Monday, May 31, 2010

Battle of Belleau Wood
United States Marine Corps - World War I

The Battle of Belleau Wood (1 June 1918 - 26 June 1918) occurred during the German 1918 Spring Offensive in World War I, near the Marne River in France. The battle was fought between the U.S. Second (under the command of Major General Omar Bundy) and Third Divisions and an assortment of German units including elements from the 237th, 10th, 197th, 87th, and 28th Divisions.

In March 1918, with nearly 50 additional divisions freed by the Russian surrender on the Eastern Front, the German Army launched a series of attacks on the Western Front, hoping to defeat the Allies before United States forces could be fully deployed.

In the north, the British 5th Army was virtually destroyed by two major offensive operations, Michael and Georgette around the Somme. A third offensive launched in May against the French between Soissons and Reims, known as the Third Battle of the Aisne, saw the Germans reach the north bank of the Marne river at Chateau-Thierry, 40 miles (64 km) from Paris, on 27 May. Two U.S. Army divisions, the 2nd and the 3rd, were thrown into the Allied effort to stop the Germans. On 31 May, the 3rd Division held the German advance at Chateau-Thierry and the German advance turned right towards Vaux and Belleau Wood.

On 1 June, Chateau-Thierry and Vaux fell, and German troops moved into Belleau Wood. The U.S. 2nd Division, which included a brigade of U.S. Marines, was brought up along the Paris-Metz highway. The 9th Infantry Regiment was placed between the highway and the Marne, while the 6th Marine Regiment was deployed to their left. The 5th Marines and 23rd Infantry regiments were placed in reserve.

On the evening of 1 June, German forces punched a hole in the French lines to the left of the Marines' position. In response, the U.S. reserve, consisting of the 23rd Infantry regiment, the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, and an element of the 6th Machine Gun Battalion, conducted a forced march over 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) to plug the gap, which they achieved by dawn. By the night of 2 June, the U.S. forces held a 12 miles (19 km) front line north of the Paris-Metz Highway running through grain fields and scattered woods, from Triangle Farm west to Lucy and then north to Hill 142. The German line opposite ran from Vaux to Bouresches to Belleau.

German advance halted at Belleau Wood
German commanders ordered an advance on Marigny and Lucy through Belleau Wood as part of a major offensive, in which other German troops would cross the Marne River. The commander of the Marine Brigade, Army Gen. James Harbord, countermanding a French order to dig trenches further to the rear, ordered the Marines to "hold where they stand". With bayonets, the Marines dug shallow fighting positions from which they could fight from the prone position. In the afternoon of 3 June, German infantry attacked the Marine positions through the grain fields with bayonets fixed. The Marines waited until the Germans were within 100 yards (91 m) before opening fire with deadly rifle fire which mowed down waves of German infantry and forced the survivors to retreat into the wood.

Having suffered heavy casualties, the Germans dug in along a defensive line from Hill 204, just east of Vaux, to Le Thiolet on the Paris-Metz Highway and northward through Belleau Wood to Torcy. After Marines were repeatedly urged to turn back by retreating French forces, Marine Captain Lloyd W. Williams of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines uttered the now-famous retort "Retreat? Hell, we just got here."Williams' battalion commander, Maj. Frederic Wise, later claimed he said the famous words.

On 4 June, Maj. Gen. Bundy, commanding the 2nd Division, took command of the American sector of the front. Over the next two days, Marines repelled the continuous German assaults. The 167th French Division arrived, giving Bundy a chance to consolidate his 2,000 yards (1,800 m) of front. Bundy's 3rd brigade held the southern sector of the line, while the Marine Brigade held the north of the line from Triangle Farm.

Attack on Hill 142
At 3:45 on the early morning of 6 June, the Allies planned an attack on the Germans who were preparing their own strike. The French 167th Division attacked to the left of the American line, while the Marines attacked Hill 142 to prevent flanking fire against the French. As part of the second phase, the 2nd Division would capture the ridge overlooking Torcy and Belleau Wood, as well as occupying Belleau Wood. However, the Marines failed to scout the woods. As a consequence, they missed a regiment of German infantry dug in, with a network of machine gun nests and artillery.

At dawn, the Marine 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, commanded by Major Julius Turrill, was to attack Hill 142, but only two companies were in position. The Marines advanced in waves with bayonets fixed across an open wheat field that was continuously swept with German machine gun and artillery fire, and many Marines were cut down. Captain Crowther commanding the 67th Company was killed almost immediately. Captain Hamilton and the 49th Company fought from woods to woods, fighting entrenched Germans and overrunning their objective by 600 yards. At this point, Hamilton had lost all five junior officers, while the 67th had only one officer alive. Hamilton reorganized the two companies, establishing strong points and a defensive line.

In the German counter-attack, Gunnery Sergeant Ernest A. Janson, who was serving under the name Charles Hoffman, became the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor in World War I when he repelled an advance of 12 Germans, killing two with his bayonet before the others fled. Gunner Henry Hulbert was also cited for advancing through enemy fire.

The rest of the battalion arrived and went into action. Turrill's flanks lay unprotected and the Marines were exhausting their ammunition rapidly. However by the afternoon the Marines had captured Hill 142, at a cost of nine officers and most of the 325 men of the battalion.

Marines attack Belleau Wood
At 5pm on 6 June, the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines (3/5), commanded by Major Benjamin S. Berry, and the 3rd Battalion 6th Marines (3/6), commanded by Maj. Berton W. Sibley, on their right, advanced from the west into Belleau Wood as part of the second phase of the Allied offensive. Again, the Marines had to advance through a waist-high wheat field into murderous machine gun fire. One of the most famous quotations in Marine Corps lore came during the initial step-off for the battle when Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly, recipient of two Medals of Honor and who had previously served in the Philippines, Santo Domingo, Haiti, Peking and Vera Cruz, prompted his men of the 73rd Machine Gun company forward with the words: "Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?"

The first waves of Marines, advancing in well-disciplined lines, were slaughtered, and Major Berry was wounded in the forearm during the advance. On his right, the Marines of Major Sibley's 3/6 Battalion swept into the southern end of Belleau Wood and encountered heavy machine gun fire, sharpshooters and barbed wire. Soon, Marines and Germans were engaged in heavy hand-to-hand fighting.

The casualties sustained on this day were the highest in Marine Corps history at that point. 31 officers and 1,056 men of the Marine brigade were casualties. However, the Marines now had a foothold in Belleau Wood.

Fighting in Belleau Wood
The battle was now deadlocked. At midnight on 7-8 June, a German attack was stopped cold and an American counter-attack in the morning of 8 June was similarly defeated. Sibley's battalion, having sustained nearly 400 casualties, was relieved by the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. Major Shearer took over the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines for the wounded Berry.

On 9 June, an enormous American and French barrage devastated Belleau Wood, turning the formerly attractive hunting preserve into a jungle of shattered trees. The Germans counter-fired into Lucy and Bouresches and reorganized their defenses inside Belleau Wood.

In the morning of 10 June, Maj. Hughes' 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, together with elements of the 6th Machine Gun Battalion attacked north into the wood. Although this attack initially seemed to be succeeding, it was also stopped by machine gun fire. The commander of the 6th Machine Gun Battalion, Maj. Cole, was mortally wounded. Captain Harlan Major, senior captain present with the battalion, took command. The Germans used great quantities of mustard gas. Next, Wise's 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines was ordered to attack the woods from the west, while Hughes continued his advance from the south.

At 4:00 am on 11 June, Wise's men advanced through a thick morning mist towards Belleau Wood, supported by the 23rd and 77th Companies of the 6th Machine Gun Battalion, and were cut to pieces by heavy fire. Platoons were isolated and destroyed by interlocked machine gun fire. It was discovered that the battalion had advanced in the wrong direction. Rather than moving north-east, they had moved directly across the wood's narrow waist. However, they smashed the German southern defensive lines. A German private, whose company had 30 men left out of 120, wrote "We have Americans opposite us who are terribly reckless fellows."

Overall, the woods were attacked by the Marines a total of six times before they could successfully expel the Germans. They fought off parts of five divisions of Germans, often reduced to using only their bayonets or fists in hand-to-hand combat.

On 26 June the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, supported by two companies of the 4th Machine Gun Battalion and the 15th Company of the 6th Machine Gun Battalion, made an attack on Belleau Wood, which finally cleared that forest of the enemy. On that day a report was sent out simply stating, "Woods now U.S. Marine Corps entirely," ending one of the bloodiest and most ferocious battles U.S. forces would fight in the war.

After the battle
U.S. forces suffered 9,777 casualties, included 1,811 killed. Many are buried in the nearby Aisne-Marne American Cemetery. There is no clear information on the number of Germans killed, although 1,600 Germans were taken prisoner.

After the battle, the French renamed the wood "Bois de la Brigade de Marine" ("Wood of the Marine Brigade") in honor of the Marines' tenacity. The French government also later awarded the 4th Brigade the Croix de guerre. Belleau Wood is allegedly also where the Marines got their nickname "Teufel Hunden" meaning "Devil Dogs" in poor German (actually "Teufelshunde" in proper German), for the ferocity with which they attacked. An official German report classified the Marines as "vigorous, self-confident, and remarkable marksmen..." General Pershing, Commander of the AEF, even said, "The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle!"

Pershing also said "the Battle of Belleau Wood was for the U.S. the biggest battle since Appomattox and the most considerable engagement American troops had ever had with a foreign enemy."

In 1923, an American battle monument was built in Belleau Wood. Army General James. G. Harbord, the commander of the Marines during the battle, was made an honorary Marine. In his address, he summed up the future of the site:

"Now and then, a veteran ... will come here to live again the brave days of that distant June. Here will be raised the altars of patriotism; here will be renewed the vows of sacrifice and consecration to country. Hither will come our countrymen in hours of depression, and even of failure, and take new courage from this shrine of great deeds."

White crosses and Stars of David mark 2,289 graves, 250 for unknown service members, and the names of 1,060 missing men adorn the wall of a memorial chapel. Visitors also stop at the nearby German cemetery where 8,625 men are buried; 4,321 of them"3,847 unknown"rest in a common grave. The German cemetery was established in March 1922, consolidating a number of temporary sites, and includes men killed between the Aisne and the Marne in 1918, along with 70 men who died in 1914 in the First Battle of the Marne.

In New York City, a 0.197-acre (800 m2) triangle at the intersection of 108 Street and 51st Avenue in Queens is dedicated to Marine Pvt. William F. Moore, 47th Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.

The Fifth and Sixth Marine Regiments were awarded the French Fourragere for their actions at Belleau Wood.

Two U.S. Navy vessels have been named the USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24 and LHA-3) after the battle.

"Belleau Wood" is a song released by American Country Music artist Garth Brooks. It was the 14th track from his 1997 album Sevens. The song was co-written by Joe Henry and tells the story of opposing forces joining in the singing of Silent Night during the Christmas Truce.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Memorial Day - formerly Decoration Day
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 31, 2010). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the Civil War), it was expanded after World War I.

Memorial Day weekend on my home-turf: I live in Northwest Florida panhandle, (Gulf Breeze, Pensacola and Pensacola Beach), and it isn't one of the friendliest parts of the world for gay and lesbian visitors. In late May, more than 20 years ago, this area became a cross between a circuit-style gay gathering and a regional Florida panhandle gay pride celebration, drawing 50,000 or more revelers to my area over the course of several days. The gays and lesbians come from every state - North, South, East and West. They celebrate and spend a lot of money on cocktails, food and lodging.

Memorial Day History
Following the end of the Civil War, many communities set aside a day to mark the end of the war or as a memorial to those who had died. Some of the places creating an early memorial day include Sharpsburg, Maryland, located near Antietam Battlefield; Charleston, South Carolina; Boalsburg, Pennsylvania; Petersburg, Virginia; Carbondale, Illinois; Columbus, Mississippi; many communities in Vermont; and some two dozen other cities and towns. These observances coalesced around Decoration Day, honoring the Union dead, and the several Confederate Memorial Days.

Danielle Davis According to Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the first memorial day was observed by formerly enslaved black people at the Washington Race Course (today the location of Hampton Park) in Charleston, South Carolina. The race course had been used as a temporary Confederate prison camp in 1865 as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who died there. Immediately after the cessation of hostilities, formerly enslaved people exhumed the bodies from the mass grave and reinterred them properly with individual graves. They built a fence around the graveyard with an entry arch and declared it a Union graveyard. The work was completed in only ten days.
On May 1, 1865, the Charleston newspaper reported that a crowd of up to ten thousand, mainly black residents, including 2800 children, processed to the location for a celebration which included sermons, singing, and a picnic on the grounds, thereby creating the first Decoration Day.
The first observance was in Waterloo, New York on May 5, 1866, and each year thereafter. The friendship between General John Murray, a distinguished citizen of Waterloo, and General John A. Logan, who helped bring attention to the event nationwide, was likely a factor in the holiday's growth.
On May 5, 1868, in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a veterans' organization, Logan issued a proclamation that "Decoration Day" be observed nationwide. It was observed for the first time on May 30 of the same year; the date was chosen because it was not the anniversary of a battle. The tombs of fallen Union soldiers were decorated in remembrance.

Many of the states of the U.S. South refused to celebrate Decoration Day, due to lingering hostility towards the Union Army and also because there were relatively few veterans of the Union Army who were buried in the South. A notable exception was Columbus, Mississippi, which on April 25, 1866, at its Decoration Day commemorated both the Union and Confederate casualties buried in its cemetery.

The alternative name of "Memorial Day" was first used in 1882. It did not become more common until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967. On June 28, 1968, the United States Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved three holidays from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The holidays included Washington's Birthday, now celebrated as Presidents' Day; Veterans Day and Memorial Day. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971.

After some initial confusion and unwillingness to comply, all 50 states adopted the measure within a few years. In 1978, Veterans Day was changed back to its traditional date on November 11. Most corporate businesses no longer close on Veterans Day, Columbus Day or President's Day, with the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and/or New Year's Eve often substituted as more convenient "holidays" for their employees. Memorial Day endures as a holiday which most businesses observe because it marks the beginning of the "summer vacation season." This role is filled in neighboring Canada by Victoria Day, which occurs either on May 24 or the last Monday before that date, placing it exactly one week before Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Walter 'Bud' Mahurin, Col.
Fighter Pilot - U. S. Air Force

Walker Mahurin, one of the leading American fighter pilots of World War II, who downed enemy planes in Europe and the Pacific, and, later, in the Korean War, died May 11, 2010 at his home in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 91.

Having arrived in Britain in January 1943 with the Army Air Forces’ 56th Fighter Group, Mr. Mahurin, who was known as Bud, flew P-47 Thunderbolts that protected American bombers on their missions.
He downed his first two German planes in August 1943, and in November he shot down three planes in a single day during a raid on Bremen, Germany, giving him a total of 10 “kills” and making him the first “double ace” in the Eighth Air Force.

On March 27, 1944, Mr. Mahurin’s fighter was hit when he took part in shooting down a German plane during a raid on Tours, France.
He bailed out, hid in a haystack and was found by a farmer who placed him in the hands of the French Resistance, which arranged his return to England.
When he returned to the United States in June 1944, his combat days were seemingly over. Since he might be forced to provide information about the French underground if shot down again by the Germans and captured, he was not permitted to fly over Europe any longer. But he obtained a transfer to the Pacific theater and shot down a Japanese plane in the Philippines, piloting a P-51 Mustang.
By the war’s end, Mr. Mahurin had been credited with 20.75 kills, the fraction representing shared credit with other fighter pilots in some downings.
He was serving in the office of the Air Force secretary when the Korean War broke out. Arriving in South Korea in December 1951, he flew F-86 Sabre jets. He had been credited with shooting down three MIG-15s, and taking part in another downing, when he set out to strafe a rail yard in North Korea on May 13, 1952.

He decided that before heading back to base he would shoot up a truck he had spotted in the area.

“I should never have gone after that truck,” Mr. Mahurin told the Gannett News Service in 2006. “You never want to trade a $500,000 airplane for a $50,000 truck. I figured, well, I’d go shoot that up and then I’ll have a good story to tell the boys at the officers’ club when I get back to base. And of course I never got back.”

Mr. Mahurin was hit by anti-aircraft fire. He made a crash landing in a rice paddy, breaking his arm, and was captured. For the next 16 months — a period that extended beyond the armistice — he was subjected to brutal questioning and psychological torment as a prisoner of war. The Communists were trying to get downed American airmen to sign confessions that they were committing germ warfare in bombing runs.

Mr. Mahurin resisted his captors and tried to commit suicide, but he was among many American airmen who finally relented.

“Bud Mahurin at last agreed to write a ‘confession’ so full of inaccuracies and implausible information that any Western reader would know it was fiction,” John L. Frisbee wrote in Air Force magazine in 1997. “Unknown to him, the war had already ended.”
Doug Lantry, a historian at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, said Mr. Mahurin was the only pilot of the Army Air Forces and its successor, the Air Force, to have shot down enemy planes in the European and Pacific theaters in World War II as well as in Korea.

Walker Melville Mahurin, the son of an architect, was born on Dec. 5, 1918, in Benton Harbor, Mich., but grew up in Fort Wayne, Ind. He attended Purdue University before joining the military in 1941, and he returned for a bachelor’s degree after World War II.

After the Korean War, Colonel Mahurin was vice commander of the 27th Air Division. He retired from military service in 1956 and then worked for North American Aviation in Southern California.

In addition to Joan Mahurin, his second wife, he is survived by two sons, George, of Brea, Calif., and Michael, of Florida, and a daughter, Lynn Vaughn of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., all from his marriage to his first wife, Patricia, which ended in divorce; a stepdaughter, Valerie Miller of Newport Beach; and seven grandchildren.

For all the torment to which he was subjected as a prisoner of war, Mr. Mahurin looked back at his flying days as an adventure.

“That was the most fun I ever had,” he told Airman magazine in 2003, recalling his time as a Sabre jet pilot in Korea.

“You seldom think of aerial combat — getting shot at — as fun,” he said, “but it’s a lot of fun if you’re doing the shooting.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

US Army vs. US Marine Corps
What is the difference between the US Army and the US Marines?

The United States has three armed forces under the direction of the Department of Defense: the US Army, US Air Force, and US Navy. The US Marine Corps are actually a branch of the Navy, while the Coast Guard, the other armed force of the United States, is technically under the wing of the Department of Homeland Security. Each branch of the armed services in America performs a vital role for national security.

The US Army and the US Marines are two very different services. The mission goals for each service are different, and they accomplish their work in different ways. While people might be tempted to lump the two together since they both form parts of ground-based invading forces, most Marines would resent implication that the two forces are indistinguishable.
The US Marines are a highly mobile amphibious attack force. Marines are trained to attack from the water and establish a beach head, an area of control on foreign soil. After the Marines take territory, other armed forces such as the US Army move in to maintain control, while the Marines move on. Marines are mobile, lightweight, and very rapid. One might compare the Marines to the head of a spear, wedging in to get a foothold and racing ahead once the land has been secured.
In addition to acting as a lightweight attack force from the ocean, Marines are also perfectly capable of taking territory on land. Marines are trained for rapid deployment, and are often the first US military personnel on site. Marines also guard American embassies overseas, providing embassy security and safety. In volatile areas, being a Marine embassy guard is a very risky job.
The US Army, on the other hand, is the primary ground-based military force. As such, the US Army captures and holds territory with the use of infantry, aircraft, and an extensive support staff. The US Army is in the thick of battle, and is a substantially larger armed force than the Marines. Certain members of the US Army, such as the Army Rangers, have training which is similar to that received by the Marines.
Both forces have reserve troops, which can be activated in times of need. The Army reserves are significantly larger, however. Unlike the Marines, the US Army also has extensive support staff, including medical personnel. The Marine Corps relies on the Navy for many support services, keeping the service small and efficient.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Aquilla J. Dyess
Lieutenant Colonel Aquilla James "Jimmie" Dyess (January 11, 1909 - February 2, 1944) was a United States Marine Corps officer who was a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life" at the head of his troops during World War II in the Battle of Kwajalein, on Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands on February 2, 1944.
He was born on January 11, 1909 in Andersonville, Georgia. As a youth, he attained the rank of Eagle Scout, highest in the Boy Scouts. Dyess is one of only seven known Eagle Scouts who also received the Medal of Honor. The others are Robert Edward Femoyer, Eugene B. Fluckey, Mitchell Paige, Benjamin L. Salomon, Leo K. Thorsness, and Jay Zeamer, Jr. He is also the only American to receive both the Carnegie Medal for civilian heroism and the Medal of Honor. In 1929, he was awarded the Carnegie Medal for saving two swimmers off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina in 1928.

Dyess graduated from Clemson College, Clemson, South Carolina, in 1932 with a Bachelor of Science degree in architecture. At Clemson, he served as a cadet major in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, and was appointed a second lieutenant in the Army Infantry Reserve in 1931.

In civilian life, he was a general contractor. He also served as assistant director of a summer camp for boys.

Dyess was appointed a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve in November 1936. In 1937, 1stLt Dyess was awarded the Bronze Star as a shooting member of the Marine Corps Rifle Team which won the Hilton trophy in the National matches, and was given the same award in 1938 as an alternate member of the team that captured the Rattlesnake trophy in the matches.

Lieutenant Colonel Dyess was killed on February 2, 1944 by a burst of enemy machine gun fire while standing on the parapet of an anti-tank trench directing a group of infantry in a flanking attack against the last Japanese position in the northern part of Namur Island. In this final assault, LtCol Dyess posted himself between the opposing lines and, exposed to fire from heavy automatic weapons, led his troops in the advance. Wherever the attack was slowed by heavier enemy fire, he quickly appeared and placed himself at the head of his men and inspired them to push forward.

Lieutenant Colonel Dyess was initially buried in the 4th Marine Division Cemetery on Roi-Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands. Later, in 1948, he was re-interred in Westover Memorial Park Cemetery, Augusta, Georgia.

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


for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of the First Battalion, Twenty-Fourth Marines, Reinforced, Fourth Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the assault on Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, February 1, and 2, 1944. Undaunted by severe fire from automatic Japanese weapons, Lieutenant Colonel Dyess launched a powerful final attack on the second day of the assault, unhesitatingly posting himself between the opposing lines to point out objectives and avenues of approach and personally leading the advancing troops. Alert, and determined to quicken the pace of the offensive against increased enemy fire, he was constantly at the head of advance units, inspiring his men to push forward until the Japanese had been driven back to a small center of resistance and victory assured. While standing on the parapet of an antitank trench directing a group of infantry in a flanking attack against the last enemy position, Lieutenant Colonel Dyess was killed by a burst of enemy machine-gun fire. His daring and forceful leadership and his valiant fighting spirit in the face of terrific opposition were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Posthumous honors
In 1945, the
destroyer USS Dyess (DD-880) was named in honor of LtCol Dyess.

In October 30, 1998, the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center in Augusta, Georgia was dedicated to LtCol. A. James Dyess, USMCR.

The Georgia-Carolina Council of the Boy Scouts of America celebrates Dyess' life in an annual Jimmie Dyess Days event at Fort Gordon."JDD Days".

The four lane highway from Interstate 20 in Augusta, Georgia to Fort Gordon is named the Jimmy Dyess Parkway in honor of Lt. Col. Dyess.

Friday, May 7, 2010

James Anderson, Jr.
Private First Class - U.S. Marine Corps

Private First Class James Anderson, Jr (January 22, 1947 - February 28, 1967) was a United States Marine who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism while serving in Vietnam in February 1967. When his Medal of Honor was awarded on August 21, 1968, he became the first African-American U.S. Marine recipient of the Medal of Honor.

Anderson was born on January 22, 1947, in Los Angeles, California. After graduating from senior high school, he attended Los Angeles Harbor Junior College for a year and a half.

Private Anderson left college to enlist in the United States Marine Corps on February 17, 1966 and received recruit training with the 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California. He was promoted to private first class upon graduation from recruit training in August 1966. He then transferred to Camp Pendleton, California where he received further training with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment.

In December 1966, Private Anderson arrived in the Republic of Vietnam, where he served as a rifleman with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division in Quang Tri Province. On February 28, 1967 he was mortally wounded.

A complete list of his medals and decorations includes: the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star, the Vietnamese Military Merit Medal, the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

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

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a rifleman, Second Platoon, Company F, Second Battalion, Third Marines, Third Marine Division, in Vietnam on 28 February 1967. Company F was advancing in dense jungle northwest of Cam Lo in an effort to extract a heavily besieged reconnaissance patrol. Private First Class Anderson's platoon was the lead element and had advanced only about 200 meters when they were brought under extremely intense enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire. The platoon reacted swiftly, getting on line as best they could in the thick terrain, and began returning fire. Private First Class Anderson found himself tightly bunched together with the other members of the platoon only 20 meters from the enemy positions. As the fire fight continued several of the men were wounded by the deadly enemy assault. Suddenly, an enemy grenade landed in the midst of the Marines and rolled alongside Private First Class Anderson's head. Unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, he reached out, grasped the grenade, pulled it to his chest and curled around it as it went off. Although several Marines received shrapnel from the grenade, his body absorbed the major force of the explosion. In this singularly heroic act, Private First Class Anderson saved his comrades from serious injury and possible death. His personal heroism, extraordinary valor, and inspirational supreme self-sacrifice reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Corporal John F. Mackie

Marine Corps' first Medal of Honor winner. The award was made July 10, 1863.
On May 8, 1862 the Galena headed up the James River of Virginia with two other gunboats in an effort to reach Richmond and compel its surrender. On board was a detachment of 12 Marines.

USS Galena and U.S. Marines Join Forces
The U.S. Marine Corps consisted of less than 2,000 officers and enlisted men in 1861. That number was further reduced when many chose to follow the Confederacy. Corporal John F. Mackie, a native of New York City, stayed with the Union. A few days before, he had reported for duty aboard the newly commissioned USS Galena. He was joined by 11 other loyal Marines.

As the Union gunboats moved up the James the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia a few days before. The latter was going to be used to defend Richmond but her draft was too deep for the journey. To keep her from falling into Union hands, she was set ablaze, but only after her crew removed her guns. Both crew and guns were then sent up the river to Drewry’s Bluff.

Drewry’s Bluff was a strategic point overlooking the James River. It was a perfect place to stop the Union flotilla advancing up the river. The fate of Richmond depended on it.

The commander of the Galena hoped to engage the Confederate battery while the rest of the flotilla slipped by. The heavily clad Monitor was unable to elevate her guns high enough to help. As a result, the Galena found herself in a crippling position as cannon fire soon rained down upon her deck.

"We turned our attention to the Galena," reported Confederate Commander Ebenezer Farrand, "nearly every one of our shots telling upon her iron surface." The rebel barrage was too much for the lightly armored Galena. Punctured plates were ripped apart and splintered wood flew through the ship.

Adding insult to injury, Confederate Marines were in sniping positions along the shore. "Our sharpshooters did good service, picking off every man who showed himself," Farrand later wrote.

"Here’s a chance for the Marines!"
On board the Galena, Corporal Mackie and his Marines resolutely returned fire. Suddenly a huge round hit the deck of the Galena, wiping out an entire gun crew. Mackie, nearby, jumped up and shouted, "Come on, boys. Here’s a chance for the Marines." His stunned men rallied, clearing the decks of dead and wounded.

Amidst a hail of Confederate fire, Mackie and his Marines began loading and firing the remaining Parrott rifle. Though they feverishly kept firing, Mackie saw the ship turning into a complete wreck!"

The Galena was finally forced to break off the engagement, limping back downstream to join the retreating Union flotilla. In three hours of conflict she lost 12 men dead and 11 wounded. The ship had taken at least 28 direct hits from rebel artillery. Many of the smoldering projectiles were still lodged in the hull and deck.

Amazingly, the Galena was repaired, but in February of 1864 the iron plating was removed and she was re-commissioned as a wood-hulled ship. She served valiantly as part of Admiral David Farragut’s fleet off Mobile, Alabama. She continued to serve after the War, finally being decommissioned in 1869.

Corporal John Mackie, meanwhile, became the first Marine ever to be awarded the newly created Congressional Medal of Honor. It was for his extraordinary gallantry aboard the USS Galena, where both men and machine refused to give up. Surely Grant and the citizens of Galena would have been proud.