When USS Indianapolis was hit by Japanese torpedoes in the final weeks of WWII, hundreds of crewmen jumped into the water to escape the burning ship. Surrounded by sharks, they waited for a response to their SOS. But no one had been sent to look for them.
In late July 1945, USS Indianapolis had been on a special secret mission, delivering parts of the first atomic bomb to the Pacific Island of Tinian where American B-29 bombers were based. Its job done, the warship, with 1,197 men on board, was sailing west towards Leyte in the Philippines when it was attacked.
The first torpedo struck, without warning, just after midnight on 30 July 1945. A 19-year-old seaman, Loel Dean Cox, was on duty on the bridge. Now 87, he recalls the moment when the torpedo hit.
"Whoom. Up in the air I went. There was water, debris, fire, everything just coming up and we were 81ft (25m) from the water line. It was a tremendous explosion. Then, about the time I got to my knees, another one hit. Whoom."
LD Cox was on the bridge when the first torpedo hit
The second torpedo fired from the Japanese submarine almost tore the ship in half. As fires raged below, the huge ship began listing onto its side. The order came to abandon ship. As it rolled, LD, as Cox is known to his friends, clambered to the top side and tried to jump into the water. He hit the hull and bounced into the ocean.
Read this chilling tale at bbc.co.uk...
The remains of a soldier awarded the Medal of Honor after being killed in the Korean War will be returned to his relatives for burial with full military honors after they were identified 63 years after his death, officials announced Wednesday.
Army Lt. Col. Don C. Faith Jr., of Washington, Ind., will be buried April 17 in Arlington National Cemetery, officials from the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office said.
Faith, a veteran of World War II who continued to serve in the Army during the Korean War, was seriously injured by shrapnel on Dec. 1, 1950, and died a day later from those injuries. But his body was not recovered by U.S. forces at the time.
He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest military honor recognizing personal acts of exceptional valor during battle.
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Lt. Col. Faith, commanding 1st Battalion, distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty in the area of the Chosin Reservoir. When the enemy launched a fanatical attack against his battalion, Lt. Col. Faith unhesitatingly exposed himself to heavy enemy fire as he moved about directing the action. When the enemy penetrated the positions, Lt. Col. Faith personally led counterattacks to restore the position. During an attack by his battalion to effect a junction with another U.S. unit, Lt. Col. Faith reconnoitered the route for, and personally directed, the first elements of his command across the ice-covered reservoir and then directed the movement of his vehicles which were loaded with wounded until all of his command had passed through the enemy fire. Having completed this he crossed the reservoir himself. Assuming command of the force his unit had joined he was given the mission of attacking to join friendly elements to the south. Lt. Col. Faith, although physically exhausted in the bitter cold, organized and launched an attack which was soon stopped by enemy fire. He ran forward under enemy small-arms and automatic weapons fire, got his men on their feet and personally led the fire attack as it blasted its way through the enemy ring. As they came to a hairpin curve, enemy fire from a roadblock again pinned the column down. Lt. Col. Faith organized a group of men and directed their attack on the enemy positions on the right flank. He then placed himself at the head of another group of men and in the face of direct enemy fire led an attack on the enemy roadblock, firing his pistol and throwing grenades. When he had reached a position approximately 30 yards from the roadblock he was mortally wounded, but continued to direct the attack until the roadblock was overrun. Throughout the 5 days of action Lt. Col. Faith gave no thought to his safety and did not spare himself. His presence each time in the position of greatest danger was an inspiration to his men. Also, the damage he personally inflicted firing from his position at the head of his men was of material assistance on several occasions. Lt. Col. Faith's outstanding gallantry and noble self-sacrifice above and beyond the call of duty reflect the highest honor on him and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army. (This award supersedes the prior award of the Silver Star (First Oak Leaf Cluster) as announced in G.O. No. 32, Headquarters X Corps, dated 23 February 1951, for gallantry in action on 27 November 1950.)
Today, retired Army General H. Norman Schwarzkopf was laid to rest at West Point. The commander of coalition forces in the first Gulf War was 78-years-old when he passed away on Dec. 27 in Tampa, Fla. due to complications from pneumonia. The U.S. Military Academy announced that a memorial service was held on Feb. 28 in honor of the four-star general.
Family, friends, classmates, and cadets are gathered in the Cadet Chapel to celebrate the memory of retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf. His daughter Cindy, retired Gen. Colin Powell, and retired Maj. Gen. Leroy Suddath will pay tribute to Schwarzkopf during the memorial service.
Schwarzkopf graduated from West Point in 1965 and served several tours in Vietnam. "Stormin' Norman" told troops under his command that they may hate his strict rules but it was for their own good. "When you get on that plane to go home, if the last thing you think about me is 'I hate that son of a bitch', then that is fine because you're going home alive," said Schwarzkopf.
Read this story at examiner.com ...
Washington Free Beacon
BY: Bill Gertz
The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges.
The disparity in treatment between civilian and uniformed personnel is causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention.
Read this story at freebeacon.com .. .
J. Michael Welborn
“I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
These are the words of the Oath of Enlistment in all active branches of the United States Armed Forces. I took it as a young man entering the United States Army for the first time before heading to Basic Training. I again took this oath as I began my journey on Active Federal Service with the U.S. Army. As a civilian employee of the United States Air Force, I have once again taken a similar oath. For those of you who have served and have been released from your tour of duty, I ask you - have you forgotten your oath? Do you for some reason think that because you are not serving in the U.S. Armed Forces that this oath no longer applies? Do you think that perhaps you are too old or to busy to serve your family? Your fellow veterans? Your community? Your nation?
Brothers and Sisters, I am here to tell you that today more than ever before America needs you! Every day this country is coming under fire – the rights and liberties that our founding fathers agreed were God-given are being destroyed. The very document that you have sworn to protect – the document that guarantees us these rights and liberties - is being threatened.
I urge you – no, I beseech you, to consider this a call to arms – an activation if you will! Every Veteran – male or female, black or white, Air Force or Marine – needs to remember their oath. Watching each other's back did not end when you changed your BDU's (or whatever color you wore) for a civilian tie! Protecting this great country and this way of life did not either!
There is work to do! We have brothers and sisters who are homeless or in need of medical attention. Many of their families need food, or need work! When you saw an injured comrade on the battlefield, didn't you try to assist to the best of your abilities? When you were in a fire fight, you did your best to make sure everyone came home. Today is no exception. Our brothers and sisters need our help. Today let's pledge to each other that we will “leave no one behind”! We didn't do it then, why should we do it now?
Remember the words of Jesus Christ: “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." Do you remember the times that someone gave you that helping hand that you so desperately needed? It is time to pay that forward!
It only takes a moment of your time and it is empowering to know that no matter where you go, you can depend on your fellow Veterans to help you in your times of need.
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- There's a good news update on a home ransacked and spray painted by a pair of teen burglars in northwest Houston. While the burglars are now in custody, community members and Marines stepped in to help the homeowner -- a 93-year-old World War II veteran.
The Marines quickly marched into the defaced home of WWII veteran Elbert Wood, eager to help.
"It's important that he knows we're here for him and that we're always his brothers," Major Roberto Rodriguez said.
The presence of these local Marines is just one example of the outpouring of support for Wood since we first reported the burglary and vandalism of his home on Monday. Two teens, ages 13 and 16, were arrested for allegedly committing the crime.
"My feelings about them are not anger so much as just wondering why they would do something like that," Wood said.
Since then, calls came in from around the country, as former Marines and strangers offered to paint the graffiti-laden walls or replace the damaged household items. Gallery Furniture dropped off a living room set.
Read this story and watch the video at abclocal.go.com ...
Excerpt from Wayne Robinson, Move out Verify: the Combat Story of the 743rd Tank Battalion (Germany, no publisher, 1945), 162-63:
There was another sidelight to the death of fascism in Europe. Only a few of the battalion saw it. Those who did will never forget it.
A few miles northwest of Magdeburg there was a railroad siding in wooded ravine not far from the Elbe River. Major Clarence Benjamin in a jeep was leading a small task force of two light tanks from Dog Company on a routine job of patrolling. The unit came upon some 200 shabby looking civilians by the side of the road. There was something immediately apparent about each one of these people, men and women, which arrested the attention. Each one of them was skeleton thin with starvation, a sickness in their faces and the way in which they stood-and there was something else. At the sight of Americans they began laughing in joy-if it could be called laughing. It was an outpouring of pure, near-hysterical relief.
The tankers soon found out why. The reason was found at the railroad siding.
There they came upon a long string of grimy, ancient boxcars standing silent on the tracks. In the banks by the tracks, as if to get some pitiful comfort from the thin April sun, a multitude of people of all shades of misery spread themselves in a sorry, despairing tableaux [sic]. As the American uniforms were sighted, a great stir went through this strange camp. Many rushed toward the Major's jeep and the two light tanks.
Bit by bit, as the Major found some who spoke English, the story came out.
This had been-and was-a horror train. In these freight cars had been shipped 2500 people, jam-packed in like sardines, and they were people that had two things in common, one with the other: They were prisoners of the German State and they were Jews.
These 2500 wretched people, starved, beaten, ill, some dying, were political prisoners who had until a few days before been held at concentration camp near Hanover. When the Allied armies smashed through beyond the Rhine and began slicing into central Germany, the tragic2500 had been loaded into old railroad cars-as many as 68 in one filthy boxcar-and brought in a torturous journey to this railroad siding by the Elbe. They were to be taken still deeper into Germany beyond the Elbe when German trainmen got into an argument about the route and the cars had been shunted onto the siding. Here the tide of the Ninth Army's rush had found them.
They found it hard to believe they were in friendly hands once more: they were fearful that the Germans would return. They had been guarded by a large force of SS troopers, most of whom had disappeared in the night. Major Benjamin, knowing there were many German Army stragglers still in the area, left one of the light tanks there with its accompanying doughboys as a protective guard. The Major then returned to Division headquarters to report the plight of these people.
For 24 hours, the crew of the tank remained on watch as their charges streamed about the vehicle, crying and laughing their thanks of rescue, and those who could told stories of slavery, oppression, torture, imprisonment, and death. To hear their stories, to see before them the results of inhuman treatment lifted still another corner of the cover which, on being removed, exposed the full cruel spirit of Nazism which permitted such things to be. And this was but one of the many such stories being brought to light as Allied soldiers ripped into the secrets of Adolph Hitler's Third Reich.
The train needed some badly needed food that night. More, the promise of plentiful food the next day was given to them. The commanding officer of the 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion was seeing to it that such food would be available. He had ordered German farmers of the surrounding towns to stay up all night, if necessary, to get food to these people. Other Americans concerned themselves with locating living quarters to get the concentration camp victims away from the evil-smelling freight cars before more of them died and were covered by a blanket or just left lying in their last sleep beside the railroad tracks.
Sgt. George Gross (relayed to Matthew Rozell, March, 2002):
On Friday, April 13, 1945, I was commanding a light tank in a column of the 743rd Tank Battalion and the 30th Infantry Division, moving south near the Elbe River toward Magdeburg, Germany. After three weeks of non-stop advancing with the 30th from the Rhine to the Elbe as we alternated spearhead and mop-up duties with the 2nd Armored Division, we were worn out and in a somber mood because, although we knew the fighting was at last almost over, a pall had been cast upon our victories by the news of the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. I had no inkling of the further grim news that morning would bring. Suddenly, I was pulled out of the column, along with my buddy Sergeant Carrol Walsh in his light tank, to accompany Major Clarence L. Benjamin of the 743rd in a scouting foray to the east of our route. Major Benjamin had come upon some emaciated Finnish soldiers who had escaped from a train full of starving prisoners a short distance away. The major led our two tanks, each carrying several infantrymen from the 30th Infantry Division on its deck, down a narrow road until we came to a valley with a small train station at its head and a motley assemblage of passenger compartment cars and boxcars pulled onto a siding. There was a mass of people sitting or lying listlessly about, unaware as yet of our presence. There must have been guards, but they evidently ran away before or as we arrived, for I remember no firefight. Our taking of the train, therefore, was no great heroic action but a small police operation. The heroism that day was all with the prisoners on the train.
Major Benjamin took a powerful picture just as a few of the people became aware that they had been rescued. It shows people in the background still lying about, trying to soak up a bit of energy from the sun, while in the foreground a woman has her arms flung wide and a great look of surprise and joy on her face as she rushes toward us. In a moment, that woman found a pack left by a fleeing German soldier, rummaged through it, and held up triumphantly a tin of rations. She was immediately attacked by a swarm of skeletal figures, each intent upon capturing that prize. My yelling did no good, so that I finally had to leap from my tank and wade through weak and emaciated bodies to pull the attackers off the woman, who ran quickly away with her prize. I felt like a bully, pushing around such weak and starving fellow humans, but it was necessary to save the woman from great harm. The incident drove home to me the terrible plight of the newly freed inhabitants of the train. I pulled my tank up beside the small station house at the head of the train and kept it there as a sign that the train was under American protection now. Carroll Walsh’s tank was soon sent back to the battalion, and I do not remember how long the infantrymen stayed with us, though it was a comfort to have them for a while. My recollection is that my tank was alone for the afternoon and night of the 13th. A number of things happened fairly quickly. We were told that the commander of the 823rd Tank Destroyer battalion had ordered all the burgermeisters of nearby towns to prepare food and get it to the train promptly, and were assured that Military Government would take care of the refugees the following day. So we were left to hunker down and protect the starving people, commiserating with if not relieving their dire condition.
I believe that the ranking officer of the Finnish prisoners introduced himself to me and offered to set up a perimeter guard. I think I approved and asked him to organize a guard, set out pickets, and handle the maintenance and relief of the outposts. However it happened, the guard was set up swiftly and efficiently. It was moving and inspiring to see how smartly those emaciated soldiers returned to their military duties, almost joyful at the thought of taking orders and protecting others again. They were armed only with sticks and a few weapons discarded by the fleeing German guards, but they made a formidable force, and they obviously knew their duties, so that I could relax and talk to the people. A young woman named Gina Rappaport came up and offered to be my interpreter. She spoke English very well and was evidently conversant with several other languages besides her native Polish.
We stood in front of the tank as along line of men, women, and little children formed itself spontaneously, with great dignity and no confusion, to greet us. It is a time I cannot forget, for it was terribly moving to see the courtesy with which they treated each other, and the importance they seemed to place on reasserting their individuality in some seemingly official way. Each would stand at a position of rigid attention, held with some difficulty, and introduce himself or herself by what grew to be a sort of formula: the full name, followed by "a Polish Jew from Hungary"-or a similar phrase which gave both the origin and the home from which the person had been seized. Then each would shake hands in a solemn and dignified assertion of individual worth. Battle-hardened veterans learn to contain their emotions, but it was difficult then, and I cry now to think about it. What stamina and regenerative spirit those brave people showed!
Also tremendously moving were their smiles. I have one picture of several girls, specter-thin, hollow-cheeked, with enormous eyes that had seen much evil and terror, and yet with smiles to break one's heart. Little children came around with shy smiles, and mothers with proud smiles happily pushed them forward to get their pictures taken. I walked up and down the train seeing some lying in pain or lack of energy, and some sitting and making hopeful plans for a future that suddenly seemed possible again. Others followed everywhere I went, not intruding but just wanting to be close to a representative of the forces that had freed them. How sad it was that we had no food to give immediately, and no medical help, for during my short stay with the train sixteen or more bodies were carried up the hillside to await burial, brave hearts having lost the fight against starvation before we could help them.
The boxcars were generally in very bad condition from having been the living quarters of far too many people, and the passenger compartments showed the same signs of overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. But the people were not dirty. Their clothes were old and often ragged, but they were generally clean, and the people themselves had obviously taken great pains to look their best as they presented themselves to us. I was told that many had taken advantage of the cold stream that flowed through the lower part of the valley to wash themselves and their clothing. Once again I was impressed by the indomitable spirits of these courageous people.
I spent part of the afternoon listening to the story of Gina Rappaport, who had served so well as interpreter. She was in the Warsaw ghetto for several years as the Nazis gradually emptied the ghetto to fill the death camps, until her turn finally came. She was taken to Bergen-Belsen, where the horrible conditions she described matched those official accounts I later heard. She and some 2500 others, Jews from all over Europe, Finnish prisoners of war, and others who had earned the enmity of Nazidom, were forced onto the train and taken on a back-and-forth journey across Germany, as their torturers tried to get them to a camp where they could be eliminated before Russians on one side or Americans on the other caught up with them. Since the prisoners had little food, many died on the purposeless journey, and they had felt no cause for hope when they were shunted into this little unimportant valley siding. Gina told her story well, but I have never been able to write it. I received a letter from her months later, when I was home in San Diego. I answered it but did not hear from her again. Her brief letter came from Paris, and she had great hopes for the future. I trust her dreams were realized.
We were relieved the next morning, started up the tank, waved good-bye to our new friends, and followed a guiding jeep down the road to rejoin our battalion. I looked back and saw a lonely Gina Rappaport standing in front of a line of people waving us good fortune. On an impulse I cannot explain, I stopped the tank, ran back, hugged Gina, and kissed her on the forehead in a gesture I intended as one asking forgiveness for man's terrible cruelty and wishing her and all the people a healthy and happy future. I pray they have had it.
George C. Gross
Spring Valley, California
June 3, 2001
A Navy veteran can be barred from owning a gun because of a 1968 misdemeanor conviction over a fistfight, a federal appeals court ruled.
A three-judge panel in Washington upheld a lower-court ruling “which found ‘no constitutional impediment’ to including common-law misdemeanants” within the federal firearms ban. The lower court observed that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” U.S. Circuit Judge David Tatel wrote in Friday’s opinion.
The federal ban applies to several categories of people, including fugitives, undocumented aliens, those who are judged mentally incompetent or those who have been convicted of felonies or certain kinds of misdemeanors, including ones involving domestic violence.
Jefferson Wayne Schrader, 64, of Cleveland, Ga., sued to challenge the ban in 2010 after a companion tried to buy him a shotgun and Schrader tried to purchase a handgun in two separate transactions.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation blocked the shotgun purchase when the National Instant Criminal Background Check computer system flagged Schrader’s July 1968 conviction for misdemeanor assault.
The assault occurred in Annapolis, Md., while Schrader, then 20, was serving in the Navy and encountered a member of a street gang who had previously assaulted him, according to his complaint.
Schrader punched his assailant and was convicted of common-law assault and battery and fined $100. The court imposed no jail time. Schrader went on to serve a tour of duty in Vietnam and received an honorable discharge. He had no other brushes with the law, except for one traffic violation, he said in his complaint.
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New York Times
"Then came World War II, and he enlisted in the Army. His combat experiences were harrowing. He was in the first wave of troops to land on Omaha Beach on D-Day and his unit’s lone survivor of a machine-gun ambush. In Belgium he was stabbed in hand-to-hand combat with a German soldier, whom he bludgeoned to death with a rock. Fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, he and the rest of his company were captured and forced to march through a pine forest at Malmedy, the scene of an infamous massacre in which the Germans opened fire on almost 90 prisoners. Mr. Durning was among the few to escape.
By the war’s end he had been awarded a Silver Star for valor and three Purple Hearts, having suffered gunshot and shrapnel wounds as well. He spent months in hospitals and was treated for psychological trauma."