Historically, Marine Raiders were elite Marine Corps units established during World War II to conduct special amphibious warfare. Marine Raiders earned a ferocious reputation operating behind enemy lines as the FIRST United States Special Operations Forces.
The 71st Anniversary of the Normandy landings took place this Saturday, June 6th.
On D-Day, the Allies landed around 156,000 troops in Normandy. The American forces landed numbered 73,000. In the British and Canadian sector, 83,115 troops were landed (61,715 of them British).
The number of American casualties has risen in recent years following more accurate research from the US National D-Day Memorial Foundation. They have recorded the names of individual Allied personnel killed on 6 June 1944 in Operation Overlord, and so far they have verified 2,499 American D-Day fatalities and 1,914 from the other Allied nations, a total of 4,413 dead (much higher than the traditional figure of 2,500 dead).
So how did the world commemorate the brave soldiers who took down Hitler’s Nazi forces?
Around 150 British veterans gathered in Normandy to commemorate the D-day landings.
Former services personnel, now in their late 80s and 90s, crossed the Channel to return to the beaches, cemeteries and villages of northern France.
Former troops attended a Royal British Legion-organised service at Bayeux cathedral on Saturday, where they were told by the Rev Patrick Irwin, the Royal British Legion chaplain to Normandy: “Your historic achievements will remain as one of the defining moments in the history of the last century.”
Here at home, many memorials took place across the country. One of the largest commemorations took place in Bedford, VA.
In 1944, the town of Bedford, then about 3,200 residents, suffered the nation’s most severe D-day losses relative to the size of the town.
In 1996, Congress warranted the establishment of a National D-day Memorial in Bedford; after significant planning and fundraising, it was dedicated June 6, 2001, by President George W. Bush.
“They’re old men now, those few who survive — men who stormed ashore on Juno Beach, 71 years ago amid a clatter of enemy machine gun fire and the roar of 88-mm artillery shells,” said George McLellan, past president of Allan MacDonald Memorial branch 15 Royal Canadian Legion in New Waterford.
“But not all who took part in D-Day would live to grow old, become grandfathers and look back on a victory vital to the overthrow of Nazi Germany.”
McLellan said Canadians have an obligation to mark the anniversary of D-Day.
This they did in ceremonies across Canada. Below, Royal Navy veteran Denis Garrod, 89, salutes during a D-Day Service on Friday June 5, 2015 at Confederation Square in Peterborough, Ont.
Ted Williams was selected professional baseball’s Most Valuable Player in 1946 and 1949 and played on American League All-Star Teams 16 times (1939-42, 1946-49, 1951, 1953 and 1955-58). He still holds the sixth-best all-time batting average and is second only to Babe Ruth in slugging percentage. He is the oldest man to win a batting title (in 1958 at age 40). The Sporting News named him the Player of the Decade, no small achievement when one looks at his competition: Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.
With Williams earning accolade after accolade, what team did he believe was the best that he was ever involved with? Was it the Boston Red Sox, which he joined in 1939, or the Texas Rangers which he later managed? Perhaps it was the MLB All-CenturyTeam or even the MLB All-Time Team?
Surprisingly, none of these teams were selected by Williams. When asked to name the greatest team he was ever on, Ted Williams replied without hesitation, “The US Marines”.
After the 1942 season Williams voluntarily enlisting in the Navy reserve and was called to active duty in November of that year.This marked the first of two major career disruptions for military service. He eventually would lose almost four years of playing time at the very peak of his career.
Naval aviation cadet T. S. Williams was sent to Amherst College in chilly Massachusetts for preflight training, a 90-day ordeal described as a combination of Officer Candidates School and a crash course in advanced science. Prospective pilots got into shape and learned how to be military officers as they studied basic theories of how airplanes operated. The surviving cadets then moved to Chapel Hill, N.C., for three months of preflight training. There the academic load became more rigorous, but they actually got to fly. The ground-school curriculum included subjects such as engines, ordnance, aircraft characteristics, aerodynamics and navigation.
Upon graduation, Williams opted for the Marine Corps and was commissioned a second lieutenant. He then moved south to Pensacola, Fla., for advanced flight training as a fighter pilot. It was there that he learned to fly the propeller-driven, single-engine, single-seat Vought F4U Corsair, the famous bent-wing “U-Bird,” a favorite mount of Marine aces in the South Pacific.
Although he was discharged in late 1945 without being called into active combat, he was called from the inactive reserves in 1953 to fight in the Korean War. In Korea, William’s squadron leader was to become widely known. His leader being John Glenn, who became an astronaut and a senator after the War.
“By luck of the draw, we went to Korea at the same time,” Glenn said. “We were in the same squadron there. What they did at that time, they teamed up a reservist with a regular to fly together most of the time just because the regular Marine pilots normally had more instrument flying experience and things like that. So Ted and I were scheduled together. Ted flew as my wingman on about half the missions he flew in Korea.”
This wasn’t a goodwill tour and was involved in a lot of combat. He got hit on several occasions, managing to escape death each time.
One such incident occurred when Williams was flying an air strike on a troop encampment near Kyomipo. Williams’ F-9 was hit by hostile ground fire. He commented later: “The funny thing was I didn’t feel anything. I knew I was hit when the stick started shaking like mad in my hands. Then everything went out, my radio, my landing gear, everything. The red warning lights were on all over the plane.” The F-9 Panther had a centrifugal flow engine and normally caught fire when hit. The tail would literally blow off most stricken aircraft. The standard orders were to eject from any Panther with a fire in the rear of the plane. His aircraft was indeed on fire, and was trailing smoke and flames. Glenn and the other pilots on the mission were yelling over their radios for Williams to get out. However, with his radio out, Williams could not hear their warnings and he could not see the condition of the rear of his aircraft. Glenn and another Panther flown by Larry Hawkins came up alongside Williams and lead him to the nearest friendly airfield. Fighting to hold the plane together, he brought his Panther in at more than 200-MPH for a crash landing on the Marsden-matted strip. With no landing gear, dive brakes, or functioning flaps, the flaming Panther jet skidded down the runway for more than 3000 feet. Williams got out of the aircraft only moments before it was totally engulfed in flames.
“Everybody tries to make a hero out of me over the Korean thing,“ Williams once said. “I was no hero. There were maybe 75 pilots in our two squadrons and 99 percent of them did a better job than I did. But I liked flying. It was the second-best thing that ever happened to me. If I hadn’t had baseball to come back to, I might have gone on as a Marine pilot.”
There wouldn’t have been any complaints from the Marines if Ted Williams had decide to continue with his favorite team, least of all from his squadron leader.
“Much as I appreciate baseball, Ted to me will always be a Marine fighter pilot,” Glenn said. “He did a great job as a pilot. Ted was a gung-ho Marine.”
Thomas E. Vernon (Lt.Col. USMC Retired) passed away in the presence of his family on Saturday September 20, 2014. He was in the good care of the staff at Tidelands Hospice in Georgetown for which the family is very grateful.
Tom Vernon was a great man, true to his principles to the end. He loved his country, church and family. He was born and reared in Nebraska until he joined the Navy. He graduated from the US Naval Academy and served as a Marine Corps aviator through three wars, serving with honor, distinction and valor. After retirement from the Marine Corps, he pursued and was awarded a doctorate in education from Duke University. His second career as an educator allowed his gifts as a teacher and communicator to shine through. He was a master teacher, admired by generations of students and colleagues.
He was married to the love of his life, Simone (Mimi), for 64 years. He was devoted to Mimi. He lived his life to provide for her and protect her and their three sons, Eric (wife Kim), Paul (wife Christine) and Jeffery. Tom always put the needs of his family ahead of himself. He was a man of faith. He was inspired by the word of God and the hymns sung in praise of God. He admired a good sermon and gave a good one himself when called up to lead the service.
He and his family travelled the world together during his Marine Corps career. He credited Mimi with keeping the family together. Upon retirement to Myrtle Beach he enjoyed the beach life and time with Mimi, his sons and the grandchildren, Whitney, Chelsea, Stacey and Kelly. He will be missed by his wife, sons, daughters in law, grandchildren and great grandchild Finley. Semper Fidelis.