Medal of Honor Recipient Honored by Governor of CT

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Homer L Wise war hero extraordinaire was honored by Governor M.Jodi Rell of Connecticut at the induction ceremony of the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame held at the Atrium of the State Legislative Office Building in Hartford, CT on November 17, 2009.

Each inductee or their representative was accompanied by a member of military as they were introduce to audience. James Vlasto, project director of the Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee represented the family of Homer Wise. Sgt. Wise was nominated by Tony Pavia, principal of New Canaan High School and author of "American Town Goes to War." stories about Stamford veterans who served during World War II.

Remember our veterans and remember Homer Wise by making a donation. You can do so by clicking on the donate button on our website or by check payable to the Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee, Inc and send to Jean Rinaldi. 21 Fairmont Avenue, Stamford, CT 06906

Tony Pavia Joins in Honoring Homer Wise at Hartford Ceremony

Sunday, November 29, 2009

New Canaan High School Principal Tony Pavia and the author of An American Town Goes to War, a collection of stories of Stamford men who served in World War II. Mr. Pavia, who nominated Homer Wise to the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame, holds the medal presented by Governor Rell of Connecticut at the induction ceremony held in Hartford, CT on November 17th.

Homer Wise Honored by Governor Rell of Connecticut

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Brig. Gen. Steven Scorzato, left, Assistant Adjutant General of the Connecticut Army National Guard, holds the certificate presented by Gov. M. Jodi Rell to James Vlasto, Project Director of the Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee, Inc. on behalf of World War II hero and Medal of Honor recipient Homer Wise, as Linda Schwartz, state commissioner of veterans affairs looks on. (Henry Eschricht/contributed photo Stamford Advocate, November 18, 2009)
Stamford World War II hero named to state Veterans Hall of Fame
By Jeff Morganteen
Staff Writer - The Stamford Advocate
STAMFORD -- When speaking about Homer Lee Wise, friends and relatives usually rely on one word to describe the decorated World War II soldier -- humble.

"He was an ordinary person and he was my uncle," Jean Rinaldi, 66, said Tuesday. "I didn't think of him like a hero or anything."

The U.S. government, however, did think of Wise as a hero, and awarded him the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions during a battle against German infantry in Magliano, Italy. It also awarded him a myriad of other medals, including a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart.

By age 27, he was one of the most decorated World War II infantrymen. In Hartford Tuesday, Wise was also among 11 state residents named to the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame.
He was one of two Stamford residents to win the Medal of Honor. John Latham won the honor in World War I.

The city named two parks after both war heroes, and Tony Pavia, author of "An American Town Goes to War," a book about Stamford and its World War II veterans, used to visit Homer Lee Wise Memorial Park at Bedford and Chester streets for history tours with Stamford High School students.

Pavia along with James Vlasto, a Greenwich resident who is trying to raise money to build a statue of Wise, helped nominate Wise for the state's Veterans Hall of Fame. Wise was also named to the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame earlier this month because his hometown was Baton Rouge.

"It's more than just a Medal of Honor," Pavia said of choosing to nominate Wise. "The Medal of Honor alone would have entitled him this. When you look at the total picture, it's more compelling. He became an adoptive son of Stamford."

Vlasto said it's his goal to make sure Stamford residents remember Wise as one of the greatest soldiers in World War II. During his life in Stamford, the war hero remained quiet and tried to deflect questions about his medal with jokes; wise's own son didn't know his father won the Medal of Honor until a classmate told him, Vlasto said.

"The unfortunate part of this story is when he died in 1974, very few people knew who Homer Wise was," Vlasto said. "They named a little park after him on Bedford Street but didn't say anything about him."

That's why Vlasto is trying to raise close to $80,000 to construct a statue of Wise.

Rinaldi said it was only after her uncle's death that she realized the magnitude of his military honors. She never thought of him like an action-hero, but what he did in Magliano, Italy, went beyond what a Hollywood script could offer.

It was June 1944 and Wise's platoon was pinned down by gunfire from German soldiers. Wise left his cover, ran past German bullets, and with three other men carried a wounded soldier to safety.

Then three German soldiers -- an officer and two enlisted men -- appeared to the right of his platoon. Wise, then a staff sergeant, killed the German soldiers with a submachine gun. He then picked up a rifle and began firing at German positions, holding up their advance. He swapped his weapon for an automatic rifle and, leading his men, took out an enemy machine-gunner.

When German gunfire became more intense, he ran up to a nearby tank, unjammed its machine gun, and let loose on enemy soldiers. The German gunfire subsided thanks to Wise and his skill with the machine-gun, and his platoon took the hill that was their objective.

Then Wise came home to Stamford, worked odd jobs and worked as a waiter to help put his son through college.

"If you live through it, it's just amazing that you lived through it," Rinaldi said. "I don't think people brag about that kind of stuff."

Staff Writer Jeff Morganteen can be reached at or 203-964-2215.

WW II Museum in Abbeville Honors Homer L. Wise

Monday, November 16, 2009

The World War II Museum opened in Abbeville, Louisiana, November 15 with the inauguration of the first four inductees in the Hall of Fame, Stephen Bennett is represented by Angela Engle daughter, daughter; Jefferson DeBlanc is represented by Barbara Romero, daughter, Homer L. Wise is represented by James Vlasto and Howard Gilmore is represented by Louis LeBlanc, III.

Published on on November 16th, 2009.

Military museum moves ahead

Friday, November 13, 2009

ABBEVILLE — A dream will become reality Sunday when the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame and Museum holds its first induction ceremony and opens Phase 1.

This year's first Hall of Fame class will include Medal-of-Honor recipients Col. Jefferson DeBlanc (Marine Corps) of St. Martinville, Capt. Steven L. Bennett (Air Force), Cmdr. Howard Walter Gilmore (Navy) and Master Sgt. Homer L. Wise (U.S. Army).

Louisiana has had 11 Medal of Honor winners, all deceased. Others will be inducted in later ceremonies, likely on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

The museum, located at 911 Revis Simon Loop on the grounds of the Chris Crusta Airport in Abbeville, honors the service of every Louisiana military veteran.

Bruce Brown • • November 13, 2009

The Daily Advertiser

Louisiana Military Hall of Fame to open next Sunday in Abbeville

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Four will be inducted

An Army helicopter will be on display in the museum in Abbeville.

By Justin Martin

Incorporated in 1991, the original goal of the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame and Museum in Abbeville was to build a museum to honor those veterans from the State of Louisiana.

This coming Sunday, the first giant step toward that goal will be realized as Phase 1 of the project will open to the public. Visitors will be able to peruse the many exhibits within the museum as well as observe F-15 flyovers, parachuters and bands of all kinds.

The highlight of the day will be the inaugural induction into the Hall of Fame. Four Medal of Honor recipients from around Louisiana will be honored posthumously by becoming the very first inductees into the hall at a solemn ceremony at 2 p.m. The seven living Louisiana Medal of Honor recipients will be inducted in the future.

Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne will speak at the event Sunday, which will open the 15th such museum in Louisiana. The event will be free and open to the public; events are slated from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Chris Crusta Airport.“Festivities making the opening of the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame and Museum in Abbeville will have significance far beyond the event,” Dardenne said. “We will pay rich tribute to our Louisiana heroes, who risked or lost their lives for others.

Organizers say about 400 family members, friends and guests of inductees will attend from all over the United States.Next Sunday’s inductees will be Capt. Steven Logan Bennett of Lafayette, Col. Jefferson J. DeBlanc of St. Martinville, Cdr. Howard W. Gilmore of New Orleans and M/Sgt. Sgt. Homer L. Wise of Baton Rouge.

Bennett was 26 when killed in 1972 during the Vietnam War, leaving behind his wife and young daughter. A captain in the 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron, Pacific Air Forces, USAF, he had received an aerospace engineering degree and served in the ROTC at ULL. Entering the Air Force in 1968, he earned his pilot wings and completed B-52 bomber, and fighter, training. In April, 1972, he reported to Da Nang, Vietnam, and in June was killed at Quang Tri.

Without artillery or tactical air support, he piloted his aircraft to strafe hostile positions. After four passes, the enemy began retreating; on the fifth, his aircraft was struck and caught on fire. Knowing that the parachute of his co-pilot, Mike Brown, had been shredded, he opted to ditch the plane into the Gulf of Tonkin, knowing that a pilot in this type of aircraft had never survived that type of landing. Brown survived and was rescued. A resident of Dallas, he plans to attend, along with a number of Bennett’s family, including his daughter.

DeBlanc, a graduate of ULL, where he joined the Civilian Pilot training program and learned to fly Piper Cubs, he entered the Naval Aviation Cadet Program, and in 1942, was sent to the Pacific. At age 21, DeBlanc, was a fighter pilot with the U.S. Marine Corps when he shot down five Japanese warplanes in the Battle of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on Nov. 12, 1942. Even knowing fuel was low, he refused to turn back and was forced to bail out over shark-infested waters. After swimming all night to reach an island, he subsisted three days on coconuts. He was discovered by a tribe of indigenous natives who traded him to another tribe for a sack of rice. Aided by the second tribe and an Anglican missionary, he managed to get back to Henderson Field.

After the war, he earned four degrees, including a doctorate in education from McNeese State University. He taught math and science in St. Martinville schools and retired from the Marine Air Reserve in 1972. He died at 86 in November, 2007, in Lafayette. His many family members and friends plan to attend the event.

Cdr. Howard Walter Gilmore of New Orleans became the first U.S. submariner to receive the Medal in WWII, awarded posthumously. He gave his life in a selfless act of heroism that has become an inspiring legend of the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Force. The expression “Take Her Down” was uttered by Gilmore, wounded, as he stood on deck of the USS Growler, under attack in Bismarck Archipelago near New Guinea. He gave the order, knowing that he would not be able to make it before submersion. His crew and submarine made it safely back to port.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, in 1926, he commanded the USS Shark, narrowly surviving an assault by a group of thugs in Panama, who cut his throat in an excursion ashore. In 1942 he took command of the USS Growler, fourth boat of the 81-ship Gatos class and sailed her to the Pacific Theater, where she engaged in three prior missions vital to the nation’s defense. Event planners are still seeking Cdr Gilmore’s friends and relatives.

M/Sgt. Homer L. Wise, U.S. Army, of Baton Rouge was one of the most decorated infantrymen in WWII. He enlisted at age 24 in 1941 and entered combat in 1943. By age 27 he had received the Medal of Honor; within one year he received 11 other medals.

In Magliano, Italy, in the summer of 1944, he was squad leader of Company L, 142nd infantry regiment, when well-trained, experienced German soldiers offered intense resistance. The day being hot, artillery fire set dry grass ablaze. Sgt. Wise and three others went into the fire-swept area to bring a wounded buddy to safety, while combating Germans. Wise later fired a rifle grenade launcher upon enemy positions causing them to flee, and boldly climbed on a tank, remedied a stoppage in the turret machine gun and fired into the enemy’s positions, allowing the battalion to continue.

In 1958 Wise was one of six honorary pallbearers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He was a guest of the President at the inaugurations of Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Johnson. Wise was one of the most-decorated infantrymen of WWII. He performed heroically in civilian life also, and died in Connecticut at age 57. The Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee, Inc. and family members will attend the event to honor M/Sgt. Wise.

Dance bands, food concessionaires, military static displays and flyovers are on the agenda. The Louisiana National Guard Band will perform the national anthem and “God Bless America.”
Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, as the crowd is expected to be large.

The museum’s first phase features exhibits, placing emphasis on the memorial Hall of Fame area. Oral histories now being collected will be incorporated into each exhibit, and visitors will be able to hear the veterans’ stories in their own words. When completed, the museum will include all branches, all wars. Every veteran in Louisiana from as far back as possible will be recognized in a database format. Many veterans and/or their families have donated artifacts to the museum.

The museum will be open to the public that day.

Posted on (Abbeville Meridonial)

Great story of individual heroism came to light

Friday, November 6, 2009

(Click on photo to enlarge)

We continue to research the military career of Master Sergeant Homer Wise.

"One of the great stories of individual heroism came to light." Stars and Stripes, December 7, 1944

Stars and Stripes was a daily newspaper available to soldiers fighting in Europe, the Pacific, Italy and other areas.

Homer Wise to Be Honored in Louisiana

Friday, September 18, 2009

Below is a news report published yesterday about the dedication and induction ceremony for the new Louisiana Military Hall of Fame and Museum in Abbeville, Louisiana. Homer Wise was born in Louisiana and settled in Stamford in 1945.

The Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee was contacted earlier this year by museum officials and we are working with them and will be represented at the ceremony on November 15.

September 14, 2009 St. Martinville, Louisiana

Military Hall of Fame plans take shape

Bruce Brown

ST. MARTINVILLE — Barbara DeBlanc Romero has no doubt what her father, Medal of Honor recipient Jefferson DeBlanc, would think about his upcoming inclusion in the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame and Museum,

"He'd be so proud and happy, for himself and for all the veterans," Romero said. "I can just see Dad smiling."

Romero, her brother, Frank DeBlanc, and his wife, Margaret, were briefed recently about induction ceremonies planned for Nov. 15 at the Chris Crusta Airport in Abbeville.

"You're going to be proud of this building," Johnny Raymond, vice president of the museum board and events chairman, told the family. "You'll be pleased to have your daddy be a part."

Jefferson DeBlanc (Marine Corps), Homer L. Wise (U.S. Army), Howard Gilmore (Navy) and Steven Bennett (Air Force) will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Nov. 15 in phase one of the museum project.

Louisiana has had 11 Medal of Honor winners, all deceased. Others will be inducted in later ceremonies, likely on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

"Phase one will have a 30- by 30-foot octagon shape, with walls 10 feet high," Executive Director Paula Finley said. "The Hall of Fame will be inside those walls.

"There will be oral histories and promotions for phase two. Inside that will be a 15- by 15-foot theater, seating 20 to 25, for films that will be edited to eight to 15 minutes for presentations."
The Nov. 15 program, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., will be part of a day-long festival at the site of the museum on the airport grounds.

Also at the meeting last Wednesday, architect Randy Rivera of Lafayette presented his vision of the permanent phase two hall of fame and museum.

"It's always important to us to consider location, context and content," Rivera said. "We look for stories and how to tell those stories."

Rivera said the spark for his swooping, futuristic design was the vapor trail left by airplanes taking off from aircraft carriers. He described the design as "a runway, like a Band-Aid going up and over to form the roof for the museum."

Hall of Fame members will be memorialized in 5- by 10-foot glass monuments in an outdoor reflecting pool, with their likenesses and information etched in silver.

"This is beautiful," Romero said when shown the dramatic design. "I can't believe this."
Once ground is broken on the museum, Rivera estimates it will take 24 months to complete construction.

"We got the money allocated for the project in 2006," Finley said. "Sen. Nick Gautreaux got the bill passed. Then, in this last legislative session, Sen. Mike Michot was able to get us an additional $150,000."

Once phase one is complete, the secretary of state's office will cover up to $100,000 for operation of the museum. The state Legislature has granted a total of $350,000.

"It's all going at an exceedingly rapid pace," Finley said. "Once we're open, we can apply for federal grants and foundation grants. So, it will accelerate after Nov. 15. We're hopeful, if we can get private and legislative support, to start phase two by 2010.

"We want to honor every veteran from Lousiana as far back as we can go."

Jefferson DeBlanc would like that.

Oklahoma City: Oklahoma can do it so can Stamford

Broken Arrow War Hero Honored With Statue

Enlarge this picture

Childers threw rocks at the German machine gun position. The soldiers fled, presumably thinking the rocks were hand grenades.

Enlarge this picture

Childers was born in Broken Arrow on a farm that was part of his father's Creek tribal allotment.

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A Broken Arrow native who took out a German machine gun position while himself injured will be honored with the dedication of a statue Friday, September 25.
The late Lt. Col. Ernest Childers, Native American and 45 Infantry Division veteran who received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Italy during World War II, will be honored with the dedication of a statue on September 25 at the 45th Infantry Division Museum in Oklahoma City. The dedication will take place at 10 a.m. in front of the Museum, 2145 N.E. 36th St.

Childers was born in Broken Arrow on Feb. 1, 1918, and was raised on a farm that was part of his father's original Creek tribal allotment. He was the middle of five children all of whom his mother raised after Childers' father died.

In 1937, after graduating from the Chilocco Indian School, Childers enlisted in the Oklahoma Army National Guard and was mobilized with the 45th Infantry Division for service in Europe during World War II.

Childers, who held the rank of First Sergeant, distinguished himself during combat operations in Sicily and received a battlefield commission to the rank of Second Lieutenant.

On Sept. 22, 1943, Childers organized a group of eight soldiers to help clear a route for the Division's advance. In the pre-dawn mist, Childers came under fire and fell into a shell crater and broke his ankle. Childers tried to crawl to an aide station, but it was destroyed by enemy fire before he made it.

"I crawled back and told my men to lay down a base of fire over me," he told an interviewer. "You see, I had to crawl because of my broken ankle. I was crawling up a slope of a hill. I came up behind one of the German machine gun nests that had us pinned down."

As the Germans were turning their machine guns toward Childers, he was quicker and shot them dead. From the first German position, Childers could see a second position within throwing distance.

He picked up several rocks and threw them into the second German position.

"I assume they thought it was a hand grenade, because nobody throws rocks," he said.

Then the Germans scrambled out of the hole, Childers shot one of them and another U.S. soldier killed the other. After securing the German machine gun positions, Childers single-handedly captured an enemy mortar observer at a house further up the hill.

As he moved up the hill, Childers trained his M1 Carbine on a German soldier that was walking toward him. Childers could not shoot the enemy soldier because he was out of ammunition.

"My body was wet with sweat since the German was fully armed, and I was holding an empty rifle on him. That German was the only surviving German in the entire action of that day," said Childers.

On April 13, 1944, after arriving at Devers' headquarters, Childers learned that he had been selected as a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on Sept. 22, 1943. The Medal of Honor was presented to Childers that afternoon.

The statue of Childers, which will stand in front of the 45th Infantry Division Museum, was commissioned by the Muskogee (Creek) Nation and created by Oklahoma artist Sandra Van Zandt. In 2008, Van Zandt created another statue of Childers which stands at the entryway of the Veterans Administration Building in Tulsa.

Letter to the Editor Stamford Advocate

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Liberty Tree Memorial

To the editor:

The Liberty Tree Memorial planting and plaque dedication at Fort Stamford on July 4 was a very successful event. For me, it was a wonderful experience and the weather could not have been better. I would like to thank all those who attended for their support and contributions. Without all of you, the event would not have been a success.

I would like to personally thank Mayor Dannel Malloy, his cabinet, constituents and all the residents of Stamford. Without their support this event could not have taken place.

In addition, I would like to send out a very special thank you to the following for their support and participation. Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele; Attorney General Richard Blumenthal; city Director of Operations Benjamin Barnes; the Stamford Fire Department with Chief Robert McGrath and the firefighters who participated with their ladder truck and American flag assembly; the Stamford Police Department and officers who attended; state Reps. Gerald Fox III, William Tong and Patricia Miller; Stamford Administrative Services Bureau Chief Michael Docimo; Parks Department personnel; Monsignor John Squiller from Saint Basil's College; Veterans of Foreign Wars Springdale Post 9617; American Legion Post 3; The Sea Cadets; Cub Scouts Pack 28 Roxbury School; Springdale Florists; Homer Lee Wise Memorial Committee, Mr. James Vlasto; European Deli, Mrs. Zofia Brice; Frankie's Hot Dog Truck, Mr. Frank Moretti; the audio system from Mr. John Nestor; Mr. Tony Panaro; Mr. Dino Milioti; Mr. Emilio Funicella; Mr. Tony Uva; Mr. Carmine Vaccaro.

I would also like to thank my family for their patience, support and participation.

Ron Markey

The writer is the city's assistant tree warden.

Medal of Honor memorial to be built this fall - The Daily of the University of Washington

Friday, August 7, 2009

UW alumnus John “Bud” Hawk earned a Medal of Honor for his actions near Chambois, France, on Aug. 20, 1944, during the Normandy campaign, which led to the surrender of more than 500 German soldiers, and is one of seven UW alumni that have been identified as Medal of Honor recipients.

Photo by Courtesy Photo.

A digital rendering of the proposed Medal of Honor memorial on the UW campus.

This fall the UW — holding the highest number of Medal of Honor recipients in the United States, excluding military service academies — plans on commemorating Hawk and the six other UW alumni Medal of Honor recipients by building a memorial in the traffic circle on the south end of Memorial Way, near the flag pole.

While the Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the U.S. government, recipients, such as Hawk, deflect the recognition away from their individual accomplishments.

“I was only one of 16 [million] to 18 million people serving [in World War II]. You do the best you can for the people around you, and they will do the best they can for you,” Hawk said.

He also said that he never did anything more than the people he served with.

When asked about his accomplishments, Hawk spoke ambiguously about his actions and redirected the conversation to focus on service and the selfless actions performed by many of his comrades.

Hawk’s humility is perhaps one of the core characteristics that will be featured in the UW memorial; indeed, the design will feature a five-pointed star and five words that embody the characteristics of a Medal of Honor recipient. University officials are working with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation to determine which words will be selected for the completed design.

The memorial was originally projected at $110,000, but the actual costs were increased to $150,000.

“We wanted to use top quality work and materials for this memorial,” said George Zeno, executive director of scholarships and student programs. The memorial is completely funded through private donations.

The public dedication is expected to draw high-profile dignitaries including past Medal of Honor recipients, veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam Wars, UW veterans of the current Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Gov. Chris Gregoire, senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, congressional representatives and key financial donors to the project.

NBC news anchor, Brian Williams, has been asked to emcee the public dedication.

Zeno, who has worked extensively on the Medal of Honor project, emphasized that, despite the deserved attention this project is anticipated to receive, many of the Medal of Honor recipients want the memorial to recognize service, not individual achievements.

“A number of [Medal of Honor recipients] will tell you … they never asked to be a hero,” Zeno said. “And humility is one of the biggest characteristics of a recipient. They will tell you they were just doing their jobs. Their actions weren’t about heroic actions; they were about doing everything they could for those around them.”

University officials are finalizing plans for a memorial commemorating Medal of Honor recipients who graduated from or attended the UW. The memorial will be completed this fall and will be dedicated on Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, 2009.

Reach reporter Michael Truong at

Resources: Medal of Honor memorial to be built this fall - The Daily of the University of Washington

Monument honors ‘special breed' of soldier

By MARTIN J. KIDSTON of the Helena Independent Record

FORT HARRISON - Leading four men, Cornelius Smith drove off a superior Indian force and held his ground in White River, S.D., against repeated counterattacks.

It was there on the Great Plains in January 1891 that Smith finally fell while in the service of his country.

The soldier, who joined the Army out of Helena and served in the 6th U.S. Cavalry before his death at White River, is one of just eight Montana men to ever receive the military's highest commendation in the Medal of Honor.Like the other seven men remembered here in the Medal of Honor Grove west of Helena, Smith's is a story of courage under fire and dedication to his fellow soldiers.

“Medal of Honor recipients are a special breed,” said Joe Foster, Montana Veterans Affairs administrator, standing beside Smith's marker at the Fort Harrison monument. “In Montana, particularly, you don't hear much about it.”

Created more than a decade ago, the monument has blossomed in the shadows of the fort, getting little attention and even fewer visitors.

It was never officially dedicated, and few ceremonies have been held on its meticulously landscaped grounds.

Ken Larson, a veteran of the Korean War who served 39 years in the military, thinks it is time for that to change. The former Airman and retired Montana Guardsman is looking to put the monument on the map, so to speak, and give it the attention he says it deserves.

“Only a half-dozen people in Helena know anything about it, and in this day and age, I think people ought to know about it,” Larson said. “There are eight men in there. It's very impressive. It goes back a long ways.”

Montana claims one of the largest veteran populations per capita of any state in the union. But the fact that so few in the state have won the Medal of Honor in 130 years of Montana military history make it a hard-earned and highly respected award.

There were two from the Indian Wars, including Cornelius Smith and John McLennon, and one from the Philippine Insurrection, that being John Moran, who served with the U.S. Volunteers before his death on the battlefield in September 1900.

Other sacrifices are remembered here as well, including that of Leo Powers, who joined at Alder Gulch and died in Cassino, Italy, on Feb. 3, 1944.

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty,” his marker reads.

The other Montanans who were awarded the medal also served during World War II - William Galt of Stanford; Laverne Parrish of Ronan; Donald Ruhl of Columbus; and Henry Schauer of Scobey.

Foster, who once served as the public affairs officer for the Montana National Guard, helped drive the monument from concept to creation.

He remembers the aging buildings and the parking lot that once sat here. When he looks around, he admits to liking the improvements.

“I think we started the process in 1999,” Foster said. “It was about a year-and-a-half deal to get it going.”

The monument holds a small plot of ground just inside the gate at Fort Harrison. The ground is softly rounded and the grass golf-course green. A pathway leads visitors on a circular stroll past nine markers, each inscribed with names, dates and battlefield heroics.

That ninth marker is blank, leaving room for the unlikely possibility that Jim Darcy, a Montana helicopter pilot who died in Vietnam, receives the high commendation some feel he deserves.

“There have been efforts through the years for him to receive the Medal of Honor,” Foster said. “It has never come to fruition, and perhaps it never will.”

Foster points to the small trees growing beside each marker. The trees are historic, spliced from famous trees casting shade over historic locations around the country.

A green ash with a link to Dwight Eisenhower grows behind Leo Powers' marker. A red maple with ties to Charles Lindbergh grows beside the plaque remembering John Moran.

There's a white ash spliced from a tree at the Appomattox Court House, a catalpa taken from the Chatham House, and a silver maple remembering the Minutemen.

“Ultimately, what we're hoping is that this all becomes an educational centerpiece, where perhaps students will come out here and learn about this aspect of Montana's military heritage,” Foster said. “But the recognition was the biggest thing.”

The monument sits across the street from the growing Montana Military Museum. The museum's own display of history begins with the Indian Wars and extends through World War II. Pending an expansion, it may soon allow more room to continue the history through modern times.

The monument's location near the museum is no accident. But while the museum draws visitors from around the state and beyond, the monument does not.

“I've been out at the Fort for 50 some years in various ways,” Larson said. “I've done a lot of things out there and I'm really interested in that Fort. I want people to know about this monument.”

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at (406) 447-4086 or at

Resources: Archives

Medal of Honor Recipients Plan Big Showing for Convention

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2009 – At least 59 of the 96 living Medal of Honor recipients are expected to attend the upcoming annual convention of the society named for them.

The host committee of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s convention, scheduled for Sept. 15 to 19 in Chicago, announced the number in a statement released on the convention Web site, noting the unlikelihood of assembling that many recipients of the military’s highest honor at once.

Of the 42 million men and women who have served in the military since the award began during the Civil War, only 3,447 have been presented the Medal of Honor, many of them posthumously.

“Statistically, only about 1 percent of America's population will ever be in the same room with one Medal of Honor recipient,” the committee wrote. “A much smaller fraction of that will ever have the opportunity to actually meet a recipient.

“Recipients will tell you that while they understand courage, they felt intense fear … and it is the ability to overcome fear in any situation that leads one to strength and understanding … with strength and understanding, comes courage. With courage, comes sacrifice,” the committee wrote.

To each of the recipients, what they did was very logical, the committee wrote. “The human quality they have an over abundance of is courage.”

Under the convention theme, “Commit to Courage,” the society profiles the following recipients as examples of courage in combat:

-- Mike Thornton, a Navy Seal in Vietnam who, upon learning that his commander, Tom Norris, was presumed dead from an enemy ambush, ran into intense enemy fire to rescue Norris, then swam two and a half hours with him and another comrade on his back to safety. When Thornton was awarded the Medal of Honor, he spirited Norris out of the hospital where he was recovering to the White House ceremony so they could be together. Several years later, when Norris himself was awarded the Medal of Honor -- for a covert action known now as "The Rescue of Bat 21" - Thornton was by his side. On that day, Thornton became the first recipient in more than 100 years to have saved the life of another recipient.

-- Walter Ehlers spent much of World War II training and fighting side by side with his brother, Roland. Ehlers brought his company out of a Higgins boat 100 yards off shore and landed just before the second wave in a hail of fire on D-Day at Normandy, France. He got all his men safely across the beach and, the following day, moved miles in country. Among the hedgerows there, Ehlers distinguished himself in saving the lives of wounded comrades who came upon intense machine gun fire. He would learn several weeks later that, farther down the beach in Normandy, his brother never made it to shore on D-Day.

-- Gary Littrell, on a hill in Vietnam, began defending against a vicious enemy offensive with 247 men and came off the hill with fewer than 50. One witness statement said simply "Littrell was everywhere" exposing himself to intense fire during the hours-long battle, directing troops, providing radio support, ammunition, evacuation of wounded. In the end, Littrell was never wounded -- in his words, "not a scratch."

In its statement, the committee said it chose this year’s theme as “a rallying call to the citizens of Chicago, our students and all members of our armed forces who serve our country past and present to take the initiative, respond to the challenge, and act responsibly - indeed, courageously -- when the opportunity presents itself in our daily lives.”

(From a message from the host committee for the 2009 Chicago Commit to Courage Medal of Honor Convention.)

2009 Chicago Commit to Courage Medal of Honor Convention September 15th-19th 2009
U.S. Department of Defense

Image: Chicago Commit to Courage Medal of Honor Convention Website

City of Stamford, CT Honors Medal of Honor Recipients

Friday, July 10, 2009

The city of Stamford, CT, V.F.W. Springdale Post 9617 and The American Foreign Legion, Post 3.honoring Master Sergeant Homer L. Wise, awarded the Medal of Honor on June 14, 1944 during World II and Captain John C. Lathman, awarded the Medal of Honor, September 29, 1918 during World War 1.

Photo album of the Liberty Tree Planting and Plaque Dedication, Fort Stamford Park, Stamford, CT, July 4, 2009.

Medal of Honor Anniversary

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Today marked the 65th Anniversary of the day, Homer L. Wise was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during a major battle in Magliano, Italy on June 14, 1944.

For more information click on our YouTube video below:

Memorial Day Parade 2009 Stamford, CT

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

We have just added photos of highlights of the 2009 Stamford, CT, Memorial Day Parade.

Marchers included veterans representing Springdale Chapter 9617.

The parade held on May 24, 2009, featured a sign supporting the efforts of the Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee on a World War II jeep driven by Michael Pavia, a member of the Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee.

View photos of the parade

Welcome to the Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee Blog

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Welcome to our blog and updates!

Homer Lee Wise was a loving husband, devoted father and caring uncle. He was a modest man. He kept a beautiful yard. He worked at humble jobs. He grilled dinner in his backyard when the weather was warm.

Few knew that he was also the recipient of the Medal of Honor, The Silver Star, The Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts and eleven other decorations during World War II. Even his son didn’t know of his accomplishments until he was 12 years old, when a schoolmate told him.

During World War II, 16 million men and women served. Only 464 received the Medal of Honor. And, here in Stamford, CT one of those brave men; fell in love with Stamford’s Madolyn DiSesa, lived simply and modestly and spent the remainder of his life in Stamford until his passing in 1974 at the age of 57.

The Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee is a small group of private citizens who with the help and support of the New York Foundation of the Arts (our fiscal sponsor) are planning to raise a bronze statue of Homer L. Wise in the Homer Lee Wise Memorial Park on Bedford and Chester Streets.

The renowned artist and sculptor Janice Mauro of Redding, CT has been commissioned to create this statue which will stand over six feet tall, on a granite base with an engraved plaque.

Not only will this statue beautify our park but will stand as a reminder, for us all; and our future Stamford citizens, of the modesty and humility which were and are the true qualities of our brave Americans, who serve our country and fight for our freedom, so we can lead safe and fulfilling lives.

Please visit our website, view our YouTube video, read more about Homer L. Wise and make a contribution. We know these are challenging times, but every contribution brings us one step closer to leaving a legacy of honor, humility and service for our future generations to be guided by and as an inspiration and a reminder of America’s true values.

Thank you for your support,

Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee

Copyright 2011 The Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee, Inc.