Freedom Eagle clawing out of my shoulder.
Freedom Eagle clawing out of my shoulder.
U.S. Army Air Corps Lieutenant Dick Cole’s passing Tuesday, April 9th, raised barely a ripple of interest. But Lt. Cole was a genuine American hero. Today’s youth display scant knowledge, interest or patience with the history of the blood that has been shed to raise them to their current sheltered existence, of which they do much complaining. It is men and women of such courage and dedication to freedom that has assured them that privilege.
Lt. Cole was the last surviving member of an elite group of 80 Airmen who, in one of our country’s darkest hours, gave it hope that by courage and dedication, America and our allies would prevail against the axis forces. Under the command of Colonel James Doolittle, this small band struck the first American offensive blow of the war against Japan, shocking that nation and its leaders to know that America had just begun to fight.
Japanese commanders were humiliated, confused and confounded because they had no idea from where the aircraft had launched the attack. The B-25 medium bomber required 1000-2000 feet minimum of runway to take off. They paused offensive planning and refocused on Midway Island which became a pivotal battle and turning point in the Pacific War.
Of course, the Doolittle Raiders had been launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet in an amazing feat of cooperation between the Navy and Air Corps, a feat that was thought impossible by most everyone except Jimmy Doolittle. His all-volunteer unit had been training and practicing short-runway take-offs without knowing what they were going to be asked to do. When they boarded the Hornet, watching their aircraft being swung aboard they assumed they would be off-loaded elsewhere. Once at sea, Doolittle finally told them the plan. He gave every man a chance, no repercussions, to back out of what seemed like a near-suicide mission. The plan was to get close enough to Japan so that they could make their bombing runs, fly straight on to mainland China to land at a Chinese airstrip. Unfortunately, the small fleet ran across a Japanese fishing trawler. Afraid that the boat had radioed Tokyo of their presence, it was determined that the raid had to be launched immediately – 200 miles farther away from their target than planned. It was almost a guarantee that fuel would not last long enough to reach the safety of the Chinese army lines. Again, every man was given the chance to back out, with no stigma attached. Again, every man stood fast. To make matters worse, the fleet was in storm conditions, the bow of the Hornet dipping so deep that water was spraying over the end of the flight deck. The navy launch officer had to time every dip just right. The pilots would run their engines up to top speed while standing on the brakes, then release and hope the timing was immaculate – which it was for all 16 aircraft. No power assisted take-off was available in those days – just the guts and skill of the pilots and navy personnel.
Though it did little damage, the bombing and strafing of Japan by 16 American aircraft was a scandal that shook the confidence of the Japanese people and their leaders. 15 of the aircraft crashed, 3 men were killed in action, 8 were captured, 3 were executed and one died in captivity. One crew landed in Russia and was quarantined there. The rest miraculously survived after parachuting from aircraft flying on fumes, were rounded up by Chinese nationalist troops and civilians and taken to safety.
The Doolittle Raid is an iconic example of bravery of which all Americans, and especially the youth of our country, should be aware. That the last surviving member of that heroic band of men would pass with so little notice is tragic. How can we expect young Americans to fully appreciate what they have inherited if they do not know, or understand, what has been sacrificed for them.
Semper Fi y’all, I am an 0311 ground pounder from the Montgomery, AL reserve unit that was deployed to Saudi Arabia and saw action near Kuwait City. Our unit was Hotel Company of the 3rd Bn 23rd Marines (4th Div). Our unit followed behind the 2nd Marine Division when they rolled into Kuwait. I guess we were protecting the rear and eventually taking a position outside Kuwait City where we remained for a month or two after all the other units left Kuwait. It seemed to us that there were a few Iraqis who hid from the 2nd Div but grew brave when they saw us as we had a handful of engagements. There was only one Abram attached to our unit so we appeared less intimidating. I rode in the back of a Mercedes cattle truck we comondered after its driver fled the Iraqis. Our truck was 2nd to last in a column because it would get stuck in the sand. The last six bi would push us along. Approaching a small farm village an Iraqi fired at the front of the column. After taking position along the side of the road, the last two trucks were selected to patrol for the “sniper.” Not in an emotionaly healthy state of mind, I volunteered for point. I walked through a couple of goat pins and stood in the gateway of a sheet metal fence. Twelve feet to my left Corporal Rouse our shortest man had a green tracer pierce the fence above his head. I hugged the dirt and watched a sea of red tracers fly toward the grain silo the Iraqis had fired from. Anyway, mostly the Iraqis were ready to surrender. So, there aren’t a lot of combat stories from Kuwait but there are some Storm vets with combat action ribbons. Corporal Vickers 1991.
16-Apr.-2019. Former Marine and Vietnam Veteran L/Cpl James Stogan received the Navy Cross for heroic action in Apr 1967 while serving with Charlie 1/9 as part of machine gun team. He was originally nominated for the Medal Of Honor but there were not enough of the required witness’s available. He is credited with the rescue of his gun team leader who was captured and dragged off by 4 NVA and using only a K-Bar to fight them off. There is a lot more to this story that can be found in the citation SEMPER FI !! Harry 1371
This story is about my Dad Ssgt Kenneth D. Havice ret. He spent 3 terms in Vietnam, receiving 4 Purple Hearts, I’m not for sure where he was but all I know him and the men under him was under heavy fire, one of his men got a non life threatening wound, his Lt. told him as soon as the fire calmed down they would get his wounded Marine to safety, my Dad said no sir, I will get my man now, so on the way back after getting his fellow Marine, my Dad was shot in his arm, not knowing because of his adrenaline, his Lt. said are you in alot of pain, my Dad replied no why? Lt. responded look at your arm, my Dad said he shrugged it off, because it wasn’t his first gun shot wound, Lt. then said I don’t know if your crazy or just brave as HELL, but when we get back I’m putting in the paperwork for a Congressional Medal of honor, well before they could get back the Lt. was K.I.A. so the paperwork never happened, but he did recieve his Purple Heart from a full bird colonel by the name Patton, and after some research he was the son of General George Patton
I was on Recruiting duty from Nov87-Oct90. I was stationed at RSS Santa Fe, New Mexico from RS Albuquerque, New Mexico. I had stopped to fill the gas tank on my GOV. (Government Vehicle) before setting out on another long drive to a rural high school in order to find a highly qualified applicant that had the guts to earn the title of the World’s Finest. Dressed in my Dress Blue uniform, I heard the screeching of tires as a gentleman in a light colored sedan pulled into the service station and right up to me. He got out of the vehicle with determination and I prepared myself for some strong words from a disgruntled civilian. Instead he reached out his hand to shake mine. He said, “I saw you here, and I have always made it a point to stop and shake every Marines hand I can find”. I asked him, Why was that? He told me that if it were not for the Marines that he would not be there to shake my hand. He went on further to explain that he was a pilot during WW2, A B-29 super fortress pilot. He had flown many missions to drop his bombs on Japan and Okinawa. On his last mission over Japan he and his crew had encountered Japanese planes on their return and were shot up severely. They would not be able to make it home to their base. He then told me that he was able to make it to Iwo Jima and land his plane there. He said that the Marines had secured the island only a few days earlier. Still holding my hand and shaking it, He said thank you again, for you and all Marines. “God Bless the Marines” he said, as he turned and got back into his car. As he drove away, I saw that he was teary eyed. I remember thinking about that moment for many days afterward. It was not until I went to see Clint Eastwoods movie, Flag of our Fathers, and saw a similar seen in the movie, were a crippled B-29 made an emergency landing, even as the fighting continued that I remembered that morning clearly. As I drove home that night, after the movie, I had several memories come back to me and it was a difficult night for me, but not as difficult as it has been for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and those that were there on Iwo, and all the other islands, and in Europe, Korea, Vietnam, Beirut, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Bosnia, Desert Shield/Storm, Iraq, And countless other parts of the world where Marines serve faithfully. May we take time to reflect on those that have served, and are serving and the sacrifices that our families make as well, Especially during this holiday season.
Jon K Liebert SGT. USMC
MOS 0321, 1982-1996
During the cold war approximate 300,000 Marines participated in Atomic bomb exercises in Nevada and the South Pacific. Records show that several died early with complications from various forms of cancer under a cloud of uncertainty about those exercises causing the cancer through ionizing radiation that are being disputed to this day. The VA has been drastically improved from the time the studies were initiated and is starting to recognize that there is reason to believe that those exercises had a major part is causing some of the cancers. As more scientific proof is developed there should be more cases presently in the claims process that will be recognized more specifically, for or against granting compensation for a claim. Something like what DNA has done for our legal process.
I enlisted in the Marines in Feb.,1966 while I was a senior. I entered boot camp July, 1966. Went to infantry training a Pendleton and then supply school at Camp Lejeune. When leaving school, we were given three choices. Over seas, west coast, east coast. I chose over seas because I thought being in the Corps for four years I would go to Viet Nam sometime I might as well get it over. When my orders came, they sent ten of us to MACS-2 at Kaneohe Hawaii. Next duty was C&E Bat. at San Diego. As such, I never refer to myself as a Viet Nam Vet. I just served during the war.
Seeing a lot of Vietnam vet posts. Haven’t seen any about 1990,91 Desert Shield/Storm commentaries. I was in 1st LAI Bn TOW plt. We got airlifted out on Labor Day weekend to Saudi Arabia. I suppose some of what I remember most are the exaggerations of the media. Like, I never drank 5 gal of water a day and after getting climatized I drank the same amount of water as I drank back at Pendleton. As far as actually busting caps, I never did, I was the guide and drove the platoon hummer wherever Capt. Freda wanted me to go. When we were sitting in Kuwait airport I found out that about 2/3 of the platoon never fired a shot either. And they were up with the forward units. I was with he supply train about 10 miles back. We sat in the middle of the burning oil wells for about 3 days before moving into the airport and then it ended. Just over a 96 timewise. I’ve only seen a couple of guys wearing Desert Storm covers since then and when I asked them where they were at or which units they were in it seemed like it was a big secret they couldn’t tell me anything. So if there are any Desert Shield/Storm vets out there with more interesting accounts to tell (and you’re not sworn to secrecy) go ahead and write in I would like to read them. And no, I’m not writing a book. R/S Sgt. Pete
While sitting in group the other day someone ask this question. “What were your most scariest days in the service?” After spending 13 months as a gunner in an infantry unit you would think that i would have instantly thought of a day in Nam. I did have some bad days over there but, one thought that came to mind was my first day or two at P.I. I was totally “Scared Sh$%less” I could not take a crap for at least 3 days! I am curious on any other thoughts of your “Scariest Days” in the Corps. Keep in mind that I sit in group with a lot of Army guys and, when I responded it got a lot chuckles. They had no idea what I meant. Anyone else have a similar experience or, was it just me? Bill 0331