Tag Archives: Medal of Honor

Warbirds – F4U Corsair

Considered by many to be the best carrier based fighter-bomber of World War II, today we honor the May 29, 1940  first flight of the F4U Corsair on Warbirds.

Despite early issues with getting Corsair squadrons qualified for carrier landings, the Marine Corps had no reservations about using her as a land-based fighter beginning in 1942.  The navy restricted the planes from carrier landings until early 1944.  Despite the Corsair’s superior performance in almost all categories, veteran Navy pilots preferred the F-6 Hellcat as it was easier to land having less tendency to bounce.  Many naval aviators disparagingly called the F4U “hog”, hognose”, or even “bent-wing widow maker”.

The F-4 Corsair’s combat debut in 1943  was as part of the fiasco near Kahili known as the “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre”.  4 P-38s, 2 P-40s, 2 B-24s, and 2 F4Us were lost with no more than 4 Zeros downed.  Despite this rocky first encounter, Marine pilots soon learned to take advantage of the Corsair’s superior capabilities and six .50 caliber machineguns versus Japanese fighters.  These ground based squadrons would operate in some of the Pacific theater’s hottest zones like Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Philippines, Marshall Islands, Palaus, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.

The F4U has had a star-studded cast of pilots.  Charles Lindbergh served as a test pilot and evaluator while Hall of Fame baseball player Ted Williams was a flight instructor for the F4U at Pensacola.  Among Marine Corps Corsair pilots there were 15 confirmed aces and 4 Medal of Honor recipients.  The first Corsair Ace was Second Lieutenant Kenneth A. Walsh while the most famous was probably Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington f the Blacksheep Squadron (VMF-214).

Having seen service with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Royal New Zealand Airforce, and the U.K. Royal Navy Fleet Arm, the end of WWII did not spell the end of the Corsair’s career.  The F4U would serve with Argentinian, El Salvadoran, French, and Honduran militaries.  Combat roles would include the First Indochina War, the Suez Crisis, the Algerian War, and War of Tunisian Independence.  But, the Corsair would truly shine as close support aircraft and night fighter during the Korean War.  Ensign Jesse L. Brown, the U.S. Navy’s 1st African-American naval aviator, flew Corsairs on combat missions from the USS Leyte (CV-32). He was shot down on December 4, 1950 and became the first U.S. Navy officer killed during the Korean War.

F4U Corsairs feature prominently in media.  John Wayne starred in a film about Marine Corps aviators called Flying Leathernecks.  The made for television movie and follow-up series Baa Baa Black Sheep fictionally portrays the actions of Greg “Pappy” Boyington and the Black Sheep Squadron (VMF-214)

You can view a very thorough history of the Vought F4U Corsair on YouTube in this 5-part series.

(If you have suggestions of other aircraft to cover in upcoming Warbirds posts, please put them in the comments.  Thanks.)

Lost and Found – January 10th Edition

What to remember about January 10th…

  • 1776  Exiled loyalist and Governor of North Carolina calls for subjects to rise up against patriot “Insurrection”, only 1500 answer the call
  • 1861  Florida secedes from the Union ahead of the Civil War
  • 1862  Pioneering firearms manufacturer and businessman Samuel Colt dies of gout in Hartford, Connecticut (b. 1814)
  • 1917  Medal of Honor recipient, hunter, and showman William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody dies in bed in Denver, Colorado (b. 1846)
  • 1920  Covenant of the League of Nations goes into effect; formally establishes the League of Nations even without U.S. membership
  • 1941  President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduces lend-lease program to support allies without direct military confrontation with the Axis
  • 1946  General Assembly of the United Nations convenes for 1st time meeting at Westminster Central Hall in London; 51 nations represented
  • 1984  United States and Vatican City establish full diplomatic relations
  • 2016  Musician, actor, songwriter, and cultural icon David Bowie (David Robert Jones) dies from liver cancer at home in New York City (b. 1947)

Warbirds – B-24 Liberator Heavy Bomber

December 29th marks the anniversary of the first-flight of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator.  Designed by Consolidated under the name Model 32, in 1939 the proposal was offered to the War Department as the highest flying, fastest, and most advanced heavy bomber that American forces would have at their disposal.  Though having a shorter hull and less wing area, the innovative design features of the B-24 resulted in a lighter aircraft with substantially greater carrying capacity.  Only nine months after the awarding of the contract, the first prototype took flight.

b-24 liberator line drawing

Often forgotten alongside the more famous B-17 Flying Fortress, the Liberator is still the most produced American military aircraft of all time.  More than 18,400 units were delivered by war’s end; over half coming produced at the Ford Motor Company Willow Run plant at Belleville, Michigan.  At peak, this purpose-built production plant rolled out B-24s at a rate of one per hour.  Over 1000 crewmen slept in cots at the facility just to accommodate testing and delivery of the bombers.

b-24 liberator willow run assembly line

b-24 liberator willow run assembly line final assembly

The B-24 entered service in 1941 with the British as transports and anti-submarine coastal patrols.  The first American B-24 to see action was the lone Liberator stationed at Pearl Harbor and it was destroyed on the ground during the Japanese attack December 7th, 1941.  Despite this less than heroic debut, the legacy of this aircraft is one of the most storied of WWII.  During the war, crews of the Liberators would earn every honor available to our aviators; including the awarding of several Medals of Honor.

http://youtu.be/YWOk2–CY6E

Notable crewmen on B-24s included:

  • George McGovern – pilot (Senator and Presidential candidate)
  • Jim Wright – bombardier (Congressman and Speaker of the House)
  • Stewart Udall – waist gunner (Congressman, Secretary of the Interior, author, and conservationist)
  • Jimmy Stewart – pilot, squadron commander (actor)
  • Robert Altman – co-pilot (film director)
  • Don Herbert – pilot (actor, host of TV show Ask Mr. Wizard)
  • Louis Zamperini – bombardier (Olympic runner and POW)

B-24 Liberator with Jimmy Stewart as pilot

By the end of its service life, dozens of B-24 variants flew with a whole host of nations, including:

Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czechoslovakia, Germany (as Beuteflugzeug, captured aircraft, India, Italy, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Romania (At least three B-24Ds and one B-24J were rebuild from wrecks around Ploiesti in 1943–44.), Poland, Portugal, Soviet Union, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States

In its time, the B-24 was one of the most advanced and effective heavy bombers in the world.  Though crews (and history) seem to prefer the B-17, the lessons learned during the creation, evolution, and service of the B-24 would lead to the development of the B-32 and B-36.  These Warbirds would carry the Liberator’s legacy forward through Korea, to Vietnam, and into the height of the Cold War.  Today, only 3 of these historic bombers remain airworthy.

B-24 Liberators over Ploiesti Oil Fields 1943 low level run

B-24 Liberators over Ploiesti Oil Fields 1943

Lost and Found – December 5th Edition

What to remember about December 5th…

  • 1775  Colonial Colonel Henry Knox arrives at Ticonderoga to form expedition to bring 60 captured artillery to General Washington; 10-week journey is astounding winter feat
  • 1782  Future 8th President Martin Van Buren is born in Kinderhook, New York (d. 1862)
  • 1791  Austrian musical prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart dies of fever in Vienna (b. 1756)
  • 1831  Former President John Quincy Adams takes office as a member of the House of Representatives
  • 1901  American entrepreneur and philanthropist Walter Elias “Walt” Disney is born in Chicago, Illinois (d. 1966)
  • 1933  Prohibition ends when Utah ratifies 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified and 18th is repealed
  • 1945  27 men lost when squadron of Navy planes disappears over Bermuda Triangle; mystery of Flight 19
  • 1955  American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations merge to become AFL-CIO
  • 1964  Army Captain Roger Donlon is presented 1st Medal of Honor awarded during Vietnam War; 1st member of Special Forces to receive the award
  • 2007  19-year-old gunman opens fire at Westroads Mall in Nebraska; 8 killed and 4 wounded before shooter kills himself
  • 2008  O.J. Simpson is sentenced to 15-33 years in prison for his role in kidnapping and robbery at casino in Las Vegas, Nevada

Lost and Found – December 4th Edition

What to remember about December 4th…

  • 1780  Patriot dragoons use fake cannon to bluff British troops into surrender near Camden, South Carolina
  • 1783  At a tavern in New York, General George Washington informs his officers that he is returning to civilian life
  • 1872  After leaving New York a month before, British ship Mary Celeste is found abandoned at sea and under full sail
  • 1912  Marine pilot, POW, and Medal of Honor winner Gregory “Pappy” Boyington is born in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (d. 1988); commander of famous “Black Sheep Squadron” in Pacific
  • 1917  Psychiatrist W.H. Rivers publishes report on psychological trauma of WWI troops; “shell shock” is the name given to what is now known at PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • 1918  Woodrow Wilson sets sail for Europe; 1st President to visit the continent while still in office
  • 1942  Polish Christians form Zegota resistance group to aid Jews avoid or escape the Nazi’s “final solution”
  • 1945  Senate votes to allow U.S. participation in the United Nations
  • 1966  Viet Cong infiltrate defenses and shell Tan Son Nhut airport for over an hour damaging U.S. aircraft
  • 1980  After the death of drummer John Bonham, legendary rock band Led Zeppelin announces they have disbanded
  • 1992  President George H.W. bush orders U.S. troops to Somalia to secure humanitarian efforts during ongoing civil war
  • 2009  American student Amanda Knox is convicted by Italian Jury in murder of her British roommate; conviction overturned 2011

Led Zeppelin album cover

Lost and Found – November 26th Edition

What to remember about November 26th…

    • 1776  Peyton Randolph, 1st president of the Continental Congress, is laid to rest at College of William and Mary
    • 1863  1st annual Thanksgiving Day is celebrated; established by President Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving
    • 1922 British archaeologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon are first to enter Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings in over 3000 years
    • 1942  Oscar-winning World War II film Casablanca opens in New York City; stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman
    • 1950  Hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops counter-attack in support of North Korean allies; Korean War enters new phase
    • 1968  Instead of returning after his last mission, Air Force helicopter pilot James P. Fleming diverts and rescues Army Green Berets pinned down by heavy fire; his actions are later recognized with the presentation of the Medal of Honor
    • 1998  Wrestling star Hulk Hogan announces he is retiring and will run for President in 2000; later revealed as publicity stunt
    • 2008  Pakistani Islamist terrorists launch 10 coordinated bombings and shootings in Mumbai, India; 164 killed and 300 wounded

king-tut-death-mask

Lost and Found – November 8th Edition

What to remember about November 8th…

    • 1889  Montana is admitted as 41st state in the Union
    • 1900  American journalist and author Margaret Mitchell is born in Atlanta, Georgia; most famous for “Gone With The Wind
    • 1923  Adolf Hitler attempts to seize power for the 1st time with Beer Hall Putsch in Munich; he will spend 5 years in prison
    • 1939  Hitler survives assassination attempt; blames British spies
    • 1942  Allied forces land in North Africa for Operation Torch
    • 1950  American pilot Lt. Russell J. Brown shoots down 2 North Korean MiG-15 fighters; first jet-to-jet dogfight in history
    • 1965  Army medic Lawrence Joel earns Medal of Honor for aiding his comrades though he had been wounded twice himself
    • 1966  Ronald Reagan is elected governor of California
    • 1974  Serial killer Ted Bundy botches kidnapping of Carol DaRonch in Utah; later he is arrested for attack but escapes from jail
    • 2000  Statewide recount begins in Florida to decide 2000 U.S. presidential election
    • UPDATE:  2016  Donald John Trump (R) defeats Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) becoming the 45th President of the United States

hillary-clinton-trump

Lost and Found – October 8th Edition

What to remember about October 8th…

    • 1861  Fires break out in Chicago, IL, Peshtigo, WI, Holland, MI, and Manistee, MI; hundreds die in Great Chicago Fire; over 1000 in Peshtigo
    • 1862  Confederate invasion of Kentucky is halted by Union troops
    • 1868  Former President Franklin Pierce dies at home in Concord, New Hampshire
    • 1918  U.S. Army Corporal Alvin C. York kills more than 20 German soldiers and captures an additional 132; he will be awarded the Medal of Honor
    • 1919  1st transcontinental air race in the United States begins
    • 1920  American author and futurist Frank Patrick Herbert, Jr. is born; creator of the Dune saga
    • 1967  Cold-blooded murderer and Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara is captured by Bolivian army; he will be executed the next day
    • 1969  The Weatherman branch of Students for a Democratic Society stage “Days of Rage” demonstrations; 3 days of violent riots in Chicago
    • 1998  U.S. house of Representatives votes to proceed on impeachment charges against President Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice
    • 2001  Office of Homeland Security begins operations with former Governor Tom Ridge as director

Psychopath. Murderer. Torturer. Communist. Putting his picture on your clothes is like wearing a swastika.

Lost and Found – October 6th Edition

What to remember about October 6th…

  • 1536  Translator for much of the 1st printed English language Bible, William Tyndale is strangled and burned for heresy
  • 1683  America’s 1st Mennonite settlers arrive aboard Concord; 1st major German emigration to America
  • 1777  British forces capture 2 American forts while moving to support besieged troops at Saratoga
  • 1866  Reno brothers stage 1st train robbery in U.S. history; steal $13,000 in Jackson County, Indiana
  • 1890  Mormon leaders vote to outlaw polygamy in the church
  • 1973  Egypt and Syria launch surprise attack on Israel during Yom Kippur holy day; 4th Arab-Israeli War begins
  • 1981  Libyan sponsored terrorists assassinate Egyptian President Sadat during anniversary observances for Yom Kippur War
  • 1995  Astronomers discover the 1st planet orbiting a Sun-like star outside Earth’s solar system
  • 2010  Green Beret Staff Sergeant Robert James Miller is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan in 2008
  • 2012  U.S. Navy commissions guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112) honoring 1st Medal of Honor recipient of Afghan War

Lost and Found – July 12th Edition

What to remember about July 12th…

  • 1804  Alexander Hamilton dies a day after being shot in a duel by Vice President Aaron Burr
  • 1812  American forces invade near Ontario, Canada in War of 1812
  • 1817  American author, abolitionist, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau is born in Concord, Massachusetts
  • 1862  President Abraham Lincoln signs law establishing the Medal of Honor
  • 1864  Attack on Washington, D.C by Confederate forces is repelled
  • 1895  American inventor, engineer, and futurist Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller is born in Milton, Massachusetts (d. 1983)
  • 1909  16th Amendment to the United States Constitution is proposed, allows the federal government to collect income tax
  • 1937  American actor and comedian William Henry Bill Cosby is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 1962  Rolling Stones play their first gig, Marquee Club in London
  • 1984  Walter Mondale chooses Geraldine Ferraro as his running-mate , 1st women to become candidate for Vice President
  • 2006  Hezbollah forces launch missiles as a diversion to allow kidnapping of Israeli soldiers; incident sparks 2006 Lebanon War