Posts filed under ‘Marine Corps’

FRIDAY FOTO (December 2, 2022)

TASK FORCE RED CLOUD.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Jackson Kirkiewicz) Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

U.S. Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 6 (CLB-6), a unit of Combat Logistics Regiment 2 in the 2nd Marine Logistics Group, drive a Finnish G-Class landing craft while operating the Amy, an unmanned surface vehicle on the Baltic Sea, off the coast of Finland November 25, 2022.

CLB-6 trains organizes and deploys to provide logistical combat support to Regimental Combat Teams (RCT) in the field with supplies beyond their organic capabilities, so there’s no interruption to operations.

CLB-6 also supplies headquarters elements for Task Force Red Cloud,  which is deployed to Finland in support of exercises like Freezing Winds 2022, which ran from November 22 to December 2.  The exercise, in the Gulf of Finland and the constricted maritime terrain of the Finnish archipelago involved a total of 23 combat vessels, service and support vessels, transport vessels, as well as coastal and land troops, totaling about 5,000 personnel. The annual maritime defense exercise provided a unique opportunity to rehearse demanding combat tasks in the harsh November weather conditions of the Baltic Sea, according to Finland’s Chief of Staff of the Navy Command, Commodore Jukka Anteroinen.

The United States and NATO have stepped up military, air and naval exercises in the Baltic region with Sweden and Finland — which have both applied to join NATO — since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, leading to much destruction and loss of life.

December 1, 2022 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (October 21, 2022)

ALL FALL DOWN.

  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Tyler W. Abbott) Click on photo to enlarge image.

No, they’re not practicing the gentle art of Tai Chi. These Marine Corps recruits of the 1st Recruit Training Battalion, are executing a left break fall during the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) at the Marines’ Recruit Depot San Diego on October 3, 2022.

According to the Marines, MCMAP is “an integrated, weapons-based system that incorporates the full spectrum of the force continuum on the battlefield, and contributes to the mental, character and physical development of Marines.” We think that means Marines are trained to handle themselves from gun to thumb — and everything lethal in between.

“The mental, moral, and physical resiliency of the Marine Corps’ warfighters will be of utmost importance towinning battles in future conflicts,” according to the 54-page document from Marine Corps headquarters explaining MCMAP, which aims to strengthen the individual Marine’s resiliency “through realistic combative training, warrior ethos studies, and physical hardening.”

So, learning how to fall is important. When your 4GWAR editor visited an U.S. Army basic training base in the Midwest 10 years ago, we were shocked to see how many recruits were using crutches, or wearing casts or support boots as they limped behind the rest of their unit on the way to PT at 0-dark-30.

Notice the recruits in the photo above are all wearing mouth guards and knuckle protectors on their hands.  In these days of fewer recruits, military leaders don’t want to damage them before they begin their active service.

“While each of the services has been facing recruitment challenges ― which service leaders attribute among other things to the COVID-19 pandemic ― a low interest in military service and a declining eligible population, the Marine Corps managed to overcome its enlistment obstacles,” this year, according to Marine Corps Times.   The Corps met its recruitment goals for fiscal year 2022, making it one of the only branches to fully reach its target numbers this year, the paper added.

October 20, 2022 at 11:42 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (September 23, 2022)

ON A (ROTARY) WING AND A PRAYER.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Jonathan L. Gonzalez)

A Bell UH-1Y Venom utility helicopter (left) and a Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 773, conduct flight operations near the Christ the Redeemer statue at Corcovado Mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during exercise UNITAS LXIII, on September 12, 2022.

We haven’t focused much on U.S. Southern Command in a while here at 4GWAR, so this photo presents an opportunity to spotlight the work of this regional combatant command based at Doral, Florida near Miami. SOUTHCOM is responsible for defending U.S. security and interests of Latin America south of Mexico, including the waters adjacent to Central and South America and the Caribbean Sea.

Conducted every year since 1960, UNITAS (Latin for “unity’), is the world’s longest-running annual multinational maritime exercise. 4GWAR has been writing about UNITAS since 2015.

HMLA 773, headquartered at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, is part of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Forces Reserve in support of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force UNITAS LXIII.

This year Brazil celebrated its bicentennial, a historical milestone commemorating 200 years of the country’s independence.

September 22, 2022 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

WORLD WAR CV: COVID-19 Vaccination Remains a Difficult Issue for the Sea Services

GETTING TO THE JAB.

On August 24th 2021, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin determined that requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all members of the military was necessary to protect the force and maintain readiness to defend the American people.

In the year since Austin made vaccination mandatory with President Joe Biden’s approval, the vast majority of people in uniform — nearly 2 million — have gotten fully vaccinated. As of September 7, the latest Defense Department COVID-19 statistics, 1 million, 996 thousand service members have been fully vaccinated, including 909, 699 in r the Army, 387,535 in the Navy, 200,532 in the Marine Corps and 498,541 for the Air Force and Space Force combined. More than 28,000 are considered partially vaccinated — meaning those who have received at least one dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series.

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Henry Beaty administers a COVID-19 booster shot aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge on March 23, 2022. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jesse Schwab)

However, thousands more either refused to get the jab or sought administrative or religious exemption to the vaccination requirement. While hundreds have been granted administrative exemption from vaccination, but just a few have received religious accommodation. That has led led to several lawsuits.

Almost 5,000 Sailors and Marines have been separated from the sea services since late 2021 for vaccination refusal. The Navy has received 4,251 requests for religious accommodation, the Marines 3,733. Less than 100 have been approved. However, a federal judge in Texas certified a class action by Sailors, mostly Navy SEALS, seeking a religious exemption and issued a preliminary injunction March 30, halting separation for members of the class. A similar injunction was issued against the Marine Corps on August 18 by a federal judge in Florida.

Meanwhile, seven cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy who refused to comply with the military’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate were dis-enrolled and ordered off the school’s New London, Connecticut campus in late August, SEAPOWER reported. Although a part of the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard announced a vaccination mandate for service members on August 26th, 2021. By law, the Coast Guard operates under the Defense Department as part of the Department of the Navy when war is declared and Congress directs the shift, or when the President directs the Coast Guard to switch from Homeland Security to Defense.

Fifteen cadets filed medical exemption or religious accommodation requests in September 2021. They were evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the Coast Guard’s Office of Military Personnel Policy and denied. After a series of appeals and further denials, four cadets chose vaccination. Four others resigned from the Academy and the remaining seven were removed from the school for “violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice” for not obeying orders. For more details click here to see the SEAPOWER report by your 4GWAR editor, who is also a correspondent for the magazine and its website.

On a final note, the Defense Department announced Aug. 29 a new COVID-19 vaccine, Novavax, will be available as an option at military clinics. Officials hope Novavax, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration under an emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 12 years of age and older, may be more acceptable to the thousands of troops who have refused the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for religious or moral reasons.

Novavax uses technology that has been used in other vaccines required by the military, like hepatitis B vaccine. Novavax is not made with, or tested on, cells from fetal tissue. It does not use mRNA or DNA technology and does not enter the nucleus of cells, Pentagon officials said.

September 13, 2022 at 1:03 am Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: New AFRICOM Commander Visits Africa; U.N. Report Says 50 Killed in Mali Military Ops

U.S. AFRICA COMMAND

New AFRICOM Commander Visits Africa

The new head of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) visited Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya recently on his first trip to Africa since taking command on August 9.

During the four-day visit (August 28-31), U.S. Marine Corps General Michael Langley visited with host nation leaders, senior State Department and defense officials, and deployed troops to better understand the political and military situation in East Africa, to discuss shared concerns and priorities, and observe ongoing operations firsthand.

U.S. Marine Corps General Michael Langley, the new commander of U.S. Africa Command, meets with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (right) Aug. 29, 2022 during Langley’s first visit to Africa since becoming AFRICOM’s leader. On the left is U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Larry Andre. (Courtesy photo)

While in Somalia, Langley met leaders and troops at operational sites across the country to witness ongoing training efforts and assess security and force protection measures.  He also met with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Minister of Defense Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur, to discuss shared priorities and operations, such as the shared fight against Al-Shabaab.

“The United States supports the Somali government and its people. We are committed to working together to advance our mutual prosperity for our countries. I appreciate Somalia’s efforts in the fight against Al-Shabaab and look forward to continued partnership between our two militaries.”

Djibouti in Africa. click to enlarge (CIA World Factbook)

In Djibouti, Langley discussed the variety of missions that stage out of Camp Lemonnier, the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa.  He also met with President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh and Minster of Foreign Affairs Mahamoud Ali Youssouf.

“The United States is grateful for the leadership Djibouti has shown through its contributions to the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia and the gracious hospitality the Djiboutians show to our troops. I look forward to continuing to foster our enduring, strong and cooperative relationship,” Langley said.

Finally, at Manda Bay, Kenya, Langley met with the new U.S. Ambassador, Margaret “Meg” Whitman, as well as senior defense leaders stationed at the U.S. Embassy, and leaders from the base to assess security and force protection measures.

 

Before Langley took command, on January 5, 2020, between 30 and 40 Al-Shabaab fighters launched an attack on Cooperative Security Location Manda Bay. The attack resulted in the deaths of Army Spc. Henry Mayfield Jr., as well as civilian contractors Dustin Harrison and Bruce Triplett. The attack also destroyed six U.S. aircraft, one aircraft owned by the Kenyans and several vehicles.

Kenya (CIA World Factbook) click to enlarge

A review of the attack by AFRICOM and a follow-up review by the Pentagon found no single point of failure for the loss of life or property damage. But both teams looking into the incident agreed on factors that contributed to the outcome of the attack and on recommendations for improved security operations.

“Cooperative Security Location-Manda Bay is an important operational base for U.S. Africa Command forces in the region,” Langley said.

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U.N. Report: At Least 50 Killed by Malian Army.

At least 50 civilians were killed during a military operation conducted by Mali’s army and “foreign troops” on April 19, the United Nations said in a new report, Reuters reported August 31.

The U.N. has repeatedly accused Malian soldiers of summarily executing civilians and suspected militants over the course of their decade-long fight against groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State.

Mali (CIA World Factbook)

Mali in Africa (CIA World Factbook)

Mali’s military government — which took power in a 2020 coup — has been battling Islamist insurgents with the help of private military contractors belonging to Russia’s Wagner group, mercenary military contractors that have been deployed across the Middle East and Africa, including to Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Mozambique, Madagascar, Central African Republic, and Mali. According to the Brookings Institution, they focus principally on protecting the ruling or emerging governing elites and critical infrastructures.

The massacre victims included a woman and a child, the U.N.’s peacekeeping mission MINUSMA said in a quarterly report on human rights violations in the insurgent-hit West African country.

It did not specify the nationality of the foreign military personnel accompanying local troops.

 

September 1, 2022 at 11:50 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (August 12, 2022)

SPLASHING ABOARD.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Danny Gonzalez) Please click on photo to see larger image.

Marines with Battalion Landing Team 2/5, of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, throw and receive lines from sailors assigned to the amphibious warship USS New Orleans in the Philippine Sea, August 1, 2022.

These Marines, from Fox Company of the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Marine Regiment were conducting welldeck operations training at night. The well deck is a hangar-like deck located at the waterline at the rear (stern) of some amphibious warfare ships. By taking on water the ship can lower its stern, flooding the well deck and allowing boats, amphibious vehicles and landing craft to dock within the ship

The 31st MEU is operating aboard ships of the USS Tripoli Amphibious Ready Group in the 7th Fleet area of operations — the Indo-Pacific region.

The USS New Orleans is an amphibious transport dock ship (LPD 18).  An Amphibious Ready Group consists of a Navy element and several other parts, like the 31st MEU,  to provide the Geographic Combatant Commanders with forward-deployed sea-based expeditionary forces that can work across a range of military operations.

August 12, 2022 at 7:11 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (July 29, 2022)

WELCOME TO MY DARKSIDE

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Taylor Parker) Please click on the photo to enlarge the image.

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Ronald Saunders prepares to direct a Marine Corps AH-1Z Viper helicopter on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) during night flight operations July 14, 2022.

We understand that many Flight Deck crew wear face masks to block out the exhaust fumes, and skulls are a popular motif. We probably should have saved this photo for Halloween — by why wait?

Aircraft handlers, like Saunders, wear yellow shirts, as do aircraft directors who shuttle aircraft around the busy flight decks of assault ships and aircraft carriers like traffic cops. Other flight deck crew, who arm, fuel, repair, inspect and move aircraft, wear garb of different colors reflecting their job. To see a short video explaining what all the colors mean, click here.

The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group is on a scheduled deployment in the Atlantic Ocean, U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to defend U.S., allies and partner interests.

July 29, 2022 at 5:49 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (July 22, 2022)

STEADY MEN.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal. Sydney Smith) CLICK on photo to enlarge.

U.S. Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion of the Okinawa-based, 4th Marine Regiment, Marine Air-Ground Task Force 7  and a Marine assigned to the Mexican Naval Infantry practice small boat flipping techniques at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on July 6, 2022, during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the world’s largest international maritime exercise.

U.S. and Mexican Marines conducted small boat training with marines from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Australian soldiers in just one of the training exercises at RIMPAC from June 29 to August 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

Twenty-six nations, 38 ships, four submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC 2022, the 28th exercise in the series first begun in 1971.

The photo below illustrates where these three soggy Marines started. So, you can see turning over an upside down rubber raft while both you and it are in the ocean isn’t easy — but a handy thing to know how to do.

The 4th Marine Regiment is slated to be transformed into one of the new Marine Littoral Regiments as part of the Marine Corps’ larger force design (Force Design 2030), intended to redesign the Corps for naval expeditionary warfare and to better align itself with the National Defense Strategy, in particular, its focus on strategically competing with China and Russia.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Sydney Smith) CLICK on photo to enlarge the image.

July 21, 2022 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: African Lion 22 Exercise in Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia; New AFRICOM Commander Tapped; Troubles in Mali

EXERCISES/TRAINING WITH PARTNERS.

AFRICAN LION 22: Morocco, Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia.

U.S. Africa Command’s premier annual exercise, African Lion 22, ended nearly a month of training operations across four nations in north and west Africa on June 30.

Sergeant Anthony Ruiz, an infantry squad leader assigned to Echo Company, Battalion Landing Team 2/6, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Tunisian troops participate in an integrated training event during African Lion 2022, near Camp Ben Ghilouf, Tunisia on June 21, 2022. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sergeant Marcela Diazdeleon)

African Lion 22 is a multinational, combined arms joint exercise focused on increasing training and interoperability between U.S. forces and  partners and allies on the African continent to increase security and stability within the region.

Led by the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force for Africa, the exercise saw operations ranging from maritime training exercises in the Mediterranean waters off Tunisia and Morocco’s Atlantic Coast to field training and combined arms exercises in Ghana and Senegal.

Military units from Brazil, France, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the African nation of Chad, joined U.S. and host nations’ troops in the exercises. A total of 7,500 troops, nearly 4,000 of them from the United States, participated in African Lion, which began on June 6.

African Lion also included a Special Operations cyber exercise, a medical readiness exercise, a humanitarian civil assistance program,  a joint forcible entry with paratroopers, an air exercise with U.S. heavy heavy lift transport, aerial refueling and bomber aircraft.

Approximately 80 Idaho Army National Guard Soldiers with the 1st Battalion of the 148th Field Artillery Regiment, along other Guard units from from California, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin are training with the Royal Moroccan Army in the northern Sahara Desert as part of African Lion ’22.

(U.S. National Guard photo by Master Sergeant Becky Vanshur)

Historically, African Lion has taken place only in Morocco and Tunisia, but this year Ghana and Senegal were added.  While Ghana has participated in the past as observers, “This is the first time that we’re actually doing the exercise in Ghana,” Major General Andrew M. Rohling, Commander of U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, told a June 28 U.S. State Department digital press briefing with African journalists. Speaking from Morocco, Rohling noted that Ghana “has chosen to partner with its African neighbors and the United States to help provide peace and security across the continent.  Ghana has a growing leadership role in regional security.”

*** *** ***

U.S. Africa Command.

President Biden has nominated Marine Corps Lieutenant General Michael Langley to be the next commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the president’s decision June 9. Langley currently heads Marine Forces Command and Marine Forces Northern Command. He is also the commanding general of Fleet Marine Force Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia.

AFRICOM, based in Stutgart, Germany, oversees U.S. troops dispersed throughout Africa, including conflict zones such as Somalia, where Biden has decided to return up to 500 troops — withdrawn by the Trump administration — to expedite airstrikes for counter terrorism operations, according to Military Times.

If the Senate confirms Langley, he would succeed Army General Stephen Townsend, who has led AFRICOM since July 2019. As head of one of the geographical combatant commands, Langley would also be promoted to the rank of full general, making him the first four-star Marine Corps general.

Langley would be in charge of of all U.S. military operations in Africa. The continent is experiencing a rash of economic and security interests by Russia and China. Russia controls the private military company, Wagner Group, whose mercenaries operate in Libya and the Central African Republic, according to The Hill newspaper site.

Speaking from Morocco to a digital State Department press briefing June 28 about African Lion 22, Major General Andrew M. Rohling, Commander of U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, brought up Wagner Group when asked about the rising number of foreign military operations and bases in Africa. The United States and China each have a base in the East African nation of Djibouti and French and U.S. troops have been assisting several West African nations resist terrorist groups like al Queda and the Islamic State (ISIS).

“I think it’s clear that we’ve seen the impact and the destabilizing effect that Wagner brings to Africa and elsewhere. And I think countries that have experienced Wagner Group deployments within their borders found themselves to be a little bit poorer, a little bit weaker, and a little bit less secure,” Rohling said. “So an exercise such as African Lion aims to build capacity as well as the trusted, long-term relationships to address future challenges.  And I think that’s the difference between United States and others that are operating here on the continent.”

*** *** ***

PEACEKEEPING/CONFLICTS

French Troops Leaving Mali.

Concerns have grown that the exit of 2,400 French troops from Mali – the epicenter of violence in the Sahel region and strongholds of both al Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates – is worsening violence, destabilizing neighbors and spurring migration.

Coups in Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso have weakened France’s alliances in its former colonies, emboldened jihadists who control large swathes of desert and scrub, and opened the door to greater Russian influence.

All the logisticians of France’s Barkhane force are involved in the transfer of military equipment out of Mali after nearly eight years fighting armed terrorist groups in the Sahel and supporting the armed forces of partner countries against the threat. (French Ministry of the Armed Forces photo)

With the withdrawal from Mali expected to be completed by the end of the summer French officials were negotiating in neighboring Niger  to redefine France’s strategy to fight Islamist militants in the Sahel as concerns mount over the growing threat to coastal West African states, Reuters reports.

France’s plan calls for Niger will become the hub for French troops, with some 1,000 soldiers based in the capital Niamey along with fighter jets, drones and helicopters. Some 300-400 French troops would be dispatched for special operations with Nigerien troops in the border regions with Burkina Faso and Mali, French officials told reporters.

West Africa (CIA World Factbook)

Another 700-to-1,000 would be based in Chad with an undisclosed number of special forces operating elsewhere in the region. French troops will no longer carry out missions or pursue militants into Mali once the exit is complete, the officials said.

A key area of concern is how and whether French and European troops will used to support countries in the coastal Gulf of Guinea nations such Benin, Togo and Ivory Coast, where there has been a rise in attacks. Al Qaeda’s regional arm has said it would turn its attention to the region.

*** *** ***

Trouble between Mali and Ivory Coast.

Meanwhile, the military-led government in Mali says it is suspending all new rotations of United Nations peacekeeping troops due to national security reasons, the BBC reports. The action comes days after soldiers from the Ivory Coast were arrested on arrival in Mali on suspicion of being mercenaries.

Officials in Ivory Coast said they were there to support the U.N. mission, known as MINUSMA, under an agreed contract between the two countries. The junta in Mali, which is trying to put down an Islamist insurgency, says its foreign ministry was not informed of the deployment via the official channels.

Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, said the troops were not officially part of MINUSMA but came as “support of their contingents,” what he described as “a common practice in peacekeeping missions,” the VoA website reported. The Malian government labeled them “mercenaries.” Ivory Coast has called for their release.

Peacekeepers serving with the UN’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). (Photo: MINUSMA/Harandane Dicko)

The arrests were not mentioned in the statement announcing the peacekeeper suspension.

Since April, the U.N. has been seeking access to the town of Moura, where locals told human rights investigators and journalists that the army and Russian mercenaries carried out a massacre over five days.

The mandate for the mission in Mali was renewed during a Security Council meeting on June 29. During renewal talks, Mali’s U.N. representative said the government would not allow the United Nations to carry out investigations of alleged human rights abuses as part of its mandate.

The U.N. mission in Mali has almost 12,000 troops and 1,700 police officers. It is a visible presence in many of Mali’s northern cities, which were taken over by Islamist militants in 2012 and have seen increasing insecurity in recent months following the French army’s withdrawal from the country, according to VoA.

*** *** ***

Egypt Halts Its Mali Troop Rotation.

Egypt has told the United Nations it will temporarily suspend the activities of its contingent in a Mali peacekeeping mission, citing increased attacks on its peacekeepers who escort convoys supplying U.N. bases, Reuters reported July 15.

The attacks have caused the death of seven Egyptian soldiers since the beginning of the year. Egypt has 1,072 troops and 144 police in the U.N. mission in Mali known as MINUSMA.

July 17, 2022 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: More Heroics of the Greatest Generation

WORLD WAR II.

Last Surviving WWII Medal of Honor Recipient Passes.

Hershel W. “Woody” Williams, the last remaining Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, died June 29.

Williams’ passing at age 98 “marks not just the death of a hero, but the end of a line of heroes of the Greatest Generation,” the Defense Department said .

President Harry Truman congratulates Hershel “Woody” Williams at the White House on October 5, 1945 after awarding the Marine the Medal of Honor for his actions during the battle of Iwo Jim in World War II.

Williams landed on Iwo Jima on Feb. 21, 1945, with 1st Battalion, 21st Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division. Two days later, he famously destroyed enemy emplacements with a flamethrower, going forward alone into machine gun fire, covered only by four riflemen, according to Marine Corps Times.

Williams’ Medal of Honor citation can be found here:

He was discharged in 1945, but stayed in the Marine Corps Reserve until his retirement. He continued to serve through his foundation, the Woody Williams Foundation, which honors families who have lost a loved one in service to their country.

“From his actions on Iwo Jima to his lifelong service to our Gold Star Families, Woody has left an indelible mark on the legacy of our Corps,” Commandant of the Marine Corps General David Berger and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy Black, said in a statement, SEAPOWER reported.  “As the last of America’s “greatest generation” to receive the Medal of Honor, we will forever carry with us the memory of his selfless dedication to those who made the ultimate sacrifice to our great nation. The Marine Corps is fortunate to have many heroes, but there is only one Woody Williams. Semper Fidelis, Marine,”

Hershel “Woody” Williams was a guest at a sunset parade at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia on Sept. 2, 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Jason Kolela)

In 2020, the Navy commissioned the expeditionary sea base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams in his honor.

*** *** ***

Last Survivor Of Malmedy Massacre.

Harold Billow, the last known survivor of the infamous Malmedy Massacre during World War II died May 17 at the age of 99, The Associated Press reported.

Harold Billow, last known living survivor of World War II Malmedy Massacre died May 17, 2022. (Photo: The World War II Foundation tweet)

Billow was attached to the Army’s 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion, during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944-January 1945 when German forces launched a last ditch offensive in Belgium to try to stem the war’s tide.

On the second day of the surprise German offensive, December 17, 1944, Billow’s lightly armed unit surrendered after a brief battle and he was taken prisoner by Waffen SS soldiers. According to various accounts, the Germans opened fire on the unarmed prisoners in a field, killing more than 80 in what came to be known as the Malmedy Massacre.

“As soon as the machine gun started firing, I went face down in the snow,” Billow told Lancaster Online in 2019. He played dead as the Germans checked for survivors. Billow said he stayed there for several hours before he and other survivors bolted. He made his way through hedgerows before reaching the safety of American lines.

After the war, he was called to testify at a war crimes trial in which 43 German soldiers were sentenced to death for the Malmedy Massacre. However, they were eventually released after investigators determined U.S. guards had coerced confessions.

Massacred American Soldiers Near Malmédy December 17, 1944. (US Army Center for Military History)

*** *** ***

SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress, or parade, uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York in the photo.

West Point cadets in dress parade uniform. (U.S. Military Academy)

June 30, 2022 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

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