Warrior Wednesday is a weekly feature honoring the brave men and women of the US Armed Forces and its Allies.
More images on the Warrior Games this Friday for #RedFriday
The Navy’s famous Blue Angels has its first female pilot since the team’s inception in 1946.
U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Katie Higgins, a third-generation military aviator, will now thrill crowds for eight months out of the year. Over 500 million people have seen the Blue Angels during its air shows.
Captain Katie Higgins is a native of Severna Park, Maryland, and graduated from W.T. Woodson High School in 2004. She attended the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science in 2008, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. Katie then attended Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., and graduated with a Masters of Arts in International Security in 2009.
Katie reported to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, for aviation indoctrination in November 2009. She completed primary flight training in the T-6B Texan II at NAS Whiting Field, Florida, and completed intermediate and advanced training in the T-44 Pegasus while assigned to Training Squadron 31 (VT-31) at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. She received her wings of gold in October 2011.
Katie then reported to 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, North Carolina, for initial training in the KC-130J Hercules. She reported to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR-252), “Otis,” at MCAS Cherry Point, in May 2012, to begin training in the KC-130J Harvest Hercules Armament Weapons Kit.
While assigned to VMGR-252, Katie deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and to Africa with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis-Response in support of contingency operations.
Katie has flown almost 400 combat hours in support of numerous operations and exercises in Afghanistan, Djibouti, France, Greece, South Sudan, Spain, and Uganda.
“I think that by including a lady on the team that just shows little girls and guys that women can do whatever they put their mind to. Little girls have told me that they didn’t even know that ladies can cry aircraft, that women could be in the cockpit,” Capt. Higgins told CBS of her historic accomplishment.
She discounted talk of her selection to the Blue Angels being a form of damage control after a former commander’s recent sexual harassment scandal.
“Well, honestly, I would just tell them to watch the demo. They can’t tell the difference between mine and the other two pilots on here because I fly it just as well as they do,” the officer told FOX News.
Capt. Higgins will fly the Blue Angels’ C-130 aircraft, known affectionately as “Fat Albert.” She joined the Blue Angels in September 2014. She has accumulated more than 1,000 flight hours. Her decorations include five Air Medals, and various unit and personal awards.
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin. Capable of using unprepared runwaysfor takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medivac, and cargo transport aircraft.
The versatile airframe has found uses in a variety of other roles, including as a gunship (AC-130), for airborne assault, search and rescue, scientific research support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refueling, maritime patrol, and aerial firefighting. It is now the main tactical airlifter for many military forces worldwide. Over 40 models and variants of the Hercules serve with more than 60 nations.
On the Web:
Honoring and saluting the brave men and women who courageously serve as warriors everyday.
CAPTAIN KARLA CUMBIE.
YEARS IN SERVICE: 2006 – PRESENT.
MOS: UH-1Y PILO
Karla Cumbie has always had a warrior spirit. Her athletic talent led her to the U.S Naval Academy where she competed in Division 1 Volleyball. The challenge to earn the title was what first attracted Captain Cumbie to the Marine Corps.
Her leadership, hard work and dedication earned her a position as a Weapons and Tactics Instructor, a designation reserved for only a small percentage of Marine Corps pilots.
CAPTAIN LINDSAY RODMAN.
YEARS IN SERVICE: 2008 – PRESENT.
Captain Lindsay Rodman’s parents always encouraged her to stay true to her ideals and follow her instincts. As a Duke and Harvard graduate, she had multiple career opportunities. However, she saw the Marine Corps as the place where she could make the greatest impact.
Now, she’s a judge advocate and White House Fellow. Captain Rodman has already earned impressive titles in her young career. But the title she’s most proud of is Marine.
LIEUTENANT COLONEL STACEY TAYLOR.
YEARS IN SERVICE: 1993 – PRESENT.
For Lieutenant Colonel Stacey Taylor, the Marine Corps is more than a career, it’s a way to make a meaningful contribution. On deployment, LtCol Taylor participated in humanitarian operations, assisting in the evacuation of American citizens from Albania in 1996. In his spare time, LtCol Taylor volunteers with local community service organizations, such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Since the filming of this interview, then-Major Taylor was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and is now the Commanding Officer of Headquarters and Support Battalion, School of Infantry – East.
On the Web: See their stories on YouTube
Chester Nez, the last of the original Navajo code talkers credited with creating an unbreakable code used during World War II, passed away June 4th at age 93.
For more than two decades, Chester Nez kept silent about his role as one of the original Navajo code talkers responsible for developing an unbreakable code during World War II. His death last Wednesday at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico was lamented by the Marine Corps as the end of an era — for both the country and its armed forces.
“We mourn his passing but honor and celebrate the indomitable spirit and dedication of those Marines who became known as the Navajo code talkers,” the Marines said in a statement.
CHESTER NEZ HIGHLIGHTS
Nez was the last remaining of the original 29 Navajos recruited by the Marine Corps to develop the legendary code that was used for vital communications during battle. He was a teenager when he was recruited in 1942 and assigned with the other code talkers to the Marine Corps’ 382nd Platoon at Camp Pendleton. Together, they created a code, including developing a dictionary.
Military authorities chose Navajo as a code language because its syntax and tonal qualities were almost impossible for a non-Navajo to learn, and it had no written form. The ranks of the Navajo code talkers swelled to more than 300 by the end of the war in 1945.
The code talkers were forbidden from telling anyone about it — not their fellow Marines, not their families — until their work was declassified in 1968. The original 29 were presented with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2001 by President George W. Bush.
“In developing our code, we were careful to use everyday Navajo words, so that we could memorize and retain the words easily,” Nez told CNN in 2011 while promoting his book “Code Talker.”
“I think that made our job easier, and I think it helped us to be successful in the heat of battle.”
Still, Nez said he worried every day that an error might cost the life of an American military service member. Nez was among the code talkers who were shipped out to Guadalcanal in 1942, where the code talkers worked in teams of two, with one relaying and receiving messages while the other cranked the portable radio and listened for errors in transmission.
“That was my first combat experience, and there was a lot of suffering and a lot of the condition was real bad out there,” he told CNN’s Larry King in 2002.
“When bombs dropped, generally we code talkers couldn’t just curl up in a shelter,” Nez wrote in his book. “We were almost always needed to transmit information, to ask for supplies and ammunition, and to communicate strategies. And after each transmission, to avoid Japanese fire, we had to move.”
The code talkers faced initial resistance from fellow Marines who did not understand who they were and what they were doing.
That changed once they understood the importance of the code, Nez said. The Navajo code baffled the Japanese, who had successfully deciphered codes used by the U.S. Army. After the war, the Japanese chief of intelligence, Lt. General Seizo Arisue, admitted they were never able to crack the Navajo code used by the Marines and Navy, according to the Navy. Nez was discharged in 1945, but later volunteered to fight in the Korean War.
After the code talkers’ exploits were declassified by the military, the group gained legendary status with books and, ultimately, a movie that was inspired by their stories.
“The recognition of the code talkers came late, but it has been good for my Navajo people. I hope that this type of recognition continues across cultures,” Nez said.
The 2002 film “Windtalkers,” starring Adam Beach and Nicolas Cage, followed the fictional account of two Marines assigned to protect two code talkers during the battle of Saipan.
“I could understand when they sent the message and received on the other end,” Nez said. “I could understand, and I could sit there and write it down myself. I still remember it.”
It was a far cry from his childhood, when he was forced to attend a boarding school and punished by the teachers for speaking Navajo, according to his book. It’s a language, though, that appears lost even to many members of his own family.
“My own children do not speak Navajo, although my daughter-in-law … speaks it well,” he said. Nez said he decided to tell his story because he wanted to share the contributions and sacrifices of the Navajo during World War II.
“Our Navajo code was one of the most important military secrets of World War II. The fact that the Marines did not tell us Navajo men how to develop that code indicated their trust in us and in our abilities. The feeling that I could make it in both the white world and the Navajo world began there, and it has stayed with me all of my life. For that I am grateful.”
The Navajo Nation’s flags were ordered lowered in Nez’s honor.
Warrior Wednesday seeks to honor and remember those who have fallen defending our country, like Corporal Germaine Laville who perished serving the US Marine Corps Women’s Reserve in 1944.
Germaine Laville was born in Plaquemine, Louisiana, the oldest of seven children. She graduated from Louisiana State University where she was a member of Alpha Chi Omega as well as a number of campus organizations and was beloved by her classmates.
After graduation, Laville began work as a schoolteacher, but being the only one in her family eligible to serve inspired her to enter the US Marine Corps Women’s Reserve on September 6, 1943.
She was serving at the Marine Air Base in Cherry Point, North Carolina on June 3, 1944, when the building she was teaching a class in caught fire. She initially escaped the blaze, but returned to assist her fellow Marines and perished. She had just turned 22.
Betty Bagot remembers her sister, Germaine Laville (video):
Germaine Laville was buried with military honors in her hometown and was later honored by her alma mater, LSU, when the honors dormitories were given her name.
It is said that real heroes don’t wear capes; they wear dog tags…
Rear Admiral Theodore E. Chandler was killed on board USS Louisville (CA 28). He was standing on the flag bridge and was burned by the flaming gasoline. Though wounded, he helped to handle a fire hose and took his turn with the enlisted men for first aid, but the flames had scorched his lungs and all efforts to save him failed. He died the following day.
On 25 September 1944, Private First Class John D. New served with the 1st Marines against the Japanese on Peleliu Island. When an enemy soldier hurled a grenade in the area where two Marines were directing mortar fire, PFC New threw himself on the grenade and absorbed the full impact of the explosion, sacrificing his life to save his comrades. For his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity”, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Medal of Honor citation of Private First Class John D. New, USMC (as printed in the official publication “Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy”, page 230):
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, FIRST Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Peleliu Island, Palau Group, 25 September 1944. When a sudden Japanese soldier emerged from a cave in a cliff directly below an observation post and suddenly hurled a grenade into the position from which two of our men were directing mortar fire against enemy emplacements, Private First Class New instantly perceived the dire peril to the other Marines and, with utter disregard for his own safety, unhesitatingly flung himself upon the grenade and absorbed the full impact of the explosion, thus saving the lives of the two observers. Private First Class New’s great personal valor and selfless conduct in the face of almost certain death reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”
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