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

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fort Lee, New Jersey leads nation in honoring our heroes



The City of Fort Lee, New Jersey just across the the George Washington Bridge, showed us an impressive way to honor all those who serve.  Just think if every high school across America followed Fort Lee's  example of extraordinary patriotism.


Photo credits: medalofhonornews.com

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Remarks by the President at Medal of Honor Presentation to Alonzo H. Cushing


The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
November 06, 2014                                               Watch Presentation

Roosevelt Room
12:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Please, everyone, have a seat.  Well, on behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House.  One hundred fifty-one years ago, as our country struggled for its survival, President Lincoln dedicated the battlefield at Gettysburg as “a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live.”  Today, the nation that lived pauses to pay tribute to one of those who died there -- to bestow the Medal of Honor, our highest military decoration, upon First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing.

Now, typically, this medal must be awarded within a few years of the action.  But sometimes even the most extraordinary stories can get lost in the passage of time.  So I want to thank the more than two dozen family members of Lieutenant Cushing who are here -- including his cousin, twice removed, Helen Loring Ensign, from Palm Desert, California, who will accept this medal.  For this American family, this story isn’t some piece of obscure history -- it is an integral part of who they are.  And today, our whole nation shares their pride, and celebrates what this story says about who we are.

This award would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of supporters who worked for decades to make this day a reality.  And I want to especially acknowledge Margaret Zerwekh, who is a historian from Delafield, Wisconsin, where Lieutenant Cushing was born.  And there’s Margaret back there.  Good to see you, Margaret.  Margaret is also the granddaughter of a Union veteran, and lives on a property that was once owned by Cushing’s father.  When she discovered this story, she spent over 25 years researching, writing letters, and raising her voice to ensure that this American soldier received the recognition that he so richly he deserved.  And what’s more, she even managed to bring Republicans and Democrats together -- (laughter) -- to make this happen.  Margaret, we may call on you again sometime in the next several months.  (Laughter.)

Yet this medal is about more than one soldier or one family.  It reflects our obligations as a country to the men and women in our armed services -- obligations that continue long after they return home, after they’ve removed their uniforms, and even -- perhaps especially -- after they’ve laid down their lives.  And so this medal is a reminder that no matter how long it takes, it is never too late to do the right thing.

Alonzo, or “Lon,” Cushing was raised by his widowed mother in Fredonia, NY with his siblings, including three brothers who also fought for the Union.  As the congressman who recommended Lon to West Point wrote, “His mother is poor, but highly committed and her son will do honor to the position.”  After graduating from West Point, Lon was assigned to Battery A, 4th United States Artillery.  From Bull Run to Antietam, from Chancellorsville to Fredericksburg, Lon fought bravely and developed a reputation for his cool, his competence, and his courage under fire.

But it was at Gettysburg, what one newspaper later called “emphatically a soldiers’ battle,” where Lon would be immortalized.  It was July 3rd, 1863, the final day of a grueling three-day fight.  Lon commanded his battery along the wall on Cemetery Ridge, fending off punishing fire from General Lee’s Confederate troops in advance of what we now know as Pickett’s Charge.  In the chaos and smoke, Lon and his men could barely see ahead of them.  One colonel later described the “terrible grandeur of that rain of missiles and that chaos of strange and terror-spreading sounds.”

Lon was hit and badly wounded.  His first sergeant -- a soldier by the name of Frederick Fuger -- urged him to go to the rear.  But Lon refused and said he’d “fight it out, or die in the attempt.”  Bleeding and weak, he moved his remaining guns closer to the front.  Over 10,000 Confederate infantrymen advanced, elbow to elbow, in rows over a mile wide.  Peering through field glasses, Lon ordered his men to continue firing at the advancing columns.  He used his own thumb to stop his gun’s vent, burning his fingers to the bone.  When he was hit the final time, as a poet later wrote, “His gun spoke out for him once more before he fell to the ground.”  And Alonzo Cushing was just 22 years old.

In a letter to Lon’s sister, Fuger wrote that the bravery of their men that day “was entirely due to your brother’s training and example set on numerous battlefields.”  Etched on Lon’s tombstone at West Point is the simple epitaph, “Faithful unto death.”  And his memory will be honored later this month, when one of our Navy’s cruisers -- the USS Gettysburg -- dedicates its officer’s dining hall as the “Cushing Wardroom.”

And here today, we know that Lon and the others who fell that day could not -- we know -- we know what they could not -- that Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War.  It’s also proof, if any was needed, that it was thousands of unknown young soldiers, committing unsung acts of heroism, who saved our union, and freed a people, and reaffirmed our nation as “one Nation, under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”  I’m mindful that I might not be standing here today, as President, had it not been for the ultimate sacrifices of those courageous Americans.

Today we honor just one of those men, Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing, who, as Lincoln said, gave their “last full measure of devotion.”  His story is part of our larger American story -- one that continues today.  The spirit, the courage, the determination that he demonstrated lives on in our brave men and women in uniform who this very day are serving and making sure that they are defending the freedoms that Alonzo helped to preserve.  And it’s incumbent on all of us as Americans to uphold the values that they fight for, and to continue to honor their service long after they leave the battlefield -- for decades, even centuries to come.

So with that, I’d like to ask Helen to join me for the reading of the citation.

MILITARY AIDE:  The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing, United States Army.

First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing distinguished himself by acts of bravery above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an artillery commander in Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery, Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 3rd, 1863 during the American Civil War.

That morning, Confederate forces led by General Robert E. Lee began cannonading First Lieutenant Cushing’s position on Cemetery Ridge.  Using field glasses, First Lieutenant Cushing directed fire for his own artillery battery.  He refused to leave the battlefield after being struck in the shoulder by a shell fragment.  As he continued to direct fire, he was struck again -- this time suffering grievous damage to his abdomen.

Still refusing to abandon his command, he boldly stood tall in the face of Major General George E. Pickett’s charge and continued to direct devastating fire into oncoming forces.  As the Confederate forces closed in, First Lieutenant Cushing was struck in the mouth by an enemy bullet and fell dead beside his gun.

His gallant stand and fearless leadership inflicted severe casualties upon Confederate forces and opened wide gaps in their lines, directly impacting the Union force’s ability to repel Pickett’s charge.  First Lieutenant Cushing’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty at the cost of his own life are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery, Army of the Potomac, and the United States Army.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

President Obama to Award the Medal of Honor


The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
October 27, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – On November 6, 2014, President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor to Army First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing for conspicuous gallantry.

First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions while serving as commanding officer of Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, Artillery Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac during combat operations in the vicinity of Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 3, 1863.

During Longstreet's Assault, also known as Pickett's Charge, First Lieutenant Cushing's battery took a severe pounding by Confederate artillery. As the Confederate Forces advanced, he manned the only remaining, and serviceable, field piece in his battery. During the advance, he was wounded in the abdomen as well as in the right shoulder. Refusing to evacuate to the rear despite his severe wounds, he directed the operation of his lone field piece continuing to fire. With the Confederate Forces within 100 yards of his position, Cushing was shot and killed during this heroic stand. His actions made it possible for the Union Army to successfully repulse the assault.

First Lieutenant Cushing's cousins, Frederic Stevens Sater and Frederic Cushing Stevens III, and families will join the President at the White House to commemorate his example of selfless service and sacrifice

Monday, October 6, 2014

442nd Infantry Medal Of Honor Recipient Honored at National Infantry Museum


Parade Field Seeded with Soil from WWII Battlefield

Columbus, Georgia – September 22, 2014: As the United States Army’s newest Soldiers complete their initial training at Fort Benning’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, they will march across soil fought for by Daniel Inouye, an Infantryman who earned the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during World War II. Inouye went on to become one of the U.S. Senate’s most highly regarded and longest serving members before his death in December 2012.

The parade field at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus/Fort Benning, Georgia, was dedicated to Inouye in a ceremony September 12. The dedication was held in conjunction with the graduation of two companies of brand new Soldiers.

The Maneuver Center’s Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, talked to the graduates about the significance of the event. "You will forever be linked with a great Soldier, a courageous Soldier, a heroic Soldier and a great statesman who I wish could be here today," Miller said.

Inouye was born in Honolulu. His grandparents had emigrated from Japan to work in Hawaii’s sugar cane fields. The young Inouye enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 17, just after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He earned the Medal of Honor for his actions in combat near San Terenzo, Italy, in April 1945 while serving with the 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team. Then a second lieutenant, Inouye was shot while leading a charge on a machine gun nest. He kept moving toward the machine gun and managed to throw two grenades before a German-thrown grenade struck and shattered his right arm. Despite the serious wounds, he continued leading his platoon.

"By his gallant, aggressive tactics and by his indomitable leadership, Second Lieutenant Inouye enabled his platoon to advance through formidable resistance," his Medal of Honor citation said. The Medal was awarded in 2000 – 55 years after the incident – when it was determined that Inouye and 21 other Asian-Americans had been denied the award because of racial bias.

Later, Inouye became Hawaii’s first Congressman. He moved over to the Senate in 1963, and remained there until his death at age 88. He was the Senate pro tempore —the chamber's longest-serving member — and the person third in line to the presidency. He also chaired the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee at the time of his death.

It was in that appropriations committee role that Inouye first learned of plans to construct a new National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia, long known as the “home of the Infantry.” He was one of the National Infantry’s Museum’s earliest champions. After a visit by Foundation leaders in 2003, Inouye convinced his colleagues in Congress to award a grant of $8.5 million for construction of the new museum. The grant propelled the museum toward its goal of raising $100 million for the new facility. General Colin Powell cut the ribbon on the museum in June 2009 and it is now considered one of the finest military museums in the world.

The newly named Inouye Field at the National Infantry Museum is the site of about 100 Infantry School graduations each year. At the dedication ceremony Sept. 12, four Soldiers spread soil that had been taken from the spot in Italy where Inouye refused to give up the fight. The four – Pvt. Derrick Tamanaha, Sgt. 1st Class Zachary Zuehlsdorf, Lt. Col. Daniel Austin and Pvt. Peter Heaukulani – all were born in Inouye’s home state of Hawaii, and two serve in the same unit as Inouye, the 442nd Infantry Regiment. Also at the event, a bronze plaque telling Inouye’s story was unveiled. The plaque is mounted to a granite pedestal at the entrance to the parade field. At every graduation going forward, newly minted Soldiers will learn of Inouye’s contributions and march across the sacred soil as they conduct their pass and review.

When the field was first dedicated in 2009, it was consecrated with soil from eight battlefields in Infantry history. Soil came from Redoubt Number 10 in Yorktown, where Alexander Hamilton fought, and from under a tree at the base of Burnside Bridge at Antietam. Samples were collected from the WW I battlefield at Soissons, France, and WWII’s Normandy beach. Soil from Corregidor required the Philippine ambassador’s permission. More samples came from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Each sample was spread by a present-day veteran of the battle or a descendant of one who fought there. Spreaders included descendants of Alexander Hamilton, Alvin York, and Theodore Roosevelt. Vietnam veterans General Hal Moore and the late Command Sergeant Major Basil Plumley also participated.

Granite markers holding clear containers of soil mark the spots where the soil was spread. The battles represented there are the same ones depicted on the museum’s signature Last 100 Yards exhibit.

The tribute to Daniel Inouye will be seen by hundreds of graduates every week, as well as the thousands of friends and family members who travel from across the country to celebrate their achievement.
   
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The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center at Patriot Park, a 200-acre tract linking Columbus, Georgia, and the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, is the first world-class site to pay tribute to the U.S. Army Infantryman and those who fight alongside him. As the only interactive Army Museum in the United States, the museum showcases the contributions of the Infantry Soldier in every war fought by the U.S. by offering immersive participation and engaging visitors in the unique experiences of the Infantry Soldier. The complex also includes a parade field, memorial walk of honor, authentic World War II Company Street and 3-D IMAX® Theatre. For more information, visit www.nationalinfantrymuseum.org.

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