Posted in Military History

Oct. 31: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of 1st Lt. Todd J. Bryant, who was killed by an improvised explosive device during a patrol in Fallujah, Iraq on this day in 2003. The 23-year-old native of Riverside, Calif. was assigned to 1st Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Infantry Division and is one of nine graduates of the U.S. Military Academy’s Class of 2002 who gave their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan.

1941: Although the United States has not yet entered the war, U.S. Naval vessels are serving as convoy escorts. When a German U-boat wolfpack attacks an Allied convoy near Iceland, the American destroyer USS Reuben James places itself between an incoming torpedo and an ammunition ship. The torpedo detonates the destroyer’s magazine, blowing the Reuben James in half. 115 sailors perish in the first sinking of a U.S. warship in World War II.

1943: Lt. Hugh D. O’Neill, flying at night in a specially modified F4U Corsair, shoots down a Japanese Betty bomber over Vella Lavella, scoring the first kill for the radar-equipped night fighters.

1966: While on a patrol mission of the Mekong Delta, two patrol boats of the Brown Water Navy are fired upon by Vietnamese sampans. When Petty Officer First Class James E. Williams gives chase, he discovers a hornet’s nest of enemy activity in the isolated section of the delta. During a three-hour battle with enemy boats and fortifications, Williams and his crew, supported by helicopter gunships, destroy 65 vessels and kill hundreds of the enemy force. For his role in the engagement, the Navy’s most-decorated enlisted sailor (having already received two Silver Stars and three Bronze Stars – all for valor – in addition to the Navy Cross) is awarded the Medal of Honor.

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Posted in Politics

We need Tom Mullikin in Washington

By Mike Thornton, U.S. Navy SEALs (Ret.)

As an American and a native South Carolinian (now living in Texas), the congressional race for the Palmetto State’s 5th district is very near and dear to me. It is for a number of reasons; not the least of which is I have family and friends in S.C., and whoever voters in the 5th district counties choose to elect to the office of U.S. Congressman, he or she must bring a strong voice and an aggressive proactive approach to the war on terror. And make no mistake, it is a war and the enemy is as committed a foe as this nation has ever faced.

That’s why we need strong, committed voices in Washington who will press to take the fight to the enemy, quashing his financing, his freedom of movement, his recruiting efforts, and his access to – and employment of – weapons of mass destruction.

We need Congressmen like Tom Mullikin who are best qualified to take this fight to the enemy. Why Mullikin? It’s simple. Mullikin has traveled the globe over the past 30 years – exploring many of the world’s most remote regions, advising U.S. and foreign government officials, and developing a unique experiential understanding of the critical need for energy security as being vital to national security.

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Posted in Military Roundup

Military Roundup

Iran: While our leadership appears willing to move mountains to work with the Iranians, Iran is busy teaching the Taliban how to murder our troops more effectively. It is important to note that the Sunni Taliban and the Shi’ite Iranians have little problem working together to kill our men and women. Meanwhile, Iranians are killing U.S. troops in Iraq.

Vets for Congress: Lt. Col. Bill Connor (U.S. Army Res.), who is running for Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, has earned a recent endorsement from retired Army Major General Paul Vallely. With leadership principles like “Mission first, men always,” and “leaders eat last,” it appears that the Palmetto State will be in good hands. Scores of other military members have endorsed Connor including 12 generals and all five of South Carolina’s living Medal of Honor recipients.

Lt. Col. Allen West (U.S. Army, retired) is running for U.S. Congress in Florida. Mike Thornton – one of the S.C. Medal recipients supporting Connor – has also endorsed Lt. Col. West, and will appear in two campaign events on Thursday, March 25.

This week in U.S. military history: Military Milestones from Guilford Courthouse to Iraq

65 years ago, the Battle of Iwo Jima was drawing to a close. The Medal of Honor citations for the battle can be viewed at Unto the Breach.

The first episode of HBO’s miniseries The Pacific is available for online viewing at

Israel has declassified materials that display multiple instances of Hamas terrorists using children as human shields during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza Strip, despite a U.N. report stating the exact opposite. Meanwhile, five Gaza rockets have hit Israel in the past 24 hours.

Following its first-ever vertical takeoff the day before, the F-35 Lightning II made its first-ever vertical landing on Thursday.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell update: In the military, male-on-male rapes reportedly occur more often than male-on-female rapes.

Afghanistan: Two Russian veterans of the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan seem to think that the Taliban can be bribed not to fight.

Posted in Military History

Michael Thornton appearing in Chicago

Michael Thornton
Michael Thornton

Medal of Honor recipient Michael Thornton will be appearing at the Pritzker Military Library in Chicago on November 19.

Thornton appeared along with fellow SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient Tom Norris (who pulled off one of the military’s most daring rescues, and whose life Thornton saved in 1972) appeared together at a similar event in 2006. Video and audio of the 2006 event are available from the library’s site, which I highly recommend that everyone watch.

Posted in Military History

Military Milestones from Humphrey’s Solo to Thornton’s Swim

In his “This Week in American Military History” series at Human Events this week, W. Thomas Smith Jr. mentions the anniversary of Navy SEAL Michael Thornton’s amazing battle with the North Vietnamese Army:

Oct. 31, 1972: U.S. Navy SEAL Petty Officer (future lieutenant) Michael E. Thornton; his commanding officer, Lt. Thomas R. Norris; and three South Vietnamese Naval commandos are conducting an intelligence-collection and prisoner-snatch operation deep behind enemy lines when they are discovered by a force that outnumbers them at least 10 to one.

Fierce, close fighting ensues. Thornton and Norris are both wounded, Norris badly.

As the team begins a fighting withdrawal toward the beach, Thornton learns that Norris is down, perhaps dead.

Thornton races back through a hailstorm of enemy fire to find and retrieve his commander — dead or alive.

Thornton finds Norris, kills two enemy soldiers who are standing over his wounded commander, then hoists Norris onto his shoulders and sprints back toward the beach for several hundred yards under heavy enemy fire.

When he hits the surf, Thornton ties Norris to his own body and starts swimming. When he sees one of the South Vietnamese commandos shot in the hip and unable to swim, Thornton grabs him too; swimming both men out to sea for more than two hours before they are rescued.

For his actions, Thornton will receive the Medal of Honor.

Norris will survive and receive the Medal himself for a previous action.

I did a radio show on Mike Thornton in January, and the transcript is available here.

The remainder of the article can be found at Human Events or by clicking below.

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Posted in Military History

Hall of Heroes: Mike Thornton

This is a transcript of the Unto the Breach program. Click here for the audio.

Mike Thornton

Today’s Hall of Heroes is a special one: Today we feature South Carolina native Mike Thornton. Thornton served several tours with the Navy SEALs during the Vietnam War. Thornton’s tale goes to who you what the people who serve our country are capable of.

By the fall of 1972, the U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia was winding down, and there were only three officers and nine enlisted SEALs left in Vietnam. The 23-year old Petty Officer Mike Thornton was one. The SEALs’ primary missions were rescuing downed American airmen and doing “sneak and peek” reconnaissance on the North Vietnamese Army’s advance into the south.

On October 31, a five-man SEAL patrol was ordered to conduct an intelligence gathering and prisoner capturing operation at the NVA-held Cua Viet River Base. The patrol was made up of three LDNN (South Vietnamese SEALs), Lieutenant Tom Norris, and Petty Officer Thornton. Both Thornton and Norris were experienced combat veterans. Just six months before, LT Norris had led an operation to rescue a pair of U.S. airmen who had been shot down in enemy territory, an action for which he would be awarded the Medal of Honor.

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Posted in Men of Valor

Michael E. Thornton Medal of Honor citation

Navy MOH Citation

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to




for service as set forth in the following


For The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Engineman First Class Michael Edwin Thornton, United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while participating in a daring operation against enemy forces in the Republic of Vietnam, 31 October 1972. Petty Officer Thornton, as Assistant U.S. Navy Advisor, along with a U.S. Navy lieutenant serving as Senior Advisor, accompanied a three-man Vietnamese Navy SEAL patrol on an intelligence gathering and prisoner capture operation against an enemy-occupied naval river base. Launched from a Vietnamese Navy junk in a rubber boat, the patrol reached land and was continuing on foot toward its objective when it suddenly came under heavy fire from a numerically superior force. The patrol called in naval gunfire support and then engaged the enemy in a fierce firefight, accounting for many enemy casualties before moving back to the waterline to prevent encirclement. Upon learning that the Senior Advisor had been hit by enemy fire and was believed to be dead, Petty Officer Thornton returned through a hail of fire to the lieutenant’s last position; quickly disposed of two enemy soldiers about to overrun the position, and succeeded in removing the seriously wounded and unconscious Senior Naval Advisor to the water’s edge. He then inflated the lieutenant’s lifejacket and towed him seaward for approximately two hours until picked up by support craft. By his extraordinary courage and perseverance, Petty Officer Thornton was directly responsible for saving the life of his superior officer and enabling the safe extraction of all patrol members, thereby upholding the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Born: March 23, 1949 in Greeneville, S.C…. Enlisted in 1967 and served multiple tours in Vietnam… Only Medal of Honor recipient to rescue another recipient –  fellow SEAL Lt. Thomas Norris… Presented medal by Pres. Richard Nixon at the White House on Oct. 15, 1973 with Lt. Norris in attendance… One of the original members of SEAL Team Six… Retired as lieutenant in 1992