Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Trick-or-Treat-it's Halloween

31 October 2011

Halloween is the one of the oldest holidays still celebrated today. It's one of the most popular holidays, second only to Christmas. While millions of people celebrate Halloween without knowing its origins and myths, the history and facts of Halloween make the holiday more fascinating.

Some people view Halloween as a time for fun, putting on costumes, trick-or-treating, and having theme parties. Others view it as a time of superstitions, ghosts, goblins and evil spirits that should be avoided at all costs.

As the Christian debate goes on, celebrating Halloween is a preference that is not always viewed as participating in an evil holiday. Halloween is often celebrated with no reference to pagan rituals or the occult.

Halloween History

Halloween is on October 31st, the last day of the Celtic calendar. It was originally a pagan holiday, honoring the dead. Halloween was referred to as All Hallows Eve and dates back to over 2000 years ago.

All Hallows Eve is the evening before All Saints Day, which was created by Christians to convert pagans, and is celebrated on November 1st. The Catholic church honored saints on this designated day.

Origin of Halloween

While there are many versions of the origins and old customs of Halloween, some remain consistent by all accounts. Different cultures view Halloween somewhat differently but traditional Halloween practices remain the same.

Halloween culture can be traced back to the Druids, a Celtic culture in Ireland, Britain and Northern Europe. Roots lay in the feast of Samhain, which was annually on October 31st to honor the dead.

Samhain signifies "summers end" or November. Samhain was a harvest festival with huge sacred bonfires, marking the end of the Celtic year and beginning of a new one. Many of the practices involved in this celebration were fed on superstition.

The Celts believed the souls of the dead roamed the streets and villages at night. Since not all spirits were thought to be friendly, gifts and treats were left out to pacify the evil and ensure next years crops would be plentiful. This custom evolved into trick-or-treating.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Love Story
Affirmed Life in Time of War

They met in the Weapons Room, where sports receptions were held in those days.

Bill Zadel and his wife, Betty, were married 46 years.

Bill Zadel with the Army football coach Red Blaik, receiving an athletes scholar award in 1964.

Betty Nickla was visiting the United States Military Academy to watch her brother wrestle, when somebody sidled up to her on the buffet line and said a very nice football player would like to meet her.

Turned out, Bill Zadel was quite a player a tight end and defensive tackle, who would play nearly 60 minutes when Army beat Roger Staubach and Navy, 11-8, in 1964.

I said, O.K., Betty Zadel recalled the other day. I was impressed right from the start. He wasn't one of those guys who talked about himself. He just, you know, he seemed like such a good guy and down to earth. We started dating toward the end of his yearling year, and then he went away for training in the summertime in the U.S., and then we started dating as he came back as a cow, which was his junior year, and after that, we were engaged. It was meant to be.

They were married 46 years, as he took an epic American path, from college all-star to Marine in Vietnam to corporate executive and solid family man the ideal of scholar-athlete-citizen that football, in particular, likes to display.

On Sept. 8, Zadel woke up early to make coffee and read the paper, as he always did, and died suddenly, at 68. On Thursday, family and friends will honor him with a service at West Point.

This is the second wave of deaths for the class of 1965. The natural life cycle wave arrived much too soon for a healthy man like Zadel; the earlier one came in the late '60s, when classmates were being killed in Vietnam. It began to get personal, as Zadel's good friend and quarterback Rollie Stichweh puts it.

The two teammates came home, healthy embodiments of what Johnny Cash expressed in his song "Drive On," about a survivor: You're a walkin' talkin' miracle from Vietnam.

The miracle for Zadel included coming home to Betty and raising their three children, Bart, Elizabeth and David, enjoying six grandchildren and rising to the top of corporate life.

Early this year, Zadel filled out a questionnaire for his class records, in neat handwriting and thoughtful prose. In 19 pages, he sheepishly recalled being given a better grade than he deserved ? one time after beating Staubach, following five straight losses to Navy. He talked with pride about his great education at West Point and being accepted into the Marines.

He got into the Corps of Engineers because of his class standing, his wife said the other day, which I thought was terrific because our first duty assignment was going to be in Germany. But he called me and said he was so excited because he was able to be in the Marine Corps because his father was also in the Corps, and I said: Oh, my gosh, we're going to be in Quantico and not Germany. So that was a big surprise.

Zadel graduated June 9, 1965, and married Betty on Long Island three days later. The very large suitor was accepted by her father and her three athletic brothers, and after a touchy tour at Guantanamo in Cuba, he went off to war in 1967.

She said, I remember when he left for Vietnam, he said, If I don't come back, don't be upset, because I'm doing exactly what I was trained to do.

In Vietnam, Zadel wrote: At 6-4, I was surrounded by Vietnamese Ranger counterparts who stood between 4-8 and 5-4. I was a big target, to say the least. Fortunately, he added, the Vietcong were bad shots, and he perfected running full speed in a duckwalk.

He came home with numerous medals to a country of growing doubts. When Betty went to New Jersey to welcome her husband, she had to drive through a swarm of protestors just to get on the base.

In 1968, Zadel was assigned to his hometown, Chicago, in charge of recruiting. Somebody scheduled a swearing-in ceremony for 100 recruits downtown during the 1968 Democratic national convention. The event went on, with the help of the Chicago police.

With his service coming to an end, Zadel resigned from the Marines, turned down a tryout with the Bears and began a corporate tour of duty that involved, Betty estimated, 18 moves.

Zadel was calm, methodical, logical, smart but also impatient, she said. He wanted to keep moving onward and upward. He worked for Quaker Oats, earning an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, and moved on to Johnson and Johnson, Abbott Laboratories and Corning, and served as chief executive of Ciba-Corning Diagnostics, Millipore Corporation and Mykrolis Corporation before his retirement in 2004.

Betty Zadel, a tennis teacher and player for many years, praised her husband as a good father who refused to work weekends and gave up golf to have time with their children. People knew he had helped beat Staubach, and people also knew he had served in Vietnam.

Zadel played nearly 60 minutes when Army defeated Navy by a field goal in 1964.

I think Bill felt he didn't have to defend himself for being in Vietnam, Betty said. If people wanted to know about it, he was happy to talk about what he did. He wasn't a very political person. He kept his leanings to himself.

But not totally. In 2009, Zadel and Stichweh and their teammates assembled at the academy to honor Paul Dietzel, their coach, and Dietzel's wife, Anne. Zadel and Stichweh (whom I covered when he was in high school) sat around the Thayer Hotel and, somewhat to my surprise, started talking about Vietnam.

Stichweh had served with the 173rd Airborne, at Hill 875 near Dak To, one of the more gruesome battles of that war, and Zadel had served about 10 miles away, but they learned of the proximity only when they returned home safely.

Both officers were proud to feel they had been fighting to stop communism.

That was my story at cocktail parties, Zadel said in 2009, volunteering that he had changed his mind after learning about the misgivings of President Lyndon B. Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

I read the excerpts from McNamara's book, Zadel said. I was incensed.

As we sat in the hotel, Stichweh noted that his 26 classmates buried at the academy had all died after McNamara had his own little epiphany.

Did they draw any overt lines between Vietnam and the current involvements in Afghanistan and Iraq, the latter apparently winding down? Not really. Besides, the Zadels' youngest child, David, served two hitches as a Marine in Iraq.

I'll tell you what, Betty said. It was tough having Bill in Vietnam, but it was a heck of a lot tougher to have a son in a war zone. Let me tell you, as a mother, you protect them your whole life, and then to have to worry about it. Bill was very stoic. All he kept saying was, David is well trained; don't worry about David, but I knew he was as concerned as I was. He just handled it better than I did.

By all accounts, Zadel handled everything well. He was a true believer who had room for complexity. Asked in the questionnaire about his most notable experience, Zadel wrote, being part of the winning Army football team for the 1964 victory over Navy.

He added: It taught me the lifelong lesson that, with hard work and strong desire, you can do anything. And doing it as part of a team is the Best! On Thursday at West Point, even Army people will agree that beating Navy was just part of Bill Zadel's legacy.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lewis B. 'Chesty' Puller
United States Marine Corps

Almost all that have served in the military are familiar with the name of Chesty Puller. This great Marine Corps warrior fought on lots of battlefields with his Marines under his command. At age 17, I was one of them during World War II and the Korean War. I attended his retirement party at Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, N.C. on October 31, 1955. Chesty died on October 11, 1971.

During the many years of active duty, Chesty was awarded five Navy Crosses - the most of any Marine. It is an honor for me to list his citations on my Web site.

First Navy Cross citation

"For distinguished service in the line of his profession while commanding a Nicaraguan National Guard patrol. First Lieutenant Lewis B. Puller, United States Marine Corps, successfully led his forces into five successful engagements against superior numbers of armed bandit forces; namely, at LaVirgen on 16 February 1930, at Los Cedros on 6 June 1930, at Moncotal on 22 July 1930, at Guapinol on 25 July 1930, and at Malacate on 19 August 1930, with the result that the bandits were in each engagement completely routed with losses of nine killed and many wounded. By his intelligent and forceful leadership without thought of his own personal safety, by great physical exertion and by suffering many hardships, Lieutenant Puller surmounted all obstacles and dealt five successive and severe blows against organized banditry in the Republic of Nicaragua."

Second Navy Cross citation

"First Lieutenant Lewis B. Puller, United States Marine Corps (Captain, Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua) performed exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility while in command of a Guardia Patrol from 20 September to 1 October 1932. Lieutenant Puller and his command of forty Guardia and Gunnery Sergeant William A. Lee, United States Marine Corps, serving as a First Lieutenant in the Guardia, penetrated the isolated mountainous bandit territory for a distance of from eighty to one hundred miles north of Jinotega, his nearest base. This patrol was ambushed on 26 September 1932, at a point northeast of Mount Kilambe by an insurgent force of one hundred fifty in a well-prepared position armed with not less than seven automatic weapons and various classes of small arms and well-supplied with ammunition. Early in the combat, Gunnery Sergeant Lee, the Second in Command was seriously wounded and reported as dead. The Guardia immediately behind Lieutenant Puller in the point was killed by the first burst of fire, Lieutenant Puller, with great courage, coolness and display of military judgment, so directed the fire and movement of his men that the enemy were driven first from the high ground on the right of his position, and then by a flanking movement forced from the high ground to the left and finally were scattered in confusion with a loss of ten killed and many wounded by the persistent and well-directed attack of the patrol. The numerous casualties suffered by the enemy and the Guardia losses of two killed and four wounded are indicative of the severity of the enemy resistance. This signal victory in jungle country, with no lines of communication and a hundred miles from any supporting force, was largely due to the indomitable courage and persistence of the patrol commander. Returning with the wounded to Jinotega, the patrol was ambushed twice by superior forces on 30 September. On both of the occasions the enemy was dispersed with severe losses."

Third Navy Cross citation

"For extraordinary heroism as Commanding Officer of the First Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division, during the action against enemy Japanese forces on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on the night of 24 to 25 October 1942. While Lieutenant Colonel Puller’s battalion was holding a mile-long front in a heavy downpour of rain, a Japanese force, superior in number, launched a vigorous assault against that position of the line which passed through a dense jungle. Courageously withstanding the enemy’s desperate and determined attacks, Lieutenant Colonel Puller not only held his battalion to its position until reinforcements arrived three hours later, but also effectively commanded the augmented force until late in the afternoon of the next day. By his tireless devotion to duty and cool judgment under fire, he prevented a hostile penetration of our lines and was largely responsible for the successful defense of the sector assigned to his troops."

Fourth Navy Cross citation

"For extraordinary heroism as Executive Officer of the Seventh Marines, First Marine Division, serving with the Sixth United States Army, in combat against enemy Japanese forces at Cape Gloucester, New Britain, from 26 December 1943 to 19 January 1944. Assigned temporary command of the Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, from 4 to 9 January, Lieutenant Colonel Puller quickly reorganized and advanced his unit, effecting the seizure of the objective without delay. Assuming additional duty in command of the Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, from 7 to 8 January, after the commanding officer and executive officer had been wounded, Lieutenant Colonel Puller unhesitatingly exposed himself to rifle, machine-gun and mortar fire from strongly entrenched Japanese positions to move from company to company in his front lines, reorganizing and maintaining a critical position along a fire-swept ridge. His forceful leadership and gallant fighting spirit under the most hazardous conditions were contributing factors in the defeat of the enemy during this campaign and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

Fifth Navy Cross citation

"For extraordinary heroism as Commanding Officer of the First Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against aggressor forces in the vicinity of Koto-ri, Korea, from 5 to 10 December 1950. Fighting continuously in sub-zero weather against a vastly outnumbering hostile force, Colonel Puller drove off repeated and fanatical enemy attacks upon his Regimental defense sector and supply points. Although the area was frequently covered by grazing machine-gun fire and intense artillery and mortar fire, he coolly moved along his troops to insure their correct tactical employment, reinforced the lines as the situation demanded, and successfully defended the perimeter, keeping open the main supply routes for the movement of the Division. During the attack from Koto-ri to Hungnam, he expertly utilized his Regiment as the Division rear guard, repelling two fierce enemy assaults which severely threatened the security of the unit, and personally supervised the care and prompt evacuation of all casualties. By his unflagging determination, he served to inspire his men to heroic efforts in defense of their positions and assured the safety of much valuable equipment which would otherwise have been lost to the enemy. His skilled leadership, superb courage and valiant devotion to duty in the face of overwhelming odds reflect the highest credit upon Colonel Puller and the United States Naval Service."

Distinguished Service Cross citation

"The President of the United States of America, under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Colonel Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller (MCSN: 0-3158), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Commanding Officer, First Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir, Korea, during the period 29 November to 4 December 1950. Colonel Puller's actions contributed materially to the breakthrough of the First Marine Regiment in the Chosin Reservoir area and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service."

Namesakes and honors

In addition to his military awards Chesty Puller has received numerous honors due to his Marine Corps service.

USS Lewis B. Puller (FFG-23)

The frigate Lewis B. Puller (FFG-23) was named after him.

Puller Hall

The headquarters building for 2nd Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team on Yorktown Naval Weapons Station in Yorktown, Virginia is named Puller Hall in his honor.

General Puller Hwy

Rt 33 In Middlesex County VA. The county in which Puller is buried.

Postage stamp

On November 10, 2005, the United States Postal Service issued its Distinguished Marines stamps in which Puller was honored.

Marine Corps mascot

The Marine Corps' mascot is perpetually named "Chesty Pullerton." (e.g. Chesty Pullerton XIII). He is always an English Bulldog.

Chesty Puller in Marine Corps culture

Chesty Puller remains a well known figure in Marine Corps folklore, with both true and exaggerated tales of his experiences being constantly recounted in the U.S. Marine Corps.

A common incantation in Marine Corps boot camp is to end one's day with the declaration, "Good night, Chesty Puller, wherever you are!" Another common encouragement is "Chesty Puller never quit!"

In Marine recruit training and OCS cadences, Marines chant "It was good for Chesty Puller/And it's good enough for me"- Chesty is symbolic of the esprit de corps of the Marines. Also, the recruits sing "Chesty Puller was a good Marine and a good Marine was he."

Marines, while doing pull-ups, will tell each other to "do one for Chesty!"

Chesty is loved by enlisted men for his constant actions to improve their lot. Puller insisted upon good equipment and discipline; once he came upon a second lieutenant who had ordered an enlisted man to salute him 100 times for missing a salute. Chesty told the lieutenant, "You were absolutely correct in making him salute you 100 times lieutenant, but you know that an officer must return every salute he receives. Now return them all."

While on duty in Hawaii and inspecting the armory, Puller fined himself $100 for discharging a .45 caliber pistol, although the charge for his men was only $20.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gregory 'Pappy' Boyington
        Medal of Honor recipient
  World War II - U. S. Marine Corps

Gregory Boyington was born in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on December 4, 1912. He spent his childhood years in St. Maries, where he had is first flight with the legendary barn-stormer pilot Clyde Pangborn. Eventually his mother moved to Tacoma, Washington and later he graduated from Lincoln High School.

He attended the University of Washington, where he graduated with a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering. He would then go on to work for the Boeing Company as a draftsman and engineer.

He would eventually enter the U.S. Marine Corps, and after completion of the Officer Training he went on to flight training. He possessed natural abilities that distinguish him in the cockpit early on, but his lifestyle was not without controversy.

Boyington was offered a position with a group that would eventually become the American Volunteer Group (AVG), better known as the Flying Tigers. He resigned his commission in the Marine Corps and set off to China to fly against the Japanese.

At the outbreak of WWII, after making his way back from China, he managed to return to the Marine Corps with a Major’s commission. As he was already an experienced fighter pilot with victories against the Japanese, his skills were much needed in the war effort. From Guadalcanal he would eventually assume command of a group of pilots who were not already assigned to a squadron, and they would go on to be known as the "Black Sheep Squadron". Because he was older than the other pilots, they would call him “Gramps” and eventually that let to “Pappy” and it stuck. (He was 31 years old).

The Black Sheep Squadron amassed an impressive record of victories against the Japanese. Pappy Boyington was credited with 26 victories, until he was himself shot down over the Pacific and captured by the Japanese. He spent 20 months as a Prisoner of War, and was listed as Missing in Action for the duration of the war. Upon his liberation from the prison camp at the end of the war, he returned stateside and was greeted as a hero. He informed the Marines that on his final mission he downed two enemy aircraft, and his wingman downed one before he was too was shot down. His wingman, Capt. George Ashmun was killed.

The paperwork for his award of the Medal of Honor was already working through the system when he was shot down, it would be approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. With his status listed as missing and presumed dead, his award was held in the capitol until the end of the war.

Medal of Honor citation

His citation reads in full:
The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to



for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of Marine Fighting Squadron TWO FOURTEEN in action against enemy Japanese forces in Central Solomons Area from 12 September 1943 to 3 January 1944. Consistently outnumbered throughout successive hazardous flights over heavily defended hostile territory, Major Boyington struck at the enemy with daring and courageous persistence, leading his squadron into combat with devastating results to Japanese shipping, shore installations and aerial forces. Resolute in his efforts to inflict crippling damage on the enemy, Major Boyington led a formation of twenty-four fighters over Kahili on 17 October and, persistently circling the airdrome where sixty hostile aircraft were grounded, boldly challenged the Japanese to send up planes. Under his brilliant command, our fighters shot down twenty enemy craft in the ensuing action without the loss of a single ship. A superb airman and determined fighter against overwhelming odds, Major Boyington personally destroyed 26 of the many Japanese planes shot down by his squadron and by his forceful leadership developed the combat readiness in his command which was a distinctive factor in the Allied aerial achievements in this vitally strategic area.


The Black Sheep Squadron

The Black Sheep squadron fought for eighty-four days. They met the Japanese over their own fields and territory and piled up a record of 203 planes destroyed or damaged, produced eight fighter aces with 97 confirmed air-to-air victories, sank several troop transports and supply ships, destroyed many installations, in addition to numerous other victories. For their actions, the original Black Sheep were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism in action.

Marine Fighter Squadron 214 was originally commissioned on July 1, 1942, at Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, on the Island of Oahu. Initially called the "Swashbucklers", they participated in the Solomon Islands campaign, flying out of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. They were disbanded following their combat tour and the squadron designation was given to the Marine command on Espiritu Santo.

In August 1943, a group of twenty-seven young men under the leadership of Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington were joined together to form the original "Blacksheep" of VMF-214. The call sign "Black Sheep" was chosen by the squadron to commemorate the unusual way in which the squadron had been formed. Originally the squadron called itself "Boyington's Bastards" after its commander, but this label was considered unacceptable by the press. The pilots ranged from experienced combat veterans, with several air-to-air victories to their credit, to new replacement pilots from the United States. Major Boyington and Major Stan Bailey were given permission to form the unassigned pilots into a squadron, with the understanding that they would have less than four weeks to have them fully trained and ready for combat. They were very successful.

The Black Sheep Squadron has continued to serve to this day; having deployed to the Korean War, Vietnam War, Somalia, and The Global War on Terror.

While his Medal of Honor Citation was awarded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in March 1944; he was not decorated until October 5, 1945 due to his captivity by the Japanese. In a White House ceremony with other Sailors and Marines, he was personally decorated by President Harry S. Truman. He was also awarded the Navy Cross, the nations second highest honor, by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Alexander A. Vandegrift.

Pappy Boyington died on January 11, 1988 in Fresno, California. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Section 7-A.

Friday, October 7, 2011

                                                   Harper's Ferry Fire Engine House
Harper's Ferry
Now West Virginia

Under command of Colonel Robert E. Lee, United States Marines attacked the fire-engine house in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and captured John Brown and his men.

On August 19, 1859, John Brown, the Kansas abolitionist, and Frederick Douglass, the celebrated black abolitionist and former slave, met in an abandoned stone quarry near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. For three days, the two men discussed whether violence could be legitimately used to free the nation's slaves.

The Kansas guerrilla leader asked Douglass if he would join a band of raiders who would seize a federal arsenal and spark a mass uprising of slaves. "When I strike," Brown said, "the bees will begin to swarm, and I shall need you to help hive them."

"No," Douglass replied. Brown's plan, he knew, was suicidal. Brown had earlier proposed a somewhat more realistic plan. According to that scheme, Brown would have launched guerrilla activity in the Virginia mountains, providing a haven for slaves and an escape route into the North. That scheme had a chance of working, but Brown's new plan was hopeless.

Up until the Kansas-Nebraska Act, abolitionists were averse to the use of violence. Opponents of slavery hoped to use moral suasion and other peaceful means to eliminate slavery. But by the mid-1850s, the abolitionists' aversion to violence had begun to fade. On the night of October 16, 1859, violence came, and John Brown was its instrument.

As early as 1857, John Brown had begun to raise money and recruit men for an invasion of the South. Brown told his backers that only through insurrection could this "slave-cursed Republic be restored to the principles of the Declaration of Independence."

Brown's plan was to capture the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), and arm slaves from the surrounding countryside. His long-range goal was to drive southward into Tennessee and Alabama, raiding federal arsenals and inciting slave insurrections. Failing that, he hoped to ignite a sectional crisis that would destroy slavery.

At 8 o'clock Sunday evening, October 16, John Brown led a raiding party of approximately 21 men toward Harpers Ferry, where they captured the lone night watchman and cut the town's telegraph lines. Encountering no resistance, Brown's raiders seized the federal arsenal, an armory, and a rifle works along with several million dollars worth of arms and munitions. Brown then sent out several detachments to round up hostages and liberate slaves.

But Brown's play soon went awry. During the night, a church bell began to toll, warning neighboring farmers and militiamen from the surrounding countryside that a slave insurrection was under way. Local townspeople arose from their beds and gathered in the streets, armed with axes, knives, and squirrel rifles. Within hours, militia companies from villages within a 30-mile radius of Harpers Ferry cut off Brown's escape routes and trapped Brown's men in the armory.

Twice, Brown sent men carrying flags of truce to negotiate. On both occasions, drunken mobs, yelling "Kill them, Kill them," gunned the men down.

John Brown's assault against slavery lasted less than two days. Early Tuesday morning, October 18, U.S. Marines, commanded by Colonel Robert E. Lee and Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart, arrived in Harpers Ferry. Brown and his men took refuge in a fire engine house and battered holes through the building's brick wall to shoot through. A hostage later described the climactic scene:

With one son dead by his side and another shot through, he felt the pulse of his dying son with one hand and held his rifle with the other and commanded his men, encouraging them to fire and sell their lives as dearly as they could.

Later that morning, Colonel Lee's marines stormed the engine house and rammed down its doors. Brown and his men continued firing until the leader of the storming party cornered Brown and knocked him unconscious with a sword. Five of Brown's party escaped, ten were killed, and seven, including Brown himself, were taken prisoner.

A week later, John Brown was put on trial in a Virginia court, even though his attack had occurred on federal property. During the six-day proceedings, Brown refused to plead insanity as a defense. He was found guilty of treason, conspiracy, and murder, and was sentenced to die on the gallows.

The trial's high point came at the very end when Brown was allowed to make a five-minute speech. His words helped convince thousands of Northerners that this grizzled man of 59, with his "piercing eyes" and "resolute countenance," was a martyr to the cause of freedom. Brown denied that he had come to Virginia to commit violence. His only goal, he said, was to liberate the slaves:

If it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice and mingle my blood with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I say let it be done.

Brown's execution was set for December 2. Before he went to the gallows, Brown wrote one last message: " now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood." At 11 A.M., he was led to the execution site, a halter was placed around his neck, and a sheriff led him over a trapdoor. The sheriff cut the rope and the trapdoor opened. As the old man's body convulsed on the gallows, a Virginia officer cried out: "So perish all enemies of Virginia!"

Across the North, church bells tolled, flags flew at half-mast, and buildings were draped in black bunting. Ralph Waldo Emerson compared Brown to Jesus Christ and declared that his death had made "the gallows as glorious as the cross." William Lloyd Garrison, previously the strongest exponent of nonviolent opposition to slavery, announced that Brown's death had convinced him of "the need for violence" to destroy slavery. He told a Boston meeting that "every slave holder has forfeited his right to live," if he opposed immediate emancipation.

Prominent Northern Democrats and Republicans, including Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, spoke out forcefully against Brown's raid and his tactics. Lincoln expressed the views of the Republican leadership, when he denounced Brown's raid as an act of "violence, bloodshed, and treason" that deserved to be punished by death. But Southern whites refused to believe that politicians like Lincoln and Douglas represented the true opinion of most Northerners. These men condemned Brown's "invasion," observed a Virginia senator, "only because it failed."

The Northern reaction to John Brown's raid convinced many white Southerners that a majority of Northerners wished to free the slaves and incite a race war. Southern extremists, known as "fire-eaters," told large crowds that John Brown's attack on Harpers Ferry was "the first act in the grand tragedy of emancipation, and the subjugation of the South in bloody treason."

After Harpers Ferry, Southerners increasingly believed that secession and creation of a slaveholding confederacy were now the South's only options. A Virginia newspaper noted that there were "thousands of men in our midst who, a month ago, scoffed at the idea of dissolution of the Union as a madman's dream, but who now hold the opinion that its days are numbered."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

United States Coast Guard

Members of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) are deployed around the world in peace and in war. During World War II, the numbers served were 241,093. They had 514 killed in combat action. The US Coast Guard was part of the Armed Forces which fought in all theaters, including invading Normandy. Several of them were awarded citations and decorated for valor. Some of their names are listed below.

Founded by Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton as the Revenue Cutter Service on 4 August 1790, it lays claim to being the United States' oldest continuous seagoing service. As of August 2009, the Coast Guard had approximately 42,000 men and women on active duty, 7,500 reservists, 30,000 auxiliarists, and 7,700 full-time civilian employees. Historical links of websites are at the very bottom.

The Coast Guard's legal authority differs from the other four armed services, since it may enforce laws on U. S. civilians at anytime (14USC89), and is not limited by Posse Comitatus Act. It operates simultaneously under Title 10 of the United States Code and its other organic authorities, e.g., Titles 6, 14, 19, 33, 46, etc. Because of its legal authority, the Coast Guard can conduct military operations under the Department of Defense or directly for the President in accordance with Title 14 USC 13.

The Coast Guard's enduring roles are Maritime Safety, Maritime Security, and Maritime Stewardship. To carry out those roles the Coast Guard has eleven statutory missions as defined in 6 U.S.C. § 468.

The Coast Guard motto is "Semper Paratus", Latin for "Always Ready" or "Always Prepared".

Selected combat award citations of Coast Guardsmen decorated for valor under fire during the Normandy Invasion

Samuel W. Allison, Silver Star
Lieutenant Samuel W. Allison was awarded the Silver Star: "For conspicuous gallantry in action as Commanding Officer of LCI(L) 326 during amphibious landings on the French coast June 6, 1944. Displaying superb seamanship and dauntless courage, Lieutenant Allison successfully landed units of the Army, then stood off the beach for salvage duty. Realizing that the services of a control boat were urgently needed, he volunteered for this assignment and, in the face of concentrated shell fire and constant threat of exploding mines, effectively directed boat traffic throughout the remainder of the initial assault."

George C. Clark, British Distinguished Service Cross
Lieutenant George C. Clark was awarded the British Distinguished Service Cross. His citation reads: "During the landing of commandos at Quistreham by LCI (S) on June 6, 1944, Lieut. Clark's cutter was detailed to act as escort to LCI(S) HM LCI(S) 524 on clearing the beach after landing troops received a direct hit and blew up in a sheet of flames leaving a mass of blazing Octane petrol on the water. Although his cutter burned Octane petrol, he did not hesitate to steer his craft into the flames and rescue the commanding officer and some of his men."

Gene R. Gislason, Silver Star
Lieutenant Gene R. Gislason was awarded the Silver Star: "For outstanding heroism as Commanding Officer of the USS LCI (L) 94, while landing assault troops in Normandy June 6, 1944. He successfully directed his ship through numerous beach obstacles to the proper beach, discharged his troops and retracted while his ship was seriously damaged from heavy enemy fire. Ship's communications, engine telegraph and electric steering were disabled by direct hits on the pilothouse which killed three crewmen, and one screw and shaft were rendered inoperative by beach obstacles. By his coolness under fire and excellent seamanship, Lieutenant Gislason overcame these difficulties and brought his ship off the beach on hand steering and one screw. He later supervised repairs and in four hours enabled the LCI (L) to remain operative in the assault area for three weeks."

Coit T. Hendley, Silver Star
Lieutenant, junior grade Coit Hendley was awarded the Silver Star: "For heroism as Commanding Officer of the USS LCI (L) 85 while landing assault troops in Normandy, France, June 6, 1944. Lieutenant Hendley successfully landed his troops despite the mining of his vessel, fire in three compartments and a concentration of enemy fire while unloading. His courage and seamanship in directing repairs and retracting from the beach resulted in saving the lives of many wounded aboard."

George F. Hutchinson, Silver Star
Lieutenant, junior grade George F. Hutchinson was awarded the Silver Star: "For gallantry in action against the enemy as Commanding Officer of the USS LCI (L) 83 while landing assault troops in Normandy, France, June 6, 1944. Lieutenant Hutchinson directed his ship to the beach through heavily mined obstacle while under heavy enemy fire that caused numerous Army casualties, successfully unloaded troops after the ship was mined and remained with the ship effecting repairs that enabled it to come off the beach on the next tide."

Miles H. Imlay, Silver Star
Captain Miles H. Imlay was awarded the Silver Star: "For conspicuous gallantry as Deputy Commander of an Assault Group participating in the initial invasion on the coast of France, June 6, 1944. Undaunted by heavy enemy fire, Captain Imlay courageously took station close to the shore on the early morning of D-Day and, throughout the most bitter period of the fighting, coolly and promptly made spot decisions on the reorganization, grouping and dispatching of craft to the beach, subsequently relieving the Task Group Commander of his duties when he withdrew his transport from the assault area. Immediately thereafter, he was placed in charge of operations afloat as assistant to the Naval Officer in Charge of one of the beaches and, discharging the duties of this responsibility with distinctive professional ability, contributed essentially to the rapid clearing of the backlog of ships."

Note: he also earned the Legion of Merit for his actions at the invasion of Sicily and a gold star in lieu of a second Legion of Merit for his role during the invasion of Salerno, Italy.

Gene E. Oxley, Silver Star
Seaman 1/c Gene E. Oxley was awarded the Silver Star: "For gallantry while on the USS LCI(L)-85 during the assault on the coast of France June 6, 1944, and for extraordinary courage in volunteering and twice taking a line ashore, in the face of heavy machine gun and shell fire, in order to assist troops unloading from the ship to the beach through chest deep water."

Robert M. Salmon, Silver Star
Lieutenant Robert M. Salmon was awarded the Silver Star: "For gallantry as commanding officer of a U.S. LCI (L) while landing assault troops in Normandy, France, June 6, 1944. He pressed the landing of troops despite the mining of his vessel, a serious fire forward and heavy enemy gunfire. He supervised the unloading of troops, directed the fire fighting despite the loss of proper equipment and exhibiting courage of a high degree remained with the ship until it was impossible to control the progress of the fire until it was impossible to control the progress of the fire and it was necessary to abandon ship over the stern. After abandoning he directed a party searching for fire fighting equipment and subsequently fought the fire on another LCI (L) and assisted her commanding officer until she was abandoned."

William F. Trump, Silver Star
Motor Machinist's Mate 1/c William F. Trump was awarded the Silver Star: "For gallantry and intrepidity in action in the assault phase of an LCI (L) which landed troops in the face of severe enemy fire and despite a profusion of beach obstacles on the coast of France June 6, 1944. Having volunteered for the assignment he waded between the heavily mined beach obstacles and dragged an anchor and anchor-line to shallow water, thereby providing a safety line for troops to follow."

Aden C. Unger, Silver Star
Commander Aden C. Unger was awarded the Silver Star: "For outstanding services as a deputy assault group commander in the assault on the coast of France, June 6, 1944. He took his station close to the beach under heavy enemy fire on the day of the assault and remained under fire during the most bitter period of the fighting, when with great coolness he made decisions on the spot, reorganized, grouped and dispatched craft to the beach, and made the weight of his judgment felt in a manner which contributed materially to the success of the operation."

Arend Vyn, Jr., Silver Star
Lieutenant junior grade Arend Vyn was awarded the Silver Star: "For gallantry in action as Commanding Officer of USS LCI 91 in the assault on the coast of France June 6 1944. Lt (jg) Vyn beached his ship and discharged the Army elements therein in the face of murderous fire and a labyrinth of obstacles and mines. In spite of the fact that his ship was mined and repeatedly struck by artillery fire and small-arms fire, he continued to land the army load in the face of certain loss of his ship. His determination to put the Army ashore was in keeping with the highest traditions of the offensive spirit of the United States Naval Service."

Quentin R. Walsh, Navy Cross
Lieutenant Commander (later Captain) Quentin R. Walsh was a member of the Logistics and Planning Section, US Naval Forces during World War II. Prior to the Normandy invasion, he planned the occupation and operation of the ports that were to be captured from the Germans, including Cherbourg. He was awarded the Navy Cross for: "Heroism as Commanding Officer of a U.S. Naval party reconnoitering the naval facilities and naval arsenal at Cherbourg June 26 and 27, 1944. While in command of a reconnaissance party, Commander Walsh entered the port of Cherbourg and penetrated the eastern half of the city, engaging in street fighting with the enemy. He accepted the surrender and disarmed 400 of the enemy force at the naval arsenal and later received unconditional surrender of 350 enemy troops and, at the same time, released 52 captured U.S. Army paratroopers."

Robert G. Ward, Silver Star
Seaman 1/c Robert G. Ward was awarded the Silver Star: "For conspicuous gallantry in action during the landing operations against the enemy on Cotentin Peninsula, France, June 6, 1944. While acting as coxswain of a landing craft in the first wave, Ward successfully landed his troop personnel despite enemy opposition. Upon retracting from the beach he observed the stranded crews from two other landing craft whose boats had been destroyed by enemy mortar fire. Ward returned to the beach, took off both crews despite continued shelling, and returned safely with them to his ship."

Historical links of U. S. Coast Guard websites: Go to Google and click on each one.

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Constitution of the
United States of America

A few great Americans living in the 1700s worked very hard writing a Constitution for our new country, and only a few months later, their mission was accomplished. This document has guided the United States in, war and peace, for more than 200 years. Many Americans have never taken the time to read it and many more don’t have a clue how it was written and established.

I did the research and typed it with two fingers, I hope you will take a few minutes and read how it happened. You will be a better American if you do. It would be difficult to find these high caliber men today that would be willing to work on something like they did. I think some could be found in The Few, The Proud, The Marines. Semper Fidelis <> Always Faithful.

I have a small pocketsize booklet of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. You can get one for yourself at no charge by requesting one through your United States Congressman. If you live in the 1st District of Florida, call or write to Representative Jeff Miller’s office in Pensacola.


It is often asked how 55 men could have assembled in 1787 and in less than four months writes a Constitution that has lasted 224 years. John Adams said, “The deliberate union of so great and various a people in such a place is, without all partiality or prejudice, if not the greatest exertion of human understanding, the greatest single effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen.”

They were unique in as much as they had spent considerable time studying government and political theory and history. They had many years of service in their respective states and some had in fact been involved in drafting their own state constitutions. They were probably the most knowledgeable men in the United States.


By May 25, a quorum of delegates from seven states had arrived in Philadelphia for the Convention. Ultimately, representatives from all the states but Rhode Island attend. Of the 55 participants, over half were lawyers, and 29 attended college. The distinguished public figures included George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, George Mason, Gouverneur Morris, James Wilson, Roger Sherman and Elbridge Gerry.

On the fifth day of the meeting, Edmund Randolph, a delegate from Virginia, offers 15 resolutions making up the “Virginia Plan” of Union rather than amending the Articles of Confederation, the proposal describes completely new organization of government, including a bicameral (upper and lower house) legislature which represents the states proportionately, with the lower house elected by the people and the upper house chosen by the lower body from nominees proposed by the state legislature; an executive chosen by the legislature; a judiciary branch; and a council composed of the executive and members of the judiciary branch with a veto over legislative enactments.

Displeased by Randolph’s plan, which placed the smaller states in a disadvantageous position, William Peterson proposes instead only to modify the Articles of confederation. The New Jersey plan gives Congress power to tax and to regulate foreign and interstate commerce and establishes a plural executive (without veto power) and a supreme court.

June 19, 1787: After debating all the proposals, the Convention decides not merely to amend the Articles of Confederation but to devise a new national government. The question of equal versus proportional representation by states in the legislature now becomes the focus of the debate.

June 21, 1787: The Convention adopts a two-year term for representatives.

June 26, 1887: The Convention adopts a six-year term for Senators.

August 6, 1787: The five-man committee appointed to draft a constitution based upon 23 “fundamental resolutions” drawn up by the convention between July 19 and July 26 submits its documents, which contain 23 articles.

August 6-September 10, 1787: THE GREAT DEBATE. The Convention debates the draft constitution.

August 16, 1787: The Convention grants to Congress the right to regulate foreign trade and interstate commerce.

August 25, 1787: The Convention agrees to prohibit Congress from banning foreign slave trade for twenty years.

September 6, 1787: The Convention adopts a four-year term for the President.

September 8, 1787: A five-man committee, comprising William Samuel Johnson (chair), Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Rufus King and Gouverneur Morris, is appointed to prepare the final draft.

September 12, 1787: The committee submits the draft, penned primarily by Gouverneur Morris, to the Convention.

September 13-15, 1787: The Convention examines the draft clause by clause and makes few changes.

September 17, 1787: All twelve state delegations vote approval of the document. Thirty-nine of the forty-two delegates present sign the engrossed copy, and a letter of transmittal to Congress is drafted. The Convention formally adjourns.

September 20, 1787: Congress receives the proposed Constitution.

Followed was the Bill of Rights, which are the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, and now we have 27 Amendments.

God Bless America and God Bless the United States Constitution of the United States.