Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Remember Pearl Harbor
70 years ago-12/07/41

The road to war between Japan and the United States began in the 1930s when differences over China drove the two nations apart. In 1931 Japan conquered Manchuria, which until then had been part of China. In 1937 Japan began a long and ultimately unsuccessful campaign to conquer the rest of China. In 1940, the Japanese government allied their country with Nazi Germany in the Axis Alliance, and, in the following year, occupied all of Indochina.

The United States, which had important political and economic interests in East Asia, was alarmed by these Japanese moves. The U.S. increased military and financial aid to China, embarked on a program of strengthening its military power in the Pacific, and cut off the shipment of oil and other raw materials to Japan.

Because Japan was poor in natural resources, its government viewed these steps, especially the embargo on oil as a threat to the nation's survival. Japan's leaders responded by resolving to seize the resource-rich territories of Southeast Asia, even though that move would certainly result in war with the United States.

The problem with the plan was the danger posed by the U.S. Pacific Fleet based at Pearl Harbor. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of the Japanese fleet, devised a plan to immobilize the U.S. fleet at the outset of the war with a surprise attack.

The key elements in Yamamoto's plans were meticulous preparation, the achievement of surprise, and the use of aircraft carriers and naval aviation on an unprecedented scale. In the spring of 1941, Japanese carrier pilots began training in the special tactics called for by the Pearl Harbor attack plan.

In October 1941 the naval general staff gave final approval to Yamamoto's plan, which called for the formation of an attack force commanded by Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo. It centered around six heavy aircraft carriers accompanied by 24 supporting vessels. A separate group of submarines was to sink any American warships which escaped the Japanese carrier force.

Nagumo's fleet assembled in the remote anchorage of Tankan Bay in the Kurile Islands and departed in strictest secrecy for Hawaii on 26 November 1941. The ships' route crossed the North Pacific and avoided normal shipping lanes. At dawn 7 December 1941, the Japanese task force had approached undetected to a point slightly more than 200 miles north of Oahu. At this time the U.S. carriers were not at Pearl Harbor. On 28 November, Admiral Kimmel sent USS Enterprise under Rear Admiral Willliam Halsey to deliver Marine Corps fighter planes to Wake Island. On 4 December Enterprise delivered the aircraft and on December 7 the task force was on its way back to Pearl Harbor. On 5 December, Admiral Kimmel sent the USS Lexington with a task force under Rear Admiral Newton to deliver 25 scout bombers to Midway Island. The last Pacific carrier, USS Saratoga, had left Pearl Harbor for upkeep and repairs on the West Coast.

At 6:00 a.m. on 7 December, the six Japanese carriers launched a first wave of 181 planes composed of torpedo bombers, dive bombers, horizontal bombers and fighters. Even as they winged south, some elements of U.S. forces on Oahu realized there was something different about this Sunday morning.

In the hours before dawn, U.S. Navy vessels spotted an unidentified submarine periscope near the entrance to Pearl Harbor. It was attacked and reported sunk by the destroyer USS Ward (DD-139) and a patrol plane. At 7:00 a.m., an alert operator of an Army radar station at Opana spotted the approaching first wave of the attack force. The officers to whom those reports were relayed did not consider them significant enough to take action. The report of the submarine sinking was handled routinely, and the radar sighting was passed off as an approaching group of American planes due to arrive that morning.

The Japanese aircrews achieved complete surprise when they hit American ships and military installations on Oahu shortly before 8:00 a.m. They attacked military airfields at the same time they hit the fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor. The Navy air bases at Ford Island and Kaneohe Bay, the Marine airfield at Ewa and the Army Air Corps fields at Bellows, Wheeler and Hickam were all bombed and strafed as other elements of the attacking force began their assaults on the ships moored in Pearl Harbor. The purpose of the simultaneous attacks was to destroy the American planes before they could rise to intercept the Japanese.

Of the more than 90 ships at anchor in Pearl Harbor, the primary targets were the eight battleships anchored there. seven were moored on Battleship Row along the southeast shore of Ford Island while the USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) lay in drydock across the channel. Within the first minutes of the attack all the battleships adjacent to Ford Island had taken bomb and or torpedo hits. The USS West Virginia (BB-48) sank quickly. The USS Oklahoma (BB-37) turned turtle and sank. At about 8:10 a.m., the USS Arizona (BB-39) was mortally wounded by an armorpiercing bomb which ignited the ship's forward ammunition magazine. The resulting explosion and fire killed 1,177 crewmen, the greatest loss of life on any ship that day and about half the total number of Americans killed. The USS California (BB-44), USS Maryland (BB-46), USS Tennessee (BB-43) and USS Nevada (BB-36) also suffered varying degrees of damage in the first half hour of the raid.

There was a short lull in the fury of the attack at about 8:30 a.m. At that time the USS Nevada (BB-36), despite her wounds, managed to get underway and move down the channel toward the open sea. Before she could clear the harbor, a second wave of 170 Japanese planes, launched 30 minutes after the first, appeared over the harbor. They concentrated their attacks on the moving battleship, hoping to sink her in the channel and block the narrow entrance to Pearl Harbor. On orders from the harbor control tower, the USS Nevada (BB-36) beached herself at Hospital Point and the channel remained clear.

When the attack ended shortly before 10:00 a.m., less than two hours after it began, the American forces has paid a fearful price. Twenty-one ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged: the battleships USS Arizona (BB-39), USS California (BB-44), USS Maryland (BB-46), USS Nevada (BB-36), USS Oklahoma (BB-37), USS Pennsylvania (BB-38), USS Tennessee (BB-43) and USS West Virginia (BB-48); cruisers USS Helena (CL-50), USS Honolulu (CL-48) and USS Raleigh (CL-7); the destroyers USS Cassin (DD-372), USS Downes (DD-375), USS Helm (DD-388) and USS Shaw (DD-373); seaplane tender USS Curtiss (AV-4); target ship (ex-battleship) USS Utah (AG-16); repair ship USS Vestal (AR-4); minelayer USS Oglala (CM-4); tug USS Sotoyomo (YT-9); and Floating Drydock Number 2. Aircraft losses were 188 destroyed and 159 damaged, the majority hit before the had a chance to take off. American dead numbered 2,403. That figure included 68 civilians, most of them killed by improperly fused anti-aircraft shells landing in Honolulu. There were 1,178 military and civilian wounded.

Japanese losses were comparatively light. Twenty-nine planes, less than 10 percent of the attacking force, failed to return to their carriers.

The Japanese success was overwhelming, but it was not complete. They failed to damage any American aircraft carriers, which by a stroke of luck, had been absent from the harbor. They neglected to damage the shoreside facilities at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base, which played an important role in the Allied victory in World War II. American technological skill raised and repaired all but three of the ships sunk or damaged at Pearl Harbor (the USS Arizona (BB-39) considered too badly damaged to be salvaged, the USS Oklahoma (BB-37) raised and considered too old to be worth repairing, and the obsolete USS Utah (AG-16) considered not worth the effort). Most importantly, the shock and anger caused by the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor united a divided nation and was translated into a wholehearted commitment to victory in World War II.

At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II.

With diplomatic negotiations with Japan breaking down, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his advisers knew that an imminent Japanese attack was probable, but nothing had been done to increase security at the important naval base at Pearl Harbor. It was Sunday morning, and many military personnel had been given passes to attend religious services off base. At 7:02 a.m., two radar operators spotted large groups of aircraft in flight toward the island from the north, but, with a flight of B-17s expected from the United States at the time, they were told to sound no alarm. Thus, the Japanese air assault came as a devastating surprise to the naval base.

Much of the Pacific fleet was rendered useless: Five of eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged, and more than 200 aircraft were destroyed. A total of 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were wounded, many while valiantly attempting to repulse the attack. Japan's losses were some 30 planes, five midget submarines, and fewer than 100 men. Fortunately for the United States, all three Pacific fleet carriers were out at sea on training maneuvers. These giant aircraft carriers would have their revenge against Japan six months later at the Battle of Midway, reversing the tide against the previously invincible Japanese navy in a spectacular victory.

The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, President Roosevelt appeared before a joint session of Congress and declared, "Yesterday, December 7, 1941--a date which will live in infamy--the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." After a brief and forceful speech, he asked Congress to approve a resolution recognizing the state of war between the United States and Japan. The Senate voted for war against Japan by 82 to 0, and the House of Representatives approved the resolution by a vote of 388 to 1. The sole dissenter was Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, a devout pacifist who had also cast a dissenting vote against the U.S. entrance into World War I. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war against the United States, and the U.S. government responded in kind.

The American contribution to the successful Allied war effort spanned four long years and cost more than 400,000 American lives.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Herman H. Hanneken
United States Marine Corps

Recipient of Medal of Honor, two Navy Crosses, and a Silver Star, Bronze Star, among others

Herman Henry Hanneken (June 23, 1893 - August 23, 1986) was a United States Marine Corps officer and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor.

Beginning his career as an enlisted man, Hanneken served in the Banana Wars of the 1910s and 1920s. During the United States occupation of Haiti, he assassinated the resistance leader Charlemagne Peralte, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Subsequently granted a commission, Hanneken served in Haiti for several more months and was awarded a Navy Cross for killing another rebel leader. He received a second Navy Cross for his actions during the occupation of Nicaragua in the late 1920s.

After a decade of stateside duty, he served in the Pacific Theater of World War II. During this conflict, he was awarded the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star. He retired in 1948, after a thirty-four-year career, and was promoted in retirement to brigadier general.

Early years and career
Herman Henry Hanneken was born on June 23, 1893, in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended the Henrick Preparatory School in that city.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps as a private in July 1914, and served the following five years in the enlisted ranks, rising to the rank of sergeant.

Occupation of Haiti
The United States invaded Haiti in 1915 and occupied the country for 19 years. In the years following the initial invasion, rebel forces under Charlemagne Peralte conducted an armed resistance to the occupation. On the night of October 31- November 1, 1919, Hanneken assassinated the resistance leader, Peralte. Hanneken was disguised and led into the rebels camp in Northern Haiti by Jean-Baptiste Conze, one of Peralte's officers who betrayed the Haitian leader. In the short skirmish that ensued, Hanneken killed Peralte and about 1,200 of his followers were killed, captured, or dispersed. Hanneken subsequently circulated a photograph of Peralte's half-naked body tied to a door. However, the attempt to intimidate backfired and instead evoked sympathy for Peralte. Hanneken was awarded the Medal of Honor for "extraordinary heroism" and "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in actual conflict with the enemy" and, in December 1919, appointed a second lieutenant.

In another raid just five months after the death of Charlemagne, he shot and killed Osiris Joseph, another Haitian rebel leader who succeeded Charlemagne. He was awarded the Navy Cross for this act.

Upon appointment as a second lieutenant he was assigned to train the Haitian police force, the Gendarmerie. He was ordered to return to the United States in April 1920, and following his arrival at the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia, he was assigned to a special course at the Marine Corps Schools.

1920s service and occupation of Nicaragua
As a member of the 6th Regiment, First Lieutenant Hanneken sailed for Brazil to participate in the Brazilian Exposition. The unit returned to Quantico in the latter part of 1922, and several months later, he was transferred to the Marine Detachment, USS Antares where he assumed duties as commanding officer.

In January 1925, he was transferred to the Marine Barracks, Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey, and in April 1927, was detached to the Marine Barracks at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Again ordered to foreign shore duty in December 1928, he arrived in Corinto, Nicaragua in January of the following year. Upon his arrival in Nicaragua he was assigned to duty with the 2nd Brigade of Marines. The United States had invaded this Central American country in 1912 and had been occupying it since. A month after his arrival Hanneken captured another leader of the rebel forces resisting the invasion by the United States. He was awarded his second Navy Cross for "bringing in" General Jos Mara Jir—Én Ruano, the Guatemalan Chief of Staff of the Nicaraguan General Augusto Sandino.

Service in the 1930s
In July 1930, Hanneken returned to Quantico to attend the Company Officers' Course at the Marine Corps Schools. Upon graduation in January of the next year, he was transferred to the Marine Corps Base at San Diego, California, and later to the Naval Base, at San Pedro, California. His next assignment found him at the Marine Barracks, Mare Island, California, in August 1936, where during his tour of duty he was appointed a major.

Major Hanneken was ordered to Quantico in June 1938, and two months later reported for a course of instruction at that base in the Senior Course, Marine Corps Schools.

From June 1939 to December 1940, he was Commanding Officer, Marine Barracks, Naval Ammunition Depot, Hingham, Massachusetts. He was next ordered to New York to assume command of the Marine Detachment aboard the USS Harry Lee with additional duties as Transport Quartermaster.

World War II and later life
He served with the 1st Marine Division from June 1941 until November 1944, when he returned to the United States to command the 2nd Infantry Training Regiment and the Headquarters Battalion, at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California.

While with the famed 1st Marine Division his duties were varied. While Commanding Officer of the 7th Marines during the Guadalcanal campaign he was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy. During the Peleliu action he received the Legion of Merit for meritorious conduct in action, and during the Cape Gloucester operation he was decorated with the Bronze Star.

In September 1945, he was assigned as commanding officer of the Staging Regiment at the Marine Training and Replacement Command, San Diego Area, prior to his transfer to the Troop Training Unit, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet.

It was as Chief of Staff of that organization that he was transferred to the retired list for Marine Corps Officers. He retired on July 1, 1948, concluding a thirty-four-year career in the Marine Corps. He was advanced to his final rank of brigadier general upon his retirement for having been specially commended for service in actual combat.

Brigadier General Hanneken died on August 23, 1986 at the Veterans Hospital in LaJolla, California, and was buried with honors four days later at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California. He was 93 years old.

Honors and awards
Medal of Honor Navy Cross w/ 1 award star Silver Star
Legion of Merit Bronze Star Navy Presidential Unit Citation Navy Unit Commendation
Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal Mexican Service Medal Haitian Campaign Medal (1917)
World War I Victory Medal Nicaraguan Campaign Medal (1933) American Defense Service Medal American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 3 service stars World War II Victory Medal Haitian Military Medal w/ 2 gold stars Nicaraguan Medal of Merit

Medal of Honor citation

HANNEKEN, Herman Henry
2nd Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps
G. O. Navy Department, No. 536
June 10, 1920

Citation:
For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in actual conflict with the enemy near GRANDE RIVIERE, Republic of Haiti, on the night of October 31st-November 1st, 1919, resulting in the death of Charlemange Peralte, the supreme bandit chief in the Republic of Haiti, and the killing and capture and dispersal of about 1200 of his outlaw followers. Second Lieutenant Hanneken not only distinguished himself by his excellent judgement and leadership, but unhesitatingly exposed himself to great personal danger, and the slightest error would have forfeited not only his life but the lives of the detachments of Gendarmerie under his command. The successful termination of his mission will undoubtedly prove of untold value to the Republic of Haiti.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Day - 2011
What do people do?

Noah's personal thanks to President Barack Obama for bringing all the American troops out of Iraq and allowing them the sing the 1943 recorded song of Bing Crosby, "I'll Be Home for Christmas" which topped the charts as one of America's most popular holiday songs. This song touched the hearts of Americans who were still fighting in World War II. My thanks also goes to all military personnel for their service and dedication to our country. First verse of the lyrics that was written by James 'Kim' Gannon with music composed by Walter Kent.

"I'll be home for Christmas,
You can count on me.
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree."

Thanksgiving Day is traditionally a day for families and friends to get together for a special meal. The meal often includes a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, and vegetables. Thanksgiving Day is a time for many people to give thanks for what they have.

Chef Noah's Thanksgiving Turkey recipe

Ingredients
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons ground dried rosemary
2 tablespoons rubbed dried sage
2 tablespoons dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon lemon pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 (15 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 orange, cut into wedges
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 (750 milliliter) bottle champagne

Directions

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line a turkey roaster with long sheets of aluminum foil that will be long enough to wrap over the turkey.
Stir together the parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, lemon pepper, and salt in a small bowl. Rub the herb mixture into the cavity of the turkey, then stuff with the celery, orange, onion, and carrot. Truss if desired, and place the turkey into the roasting pan. Pour the chicken broth and champagne over the turkey, making sure to get some champagne in the cavity. Bring the aluminum foil over the top of the turkey, and seal. Try to keep the foil from touching the skin of the turkey breast or legs.

Bake the turkey in the preheated oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear. Uncover the turkey, and continue baking until the skin turns golden brown, 30 minutes to 1 hour longer. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 180 degrees.Remove the turkey from the oven, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Thanksgiving Day parades are held in some cities and towns on or around Thanksgiving Day. Some parades or festivities also mark the opening of the Christmas shopping season. Some people have a four-day weekend so it is a popular time for trips and to visit family and friends.

New York City

At 9 a.m. the 85th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will begin. The parade travels down Central Park West from 77th Street to Columbus Circle along Central Park South to 7th Avenue, down 7th Avenue to 42nd Street, along 42nd Street to 6th Avenue, down 6th Avenue to 34th Street and along 34th Street to Macy's Herald Square (34th Street). This will be televised.

Football

The Miami Dolphins will travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys and the Detroit Lions will host the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers for the traditional 2011 Thanksgiving Classic games. The Thanksgiving nightcap on the NFL Network will be the San Francisco 49ers traveling to play the Baltimore Ravens; this is the first Thanksgiving game for the 49ers since 1972, the first ever for the Ravens, and a game that puts 1st-year 49ers' head coach Jim Harbaugh against his brother, Ravens' head coach John Harbaugh.

Public life

Most government offices, businesses, schools and other organizations are closed on Thanksgiving Day. Many offices and businesses allow staff to have a four-day weekend so these offices and businesses also closed on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day. Public transit systems do not usually operate on their regular timetables.

Thanksgiving Day it is one of the busiest periods for travel in the USA. This can cause congestion and overcrowding. Seasonal parades and busy football games can cause disruption to local traffic.

Background

Thanksgiving Day has been an annual holiday in the United States since 1863. Not everyone sees Thanksgiving Day as a cause for celebration. Each year since 1970, a group of Native Americans and their supporters have staged a protest for a National Day of Mourning at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts on Thanksgiving Day. American Indian Heritage Day is also observed at this time of the year.

There are claims that the first Thanksgiving Day was held in the city of El Paso, Texas in 1598. Another early event was held in 1619 in the Virginia Colony. Many people trace the origins of the modern Thanksgiving Day to the harvest celebration that the Pilgrims held in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. However, their first true thanksgiving was in 1623, when they gave thanks for rain that ended a drought. These early thanksgivings took the form of a special church service, rather than a feast.

In the second half of the 1600s, thanksgivings after the harvest became more common and started to become annual events. However, it was celebrated on different days in different communities and in some places there were more than one thanksgiving each year. George Washington, the first president of the United States, proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1789.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stephen W. Pless, Major
United States Marine Corps
Medal of Honor recipient

NOAH'S NOTE: My thanks for this goes to former U.S. Marine Lt. Mark Byrd, Vietnam veteran helicopter pilot and now enjoys an artist-sculptor career. Mr. Byrd made a sculptor of Major Stephen W. Pless, which is located in Pless' hometown, Newnan, Georgia, at the Veterans Memorial Plaza. Visit http://www.markbyrd.com/ To view the sculptor and click on Memorial Sculptor of Stephen W. Pless. Mark Byrd now lives in Dallas, and he may be contacted at mark@markbyrd.com
*****
Stephen Wesley Pless (September 6, 1939 - July 20, 1969) was a major in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. He earned the Medal of Honor as a UH-1 Iroquois "Huey" helicopter pilot for rescuing soldiers trapped by heavy enemy fire. He was the only Marine aviator awarded the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War.

Childhood
Pless was born Stephen Pollard on September 6, 1939, in Newnan, Georgia. After his parents divorced, his mother Nancy Lassetter Pollard moved to Atlanta and remarried, to Berlin Pless. Stephen was adopted by his stepfather and took the Pless surname. He attended Decatur High School in Decatur before transferring to Georgia Military Academy in College Park, graduating from that school in 1957.

Early career
While a senior at Georgia Military Academy, Pless enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve on September 6, 1956, and served with the 1st Motor Transport Battalion in Atlanta. After graduation, he attended recruit training and advanced combat training at Parris Island, South Carolina, finishing in October 1957. He then served as an artillery surveyor with the 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, until September 1958.

While attending flight training at Pensacola, Florida, he was commissioned a second lieutenant on September 16, 1959. He was promoted to first lieutenant on March 16, 1960, and designated a naval aviator upon graduation from flight training on April 20, 1960.

Pless next served successively as squadron pilot with HMR(L)-262, Marine Aircraft Group 26 (MAG-26), at New River, North Carolina; with HMR(L)-264 aboard the USS Boxer (CV-21) and later the USS Wasp (CV-18); again with HMR(L)-262, Marine Aircraft Group 26, at New River; as Assistant Administrative Officer of HMR(L)-262 aboard the USS Shadwell (LSD-15); and as Squadron Adjutant, HMM-162, Marine Aircraft Group 26, at New River.

Vietnam War
Ordered to east Asia in June 1962, he saw duty as Assistant Administrative Officer of HMM-162, MAG-26, in Thailand, and at Da Nang, in the Republic of Vietnam. Upon his return to the United States in June 1963, he reported to Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida and served as a basic flight instructor, VT-1, and later as Officer in Charge, Aviation Officer Candidate School. He was promoted to captain on July 1, 1964.

After his detachment in April 1966, Pless was assigned duty as Brigade Platoon Commander, 1st ANGLICO, Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. In August 1966, he became Officer in Charge, Republic of Korea Detachment, and later Brigade Air Officer, 1st ANGLICO, Sub-Unit 1, with the 2d Brigade Korean Marine Corps, at Chu Lai, in the Republic of Vietnam. For his service in this capacity, he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal and the Korean Order of Military Merit.

From March 20 to September 22, 1967, Pless served in Vietnam as Assistant Operations Officer, VMO-6, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. During this time, he earned the Medal of Honor, the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, and 32 Air Medals.

Over the course of his time in Vietnam, Pless flew a total of 780 combat missions. He was the only Marine aviator awarded the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War.

A complete list of his medals and decorations include the Medal of Honor, the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, 38 Air Medals, the Navy Commendation Medal with valor device, the Purple Heart, the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Order of Military Merit, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Life after Vietnam

After his return from Vietnam, Pless served as an administrative assistant of Aviation Officer Candidate School at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. While serving in that capacity, he was promoted to major on November 7, 1967.

On January 16, 1969, four days before leaving office, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented Pless the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony. Also receiving the Medal of Honor that day was fellow Newnan, Georgia, native Joe M. Jackson, an Air Force pilot who, like Pless, had earned the nation's highest military decoration for an air rescue in Vietnam. Legend states that, upon realizing that both Pless and Jackson were from the same small Georgia town, President Johnson quipped "there must be something in the water down in Newnan".

The Department of Defense, recognizing the extreme circumstances of the helicopter rescue, awarded all three of Pless's crewmates decorations. Rupert Fairfield, Leroy Poulson, and John Phelps were each awarded the Navy Cross, the second highest Naval award for valor. The combined crew of four represent the most highly-decorated helicopter crew to fly in the Vietnam War.

Pless died in a motorcycle accident on July 20, 1969, just over six months after receiving the nation's highest award for gallantry in action. While driving across a drawbridge which connected the city of Pensacola to Pensacola Beach, his motorcycle plunged off the end of the open bridge into the water. The center span of the bridge opened horizontally, and Pless did not realize it was open until it was too late. His body was recovered by divers seven hours later. News of his death was overshadowed by the Apollo 11 moon landing, which occurred the same day.

Posthumous honors
The United States Navy honored Pless by naming a Maritime Prepositioning ship after him. Dedicated in the 1970s, the Jackson-Pless National Guard Armory in Newnan honors both of the town's Medal of Honor recipients.

The Huey helicopter which Pless flew during his Medal of Honor mission is on display at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia.

The Collings Foundation, of Stow, Massachusetts, currently owns and operates a VMO-6 UH-1E Huey flown by Pless in combat. This aircraft is a sistership to the MOH aircraft on display at Quantico. It is based in Houston, Texas with other aircraft of the Collings Foundation Viet Nam Memorial Flight. It is flown at airshows and special events.

Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: Major (then Capt.), U.S. Marine Corps, VMO-6, MAG-36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. Place and date: Near Quang Nai, Republic of Vietnam, August 19, 1967. Entered service at: Atlanta, Ga. Born: September 6, 1939, Newnan, Ga.

Citation
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a helicopter gunship pilot attached to Marine Observation Squadron 6 in action against enemy forces. During an escort mission Maj. Pless monitored an emergency call that 4 American soldiers stranded on a nearby beach were being overwhelmed by a large Viet Cong force. Maj. Pless flew to the scene and found 30 to 50 enemy soldiers in the open. Some of the enemy were bayoneting and beating the downed Americans. Maj. Pless displayed exceptional airmanship as he launched a devastating attack against the enemy force, killing or wounding many of the enemy and driving the remainder back into a treeline. His rocket and machinegun attacks were made at such low levels that the aircraft flew through debris created by explosions from its rockets. Seeing 1 of the wounded soldiers gesture for assistance, he maneuvered his helicopter into a position between the wounded men and the enemy, providing a shield which permitted his crew to retrieve the wounded. During the rescue the enemy directed intense fire at the helicopter and rushed the aircraft again and again, closing to within a few feet before being beaten back. When the wounded men were aboard, Maj. Pless maneuvered the helicopter out to sea. Before it became safely airborne, the overloaded aircraft settled 4 times into the water. Displaying superb airmanship, he finally got the helicopter aloft. Major Pless' extraordinary heroism coupled with his outstanding flying skill prevented the annihilation of the tiny force. His courageous actions reflect great credit upon himself and uphold the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

           Veterans Day
    11th Day-11th Month-11th Year

World War I - known at the time as "The Great War" - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of "the war to end all wars."

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday - a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation's history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first "Veterans Day Proclamation" which stated: "In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible."

On that same day, President Eisenhower sent a letter to the Honorable Harvey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans' Affairs (VA), designating him as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee.

In 1958, the White House advised VA's General Counsel that the 1954 designation of the VA Administrator as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee applied to all subsequent VA Administrators. Since March 1989 when VA was elevated to a cabinet level department, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has served as the committee's chairman.

The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.

The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.