'87 Sir

Thirty years of service ----USNA Class of 1987 '87 Sir

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Maybe our future will work out after all...

Scouts praised for response to tornado in Iowa

By TIMBERLY ROSS, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jun 12, 4:27 PM ET

Boy Scouts who came to each others' aid after a tornado that killed four of their comrades and injured 48 people were hailed as heroes Thursday for helping to administer first aid and search for victims buried in their flattened campsite.

Iowa rescue workers cut through downed branches and dug through debris amid rain and lightning Wednesday night to reach the camp where the 93 boys, ages 13 to 18, had huddled for safety through the twister. They and 25 staff members were attending a weeklong leadership training camp.

Lloyd Roitstein, an executive with the Mid America Council of the Boy Scouts of America, reminded reporters at a news conference Thursday that the Boy Scouts motto is "Be Prepared."

"Last night, the agencies and the scouts were prepared," he said. "They knew what to do, they knew where to go, and they prepared well."

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver praised the boys for "taking care of each other."

Boy Scout officials said the scouts and their leaders were aware of weather alerts, but decided not to leave the Little Sioux Scout Ranch, in the Loess Hills, because of the bad weather on the way.

"They were watching the weather and monitoring with a weather radio, listening for updates," said Deron Smith, a national spokesman for the Boy Scouts. "The spot they were at was the lowest spot of camp; it was deemed to be the safest place."

A group of scouts that had set out on a hike had returned to the camp before the storm as a safety procedure, Smith said.

On the other side of the state Thursday, 3,900 homes were evacuated from Cedar Rapids, where rescuers removed people with boats, officials estimated 100 blocks were underwater, and a railroad bridge over the flooded Cedar River collapsed.

"We're seeing very substantial flooding," said Craig Hanson, the city's public works maintenance manager.

In Albert Lea, Minn., 90 miles south of Minneapolis, a man died Thursday when his vehicle plunged from a washed-out road and was submerged in floodwaters.

Also Thursday, several Kansas communities tried to begin the recovery from tornadoes a day earlier that killed at least two people, destroyed much of the small town of Chapman, and caused extensive damage on the Kansas State University campus.

The tornado through the scout camp killed three 13-year-olds and one 14-year-old, Roitstein said. A tornado siren went off at the camp, but the scouts had already taken cover before the siren sounded. There was no time to remove them from the isolated retreat, he said.

Boy Scout officials identified the dead as Aaron Eilerts, 14, of Eagle Grove, Iowa and Josh Fennen, 13, Sam Thomsen, 13, and Ben Petrzilka, 14, all of Omaha.

At least 14 of the injured remained hospitalized Thursday morning, with everything from cuts and bruises to major head trauma, said Eugene Meyer, Iowa's public safety commissioner.

Three were flown to Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City, Iowa, and a fourth was taken there by ambulance. All were listed in serious condition.

All the scouts and staff were accounted for, Meyer said, adding that searchers were making another pass through the grounds to make sure no one else was injured. The camp was destroyed.

Thomas White, a scout supervisor, said he dug through the wreckage of a collapsed fireplace to reach victims in a building where many scouts were seeking shelter when the twister struck at about 6:35 p.m.

"A bunch of us got together and started undoing the rubble from the fireplace and stuff and waiting for the first responders," White told KMTV in Omaha, Neb. "They were under the tables and stuff and on their knees, but they had no chance."

The nearest tornado siren, in nearby Blencoe, sounded only briefly after the storm cut power to the town, said Russ Lawrenson of the Mondamin Fire Department.

Taylor Willoughby, 13, said several scouts were getting ready to watch a movie when someone screamed that there was a tornado. Everyone hunkered down, he said, and windows shattered.

"It sounded like a jet that was flying by really close," Taylor told NBC's "Today" on Thursday. "I was hoping that we all made it out OK. I was afraid for my life."

Ethan Hession, also 13, said he crawled under a table with his friend.

"I just remember looking over at my friend, and all of a sudden he just says to me, `Dear God, save us,'" he told "Today." "Then I just closed my eyes and all of a sudden it's (the tornado) gone."

Ethan said the scouts' first-aid training immediately compelled them to act.

"We knew that we need to place tourniquets on wounds that were bleeding too much. We knew we need to apply pressure and gauze. We had first-aid kits, we had everything," he said.

Ethan said one staff member took off his shirt and put it on someone who was bleeding to apply pressure and gauze. Other scouts started digging people out of the rubble, he said.

The injured were taken to Burgess Health Center in Onawa, Alegent Health Clinic in Missouri Valley and Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha.

The 1,800-acre ranch about 40 miles north of Omaha includes hiking trails through narrow valleys and over steep hills, a 15-acre lake and a rifle range.

The tornado touched down as Iowa's eastern half grappled with flooding in several cities. The storm threatened to stretch Iowa's emergency response teams even further.

Iowa Homeland Security spokeswoman Julie Tack said officials were confident the state's emergency response teams could handle the crisis because western Iowa had been largely unaffected by flooding in the eastern part of the state.

Along the Mississippi River in Missouri and Illinois, the National Weather Service was predicting the worst flooding in 15 years. Outlying areas could be inundated, but most of the towns are protected by levees and many low-lying property owners were bought out after massive flooding in 1993, officials said.

Meanwhile, a line of tornadoes cut a diagonal swath across Kansas, causing widespread damage.

Chapman, a Dickinson County town of about 1,400, appeared to be hardest hit.

Brad Homman, director of administration and emergency services for Dickinson County, said Thursday morning that about 100 homes were destroyed or damaged when the twister struck around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

"We have no electricity or water or gas at this point," Hammon told reporters in a briefing. "It may be days before it's restored."

Three critically injured residents were at Geary Community Hospital in nearby Junction City, while dozens of what Homman called "walking wounded" suffered cuts, bruises, scrapes and broken bones.

One victim was found in a yard in Chapman, said Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the Kansas Adjutant General's Department. The other Kansas victim was found outside a mobile home in the Jackson County town of Soldier, Watson said.

The tornado that struck Kansas State University's campus in Manhattan destroyed a wind erosion laboratory and heavily damaged a fraternity house. Debris littered the campus, and classes were canceled, but the university reported no injuries.


Associated Press writers Henry C. Jackson in Des Moines, Iowa; Anna Jo Bratton in Onawa, Iowa; and John Hanna in Chapman, Kan., contributed to this report.

Monday, June 9, 2008

What will we do when all of these heroes are gone?

Another World War 2 Hero Passes Away

"Well done, good and faithful servant" {Matt 25:21}

WII vet who earned Medal of Honor at 17 has died
By CHRIS TALBOTT – 4 days ago
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Jack Lucas, who at 14 lied his way into military service during World War II and became the youngest Marine to receive the Medal of Honor, died Thursday in a Hattiesburg, Miss., hospital. He was 80.
Lucas had been battling cancer. Ponda Lee at Moore Funeral Service said the funeral home was told he died before dawn.
Jacklyln "Jack" Lucas was just six days past his 17th birthday in February 1945 when his heroism at Iwo Jima earned him the nation's highest military honor. He used his body to shield three fellow squad members from two grenades, and was nearly killed when one exploded.
"A couple of grenades rolled into the trench," Lucas said in an Associated Press interview shortly before he received the medal from President Truman in October 1945. "I hollered to my pals to get out and did a Superman dive at the grenades. I wasn't a Superman after I got hit. I let out one helluva scream when that thing went off."
He was left with more than 250 pieces of shrapnel in his body and in every major organ and endured 26 surgeries in the months after Iwo Jima.
He was the youngest serviceman to win the Medal of Honor in any conflict other than the Civil War.
"By his inspiring action and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice, he not only protected his comrades from certain injury or possible death but also enabled them to rout the Japanese patrol and continue the advance," the Medal of Honor citation said.
In the AP interview, written as a first-person account under his name, he recalled the months he spent in a hospital.
"Soon as I rest up, I imagine I'll run for president," the story concluded. "Ain't I the hero, though?"
Big for his age and eager to serve, Lucas forged his mother's signature on an enlistment waiver and joined the Marines at 14. Military censors discovered his age through a letter to his 15-year-old girlfriend.
"They had him driving a truck in Hawaii because his age was discovered and they threatened to send him home," said D.K. Drum, who wrote Lucas' story in the 2006 book "Indestructible."
"He said if they sent him home, he would just join the Army."
Lucas eventually stowed away aboard a Navy ship headed for combat in the Pacific Ocean. He turned himself in to avoid being listed as a deserter and volunteered to fight, and the officers on board allowed him to reach his goal of fighting the Japanese.
"They did not know his age. He didn't give it up and they didn't ask," Drum said.
Born in Plymouth, N.C., on Feb. 14, 1928, Edwards was a 13-year-old cadet captain in a military academy when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
"I would not settle for watching from the sidelines when the United States was in such desperate need of support from its citizens," Lucas said in "Indestructible." "Everyone was needed to do his part and I could not do mine by remaining in North Carolina."
After the war, Lucas earned a business degree from High Point University in North Carolina and raised, processed and sold beef in the Washington, D.C., area. In the 1960s, he joined the Army and became a paratrooper, Drum said, to conquer his fear of heights. On a training jump, both of his parachutes failed.
"He was the last one out of the airplane and the first one on the ground," Drum said.
He was diagnosed with a form of leukemia in April and spent his last days in the hospital with family and friends, including his wife, Ruby, standing vigil.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Okay, One More Time, In Case You Weren't Paying Attention



The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to
Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis
United States Army
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an M2 .50-caliber Machine Gunner, 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy in Adhamiyah, Northeast Baghdad, Iraq, on 4 December 2006.
That afternoon his platoon was conducting combat control operations in an effort to reduce and control sectarian violence in the area. While Private McGinnis was manning the M2 .50-caliber Machine Gun, a fragmentation grenade thrown by an insurgent fell through the gunner's hatch into the vehicle. Reacting quickly, he yelled "grenade," allowing all four members of his crew to prepare for the grenade's blast. Then, rather than leaping from the gunner's hatch to safety, Private McGinnis made the courageous decision to protect his crew. In a selfless act of bravery, in which he was mortally wounded, Private McGinnis covered the live grenade, pinning it between his body and the vehicle and absorbing most of the explosion.
Private McGinnis' gallant action directly saved four men from certain serious injury or death. Private First Class McGinnis' extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.


So, why isn't SPC McGinnis on the front page of People, Vanity Fair, Cosmo, Vogue and all those other rags that his heroism makes possible?

Military History and Academia

I read these articles with more than a passing interest. I guess I was lucky to go to the Naval Academy, because just about the all the History Department taught there was military history. Of course, they didn't just recite battles and casualties, each of my upper level courses examined war within the context of politics, society and technology to provide the background to understand not only what happened, but why it happened and what it still meant to us today. After all, isn't that what good history does?

Of course I was faced with that age old quandary, to study engineering and the "hard sciences" or to be a "bull major" as they were called. Of course I ended up with the bull major and am glad I did. As the essay on Liberal Arts says, the ability to read great amounts of data, digest information, conduct critical thinking, and be able to communicate well are timeless assets.

So, why don't more colleges teach military history, something that might bring the men back? Good question...as the U.S. News article states, a good course on the Civil War, or World War 2 would more than likely be packed. I have had several parents among our home school friends ask whether I would teach my Civil War, World Wars, or Cold War Classes again....

Importance of Military History

Why don't colleges teach military history?

Why Study Liberal Arts?