Category Archives: Military Personnel

At Sea in the Great War: A Coast Guardsman’s Letters Home

At Sea in the Great War: A Coast Guardsman’s Letters Home

You may send my new camera to me, without the tripod, as I am allowed to use it.” So wrote Frederick Richard Foulkes in a letter home on 17 April 1917, just four days after enlisting in the U.S. Coast Guard. Seaman Foulkes, the son of a Presbyterian minister, very quickly had acquired the nickname “Parson.”

When the United States declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917, the Coast Guard had been transferred from the Treasury Department to the Navy Department. Veteran crews were augmented with fresh recruits; Foulkes was assigned to the cutter Manning . A small warship by today’s standards, she was 205 feet long and displaced 1,155 tons. Commissioned on 8 January 1898, the Manning was a veteran of the Spanish-American War, one of the last class of U.S. revenue cutters rigged for sail, and the first to carry electric generators.

Powered by one steam engine, she could attain 17 knots and boasted two 3-inch gun mounts and two 6-pounder rapid-fire guns. Filled out to a full complement of 8 officers, 4 warrant officers, and 100 crew, the Manning was deployed to Gibraltar. She escorted her first convoy out through the danger zone, some 215 miles, on 19 September 1917.

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Next Generation USMC Unmanned Vehicles

Next Generation USMC Unmanned Vehicles

Today the U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory will complete a more than weeklong experiment to test unmanned ground vehicles designed to lighten the load for embarked fleet Marines.

Limited Objective Experiment 2.2 featured a modified Polaris all-terrain vehicle designed to assist dismounted Marines carry ammunition, supplies and provide deployed Marines to more easily evacuate casualties.

The Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate (GUSS) isn’t a final program of record for the service but a platform to prove concepts that could be useful for Marines in the future.

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Sailor and Marine Olympic Medal Winners

Sailor and Marine Olympic Medal Winners

Carl T. Osburn

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You would think that the affinity that Americans have for guns would make competitive shooting a more popular sport, but one of the nation’s greatest Olympians is largely unknown. U.S. Navy Capt. Carl Osburn won 11 Olympic medals with his rifle between 1912 and 1924. He held the record for most U.S. medals until swimmer Jenny Thompson surpassed him eighty years later in Athens.

Charley Paddock

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A gold medalist at the 1920 games in Antwerp, the flamboyant sprinter previously served as a Marine field artillery officer in World War I. His defeat by Brit Harold Abrahams at the 1924 games was depicted in the 1981 film, “Chariots of Fire.” Paddock was killed in a plane crash during World War II while serving on the personal staff of Maj.Gen. William Upshur.

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Remembering Ernest Borgnine

Remembering Ernest Borgnine

Ernest-Borgnine_2004On Sunday, Ernest Borgnine died at 95.
Best known for his screen roles in films like Marty, From Here to Eternity and television shows McHale’s Navy and Airwolf, Borgnine also spent ten years in the U.S. Navy retiring as a Gunner’s Mate First-Class. Borgnine was a lifetime member of the U.S. Naval Institute.

Borgnine’s Navy

By Ernest Borgnine
Proceedings April 2009

It was just like in the movies.

The year was 1935, and I was right out of high school, restless, and bored with my temporary job working on a vegetable truck. One day, on a delivery run through New Haven, Connecticut, I spotted a sign on a storefront that said “JOIN THE NAVY—SEE THE WORLD.” Hey, I thought, I ought to look into that. So I stopped in to see the recruiter. Two days later, I was on a bus to the U.S. Naval Training Station in Newport, Rhode Island. more

 

Stolen Valor Still an Option

Stolen Valor Still an Option

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Xavier Alvarez

The oath taken on commissioning or enlisting in the armed forces, begins, “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” In constitutional law classes at our military service academies, cadets and midshipmen are taught that in honoring that oath they may be called upon to fight and die to protect a citizen’s First Amendment right to burn the flag, preach hate or damn U.S. warfighters.

Last week, in a less melodramatic vein, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Alvarez that service members also may fight and die to protect the First Amendment rights of frauds who falsely claim military decorations for heroism. The Stolen Valor Act criminalized the act of falsely claiming to hold the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross and Purple Heart, among other awards. With sad regularity, we hear of imposters claiming outrageous feats in combat that resulted in high decorations. Quickly recognized as pathetic liars by those of us with military backgrounds, an unknowing public, eager to honor heroes, embraces the liars. The 2005 Stolen Valor Act finally gave authorities the means to convict and imprison imposters. Dozens of convictions followed. Athough sentences were usually no more community service, at least a federal criminal conviction resulted.

Xavier Alvarez was a particularly bold liar and fraud, claiming to be a retired Marine officer wounded multiple times and awarded the Medal of Honor. In fact, he never served a day in uniform. Across the nation, many others who wove heroic fantasies for themselves have been honored in a variety of ways, but it was Alvarez whose 2010 conviction came before the Supreme Court.

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