Richard Ira "Dick" Bong, was born September 24, 1920, in St. Mary's hospital in Superior, Wisconsin. He was the first of nine children born to Carl T. Bong and Dora Bryce Bong, living on a farm near the small town of Poplar, Wisconsin, about 20 miles southeast of Superior. Dick's father came to the United States from Sweden at the age of seven, and his mother was of Scots-English descent. Dick grew up on the family farm and attended the Poplar Grade School. Richard Bong then attended the...
Military Campaign Stories
Service Reflections of Cpl Barry McDown, U.S. Marine Corps (1969-1971)
Within 90 days after Richard Nixon was inaugurated, he sent me an excellent thank you note for being 19 and indicating that he would be pleased if I would show up for work. He very much insisted I report for the draft.
Civil War – Andersonville Prison
There were 150 prison camps on both sides in the Civil War, and they all suffered from disease, overcrowding, exposure, and food shortages. But Andersonville was notorious for being the worst. Some men agreed to freedom and fought for the South as galvanized soldiers, fearing the dangers of imprisonment to be greater than those of the battlefield. Officially named Camp Sumter, the most notorious Civil War stockade was hastily constructed in early 1864 near the town of Andersonville in...
Service Reflections of GMG3 Ronnie Gregory, U.S. Navy (1971-1975)
When I became aware that I was not interested in finishing college in my sophomore year, I sought out the local Coast Guard recruiter, but they were not looking for entry-level recruits at that time. As my draft number was low and I was soon to be status 1A, Dad had served in the Navy in WWII, so I talked to the Navy recruiter and enlisted in December 1971.
The Revolutionary War – The Battle of Saratoga
The road to the American Revolutionary War - or War of Independence - began in the wake of the French and Indian War (1754 - 1763) when the government of King George III of Great Britain decided that the American colonies should share in the costs associated with the War by adding taxes to common goods, such as sugar, molasses and tea. These attempts were met with increasingly stiff resistance. American colonists claimed they were unconstitutional, suggesting that they deserved to have...
Vietnam Beyond by Gerald E. Augustine
When Gerald Augustine shipped off to Vietnam in 1966, he brought a 1949 Kodak Brownie Hawkeye box camera at the behest of his mother. It turned out to be a great decision. About the Author of Vietnam Beyond He used the camera to document his experiences during and after the Vietnam War, and some of these images are included in his new book, "Vietnam Beyond." A Middletown, Connecticut native, Augustine graduated from high school in 1963 and went on to study at Central Connecticut State...
Famous Military Units – HA(L)-3 Seawolves
Steeped in the political turmoil of an unpopular war and faced with unfamiliar terrain, embedded enemy supply practices, and tactics keying on stealth, by 1965, the US faced new and novel threats from Viet Cong forces with no ready recourse. Striving for any means to achieve supremacy, the Army turned to tried-and-true tactics while seeking a breakthrough military strategy. The answer, formation of the all-volunteer Navy Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron 3 (HA(L)-3), quickly renowned by their...
The Hauntings of Okinawa
There are many historical military places where you can experience ghostly specters, cold spells, and reports of things moving around all by themselves. Ghostly cavalry forces still protect F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming. Houses on Fort Leavenworth feature terrifying child ghosts. Baltimore's Fort McHenry is a veritable who's who of the afterlife, with reports of people seeing Abraham Lincoln, Edgar Allen Poe, and even Chief Black Hawk. Nowhere in the U.S. military, however, is more...
Service Reflections of MST3 John Loughrey, U.S. Coast Guard (1969-1973)
Three things influenced my decision to join the Coast Guard.
First, I had just graduated from high school and did not have the drive to attend college.
Service Reflections of CPT Kent Whitman, U.S. Army (1967-1987)
Vietnam cranking up made it easy for me to select ROTC as my elective course while attending the University of Mass Amherst with a college deferment. We need the draft back. I knew I would be called to go after college, so I decided to do it as an Officer. I did well in ROTC, so I was offered a Regular Army Commission instead of the Reserve commission.
Despite them being similarly reserved and not the type of men to brag, I could hardly wait to visit them so I could beg them to tell me war stories. The experiences they shared with me made a lasting impression during my early childhood, which further aroused my desire to serve my country.
SSgt William Hart Pitsenbarger, U.S. Air Force (1962-1966)
Born in 1944 in Piqua, Ohio, William Hart Pitsenbarger was an ambitious only child. He wanted to quit high school to join the U.S. Army Special Forces' "Green Berets," but his parents convinced him to stay in school. After graduating in 1962, Pitsenbarger decided to join the Air Force and on New Year's Eve 1962, he was on a train bound for basic training in San Antonio, Texas. Pitsenbarger's Early Life and Education During his basic training in early 1963, "Pits" - as he was known to his...
Service Reflections of SSgt Rob Matlock, U.S. Air Force (1979-1999)
My father was in Korea, and he regretted not reenlisting and making the USAF a career. He told us stories of his time in the Air Force with such enthusiasm that I wanted to experience what he described. My uncle on my mom’s side learned to fly helicopters in the AF and talked to me about the training that I could receive in the military and how it could help me get a job if I got out. My girlfriend and I talked to an AF Guard recruiter, and I joined ANG at 17 1/2. I went to Basic, and she decided she did not want to go. She married someone else while I was in photographer training.