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« Reply #150 on: May 24, 2013, 11:51:00 AM »

America's oldest veteran to spend quiet Memorial Day at Texas home
By Joshua Rhett Miller
Published May 24, 2013
FoxNews.com


World War II veteran Richard Overton, left, is seen in his Army uniform in an undated photograph provided by the City of Austin. Overton, 107, sits outside his Texas home earlier this month. (AP/Austin American Statesman)

 For his 107th Memorial Day, Richard Arvine Overton, who saw many of his fellow soldiers fall in the line of duty in World War II and even more die over the following decades, is planning a quiet day at the Texas home he built after returning home from World War II.

He wouldn’t want it any other way.

Overton, who is believed to be the nation's oldest veteran, told FoxNews.com he’ll likely spend the day on the porch of his East Austin home with a cigar nestled in his right hand, perhaps with a cup of whiskey-stiffened coffee nearby.

“I don’t know, some people might do something for me, but I’ll be glad just to sit down and rest,” the Army veteran said during a phone interview. “I’m no young man no more.”

“I’m no young man no more.”
- Richard Overton, 107

Overton, who was born on May, 11, 1906, in Texas’ Bastrop County, has gotten used to being the center of attention of late. In addition to being formally recognized by Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell on May 9, Overton traveled to Washington, D.C., on May 17 as part of Honor Flight, a nonprofit group that transports veterans free of charge to memorials dedicated to their service. Despite serving in the South Pacific from 1942 through 1945, including stops in Hawaii, Guam, Palau and Iwo Jima to name a few, it was Overton’s first time in the nation’s capital.

“I was really honored when I got there,” Overton said of his visit to the World War II Memorial. “There were so many people, it was up in the thousands. And we danced and we jumped … them people tickled me to death. It made me happy as can be.”

The entire experience gave Overton a “good thrill,” he said, and the significance of visiting the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial at a time when an African-American holds the country’s highest elected office was not lost him.

“I was very, very happy,” Overton continued, adding that he wasn’t deterred by Washington’s expansive National Mall. “At my age and my strength, I’m able to stand up and do anything. My mind is good, so I’m able to do what I want.”

Overton credits his longevity to aspirin, which he takes daily, and the relatively stress-free life he’s enjoyed since getting out of the service in October 1945. He then worked at local furniture stores before taking a position with the Texas Treasury Department in Austin. He married twice but never fathered any children and still attends church every Sunday.

“I got good health and I don’t take any medicine,” he said. “I also stay busy around the yards, I trim trees, help with the horses. The driveways get dirty, so I clean them. I do something to keep myself moving. I don’t watch television.”

Overton also passes his time with up to 12 cigars a day and a little whiskey in his morning coffee. The hooch helps keep Overton spry, he said.

“I may drink a little in the evening too with some soda water, but that’s it,” he said. “Whiskey’s a good medicine. It keeps your muscles tender.”

Overton’s secrets may be unorthodox to some, but it’s hard to argue with someone approaching supercentenarian status — an individual aged 110 or older. There are believed to be just 57 people worldwide that meet that classification, including 114-year-old Jeralean Talley, of Inkster, Mich., who is the oldest person in the United States according to the Gerontology Research Group. (Talley, who was born in 1899, reportedly celebrated her birthday on Thursday and passes her time listening to baseball on the radio and watching television.)

Among U.S. veterans, it’s extremely difficult — if not impossible — to confirm Overton’s place as the oldest living former soldier since just roughly 9 million of the nation’s 22 million vets are registered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. But that didn’t stop the city of Austin from recognizing him as the oldest veteran in Texas during his birthday proclamation at City Hall. Mayor Leffingwell, in a statement to FoxNews.com, said Austin is “honored” to call Overton one of its own.

“I’ve spoken with Mr. Overton on a few different occasions, and admire his spirit for life and his country,” the statement read. “He is truly one of our unsung heroes and we are privileged that he calls Austin his home.”

Overton, for his part, believes he’s the oldest veteran in the country, although he said he feels decades younger and doesn’t really embrace the part. He wishes he could spend a few hours this Memorial Day reliving war stories with fellow veterans, but he’s outlived most — if not all — of them.

“I know I had someone from my platoon until recently, but he passed so now I don’t have anyone that I know,” he said. “So I feel lonesome by myself sometimes. I would love to ask some of them some questions, but nobody is here. Everybody’s passed.”

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/05/24/america-oldest-veteran-to-spend-quiet-memorial-day-at-texas-home/
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« Reply #151 on: June 19, 2013, 01:33:54 PM »

Unemployed Texas teacher returns lost bag containing $20G
Published June 19, 2013
Associated Press

An unemployed teacher was driving home after dropping her cat off at a veterinarian when she noticed a bag on the street. She stopped but doubted it contained anything, but soon discovered the bag was holding about $20,000.

Candace Scott said the bag had a Chase bank label, so she promptly delivered it to a nearby branch. She pound on the glass around 8 a.m. Tuesday to get the branch manager to come to the door before the bank opened for business, The Eagle newspaper reported.


"She told me I'm the most honest person in the world, and I said `or the dumbest."'
- Candace Scott

The banker thanked Scott for returning the cash.

"She told me I'm the most honest person in the world, and I said `or the dumbest,"' Scott said.

Scott never knew exactly how much money she returned. Greg Hassell, a Houston-based spokesman for Chase, said Wednesday that the bag contained about $20,000. He declined to release further details citing courier security.

Scott, a former middle school teacher in College Station, at first doubted the bag contained anything worth saving.

"It looked like a gallon-size baggie with a blue zipper on top," Scott said. "It just barely caught my eye, and I thought it was money, then was like, `Nah, it's probably a dirty diaper."'

Scott circled back in time to see a dump truck run over the bag in the middle of the left turn lane. She then stopped and picked up the bag.

"There were two huge bundles of hundred-dollar bills wrapped in rubber bands," Scott said. "The bag had ripped open because of the dump truck, but other than that it was just laying there."

Then she noticed the Chase label on the bag and headed about a block away to a bank branch, knocking on the glass until the manager walked to the door.

"(The bank manager) thought I had been in an accident or somebody had mugged me," Scott said. "I told her `I have y'all's money. She said `What?' and then she thought I was a crazy person. I told her to stay right there while I got it. She saw it and opened that door up as fast as she could."

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/06/19/unemployed-texas-teacher-returns-lost-bag-containing-20g/?test=latestnews
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« Reply #152 on: August 05, 2013, 01:03:44 PM »


Army soldier set to receive Medal of Honor recounts battle with Taliban fighters
Published July 29, 2013
 
Associated Press

July 29, 2013: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter and his wife, Shannon Carter, talk to reporters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. (AP)

 Nearly four years after a day-long firefight that killed eight of his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan, the emotion of that day remains just below the surface for Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, who will receive a Medal of Honor next month for his actions during that attack by Taliban fighters.

Carter, a former Marine who later enlisted in the Army and is currently assigned to the 7th Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, spoke to reporters Monday about the Oct. 3, 2009, battle at a mountain outpost where U.S. troops were outnumbered by about 400 Afghan fighters. In addition to those killed, 25 were injured, including Carter, who suffered hearing loss, shrapnel injuries and a concussion.

"This award is not mine alone," he said. "I am grateful for the service of all the soldiers I fought with that day."

Carter, 33, will be recognized at the White House on Aug. 26 for his actions, which included killing enemy troops, resupplying ammunition to American fighters, rendering first aid and risking his own life to save an injured soldier pinned down by a barrage of enemy fire.

"We are proud to have a soldier like him representing our Army and our nation," said Lt. Col. Joe Sowers, a spokesman for the division.

Carter, who grew up in Spokane, Wash., also has received a Purple Heart. At the time of the battle, he was a specialist assigned to the Black Knight Troop of the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Carson, Colo.

He said he was still in his bunk when the 2009 battle started at about 6 a.m.

"That position was attacked so often that you get used to waking up to machine gun fire," he said.

Carter said he realized it was a serious attack as soon as he stepped through the door of his barracks.

"Concrete, sand, everything was spitting back at me because of the rounds coming in," he said. "I stepped back and got a running start."

He calmly detailed joining the other soldiers and resupplying them with ammunition under heavy fire.

With his wife, Shannon, holding his hand, Carter paused to regain his composure while recounting seeing two fellow soldiers, Staff Sgt. Justin Gallegos and Sgt. Vernon Martin get hit by machine gun fire. Both were killed. He described seeing another, Spc. Stephan Mace, injured by shrapnel, crawling on his elbows.

Carter said Sgt. Bradley Larson wouldn't let him immediately go to Mace because of the heavy firefighting, a decision that Carter is now certain saved his life, even though it was difficult at the time.

"It's very painful to see a good man suffer and then not be able to go to him when you know you can save him," he said, emotion choking his voice.

Later, with Larson providing cover fire, Carter was ultimately able to reach Mace, provide him first aid and get him to safety.

Carter said that when they later learned that Mace had died from his wounds, "there was a sorrow that went through the troop."

He said that if not for the actions of the other soldiers in his troop, and the reinforcements that later arrived during the 12-hour battle, "I might not be here today to speak to you."

"That day we were fighting as one team in one fight," he said.

In February, President Barack Obama bestowed the Medal of Honor on another survivor of that firefight, former Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha. Carter, who served a second tour in Afghanistan last year, didn't attend, he said, because he was working through issues from the battle.

"I'm uncomfortable about being around the families of the fallen because I feel that I owe them so much," he said. "I feel embarrassed to be in their presence because they have lost so much."

Carter said he's been in counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder since the battle, and he hopes to help other soldiers who have the same diagnosis from their military experiences.

Shannon Carter told reporters that it's overwhelming to hear what her husband and fellow soldiers experienced.

"It's heart wrenching. It makes me cry," she said, but she has to remain strong "to help him be strong."

Ty Carter said he doesn't have any bitterness, instead choosing to focus on the fact that they were able to fend off the Afghan fighters in a situation "where an impossible situation became possible."

"That, I can't forget and I don't think anybody else can," he said.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/07/29/army-soldier-set-to-receive-medal-honor-recounts-battle-with-taliban-fighters/?test=latestnews#ixzz2b7vVXGCB
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« Reply #153 on: August 13, 2013, 12:52:07 PM »

Article from a few years ago.  Decent list. 

25 Greatest Americans
James Joyner   ·   Thursday, August 19, 2010   

John Hawkins has polled 44 conservative bloggers to come up with a list of the “25 Greatest Figures In American History.” Compared to his much-panned “25 Worst Figures In American History” list, this one should be rather uncontroversial.

Indeed, the selections pretty closely mirror mine:

22) Douglas MacArthur (6)
22) John Wayne (6)
22) Ayn Rand (6)
22) Lewis & Clark (6)
22) Susan B. Anthony (6)
21) Norman Bourlag (7)
19) Bill Gates (8 )
19) Audie Murphy (8 )
18) Alexander Hamilton (9)
15) Thomas Paine (12)
15) Albert Einstein (12)
15) Jonas Salk (12)
14) Mark Twain (13)
13) Henry Ford (14)
12) Dwight D. Eisenhower (15)
11) George S. Patton (16)
10) The Wright Brothers (20)
9) James Madison (22)
8 ) John Adams (24)
7) Ronald Reagan (27)
5) Thomas Edison (31)
5) Abraham Lincoln (31)
4) Benjamin Franklin (32)
3) Martin Luther King (34)
2) Thomas Jefferson (36)
1) George Washington (42)

Those in bold were on my list as well.   Everyone on my list (which only had 15 people) made the Top 25 except for Alexander Graham Bell and George Marshall.

Notable of those that made the above list and didn’t make mine:  I’d have included Einstein, too, but don’t consider him an American.  I strongly considered Adams but the Alien and Sedition Acts were sufficiently evil to keep him off.  King probably should have made my list, too, but his personal baggage is pretty heavy and I think he actually gets too much credit for changes that the Supreme Court and the American people were in the process of making, anyway.

It’s also noteworthy that Teddy Roosevelt, who’s on Mount Rushmore, made neither my list nor the consensus list.

As with the 25 Worst list, it should be noted that the list is ordered by total number of mentions.  Our submissions were not rank ordered.   Unlike the other list, however, this seems to mostly work out for the 25 Greatest list.

I am, however, puzzled that two people omitted George “The Father of the Freakin’ Country” Washington from their lists and eight omitted Jefferson.   What’s a brother got to do to get some love around here?

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/25-greatest-americans/
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« Reply #154 on: August 26, 2013, 12:56:45 PM »

Soldier gets Medal of Honor for heroic efforts in Afghanistan firefight
Published August 26, 2013
FoxNews.com

Aug. 26, 2013: President Obama awards U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ty M. Carter the Medal of Honor, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C.

Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter received the Medal of Honor on Monday for his efforts in Afghanistan during a firefight with Taliban forces in which eight of his fellow soldiers were killed.

Carter received the medal from President Obama during a White House ceremony, where the nation honors his "selfless courage."

The battle erupted Oct. 3, 2009, at a mountain outpost where U.S. troops were outnumbered by about 400 Afghan fighters, Carter recently told reporters.

In addition to those killed, 25 were injured, including Carter, who suffered hearing loss, shrapnel injuries and a concussion.

Among his heroic efforts, Carter, 33, killed enemy troops and resupplied ammunition to American fighters, rendering first aid and risking his own life to save an injured soldier pinned down by a barrage of enemy fire.

“That outpost was being slammed,” Obama said. “It was chaos. … He displayed the essence of true heroism.” 

Carter was accompanied to the White House by several soldiers in the battle and 40 family members including his parents, wife and three children

Carter -- who grew up in Spokane, Wash. -- also has received a Purple Heart. At the time of the battle, he was a specialist assigned to the Black Knight Troop of the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Carson, Colo.

He said he was still in his bunk when the 2009 battle started at about 6 a.m.

"That position was attacked so often that you get used to waking up to machine gun fire," he said recently.

The president also used the ceremony to highlight the problem of post-traumatic stress disorder, from which Carter suffers and has sought help. He also has spoken out about the issue.

"Now he want wants to help other troops," Obama said. "I say this to other troops, 'Look at this soldier."

After the ceremony, Carter told reporters: "Please take the time to learn about the invisible wounded. If you know a soldier or veteran suffering from PTSD, they are some of the most passionate, dedicated men or women you will ever meet. They are not damaged."

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/08/26/soldier-gets-medal-honor-for-repeated-heroic-efforts-in-afghanistan-firefight/#ixzz2d6g3Qtn7
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« Reply #155 on: September 17, 2013, 11:45:45 AM »

Homeless man in Boston honored by police for turning in backpack full of cash, checks
Published September 17, 2013
FoxNews.com


Sept. 16, 2013: Glen James, of Boston, left, smiles in the direction of members of the media as Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis, right, looks on during a news conference at the police headquarters, in Boston. (AP)

A homeless man in Boston was honored Monday for flagging down police after he discovered a bag filled with $2,400 in cash and nearly $40,000 in travelers checks, The Boston Globe reported.

Last summer, Glen James, who is in his 50s and lives in a homeless shelter, noticed a young man at the South Bay plaza in Boston leave behind a large bag, the report said. James observed the bag’s contents, and alerted police because “God has always very well looked after me.”

“Even if I were desperate for money, I would not have kept even a penny,” he wrote in a statement due to embarrassment about a speech impediment.

James received a citation from Boston’s police commissioner and there has been a website made, www.gofundme.com/4by2as,  to raise money for James, who said he receives food stamps and panhandles at times because “It’s just nice to have some money in one’s pockets so that as a homeless man I don’t feel absolutely broke all the time.”

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/09/17/homeless-man-in-boston-honored-by-police-for-turning-in-backpack-full-cash/?intcmp=latestnews#ixzz2fB2eYQkD
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« Reply #156 on: September 17, 2013, 11:48:01 AM »

Vietnam Veteran Retires after 42 Years of Service
Sep 09, 2013
DVIDS| by Sgt. Lori Bilyou



BETHANY BEACH, Del. - Delaware National Guard members witnessed history Saturday, Sept. 7, as they gathered along with family and friends to honor the retirement of Army Master Sgt. Richard Hitchens, the last active member of the Delaware Army National Guard who served in Vietnam.

“This is truly the end of an era,” said Army Maj. Gen Francis D. Vavala, adjutant general for the DNG, who said that Hitchens epitomized the term soldier.

Speaking to those assembled, Hitchens stated, “One day back in May of 1968 my mother and father took me to the bus station in Salisbury, Md., put me on a Trailways bus and I shipped off for the rest of my life. I committed. I committed myself to the country.”

Hitchens, the youngest of 11 children, grew up on a farm. Like seven of his brothers who joined the army before him, Hitchens was looking for a better life. So in 1968, at the age of 16, Hitchens enlisted with a doctored birth certificate.

“I remember thinking I’d made a mistake when I got to basic training,” Hitchens said.

“I told the drill sergeant I was only 16 because I wanted to go home. He just said ‘I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.’”

By 1969, Hitchens was in Vietnam serving as a radio telephone operator for a forward observer unit with the 1st Cavalry Division. In September, a little more than a year after he’d boarded the Trailways bus, Hitchens was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with valor for his actions during a firefight.

“We were out for a 30-day mission on patrol when we got pinned down,” Hitchens explained.

“The machine gunners were screaming for ammo but everyone was either dead or wounded. We were about to be overrun. I remember thinking I can’t die here. I grabbed ammo and started running it up to the gunners. I became the assistant gunner and helped lay down fire.”

The war and the sentiment in the country changed things for Hitchens. When he finished his service obligation he didn’t reenlist but instead returned home. For three years Hitchens hung out with his friends, friends who hadn’t gone to war.

“They had no concept of what I had gone through,” Hitchens said. “The only people who had any concept of all the trauma and things I went through were people in uniform. I still hadn’t decompressed from the war.”

In 1977, a friend who was in the DNG asked Hitchens if he’d think about joining. At the time, the DNG had a program called Try One, which allowed members to join the Guard for only one year to see if they liked it. Hitchens did and he’s never looked back.

“The Delaware National Guard became my family,” Hitchens said.

By then a sergeant, Hitchens joined the 2198th Maintenance Company in Dagsboro, Del. as a small arms repairman. Around soldiers again, Hitchens finally began to decompress and started on the path that would eventually lead him to become the company’s first sergeant serving all but the last year of his service with the unit.

“I played the hand I was dealt and I won,” Hitchens said. “If you’d told Richard Hitchens years ago that he was going to be first sergeant he would have laughed at you.”

As first sergeant, Hitchens deployed to Iraq in 2009 with the maintenance company, which had by then been renamed the 262nd. At that time Hitchens brought with him more than 38 years of experience in service and felt he had a lot to offer the soldiers under him.
 
“A lot of these kids had never been out of Sussex county, let alone Iraq, so they were scared to death. That’s how I felt when I left Sussex county years ago and went to Vietnam,” Hitchens said. “I know that feeling and what it takes to move beyond it.”

Hitchens also knows how hard it is to readjust after coming home.

“I came home from Vietnam on a Monday, was processed out by Tuesday morning. Tuesday morning I was on flight home for 30 days [rest and relaxation] and by Wednesday afternoon I was walking on the streets around town,” Hitchens said. “There was no transition.”

When the 262nd returned from Iraq in 2010, Hitchens resisted a transfer to battalion insisting he be able to stay for an additional two years in order to care for the soldiers while they transitioned back to their civilian lives.

Now retired after nearly 43 years of service, Hitchens wants to continue helping soldiers by working as a counselor at the Georgetown Veterans Administration Hospital.

“I do things for friends of mine who I served with in Vietnam, who I watched die, who I held in my arms, who died in my arms. I do things for them, the things that they wanted to do, the things they couldn’t do. That drives me,” Hitchens said.
 
“I want to be the first one in my family to get his college degree. Out of all my brothers and sisters, if I can succeed in this, I’ll be the first one.”
“He’s inspiring,” said Pvt. Spencer Bradford, a new recruit to the DNG who leaves for basic training Monday. “When he was talking, I kind of felt heartfelt. That’s pretty powerful stuff.”

Now 62, Hitchens is enrolled full time at Delaware Technical Community College to earn a degree in human services counseling.

His parting message to the soldiers assembled to see him off: keep moving forward.

“What you’re doing now is probably going to be one of the greatest things that each and every one of you will ever do in your life,” Hitchens said. “I hate to think where I would be, if I never put the uniform on.”

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2013/09/09/vietnam-veteran-retires-after-42-years-of-service.html?comp=7000023435630&rank=7
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« Reply #157 on: September 19, 2013, 01:04:26 PM »

Hawaii's last living Medal of Honor hero is hailed by Congress
The Marine sergeant saved his men in an act that is "the stuff of legends,"lawmaker says
By William Cole
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Sep 19, 2013


Allan Kellogg Jr. (center), a 69-year-old Vietnam vet, saved fellow Marines by smothering a grenade in a rice paddy.

The U.S. House of Representatives recognized all living Medal of Honor recipients Wednesday, reciting the acts of bravery that went far above and beyond the call of duty.

Hawaii is down to just one still living here: retired Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Allan Kellogg Jr. of Kailua.

Kellogg, a 69-year-old Vietnam vet, saved fellow Marines by smothering a grenade in a rice paddy.

U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis, a Republican from Illinois, and Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii Demo­crat, co-hosted the House session Wednesday to recognize all living Medal of Honor recipients.

According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, there are 80 living recipients.

"Since the first Medal of Honor was given on March 25, 1853, only 3,461 individuals have earned it," Davis said.

Medal of Honor recipients get together each year for a convention, and a gathering in Gettysburg, Pa., today through Saturday is expected to draw more than 45 with the blue ribbon and gold medal. Last year's meeting was in Hono­lulu.

Gabbard, herself a combat veteran for her service in Iraq with the Hawaii National Guard, recognized Kellogg on the House floor for his actions in 1970 in Vietnam.

"Under the leadership of Sgt. Kellogg, a small unit from Company G was evacuating a fallen comrade when the unit came under enemy fire from the surrounding jungle. What he did is the stuff of legends," Gabbard said.

"After an enemy soldier hurled a hand grenade at the Marines, Sgt. Kellogg quickly forced the grenade into the mud, threw himself over the grenade and absorbed the full effects of its detonation with his body, saving his unit," she said. "Although suffering multiple injuries to his chest and his right shoulder, Sgt. Kellogg continued to direct his men until all reached safety."

Gabbard said in a release that she was "proud and honored" to recognize the actions and sacrifices of the fellow Kailua resident.

"He is a part of an elite group, which includes the likes of our very own Sen. Daniel K. Ino­uye, who selflessly gave everything in the service of our nation," Gabbard said. "These incredible heroes have been awarded our nation's highest military decoration for valor in combat. Their humble examples of what it means to be a true servant leader continue to serve as an inspiration to us all."

Hawaii has had more than its share of recipients.

Twenty-two Asian-American soldiers were recognized for their World War II heroism when their service awards were upgraded to Medals of Honor in 2000.

Most were with the 100th Infantry Battalion or 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Ten of those 22 mostly Japa­nese-American soldiers survived the war, three died before the Medals of Honor were awarded and seven living recipients were honored in Washington, D.C., including five living in Hawaii.

Among them was Ino­uye, who gave his right arm charging machine-gun nests in Italy, and who died Dec. 17 at 88.

Other Medal of Honor recipients who lived in Hawaii at that time included Barney Hajiro, Shi­zuya Haya­shi, Yeiki Koba­shi­gawa and Yukio Oku­tsu, the Pentagon said.

http://www.staradvertiser.com/newspremium/20130919__Hawaiis_last_living_Medal_of_Honor_hero___is_hailed_by_Congress_.html?id=224362611
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« Reply #158 on: September 20, 2013, 12:52:09 PM »

Vietnam veterans get medals for heroic actions

(AP) SAN DIEGO - Two Vietnam veterans were awarded the Silver and Bronze Star medals Friday for their courage in a battle on a jungle hillside where more than 75 percent of the troops with them that day were killed or wounded.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in his citation to the president that Joe Cordileone and Robert Moffatt showed extraordinary heroism during the first Battle of Khe Sanh in 1967. Marine Brig. Gen. James Bierman apologized to the veterans for the 46-year-wait, saying "I’m sorry that it took so long for these awards to work their way around to you."

The men were never recognized until now because the commanders who make such recommendations were killed: Of the more than 100 American troops on the hill, 27 were killed and 50 were wounded.

The pursuit for medals for the men started with a retired Marine general listening to a group of veterans reminisce about April 30, 1967, when troops with Company M, 3rd Marine Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, advanced to secure Hill 881 South and were attacked by the North Vietnamese Army.

Maj. Gen. John Admire said he was shocked to learn not one of the survivors had a medal.

Retired Pfc. Cordileone still has shrapnel in his face from the fighting. He continued firing for about eight hours after getting hit by fragments from the explosions as he carried his platoon commander, who was killed when a second mortar hit. Moffatt suffered severe head wounds after taking over the machine gun from a wounded comrade, saving American lives.

"I knew we had to remedy this because there was no doubt in my mind that what they did was absolutely courage beyond belief," Admire said.

Admire conducted research to verify the veterans’ stories. Thanks to his efforts, six Marines have received medals for that day, including Cordileone, now the chief deputy city attorney for San Diego, and Moffatt, a retired cost estimator who lives in Riverside.

The Navy says Cordileone’s efforts saved the lives of at least 10 Marines.

Cordileone at one point dragged Moffatt to a bomb crater for safety and tried to stop the bleeding from his cheek by dressing the wound. He recalled with a laugh how Moffatt gestured for him to pull it off and when he did, Moffatt told him "You idiot, I can’t breathe."

Both men still suffer from post-traumatic stress. Moffatt continues to see doctors for traumatic brain injury.

Cordileone said he was humbled his fellow Marines would recommend him for the award.

"The truth is I was just doing my job," he said at the ceremony attended by parents of recruits graduating Friday from boot camp. "I did nothing more than any other Marine would have done in the same situation, and I certainly know that I did no more than any other Marine or corpsman who climbed hill 881 with me that day."

Retired Pfc. Moffatt accepted his award in memory of his fallen comrades.

"I can go to my grave with some peace of mind and say well somebody appreciated what I tried to do," he said after the ceremony.

The Navy Secretary had to cancel his appearance at the ceremony at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot because of Monday’s shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard.

http://www.kaaltv.com/article/stories/S3166152.shtml?cat=10159
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« Reply #159 on: October 10, 2013, 05:19:24 PM »

HERO'S FAREWELL WWII airman missing since '44 to get full military burial


Only a sole surviving sibling has a distant memory of a World War II pilot whose recently identified remains will be buried Saturday with full military honors in Utah.

U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Vernal J. Bird had more than a dozen brothers and sisters when he crashed over a Pacific Ocean island nearly 70 years ago. He disappeared over Papua New Guinea on a 1944 bombing run of Japanese airfields there. He was 25.

The crash site was discovered 12 years ago, but it wasn't until this summer that the Air Force was able to identify partial remains found there as belonging to Bird.

This week, about 150 distant relatives showed up at the Salt Lake airport as those remains -- only a single leg bone was recovered -- arrived inside a flag-draped casket on an airliner.

None of them knew Bird personally. His younger sister, Elaine Bird Jack of Eugene, Ore., is his lone surviving sibling and the only one who has a memory of him, said Lorna Bird Snyder, the airman's 66-year-old niece.

The 92-year-old Jack is in Utah for the burial at Evergreen Cemetery in Springville, Snyder told The Associated Press. She was the 13th child of the family; Bird was the 12th.

Jack provided a DNA sample that was used to identify her brother's fibula, the outer and thinner of the long bones of a lower leg.

Relatives are hoping a full excavation of the crash site will yield more remains, Snyder said.

The Air Force is moving cautiously because a 500-pound unexploded bomb is still attached to the A-20G Havoc bomber.

The remains of Bird's co-pilot, Staff Sgt. Roy Davis from New Hampshire, have not been found.

The crash site on a forested mountainside was discovered in 2001 by a Papuan national, who delivered the fibula along with engine identification plates of the bomber to an American recovery team.

The Air Force identified the bone as Bird's in July.

In the airman's last letter to his family, he described how he flew his light bomber barely above tree-top level, saying "we fly right in the leaves at times." It was written two days before his bomber went down March 12, 1944.


His niece spent years researching where -- over the Pacific Ocean or New Guinea -- his plane might have gone down. She compared boxes of the airman's letters against records of the American-Australian effort against the Japanese.

If not for Snyder's dogged efforts, the recovered bone might never have gotten a DNA comparison.

Vernal Bird was born Oct. 29, 1918, in Lindon to Walter F. and Christina Pearsson Ash Bird. He attended schools in Lindon and Pleasant Grove. The family later moved to Springville, another Utah County town, according to an obituary.

Although Jack is the only one who knew Bird personally, relatives never forgot him, Snyder said. They kept the airman's smiling portrait among family mementos.

"My parents of course loved him," Snyder said. "They instilled in us that Vernal was an honorable, brave, intelligent young man. We loved his picture."

http://www.foxnews.mobi/quickPage.html?page=22995&content=98114392&pageNum=-1
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« Reply #160 on: October 15, 2013, 12:15:22 PM »

Afghan war vet presented with Medal of Honor

Published October 15, 2013 • FoxNews.com

A former Army captain, whose actions were recorded in a dramatic helmet cam-video, received the nation's highest military honor on Tuesday for his bravery in one of the deadliest firefights of the Afghanistan war.

William D. Swenson was awarded the Medal of Honor Tuesday for his "extraordinary heroism" in a lengthy battle against the Taliban in the Ganjgal valley near the Pakistan border on Sept. 8, 2009, which claimed the lives of five Americans, 10 Afghan army troops and an interpreter.

At the time, Swenson was an embedded trainer and mentor with the Afghan National Security Forces in Kunar Province in eastern Afghanistan. He risked his life to recover bodies and help save fellow troops.

Some of Swenson's actions were captured in a helmet-cam video. President Obama, in announcing the award at the White House, noted this may be the first time a recipient's actions were captured on film. It was also the second time in nearly a half-century that two survivors of the same battle were given the Medal of Honor. Another man who fought in the battle, Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer, was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2011.

"In moments like this, Americans like Will remind us of what our country can be at its best," Obama said, in a subtle comment on the divisions in Washington over the budget. 

The 2009 firefight was followed by internal disciplinary actions in the U.S. military.

Swenson complained to military leaders after the fight that many of his calls for help were rejected by superior officers. Two Army officers were reprimanded for being "inadequate and ineffective" and for "contributing directly to the loss of life" following an investigation into the day's events.

Four Americans died in the ambush: 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, a 25-year-old from Virginia Beach; Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, 30, of Roswell, Ga.; Corpsman James Layton, 22, of Riverbank, Calif.; and Edwin Wayne Johnson Jr., a 31-year-old gunnery sergeant from Columbus, Ga. A fifth man, Army Sgt. Kenneth W. Westbrook, 41, of Shiprock, N.M., later died from his wounds.

The military says Swenson's initial medal nomination was lost.

Swenson, 34, retired from the military in February 2011. He has a Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal and lives in Seattle.

Swenson was the sixth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama also attended Tuesday's medal ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/10/15/obama-presenting-medal-honor-to-afghan-war-vet/?intcmp=latestnews
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« Reply #161 on: October 16, 2013, 10:18:36 AM »

Army Ranger believed to be unconscious salutes during Purple Heart ceremony

Published October 16, 2013
FoxNews.com

Army Ranger Josh Hargis was unconscious, hooked to a breathing tube at a military hospital in Afghanistan after losing both his legs in battle last week.

But when the Purple Heart ceremony began at Hargis’ bedside, it turned out he was not unconscious, as doctors believed. Instead, he struggled with an attending doctor to raise his heavily bandaged hand to salute a commanding officer presenting him with the medal.

"I cannot impart on you the level of emotion that poured through the intensive care unit that day," the commander wrote to the Ranger's wife. "Grown men began to weep, and we were speechless at a gesture that speaks volumes about Josh's courage and character."

"Grown men began to weep, and we were speechless at a gesture that speaks volumes about Josh's courage and character."
- Commanding officer

There were about 50 fellow Rangers, doctors and nurses in the hospital room during the ceremony. The commanding officer said the salute was the “most beautiful” any person in the room had ever seen.

"I'm overwhelmed. I'm overwhelmed that that’s my boy, that he could come from me. Yeah, I'm overwhelmed," Jim Hargis, the 24-year-old's father, told Fox 19.

Hargis, who is expecting a baby with his wife, was injured in an explosion while his unit, the 3rd Ranger Battalion, was searching for a high-value target in Panjwaj, Afghanistan, the Fox 19 report said. Four other soldiers died in the attack.

His father told the station that the troops had just inspected a man for bombs, and then a woman came by and exploded. While the troops were responding to the explosion, other IEDs planted in the area detonated, including one Hargis stepped on.

Hargis will be moved to a military hospital in San Antonio, Texas, for further treatment.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/10/16/army-ranger-believed-to-be-unconscious-salutes-during-purple-heart-ceremony/
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« Reply #162 on: November 04, 2013, 01:18:10 PM »

Army honors a patient WWII veteran

( Chuck Berman, Chicago Tribune / November 3, 2013 )

World War II veteran Frank Andrews, right, was honored at a ceremony Sunday at the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. He was awarded his medals by Brig. Gen. Gracus Dunn, left, and Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Greene.

( Andrews family photo / August 5, 2013 )

Frank Andrews served in the infantry and later in the Army Air Forces during World War II.

By Krystyna Slivinski, Special to the Tribune
November 3, 2013

It could be said that Des Plaines resident Frank Andrews, 94, an Army World War II veteran, is a patient man.

After all, he waited 68 years to receive the medals he earned during his service that included his actions on Omaha Beach on D-Day and later in the Battle of the Bulge.

While Andrews received the medals in the mail over the summer, members of the Army's 85th Support Command in Arlington Heights decided a ceremony full of military pomp, color guard and music was in order.

The mission was kept a secret until Sunday, when Andrews arrived at the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. There, more than 150 people, including his family, local officials and more than 80 military members, had gathered to surprise him with an elaborate ceremony.

"I thought they were going to present me with the medals and then say 'Adios,'" said Andrews after the ceremony. "This was a complete surprise. I never expected this."

Andrews, a native of Chicago, was drafted in 1943. He served in the infantry and later in the Army Air Forces as a signalman. He was injured twice before being discharged in 1945. He earned several medals that included the Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal and the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal.

However, Andrews never received them. At the time, he didn't inquire why.

"I had a son who was 3 years old and I didn't have a job and I had to go and hustle, so medals didn't mean anything back then," Andrews said.

He raised four children in Chicago and retired from the U.S. Postal Service, where he worked coordinating military mail at O'Hare International Airport. By the 1980s, with more time on his hands, Andrews found out in talking with other veterans that there was a way for him to get those medals.

So he filled out the paperwork and waited. Instead of the awards, he was sent a notice that the medals were out of stock. Not one to make a fuss, Andrews figured that when the Army was ready, it would send them over. But somehow they never arrived.

"I'm not really sure what happened there," said Anthony Taylor, a spokesman for the 85th Support Command.

Andrews waited until this year to bring up the issue with his son, Larry Andrews, and showed him the paperwork from 1984 that said the Army would send the medals when they had them.

"I saw it this summer and my dad was like, 'Do you think I'm waiting too long for this?'" said Larry Andrews.

After making a few calls, every medal awarded to Andrews was mailed to him. The 85th Support Command learned of the story and began working with Andrews' family to find out more about his service. In doing so, the family began to better understand the contribution their father made during World War II.

"To be honest we could never get him to talk about his time in the war. … It wasn't until now that he started talking," his son said.

The honor of handing Andrews the medals went to Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Greene and Brig. Gen. Gracus Dunn.

"Think about how much patience we (don't) have today," Dunn said. "But not Frank Andrews. You honor us with your presence."

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/des_plaines/ct-tl-cantigny-war-medals-1107-20131108,0,6940592.story
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« Reply #163 on: November 06, 2013, 10:34:51 AM »

7 first-class passengers give up seats to Marines returning from Afghanistan

Published November 06, 2013
FoxNews.com

Fourteen Marines on their way home from serving in Afghanistan were upgraded to first class on their flight from Chicago to San Diego.

The Marines learned that American Airlines - which has a policy to upgrade servicemen and women in uniform whenever possible - had six empty seats in first class for the group. That gesture was followed by seven first-class passengers who jumped out of their seats for the other Marines so they could sit together.

"It was incredibly touching," Capt. Pravin Rajan said in a telephone interview from Camp Pendleton in California. "Afghanistan is a very complex and ambiguous war ... and a difficult thing to keep track of so it is amazing when we are 10 years (into) a war and there is still that kind of community, that level of support, the level of willingness to go out of one's way."

The welcome home started with a phone call. Stephanie Hare, a native of Illinois who now works in England, called the USO at O'Hare and explained that her fiance, Rajan, who had served seven months in Afghanistan, was with a dozen other Marines on a plane bound for Chicago from Baltimore.

"I just thought if they could get them some Chicago pizza, champagne or something, that would mean a lot," she said.

On the other end of the line was John Colas, a 74-year-old former Marine USO volunteer. He told Hare he'd try to do something in the hour or so before the flight landed. But he cautioned that while volunteers make an effort to welcome military personnel whenever they come through the airport, he wasn't sure he could pull anything off in such a short time.

Colas got on the phone with the police and fire departments, the airlines and anyone else he could think of.

"There must have been 15 Chicago firemen and an equal number of Chicago police and they formed a corridor for the Marines when they got off the airplane," he said.

Rajan said the Marines didn't know what to make of it, starting with the slightly unnerving experience of looking out a plane window to see a fire truck.

"For a second, we were like, 'Are we in trouble?'" he said.

After they realized the reception was for them, the Marines soaked in the scene, even as they said police officers hustled them off to another gate so they'd make their flight to San Diego.

"They were just so thankful - very, very appreciative," said Linda Kozma, an American Airlines employee who helps military personnel flying in and out of O'Hare.

Hare didn't know about any of it until she woke up Tuesday and heard Rajan relating the whole story in a voice mail.

"I just thought it was really beautiful," she said.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/11/06/7-first-class-passengers-give-up-seats-to-marines-returning-from-afghanistan/
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« Reply #164 on: November 11, 2013, 01:03:18 PM »

Wish I could shake this man's hand.

Oldest known WWII veteran honored at Arlington ceremony
Published November 11, 2013
FoxNews.com


Richard Overton, the oldest living WWII veteran, listens during a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.AP

The oldest known veteran of World War II was honored with a thunderous standing ovation during a ceremony Monday at Arlington National Cemetery, as President Obama and the rest of the nation paid tribute to 107-year-old Richard Overton's service.

The tribute to Overton was a stand-out moment at Monday's Veterans Day ceremonies, as details emerged about Overton's visit. Earlier in the day, the Texas man met with Obama and Vice President Biden, along with other veterans, during a White House breakfast.

"This is the life of one American veteran, living proud and strong in the land he helped keep free," Obama said during the ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Though he uses a wheelchair, Overton can still stand -- and did so, as the crowd applauded his service.

Overton served in the Pacific during World War II, and Obama regaled the audience with his accomplishments. "He was there at Pearl Harbor when the battleships were still smoldering. He was there at Okinawa. He was there at Iwo Jima," Obama said.

When he returned from the war, Overton went back to Texas, where he built a house for him and his wife -- the house he still lives in today. The president said Overton still rakes his own lawn, and still drives ladies in his neighborhood to church every Sunday.

According to a profile on Overton in USA Today, his attendance at Monday's ceremony was set up after Overton visited the World War II Memorial and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial as part of an Honor Flight Austin trip back in May. Overton reportedly wondered what it would be like to meet the president, and the visit was later arranged.

During the war, Overton was a member of the Army's 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion and reportedly volunteered for service.

He attributes his longevity in part to drinking a tablespoon of whiskey in his coffee and smoking a dozen cigars a day, according to the article.

Obama used his remarks Monday to remind the nation that thousands of service members are still at war in Afghanistan. The war is expected to formally conclude at the end of next year, though the U.S. may keep a small footprint in the country.

As the Afghan war comes to a close, Obama said the nation has a responsibility to ensure that the returning troops are the "best cared-for and best respected veterans in the world." The country's obligations to those who served "endure long after the battle ends," he said.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/11/11/obama-honors-veterans-at-wreath-laying-breakfast/
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« Reply #165 on: December 17, 2013, 10:06:40 AM »

Veterans, dignitaries commemorate Battle of the Bulge on 69th anniversary
December 16, 2013
By    J.D. Leipold






 

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 16, 2013) -- For the last 20 years, World War II veterans and the ambassadors of Belgium and Luxembourg have gathered annually in mid-December at Arlington National Cemetery to pay tribute to the 19,000 American Soldiers who gave their lives in the Battle of the Bulge, which raged in Europe between Dec. 16, 1944, and Jan. 25, 1945.

Ambassadors each rested a wreath at the battle's memorial, which honors the 120,000 Americans who fought in the Army's largest land battle in history. Following the ceremony, a wreath was also laid at the Tomb of the Unknowns by the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge Association.

"The service this morning is to honor those of our veterans who have passed away as well as those who are still present and can render honors and carry on this tradition each year," said Doug C. Dillard, who serves as president of the association. "Today, we have thousands of our Soldiers in harm's way, and we wish them the best, and that they will come home soon."

Dillard fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and served then as a sergeant with the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion.

Following the presentation of the wreaths, Dillard spoke briefly about his time in the Ardenne Forrest.

"I remember we came in on the eighth of January. After a week of slugging it out with artillery, mortars and small-arms fire, we only had 98 people left in our battalion," Dillard said. They had started with 600 men. "The 551st was deactivated in the field and those of us remaining were reassigned to the 82nd Airborne Division."

Following the war, the Army was awarding direct commissions to senior non-commissioned officers. Dillard became the first direct-commission second lieutenant in 3rd Army. He retired as a colonel in 1977, with 37-years of service.

Aside from being the most territorially expansive battle of World War II, stretching along the Siegfried Line from the Netherlands border to Belgium and Luxembourg, the conflict was essentially the Third Reich's final offensive effort to stop the Allied push into Germany.

With 500,000 German soldiers moving at breakneck pace against 60,000 American and 55,000 British troops, the Axis forces laid ambush in an attempt to encircle the Allies and force a negotiated peace in the heavily forested Ardennes region of eastern Belgium and northern Luxembourg. Canteen water froze solid as did the warriors from both sides, who died from wounds or exposure and morphed into gruesome and frozen statues.

"Cold, freezing cold, snow every day and up to your butt and hail ... that's what you had to remember; you had to function no matter what," recalled George L. Watson, who was 20 when he enlisted as a survey and instrument man in a heavy weapons company with the 87th Inf. Div. "We weren't adequately clothed when the battle broke out and there was a lot of trench foot until the Army gave us rubbers for our feet.

"We lived in foxholes and would put tree boughs over to avoid the airburst and other trees falling around us from blasts," the New Yorker said. "You fought every day to survive and hoped to just keep moving to stay warm. If you stopped you frequently fell asleep on your feet with your rifle supporting you. No Christmas meal, just K-rations and more K-rations ... I hate Spam to this day."

Another heavy weapons Soldier, John McAulliffe, came in with the 347th Regt. He was a replacement specialist in 81mm mortars, and would move through three more campaigns, which ended with V-E Day.

"That was a great day when the 11th Panzer Division surrendered to us," said McAulliffe.

"We stopped pushing about four miles from the Czech border and stayed for maybe a month doing occupation work and then we were scheduled to go home, which we did in July," he said. "We had a month's furlough and then were scheduled to do the invasion of Japan, but the bomb was dropped."

Brig. Gen. Mike Paul Delobel, Belgium Defense Attaché attended the event. He said the commemoration was important to himself and staff but also to the youth of today.

"It's important to remember these veterans and what they did for us nearly 70 years ago," he said. "It's also important that our young people remember so they can make sure it doesn't happen again."

By the end of the battle, Germany had suffered 85,000 casualties with more than 17,000 killed. The battle so depleted the Reich's war-making resources, that it would unconditionally surrender, May 8, 1945, Victory in Europe Day.

http://www.army.mil/article/117074/Veterans__dignitaries_commemorate_Battle_of_the_Bulge_on_69th_anniversary/
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« Reply #166 on: December 23, 2013, 01:35:01 PM »

Widow, 94, receives remains of fallen husband, killed in Korean War
After 63 years of holding out hope her husband would someday return, Clara Gantt finally gets closure.


Clara Gantt, the 94-year-old widow of U.S. Army Sgt. Joseph Gantt, weeps in front of her husband's casket at Los Angeles International Airport.







By Samantha Schaefer
December 20, 2013, 7:18 p.m.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Gantt told his wife to remarry if he didn't come back from the war. She told him no. He had a hard enough time getting her to say yes when he proposed. He was it.

In 1950, Gantt went missing during combat in the Korean War. He was presumed dead, but Clara Gantt, now 94, held out hope and never remarried.

On Friday morning on the Los Angeles International Airport tarmac, the widow stood from her wheelchair and cried as her husband's flag-draped casket arrived home. He was one of hundreds of U.S. soldiers whose remains have been turned over by the North Korean government in recent years.

"I told him I missed him so much," she said softly. "And I expect him to come home and he didn't."

He never saw the house in Inglewood, just a few miles from where she greeted his remains. He hated yardwork, and never wanted the hassle of owning a home. She bought him one anyway and hired a gardener so he could do whatever he pleased when he came home to her.

A wall of her bedroom is covered with military certificates and photos — his barracks, him in front of a white picket fence during World War II, his father. A copy of her picture — the one he always kept with him — stands nearby. A teddy bear in army fatigues sits in her living room, near an American flag with his photo tucked into the glass display.

She's afraid to hang his medals, which include the Bronze Star with Valor, awarded posthumously, and a Purple Heart, for fear they'd be stolen during one of many break-ins that have happened on the street where she's lived since the 1960s. She would rather they be safe in a museum.

Gantt said she never stopped waiting for word, but she forged ahead with her own life. She worked for years as a caregiver for people with disabilities, as well as children. She and her husband had always wanted to have kids, and working with them gave her pleasure.

"I would just pray and ask the Lord to let me live until they find a closure for him so I can be here to put him away myself," she said, wearing a dog tag with his photo printed on it given to her at the morning ceremony.

Joseph Gantt joined the Army in 1942 and served in the South Pacific during WWII. Clara was one of 18 children who grew up on a farm in Texas. She tired of being at home, she said, so in her 20s she used the money she saved working in a cafeteria to take a train to California. It was on the train the two met in 1946, when Joseph beat his fellow soldiers to speaking to the woman who would two years later become his wife.

They were sweethearts for a long time because she refused to marry him — she feared he might already have a wife. She wrote "Uncle Sam" to get the truth, and finally agreed when the answer she was looking for came along.

They lived in Fort Lewis, Washington until he left for the Korean War, assigned as a field medic, Battery C, 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division.

In December 1950, she received a letter from him and $100 for Christmas. That month, he was taken prisoner defending his unit's position near Kunu-ri' Korea. He died in March 1951, officials later discovered.

Over the years, she's been to dozens of meetings in Washington, D.C., meant to update the wives and family members of veterans. Some 84,000 service members, including 8,000 from the Korean War, are still missing.

Her family has told her she's crazy to attend the meetings after so long, but he was her husband, she said. She'd keep going even if she was in a wheelchair.

When she got a call asking if she would be in Washington for the October meeting, she knew what was coming. She flew there, alone, and was told her husband's remains had been found.

Then they read the letter she wrote the government so many years ago, inquiring about his marital status.

In recent years, the remains were finally returned to the U.S. by North Korea, then sent to a forensics lab in Honolulu to be identified, said Bob Kurkjian, executive director of USO Greater Los Angeles Area.

During the last 63 years, no one else caught Clara Gantt's fancy as she waited for news of her husband. She told the base officials assigned to check wives' homes for other men to come by anytime, they'd never catch her with anyone.

"I am very, very proud of him. He was a wonderful husband, an understanding man," she told reporters at the airport. "I always did love my husband, we was two of one kind, we loved each other. And that made our marriage complete."

Joseph Gantt will be buried in Inglewood later this month. One day, she'll be buried alongside him.

http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-1221-veteran-remains-20131221,0,4280455.story#ixzz2oKe5cHOf
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« Reply #167 on: January 20, 2014, 12:02:48 PM »

Two Marine Corps special operators receive Navy Cross posthumously


 The Marine Corps has announced that Staff Sgt. Sky R. Mote, left, and Marine Capt. Matthew P. Manoukian were to be awarded the Navy Cross on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014.

By Jon Harper
Stars and Stripes
Published: January 18, 2014

WASHINGTON – Two Marine Corps special operators were posthumously awarded the Navy Cross on Saturday for their actions during an insider attack in Afghanistan.

Capt. Matthew Manoukian and Staff Sgt. Sky Mote were assigned to the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion in support of Operating Enduring Freedom when they came under hostile fire from an Afghan police officer inside their tactical operations center in Helmand province, Afghanistan on Aug. 10, 2012, according to a Marine Corps press release.

Manoukian, the team commander, and Mote, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, each received the Silver Star because they intentionally exposed themselves to hails of gunfire to enable their comrades to escape the shooter.

Manoukian, 29, from Los Altos Hills, Calif., was working in the operations center when AK-47 assault rifle bullets ripped through the walls and partitions of the operations room. He immediately ordered his Marines to move out of harm’s way as he engaged the enemy. After another Marine was critically wounded, Manoukian made himself the shooter’s primary target to protect other Marines. He continued engaging the enemy, despite being outgunned, until he was mortally wounded, according to a Marine Corps account of the assault.

“Manoukian courageously drew heavy fire upon himself, disrupting the enemy pursuit of his comrades and providing them the security needed to get to safety, ultimately saving their lives,” the Marine Corps said in the press release.

During the rampage, Mote, 27, from El Dorado, Calif., stepped forward and attracted the shooter’s attention, which halted the enemy’s pursuit of other Marines. He remained exposed and engaged the shooter who was only five yards away. Mote kept up the attack, despite having been shot, until he was killed, according to a Marine Corps description of Mote’s actions.

“Mote’s heroic and selfless actions halted the enemy assault on his teammates enabling their escape, which ultimately forced the enemy to withdraw. Mote’s selfless act safeguarded his comrades from being killed or injured,” the Marine Corps said in the press release.

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Jeschke, 31, of Herndon, Va., was also killed in the attack, according to the Defense Department.

The Afghan gunman fled the scene and joined the Taliban, according to reports.

The incident in which Manoukian and Mote earned their awards for bravery was just one of many involving Afghan police and army personnel turning their guns on U.S. servicemembers and NATO forces. There were 44 insider attacks in 2012 alone, and they resulted in 61 coalition deaths. Those 61 fatalities constituted 15 percent of total coalition deaths that year, according to the Long War Journal, which compiles statistics related to the war in Afghanistan.

The U.S. military referred to these incidents as “green on blue” attacks. The alarming rate of occurrence eventually compelled commanders to implement a series of new security procedures in the latter part of 2012 to mitigate the risk. The number of insider attacks has declined significantly since the measures were put in place.

The Navy Cross is the second-highest award for valor that a Marine can receive; just below the Medal of Honor. It is rarely given out, and must be approved by the Secretary of the Navy before being awarded. Only 16 Marines, including Mote and Manoukian, have received the Navy Cross for actions undertaken during Operation Enduring Freedom. In the seven-year history of Marine Special Operations Command, only two other Marines attached to MARSOC have received the award, according to the Marine Corps.

Major Gen. Mark Clark, the commander of MARSOC, presented the awards to the families of Manoukian and Mote during a ceremony at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Saturday.

http://www.stripes.com/news/us/two-marine-corps-special-operators-receive-navy-cross-posthumously-1.262623
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« Reply #168 on: February 28, 2014, 12:56:21 PM »

Boston College Wide Receiver Alex Amidon Set To Pursue Career As Navy SEAL

By A.J Black  @BCHysteria on Feb 27 2014

The ultimate dude will attempt to join the military's elite.

According to multiple sources tied to the Boston College football program, and confirmed during last night's Gridiron Club meeting, Eagles wide receiver Alex Amidon is set to put aside his career in football to pursue becoming a United States Navy SEAL.

Amidon finished 11th in the nation in receiving in 2012 with 1210 yards, and led BC in receiving this year with 1024 yards. The senior set the school's all-time record for most receiving yards in a season and most receiving yards in a career.

This comes as sort of a shock because the 2012 All-ACC wide receiver most likely would have found a home in the NFL. However by pursuing this career Amidon is showing what kind of character he really has. United States Navy SEALs, just like all others in the military, are willing to give the ultimate sacrifice to protect the United State of America. The fact that Amidon is willing to give everything he has is truly awe-inspiring. Through making this decision, Amidon is truly showing that he is a man for others, and cares so deeply about his community and country.

If you've ever known a SEAL, or even seen a show about them, you know that becoming one is an incredibly difficult experience. The SEALs push potential recruits' body and minds to the limit and the success rate is very small. However, Amidon has persevered through tough situations before. The SEALs motto is "Ready to Lead, Ready to Follow, Never Quit," which sounds like Alex Amidon in a nutshell. Let's all wish him the best of luck in the future, and hope that he is successful in SEALs camp and as a Navy SEAL.

http://www.bcinterruption.com/2014/2/27/5452760/boston-college-wide-receiver-alex-amidon-set-to-pursue-career-as-navy
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« Reply #169 on: March 06, 2014, 11:36:11 AM »

Sources: Marine Kyle Carpenter will receive MoH for heroism in Afghanistan
Mar. 5, 2014
By Hope Hodge Seck
Staff writer


Marine portrait: Kyle Carpenter: Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter discusses the November 2010 grenade attack. (Staff video)
   

Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter takes part of the first corporals course for wounded warriors at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, Md., Jan. 12. Carpenter sustained wounds to the right side of his body from an enemy grenade in Marjah, Afghanistan, November 2010. The class graduated Jan. 16.


William Kyle Carpenter, a Marine Corps veteran who was severely wounded during a November 2010 grenade attack in Afghanistan, will receive the nation’s highest combat valor award later this year, Marine Corps Times has learned.

Carpenter, a 24-year-old medically retired corporal, will become the service’s third Medal of Honor recipient from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which date back to October 2001. The Marine Corps is finalizing plans with the White House for a ceremony in Washington, officials said.

Marine Corps Times began making inquires about the status of Carpenter’s case because the statute of limitations for Department of Navy Medal of Honor awards requires that a formal recommendation be made within three years of the combat action in question. Carpenter, the subject of two cover stories published by Marine Corps Times in 2012, also recently appeared in the national media. He was the subject of a January feature story in Reader’s Digest and a related appearance Jan. 27 on Katie Couric’s syndicated talk show.

Carpenter declined to comment on reports that he would soon receive the Medal of Honor.

A Marine Corps spokesman referred all comment to the White House. A White House spokesman said he had no scheduling announcements to make regarding the award. However, Medal of Honor presentations are typically announced only a month in advance.

Carpenter’s Medal of Honor nomination stems from reports that, as a 21-year-old lance corporal, he intentionally covered a grenade to save the life of his friend, Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio on Nov. 21, 2010, as the two Marines were standing guard on a rooftop in the Marjah district of Afghanistan’s Helmand province. Both men survived the blast, but were badly wounded. Carpenter lost his right eye and most of his teeth, his jaw was shattered and his arm was broken in dozens of places.

Eufrazio sustained damage to the frontal lobe of his brain from shrapnel. Until recently, his wounds rendered him unable to speak.

The Marine Corps’ investigation into events surrounding the grenade blast has been complicated by circumstances. First, no one witnessed what took place after that grenade was thrown. Second, Carpenter said he couldn’t remember what happened due to trauma from the blast. Third, Eufrazio has been on a long and intensive road to recovery from his wounds. He only regained his ability to speak in late 2012, when his family reported that he was greeting hospital visitors by name.

Still, troops who served with Carpenter on the Marjah deployment say there’s no doubt in their minds that he absorbed the grenade blast to save his comrade.

Marine Staff Sgt. Michael Kroll, Carpenter’s platoon segreant, told Marine Corps Times that even though nobody knew for sure what happened, “our feeling has always been that Kyle shielded Nick from that blast.”

Hospitalman 3rd Class Christopher Frend, who triaged the injuries of Carpenter and Eufrazio, said the injuries Carpenter sustained, and the evidence at the scene indicated that he had indeed covered the explosive. The blast seat of the grenade — the point of its detonation — was found under Carpenter’s torso.

“Grenade blasts blow up; they don’t blow down;” Frend told Marine Corps Times in 2012. “If he hadn’t done it, what we found would have looked completely different.”

While the Marine Corps continued its investigation, Carpenter attained a level of celebrity as a Marine hero. More than 13,000 people have followed his recovery and his projects following retirement via the Facebook page Operation Kyle.

In 2011, the state senate in Carpenter’s native South Carolina honored him with a resolution that gave him credit for taking the grenade blast, saying he exemplified a hero. A photograph from the senate ceremony, showing Carpenter proud in his dress blues with shrapnel scars creating veins of silver across his face, went viral online.

Marine Corps Times has followed his progress, too, including a short feature on the Battle Rattle blog that featured video of Carpenter doing pullups, more than 30 surgeries after the 2010 blast.

Carpenter has maintained close ties with the Marine Corps and has been featured as a guest of honor at several command events. In November, he posted a photo on his Facebook page that shows him alongside Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Mike Barrett and Dakota Meyer, who in 2011 became the first Marine Medal of Honor recipient out of the war in Afghanistan. Meyer and Carpenter paid a joint visit to Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. the same month.

The Corps’ only other post-9/11 Medal of Honor recipient, Cpl. Jason Dunham, was recognized posthumously for smothering a grenade in Iraq in 2004.

http://www.militarytimes.com/article/20140305/NEWS/303050012/Sources-Marine-Kyle-Carpenter-will-receive-MoH-heroism-Afghanistan
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« Reply #170 on: March 13, 2014, 07:33:43 PM »

WWII Medal of Honor recipient laid to rest in Riverside
Saturday, March 08, 2014

Walt Ehlers, the last surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor to storm Omaha Beach on D-Day was laid to rest in Riverside Saturday, March 8, 2014. (KABC Photo)

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RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- The last surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor to storm Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion of World War II was laid to rest Saturday in Riverside. Walt Ehlers died Feb. 19 of kidney failure. He was 92 years old.

On Saturday, Ehlers was celebrated in a funeral at Riverside National Cemetery with full military honors, including a flyover.

The Kansas native joined the U.S. Army in October 1940 and took part in multiple combat operations, including the North Africa campaign and the landings in Italy in 1943.

According to his Medal of Honor citation, at age 23, Ehlers repeatedly led his men in charges exposing himself to deadly hostile fire. He showed heroic and courageous leadership.

In one action, Ehlers killed four enemy combatants, crawling underneath a machine gun nest and knocking it out of service by himself.

"Walter led his men from the front and his 12-man reconnaissance team onto the beach. They scaled the heights and passed through the breach in a German mine field and without a single casualty, which he was very proud of," the citation stated.

Six months later, during the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, after taking over command of a platoon, Ehlers was shot in the right leg. He carried that bullet with him to his death.

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news%2Flocal%2Finland_empire&id=9459623
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« Reply #171 on: March 13, 2014, 07:39:22 PM »

U.S. veteran honored 70 yrs after saying "no thanks" to Purple Heart
BY MATTHEW LIPTAK
AUBURN, New York Sat Mar 8, 2014


World War II veteran Richard ''Dick'' Faulkner (L), is presented the Purple Heart by U.S. Representative Dan Maffei during a ceremony in Auburn, New York March 8, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/MIKE BRADLEY

(Reuters) - An 89-year-old U.S. World War Two veteran who was wounded when his plane crashed in occupied France in 1944 received a Purple Heart medal on Saturday, an honor he declined 70 years ago.

Richard Faulkner was a 19-year-old staff sergeant when the B-17 bomber in which he was flying on his first combat mission collided with an allied aircraft. All aboard were killed except Faulkner, who parachuted to safety and was stranded behind enemy lines.

"It's just unbelievable that they all died and I didn't," Faulkner said in an interview before the awards ceremony at his retirement community in Auburn, New York, about 200 miles northwest of New York.

When he escaped Nazi-controlled territory Faulkner was offered the Purple Heart, but he declined it. He had a hard time accepting the tragedy, he said.

The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces who are wounded in battle and posthumously if they are killed in action or die after being wounded in action.

About a year ago Faulkner found himself regretting his decision because he wanted his grandchildren to have something by which they could remember his military service, said his daughter-in-law Mary Ellen Faulkner.

She said the veteran had felt awkward about receiving an award given the deaths of the other servicemen.

She contacted her father-in-law's congressman, Democrat Dan Maffei, whose office determined that the veteran was still eligible to receive the medal.

Maffei presented the Purple Heart to Faulkner before about 100 people including family and friends.

"To me meeting Mr. Faulkner is like meeting a hero from history ... but live in the flesh," Maffei said.

The veteran declined to speak after receiving the award, but told Maffei, "Thanks."

Faulkner was in the gun turret under the belly of the B-17 when the accident occurred, slicing his plane in two. He parachuted out.

German soldiers searched for him, but the wounded airman hid and was sheltered in a hayloft by a farmer.

Faulkner connected with French resistance fighters, who helped him get to the coast, where downed Allied airmen were picked up by British ships.

When the torpedo boat that rescued Faulkner was attacked by German aircraft, he took up gunner duties to replace a man who was killed by enemy fire.

Faulkner made it to Britain on April 16, 1944, after 29 days behind enemy lines. After the war, Faulker became a power company lineman, married and had three children.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/08/us-usa-veteran-purpleheart-idUSBREA270D720140308
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« Reply #172 on: March 17, 2014, 07:28:48 PM »

Great story.

Denied a Medal of Honor, a worthy soldier finds out why decades later

 Former Spc. 4 Santiago Erevia holds his service medals and awards, which include a South Vietnamese medal, an Army Commendation Medal, a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Cross. On March 18, Erevia will also receive the Medal of Honor. Elizabeth M. Collins/DOD

ELIZABETH M. COLLINS/DOD
By Richard Simon
Los Angeles Times

Published: March 14, 2014


Army Pfc. John MacFarland is pictured in 1969. Shortly after the battle of Tam Ky in South Vietnam that year, MacFarland was assigned to write the Medal of Honor recommendation for Spc. 4 Santiago Jesse Erevia, whose "conspicuous gallantry" had saved many soldiers.
DON KELSEN, LOS ANGELES TIMES/MCT

Using an ammo crate as a chair and an Army tent as his office, Pfc. John "Mac" MacFarland set up his typewriter and began to write.

It was the sweltering summer of 1969, about a month after the fierce battle of Tam Ky in South Vietnam. MacFarland had been ordered to write a recommendation nominating Spc. 4 Santiago Jesse Erevia for the Medal of Honor, and he tried to put into words how Erevia's "conspicuous gallantry" had saved so many fellow soldiers.

"Although Erevia could have taken cover with the rest of the group," MacFarland wrote, "he realized that action must be taken immediately if they were able to be relieved from the precarious situation they were now in."

MacFarland, a 23-year-old college student who had been drafted, spent weeks working on the nomination, sure that Erevia, a 23-year-old high school dropout who had enlisted, would be awarded the medal. MacFarland sent the recommendation up the chain of command.

"And then I never heard another thing," MacFarland recalled decades later.

Erevia knew that he had been nominated, and though admitting initial disappointment that he did not receive the Medal of Honor, he went home to Texas and never dwelt on it.

MacFarland did.

Over the decades, he searched lists of Medal of Honor recipients, looking for Erevia's name. Again and again, he dug out his mimeographed copy of the recommendation, fearing he had failed to capture Erevia's extraordinary heroism.

"I found myself … wondering how I could have done a better job," MacFarland said.

He thought of writing Erevia to say he was sorry the recommendation fell short. But he never wrote.

"This became one of the ghosts that haunted me," MacFarland said.

It wasn't until this year, 45 years after the battle, that MacFarland would learn the disturbing truth — the real reason Erevia had been denied the nation's highest military honor.

———

They arrived at Company C with different backgrounds and under different circumstances.

Erevia was born in Nordheim, Texas, and had dropped out in 10th grade. He enlisted in the Army at 22 after working as a cook and soda deliveryman.

"I thought maybe I could better myself," he said.

MacFarland was a college engineering student in Pennsylvania. He was drafted and was prepared to serve. "As an Eagle Scout, my duty to my country was clear to me and had been since I became a Boy Scout at the age of 11," he said.

Erevia doesn't remember MacFarland. But they were together on May 21, 1969, in the fight for Tam Ky, south of Da Nang.

Company C had taken shelter behind a stone wall, under fire from North Vietnamese troops dug in on a hill at the other end of a dry rice paddy. The North Vietnamese were holed up in heavily camouflaged spider holes and bunkers.

As MacFarland noted in the recommendation, about 4 p.m. their unit was ordered to "move out and engage the enemy." The aim, he recalled, was to take pressure off other companies so they could evacuate their dead and wounded.

MacFarland joined other soldiers in going over the wall, firing his rifle as he stepped into the rice paddy. When another soldier fell wounded, MacFarland rushed to his aid.

Erevia came over to MacFarland and the wounded soldier and asked whether they had any extra ammunition. The wounded man handed Erevia his M-16 rifle, magazines of ammunition and several hand grenades.

"It was the last that I saw Jesse until much later that evening," MacFarland said.

Erevia, who was serving as the radio-telephone operator, made it across the rice paddy, which was as long as a football field. As Erevia and other soldiers remained under heavy fire, he and a friend, Spc. Patrick Diehl, took cover behind a tree.

Erevia chokes up talking about that day. "I asked Diehl, 'Do you see anything?' He never answered."

Diehl had been fatally shot in the head.

Erevia decided he needed to act. "It was either do or die," he recalled in a recent interview. "I said, 'Well, if I'm going to die, I might as well die fighting.'"

Erevia ran toward one of the bunkers and threw in a grenade, killing the soldier inside. He moved to a second bunker, bullets still flying around him, and tossed another grenade to knock it out too.

As MacFarland would later write about Erevia: "After reloading his rifles, he advanced toward the third bunker behind the suppressive fire emitted from his weapons." Once again, he took out the bunker with grenades.

After exhausting his supply of grenades, Erevia headed for a fourth bunker while firing two rifles. He killed a North Vietnamese soldier at point-blank range.

"Our company commander, Capt. David Gibson, along with his radio-telephone operators and medic and several wounded had been pinned down and were receiving intense fire from several enemy positions," MacFarland recalled. Without Erevia, "it is doubtful that they would have survived the day."

Shortly after the battle, MacFarland was assigned to serve as battalion awards clerk. Using information provided by others, he wrote the Medal of Honor recommendation, got it signed by the battalion's commanding officer and forwarded it to 101st Airborne Division headquarters.

After it was sent back for more information, Erevia's company commander and platoon leader provided eyewitness accounts and a map of the battle. MacFarland ran off several copies on a mimeograph machine, keeping one for himself.

The next year, 1970, Erevia and MacFarland left Vietnam and went their separate ways.

———

Erevia became a mail carrier, retiring in 2002 after working 32 years for the Postal Service. He lives in San Antonio with his wife, Leticia. He has four adult children, including a son who served in the Iraq war.

MacFarland went on to become a high school environmental science and biology teacher. Also retired, he is a bachelor living in Aston, a Philadelphia suburb. The two men, now 68, have had no contact since leaving Vietnam.

Though denied the Medal of Honor, Erevia was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the decoration created during World War I and the nation's second-highest military honor for heroism. The citation quoted language written by MacFarland.

MacFarland kept his copy of Erevia's recommendation in a binder with photos and other Vietnam memorabilia. He shared his distress about Erevia and the Medal of Honor with Army buddies. They assured him that it wasn't his fault and that the military probably decided against the Medal of Honor because, unlike many medal recipients, Erevia wasn't wounded in the battle.

Still, MacFarland said, "I was not convinced that it was not as a result of my inadequacy as a writer."

The Medal of Honor has been awarded to more than 3,400 recipients since it was established during the Civil War. Of those, 74 are living, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The medal is bestowed "only to the bravest of the brave," according to the Army.

Unbeknown to MacFarland or Erevia, Congress in a 2002 defense bill ordered a Pentagon review to determine whether discrimination prevented Jewish and Latino veterans from receiving the medal. The Pentagon examined the records of more than 6,000 Distinguished Service Cross recipients to determine whether the award should be upgraded.

Last summer, Erevia was surprised to receive a telephone call from a military officer who told him to expect a call from somebody at the White House. A few days later, he was called again and told to stay close to the phone.

When the call came, a woman announced that the president of the United States was on the line. "It was a short conversation," Erevia said. "He said that I deserved the Medal of Honor. He said that, for some reason, I was overlooked, but that he was making it right. I said, 'Thank you very much, sir.'"

The Pentagon has not released its Medal of Honor review, but in February the White House announced that to correct a historic injustice, the Medal of Honor would be awarded to 24 veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. They include Erevia and 16 other Latinos, one African American and a Jew.

Erevia is one of three surviving veterans who will receive the medal next week. He is honored, Erevia said, even if the wait lasted decades.

"I'm just glad I'm getting it while I'm alive," he said.

MacFarland heard the news from an Army friend. "I can't describe how great that made me feel," he said.

He hadn't failed after all, and there is a good chance that when the citation is read Tuesday at the White House ceremony, it will include lines MacFarland composed in that tent long ago.

Since the announcement, Erevia has received a lot of attention, including letters from strangers praising his valor.

One letter stood out.

It was from MacFarland. He congratulated Erevia and shared with him the "heavy burden" that he carried around all these years.

"It made me cry," Erevia said.

The two may finally meet again at a Company C reunion this year.

http://www.stripes.com/news/us/denied-a-medal-of-honor-a-worthy-soldier-finds-out-why-decades-later-1.272802
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« Reply #173 on: March 17, 2014, 07:44:34 PM »

Wouldn't the title of this thread more properly be "Great American Military Men"?

Did you ever serve, BB? 
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« Reply #174 on: March 17, 2014, 07:51:39 PM »

Wouldn't the title of this thread more properly be "Great American Military Men"?

Did you ever serve, BB? 

No.  Not everyone mentioned in this thread was in the military.  And not everyone is a man.   

Yes.
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