Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bataan Islands and Corregidor

The American flags of the 4th Marine Regiment were burned to avoid capture on Corregidor on May 6, 1942. This is the last days of fighting before the order came to surrender to the Japanese. (Click on above map.)


During the morning action Major Williams fought beside his men, moving from position to position along the line. Captain Brook remembered, “He was everywhere along the line, organizing and directing our attack, always in the thick of it, seeming to bear a charmed life. I have heard men say that he was the bravest man they ever saw.”

From 0900 until 1030 the firefight proceeded without change in position. The lines were so close that none of the companies could shift a squad without drawing machine gun fire and artillery. All of the 4th Battalion was fighting without helmets, canteens, or even cartridge belts. However, the Marines had the advantage of being too close for the Japanese artillery to be of use. Small parties of Marines occasionally were dispatched to take out Japanese snipers who were firing into the rear of the Marine position from the beach area.

The Japanese were now facing a serious problem, which threatened to lose the battle for them. Each Japanese rifleman came ashore with 120 rounds of ammunition and two hand grenades. The machine gun sections carried only two cases totalling 720 rounds of ammunition and three to six grenades. The knee mortar sections had only 36 heavy grenades and three light grenades. A large quantity of additional ammunition had been loaded on the landing craft due to the expected problems in resupplying the force. However, the ammunition crates had been hurriedly dumped overboard by the crews of the landing craft as they grounded on Corregidor and now few boxes could be recovered in the murky water. By morning most of the Japanese on Denver Hill were either out of ammunition or very close to it. Many Japanese soldiers were now fighting with the bayonet and even threw rocks at the Marines to hold the hill.

At 0900, Captain Herman Hauck, USA, reinforced the Marines and sailors with 60 members of his Coast Artillery battery. Williams placed the soldiers on the beaches to his left where heavy losses had whittled away at his strength. With the reinforcements some advance was made, but against strong enemy resistance. Nevertheless, much of the fighting was done with the bayonet, as the Japanese were running out of ammunition. The tide was beginning to turn against the Japanese. As Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma reflected one year after the surrender, “If the enemy had stood their ground 12 hours longer, events might not have transpired as smoothly as they did.”

The Japanese were able to set up a mortar battery on North Point and opened with telling effect on Williams’ left companies. Two squads were sent out to flank the guns, but ran into machine gun fire which wiped out almost the entire right squad. Three more squads were sent out, two to the left and one to the right of the mortars. After heavy fighting and loss, the deadly mortars were silenced.

The machine gun at the head of the draw at Cavalry Point also had held up the progress of the advance. U.S. Army Lieutenant Otis E. Saalman of the 4th Battalion staff was ordered by Williams to go to the left and see what he could do to get the line moving. With the help of Captain Harold Dalness, USA, Saalman took a party of volunteers up the draw to silence the gun. The Americans crawled unobserved to within grenade range and then opened fire on the enemy with rifles and grenades. One of the Japanese defenders picked up a grenade and lifted it to throw it back at the Americans when it went off in his hand. The gun was at last silenced and the way lay open to link up with the 1st Battalion survivors to the east. Saalman was able to observe the Japanese landing area where he watched three Japanese tanks climbing off the beach.

The Japanese landed three tanks, two Type 97 tanks and a captured M-3. Two other tanks were lost 50 yards offshore while landing with the 2d Battalion, 61st Infantry. The surviving tanks were stranded on the beach due to the steep cliffs and beach debris and were left behind by the advancing infantry. In one hour, the tank crews and engineers worked a path off the beach. When the tanks reached the cliffs, they found the inclines too steep and were unable to move further. The Marines were alerted to the presence of the tanks and Gunner Ferrell went to Cavalry Point to investigate the rumors of tanks, and found the vehicles apparently hopelessly stalled.

At daylight the Japanese were able to cut a road to Cavalry Beach but were still prevented from moving inland by the slope behind the beach. Finally, the captured M-3 negotiated the cliff and succeeded in towing the remaining tanks up the cliff. By 0830, all three tanks were on the coastal road and moved cautiously inland. At 0900, Gunnery Sergeant Mercurio reported to Malinta Tunnel the presence of enemy armor.

At 1000 Marines on the north beaches watched as the Japanese began an attack with their tanks, which moved in concert with light artillery support. Private First Class Silas K. Barnes fired on the tanks with his machine gun to no effect. He watched helplessly as they began to take out the American positions. He remembered the Japanese tanks’ guns “looked like mirrors flashing where they were going out and wiping out pockets of resistance where the Marines were.” The Marines still had nothing in operation heavier than automatic rifles to deal with the enemy tanks. Word of the enemy armor caused initial panic, but the remaining Marine, Navy, and Army officers soon halted the confusion.

One of the Marines’ main problems was the steady accumulation of wounded men who could not be evacuated. Only four corpsmen were available to help them. No one in the battalion had first aid packets, or even a tourniquet. The walking wounded tried to get to the rear, but Japanese artillery prevented any move to Malinta Tunnel. No one could be spared from the line to take the wounded to the rear. At 1030 the pressure from the Japanese lines was too great and men began to filter back from the firing line. Major Williams personally tried to halt the men but to little avail. The tanks moved along the North Road with Colonel Sato personally pointing out the Marine positions. The tanks fired on Marine positions knocking them out one by one. At last Williams ordered his men to withdraw to prepared positions just short of Malinta Hill.

With the withdrawal of the 4th and 1st Battalions, the Japanese sent up a green flare as a signal to the Bataan artillery which redoubled its fire, and all organization of the two battalions ceased. Men made their way to the rear in small groups and began to fill the concrete trenches at Malinta Hill. The Japanese guns swept the area from the hill to Battery Denver and then back again several times. In 30 minutes only 150 men were left to hold the line.

The Japanese had followed the retreat aggressively and were within 300 yards of the line with tanks moving around the American right flank. Lieutenant Colonel Beecher moved outside the tunnel, shepherding his men back to Malinta hill. He knew his men would be thirsty and hungry and ordered Sergeant Louis Duncan to “See what you can do about it.” Duncan broke open the large Army refrigerators near the entrance to Malinta Tunnel, and soon was issuing ice-cold cans of peaches and buttermilk to the exhausted Marines.

At 1130 Major Williams returned to the tunnel and reported directly to Colonel Howard that his men could hold no longer. He asked for reinforcements and antitank weapons. Colonel Howard replied that General Wainwright had decided to surrender at 1200. Wainwright agonized over his decision and later wrote, “It was the terror vested in a tank that was the deciding factor. I thought of the havoc that even one of these beasts could wreak if it nosed into the tunnel.” Williams was ordered to hold the Japanese until noon when a surrender party arrived.

At 1200 the white flag came out of the tunnel and Williams ordered his men to withdraw to the tunnel and turn in their weapons. The end had come for the 4th Marines. Colonel Curtis ordered Captain Robert B. Moore to burn the 4th Marines Regimental colors. Captain Moore took the colors in hand and left the headquarters. On return, with tears in his eyes, he reported that the burning had been carried out. Colonel Howard placed his face into his hands and wept, saying, “My God, and I had to be the first Marine officer ever to surrender a regiment.”

The news of the surrender was particularly difficult for the men of the 2d and 3d Battalions who were ready to repel any renewed Japanese landing. Private First Class Ernest J. Bales first learned of the surrender when a runner arrived at his gun position at James Ravine, who announced, “We’re throwing in the towel, destroy all guns.” Bales and his comrades found the news incredible, “hard to take . . . couldn’t believe it.” One Marine tried to shoot the messenger but was wrestled to the ground.Private First Class Ben L. Lohman of 2d Battalion destroyed his automatic rifle, but “we didn’t know what the hell was going on,” as Japanese artillery continued to pound Corregidor long after the surrender. “The word was passed,” recalled Lohman, “go into Malinta Tunnel.” The men packed up their few belongings and marched toward the Japanese. Three Marines of 3d Battalion refused to surrender and boarded a small boat and made their escape out into the bay.

Sergeant Milton A. Englin commanded a platoon in the final defensive line outside Malinta Tunnel, and was prepared to deal with the Japanese tanks with armor-piercing rounds from his two 37mm guns. As he waited for the Japanese, an Army runner came out of the tunnel, shouting, “You have to surrender, and leave your guns intact.” Englin yelled back, “No! No! Marines don’t surrender.” The runner disappeared, but returned 15 minutes later, saying, “You have to surrender, or you will be courtmartialled after all this is over when we get back to the States.” Englin obeyed the order, but destroyed his weapons, instructing his men, “We aren’t going to leave any guns behind for Americans to be shot with.” The 4th Marines, 1,487 survivors, many in tears, destroyed their weapons and burned the American flags, and waited for the Japanese to come.

The defenders of Hooker Point were cut off from the rest of the island and were the last to surrender. They had finished the Japanese survivors of the 2d Battalion, 61st Infantry, in the daylight hours and for the rest of the day faced little opposition. As evening approached, they heard the firing on Corregidor diminish, and Forts Hughes and Drum fell silent. First Lieutenant Ray C. Lawrence, USA, and his second in command Sergeant Wesley C. Little of Company D, formed his men together at 1700, and marched to Kindley Field under a bedsheet symbolizing a flag of truce. The Marines soon found Japanese soldiers, who took their surrender.

Marine casualties in the defense of the Philippines totaled 72 killed in action, 17 dead of wounds, and 167 wounded in action. Worse than the casualty levels caused by combat in the Philippines was the brutal treatment of Marines in Japanese hands. Of the 1,487 members of the 4th Marines captured on Corregidor, 474 died in captivity.

The Japanese recognized that the five-month battle for the Philippines was seen by the world as a defining contest of wills between the United States and Japan. Lieutenant General Masaham Homma, Japanese commander in the Philippines, recognized the critical nature of this conflict when he addressed his combat leaders in April 1942, saying:

The operations in the Bataan Islands and the Corregidor Fortress are not merely a local operation of the Great East Asia War . . . the rest of the world has concentrated upon the progress of the battle tactics on this small peninsula. Hence, the victories of these operations also will have a bearing upon the English and the Americans and their attitude toward continuing the war. And so they did.

Japanese Victory Parade Through Manila, Capital of the Philippine Islands

The capture and subsequent loss in 1942 of the original 4th Marines’ records prove at first daunting to any researcher of the period. The search for source material must begin with part IV of LtCol Frank 0. Hough, Maj Verle E. Ludwig, and Henry I. Shaw, Jr.’s History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II, vol 1, Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal (Washington: HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, 1958). This work proved to be the single best account of the regiment in the fall of the Philippines.

Other works of value include Hanson W. Baldwin’s “The Fourth Marines on Corregidor,” Marine Corps Gazette, Nov46-Feb47; Louis Morton, The Fall of the Philippines, The War in the Pacific: United States Army in World War II (Washington: Office of the Chief of Military History, 1953). Also useful were James H. and William M. Belote, Corregidor: The Saga of a Fortress (NY: Harper and Row, 1967); Reports of General MacArthur, vols I and II (Washington: GPO, 1966); Carl M. Holloway, Happy, the POW, (Brandon, Mississippi: Quail Ridge Press, 1981); Donald Versaw, The Last China Band (Lakewood, California: Peppertree Publications, 1990); and William R. Evans, Soochow and the 4th Marines (Rogue River, Oregon: Atwood Publications, 1987).The 4th Marines records which were brought out from Corregidor by submarine or retrieved from the prison camps after the war are found in the geographical and subject files in the Archives Section, Marine Corps Historical Center. The Personal Papers Collection proved to contain valuable items, including the Thomas R. Hicks journals, which contain a daily record of events of the regiment. Also of use were the Reginald H. Ridgely papers, Curtis T. Beecher memoir, Floyd 0. Schilling papers, Cecil J. Peart papers, James B. Shimel papers, Carter B. Simpson memoir, Wilbur Marrs memoir, and the Charles R. Jackson manuscript.Many other articles written by Marine participants or about the 4th Marines in the defense of the Philippines were consulted for this work.

The best sources, by far, for the 4th Marines experience in the fall of the Philippines are the survivors themselves. Capt Elmer E. Long, Jr., USMC (Ret) and CWO Gerald A. Turner, USMC (Ret), provided assistance in locating the surviving members of the “Old” 4th. More than 100 Marines have been interviewed as well as men from other services

Friday, April 27, 2007

My Adopted Hometown
Gulf Breeze, Florida

Gulf Breeze is a city located on the Fairpoint Peninsula in Santa Rosa County, Florida and is a suburb of Pensacola, FL. The population was 5,665 at the 2000 census. As of 2004, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 6,333, an 11.79 percent increase.

Gulf Breeze shares the rich history of Pensacola Bay. Shell mounds here date back over one thousand years, evidence of the Native Americans desire for seafood. The first European settlement was attempted in 1559 by Tristan de Luna, but was abandoned two years later. The Spanish returned in 1698, but transferred all of Florida to the British in 1763. It was the British who named Town Point. English Navy Cove was the area where ships were careened, a process of hauling ships aground to allow the hulls to be scraped free of barnacles.

Florida became American territory in 1821, and by 1824 a road ran through the peninsula all the way to St. Augustine. Part of this road can be traced in the Naval Live Oaks Reservation of the Gulf Islands National Seashore today. President John Quincy Adams authorized Naval Live Oaks, a federal tree farm dedicated to providing live oak timber for U.S. Navy ships, in 1828.

The Pensacola Navy Yard across the bay from Fair Point dates to 1825, and the Army began building forts to protect the yard and Pensacola Bay in 1829. Beginning with Fort Pickens, the Army built harbor forts off and on through World War II, all of which are located within the Gulf Islands National Seashore (a unit of the National Park System). Fort Pickens was one of only four forts in the South to be held by the Union for the duration of the American Civil War. In November 1861, Union-held Fort Pickens exchanged 6000 rounds of cannon fire for two days with Confederates at Fort Barrancas and Fort McRee. Both Confederate held forts were heavily damaged and the Confederates abandoned the area in May 1862.

In 1931 the first bridge across Pensacola Bay was opened to Gulf Breeze with great fanfare. This concrete drawbridge connected the cities until they were replaced by the current bridge 1960. The original bridge was converted into two fishing piers. Hurricane Ivan in 2004 substantially destroyed the fishing piers, and demolition of the remaining portion of the structure is ongoing as of 2007.

A wooden bridge to Pensacola Beach was also built in 1931; this structure was replaced with a concrete drawbridge in 1951. It, too, was repurposed as a fishing pier following the construction of a taller span, the Bob Sikes Bridge, in 1973.

Gulf Breeze traces its name to the Gulf Breeze Cottages and Store, which opened a post office branch in 1936 where Beach Road Plaza now stands. The community began to grow following the opening of the improved bay bridge in 1960, and continues to grow today.

From 1995 to 2005, Gulf Breeze has received several direct hits and severe blows from numerous hurricanes. In 1995, Hurricane Erin and Opal made landfall just south of the city. While Erin caused moderate damage to the area, Hurricane Opal devastated much of the community. Nine years later, in 2004, Hurricane Ivan made landfall west of the Gulf Breeze but caused widespread damage in the city, destroying many homes and businesses. In 2005, Hurricane Dennis passed just east of the city. Damage from this storm was more severe than that received in communities lying further west.

The City of Gulf Breeze is now often referred to as "Gulf Breeze Proper." This differentiates it from other communities further east which are assigned Gulf Breeze addresses by the U.S. Postal Service but lie outside of the city limits.

Growth of the city itself is geographically restricted, surrounded by major water bodies on three sides. Additionally, the eastern portion of Gulf Breeze is occupied by the Naval Live Oaks Reservation. As a result, new growth occurs outside of the city limits along U.S. Highway 98. This growth has been tremendous; many new subdivisions, schools, fire and police stations, and businesses have been built within a few miles of Gulf Breeze Proper.

Point of Interest
Gulf Breeze became famous in 1987 as the site of several UFO sightings. It has been referred to as the UFO capital of the United States.

AAA has designated Gulf Breeze as also one of seven "strict enforcement areas" for traffic laws in the United States. This rating is one level short of speed trap, and is only shared by six other cities and towns nationwide.

Gulf Breeze also received media attention for instituting a program to allow volunteers to drive police cars within the city and report traffic violations to police. Volunteers receive training in radio use and first aid but are not empowered to make arrests or traffic stops. The City of Gulf Breeze is known as a "Speed trap" due to a major east-west highway (U.S. HWY. 98) dividing the City in half.

As of the census of 2000, there were 5,665 people, 2,377 households, and 1,678 families residing in the city. The population density was 460.5/km² (1,192.0/mi²). There were 2,553 housing units at an average density of 207.5/km² (537.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.39% White, 0.25% African American, 0.55% Native American, 0.56% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.18% from other races, and 1.06% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.36 percent of the population.

There were 2,377 households out of which 28.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.7% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.4% were non-families. 25.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.3 percent under the age of 18, 4.6 percent from 18 to 24, 22.5% from 25 to 44, 29.7% from 45 to 64, and 20.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 89.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $52,522, and the median income for a family was $61,661. Males had a median income of $44,408 versus $28,159 for females. The per capita income for the city was $34,688. About 3.8% of families and 4.2 percent of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.5 percent of those under age 18 and 1. percent of those age 65 or over.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Alan Shepard - First US Astronaut

Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. (November 18, 1923 – July 21, 1998) (Rear Admiral, USN, Ret.) was the second person and the first American astronaut in space.

Born in East Derry, New Hampshire, Shepard graduated from Admiral Farragut Academy in 1941, received a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1944, an Honorary Master of Arts degree from Dartmouth College in 1962, an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) in 1971, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Franklin Pierce College in 1972. He graduated from the United States Naval Test Pilot School in 1951 and the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island in 1957.

Naval career
Shepard began his naval career after graduation from Annapolis, on the destroyer USS Cogswell deployed in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. He subsequently entered flight training at Corpus Christi, Texas and Pensacola, Florida, and received his wings in 1947. His next assignment was with Fighter Squadron 42 at Norfolk, Virginia and Jacksonville, Florida. He served several tours aboard aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean while with this squadron.
In 1950, he attended the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland. After graduation, he participated in flight test work which included high-altitude tests to obtain data on light at different altitudes and on a variety of air masses over the American continent; test and development experiments of the Navy's in-flight refueling system; carrier suitability trials of the F2H-3 Banshee; and Navy trials of the first angled carrier deck. He was subsequently assigned to Fighter Squadron 193 at Moffett Field, California, a night fighter unit flying Banshee jets. As operations officer of this squadron, he made two tours to the western Pacific on board the carrier USS Oriskany.

He returned to Patuxent for a second tour of duty and engaged in flight testing the F3H Demon, F8U Crusader, F4D Skyray, and F11F Tiger. He was also project test pilot on the F5D Skylancer, and his last five months at Patuxent were spent as an instructor in the Test Pilot School. He later attended the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, and upon graduating in 1957 was subsequently assigned to the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, as aircraft readiness officer.

He logged more than 8,000 hours flying time—3,700 hours in jet aircraft.

Shepard aboard Freedom 7

Astronaut career
Shepard was one of the Mercury astronauts named by NASA in April 1959 to Project Mercury, and he holds the distinction of being the first American to journey into space, as well as the only Mercury astronaut to walk on the Moon. On May 5, 1961, in the Freedom 7 spacecraft, he was launched by a Redstone rocket on a ballistic trajectory suborbital flight—a flight which carried him to an altitude of 116 statute miles and to a landing point 302 statute miles down the Atlantic Missile Range. Shortly before the launch, Shepard stated "Please, dear God, don't let me fuck up." This has since become known among aviators as "Shepard's Prayer."

Shepard did not fuck up - God did indeed keep him safe. On May 5, 1961, US Marine pilots retrieved astronaut US Navy Cdr. Alan Shepard from the water landing zone.

According to Gene Kranz in his book Failure Is Not an Option: "When reporters asked Shepard what he thought about as he sat atop the Redstone rocket, waiting for liftoff, he had replied, 'The fact that every part of this ship was built by the low bidder.'"

Later, he was scheduled to pilot the Mercury-Atlas 10 Freedom 7-II, three day extended duration mission in October 1963. The MA-10 mission was cancelled on June 13, 1963. He was the back-up pilot for Gordon "Gordo" Cooper for the MA-9 mission.

After the Mercury-Atlas 10 mission was cancelled in June 1963, Shepard was designated as the command pilot of the first manned Gemini mission. Thomas Stafford was picked as his co-pilot. But in early 1964, Shepard was diagnosed with Ménière's disease, a condition in which fluid pressure builds up in the inner ear. This syndrome causes the semicircular canals and motion detectors to become extremely sensitive, resulting in disorientation, dizziness, and nausea. This condition caused him to be removed from flight status for most of the 1960s (Gus Grissom and John Young were assigned to Gemini 3 instead).

Also in 1963, he was designated Chief of the Astronaut Office with responsibility for monitoring the coordination, scheduling, and control of all activities involving NASA astronauts. This included monitoring the development and implementation of effective training programs to assure the flight readiness of available pilot/non-pilot personnel for assignment to crew positions on manned space flights; furnishing pilot evaluations applicable to the design, construction, and operations of spacecraft systems and related equipment; and providing qualitative scientific and engineering observations to facilitate overall mission planning, formulation of feasible operational procedures, and selection and conduct of specific experiments for each flight.

He was restored to full flight status in May 1969, following corrective surgery (using a newly developed method) for Ménière's disease. He was originally assigned to command Apollo 13, but as it was felt he needed more time to train, he and his crewmates (lunar module pilot Edgar Mitchell and command module pilot Stuart Roosa) swapped missions with the then crew of Apollo 14 (James Lovell, Ken Mattingly - who was himself replaced by Jack Swigert shortly before the mission - and Fred Haise).

At age 47, and the oldest astronaut in the program, Shepard made his second space flight as commander of Apollo 14, January 31–February 9, 1971, man's third successful lunar landing mission. Shepard was a Rear Admiral when he retired from the Navy and the Astronaut Corps on August 1, 1974.

Awards and honors
During his life he was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor; two NASA Distinguished Service Medals, the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, Naval Astronaut Wings, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, and the Distinguished Flying Cross; recipient of the Langley Award (highest award of the Smithsonian Institution) on May 5, 1964, the Lambert Trophy, the Iven C. Kincheloe Award, the Cabot Award, the Collier Trophy, the City of New York Gold Medal (1971), Achievement Award for 1971.

Shepard was appointed by the President in July 1971 as a delegate to the 26th United Nations General Assembly and served through the entire assembly which lasted from September to December 1971.

Shepard is also remembered for being the only person to play golf on the Moon with a Wilson six-iron head attached to a lunar sample scoop handle. His first shot, which he duffed, only went a hundred feet, but his second shot, which he hit squarely (with only one arm, as the bulkiness of his 21-layer spacesuit prevented him from using both arms), sent the ball as he said "miles and miles."

The Navy named a supply ship, Alan Shepard (T-AKE-2), for him in 2006. A geodesic dome was built in his honor in Virginia Beach, Virginia but demolished in 1994. Interstate 93 in New Hampshire, from the Massachusetts border to its intersection with Route 101 in Manchester, is named in his honor. It passes through his native Derry.

Derry almost changed its name to "Spacetown", considering it in honor of his career as an astronaut.

His high school alma mater in Derry, Pinkerton Academy, has a building named after him, and the school team name is the Astros after his career as an astronaut.

Alan B. Shepard High School, in Palos Heights, Illinois, which opened in 1976, was named in his honor. Framed newspapers throughout the school depict various accomplishments and milestones in Shepard's life. Additionally, an autographed plaque commemorates the dedication of the building.

Later years
Always a shrewd businessman, Shepard was the only astronaut to become a millionaire while still in the program. After he left the program, he served on the boards of many corporations under the auspices of his Seven-Fourteen Enterprises (named for his two flights, Freedom 7 and Apollo 14).

In 1988, he teamed up with fellow Mercury Seven astronaut Deke Slayton to write Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon It was turned into a TV miniseries in 1994.

Shepard died of leukemia near his home in Pebble Beach, California on July 21, 1998, at age 74, two years after being diagnosed with that disease. His wife of 53 years, the former Louise Brewer, died five weeks afterward. They had two daughters, Laura (born in 1947) and Juliana (born in 1951), and had also raised a niece, Alice (born in 1951). He also had six grandchildren. Laura had a daughter, Lark and son, Bart. Juliana had a daughter, Ethney and son, Shepard. Alice had a son, Reid, and a daughter, Heather.

Like other astronauts, Shepard has many schools and other institutions named in his honor, including the Alan B. Shepard Post Office in his birthplace of Derry, New Hampshire.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
(The picture is Burruss Hall, signature building on the Virginia Tech campus.)
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, better known as Virginia Tech, is a public land grant polytechnic university in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA. Although it is a comprehensive university with many departments, the agriculture, engineering, architecture, forestry, and veterinary medicine programs are considered to be among its strongest. It is also one of the few public universities in the United States, along with Texas A&M University, which continues to maintain a corps of cadets (a full-time military training component within a larger civilian university).

In addition to its research and academic programs, Virginia Tech is known for its campus and location in the New River Valley of southwestern Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a part of the Appalachian Mountains. The university's public profile has also been raised significantly in recent years by the success of its football program.

In 1872, the Virginia General Assembly purchased the facilities of a small Methodist school called the Olin and Preston Institute in rural Montgomery County with federal funds provided by the Morrill Act. The Commonwealth incorporated a new institution on that site, a state-supported land grant military institute called the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College.

Under the 1891-1907 presidency of John M. McBryde, the school reorganized its academic programs into a traditional four-year college setup (including the renaming of the mechanics department to engineering); this led to an 1896 name change to Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute. The "Agricultural and Mechanical College" section of the name was popularly omitted almost immediately, though the name was not officially changed to Virginia Polytechnic Institute until 1944 as part of a short-lived merger with what is now Radford University. VPI achieved full accreditation in 1923, and the requirement of participation in the Corps of Cadets was dropped from four years to two that same year (for men only; women, when they began enrolling in the 1920s, were never required to join).

VPI President T. Marshall Hahn, whose tenure ran from 1962 to 1974, was responsible for many of the changes that shaped the modern institution of Virginia Tech. The merger with Radford was dissolved in 1964, and in 1966, the school dropped the two-year military Corps training requirement for its male students. In 1973, women were allowed to join the Corps; Virginia Tech was the first school in the nation to open its military wing to women. One of Hahn's more controversial missions was only partially achieved. He had visions of renaming the school from VPI to Virginia State University, reflecting the status it had achieved as a full-fledged public education & research university. As part of this move, Virginia Tech would have taken over control of the state's other land-grant institution, a historically black college in Ettrick, Virginia, south of Richmond, then called Virginia State College. This plan failed to take root, and that school eventually became Virginia State University. As a compromise, VPI added "and State University" to its name in 1970, yielding the current formal name of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. In the early 1990s, the school quietly authorized the official use of Virginia Tech as equivalent to the full VPI&SU name. Many school documents today use the shorter name, though diplomas and transcripts still spell out the formal name. Similarly, the abbreviation VT is far more common today than VPI or VPI&SU, and appears everywhere, from athletic uniforms, to the university's Internet domain name

Virginia Tech was the site,
April 16, 2007, of a school shooting that claimed 33 lives. Preliminary investigation pointed to Cho Seung-hui, a 23-year-old South Korean undergraduate student at the university, who was suspected to have acted alone.

For the fall 2006 freshman class, Virginia Tech received 19,046 applications and accepted 67% of applicants (about 12,700). 39% of those accepted (approximately 5000 students) chose to enroll. Approximately 21 percent of the freshman class was filled by early decision candidates. Average grades increased, but SAT scores declined slightly. The typical fall 2006 freshman had a high school grade point average of 3.74, with a middle range of 3.38 to 3.95. The average cumulative SAT score was 1201, down two points from the previous year's average of 1203.

Virginia Tech offers 60 Bachelor's degree programs and 140 Master's and Doctoral degree programs through the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, the College of Architecture & Urban Studies, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, the Pamplin College of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Natural Resources, the College of Science, and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers the only two-year associate's degree program on campus, in agricultural technology. The ten most popular majors for the incoming class of 2005 were University Studies (Undeclared), General Engineering, Business (Undeclared), Biology, Communication, Psychology, Marketing, Political Science, Animal and Poultry Sciences, and Architecture.

Virginia Tech ranked 34th among national public universities and 77th among all national universities. Its College of Engineering undergraduate program was ranked 9th among engineering schools at public universities and 17th in the nation among all accredited engineering schools that offer doctorates. Seven different undergraduate programs in the College of Engineering are ranked in the top 25 among peer programs nationally - the industrial engineering program is ranked 7th; civil engineering, 11th; environmental engineering, 11th; mechanical engineering, 15th; aerospace engineering, 16th; electrical engineering, 20th; and chemical engineering, 23rd. Its Pamplin College of Business undergraduate program is ranked 22nd among the nation's public institutions and 52nd among all undergraduate business programs.

The architecture and landscape architecture programs in Virginia Tech's College of Architecture and Urban Studies are ranked among the very best in America. In its 2006 report, DesignIntelligence, the only national college ranking survey focused exclusively on design, ranked the undergraduate architecture program 7th nationally and 4th in the East. DesignIntelligence also ranked the university’s undergraduate landscape architecture program 8th in the nation and 2nd in the East.

The university's academic community has coined a word associated with the distribution of old test and study materials, referred to as "koofers".
On January 3, 2007 Virginia Tech along with Carilion Health System announced the creation of a new medical school that will be a joint venture between the two organizations. The first class is scheduled to be admitted in either 2009 or 2010. The new medical school will have approximately 40 students per class, making it a very small medical school. It will be located in Roanoke next to the Carilion Health System hospital.

The Virginia Tech campus is located in Blacksburg, Virginia. The central campus is roughly bordered by Prices Fork Road to the northwest, Plantation Drive to the west, Main Street to the east, and 460-bypass to the south, though it has several thousand acres beyond the central campus. The university has established branch campus centers in Hampton Roads (Virginia Beach), the National Capital Region (Falls Church - Alexandria, Virginia), Richmond, Roanoke, and the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon.

On the Blacksburg campus, the majority of the buildings incorporate Hokie Stone as building material. Hokie Stone is a medley of different colored limestone, often including dolomite. Each block of Hokie Stone is some combination of gray, brown, black, pink, orange, and maroon. The limestone is mined from various quarries in Southwestern Virginia, Tennessee, and Alabama, one of which has been operated by the university since the 1950s. An example of architecture incorporating Hokie Stone is Torgersen Bridge, a relatively new building on Virginia Tech's campus.

Virginia Tech also has one of the top dining programs in the country; it is currently ranked #2 by the Princeton Review. It has seven dining centers which included Squires food court (Au Bon Pain & Sbarro), Owens Food Court, Hokie Grill (Chick-fil-A, Pizza Hut, Cinnabon), D2 & DXpress, Shultz & Shultz Express, Deets Place, and the high end West End Market. Virginia Tech also has a catering center, Personal Touch Catering.

The University is protected by its own Police force, the Virginia Tech Police.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Medal of Honor
On December 9, 1861 Iowa Senator James W. Grimes introduced S. No. 82 in the United States Senate, a bill designed to "promote the efficiency of the Navy" by authorizing the production and distribution of "medals of honor". On December 21st the bill was passed, authorizing 200 such medals be produced "which shall be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen and marines as shall distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other seamanlike qualities during the present war (Civil War)." President Lincoln signed the bill and the (Navy) Medal of Honor was born.

Two months later on February 17, 1862 Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson introduced a similar bill, this one to authorize "the President to distribute medals to privates in the Army of the United States who shall distinguish themselves in battle." Over the following months wording changed slightly as the bill made its way through Congress. When President Abraham Lincoln signed S.J.R. No. 82 on July 12, 1862, the Army Medal of Honor was born. It read in part:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States be, and he is hereby, authorized to cause two thousand "medals of honor" to be prepared with suitable emblematic devices, and to direct that the same be presented, in the name of the Congress, to such non--commissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities, during the present insurrection (Civil War)."

With this simple and rather obscure act Congress created a unique award that would achieve prominence in American history like few others.

The Medal of Honor was first awarded during the Civil War. Of the millions of Americans who have served in our nations armed forces only 3,408 have received America's highest award for valor. Among those few are seven alumni of Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech has more honorees than any other institution of higher learning with the exception of West Point and Annapolis.

The Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M also has 7 Medal of Honor recipients. This is particularly significant when considering that just over half of the nation's medals were awarded prior to Virginia Tech's founding during the Civil War.

Antoine A.M. Gaujot, Class of 1901 and Julien E. Gaujot, Class of 1894 are two of the few brothers ever awarded the Medal of Honor and only pair to receive the Medal for actions in different wars. Antoine Gaujot received the medal for actions as an army corporal at the Battle of San Mateo during the Philippine Insurrection. He made persistent effort under heavy enemy rifle fire to locate a ford in order to help his unit cross the swollen river to attack. Unable to accomplish this he swam with a companion again under fire and against a dangerous current across the river to the enemy side. There, he secured an enemy canoe and returned it to the friendly side of the river.

Julien, his brother and a regular army officer, became obsessed with his brother's achievement. Referring to Antoine, Julien said "He wears it for a watch fob, the damn civilian, I got to get me one of them things for myself if I bust." Julien Gaujot received the medal for actions on the Mexican Border in 1914. He is the only soldier ever awarded the Medal for actions of a peacekeeping nature. In Douglas, Arizona, stray bullets from fighting among Mexican rebels and government troops caused American casualties. Julien Gaujot crossed the border under heavy fire. He moved between the two groups of belligerents for an hour, amongst heavy fire. This secured the safe passage of the Mexican soldiers and American prisoners over the border to the United States. His actions saved five Americans taken prisoner by the Mexicans, 25 Mexican soldiers plus Americans and Mexican rebels who would have died in continued fighting.

Earle D. Gregory, Class of 1923, a native of Chase City and graduate of Fork Union Military Academy, studied Electrical Engineering at Virginia Tech. As a senior at Virginia Tech he was a Cadet Captain and company commander, President of the Corps of Cadets, and selected as Most Popular Cadet. Earle Gregory received the Medal of Honor for actions as an army sergeant during the Meuse Argonne Offensive in World War I. He is considered to be the first Virginian to receive the medal and often called the Sergeant York of Virginia. Earle Gregory armed with a rifle and a mortar shell used as a hand grenade, single handedly captured a machine gun and three enemy soldiers. Continuing his advance he captured a howitzer and 19 enemy soldiers.

Herbert J. Thomas, Class of 1944, a native of Charleston, West Virginia and graduate of South Charleston High School, studied Business Administration at Virginia Tech. Cadet Sergeant Herbert Thomas was a legendary football player and is a member of Virginia Tech's Athletic Hall of Fame. His senior year he was the second highest scorer in the Southern Conference and received All American honors. He received the Medal of Honor for action on Bougainville Island in World War II while a Sergeant in the Marine Corps. Through dense jungle and severe machine gun fire Herbert Thomas led his men in destroying two enemy machine gun positions. Halted by a third enemy machine gun, he positioned his men to rush the enemy after he threw a hand grenade. He threw the grenade only to have the jungle vines drop it back among his men. Seeing the danger to his men, he leaped upon the hand grenade, saving their lives with the sacrifice of his own.

Jimmie W. Monteith, Class of 1944, a native of Richmond and graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School, studied Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. While at Virginia Tech Cadet Monteith played football. Jimmie Monteith received the Medal of Honor for actions as an army lieutenant at D-Day during World War II. Without regard for his own safety he led the assault over exposed beach to the cover a narrow ledge. Leaving cover he moved toward two tanks. Exposed to intense artillery and machine gun fire, he led them through a minefield and directed the tank fire, destroying several enemy positions. He then returned to his men and he led them in the capture of an advantageous position. Against vicious enemy counterattacks he repetitively crossed open terrain under heavy fire to strengthen his unit's defense until he was killed.

Robert E. Femoyer, Class of 1944, an Eagle Scout, graduated from Saint Joseph Catholic High School in Huntington, West Virginia. Robert Femoyer studied Civil Engineering at Virginia Tech. During World War II he enlisted in the Army Air Force and is the only navigator awarded the Medal of Honor. On a bombing mission over Germany, he was wounded by enemy aircraft fire, which seriously damaged his B-17 bomber. Despite extreme pain and great loss of blood he refused morphine in order to keep his mental faculties clear. For two and half-hours he guided the lone bomber through six changes in course around enemy antiaircraft concentrations. Bleeding steadily he worked with amazing clarity despite pain described as "almost beyond the realm of human endurance". As the crippled aircraft crossed safely over the English Channel, Lieutenant Robert Femoyer finally allowed an injection of morphine. Thirty minutes after landing he died of wounds.

Richard Shea, Class of 1948, a native of Portsmouth, graduated from Churchland High School. He first studied in uniform at Virginia Tech at the height of World War II. Enlisting in the army, he served as a Sergeant, and entered West Point where he graduated. He was an All American in track and said to have been the greatest track star to attend Virginia Tech (where he ran his first competitive race) or West Point. Turning down the opportunity to attend the Olympics he joined his classmates in the Korean War. Richard Shea received the Medal of Honor for actions as an army first lieutenant at Pork Chop Hill during the Korean War. Fighting outnumbered, he voluntarily proceeded to the area most threatened, organizing and leading a counterattack. During the bitter fighting, he killed two enemy with his trench knife. In over 18 hours of heavy fighting he moved among the defenders of Pork Chop Hill ensuring a successful defense. Leading a counterattack he killed three enemy soldiers single-handedly. Although wounded, he refused evacuation. He was last seen fighting hand-to-hand during yet another counterattack. He left behind a wife and unborn son.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Gen. Anthony Zinni, USMC (Ret.)

Anthony Charles Zinni (born September 17, 1943) is a retired general in the United States Marine Corps and a former Commander in Chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). In 2002, he was selected to be a special envoy for the United States to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He has been a public critic of the Bush administration and did not support the decision to go to war in Iraq.

While serving as special envoy, Zinni was also an instructor in the Department of International Studies at the Virginia Military Institute. Presently, he is an instructor in the Department of Government at the College of William and Mary, a public speaker, and an author of two best-selling books on his military career and foreign affairs, most recently Battle for Peace. He also is involved in the corporate world, joining M.I.C. Industries as its president for International Operations in 2005. General Zinni also serves on the advisory boards of eight different companies, including the security testing firm, Mu Security, based in Sunnyvale, California.

Military career
In 1965, Zinni graduated from Villanova University with a degree in economics and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. After completion of The Basic School, he was assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, where he served as a Platoon Commander, Company Executive Officer, and company commander in the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. He also served as a company commander in the 1st Infantry Training Regiment during this tour.

In 1967, Zinni was assigned as an infantry battalion advisor to the Vietnamese Marine Corps. Following the Vietnam War, he was ordered to the Basic School where he served as a tactics instructor, platoon commander, and company executive officer. In 1970, he returned to Vietnam as a company commander in 1st Battalion, 5th Marines where he was wounded, evacuated, and subsequently assigned to the 3rd Force Service Support Group on Okinawa. There he served as a company commander and guard officer. In 1971, Zinni returned to the 2nd Marine Division where he served as a company commander in the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, Aide de Camp to the Commanding General, and Officer in Charge of the Infantry Training Center. In 1974, he was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps, where he was assigned as the Retention and Release Officer and Plans Officer in the Officer Assignment Branch of the Manpower Department.

Zinni again served in the 2nd Marine Division in 1978, as the Operations Officer of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Executive Officer of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, Executive Officer of the 8th Marine Regiment and Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines. In 1981, he was assigned as an operations and tactics instructor at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. He was next assigned to the Operations Division at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps where he served as the Head of the Special Operations and Terrorism Counteraction Section and as the Head, Marine Air-Ground Task Force Concepts and Capabilities Branch. In 1986, he was selected as a fellow on the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group. From 1987 to 1989, Zinni served on Okinawa as the regimental commander of the 9th Marine Regiment and the Commanding Officer of the 35th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which was twice deployed to the Philippines to conduct emergency security operations and disaster relief operations. Upon his return to the U.S., he was assigned as the Chief of Staff of the Marine Air-Ground Training and Education Center at Marine Corps Base Quantico.

His initial general officer assignment was as the Deputy Director of Operations at the U.S. European Command. In 1991, he served as the Chief of Staff and Deputy Commanding General of Combined Task Force Operation Provide Comfort during the Kurdish relief effort in Turkey and Iraq. He also served as the Military Coordinator for Operation Provide Hope, the relief effort for the former Soviet Union. In 1992-93, he served as the Director for Operations for the Unified Task Force Somalia for Operation Restore Hope. Also in 1993, he served as the Assistant to the U.S. Special Envoy to Somalia during Operation Continued Hope.

Zinni was assigned as the Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Virginia, from 1992 to 1994.
From 1994 to 1996, he served as the Commanding General, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. During early 1995, Zinni served as Commander of the Combined Task Force for Operation United Shield, protecting the withdrawal of U.N. forces from Somalia.

From September 1996 until August 1997, Zinni served as the Deputy Commander in Chief, United States Central Command. His final tour was from August 1997 to September 2000 as the Commander in Chief, United States Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. He organized Operation Desert Fox, a series of airstrikes against Iraq during December 1998, with the stated purpose of degrading Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction program.

He attended The Basic School, Army Special Warfare School, Amphibious Warfare School, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the National War College. He holds a bachelor's degree in Economics, a master of arts degree in International Relations, and a master of arts degree in Management and Supervision.

Zinni’s decorations include: the Defense Distinguished Service Medal; the Defense Superior Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters; the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” and gold star in lieu of a second award; the Purple Heart; the Meritorious Service Medal with gold star in lieu of a second award; the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V” and gold star in lieu of second award; Navy Achievement Medal with gold star in lieu of a second award; the Combat Action Ribbon; and 36 unit, service and campaign awards. In addition to his U.S. military decorations, Zinni holds decorations from Bahrain, Egypt, France, Italy, Kuwait, South Vietnam, and Yemen, including the Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal (First Class); the National Order of Merit (France); the Order of Merit of the Republic (Italy); the Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm; the Vietnam Civil Actions Medal (First Class); the Vietnam Campaign Medal; and the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait).

His son, a captain, currently serves in the Marine Corps.

Testimony before Congress
In 2000, Zinni testified before Congress that "Iraq remains the most significant near-term threat to U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf region. This is primarily due to its large conventional military force, pursuit of WMD, oppressive treatment of Iraqi citizens, refusal to comply with United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR), persistent threats to enforcement of the No Fly Zones (NFZ), and continued efforts to violate UN Security Council sanctions through oil smuggling," Zinni told Congress on March 15, 2000.

"While Iraq's WMD capabilities were degraded under UN supervision and set back by Coalition strikes, some capabilities remain and others could quickly be regenerated. Despite claims that WMD efforts have ceased, Iraq probably is continuing clandestine nuclear research, retains stocks of chemical and biological munitions, and is concealing extended-range SCUD missiles, possibly equipped with CBW payloads. Even if Baghdad reversed its course and surrendered all WMD capabilities, it retains the scientific, technical, and industrial infrastructure to replace agents and munitions within weeks or months. A special concern is the absence of a UN inspection and monitoring presence, which until December 1998 had been paramount to preventing large-scale resumption of prohibited weapons programs. A new disarmament regime must be reintroduced into Iraq as soon as possible and allowed to carry out the mandates dictated by the post-Gulf War UN resolutions."

Zinni also warned about terrorism: "Extremists like Osama bin Laden and his World Islamic Front network benefit from the global nature of communications that permits recruitment, fund raising, and direct connections to sub-elements worldwide . . . Terrorists are seeking more lethal weaponry to include: chemical, biological, radiological, and even nuclear components with which to perpetrate more sensational attacks . . . Three [Iraq, Iran and Sudan] of the seven recognized state-sponsors of terrorism are within this potentially volatile area, and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan has been sanctioned by the UN Security Council for its harboring of Osama bin Laden. Nearly one half of the 28 recognized terrorist organizations have operational sites within the region. Afghanistan has emerged as a catalyst for regional instability offering sanctuary, support, and training facilities to a growing number of extremist elements."

Opinions on 2003 invasion of Iraq
In the late 1990s, Zinni said that the U.S. risked entering a "Bay of Goats" if it relied on exiles such as the Iraqi National Congress to liberate Iraq, a reference to the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

In May, 2004 his memoir, co-authored with Tom Clancy, "Battle Ready" was published. It features stinging criticism of the planning for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and more specifically, the post-battle planning. In a widely reported speech at a dinner in May 2004, Zinni detailed 10 serious criticisms of the rationale and execution of the war, summarised below:

The war planners "misjudged the success of containment" - the existing policy of trade sanctions and maintaining troops in the area.

The "strategy was flawed" - the strategy being that invading, occupying, and setting up a new government in Iraq would help solve the broader conflicts in the Middle East. Zinni said "couldn't believe what I was hearing about the benefits of this strategic move."

The Bush administration "had to create a false rationale for going in to get public support." Zinni said that "the books were cooked, in my mind. The intelligence (that supported the claims made to support the need for war) was not there."
The war planners failed "to internationalize the effort," by gaining the support of allies or unambiguously gaining UN endorsement of an invasion.

The "fifth mistake was that we underestimated the task." Zinni clarified this in his speech to mean the broader task of creating a free, democratic, and functional Iraq.

The sixth mistake was "propping up and trusting the exiles." The exiles Zinni refers to are groups like the Iraqi National Congress and its controversial leader Ahmed Chalabi.

Zinni criticized the "lack of planning" for the post-war stablization and reconstruction of Iraq.

"The eighth problem was the insufficiency of military forces on the ground." Zinni, in his former position, had devised a battle plan for conquering and occupying Iraq in the 1990s, which featured far more troops, as did alternative plans presented to Donald Rumsfeld before the war. The extra troops were needed to "freeze the security situation because we knew the chaos that would result once we uprooted an authoritarian regime like Saddam's."

"The ninth problem has been the ad hoc organization we threw in there." Zinni criticises what he views as the lack of staff, skills, experience, and clear structure in the Coalition Provisional Authority.

According to Zinni, "that ad hoc organization has failed", "leading to the tenth mistake, and that's a series of bad decisions on the ground". These bad decisions include the excessive zeal in "de-Baathification," removing people only peripherally involved in the Baath Party who were Baathists purely to be permitted to conduct their profession or business, the decision to disband the Iraqi army.

An effort to get him to run for the US Senate has stalled indefinitely. Zinni has said he will never run for office. He says his decision to endorse President Bush in 2000 was a mistake. He plans to avoid politics in the future. However, On March 3, 2006 Zinni joined fellow former U.S. Marines General Joseph P. Hoar, Lt. General Greg Newbold, Lt. General Frank Petersen, and Congressman Jack Murtha in endorsing fellow former U.S. Marine and Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb for U.S. Senate in Virginia.

Post-military career
Zinni holds positions on several boards of directors of major U.S. companies. In addition, he has held academic positions that include the Stanley Chair in Ethics at the Virginia Military Institute, the Nimitz Chair at the University of California, Berkeley, the Hofheimer Chair at the Joint Forces Staff College, and the Harriman Professorship of Government and membership on the board of the Reves Center for International Studies at the College of William and Mary. He has worked with the University of California's Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation and the Henry Dunant Centre for humanitarian dialogue in Geneva. He is also a Distinguished Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

His civilian awards include the Papal Gold Cross of Honor, the Union League's Abraham Lincoln Award, the Italic Studies Institute's Global Peace Award, the Distinguished Sea Service Award from the Naval Order of the United States, the Eisenhower Distinguished Service Award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, The Chapman Award from the Marine Corps University Foundation, the Penn Club Award, the St. Thomas of Villanova Alumni Medal, the George P. Shultz Award for Public Service from the U.S. Department of State, and UNICO National's Grand Patriot Award.

In 2006, Zinni argued that more troops are needed in Iraq, agreeing with Arizona Senator John McCain.

In April 2004, Zinni gave a lecture entitled "From the Battlefield to the Negotiating Table: Preventing Deadly Conflict" at the University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Daniel Joseph Daly
One of the Few, the Proud, the Marines
Two-time Medal of Honor recipient
Place of birth: Glen Cove, New York
Place of death: Glendale, Queens, New York
Sergeant Major
Battles/wars: Boxer Rebellion,Battle of Belleau Wood
Awards: Medal of Honor (2)Navy Cross,Distinguished Service Cross,Croix de GuerreMedaille Militaire

Medal of Honor
Sergeant Major Daniel Joseph "Dan" Daly (November 11, 1873 – April 27, 1937) was a United States Marine and one of only 19 men (and two Marines) to receive the Medal of Honor twice for two separate acts of heroism. (The other such Marine was Major General Smedley Butler).

Dan Daly is well remembered for his famous cry during the Battle of Belleau Wood, when, besieged, outnumbered, outgunned, and pinned down, he led his men in attack, shouting, "Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?"

Marine Corps service
Daly was born in Glen Cove, New York, on November 11, 1873. Hoping to participate in the Spanish-American War, he joined the Marine Corps in January 1899. However, the war ended before he finished training.

In 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion, he received his first Medal of Honor for single-handedly defending his position against repeated attacks and inflicted casualties of around 200 on the attacking Boxers.

His second Medal of Honor came fifteen years later. On the night of October 24, 1915, he was part of a group of 35 Marines who were ambushed by a force of approximately 400 Cacos (Haitian bandits). He led one of the three groups of men during the fight to reach a nearby fort, and was awarded the medal for his conspicuous actions.

Daly's battle cry, delivered during the fighting in the Battle of Belleau Wood, in June 1918, came as the Marines were taking a terrific pounding on the outskirts of Lucy le Bocage at the fringe of Belleau Wood. Daly chose to order an attack, and, leaping forward, yelled to his tired men, "Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?" (Daly was, perhaps unknowingly, quoting Friedrich der Große who asked, on 18 June 1757 at the Battle of Kolin, "Kerls, wollt ihr denn ewig leben?") (Men, do you want to live eternally?). For this and other actions during the battle, Daly was awarded the Navy Cross.

Daly was offered a commission on several occasions, but he always refused, on the grounds that he would rather be "an outstanding sergeant than just another officer".

Dan Daly retired from the Marine Corps on February 6, 1929, and died on April 27, 1937.

Decorations and honors

A complete list of Sergeant Major Daly's decorations and medals includes two Medal of Honor; the Navy Cross; Distinguished Service Cross; three Letters of Commendation; Good Conduct Medal with two bronze stars; China Relief Expedition Medal; Philippine Campaign Medal; Expeditionary Medal with one bronze star; Mexican Service Medal; Haitian Campaign Medal; World War I Victory Medal with Aisne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne and Defensive-Sector clasps; Medaille Militaire; Croix de Guerre with Palm; and the Fourragere (the last three awards from the French government).

The destroyer USS Daly (DD-519) was named for him.
On November 10, 2005, the United States Postal Service issued its Distinguished Marines stamps in which Daly was honored, along with three other Marine Corps heroes. Besides Daly, these stamps honored John Basilone, John A. Lejeune, and Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Income Tax in the United States

April 15 (Tax Day) will soon be here. Our governments; federal, state, and some cities, have their eyes on us poor slobs who work for a living. The tax authority have their long arms stretched out with the palm of their hands in the upward position, as if to say, "feed it to me sucker." This is history on how it got started and where it is today. The states with no state income tax are; Alaska, Florida, Navada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wyoming, New Hampshire and Tennessee.

When George W. Bush became president, the national debt was $5.8 trillion. It is now $8.8 trillion. To be exact, on April 12, 2007, it will be $8,890,338,626,873.87. Since Bush has been in the Oval office, the national debt increased an average of $120 million each day.

The nation had few taxes in its early history. From 1791 to 1802, the United States government was supported by internal taxes on distilled spirits, carriages, refined sugar, tobacco and snuff, property sold at auction, corporate bonds, and slaves. The high cost of the War of 1812 brought about the nation's first sales taxes on gold, silverware, jewelry, and watches. In 1817, however, Congress did away with all internal taxes, relying on tariffs on imported goods to provide sufficient funds for running the government.

In 1862, in order to support the Civil War effort, Congress enacted the nation's first income tax law. It was a forerunner of our modern income tax in that it was based on the principles of graduated, or progressive, taxation and of withholding income at the source. During the Civil War, a person earning from $600 to $10,000 per year paid tax at the rate of 3%. Those with incomes of more than $10,000 paid taxes at a higher rate. Additional sales and excise taxes were added, and an “inheritance” tax also made its debut. In 1866, internal revenue collections reached their highest point in the nation's 90-year more than $310 million, an amount not reached again until 1911.

The Act of 1862 established the office of Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The Commissioner was given the power to assess, levy, and collect taxes, and the right to enforce the tax laws through seizure of property and income and through prosecution. The powers and authority remain very much the same today.

In 1868, Congress again focused its taxation efforts on tobacco and distilled spirits and eliminated the income tax in 1872. It had a short-lived revival in 1894 and 1895. In the latter year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the income tax was unconstitutional because it was not apportioned among the states in conformity with the Constitution.

In 1913, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution made the income tax a permanent fixture in the U.S. tax system. The amendment gave Congress legal authority to tax income and resulted in a revenue law that taxed incomes of both individuals and corporations. In fiscal year 1918, annual internal revenue collections for the first time passed the billion-dollar mark, rising to $5.4 billion by 1920. With the advent of World War II, employment increased, as did tax collections to $7.3 billion. The withholding tax on wages was introduced in 1943 and was instrumental in increasing the number of taxpayers to 60 million and tax collections to $43 billion by 1945.

In 1981, Congress enacted the largest tax cut in U.S. history, approximately $750 billion over six years. The tax reduction, however, was partially offset by two tax acts, in 1982 and 1984, that attempted to raise approximately $265 billion.

On Oct. 22, 1986, President Reagan signed into law the Tax Reform Act of 1986, one of the most far-reaching reforms of the United States tax system since the adoption of the income tax. The top tax rate on individual income was lowered from 50% to 28%, the lowest it had been since 1916. Tax preferences were eliminated to make up most of the revenue. In an attempt to remain revenue neutral, the act called for a $120 billion increase in business taxation and a corresponding decrease in individual taxation over a five-year period.

Following what seemed to be a yearly tradition of new tax acts that began in 1986, the Revenue Reconciliation Act of 1990 was signed into law on Nov. 5, 1990. As with the '87, '88, and '89 acts, the 1990 act, while providing a number of substantive provisions, was small in comparison with the 1986 act. The emphasis of the 1990 act was increased taxes on the wealthy.

On Aug. 10, 1993, President Clinton signed the Revenue Reconciliation Act of 1993 into law. The act's purpose was to reduce by approximately $496 billion the federal deficit that would otherwise accumulate in fiscal years 1994 through 1998. In 1997, Clinton signed another tax act. The act, which cut taxes by $152 billion, included a cut in capital-gains tax for individuals, a $500 per child tax credit, and tax incentives for education.

President George W. Bush signed a series of tax cuts into law. The largest was the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. It was estimated to save taxpayers $1.3 trillion over ten years, making it the third largest tax cut since World War II. The Bush tax cut created a new lowest rate, 10% for the first several thousand dollars earned. It also established a slow schedule of incremental tax cuts that would eventually double the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000, adjust brackets so that middle-income couples owed the same tax as comparable singles, cut the top four tax rates (28% to 25%; 31% to 28%; 36% to 33%; and 39.6% to 35%).

The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief and Reconciliation Act of 2003 accelerated the tax rate cuts that had been enacted in 2001, and temporarily reduced the tax rate on capital gains and dividends to 15%. In 2004, the U.S. was forced to eliminate a corporate tax provision that had been ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization. Along with that tax hike, Congress passed a cornucopia of tax breaks, which for individuals included an option to deduct the payment of whichever state taxes were higher, sales or income taxes.

Two tax bills signed in 2005 and 2006 extended through 2010 the favorable rates on capital gains and dividends that had been enacted in 2003, raised the exemption levels for the Alternative Minimum Tax, and enacted new tax incentives designed to persuade individuals to save more for retirement.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Barack Obama

The American voters will not nominate a candidate for president of either party for several months. However, we already see more people running at this early date than we have ever seen before. It's easy for most of us to see that many of them doesn't have a snowball chance in hell to get the nomination. Sen. Barack Obama is one of them. However, I can see a good chance that the Democratic nominee, John Edwards might pick Obama as his running mate. Both Edwards and Obama together, they will beat the Republicans in a landslide. Read some background on the African American senator from Illinois.

On January 16, 2007, Barack Obama took his first step toward a run for the White House opening an presidential exploratory committee.

Barack Obama is an US Senator from Illinois. He is (2007) the fifth African American Senator in United States history.

In his Washington speech January 25, 2007, he said: "In the 2008 campaign, affordable, universal health care for every single American must not be a question of whether, it must be a question of how. We have the ideas, we have the resources, and we will have universal health care in this country by the end of the next president's first term."

Barack Obama was born August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. His parents - Barack Hussein Obama Sr. from Kenya, and Ann Dunham of Wichita, Kansas - met while both were attending the East-West Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In his memoir 'Dreams from My Father' (1995), he describes a nearly race-blind early childhood. A sentence from his memoir: 'That my father looked nothing like the people around me, that he was black as pitch, my mother white as milk, barely registered in my mind'.

In 1963 when Barack Obama was 2 years old, his parents divorced. His mother married an Indonesian student, and when Obama was 6 years old they moved to Jakarta. 4 years later (in 1971) , Obama returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents. He was enrolled in the fifth grade at Punahou School where he graduated from high school in 1979 - 18 years old.

In his memoir 'Dreams from My Father' - named above, Obama writes about smoking marijuana and trying cocaine during his teenage years. Inviting journalists to contrast his earlier admission with Bill Clinton's 'didn't inhale' remarks made during the 1992 presidential campaign, he recently stated: 'I inhaled that was the point'.' Obama added: 'It was reflective of the struggles and confusion of a teenage boy; teenage boys are frequently confused'.

After the high school years, Barack Obama studied for 2 years at Occidental College, before transferring to Columbia College - an undergraduate division of Columbia University. There he majored in political science, with a specialization in international relations. Upon graduation in 1983, Obama worked for 1 year at Business International Corporation before he moved to Chicago to a job with a non-profit organization local churches organize job training programs for residents of poor neighborhoods.

After having finished this job Obama then left Chicago for 3 years to study at Harvard Law School. During his stay here he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review. In 1991 - he obtained his Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude. On returning to Chicago, Obama supported a voter registration drive, then worked for the civil rights law firm Miner, Barnhill and Galland. From 1993 and until his federal election he taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School.

Barack Obama was - in 1996 - elected to the Illinois State Senate representing the 13th District in the south side neighborhood of Hyde Park in Chicago. In January 2003, Democrats regained control of the chamber, and Senator Obama was named chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Obama helped to author an Earned Income Tax Credit for the state that provided benefits to the working poor. He also worked for legislation that would cover residents who could not afford health insurance, and helped pass bills to increase funding for AIDS prevention and care programs.

Obama made - in 2001 - an luckless Democratic primary run for the US House of Representatives. This seat was held by Bobby Rush - 4-term incumbent candidate and a former Black Panther and community activist. He charged that Barack Obama hadn't 'been around the first congressional district long enough to really see what's going on'. Rush got 61 percent of the vote, while Obama got 30 percent.

After the loss, Obama rededicated his efforts to the Illinois state Senate. In his campaign 2002, he ran unopposed. Obama authored a law requiring police to videotape interrogations for crimes punishable by the death penalty. He also pushed through legislation that would force insurance companies to cover routine mammograms.

At the Democratic National Convention 2004 Barack Obama delivered the keynote address. At this time he was still serving in the Illinois State Senate.

The same year - in November - Barack Obama was elected to the US Senate as a Democrat by a landslide in a presidential election year marked by Republican gains.

Reviewing Barack Obama's career in the Illinois State Senate, commentators noted his ability to work effectively with both Democrats and Republicans, and to build coalitions. In his subsequent campaign for the U.S. Senate, Obama won the endorsement of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, whose officials cited his 'longtime support of gun control measures and his willingness to negotiate compromises', this despite his support for some bills that the police union had opposed.

Recent opinion polls identify Obama as the third most popular choice among Democratic voters for their party's nomination in the 2008 US presidential election, after the Senator of New York Hillary Rodham Clinton, and John Edwards of North Carolina.