When 1st Lt. Ward Abbett arrived in Vietnam aboard a purple Braniff Airline he was a well-educated, seasoned soldier. He was a graduate of “The Citadel” in Charleston, S.C. He also spent his first year in the Army stateside as the executive officer of a headquarters company, but he wanted to see action in Vietnam.
Col. Bob Carroll never mentioned he was awarded a “Silver Star” in Vietnam “For Gallantry in Action.” The Manasota Key, Fla. resident also has an 8 X 10, black and white, framed photograph of President Lyndon Johnson pinning the medal on him at Fort Benning, Ga. The commendation accompanying the medal says it all.
Randy McConnell of Nokomis, Fla. received seven Purple Hearts, more than any other living American soldier, for six months of intensive fighting with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam during the “Tet Offensive” in 1968. He was also awarded two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for valor together with an Army Commendation Medal with…
Bob Erwin of North Port Pines Retirement Center made five patrols aboard the USS Parche (SS-384) into Japanese-held waters during World War II. On one of these patrols his skipper, Cmdr. Lawson Ramage, received the Medal of Honor and Erwin was awarded the Silver Star for their exploits.
Richard Johnson of Circlewood, a south Venice subdivision, escaped with his life when a couple of Japanese kamikaze aircraft struck the Carrier USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) within minutes of each other the afternoon of Jan. 21, 1945 off the coast of Formosa during World War II.
Geoffrey Morris of Venice. Fla. was a conscientious objector who volunteered to become a medic with the 237th Medical Detachment. He flew out of Quang Tri, Vietnam in 1970-71 aboard a DMZ Dust Off helicopter rescuing wounded soldiers and taking them to the 18th Surgical Hospital for emergency treatment.
Col. Norm Mac Lellan of Venice had already served one tour in Vietnam and survived the 1968 Tet Offensive when he got in the firefight of his life with North Vietnamese Army troops during his second tour of duty along Highway 1, north of Saigon in the summer on 1972.
It was the middle of the Korean War, August 1952, when Charles Dusek enlisted the U.S. Army. He was 19-years-old at the time living with his family in Chicago.
It was 1st Lt. William Standish’s worst nightmare. He and the men in his platoon were charging a German-held house in the fog atop Hill 566, just south of Bologna, Italy, during World War II. The fog lifted and they were standing in the open, 50 feet away from an enemy machine-gun position.
Maurice Forgotson, of Gulf View mobile home park on Burnt Store Road, south of Punta Gorda, Fla. was a forward observer with a mortar platoon. It was part of the 84th Infantry Division, attached to Gen. Bernard Montgomery’s army in Europe during World War II.
Michael Meehan of Englewood, Fla. received a Silver Star, the third highest commendation awarded an American soldier for gallantry under enemy fire, when his unit, the 17th Regiment of the 7th Division, was trying to capture a hill held by North Koreans.
Charles Milam of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a freshman on a football scholarship playing for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks in 1944 when he decided to join the Marine Corps.
Bill Tannatt of Englewood, Fla. and Milton Dorr of Worcester, Mass., started out as members of the Yankee Division, the Massachusetts National Guard’s 26th Infantry Division, and ended up in the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division of the 5th Army during World War II.
Col. Al R. Clark of Port Charlotte, Fla. joined the Oregon National Guard in 1935 at the age of 15. Before his 33-year regular Army career was over, he saw action on the front lines in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
Walter Levasseur a former master sergeant in the U.S. Army, served two tours of duty in Vietnam in 1967 and 1970. By the time he was through, he had received the Purple Heart with an oak leaf cluster for being wounded a second time, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars — one for valor the…
George Burns, who lived in Punta Gorda, Fla. for 28 years until his death in March 1994, received the Distinguished Service Cross for his exploits with the 104th Infantry Division, “The Timberwolves,” in World War II.
For the past year, in addition to writing war stories about local veterans, I’ve provided DVD interviews of these same veterans to the Library of Congress’ “Veterans History Project.” This week I reached a milestone in these interviews. A couple of days ago I sent 25 DVDs and supporting material on each disk to the…
POW Camp 101 is what it was called. The camp was a hell hole located 20 miles outside Hanoi, North Vietnam. It’s where 100 American MIAs languished during the Vietnam War and nobody in the United States knew they were there.
It made no difference that 23-year-old 2nd Lt. Stephen Leopold was a Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University who served as a member of the U.S. Army’s elite Special Forces in Vietnam. Three weeks after arriving in country he was captured by the North Vietnam Army near Ben Het, in the jungles of Two Corps,…
The citation accompanying his Bronze Star Medal reads: “LAWRENCE G. SCHAEFERLE, CAPTAIN, Medical Detachment, 32nd Field Artillery Battalion. For heroic achievement in connection with military operations against the enemy in the vicinity of St. Laurent-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, 6 June, 1944. Although subjected to heavy enemy fire, Capt. Schaeferle remained on exposed beach, administering first aid and assisting in evacuation of the seriously wounded. His heroic devotion to duty saved many lives. Entitled to wear six bronze battle participation stars on European Theatre Ribbon for campaigns in Sicily, Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal…
More than 50 years after the rifles fell silent and the cannon fire ceased in the hills north of the 38th Parallel dividing North and South Korea, no one who was there seems to know why both sides put so much stock in controlling Pork Chop Hill during the closing months of the Korean War.
John Rambo has nothing on Mark Bills. The Venice, Fla. dentist was once a member of an elite, secret Army Special Forces group dropped behind enemy lines during the Vietnam War.
Sgt. Mike Sovan, a Sherman tank commander, and his men had just crossed the Nied River in France during World War II as part of Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army when their third tank was shot out from under them.
From the looks of him you’d never know Rufus Lazzell is a highly-decorated Airborne Ranger with two wars under his belt. He is a little guy with a matter-of-fact attitude who doesn’t spend much time talking about his military exploits in Korea or Vietnam decades ago.
Harold Sandler didn’t start out to be a “Ninety-day Wonder” or a war hero, but that’s what he became by the time World War II was over.