Historical Highlight of the Week


Each week, the USAHEC will highlight either an item from the collection or a piece of U.S. Army history with a short description, accompanied by one or two images. Items will include artifacts or archival materials from the USAHEC Collection, and pieces of Army history will cover a range of subjects and periods, but will tie to the current month. Check back weekly to learn more about the history of the U.S. Army, and the extensive and remarkable collection possessed by the USAHEC!


This Week in Army History: The Birth of Armored Forces


Lieut. Col. George S. Patton, Jr., 1st Tank Battalion, and a French Renault tank, summer 1918.

The USAHEC's upcoming Army Heritage Days living history event (Saturday and Sunday, May 20-21, 2017) celebrates the 100th anniversary of World War I, and will feature working armored vehicles from different eras. These vehicles, including tanks, will drive on a specially created tank course to demonstrate maneuvers and tactics. To prepare for this year’s event, take a moment to read this week's historical highlight, which features information about the first usage of tanks in combat!

On April 28, 1918, the 1st Light Tank Battalion was organized at Bourg, France, with Lieutenant Colonel George S. Patton, Jr., in command. Patton was the first Soldier assigned to the fledgling Tank Corps in November 1917, and shortly afterwards, he established the first Army Tank School at Bourg. The first two companies (200 men) reached the school on February 22, 1918, and because no American-made tanks had reached France, Patton relied on twenty-five borrowed French Renault tanks to train his men.

The "patch" designed for armored forces during World War I by LTC George S. Patton and his staff. This insignia belonged to Sergeant Harry E. Record, 301st Tank Battalion. The colors represent the three branches of service – blue for infantry, yellow for cavalry, and red for artillery.

Two of Patton's staff officers received orders to create a new patch for his men to wear on their uniforms. Based upon his guidance, they came up with the now familiar pyramid design with the colors red, yellow, and blue, which combine the branch colors of artillery, cavalry, and infantry. Patton immediately paid to have 300 patches sewn in nearby Langres. With this patch and other measures, Patton provided the Tank Corps with its own identity.

When organized in April, the 1st Light Tank Battalion consisted of three companies, but by June 6, Patton had enough officers and men in camp to organize the 2nd Light Tank Battalion, also of three companies. Patton then became commander of the 1st Tank Brigade.

Word reached Patton on the morning of August 20 that he and his two battalions would soon go into combat. The brigade took 144 Renault tanks into the St. Mihiel Offensive on September 12, with one battalion each supporting the 1st and 42nd Divisions. Over the next two days, the men fought in several small actions and suffered few casualties. The Tank Brigade saw more action during the Meuse-Argonne Campaign from September 26 to November 2, 1918.

These battles gave Patton an idea of how better tanks might accomplish greater things on the battlefields of the future. He saw the Tank Corps becoming an independent combat arm. Patton himself had learned to adjust quickly to the rapidly changing events on these battlefields, and he brilliantly exhibited this trait during his operations in World War II.

A tank of Company C, 347th Tank Battalion, during the St. Mihiel Offensive, September 1918.

The Army's high command and members of the United States Congress did not share Patton's vision. The National Defense Act of 1920 abolished the Tank Corps as an independent arm, and tank units came under control of the infantry. Not until twenty years later, on July 10, 1940, was the Armored Force created. The 1st and 2nd Armored Divisions were activated five days later, and George S. Patton would become commander of the 2nd Armored Division in April 1941.

Armored forces played a significant role in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East. A new heavy tank developed in November 1949 would receive the name M46 Patton, and subsequent models, through the M60, would retain the Patton name. Just prior to the fighting at St. Mihiel, Patton instructed his tankers: "No tank is to be surrendered or abandoned to the enemy. If you are left alone in the midst of the enemy keep shooting. If your gun is disabled use your pistols and squash the enemy with your tracks." That spirit of the man and his 1st Light Tank Battalion lives on in the armored forces of today’s Army.


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Telling the Army Story... One Soldier at a Time: Barry Zavislan


Born September 25, 1937 near Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Barry Alan Zavislan graduated from North Union High School in 1955 and enlisted in the United States Army on May 31, 1955. Zavislan served in Germany for eighteen months. In 1959, Zavislan was assigned to the 549th Quartermaster Company and sent to Japan for eighteen months. On his return to the U.S., Zavislan was selected to attend Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and received his commission as a 2nd lieutenant on March 30, 1962. Zavislan served in Korea in 1964-1965, as administration officer in the G-4 Section, Headquarters, Eighth U.S. Army, and in August 1965, he was assigned to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. On September 23, 1965, Zavislan was promoted to captain, after which he served as commander of a basic training company. In November 1966, Zavislan was sent to Vietnam, where he was assigned as senior advisor in Advisory Team 87, U.S. Army Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV). His team worked with 1st Battalion, 52nd Regiment, 10th Division, Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Four months after his arrival in Vietnam, Capitan Zavislan was killed in action during a mortar attack on his post on March 6, 1967. He was survived by his wife, Delores, and four children, Barry Jr., Carol, Susan, and Mary Elizabeth. He was buried at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Cemetery in Uniontown, Pa. Zavislan was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart Medal from the U.S. Army and the National Order Medal, Fifth Class, and Gallantry Cross with Palm from the Republic of Vietnam.

Barry Zavislan Jr. was born during his father's service in Japan, and donated his father's materials to the USAHEC. The collection documents Zavislan's military service in the U.S. Army and events following his death, with most of the materials dated from 1955-1967. The collection has extensive archival and artifact components, comprised of telegrams, letters, training materials, letters of commendation, photographs, news clippings, uniform components, unit insignia, medals, and mementos from his service. A selection of artifacts are pictured below, and the Barry A. Zavislan Finding Aid provides a by-folder list of the archival components of his collection. The archival collection is available for public research, so if you’d like to learn more about Zavislan’s life and service, plan a visit to the USAHEC!


This Week in Army History: Firsts for the First


A World War I-era 1st Infantry Division helmet from the USAHEC Collection.

In the continued recognition of the 100th Anniversary of World War I, this week's Historical Highlight examines the role of the 1st Infantry Division in the Great War, and the "firsts" they experienced while fighting. On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany. On April 6, Congress granted the request, and the United States was formally at war with Germany. Several key events leading up to this act included the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 and the Zimmerman Telegram sent to Mexico by Germany in January 1917. The resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare by Germany on February 1, 1917 was the key event that took America from neutral ground at home to the trenches of Europe.

Raising, training, supplying, and transporting the U.S. forces were major challenges facing the Army. General John J. Pershing received command of U.S. forces in Europe, the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), and he requested they stay intact and not fill gaps in French and British trenches. He sailed to France with elements of the first American forces, the First Expeditionary Division. This group changed its name in July 1917 to the 1st Division and formed the basis of the AEF. (Another name change came in August of 1942, when the 1st Division was re-designated to its current name: the 1st Infantry Division. The famous 1st Infantry Division of today thus traces its origin back for more 100 years.)

The 1st (Infantry) Division was mobilized in May 1917, and the first official U.S. troops, part of the 28th Infantry Regiment, landed in St. Nazaire, France, on June 26, 1917. After being trained by the French in trench warfare tactics and use of the 75mm French artillery gun, portions of the 1st Division were put into the front line in the Somerville Sector on the Lorraine Front in late October. The first American-manned artillery gun (belonging to Battery C, 6th Field Artillery) first opened fire on the Germans on October 23. The 18th Infantry Regiment captured the first prisoner taken by American forces on October 27, and on the night of November 2, the Germans raided the American trenches after an artillery barrage and captured 11 Americans. The first official deaths occurred during this raid as well. Private Thomas F. Enright, Private Merle D. Hay, and Corporal James B. Gresham were laid to rest in Bathelemont, France with full honors.

By January 1918, the rest of the division was ready to line the parapets and was sent to the Ansauville Sector, near Toul. In April, the division was moved to the Cantigny Sector, where they would soon help liberate the town in the first all-American operation. The attack was staged for the early morning of May 28, 1918, led by the 28th Infantry Regiment. After multiple campaigns throughout the rest of the war, as well as post-war occupation duty, the majority of the 1st Division returned to the U.S. in August and September 1919. Even now, the "Fighting First" is still fighting.


A New Exhibit on the 100th Anniversary of the Great War:
"Good-Bye Broadway, Hello France" - America in the Era of World War I


Colonel Peter Crean (Director, USAHEC), Mr. Kaleb Dissinger (Exhibit Lead), and the daughters of Sergeant Evan Miller, a Soldier featured in the exhibit, cut the ribbon to officially open "Good-Bye Broadway, Hello France" - America in the Era of World War I.

On April 6, 2017, the 100th Anniversary of the United States' entry into World War I, the USAHEC opened a new exhibit, highlighting the contributions and sacrifices of American Soldiers in the Great War. Once known as "the war to end all wars," World War I fundamentally changed the tactics of warfare, while also necessitating an evolution of the concept of diplomatic relations. This war unleashed a century of conflicts, including the Second World War and the Cold War, and although World War I is often forgotten today, it is the source of many of the challenges the world still faces.

The new exhibit is the second phase of "Good-Bye Broadway, Hello France" - America in the Era of World War I, the first of which opened last year in the USAHEC's Ridgway Hall. The second section of the exhibit highlights the numerous battles that occurred in World War I, and the stories of the Soldiers who fought in them. "Good-Bye Broadway, Hello France" - America in the Era of World War I takes visitors from America's entry into the war in 1917, through the transition of civilians to Soldiers and their training, to the front lines of battle. It also examines how the birth of new technologies, such as machine guns, tanks, poison gas, artillery, and aircraft, were integral in both influencing the outcome of the war, and increasing the utter devastation it caused. Artifacts, photographs, and archival materials from the USAHEC Collection help tell the stories. These items are exhibited in an in-depth and engaging battlefield landscape, providing visitors with the feeling of walking through the trenches, as they learn about the lives and experiences of Soldiers who called them home. Plan a trip to the USAHEC to witness this incredible new display, highlighting the many actions and sacrifices of the courageous Soldiers who waged the forgotten war that changed the world.


Women's History Month: The Service of Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Nancy Ann Faller in the Vietnam War


From left to right, Maureen Dwyer, Nancy Faller, Mary Faller, Mary Jo Rice, and Jaqui Nemitz Van Meter, stand in front of a "67th Evac Hospital Specialty Clinic" sign, circa 1970.

As March draws to a close, so does Women's History Month. The nation recognizes the important and impactful contributions of women throughout history during this month, including the service of women in the military. To complete this month's tribute to women's history, the USAHEC highlights a final story from its collection - the service of Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Nancy Faller during the Vietnam War. Born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania on October 6, 1946, Nancy Ann Faller entered the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in August 1967. She was commissioned in December of that year through the Army Student Nurse Program, and graduated from the nursing school at St. Joseph College in Emmitsburg, Maryland in June 1968. Later that summer, then-Second Lieutenant Faller had the honor of administering the oath of office to her sister, Mary Faller, as she entered the Army Nurse Corps Program. Like Nancy, Mary received a commission following her graduation from St. Joseph College in June 1969.

Second Lieutenant Nancy Faller's first duty assignment was a staff nurse at Ireland Army Hospital, Fort Knox, Kentucky. In October 1969, Lieutenant Faller flew from Travis Air Force Base via Okinawa to Bien Hoa, Vietnam. She arrived at the 43rd Medical Group at Nha Trang, and shortly after, she moved to the 67th Evacuation Hospital, at Qui Nhon, where she was assigned to the orthopedic department. She had the unique opportunity to serve with her college classmates, two of whom were already in Vietnam when she arrived (Mary Jo Rice and Jaqui Nemitz Van Meter), and another, who traveled to Vietnam with her (Maureen Dwyer). Nancy's sister, Mary Faller, joined them in early 1970. Lieutenant Faller was promoted to captain during her time in Vietnam, and was also promoted from staff nurse to assistant nurse supervisor during her service there. She departed Vietnam in October 1970, and served in the U.S. Army until December 2000. A portion of the Nancy A. Faller Collection is currently on display in the exhibit, "Courage, Commitment, and Fear: The American Soldier in the Vietnam War," in the USAHEC's Soldier Experience Gallery. Stop by the USAHEC to learn more about her life, and the service of women throughout the history of the U.S. Army.


This Month in Army History: The Army Goes South of the Border


American Soldiers cross the arid plains south of Columbus, New Mexico.

For over a year before the beginning of the Mexican Punitive Expedition, a series of incidents and minor raids occurred along the U.S. border with Mexico. Doroteo Arango Arámbula, otherwise known as Pancho Villa, and his Mexican Revolutionary Army targeted Americans and American interests in Mexico.

A motorized convoy makes its way down a rutted road.

On the morning of March 9, 1916, Villa's men raided the town of Columbus, New Mexico. It was the event citizens on the U.S. side of the border had been nervously dreading. The Villistas burned buildings, looted businesses, seized horses, killed civilians, and battled troopers of the 13th U.S. Cavalry Regiment. As a result, President Woodrow Wilson sent 10,000 Regular Army troops under General John J. Pershing into Mexico to find Villa and his men. President Wilson also mobilized 150,000 National Guardsmen, and sent most of them to the Mexican border as backup to the Punitive Expedition.

Many Soldiers returning from the Mexican Border were rewarded with medals by their state or local town. This medal, given by the City of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was presented to Lieutenant Henry Gross of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Pershing's pursuing Soldiers entered Mexico on March 15, 1916, and split into two columns in hopes of finding the trail of Villa's forces. By early April, his forces penetrated some 350 miles over the rough and sometimes unforgiving terrain of northern Mexico. The Soldiers crossed narrow, rocky mountain passes and desert plains, as they followed trails through the Mexican countryside in search of the Villistas. On the plains, men suffered through the sweltering heat of day, and while in the mountains, they braved the freezing cold of night. Horses and pack animals grew lean from the lack of grazing and supply problems, but the Soldiers persevered.

Adding to the problematic nature of the Punitive Expedition were the complications of operating in a foreign nation. The Mexican Government did not want American troops in its country, because the Mexican Army saw American forces as a hindrance to its own efforts to fight the Villistas.

An example of the "Montana Peak" hat worn by Soldiers who served on the Mexican Border.

In the end, the Mexican Punitive Expedition lasted for almost a year, but did not result in the capture or death of Pancho Villa. The American Soldiers, however, faced the adverse conditions admirably, gained valuable experience, and worked with new technologies such as airplanes, motorized transportation, and wireless telegraph (radios). The National Guardsmen, moreover, gained valuable experience in mobilization and field service. Less than a year later, these skills and experiences would serve many of them well on the battlefields of Europe during the First World War.


Women's History Month: Specialist Dara Johnson


Specialist Dara Johnson

In addition to attending college in 2004, 19 year old Dara Johnson served in the Army Reserve. Her life as a college student changed dramatically that year, as she deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In August 2004, her supply company was mobilized to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. Her company moved to Kuwait on October 1, and three weeks later, convoyed to Logistical Support Agency (LSA) Diamondback near Mosul, Iraq. Her service in Operation Iraqi Freedom included managing supplies and distributing food and water to other, local U.S. Army units.

Six months into her time in Iraq, she wrote in a letter to her hometown high school newspaper discussing her experiences:

At first my family was scared about me being in Iraq: I was even scared. But now they are proud of me and always happy to hear my voice when I call home. It is hard not having my family close because they were always around, but the people I work with are like my brothers now.

Anticipating a question Soldiers have always faced she wrote:

Was I ever afraid for my life? A lot of the time, no. But there were a couple of times I was close to getting shot. We are lucky that we haven't lost any unit members while the unit that came over here with us had several people die.

Specialist Johnson also commented on what she missed most about life back in the States:

Being able to get off work and go out with friends and do what I want to do is what I miss most about the US. I also miss things like going to the movies, going out to eat, and going to concerts.

Specialist Dara Johnson is representative of the tens of thousands of mobilized Reservists, male and female, who transitioned from part-time service to full-time combat service, and then back to part-time service during the Global War on Terror.


This Week in Army History: War Dogs


SP4 Teddy McGhee and "Duke" simulate an attack on patrol at Quang Trang, Vietnam.

Dogs have been associated with the United States Army since its inception, but for years, their role was primarily that of a mascot or in some other unofficial capacity. Not until World War II did the Army make the connection official. In January 1942, members of the American Kennel Club and other dog lovers formed a civilian organization called Dogs for Defense. They intended to train dogs to perform sentry duty for the Army along the coasts of the United States. Aware of this effort, Lieutenant Colonel Clifford C. Smith, Chief of the Plant Protection Branch, Inspection Division, Quartermaster Corps, met with his commander, Major General Edmund B. Gregory, and suggested the Army use the sentry dogs at supply depots. Quartermaster General Gregory gave his approval to an experimental program, and on March 13, 1942, Under Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson approved Gregory's application and created the K-9 Corps.

Beginning in August 1942, the Quartermaster Corps established dog training centers at Front Royal, VA; Fort Robinson, NE; Cat Island (Gulfport), MS; Camp Rimini (Helena), MT; and San Carlos, CA. The K-9 Corps initially accepted thirty-two breeds of dogs for training, but by 1944, the number had been reduced to seven: German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Belgian Sheep Dogs, Siberian Huskies, Farm Collies, Eskimo Dogs, and Malamutes. Approximately 18,000 dogs reached training centers after examination by Dogs for Defense. Almost 8,000 of those animals failed exams given at the centers, and reasons for dismissal included excitability when exposed to noise or gunfire, disease, poor sense of smell, and unsuitable temperament.

The Quartermaster Corps trained dog handlers as well as the dogs themselves. Technical Manual 10-396 (July 1, 1943) outlined the training. Normal training time for a dog was eight to twelve weeks. First, the animals went through what might be called "basic training" to become accustomed to life in the military. Then the dogs received assignment to a specialized training program – sentry dogs, scout or patrol dogs, messenger dogs, or mine dogs. The Quartermaster Corps established war dog platoons in March 1944 to assist American military forces conducting offensive operations in Europe and the Pacific. Of the fifteen such platoons organized, seven served in Europe and eight in the Pacific. The Quartermaster Corps also experimented with training dogs to locate casualties on the battlefield. Dogs were first tested for this in the Medical Field Service School at Carlisle Barracks on May 4, 1944. Ultimately, the Army abandoned this program, because the dogs did not or could not make a distinction between men not wounded, men who had received wounds, or men who had died.

After World War II, the Military Police Corps took over responsibility for training military dogs. They continued to serve with distinction in other conflicts. It is estimated the Army employed 1,500 dogs during the Korean War and 4,000 in the Vietnam War. The courage and loyalty of these dogs have saved lives and prevented injuries since creation of the K-9 Corps.


Women's History Month: Colonel (Retired) Kathryn C. Singer


Kathryn C. Singer

Throughout the month of March, the U.S. Army, takes the opportunity to recognize the contributions of women in the military in recognition of Women's History Month. This week, the USAHEC highlights the life and service of Kathryn Singer, an army nurse, whose service spanned two conflicts, with time on four continents.

Born in 1920 in Oil City, Pennsylvania, Kathryn Singer graduated from Allegheny General Hospital School of Nursing in the fall of 1941, and joined the Army Nurse Corps in February 1942. As a second lieutenant, she deployed overseas during World War II, and served as a nurse, surgical nurse, and operation room nurse from 1943-1945. She served in England prior to the Normandy Invasion, and later, served as a nurse in the 101st and 67th Evacuation Hospitals in Germany. Her unit operated near the front lines of combat during the U.S. Army's movement across Western Europe. She returned home following the end of WWII, and spent five years in the inactive reserve. Singer returned to active service in December 1950, as a first lieutenant and served as a general duty nurse at Fort Dix (New Jersey) in the early part of 1951. She deployed to Ethiopia from 1951-1954, serving at the Army Security Agency Field Station in Asmara, and then at Kagnew Station. Following further education and training in obstetrics and pediatrics, she served stateside in Valley Forge General Hospital in Pennsylvania and Fitzsimons General Hospital in Colorado.

Head nurse of the 2nd Surgery Hospital, Kathryn Singer, Major. An Khe, Vietnam, 1966.

In 1963, then-Major Singer deployed as the supervisor of nursing to the U.S. Army Medical Service Group in Okinawa, Japan, and two years later, moved to Vietnam as the chief nurse of 2nd Surgical Hospital (Mobile Army). Her unit, the 2nd MASH, was a 60-bed unit specializing in the treatment of wounded and burned Soldiers. During her 2nd MASH combat tour, she paused to reflect on the role of nursing: "In a way nursing is the same the world over - in the immaculate skyscraper to the far-flung mission outpost our job remains the same - the relief of pain and suffering with compassionate understanding."

Following her promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, she returned to the United States to serve in Army hospitals in New Mexico and Fort Detrick (Maryland). In 1972, Singer was promoted to colonel and served her final active duty assignment as Chief, Nursing Service, U.S. Army Hospital, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Colonel (Ret.) Singer's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 device, the Vietnam Service Medal with 3 campaign stars, and the World War II Victory Medal. After retiring, she lived in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Singer poses with another Soldier in front of their hospital tents.

The USAHEC is home to the Kathryn C. Singer Photograph Collection, and a separate Papers Collection, which includes services records, correspondence, memorandums, awards, letters of commendation, orders, and other materials dating from 1937-1990's. For more information about her materials, click the blue button to review the detailed finding aid for her Papers Collection. Stop by the USAHEC in March to learn more about Kathryn Singer and the many other women whose service and sacrifice have contributed to U.S. Army and American History.


This Week in Army History: GPS Goes to War - The Global Positioning System in Operation Desert Storm


Soldiers of the XVIII Airborne Corps pause during Operation Desert Storm to gain their correct location by using an SLGR. [Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Space & Missile Defense Command]

Many people may not realize when and where Global Positioning System (GPS) technology came to fruition. The NAVSTAR Global Positioning System was first introduced by the U.S. Air Force in the mid-1960s, eventually becoming a Department of Defense (DOD) project. The system was designed to determine positional information on Earth through the use of a constellation of orbiting satellites, with the first GPS satellite placed in orbit in 1978. Once complete, the system was to have 24 satellites, providing unlimited two and three-dimensional coverage 24 hours a day. When the U.S. Army deployed for Operation Desert Shield in 1990, 16 NAVSTAR satellites were in orbit, providing a guaranteed three-dimensional coverage lasting only about 19 hours. The new devices had a built-in error of only sixty feet compared to earlier land based systems with up to eight miles in expected error.

Soldiers utilizing their issued SLGR which is mounted inside an HMMWV during Operation Desert Storm. [Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Space & Missile Defense Command]

By 1991, GPS had been utilized for more than ten years by aircraft, Special Operations teams, and in limited training missions, however the system was relatively unknown to much of the Army at the time. During Operation Desert Shield, Special Operations teams were inserted behind Iraqi lines for missions that would have been unthinkable without GPS. With a large-scale operation against the occupying Iraqi Army on the horizon, Army commanders realized the need to supply front-line units with the GPS devices. The problem was the limited number of devices on hand. In an October 1991 newsletter, the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) noted only 500 demonstration receivers were owned by the Army at the outset of Operation Desert Shield. As a result, commercial receivers were rapidly procured. Still, when operations started on February 24, 1991, only selective units and vehicles were equipped with the new technology. For example, of the VII Corps' 40,000 vehicles in theater, only 3,000 received a GPS unit. Those vehicles needing the devices often included forward and reconnaissance elements, unit commanders, and artillery surveyors. In addition, there were instances of troops buying their own GPS devices, or requesting they be sent from home. Lieutenant General Frederick Franks, the VII Corps commander, noted after the war, "They [GPS receivers] were invaluable in avoiding fratricide and allowing accurate navigation and artillery fires."

GPS can be quite useful in a featureless landscape. This Bradley Fighting Vehicle from the VII Corps may be relying on GPS to navigate in a sea of sand.

G-day came on February 24, beginning at 0400. U.S. Army units in both the VII Corps and XVIII Airborne Corps quickly realized the value of the GPS units. With the unexpectedly rapid advance of coalition forces, heavy reliance was placed on these small devices while navigating in a featureless and potentially unforgiving desert landscape. The 24th Infantry Division used the receivers to link phase lines for the assault, helping to maintain command and control. Although seven different types of GPS devices were used during the war, two models comprised the clear majority. The AN/PSN-10 Small Lightweight GPS Receiver (SLGR, pronounced "slugger") was favored, with approximately 4,000 devices deployed. The SLGR is a small rectangular, box-like, hand-held unit developed by Trimble Navigation. It weighs about four pounds and can also be mounted to a vehicle or aircraft. The second most prevalent device was the NAV 1000M Receiver, made by Magellan, still a leading company in GPS technology. It is smaller than the SLGR and is powered by AA batteries. Approximately 1,000 of these devices were utilized during the war.


This Trimble Navigation SLGR is part of the USAHEC Collection.


The relatively new Global Positioning System receivers aided the U.S. and coalition forces in winning Operation Desert Storm, after only four days of ground combat. It was the first major land campaign involving the widespread use of GPS, which certainly aided in the speed and accuracy of the advance. Thus, space-based navigation technology joined the U.S. military's arsenal of combat capabilities. By 1995, all 24 NAVSTAR satellites were in orbit, providing world-wide coverage 24 hours per day. Today, GPS technology is prominent in both military and civilian applications. From weapons systems and precision guided ordnance to individual receivers for our warfighters abroad, GPS requirements are now essential. The system has advanced our nation's navigational abilities and warfighting capabilities to a very high standard.


A Soldier Always: Remembering the Life of LTG (R) Harold G. Moore, Jr.


"The more I look back on those three days and two nights, the more respect and love I have for the fighting will to win of my men." - Lieutenant General Harold G. Moore, Jr., U.S. Army Retired

Lieutenant General (Ret.) Harold 'Hal' G. Moore, Jr

Lieutenant General (Ret.) Harold 'Hal' G. Moore, Jr. wrote these words in a letter to his wife, Julie, ten days after the Battle of Ia Drang in November 1965. The first major engagement of the Vietnam War proved difficult, as Americans faced an unfamiliar enemy with new fighting tactics. In spite of these challenges, then-Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore bravely led his troops from the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Division into the fray. After the battle, the 1st Cavalry Division was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation, and Moore received the Distinguished Service Cross (the second highest military award given a member of the U.S. Army for heroism) for his actions during the battle. Most famously known for his role in the Battle of Ia Drang, Moore passed away on Friday, February 10, 2017 at the age of 94.

Portrayed in the movie, We Were Soldiers, Moore's role in the Battle of Ia Drang is the most well-known piece of his history, but it only scratches the surface of his faithful service spanning three decades. He graduated from West Point near the end of World War II, and his career in the Army took him around the world, including service in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He served in a variety of positions, both in combat and out, culminating as the Commanding General, U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel in 1974. He served in that role until his retirement in 1977. Years after his retirement from the Army, Moore partnered with journalist Joseph Galloway to write We Were Soldiers Once...and Young, detailing the experience of 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 7th Cavalry Regiment in the Battle of Ia Drang, and they later wrote, We Are Soldiers Still: A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam, discussing the experience of returning to the Ia Drang Valley forty years after the battle.

Known and widely respected for his leadership and dedication to his troops, Moore was also a devoted family man. He had five children with his wife, Julie, to whom he was married for 55 years. His devotion is evident in the letters he wrote to his wife while separated by distance at various points throughout his career, many of which are currently being processed at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center. The USHAEC is honored to be home to the Harold G. Moore Jr. Collection, which includes official documents, photographs, letters, scrapbooks, and research materials for his books, among other items. Archivists at the USAHEC are currently processing the collection, to organize and identify the materials and prepare them for use in the USAHEC's research library.

Though these materials are not yet available to the public, the USAHEC does have a small tribute to Moore on display in the exhibit, "Courage, Commitment, and Fear: The American Soldier in the Vietnam War," which features his photo and one of his letters to Julie - written the morning the Battle of Ia Drang began. A few examples of the materials from the Harold G. Moore Jr. Collections are below, and an announcement will be published once the full collection is available. The USAHEC salutes the incredible life of service and sacrifice of this American hero.

In November 2008, Mr. Joseph Galloway, Lieutenant General Moore's co-author on We Were Soldiers Once...and Young and We Are Soldiers Still: A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam, presented a Perspectives in Military History Lecture at the USAHEC regarding their experience returning to the Ia Drang Valley.


This Week in Army History: 55th Anniversary of MACV


The red and yellow on the MACV patch came from the colors of the ARVN flag. The red ground alludes to the infiltration and aggression from beyond the embattled wall (i.e. the Great Wall of China). The opening in the wall, through which the infiltration and aggression flows, is blocked by the sword representing the United States military aid and support. The wall is arched and the sword pointed upward in reference to the offensive action pushing the aggressors back.

February 8, 1962 marks the founding of the headquarters of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) at 606 Tran Hung Dao in the Cholon District of Saigon. MACV was the logical evolution of its predecessor, the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) program.

In September 1950, by the direction of President Eisenhower, the MAAG program of the United States aided the French government engaged against the Viet Minh in Vietnam. The U.S. assistance consisted largely of military equipment, mainly older equipment and ammunition remaining from World War II stock. Monetary aid rose from 10 million dollars at the onset of support to $350 million by 1953.

When President John F. Kennedy directed support to assist South Vietnam's President, Ngo Dinh Diem, in 1960, the program expanded by placing advisors in every unit of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). The new Commander of MACV (COMUSMACV), General Paul D. Harkins, began with 680 personnel under his authority. The 680 eventually grew to over 9,000 advisors and staff, with 10 field offices throughout South Vietnam.

Initially, many of these advisors took the form of Special Forces Units, also known as Green Beret teams. Their immersive training was state-side at the U.S. Army Center for Special Warfare/U.S. Army Special Warfare School located on Fort Bragg and included language, cultural customs, politics, and other subjects for officers and enlisted men and were emphasized with expertise in artillery, armor, infantry, engineering, and a variety of military occupational specialties needed for the operations MACV supported.

With each new MACV Commander, the mission evolved. In June of 1964, when General William Westmoreland became COMUSMACV, the headquarters reestablished itself on the Tan Son Nuht airbase. American "boots on the ground" began arriving and MACV assumed responsibilities for more than just military operations. It now required a complete Joint or "J" staff organization, which included finance, medical, political, supply, agricultural, and a myriad of other attached groups needed to both run and rebuild a country.

General Creighton Abrams commanded MACV from June 1968 - June 1972.


General Creighton Abrams took command from Westmoreland in 1968 and subsequently re-focused the program a year later to follow newly-elected President Nixon's directive on "Vietnamization." MACV goals again shifted, and concentrated on transferring the execution of the war to more Vietnamese units, along with pacification programs. While MACV still followed the same basic command structure, operational plans and directives were often coming straight from the Chief of Staff of the Army or even the President's desk. These reporting relationships gave General Abrams access to more than 500,000 men, hundreds of naval vessels, and thousands of aircraft of all types.

A second command that developed out of MACV during the war was the Military Assistance Command Studies and Observations Group (MACSOG). Their mission was to conduct recon, rescue, PSYOPS, and other operations ranging from Vietnam (North and South) to Cambodia and Laos. These "special operators" evolved into the Army, Navy, and Air Force spec ops teams of today. A primary objective was the interdiction of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, known to the North Vietnamese as the Truong Son Road. Successful at times in preventing supplies from reaching bases in Cambodia and Laos, they did not completely sever this supply route as noted by the North Vietnamese Army Tet Offensive in January of 1968.

The role of MACV/MACSOG finally wound down under General Frederick C. Weyand, who took command in October of 1972. With the decrease in support for the war from the American Public and the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, which gave 60 days for military forces to leave the country, General Weyand oversaw operations as the troops exited Vietnam

Many of the records of the MACV and MACSOG commands can be found in the archival collections of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC), with details on operations such as Dawson River (Khe Sanh), Lam Son 272 with the 2nd ARVN Division, as well as after-action reports and photographs from various sources. For more information on these collections, go to the USAHEC website (www.usahec.org), and click on the Library and Archives button. Additionally, the exhibit, "Courage, Commitment, and Fear: The American Soldier in Vietnam," is currently on display in the USAHEC's Soldier Experience Gallery. This exhibit highlights the divisions that participated in the Vietnam War by region.


African American History Month: Identifying John Grayson in the USAHEC Collection


John Grayson, Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant, 5th Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry Regiment.

February is African American History Month, and the U.S. Army, along with the nation, honors the contributions African-Americans have made throughout history. This week's Historical Highlight honors an African-American Soldier, who fought for the Union Army in the Civil War. Until recently, the Soldier was unidentified in a photograph that is part of the USAHEC Collection. Research and investigation, however, brought renewed significance to the image, as USAHEC staff discovered the name of the Soldier.

The National Museum of the U.S. Army, scheduled to open at Ft. Belvoir, VA in 2019, recently contacted the USAHEC to request images of Civil War Soldiers for a gallery. The USAHEC provided a selection of images, including an unidentified carte de visite [visiting card] of a regimental quartermaster sergeant of the African-American 5th Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry. The image is part of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) - Massachusetts Commandery Collection.

The USAHEC Archive includes a published roster of the 5th Massachusetts, but the non-commissioned officer staff did not include a regimental quartermaster sergeant. A previous effort to identify the Soldier apparently ended here but a careful reading of the entire roster revealed that Private John Grayson of Company C had been promoted to regimental quartermaster sergeant on September 18, 1864. This identification allowed staff to learn more about Grayson and his life.

Grayson was born in Providence, Rhode Island about 1834 and was a 29-year-old chemical worker from Worcester, Massachusetts, when he enlisted on January 4, 1864. He served with the African-American 5th Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry Regiment in Virginia and Texas, until he mustered out on October 31, 1865. John Grayson was working as a blacksmith in Leominster, Massachusetts, when he died of consumption on August 9, 1868. He was buried in St. John's Cemetery in Worcester, Massachusetts, beneath a plain marble headstone provided by the government. His previously unidentified photograph is a powerful visual reminder of African-African Soldiers in the Civil War, and provides an example of the service and sacrifice of African-Americans throughout United States' history.


Colonel James Van Dusen's Service During the Philippine Insurrection


A photograph of James W. Van Dusen, taken on January 23, 1902.

Colonel James Wallace Van Dusen was born on March 29, 1871 in Norwalk, Ohio. Van Dusen graduated from the University of Michigan's medical school in 1896 and was a member of the university's baseball and football teams. He mustered into federal service with Company G, 5th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on May 11, 1898 in Columbus, Ohio. He served during the Spanish-American War, and by 1900, he was on the first of three deployments to the Philippines. The U.S. acquired the Philippines in its victory over Spain in the Spanish-American War, and the subsequent Filipino revolt against the U.S. is known as the Philippine Insurrection

After initially serving as a contract surgeon, Van Dusen was commissioned as an Assistant Surgeon with the rank of First Lieutenant in the Regular Army on June 29, 1901. From 1906 to 1907, then-Captain Van Dusen served his second deployment. During his time in the Philippines, Van Dusen encountered conflict between the U.S. Army and the Moro (ethnic Muslim) population. He collected a variety Moro weapons and armor during his time in the Philippines, some of which graphically illustrate the brutality of an insurgency. Spear points he brought home were accompanied with the following note:

"Stationed at Zambo Auga Island, one of [the] landing party from the Glacier, U.S.N., not returning from a spring with water, was found dead, pinned to the earth with these two spears."


One of the barbed spear points used by Moros in the Philippines on Zambo Auga Island.

In addition to the weapons, Van Dusen also brought home examples of Moro armor, including a plate mail shirt and a couple helmets. These examples of protective equipment were ineffective against the U.S. Army's weaponry at the turn of the century. Captain Van Dusen remained on active service following the Philippine Insurrection, was promoted to Colonel in 1917, and honorably discharged in 1920. He died in Washington, D.C. in 1923. The items collected by Colonel Van Dusen are now part of the USAHEC Collection, and some of them, including the spears, plate mail shirt, and helmets referenced above, are currently on display in the USAHEC's Soldier Experience Gallery.


The Inauguration of President George Washington


Click image to view the complete Presidential Inauguration edition of the Gazette

The inauguration for the next President of the United States is Friday, January 20, 2017, and this week's Historical Highlight marks that event by focusing on a remarkable item, recently discovered in the USAHEC Collection. Found amongst a donated collection of assorted periodicals, this newspaper highlights the inauguration of President George Washington, the first President of the United States. The Gazette of the United States was a newspaper edited by John Fenno, which printed its first issue in mid-April 1789. It was a popular Federalist newspaper, printed originally in New York City, before re-locating to Philadelphia after the nation's capital moved. This special issue is dated Wednesday, April 29 to Saturday, May 2, 1789, and covers President Washington's first inauguration in detail.

This issue provides a day-by-day account of the inaugural activities, describing the various events attended by Washington and presenting information regarding the proceedings of congress. The articles include, "A sketch of the political state of America" - a short article describing the inaugural procession and ceremony; Washington's inaugural speech to the Houses of Congress; an address presented to George Washington upon his departure from Mount Vernon on his journey to New York by Dennis Ramsay, Mayor of Alexandria, Virginia; an address by Washington in reply to the Mayor of Alexandria; and a congratulatory address from the House of Representatives to President Washington, with reply. In addition to the news of the inauguration, the issue also contains other snippets discussing daily life, including a list of graduates from Columbia College and a list of recently-arrived vessels at the Port of New York. Due to the historical significance and the age of the item, it is part of the Rare Books Collection and will not regularly circulate. Nevertheless, it is a significant and exciting addition to the USAHEC Collection!


This Week in Army History: John Browning's Contributions to the U.S. Army


Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) in the USAHEC Collection.

John Moses Browning was born near the end of January in 1855. A gunsmith's son, he grew up under the training of his father, Jonathan Browning, and designed and built his first firearm by the age of 15. His work spanned almost 60 years, and he is credited with 128 patents and over 100 different weapons. His contributions to the U.S. Army began with the development of a machine gun.

2LT Valmore A. Browning firing a Browning Machinegun. Capacity 500-600 shots per minute. Belt capacity 250 cartridges in a box, 8 boxes to a gun. This gun was used in the Argonne Sector and is being tested by Lt. Browning at Thillombois, Meuse, France, 5 October 1918.

In 1916, Browning finally interested the Army in a machine gun he developed in 1905. The Army saw the need for an efficient rapid-fire gun to complement the French Hotchkiss, the British Vickers, and the German Maxim. Browning's weapon went through the Army's trials process in May 1917. It was accepted, and manufacturing began, with the weapon designated the .30 Caliber, Browning M1917 Heavy Machine Gun. The gun was a belt-fed, water-cooled design and usually required six to eight men to operate it. One man would fire, while a second fed the belt into the weapon, and the other men carried ammunition and spare parts. Colt, Remington, and Westinghouse produced over 70,000 of the guns in the initial production run. The size was problematic at times, so Browning simplified the design and created an air-cooled machine gun, the M1919, which was smaller and lighter.

John M. Browning, the inventor of the gun, and Mr. Burton, the Winchester expert on rifles, discussing the finer points of the Browning Light Gun (BAR) at the Winchester Plant.

While developing his heavy machine gun, Browning also worked to create a light machine gun that could be carried and used by one individual. The weapon was designated as the Browning Automatic Rifle, Model of 1918, .30 Caliber, or the BAR. This machine gun was a gas-operated, air-cooled, magazine-fed handheld weapon, and saw service at the very end of World War I. The weapon was ideal for the French tactics of the late war period. A group of soldiers could advance over no-man's land while using mobile automatic weapons to pin down the enemy. The 20 round magazine limited the rate of fire, so the BAR was used primarily as a mobile light machine in the trenches. John M. Browning's son, Lieutenant Valmore A. Browning, was a machine gun instructor in the U.S. and France during World War I. The BAR saw heavy action in World War II and Korea, but by the 1960s the development of the M14 and M16 rifles made the BAR obsolete.

Component parts of the Colt M1911 Pistol.

Another Browning designed weapon used by the Army is the Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911. Adopted in March 1911, the pistol replaced the smaller and less powerful .38 Caliber Long Colt revolvers. The .45 had better stopping power, and Browning's simple design made it easy to operate and clean. The short recoil design of the M1911 is the basis for almost all the modern self-loading handguns. John M. Browning's prolific work on weapons and weapon systems has contributed to the safety of our armed forces ever since.


Pennsylvania Native Conrad V. Anderson and the Distinguished Service Cross


Maj. Gen. Charles H. Bonesteel pins the Distinguished Service Cross of Maj. Conrad V. Anderson.

On January 2, 1918, as the First World War was reaching the height of its intensity, President Woodrow Wilson established the Distinguished Service Cross to recognize the heroic efforts of Soldiers in the U.S. Military. While President Wilson was ultimately the one to fully establish the award, it was General Pershing, Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, who campaigned the hardest for its creation. General Pershing felt the actions of Soldiers not appropriate for the awarding of the Medal of Honor should still be recognized, similarly to the European Armies. Upon the establishment of the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), Soldiers whose gallantry may have gone unrecognized were now properly awarded.

Major Conrad V. Andreson's Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), part of the USAHEC Collection.

Fast forward to 1943, during a skirmish in the Tunisian town of Sedjenane, Lieutenant Conrad V. Anderson and his battalion found themselves caught in a German Army "trap," when an onslaught of 88mm shells bombarded their position. After being severely wounded, the battalion commander placed Anderson in charge. Unaware a withdrawal had been ordered, Anderson stopped the men from retreating and placed them in the best defensive position possible. Once his Soldiers were in place, Anderson radioed in the approximate positions of the enemy artillery to three U.S. artillery battalions, who subsequently destroyed the majority of the German artillery stationed around Anderson's battalion. With assistance from an additional battalion, Anderson pushed through the German forces in the mountains and gained a position in the valley, before reaching the towns of Mateur, Tunis, and Bizerte.

After turning a situation of near-defeat into an indisputable triumph, Anderson, now a Major, was recognized for his heroism in the Battle of Sedjenane. On Sunday, April 9, 1944, Major General Charles H. Bonesteel awarded Major Anderson the Distinguished Service Cross for his efforts in leading his fellow Soldiers to safety amidst harrowing circumstances. Despite Anderson being no stranger to heroism (he once rescued over 30 men after the sinking of the U.S.S. Leedstown), this was perhaps his finest hour and serves as a fitting reminder of what the Distinguished Service Cross represents.

Major Conrad V. Anderson's name engraved on the back of his DSC.

The Distinguished Service Cross is awarded to a person who "distinguishes himself or herself by extraordinary heroism while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing/foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing Armed Force in which the United States is not a belligerent party." In order to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, an act of heroism must have involved the risking of one's life in a circumstance so extraordinary it sets the individual apart from the rest of his or her comrades. Lieutenant Conrad V. Anderson was one of those brave Soldiers, who demonstrated his bravery and courage during World War II.


Keeping the Faith in World War II: Chanukah Celebrations


Corporal Span saved this program from the December 1944 Chanukah celebration he participated in while serving in the U.S. Army. The program lists the entertainment, menu, formal participants, and a prayer for the holiday recognition.

Chanukah is the eight-day, Jewish "festival of lights," and this year, it begins the evening of Saturday, December 24, 2016 and ends the evening of Sunday, January 1, 2017. In celebration of Chanukah, this week's Historical Highlight examines a items in the USAHEC Collection related to Jewish Soldiers, including examples of Chanukah celebrations during World War II.

The tradition of sending cards for the holidays is far from a modern idea. The custom has existed for hundreds of years, and will likely exist for hundreds more. Despite the fact that cards often feel like an obligatory part of the holiday season, for some people, they hold great significance. In the case of Soldiers, holiday cards have long been a way to stay in contact with loved ones separated by distance. They also act as a beacon of hope, imbuing both Soldiers and family members with feelings of joy and peace at a time when those feelings are fleeting. During the Second World War, feelings of hopelessness often pervaded the Soldier's mindset, and holiday cards were a way to inspire faith and hope for the future at a time when thousands of lives were sacrificed to protect similar values and ideals.

As a Jewish Soldier fighting in the Second World War, Corporal Murray Span experienced this firsthand, as he found himself thrust into a conflict revolving around the very faith he practiced. He was fighting for his country, but also for those who shared his ideals and religious devotion. As a part of the 399th Infantry Regiment stationed in France, Span saw the destruction of churches and synagogues, places that once offered sanctuary in the form of faith. The homes of those who practiced their faith in those religious refuges were abandoned, as families fled or were captured. In the midst of the overwhelming shadow of war, Span and his fellow Soldiers were able to find hope in a familiar place.

While most of the old churches were destroyed, Span and his fellow Jewish Soldiers found a safe haven at one of the few the churches remaining in France. At weekly services, Span, along with the rest of the Jewish Soldiers in his company, had the opportunity to establish close and cordial relationships with each other, and come together to celebrate their religious heritage. To the Jewish Soldiers fighting in World War II, these interactions acted as diversion from the harsh and unforgiving realities of war, and as a means of self-expression in a time when inspired personal faith and devotion could be extinguished at any moment. More of Corporal Span's story can be read in the letters and manuscripts, which comprise the Murray Span Collection at the USAHEC.


This Week in Army History: NUTS! Standing Strong at the Battle of the Bulge


BG McAuliffe's Christmas message to his troops.
Click HERE for Full Size

In December 1944, American troops and their Allies advanced through Europe with the goal of routing the Axis and bringing an end to World War II. Unknown to them, during this very cold and snowy winter, Adolf Hitler and his generals secretly plotted an offensive of their own, which came to be known as the Battle of the Bulge. On December 16, the Axis forces attacked with great ferocity, pushing back the American lines, creating the "bulge."

The German leadership planned well - attacking in a sparsely guarded portion of the lines where the U.S. 106th Division, new to the theater, was stationed. The freezing, tired, and inexperienced American Soldiers were taken by surprise, and many became casualties. As the Germans troops advanced, it became clear to both sides that two Belgian cities were lynchpins to the entire operation: St. Vith and Bastogne. St. Vith fell, leaving Bastogne as the major obstacle standing in the way of the Germans.

Brigadier General Anthony C. McAuliffe.

On December 22, 1944, the Germans surrounded Bastogne, and their artillery pounded the city. The U.S. 101st Airborne Division and elements of the 9th and 10th Armored Divisions occupied Bastogne. The 101st Division Commander, Major General Maxwell Taylor, had been sent to Washington, D.C., and Brigadier General Anthony C. McAuliffe, the Division Artillery Commander, had command.

Fighting was intense, and the situation was bleak. Suddenly and unexpectedly, a German delegation consisting of a major, a captain, and two enlisted men showed up under the cover of a white flag bearing a message demanding the Americans surrender. Brigadier General McAuliffe read the message, and then, it is said, one of his officers uttered in a disbelieving voice, "They must think we are nuts!" Huddling with his officers, BG McAuliffe formulated a reply that summed up their reaction to the German proposal: "NUTS!" Nothing more needed to be said.

GIs slog it out during the harsh winter weather.

The German soldiers carried his reply back, and the battle resumed. BG McAuliffe and his Soldiers held Bastogne, which was later relieved by a column of George C. Patton's Third Army.

Several days later, General McAuliffe reprinted the German message and his reply in his Christmas newsletter to the troops. Needless to say, his words and actions were well received by the GI's, boosting their morale. Their commander summed up in words what they had known for a long time: American Soldiers stick together, fight together, and win together!


"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." Weapons of Star Wars in the USAHEC Collection


The handle for the Heiland Research Corp flashgun served as the inspiration for Luke Skywalker's lightsaber.

In honor of the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, this week's Historical Highlight examines several items in the USAHEC Collection, which have a connection to the Star Wars films. Though George Lucas invented many of the characters, worlds, languages, and beings when creating the Star Wars universe, he did find inspiration in some real-world items, specifically when designing weapons.

Perhaps the most iconic weapon from the movies, the lightsaber drew inspiration from a piece of camera equipment. Luke Skywalker's lightsaber was modeled after the handle/battery holder of the Heiland Research Corp. flashgun, a large flash used in conjunction with a camera. An example of this handle is part of the USAHEC's Paul Vernon Frakes Collection, which contains a number of World War II-era items, including medals, photographs, and pieces of camera equipment he used in conjunction with the flashgun base. Frakes served overseas in World War II as a photographer and gunner in the Army Air Forces, and spent time in North Africa and Europe during his service.


The Mauser C96 pistol served as the model for the BlasTech DL-44, most famously used by Han Solo.

In addition to the "lightsaber," the USAHEC's Collection is also home to a couple of weapons, which inspired the blasters in Star Wars. The German Mauser Construktion 96 (C96) pistol, nicknamed "Broom Handle" for its attachable wooden stock, served as the BlasTech DL-44 - Han Solo's weapon of choice. Though modified for the movies, a side-by-side comparison of the weapons shows the very evident similarities. The Maschinengeweher 34 (MG34), another German weapon, inspired the DLT-19 Heavy Blaster Rifle used by the Galactic Empire, most often by Stormtroopers. The USAHEC received both of these weapons through donations, and they are representative of war souvenirs, likely picked up on a battlefield during the first half of the 20th century. Even in the vast, imaginative world of galaxies far, far away, there are still hints of history. May the Force be with you.

The MG34 inspired the DLT-19 Heavy Blaster Rifle used by the Galactic Empire.


"A Date Which Will Live in Infamy" - the 75th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor


Seventy-five years ago, news of the attack on Pearl Harbor traveled from the islands of Hawaii and shocked the American mainland. The Japanese targeted Army and Navy assets, including Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Field, Hickham Field, and battleships in the harbor. Tactically planned to destroy important components of the Pacific Fleet and prevent U.S. forces from interfering with Japanese actions in the Pacific, the attack killed nearly 2,400 Americans, and damaged or destroyed numerous ships and aircraft. Unprovoked and unexpected, this action propelled the United States into World War II, and rapidly accelerated the transformation of the U.S. Army.

The USAHEC Collection contains numerous items related to the attack on Pearl Harbor, including photographs of the damage, audio of news bulletins announcing the attack, videos compiled by the U.S. Army, archival materials documenting the attack as it unfolded, and letters/recollections of those who witnessed it. Take a moment to honor the anniversary, and scroll through the photos of the damage, watch the video produced following the attack, or read the staff duty log from the 25th Infantry Division Headquarters. Click on the blue button to read the seventeen page report logging the communications of December 7, 1941, which illustrate the confusion and terror caused by the surprise attack. These items are a few examples of the incredible pieces held at the USAHEC, available to researchers and general visitors alike. Finally, if you're an educator, click HERE to view the lesson plan about Pearl Harbor, created by the USAHEC's Visitor and Education Services Division staff, which uses primary sources from the collection to illustrate the impact of the attack.


This Week in Army History: Danger in the Darkness - The Philippine Insurrection


A Soldier, presumed to be Karl Brauchle of Co. C, 33rd U.S. Volunteer Infantry, poses for a photograph.

Five members of the 33rd pose for a photo while in the Philippines. John D. Harnden stands in the back row center. The man to his right is Private Joseph Epps.

The war appeared won. Americans destroyed half the enemy force on the first day, and the other half surrendered within months. A new effort early the next year to mount main force resistance against the United States was also summarily defeated. Yet the conflict continued, as a festering insurrection against American forces. Iraq and Afghanistan were not the first war zones where U.S. forces faced such challenges. Over a century earlier, Americans dealt with a major insurrection in the Philippine Islands after the Spanish-American War.

This new style of warfare was typified by what happened about 4:00 a.m., on December 4, 1899. The men of the 33rd U.S. Volunteer Infantry were awakened by the sounds of chaos. Shots were being fired; men were yelling; and the sounds of battle were coming from the plaza area of the small Philippine town of Vigan. The Insurrectos had attacked. William Tafton of Company B of the 33rd U.S. Volunteer Infantry wrote,

A group of insurgents and other prisoners are photographed after being captured.

"It being so warm no one slept until a bout mid night, so about 4 o'clock next morning, there came a volley of shots, the sorgent yelled all out, but make no light, now we all jumped up as fast as we could and began to try to find our clothes, it seemed every one had thrown them all in a pile every one trying to get his and no one seem to be able to get any thing to fit him, the sorgent swearing by volum, I, got hold of a shirt a bout 2 sizes to small but I squeezed in it, got some pants and started for shoes, it seemed as if I, tried 15 shoes on and all for the same foot, I, soon got one a bout a no 10, and one I, guess a bout a 7, but a way I, went down stairs."

During the next few hours, a fierce fight took place between the insurgents and the Soldiers stationed at Vigan. The Insurrecto forces had occupied the town hospital and were strategically placed behind a rock wall. Members of the 33rd fired round after round into the rock wall, and the hospital itself, hoping to dislodge their adversary. The dark and cloudy evening made sighting the enemy difficult, as men were forced to aim in the direction of muzzle flashes and any movement they saw.

Soldiers of the 33rd take a break from roasting coffee beans to have their picture taken. The photo was taken in California before the men left for the Philippines.

By morning, the overwhelming firepower of the U.S. Army forces had turned the tide, and the Philippine Insurrectos retreated back into the jungle. The once impenetrable rock wall that shielded the Insurrectionist forces had been nearly leveled by American rifle fire. For the rest of the day sporadic rifle fire was heard from the American outposts, but no further battle took place.

As a result of the fight at Vigan, four Soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor. Lieutenant Colonel James Parker of the 45th U.S. Volunteer Infantry received the award for leading his men and repelling the night attack. Lieutenant Colonel Webb C. Hayes of the 31st U.S. Volunteer Infantry moved through enemy lines alone and at night in order to help the defenders. He would also move back through the lines the next morning to the beach area and secure assistance from Navy forces, and he received the award for these actions. Two Soldiers of the 33rd also earned the nation's highest award. Private Joseph Epps was cited because he climbed a rock wall, discovered a group of insurgents, and forced them to surrender and stack their arms. Private James McConnell spent several hours lying between two dead Soldiers while he continued to fire his weapon and fight off the enemy. His clothing was tattered by rifle fire and flying gravel, but he survived with only minor injuries.


Traditional Turkey on an Unconventional Journey


Each year, Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to reflect and give thanks, especially to the brave men and women who serve this nation. Their service does not end on holidays, and Soldiers sometimes find themselves far away from loved ones at times when families traditionally come together. Recognizing this sacrifice, the Army has gone to great lengths throughout history to give Soldiers a small amount of comfort around the holidays - often through food. This short video from the USAHEC Collection highlights Thanksgiving during the Vietnam War, and begins with a Soldier in the 5th Special Forces Group camp preparing a turkey and all the trimmings. The food is destined for a Special Forces detachment dug in at Xom Cat and accessible only by air. Even with the remote location and the potential for an attack by a North Vietnamese Army unit, the U.S. Army provided a taste of home for Thanksgiving. The Soldier's face at the end of the video says it all - even on a battlefield thousands of miles from home, a Thanksgiving meal was a welcome treat.


This Week in Army History - The Pigeons of War


These homing pigeons are doing much to save the lives of our boys in France. They act as efficient messengers and dispatch bearers not only from division to division and from the trenches to the rear but also are used by our aviators to report back the results of their observation.

In November 1944, G.I. Joe, a member of the United States Army, saved the lives of at least 100 Allied soldiers. G.I. Joe traveled over 20 miles in twenty short minutes to deliver a message of grave importance. With little time to spare, he stopped an air raid from bombing a newly occupied village filled with Allied soldiers. G.I. Joe was not a super soldier; he was a Blue Chock Splashed Pigeon. Though their efforts are rarely remembered, thousands of pigeons flew over the battle-worn trenches of World War I and through the bombarded night skies of World War II.

The U.S. Army Signal Corps used some 600 pigeons in World War I to advance troops, send reconnaissance, and carry crucial military messages. Pigeons played a major role during the World Wars, because they were a dependable source of communication. In World War I, their speed, consistency, and an impressive homing ability were especially useful. While other existing methods of communication were unreliable, over 90% of messages sent by pigeons were received. Trenches often changed hands between opposing sides multiple times within a one-week period, and reliable forms of communication were necessary to relay the ever-changing conditions on the front.

Motorcycle dispatch rider starting under heavy shell fire to deliver pigeons to our most advanced position. France.

A Black Check Carrier Pigeon named Cher Ami aided in rescuing elements of the U.S. 77th Infantry Division, known as the "Lost Battalion." Surrounded by German troops, they endured constant fire from both enemy and Allied forces for six days, and their food and water supplies ran extremely low. Cher Ami delivered many critical messages, but his last mission was the most important. Battered and broken with a gunshot wound to the chest, Cher Ami valiantly carried a message from the "Lost Battalion," stating, "Our artillery is dropping a barrage on us. For heaven's sake, stop it!" Once Cher Ami's message was received, the survivors were rescued and brought safely within American lines. The "Lost Battalion" sustained heavy losses, but Cher Ami's gallant service allowed 194 of its more than 500 Soldiers to survive.

Carrier pigeons being released from regimental P.C., Andernach, Germany. May 30, 1919.

Cher Ami, and forty other pigeons, received honors for their brave service in World War I. Cher Ami received the French Croix de Guerre, with palm for his valiant work. Unfortunately, due to the injuries sustained on his final mission, Cher Ami died months later in 1919. Pigeons, such as G.I. Joe, would be utilized during World War II, but soon after, communication technology advanced, making pigeons obsolete. Next time you happen to see or hear the cooing of one of these birds, take a moment to remember their historic military service.


From Armistice Day to Veterans Day - Honoring American Veterans on November 11th


On November 11th, the United States commemorates Veterans Day, recognizing and honoring all who have served in the military. The first commemoration of November 11th occurred in November 1919, and was known as Armistice Day, created to honor those who fought in World War I. An armistice went into place on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, which ended hostilities in World War I. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11, 1919 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, and the country celebrated with parades and public meetings. The day became a legal holiday each year in 1938, and evolved to be known as Veterans Day in 1954, when congress amended the legal code which made the day a holiday, and changed the word Armistice to Veterans. This act came at the request of veterans' organizations, as they wanted to honor veterans of World War II and the Korean War, in addition to those of World War I.

Veterans Day continues to be observed each year on November 11th, and provides an important opportunity to honor the patriotism, service, and sacrifice of all veterans. The images below are from the USAHEC Collection and depict Soldiers and civilians, in both Europe and America, celebrating the news of the armistice, ending the hostilities of World War I. Take a few moments to look through the photos, and see the joyful celebrations of grateful people, happy to have reached the end of the Great War. Recognition of these Soldiers, who fought and died defending their nation, led to the creation of Armistice Day the following year.

The United States Army Band's Holiday Album of Music, Program 8, with music designed for Armistice (Veterans) Day, 1954.


Click HERE to read the official Veterans Day Proclamation from the White House.

Click HERE to read more about the history of Veterans Day.


This Week in Army History: The Army's First Combat Jump



Seventy-four years ago this month, American paratroopers began their distinguished combat record when the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion made the U.S. Army's first airborne combat jump, near Oran, Algeria on November 8, 1942. One week later, having repacked their own parachutes - paratroopers were their own riggers then - the 509th made its second combat jump at Youks Les Bains on November 15.

While the tactical results were disappointing (for reasons beyond the 509th's control), these initial combat jumps demonstrated the feasibility of employing airborne units to seize critical objectives over significant distances. This first airborne assault launched 39 C-47 aircraft from airfields in England on a 1,500-mile route to drop zones in North Africa. The Army's aggressive commitment to this new tactic was reflected in the re-designation of two infantry divisions (the 82nd and 101st) as airborne divisions in August 1942, less than three months before the 509th jumped into the desert.

WWII Paratrooper recruiting poster. The addition of parachute pay of $50 per month more than doubled the 1942 monthly base pay of a private ($40).


The Distinctive Unit Insignia of the 509th includes a stylized gold figure of a parachutist (from a unit badge worn during WWII), and the five arrowheads represent the regiment's five assault landings during WWII.

The superb combat record of the 509th during the remainder of the war - under a wide variety of challenging tactical conditions - demonstrated the special qualities airborne Soldiers brought to the battlefield as well as the careful planning necessary to ensure the best employment of this elite branch. When the war ended in 1945, the 509th had, in less than three years, completed four combat parachute assaults (North Africa, Italy, Southern France), made one amphibious assault (Anzio), earned two Army Presidential Unit Citations (Carano, Italy and Liege, Belgium), and multiple battalion-level foreign awards. When disbanded in January 1945 after heavy combat during the Battle of the Bulge, with less than ten percent present for duty, the 509th had surely lived up to its motto: "All the Way!"

The bravery, toughness, aggressiveness, and initiative displayed by 509th paratroopers in North Africa, Italy, Southern France, and Germany were born in demanding airborne and infantry training programs in the U.S. and England that included challenging road marches, extended tactical exercises, extensive weapons firing, and realistic parachute training. These same qualities have been demonstrated by the generations of airborne Soldiers who have since served and by the airborne troopers who now carry on the 509th's tradition of combat leadership.

LTC Edson D. Raff, a physically tough and demanding trainer, commanded the 509th in North Africa. February 1943.


Is that an artifact or a condiment?


Bottle of Marie Sharp's Habanero Pepper Sauce, donated to the USAHEC by Specialist John Shirley in 2009.

The USAHEC Collection contains a vast array of items, from the expected - uniforms, equipment, photographs, letters, books - to the unusual, such as this bottle of hot sauce. Specialist John R. Shirley donated his bottle of Marie Sharp's Habanero Pepper Sauce to the USAHEC in 2009, along with other, more familiar items, including uniforms and personal correspondence. Specialist Shirley enlisted in the Army shortly after the 9/11 attacks. After discharge, he joined the National Guard and was a member of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) while attending college. He was recalled to active duty in early 2006 and mobilized from Camp Shelby, Mississippi with the 41st Brigade Combat Team before deploying to Afghanistan in July. He initially served as part of Camp Phoenix's security force, manning guard towers, and in January 2007, he was attached to Company C at Camp Black Horse.

Specialist Shirley's materials provide an important look at the life and experiences of Soldiers who served in the Global War on Terror. While an unconventional and seemingly unimportant item in the eyes of some, this bottle of hot sauce helps tell an important part of the Army's story. The Army has a long history of Soldiers using a variety of methods to improve the taste of their often bland food options, and Specialist Shirley was no different. Though he took the heat up a notch from the Tabasco Pepper Sauce included in Meals, Ready to Eat (a standard issue item in MREs since 1990), his bottle of hot sauce represents generations of Soldiers who wanted to make their repetitive meals more appetizing.


This Week in Army History: The British Surrender at Yorktown


This map shows General Washington's troop movement from New York and British and French Naval actions in August and September 1781.
Click HERE for Larger Image

Two hundred thirty-five years ago this week, the British Army surrendered after the Battle of Yorktown - the last major engagement of the Revolutionary War. The fall of 1781 presented Continental Army General George Washington with an important opportunity - trapping and defeating British General Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, a small Virginia port city. Cornwallis had been ordered to take a post with his army and await the arrival of a Royal Navy fleet to extract him. Washington learned of this and left a "ghost army" outside New York to fool the British, while moving the bulk of his army south into Virginia. Shortly after Washington's army surrounded Yorktown on land, the French fleet defeated the Royal Navy at sea, and the entrapment of Cornwallis was complete.

In conjunction with the French, a formal siege began on September 28, and a series of trench lines were dug, bringing Washington's army ever closer to the main British fortifications surrounding Yorktown. Sergeant Joseph Plumb Martin and his fellow Soldiers of the Corps of Sappers and Miners helped to dig these trenches, which enabled the bombardment of Yorktown to begin on October 9. The British erected a number of earthwork forts, called redoubts, in front of their main defenses, but as the siege progressed, they only retained control of three. Of those, Redoubts 9 and 10 needed to be captured to bring the American and French armies, and their heavy artillery, within striking distance of the main British fortifications.

The French and the American forces devised a plan to assault both redoubts on the evening of October 14 - the French would attack Redoubt 9 and the Americans would attack Redoubt 10. Sergeant Joseph Plumb Martin recalls:

Historical artist H. Charles McBarron's rendering of the final assault on Redoubt 10, produced for the U.S. Army.

"The Sappers and Miners were furnished with axes and were to proceed in front and cut a passage for the troops through the abatis, which are composed of the tops of trees, the small branches cut off with a slanting stroke which renders them as sharp as spikes... We had not lain... long before the expected signal was given... by the three shells with their fiery trains mounting the air in quick succession. The word up, up, was then reiterated through the detachment. We immediately moved silently on toward the redoubt we were to attack, with unloaded muskets. Just as we arrived at the abatis, the enemy discovered us and directly opened a sharp fire upon us... As soon as the firing began, our people began to cry, 'The fort's our own!' and it was 'Rush on boys.' The Sappers and Miners soon cleared a passage for the infantry, who entered it rapidly. Our Miners were ordered not to enter the fort, but there was no stopping them... . I could not pass at the entrance we had made, it was so crowded. I therefore forced a passage at a place where I saw our [cannon] shot had cut away some of the abatis..."

This map shows the actions and troop positions during the Siege of Yorktown from October 6-20, 1781.
Click HERE for Larger Image

The two captured redoubts were immediately incorporated into the second siege trench lines, and the American and French forces constructed cannon batteries to allow pointblank fire against the British defenses. On the morning of October 17, a British drummer mounted the parapet of their fortifications to beat a "parley," [conference between opposing sides to discuss terms] and was joined by an officer waving a white handkerchief. With his fortifications heavily damaged, Cornwallis proposed to surrender. Emissaries from both sides met to work out the details, and two days later, on October 19, 1781, the British troops marched out of Yorktown and laid down their arms to a tune titled "The World Turn'd Upside Down." Martin noted that the British soldiers appeared "all armed, with bayonets fixed, drums beating, and faces lengthening... [and that they] paid the Americans, seemingly, but little attention as they passed them, but they eyed the French with considerable malice depicted in their countenances."

The USAHEC's Army Heritage Trail is home to a replica of Redoubt 10, featuring many of the same defensive works as the original. Stop by to walk the trail and gain a better understanding of the Battle of Yorktown and some of the defenses French and American forces encountered during their siege. Click HERE for more information about the USAHEC's Redoubt 10. In addition to the outdoor exhibit, the USAHEC Collection has materials related to the actions at Yorktown; check out the Yorktown Reference Bibliography below for an overview.


Staff Sergeant Robert Easley's Alive Day


SSG Easley at Combat Outpost Mushan in Afghanistan, June 2012.

Saturday, October 15, 2016 marks Staff Sergeant Rob Easley's fourth "Alive Day." For Soldiers and veterans, "Alive Days" mark the moment when their lives changed dramatically - sustaining wounds, physical or mental, a day they could perhaps have died, but didn't. For some, they are days of celebration, for others, days of quiet reflection on their survival.

Staff Sergeant (SSG) Robert Easley served as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician, and was deployed to southern Afghanistan with the 787th EOD in 2012. This was SSG Easley's second deployment. He first deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom for fourteen months (2008-2009) with the 10th Mountain Division as an infantryman (1-87). While out on foot patrol on October 15, 2012, SSG Easley stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). He lost both legs, making him a bilateral, above-knee amputee, and also sustained multiple injuries to his right hand, including partial amputation of his pointer, middle, and index fingers. Swift work by his unit's medic saved his life, and after receiving initial treatment in Afghanistan, he was transferred to Germany, and then to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, Maryland for recovery and rehabilitation.


SSG Easley in "shorties," his first pair of prosthetics.

As part of the recovery process, he was up and moving as quickly as possible after being injured. Initially receiving therapy in a wheelchair, he transitioned to his first pair of prosthetic legs ("shorties" - low to the ground to make balance easier while learning the new motion of walking), just 53 days after his injury. He made great progress initially, but eventually experienced challenges with severe pain in his residual limbs due to Heterotopic Ossification (HO) (excess bone grown in the soft tissue of the residual limbs). He also had issues finding a good fit for his prosthetics, because his left residual limb was much shorter than his right. Unwilling to give up on spending more time in prosthetics than in his wheelchair, SSG Easley underwent surgery for the HO, and eventually, pursued femur extension surgery in the early part of 2014. Doctors implanted a device, which slowly stretched the left, residual femur, and after two rounds of surgery and stretching, SSG Easley gained nearly four inches of length in his left residual limb. After spending a year allowing the femur to fully heal, he resumed physical therapy and got re-acclimated to walking in prosthetics.

A model of SSG Easley's left residual limb, showing the Heterotopic Ossification (excessive bone growth) he experienced in the summer of 2013.

SSG Easley spent almost three and a half years at WRNMMC, as he underwent multiple surgeries, and spent countless hours in physical therapy. In addition to his therapy at the hospital, SSG Easley joined the USA Warriors, and learned how to play sled hockey with other wounded veterans. This year, he tried out for and made the 2016-2017 USA Sled Hockey Developmental Team. Though he faced a challenging path, SSG Easley persevered through numerous setbacks, and on March 31, 2016, after nine and a half years of service, he officially retired from the U.S. Army. He and his wife, Megan, moved to Florida following his retirement, and are thoroughly enjoying their time as a family, reunited with their dogs and, finally, beginning life away from the hospital. Two exhibits at the USAHEC, one inside and one outside, feature SSG Easley's story in conjunction with information about IEDs. If you're in the area, be sure to stop by to learn more about his service and sacrifice!


In his apartment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, SSG Easley holds a replica of a Purple Heart, given to him by a supporter.

SSG Easley is a forward on the 2016-2017 USA Developmental Sled Hockey Team and the USA Warriors Sled Hockey Team.


This Week in Army History: Sergeant Alvin C. York, A Reluctant Hero


Sergeant Alvin C. York of Pall Mall, Tennessee, served with the 328th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Infantry Division.

In December 1887, a hero was born to humble parents in a farming community in middle Tennessee. The York family supplemented their income by hunting in the woods around Pall Mall, where young Alvin became an expert rifleman. From the Pall Mall Valley in Tennessee to the hills of the Argonne Forest in France, fame and notoriety found Alvin Cullum York. As a young man, he was "wild and bad," enjoying drinking, smoking, and gambling. This lifestyle changed when his mother challenged him to be a man like his father and grandfathers. Taking this challenge to heart, he carried her message as he served his country during World War I.

On October 5, 1918, Corporal Alvin C. York entered the Argonne Forest with the 328th Infantry Regiment, starting a chapter in his life that would cement his name into history. The German Army had dominated the area and made life almost impossible. Ordered to take Hill 223 on October 8, the regiment moved forward. German machine gun fire from the front and flanks forced the Americans to go around the enemy's left flank. Almost immediately, Corporal York found himself in command, as his leaders were killed. York and the few men left with him jumped across a small stream, surprising and capturing 15 to 20 German soldiers, including an officer. Before he surrendered, the German officer emptied his pistol firing at, but not harming, Corporal York.


Sgt. York stands in front of the hill on which the raid took place. Argonne Forest, near Cornay, Ardennes, France. Feb. 7, 1919.


When the machine guns turned to fire upon the Americans, Corporal York "touched them off" one by one, as he tried to negotiate with the German officer to surrender his troops. Twenty-eight German soldiers died before those remaining surrendered. The area around were Alvin York stood was barren from the machine gun fire, yet the spot where he stood was undisturbed.

Corporal York and his band of seven men marched 132 prisoners back to the American side. Later, it was determined that York had discharged 28 shots and killed 28 German soldiers who refused to surrender. Corporal Alvin C. York was honored by a promotion to Sergeant and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The French Republic bestowed upon him the Croix de Guerre and Legion of Honor. York also received the Italian Croce de Guerra and the War Medal from Montenegro.

Vicinity of Sgt. York's raid 1-1/2 kilo northwest, of Chatel Chehery, Ardennes, 328th Inf. Regt., 82nd Div., Argonne Forest, France. Feb. 1, 1919.

In April 1919, Alvin C. York was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, The citation read:

After his platoon had suffered heavy casualties and 3 other noncommissioned officers had become casualties, Cpl. York assumed command. Fearlessly leading 7 men, he charged with great daring a machinegun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In this heroic feat the machinegun nest was taken, together with 4 officers and 128 men and several guns.


Poster Art in the USAHEC Collection


Introduced to an American audience in World War I, poster art was intended to foster positive public opinion of the war, while inspiring participation and support from the citizenry. After successful use during the First World War, posters were again put into use during World War II. Building the confidence of the American public helped them invest in the effort needed to support the war, either through direct military service or sacrifice and action on the home front. The posters created strong national unity and boosted morale, inspiring success that contributed to victory in World War II.

The USAHEC has an incredible collection of poster art from different eras of U.S. Army history, with an especially rich variety of posters from World War I and World War II. Some posters contain the famous imagery of Rosie the Riveter encouraging female service on the home front and Uncle Sam beckoning men to enlist. While the pictures on other posters may be less familiar, the messages encouraging military service, home front support, and sacrifice remain. The posters intended for the home front contain patriotic and persuasive imagery and messaging aimed at inspiring the nation to support the military through saving scrap metal, eliminating food waste, and contributing to the war effort through the purchase of Liberty Bonds. Other posters contained cautionary messages, professing the importance writing and speaking carefully when discussing the war effort. Recruiting posters came in every shape and size - encouraging men to enlist in all branches of military service, and women to join the Army Nurse Corps and the Women's Army Corps. Other posters urged support on the civilian side, either through joining organizations such The Salvation Army or the American Red Cross or taking manufacturing jobs. Though some of the messages may seem outdated by today's standards, these posters were tremendously effective in uniting the nation and motivating Americans to support the war effort in whatever way they could.

Though the images below represent only a small sample of the posters in the USAHEC Collection, the variety of messages is evident. In addition to the posters themselves, the USAHEC Collection contains numerous resources dedicated to the use of posters throughout U.S. Army history. Take a look at the Posters Reference Bibliography for more information.


This Week in Army History: Army Officers and an Air Rifle - A Glimpse at the Lewis and Clark Expedition


Girandoni System Austrian Repeating Air Rifle, Circa 1795. This rifle is believed to have been carried on the Lewis and Clark Army Corps of Discovery Expedition, 1803-1806. The rifle has a maximum capacity of 22 round .463 caliber balls held in a tubular magazine.

Two hundred and ten years ago today, Captain William Clark's journal entry sounded rather mundane: "Thursday, September 23, 1806, Took an early breckfast with Colo. Hunt and Set out decended to the Mississippi and down that river to St. Louis at which place we arived about 12 oClock." September 23, 1806 was no ordinary day, however, as it marked the final day of the Corps of Discovery journey, a U.S. Army expedition that began on May 14, 1804, and traveled to the West Coast and back.

Before the trip, President Thomas Jefferson selected Captain Meriwether Lewis, 1st Infantry Regiment, to lead the Corps of Discovery into the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase. Lewis was in his late twenties at the start of the trip, and personally selected William Clark as his assistant, who received only a second lieutenant's commission. The Corps varied in size throughout the trip, but generally consisted of the two officers, three to four non-commissioned officers, twenty-three to thirty enlisted men, and three to fourteen civilians.

Recreation of an Austrian Girandoni System Accouterments Bag. This bag includes spare air flasks, air pump, wrenches, bullet mold, and ladle. Although the Lewis and Clark journals do not document the type of tools they carried, the air rifle would not have functioned without them.

Jefferson instructed Lewis to travel the Missouri River and preferably, other rivers to the Pacific Ocean. Lewis and his men were to note landmarks, climate, vegetation, animals, and measurements of the waterways (using latitude and longitude), and were to learn the ways of the people they met. A great deal transpired in their "absence of two years, four months and ten days," as noted by Sergeant Patrick Gass - struggles on rivers and over mountains, confrontations with grizzly bears, days of boredom, discoveries of unique creatures and plants, and meetings with Native Americans.

One particular item they took along was at least one air rifle, which Lewis often demonstrated to Native Americans. Before the trip, Lewis wrote that shortly after leaving Pittsburgh by river in August 1803, he "went on shore and being invited on by some of the gentlemen present to try my airgun which I had purchased brought it on shore charged it and fired myself seven times fifty five yards with pretty good success."

Lewis noted in his journal the numerous times he showed Native Americans how the rifle worked and how they reacted. He recorded that on January 24, 1806, "my Air-gun also astonishes them very much, they cannot comprehend its shooting so often and without powder." Simply seeing the impressive action of the rifle may have deterred some who thought of attacking the Corps, and perhaps, this rifle helped free the way for Lewis and Clark to safely cross the continent on one of the most famous exploratory expeditions in history. This expedition, conducted by the U.S. Army, alerted the nation to the wonders and riches of the Louisiana Territory and the Columbia River Basin.

An air rifle believed to have been on the Lewis and Clark Expedition is part of the USAHEC Collection, and is currently on display at the Pentagon.


Telling the Army Story... One Soldier at a Time: Sergeant Gregory Clark


Sergeant Gregory Clark, a Carlisle native, served with the 1-4 Infantry, Army Training Command (Hohenfels, Germany) and the 2-14 Infantry, 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (Ft. Drum, New York), August 2006 - December 2010.

In the next week, the USAHEC will open an addition to its Visitor and Education Center building. With new multipurpose rooms and a new exhibit gallery, this space expands the USAHEC's ability to tell Soldiers stories and illustrate the life and experiences of those who have served their country. One such Soldier is Sergeant Gregory Clark, who served with the 1-4 Infantry, Army Training Command (Hohenfels, Germany) and the 2-14 Infantry, 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (Ft. Drum, New York) from August 2006 - December 2010.

Sergeant Clark's platoon (roughly 40 people) deployed to the Mizan District of Afghanistan in July 2007, living in a mountainous valley in the southeastern part of the country. As a very small entity on a remote Forward Operating Base (FOB), the platoon had to bring their own mechanics, medics, mortar men, and even field one of their own Soldiers as the FOB cook. Life for the Soldiers on FOB Mizan included performing guard duty, conducting missions in the surrounding area, coordinating supply drops, and responding to enemy attacks.

The story of 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 1-4 Infantry's deployment to Afghanistan will be told through large canvas prints, featuring photographs taken during the deployment. Sergeant Clark serves as the narrator for the images, and his captions discuss the daily life of the Soldiers living on FOB Mizan. Hanging throughout the hallway of the USAHEC's new expansion, these images will provide visitors insight into how Soldiers lived and worked while deployed. A sample of the photographs and captions is included below, but be sure to plan a visit to the USAHEC to see the full array of images and learn more about Sergeant Clark and 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 1-4 Infantry's time in Afghanistan.


Heroic Huey Pilot: Colonel Joseph D. Newsom


Captain Newsome poses with a Huey helicopter. The logo for his unit, 118th Aviation Company ("The Bandits"), is visible on the door.

Joe Newsome, a Pennsylvania native, graduated from the Pennsylvania Military College in 1961 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. During his 28-year career, he served in a variety of units, including Field Artillery and Aviation. In July 1964, he completed the Officer Rotary Wing Aviator course and deployed to Vietnam in November. Upon his arrival at Bien Hoa, Vietnam, he was assigned to the 118th Aviation Company of the 145th Aviation Battalion, flying UH-1B-1B (Huey) gunships. Known as "The Bandits," they flew combat missions throughout the III and IV Corps areas of operation. Between December 2, 1964 and June 5, 1965, Captain Newsome was awarded the Air Medal with twenty-six Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart. He completed his tour in November 1965 and returned to the United States, where he served as a helicopter instructor and also completed training on the CH-47 (Chinook) at Fort Wolters, Texas. While at this station, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts to rescue the crew of a downed helicopter and survivors of a related ground action during his 1964-1965 tour in Vietnam. In October 1967, he returned to Vietnam for a second tour and was assigned to the 228th Assault Support Helicopter Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) as Aircraft Commander, initially flying CH-47B Chinook helicopters and later, as Company Operations Officer and Platoon Commander. During this tour of duty, he was awarded the Bronze Star

Newsome returned to the U.S. in October 1968 as a major, and continued to serve in different units at installations around the world. He returned to Southeast Asia for a third time in 1971-1972, and was attached to the U.S. Navy as Army Air Operations Officer with an Amphibious Task Force deployed off the coast of North and South Vietnam. He was awarded the Master Army Aviator designation in 1981 and promoted to Colonel in 1983. He retired on July 31, 1989 at Fort Meade, Maryland. Today, Colonel Newsome's papers, photographs, and artifacts are a part of the extensive holdings of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center.


This Week in Army History: The Medical Field Service School at Carlisle Barracks


Medical Field Service School Basic Course booklet, part of the USAHEC Collection.

World War I brought advanced weaponry, chemical warfare, and the Influenza Pandemic, requiring the U.S. Army to find effective and innovative solutions to the medical problems these challenges presented Soldiers on the battlefield. The Army Medical Field Service School at Carlisle Barracks was the answer to these concerns.

The Medical Field Service School took over the military reservation on Carlisle Barracks on September 1, 1920, 96 years ago this week. The initial organization included the Departments of Military Art, Enlisted Training, Hygiene, Equipment, and Transportation, along with the Veterinary and Dental Corps. At the forefront of innovative battlefield medical treatments from the time of the American Revolution, the U.S. Army continued this tradition during the Army Medical Field Service School's time in Carlisle. Arguably the most famous improvement developed in Carlisle was originally called "First-aid Packet, U.S. Government Carlisle Model." Nicknamed the "Carlisle Bandage," it was carried by every Soldier in World War II.

Originally called "First-aid Packet, U.S. Government Carlisle Model", the "Carlisle Bandage" was carried by every Soldier in a web pouch on his equipment belt during World War II.

Medical advancements also related to transportation, as the ambulance transformed from a horse-drawn carriage to the wheeled vehicles of today, partly through research conducted at Carlisle Barracks. The helicopter, for the purposes of medical transportation, or medical evacuation, was also introduced there. The inventors of the helicopter brought two machines to Carlisle Barracks in 1935 for demonstrations before the Medical Department Board. Through repeated takeoffs and landings, the pilots demonstrated the very small amount of level ground needed for the machines. The helicopter would later be used to great effect in Korea and Vietnam.

The chair and engine completely assembled with the tools necessary for this work. [Dental Chair]

The advances in medicine that resulted from the research conducted at the Medical Field Service School saved many lives. Whether for transporting injured Soldiers and medical supplies; or for teaching battlefield first aid and preventing disease, the Army has continually sought to improve health care delivery systems and programs for Soldiers. Many of these lessons were also adopted by civilian hospitals and medical practitioners, further advancing health care for the entire country.

In all, over 30,000 officers and NCOs passed through the school during its 26-year tenure at Carlisle Barracks. The school moved to Fort Sam Houston in 1946, and continues pursuing medical advances and improvements in health care.

This photograph shows testing being performed for a "Rubber Tire Ambulance," as compared to the iron rimmed, spoke wheel ambulance, circa 1930.

Mule drawn iron rimmed, spoke wheel ambulance, 1930.


World War I through the Eyes of a Soldier: The John C. Harguth Photograph Collection


John Christopher Harguth was born July 2, 1896 in Waseca, Minnesota, to parents who emigrated from East Prussia to Minnesota in the early 1890's. He joined the U.S. Army on February 25, 1918 and was assigned to Headquarters Company, 32nd Engineers. Private Harguth traveled overseas on the USS Leviathan, leaving Hoboken, New Jersey on May 22, 1918 and arriving in Brest, France on May 30, 1918. He served in the Headquarters of the 32nd Engineers at Bordeaux Embarkation Camp, and his unit was a standard gauge railway construction regiment. In addition to his regular duties, Harguth played the cornet and was appointed company bugler on October 7, 1918. Harguth returned to the United States on the USS Susquehanna in December 1918 and was honorably discharged on June 18, 1919. After returning to the United States, he attended the University of Minnesota and received a Doctorate of Dental Surgery in 1931. He married Marcella Marie Small in October of 1932, and they had three children. He lived in Minnesota for the rest of his life and remained an active member of the community, serving in the Knights of Columbus. He died May 3, 1977 in Olmsted, Minnesota.

Harguth's family donated his World War I-era items to the USAHEC in 2009. His collection includes photographs, postcards, papers and other archival materials, uniform pieces, equipment, and medals. The photograph collection features images of Soldiers, equipment, battlefields, artillery, trenches, camp life, civilians, towns, trains, ships, and landscapes. The following photos are a small sample of the types of images found in the John C. Harguth Photograph Collection, and further detail about the collection can be found in the finding aid.


On April 2, 1951, President Harry Truman signed a proclamation establishing Armed Forces Day. At the time of this photograph, the Army had been operating the nation's railroads for more than seven months. Secretary of the Army Frank Pace, Jr., stands directly behind Truman, fourth from the left.

This Week in Army History: When an Army at War Must Help at Home


On August 25, 1950, President Harry Truman ordered the Army - two months into the Korean War - to seize control of all major U.S. railroads from the 194 owning companies by August 27. The order came before a national labor strike, scheduled for August 28, would have shut down the country's most important means of transportation. Secretary of the Army Frank Pace, Jr. said in a statement that day, "We must not permit the flow of essential support to the forces in Korea to be interrupted." Assistant Secretary of the Army Karl Bendetsen telegraphed the union presidents and rail companies and asked if labor and management would work under Army control. Both sides agreed to comply with the Army's request for continued operations, and the labor unions called off their strike.

While the military kept America's railroads running under Truman, it sought the opposite elsewhere. Here, the Fifth Air Force's 452nd Light Bomb Wing drops napalm on rail cars south of Wonsan, North Korea, an east coast port city, circa 1950-51.

The strike plans arose out of more than a year of disagreements between unions and rail companies over wage demands and desired rule changes. The sides took another 21 months to reach a settlement; meanwhile, the Army retained control of national rail operations while also handling the Korean War. Due to the wartime shortage of troops, the Army spared only 46 officers, one enlisted man (a sergeant), and eight civilian clerks to full-time rail service. It did this successfully by staying in the background when possible, interfering with rail operations only when necessary to maintain uninterrupted service.

Such interruptions were rare. One occurred from December 13-15, 1950, when rail employees in Chicago, St. Louis, Washington, and other major rail junctions held unorganized "sick strikes," where many employees essentially "called in sick" at once. The Army sought court action against the unions, and President Truman appealed to employees to return to work in a December 15 radio address, both of which helped to quickly end the disruption.

A Weasel goes on a test drive during World War II. The Sixth Army sent Weasels to help evacuate passengers on a snowbound train in California, January 1952.

Occasional crises required larger Army intervention. On January 13, 1952, a blizzard caused snow slides, which the Southern Pacific Railroad in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, near Immigrant Gap, California. A San Francisco-bound luxury train with 196 passengers and 30 crew members became stuck in the snow. The Sixth Army cooperated with railroad management and state highway crews in rescue and relief, sending troops with Weasels - tracked snow vehicles - to reach the train. Crews freed the stranded train three days later, using the Weasels to evacuate some passengers.

A copy of Truman's order for the Army to return railroads to private control, May 23, 1952.

On May 21, 1952, rail companies and the major labor unions finally settled their dispute, and President Truman approved the return of the rail systems to private ownership on May 23. Secretary Pace formally terminated 21 months of wartime control of America's railroads later that day.


A Soldier's Diary of the Philippine Insurrection


A self portrait of the diary owner, Private William E. Ammerman.

Private William E. Ammerman purchased this diary in 1900 in Lemeri [Lemery], Batangas Province, slightly south of Manila in the Philippines. He used it to record some of his experiences while serving in the Philippines with Company D, 28th Infantry Regiment. This record includes ordinary details, such as the games played by Soldiers or the food they ate on daily basis, while also noting intense accounts of engagements with the enemy and close calls in combat. A budding artist, Private Ammerman drew pictures throughout the diary of everything from extensive landscapes to fellow Soldiers to wildlife encountered in the jungles of the Philippines. He gave this diary to a nephew at some point in the early 1930's, and beyond the words of the diary, little is known about Ammerman. He lived a transient life, passing in and out of contact with family, which does not provide a clear picture of his history. Ammerman's family donated this diary to the USAHEC in 2014, and it is now an important part of the Philippine Insurrection materials held at the facility.


Army Property Accountability: The Hand Receipt for the Atomic Bomb "Little Boy"


At 8:16AM on August 6, 1945, above Hiroshima, Japan, Captain Williams Parsons of the United States Navy, armed and released "Little Boy" from the bomb bay of the B-29 Superfortress, Enola Gay. When the bomb was loaded on the plane, it was accompanied by this hand receipt, showing the chain of responsibility from Dr. Norman Ramsey, the lead scientist of the bomb's construction team, to Brigadier General Thomas Farrell, Field Operations Commander of Tinian Island Air Strip, and lastly, Captain Parsons, Mission Commander. The note on the side of the receipt is Parson's acknowledgement that he "expended" the weapon. This receipt for "Little Boy" is a remarkable part of the USAHEC Collection, documenting both how the Army maintains meticulous property records and an important piece of history. This single event marked a critical turning in the Pacific Theater during WWII. Globally, it changed forever how conflicts were fought and for a generation, created the "nuclear deterrent," which became the weapon used to fight the Cold War.

Both countries prevailed through the difficult years of occupation after WWII, and today, the U.S. and Japan are close partners in trade and commerce, and continue to work together to lead the world in science and technological development.


This receipt shows signatures of additional Manhattan and Alberta Project personnel, collected by Brigadier General Farrell, after the Enola Gay returned from its mission. Personnel who signed the receipt include:

RADM William Purnell - Navy rep to the Military Policy Committee. Number three uniformed member of the Manhattan Project.

CMDR Frederick Ashworth - Weaponeer (commander/pilot) for Nagasaki bombing. Responsible for selecting Tinian Island to base the atomic weapons. Director of Operations for Project Alberta

Norman Ramsey - Group leader of the team that designed and built the actual bombs. Nobel Prize winner, founder of the Brookhaven National Laboratory.

CPT William Parsons - Weaponeer (commander/co-pilot) for Hiroshima bombing. One of the primary technical and tactical experts in Project Alberta.

BG Thomas Farrell - Deputy and XO to BG Groves and the number two uniformed member of the Manhattan Project. Senior officer on Tinian Island and the Army rep to the Military Policy Committee.

Lawrence Langer - Physicist instrumental in the final assembly of Little Boy. Supposedly slept atop the bomb the night before it was dropped to ensure no one tampered with it.

CP Baker - Physicist and one of the team leaders who dealt with the "pit" or the uranium core which is the primary explosive material for the atomic bomb.

Donald Mastick - Young physicist assigned to work on the Manhattan project from the start. Mastick accidentally opened a plutonium vial when it burst, causing him to swallow plutonium. He lived, but the plutonium remained in his system for the rest of his life.

In addition to the receipt for "Little Boy," the USAHEC also has a number items in the collection related to Hiroshima, including photographs from the Signal Corps documenting the development of atomic weaponry and pieces of pottery found at ground zero. The following photographs are a small sample from the World War II Signal Corps Collection, and show Hiroshima immediately following the detonation of the atomic bomb.


This Week in Army History: Nixon Doctrine and Vietnamization


Theater made insignia patch for the 22nd Republic of Vietnam Infantry Regiment.

On July 25, 1969, at the apex of the Vietnam War, U.S. President Richard M. Nixon publicly unveiled what would subsequently become known as the Nixon Doctrine. During a press conference while visiting Guam, the President announced the U.S. had plans to increase the training of South Vietnamese troops and bring the American Soldiers home. The term "Vietnamization" came to embody the Nixon Doctrine, and this doctrine consisted of three major tenets. First, the U.S. would honor all of its treaty agreements. Second, the U.S. would provide a shield if a nuclear power threatened an ally or a country the U.S. deemed to be vital to its national defense. And, lastly, the U.S. would provide military and economic aid to countries under treaty agreements, but the requesting nation would be expected to provide the manpower for its own defense. President Nixon applied this doctrine directly to Vietnam.

Sergeant First Class (SFC) Norman A. Doney (standing, far right) with a group of Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) men, who were training with the 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces, September 1968.

The Vietnamese soldiers would be trained to fight their own war, in their own country, by the U.S. Army. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) had already been training with U.S. troops and were organized and supplied with surplus U.S. arms and uniforms. One U.S. unit that specialized in training civilian defense groups was the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). This unit had been in Vietnam since September 1962, with the primary mission of creating and training civilian defense groups. Three primary groups were the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG), the National Police Field Forces, and the Peoples Self-Defense Force. These groups, composed of local villagers and indigenous peoples, were trained to help patrol and defend the borders of Vietnam.

These groups originally received 8 weeks of training focused on a vital function: they had to help the U.S. forces defend Vietnam. After the Nixon Doctrine was announced, their training was increased, and many were eventually re-designated as Ranger Companies or Battalions. Some of the units were attached to the ARVN; others were banded together to form Regional and Provincial Forces. The CIDG transfer to the ARVN or Regional and Provincial Forces was completed by 1971, at which time the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) returned to the U.S.

The Nixon Doctrine and "Vietnamization" marked the beginning of the end for U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The U.S. Army showed devotion and selfless service by training the South Vietnamese people to fight for themselves and their country, and the Special Forces used the lessons learned in Vietnam when conducting future counterinsurgency training in other nations. The Army continued this practice by training Iraqi and Afghan forces in order that they may protect themselves and their countries, and to understand what it is to be "Army Strong."

Theater made pocket insignia patch for a Civilian Irregular Defense Group (Phu Tuc area).


Operation Arrowhead, U.S. Army Special Forces advised and trained CIDG paratroopers are shown guarding detainees until the can be moved to safer area. Bottom: CIDG paratroopers check detainees as they are brought in from the operational area immediately following the combat parachute assault. Civilians are gathered and moved to safe areas for protection during the search. Both photographs by MSG D. F. West, Nha Trang, RVN, 18 May 1967 5th SFG (Abn).


An Army Love Story: Corporal Nelle Yvonne Timlin and Technical Sergeant Glenn Edward Mastalio


The Mastalios collected patches from various units and sewed them onto this blanket. A large number of divisions of the U.S. Army are represented on the blanket, with some patches from other branches of the military and international units as well.

Born on September 7, 1917 in Wesleyville, Pennsylvania, Nelle Yvonne Timlin enlisted in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) on October 29, 1942. She completed medical technician training at Drew Field, Tampa, Florida and was assigned to Section W, 327th Army Air Forces Base Unit. She was transferred to Barksdale Field, Louisiana, and assigned to the 331st Army Air Forces Base Unit, where she worked in Ward 4, the men's surgical ward, at the base hospital. Corporal Timlin met her future husband, Technical Sergeant Glenn Edward Mastalio, while assigned to Barksdale Field. He was born at Long Point, Illinois on July 3, 1918, and enlisted in the Army on December 10, 1941. He served with a medical unit with the Third Air Force at Barksdale Field, Louisiana. Technical Sergeant Mastalio and Corporal Timlin were married in 1945, and both were honorably discharged in November of that year.

Both Corporal Timlin and Technical Sergeant Mastalio donated materials to the USAHEC, including pieces of each of their uniforms, and a "patch blanket." These items convey important pieces of the Army's story, as they highlight unique parts of World War II history, including the initial service of women in roles other than nurses and the period when the Air Force was still a component of the Army.


Northeastern Chapter of the 88th Infantry Division Association Reunion at the USAHEC


Veterans of the 88th Infantry Division stand with their monument in the USAHEC Memorial Garden.

On Friday, July 15, 2016, the USAHEC and the Army Heritage Center Foundation hosted a visit from the Northeastern Chapter of the 88th Infantry Division Association as part of their final reunion. The chapter is disbanding due to the age of the members, but they wanted to make one final visit to the USAHEC to see pieces of their history and their monument in the USAHEC Memorial Garden. Dedicated five years ago, this monument is in memory of the fallen comrades of the "Fighting Blue Devils," who served in the 88th Infantry Division, Trieste United States Troops, and United States Forces Austria. The memorial service included words from the chaplain, a recitation of the names of recently deceased veterans, and a 21 gun salute.

While the 88th Divisions roots are anchored in the First World War, the 88th Infantry Division's lineage and honors shine brightest in the Second World War. From the beginnings as the first "all draftee division" at Camp Gruber Oklahoma in 1942, to their last duty as occupation troops in Italy and Trieste in 1947, the Soldiers of the 88th distinguished themselves throughout Southern Europe. They were the first division to enter Rome and Vatican City, and more than 3,000 Bronze Stars, 522 Silver Stars, 40 Distinguished Service Crosses, and two Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from the Division. At war's end, the 88th continued on as occupation troops, holding the Morgan Line and ensuring no hostilities erupted between the Socialist government of Yugoslavia and the Allied Forces in Italy. Known as the TRUST troops, they had the difficult task of maintaining a precarious peace between formerly warring nations. The shoulder patch of the 88th became the symbol of peace in that part of the world.

In addition to the Memorial Service at the monument, the group toured the USAHEC and viewed some of the materials from the USAHEC Collection related to the 88th Infantry Division. Click HERE to view the Reference Bibliography of materials related to the 88th ID, and click HERE to view the 88th ID materials and stories, which are part of the Veteran Survey Collection.


This Week in Army History: The Army Hits the Beaches


This McClellan saddle was used by the Mounted Beach Patrol on St. Catherine's Island (Georgia) during World War II.

The United States was at war during the summer of 1942. While all eyes were cast across the oceans, toward Europe and Asia, the war was closer to home than many people realized. German U-boats were active off the Atlantic Coast. Shipping was often torpedoed and sunk within sight of the coast, and wreckage frequently washed up on the beaches, and there was concern about landing parties or agents coming ashore from these submarines. The entire Atlantic Coast was vulnerable, and guarding it, a daunting prospect.

In July 1942, the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters issued directives establishing a beach patrol system along coastal areas. On the Georgia coast, the military combined National Guard Soldiers with Coast Guardsmen to create a force whose mission was to patrol the island beaches and observe the coast. With the establishment of the Mounted Beach Patrol, St. Catherine's Island, a thirteen mile long, five mile wide barrier island off the Georgia Coast, became home to a contingent of Army and Coast Guard personnel and their horses. The horses sent for use on the patrols came straight from wild herds and had never been ridden or broken to a saddle; thus the men had to perform the formidable task of breaking their own mounts prior to performing their mission. Fortunately, two of the men in the initial group were from Oklahoma and Texas, and with their assistance, the men managed to break the horses, although not without a few bruises and broken bones.

The patrols were sent out at all hours to monitor activity in the Atlantic and maintained contact with the mainland by radio. The men were housed in renovated slave cabins from the pre-Civil War era, and later, a barracks was built on the south end of the island to house those who patrolled that area. Eventually, several Jeeps were brought to the island to assist with transportation and communication, and the existing force was augmented by the addition of seven patrol dogs.

At the end of World War II, the men went home, and the horses were sold. In 1975, one of the unit's McClellan saddles still remained in the old stable on the island, and it was acquired by a collector. This saddle and the wall mounted rack to hold the saddle were donated to the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, bringing this unique piece of Army history to light once again.


U.S. Army Bands on Independence Day


This week, we honor Independence Day, with a recording from the USAHEC Collection made by the U.S. Army Band on behalf of the U.S. Army Recruiting Service in 1954. The U.S. Army Band and Chorus produced A Holiday Album of Music, as part of a series created to pay tribute to various holidays. The music on Program No. 6 in this series includes "American Patrol," "American Salute," and "The Stars and Stripes Forever," specifically designed to honor Independence Day. Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Curry served as the conductor for this recording and was the commander of The U.S. Army Band from 1946 to 1964. He was the assistant band leader during World War II, and during his tenure, the Army Strings, the Army Chorus, and the Army Herald Trumpets were formed.

Music has long played an important role in Army history. From providing steady marching rhythms and participating in official performances to engaging in community outreach and morale boosting, musicians have been a part of the Army since its inception. Around the world, in combat zones and on the Homefront, Army Bands provide a morale boost to Soldiers and a way for civilians to connect to and appreciate the efforts of the military. These photos from the USAHEC Collection show the presence and importance of music throughout the Army's history.

The United States Army Band's Holiday Album of Music, Program 6, with music designed for Independence Day, 1954.


Click HERE to learn more about the history of U.S. Army Bands.

Click HERE to read more about the materials related to Military Bands in the USAHEC Collection.


This Week in History: The Berlin Airlift - "Luftbrücke: Air Bridge of Survival and Hope"


Berlin youngsters mount a Trümmerberg (rubble mountain) to get a better look at supply plane landing at Tempelhof.

"At first the noise of the planes kept us awake at night. But now we sleep through it all. It's only when it's quiet that we wake up - afraid the Luftbrücke has stopped. Every bite of food we get is flown in by those planes," Charlotte Werner told a New York Times Magazine reporter in 1949. The recent war made her no stranger to the sound of planes, but three years later, Charlotte, her Wehrmacht veteran husband, and three children would hear overhead engines as sounds of hope.

Sacks of flour are offloaded from a supply plane..

A crisis in the spring of 1948 led to the gradual disintegration of the four-power division of control in Berlin. The Soviet Union withdrew from the four-power governing Allied Control Council, and in June, following a disagreement about eastern and western sector currencies, the Soviet Union gradually closed vehicular traffic, then barge movement, then rail access to Berlin from the west. There was no standing agreement granting the Allies access through the Soviet-controlled territory, and for all practical purposes, the city of Berlin was blockaded from the rest of the world. Ground routes were cut off, but the same was not true for air corridors. A November 1945 agreement provided for three twenty-mile wide corridors to provide access to the city, which had two servicing airports, with a combined total of three functional runways.

Once offloading is complete, German women sweep up coal dust at RAF Gatow. The spillage was turned into briquettes.

General Lucius D. Clay, commander of the U.S. Occupation Zone in Germany, who had in March started an airlift to supply food and ammunition to the U.S. garrison in Berlin (Operation LITTLE LIFT), proposed similar, large-scale operations in cooperation with the British, who were comparably supplying their troops in the city. Throughout the summer of 1948, this Anglo-American operation flew into Tempelhof and Gatow airports. By the fall, the French joined the effort, and their engineers were able to complete a third airport (Tegel) within three months.

The first supply planes landed in Berlin on June 26, 1948. Within four days of activating Operation VITTLES (Operation PLAINFAIRE in British), a supply plane was landing at Tempelhof Air Base every eight minutes, and by mid-July, 2,000 tons of cargo reached Berlin every day. LTG William H. Tunner took control of the operation on July 27, and began to improve its efficiency. Each of the three air corridors presented its own unique flying challenges, such as large apartment buildings in the approach path and inclement weather conditions. Tunner's "reforms" made it possible keep Berlin supplied with food. Fuel was, however, a unique problem, as coal dust would sift from their sacks and seep into the inner fuselage of the aircraft. Initially, coal was sacked in Army duffle bags, but later cloth and paper bags were developed to carry this most precious commodity without endangering the air crews.

During the long winter, as she struggled against shortages of almost every commodity, Charlotte Werner told an American reporter, "The Western Allies must not leave. I will not give up my hope that everything will work out. After all, that is all I have." The Airlift carried more than two million tons of supplies to Charlotte and her fellow Berliners before the Soviets lifted the blockade. The supply flights ended on May 12, 1949. This unprecedented humanitarian relief expedition provided uncounted thousands of Berliners with physical and spiritual nourishment - and with the knowledge that they were not standing alone against the vice of tyranny.

A resident of the Neuköln District of the city receives her weekly coal ration.

Click above to watch footage from the Berlin Airlift


MSG (Ret.) Anthony Remza, working with a patient, after his retirement from the U.S. Army.

Master Sergeant Anthony Wallace Remza, Army Physical Therapist


Master Sergeant Anthony Wallace Remza's materials are part of the USAHEC's collection, and represent 33 years of service in the Army and the Pennsylvania National Guard, between 1917 and 1961. His service spanned three wars, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War, and he worked as an early physical therapist after WWII, helping to develop new treatments for wounded Soldiers.

Remza was born in Mozorzari, Poland on December 28, 1897. He lived in Reading, Pennsylvania when he enlisted in the Pennsylvania National Guard on July 5, 1917, and was immediately assigned to Company D, 150th Machine Gun Battalion, 42nd Division. His overseas service began on November 14, 1917, and his unit fought in the Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne Offensives.

He returned from overseas on April 27, 1919 and was honorably discharged on May 7, 1919. Remza served several enlistments in the Pennsylvania National Guard during the 1920s and 1930s, serving with the 213th Coast Artillery. His unit was federalized on September 15, 1940, after which, Remza attended several courses at the Quartermaster Motor Transport School in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1941, he was sent to the West Indies, and shortly thereafter, he was hospitalized for an illness.

Awards MSG Remza received during his service in the U.S. Army.

While recovering, he helped recondition other patients' muscles, work which eventually compelled him to transfer to the Army Medical Corps, and begin to study physical therapy. Following WWII, he worked to develop new treatments for Soldiers of all ranks, and in 1947, he had the opportunity to treat General Dwight Eisenhower at Pratt Hospital in Coral Gables, Florida.

Remza served in Korea and was awarded an Army Commendation Medal for his physical therapy work with wounded Soldiers. He served as a physical reconditioning instructor at Valley Forge Army Hospital, and supervised many physical reconditioning operations throughout his career. On July 31, 1961, he retired from the Army as a master sergeant. He spent his post-Army years serving as a special deputy sheriff for Berks County, while also volunteering his time working elderly patients in need of physical therapy. He died on May 29, 1991 and is buried in St. Mary's Cemetery in Reading, Pennsylvania.


The jacket MSG Remza wore during his time as a Physical Reconditioning Instructor at Valley Forge Army Hospital.

This goniometer, a device used in physical therapy to measure the range of motion around a joint in the body, belonged to MSG Remza.


This Week in Army History: Registration Day, June 5, 1917


On June 5, 1917, nearly 10 million American men reported to their local Selective Service Registration Boards to register for service in the Army. It was a stunning example of mass compliance across a nation of great diversity and local loyalties. Not since the American Civil War was conscription employed to raise an Army, and unlike then, violent protests against the draft were minimal. To fuel this enthusiastic compliance, the Selective Service System employed a combination of patriotic propaganda, such as the, "Uncle Sam Wants You" posters, and competition between local counties.

Uncle Sam Wants You Poster


The first number drawn was 246, and was picked from the urn by the Secretary of War [Newton] Baker. Left to right, starting with the second man: Capt. Chas. R. Morris, Gen. Crowder, and Sec'y of War Baker.

When President Woodrow Wilson asked for a declaration of war against Imperial Germany on April 2, 1917, the strength of the U.S. Army was around 110,000 regular troops. To make the "world safe for democracy," President Wilson argued for a wartime Army based on "universal liability to military service." General John J. Pershing advocated the deployment of an American Expeditionary Force (AEF) of almost two million by the end of 1918. The Selective Service Act was passed on May 18, 1917, to expand the existing peacetime, volunteer Army, to a wartime Army. The Act required all able bodied men ages 21 to 30, to register for the draft regardless of race, or religion. Exemptions were granted to men who had dependent families, indispensable duties at home, or physical disabilities. Conscientious objector status was granted to members of pacifist religious organizations, but they had to perform alternative service. By the end of World War I, some 24 million men had registered, and some 2.8 million were drafted.


On May 22, 1917, under General Orders Number 65, Brigadier General Enoch Crowder, the Army's chief legal officer, was detailed as Provost Marshal General and charged with the administration of the laws and guidelines promulgated in the Act. As a young officer, he had served in the cavalry, and in 1899, he had occasion to study the reports on Civil War conscription by General James B. Fry, who had charge of the Draft, 1863-1865. His study of history would one day inform his decision making and ultimately help shape the United States Army for war. In February of 1917, President Wilson and Secretary of War Newton D. Baker consulted with BG Crowder regarding the possibility of a draft. General Crowder dusted off General Fry's report to help develop the policies, language, and guidelines that would authorize the President to "...increase temporarily the Military Establishment of the United States," and with that, the Selective Service Act of 1917 was born.

Major General Enoch Herbert Crowder. He was appointed Provost Marshal General of the U.S. Army in May 1917, and served until July 1919.


Memorial Day - Remembering the Fallen


Each year, Americans come together to pay tribute to fallen service members who died in defense of the United States, and Memorial Day provides an opportunity for our country to honor these men and women. Formerly known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868 at Arlington National Ceremony. The leaders of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization for Civil War Union veterans, wanted to honor fallen Civil War service members by decorating their graves. It was widely believed that the GAR chose this date because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. Throughout the next century, Decoration Day continued to be observed on May 30, usually through memorial parades or ceremonies in cemeteries. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday, which would occur on the last Monday of May. The photographs below are part of the USAHEC Collection and show some of the various commemorations of Memorial Day throughout U.S. Army history. This weekend, pause for a moment to remember those men and women who paid the ultimate price in the defense and protection of the United States of America.

To view a historical timeline about the evolution of Memorial Day, please click HERE.


Click below to listen to a U.S. Army Band concert radio broadcast from Memorial Day in 1954.



Armed Forces Day and Army Heritage Days


Battery B, 937th Field Artillery [Bn.] fire Long Tom guns in support of elements of the 25th Division Munena, Korea on Armed Forces Day, May 17, 1952. The 1952 Armed Forces Day observance was keyed to the theme: Unity - Strength - Freedom. The Secretary of Defense referred to it as a timely opportunity to demonstrate the close working relationship of the Armed Forces, give the public a broad view of the Nation's defense strength, and emphasize the democratic ideal to which our efforts are dedicated.


On the third Saturday in May, the United States celebrates Armed Forces Day; a day designated to honor Americans serving in the different branches of the military. Prior to 1950, each branch held individual commemorations, and the single day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under one department, the Department of Defense. On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force Days, and the United States' Armed Forces Day was officially established by presidential proclamation in 1950. In an excerpt from the Presidential Proclamation of February 27, 1950, President Truman stated, "Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, marks the first combined demonstration by America's defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, towards the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense." To learn more about the history of Armed Forces Day on the Department of Defense website, click HERE.

Vietnam Gun Trucks on the Army Heritage Trail as part of a previous Army Heritage Days event.

Each year, the USAHEC celebrates Armed Forces Day with a timeline living history event, featuring lectures, displays, demonstrations, and reenactors from nearly every era of U.S. Army history. This year's Army Heritage Days is scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday, May 21 and 22, 2016 from 9:00am to 5:00pm each day. The event highlights the Vietnam War-era with well-known Veterans relating their experiences in Vietnam, one of the first helicopters in LZ X-Ray, and other events specifically related to this period of history. There will also be a special display of national importance - "The Moving Wall: Vietnam Veterans Memorial," which is a half-scale replica of the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. and recognizes the service and sacrifice of the military men and women who served in the Vietnam War. If you're in the Carlisle area this weekend, be sure to stop by!

To view the complete schedule of events for Army Heritage Days, click HERE.


German Surrender at the End of World War II


Access passes for the War Room at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF).

This past Sunday marked the 71st anniversary of Victory in Europe (V-E) Day (May 8, 1945), which ended the fighting in Europe during World War II. The cessation of hostilities was made possible by the unconditional German surrender, which occurred on May 7, 1945 in Reims, France. German officials were in the process of negotiating a surrender prior to May 7, 1945, however, the discourse reached a breaking point that day. A frustrated General Dwight D. Eisenhower told German Field Marshall Alfred Jodl that unless the Germans surrendered unconditionally to all of the Allies (including the Soviets), he was going to shut the lines in the American and British sectors and resume the bombing and shelling of the Germans. He then walked out of the room. The end had come, and the German officials agreed to terms for the surrender. A ceremony to mark the capitulation was hastily coordinated at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), to sign the surrender document. The USAHEC Collection contains a few items from this event, including the name plates and seating diagram used at the ceremony, the War Room passes, and the instruction for the Headquarters guards.

The National Archives holds the original, signed surrender document, and it is available on their website. Click HERE to view it.


The seating diagram and original name plates used on the conference table in the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) War Room at Reims, France, when the unconditional surrender was signed, May 7, 1945.

Special orders for the guards, regarding the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) War Room.


Willard Dominick, Witness to War


Willard Dominick in uniform during World War II.

As a Soldier assigned to the 25th Infantry Division in World War II, serving in the Pacific Theater of Operations, Willard Dominick maintained a diary that is now part of the collection at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center. In addition to the written accounts of his experiences, which include combat at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, and at Luzon during the invasion of the Philippines, his diary contains original artwork depicting the sights he witnessed and conditions he encountered. His creative genius is evident throughout the four years of illustrated diaries, sketchbooks, and photographs. He possessed both a talent for art and in capturing the details of the misery, disease, death, humanity, inhumanity, and triumph experienced during war.

Willard Dominick posing with a reenactor during an event at the USAHEC in 2009.

Born on April 3, 1920, and raised in Bolivar, Pennsylvania, Willard Dominick displayed a passion for art at a young age. After high school, he entered college in 1938 to study art, but like many young men of his generation, Willard's life was interrupted by the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was a senior at Indiana State Teachers College (now Indiana University of Pennsylvania), when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. Willard began basic training on February 24, 1942, in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, and was later sent to Camp Wheeler, Georgia, where he was trained in jungle warfare. Following his training, he spent three years and three months in the South Pacific, serving in the Central Solomon Islands, French New Caledonia, and the Philippines. On Luzon, in the Philippines, his infantry unit saw the longest battle engagement in U.S. military history (165 days). When he left the Army in the fall of 1945, he had lost nearly forty pounds and was, in his own words, "mentally damaged material…four years of that was too much." He went back to Indiana State Teachers College to finish his last semester, and after graduation found a job teaching art in Clearfield, Pennsylvania. Along with teaching, he pursued a career in as a professional artist.


Original 1st Cavalry Division Shoulder Sleeve Patch


Shortly after the 1st Cavalry Division was created in 1921, the War Department requested designs for the division's shoulder sleeve (shoulder patch) insignia. The competition to design the patch had three requirements: it should have only two colors, it should be an easily recognizable sign around which men could reassemble during or after battle, and it would bring men together in a common devotion. The commanding officer of the 7th U.S. Cavalry, Colonel Benjamin Dorcy, and his wife, submitted and ultimately won with this example.

Mrs. Gladys Dorcy made this first patch on her sewing machine, and took the yellow felt from Colonel Dorcy's cloak, and the blue from a pair of dress trousers. The blue of the patch changed to black in the final version to symbolize iron and armor. The patch was the largest divisional patch approved in the United States Army, and in commenting about their design, Mrs. Dorcy explained, "the patch had to be large enough to be seen through the dust and sand at Fort Bliss," and "we made it that way because it is worn by big men who do big things."


Click below to listen as Mrs. Gladys Dorsey explains how she and her husband designed the 1st Cavalry Division Patch.


Measuring 3.625" x 5.25", this is the original prototype of the 1st Cavalry Division shoulder patch. This patch is part of the USAHEC Collection, and is currently on display in the "Treasures of the USAHEC" exhibit in Ridgway Hall.


Mrs. Gladys Dorcy at memorial tablet of 1st Cavalry Division, El Paso, Texas, Sept. 1951.


This Week in Army History: U.S. Army Liberates Flossenburg Concentration Camp


April 23rd marks the anniversary of the liberation of Flossenburg Concentration Camp. Located in the Bavarian region of Germany, near the Czechoslovakian border, the first U.S. troops reached the camp at the end of April 1945 and horrors awaited them. Established in 1938, Flossenburg was originally used for political prisoners, but at the beginning of World War II, it became an important forced labor center, later serving as a transit site for Jews destined for extermination camps. The 97th Infantry Division arrived at Flossenburg, and was greeted by the sight of weak and extremely ill prisoners remaining in the camp. Brigadier General Milton B. Halsey, the Commanding General of the 97th Division, inspected the camp on April 30, as did his divisional artillery commander, Brigadier General Sherman V. Hasbrouck. Hasbrouck, who spoke fluent German, directed a local German official to have all able-bodied German men and boys from that area help bury the dead. The 97th Division performed many duties at the camp upon its liberation, assisting the sick and dying, burying the dead, interviewing former prisoners, and gathering evidence against former camp officers and guards for the upcoming war crimes trials.

One eyewitness U.S. Soldier, Sergeant Harold C. Brandt, a veteran of the 11th Armored Division, who was on hand for the liberation of not just one but three of the camps, Flossenburg, Mauthausen, and Gusen, was queried many years after the war on his part in liberating them. He stated, "it was just as bad or worse than depicted in the movies and stories about the Holocaust... I can not describe it adequately. It was sickening. How can other men treat other men like this?"