Archive for November, 2008

Fly Girls of World War II: WASP exhibit opens in Arlington

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The Fly Girls of World War II traveling exhibit began its national tour at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Nov. 14 here.

The exhibit, which is dedicated to the history of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, features a history of the WASP.

The exhibit includes the “WASP Film Strip,” an “Above and Beyond” tribute, a 26-foot WASP Timeline, WASP standups, uniformed mannequins and hundreds of photos. Also featured is a special tribute to the 38 WASPs who lost their lives in service to the United States, WASP memorabilia, a celebration of their final battle for recognition, and a mosaic featuring the face of each WASP.

During the grand opening ceremony, each WASP in attendance took a minute to introduce herself and share a few thoughts and words, which brought laughter, tears and smiles to fellow WASPs, family members, retired and current servicemembers who gathered in the packed exhibit hall.

“Everybody remarks about how courageous we were … but, we just had a great time. It was fun! We hope the young women who are coming out now will have as much fun as we had,” said Doris Brinker Tanner, a WASP official.  

One thousand seventy-four women earned their wings during the WASP program, which began in 1942 and continued through 1944. They flew every type of aircraft the U.S. Army Air Forces had while logging more than 60 million miles. The pilots were assigned to Air Transport Command, where they ferried aircraft from production plants to bases around the country. Others flew personnel transports and performed target towing duties while some test piloted experimental aircraft. Their safety record was even better than their male counterparts. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed a bill making the WASP part of the Air Force.

“With this exhibit here on hallowed ground, visited by millions of people every year, we are finally telling your story in grand, grand fashion,” said Maj. Nicole Malachowski, the first woman pilot on the Air Force Thunderbirds team. “Your service to our nation during a time of war is the stuff that legends are made of. And, I think that the legacy you leave me with is that, when you have dedication, commitment and a desire to serve you can overcome tremendous obstacles. Your service to our nation in a critical time of history, actually to the entire free world, is remarkable not because you are women, but it’s remarkable in its very own right.

“You didn’t fly and serve your country because you are women, but because you had to overcome some attitudes and restrictions of the time, you managed to serve our country in spite of being women,” said the major who currently serves as a White House Fellow. “You had a dream and you followed that dream and it’s your legacy that inspired my own dream.”

Each WASP, while proudly wearing her service uniform, wandered through the exhibit while chatting with old friends and sharing stories with current servicemembers and guests. Friends and family members proudly snapped pictures.

“I’m so proud of her,” said Janice Holton of Grand Rapids, Mich., when chatting about her mother, Jane Baessler Doyle, who served as a WASP from 1943 to 1944. “For her day, she and the women paved the way for other women to do a lot more in the military.”

“It’s great to see some of the old friends today and the way they put together the exhibit,” Ms. Doyle said. While glancing at her own photos in the exhibit, she said, “It’s nostalgic. It brings back the good old days.”

This is the first major exhibit about the WASP at the Women’s Memorial. It is scheduled to remain on display at the Women’s Memorial through November 2009, before continuing its nationwide tour. 

April Lapetoda (AFNS)

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November 24, 2008 at 3:49 am 1 comment

USS Constitution Celebrates More than Two Centuries of Service

USS Constitution — Old Ironsides Salutes Boston Harbor

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The crew of USS Constitution – the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world – celebrated the ship’s 211th birthday and recognized the performance of her Sailors Oct. 21.

More than 100 people attended the celebration, including her crew, staff members of the USS Constitution Museum and invited guests for the annual “Grog Ceremony” on her decks. The party also included a birthday cake and the presentation of the Berenson Award, the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts Leadership Award, and Millerick Award.

In his remarks, USS Constitution Commanding Officer Cmdr. William A. Bullard III spoke of the ship’s history, legacy and role in today’s Navy and world.

“More than 211 years ago today the Unites States Navy, in a very real sense, let down its anchor right here in Boston, and that anchor is this ship,” he said. “Without that anchor holding that chain to the ground, that ship will drift off and drift into danger. For 211 years this ship has been the Unites States Navy’s anchor. It has kept us grounded and rooted in our tradition and in our heritage that has made us great.”

In an active service career that spanned more than half a century, USS Constitution served in the Barbary Wars, Quasi-War with France, the War of 1812 and the African Slave Trade Patrol. She fought in 33 engagements and emerged victorious in each.

“Every Sailor alive today who served or who has served in the United States Navy traces his or her professional heritage right here to these decks. If not for this ship, many of us including our guests, would not be here in the nation that we know today,” Bullard said.

The Berenson Award is given annually to the junior crew member who best exemplifies the spirit and ideals of the ship’s crew during her sailing days and has consistently demonstrated the highest standards of conduct, loyalty and dedication to the pride of the ship.

During the ceremony, crew member Postal Clerk 3rd Class Karl Hendrickson received the award.

“Known for giving historically detailed and entertaining tours, he represented USS Constitution, as well as the Navy, proudly and professionally,” the award citation noted. “Postal Clerk 3rd Class Karl Hendrickson was consistently hand-selected to give tours to senior military officers and high-ranking government officials, instilling in them a sense of pride in our Navy, USS Constitution and our country.”

Master-At-Arms 1st Class(SW) Manoj Ram was named the 2008 recipient of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts Leadership Award.

According to his citation, “Petty Officer Ram was chosen by his peers as the Sailor who consistently displayed the finest leadership qualities and earned the highest respect and trust of all crew members.”

The Millerick Award is presented annually to the National Historical Center, Detachment Boston (NHC Det. Boston) civilian worker who in the past year demonstrated a mastery of craftsmanship of American ship-building heritage. It recognizes his outstanding service to the preservation of USS Constitution.

This year’s recipient was John Hinckley, as voted by his peers at NHC Det. Boston.

“For my crew, for those of us who love USS Constitution so much, I charge you to keep this ceremony up, let’s not keep it a secret,” Bullard concluded. “Let’s make sure that the Navy, the city of Boston and the country indeed know that this is going on. This is far too important and far too significant of an event to be kept to ourselves.”

Brian M. Brooks (NNS)

November 24, 2008 at 3:43 am

Patton’s Third Army Turns 90

Naval Calendar 2009

Naval Calendar 2009

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Patton’s Own celebrated 90 years of service to the nation on Nov. 7, 2008. Third Army was formed and forged during the closing phases of WWI, just four days after the signing of the Armistice Agreement. Since then, it has been a vital part of the nation’s defense. During World War II, under the command of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Third Army spearheaded the breakout from Normandy in 1944, driving across northern France, attacking the German flank during the epic Battle of the Bulge and fighting its way to penetrating Germany’s western defenses.

Since 1983, Third Army has served as the Army component of U.S. Central Command, with responsibility for operations in a 27-country area stretching across parts of Africa, Asia and the strategically vital Persian Gulf. Following 9/11, Third Army became the Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) for the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the build up and attack into Iraq in 2003. After serving as the CFLCC for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, with the establishment of Multi-National Forces Iraq, Third Army assumed primary responsibility for uninterrupted logistical support and combined joint reception, staging, and onward movement of coalition forces deploying to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa.

November 13, 2008 at 3:45 am

Warfare and Human Evolution: The Connection

New Scientist has an interesting article in the November issue. “How warfare shaped human evolution ” postulates that organized warfare is not the aberration we (would like to) think it is. Rather, it is literally in our genes — a part of who we are and have always been.
That’s the message from a conference held last month on the evolutionary origins of war at the University of Oregon. Read the full article at New Scientist. 

November 13, 2008 at 3:41 am

“Beach Jumpers”: SEAL Predecessors Hold Annual Reunion

Naval Special Operations

Naval Special Operations

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Beach jumper veterans from around the United States gathered at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado Nov. 7 for the 5th Annual Beach Jumpers Reunion.

Beach jumpers were U.S. Navy special warfare units in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, specializing in deception and psychological warfare, according to a former radioman who was part of the group.

“We were changed because we grew up with the experience of war,” said former Beach Jumpers Unit 1 member, Capt. Carl Kilhoffer.

It’s important to recognize beach jumpers, who quietly contributed to the security of our country, added Kilhoffer. “We knew the reality of severe injury and even death was a possibility for us. A possibility because we saw shipmates leave us forever.”

During the reunion, two wreaths were laid to honor beach jumper veterans who died serving their country in Vietnam.

“It hurts sometimes,” said James Franklin, former first class operations specialist and beach jumper, gazing at names engraved into the granite memorial. “It brings back a lot of memories. I know a lot of them on these plaques. It’s something that you won’t forget.”

“We were the unmentionables,” said Franklin. “We were in country (Vietnam) from ’64 to ’68 and it wasn’t supposed to be known. I had to prove to the [Veterans Administration] that I was overseas because the military has no record of our activity.”

Back then the beach jumpers were even more secretive than the U.S. Navy SEALs, added Franklin.

“We don’t get credit for what we did because we can’t talk about it,” he said. “But that was part of the game. We’re finding out now… we can talk about some of it, but we don’t know how much we can talk about so some of us are still tight-lipped.

“My kids didn’t even know what I was doing. My wife, before she died, would tell you that all she knew is that I wore camouflage makeup and stuff. She didn’t know what I did. She just knew I went overseas. It was hard for me.”

But they could get out anytime they wanted to, he said.

“It was strictly volunteer. You could say tomorrow I want out and…within 24-48 hours you were transferred out.”

“I think they deserve a lot more credit for what they did,” said Cryptologic Technician (Networks) 2nd Class Frank Mcanally, currently assigned to Navy Information Operations Command, San Diego, who served as an escort during the reunion. “The things that they did were great, and I applaud them for their actions.”

During the event, attendees viewed static photo displays, had lunch at Naval Air Station North Island and received a tour of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 41.

“I haven’t seen some of these guys in 40 years,” said Homer Ramsey, a former third class radioman and beach jumper. “It’s just great to reunite with them after all these years.”

Jason Zuidema (NNS)

November 13, 2008 at 3:31 am