Wednesday, November 30, 2011

U. S Marine and Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer sues former employer

MOH recipient Dakota Meyer
Former U.S. Marine and Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Dakota Meyer who was recently given the nation's highest award for valor is suing a military contractor he says ridiculed his Medal of Honor, called him mentally unstable and suggested he had a drinking problem, thereby costing him a job.

Dakota Meyer received the Medal of Honor in September, two years after the then young corporal saved 36 lives during a six-hour ambush in Afghanistan.

He's the third living recipient of the award for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. After the medal was approved, President Barack Obama waited to call until Meyer's lunch break because the 23-year-old worried about taking a call on the job.

In a defamation lawsuit filed in San Antonio, Meyer alleges that his former employer, BAE Systems OASYS Inc., ruined his chances at landing a new job by telling a prospective employer that he was a poor worker during a three-month stint earlier this year.

U.S. Marine and Medal of Honor recipient's plaques worth $10,000 stolen

Medal of Honor Recipient plaques stolen

Police in Derby, CT are investigating the theft of bronze plaques dedicated to Private First Class Frank P. Witek, a U.S. Marine who killed 16 Japanese soldiers before dying in a hellish battle on Guam during World War II.

The plaques — which were on a large memorial dedicated in Witek’s honor on May 29, 1999 — were apparently stolen sometime between late Monday and Tuesday morning, according to Bernard Williamson, a Derby resident and fellow Marine who helped convince city fathers to name the park in Witek’s honor.

Williamson said the theft was discovered Tuesday at about 10:30 a.m. by Leonard Witek, who lives nearby and often walks past the monument. Leonard Witek’s friend had informed him of the theft at about 9 a.m.

Leonard Witek can't believe someone would do this to his cousin's memorial.

"Didn't you read what it was for? What the honor is? A person got killed for this and you're taking it away?" Witek said.

Authorities said they were unsure how much the plaques are worth, but the Catholic War Veterans, a group chartered in Derby, estimates the value of the plaques as high as $10,000.

Leonard said to see someone do this to a hometown memorial for a Medal of Honor recipient is just inexcusable.

He assumed someone stole them with the intent of selling them for scrap metal. He hopes any scrap metal merchant will realize the items are stolen, given the inscription which details Witek’s extraordinary actions during World War II.

Police are asking anyone with information on the theft to come forward.

PFC Frank Witek
Private First Class, Frank Peter Witek was a United States Marine who was killed in action on August 3, 1944, in the Battle of Finegayan, Guam.

On January 20, 1942, he left for recruit training after enlisting in the United States Marine Corps. He left almost immediately for Pearl Harbor and in January 1943, his family heard from him while he was in New Zealand. From there he went to Bougainville where he fought in three major battles. Then he went to Guadalcanal for a rest. On July 21, 1944, the 3rd Marine Division invaded Guam. PFC Witek was a Browning automatic rifleman and scout behind the Japanese lines.

On September 8, 1944, his mother received a telegram from Washington informing her that her son had been killed on August 3,. According to a combat correspondent's release, he was slain at the battle of the Mount Santa Rosa road block. He had only eight cartridges left on an original 240 rounds when he was found.

On Sunday, May 20, 1945, 50,000 people, including his mother and Gen Alexander A. Vandegrift, Commandant of the Marine Corps, met in Soldier Field, Chicago, to do honor to his memory. PFC Frank Peter Witek, 23 years old, had earned the highest military award his country could give him — the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor recipient and WWII hero's medals found after 60 years

MOH "Junior" Spurrier & Gen. Simpson
Hershel “Woody” Williams, a Fairmont (WV) native who is the only living West Virginian who is a Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, plans to attend the ceremony at 2 p.m., on Friday, Dec. 2, at the For Those Who Served Museum in the Mercer County War Memorial in Princeton, (WV) as the Medal of Honor presented to Staff Sgt. James “Junior” Spurrier, returns to Mercer County (WA).

“This may be the biggest thing that’s happened all year,” Tony Whitlow said. Whitlow is president of the For Those Who Served Museum. “Everywhere I go, people tell me they are amazed. Junior’s medal has been missing since at least 1950. That’s more than 60 years.”

The long lost medals of WWII Medal of Honor recipient, Staff Sgt. James “Junior” Spurrier, — including the Medal of Honor were found by Craig Corkrean, chief of police of Granville, W.Va., who discovered the medals about two weeks ago when he was looking into a safe that contained his father’s personal effects.

“My dad died in 2006,” Corkrean said. “He had kept a safe in his closet, and after his death, I got a locksmith to open it so I could get some papers out of it. It is too big to be moved. I didn’t really look at what was inside at that time, but I left the door ajar.”

About two weeks ago, he looked inside the safe again and came across a Bronze Star, a combat infantryman’s badge and the Medal of Honor. “My grandfather served in World War II, but I already had his medal,” Corkrean said. “I brought them to work with me on Tuesday, and showed them to Sgt. Matt Allen. He’s an Army veteran and works with veterans’ issues up here. He looked on the back of the Medal of Honor and saw the name: ‘Staff Sgt. Spurrier etched on the back.

After looking online, Allen did a news story on a local television station hoping to find members of Spurrier’s family.

Tony Whitlow, president of the For Those Who Served Museum has been searching for Spurrier’s medal for several years. “We wanted to get it to include in the display we have honoring Junior,” Whitlow said. “When we dedicated the display a few years ago, we got permission from Washington, D.C., to display a replica of the medal. We made contact with a living recipient of the Medal of Honor who now lives in Florida who was going to use his contacts in the FBI to help search for his medal.”

Whitlow said he has heard several different stories about where and when the medal disappeared. “None of that matters,” he said. “I just can’t believe that someone has found Junior’s medals. I thought we never would have found this.”

Whitlow contacted Spurrier’s former wife, Kathy Cox, as well as Spurrier’s oldest surviving sister, Lee Sneed, both of whom recommended that the medal should go to the museum.

Word of the discovery traveled quickly through the military community. Ed Simmons of Bluefield called his close friend, Gary Littrell, past president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society who had been working on a search for the medal.

“The people who Gary was working with kept coming up blank,” Simmons said. “He couldn’t believe it had been found. This has been a very emotional day for all of us.”

Whitlow said the public is invited to attend the ceremony on Dec. 2.

The capture of Achain was credited to one man: S/Sgt. James J. Spurrier, of Bluefield, W. Va., a former farmer and Co. G, 134th, squad leader. When 2nd Bn. Attacked Achain on Nov. 14, 1944, the 22-year-old sergeant entered the town alone from the west while his company drove in from the east.

Spurrier shot the first three Nazis with his M-1. Then, picking up BARs, Yank and German bazookas and grenades wherever he found them, he systematically began to clean out the town. He crumbled one stronghold with bazooka shells, killed three more Nazis with a BAR, captured a garrison commander, a lieutenant and 14 men.

Another defense point was silenced when he killed its two occupants. Out of ammunition and under fire from four Nazis, Spurrier hurled a Nazi grenade into the house, killing the four Germans.

That night, the one-man army had charge of an outpost. While checking security, he heard four Germans talking in a barn. He set fire to the supply of oil and hay, captured the four as they ran out.

Spurrier killed 25 Germans, captured 20 others.

Junior J. Spurrier earned the Medal of Honor for nearly single-handedly capturing the village of Achain that day. He received the Medal of Honor on March 6, 1945 from Lt. Gen. William Hood Simpson.

Photo credit: "Task Force" Staff Sergeant Junior J. Spurrier being presented the Congressional Medal of Honor by General Simpson.

Resources: War hero’s medals found by Bill Archer, Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Friday, November 11, 2011

President Obama's speech Arlington National Cemetery Veterans Day 11-11-11 (Video)

Veterans Day Arlington National Cemetery 2011
Heralding the end of one war and the drawdown of another, President Obama observed Veterans Day on Friday by urging Americans to hire the thousands of servicemen and women coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In remarks at Arlington National Cemetery, he called it "a time when America needs all hands on deck."

In Afghanistan and Iraq, "The tide of war is receding," Obama said. "My fellow Americans, our troops are coming home."

He added that for many, "this holiday season will be a season of homecomings."

Obama spoke a day after the Senate passed his proposal to give companies tax credits for hiring jobless veterans.

"Our economy needs their talents and specialized skills," he said.

Earlier, with the aid of an honor guard, Obama placed a floral wreath on a pedestal in front of the marble Tomb of the Unknowns, then stood hand over his heart as a bugler played taps. A bell tolled and flags fluttered. Military Times

Veterans Day parade NYC 2011: Youngest Medal of Honor recipient meets oldest living recipient (PHOTO)

Photo credit: Dakota Meyer's Twitter Feed
Five Congressional Medal of Honor recipients marched in New York City's annual Veterans Day Parade.

They include Marine Corps veteran Dakota Meyer and 94-year-old Nicholas Oresko, the nation's oldest living honoree.

As the country honors the brave men and women who have answered our nation's call to duty on Veterans Day, November 11, more than 25,000 people, including 27 active military units from all branches, six Medal of Honor recipients, veterans groups, and high school bands from around the nation, marched in this year's New York City Veterans Day Parade, the largest in the nation. The annual event, presented by the United War Veterans Council, began at 10 a.m. with a memorial ceremony in Madison Square Park at 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue.  Followed speeches by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the parade steps off at 11:11 a.m. and proceeds north on Fifth Avenue to 56th Street.

Among the honorary participants in the parade are U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Dakota Meyer, the nation's most recent Medal of Honor recipient, and Nicholas Oresko, the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient.  They join four Vietnam veteran Medal of Honor recipients—Paul W. Bucha, Bruce P. Crandall, Alfred Rascon and Brian Thacker.

More photos coming soon

Photo credit: The youngest Medal of Honor recipient meets the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient Nicholas Oresko from Dakota Meyer's Twitter feed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Medal of Honor recipients featured in USAF Band America's Veterans: A Musical Tribute

America's Veterans: A Musical Tribute, is a star-studded program honoring America's bravest, will air on Public Television in November, 2011. (Click for air time dates in your area).

The program features Country music sensation Jo Dee Messina, Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, legendary jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval and "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 3 winner Sabra Johnson, accompanied by the Air Force Studio Orchestra. This one-hour patriotic special is a thrilling and memorable tribute to veterans of all services. It also tells the stories of veteran heroes:

Medal of Honor recipient, U.S. Army retired Col. Roger Donlon
Medal of Honor recipient, U.S. Marine Col. Harvey C. Barnum
Navy Cross recipient, U.S. Navy retired Rear Adm. Jeremiah A. Denton Jr.
Coast Guard Medal For Heroism recipient, Mrs. Kristin Lunkley
Medal of Honor recipient, U.S. Air Force retired Col. George Everette "Bud" Day

USAF Band Veteran Tribute - MOH recipient Retired U.S. Army Colonel Roger Donlon

USAF Band Veteran Tribute - MOH recipient Retired U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Harvey C. Barnum

USAF Band Veteran Tribute - MOH recipient Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel George "Bud" Day

Photo credit: Medal of Honor recipient, Col. Roger C. Donlon (Army), Navy Cross recipient, Rear Adm. Jeremiah Denton (Navy), Medal of Honor recipient, Col. Harvey C. Barnum (Marine Corps), Coast Guard Medal for Heroism recipient, Petty Officer Kristen Lunkley (Coast Guard) and Medal of Honor recipient, Col. George Everette "Bud" Day (Air Force). (AF Photo by SrA Christopher Ruano)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Educational Video and resources for teachers: Veterans Day 11-11-2011

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as "the Great War." Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.

“In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.” Department of Veteran Affairs

Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day--a common misunderstanding, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Memorial Day (the fourth Monday in May) honors American service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, while Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans--living or dead--but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

A patriotic ceremony honoring America's military members and Veterans is scheduled for Friday, November 11, 2011, at 11 a.m., in Arlington National Cemetery. A wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the Tomb of the Unknowns, followed by a ceremony inside the Memorial Amphitheater, adjacent to the Tomb. The event will commence with a prelude concert by the United States Army Band "Pershing's Own" at 10:00 a.m., inside the amphitheater. The ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces.

The Veterans Day National Committee also selects a number of regional sites for Veterans Day observances throughout the country. From stirring parades and ceremonies to military exhibits and tributes to distinguished veterans, these events serve as models for other communities to follow in planning their own observances.

Department of Veteran Affairs: Teachers Guide for Veterans Day 11-11-2011

A 35 page pdf from the Department of Veteran Affairs complete with student and teacher resources, kid's pack.

VA Kids

This website from the Department of Veterans Affairs offers lesson plans and a teacher’s guide for Veterans Day, and Patriotism.

Get the Veterans Day 2011 poster from The Department of Veteran Affairs

Also, don't forget to check out our section of Educational Resources about Medal of Honor recipients !

Presidential Proclamation: Veterans Day 2011 -11-11-11

Presidential Proclamation -- Veterans Day, 2011




Today, our Nation comes together to honor our veterans and commemorate the legacy of profound service and sacrifice they have upheld in pursuit of a more perfect Union. Through their steadfast defense of America's ideals, our service members have ensured our country still stands strong, our founding principles still shine, and nations around the world know the blessings of freedom. As we offer our sincere appreciation and respect to our veterans, to their families, to those who are still in harm's way, and to those we have laid to rest, let us rededicate ourselves to serving them as well as they have served the United States of America.

Our men and women in uniform are bearers of a proud military tradition that has been dutifully passed forward -- from generation to generation -- for more than two centuries. In times of war and peace alike, our veterans have served with courage and distinction in the face of tremendous adversity, demonstrating an unfaltering commitment to America and our people. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the country they loved. The selflessness of our service members is unmatched, and they remind us that there are few things more fundamentally American than doing our utmost to make a difference in the lives of others.

Just as our veterans stood watch on freedom's frontier, so have they safeguarded the prosperity of our Nation in our neighborhoods, our businesses, and our homes. As teachers and engineers, doctors and parents, these patriots have made contributions to civilian life that serve as a testament to their dedication to the welfare of our country. We owe them a debt of honor, and it is our moral obligation to ensure they receive our support for as long as they live as proud veterans of the United States Armed Forces. This year, as our troops in Iraq complete their mission, we will honor them and all who serve by working tirelessly to give them the care, the benefits, and the opportunities they have earned.

On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to our veterans, to the fallen, and to their families. To honor their contributions to our Nation, let us strive with renewed determination to keep the promises we have made to all who have answered our country's call. As we fulfill our obligations to them, we keep faith with the patriots who have risked their lives to preserve our Union, and with the ideals of service and sacrifice upon which our Republic was founded.

With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our service members have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor our Nation's veterans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2011, as Veterans Day. I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and private prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


Medal of Honor recipients to visit Pritzker Military Library 11-19-2011

To celebrate the release of the third edition of Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty, two of the Medal of Honor recipients profiled in the book will visit the Pritzker Military Library.

In 1966, Jack Jacobs finished school at Rutgers and, with plans to attend law school in the future, needed a steady paycheck to support his wife and young daughter. Two years later, 1st Lt. Jacobs was an adviser to a South Vietnamese infantry battalion in the Mekong Delta. They were searching for a group of Vietcong when the tables were suddenly, violently turned; in a devastating firestorm, the battalion’s commander was badly wounded, and their defenses were thrown into chaos. Although badly hurt as well and barely able to see, Jacobs took command and withdrew the unit to safety. He returned to the scene of the attack several times, as intense fire continued around him, to rescue the wounded and perform first aid. That day, he saved the lives of thirteen soldiers and another adviser, and stopped only when he was no longer capable of moving; the extremity of his wounds was such that he would never regain his senses of taste or smell.

Jack Jacobs
Jacobs received the Medal of Honor in 1969. After finishing graduate school, he returned to Vietnam for another tour of duty, during which he walked away unscathed from a helicopter crash. Over the course of more than twenty years of service, Jacobs also earned three Bronze Stars and two Silver Stars. Today, he is an analyst for NBC/MSNBC News. The title of his Colby Award-winning memoir, If Not Now, When?, comes from a line of Jewish philosophy that ran through his mind on that fateful day in 1968.

On December 15th, 1967, Illinois native Allen J. Lynch and the rest of his platoon were on their way back for a well-deserved rest when they were called in to support another company that had been outnumbered by an enemy force. Under intense fire, Lynch carried three wounded soldiers to safety, and single-handedly defended them against the advancing enemy force for several hours.

Allen J. Lynch
His quick-thinking and disregard for his own safety were vital in saving those lives, but his fight on behalf of his fellow soldiers did not end on the battlefield. After leaving active duty, Lynch worked for several years in the Veterans Administration, advocating for increased benefits for disabled veterans, and served most recently as chief of the Veterans Rights Bureau for the Illinois Attorney General's Office. Now retired, he continues that commitment as a volunteer with the Vietnam Veterans of America and does ministry work with the Lake County Jail.

For more details and reservations visit the Pritzker Military Library