Posts made in March, 2017

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.

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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.

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