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
Warrior Wednesday is a weekly feature dedicated to honoring and remembering the men and women, past and present, of the US Armed Forces and its Allies.
U.S. Navy Seabee Museum honors the first and only U.S. Navy Seabee to receive the Medal of Honor Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin G. Shields. Shields was also the first US Navy Sailor to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for action in Vietnam. (Link for more about Shields appears at the end of this post).
1854, the first formal graduation exercises are held at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. Previous classes had graduated without a ceremony. Rear Adm. Thomas O. Selfridge and Rear Adm. Joseph N. Miller, are two of the six graduates that year.
1869, Secretary of the Navy Adolph E. Borie, ordered the construction of the first torpedo station on Goat Island, Newport, Rhode Island. During the establishment, the station experimented with torpedoes and trained sailors in the use technology of the weapons. Functions of the station were incorporated in the Naval Undersea Warfare Center.
On the Web:
Saluting, honoring and remembering the men and women, past and present, of the US Armed Forces.
Congressional Medal of Honor presentation:
The Medal of Honor was presented to Elsie Shemin-Roth, right, and Ina Bass, accepting on behalf of their late father, Army Sergeant William Shemin, for actions while serving in France during World War I, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday. Also, a Medal of Honor was awarded to the late Army Private Henry Johnson for his actions, also during World War I.
Photo credit: Cpl. Ricky Gomez/Marine Corps
Photo credit: 1st Sgt. Ross Dobelbower/US Army.
Photo credit: Cpl. Reba James/Marine Corps.
Photo credit: Lance Cpl. Danielle Rodrigues/Marine Corps.
Photo credit: Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton/US Army.
Photo credit: Scott Ash/US Air Force.
Photo credit: Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle.
The Heritage of the Military Funeral and Burial at Sea
Honoring the deceased is a centuries-old practice that includes many traditions across cultures. The customs and traditions behind military funerals and burial at sea date as far back as ancient Greece and Rome. In the Navy’s culture, as the final honor to give to shipmates, traditions are employed that not only signify the service of the deceased, but also display our nation’s commitment to their legacy.
Reversal of Rank
In Royal Connell and William Mack’s “Naval Ceremonies, Customs, and Traditions,”it is noted that the reversal of rank at military funerals is modeled after an ancient Roman custom of “reversing all rank and position when celebrating the feast of Saturn,”showing that, at death, all are equal. This is signified by positioning the honorary pallbearers and all other mourners, if practicable, in reverse order of rank.
Firing Three Volleys
The custom of firing three volleys at funerals comes from an old superstition. It was once thought that evil spirits escape from the hearts of the deceased, so shots are fired to drive away those evil spirits. “The number three has long had a mystical significance,”write Connell and Mack. They note that in Roman funeral rites, earth was cast three times into a grave, mourners called the dead three times by name, and the Latin word vale, meaning “farewell,”was spoken three times as they left the tomb. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also notes that the firing of three volleys “can be traced to the European dynastic wars when fighting was halted to remove the dead and wounded.”The funeral volley should not be mistaken for the twenty-one gun salute which is fired for the U.S. President, other heads of state, Washington’s birthday, and the Fourth of July. At Navy military funerals today, three volleys are fired by a firing detail of seven riflemen during the funeral of active duty personnel, Medal of Honor recipients, and retirees just before the sounding of taps.
The sounding of taps is perhaps one of the most moving and well known elements of military funerals. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, taps originated from the French final call, “L’Extinction des feux,”to extinguish the lights. This “lights out”bugle call was used by the U.S. Army infantry during the Civil War, but in 1862 Gen. Daniel Adams Butterfield suggested a revision of the French tune, and we now have the 24-note bugle call we hear today. Taps was first played at a military funeral in Virginia when Union Capt. John Tidball ordered it to be played as a substitute to the traditional three rifle volleys so as not to reveal the battery’s position to the nearby enemy. At Navy military funerals today, taps is played by a military bugler after the firing of three volleys and just before the flag is folded.
The National Ensign
The National Ensign plays a very special role in today’s military funeral traditions. The custom of placing a flag over the body of a fallen soldier has been recorded in the days before the American Revolution when a private in the British Guards by the name of Stephen Graham wrote that the Union Jack was laid upon the body of a fallen soldier who died in the service of the State to show that the State “takes the responsibility of what it ordered him to do as a solider.”Today, this custom is practiced in American military funerals as a way to honor the service of the deceased veteran. The National Ensign is draped over the casket so the union blue field is at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased. After Taps is sounded, the body bearers fold the flag 13 times—representing the 13 original colonies—into a triangle, emblematic of the tri-cornered hat word by the Patriots of the American Revolution. When folded, only the blue field with stars should be visible. The flag is then presented to the next of kin or other appropriate family member.
Burial at Sea
Another type of ceremony for honoring the deceased is the burial at sea (also called the “at sea disposition”) performed on a U.S. Navy vessel. According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, the tradition of burial at sea is one that dates back to ancient times and has been a practice for as long as people have gone to sea. The body was sewn into a weighted sailcloth and in very old custom, the last stitch was taken through the nose of the deceased. The body was then sent over the side, usually with an appropriate religious ceremony.
During World War II, many burials at sea took place when naval forces operated at sea for months at a time. Today, active duty service members, honorably discharged retirees, veterans, U.S. civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command, and dependent family members of active duty, retirees, and veterans are eligible for at sea disposition.
The ceremony for burial at sea is conducted in a similar manner to that of shore funerals, with three volleys fired, the sounding of taps, and the closing of colors. The casket or urn is slid overboard into the sea after the committal is read, or, if requested, the cremated remains are scattered into the sea. Flowers or wreaths are also allowed to slide overboard or tossed into the sea by a flag bearer.
Because the committal ceremony is performed while a ship is deployed, family members are not permitted to attend burials at sea. So, within 10 days after committal, the commanding officer of the ship will mail a letter giving the date and time of committal and include any photographs or video of the ceremony, the commemorative flag, and a chart showing where the burial took place.
For many centuries, funerals have been a way to give our final respects to our loved ones. The customs and traditions that we share during the ceremony make it all the more meaningful.
World War II Unknown Serviceman
Ceremonies for the selection of the World War II Unknown Serviceman were conducted on board USS Canberra (CAG 2) on May 26, 1958. Medal of Honor recipient Hospitalman William R. Charette, selected the Unknown Serviceman. After the ceremonies, the WWII Unknown Serviceman was transported for interment at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, which fell on May 31.
Above photo: An Army member of the joint services casket team carries the folded U.S. flag from the casket of the Unknown Serviceman of the Vietnam Era to President Ronald Reagan, left, during the interment ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. Photographed by Mickey Sanborn, 28 May 1984.
The Unknown service member from the Vietnam War was designated by Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Allan Jay Kellogg Jr. during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, May 17, 1984. The Vietnam Unknown was transported aboard the USS Brewton to Alameda Naval Base, Calif. The remains were sent to Travis Air Force Base, Calif., May 24. The Vietnam Unknown arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., the next day.
Many Vietnam veterans and President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan visited the Vietnam Unknown in the U.S. Capitol. An Army caisson carried the Vietnam Unknown from the Capitol to the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 28, 1984. President Reagan presided over the funeral, and presented the Medal of Honor to the Vietnam Unknown.
1973, the first U.S. manned orbiting space station, Skylab 2, was launched with an all US Navy crew. Commanding was Capt. Charles Conrad, Jr., with Cmdr. Paul J. Weitz, as the pilot, and Cmdr. Joseph P. Kerwin as the science pilot. Recovery was by USS Ticonderoga (CVS 14)…
Heroes and Warriors, all of them!
On the Web: Request Military Funeral Honors
For information on requesting military funeral honors, visit https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/mfh.
For detailed information and protocol for Navy military funerals, see Bureau of Naval Personnel instruction NAVPERS 15555D. For information on burial at sea, contact the U.S. Navy Mortuary Affairs Burial At Sea Program.
A weekly feature chronicling the sacrifices and achievements of the brave men & women of the US Armed Forces.
1969, Apollo 10 is launched. The mission is a dress rehearsal for the first lunar landing. Cmdr. John W. Young is the command module pilot and Cmdr. Eugene A. Cernan, the lunar module pilot. HS-4 helicopters from USS Princeton (LPH 5) recover the Apollo crew upon splashdown.
1973, Capt. Robin Lindsay Catherine Quigley becomes the first woman to hold a major Navy command when she assumes command of U.S. Navy Service School, San Diego, Calif. She previously served as the director of the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) from 1970 to 1972.
1953, the publishing of the official history of the Women’s Army Corps in WWII, “United States Army in World War II Special Studies: The Women’s Army Corps” by Mattie Treadwell. Originally published by the US Army Center of Military History, it is still one of the best sources on the subject of WACs through WWII and is a daily resource for the staff of the Army Women’s Museum.
Mattie E. Treadwell, a native of Texas, held a B.A. and an M.A. degree from the University of Texas. During World War II she was an officer, first in the WAAC and later in the WAC, holding such assignments as assistant to the Director WAC, assistant to the Air WAC Officer, and assistant to the Commandant, School of WAC Personnel Administration. She had the additional distinction of having been a member of the first class of women sent to the Command and General Staff School. While on active duty she attained the rank of lieutenant colonel.
From September 1947 to March 1952 Miss Treadwell was a historian in the Office of the Chief of Military History. Upon her departure she became Assistant Director, Dallas Regional Office, Federal Civil Defense Administration, in charge of women’s activities and volunteer manpower, an office that she currently holds. Her last military status was that of a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
Above photo: US Army Paratroopers, from 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, and currently assigned to KFOR Multinational Battle Group-East, conduct airborne operations near Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, May 19, 2015.
Above photo: U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers, assigned to the 411th Engineer Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command, return from a situational training exercise where they constructed an improvised ribbon bridge across the Mississippi River near La Crosse, Wis., May 14, 2015, part of Warrior Exercise 15-02. US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Debralee Best.
Above photo: US Army Soldiers, assigned to 3rd Infantry Division, conduct security operations during an urban warfare training exercise, part of Exercise Noble Partner in Vaziani, Georgia (Eastern Europe) May 17, 2015. Noble Partner is a bilateral effort focused on enhancing U.S. and Georgian NATO Response Force interoperability. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel Cole.
Above photo: A US Army Soldier, assigned to 173rd Airborne Brigade and Slovenian 1st Brigade soldiers conduct sling load operations, attaching a trailer to a Slovenian Cougar helicopter, during Exercise Neptune Thrust at Pocek Range in Postonja, Slovenia, May 15, 2015. Neptune Thrust is a combined exercise between U.S. and Slovenian soldiers, focused on enhancing interoperability and developing individual technical skills. U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Paolo Bovo.
Sacramento Marine recruiter honored for work in Iraq
A Sacramento, Calif.-based Marine Corps infantry officer and recruiter who began his military career as an enlisted man will receive a coveted award for leadership Thursday night.
Maj Daniel Grainger, currently the commanding officer of Marine Recruiting Station Sacramento, earned the Lt Col William Leftwich Jr. Trophy for Outstanding Leadership for his actions last year in an increasingly chaotic Iraq.
Above: Marines watch each other’s backs. Here, a combat engineer checks for IEDs while leading a patrol during a training exercise at Udairi Range, Kuwait.
A weekly feature with news, history and photos in appreciation of the brave men and women who protect our freedom.
In 1908, the Navy Nurse Corps is established by Public Law No. 115, though nurses have been volunteering on board Navy ships beforehand.
USS Enterprise (CV 6) is commissioned in May 1938. Notable service during WWII include the Doolittle Raid, the Battle of Midway, the Guadalcanal Campaign, Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and the Okinawa Campaign.
1942, the USS Massachusetts (BB 59) is commissioned. She serves in both the Atlantic and Pacific during World War II, notably participating in Operation Torch, Battle of Leyte Gulf, and the bombing of the Japanese homeland.
1946, USS Philippine Sea (CV 47) is commissioned. During her career, Philippine Sea served first in the Atlantic Ocean and saw several deployments to the Mediterranean Sea as well as a trip to Antarctica as a part of Operation Highjump.
Philippine Sea was not the first choice for the name of this carrier. When the keel was laid, she was the USS Wright named in honor of the Wright Brothers.
In 1943, in the Attu Operation, Task Force 16, commanded by Rear Adm. Thomas C. Kinkaid, landed a force of 3,000 U.S. Army troops of the 7th Infantry Division in the cold and the mist of the Aleutians.
Sad news from last night: Academy midshipman killed in Amtrak crash
A Naval Academy midshipman was one of the six passengers killed in Tuesday night’s Amtrak crash in north Philadelphia, the school announced Wednesday.
In a speech Wednesday at Annapolis, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus identified him as Midshipman 3rd Class Justin Zemser.
“I know that the brigade and the Navy family is struggling with this, and our thoughts go out to the brigade, family brigade for losing such a crucial member of this institution,” Mabus told the audience of midshipmen.
Thoughts and prayers for the victims as well as their family and friends.
Warrior Wednesday strives to honor those who worked and continue to work to make freedom possible through their dedication, sacrifice and bravery.
In 1944, following the support of the Hollandia landings, Task Force 58 begins a two-day attack on Japanese shipping, oil and ammunition dumps, aircraft facilities, and other installations at Truk. Japanese naval aircraft counterattack on U.S. formations.
In 1942, the US Navy’s Task Force 99, which consists of USS Wasp (CV 7), USS Tuscaloosa (CA 37) and USS Wichita (CA 45), plus four destroyers, sail from the Royal Navy base at Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands, as part of the mixed U.S.-British force “Distaff.”
U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Nora W. Tyson was nominated to be Commander, U.S. Third Fleet, San Diego, California http://1.usa.gov/1HkO8QO
The watercolor is of Rear Adm. Tyson when she was the first two star woman Commander, Strike Group Two embarked with USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) in the Mediterranean with U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet. (Image courtesy of U.S. Navy Art Gallery by Monica Allen Perin, Navy Reserve Watercolor, 2011)
Second only to the Navy Medal of Honor, the Good Conduct Medal is the oldest award the U.S. Navy has continuously presented to deserving Sailors.
Prior to the Civil War, when a Sailor completed his enlistment, his commanding officer would certify his time, his trustworthiness at sea, and his proficiency with gunnery. If he wanted to go to sea again, his discharge acted as his references. Back then, “good conduct” was as much about skill than just behavior. A Sailor would enter a recruiting station with his “Good Conduct” report and reenlist. Enlistments worked differently back then compared to today when recruits may have little to no experience sailing.
“[The badge] was established by the Secretary of the Navy [on April 26, 1869] for award to any man holding a Continuous Service Certificate, who had distinguished himself for obedience, sobriety, and cleanliness,” according to John Strandberg and Roger James Bender in The Call of Duty: Military Awards and Decorations of the United States of America.
Given the reputation of Sailors back then, one could be forgiven for believing the bit about sobriety made the badge difficult to obtain, but there are no statistics available today about what percentage of 19th century Sailors were actually presented the badge at discharge.
The badge, which seemed a lot like a medal, was a Maltese cross with a rope-ringed circular medallion at the center. Along the rim of the medallion were the words ‘Fidelity Zeal Obedience’ and at the center, ‘U.S.N.’ Made of nickel and measuring about 31mm wide, the cross hung on a half-inch wide red, white and blue ribbon. On the back, the Sailor’s name was script-engraved.
If and when a Sailor received three such awards after consecutive enlistments, he merited promotion to a Petty Officer.
The badge underwent some redesigns in 1880 and again in 1884. Then 27 years to the day after the certificate became a badge, the badge became the Good Conduct Medal in 1896. In addition to this, by order of General Order 327, the time criterion was set at three years for a Sailor to earn it.
A straight bar clasp was used to attach the circular medal to its maroon ribbon.
“Subsequent enlistments were recognized by the addition of a clasp attached to the suspension ribbon,” relate Strandberg and Bender. “These clasps […] were engraved on the front with the duty station or ship upon which the recipient served and the discharge date and continuous service number on the reverse.”
Over the next several decades, the Navy changed the medal’s appearance numerous times, but the criterion for receiving it seems to have remained the same.
For a brief period during World War II, the Navy stopped awarding the medal to conserve metal and free the clerks from the paperwork they mandated. Instead, notations were made in the person’s service jacket.
Not until the 1950s did the Navy settle on something permanent. The clasps were done away with in favor of 3/16 inch bronze stars denoting multiple enlistments, names on awards were dropped for all but posthumous recipients, and the ribbon was changed to a solid red color.
Nowadays, the rules for earning the medal are a little more complex, but generally if Sailors go three consecutive years with “a clear record (no convictions by court-martial, no non-judicial punishment (NJP), no lost time by reason of sickness-misconduct, no civil convictions for offenses involving moral turpitude)” they are eligible for the Good Conduct Medal.
It’s 1947 and Congress passes Army-Navy Nurses Act, giving Navy Nurse Corps members commissioned rank. The U.S. Navy Nurse Corps volunteered on board US Navy ships beforehand, such as during the Civil War on board USS Red Rover and during the Spanish-American War on board USS Solace (AH 2).
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.
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They are simply called “The Angels of the Airfields”. These brave nurses escorted the physically and psychologically wounded soldiers from the pits of hell to the safety of forward operating hospitals. They are the forgotten heroes of the Second World War.
In 1945, the first two U.S. Navy flight nurses land on an active battlefield (Iwo Jima): Ensign Jane Kendeigh, USNR, and Lt. j. g. Ann Purvis, USNR.
Heroes, every single one of them!
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