Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Corps of Engineers

Continental Congress authority for a "Chief Engineer for the Army" dates from June 16, 1775. A corps of Engineers for the United States was authorized by the Congress on March 11, 1779.

The Corps of Engineers, as it is known today, came into being on March 16, 1802, when President Jefferson was authorized by Congress to "organize and establish a Corps of Engineers. President Thomas Jefferson played a key role in getting passage of the 1802 legislation. The new Academy was part of his plan to reform the Army and educate a new class of officers who supported his own democratic principles. It also reflected his desire for an Academy not merely military in nature, but designed to produce soldiers also schooled in mathematics and science to serve the Nation in peacetime. Accordingly, he selected Colonel Jonathan Williams - more scientist than professional soldier - as Chief Engineer and the Academy’s first superintendent.

A Corps of Topographical Engineers, authorized on July 4, 1838, was merged with the Corps of Engineers on March 1863.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Wall

There are 58,267 names now listed on that polished black wall, including those added in 2010.

The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date and within each date the names are alphabetized. It is hard to believe it is 36 years since the last casualties.

The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth , Mass. Listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.

  • There are 3 sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.
  • There are 31 sets of brothers are on the Wall ... thus, 31sets of parents lost 2 of their sons.
  • 39,996 young men whose names are on the Wall were just 22 or younger.
  • 8,283 of those young soldiers were just 19 years old.
  • The largest age group, 33,103, were 18 years old.
  • 12  of those young soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.
  • 5  of those young soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old.
  • One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was 15 years old.
  • 997 of those young soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam ..
  • 1,448 of those young soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam ..
  • 54 of those young soldiers attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia. I wonder why so many from one school.
  • 8 Women are on the Wall. Nursing the wounded.
  • 244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War—153 of them are on the Wall.
  • Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475 lost 6 of her sons.
  • West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation. There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall.
  • The Marines of Morenci - They led some of the scrappiest high school football and basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci (pop. 5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring beer busts. In quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, stalked deer in the Apache National Forest. And in the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci's mining families, the nine graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966. Only 3 returned home.
  • The Buddies of Midvale - LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, Tom Gonzales were all boyhood friends and lived on three consecutive streets in Midvale, Utah on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived only a few yards apart. They played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field. And they all went to Vietnam. In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967, all three would be killed. LeRoy was killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the fourth anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination. Jimmy died less than 24 hours later on Thanksgiving Day. Tom was shot dead assaulting the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
  • The most casualty deaths for a single day was on January 31, 1968 — 245 deaths.
  • The most casualty deaths for a single month was May 1968 — 2,415 casualties were incurred.

For most Americans who read this they will only see the numbers that the Vietnam War created. To those of us who survived the war, and to the families of those who did not, we see the faces, we feel the pain that these numbers created. We are, until we too pass away, haunted with these numbers, because they were our friends, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters. There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.