25 February 2014

Medal of Honor to be awarded to 24

ZUI this article from the Washington Post:
President Obama will correct a historical act of discrimination next month when he awards the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest commendation for combat valor, to a group of Hispanic, Jewish and African-American veterans who were passed over because of their racial or ethnic backgrounds.

The unusual presentation will culminate a 12-year Pentagon review ordered by Congress into past discrimination in the ranks and will hold a particular poignancy when conducted by the nation’s first African-American president.


With the ornate White House East Room as backdrop, the March 18 ceremony will mark another step to revisit a history of discrimination in the armed forces as the nation’s demographics and social values shift rapidly.

The recipients, whom the White House announced Friday afternoon, served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.


Just three of the 24 veterans who will be honored are still alive. All but five of the soldiers are Hispanic, Jewish or African American[.]


Officials from each service branch focused on service members who had been awarded the second-highest medal for gallantry: the Distinguished Service Cross for the Army, the Air Force Cross for that branch, and the Navy Cross for the Navy and Marine Corps.
All 24 recipients served in the Army - seven in World War II (all in the European theatre of operations), nine in Korea, and eight (including the three still living) in Vietnam.

Travelin' Tuesday: Spain

Cartagena (2011 population 218,210) is a city in Murcia, on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. "Cartagena" derives from Carthago Nova (New Carthage), its Roman name; the city was founded around 227 BCE by Hasdrubal the Fair, brother-in-law of the great Carthaginian general Hannibal. The city is now the site of an important Spanish navy base. The Gran Hotel, shown here, was built 1907-17; only the facade remains of the original hotel, alas, as the interior was demolished to make an office building.

Picture taken 2 Jun 01.

21 February 2014

RIP: Walter Ehlers

ZUI this post from the Orange County (CA) Register:
Walt Ehlers, who received the Medal of Honor for bravery during the D-Day invasion of Nazi-held France during World War II, died Thursday morning. He was 92.


Ehlers and his older brother, Roland, were Kansas farm boys who joined the Army together during the Depression to help their family. After three years in the peacetime Army, the brothers found themselves headed to Europe after the United States entered the war following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

The pair fought side-by-side across North Africa and Sicily. Once, in Italy, Walt had to dig Roland out from under a pile of dirt and rocks after an artillery shell exploded near them.
Accorfing to this article from NBC News:
Ehlers also earned three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star during his service with the 3rd Infantry Division and the 1st Infantry Division.

After the war, Ehlers became an advocate for military veteran benefits and proudly worked as a security guard for Disneyland when it opened in California.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Ehlers; three children; 11 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
There are now 75 surviving Medal of Honor recipients, seven of whom were awarded the medal for heroism in World War II.

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Staff Sergeant, US Army; 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division

Born: 7 May 1921, Junction City, Kansas
Died: 20 February 2014, California

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 9-10 June 1944, near Goville, France. S/Sgt. Ehlers, always acting as the spearhead of the attack, repeatedly led his men against heavily defended enemy strong points exposing himself to deadly hostile fire whenever the situation required heroic and courageous leadership. Without waiting for an order, S/Sgt. Ehlers, far ahead of his men, led his squad against a strongly defended enemy strong point, personally killing 4 of an enemy patrol who attacked him en route. Then crawling forward under withering machinegun fire, he pounced upon the guncrew and put it out of action. Turning his attention to 2 mortars protected by the crossfire of 2 machineguns, S/Sgt. Ehlers led his men through this hail of bullets to kill or put to flight the enemy of the mortar section, killing 3 men himself. After mopping up the mortar positions, he again advanced on a machinegun, his progress effectively covered by his squad. When he was almost on top of the gun he leaped to his feet and, although greatly outnumbered, he knocked out the position single-handed. The next day, having advanced deep into enemy territory, the platoon of which S/Sgt. Ehlers was a member, finding itself in an untenable position as the enemy brought increased mortar, machinegun, and small arms fire to bear on it, was ordered to withdraw. S/Sgt. Ehlers, after his squad had covered the withdrawal of the remainder of the platoon, stood up and by continuous fire at the semicircle of enemy placements, diverted the bulk of the heavy hostile fire on himself, thus permitting the members of his own squad to withdraw. At this point, though wounded himself, he carried his wounded automatic rifleman to safety and then returned fearlessly over the shell-swept field to retrieve the automatic rifle which he was unable to carry previously. After having his wound treated, he refused to be evacuated, and returned to lead his squad. The intrepid leadership, indomitable courage, and fearless aggressiveness displayed by S/Sgt. Ehlers in the face of overwhelming enemy forces serve as an inspiration to others.

19 February 2014

Australian VC awarded for Afghanistan

ZUI this article from news.com.au:
THE bravery that earned Australian soldier Cameron Baird a posthumous Victoria Cross was revealed as his parents accepted his award today.

He was the 40th Australian soldier to die in Afghanistan, the fourth awarded a VC, and the first to get the award posthumously since Vietnam.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce read an official citation outlining Corporal Baird’s actions as she conferred the award on his parents, Doug and Kaye Baird, during a ceremony at Canberra’s Government House today.
This was the fourth award of the Victoria Cross for Australia, and the 100th award of the VC to an Australian.

The citation for Baird's's VC, along with his official biography, can be found here.

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Corporal, 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando); Special Operations Task Group

Born: 7 June 1981, Burnie, Tasmania, Australia
Died: 22 June 2013, Khod Valley, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan

Citation: For the most conspicuous acts of valour, extreme devotion to duty and ultimate self-sacrifice at Ghawchak village, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan as a Commando Team Commander in Special Operations Task Group on Operation SLIPPER.
Corporal Cameron Baird enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in 2000, was discharged in 2004, and re-enlisted in 2006. In both periods of service, he was assigned to the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando). His operational service includes Operations TANAGER, FALCONER, BASTILLE and five tours on Operation SLIPPER. He was awarded the Medal for Gallantry for his service in Afghanistan in 2007-08.
On 22 June 2013, a Commando Platoon of the Special Operations Task Group, with partners from the Afghan National Security Forces, conducted a helicopter assault into Ghawchak village, Uruzgan Province, in order to attack an insurgent network deep within enemy-held territory. Shortly after insertion, Corporal Baird’s team was engaged by small arms fire from several enemy positions. Corporal Baird quickly seized the initiative, leading his team to neutralise the positions, killing six enemy combatants and enabling the assault to continue.
Soon afterwards, an adjacent Special Operations Task Group team came under heavy enemy fire, resulting in its commander being seriously wounded. Without hesitation, Corporal Baird led his team to provide support. En route, he and his team were engaged by rifle and machine gun fire from prepared enemy positions. With complete disregard for his own safety, Corporal Baird charged towards the enemy positions, supported by his team. On nearing the positions, he and his team were engaged by additional enemy on their flank. Instinctively, Corporal Baird neutralised the new threat with grenades and rifle fire, enabling his team to close with the prepared position. With the prepared position now isolated, Corporal Baird manoeuvred and was engaged by enemy machine gun fire, the bullets striking the ground around him. Displaying great valour, he drew the fire, moved to cover, and suppressed the enemy machine gun position. This action enabled his team to close on the entrance to the prepared position, thus regaining the initiative.
On three separate occasions Corporal Baird charged an enemy-held building within the prepared compound. On the first occasion he charged the door to the building, followed by another team member. Despite being totally exposed and immediately engaged by enemy fire, Corporal Baird pushed forward while firing into the building. Now in the closest proximity to the enemy, he was forced to withdraw when his rifle ceased to function. On rectifying his rifle stoppage, and reallocating remaining ammunition within his team, Corporal Baird again advanced towards the door of the building, once more under heavy fire. He engaged the enemy through the door but was unable to suppress the position and took cover to reload. For a third time, Corporal Baird selflessly drew enemy fire away from his team and assaulted the doorway. Enemy fire was seen to strike the ground and compound walls around Corporal Baird, before visibility was obscured by dust and smoke. In this third attempt, the enemy was neutralised and the advantage was regained, but Corporal Baird was killed in the effort.
Corporal Baird’s acts of valour and self-sacrifice regained the initiative and preserved the lives of his team members. His actions were of the highest order and in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.

18 February 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: Scotland

Loch Eck, 24 metres above sea level, is located in the Cowal Peninsula, to the north of Dunoon and the Holy Loch. This boat and its mooring buoy were located a bit north of the Coylet Inn, on the east side of the loch near its southern end.

Picture taken 29 Dec 91.

17 February 2014

"Presidents' Day"

5 U.S. Code § 6103 - Holidays

The following are legal public holidays:
New Year’s Day, January 1.
Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the third Monday in January.
Washington’s Birthday, the third Monday in February.
Memorial Day, the last Monday in May.
Independence Day, July 4.
Labor Day, the first Monday in September.
Columbus Day, the second Monday in October.
Veterans Day, November 11.
Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday in November.
Christmas Day, December 25.

So if this "Presidents' Day" isn't a legal holiday, it must be an illegal one, right?

(It's not on the Connecticut list of "Days designated as legal holidays," either.)

12 February 2014

Australian VC to be awarded for Afghanistan

ZUI this article from The Australian:
THE Victoria Cross will be awarded posthumously to Australian commando Corporal Cameron Baird, killed in Afghanistan in June 2013, Tony Abbott has announced.

The Prime Minister told parliament that Corporal Baird, of the Special Operations Task Group, was the 100th Australian recipient of the highest military honour for bravery in wartime.

Killed by small arms fire during a battle with Afghan insurgents, he was the 40th - and last - Australian to die in Afghanistan and the fourth Australian VC from the conflict.


Corporal Baird, from the 2nd Commando Regiment based at Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney, was killed during an engagement with insurgents in the Khod Valley in southern Afghanistan on June 22, 2013.


Born in Burnie, Tasmania, Corporal Baird he is survived by his parents, brother and his partner.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce will award the posthumous honour at a ceremony at Government House in Canberra next Tuesday [18 Feb].

11 February 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: South Korea

Most of the events during the 1988 Summer Olympics were held in Seoul, but some took place in other cities. Yachting and some of the preliminary football* matches were held in the city of Pusan (now spelt Busan), in the southeastern corner of South Korea.  This Olympic flame was located in Yong Du San Park, in Pusan.

Picture taken 10 Sep 88.

* Association football, of course, not American football.

05 February 2014

RIP: John J McGinty III

ZUI this article from the New York Times:
John J. McGinty III, a retired Marine Corps officer who received the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of dozens of his men during an enemy attack in Vietnam, but later relinquished it for religious reasons, died on Friday in Beaufort, S.C. He was 73.

The cause was bone cancer, his son Michael said.

Staff Sgt. McGinty, a platoon leader, had already been severely wounded in the left eye by shrapnel during heavy fighting on July 18, 1966, when about 20 of his men became separated from the others and found themselves pinned down by enemy fire on three sides.

He received the Medal of Honor for sprinting through gunfire and mortar shell blasts to reach them and lead them to safety.


Mr. McGinty led one of four platoons in Company K of the Third Battalion, Third Marine Division, during a major sortie in July 1966 known as Operation Hastings. The mission was to block North Vietnamese troops from infiltrating the demilitarized zone between the Communist-led North and the American-backed South.


John James McGinty III was born in Boston on Jan. 21, 1940, to John and Eve McGinty and grew up in Louisville, Ky. His father was a diver for commercial deep-sea recovery operations
Besides his son Michael, Mr. McGinty is survived by another son, John J. McGinty IV. His wife, Elaine Elizabeth Hathaway, died in 1991.

Mr. McGinty retired from the Marines as a captain in October 1976. He later worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs in several positions. After years of surgical efforts to repair it, Mr. McGinty lost his left eye. He wore an eye patch in public.
There are now 76 surviving Medal of Honor recipients, 52 of whom were awarded the medal for Vietnam War service.

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Second Lieutenant (then Staff Sergeant), US Marine Corps; Company K, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force

Born: 21 January 1940, Boston, Massachusetts
Died: 17 January 2014, Beaufort, South Carolina

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty [in the Republic of Vietnam, on 18 July 1966]. 2d Lt. McGinty's platoon, which was providing rear security to protect the withdrawal of the battalion from a position which had been under attack for 3 days, came under heavy small arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire from an estimated enemy regiment. With each successive human wave which assaulted his 32-man platoon during the 4-hour battle, 2d Lt. McGinty rallied his men to beat off the enemy. In 1 bitter assault, 2 of the squads became separated from the remainder of the platoon. With complete disregard for his safety, 2d Lt. McGinty charged through intense automatic weapons and mortar fire to their position. Finding 20 men wounded and the medical corpsman killed, he quickly reloaded ammunition magazines and weapons for the wounded men and directed their fire upon the enemy. Although he was painfully wounded as he moved to care for the disabled men, he continued to shout encouragement to his troops and to direct their fire so effectively that the attacking hordes were beaten off. When the enemy tried to out-flank his position, he killed 5 of them at point-blank range with his pistol. When they again seemed on the verge of overrunning the small force, he skillfully adjusted artillery and air strikes within 50 yards of his position. This destructive firepower routed the enemy, who left an estimated 500 bodies on the battlefield. 2d Lt. McGinty's personal heroism, indomitable leadership, selfless devotion to duty, and bold fighting spirit inspired his men to resist the repeated attacks by a fanatical enemy, reflected great credit upon himself, and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.