Refusing the Navy Cross, Chaplain O’Callahan was Forced to Accept the Medal of Honor

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. Chaplin Joseph Timothy O’Callahan Captian United States Navy May 14, 1905-March 18, 1964.

World War Two saw acts of inexplicable gallantry which have lived on in posterity through the chapters of military history. Whereas there are likely acts of unimaginable bravery that have been lost to history as that generation has passed, those who have been awarded the nation’s highest military honor have had a bookmark placed next to their name.

Their stories will not be lost and future generations will be able to measure the stature of the men who answered the call when their nation needed them most. Were it not for a little extra pressure from the President of the United States, the actions of Medal of Honor recipient and Chaplain Joseph T. O’Callahan may very well have been lost to time as well.

O’Callahan (right) with President Harry S. Truman (center) and other Medal of Honor recipients at their medal presentation ceremony in 1946.

Originally awarded the Navy Cross for heroism aboard the USS Franklin as it burned around him, O’Callahan publicly refused to accept the honor. However, when the public got wind that O’Callahan was perhaps only awarded the Navy Cross to cover up poor leadership by the ship’s Captain and fellow Navy Cross recipient the President got involved.

In 1946, Chaplain Joseph T. O’Callahan was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman whether he wanted it or not. What is beyond contestation is that the man’s actions were certainly worthy of the nation’s highest military honor.

Born with a Heart to Serve

Joseph T. O’Callahan was born in 1905 in Boston, Massachusetts. It didn’t take long for O’Callahan to decide that a life of service was his calling and in 1922 he joined the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) after graduating from high school. He would then go on to undergo years of his required training that would eventually see him given the position of Professor of Philosophy at Weston Jesuit School of Theology by 1938.

Chaplain Joseph O’Callahan ministers to an injured man aboard USS Franklin, 1945.

He would carry on to serve at the College of the Holy Cross. One of his students, John V. Power, would himself go on to receive the Medal of Honor.

As the clouds of war began to gather over the world, O’Callahan would find a calling in military service. In August of 1940, he was appointed a Lieutenant J.G. in the U.S. Navy Reserve Chaplain Corps. As war broke out and the needs for men of faith increased, O’Callahan’s actions and abilities would see him promoted to Commander before the war was out.

However, it was an assignment in March of 1945 aboard the USS Franklin that would earn him his unique place in military history.

The Franklin approaching New York, 26 April 1945.

On March 2, 1945, O’Callahan reported for duty on a ship that just 17 days later would find itself engulfed in flames. On March 19, 1945, the USS Franklin was conducting operations near Kobe, Japan. The ship’s Captain, Leslie E. Gehres, would receive not only a Navy Cross for the action to come but a hefty dose of criticism for the predicament his men found themselves in.

After seeing his men called to battle stations 12 times in six hours, Gehres downgraded the ship’s alert status to let his men eat and sleep despite their close proximity to Japan. It was a decision that in hindsight would prove questionable.

Captain Leslie E. Gehres

Fire From Above

After the downgrade, a single Japanese aircraft emerged through the clouds and made a devastating low level run over the ship. Two semi-armor piercing bombs found their mark and set into motion the events that would see O’Callahan receive his honor.

The hanger deck immediately became wrought with explosions from ammunition, gas tanks, and planes. Filled with smoke and with men laid out across the deck, the ship was suffering a chain reaction of continued explosions.

Attack on carrier USS Franklin 19 March 1945

O’Callahan himself was wounded in the initial explosion and yet clawed his way through the smoke to serve the men. Moving about the deck through one explosion after another, O’Callahan offered aid to the wounded and administered the last rites to the dying.

However, to save more of them he would have to get into the action himself. O’Callahan could then be seen leading men into the flames to put out fires on the magazines and personally ferry hot bombs and shells off the ship before they exploded.

The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV-13) afire and listing after a Japanese air attack, off the coast of Japan, 19 March 1945.

After hours of heroic actions from many of the men on board that day, the USS Franklin was somehow saved. However, 807 men had been killed and more than 487 wounded. For actions to save the USS Franklin, O’Callahan, along with 11 other men to include the ship’s Captain, were awarded the Navy Cross. O’Callahan would then become the only Navy Cross recipient of World War Two to refuse the honor.

A Scandal to Explore

As news of the USS Franklin broke and after subsequent investigations after the war, the public began to learn of the details of one of the most devastating attacks on a US carrier.

Captain Gehres came under intense scrutiny for his leadership and it was believed that Chaplain O’Callahan’s actions warranted the Medal of Honor but was kept at a Navy Cross so as not to embarrass the Captain. Word got back to President Truman and he personally intervened to right the wrong.

In February of 1946, the man who refused the Navy Cross was now receiving the Medal of Honor from President Truman. One of only nine Chaplains to be awarded the nation’s highest military honor in history, Joseph T. O’Callahan got his unique place in military history – whether he wanted it or not.

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Too Young or Too Old… To Own a Gun?

H/T AmmoLand.

Who gets to decide who is too young or too old to own a gun?

Fairfax, VA – -(Ammoland.com)- A common theme among anti-gun extremists is what we often refer to as the “Goldilocks” approach to limiting access to firearms by law-abiding citizens.  Rather than admit that the ultimate goal is to disarm all Americans, those opposed to the Second Amendment create fictional arguments about why certain types of firearms, ammunition, or even accessories should be eliminated.

In the 70s, the goal was to ban handguns.  Since they could be carried concealed for personal protection, they were seen as being “too small.”  That argument fell out of fashion as more and more states passed Right-to-Carry laws that recognized the right to personal protection.

One subset of the anti-handgun hysteria included inexpensive handguns (so-called “Saturday Night Specials”), which were deemed “too cheap.”  When NRA and others pointed out this was an obvious attempt to disarm lower income citizens (who are often at higher risk to being victims of violent crime), the term “Saturday Night Special” faded from the gun-ban lexicon.

Another subset of the attack on handguns came with the introduction of Glocks, and other handguns that used polymers as part of their construction.  These were falsely claimed to be able to pass through metal detectors and x-ray machines undetected, and, thus, “too invisible” to be screened where firearm are prohibited (think airports).  Of course, this canard was quickly dispelled.

Ammunition has been attacked as “too lethal,” “too untraceable,” “too bad for the environment (lead),” “too inexpensive (so tax it),” and any number of other “toos.”

Rifles have been called “too powerful,” “too modifiable,” “too accurate,” “too similar to actual military arms,” and the list goes on.

Boiled down to its essence, after wading through myriad “too this” and “too that” arguments, the just-right “Goldilocks” of guns would likely be a break action .22 rifle, although finding acceptable lead-free ammunition might be a bit difficult.  But anti-gun extremists can still claim they don’t want to ban “all” guns.

The latest approach to “Goldilocks-style Gun Control,” though, seems to be focusing less on what you can own, and focusing more on who can own firearms.  And we don’t mean people with criminal records.

After the horrific tragedy that took place in Parkland, Florida, this year, age became the new battle cry for those seeking to limit gun ownership.  Rather than focusing on the obvious failures at various levels of government to identify the copious warning signs exhibited by the alleged perpetrator, extremists decided to focus on the fact that law-abiding citizens are able to exercise their rights protected under the Second Amendment when they reach the age of 18.  Although responsible young adults regularly leave home, join the military, get married, and begin voting at this age, the anti-gun community has decided this age is too young for one to exercise the right of gun ownership.

Eighteen-year-olds have not been prohibited from purchasing and possessing rifles and shotguns at the federal level, and in the vast majority of states, since the founding of our country.  Nonetheless, because of the violent acts of one individual, we have seen an onslaught of legislation throughout the country that seeks to raise the minimum age to purchase and/or possess rifles and shotguns from 18 to 21.  Because common sense has taken a back seat to raw emotionalism in today’s gun control debate, some of these efforts have seen success.

But being deemed “too young” to own firearms isn’t the only threat to face the pro-Second Amendment community.  There may be a new approach beginning to form.  You might soon be deemed “too old.”

An article by JoNel Aleccia and Melissa Bailey, published by Kaiser Health News (KHN) and PBS NewsHour, has begun making the rounds with a number of media outlets, such as CNN, and it discusses the issue of gun owners who may be suffering from dementia.  Sort of.

Dementia can be a devastating disorder.  It is a category of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, that affects the brain, and its impact on individuals varies widely.  Mild forms can lead to simple cognitive declines, such as slight memory loss, that are little different than one would experience during the normal aging process.  More severe and advanced cases of dementia, on the other hand, can lead to dramatic changes in those afflicted that would require professional health care, and perhaps even commitment to a dedicate healthcare facility.

Of course, discussing the problem of dementia is a conversation worthy of having.  Unfortunately, the KHN/PBS article is riddled with language that sounds like it came straight from one of the gun-ban groups being funded by anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg.  We can only presume it is likely to be used to promote anti-gun policies that focus on prohibition, and ignore reason and constitutional considerations.

The tone of the article (a lengthy one) is set early, when it inaccurately describes our nation with the all-too-commonly heard inflammatory claim that, today, “America copes with an epidemic of gun violence….”  In fact, America’s murder rate has fallen to a near all-time low.  If anything, we have been doing remarkably well since the violent crime peak in the early 90s, with violent crime and murder rates decreasing by about half.

But repeating anti-gun rhetoric is just the start.

Aleccia and Bailey go on to refer to an analysis of Washington state survey data that claims approximately 54,000 residents who are 65 and older have “some cognitive decline” as well as a firearm in the home.  Is this really important to note?  No, because two key facts are ignored.

First, cognitive decline is common among the elderly, and can manifest itself as simply slight memory loss.  It does not mean dementia is present.  In fact, the epidemiologist who analyzed the survey data even “cautions that the answers are self-reported and that people who’ve actually been diagnosed with dementia likely are unable to respond to the survey.”  So now, rather than dementia being the concern, it’s simply old age.

Second, the story refers to these people (again, likely just elderly folks with no known mental disorder) having “access to weapons,” as if that is a concern.  However, they may not even have access.  The survey apparently asked if there was a firearm in the home.  The person surveyed could very well be living in a home that has firearms in it, but not have access to the firearm.  A son or daughter who takes in a parent, for example, could be the person who owns the firearm in the home, and may not allow others access to it.

The authors also seem to lament, “Only five states have laws allowing families to petition a court to temporarily seize weapons from people who exhibit dangerous behavior.”  These are the so-called “red flag” or “extreme risk protection order” laws that are being promoted nationwide.  They generally lack sufficient due process protections necessary for deprivation of a constitutional right and are often rife for abuse.

Furthermore, dementia is not a “temporary” disease.  It has no cure.  If an individual is exhibiting “dangerous behavior,” it is, in all likelihood, going to continue, and probably increase.  All states have a process to seek to have someone’s competency adjudicated or be involuntarily committed, which could result in a more permanent firearm prohibition. And, these laws generally protect due process by allowing individuals to put on their own defense and challenge the allegation before having their rights infringed by the state.

To make matters worse, Aleccia and Bailey also spoke with long-time anti-gun researcher Garen Wintemute, as part of their parroting of the false argument that NRA has stopped “public health research into the effects of gun violence.”  Wintemute is the director of the anti-gun University of California Firearm Violence Research Center, so it is clear that there is research going on.

Ultimately, while the subject of treatment for dementia patients is a very serious issue that deserves more scientific inquiry, using such a terrible disease as a pretext to preemptively disarm elderly Americans is unacceptable.  As we have said many times before, NRA supports any reasonable steps to fix America’s broken mental health system. But if the debate is going to move towards one more Goldilocks argument suggesting that just getting “too old” is reason enough to confiscate firearms, as this article might suggest, then that is a debate we will not bear.

National Rifle Association Institute For Legislative Action (NRA-ILA)

About:
Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Visit: www.nra.org

Firing His M16 Out of His Cessna Bird Dog in Vietnam, Pilot Hilliard Wilbanks Earned the Medal of Honor

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. Captain Hilliard Almond Wilbanks July 26, 1933 – February 24, 1967.

Air superiority is often a factor in combat that can lead to a decisive victory. However, when you are flying a Cessna 0-1 Bird Dog and firing your M16 out of the side window on a strafing run, you can be certain things are not going according to plan.

Captain Hilliard Wilbanks was flying over the jungles of Vietnam on a reconnaissance mission for an ARVN Ranger Battalion when he discovered they were walking right into a well-placed ambush.

Wilbanks began to drop a barrage of white phosphorus rockets to mark the enemy positions. Realizing they had been compromised, the Viet Cong began to charge the heavily outnumbered Rangers.

Vietnamese Ranger and an HMM-263 CH-46D.

Now out of rockets and seeing that help would arrive too late for the Rangers below, Hilliard began flying low passes over the enemy as he strafed them with his M16 out of the plane’s side window. Now the subject of enemy fire, Wilbanks’ Cessna was hit, sending him crashing to the ground.

Mortally wounded, Wilbanks was relieved to hear the sound of F-4s screaming overhead, indicating he had delayed the enemy long enough. Wilbanks would breathe his last breath on the evacuation helicopter, but not without recognition of the nation’s highest military honor.

Born to Fly and Fight

0-1 Bird Dog of the 20th TASS taking off from La Vang Airfield, Quang Tri RVN, August 1967. By Sciacchitano / CC BY-SA 3.0

Hilliard Wilbanks was born in 1933 in Cornelia, Georgia. Not quite old enough to join the fight during World War Two, Wilbanks would watch the action from afar as a child and wait for the day he too could serve.

As soon as he was able, at the age of 17, Wilbanks enlisted in the newly minted Air Force in 1950. The nation was once again engaged in combat, but Wilbanks’ experience in combat would have to wait. He initially served as an air policeman with the Strategic Air Command.

Missing out on the action in Korea, Wilbanks then pursued a lifelong dream to fly by joining the aviation cadet program. After becoming a commissioned officer in 1955, Wilbanks would soon find himself over the skies of Vietnam in the 1960s, getting his first taste of action.

A U.S. Air Force Cessna O-1A Bird Dog (s/n 51-12824) in flight over Vietnam.

In 1966, Wilbanks was serving as a forward air controller with the 21st Tactical Air Support Squadron. He would fly the Cessna 0-1E Bird Dog which was used to provide close air support and reconnaissance for ground troops. At a top speed of only 105 mph, it was easy for the Cessna to find itself exposed and right in the thick of the fight.

As of early 1967, Wilbanks had distinguished himself throughout 487 combat missions and had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross along with 17 Air Medals. However, it would be the afternoon on February 24th that year that would set him apart and into the halls of military history.

A U.S. Army Cessna O-1A Bird Dog (s/n 51-12711) in flight.

Flying through the skies near Da Lat, South Vietnam, Wilbanks noticed a group of ARVN Rangers walking into an ambush and headed for a really bad day. Doing his duty, Wilbanks invited a bad day upon himself to give the Rangers a fighting chance.

Help from the Skies Above

During his reconnaissance for the ARVN Rangers below, Wilbanks noticed large groups of Viet Cong concentrated on two hilltops with the small group of Rangers headed right towards them. Making matters worse, the Rangers were about to wade through a tea plantation that would offer little to know cover. As far as ambushes go, this one was set up to devastate any who would walk through it.

US F-4 Phantoms over South Vietnam.

Without hesitation, Wilbanks took his Cessna down to the jungle as he radioed the Rangers a warning. Upon seeing the Cessna the Viet Cong realized they had been compromised and opened up with mortars and automatic weapons.

Despite the heavy fire flying through the sky, Wilbanks continued to make multiple passes over the enemy as he fired his white phosphorus rockets to mark the positions. However, the Viet Cong were experienced fighters and they knew what was coming next.

ARVN Rangers

Attempting to complete the ambush before air support and reinforcements arrived, the Viet Cong charged down the hill at the Rangers. Realizing that the Viet Cong would overwhelm the Rangers before additional support arrived, Wilbanks flew in to fire the last of his rockets at the enemy. Only providing a temporary reprieve, the Viet Cong resumed the charge when Wilbanks was out of rockets.

Fighting Until the Bitter End

Undeterred by his lack of rockets, Wilbanks continued the fight. With only an M16 at his side, he began to fly low passes just 100 feet over the enemy as he fired his M16 out of the side window. Successfully halting and distracting the enemy, it was now Wilbanks who became the target of their hostilities.

Medal of Honor exhibit in Kettering Hall at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Wilbanks continued to make multiple passes, firing down upon the enemy as they began to pour fire back at him. On his final pass, Wilbanks was severely wounded, sending his Cessna down into the jungle below.

Initially surviving the crash, Wilbanks was pulled from the wreckage by one of the Rangers he had fought so hard to save. A short time later reinforcements arrived, and the sound of F-4s strafing the enemy in his stead could be heard overhead.

Hilliard Wilbanks would make his way into a Medevac helicopter but would pass away on his route to the hospital. Captain Hilliard Wilbanks was just two months from returning home when he displayed his act of gallantry. For his actions that day, Captain Wilbanks would receive the Medal of Honor and the eternal gratitude of every Ranger who watched him fight until the bitter end that day.

Dershowitz: Woman Wanted to ‘Stab Me Through the Heart’ for Defense of Trump

H/T Breitbart.com.

The unhinged left wants everyone to believe that only Conservatives are violent,    yet they make the threats of and carry on violence.

https://www.breitbart.com/video/2018/07/06/dershowitz-woman-wanted-to-stab-me-through-the-heart-for-defense-of-trump/

Thursday on Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz followed up on a Boston Globe story laying out how he had fallen out of favor with some of his contemporaries in places like Martha’s Vineyard as a result of his defense of President Donald Trump.

Dershowitz offered a few examples for host Tucker Carlson.

“People talk about parties as if that is something serious — I don’t care about parties,” he said. “I’m invited to too many. But at a party this week on Martha’s Vineyard, a woman said if Dershowitz were here tonight, I’d stab him through the heart. This is a Martha’s Vineyard woman saying she would stab me through the heart. Another Martha’s Vineyarder, a professor at MIT, Professor Nicholas Negroponte, who has previously said he wished there were no New York Times and that people only got the news that represented their own personal worldview so that they wouldn’t hear opposing points of view — same guy who said soon there will be a pill you can swallow and you’ll learn French overnight so you won’t have to go through the process of learning French — he’s leading the charge to get people to shun me in every way and to engage with me.”

Dershowitz explained that it was a tactic that was backfiring and instead helping President Donald Trump.

“They did this to hurt me, but the end result is they’re helping Donald Trump,” he said. “They’re strengthening Donald Trump’s hands. The people that shun me are giving Donald Trump and his base an argument about what the radicals do.”

Tough Gun Laws Do Nothing To Prevent Chicago PD Finding 35 Illegal Guns

H/T Bearing Arms.

This has to be a mistake after all Chicago has very draconian gun laws and these illegal guns just could not be in Chicago.

Illinois has some pretty tough gun laws. Just to buy a gun, you have to get a special identification card. Hell, you have to renew it every year just to keep your gun. That must make it pretty hard for people to get a gun in the Land of Lincoln, right.

Well, not so much.

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson announced Wednesday that officers had recovered 35 illegal guns in the first 24 hours of the extended Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The seizures greatly outpaced the department’s normal rate of about one gun recovery per hour.

“Thirty-five guns in one night, that’s ridiculous,” Johnson said at a press briefing on the lakefront downtown Wednesday afternoon. “That just shows you the amount of illegal guns out here on the streets of Chicago, which is why we have police officer-involved shootings, innocent citizens being shot. It just highlights why we just have to, as a society, pass common sense gun legislation.”

Johnson said that 20 people were arrested overnight for alleged illegal gun possession.

I’m sorry, but Johnson simply must be wrong.

I mean, we’ve been assured over and over that gun control works. As such, it would seem that it’s not humanly possible that 35 illegal firearms could be seized in just one night. For that matter, the department’s usual rate of one gun per hour seems impossible as well.

“It happens because of lax gun laws in surrounding states,” some anti-gun zealot will claim.

Of course, my counter to that is if the problem is guns, why aren’t the crime rates higher in these surrounding states? Take a look at places like Indiana, a state that gets the blame for Chicago’s gun problems. You know what you’ll find? Less crime than Chicago.

Chicago doesn’t have a gun problem. They have a criminal problem. Whatever the mechanism is that creates criminals in urban centers, Chicago has it in spades. They’re chock full of whatever it is, and instead of looking at what that might be, they keep focusing on the tool being used, not the tools using them.

The truth is, the city has so many illegal guns not because of gun laws in other states, but because they have a culture that serves as a breeding ground for people who will acquire illegal guns. Plain and simple.

Remove that, and suddenly the crime rate will plummet.

In fairness, if that happens, they’ll become convinced that suddenly their gun control measures worked and they will start pushing even harder for that, so I suppose it’s good in a way that they’re too dense to address the real problem. If they did, they’d start using that as proof that gun control works, something they don’t have right now.

Not that there’s any hope in hell of anyone in Chicago of doing anything other than screaming more about guns and freaking out about objects. That’s easy. That’s a way to look like you’re doing something right now without actually having to do anything. Trying to find and deal with whatever cultural elements are at play in cities like Chicago takes time and effort.

Florida Girl Treed by Alligator, Saved by a Shot From an AR-15 Rifle

H/T The Truth About Guns.

The dreaded black gun does have a place in civilian life and does save lives.

11-Foot-Alligator-shot-in-Texas-in-2009-770-754x513
courtesy victoriaadvocate.com

Last week, a 15-year-old girl, Jordan Broderick, was floating on a raft in a creek in the Ocala National Forest north of Orlando, Florida when an alligator approached her. She quickly climbed a nearby tree to escape the critter.

From sunsentinel.com:

“My daughter’s stuck in a frickin’ tree and there’s gators surrounding her!” the teenager’s mother said frantically to a 911 operator. “Oh my God! Please hurry! Please hurry!”

Jordan was floating on a raft in the creek near Forest Service Road near Alexander Springs park in the Ocala National Forest, 55 miles north of downtown Orlando, when the alligator quickly approached her, authorities said.

That’s when the girl grabbed a large branch hanging over the water and climbed into the tree, according to the report. The alligator then waited in the water at the base of the tree underneath the girl hanging from the branch.

When Deputy Mitch Blackmon arrived, he found the girl in the tree screaming that she was tired from hanging on to the branch, the report said.

“My presence failed to scare the alligator away, and it began encroaching on my area at which time I fired one single 223 roundfrom my Bushmaster AR15 killing the alligator,” Blackmon wrote in his report.

Many of those who want a disarmed population claim there is no civilian purpose for AR-15-style rifles. This incident shows that claim is foolish. Modern sporting rifles, or sport utility rifles, are designed to be easy to use, accurate, and adequately powerful, without excessive recoil. They work equally well for deputies, police, or armed citizens. The rifle offers more accuracy, range, and magazine capacity than the commonly available shotgun, with less recoil.

A shotgun might have worked in this case. But the rifle showed how versatile a tool it is.

The photo above shows how big an 11-foot alligator is. One that size is about 800 pounds of very potent predator. Jordan Broderick was able to hold onto that branch for almost an hour waiting for the deputy to arrive. Not everyone will have that kind of time or ability. This is why we carry.

 

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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