor of two different countries. One of those countries, however, his very own, didn't bestow that medal until nearly 100 years after his service in WWI. The honor this man deserved was not awarded by the U.S. government upon his return home, because he was black. But that racism was eventually overcome, if only by the...

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Chiune Sugihara – Japanese Schindler Helped 5,580 Jews Escape The Holocaust

Chiune Sugihara – Japanese Schindler Helped 5,580 Jews Escape The Holocaust

Although Japan was one of the Axis Powers during WWII, one Japanese diplomat did his best to mitigate the horrors of his country's ally, Nazi Germany. Before the war ended, he saved thousands of Jews from concentration camps but ended up selling lightbulbs in order to survive. Chiune Sugihara helped Jews escape the Holocaust Chiune Sugihara was first assigned to Harbin, China in the early 1930s as Japan's Deputy Foreign Minister where he learned German and Russian. Despite a promising career,...

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Cpl William Thomas Perkins Jr., U.S.M.C. (1966-1967) – Vietnam War Combat Photographer

Cpl William Thomas Perkins Jr., U.S.M.C. (1966-1967) – Vietnam War Combat Photographer

The only Medal of Honor to be awarded to a combat photographer is now on display in the Medal of Honor Gallery in the "Price of Freedom" exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Marine Cpl. William Thomas Perkins Jr Marine Cpl. William Thomas Perkins Jr. died at the age of 20 on Oct. 12, 1967, when he flung himself on a grenade to preserve the lives of three other Marines during Operation Medina, a Marine search and destroy operation in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam....

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