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« Reply #250 on: April 18, 2016, 09:50:59 AM »

108-year-old female veteran to fly in WWII-era biplane
Published April 18, 2016 
Associated Press

Lynn Balmer is believed to be the oldest living female military veteran. (

CHICO, Calif. –  A 108-year-old woman believed to be the oldest living female military veteran is set to be honored with a flight aboard a World War II-era biplane.

Lynn Balmer is scheduled to take off Monday morning from Chico, California, about 90 miles north of Sacramento.

Her flight is courtesy of the nonprofit group, the Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation, which honors seniors and U.S. military veterans.

The foundation says Balmer served in the U.S. Coast Guard, working as a coder while stationed in Seattle. The Chico Enterprise-Record reported she enlisted during World War II. She achieved the rank of lieutenant.

The organization's president, Darryl Fisher, restored a 1940s Boeing Stearman — the same type of plane used to train military aviators during World War II.
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« Reply #251 on: April 19, 2016, 09:36:14 AM »

Brotherhood inspired long-overdue Vietnam Silver Star
Kyle Jahner, Army Times
April 18, 2016

(Photo: Courtesy of Rep. Chris Gibson's office)

As he hid on the ground in Vietnam with an enemy soldier advancing on him, that was what Spc. Stanley DeRuggiero Jr. heard from the soldier's rifle. No bang; just click. The 20-year-old from Yonkers, New York, figured he was dead. At the very least, he had decided he wasn’t going to be taken alive.

He also had no second thoughts about willfully putting himself in such a dangerous position. After attacking an enemy position, his company had become heavily outnumbered — people who were there say between 5-to-1 and 10-to1 — and moved to retreat. But before he left, he saw three wounded American soldiers, and instead went to defend them.

For hours he fought off Viet Cong so his fellow soldiers wouldn't be captured or killed. The war to him was, more than anything else, about survival and an intense camaraderie nurtured by adversity; because of that his decision to stay behind and fight was really not a choice.

“Immediately, [in my mind] it’s not ‘I’m going to get killed.’ It’s ‘if I don’t go up there, these guys will die.’ There’s no second-thinking, you just do it,” DeRuggiero told Army Times.

On Thursday, DeRuggiero received a Silver Star for his bravery in a small conference room crammed with two to three dozen people in a congressional office building. It was the culmination of a long effort by his former leaders to properly recognize his actions.

It was 1995 before he was finally awarded a Bronze Star with valor device because paperwork his squad leader submitted from the field got bounced around. But it was “not the appropriate medal for the gallantry displayed that particular day,” according to veteran and New York Republican Rep. Chris Gibson, who pinned the award onto DeRuggiero's chest Thursday.  DeRuggiero, 68, a resident of Austerlitz, New York, said he was overwhelmed with gratitude. And his former squad leader said it was long overdue.

“I’m thrilled to death. It was a life goal to get this thing done,” said former Sgt. Cliff Davids, who pushed for DeRuggiero’s award along with former company commander William Brewster, a former captain. “He did something that’s incredibly courageous. He’s lucky to be alive. And it just shows what kind of a person he is. I’m amazed he’s still alive. I really am, with what he did.”

The description of DeRuggiero's heroics June 17, 1968, leap off the award citation's page. The fire team leader of 3rd Squad, 3rd Platoon, C Company, 4th Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Corps, fought “with total disregard for his own life for more than five hours” to protect three wounded soldiers. He fought off flanking attacks, provided care and assurance, and despite his own wounds did not withdraw to safety until the last of the three endangered paratroopers had been evacuated.

Like so many citations, it still doesn’t capture the full story.

'I’m screwed'

DeRuggiero, drafted in 1966, said Vietnam felt like a different world. He said men in his unit referred to home as “the world.” His unit faced "horrendous conditions; we lived like animals,” receiving supplies of food, socks and ammo every three weeks and little else. During his year in Vietnam his unit almost never saw the rear. The war was chaos, and one couldn’t rely on any particular strategies to deal with the life-threatening scenarios that emerged regularly, and often suddenly.

“It was more survival than it was a purpose to fight in a war. Realizing later on, in my opinion, it had very little to do with freeing a people. There was a civil war there, no one wanted us there,” he said. “So now what we were left with was the guy next to you and how we were going to live through this and be proud of what we’ve done.”

That shared adversity, survival mentality and brotherhood would factor into his decision to risk his life to save others.

DeRuggiero’s company had just engaged in an assault on a Viet Cong base camp near Bao Loc; eventually uneven numbers forced the company to retreat. DeRuggiero said he was last to retreat, but before he could leave the area he saw uniforms he knew were American. One of the three was trying to resuscitate the other, he said, and a third, wounded in the stomach, was on the ground nearby.

“He went out to help this wounded person. He was pretty much alone. He was alone,” Davids said.

DeRuggiero fought off Viet Cong for hours with "hand grenades and well-aimed M-16 fire," the citation reads. Davids said at times “he hovered over” one of the wounded. During the battle DeRuggiero himself was wounded twice: He took grenade shrapnel in his hip area, and a rifle bullet ricocheted and hit his calf, though the slowed bullet “didn’t go all the way through,” DeRuggiero said. He called his wounds "light"; he’d spend eight days in the hospital after the battle. But for a while it looked like he’d never get to a hospital.

Hours in he was hiding behind a termite hill about 2 feet tall. He said he saw a Viet Cong with an AK47 approach from about 30 feet away. He aimed his gun — which turned out to have a broken firing pin.

“I pointed at his head and pulled the trigger; nothing happened. Just a click. And he heard the click. And my heart was pounding. So I says, oh, I’m screwed,” DeRuggiero said.

He ejected the round. He said that while the sounds got his adversary’s attention, the other bodies, partial obstruction of his position and other gunfire made him a little more difficult to find. So he aimed again. Click. He cleared the chamber and tried a third time. Click.

“Now he’s probably 12, 13 feet away from me. I’m not going to get captured. I’m not going to let that happen. I’m going to die fighting,” said DeRuggiero, who was angry after watching several friends die. “I say goodbye to my parents, say goodbye to my brothers and sisters. And say I’m going to kill him.”

He had a knife hidden under his chest, ready to attack when the man got close enough to realize he was still alive. He had smeared blood from his wound onto his face to appear dead. Then he felt something: the heavily used barrel of an M16, largely buried by an earlier explosion, burned his arm. He pulled it out, saw it didn’t have a clip in it, and acted fast.

“I popped in a clip and I blew him away,” he said.

Not too long after that, reinforcements including air support arrived; that allowed enough breathing room for the group to evacuate. Davids said nearly the entire platoon of about 30 paratroopers were either killed or wounded in the fight. Two of the three men DeRuggiero risked his life defending died, but one survives to this day.

Unique camaraderie, belated recognition

The camaraderie that led DeRuggiero to fight also pushed the effort to recognize him.

Davids submitted his recommendation to award DeRuggiero from the field. When he returned to the rear, he said, no one had seen it. He put it back in the system, but it was rejected. He said the explanation made clear no one had read it because it didn’t make sense. After spending so much time in confined spaces and facing hell, the intimate brotherhood was not going to allow DeRuggiero's fellow soldiers to just let it go.

After the war, they spent decades trying to find a way through the bureaucracy. Meanwhile DeRuggiero left the Army in 1969 and went on to work as a gemologist and then a carpenter. But he remained close to his former comrades in arms.

"Coming home afterward, I was never able to achieve that kind of camaraderie in a workplace, which was disappointing to me. It’s unfortunate. You can accomplish so much more when you work together as a coherent team," DeRuggiero said.

The most recent effort to recognize him came when Brewster, the company commander and a Colorado resident, contacted Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and, in Gibson's words, “wouldn’t take no for an answer.” On Jan. 4, the Army signed off on the upgrade.

At the ceremony, Gibson, a retired colonel with more than two decades in the Army before his election to the House in 2010, said he’d seen his share of firefights but nothing like what DeRuggiero experienced. The former commander of the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, occasionally broke up during his speech, and paid tribute to those who had died in the war. He said that although Vietnam constituted just a bit over 1 percent of DeRuggiero's life, it had an outsized share in defining him, as it did for many others.

“Every soldier wonders how they’ll do in an especially difficult situation. Sometimes they’ll go their whole life wondering. Stan will never have to worry about that,” Gibson said to the audience. “We will never be able to fully repay you. We will never be able to adequately recognize you. But we will be able to say thank you.”
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« Reply #252 on: May 09, 2016, 08:51:30 AM »

Great-granny, 80, got a gun, kills a home intruder who attacked husband
Published May 08, 2016

This 80-year-old great-granny got a gun and wasn’t afraid to use it.

Barb Moles shot and killed a home intruder who beat her husband with a crowbar and stabbed him with a knife. She now tells a local televison station she is “not just the typical granny.”

“You know, never in my whole life did I ever anticipate having to take another life -- especially at age 80,” Moles told KOMO-TV in Seattle, Wash., last week. “Give me a break here!”

Moles grabbed her gun, a .38-caliber pistol, when she saw her 75-year-old husband bleeding on the floor during a home invasion in their rural Sultan home around 8:30 p.m. on April 28.

Deputies said Steven Sheppard, 25, attacked Leland Moles after breaking into the couple’s home to steal drugs.

KOMO reported that when Sheppard encountered Barb Moles, he said one word: “Gun.”

Moles, a grandmother of eight and a great-grandmother of three, pulled the trigger four times. Three bullets hit the mark, KOMO reported.

“I was just intent upon stopping him,” she told the station. “I didn’t have any other thought in my head. I just knew I had to stop him.”

Q13 Fox reported that Sheppard was an ex-con who spent time in prison for robbery.

Leland Moles remains in a hospital where he is listed in stable condition, the station reported.

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate Moles’ actions.

KOMO reported that the gun was a Christmas gift from her husband.

She said she wouldn’t hesitate to use it again.

“You know how mothers are with their kids,” she said. “That’s the way I am with my husband. I just protect his back. I’m not just the typical granny -- in case you haven’t noticed.”
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« Reply #253 on: May 10, 2016, 08:49:04 AM »

UNSUNG HEROES: This Army Medic Overcame Gunfire And A Broken Leg To Save 14 Soldiers

Army medic Sgt. Julia Bringloe received the Distinguished Flying Cross in 2012 for 11 rescue hoists during 60 hours of combat in Afghanistan's high mountains.

Black Hawk medic, Sgt. Julia Bringloe, received the Distinguished Flying Cross for three days of hoists in June 2011 that she conducted all with a broken leg.
Three days. Eleven hoists. Fourteen survivors. Three critical resupply missions.

Two bodies recovered.

One brave medic who refused to quit even after fracturing her leg.

On June 25, 2011, Sgt. Julia Bringloe, with C Company, 3-10 General Support Aviation Battalion, was the medic for the four-person crew aboard a Black Hawk helicopter. The crew was one of two Army medevac teams tasked with supporting Operation Hammer Down in Afghanistan’s Watahpor Valley.

Bringloe’s job was to exit the helicopter — suspended from a cable when necessary — and recover the casualties, then provide them lifesaving treatment while the helicopter flew to a medical facility.

The team’s first day began with several typical rescues. The most challenging call was for the evacuation of an injured private in the village of Gambir, according to a November 2012 Newsweek article.

When the medevec team reached the village, the fighting was just too intense. Militants were firing at the rescue helicopters. Their sister chopper was hit by small arms fire and raced away for an emergency landing.

Meanwhile, other calls were coming in. The crew headed for a different rescue, hoping the situation in Gambir would be safer by the time they got back.

Their new mission required Bringloe to be lowered from 160 feet, amid a forest of 100-foot pine trees. Bringloe got her man, a severely dehydrated soldier, and hooked the two of them up for extraction.

As they were being hoisted, a gust of wind suddenly swung them like a pendulum. Bringloe saw that she and her patient were on a collision course with a large tree trunk. She swung her body around to protect her patient, and stuck out her leg to fend off the tree.

The impact was tremendous. Later Bringloe would learn that her leg had been fractured.

When Bringloe and the soldier were back inside the helicopter, the pilot observed her injury and asked if she wanted to quit. “I never thought it was an option,” Bringloe told The Daily. With the other helicopter out of commission, “I was the only medic in the valley and it was a huge mission.”

Unfazed, the team dropped off their patient and returned to Gambir. It was too dark now to lower Bringloe, and there were too many trees to land on the ground. The pilots realized their only option was to hover the chopper on the roof of a hut. With fighting still going on around them, Bringloe and another soldier leaned out the window to direct the pilots to alight on the small roof.

Once the Black Hawk was in place, Bringloe hopped out and called for the injured man to be brought aboard. One look at the man convinced her that they had come too late, she told Newsweek. Nevertheless, she got to work on him and saved his life.

The next two days were filled with more gunfire and more dramatic rescues. One call was for the team to retrieve an Afghan translator who had been shot. The helicopter hovered some 70 feet above the casualty site, even though there were half a dozen insurgent fighters on a nearby mountainside. Bringloe was lowered to the ground and greeted with gunfire.

“Medevac, you guys are crazy!” called a nearby soldier.

Watch Sgt. Julia Bringloe recount her experience at Newsweek & The Daily Beast’s 2012 Hero Summit.

The translator’s body was hoisted first. Then it was Bringloe’s turn.  An Army account continues, “Despite the chaos around her, she didn’t hesitate in her job, securing herself and instructing her crew to continue with her own extraction.”

“For about 15 seconds, “ her pilot recalled to The Daily, “those six dudes popped up and fired at her.”

“As I was getting pulled up, I took some fire,” Bringloe told Stars and Stripes. “It’s one of those things you don’t think about while it happens. You are pretty focused on your patient and getting the mission accomplished. Everyone is in danger.”

The bullets missed, and Bringloe made it back into the chopper.

The team wasn’t done yet. On their very last flight of the marathon three days, Bringloe was lowered to retrieve a soldier who had been shot in the shoulder. As she found him, thick clouds rolled in. She could no longer see the helicopter at the end of the line. Worse, the pilots couldn’t see anything, including the mountains and cliffs that surrounded them.

“It’s like driving a car 100 miles an hour and all you can look at is the speedometer,” one pilot recalled to The Daily. “We had to make sure we didn’t slide into a mountain sideways.”

With Bringloe and the injured soldier suspended from the line, the pilots urgently lifted the helicopter to a higher altitude. Eventually, Bringloe and her patient entered the hold, and the helicopter found a break in the clouds.

It was a fitting end to three tumultuous days. “There were so many missions that would have, on any other day, qualified as the craziest mission we’d ever seen,” one of the pilots commented to Army Times.

For her actions during June 2011, Julia Bringloe received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Pilots Erik Sabiston and Kenneth Brodhead also received the award. Bringloe was the seventh woman in U.S. history to receive the award, and only the fourth for combat. Their mission was named the Air/Sea Rescue of the Year by the Army Aviation Association of America, and Bringloe was the USO Army Woman of the Year for 2012.

“To have these awards, to be recognized for the missions, is great, but I didn’t fly with my own two arms,” Bringloe reflected to Stars and Stripes. “I had a whole crew and medevac company that have supported me.”
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« Reply #254 on: May 16, 2016, 02:54:03 PM »

Medal of Valor awarded to 13 law enforcement officers at White House
Published May 16, 2016
Associated Press

President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Valor to Midwest City, Okla. Police Major David Huff. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Barack Obama called on the nation Monday to support and listen to its law enforcement officers as he bestowed the Medal of Valor on 13 officers who risked their lives to save others.

In a ceremony in the East Room, Obama draped the purple-and-yellow ribbons around the necks of officers who intervened in shooting rampages, hostage situations and an armed robbery. He pledged to keep working toward a bipartisan overhaul to make the criminal justice system fairer, smarter and more effective so that officers are well-equipped to enforce the country's laws.

"We can show our respect by listening to you, learning from you, giving you the resources that you need to do your jobs," Obama said. "Our country needs that right now."

Police Officers Assaulted by Circumstance | Graphiq
Three Santa Monica, California, officers -- Jason Salas, Robert Sparks and Capt. Raymond Bottenfield -- were honored for their response to a 2013 rampage on a community college campus that left five people dead. Confronting 23-year-old gunman John Zawahri in the campus library, the officers shot and killed him when he pointed his assault weapon at them.

Obama also honored Gregory Stevens of suburban Dallas, who exchanged gunfire with two armed men outside an exhibit hall holding a provocative contest for caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Both gunmen were killed, heading off what investigators suspected was a planned mass shooting.

The Medal of Valor ceremony came as Obama holds out hope that legislation reforming the justice system can be passed this year despite the heavily politicized climate ahead of the November election. The need for change has been a rare point of common ground between Democrats and Republicans, and though momentum appeared to have sputtered earlier this year, a new Senate proposal has raised hopes that the issue could be successfully revived.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the nation's top law enforcement official, said there were no words or medals that could begin to pay the debt the country owes the officers.

"It has often been said that the price of freedom is constant vigilance," Lynch said. "Know this: they pay that price on our behalf."

Police Maj. David Huff of Midwest City, Oklahoma, saved a 2-year-old girl being held at knifepoint after negotiations with her captor deteriorated. Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, he described the thoughts running through his head in the moment he was called to action.

"Obviously, the last few moments were tense. There was a countdown going on," Huff said. "There was just no way I was going to let that little child get hurt."

The president said all of the officers acted "without regard for their own safety." Because of their courage and instincts, he said, the rest of society can go about their lives each day "like it's any other day."

"If they could go back in time, I suspect they'd prefer none of this had happened," Obama said.

One Philadelphia officer died from a gunshot wound and was honored posthumously. Sgt. Robert Wilson III drew fire from assailants during a robbery while saving store employees and customers.

Wilson's family accepted the award on his behalf.

"We honor those who didn't come home," the president said.

The other officers honored with the medal Monday are:

-- Miami-Dade police Officer Mario Gutierrez, who was stabbed multiple times while subduing a knife-wielding man who tried to set off a massive gas explosion that could have caused massive casualties.

-- Johnson City, New York, Patrolman Louis Cioci, who chased and captured at a crowded hospital a gunman who had just killed a fellow officer. Investigators believe Cioci saved the lives of hospital staff, patients and visitors.

-- Los Angeles police Officer Donald Thompson for, while off duty, crossing two freeway dividers and braving first- and second-degree burns while pulling an unconscious man from a burning car to safety.

-- Omaha, Nebraska, police Officer Coral Walker, who shot and killed a man who had killed and injured multiple people during a shooting rampage.

-- North Miami, Florida, police Officer Niel Johnson, who endured gunfire from an assault weapon in pursuing and capturing a man who had shot a Miami police officer and two bystanders.

-- FBI Special Agent Tyler Call, who while off duty with his family helped rescue a woman whose ex-husband was holding her at gunpoint.

-- Niagara County, New York, sheriff's Deputy Joey Tortorella, who confronted and subdued a gunman who had shot and wounded his parents inside their home, preventing the gunman from threatening the safety of students at a nearby elementary school.
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« Reply #255 on: May 16, 2016, 06:32:57 PM »

From badassoftheweek:

Samuel Whittemore

Interestingly enough for a man who is now famous throughout Massachusetts for his unbreakable determination to violently kill British people at all costs, Samuel Whittemore was born in England, and faithfully served the British Crown for nearly five decades of professional military service.  Born in 1695, just 75 years after the first Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, the stone-cold hardass who would be made a state hero of Massachusetts was first unleashed on colonial America in the 1740s while serving as a Captain in His Majesty's Dragoons – a badass unit of elite British cavalrymen much-feared across the globe for their ability to impale people on lance-points and then pump their already-dead bodies full of gigantic pistol ammunition that more closely resembled baseballs than the sort of rounds you see packed into Beretta magazines these days.  Fighting the French in Canada during the War of Austrian Succession (a conflict that was known here in the colonies as King George's War because seriously WTF did colonial Americans care about Austrian succession), Whittemore was part of the British contingent that assaulted the frozen shores of Nova Scotia and beat the shit out of the French at their stronghold of Louisbourg in 1745. The 50 year-old cavalry officer went into battle galloping at the head of a company of rifle-toting horsemen, and emerged from the shouldering flames of a thoroughly ass-humped Louisbourg holding a bitchin' ornate longsword he had wrenched from the lifeless hands of a French officer who had, in Whittemore's words, "died suddenly".  The French would eventually manage to snake Louisbourg back from the Brits, so thirteen years later, during the Seven Years' War (a conflict that was known here in the colonies as the French and Indian War because WTF we were fighting the French and the Indians, and also because it lasted nine years instead of seven), Whittemore had to return to his old stomping grounds of Louisburg and ruthlessly beat it into submission once again. Serving under the able command fellow badass British commander James Wolfe, a man who earned his reputation by commanding a line of riflemen who held their lines against a frothing-at-the-mouth horde of psychotic, sword-swinging William Wallace motherfuckers in Scotland (this is a story I intend to tell at a later date), Whittemore once again pummeled the French retarded and stole all of their shit he could get his hands on.  He served valiantly during the Second Siege of Louisbourg, pounding the poor city into rubble a second time in an epic bloodbath would mark the beginning of the end for France's Atlantic colonies – Quebec would fall shortly thereafter, and the French would be chased out of Canada forever. So you can thank Whittemore for that, if you are inclined to do so.

Beating Frenchmen down with a cavalry saber at the age of 64 is pretty cool and all, but Whittemore still wasn't done doing awesome shit in the name of King George the Third and His Loyal Colonies.  Four years after busting up the French for the second time in two decades he led troops against Chief Pontiac in the bloody Indian Wars that raged across the Great Lakes region. Never one to back down from an up-close-and-personal fistfight, it was during a particularly nasty bout of hand-to-hand combat he came into possession of another totally sweet war trophy – an awesome pair of matched dueling pistols he had taken from the body of a warrior he'd just finished bayoneting or sabering or whatever.

After serving in three American wars before America was even a country, Whittemore decided the colonies were pretty damn radical, so he settled down in Massachusetts, married two different women (though not at the same time), had eight kids, and built a house out of the carcasses of bears he'd killed and mutilated with his own two hands. Or something like that.

Now, all of this shit is pretty god damned impressive, but interestingly none of it is actually what Samuel Whittemore is best known for.  No, his distinction as a national hero instead comes from a fateful day in mid-April 1775, when the British colonies in the New World decided they weren't going to take any more of King George's bullshit and decided to get their American Revolution on. And you can be pretty damn sure that if there were asses to be kicked, Whittemore was going to be one of the men doing the kicking.

So one day a bunch of colonial malcontents got together, formed a battle line, and opened fire on a bunch of redcoats that were pissing them off with their silly Stamp Acts and whatnot.  The Brits managed to beat back this militia force at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, but when they heard that a larger force of angry, rifle-toting colonials was headed their way, the English officers decided to march back to their headquarters and regroup.  Along the way, they were hassled relentlessly by American militiamen with rifles and angry insults, though no group harassed them more ferociously than Captain Sam Whittemore. When the Redcoats went marching back through his hometown of Menotomy, this guy decided that he wasn't going to let his advanced age stop him from doing some crazy shit and taking on an entire British army himself. The 80 year old Whittemore grabbed his rifle and ran outside:

Whittemore, by himself, with no backup, positioned himself behind a stone wall, waited in ambush, and then single-handedly engaged the entire British 47th Regiment of Foot with nothing more than his musket and the pure liquid anger coursing through his veins.  His ambush had been successful – by this time this guy popped up like a decrepitly old rifle-toting jack-in-the-box, the British troops were pretty much on top of him.  He fired off his musket at point-blank range, busting the nearest guy so hard it nearly blew his red coat into the next dimension.

Now, when you're using a firearm that takes 20 seconds to reload, it's kind of hard to go all Leonard Funk on a platoon of enemy infantry, but damn it if Whittemore wasn't going to try.  With a company of Brits bearing down in him, he quick-drew his twin flintlock pistols and popped a couple of locks on them (caps hadn't been invented yet, though I think the analogy still works pretty fucking well), busting another two Limeys a matching set of new assholes.  Then he unsheathed the ornate French sword, and this 80-year-old madman stood his ground in hand-to-hand against a couple dozen trained soldiers, each of which was probably a quarter of his age.

As you can see from the picture, it didn't work out so well.  Whittemore was shot through the face by a 69-caliber bullet, knocked down, and bayonetted 13 times by motherfuckers.  I'd like to imagine he wounded a couple more Englishmen who slipped or choked on his blood, though history only seems to credit him with three kills on three shots fired.  The Brits, convinced that this man was sufficiently beat to shit, left him for dead kept on their death march back to base, harassed the entire way by Whittemore's fellow militiamen.

Amazingly, however, Samuel Whittemore didn't die.  When his friends rushed out from their homes to check on his body, they found the half-dead, ultra-bloody octogenarian still trying to reload his weapon and seek vengeance.  The dude actually survived the entire war, finally dying in 1793 at the age of 98 from extreme old age and awesomeness.  A 2005 act of the Massachusetts legislature declared him an official state hero, and today he has one of the most badass historical markers of all time:

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« Reply #256 on: June 13, 2016, 01:56:54 PM »

6 Lessons From Teddy Roosevelt On What It Means To Be An American
By James Clark
January 26, 2016   


On Jan. 26, 1883, Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech on civic responsibility that still rings true 133 years later.

Theodore Roosevelt was many things: a frontiersman, scrappy pugilist, soldier, politician, president. While The 28th president of the United States is best known for his famous line on foreign policy “speak softly and carry a big stick,” and his military exploits during the Spanish-American War, his opinions on civic responsibility may have more relevance today.

On Jan. 26, 1883, Roosevelt was just 25 years old and serving on the New York State Assembly when he delivered a speech in Buffalo, New York, entitled “The Duties of American Citizenship,”

Here, Roosevelt laid out what he believed every citizen must do or not do, and the values they must have in order to be considered a “good citizen.”

More than a century later, the heart of Roosevelt’s speech — that every American has a responsibility to engage in the political process — still holds true.

Here are six quotes from America’s “Rough Rider” president that are still relevant today.

You cannot be a good citizen, if you are not first a good person.

“… the first essential for a man’s being a good citizen is his possession of the home virtues of which we think when we call a man by the emphatic adjective of manly. No man can be a good citizen who is not a good husband and a good father, who is not honest in his dealings with other men and women, faithful to his friends and fearless in the presence of his foes. …”

All citizens should engage in politics.

“The first duty of an American citizen, then, is that he shall work in politics; his second duty is that he shall do that work in a practical manner; and his third is that it shall be done in accord with the highest principles of honor and justice.”

Citizenship means rallying to your nation’s defense.

“In a free republic the ideal citizen must be one willing and able to take arms for the defense of the flag.”

Civic responsibility is a constant.

“It ought to be axiomatic in this country that every man must devote a reasonable share of his time to doing his duty in the Political life of the community. … In so far as the community grows to think rightly, it will likewise grow to regard the young man of means who shirks his duty to the State in time of peace as being only one degree worse than the man who thus shirks it in time of war.”

If you do not take part in the political process, then you don’t deserve to benefit from it.

“The people who say that they have not time to attend to politics are simply saying that they are unfit to live in a free community.”

Every citizen must be a political watchdog.

“It is the duty of all citizens, irrespective of party, to denounce, and, so far as may be, to punish crimes against the public on the part of politicians or officials.”
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« Reply #257 on: June 23, 2016, 11:23:16 AM »

Vietnam vet to receive Medal of Honor for saving 40 lives
Naomi Lim, CNN
Thu June 23, 2016

Washington (CNN) — For saving the lives of 40 soldiers and four of members of his own unit during a Vietnam War ambush, Lt. Col. Charles Kettles will be awarded the Medal of Honor on July 18.

Kettles, a UH-1 helicopter commander, volunteered to lead a platoon to bring reinforcements to a brigade cornered by Vietnamese forces near Duc Pho during the early hours of May 15, 1967. After making several trips to the landing zone in his "Huey" while taking fire to evacuate wounded U.S. soldiers, he returned later that day to rescue 40 soldiers and four of his crew who were stranded after their helicopter was destroyed in an enemy attack.

But once airborne, Kettles found out that eight soldiers had been unable to reach the evacuation helicopters due to Vietnamese fire and returned to assist them, despite damage to his helicopter's tail boom, main rotor blade and windshields.

An Army statement said Kettles exhibited "complete disregard for his own safety" during the mission. "Without his courageous actions and superior flying skills, the last group of soldiers and his crew would never have made it off the battlefield."

Kettles, 37 at the time of the encounter, hails from Michigan and previously served in Korea, Japan and Thailand, according to a White House statement Tuesday announcing he would be honored in July. He served as a flight commander in the 176th Aviation Company, 14th Combat Aviation Battalion.

Kettles went on to develop an aviation management program at Eastern Michigan University's College of Technology and work for Chrysler Pentastar upon his return to the U.S. Now 86, Kettles still lives in his hometown of Ypsilanti, Michigan, with his wife Ann.

The Medal of Honor is awarded for "great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life," the White House statement said.
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« Reply #258 on: July 06, 2016, 08:28:22 AM »

Medal of Honor recipient recalls unit taking back embattled outpost in Afghanistan
By Carole Glines 
Published July 02, 2016

Clint Romesha became a legend in 2009 after he led the charge against a monstrous Taliban attack in Afghanistan, rallying his fellow soldiers to regain control of their camp after it had been overrun by more than 300 insurgents. In 2013, President Obama presented him with the Medal of Honor for his actions in that battle.

In an interview with Fox News, the 34-year-old veteran vividly recalled his comrades’ battle cry: "We're going to take this bitch back!"

Romesha was a green 18-year-old who had grown up in Lake City, Calif. — “a quiet little town [where] life was always easy" — when he enlisted in the Army in 1999. But he became an experienced warrior, serving in Kosovo and Iraq before volunteering to serve in Afghanistan in his fourth tour of duty.

He said he went from "growing up in one of the greatest countries that has ever existed, to see what tyranny and poverty and real challenges are like firsthand."

On Oct. 3, 2009, Romesha was a staff sergeant and section leader when the Taliban attacked Combat Outpost Keating in eastern Afghanistan.

The camp, he recalled, was strategically flawed, "set at the bottom of a valley surrounded by mountains on every side. Very isolated, very remote, just a spot that you shake your head when you see it, but you also accept the mission that's given and understand that you're there doing a job and you got your great guys around you."

He said the attack, known today as the Battle of Kamdesh, began at around 6 a.m., and he realized quickly that it wasn't the typical gunfire he’d come to expect from the Taliban.

"I remember getting out of my bed…. got up and clicked on the radio, and you could just hear the intensity of fire coming…. This was something different, and very clearly thereafter, you could tell that there's more fire coming into the outpost than going out of it."

The enemy fighters had "done the research,” Romesha said. “They instantly started suppressing our gun trucks on the perimeter…. They had us surrounded 360 degrees, and very quickly it was getting out of control."

To their horror, the penned-in American troops learned they wouldn't get helicopter support for some time, "and unfortunately, within that first hour, we'd finally gotten the word that the enemy was inside the wire."

The attackers set the camp on fire, burning down most of the barracks, but Romesha and some troops were able to pull back in "the Alamo position" into buildings at the center of the outpost.

He said he realized they had to "do something drastic" — counterattack and reclaim the depot. "We need to take this bitch back," he told Lt. Andrew Bundermann, the officer in charge.

Five soldiers volunteered to follow Romesha into a furious battle with the insurgents. They pushed them back and regained control of the base when air support finally arrived.

There were many heroes that day, Romesha said, including Bundermann, who called for dropping bombs just a hundred yards away, instead of waiting for precision bombs.

"Eight men never got to come home,” Romesha said. “I did…. They gave up way more than anything that was ever required of me. If it wasn't for their sacrifice, I wouldn't be here."

Referring to his Medal of Honor, he said, "It's great to be the one that got selected to wear it, but the medal's not mine. It's those eight great men, it's those men and women that are still serving today, men and women that have put on the uniform from previous conflicts to keep this country free."

Romesha has written "Red Platoon," a book about his experiences, because he feels veterans should teach civilians to "appreciate the freedoms they wake up to every day, understand where that came from and what it cost to get that way, so that these guys are never forgotten."

“We use the word hero quite a bit in this country,” he said. “We call people that throw footballs heroes. We call people that sang songs heroes. We call people that have reality TV shows heroes.

“My definition of a hero [is] those that don't come home, that give up everything to make sure we're free and safe. That's what a true hero is right there. I appreciate the acknowledgements of it, but I was just a warrior doing a job."
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« Reply #259 on: July 19, 2016, 08:40:19 AM »

Obama awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam War helicopter commander
By Naomi Lim and Allie Malloy, CNN
Mon July 18, 2016

(CNN)President Barack Obama on Monday awarded the Medal of Honor to retired Army Lt. Col. Charles Kettles, who is credited with saving the lives of 40 soldiers during the Vietnam War.

Obama, while presenting the highest military award to Kettles, 86, called his story "a wonderful inspiration," adding that the takeaway from his bravery is not just "a creed for our soldiers."

"It should be a creed for all of us," Obama said at a White House ceremony. "This is a country that's never finished in its mission to improve, to do better, to learn from our history, to work to form a more perfect union. And at a time when, let's face it, we've had a couple of tough weeks, for us to remember that goodness and decency of the American people and the way we can all look out for each other, even when times are tough, even when the odds are against us, what a wonderful inspiration."

Obama said Kettles did not enjoy the "hubbub" of receiving the honor -- and speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Kettles focused on the other men involved in the rescue and said, "The only thing that really matters" are the lives that were saved.

A number of those men Kettles saved were at the White House for the ceremony, including the last soldier Kettles saved, Dewey Smith.
Obama tweeted: "44 men came home because Chuck Kettles believed that we leave no man behind. That's America at our best."

Kettles, a UH-1 helicopter commander, volunteered to lead a platoon to bring reinforcements to a brigade cornered by North Vietnamese forces near Duc Pho during the early hours of May 15, 1967.

After making several trips to the landing zone in his Huey while taking fire to evacuate wounded U.S. soldiers, he returned later that day to rescue 40 soldiers and four of his crew who were stranded after their helicopter was destroyed in an enemy attack.

Desperate for planes, military turns to the "boneyard"

But once airborne, Kettles discovered that eight soldiers had been unable to reach the evacuation helicopters due to Vietnamese fire. He returned to assist them, despite damage to his helicopter's tail boom, main rotor blade and windshields.

Obama retold the heroic story, adding he "couldn't make this up" and joking it was "like a bad "Rambo" movie."

Obama remarked on the improved relationship between Vietnam and America since Kettles served.

"I was able to go to Vietnam recently and see a people as enthusiastic about America as probably any place in the world. Crowds lining the streets. And we were able to say that on a whole lot of issues, Vietnam and the United States are now partners."

The Medal of Honor is awarded for "great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life," the White House statement said.

An Army statement said Kettles exhibited "complete disregard for his own safety" during the mission. "Without his courageous actions and superior flying skills, the last group of soldiers and his crew would never have made it off the battlefield."

"I didn't do it by myself," Kettles said in a video released by the Army. "There were some 74 pilots and crew members involved in this whole mission that day. So it's not just me."

Kettles, 37 at the time of the encounter, hails from Michigan and previously served in Korea, Japan and Thailand.

Kettles went on to develop an aviation management program at Eastern Michigan University's College of Technology and work for Chrysler Pentastar.
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« Reply #260 on: August 21, 2016, 11:47:06 PM »

"Track and field athlete (and US Army reservist) Sam Kendricks is running towards an attempt at the pole vault in the qualifying round, until he hears the national anthem. Kendricks immediately stops what he's doing to sing along."

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« Reply #261 on: September 07, 2016, 03:25:48 PM »

Female WWII pilot laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery
Published September 07, 2016

Elaine Harmon in a photo from the 1940s. (Family photo via AP)

It took an act of Congress, but World War II pilot Elaine Harmon was finally laid to rest on Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Harmon died last year at age 95. She was one of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), a group of women who flew military aircraft on noncombat missions during World War II so that men were freed up for combat.

Air Force Capt. Jennifer Lee, center, salutes during during burial services for World War II pilot Elaine Harmon. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
The women were not granted military status at the time they served, but received retroactive status as veterans in 1977. And for many years, WASPs were eligible to have their ashes placed in urns at Arlington.

Last year, though, Army officials concerned about limited space at the cemetery ruled WASPs ineligible for inclusion at Arlington. A memo from then-Army Secretary John McHugh concluded that Arlington never should have granted eligibility to WASPs in the first place.

Air Force Capt. Jennifer Lee, center, salutes during during burial services for World War II pilot Elaine Harmon. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Harmon's family fought the rule. In December, an Associated Press article about the family's campaign prompted widespread criticism of the Army for excluding WASPs. A petition on received more than 175,000 signatures.

In May, President Barack Obama signed legislation allowing WASPs in Arlington. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., herself a retired Air Force pilot who was the first female fighter pilot in U.S. history to fly in combat.

On Wednesday, Harmon's ashes were laid to rest at a funeral service with military honors. The family had kept her ashes in a bedroom closet while they worked to get Arlington's exclusionary policy overturned.

Harmon's granddaughter Erin Miller said dozens of family members are in town for Wednesday's service, which comes more than a year after her grandmother's April 2015 death.

"It sounds funny, but we're all kind of excited," she said. "In a way, we've already grieved, and this now is about closure."

Eligibility for in-ground burial at Arlington, which has severe space limitations, is extremely tight, and not even all World War II veterans are eligible for burial there. But eligibility for above-ground placement of ashes is not quite as strict.

Kate Landdeck, a Texas Woman's University history professor who has researched the WASPs, said roughly 1,000 women served as WASPs while the program was in effect from 1942 to 1944. Thirty-eight were killed.

Fewer than 100 are still alive, Landdeck said. The youngest is 93.

The women, who test-flew repaired military aircraft, trained combat pilots and towed airborne targets that other pilots fired at with live ammunition, received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009, but the campaign to get them into Arlington exposed even more people to WASPs' role in history.

"No one knew who these women were in the 1990s," Landdeck said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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« Reply #262 on: November 07, 2016, 01:56:43 PM »

Thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice.  Respect.

Army identifies three Special Forces soldiers killed in Jordan
By: Michelle Tan,  November 6, 2016

The three service members killed Friday in Jordan were Green Berets from 5th Special Forces Group, the Army announced Sunday.

The Fort Campbell, Kentucky-based soldiers — Staff Sgt. Matthew Lewellen, Staff Sgt. Kevin McEnroe and Staff Sgt. James Moriarty — died Friday after they reportedly came under fire while entering a Jordanian military base. The incident is still under investigation.

The three soldiers had almost 20 years of service between them.

Lewellen, 27, of Kirksville, Missouri, had more than six years of service. 

Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen.
Photo Credit: Army

His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Overseas Service Ribbon and the NATO Medal.

Lewellen, the second son of three children and husband to Renee Laque, was a standout high school athlete who was enrolled at the University of Kansas when he decided to serve his country, his family said in a statement.

He joined the Army in February 2010, graduating from Special Forces training in November 2012. After a 2014 deployment to Afghanistan, Lewellen was on his second deployment to Jordan when he was killed, according to his family.

"Matt was a born leader, a true American," his parents said, according to the statement. "He wanted to be a soldier since third grade, and he was doing what he loved to do."

Lewellen, who was known for his sense of humor, "was proud to serve his country, and he loved the men and women with whom he served," his family said.

Services for Lewellen will take place in his hometown of Kirksville. He will be buried at Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Jacksonville, Missouri, his family said. The family also asked, in lieu of flowers, that donations be made in Lewellen's name to nonprofit organizations that serve military families.

Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe.
Photo Credit: Army

McEnroe, 30, of Tuscon, Arizona, had more than eight years of service. This was his third overseas tour.

His awards include the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and the Army Service Ribbon.

Moriarty, 27, of Kerrville, Texas, had more than five years of service. This was his second overseas tour.

His awards include the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the Army Service Ribbon.

Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty.
Photo Credit: Army

The Associated Press, citing a family spokesman, reported that Moriarty grew up in Houston and earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Texas. The spokesman also said the soldier's family is heartbroken, and they are planning a memorial service in a week or two.

There were conflicting reports after the Friday shooting, as officials first thought one or two service members were killed. The number later was revised to three.

While it’s not immediately clear what prompted the shooting, Jordanian military officials have said the shots were fired as a car carrying the Americans tried to enter the al-Jafr base near the southern Jordanian town of Mann. A Jordanian officer also was wounded.

The U.S. soldiers were in Jordan on a training mission, officials said. The U.S. military typically maintains about 2,000 U.S. forces on the ground in Jordan to support training with the Jordanian military and operations against the Islamic State in neighboring Iraq and Syria.

The deaths of the three soldiers marked a deadly week for the Army’s elite Special Forces, who have been relied upon heavily in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hot spots around the world. They also were the latest in a series of casualties reported from the U.S. Central Command region.

On Oct. 19 in Afghanistan, Sgt. Douglas Riney, 26, died in a shooting attack at Camp Morehead, an ammunition supply point outside Kabul. Also killed was Michael Sauro, an Army civilian.

The shooter was reportedly wearing an Afghan army uniform.

On Oct. 20, Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason Finan, 34, was killed in Iraq during operations near Mosul.

Finan was with Kurdish forces when his unit came under attack. Finan was moving to a better position when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device, U.S. officials said.

And on Nov. 3 in Afghanistan, Capt. Andrew Byers and Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Gloyer, Special Forces soldiers from 10th Special Forces Group, were killed in a firefight with the Taliban in Kunduz province.
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« Reply #263 on: November 07, 2016, 02:00:46 PM »

Great American heroes !
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« Reply #264 on: November 16, 2016, 04:21:55 PM »

14 hours of valor: Combat controller receives Silver Star for Afghan battle
By: Stephen Losey,  November 16, 2016

On a cold, wet night in Northern Afghanistan in February, Staff Sergeant Keaton Thiem and more than 100 other U.S. and Afghan troops crept toward a compound that they suspected hid Taliban insurgents.

Suddenly, when they were just 35 meters away from the compound, fierce AK-47, PKM machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire erupted from the dug-in enemy. It was heavy and highly accurate, and sparked a 14-hour battle in which Thiem, a combat controller, repeatedly risked his own life to call in airstrikes on enemy fighters and save his comrades’ lives.

At one point, Thiem even directed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft and Apache gunships while helping carry a wounded teammate on a litter for 200 meters.

For his bravery, Thiem was honored with a Silver Star Wednesday in a ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

“Gallantry is the epitome of our special tactics community every day, along with courage, dedication and selflessness,” Maj. Gen. Eugene Hasse, vice commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, said in the ceremony.

Thiem, 27, from Austin, Texas, enlisted as a combat controller in 2009 and has deployed to Afghanistan twice. He is assigned to the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron of the 24th Special Operations Wing of Air Force Special Operations Command at Lewis-McChord.

According to the narrative accompanying Thiem’s Silver Star, he was attached to a team of Green Berets that was partnered with Afghan commandos. They set out to retake terrain near Nyazullah village in Baghlan province and bolster the local government there, since well-equipped insurgents were in danger of collapsing the Pul-E Khumri district there. In a Wednesday conference call with reporters, Thiem said Taliban forces had cut off power to Kabul, which is south of Baghlan, and rooting out these fighters would be the first step toward getting the power back on.

After being dropped off late Feb. 22, they began a roughly four-hour march to the target. By the time they reached the compound, they were cold, tired and wet. The Taliban had flooded fields to funnel the American and Afghan troops “exactly how they wanted us. We were kind of playing into their hand.”

“They waited for us to get close, and then erupted all at once,” Thiem said.

SSgt Keaton Thiem Afghanistan
Combat controller Staff Sgt. Keaton Thiem, assigned to the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron of the 24th Special Operations Wing, works in Afghanistan, where he has deployed twice.

Photo Credit: Air Force

The situation quickly deteriorated. Coalition forces realized the insurgents were using night vision to concentrate their fire on the infrared strobes on top of their helmets. Those strobes were meant to keep attacking aircraft from striking friendly troops, but with night vision goggles in the hands of the enemy, “it kind of backfired on us,” Thiem said.

Two teams of friendly troops were pinned down by “withering PKM fire repeatedly impacting within inches of their positions,” the narrative said.

That was when Thiem first risked death for his teammates that night. It wouldn’t be the last time.

Thiem knew he had to start calling in airstrikes if his team had a chance of surviving, but he didn’t have the targeting information he needed to direct strikes that were “danger close” to friendly troops. Disregarding his own personal safety, he exposed himself to heavy machine gun fire to get the necessary situational awareness.

He first cleared the two F-16s flying overhead to drop a pair of 500-pound bombs – one within 35 meters of friendly forces, and the other within 80 meters – which allowed them to resume advancing.

That’s when the Taliban sprung another ambush, directing machine gun, RPG and mortar fire down the main route toward the American and Afghan formation, wounding eight with shrapnel and gunfire.

Thiem again ran 100 meters through open terrain, dodging gunfire from murder holes and enemy defensive fighting positions, to find a group of friendly troops that had gotten separated.

He directed the F-16s to fly low over the area six times as a show of force, giving his teammates time to find some cover. Once they had reached relative safety, and he knew where the friendly forces were, Thiem called in another danger close air strike that was just 80 meters away, giving them further time to regroup.

As the Deltas reorganized, the narrative said, they realized four Afghan commandos were missing. Once again, Thiem realized how urgent the situation was and acted fast to save them.

While under sniper fire, Thiem called in more airstrikes on the enemy while directing an overhead drone to find three of the missing commandos, who were wounded. Thiem coordinated an AH-64 Apache helicopter to serve as an escort as he led a small team 150 meters – towards a Taliban machine gun nest – to try to save the commandos.

During the advance, Thiem fought back against the Taliban, while calling in two more 30mm gun runs to cover them. That was when Thiem helped carry to safety one of the commandos on a litter while coordinating the drone and the Apaches. 

Thiem told reporters that he and his teammate had to periodically put the wounded commando down to take cover, return fire, and make radio calls to direct the aircraft.

But the fourth Afghan commando was still unaccounted for. So Thiem coordinated another two Apache 30mm gun runs and eight rocket strikes to take out the sniper, which allowed another team to get that fourth Afghan to safety.

Thiem spoke admirably of those wounded Afghan soldiers, and said they “were definitely some of the most loyal Afghans, and definitely the most patriotic Afghans I’ve ever met.”

“It was tough for all of us to see those guys go down,” Thiem said. “So it was really no hesitation to run out there and get them.”

By the time the 14-hour battle concluded, four Afghan commandos had been killed, three Americans were wounded, and several more Afghans were also wounded. No Americans were killed.

“If not for the courage, calm demeanor and decisive action of Sergeant Thiem, many more friendly lives would have been lost during this ferocious engagement,” the narrative said.

Thiem ultimately directed 22 attack and ISR aircraft. During the 18 complex close-air support engagements Thiem coordinated, aircraft dropped 3,000 pounds of bombs, fired 200 30mm rounds, and fired eight rockets, killing 33 Taliban.

But despite the honor of receiving the military’s third-highest award for heroism in combat, Thiem said receiving the gratitude of his fellow troops is even more humbling.

“I don’t even know if I have words to say what it feels like when they say that you saved their life,” Thiem said.
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« Reply #265 on: December 22, 2016, 09:47:50 AM »

Oldest Known Pearl Harbor Survivor, 104, Returns to Honor the Fallen

Oldest-Known Pearl Harbor Veteran, 104, Bulks Up for 75th Anniversary 1:38

The word "survivor" seems especially fitting when describing Ray Chavez — a 104-year-old gym rat who defies his age. Chavez first became a survivor on Dec. 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor.

"I can't forget it. I never will," he says of the attack.

Chavez was stationed at the U.S. naval base when the bombing started.

"I got very emotional that day. There were so many, many innocent people that were lost," he said.

Chavez has often returned to Hawaii over the years to honor those who died. Three years ago, the Navy veteran decided he wanted to go back this year for the 75th anniversary of the horrific attack.

In order to make that trip, Chavez started working out with the help of a trainer — putting on 20 pounds of muscle.

Pearl Harbor survivor Ray Chavez working out with his trainer

"I tell my clients all the time, when they say, 'I'm too old to do this or that,' I say, 'No, look at Ray, that excuse doesn't fly anymore,'" Chavez's trainer, Sean Thompson, says of his client's dedication.

With the help of his gym and Alaska Airlines, Chavez, a San Diego resident, got a first class ticket for the six-hour trip to Hawaii. He'll be there once again to honor so many who lost their lives in service of their country.

Ray Chavez receives a hero's welcome upon his arrival in Hawaii

When asked if he would be back in five years for the 80th anniversary, all Chavez had to say was, "If I can walk, I'll go." He'll be 109.

The oldest known Pearl Harbor survivor is as devoted as ever to the country he served.
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« Reply #266 on: December 22, 2016, 09:49:33 AM »

140 years late, Nevada veteran lauded with Medal of Honor

RENO, Nev. — A Nevada Army veteran who died without knowing he earned the nation's highest medal of bravery received the honor he's been owed for nearly 140 years in a ceremony on Monday.

Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei held an event at his Reno office to present a new Medal of Honor to Jerry Reynolds, the 82-year-old grandson of the late Pvt. Robert Smith.

Smith fought in a battle against American Indian tribes in the Dakota Territory on Sept. 9, 1876, when he was 29 years old. Then-President Rutherford B. Hayes approved the Medal of Honor for Smith in 1877 for showing "special bravery in endeavoring to dislodge Indians secreted in a ravine," according to Army records.

See Robert Smith's Medal of Honor citation here

But the award never made it to the veteran, who was born Harry Reynolds but used an alias for unknown reasons. His grandson said the medal was delivered to Camp Sheridan in Nebraska Territory, where Smith had previously lived, but someone else signed for the package.

Smith returned to using his birth name after his discharge from the Army, then later moved to Elko, Nevada. He died in 1930 without knowing he earned the award.

Nevada Republican Rep. Mark Amodei, right, presents the Medal of Honor to Jerry Reynolds on Dec. 19, 2016, in Reno, Nev. Reynolds' grandfather, who was born Harry Reynolds but was known in the Army by his alias Pvt. Robert Smith, died before knowing he earned the prestigious award for bravery during a battle in the Dakota Territory in 1876.
Photo Credit: Stacey Parobek via AP

In 2011, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War contacted Jeffrey Reynolds to let him know about his grandfather's award. Smith had served as a drummer boy in the Civil War before enlisting in the Army in 1872 under the pseudonym.

Jerry Reynolds contacted Amodei's office this summer to seek help getting a new medal. Congressional staff worked with the Army's Command Awards and Decorations Branch, which announced on Oct. 14 that they would provide a medal to the family as a symbol of the one that was never presented to Smith.
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« Reply #267 on: December 28, 2016, 07:47:58 PM »

Only soldier to be nominated for 3 Medal of Honors was the real “Rambo”
By Andy Wolf| April 15th, 2016|Military News

Colonel Robert L. Howard

As one of the bloodier conflicts in American history, the Vietnam War harvested its share of heroic men from the populace of Anytown, USA. From the streets of Brooklyn to the bayous of Louisiana and mountains of Colorado, ‘Nam brought on all kinds, with exceptional tales of heroism documented on a daily basis. In total, the Vietnam War yielded 258 Congressional Medals of Honor, each for outstanding acts of bravery from America’s fighting man.

Colonel Robert L. Howard was one such fighting man. Not only was he awarded the Medal of Honor, he was recommended for it three separate times.

Originally an enlisted man, the Alabama native joined in 1956 at the age of seventeen. Eventually, he would find himself working with the super-secretive MACV-SOG, a multi-service special operations unit that conducted special warfare operations.

As a platoon sergeant of the 5th Special Forces group in December of 1968, then-SFC Howard disembarked a helicopter with mission orders to rescue a missing American soldier behind enemy lines, leading a mixture of American and South Vietnamese troops.

As the helicopter took off from the landing zone, Howard’s unit found themselves ambushed by two companies of North Vietnamese soldiers. During the initial battle, Howard and his platoon leader were hit by shrapnel from an exploding grenade, which badly wounded the pair and destroyed Howard’s weapon.

Completely unarmed and unable to walk, Howard crawled through heavy gunfire to grab his fallen platoon leader, administering first aid on site.

Then, the unthinkable happened: as Howard was administering air, an enemy bullet struck Howard’s ammo pouch just right, detonating several magazines of ammunition. Crippled, confused and disoriented, Howard took cover and evaluated the situation, coming to the realization that the scattered platoon would be wiped out without guidance.

Shouldering his testicular fortitude and sucking in his chest, Howard crawled to his platoon leader and dragged them both back to friendly lines before rallying his platoon into an organized defensive formation. Still unarmed and unable to walk, Howard crawled from position to position, encouraging his men and administering first aid while directing fire upon the enemy.

The lush, green environment was alight with muzzle flashes as tracer fire pierced the thick, humid air. The noise was unbearably loud as Soviet and American-made small arms shouted over one another, punctuated by the flat thud of grenades and the faint sound of human voices. Men on both sides dug their boots deeper in the dirt as the tiny American-led force tried desperately to hold off the advance of the vastly superior numbers of North Vietnamese.

The battle raged on for three and a half hours, with Howard’s small force denying victory to the Vietnamese companies on the ground while close air support cleared the way for rescue helicopters. Upon arrival of the evacuation helos, Howard oversaw the loading of the wounded and did not allow himself to be lifted into the helicopter until all of his boys were aboard.

For his absolute selflessness and courage under fire, Howard was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Promoted to 1st Lieutenant, Howard was wounded 14 times in a single 54-month period during Vietnam. In addition to the Medal of Honor, Howard also held the Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star, four Legion of Merits, eight Purple Hearts, three Meritorious Service meals, four Bronze Stars, three Air Medals, a Joint Service Commendation, seven Army Commendation medals, the Combat Infantry Badge and several other awards. In short, he probably had to pin his dress coat to his shirt to prevent it from falling off from the sheer weight of his medals.

Howard stayed in the Army until 1992, serving a full 36 years and owning the title of most highly-decorated active duty servicemember until he retired as a Colonel. He worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs afterwards, accruing 50 years of government service, two Master’s degrees and even took periodic “vacations” to Iraq in order to visit active duty troops serving in a war that became increasingly similar to his own.

Howard died in December of 2009, at the age of seventy years old. While one could say that Howard lost his battle against pancreatic cancer, we’d like to think he pulled the pin on the grenade of mortality and took cancer with him, as the only being capable of taking Robert Howard’s life was Robert Howard himself.
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« Reply #268 on: January 02, 2017, 08:12:53 AM »

Highest-ranking D-Day survivor, who flew 69 combat missions, has died
By: Staff report, December 30, 2016

The highest-ranking survivor of the D-Day invasion during World War II has died.

Retired Gen. Seth McKee was 100. He died Dec. 26 in Scottsdale, Arizona, according to The Arizona Republic, citing McKee’s wife, Sally.

Just two months ago, McKee was awarded the National Order of the Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier 5, according to the Air Force. That’s the highest honor France bestows on its citizens and foreign nationals.

McKee, who began his military career in 1935, logged more than 190 hours in 69 combat missions in the P-38 Lightning​, and is credited with downing two enemy aircraft. He flew cover for the D-Day invasion and was involved in bombing missions at Saint-Lo, the Falaise Gap and the Battle of the Bulge.

After World War II, McKee held positions of increasing responsibility both at home and overseas.

He retired in 1973 as commander of the North American Air Defense Command.

Retired Gen. Seth McKee, then a lieutenant colonel, stands next to his P-38 Lightning, named for his wife, during World War II. The two swastikas represent German planes he shot down before D-Day. McKee died Dec. 26, 2016. He was 100.
Photo Credit: Courtesy photo by Pat Shannahan via the Air Force

In a 2014 interview with The Arizona Republic, McKee described his service during the war.

“If you were afraid to die, you can’t be a fighter pilot in the war,” he said, the paper reported. “Chances were you were not going to make it.”

McKee told the paper he didn’t think about the danger at the time.

“It didn’t get to me at the time,” he said. “I knew I was the best fighter pilot in the war, and I was pretty lucky.”

McKee also joked about being a leader in the Air Force.

“I always liked to be in command,” he told the paper. “I always liked to be in charge. I was able to do it in every place except my marriage.”

Retired Gen. Seth McKee, the highest-ranking D-Day invasion survivor, died Dec. 26, 2016. He was 100.
Photo Credit: Air Force

McKee was born in 1916 in McGehee, Arkansas, according to his official Air Force bio.

He began his military career in 1935 as a member of the Missouri National Guard, and his ​career as an aviator ​in 1938. McKee graduated from flight training in February 1939.

After the war, McKee served in Florida, California, Alabama, Italy, Georgia, Nebraska, South Dakota and the Pentagon. He also served as commander of U.S. Forces Japan and Fifth Air Force before being appointed assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force in 1968.

McKee’s career culminated at NORAD, where he served from 1969 to 1973.

His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters, as well as awards from countries such as France, Belgium, Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
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« Reply #269 on: February 02, 2017, 04:58:03 PM »

Mom dedicates life to honoring soldier son who helped 60 people through organ donation
By  Melinda Carstensen   
Published February 02, 2017

Jill Stephenson with her late son, Benjamin Kopp, who died in 2009 while on the battlefield in Afghanistan.  (Courtesy Jill Stephenson)
Kopp, who was 21 when he died, was inspired by his great-grandfather to join the military. The 9/11 attacks confirmed his decision.
Through organ, tissue and bone donation, Kopp saved or improved 60 lives.

After Cpl. Benjamin Kopp saved three lives on the battlefield in Afghanistan, he saved or improved 60 more when doctors couldn’t revive him from a devastating war injury. It’s all because of an idea he settled on before he joined the U.S. Army at age 18: to become an organ donor.

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) recently dedicated a memorial to fallen troops who have donated their organs, like Kopp, and Kopp’s mother, Jill Stephenson, has made it her life’s work to raise awareness about the impact that organ donation can make.

Kopp was 21 when a gunfight led to a shot in the leg and eventual brain death, allowing him to donate the rest of his organs, as well as his bones and tissues.

“It’s Ben’s spirit that helps me stay in a calm and graceful state that allows me to really honor him,” Stephenson, who lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, told Fox News.
‘What you’re meant to be’

Stephenson raised Kopp as a single mother, and her grandfather, a World War II veteran with a Purple Heart, served as Kopp’s primary father figure. As early as age 7, Kopp would scour his great-grandfather’s war memorabilia and hammer him with questions about his service, Stephenson recalled.

“[Ben] wanted to grow up just like him, and he would state this often,” Stephenson said. “My grandfather would say, ‘That’s never OK; you should never do something just because someone else does, and when the time is right you’ll know what you’re meant to be.’”

Five and a half months after his great-grandfather died, Kopp watched the news coverage with horror as the terror attacks of 9/11 unfolded.

“To [Ben], 9/11 was a true mockery of his great-grandfather’s service to America, so he made a statement and said that when he grows up, ‘I’m gonna become an Army Ranger, and I’m gonna find Usama bin Laden, and I’m gonna make him pay.’ He was 13 when he made that declaration.”

Even before joining the military right out of high school, Kopp knew the importance of organ donation, Stephenson said. When Stephenson was 15, her 11-year-old brother was hit by a driver and killed, but he donated his kidneys. Kopp grew up knowing his uncle’s story, so he never questioned whether he would become an organ donor, Stephenson said.

In the face of previous loss, Stephenson said some friends questioned her willingness to let her only son put his life on the line by joining the military.

“There were a number of people who asked me why I didn’t stop him, with him being my only child … and I said, ‘That’s between him and God, and not me, and it wasn’t my place to get in the way of that,’” Stephenson said.

Not to mention, Kopp told her that if she didn’t sign the papers to let him join, he’d “sign them himself,” she recalled.

‘A prime candidate’

On July 10, 2009, Kopp’s team was called in to help relieve three U.S. Army snipers who had been pinned down by Taliban snipers. As a gun team leader, Kopp engaged in a gun fight to save their lives but took a bullet to the leg that would cost him his.

Before being transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Kopp was treated at an Army base in Germany, where he suffered cardiac arrest following a successful surgery to remove the bullet. Doctors tried to use a defibrillator to revive him, but the device didn’t have batteries, Stephenson said, so they performed a thoracotomy incision to restore his breathing. However, the oxygen machine malfunctioned, she explained, leading Kopp’s body to be insufficiently oxygenated and his brain to swell. Kopp never woke up from his induced coma, Stephenson said, and several standard tests confirmed he was brain dead.

The nature of Kopp’s case presented a rare opportunity for generosity. Because he became brain dead prior to his death but maintained perfect physical health otherwise, his bones, tissues and other organs were all eligible for reuse.

“He was a 21-year-old Army Ranger— he was in tip-top shape,” Stephenson said.

By happenstance, Kopp’s heart was a good fit for one of Stephenson’s cousin’s friends, Judy Meikle, of Winnetka, Illinois, who needed a transplant due to a congenital defect she learned she had at age 57. She received Kopp’s heart on July 20, 2009, two days after his death, and regularly recruits new organ donors at her local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

“When I meet people, I put their hand on my heart and say, ‘Meet Cpl. Ben Kopp, and usually if I don’t get tears at least 20 percent of the time, I’m not doing my job,” Meikle, who at age 64 can do everything she did before she got sick, told Fox “It’s such a wonderful gift that Jill and Ben gave me.”

Stephenson met Meikle, as well as her son’s liver recipient and the two people who received his kidneys six weeks after he died. That day, she was speaking to a crowd of 1,100 people for the Washington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC), which recovers donated organs and tissues for transplants, research and therapy.

‘A gift from him’

Lisa Colaianni, a donor family advocate for WRTC who has known Stephenson since Kopp died, described Stephenson as “an amazingly strong woman.”

“I think it comforts her soul that she has an opportunity to talk about her Ben and his energy everywhere,” Colaianni told Fox News. “She’s very faithful and spiritual, and it’s just another journey for her.”

Today, Stephenson calls herself a “motivational speaker and life coach,” as she travels across the country speaking at conferences to discuss how organ donation can save lives.

“I’ve never been introverted or not willing to take a leadership role but Ben’s death certainly opened up something in me that I didn’t know existed, and I believe it’s a gift from him,” Stephenson said.

Last year, UNOS reported a record number of donated organs partially fueled by the opioid abuse epidemic, said Anne Paschke, a spokeswoman for UNOS. Although no organization tracks the number of servicemen and women who have donated their organs, Paschke told Fox News, UNOS observed there were over 33,600 transplants in 2016— an 8.5 percent increase over the 2015 total and a nearly 20 percent increase since 2012.

And yet, every 10 minutes, someone is added to the national transplant waiting list. UNOS estimates 22 people die every day waiting for a transplant.

“When somebody is waiting for an organ, they are asking for prayers,” Stephenson said. “They don’t pray for someone else to die so their loved ones can live; they just want their prayer answered. And when you donate your organs, you are answering the prayers of strangers— and I can’t think of a more selfless gift than that.”

"Heart of a Ranger," a book about Kopp and Meikle's connection, is slated for publication sometime this spring.
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« Reply #270 on: February 02, 2017, 05:19:41 PM »

Wow. Take some time off!? Dos Equis - the copy-and-post warrior. Let me know when he posts up an original (political) thought... Roll Eyes 
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« Reply #271 on: February 02, 2017, 05:50:18 PM »

Wow. Take some time off!? Dos Equis - the copy-and-post warrior. Let me know when he posts up an original (political) thought... Roll Eyes 

We've been telling you the left doesn't have a clue and proved it. I'm fine with the cut and paste because all it does is back what's been said all along. You're clueless.
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« Reply #272 on: February 17, 2017, 04:24:19 PM »

3 Green Berets receive Silver Star for deadly Afghanistan ambush
By: Meghann Myers,  February 17, 2017

Things were going reasonably well for a group of Special Forces soldiers looking to disrupt Taliban operations in a small Afghanistan village last year, until the team came upon a 20-foot-tall steel gate that no one had anticipated.

Surrounded on two more sides by 10-foot walls, the 59-man group -- 10 special operators from 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, two U.S. support elements and a handful of Afghan soldiers -- found themselves in a harrowing firefight on Nov. 2.

"The spider senses were definitely tingling, being up there at that gate," Sgt. 1st Class Sean Morrison said in a Feb. 9 Army release.

For two hours the group held back the attack, dubbed the Battle of Boz Qandahari, killing 27 insurgents and three high-value Taliban commanders, the release said.

The attack took the lives of two Green Berets: Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Gloyer and Maj. Andrew Byers.

10th SFG Silver Star ceremony
Gen. John Nicholson, commander of the Resolute Support mission and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, left, congratulates Sgt. 1st Class Brian Seidl, 10th Special Forces Group, after presenting him with the Silver Star award Feb. 1, 2017 at Fort Carson, Colorado.

For his heroism, Byers was posthumously awarded the Silver Star on Feb. 1. Two of his surviving teammates, Sgt. 1st Class Brian Seidl and Staff Sgt. Andrew Russell, also received the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest award for valor.

'Into machine gun fire'

The team was dropped into a flooded field near the Boz Qandahari village in Kunduz province that night, where they slogged a mile in waist-deep mud to get to the village, which one soldier described as castle-like.

"Just steep, 100-foot-high cliffs on all sides of the village with only one entry way," Morrison said.

To get in, they had to climb the cliff face carved with switchback trails to the top.

Drones above let them know that enemy combatants were closing in on the group, but they pushed ahead, clearing two compounds uneventfully while collecting contraband and intelligence.

Because of bad weather in the forecast, they decided to skip to the fourth compound on the list, where they ran into the huge gate and found themselves surrounded by insurgents.

Gloyer, who had been at the gate with Seidl and Staff Sgt. Adam Valderrama, was mortally wounded by the first grenade blast. He managed to run back to the group, but didn't survive.

As enemy fire surrounded them, then-Capt. Byers did not hesitate.

"Byers sprinted past me," Seidl  said. "He just ran straight into the smoke and the dust." 

Seidl followed Byers into the kill zone to rescue a fallen Afghan soldier.

Maj. Andrew Byers, left, was posthumously awarded the Silver Star on Feb. 1. Two of his surviving teammates, Sgt. 1st Class Brian Seidl, center, and Staff Sgt. Andrew Russell, right, also received the Silver Star for their actions.

Photo Credit: Army

Meanwhile, Russell, a junior weapons sergeant, risked his own life to save a wounded warrant officer.

"I grabbed [Warrant Officer 1 Meade] by his plate carrier," he said, "dragged him back a few feet and tried to get in front of him, between what was basically a three-way kill zone. ... I thought I was dead."

And thanks to him, Meade made it, and is recovering from his injuries at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

"He ran into machine gun fire to get me," said Meade, "Then, whenever he couldn't drag me any further, he laid down on top of me and protected me with his own body."

Seidl witnessed Russell's heroism as well.

"He's engaging [the enemy] in three different directions," Seidl said. "And all the while, he managed to get tourniquets on both of [Meade's] legs, saving his life."

Byers and Seidl worked together to set up a defensive area to care for the wounded, choosing one of the village's compounds. After throwing grenades inside to clear it, Byers tried to kick the gate open, but an object on the other side held it shut, so he reached through to move it.

"And that's when I watched the rounds rip through the gate and into [Byers]," Seidl remembered.

With Byers and Meade, the team and assistant team leaders, wounded, Seidl was left to call in MEDEVACs. A third of the group had been killed or injured, so it was up to him to hold on until a quick reaction force could get there.

It was past dawn by the time the exfiltration team showed up, forcing the operators to move the wounded 300 meters to a covered treeline for concealment, using a village donkey to carry Gloyer's body.

In addition to the three Silver Stars, the team earned three Bronze Stars (two with "V" device), four Army Commendation Medals with "V" device and six Purple Heart Medals.

"Some of the things that I saw of the men that night was some of the most courageous and amazing things I'd ever seen," Seidl said, "or could ever hope to see."
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« Reply #273 on: March 27, 2017, 02:31:36 PM »

Purple Heart: 92-year-old Veteran Awarded for WWII Service

Image: Purple Heart: 92-year-old Veteran Awarded for WWII Service
Oscar Davis Jr, a 92-year-old World War II veteran who served with the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, smiles on Saturday, March 25, 2017, after being awarded a Purple Heart medal for wounds suffered in Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge. (Andrew Craft/The Fayetteville Observer via AP)
By Karl Nelson   |   Monday, 27 Mar 2017

A Purple Heart has been awarded to a 92-year-old veteran who fought in Belgium during World War II more than 70 years ago.

Oscar Davis Jr. received his Purple Heart medal on Saturday, which was long overdue for the North Carolina man who was paralyzed from the waist down for three weeks after a tree fell on him, damaging his spine during the Battle of the Bulge, according to the Fayetteville Observer.

Davis -- a radio telephone operator in WWII – was told that he would be honored with a Purple Heart decades ago, according to The Associated Press. However, there was apparently some paperwork that had never been signed, which contributed to the delay.

Davis was a very happy man, though, when Lt. Col. Marcus Wright pinned his jacket with the Purple Heart over the weekend at Heritage Place in Fayetteville, where the war veteran currently resides.

"This has been some day," Davis said, according to the AP. "I couldn’t believe all this was going to happen. I just want to thank the Lord."

This comes after Davis received the Bronze Star among other medals in 2015 in a ceremony at the U.S. Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, the AP noted.

Capt. Andrew Hammack said Davis is "still one of us," adding that "he’s just not currently reporting for duty," the AP noted.

It’s been said that the radio Davis had on his back when he was wounded is what saved his life, the Fayetteville Observer noted.

Davis, at the time, had been knocked down by a big piece of shrapnel before the artillery caused a tree to fall on him, pinning him.

The Purple Heart medal is awarded to troops who were either wounded or killed in battle. The medal was inspired by the world’s oldest military honor – the Badge of Military Merit.
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« Reply #274 on: April 18, 2017, 12:30:39 PM »

Fallen Green Beret with 5 Kids Honored by 'GoFundMe' Efforts

Image: Fallen Green Beret with 5 Kids Honored by 'GoFundMe' Efforts
By Cathy Burke   |   Saturday, 15 Apr 2017

Donations have poured in to support the wife and five children of a fallen Green Beret killed fighting ISIS in Afghanistan on April 8 – far exceeding a $15,000 goal with a total of more than $293,000 collected in two days.

The GoFundMe page to help the family of Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar was started by a military wife who is also a family friend.

"Our community has been hit hard in the last passing months and I just felt the need to try and do my part and help out his family," Nikki Damron wrote on the donation page, adding that De Alencar's wife "now has the task of raising their five kids on her own." The children range in age from 3 to 17, Biz Pac Review reported.

"As a fellow military wife, I feel it is my duty to make every effort to ensure his wife and family are taken care of," she wrote.

De Alencar was hit when his unit encountered small arms fire in Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province, the Pentagon said in a statement. His unit was based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

"Joining SF was a huge dream of Marks, one he worked very hard to achieve," Damron wrote on the donation page.

Last Thursday, the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat by the U.S. military was detonated in Nangarhar, targeting an ISIS tunnel complex and killing more than 90 ISIS militants.
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