13 professional baseball players who became war heroes - We Are The Mighty
Articles

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes

When the American military calls, America’s pastime answers. Here are 14 men who played on the diamond before serving on the battlefield. All of them went above and beyond in either the game or combat, and some distinguished themselves in both.


1. Yogi Berra volunteered to man a rocket boat leading the assault on Normandy.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes

Yogi Berra made his minor league debut with the Norfolk Tars in 1943, playing 11 games and earning an impressive .396 slugging average. But Berra’s draft card came in that year and he headed into the Navy.

Berra became a gunner’s mate and volunteered for a special mission to pilot rocket boats in front of the other landing craft at D-Day. The boats used their rockets and machine guns to hit enemy positions on the coast and draw their fire so the other ships could land.

After the war, Yogi Berra went on to play in the major leagues and became one of the most-feared batters in baseball. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

2. Joe Pinder left the minor leagues and earned the Medal of Honor on Omaha Beach.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Joe Pinder spent most of his baseball time in Class D in the minors, but he rose as high as Class B for a short period. He joined the Army in January 1942 and was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, where he fought in Africa and Sicily. On D-Day, Technician 5th Grade Pinder was wounded multiple times and lost needed radio equipment during the struggle to reach the beach. He kept going back and forth in the surf, retrieving items despite sustaining more injuries.

“Almost immediately on hitting the waist-deep water, he was hit by shrapnel,” 2nd Lt. Lee Ward W. Stockwell said, according to Baseball’s Greatest Sacrifice. “He was hit several times and the worst wound was to the left side of his face, which was cut off and hanging by a piece of flesh.”

After refusing medical treatment multiple times and finally getting his radio equipment all back together, Pinder was killed by a burst of machine gun fire to the chest. His bravery and perseverance earned him the Medal of Honor.

3. Jack Lummus excelled at baseball, football, and being a Marine Corps hero.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Photo: US Marine Corps History Division

Jack Lummus was a college football and baseball star when he signed a contract with the Army Air Corps in 1941. He then signed a contract with a minor league team and played 26 games with them while awaiting training as a pilot. Unfortunately, Lummus clipped his plane’s wing while taxiing and was discharged.

Lummus then played professional football, playing in nine of the New York Giants’ 11 games in 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Lummus finished the season and volunteered for the Marine Corps. He served as an enlisted military policeman for a few months before enrolling in officer training.

At the battle of Iwo Jima, he was a first lieutenant leading a rifle platoon against three concealed Japanese strongholds. Wounded twice by grenades, Lummus still singlehandedly took out all three positions and earned the Medal of Honor. He stepped on a land mine later that day and sustained mortal wounds.

4. Bob Feller left a six-figure contract to join the Navy after Pearl Harbor.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Photo: US Navy

Hall of Famer Bob Feller won 76 games in three seasons before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The day after the attack, Feller walked away from a $100,000 contract and enlisted in the Navy. He was originally assigned to play baseball for troop entertainment, but enrolled in gunnery school to join the fight in the Pacific. Feller spent 26 months on the USS Alabama, seeing combat at Kwajalein, the Gilbert Islands and the Marshall Islands.

5. Ted Williams left the majors twice to fight America’s wars.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Photo: US Marine Corps

A lifetime Boston Red Sox player, Ted Williams only took two breaks from Major League Baseball. The first was for World War II and the second was for the Korean War.

In both, Williams served as a Marine fighter pilot though he didn’t see combat in World War II. In Korea, he flew 39 missions with Marine Aircraft Group 33, surviving ground fire that damaged his plane on two occasions before an ear infection grounded him for good at the rank of captain. He earned the Air Medal three times, the Presidential Medal of Freedom once, and a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

6. Warren Spahn fought in the Battle of the Bulge after his major league debut.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Bowman Gum

Warren E. Spahn pitched his first major league game in 1942, but joined the Army later that same year. He would fight as an engineer in the Battle of the Bulge, the Bridge at Remagen, and other important battles in the European theater.

After World War II, Spahn returned to the major leagues and played into his 40s. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973 after earning 14 All-Star selections and a Cy Young Award during his career.

Spahn is commonly credited with having earned a Bronze Star at the Bridge of Remagen due to a false, unauthorized biography. The book claimed to be his biography but was mostly fabricated. Spahn sued the writer and publisher for defamation and for violating his privacy, and he won the case in the Supreme Court. Spahn did earn a Purple Heart in the war.

7. Bernard Dolan and a teammate play, fight, and earn posthumous service crosses together.

Bernard “Leo” Dolan was a minor league pitcher who conducted spring training with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1917. He wasn’t picked up by the Pirates and so continued to pitch in the minor leagues. When his team was disbanded, he finished the season with a semi-pro team before joining the U.S. Army.

In France on Oct. 16, 1918, Cpl. Dolan was wounded and took cover. He saw another soldier hit and rushed from his cover to assist, exposing himself to enemy fire and earning him a Distinguished Service Cross. He was hit again during the rescue attempt, leading to his death.

Dolan was friends and teammates with another baseball player who died heroically in the same battle, Sgt. Matt Lanighan. Lanighan was a semi-pro player who died just after capturing German machine guns and prisoners . He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

8. Tom Woodruff left a promising minor league climb to earn three valor awards in the Navy.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Photo: US Navy

Tom Woodruff was a shortstop climbing through the minor leagues in St. Louis when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. Initially, he served in Army Public Relations but transferred to the Navy to become an aviator.

He became a fighter pilot and served in the Pacific in 1944 aboard the USS Enterprise, seeing combat in the Pacific multiple times, most of which was in the Philippines. He earned the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross with Gold Star as a Navy lieutenant junior grade. He was shot down over the Philippines on November 14, 1944, but his body was never recovered.

9. Pitcher Stanford Wolfson was executed by the Germans after his tenth bombing mission.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Photo: US Air Force

Stanford Wolfson played for multiple teams in the minor leagues as a pitcher and outfielder from 1940 to 1942. On Oct. 15, 1942, he joined the Army Air Force as a bomber pilot, earning a commission as a second lieutenant. From December 1943 to November 1944, he flew nine bombing missions over Nazi Germany. On November 5, 1944, he flew a tenth and final mission and was ordered to bail out by the pilot after the plane took heavy damage from anti-aircraft fire.

Most of the crew bailed out, though the pilot and bombardier successfully crash landed the plane in France. Wolfson, like the rest of the crew, was picked up by German authorities. When the Germans learned Wolfson was Jewish, they executed him in the city outskirts. The suspected killer was tried in Dachau in 1947 and executed. Wolfson was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, and Purple Heart.

10. Billy Southworth, Jr. flew 25 combat missions in Europe.

The son of Baseball Hall of Famer William H. Southworth, Billy Southworth spent 1936 to 1940 playing minor league ball at various levels.

In 1940, he enlisted into the Army Air Corps and flew out of England for most of the war. He was promoted numerous times, earning the rank of major as well as numerous awards including the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf clusters. He flew 25 combat missions in Europe before returning to New York.

In early 1945, he was training B-29 pilots. While piloting one of the B-29’s, Southworth attempted an emergency landing after an engine began smoking. he overshot the runway and crashed into the water near LaGuardia Field, New York.

He had been signed to an acting contract to take effect at the war’s end, but he died just months before the war concluded.

11. Keith Bissonnette flew fighters in Burma.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Royal Navy

An infielder and outfielder who distinguished himself in the minor leagues, Keith Bissonnette left baseball to join the Army Air Force. He earned his commission and became a fighter pilot in the 80th Fighter Group, flying missions in P-40 Warhawks and P-47 Thunderbolts between India and China from 1944 to 1945.

He was killed in action as a first lieutenant on March 28, 1945 in a crash. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service.

12. Clarence Drumm fought in America’s first battle of the Great War.

Clarence Milton Drumm was a minor league infielder/outfielder in the minor leagues from 1910 to 1914. It’s unclear what Milton did between his successful 1914 season and his entering the Army in 1917, but he was commissioned as an Army second lieutenant in 1917 and was ordered to France to serve in World War I.

Drumm was killed in action May 28, 1918 by an enemy shell in America’s first battle of World War I, the Battle of Cantigny. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Citation Star, a precursor to the modern Silver Star, for his bravery and leadership in the battle.

13. Gus Bebas gave up his commission and his baseball uniform to become a Navy pilot.

Gus Bebas was a Naval Reserve Officer and minor league pitcher at the start of 1940, but he gave up both his baseball contract and his commission to pursue a career as a Naval aviator. He was selected to be an aviation cadet in early 1941 and became an ensign and aviator in September of that year.

Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Bebas was assigned as a dive-bomber pilot aboard the USS Hornet. Bebas first saw combat on June 6, 1942 in the Battle of Midway. He pushed through extreme anti-aircraft fire to achieve a near-miss that damaged a Japanese ship, earning him a Distinguished Flying Cross. He died during a training mission in 1942.

(h/t to Gary Bedingfield and his site, Baseball in Wartime, an exhaustive look at the intersection between baseball and the military. Bedingfield is also the author of the book, “Baseball in World War II Europe.”)

NOW: 13 famous rock stars who served in the military

OR: The greatest World War II movies of all time

Articles

4 gross non-battle injuries medics have to look at

Corpsmen and medics who serve in the infantry have their work cut out for them. They wake up at the butt-crack of dawn for patrol, maybe get shot at a few times, then head back to base to eat chow.


They serve as infantrymen until they have to kick into doctor mode and patch up their buddies’ wounds; this involves putting their hands into some weird cavities, but it’s all part of the job.

Every once in a while they may even have to take care of the bad guys for various reasons. Sometimes it’s just for a simple sore throat and other times it’s for something a whole lot nastier.

 Related: 5 key differences between Army medics and Navy corpsmen

War is fought in some dirty places, like the trenches of World War I, the foxholes of World War II, and the jungles of Vietnam. Many of the injuries medics treat on the battlefield don’t come from bullets or bombs — they’re from unsanitary conditions.

So check out these gross things medics have to look at and be able to treat on a day-to-day basis.

1. Ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails are the result of poor foot care and bad grooming practices.

A well-executed toenail extraction. (Images via Giphy)

2. MRSA

Stands for “Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus” and it’s meaner than your ordinary pimple. On the surface, it doesn’t look too frightening. But below the skin, it’s chewing you up.

See a professional before popping. (Images via Giphy)

3. Mouth ulcers

With a variety of known causes, mouth ulcers are typically related to a viral infection in the body. Pain management is required or everything that touches the sores will hurt.

I told you everything hurt a mouth sore. (Images via Giphy)

Also Read: 6 things corpsmen should know before going to the ‘Greenside’

4. Bacterial conjunctivitis

Better known as pink eye, the beginning stage isn’t so bad. But left untreated, the condition could lead to losing an eye. What’s nasty about this ailment is that it’s typically produced by poop particles floating in the air and getting in your eyes.

Anyone can get pink eye so wear your eye protection out there, people.  (Images via Giphy)What gross non-battle things have you seen on deployment? Comment below.

Articles

This WWII Navy vet finally received his service medals after 71 years

A U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Pacific during World War II finally received his service medals April 12 at the American Legion in Fort Smith, Arkansas — 71 years to the day from when he honorably discharged.


James Donald Neal Burnett, 91, of Alma was presented several medals, including the World War II Victory Medal, by U.S. Sen. John Boozman.

The senator called Burnett among the “greatest generation” and thanked him for his service.

“It’s a real honor to pat Mr. Burnett on the back and thank him for his service,” Boozman said before a large group of veterans gathered at the American Legion Ellig-Stoufer Post 31. “We do want to thank this special generation that went off and did incredible things, ordinary people who did extraordinary things, came back and just went back to work. They not only rebuilt our country but provided the protection for Europe and much of the rest of the world so they can rebuild. We forget about this sometimes.”

The veterans were there to have a closed-door discussion about their issues with the Veterans Choice health-care program. Boozman is a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and is hosting a series of listening sessions with Arkansas veterans. Boozman also had listening sessions two other local cities.

Before presenting the medals, Boozman also thanked the veteran’s wife, Imogene Burnett, and their family because “being in the service regardless of how long…is a family affair and we always want to remember the families that sacrificed.”

One of the Burnetts’ sons, James Alan Burnett, gave the ultimate sacrifice in 2002 on the Kate’s Basin fire in Wyoming. He was the first Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Forestry Services employee to lose his life fighting a fire.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
The Purple Heart is one of many medals that veterans have waited decades to receive.

Kathy Watson, constituent services manager for Boozman’s office, said many World War II veterans did not receive medals simply because they went home after the war and did not apply for them. Boozman said his father, a B-17 waist gunner during WWII, also didn’t talk much about the war, and when asked to talk about his experiences would usually only offer a short description: “It was cold.”

James and Imogene Burnett’s son, Bob Burnett, said his father was among those who simply came home after the war and did not request the medals. A relative, state Rep. Rebecca Petty, District 93, “got the ball rolling” on Burnett’s medals after a family visit last year, Bob Burnett said.

In the recent 91st General Assembly, Petty entered House Resolution 1039 to honor Burnett for his service from 1943-1946 as a motor machinist’s mate third class on the USS Oak Hill LSD 7. He entered the Navy a few months after his 18th birthday, Nov. 11, 1943.

Anita Deason, Boozman’s senior military and veterans liaison, read a commendation letter in Burnett’s file for the ship’s crew from Capt. C.A. Peterson, dated June 14, 1945: “At Okinawa, Oak Hill participated in one of the largest and most important amphibious assaults in the history of warfare. Then for a period of 71 days, this vessel shared in the hazards of supporting armed forces on that island, often under continuous attacks by enemy planes. One suicide plane apparently aimed for this ship was splashed by the fire of our gun crews. By the cheerful cooperation of all hands, every mission assigned this ship was successfully carried out.”

Also read: WWII veteran receives long overdue Purple Heart

The letter goes on to say that “outstanding” work was done in particularly by the repair force in the task of maintaining landing ships and craft in operation condition.

“Higher authority at first considered this job beyond the capacity of this ship, but by efficient administration and hard work it was done and earned high praise for the task force commander,” Peterson wrote.

“As often happens, service members do not receive all of their medals when they are released from the military, and so we’re going to try and make up for that today,” Deason said.

Burnett, who was born Aug. 31, 1925, at Clayton, Okla., served two years, four months and 25 days in the Navy. He was honorably discharged, coincidentally, on April 12, 1946.

In addition to the WW II Victory Medal, the National Personnel Record Center also authorized Burnett to receive the Combat Action Ribbon, China Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Honorable Discharge Button, and Honorable Discharge Lapel Pin.

Burnett is also eligible for the Philippine Liberation Ribbon, a foreign award that is not funded by the Department of Defense.

Articles

Trump may name Sec Def this week, but Mattis may be out

President-elect Donald Trump may name his nominee for Secretary of Defense before the week is out, and legendary Marine Gen. Jim Mattis seems to be fading among the candidate pool, according to a new report from Colin Clark at Breaking Defense.


The report cites two sources involved with the Trump presidential transition team. One source told the site that Trump may release his pick within the next two days, while the other source said that other candidates, such as former Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) and former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), are still very much in the running.

Also read: Congress kills plan forcing women to register for the military draft

After Trump met with Mattis more than a week ago, most defense watchers believed the retired Marine general was the top pick to lead the Pentagon. The President-elect described Mattis, 66, as “very impressive” and said he was “seriously considering” him for the position.

Trump later had an off-the-record meeting with media executives and on-air personalities, in which he said “he believes it is time to have someone from the military as secretary of defense,”according to Politico. Other Republicans and many D.C. insiders also offered praise for Mattis, though he would require a congressional waiver to serve as Defense Secretary since he has not been out of uniform for the statutorily required seven years.

When reached by Business Insider, Mattis declined to comment.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Wikimedia Commons

Though Sen. Talent has been among the candidates floated almost since the beginning, Sen. Kyl is a new name to emerge as a possible pick. Now a senior counsel at the Washington, D.C. law firm Covington Burling, Kyl previously served as the second-highest Republican senator when he retired in 2013, after 26 years in Congress.

Kyl was not immediately available for an interview, but soon after the Breaking Defense report was published, he told Politico he was not interested in serving again in government, which “the Trump transition team is well aware of.”

A number of defense secretaries who served under President Barack Obama have criticized him for his supposed “micromanagement.” Even Mattis himself was reportedly forced into early retirement by the Obama administration due to his hawkish views on Iran, according to Tom Ricks at Foreign Policy.

Whoever is ultimately picked, the next head of the Pentagon will oversee roughly 3 million military and civilian personnel and face myriad challenges, from the ongoing fight against ISIS and China’s moves in the South China Sea to the ongoing stress on the military imposed by sequestration.

The next defense secretary may also end up dealing with a nuclear-armed North Korea, and Russia is very likely to test limits in eastern Europe. The secretary will also need to reinvigorate a military plagued by low morale.

Articles

6 ridiculous things POGs do at the range

Yes, #notallPOGs and all that. But seriously Persons Other than Grunts, the range rules aren’t that crazy. First, learn to safely handle your weapon. Second, learn to fire your weapon. And third, get off the range without embarrassing yourself.


Unfortunately, these 6 things manage to pop up every time POGs go to the range en masse:

1. Targets that look like they were hit with birdshot

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Photo: U.S Army W.T.F! moments Facebook

“Are you changing your sight picture?”

“No, sergeant.”

“Shut up. Yes, you are.”

2. Truly baffling weapons malfunctions

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
When your soldier declares a weapons malfunction but his magazine is just empty.

The Army’s acronym for fixing weapon problems, O-SPORTS, is only effective against actual weapons malfunctions. It does little for operators who load their magazines upside down or don’t realize they can run out of ammunition.

3. So. many. safety. violations.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
GIF: YouTube/Gigan2004

See how this guy lowers his weapon when some schoolchildren move in front of him? And he doesn’t have to be told to not point his weapon at something he doesn’t want to shoot? Yeah, it’s not very complicated, POGs. All weapons should be pointed up and downrange when they’re not being aimed at targets. Stop flagging each other on the range.

4. MRE Alternatives

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes

When infantry goes to the field, they bring MREs and possibly even sleeping systems and tents to stay out there for a few days. Some POGs will at least bring MREs while others … others make arrangements with a gut truck or ice cream van.

5. “Easter basket” helmets and other uniform violations

 

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Yeah, you better buckle that chin strap, John Wayne. Photo: US Army Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret

Helmet chin straps dangling like the soldier is in a John Wayne movie, troops carrying helmets by the chin strap like it’s an Easter Basket, mirrored sunglasses, armor lacking rank insignia or name tapes, the potentially catastrophic uniform violations are everywhere. It’s all a sergeant major’s nightmare.

6. “Clean” weapons that will never be accepted by an armorer

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Photo: US Army Pfc. Nathaniel Smith

POGs will always declare their weapon clean after 30 minutes and then be surprised when the armorer turns them away to re-clean before they can turn in. Have you cleaned the star chamber with pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until you went mildly crazy? Then it’s not clean yet.

Articles

Mattis: ‘I go by Jim,’ not ‘Mad Dog’

“I go by Jim,” new Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday in good-naturedly shrugging off the “Mad Dog” moniker President Donald Trump delights in using to refer to him.


Related: 7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef

“It’s you guys that came up with Mad Dog,” the retired Marine general told reporters. “My own troops were laughing about it, saying, ‘We know your call sign is Chaos, where did this come from?’ It must have been a slow news day; some newsperson made it up.”

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
The 26th Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, is greeted on his first full day in the position by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., in Arlington, VA, Jan. 21, 2017. DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen (released)

“I go by Jim. I was born Jim. I am from the West. Jim is fine, OK? How’s that? And that’s on the record,” Mattis said, according to the Washington Examiner.

Mattis went off the record as he made a surprise appearance Thursday at the usual “gaggle” for Pentagon reporters run by Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, the Pentagon spokesman, on the day’s events, but he came back on the record to deal with the “Mad Dog” nickname.

Articles

This former ISIS fighter from New York explains why he quit after only 3 days

A former Islamic State militant recently spoke with NBC news about his experience fighting with the group in Syria — and why he surrendered after just three days on the frontlines.


13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Photo: Youtube.com

The man, a 24-year-old single father and college dropout who traveled from New York back to his native Turkey, told NBC what has become a familiar story. Socially isolated and lacking meaning in his life, he was seduced by the jihadis’ promise of a salary, a house, and a wife.

“My life was hard and nobody liked me,” the man, who insisted on anonymity, said while crying. “I didn’t have many friends. I was on the internet a lot and playing games.”

This is a common profile among those recruited by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, who are often young men (and women) seeking purpose and identity. They are drawn to ISIS’ promise of community, along with the glory of potential martyrdom. ISIS’ inclusive rhetoric, combined with its social-media prowess, has allowed the group to recruit more foreigners to its ranks than any other modern jihadist group.

Firsthand accounts of the militants’ brutality from those who have fought with ISIS, such as the one given by the Turkish-American recruit, are still relatively rare, even though an estimated 20,000 foreign fighters have joined the group.

“They told us, ‘When you capture someone, you will behead them,'” he said. “But as for me, I have never even beheaded a chicken … It is not easy … I can’t do that.”

He said he was also instructed to throw homosexuals off of tall buildings and kill female adulterers. He said he decided to leave ISIS after an airstrike killed six of his fellow fighters in the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad.

“I got scared because in my whole life I hadn’t seen anything like this,” he told NBC. “And since I was scared, I threw my pistol away and my legs couldn’t hold me.”

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Photo: Youtube.com

The online radicalization of Muslims has become a security threat for the West: An estimated 4,000 ISIS recruits come from Western countries, and foreigners now make up at least half of ISIS’ fighting force, The New York Times reported in April.

Many disgruntled recruits have tried to return to their home country after traveling to join ISIS and finding that life with the group is less glamorous than advertised, The Independent reported.

“I’ve done hardly anything but hand out clothes and food,” a French recruit wrote in a letter home obtained by Le Figaro. “I’ve also cleaned weapons and moved the bodies of killed fighters. Winter is beginning. It’s starting to get tough.”

The man interviewed by NBC may have escaped the Islamic State. But the interview was conducted in a Syrian prison where he was being held captive by Kurdish forces.

He will only be free in death, the ex-fighter told reporters.

“They burn your life, they leave nothing,” he said. “I can’t do anything now. If I go to them [ISIS], they will kill me. If I go to Turkey, they will arrest me. If I stay here, I will go to prison. I have nothing. The only escape for me is death.”

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

Articles

Why airborne units are obsolete

This article originally appeared at The Havok Journal.


I recently read an article that posed an interesting question: Does the Army need airborne? The short answer is no. The long answer is we need the capability; there is a small fraction of operations where an airborne assault might be the only way to go, but we don’t need as much “airborne” as we currently have.

Bear with me. I know there are some seriously butt hurt people right now reading this. The tactic has value — limited, but still some.

The unit as an organized structure that practices the airborne tactic has no value — zero, nada, and zilch. The reason is simply the risk; a new person jumping one time is just as much at risk as a veteran jump master on his 1,000th jump.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
(U.S. Army paratroopers conduct an airborne operation on Oct. 20, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Juan F. Jimenez)

The singular benefit of airborne operations is to get troops on the battlefield when there are no other means available and when those same troops might secure the means themselves.

WWII was a perfect example. The night of June 5, 1944, airborne operations began to place large numbers of troops behind German lines to tie up reinforcements trying to reach the Atlantic Wall fortifications and prevent the beach invasion.

Also read: Here are 10 things everyone experiences in jump school

It was known and accepted that those airborne troops were effectively lost and might never be recovered as a unit. We routinely accept injury in airborne operations that would be unacceptable in other training, all for a tactic that has limited utility.

Had the beach landings failed, the airborne teams would have been cut off and without support. At best they could have surrendered; at worst, they would be dead. This was not an assumption. This was a specific and recognized outcome of the invasion.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
U.S. Air Force photo/Alejandro Pena

For all the vaunted legend of the 82nd Airborne and the 101st Airborne, the fact is that the units had little cohesion, fought mostly in small numbers, and took several days to re-form into fighting units. Unity of command was not lost; it was impossible to obtain from the beginning.

I am not denigrating the men of the 82nd and the 101st. I am saying any unit could have accomplished the same tasks without any special training involving parachute operations. The difficulties would have been the same.

Soldiers were intermingled between companies, battalions, brigades, and divisions as the confusion of the battlefield worked its magic. Fortunately Americans took advantage of the confusion and managed to win the day.

In that one demonstration on the field of battle, they proved that Airborne was not “all the way” and that the technique of vertical envelopment of the battlefield has a limited utility best used sparingly and only if you are ready to lose those involved.

Which is why for the next sixty years the activities in wartime were expressly limited. In part, we had other means, but ultimately it became clear that this is a tactic that only serves its use in specific operations or as an act of desperation.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
U.S. Army Airborne School. (Photo: U.S. Army Kristin Molinaro)

The operational characteristics, fully published in FM3-99 Airborne and Air Assault Operations, show the limitations clearly. Even during peacetime, the physical threat to personnel from the jump alone is high.

In fact, regardless of the number of jumps a person has, the risk to life and limb is the same each time they jump. The experience they receive does not affect the process once they exit the aircraft. The senior commanders are just as exposed to risk as the privates.

They are at the mercy of the weather. And that alone can render an entire operation a failure.

With the risk being the same for a jump master with 1000 jumps or the cherry on his first jump, we can say, from a risk management standpoint, we don’t need Army Airborne.

We can still, when the need arises, utilize airborne operations. All risk being equal, there is no difference to the mission to drop an entire unit using a small cadre of experienced personnel while the rest of the personnel just straps on the parachute and falls.

I know it works. This was also proven in WWII by the same units. Many of those men had no training in parachute operations. They were taught to put it on and they got in the plane and jumped into combat.

We don’t need units like the 82nd or battalions like the 1/501st. We need each unit to have a small cadre of jump masters and if the military decides to utilize personnel on an airborne operation, the cadre will ensure everyone is suited up and rigged, and then push them out the door.

There is no reason to have a specialized unit with nifty hats just to practice a tactic that is not really necessary. All they do is fall. They don’t have to open the parachute because the static line does that. While the appropriate parachute landing fall (PLF) might be worthwhile to prevent injury, it is not really worth the effort of a 3 week school just to teach that.

Airborne school teaches the PLF and weeds out those too scared to jump. Other than that, it does not teach you anything particular.

Putting on the parachute does not require training beforehand — the jump master is responsible for making sure you put in on right anyway. Rigging your equipment is not an experience-based skill. Just wrap it up using a pictogram and you are done.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Paratroopers jumping off C-130 Hercules. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael J. MacLeod)

We don’t need specialized airborne units. Airborne, as practiced by the 82nd AA, was obsolete at the end of WWII.

The Army just doesn’t want to admit that because it looks good. But none of them want to admit that the casualties, from the jump and from war, would make any airborne operation a risky adventure.

They know it; they just don’t want to talk about it.

In combat, a unit that sustains 15% casualties is still combat capable but only marginally. What gain do we have from a military unit that could receive those losses from entering combat before they face the enemy?

The jump alone could cause that damage, and this does not include the fact that it could be the senior command leadership, key weapons vital to the mission, or any number of critical items lost on the drop.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Javier Orona

Those are the risks not once, but every time a jump occurs. It is not cost effective to maintain a unit that faces those risks every time just for practice. It would be better to only pull out this operation when necessary.

If we are going to accept the potential risk, it is not any more dangerous to accept a leg unit that did an airborne operation as a onetime act of desperation.

Airborne pride is an expensive attitude for a military tactic of desperation. It is time to close the books on that chapter.

We can still use the tactic — but we don’t need to enshrine the idea behind it.

Articles

A WWII Veteran Has A Nazi Doctor To Thank For Saving His Life — Twice

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Bob Levine’s dog tags with the letter ‘H’ indicating his Hebrew faith – a death sentence in Nazi Germany. (Photo: NYDN)


A few weeks after D-Day, U.S Army Private Bob Levine was hit by the shrapnel from a grenade that landed next to him during a fierce battle to take a German-held hill overlooking the beach at Normandy.  The next thing he knew he had an enemy paratrooper standing over him.

“He looked about 10 feet tall, and pointed his submachine gun at me,” Levine told the New York Daily News. “The kid next to me got up and took off, and he just wheeled around and shot him.”

Levine was suddenly a prisoner of war.  And his situation went from bad to worse as his already wounded leg was hit again, this time by fragments from an American artillery shell.

The next thing Levine knew he was lying on a table in a French farmhouse with a Nazi doctor standing over him studying his dog tags.

“He says, ‘Was ist H?’ — and that was all I had to hear,” Levine recalled to the New York Daily News. “I said to myself — and I can still hear myself saying it — ‘There goes my 20th birthday.’

“I really did not think I would make it.”

But he did make it.  He woke up missing two things:  the bottom half of his left leg, which had been surgically amputated, and his dog tags.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Bob Levine, seated center, in the hospital during World War II. (Photo: Levine family collection)

The Nazi doctor had saved his life twice.  Once by amputating his leg and preventing the onset of deadly gangrene and once by removing his dog tags, thereby hiding any evidence that Levine was Jewish — a death sentence of its own in the days of the Third Reich.

Levine did some research in the years following the war and discovered that the man who had saved him was Dr. Edgar Woll.  Woll died in 1954 before the two had a chance to meet in person again, but Levine returned to Normandy in 1981 and met with the doctor’s family.  The two families grew close, close enough that one of the doctor’s granddaughters stayed with the Levines while attending Fairleigh Dickenson University.

As terrible as war is there are times when it reveals the potential beauty of humanity.  And what stands out most of all in Levine’s memories of that first meeting with the doctor’s family is a toast one of the German guests offered at a party the Wolls hosted:  “Without you we’d all be saying ‘heil Hitler.'”

Read the entire New York Daily News article here.

Articles

Blinded by flak shrapnel, this airman helped save his B-17 crew

Radioman Sgt. Forrest Vosler thought he was going to die.


German fighters hit the B-17s and B-24s as they crossed the French coast, but it wasn’t that bad until they were over Bremen, Germany and Vosler’s Jersey Bounce and the rest of the 303rd Bomb Group began their runs. The flak was heavy. The formation’s escort fighters tried to keep the German fighters at bay, but the Luftwaffe pilots slipped into the contrails of the bombers and hit them from behind.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
The B-17 Jersey Bounce.

“As soon as we got over the target, they smashed hell out of us,” Capt. Don Gamble, commander of the 303rd Bomb Group said.

Vosler’s B-17 was able to complete her bomb run but by then, there were holes in one wing, an engine was ablaze, and the plane had been knocked out of formation. As she pulled out to head home, a 20mm shell hit the plane’s tail. Shrapnel flew through the body of the plane and Vosler was hit in both legs. He huddled in his radioman’s chair for a few minutes, “terribly scared” and feeling the blood run down his legs, before realizing, as he later said, “This is stupid… I’ve got to do something to protect myself or I’m not going to make it.”

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
The pin-up nose art on the Jersey Bounce.

Vosler, a western New York native, had volunteered for the Army Air Corps shortly after his nineteenth birthday, was picked for radio school and sent to Scott Air Field in Illinois and gunner school in Texas, then to England, and finally onto to Jersey Bounce for the Dec. 20, 1943 raid on Bremen factories.

At gunner school, he was told that, on a B-17, “everyone is a gunner.”

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
The crew of Vosler’s Liberator.

Vosler moved to one of the Bounce’s empty guns and began firing, knocking off chunks of a fighter’s wing with his first burst. He kept firing and when his goggles steamed up, he flipped them back to continue. Just then, another 20mm shell hit the Bounce. Vosler was knocked away from his gun, sustaining multiple small wounds and more serious ones in his hand and chest.

“He was shrapnel from his forehead to his knees, everywhere,” Ball Turret Gunner Ed Ruppel recalled“There was blood all over him.” Vosler could see blood pouring through his right eye. The blood, he found out later, had been inside the eye.  

“I [thought] I had lost the whole side of my face… I thought I only had half a face,” he said.

He prayed.

“I became very content, very calm, very collected,” he said. “I no longer feared death, [and] I slowly realized that if God didn’t want to take me at that particular point, then I had to go on and do the best things I could do.”

Almost blind, he returned to his gun until the Jersey Bounce cleared Bremen and then began trying — by touch — to fix the radio that had been damaged in the fighting. Pilot Lt. John Henderson took the Bounce as low as he dared, and the crew busied itself throwing out anything they could to lighten the craft — including damaged guns, ammunition boxes, and seats. As they scoured the plane for material to jettison, Engineer Bill Simpkins passed the radio room where Vosler was working.

“I looked him right in the face,” Simkins said, “and I saw there was stuff dribbling down his right cheek from his eye. He was in a daze, groggy, visibly shook up. He wasn’t normal.”

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Forrest Vosler, the second enlisted Airman to earn the Medal of Honor.

As the Bounce cleared the French coast and flew over the North Sea, Vosler, having fixed the radio, began sending an SOS and then a holding signal so rescuers could find the plane. With England in sight, Lt. Henderson put down in the water. As the crew climbed out on the plane’s wings, Vosler grabbed wounded tail-gunner, George Buske, who was slipping into the water and held him until a raft could be deployed.

Vosler spent the next several months in the hospital, part of that time completely blind.

He lost his right eye, but he survived.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Retired serviceman Forrest T. Vosler, a World War II air mission Medal of Honor recipient, examines a medal during a memorial reunion of US Air Force Medal of Honor recipients.

Eight months later, in August 1944, he received the Medal of Honor from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for, as his citation says, “extraordinary courage, coolness, and skill… when handicapped by injuries that would have incapacitated the average crewmember.”

Articles

Mysterious Air Force space plane lands after 2-year mission

An unmanned US military space plane has landed at NASA’sKennedy Space Center following a mission lasting more than two years.


The , which looks like a miniature space shuttle, touched down May 7, causing a sonic boom as it landed on a runway once used for space shuttles which have been mothballed.

The sonic boom caused dozens of nearby residents to take to Twitter, with one saying her house “shook” and her dog had “gone into a frenzy”.

Exactly what the space plane was doing during its 718 days in orbit is not entirely clear, with the US Air Force saying the orbiters “perform risk reduction, experimentation and concept-of-operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies.”

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
The U.S. Air Force X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle 4 landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida May 7, 2017. Managed by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, the X-37B program is the newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft that performs risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

The cost of the mission – the fourth and longest so far – is classified.

The Secure World Foundation, a non-profit group that promotes the peaceful exploration of space, says the secrecy surrounding the suggests intelligence-related hardware is being tested or evaluated aboard the craft.

At 29 feet-long and with a wingspan of 15 feet, the Boeing-built craft is about a quarter of the size of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s now-retired space shuttles.

This mission began in May 2015, when the plane set off from nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard an Atlas 5 rocket built by United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co.

Its first mission was eight-months-long from April 2010, its second from March the following year lasted 15 months.

A third took off in December 2012 and ended after 22 months.

Another mission is scheduled later this year.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, sonic booms used to be common in the area during the 30 years of NASA’s manned space shuttle programme, with landings at the Kennedy Space Center preceded by a loud double boom.

But the last of those shuttles landed nearly six years ago.

There is also a type of rocket – SpaceX’s Falcon 9 – which produces sonic booms and these were last heard earlier this month.

But officials had refused to confirm the return date for the , so its arrival was not expected by residents.

Articles

This Afghan warlord gave up the fight in exchange for amnesty

Notorious former Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has held talks with government representatives in eastern Afghanistan after years outside the country, his first public meetings with officials from the Western-backed government since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.


The meetings on April 28 came after Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami militant group signed a peace agreement with President Ashraf Ghani’s government in September. Under the deal, he was granted amnesty for past offenses in exchange for ending his violent 15-year insurgency against the government.

The controversial peace deal has been criticized by many Afghans and by Western rights groups, which accuse Hekmatyar’s forces of gross human rights violations during Afghanistan’s civil war in the 1990s and cite their deadly attacks on U.S. and Afghan forces since 2001.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
The war in Afghanistan began in 2001 with the aim of removing the Taliban from power.  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dexter S. Saulisbury/Released)

Hekmatyar met on April 28 with Laghman Province Governor Abdul Jabar Naimi and Ghani’s security adviser, Juma Khan Hamdard.

He arrived two days earlier in the province, which lies between Kabul and the border with Pakistan, where he is believed to have been in hiding.

Naimi said Hekmatyar had “promised full cooperation” with the government and added that he hoped the peace deal would “revive hopes for enduring peace in Afghanistan,” according to a statement.

Hekmatyar had been expected to make a public appearance in Laghman on April 28, marked in Afghanistan as the 25th anniversary of the defeat in 1992 of the formerly Soviet-backed government by armed insurgents known as the mujahedin.

But the event was canceled without explanation.

A Hezb-e Islami spokesman told RFE/RL that Hekmatyar’s appearance had been rescheduled for April 29.

Hekmatyar’s supporters have erected large billboards across Kabul in anticipation of his first public appearance.

Hekmatyar founded Hezb-e Islami in the mid-1970s. The group became one of the main mujahedin factions fighting against Soviet forces following their invasion in 1979, and then one of the most prominent groups in the bloody civil war for control of Kabul after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.

Hekmatyar, a former prime minister under the mujahedin government, was one of the chief protagonists of the internecine 1992-96 war. Rights groups accuse Hekmatyar of responsibility for the shelling of residential areas of Kabul in the 1990s, as well as forced disappearances and covert jails where torture was commonplace.

Also read: 600 Fort Bliss soldiers prepare to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq

He was designated as a terrorist by the U.S. State Department in 2003.

Under the peace agreement, Hekmatyar will be granted amnesty for past offenses and certain Hezb-e Islami prisoners will be released by the government. The deal also includes provisions for his security at government expense.

In February, the UN Security Council lifted sanctions on Hekmatyar, paving his way to return to Afghanistan.

The controversial peace deal was a breakthrough for Ghani, who so far has had little to show for his efforts at ending the country’s 16-year war.

While the military wing of the Hezb-e Islami led by Hekmatyar has been a largely dormant force in recent years and has little political relevance in Afghanistan, the deal with the government could be a template for any future deal with fundamentalist Taliban militants who have also fought Kabul’s authority.

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

More funny memes scraped from the darkest corners of the internet – you know, Facebook. Got your own great memes? Bring them to our page and “Like” us while you’re there.


1. Even if he had a full magazine and you were standing still (Via Sh*t My LPO Says).

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Don’t stand in front of anything expensive though. No telling which direction he’ll miss.

2. Video game logic in the real world.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
The delay in air support would be fine if cheat codes worked.

SEE ALSO: These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had

3. This is why you’re supposed to use the metric system (Via Sh*t My LPO Says).

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Metric: The only way your superiors won’t confuse themselves with conversions.

4.  AAFES: One stop shop with ok prices and acceptable products.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Support the warfighter.

5. Some Marines still care about fashion (via Marine Corps Memes).

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Seriously though, soft shoe profiles would be less annoying if the guy still looked mostly right.

6. The Navy may be the most powerful maritime force in history …

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
… but the Coast Guard is the oldest! Wait, this doesn’t feel like a great slam.

7. The Air Force is always looking down at the other forces (Via Team Non-Rec)…

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
… feet. The other forces’ feet. It’s the only way they can find the beat.

8. Cadets: The “lease to buy” method of joining the military.

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
At least she doesn’t expect hot chocolate and marshmallows if it rains. She doesn’t, right?

9. Works great until you get in-country and can’t get signal (via Marine Corps Memes).

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Then you have to get assigned to a base with Wi-Fi.

10. When the speaker says, “Any questions,” he’s just checking the box (Via Air Force Memes and Humor).

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
You’re not supposed to actually ask questions.

11. When you’ve been looking for the platoon leader for hours (Via Team Non-Rec) …

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
… and finally find them trapped somewhere.

 12. It’s a trap, but you still have to open the door (Via Team Non-Rec).

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
But maybe find your own metal face mask before you open up.

13. Brace yourselves (Via Sh*t My LPO Says)!!

13 professional baseball players who became war heroes
Administrative bullsh*t is coming!

NOW: The 7 people you meet in basic training

AND: The 18 funniest moments from ‘Generation Kill’