Medal of Honor – Iwo Jima

Defining a Hero

Jack Lummus - MOH

       FIRST LIEUTENANT JACK LUMMUS,  USMC RESERVE
CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR,  WWII

As  individuals of distinguished courage or ability, duly recognized for valiant service and  heroic qualities,  they  fearlessly  sacrifice  for  a  higher purpose.

First Lieutenant Jack Lummus, Iwo Jima 1945

—————————————

Awarded posthumously to First Lieutenant Jack Lummus for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, at the risk of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty….He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.

Leader of a Rifle Platoon attached to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, he was killed in action against Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, March 8, 1945, at the age of 29 and the only son of four children.

Living his dream as a member of the NFL’s New York Giants, he had enlisted following the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor.  In a letter to his mother, Lummus’ commanding officer wrote:

Jack suffered very little for he didn’t live long.  I saw Jack soon after he was hit.  With calmness, serenity and complacency, Jack said, ‘The New York Giants lost a good man.’ We all lost a good man.

 

Jack Lummus-NFL NY Giants-2

 

His citation for heroic actions may be viewed  at  the National Medal of Honor Museum of Military History,  Jack Lummus, MOH, and reads as follows:

 ———————————

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to

FIRST LIEUTENANT JACK LUMMUS
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

                                                For service as set forth in the following

CITATION

MOH Citation-1MOH Citation-2

(signed) Harry S. Truman

 

Medal of Honor-3

         Congressional Medal of Honor

The highest award for valor in action against an enemy force, bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.  Awarded to its recipient by the President in the name of Congress, it is commonly a posthumous medal presented to those who have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life and above and beyond the call of duty.

Created by a Resolution signed into law by President Lincoln on December 21, 1861, the first Medals of Honor were presented over 150 years ago, March 25, 1863, to soldiers during the Civil War.  The President, in the name of Congress, has awarded more than 3,400 Medals of Honor to our nation’s bravest Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen since the decoration’s creation.

———————————

In Profound Gratitude for their Commitment

and Sacrifice on our Behalf

 

Posted in Veterans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Raising the Flag

Iwo Jima

Marine Corps War Memorial  Arlington, Virginia

Marine Corps War Memorial
Arlington, Virginia

 February 23, 1945

Five U.S. Marines and a Navy Corpsman raise the American flag
in the Battle of Iwo Jima

Regarded  as one of the most significant and recognizable images of WWII, three Marines depicted in the photograph would be killed in action during the next few days.   The photo was later used by Felix de Weldon to sculpt the Marine Corps War Memorial, dedicated in 1954, in honor and memory of all Marines who have given their lives for their country.

Commissioned to design the memorial in 1951, it would take three years and hundreds of assistants to complete the iconic image.  The flag-raising survivors would pose for de Weldon who would then sculpt the others from photographs.

Mount Suribachi  The dominant geographical feature of the island of Iwo Jima U.S. Navy Photo

Mount Suribachi
The dominant geographical feature of the island of Iwo Jima
U.S. Navy Photo

On February 19, 1945, the United States invaded Iwo Jima as part of  its strategy to defeat Japan.  Although not originally a target, the relatively swift fall of the Philippines provided a tactical opportunity prior to the planned invasion of Okinawa.   Iwo Jima was used by the Japanese to alert the  homeland of incoming American planes and was located  between Japan and the Mariana Islands, a base for long-range American bombers.  Following the capture of the island, America weakened the Japanese early warning system and provided an emergency landing strip for damaged bombers.

A volcanic  island,  Iwo Jima was heavily fortified and the invading U.S. Marines suffered high casualties.   The elevation of Mount Suribachi’s 546-foot dormant cone was a tremendous artillery vantage  point for the Japanese  against our forces – particularly the landing beaches.  As a necessity, American effort thus concentrated on isolating and capturing Suribachi, a goal achieved on February 23, 1945 with the raising of the American flag,  four days after the battle commenced.

As the first Japanese homeland-soil secured  by Americans, it had been a matter of honor for the Japanese to prevent its capture.  Despite  our success in reaching Suribachi, the battle continued to rage for 31 days until March 26.  The 35-day assault would ultimately result in more than 26,000 American casualties, including 6,800 deaths.

“Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue”

Posted in Veterans | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Eternal Remembrance

December 7, 1941

USN Pearl Harbor Survivor, Bill Johnson (January 20, 2004) Wall of Casualties – USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.   "To the memory of the gallant men here entombed and their shipmates  who gave their lives in action on December 7, 1941 on the USS Arizona" (U.S. Navy Photo)

USN Pearl Harbor Survivor, Bill Johnson (January 20, 2004)
Wall of Casualties – USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
“To the memory of the gallant men here entombed and their shipmates
who gave their lives in action on December 7, 1941 on the USS Arizona”
(U.S. Navy Photo)

In Service and Sacrifice

The very soul of a nation is its heroes”

Posted in Veterans | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Honoring Our Veterans

For Love of Country

Statue of Liberty-2

They Serve

Joint Services

They Sacrifice

Gratitude-5

and

We Honor Their Commitment

Commitment

Their Valor

Unknown Soldier-2

In Gratitude For Our Freedom

U.S. flag

 Veterans Day 2014

—————————

“Never in the history of the world has anyone sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of all “

—————————

Posted in Veterans | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Uncommon Valor – June 6, 1944

WWII cemetery and memorial honoring American troops who died in Europe during WWII. Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France.

WWII cemetery and memorial honoring American troops who died in Europe during WWII.
Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France.

NORMANDY

——————–

For Those Recognized To All

 

Normandy Marker-known to all

 

And Those Only Known To One

 

Normandy Marker-known to one

 

 “Lord, where did we get such men?”

 

Veterans and dignitaries gather to hear the D-day service at Bayeux cathedral in France.  Photograph: Reuters

Veterans and dignitaries gather for D-Day service at Bayeux Cathedral in France.  June 6, 2014
Photograph: Reuters

In Eternal Reverence and Gratitude

Sunrise on Omaha Beach at Normandy, France.  June 6, 2014 (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Sunrise on Omaha Beach at Normandy, France on the 70th Anniversary. June 6, 2014
(AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

 For Your Sacrifice on Behalf of Freedom

—————————

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty.”

John F. Kennedy

 

Posted in Veterans | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Nation Honors WWII Heroes

Orders in hand, Navy Capt. Marc A. Mitscher, USS Hornet skipper, chats with Lt. Col. James Doolittle, attack group leader of the Army Air Forces.  The group of fliers, in coordination between the two services, carried the battle of the Pacific to the heart of the Japanese empire with a daring raid on military targets in major Japanese cities.  The USS Hornet carried the 16 North American B-25 bombers to within take-off distances of the Japanese Islands.               (U.S. Navy photo)

Orders in hand, Navy Capt. Marc A. Mitscher, USS Hornet skipper, chats with Lt. Col. James Doolittle, attack group leader of the Army Air Forces. The group of fliers, in coordination between the two services, carried the battle of the Pacific to the heart of the Japanese empire with a daring raid on military targets in major Japanese cities. The USS Hornet carried the 16 North American B-25 bombers to within take-off distances of the Japanese Islands.
(U.S. Navy photo)

————————–

In long overdue recognition, Doolittle Tokyo Raiders of WWII have been honored with  a Congressional Gold Medal.   Bestowed for their tremendous valor and sacrifice at a pivotal point in our military history, it is one of our nation’s highest awards.

Congressional Gold Signing-DTR  May 23 14

 Congressional Gold Medal Text

————————–

Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, provoked a responsive Declaration of War, as Americans enlisted and Doolittle Tokyo Raiders  prepared  a retaliatory strike.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his "Day of Infamy" speech to Congress December 8, 1941 (U.S. Government - U.S. Archives)

President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his “Day of Infamy” speech to Congress
December 8, 1941
(U.S. National Archives)

President Roosevelt signing the declaration of war against Japan on December 8, 1941 in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. (National Archives and Records Administration - Abbie Rowe) (National Archives and Records Administration

President Roosevelt signing the declaration of war against Japan on December 8, 1941 in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
(National Archives and Records Administration)

On April 18, 1942, fueled by the need for action in the devastating aftermath of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. launched a daring and dangerous air raid over Tokyo and a risky endeavor for safe passage of these men.   Eighty airmen, in volunteering for an unspecified and highly classified operation, willingly accepted the inherent danger.

Recruited from the Army Air Force, 17th Bombardment Group, they were among the first to receive B-25 medium bombers, integral for the mission, and some of the finest pilots from 35 states.  Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, aviation legend and attack group leader, would oversee the operation and a maneuver never previously attempted – launching B-25 bombers from a carrier deck.   Following a mere  three weeks of simulated practice, the mission moved forward.   Highly cloaked in secrecy, the destination  remained unknown to the airmen until briefed at sea.

Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, Crew No. 1: 34th Bombardment Squadron, Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, pilot; Lt. Richard E. Cole, copilot; Lt. Henry A. Potter, navigator; SSgt. Fred A. Braemer, bombardier; SSgt. Paul J. Leonard, flight engineer/gunner.    (U.S. Air Force photo) Lt. Cole, at the age of 98, is one of four surviving Tokyo Raiders.

Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, Crew No. 1: 34th Bombardment Squadron, Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, pilot; Lt. Richard E. Cole, copilot; Lt. Henry A. Potter, navigator; SSgt. Fred A. Braemer, bombardier; SSgt. Paul J. Leonard, flight engineer/gunner. (U.S. Air Force photo)   Lt. Cole, at the age of 98, is one of four surviving Tokyo Raiders.

Passing beneath the Golden Gate on the carrier USS Hornet, as the waves of  thousands cheered their departure, the hearts and hopes of a nation sailed for those sacrificed at Pearl Harbor.  10,000 Navy personnel and a task force of ships would deliver 16 B-25 bombers and 80 crewmen within striking distance of Japan.   In a high-risk launching of bombers in the western Pacific, they were all prime targets for Japanese  forces.

B-25 bombers on the flight deck of the USS Hornet en route to the mission's launching point for the Tokyo Raid. One of the escorting cruisers, the USS Nashville, is seen in the distance. (U.S. Navy photo)

B-25 bombers on the flight deck of the USS Hornet en route to the mission’s launching point for the Tokyo Raid.
One of the escorting cruisers, the USS Nashville, is seen in the distance.
(U.S. Navy photo)

Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, USAAF  Wires a Japanese "friendship"medal to a bomb, for "return" to its originators in the first U.S. air raid on the Japanese Home Islands, April 1942. Photographed on board the USS Hornet, shortly before B-25 bombers were launched to attack Japan. U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph

Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, USAAF
Wires Japanese “friendship” medal to a bomb for “return” to its originators in first U.S. air raid on the Japanese Home Islands, April 1942. Photographed on board the USS Hornet, shortly before B-25 bombers launched to attack Japan.
(U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph)

Ultimately detected, hours prior to the planned raid and further out to sea than safely dictated, immediate action was demanded of the airmen.  Swiftly launching one by one in near gale force winds from a wildly heaving carrier deck, the bombers flew low over water toward Japan.  Their targets were industrial and military installations with planned escape to Chinese airfields unoccupied by the Japanese.

With fuel consumption a major concern, as well as threat of anti-aircraft fire and enemy interception, it was likely a one-way flight for these unescorted planes.   In the end, low on fuel with approaching night and deteriorating weather, none of the 16  bombers would reach their prearranged landings.

Lt. Col. Doolittle's B-25, the first of 16 bombers taking off from USS Hornet - 18 April 1942 (U.S. Navy photo)

Lt. Col. Doolittle’s B-25, the first of 16 bombers taking off from USS Hornet – 18 April 1942
(U.S. Navy photo)

Departure from the deck of the USS HORNET of an Army B-25 on its way to take part in first U.S. air raid on Japan. Doolittle Raid, April 1942. National Archives and Records Administration

Departure from the deck of the USS HORNET of an Army B-25 on its way to take part in first U.S. air raid on Japan. Doolittle Raid, April 1942.
(National Archives and Records Administration)

The attack, as predicted, was not without sacrifice.  Although most would survive, one would lose his life in bailing over China and two by ditching off the China coast.   Three of eight airmen, captured by Japanese, were ultimately executed.  A fourth perished in a Japanese prison.   All  having suffered harsh interrogation,  the remaining  captives  endured severe and prolonged confinement over three years.  Four others, seriously injured in the raid and rescued by Chinese, were treated dangerously close to Japanese  searching units.  One would linger hospitalized until 1943, while another crew of five, forced to land in Russia, was imprisoned for 14 months.

Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, USAAF, (center) with members of his flight crew and Chinese officials in China after the 18 April 1942 attack on Japan. (U.S. Army Air Forces Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center)

Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, USAAF, (center) with members of his flight crew and Chinese officials in China after the 18 April 1942 attack on Japan.
(U.S. Army Air Forces Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center)

U.S. Army Air Force Lt. Robert L. Hite, blindfolded by his captors, is led from a Japanese transport plane after he and seven other flyers were flown from Shanghai to Tokyo. Hite was co-pilot of crew 16, 34th Bomb Squadron, of the "Doolittle Raiders".  After 45 days in Japan, all eight were returned to China by ship and imprisoned in Shanghai.  On 15 October 1942 three were executed, one died in captivity. The four others, including Hite, were eventually liberated on 20 August 1945.  (U.S. Air Force photo)  Today, Lt. Col. Hite is one of only four surviving Tokyo Raiders.

U.S. Army Air Force Lt. Robert L. Hite, blindfolded by his captors, is led from a Japanese transport plane after he and seven other flyers were flown from Shanghai to Tokyo. Hite was co-pilot of crew 16, 34th Bomb Squadron, of the “Doolittle Raiders.” After 45 days in Japan, all eight were returned to China by ship and imprisoned in Shanghai. On 15 October 1942 three were executed, one died in captivity. The four others, including Hite, were eventually liberated on 20 August 1945. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Lt. Col. Hite is one of only four surviving Tokyo Raiders.

Essentially all 16 bombers inevitably were lost.  Of the 15 reaching China, 11 were destroyed during bail-outs and 1 crash-landing, while 3 were ditched at sea.  The remaining bomber, seriously low on fuel, was confiscated upon reaching Russia.

Despite the minimal effect of the bombing, the mission proved a definitive success in its reciprocal lesson of vulnerability which took a toll on Imperial Japan and its military strategy.  The undertaking by these Raiders, which greatly boosted American and Allied morale, would generate strategic benefits for the U.S. in the Battle of Midway and disaster for the Japanese.

————————————

With the loss of all 16 aircraft, Doolittle believed  the raid had been a failure and court-martial faced him upon return to the states.  To the contrary, promoted to General, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Roosevelt in a White House presentation.  A number of pilots would receive the Distinguished Flying Cross. 

While the raid created a tremendous boost to American morale which had plunged following the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor,  the psychological effect on Japan was even greater than anticipated.  The intrusion into Japanese airspace created serious doubts in the minds of their war planners.    Their repositioning of seasoned fighter-plane units, in defense of their homeland, would weaken Japan’s air capabilities in the upcoming Battle of Midway and other South Pacific campaigns.

—————————————-

Lt. Edgar McElroy, Pilot #13 – A Personal Account of the Training and Mission

—————————————-

In Eternal Remembrance

December 7, 1941

USN Pearl Harbor Survivor, Bill Johnson (January 20, 2004) Wall of Casualties – USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.   "To the memory of the gallant men here entombed and their shipmates  who gave their lives in action on December 7, 1941 on the USS Arizona" (U.S. Navy Photo)

USN Pearl Harbor Survivor, Bill Johnson (January 20, 2004)
Wall of Casualties – USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
“To the memory of the gallant men here entombed and their shipmates
who gave their lives in action on December 7, 1941 on the USS Arizona”
(U.S. Navy Photo)

—————————————

“The very soul of a nation is its heroes”

Posted in Veterans | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

In Profound Gratitude

Memorial Grounds-8

 In Memory of Supreme Sacrifice for Country

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them.

“Ode of Remembrance” from Laurence Binyon’s poem, “For the Fallen” (1914)

———————————-

“The very soul of a nation is its heroes”

PFC Joel Ramirez-off the plane

Their sacrifices, their pain, their selfless courage must continue to burn like an eternal     flame in our memory.
                                                             Gen. Colin Powell

PFC Joel Ramirez carried home

When we mourn for such men who have died, ….we should thank God that such men were born.
                                                           Gen. George S. Patton Jr.

PFC Welcomed Home

If a nation is to be great, if a nation truly is to be the land of the free, then it also must be the home of the brave.
                                                              Gen. Paul X. Kelley

Military Honor Guard

“In visiting the graves and family, in reading the headstones and creating a mind’s vision of these veterans, they are all so much more than merely a listed name.”

Veteran Markers

———————————-

PFC Joel Ramirez-Memorial

We were soldiers once and young…Remember us.”

———————————

 Flags Unfurled

For their sense of duty continues to preserve our past, safeguard our present, and sustain our future.

PFC Joel Ramirez-US flag

“We stand on the backs of their sacrifice. Their history is our tradition, as long as there are Americans to remember…”

In Profound Gratitude

Memorial Day
May 26, 2014

——————————————————————

My  Own Veteran Father

PT Boat-161 Skipper – WWII

John Edwin McElroy-gravesite marker

and his

Family Veterans

 

Posted in Veterans | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments