Final Combat Mission – Aug 14, 1945

 In Memoriam

Captain Jerry Yellin, USAAF
1942-1945

Captain Jerry Yellin, American fighter pilot, flew the final combat mission of WWII in targeting a military-airfield near Tokyo on August 14, 1945.

 

North American P-51 Mustang
A long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II

 

Yellin had enlisted in the United States Army Air Force on his 18th birthday, February 2, 1942, following Japan’s devastating attack on Pearl Harbor. After his graduation from Luke Air Field as a fighter pilot in August of 1943, he would spend the remainder of the war flying P-40, P-47 and P-51 combat missions in the Pacific Theater with the 78th Fighter Squadron.

Subsequently, upon Emperor Hirohito’s refusal two years later to surrender following the August 9, 1945 atomic-bomb drop on Nagasaki, Captain Yellin and their 16-plane squadron flew a combat mission over the Japanese city of Nagoya on August 14th. Upon landing on Iwo Jima, eight hours later, they learned the war had ended and their final combat mission had been flown.  While in the air, news of the unconditional surrender by Japan had failed to reach the pilots and the order to abort was never received. On this final flight, Yellin’s wing-man, Phillip Schlamberg, would be the last man killed in combat in WWII.

Having lost 16 fellow servicemen, Captain Yellin struggled in the postwar world but would become an advocate for vets suffering from PTSD.  With his co-founding of the organization, Operation Warrior Shield, he dedicated his efforts in later years toward veterans and first responders in overcoming their post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

In Gratitude for your Service

Jerry Yellin
American Patriot

February 15, 1924 – December 21, 2017

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Patton’s Prayer – Dec 22, 1944

Gen George S. Patton Jr

Gen George S. Patton Jr
Lieutenant General
Commanding, Third United States Army

Many know the story of General Patton’s prayer for better weather in order to more efficiently kill the Germans in the winter of 1944.  Few know of his Christmas Greeting that was issued along with the prayer.

Contrary to popular belief, the prayer was not ordered to be written during the Battle of the Bulge.  It was on the 14th of December that General Patton had the famous exchange with Chaplain O’Neill to write a prayer for good weather and to give a copy to each member of the Third Army. The Chaplain mentioned that it’s not a customary practice to pray for clear weather in order to kill fellow men.

Patton’s response was direct, “Chaplain, are you teaching me theology or are you the Chaplain of the Third Army?  I want a prayer.”

After working out the logistics, each member of the Third Army (approximately 250,000 at the time) was issued a small card on the 22nd of December, 1944. By this time, the Battle of the Bulge was underway.

On one side of the card was the famous prayer:

Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend.  Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.

When Patton originally ordered the cards made, some of the General’s men convinced him to include a Christmas greeting for the troops. It was at this time Patton took a seat at his desk beneath the contemporary ceiling fans and penned something special. On the reverse side, the card had a personal message from the General:

To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I wish a Merry Christmas.  I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle.  May God’s blessing rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day.

G. S. Patton, Jr.
Lieutenant General
Commanding, Third United States Army

The next day, the weather cleared and remained perfect for about six days while the Third Army pushed North to relieve the 101st Airborne at Bastogne.

Upon reviewing the weather, Patton said of the Chaplain, “God damn! Look at the weather. That O’Neill sure did some potent praying. Get him up here. I want to pin a medal on him.”

The next day, the Chaplain made it to Patton’s office.  He shook the Chaplain’s hand and said, “Chaplain, you’re the most popular man in this Headquarters. You sure stand in good with the Lord and the soldiers.” Chaplain O’Neill then received a Bronze Star Medal.

On Christmas Day, Patton wrote in his journal that the day “dawned clear and cold; lovely weather for killing Germans, although the thought seemed somewhat at variance with the spirit of the day.”  Patton went on to write how they managed to provide every soldier with turkey. Those in the front had turkey sandwiches while everyone else had hot turkey.

Merry Christmas

Author, Scott Manning
American Military Historian

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Patriotism Endures

Van T. Barfoot
Second Lieutenant, US Army

 

A Good Man to Remember
Author Unknown

Van T. Barfoot Died…

Remember the guy who wouldn’t take the flagpole down on his Virginia property?  You might remember the news story several months ago about a crotchety old man in Virginia who defied his local Homeowners Association in refusing to remove the flag pole and large American flag he flew.

 

Now we learn that old man’s identity

On June 15, 1919, Van T. Barfoot was born in Edinburg, Texas. That probably didn’t make the news back then. Twenty-five years later, however, he would.  On May 23, 1944 near Carano, Italy, that same Barfoot, who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1940, set out alone to flank German machine-gun positions and their gunfire raining down on fellow soldiers. Although his advance took him through a minefield, he proceeded to single-handedly take out three enemy machine-gun positions and return with 17 prisoners of war.

If that wasn’t enough for a day’s work,
he later took on and destroyed three German tanks
sent to retake their machine gun positions.

 

 

That probably didn’t make much news either,
given the scope of the war, but did earn Van T. Barfoot, later
a retired Colonel who also served in Korea and Vietnam,
a well-deserved Congressional Medal of Honor.

 

 

What did make news…
was his Neighborhood Association’s quibble
with how the 90-year-old veteran chose to fly the
American flag outside his suburban Virginia home.

Seems the HOA rules indicated it was acceptable
to fly a flag on a house-mounted bracket, but, for decorum,
items such as Barfoot’s  21-foot flagpole were “unsuitable.”

 

 

Van Barfoot was denied a permit for the pole
but chose to erect it anyway and faced court action,
unless he agreed to take it down.

 

 

Then the HOA story made national TV
and the Neighborhood Association rethought its position,
agreeing to indulge this aging hero
who dwelt among them.

 

 

“In the time I have left,” he said to the Associated Press,
“I plan to continue to fly the
American flag without interference.”

As well he should.

If any of his neighbors had taken a notion
to contest him further, they might have done well
to read his Medal of Honor citation first.
Seems it indicates Mr. Van Barfoot
wasn’t particularly good at backing down.

 

Van T. Barfoot – MOH

 

 

God Bless the Enduring Allegiance of our Veterans
for their Country and its Flag

Veterans Day
2017

In Gratitude for their Service

 

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Japan Surrenders – Sept 2, 1945

The Japanese delegation approaches the USS Missouri for the formal surrender ceremony
2 September, 1945

Although the surrender of Imperial Japan was announced on August 15, 1945, the hostilities of World War II ended with the formal signing aboard the USS Missouri on September 2nd.

Representatives of the Empire of Japan stand aboard the USS Missouri prior to signing the Instrument of Surrender
2 September, 1945

Japanese representatives present for the surrender ceremonies included Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu (wearing top hat) and General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff.   Behind them were three representatives each of the Foreign Ministry, the Army, and the Navy.

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander,
on board the USS Missouri for the surrender ceremony
Tokyo Bay, 2 September 1945

General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander, opened the surrender ceremonies with his speech.  Representatives of the Allied Powers in attendance included the United Kingdom, Soviet Union, Australia, Canada, France, The Netherlands, New Zealand, China, and other U.S. representatives.  The framed flag in upper left was flown by Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s flagship when she entered Tokyo Bay in 1853.

Among General MacArthur’s remarks:

“It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past—a world founded upon faith and understanding—a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish—for freedom, tolerance and justice.

The terms and conditions upon which the surrender of the Japanese Imperial Forces is here to be given and accepted are contained in the Instrument of Surrender now before you.

As Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, I announce my firm purpose, in the tradition of the countries I represent, to proceed in the discharge of my responsibilities with justice and tolerance, while taking all necessary dispositions to insure that the terms of surrender are fully, promptly and faithfully complied with.”

When the assembled representatives of the Allied Powers and of Japan had finished signing the agreements, General MacArthur stated:

“Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always.”

Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on board the USS Missouri, assisted by Foreign Ministry representative Toshikazu Kase. as General Richard K. Sutherland watches.
2 September, 1945

With the conclusion of the surrender ceremony, 450 carrier planes from the Third Fleet flew in massed formation over the USS Missouri and minutes later were followed by Army Air Force B-29 bombers.   This massive and impressive display reflected the power which led Japan and the Allies to this point in history.

With the jubilation of V-E Day and Germany’s unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945, followed by Japan’s on August 15th and the formal Instrument of Surrender on September 2nd, the United States and its Allies celebrated the end of World War II.

American military personnel celebrate in Paris with news of the Japanese surrender
15 August, 1945

A crowd in New York City’s Times Square celebrates the unconditional surrender of Japan
15 August, 1945
National Archives Image

The British celebrate the end of WWII in Montreal, Canada
8 May, 1945

Winston Churchill Waves to Crowd After V-E Day and End of War in Europe
8 May, 1945

Parisians march through the Arc de Triomphe jubilantly waving flags of the Allied Nations
as they celebrate the end of World War II
8 May, 1945

General Dwight D. Eisenhower waves to cheering crowds in New York City Times Square
19 June, 1945

Decades later, a WWII soldier salutes a WWII general

WWII soldier Sgt. Major Robert Blaknit salutes gravesite marker of General George S. Patton, Jr.
Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial
Hamm , Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
2014

Sgt. Major Blaknit, who landed with 900 men on D-Day, had only 400 remaining under his command the next morning.   Decades later when revisiting that site, as he knelt where he had landed,  he prayed for the souls of the men who did not survive.

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 “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.  I do not shrink from this responsibility.  I welcome it.”                                                                                                                                                                       John F. Kennedy

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 The Greatest Generation defended that freedom with great valor

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One Nation Indivisible

Let us remember the true meaning of this day and our country’s principles

United States Declaration of Independence
Signed by the Continental Congress
July 4, 1776

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

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 A Beacon of Hope for Immigrants

Statue of Liberty
Liberty Island
New York City, New York
Dedicated October 28, 1886.
A gift to the United States from the people of France.

  “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me…”

Sonnet by Emma Lazarus – 1883

Inscribed in the base of the Statue of Liberty

Immigrants on an Atlantic liner bound for New York and the United States
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

A Defender of  Democracy

United States Military Joint Services

The Old Guard transports a flag-draped casket in full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery

Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool
The National Mall, Washington, D.C.

America the Beautiful

A poem penned by poet Katharine Lee Bates, a professor at Wellesley, during a trip to Pike’s Peak in 1893 and inspired by the beautiful expanse she viewed.  Later printed in a weekly newspaper, The Congregationalist, on July 4, 1895, Bates’ patriotic words were soon set to music composed by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward at Grace Episcopal Church in Newark, New Jersey.   First published in 1910, it remains today as one of America’s most beloved patriotic songs.

Pike’s Peak
The highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in North America. The ultra-prominent 14,115-foot mountain located in Pike National Forest near Colorado Springs, Colorado

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America!  America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America!  America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America!  America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

 

Plaque commemorating Katharine Lee Bates’ inspirational poem
“America the Beautiful”
Placed at the summit of Pike’s Peak

Grace Church in Newark, New Jersey
Historical marker noting location where Samuel Ward, organist and choirmaster, wrote and perfected his tune “Materna” for Katherine Lee Bates’ poem, “America the Beautiful.”
Image by Max Woolley

4th of July fireworks Washington D.C.

 God Bless America

One Nation under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All

Independence Day

July 4, 2017

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A Family Hero – 17 February 1945

MEMORIAL DAY

We commemorate family members with pride, love, and sorrow for their ultimate sacrifice in service.

Lt. Rufus Newton Wilson, U.S. Army Air Corps, B-26 Marauder Pilot
456th Bomb Squadron, 323rd Bomb Group

Entering the Air Corps in 1940, Rufus Wilson served in England, Ireland, France and Germany.

LT Rufus Newton Wilson (1st on Left) and Crew Members
12 June 1944

Wounded in action on a B-26 mission in the Battle of Remagen during the Allied invasion of Germany, his aircraft burst into flames from heavy flak on February 14, 1945.  Lt Wilson would survive the crash and later die of his injuries in a German hospital at Krefeld on February 17.

WWII American Medium Bomber B-26 Marauder

Recipient of the Air Medal and Purple Heart, Lt. Wilson was additionally awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, presented for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.

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  To Family Veterans in All the Joint Services

Eternal Reverence and Gratitude

 For Your Sacrifice on Behalf of Freedom

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…For Your Tomorrow,
We Gave Our Today

Kohima Epitaph

Rufus Newton Wilson

Your Family has Missed your Presence in our Lives

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Remembering Pearl Harbor

December 7, 1941

Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was a defining moment for our country and  propelled the United States into World War II.   Millions of Americans prepared to  enlist and serve for the devastation and losses suffered.

Americans enlist following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 Time & Life Pictures / Getty Image

Americans enlist following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941
Time & Life Pictures / Getty Image

With twenty-one American naval vessels and over three hundred aircraft damaged or destroyed,  Japanese  bombardment  killed 2,403 military personnel and civilians and shattered the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Following an afternoon of monitoring the crisis, President Roosevelt would begin  preparing  a message for Congress.  Though drafted in haste, FDR’s words galvanized the nation with his historic speech.

“December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy

With confidence in our armed forces—with the unbounding determination of our people—we will gain the inevitable triumph- so help us God.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum 
President Franklin D. Roosevelt Delivering his "Day of Infamy" speech to Congress for a declaration of war December 8, 1941 (U.S. Government - U.S. Archives)

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Addresses Congress for a Declaration of War
December 8, 1941
(U.S. Government – U.S. Archives)

Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” Speech

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 signs the Declaration of War against Japan
in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
December 8, 1941
(National Archives and Records Administration)

In Service and Sacrifice

16,100,000 Americans served during World War II

  American military casualties totaled 407,316

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The very soul of a nation is its heroes”

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 gallant men here entombed and their shipmates
who gave their lives in action on December 7, 1941.
(U.S. Navy Photo)

In Eternal Remembrance

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