Navy Corpsman Awarded the Medal Honor This Week in 1945

by Guest Author, Tara Ross

During this week in 1945, a [US Navy] Corpsman is awarded the Medal of Honor. Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class George E. Wahlen’s citation that day described him as “stouthearted and indomitable” for his perseverance at Iwo Jima.

Wahlen wasn’t really supposed to be a corpsman in the first place. His training was in mechanics, and he’d wanted to serve as an aircraft mechanic. Nevertheless, the military needed medical personnel, so that’s what he trained to do.

When he arrived at Iwo Jima in February 1945, it was his first time in combat. He was tasked with assisting an invading Marine battalion. The young corpsman was worried that he wouldn’t have what it took.

“I couldn’t imagine me being a Corpsman,” he later told an interviewer, “and when they had casualties, [it was] my job was to go out and take care of them. And it concerned me and I think it was the first time I ever prayed in my life. . . . [I figured if I ever] need help, this is when it is.”

Rough days ahead

The days that followed were rough. Wahlen would be on the island, supporting his Marines, for close to two weeks. Throughout those weeks, Whalen repeatedly stepped in to help his fellow Marines, even when he himself was already injured. At one point, he even went to the assistance of another battalion, helping 14 of those boys before returning to his own.

Whalen later recounted one of these experiences. The Marines were advancing up a hill when the Japanese opened fire. Our Marines hit the ground, looking for the source of the problem.

“Finally, we got word to pull off the hill,” Whalen said. “But there was two casualties over on my right flank.” He crawled through fire to get to them, but both men were already dead. Just then a grenade went off too close to his face. “And the shock from that kind of temporarily knocked me unconscious,” he described. “I laid there for a minute or two and kind of got my bearings back and I could feel the blood in this one eye—couldn’t see out of it.” He administered first aid to himself, then immediately turned in the direction of another Marine who was calling for help.

He wouldn’t be able to get to that Marine without taking out the machine gun nest in the area. Naturally, that’s what he decided to do.

He yelled over to another Marine, hollering for a grenade. He didn’t have any of his own, because he was a Corpsman.“

“…I got my knife out and straightened that pin out and pulled it off.”

AUTHOR TARA ROSS

I decided I’d crawl up the hill and see if I [could] knock out that emplacement,” he said. He made his way to the machine gun nest. “I was going to lob the grenade into the hole. And so, I always remember I went to pull the ring out and the ring come off and the pin stayed in . . . . I got my knife out and straightened that pin out and pulled it off.” By then, he was pretty close to the Japanese, and he let the grenade fly.

It worked! Whalen was able to crawl back to the Marine, eventually getting him to safety.

Whalen’s worst injury came on the last day that he was there, on March 13.

He was looking for injured Marines when a mortar hit too close to him. “I heard [the Marines] holler and so I went to stand up to get to them and fell down,” he later recounted. “I couldn’t walk. And I looked down and my boot had been torn off. I’d been hit in the leg. And I later found out my leg had been broke.”

You don’t think a broken leg stopped him from helping those Marines, do you? Because it didn’t. He bandaged his leg and gave himself a shot of morphine. Then he was on his way again, ready to help the Marines that he’d found just before the mortar blast. He worked his way even further into enemy territory, continuing to help Marines before he was finally evacuated.

The broken leg would finally send Wahlen to a hospital to recuperate. After the war, he received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S Truman.

Greatest accomplishment ever

Many years later he was asked what the Medal of Honor meant to him. He was gracious and humble, as so many of our Medal recipients are.

“Well, it’s certainly the greatest accomplishment that I ever did,” he said simply. “And I think it’s important [to not] only be proud of it, but don’t do anything to disgrace it, either. And I tried to do that.”

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Wahlen went on to serve in the Korean War and the Vietnam Conflict where he was injured once again, this time while serving as a US Army Major. George E. Wahlen passed away June 5, 2009.


Guest author, Tara Ross, is a Texas 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! Stay tuned here for updates on pretty much anything to do with the Electoral College, George Washington, & our wonderfully rich American heritage.

History posts are copyright © 2013-2021 by Tara Ross. Please use the share feature instead of cutting/pasting.

#TDIH#OTD#AmericanHistory#USHistory#liberty#freedom#ShareTheHistory

D-Day Began 77 Years Ago Today with Operation Overlord

by HB Auld, Jr.

On this date, 77 years ago, June 6, 1944, Allied Forces began Operation Overlord, the landing at Normandy that would ultimately bring the Axis Powers to her knees and the end of World War II in Europe.

Let us always remember the brave sacrifices of these men who landed on the beaches of France and endured death, destruction, and wounds to fight for our freedom from tyranny. God bless them and God bless America!


Battle of Midway 79 Years Ago Today

by Guest Author Tara Ross

On this day in 1942, the Battle of Midway is fought. The Japanese had taken Americans by surprise at Pearl Harbor mere months before. Now the United States would strike a decisive blow of its own.

Americans entered battle with a priceless advantage: They’d recently broken a Japanese naval code. The U.S. Navy had a pretty good idea of when, where, and how the Japanese would attack.

They’d barely figured out the “where”! As cryptanalysts listened to the intercepted messages, they kept hearing references to location “AF,” but they didn’t know where AF was. Could it be Midway? They decided to test the theory.

The personnel at Midway were asked to broadcast an uncoded radio message, reporting that their water purification system was broken. And wouldn’t you know it? American intelligence soon picked up a coded Japanese message, faithfully reporting that “AF” had a water shortage.

Japan had been tricked into confirming the location of “AF.”

The Japanese attack was sighted on radar early on June 4, as expected. Naturally, Midway was already on alert. Moreover, three United States aircraft carriers hovered nearby, just beyond the reach of Japanese radar.

The battle that followed was intense. Japanese planes rained down fire on the Midway atoll, but Americans returned unrelenting antiaircraft fire. In the meantime, American planes from Midway took off toward the Japanese carriers. “All of these attacks would be bravely carried out but ineffective, scoring no hits on any Japanese ship,” historian Ian W. Toll describes. “But the continuous pressure of new air attacks, however ineffectual, put the Japanese off balance.”

Torpedo bombers from the U.S. aircraft carriers finally arrived, but they fared badly. Mitsuo Fuchida, an officer aboard the Japanese carrier Akagi, later recounted his “breathless suspense, thinking how impossible it would be to dodge all their torpedoes.” But most of these planes did not have fighter escorts, and they were quickly defeated.

Nevertheless, the Japanese were contending with their own problems. Their commanding officer had waffled on whether to arm his planes with land bombs (to attack Midway) or torpedoes (to attack the American fleet). Ultimately, the Japanese carriers were caught in a vulnerable position. Some planes were refueling; some were rearming with torpedoes. Bombs and torpedoes were lying around the hangar deck of the carriers, not yet returned to their magazines: All this material created a risk of secondary explosions in the event of a strike.

Complicating matters, even those planes that were already in the air were flying too low to deal with what came next: American dive bombers.

Yes! The Navy’s most effective weapon chose that inconvenient moment to arrive.

“The terrifying scream of the dive-bombers reached me first,” Fuchida recounted, “followed by the crashing explosion of a direct hit. There was a blinding flash and then a second explosion, much louder than the first. . . . Then followed a startling quiet as the barking of guns suddenly ceased. I got up and looked at the sky. The enemy planes were already gone from sight.”

Within about five minutes, three aircraft carriers in the Japanese fleet were effectively destroyed, including hundreds of pilots, planes, aircraft maintenance crews and repairmen. A fourth aircraft carrier would be lost by the end of the day.

Americans suffered losses, too, but their victory was undeniable: Japan’s ability to fight an air war had been severely compromised.

Gentle reminder: History posts are copyright © 2013-2020 by Tara Ross. I appreciate it when you use the shar e feature instead of cutting/pasting: #TDIH#OTD#AmericanHistory#USHistory#liberty#freedom#ShareTheHistory


EDITOR’S NOTE: Guest author, 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! Stay tuned here for updates on pretty much anything to do with the Electoral College, George Washington, & our wonderfully rich American heritage.

History posts are copyright © 2013-2020 by Tara Ross. Please use the share feature instead of cutting/pasting.  #TDIH#OTD#History#USHistory#liberty#freedom#ShareTheHistory


V-E Day: The War in Europe Ended 76 Years Ago Today

by HB Auld, Jr.

Today is V-E Day, the day we celebrate Victory over Europe ending World War II in Europe.

Seventy-six years ago today on May 8, 1945, Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the US, announced the news to reporters at the White House at 8:35 a.m. and embargoed the news 25 minutes until 9 a.m. so UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill could make the announcement simultaneously with the US.

When Truman announced the War in Europe was at an end, he told the press: “General Eisenhower informs me that the forces of Germany have surrendered to the United Nations. The flags of freedom fly all over Europe.” But thenTruman cautioned against celebrating too soon. “Our victory is only half over,” he stressed.

Writer and historian Tara Ross described what happened next this way:

“Then Truman did something that might be unexpected today: He called for a day of prayer: “I call upon the people of the United States, whatever their faith, to unite in offering joyful thanks to God for the victory we have won and to pray that He will support us to the end of our present struggle and guide us into the way of peace.

”The day of prayer was set for May 13—Mother’s Day! Interestingly, V-E Day marked two other milestones, too: Not only was it Harry Truman’s birthday, but it was also his first full day living in the White House. (Eleanor Roosevelt had taken several weeks to move out.)

What a series of overwhelming emotions for Truman? He was able to declare victory in the long European war—on his birthday—less than one month after he’d become President.

I only wish that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day,” he told the nation.”

Harry Truman had been President for one month, ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the US, had died in Warm Springs, GA, on April 12, 1945.

The War against Japan would continue three more months until the surrender there and V-J Day on August 14, 1945.

God bless America.


World War II Hero, Flying Ace, and Test Pilot Dead at 97

by HB Auld, Jr.

American US Air Force hero, flying ace, and test pilot Brigadier General Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager died today. He was 97 years old.

In 1947, General Yeager became the first confirmed test pilot to exceed the speed of sound in level flight.

General Yeager began his service to the Nation in 1941 as a Private in the US Army Air Corps as an aircraft mechanic. In 1942, he entered enlisted flight training and was promoted to Flight Officer upon graduation. Later on the Western Front, he had 11 confirmed kills, shooting down enemy aircraft.

Following World War II, he became an aircraft test pilot, flying the Bell X-1 at a speed of Mach I and breaking the sound barrier on October 14, 1947. During the Viet Nam War, he commanded squadrons in Southeast Asia and was promoted to US Air Force Brigadier General in 1969. He served more than 30 years in three military wars. General Yeager retired from military service March 1, 1975.

General Chuck Yeager passed away on Monday, December 7, 2020.


Pearl Harbor Ambushed 79 Years Ago Today

by HB Auld, Jr.

Seventy-nine years ago today on December 7, 1941, Imperial Japan attacked the neutral United States with a surprise Sunday morning ambush on naval bases at Pearl Harbor, HI.

During the unprovacated assault on the United States, aircraft from the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service killed 2,403 US citizens and injured 1,178 others. It also sank four battleships and damaged four others, damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, and one minelayer. Additionally, 188 aircraft were destroyed and another 159 planes were damaged.

The following day, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt appeared before Congress and declaring the previous day “…a day which will live forever in infamy….” requested that Congress declare war against Japan. Congress quickly complied and the United States entered World War II hostilities against Japan.

My own father, HB Auld, Sr., was already serving in the US Army when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and spent the remainder of his military service fighting the Japanese on the island of New Guinea.

My father-in-law, JB Kattes, enlisted in the Army four days after the surprise attack, on December 11, 1941, and served in the Army in Washington, Alaska, and Georgia until the end of the War.

God bless all of the men and women who served and all of those who gave their lives in Pearl Harbor and elsewhere in the War.

God bless America!


75th Anniversary of the Surrender of Japan, Ending WWII

by HB Auld, Jr.

Today is the 75th anniversary of V-J Day, the day remembered as the Victory over Japan day and the effective end of World War II. War would not “officially” end until the Treaty of San Francisco, signed almost seven years later on April 28, 1952.

On September 2, 1945, members of the Supreme Allied Forces and the Government of Japan gathered on the teak deck of the USS MISSOURI (BB 63) to sign the formal declaration of surrender by the Japanese Empire. Hostilities leading to the United States’ entrance into World War II had begun almost four years earlier with a surprise attack on naval forces at Pearl Harbor, HI. Now, the “Rising Sun” empire would cease the fighting in the Pacific and China, with the primary condition of surrender being the preservation of the life of Japanese Emperor Hirohito.

Japanese Foreign Minister Shigemitsu signed for the Japanese government, while Japanese General Umezu signed for the Japanese armed forces. General of the Armies Douglas MacArthur and Navy Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz signed for the United States. US Forces officers dressed in their daily khaki work uniforms for the auspicious ceremony. MacArthur is said to have ordered that he and his men would wear that working uniform, implying that this was just another “day at the office.” On the bulkhead behind the signatories that day was the “Perry Flag,” the US flag that flew over USS POWHATAN commanded by Commodore Matthew C. Perry on the first of his two expeditions to Japan in 1853, forcing the Japanese to open their country to trade with America.

That Perry flag was retrieved from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, especially for the ceremony. Admiral Bull Halsey wanted the flag for the ceremony, so a young naval officer, LT. John K. Bremyer, was tasked with rushing it 9,000 miles in record time from Annapolis to the Pacific. He was told to “get there any way you can” and that he did, hitching rides and going without sleep and sometimes meals as he traveled on his mission. He carried the flag in a box inside a courier bag and he slept with it, ate with it, even carried it to the bathroom with him, never letting it out of his sight. He held a Top Secret Clearance and was a member of the elite Courier Force whose job it was to ferry documents in military wartime. God bless LT John K. Bremyer.

My dad, HB Auld, Sr., fought in the Pacific in New Guinea; my father-in-law, JB Kattes, served in Alaska; and my uncle, Ross Wilton Hargis, was a pilot in Germany…all during World War II. Truly, they were members of The Greatest Generation.


 

The 75th Anniversary of the Bombing of Hiroshima, Japan

By Guest Author, Tara Ross

On this day in 1945, Americans drop an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The bombing came not too long after Japan had rejected a final opportunity to surrender.

The so-called Potsdam Declaration was issued through a combined statement of the United States, Great Britain, and China.

“The time has come,” these Allies declared, “for Japan to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought the Empire of Japan to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason.”

Unconditional surrender was necessary. The alternative was “prompt and utter destruction.”

Japan rejected the ultimatum. Presumably, no one in Japan really knew what was coming. But you have to wonder whether anyone in America truly understood what was coming, either?

Captain William Parsons of the Manhattan Project briefed the crew of the Enola Gay (and others) before they departed on their historic mission: “The bomb you are going to drop,” he told them, “is something new in the history of warfare. It is the most destructive weapon ever produced. We think it will knock out everything within a three mile area.”

Well, yes, it did. But it also shattered glass in suburbs that were twelve miles away from the detonation site.

Later that day, President Harry S. Truman made a statement:

“The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. . . . We are now prepared to obliterate . . . every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city,” he stated. “We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan’s power to make war.”

Unfortunately, the Japanese did not surrender that day. A second bomb would be dropped on Nagasaki mere days later.

It was a hard day in world history, but it was also the beginning of the end of World War II.


History posts are copyright © 2013-2020 by Tara Ross. I appreciate it when you use the share feature instead of cutting/pasting. #TDIH#OTD#History#USHistory#liberty#freedom#ShareTheHistory

Guest author, 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! Stay tuned here for updates on pretty much anything to do with the Electoral College, George Washington, & our wonderfully rich American heritage.