Posted in Military History

This Week in American Military History

Better late than never…

Jan. 22, 1944: Allied forces, including the U.S. VI Corps under the command of Maj. Gen. John P. Lucas (of Lt. Gen. Mark Clark’s Fifth Army), begin a series of landings along a stretch of western Italian coastline in the Anzio-Nettuno area. Codenamed Operation Shingle, the Allies achieve complete surprise against – and encounter little initial resistance from – the Germans. But the landings kick off what will become one of the most grueling campaigns of World War II.

Jan. 22, 1954: First Lady Mamie Eisenhower breaks a bottle of champagne across the bow of USS Nautilus in Groton, Connecticut, launching the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine. The following year, Nautilus gets underway, begins breaking numerous sea-travel records, and becomes the first “ship” to cross the North Pole.

Jan. 22, 1969: Operation Dewey Canyon, the Marine Corps’ last major offensive of the Vietnam War, begins. Marines under the command of Col. Robert H. Barrow spent 56 days clearing out the North Vietnamese Army’s stronghold near the A Shau Valley.

Jan. 25, 1856: Marines and seamen from the sloop USS Decatur land at Seattle to protect settlers from an Indian attack. The Battle of Seattle lasted seven hours and the Indians suffered severe casualties, while only two settlers died.

Jan. 26, 1948: Pres. Harry S. Truman signs executive order 9981, which essentially directs the desegregation of the armed forces.

Jan. 27, 1837: U.S. soldiers and Marines under the command of Col. Archibald Henderson – a serving Marine Corps commandant – defeat a force of Seminole Indians in the running battle of Hatchee-Lustee Creek (Florida). For his actions, Henderson will receive a brevet promotion to brigadier general, becoming the Corps’ first general officer.

Jan. 27, 1862: Pres. Abraham Lincoln issues the first of two war orders. The first, General War Order No. One, directs U.S. Army and Naval forces to move “against the insurgent forces [of the Southern states].” In four days, Lincoln will issue Special War Order No. One, calling for an expeditionary force to seize and hold “a point” along the railroad southwest of Manassas Junction.

Jan. 27, 1942: The submarine USS Gudgeon sinks a Japanese submarine – becoming the first American sub to send an enemy warship to the bottom during World War II. Gudgeon also becomes the first sub to patrol Japanese waters. She will go on to rack up more than a dozen kills. She will conduct rescue missions and special operations. But in 1944, on her 12th patrol, she mysteriously disappears with all hands.

Jan. 27, 1943: American bombers – specifically B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators – of the U.S. Eighth Air Force strike German U-boat facilities at Wilhelmshaven. The bombing raid is the first U.S. Army Air Forces mission over Germany.

Jan. 28, 1915: Pres. Woodrow Wilson signs into law the congressionally approved merger of the “Life Saving” and “Revenue Cutter” services, thus establishing the U.S. Coast Guard. Still, the officially recognized birthday of the Coast Guard is Aug. 4, 1790, the day Congress approved Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s proposal to “build ten cutters to protect the new nation’s revenue.”

Adapted (and abridged) in part from “This Week in US Military History” by W. Thomas Smith Jr. at Human Events.

“This Week in US Military History” is a project of the Center for American Military History. See more or submit content here.

Posted in Images Military History

“Black Jack” Pershing awards MacArthur, Donovan the DSC duiring World War I

Gen. John J. Pershing (second from left) decorates Brig. Gen. Douglas MacArthur (third from left) with the Distinguished Service Cross. Maj. Gen. Charles T. Menoher (left) reads out the citation. Col. George E. Leach (fourth from left) and Col. William Joseph Donovan await their decorations. (US Army photo)
Posted in Articles

Leadership 101: Emotion and the Three M’s

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

The first article in our series – Leadership 101 – describes the series going forward, then touches on the five elements of the foundation upon which we build the leader from the ground-up (before getting into the fundamentals of leadership). If you’ve not read Leadership 101: Body, Mind, and Soul Required, I urge you to do so now at

Today we continue building the foundation. But we will also include some red-meat, right-now leadership tools because (despite our building) many of us are already leaders, and – as I learned years ago in U.S. Marine Corps boot camp – all of us may be thrust into leadership positions on a moments notice.

Let’s flash-review the five elements of the whole man (whole woman) that we must master as our basic building-blocks of sound leadership. My good friend, Mark Divine, a U.S. Navy SEAL Res. commander, refers to these five whole-man elements – (1) the physical body, (2) the mind or brain, (3) emotional awareness and control, (4) intuition, and (5) soul or spirit – as “the five mountains.”

(ref. SEALFIT Unbeatable Mind Academy

A lot has been said and written about the body-mind connection, so we won’t spend a great deal of time on the body or the mind right now except to say that a physically sound body and a physically sound mind (or brain) are critical to one’s quality of life.

This is straight out of my old Boy Scout handbook. We cannot take either the body or the mind for granted, though we all have at times in our lives. We have to eat right, exercise daily, and sleep for the body. And we must condition the mind through a mix of reading, instruction (which you are receiving right now), and problem solving. And we have to learn to embrace the connection between the body and the mind. More on this further in the series.

Today, let’s look more closely at the third element (or mountain) – emotional awareness and control.

Continue reading “Leadership 101: Emotion and the Three M’s”

Posted in Articles

Leadership 101: Body, Mind, and Soul Required

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Welcome to Leadership 101, a new feature here at Unto the Breach. I call it Leadership 101, because basic leadership is exactly what we are going to address – tackling the fundamentals of good leadership – but from a unique perspective. We’ll do it in such a way as to give you the tools needed to both ramp up your leadership skills (yes, seeing results immediately) and develop your leadership capabilities for the long haul. And we will do so no matter what your leadership experience and skill level may be.

This unique version of Leadership 101 is based on my own perspective, gleaned from other leaders (many of the world’s great masters of the art of leadership) as well as my own training and experience leading people. It is a perspective based on years of serving as a military (primarily small-unit infantry) leader and yes, a follower; learning from the best military leaders and counterterrorism experts in peace and in war; being a business, committee, and team leader; and – like most of us – having been thrust into unexpected (sometimes unwanted), immediate, temporary, varied positions of leadership at various evolutions throughout my life to this point.

As I told a group of cadets and midshipmen from West Point, Annapolis, and the Air Force Academy back in 2010; “Leadership – that sometimes vague, somewhat ambiguous magic of getting people to do what needs to be done – has been discussed, written about, and mused-over since armies first marched and navies first sailed, and every leader has tried to convince others that he or she has the perfect formula for that particular kind of magic.”

But far too often we are so focused on the so-called fast-track formulas and all the great soundbites associated with those formulas that we neglect or completely ignore the pure fundamentals necessary to good leadership, whether we are talking about military leadership or business leadership (both of which are related yet different, and we’ll discuss how in a future piece).

I’m not going to waste your time (or mine) with a bunch of feel-good nonsense about leadership. Nor will I attempt – like so many so-called experts – to wax philosophic about what leadership really is by talking over readers’ heads with clinical terms and jargony formulas.

This, you will discover, is red-meat, right-now leadership.

Let’s jump into it; first with the foundation (before we get to the fundamentals) because if we don’t have a foundation upon which to build the leader, the end result – no matter how good that result might look on paper or in person – might fail at the front, in the trenches, where the leader finds himself or herself struggling to make decisions in those terrible, unforgiving, high-stakes moments when direction is critically needed.

I will refer to this all-important foundation as simply the development of the whole man or whole woman. The idea being, you will never be a good leader if your own physical body and brain (including your intellectual capability and capacity), emotional state, intuition, and soul (spirit) are not first in order, and with each of the five living components working in concert with one another. And they will never be what they need to be – for you as a leader – if you neglect any one of them by wrongly convincing yourself that you are a good person with integrity.

You have to work at it, and it has to become a daily lifestyle thing.

Continue reading “Leadership 101: Body, Mind, and Soul Required”

Posted in Images Military

Unmanned helicopter makes first-ever combat delivery

CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan-A detachment of Marines from Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 in Afghanistan completed their first unmanned aerial system cargo delivery in a combat zone, Dec. 17. The unmanned helicopter moved about 3,500 pounds of food and supplies from Camp Dwyer to troops at Combat Outpost Payne. The helicopter, an unmanned variant of the K-MAX, completed the delivery in about an hour and a half. (USMC photo by Cpl. Justin M. Boling)
Posted in Military History

Medal of Honor history: Patrick Brady and Don Jenkins


On this day in military history, two American soldiers earned the Medal of Honor – the nation’s highest decoration for valor. 44 years ago on January 6, 1968, Major Patrick Henry Brady (citation), commander of the 54th Medical Detachment, volunteered for a dangerous “dust off” mission near Chu Lai, Vietnam. Wounded soldiers were pinned down in enemy-held territory that was also reportedly blanketed with dense fog. Upon arrival, Brady descended through the dense fog and smoke to reach the two South Vietnamese soldiers. Despite the close proximity to enemy forces who were firing at the unarmed helicopter, Brady landed his aircraft and evacuated the men.

On his next mission, American troops were wounded and pinned down 50 meters from an enemy position. Two helicopters had been shot down and other attempts to rescue the troops were unsuccessful. Maj. Brady made four flights into the contested area and evacuated all of the wounded.

Next, Brady flew into another area surrounded by enemy forces. This time, his helicopter was badly damaged, but he was able to extract the wounded. Brady was called upon once more, this time to assist a platoon trapped in a minefield. Upon landing, a mine detonated near his aircraft, injuring two crewmembers and damaging the helicopter. Brady would return with yet another helicopter – his third of the day – and evacuate six more wounded soldiers.

“If you cared enough about the lives you were trying to save, you would find a way,” Brady stated in an interview at the Pritzker Military Library in 2007. That day, Brady rescued 51 seriously-wounded soldiers, many of whom would have died had it not been for his “unmatched skill and extraordinary courage.”

Over his two tours, Brady flew 2,000 missions and rescued 5,000 wounded soldiers. In Brady’s first tour, he was part of the only medevac company (five helicopters) in Vietnam. He retired as a Major General in 1993 after 34 years in the Army.


One year after Brady’s actions, helicopters inserted members of the 39th Infantry Regiment into the Kien Phong Province on a reconnaisance mission. After landing, Private First Class Don Jenkins (citation)and the men of his unit immediately began receiving heavy crossfire from North Vietnamese Army bunkers that encircled the landing zone.

Jenkins ran to an exposed area and opened fire on enemy soldiers gathering near log bunkers with his M-60. When his machine gun jammed, Jenkins grabbed another rifle and fired upon the enemy while a teammate attempted to repair the M-60. He repeatedly charged through open terrain to grab ammunition from fallen soldiers until he could no longer find any ammunition. Then Jenkins picked up two anti-tank weapons from another fallen soldier. Despite incoming enemy fire, he closed within 20 yards of the enemy bunkers and destroyed two of them.

Then the resourceful soldier picked up an M-79 grenade launcher and resumed his destruction until that weapon was exhausted as well. Meanwhile, an group of soldiers was pinned down just meters away from the enemy. Previous rescue attempts had resulted in one death and many injuries, but that news must not have phased Jenkins. Ignoring serious shrapnel wounds in his stomach and legs, Jenkins crawled forward 100 meters to the embattled position three times over the course of the night, each time bringing back a wounded comrade.

Following the battle, Jenkins was promoted to Staff Sergeant. Oddly enough however, Jenkins’ commanding officer had threatened to bust him down to Private the day prior to his heroic actions: Jenkins needed to be resuscitated due to drinking a poisoned bottle of wine.

Following his discharge, Jenkins returned to the coal mines of Kentucky, and received notification that he was to be awarded the Medal in 1971.

Posted in Military History

Jan. 6 in US Military History

1777: Gen. George Washington sets up winter camp for the Continental Army in the hills surrounding Morristown, N.J.

1861: Florida militia forces seize the Union Apalachicola Arsenal, which is defended by only Ordnance Sergeant Edwin Powell and three laborers. Although hopelessly outnumbered, Powell was prepared to fight if ordered to hold and initially refuses to surrender the keys to the magazines or armory. But when the militia allows him to send a telegram to his command for instruction – and he receives no response – he reluctantly concedes.

1927: U.S. Marines return to Nicaragua to protect American lives and property.

1942: Pres. Franklin Roosevelt informs Congress that he is authorizing the largest armaments production in United States history: 8 million tons of shipping, 45,000 planes, and 45,000 tanks, and 20,000 anti-aircraft guns will roll off assembly lines within the year.

1944: Brig. Gen. Frank Merrill is designated to lead the 5307th Composite Unit (provisional), a long-range penetration special operations unit, now popularly known as Merrill’s Marauders. Of the 2,750 men to enter the unit at Burma, only two were not wounded or killed. Today’s 75th Ranger Regiment is a descendant of Merrill’s Marauders.

Medal of Honor: 44 years ago in South Vietnam, Army helicopter pilot Maj. Patrick H. Brady conducted multiple medical evacuation missions in dense fog and in the face of heavy enemy fire. Over the course of the day, he rescued 51 soldiers and 400 bullet holes were counted in the three helicopters he flew.

Posted in Images Military History

The late Col. Robert Howard

The late Col. Robert Howard (second from left), one of America's highest-decorated soldiers during the Vietnam War. (Source:

Col. Howard was nominated for the Medal of Honor three times in just over a year. Read Howard’s Medal of Honor citation here.