Category Archives: History

Colonel Tony Nadal – Lecture on the Battle of #IaDrang

TonyNadal
COL Nadal delivering his lecture (Author’s Photo)

On Monday, November 16, 2015, I attended a lecture by retired United States Army Colonel Ramon “Tony” Nadal at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, PA. Fifty years previously – November 14-16, 1965 – Nadal was a Captain and a company commander in the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of Ia Drang.

Colonel Nadal was Medal of Honor recipient Joe Marm‘s company commander, and himself received the Silver Star for his own heroism during the battle. My interview with Joe Marm was broadcast as part of the November 14, 2015 edition of Their Finest Hour on Vigilant Liberty Radio.

The below recording is unedited. I hope you find it interesting.

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“Trinity” – 70 Years of the Nuclear Age

Seventy years ago today at 0529 hours and 21 seconds Mountain War Time (equivalent to today’s DST, 0729 Eastern Daylight Time), the military personnel and civilian scientists of the Manhattan Project succeeded in their goal of producing a nuclear explosive.

Trinity, the code name for the world’s first nuclear detonation, opened the nuclear age. Less than one month later, the United States used the first two nuclear weapons in combat against Japan in the attacks on Hiroshima (August 6, 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9, 1945).

Continue reading “Trinity” – 70 Years of the Nuclear Age

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Remembering Tarawa: November 20-23, 1943

The Battle of Tarawa, also known as Operation GALVANIC, was launched on November 20, 1943 in the Gilbert Islands as the United States and our allies began their counteroffensive advance across the Pacific Ocean towards Japan.

We had conducted landings and fought ashore previously – Guadalcanal and New Georgia – but those campaigns in the Solomon Islands and vicinity were more defensive actions designed to protect the sea lanes between the United States and Australia. Up until the beginning of the Bougainville Campaign on November 1, 1943, the Japanese had always placed their defenses inland away from landing areas. The Bougainville landing at Cape Torokina saw our Marines met at the water’s edge.

It would be a grim predictor of what landing on Tarawa would be like.

Tarawa Atoll comprises several islands surrounded by coral reefs. Tidal cycles can make it difficult to approach shore at times, as the reefs become dangerously shallow at low tide. The largest of the islands, Betio, was the site of the atoll’s airfield, home to most of the Japanese defenders, and the primary point of attack for our Navy and Marine Corps.

Betio is barely a quarter-mile across at its widest point. The island is only about a mile-and-a-half long. The total land area is only 1.5 square kilometers, about six-tenths of a square mile. For comparison, that’s 44 percent of the size of New York City’s Central Park. Or, if you want another way to visualize, about the same footprint as that occupied by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana.

Occupying Betio were 2,619 Japanese soldiers and about another 2,200 mixed Japanese and Korean construction laborers. The initial American assault force was primarily the reinforced 2nd Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Division. Elements of the 6th Marine Regiment would be landed and brought into action on the second day of the battle.

The United States had assembled an impressive armada for the attack: 17 aircraft carriers, 12 battleships, and 8 heavy cruisers, along with the entire host of other escorts, transports, and support ships. After an early gunnery duel with shore batteries and aerial bombardment, the invasion fleet commenced their pre-landing bombardment of Betio at 0610 on November 20, 1943.

The ships flung hundreds of tons of shells ashore at Japanese positions for almost three hours. The Marines waiting in their landing craft to head for shore assuredly thought the defenders would be smashed by naval artillery. Unfortunately, the planners had underestimated both the strength of the Japanese fortifications, and more importantly, the tidal cycles.

Twice a month, Tarawa doesn’t have the high tide roll in. November 20, 1943 was one of those two days in the cycle, and that wasn’t accounted for in the attack plan. The assault craft approaching the beaches needed a minimum of five feet of water to clear the reefs.

There was four feet of water or less covering the reefs.

Dozens of landing craft hung up on the coral. They were sitting ducks to enemy fire. Their cargoes of Marines and equipment were stranded around 500 yards from shore, and those aboard had no choice but to wade in under fire. The limited number of tracked landing vehicles the Marines had at the time could get across the reefs, but their very light armor protection didn’t prevent them from being shot up and rendered unseaworthy.

It’s estimated that fully one-half of the casualties suffered on the first day of GALVANIC were suffered by men who never reached the shore.

The three days of fighting that followed were some of the most intense yet seen by the United States in World War II. Casualty figures vary depending on source, but in the four days from November 20-23, 1943, approximately 1,696 Americans were killed and 2,101 wounded. For comparison, during the entire six months of the Guadalcanal Campaign, 7,100 Americans and Allied servicemen lost their lives.

The largest single loss of life was suffered on the morning of November 23 when the Japanese submarine I-175 got inside the defensive screens and fired a single torpedo at the escort aircraft carrier USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56). The torpedo caused one of  Liscome Bay‘s magazines to explode and the ship sank in seconds, taking 644 of her 916 crew members with her. African-American sailor Dorie Miller, a hero of Pearl Harbor and recipient of the Navy Cross, was one of the lost.

Four courageous Marines received the Medal of Honor for their heroism at Tarawa:

No fewer than 46 men received the Navy Cross and 248 the Silver Star for valor during the Battle of Tarawa.

In grim indication of the fighting and carnage yet to come during the advance across the Pacific, and the fanatic lengths to which the Japanese enemy would fight for every inch of ground, 4,690 of the Tarawa occupiers were killed. Just 17 Japanese soldiers and 129 of the laborers lived to surrender and be captured.

There are still over five hundred Americans killed or listed as missing in action at Tarawa who remain unaccounted for. It is still hoped that one day they may all be brought home. The moving documentary Until They Are Home (available on Netflix) details some of the efforts to locate and identify the missing.

I encourage you to watch the full documentary. It’s only about an hour long, and hopefully you’ll feel as much admiration as I do for those who to this day, seventy years later, are so dedicated to seeing that every American lost in battle overseas is one day identified and brought home.

Never forget.

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The Gettysburg Address, 150 Years Later

I must begin this post by admitting a failing of my blogging here at Their Finest Hour. I had fully intended to write a spate of posts this past July for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863 – and they didn’t happen, mainly because I was otherwise consumed with “day job” and non-blogging personal life concerns. With this post, I hope to make up for one little bit of what I had originally intended to author.

On November 19, 1863, the national military cemetery at Gettysburg was dedicated. President Abraham Lincoln was invited to attend and offer some brief remarks, but he wasn’t even the featured speaker. That honor was given to a noted orator of the time, Edward Everett, who spoke for over two hours.

When Everett had finished, it was President Lincoln’s turn. His brief remarks took only a few minutes to deliver. They so simply, and so eloquently, recounted the heroism and sacrifices that took place upon those grounds that they are the speech that is today remembered as the Gettysburg Address, and are considered to be perhaps the greatest Presidential speech ever given.

The address follows, as does a story of incredible courage from July 2, 1863 that you probably don’t know about – and it’s a story of a single action by a commander and the men he ordered that may very well have saved the Union.

There are several written contemporaneous copies of the Gettysburg Address that all differ slightly. The one accepted as the definitive version is called the “Bliss version”, written by Lincoln some time after the actual event, and the only copy to which he placed his signature.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

I should think that most of my readers are familiar with one of the acts which so consecrated the Gettysburg battlefield: the charge of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment under the command of Colonel Joshua Chamberlain in the defense of Little Round Top. Chamberlain’s charge on the afternoon of July 2, 1863 is well known today thanks to Michael Shaara’s historical novel The Killer Angels and the 1993 film made from it, Gettysburg. With no ammunition left, and with no room for retreat, this one Maine regiment fixed their bayonets and attacked – and may well have saved the republic by doing so.
However, there was another charge on July 2, 1863 that hasn’t been placed on the movie screen. At about 6:00 PM that day, the Confederate division under the command of Major General Richard H. Anderson threatened the Union center on Cemetery Ridge. The Union commander there, Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, was desperately short of reinforcements. If the line on Cemetery Ridge faltered, the Confederate forces could sweep into the Union rear and destroy the Army of the Potomac.
Hancock observed a Confederate brigade approaching in the attack with no Union force in front of it. He knew the only way he would be able to hold the then-precarious defensive position on Cemetery Ridge was to trade lives for time.
Those lives belonged to the 262 men of the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, under the command of Colonel William Colvill.
General Hancock ordered the Minnesotans to advance and seize the attacking enemy colors, even though the Confederate force was perhaps five times larger. They charged with their bayonets fixed, and while suffering enormous casualties, their own colors knocked to the ground several times, they persisted, struggled, advanced, and miraculously blunted the enemy attack and forced their withdrawal.
40 of the Minnesotans gave their lives in the charge. A further 175 were wounded. 215 casualties out of 262 men; 82 percent. No other unit of the United States Army has ever sustained such catastrophic losses in one action.
And we probably have a Gettysburg Address delivered by a President of the United States rather than the Confederate States to thank them for.
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The Beirut Bombing – 30 Years

The Multinational Force (MNF) in Lebanon was created in August 1982 following a request from the Lebanese government to the United Nations for “peacekeepers” to intervene in the Lebanese Civil War, which had heated up after the Israelis invaded Lebanon on June 6, 1982 with the aim of destroying forces belonging to the Palestine Liberation Organization in the south of the country bordering Israel.

The United States’ main contribution to to the Multinational Force was a United States Marine Corps “Marine Amphibious Unit” or “MAU”, known today as a “Marine Expeditionary Unit” or “MEU”. A MAU/MEU is formed around a reinforced infantry battalion known as a “Battalion Landing Team” or “BLT”. Both France and Italy also committed large forces to the peacekeeping effort. The MNF was located solely in the Lebanese capital of Beirut.

The Marines’ headquarters was at, and their positions surrounded, the Beirut International Airport.

The “peacekeeping” situation in Lebanon took a definite turn for the worse on April 18, 1983 when terrorists used a suicide truck bomb to attack the US Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 including 17 Americans. When the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit, including a BLT formed from the 1st Battalion 8th Marines, relieved their sister formation the 22nd Marine Amphibious Unit in May 1983, they faced an almost untenable tactical situation and the undesirable role of interposing themselves between warring factions who really didn’t care who was in the way.

Throughout the summer and fall of 1983, warring factions and terrorists in Lebanon increasingly targeted the MNF, Americans as well as the French and Italians. Actions taken by the MNF on behalf of the Lebanese government who asked for them caused them to be seen by the warring sides as active participants in the civil war, rather than “peacekeepers”.

The status of forces as “peacekeepers” in Lebanon – and the restrictive rules of engagement they were required to operate under – meant that our Marines and others were largely without the means to defend themselves if beset upon by a rapidly attacking and determined enemy.

On the morning of October 23, 1983 – thirty years ago today – a suicide bomber drove a truck laden with as much as ten tons of explosives past the weak barricades protecting the Marine Barracks at the airport, past the Marine sentries with unloaded weapons, and straight into the front of the building.

The bomb detonated at 6:22 AM. 241 Americans, mostly from BLT 1/8, were killed.

Less than ten minutes later, another suicide truck bomber detonated his deadly cargo in front of the French military barracks: 58 French paratroopers were killed.

The United States and France retaliated with air strikes and naval gunfire from ships off shore, including the 16-inch main battery of the battleship USS New Jersey (BB-62) into 1984, but without any increased commitment of ground forces or intent to act as anything but “peacekeepers”.

United States forces left Lebanon on February 26, 1984. The French pulled out by the end of March. The situation in Lebanon was essentially left the same as it was when they had gotten there: in the midst of civil war. There is no other way to put it but that the United States left defeated, and that is a lesson terrorists did not fail to learn.

Ed Morrissey at HotAir has posted his own tribute and remembrance to the events of October 23, 1983 that expands upon the lasting security implications of the attacks that day.

From September 1982 through their withdrawal in February 1984, a total of 267 American servicemen lost their lives in Lebanon: seven United States Army, one United States Air Force, nineteen United States Navy, and 240 Marines. The names of all of them follow.

  • Abbott, Terry W. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Alexander, Clemon S. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Allman, John R. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Arnold, Moses J. Jr. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Bailey, Charles K. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Baker, Nicholas – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Banks, Johansen – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Barrett, Richard E. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Bates, Ronny K. – Hospital Corpsman 1st Class, USN – 10/23/83
  • Battle, David L. – First Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Baynard, James R. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Beamon, Jesse W. – Hospitalman, USN – 10/23/83
  • Belmer, Alvin. – Gunnery Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Biddle, Shannon D. – Corporal, USMC – 12/4/83
  • Bland, Stephen – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Blankenship, Richard L. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Blocker, John W. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Boccia, Joseph J. Jr. – Captain, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Bohannon, Leon Jr. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Bohnet, John R. Jr. – Staff Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Bonk, John J. Jr. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Boulos, Jeffrey L. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Bousum, David R. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Boyett, John N. – First Lieutenant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Brown, Anthony – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Brown, David W. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Buchanan, Bobby S. Jr. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Buckmaster, John B. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Burley, William F. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Butler, Alfred III – Captain, USMC – 2/9/84
  • Cain, Jimmy R. – Hospitalman, USN – 10/23/83
  • Callahan, Paul L. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Camara, Mecot E. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Campus, Bradley J. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Carlson, Randall A. – Major, USA – 9/25/82
  • Ceasar, Johnnie D. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Cherman, Sam – Corporal, USMC – 12/4/83
  • Clark, Randy W. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 9/6/83
  • Cole, Marc L. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Coleman, Marcus A. – Specialist 4th Class, USA – 10/23/83
  • Comas, Juan M. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Conley, Robert A. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Cook, Charles D. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Cooper, Curtis J. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Copeland, Johnny L. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Corcoran, Bert D. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Cosner, David L. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Coulman, Kevin P. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Cox, Manuel A. – Sergeant, USMC – 12/4/83
  • Croft, Brett A. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Crudale, Rick R. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Custard, Kevin P. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Cyzick, Russell E. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Daugherty, David L. – Corporal, USMC – 12/4/83
  • Davis, Andrew L. – Major, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Decker, Sidney James – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Devlin, Michael J. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Dibenedetto, Thomas A. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Dorsey, Nathaniel G. – Private, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Douglass, Frederick B. – Sergeant Major, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Dramis, George L. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 1/30/84
  • Dunnigan, Timothy J. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Earle, Bryan L. – Hospitalman, USN – 10/23/83
  • Edwards, Roy L. – Master Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Elliot, William D. Jr. – Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class, USN – 10/23/83
  • Ellison, Jesse – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Estes, Danny R. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Estler, Sean F. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Evans, Thomas A. – Corporal, USMC – 12/4/83
  • Faulk, James E. – Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class, USN – 10/23/83
  • Fluegel, Richard A. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Forrester, Steven M. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Foster, William B. Jr. – Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class, USN – 10/23/83
  • Fulcher, Michael D. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Fuller, Benjamin E. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Fulton, Michael S. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Gaines, William Jr. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Gallagher, Sean R. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Gander, David B. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Gangur, George M. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Gann, Leland E. – Staff Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Garcia, Randall J. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Garcia, Ronald J. – Staff Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Gargano, Edward J. – Corporal, USMC – 1/8/84
  • Gay, David D. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Ghumm, Harold D. – Staff Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Gibbs, Warner Jr. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Giblin, Timothy R. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Gorchinski, Michael W. – Chief Electronics Technician, USN – 10/23/83
  • Gordon, Richard J. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Gratton, Harold F. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Greaser, Robert B. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Green, Davin M. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Hairston, Thomas A. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Haltiwanger, Freddie Jr. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Hamilton, Virgel D. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Hanton, Gilbert – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Hart, William – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Haskell, Michael S. – Captain, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Hastings, Michael A. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Hattaway, Jeffrey T. – Private First Class, USMC – 12/4/83
  • Hein, Paul A. – Captain, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Held, Douglas E. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Helms, Mark A. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Henderson, Ferrandy D. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Hernandez, Matilde Jr. – Master Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Hernandez, Rodolfo – Lance Corporal, USMC – 1/30/84
  • Hester, Stanley G. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Hildreth, Donald W. – Gunnery Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Holberton, Richard H. – Staff Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Holland, Robert S. – Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class, USN – 10/23/83
  • Hollingshead, Bruce A. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Holmes, Melvin D. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Howard, Bruce L. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Hudson, John R. – Lieutenant, USN – 10/23/83
  • Hudson, Terry L. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Hue, Lyndon J. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Hukill, Maurice E. – Second Lieutenant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Iacovino, Edward S. Jr. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Ingalls, John J. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Innocenzi, Paul G. III – Warrant Officer, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Jackowski, James J. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • James, Jeffrey W. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Jenkins, Nathaniel W. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Johnson, Michael H. – Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class, USN – 10/23/83
  • Johnston, Edward A. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Jones, Steven – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Julian, Thomas A. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Kees, Marion E. – Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class, USN – 10/23/83
  • Keown, Thomas C. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Kimm, Edward E. – Gunnery Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Kingsley, Walter V. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Kluck, Daniel S. – Sergeant, USA – 10/23/83
  • Knipple, James C. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Kraft, Todd A. – Corporal, USMC – 12/4/83
  • Kreischer, Freas H. III – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Laise, Keith J. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Lamb, Thomas G. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Lange, Mark A. – Lieutenant, USN – 12/4/83
  • Langon, James J. IV – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Lariviere, Michael S. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Lariviere, Steven B. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Lemnah, Richard L. – Master Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Lewis, David A. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Lewis, Val S. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Livingston, Joseph R. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Losey, Donald George – Second Lieutenant, USMC – 8/29/83
  • Lyon, Paul D. Jr. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Macroglou, John W. – Major, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Maitland, Samuel – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Martin, Charlie R. – Staff Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Martin, Jack L. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Massa, David S. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Massman, Michael R. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Mattacchione, Joseph J. – Private, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Maxwell, Ben H. – Staff Sergeant, USA – 4/18/83
  • McCall, John – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • McDonough, James E. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • McMahon, Timothy R. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • McMaugh, Robert V. – Corporal, USMC – 4/18/83
  • McNeely, Timothy D. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • McVicker, George N. II – Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class, USN – 10/23/83
  • Melendez, Louis – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Menkins, Richard H. II – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Mercer, Michael D. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Meurer, Ronald W. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Milano, Joseph P. – Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class, USN – 10/23/83
  • Moore, Joseph P. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Morrow, Richard A. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Muffler, John F. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Munoz, Alex – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Myers, Harry D. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Nairn, David J. – First Lieutenant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Nava, Luis A. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Ohler, Michael J. – Captain, USMC – 10/16/83
  • Olson, John A. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Olson, Robert P. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Ortega, Alexander M. – Staff Sergeant, USMC – 8/29/83
  • Ortiz, Richard C. – Chief Warrant Officer 3, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Owen, Jeffrey B. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Owens, Joseph A. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Page, Connie Ray – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Parker, Ulysses – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Payne, Mark W. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Pearson, John L. – Gunnery Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Perkins, Marvin H. – Corporal, USMC – 12/4/83
  • Perron, Thomas S. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Phillips, John A. Jr. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Piercy, George W. – Chief Hospital Corpsman, USN – 10/23/83
  • Plymel, Clyde W. – First Lieutenant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Pollard, William H. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Pomalestorres, Rafael I. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Prevatt, Victor M. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Price, James C. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Prindeville, Patrick K. – Staff Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Pulliam, Eric A. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Quirante, Diomedes J. – Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class, USN – 10/23/83
  • Randolph, David M. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Ray, Charles R. – Gunnery Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Reagan, David L. – Corporal, USMC – 9/30/82
  • Relvas, Rui A. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Rich, Terrence L. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Richardson, Warren – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Rodriguez, Juan C. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Rotondo, Louis J. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Salazar, Mark E. – Staff Sergeant, USA – 4/18/83
  • San Pedro, Guillermo Jr. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Sauls, Michael C. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Schnorf, Charles J. – First Lieutenant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Schultz, Scott L. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Scialabba, Peter J. – Captain, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Scott, Gary R. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Shallo, Ronald L. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Shipp, Thomas A. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Shropshire, Jerryl D. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Silvia, James F. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Sliwinski, Stanley J. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Smith, Kirk H. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Smith, Thomas G. – Staff Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Smith, Vincent L. – Captain, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Soares, Edward – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Soifert, Alan H. – Staff Sergeant, USMC – 10/14/83
  • Sommerhof, William S. – First Lieutenant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Spaulding, Michael C. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Spearing, John W. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Spencer, Stephen E. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Stelpflug, Bill J. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Stephens, Horace R. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Stockton, Craig S. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Stokes, Jeffrey G. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Stowe, Thomas D. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Sturghill, Eric D. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Sundar, Devon L. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Surch, James F. Jr. – Lieutenant, USN – 10/23/83
  • Thompson, Dennis A. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Thorstad, Thomas P. – Staff Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Tingley, Stephen D. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Tishmack, John J. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Townsend, Henry Jr. – Corporal, USMC – 12/2/83
  • Trahan, Lex D. – Private, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Twine, Richard – Sergeant First Class, USA – 4/18/83
  • Valle, Pedro J. – Corporal, USMC – 9/6/83
  • Vallone, Donald H. Jr. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Walker, Eric R. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Walker, Leonard W. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Warren, Harley – Major, USAF – 9/25/82
  • Washington, Eric G. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Weekes, Obrian – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Wells, Tandy W. – First Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Wentworth, Steven B. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Wesley, Allen D. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • West, Lloyd D. – Gunnery Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Weyl, John R. – Staff Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Wherland, Burton D. Jr. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Wigglesworth, Dwayne W. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Williams, Rodney J. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Williams, Scipio Jr. – Gunnery Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Williamson, Johnny A. – Lance Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Wint, Walter E. Jr. – Captain, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Winter, William E. – Captain, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Wolfe, John E. – Corporal, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Woollett, Donald E. – First Lieutenant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Worley, David E. – Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class, USN – 10/23/83
  • Wyche, Craig L. – Private First Class, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Yarber, James G. – Sergeant First Class, USA – 10/23/83
  • Young, Jeffrey D. – Sergeant, USMC – 10/23/83
  • Zimmerman, William A. – First Lieutenant, USMC – 10/23/83

Let these names – and the others who have been lost on similar misadventures – be remembered each and every time a politician is considering employing our brave men and women in uniform for “peacekeeping”.

The present-day 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit can be found at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina when they are not deployed overseas. 24th MEU currently is comprised of a BLT based on 1st Battalion 2nd Marines, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (VMM-261), and Combat Logistics Battalion 24 (CLB-24).

1st Battalion 8th Marines is still an active Marine Corps infantry battalion and is part of the 2nd Marine Division, also at MCB Camp Lejeune.

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Tidal Wave: The Raid on Ploesti

Ploesti, Romania (correctly spelled Ploiești, but I will use the common spelling as found in most World War II histories) is, to this day, a center for petroleum production and refining. The first large oil refinery in the world was opened there in 1856-57. Foreign producers, including John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil built and operated facilities there.

Nazi Germany gained control of most of Romania and the Ploesti oil production facilities in 1941. As Germany had little petroleum production of its own, the strategic significance of the city’s resources couldn’t be underestimated. By the middle of 1943, Germany was consuming up to 22 million tons of oil, but was only bringing in 14 million tons. If the Ploesti facilities could be severely damaged or destroyed, the war in Europe would assuredly be shortened by months and tens of thousands of lives might be saved.

As the war progressed into the summer of 1943, the United States Army Air Forces – progenitor of today’s United States Air Force – prepared to execute the first large scale bombing raid against the Ploesti refineries. Five heavy bomber groups would be used, flying from bases in North Africa.

The plan was called Operation TIDAL WAVE. It was scheduled for a Sunday: August 1, 1943 – seventy years ago today. The men who flew the mission and survived came to know their attack on Ploesti by a much grimmer name:

Black Sunday.

Continue reading Tidal Wave: The Raid on Ploesti

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Ashore on Sicily: the main landing of Operation HUSKY

On April 30, 1943, British Intelligence launched one of the boldest military deception operations of all time: Operation MINCEMEAT. Its goal was to convince the Axis enemy that after North Africa, their next target would be anywhere except Sicily. In the pre-dawn hours of July 10, 1943, an Allied fleet transported the Seventh United States Army, Lieutenant General George S. Patton commanding, and the British Eighth Army, Lieutenant General Bernard Law Montgomery commanding, to their landing points on Sicily’s southern point.

The Sicily attack was the largest amphibious operation ever attempted to that point in time. Seven Allied divisions, of a force totaling 12 divisions plus attached units, were to land on July 10th. The lives of thousands of men hung in the balance. Had the deception plan worked, or were the British and American soldiers about to hit the beach heading into prepared defenses that would chew them up and spit them out?

About three hours before the main seaborne forces arrived off the Sicily coast, British and American airborne forces landed to capture key targets behind the beach. Unfortunately, poor weather, inexperienced transport pilots, and other unforeseen problems scattered the airborne forces widely.

As the assembled fleet began loading the assault troops into their boats and landing craft, surprise was almost lost because a fire started aboard a craft laden with explosives. A 23 year-old US Navy Reserve officer, Ensign John J. Parle, stopped the conflagration before the boat detonated and alerted the enemy.

Before dawn, soldiers scrambled down cargo nets hung on the sides of their transport vessels and into the waiting landing craft as the assembled fleet refrained from shelling the shore in hopes of maintaining surprise. For many of the men taking part in the assault – including those of the United States’ 3rd Infantry Division and Canada’s 1st Infantry Division – the Sicily attack would be their first time under fire.

The assault forces encountered their first opposition not from the Italian and German defenders but from uncharted sand bars that hung up many of the landing craft before they even reached the beach. When the troops did reach the shore, they were astonished to find that there was little to no resistance at the water’s edge. Where was the enemy?

A couple of factors contributed to the lack of resistance to the landings. First, the Axis defense plan kept their most powerful units – in the case of the Sicily landing area the Italian 4th Mountain Infantry Division Livorno and the German Fallschirm-Panzer Division 1 Hermann Göring – were kept back from the shore to launch counter attacks as any invaders progressed inland, hopefully faster than supplies and support could keep up (This tactical disposition was proved to be faulty, resulting in the defenses of the Atlantic Wall being geared to stop attacks at the water’s edge). Second, the British and American airborne attacks hampered the defender’s movements enough far behind the coast to prevent their concentration and advance against the landing beaches. Finally, Operation MINCEMEAT had worked!

The Germans were so thoroughly hoodwinked by the Allied deception operations and were convinced that whatever was coming ashore on Sicily was a diversionary attack. So convinced, that they didn’t reinforce Sicily for weeks.

Regardless of whether or not the Germans believed Sicily was a diversion, the invasion force came under intense air attack. The American destroyer USS Maddox (DD-622) was sunk by German bombers with the loss of most of her crew.

The Allies were hampered by the fact that their air cover had to fly at near maximum range from their bases in North Africa, Malta, and elsewhere while German and Italian planes could land, refuel, and rearm locally. Their air attacks put the early hours of the landings in question.

Yet, by the evening of July 10, both the British and Americans had their initial follow-on forces landed, even though they were still being subjected to near constant enemy air attack.

On the morning of July 11, the biggest problem facing the British and Americans was a lack of armored units ashore. The Hermann Göring division with tanks and armored infantry had started counter-attacking and threatened the safety of the beachhead. Thankfully, by mid-morning enough mines had been cleared and sandbars pushed through that tank landing ships could reach the beach and offload tanks. The battle ashore would now be fought on near-equal terms.

By July 12, the British and Americans had consolidated their beachheads and advanced up to twenty miles inland and secured the key costal cities of Gela, Licata, and Siracusa. As men, supplies, and equipment poured ashore, it remained to be seen whether victory would be quick, or if there would be a long, painful, costly slog over Sicily’s punishing interior terrain.

The next several weeks would prove decisive for the course of war in the Mediterranean.

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Operation HUSKY Kicks Off

In the evening hours of July 9, 1943, Allied forces under the overall command of United States’ General Dwight D. Eisenhower were crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Africa and elsewhere for Operation HUSKY, the invasion of Sicily.

Around midnight local time, July 10 (about 6:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time, by present standards) British and American parachute and glider-borne forces began the first large-scale airborne operation for the Allies in the war. It turned out that they had a lot to learn about transporting men into combat that way.

The first problem the Allies faced in conducting a large-scale airborne attack was a severe lack of transport aircraft. Both the Americans and the British had barely enough planes to get just one-third of each of their forces lifted into the combat zone at once. The attack preceding the seaborne invasion the morning of July 10 would be much smaller than what the world would see less than a year later when the Allies invade France.

Around Syracuse at the southeast corner of Sicily, the British 1st Airborne Division‘s 1st Airlanding Brigade executed what they called Operation LADBROKE. Departing Tunisia in 144 gliders towed by aircraft were 2,075 soldiers of the 1st Battalion, Border Regiment, the 2nd Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, and attached units. The brigade encountered problems even before they got on the ground. Stronger than expected headwinds made navigating difficult even before enemy searchlights and antiaircraft fires threw the tow planes and the gliders further off course.

Tragically, 65 of the 144 gliders (45 percent!) were released from their tow planes too early and didn’t even make it to shore and crashed into the sea. 252 men – over 12 percent of the brigade – drowned. Even though many men survived, precious equipment was lost and the survivors were effectively out of the battle until they were rescued or could make it ashore.

Of the remaining 79 gliders, eight never made it to Sicily and returned to Tunisia still attached to their tow planes. Fifty-nine (59) missed their landing zones and wound up as far as 25 miles (!) from their intended landing zones. Just twelve of the gliders landed where they were supposed to.

As the British were scattered all over the place, they weren’t able to concentrate their forces and LADBROKE was largely a failure. The one objective they did manage to seize, a bridge, was overwhelmed by the enemy before reinforcements could arrive from the sea.

To the west of the British behind the shores at Gela where the US 1st Infantry Division would come ashore at dawn, the 82nd Airborne Division‘s 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment made the United States’ first ever combat jump under the command of then-Colonel James M. Gavin. As is the tradition of the American airborne forces, Gavin as senior officer was the first to jump.

The same winds that proved devilish for the British gliders also threw the American troop carrying planes off course. Gavin’s regiment found itself scattered between their target area and what was the British forces area to the east.

The American paratroops faired slightly better than their glider-borne British counterparts. They managed to assemble themselves into ad hoc units ranging in size from a handful of troopers to dozens and harass the German and Italian defenders across the area and behind the lines for days using hit-and-run, guerrilla-style tactics. The force that Gavin was able to assemble himself held onto key high ground in the face of determined counter attacks until they were reinforced.

Even so, it took until July 14th for the 505th PIR to gather and concentrate just two-thirds of its complement. The remainder were still scattered or had become casualties.

Allied airborne forces hung on by their fingernails during the first hours of the attack on Sicily. What would happen if the seaborne landings ran into problems? The first large scale attack on enemy homelands could end in total disaster…

http://knockonwoodcustom.com/pma/index.php TO BE CONTINUED!

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TFH 4/30: Major William Martin, RM goes to war

My regular readers know that I’ve told many stories here of men who gave their lives in battle to save others. Seventy years ago today on April 30, 1943, a man already dead went to war, and undoubtedly saved hundreds if not thousands of American and British soldiers from becoming casualties both in July and August 1943 and beyond.

Glyndwr Michael was born in Aberbargoed, Wales on January 4, 1909. His father, a coal miner, committed suicide in 1924. His mother died in 1940, leaving the Welshman alone, depressed or suffering from additional mental illness, and homeless. His corpse was discovered on January 24, 1943 in a London warehouse. Michael’s death was caused by ingesting rat poison, and it’s unknown whether he committed suicide or his death was an accident because he was scrounging for food.

Society often looks past the deaths of derelicts, of the unwanted. With no family surviving to claim his remains, Michael’s body would become the centerpiece of the greatest wartime deception since the perhaps mythical Trojan Horse, and would ultimately be buried with military honors befitting a man killed in battle.

How exactly does a dead man go to war?

Well, as the Allied Expeditionary Forces in North Africa were routing the Germans and approaching final victory on the continent, the strategic direction in the Mediterranean theater was clear. The obvious target, smack dab in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, controlling sea lanes on both sides, close to the Italian mainland, was Sicily.

An Allied assault on Sicily was quite nearly a foregone conclusion to the enemy. But, could the Nazi Germans be convinced that the main attack would come elsewhere, so that even if landings on Sicily did happen, they’d continue to maintain unnecessary defenses elsewhere, clearing the way in part for the real attack?

How does one convince an enemy that a so clearly obvious strategic target isn’t the focus of advance? Well, by delivering unquestionable evidence that the focus was elsewhere.

British intelligence officers, led by (then) Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu, a lawyer by trade in peacetime, devised a scheme that was codenamed “Operation MINCEMEAT“. The British knew that there was a very savvy German agent operating in Huelva, Spain. If they could feed him disinformation regarding Allied plans in the Mediterranean, the deception would go straight to the Nazi high command in Berlin. The information had to be delivered in a way so it would be believed.

Enter the corpse of Glyndwr Michael. The plan was to plant official documents on the body of a deceased British officer who would have appeared to have perished in a plane crash at sea and the body drifted ashore. Around the body, the British created an entire backstory: debts, a girlfriend, an expired ID card, everything to make the corpse seem like he was somebody as far from a vagrant as possible.

Thus was born Major William Martin of the Royal Marines, ostensibly on the staff of Vice Admiral Louis Mountbatten at Combined Operations Headquarters. Montagu and his collaborators knew that placing generic documents on “Martin” indicating that the Allies would attack somewhere besides Sicily – a map, an order-of-battle – wouldn’t be accepted. The planted information had to be beyond suspect.

But, a letter from Lieutenant General Archibald Nye, the Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff (VCIGS), to General Sir Harold Alexander, the commanding general of the 18th Army Group at Allied Force Headquarters in North Africa, had to contain accurate information. These two officers couldn’t be decieved; they orlistat 120 mg canada must both know exactly what the actual plans were.

Same goes for the letter “authored” by Vice Admiral Mountbatten destined for the Supreme Allied Commander, American General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

These materials, along with some other that “Martin” carried indicated that the main Allied attack would be in Greece, not Sicily. Furthermore, the document plants gave away the here actual code name for the Sicily attack – HUSKY. That way, if German Intelligence intercepted anything referring to “HUSKY”, it would be assumed to apply to Greece. They then devised a false code name – Operation BRIMSTONE – to refer to an non-existent Eastern Mediterranean operation, targeted at Sardinia, for which the cover target would be Sicily!

In the pre-dawn hours of April 30, 1943, the Royal Navy submarine HMS Seraph (P219), under the command of Lieutenant Norman “Bill” Jewell, surfaced off the coast of Huelva. Jewell and Seraph were selected for this mission because they were veterans of other special operations during previous Mediterranean battles. “Major Martin’s” body was removed from an airtight canister containing dry ice for preservation, set adrift, and Seraph made her escape.

The body was found just hours later. As intended, the corrupt local Spanish officials passed the materials the corpse carried to the German intelligence agents. The Nazis covertly opened the documents, photographed the contents, and resealed them.

With British consular officials in attendance, the body of Major William Martin, RM was laid to rest in Huelva on May 2, 1943.

The German high command acted on the “Mincemeat” letters. They redeployed land, sea, and air forces away from Sicily to both Greece and Sardinia. They bought the deception hook, line, and sinker.

In the darkness of July 9, 1943, Operation HUSKY began under the overall command of General Eisenhower, with General Alexander commanding the ground forces. On the morning of July 10, the British Eighth Army under the command of Lieutenant General Sir Bernard Law Montgomery and the Seventh United States Army under the command of Lieutenant General George S. Patton stormed ashore on Sicily. They routed the Germans and took the island in just thirty-eight days.

Two weeks after the Allied landings, the German high command still refused to reinforce Sicily because they believed it was not the main attack. Forces that could have been used against the Allies in Sicily awaited uselessly in Greece and on Sardinia for assaults that would never come.

The impact of MINCEMEAT was continued to be felt over a year later. During Operations OVERLORD (D-Day) and MARKET-GARDEN (Holland) in 1944, the Germans captured actual, genuine Allied battle plans and ignored them because they feared they were MINCEMEAT-style plants! This, after they were wholesale victims of deception again in the lead-up to the invasion of Europe, having been convinced that the invasion would take place at the Pas de Calais, not Normandy.

Ewen Montagu eventually attained the rank of Captain in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and was made a Commander of the Military Division of the Order of the British Empire for his role in MINCEMEAT. He passed away on July 19, 1985 at age 84.

Lieutenant Jewell retired from the Royal Navy as a Captain in 1963 and died on August 18, 2004, about two months before his 91st birthday.

Glyndwr Michael, a.k.a. Major William Martin, the “man who never was”, rests in peace in Huelva, Spain. His true identity was kept secret for many years following the war. Today, the grave marker reflects the true and assumed names of a man forgotten by society who saved the lives of many after his own death.

The Martin/Michael grave in Huelva
In addition to the links above, I encourage all my readers to read the following:
The Man Who Never Was, by Ewen Montagu, originally published 1953.
MINCEMEAT was also dramatized (factually accurate as to substance, embellished to make it a little more exciting) in the 1955 movie The Man Who Never Was starring Clifton Webb and Gloria Grahame. It’s a great watch.
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The Columbia Seven – Ten Years

At approximately 8:59:32AM EST on February 1, 2003 – 15 days, 22:20:32 into her mission – Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102) was destroyed on reentry due to catastrophic damage suffered during the launch of STS-107 sixteen days before on January 16. All seven members of her crew perished.

Payload Commander/Mission Specialist 3
Lieutenant Colonel, United States Air Force
Mission Specialist 1
Flight Engineer/Mission Specialist 2
Civilian
Mission Specialist 4
Captain, United States Navy
Commander
Colonel, United States Air Force
Pilot
Commander, United States Navy
Payload Specialist 1

 

The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on. 

In the skies today we saw destruction and tragedy. Yet farther than we can see there is comfort and hope. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these? He who brings out the starry hosts one by one and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” 

President George W. Bush, February 1, 2003

May His peace and grace be with the families of the Columbia Seven today, and may we all be thankful and in remembrance of all who have given their lives carrying mankind into the heavens.

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