Eugene Bennett Fluckey was born in Washington, District of Columbia on October 5, 1913. He graduated with the United States Naval Academy class of 1935 and commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy. After a few years in surface ships, he reported for submarine training in 1938.
Audie Leon Murphy was born on June 20, 1925 in Kingston, Texas. He was the seventh of twelve children in a family abandoned by their father during his childhood. Murphy left school after the fifth grade and was orphaned with the death of his mother in 1941.
After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, he attempted to enlist in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, but was rejected by all three as being both under age and underweight.
In June of 1942, with the help of an older sister who falsified his age by one year, he enlisted in the United States Army at age 17. At the time, the Army recorded him as just 5 feet, 5 1/2 inches tall and 112 pounds.
Might comes in small packages, so it was later shown.
As a member of the United States Naval Academy class of 1934, George Fleming Davis assuredly learned the immortal words of Captain James Lawrence of the frigate USS Chesapeake in 1813: “Don’t give up the ship!”
Davis was born on March 23, 1911 in Manila, the Philippines. His first service with the fleet was on destroyers. In mid-1941 he was promoted to Lieutenant and posted to the battleship USS Oklahoma (BB-37). In the opening moments of the United States in World War II, Davis had to give up his ship as she capsized and sank from multiple strikes from Japanese torpedoes at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Oklahoma took 429 of her more than 1,300 crew with her.
Two days ago, I gave the story of the greatest Naval Aviator of World War II: David McCampbell. Today, we get the story of the greatest submarine officer and commander of the war, who was credited with sinking 31 Japanese vessels as the commanding officer of the USS Tang (SS-306). Richard Hetherington O’Kane was born in Dover, New Hampshire on February 2, 1911. He graduated with the United States Naval Academy class of 1934 and commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy and later volunteered for submarine duty in 1938.
With my Medal of Honor posts, I like to learn and pass along “back story” of the great men who have been decorated with our nation’s highest honor. For today’s 70th anniversary tribute to David McCampbell, the greatest United States Navy “ace” of World War II with 34 aerial victories against enemy Japanese aircraft – including five in one day and nine on another, the acts for which he received the Medal – nothing is really required besides the records of his heroism.
Blogger’s note: this post should properly have appeared on September 3, 2014 or before. Due to the long span of the citation of this Medal of Honor recipient, I missed it in the regular sequence of the World War II 70th anniversaries. I am sincerely sorry for this oversight of one week.
Matt Louis Urban was born with the surname Urbanowicz in Buffalo, New York on August 25, 1919. He graduated from Cornell University in 1941, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army upon graduation, having been an ROTC member. As an officer with the 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division throughout World War II in Europe, he became one of the most decorated soldiers in United States’ history.
Louis Hugh Wilson, Jr. was born in Brandon, Mississippi on February 11, 1920. He graduated from Millsaps College (Jackson, MS) with the class of 1941 and immediately enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve.
Wilson was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in November of 1941, and at some point in his early service his commission became with the regular Marine Corps. After his initial officer training, he was assigned to the 9th Marine Regiment at San Diego which was being formed between 1942 and 1943 for combat in the Pacific as part of the 3rd Marine Division.
David Monroe Shoup was born on December 30, 1904 in an Indiana town whose name portended his future: Battle Ground. His family was poor, and after graduating from high school in 1921, he was able to attend DePauw University thanks only to a scholarship. While at DePauw, he joined the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps to earn extra money for living expenses.
Shoup graduated from DePauw and received a commission in the Army Reserve as a Second Lieutenant in 1926. Around that time, he had seen United States Marine Corps Major General John A. Lejeune, then Commandant of the Marine Corps, speak and offer opportunities and positions with the Corps for officer candidates. Shoup applied for transfer to the Marines, was accepted, and began serving with them on August 26, 1926.
He served two tours of duty overseas in China druing 1927-28 and in 1934. In between them, he was assigned to the Marine detachment aboard the battleship USS Maryland (BB-46) from 1929-31.
In May 1941, Shoup arrived in Iceland as part of a provisional Marine brigade sent there to deter a possible Nazi German attack on the strategically located island in the Atlantic. He was there on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States was plunged into World War II.
He would soon leave Iceland for the United States and California, and from there, to war in the Pacific with the rest of his Corps. Continue reading TFH 11/20-22 Part 2: Colonel David M. Shoup, USMC
The US Air Force’s 22nd Special Operations Squadron was based in Thailand during the Vietnam War, flying the A-1 Skyraider. They flew interdiction missions over the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and also supported other operations, such as the rescue of downed aircrews.
On December 5-7, 1969 one gallant airman would not leave a downed comrade to the hands of the enemy. He repeatedly exposed his plane to ground fire at great risk to himself and because of his skill and courage, the rescue was ultimately successful. That airman was Major Thomas E. Dayton, and for his heroism, he received our Nation’s second-highest honor: the Air Force Cross.