Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wendell C. Neville, USMC
Few Marines have seen more action in widely scattered parts of the world than the late Major General Wendell C. Neville, fourteenth Commandant of the Marine Corps in 1929 and 1930. The Virginian, who became a "soldier of the sea" chiefly because no one else in his district desired an appointment to Annapolis back in 1886, was one of the most decorated Marines in the history of the Corps.

During the 38 years he spent as a U. S. Marine, he saw action in Cuba, Mexico, China, the Philippines, Nicaragua, and France. For his valor and leadership in those engagements he earned the Medal of Honor, Brevet Medal, Army Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Cross of the Legion of Honor, five Croix de Guerre with three stars and two palms, five citation and eight campaign and expeditionary awards.

Outlining the military activities of General Neville is similar to reviewing major Marine Corps activities from 1898 through 1918. During that period, he spent 14 years on military assignments on foreign soil, was in the thick of a dozen military campaigns and expeditions, fought in 14 major engagements recorded as battles, and participated in numerous skirmishes recorded in history as minor incidents.

Born May 12, 1870 near Portsmouth, Virginia, young Neville entered the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland in 1886 after learning that an appointment to the Academy had not been filled in his district. He received his diploma in 1890 and, following a two-year cruise aboard a warship, was commissioned as second lieutenant in the Marine Corps.

At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Lieutenant Neville was assigned to the First Marine Battalion, hurriedly organized under Lieutenant Colonel W. R. Huntington for service in Cuba. The battalion staged a daring attack under heavy gunfire at Guantanamo Bay, established a beachhead and routed enemy forces in that area. For outstanding valor and leadership in that action, Lieutenant Neville was awarded the Brevet Medal, highest Marine Corps decoration at that time, and was promoted to the brevet rank of captain.

Promoted to the permanent rank of captain a few months after the war, he was assigned to a battalion of Marines ordered to China to relieve the hard-pressed garrison at Peking during the Boxer Rebellion. He took part in four battles in that area and was again commended for his gallantry.

In the Philippine Islands not long afterwards, he was appointed military governor of Basilan Province. Following that assignment he served in Cuba, Nicaragua, Panama, and Hawaii. While in command of Marines landing at Vera Cruz on April 21, 1914, he displayed conspicuous gallantry. In that operation, Lieutenant Colonel Neville was awarded the Medal of Honor for his distinguished conduct.

Prior to his embarkation for France in 1917, Colonel Neville returned to China where he was chosen to command the combined Allied guard at Peking.

On January 1, 1918, he was placed in command of the Fifth Marine Regiment in France, and in May moved his regiment into action at Belleau Wood where Germany's big drive was decisively halted. In July, General Neville's command was enlarged to include the Fourth Marine Brigade which he directed during the remaining days of the war and during its occupation service in Germany.

After service with the Army of Occupation in Germany, General Neville and his brigade returned to the United States in July, 1919. Promoted to major general in March, 1920, he served as assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps and later became Commanding General, Department of the Pacific with headquarters in San Francisco.

Prior to becoming Commandant on March 5, 1929, he was in command of the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia.

General Neville's sudden death on July 8, 1930, while in office as Major General Commandant, closed one of the most brilliant military careers of his day---a career of faithful service that extended through many important chapters of Marine Corps history; Guantanamo Bay, the Siege of Peking, Tientsin, the Philippine Insurrection, Panama, Vera Cruz, Belleau Wood, Soissons, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, the Rhine and Coblenz. (Revised November, 1949)

Biography courtesy of the United States Marine Corps
Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 12 May 1870, Portsmouth, Virginia. Appointed from: Virginia. G.O. No.: 177, 4 December 1915. Other Navy award: Distinguished Service Medal.

For distinguished conduct in battle engagements of Vera Cruz 21 and 22 April 1914. In command of the 2d Regiment Marines, Lt. Col. Neville was in both days' fighting and almost continually under fire from soon after landing, about noon on the 21st, until we were in possession of the city, about noon of the 22d. His duties required him to be at points of great danger in directing his officers and men, and he exhibited conspicuous courage, coolness, and skill in his conduct of the fighting. Upon his courage and skill depended, in great measure, success or failure. His responsibilities were great and he met them in a manner worthy of commendation.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Battle of Okinawa
Noah's note: I was a member of the 1st Marine Division.
The Battle of Okinawa, fought on the Japanese island of Okinawa, was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific Theater of World War II. It lasted from late March through June 1945.

The battle has been referred to as the "Typhoon of Steel" in English, and tetsu no ame ("rain of steel") or tetsu no bōfū ("violent wind of steel") in Japanese. The nicknames refer to the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of gunfire involved, and sheer numbers of Allied ships and armored vehicles that assaulted the island. Okinawa had a prewar civilian population of 435,000, of whom an estimated 75,000 to 140,000 died during the battle.

The Allies were planning to use Okinawa as a staging ground for Operation Downfall, the invasion of the Japanese mainland. However, this need was obviated after a significant series of events which included the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Soviet Union's declaration of war on Japan in August 1945. Japan surrendered and World War II ended.

Japanese defenses
Realizing that he could not defend the entire island, General Mitsuru Ushijima centered his defense around the historical capital, Shuri Castle, a medieval fortress of the ancient Ryukyuan kings, and the steep ridges on which it was built. This provided the Japanese with a heavy defense line that could be flanked only from the sea.

The Japanese had ample time to dig elaborate fortifications, much as they had on Iwo Jima, and they also had large numbers of tanks and artillery pieces. This relative abundance of materiel matched with thousands of troops and the knowledge of three years fighting the U.S.—ensured that the Okinawa defenses would be the hardest that the U.S. faced during the war. Ushijima knew the Allies could not be stopped, but he wanted to make them pay for every yard of advance. "Massive numbers of caves masked heavy artillery which could be rolled out on railroad tracks, fired, and rolled back in. Naha, Okinawa had been the site of Japan's artillery school for years. Every gully, every crossroads, every ravine in the south had been pinpointed by the defenders." (William Manchester, Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War, p. 406.)

Order of battle
The U.S. land campaign was controlled by the Tenth Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr. The army had two corps under its command, III Amphibious Corps under Major General Roy Geiger, consisting of 1st and 6th Marine Divisions, and XXIV Corps under Major General John R. Hodge, consisting of the 7th and 96th Infantry Divisions. The 2nd Marine Division was an afloat reserve, and Tenth Army also controlled the 27th, earmarked as a garrison, and 77th Infantry Divisions. In all, Tenth Army contained 102,000 Army, 88,000 Marine Corps, and 18,000 Navy personnel.

The Japanese land campaign (mainly defensive) was conducted by the 77,000 strong Japanese Thirty-Second Army. It initially consisted of the 9th, 24th, and 62nd Divisions, and the 44th Independent Mixed Brigade. The 9th Division was moved to Taiwan prior to the invasion, resulting in shuffling of Japanese defensive plans. Primary resistance was to be led in the south by Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima, his chief of staff, Lieutenant General Isamu Cho and his chief of operations, Colonel Hiromichi Yahara. Yahara advocated a defensive strategy, whilst Cho advocated an offensive one. In the north, Colonel Takehido Udo was in command.

U.S. Navy
Most of the air-to-air fighters and the small dive-bombers and strike aircraft were U.S. Navy carrier-based airplanes. The Japanese had used kamikaze tactics since the Battle of Leyte Gulf, but for the first time, they became a major part of the defense. Between the American landing on Easter Sunday and May 25, seven major kamikaze attacks were attempted, involving more than 1,500 planes. The total strength of the Allied fleet at Okinawa was 1,300 ships, including 40 carriers, 18 battleships, and 200 destroyers. The U.S. Navy sustained greater casualties in this operation than in any other battle of the war.

British Commonwealth
Although Allied land forces were entirely composed of U.S. units, the British Pacific Fleet (BPF; known to the U.S. Navy as Task Force 57) provided about 21% of Allied naval air power. The fleet was a combined British Commonwealth carrier group with British, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian ships and personnel. Their mission was to neutralize Japanese airfields in the Sakishima Islands and provide air cover against Japanese Kamikaze attacks.

Naval battle
The British Pacific Fleet was assigned the task of neutralizing the Japanese airfields in the Sakishima Islands, which it did successfully from March 26 until April 10. On April 10, its attention was shifted to airfields on northern Formosa. The force withdrew to San Pedro Bay on April 23. Although by then a commonplace event for the U.S. Navy, this was the longest time that a Royal Naval fleet of that size had been maintained at sea.

On May 4, BPF returned to action, subduing the airfields as before, this time with naval bombardment as well as aircraft. Several kamikaze attacks caused significant damage, but since the British used armored flight decks on their aircraft carriers, they only experienced a brief interruption to their force's objective.

In the two month battle for Okinawa, the Japanese flew 1,900 kamikaze missions, sinking dozens of Allied ships and killing more than 5,000 U.S. sailors. The protracted length of the campaign under stressful conditions forced Admiral Nimitz to take the unprecedented step of relieving the principle naval commanders to rest and recuperate. Following the practice of changing the fleet designation with the change of commanders, U.S. naval forces began the campaign as the U.S. Fifth Fleet under Admiral Raymond Spruance, but ended it as the U.S. Third Fleet under Admiral William Halsey.

Operation Ten-Go
Operation Ten-Go was the attempted attack by a strike force of Japanese surface vessels led by the battleship Yamatoa. This small task force had been ordered to fight through enemy naval forces, then beach themselves and fight from shore; using their guns as artillery and her crewmen as naval infantry. The Yamato and other vessels in Operation Ten-Go were spotted by submarines shortly after leaving Japanese home waters, and attacked by U.S. carrier aircraft.

Under attack from more than 300 aircraft over a two day span, the world's largest battleship sank on April 7, 1945, long before she could reach Okinawa. U.S. torpedo bombers were instructed to only aim for one side to prevent effective counter flooding by the battleship's crew, and hitting preferably the bow or stern, where armor was believed to be the thinnest. Of the Yamato's screening force, the light cruiser, the Yahagi, and 4 out of the 8 destroyers were also sunk.

Land battle
Progress of Land Battle of Okinawa
The land battle took place over about 87 days beginning March 26, 1945.

The first Americans ashore were soldiers of the 77th Infantry Division, who landed in the Kerama Islands (Kerama Retto), fifteen miles (24 km) west of Okinawa on March 26, 1945. Subsidiary landings followed, and the Kerama group was secured over the next five days. In these preliminary operations, the 77th Infantry Division suffered 31 dead and 81 wounded, while Japanese dead and captured numbered over 650. The operation provided a protected anchorage for the fleet and eliminated the threat from suicide boats. On March 31 Marines of the Fleet Marine Force Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion landed without opposition on Keise Shima, four islets just eight miles (13 km) west of the Okinawan capital of Naha. 155 mm Long Toms went ashore on the islets to cover operations on Okinawa.

Northern Okinawa
The main landing was made by XXIV Corps and III Amphibious Corps on the Hagushi beaches on the western coast of Okinawa on L-Day, April 1, which was both Easter Sunday and April Fools' Day in 1945. The 2nd Marine Division conducted a demonstration off the Minatoga beaches on the southeastern coast to confuse the Japanese about American intentions and delay movement of reserves from there.

Tenth Army swept across the south-central part of the island with relative ease by World War II standards, capturing the Kadena and the Yomitan airbases. In the light of the weak opposition, General Buckner decided to proceed immediately with Phase II of his plan—the seizure of northern Okinawa. The 6th Marine Division headed up the Ishikawa Isthmus. The land was mountainous and wooded, with the Japanese defenses concentrated on Yae-Take, a twisted mass of rocky ridges and ravines on the Motobu Peninsula. There was heavy fighting before the Marines finally cleared the Motobu Peninsula on April 18.

Meanwhile, the 77th Infantry Division assaulted Ie Shima, a small island off the western end of the peninsula on April 16. In addition to conventional hazards, the 77th Infantry Division encountered suicide bombers, and even Japanese women armed with spears. There was heavy fighting before Ie Shima was declared secured on April 21 and became another air base for operations against Japan.

Few U.S. soldiers encountered the feared Habu snake and soon discarded the cumbersome leggings designed to protect them from snakebite.

Southern Okinawa
While the Marines cleared northern Okinawa, XXIV Corps wheeled south across the narrow waist of Okinawa. The 7th and 96th Infantry Divisions encountered fierce resistance from Japanese troops holding fortified positions on high ground and engaged in desperate hand-to-hand fighting in west-central Okinawa along Cactus Ridge, about five miles (8 km) northwest of Shuri. By the night of April 8 the XXIV Corps had cleared these and several other strongly fortified positions. They suffered over 1,500 battle casualties in the process, while killing or capturing about 4,500 Japanese, yet the battle had only just begun, for it was now realized they were merely outposts guarding the Shuri Line.

The next American objective was Kakazu Ridge, two hills with a connecting saddle that formed part of Shuri's outer defenses. The Japanese had prepared their positions well and fought tenaciously. Fighting was fierce. Japanese soldiers hid in caves armed with hidden machine guns and explosives; American forces often lost many men before clearing the Japanese out from each cave or other hiding place. The Japanese would send the Okinawans at gunpoint out to acquire water and supplies for them, which induced casualties among civilians. The American advance was inexorable but resulted in massive casualties sustained by both sides.

As the American assault against Kakazu Ridge stalled, General Ushijima, influenced by General Cho, decided to take the offensive. On the evening of April 12 32nd Army attacked American positions across the entire front. The Japanese attack was heavy, sustained, and well organized. After fierce, close fighting the attackers retreated, only to repeat their offensive the following night. A final assault on April 14 was again repulsed. The entire effort led 32d Army's staff to conclude that the Americans were vulnerable to night infiltration, but that their superior firepower made any offensive Japanese troop concentrations extremely dangerous, and they reverted to their defensive strategy.

The 27th Infantry Division, which had landed on April 9 took over on the right, along the west coast of Okinawa. General Hodge now had three divisions in the line, with the 96th in the middle, and the 7th on the east, with each division holding a front of only about a mile and half.

Hodge launched a new offensive of April 19 with a barrage of 324 guns, the largest ever in the Pacific Ocean Theater. Battleships, cruisers, and destroyers joined the bombardment, which was followed by 650 Navy and Marine planes attacking the enemy positions with napalm, rockets, bombs, and machine guns. The Japanese defenses were sited on reverse slopes, where the defenders waited out the artillery barrage and aerial attack in relative safety, emerging from the caves to rain mortar rounds and grenades upon the Americans advancing up the forward slope.

A tank assault on Kakazu Ridge, launched without sufficient infantry support in the hope of a breakthrough, failed with the loss of 22 tanks. Although flamethrower tanks cleared many cave defenses, there was no breakthrough, and the XXIV Corps lost 720 killed, wounded or missing. The losses might have been greater, except for the fact that the Japanese had practically all of their infantry reserves tied up farther south, held there by another feint off the Minatoga beaches by the 2d Marine Division that coincided with the attack.

At the end of April, the 1st Marine Division relieved the 27th Infantry Division, and the 77th Infantry Division relieved the 7th. When the 6th Marine Division arrived, III Amphibious Corps took over the right flank and Tenth Army assumed control of the battle.

On May 4 32nd Army launched another counter offensive. This time Ushijima attempted to make amphibious assaults on the coasts behind American lines. To support his offensive, the Japanese artillery moved into the open. By doing so they were able to fire 13,000 rounds in support but American counter-battery fire destroyed nineteen guns on May 4 and forty more over the next two days. The attack was a complete failure.

Buckner launched another American attack on May 11. Ten days of fierce fighting followed. On May 13 troops of the 96th Infantry Division and 763d Tank Battalion captured Conical Hill. Rising 476 feet (145 m) above the Yonabaru coastal plain, this feature was the eastern anchor of the main Japanese defenses and was defended by about 1,000 Japanese. Meanwhile, on the opposite coast, the 6th Marine Division fought for "Sugar Loaf Hill". The capture of these two key positions exposed the Japanese around Shuri on both sides. Buckner hoped to envelop Shuri and trap the main Japanese defending force.

By the end of May monsoon rains which turned contested slopes and roads into a morass exacerbated both the tactical and medical situations. The ground advance began to resemble a World War I battlefield as troops became mired in mud and flooded roads greatly inhibited evacuation of wounded to the rear. Troops lived on a field sodden by rain, part garbage dump and part graveyard. Unburied Japanese bodies decayed, sank in the mud, and became part of a noxious stew. Anyone sliding down the greasy slopes could easily find their pockets full of maggots at the end of the journey.

On May 29, Major General Pedro del Valle, commanding the 1st Marine Division, ordered Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines to capture Shuri Castle. Seizure of the castle represented both strategic and psychological blows for the Japanese and was a milestone in the campaign. Del Valle was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership in the fight and the subsequent occupation and reorganization of Okinawa. However the castle was outside the 1st Marine Division's zone, and only frantic efforts by the commander and staff of the 77th Infantry Division prevented the Marines from being subjected to an American air strike and artillery bombardment.

Either by design or the "fog of war", Buckner did not detect the Japanese retreat to their second line of defense, which ultimately led to the greatest slaughter on Okinawa in the latter stages of the battle, including the deaths of thousands of civilians.

The island fell on about June 21, 1945, though some Japanese continued fighting, including the future governor of Okinawa prefecture, Masahide Ota.
Ushijima and Cho committed suicide by seppuku in their command headquarters on Hill 89 in the closing hours of the battle. Major Yahara had asked Ushijima for permission to commit suicide, but the general refused his request, saying, "If you die there will be no one left who knows the truth about the battle of Okinawa. Bear the temporary shame but endure it. This is an order from your army Commander."

Yahara was the most senior officer to have survived the battle on the island, and he later authored a book entitled The Battle for Okinawa.

U.S. losses were over 72,000 casualties, of whom 12,513 were killed or missing—over twice the number of casualties as at Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal combined. Several thousand servicemen who died indirectly (from wounds and other causes) at a later date are not included in the total. One of the most famous U.S. casualties was the war correspondent Ernie Pyle, who was killed by Japanese machine gun fire on Ie Shima. U.S. forces suffered their highest ever casualty rate for combat stress reaction during the entire battle, at 48% (compared to 30% in the Korean War).

At sea three hundred and sixty-eight ships were damaged while another thirty-six, including fifteen amphibious ships and twelve destroyers were sunk during the Okinawa campaign. While still another one hundred and twelve amphibious craft were damaged. In the end more than four thousand nine hundred officers and men of the Navy lost their lives, largely as a result of Japanese kamikazes.

General Buckner's decision to attack the Japanese defenses head-on, although proving to be extremely costly in U.S. lives, was ultimately successful. Just four days from the closing of the campaign, General Buckner was killed by Japanese artillery fire while inspecting his troops at the front line. He was the highest-ranking U.S. officer to be killed by enemy fire during the war.

There were about 66,000 Japanese combatants killed and 7,000 captured. Some of the soldiers committed seppuku or simply blew themselves up with hand grenades. This was also the only battle in the war in which surrendering Japanese were made into POWs by the thousands. (See Allied war crimes during World War II for the U.S. policy of killing Japanese trying to surrender) When the American forces occupied the island, the Japanese took Okinawan clothing to avoid capture and the Okinawans came to the Americans' aid by offering a simple way to detect Japanese in hiding. Okinawan language differs greatly from Japanese; with Americans at their sides, Okinawans would give directions to people in the local language, and those who did not understand were considered Japanese in hiding who were then captured.

Civilian losses
At some battles, such as Iwo Jima, there had been no civilians involved, but Okinawa had a large indigenous civilian population. Okinawan civilian losses in the campaign were 140,000; in addition, it is estimated that more than a third of the surviving civilian population was wounded.

During World War II, when many Okinawans still spoke a different dialect, Japanese troops treated the locals brutally. In its history of the war, the Okinawa Prefectural >The Basic Concept of the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum Peace Memorial Museum presents Okinawa as being caught in the fighting between America and Japan. During the 1945 battle, the Japanese Army showed indifference to Okinawa's defense and safety, and the Japanese soldiers used civilians as human shields against the Americans. Japanese military also took all their food, and executed these who hid it, leading to a mass starvation.

With the impending victory of American troops, civilians often committed mass suicide, urged on by Japanese soldiers. They persuaded locals that victorious American soldiers would go on a rampage of killing and raping. (A revisionist historian has claimed that rape was "a general practice against Japanese women", estimating in excess of 10,000 victims during the Okinawa campaign. Ryukyu Shimpo one of the two major Okinawan newspapers, wrote: "There are many Okinawans who have testified that the Japanese Army directed them to commit suicide. There are also people who have testified that they were handed grenades by Japanese soldiers" (to blow themselves up). Some of the civilians, having been induced by Japanese propaganda to believe that U.S. soldiers were barbarians who committed horrible atrocities (It has been suggested that the mutilation of dead enemies by U.S. servicemen may have been referenced), killed their families and themselves to avoid capture. Some Okinawans threw themselves and their family members from the cliffs where the Peace Museum now resides. Other Okinawans were murdered by Japanese to prevent their capture or to steal their food and supplies. Japanese American Military Intelligence Service combat translators with the U.S. military tried to convince civilians to not kill themselves, even climbing into caves to talk to them. Their efforts had limited success.

Ninety percent of the buildings on the island were completely destroyed, and the lush tropical landscape was turned into "a vast field of mud, lead, decay and maggots".

The military value of Okinawa "exceeded all hope". Okinawa provided a fleet anchorage, troop staging areas, and airfields in close proximity to Japan. After the battle, the U.S. occupied Okinawa and set up the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands, a form of military government. Significant U.S. forces remain garrisoned there, and Kadena remains the largest U.S. air base in Asia.

Some military historians believe that Okinawa led directly to the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A prominent holder of this view is Victor Davis Hanson, who states it explicitly in his book Ripples of Battle:

"...because the Japanese on Okinawa, including native Okinawans, were so fierce in their defense (even when cut off, and without supplies), and because casualties were so appalling, many American strategists looked for an alternative means to subdue mainland Japan, other than a direct invasion. This means presented itself, with the advent of atomic bombs, which worked admirably in convincing the Japanese to sue for peace, without American casualties. Ironically, the American conventional fire-bombing of major Japanese cities (which had been going on for months before Okinawa) was far more effective at killing civilians than the atomic bombs and, had the Americans simply continued, or expanded this, the Japanese would likely have surrendered anyway. Nevertheless, the bombs were a powerful symbolic display of American power, and the Japanese capitulated, obviating the need for an invasion of the home islands."

In 1945, Winston Churchill called the battle "among the most intense and famous in military history."

In 1995, the Okinawa government erected a memorial named Cornerstone of Peace in Mabuni, the site of the last fighting in southeastern Okinawa. The memorial lists all the known names of those who died in the battle, civilian and military, Japanese and foreign. At present there are 237,318 names listed including 148,136 Okinawans (mostly civilians) and 14,005 Americans.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Medal's History
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)."

Marine Raider
Congressional Medal of Honor Marine Raider RecipientsMARINE RAIDERS WHO WERE AWARDEDTHE MEDAL OF HONOR DURING World War II.

BAILEY, Kenneth D. (lst Raider Bn., Hq, C&D Companies) Major, USMC.
Born 21 October, 1910, Pawnee, Okla."

For extraordinary courage and heroic conduct above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of Company C, First Marine Raider Battalion, during the enemy Japanese attack on Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 12-13 September, 1942. Completely reorganized following the severe engagement of the night before, Major Bailey's company, within an hour after taking it's assigned position as the battalion reserve between the main line and the coveted airport, was threatened on the right flank by the penetration of the enemy into a gap in the main line. In addition to repulsing this threat, while steadily improving his own desperately held position, he used every weapon at his command to cover the forced withdrawal of the main line before a hammering assault by superior enemy forces. After rendering invaluable service to the battalion commander in stemming the retreat, reorganizing the troops and extending the reverse position to the left, Major Bailey, despite a severe head wound, repeatedly led his troops in fierce hand-to-hand combat for a period of 10 hours. His great personal valor while exposed to-constant and merciless enemy fire, and his indomitable fighting spirit inspired his troops to heights of heroic endeavor which enabled them to repulse the enemy and hold Henderson Field. He Gallantly gave his life in the service of his country."

BUSH, Richard E. (1st Raider Bn. Company C ) Corporal, USMC.
Born 23 December, 1924, Glasgow, Ky."

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a Squad Leader serving with the First Battalion Fourth Marines, Sixth Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese Forces, during the final assault against Mount Yaetake on Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, 16 April, 1945. Rallying his men forward with indomitable determination, Corporal Bush boldly defied the slashing fury of concentrated Japanese artillery fire pouring down from the gun-studded mountain fortress to lead his squad up the face of the rocky precipice, sweep over the ridge, and drive the defending troops from their deeply entrenched position. With his unit, the first to break through to the inner defense of Mount Yaetake, he fought relentlessly in the forefront of the action until seriously wounded and evacuated with others under protecting rocks. Although prostrate under medical treatment when a Japanese hand grenade landed in the midst of the group, Corporal Bush, alert and courageous in extremity as in battle, unhesitatingly pulled the deadly missile to himself and absorbed the shattering violence of the exploding charge in his own body, thereby saving his fellow Marines from severe injury or death despite the certain peril to his own life. By his valiant leadership and aggressive tactics in the face of savage opposition, Corporal Bush contributed materially to the success of the sustained drive toward the conquest of this fiercely defended outpost of the Japanese Empire. His constant concern for the welfare of his men, his resolute spirit of self-sacrifice, and his unwavering devotion to duty throughout the bitter conflict enhance and sustain the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

CHAMBERS, Justice M. Colonel, USMCR, 04796.
Born 2 February, 1908, Huntington West Virginia."

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of the Third Assault Battalion Landing Team, Twenty-fifth Marines, Fourth Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, from 19 to 22 February, 1945. Under a furious barrage of enemy machine-gun and small arms fire from the commanding cliffs on the right, Colonel Chambers, then Lieutenant Colonel, landed immediately after the initial assault waves of his Battalion on D-day to find the momentum of the assault threatened by heavy casualties from withering Japanese artillery, mortar, rocket, machine-gun and rifle fire. Exposed to relentless hostile fire, he coolly reorganized his battle weary men, inspiring them to heroic efforts by his own valor and leading them in an attack on the critical, impregnable high ground from which the enemy was pouring an increasing volume of fire directly onto troops ashore as well as amphibious craft in succeeding waves. Constantly in the front line encouraging his men to push forward against the enemy's savage resistance, Colonel Chambers led the 8-hour battle to carry the flanking ridge top and reduce the enemy's fields of aimed fire, thus protecting the vital foothold gained. In constant defiance of hostile fire while reconnoitering the entire Regimental Combat Team zone of action, he maintained contact with adjacent units and forwarded vital information to the Regimental Commander. His zealous fighting spirit undiminished despite terrific casualties and the loss of most of his key officers, he again reorganized his troops for renewed attack against the enemy's main line of resistance and was directing the fire of the rocket platoon when he fell, critically wounded. Evacuated under heavy Japanese fire, Colonel Chambers, by forceful leadership, courage and fortitude in the face of staggering odds, was directly instrumental in insuring the success of subsequent operations of the Fifth Amphibious Corps on Iwo Jima, thereby sustaining and enhancing the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

EDSON, Merritt A. (1st Raider Bn., Hq Company) Colonel, USMC.
Born 25 April, 1897, Rutland, VT."

For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of the First Raider Battalion, with Parachute Battalion attached, during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands on the night of 13-14 September, 1942. After the airfield on Guadalcanal had been seized from the enemy on 8 August, Colonel Edson, with a force of 800 men, was assigned to the occupation and defense of a ridge dominating the jungle on either side of the airport. Facing a formidable Japanese attack which, augmented by infiltration, had crashed through our front lines, he, by skillful handling of his troops, successfully withdrew his forward units to a reserve line with minimum casualties. When the enemy, in a subsequent series of violent assaults, engaged our force in desperate hand-to-hand combat with bayonets, rifles, pistols, grenades, and knives, Colonel Edson, although continuously exposed to hostile fire throughout the night, personally directed defense of the reserve position against a fanatical foe of greatly superior numbers. By his astute leadership and gallant devotion to duty, he enabled his men, despite severe losses to cling tenaciously to their position on the vital ridges thereby retaining command not only of the Guadalcanal airfield, but also of the First Division's entire offensive installations in the surrounding area."

GURKE Henry, Private First Class, USMC.
Born 6 November, 1922, Neche, N.D."

For extraordinary heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the Third Marine Raider Battalion during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands Area on 9 November, 1943. While his platoon was engaged in the defense of a vital road block near Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville Island, Private First Class Gurke, in company with another Marine, was delivering a fierce stream of fire against the main vanguard of the Japanese. Concluding from the increasing ferocity of grenade barrages that the enemy was determined to annihilate their small, two-man foxhole, he resorted to a bold and desperate measure for holding out despite the torrential hail of shells. When a Japanese grenade dropped squarely into the foxhole, Private Gurke, mindful that his companion manned an automatic weapon of superior fire power and therefore could provide more effective resistance, thrust him roughly aside and flung his own body over the missile to smother the explosion. With unswerving devotion to duty and superb valor, Private Gurke sacrificed himself in order that his comrade might live to carry on the fight. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country."

THOMASON, Clyde (2nd Raider Bn. Company A) Sergeant, USMCR.
Born 23 May, 1914, Atlanta, Ga."

For conspicuous heroism and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty during the Marine Raider Expedition against the Japanese-held Island of Makin on 17-18 August, 1942. Leading the advance element of the assault echelon, Sergeant Thomason disposed his men with keen judgment and discrimination and, by his exemplary leadership and great personal valor, exhorted them to like fearless efforts. On one occasion, he dauntlessly walked up to a house which concealed an enemy Japanese sniper, forced in the door and shot the man before he could resist. Later in the action, while leading an assault on an enemy position, he gallantly gave his life in the service of his country. His courage and loyal devotion to duty in the face of grave peril were in keeping with the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

WALSH, William G. Gunnery Sergeant, USMCR.
Born 7 April, 1922, Roxbury, Mass."

For extraordinary gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Leader of an Assault Platoon, attached to Company G, Third Battalion, Twenty seventh Marines, Fifth Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces at Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, on 27 February, 1945. With the advance of his company toward Hill 362 disrupted by vicious machine-gun fire from a forward position which guarded the approaches to the key enemy-stronghold, Gunnery Sergeant Walsh fearlessly charged at the head of his platoon against the Japanese entrenched on the ridge above him, utterly oblivious to the unrelenting fury of hostile automatic weapons fire and hand grenades employed with fanatic desperation to smash his daring assault. Thrown back by the enemy's savage resistance, he once again led his men in a seemingly impossible attack up the steep, rocky slope, boldly defiant of the annihilating streams of bullets which saturated the area. Despite his own casualty losses and the overwhelming advantage held by the Japanese in superior numbers and dominant position, he gained the ridge's top only to be subjected to an intense barrage of hand grenades thrown by the remaining Japanese staging a suicidal list stand on the reverse slope. When one of the grenades fell in the midst of his surviving men, huddled together in a small trench, Gunnery Sergeant Walsh, in a final valiant act of complete self sacrifice, instantly threw himself upon the deadly bomb, absorbing with his own body the full and terrific force of the explosion. Through his extraordinary initiative and inspiring valor in the face of almost certain death, he saved his comrades from injury and possible loss of life and enabled his company to seize and hold this vital enemy position. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

St. Patrick's Day - March 17
1756 - St. Patrick's Day was 1st celebrated in NYC at Crown & Thistle Tavern.

1762 - In New York City, the first parade honoring the Catholic feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is held by Irish soldiers serving in the British army. Saint Patrick, who was born in the late 4th century, was one of the most successful Christian missionaries in history.

Born in Britain to a Christian family of Roman citizenship, he was taken prisoner at the age of 16 by a group of Irish raiders who attacked his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland, and he spent six years in captivity before escaping back to Britain. Believing he had been called by God to Christianize Ireland, he joined the Catholic Church and studied for 15 years before being consecrated as the church's second missionary to Ireland.

Patrick began his mission to Ireland in 432, and by his death in 460, the island was almost entirely Christian. Early Irish settlers to the American colonies, many of whom were indentured servants, brought the Irish tradition of celebrating St. Patrick's feast day to America.

The first recorded St. Patrick's Day parade was held not in Ireland but in New York City in 1762, and with the dramatic increase of Irish immigrants to the United States in the mid-19th century, the March 17th celebration became widespread. Today, across the United States, millions of Americans of Irish ancestry celebrate their cultural identity and history by enjoying St. Patrick's Day parades and engaging in general revelry.

Irish toast: "May the enemies of Ireland never eat bread nor drink whisky, but be tormented with itching without benefit of scratching." -- Traditional St. Patrick's Day toast.

Easter is the most important festival of Christians as it is observed to honor the Jesus' return to life. Easter is a festivity of colors and joy. It brings a message of hope along. It conveys the message that after the dark clouds, there is a ray of silver lining. Easter has a lot of significance especially for the Roman Catholics. They use the Julian calendar for the purpose of calculating the Easter day date. Read further to know when is Easter Sunday in 2008.

Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the full moon night of the spring season. Generally the Gregorian calendar is used for the purpose of computing the Easter date. In many countries, Easter Monday is granted as a legal holiday.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

JACK H. LUCAS, Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps
1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division

Jack Lucas was a cadet captain in the military school where his mother had enrolled him after the death of his father when he heard radio reports of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The next day he promised his mother that if she let him enlist, he would come home after the war and finish his education, but he wound up forging her signature on the consent form because she would have to lie for him. Lucas, big for his age, told the Marine recruiters he was 17. Shortly before being sent to the training center at Parris Island, South Carolina, he turned 14.

Troops were moving out to Hawaii, but because of his experience in military school, Lucas was ordered to stay behind and drill new recruits. He knew his buddies were ultimately headed for combat, so he hopped onto the train with them in effect going AWOL to get into the war. Once in Hawaii, he managed to convince officers that he was there because of a clerical error. He was almost drummed out of the Corps when a censor read a letter to his girlfriend that mentioned his real age, fifteen by then. He managed to talk his way out of trouble again and was assigned a job driving a truck on the base.

A year later, when a large number of troops were being ferried out to ships in Pearl Harbor heading into action, Lucas stowed away on the USS Deuel, in effect going AWOL a second time. He slept on deck and scrounged meals from other men. When the ship was well out to sea, he turned himself in for fear of being classified as a deserter, and a sympathetic colonel decided that instead of punishing him, he would finally grant Lucas his wish of being assigned to a combat unit.

Not long after, the Deuel approached Iwo Jima. On February 19, 1945, five days after he turned 17, Lucas hit the beach with forty thousand other Marines, five thousand of whom would become casualties that first day of combat. The next morning, his unit destroyed a Japanese pillbox, then took cover in a Japanese escape trench, where eleven Japanese soldiers surprised them. The Marines and Japanese started firing at each other at point-blank range. Lucas shot one soldier in the forehead before his rifle jammed.

As he was trying to get it to work, he saw two Japanese grenades land near the Marine next to him. He dove down into the soft volcanic ash, covering the grenades with his body. One failed to go off, but the explosion of the second one flipped him over on his back and inflicted large wounds on his arm, chest, and thigh.

His chin was sliced open and one eye was forced out of its socket. He had internal injuries and was bleeding heavily from his nose and mouth.

A Marine from a following unit, reaching down to take off Lucas' dog tags, saw Lucas hand wiggle. He was given a shot of morphine, carried back to the beach on a stretcher, and transferred to a hospital ship. At one point he was almost given up for dead, but the doctors kept working on him.

After hospitalizations in Guam and San Francisco, and several of the twenty-two surgeries he would undergo, he was discharged in September 1945. On October 5, at the age of seventeen, he received the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman, making him the youngest recipient since the Civil War.

Then, as he had promised his mother years before, he went back to school as a ninth grader wearing the Medal of Honor around his neck. He later graduated from high school and earned a college degree. His book, Indestructible, was published in 2006.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Major General Smedley Butler, USMC
Marine Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler a two-time Medal of Honor recipient, Butler showed how a patriotic service member could still speak his mind about important matters of conscience. A hero of U.S. interventions in Haiti and Central America, Butler earned his second star in World War I. He became critic of U.S. foreign policy in later years. "I was a gangster for capitalism," he said in a 1933 speech. "There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes, and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket."

Throughout the years various men of military service have spoken up and spoken out against the actions of the American military. Some men speak up about atrocities that have gone covered up, about discrimination, about deceptions that have been used against the American public, and about actions that have been taken that are contrary to what they view as American principles. Major General Smedley Butler was one of the most outspoken military service men who opposed the actions of the military that he served in.

Marine Smedley Darling Butler is one of the most highly decorated military men from the pre-World War II era. He served from 1898 to 1931 and saw action all over the world.

Butler became a prominent political figure and was one of America’s important leaders of the liberal movement of the 1930s. Butler advocated military isolationism and was against American involvement in World War II. His isolationist views are certainly unpopular today, and in fact are not compatible with the current geopolitical situation. His views, however, developed from 33 years of serving as what he called “a gangster for capitalism.”

Though Butler was not a member of the American Communist Party he did give speeches at Communist Party meetings in the 1930s as well as many speeches for the League Against War and Fascism. When asked about the company he was keeping he noted, “They told me I’d find a nest of communists here. I told them ‘What the hell of it!’”

All told Butler gave over 1,200 speeches in over 700 cities during his speaking tour of the United States.

In 1935 Butler published War is a Racket, which got high praise at the time, as well as strong criticism. The forward by Lowell Thomas spoke of Butler’s “moral as well as physical courage” and noted that “Even his opponents concede that in his stand on public questions, General Butler has been motivated by the same fiery integrity and loyal patriotism which has distinguished his service in countless Marine campaigns.”

What Butler fought so hard to do was to take the focus off of moral and ideological arguments for war and concentrate on the geopolitical factors that actually motivated war. He tried to raise awareness of what the real motivating factors of war were as well as the consequences of war. He was one of the first Americans to really bring the economic implications of war to the forefront of the public conscience. In War is a Racket Butler “names names” and lays out in wonderfully blunt detail how the American “military machine” was used to the benefit of wealthy American industrialists. He noted how proponents of war typically call on God as a supporter of the cause and how they embellish the mission as one of liberation and the spreading of freedom, but that these people tend to shy away from discussing the economic details of military ventures.

Butler didn’t choose sides when it came to expressing his views on war. Butler could certainly be considered a liberal but he spoke out against the liberal FDR administration and also broke ties with anti-fascist groups when they called for war to defend against fascism. In 1935 he commented to a veterans meeting on the subject of the growing interest in the FDR administration to become involved in the conflicts of Europe that, “The political leaders of this country are for another conflict to cover up their blunders.”

Though most today would agree that his isolationist views would have been harmful had they been followed by the country in regard to American involvement in WWII his views on imperialism and the economic implications of war are still as relevant today as ever.

The following is an excerpt from a speech he gave in 1933:

“War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

In a few selected quotes from War is a Racket he writes:
WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives...

In the World War a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows...

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill...

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations...

...a war that might well cost us tens of billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives of Americans, and many more hundreds of thousands of physically maimed and mentally unbalanced men.

Of course, for this loss, there would be a compensating profit – fortunes would be made. Millions and billions of dollars would be piled up. By a few. Munitions makers. Bankers. Ship builders. Manufacturers. Meat packers. Speculators. They would fare well.

Yes, they are getting ready for another war. Why shouldn't they? It pays high dividends...

The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits – ah! that is another matter – twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent – the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let's get it...

Of course, it isn't put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and "we must all put our shoulders to the wheel," but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket – and are safely pocketed.

Who provides the profits – these nice little profits of 20, 100, 300, 1,500 and 1,800 per cent? We all pay them – in taxation. We paid the bankers their profits when we bought Liberty Bonds at $100.00 and sold them back at $84 or $86 to the bankers. These bankers collected $100 plus. It was a simple manipulation. The bankers control the security marts. It was easy for them to depress the price of these bonds. Then all of us – the people – got frightened and sold the bonds at $84 or $86. The bankers bought them. Then these same bankers stimulated a boom and government bonds went to par – and above. Then the bankers collected their profits.

But the soldier pays the biggest part of the bill.

If you don't believe this, visit the American cemeteries on the battlefields abroad. Or visit any of the veteran's hospitals in the United States. On a tour of the country, in the midst of which I am at the time of this writing, I have visited eighteen government hospitals for veterans. In them are a total of about 50,000 destroyed men – men who were the pick of the nation eighteen years ago. The very able chief surgeon at the government hospital; at Milwaukee, where there are 3,800 of the living dead, told me that mortality among veterans is three times as great as among those who stayed at home...

Perhaps the following sounds familiar of the current Bush administration as well? Just replace “Germans” with “Iraqis.”

So vicious was this war propaganda that even God was brought into it. With few exceptions our clergymen joined in the clamor to kill, kill, kill. To kill the Germans. God is on our is His will that the Germans be killed.

And in Germany, the good pastors called upon the Germans to kill the please the same God. That was a part of the general propaganda, built up to make people war conscious and murder conscious.

Beautiful ideals were painted for our boys who were sent out to die. This was the "war to end all wars." This was the "war to make the world safe for democracy." No one mentioned to them, as they marched away, that their going and their dying would mean huge war profits. No one told these American soldiers that they might be shot down by bullets made by their own brothers here. No one told them that the ships on which they were going to cross might be torpedoed by submarines built with United States patents. They were just told it was to be a "glorious adventure."...

Butler proposed that the only way to actually prevent war is take the profits out of war. He proposed several ways to achieve this. What is important to note is that it is possible to take the profitability out of war, but it must be done at an international level. Taking the profitability out of war and out of the weapons industry is really the way that is most likely to be able to achieve some level of global peace. Of course there has never been any effort to do this in America, in fact the opposite is true, and right now the Bush administration is making war even more profitable, only ensuring its proliferation.

The General concludes by proclaiming:


Monday, March 3, 2008

Tom Craigg, US Marine Hero, died at age 90
Written by: MSgt. John Cooney, USMC (Ret.)

" Freedom is never lost in an instant, it is taken away slowly so as not to disturb those who slumber."

Friends of Tom Craigg -- Many of you never got the opportunity to meet Tom, especially the younger wounded warriors. If you attended the meetings, (MOPH) Military Order of the Purple Heart, Tom was usually there sitting up front on the right side. He was quick to tell you his story and every time that he told it, I learned something new about him. I never got tired of hearing his stories and would listen in when he told someone else.

If you were at an event or function and Tom was the guest speaker, you had better tell him to keep it short or you were in for the long haul. Once at an Americanism Class for about 300 third through fifth graders, I asked Tom to say a few words about his captivity. The kids always liked to hear the stories from the POWs. He told them about shooting the horses and donkeys, and after that, the parrots and monkeys for food. This went on for about 20 minutes. We only had 35 to 40 minutes to give our flag class. The kids loved it, but the teachers were getting queasy and I had to cut him off.

There's also the story about the Flag from Corregador which is now on display at the MCRD in San Diego. After he and another Marine borrowed a canoe, that's the way he would put it, after making their escape from the Bataan Death March. They paddled to the island of Corregador. They fought there for another 28 days before it fell. Before it fell they took the American Flag down and hid it so it would be safe. The POWs hid the flag on their bodies and transferred it around during the 40 months that were in captivity. No one except a very few knew who had the flag on their body. This was to prevent someone from being tortured from giving away it's location. This was done under threat of certain death if caught. We use this story about love of country/flag as a point in our talks to the school kids. The flag was brought back to the states and presented to MCRD.

Attached is the Bio that Tom had on Hand to hand out. At the Christmas show in November at North side high, I was joking with him that I need to rewrite it and get in updated. I never got the chance to get it rewritten. I apologize, it may be a little hard to read, you can try enlarging it for easier reading. I thought it appropriate that this go out today. I'm sure that it will be read at his funeral service in a couple days.

Tom really never recovered from his second knee replacement surgery that he underwent about six months ago. The day of Col. Hodges change of command ceremony on 28 January 2008, Tom Suffered a minor heart attack. Of course at age 90, which he had just turned on 20 January, there's no such thing as a minor heart attack. He fought valiantly, which was a trait of his all of his life. The last few weeks he was reliving his POW experiences and was transferred back and forth from OMH to Britthaven. He finally passed in Britthaven today 2 March 2008, and he is in a better place.

The members of the Beirut Memorial Chapter 642, MOPH Salute you Tom Craigg and may you Rest in Peace. You were my hero and I will miss you brother.

Tom was a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH)
Military Order of the Purple Heart Chief of Staff, Department of NC.Adjutant, Beirut Memorial Chapter 642

Semper Fi,
John Cooney, USMC (Ret.)

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Geronimo and Fort Pickens
Preview: The Fort Pickens area is located at the western end of Santa Rosa Island; it is the most visited of the Gulf Islands National Seashore facilities on Santa Rosa Island. It is about eight miles west of Pensacola Beach, Fla., and about 15 miles from my home at Gulf Breeze. This end of the island has a long and varied past stemming back to before the time of early Spanish exploration. A tiny Spanish outpost, probably the first European settlement on the island, was established circa 1723 and was demolished by a hurricane in 1754. Archeological studies have shown that even before that, the island was home to many Native American villages. Shell middens that were unearthed indicate that these aboriginals survived on a diet of shellfish, such as mollusks, oysters, and clams. The abundant evidence of human intrusion notwithstanding, this small park still offers amazing opportunities for the solitary enjoyment of nature. Blackbird Marsh Nature Trail and the Dune Nature Trail are short, but the longer trail running from the campground to the fort offers more possibilities. This trail is open to bicycles and passes through the lovely Battery Worth picnic area, which has individual and group facilities.

An Unwilling Tourist Attraction
The Apache Indians have always been characterized as fierce warriors with an indomitable will. It is not surprising that the last armed resistance by Native Americans came from this proud tribe of American Indians. As the Civil War ended the U. S. Government brought its military to bear against the natives out west. They continued a policy of containment and restriction to reservations. In 1875, the restrictive reservation policy had limited the Apaches to 7200 square miles. By the 1880's the Apache had been limited to 2600 square miles. This policy of restriction angered many Native Americans and led to confrontation between the military and bands of Apache. The famous Chiricahua Apache Geronimo led one such band.

Born in 1829, Geronimo lived in western New Mexico when this region was still a part of Mexico.

Geronimo was a Bedonkohe Apache that married into the Chiricahuas. The murder of his mother, wife and children by soldiers from Mexico in 1858 forever changed his life and the settlers of the southwest. He vowed at this point to kill as many white men as possible and spent the next thirty years making good on that promise. Surprisingly, Geronimo was a medicine man and not a chief of the Apache. However, his visions made him indispensable to the Apache chiefs and gave him a position of prominence with the Apache. In the mid 1870's the government moved Native Americans onto reservations, and Geronimo took exception to this forced removal and fled with a band of followers. He spent the next 10 years on reservations and raiding with his band. They raided across New Mexico, Arizona and northern Mexico. His exploits became highly chronicled by the press and he became the most feared Apache. Geronimo and his band were eventually captured at Skeleton Canyon in 1886. The Chiricahua Apache were then shipped by rail to Florida.
All of Geronimo's band was to be sent to Fort Marion in St. Augustine. However, a few business leaders in Pensacola, Florida petitioned the government to have Geronimo himself sent to Fort Pickens, which is part of the 'Gulf Islands National Seashore'. They claimed that Geronimo and his men would be better guarded at Fort Pickens than at the overcrowded Fort Marion. However, an editorial in a local newspaper congratulated a congressman for bringing such a great tourist attraction to the city. On October 25, 1886, 15 Apache warriors arrived at Fort Pickens. Geronimo and his warriors spent many days working hard labor at the fort in direct violation of the agreements made at Skeleton Canyon. Eventually the families of Geronimo's band were returned to them at Fort Pickens, and then they all moved on to other places of incarceration. The city of Pensacola was sad to see Geronimo the tourist attraction leave. In one day he had over 459 visitors with an average of 20 a day during the duration of his captivity at Fort Pickens.

Unfortunately, the proud Geronimo had been reduced to a sideshow spectacle. He lived the rest of his days as a prisoner. He visited the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904 and according to his own accounts made a great deal of money signing autographs and pictures. Geronimo also rode in the inaugural parade of President Theodore Roosevelt. He eventually died in 1909 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The captivity of the Chiricahuas ended in 1913.