World War II

Heroes of The Coast Guard: Munro and Evans

Heroes of The Coast Guard: Munro and Evans

Within days of their Dec. 7, 1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Imperial Navy occupied scores of islands throughout the western Pacific Ocean. Japan's goal was to create a defensive buffer against attack from the United States and its Allies - one that would ensure their mastery over East Asia and the Pacific. It wasn't until the United States' strategic victories at the Battles of the Coral Sea (May 4-8, 1942) and Midway (June 4-7, 1942) finally halted the Japanese Empire's expansion that the Allies were free to unleash an offensive. The strategically-located Solomon Island chain, lying to the east of Papua New Guinea and critical to protecting the supply lines between the U.S. and Australia, was selected as the place to begin the island-hopping offensive campaign to take the Pacific back from the Japanese. The Solomon Island operation, America's first amphibious operation since 1898, lasted six months and consisted of a number of major battles - on land, at sea, and...

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Secret Soldiers by Philip Gerard

Secret Soldiers by Philip Gerard

They were masters of the craft of illusion and deception, and their greatest disappearing act was to vanish from history. The men of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops were recruited to become phantom warriors in a ghost army to help win the Battle of Europe. A thousand strong, they fought in more campaigns, from D Day to the Rhine River, with more Allied armies, than any other unit in the European Theater of Operations - yet, not even their fellow American soldiers were aware of their presence. After Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., USNR, completed a tour of England and its special forces installations, the Hollywood star convinced the Navy brass to train an elite unit that eventually evolved into the only Army force of its kind. These elite soldiers counted among their number designer Bill Blass and painter Ellsworth Kelly. The Special Troops' mission was two-fold: to deceive the German Army into believing that the Allies possessed more troops and material than they actually did and, even...

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WW2 – Battle Of the Aleutian Islands

WW2 – Battle Of the Aleutian Islands

In June 1942, six months after the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor that drew the U.S. into World War II, the Japanese targeted the Aleutians, an American-owned chain of remote, sparsely inhabited, volcanic islands extending some 1,200 miles west of the Alaskan Peninsula. After reaching the Aleutians, the Japanese conducted airstrikes on Dutch Harbor, the site of two American military bases, on June 3 and June 4. The Japanese then made landfall at Kiska Island on June 6 and Attu Island, approximately 200 miles away, on June 7. Japanese troops quickly established military bases on both islands, which had belonged to the U.S. since it purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. The Aleutians to Have Little Military or Strategic Value Like the other volcanic islands in the Aleutians, Attu and Kiska appeared to have little military or strategic value because of their barren, mountainous terrain and harsh weather, infamous for its sudden dense fogs, high winds, rains, and frequent snow. Some...

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The Marine Corps Memorial

The Marine Corps Memorial

The Battle of Iwo Jima is one of the most important battles in the history of the Marine Corps. More than 26,000 United States Marines were killed or wounded for the strategically vital eight square miles of the island. It allowed the United States to attack the Japanese home islands from the air without warning and become the staging point for the coming invasion of Japan. It also came to define the modern Marine Corps. The image of Marines raising the flag on Mount Suribachi became the iconic memorial to all Marines who gave their lives for their country since 1775.  The Marine Corps Memorial and the Mysterious 13th Hand The Marine Corps Memorial also birthed one of the Corps’ most enduring myths - that of the mysterious 13th hand. Iwo Jima was the modern Marine Corps’ finest 36 days. More Medals of Honor were awarded there than any other single battle in American history, 27 to Marines and five to Navy Corpsmen. A full 20% of the Medals of Honor awarded in World War II...

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Don Rickles, U.S. Navy (1944-1946), WWII

Don Rickles, U.S. Navy (1944-1946), WWII

Before emerging as the renowned comedy legend celebrated for his wit and humor, Don Rickles navigated a significant chapter in his life that often goes overlooked. Long before his name became synonymous with laughter, Rickles dutifully answered his country's call by enlisting in the United States Navy during World War II. These military years in the Navy laid the groundwork for the extraordinary career that would later make him a comedy icon adored by audiences worldwide. Don Rickles’s Early Years Donald Jay Rickles was born on May 8, 1926, in New York City. Raised in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, Rickles grew up in a close-knit Jewish family. Despite the financial challenges posed by the Great Depression, his parents Etta and Max Rickles nurtured his comedic talents, encouraging him to find laughter in everyday situations.  After graduating from Newtown High School, Rickles embarked on a new chapter in his life. In response to his country's call during World War...

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USS Midway Historic Aircraft Carrier & Naval Museum

USS Midway Historic Aircraft Carrier & Naval Museum

The USS Midway aircraft carrier is America’s most popular naval warship museum. Located in downtown San Diego, the museum is open 10am to 5pm 7 days a week, closing only for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The museum holds over 700 events a year, from Navy retirements and re-enlistments to changes of command. What is the USS Midway Known For? Commissioned after the culmination of World War II, the USS Midway was one of the longest-serving aircraft carriers of the 20th century. The United States Navy used the Midway throughout the Cold War, until the carrier was decommissioned in 1992. Midway was an important contributor to the US war effort in Vietnam.  During Operation Frequent Wind, known by civilians as the evacuation of Saigon, the Midway was the scene of a heroic rescue. Major Buang-Ly of the Republic of Vietnam Air Force loaded his family of seven onto a 2-seat Cessna O-1, evaded enemy ground fire while fleeing occupied Côn Sơn, and pleaded with Midway to let him land. After...

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Famous Air Force Unit: 1st Reconnaissance Squadron

Famous Air Force Unit: 1st Reconnaissance Squadron

The squadron emblem roundel pictured above is still current and has been in active use since 1933. As of this year, there are twenty-six active reconnaissance squadrons in the United States Air Force. The 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, by that specific unit designation, was not technically constituted until 1991-94 but was preceded by the 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron in 1966 and two training units utilizing similar nomenclature in between. Yet, this organization traces its full roots back to the US Army Air Service, 1st Provisional Aero Squadron in 1913. In all but six of its fifteen inclusive designations, its duty has been observation, as it was once termed, reconnaissance by the current definition. According to the Air Force Historical Research Agency, that role is "Reconnaissance" complements surveillance in obtaining, by visual observation or other detection methods, specific information about the activities and resources of an enemy or potential enemy or in securing data...

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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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WW2 – The Liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp

WW2 – The Liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp

On January 27 1945 the Soviet Army pried open the gates of Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland and liberated some 7,000 emaciated prisoners. About 58,000 others had been hurriedly marched westward before the Soviet Army approached. Auschwitz, the German word for the Polish town of Oswiecim, was the site of the largest Nazi concentration camp during WWII. It consisted of a concentration camp, a labor camp, and large gas chambers and crematoria. More than 1.3 million people were sent to Auschwitz between 1940 and 1945. Some 1.1 million of them were killed. Nine in 10 were Jews. History of Auschwitz Сoncentration Сamp During WWII, the Nazi regime imprisoned an estimated 15-20 million people they perceived as a political threat or inferior, especially Jews. They were held in camps and ghettos across Europe and subjected to abominable conditions, brutality, and murder in what has become known as the Holocaust. Auschwitz was the largest of these death camps and was...

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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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WW2 – The Battle of Leyte Gulf

WW2 – The Battle of Leyte Gulf

The Battle of Leyte Gulf, fought between October 23 to 26, 1944, was the largest and one of the most decisive naval battles of World War II. With some 200,000 sailors involved, it might be the largest naval engagement in history. This monumental clash occurred in the waters surrounding the Philippine island of Leyte and marked a pivotal moment in the Pacific Theater. With its complex array of naval engagements, the battle ultimately led to a resounding victory for the Allied forces, further weakening the Japanese Empire and hastening the war's end. By the fall of 1944, Japan's imperial ambitions faltered, and the Allies were steadily advancing towards the Japanese home islands. The strategically important Philippines was a primary target for the Allies, as its capture would facilitate the liberation of other Southeast Asian nations and disrupt Japan's supply lines. The Four Key Engagements: Strategy and Courage The Battle of Leyte Gulf unfolded as part of the larger operation that...

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ENS Johnny Carson, U.S. Navy (1943-1945)

ENS Johnny Carson, U.S. Navy (1943-1945)

Before achieving fame as the renowned host of late-night television, Johnny Carson was a young man who dutifully responded to his country's call. His early years were defined by his service in the US Army Air Force from 1943 to 1945. This period of his life served as the cornerstone for his exceptional Hollywood career, where he emerged as the unmatched presenter of "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson." Through his military service, Carson not only made a lasting impact on the silver screen but also within the hearts of his fellow servicemen. Johnny Carson’s Early Years Born on October 23, 1925, in Corning, Iowa, Johnny Carson spent his formative years in the heart of the Midwest. Carson's family relocated to Norfolk, Nebraska, where he enrolled in Norfolk High School. During his academic years, he showcased his comedic prowess by participating in school plays and honing his magic skills. At the age of 12, during a visit to a friend's house in Nebraska, he stumbled upon a magic...

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