Posts filed under ‘SHAKO’

SHAKO: The King’s Guard

Guarding History, Too

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(Photo by John M. Doyle, copyright 4GWAR Blog)

OSLO, Norway — Members of His Majesty the King’s Guard march to their posts at Oslo’s historic Akershus Fortress Saturday, June 15. Your 4GWAR editor was touring the medieval complex when these troops passed by.

Norway’s King H Håkon V began building Akershus Castle and Fortress in 1299. The medieval castle had a strategic location and withstood a number of sieges throughout the ages. King Christian IV (1588-1648) had the castle modernised and converted into a Renaisssance castle and royal residence.

The complex today contains the castle, the Armed Forces Museum and Norway’s Resistance Museum.  The Resistance Museum chronicles the heroic and harrowing  civilian and military struggle against the five-year Nazi occupation that began when the Germans invaded Norway on on April 9th, 1940.

The King’s Guard dates back to the late 1850s, when the Royal Norwegian Company of Marksmen was established to enhance security around King Oscar I in Stockholm (Sweden). The company was renamed His Majesty The King’s Guard in 1866, and was transferred to Kristiania (now Oslo) toward the end of the union between Sweden and Norway. Since 1888 the King’s Guard has been on duty at the Royal Palace and other Royal residences 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, according to the Royal House of Norway website.

Today the King’s Guard has permanent sentry duty at the Royal Palace, Skaugum Estate, Bygdø Royal Farm when in use, Akershus Fortress and Huseby military camp.

Your 4GWAR Editor is in Norway for the Climate Force Arctic Expedition 2019 to Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean north of Norway — and a hotspot in both military and climate  strategies.  The rapid melting of sea ice in the Arctic and the opening of new sea lanes has raised U.S. Coast Guard concerns about safety, pollution and search and rescue operations. It has also sparked national security, environmental and economic concerns among the nations bordering the Arctic.

Longtime visitors to the blog may recall 4GWAR has been writing about the Arctic for nearly a decade. We’ll be so far north over the next week that internet connection will be weak, if not impossible, so we’ll be out of touch until late June.

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SHAKO-West Point cadetsSHAKO 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.

 

 

June 17, 2019 at 6:15 pm 2 comments

SHAKO: Memorial Day 2019

The North Remembers.

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Cavalry charge figures at the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial between the Capitol and the National Mall in Washington D.C. (Photo by Ad Meskens via Wikipedia, sculpture by Henry Merwin Shrady )

Memorial Day, by federal law, is commemorated annually on the last Monday in May to honor those who gave their lives for their country. The holiday grew out of local ceremonies throughout the North and South after the American Civil War (1861-1865). In many places, the day — traditionally May 30 — was known as Decoration Day for the flowers and flags that locals used to decorate soldiers’ and sailors’ graves.

In past years, 4GWAR postings on Memorial Day have focused on U.S. military cemeteries, the tradition of decorating graves with small American flags at Arlington National Cemetery and remembering the price paid by those we honor on the holiday.

But this year, we note the controversy surrounding Civil War monuments and statues honoring Confederate heroes. To many, they are racist icons created during the Jim Crow er. For others, they are reminders of the “Lost Cause,” and part of an honorable heritage. So we thought we’d look at the monuments and statues — mostly in Northern states — dedicated to those who fought to preserve the Union.

For example, the charging cavalry group pictured above is just part of a massive memorial to Union Army commander and 18th U.S. president, Ulysses S. Grant. In fact, that sculpture group, and another depicting a team of artillery horses hurtling along with a caisson and cannon in tow, are far more dramatic than the centerpiece equestrian statute of old “Unconditional Surrender” Grant.

Even monuments like this, are not without critics, mainly for honoring leaders who mistreated or ignored the mistreatment of blacks and Indians after the Civil War. Nevertheless, cities and towns from Maine to California have dedicated monuments of all shapes and sizes to Union troops and their leaders. Below is a small sampling from around the country.

Many statues and monuments — particularly in Washington, D.C. — are dedicated to generals like Grant,  William Tecumseh Sherman and George Henry Thomas, and admirals like Samuel Francis DuPont and David Glasgow Farragut (see photo below).

Admiral_David_Farragut_Statue

(Photo by David Washington, via Wikipedia)

Admiral Farragut, of “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” fame, stands atop a granite base in a park and city square named for him. The statue was sculpted by female artist Vinnie Ream. This monument to the U.S. Navy’s first admiral, was dedicated in 1881 in an extravagant ceremony attended by President James A. Garfield  and thousands of spectators. It was the first monument erected in Washington, to honor  a naval war hero.

Other outdoor art works are dedicated to local heroes or favorite sons like the monument to Pennsylvania’s George Gordon Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg and later Civil War battles. Paid for by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania when few in Washington favored lionizing Meade — the monument stands on Pennsylvania Avenue, the main route of parades in the nation’s capital.

In Boston, the memorial to young Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, also pays tribute to his 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, one of the first African American army units to fight in the Civil War.   The high relief bronze was created by noted sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and readers may remember it was featured at the end of the 1989 Oscar-winning film Glory.

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(Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial, Photo by Jarek Tuszyński via wikipedia commons)

In Washington, D.C., all of the 200,000 African Americans who served in the Union army and navy are remembered in the African American Civil War Memorial.

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(Spirit of Freedom statue by Ed Hamilton 1997, National Park Service photo)

Elsewhere, a single soldier was enough for memorials like the Kent County Civil War Monument in Grand Rapids, Michigan …

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(Caption)

Or two in front of the DeKalb County courthouse in Sycamore, Illinois …

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(Photo by A. McMurray via wikipedia)

A lone artillery man in Scituate, Rhode Island …

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(Photo by Beth Hurd via Rhode Island USGenWeb Genealogy and History Project)

A member of New York’s “silk stocking” 7th Militia Regiment, formed by many of the city’s socially elite …

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(Photo by Jim.henderson)

Monuments to the Union army aren’t limited to the North. This statue, known as “Taps”, is located in Little Rock National Cemetery in Arkansas. It is dedicated to the 36 soldiers from Minnesota who are buried there.

Minnesota_Monument in Ark

(Photo by Valis55 )

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SHAKO-West Point cadetsSHAKO 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.

May 27, 2019 at 7:46 pm 2 comments

SHAKO:Go For Broke!

April 5 Honors Japanese-American Soldiers

SHAKO 4-4-2019 GO FOR BROKE

The Color Guard of the Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team stands at attention while citations are read following the fierce fighting in the Vosges area of France, November 12, 1944. (U.S. Army photo)

Did you know April 5 is National “Go For Broke” Day? At 4GWAR we didn’t either until recently. The phrase comes from Hawaiian pidgen gambling slang. It means roughly “bet it all” or  “wager — and risk — everything for a potential big payoff.”

The term, popularized by Japanese-American soldiers in World War II, is also the motto  of one of the most decorated units in U.S. military history — the Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In addition to fighting the Germans in Italy and France in the European Theater of Operations — the soldiers of the 442nd RCT had to battle racial animosity in the wake of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Because of the U.S. military was caught completely by surprise, rumors arose that Japanese living in the Hawaiian Islands and the West Coast — most of them citizens — had served as spies and Fifth Columnists for Japan. The Army and FBI found no evidence that Japanese-Americans aided the Pearl Harbor attack. However, a presidential commission created to investigate the disaster noted Japanese “spies” were in Hawaii before the attack, although most were attached to the Japanese consulate in Honolulu, but others had no known connection with the Japanese foreign service. The vagueness of this description led many Americans to conclude there were indeed Fifth Columnists among the Japanese-American population.

Newspaper Japs

(Photo from National Archives and Records Administration)

That prompted the Army — with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s authorization and the acquiescence of Congress and the Supreme Court — to exile all Japanese, both U.S. citizens and legal immigrants, from the the three West Coast states and parts of Arizona to remote inland internment camps under armed guard and harsh living conditions.

Hundreds of young American-born, ethnic Japanese men, known as Nisei, drafted before war broke out, were discharged or segregated in California. A Hawaiian National Guard unit made up of ethnic Japanese was dissolved. Yet, many Nisei wanted to prove they were loyal Americans by fighting for their country. Many older community leaders encouraged them to enlist in the Army as one of the best ways to convince U.S. officials to release the 120,000 Japanese-American men, women and children from the so-called relocation camps.

The 442nd RCT was activated on February 1, 1943, and was composed of Nisei men who had volunteered from Hawaii and internment camps on the mainland. They trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, before deploying to Italy in June 1944, where they joined in combat with the 100th Infantry Battalion — the first Nisei Army unit to be activated in the war — consisting of men from the previously terminated Hawaiian National Guard unit. By mid-August, the 100th officially became part of the 442nd RCT. That’s when “go for broke” became their motto. In 1951, MGM released a motion picture about the 442nd’s combat exploits and battles against racism called “Go For Broke.”

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The 442nd at Anzio Beach 1944. (Photo courtesy of Go For Broke National Education Center)

In their two years of service, the 442nd RCT and the 100th Battalion, before it joined the 442nd, earned: 7 Presidential Unit Citations; 36 Army Commendation Medals and 87 Division Commendations.

Individual soldiers were awarded 18,000 decorations, including: 21 Medals of Honor; 29 Distinguished Service Crosses (the second-highest decoration for bravery); 560 Silver Stars (the third-highest bravery medal) and nearly 9,500 Purple Hearts for wounds in battle. The units lost 650 men, more than 3,700 were wounded in action, and 67 were declared missing in action.

On April 5, 1945, the 442nd RCT’s first Medal of Honor recipient, Private First Class  Sadao Munemori, was killed in action near Seravezza, Italy. That’s why April 5 is deemed “Go for Broke” day.

In December 2011, more than 450 Japanese American soldiers of World War II were honored for their heroic actions in combat and steadfast loyalty in the face of discrimination, the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award for service presented out by the U.S.

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SHAKO-West Point cadets

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.

 

April 5, 2019 at 1:32 am Leave a comment

SHAKO: Women’s History Month 2019, Part III

Women in the Navy.

Here is the third installment of 4GWAR’s tribute to Women’s History Month featuring  photos illustrating the contributions of women in the four armed services. With the exception of one historic first or trailblazer for each service, these pictures focus on women doing their jobs — some dirty, difficult or dangerous — but all essential to keeping the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps ready to defend the United States of America. This week we look at women Sailors.

Recruit Training Command Graduation

(Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Spencer Fling)

Sailors celebrate after graduating from Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois on January 4, 2019. Great Lakes, on the western shore of Lake Michigan north of Chicago, is the Navy’s only recruit training  facility, or boot camp. The workload is heavy and the recruits must adjust to a completely new way of life during the eight-week training program. In addition to classroom instruction, recruits spend time learning the fundamentals of small arms marksmanship, seamanship, water survival, line handling, and fire fighting. Long days and intensive training leave the recruits little free time. While male and female recruits train together they have separate sleeping quarters, known as “ships.”

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(Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ford Williams)

Navy Seaman Aliyah Smith (above) stands watch aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) as the ship transits the Bosporus, the entrance to the Black Sea, on February 19, 2019.

Sailors and Marines aboard USS Ashland (LSD 48) execute CRRC operations

(Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Markus Castaneda)

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Nia Baker supervises Marines preparing to depart the well deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD-48) with combat rubber raiding crafts in the Philippine Sea, January 25, 2019.

U.S. Sailor paints a cowling for an MH-60S Sea Hawk

(Navy photo by Seaman Jarrod Schad)

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Itzel Samaniego paints an engine cover for an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) in the Pacific Ocean on February 16, 2019.

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(Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Justin Whitley)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Brittany McGhee signals an AV-8B Harrier to take off during flight deck operations aboard the USS Boxer (LHD 4), an amphibious assault ship, in the Pacific Ocean on January 15, 2019. Each crewman has a different task on a very busy and noisy flight deck of assault ships and aircraft carriers, depending on the color of their jacket. Yellow jackets are worn by aircraft handling officers (like petty officer McGhee), catapult and arresting gear officers and plane directors.

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(Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Anaid Banuelos Rodriguez)

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Ashley Zappier fires an M240B machine gun aboard the amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD-20) in the Gulf of Thailand, Feb. 17, 2019, during Cobra Gold, a multinational exercise focused on supporting the humanitarian needs of communities in the region.

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(Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryre Arciaga)

Navy Seaman Sierra Hogard adjusts the rotations of the ship’s shaft aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) in the Mediterranean Sea on January 2, 2019.

WOMEN NAVY ID8

(Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Chandler Harrell)

Navy Hospial Corpsman 2nd Class Victoria Robinson performs a dental examination on Seaman Tyler D’Angelo aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) in the Indian Ocean on January 21, 2019.

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(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raymond Maddocks)

Honoring a Trailblazer: Naval aviators participating in a flyover to honor the life and legacy of retired Navy Captain Rosemary Mariner pose for a photo at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia on February 2, 2019. It was the first ever all-female flyover as part of the funeral service for Mariner, a female Naval aviation pioneer. She was one of the Navy’s first female pilots, the first to fly a tactical (jet attack) aircraft and the first woman to command a naval aviation squadron. Captain Mariner was a leader of the organization Women Military Aviators. In 1992, she worked with members of Congress and a Defense Department advisory board to overturn laws and regulations keeping women from combat.

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Enter a caption

U.S. Pacific Fleet Band musicians, male and female, perform during a celebration at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii on February 27, 2019. Navy Musicians attend the Armed Forces School of Music, located in Little Creek, Virginia, for 21 weeks. The active duty Musician rating requires a 48 month (4 year) minimum enlistment contract.

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SHAKO-West Point cadetsSHAKO 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.

March 24, 2019 at 5:18 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Women’s History Month 2019, Part II

Women in the Marine Corps.

Here is the second installment of 4GWAR’s tribute to Women’s History Month featuring  photos illustrating the contributions of women in the four armed services. With the exception of one historic first or trailblazer for each service, these pictures focus on women doing their jobs — some difficult or dangerous — but all essential to keeping the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps ready to defend the United States of America. This week we look at women Marines.

MCRD Band conduct basic warrior training

(Photo by Warrant Officer Bobby Yarbrough)

Even members of the band stationed at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina — male and female — had to undergo basic warrior training in January 2019. The military musicians  were required to refamiliarize themselves with basic military skills — including crawling through the mud — “to develop the leadership mindset of the unit’s noncommissioned officers.”

WOMEN Marine ID2

(Marine Corps photo Lance Corporal Terry Wong)

Marine Corps Sergeant Marrissa Ladwig puts into practice the rappelling techniques she learned at the Jungle Warfare Training Center at Camp Gonsalves in Okinawa, Japan on January 29, 2019.

14th Marines Participate in Exercise Dynamic Front 19

(Photo by Marine Corps Corporal Niles Lee)

Corporal April Flores serves a hot meal at the Adazi Training Area, Latvia on February 28, 2019, during Dynamic Front, an annual multinational exercise. As a rising Russia grows more aggressive with its western neighbors, the Marines have been training with partner nations in the Baltics, the Balkans and Central Europe to show American support for NATO allies and friendly nations.

November Company becomes first company to graduate in new female dress blues

(Photo by Staff Sergeant Tyler Hlavac)

Sergeant Cristal Abregomedina, a warehouse clerk with Headquarters and Service Battalion, examines the new blue dress uniforms of Marines from November Company of the  4th Recruit Training Battalion last year at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina.

The female Marines of November company became the first company of recruits to graduate wearing the new female dress blues, which resembles the male uniform with a mandarin collar rather than the old style that features a neck tab over a white blouse.

Marine Corps upgrades GCSS-MC, reduces time from data to decision

(Photo by Lance Corporal A. J. Van Fredenberg)

Lance Corporal Sierra Walker, a supply specialist with 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, tests the upgrade to the Global Combat Support System-Marine Corps in October 2018 before its official launch. More than 23,000 logistics and maintenance Marines rely on Global Combat Support System-Marine Corps, or GCSS-MC, to conduct their daily supply and maintenance operations worldwide.  The upgrade, GCSS-MC Release 12,  was needed to strengthen the Corps’ cybersecurity posture, making logistics more efficient while  protecting  Marine Corps supply and maintenance information.

31st MEU ARP sharpen pistol marksmanship skills at sea

(Photo by Lance Corporal Hannah Hall)

1st Lieutenant Samantha Rosales, a logistics planner with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), fires an M1911 .45-caliber pistol during marksmanship training aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) while underway in the East China Sea on September 21, 2018.  The 31st MEU, the Marine Corps’ only continuously forward-deployed expeditionary unit, is a flexible force ready to perform a wide-range of military operations in the Indo-Pacific region.

Minds behind the flight: MAG-13 mechanics support Northern Lightning

(Photo by Sergeant David Bickel)

Lance Corporal Savannah Nickell, an airframes mechanic with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122, performs routine maintenance on an F-35 Lightning II during Exercise Northern Lightning 2018 at Volk Field Counterland Training Center, located at Camp Douglas, Wisconsin. Exercise Northern Lightning 2018 strengthens interoperability between services, particularly aviation capabilities within a joint fighting force.

Alpha and Oscar Co. Grass Week

(Photo by Sergeant Dana Beesley)

Staff Sergeant Estefania Patino corrects the rifle combat optic of a recruit’s weapon in this June 6, 2018 photo at Parris Island, South Carolina. She wears the green jacket of a Primary Marksmanship Instructor, which means her job is making riflemen out of recruits. Before she joined the Marines, Patino had never fired a weapon. Now she is a graduate of the Marines’ Combat Marksmanship Coach course and a former Drill Instructor.

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(Still photo captured from a Marine Corps video by Corporal Shannon Doherty)

Trailblazer: Sergeant Tara-Lyn Baker traverses the snowy terrain at the Marines’ Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California. She is the first female Marine to graduate from the arduous Mountain Leader Course. A heavy equipment mechanic, Baker successfully completed the nearly six-week program, which sharpens Marines’ skills in cold weather survival, skiing, snow mobility and mountain warfare.

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(Photo by  Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Parker)

Female Marines don’t just maintain aircraft, they also make up flight crews. Here Captain Brenda Amor helps to prepare an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter for flight operations on the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock ship, USS Arlington, in the Mediterranean Sea on January 30, 2019.

Our next Women’s History Month 2019 posting, Part III will appear Sunday, March 24.

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West Point cadetsSHAKO 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.

 

 

 

March 18, 2019 at 1:51 am Leave a comment

SHAKO: Women’s History Month 2019, Part I

Women in the Air Force.

Today and for the next three Sundays in March, 4GWAR will feature photo essays illustrating the contributions of women in the four armed services. For the most part the pictures do not recall historic firsts or heroines of the past. Instead, they focus on women doing their jobs — some difficult or dangerous — but all essential to keeping the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps ready to defend the United States of America. This week we look at the Air Force.

Displaying the Colors

(Photo by Army Specialist Dana Clarke)

There’s more to the U.S. Air Force than airplanes, helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft. It’s also people, missions and traditions. Here’s one example: an airman first class, participating in a multi-service honor guard, carries the Air Force flag during a Presidents’ Day wreath-laying ceremony at Mount Vernon in Virginia on February 19, 2019.

WOMEN AIR FORCE ID

(Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Darnell T. Cannady)

The missions can be big or small. Most Air Force vehicles — whether they fly in the sky or travel on the ground — need wheels to get around when they are earthbound. Here see Airman 1st Class Sarah Derringer (left) and Airman 1st Class Mia Duran work on a vehicle wheel at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates on February 11, 2019.

56th Fighter Wing Quarterly Load Crew Competition

(Air Force photo by Senior Airman Caleb Worpel)

Airman Amanda Knutson prepares an inert bomb for loading onto an F-35A Lightning II the newest, Fifth Generation multi-role jet fighter at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona on January 10, 2019.

Airmen de-arm F-16 during base readiness exercise

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye)

The original Air Force caption for this photo was all about the pilot, his squadron, the 52nd Fighter Wing and their base at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany during a base-wide readiness exercise in  September 2018. But as one can see in this photo, the ground crew that keeps this F-16 Fighting Falcon flying is made up of female airmen.

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(Air Force photo by Major Ray Geoffroy)

Now here’s another F-16 pilot, Captain Michelle “Mace” Curran, a member of the Thunderbirds, the Air Force flight demonstration team. Only the fourth female pilot in the aerobatic team’s history, she’s seen here preparing for the final training sorties of 2018 at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Staff Sergeant Bernadette Kroondyk, whose name appears just below the cockpit, is an avionics systems technician whose duties include inspecting, removing, installing and checking out aviation electronic systems on the Thunderbirds’ F-16s.

Enduring Promise

(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Gregory Brook)

Captain Susan Jennie is a pilot on  much bigger plane, the C-17 Globemaster III.  She was part of a team that delivered humanitarian aid, intended for economically wracked Venezuela to South America. Three C-17s flew from Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida, to Cucuta, Colombia in February. Tons of aid was airlifted to the Colombian town on the Venezuelan border as part of an effort to help the Venezuelan people during their humanitarian and political crisis.

386th ESFS demonstrates K-9 capability at MWD Expo

(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Robert Cloys)

Air Force Staff Sergeant Samantha Gassner stands with Lloren, a patrol and explosive detector dog, during a military working dog expo at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, on December 27, 2018. Most of the U.S. military dogs used for security patrolling and drug and explosives detection are trained at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

MTIs Molding BMT Flights

(U.S. Air Force photo by Sarayuth Pinthong)

The photo above shows Air Force Staff Sergeant Brooke Held, 324th Training Squadron instructor, and her basic training flight practicing for a graduation parade ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio, December 12, 2018. The Air Force Military Training Instructor plays a role similar to drill instructors in the Army and Marine Corps. Like their male counterparts, female MTIs wear a distinctive wide-brimmed hat. Joint Base San Antonio includes the Army’s Fort Sam Houston and Lackland and Randolph Air Force bases. Lackland is also the basic training base for Air Force recruits.

Celebration of the life and legacy of Maj. Gen. Marcelite Harris

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Rusty Frank)

One trailblazer we’d like to mention in this post is Major General Marcelite J. Harris, who passed away last fall. At her retirement in 1997, General Harris was the highest ranking female officer in the Air Force and the highest-ranking African American woman in the entire Defense Department.

Her other accomplishments included being the first woman aircraft maintenance officer, one of the first two women air officers commanding at the U.S. Air Force Academy and the first woman deputy commander for maintenance. She also served as a White House aide during the Carter administration.

The photo above shows General Harris’ son, Lieutenant Colonel Steven Harris, kneeling at his mother’s gravesite after her funeral with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on February 7, 2019.

BDS strengthens airfield security capabilities

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt)

This last photo shows airmen preparing to exit an HC-130J Combat King II — a specialized transport aircraft — during airfield security training at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia on January 28, 2019. The  HC-130J is the Air Force’s only fixed-wing aircraft dedicated to recovering personnel in difficult circumstances and it’s flown by Air Combat Command. This C-130J variation specializes in avoiding detection in tactical operations and recovery operations in austere environments.

We will be posting similar looks at women in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. Look for them on the next three Sundays in March, Women’s History Month.

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.west point cadets.pdfSHAKO 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.

 

March 14, 2019 at 8:46 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Buffalo Soldiers UPDATE

Remembering the Buffalo Soldiers.

Buffalo Soldiers-2 10th Cav

The Buffalo Soldiers from A Company, 10th U.S. Cavalry regroup to move out after battle. Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson (center) issues orders to Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper (left), the first black graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, to keep the Chiricahua Apache renegade Victorio bottled up near the Rio Grande. (Photo courtesy http://www.donstivers.com via U.S. Corps of Army Engineers, Southwest Division)

UPDATES and CORRECTS: To add material about Buffalo Soldiers serving as early park rangers, include a photo of Buffalo Soldiers in World War II and to CORRECT that Buffalo Soldier units did not fight in World War I and only the 24th and 25th Infantry regiments still existed in World War II.–the Editor

As February and Black History month draws to a close, here at 4GWAR we’ve been wracking our brains trying to decide how best to honor the month and the people it celebrates. Should we focus on individuals like Medal of Honor recipient Sergeant Henry Johnson, or Dorie Miller, the first African American awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism at Pearl Harbor? Or should we examine a unit like the Tuskegee Airmen of the Second Word War or the Harlem Hellfighters of World War I?

In doing our research we came across four all-black units, the 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments and the 24th and 25th Infantry regiments, in the segregated Army of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Collectively, they were known as the “Buffalo Soldiers.” Created right after the Civil War, these four regiments at times battled or protected Native Americans on the plains, deserts and mountains of the American West. They charged up San Juan Hill in 1898. Five members of the 10th Cavalry were awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery above and beyond the call of duty in Cuba.  and fought insurgents in the Philippines in the early 20th Century after the United States annexed the islands in 1899. They also chased Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa with General John “Black Jack” Pershing in the 1916-1917 Mexican Punitive Expedition.

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Buffalo soldiers of the 25th Infantry, some wearing buffalo robes, at Fort Keogh, Montana. (Library of Congress)

None of the regiments served as units in France during World War I, although some veteran non-commissioned officers were dispatched to other segregated units that served on the Western Front. The two cavalry regiments were disbanded in World War II but the 24th Infantry and 25th Infantry, both served in the Pacific. In 1948, President Harry Truman issued an executive order eliminating racial segregation and discrimination in America’s armed forces; the last all-black units were disbanded during the early 1950s.

Between 1891 and 1913, Buffalo Soldiers served during the summer months in Sequoia and Yosemite national parks, in effect as the nation’s first park rangers, introducing the broad brimmed campaign hat that is now part of the standard park ranger uniform, according to historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr.   Their duties in the parks included fighting wildfire, curbing poaching of the park’s wildlife, ending illegal grazing of livestock on federal lands, and constructing roads, trail and other infrastructure, according to the National Park Service.

Buffalo soldiers WWII

Troops of the 24th Infantry, attached to the Americal Division, wait to advance behind a tank assault on the Japanese, along Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville in 1944. (U.S. Army archive photo) 

An 1866 Act of Congress created six peacetime regiments of exclusively black soldiers. Later, these regiments were melded into four—two infantry and two cavalry—colloquially referred to as the Buffalo Soldiers. There are a few competing theories as to how they got this name, but as the National Museum of African American History and Culture notes, the soldiers “considered the name high praise.”) Throughout their history, the soldiers had a rocky relationship with the American government they served.

The regiments faced extreme and sometimes deadly racism. Especially in some towns near where they were based. Buffalo Soldiers were attacked during racial disturbances in Texas at Rio Grande City in 1899, Brownsville in 1906, and Houston in 1917. The regiments were first commanded only by whites, and the rank and file often faced extreme racial prejudice from the Army establishment, according to the museum. “Many officers, including George Armstrong Custer, refused to command black regiments, even though it cost them promotions in rank.

One who did, was Colonel Benjamin Grierson, a music teacher-turned Civil War cavalry officer (the 1959 John Wayne movie “The Horse Soldiers,” was based loosely on the long- range cavalry raid into Mississippi he led in 1863). Grierson organized the 10th Cavalry in 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Another officer was then-Lieutenant John J. Pershing who took command of a troop of the 10th Cavalry in 1895.  His nickname of “Black Jack,” stems from his service with the 10th Cavalry, although “Black” was a euphemism for the “N” word, which resentful white officers and West Point cadets attached to Pershing’s name. Tenth Cavalry troops were with Pershing’s expedition into Mexico to capture or kill Pancho Villa.  They participated in one of the last cavalry battles fought by U.S. troops at  Carrizal.

SHAKO

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.

February 28, 2019 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

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