The Twelve Tanks of Christmas

The Twelve Tanks of Christmas

The Christmas Classic…..Americans in Wartime Style.  Taking a cue from the 1780 song, we have a short paragraph on several of our vehicles.

On the First Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me—a Model 1917 tank.  This little US copy of the French M1917 tank is one of the Museum’s marquee restorations.  Just finding the correct engine took years.  Wrenching off the rusted bolts holding the suspension together resulted in many a skinned knuckle.  But the staff and volunteers persevered and she made her debut at the Open House several years ago.

On the Second Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me—an M50 Super Sherman.  This tank was originally a Sherman in US service.  Then it made its way to Israel, who gave it to the South Lebanese Army.  It was returned to America and the Museum staff completed her top-to-bottom restoration in time for this year’s Open House.  She gleamed from her fresh coat of paint.

On the Third Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me—an M4A1 Sherman.  Sister to the Super Sherman of day 2, the M4A1 is epitome of a cast-hull, 75mm armed Sherman from WW2.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me—an M4A3 Sherman.  Another cousin in the Sherman family, our M4A3 has a 75mm movie star reputation.  She starred in Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of our Fathers.”

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me—an LVT4 Amtrak.  Just like our M4A3, our LVT4 is a movie star, helping Clint visualize the beach assault scenes in “Flags of our Fathers” by taking him out to sea and giving him a unique cinematic viewpoint.  She can be seen below.

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, my True love gave to me—an East German T-72.  This diesel-powered beast is low-slung, lean and feast.  Sporting the biggest cannon in our collection, a 125mm rifle—the T-72 represents the other side of the Cold War.

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, my True love gave to me—a Swedish Stridsvagin 103 aka S-103C.  This uniquely shaped vehicle turns heads every time the Museum displays her as Mar can make her dance and bow to the audience due to its unique suspension system.

One the Seventh Day of Christmas, my True love gave to me—a Czech OT-810 half-track.  After WW2, the Czechs made copies of the German  Sdkfz 251 half track for use in their Armed Forces.  Our OT-810 is regularly on display during Open House, typically hiding in the tree line as a backdrop for some of our living historians.

On the Eighth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—a Swiss Centurion MK 7.  Probably the heaviest tank in the museum’s collection, the Centurion makes the ground rumble when she rolls by during Open House.  She handles like a sweetheart, but does have a voracious thirst for fuel, so we always have to keep her filled before she makes a run.

On the Ninth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—a Valentine MK III.  Made in 1943, the MKIII still ported the 2-pounder as its main armament.  Designed as an infantry tank, she is slow, but heavily armored for its time.  Listen next time she putters along during a display, her engine is based on a London diesel bus engine.

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—a Soviet PT-76 light tank.  Sometimes mistakenly called an APC, the PT-76 is actually a light tank.  She is amphibious and very mobile.  The PT-76 was used by Vietnamese forces in 1968 to assault the U.S. Special Forces camp at Lang Vei—marking their first use of armor in that war.

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—a U.S. High Mobility Multi-purpose wheeled vehicle, more commonly known as the HUMMER.  The Museum has several variants, both hard and soft top.  Typically you might see them during Open House being used as a general utility vehicle, or to transport our elderly guests around in comfort.

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, my True love gave to me—a British FV432.  This boxy APC may be mistaken for the U.S. M113 APC, but she runs on diesel, not gasoline.  She can be seen during Open House, giving rides to the winners of the Museum new member’s lottery.  Come join up and maybe you too can feel the speed and power of an armored vehicle.

If the above inspires you to adopt one as YOUR favorite vehicle, drop us a line and tell us why.  We appreciate it.  Perhaps a donation to “Keep ‘Em Rolling”, not only during Christmas, but throughout the year.

Happy Holidays

Michael

 

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First Snow

First Snow

Last week, the fine folks of northern Virginia were treated to their first snowflakes of the season.  As the weather forecasters say, it was a conversational snow.  And it occurred mid-day, so it didn’t screw up traffic….always important around here.

Folks gathered up at the windows and pointed to the flakes.  There were a few gasps as the wind whipped it sideways at times.  But in general, everybody took it as a marker of the Holiday season to come.

Holiday season, a time to come out of the cold and enjoy good food, good wine, and warmth of company.  People gather at family and friends, and at the work place.  Suddenly, those ugly sweaters that are only worn during the Holidays are dug out.  Bright red ties make their appearance.  Some may even have a blinking red light or two!

Voices rise and fall as toasts are made.  Stories about past gatherings are swapped.  Folks catch up on the latest news.  A fire generally crackles in the fireplace as the smell of turkey, ham, and fresh bread blooms out of the kitchen and throughout the house.

But there are moments in our past where the first snow was not the  happy memory for some.  It wasn’t the first snow, it was one of many.  And instead of being inside a warm house, they were frozen.  They didn’t argue over the merits of cranberry sauce or cranberry jelly….because they didn’t have any food.

These were the men and women serving in the front lines, defending America against her enemies.  From the iconic General Washington at Valley Forge, to Willie and Joe at the Battle of the Bulge and the Devil Dogs of the U.S. Marine Corps at the Chosin Reservoir.

Today, there are men and women serving in snowy and frozen spots around the globe.  Without family by their sides or a crackling fireplace to keep them warm, they are already tired of snow and dreading the next months.

So as you raise a glass, or try and catch a snowflake on your tongue, think about why you are able to enjoy these simple pleasures.  Remember our service members.  We at the Americans in Wartime Museum do.

That is why we are out in the cold turning wrenches.  Our breathe hanging heavy in the air.  We know what the first snow can mean.  We want to preserve that history and honor it.  Continue the dream by visiting the website and joining our wonderful supporters so we can “Keep ‘em Rolling” in the snow.

 

Michael

 

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The Big Reveal

On Saturday of the 2019 version of the Open House, the Americans in Wartime Museum demonstrated once again why it is an international leader in the restoration and display of armored vehicles.  It did something that literally no other museum across the globe could do…….  Intrigued?  Good, read on.

That day was the culmination of years of planning, and thousands of hours of hard work, sweat, and tears by the staff and volunteers.

Saturday was glorious in terms of weather, and, visitors for the Open House.  The field was crammed with vehicles, living historians, and our wonderful fans.  But as 11:00 am approached, there was a buzz across the display area.

Our incredible announcer, Richard, spoke into the microphone and asked the crowd if they wanted a surprise.  A chorus of “YES” boomed from the audience.  Behind the scenes, the tank mechanics were scurrying around, making everything ready for the Big Reveal.

The driver settled down into his cocoon.  He fiddled with his switches, running his fingers over their familiar shape.  Switches, buttons, and levers that his and other hands had stripped down, restored, repainted, and re-installed over the past year.

The excited crowd gathered near the shop doors.  Inside the driver waited as Richard counted down till 11:00.  Other museum volunteers stood by the shop doors and made a corridor through the crowd.  At 11:00, Richard made the announcement.  The shop doors were flung upward, and the driver flipped his switches.  The air reverberated with the roar of a tank engine coming to life.

As the old shop door traveled upward, a familiar hull shape started to be revealed in the sunshine.  The shape of that hull could only be a SHERMAN!  The crowd murmured in anticipation.  The door kept on its journey upward.  Meanwhile, the driver revved the engine.  And suddenly a very different shape came into focus….that turret and gun was unlike any the crowd had seen before.  It was not a U.S. 75mm or U.S. 76mm….what was it?

Then the tactical markings completed the story; Hebrew.  It could only be an M50 Super Sherman.  Yes, the Americans in Wartime Museum had restored its M50 to full running condition.  The paint gleamed.  Every accessory was in its place.  The fenders were so clean you could eat of them.

The driver threw the transmission into first gear and the massive tracks crunched forward on the gravel.  Museum ground guides moved the M50 from the shop out to the battle area.

Suddenly, the tank sped up and plumes of dust streamed behind!  Was this the deserts of the Middle East, or Northern Virginia?  After two proud laps around the battle area with thousands of photos now stored on visitor cameras, the M50 was parked.

But that was not the end of it.  Later in the day, the Museum ran an M4A1 and an M4A3 Sherman.  Not only had the Americans in Wartime museum restored the M50 to running condition, they ran two additional Shermans for the crowd.

There are less than five running M50s in the world as far as we know at this time.  But no other collection, private or government, has running examples of an M4A1, M4A3, and M50, according to our research.

This is but one more example of why the Americans in Wartime Museum is setting new standards for what a museum should be.  Continue the dream by making a donation and joining our wonderful supporters so we can “Keep ‘em Rolling”.

Michael

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Five Simple Words

Five Words…….

“Thank You For Your Service.” Five simple words that have become part of the American lexicon. We hear it routinely now, but it wasn’t until last night that I realized the incredible power of those five simple words.

Once again, it was at dinner. And with a fine Belgian Ale and a great piece of steak (never underestimate the cognitive benefits of both!) I was with two gentlemen who had served in the army of a European country during the Cold War.

These two gents were incredible. They had a Doctorate’s level of knowledge about the Battle of the Bulge, and a passion for preserving history. I found them to be kindred spirits.

As the conversation become more animated, yet more intimate, I just listened as these guys rattled off the latest historical events in Europe they would be attending this Fall. What was remarkable, yet in hindsight, wasn’t….was that each of the events was dedicated to honoring the legacy of Americans who had served in WWII and liberated their country.

Time and time again, there it was….another story about an American who was now getting a memorial in some form. The people of their small villages knew the personal details of the American units and soldiers that had come across the Atlantic, landed, and then fought on foreign soil to liberate its citizens.

As the dinner plates were cleared away, and dessert was served, I asked about their activities of the last couple of days. As they spoke of Arlington National Cemetery and other historical sites they had visited, one of them stopped and proclaimed the next story was his proudest moment.

These gentlemen were visiting a memorial in southern Virginia and the doscent asked if there were any veterans. Several Americans raised their hands. Then these gentlemen raised their hands and noted they had served in the army of their country.

At this point, the doscent thanked the American veterans for their service to our country. He then turned to my friends and said “Thank you for your service”. This stunned my friends as they had never been thanked by anybody before for their service to their country and their sacrifice.

In fact, one of my friends rummaged in his backpack and dug out a small sticker. On the bottom it proudly proclaimed “Veteran”. Those five words and that sticker are going back to Europe with my friend and will remain with him forever.

So as we begin preparations for the Open House, remember the above. And when we ask you to turn and thank a Veteran for their service…..Remember the impact those five simple words might have.

Michael

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The History of the Marine Corps War Memorial, Washington DC

HONORING THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF IWO JIMA

By Kraig M. Butrum, CEO National Museum of Americans In Wartime

As one who has lived in Washington DC for 24 years, it is an honor to drive by the Marine Corps War memorial that ‘honors the memory of the men and women of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since November 10, 1775.”

Iwo Jima SculptureThe United States Marine Corps War Memorial represents this nation’s gratitude to Marines and those who have fought beside them. While the statue depicts one of the most famous incidents of World War II, the memorial is dedicated to all Marines who have given their lives in defense of the United States since 1775.

The Battle of Iwo Jima was an epic military campaign between U.S. Marines and the Imperial Army of Japan in early 1945. … American forces invaded the island on February 19, 1945, and the ensuing Battle of Iwo Jima lasted for five weeks in some of the bloodiest fighting of World War II.

 

The Picture behind the Statue

The actual tiny island of Iwo Jima lies 660 miles south of Tokyo. Mount Suribachi, an extinct volcano that forms the narrow southern tip of the island, rises 550 feet to dominate the ocean around it. US troops had recaptured most of the other islands in the Pacific Ocean that the Japanese had taken in 1941 and 1942. In 1945, Iwo Jima became a primary objective in American plans to bring the Pacific campaign to a successful conclusion.

On the morning of February 19, 1945, the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions invaded Iwo Jima after an ineffective 72-hour bombardment. The 28th Regiment of the 5th Division, was Iwo Jima Live Statueordered to capture Mount Suribachi. They reached the base of the mountain on the afternoon of February 21 and, by nightfall the next day, had almost surrounded it. On the morning of February 23, Marines of Company E, 2nd Battalion, started the tortuous climb up the rough terrain to the top. At about 10:30 am men all over the island were thrilled by the sight of a small American flag flying from atop Mount Suribachi. That afternoon, when the slopes were clear of enemy resistance, a second, larger flag was raised in the same location.

The Making of a Memorial

Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press caught the afternoon flag-raising in an iconic photograph that eventually won a Pulitzer Prize. Sculptor Felix W. de Weldon, then on duty with the US Navy, was so moved by the image that he constructed first a scale model and then a life-size model of it. Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, and John Bradley posed for the sculptor as he modeled their faces in clay. These three men were believed to be the survivors of the famous flag raising (the others were killed on Iwo Jima). The US Marine Corps has since concluded that John Bradley was not in the famous image of the flag raising.

Once the statue was completed in plaster, it was carefully disassembled and trucked to Brooklyn, N.Y., for casting in bronze. The casting process, which required the work of experienced artisans, took nearly 3 years. After the parts had been cast, cleaned, finished, and chased, they were reassembled into approximately a dozen pieces–the largest weighing more than 20 tons–and brought back to Washington, D.C., by a three-truck convoy. Here they were bolted and welded together, and the statue was treated with preservatives.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower dedicated the memorial in a ceremony on November 10, 1954, the 179th anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Memorial Statistics

Thirty-two-foot-high figures are shown raising a 60-foot bronze flagpole. The flag flies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by presidential proclamation. Every time I drive by, there are families, buses and veterans paying respects regardless of day or night.

Iwo Jim Statue lowered by craneThe figures in the statue occupy the same positions as they were identified at the time in Rosenthal’s historic photograph. Ira Hayes is the figure farthest from the flagpole with both hands reaching up. Franklin Sousley is in front of Hayes, to the right. John Bradley is in front of Sousley. Michael Strank is in front of Hayes, to the left. Rene Gagnon is in front of Strank. Harlon Block is at the foot of the flagpole. But controversy remains who that day was part of the flag raising.

The monument itself is impressive. the M-l rifle and the carbine carried by two of the figures are 16 and 12 feet long, respectively. The canteen would hold 32 quarts of water.

The figures stand on a rock slope above a granite base. The entire memorial is about 78 feet tall.

Granite for the base came from Sweden. The names and dates of every principal Marine Corps engagement since the founding of the Corps form a gold ring around the base.

The entire cost of the statue ($850,000 in 1953 dollars) was donated by US Marines, friends of the Marine Corps, and members of the Naval Service. No public funds were used for this memorial.

 

Ceremonies at the Marine Corps…

The parade ground in front of the memorial and the ceremonies that take place on it help to honor the Marine Corps heritage. Sunset Parades, promotion and retirement ceremonies, and a commemoration of the Marine Corps’ “birthday” all take place here.

A Reflection of our Common American History:

As we come up to the 75 anniversary of this brutal fight, let’s spend a silent moment to thank those who stepped forward to protect the arsenals of Democracy on an island many had never heard of. Iwo Jima is now permanently etched into American History and is now a part of our patriotic lifeblood.

For the generations that now enjoy freedom and the lack of tyranny, we thank you.

We thank the U.S. National Park Service for the historic background of the Marine Corps War Memorial.
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Luna 15 and the Race to the Moon

Luna 15

The “space race” is a phrase that most of us have heard of.  We understand it to be the race between the United States and the Soviet Union to get to the moon.  The race to the moon was one of the many “battles” fought during the Cold War, and America’s winning of that war was in part because we beat the Soviets there.  But many have not heard of the literal race that began on July 13th, 1969, three days before the launch of Apollo 11 which would result in Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin being the first humans to walk on the surface of the moon.

Three days prior to the beginning of Apollo 11’s journey, the USSR launched an unmanned Proton K rocket from Baikonur Cosmogrome, Kazahkstan containing a Ye-8-5 spacecraft.  Dubbed Luna 15, its mission was to land on the moon before Armstrong and Aldrin and return with a sample of lunar soil.  This was the Soviets second attempt at such a mission and their last of the decade.

NASA and the three Apollo 11 astronauts were aware of the Luna 15 mission and were concerned.  Not that the Soviets would win the space race, but that communications between Mission Control and the Apollo 11 spacecraft would be disrupted by the Soviet spacecraft.  To find out more about their intentions, NASA turned to Apollo 8 commander Frank Borman who had just returned from a goodwill trip to the Soviet Union.  Borman returned from that trip with contacts within the Soviet Academy of Sciences.  He called one of them, and within days, NASA had assurances from the Soviets that Luna 15 would not disrupt the Apollo 11 mission, although the true nature of the mission was kept secret.

On July 17th, Luna 15 entered lunar orbit with plans to make two orbits, each containing a course correction which would result in the vehicle being put on it’s correct landing track.  Delays in making those corrections put the mission behind schedule, and further delays would result in a lunar landing attempting being made on July 21rst at 1546 hours UT after 52 orbits.  By this time, Armstrong and Aldrin had already made their successful moon walk and were preparing to lift off from the surface.

Luna 15’s mission, which was monitored by British scientists, ended when it crashed into a mountain as a result of incorrect data.  It didn’t much matter thought, the United States had won the race to the moon and a very important battle of the Cold War.  A war that would eventually be won by the United States and its allies.  The western system of democracy, of which, individual liberty was its main tenant was proven to be superior to the Soviet communist system.  The fall of the USSR would result in freedom and prosperity for millions, and the Soviets willingness to cooperate with NASA by providing information on its own lunar mission, in a small way, contributed to their own demise.

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Historic First Steps

July 20, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s historic first steps on the moon.  While this feat didn’t feature direct combat against a hostile nation, it was part of the broader Cold War being waged against the Soviet Union.  

President John F. Kennedy, a fierce critic and opponent of communism set the bar extremely high when, during his speech in Houston on September 12, 1962, set the goal of landing a man on the moon and bringing him home safely before the end of the decade.  He said we should set this as a goal, “not because it is easy, but because it is hard.”  

At the time of the speech, only four Americans had ever been into space combining for a total of six orbits around the Earth.  To say the goal of putting a man on the moon in less than 10 years was ambitious is an understatement.  Nobody even knew exactly how to do it, and some would say that it couldn’t even be done.  To up the stakes, we were in a race with the Soviets to get there first.  A race that would play a part in determine who would win the Cold War. 

Three men would be chosen from a pool of America’s finest pilots to be part of the Apollo 11 mission that would land on the moon.  All where current or former members of the military.  Air Force veteran Michael Collins would serve as the Command Module Pilot, Air Force Veteran Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin was selected to be the Lunar Module Pilot, and test pilot and Navy Veteran Neil Armstrong the mission commander.

Although three men made up the crew of Apollo 11, it was thousands of men and women who can say that they contributed to Armstrong and Aldrin’s moonwalk.  It was men and women from many different walks of life, ethnic and religious backgrounds, all working to make the first humans to walk on another world, Americans.  When Armstrong and Aldrin planted the America Flag on the surface of the moon, it became a testament to American resolve and American exceptionalism. 

The 1960’s was a rough year for the United States.  An unpopular war was raging in Southeast Asia.  Race relations were strained.  Two men named Kennedy were assassinated as was the leader of the black civil rights movement, Martin Luther King.  Through all of that and more, America never waivered from the goal Kennedy had set.  

On July 20, 1969, arguably the greatest feat in human history was accomplished when Neil Armstrong uttered the famous worlds, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”  The mission was accomplished, the goal reached with five months to spare.  America had put men on the moon and returned them safely before decades end. 

10 more Americans would walk on and explore the lunar surface, and two decades later, the Soviet Union would be no more.  The Cold War would end with America and its western allies the victors.   

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the first moonwalk, we remember those men and women, civilian and military, who contributed to the success of the mission.  We remember those who gave their lives so freedom could prevail.  Those who stood tall and in the way of the communist scourge that brought about so much misery and death.  The fight was not easy and did not come without great sacrifice; nothing worth achieving ever does.  Victory was achieved because of a unified and committed people in whom failure was not an option.   

 

Dennis

 

“Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world’s leading space-faring nation.

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war.” – John F. Kennedy 

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The Stuart Light Tank

M3 Stuart Light Tank

The M3 Stuart Light Tank was designed for service during World War II by The U.S. Army Ordnance Department and built by the American Car & Foundry Company.  A manufacturer of railroad cars, ACF built approximately 22,744 Stuarts between 1941 and 1944 in both the M3 and M5 variants.

The M3 and M3A1 Stuart got it’s power from an air-cooled radial engine while the M5 variant used twin Cadillac V8 automobile engines.  The later version of the Stuart had many advantages over it’s older brother.  It was quieter, ran at a cooler temperature, had more room inside for its four man crew,  and its operation was easier to learn because of it’s use of an automatic transmission.  Its firepower consisted of a 37mm main gun and it had a range in the neighborhood of 75 miles depending on the speed at which it was run.  the Stuart Light Tank could cruise at 36 mph on road and 18 mph off.

The first use of combat came during the North African Campaign and it was used by not

only the United States, but the British and other Allied armies throughout the war. In addition to Africa and the European Theatre, the Stuart saw action in Asia and the Pacific.

After the wars end, the Stuart remained in service with the Chinese Nationalist Army, the

M5A1 Stuart at the 2018 Tank Farm Open House.

Indonesian National Army, the Portuguese Army, the El Salvador Army, the Brazilian Army, and the South African Armoured Corps.  Today, the Stuart is used in training with the Armed Forces of Paraguay.

The M5 variant was originally supplied to the British who named it after Confederate general, J.E.B. Stuart.  The Brits often referred to the Stuart Light Tank as the “Honey”, or “Honey Tank” because it was such a sweet ride compared to some of their other tanks.

To see more of our vehicles, check out our Gallery of Tanks.

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Lost at Sea

Lost at Sea, Somewhere, 1780…….

Last week we all gave thought to the thousands of Americans that charged ashore on the beaches of Normandy.  Places like Sainte-Mere-Eglise, Dog Red, and Pointe Du Hoc are all indelibly connected with their sacrifice.

But I want to highlight a broader view of Americans in Wartime that you might not think about.  The many that have served, and sometimes given their lives for America, that are just “Lost at Sea.”

This blog post had its genesis last week in a dinner with a former US Ambassador.  An incredible gentleman, he told many a story—large and small—over a dinner of “stuffies” and seafood.  As he spoke of his many different postings in foreign lands, I started to do the math in my head of his years of service to the country.  I stopped at 30+.

His time was not in uniform and he wasn’t armed with a rifle, but nonetheless, he faced danger and gave to his country.  He represented America in crisis and in times of peace.  He was part of the US diplomatic corps—our colleagues at State Department who tirelessly work on a different aspect of national security than our men and women in uniform.

The Ambassador was so disarming about his service, I was determined to further explore the contribution of his colleagues, dating back to the very formation of the United States of America.  I found a page associated with the American Foreign Service Association.

On their site, they have a Memorial List of all the State Department personnel that have given their lives.  As I started to scroll down that list, I noticed the first date…1780.  Wow, nearly 170 years before D-Day.  The list kept scrolling, and at the very bottom was a notation that as of May 2018, the list had 250 souls on it.  I was embarrassed to admit that I had no clue of the size of the sacrifice of our State Department.

I was drawn back to the first entry tho.  When I clicked on the name of William Palfrey, his bio came up.  I have reproduced it below in its entirety because of the last line.  Americans of ALL service to our country deserve to have their history known, and not be “never heard from again”.

Michael

William Palfrey
Lost at Sea — 1780

William Palfrey was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1741. He was an active participant in the American Revolution, serving as chief clerk to John Hancock, as aide-de-camp to George Washington and, later, as a paymaster-general of the Continental Army with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

In 1780, the new United Stated Congress unanimously appointed Palfrey as U.S. consul general to France. He began his sea voyage on December 20 of that year on the ship Shillala but was never heard from again.

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The Liberation of Europe

75 years ago today, June 6, 1944, over 160,000 Allied troops made their way across the English Channel, landing along a 50 mile stretch of beach to begin the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany.

Thousands of ships and aircraft would support the troops who landed on the beaches that day, thousands of whom would be killed or wounded.  In the end, Nazi Germany was defeated and Europe liberated.

Michael Hubiack was one of the thousands of U.S. troops who took part in what was code named Operation Overlord.  Very early in the morning the troops climbed down rope ladders to landing crafts.  As the morning haze lifted, they could see a beautiful beach that was littered with large metal obstacles.  It was low tide when Michael and G Company landed on Omaha Beach as the 1st wave of Operation Overlord (D-Day).   Once the ramp of the landing craft was dropped, they ran up the beach and passed the obstacles.  As they got further into the beach, the German machine guns opened up on the troops. G Company went as far as they could into a rocky area and set up the 60 mm mortar.

Michael was the Assistant Gunner on the 60mm mortar.  The Gunner would adjust the range and they began to fire on the German location.  The beach started to take German artillery fire and Michael’s mortar location was hit and everyone in the area was wounded. Michael had shrapnel wounds to his head, hand and back.  He laid in the rocks until the heavy fighting had passed.   A Navy medic cared for Michael and carried him to a transport ship and the wounded from Omaha Beach returned to England.

Michael spent 3 months in a hospital in Totten, England before being loaded onto a C47 aircraft for the flight back to the United States.  Michael and other wounded men would recuperate at the famed resort, The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. After Michael recovered from his wounds, he was discharged from the Army.

Today we remember those brave troops who willingly put themselves in harms way and those who never came home to defeat tyranny and bring freedom back to millions across Europe.

 

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