Saturday, May 23, 2015

Medal of Honor Recipients to gather at Harvard's Memorial Church in September

By Corydon Ireland, Harvard Staff Writer Harvard Gazette, May 11, 2015

On Friday, three recipients of the nation’s highest military award ― all Vietnam veterans ― toured Harvard’s Memorial Church. They were part of an advance team for the South Carolina-based Congressional Medal of Honor Society, which will hold its annual convention in Boston from Sept. 15 to 20 and include a Harvard venue for the first time. Expected at the convention are about 65 of the 79 living medal recipients.

The church, which was dedicated in 1932 as a memorial to the Harvard students, graduates, and faculty killed during World War I, will host a private event on Sept. 18 honoring recipients who had died in the previous year. “This is the one thing that’s really important” at every convention, said Victoria Kueck, the society’s director of operations.

So far, there have been no deaths in the past year among recipients. “The count is zero,” said 30-year Navy veteran Thomas G. Kelley of Somerville. The remembrance ceremony will take place in any case.

Kelley was awarded the medal for leading a 1969 rescue mission by eight riverine assault craft in Kién Hòa Province, Vietnam. Of the years since, he said, “I picked up the pieces and moved on.”

In addition to the private event in September, organizers hope to schedule a gathering where veterans and the University’s community of active service members can meet the medal winners.

“I’m really excited for the fall,” said Lieutenant Katie E. Burkhart of the Navy Reserve, who watched the tour unfold late Friday morning. She’s a 2016 Master in Public Policy (M.P.P.) candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School.

“We are all so proud of hosting this on campus,” said Thomas Reardon ’68, who served in Vietnam as an Army infantry officer and today is president of the Harvard Veterans Alumni Organization.

About 250 current students are either veterans or are in school while on active duty, he said. About 25 undergraduates are enrolled in the Reserve Officers Training Corps, which was welcomed back to Harvard in 2011 after a hiatus of 40 years.

ROTC member Charlotte “Charley” Falletta ’16 represented the group during the tour.

“It’s incredible humbling,” she said of seeing three Medal of Honor recipients at once. “They’re hard to come by.”

Harvard’s relationship to military service goes well back into the 17th century, starting with the 1636-1638 Pequot War. “Our history is proud and long,” Reardon said. Over centuries of American wars, more than 1,200 Harvard students and graduates have lost their lives.

Aside from the Army and Navy service academies, Harvard has more Medal of Honor recipients ― 18 ― than any other U.S. institution of higher education. That number could grow by one, joked Reardon to Kelley, “If Tom wants to take a couple of courses.”

“I wish I had gone to Harvard,” offered retired Army Colonel Bruce P. Crandall, a Washington state resident who returned from more than 900 combat flying missions in Vietnam with his sense of humor intact. “I went to seven universities before I got a degree.”

Crandall was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2007 for flying repeated evacuation and supply missions in an unarmed helicopter during the 1965 Battle of Ia Drang, fictionalized in the 2002 Mel Gibson movie “We Were Soldiers.” Crandall, who was first awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, arrived at Memorial Church with his dog Huey, who napped through the tour while tucked into a blue duffel bag. (The Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopters of the Vietnam era were nicknamed “Hueys.”)

With Crandall and Kelley on the church tour was 27-year Army veteran Harold A. Fritz, president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Fritz was awarded the medal for directing the hand-to-hand defense of an armored column in January 1969, while surrounded by the enemy in Binh Long Province, South Vietnam.

A plaque naming all of Harvard’s Medal of Honor recipients, including eight from the Civil War, hangs on the north wall of the church, which now memorializes Harvard’s dead from World War I to Vietnam. The list of dead from World War II alone, 697 names engraved into stone, covers an entire wall, floor to ceiling.

Three of Reardon’s classmates were among the 22 the University lost to Vietnam. The University claims one Medal of Honor recipient from the conflict, Army Staff Sergeant Robert C. Murray, who left Harvard Business School to enlist. He was killed in 1970.

Thomas J. Lyons, chairman of the Boston Congressional Medal of Honor and a member of its convention committee, looked on as the three war heroes toured Memorial Church, then stood together making plans for September.

The society has held its convention in Boston twice before, in 2001 and 2006, he said. Both times the remembrance ceremony took place in Boston’s Old North Church, which played a role in Paul Revere’s midnight ride during the Revolution.

But, said Lyons, why not Memorial Church, a shrine to the dead of so many American wars? It is just a few hundred yards from Cambridge Common, where in 1775 the first American army was mustered. Walking into the solemn space, he said, “just blew me away.”

Monday, May 18, 2015

Pvt. Henry Johnson and Sgt. William Shemin World War I Heroes Awarded The Medal of Honor


The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
May 14, 2015
President Obama to Award the Medal of Honor to Two Heroes of World War I

WASHINGTON, DC – On June 2, 2015, President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor to Army Sergeant William Shemin and to Army Private Henry Johnson for conspicuous gallantry during World War I.

Sergeant William Shemin will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions while serving as a member of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division, American Expeditionary Forces.  Sergeant Shemin distinguished himself during combat operations in the vicinity of the Vesle River, Bazoches, France, on August 7-9, 1918.

Sergeant Shemin entered the Army on October 2, 1917. He was assigned as a rifleman to Company G, 47th Infantry Regiment, which moved from Syracuse, New York to Camp Greene, North Carolina, joining the 4th Infantry Division. The Division arrived in France in May, 1918.

While serving as a rifleman from August 7-9, 1918, Sergeant Shemin left the cover of his platoon’s trench and crossed open space, repeatedly exposing himself to heavy machine gun and rifle fire to rescue the wounded. After officers and senior non-commissioned officers had become casualties, Shemin took command of the platoon and displayed great initiative under fire, until he was wounded, August 9.

Ms. Elsie Shemin-Roth of Webster Grove, Missouri, will join the President at the White House to accept the Medal of Honor on her father’s behalf.

Private Henry Johnson
Private Henry Johnson will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions while serving as a member of Company C, 369th Infantry Regiment, 93rd Division, American Expeditionary Forces. Then-Private Johnson distinguished himself during combat operations in the vicinity of the Tourbe and Aisne Rivers, northwest of Saint Menehoul, France, on May 15, 1918.

Private Johnson entered the Army on June 5, 1917. He was assigned to Company C, 15th New York (Colored) Infantry Regiment, an all-black National Guard unit that would later become the 369th Infantry Regiment. The Regiment was ordered into battle in 1918, and Private Johnson and his unit were brigaded with a French Army colonial unit in front-line combat.

While on night sentry duty on May 15, 1918, Private Johnson and a fellow Soldier received a surprise attack by a German raiding party consisting of at least 12 soldiers. While under intense enemy fire and despite receiving significant wounds, Johnson mounted a brave retaliation resulting in several enemy casualties. When his fellow soldier was badly wounded, Private Johnson prevented him from being taken prisoner by German forces.  Private Johnson exposed himself to grave danger by advancing from his position to engage an enemy soldier in hand-to-hand combat. Displaying great courage, Private Johnson held back the enemy force until they retreated.

Command Sergeant Major Louis Wilson, New York National Guard, will join the President at the White House to accept the Medal of Honor on Private Johnson’s behalf.


Statement by Senator Charles Schumer (DNY)  on Medal of Honor award to Sgt. Henry Johnson hero of World War 1

Senator Charles Schumer
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that the White House will posthumously award the Medal of Honor to African-American World War I hero and Albany resident, Sergeant Henry Johnson, on June 2, 2015. Schumer has worked tirelessly since 1999 to secure this recognition for Sgt. Johnson. Due to racism and segregation Sgt. Johnson was denied the Medal of honor for his WW I heroics, as his unit, known as the Harlem Hellfighters was forced to serve under French command sue to segregation. Even though Sgt. Johnson received France’s highest military honor for his exploits, he was not so honored by his own nation.

“Sgt. Henry Johnson, Albany resident and Harlem Hellfighter, is a true American hero, who displayed the most profound battlefield bravery in World War I, yet the nation for which he was willing to give his life shamefully failed to recognize his heroics, just because he was a black man. This century-old injustice finally made right will be a profound gesture that will rectify a sad chapter in American history. And our nation will finally say “Thank-you’ to Sergeant Johnson, and the countless other African Americans who put their lives on the line for a nation that failed to treat them with full equality before the law.”

Schumer continued, “It took years of exhaustive research to prove his claim, impassioned advocacy by local historians and by his relations, and legislation passed through both houses of Congress to waive the statute of limitations on his award to get this done, but the effort has finally paid off. It will be one of my proudest accomplishments as Senator to see our country’s highest military honor bestowed upon Henry Johnson.”

Schumer said so many people helped champion this over the years, from John Howe and Tara Johnson, to Congressman Mike McNulty, Congressman Paul Tonko, Congressman Joe Dioguardi, Assemblyman Jack McEneny, Mayors Kathy Sheehan and Jerry Jennings and County Executives Dan McCoy and Mike Breslin, and many more.

Seeing Johnson’s regiment accept the Medal of Honor on his behalf – and knowing that a century-long injustice has finally been righted – will be one of my proudest accomplishments as a Senator,” said Schumer. “I am truly honored to have been able to work on this, and am overjoyed that President Barack Obama and the Department of Defense and Secretary of the Army McHugh recognizes the indelible mark Sgt. Johnson left on America in its time of need. This recognition is a true testament to his sacrifice – and all that is best about our country.”

Schumer’s years of advocacy took new life in 2011 when the Senator Schumer and his staff revealed that they had uncovered game-changing evidence to support the posthumous award of the military’s highest honor to Sgt. Johnson. In May of that year, Schumer submitted a nearly-1300 page request for reconsideration, which included a wealth of never-considered evidence containing the incontestable proof showing that Johnson deserves this award.

Later that year, Schumer launched an online petition in support of Henry Johnson’s heroics during World War I, while uncovering additional evidence in support of Johnson’s candidacy for the Medal. Throughout the course of 2014, Schumer placed multiple calls to the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Army urging them to expedite their consideration of the Medal of Honor request, and worked to pass legislation in the Senate and House with Paul Tonko (D-NY) to make Sgt. Johnson waiving the time restriction on receiving the honor and making Sgt. Johnson eligible.

Sergeant Henry Johnson, an African American who was part of the “Harlem Hellfighters” that served under French Command due to segregation, was not properly recognized for gallantry during his lifetime. During World War I, then-private Henry Johnson fought with the French on the Western Front because of discriminatory laws in the United States. On May 14, 1918, Johnson came under attack by a German raider party of approximately 20 men. Despite sustaining numerous gunshot wounds, Johnson fought off an entire German advance, rescued his fellow soldier from certain capture, and acquired a large cache of enemy weapons. Schumer said that Johnson accomplished these actions with little training, a jammed rifle, and a bolo knife against an overwhelming German unit that was well trained during a raid that was carefully planned and meant to capture prisoners. Schumer said that, if not for Johnson’s bravery, with total disregard for his own life, his fellow soldiers would have been captured, a cache of weapons and supplies would not have been acquired by the allies, and valuable intelligence would have gone to the enemy. Johnson, who was permanently disabled after the fight, was issued a communique from General Pershing commending his service, and was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Gold Palm, one of the highest military honors of France, for his bravery in battle.

Schumer has led the fight to get Sgt. Henry Johnson the recognition he deserves for his bravery and heroism during WWI. Schumer submitted a nearly-1,300 page request to the military in support of Johnson’s receiving the Medal of Honor and launched an online petition to build public support. Schumer held a personal call with U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh, met with Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Jessica Wright – who oversees decisions regarding Medals of Honor – and wrote a letter to Secretary Hagel, all in an effort to secure the Medal of Honor for Sgt. Johnson.

In concert with Sgt. Johnson’s activists, including the late John Howe, a Vietnam veteran, Schumer helped secure the second-highest American military honor for Johnson, the Distinguished Service Cross, in 2003. Schumer has consistently expressed his support for Sgt. Johnson to receive the Medal of Honor:

·        In March 2011, Schumer and his staff revealed that they had uncovered new evidence to support the posthumous award of the military’s highest honor to Sgt. Johnson. In May 2011, Schumer submitted a nearly-1300 page request for reconsideration, which included a wealth of never-considered evidence containing proof showing that Johnson deserves this award.

·        In October 2011, Schumer launched an online petition in support of Henry Johnson’s heroics during World War I, while Schumer uncovered additional evidence in support of Johnson’s candidacy for the Medal.

·        In October 2012 in Albany, Schumer was joined by local veterans and elected officials in unveiling of the national online petition additional evidence, all of which had been discovered by Schumer and his office in the previous two years.  However, Despite these discoveries, the case remained pending. In 2012, Schumer also appeared in an episode of PBS’ History Detectives that featured a painting depicting the Battle of Henry Johnson

·        In March 2013, ahead of the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Henry Johnson, Schumer publicly called on Secretary McHugh to approve his request to honor Johnson with a Medal of Honor. Schumer also made multiple phone calls to McHugh on this subject over the course of 2013 and 2014.

·        In May 2014, following Secretary McHugh’s recommendation that Sgt. Johnson receive the Medal of Honor, Schumer wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urging him to do the same. He also met with Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Jessica Wright, who oversees decisions regarding Medals of Honor, and urged her to consider Johnson’s application.

·        In August 2014, after Schumer had urged the Department of Defense for years to recommend a Medal of Honor for Johnson, Defense Secretary Hagel officially made the recommendation.

·        In September 2014, Schumer announced that his legislation to allow the President to be able to consider the Medal of Honor application for the late World War I hero and Albany resident, Sergeant. Henry Johnson, passed the Senate unanimously.

·        In November 2014, Schumer took an additional approach to secure the Medal of Honor for Sgt. Johnson. Schumer added an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to waive the time restrictions on receiving the Medal of Honor and make this recognition for Sgt. Johnson a reality.

###


Monday, April 13, 2015

RICHARD I. BONG, WORLD WAR II, ACE OF ACES REMEMBERED

A RECIPIENT OF THE MEDAL OF HONOR  FOR HIS HEROISM DURING WORLD WAR II, WAS RECENTLY HONORED BY THE  WISCONSIN AVIATION HALL OF FAME.

BONG A FIGHTER PILOT FROM WISCONSIN WAS CREDITED WITH SHOOTING DOWN 40 JAPANESE PLANES.  HE BECOME AMERICA’S ALL-TIME ACE OF ACES, WHILE FLYING A P-38 FIGHTER PLANES

In 1944,  Bong was awarded the nation's highest honor by General Douglas MacArthur, Commander of all U.S. Army units in the Far East, who said: "Major Richard Ira Bong, who has ruled the air from New Guinea to the Philippines, I now induct you into the society of the bravest of brave, the wearers of the Congressional Medal of Honor of the United States."

After his service, Richard Bong became a test pilot for the P-80 Shooting Star. On, August 6, 1945 – the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima – Bong’s P-80 malfunctioned shortly after take-off. Before attempting bailout, Bong is said to have first steered the aircraft clear of a residential area. Because of his close proximity to the ground, it was reported he never had a chance. Richard Bong, the United States highest scoring air ace of WWII, was killed.



MEDAL OF HONOR CITATION

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty in the Southwest Pacific area from 10 October to 15 November 1944. Though assigned to duty as gunnery instructor and neither required nor expected to perform combat duty, Maj. Bong voluntarily and at his own urgent request engaged in repeated combat missions, including unusually hazardous sorties over Balikpapan, Borneo, and in the Leyte area of the Philippines. His aggressiveness and daring resulted in his shooting down 8 enemy airplanes during this period.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

HERSHEL "WOODY" WILLIAMS, MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT, HERO OF THE BATTLE OF IWO JIMA FEBRUARY, 1945, RECENTLY DISCUSSED ONE OF THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY ACTS OF HEROISM IN HISTORY



MEDAL OF HONOR CITATION  HERSHEL WOODY WILLIAMS

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as demolition sergeant serving with the 21st Marines, 3d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 23 February 1945. Quick to volunteer his services when our tanks were maneuvering vainly to open a lane for the infantry through the network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, buried mines, and black volcanic sands, Cpl. Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machinegun fire from the unyielding positions. Covered only by 4 riflemen, he fought desperately for 4 hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flamethrowers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out 1 position after another. On 1 occasion, he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flamethrower through the air vent, killing the occupants and silencing the gun; on another he grimly charged enemy riflemen who attempted to stop him with bayonets and destroyed them with a burst of flame from his weapon. His unyielding determination and extraordinary heroism in the face of ruthless enemy resistance were directly instrumental in neutralizing one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strong points encountered by his regiment and aided vitally in enabling his company to reach its objective. Cpl. Williams' aggressive fighting spirit and valiant devotion to duty throughout this fiercely contested action sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

VIDEO PROVIDED  BY PARKERSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA NEWS CENTER TV, WTAP, FOX PARKERSBURG, METV , CHANNEL 47, MARCH 10, 2015

Sunday, January 18, 2015

World War II Medal of Honor Recipient Charles DeGlopper Remembered at Fort Bragg


On D-Day plus three June 9, 1944, Charles DeGlopper, using an automatic rifle held off German forces which were about to destroy his unit.  His heroics became topics of discussion across America.

The Fort Bragg Air Assault School will be named for DeGlopper later this month.

  Medal of Honor Citation

He was a member of Company C, 325th Glider Infantry, on 9 June 1944 advancing with the forward platoon to secure a bridgehead across the Merderet River at La Fiere, France. At dawn the platoon had penetrated an outer line of machine guns and riflemen, but in so doing had become cut off from the rest of the company. Vastly superior forces began a decimation of the stricken unit and put in motion a flanking maneuver which would have completely exposed the American platoon in a shallow roadside ditch where it had taken cover. Detecting this danger, Pfc. DeGlopper volunteered to support his comrades by fire from his automatic rifle while they attempted a withdrawal through a break in a hedgerow 40 yards to the rear. Scorning a concentration of enemy automatic weapons and rifle fire, he walked from the ditch onto the road in full view of the Germans, and sprayed the hostile positions with assault fire. He was wounded, but he continued firing. Struck again, he started to fall; and yet his grim determination and valiant fighting spirit could not be broken. Kneeling in the roadway, weakened by his grievous wounds, he leveled his heavy weapon against the enemy and fired burst after burst until killed outright. He was successful in drawing the enemy action away from his fellow soldiers, who continued the fight from a more advantageous position and established the first bridgehead over the Merderet. In the area where he made his intrepid stand his comrades later found the ground strewn with dead Germans and many machine guns and automatic weapons which he had knocked out of action. Pfc. DeGlopper's gallant sacrifice and unflinching heroism while facing insurmountable odds were in great measure responsible for a highly important tactical victory in the Normandy Campaign.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sen. Charles Schumer of NY announced that legislation passed to consider Medal of Honor


U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the provision he authored, which would make late World War I hero and Albany NY resident, Sergeant Henry Johnson, eligible to receive the Medal of Honor has passed both the House and the Senate. Schumer worked with Rep. Paul Tonko and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) to include this provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was unveiled earlier this week. Now that the bill has passed both chambers of Congress, this provision will head to the President’s desk. Schumer is urging the President quickly provide final signature for this bill Once the president signs this bill into law, he will then be able to consider the actual Medal of Honor request.

Schumer has led the fight to get Sgt. Henry Johnson, an African-American WWI hero, the Medal of Honor he has long been denied due to segregation, but deserves for his bravery and heroism during WWI. Schumer explained that, under current law, a Medal of Honor must be awarded within five years of when the heroic act being recognized took place. Therefore, before the President could consider the Medal of Honor application Schumer submitted on Johnson’s behalf, Congress had to pass legislation specifically allowing Sgt. Johnson’s case to be considered. In his efforts to try to make this a reality, Schumer first introduced and passed a bill in the Senate that would waive the timing restriction and allow Johnson’s application to be considered by the President, and Tonko introduced a similar bill in the House of Representatives. To supplement this effort, just last month, Schumer launched an additional strategy to get this provision for Sgt. Johnson signed into law. In addition to trying to pass a stand-alone bill through both houses of Congress, Schumer successfully pushed for an amendment to be included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which also waives the timing restrictions on the Medal of Honor and enables the President to consider the Medal of Honor request.

“Sgt. Henry Johnson is a true American hero, who displayed the most profound battlefield bravery, and he deserves the Medal of Honor he was denied because of segregation. Johnson’s family has waited long enough for the recognition Johnson should have received almost a century ago. That is why I am pleased to announce today that we have finally passed a provision in Congress that will enable the President to consider this Medal of Honor request. With the passage of this bill, and eventually the President’s signature, we are now one step away from the finish line,” said Schumer. “The next step is for the President to consider the Medal of Honor request and, I hope and pray, to approve it. I will not stop pushing until this is a reality. Sgt. Henry Johnson left an indelible mark on America in its time of need, and this recognition would be a true testament to his sacrifice – and all that is best about our country.”

“I am proud that the United States Senate brought Sergeant Henry Johnson one step closer to the
Medal of Honor that he deserves,” said Senator Wyden.  “I will continue working with Senator
Schumer and others until this true American hero receives the recognition he has earned.”  

Sergeant Henry Johnson, an African American who was part of the “Harlem Hellfighters” that served under French Command due to segregation, was not properly recognized for gallantry during his lifetime. During World War I, then-private Henry Johnson fought with the French on the Western Front because of discriminatory laws in the United States. On May 14, 1918, Johnson came under attack by a German raider party of approximately 20 men. Despite sustaining numerous gunshot wounds, Johnson fought off an entire German advance, rescued his fellow soldier from certain capture, and acquired a large cache of enemy weapons. Schumer said that Johnson accomplished these actions with little training, a jammed rifle, and a bolo knife against an overwhelming German unit that was well trained during a raid that was carefully planned and meant to capture prisoners. Schumer said that, if not for Johnson’s bravery, with total disregard for his own life, his fellow soldiers would have been captured, a cache of weapons and supplies would not have been acquired by the allies, and valuable intelligence would have gone to the enemy. Johnson, who was permanently disabled after the fight, was issued a communique from General Pershing commending his service, and was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Gold Palm, one of the highest military honors of France, for his bravery in battle.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Medal of Honor Grove, Phoenixville, PA Oldest Living Memorial To Recipients


Each state is represented.  The photos below are of the Louisiana Acre and Obelisk where World War II Medal of Honor recipient Homer L. Wise is honored. A recent visitor to the Grove was World War II  Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams, hero of Iwo Jima.



Photos courtesy of  Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove

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