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Tarawa Tribute – Eye Witness Account – Intermission Story (17)

USMC on Tarawa Atoll

Gradually, those buried on Betio in the Tarawa atoll are being identified and returned home.  Pacific Paratrooper is including this story as a tribute to them.

Edwin Glasberg, 93, has lived an extraordinary life and is known as a WWII hero for a number of reasons. He was born on the 14th may, 1924, in Boston and as soon as he was able, he left school and enlisted in the Marines. He was assigned to C Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Division.

Edwin Glasberg, USMC

War broke out and he was sent to the Western Pacific where he first used his weapon in anger. He was one of the 18,000 Marines that made up the first wave that landed on the Island of Tarawa. There was no significant resistance on the beach, as the Navy had shelled the Japanese positions before the Marines landed, and his company ran up the beach sheltering behind a four foot high wall. From that point on the battle became increasingly bloody as the Japanese detachment of 4,500 men fought back.

Japanese snipers had been positioned in the trees and picked off the American forces at will. Glasberg spotted a sniper hidden in a coconut tree and dashed to the foot of the tree. Pressing his body against the trunk, where he was safe as the machine gun could not be pointed straight down, he noticed a wounded lieutenant, but Glasberg could not reach him as that would place him in the line of fire.  Blazing hot, spent cartridge shells rained down on his head as the Japanese sniper maintained fire at the American forces, so Glasberg simply pointed his rifle straight up and started shooting. He could not see the sniper but as the firing from the top of the tree stopped he could only assume that he had shot the sniper, “I don’t know if I hit him or somebody else did, but he stopped firing. I wasn’t going to climb up to find out.”

USMC on Betio, Tarawa Atoll

The battle raged on and Glasberg, in the company of several Marines, was on manoeuvres when a Japanese soldier leaped out from behind a wood pile and bayoneted Glasberg in the right thigh. “I didn’t realize I got bayoneted,” he said. “You’re so excited, you don’t feel anything.” The Marine in line behind him took out his pistol and shot the enemy soldier in the head. Despite a bleeding wound in his leg, Glasberg remained in the fight.

His next major battle was during the invasion of Saipan. He was part of the contingency that were fighting for Hill 101 and part way up the hill he was wounded for the second time when a bullet grazed the left side of his head. He was awarded his second Purple Heart for this injury and was shipped back to the USA, where he was deployed at the submarine base at Portsmouth on the East Coast.

Soon, he was back in the thick of things when he was part of the boarding party that took control of a German submarine, U-805, that had been forced to surrender. Glasberg was woken in the early hours of 12th May 1945 and ordered to take his rifle, ammunition, and other combat paraphernalia and to report for duty. He had been selected as his file indicated that he spoke German.

Riding in a Navy tender, he and the other six members of the boarding party travelled 25 miles into the Atlantic where they came upon a surreal sight. There lay a German U-Boat on the surface surrounded by six destroyers. The boarding party climbed aboard and in his best schoolboy German, Glasberg yelled, “Alle deutschen Krauts, raus und schnell!” (All you Germans, get out, and fast!) Waving the machine gun in their faces encouraged the German crew to leave quickly, and Glasburg turned to the submarine skipper, Korvettenkapitan Richard Bernardelli. He told the captain, who spoke English, “We’re Marines, not murderers. We’re not going to kill you guys. If the tables were turned, you’d kill us, but we’re not going to do that to you.

All 31 of the crew were captured, and Glasberg used his fluency in German to look through the papers that were found in the captain’s cabin.   “I went to the captain’s quarters. We went through all their maps, and I read them in German, the detailed instructions of their combat patrol. I read the German report. They had sunk three of our ships on their patrol, one off of Nova Scotia, and two in the Saint Lawrence estuary.”

The submarine was then towed to Portsmouth harbor; a trip Glasberg does not remember with any fondness, “I stayed up in the conning tower because the submarine is so musty. You can hardly breathe in it. Plus I got seasick because a submarine on the surface, it’s bobbing up and down in the Atlantic swells.”

Edwin Glasberg, 2010

After the war, Glasberg lived in Massachusetts where he founded a company making hairbrushes. He married, and his wife bore them three daughters.  Glasberg, now 93 years old, is a proud member of the Naples Marine Corps League, and can often be found recounting stories of his life as a marine during WWII at League meetings.

When you come to think of it,” he said, “not too many Marines in World War II were intermingled in combat with both the Germans and the Japanese,” was his last word.

Story is from War history Online.  Pictures are from the Marine Corps League of Naples, FL. and the Marine Corps Association.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

SHOUT OUT !!!

I located this article in “The Week” news magazine – is this what our children do (or learn) in college? !!

calling for a ban on veterans as college students!

Cy Forrest was kind enough to send us a link to the University’s reply to this letter.  I hope the PC people make a note of paragraph # 4.

http://pressreleases.uccs.edu/?p=3424

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Phyllis Birney – Baltimore, MD; civilian employee US Army & Air Force (Ret.)

Beatrice Carroll – Hull, ENG; British Navy WREN, WWII

Werner Eisenmann – Pennsburg, PA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Howard Falcon Jr. – Evanston, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO & CBI, USS Robinson

James Guglielmoni – Prescott, AZ; US Navy, WWII, destroyer escort

Frank Hurst – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Vivian King – New Plymouth, NZ; RNZ Army # 42512, WWII, Sgt., 27th Battalion, POW

Richard Palmer – Bronx, NY; USMC, Korea

Bernard Sulisz – So.Lyon, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

George Totoiu – Oberlin, OH; US Air Force

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Intermission Story (7) – Poem for Tarawa

Battle of Tarawa

Battle of Tarawa

The Battle for Tarawa
“The time has come,” the commander said,
“When we must fight once more;
So pack your gear and shoulder your gun,
We will board the ship at four.”
*
We boarded the ship in New Zealand
For a place we knew not where.
But deep down in our hearts we thought
Of the hardships we’d have to bear
 *
Twenty long days and twenty long nights
It took to reach the Atolls
We wiped off our guns and counted our shells
And loosened the straps on our rolls
 *
Then came the word, “All hands topside”
And our boats were lowered to sea I’ll tell you every man was scared
And we prayed for the things to be.
Our fleet was constantly pounding the isle
 *
To make things easier on shore
Then they finally slacked up around noon
To let our fighting men score
The first wave shoved off for “Helen”
 *
The coral reefs made it tough;
The tank bogged down, the boats were sunk
My God, those boys died rough.
Machine gun nests were thick on the beach
 *
But our men struggled nearer the sand
Some of them died in the water
Some of them died on the land. That was the first wave I have told about
Then the second wave moved in
*
‘Twas the same thing, but their lines grew weak

And some of the boys wore a grin.

Marines take cover behind a seawall.

Marines take cover behind a seawall.Now the Marines kept pouring i

From the places a rat wouldn’t go
 *
They tromped over bodies of dead Japanese
And onward to finish the foe.
Then our boys had formed a line
And darted from tree to tree
*
But the Japs were camouflaged so slick
It made them hard to see.
Japanese snipers in the tree tops
Pill boxes on the ground
 *
Mortar shells were flying everywhere
Hell was all around. Those pill boxes I spoke about
Were concrete, logs and steel
And the contents of the hole below
*
Our bombs could not reveal.
Our tanks pulled right up to those holes
And fired again and again
Now you can bet that it made Hell
*
For those stubborn Japs within.
Flame throwers left a path of death
And burned everything in sight
It didn’t take long for those Japs to decide
 *
That the Marines, too, could fight.
Imperial Marines the Japs called themselves
They were supposed to be tough
But they soon found out that U.S.M.C.
 *
Was built of the rugged and rough.
They were fortified to the tee
But it took the Second Division
To set up another V.
 *
Exterminated Japs filled every hole
And soon began to smell
On blood-stained coral we made our bedsbattle-of-tarawa-the-marines
And slept in that living Hell.
*
Four thousand Japs were slain on that island
Pill boxes numbered five hundred
Soon the air strip was repaired
Again our Air Force thundered.
*
More than eleven hundred Marines lost their lives
They put up a #### good fight
I salute each and everyone
Whom we buried the following night. ‘Twas the bloodiest battle in Marine history
*
Well done, what a service rendered!
I’m sure as long as time may go
Their victory will be remembered.
Just one word for the Seabees
 *
In discussion they’re always left out
But the fighting 18th was there from the first
And they were the last to move out.
*
Written by:
Claude William Hepp enlisted in the Navy Seabees (Naval Construction Battalion) Jan 13, 1943. He was a carpenter’s mate, third class and his unit was assigned to the 18th Marine Combat Engineers, Second Marine Division sent to the South Pacific. He wrote this poem after participating in the battle at Tarawa. Claude died during the bloody invasion of Saipan and was buried at sea two days after his 22nd birthday.
Acquired at the US Military Forum.
Click on images to enlarge.
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Farewell Salutes – 

Len Bryan – Tucson, AZ; US Navy, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Cmdr.

George Diehl – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT260637844_god_bless_them_all_xlarge

Luther Gribble – Wellington, TX, US Army, WWII, PTO, Sgt., mortars

William Harrigan – Portland, ME; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Alaska

Bundy Hill – London, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO

John C. Holladay – Florence, SC; USMC, WWII, PTO, Sgt., 1st Marine Raiders, KIA (New Georgia)

John Leslie – IRE; British Army, WWII, ETO, 2nd Batt./Irish Guards, POW

John Prince – Bellerose, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO, 8th Marines, Pfc, KIA (Tarawa)

Maurice Stout Jr. – Lincoln, NE; USMC, WWII, PTO

Edward Terella – Erie, PA; USMC, WWII, PTO

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Tarawa (3) Additional Information and Quotes

One of the cemeteries at Tarawa.

One of the cemeteries at Tarawa.

Japanese RAdmiral Keiji Shibasaki was commander of the 3rd Special Base Defense Force, the tokubetsu Konkyochitai, who was responsible for defending the Ocean, the Gilberts and the Nauru Islands.  During the US invasion, he gave his orders from a concrete bunker on Betio.  He should have stayed there.  He was killed when he moved his staff to a secondary headquarters.

In choppy seas and heavy winds, the LVTs (aka Amtraks) moved in.  Destroyers Ringgold and Dashiell followed the minesweepers Requiste and Pursuit who went into the shallow waters of the lagoon with Lt. Forbes Webster and Stanley Page (of the RNZ Navy), as their pilots.

When it was over.

When it was over.

Japanese Warrant Officer, Ota recalled, “We could see the American landing craft coming towards us like dozens of spiders over the surface of the water.  One of my men exclaimed, ‘The God of Death has come!'”  Every working weapon opened up.  Petty Officer Tadao Onuki said, “There we broke our silence.  Under roaring fires, enemy craft wrecked, American soldiers went down one after another, went falling into the sea.”

Wounded Marine sent for medical attention.

Wounded Marine sent for medical attention.

Seasickness became a problem aboard the ships where the men waited; 850 men of the LT 1/8 were in Higgins boats from the Sheridan. Lt. John Fletcher was being assisted by Lt. Eddie Albert who recalled, My job was to assist in controlling those 26 boats, plus support any boats needing repairs, refueling or rescue at sea.  My boat, number 13, was not a landing craft.  We had a 3-man crew, a coxswain, a gunner and myself… We felt terrible that so many were lost that second morning… I’ll never know how we lived through it.  I remember our crew stamping out small fires around the fuel drums.  But we kept firing back and pulling more wounded aboard… I don’t like to think about it.”

Kneeling in prayer before landing. From: "Tarawa - The Story of a Battle" by Robert Sherrod

Kneeling in prayer before landing.
From: “Tarawa – The Story of a Battle” by Robert Sherrod

Chaplain Wyeth Willard baptized 63 men on the LT 1/8.  He was one of 3 Navy chaplains, (F.W. Kelly & J.V.E. Loughlin), who went up and down the island wherever the men were fighting.

Many of the troops dropped due to heat prostration.  The sand was ”white as snow and as hot as red-white ashes,” said Sgt. Michelony of the 1/6.  Three steel pillboxes and a large “bomb-proof shelter remained at the pier.  After 2 hours of fighting – only the shelter remained operable and a tunnel was discovered.  Lt. Sandy Bonnyman, a combat engineer, received the Medal of Honor for his actions here.  He was one of 4 men who be issued the medal for this island.

Many combat photographers of Tarawa show one man with a red mustache, unlit cigar clenched in his teeth and a shotgun in his arms standing tall amid scores of troops against a seawall on Red Beach 3.  This was Major Henry  “Jim” Pierson Crowe, an officer worth learning more about.

Combat photographer in the midst of battle.

Combat photographer in the midst of battle.

These posts do not even barely cover the battles for Tarawa.  Ironically, or maybe even by design, the island is the exact size of the Pentagon and its parking lots.  This information was learned in “Utmost Savagery” by Col. Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Ret.).  I chose this as a reference because the author cross-referenced new data with the old, personal papers and Japanese sources of the “Senshi Sosho”.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Ole Sad Sack

Ole Sad Sack

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Farewell Salutes – 

Edwin Bisinger – Westchester, IL; US Army, WWII, 7th Division

Arthur Feinman – Englishtown, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 188th/11th Airborne

George Gould – Waikato, NZ; RNZ Army # 639114, J Force945925_391409037634955_1621483807_n

Lester Kluting – Peacock, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO

Herbert Maier – MA & FL; US Army, Korea

Cecil Runner – Parsons, WVA; US Navy, WWII, USS Bataan, mechanic

Eulis Pemberton – Claredon, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII/USAF (Ret. 28 Yrs), Korea & Vietnam

Russell Steiner – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, Vietnam

Cyrus Thatcher – UK; British Military, Afghanistan, The 2nd Rifles, KIA

Tony Valencia – Wilmington, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

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Tarawa (1)

LVT out of commission.

LVT out of commission.

The Battle of Tarawa was one of the more terrible American experiences in the Pacific theatre of World War Two. It was one that would shape the future of amphibious assaults.

In late 1943, the United States launched attacks in the central Pacific. These were meant to speed up victory in the war by drawing Japanese forces away from larger offensives. The Tarawa atoll, part of the Gilbert Islands, was one of the targets of this advance.

Tarawa is made of fifteen small islands in the shape of a triangle, their total land area only twelve square miles. In the center is a lagoon, and reefs shelter many parts of the atoll. The British, who had governed the atoll before the war, were remarkably ill-informed about it. All their maps were over a century old, and they had no records of the tides and currents in the surrounding sea. Aerial reconnaissance provided some information about the islands and the Japanese defenses, but the attack would still be launched through a fog of ignorance.

The Japanese defenses included 200 artillery pieces. Thanks to the small, flat, featureless nature of the island, almost all of them could hit almost every one of its beaches. At the tops of those beaches were walls of palm logs and wire up to five feet high, behind them rifle pits and machine-guns. Behind those were fortified machine-gun emplacements of coral, logs and reinforced concrete, hidden with sand. And beyond those were pillboxes holding anti-tank guns and field guns.

USMC-M-Tarawa-5-640x297

Landing on Betio

The 2nd Marines, who would head the landings on 20 November, believed that it was going to be a piece of cake. They could not have been more wrong.

On the night of 19 November, things started going wrong. Strong currents created chaos as troops transferred to their landing craft. Overnight air raids had not taken out the shore batteries as they were expected to. On the command ship, the USS Maryland, vibrations from the ship’s guns took out the communications equipment, disrupting coordination between the naval and air attacks and reducing their effectiveness.

At ten past nine in the morning, the first troops reached the island. Facing little resistance, they ran up the beaches to the barrier of the log wall. All bombardment had ended ten minutes before, and the Japanese had had time to recover. Now facing ready defenders, most of the Americans became pinned down outside the wall.

Reefs surrounded many of the beaches 800 to 1,200 yards out. The water above them was shallower than the Americans had hoped, and most of the Amtracs became stuck. The soldiers had to disembark and wade ashore under enemy fire, some of them vanishing into holes in the reef and drowning. Officers and NCOs led the way and most were killed, leaving the troops leaderless. Communications equipment became waterlogged and failed. Troops became scattered by Japanese fire.

One of the problems with the operation was a lack of sufficient transports. Even as the second wave of men was landing, and with them the first tanks, the Amtracs were being sent back for more men. The numbers that should have given the Americans a huge advantage were not in place until late on.

Fighting on Betio, Tarawa

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To be continued….

(The main fighting was on Betio (rhymes with ratio); but the pronunciation was difficult over the radios, so the battles became known by the the name of the atoll – Tarawa.]

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Edward Byers, US Navy SEAL, received his Medal of Honor…

Edward Byers

Edward Byers

 

 

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/navy-seal-edward-byers-breaks-secrecy-receive-medal-honor-n527971

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Military Humor – 

Old Sad Sack

Old Sad Sack

The funnier side of army life.

The funnier side of army life.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Charles Altman – Birmingham, AL; US Army, WWII & Korea

Randolph Chavez – Hayden, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTOArlington_Burial_Worl_Smit_2_t755_h8a94edf1cc6e40113d3605995d57b0e00c11f81c

Oscar Flick – Norton, IN; US Army, WWII

William Henehan – Bobota, NJ; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

George Kennedy – NYC, NY; US Army (16 years), Capt., (Beloved actor)

Glenn Morehouse – St. Belen, NM; US Navy, WWII

Ronald Paulsen – Masterton, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 435335, WWII

Lawrence Schiller – Calgary, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Raymond Tronzo – Punxsutawney, PA; US Army Air Corps, Korea

Don Willoughby – Detroit, MI; US Navy, WWII

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Click on still images to enlarge.

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Current News

Marines come home.

Marines come home.

Remains of Missing WWII Veterans Return

Story courtesy of KHON.com & info from “Goodbye Darkness” by William Manchester

PEARL HARBOR (KHON2) — 39 U.S. marines who were missing in action during World War II were honored in a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor- Hickam on July 26th.

These veterans were reunited with their families after 72 years as unidentified remains. After the Battle of Tarawa during World War II the marines were considered to be missing in action.

Crews of scientists, historians, and surveyors from the non-profit History Flight have combed through Tarawa for the past decade. This is considered to be the largest recovery of missing in action veterans ever recorded.

Four of the veterans received the Medal of Honor; including 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Jr.  Bonnyman, an engineer officer, along with 5 of his men, were responsible for approximately 200 enemy KIA, including the commanding Japanese admiral.  A link explaining the actions of Medal of Honor winner Bonnyman.

“We stand here humbled before you today to receive, honor and commemorate our fallen courageous Marine Corps warriors who on the field of battle fought and died to preserve our freedom,” Capt. Mark Hendricks, U.S. Marine Corps Pacific Chaplain, told KHON.

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Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor

USS Oklahoma – Pearl Harbor

HONOLULU (AP) — The military on Monday exhumed more caskets containing the unidentified remains of USS Oklahoma crew members killed in the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency disinterred five coffins from four grave sites at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, where they have rested for decades. The work is part of an effort announced in April to account for up to 388 Oklahoma sailors and Marines still classified as missing.

The cemetery and the military allowed media to observe a ceremony afterward during which flags were draped over the coffins. An honor guard and cemetery staff transported the coffins to trucks that carried the remains to a laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Michael Linnington, a retired Army lieutenant general who currently leads the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, told reporters the lab in Hawaii will identify some remains using dental records. The remains will then be sent to another lab in Omaha for DNA analysis.

He said family members of those missing are eager to have their fathers, grandfathers and uncles identified.  “They want their loved ones home, and we’re happy to help them in that process,” Linnington said.

The Oklahoma identification project involves disinterring 61 caskets at 45 grave sites at the Honolulu cemetery commonly known as Punchbowl. About 15 caskets have been exhumed.

The Oklahoma capsized after being hit by torpedoes during the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack. Altogether, 429 sailors and Marines on board were killed. Only 35 were identified in the years immediately after.

Hundreds were buried as unknowns at cemeteries in Hawaii. In 1950, they were reburied as unknowns at Punchbowl.  The military is acting now, more than 70 years after the men died, because advances in forensic science and technology as well as genealogical help from family members have made it possible to identify more remains.

The agency expects to identify about 80 percent of Oklahoma crew members now considered missing. It expects the work will take about five years.

Some of analysis will conducted at the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

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Christmas in July

Story condensed from the Palm Beach Post by Olivia Hitchcock

Last Saturday, over 30 volunteers from Florida Power & Light Co. packed 300 boxes filled with donated goods to send to US troops.  They gathered in the Forgotten Soldiers Outreach warehouse to stuff boxes with a bit of holiday cheer for a Christmas in July.

Each month, the nonprofit Forgotten Soldiers Outreach aims to send out care packages to the 1,000 or so soldiers registered with the program.  Most often it is the Chaplains officers and family who register the servicemen.  But soldiers do sign themselves up too, “which shows you that they’re looking for that little bit of home.”

The online registration asks for deployment dates, an address and any specific requests.  The organization is asked for anything from Kleenex to socks to beef jerky.  The org. works with companies, schools and families to get these boxes filled and shipped out.

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Christmas in July aims to let the soldiers know they haven’t been forgotten – Merry Christmas to ALL our servicemen – from Pacific Paratrooper!!

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A Hero’s Welcome Home 

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 4ed5de7f2a51efbf9924b76307f63e26

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Birk – Port Washington, NY; US Army, WWII, CBI

John Cumpstone – Otorohanga, NZ; 11th Reinforcements # 448794, WWIIAS YOU SLEEP

Ted Earle – Toronto, CAN & FL; Merchant Marine, WWII/RC Navy, Korea, HMCS Haida

Branislav Kapitan – Cheshire, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, radio operator/gunner

Frank Miale – Johnston, RI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Sgt., 82nd Airborne, Purple Heart

Michael Runyun – Newark, OH; US Army, Lt., Iraq, 25th Infantry Division

Jimmie Smith – Milton, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 457th Artillery (Ret. 21 years)

Jordon Tuttle – W.Monroe, LA; US Army, Iraq, 256 Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Sgt.

Daren Vick – Great Falls, MT; US Army, Korea, 340th Engineer Regiment

Margaret Wood – UK & Louisville, KY; British Royal Air Force, WWII

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