Monday, May 16, 2016

Can a Medal of Honor recipient teach anything to your kids?

Does Clarence Sasser have anything to teach Minnesota school kids?

The Minnesota House of Representatives thinks he does.

Sasser, a medic drafted into service in Vietnam, is one of the lesson plans created by the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation to try to teach kids that, perhaps, there are lessons from Medal of Honor recipients that kids need to hear.
Clarence  Sasser
Medal of Honor Vietnam
January 10, 1968

The House voted 129-3 to pass a bill that encourages schools that voluntarily provide character development education to include Congressional Medal of Honor history and values in the curriculum.

Here’s a suggested lesson plan based on Mr. Sasser.

Rep. Bob Detter, R-Forest Lake, said the program is being used in Robbinsdale and Columbia Heights school districts, and 59 districts have participated in training, according to Session Daily.

Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), Rep. Kim Norton (DFL-Rochester), and Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester) voted against the measure.

Should people be worried it could be a recruiting tool in disguise, similar to the marketing employed by area sports teams? Maybe.

On the other hand, keep in mind the lesson from Medal of Honor recipient Sal Giunta from his 2014 visit to Eagan.

“War is awful. War is terrible,” he said. “It’s disgusting, and gross, and brutal, and it should always be the last resort, and yet we’ve been doing it for 14 years.”

The foundation says the concepts of the lessons are courage, commitment, sacrifice, integrity, citizenship, and patriotism.

That last one is the most difficult to define since the country struggles constantly to define what it means to be patriotic, a debate that often splits along political affiliations.

They don’t give Medals of Honor to people who protest wars.

by Bob Collins  Minnesota Public Radio

Reprinted with permission. The original broadcast was aired on May 4, 2016, Minnesota Public Radio

Medal of Honor Citation Clarence Sasser​

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp5c. Sasser distinguished himself while assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3d Battalion. He was serving as a medical aidman with Company A, 3d Battalion, on a reconnaissance in force operation. His company was making an air assault when suddenly it was taken under heavy small arms, recoilless rifle, machinegun and rocket fire from well fortified enemy positions on 3 sides of the landing zone. During the first few minutes, over 30 casualties were sustained. Without hesitation, Sp5c. Sasser ran across an open rice paddy through a hail of fire to assist the wounded. After helping 1 man to safety, was painfully wounded in the left shoulder by fragments of an exploding rocket. Refusing medical attention, he ran through a barrage of rocket and automatic weapons fire to aid casualties of the initial attack and, after giving them urgently needed treatment, continued to search for other wounded. Despite two additional wounds immobilizing his legs he dragged himself through the mud toward another soldier 100 meters away. Although in agonizing pain and faint from loss of blood, Sp5c. Sasser reached the man, treated him, and proceeded on to encourage another group of soldiers to crawl 200 meters to relative safety. There he attended their wounds for 5 hours until they were evacuated. Sp5c. Sasser's extraordinary heroism is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

May is a special month for Medal of Honor News.

A time to remember those who served to defend our freedom.  Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen.

Too many of our military died on the battlefields.  We should never forget their service.  

Memorial Day 2016 is approaching.  It is the day we honor our great heroes, those who served on Omaha Beach, those who at  fought and died in the freezing cold of Korea  and those who perish in the jungles of Vietnam, in the cities and towns of Iraq and Afghanistan.  

We also take a moment to remember recipients of the Medal of Honor who died in 2015 and 2016.

Hector A. Cafferata, World War II;  Santiago J.Erevia, Vietnam; Tibor Rubin, Korea, George T. Sakato, World War II and Einar H. Ingman, Jr. Korea

The article below originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal​ on May 22, 2015 ​ and Medal of Honor News on May 30, 2015. 

Touch the Names of Those Who Never Came Home

By Jerry Cianciolo

World War II memorials-who notices them anymore They blend into the background like telephone poles.

Chances are your community has a tribute to local men and women who served but it’s
likely you’ve never stopped to visit. Those who fought the Axis powers are out of mind now. “ In three words I can sum up everything  I have learned about life,” said Robert Frost. “It goes on.”
Still, it’s unbefitting that as we pass their chiseled names we fail to acknowledge these patriots for even an instant-especially on Memorial Day 2015, the 70th year after the end of World War II. From high- school history, were all familiar with the vast number. More than 400,000 Americans were killed during the war. Another were maimed or wounded.

They came from nearly every city and town.  And they fell by the tens of thousands at Luzon, Normandy, Anzio, Guadalcanal and Okinawa.“Deeply regret to inform you that your son Sgt.John S-lost his life on March 5th 1943, as a result of aircraft accident. Letter follows. Please accept my profound sympathy.”

Mothers and fathers receiving a telegram like that felt they couldn’t go on-but they did.
The remains of many loved ones were never returned home. Instead they were laid to rest at cemeteries in Manila, Normandy, Luxembourg and elsewhere.

It wasn’t long after V-E and V-J Days in 1945 that thousands of tributes sprang –up in bronze plaques, streaming fountains and granite obelisks. But seven decades have passed since commemorations of these memorials and to most of us now their simply the flag-festooned backdrop for long parades and political speeches in late May and early July.

When the occasion calls for it, we solemnly remove our hats and pay homage to the “ultimate sacrifice” these country-men.  That is a hollow abstraction until put in everyday terms.
Many young combatants who, as the English poet Laurance Binyon wrote, “fell with their faces to the foes” never set foot on campus.  They never straighten a tie and headed to a first real job. They never slipped a ring on a sweetheart’s finger.They never swelled with hope turning the key to a starter home. They never nestled an infant against a bare chest.  They never roughhoused in living room with an exasperated wife looking on. They never tiptoed to layout Santa’s toys.  They  never dabbed a tear while walking their princess down the aisle. They never toasted their son’s promotion. They never rekindled their love as empty nesters.They never heard a new generation cry out, “I love you grand pa.” A lifetime of big and little moments never happened because of a bullet to the body one day in far-off land. For those who crumpled to the ground, the tapestry of life was left unknit. Early on after the war we bowed our heads on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Their loss was raw then. But as years have passed all that’s left are memorials know one notices-rolling credit we ignore as we go about our lives.

But on Memorial Day, we can make a different choice. A moment’s reflection is all it takes to realize that every name on your town’s monument was a real person. One who bicycled the same streets as you, who sleepily delivered the morning Gazette, who was kept after school for cutting up, who sneaked a smoke out back, in the dog days of summer.With just a little imagination, it’s easy to picture yourself as one of those fresh faced-youngsters only you’ve been blessed with a additional 15,000 or 20,000 mornings, afternoons and evenings of life, and a warehouse  of experiences they were denied.

It’s some consolation that a majestic memorial to those who fought the good fight now stands in Washington. But most of us don’t visit the capital often. There’s simpler, more personal way we can show our gratitude to those whose lives were cut short. On Memorial Day with your smart phone turned off-pay a visit to your local monument. Quietly stand before the honor roll of the dead, whisper a word of thanks, and gently rub your finger across their name. The touch would be comforting.

Jerry Cianciolo chief editor at Emerson & Church, Publishers in Medfield, Mass.
Reach him at 
This article originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal on May 22, 2015.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Vietnam War Hero and Medal of Honor Recipient Honored with Statue

Michael Joseph Crescenz (January 14, 1949–November 20, 1968) was a United States Army Corporal (Cpl) during the Vietnam War who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions near the Hiep Duc village of Vietnam on November 20, 1968. Michael was honored with a bronze monument on April 24th 2016 at the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial where he shares these special grounds with 646 fellow Philadelphians who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Sculptor: Chad Fisher
Photograph:  Bob Castaldi

Medal of Honor Citation:

Cpl. Crescenz distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a rifleman with Company A. In the morning his unit engaged a large, well-entrenched force of the North Vietnamese Army whose initial burst of fire pinned down the lead squad and killed the 2 point men, halting the advance of Company A. Immediately, Cpl. Crescenz left the relative safety of his own position, seized a nearby machine gun and, with complete disregard for his safety, charged 100 meters up a slope toward the enemy's bunkers which he effectively silenced, killing the 2 occupants of each. Undaunted by the withering machine gun fire around him, Cpl. Crescenz courageously moved forward toward a third bunker which he also succeeded in silencing, killing 2 more of the enemy and momentarily clearing the route of advance for his comrades. Suddenly, intense machine gun fire erupted from an unseen, camouflaged bunker. Realizing the danger to his fellow soldiers, Cpl. Crescenz disregarded the barrage of hostile fire directed at him and daringly advanced toward the position. Assaulting with his machine gun, Cpl. Crescenz was within 5 meters of the bunker when he was mortally wounded by the fire from the enemy machine gun. As a direct result of his heroic actions, his company was able to maneuver freely with minimal danger and to complete its mission, defeating the enemy. Cpl. Crescenz's bravery and extraordinary heroism at the cost of his life are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Cafferata, Hero of the Korean War and Recipient of the Medal of Honor Dies At 86

Marine Pfc. Hector A. Cafferata Jr., who earned the Medal of Honor at the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War, died April 12 at the age of 86.

Photo courtesy of MOH Society

Cafferata was a rifleman with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, on Nov. 28, 1950. More than 10,000 Chinese troops had surrounded Gen. Douglas MacArthur's U.N. forces at the Chosin Reservoir, including 8,000 from the Marine division. On a frozen, rocky promontory, the 230 or so Marines of Company F had been assigned to protect the Toktong Pass, a narrow escape route through the Nangnim Mountains.

The other members of Cafferata’s fire team became casualties at the pass during the initial phase of “a vicious attack launched by a fanatical enemy of regimental strength against his company's hill position,” according to his award citation.

With temperatures hovering around 30 below zero, the lone warrior rushed from his hooch wearing little more than a light jacket. Armed with grenades and a rifle, he squared off against relentless fire from automatic weapons, rifles, grenades and mortars. When the smoke cleared, Cafferata had killed at least 15 of the enemy, wounded countless more, and forced those who remained to withdraw.

Heavy gunfire and a well-placed grenade announced the arrival of enemy reinforcements later that morning. The grenade landed in the shallow entrenchment in which wounded Marines found cover. The 21-year-old braved the gunfire, grabbed the grenade, and threw it clear of his fellow Marines. Cafferata’s right hand and arm were seriously wounded in the explosion. Despite the intense pain, he continued to fight until struck by a sniper's bullet.

President Barack Obama greets Korean War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Pfc. Hector Cafferata following his remarks at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, South Korea, on Nov. 11, 2010. (Photo: Pete Souza/White House)

“Pvt. Cafferata, by his fortitude, great personal valor, and dauntless perseverance in the face of almost certain death, saved the lives of several of his fellow Marines and contributed essentially to the success achieved by his company in maintaining its defensive position against tremendous odds,” according to his citation.

Cafferata was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman at a White House ceremony on Nov. 24, 1952. He was one of 42 Marine vets to receive the nation's highest military award for valor for actions in the Korean War — 14 of whom were awarded for actions in the Chosin Reservoir campaign. Seven of those awards were posthumous. There are 76 MOH recipients alive today, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

Cafferata was born on Nov. 4, 1929, in New York City. He played semi-pro football and worked at the Sun Dial Corp. when he enlisted in 1948, according to his obituary. He died in Venice, Florida, just north of Cape Coral, where a junior elementary school was named in his honor. Cafferata is survived by his wife, Doris, and four children.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Medal of Honor Recipient Santiago J. Erevia, Hero of the Vietnam war, Dead at 70.

On this date March 25, 2016, National Medal of Honor Day we remember Specialist Four Santiago J. Erevia, recipient of the Medal of Honor who died on Wednesday March 23, 2016, in San Antonio, Texas.

One of the great heroes of the Vietnam War, Erevia received the Distinguished Service Cross  for his heroism in Vietnam on May 21 1969. On March 18, 2014, President Obama presented the Medal Of Honor to Erevia. It was determined after a review  that Erevia  was a victim of discrimination and denied the Medal of Honor in 1969.

Santiago J. Erevia
Medal  of Honor Citation

Specialist Four Santiago J. Erevia distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a radio telephone operator in Company C, 1st Battalion (Airmobile), 501st Infantry, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) during search and clear mission near Tam Ky, Republic of Vietnam on May 21, 1969. After breaching an insurgent perimeter, Specialist Four Erevia was designated by his platoon leader to render first aid to several casualties, and the rest of the platoon moved forward. As he was doing so, he came under intense hostile fire from four bunkers to his left front. Although he could have taken cover with the rest of the element, he chose a retaliatory course of action. With heavy enemy fire directed at him, he moved in full view of the hostile gunners as he proceeded to crawl from one wounded man to another, gathering ammunition. Armed with two M-16 rifles and several hand grenades, he charged toward the enemy positions behind the suppressive fire of the two rifles. Under very intense fire, he continued to advance on the insurgents until he was near the first bunker. Disregarding the enemy fire, he pulled the pin from a hand grenade and advanced on the bunker, leveling suppressive fire until he could drop the grenade into the bunker, mortally wounding the insurgent and destroying the fortification. Without hesitation, he employed identical tactics as he proceeded to eliminate the next two enemy positions. With the destruction of the third bunker, Specialist Four Erevia had exhausted his supply of hand grenades. Still under intense fire from the fourth position, he courageously charged forward behind the fire emitted by his M-16 rifles. Arriving at the very edge of the bunker, he silenced the occupant within the fortification at point blank range. Through his heroic actions the lives of the wounded were saved and the members of the Company Command Post were relieved from a very precarious situation. His exemplary performance in the face of overwhelming danger was an inspiration to his entire company and contributed immeasurably to the success of the mission. Specialist Four Erevia’s conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism, and intrepidity at the risk of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Medal of Honor Recipient Santiago J. Erevia, Hero of the Vietnam war, Dead at 70.

Below is link to a full profile of Erevia which was published on March 8, 2014, in  Erevia received the Medal of Honor from President Obama on March 18, 2014, in a ceremony at the White House.

View March 8, 2014 Article in Medal of Honor News

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Marine Hero of Peleliu Art Jackson Honored by State of Idaho

World War II Medal of Honor Recipient

By John Sowell

Gov. Butch Otter has proclaimed Wednesday as Art Jackson Day, in honor of the Boise man who single-handedly destroyed a dozen concrete guard posts and killed 50 Japanese soldiers during a fierce World War II battle on the island of Peleliu in the Western Pacific.

A ceremony to honor Jackson will be held at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday on the first floor of the rotunda at the Idaho Capitol. Otter will present Jackson, 91, with a proclamation and there will be performances by the Boise Police Department Honor Guard Pipe & Drums, the department’s Honor Guard Choir and by The Divas of Boise.

President Harry S. Truman pins the Medal of Honor on Art Jackson during an Oct. 5, 1945, ceremony on the lawn outside the White House. Photo provided by Art Jackson.

In September 1944, Peleliu was held by Japanese soldiers entrenched in caves. Fighting for control of it lasted two months. When it was over, 1,800 Americans had been killed and 8,000 more wounded. Nine Marines were awarded the Medal of Honor for their roles in the battle. Jackson was one of them.

“All of local military, and in particular local Marines, consider Art Jackson to be a rock star among our military heroes,” said Rocci Johnson, one of the organizers of the tribute. “If not for him, and those of his mettle, it would be a very different world, and we would all probably not be speaking English.”

Citations issued to Jackson, who retired as a captain, and other Marines are used in entry-level training to create a warrior spirit in new Marines, said Capt. Adam Ayriss, an inspector instructor for Company C, 4th Tank Battalion of the Marine Corps Reserves in Boise.

“Reading the words of extreme heroism displayed by Marines throughout history helps build the motivation, inspiration, and esprit de corps that galvanizes all Marines into one cohesive team,” Ayriss said. “Capt. Arthur Jackson is a hero; a true warrior who is an inspiration to all Marines.”

Then 19, Jackson saved his platoon from almost certain destruction. A book about the battle described him as “a one-man Marine Corps.” His Medal of Honor citation credits him with single-handedly confronting enemy barrages and contributing to “the complete annihilation of the enemy in the southern sector of the island.”

Despite a barrage of gunfire, Jackson charged a large pillbox, as the concrete guard posts were known. He threw white phosphorus grenades that provided cover from the white smoke it produced and he set off munitions charges that destroyed the pillbox and killed the 35 soldiers inside.

Jackson kept advancing and picked off one enemy position after another.

“His gallant initiative and heroic conduct in the face of extreme peril reflect the highest credit upon Pfc. Jackson and the U.S. Naval Service,” according to the Medal of Honor citation.

Additional information on Jackson and his heroism can be found online on a Facebook page dedicated to him.

The article above was originally published in I​daho Statesman on February 22, 2016 and it is published with permission

Arthur Jackson Medal of Honor Citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on the Island of Peleliu in the Palau group, 18 September 1944. Boldly taking the initiative when his platoon's left flank advance was held up by the fire of Japanese troops concealed in strongly fortified positions, Pfc. Jackson unhesitatingly proceeded forward of our lines and, courageously defying the heavy barrages, charged a large pillbox housing approximately 35 enemy soldiers. Pouring his automatic fire into the opening of the fixed installation to trap the occupying troops, he hurled white phosphorus grenades and explosive charges brought up by a fellow marine, demolishing the pillbox and killing all of the enemy. Advancing alone under the continuous fire from other hostile emplacements, he employed similar means to smash 2 smaller positions in the immediate vicinity. Determined to crush the entire pocket of resistance although harassed on all sides by the shattering blasts of Japanese weapons and covered only by small rifle parties, he stormed 1 gun position after another, dealing death and destruction to the savagely fighting enemy in his inexorable drive against the remaining defenses, and succeeded in wiping out a total of 12 pillboxes and 50 Japanese soldiers. Stouthearted and indomitable despite the terrific odds. Pfc. Jackson resolutely maintained control of the platoon's left flank movement throughout his valiant 1-man assault and, by his cool decision and relentless fighting spirit during a critical situation, contributed essentially to the complete annihilation of the enemy in the southern sector of the island. His gallant initiative and heroic conduct in the face of extreme peril reflect the highest credit upon Pfc. Jackson and the U.S. Naval Service.

Citation courtesy of the Medal of Honor Society