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Archive for the ‘Memorial’ Category

Remembering An American Warrior – CPT Larry Dring (USA, Ret)

Monday, May 27th, 2024

When I was a kid, I read about Larry Dring’s Army exploits and they definitely influenced my own service. For example, I influenced my career in some unconventional ways and was often in hot water over being in the wrong uniform.

Unfortunately, he passed away even before I joined the Army myself, but I often went back and read the accounts written by SF Veteran Jim Morris and published in Soldier of Fortune magazine and now found in the book, “The Guerrilla Trilogy”. To me, Larry Dring was a hero.

Today is the anniversary of his death and I thought I’d introduce this legend to my readers.

Awhile ago, I ran across a great memorial website, complete with scans of the SOF articles, and found out that Larry’s son also served in the Army. They put a lot of work into it, so be sure to go check it out.

vietnamveteransmemoral.homestead.com/dringlarry

Memorial Day

Monday, May 27th, 2024

Memorial Day, which is observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated in 1868 as Decoration Day. The day was established as a time for the nation to come together after the Civil War to decorate the graves of fallen Civil War Soldiers with flowers. Decoration Day was officially changed to Memorial Day in 1971, extending the observance to honor all Americans who died while in military service.

Pictured: A Civil War Veteran salutes with a Boy Scout and a Soldier at a grave-site in Oak Woods Cemetery, Chicago, Ill., Decoration Day, 1927.

It’s okay to enjoy today, but please give a moment of your time to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for this great nation.

Chicago Daily News photo courtesy of The Library of Congress

FirstSpear Friday Focus: Remembrance

Friday, May 24th, 2024

As Memorial Day approaches on Monday, we at FS take time to reflect on the sacrifice’s on behalf of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The price of freedom isn’t free.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Distinguished Flying Cross Posthumously Awarded to 2 Air Commandos

Sunday, May 19th, 2024

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. —  

Air Commandos, families, community leaders, and friends gathered at Hurlburt Field to honor Maj Randell Voas and Senior Master Sgt JB Lackey.  The commander of Air Force Special Operations Command posthumously presented the Distinguished Flying Cross to Maj. Voas and Senior Master Sgt. Lackey during a ceremony here today for actions taken April 9, 2010, during a combat mission near Qalat, Afghanistan.

Mrs. Jill Voas, widow of Voas, a CV-22B pilot, and Mrs. Cassie Lackey, widow of Lackey, a CV-22B flight engineer, accepted the medals from Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, commander of Air Force Special Operations at the Voas-Lackey Roundabout, named in honor of the two men, who were members of the 8th Special Operations Squadron here.

Voas and Lackey were critical to executing an emergency landing of their CV-22B, callsign Rooster 73. Their superior airmanship saved the lives of two crew and fourteen servicemembers aboard the aircraft.

1 servicemember and 1 interpreter, as well as Voas and Lackey, were killed in the mishap.

“Randy and JB did not have the option to sit back and let the situation unfold around them. They recognized the danger and through their expertise and their professionalism took action to lessen the impact of a compounding situation,” said Bauernfeind. “Every day that we put on our uniform, we stand on the shoulders of giants those who came before us paved the path we walk, including Randy and JB,” Bauernfeind added.

This is the second award for Lackey, who received a Distinguished Flying Cross for actions in combat in 2002.

The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to any officer or enlisted person of the armed forces of the United States for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.

“We are honored to recognize their exemplary airmanship, calmness during duress and dedication to our Joint Force. Maj. Voas’s and Senior Master Sgt. Lackey’s heroism and courage in the face of disaster is a shining example of the spirit and determination that we ask of all Air Commandos,” said Bauernfeind. “They are loved, greatly missed, and will never be forgotten.” 

By Lucelia Ball

ANZAC Day

Thursday, April 25th, 2024

I want to thank you for being a friend. As every year, I’ll tip back a pint this evening in memory of all the ANZAC troops, from World War One’s Battle of Gallipoli to the battle fought today. I’ll think of friends in both the Australian and New Zealand militaries and good times deployed to bad places.

Special Warfare Training Wing Unveils Maltz Special Warfare Aquatic Training Center

Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, CHAPMAN TRAINING ANNEX, Texas. —  

The Special Warfare Training Wing hosts the grand opening of the Maltz Special Warfare Aquatic Training Center at Joint Base San Antonio, Lackland-Chapman Training Annex, Apr. 2, 2024.

“This is a historic day for the Special Warfare Training Wing and the Air Force Special Warfare community as we come together to honor Master Sergeant Mike Maltz”, said U.S. Air Force Col. Nathan Colunga, SWTW commander. “Our ceremony today represents the culmination of years of work from countless individuals who turned the Maltz Special Warfare Aquatic Training Center from an idea into reality.”

The aquatic training center is named after U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Maltz, a fallen pararescueman who made the ultimate sacrifice on Mar. 23, 2003 alongside five other crewmembers of an HH-60G helicopter when it struck a mountain during an aerial refueling attempt on the way to rescue two injured children near Ghazni, Afghanistan, living up to the pararescue motto, “That Others May Live”.

Maltz enlisted in the Air Force in 1978, serving as an apprentice cable splicer before successfully cross-training into the pararescue career field. Maltz earned his maroon beret in December 1985 and was recognized as the class Honor Graduate for his superb leadership qualities and academic excellence.

“Mike was a legend in the pararescue career field, he was admired and respected by all”, said U.S. Air Force Col. Edward “Tre’” Irick, a combat rescue officer and current SWTW deputy commander. “He was the face of pararescue recruiting and became one of the most revered Indoctrination Course instructors of my generation. He forged many of the Special Warfare Airmen who prosecuted the Global War on Terror and I can personally attest to his commitment to develop Airmen because he taught me water confidence skills when I was a young lieutenant. We honor him today by continuing to share stories about his commitment to excellence as we forge the next generation of Special Warfare Airmen.”

First initiated in 2010 and championed by the 21st Chief of Staff of the Air Force, U.S. Air Force Gen. David Goldfein (ret.), construction on the Maltz Special Warfare Aquatic Training Center began in mid-2021, finishing in early 2024. The construction was a collaborative effort between the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, the Fort Worth District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the 802nd Civil Engineer Squadron, the Special Warfare Training Support Squadron and various contractors.

“We would like to thank all the stakeholders who came together to build the Maltz Special Warfare Aquatic Training Center,” said Colunga. “Your professionalism, speed, and tenacity in helping us build this facility is deeply appreciated. This facility will be used by countless Special Warfare trainees on their journeys to become Air Force Special Warfare operators.

The Maltz Special Warfare Aquatic Training Center is 76,000 square feet, consisting of two enclosed, climate-controlled indoor swimming pools of varying depths geared to meet the training needs for the Air Force’s global combat operations. The aquatic training center will also feature classrooms, restrooms, locker rooms, showers, various medical spaces for treatment and rehabilitation, and a human performance center.

“Today’s ceremony marks a major milestone towards realizing Chapman Training Annex as the home of Air Force Special Warfare training,” said Colunga. “The Maltz Special Warfare Aquatic Center will undoubtedly be a force multiplier in our mission set, and it is only fitting that all of our trainees who will come through this facility must aim to live up to the character of Mike Maltz.”  

By Special Warfare Training Wing Public Affairs

Special Warfare Training Wing

Dedication Ceremony Honors SrA Daniel Sanchez

Sunday, April 14th, 2024

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. —  

Members of the Special Tactics community past and present, and the family of Senior Airman Danny Sanchez gathered for a dedication ceremony of the Special Tactics Training Squadron Schroeder Building auditorium, Apr. 8.

The 720th Special Tactics Group commander, Col. Matthew Psilos, presided over the ceremony.

“This dedication ensures Danny will never be forgotten and that we will always keep his family close,” said Psilos. “He chose to stand between the enemy and all the people he loves and respects, and every American citizen that day.”

Sanchez was killed-in-action in the vicinity of Kajran District, Afghanistan, when his team came under enemy insurgent fire within the Afghan National Army partner force. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Valor while engaged in ground combat from Aug. 4, 2010, to Sept. 16, 2010.

A large plaque donning his scarlet beret, Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals, and name were unveiled before Special Tactics leaders, and friends and family members of Sanchez, including his mother and half-brother.

“It is a duty and privilege to honor his sacrifices,” said Psilos. “May the next generation understand that obligation and carry it on for years to come.”

A native of El Paso, Texas, Sanchez enlisted in the Air Force on Jun. 27, 2006. After graduating Basic Training, he successfully completed the Combat Control training pipeline and reported to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron. Sanchez’s military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, Purple Heart, Air Force Combat Action Medal, and Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

By Capt Savannah Stephens, 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Army Honors World War I Buffalo Soldiers with New Headstones

Sunday, March 3rd, 2024

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration dedicated new headstones for 17 World War I Black Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, during a memorial ceremony Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.

Retired Lt. Col. Tanya Bradsher, VA deputy secretary and a fourth-generation veteran, said that two years ago to the day, they held a ceremony at the cemetery to unveil a marker to recognize the painful history, hoping to do more.

On Aug. 23, 1917, 156 Soldiers from the all-Black 24th Infantry Regiment were involved in what was known as the Houston Race Riots of 1917, also known as the Camp Logan Mutiny, in Houston, Texas. The incident occurred within a climate of overt hostility from members of the all-white Houston Police Department against civilians of the Black community and Soldiers. Of those found guilty, most were given prison sentences, and 19 were sentenced to death and executed. It was found that the courts martial of these Soldiers were hastily conducted and flawed with irregularities. The remains of 17 of the executed Soldiers were reburied at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in 1937 after removal from their original graves at Salado Creek.

The bodies of Cpl. Larnon Brown and Pvt. Joseph Smith, also executed, are buried elsewhere, having been reclaimed by family when they died.

The Army reviewed the cases of these Black Soldiers in 2023 and found their trials unfair, saying that “these Soldiers were wrongly treated because of their race and were not given fair trials.” Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth set aside all convictions and directed the Soldiers’ records reflect honorable discharges.

“Today, the focus isn’t on that history; it is not on the marker, the trials or the Army decision,” Bradsher said. “The focus is on restoring the dignity, honor and respect to those 17 Soldiers and, by extension, to those two Soldiers who were executed and buried elsewhere, and to the 91 Soldiers sent to prison in those same trials.”

Retired Maj. Gen. Matt Quinn leads 155 VA national cemeteries and 122 VA grant-funded state and tribal veteran cemeteries in providing dignified burials in national shrines for veterans and eligible family members.

“As an Army veteran and Soldier for life, I’m especially honored to have been present when Army Secretary [Christine] Wormuth set aside the convictions of the 110 Black Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion,” he said. “Today, we right the wrongs of the past and honor the service of these Soldiers who served our country with honor,” he said. “Today, the VA will forever honor their service. This is a proud day for this Soldier, a veteran who would be proud to serve with them.”

These Soldiers were among those executed following the court martials of 110 Black Soldiers charged with murder and mutiny in the 1917 Houston Riots. Consistent with standard procedure of that time for Soldiers who were sentenced to death in a court martial, their graves were marked with headstones that listed only their names and year of death — as opposed to full honors.

Bradsher said equal justice belongs to all Soldiers.

“This day reflects the progress we have made as a nation since these men were first interred here a century ago,” she said. “Progress makes clear that all institutions must live up to the ideals and promise of our nation’s constitution.”

She said the headstones are more than physical markers. They are a symbol of promise and progress. They uphold the promise enshrined in the Constitution.

“All Americans have equal rights and equal worth. They represent the struggle and fight to keep the stories of these men alive,” she said. “These headstones now look like every other honorable veteran buried here. It represents the approval of a final resting place for these 17 Soldiers. They will be recognized and forever called veterans.”

She said their headstones will show their ranks, signifying their dedication, leadership and commitment to duty. They will also show their states of origin, reminding people that people who volunteer to serve come from states across the U.S, and their regiment, connecting them to servicemen and women with shared experiences across generations who safeguard the nation.

“These headstones will not erase history or right the wrongs of the past, but they will ensure future generations can understand that history and remember their names,” she said.

Yvette Bourcicot, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, said this event was meaningful to her as an Air Force veteran.

“These Soldiers are going to take their rightful place in history alongside African-Americans who have served this country honorably and deserve our respect,” she said. “We do ask for forgiveness for the injustice that was perpetrated on these Soldiers, and we’re doing everything we can to make this right. The Army is a learning institution, and we’re learning as we go. I’m appreciative to be here, representing what we’ve done.”

Bourcicot presented the descendants military service certifications with the upgraded honorable discharges and restored ranks. The corrected records are accessible to the public.

“While this can’t take away the generations of pain and trauma their loved ones endured, we hope these actions will serve as one more step down the path of restorative justice,” she said. “Their memory lives in every one of us and will inspire future servicemen and women to continue cultivating the Army and our sister services into a place where everyone who wants to serve can. We can’t erase the past, but we can learn from it and use it to guide our future.”

Jason Holt, a relative of Pfc. Thomas Hawkins, who was executed, acknowledged the painful history of the Houston Riot and praised federal officials like Bourcicot for taking steps to support the Soldiers decades after the event.

“It’s not easy for these folks here today to go back to their respective places of power and say they did something that involved racism,” Holt said. “To say that they did something to set aside convictions, to say they did something that was controversial. It’s not an easy job. I salute your courage.”

Holt was among three family members of Soldiers who received certificates in recognition of their relatives’ service.

The ceremony included a three-round volley, the playing of taps and presentation of colors, along with the unveiling of the headstones.

The Soldiers who received the honors were: Cpl. Charles Baltimore, Pfc. William Breckenridge, Pvt. Albert Wright, Pvt. James Divins, Pvt. James Robinson, Pvt. Thomas McDonald, Pvt. Babe Collier, Cpl. James Wheatley, Pvt. Frank Johnson, Sgt. William Nesbit, Pvt. Pat McWhorter, Pfc. Thomas Hawkins, Pvt. Risley Young, Pvt. Ira Davis, Pfc. Carlos Snodgrass, Pfc. William Boone and Cpl. Jesse Moore.

More than 180,000 service members, spouses and family members are buried in the cemetery at Fort Sam Houston.

By Shannon Collins