Posted in Military History

50 years ago: Lost and found dog tags

While reading a 50-year-old 25th Infantry Division newsletter I came across an incredible story about lost — and found — dog tags.

Most of us have at one time or another lost something and at a later date accidentally discovered it again.

But not everyone experiences the likes of the identification tag problems of 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry Warriors Specialist 4 Jerry Smith and Private First Class George B. Tullas.

While assigned to the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23rd Infantry, Smith, of Jonesboro, Ark., lost his ID tags in the Crescent area near Tay Ninh City. The tags were lost in February near the Cambodian Border.

Five months later, while the Warriors were securing Highway 6A, Smith’s ID tags were found in the possession of a Vietnamese child outside of Trang Bang. Specialist Tony DeBlasio of Elmira, N. Y., noticed the tags. After recognizing the name of his fellow Warrior, DeBlasio checked out the service number, which cinched the case. Continue reading “50 years ago: Lost and found dog tags”

Posted in Military History

4 September: Today in U.S. military history

Surrender ceremony on Wake Island, 1945

Today’s post is in honor of Capt. Raymond P. Salzarulo, Jr. who was killed when his F-4C Phantom was shot down by an enemy surface-to-air missile over North Vietnam on this day in 1966. Although no parachutes were spotted, Salzarulo’s pilot, 1st Lt. John H. Nasmyth Jr., survived and spent the next 2,355 days as a prisoner of war. Salzarulo, a native of Hollansbee, W. Va. and a graduate of the Air Force Academy (Class of ’64), served with the famed 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron out of Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base. Originally listed as missing in action, his remains were identified in 1990 and he is buried next to the headstone for his father Ray Sr., a LB-30 Liberator pilot who was lost in an attack on the retreating Japanese fleet after the Battle of Midway, at Arlington National Cemetery.
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Posted in Military History

28 August: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Chief Warrant Officer 4 Dennis H. Laffick of the Oklahoma National Guard who was killed on this day in 1995 when his OH-58 Kiowa helicopter struck power lines during a counter-drug operation in Bixby, Okla.. The 48-year-old Chicago native previously served with the 114th Aviation Helicopter Company in Vietnam and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


1862: One year after the Confederacy’s “glorious but dear-bought victory” over the Union in the First Battle of Bull Run, the two (significantly larger) armies meet again on the same battleground. 70,000 soldiers of Union Maj. Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia engage Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s 50,000-man Army of Northern Virginia, resulting in heavy casualties on both sides. Maj. Gen. James Longstreet’s five divisions (25,000 men) execute the largest mass assault of the war, smashing their opponents’ left flank and forcing and the Union to once again withdraw.

1944: Army Air Force pilots Maj. Joseph Myers and 2nd Lt. Manford Croy, Jr., flying P-47 Thunderbolts, become the first fighter pilots to score a victory over a jet aircraft when they shoot down German pilot Hieronymus Lauer’s Me 262.

Meanwhile, the First Army crosses the Marne River in France just days after the liberation of Paris, and to the south, the coastal towns of Marseilles and Toulon surrender to the Allies.

1945: An advance party of 150 soldiers – the first American troops to set foot in Japan – land at the naval airfield at Atsugi to prepare for the 11th Airborne Division’s arrival in two days.

1952: Off the Korean coast, USS Boxer launches the first “guided missile” ever fired from an aircraft carrier – a radio-controlled F6F-5K Hellcat fighter fitted with 1,000-lb. bombs. A pilot controlled the drone, which was fitted with a TV camera, from a two-seat AD-2Q Skyraider. Of the six drones launched by Boxer, only one will reach its target.

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Posted in Military History

27 August: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Army PFC Tan Q. Ngo, who was killed on this day in 2008 when his mounted patrol was hit with enemy small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Ngo (20, of Beaverton, Ore.) was serving with 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment out of Hohenfels, Germany.


1776: Five days after 15,000 British soldiers land on Long Island, Gen. William Howe’s forces attack the Patriots garrisoned at Brooklyn Heights. Gen. George Washington’s troops are flanked by the Redcoats during the first major battle of the Revolutionary War and suffer some 2,000 casualties before retreating to their redoubt at Brooklyn.

Rather than press the attack and smash the rebellion, Howe ordered his troops to prepare for a siege. However, in two days, the entire 10,000-man army slips through the Royal Navy stationed along the East River and evacuates (with their arms and supplies) to Manhattan. Washington is the last man to leave. While New York City falls into enemy hands, the patriots have survived to fight another day.

1918:  (Featured image) U.S. and Mexican Army soldiers, along with militia and armed civilians, clash along the border between Nogales, Ariz. and Nogales, Mexico. A handful of U.S. soldiers are killed and over 100 Mexicans, but the battle is over when the Americans seize the high ground overlooking the two Nogales on the Mexican side.

Following the battle, a chain-link fence is installed, splitting the two towns and becoming the first permanent border fence between the United States and Mexico.

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Real American Heroes: the ‘trash haulers’ of 374th Tactical Airlift Wing

In April 1972, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) launched its Easter Offensive — the largest military invasion since China crossed the Yalu River during the Korean War. American military presence in Vietnam had largely been reduced to air power, and the 5th Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam'(ARVN) was soon surrounded by three enemy divisions at An Loc, the capital of Binh Phuoc province. The only shot the defenders had at victory would be through the devastating firepower of U.S. Air Force B-52s and AC-130 gunships, but in order to survive, they would need the unsung heroes referred to as “trash haulers” — C-130 crews flying in ammunition and badly needed supplies.

The roads to An Loc were cut so the defenders had to rely on aerial resupply. The drop zone was in such a small area (a soccer field), in close proximity to what one crew member described as the “deadliest concentration of antiaircraft fire ever seen in South Vietnam.” Vietnamese Air Force C-123 pilots, used to daylight drops in far less challenging situations, couldn’t put the supplies on target, so the job went to the better trained American crews.

Two Vietnamese C-123s were shot down and several American C-130s were badly damaged during the campaign.¬† NVA gunfire was so deadly that air crews began building custom armor to improve their chances of surviving the flight. On 15 April, the enemy guns tore through the belly of a C-130 flown by Capt. William Caldwell, killing the engineer, Tech. Sgt. Jon Sanders¬† and wounding two crew members. Also hit was the 27,000-pound load of ammunition, which caught fire. Loadmaster Staff Sgt. Charles Shaub quickly jettisoned the pallets, which exploded almost instantly after leaving the plane, then fought a raging fire which burned him badly. Although two of the Hercules’ four engines were no longer operable, Caldwell limped the broken bird back to Tan Son Nhut Air Base. The landing gear had to be extended manually and the C-130 lost one of its two functioning engines just before landing. Caldwell and Shaub were both awarded the Air Force Cross for their superb airmanship.

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