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 mkidston@helenair.com.

Missoulian.com 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

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