Photography by John Michael

"Preserving the memories so others will remember"™

Defenders Day at Fort McHenry 09 SEP 2017

A Historic Celebration – Fortified!





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.


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Posted 5 months, 1 week ago at 6:43 am.

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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 1 year, 1 month ago at 3:47 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



Posted 1 year, 4 months ago at 11:12 pm.

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Who Was General Lesley J. McNair

Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair was commander of ground forces during WW II.  He was killed in France during that war and his remains stayed in France, Where he trained the troops for that war is the only US Army Post in Washington, DC  and is named in his honor.

Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair

Images of America - Fort Lesley J McNair

ON POINT is the Journal of the Army Historical Foundation. The Summer 2016 issue of the journal from the Army Historical Foundation contains a review of the book by John Michael “Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair”  Beginning in 1791 when Major Charles Pierre L’Enfant designed the New Capital City of Washington DC.  It began as “Reservation #05”  – only 28 acres where a single artillery tube with earthworks was placed to defend the Capital City.  Over time, the US Army Post was known by many different names – During the Civil War it was Washington Arsenal and where the first federal penitentiary was built – the location of where the Lincoln Assassination conspirators were incarcerated, tried and hanged.  Later it became Washington Barracks and site of the US Army Engineering Schools.  When Roosevelt Hall was built, it became the home of the US Army War College.  A brief time, it was named Fort Humphreys and finally Fort Lesley J. McNair.   Home to the National Defense University and its colleges – including the National War College.  It is also where the Military District of Washington is headquartered and the US Army Center of Military History occupies a building that was first the Quartermaster stables then the post’s movie theater.  When the US Army abandoned Fort Hunt Virginia, the US Army Band – “Pershing’s Own” and the US Army Music School was located at Washington Barracks (Fort Lesley J. McNair) before relocated to Fort Myer by the order of General George C Marshall. Likewise, for many years after the regiment was re-activated in 1948, Alpha and Echo Companies of the 3d Infantry – “The Old Guard” were stationed here.


You can read the review here at the Historic Fort McNair website  An autographed copy of the book is available also here.


Posted 1 year, 6 months ago at 12:50 pm.

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The NEW Arlington National Cemetery – Part 2

It’s 20 January 2013, something special is happening at Arlington National Cemetery…

It’s amazing what good management with a vision and passion will do… that has been on-going now for nearly three years at the United States of America’s shrine to heroes who have served and fought to keep the freedoms of the republic. Today was another “expect the unexpected” as I was told at the event where a statue to “The Bugler” was unveiled at the newly renovated interior of the Visitors’ Center.

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Posted 5 years, 1 month ago at 8:29 pm.

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Guns Run Long – 4th of July 2012

For the last three years, I have watched and captured the outstanding 50 GUN Salute to the nation on the 4th of July – Independence Day.  It’s an amazing event that has been precisely executed by one of the elite platoons in the US military – The Presidential Salute Battery…

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Posted 5 years, 7 months ago at 12:07 pm.

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PART ONE: TOG on a Mission – 2010

Here’s a more in-depth look at the making and background of the calendar – “The Old Guard on Mission – 2010” – some history and little known facts…

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Posted 8 years, 1 month ago at 5:50 am.

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Spirit of America – US Army Style!

I had a small inkling of what to expect having spent many days among the Old Guard and US Army Band – “Pershing’s Own” – but after the show began, I thought different. What unfurled was a extravaganza that kept moving right up until intermission… it was fast action, informative, precision, pageantry with a heavy dose of history mixed into the delivery.    I was truly impressed and after the two hours of show, my camera had recorded over 800 photos of these Soldiers in action…  I’m sure the attendees in Columbus, OH and Providence, RI would have the same impression or better.

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Posted 8 years, 4 months ago at 11:59 am.

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Honoring Those Who Gave So Much…

The US Army celebrated its
234th birthday on 14 JUN 2009…

One of the most solemn and dignified ceremonies occurred in Arlington National Cemetery at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on that morning…

a full honors wreath ceremony

placed by

the Secretary of the Army, Honorable Pete Geren,

Chief of Staff of the Army, General George W. Casey Jr.


Sergeant Major of the Army, SMA Kenneth Preston.

Hosted by Commanding General of the Military District of Washington, Major General Richard J. Rowe Jr, the full honors included:

a complement of The US Army’s 3d Infantry –

The Old Guard,

The US Army Band, Pershing’s Own


Color Guard.

After the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, General Casey and Sergeant Major Preston visited each of the 24 former Chiefs of Staff and 2 Sergeants Major of the Army’s final resting places and placed a wreath in honor of their service to the United States of America.

General of the Armies & Former Chief of Staff General John J. Pershing’s gravesite


Posted 8 years, 8 months ago at 9:59 pm.

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Arlington National Cemetery ……. Memorial Day Reflections

Over the years, Arlington National Cemetery has become a very special place to me. I have spent countless hours exploring, learning and capturing in photographic memories some of the significance, the solemnity, the beauty of this National Shrine to those who have given so much.

Few days stand out as much as Memorial Day, for it is over that weekend that the US Army’s 3d Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard once again goes above and beyond by placing the US colors one boot length away in front of every grave stone in the cemetery.

Normally on this day, I’ll wait ’til after the formal ceremonies are over and movement around the cemetery is a bit easier as the President has left. This year, I was determined to actively participate and made it into the amphitheater near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. The sun was hot, but hidden by clouds most of the time, that later gave up some of their rain to add a bit of liquid sunshine to the day…

Off in the distance, the Presidential Salute Battery began firing the 21 Gun Salute, announcing the arrival of the President. So many times I’ve watched up close and personal the precise way that they execute their mission I could see in my mind’s eye, the watchman of the Battery calling each gun at precise 3 second intervals as each salute echoed through the hills of the cemetery.

One could then hear the commanders of the multi service honor guard call their troops to attention as the President approached the Tomb of the Unknown

After laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, followed by a moment of silence, The bugler from the US Army’s Band – Pershing’s Own sounded Taps. Those 21 notes echoing among the open air of the moment.
President came into the amphitheater, preceded by the US Army Chaplain, Superintendent of of Arlington National Cemetery, Commanding General of the Military District of Washington and the Head of the Joint Chiefs’ of Staff.

The President addressed the standing room only crowd and shared his thoughts with those assembled.

Afterwards, I went among those assembled and spent some time with those I knew and made some new friends among the slowly vanishing crowd. As the crowd dispersed, I began my exploring to several sections among those that had given so much. I went to Section 13 which has a great number of Unknowns…

It’s hard to describe the feelings that run through when one considers that for each of these stones, marks a contribution that always cannot be measured, or in most cases cannot be repaid.

I’ll let the photos take you there…

“Preserving the memories, so others will remember…” ™


Posted 8 years, 9 months ago at 9:16 pm.

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