Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Quote To Ponder

(I came across this anonymous quote and thought it was altogether fitting to post here.)

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including my life."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How I Began My Military Career - Gary H.

Well, looking back on it, I guess I "began" my military career as a kid -- growing up on John Wayne war movies and the like. Closer to reality, I started my career as an Army ROTC cadet in college.

"Why Army?" -- Largely because the Army program (of the three programs at my college back then) offered training in which I was interested: military mountaineering (rock climbing and rappelling); ski training (both downhill and cross country); marksmanship.

I joined the ROTC program as a freshman, and earned my first stripes as a cadet sergeant after a year. Over the four years, I became a cadet SFC -- and senior year, a cadet major -- which was one of the most senior ranks in the program.

OK, so from an Active Component perspective, being a cadet major isn't much -- but recall that I spent about half my active duty career as a Major -- it took me ten years to return to the grade I'd held as a cadet! (Sounds like history repeating itself.)

I graduated with a bachelor's degree and a commission at a 2LT, Infantry.

After two years of graduate school, I reported to Infantry Officers Basic at Fort Benning -- and stayed there for Airborne training.

Once completed, my first duty station -- and the "real" start of my military career -- was Fort Bragg and the JFK Special Warfare Center where I joined the 15th Psychological Operations Battalion -- but that's another story.

Friday, March 12, 2010

How I Began My Military Career - John H.

I have often thought about why I wanted to be an army officer from a very early age. My father was exempt from the draft in WWII because he worked n the oil fields of Louisiana and Texas as did his four brothers. None ever served in the war.

I was born in 1937, so was old enough during the war to know about it and be exposed to many service people. I had a neighbor whose husband was killed flying over “the Hump” in China. I remember well the day she received the news. When several of our neighbors returned from the war, I was given parts of uniforms and equipment.

The first book I ever remember reading was by Ernie Pyle. The first paperback book I ever bought “Twelve O’Clock High” about the 8th Air Force in Europe. I have been primarily interested in military history all my life.

Anyway, I have wanted to be an army officer as long as I can remember. When it came to deciding where I would go to college, I never considered anything but a military school. I attended New Mexico Military Institute (Junior College) and then Texas Tech. My primary intent was to take ROTC and get a commission.

I did!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hollywood Went To War

The following is listing of some notable Hollywood stars who served during World War II. I thought the list was interesting and figured others might find it so also.

Don Adams
served with the United States Marine Corps during World War II in the Pacific Theater. He was wounded during the Battle of Guadalcanal and he contracted malaria, nearly dying of black water fever. Upon his recovery and return to the States, he served as a drill instructor.

John Agar
served in the Army Air Corps, and he was a sergeant at the time he left the army in 1946.

Eddie Albert
was awarded a Bronze Star for his heroic action as a U. S. Naval officer aiding Marines at the horrific battle on the island of Tarawa in the Pacific Nov. 1943.

James Arness
served in the United States Army during World War II, and was severely wounded at the Battle of Anzio, leading to a lifelong slight limp. His military awards and medals include: the Bronze Star; the Purple Heart; the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign with three bronze star devices; World War II Victory Medal and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.

Earnest Borgnine
was a U. S. Navy Gunners Mate 1935-1945.

Charles Bronson
was a tail gunner in the Army Air Corps, specifically on B-29s in the 20th Air Force out of Guam,Tinian, and Saipan.

Richard Burton
served in the RAF (1944-1947) as a navigator.

Art Carney
was drafted as an infantryman during World War II. During the Battle of Normandy, he was wounded in the leg by shrapnel and walked with a limp for the rest of his life.

Robert Clary (Robert Max Widerman)
was captured and deported to the Nazi concentration camp, Buchenwald with 12 other members of his immediate family. Clary was the only survivor. When he returned to Paris after the war, he was ecstatic when he found that some of his siblings had not been taken away and survived the Nazi occupation of France.

Jackie Coogan
enlisted in the US Army in March 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he requested a transfer to US Army Air Forces as a glider pilot because of his civilian flying experience. After graduating from glider school, he was made a Flight Officer and he volunteered for hazardous duty with the 1st Air Commando Group. In December 1943, the unit was sent to India. He flew British troops, the Chindits, under General Orde Wingate on 5 March 1944, landing them at night in a small jungle clearing 100 miles behind Japanese lines in the Burma campaign.

Tony Curtis
joined US Navy in 1943 at age 17. In Tokyo Bay he watched the surrender ceremonies from the Signal Bridge of the USS Proteus.

James Doohan
landed in Normandy with the U. S. Army on D-Day.

Kirk Douglas
served in the U.S. Navy from the entry of the US into World War II in 1941 until it ended in 1945.

Charles Durning
was a U. S. Army Ranger at Normandy earning a Silver Star and awarded the Purple Heart.

Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
n 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed Fairbanks as a special envoy to South America. Fairbanks served with the U.S. Navy Beach Jumpers who saw their initial action in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. Throughout the remainder of the war, the Beach Jumpers conducted their hazardous, shallow-water operations throughout the Mediterranean.
For his planning the diversion-deception operations and his part in the amphibious assault on Southern France, Lieutenant Commander Fairbanks was awarded the U.S. Navy's Legion of Merit with bronze V (for valor), the Italian War Cross for Military Valor, the French Legion d'Honneur and the Croix de Guerre with Palm, and the British Distinguished Service Cross. Fairbanks was also awarded the Silver Star for valor displayed while serving on PT boats.
He was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) in 1949. It is not a stretch to say that Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. was the father of the United States Navy's Information Operations. As for the Beach Jumpers, they changed names several times in the decades following World War II, expanded their focus, and are currently known as the Navy Information Operations Command. Fairbanks stayed in the Naval Reserve after the war and ultimately retired a captain in 1954.
Many of the Navy's most important information operations since World War II remain classified, but it is clear that the U.S. military retains its interest in this art of war.

Henry Fonda
enlisted in the Navy to fight in World War II, saying, "I don't want to be in a fake war in a studio." Previously, he and Stewart had helped raise funds for the defense of Britain. Fonda served for three years, initially as a Quartermaster 3rd Class on the destroyer USS Satterlee. He was later commissioned as a Lieutenant Junior Grade in Air Combat Intelligence in the Central Pacific and won a Presidential Citation and the Bronze Star.

Glenn Ford
His film career was interrupted when he volunteered for duty in World War II with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve on 13 December as a photographic specialist at the rank of sergeant. He was assigned in March 1943 to active duty at the Marine Corps Base in San Diego. He was sent to Marine Corps Schools Detachment (Photographic Section) in Quantico, Virginia, that June, with orders as a motion-picture production technician. Sergeant Ford returned to the San Diego base in February 1944 and was assigned next to the radio section of the Public Relations Office, Headquarters Company, Base Headquarters Battalion. There he staged and broadcast the radio program Halls of Montezuma. Glenn Ford was honorably discharged from the Marines on 7 December 1944.

Clark Gable
Mega-Movie Star when war broke out. Although he was beyond the draft age at the time the U.S. entered WW II, Clark Gable enlisted as a private in the AAF on Aug. 12, 1942 at Los Angeles. He attended the Officers' Candidate School at Miami Beach, Fla. and graduated as a second lieutenant on Oct. 28, 1942. He then attended aerial gunnery school and in Feb. 1943 he was assigned to the 351st Bomb Group at Polebrook where flew operational missions over Europe in B-17s. Capt. Gable returned to the U.S. in Oct. 1943 and was relieved from active duty as a major on Jun. 12, 1944 at his own request, since he was over-age for combat.

Shecky Greene
served in the US Navy.

Alec Guinness
operated a British Royal Navy landing craft on D-Day.

Charlton Heston
In 1944, left college and enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps. He served for two years as a B-25 radio operator/gunner stationed in the Alaskan Aleutian Islands with the Eleventh Air Force, rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant.

William Holden
served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, where he acted in training films.

Russell Johnson
joined the United States Army Air Forces in World War II. He had a very distinguished record and was highly decorated for his service. He flew 44 combat missions as a gunner in B-24 Liberator bombers, receiving a Purple Heart for injuries sustained when his plane was shot down over the Philippines. When the war ended, he joined the Army Reserves and used the GI Bill to fund his acting studies.

Brian Keith
served as a U.S. Marine rear gunner in several actions against the Japanese on Rabal in the Pacific.

George Kennedy
Kennedy put aside show business during World War II and spent sixteen years in the United States Army, seeing combat and working in the Armed Forces radio. After retiring from the military (reportedly because of a back injury), Kennedy found his way back to the entertainment industry.

Werner Klemperer
joined the United States Army to fight in World War II. While stationed in Hawaii, he joined the Army's Special Services unit, spending the next few years touring the Pacific entertaining the troops.

Jack Lemmon
joined the Navy, received V-12 training and served as an ensign in the US Navy Reserve from 1945-1946.

Strother Martin
served in the US Navy as a Swimming instructor.

Lee Marvin
was a U.S. Marine on Saipan during the Marianas campaign when he was wounded earning the Purple Heart.

Walter Matthau
During World War II served in the U.S. Army Air Forces with the Eighth Air Force in England as a B-24 Liberator radioman-gunner, in the same bomb group as Jimmy Stewart. He reached the rank of Staff Sergeant and became interested in acting.

Robert Montgomery
joined the Navy, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

Audie Murphy
little 5'5" tall 110 pound guy from Texas who played cowboy parts! He was the most Decorated serviceman of WWII and earned: Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, 2 Silver Star Medals, Legion of Merit, 2 Bronze Star Medals with "V", 2 Purple hearts, U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, 2 Distinguished Unit Emblems, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with One Silver Star, Four Bronze Service Stars (representing nine campaigns) and one Bronze Arrowhead (representing assault landing at Sicily and Southern France) World War II Victory Medal Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar, Expert Badge with Bayonet Bar, French Fourragere in Colors of the Croix de Guerre, French Legion of Honor, Grade of Chevalier, French Croix de Guerre With Silver Star, French Croix de Guerre with Palm, Medal of Liberated France, Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 Palm.

David Niven
was a Sandhurst graduate and Lt. Colonel of the British Commandos in Normandy.

Jack Palance
Palance's rugged face was disfigured when he bailed out of his burning B-24 Liberator while on a training flight over southern Arizona, where he was a student pilot. Plastic surgeons repaired the damage as best they could, but he was left with a distinctive, somewhat gaunt, look. After much reconstructive surgery, he was discharged in 1944.

Donald Pleasance
really was an R. A. F. pilot who was shot down, held prisoner and tortured by the Germans.

Tyrone Power
arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina in July, 1944 and was assigned to VMR-352 as an R5C copilot. The squadron moved to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in California in October 1944. Power was reassigned to VMR-353 and joined them on Kwajalein in February 1945. He flew cargo and wounded Marines during the Battle of Iwo Jima and the Battle of Okinawa. He returned to the United States in November 1945 and he was released from active duty in January 1946. He was promoted to Captain in the reserves on May 8, 1951 but was not recalled for service for the Korean War.

John Russell
In 1942, he enlisted in the Marine Corps where he received a battlefield commission and was wounded and highly decorated for valor at Guadalcanal.

Robert Ryan
was a U. S. Marine who served with the O.S.S. in Yugoslavia. For two years worked as a Marine corps drill instructor at Camp Pendleton.

George C. Scott was a decorated U. S. Marine.

Robert Stack
Joined Air Force and became a PB4Y Gunnery Instructor.

James Stewart
Entered the Army Air Force as a private and worked his way to the rank of Colonel. During World War II, Stewart served as a bomber pilot, his service record crediting him with leading more than 20 missions over Germany, and taking part in hundreds of air strikes during his tour of duty. Stewart earned the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, France's Croix de Guerre, and 7 Battle Stars during World War II. In peace time, Stewart continued to be an active member of the Air Force as a reservist, reaching the rank of Brigadier General before retiring in the late 1950s.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

How I Began My Military My Career - Jack K.

The year was 1954. We lived in Lancaster, PA where my step-father was stationed. He made the army his career. My father also served in the army. We moved to Lancaster in the middle of my senior year of high school. It was a much larger school than the previous one.

During that time I was friends with a young man who was no longer in school. This young man was having a difficult time making ends meet. If it weren’t for what we then called his “Arkansas credit card”, he wouldn’t have enough gas for his car. I tried to talk him out of siphoning gas, but to no avail. Unfortunately I was with him once when he did it. A high school student who was mad at me told the police about it. The police came to school and whisked me away to the county jail where I spent the night. My mom and step-dad decided that it might do me some good.

The next day my step-dad bailed me out and we appeared before the magistrate. At that time joining the military was a reasonable option for young men who found themselves in legal difficulties. Since I was very close to graduating and had no other job prospects it was an easy decision. On June 15, 1954, I enlisted in the US Air Force. I spent four years in the air force and achieved the rank of SSGT E-5 prior to ending my enlistment.

With the availability of the Korean GI Bill I was able to go to college. While attending Arizona State University, I enrolled in Army ROTC. I was commissioned at the completion of summer camp. The Military Police Corps was my first choice for branch assignment. The first orders I received were to attend the officer basic course, go to a duty assignment for six months of active duty and spend the remaining duty requirement in the active reserves. It is funny, now, how things can change so suddenly. While I waited the month from the end of summer camp to reporting for training, those damned fools built the Berlin wall. It didn’t take long for me to receive a telegram extending my orders from six months to two years.

Well that was a start. Somewhere along the way I changed my status to voluntary indefinite. Between tours to Viet Nam I then decided to go Regular Army. I stayed with it until I had accrued 22.5 years of active Federal service and then retired.

There just may be a few more stories to share. Stay tuned