Monday, September 29, 2008

Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez, US Marine Corps
Sergeant Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez (also known as Alfredo Gonzalez and Freddy Gonzalez) (born May 23, 1946 in Edinburg, Texas; died February 4, 1968 in Hue City, Vietnam), United States Marine Corps Sergeant who posthumously received the
Medal of Honor for service in the Vietnam War during the Battle of Hue.

Early life
Freddy Gonzalez was the child of Andrés Cantu and Dolia Gonzalez. He was raised by his mother in Edinburg, where he played on the Edinburg High School football team and graduated in 1965. On June 3 of that same year, Gonzalez travelled to San Antonio, Texas, to enlist in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. A little more than a month later, on July 6, he enlisted in the regular Marines Corps. Pvt. Gonzalez went through recruit training in September and individual combat training in October before being transferred to
Vietnam in January 1966. That same month, Pvt. Gonzalez was promoted to a Private First Class.

First Tour: January 1966 to January 1967
PFC Gonzalez served as a rifleman and squad leader during his first tour in Vietnam. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in October and to Corporal in December.

Cpl. Gonzalez returned to the United States in January 1967. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to prepare recruits for guerrilla warfare; he ultimately wanted to be transferred to the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. Here he would be 150 miles (approximately a two hours' drive) away from Edinburg, where his mother, girlfriend (Delia Becerra) , and other friends lived. Cpl. Gonzalez's plan was to spend the rest of his time in Corpus Christi, then return home to Edinburg when his time with the Marines was over.

However, several months after Cpl. Gonzalez returned to the United States, he learned of an entire platoon that was ambushed and killed. Cpl. Gonzalez felt responsible for the deaths of some of these men as some of them had served under him while he was in Vietnam. Cpl. Gonzalez then volunteered for a second tour.

Second Tour: July 1967 to February 1968
Cpl. Gonzalez was transferred to Camp Pendleton in California in May 1967 in preparation of sending him back to Vietnam. He was promoted to Sergeant on July 1 and shipped out later that month.

On January 31, 1968, Sgt. Gonzalez was the platoon sergeant of a platoon of marines that was bringing relief to Hue City, Vietnam via a truck convoy. As the truck convoy neared the village of Lang Van Lrong, Viet Cong soldiers, dressed as civilians, attacked. Gonzalez and his troops counter-attacked and drove the enemy soldiers away. One Marine who was atop a tank was hit and fell off the tank. Sgt. Gonzalez was wounded when he ran through heavy fire to retrieve the wounded Marine. Several days later, on February 3, he was wounded again, but refused medical treatment, ordering the medics to take care of the other Marines.

On February 4, Sgt. Gonzalez and his platoon engaged the Viet Cong, who were holed up in St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Hue City, firing at the Americans with rockets and automatic weapons. Almost single-handedly, Sgt. Gonzalez neutralized the enemy with a barrage of LAW rockets. When it became quiet, it was thought that all of the Viet Cong inside the church had been killed. However, one had survived, and he shot and killed Sgt. Gonzalez.

Military Awards and other honors
Sgt. Gonzalez is buried at Hillcrest Cemetery in Edinburg. The Hidalgo County Historical Museum, also in Edinburg, has his uniform and medals on display.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Sgt. Gonzalez also received the following military medals:
Purple Heart
Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze stars
Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm
Vietnam Military Merit Medal
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Texas Legislative Medal of Honor

The USS Gonzalez, a destroyer commissioned for the United States Navy, is named in his honor. He became the first Mexican American to receive that honor. Sgt. Gonzalez's sacrifice has also been honored by the following:
Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez American Legion Post in Edinburg, Texas
Alfredo Gonzalez Athletic Award at Edinburg High School in Edinburg
Alfredo Gonzalez Boulevard at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina
Alfredo Gonzalez Dining Hall at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas
Freddy Gonzalez Drive in Edinburg
Freddy Gonzalez Elementary School in Edinburg
Alfredo Gonzalez Veterans Home, McAllen, Tx
Alfredo Gonzalez Hall, Instructor Training Battalion Headquarters Building, The Basic School, Quantico, VA

Sgt. Gonzalez's name can be found on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It is located on panel 37E, row 021.

Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, Company A, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein), FMF. Place and date: Near Thua Thien, Republic of Vietnam, February 4, 1968. Entered service at: San Antonio, Tex. Born: May 23, 1946, Edinburg Tex.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as platoon commander, 3d Platoon, Company A. On January 31, 1968, during the initial phase of Operation Hue City, Sgt. Gonzalez' unit was formed as a reaction force and deployed to Hue to relieve the pressure on the beleaguered city. While moving by truck convoy along Route No. 1, near the village of Lang Van Lrong, the marines received a heavy volume of enemy fire. Sgt. Gonzalez aggressively maneuvered the marines in his platoon, and directed their fire until the area was cleared of snipers. Immediately after crossing a river south of Hue, the column was again hit by intense enemy fire. One of the marines on top of a tank was wounded and fell to the ground in an exposed position. With complete disregard for his safety, Sgt. Gonzalez ran through the fire-swept area to the assistance of his injured comrade. He lifted him up and though receiving fragmentation wounds during the rescue, he carried the wounded marine to a covered position for treatment. Due to the increased volume and accuracy of enemy fire from a fortified machine gun bunker on the side of the road, the company was temporarily halted. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Sgt. Gonzalez exposed himself to the enemy fire and moved his platoon along the east side of a bordering rice paddy to a dike directly across from the bunker. Though fully aware of the danger involved, he moved to the fire-swept road and destroyed the hostile position with hand grenades. Although seriously wounded again on February 3, he steadfastly refused medical treatment and continued to supervise his men and lead the attack. On February 4, the enemy had again pinned the company down, inflicting heavy casualties with automatic weapons and rocket fire. Sgt. Gonzalez, utilizing a number of light antitank assault weapons, fearlessly moved from position to position firing numerous rounds at the heavily fortified enemy emplacements. He successfully knocked out a rocket position and suppressed much of the enemy fire before falling mortally wounded. The heroism, courage, and dynamic leadership displayed by Sgt. Gonzalez reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps, and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Alvin York
Alvin Cullum York (December 13, 1887 – September 2, 1964) was a United States soldier, famous as a World War I hero. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, taking 32 machine guns, killing 28 German soldiers and capturing 132 others during the U.S.-led Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France.

Early years
Alvin Cullum York was born to an impoverished farming family in Tennessee on December 13, 1887, the third of eleven children. Up until a few years before the war, York was hard drinking and prone to fighting in saloons. His mother, a member of a pacifist Christian denomination, tried to convince York to change his ways to no avail. Then during a night of heavy drinking when he and a friend got into a fight with other saloon patrons, York's friend was killed. The event shook York so much that he finally followed his mother and became a Christian, no longer fighting or drinking. On June 5, 1917, at the age of 29, Alvin York received a notice to register for the draft. From that day until he arrived back from the War on May 29, 1919, he kept a diary of his activities.

York belonged to the Christian sect the Church of Christ in Christian Union which, despite having no specific doctrine of pacificism, discouraged warfare and violence. According to documentation (see image), York did apply for CO status but was not approved.

World War I 1917-1918
York was inducted into the United States Army and served in Company G, 328th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Infantry Division at Camp Gordon, Georgia. Discussion of the Biblical stance on war with his company commander, Captain Edward Courtney Bullock Danforth (1894–1974) of Augusta, Georgia and his battalion commander, Major Gonzalo Edward Buxton (1880–1949) of Providence, Rhode Island, eventually convinced York that warfare could be justified.

During a mission to secure the German Decauville rail-line on October 8, 1918, York's actions earned him the Medal of Honor. He recalled:

"The Germans got us, and they got us right smart. They just stopped us dead in our tracks. Their machine guns were up there on the heights overlooking us and well hidden, and we couldn’t tell for certain where the terrible heavy fire was coming from… And I'm telling you they were shooting straight. Our boys just went down like the long grass before the mowing machine at home. Our attack just faded out… And there we were, lying down, about halfway across [the valley] and those German machine guns and big shells getting us hard."

Seventeen men under the command of Sergeant Bernard Early (which included York) infiltrated behind the German lines to take out the machine guns. The group worked their way behind the Germans and overran the headquarters of a German unit, capturing a large group of German soldiers who were preparing to counter-attack against the US troops. Early’s men were contending with the prisoners when machine gun fire suddenly peppered the area, killing six Americans, Corp. Murray Savage, and Pvts. Maryan E. Dymowski, Ralph E. Weiler, Fred Waring, William Wins and Walter E. Swanson, and wounding three others, Sgt. Early, Corp. William S. Cutting (AKA Otis B. Merrithew) and Pvt. Mario Muzzi. The fire came from German machine guns on the ridge, which turned their weapons on the US soldiers. The loss of the nine put Corporal York in charge of the seven remaining U.S. soldiers, Privates Joseph Konotski (Kornacki), Percy Beardsley, Feodor Sok, Thomas C. Johnson, Michael A. Saccina, Patrick Donohue and George W. Wills. As his men remained under cover, and guarding the prisoners, York worked his way into position to silence the German machine guns. York recalled:

"And those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful. And the Germans were yelling orders. You never heard such a racket in all of your life. I didn't have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush… As soon as the machine guns opened fire on me, I began to exchange shots with them. There were over thirty of them in continuous action, and all I could do was touch the Germans off just as fast as I could. I was sharp shooting… All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn't want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had."

One of York’s prisoners, German first lieutenant Paul Jürgen Vollmer of 1st Battalion, 120th Württemberg Landswehr Regiment, emptied his pistol trying to kill York while he was contending with the machine guns. Failing to injure York, and seeing his mounting losses, he offered to surrender the unit to York, which was gladly accepted. By the end of the engagement, York and his seven men marched 132 German prisoners back to the American lines. His actions silenced the German machine guns and were responsible for enabling the 328th Infantry Regiment to renew the offensive to capture the Decauville Railroad.

York was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism, but this was upgraded to the Medal of Honor, which was presented to York by the commanding general of the American Expeditionary Force, General John J. Pershing. The French Republic awarded him the Croix de Guerre and Legion of Honor. Italy and Montenegro awarded him the Croce di Guerra and War Medal, respectively.

York was a corporal during the action. His promotion to sergeant was part of the honor for his valor. Of his deeds York said to his division commander, General Duncan, in 1919: "A higher power than man power guided and watched over me and told me what to do."

Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Company G, 328th Infantry, 82nd Division. Place and date: Near Chatel-Chehery, France, October 8, 1918. Entered service at: Pall Mall, Tenn. Born: December 13, 1887, Fentress County, Tenn. G.O. No.: 59, W.D., 1919.

After his platoon suffered heavy casualties and 3 other noncommissioned officers had become casualties, Cpl. York assumed command. Fearlessly leading 7 men, he charged with great daring a machine gun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In this heroic feat the machine gun nest was taken, together with 4 officers and 128 men and several guns.

Post-war life
On June 7, 1919, York married Gracie Williams. They had 7 children, all of whom were named after famous American historical figures.

York founded the Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute, a private agricultural school in Jamestown, Tennessee, that was eventually turned over to the State of Tennessee. The school, now known as Alvin C. York Institute, is the only fully state-funded public high school in the State of Tennessee. The school is a nationally recognized school of excellence and boasts the highest high school graduation percentage in the state. It is home to almost 800 students.

York also opened a Bible School, and later operated a mill in Pall Mall on the Wolf River.

During World War II he attempted to re-enlist in the Infantry but was denied due to age. Instead he went on bond tours and made personal appearances to support the war effort. He convinced the state of the need for a reserve force at home and was active in the creation of the Tennessee State Guard in 1941, in which he served as a Colonel and Commanding Officer of the 7th Infantry Regiment. He was also involved with recruiting and war bond drives as well as inspection tours of American soldiers in training.

Alvin York died at the Veterans Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 2, 1964, of a cerebral hemorrhage and was buried at the Wolf River Cemetery in Pall Mall.

Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
World War I Victory Medal
American Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
French Légion d'honneur
French Croix de guerre with Palm
Italian Croce di Guerra
Montenegrin War Medal

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Douglas A. Munro
Douglas Albert Munro (October 11, 1919 – September 27, 1942) is the only member of the United States Coast Guard to have received the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military's highest decoration. Munro received the award posthumously for his actions in command of a landing craft on September 27, 1942 during the September Matanikau action in the Guadalcanal campaign of World War II.

Munro was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and became a U.S. citizen in 1922. He lived in South Cle Elum, Washington, where his father was employed by the Milwaukee Road. Munro is buried at the Laurel Hill Memorial Park in Cle Elum.

Medal of Honor citation
The citation for the Medal of Honor, which was presented to Douglas Munro's parents, reads as follows:


For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty as Officer-in-Charge of a group of Higgins boats, engaged in the evacuation of a Battalion of Marines trapped by enemy Japanese forces at Point Cruz, Guadalcanal, on September 27, 1942. After making preliminary plans for the evacuation of nearly 500 beleaguered Marines, Munro, under constant risk of his life, daringly led five of his small craft toward the shore. As he closed the beach, he signalled the others to land, and then in order to draw the enemy's fire and protect the heavily loaded boats, he valiantly placed his craft with its two small guns as a shield between the beachhead and the Japanese. When the perilous task of evacuation was nearly completed, Munro was killed by enemy fire, but his crew, two of whom were wounded, carried on until the last boat had loaded and cleared the beach. By his outstanding leadership, expert planning, and dauntless devotion to duty, he and his courageous comrades undoubtedly saved the lives of many who otherwise would have perished. He gallantly gave up his life in defense of his country.

Douglas Munro's Medal of Honor is on display at the United States Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, New Jersey.

Since Munro was operating under the authority of the Navy, he received the Navy Medal of Honor. A Coast Guard Medal of Honor exists, but only conjecturally and has never been issued.

Awards and decorations
In addition to the Medal of Honor Munro also received the Purple Heart, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, American Defense Service Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

Two ships, the Coast Guard's USCGC Munro (WHEC-724) and the Navy's USS Douglas A. Munro (DE-422), as well as a barracks building located at USCG Training Center Cape May(Munro Hall), were named in his honor.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ed Freeman, Major - US
Awarded the Medal of Honor

Ed W. "Too Tall" Freeman (November 1927 - August 20, 2008) was a United States Army fixed- and rotary wing aircraft pilot who received the Medal of Honor on 16 July 2001 for his actions in the Battle of Ia Drang in 1965. As a helicopter pilot, he flew through gunfire more than 20 times during a single, ferocious battle, bringing supplies to a trapped battalion of United States soldiers and flying more than 70 wounded soldiers to safety. Freeman flew wingman for Major Bruce Crandall who also received the Medal of Honor for the same missions. He is also honored in the film We Were Soldiers and is played by Mark McCracken.

Medal of Honor citation
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Captain Ed W. Freeman, United States Army, distinguished himself by numerous acts of conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary intrepidity on 14 November 1965 while serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). As a flight leader and second in command of a 16-helicopter lift unit, he supported a heavily engaged American infantry battalion at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam. The unit was almost out of ammunition after taking some of the heaviest casualties of the war, fighting off a relentless attack from a highly motivated, heavily armed enemy force. When the infantry commander closed the helicopter landing zone due to intense direct enemy fire, Captain Freeman risked his own life by flying his unarmed helicopter through a gauntlet of enemy fire time after time, delivering critically needed ammunition, water and medical supplies to the besieged battalion. His flights had a direct impact on the battle's outcome by providing the engaged units with timely supplies of ammunition critical to their survival, without which they would almost surely have gone down, with much greater loss of life. After medical evacuation helicopters refused to fly into the area due to intense enemy fire, Captain Freeman flew 14 separate rescue missions, providing life-saving evacuation of an estimated 30 seriously wounded soldiers -- some of whom would not have survived had he not acted. All flights were made into a small emergency landing zone within 100 to 200 meters of the defensive perimeter where heavily committed units were perilously holding off the attacking elements. Captain Freeman's selfless acts of great valor, extraordinary perseverance and intrepidity were far above and beyond the call of duty or mission and set a superb example of leadership and courage for all of his peers. Captain Freeman's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.

Freeman, who lived in Boise, died at about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday from complications from Parkinson's disease, a family member said. He was 80 years old.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Raymond G. Murphy

Awarded the Medal of Honor

The VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexicoa was recently renamed the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center into United States and New Mexico history. The heroic actions of a young Marine on a battlefield in Korea and his subsequent exemplary career in the service of veterans has culminated in the rededication of the Albuquerque VA Medical Center as the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center.

Raymond G. Murphy was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism in Korea. He was decorated by President Eisenhower in a White House ceremony on October 27, 1953. In addition to the Medal of Honor, Captain Murphy was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart, Korean Service, 2 Bronze Stars, the United Nations Service and the National Defense Service Medals.

Following his service in the Marines, Mr. Murphy moved to New Mexico where he began work with the Albuquerque VA Regional Office. He served for 20 years and became the Chief of Veterans Services. Following retirement, Murphy became a NMVAHCS volunteer and served as an escort and at the information desk of the Albuquerque VA Medical Center. Many veterans never knew that the volunteer pushing his or her wheelchair was a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Captain Murphy passed away on April 6, 2007 and was buried not in his military uniform, but in his NMVAHCS Volunteer smock.

Legislation to rename the Albuquerque VA Medical Center was co-sponsored by Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman in January 2007 and was strongly supported by the various veteran organizations and the New Mexico State Department of Veterans Affairs. U.S. Representatives Tom Udall, Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce championed the companion bill in the House of Representatives. President George W. Bush signed the legislation on July 5, 2007.

The rededication/renaming ceremony took place on a perfect sunny morning in the courtyard of the medical center campus. The drive leading to the event was lined with American flags and approximately 600 guests were in attendance. The Master of Ceremonies was George Marnell, Director of the NMVAHCS. Speakers included Ross Perot, members of the Congressional delegation, the State Veterans Services Secretary, Mary Ann and Tim Murphy, Susan P. Bowers, Network Director, VA Southwest Health Care Network, Louise Van Diepen, MS, Chief of Staff, Veterans Health Administration, and Alfonso R. Batres, PhD, MSSW, Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, VHA.

Following the ceremony, a statue in Mr. Murphy’s likeness was unveiled by sculptor, Reynaldo Rivera. Mr. Rivera was commissioned to sculpt the Raymond G. Murphy by the Ross Perot Foundation.

Medal of Honor citation
The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a Platoon Commander of Company A, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 3 February 1953. Although painfully wounded by fragments from an enemy mortar shell while leading his evacuation platoon in support of assault units attacking a cleverly concealed and well-entrenched hostile force occupying commanding ground, Second Lieutenant Murphy steadfastly refused medical aid and continued to lead his men up a hill through a withering barrage of hostile mortar and small-arms fire, skillfully maneuvering his force from one position to the next and shouting words of encouragement. Undeterred by the increasing intense enemy fire, he immediately located casualties as they fell and made several trips up and down the fire-swept hill to direct evacuation teams to the wounded, personally carrying many of the stricken Marines to safety. When reinforcements were needed by the assaulting elements, Second Lieutenant Murphy employed part of his Unit as support and, during the ensuing battle, personally killed two of the enemy with his pistol. When all the wounded evacuated and the assaulting units beginning to disengage, he remained behind with a carbine to cover the movement of friendly forces off the hill and, though suffering intense pain from his previous wounds, seized an automatic rifle to provide more firepower when the enemy reappeared in the trenches. After reaching the base of the hill, he organized a search party and again ascended the slope for a final check on missing Marines, locating and carrying the bodies of a machine-gun crew back down the hill. Wounded a second time while conducting the entire force to the line of departure through a continuing barrage of enemy small-arms, artillery and mortar fire, he again refused medical assistance until assured that every one of his men, including all casualties, had preceded him to the main lines. His resolute and inspiring leadership, exceptional fortitude and great personal valor reflect the highest credit upon Second Lieutenant Murphy and enhance the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

John H. Quick, USMC
John Henry Quick (20 June 1870 – 9 September 1922) was a United States Marine who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 1898 during the Spanish-American War.

Early years
Quick was born in Charleston, Kanawaha County, West Virginia, on 20 June 1870. Incidentally, this was 8 years to the day that West Virginia became a State.

Military service
He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on 10 August 1892. He was awarded the Medal of Honor “for gallantry in action” in signalling the gunfire support vessel Dolphin (PG-24) while exposed to heavy enemy fire at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on 14 June 1898.

Throughout his 26 year career as a Marine, Quick participating in every campaign the Marines were involved in during his enlistment and he was the holder of several awards for valor. The campaigns he participated in includes The West Indies Campaign, The Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War, Cuban Campaign, Battle of Vera Cruz (1914) and , World War I.

Spanish-American War
During the morning of 14 June 1898, Companies "C" and "D" of Lt. Col Robert W. Huntington's Marine Battalion and approximately fifty Cubans moved through the hills to seize Cuzco Well, the main water supply for the Spanish garrison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The USS Dolphin (PG-24) moved east along the shore ready to furnish naval gunfire support upon call. The Spanish soon discovered the movement and their main body near the Well was alerted. The Marines and Cubans occupied the hill which overlooked the enemy's position, but were immediately subjected to heavy long-range rifle fire. Captain George F. Elliott (later Commandant of the Marine Corps), who had succeeded to command of the Marine Detachment, signaled the Dolphin to shell the Spanish position; but due to the fact that the sender was not clearly visible, the message was misinterpreted, and the vessel began dropping shells on a small detachment of Marines who were enroute to join the fight. The problem of directing the fire of the USS Dolphin was solved by Sergeant Quick who heroically placed himself in plain sight of the vessel, but in danger of falling shells, and signaled for the fire to be stopped. War correspondant and author Stephen Crane, who was with the Marines there, later described the scene in his war tale "Marines Signaling Under Fire at Guantanamo":

"Sergeant Quick arose, and announced that he was a signalman. He produced from somewhere a blue polka-dot neckerchief as large as a quilt. He tied it on a long, crooked stick. Then he went to the top of the ridge, and turning his back to the Spanish fire, began to signal to the Dolphin. Again we gave a man sole possession of a particular part of the ridge. We didn't want it. He could have it and welcome. If the young sergeant had had the smallpox, the cholera, and the yellow fever, we could not have slid out with more celerity.

As men have said often, it seemed as if there was in this war a God of Battles who held His mighty hand before the Americans. As I looked at Sergeant Quick wig-wagging there against the sky, I would not have given a tin tobacco-tag for his life. Escape for him seemed impossible. It seemed absurd to hope that he would not be hit; I only hoped that he would be hit just a little, in the arm, the shoulder, or the leg.

I watched his face, and it was as grave and serene as that of a man writing in his own library. He was the very embodiment of tranquillity in occupation. He stood there amid the animal-like babble of the Cubans, the crack of rifles, and the whistling snarl of the bullets, and wig-wagged whatever he had to wig-wag without heeding anything but his business. There was not a single trace of nervousness or haste.

To say the least, a fight at close range is absorbing as a spectacle. No man wants to take his eyes from it until that time comes when he makes up his mind to run away. To deliberately stand up and turn your back to a battle is in itself hard work. To deliberately stand up and turn your back to a battle and hear immediate evidences of the boundless enthusiasm with which a large company of the enemy shoot at you from an adjacent thicket is, to my mind at least, a very great feat. One need not dwell upon the detail of keeping the mind carefully upon a slow spelling of an important code message.

I saw Quick betray only one sign of emotion. As he swung his clumsy flag to and fro, an end of it once caught on a cactus pillar, and he looked sharply over his shoulder to see what had it. He gave the flag an impatient jerk. He looked annoyed."

When Sergeant Quick finished this message, the ship answered. Quick then picked up his M1895 Lee Navy rifle and resumed his place on the firing line. The Dolphin shifted her fire and by 2:00 p.m. the Spaniards had begun to retreat. For his gallant and selfless conduct during this action, Quick received the Medal of Honor.

Philippine-American War
During the Philippine-American War, he served as a Gunnery Sergeant in the Samaran campaign from 26 October 1901 to 26 March 1902. He participated in a battle at the Sohoton Cliffs, where he played a decisive role laying down covering fire for the advancing Marines with an M1895 Colt-Browning machine gun, and in Waller's March across Samar under the command of Major Littleton W. T. Waller.

Quick served on expeditionary duty in Mexico (21 April to 23 November 1914).
During the Vera Cruz Campaign of 1914, Quick was again cited for valor during the assault of that Mexican city, for which the Secretary of the Navy commendation says of his performance:

He was continually exposed to fire during the first two days of the operation and showed coolness, bravery, and judgment in the prompt manner in which he performed his duties.

World War I
When World War I began Quick sailed for France as the Battalion Sergeant Major of a battalion of the 6th Regiment.

The Battle of Belleau Wood was the opening battle of the War for him and he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross for assisting in the delivery of ammunition, over a road swept by enemy artillery and machine gun fire, to Boureches.

He earned these decorations on 6 June 1918, when "he volunteered and assisted in taking a truckload of ammunition and material into Bouresches, France, over a road swept by artillery and machine-gun fire, thereby relieving a critical situation." He was further awarded the 2d Division Citation and the French Fourragere.

In addition to Belleau Wood he participated in every battle that was fought by the Marines in France until 16 October 1918 including the Toulon Sector at Verdun, the Battle of Belleau Wood, the Aisne-Marne Offensive (popularly known as the Battle of Soissons), the Marbache Sector near Pont-a-Mousoon, the St. Mihiel Offensive, the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge, and the Meuse-Argonne Sector.

Retirement and death
Retiring 20 November 1918, Sgt. Major Quick was recalled, at his own request, for the period 26 July – 15 September 1920.

He died in St. Louis, Missouri on 9 September 1922 at the age of 52 and is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in Jennings, Missouri

. His grave can be found in Section 3, Lot 343, Grave 7.

Honors and awards
The World War II era destroyer USS Quick (DD-490) was named in his honor. This vessel earned four battle stars for actions during the War.

Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 20 June 1870, Charleston, W. Va. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 504 13 December 1898. Other Navy award: Navy Cross.

In action during the battle of Cuzco, Cuba, 14 June 1898. Distinguishing himself during this action, Quick signaled the U.S.S. Dolphin on 3 different occasions while exposed to a heavy fire from the enemy.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Remembrance of 9-11-01
We must never forget what Osama bin Laden and his barbarians did to the United States seven years ago. George W. Bush did rightly by ordering an invasion of Afghanistan as it was believed this was the location of bin Laden. However, Bush made the biggest mistake of any of our former presidents when he invaded Iraq. After that occurred, most of our troops got bogged down and bin Laden was put on the back burner. Bush has said that he doesn't think of him very often. As of this date, Osama bin Laden and the Al-Queda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are free and living like kings. Bush gave them a free life when he ordered the invasion of Iraq. This country played no part in the 9-11 attack on our nation. Bush is responsibility for 4,155 young Americans being killed and 30,568 casualties - many with no arms, legs and vision. Hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens of Iraq were killed or wounded - many were women and children.

On Thursday, September 11, 2008, an American flag should be displayed outside every home, apartment, office, and store in the United States . Every individual should make it their duty to display an American flag on this seventh anniversary of one our country's worst tragedies. We do this honor of those who lost their lives on 9/11, their families, friends and loved ones who continue to endure the pain, and those who today are fighting at home and abroad to preserve our cherished freedoms.

In the days, weeks and months following 9/11, our country was bathed in American flags as citizens mourned the incredible losses and stood shoulder-to-shoulder against terrorism. Sadly, those flags have all but disappeared. Our patriotism pulled us through some tough times and it shouldn't take another attack to galvanize us in solidarity. Our American flag is the fabric of our country and together we can prevail over terrorism of all kinds

Early in the morning on September 11, 2001, nineteen hijackers took control of four commercial airliners en route to San Francisco and Los Angeles from Boston, Newark, and Washington (Washington Dulles International Airport). The hijackers flew two of the airliners, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center. Another group of hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. A fourth flight, United Airlines Flight 93, whose ultimate target was either the U.S. Capitol building or the White House, crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

During the hijacking of the airplanes, the hijackers used box cutters to kill passengers and crew members, but some passengers were able to make phone calls using the cabin airphone service and mobile phones. They reported that several hijackers were aboard each plane. The hijackers had reportedly taken control of the aircraft by using knives and box-cutter knives to kill flight attendants and at least one pilot or passenger, including the captain of Flight 11, John Ogonowski. The 9/11 Commission established that two of the hijackers had recently purchased Leatherman multi-function hand tools. Some form of noxious chemical spray, such as tear gas or pepper spray, was reported to have been used on American 11 and United 175 to keep passengers out of the first-class cabin. A flight attendant on Flight 11, a passenger on Flight 175, and passengers on Flight 93 mentioned that the hijackers had bombs, but one of the passengers also mentioned he thought the bombs were fake. No traces of explosives were found at the crash sites. The 9/11 Commission Report believed the bombs were probably fake.

On United Airlines Flight 93, black box recordings revealed that crew and passengers attempted to seize control of the plane from the hijackers after learning through phone calls that similarly hijacked planes had been crashed into buildings that morning. According to the transcript of Flight 93's recorder, one of the hijackers gave the order to roll the plane once it became evident that they would lose control of the plane to the passengers. Soon afterward, the aircraft crashed into a field near Shanksville in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, at 10:03:11 a.m. local time (14:03:11 UTC). Al-Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed mentioned in a 2002 interview with Yosri Fouda, an al Jazeera journalist, that Flight 93's target was the United States Capitol, which was given the code name "the Faculty of Law".

Three buildings in the World Trade Center Complex collapsed due to structural failure on the day of the attack. The south tower (2 WTC) fell at approximately 9:59 a.m., after burning for 56 minutes in a fire caused by the impact of United Airlines Flight 175. The north tower (1 WTC) collapsed at 10:28 a.m., after burning for approximately 102 minutes. When the north tower collapsed, debris heavily damaged the nearby 7 World Trade Center (7 WTC) building. Its structural integrity was further compromised by fires, and the building collapsed later in the day at 5:20 p.m.

The attacks created widespread confusion among news organizations and air traffic controllers across the United States. All international civilian air traffic was banned from landing on US soil for three days. Aircraft already in flight were either turned back or redirected to airports in Canada or Mexico. News sources aired unconfirmed and often contradictory reports throughout the day. One of the most prevalent of these reported that a car bomb had been detonated at the U.S. State Department's headquarters in Washington, D.C. Soon after reporting for the first time on the Pentagon crash, CNN and other media also briefly reported that a fire had broken out on the Washington Mall. Another report went out on the AP wire, claiming that a Delta Air Lines airliner ”Flight 1989” had been hijacked. This report, too, turned out to be in error; the plane was briefly thought to represent a hijack risk, but it responded to controllers and landed safely in Cleveland, Ohio.

There were 2,974 fatalities, excluding the 19 hijackers: 246 on the four planes (from which there were no survivors), 2,603 in New York City in the towers and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon. An additional 24 people remain listed as missing. All of the fatalities in the attacks were civilians except for 55 military personnel killed at the Pentagon. More than 90 countries lost citizens in the attacks on the World Trade Center.

NIST estimated that approximately 17,400 civilians were in the World Trade Center complex at the time of the attacks, while turnstile counts from the Port Authority suggest that 14,154 people were typically in the Twin Towers by 8:45 a.m. The vast majority of people below the impact zone safely evacuated the buildings, along with 18 individuals who were in the impact zone in the south tower. 1,366 people died who were at or above the floors of impact in the North Tower. According to the Commission Report, hundreds were killed instantly by the impact, while the rest were trapped and died after the tower collapsed. As many as 600 people were killed instantly or were trapped at or above the floors of impact in the South Tower.

At least 200 people jumped to their deaths from the burning towers (as depicted in the photograph "The Falling Man"), landing on the streets and rooftops of adjacent buildings hundreds of feet below. Some of the occupants of each tower above its point of impact made their way upward toward the roof in hope of helicopter rescue, but the roof access doors were locked. No plan existed for helicopter rescues, and on September 11, the thick smoke and intense heat would have prevented helicopters from conducting rescues.

A total of 411 emergency workers who responded to the scene died as they attempted to implement rescue and fire suppression efforts. The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) lost 341 firefighters and 2 FDNY paramedics. The New York City Police Department lost 23 officers. The Port Authority Police Department lost 37 officers. Private EMS units lost 8 additional EMTs and paramedics.

Cantor Fitzgerald L.P., an investment bank on the 101st - “105th floors of One World Trade Center, lost 658 employees, considerably more than any other employer. Marsh In. located immediately below Cantor Fitzgerald on floors 93–101 (the location of Flight 11's impact), lost 295 employees, and 175 employees of Aon Corporation were killed. After New York, New Jersey was the hardest hit state, with the city of Hoboken sustaining the most fatalities.

Weeks after the attack, the estimated death toll was over 6,000. The city was only able to identify remains for approximately 1,600 of the victims at the World Trade Center. The medical examiner's office also collected "about 10,000 unidentified bone and tissue fragments that cannot be matched to the list of the dead." Bone fragments were still being found in 2006 as workers were preparing to demolish the damaged Deutsche Bank Building.

In addition to the 110-floor Twin Towers of the World Trade Center itself, numerous other buildings at the World Trade Center site were destroyed or badly damaged, including 7 World Trade Center, 6 World Trade Center, 5 World Trade Center, 4 World Trade Center, the Marriott World Trade Center, and the World Financial Center complex and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. The Deutsche Bank Building across Liberty Street from the World Trade Center complex was later condemned due to the uninhabitable, toxic conditions inside the office tower, and is undergoing deconstruction. The Borough of Manhattan Community College's Fiterman Hall at 30 West Broadway was also condemned due to extensive damage in the attacks, and is slated for deconstruction. Other neighboring buildings including 90 West Street and the Verizon Building suffered major damage, but have since been restored. World Financial Center buildings, One Liberty Plaza, the Millenium Hilton, and 90 Church Street had moderate damage. Communications equipment atop the North Tower, including broadcast radio, television and two-way radio antenna towers were also destroyed, but media stations were quickly able to reroute signals and resume broadcasts. In Arlington County, a portion of the Pentagon was severely damaged by fire and one section of the building collapsed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ira Hamilton Hayes
Corporal, United States Marine Corps

Ira Hayes was a Pima Indian who enlisted in the United States Marine Corps early in World War II. He gained fame in the Pacific campaign when he, along with four fellow Marines and one Sailor, raised the US flag over Iwo Jima while the battle still raged for that island fortress. The act of raising the flag was captured by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal and became the image on the biggest-selling American postage stamp of all time.

Ira Hamilton Hayes, participant in the famous flag raising on Iwo Jima, was a Pima Indian, born at Sacaton, Arizona, on 12 January 1923. In 1932, the family moved a few miles southward to Bapchule. Both Sacaton and Bapchule are located within the boundaries of the Gila River Indian Reservation in south central Arizona. Hayes left high school after completing two years of study. He served in the Civilian Conservation Corps in May and June of 1942, and then went to work as a carpenter.

On 26 August 1942, Ira Hayes enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve at Phoenix for the duration of the National Emergency. Following boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at San Diego, Hayes was assigned to the Parachute Training School at Camp Gillespie, Marine Corps Base, San Diego. Graduated one month later, the Arizonan was qualified as a parachutist on 30 November and promoted to private first class the next day. On 2 December, he joined Company B, 3d Parachute Battalion, Divisional Special Troops, 3d Marine Division, at Camp Elliott, California, with which he sailed for Noumea, New Caledonia, on 14 March 1943.

In April, Hayes' unit was redesignated Company K, 3d Parachute Battalion, 1st Marine Parachute Regiment. In October Hayes sailed for Vella Lavella, arriving on the 14th. Here, he took part in the campaign and occupation of that island until 3 December when he moved north to Bougainville, arriving on the 4th. The campaign there was already underway, but the parachutists had a full share of fighting before they left on 15 January 1944.

Hayes was ordered to return to the United States where he landed at San Diego on 14 February 1944, after slightly more than 11 months overseas and two campaigns. The parachute units were disbanded in February, and Hayes was transferred to Company E, 2d Battalion, 28th Marines, of the 5th Marine Division, then at Camp Pendleton, California.

In September, Hayes sailed with his company for Hawaii for more training. He sailed from Hawaii in January en route to Iwo Jima where he landed on D-day (19 February 1945) and remained during the fighting until 26 March. Then he embarked for Hawaii where he boarded a plane for the U.S. on 15 April. On the 19th, he joined Company C, 1st Headquarters Battalion, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C.

On 10 May, Hayes, Private First Class Gagnon, Pharmacist's Mate Second Class Bradley, and Marine Technical Sergeant Keyes Beech, a combat correspondent, left on the bond selling tour. In Chicago, Hayes received orders directing his return to the 28th Marines. He arrived at Hilo, Hawaii, and rejoined Company E of the 29th on 28 May. Three weeks later, on 19 June, he was promoted to corporal.

With the end of the war, Corporal Hayes and his company left Hilo and landed at Sasebo, Japan, on 22 September to participate in the occupation of Japan. On 25 October, Corporal Hayes boarded his eleventh and last ship to return to his homeland for the third time. Landing at San Francisco on 9 November, he was honorably discharged on 1 December.

Corporal Hayes was awarded a Letter of Commendation with Commendation Ribbon by the Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, Lieutenant General Roy S. Geiger, for his "meritorious and efficient performance of duty while serving with a Marine infantry battalion during operations against the enemy on Vella Lavella and Bougainville, British Solomon Islands, from 15 August to 15 December 1943, and on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, from 19 February to 27 March 1945."

The list of the Corporal's decorations and medals includes the Commendation Ribbon with "V" combat device, Presidential Unit Citation with one star (for Iwo Jima), Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four stars (for Vella Lavella, Bougainville, Consolidation of the Northern Solomons, and Iwo Jima), American Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

The former Marine died at Bapchule on 24 January 1955. He was buried on 2 February 1955 at Arlington National Cemetery, in Section 34, Plot 479A.

One of Washington's premier landmarks is the world's largest statue, an immense sculpture in bronze, weighing 100 tons and reaching a height of 110 feet. It depicts six Marines--each figure about 32 feet tall--hoisting an American flag on the island of Iwo Jima, a part of the prefecture of Tokyo, located in the Pacific Ocean 650 miles from the Japanese mainland.

The monument memorializes one of the final battles of the 20th century's Second World War and has become, in the words of an academician, "one of the most charged and powerful cultural symbols of patriotism to mainstream Americans." It was copied from a photograph made in February 1945 by Joe Rosenthal, an Associated Press photographer. The struggle ended a month or so later with more than 25,000 American Marines dead or wounded. The Japanese garrison of 22,000 was annihilated but for a few prisoners.

The flag-raising image, captured by Rosenthal in 1/400th of a second, had an adrenaline effect on a public tiring of war and haunted by fear that the approaching invasion of Japan would be Armageddon. Critics hailed the picture as a transcendent work of art. It inspired the sale of billions of dollars in war bonds and gave sculptor Felix de Weldon the blueprint for the huge statue that now looms alongside the Arlington National Cemetery. It made Rosenthal famous, brought sculptor de Weldon both fame and wealth, and gave the Marines a semi-religious institutional icon, a triumphant metaphor for the very soul of the Corps.

What has been lost in all this is any collective memory of the six boys who raised the flag and then, after an instant of notoriety, passed into the void of anonymity that, with few exceptions, awaits us all. Who were they? What happened to them?

The most recent of the many books inspired by the battle and by Rosenthal's sublime image is Flags of Our Fathers, by James Bradley. It is described in a jacket blurb by the prolific military historian Stephen Ambrose as "the best battle book I have ever read." Others may view it in that light, but that was not the author's purpose. His principal aim was to rescue these forgotten boys--one of them his father--and transform them from "anonymous representative figures" into individuals.

His profiles of them resemble a cast from the paintings of Norman Rockwell, unfamous, un-celebrified, "ordinary" Americans: --Mike Strank, an immigrant from Czechoslovakia, brought to America in infancy by his father, who had found work digging coal in Pennsylvania for Bethlehem Steel.

--Ira Hayes, a "non-citizen" and immigrant of sorts in his native land, a Pima Indian born on a small cotton farm in the Gila River reservation in Arizona--geography his people had occupied for more than 2,000 years.

--Harlon Block, born on a farm in the Rio Grande valley of Texas, a superb athlete raised in a pacifist Seventh Day Adventist home where killing and even the possession of weapons were forsworn. "It is doubtful," Bradley writes, "that in his short life Harlon Block ever kissed a girl."

--Franklin Runyon Sousley, a good old hillbilly boy from Eastern Kentucky, a practical joker who, it was said, would "fight a running sawmill." His father died when he was 8 years old, leaving him as the man in the family.

--Rene Gagnon, child of French Canadian mill workers in Manchester, N.H., a shy, self-conscious "mama's boy" who "never chummed with the guys" and, like his parents, faced a lifetime in a factory until the Marines got him in 1943.
--Jack Bradley, father of the author of this book, an altar boy from a devout Catholic household in Antigo, Wis. His high school ambition (fulfilled after the war) was to be a funeral director, a counselor and friend to the bereaved. He joined the Navy to avoid combat, wound up as a medical corpsman with the Marines and came home with a Navy Cross, an honor unrevealed to his family until after his death.

They were teenagers, Bradley writes, "scarcely out of boyhood when they enlisted. Their lives up till then had been kids' lives: hunting, fishing, paper routes, the movies, adventure programs on radio . . . first wary contacts with girls . . . Most of them were poor. The Great Depression ran through their lives." They grew up fast in the war, discovering that doing their duty to God and country involved unimagined pain, terrors and awful deeds.

On Feb. 23, 1945, the fifth day of the battle, they raised the second of two flags planted that morning on the summit of Mount Suribachi, an extinct volcano that overlooked the landing beaches and had been made by the Japanese into a hellish nest of gun emplacements, pillboxes, fortified caves, tunnels and storage depots.

A week later their outfit, Easy Company, Second Battalion, 28th Marines, joined an assault on another ugly, heavily fortified terrain. They came under heavy sniper fire. Mike Strank, now a sergeant, squad leader and father figure to Hayes, Block and Sousley, led them to cover under a rocky outcropping. A shell, almost certainly from an American destroyer lying offshore, exploded and tore out Strank's heart. Harlon Block took over the squad. A few hours later a mortar round sliced him from groin to neck. As his intestines poured out on the ground he cried out: "They killed me."

Easy Company moved on, losing men daily. Jack Bradley, the corpsman, was wounded by shrapnel and flown out to a hospital in Guam. Sousley was shot by a sniper. Someone shouted: "How ya doin'?" Sousley replied: "Not bad. I don't feel anything." Then he fell and died.

Ira Hayes left Iwo Jima unwounded and nine months later was a civilian again, leaving behind in a mass graveyard on the island the best friends he ever had--Mike and Harlon and Franklin. Back home he found menial jobs on the reservation--cotton picking and other day labor work. He became a drifter, drank a lot, was in and out of jail and died in an abandoned hut on the reservation after an all-night poker game in January 1955, just short of 10 years after the flag-raising. He was 32 and got the biggest funeral in the history of Arizona.

Rene Gagnon survived the war unharmed, tried to exploit his brief fame as a flag-raiser but never "made it" out of the New Hampshire rut into which he was born. He was a janitor at a tourist home when he died in 1979 at the age of 54. Jack Bradley died in 1994, patriarch of a large family, revered town father in Antigo and proprietor of one of the largest funeral businesses in Wisconsin.

Following the war, unable to cope with his new-found fame, Ira Hayes turned to alcohol. Unable to keep a steady job, he was working as a cotton-picker on an Arizona Indian Reservation when he was found dead from alcohol and exposure on January 24, 1955. He now lies in Section 34 of Arlington National Cemetery.