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Photography by John Michael

"Preserving the memories so others will remember"™

Defenders Day at Fort McHenry 09 SEP 2017

A Historic Celebration – Fortified!

 

Fort-McHenry-aerial

 

 

Celebrated annually to commemorate the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, Defenders Day is a Maryland holiday celebrated in 2017 on 12 September in which Fort McHenry played a pivotal role in the success of that battle.  The British with their array of warships in the harbor bombarded the fort repeatedly during the battle.   The soldiers of the fort responded in kind with a steady barrage and the Americans were victorious.


On one of those British ships was an American lawyer, who was aboard on a mission to release some prisoners takenFort McHenry Stars and Stripes by the British.  Unfortunately, or perhaps very fortunately, he was kept aboard the ship when the bombardment commenced.  It lasted through the night and when dawn broke, the “Stars and Stripes” were still flying over the fort.  He was so moved by the sight of his young nation’s flag, that he penned a four-verse poem.

The name of the lawyer?  Francis Scott Key.   The poem that he wrote? Defense of Fort M’Henry It became known as “The Star-Spangled Banner” – the national anthem of the United States of America.

 

 


 

Something Special for 2017

This year’s celebration was held on Saturday,  09  SEP 2017 and included the participation of the US Army Band (TUSAB) – “Pershing’s Own” and the Presidential Salute Battery of the 3d Infantry Regiment – “The Old Guard” It is the oldest infantry regiment in the US Army with origins back to 1784 – America’s First Regiment!

The Presidential Salute Battery of The Old Guard – 3d Infantry US Army was at Fort McHenry for Defenders Day, the video was captured by COL Jason Garkey, Regimental Commander of America’s Regiment … HOOAH! GUNS RUN LONG!

The Star-Spangled Banner celebrated a centennial in 2016,  for it was in 1916 President Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order making it the national anthem of the United States of America.

 

Here are the words penned by Francis Scott Key:


 

Defense of Fort M’Henry

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
’Tis the star-spangled banner—O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

 

 

Learn more about Fort McHenry and its history told in historic images.


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Posted 1 month, 1 week ago at 6:43 am.

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The Most Dangerous Man in America

September 2, 1945, on the USS Missouri

all the world was on alert …

 

Serendipity is key in my exploring.  Those that know me, know that I nearly always have something to read in my hands, be it a book, a newsletter, a pamphlet, phone or …  I am a voracious reader.  It was something instilled in me by my family.   Many years ago, my parents signed me up for a “Book of the Month” club for young readers.  The books — there were two that arrived each month — were devoured immediately after arrival and finished off in a few days.  Sometime later, I received a letter in the mail from the club President — sending his regrets — I had exhausted their entire collection and they would not be sending me any more books.   So I discovered libraries and now it’s rare that I will leave these cathedrals of knowledge without at least a few books.

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Posted 1 month, 2 weeks ago at 6:02 am.

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Remember … Why We Celebrate Memorial Day

National Medal Honor Day Wreath Laying Ceremony

Wreath Laying Ceremony

REMEMBER…

ALMIGHTY GOD, WE GATHER TODAY ACROSS AMERICA, VERY MINDFUL OF THE COST PAID FOR THE FREEDOM WE ENJOY. WE GATHER ON THESE HALLOWED GROUNDS PARTICULARLY TO REMEMBER AND TO HONOR, WITH SINGULAR DEVOTION, MEN AND WOMEN OF IGNOBLE CLAYLIKE LIKE OURS WHO ROSE ABOVE THEIR HUMAN CONDITION WITH NOBLE HEARTS AND STEADFAST WILL. DESPITE THE BREVITY OR OF SECURITY OF THEIR LIVES, DIGNIFIED OUR HUMANITY AND THE PROFESSION OF ARMS, BY CHOOSING TO STAND FOR SOMETHING. WHO DECLARED WITH THEIR ACTIONS, THAT PRESERVING FREEDOM WAS A CAUSE TO LIVE FOR, TO SERVE FOR, AND EVEN TO DIE FOR. BLESS OUR COMMEMORATION HERE AND ALL OF ITS PARTICIPANTS, MAINTENANCE OF SERVANTS RENDER HONOR TO THOSE WHO REMEMBER — WE REMEMBER. FOR WHAT THEY GAIN, THEY DESERVE MORE THAN WE CAN GIVE. WE ASK YOU LORD, TO BESTOW UPON THEM THE GIFT THAT THIS WORLD CANNOT GIVE. GRANT OF THE PEACE THAT THEY FELT SO ELUSIVE IN THIS LIFE, AND LET THAT PEACE BE FULL AND EVERLASTING. AMEN.

— Chaplain Gary R. Studniewski

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Posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago at 10:49 am.

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John Michael – Appointed to Colonel of Rangers

FORT BELVOIR, VA – A New Colonel of Rangers

SATURDAY 22 APR 2017

A Colonel of Rangers Awarded

It came as a very pleasant surprise that John Michael was awarded a distinguished rank of Colonel of Rangers within the Mosby Rangers after delivering an outstanding briefing about Fort Myer and the unique book “Images of America – Fort Myer” to an audience of nearly one hundred of the 310th TAACOM at their annual meeting at the Fort Belvoir Officers Club.

The Evolving Fort Myer Briefing

Even before it was published, John Michael developed and presented a briefing about the then upcoming book “Images of America – Fort Myer”.  Over time, the briefing has remained fresh and vibrant to tell the story of the “Center of Innovation” – Fort Myer.  Its life began over 150 years ago when it was first known as Fort Whipple – designed by General John Gross Barnard, class of 1833 West Point.  The fort was part of the seventy plus fortifications that comprised the Defenses of Washington. He designed most of them.  Fort Myer, renamed in honor of General Albert J. Myer, who was the first chief signal officer of the US Army, is still carrying on its mission some near 160 years later of defending the Capital City.

Have Briefing Will Travel

Over the years, John Michael has had the distinct privilege of delivering the briefing about Fort Myer among many to include The Rocks of Washington DC,  Military Order of World Wars, the 3d Infantry Regiment – The Old Guard, 441st Counterintelligence Corps, Military Officers Association of America, Elder Study Group of Mary Washington University, Throckmorton Library of Fort Bragg, Monarch at Sea Pines and many more.

310th TAACOM

 As the 310th Theater Army Area Command, the senior combat service support element of the Army Reserve, was headquartered at the John S. Mosby Army Reserve Center at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The 310th Theater Army Area Command was the all-important backstage player making sure those out front had everything they needed to succeed. The 310th Theater Army Area Command had units in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. These included the 55th Materiel Management center, the 4th Movements Region, the 300th Area Support Group, the 131st Chaplain Support Team, and the 201st Public Affairs Detachment.

Deploying in support of real-world missions had already been becoming more and more common for Army Reservists by the 1990s. In late 1996, the 310th Theater Army Area Command deployed about 115 Reservists from 5 of its subordinate units, including the 4th Movements Region, 201st Public Affairs Detachment, 55th Materiel Management Center, 300th Area Support Group, and 2 detachments from the Command’s headquarters. The 201st Public Affairs Detachment, a 310th Theater Support Command (Provisional) unit, deployed to support the 1st Armored Division in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, during Operation Joint Endeavor. The unit returned home on 13 February 1997 after an 8-month deployment.

TAACOM’s Distinctive Unit Insignia

310th SustainmentCommand

Description/Blazon

A gold color metal and enamel device consisting of a background saltirewise blue and scarlet bearing at the center a gray confederate cavalry hat with a black band and plume on a white saltire with lower ends passing under and upper ends extending slightly beyond a gold, all enclosing, triple folded scroll inscribed “VICTORY THROUGH SUPPORT” in black letters.

Symbolism

The plumed gray confederate cavalry hat alludes to Colonel Mosby, CSA and his Rangers after whom the John Singleton Mosby USAR Center in Alexandria, Virginia, was named and where the unit was formerly located. The saltire is a symbol of support; the saltire also appeared on the Confederate Battle Flag and in this instance refers to Virginia, the area in which Mosby and his Rangers operated. Blue, red, and white are the National colors.

Background

The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the 310th Field Army Support Command on 8 May 1973. It was redesignated for the 310th Support Command (Theater Army Area) on 10 May 1982. The insignia was redesignated effective 16 September 2007, for the 310th Sustainment Command with description and symbolism updated.

Colonel of Rangers Awarded

After a successful briefing of the 310th TAACOM unit, John Michael was then awarded the rank of Colonel of Rangers within the Mosby Rangers.  The replica of the certificate is below.
MOSBY'S RANGERS - Colonel of Rangers

Fort Lesley J. McNair

John Michael is also the author of another outstanding book about the 3rd oldest US Army Post – since 1791 –  “Images of America  – Fort Lesley J. McNair”   –   Purchase an autographed copy on his website.

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Posted 5 months, 4 weeks ago at 2:17 pm.

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Farrier’s Daughters Return to Fort Myer

15 APR 2017 – Fort Myer, Caisson Stables

The past history of the US Army has a deep reliance upon the horse. That past was celebrated when Fort Myer was designated in 1887 through general order to become the showcase for the cavalry.  General Philip H Sheridan had the vision and the US Army had the horses among the cavalry and field artillery.  And the post became that showcase with the numerous cavalry and field artillery units. They were occupying the historic acres which once was part of the Custis-Lee estate.  Fort Myer still celebrates that legacy with the Caisson Platoon of the 3d Infantry – The Old Guard.

Caretakers of Some Equine Celebrities

The Caisson Platoon, besides having the distinction of being the only remaining US Army platoon with horses, has another. Over time it has cared for some major celebrity horses.

When the Army Moved by Horse

From 1908 until 1948 the US Army Remount Service was activated to provide the horses and mules needed by various parts of the army, mostly the cavalry and field artillery. Several “remount depots” were activated across the United States.  Among them were:

The last one and largest at 22,000 acres is where “Blackjack” was foaled.  He was the last of the remount horses.  Named after General John J “Blackjack” Pershing, he wore the brand of his Army serial number 2V56 on the left side of his neck.  His role was as a caparisoned (riderless) horse. His celebrity came from among the more than 1,000 full honor funerals, the most visible of them was the state funeral for President John F Kennedy.   Blackjack is buried in a special grave on the east side of Summerall Field on Fort Myer, VA

A Man on a White Horse

On 19 MAY 1964, Warrant Officer McKinney mounted Conversano Beja and rode out of Madison Garden in New York City.  The Spanish Riding School of Vienna Austria had just donated this white stallion to the US Army.  It was in appreciation of saving of the horses toward the end of WW II.   General George S Patton, Jr. authorized a mission to rescue the Lipizzaner horses from the Nazis. Over the next years, Conversano Beja participated in events with the Caisson Platoon.  Upon the horse’s passing, it was also buried on Fort Myer.

It’s More Than Ketchup

For many years, the H. J. Heinz Company utilized a team of eight Percheron horses combined with an antique wagon as part of their ongoing marketing campaign.  On 16 AUG 2007 that all changed when the company donated the horses to the US Army with the Caisson Platoon of the Old Guard as the caretakers   Since then, the horses have provided service during the many funerals at Arlington National Cemetery.  One of them, named Klinger has even been honored with his own book.

 

3d Infantry Caisson Platoon – An Open House

The Old Guard’s Caisson Platoon had their “Spring Open House” with over 1,400 people attending throughout the event.  The day, however, began with a strong look back in history thanks to the daughters of a 3rd Cavalryman while George S. Patton, Jr was commander of both Fort Myer and the 3rd Cavalry Regiment.

Historic Revisit to Fort Myer

The last time they were on the post is when they were young girls and the MPs chased them away from the apple trees. Elaine Weber and her sister Joan returned to Fort Myer to make a donation of memorabilia and an album of their father’s photos from that era – including among them was the 16th Field Artillery which shared Fort Myer with the “Brave Rifles “ of the 3rd Cavalry  Their father was a farrier.  In February 1942 when the 3rd Cavalry was sent to Fort Oglethorpe to get mechanized, the farrier and his family headed south with the regiment.

CPT Austin Hatch awards Elaine Weber a Caisson Challenge Coin

 

PAGES AND PAGES of PHOTOS

Part of the time spent included a look back of decades ago showing glimpses of when the horse was a main “resident” of Fort Myer.  The Old Guard Soldiers of the Caisson Platoon enjoyed examining another chapter of their history – those that preceded them.

 

CPT Austin Hatch awarded Elaine Weber the Caisson Platoon’s challenge coin in appreciation of her selfless gift and her father’s service to the United States.

The Farrier’s Daughters with some members of the Caisson Platoon

John Michael Sees Stars – 48 of them!

During the Caisson Open House, John Michael was awarded the 48-star American colors by Elaine Weber.

 

More about the Military Horse

An excellent book about the horse Blackjack

 

Rescue of the Lipizzaner Stallions

 

Klinger – A Caisson Platoon Horse

 

 

Mounting the Cavalry with America’s Finest Horses

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Posted 6 months ago at 1:28 pm.

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ARMY MAGAZINE JANUARY 2017

ARMY MAGAZINE JANUARY 2017

Starting 2017 – ARMY Magazine January 2017

It is an honor to announce a recent profile in this wonderful magazine of the Association of the US Army written by Chuck Vinch which highlights some of my current projects.  I look back at the last 16 plus years and cherish the time I’ve been allowed to spend

I look back at the last 16 plus years and cherish the time I’ve been allowed to spend among the US military –  from the US Army’s Special Forces, the 3d Infantry Regiment – “The Old Guard” and its fine soldiers along with the specialty platoons – Presidential Salute Battery,  Caisson Platoon.  Then there’s the Golden Knights – The US Army’s Ambassadors from the Sky – several rides in their airplane and BLUE, BLUE SKIES!   The US Army Band – TUSAB – “Pershing’s Own” and so much more.

I’ve highlighted two gems of the US Army’s crown in the books I’ve written:

and this website continues to deliver some of the unique items I find along the way

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Posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago at 3:47 pm.

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Senator Cotton Speaks to the Society of the Honor Guard

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Tom Cotton It was COL Neale Crosby who wrote some very touching words about “Why We Guard the Tomb” Recently Senator Tom Cotton shared the following words with the Sentinels who have and are guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns:

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Posted 11 months ago at 2:37 pm.

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Special Forces Honors President John F Kennedy

A SPECIAL Special Forces Invite

invite to JFK honor by Special Forces

 

Earlier in October 2016, I received an email from the US Army Special Forces for the annual honoring of JFK at Arlington National Cemetery.  Something that reflects the strong bond even until now between the “silent professionals” and the President.

SF invite to JFK event

Wednesday 19 October 2016 – JFK is Honored

Surrounded by a cordon of US Army Special Forces Soldiers in commemoration of how they honored the fallen President in 1963, the Deputy Commander of the 1st Special Forces Regiment,  Brigadier General E. John Deedrick, Jr., Deputy Commanding General, 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) and invited guests placed a wreath at JFK’s grave and final resting place within Arlington National Cemetery.  As in 1963 Soldiers from the 3d Infantry Regiment – “The Old Guard” and the US Army Band – “Pershing’s Own” complemented the military contingent – also reminisce of  the 1963 final honors of the President.

 

Tradition Began in 1963

The origins of the connection of JFK and the US Army Special Forces began on 12  OCTOBER 1961 when the President met then BG William P Yarborough, who was at that time Commander of the 1st Special Forces Regiment at a ceremony held at McKellar’s Pond on Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  JFK was exposed to a comprehensive display of the Special Forces capabilities that afternoon after a morning spent among the 82d Airborne Division and their soldiers.

The arrangements for JFK to see the Special Forces was arranged through a back channel plan by then MG Chester Clifton and then BG William P Yarborough.  Since the President had back issues, the Soldiers with their specialties were paraded in front of him while they were on flatbed trucks.  At the end, the Special Forces Soldiers assembled in formation, removed their duty caps and donned their green berets.  General Yarborough went up to the President with his headgear – the green beret.   It was later that a Presidential Order came out that authorized that the Special Forces were offered the distinction of wearing the green beret.

When JFK was assassinated in November 1963, Robert Kennedy, brother of JFK called down to Fort Bragg requesting that a funeral detail of Special Forces Soldiers be included in the President’s final honors.  Among the 46 men chosen for the final honors, was SGM Francis J. Ruddy.  After the final honors were concluded, SGM Ruddy approached the casket of the President, removed his green beret and placed it on the casket rendering honors to his fallen Commander-in-Chief.

That strong connection between the 1st Special Forces and JFK is maintained with an annual wreath laying in Arlington National Cemetery at JFK’s grave.

 

Honoring JFK

P.S.   Yes, that is my latest challenge coin awarded by Brigadier General E. John Deedrick, Jr.

 

Special Forces Honors President John F Kennedy

 PART 2

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Posted 12 months ago at 11:12 pm.

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National Medal of Honor Day 2016

National Medal of Honor Day

National Medal of Honor Day

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Posted 1 year, 6 months ago at 6:09 am.

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Remembering Patton

We Lost A Hero Today – Patton Dies

It was 21 December 1945 when GEN George S. Patton Jr. died from the injuries he sustained in an automobile accident.  Seven decades have passed since that day.  He was buried with full military honors on Christmas Eve day at The Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial is located in Hamm, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg in Belgium.

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Posted 1 year, 10 months ago at 7:37 am.

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