"Brought to you by Noah H. Belew"

Gulf Breeze, Florida

Colonel Lewis Millett–Born to Fight

Posted on Feb 3, 2018

Commanding General National Training Command (NTC) Brigadier General (BGEN) James D. Thurman presents a commemorative photograph to Medal of Honor Recipient, Colonel (COL) Lewis Millet, USA, (Retired) a veteran of WWII, The Korean War, and Vietnam during the US Army’s 226th Birthday Celebration held at Fort Irwin, CA.

By John Bryan Dudek
11/18/2009 • HistoryNet Interviews, Interviews, Vietnam Extra

Colonel Lewis Lee Millett is a combat-decorated veteran of three wars: World War II, Korea and Vietnam. On February 7, 1951, then Captain Millett earned the Medal of Honor for leading two platoons in a desperate and savage bayonet charge to the top of a windswept, fortified Chinese-held hill in Korea. He made five combat paratroop jumps in his career and is the first officer ever to rappel from a hovering helicopter. He is the founder of the Army’s Recondo Schools.

His family has fought in many of this nation’s wars and ­conflicts, going back to 1675 when an ­ancestor died during an Indian ­massacre in Massachusetts Bay Colony and up to 1985 when his youngest son was among 347 Mideast peacekeepers killed in a plane crash in Newfoundland.

Lewis Millett joined the National Guard in 1938 while still in high school, because he wanted to fight. When war broke out in Europe in 1939 and President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated, “No American boys would be sent to fight in any European wars,” Millett deserted and joined the Canadian Army. He was sent to Britain, where he received intensive commando training that would later prove pivotal to his career. When the United States entered the war in 1941, Millett went to the U.S. Embassy in London and rejoined the United States Army. He served with distinction in the 1st Armored Division in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. When his court-martial papers for desertion finally caught up with him, he had already earned a battlefield commission and several decorations for bravery. The papers were quickly torn up and forgotten. When World War II ended, Millett temporarily left active duty, only to rejoin the National Guard.

With the outbreak of the Korean War, Millett was transferred to the 25th Infantry Division’s 27th Infantry Regiment, the “Wolf­hounds,” where the wheels were set in motion that would lead to the Battle of Bayonet Hill and the awarding of his Medal of Honor. During that action, the Chinese soldiers were routed by American troops using seemingly outmoded bayonet-fixed rifles. Even though he was wound­ed during the assault, Millett refused to be evacuated until the hill had been made secure.

Colonel Millett went to Vietnam in 1960 and set up Ranger schools there. After graduating from the Command and General Staff School and the Army War College, he returned to Vietnam in 1970 as adviser to the II Corps Phoenix Program.

Millett retired from the U.S. Army in 1973. Now 86 years old, he recently spoke to Vietnam Magazine about his experiences in three wars.

Vietnam Magazine: On that hill in Korea in 1951, of all the weapons to use in a close assault upon a fortified enemy position, why use fixed bayonets?

Lewis Millett: The Chinese said that we Americans were afraid to use the bayonet, so I said, “I’ll show them!” I had the local Korean women sharpen our bayonets razor sharp on their grinding wheels, and we practiced bayonet drill techniques and hand-to-hand combat several times a day. I told the men that the next time we went into battle, we’d be attacking using fixed bayonets, and we did.

VM: What was your estimation of General William Westmoreland as a combat leader?

LM: I think he was a fine general. It was General Westmoreland who wanted me to organize the Recondo School after observing a raid that I led while still Stateside during a field training exercise. The idea was to provide advanced training to give the average soldier the knowledge to perform in the field at a level far above what they had learned in basic training and infantry school. Westmoreland said that most platoons didn’t know how to patrol correctly, so we started training the squad leaders first and then moved on from there. That’s how Recondo School got started.

VM: How did you get to Vietnam after your stint at the Recondo School, and what were your duties there?

LM: The Army needed men to go to Vietnam and I volunteered to go there. The Army wanted me to start a ­Recondo School for the South Vietnamese and Laotian troops. They wanted their training to incorpor­ate the same tactics and principles that had been taught to our 101st and 82nd Airborne divisions. Initially I was based in Thailand and I later trained the Laotian commandos there.

VM: Did you accompany the ARVN Rangers on their combat patrols in the field and ever engage in any firefights against the Viet Cong?

LM: Yes, I oftentimes went out on patrol with the ARVN troops. The patrols usually lasted about three or four hours. We had some firefights, but I don’t recall any [details] offhand. [Laughs.] It was so long ago that I’ve forgotten.

VM: Were the ARVN Rangers effective soldiers?

LM: They were very good soldiers. They needed a lot of training, but they were very good soldiers once they went into action. You’d get them, train them and then send them off. I trained ARVN Rangers in their Recondo School for more than a year and spent seven years in Southeast Asia on and off between 1960 and 1972.

VM: Were they as good as their American counterparts?

The ones I trained acquitted themselves very well in the field and were every bit as effective as American troops.

VM: What sort of weapons did the ARVN Rangers carry?

LM: I carried an M-1 Garand [rifle] and a .45-caliber automatic pistol in the field. The ARVN Rangers carried a lot of Thompson submachine guns, M-1s and some carbines.

VM: Is the M-1 Garand a superior weapon to the M-14 or the M-16?

LM: I’m an M-1 man. The M-1 Garand is a great rifle, much better and more reliable than the M-16. I’ve still got an M-1 Garand.

VM: What was your opinion of the Army retiring the tried and true .45-caliber auto­matic pistol in favor of the 9mm M-9?

LM: The .45 pistol is a fine weapon, and the Army never should have gotten rid of it. I carried one throughout my time in Vietnam and never had any problems with mine.

VM: The CIA Phoenix Program has been derided as being nothing more than “CIA assassination teams,” whereas it was a highly effective tool that helped to crush the infrastructure of the Viet Cong in South Vietnam. How did you become involved in that program and what were your duties?

LM: The Army needed guys for the Phoenix Program, so I volunteered. I did a year with them. My primary role was in the gathering of intelligence. As a result [of the intelligence], we set up many ambushes and killed a lot of Viet Cong. What we would do is to put out ambushes to capture or kill the Viet Cong operatives as they left their village to make contact with other guerrillas. It was a very effective way of eliminating the enemy. We gathered intelligence through the use of interrogation. No torture!

VM: Did you find the CIA operatives competent and effective?

LM: The CIA operatives we worked with were very competent and effective officers who knew their stuff. They were good men. The Phoenix Program was a good program. It worked very well, and it never should have been stopped.

VM: In what area or province of Vietnam were you based?

LM: I was in the Central Highlands, from Dalat up to Pleiku and Kontum. I went out on patrols with the men [of the Phoenix Program teams]. We set up a lot of ambushes and killed a lot of VC.

VM: Later in the war, how was it that you agreed to offer yourself as a hostage during negotiations over the surrender of an entire NVA combat unit?

LM: They needed a volunteer to act as a hostage while negotiations were going on toward the surrender of an NVA battalion. They probably figured that they were going to be killed anyway, so they were eager to surrender. I only spent one day with them before they gave up, and more than 100 of them laid down their arms, along with their commanding officer.

VM: What happened to them?

LM: Many of them were later involved in the “Chieu-Hoi” (Open-Arms) program as Vietnamese scouts. We used them and treated them well. They proved to be good soldiers.

VM: What was your opinion of the quality of the Vietnam-era American soldier?

LM: The quality of the Vietnam War soldier was every bit as good as the men I served with in Korea or during World War II. They were great guys! Bottom line is, it all depends on leadership. If you can kick ass and take names and if you have good officers, you’re going to have good soldiers. It’s just that simple. And if you were an officer, if you did a good job, nobody bothered you. The only time I was reprimanded was when I was told to stop using fixed bayonets in Korea, and I got a medal for that.

VM: What does the Medal of Honor mean to you?

LM: That medal is more indicative of the men that I led into battle than about me.

VM: Do you think that it was necessary to commit our troops to Vietnam, or should we have just tried to train and build up the ARVN forces to fight in that guerrilla war?

LM: We should have committed our troops against the Communists in Vietnam while doing everything that we could to build up the ARVN forces to a higher standard of fighting proficiency. That was no guerrilla war. They wanted to destroy Vietnam and they wanted to destroy America. My greatest regret was that we didn’t win in Vietnam. You don’t go to war to lose. I don’t! When the Communists violated that treaty in 1975, we should have kicked their ass and bombed them back into the Stone Age.

VM: What is your opinion about the treatment that returning Vietnam War veterans received when they returned home to the United States?

LM: I thought it was horrible how badly Vietnam War soldiers were treated by their fellow Americans after returning back to the States. Just terrible! The American public wants you to go out and die for them, but they don’t do anything for you when you return.

VM: How would you sum up your colorful career?

LM: I had a hell of a good time during my career. I did a lot of things. I traveled a lot and went to many different countries. I met a lot of good people. I had fun and pretty much did whatever I wanted to do. It was exciting.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally appeared in the June 2008 issue of Vietnam Magazine. Colonel Millett died in a veteran’s hosptial in Loma Linda, California, Nov. 14, 2009. Another interview with Colonel Millett appeared in the February 2002 issue of Military History magazine.

Read More

Frank Reasoner

Posted on Feb 3, 2018


“Honor-Courage-Commitment”

FRANK S. REASONER

First Lieutenant

United States Marine Corps

CITATION

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as CommandingOfficer, Company A, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, 3d Marine Division in action against hostile Viet Cong forces near Danang, Vietnam on 12 July 1965. The reconnaissance patrol led by First Lieutenant Reasoner had deeply penetrated heavily controlled enemy territory when it came under extremely heavy fire from an estimated 50 to 100 Viet Cong insurgents.

Accompanying the advance party and the point that consisted of five men, he immediately deployed his men for an assault after the Viet Cong had opened fire from numerous concealed positions. Boldly shouting encouragement, and virtually isolated from the main body, he organized a base of fire for an assault on the enemy positions. The slashing fury of the Viet Cong machine gun and automatic weapons fire made it impossible for the main body to move forward. Repeatedly exposing himself to the devastating attack, he skillfully provided covering fire, killing at least two Viet Cong and effectively silencing an automatic weapons position in a valiant attempt to effect evacuation of a wounded man.

As casualties began to mount, his radio operator was wounded and First Lieutenant Reasoner immediately moved to his side and tended his wounds. When the radio operator was hit a second time while attempting to reach a covered position, First Lieutenant Reasoner, courageously running to his aid through the grazing machine gun fire, fell mortally wounded. His indomitable fighting spirit, valiant leadership, and unflinching devotion to duty provided the inspiration that was to enable the patrol to complete its mission without further casualties. In the face of almost certain death, he gallantly gave his life in the service of his country. His actions upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

LYNDON B. JOHNSON
President of the United States

First Lieutenant Frank S. Reasoner, former enlisted Marine and graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, was the second Marine recipient of the Nation’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor, for heroism in Vietnam in July 1965. The Medal was presented to his widow on 31 January 1967 by Navy Secretary Paul H. Nitze, in ceremonies held at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

Frank Stanley Reasoner was born in Spokane, Washington, 16 September 1937, and moved with his parents to Kellogg, Idaho, in 1948. Graduating from Kellogg High School in June 1955, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps three months before his 18th birthday.

Promoted to private first class after recruit training at the San Diego Recruit Depot in August, he went on to advanced infantry training at Camp Pendleton, California. He was designated an Airborne Radio Operator in 1956 upon completing Airman School, Naval Air Technical Training Center, Jacksonville, Florida, and the Communication Electronics School at San Diego. He was next assigned to Marine Wing Service Group 37, 3d Marine Aircraft Wing, El Toro, California, and while there was promoted to corporal.

He was transferred to the Naval Academy Preparatory School, Bainbridge, Maryland, in 1957, then served as a guard at Marine Barracks, Annapolis, Maryland. He was promoted to sergeant in January 1958, prior to receiving Congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy, sponsored by Senator Henry C. Dvorshak of Idaho.

Successfully completing the Academy’s entrance examinations in June 1958, Sgt Reasoner was transferred to the inactive Marine Corps Reserve and enrolled as a cadet. While at the Military Academy, he lettered in baseball and wrestling winning an unprecedented four straight Brigade boxing championships in four different weight classes. Upon graduation, 6 June 1962, he was awarded a BS degree and returned to the Marine Corps as a second lieutenant. He was promoted to first lieutenant in December of the following year.

First Lieutenant Reasoner completed Officers Basic School at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia, in January 1963, then embarked for a three-year tour of duty with the Fleet Marine Force in the Pacific area

During his entire overseas tour, he served with the 3d Reconnaissance Battalion. Assigned initially to the 1st Marine Brigade, at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, he served with Company B, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marines, and moved with his organization to Vietnam in April 1965. On 20 June 1965, he was designated Commanding Officer, Company A, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, 3d Marine Division, the unit he was with when he was mortally wounded.

A Marine Corps camp in Vietnam was named “Camp Reasoner” and dedicated to his memory. The hand-lettered sign near the gates of Camp Reasoner read: “…First Lieutenant Reasoner sacrificed his life to save one of his wounded Marines. ‘Greater Love Hath No Man’.”

Read More

Hulon Brocke Whittington

Posted on Mar 15, 2017

Born near Bogalusa, Louisiana, July 9, 1921, Sergeant Whittington earned the Medal of Honor in World War II while serving as Sergeant, 41st Armored Infantry, 2 Armored Division, near Grimesnil, France, July 29, 1944.

He later served as the model for “G.I. Joe: American Legion Soldier,” a thirteen-foot limestone statue located at 1608 K Street in Washington, D.C.

He died on January 17, 1969 and was buried in Section 8 of Arlington National Cemetery.

Biography

Whittington was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana on July 9, 1921. He attended school at Bastrop, Louisiana, and in New Orleans where he finished high school.

Whittington entered the service of his country on August 21, 1940 at Bastrop. In addition to his Medal of Honor, Whittington wears the Silver Star, Purple Heart with one oak-leaf cluster, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Good Conduct medal, the American Defense (pre-Pearl Harbor) ribbon, the American Theatre ribbon (serving as gunner on a ship) and the European Theatre of Operations ribbon with four battle stars.

Whittington joined the Army from Bastrop, Louisiana in August 1940, and by July 29, 1944 was serving as a Sergeant in the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Division. On that day, near Grimesnil, France, he assumed command of his platoon and led it in a successful defense against a German armored attack. For his actions during the battle, he was awarded the Medal of Honor nine months later, on April 23, 1945.

Whittington became a commissioned officer in 1949 and reached the rank of major in 1960. While serving in Vietnam as an ARVN ordnance advisor, he suffered a heart attack, forcing him to retire. He died at age 47 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington County, Virginia.

According a press release issued by Brook General and Convalescent Hospital at Fort Sam Houston, “When Sergeant, who claimed Ellaville, Georgia, as his home, was told he was to be presented the Congressional Medal of Honor, his quiet, unassuming, self-assured manner did not betray emotion. Perhaps it is these qualities in Sergeant Whittington’s make-up which so aptly guided him on the battlefield and aided him to carry out a mission in accord with the highest traditions of the army–Valor, above and beyond the call of duty.”

Whittington, who was wounded twice–once in Sicily and once in France–is but one of a few members left from his old organization and though Whittington is unable to join his comrades now carrying on with Lt. General William S. Simpson’s Ninth Army, he is certain that it is the indomitable determination of the men he fought with that is guiding them on to Berlin–and victory in the European Theatre.

Much like any other American soldier, Sergeant Whittington is straightforward, friendly, sentimental; and had it not been for wounds received in France, he still would have continued fighting alongside these comrades he had come to know and respect as he would his brothers.

Medal of Honor

Sergeant Hulon B. Whittington, Infantry, of Ellaville, Georgia, was presented the Congressional Medal of Honor in an impressive ceremony held Saturday, April 21st at 3 p.m., in the General Surgery ward of Brooke General and Convalescent Hospital where he was a patient.

The presentation of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award, was made to Sergeant Whittington by Major General J.P. Lucas, commanding general of the Fourth Army. General Lucas was designated by the War Department to act as the personal representative of the President for the presentation of that award.

Present for the ceremony was Sergeant Whittington’s father Henry B. Whittington of Natchitoches, Louisiana. Sergeant Whittington’s wife, Mrs. Pauline (Cook) Whittington was unable to attend the ceremony.

The citation which accompanied the Medal of Honor, read by Captain Robert S. Hawthorne, Adjutant, Brooke General and Convalescent Hospital, is as follows:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. On the night of 29 July 1944, near Grimesnil, France, during an enemy armored attack, Sgt. Whittington, a squad leader, assumed command of his platoon when the platoon leader and platoon sergeant became missing in action. He reorganized the defense and, under fire, courageously crawled between gun positions to check the actions of his men. When the advancing enemy attempted to penetrate a roadblock, Sgt. Whittington, completely disregarding intense enemy action, mounted a tank and by shouting through the turret, directed it into position to fire pointblank at the leading Mark V German tank. The destruction of this vehicle blocked all movement of the remaining enemy column consisting of over 100 vehicles of a Panzer unit. The blocked vehicles were then destroyed by hand grenades, bazooka, tank, and artillery fire and large numbers of enemy personnel were wiped out by a bold and resolute bayonet charge inspired by Sgt. Whittington. When the medical aid man had become a casualty, Sgt. Whittington personally administered first aid to his wounded men. The dynamic leadership, the inspiring example, and the dauntless courage of Sgt. Whittington, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.

Sgt. Whittington served as the model for “G.I. Joe: American Legion Soldier”, a thirteen foot tall limestone statue located at American Legion headquarters, 1608 K Street, Washington, D.C.

Read More

Richard Nott Antrim

Posted on Mar 1, 2017

Richard Nott AntrimRichard Nott Antrim (December 17, 1907 – March 7, 1969) was an officer in the United States Navy who received the United States’ highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions as a prisoner of war during World War II. He retired in 1954 as a rear admiral.

Early life and career

Antrim was born in Peru, Indiana and entered the United States Naval Academy in 1927, graduating on June 4, 1931. He married his Canadian wife in June before he graduated. He served briefly in the 11th Naval District before reporting to the battleship USS New York as fire control officer. Detached from that battleship in April 1932, he received flight instruction at the Naval Air Station (NAS), Pensacola, Florida, before serving consecutive tours of sea duty on the USS Salinas, USS Nitro and USS Trenton.

Subsequently ordered to the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in Quincy, Massachusetts, Antrim assisted in fitting out USS Portland and after her commissioning, served as a division officer in that heavy cruiser until the spring of 1936. After that time, he became assistant first lieutenant in USS Crowninshield before undergoing instruction in lighter-than-air (LTA) flight at NAS Lakehurst, New Jersey. Antrim subsequently received his naval aviator (LTA) designation, qualified for duty as an airship, kite, or free-balloon pilot. In the spring of 1938, Antrim arrived on the Asiatic Station and served as executive officer of USS Bittern before joining USS Pope in December 1939, as her executive officer. The outbreak of war in the Pacific Ocean in December 1941 found Antrim still serving in that capacity.

World War II

During her brief wartime career, Pope played a significant part in three major engagements fought by the venerable Asiatic Fleet destroyers — the battles of Balikpapan, Badung Strait, and the Java Sea.

In the former, Pope delivered close-range attacks that momentarily helped to delay the Japanese landings at Balikpapan. During the action, Lieutenant Antrim selected targets for his guns and torpedoes, placing his shots accurately in the midst of a large Japanese convoy and thus inflicting damage to several enemy ships. After the Battle of Badung Strait, Pope’s commanding officer, Commander Welford C. Blinn, reported that his executive officer was “highly deserving of commendation for the meritorious performance of his several duties before and throughout the action.” Citing Antrim as a “ready assistant in navigation fire control, and torpedo fire,” Blinn recommended him not only for a destroyer command but for a “decoration deemed appropriate.” Antrim later received a Navy Cross for this service.

The Battle of the Java Sea (27 to February 28, 1942) ended all Allied hope of stemming the Japanese onslaught. In the wake of that action, the smashed Allied fleet attempted to escape the cordon of Japanese warships rapidly tightening the noose around Java. Among the small groups was one composed of the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter, the destroyer HMS Encounter, and Pope.

The ships slipped out of Surabaya, Java, on the evening of February 28, but were spotted the next day by Japanese aircraft. A surface force of cruisers and destroyers located the fleeing trio, and a fierce action ensued, with Exeter and Encounter after having put up a stiff fight, going down under a deluge of Japanese shells. Pope, however, fought on, managing to make a temporary haven in a passing rain squall.

Unfortunately, the destroyer — an Asiatic Fleet flushdecker “old enough to vote” — could not elude her pursuers. Ultimately, damaged by Japanese bombs, from aircraft summoned from the Japanese carrier Ryūjō, and by shells from the Japanese force, Pope began to sink, but not before all but one of her men had reached safety in life rafts and the destroyer’s sole motor whaleboat. Antrim, wounded in the action, helped to gather the life rafts around the boat to facilitate the distribution of what meager supplies were available to the men. His devotion to duty during the ordeal inspired and sustained his shipmates’ morale.

Prisoner of war

For three days and nights, Pope’s survivors stuck together as a group until picked up by a Japanese warship and handed over to Japanese Army authorities at Makassar, in the Celebes Islands.

There, Antrim performed an unforgettable act of personal bravery. During the early part of his imprisonment at Makassar in April 1942, he saw a Japanese guard brutally beating an American prisoner of war, Lt.(jg) Allan Jack Fisher, (SC), and successfully intervened, at great risk to his own life. For his conspicuous act of valor, Antrim later received the Medal of Honor.

Subsequently when the Japanese forced Antrim to take charge of a labor detail assigned the task of constructing slit trenches for protection during air raids, he carefully rearranged the construction work plans approved by the Japanese and gained their approval of his own ideas. Under the eyes of their captors, the POWs dug the slit trenches correctly, but in a curious pattern recognizable from the air as a giant US which clearly and craftily identified the occupants of the trenches. This audacious action possibly saved hundreds of prisoners of war from mistaken bombings by Allied planes. Antrim carried out the plan in spite of the fact that discovery of his trick would have resulted in instant beheading. For this, Antrim received a Bronze Star.

Post-war activities

Ultimately liberated after the war in the Far East ended in August 1945, Antrim returned to the United States and enjoyed rehabilitation leave before attending the Repatriated POW Refresher Course at the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C. in May 1946. He then brushed up on his pilot training at NAS Lakehurst and later completed a course at the Naval War College. Antrim — who had been listed as missing since the sinking of Pope in March 1942 — received the Medal of Honor and Bronze Star Medal from President Harry S. Truman in ceremonies at the White House on January 30, 1947.

Later, following a brief stint at the Fleet Sonar School, San Diego, California, in June and July 1947, Antrim went to sea in command of the destroyer USS Turner. He next underwent further instruction at NAS Lakehurst, before assuming the duties of Assistant for Lighter-than-Air Planning and Programs Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Washington, D.C., in December 1948.

Following further Washington duty — with the Policy Advisory Staff, Department of State, and the Psychological Strategy Board — Antrim commanded the attack transport USS Montrose before returning to the capital for a brief tour of duty as Head, Amphibious Warfare Matters Section, Office of the CNO, prior to his retirement on April 1, 1954. He was advanced to rear admiral on the retired list on the basis of his combat awards.

Rear Admiral Antrim died in Mountain Home, Arkansas on March 7, 1969. He was buried in Section 35 of Arlington National Cemetery.

Medal of Honor citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while interned as a prisoner of war of the enemy Japanese in the city of Makassar, Celebes, Netherlands East Indies, in April 1942. Acting instantly on behalf of a naval officer who was subjected to a vicious clubbing by a frenzied Japanese guard venting his insane wrath upon the helpless prisoner, Comdr. (then Lt.) Antrim boldly intervened, attempting to quiet the guard and finally persuading him to discuss the charges against the officer. With the entire Japanese force assembled and making extraordinary preparations for the threatened beating, and with the tension heightened by 2,700 Allied prisoners rapidly closing in, Comdr. Antrim courageously appealed to the fanatic enemy, risking his own life in a desperate effort to mitigate the punishment. When the other had been beaten unconscious by 15 blows of a hawser and was repeatedly kicked by 3 soldiers to a point beyond which he could not survive, Comdr. Antrim gallantly stepped forward and indicated to the perplexed guards that he would take the remainder of the punishment, throwing the Japanese completely off balance in their amazement and eliciting a roar of acclaim from the suddenly inspired Allied prisoners. By his fearless leadership and valiant concern for the welfare of another, he not only saved the life of a fellow officer and stunned the Japanese into sparing his own life but also brought about a new respect for American officers and men and a great improvement in camp living conditions. His heroic conduct throughout reflects the highest credit upon Comdr. Antrim and the U.S. Naval Service.

Read More

Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt III

Posted on Feb 15, 2017

Despite a heart condition and arthritis that forced him to use a cane, Brigadier General Roosevelt led the assault on Utah Beach.

Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt III (September 13, 1887 – July 12, 1944), known as Theodore Jr., was an American government, business, and military leader. He was the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt and First Lady Edith Roosevelt.

Roosevelt was instrumental in the forming of the American Legion in 1919 following his valiant service in the United States Army during World War I. He later served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of Puerto Rico (1929–32), Governor-General of the Philippines (1932–33), Chairman of the Board of American Express Company, Vice-President at Doubleday Books. Returning to the Army in 1940, he led the first wave of troops at Utah Beach during the Normandy landings in 1944, earning the Medal of Honor for his command. He died in France 36 days later, holding the rank of Brigadier General.

Award of Medal of Honor

Roosevelt was originally recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross by General Barton. The award was upgraded at higher headquarters to the Medal of Honor, which Roosevelt was posthumously awarded on 28 September 1944.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr.’s grave marker at the American World War II cemetery in Normandy. He lies buried next to his brother, Quentin, who was killed during World War I

For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, in France. After 2 verbal requests to accompany the leading assault elements in the Normandy invasion had been denied, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt’s written request for this mission was approved and he landed with the first wave of the forces assaulting the enemy-held beaches. He repeatedly led groups from the beach, over the seawall and established them inland. His valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack and his complete unconcern at being under heavy fire inspired the troops to heights of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice. Although the enemy had the beach under constant direct fire, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt moved from one locality to another, rallying men around him, directed and personally led them against the enemy. Under his seasoned, precise, calm, and unfaltering leadership, assault troops reduced beach strong points and rapidly moved inland with minimum casualties. He thus contributed substantially to the successful establishment of the beachhead in France.

Read More

Bernard Pious Bell

Posted on Feb 1, 2017

Bernard Pious Bell
Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company I, 142d Infantry, 36th Infantry Division
Place and date: Mittelwihr, France, 18 December 1944
Entered service at: New York, N.Y.
Birth: Grantsville, W. Va. G.O. No.: 73, 30 August 1945
Death: Florida in 1971 at age 59, buried at Arlington National Cemetery

 

 

Citation:

For fighting gallantly at Mittelwihr, France. On the morning of 18 December 1944, he led a squad against a schoolhouse held by enemy troops. While his men covered him, he dashed toward the building, surprised 2 guards at the door and took them prisoner without firing a shot. He found that other Germans were in the cellar. These he threatened with hand grenades, forcing 26 in all to emerge and surrender. His squad then occupied the building and prepared to defend it against powerful enemy action. The next day, the enemy poured artillery and mortar barrages into the position, disrupting communications which T/Sgt. Bell repeatedly repaired under heavy small-arms fire as he crossed dangerous terrain to keep his company commander informed of the squad’s situation. During the day, several prisoners were taken and other Germans killed when hostile forces were attracted to the schoolhouse by the sound of captured German weapons fired by the Americans. At dawn the next day the enemy prepared to assault the building. A German tank fired round after round into the structure, partially demolishing the upper stories. Despite this heavy fire, T/Sgt. Bell climbed to the second floor and directed artillery fire which forced the hostile tank to withdraw. He then adjusted mortar fire on large forces of enemy foot soldiers attempting to reach the American position and, when this force broke and attempted to retire, he directed deadly machinegun and rifle fire into their disorganized ranks. Calling for armored support to blast out the German troops hidden behind a wall, he unhesitatingly exposed himself to heavy small-arms fire to stand beside a friendly tank and tell its occupants where to rip holes in walls protecting approaches to the school building. He then trained machineguns on the gaps and mowed down all hostile troops attempting to cross the openings to get closer to the school building. By his intrepidity and bold, aggressive leadership, T/Sgt. Bell enabled his 8-man squad to drive back approximately 150 of the enemy, killing at least 87 and capturing 42. Personally, he killed more than 20 and captured 33 prisoners.

Biography:

On December 18, 1944, during World War II, Bernard Bell captured more than 30 German prisoners, earning the Medal of Honor.

Bell was born at Grantsville in Calhoun County in 1911, but his family moved to Point Pleasant when he was only one. He enlisted in the Army in 1942 and attained the rank of technical sergeant. In early December 1944, his division was working with the French army to liberate the city of Colmar from German forces. On December 18, Bell and his eight-man squad captured an enemy-occupied schoolhouse near Mittelwihr and held it in the face of relentless enemy attacks. During the fight, Bell exposed himself to enemy fire, killed more than 20 German troops, and took 33 captive. President Harry Truman awarded him the Medal of Honor in August 1945.

After the war, Bernard Bell worked for the Veteran’s Administration. He died in Florida in 1971 at age 59 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His siblings donated his military medals to the Mason County Public Library in Point Pleasant. And a bridge in Calhoun County was named in his honor in 2001.

Read More