US Marine Awarded Medal Of Honor for Korean Actions

by HB Auld, Jr.

From Navy and Marine Corps files: This Day in Navy and Marine Corps History:

1950 – During the Korean War at the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, LtCol Raymond G. Davis led his battalion into Hagaru-Ri, Korea, after four days of intense fighting in the mountain passes against a numerically superior hostile Chinese force. His battalion, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, helped clear the way for the 5th and 7th Marines. Lt. Col. Davis led in front of his men all the way… marching his battalion at night over mountains in a driving snowstorm. This action allowed two Marine regiments to escape and link up with the 1st Division.

LtCol Davis was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism by President Harry S. Truman in a White House ceremony on November 24, 1954.

Marine LtCol Davis was eventually promoted to four-star general and served as the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. During his 33 years in the US Marine Corps, General Davis served in World War II (where he distinguished himself at the Battle of Guadalcanal), the Korean War (earning the Medal of Honor), and the Viet Nam War. He retired from the US Marine Corps March 31, 1972, after 33 years of military service.

General Davis died September 3, 2003 at the age of 88 years. (January 13, 1915 – September 3, 2003). He is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens College Park, Georgia.

Rest In Peace, General Davis, and thank you for your brave service to our Nation.

Medal of Honor Monday: USAF 1st Lt. James P. Fleming

by Guest Author Tara Ross

During this week in 1968, an Air Force helicopter pilot makes a daring rescue. When James P. Fleming rescued an Army Special Forces unit that day, he left enemy territory with one Army commando dangling from his helicopter by a rope!

Sounds like a scene from a movie, doesn’t it? One military historian has labeled Fleming’s heroics “one of the most dramatic rescues of the entire Vietnam War.”

On November 26, Fleming was dispatched on a mission to insert a Special Forces recon team (RT Chisel) deep into enemy territory. “Before you took off, you would brief, you would go over, and you would shake hands and hug,” Fleming later remembered, “the team members and the crew members. . . . What you’re doing is you’re saying, ‘I’m going to take you, and I’m going to put you out in the middle of hell. If you have to come home, I’ll bring you home.’ I’m telling him that. That’s my duty; it’s my honor. That’s what I do.”

Little did Fleming know that he’d end up putting his own life on the line in order to keep his unspoken promise that day.

Things were going smoothly at first. The recon team members were inserted safely, but they unfortunately ran into an ambush a few hours later. The team radioed back for an emergency extraction. A group of five Hueys immediately left to retrieve RT Chisel: two gunships and three “slicks.” Fleming was piloting one of the Huey slicks.

Unfortunately, one of the gunships was hit early in the rescue attempt. It went down, but its crew was quickly retrieved by one of the slicks. The slick left the area, carrying the rescued crew to safety. Another slick followed, as it was running low on fuel.

Thus, only two helicopters remained to extract RT Chisel: one gunship and Fleming’s slick. Fleming was worried about his fuel levels, too, but he knew that he couldn’t leave his men on the ground. He was their only hope.

The first attempt to rescue RT Chisel failed. The Vietnamese in the area opened a barrage of fire just as the Huey came in the area. The Special Forces team was forced away from the helicopter and back toward a river. The fire was so intense that the commander of RT Chisel radioed Fleming: “They’ve got us. Get out!”

The gunship was injured by then, but its pilot told Fleming that he would try one more pass before heading back. The gunship flew ahead, unloading fire in all directions. Fleming’s slick came in behind him, finally hovering just above the river near the Special Forces team. “Hostile fire crashed through his windscreen as the patrol boarded his helicopter,” Fleming’s citation notes. But Fleming held his helicopter steady, waiting as each member of RT Chisel was pulled aboard.

Finally, everyone was aboard except for one soldier. He’d stayed behind, spraying machine gun fire to keep the Vietnamese at bay as his team boarded the helicopter. Now that last man sprinted for the Huey as Fleming waited.

Finally, the last soldier lunged at the helicopter, grabbing a rope ladder. Fleming knew he had his man, and he took off. The final member of RT Chisel was still hanging beneath the chopper, and the Vietnamese were still firing as the Americans pulled away from the river!

When Fleming finally landed his Huey in safe territory, his fuel gauge read “empty.” Everyone had made it out. But barely.

Fleming received the Medal of Honor not too long afterwards. “How many helicopter pilots did what I did,” he later said, “and got shot down and died and no one saw it. Hundreds? I know that. I was recognized. And I owe a lot to those that weren’t.”


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Then 1st Lt. James P. Fleming went on to an illustrious 30-year career in the US Air Force prior to retiring in 1996 as a Colonel. In addition to his MoH, Colonel Fleming also earned the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Meritorious Service Medals and EIGHT Air Medals and other military awards. He is still alive and is 77 years old.

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

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! 


 

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