7 Medal of Honor recipients to speak at California State University, San Bernardino

 MEDAL OF HONORThere are three present day variations of the Medal of Honor. (L to R above): A wreath version designed in 1904 for the U.S. Army; the original simple star shape established in 1861, which the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard have retained; and an altered wreath version for the U.S. Air Force, designed in 1963 and adopted in 1965.


Something very rare is happening next week in the Inland Empire.

Seven Medal of Honor recipients are scheduled to speak Tuesday, March 12 at California State University, San Bernardino as part of the 6th Annual Stater Bros. Charities Dave Stockton Heroes Challenge Golf Tournament.

The Medal of Honor, the country’s highest military decoration, is bestowed on a member of the U.S. Armed Forces who distinguishes himself or herself through “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and  beyond the call of duty.”

The men will share their stories of heroism and gallantry and the importance of teamwork, leadership, and dedication to America, and answer questions from local Jr. ROTC Cadets and members of veterans’ organizations from across the Inland Empire Region.

“It is an honor and a privilege to host this event for our community,” Jack H. Brown, Chairman of the Board and Chief Financial Officer, Stater Bros. Markets said in a news release announcing the event.

Photos of the men below include a link to their individual Medal of Honor citations at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website.

Harvey C. Barnum Jr., 1st Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps, Vietnam War

Salvatore A. Giunta, Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, War in Afghanistan

Robert J. Modrzejewski, Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, Vietnam War

Robert M. Patterson, Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army, Vietnam War

Ronald E. Ray, 1st Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Vietnam War

James A. Taylor, 1st Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Vietnam War

Jay R. Vargas, Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, Vietnam War

Medal of Honor History

On Dec. 9, 1861 Iowa Senator James W. Grimes introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate  designed to “promote the efficiency of the Navy” by authorizing the production and distribution of   “medals of honor.” On Dec. 21, 1861 the bill was passed, authorizing 200 such medals be produced “which shall be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen and marines as shall distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other seamanlike qualities during the present war (Civil War).” President Lincoln signed the bill and the (Navy) Medal of Honor was born. The same medal is bestowed to members of the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard.

The U.S. Army Medal of Honor was established in 1862.

The U.S. Air Force Medal of Honor was authorized in 1956, and adopted in 1965.

Union Army soldier Jacob Parrott / Source: http://www.locomotivegeneral.com

The first award of the Medal of Honor was made March 25, 1863 to U.S. Army Private Jacob Parrott, who served with the 33rd Ohio Infantry during the Civil War.

The last award of the Medal of Honor was made Feb. 11, 2013 to U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha.

Medal of Honor Statistics

  • Since 1863, here have been 3,460 recipients of the Medal of Honor.
  • Today, there are 80 living recipients of the Medal of Honor.
  •  World War II
    • There are 11 Living Recipients who performed actions in the World War II.
    • There are 456 Deceased Recipients who performed actions in the World War II
  • Korean War
    • There are 11 Living Recipients who performed actions in the Korean War.
    • There are 125 Deceased Recipients who performed actions in the Korean War.
  • Vietnam War
    • There are 54 Living Recipients who performed actions in the Vietnam War.
    • There are 195 Deceased Recipients who performed actions in the Vietnam War.
  •  War In Iraq
    • There are 4 Deceased Recipients who performed actions in the War In Iraq.
  • War In Afghanistan
    • There are 4 Living Recipients who performed actions in the War In Afghanistan.
    • There are 3 Deceased Recipients who performed actions in the War In Afghanistan.
  • At one time, there were as many as five Medal of Honor recipients living in the Coachella Valley

Medal of Honor Memorial at Riverside National Cemetery

Sources: Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Doug Sterner, Home of Heroes website

Hall of Fame outfielder Ralph Kiner flew patrol bombers during World War II

Just a few years before Hall of Fame slugger Ralph Kiner donned a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform and belted his way into the Major League Baseball record books — leading the National League in home runs his first seven seasons in the majors — he flew PBM Mariner patrol bombers over the Pacific during World War II.

Kiner, who was elected to the Hall in 1975 and has been a radio and television broadcaster for the New York Mets since the team’s inception in 1962, recently returned to the desert after living for the past eight years in Florida.

Kiner grew up in Alhambra, and was playing in a semipro baseball game in Pasadena the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

The news spread quickly, and Kiner, who was 19, joined the hundreds of thousands of other young men who lined up to fight for their country.

“We couldn’t believe we were at war,” he said. “The next day was Monday and I went down and signed up for the cadet program for Navy flying.”

Although he’d enlisted, he wasn’t called to duty until June of 1943 while he was playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, a Double-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, in the International League.

The outfielder’s first stop on his wartime journey was Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he began his pre-flight training in the Naval aviation program. He continued his training at Saint Mary’s College near San Francisco.

During this time, Kiner obtained his pilot’s license after making his solo with only eight hours of flying-time experience.

“Then we went to Livermore (Naval Air Station) where we flew bigger and faster planes,” he said.

One of Kiner’s last stateside stops was to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, in Texas, where he learned to fly the PBY Catalina flying boat. He was awarded his wings on Dec. 6, 1944 and commissioned an ensign.

Ralph Kiner’s Naval Aviator Certificate

He was briefly stationed at Naval Air Station Alameda on San Francisco Bay before being sent overseas to Naval Air Station Kaneohe, in Hawaii.

He flew anti-submarine missions in the Pacific, near the Johnson Islands, in the PBM Mariner, a patrol bomber flying boat.

“I was a navigator in the beginning,” he said. “The hardest part was celestial navigation. You got up in the hatch with a sextant and you identify stars … we had no landmarks — there was only water.”

“You’d check the waves, which gave you the wind actions … You draw a fix, and if you were within 10 miles of where you were supposed to be, you were doing a good job,” he said, laughing.

“Radar was just starting to come in. We didn’t have it on our plane.”

The aircraft was always on the water, he said.

“All take offs and landing were on the sea. As you started down the runway of water you got on the hull and that got your tail off the water. We got on the step of the water and then we got going fast enough to take off.”

Although he spent many months away from the game of baseball, he said the military life and physical conditioning — the men had to be able to swim in the pool for 45 minutes at a time — kept him in good shape, which he hoped would make for an easy transition back to the field.

“I didn’t really get a chance to play any baseball for 2 1/2 years,” he said.

“It was a tough life. You had to continue to abide by the schedule, get up in the middle of the night and stand guard duty. It was work. It was an education. It was a different way of living.”

Kiner was in San Francisco when the war ended, in August, 1945, then was transferred back to Hawaii.

“We figured we’d be in Hawaii for a long time — a year or more — when I got orders to go to Singapore. We were all set to go, then they changed my orders and I came back to San Francisco.

“Amazingly, most of the guys I played with re-enlisted to get air pay (about $75 a month). I wanted to play baseball. I wanted to get out right then.”

Kiner was honorably discharged on Dec. 5, 1945.

“The guys that stayed in the reserves got called back during Korea. That’s what happened to Ted Williams.

“Williams was called back. He had to serve time in the Marine Corps. He was one of the greatest hitters, if not the greatest hitter. He was more proud of being a Marine than being in the Hall of Fame.”

After Kiner got out of the service, he got back to work on the ball field.

“I played, I worked out a lot. I went to spring training with the Pirates and I had a tremendous spring. Thirteen home runs in about 28 games, and I made the team.

“I played center field for the Pirates in St. Louis. I got a hit in my first game.”

In the third game of the series, Kiner smashed the first home run of his major league career.

The first time Kiner arrived in Pittsburgh, it was 10 a.m., but it looked like it was nighttime.

He’d never experienced life in a steel-mill town.

“It was so smoky, you couldn’t believe it. Soot was almost like fog, all over the city. Coming from Southern California where there was no smog, it was harder to breathe. You’d wear a white shirt and an hour and a half later it would be dirty.

Kiner wore jersey number 43 his first year with the Pirates, in 1946.

“Back then, the higher number you had, the less chance you had of making the ball club. The good numbers were always low.”

“So the next year came around, and the player who had No. 4 was traded to the Boston Braves. I went into the clubhouse and I asked for No. 4 — that was a prestige number — and I got it.”

Kiner, a six-time All- Star who also played for the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, wore No. 4 for all but his first and last years in the big leagues. The Pirates retired his No. 4 uniform jersey in 1987.

Kiner dated actress Janet Leigh, of “Psycho” fame, while she was in Pittsburgh in 1951 filming some scenes for the movie “Angels in the Outfield.”

Years later, Kiner was in the press box at Shea Stadium in New York, when he noticed Jamie Lee Curtis and her husband were in the room.

He asked his then-wife if he should go over to Curtis and tell her he dated her mom, and his wife told him he should do it.

Kiner started telling Curtis he used to play for the Pirates and, “With that, she jumped up threw her arms around me, and said, ‘Daddy! I’ve been searching for you all my life!’ ”

Curtis was only kidding around, but her quick response impressed Kiner.

“I thought the reaction was so fast, it was just stunning!” he said.

Kiner had an earlier encounter with another starlet from the silver screen.

In 1949, “I had one date with Elizabeth Taylor. She was 17 years old.”

Kiner was about 27.

“Bing Crosby fixed me up — he was one of the owners of the Pirates — and he said, ‘How would you like to go out with Elizabeth Taylor?’ ”

“He set it up with her agent. She was just starting out. I think she had just made ‘National Velvet.’”

The two went to see the movie “Twelve O’Clock High,” at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, then joined another couple for dinner at Romanoff’’s in Beverly Hills.

He said Louella Parsons — the movie/gossip columnist — stopped by the table for some chit chat.

There was no second date.

“She wouldn’t go out with me after that,” Kiner said.

Name: Ralph Kiner
Age: 90
Born: Oct. 27, 1922
Hometown: Alhambra
Residence: Rancho Mirage
Military branch: U.S. Navy
Years served: Dec. 8, 1941 – Dec. 5, 1945
Rank: Ensign
Family: Three children, Scott Kiner and Michael Kiner of Palm Desert, and Kathryn Kiner of Rancho Mirage; seven grandchildren

Baseball Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, 90, talks about flying seaplanes in World War II as a naval aviator on Thursday, January 24, 2013 at his Rancho Mirage, Calif. home. "The hardest part is getting the nerve to come back," Kiner said of his first solo. After his military service, Kiner went on to play Major League Baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, and Cleveland Indians. His jersey #4 is retired in Pittsburgh. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975. After his playing days, Kiner became a broadcaster for the New York Mets and has continued with the team for over 40 years. Crystal Chatham, The Desert Sun




Military deaths: December 5, 2012 – February 14, 2013

The following is a listing of military deaths between December 5, 2012 – Feb. 6th. The Debrief‘s last casualty post was December 5. This post is broken into sections including Operation Enduring Freedom deaths as well as other military deaths due to on and off duty mishaps.

Department of Defense announced the following military casualties which occurred during deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

No OEF deaths have been reported by the DoD thus far in February.

20 Jan. 2013: Sgt. Mark H. Schoonhoven, 38, of Plainwell, Mich. died Jan. 20, at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas from wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device on Dec. 15, 2012 in Kabul, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 32nd Transportation Company, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

16 Jan. 2013: Sgt. David J. Chambers, 25, of Hampton, Va., died Jan. 16, in Panjwai District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when he encountered an enemy improvised explosive device while on dismounted patrol.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, under control of the 7th Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

10 Jan. 2013: Sgt. Aaron X. Wittman, 28, of Chester, Va., died Jan. 10, in Khogyani District, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when he was attacked by a rocket propelled grenade while on mounted patrol.  He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

29 Dec 2012: Army Pfc. Markie T. Sims, 20, of Citra, Fla., died Dec. 29 in Panjwal, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 38th Engineer Company, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, under control of the 7th Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

• 24 Dec. 2012: Army Sgt. Enrique Mondragon, 23, of The Colony, Texas, died Dec. 24, in Baraki Barak, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when his unit was attacked by small arms fire while on dismounted patrol. He was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 173rd Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Bamberg, Germany.

• 22 Dec. 2012: Navy Cdr. Job W. Price, 42, of Pottstown, Pa., died Dec. 22 of a non-combat related injury while supporting stability operations in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan. Price was assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit in Virginia Beach, Va.

14 Dec. 2012: Army Sgt. 1st Class Kevin E. Lipari, 39, of Baldwin, N.Y., died Dec. 14 in Logar province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to HHC 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Bamberg, Germany. This incident is under investigation.

14 Dec. 2012: Marine Corps Sgt. Michael J. Guillory, 28, of Pearl River, La., died Dec. 14 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, Camp Pendleton, Calif. This incident is under investigation. The Naval Safety Center posted a mishap summary involving a Marine killed during an ATV rollover in Afghanistan on the same day and with the same rank (E-5).

13 Dec. 2012: Army Staff Sgt. Nicholas J. Reid, 26, of Rochester, N.Y., died Dec. 13 in Landstuhl, Germany from wounds suffered on Dec. 9, in Sperwan Village, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 53rd Ordnance Company (EOD), 3rd Ordnance Battalion (EOD), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

13 Dec. 2012: Army Staff Sgt. Nelson D. Trent, 37, of Austin, Texas, died Dec. 13 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Fort Worth, Texas.

10 Dec. 2012: Army Staff Sgt. Wesley R. Williams, 25, of New Carlisle, Ohio, died Dec. 10 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, under control of the 7th Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

8 Dec. 2012: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque, 28, of Monroeville, Pa., died of combat related injuries suffered Dec. 8, while supporting operations near Kabul, Afghanistan. Checque was assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit. Checque was a Navy SEAL and died during a mission to rescue Dr. Dilip Joseph, who was abducted by Taliban insurgents, CNN Reports.

As of 10 a.m. EST, Thursday, Feb. 14, U.S. casualties during Operation Enduring Freedom totaled 2,168 including 2,047 in Afghanistan, 118 in other locations, and 3 DoD civilians. 18,255 military personnel have been wounded in action which is an increase of 146 WIA from statistics cited in The Debrief’s previous casualties post last on Wednesday, December 5.

The following on-duty non-OEF related military deaths have been reported for December – present.

15 Jan 2013: (FLORIDA) An Army National Guard Soldier died Jan. 15, from injuries sustained in a single vehicle crash. The 20-year-old Soldier was driving a HMMWV on a Florida highway when he lost control of the vehicle while attempting to change lanes and the vehicle overturned. HMMWV is the acronym for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, also known as a “Humvee” tactical vehicle. According to police, the soldier was not wearing his seatbelt and was thrown from the vehicle. He was air evacuated from the crash but died following the medical transport at the hospital.

14 Jan 2013: (MacDill AFB, FL) Air Force Staff Sgt. Emily Elizabeth Clayburn, 29, of Palatine Bridge, N.Y., died in an industrial area accident. She was assigned to 6th Logistic Readiness Squadron, 6th Air Mobility Wing,

09 Jan 2013: (Abilene, TX) Marine Corps E-7 died on 18 Jan from injuries sustained in a multi-vehicle mishap. He was driving a government vehicle.

09 Dec 2012: (Camp Pendleton, CA) Navy E-4 was killed after he was ejected during a HMMWV rollover. HMMWV is the acronym for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, also known as a “Humvee” tactical vehicle.

The following off-duty military deaths have been reported for December – present. This list includes all deaths and mishap investigations The Debrief has access to, but does not include all PLRs posted by the U.S. Army Combat Readiness / Safety Center.

06 Feb 2013: (Camp Pendleton, CA) Marine Corps E-3 died in a single-vehicle mishap.

05 Feb 2013: (Meridian, MS) Navy E-5 passenger died on 07 Feb from injuries sustained in a single-vehicle mishap.

24 Jan 2013: (Naples, Italy) Navy E-4 died in a multi-vehicle mishap.

20 Jan 2013: (St. Lucie County, FL) Navy E-6 died in an automobile mishap.

20 Jan 2013: (Hawaii) Army soldier Trevor McGurran, 23, of Wahiawa, Hawaii died in a motorcycle accident. He was assigned to 500th Military Intelligence Brigade, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

20 Jan 2013: (Houston, TX) A 38-year-old Soldier died Jan. 20 from injuries sustained in a single vehicle crash while on leave in Houston, Texas. The Soldier was driving his vehicle at a high rate of speed through a construction zone when he lost control, struck a curb, and slammed into a concrete pillar. He was evacuated to a local medical center where he was pronounced deceased.

19 Jan 2013: (Georgia) A 47-year-old Army officer died Jan. 19 from injuries sustained in a single vehicle crash in Georgia. He was driving his vehicle when he lost control in a curve. The vehicle exited the roadway and struck a tree. Seatbelt use has not been reported but initial reports indicate he was ejected from his vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

13 Jan 2013: (Jacksonville, FL) Navy E-5 found deceased in hotel hot tub.

06 Jan 2013: (San Diego, CA) Navy E-4 died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle mishap.

03 Jan 2013: (Newport News, VA) Navy E-5 killed in motorcycle accident involving a tractor-trailer.

27 Dec 2012: (Beaufort, SC) Marine Corps E-4 died in a motorcycle mishap when he was struck head on by another vehicle.

27 Dec 2012: (Wichita, KS) Marine Corps E-3 passenger died in a single-vehicle mishap after the vehicle hit a ditch, went airborne and overturned.

24 Dec 2012: (Pagat Caves, Guam) Navy E-3 drowned while swimming.

19 Dec 2012: (Escondido, CA) Marine Corps E-5 motorcyclist died in a multi-vehicle mishap.

01 Dec 2012: (Mission Bay, CA) Marine Corps E-3 died in a recreational diving mishap.

Sources: Department of Defense, Naval Safety Center, Air Force Safety Center, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center.

Navy releases suspected killer’s service record

The service record and military biographical data for Christopher Jordan Dorner, 33, was released this afternoon by a U.S. Navy spokesman in Washington, D.C.

The former Naval reservist and Los Angeles Police Department officer is the subject of a Southern California-wide manhunt after he allegedly killed three people this week including a Riverside police officer this morning.

Dorner, who was honorably discharged, was officially released from service as a Naval reservist last Friday, but the spokesman said Dorner served as part of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) from 2010-2013.The IRR is a form of standby service where personnel typically do not drill or train and participate in little to no military activity. IRR service members retain their rank and job specialties, some base privileges and military benefits, but are not paid unless they perform certain duties if they are activated or volunteer for active duty.

Not listed on the released biographical data are any military schools that Dorner may have attended. In the suspect’s manifesto published online by KTLA 5 he writes, “I will utilize every tool within INT collections that I learned from NMITC in Dam Neck.”

NMITC is the acronym for the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Center located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. According to the NMITC website, “The mission of the Center for Information Dominance, is to deliver full spectrum Cyber Information Warfare, and Intelligence Training to achieve decision superiority.” It was founded in 1986 at Naval Air Station Oceana at the Dam Neck Annex about 5 miles south of Virginia Beach.


Name: Christopher Jordan Dorner

Age: 33

Home of Record: La Palma, CA

Date Commissioned: 3 July 2002

Loss Date: 1 Feb 2013

Rank/Date of Rank: Navy Lieutenant (O-3) 1 August 2006

In the Navy, a Lieutenant (O-3) is equivalent rank to a Captain in Marine Corps, Air Force, and Army.

Service Dates/Assignments: Arrived – Detached

  • Various Reserve Units: 1 Dec 2009 – 21 Jan 2010
  • Navy Reserve NAS Fallon, NV: 7 Mar 2009 – 30 Nov 2009
  • *30 May 2007 – 6 Mar 2009: Gap of time where Dorner’s military assignment is undisclosed in information released by U.S. Navy
  • Navy Mobilization Processing Site (NMPS) San Diego, CA: 23 Apr 2007 – 29 May 2007
  • Coastal Riverine Group Two Det Bahrain: 3 Nov 2006 – 23 Apr 2007
  • Coastal Riverine Group One, San Diego, CA: 10 Jul 2006 – 31 Oct 2006
  • Navy Mobilization Processing Site (NMPS) San Diego, CA: 6 Jul 2006 – 10 Jul 2006
  • *29 Feb 2006 – 5 July 2006: Gap of time where Dorner’s military assignment is undisclosed in information released by U.S. Navy
  • Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit: 23 Jun 2004 – 28 Feb 2006
  • Navy Personnel Command: 16 Jun 2004 – 22 Jun 2004
  • Various Aviation Training Units: 4 Jul 2002 – 15 Jun 2004

Awards and Decorations

  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Iraq Campaign Medal
  • Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
  • Sea Service Deployment Medal
  • Navy Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon
  • Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/ “M” Device
  • Rifle Marksman Ribbon
  • Pistol Expert Medal

Clues to SoCal manhunt suspect’s military background

Photos surfacing of the disgruntled former LAPD officer who is accused of killing three people show Christopher Dorner wearing a U.S. Navy BDU field uniform and the grade of Lieutenant, which is a Navy O-3 and equivalent to a Marine Corps, Air Force, or Army Captain.

ABC News reports that Dorner, 33, was a Navy Reservist until Friday. They report he deployed to Bahrain and earned weapons qualifications as a rifle marskman and pistol expert.

In the suspect’s manifesto published online by KTLA 5 he writes, “I will utilize every tool within INT collections that I learned from NMITC in Dam Neck.”

NMITC is the acronym for the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Center located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. According to the NMITC website, “The mission of the Center for Information Dominance, is to deliver full spectrum Cyber Information Warfare, and Intelligence Training to achieve decision superiority.” It was founded in 1986 at Naval Air Station Oceana at the Dam Neck Annex about 5 miles south of Virginia Beach. NAS Oceana is a Naval jet base with F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets.

Corsair pilot earned Navy Cross for battleship hit during WWII

Naval aviator Neil Swarthout is pictured second from left in front of F4U Corsair

U.S. Naval aviator Neil Swarthout — who flew F4U Corsair fighter bombers off the aircraft carrier USS Hancock during World War II — was awarded the Navy Cross, “for extraordinary heroism in combat,” during the battle at Japan’s Kure Naval Arsenal in July, 1945.

The Navy Cross is the second highest military decoration for valor — only the Medal of Honor is higher — that can be awarded to a member of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard.

Swarthout was just 19 and attending Oregon State College (now Oregon State University) when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

The draft age was 20, and Swarthout, in an effort to stay out of the “walking Army,” enlisted in the Volunteer Naval Reserve class V-5 Naval Aviation Cadet program. The program enlisted candidates to train as aviation cadets.

He began flight training in October, 1942 in Miles City, Mont., where he learned to pilot a Piper Cub.

After a short leave spent at home in Portland, in January, 1943, he boarded a train for a trip east.

From Portland, the men were sent to Iowa City, Iowa on a coal-burning train. Coal dust blew into the train, coating the men — who did not have a change of clothes — in soot.

“It took five days to get there,” he said. “When we arrived, it was six degrees below zero.”

His training days in Iowa City were split between academics and athletics.

“They were trying to build up our minds and our bodies,” he said.

After three months, he was sent to Hutchinson Naval Air Station in Kansas for primary training in a Stearman bi-plane. Three months later, he was off to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, where he received his pilot wings and was commissioned as an ensign on Nov. 6, 1943.

Former President George H.W. Bush graduated from NAS Corpus Christi just a few months earlier, in June, 1943.

Swarthout was assigned to Naval Auxiliary Air Station Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Fla., where he learned to fly SBD Dauntless dive bombers. He returned to the West Coast in early 1944, and was assigned to Naval Air Station Alameda in California.

He joined Air Group 6 in May, 1944 and did his final flight training for overseas operations at Santa Rosa Auxiliary Air Station.

There, the pilots practiced simulated aircraft carrier flight deck take-off and landings on the airfield.

“We probably did that 100 times. Then they sent us out to a jeep carrier (a Liberty ship with a flight deck attached) and we flew out to the ship from San Francisco. It was pretty exciting. I was more scared of the take-offs than the landings. I never knew if the engine was going to stay running. I didn’t want to go for a swim,” he said, laughing.

After qualifying for carrier landings, Swarthout was assigned to a fighter bomber squadron (VBF-6) in Hilo, Hawaii. But instead of flying the familiar Dauntless dive bomber, he was switched to F4U Corsairs.

“I’d never landed with a Corsair on a carrier, so we practiced out on a field.”

Swarthout went aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hancock in February, 1945.

“My first mission was on my birthday — March 14 — in Southern Kyushu, Japan. We bombed the airfield and strafed the airplanes on the ground. We were preparing for an eventual landing,” on the Japanese mainland.

Before dawn on March 19, 1945, two bombs hit the the USS Franklin, leaving the aircraft carrier dead on the water. While desperate efforts were being made to save the vulnerable ship, Swarthout saw another enemy aircraft coming in for a strike.

“I shot down a Japanese plane trying to make a suicide run on the Franklin. I was so close to this guy the bullets were converging in front of him. I could have chewed him up with my propeller.”

The twin-engine “Betty” bomber dropped out of the sky and crashed into the ocean.

The “kill” earned the 23-year-old aviator his first Air Medal.

The USS Hancock provided a close airport for the 10th Army’s landing on the west coast of Okinawa on April 1, 1945.

“On April 7 we got hit by a suicide bomber. I was flying at the time … the bomb went through the flight deck and exploded on the hangar deck. We lost a couple of rows of airplanes.”

According to military reports, 62 men were killed and 71 were injured. The fires were quickly extinguished and the ship was able to return to action before heading to Pearl Harbor for repairs.

In late July, 1945, Swarthout participated in a Naval air attack against the Kure Naval Arsenal and nearby ports, where the Imperial Japanese Navy’s remaining large warships were concentrated.

“I got a hit on a battleship, and they gave me the Navy Cross,” he said, understating his actions.

The official citation states the Navy Cross was awarded to Swarthout, “For extraordinary heroism,” in operations against enemy Fleet units at Kure Harbor, on July 28, 1945.

“Lieutenant Junior Grade Swarthout made a skillful and courageous bombing run upon an enemy battleship scoring a direct hit with a 1,000-pound bomb, despite accurate and intense anti-aircraft fire from enemy warships and shore batteries. His attack contributed materially to the heavy damage inflicted upon the enemy vessel. His outstanding courage and determined skill were at all times inspiring and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

Navy Cross

Neil Swarthout

Age: 90
Birthday: March 14, 1922
Hometown: St. Helens, Ore.
Residence: Palm Desert
Branch of service: U.S. Navy; USS Hancock (CV-19); Bombing Fighting Squadron Six (VBF-6)
Years served: January, 1943 – October, 1945; he served in the Naval reserves until 1963 and called back to duty during the Korean War
Rank: Lieutenant Junior Grade (World War II); Attained rank of Lieutenant Commander in reserves.
Awards: Navy Cross; Air Medals (5)
Family: Wife Marilee; two children, Michael Swarthout of Kalama, Wash. and Melinda Boyd of Gresham, Ore.; two grandchildren

Yes, I do happen to have a model of a F4U Corsair on my desk!

Expanded role of women in combat: complete DoD statement

Pfc. Samone Molock, a Soldier with the 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, listens to Afghan women and children during a women's meeting at the Spin Boldak District Center, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Dec. 7, 2012. The meeting, led by female Afghan leaders from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, non-government organizations and other local professional women, was held in conjunction with the international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign which runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10. Women discussed topics such women's rights, education, access to medical care and hygiene. This week, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced approval for expanded roles of women in combat. Photo by 1st Lt. Veronica Aguila, 117th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment (Hawaii) / Released

Below is the full text of the Department of Defense statement released this morning regarding approval to expand the role of women in combat.

At the end of the release is a direct link to the Joint Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Women in Service Review Memorandum signed today by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.

Also linked is the Chairman’s Women in Service Review Memorandum, which was written to Panetta by Dempsey on January 9, 2013 and outlines implementation plans.

January 24, 2013
Defense Department Rescinds Direct Combat Exclusion Rule; Services to Expand Integration of Women into Previously Restricted Occupations and Units

Today, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey announced the rescission the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule for women and that the Department of Defense plans to remove gender-based barriers to service.

“Women have shown great courage and sacrifice on and off the battlefield, contributed in unprecedented ways to the military’s mission and proven their ability to serve in an expanding number of roles,” Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta said. “The Department’s goal in rescinding the rule is to ensure that the mission is met with the best-qualified and most capable people, regardless of gender.”

Today, women make up approximately 15 percent, or nearly 202,400, of the U.S. military’s 1.4 million active personnel.  Over the course of the past decade, more than 280,000 women have deployed in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today’s announcement follows an extensive review by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who unanimously concluded that now is the time to move forward with the full intent to integrate women into occupational fields to the maximum extent possible.  It builds on a February 2012 decision to open more than 14,000 additional positions to women by rescinding the co-location restriction and allowing women to be assigned to select positions in ground combat units at the battalion level.

“The Joint Chiefs share common cause on the need to start doing this now and to doing this right.  We are committed to a purposeful and principled approach,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.

The Department of Defense is determined to successfully integrate women into the remaining restricted occupational fields within our military, while adhering to the following guiding principles developed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

  • Ensuring the success of our nation’s warfighting forces by preserving unit readiness, cohesion, and morale.
  • Ensuring all service men and women are given the opportunity to succeed and are set up for success with viable career paths.
  • Retaining the trust and confidence of the American people to defend this nation by promoting policies that maintain the best quality and most qualified people.
  • Validating occupational performance standards, both physical and mental, for all military occupational specialties (MOS), specifically those that remain closed to women.  Eligibility for training and development within designated occupational fields should consist of qualitative and quantifiable standards reflecting the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for each occupation.  For occupational specialties open to women, the occupational performance standards must be gender-neutral as required by Public Law 103-160, Section 542 (1993).
  • Ensuring that a sufficient cadre of midgrade/senior women enlisted and officers are assigned to commands at the point of introduction to ensure success in the long run.  This may require an adjustment to recruiting efforts, assignment processes, and personnel policies.  Assimilation of women into heretofore “closed units” will be informed by continual in-stride assessments and pilot efforts.

Using these guiding principles, positions will be opened to women following service reviews and the congressional notification procedures established by law.  Secretary Panetta directed the military departments to submit detailed plans by May 15, 2013, for the implementation of this change, and to move ahead expeditiously to integrate women into previously closed positions.  The secretary’s direction is for this process to be complete by Jan. 1, 2016.

The Joint Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Women in Service Review Memorandum can be viewed at:  http://www.defense.gov/news/WISRJointMemo.pdf 

The Chairman’s Women in Service Review Memorandum can be viewed at: http://www.defense.gov/news/WISRImplementationPlanMemo.pdf

–end of release–


Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta lifts military ban on women serving in combat

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood arrive on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, for the Presidential Barack Obama's ceremonial swearing-in ceremony during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. (AP Photo/Win McNamee, Pool)

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, in one of his final acts before stepping down from his post, announced Wednesday he was lifting the military’s ban on women serving in combat, The Associate Press reports.

The move overturns a 1994 Pentagon policy that barred women from serving in direct ground combat units.

In one of the more recent moves toward integrating women into forward-deployed combat positions, the Marine Corps opened its Infantry Officers Course to women, planning to admit up to 100
women in a one-year experiment. Two female Marines have so far signed up and begun training;neither completed the grueling 13-week program.

On Dec. 13, the Congressional Research Service issued the report: Women in Combat: Issues for Congress, authored by David F. Burrelli Specialist in Military Manpower Policy

Here’s an abbreviated timeline of the changing status of women in the military, from the early 1900s, pulled from Burrelli’s report:

In 1908, Congress enacted language which lead to the creation of the Navy Nurse Corps.

In 1918, the Secretary of the Navy allowed women to sign up for clerical duties in the Marine Corps;

In 1918, the Secretary of the Navy allowed women to enroll for clerical duty.

In 1942, Congress opened the Naval Reserve to women

In 1942, the Coast Guard created the women reserves know as SPARs.

On May 14, 1942, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was created “for noncombatant service with the Army of the United States for the purpose of making available to the national defense when needed the knowledge, skill, and special training of the women of this Nation.”

More than a year later, the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) was made a part of the regular Army on a temporary basis.

In 1943, the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve was established

In 1948, Congress made women a permanent part of the military services. The Women’s Armed Services integration Act of 1948 limited the proportion of women in the military to two percent of the enlisted force and 10 percent of officers. This limit was repealed in 1967.

In the years that followed the passage of the Women’s Integration Act of 1948, women made up a relatively small proportion of the armed forces—less than one percent until 1973. By 1997, women accounted for 13.6 percent of the active duty end-strength, increasing to 14.5 percent by September, 2011.

Two major factors led to the expansion of the role of women in the armed forces. First, after the end of the draft and the beginning of the All-Volunteer Force in December 1973, the military services had difficulty in recruiting and retaining enough qualified males, thereby turning attention to recruiting women. Second, the movement for equal rights for women, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, led to demands for equal opportunity in all fields, including national defense, and a gradual removal of the restrictions against them.

In 1974, the age requirement for women enlisting without parental consent was made the same as for men.12 In the next year, legislation was enacted that allowed women to be admitted to the three service academies.

In 1977, Congress directed the Secretary of Defense to submit to Congress a definition of the term “combat” and recommendations for expanding job classifications for female members of the armed forces.

In 1978, women were permitted to be assigned permanent duty on noncombatant Navy ships, and up to six months of temporary duty on other ships.

The Senate Armed Services Committee commented on women in combat in its report concerning the re-institution of registration for the Selective Service in 1979. Citing military and other reasons for differential treatment of men and women by Selective Service, the Committee stated:

The committee feels strongly that it is not in the best interest of our national defense to
register women for the Military Selective Service Act, which would provide needed military
personnel upon mobilization or in the event of a peacetime draft for the armed forces.

In February 1988, the Department of Defense adopted a “risk rule” that excluded women from noncombat units or missions if the risks of exposure to direct combat, hostile fire, or capture were equal to or greater than the risks in the combat units they support.

The GAO reported that approximately one-half of the active duty military positions were opened to women.

On April 28, 1993, then-Secretary of Defense, Les Aspin, released a memorandum directing the Services to open more positions to women and establishing an implementation committee to review and make recommendations on such implementation issues.

On January 13, 1994, Secretary Aspin lifted the 1988 risk rule. Effective October 1, 1994, he approved a new assignment rule:

A. Rule. Service members are eligible to be assigned to all positions for which they are
qualified, except that women shall be excluded from assignment to units below the brigade
level whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground, as defined below.

B. Definition. Direct ground combat is engaging an enemy on the ground with individual or
crew served weapons, while being exposed to hostile fire and to a high probability of direct
physical contact with the hostile force’s personnel. Direct ground combat takes place well
forward on the battlefield while locating and closing with the enemy to defeat them by fire,
maneuver, or shock effect.

In 2006, Congress enacted language prohibiting any change in existing policies without the
Secretary of Defense first notifying Congress of such changes followed by a waiting period.

In 2010, the Navy notified Congress that it was modifying its policy to allow women to serve as permanent crew members aboard submarines.

The Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 contained language establishing the Military Leadership Diversity Commission. Among its duties, the Commission was to conduct a study and file a report regarding diversity issues in the Armed Forces with attention to the “establishment and maintenance of fair promotion and command opportunities for ethnic- and gender-specific members of the Armed Forces at the O-5 grade level and above.”

During hearings held in 2010, Defense Department officials stated that they were looking at the assignment issue regarding women as part of their three-year cyclic review and expected to make their recommendations to their leadership within a few months.

In March, 2011, the Commission released its report, “From Representation To Inclusion:
Diversity Leadership and the 21st-Century Military.” Among its recommendations
relevant to the issue of women in the military:

DOD and the Services should eliminate the “combat exclusion policies” for women,
including the removal of barriers and inconsistencies, to create a level playing field for all
qualified service members.

DOD and the Services should take deliberate steps in a phased approach to open
additional career fields and units involved in “direct ground combat” to qualified

Some provisions of the Ike Skelton National Defense Act for Fiscal Year 2011:

(a) REVIEW REQUIRED—The Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretaries
of the military departments, shall conduct a review of laws, policies, and regulations,
including the collocation policy, that may restrict the service of female members of the
Armed Forces to determine whether changes in such laws, policies, and regulations are
needed to ensure that female members have equitable opportunities to compete and excel in the Armed Forces.

(b) SUBMISSION OF RESULTS—Not later than April 15, 2011, the Secretary of Defense
shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report containing the results of the review.

In February 2012, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) released its report.46 In the conclusion, it stated:

The Department intends to:
1. Eliminate the co-location exclusion from the 1994 policy;
2. As an exception to policy, allow Military Department Secretaries to assign women in open occupational specialties to select units and positions at the battalion level (for Army, Navy, and Marine Corps) whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground;
3. Based on the exception to the policy, assess the suitability and relevance of the direct
ground combat unit assignment prohibition to inform policy decisions; and
4. Pursue the development of gender-neutral physical standards for occupational specialties closed due to physical requirements.

Jan. 23, 2013, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta lifts the military ban on women serving in combat.

“This ruling allows women to serve in combat and creates tens of thousand of new
jobs for women in the military,” said Melinda Tremaglio, of Palm Springs, who formerly served in the U.S. Army.  ”It also leads to career advancement and higher pay.”

Tremaglio serves as president of the Palm Springs chapter of the National Organization for Women.

“I joined the military right out of high school in 1960 during the Cuban missle crisis and I was stationed at Fort McClellan in Alabama,” she said. “I was not allowed to join the men in some training sessions because of this ‘no women in combat rule.’ I believe you should be allowed to serve in combat, if you are fit and qualified, regardless of gender.”

“I was thrown out of the military for being gay in 1962. Fifty years ago I wanted to join the men in combat and fight for my country. Today, 50 years later, I want an end to all wars and violence.”


Service members to share a dance with Obamas, Bidens tonight

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dance during the 2009 Commander-in-Chief's Ball. Tonight they will each share the first dance with a service member. Photo by SRA Kathrine McDowell, US Navy (Released)

As the day-long inaugural festivities carry on into the night, four service members are preparing their dress uniforms and slipping on their dancing shoes.

Joint Task Force – National Capital Region released the names and biographies of the personnel representing each service who will share the first dance at tonight’s Commander-in-Chief’s Ball one each with President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden.

According to the press release, more than 50 names were submitted of service members to partner up on the dance floor with the country’s senior leadership and wives. Using criteria like records and accomplishments, combat experience and volunteerism, the group was whittled down to four.

Here are their bios, as distributed by the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region.

Staff Sergeant Bria Nelson (USAF) will dance with President Barack Obama. Nelson, a native of Indianapolis, Ind., enlisted July 31, 2002, as a medical technician. She deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Her awards include the Air Force Commendation Medal. She is currently assigned to the 579th Medical Operations Squadron, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., as the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of Explorer Family Health Element.

Gunnery Sergeant Timothy D. Easterling (USMC) will dance with First Lady Michelle Obama. Easterling, a native of Barnwell, S.C., enlisted Aug. 21, 2000, as a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist. He deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. His awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal. In 2009, Easterling helped plan and execute the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force’s participation in the Presidential Inauguration and four subsequent Presidential State of the Union addresses and Joint Sessions of Congress. He is currently assigned to Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., as a distance learning instructor.

Staff Sergeant Keesha Dentino (USA) will dance with Vice President Joe Biden. Dentino, a native of Homestead, Fla., enlisted July 6, 2004, as a military police officer. She deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan.in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Her awards include the Bronze Star Medal and four Army Commendation Medals. She is currently assigned to the 947th Military Police Detachment, Fort Myer, Va., as a patrol explosives detection dog handler and is working on her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice.

Petty Officer Patrick Figueroa (USN) will dance with Dr. Jill Biden. Figueroa, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, enlisted Dec. 16, 2008, as a hospital corpsman. He deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While there, Figueroa rescued Marine Corporal Hoffman, who is now a Wounded Warrior at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. His awards include the Presidential Unit Citation and Navy Unit Commendation. Figueroa is currently assigned to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., as a manpower transfer clerk.

The Commander-in-Chief’s ball will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The Presidential Inaugural Committee offers complimentary tickets to invited military guests. The committee announced Friday that the Pentagon Channel would live stream the ball online at www.PentagonChannel.mil and broadcast to military installations worldwide. Scheduled performers at the ball include Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley, Chris Cornell, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson, and Marc Anthony.

Military participation in Inauguration Parade

The Ceremonial Honor Guard marches past the presidential reviewing stand during the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington. More than 5,000 men and women in uniform provided military ceremonial support to the 2009 Presidential Inauguration, a tradition dating back to George Washington's 1789 Inauguration. Photo by Master Sgt. Gerold Gamble, US Air Force (Released)

The military will be well represented as the Inaugural Parade wends its way this afternoon from the U.S. Capitol building to the White House.

On the Department of Defense Support to the 57th Presidential Inauguration website, military support is listed from all five services. Each branch’s participants will be clustered together in the following order of appearance:

  • U.S. Army Staff
    U.S. Army Field Band
    U.S. Military Academy
    U.S. Army, 1st Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment
    U.S. Army Color Guard
    District of Columbia Army National Guard
    U.S. Army Reserve 200th MP Command
    Caisson Platoon, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment;    Fort Myer, Virginia
  • U.S. Marine Corps Staff
    U.S. Marine Band “The President’s Own”
    U.S. Marine Corps Active Company
    U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard
    U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Company
  • U.S. Navy Staff
    U.S. Navy Band
    U.S. Naval Academy
    U.S. Navy Active Company
    U.S. Navy Color Guard
    U.S. Navy Reserve Company
  • U.S. Air Force Staff
    U.S. Air Force Band
    U.S. Air Force Academy
    U.S. Air Force Active Company
    U.S. Air Force Color Guard
    District of Columbia Air National Guard
    U.S. Air Force Reserve Company
  • U.S. Coast Guard Staff
    U.S. Coast Guard Band
    U.S. Coast Guard Academy
    U.S. Coast Guard Active Component
    U.S. Coast Guard Color Guard
    U.S. Coast Guard Reserve Component
    U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Staff;    Kings Point, New York
    U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Band;    Kings Point, New York
    U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Color Guard;    Kings Point, New York
    U.S. Merchant Marine Academy;    Kings Point, New York

In addition to DoD support to the parade, 60 applicants were selected out of the more than 2,807 applications submitted to participate in the parade, according to the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee’s website.

Those selected with military ties include:

  • 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment
    Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts wiki
  • 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment Company B
    Silver Spring, Maryland website
  • 81st Regional Support Command Wildcats
    Fort Jackson, South Carolina website
  • Military Spouses of Michigan
    Michigan website
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Washington, District of Columbia website
  • Native American Women Warriors
    Pueblo West, Colorado  website
  • Norwich University Regimental Band
    Northfield, Vermont website
  • Punahou Band and JROTC
    Punahou School, Honolulu, Hawaii website
  • Union High School Air Force Junior ROTC
    Tulsa, Oklahoma website
  • United War Veterans Council
    New York, New York website
  • Virginia Military Institute Marching Unit
    Lexington, Virginia website