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.
Continue reading Commander George F. Davis, USN (January 6, 1945)
Richard Ira Bong was born in Superior, Wisconsin on September 24, 1920. He was a college student and already under instruction as a civilian pilot when he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet on May 29, 1941.
Bong received his pilot’s wings and a commission as a Second Lieutenant on January 19, 1942 and was posted as an aerial gunnery instructor. He would go on to become the top ace of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.
Continue reading Major Richard I. Bong, USAAF (October 10 – November 15, 1944)
Charles H. Coolidge was born on August 4, 1921 in Signal Mountain, Tennessee. A high school graduate, he was drafted about seven weeks before his 21st birthday on June 16, 1942. Coolidge was assigned to the United States Army‘s 36th Infantry Division and fought in both Italy and France.
Continue reading Technical Sergeant Charles H. Coolidge, USA (October 24-27, 1944)
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.
Continue reading Commander Richard H. O’Kane, USN (October 23-24, 1944)
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.
Continue reading Commander David McCampbell, USN (June 19 & October 24, 1944)
Victor Leonard Kandle was born on June 13, 1921 in Roy, Washington. He grew up in Puyallup, Washington, graduating from high school there in 1939. He volunteered and enlisted in the United States Army on September 5, 1940, ostensibly for the Philippine Department. After basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington, Kandle was eventually sent to Officer Candidates’ School and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.
Continue reading First Lieutenant Victor L. Kandle, USA (October 9, 1945)
Robert Evan Brown, Jr. was born on September 2, 1907 in Dublin, Georgia. He was known by the nickname “Bobbie”, and that was the name he used when he enlisted in the United States Army in 1922, lying about his age.
The Army was Brown’s home, and he was a senior non-commissioned officer in the 2nd Armored Division in the early days of World War II and the North African Campaign. In 1943, he received a battlefield commission as a Second Lieutenant and transferred to the 1st Infantry Division.
Continue reading Captain Bobbie E. Brown, USA (October 8, 1944)
James H. Fields was born in Caddo, Texas on July 26, 1920. He later lived in Houston, graduating from Lamar High School. Fields was drafted into the United States Army for World War II service on February 26, 1942 at age 21. He later received an officer’s commission in the Armor Branch.
Continue reading First Lieutenant James H. Fields, USA (September 27, 1944)
On September 15, 1944, the United States Marine Corps‘ 1st Marine Division began the assault on the island of Peleliu. Peleliu was identified as a necessary target to seize as both flank protection and staging area for later attacks on the Philippines and on to Japan.
Two Marines – both from the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment – received the Medal of Honor for their heroism on the first day of the assault. Both were awarded because the Marines smothered grenade blasts with their bodies.
Continue reading Cpl. Lewis K. Bausell, USMC & 1st Lt. Carlton R. Rouh, USMCR (September 15, 1944)
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.
Continue reading Captain Matt L. Urban, USA (June 14-September 3, 1944)