Medal of Honor Recipient: Navy LT(jg) Tom Hudner

 

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On this date 68 years ago, December 4, 1950, a young US Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade risked his life to save a fellow naval aviator.

LT(jg) Tom Hudner and ENS Jesse Brown were both providing air support for US Marines on the ground in Korea.  Here is their story, as told by writer and historian Tara Ross:

By Tara Ross

During this week in 1950, Lt. (J.G.) Thomas Hudner crash lands in Korea. He was trying to save the life of Ensign Jesse Brown, the first black aviator in the U.S. Navy.

Not that Tom thought of Jesse that way. When Tom looked at Jesse, he didn’t see “the first black aviator.” He simply saw a friend. And he couldn’t leave his friend to die.

The Korean War was then waging, and Tom and Jesse were both assigned to USS Leyte. Their job was to provide air support for U.S. Marines on the ground. Unfortunately, things took a bad turn on December 4, 1950.

Jesse’s plane had taken a mortal hit. He had to land somewhere—and fast. Tom stayed on Jesse’s wing the whole way down, helping him through check lists. Then he watched his friend’s crash landing with dread, searching for signs of life.

What a relief when he saw Jesse waving from the wreckage! And what confusion when Jesse didn’t get out of the plane. What was wrong? Wisps of smoke began to waft from the plane, providing even more cause for worry.

“When I realized that Jesse’s airplane may burst into flame before [a helicopter] could get there,” Tom later said, “I made a decision to make a wheels-up landing, crash close enough to his airplane and pull him out of the cockpit and wait for the helicopter to come.”

Think about that. Tom had just witnessed a crash landing in terrible conditions. The weather was unbelievably cold, hovering around 0 degrees. Tom had been afraid that Jesse wouldn’t survive—but now he was determined to replicate the same nearly impossible feat.

“The ground seemed to rush at me as I hit,” Tom later reported, “and then I was out of control, snowplowing across the field and hoping I was going to end up somewhere close to Jesse.”

He’d done it. His back hurt so much that he thought he’d broken something, but he got out of his mangled plane, working through deep snow to find his friend.

The situation was serious. Jesse was alive, but his knee was trapped. Flames were sputtering, threatening to engulf the plane. Tom shoved snow on the fire to contain it. He pulled and pulled on Jesse, but to no avail. He wrapped Jesse’s hands and feet to ward off freezing temperatures. Both men waited, together, for a rescue helicopter.

Jesse was calm and composed. “When we were on the ground, he was calming me down,” Tom later told Daisy, Jesse’s widow, “when I should have been the one calming him down.”

Jesse seemed to be slipping in and out of consciousness. Finally, he revived enough to say: “Just tell Daisy how much I love her.”

After 40 long minutes, the helicopter finally arrived. Tom got an ax and swung it at Jesse’s plane repeatedly, but to no avail. Night was falling. The helicopter pilot gave Tom a choice: stay or go?

Tom still wavered. It was suicide to stay overnight in those freezing temperatures. He was prepared to stay if Jesse were alive, but Jesse had been unresponsive for a while.

“I made the decision to go with Charlie,” Tom later said. “I told Jesse we were going back to get equipment . . . I don’t know if he heard me. I don’t know if he was alive at the time.”

Tom felt sure that he would be court-martialed! He wasn’t supposed to crash land, even to save a fellow pilot. What a surprise when he was recommended for the Medal of Honor instead?

“There has been no finer act of unselfish heroism in military history,” the captain of Tom’s aircraft carrier would say.

Captain Thomas Hudner passed away about a year ago, at the age of 93. RIP, sir.

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Editor’s Note:

Tara Ross is a mother, wife, writer, and retired lawyer. She is the author of The Indispensable Electoral College: How the Founders’ Plan Saves Our Country from Mob Rule,Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College, co-author of Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State (with Joseph C. Smith, Jr.), & We Elect A President: The Story of our Electoral College. She is a constitutionalist, but with a definite libertarian streak! 


 

John S. McCain III: US Senator, US Naval Aviator, and Vietnam Prisoner of War dies at 81

 

 

John S. McCain III, senior Republican Senator from Arizona, passed away today from brain cancer. He was 81 years old.

Just yesterday, his family and he announced he had decided to cease taking his medications for the cancer. He must have known then that the end was near.

Senator McCain came from a line of distinguished naval officers. His father and his grandfather were both Admirals in the US Navy. Senator McCain also served in the Navy, flying A-1 Skyraiders on the aircraft carriers USS INTREPID (CV 11) and USS ENTERPRISE (CV 6). Later, he requested a combat assignment and flew A-4 Skyhawks aboard the USS FORRESTAL (CV 59) and USS ORISKANY (CV 34). It was while serving in FORRESTAL that his aircraft was involved in a shipboard fire that resulted in 134 Sailors dying in the fire. He was transferred to ORISKANY soon afterward. It was on October 26, 1967, while flying combat missions as a Lieutenant Commander from ORISKANY that he was shot down over Vietnam, captured, and held as a Prisoner of War. He was ultimately released from imprisonment in North Vietnam after five and a half years on March 14, 1973. He retired from the United States Navy on April 1, 1981, at the rank of Captain after 22 years of service.

Senator McCain was elected to Congress as a Republican US Representative from Arizona in 1983. Senator McCain advanced to serving in the US Senate in January, 1987, after his election in November, 1986. He frequently referred to himself as a “maverick Republican” during his time in the Senate.

He published his memoir, Faith of My Fathers, in August, 1999. He ran against Texas Governor George W. Bush in the Republican primaries, losing to Governor Bush who would go on to win the presidency in 2000. Senator McCain ran again in 2008, as the Republican standard bearer, but lost the presidency to President Barack Obama.

Senator McCain served six terms as the Republican Senator from Arizona. He last cast a vote in the US Senate in December, 2017, after which, he returned to Arizona to continue treatment for brain cancer.

He and his family announced yesterday that he would no longer undergo cancer treatment. He died today, August 25, 2018, at 4:28 p.m. local time, surrounded by his wife, Cindy (Hensley) McCain, and his family.

Rest In Peace, Shipmate. We have the Watch.

 

 

 

Happy birthday, Chief Petty Officers

This Sunday, April 1, 2018, US Navy Chief Petty Officers throughout the world will pause to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the establishment of the Chief Petty Officer rate.

Chief Petty Officers trace their heritage to April 1, 1893, and since that date, have been the “backbone of the Navy” and at the forefront of Navy Deckplate Leadership. Since that date, the tradition has been to tell those seeking knowledge, to “Go Ask the Chief.”

Happy birthday to all US Navy Chief Petty Officers everywhere.

 

Always Remember, that Day in December!

December 7, 1941 photo

Today, December 7, 2015, is the 74th anniversary of that “…day that will live forever in infamy” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt described it.  The below was written by my good friend, Jeff Morley.  He has described that day and its remembrances far better than I could.  His essay is published here with his permission.

By Jeff Morley, Guest Contributor

Today some 74 years ago in history, the USA was dragged kicking and screaming into war. Before then, we told the Axis powers to leave us alone and Churchill told us he needed our help. If the Axis Powers had paid attention to what we’d told them, England, France, and practically all of Western Europe with a good portion of Eastern Europe along with Africa would have had a drastically different history, a much darker history at that for most of those places. But the Axis Powers paid us no heed. We said don’t mess with us and they delivered one hell of a sucker punch to us in Hawaii on a sleepy Sunday morning. They should not have done that. They should have left this peace loving nation alone.

The world should never forget December 7th of 1941…unfortunately, most of the world has, to their peril. The United States should not either…unfortunately too many of our people have, to our peril.

I thank the US Navy for their sacrifice that day and I honor the sacrifice of our service men and women today in remembrance of that day “that will live forever in infamy”

Remember Pearl Harbor, remember the sacrifice of those brave sailors while you say a prayer for our men and women making the same sacrifices today, but most of all, teach this next generation about our past and the wounds of our predecessors.

God bless the warriors that guard our seas today, God bless the memory of those that guarded our seas yesterday.

50-Year Anniversary in the US Navy

Today is the 50th anniversary of the day I joined the US Navy.

I raised my right hand and swore to defend the US Constitution August 31, 1965. That naive 19-year old had never been out of deep East Texas, never flown on an airplane, and certainly never thought about seeing the world. It would be another 120 days due to the Delayed Entry Program, before I departed East Texas for Navy Basic Training in San Diego, arriving there the night of December 28, 1965.

Today is also the 28th anniversary of my retirement from the US Navy. I retired in 1987, 22 years after originally joining in 1965.

In between, the Navy allowed me to travel the world and see cultures and things I never would have had an opportunity to see otherwise. I passed through or was stationed in: California, Florida, New York, Hawaii, Alaska, and Indiana, as well as: Japan, Guam, Okinawa (before it was given back to Japan in 1972), Nova Scotia, Scotland, England, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Greece, and Turkey.

My two sons were both born overseas in Scotland and Okinawa, and attended school in Italy, getting an education that would not have otherwise been possible, were it not for the US Navy.

I made friends all over the world in all five branches of the US military services, as well as other countries. Many of these remain friends of mine today.

What a wonderful ride it was. Today is an important day in my life.

Navy Veteran patch

Master Chief Journalist Dennis Stanley Reinke Passes Away

I just learned tonight that retired US Navy Master Chief Journalist Dennis Stanley Reinke passed away a few months ago.  He was 71 years old. Below is Master Chief Reinke’s obituary. RIP, Shipmate.

Dennis Stanley Reinke was born Jan. 4, 1942, in Worthing, S.D., to the late William Stanley Reinke and the late Matie Stroman Reinke. He grew up in Hill City and graduated from Hill City High School in 1960. He attended the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology until he enlisted in the United States Navy in 1961.

During his 26-year career, Reinke served in assignments as a journalist at Naval Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, Alameda Naval Station, San Francisco, Calif., was a journalism instructor at the Defense Information School, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind., served two tours in Vietnam; public affairs officer at Naval Air Station, Capodochino, Naples, Italy, and manager of the public affairs office at Naval Support Activity, Naples, Italy. He then served as detailer of the journalist and draftsmen communities in the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Washington, D.C. His final assignment was in the Directorate of Freedom of Information and Security Review, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. Master Chief Reinke retired from the Navy in 1987.

Following his Navy retirement, Reinke served as an operations research specialist in the Department of Defense, offices of the Joint Staff, Directorate of Information Management. He retired from that position in 2000.

Reinke was a member of the Little White Church and regularly attended Immanuel Bible Church (IBC) in Springfield, Va., until he became home bound. He co-managed the Treasure Chest Ministry at the IBC for two years. He also was a member of the Fleet Reserve Association and Naval Order of the United States.

Reinke died Sunday, March 10, 2013, at Potomac Center, Arlington, Va. He was 71.
He is survived by his wife, Sharon, of 43 years; sister, Sharon Paschke; brother-in-law, William Paschke; nephew, Rodney (Julie) Paschke, of Jordan, Mont.; niece Karla Paschke, of Murray lowa,; two grand-nieces; and one grand-nephew.

A committal service with military honors will be held at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

Our New Church Pastor

We at Fellowship Baptist Church in Longview, Texas, are blessed with a new pastor.

Galen Herrington and his wife, Angie, and son, Luke, joined us in mid-December, 2009.  Galen was a US Army Chaplain, serving at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, when our church called him to shepherd us.  Galen previously served overseas as a Chaplain in Iraq.

He and his wife have been such a blessing in our church. Galen doesn’t preach to us; he talks to us. His sermons touch our hearts and it is obvious that he is a man after God’s own heart. Everything he does is for the furtherance of the Gospel.

His wife, Angie, has taken over maintenance of our church website and is in the process of updating it at:

http://www.fellowshipbaptistlongview.com/index.html

We hope if you are in the East Texas area, you will visit us at 1818 Springhill Road in Longview, Texas.  Sunday School for all ages is at 9:15 a.m. Sunday morning services follow at 10:30 a.m. Sunday evening services are at 6:00 p.m.   Wednesday evening Prayer Meeting, Youth Group, Mission Friends, Royal Ambassadors, and Girls’ Auxiliary all meet Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.  Additionally, there are various other ministries, including Study Groups throughout the week and a special service for teens and young people every other Saturday night.  Come visit us.

Happy Memorial Day

May we never forget our veterans and what they have done for all of us…

Best Wishes for a very happy and thankful Memorial Day!

Why Veterans Reunite

“I now know why men who have been to war yearn to reunite. Not to tell stories or look at old pictures. Not to laugh or weep. Comrades gather because they long to be with the men who once acted at their best; men who suffered and sacrificed, who were stripped of their humanity. I did not pick these men. They were delivered by fate and the military. But I know them in a way I know no other men. I have never given anyone such trust. They were willing to guard something more precious than my life. They would have carried my reputation, the memory of me. It was part of the bargain we all made, the reason we were so willing to die for one another. As long as I have memory, I will think of them all, every day. I am sure that when I leave this world, my last thought will be of my family and my comrades….Such good men.”

Author Unknown

The American Legion Magazine – May, 2008

Memorial Day

Memorial Day goes back to 1868 when General John A. Logan, Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, when he issued his famous Order No. 11 of May 6, 1868, directing that the graves of the war dead be decorated with flowers and appropriate ceremony on May 30th of that year.

This May 30th date was made legal in New York in 1873 and soon in many others. Only some of the states of the old Confederacy had not recognized it by the 20th century. World War I however, broadened Memorial Day, often called Decoration Day to be a time of remembrance of all departed loved ones. Memorial Day is a sacred day to all war veterans. None need to be reminded of the reason why Memorial Day must be commemorated. But what about the general public and more importantly, future generations?

Our nation’s flag flies at half-staff until noon. The Stars and Stripes marks the graves of fallen soldiers. Prayers are offered. America stops to remember those who fought and died for freedom. This is what Memorial Day is supposed to be for all Americans. A time to reflect on the past, remembering those who helped guarantee our freedom. This should be regarded as a civic obligation. For this is a national debt that can only be truly repaid by individual Americans. By honoring the nation’s war dead, we preserve their memory and thus their service and sacrifices. Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance. Far too often, the nation as a whole takes for granted the freedoms all Americans enjoy. These freedoms were paid for with the lives of others few of us actually knew. That’s why they are all collectively remembered on one special day.
Whether done individually or collectively, it is the thought that counts. Personal as well as public acts of remembering are the ideal. Public displays of patriotism are essential if the notion of remembering war dead is to be instilled in the young.

The task of those of us who have served the nation and returned to our loved ones, friends and neighbors, is to ensure that Americans everywhere remember these men and women and honor their service and supreme sacrifice.

We, the veterans of America, will never forget our friends in uniform who paid so dearly for the freedom Americans enjoy today. GOD bless them….and GOD BLESS AMERICA !!!

Memorial Day, 2007

Contributed by AGCM Fred Baillie, USN, Ret.

Memorial Day, also called Decoration Day, is a patriotic holiday in the United States. It is a day to honor Americans who gave their lives for their country. Originally, Memorial Day honored military personnel who died in the Civil War (1861-1865). The holiday now also honors those who died in any war while serving the United States.

Memorial Day is a legal holiday in most states. Most Northern States and some Southern States observe Memorial Day the last Monday in May. This date was made a federal holiday by a law that became effective in 1971. Most of the Southern States also have their own days for honoring the Confederate dead. Mississippi celebrates the last Monday in April as Confederate Memorial Day. Alabama celebrates on the fourth Monday in April. Georgia observes this holiday on April 26. North Carolina and South Carolina celebrate it on May 10. Virginia observes the holiday on the last Monday in May. Louisiana observes it on June 3, and Tennessee has a holiday called Confederate Decoration Day on that date. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day on January 19.

Observance

On Memorial Day, people place flowers and flags on the graves of military personnel. Many organizations, including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and fraternal groups, march in military parades and take part in special programs. These programs often include the reading of Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.” Memorials are often dedicated on this day. Military exercises and special programs are held at Gettysburg National Military Park and at the National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. In addition, to honor those who died at sea, some United States ports organize ceremonies in which miniature ships filled with flowers are set afloat on the water.

Since the end of World War I, Memorial Day has also been Poppy Day. Volunteers sell small, red artificial poppies in order to help disabled veterans. In recent years, the custom has grown in most families to decorate the graves of loved ones on Memorial Day.

History

Several communities claim to have originated Memorial Day. But in 1966, the U.S. government proclaimed Waterloo, New York, the birthplace of the holiday. The people of Waterloo first observed Memorial Day on May 5, 1866, to honor soldiers killed in the American Civil War. Businesses closed, and people decorated soldiers’ graves and flew flags at half-mast.

Major General John A. Logan in 1868 named May 30 as a special day for honoring the graves of Union soldiers. Logan served as commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans of the Civil War. They had charge of Memorial Day celebrations in the Northern States for many years. The American Legion took over this duty after World War I.

The Origins of Memorial Day

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of former Union soldiers and sailors – the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) – established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared it should be May 30. The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The cemetery already held the remains of 20,000 Union dead and several hundred Confederate dead.

The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant and other Washington officials presided. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.

Local Observances Claim To Be First

Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places. One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.

Today, cities in the North and the South claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866. Both Macon and Columbus, Ga., claim the title, as well as Richmond, Va. The village of Boalsburg, Pa., claims it began there two years earlier. A stone in a Carbondale, Ill., cemetery carries the statement that the first Decoration Day cere- mony took place there on April 29, 1866. Carbondale was the wartime home of Gen. Logan. Approximately 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried.

Official Birthplace Declared

In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There a ceremony on May 5, 1866, was reported to have honored local soldiers and sailors who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-mast. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events.

By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day. The Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities. It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971 Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.

Some States Have Confederate Observances

Many Southern states also have their own days for honoring the Confederate dead. Mississippi celebrates Confederate Memorial Day the last Monday of April, Alabama on the fourth Monday of April, and Georgia on April 26. North and South Carolina observe it May 10, Louisiana on June 3 and Tennessee calls that date Confederate Decoration Day. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day January 19 and Virginia calls the last Monday in May Confederate Memorial Day.

Gen. Logan’s order for his posts to decorate graves in 1868 “with the choicest flowers of springtime” urged: “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. … Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. 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.”

The crowd attending the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was approximately the same size as those that attend today’s observance, about 5,000 people. Then, as now, small American flags were placed on each grave – a tradition followed at many national cemeteries today. In recent years, the custom has grown in many families to decorate the graves of all departed loved ones.

The origins of special services to honor those who die in war can be found in antiquity. The Athenian leader Pericles offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War over 24 centuries ago that could be applied today to the 1.1 million Americans who have died in the nation’s wars: “Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”

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