Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011: President Obama participates in a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns (Live Video)

Video live streaming: 10:55 am President Obama participates in a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns:



Memorial Day 2011: Let’s pause to remember those who fought for us in the past

On Memorial Day, men and women across the nation pause to remember America’s fallen soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of protecting American freedom.

Originally known as “Decoration Day,” Memorial Day came into existence just three years after the Civil War ended. Decoration Day was intended as a time to remember the soldiers who lost their lives during the Civil War and more specifically, to honor their memory by decorating their graves.

On May 5, 1868, Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic declared the first Decoration Day to be held on May 30, 1868. As part of the day’s observances, flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

He asked that America remember those lost in the Civil War by ‘gathering around their sacred remains’ to ‘garland the passionless mounds … with choicest flowers’ and ‘raise above them the dear old flag they saved.’

By the late 1800s, as the holiday grew in popularity and was observed by more states, Decoration Day had become better known as Memorial Day. But it wasn’t until the end of World War I that Memorial Day was opened to include fallen soldiers who fought in all U.S. wars.

In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday and designated the last Monday in May as the official day of observance. And every year on that date, U.S. defense leaders, members of Congress and citizens return to Arlington National Cemetery to pay their respects to the men and women who have given their lives for our country. Dignitaries watch as the 3rd Infantry leads the Memorial Day ceremonies, which include wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

 “Some wear a red poppy, in the spirit of the poet Moina Michael, who wrote that that flower “grows on fields where valor led.” Others continue to adorn graves with flowers and candles. And each year, the soldiers of “The Old Guard” place small American flags at each Arlington National Cemetery gravestone and patrol around the clock during Memorial Day weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.

Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.’ Gen. Logan

Medal of Honor recipient Jared Monti's father efforts pay off 50,000 flags for vets graves

Paul Monti, father of Medal of Honor recipient Jared Monti, led an effort to place 50,000 American flags at graves in the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne. Monti said the initiative comes after a four-year effort to get permission for flag placement at the site, with an agreement that the flags will be placed for one-week periods coinciding with Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

“Basically, this is about doing the right thing for your veterans,” said Monti, explaining that authorization for flag placement was secured about a month ago. “They fought for you, they fought for the freedom of this country and our way of life,” he said. “The least we can do is honor them with a flag.”

The Flags for Vets campaign started when Monti went to visit his son’s grave and saw there were no flags on the graves. Management said it was difficult to maintain the cemetery. But he contacted political leaders at the national level and the flags can now be placed on Memorial Day and Veterans Day provided they are removed a week later.

2,000 volunteers planted those flags at the Massachusetts National Cemetery this weekend.

SFC Jared Monti
“I’m hoping that this will catch on nationwide,” said Monti, who was inspired by similar efforts. “I know there are national cemeteries that do the same thing. I hope some other people will step up in their area and do the same thing in their cemetery.

“My message about my son is just to have people do the right thing,” Monti said. “That’s what my son did. That’s the message I carry everywhere. This is the right thing.”

Video:  Graves Of Cape Cod Vets Get First Flags

See our previous article:
MOH recipient SFC Jared Monti's legacy and Operation Showers of Appreciation

Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett signs bill to name highway after Medal of Honor recipient CMSgt. Richard Etchberger

CMSgt. Richard Etchberger
A 12-mile portion of Interstate 78 in eastern Pennsylvania has been named for a local Medal of Honor recipient.

Gov. Tom Corbett on Friday signed a law designating the road section in Berks County as the Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger Memorial Highway.

See our previous article: MOH recipient CMSgt. Richard Etchberger honored at Air Force Memorial

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Medal of Honor recipient Paul Bucha presented 2011 Service and Leadership Award at Stanford

MOH recipient Paul Bucha
Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Paul Bucha addressed attendees of the Stanford Graduate School of Business Military Service Appreciation Dinner. Following his talk about leadership, the Graduate School of Business Veterans Club presented him with their 2011 Service and Leadership Award as recognition of his military service, business career and advocacy for veterans.

According to the Stanford Daily article, Medal of Honor winner Bucha explains leadership’s fine points by Eric Dunn:

“Bucha began the talk explaining the importance of connecting with veterans. “I spend one day every week talking to veterans,” he said. “I have learned from them what it means to serve your country.” He stressed that those with the responsibility to lead men and women into harm’s way should “have the courage to define an objective that is finite.”

“Bucha then outlined five characteristics of leadership: “integrity, competency, confidence, compassion and humility.” He said each element is “essential to what it means to be a great leader” and argued that universities like Stanford and West Point are “trying to produce leaders of substance.”

"When asked what his message for Stanford was, Bucha’s answer was simple and direct. “Always look out for those who are weaker and meeker than you are,” he said. “Always. That is what it means to be a leader.”

Read more of the article on the Stanford Daily: Medal of Honor winner Bucha explains leadership’s fine points

See our previous articles about Medal of Honor recipient Paul Bucha:

MOH recipient Paul W. Bucha speaks to Bravo Company of the 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion before deployment to Afghanistan

Medal of Honor Recipient Paul Bucha discusses objection to Gettysburg casino (Video)

Medal of Honor recipient Bruce P. Crandall starter for Indianapolis 500

MOH Bruce P. Crandall
Medal of Honor recipient Bruce P. Crandall has been named honorary starter for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on Sunday, May 29, waving the green flag to begin racing for the field of 33 drivers at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Retired Col. Crandall, who flew more than 900 missions as a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, received the Medal of Honor - the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government - in 2007.

"I'm thrilled and honored to be selected as the honorary starter for the Indianapolis 500 in its 100th anniversary year," Crandall said. "The race is an American tradition, and I'm very grateful for the continued tributes to the U.S. Armed Forces during the pre-race ceremonies every year. I can't wait to get into the starter's stand."

Crandall was honored for his leadership, heroism and courage during the Battle of Ia Drang on Nov. 14, 1965. He led the first major division operation of airmobile troops into Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley and is credited with evacuating some 70 wounded comrades with his wing man and fellow Medal of Honor recipient Major Ed Freeman. The two also flew in the ammunition needed for the 1/7th Cavalry to survive. The craft Crandall was flying was unarmed. On February 26, 2007, Crandall received the Medal of Honor from President George W. Bush in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House for his actions on November 14.

During his military career, Crandall also received a Bronze Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, a Presidential Unit Citation and a Purple Heart among numerous other citations.

Crandall's UH-1 Huey dispatching
infantry in the Ia Drang operation
"It's a great honor to welcome Bruce Crandall to serve as the honorary starter of the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500," said Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation president and CEO. "The Indianapolis 500 has paid tribute to the service and sacrifice of our Armed Forces since its inception on Memorial Day weekend in 1911, and it's a privilege for a true American hero to send the field of 33 on its way toward Victory Lane at such a historic race."

The 2002 movie We Were Soldiers was based on the operation for which Crandall was awarded the Medal of Honor, with 1997 Academy Award Best Supporting Actor nominee Greg Kinnear appearing as Crandall.

Battle of the Bulge World War II Medal of Honor recipient Paul Wiedorfer dies

MOH Paul J. Wiedorfer
On Christmas Day 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, Staff Sergeant (then Private) Paul Wiedorfer made a daring 150 yard charge across an open snow covered field and destroyed two German machine gun emplacements.

He alone made it possible for his company to advance until its objective was seized. Company G had cleared a wooded area of snipers, and one platoon was advancing across an open clearing toward another wood when it was met by heavy machinegun fire from two German positions dug in at the edge of the second wood. These positions were flanked by enemy riflemen.

The platoon took cover behind a small ridge approximately 40 yards from the enemy position. There was no other available protection and the entire platoon was pinned down by the German fire. It was about noon and the day was clear, but the terrain was extremely difficult due to a three-inch snowfall the night before over ice-covered ground.

Private Wiedorfer, realizing that the platoon advance could not continue until the two enemy machinegun nests were destroyed, voluntarily charged alone across the slippery open ground with no protecting cover of any kind. Running in a crouched position, under a hail of enemy fire, he slipped and fell in the snow, but quickly rose and continued forward with the enemy concentrating automatic and small-arms fire on him as he advanced.

Miraculously escaping injury, Private Wiedorfer reached a point some ten yards from the first machinegun emplacement and hurled a hand grenade into it. With his rifle he killed the remaining Germans, and, without hesitation, wheeled to the right and attacked the second emplacement.

One of the enemy was wounded by his fire and the other six immediately surrendered. This heroic action by one man enabled the platoon to advance from behind its protecting ridge and continue successfully to reach its objective. A few minutes later, when both the platoon leader and the platoon sergeant were wounded, Private Wiedorfer assumed command of the platoon, leading it forward with inspired energy until the mission was accomplished. (From the official Citation)

"So I thought, somebody's got to do something. And all of a sudden I said, 'Goddammit, let's see if we can get that nest.' I remember slipping, falling and the good Lord was with me and I got it. I got two of 'em." Paul J. Wiedorfer On the Medal of Honor suicide charge.

Wiedorfer was training to be a pilot, but the Army switched him to infantry because of greater need. On the way to England he crossed the Atlantic Ocean on the Queen Mary, and by December 25, 1944, was serving as a private in Company G, 318th Infantry Regiment, 80th Infantry Division.

He was subsequently promoted to staff sergeant and, on June 12, 1945, issued the Medal of Honor for his actions during the battle.

MOH Paul J. Wiedorfer
While crossing the Saar River, he was severely injured February 10, 1945, by a mortar shell that blew up near him; shrapnel broke his left leg, ripped into his stomach, and seriously injured two fingers on his right hand. The sergeant next to him was killed instantly. He was evacuated to the 137th United States Army General Hospital in England where he was placed in traction. While in the hospital a sergeant reading Stars and Stripes asked him how he spelled his name, and then told him he had received the Medal of Honor. Later, on May 5, 1945, Brigadier General Egmont F. Koenig with a band entered the ward to present him with his medal.

Wiedorfer reached the rank of master sergeant before retiring from the Army. In addition to the Medal of Honor he was also awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

He returned to Baltimore on June 11, 1945, and was given a ticker tape parade with General George C. Marshall and Maryland governor Herbert O’Connor in attendance.

After the war he spent another three years recovering in different Army hospitals and then returned to Baltimore Gas & Electric, and retired in 1981, after 40 years of service. He and Alice had four children.

He died on May 25th, 2011 and was 90 years old. He will be buried at Parkwood Cemetery, Baltimore, MD.

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if the Medal of Honor didn't exist because there were no wars and we could all live in peace? And that the only way to spell war was love? Wouldn't that be wonderful?" Paul J. Wiedorfer On the Medal of Honor

Monday, May 16, 2011

National Armed Forces Day May 21st, 2011: Six MOH recipients honored at Colonial PGA TOUR Golf Tournament

Six servicemen who have received the Medal of Honor are scheduled to arrive today in Fort Worth to be part of the 2011 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial PGA TOUR Golf Tournament week activities. They are among 85 living recipients of the award. All six will be recognized Saturday, on National Armed Forces Day. The list includes Jon R. Cavaiani, Mike Thornton, Richard Pittman, Robert Modrzejewski, Robert Patterson and Thomas Norris.

Teletouch Communications, Inc. the Official Cellular Sponsor of the tournament will provide visiting troops and their families an opportunity for some much earned 'R&R,' watching great golf, playing Nintendo Wii Golf and making free calls to their families and fellow soldiers, sailors and airmen around the world.

These activities and much more will be set-up in the XTO Military Chalet for the over 3,500 military personnel and their family members attending the upcoming 2011 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial PGA TOUR Golf Tournament to be held Monday, May 16th through Sunday, May 22, 2011 at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

In addition, Saturday of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial celebrates national Armed Forces Day.

National Armed Forces Day: May 21st, 2011

President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country.

On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under one department -- the Department of Defense.

This year also marks the 150th Anniversary of the Medal of Honor.

The tournament is encouraging fans to wear a yellow ribbon Saturday in honor of Armed Forces Day. Yellow ribbons will be available at the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation tent at the Main Entrance, for a small donation of $5, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Foundation.

In addition, on Saturday, for each birdie made on the 17th hole, the Colonial and Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts will donate $1,000 to the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. An American flag pin-flag will be used on the green, with a military attendant to hold the flagstick for each group. Immediately following play, near the 18th Green, there will be a ceremony to honor the six Congressional Medal of Honor recipients and to present a check to their Foundation.

Story told of Medal of Honor recipient who lived modest life as janitor

William "Bill" Crawford
Retired Air Force Col. James Moschgat shared Medal of Honor recipient William "Bill" Crawford story last Friday night with about 200 people gathered at the annual Pueblo Medal of Honor Foundation Golf Tournament Dinner.

Moschgat was a cadet at the Academy when, one day in the fall of 1976, he was reading a book about individual experiences from World War II.

Moschgat said he was reading about a Colorado man named William Crawford, an Army private who, in September 1943 in Italy, raced through intense enemy fire — three times and on his own initiative — to detonate hand grenades on enemy gun sites.

After the battle, Crawford later was captured by the Germans and was presumed dead. In 1945, the Medal of Honor was presented to his father, but later that year, Crawford was found alive when a group of soldiers were rescued from German control. Crawford re-enlisted in 1947 and retired in '67 as a master sergeant. After the Army, he went to work at the academy where, according to Moschgat, he blended in and developed a reputation for being a shy, shuffling janitor.

Moschgat said he wondered if this war hero was the same man who cleaned his squadron's quarters.

"I looked at my roommate and said, Jim, you're not going to believe this, but I think Bill our janitor is a recipient of the Medal of Honor."

The next day, Moschgat said he showed Crawford the book and asked if it was him. "He looked at it a moment and said it was him. He said, ‘That was a long time ago and one day in my life.’

Read the rest of the story: War hero's modest demeanor recalled The Pueblo Chieftan Nick Bonham

The original story on the Home of Heroes website: A Janitor’s Ten Lessons in Leadership By Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander

William "Bill" Crawford
September 13, 1943, Crawford was serving as a private with the 36th Infantry Division in southern Italy. On that day, he was acting as a squad scout when his company attacked Hill 424 near Altavilla Silentina. During the battle, Crawford twice moved forward through continuous fire and, using hand grenades and his rifle, destroyed machine gun nests which were holding back his platoon's advance.

After the battle, he was captured by the Germans and presumed dead. So in 1945, the Medal of Honor was presented to his father. Later in the year, he was among a group of soldiers rescued from German captivity.

He retired from the Army after 23 years of service and later worked at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and as director of the Lucretia Vaille Museum in Palmer Lake.

Crawford and Reagan
While working at the Air Force Academy, he mentioned to friends that he had never received the Medal from the president. In 1984, during that year's graduation ceremony, President Ronald Reagan formally presented him with the Medal.

Crawford died at age 81 on March 15, 2000, in his residence at Palmer Lake. Upon his death Governor Bill Owens authorized all Colorado flags to be lowered to half staff in his honor. He is buried at the United States Air Force Academy Cemetery in Colorado Springs.

MOH recipients Sal Giunta, Drew Dix and Pete Lemon at rededication ceremony Home of Heroes (VIDEO)

 Pete Lemon, Sal Giunta and Drew Dix- John Jaques-The (Pueblo) Chieftain
Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, the nation's newest Medal of Honor recipient, joined two of his forbearers, Drew Dix and Pete Lemon, at a rededication ceremony for the Home of Heroes Memorial at the Pueblo Convention Center in Pueblo, Colorado on Saturday, May 14th, 2011.

"Only because of men and women like yourselves, like the Drew Dix and Pete Lemons of the world, the people who have raised their hand and answered the call of their country am I able to stand here and be so proud of what I have done," Giunta told the crowd.

Along with adding new names to the memorial wall, the crowd was invited to visit the new Veterans Memorial Bridge at the Riverwalk and join the war heroes at the recently opened Center for American Values.

The Home of Heroes Memorial at the convention center was recently refurbished ahead of Saturday's event. Read more: Medal of Honor recipients join ceremony in Pueblo



Drew Dennis Dix
Drew Dennis Dix is a decorated United States military veteran and retired major in the United States Army. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Vietnam War; he was the first enlisted Special Forces soldier to receive the medal.

By 1968 he had reached the rank of Staff Sergeant and was assigned as a military adviser to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) in Chau Phu, South Vietnam, near the Cambodian border. On January 31, 1968, Viet Cong forces attacked Chau Phu in the first days of the Tet Offensive. Throughout that day and the next, Dix lead groups of local fighters in rescuing endangered civilians and driving Viet Cong forces out of buildings in the city.

For these actions, Dix was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon B. Johnson during a ceremony at the White House on January 19, 1969. He is one of four Medal of Honor recipients from Pueblo, Colorado, the others being William J. Crawford, Raymond G. Murphy, and Carl L. Sitter.

Peter Charles Lemon
Peter Charles Lemon is a former United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor. He received the award for his actions on April 1, 1970 while serving in Tay Ninh province during the Vietnam War. Lemon is the only Canadian born U.S. citizen to be presented the medal for fighting in the Vietnam War. He is the third-youngest living Medal of Honor recipient.

Sgt. Lemon distinguished himself during the defense of Fire Support Base Illingworth. Under heavy enemy attack, he engaged a large number of enemy fighters with machine gun and rifle fire until both weapons malfunctioned. He fought on, using grenades and hand-to-hand combat to fend off the enemy attack. Despite wounds from an exploding grenade, Lemon carried an injured comrade to an aid station and was wounded a second time by enemy fire. Disregarding personal injury, he continued to fight until he had driven the enemy from the position. He stood atop an embankment fully exposed to enemy fire and continued to fight until he collapsed from multiple wounds and exhaustion. He refused medical evacuation until his more seriously wounded comrades had been evacuated. His gallantry and extraordinary heroism earned him the Medal of Honor at age 19.

He currently works as a motivational speaker and is the author of the book Beyond the Medal: A Journey from Their Hearts to Yours as well as being executive producer on the PBS special Beyond the Medal of Honor.

Sal Giunta
SSG Giunta, who has served in the U.S. Army for almost eight years, became the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, the United States' highest military decoration of valor.

SSG Giunta was cited for having saved the lives of members of his squad on Oct. 25, 2007 while deployed in Afghanistan. He exposed himself to enemy fire in order to pull a soldier back to cover when their platoon came under attack.

For his bravery, he was awarded the medal from President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House on Nov. 16, 2010.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Photos of Medal of Honor recipients at the Kentucky Derby Pegasus Parade

Pegasus parade Grand Marshals MOH recipients
Four Medal of Honor recipients served as Grand Marshals of the 56th annual Kentucky Derby Festival Pegasus Parade.

The Grand Marshals were: World War II veteran Hershel "Woody" Williams of West Virginia; Korean War veteran Ernie West of Russell, KY.; Vietnam War veteran Gary Littrell of Henderson, KY; and Vietnam War veteran Don Jenkins of Quality, KY.

Thanks again to photojournalist Chuck Bauman (USCGR-Ret.) of the Louisville 2011 CMOH Convention Committee who has shared photos of these great heroes at the Derby Festival Pegasus Parade with Medal of Honor News. See also: Photos of MOH recipients Williams and Jenkins at the Kentucky Derby Opening Ceremonies 2011

Members of Kentucky Junior ROTC units carry the banner introducing the four Grand Marshals for the Pegasus Parade in Louisville.  This year four Recipients, Hershel Woody Williams - WV; Ernie West - KY; Gary Littrell - KY and Don Jenkins - KY, served as Grand Marshals at the immensely popular event. Photo credit: Chuck Bauman (USCGR-Ret.)

Hershel "Woody" Williams waves to some of the 275,000 enthusiastic people who attended the annual Pegasus Parade in Louisville, Kentucky.
Photo credit: Chuck Bauman (USCGR-Ret.)

Ernie West, one of four Recipient Grand Marshals at the annual Pegasus Parade, waves to some of the 275,000 enthusiastic people who lined the miles long parade route.
Photo credit: Chuck Bauman (USCGR-Ret.)

Former Society President Gary Littrell, waves to the crowd at the annual Pegasus Parade in Louisville, Kentucky.  Mr. Littrell was one of four Recipient Grand Marshals.
Photo credit: Chuck Bauman (USCGR-Ret.)

Recipient Don Jenkins, one of four recipient Grand Marshals, enjoys an exciting ride down the Pegasus Parade route in a Vietnam era Jeep.
Photo credit: Chuck Bauman (USCGR-Ret.)
The men’s appearance at the Derby festival Pegasus Parade is a prequel to the annual 2011 Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention that will take place in Louisville Sept. 28 to Oct. 2. During that time, Louisville will welcome all 85 living Medal of Honor Recipients. The event marks the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Medal of Honor in 1861 by President Abraham Lincoln.

See our previous articles:

MOH recipients Kentucky Derby 2011 Thundernators

Four MOH recipients Grand Marshals Kentucky Derby Pegasus Parade today!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Vietnam War hero MOH Thomas G. Kelley 41 years of service honored at Gala event

MOH Thomas G. Kelley
Vietnam War hero and Medal of Honor recipient Thomas G. Kelley will be honored for his 41 years of combined service as a distinguished Naval Officer and Secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services at a special event at the Hynes Convention Center on his birthday, Friday, May 13.

The salute to Kelley, which includes participation from current and former senators, governors, and other special guests, will benefit the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund, which honors the sacrifices of Massachusetts' fallen heroes through educational support for their children.

MSNBC-TV Military Analyst and Medal of Honor recipient Jack Jacobs will interview Kelley during the event. The reception begins at 6 p.m. with the formal program commencing at 6:30 p.m.

The evening's honorary chairs include United States Senators John F. Kerry and Scott P. Brown; Governors Deval Patrick, Mitt Romney, Jane Swift, and Paul Cellucci; Lieutenant Governors Tim Murray and Kerry Healey; US Congressmen Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch; Mayor Thomas M. Menino; Massachusetts State Senators Ken Donnelly, Jack Hart, Patricia Jehlen, Michael Knapik, and Bruce Tarr; Massachusetts State Representatives Brad Hill, Denise Provost, and James Vallee; and Sheriffs Andrea Cabral and Frank Cousins.

"It is an honor for the MSLF to be the beneficiary of an event that recognizes such an extraordinary individual," said MSLF Founder Peter Trovato. "Tom Kelley's valor in the field and unrelenting public service following his tours of duty are inspiring, and we hope to replicate his commitment to supporting those who need it most through our efforts at MSLF. We're so thankful to Tom and the host committee for their efforts to help our organization provide a brighter future for young people who have sacrificed so much."

Kelley recieves MOH from Nixon
Kelley received the Medal of Honor for his actions as a United States Navy officer during the Vietnam War. During a mission to extract a US Army infantry company from a canal bank in South Vietnam, his convoy came under attack, and Kelley suffered a severe head wound. Unable to stand or speak clearly, he continued to relay directions to the convoy until his crippled boat was repaired and the group was able to move out. Despite the loss of an eye during the attack, Kelley requested to remain on active duty and eventually retired with the rank of captain in 1990.

Following his retirement, Kelley worked as a civilian in the Department of Defense before returning to Boston to become Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services in 1999. From 2003 until his retirement in December 2010, Kelley served as Secretary of that department.

"Tom is the real deal: a genuine American hero with a heart of gold, and it is only fitting that an event to salute his distinguished career benefits such a worthy cause as the MSLF," said Host Committee member and former GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker "Though the event also celebrates Tom's birthday, he is the one who has provided the lasting gift by using this celebration as an opportunity to help educate children who have lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan."


Thomas Kelley from Congressional Medal of Honor on Vimeo.

See our previous article:
Medal of Honor recipient unceremoniously ousted as Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans Services by Governor

Sunday, May 8, 2011

MOH recipient and Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy: PHOTOS of christening of the USS Michael Murphy

Christening of the USS Michael Murphy (U.S. Navy)
"The Navy christened its newest guided-missile destroyer, Pre-commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Murphy (DDG 112), during a morning ceremony at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine May 7.

The new destroyer honors Medal of Honor recipient Lt. (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy and was christened on what would have been his 35th birthday.

"It is my sincere belief that this ship will build on the momentum gained by our special operations forces in the fight against extremism and sail the seas in a world made more peaceful by sustained American vigilance, power and dignity," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead. "This ship will carry Michael's legacy and values to Sailors several decades from now and to a new generation of Americans. For that I am proud to wear this uniform."

Maureen Murphy, sponsor of the ship named for her late son, had the honor of breaking a bottle of champagne across the ship's bow, formally christening the ship in accordance with Navy tradition.

"I am so proud and it is truly an honor," said Murphy." For people to come out and remember Mike and to celebrate this ship; it means a lot and it means that they still remember the sacrifice he made for this country." Official website of the United States Navy: Navy Christens Guided-Missile Destroyer Michael Murphy


(May 7, 2011) Guests await the christening ceremony for the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Pre-commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Murphy (DDG 112) at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. Michael Murphy was christened by Maureen Murphy, mother of the ship's namesake, Navy (SEAL) Lt. Michael Murphy. Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan in June 2005. He was the first Sailor awarded the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dominique M. Lasco/Released)

(May 7, 2011) Maureen Murphy, mother of Lt. Michael Murphy (SEAL) and ship's sponsor, breaks a bottle of champagne across the bow of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Pre-commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Murphy (DDG 112) during the ship's christening ceremony at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan in June 2005. He was the first Sailor awarded the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dominique M. Lasco/Released)

CNO Adm. Gary Roughead delivers the keynote address at the christening ceremony of the Arleigh Burke-Class destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112).

Adm. Eric Olson, Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, Dan Murphy, ship's sponsor Maureen Murphy, and Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead pose for a photo at the christening ceremony of the Arleigh Burke-Class destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112).

(May 7, 2011) Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Pre-commissioning Unit Michael Murphy (DDG 112) march through the crowd at the christening ceremony for the ship at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. Michael Murphy was christened by Maureen Murphy, mother of the ship's namesake, Navy (SEAL) Lt. Michael Murphy. Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan in June 2005. He was the first Sailor awarded the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dominique M. Lasco/Released)
CNO Adm. Gary Roughead attends the christening of the USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) during a ceremony in Bath, Maine.

Visit the Official U.S. Navy website for more photos of Michael Murphy

See these previous articles for more details:

In honor of the christening of the USS Michael Murphy: #1 Amazon bestseller Seal of Honor 

Navy will christen USS Michael Murphy on May 7th, 2011 in Bath, Maine  

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hundreds greet MOH recipients at Medal of Honor Bridge dedication (VIDEO)

MOH recipients  (John Terhune/Journal & Courier)
"Seven of the 85 surviving recipients of the Medal of Honor visited Tippecanoe County to dedicate the new Medal of Honor Bridge on County Road 500 East. It is the only bridge in the United States named for all Medal of Honor recipients.

The honorees were Sammy L. Davis, Harold Fritz, Don Jenkins, Ronald Rosser, Kenneth Stumpf, Leo Thorsness and Hershel "Woody" Williams.

The group made a dramatic entrance for a series of dedication and ribbon-cutting events, cheered at every stop on a day designed to hail them as heroes.

They flew in a UH-1 Huey helicopter to the Faith Baptist Church campus for a formal bridge dedication ceremony." Read more and view slideshow at jconline.com  7 Medal of Honor recipients star attractions



See our previous article:
Historic Event: First bridge in U.S. dedicated to ALL Medal of Honor recipients

Friday, May 6, 2011

Video of four MOH recipients Grand Marshals of the Kentucky Derby Pegasus Parade

Four Medal of Honor recipients served as Grand Marshals of the 56th annual Kentucky Derby Festival Pegasus Parade.

The Grand Marshals were: World War II veteran Hershel "Woody" Williams of West Virginia; Korean War veteran Ernie West of Russell, KY.; Vietnam War veteran Gary Littrell of Henderson, KY; and Vietnam War veteran Don Jenkins of Quality, KY.

According to Fox41.com's, Tamara Evans:

"An estimated 275,000 people attended the Kentucky Derby Festival's oldest event, the Pegasus Parade, organizers said."

The grand marshals this year drew some extra attention. The parade gave its top honors to the four Medal of Honor recipients.

"They wear their medals for those who served with them. It's something they say hits home, just days after the news of the death of Osama bin Laden."



For more info view our previous article:
Four MOH recipients Grand Marshals Kentucky Derby Pegasus Parade today!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

U.S. Olympic Committee announced: MOH recipient Sal Giunta torchbearer for 2011 Warrior Games

Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Salvatore Giunta
U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), announced that U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta (Fort Collins, Colo.), Medal of Honor recipient, has been selected as the torchbearer for the 2011 Warrior Games Presented by Deloitte. Giunta will light the torch at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. during the Warrior Games Opening Ceremony on May 16.

Update: The Opening Ceremony will be streamed live online on Monday, May 16, at 5:00 p.m. MT at the U.S. Paralympics Warrior Games website.

"I'm really excited that I was asked to do this, it's truly an honor for me to kickoff such an amazing competition with so many amazing people" said SSG Giunta. "All of the competitors have faced adversity in some shape or form, and the fact that they have overcome it to not only compete at this event, but live full, quality lives is awesome."

SSG Giunta, who has served in the U.S. Army for almost eight years, became the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, the United States' highest military decoration of valor. SSG Giunta was cited for having saved the lives of members of his squad on Oct. 25, 2007 while deployed in Afghanistan. He exposed himself to enemy fire in order to pull a soldier back to cover when their platoon came under attack. For his bravery, he was awarded the medal from President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House on Nov. 16, 2010.

"It is a privilege to have Staff Sergeant Giunta as the torchbearer for the 2011 Warrior Games," said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. "He is a true hero who is a role model not only for those taking part in this competition, but for all people in the United States."

Sgt. Giunta receives MOH

Originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, SSG Giunta enlisted in the U.S. Army shortly after graduating from John F. Kennedy High School. He attended basic training and infantry school at Fort Benning, Ga. and was deployed to Afghanistan with the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade from March 2005-March 2006 and again from May 2007-July 2008.

SSG Giunta is transitioning out of the Army and his future plans include returning to school.

The 2011 Warrior Games Presented by Deloitte will take place in Colorado Springs, May 16-21. Approximately 220 wounded, ill and injured servicemen and women from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy/Coast Guard, Air Force and Special Operations will compete in seven sports.

The Warrior Games Presented by Deloitte is one component of the overall USOC Paralympic Military Program, which is focused on providing daily physical activity as an important part of rehabilitation at the community and installation levels. The program isn't about elite performance, rather assisting service members with a physical disability to find enjoyment in activities that are an instrumental part of the rehabilitation process. Through the program, in collaboration with the Department of Defense, physical activity and sports participation rates at Warrior Transition Units, Wounded Warrior Battalions/Detachments and other Wounded Warrior programs throughout the U.S. have increased by 23 percent in the past two years.



See also:
A must-see video: The Story of Sal Giunta


In honor of the christening of the USS Michael Murphy: #1 Amazon bestseller Seal of Honor

Seal of Honor on Amazon.com
In honor of and to coincide with the christening of the USS Michael Murphy on Saturday, May 7th, view the book Seal of Honor: Operation Red Wings and the Life of Lt Michael P. Murphy, Usn by Gary Williams which recounts the life story of this extraordinary hero. It is almost #1 on Amazon.com and is available in paperback.

This biography of Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Michael P. Murphy received extensive media coverage when published in hardcover last year by the Naval Institute Press. Author Gary Williams and Dan Murphy, Lt. Murphy’s father, toured widely and appeared on national shows including The Sean Hannity Show, Fox & Friends and the Michael Smerconish Show. Film rights to the book have been sold as well.

Lieutenant Murphy, the leader of a Navy SEAL squad, was killed during a fierce battle against the Taliban on a remote mountainside in the Kongeral Valley of Afghanistan on 28 June 2005. The first to receive the nation s highest military honor for service in Afghanistan, Lieutenant Murphy was also the first naval officer to earn the medal since the Vietnam War. Honored for his courage and leadership in the face of certain death, he is now the subject of Naval Special Warfare courses on leadership, and a guided-missile destroyer, naval base, school, post office, ball park, and hospital emergency room have all been named in his honor.

SEAL of Honor tells the story of Lieutenant Murphy s life and how he came to be the man that Marcus Luttrell, the sole survivor of the mission, called the best officer I ever knew, an iron-souled warrior of colossal, almost unbelievable courage in the face of the enemy. In attempting to answer why Lieutenant Murphy readily sacrificed his life for his comrades, the author traces the SEAL s journey from a seemingly ordinary life on New York s Long Island to those extraordinary last moments half a world away. Lieutenant Murphy s story has captured the nation s attention, making him one of the most celebrated Medal of Honor recipients since World War II.

Gary Williams is a graduate of the University of Dayton and a thirty-year employee of the state of Ohio. Married with six children, he is also the author of Siege in Lucasville. He had the full cooperation and support of the Murphy family in writing SEAL of Honor.

SEAL of Honor is a compelling read chock full of lessons learned for military and civilian alike. It is a tearjerker from the very beginning and Gary Williams does an excellent job of capturing the duality of our everyday peaceful lives here in the United States and the exceptional heroism and harrowing tragedies that occur overseas...SEAL of Honor is more than an account of a military action…it is an examination of one man's life, his maturation, his service, his combat experience, and the actions that led to Michael Murphy being awarded the Medal of Honor. SEAL of Honor should be on every leader's short list of must read books. Brigadier General Anthony J. Tata (USA, Ret).

Seal of Honor: Operation Red Wings and the Life of Lt Michael P. Murphy, Usn by Gary Williams

See also:

Navy will christen USS Michael Murphy on May 7th, 2011 in Bath, Maine

MOH recipient and Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy:  PHOTOS of christening of the USS Michael Murphy


Four MOH recipients Grand Marshals Kentucky Derby Pegasus Parade today!

56th Annual Kentucky Derby Pegasus Parade
Four Medal of Honor recipients will serve as Grand Marshals of the 56th annual Kentucky Derby Festival Pegasus Parade today Thursday, May 5 at 5:00 pm. The Grand Marshals are: World War II veteran Hershel "Woody" Williams of West Virginia; Korean War veteran Ernie West of Russell, KY.; Vietnam War veteran Gary Littrell of Henderson, KY; and Vietnam War veteran Don Jenkins of Quality, KY. The members of Bellarmine University's NCAA Division II men's national champion basketball team will serve as Honorary Grand Marshals of the Pegasus Parade.

The theme for this year's parade is "Heroic Adventures" and ties in to the overall theme for the 2011 Kentucky Derby Festival = "SuperFest" - which celebrates TV, movie and comic book Superheroes, as well as heroic individuals from our own community.

"We're tremendously honored to have these four American heroes serve as Grand Marshals of this year's Republic Bank Pegasus Parade," said Mike Berry, President and CEO of the Kentucky Derby Festival. "The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest honor presented by the U.S. military and most were presented posthumously. The Medal of Honor is bestowed upon an individual by the passing of a Joint Resolution in the Congress. Our four Grand Marshals have gone well above and beyond the call of duty in serving their country and we couldn't be more humbled to have them appear in the Pegasus Parade."

The men's appearance in the parade is a prequel to the annual 2011 Louisville Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention from September 28th through October 2nd. During that time, Louisville will welcome all 85 living Medal of Honor Recipients. The event marks the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Medal of Honor in 1861 by President Abraham Lincoln.

See also:

MOH recipients Kentucky Derby 2011 Thundernators

Photos of MOH recipients Williams and Jenkins at the Kentucky Derby Opening Ceremonies 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Navy will christen USS Michael Murphy on May 7th, 2011 in Bath, Maine


The Navy will christen the newest guided-missile destroyer, Michael Murphy, Saturday, May 7, 2011, during a 10 a.m. EDT ceremony at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine. The new destroyer honors Navy SEAL (Sea, Air, Land) Lt. Michael P. Murphy who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan June 28, 2005.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Maureen Murphy will serve as sponsor of the ship named for her late son. In accordance with Navy tradition, she will break a bottle of champagne across the ship's bow to formally christen the ship.

Murphy led a four-man team tasked with finding a key Taliban leader in the mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan, when they came under fire from a much larger enemy force with superior tactical position. Mortally wounded while exposing himself to enemy fire, Murphy knowingly left his position of cover to get a clear signal in order to communicate with his headquarters. While being shot at repeatedly, Murphy calmly provided his unit's location and requested immediate support for his element. He returned to his cover position to continue the fight until finally succumbing to his wounds.

On October 22, 2007 the Medal of Honor presentation ceremony was held at the White House. President George W. Bush presented Murphy's Medal of Honor to his parents

Designated DDG 112, Michael Murphy, the 62nd Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. Michael Murphy will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and will contain a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare in keeping with "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower."

Cmdr. Thomas E. Shultz, a native of El Cajon, Calif., is the prospective commanding officer of the ship and will lead the crew of 279 officers and enlisted personnel. The 9,200-ton Michael Murphy is being built by General Dynamics Bath Iron Works. The ship is 509 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots. U.S. Department of Defense


On June 18, 2010, Maureen Murphy and Edwin Bard inscribed the signatures of Murphy's family on an iron plate during a dedication ceremony for Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Murphy.





See also:
MOH recipient and Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy: PHOTOS of christening of the USS Michael Murphy

In honor of the christening of the USS Michael Murphy: #1 Amazon bestseller Seal of Honor

Medal of Honor Recipient Marine 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman remembered at East Tennessee War Memorial

In honor of 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman
Medal of Honor Recipient Marine 1st Lt. Alexander (Sandy) Bonnyman, Jr., was remembered and honored at East Tennessee Veterans Memorial Association's first annual Medal of Honor Series of receptions and ceremonies on May 2, 2011.

The fundraising event sponsored by ETVMA was to help the organization maintain the War Memorial on World's Fair Park, which the ETVMA dedicated Nov. 15, 2008.

The memorial is a public plaza with a formal arrangement of granite pillars bearing the names of 6,172 names of military personnel from 35 East Tennessee counties who died in military service during conflicts since World War I.

John Romeiser, ETVMA president, said the organization plans to honor all 14 of Tennessee's Medal of Honor winners with yearly events.

1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman, Jr.
Bonnyman was killed in action at Betio, Tarawa during World War II. A combat engineer, he received the Medal of Honor, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three Bronze Stars and the World War II Victory Medal posthumously for his actions during the strategically important assault on a Japanese bombproof shelter during the Battle of Tarawa.

“On the second day of the struggle, Bonnyman, determined to effect an opening in the enemy's strongly defended defense line, led his demolitions teams in an assault on the entrance to a huge bombproof shelter which contained approximately 150 Japanese soldiers. The enemy position was about forty yards forward of the Marine lines. Bonnyman advanced his team to the mouth of the position and killed many of the defenders. His team was forced to withdraw to replenish its supply of ammunition and grenades. Bonnyman again pressed his attack and gained the top of the structure, thereby flushing more than one hundred of its occupants into the open where they were shot down. When the Japanese fought back, the lieutenant stood at the forward edge of the position and killed several attackers before he fell mortally wounded. Betio Island was declared secured on the same day.

For his actions during the battle, Bonnyman was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. The medal was formally presented to his family by Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal in 1947. His 12-year-old daughter, Frances, accepted the medal on behalf of the Bonnyman family.

According to the Defense Missing Personnel Office, Bonnyman's remains were "non-recovered." Wikipedia

In a Knoxnews.com article, Medal of Honor Recipient remembered writer Fred Brown states:

“Clay Evans, (Bonnyman’s grandson) said he had heard stories about his grandfather all of his life is a journalist in Niwot, Colo., and is writing a book about Bonnyman and his Medal of Honor. He visited Tarawa last year and showed many of the photos from his trip in his presentation before the ETVMA crowd.

His grandfather's body was never recovered, despite many efforts to find him and an estimated 200 other Marines who died on the island but have not been found.

In a ceremony after the dinner at the Foundry, Frances Evans laid a wreath at the front of the memorial in honor of her father.”

Filmmaker Steven C. Barber teamed with actor Ed Harris to make the documentary “Return to Tarawa,” about the World War II battle and Cooper's efforts to repatriate the bones of some 500 Americans still lying there.

Cooper said he hopes the mission is able to recover the remains of Alexander Bonnyman, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient who died at Tarawa, and whose remains are still there. Cooper was so touched by the fallen soldier's story that he is working on another documentary with Barber, titled “Bringing Home Bonnyman.”

 

Photo credit: Chad Greene. A wreath is laid in honor of 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman by his daughter, Frances Bonnyman Evans, third from left, and Marine Corps League Det. 924 Commandant Virgil Young, second from left, during the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial Association Medal of Honor Evening on Monday at the War Memorial in World’s Fair Park.

Monday, May 2, 2011

President Obama Awards Medal of Honor to Korean War Heroes : VIDEO and transcript

Pfc. Svehla's sister, Dorothy Mathews
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Pfc. Anthony T. Kaho'ohanohano and Pfc. Henry Svehla were posthumously awarded the Medal Honor during a ceremony, today, at the White House.

See our previous article, U.S. Army Korean War heroes PFC. Anthony Kaho’ohanohano and PFC. Henry Svehla will receive Medals of Honor May 2, 2011.

Video and transcript of the event below.




THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Please be seated. On behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House.  To our many guests from Hawaii, aloha.  And thank you, Chaplain Carver, for that wonderful invocation.

I think we can all agree this is a good day for America.  Our country has kept its commitment to see that justice is done. The world is safer; it is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden.

Today, we are reminded that, as a nation, there’s nothing we can’t do —- when we put our shoulders to the wheel, when we work together, when we remember the sense of unity that defines us as Americans.  And we’ve seen that spirit -— that patriotism -— in the crowds that have gathered, here outside the White House, at Ground Zero in New York, and across the country -- people holding candles, waving the flag, singing the National Anthem -- people proud to live in the United States of America.

And we’re reminded that we are fortunate to have Americans who dedicate their lives to protecting ours.  They volunteer.  They train.  They endure separation from their families.  They take extraordinary risks so that we can be safe.  They get the job done.  We may not always know their names.  We may not always know their stories.  But they are there, every day, on the front lines of freedom, and we are truly blessed.

I do want to acknowledge before we begin the ceremony two individuals who have been critical as part of my team who are here today:  First of all, I think somebody who will go down as one of the finest Secretaries of Defense in our history, Secretary Bob Gates, who is here.  (Applause.)  And sitting beside him, someone who served with incredible valor on behalf of this country and is now somebody who I think will go down as one of the greatest Secretaries of Veterans Affairs in our history -- Eric Shinseki.  (Applause.)

Now, I have to say that as Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder of our men and women in uniform.  That is true now, in today's wars.  It has been true in all of our wars.  And it is why we are here today.
Long ago, a poet of the First World War wrote of the sacrifice of young soldiers in war:

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Today, we are joined by two American families who six decades ago gave our nation one of their own —- Private First Class Henry Svehla and Private First Class Anthony Kaho’ohanohano.

They did not grow old.  These two soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice when they were just 19 and 21 years old.  Age did not weary them.  In the hearts of their families, they remain forever young —- loving sons, protective brothers, hometown kids who stood tall in America’s hometown -- in America’s uniform.

Today, we remember them.  And we honor them with the highest military decoration that our nation can bestow -- the Medal of Honor.  In so doing we also honor their families, who remind us that it is our extraordinary military families who also bear the heavy burden of war.

We are joined by members of Congress who are here.  We very grateful for you.  We are also joined by leaders from the Army and our Armed Forces, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and the Vice Chairman, General Jim “Hoss” Cartwright.  Where -- there they are right there.  (Applause.)

And this is not in the script, but let me just acknowledge that without the leadership of Bob Gates, Mike Mullen, Hoss Cartwright, today and yesterday would not have happened.  And their steadiness and leadership has been extraordinary.  I could not be prouder of them, and I am so grateful that they have been part of our team.  (Applause.)

I especially want to welcome some of those who fought so bravely 60 years ago —- our inspiring Korean veterans -- Korean War veterans who have made the trip here.  And I also want to acknowledge those who are welcoming two more American heroes into their ranks -- members of the Medal of Honor Society.  Thank you so much for your presence.  (Applause.)

This past November, I paid a visit to South Korea -- a visit that coincided with the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, as well as November 11th, Veterans Day.  And I was privileged to spend part of the day with our troops and with dozens of veterans of the Korean War -- members of a generation who, in the words of their memorial here in Washington, fought for “a country they never knew and a people they never met.”

It was a generation that included Private First Class Anthony Kaho’ohanohano.  Tony grew up in Hawaii, in Maui.  He learned early that we have a duty to others -- from his father, a dedicated police officer, and his mother, who devoted herself to their nine children.  Tony was a tall guy.  He loved Hawaii, swimming in the ocean, playing basketball —- sounds like my kind of guy.  (Laughter.)  His siblings remember him as the big brother -- quiet but strong -- who took care of them, stood up for them in the neighborhood, and who would treat them to ice cream.

Tony’s loyalty to family was matched by his love of country -- even though Hawaii wasn’t even a state yet.  By September 1951, the Korean War had been raging for more than a year, and Tony was part of the 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, which had been fighting for strategic hills that could shape the course of the war.

His squad was near a village called Chupa-ri when they came under a ferocious attack.  With the enemy advancing, with his men outnumbered, Tony made a decision.  He ordered his squad to fall back and seek cover.  And then Tony did something else.  He stayed behind.  Machine gun in hand, he laid down fire so his men could get to safety.  He was one American soldier, alone, against an approaching army.

When Tony was wounded in the shoulder, he fought on.  He threw grenade after grenade.  When his weapon ran out of ammunition, he grabbed another.  And when he ran out of ammo, he reached for the only thing left -- a shovel.  That’s when the enemy overran his position.  And in those final moments, the combat was hand to hand.

It was that bravery -- that courage -- of a single soldier that inspired his men to regroup, to rally and to drive the enemy back.  And when they finally reached Tony’s position, the measure of his valor became clear.  After firing so many bullets, the barrel of his machine gun was literally bent.  But Tony had stood his ground.  He had saved the lives of his men.

After his death, Tony was awarded the Army’s second highest award for valor -- the Distinguished Service Cross.  But his family felt he deserved more.  And so did Senator -- and World War II vet -- Danny Akaka.  We’re honored that Senator Akaka has joined us, as well as Mazie Hirono.  And obviously we are extraordinarily grateful that we’re joined by another Senator and a Medal of Honor recipient, Dan Inouye.  Thank you so much for your presence.  (Applause.)
  
Now, Hawaii is a small state, but the Kaho’ohanohanos are a very big family.  In fact, I went to high school with one of their cousins, Whitey.  Tell Whitey I said, “How’s it?”  (Laughter.)

This is a remarkable family.  Service defines them. Tony’s father and all six sons served in the military.  Another member of the family has served in Afghanistan.  Nearly 30 members of the family have traveled from Hawaii to be here, including Tony’s sister Elaine and brother Eugene.

For the sacrifice that your family endured, for the service that your family has rendered -- thank you so much.  Mahalo nui loa.

I would ask that you all join me in welcoming Tony’s nephew George, who worked for many years to get his uncle the honor that he deserved.  George.  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE READS THE CITATION:  The President of the United States of America, authorized by act of Congress,     March 3, 1863, has awarded, in the name of Congress, the Medal of Honor to Private First Class Anthony T. Kaho’ohanohano, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.

Private First Class Anthony T. Kaho’ohanohano, Company H, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy in the vicinity of Chupa-ri, Korea, on one September 1951.  On that date, Private First Class Kaho’ohanohano was in charge of machine-gun squads supporting the defense positioning of Company F when a numerically superior enemy force launched a fierce attack.  Because of the enemy’s overwhelming numbers, friendly troops were forced to execute a limited withdrawal.  As the men fell back, Private First Class Kaho’ohanohano ordered his squad to take up more defensible positions and provide covering fire for the withdrawing friendly force.

Although having been wounded in the soldier during the initial enemy assault, Private First Class Kaho’ohanohano gathered a supply of grenades and ammunition and returned to his original position to face the enemy alone.

As the hostile troops concentrated their strength against his emplacement and in an effort to overrun it, Private First Class Kaho’ohanohano fought fiercely and courageously, delivering deadly accurate fire into the ranks of the onrushing enemy.

When his ammunition was depleted, he engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat until he was killed.  Private First Class Kaho’ohanohano’s heroic stand so inspired his comrades that they launched a counter-attack that completely repulsed the enemy.

Upon reaching Private First Class Kaho’ohanohano’s emplacement, friendly troops discovered 11 enemy soldiers lying dead in front of the emplacement, and two inside it, killed in hand-to-hand combat.
Private First Class Kaho’ohanohano’s extraordinary heroism and selfish devotion to duty are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service, and reflect great credit upon himself, the 7th Infantry Division and the United States Army.

(The Medal is presented.)  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  About the time that Tony was inspiring his men, another young soldier was joining up with the 7th Infantry Division in Korea -- Private First Class Henry Svehla.  He grew up in New Jersey.  He loved fishing on the Jersey shore.  He was one of six kids and the youngest son, but the one who seemed to take care of everybody else.

His sister Dorothy remembers how their mom would be in the kitchen, at the end of a long day, trying to cook dinner for six kids.  Henry -- a teenager -- would walk in, grab his mother’s hand and dance her around the kitchen. “If anybody needed him,” said Dorothy, “Henry was there.”

And he was there for America, in Korea, as the war neared its third and final year.  Henry knew the dangers.  And in one of his last letters home, he wrote, “I may not return.”

That June of 1952, the heat was unbearable.  The monsoon rains and mosquitoes were relentless.  But the 7th Infantry Division pushed on -- probing enemy lines, fighting bunker by bunker, hill by hill.  And as Henry and his company neared the top of one hill, the rocky slopes seemed to explode with enemy fire.  His unit started to falter, and that’s when Henry made his move.

He stood up.  He looked ahead.  And he charged forward into a hail of bullets.  Those who were there describe how he kept firing his weapon, kept hurling grenades, and how -- even after being wounded in the face -- he refused medical attention and kept leading the charge.

That’s when an enemy grenade landed among his men.  Every human instinct, every impulse, would tell a person to turn away. But at that critical moment, Henry Svehla did the opposite.  He threw himself on that grenade.  And with his sacrifice, he saved the lives of his fellow soldiers.

Henry Svehla’s body has never been recovered.  That’s a wound in the heart of his family that has never been fully healed.  It’s also a reminder that, as a nation, we must never forget those who didn’t come home, are missing in action, who were taken prisoner of war -- and we must never stop trying to bring them back to their families.

Henry was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, but his family believed that he had earned this nation’s highest military honor.  They contacted their congressman and his staff, who made it their mission, and we thank Representative Bill Pascrell for making this day possible.

Henry’s parents and brothers did not live to see this day, but two of his sisters -- Dorothy and Sylvia -- are with us.  Dorothy, Sylvia, you remind us that behind every American who wears our nation’s uniform stands a family who serves with them. And behind every American who lays down their life for our country is a family who mourns them, and honors them, for the rest of their lives.  Every day, for nearly 60 years, you have lived the poet’s words:

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

And so I want to conclude today by inviting everyone to join me in welcoming Henry’s sister Dorothy to the stage for the presentation of the medal.  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE READS THE CITATION:  The President of the United States, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded, in the name of Congress, the Medal of Honor to Private First Class Henry Svehla, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity and the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.  Private First Class Henry Svehla distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a rifleman with F Company, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy in Pyongony, Korea, on 12 June, 1952.

That afternoon, while Private First Class Svehla and his platoon were patrolling a strategic hill to determine enemy strength and positions, they were subjected to intense enemy automatic weapons and small arms fire at the top of the hill.  Coming under heavy fire, the platoon’s attack began to falter.  Realizing the success of mission and the safety of the remaining troops were in peril, Private First Class Svehla leapt to his feet and charged the enemy positions, firing his weapon and throwing grenades as he advanced.

In the face of this courage and determination, the platoon rallied to attack with renewed vigor.  Private First Class Svehla, utterly disregarding his own safety, destroyed enemy positions and inflicted heavy casualties, when suddenly, fragments from a mortar round exploding nearby seriously wounded him in the face.  Despite his wounds, Private First Class Svehla refused medical treatment and continued to lead the attack.

When an enemy grenade landed among a group of his comrades, Private First Class Svehla, without hesitation and undoubtedly aware of extreme danger, threw himself upon the grenade.  During this action, Private First Class Svehla was mortally wounded.  Private First Class Svehla’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.
(The Medal is presented.)  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Let’s give both families a big round of applause -- (applause) -- for Anthony and for Henry.  (Applause.)

CHAPLAIN CARVER:  Please join me in prayer.

Gracious God, you’ve stirred our hearts once again today as we’ve heard the accounts of two great American soldiers, who valued the lives of those under their care more than their very own.
You’ve told us in the Holy Scripture that there’s no greater love than this.  And so, would you etch this eternal truth in our own hearts as we carry out our responsibilities to you, our families and our great nation.
Bless the young men and women of our armed services, who walk in the footsteps of both Anthony and Henry, protecting and defending our lives in freedom’s cost.  And, Lord, continue to bless, empower and give great wisdom to our President, Barack Obama, as he leads our nation in these challenging times.

And God bless America.  In your holy name, we pray.  Amen.

AUDIENCE:  Amen.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much, everyone.  Please enjoy the reception.

And again, to the families, we could not be prouder of Anthony and Henry.  We are grateful for their sacrifice.  We are grateful for your sacrifice.  You have made this country safer.  Tony and Henry stand as a model of courage and patriotism.

God bless you.  And God bless the United States of America.  Thank you, everyone.  (Applause.)

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