Monday, September 27, 2010

MCRD "Marine Corps Recruit Depot"
A Brief history of Boot Camp

Marines will never forget their first training in Boot Camp. Many city boys thought the training was too rough and some could not handle it. For me, after working on a Tennessee hilly-rocky farm during the Great Depression, I felt like being on vacation with pay. The Marine Corps even gave us clothing and room and board.

What more would a young man want? Many times while plowing my mule, I had no shore to wear. I often thought that my hard life during the Great Depression, did indeed prepare me for the bad times on the battlefield during World War II. I knew how to survive during the bad times. The following "The Man Who Thinks He Can" has always by my guide. We must believe we can - Attack and Counterattack until Mission Accomplished.

The late MajorGeneral Raymond Bell, US Army, had Walter D. White's piece memorized. It became my center piece.

The Man Who Thinks He Can
If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win, but think you can’t,
It’s almost a cinch you want.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will;
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you’re outclassed, you are;
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But soon or later the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can.

For most of the Marine Corps’ history, there was no highly structured program of instruction for Marine recruits, such as we know today. Only in the last 90 years have there been centralized recruit depots with the mission of transforming civilians into basically trained Marines prepared to perform on the battlefield.

Early Marine recruit training was conducted at various posts and stations by noncommissioned officers who trained recruits in the “principles of military movements” and the use of the rifle. Commandant Franklin Wharton, who led the Corps from 1804 until his death in 1818, was the first to recognize the need for organized training and created a school for Marine recruits at the Marine Barracks in Washington where young men learned the basics of discipline, drill, the manual of arms and marksmanship.
The sea-going nature of the Marine Corps, however, coupled with the recurring shortages of money and men, kept the Marine Corps system for training recruits quite primitive throughout the 19th century. In 1911, however, Major General William P. Biddle, 11th Commandant of the Marine Corps, instituted some sweeping changes that would have profound and long-lasting effects on the training of Marines.

On assuming command of the Corps, Biddle made two months of recruit training mandatory and set up four recruit training depots – at Philadelphia, Norfolk (later at Port Royal, South Carolina), Puget Sound, Washington, and Mare Island, California. Mare Island became the sole west coast depot during the following year, and east coast recruit training was shifted to Parris Island, South Carolina, in 1915. The training program Biddle outlined included drill, physical exercise, personal combat, and intensive marksmanship qualification with the recently-adopted M1903 Springfield rifle.

General Biddle’s innovation met its first real test during World War I when the Corps expanded from about 15,000 to nearly 70,000 Marines in less than 18 months. During that period, the recruit training load expanded from 835 to a peak of 13,286. Living conditions at both depots were Spartan and the training was intense. Upon completion of recruit training, Marines received additional pre-embarkation training at Quantico, Virginia, and still more training after arriving in France.

During the summer of 1923, the west coast recruit depot was moved from Mare Island to San Diego, California. Training programs at the two recruit depots included three weeks of basic indoctrination, an equal period of time on the rifle range, and the final two weeks was occupied in bayonet drill, guard duty, drill and ceremonies.

During September 1939, shortly after the German invasion of Poland, expansion of the Corps from 18,000 to 25,000 Marines was authorized. The recruit syllabus was halved to four weeks to meet this goal, but the result was a decline in training standards and rifle qualification rates plummeting to new lows. From this experience came the realization that seven to eight weeks is the minimum amount of time required for adequate recruit training. The World War II recruit training formula did not vary greatly from World War I except in the overwhelming number of Marines to be trained --- nearly half a million men over a four year period. It was during the war, though, that a third recruit training facility was established at Montford Point, North Carolina, to train some 20,000 black Marines. Recruit training was fully integrated and Montford Point put to other use in 1949.

The outbreak of war in Korea saw recruit training spring into high gear once again as fresh replacements, only weeks beyond recruit training, performed creditable combat service at the demanding battles of Inchon, Seoul, and the Chosin Reservoir. After the war, the recruit syllabus returned to 10 weeks from the war-shortened 8-week schedule.

The period of active American involvement in Vietnam, from 1965 through 1970, saw recruit training reduced to nine weeks. Graduates moved directly from their depots to either Camp Lejeune or Camp Pendleton for additional infantry training, much as their World War II counterparts had done.

The past forty years have witnessed the continuing close scrutiny of the Marine Corps recruit training program. Concerted efforts have been made to eliminate the excesses that had crept into the system over the years while at the same time retaining those elements of the recruit training experience that have produced a highly trained and motivated fighting force. Officer supervision and special training units, along with other innovations for enhancing the effectiveness of recruiting training, were implemented during these decades. The goal, as articulated by Commandant of the Marine Corps General Randolph McCall Pate in 1956, has been “to preserve, protect, and improve the actual system of recruit training which has served us so well.”

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Surrender of Japanese Forces
in China, Indochina, and Formosa

My First Marine Division was still on the island of Okinawa in Aug. 1945 when the Japanese government surrendered, but we had much more work to do before coming home. Within a month, we were on our way to North China to accept the surrender of 500,000 Japanese who had been occupying most of that county for years. We came 50,000 strong with the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions. My group was sent to the city of Tientsin. I did not get home until the end of April 1946.
On 2 September 1945, representatives of the Japanese government and the Japanese armed forces formally surrendered to the Allies by signing the Instrument of Surrender aboard the U.S.S. Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay. Immediately following the signing ceremony, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), issued his General Order no. 1 laying out measures for the surrender of Japanese forces in Japan and her territories. General Order no. 1 assigned responsibility for demobilising Japanese forces in three areas, China, Indochina, and Formosa, to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. On 9 September 1945, pursuant to the General Order, Japanese commanders in China and representatives of Generalissimo Chiang signed the Act of Surrender - China Theatre in Nanking. Because the surrender of Japan is alleged by China to be the event transferring sovereignty of Formosa to China, an examination of the events surrounding the surrender and the Act of Surrender is warranted.
As a result of the acceptance by the Japanese government on 15 August 1945 of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration calling for the unconditional surrender of Japan, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the China Theatre, issued a telegraphic instruction to Lieut. Gen. Okamura Yasutsugu, Commander of Japanese Forces in Central China, to order the forces under the latter's command to cease all military operations and to send a surrender mission to Yushan in Kiangsi, to receive orders from Gen. Ho Ying-chin, Commander-in-Chief of the Chinese Army. Upon receipt of the instruction, Gen. Okamura forwarded to the Generalissimo a reply informing him that he would send Brig. Gen. Kiyoshi, Deputy Chief of Staff, as his surrender envoy. In a second telegraphic instruction to Gen. Okamura, the Generalissimo ordered the Japanese envoy to proceed to Chihkiang in Hunan, instead of Yushan as originally designated, because the airdrome at Yushan was no ready for use.
Brig. Gen. Kiyoshi, accompanied by two staff officers and one interpreter landed at the Chihkiang airfield on 21 August. He was received by Gen. Hsiao Yi-shu, Chief of Staff of the Chinese Army Headquarters, who, in an audience attended by more than one hundred Chinese and Allied officers, handed to Brig. Gen. Kiyoshi a memorandum from Gen. Ho Ying-chin for transmission to Gen. Okamura. The memorandum contained measures to be taken to effectuate the surrender of Japanese forces, and assigned the responsibility for accepting the surrender amongst fifteen Chinese generals. Brig. Gen. Kiyoshi formally accepted the memorandum and pledged to convey it to Gen. Okamura. The surrender party departed for Nanking on 23 August.
On 27 August, Lieut. Gen. Leng Hsin, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Chinese Army Headquarters, together with a party of 159 Chinese officers arrived in Nanking to establish an advance headquarters for the purpose of facilitating the Japanese surrender. The ceremony for the surrender in the China Theatre, which marks the conclusion of the eight-year Second Sino-Japanese War, took place in a simple 20-minute ceremony in the auditorium of the Central Military Academy in Nanking on 9 September 1945 at 09:00am. Gen. Ho Ying-chin and Lieut. Gen. Okamura Yasutsugu, representing their respective governments, signed the Act of Surrender. Immediately following the signing of the surrender document, Gen. Ho handed General Order no. 1 of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek to Lieut. Gen. Okamura as a supplement to the Act of Surrender.
According to a report submitted by the Japanese Headquarters, there were in the China Theatre (excluding Manchuria), Indochina north of the 16th parallel, and Formosa over 1,385,000 Japanese troops and over half a million Japanese civilians. Pursuant to provisions embodied in Gen. Ho's memorandum, the China Theatre was divided into sixteen areas (expanded from the original fifteen to include Formosa) and the commanders in their respective areas were empowered to receive Japanese surrender and to disarm Japanese troops. By the end of December 1945, over one million Japanese troops had been interned and ready for repatriation.
Beginning in late September 1945, 50,000 United States Marines, mainly of the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions, were deployed to North China to assist Chiang Kai-shek's forces in disarming and repatriating the Japanese in China and in controlling ports, railroads, and airfields. This was in addition to approximately 60,000 U.S. soldiers remaining in China at the end of the war. On 15 October 1945, the United States Marine Corps accepted the surrender of more than 500,000 Japanese troops in Tientsin. Over the next few months the Marines continued to accept the surrender of and repatriate Japanese forces. The Marines occasionally rearmed the Japanese to protect them from vengeful Chinese. In one instance, Marines transporting a large number of Japanese troops were surrounded by a much larger contingent of Chinese communists. The Marine officer in charge rearmed several hundred troops under their Japanese major. After the Chinese Communists retreated, the Japanese major disarmed his men and the repatriation resumed. The United States Marines remained in China for four years, guarding American property and civilian personnel, but gradually withdrawing southward in the face of the communist advance. During this period, more than 70,000 Marines served in China. The Marines finally departed in June 1949.
Manchuria, the area excluded from China in the Act of Surrender, had been occupied by over 630,000 Soviet troops since early August 1945, when the Soviet Union commenced Operation Autumn Storm following her Declaration of War against Japan. This territory would never be turned over to the Generalissimo as it was ultimately occupied by the Chinese communists following the Soviet withdrawal.
In the waning days of the war, the Japanese removed the Vichy French administration and granted nominal independence to the Indochinese states of Vietnam, Cambodia and Luang Prabang (later Laos). In the latter two states, royalist administrations were formed, whilst Vietnam fell under the control of the nationalist Vietminh led by Ho Chi Minh.
SCAP General Order no. 1 divided Indochina at the 16th parallel, and gave the responsibility for accepting the Japanese surrender to Chiang Kai-shek in the north and to Britain in the south. The British landed a division of the Indian Army under Maj. Gen. Douglas Gracey at Saigon. He found a Provisional Executive Committee, with a Vietminh minority, nominally in charge and anti-French sentiment running high. Responding to pleas from French inhabitants, Gen. Gracey released French troops from Japanese internment and ordered all Vietnamese disarmed. The nationalists responded by calling a general strike. Disorder spread and Gen. Gracey used rearmed French troops to help restore order. Cochin china was plunged into civil war.
In the north, the Vietminh retained control until the appearance of the Chinese 1st Area Army under Gen. Lu Han in mid-September 1945. With American acquiescence, the Chinese kept the interned French troops in detention and systematically looted the economy, manipulating the currency and seizing the Laotian opium crop. Prince Pethsarath, Prime Minister of Luang Prabang, commented that the ill-discipline and shabby appearance of Chinese troops made it easy to confuse victor and vanquished.
Meanwhile the Truman Administration recognised French sovereignty over Indochina, reversing President Roosevelt's anti-colonial doctrine. The French rebuilt their forces in Saigon, and in October armored units under Gen. Philippe Leclerc broke the Vietminh blockade and began a pacification campaign in the South. Ho Chi Minh flew to France to negotiate the future of Vietnam, but France was unwilling to recognize independence in any meaningful form. The ensuing maneuverings were complex, but the result was that Ho, bereft of international support and fearing prolonged Chinese occupation, invited the French to return. By April, the French had relieved Chinese forces in Tonkin and were warily confronting the Vietminh in Hanoi and Haiphong. Chiang’s forces, however, would not completely withdraw from Indochina until May 1946, despite repeated demands by the Allies to relinquish control to the French.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Richard Etchberger
U. S. Air Force

On Sept. 21, 2010, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to Chief Master Sergeant Richard Etchberger (USAF) for actions taken four decades ago.

“Even though it has been 42 years, it's never too late to do the right thing and it's never too late to pay tribute to our Vietnam veterans and their families,” the president said at an East Room ceremony this afternoon.

The award is the highest military decoration that the nation can bestow, awarded for “conspicuous gallantry” the president said -- for risking one's life in action and for serving beyond the call of duty.

There’s a twist to this particular story though.

Etchberger’s mission was so secret – upon his death, his three sons were told their dad was a hero, and had died while saving fellow airmen, but were not told much else. His work was classified for years, his family left without the details of his heroic death.

“Then, nearly two decades later, the phone rang,” the president recalled today, “It was the Air Force and their father's mission was finally being declassified and that's when they learned the truth, that their father had given his life not in Vietnam but in neighboring Laos. That's when they began to learn the true measure of their father's heroism.”

Air Force Chief Master Sgt Etchberger, a native of Hamburg, PA, came under ground attack at a US encampment in Laos, next door to Vietnam, when American forces were not legally in combat, technically considered a civilian at the time his base was attacked. Etchberger was a radar technician handpicked for a secret assignment to man, along with a team, a tiny radar station guiding American pilots in the air campaign against North Vietnam.

The president described how on Etchberger’s fateful day he looked through binoculars and saw that their mountain was surrounded by thousands of North Vietnamese troops. After deciding that they would continue the mission, that night the enemy attacked, trapping Etchberger and his team at the ledge of the mountain.

“The enemy lobbed down grenade after grenade, hour after hour. Dick and his men would grab the grenades and throw them back or kick them town down into the valley below, but the grenades kept coming,” Obama said today, “One airman was killed and then another; a third airman was wounded, then another. Eventually, Dick was the only man standing.”

The president noted that as a technician Etchberger had no formal combat training and had only recently been issued a rifle.

“When the enemy started moving down the rocks, Dick fought them off. When it looked like the ledge would be overrun, he called for air strikes within yards of his own position, shaking the mountain and clearing the way for a rescue. And in the morning light, an American helicopter came into view. Richard Etchberger lived the airmen's creed -- to never leave an airmen behind, to never falter, to never fail. So as the helicopter hovered above and lowered its sling, Dick loaded his wounded men one by one, each time exposing himself to enemy fire. And when another airmen suddenly rushed forward after alluding the enemy all night, Dick loaded him, too, and finally himself. They had made it off the mountain.”

As the helicopter began to peel away a burst of gunfire erupted, and Etchberger was wounded and by the time they landed at the nearest base he had passed away.

The military restored Chief Master Sergeant Etchberger’s active duty status after his death, making him eligible to receive the highest military honor, 42 year after he was killed in action. His three sons accepted the award on his behalf today.

"Among the few who knew of Dick's actions, there was the belief that his valor warranted our nation's highest military honor, but his mission had been a secret and that's how it stayed for those many years,” the president said, “When their father's mission was finally declassified, these three sons learned something else. It turned out that their mother had known about Dick's work all along, but she had been sworn to secrecy and she kept that promise to her husband and her country all those years, not even telling her own sons. So today is also a tribute to Catherine Etchberger and the reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our military spouses make on behalf of our nation."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Birth of U.S. Marine Corps Base
Quantico, Virginia in 1917

It's called the "Crossroads of the Marine Corps," and during its 93 year tenure on the approximately 100 square miles of land located along the western bank of the Potomac River, Marine Corps Base Quantico has been a training site for Marines and a birthing place of Marine Corps concepts.

Prior to Marines arriving here in 1917, the land was owned by the Town of Quantico. At the turn of the century, the Quantico Company was formed on Quantico Creek. The company, which promoted the town as a tourist and excursion center, set up tourist sites, such as refreshment stands, boats, and beaches with dressing rooms to promote business.

The large white building at the top, built in 1919, currently houses the Defense Printing Agency, self help and drivers improvement office. Directly across the railroad tracks are the buildings that comprised the town of Quantico. Quantico still holds its claim to fame as the only town in the country completely surrounded by a military base.

By 1916, the Quantico Company began advertising Quantico as "The New Industrial City," and pushed for industry to come to the area. At the same time, the Quantico Shipyards were established on the land that is now located by the Naval Medical Clinic to build ocean freighters and tankers. With growing tensions of war in Europe, the construction of U.S. Navy ships was a major money-maker for the Quantico Shipyards.

"I remember lots of hammering and noise going on in the back of the town," said John Brown, who was born in 1895.

Brown, a resident of the Brook Point Nursing Center in Stafford, grew up in Fredericksburg in the early 1900's and was a shoe shiner at a Quantico Town barber shop for 38 years, up until the end of WWII.

While the Town of Quantico was rapidly growing as a fishing village, excursion center and a shipbuilding center in early 1917, the town was not large or significant, and was suffering many financial difficulties.

Around the same time, then-Major General Commandant of the Marine Corps, Major General George Barnett, sent a board to find possible sites for a new Marine Corps base in the Washington, D.C., vicinity.

It wasn't to long after that the Crossroads of the Corps was established and the name "Quantico" would become immortalized in military history.

In 1917, Marine Barracks, Quantico, was established on the land currently occupied by today's Base. Marine Barracks personnel consisted of 91 enlisted men and four officers.

Brown recalls a time when the Town of Quantico and its newly established neighbors, the Marines of Marine Barracks, Quantico, were much different than today's Quantico area.

Quantico is the home of Marine Helicopter 1, the first Marine helo squadron. Here Marines load a helo as they test the aircrafts troop movement capabilities.

Brown referred to the training and preparation Marines made here for deployment to Europe during both World Wars while he worked at Quantico.

"There were horses and carriages, and buggies," he said. "I remember soldiers [Marines] training there for something they weren't too certain of."

As technology grew and expanded, so did Quantico. Thousands of Marines were trained here during World War I, and by 1920, the Marine Corps schools were founded, as then-Commandant, Col. Smedley D. Butler put it, "to make this post and the whole Marine Corps a great university."

These schools eventually developed into today's Marine Corps University, where most Marine officers begin their careers and many enlisted types keep up with their primary military education.

Quantico also had several other firsts, to include a first in Marine aviation and warfare doctrination. The first Marine Aircraft Wing was developed here, as well as the Corps' first helicopter squadron - Marine Helicopter Squadron One. HMX-1 was the first helicopter squadron to provide rapid transportation of U.S. Presidents. It continues that mission today.

In 1934, Amphibious Warfare Doctrine, along with special amphibious landing crafts for WWII were developed here.

Brown also remembered one incident he had with several Marines during Morning Colors at the Barracks just a few years after the base was established.

Students of the 1st Officers Training Camp dug trenches as part of their training. Officers were first trained here in August 1917.

"When that flag came up, a Marine told me to put my hand over my heart," he said. "He told me that if I was going to salute, that I had to stand at attention. I haven't forgotten to salute."

Since his birth, Brown has had the opportunity to experience many things in the Quantico area, to include many of the base's developments. Quantico was the birthplace for the first Marine Corps newspaper, the Quantico Sentry; the Advanced Base Force, which was the predecessor of today's Fleet Marine Forces; and a doctrine that gave the guidelines for training the first Naval gunfire specialists.

In 1987, the Marine Corps Development and Education Command here was changed to the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, signifying Quantico's role in the 21st century Marine Corps.

Over the years, Quantico has served as a birthing place for concepts and ideas that have since developed into essential components to the Corps' mission.

From the first 95 men who made up Marine Barracks, Quantico, which Brown remembers as only a handful of Marines training for WWI, to becoming the foundation of today's formal Marine schools and home of HMX-1, Over the course of it's "lifetime," Quantico has truly lived up to it's motto, "Semper Progredi," always forward.

Those Who Came Before Us
What is now known as the Crossroads of the Marine Corps was once seen as five miles of quiet, lush forest that bordered the Potomac River.

According to records, this is how the Algonquin Indian tribe known as Manohoacs saw the land when they inhabited the area just north of Quantico in the 1500s.

As a matter of fact, the name "Quantico" comes from the Native Americans and has been translated to mean "by the large stream."

Other accounts show that the area was first visited by European explorers in the summer of 1608. But, it wasn't until later in the year that major land owners started to appear.

After the turn of the century, the area became popular because of tobacco trade in Aquia Harbor. Because traveling on muddy roads in those days was slow, many villages sprung up along the river and its inlets. Additionally, the area was a bustling stopping point on the North-South routes between New York and Florida.

Early settlements and plantations rooted along the flatlands bordering the Potomac. The hills west of the river remained essentially uninhabited until the early 1700s.

Prince William County was organized in 1731 when the "Quantico Road" was also opened. This road gave vital access from the western part of the county to this area. By 1759 the road stretched across the Blue Ridge Mountains into the Shenandoah Valley.

The first military presence at Quantico came during the Revolutionary War, when the Quantico Creek village became a main naval base for the Commonwealth of Virginia's 72-vessel fleet on which many Virginia State Militia served.

The land was first visited by the Marine Corps in 1816 when a group of Marines traveling by ship to Washington had a slight setback. Their vessel was halted by ice in the Potomac forcing them to debark and march to the town of Dumfries. Here they met a young Captain Archibald Henderson who lived close by. A generous-natured man, Henderson hired a wagon for them and sent them on their way.

During the Civil War, control of the Potomac River became very important to both sides of the two armies. The Confederates picked the Quantico Creek area on the Potomac to set up their gun batteries. This enabled them to make full use of several points where their artillery could reach anything on the water, thus deterring Union use of the water highway. One of these sites included "Shipping Point," the present day site of the Naval Medical Clinic here.

While battles took place in Manassas and Fredericksburg, Va., the gun positions around Quantico were used until the end of the war. After a 12-day battle at the Spotsylvania Courthouse where the Union lost about 25,000 soldiers, the war moved out of the Quantico area.

Following the war, railroads became a more integral part of transportation. In 1872, the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac railroad was formed when several railroads north and south met at Quantico Creek. This railroad still runs through the Base and is used daily.

The village came to be called "Quantico" and was built by the Quantico Company. This was the start of a thriving tourist and fishing town that would later be known worldwide as Marine Corps Base Quantico.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida
Cradle of Naval Aviation

The site now occupied by NAS Pensacola has a colorful background dating back to the 16th century when Spanish explorer Don Tristan de Luna founded a colony on the bluff where Fort Barrancas is now situated.

Navy yard
Realizing the advantages of the Pensacola harbor and the large timber reserves nearby for shipbuilding, in 1825 President John Quincy Adams and Secretary of the Navy Samuel Southard made arrangements to build a Navy yard on the southern tip of Escambia County, where the air station is today. Navy Captains William Bainbridge, Lewis Warrington, and James Biddle selected the site on Pensacola Bay.

Construction began in April 1826, and the Pensacola Navy Yard, also known as the Warrington Navy Yard became one of the best equipped naval stations in the country. In its early years the base dealt mainly with the suppression of slave trade and piracy in the Gulf and Caribbean as the garrison of the West Indies Squadron.

On January 12, 1861, just prior to the commencement of the Civil War, the Warrington Navy Yard surrendered to secessionists. When Union forces captured New Orleans in 1862, Confederate troops, fearing attack from the west, retreated from the Navy Yard and reduced most of the facilities to rubble.

After the war, the ruins at the yard were cleared away and work was begun to rebuild the base. Many of the present structures on the air station were built during this period, including the stately two- and three-story houses on North Avenue. In 1906, many of these newly rebuilt structures were destroyed by a great hurricane and tidal wave.

Naval aeronautical station
Meanwhile, great strides were being made in aviation. The Wright Brothers and especially Glenn Curtiss were trying to prove to the Navy that the aircraft had a place in the fleet. The first aircraft carrier was built in January 1911, and a few weeks later, the seaplane made its first appearance. Then, civilian pilot Eugene Ely landed a frail craft aboard USS Pennsylvania (ACR-4) in San Francisco Bay, and the value of the aircraft to the Navy had been demonstrated.

The Navy Dept., now awakened to the possibilities of Naval Aviation through the efforts of Capt. Washington Irving Chambers, prevailed upon Congress to include in the Naval Appropriation Act enacted in 1911-12 a provision for aeronautical development. Chambers was ordered to devote all of his time to naval aviation.

In October 1913, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, appointed a board, with CAPT Chambers as chairman, to make a survey of aeronautical needs and to establish a policy to guide future development. One of the board's most important recommendations was the establishment of an aviation training station in Pensacola.

Upon entry into World War I, Pensacola, still the only naval air station, had 38 naval aviators, 163 enlisted men trained in aviation support, and 54 fixed-wing aircraft. Two years later, by the signing of the armistice in November 1918, the air station, with 438 officers and 5,538 enlisted men, had trained 1,000 naval aviators. At war's end, seaplanes, dirigibles, and free kite balloons were housed in steel and wooden hangars stretching a mile down the air station beach.

In the years following World War I, aviation training slowed down. From the 12-month flight course, an average of 100 pilots were graduating annually. This was before the day of aviation cadets; officers were accepted for the flight training program only after at least two years of sea duty. The majority were Annapolis graduates, although a few reserve officers and enlisted men also graduated. Thus, Naval Air Station Pensacola became known as the "Annapolis of the Air".

Station Field was created on the north side of the navy yard in 1922. Enlarged, it was renamed Chevalier Field in 1935 for Lt. Cdr. Godfrey DeCourcelles Chevalier, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1910, who was appointed a Naval Air Pilot No. 7 on 7 November 1915 and a Naval Aviator No. 7 on 7 November 1918. With the advent of jet aviation, its 3,100 foot runway was too short for new aircraft entering service, and Forrest Sherman Field was opened in 1954 for most fixed-wing operations.

Naval air station
With the inauguration in 1935 of the cadet training program, activity at Pensacola again expanded. When Pensacola's training facilities could no longer accommodate the ever increasing number of cadets accepted by the Navy, two more naval air stations were created-one in Jacksonville, Florida, and the other in Corpus Christi, Texas. In August 1940, a larger auxiliary base, Saufley Field, named for LT R.C. Saufley, Naval Aviator 14, was added to Pensacola's activities. In October 1941, a third field, Ellyson Field, named after CDR Theodore G. 'Spuds' Ellyson, the Navy's first aviator, was added.

As the nations of the world moved toward World War II, NAS Pensacola once again became the hub of air training activities. NAS Pensacola expanded again, training 1,100 cadets a month, 11 times the amount trained annually in the 1920s. The growth of NAS Pensacola from 10 tents to the world's greatest naval aviation center was emphasized by then-Senator Owen Brewster's statement: "The growth of naval aviation during World War II is one of the wonders of the modern world." Naval aviators from NAS Pensacola were called upon to train the Doolittle Raiders at Eglin Field in 1942 in carrier take-offs in their B-25 Mitchell bombers. Navy Lt. Henry Miller supervised their takeoff training and accompanied the crews to the launch. For his efforts, Lt. Miller is considered an honorary member of the Raider group.

The Korean War presented problems as the military was caught in the midst of transition from propellers to jets, and the air station revised its courses and training techniques. Nonetheless, NAS Pensacola produced 6,000 aviators from 1950 to 1953.

Forrest Sherman Field was opened in 1954 on the western side of NAS Pensacola. This jet airfield was named after the late Admiral Forrest P. Sherman, a former Chief of Naval Operations. Shortly thereafter the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, relocated from NAS Corpus Christi, Texas.

Pilot training requirements shifted upward to meet the demands for the Vietnam War which occupied much of the 1960s and 1970s. Pilot production was as high as 2,552 (1968) and as low as 1,413 (1962).

Modern history
In 1971, NAS Pensacola was picked as the headquarters site for CNET (Chief of Naval Education and Training), a new command which combined direction and control of all Navy education and training activities and organizations. The Naval Air Basic Training Command was absorbed by the Naval Air Training Command, which moved to NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. In 2003, CNET was replaced by the Naval Education and Training Command(NETC).

Also located on board NAS Pensacola, is Naval Aviation Schools Command (NAVAVSCOLSCOM). This command has the following subordinate schools:
* Aviation Enlisted Aircrew Training School (AEATS)
* Aviation Training School
* Crew Resource Management
* U.S. Navy and Marine Corps School of Aviation Safety

NAVASCOLSCOM also previously oversaw Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS) until that program's disestablishment and merger into Officer Candidate School (OCS) under Officer Training Command at NETC Newport, Rhode Island in 2007.

The Pensacola Naval Complex in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel.

In the 2005 round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), it was feared that NAS Pensacola would be closed, despite its naval hub status, due to extensive damage by Hurricane Ivan in late 2004; nearly every building on the installation suffered heavy damage, with near total destruction of the air station's southeastern complex . The main barracks, Chevalier Hall, only opened in late January 2005, four months after the storm. When the list was released on 13 May 2005, it was revealed that NAS Pensacola, as well as the other bases hit by Ivan in Northwest Florida, were off the chopping block.

In May 2006, Navy construction crews unearthed a Spanish ship from underneath the Pensacola Naval Air Station, possibly dating back to the mid-16th century. It was discovered during the rebuilding of the base's rescue swimmer school which was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Salvatore Giunta
Salvatore A. Giunta (born January 21, 1985) is a soldier in the United States Army who will be the first living person since the Vietnam War to receive the Medal of Honor. He will receive the award for actions in the War in Afghanistan in 2007.

Personal life
Born in Clinton, Iowa, on January 21, 1985, Giunta grew up in Cedar Rapids and Hiawatha. His parents Steve, a medical equipment technician, and Rose, a preschool teacher, live in Hiawatha. He has two younger siblings, a brother Mario and sister Katie. Giunta attended John F. Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids and enlisted in the Army in November 2003. He and his wife Jennifer, a native of Dubuque, were married in October 2007 after dating for several years.

Military career
Giunta attended basic training and infantry school at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was first deployed to Afghanistan from March 2005 until March 2006, while his second tour lasted from May 2007 until July 2008. Giunta was promoted to staff sergeant in August 2009 and is currently stationed at Caserma Ederle, the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team's base near Vicenza, Italy. He works in a support role for members of the 173rd Airborne who are currently deployed in Afghanistan.

Medal of Honor
In October 2007, Giunta's eight-man squad was moving in bright moonlight along a wooded ridgeline in the Korangal Valley when at least a dozen Taliban fighters mounted an ambush that was coordinated from three sides at such close range that close air support could not be provided to Giunta's unit. Sergeant Josh Brennan, who was walking point, suffered at least 6 gunshot wounds. Giunta, then a specialist, was the fourth soldier back and was shot in the chest but was saved by his ballistic vest. Another bullet destroyed a weapon slung over his back. Moving, firing and throwing hand grenades, Giunta advanced up the trail to assist Staff Sergeant Erick Gallardo and, later, Specialist Franklin Eckrode, whose M249 machine gun had jammed and who was badly wounded. Continuing up the trail, Giunta saw two Taliban fighters, one of whom was Mohammad Tali (considered a high-value target), dragging Brennan down the hillside and towards the forest. Giunta attacked the insurgents with his M4 carbine, killing Tali, and ran to Brennan to provide cover and comfort until relief arrived.

I ran through fire to see what was going on with him and maybe we could hide behind the same rock and shoot together ... He was still conscious. He was breathing. He was asking for morphine. I said, "You'll get out and tell your hero stories," and he was like, "I will, I will."

Brennan did not survive surgery. According to his father, Michael Brennan, "not only did [Giunta] save [my son] Josh ... He really saved half of the platoon."

On September 10, 2010, the White House announced that Giunta would receive the United States' highest military decoration, the first awarded to a living recipient since the Vietnam War. He is the fourth recipient from the War in Afghanistan, after Navy Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, Army Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti, and Army Staff Sergeant Robert James Miller. Miller's medal was announced only a day before news of Giunta's award broke.

White House action account
Then-Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta distinguished himself by acts of gallantry at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a rifle team leader with Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment during combat operations against an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan on October 25, 2007. When an insurgent force ambush split Specialist Giunta's squad into two groups, he exposed himself to enemy fire to pull a comrade back to cover. Later, while engaging the enemy and attempting to link up with the rest of his squad, Specialist Giunta noticed two insurgents carrying away a fellow soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other, and provided medical aid to his wounded comrade while the rest of his squad caught up and provided security. His courage and leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon's ability to defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American paratrooper from enemy hands.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Island of Peleliu
Col. Lewis 'Chesty' Puller, left, Commanding Officer of my 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

Victory in the Marianas in the summer of 1944 (Tinian, Saipan, and Guam) brought American forces within striking distance of the Philippine Islands and the Japanese home islands. In order to eliminate a possible threat on the right flank of General Douglas MacArthur's intended attack on the Philippines, the Japanese-held Palau Islands were targeted next.

Planning the Invasion of Peleliu
The Palaus are located southeast of the Philippines and 900 miles southwest of Guam, at the western end of the Carolines. The Palaus are an eighty-mile-long island chain, two of which were selected as targets for their potential airfields and relatively weak defenses: Peleliu and Angaur, six miles apart in the southern area of the chain. Both of the low rise volcanic islands were characterized by rough ground with cliffs, sinkholes, coral outcroppings, caves, and thick vegetation. Peleliu was 5Ѕ miles long and 2Ѕ wide with an airfield in the south and a swamp in the east. Three mile long Angaur was similar but much smaller.

The Japanese garrison in the Palaus had 49,000 men under Lt. Gen. Sadao Inoue, with 10,500 troops on Peleliu and 1,400 more on Angaur. The U.S. Army 81st Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Division were selected by Major General Roy S. Geiger's III Amphibious Corps to take the islands.

Peleliu D-Day: 15 September 1944
The battle for Peleliu was the longest and one of the toughest battles of the Pacific amphibious operations during World War II. Peleliu's defenders drew from lessons of other island campaigns where the Japanese tried and failed to stop the invaders on the beach. At Peleliu, Gen. Inoue's main defensive line was well inland, with indirect fire pre-registered on the beaches, followed by in-depth barriers, caves and pillboxes with fields of fire arranged to thwart and destory any attacker.

To prepare the way for the invasion, the U.S. Navy put down three days of heavy bombardment by surface vessels and aircraft. On the morning of 15 September 1944, the 1st Marine Division (1st, 5th and 7th Marines) under Maj. Gen. William H. Rupertus came ashore in Amtracs across Peleliu's southwest beaches in five zones designated White 1 & 2 and Orange 1 through 3. After a fierce daylong battle, by nightfall the Marines held about two miles of beaches, extending a mile inland. Over the next five days, the Marines advanced steadily, including capturing the airfield on the 16th, but the Japanese put up a vigorous defense causing casualty rates of up to fifty percent in some units. By 26 September the southern part of the island was secure, but the exhausted Marines were stalemated by Japanese defenders in their interconnected caves along the island's Umurbrogol backbone ridge.

The Capture of Angaur Island
The 81st Infantry Division went ashore on Angaur Island, 6 miles south of Peleliu, on 17 September. Beach conditions and opposition were much better than at nearby Peliliu. By 20 September, the 81st had defeated or isolated all of Angaur's 1,400 defenders. The 8lst's commander declared Angaur secure.

Marines Reinforced by the Army on Peleliu
Gen. Rupertus preferred Peleliu to be an all-Marine operation, but as casualties grew, on 22 September 1944 the 321st Infantry was transferred to Peleliu. After an artillery barrage and naval gunfire on the hills, the 321st moved inland on 21 September, while a Marine regiment leapfrogged to clear the northern tip of the island. The Army troops found a trail into the hills that they used to split the Japanese into two pockets, one to the south around Umurbrogol ridge, the other to the north. The Umurbrogol pocket proved difficult to overcome because of rough terrain, while, to the surprise of the Americans, General Inoue managed to land 500 fresh troops to reinforce the northern pocket.

On 27 September the 321st Infantry moved north with tanks and flamethrowers to assist and then relieve the Marines. After six days of cleaning out one cave and gulley after another, the 321st eliminated the Japanese on the last high ground, and on 30 September Gen. Geiger declared both Peleliu and Angaur captured.

Peleliu Captured But the Battle Goes On
The Marines and the Army controlled Peleliu, but the Japanese were far from finished. Japanese troops still held the Umurbrogol Pocket, the complex cave and ridge fortress that was ideal for a fanatic and suicidal defense. Marine infantry, armor, and artillery units hammered the pocket until 15 October, when they were relieved by Army units from the 81st Division. These troops fought a grueling and savage yard-by-yard battle through the jagged hills, the southern slopes of which earned the name "Bloody Nose".

To dislodge the Japanese from their interlocking cave defenses, new offensive seige techniques were introduced including air-dropped napalm, flamethrowers mounted on tanks and Amtracs, and fuel oil pumped into the caves followed by phosphorus grenades to ignite the oil. Sandbags were used to build small fortifications ("sandbag foxholes") that were inched forward to frustrate snipers until their position could be overwhelmed. A gasoline pipeline was run from a tanker truck to booster pumps, to throw napalm hundreds of feet ahead into Japanese defensive areas. Small pack howitzers were used to fire point blank into Japanese caves and pillboxes.

While the Army ground down the Peleliu defenses, the U.S. navy kept up patrols to prevent Japanese reinforcements from reaching the island from garrisons in the northern Pelaus. A typhoon in the first week of November delayed the drive, but afterward the Army captured the last Japanese source of fresh water on the island. On 27 November, the pocket was cleared and Peleliu declared secure after 74 days.

The struggle for Peleliu and Angaur had put the Marine and Army units into some of the most difficult fighting of the entire war for a small territory of questionable value. Two and one-half months of fighting on Peleliu and Angaur cost 1,252 Marines killed and 5,274 wounded, while Army lost 542 killed and 2,736 wounded. Eight Marines were awarded the Medal of Honor for actions on Peleliu. Almost all the Japanese defenders died, with only 302 captured.

Was Peleliu Necessary?
There is a long standing question of whether the losses necessary for the capture of Peleliu were essential. In fact, Admiral William F. Halsey recommended through Admiral Nimitz to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 13 September 1944, two days before D-Day, that the landing be cancelled. But by that time, it was too late and the invasion went as planned. The Peleliu airfield was useful, not only in support of operations on Peleliu, but as the base for the air defense of the important fleet anchorage established at nearby Ulithi. It will never be settled if Peleliu was worth the cost.

Footnote to Peleliu
On 21 April 1947, a small band of Japanese holdouts was discovered on Peleliu. They formally surrendered only after considerable effort to convince them the war was over. Lieutenant Yamaguchi, who had maintained military discipline in the group for the intervening years, led 26 soldiers to a position in front of 80 battle-dressed Marines where he turned over his sword.