Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Major Everett Parker Pope, USMC

Major Everett P. Pope was awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry on Peleliu in September 1944 while leading his men in an assault on a strategic hill, and for holding it, with rocks and bare fists when ammunition ran low, against Japanese suicide attacks.

On 20 September 1944, Major Pope and his company set out to storm Hill 154, a steep, barren, coral hill protruding from the face of Suicide Ridge, according to a field dispatch from Technical Sergeant Joseph L. Alli of Buffalo, New York, a Marine Corps Combat Correspondent.

From almost point blank range, Japanese mortars and field guns opened up on them from adjoining peaks on Suicide Ridge. Major Pope and his men took Hill 154 at dusk after hours of bloody fighting which nearly decimated the group.

Forced to deploy his men thinly, he nevertheless determined to hold his ground for the night. Immediately after darkness fell the Japanese started to attack, first in small infiltrating bands, and, when these units failed, in groups of 20 to 25 who tried storming the hill.

Each time, the Marines opened fire with everything they had - one light machine gun, several Tommy guns and rifles, and a limited supply of hand grenades. When the grenades ran low, they hurled rocks. "We would throw three or four rocks, then a grenade. The Japanese didn't know which were which," one Marine said.

By sunrise the Marines were beating off the enemy with bare fists and hurling ammunition boxes at them. Finally only eight riflemen remained. When daylight brought deadly fire, Major Pope was ordered to withdraw.

Major Pope was born 16 July 1919 in Milton, Massachusetts, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence E. Pope, who later moved to North Quincy, Massachusetts. He was graduated with honor from North Quincy High School in 1936. In June 1941, he received his BS degree upon graduation from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, where he was captain of the tennis team. He was graduated magna cum laude, with honors in French, and designated a Phi Beta Kappa.

On 1 November 1941, Major Pope was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He trained at Quantico, Virginia, and New River, North Carolina, prior to going overseas in June 1942 with the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines. On 7 August 1942, as the leader of a machine gun platoon, he participated in the landing and action at Guadalcanal.

In 1943, he was transferred to Melbourne, Australia, with his unit. Later, he again went into combat, as a company commander with the 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, in the Cape Gloucester, New Britain campaign, from December 1943 to April 1944. In the mopping-up operations which followed, he led a 14-man patrol which in one day killed 20 and captured 7 of the enemy during a 12-mile trek over jungle trails.

From 12 September to 30, 1944, he took part in action in the Peleliu campaign during which he earned the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart. Although wounded in action on 20 September he returned to duty the next day, and remained overseas until November 1944.

He was promoted to major in January 1945 and assigned for one year as a student in the Japanese language course at Yale University. On 16 July 1946, he was assigned an inactive duty status in the Marine Corps, and returned to his home and private employment in Massachusetts. There he became affiliated with the Marine Corps Reserve and commanded the 2d Infantry Battalion, USMCR, Hingham, Massachusetts, until August 1950, when he was called to active duty with his battalion upon the outbreak of the Korean Conflict. He served as Executive Officer of the 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, until September 1951, when he was released to inactive duty and, shortly thereafter, resigned his commission in the Marine Corps.

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. Place and date: Peleliu Island, Palau group, 19-20 September 1944. Entered service at: Massachusetts. Born: 16 July 1919, Milton, Mass. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as commanding officer of Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Peleliu Island, Palau group, on 19-20 September 1944. Subjected to pointblank cannon fire which caused heavy casualties and badly disorganized his company while assaulting a steep coral hill, Capt. Pope rallied his men and gallantly led them to the summit in the face of machinegun, mortar, and sniper fire. Forced by widespread hostile attack to deploy the remnants of his company thinly in order to hold the ground won, and with his machineguns out of order and insufficient water and ammunition, he remained on the exposed hill with 12 men and 1 wounded officer determined to hold through the night. Attacked continuously with grenades, machineguns, and rifles from 3 sides, he and his valiant men fiercely beat back or destroyed the enemy, resorting to hand-to-hand combat as the supply of ammunition dwindled, and still maintaining his lines with his 8 remaining riflemen when daylight brought more deadly fire and he was ordered to withdraw. His valiant leadership against devastating odds while protecting the units below from heavy Japanese attack reflects the highest credit upon Capt. Pope and the U.S. Naval Service .

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

George Ham Cannon, USMC

November 5, 1915 - December 7, 1941
George H. Cannon, Medal of Honor recipient

First Lieutenant George Ham Cannon, USMC, was the first U.S. Marine in World War II to receive the nation's highest military award — the Medal of Honor. He posthumously received the medal for "distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage, and disregard of his own condition" during the bombardment of Midway Island by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. He remained at his Command Post despite being mortally wounded by enemy shell fire. He refused to be evacuated until his men who had been wounded by the same shell were evacuated, and he continued to directed the reorganization of his Command Post until forcibly removed. He refused medical attention until he was assured communications were restored to his Command Post. As a result of his utter disregard of his own condition, he later died from loss of blood.

George Ham Cannon was born on 5 November 1915 in Webster Groves, Missouri. He later moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he graduated from Southeastern High School. He also attended the Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana, prior to entering the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. While in attendance at that university he was a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in June 1938.
He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Engineer Reserve, U.S. Army during his last year in the University of Michigan. He resigned, however, upon graduation, to accept a commission as second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. Commissioned on 25 June 1938, he was ordered to duty on 5 July 1938, at the Philadelphia Navy Yard to await assignment to the next class of Basic School. He began studies on 18 July that year.

His first tour of duty as a U.S. Marine was as a "sea soldier" aboard the USS Boise, following the completion of his schooling 20 May 1939. He was assigned to the Post Service Battalion at the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia, on 10 July 1940, and two weeks later entered the Base Defense Weapons Course at the Marine Corps Schools.

Ordered to the Marine Corps Base in San Diego, California, in December 1940, he joined Battery H, 2d Defense Battalion on 16 February 1941. In March 1941, the battery joined the 6th Defense Battalion and in July the unit sailed for Pearl Harbor. In August 1941, he was promoted to first lieutenant with the rank dating back to from 25 June 1941.

On 7 September 1941, 1stLt Cannon reported to Midway Island as a platoon leader and member of the Battalion Coding Board. He was killed in action on the first day of World War II, 7 December 1941, during the sneak attack by Japanese forces.

A destroyer was named in honor of 1stLt Cannon, sponsored by his mother, and launched at the Drave Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware, on 25 May 1943.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, 1stLt Cannon was awarded the Purple Heart Medal; American Defense Service Medal with Base Clasp; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal posthumously.

Medal of Honor citation
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Congressional MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to


for service during an attack on the United States Fleet in Midway Islands as set forth in the following CITATION:

For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage, and disregard of his own condition during the bombardment of Sand Island, Midway Islands, by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. Lieutenant Cannon, Battery Commander of Battery "H", Sixth Defense Battalion, Fleet Marine Force, U. S. Marine Corps, was at his Command Post when he was mortally wounded by enemy shell fire. He refused to be evacuated from his post until after his men, who had been wounded by the same shell were evacuated, and directed the reorganization of his Command Post until forcibly removed, and as a result of his utter disregard of his own condition he died from loss of blood.

The first school on Midway Island, which was established after World War, is named the George Cannon school, "in honor of Midway's war hero".

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

U.S. Marines at Frozen Chosin

On November 23, 1950, US Marines and others celebrated Thanksgiving in Korea with a temperature of 20 degrees below zero.

The Brotherhood of Marines and Soldiers At War
In November, 1950 eight thousand fighters, most of them United States Marines, struggled to survive the coldest winter in 100 years in North Korea. Surrounded by 120,000 Chinese soldiers, their only lifeline was a 15'-wide, steep mountain road they called the M.S.R. (Main Supply Route) that led to the port city of Hungnam. From Yudam-ni at the north west corner of the Chanjin Reservoir, the MSR was a dangerous, 78-mile journey to the Sea of Japan. The trip was made far more difficult by the massive enemy force surrounding it. The withdrawal, the longest in American military history, would take 13 days and cost many lives. Those who didn't understand what was happening called it a "retreat", while one American general simply said, "We're attacking in a different direction." How you access what happened over those two freezing weeks in North Korea depends on your perspective.

It is adversity that demands valor, trial that demonstrates the highest levels of brotherhood. The Marines at the Chanjin Reservoir, identified on Japanese maps as the CHOSIN Reservoir, pulled together to insure the success of the withdrawal. What many people might have considered to be the darkest two weeks in Marine Corps history, may have in fact, become the Marine Corp's DEFINING MOMENT. With their backs to the wall, the men of the 1st Marine Division pulled together to accomplish the impossible. Their teamwork cemented a band of brothers who came to call themselves:

"The Frozen Chosin"
Theirs Not To Reason Why

The war in Korea began early on the morning of Sunday, June 25, 1950 when nearly one hundred thousand soldiers from the North crossed the 38th parallel that divided South Korea from the Communist North Korea. Unprepared and overwhelmed, the Army of the Republic of Korea was almost destroyed and the South's capitol city of Seoul fell to the invaders within days. Six days later soldiers of the American 24th Infantry arrived to assist the Republic of Korea (ROK) Army in the defense of their homeland, but it was too little, too late. By early fall the future of South Korea was uncertain.
On September 15th United Nations forces, led by General Douglas MacArthur and consisting primarily of United States soldiers and Marines, made the daring landing at Inchon and the tide of battle began to turn. Within weeks it was the North Korean army that was almost destroyed, giving up the cities they had taken earlier and falling back in full retreat behind the 38th parallel. The victory had been swift and decisive, returning control of South Korea to its rightful owners. General MacArthur wanted to follow with steps to insure their future as well.

The divided peninsula of Korea rests between the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea. It's only neighbor sits along the north-east boundary of North Korea. That border is the Yalu River, and that neighbor is the Chinese Manchuria. Fearful of an American sweep into the North following the successful landing at Inchon, the Chinese government issued a warning that if General MacArthur sent his troops north of the 38th parallel, they would be met by soldiers of the Chinese Army. Military planners doubted that the threat was real, and sent the Allied forces north to "neutralize" the forces of North Korea and insure that a repeat of the June 25th invasion would not occur. On October 9, 1950 the first elements of American military units crossed the 38th parallel to take the battle home to the North Koreans. Five days later two Chinese Armies consisting of 12 Divisions (120,000 soldiers) crossed the Yalu River undetected.
For weeks the Chinese soldiers moved into the rugged mountains of North Korea, traveling only under cover of night and camouflaging their positions during the day. As MacArthur's forces moved north in a two-prong front, the 8th Army moving toward the Yalu River from the western side of the peninsula and the 10th Army on the eastern coast, the Americans didn't realize a well hidden, massive force was waiting to pounce on them. On October 25th the hidden enemy attacked, surprising forces of the ROK army. In three days they destroyed four ROK regiments. Still, American war planners were hesitant to believe the Chinese Force was more than just a few scattered units of North Korean soldiers, and committed the men of the 8th and 10th Armies to an offensive campaign to end the war and, as General MacArthur promised, get American soldiers "Home by Christmas".
While the 8th Army was moving up the western edge of North Korea, on the east coast. the port city of Wonsan was taken, followed by the city of Hungman. From there, members of the 1st Marine Division would move northwest on the MSR to the vital Chosin Reservoir. The village of Koto-ri was almost mid-way from Hungnam to the north edge of the reservoir, and the 4,200 Marines of the 1st Marine Regiment set up there. The 1st Marine Division Headquarters was established at Hagaru-ri, a small village at the southern tip of the reservoir. By November 27th 3,000 Americans inhabited Hagaru-ri, most of them engineers, clerks, and supply personnel.
The combat troops, warriors of the 5th and 7th Marine Regiments moved 12 miles northwest to the village of Yudam-ni. From here they were to travel west, crossing the rugged mountains to link up with the 8th Army. That was the plan, but the plan hadn't factored in two unexpected obstacles:
Between 120,000 and 150,000 well hidden Chinese Communist soldiers, and
The worst winter weather conditions in 100 years.
One can only guess how cold it became in the high Taebaek mountains around the Chosin Reservoir during the winter of 1950. At one regimental headquarters the thermometer fell to minus 54 degrees. American Marines shivered in their foxholes, while vehicle drivers were forced to run their engines 24-hour a day. If the engine were shut down, chances were high that it couldn't be restarted. A rare hot meal could quickly freeze in the time it took a Marine to move from the serving line to a place where he could sit down to eat it. Then, to add to the misery, the Chinese launched their surprise attack.
The "Home by Christmas" offensive officially began on November 24th, the day after Thanksgiving. In the west the 8th Army began their push to the Yalu, only to be surprised by an unbelievable swarm of hidden Communist soldiers. Within days the CCF (Chinese Communist Forces) destroyed the ROK II Corps, leaving the 8th without flanking cover or general support. The badly battered 8th Army was ordered to fall back on November 19th, a 275 mile withdrawal that in six weeks cost 10,000 casualties.
On the eastern slope of the Taebaek Mountains most of the Marines were unaware of what was happening in the west, or just how badly outnumbered and surrounded they were. The first indication came on the morning of November 27th as two companies of the 5th Marines began the push from Yudam-ni westward. Before noon they ran into an enemy roadblock. Unaware of the numbers of enemy around them, the Marines engaged the Chinese, destroying the road block. Then enemy fire began to rain on them from all directions. The Marines knew they were in for a fight, one that lasted for nearly four hours. Then, when the firing subsided, the Marines attempted to dig in. The intensity of the battle convinced them that they were facing more than straggling units of North Korean soldiers. They knew the enemy would attack again, in force, under the cover of darkness. They did!
"The American Marine First Division has the highest combat effectiveness in the American armed forces. It seems not enough for our four divisions to surround and annihilate its two regiments. (You) should have one or two more divisions as a reserve force."
MAO ZEDONG's orders to Chinese General Song Shilun
As night fell on November 27, tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers came out of hiding, attacking American soldiers and Marines at all points around the Chosin Reservoir. The two companies dug in to the west of Yudam-ni were shivering from the cold in make-shift foxholes when the overwhelming force attacked. In the darkness the Chinese swarmed the hill, coming within yards of the embattled Marines to toss grenades among them with deadly effectiveness. In one sector of the American perimeter, protected by two machine-guns, the horde quickly over ran one of the key defensive positions. When a grenade landed near the only remaining machine-gun, Staff Sergeant Robert Kennemore recognized the danger to nearby Marine, as well as the gun emplacement. Quickly he stomped his foot on the grenade to push it into the snow, the subsequent blast throwing his body into the air.
The Marines somehow held through the night, but their heavy losses were quickly visible in the breaking daylight. For S/Sgt Kennemore the cold may have been a lifesaver. He was found, the stumps of his legs frozen in blood-caked snow, still alive. Others were not so fortunate. And it was only the beginning.
From November 27th to December 10th, American soldiers and Marines would find themselves in a battle unlike any other in history. Survival would call for leadership, teamwork, and immense courage. From it was born a brotherhood perhaps unmatched by veterans of any other battle. During the horrible 14 days that followed "LIFE" magazine photographer David Duncan, himself a Marine Corps veteran of World War II, captured many heart-rending images. None, perhaps, was quite as poignant as the one at left. Even more telling was the three simple words spoken by a Marine.
Upon capturing the image with his camera, David Duncan couldn't help asking, "What would you like for Christmas?" His simple answer echoed the hope of so many young Marines facing a hopeless situation at the Chosin Reservoir. He replied:

"Give Me Tomorrow."

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Retired Sep. 1, 1966. Died Nov. 1, 2007.

General Tibbets was born in Quincy, Ill., in 1915. He graduated from Western Military Academy in Alton, Ill., in 1933, and later attended the University of Florida and the University of Cincinnati where he majored in chemistry.

He entered the Army Air Corps on Feb. 25, 1937 at Fort Thomas, Ky. Immediately thereafter, he entered flying school at Randolph Field, and in February 1938 graduated from pilot school at Kelly Field, Texas. His first assignment was to Flight B, 16th Observation Squadron, Lawson Field, Fort Benning, Ga.

In April 1941, General Tibbets became group engineering officer of the 3d Attack Group, Hunter Air Force Base, Savannah, Ga. On Dec. 4, 1941, he received orders to join the 29th Bomb Group at MacDill Field; however, before reporting to MacDill he was placed on temporary duty to take 21 B-18s to Pope Field, Fort Bragg, N.C. to form an anti-submarine patrol. In February 1942, General Tibbets actually reported for duty with the 29th Bomb Group at MacDill as engineering officer. After three weeks, he was made commander of the 340th Bomb Squadron, 97th Bomb Group, which was formed from a cadre taken from the 29th Bomb Group. From February until June 1942, he was in training for an overseas movement.

In June 1942, he arrived in England and immediately went into combat operations, flying 25 combat missions in B-17s, including the first American Flying Fortress raid against occupied Europe. In October 1942, the general was given the special assignment of flying General Mark Clark to make his rendezvous with the French in preparation for the invasion of North Africa. Upon his return from this trip, he was retained to ferry General Eisenhower and his staff to Gibraltar on the night of the invasion. General Tibbets then flew General Clark to Algiers where General Clark took control of the invasion forces.

For the next 30 days, General Tibbets conducted bombardment missions in the North African area under the direct control of the British, pending build-up of the American bomber forces.

He led the first heavy bombardment mission in support of the invasion of North Africa. In November 1942, General Tibbets reverted to control of the Twelfth Air Force and, with the arrival of the remainder of the 97th Bomb Group, resumed normal combat operations in the Sahara Desert area. In January 1943, he was reassigned to the Twelfth Air Force Headquarters at Algiers as assistant operations officer in charge of bomber operations under Colonel (now General) Lauris Norstad.

In March 1943, he was returned to the United States for the purpose of participating in the B-29 program. This flight test work with the Boeing factory and Air Materiel Command continued until March 1944 at which time General Tibbets was transferred to Grand Island, Neb., as director of operations under General Frank Armstrong who started a B-29 instructor transition school. In September 1944, he was assigned to the Atomic Bomb Project as the Air Force officer in charge of developing an organization capable of employing the atomic bomb in combat operations, and mating the development of the bomb to the airplane. In this function, he was also charged with the flight test development of the atomic bomb itself. As these developments progressed, General Tibbets was further charged with the tactical training of bombardment organizations and their deployment into the combat theater of operations. He flew the first atomic bomb mission against enemy forces, dropping the bomb on Hiroshima.

With the end of the war in 1945, General Tibbets' organization was transferred to what is now Walker Air Force Base, Roswell, N.M., and remained there until August 1946. It was during this period that the Bikini Bomb Project took place, with General Tibbets participating as technical adviser to the Air Force commander. He was then assigned to the Air Command and Staff School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., from which he graduated in 1947. His next assignment was to the Directorate of Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, where he subsequently served as director of the Strategic Air Division.

In June 1950, General Tibbets was assigned to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and from July 1950 until February 1952, was B-47 project officer at the Boeing Airplane Company, Wichita, Kan., where the service test of the B-47 to determine its operational suitability took place. From February 1952 until August 1954, he was commander of the Proof Test Division at Eglin Air Force Base. The general then received orders assigning him to the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, from which he graduated in June 1955. His next assignment was director of war plans, Allied Air Forces in Central Europe at Fontainebleau, France. In February 1956, he returned to the United States as commander, 308th Bomb Wing, Hunter Air Force Base, Ga.

In January 1958, General Tibbets was reassigned to MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., where he assumed command of the 6th Air Division. He is a rated command pilot.

In February 1961, General Tibbets was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as director of management analysis (redesignated as Directorate of Status Analysis effective March 27, 1961).

In July 1962, General Tibbets was assigned to the Joint Staff, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as deputy director for operations, J-3. In June 1963, with reorganization of the Operations Directorate, Joint Staff, General Tibbets became deputy director for the National Military Command System.