Legends & Heroes of World War II - Stories of exceptional courage under fire.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: D-Day tours, Radio-controlled tanks, Nazi Memorabilia, Nazi Tanks, Kamikazes, WW2 Rangers, WWII Airborne Divisions, WWII Medals, WW2 Flags, Fake Veterans.
John Basilone`s road to becoming a WWII hero
On the morning of February 19, 1945, "Manila John" Basilone was leading his machine gun platoon through the hellish invasion of Iwo Jima, one of Japan's last island bastions of defense before mainland Japan. His unit had just reached the beach when a mortar barrage hit, pinning them to the ground. Red Beach II became an inferno of exploding artillery shells and mortar rounds aimed at the front-line Marines, struggling up the shoreline into the intense shelling. Basilone, already a legend, made a heroic decision.
Band of Brothers veteran Buck Compton, who later secured a conviction of RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan, dead at 90
Lynn D. "Buck" Compton, an Army paratrooper whose WW2 service was portrayed in the book and HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers" and who later as a prosecutor secured a conviction of Robert F. Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan, passed away at 90. Compton fought in some of the war's fiercest battles as a first lieutenant with E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. The soldiers, known as Easy Company, participated in the June 6, 1944, invasion of Normandy, parachuted into Holland for the Operation Market Garden, and fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
5 WWII heroes who did not even have a weapon
#5. Bill Millin, Bagpipe Warrior, played bagpipes on the D-Day invasion beaches as men were shot all around him. --- #4. Matvey Kuzmin, an 83-year-old Russian hermit, led an entire Nazi battalion to an ambush after marching with them until the Elite troops were exhausted. --- #3. Krystyna Skarbek, who worked with the British Secret Intelligence Service during WWII, bullshitted the Germans into letting them go by biting her tongue until it bled and then convincing them she had pulmonary tuberculosis (or was insane). --- #2. Yevgeny Khaldei, who built his own camera at age 12, ended up in the Red Army as a combat photographer. --- #1. Francis L. Sampson's WWII experiences served as the plot for Saving Private Ryan.
Gurkha warrior Tul Bahadur Pun won Victoria Cross during the Second Chindit Expedition in Burma in 1944
Tul Bahadur Pun, a Gurkha soldier who won the Victoria Cross while serving with the Second Chindit Expedition in Burma in 1944 and later became the figurehead for a campaign on Gurkha's rights to settle in the UK, has passed away at 88.
On May 27, 1944, the 77th Indian Brigade was ordered to capture the Japanese supply centre of Mogaung. After almost a month of fierce fighting, the 3rd Battalion 6th Gurkha Rifles was ordered to attack the railway bridge at Mogaung. Pun's section - apart from himself, the section commander and one rifleman - was wiped out. The commander led his two remaining riflemen in a charge on The Red House, but he was at once severely wounded. Pun and his comrade continued the charge - but the latter, too, fell badly wounded. Pun then seized the Bren gun and, firing from the hip as he ran, continued the charge on the heavily bunkered position capturing two machine guns.
Rudder: From Leader to Legend by Thomas M. Hatfield (book review)
"Rudder: From Leader to Legend," a biography of the WWII hero General James Earl Rudder - who later put Texas A&M University on its path to prominence - will be formally unveiled during campus ceremonies on Texas A&M University on March 24. Rudder led the U.S. Army's 2nd Ranger Battalion up the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc on France's Normandy Beach on D-Day.
"Tracking Rudder from Texas to Britain, across France, and into Germany was high adventure. To uncover the truth, I walked the ground in every place that was significant in his entire life... and I read virtually every related document I could find," explained author Thomas M. Hatfield, who is expected to attend the ceremonies.
George Keil, with machine gun wounds to both legs, swam across a channel to get reinforcements
For 55 years, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. George H. Keil barely said a word about the scars he had on both legs - and a bullet still in one - and the WWII feats that earned him military medals like the Distinguished Service Cross, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Cornered by Japanese forces on the Provisor Island during the Battle of Manila in 1945, Keil, with machine gun wounds to both legs, swam across a channel to get reinforcements for his fellow GIs. Two men who attempted before him were killed by machine gun fire.
Last year, when Keil opened up about the feat, he was almost crying: "I could have saved more lives. I could have saved more but they wouldn't let me swim across the river again."
Legendary U.S. Army Ranger Leonard Lomell, who saved the Allied D-Day invasion with his feats at Pointe du Hoc, dies
The word 'legendary' may be overused, but in this case it truly is the proper word to use.
Leonard G. "Bud" Lomell, a legendary United States Army Ranger, has passed away at the age of 91. On June 6, 1944, 2nd Ranger Battalion landed on the beaches of Normandy below Pointe du Hoc, from which German artillery could dominate American landing beaches. The Rangers climbed the 100-foot cliff as German troops fired down on them. First Sergeant Lomell and Staff Sergeant Jack Kuhn formed a partol which located the German's artillery and destroyed the guns - just minutes before the Allied landings were set to begin. For this feat he earned a Distinguished Service Cross.
And if that wasn't enough, just 6 months later - during the Battle of Hürtgen Forest, the longest single battle the U.S. Army has ever fought - he was granted a Silver Star for his valor as the 2nd Ranger Battalion seized and held Hill 400.
Excerpt from "To Hell and Back" - Autobiography of the most decorated American WWII soldier, Audie Murphy
Over 4000-word excerpt from "To Hell and Back" - the autobiography of Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier of the Second World War - is now available online. He won the Medal of Honor and 32 other American and foreign medals and citations during his 27 months in action.
"Steiner is a soldier, but you would never see his kind on the recruiting posters. Short and pudgy, he has the round, innocent face of a baby and a voice as gentle as a child`s. He cannot get the knack of the army, though he tries hard. His gear is forever fouled up. It drips from his body like junk. Now he stumbles and falls. It is the third time he has tripped today; and Olsen, a huge, blond sergeant, is fresh out of patience."
Dick Winters, WWII legend whose service was recounted in Band of Brothers series, is gone
Richard D. Winters, a charismatic officer who saw action in both WWII and Korean War, has passed away at 92. He led Company "E", 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, through D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, later occupying Hitler's mountainside retreat the Eagle's Nest. Winters famously commanded a group of men on a raid of German cannon emplacements near Utah beach on Normandy's coastline.
Brute: The Life of Victor Krulak, U.S. Marine by Robert Coram (WWII book review)
Legendary Marine Corps general Victor Krulak's story is not an easy one to tell. During his long military career with the U.S. Marines he had a noteworthy role in countless matters, like promoting Higgins boats and being the mastermind of the Okinawa invasion.
Behind Enemy Lines: An Autobiography Of Britain`s Most Decorated War Hero (book review)
The 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich was on its way to Normandy to repel the Allied D-Day attack. If they made the 450-mile journey in time, they could be the difference between victory and defeat - which is why Resistance units had been mobilized to slow their march by whatever means, or cost. Now the 15,000 battle-scarred Waffen-SS soldiers with 200 tanks and military vehicles faced the tiny group of French Resistance fighters commanded by Major Tommy Macpherson - a legendary warrior-hero, considered by experts to be one of the bravest, most determined and resourceful British WWII soldiers.
Victoria Cross at Takrouna: The Haane Manahi Story by Paul Moon (book review)
A new book explores the bravery of WWII hero Haane Manahi - and the strange case of how his Victoria Cross recommendation was mysteriously downgraded to a Distinguished Conduct Medal. In May 1943 Lance Sergeant Haane Manahi, B company of the 28th Maori Battalion from New Zealand, was recommended for a Victoria Cross by 4 Allied generals for his repeated acts of courage during the battle of Takrouna Ridge in Tunisia, North Africa. In this biography history professor Dr Paul Moon uncovers the events about the Victoria Cross recommendation and dismisses war crimes rumours that damaged Manahi's reputation.
The best and most battle-proven paratrooper in the world: Marcel Bigeard
General Marcel Bigeard, one of France's most decorated war veterans, who led troops in the French Resistance in WW2 and in wars in Algeria and Indochina, has passed away at 94. Bigeard, who was wounded in battle 5 times and escaped from POW camps 3 times, had legendary status in France. Nicknamed "the Heroic Bigeard" by Charles de Gaulle, he saw combat against the Nazis and rebels in the French colonies of Indochina and Algeria. "He has been called the best paratrooper in the world, and whatever the truth of that, he most certainly has a claim as the most battle-proven," said military historian Martin Windrow.
John Basilone: The only enlisted WWII Marine with both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross
The Congressional Medal of Honor winner who perished on Iwo Jima - and whose heroism is resurrected in 'The Pacific' series - is recalled by a World War II comrade. William Lansford recalls his friendship with Marine gunnery sergeant John Basilone and his last day. --- Serving with Basilone was a golden period of the war for me. He never barked like the other gunnery sergeants but ruled like a older brother. Basilone did more than train the men. He taught the meaning of esprit de corps. On Iwo Jima Basilone risked his life repeatedly, it seemed nothing could touch him, until Japanese mortar scored a direct hit.
White Death: The Finnish sniper who killed 700 Red Army soldiers in 100 days
Ensconced in the snow, his white camouflage uniform made him invisible to the invading Soviet soldiers he stalked, Simo Häyhä braced himself to fire. During the 1939–1940 Winter War, in temperatures as low as –40 °C, the Finnish sniper single-handedly killed at least 700 men in less than 100 days. Over 500 of these he shot using a standard bolt-action rifle (an M/28 or M28/30 Soviet Mosin-Nagant) with non-telescopic sights. The sharpshooter - nicknamed The White Death - was later be credited with the highest number of confirmed kills in any war in history came from humble rural beginnings.
William Kajikawa: Legendary coach and a member the U.S. Army's most decorated combat unit
William (Bill) "Kaji" Kajikawa, a legendary football, basketball and baseball coach at Arizona State, has passed away at 97. During World War Two he took his only break from ASU to serve with the Army's 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The 442nd, manned only by Japanese Americans, was the U.S. Army's most decorated combat unit. He was placed into the Arizona Basketball Hall of Fame in 1968 and the ASU Hall of Distinction in 1982. Kajikawa was thought to be the oldest living Republic All-State athlete, having been named first team quarterback in 1931 and 1932 at Phoenix Union High School.
Tanks lead by George Burden defeated the only German armoured attack of D-Day
George Burden, a sergeant in the Staffordshire Yeomanry, headed off to war in 1939 after training as a horseman. By 1945, he had been granted the Military Medal for bravery after seeing action as a tank commander, been burned and shot in the arm. The part-time Territorial Army unit's finest hour came on D-Day, June 6, 1944. A mile inland from the invasion beaches, its tanks defeated the only German Panzer attack of D-Day. 3 weeks later Burden became a hero: His Sherman was hit and driver killed, but hours later it emerged his gunfire had destroyed 9 enemy half-tracks. Despite suffering burns, he walked back to the battlefield and recover his own damaged tank.
Death mask of Iwo Jima flag raiser Ira Hayes finally buried with him
When Ira Hayes was alive, his image was captured in one of the most famous WWII photos ever taken: the image of American soldiers raising the flag over Iwo Jima. The 1945 photo, which symbolized American courage, transformed a troubled Indian kid into a national celebrity. 54 years after his death his family learned that a face mask had been cast in plaster while Hayes lay in a Phoenix mortuary. The mask of Hayes - a Pima Indian from Bapchule, Arizona - was made without family's permission and ended up on display at the Gilbert Ortega Museum Gallery. "In Pima culture, when you pass on, everything you own is supposed to go with you," says Sharon Cook.
442nd Regimental Combat Team: Most decorated American unit in WWII was Japanese
The Oregonian on March 27th had a front page story about a belated campaign to recognize the 442nd Regimental Combat Team by a postage stamp - Idea so far turned down by the U.S. Postal Service. Why? If we can't honor the best and bravest whom then do we honor? Men of 442nd - called "little men of iron" - were American citizens with their belongings looted and parents in American Concentration Camps - but they all still volunteered to serve their country. The 442nd Regiment were granted 9000 Purple Hearts, 1 Congressional, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 600 Silver Stars, 5200 Bronze Stars and many others military medals.
Terry Spencer: A Battle of Britain legend and acclaimed photographer
Terry Spencer, author of "Living Dangerously," was one of the Britain's most striking daredevils. His birth in Bedford during a 1918 Zeppelin airship raid was an early sign of the drama that would follow him through life. After the start of World War II he was posted to a squadron flying American P51 Mustangs. Flying just 10 feet off the ground to avoid German radar, he strafed enemy trains, boats and military convoys. Unbelievably he put his life on the line time after time when he figured out how to destroy Nazi doodlebug V-1 flying bombs in flight by poking them with his wingtip, getting the nickname "Tip it in Terry".
Günther Rall: Last German ace and holder of the Knight's Cross with Swords
Germany's only surviving WWII ace is to travel to UK to meet with RAF Battle of Britain heroes. Günther Rall is thought to be the last-surviving holder of the Knight's Cross with Swords, Third Reich's highest award for valour. He was presented with the medal from Adolf Hitler who he met 3 times on acocunt of his exploits in shooting down 275 Russian, British and American planes. General Rall became Germany's first postwar head of the Luftwaffe. His Viennese wife Hertha came under the Gestapo probe because she helped Jews escape to Britain after the Nazi Anschluss in 1938. "Many RAF fliers became my friends after the war. They were all gentlemen of the skies."
Film details Hispanic Marine's acts in the Second World War
Armed but alone, Marine Pfc. Guy Gabaldon roamed Saipan's caves and pillboxes, persuading enemy soldiers and civilians to surrender. He told the Japanese that Marines were not torturers as they had heard. He coaxed over 1,000 Japanese out of the caves. He got a Silver Star - later upgraded to a Navy Cross. His actions were recounted on tv and in movies. Now, 2 years after his death, there is a renewed campaign to give Gabaldon the Medal of Honor. New documentary "East L.A. Marine" asks whether his Hispanic heritage prevented him from getting the medal, however, others blame his outspoken nature.
Warfilms about exploits of a World War II commando captain Michael Burn
Michael Burn was a captain in the commandos in their WWII raid on St Nazaire, a PoW at Colditz Castle and had a copy of Mein Kampf signed by Adolf Hitler. Now his story will be told in 2 movies, based on Burn's "Turned Towards the Sun" and James Dorrian's "Storming St Nazaire". One will focus on the St Nazaire raid. Despite being wounded (and after every man in his boat was killed) he helped other men to safety and battled his way to a rendezvous point, before being caught and sent to Colditz. Producer Robert Ozn said: "...the troops who fought at St Nazaire represent all that Americans admire about the British warrior."
WWII Medal of Honor winner shares his story - 100th Infantry Division
Only 32 Medal of Honor recipients are still alive. One of them is infantry soldier Mike Colalillo, who earned the medal during the last days of WW2. On April 7, 1945 his unit came under heavy fire, bullets and shells were flying all over. "We were all pinned down, we couldn't move. If you get up we'd get shot at. We lost a lot of men there... I jumped on the tank, and just hollered in the tank and told, 'I lost my gun and I'm going to use your machine gun on the top.' And that's when I started shooting all these positions where the Germans were." Out in the open on top of the battle tank, Colalillo rode into battle, firing the machine gun mounted on the turret.
Silvestre Herrera: Mexico-born Medal of Honor winner, dies at 90
Silvestre Herrera, the first Arizonan to win the Medal of Honor award during World War II, also had Mexico's highest honor for valor (the Premier Merito Militar), making him the only person to earn both. In 1945 he was granted the Medal of Honor for saving his platoon from machine-gun fire. The Army private first class with the 36th Infantry Division took out one emplacement, then charged through a minefield toward a second, losing both feet to explosions. The eight Germans manning the machine-gun nest threw down their weapons. "I was one of the lucky ones, to live to be awarded the Medal of Honor."
Forgotten Soldiers by Brian Moynahan - How to be a military hero
Vom Kriege (On War) by Carl von Clausewitz isn't the easiest reading, but he has many insights, some of which are at the heart of Forgotten Soldiers by Brian Moynahan, who has taken 15 individuals who changed the course of a war or a campaign. "As with glass too quickly cooled, a single crack breaks the whole mass," Clausewitz warns on panic. At the key stage of the German invasion of France on May 13, 1940 German sergeant Walther Rubarth caused the crack. 3 Panzer divisions were stalled on the bank of the Meuse. Squad of assault engineers were the only Germans to get across, and Rubarth destroyed 7 French bunkers, carving out a bridgehead...
Medal of Honor hero held off hundreds of Germans single-handedly
World War II veteran Charles P. Murray held off hundreds of Germans single-handedly for over 6 hours. Then Army Lieutenant, he had only been company commander for 8 days. "It was the last area of France west of the Rhine river that was still in the hands of the Germans." Murray was leading his troops through the mountains when his lookout spotted something. "Then my radio went dead - cold, wet probably. I had no spare batteries." With no way to call for heavy artillery from the rear and fearing the Germans would annihilate his company, he ordered his fellow soldiers to scatter and he hunkered down. "I borrowed a rifle and some blank cartridges for the rifle..."
Medal of Honor hero Pfc. John Reese sacrificed himself for comrades
Pfc. John N. Reese Jr was killed during a 2-man attack on more than 300 heavily armed and entrenched enemy soldiers in a 2-1/2-hour World War II battle for a Manila railroad station. He was hit by a sniper's bullet while reloading his rifle as he and Pfc. Cleto Rodriguez were crawling toward the American lines for more ammunition. Reese provided covering fire as his companion crawled away. "The intrepid team, in 2-1/2 hours of fierce fighting, killed more than 82 Japanese, disorganized their defense and paved the way for subsequent defeat of the enemy at this strong point," according to the citation awarding Reese the Medal of Honor.
Vet to receive medal 6 decades after heroic acts in Nazi Germany
The officers of Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, credited Wayne T. Alderson with leading the company's assault into Nazi Germany on March 15, 1945. Over the next 3 days, he single-handedly destroyed 2 machine gun emplacements and attacked pockets of German snipers. Ordered to report to the rear for media interviews, he instead led a new assault on March 18, when company B was then cut off. Fearing the Germans were about to launch a counterattack, Captain James B. Rich asked for volunteers to launch a surprise assault... "It haunts me. He gave his life for me, and here I'm getting the Silver Star and possibly the Medal of Honor."
Ernest Childers' WWII heroics earned Medal of Honor
Ernest Childers had a broken ankle and was out of hand grenades, but that didn't stop him from attacking two enemy machine gun nests in Italy in Sept 1943. Second Lt. Childers lobbed rocks into a German machine gun nest. In the morning darkness, the Nazi machine gunners couldn't tell what they were and jumped out of their cover for fear they were grenades, right into fire from Childers' rifle. After recovering from his wounds in North Africa, he was sent back into combat at the Battle of Anzio, where he was wounded again. The citation of the Medal of Honor said: "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty."
Lieutenant Commander John Bridge: Clearing Messina harbour
In August 1943, following the allied invasion of Sicily, efforts to clear Messina harbour of mines had been costly. All the members of one bomb disposal team had been killed or seriously wounded. Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve lieutenant John Bridge, already the holder of a George Medal and Bar, was instructed to clear the harbour. Little was known about the depth charge firing mechanisms. So his first task was to recover one of the devices intact. For his "conspicuous and prolonged bravery and contempt of death" Bridge was awarded the George Cross. Two of his team received George Medals.
Bob Dare: Blown up Churchill tank, D-Day , Operation Market Garden
A member of the Coldstream Guards Tank Brigade, Bob Dare took part in the D-Day landings and Operation Market Garden. In Oct 1944, he got severe burns when his Churchill tank was blown up by a mine. Bob saw the shell of his tank again last October when he was guest of honour at the opening of the Oorlogs National War and Resistance Museum. In a letter sent to Bob in June 1945, John Collier wrote: "I'll always remember that day when I saw your tank go up in flames. I never saw you get out... I went around what tanks were left yelling your name and I couldn't find you. ... You've no idea what a relief it was the next day when I found out you were still kicking."
Reluctant Hero - Charles Upham - New Zealand's best soldier (Article no longer available from the original source)
Although he was treated as a hero Captain Charles Upham refused to take on the mantle he'd earned as New Zealand's best soldier. Wounded many times, famous for taking risks others would not, he is the most highly decorated Commonwealth soldier of WWII. Upham won the Victoria Cross twice, the highest commendation a Kiwi soldier could win. He is the only man among millions of Allied troops to be awarded both the Victoria Cross 'and Bar'. 1941 Crete campaign was a 10-day pitched battle in which allied troops were slowly over run by the Nazis. Upham repeatedly saved the lives of his men by sneaking up on German positions.
Marine private tricked 1,000 Japanese soldiers to surrender (Article no longer available from the original source)
Marine private Guy Gabaldon, who single-handedly persuaded more than 1,000 Japanese soldiers to surrender in the World War II battle for Saipan, has died. Using an elementary knowledge of Japanese, bribes of cigarettes and candy, and trickery with tales of encampments surrounded by American troops, he was able to persuade soldiers to abandon their posts and surrender. The scheme was so brazen — and so amazingly successful — it won him the Navy Cross, and fame when his story was told on tv. "My plan was to get near a Japanese emplacement or bunker, and tell them that I had a bunch of Marines with me and we were ready to kill them if they did not surrender."
Gurkhas and VC ceremony - Solo stand against 200 soldiers
Two Nepalese Gurkha Victoria Cross (VC) winners have attended a ceremony to mark the 150th anniversary of the medal. 4 of 12 living VC holders are Gurkhas from Nepal. Gurkha soldiers were first recruited by imperial Britain in 1815, and are admired for their fearlessness. Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung made a solo stand against 200 Japanese troops during the Second World War after being blinded in one eye. In recent years, some Gurkhas have been involved in disputes over retirement issues. Captain Limbu led a group petitioning British PM to demand the same rights as British-born soldiers.
George Codrea - Marine infantry platoon leader at Guadalcanal
After joining the Marine Corps, George Codrea was assigned as an infantry platoon leader with the 1st Marine Division and took part in the invasion of Guadalcanal on Aug. 7, 1942. After two weeks of minor battles, a Japanese infantry brigade attacked in the battle of Tenaru River. The young second lieutenant held his ground, according to his Navy Cross citation. To reinforce the firing line, he placed each man in a position to deliver the most effective fire. Despite being wounded twice he remained at the front until being ordered to be treated. After recuperation he returned for the final months of the campaign.
Legendary Marine Corps hero who died on Iwo Jima
The World War II Marine Corps hero, Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone, who died on Iwo Jima after legendary feats has a Navy destroyer and a lot more named for him. A stamp was issued with his image and tales of his courage are a boot camp staple. At Guadalcanal his unit defended against an elite Japanese regiment of 3,000 men. 12 of the 15 men were killed and two others wounded, but he held out and fired away for 3 days from the two machine guns, repairing one mid-battle and making a run for more ammunition. By the battle's end, 200 Japanese lay dead. His Medal of Honor citation credited him "Virtual annihilation" of the regiment.
War heroine Nancy Wake honoured - Led an army of 7,000
The Australian WWII heroine dubbed the 'White Mouse' by the Gestapo because they could not catch her has finally been honoured in the land of her birth, New Zealand. Nancy Wake has been awarded the NZ Returned Services Association's highest honour, the RSA Badge in Gold, as well as life membership for her work with the French resistance during the war. She is the first woman to be awarded the Badge in Gold. The RSA said as a saboteur and resistance organiser and fighter, the feisty woman led an army of 7,000 Marquis troops in guerrilla warfare against the Nazis in France.
Rommel: The End Of A Legend by Ralf Georg Reuth (Article no longer available from the original source)
The legend of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox, is threefold: he was a simple soldier who did his duty and knew nothing of Nazism; he was a commander of superlative talent in North Africa in 1941-2; he was a leader of resistance to Hitler who gave his life after the failure of the July 1944 plot. Reuth shows that all of these assumptions are false. Rommel was a officer whose ambitions were in perfect harmony with the aims of the Nazis. He colluded in the marketing of his persona by Goebbels, whose newsreels built him up like a movie star. He was mindlessly loyal to the Reich and Führer.
A Navajo warrior who earned 28 medals dies
Samuel N. Blatchford, great-great-grandson of Navajo war chief Manuelito and decorated war hero with service in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, died. To say that he qualified for that military honor is an understatement. His military service included: # Working with the French Resistance until his capture by the Gestapo. # Serving as a radio operator and gunner on a B17 Flying Fortress in Europe and getting shot down four times. # Numerous escape attempts from Stalag 17-B. Blatchford earned 28 medals, including the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster, four Purple Hearts, six Air Medals and the Prisoner of War Medal.
The man who really beat Hitler - Marshal Georgi Zhukov
Marshal Georgi Zhukov was the commander of the Red Army which came back from near defeat at Stalingrad and pushed the Wehrmacht back to Berlin, where the Nazi regime collapsed. He became a hero in the Soviet Union but Stalin, and later Khrushchev, were so jealous of his stature they forced him into taking a series of dead-end projects and tried to airbrush him out of the history books. By the time of his death in 1974 Marshal Zhukov had been rehabilitated by the Soviets. His leadership during the "Great Patriotic War" is still studied at West Point and Sandhurst, as well as the great Russian military academies.
Adolf Pilch - Heroic figure of the Polish underground army
Major Adolf Pilch was a blunt, ironic man, and a cool strategist much feared by the German and Soviet occupying forces. He came to England to train for the special operations executive (SOE). Parachuted back into Poland in Feb 1943, Pilch took charge of a 40-strong group of partisans, which within two months had became 400, and, by the end of the year, had grown to 1,000. Pilch fought in more than 200 engagements, never lost a battle, and was subsequently awarded four fighting crosses, the medal of Warsaw, the king's medal for courage, and Poland's highest military honour, the virtuti militari.