As we celebrate the national holiday honoring our veterans, Veteran’s Day, it is with an awareness of the disdain many on the Left have for our military, I choose to honor and remember our American heroes. I am a proud Vietnam Veteran. You can think what you will of that war, but I served my country and defend my brothers in arms who served and fought. I stand with my brothers and sisters in uniform who have and are serving, you are worthy of all the praise we can heap upon you. Thank you for your service!
I would like to begin my tribute to our American heroes by mentioning some from the Revolutionary war. We all know of George Washington’s leadership and exploits and the other more prominent figures of that era, so I will not focus on them. However, there are some who are little known that contributed magnificently to the cause of Freedom and in our victory.
One such man was Henry Knox of Boston. He was a teen-aged street brawler, and some have said, “fighting was in his blood.” He was the co-founder of the Boston Grenadier Corps. He studied extensively military tactics although he had no formal military education. Knox was a key figure in the first victory by the colonist in the war and helped to force the British out of Boston.
Knox was assigned the task of transporting cannons from Fort Ticonderoga some 300 miles overland in difficult winter terrain. He used enormous ox-drawn sleds and moved the cannons to their strategic position at Dorchester Heights and forced the British to evacuate. He seemed to have a unique knack for reading men and sensing ability others missed. He managed the logistics for Washington’s crossing of the Delaware. I salute you Henry Knox and thank you for your service and contribution to Freedom!
Most have heard of Nathanael Green but maybe you did not know that he was born a Quaker, raised a pacifist, and suffered from asthma. He was from Rhode Island and denied election as an officer in the Kentish Guard militia that he helped to form in 1774 because he had a pronounced limp.
George Washington saw something in him that others apparently did not see and appointed him the youngest brigadier general in the Continental Army in 1775 although he had not seen combat. He experienced major successes at the battles of Trenton and Germantown. Some believe that Washington would have wanted him to command the Continental Army had anything happened to Washington. I salute you Nathanael Green and thank you for your service and contribution to Freedom!
Unfortunately, some do not know of the exploits of Alvin York in WW I. He has been called WW I’s ‘greatest civilian soldier.’ He served despite the conflict in his heart as a conscientious objector. He was a devout man from the small mountain town of Pall Mall, Tennessee.
His request to be exempted from military service based on his religious beliefs was denied and in 1918. He was then transported to the front-lines with the 82nd Division of the U.S. Army. On October 8, 1918, York’s incredible act of courage and valor took place. He and his small band of brothers captured 132 German soldiers and he killed over 20 German soldiers forcing the Germans to surrender. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroics. Sergeant York, I salute you and thank you for your service and contribution to Freedom!
We would be remiss to fail to mention Henry Johnson, a black man, and the most famous member of the “Harlem Hellfighters.” This was an all-black National Guard unit among the first American forces to arrive in the European theater in WW I. Initially, he and his fellow Hellfighters were assigned menial duties.
On May 14, 1918, Johnson and another Hellfighter, Needham Roberts, while serving sentry duty were attacked by 20 German soldiers. Both were wounded in the battle and Roberts was so badly wounded he could no longer stand and fire but held his position with hand grenades and his rifle. When Johnson saw that the Germans were attempting to capture Roberts drew his one remaining weapon, a bolo knife and slashed and stabbed the Germans until the retreated. He suffered 21 wounds from gunfire and bayonets and those two men were awarded the Croix de Guerre, one of France’s highest military honors.
Unfortunately, his stand was unrecognized and unrewarded by the U.S. Army until 1996 when he was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and later the Distinguished Cross in 2003. Henry Johnson and Needham Roberts, I salute you and thank you for your service and contribution to Freedom!
When we remember WW II, we know the most famous names and they are deserving of all the honor they are given. However, do we remember men like Lt. Colonel Matt Urban? He was the most decorated American officer of the war and that is incredibly impressive. He fought in seven campaigns and was wounded seven times. He was so invincible the Germans called him “the ghost.”
Lt. Colonel Urban won the Congressional Medal of Honor for ten acts of heroics and bravery during the Normandy campaign. He took on multiple enemy tanks with a bazooka while walking on a cane because of a broken leg endured at the landing on Utah Beach. He once broke out of the hospital, hitchhiked to the front, and immediately immersed himself in the conflict. He found an abandoned tank and drove it toward the enemy line with no crew. Lt. Colonel Urban, I salute you and thank you for your service and contribution to Freedom!
Another hero of that war was Master Sergeant Llewellyn Chilson called the “One Man Army.” His heroics and bravery were amazing, and President Truman pinned seven medals on him after the war. He was captured in Italy with three other soldiers and promptly escaped taking 40 prisoners with him. He took an enemy hill in Southern France with 25 enemy soldiers on it and fighting on the Rhine in March 1945 he took out six German guns and vehicles, crawling from position to position blowing them up. His unit killed, wounded, or captured over 200 German troops and liberated an entire town. Master Sergeant Chilson, I salute you and thank you for your service and your contribution to Freedom!
In considering the Vietnam War it would be appropriate to honor those whose names are on the Wall and those who never came home and are still listed as POWs or MIAs. Another name worthy of honor is Major Drew Dix, the last of four men from Pueblo, Colorado, to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor and the first Special Forces soldier to receive that honor.
Dix was a Special Forces Staff Sergeant in 1968 and fought in the Tet Offensive on January 31, 1968. I came home at the end of December 1967, so this is powerful for me. He supervised a small group of South Vietnamese soldiers as they attacked the city of Chau Phu and faced two heavily armed Viet Cong battalions. Dix systematically and, at times, singlehandedly, attacked multiple building, killing or driving out enemy forces and rescued fourteen civilians. Over two days of fighting Dix and his small group of soldiers killed numerous Viet Cong and capture many more. Major Nix, I salute you and thank you for your service, and your contribution to Freedom!
Others to be remembered and honored are Navy Lt. Thomas R. Norris and Petty Officer 3rd Class Nguyen Van Kiet. Lt. Norris was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and Petty Officer Kiet the Silver Star. On April 2, 1972, an EB-66 carrying Lt. Colonel Iceal Hambleton was shot down near the DMZ and in the middle of the North’s Easter Offensive. Hamilton’s knowledge of critical information made him a high priority for rescue. Air efforts only resulted in more losses and finally, a ground excursion was ordered. The man in charge of this mission was Navy Seal, Lt. Thomas Norris and he led a five-man team into hostile territory and recovered another downed flyer Lt. Mark Clark the son of WWII General Mark Clark.
Lt. Norris led a second mission and was unsuccessful in locating Hambleton and time was expiring on his dangerous and critical mission. He was accompanied by only a Vietnamese Commando, Nguyen Van Kiet disguising themselves as fishermen and traveled deep into enemy territory. They managed to locate Hambleton and rescued him. As they were making their way back to their base in a small sampan they came under heavy fire, which Norris was able to neutralize by being eyes for a strategic airstrike. Lt. Norris, I salute you and thank you for your service and your contribution to Freedom!
It would be impossible to list all the wars and heroes. I apologize for not listing those from the Korean War and the more current wars and battles and the countless others deserving of mention. On this Veteran’s Day, thank a Veteran and let them know you appreciate their contributions and sacrifices. Also, thank the families of the Veterans for they too sacrificed. But most importantly, thank God for allowing us to live in the Free Constitutional Republic known as the United States of America. Thank God for Freedom and join the millions of us who are committed to fighting for Faith, Family, and Freedom.
Happy Veteran’s Day and God bless you and God bless America!