u.s. army

4

A Brief Look at African American Soldiers in the Great War

By Matthew Margis

When the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson undertook a massive propaganda campaign to expand support for the war.  He declared that, America would help make the world “safe for democracy.”  Democracy though, eluded an entire segment of American society who struggled with the realities of Jim Crow laws, legal segregation, and general racist attitudes.  African American citizens across the nation—especially in the American South—had little access to high-paying jobs, educational opportunities, and suffered from disenfranchisement.  Throughout American history, the military served as a prism through which to view larger social concepts, and the First World War was no exception.  The Marine Corps excluded blacks entirely, the Navy restricted their service to menial roles as cooks and stewards, and the Army remained racially segregated.[1]   Despite this, many black men remained eager to reinforce their status as American citizens and fight for their country—hoping this would translate to broader social equality.  By war’s end, roughly 370,000 African Americans served in some capacity…

Read more about the African American contribution to World War I at A Brief Look at African American Soldiers in the Great War | The Unwritten Record

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Jimi Hendrix’s stint in the Army wasn’t necessarily voluntary. he was already honing his guitar skills in 1961 when a run-in with the law over stolen cars led to a choice: he could either spend two years in prison or join the Army. He enlisted on May 31, 1961 and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, where he was stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He continued playing guitar while off-duty, Sergeant Louis Hoekstra commented, “This is one of his faults, because his mind apparently cannot function while performing duties and thinking about his guitar.” He noted that Hendrix was a “habitual offender” when it came to missing midnight bed checks and it was reported that he slept while on duty.

Hendrix had signed up for three years of service but Captain Gilbert Batchman had enough after one year, and made the case for Hendrix to be discharged, as his problems were judged to not be treatable by “hospitalization or counseling.” According to the discharge form he had “Behavior problems, requires excessive supervision while on duty, little regard for regulations, appended masturbating in platoon area while supposed to be on detail.”An alleged ankle injury during a parachute jump gave Hendrix the opportunity to bow out of active duty with an honorable discharge, and he was happy to oblige. 

Thrift Store Blessings

That moment when you’ve been searching to buy an army camouflage jacket and after a month of searching, God blesses you with one.

Originally posted by jemeursenprepa

A black business was selling one for $70 because it was going to be customized. Ebay and Etsy were selling some between $25 - $40. But after going to four different thrift stores, I found mine for $5!

Originally posted by paygewragg

Before I went to fourth and final thrift store, I literally prayed before entering. Then I looked to my left and my beautiful jacket was right there, like it was waiting for my arrival. To top it all off, it literally fits like a glove.

Originally posted by it-feels-like-a-perfect-day

Y'all can’t tell me God ain’t good.

4

Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha.
United States Army Special Forces a.k.a. “Green Berets

The United States Army Special Forces, known as the Green Berets because of their distinctive service headgear, are a special operations force tasked with five primary missions: unconventional warfare (the original and most important mission of Special Forces), foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action, and counter-terrorism. 

The first two emphasize language, cultural, and training skills in working with foreign troops. Other duties include combat search and rescue (CSAR), counter-narcotics, counter-proliferation, hostage rescue, humanitarian assistance, humanitarian demining, information operations, peacekeeping , psychological operations, security assistance, and manhunts; other components of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) or other U.S. government activities may also specialize in these secondary areas. Many of their operational techniques are classified, but some nonfiction works and doctrinal manuals are available.

As special operations units, Special Forces are not necessarily under the command authority of the ground commanders in those countries. Instead, while in theater, SF units may report directly to a geographic combatant command, USSOCOM, or other command authorities. The Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) highly secretive Special Activities Division (SAD) and more specifically its Special Operations Group (SOG) recruits from the Army’s Special Forces. Joint CIA-Army Special Forces operations go back to the MACV-SOG branch during the Vietnam War. The cooperation still exists today and is seen in the War in Afghanistan.

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In December 1957, the Memphis Draft Board announced that Elvis Presley would soon receive his draft notice. Presley told reporters that his service was “a duty I’ve got to fill and I’m going to do it.” Elvis Presley was on active duty from March 1958 - March 1960, and he spent another four years in the reserves. Despite being offered the chance to enlist in Special Services to entertain the troops and live in priority housing, he decided to serve as a regular soldier. 

5

Newly Digitized Color Photos from the Battle of the Bulge

St. Vith, Belgium was the scene of bitter fighting during the opening days of the Battle of the Bulge.  Although the German assault was delayed by fierce resistance, American defenders were eventually forced to withdraw from the town on December 21, 1944.  A month later, as the Allied counter-attack rolled back German gains, St. Vith was re-liberated on January 23, 1945.

Recently digitized by our colleagues in the National Archives Still Pictures Branch, these color photographs from the U.S. Army Signal Corps show St. Vith and its surroundings in the days following its liberation.

  1. Here is a portion of the wreckage in St. Vith, Belgium, after units of the 7th Armored Division, took the town.
    NARA ID 16730732
  2. Lined up in a snow-covered field, near St. Vith, Belgium are these M-4 Sherman tanks of the 40th Tank Bn.
    NARA ID 16730735
  3. Snowsuited soldiers walk through the snow-covered streets of St. Vith, Belgium. These men are with Co. C, 48th Bn., 7th Armored Div. 24 Jan. 1945
    NARA ID 16730733
  4. Yanks trudge through snow from Hunnange, Belgium to St. Vith. Soldiers are with Co. C., 23rd Armored Bn., of the 7th Armored Division.
    NARA ID 16730736
  5. This dug-in mortar emplacement near St. Vith, Belgium is manned by, left to right, Pvt. R.W. Fierde, Wyahoga Falls, Ohio; S/Sgt. Adam J. Celinca, Windsor, Conn., and T/Sgt. W.O. Thomas, Chicago.  24 Jan. 1945. 
    NARA ID 16730734

See the rest of our series on the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge or read more at Prologue: “The Bloodiest Battle - The Battle of the Bulge Loomed Large 70 Winters Ago” →

My favourite quotes

“Aim towards the Enemy.” - Instruction printed on U.S. Rocket Launcher
“When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend.” - U.S. Army
“Cluster bombing from B-52s is very, very accurate. The bombs are guaranteed to always hit the ground.” - U.S.A.F. Ammo Troop
“If the enemy is in range, so are you.” - Infantry Journal
“A slipping gear could let your M203 grenade launcher fire when you least expect it. That would make you quite unpopular in what’s left of your unit.” - Army’s magazine of preventive maintenance
“It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed.” - U.S. Air Force Manual
“Try to look unimportant; they may be low on ammo.” - Infantry Journal
“Tracers work both ways.” - U.S. Army Ordnance
“Five-second fuses only last three seconds.” - Infantry Journal
“Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid.” - Col. David Hackworth
“If your attack is going too well, you’re probably walking into an ambush.” - Infantry Journal
“No combat-ready unit has ever passed inspection.” - Joe Gay
“Any ship can be a minesweeper … once.” - Anonymous
“Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do.” - Unknown Army Recruit
“Don’t draw fire; it irritates the people around you.” - Your Buddies
(And lastly)
“If you see a bomb technician running, try to keep up with him.” - U.S. Ammo Troop

Extortion 17

To the families of these brave men, we salute you and will never forget the sacrifices that were made for all of us.  We are forever grateful. 

Lt. Cmdr. (SEAL) Jonas B. Kelsall, 32, of Shreveport, La.,

Special Warfare Operator Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Louis J. Langlais, 44, of Santa Barbara, California;

Special Warfare Operator Senior Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Thomas A. Ratzlaff, 34, of Green Forest, Arkansas;

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Senior Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Kraig M. Vickers 36, of Kokomo, Hawaii;

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Brian R. Bill, 31, of Stamford, Connecticut;

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) John W. Faas, 31, of Minneapolis, Minnesota;

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Kevin A. Houston, 35, of West Hyannisport, Massachusetts;

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Matthew D. Mason, 37, of Kansas City, Missouri;

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Stephen M. Mills, 35, of Fort Worth, Texas;

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist/Diver) Nicholas H. Null, 30, of Washington, West Virginia;

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Robert J. Reeves, 32, of Shreveport, Louisiana;

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Heath M. Robinson, 34, of Detroit, Michigan;

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Darrik C. Benson, 28, of Angwin, California;

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Parachutist) Christopher G. Campbell, 36, of Jacksonville, North Carolina;

Information Systems Technician Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Jared W. Day, 28, of Taylorsville, Utah;

Master-at-Arms Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) John Douangdara, 26, of South Sioux City, Nebraska;

Cryptologist Technician (Collection) Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) Michael J. Strange, 25, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist) Jon T. Tumilson, 35, of Rockford, Iowa;

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Aaron C. Vaughn, 30, of Stuart, Florida;

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jason R. Workman, 32, of Blanding, Utah.

The following sailors assigned to a West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit were killed:

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jesse D. Pittman, 27, of Ukiah, California, and

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 2nd Class (SEAL) Nicholas P. Spehar, 24, of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

The soldiers killed were:

Chief Warrant Officer David R. Carter, 47, of Centennial, Colorado. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Aurora;

Chief Warrant Officer Bryan J. Nichols, 31, of Hays, Kansas. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kansas;

Sgt. Patrick D. Hamburger, 30, of Lincoln, Neb. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Grand Island, Nebraska;

Sgt. Alexander J. Bennett, 24, of Tacoma, Washington. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kansas; and

Spc. Spencer C. Duncan, 21, of Olathe, Kansas. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kansas.

The airmen killed were:

Tech. Sgt. John W. Brown, 33, of Tallahassee, Florida;

Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Harvell, 26, of Long Beach, California; and

Tech. Sgt. Daniel L. Zerbe, 28, of York, Pennsylvania.

All three airmen were assigned to the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Field, North Carolina. 

Via Dailymail.