Tag Archives: United States Navy

Private First Class Frank P. Witek, USMCR (August 3, 1944)

Frank Peter Witek was born on December 10, 1921 in Derby, Connecticut. He moved as a child with his family to Chicago, Illinois, and it was from there that he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve on January 20, 1942.

After training, Witek was assigned to the active Marine Corps as an automatic rifleman armed with an M1918 BAR with the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment as a component of the 3rd Marine Division. He fought with 1/9 on Bougainville, and then landed with them on Guam on July 21, 1944.

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Commander Lawson P. Ramage, USN (July 31, 1944)

Lawson Paterson Ramage was born in Monroe Bridge, Massachusetts on January 19, 1909. He attended the United States Naval Academy and graduated with the class of 1931, receiving his officer’s commission in the United States Navy as an Ensign.

Ramage, nicknamed “Red” for his red hair, served in surface ships until 1935. He wanted to switch to submarines, but a sports injury which damaged his right eye (he had wrestled at the Naval Academy) stopped him from passing the eye test for submariners. Ramage’s solution: he memorized the eye chart.

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Private Joseph W. Ozbourn, USMC (July 30, 1944)

Joseph William Ozbourn was born on October 24, 1919 in Herrin, Illinois. At the outset of World War II, he was working as a coal miner and was not subject to being drafted as that was considered a war-essential occupation. Nonetheless, he felt the call to bear arms and volunteered for the United States Marine Corps on October 30, 1943.

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Private First Class Leonard F. Mason, USMC (July 22, 1944)

Leonard Foster Mason was born on February 22, 1920 in Middlesboro, Kentucky. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in April of 1943, and became a rifleman with the 3rd Marine Division‘s 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. Mason landed with 2/3 Marines on Guam, July 21, 1944.

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Commander Samuel David Dealey, USN (May 26-July 3, 1944)

Samuel David Dealey was born on September 13, 1906 in Dallas, Texas. He received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy and graduated with the class of 1930. He served his first several years in the United States Navy on surface ships before reporting to New London, Connecticut for Submarine School.

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Lone Survivor Lives Up

SEALs of Lone Survivor
They’re the ones fighting. (Image: US Navy)

As Allan continued his awesome coverage of the 70th anniversary of DDay on Twitter, I noted my amazement that the entire venture didn’t turn into a slaughter and complete defeat for the Allies given all the things that went awry that day.  It’s a serious reminder that any plan can fall apart at the whim of Murphy’s Law, and unfortunately for the group of Navy SEALs at the heart of Lone Survivor, that proves true for them as well.

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The Capture of U-505: Lieutenant Junior-Grade Albert L. David, USN (June 4, 1944)

Albert Leroy David was born in Maryville, Missouri on July 18, 1902. He enlisted in the United States Navy at age seventeen on September 30, 1919. David served on a variety of surface ships throughout the fleet during almost twenty years of enlistment before his transfer to reserve status on August 10, 1939.

His time away from the fleet was short. David was recalled to active duty just more than a month later on September 27, 1939 as the Navy needed experienced men for the expansion sure to come with the start of World War II, whether the United States was fighting or not.

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TFH 4/14: Corporal Jason L. Dunham, USMC

Some might say November 20, 1981 was a date that destiny was set in motion. That day was the 206th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. It also was the day Jason Lee Dunham was born in Scio, New York. Jason grew up as a huge fan of the New York Yankees and played basketball in high school.

After graduating from Scio High School in 2000, Dunham enlisted in the Marines. He completed recruit training in October of the same year, and was eventually posted as part of the Marine security force at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia where he served until 2003. Dunham joined the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment in September 2003 when the battalion returned to the United States from their combat service during the invasion of Iraq. The unit would deploy for their second combat tour in February 2004 with the 1st Marine Division.

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TFH 2/15: LTJG Nathan G. Gordon, USN

Nathan Green Gordon was born on September 4, 1916 in Morrilton, Arkansas. He was a graduate of the Arkansas Polytechnic College (today Arkansas Tech University) and graduated from the University of Arkansas with a law degree in 1939. While in school, he enlisted in the Arkansas National Guard. Gordon was engaged in private law practice when he decided to join the United States Navy in May of 1941.

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TFH 2/2 Part 1: Lieutenant Colonel Aquilla J. Dyess, USMCR

Aquilla James Dyess was born in Andersonville, Georgia on January 11, 1909. He was known to family and friends as “Jimmie”, was a member of the Boy Scouts of America growing up, and attained the rank of Eagle Scout. Dyess’ personal courage was first recognized after assisting in the rescue of a swimmer in risk of drowning 400 feet from shore, even though he wasn’t a particularly strong swimmer, on July 13, 1928. The following year, he received the Carnegie Medal from the Carnegie Hero Fund, along with the other rescuer, Barbara H. Muller.

Dyess attended Clemson College (now University), graduating with a degree in architecture as a member of the class of 1932. While at Clemson, he was a member of the Army‘s Reserve Officers Training Corps, and was commissioned as an infantry branch Second Lieutenant in the Army Reserve. Four years later, Dyess was commissioned into the United States Marine Corps Reserve as a First Lieutenant.

Dyess was a general contractor in civilian life. He was called to active service with the United States Marine Corps when the United States entered World War II. The Marine Corps underwent a massive, rapid expansion to support operations across the Pacific against the Empire of Japan, and Dyess was promoted rapidly.

By January 1944, Dyess was a Lieutenant Colonel and the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division. Their first combat action would be the Battle of Kwajalein, for which they were assigned as one of the assault units to land on Kwajalein Atoll‘s Namur Island. They stormed ashore on February 1, 1944.

For two days, Lieutenant Colonel Dyess stayed at the front of his battalion, ever urging them forward, and personally commanding groups of his Marines in local attacks. On February 2nd, as victory was nearly assured and 1/24 Marines were moving against the last Japanese strongpoint, Dyess was struck down by a burst of enemy machine gun fire. His indomitable courage and fighting spirit during the two days of battle was an inspiration to every Marine in his battalion, and deemed worthy of the Medal of Honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (A-F):

*DYESS, AQUILLA JAMES

Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, 24th Marines (Rein), 4th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the assault on Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, 1 and 2 February 1944. Undaunted by severe fire from automatic Japanese weapons, Lt. Col. Dyess launched a powerful final attack on the second day of the assault, unhesitatingly posting himself between the opposing lines to point out objectives and avenues of approach and personally leading the advancing troops. Alert, and determined to quicken the pace of the offensive against increased enemy fire, he was constantly at the head of advance units, inspiring his men to push forward until the Japanese had been driven back to a small center of resistance and victory assured. While standing on the parapet of an antitank trench directing a group of infantry in a flanking attack against the last enemy position, Lt. Col. Dyess was killed by a burst of enemy machinegun fire. His daring and forceful leadership and his valiant fighting spirit in the face of terrific opposition were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Dyess was initially buried in the 4th Marine Division Cemetery on Namur. After the war, his remains were repatriated to the United States and were reburied in the Westover Memorial Park, Augusta, Georgia.

The USS Dyess (DD-880), a Gearing-class destroyer named for the heroic commander of 1/24, served with the United States Navy from her commissioning on May 21, 1945 until her decommissioning and retirement on January 27, 1981. The ship was sold to Greece to provide spare parts for other Gearing-class ships in their service later that year.

The 24th Marines were deactivated as a Marine Reserve infantry unit on September 9, 2013. The regiment’s 1st Battalion, Dyess’ command, remains as a reinforcement battalion for the 25th Marine Regiment and is part of today’s 4th Marine Division. The battalion is comprised of reservists from the north central United States and is based in Selfridge, Michigan.

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