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#TributetoaVeteran – Sp 5 Robert Hermann U.S. Army 1968-1969


1st Lt Bruce Cabot US Army Air Corps (Served 1942-1944)

bruce cabot2View the service history of Character Actor

1st Lt Bruce Cabot

US Army Air Corps

(Served 1942-1944)

View his service profile on TogetherWeServed.com

Short Bio: Best remembered for his role as the hero in the original “King Kong”, as well as being one of a handful of actors who regularly appeared in John Wayne films. They became known as “Wayne’s Regulars”. Cabot appeared in 10 of the Duke’s films.


Groundwork Laid for the Battle of the Somme

On December 6-8, 1915, the Allies met in France for the Second Chantilly Conference, which would lay the groundwork for World War I’s Battle of the Somme, a four and a half month-long battle in France that would prove to be one of the war’s bloodiest.

At the Second Chantilly Conference, held in early December 1915, the Allies agreed to coordinate simultaneous offensives to exhaust German resources and manpower. As part of this, the British and French agreed to a joint French-led offensive on the Somme River for the summer of 1916. But the Germans attacked the French at Verdun in February, forcing the British to shoulder the bulk of the planned Somme offensive, which developed the subsidiary purpose of relieving pressure on the French at Verdun.

The Somme offensive, stretching along a front 25 miles long, began with artillery barrages on June 24h that lasted a week. The plan was to so overwhelm the Germans with the bombardment that the infantry would have a relatively easy time. However, the bombardment was largely ineffective, which meant that when the infantry climbed out of the trenches on July 1 and crossed into No Man’s Land, they were cut down by German machine guns and artillery. It was the single bloodiest day in British army history, with nearly 60,000 British casualties, a third of them killed.

While there was some success in breaking through the German front line along the southern part of the front on that first day of the battle, there was no real progress along the majority of the line. The Battle of the Somme would last for 4 1/2 months, with periods of renewed fighting. One of the most notable of these was the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, the first time tanks were used in battle.
By the time the Battle of the Somme finally ended in November with inconclusive results, both sides had sustained high casualties, with more than a million total killed, wounded, captured, or missing, making it one of the bloodiest battles of the war.


#TributetoaVeteran – CWO4 Robert Wilson, Jr U.S. Coast Guard 1965-1989


AOM1c Richard Boone US Navy (Served 1942-1945)

richard booneView the service history of Actor:

AOM1c Richard Boone

US Navy

(Served 1942-1945)

View his service profile on Together We Served:

Short Bio: One of Hollywood’s favorite villains, as a distant relation to Daniel Boone, Richard sometimes sported a coonskin cap as he manned his rear turret during flight operations.


Battlefield Chronicles: Battle of Heartbreak Ridge

By the summer of 1951, the Korean War had reached a stalemate as peace negotiations began at Kaesong. The opposing armies faced each other across a line which ran with many twists and turns along the way from east to west, through the middle of the Korean peninsula, a few miles north of the 38th parallel. UN and communist forces jockeyed for position along this line, clashing in several relatively small but intense and bloody battles.

One bloody ground battle took place from August 18 to September 5, 1951. It began as an attempt by UN forces to seize a ridge of hills which they believed were being used as observation posts to call in artillery fire on a UN supply road.

It was a joint operation conducted by South Korean and the U.S. Army’s 2nd Division. Their mission was to seize a ridge of hills used by the North Koreans as observation posts to call in artillery fire on a UN supply road. Leading the initial attacks was the 36th ROK Regiment. It succeeded in capturing most, but not all, of the ridge after a week of fierce fighting that at times was hand to hand. It was a short-lived triumph, for the following day the North Koreans recaptured the mountain in a fierce counterattack.

The next assault was made by the 9th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Division. The battle raged for ten days, as the North Koreans repulsed one assault after another by the increasingly exhausted and depleted U.S. forces. After repeatedly being driven back, the 9th succeeded in capturing one of the hill objectives after two days of heavy fighting. The weather then turned to almost constant rain, greatly slowing the attacks and making operations almost impossible because of the difficulty in bringing supplies through “rivers of mud” and up steep, slippery slopes.

Fighting continued, however, and casualties mounted. The 2nd Division’s 23rd Infantry Regiment joined the attack on the main ridge while the division’s other infantry regiment, the 38th Infantry Regiment, occupied positions immediately behind the main ridge which threatened to cut off any North Korean retreat. The combination of frontal attacks, flanking movements and incessant bombardment by artillery, tanks, and airstrikes ultimately decided the battle. Over 14,000 artillery rounds were fired in a 24-hour period. Finally, on September 5, 1951, the North Koreans abandoned the ridge after UN forces succeeded in outflanking it.

The American soldiers called the piece of terrain they had taken “Bloody Ridge.” which indeed it was: 2,700 UN and perhaps as many as 15,000 communists were casualties, almost all of them killed or wounded with few prisoners being taken by either side. The much higher communist casualties were probably caused by poor discipline in the KPA and constraining orders so strict to the point where subordinate leaders were often not allowed to withdraw under any conditions, in which case the entire unit would be blooded. Even when permission was granted for a withdrawal, it often came only after the large majority of troops in the unit had been killed.

After UN forces withdrew from Bloody Ridge, the North Koreans set up new positions just 1,500 yards away on a seven-mile-long hill mass that quickly earned the name “Heartbreak Ridge.”

The month-long battle took place between September 13th and October 15th, 1951and was one of several major engagements in the hills of North Korea a few miles north of the 38th parallel-the pre-war boundary between North and South Korea.

If anything, the Communist defenses were even more formidable here than on Bloody Ridge. The U.S. 2nd Infantry Division’s acting commander, Brig. Gen. Thomas de Shazo, and his immediate superior, Maj. Gen. Clovis E. Byers, the X Corps commander, seriously underestimated the strength of the North Korean position.

They ordered a single infantry regiment, the 23rd, and its attached French Battalion, to make what would prove to be an ill-conceived assault straight up Heartbreak’s heavily fortified slopes.

All three of the 2nd Division’s infantry regiments participated, with the brunt of the combat borne by the 9th and 23rd Infantry Regiments, along with the attached French Battalion.

The initial attack began on September 13th and quickly deteriorated into a familiar pattern. First, American aircraft, tanks, and artillery would pummel the ridge for hours on end, turning the already barren hillside into a cratered moonscape. Next, the 23rd’s infantrymen would clamber up the mountain’s rocky slopes, taking out one enemy bunker after another by direct assault. Those who survived to reach the crest arrived exhausted and low on ammunition. The inevitable counterattack soon came-waves of North Koreans determined to recapture the lost ground at any cost. Many of these counterattacks were conducted at night by fresh troops that the North Koreans were able to bring up under the shelter of neighboring hills. Battles begun by a bomb, bullet and shell were inevitably finished by grenade, trench knife and fists as formal military engagements degenerated into desperate hand-to-hand brawls. Sometimes dawn broke to reveal the defenders still holding the mountaintop.

The battle progressed for two weeks. Because of the constricting terrain and the narrow confines of the objectives, units were committed piecemeal-one platoon, company or battalion at a time. Once a unit could no longer stand the strain a replacement would take its place until the 23rd Infantry as a whole was fairly well shattered.

Several units up to company size of 100�??200 men were wiped out. The Americans employed massive artillery barrages, airstrikes, and tanks in attempts to drive the North Koreans off the ridge, but the KPA proved extremely hard to dislodge.

Finally, on September 27th the 2nd Division’s new commander, Maj. Gen. Robert N. Young, called a halt to the “fiasco” on Heartbreak Ridge as American planners reconsidered their strategy.

As long as the North Koreans could continue to reinforce and resupply their garrison on the ridge, it would be nearly impossible for the Americans to take the mountain. After belatedly recognizing this fact, the 2nd Division crafted a new plan that called for a full division assault on the valleys and hills adjacent to Heartbreak to cut the ridge off from further reinforcement. Spearheading this new offensive would be the division’s 72nd Tank Battalion, whose mission was to push up the Mundung-ni Valley west of Heartbreak to destroy enemy supply dumps in the vicinity of the town of Mundung-ni.

It was a bold plan, but one that could not be accomplished until a way had been found to get the 72nd’s M4A3E8 Sherman tanks into the valley. The only existing road was little more than a track that could not bear the weight of the Shermans. To make matters worse, the road was mined and blocked by a six-foot (2 m) high rock barrier built by the North Koreans. Using shovels and explosives, the men of the 2nd Division’s 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion braved enemy fire to clear these obstacles and build an improved roadway. While they worked, the division’s three infantry regiments-9th, 23rd and 38th-launched coordinated assaults on Heartbreak Ridge and the adjacent hills.

By October 10 everything was ready for the main operation. On October 11th, led by more than 30 tanks and supported by artillery and airplanes, the 2nd Division started advancing into the valley. The sudden onslaught of a battalion of tanks racing up the valley took the enemy by surprise. By coincidence, the thrust came just when the Chinese 204th Division was moving up to relieve the North Koreans on Heartbreak Ridge. The Chinese unit under fire was the 610th Regiment of the 204th Division (Commander: Wenfang Luo), dispatched by the 68th Army (Commander: Niansheng Wen). The regiment’s mission was to reinforce the North Korean defense along the valley against a possible American armored offensive; more specifically, it was ordered to prevent the Americans from reaching the town of Mundung-ni at all costs.

Before the Chinese could dig in, the 2nd Division had already started the attack. Caught in the open, the Chinese division suffered heavy casualties from the American tanks as the armored vehicles penetrated to a depth of 6 km of the Chinese defense lines and caused great damage. However, the 610th Regiment managed to damage five Sherman tanks before the Americans halted the offensive.

On October 12th the 2nd Division began an airborne and artillery bombardment that lasted for two hours on Hill 635 and Hill 709 before the 23rd Regiment, led by 48 tanks, assaulted Chinese defensive positions. Having learned the American tactics from the previous day, the 610th Regiment of the Chinese army had already reinforced the anti-tank trenches flanking the road that runs through the Mundung-ni Valley; in addition, a battalion of anti-tank guns was assigned to the regiment (49 infantry guns, recoilless guns, and rocket launchers were also distributed among the front-line soldiers.) At point-blank range, the Chinese soldiers fired upon the advancing American tanks. Before the 23rd halted the assault at 4 pm, the Chinese had destroyed or damaged 18 tanks.

The 23rd Regiment did not assault the hills on the next day. The South Korean 8th Division, however, starting from October 13, launched its attack on hills 97, 742, 650, 932 and 922. These battles were subsequently known to be brutal and costly; for example, a company of the Chinese 610th Regiment was defending hill 932. Under the attack of four South Korean battalions, the company resisted for four days to the last man before the South Korean army took the hill on its 11th assault.

On October 14th eight Sherman tanks in arrow formation attacked the Chinese positions along Mundung-ni Valley. All the tanks were knocked out by the crossfire of Chinese anti-tank guns. Two more were lost on October 19th due to mines. During the five days, the Shermans roared up and down the Mundung-ni Valley, over-running supply dumps, mauling troop concentrations and destroying approximately 350 bunkers on Heartbreak and in the surrounding hills and valleys. A smaller tank-infantry team scoured the Sat’ae-ri Valley East of the ridge, thereby completing the encirclement and eliminating any hope of reinforcement for the beleaguered North Koreans on Heartbreak Ridge.

The armored thrusts turned the tide of the battle, but plenty of hard fighting remained for the infantry before French soldiers captured the last communist bastion on the ridge on October 13th.

After 30 days of combat, the Americans and French eventually gained the upper hand and secured Heartbreak Ridge. Yet the Sherman tanks did not penetrate through the Mundung-ni Valley and reach the town of Mundung-ni after 38 of the armored vehicles were destroyed and nine were damaged. The defense of the Mundung-ni Valley (or as it is known today in North Korea, the Battle of Height 1211) is today celebrated as a great victory in North Korea, with a claim of a total of 29,000 enemy casualties (certainly inflated), 60 tanks destroyed and 40 airplanes shot down: North Korean propaganda today enhances the defense of the heights around the valley and a number of significant acts of courage and sacrifice (real or alleged) committed during the battle. Actually, the failure of the Allied offensive inside the valley and the heights above gave to the North Korean Army one of the few victorious actions during the last phase of the war.

Both sides suffered high casualties-over 3,700 American and French and an estimated 25,000 North Korean and Chinese. These losses made a deep impression on the UN and US command, which decided that battles like Heartbreak Ridge were not worth the high cost in blood for the relatively small amount of terrain captured.

However, the UN offensives were to continue with equally high casualty rates for the 1st Cavalry in Operation Commando, and the 24th Division in Operation Nomad-Polar, which was the last major offensive conducted by UN forces in the war.

Public opinion had by this time turned against “limited-objective” operations of this nature, and military censorship resulted in far less media focus on the other October battles that followed Heartbreak Ridge.

Heartbreak Ridge is regarded as a good illustration of simple lessons. First among them as in World War I and World War II, simply using tremendous quantity of firepower did not guarantee victory in mountainous terrain. For attacks to succeed, attacks had to be made on a large scale and combining maneuver where possible. Even then attacks in the mountains would be a slow and laborious process, even where the enemy was vastly outnumbered and suffering grotesquely disproportionate casualties. In this sense what Heartbreak Ridge also showed was that the U.S. Military could be amazingly stubborn about having to re-learn the same lessons over and over again.

In the case of Heartbreak Ridge, it emerged as the consequence of an earlier, also bloody battle for the aptly named Bloody Ridge, where lightly-armed Communist troops used terrain to negate some of the effects of UN firepower, and relied chiefly on stubbornness and willpower to protract the fighting in this first stage.

In spite of the fanatical nature of the Communist resistance on Bloody Ridge, UN troops assigned to Heartbreak Ridge which consisted initially of a U.S. infantry regiment and a French battalion to capture this ridge. Against them were dug in a large number of far more lightly armed North Korean and Chinese troops.

The result was that the UN forces prepared a full-strength divisional attack on the ridge, using concentrated armor in an attempt to outflank the North Koreans. By this time the Chinese were preparing to send their own reinforcements, which is one of those chance co-incidences possible in warfare collided with UN troops which had managed to clear means through a minefield-ridden defensive position for the armored strikes to start pushing through.

At the same time, UN infantry forces began what proved to be an unpleasantly slow, slogging drive against a primarily North Korean defense. The Chinese troops, unpleasantly for them but happily for the UN got caught in the open by the armored detachment, were massacred, but the UN found that mountains canalize armor, and from this one incident at the start came far more slow, steady slogging of air, infantry, and armor that would finally take Heartbreak Ridge at the close of a month’s worth of major combat, between September and October of 1951. The result was an increasing tendency among UN troops to decide that such costly battles, with a sum total of 3,700 UN troops (as opposed to 25,000 Communists) were not a good augur for any kind of significant breakthrough operation.

Editor’s Note: A well-written story of one man’s experience on Heartbreak Ridge gives a personal account on what it was like to fight in this bloody battle. He is Sgt. 1st Class Bill Wilson who served as a Platoon Sergeant in Company I, 23rd Regiment 2nd Division U.S. Army during the Ridge.


#TributetoaVeteran – Capt Sean O’Neill U.S. Marine Corps 1997-2005


Cpl Tony Bennett US Army (Served 1944-1946)

bennettView the service history of Singer

Cpl Tony Bennett

US Army

(Served 1944-1946)

View his service history on

Short Bio: Tony Bennett, then Anthony Benedetto, was drafted into the United States Army in November 1944 during the final stages of World War II. After basic training at Fort Dix and Fort Robinson, Benedetto became an infantry rifleman. In January 1945 he was assigned as a replacement infantryman to 255th Infantry Regiment of the 63rd Infantry Division, a unit filling in after the Battle of the Bulge. He moved across France and into Germany, and in March 1945, he joined the front line.


Profiles in Courage: Silas Soule and Joseph Cramer

The Sand Creek Massacre, occurring on November 29, 1864, was one of the most infamous incidents of the Indian Wars. Initially reported in the press as a victory against a bravely fought defense by the Cheyenne, later eyewitness testimony conflicted with these reports, resulting in a military and two Congressional investigations into the event. Two of those eyewitnesses were cavalry officers Capt. Silas Soule and Lt. Joseph Cramer who had the courage to order their men not to take part in the slaughter. It was these two that were also the driving force in getting the government to conduct more in-depth investigations on what really happened at Sand Creek.
The causes of the Sand Creek massacre and other atrocities inflicted on the Indians were rooted in the long conflict for control of the Great Plains of eastern Colorado and to the river to the Nebraska border to the Cheyenne and Arapaho. Around the same time, gold and silver were discovered in the Rocky Mountains, resulting in a gold rush by thousands of whites seeking their fortunes. In no time at all, tensions between the Indians and the gold miners came to a boiling point, resulting in deadly attacks on wagon trains, mining camps, and stagecoach lines. But not all the Indians were renegades.
There were some who believed both Native Americans and white Americans could live in peace. One was Chief Black Kettle. Early in 1861, Black Kettle, along with some Arapahoe leaders, accepted a new settlement with the Federal government. The Native Americans ceded most of their land but secured a 600-square mile reservation and annuity payments. In the decentralized political world of the tribes, chiefs Black Kettle and White Antelope and their fellow delegates represented only part of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. Many did not accept this new agreement, called the Treaty of Fort Wise, and continued to conduct deadly raids on settlers and miners.
As the conflict between the Indians and white settlers in Colorado continued, a large number of the Cheyenne and Arapaho were resigned to negotiating a peace, despite pressure from the less friendly bands of Indians, soldiers, and white settlers. In July 1864, Colorado’s territorial governor John Evans sent a circular to the Plains Indians, inviting those who were friendly to go to a place of safety at Ft. Lyon on the eastern plains, where their people would be given provisions and protection by the United States troops.
Black Kettle, chief of around 800 most Southern Cheyenne, led his band and some Arapahos under Chief Niwot, to Ft. Lyon in compliance with provisions of peace held in Denver in September 1864.
After a while, the Native Americans were requested to relocate to Bing Sandy Creek, less than 40 miles northwest of Ft. Lyon, with the guarantee of “perfect safety” remaining in effect. The Dog Soldiers of the Cheyenne and Arapaho bands who were responsible for many of the deadly attacks and raids on whites were not part of this encampment.
But violence between the Native Americans and the miners continued to increase, so territorial governor John Evans sent a Voluntary Militia commander by the name of Col. John Milton Chivington to quiet the Indians.
Though once a member of the clergy, Chivington’s compassion did not extend to the Indians and his desires to extinguish them all was well known as he often said, “Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians! I have come to kill Indians, and believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God’s heaven to kill Indians. Kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice.”
In the spring of 1864, while the Civil War raged in the east, Chivington launched a campaign of violence against the Cheyenne and their allies, his troops attacking any and all Indians and razing their villages. The Cheyenne, joined by neighboring Arapaho, Sioux, Comanche, and Kiowa in both Colorado and Kansas, went on the defensive warpath.
Without any declaration of war, in April 1864, Colorado soldiers began attacking and destroying a number of Cheyenne camps. On May 16, 1864, a detachment under Lt. George S. Eayre crossed into Kansas and encountered Cheyenne in their summer buffalo-hunting camp at Big Bushes, near the Smoky Hill River. Cheyenne chiefs Lean Bear and Star approached the soldiers to signal their peaceful intent, but they were shot down by Eayre’s troops. This incident touched off a war of retaliation by the Cheyenne.
In response, territorial governor Evans and Col. Chivington reinforces their militia, raising the Third Colorado Cavalry of short-term volunteers who referred to themselves as the “Hundred Dazers.”
After a summer of scattered small raids and clashes, the Cheyenne and Arapaho were ready for peace, and as a result, the Indian representatives met with Evans and Chivington at Camp Weld outside of Denver on September 28, 1864. Though no treaties were signed, the Indians believe that by reporting and camping near army posts, they would be declaring peace and accepting sanctuary.
However on the day of the “peace talks,” Chivington received a telegram from Gen. Samuel Curtis (his superior officer) informing him that “I want no peace till the Indians suffer more. No peace must be made without my directions.”
Unaware of Curtis’s telegram, Black Kettle and some 550 Cheyenne and Arapaho, having made their peace, traveled south to set up camp on Sand Creek under the promised protection of Ft. Lyon. Those who remained opposed to the agreement headed north to join the Sioux.
Knowing that the Indians had surrendered, Chivington and 425 men of the 3rd Colorado Cavalry and 250 men of the First Colorado Cavalry set out for Black Kettle’s encampment along Sand Creek. James Beckwourth, noted frontiersman, acted as a guide for Chivington.
The night before the Sand Creek Massacre, Capt. Silas Soule, the Commander of Company D, 1st Colorado Cavalry, attempted with great emotion to convince Chivington to not attack Black Kettle’s peaceful Indian village at Sand Creek. Soule did so with such passion that Chivington threatened to have him put in chains. Only when Chivington assured him that camp would not be attacked, did Soule cease his objections.
The following morning, Chivington ignored his promise to Soule.
Upon reaching the outskirts of the Sand Creek Indian Village, Chivington noted that the ever trusting Black Kettle had raised both an American and a white flag of peace and surrender over his tepee – as the Ft. Lyon commander had advised. This was to show he was friendly and to forestall any attack by the Colorado Soldiers.
This sign of peace was ignored by Chivington. All he could see was an easy victory at hand. He raised his arm, giving the signal to attack. Cannons and rifles began to pound upon the camp as the Indians scattered in panic. Watching the beginning of the senseless slaughter, Soule ordered his men to hold fire and stay put rather than ride down to the Village as the rest of Chivington’s forces attacked the camp.
Lt. Joseph Cramer also watched in horror as Army troops swarmed onto Sand Creek, murdering men, women, and children without hesitation. Not only did these men butcher peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho, they then mutilated the bodies, looted the village and killed prisoners. Like Soule, Cramer ordered his men to stay where they were and not get involved in the brutal attack.
The Cheyenne, lacking artillery, could not make much resistance. Some of the natives cut horses from the camp’s herd and fled up Sand Creek to a nearby Cheyenne camp on the headwaters of the Smoky Hill River.
They were pursued by the troops and fired on, but many survived. Cheyenne warrior Morning Star said that most of the Indian dead were killed by cannon fire, especially those firing from the south bank of the river at the people retreating up the creek.
The frenzied soldiers began to charge, hunting down men, women, and children, shooting them unmercifully. A few warriors managed to fight back allowing some members of the camp to escape across the stream.
They were pursued by the troops and fired on, but many survived. Cheyenne warrior Morning Star said that most of the Indian dead were killed by cannon fire, especially those firing from the south bank of the river at the people retreating up the creek.
The troops kept up their indiscriminate assault for most of the day, during which numerous atrocities were committed. One lieutenant was said to have killed and scalped three women and five children who had surrendered and were screaming for mercy. Finally breaking off their attack they returned to the camp killing all the wounded they could find before mutilating and scalping the dead, including pregnant women, children, and babies. They then plundered the teepees and divided up the Indians horse herd before leaving.
By the time the attack was over, as many as 150 Indians lay dead, most of which were old men, women, and children. Losses on the cavalry side were only 9 or ten men, with about three dozen wounded. Black Kettle and his wife followed the others up the stream bed, his wife being shot several times, but somehow managed to survive.
The survivors, over half of whom were wounded, sought refuge in the camp of the Cheyenne Dog Warriors (who had remained opposed to the peace treaty) at Smokey Hill River. Many of the Indians joined the Dog Soldiers, deciding there could be no successful negotiations with the white men and were waging war against them.
The Colorado volunteers returned to Denver, exhibiting their scalps, to receive a hero’s welcome. When news of the Battle of Sand Creek reached Eastern newspapers, it was reported as a major victory against a bravely-fought defense by the Cheyenne and Arapaho.
As details of what really happened at the Battle of Sand Creek came out, however, the U.S. public was shocked by the brutality of the massacre. The congressional investigation subsequently determined the crime to be a “sedulously and carefully planned massacre.” When asked at the military inquiry why children had been killed, one of the soldiers quoted Chivington as saying, “nits make lice.” Though Chivington was denounced in the investigation and forced to resign, neither he nor anyone else was ever brought to justice for the massacre.
After the brutal slaughter of those who supported peace, many of the Cheyenne, including the great warrior Roman Nose and many Arapaho joined the Dog Soldiers. They sought revenge on settlers throughout the Platte valley, including an 1865 attack on what became Fort Caspar, Wyoming.
As word of the massacre spread among the Indians of the southern and northern plains, their resolve to resist white encroachment stiffened. An avenging wildfire swept the land and peace returned only after a quarter of a century.
Black Kettle, who had raised a U.S. flag in a futile gesture of fellowship, survived the massacre, carrying his badly wounded wife from the field and straggling east across the wintry plains. The next year, in his continuing effort to make peace, he signed a treaty and resettled his band on reservation land in Oklahoma. He was killed there in 1868, in yet another massacre, this one led by George Armstrong Custer.
While the Sand Creek massacre has been the subject of numerous books, much less attention has been given to the two heroes of this horrific event.
Refusing to participate, Capt. Silas Soule and the men of Company D of the First Colorado, along with Lt. Joseph Cramer and the men of Company K, bore witness to the incomprehensible.
Immediately after the merciless siege at Sand Creek, Soule and Cramer reported Chivington’s attack quickly descended into a frenzy of killing and mutilation, with soldiers taking scalps and other grisly trophies from the bodies of the dead. Soule, a devoted abolitionist, was dedicated to the rights of all people. He stayed true to his convictions in the face of insults and even a threat of hanging from Chivington the night before at Ft. Lyon.
In the weeks following the massacre, Soule and Crammer wrote letters to Maj. Edward “Ned” Wynkoop, the previous commander at Ft. Lyon who had dealt fairly with the Cheyenne and Arapaho. Both harshly condemned that massacre and the soldiers that carried it out. Soule’s letter details a meeting among officers on the eve of the attack in which he fervently condemned Chivington’s plan asserting “that any man who would take part in murders, knowing the circumstances as we did, was a low lived cowardly son of a bitch.”
Despite threats against his life, Soule was the first to testify against Chivington during the Army’s investigation in January 1865. Cramer followed, describing the horror he and his men witnessed at the Sand Creek Massacre. Their testimony, along with others present at the massacre, incriminated Chivington and forced him to resign his role as commander of the Second Cavalry Regiment. He never spent a day in jail, however. Nor did any others willingly taking part in the bloodbath.
On April 1, 1865, Soule married Thersa A. “Hersa” Coberly. Twenty-two days later, on April 23, 1865, after testifying against Chivington, Soule was on duty as Provost Marshal in Denver when he went to investigate guns fired at 10:30 pm. With his pistol out, he went around the corner and faced Charles Squier, a former Sergeant in the Second Cavalry. Soule fired the first shot and wounded Squier’s left arm, but Squier fired a bullet into Soule’s right cheekbone. Soule was dead before help could arrive. Squire dropped his pistol and ran before he could be arrested by the authorities and fled to South America. He was never brought to justice. It was suspected at the time the Col. Chivington directed the assassination.
After testifying against Chivington in the spring of 1865, Cramer mustered out of the regiment and moved back east where married Hattie Phelps. The newly married man sought a career as an Indian agent, but eventually moved to Solomon, Kansas and found a position as a clerk. There, Hattie died three years into their marriage.
Following his wedding to Augusta Hunt in 1869, a bed-ridden Cramer passed away from a back injury he had suffered while in the cavalry. He was thirty-three. He died shortly after selection to the Sheriff’s office of Dickinson County, Kansas.
Beyond a doubt, Silas Soule and Joseph Cramer were men of strong character and moral courage. Each was a man of conviction, knowing the right thing to do and had the will to do it, no matter what the personal consequences.
Both rejected the violence and genocide inherent in the “conquest of the West.” They did so by personally refusing to take part in the murder of peaceful people while ordering the men under their command to stand down. Their example breaks the conventional frontier narrative that has come to define the clash between Colonial settlers and Native peoples as one of civilization versus savagery.

TSgt Jock Mahoney US Marine Corps (Served 1943-1946)

Jock-Mahoney-Joe-Dakota-portraitView the service history of actor and stuntman:

TSgt Jock Mahoney

US Marine Corps

(Served 1943-1946)

View his Service Profile on

Short Bio: At the University of Iowa, he was outstanding in swimming, basketball and football. When World War II broke out, he enlisted as a Marine fighter pilot and instructor. In Hollywood, he was a noted stunt man, doubling for Errol Flynn, John Wayne, and Gregory Peck.

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