World War II

Maj Kurt Chew-Een Lee, U.S.M.C. (1945-1968)

Maj Kurt Chew-Een Lee, U.S.M.C. (1945-1968)

Kurt Chew-Een Lee is believed to have been the first Asian-American officer in the Marine Corps, rising through the ranks beginning his career from World War II to the Vietnam War.  Lee was born in 1926 in San Francisco and grew up in Sacramento, California. Lee's father was M. Young Lee, born in Guangzhou (Canton), emigrating in the 1920s to the Territory of Hawaii and then California. Once established in America, M. Young Lee returned to China to honor an arranged marriage. He brought...

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Leadership And the Janitor

Leadership And the Janitor

William "Bill" Crawford was an unimpressive figure, one you could easily overlook during a hectic day at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Mr. Crawford, as most of us referred to him back in the late 1970s, was our Squadron janitor.While we Cadets busied ourselves preparing for academic exams, athletic events, Saturday morning parades, and room inspection, or never-ending leadership classes-Bill quietly moved about the squadron mopping and buffing floors, emptying trash cans, cleaning toilets, or...

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PFC Sixto Escobar, US Army (1941-1945)

PFC Sixto Escobar, US Army (1941-1945)

Sixto Escobar, of the United States Army between 1941 and 1945, was Puerto Rico’s first world boxing champion, and International Boxing Hall of Fame member. Remembered today with the Estadio Sixto Escobar, the San Juan home of River Plate Puerto Rico, as well as many buildings, roads, and statues, he is a favored son of the island territory. Not as many people know, though, that he served in the military during the Second World War as an Army PFC. Remembering Sixto Escobar Escobar was born in...

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Lt. Henry Fonda, U.S. Navy (1942-1946)

Lt. Henry Fonda, U.S. Navy (1942-1946)

Lt. Henry Fonda, of the US Navy between 1942 and 1946, interrupted a prominent career as a film actor in order to serve his country when it needed him most. Fonda’s commanding screen presence made him a favorite of theatergoers for five decades, culminating in an Oscar for his final performance. Henry Fonda’s Stage Beginnings Born in Grand Island, Nebraska, in 1905, Fonda was the son of a printer. Raised in Omaha, he witnessed and was profoundly affected by the horrors of the Omaha race riot...

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Col Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, U.S.M.C.

Col Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, U.S.M.C.

Stories of Gregory "Pappy" Boyington are legion, many founded in fact, including how he led the legendary Black Sheep squadron, and how he served in China as a member of the American Volunteer Group, the famed Flying Tigers. He spent a year and a half as a Japanese POW, was awarded the Medal of Honor and Navy Cross, and was recognized as a Marine Corps top ace. Always hard-drinking and hard-living, Pappy's post-war life was as turbulent as his wartime experiences. Biography of Gregory "Pappy"...

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War in the Pacific – The Battle of Manila

War in the Pacific – The Battle of Manila

On February 3, 1945, American forces entered the outskirts of Manila, capital of the Philippines, beginning the Battle of Manila, a ferocious and destructive urban battle against the Japanese that would leave Manila the second-hardest hit Allied capital (following Warsaw) of World War II.  American Troops Were Able to Rapidly Advance to Manila As part of his campaign to retake the Philippines from the Japanese (who had captured it from the Americans in 1942), General Douglas MacArthur first...

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The Most Decorated Enlisted Sailor in Navy History

The Most Decorated Enlisted Sailor in Navy History

In the history of the United States Navy, only seven men have earned all of the big three valor awards: Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, and Silver Star. Six were World War II officers, including one aviator. The seventh was James Elliott "Willy" Williams - considered the most decorated enlisted man in the history of the Navy. Biography of James Williams Williams, a Cherokee Indian, was born November 13, 1930, in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Two months later he moved with his parents to Darlington,...

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“Go for Broke”

“Go for Broke”

Immediately after Japan's December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and other American bases in the Pacific, the United States declared war on Japan. Several days later Nazi German and Italy declared war on the U.S., embroiling the world into World War II. The war heightened American prejudice against German Americans and Italian Americans but the racism directed against Japanese Americans was particularly vicious. The calculated response culminated in the forced removal and unconstitutional...

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Refined by Fire by Ruth Vandyke and Yvonne Doll

Refined by Fire by Ruth Vandyke and Yvonne Doll

Privates Joyce Kutsch and Rita Johnson became the first women to graduate from a modified Basic Airborne Course on December 14, 1973. In 2007, Army medic Specialist Monica Lin Brown was only the second female soldier since World War II to receive the Silver Star. Eight women were admitted to Army Ranger School for the first time in 2015. All failed, but three were invited back for another try. Obviously, these were historical inroads in what had been the male soldiers' exclusive domain and...

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The Ship That Wouldn’t Die

The Ship That Wouldn’t Die

The USS Laffey (DD-724) was laid down 28 June 1943 by Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine. She was launched 21 November; sponsored by Miss Beatrice F. Laffey, daughter of Medal of Honor recipient S1c Bartlett Laffey. Commissioned 8 February 1944, Cdr. F. Julian. Becton as her first "Captain". Commander Frederick Julian Becton, Captain of the Destroyer USS Laffey After shakedown, the Laffey traveled the world in the war effort. She was off the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Off Cherbourg, France...

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