24 November 2009

RIP: Alejandro R. Ruiz

Alejandro R Ruiz
26 Jun 1923 - 20 Nov 2009

ZUI this article from the Visalia (California) Times-Delta:
Visalia native Alejandro Ruiz and his U.S. Army platoon were caught in an ambush in Okinawa, Japan, during World War II. Trapped in a ravine, the soldiers were pinned down by Japanese fire.

Ruiz's response? He picked up a gun and ran toward the Japanese, said his daughter, Celia Ruiz. When the weapon jammed, the private clubbed two soldiers with the weapon, ran back, tested several guns and charged a second time, she said.

"He miraculously escaped serious injury," she said.

For his bravery during the 1945 incident, Alejandro Ruiz received the Medal of Honor — the highest award for valor in action — from President Harry Truman.

Alejandro Ruiz died Friday from heart failure complications in Yountville. He was 85 years old.

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Private First Class, US Army; 165th Infantry, 27th Infantry Division

Born: Loving, New Mexico, 26 June 1923
Died: Yountville, California, 20 November 2009

Citation: When his unit was stopped by a skillfully camouflaged enemy pillbox [on Okinawa, on 28 April 1945], he displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. His squad, suddenly brought under a hail of machinegun fire and a vicious grenade attack, was pinned down. Jumping to his feet, Private First Class Ruiz seized an automatic rifle and lunged through the flying grenades and rifle and automatic fire for the top of the emplacement. When an enemy soldier charged him, his rifle jammed. Undaunted, Private First Class Ruiz whirled on his assailant and clubbed him down. Then he ran back through bullets and grenades, seized more ammunition and another automatic rifle, and again made for the pillbox. Enemy fire now was concentrated on him, but he charged on, miraculously reaching the position, and in plain view he climbed to the top. Leaping from 1 opening to another, he sent burst after burst into the pillbox, killing 12 of the enemy and completely destroying the position. Private First Class Ruiz's heroic conduct, in the face of overwhelming odds, saved the lives of many comrades and eliminated an obstacle that long would have checked his unit's advance.

RIP: Col Lewis L. Millett, Sr.

Lewis L Millett, Sr
15 Dec 1920 – 14 Nov 2009

ZUI this article from the Riverside (California) Press-Enterprise:
Medal of Honor recipient Lewis Millett of Idyllwild died Saturday morning at Jerry L. Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center in Loma Linda. He was 88.


Col. Millett was born in Mechanic Falls, Maine, on Dec. 15, 1920. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1940 and served as an air gunner, then joined the Canadian Army when it appeared the United States would not enter World War II.

"He joined the Royal Canadian Army after President Roosevelt said in a speech that no American boy would fight on foreign soil," [family spokesman Mike] Goldware said.

He returned to the U.S. Army in 1942 upon the United States' entrance into World War II and served in the 1st Armored Division. After making sergeant, he was awarded a battlefield commission.


He retired as a colonel in 1973 after a 31-year career in which he served in World War II, Korea War and the Vietnam War.

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Captain, US Army; Company E, 27th Infantry Regiment

Born: 15 December 1920, Mechanic Falls, Maine
Died: Loma Linda, California, 14 November 2009

Citation: Capt. Millett, Company E, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action [in the vicinity of Soam-Ni, Korea, on 7 February 1951]. While personally leading his company in an attack against a strongly held position he noted that the 1st Platoon was pinned down by small-arms, automatic, and antitank fire. Capt. Millett ordered the 3d Platoon forward, placed himself at the head of the 2 platoons, and, with fixed bayonet, led the assault up the fire-swept hill. In the fierce charge Capt. Millett bayoneted 2 enemy soldiers and boldly continued on, throwing grenades, clubbing and bayoneting the enemy, while urging his men forward by shouting encouragement. Despite vicious opposing fire, the whirlwind hand-to-hand assault carried to the crest of the hill. His dauntless leadership and personal courage so inspired his men that they stormed into the hostile position and used their bayonets with such lethal effect that the enemy fled in wild disorder. During this fierce onslaught Capt. Millett was wounded by grenade fragments but refused evacuation until the objective was taken and firmly secured. The superb leadership, conspicuous courage, and consummate devotion to duty demonstrated by Capt. Millett were directly responsible for the successful accomplishment of a hazardous mission and reflect the highest credit on himself and the heroic traditions of the military service.

15 November 2009

Victoria Cross: G. S. White


Major, 92nd Highlanders

Born: 4 July 1835, Rock Castle Portstewart, County Antrim, Ireland
Died: 24 June 1912, Royal Hospital Chelsea, London

Citation: For conspicuous bravery during the engagement at Charasiah on the 6th October, 1879, when, finding that the artillery and rifle fire failed to dislodge the enemy from a fortified hill which it was necessary to capture, Major White led an attack upon it in person.
Advancing with two companies of his regiment; and climbing from one steep ledge to another, he came upon a body of the enemy, strongly posted, and outnumbering his force by about 8 to 1. His men being much exhausted, and immediate action being necessary, Major White took a rifle and, going on by himself, shot the leader of the enemy. This act so intimidated the rest that they fled round the side of the hill, and the position was won.
Again, on the 1st September, 1880, at the battle of Candahar, Major White, in leading the final charge, under heavy fire from the enemy, who held a strong position and were supported by two guns, rode straight up to within a few yards of them, and seeing the guns, dashed forward and secured one, immediately after which the enemy retired.

(London Gazette Issue 24981 dated 3 Jun 1881, published 3 Jun 1881.)

Note: At the time of his death, he was Field Marshal Sir George Stuart White VC GCB OM GCSI GCMG GCIE GCVO.

Medal of Honor: P. C. Lemon


Specialist Fourth Class (later Sergeant), US Army; Company E, 2d Battalion, 8th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division

Born: 5 June 1950, Toronto, Canada
Died: TBD

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Lemon (then Sp4c.), Company E, distinguished himself [on 1 April 1970, in Tay Ninh Province, South Vietnam,] while serving as an assistant machine gunner during the defense of Fire Support Base Illingworth. When the base came under heavy enemy attack, Sgt. Lemon engaged a numerically superior enemy with machine gun and rifle fire from his defensive position until both weapons malfunctioned. He then used hand grenades to fend off the intensified enemy attack launched in his direction. After eliminating all but 1 of the enemy soldiers in the immediate vicinity, he pursued and disposed of the remaining soldier in hand-to-hand combat. Despite fragment wounds from an exploding grenade, Sgt. Lemon regained his position, carried a more seriously wounded comrade to an aid station, and, as he returned, was wounded a second time by enemy fire. Disregarding his personal injuries, he moved to his position through a hail of small arms and grenade fire. Sgt. Lemon immediately realized that the defensive sector was in danger of being overrun by the enemy and unhesitatingly assaulted the enemy soldiers by throwing hand grenades and engaging in hand-to-hand combat. He was wounded yet a third time, but his determined efforts successfully drove the enemy from the position. Securing an operable machine gun, Sgt. Lemon stood atop an embankment fully exposed to enemy fire, and placed effective fire upon the enemy until he collapsed from his multiple wounds and exhaustion. After regaining consciousness at the aid station, he refused medical evacuation until his more seriously wounded comrades had been evacuated. Sgt. Lemon's gallantry and extraordinary heroism, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

08 November 2009

Victoria Cross: Namdeo Jadhao


Sepoy, 5th Mahratta Light Infantry

Born: 10 November 1921, Nimai Village, Bombay, India
Died: 2 August 1964, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Citation: In Italy, on the evening of the 9th April, 1945, a Company of the 5th Mahratta Light Infantry assaulted the east floodbank of the Senio river, north of S. Polito. Three minutes afterwards another Company was to pass through and assault the west floodbank.
In this sector the Senio river is about 15 feet broad, 4 to 5 feet deep and flows between precipitous floodbanks 30 to 35 feet high. Both floodbanks were honeycombed with an intricate system of German dugouts and defence posts, with a mine belt on the inner face of the east floodbank above the dugout entrances.
Sepoy Namdeo Jadhao was a Company runner and when his Company crossed the river he was with his Company Commander close behind one of the leading sections.
When wading the river and emerging on the west bank the party came under heavy fire from at least three German posts on the inner face of the east bank. The Company commander and two men were wounded and the rest, with the exception of Sepoy Namdeo Jadhao, were killed.
This gallant Sepoy immediately carried one of the wounded men through the deep water and up the precipitous slope of the bank through the mine belt to safety. He then made a second trip to bring back the other wounded man. Both times he was under heavy mortar and machine gun fire.
He then determined to eliminate the machine gun posts, which had pinned down the Companies, and to avenge his dead comrades, so, crossing the exposed east bank a third time, he dashed at the nearest enemy post and silenced it with his Tommy Gun. He was, however, wounded in the hand and, being unable to fire his gun any further, threw it away and resorted to grenades. With these he successively charged and wiped out two more enemy posts, at one time crawling to the top of the bank to replenish his stock of grenades from his comrades on the reverse slope.
Having silenced all machine gun fire from the east bank, he then climbed on to the top of it and, in spite of heavy mortar fire, stood in the open shouting the Mahratta war cry and waving the remainder of the Companies across the river.
This Sepoy not only saved the lives of his comrades, but his outstanding gallantry and personal bravery enabled the two Companies to hold the river banks firmly, and eventually the Battalion to secure a deeper bridgehead, which in turn ultimately led to the collapse of all German resistance in the area.

[London Gazette issue 37134 dated 19 Jun 1945, published 15 Jun 1945.]

Medal of Honor: S. E. Skinner, Jr.


Second Lieutenant, US Marine Corps Reserve; Battery F, 2d Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced)

Born: 29 October 1929, Hartford, Connecticut
Died: 26 October 1952, near Kaesong, North Korea

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as an artillery forward observer of Battery F, in action against enemy aggressor forces [near Kaesong, North Korea,] on the night of 26 October 1952. When his observation post in an extremely critical and vital sector of the main line of resistance was subjected to a sudden and fanatical attack by hostile forces, supported by a devastating barrage of artillery and mortar fire which completely severed communication lines connecting the outpost with friendly firing batteries, 2d Lt. Skinner, in a determined effort to hold his position, immediately organized and directed the surviving personnel in the defense of the outpost, continuing to call down fire on the enemy by means of radio alone until his equipment became damaged beyond repair. Undaunted by the intense hostile barrage and the rapidly-closing attackers, he twice left the protection of his bunker in order to direct accurate machine gun fire and to replenish the depleted supply of ammunition and grenades. Although painfully wounded on each occasion, he steadfastly refused medical aid until the rest of the men received treatment. As the ground attack reached its climax, he gallantly directed the final defense until the meager supply of ammunition was exhausted and the position overrun. During the 3 hours that the outpost was occupied by the enemy, several grenades were thrown into the bunker which served as protection for 2d Lt. Skinner and his remaining comrades. Realizing that there was no chance for other than passive resistance, he directed his men to feign death even though the hostile troops entered the bunker and searched their persons. Later, when an enemy grenade was thrown between him and 2 other survivors, he immediately threw himself on the deadly missile in an effort to protect the others, absorbing the full force of the explosion and sacrificing his life for his comrades. By his indomitable fighting spirit, superb leadership, and great personal valor in the face of tremendous odds, 2d Lt. Skinner served to inspire his fellow marines in their heroic stand against the enemy and upheld the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

05 November 2009

Penny for the guy

Remember, remember the Fifth of November:
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

01 November 2009

Book list - Oct 09

On the Far Side of the Mountain - children's, by Jean Craighead George
The Battle for Duncragglin - children's time travel, by Andrew H Vanderwal
The 1977 Annual World's Best SF - SF (short stories), edited by Donald A Wollheim
Dragons in the Waters - YA, by Madeleine L'Engle
When the Whistle Blows: The Story of the Footballers' Battalion in the Great War - WW I, by Andrew Riddoch
Going Bovine - YA, by Libba Bray
Captain Kidd's Cat - children's, by Robert Lawson *
Curious Notions - AH/SF, by Harry Turtledove
The Gladiator - AH/SF, by Harry Turtledove
The Valley-Westside War - AH/SF, by Harry Turtledove
Dust on the Sea - WWII fiction, by Douglas Reeman
The Haunting - YA, by Margaret Mahy (Carnegie Medal, 1982)
Fat Cat - YA, by Robin Brande
Just in Case - YA, by Meg Rosoff (Carnegie Medal, 2007)
Flour Babies - YA, by Anne Fine (Carnegie Medal, 1992)
Here Lies Arthur - YA fantasy, by Philip Reeve (Carnegie Medal, 2008)
Stonewall Hinkleman and the Battle of Bull Run - children's time travel, by Michael Hemphill
The Hostile Shore - thriller, by Douglas Reeman
Minutemen - children's time travel, by Lucy Ruggles
The Changeover: A Supernatural Romance - YA, by Margaret Mahy (Carnegie Medal, 1984)

20 books this month, with one reread (marked by an asterisk). To reach my goal of 209 books this year, I have to average 17.417 per month, so I'm currently slightly ahead of track.

The Turtledoves were actually written for a YA audience, I believe, but our library shelves them in the adult SF section, so....

The five Carnegie Medal winners bring me up to 24 of 70. Our local library system only has one more; after that I'll have to start doing ILLs.

Victoria Cross: N. R. Howse


Captain, New South Wales Medical Staff Corps, Australian Forces

Born: 26 October 1863, Stogursey, Somerset
Died: 19 September 1930, London

Citation: During the action at Vredefort [South Africa] on the 24th July, 1900, Captain House went out under a heavy cross fire and picked up a wounded man, and carried him to a place of shelter.

(London Gazette Issue 27320 dated 4 Jun 1901, published 4 Jun 1901.)

Note: Captain Howse was the first person serving with the Australian Forces to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

Medal of Honor: J. J. Madison


Lieutenant Commander, US Naval Reserve Force; commanding USS Ticonderoga

Born: 20 May 1884, Jersey City, New Jersey
Died: 25 December 1922, Brooklyn, New York

Citation: 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, 1 of the 2 forward guns of the Ticonderoga being disabled by the second shot. The fire was returned and the fight continued for nearly 2 hours. Lt. Comdr. 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 31 others, out of a total number of 236 on board.

Note: Ticonderoga, originally the German steamer Kamilla Rickmers, was seized by the United States in 1917, turned over to the Navy and fitted out as an animal transport. She was commissioned at Boston in the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS) on 5 January 1918.