Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ira Hayes
U.S. Marine Corps
Ira Hamilton Hayes (January 12, 1923 – January 24, 1955) was a Pima Native American and a American Marine who was one of the six men immortalized in the iconic photograph of the flag raising on Iwo Jima during World War II. Hayes was an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community in Sacaton, Arizona, and enlisted in the Marine Forces Reserve on August 24, 1942. He trained as a Paramarine and saw action in the Pacific Theatre of World War II. On February 19, 1945, Hayes participated in the landing at Iwo Jima and fought in the subsequent battle for the island. On February 23, Hayes, together with fellow Marines Rene Gagnon, Harlon Block, Franklin Sousley, and Mike Strank, and Navy Corpsman John Bradley, raised the American flag over Mount Suribachi, an event photographed by Joe Rosenthal.

As a result of Rosenthal's photograph Hayes and the others became national heroes in the United States. He was instrumental in confirming the identity of one of his fellow Marines in the photograph, Harlon Block. Hayes was never comfortable with his new-found fame, however, and after his honorable discharge from the Marine Corps he descended into alcoholism. He died of exposure and alcohol poisoning on January 24, 1955 after a night of drinking, and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

Hayes was often commemorated in art and film, both before and after his death. He is depicted in the Marine Corps War Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, based on the famous photograph, and he portrayed himself in the 1949 film Sands of Iwo Jima. His tragic story was the subject of the 1961 film The Outsider, and inspired Peter La Farge' song "The Ballad of Ira Hayes". He was also depicted in the 2006 film Flags of Our Fathers.

Early life
Hayes was born in Sacaton, Arizona, a town located in the Gila River Indian Community in Pinal County, the first of six children to Nancy Hamilton (1901-1972) and Joseph Hayes (1887-1978). The Hayes children were: Ira (1923-1955), Harold (1924-1925), Arlene (1926-1929), Leonard (1927-1952), Vernon (1929-1958), and Kenneth (born 1931).

Joseph Hayes was a World War I veteran who supported his family by subsistence farming and cotton harvesting. Nancy Hayes was a devout Presbyterian and a Sunday school teacher at the Assemblies of God church in Sacaton.

As a child, Hayes was remembered as being shy and sensitive by his family and friends. Sara Bernal, his first cousin, stated, "[Joseph Hayes] was a very quiet man, he would go days without saying anything unless you spoke to him first. The other Hayes children would play and tease me, but not Ira. He was quiet, and somewhat distant. Ira didn't speak unless spoken to. He was just like his father." His boyhood friend Dana Norris stated, "Even though I'm from the same culture, I could never get under his skin. Ira had the characteristic of not wanting to talk. But we Pimas are not prone to tooting our own horns. Ira was a quiet guy, such a quiet guy." Despite this, Hayes was a precocious child who displayed an impressive grasp of the English language, a language many Pimas did not know how to speak. He was also a voracious reader, learning how to read and write by age four.

In 1932, the family settled in Bapchule, Arizona, located approximately 12 miles southeast of Sacaton. The Hayes children attended grade school in Sacaton and high school at the Phoenix Indian School in Phoenix, Arizona. Esther Monahan, one of his classmates, stated, "Ira wasn't like the other guys. He was shy and never talked to us girls. He was so much more shy than the other Pima boys. The girls would chase him and try to hug him and kiss him, like we did with all the boys. We'd catch the other boys, who enjoyed it. But not Ira. Ira would just run away." After the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, Ira confided to his classmate Eleanor Pasquale that he was determined on serving in the United States Marine Corps. Pasquale stated, "Every morning in school, [the students] would get a report on World War II. We would sing the anthems of the Army, Marines, and the Navy." In June 1942, Hayes graduated at the Phoenix Indian School and returned to the reservation.

On August 24, 1942, Hayes enlisted in the Marine Forces Reserve at age nineteen.

After he completed recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, Hayes trained as a paratrooper at Marine Corps Base San Diego and had a codename of Chief Falling Cloud. On December 2, 1942, he joined Company B, 3rd Parachute Battalion, Divisional Special Troops, U.S. 3rd Marine Division, at Camp Elliott, California. On March 14, 1943, Hayes sailed for New Caledonia with the 3rd Parachute Battalion. Hayes first saw combat in the Bougainville Campaign.

The Marine Corps parachute units were disbanded in February, and Hayes was transferred to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, U.S. 5th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California. In September 1944, Hayes sailed to Hawaii for further training.

Battle of Iwo Jima
On February 19, 1945, Hayes took part in the landing on Iwo Jima. He participated in the battle for the island and was among the group of Marines that took Mount Suribachi five days later on February 23, 1945.

The raising of the second American flag on Suribachi by five Marines: Ira Hayes, Rene Gagnon, Harlon Block, Franklin Sousley, and Mike Strank, and a Navy Corpsman, John Bradley, was immortalized by photographer Joe Rosenthal and became an icon of the war. Overnight, Hayes became a national hero, along with the two other survivors in the famous photograph, Rene Gagnon and John Bradley.

When Iwo Jima was secured by U.S. forces, Hayes was ordered to Washington, D.C. Together with the Navy Pharmacist's Mate John Bradley and Marine Private First Class Rene Gagnon, he was assigned to temporary duty with the Finance Division, U.S. Treasury Department, for appearances in connection with the Seventh War Bond Drive.

Rank and medals
Hayes was promoted to the rank of Corporal by the time he received an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps. His decorations and medals include the following:
* American Campaign Medal
* Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four stars (for Vella Lavella, Bougainville, Consolidation of the Northern Solomons, and Iwo Jima)
* Navy Commendation Medal with "V" combat device
* Presidential Unit Citation with one star
* World War II Victory Medal

Post World War II
After the war, Hayes attempted to lead a normal civilian life. "I kept getting hundreds of letters. And people would drive through the reservation, walk up to me and ask, 'Are you the Indian who raised the flag on Iwo Jima?'" Although he rarely spoke about the flag raising, he spoke about his service in the Marine Corps with great pride.

After returning home from the war, Hayes remained troubled that one of his friends, Harlon Block, one of the flag raisers who was killed in action days after, was mistaken for another man, Hank Hansen. Hayes later hitchhiked 1,300 miles from the Gila River Indian Community to Edward Frederick Block, Sr.'s farm in Weslaco, Texas in order to reveal the truth to Block's family. He was instrumental in having the controversy resolved, to the delight and gratitude of the Block family.

Ira Hayes appeared in the 1949 John Wayne film, Sands of Iwo Jima, along with fellow flag raisers John Bradley and Rene Gagnon. All three men played themselves in the film. Wayne hands the flag to be raised to the three men. (The actual flag that was raised on Mount Suribachi is used in the film.)

After the war, Hayes accumulated a record of 52 arrests for public drunkenness. Referring to his alcoholism, he once said: "I was sick. I guess I was about to crack up thinking about all my good buddies. They were better men than me and they're not coming back. Much less back to the White House, like me."

In 1954, after a ceremony where he was lauded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a hero, a reporter approached Hayes and asked him, "How do you like the pomp and circumstance?" Hayes hung his head and said, "I don't." Hayes' disquiet about his unwanted fame and his subsequent post-war problems were first recounted in detail by the author William Bradford Huie in The Outsider, published in 1959 as part of his collection Wolf Whistle and Other Stories. The Outsider was filmed in 1961, directed by former World War II veteran turned film director Delbert Mann and starring Tony Curtis.

The 2006 film Flags of Our Fathers, directed by Clint Eastwood, suggests that Hayes suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder.

On the morning of January 24, 1955, Hayes was found dead, lying in his own blood and vomit, near an abandoned adobe hut in Sacaton, Arizona. He had been drinking and playing cards at a bar on the reservation with his friends and brothers Vernon and Kenneth. An altercation ensued between Hayes and a Pima named Henry Setoyant, and all left except Hayes and Setoyant.

The Pinal County coroner concluded that Hayes' death was caused by exposure and alcohol poisoning. However, his brother Kenneth still believes that the death resulted from the altercation with Setoyant. The Gila River Police Department did not conduct an investigation into Hayes' death and Setoyant denied any allegations of fighting with Hayes.

In the 1961 film of his life, (starring Tony Curtis) The Outsider, his death is dramatized for the screen. He is shown freezing to death on an Arizona mountain top, after a night of drinking.

Hayes is buried in Section 34, Grave 479A at Arlington National Cemetery. At the funeral, fellow flag-raiser Rene Gagnon said of him: "Let's say he had a little dream in his heart that someday the Indian would be like the white man — be able to walk all over the United States."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords
Before reading Congresswoman Giffords' story, I will suggest the following: I recommend that this highly intelligent Arizona native, Gabrielle Giffords, direct her Chief of Staff in the House of Representatives, to place her name in the political arena for US Senator of Arizona. Sen Jon Kyl, R-AZ, recently reported that he would retire at the end of his term in 2012. Representative Giffords will be recovered and well enough to campaign around the state of Arizona a year before the General Election in November 6, 2012. She would win by a landslide.

Gabrielle Dee "Gabby" Giffords (born June 8, 1970) is an American politician. A Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, she has represented Arizona's 8th congressional district since 2007. She is the third woman in Arizona's history to be elected to the U. S. Congress.

Giffords is a native of Tucson, Arizona and a graduate of Scripps College and Cornell University. Prior to her Congressional election, Giffords served in the Arizona House of Representatives from 2001 until 2003, and the Arizona State Senate from 2003 until 2005, when she resigned to run for the seat held by then-Congressman Jim Kolbe. She also worked as an associate for regional economic development in New York City, and as CEO of El Campo Tire Warehouses, a local automotive chain owned by her grandfather. She has been married since 2007 to astronaut and Space Shuttle commander Mark E. Kelly.

Giffords is currently serving her third term in the United States House of Representatives, having been re-elected in the 2010 midterm elections. Considered a "Blue Dog" Democrat, her stances on health care reform and illegal immigration were sources of attention for those opposed to her candidacy, and has made her a recipient of criticism from various conservative groups. She has described herself as a "former Republican."

On January 8, 2011, Giffords was a victim of a shooting near Tucson which is alleged to have been an assassination attempt on her, at a Safeway supermarket where she was meeting publicly with constituents. Giffords was critically injured by a gunshot wound to the head; six people were killed, and another thirteen people were injured in the shooting. She has since been relocated to a rehabilitation facility in Houston.

Personal life
Giffords was born in Tucson, Arizona, to Gloria Kay (nйe Fraser) and Spencer J. Giffords. She was raised in a mixed religious environment by her Jewish father and Christian Science-practicing mother. She has identified herself solely with Judaism since 2001, belonging to Congregation Chaverim, a Reform synagogue, in Tucson. She is Arizona's first Jewish Congresswoman.

Giffords graduated from Tucson's University High School. She received a B.A. in Sociology and Latin American history from Scripps College in California in 1993, and a Master of Regional Planning from Cornell University, in 1996. She focused her studies on Mexico - United States relations while at Cornell. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Chihuahua, Mexico, in 1996 and a fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

Giffords married U.S. Navy Captain and astronaut Mark E. Kelly on November 10, 2007. He was the Space Shuttle's pilot on STS-108 and STS-121, and commander of STS-124.

Giffords is a former member of the Arizona regional board of the Anti-Defamation League. After Hurricane Katrina struck in the late summer of 2005, Giffords spent time as a volunteer in Houston, Texas, in relief efforts for Hurricane victims. She wrote about her experience in the Tucson Citizen.

Giffords is an avid reader and was featured on NPR's Weekend Edition on July 9, 2006, talking about her love of books. She was periodically interviewed in 2007 together with Illinois Republican Peter Roskam on NPR's All Things Considered. The series focused on their experiences as freshman members of the 110th Congress.

Her father is a first cousin of director Bruce Paltrow, whose daughter is actress Gwyneth Paltrow.

Business career
Giffords worked as an associate for regional economic development at Price Waterhouse in New York City. In 1996, she became president and CEO of El Campo Tire Warehouses, a local automotive chain founded by her grandfather. The business was sold to Goodyear Tire in 2000. At the time of the sale she commented on the difficulties local businesses face when competing against large national firms.

Political career
Arizona state representative and senator
Giffords was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives and served from 2001 to 2003. She was elected to the Arizona Senate in the fall of 2002, and at the time was the youngest woman elected to that body. She took office in January 2003 and was re-elected in 2004. She resigned from the Arizona Senate on December 1, 2005, in preparation for her congressional campaign.

In early 2005, Giffords observed that "the 2004 election took its toll on our bipartisan coalition" and that as a result "a number of significant problems will receive far less attention than they deserve". She highlighted among these, the lack of high-paying jobs or necessary infrastructure, rapid growth and inward migration that threatened the environment and "strain[ed]... education, health care and transportation", and unresolved problems such as Students First, Arnold v. Sarn, repayments due under Ladewig v. Arizona, the No Child Left Behind mandate, low educational achievement, health care costs, and the demands of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. She noted that Arizona was not alone in facing such challenges.

Expanding health care access was an issue of interest for Giffords when she served in the legislature. She also pushed for bills related to mental health and was named by the Mental Health Association of Arizona as the 2004 Legislator of the Year. Giffords also earned the Sierra Club's Most Valuable Player award.

In the legislature, Giffords worked on the bipartisan Children's Caucus, which sought to improve education and health care for Arizona's children. Critics of this plan argued that it amounted to taxpayer funded daycare. She worked with Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to promote all-day kindergarten. Giffords supported raising more money for schools "through sponsorship of supplemental state aid through bonds and tax credits that could be used for school supplies." She was awarded Arizona Family Literacy's Outstanding Legislator for 2003.

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
Following the November 2006 election, Giffords was sworn in as a congresswoman on January 3, 2007. She was the third woman in Arizona's history to be elected to serve in the U.S. Congress. In her inaugural speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, Giffords advocated a comprehensive immigration reform package, including modern technology to secure the border, more border patrol agents, tough employer sanctions for businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants, and a guest-worker program. In her first month in office, Giffords voted in favor of increased federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, raising the minimum wage, endorsing the 9/11 Commission recommendations, new rules for the House of Representatives targeting ethical issues, and the repeal of $14 billion of subsidies to big oil companies, in favor of renewable energy subsidies and the founding of the Strategic Renewable Energy Reserve.

During the 2007 session of Congress, Giffords introduced a bill (H.R. 1441) that forbids the sale of F-14 aircraft parts on the open market. Giffords advocated for a national day of recognition for cowboys as one of her first actions. She voted for the contentious May 2007 Iraq Emergency Supplemental Spending bill, saying, "I cannot, in good conscience, allow the military to run out of money while American servicemen and women are being attacked every day".

Giffords is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition and the New Democrat Coalition. She is a co-founder of the Congressional Motorcycle Safety Caucus. She is the only member of the U.S. Congress whose spouse is an active duty member of the U.S. military. She is also known as a strong proponent of solar energy as well as for her work to secure the U.S.–Mexico border.

Giffords launched her first candidacy for the U.S. Congress on January 24, 2006. The campaign received national attention early on as a likely pick-up for the Democratic Party. Prominent Democrats endorsed Giffords including Tom Daschle, Robert Reich, Janet Napolitano, and Bill Clinton. EMILY's List endorsed Giffords early in the campaign cycle. The Sierra Club and the Arizona Education Association also endorsed her. On September 12, 2006, Giffords won her party's nomination in the primary election.

Her Republican opponent in the general election was Randy Graf, a conservative former state senator known for his enforcement-only position on immigration and illegal aliens. Graf had run against Jim Kolbe in the 2004 GOP primary and had announced his candidacy in 2006 before Kolbe announced his retirement. The Republican establishment was somewhat cool toward Graf, believing he might be too conservative for the district, and the national GOP took the unusual step of endorsing one of the more moderate candidates in the primary. Graf won anyway, helped by a split in the Republican moderate vote between two candidates.

Not long after the primary, Congressional Quarterly changed its rating of the race to "Leans Democrat." By late September, the national GOP had pulled most of its funding, effectively conceding the seat to Giffords. Giffords won the race on November 7, 2006, with 54 percent of the vote. Graf received 42 percent. The rest of the vote went to minor candidates. Giffords' victory was portrayed as evidence that Americans are accepting towards comprehensive immigration reform.

United States House of Representatives elections in Arizona 2008#District 8
In 2008, Giffords was elected to a second term. Republican Tim Bee, a childhood classmate and former colleague in the Arizona State Senate, ran against her. Bee was then the Arizona State Senate President and was considered a strong challenger in this race. Despite the presence of McCain atop the ticket as the Republican presidential candidate, Giffords was reelected with 56.20 percent of the vote to Bee's 41.45 percent.

On November 5, 2010, Giffords was declared the victor after a close race against Republican Jesse Kelly. Kelly, an Iraq War veteran (and not related to her husband), was listed as a top ten Tea Party candidate to watch by Politico, and described by as highly conservative even compared to Sarah Palin. Giffords had been targeted for defeat by Sarah Palin's political action committee, SarahPAC.

Giffords participated in the reading of the United States Constitution on the floor of the House of Representatives on January 6, 2011; she read the First Amendment.

Attempted assassination
On January 8, 2011, Giffords was shot in the head outside a Safeway grocery store in Casas Adobes, Arizona, a suburban area northwest of Tucson, during her first "Congress on Your Corner" gathering of the year. Twenty people were shot, of whom six died, when a man ran up to the crowd and began firing. The suspect, identified as Jared Lee Loughner, was detained by bystanders until he was taken into police custody. Federal officials charged Loughner on the next day with killing federal government employees, attempting to assassinate a member of Congress and attempting to kill federal employees.

Giffords was immediately evacuated to the University Medical Center of Tucson in critical condition, though she was still conscious and "following commands" at the time. Doctors performed emergency surgery to extract skull fragments and a small amount of necrotic tissue from her brain. The bullet had passed through Giffords' head without crossing the midline of the brain, where the most critical injuries result. Part of her skull was removed to avoid further damage to the brain from pressure caused by swelling. Civilian doctors who first treated Giffords said the bullet had entered the back of her head and exited through the front of her skull, but experienced military physicians later concluded that it had traveled in the opposite direction. Upon receiving a call from a staffer about Giffords' injury, husband Mark E. Kelly and his daughters flew in a friend's aircraft directly from Houston to Tucson.

Giffords initially was placed in a medically-induced coma to allow her brain to rest. She was able to respond to simple commands when periodically awoken, but was unable to speak as she was on a ventilator. Nancy Pelosi said Giffords' husband Mark Kelly acknowledged that there is a "rough road ahead" for his wife's recovery, but was encouraged by her responsiveness, which included the ability to signal with her hand and move both arms. U.S. Army neurologist Geoffrey Ling of the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland, was sent to Tucson to consult on Giffords' condition. Ling stated, "Her prognosis for maintaining the function that she has is very good. It's over 50 percent." On January 11, neurosurgeon G. Michael Lemole Jr. said that Giffords' sedation had been reduced and that she could breathe on her own. On January 12, President Barack Obama visited Giffords at the medical center and publicly stated in an evening memorial ceremony that she had "opened her eyes for the first time" that day.

As Giffords' status improved, she began simple physical therapy, including sitting up with the assistance of hospital staff and moving her legs upon command. On January 15, surgeons performed a tracheotomy, replacing the ventilator tube with a smaller one inserted through Giffords' throat to assist independent breathing. Doctors plan to evaluate her ability to speak after the breathing tube is removed. Ophthalmologist Lynn Polonski surgically repaired Giffords' eye socket, with additional reconstructive surgery to follow. Giffords' condition was upgraded to "serious" on January 17, and to "good" on January 25. She was transferred on January 21 to the Memorial Hermann Medical Center in Houston, Texas, where she subsequently moved to the center's Institute for Rehabilitation and Research to undergo a program of physical therapy and rehabilitation. Upon her arrival in Houston, her doctors were optimistic, saying she has "great rehabilitation potential". On February 9, spokesperson C.J. Karamargin stated that Giffords has been regaining her ability to speak. Giffords' husband said that he expects her to travel to Cape Canaveral, Florida, to witness the launch of his final Space Shuttle mission scheduled for April 2011.

Medical experts expect Giffords' recovery to take from several months to more than one year. Some questions were raised by the media as to whether Giffords could be removed from office under a state law that allows a public office to be declared vacant if the officeholder is absent for three months, but a spokesperson for the Arizona Secretary of State said the statute "doesn't apply to federal offices" and is therefore not relevant.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The fighting Marine
There have been a lot of boxers who have fought for the Marine Corps. Some have been champs, like Leon Spinks, but none have been celebrities like Gene Tunney. Tunney earned his "The Fighting Marine" nickname during the First World War by becoming the Light Heavyweight Champion of the American Expeditionary Force in France. In September 1926, Tunney out boxed Jack Dempsey to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Tunney frequently spoke about the time he spent in the Marine Corps, and that he was proud to be a Marine. A prize possession was a blue athletic robe with a red Marine Corps emblem presented to him on behalf of the Marine Corps League by John Lejeune, the Major General Commandant. Tunney was told: "this gift represents the sentiment of all those who served with you overseas, and of the 18,000 men now in the service. Remember the Marines are behind you to a man." Tunney wore this robe for his most important fights.

James Joseph "Gene" Tunney (May 25, 1897 – November 7, 1978) was the heavyweight boxing champion from 1926-28 who defeated Jack Dempsey twice, first in 1926 and then in 1927. Tunney's successful title defense against Dempsey is one of the most famous bouts in boxing history and is known as The Long Count Fight. Tunney retired as a heavyweight after his victory over Tom Heeney in 1928. He is known for his unique style, which was not sheer brutality like that employed by fellow boxers, but rather a calculated wearing down of the opponent to bring about a sure defeat. Tunney was not like other boxers in that he was very smart, he was even known to quote Shakespeare regularly and forbade cursing in his presence. He was not rough and brutish like the boxers were thought to be at the time. Instead he was handsome and gentlemanly. In his years in the ring he suffered only one loss decided by unanimous decision (he would go on to beat the man who defeated him in four subsequent rematches).

Regarded by many as a brutal sport, boxing has often provided the way out of poverty for many of its most famous exponents. Known for his intellect, Tunney was a Marine private in World War I and a Navy Captain in World War II. He became a successful businessman after his retirement from boxing, suggesting that had other career paths been open to him he may have made a more significant contribution to society than one that in the main involved trying to physically wear down, and even knock down, his opponents. Like others from a similar background, however, one embarked on boxing as a career, he discipled and trained himself so that he could excel at what he did, setting an example for others to emulate. In a more ideal world, everyone would have an opportunity to complete their education and to find meaningful and worthwhile employment. Young men would not need to box their way out of poverty and up the ladder to economic security.

Early life
Tunney was the second of seven children born from his Irish immigrants’ parents in Greenwich Village. His family was working class and Tunney held a number of odd jobs in his youth to help with financial burdens. When he reached the age of ten, his father presented him with his first pair of boxing gloves and he took part in the sport when he had free time. Although he would develop what was described as a scientific boxing style, he initially learned to fight in the streets. In his teens, he started to frequent the Greenwich Village Athletic Club at nights. His day time job was typing for a steamship company. He was first paid to box at 18. He won $18 for the defeat of his more seasoned opponent, knocking him out. In World War I Tunney served in the U.S. Marines. He joined in July 1918 and was stationed in France. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal for won the Expeditionary Force light heavyweight championship while stationed in France. He started his professional career following his honorable discharge.

In 1922, he defeated Battling Levinsky and won the American Light Heavy Weight title. The only defeat of his career was against challenger Harry Greb later that year. The fight went to fifteen rounds. Greb broke his nose but "could not knock him out". Greb won but a year later beat him in the rematch, another fifteen round, hart-hitting marathon, winning a majority decision. He then set his sights on the heavyweight championship, held by the most famous boxer of the time, Dempsey, who he had long wanted to challenge. The first of two matches with Dempsey took place in 1926. Rematches with Greb in 1923, 1924 and 1925 were all won by Tunney

Due to his agent's "promotional genius," his 1926 fight against Dempsey in Philadelphia attracted a crowd of 120,757 people and a box office taking of two million dollars. This victory gave him the heavyweight title. The re-match, in Chicago in 1927, took $2.6 million and set a record. Tunney was knocked down during round seven. The "long count" occurred because under Illinois rules, Dempsey had to stand in a neutral corner during the count and instead went and stood in Tunney's corner. By the time the referee had "got Dempsey to the neutral corner, Tunney had been down for at least four seconds." However, he got to his feet before the count of ten and went on to win the fight. Both matches were won by decision of the judges. In addition to beating Dempsey, Tunney defeated Tommy Loughran, Tommy Gibbons, Georges Carpentier, and many other boxers. He was, however, banned from fighting in the State of New York because he refused to defend his title against an African-American challenger, Harry Wills.

Tunney also had a brief acting career, starring in the movie The Fighting Marine in 1926. Unfortunately, no prints of this film are known to exist. Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennett, this black and white silent movie was distributed by Pathй Exchange. Although this role was not followed by others, Tunney was an early example of someone whose celebrity status in sport or in a field outside of the theater led to exposure on the big screen. It has subsequently become more common for sporting heroes and stars to also star in front of the camera. That year, he made the front cover of Time Magazine.

In 1928, after defeating Australian Tom Heaney with an eleventh round knock out, he retired from his boxing career. His finished his career with a total of 88 fights, 82 wins, 48 knock-outs, one defeat and three draws and two no contests. He was known to study his opponents and defeat them by wearing them down, rather than inflicting simple, hard, brutal blows, as was the norm. Unlike many other boxer, Tunney was also highly intelligent and even went on to speak on Shakespeare at Yale University. He knew both Ernest Hemingway and George Bernard Shaw who took an interest in his career. Such men, interested in sport, were attracted by his "relative intellectualism, reticence in public, and scientific boxing style" which at the same time distanced him from fight fans and the press. When interviewed by the press, he "exuded confidence." Seen reading a book during a training session, this was too much for the press, which ridiculed him. Later, other famous boxers, not least of all Muhammad Ali became famous for their fighting-talk and self-promotion before entering the ring. He studied Dempsey's boxing style in detail, watching numerous films of his fights. He also interviewed former opponents of Dempsey to learn as much as he could from their experience. He was elected as Ring Magazine's first-ever Fighter of the Year in 1928 and later elected to the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1980, the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990, and the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.

Personal life
Tunney was of Irish descent.

After retiring from boxing, Tunney married heiress to a steel manufacturing fortune, Polly Lauder. He also served in the United States Navy during World War II from 1940 to 1945. This time a commissioned officer (he was a private in the First World War) he was appointed "head of the Naval Physical Fitness Program." "In this capacity, he traveled throughout the Pacific Theater during the war" and when he "resigned from the Navy" in 1945 he had the rank of Captain. Following the war, he spent the rest of his life as a wealthy businessman. He was fortunate to retire from boxing with good health and the ability to pursue a career outside the ring.

After his death in 1978, at 81 years old, Tunney was interred in the Long Ridge Union Cemetery in Stamford, Connecticut.

Gene Tunney was the father of John V. Tunney, who was a Senator and Representative from California from 1965 until 1977.


Fighting Style
Tunney was a thinking fighter who preferred to make a boxing match into a game of chess; a style which was not popular during the times when such sluggers like Jack Dempsey, Harry Greb and Mickey Walker were commanding boxing's center stage. Tunney's style was influenced by other noted boxing thinkers such as James J Corbett and Benny Leonard.

Always moving and boxing behind a good solid left jab, Tunney would start reading and dissecting his opponent from the first bell, preferring to stay on the outside, nullifying any attack his opponent had. Tunney would use quick counters to keep his opponents off balance. Not known as a big puncher, Tunney could hit with venom when needed. Especially, once he had figured his opponent was exhausted or hurt. With his meticulous preparation and book-reading reputation, Tunney's style was often described as "scientific."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ted Williams
Boston Red Sox baseball legend and a United States Marine

World War II
Williams served as a Marine pilot during World War II and the Korean War. He had been classified 3-A by Selective Service prior to the war, a dependency deferment because he was his mother's sole support. When his classification was changed to 1-A following U.S. entry into the war, Williams appealed to his draft board. The board agreed that his status should not have been changed. He made a public statement that once he had built up his mother's trust fund, he intended to enlist. Even so, criticism in the media, including withdrawal of an endorsement contract by Quaker Oats, resulted in his enlistment in the Navy on May 22, 1942.

Williams could have received an easy assignment and played baseball for the Navy. Instead, he joined the V-5 program to become a Naval aviator. Williams was first sent to the Navy's Preliminary Ground School at Amherst College for six months of academic instruction in various subjects including math and navigation, where he achieved a 3.85 grade point average.

Fellow Red Sox player Johnny Pesky, who went into the same training program, said about Ted "He mastered intricate problems in fifteen minutes which took the average cadet an hour, and half of the other cadets there were college grads."

Pesky again described Williams' acumen in the advance training for which Pesky personally did not qualify: I heard Ted literally tore the `sleeve target' to shreds with his angle dives. He'd shoot from wingovers, zooms, and barrel rolls, and after a few passes the sleeve was ribbons. At any rate, I know he broke the all-time record for hits." Ted went to Jacksonville for a course in air gunnery, the combat pilot's payoff test, and broke all the records in reflexes, coordination, and visual-reaction time. "From what I heard, Ted could make a plane and its six 'pianos' (machine guns) play like a symphony orchestra," Pesky says. "From what they said, his reflexes, coordination, and visual reaction made him a built-in part of the machine."

Williams received preflight training at Athens, Georgia; primary training at NAS Bunker Hill, Indiana; and advanced flight training at NAS Pensacola. He received his wings and commission in the U.S. Marine Corps on May 2, 1944.

He served as a flight instructor at Naval Air Station Pensacola teaching young pilots to fly the F4U Corsair. He was in Pearl Harbor awaiting orders to join the China fleet when the war ended. He finished the war in Hawaii and was released from active duty in January 1946; however he did remain in the reserves.

Korean War
On May 1, 1952, at the age of 34, he was recalled to active duty for service in the Korean War. He hadn't flown for some eight years but turned away all offers to sit out the war in comfort as a member of a service baseball team. Nevertheless Williams was resentful of being called up, which he admitted years later, particularly of the Navy's policy to call up Inactive Reservists rather than members of the Active Reserve.

After eight weeks of refresher flight training and qualification in the F9F Panther jet at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, he was assigned to VMF-311, Marine Aircraft Group 33 (MAG-33), based at K-3 airfield in Pohang, Korea.

On February 16, 1953, Williams was part of a 35-plane strike package against a tank and infantry training school just south of Pyongyang, North Korea. During the mission a piece of flak knocked out his hydraulics and electrical systems, causing Williams to have to "limp" his plane back to K-13, an Air Force base close to the front lines. Williams walked away from the wheels-up landing. For his actions of this day he was awarded the Air Medal.

Williams stayed on K-13 for several days while his plane was repaired. Because he was so popular, GI's from all around the base came to see him and his plane. After it was repaired, Williams flew his plane back to his Marine station.
Williams eventually flew 39 combat missions before being pulled from flight status in June 1953 after a hospitalization for pneumonia resulted in discovery of an inner ear infection that disqualified him from flight status. During the war he also served in the same unit as John Glenn and in the last half of his missions, he was serving as Glenn's wingman. While these absences, which took almost five years out of the heart of a great career, significantly limited his career totals, he never publicly complained about the time devoted to military service. Biographer Leigh Montville argues that Williams was not happy about being pressed into service in Korea, but he did what he felt was his patriotic duty.
Williams had a strong respect for General Douglas MacArthur, referring to him as his "idol". For Williams' fortieth birthday, MacArthur sent him an oil painting of himself with the inscription "To Ted Williams - not only America's greatest baseball player, but a great American who served his country. Your friend, Douglas MacArthur. General U.S. Army."

Summary of career
Williams's two MVP Awards and two Triple Crowns came in four different years. Williams, Lou Gehrig, and Chuck Klein are the only players since the establishment of the MVP award to win the Triple Crown and not be named league MVP in that season.
Ted Williams won the Triple Crown in 1942, and again in 1947 after missing three years to WWII. In 1949, Williams led the league in home runs (with 43) and RBI (with 159, tied with Red Sox shortstop Vern Stephens), but lost the batting race to Detroit third-baseman George Kell. Kell had 179 hits in 522 at-bats, for a batting average of .3429, while Williams went 194-566, for an average of .3428. A single hit either way would have changed the outcome. Williams is also one of three players in Major-League Baseball history (along with Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines) to steal a base in four different decades.
Because Williams's hitting was so feared, and it was known that he was a dead pull hitter, opponents frequently employed the radical, defensive "Williams Shift" against him, leaving only one fielder on the third-base half of the field. Rather than bunting the ball into the open space, the proud Williams batted as usual against the defense. The defensive tactic was later used against left-handed sluggers such as Willie McCovey and Barry Bonds, and is still used to this day against players such as Ryan Howard, Carlos Delgado, and David Ortiz who are also considered dead-pull hitters, and is appropriately called the infield shift.
Ted Williams retired from the game in 1960 and hit a home run in his final at-bat, on September 28, 1960, in front of only 10,454 fans at Fenway Park. This home run, a solo shot hit off Baltimore pitcher Jack Fisher in the 8th inning that reduced the Orioles' lead to 4-3?was immortalized in The New Yorker essay "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu", by John Updike.
Renowned NBC sportscaster Bob Costas, reflecting on Williams's unparalleled success as ball player, wingman, and fisherman, once asked Williams if he realized he was in real life the type of American hero John Wayne sought to portray in his movies. Replied Williams, "Yeah, I know."
Williams's final home run did not take place during the final game of the 1960 season, but rather the Red Sox's last home game that year. The Red Sox played three more games, but they were on the road in New York and Williams did not appear in any of them, as it became clear that Williams's final home at-bat would be the last of his career.
In 1991 on Ted Williams Day at Fenway Park, Williams pulled a Red Sox cap from out of his jacket and tipped it to the crowd; it was the first time he had done so since his earliest days as a player.
A Red Smith profile from 1956 describes one Boston writer trying to convince Ted Williams that first cheering and then booing a ballplayer was no different from a moviegoer applauding a "western" movie actor one day and saying the next "He stinks! Whatever gave me the idea he could act?" But Williams rejected this; when he liked a western actor like Hoot Gibson, he liked him in every picture, and would not think of booing him.
He once had a friendship with Ty Cobb, with whom he often had discussions about baseball. He often touted Rogers Hornsby as being the greatest right-handed hitter of all time. This assertion actually led to a split in the relationship between Ty Cobb and Ted Williams. Once during one of their yearly debate sessions on the greatest hitters of all-time Williams asserted that Hornsby was one of the greatest of all-time. Cobb apparently had strong feelings about Rogers and threw a fit, expelling Williams from his hotel room. Their friendship effectively terminated after this altercation.
Hall of Fame induction speech
In his induction speech in 1966, Williams included a statement calling for the recognition of the great Negro Leagues players: "I've been a very lucky guy to have worn a baseball uniform, and I hope some day the names of Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson in some way can be added as a symbol of the great Negro players who are not here only because they weren't given a chance."
Williams was referring to two of the most famous names in the Negro Leagues, who were not given the opportunity to play in the Major Leagues before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. Gibson died early in 1947 and thus never played in the majors; and Paige's brief major league stint came long past his prime as a player. This powerful and unprecedented statement from the Hall of Fame podium was "a first crack in the door that ultimately would open and include Paige and Gibson and other Negro League stars in the shrine." Paige was the first inducted, in 1971. Gibson and others followed, starting in 1972 and continuing off and on into the 21st Century.
In 1954, Williams was also inducted by the San Diego Hall of Champions into the Breitbard Hall of Fame honoring San Diego's finest athletes both on and off the playing surface.
Career ranking
At the time of his retirement, Williams ranked third all-time in home runs (behind Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx), seventh in RBIs (after Ruth, Cap Anson, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Foxx, and Mel Ott; Stan Musial would pass Williams in 1962), and seventh in batting average (behind Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Lefty O'Doul, Ed Delahanty and Tris Speaker). His career batting average is the highest of any player who played his entire career in the post-1920 live-ball era.
Williams was also second to Ruth in career slugging percentage, where he remains today, and first in on-base percentage. He was also second to Ruth in career walks, but has since dropped to fourth place behind Barry Bonds and Rickey Henderson. Williams remains the career leader in walks per plate appearance.
Most modern statistical analyses place Williams, along with Ruth and Bonds, among the three most potent hitters to have played the game. Williams' 1941 season is often considered favorably with the greatest seasons of Ruth and Bonds in terms of various offensive statistical measures such as slugging, on-base and "offensive winning percentage." As a further indication, of the ten best seasons for OPS, short for On-Base Plus Slugging Percentage, a popular modern measure of offensive productivity, four each were achieved by Ruth and Bonds, and two by Williams.
In 1999, Williams was ranked as Number 8 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, where he was the highest-ranking left fielder.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tennessee-Kentucky border didn't turn out as straight as it was supposed to be
Have you every wondered who, when, and how our state borders were decided and surveyed over two hundred years ago? This story will give you a hint, and you can draw your own conclusion. Since I was born in Middle Tennessee, and Kentucky was one of our adjacent Northern states, this story will give you an idea.

A while back Bill Carey wrote about the border between Tennessee and Georgia. He pointed out that the boundary was supposed to be at 35 degrees north latitude. However, because of human error inherent with surveying equipment used in the early 19th century, the boundary is south of that latitude by about one mile.

At the time he hinted that the Georgia/Tennessee border was accurate compared to the Tennessee/Kentucky border.

The Tennessee/Kentucky border is not straight. It shifts up and down multiple times on its journey from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River. Most notably, in the area of the Land Between the Lakes, the border jumps north by a couple of miles and then, where the Tennessee River moves into Kentucky, shifts south about 12 miles – creating what some refer to as Tennessee’s “chimney.” The boundary then proceeds in a nearly perfect straight line all the way to the Mississippi River.

He wondered why the border jumps up and down the way it does. It turns out that there are people who have researched this topic. James Sames, now deceased, once wrote a book on the subject called Four Steps West. About 20 years ago, the Tennessee Association of Professional Surveyors and Kentucky Association of Professional Surveyors reproduced his book and did extensive research on the topic, photographing stone markers that were placed along the boundary in 1859. And an Internet search on the subject yielded lots amounts of information, some of which I actually suspect to be true (not always the case with Internet searches).

Carey summarized what he discovered:

Tennessee’s border with Kentucky and Virginia is, for the eastern two-thirds of the Volunteer State, nowhere near where government decree said it was supposed to be. The main reasons for this are human error and imperfect surveying equipment. Along the way, the placement of the boundary was also influenced by disagreements among surveyors, compromise between arguing states and countless other reasons. In total, the mislocated border cost Kentucky about 2,500 square miles, according to Sames’ book.

As for the Tennessee-Kentucky border in West Tennessee, it is almost a perfect straight line and is located almost exactly where it is supposed to be.

Here are some details of what he found:

* In colonial times, the King of England decreed that the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina at 36 degrees, 30 minutes north latitude. After Kentucky broke away from Virginia and Tennessee broke away from North Carolina, this boundary line was continued west all the way to the Mississippi River.

* The official border was laid out by different people and in different eras, using celestial navigation readings to determine location on the earth’s surface and magnetic compass headings to draw the line between places where celestial shots was made. Generally, these early surveyors left marks in trees to show where they left the boundary line, which often left surveyors of future generations in confusion as to which marks were left by official surveyors and which were left by someone trying to trick them in to thinking they were left by official surveyors.
* In 1728, a team led by William Byrd started surveying the line between North Carolina and Virginia, starting at the Atlantic Ocean. Byrd kept a detailed journal along the way, explaining that the team took most of the spring and summer of that year off because of an overabundance or rattlesnakes along the way. This original surveying party made is 241 miles, to about two-thirds of the way across present-day North Carolina.

* Twenty-one years later, a group of surveyors led by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson started where Byrd left off and made it to about 10 miles east of present-day Bristol. Jefferson, by the way, was the father of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States.

* In 1779 two teams of surveyors picked up about where Fry and Jefferson had left off and drew the line all the way into where the Tennessee River flows north into Kentucky. This group consisted of Thomas Walker and Daniel Smith, representing Virginia, and Richard Henderson and William Bailey Smith, representing North Carolina. (Daniel Smith, by the way, later built the Rock Castle historic home in present-day Sumner County, while Richard Henderson is the land speculator who sent the first settlers to present-day Nashville.)

* As it turns out, all three of these surveying generations mistakenly placed the boundary north by a distance of somewhere in the range of five miles and 12 miles. So, instead of the border between Kentucky/Virginia and Tennessee/North Carolina being at 36-30, it is actually closer to 36-35 in East Tennessee and as far north as 36-41 at the Land Between the Lakes – as much as 18 miles off! It is easy for us to be smug about these inaccuracies in an era in which some us carry hand-held satellite navigation devices. But if you think it is easy to calculate your exact location on the planet using a hand-held sextant and a magnetic compass, you try it.

* When the 1779 surveyors picked up the line left by the Jefferson/Fry party, the two groups of surveyors argued about where the line should be. The Walker/Smith party, representing Virginia, believed that the line was at least two miles north of where it was supposed to be (in fact, it was a lot further than that). This disagreement is the reason that, today, the border “shifts” about ten miles east of present-day Bristol. And for years this caused property disputes all along the Tennessee/Kentucky border, and the creation of one “border” known as the Henderson line and another “border” known as the Walker line.

* When he recently visited the Cumberland Gap, I found the place where the borders of Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia meet and made the assumption that the border between those states was put near the gap on purpose. In fact, the border between Tennessee and Kentucky coincides with the location of the actual Cumberland Gap by coincidence – it just so happens to be right about where the surveying party believed the 36-30 parallel to be. (In fact, the Cumberland Gap is located at about 36 degrees, 36 minutes).

* In 1817, the Chickasaw Indians “sold” their rights of the land between the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers, and that land became what we now refer to as West Tennessee. By this time it had become obvious to everyone that Tennessee’s border with both Kentucky and Virginia was north of where it was supposed to be. During the next couple of years, Tennessee and Kentucky argued over where the boundary should be drawn in this new area.

* In 1820, Kentucky agreed to leave the border east of the Tennessee River where it had been mistakenly placed, so long as the border in the newly claimed land west of the Tennessee River was, in fact, put in the right place. This is why, today, the Tennessee/Kentucky border slides southward about 12 miles in the area of the Land Between the Lakes, where it meets up with the surveying line laid out by surveyors Robert Alexander and Luke Munsell. “That east-west line that Alexander and Munsell did has to be one of the best lines ever surveyed,” says Bart Crattie, a Georgia surveyor who has extensively researched Tennessee’s borders.

* The state of Virginia remained annoyed about the location of the line for more than a century, until the U.S. Supreme Court settled the matter in 1893, ruling in Tennessee’s favor that “a boundary line between states or provinces which has been run out, located, and marked upon the earth, and afterwards recognized and acquiesced in by the parties for a long course of years, is conclusive.” In other words, if you agree to live with a border for long enough, you forfeit the right to complain about it.

Finally, he had always wondered why the Kentucky-Tennessee border dips down in Robertson County, Tennessee, and Simpson County, Kentucky (coincidentally, where Interstate 65 is). “I’ve always heard that it was called ‘dueling ground’ because it was a no man’s land between the two states where people could go to duel and avoid laws against it,” says my friend Robert Brandt, author of the fascinating Compass American Guides Tennessee.

As it turns out, the so-called “Simpson County Offset” was caused by human error. When Walker and Smith surveyed this part of the state in December 1779 and January 1780, they were able to do almost no astronomical observations in this part of the state due to cloudy weather. Also, Walker later noted, “there was some iron ore in that vicinity, which deflected the needle of the compass.”

By 1830 it became obvious that the line was in the wrong place, which is why surveyors were sent to the area to redraw the line. Those surveyors determined about where the boundary line was supposed to be but wisely recommended in their report that the official border be left where it was. “Let Tennessee yield to Kentucky her claim to the triangular territory and let Kentucky yield to Tennessee her claim on the triangular territory in dispute,” they recommended, and the state’s agreed.

However, this didn’t settle the matter. A generation after this survey, a Robertson County settler named Middleton continued to claim that 101 acres of his property that protruded into Kentucky was rightfully in Tennessee. Two surveyors sent to the area to settle the dispute in 1859 agreed with him, which is why a rectangular piece of land about 100 acres in size protrudes northward into Kentucky.

“There are many hearsay stories claiming they were offered a barrel of whiskey to survey around the Middleton offset, and allow it to become part of the state of Tennessee,” Sames’ book points out.
Bill Carey is a Nashville author and executive director of "Tennessee History for Kids."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Everett Pope, USMC
Florida's last living recipient of the Medal of Honor from World War II

A hero's hill that no one needed
So many died, but the hill's namesake lives thanks to a change in orders.
By CHRISTOPHER GOFFARDPublished August 28, 2005
"One handful of Marines, out of ammunition, fought off an assault with bayonets, chunks of coral, and their fists... The courage displayed in taking the island is undiminished by a bitter truth: The invasion was not necessary." - entry on "Peleliu" from World War II.

AMELIA ISLAND - It was supposed to be over quickly, the American invasion of Peleliu in September 1944.
As if clambering over razor blades, the Marines found the coral rock slashed through their boots and bloodied their hands. Their entrenching tools, cast away as useless, soon littered the tiny South Pacific island.
Worst of all, the Japanese had been digging in for months, readying caves and bunkers and sniper nests, transforming the two-mile-wide island into a death trap.

Everett Pope, a 25-year-old Marine captain, stormed the shore with 235 men. In war, he carried a picture of his wife, Eleanor, a prayer book, and a volume of anti-war poems by Siegfried Sassoon that he was glad his commanders never saw.

There was no history of military glory in Pope's family, no pedigree of great generals. Pope was from a tight-knit Massachusetts family, had married his childhood sweetheart, played some tennis, and majored in French at Bowdoin College.

He had spotted a recruiter on campus, and found himself beguiled by the uniform. Now he was leading the men of Company C into one of the war's most vicious maws, watching helplessly as they died all around him.

His commander was Lewis "Chesty" Puller, the blood-and-guts Marine who was already becoming a legend.

Chesty wanted Hill 100. According to maps, it was a stand-alone peak. It was an ugly chunk of charred, denuded, stump-covered coral, very steep, with little for a Marine to hide behind.

Chesty said: Take it.
* * *
It's a gorgeous hill, in the picture. You might be forgiven for calling it that, if you did not know what happened up there on the night of Sept. 19, 1944.

Pope keeps the picture on his desk, in the study of his Amelia Island home. He snapped it himself, when he returned to Peleliu 50 years later. By then, the jungle had grown lushly over the mingled skulls and bones and bullets. By then, people had long since taken to calling it Pope Hill.

"Most of the time, I'm the kindly old retired banker," said Pope, Florida's last living recipient of the Medal of Honor from World War II, one of just 42 recipients from that war still living anywhere. Of the 464 Medals of Honor given for the war, 266 were posthumous.

At 86, impeccably cordial but no-nonsense, Pope moves like a man 15 or 20 years younger.

"There's no bravado in wearing the medal," he said. "None. None. None."

After a long career as a Boston banker, he likes to putter in the yard, tend his flowers, feed his fish. His back door opens onto a golf course, but he's staying inside today with Eleanor, his wife of 63 years now, because he's a New England boy and it's July in Florida.

He keeps his Medal of Honor framed near the front door, along with a photo of President Harry Truman bestowing it.

Pope's study teems with war and history books, including one called Chesty, about the life of the famous Puller, who won an unmatched five Navy Crosses for valor. "The mythological hero of the Corps," the book calls him.

Pope wants it understood, up front, that he has small regard for Puller, whom he thinks recklessly fed so many good men into Peleliu's death traps.

Puller had a poor grasp of the island's terrain, Pope said. Send enough men to their slaughter up the hill, Puller's strategy went, and a few are bound to make it.

"The adulation paid to him these days sickens me," Pope said.
* * *
Peleliu, one of the Palau Islands, is five miles long, two miles wide, and shaped like a lobster claw.

By the time Pope got the order to take Hill 100, there were just 90 men left for the job. Scrambling past blasted trees up the slope, past barrages of Japanese mortars and bullets, just 24 made it to the top.

There, they realized the maps were wrong. It was not an isolated hill, but part of a long ridge, with Japanese fighters perched on higher ground and surrounding them on three sides.

As the Japanese hurled grenades and strafed them with gunfire, Pope rallied his small cluster of fighters. He chose to hold the hill, to absorb the attacks to protect the men lying wounded behind him.

The sun set, and the Japanese kept charging down the ridge through the night. Pope had about a dozen men left, now. Water ran out, ammunition ran out, grenades were disappearing fast. They threw coral chunks, which sounded like grenades when they fell, to slow the enemy.

In case of capture, Pope kept a bullet in his Colt .45 handgun, intended for himself.

Dawn broke, and Pope got word to retreat. He and just seven or eight others scrambled down, forced to leave their dead and wounded.

Later that day, Puller ordered Pope and his handful of remaining men to retake it. It was an obvious suicide mission.

"The trouble is, it was our suicide, not Puller's, you see," Pope said.

Pope was readying himself for the charge when the order was canceled.

Pope had taken shrapnel in the thigh, which he pulled out of his flesh with pliers, piece by piece.

It would be two weeks before the Americans retook the hill, and could bury their dead. It would be another two months before the island fell.

Nine months after the battle of Hill 100, Pope was at Yale University studying Japanese when he received an order to appear at the White House to receive the medal. President Truman had trouble pronouncing Peleliu.

Pope has two sons, neither of whom he encouraged to join the military. One became a diplomat, the other a professor.

Pope gave away the .45 he carried on Peleliu, the one with the suicide bullet.

"I just didn't want the damn thing around anymore," he said.
* * *
In the end, the Allies didn't even need Peleliu.

The strategic aim was to protect Gen. Douglas MacArthur's flank during his drive to the Philippines, but in reality the Japanese forces on the island posed small threat to that effort.

Pope unflinchingly acknowledges the pointlessness of the battle. But a Marine followed orders.

"We had a job to do and we did it," he said. "And if we hadn't done that, we'd be capturing some other island, some other airfield."

He said he returned to civilian life from Hill 100 - and other places he fought, like Guadalcanal - without nightmares.

"To be just as blunt as can be, I had no trouble whatsoever," he said, adding: "I also had no doubt about what I had done."

It helped that he did not have to fight amid civilian populations. "We had no such problem. If he wasn't us, we killed him. Very simple."

H.C. "Barney" Barnum Jr. has worked closely with Pope in the Medal of Honor Society, having received the medal himself for valor in Vietnam.

"When we guys are together, we don't talk about what we did," said Barnum, who is now Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy. "We talk about families, grandkids, golf. Hell, I couldn't tell you what half the guys in the society did to get their medal."
* * *
There are certain things Pope will not talk about still, like the details of the hand-to-hand fighting that went on that night. His blue eyes skitter uncertainly around the room, and he finally manages to say he would prefer to skip that part.

Tears fill his eyes, when he thinks about young Americans going off to fight in Iraq. But he refuses to give an opinion about the war. In social settings, he shuns political arguments.

"I've had enough conflict," Pope said. "At dinner tonight, we can talk about the weather (and) "How are your grandchildren?' But not, "What do you think of George Bush?"'
* * *
It was a strange feeling, when he and his wife returned to the Palau Islands for the 50th anniversary to find American flags flying next to Japanese flags.

Some Japanese veterans came for the anniversary too, but he kept his distance. "You didn't have to fight them, but you didn't have to hug them, either," he said.

These days, he said, the island is a haven for scuba divers and marijuana growers. He would just as soon people called it Hill 100 as Pope Hill. He said he doesn't care, but at times he refers to it as "my hill."

"I understand my hill is vanishing, by the way," he said. "They're mining it for phosphate. It may not even exist anymore."