Iwo Jima’s Last Living MoH Recipient Still Helping Military Families

H/T War History OnLine.

More people need to follow the example set by Hershel “Woody” Williams and to do more for our veterans.

Much of what happened on the afternoon of Feb. 23, 1945, remains a blank, he told a packed audience in the museum’s Medal of Honor Theater
Much of what happened on the afternoon of Feb. 23, 1945, remains a blank, he told a packed audience in the museum’s Medal of Honor Theater

The first time Hershel “Woody” Williams heard of the Congressional Medal of Honor was when the corporal with the 21st Marine Regiment heard he was being sent back to the States to receive it.

In fact, being sent home early was more important to him at the time than being awarded the highest honor the US government can give.

As he recalls the story, Williams was called to his division general’s tent in September of 1945 after the end of World War II.

Truman congratulates Hershel Williams on being awarded the Medal of Honor, October 5, 1945
Truman congratulates Hershel Williams on being awarded the Medal of Honor, October 5, 1945

He was told that he was being sent home in order to receive the honor but all that mattered to Williams was that he was going home after two years overseas.

Williams was awarded the medal for his actions during the Battle of Iwo Jima. During the fight, he used a flamethrower to destroy seven Japanese pillbox bunkers, one at a time.

His actions occurred on February 23, 1945 – the same day photographer Joe Rosenthal took the iconic Iwo Jima flag raising photo.

Williams did not witness the raising of the flag but did see waving on top of Mount Suribachi.

On October 5, 1945, President Harry S. Truman held a group ceremony at the White House and presented Williams with his medal.

During the presentation, Truman recognized Williams’ “gallantry and intrepidity” while risking his life and going “above the call of duty.”

The citation went on to call Williams’ actions “aided vitally in enabling his company to reach its objective.”

Farm boy turns heroic flamethrower at Battle of Iwo Jima
Farm boy turns heroic flamethrower at Battle of Iwo Jima

Williams was one of 27 service members to receive the Medal of Honor for their actions at Iwo Jima – that is the most awarded for any single battle in US military history.

He is now one of only two surviving Medal of Honor recipients from World War II still alive. There were 473 total Medals of Honor awarded during WWII.

After the war, Williams has spent his life helping veterans and honoring their families.

He worked for thirty years as a counselor for the US Department of Veterans Affairs. He worked to help veterans and their families get the benefits and support they had earned.

There is a VA medical center named in honor of Williams in Huntington, West Virginia.

Williams also started the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation. This nonprofit organization establishes Gold Star Families Memorials in communities around the US.

He is now the last living Medal of Honor recipient from a battle that saw some of the fiercest fighting of World War II.
He is now the last living Medal of Honor recipient from a battle that saw some of the fiercest fighting of World War II.

He recently attended the dedication of their 60th memorial. There are 68 more planned in 45 states or territories. The purpose of the memorials is to honor the families that lost a loved one that served in the military.

Williams also speaks frequently at schools. He’s found that students are not aware of the history of the war and the significance it holds in our country’s development.

He blames the educational system for not teaching about the sacrifices that took place to preserve the freedoms that US citizens enjoy.

Williams is planning his third trip to Iwo Jima since the war. He expects that this one will be his last. As part of the trip, he is attending the dedication of a Gold Star monument in Guam.

 

Keel Laying Held for, Warship Honoring WWII Hero John Basilone

H/TWar History OnLine.

What a great way to honor the memory of Medal Of Honor recipient Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone.

Re-Buried with Full Military Honors. Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone
Re-Buried with Full Military Honors. Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone

When completed, the ship will be named the John Basilone after the World War II Marine hero.

The keel laying is considered a major event in the construction of a ship. The ship’s sponsors and a welder from Bath Iron Works authenticated the keel with welding arcs on the steel plate.

Photo courtesy of Bath Iron Works
Photo courtesy of Bath Iron Works

The keel is traditionally the part of the frame that runs from the fore to the aft of the ship and connects the stem to the stern. In older ships and in wooden ships, the keel runs the entire length of the ship and the various parts of the structure are connected to it.

In modern military ships, the parts of the ships are often created as separate modules which are then connected together in the modern version of a keel laying.

The keel laying is significant because it marks the beginning of the full production of the ship. In commercial vessels, the date of the keel laying locks in the applicable construction standards.

John Basilone awarded the Medal of Honor 1943
John Basilone awarded the Medal of Honor 1943

Military vessels have more flexibility, though, and parts of the construction of the ship may change after the keel laying.

Keel laying is of interest to people who study ships. The amount of time between the keel laying and the launch of the ship can indicate how much government support the project received, how complex the engineering and logistics of the ship building are, and how efficient the shipbuilder is.

It is important to note that the keel laying is no guarantee that construction will be completed on the ship. There are numerous examples of ships that were canceled after the keel laying or ships that were converted into other types of ships before they were launched.

Gunnery Sgt. (then-Sgt.) John Basilone, was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in the face of a savage Japanese frontal attack one night on Guadalcanal while manning a key machine gun
Gunnery Sgt. (then-Sgt.) John Basilone, was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in the face of a savage Japanese frontal attack one night on Guadalcanal while manning a key machine gun

This ship is expected to be named for Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone. Basilone served three years in the US Army in the 1930s. It wasn’t until he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in World War II that his actions would make him a legend in Marine history.

During the night of October 24, 1942, Basilone was a sergeant in command of two heavy .30-caliber machine gun sections from the First Battalion, Seventh Marines. They were deployed in Guadalcanal and given the task of defending a narrow pass at the Tenaru River.

A Japanese regiment of 3,000 troops attacked with grenades and mortar fire. The two machine gun sections fought off wave after wave of enemy soldiers until one of the crews was disabled by enemy fire.

Basilone carried 90 pounds of ammunition and weapons to the silenced gun pit over a distance of 200 yards with total disregard to his own safety. Along the way, he dodged enemy fire and killed any Japanese soldiers he met with his Colt .45 pistol.

He then continued to run between the gun emplacements, supplying ammunition and clearing gun jams.

In the heat of the battle, Basilone lost the asbestos gloves which were necessary to hold or replace the searing hot barrels of the machine guns. He barehanded the barrel without hesitation and continued to fire, killing an entire wave of enemy soldiers and burning his hands and arms as a result.

At points during the battle, Marines had to knock down the growing piles of bodies in order to be able to regain lines of fire.

By the time reinforcements arrived, only John Basilone and two other Marines were still standing. Basilone is credited with killing 38 Japanese soldiers on his own, using the machine guns, his pistol and a machete.

According to Pfc. Nash W. Phillips, who lost a hand in the battle, Basilone kept the machine guns going for three days and nights without sleep, rest or food.

John Basilone received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at Guadalcanal. He was offered the opportunity to spend the rest of the war in Washington but he declined and returned to combat.

On February 19, 1945, he was leading gunners up the beach at Iwo Jima. Basilone and four members of his platoon were killed by an enemy artillery shell. He was 28 years old.

Basilone was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Navy Cross for his actions at Iwo Jima.

New US Aircraft Carrier Named Pearl Harbor Hero Doris Miller

H/T War History OnLine.

I think this a great move and I also feel that Dorie Millers Navy Cross be upgraded to the Medal Of Honor.

Concept art of the future carrier Enterprise (DoD)
Concept art of the future carrier Enterprise (DoD)

Doris Miller was the first black recipient of the Navy Cross and has inspired generations of African American sailors who have followed him into the service.

Ten of the last fourteen US Navy aircraft carriers have been named for US Presidents, all of whom have had military experience, two for Congressmen and one for Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.

The fourteenth will be named for a man  who achieved the rank of Cook Third Class and seen by many as the first American hero of World War Two.

Doris "Dorie" Miller
Doris “Dorie” Miller

On that fateful day, December the 7th 1941, when the USA was finally dragged into the global conflagration that became World War Two, Doris Miller was up at six in the morning to serve breakfast on the USS West Virginia.

He was collecting laundry just before eight when the first of nine torpedoes launched from the Japanese Imperial Navy Aircraft Carrier Akagi struck amidships. He immediately scrambled to his battle station but discovered it had been completely destroyed.

Instead, he reported for duty at ‘Times Square’ where he was taken up onto the bridge to assist in the evacuation of the ship’s captain, Mervyn Bennion, incapacitated by a shrapnel wound to his abdomen.

In the melee it was impossible to leave the area with the captain, so he was taken to a less exposed position behind the conning tower.

Here there were two Browning 50 calibre anti-aircraft guns which Miller was ordered to help operate, despite having no formal training.

Illustration of Miller defending the fleet at Pearl Harbor
Illustration of Miller defending the fleet at Pearl Harbor

He was expected to simply load ammunition but instead he took control of the starboard gun and fired until he ran out of ammunition.

‘It wasn’t hard. I just pulled the trigger and she worked fine,’ Miller said. ‘I guess I fired her for about fifteen minutes. I think I got one of those Jap planes. They were diving pretty close to us.’

After the ammunition was gone Miller helped to move the wounded to a place of safety through the smoke and oil and water.

(Original Caption) Admiral Chester W. Nimitz pins the Navy Cross on Doris Miller, the first Negro to win the award, in ceremony aboard a warship at Pearl Harbor.
(Original Caption) Admiral Chester W. Nimitz pins the Navy Cross on Doris Miller, the first Negro to win the award, in ceremony aboard a warship at Pearl Harbor.

Sadly, Captain Bennion did not survive and the USS West Virginia eventually sank following direct hits from two armour piercing bombs and five aircraft torpedoes.

Following the attack Miller was transferred to the USS Indianapolis and in January the commendations were announced following the action on December 7th.

Miller wasn’t named in the list, but an ‘un-named negro’ was mentioned and it took until March 12th for Miller’s name to become public following a story in the Pittsburgh Courier.

His commendation arrived on April 1st, and on May 27th he was awarded the Navy Cross by Admiral Chester W Nimitz.

(Original Caption) Admiral Chester W. Nimitz pins the Navy Cross on Doris Miller, the first Negro to win the award, in ceremony aboard a warship at Pearl Harbor.
(Original Caption) Admiral Chester W. Nimitz pins the Navy Cross on Doris Miller, the first Negro to win the award, in ceremony aboard a warship at Pearl Harbor.

The citation read, ‘For distinguished devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and disregard for his own personal safety during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941,’

Despite accusations of tokenism the announcement has been broadly welcomed across the media, with an official ceremony due to take place soon in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the site of Miller’s medal-winning actions.

Acting Navy Secretary, Thomas Modly had wanted to name the carrier after a Navy hero and Miller’s name survived extensive consultations with current and former senior personnel.

 

The story goes that Mess Attendant 3rd Class Doris Miller, sometimes called Dorie, got his female name from the midwife, who was convinced that after three sons his mother was due a girl. Doris grew up on his parent’s smallholding in Waco, Texas.

Despite a reputation for hard work he dropped out of school after being held back in eighth grade and instead went on to complete a correspondence course in taxidermy.

In 1939, shortly before he turned twenty Miller decided to enlist and was sent to a Naval Training Station in Norfolk Virginia, where at six feet three inches (1.91m) and two-hundred pounds (91kg), Doris’s name didn’t cause him any problems.

Doris Miller continued to serve in the Navy until November 1943 when he was killed by a Japanese torpedo attack on escort carrier USS Liscome Bay shortly after the Battle of Makin.

 

 

Lieutenant Commander James Jonas Madison

H/T Home Of The Heros.

War / Conflict World War I
KIA-MIA-POW
Photo
Bio James Jonas Madison suffered amputation of his leg from wounds in this incident, that forced his retirement from the Navy on August 20, 1920.
Date of Birth May 20, 1884
Where Born Jersey City, New Jersey
Remarks Tiffany Cross
Action Date October 4, 1918
Battle-Incident Aboard Ship, At Sea
Citation The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Commander James Jonas Madison, United States Navy (Reserve Force), for exceptionally heroic service in a position of great responsibility as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. TICONDEROGA, when, on 4 October 1918, that vessel was attacked by an enemy submarine and was sunk after a prolonged and gallant resistance. The submarine opened fire at a range of 500 yards, the first shots taking effect on the bridge and forecastle, one of the two forward guns of the TICONDEROGA being disabled by the second shot. The fire was returned and the fight continued for nearly two hours. Lieutenant Commander Madison was severely wounded early in the fight, but caused himself to be placed in a chair on the bridge and continued to direct the fire and to maneuver the ship. When the order was finally given to abandon the sinking ship, he became unconscious from loss of blood, but was lowered into a lifeboat and was saved, with thirty-one others, out of a total number of 236 on board.
Award Authority
Award Presentation
Company Commanding Officer
Battalion
Regiment
Division U.S.S. Ticonderoga
Date of Death December 25, 1922
Cemetery Fairview Cemetery
Where Buried Fairview, New Jersey

Sergeant Louis Cukela

H/T Home Of The Heros.

War / Conflict World War I
KIA-MIA-POW
Photo
Bio Sergeant Cukela served a two-year “hitch” in the army from 1914 – 1916, then joined the Marine Corps when his army enlistment was fulfilled. He retired as a Major in 1940, but returned to service when war broke out and served until 1946. He is one of five Marines to receive TWO Medals of Honor in World War I, and one of only 19 Total Double Recipients of the award.
Date of Birth May 1, 1888
Where Born Spalato, Yugoslavia
Remarks Tiffany Cross
Action Date July 18, 1918
Battle-Incident Villers-Cotterets, France
Citation The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor (Navy Award) to Sergeant Louis Cukela (MCSN: 207), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving with the 66th Company, 5th Regiment (Marines), 2d Division, A.E.F., during action in Forest de Retz, near Viller-Cotterets, France, 18 July 1918. Sergeant Cukela advanced alone against an enemy strong point that was holding up his line. Disregarding the warnings of his comrades, he crawled out from the flank in the face of heavy fire and worked his way to the rear of the enemy position. Rushing a machine-gun emplacement, he killed or drove off the crew with his bayonet, bombed out the remaining part of the strong point with German hand grenades, and captured two machine guns and four men.
Award Authority
Award Presentation
Company 66th Rifle Company
Battalion
Regiment Fifth Regiment (Marines)
Division 2d Division, American Expeditionary Forces
Date of Death March 19, 1956
Cemetery Arlington National Cemetery
Where Buried Arlington, Virginia

First Lieutenant (Infantry) Harold Arthur Furlong

H/T Home Of The Heros.

War / Conflict World War I
KIA-MIA-POW
Photo
Bio Harold Furlong joined the Michigan National Guard after earning the Medal of Honor on active duty.
Date of Birth August 1, 1895
Where Born Pontiac, Michigan
Remarks
Action Date November 1, 1918
Battle-Incident Bantheville
Citation The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant (Infantry) Harold Arthur Furlong, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 1 November 1918, while serving with Company M, 353d Infantry, 89th Division, in action at Bantheville, France. Immediately after the opening of the attack in the Bois-de-Bantheville, when his company was held up by severe machinegun fire from the front, which killed his company commander and several soldiers, First Lieutenant Furlong moved out in advance of the line with great courage and coolness, crossing an open space several hundred yards wide. Taking up a position behind the line of the machineguns, he closed in on them, one at a time, killing a number of the enemy with his rifle, putting four machinegun nests out of action, and driving 20 German prisoners into our lines.
Award Authority War Department, General Orders No. 16 ( January 22, 1919)
Award Presentation Presented at Chaumont, France, by General John J. Pershing on February 9, 1919
Company Company M
Battalion
Regiment 353d Infantry
Division 89th Division
Date of Death July 27, 1987
Cemetery Oak Hill Cemetery
Where Buried Pontiac, Michigan

Lieutenant Commander (Dental Corps) Alexander Gordon Lyle

H/T Home Of The Heros.

War / Conflict World War I
KIA-MIA-POW
Photo
Bio
Date of Birth November 12, 1889
Where Born Gloucester, Massachusetts
Remarks
Action Date April 23, 1918
Battle-Incident French Front Lines, France
Citation The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Commander (Dental Corps) Alexander Gordon Lyle, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty while serving with the Fifth Regiment (Marines), 2d Division, American Expeditionary Forces. Under heavy shellfire, on 23 April 1918, on the French Front, Lieutenant Commander Lyle rushed to the assistance of Corporal Thomas Regan, who was seriously wounded, and administered such effective surgical aid while bombardment was still continuing, as to save the life of Corporal Regan.
Award Authority Date of Issue: December 11, 1919
Award Presentation
Company Dental Corps (Attached)
Battalion
Regiment 5th Regiment (Marines)
Division 2d Division, American Expeditionary Forces
Date of Death July 15, 1955
Cemetery Arlington National Cemetery
Where Buried Arlington, Virginia