Posted in Military History

This day in U.S. military history: Korean War launches and “Custer’s Last Stand”

Featured image: This photograph was taken through the periscope of U.S. submarine USS Nautilus (SS-168) after sinking Japanese destroyer Yamakaze 60 miles from Yokosuka, Japan on this date in 1942.

1864: Fighting at Petersburg (Va.) has reached a stalemate and Lt. Col. Henry Pleasants comes up with an idea. Soldiers of the 48th Pennsylvania Regiment – mostly coal miners before the war – begin construction of a 500-foot long underground shaft. Once the soldier-miners reach enemy trench line on July 30, they detonate the gunpowder and blow a hole in the Rebel trenches, instantly killing nearly 300 Confederate troops. Unfortunately for the Yankees, they are unable to quickly exploit the breach and Brig. Gen. William Mahone seals the hole and defeats the Union assault.

1876: In southeastern Montana Territory, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s 7th Cavalry Regiment squares off against thousands of allied Lakota and Cheyenne Indian warriors under the command of Crazy Horse and Chief Gall in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The Americans are encircled and annihilated. Custer, his two brothers, a nephew, and a brother-in-law are among the 268 Americans killed in action.

“Custer’s Last Stand” is the greatest defeat for the Americans during the Great Plains War.

1942: Maj. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower arrives in London and is named Commander of U.S. Forces in Europe, despite having no combat experience in his 27-year career. Continue reading “This day in U.S. military history: Korean War launches and “Custer’s Last Stand””

Posted in Military History

Congressman, Civil Rights activist, Lt. Gov. join hands in racial reconciliation

CAMDEN AND CHARLESTON, S.C. – U.S Congressman Trey Gowdy (standing) joined famed Civil Rights activist Dr. Cleveland Sellers, S.C. Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette, and nearly 100 guests for a reception and dinner at the home of Tom and Virginia Ann Mullikin in Camden, Mon., June 17.

The dinner was attended by numerous state legislators, members of the judiciary, business leaders and others (pictured L-R are Sellers, Gowdy, Mullikin, and Evette). The evening concluded with a vigil memorializing the nine persons slain at Charleston’s historic Emanuel AME Church exactly four years earlier; and served as the kickoff event for the 2nd annual RECONCILIATION RIDE from Columbia to Charleston.

“We began this two-day memorial event last year in honor of my very good friend, the late S.C. Senator Clementa Pickney, who was among the nine victims of that terrible attack in 2015,” says Mullikin. “We established the Reconciliation Ride as a means of advancing racial reconciliation and engaging all in this complex, difficult and necessary conversation going forward.”

Three separate destination-events followed Wed., June 18, including a tour of the University of South Carolina’s Civil Rights Exhibit in Columbia. Guests then boarded a chartered bus for a short journey to – and a tour of – the historic Liberty Hill AME church enroute to Charleston. Arriving in Charleston, guests enjoyed a visit to Emanuel AME Church followed by dinner and a memorial service. Continue reading “Congressman, Civil Rights activist, Lt. Gov. join hands in racial reconciliation”

Posted in Military History

What was it REALLY like during the first wave on Omaha Beach?

In 1960, The Atlantic published an article by Army historian Brig. Gen. S.L.A. Marshall shedding light on the absolute nightmare that faced the first wave of soldiers landing on OMAHA Beach on D-Day. If you read nothing else this summer, find some time and a quiet place, sit down and read Gen. Marshall’s entire piece. The beaches of Normandy weren’t anything like what we watched in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN; the first waves of soldiers — if they weren’t killed by enemy fire while still on the landing craft, drowned in the surf, or mowed down by machineguns — were utterly exhausted and suffering from shock once they made it to shore. Entire units were wiped from existence.

What follows is an account of just one unit: the 116th Infantry Regiment’s Able Company, tasked with taking DOG GREEN Sector below Vierville-sur-Mer.

Able Company riding the tide in seven Higgins boats is still five thousand yards from the beach when first taken under artillery fire. The shells fall short. At one thousand yards, Boat No. 5 is hit dead on and foundered. Six men drown before help arrives. Second Lieutenant Edward Gearing and twenty others paddle around until picked up by naval craft, thereby missing the fight at the shore line. It’s their lucky day. The other six boats ride unscathed to within one hundred yards of the shore, where a shell into Boat No. 3 kills two men. Another dozen drown, taking to the water as the boat sinks. That leaves five boats.

Lieutenant Edward Tidrick in Boat No. 2 cries out: “My God, we’re coming in at the right spot, but look at it! No shingle, no wall, no shell holes, no cover. Nothing!”

His men are at the sides of the boat, straining for a view of the target. They stare but say nothing. At exactly 6:36 A.M. ramps are dropped along the boat line and the men jump off in water anywhere from waist deep to higher than a man’s head. This is the signal awaited by the Germans atop the bluff. Already pounded by mortars, the floundering line is instantly swept by crossing machine-gun fires from both ends of the beach.

Able Company has planned to wade ashore in three files from each boat, center file going first, then flank files peeling off to right and left. The first men out try to do it but are ripped apart before they can make five yards. Even the lightly wounded die by drowning, doomed by the waterlogging of their overloaded packs. From Boat No. 1, all hands jump off in water over their heads. Most of them are carried down. Ten or so survivors get around the boat and clutch at its sides in an attempt to stay afloat. The same thing happens to the section in Boat No. 4. Half of its people are lost to the fire or tide before anyone gets ashore. All order has vanished from Able Company before it has fired a shot. Continue reading “What was it REALLY like during the first wave on Omaha Beach?”

Posted in Military History

A Tribute to my father on the 75th anniversary of the NORMANDY INVASION

By Tom Mullikin

[A version of this story was published by Canada Free Press, July 27, 2010.]

NORMANDY, FRANCE – A cold, rainy day greets my wife and me. The day is July 14, 2010. It’s a day, weatherwise, that might have easily resembled the conditions encountered by Allied soldiers as they fought their way from the sea onto the enemy held shoreline, followed by the inexorable grind inland toward the goal of ending the tyranny of Nazi Germany.

More than 66 years after the Normandy Invasion, June 6, 1944 [today on the 75th anniversary of that invasion], we begin our journey attempting to get our heads around the experiences of my father, Charlie Mullikin, an American soldier who landed here on the Normandy coast and was ultimately wounded in action.

On this day, we are enjoying SCUBA diving onto many the great shipwrecks lying offshore. White caps are pounding our small rubber Zodiac boat. Visibility is near zero—no more than five feet at best. I can only imagine the violent and terrible cold shock to those American, British, and Canadian soldiers carrying their packs, weapons, and ammunition through the bloody, churning surf.

I am also reminded of the Navy frogmen, predecessors to our modern Navy SEALs, who suffered 50-percent casualties as they removed the defensive obstacles placed on the beach and in the surf by the Germans.

I made this trek to celebrate my 50th birthday. More importantly, I wanted to recognize the price of freedom and remember the selfless contributions made by my father and other citizen soldiers of his era—appropriately christened, “The Greatest Generation.”

 Continue reading “A Tribute to my father on the 75th anniversary of the NORMANDY INVASION”

Posted in Articles Military

Double-amputee Marine completes brutal Recon Challenge

[Originally published at OpsLens.com]

How would you like to volunteer for a 30-mile mountain hike in sunny southern California? What if you also had to carry a rifle and 50-pound rucksack? What if I told you there would also be a 1,000-yard ocean swim, along with marksmanship events, underwater challenges, and plenty of other obstacles along the way?

If you answered “yes,” you must be a Recon Marine. Each year, teams of Marines travel to Camp Pendleton to participate in the grueling Recon Challenge to honor their fallen brothers. One of the Marines that participated in this year’s event was Jonathon Blank, formerly of 3rd Platoon, 1st Reconnaissance Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. In 2010, an improvised explosive device took off both of Sgt. Blank’s legs during an operation in Afghanistan. Nearly ten years later, Blank and several brothers from his former platoon reunited to tackle the event, utilizing a specially made pack to carry Blank. We recently caught up with this highly motivated (now medically retired) Marine who provided some insight into his incredible feat.

Staff Sgt. Jonathon Blank (front row) and fellow Marines. (Photo courtesy of Mr. Blank)

CHRIS CARTER: The Recon Challenge sounds like an Ironman Triathlon on steroids. What inspired you and your teammates to participate?

JONATHON BLANK: As Reconnaissance Marines we thrive on challenges and pushing past limitations set down by others. Members of our platoon have competed in every Recon Challenge since its inception. We had talked about it for many years; it was just a matter of getting the team together, working around everyone’s busy careers and private lives. Plus, many members of my former platoon are still active duty Reconnaissance Marines. We knew it would be brutal considering I weighed around 150lbs with all my gear. It sounded like an awesome challenge that would bring us together in a unique reunion. Nothing brings guys together like mutual pain, suffering, and teamwork. Everyone agreed it would be a great time! Continue reading “Double-amputee Marine completes brutal Recon Challenge”

Posted in Baseball Military History

Military veterans of Major League Baseball

Thousands of Major League Baseball players have answered the nation’s call, serving in two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, and peacetime. The following is a brief list of players who served in the United States Armed Forces, and will be added to frequently.

Phil Rizzuto

Hall of Fame Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto led a 20mm gun crew in the Pacific during World War II and played baseball for the Navy while he recovered from contracting malaria in New Guinea.

[Click the navigation menu below for more baseball players that served our country]

Posted in Military History

Today in U.S. military history: ‘Chips’ and ‘The King’

[Featured image: “Chips,” a military police sentry dog with the 3rd Infantry Division, earned the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart during World War II. (U.S. Army photo)]

1865: Desperate for manpower on the front lines, the Confederate government approves enlisting and arming slaves. Although Gen. Robert E. Lee requested that slaves who fought should be granted freedom, the bill did not allow such a provision. A few thousand slaves would go on to fight for the Confederacy; over 200,000 blacks fought for the Union.

1942: The U.S. Army establishes the “K-9 Corps” – training dogs to serve in sentry, scout, messenger, and mine detection duties during World War II. The Quartermaster Corps puts the dogs through an 8-12 week basic training at camps across the United States, weeding out the animals who can’t handle the sound of gunfire or handle the military lifestyle. Starting with 32 acceptable breeds, the Army eventually cuts down the list to seven: German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Belgian Sheep Dogs, Siberian huskies, farm collies, Eskimo dogs, and Malamutes.

Military dogs during training at Camp Atterbury, Ind. (U.S. Army photo)

Some even serve on the front lines. The Japanese are said to have never attacked a patrol accompanied by a war dog. A German Shepherd named “Chips” serving with a military police company on Sicily attacked a German pillbox, forcing the occupants to surrender. Wounded in his attack, Chips was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star.

Continue reading “Today in U.S. military history: ‘Chips’ and ‘The King’”

Posted in Military History

Today in U.S. military history: Boy Scouts go to war – and the moon, Cpl. Huff’s Medal of Honor

Today’s post is in honor of Cpl. Nathan B. Carse, who was killed by an improvised explosive device on this day in 2011 in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province. The 32-year-old native of Harrod, Ohio was the son of a Green Beret and was assigned to 2d Engineer Battalion, 176th Engineer Brigade.


1862: A day after 10,000 soldiers under the command of Brig. Gen. Ambrose Burnside, supported by a flotilla of Union gunships, land at Roanoke Island (N.C.), the Confederates surrender the island’s four forts and two batteries. Federal forces now control a strategically significant section of the Atlantic coast, and coupled with Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s victory at Fort Henry in Tennessee two days ago, Northerners finally have something to cheer about.

1910: William D. Boyce incorporates the Boy Scouts of America. Countless boys will cut their teeth as young adventurers in Boyce’s scouting program before joining the military. When sub commander Eugene Fluckey – one of nine Medal of Honor recipients to earn the Boy Scouts’ top distinction of Eagle Scout — assembled a landing party to go ashore and destroy a Japanese train, he wanted former Boy Scouts to do the job, since they would most likely have the skills to find their way there and back.

11 of the 12 humans to set foot on the moon were Boy Scout alumni; and Neil Armstrong — the first — was an Eagle Scout.

Continue reading “Today in U.S. military history: Boy Scouts go to war – and the moon, Cpl. Huff’s Medal of Honor”