Posted by: bkivey | 28 May 2012

All Their Tomorrows

Today is the traditional observation of Memorial Day in the US. Originating during the Civil War, the observance was made official on 5 May 1868, and rearranged to make a three-day weekend in 1968. There are a number of observances in the area, but the one I attend is at the Willamette National Cemetery atop Mt. Scott in Portland.  Atop the mountain is an amphitheater, with a view to the valley below. There are some 150,000 graves on the grounds, and thanks to local Boy Scout troops, every one has a flag.

The program usually runs about an hour and a half, with speeches by local dignitaries, including a Senator and a Congressman. Local drum and bugle corps and bagpipers provide the music, along with singers. The program strikes a nice balance between solemnity and patriotism, as most speakers keep their remarks mercifully short. The exception this year was former Blazer broadcaster Bill Schonely, who spoke for some time, even as the rain started to fall. This time of year in western Oregon is usually cool and grey, and today was no exception.

The 172nd Fighter Wing puts in an appearance about halfway through the program, but this year operational considerations delayed them, so they flew over in the middle of America the Beautiful, which worked out. A civilian group flying vintage aircraft overflew the site performing the ‘missing man’ maneuver. I suspect this wasn’t part of the plan, because the event wasn’t on the program, and they interrupted the MC. There is an invocation and a benediction, and at the end there is a 21-gun salute with howitzers, and the playing of Taps.

There were about three dozen veterans in the audience, ranging from WW II to the present day. It won’t be too long before there aren’t any WW II or Korean War vets at all, so it was nice to see young children spend a few minutes with them.

During the speeches, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and 2nd Inaugural were quoted, but one speaker quoted Gen. George C. Marshall. When asked during WW II if America had a secret weapon, Gen. Marshall replied “Yes, we do have a secret weapon. We grow the best damn kids on the planet.”

There are four Medal of Honor winners interred in Willamette National Cemetery, two of whom were killed in action. It’s fitting that today we remember them, and all the ‘best damn kids’ who gave up all their tomorrows.

Loren R. Kaufman

Sfc. Kaufman distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action. On the night of 4 September the company was in a defensive position on 2 adjoining hills. His platoon was occupying a strong point 2 miles away protecting the battalion flank. Early on 5 September the company was attacked by an enemy battalion and his platoon was ordered to reinforce the company. As his unit moved along a ridge it encountered a hostile encircling force. Sfc. Kaufman, running forward, bayoneted the lead scout and engaged the column in a rifle and grenade assault. His quick vicious attack so surprised the enemy that they retreated in confusion. When his platoon joined the company he discovered that the enemy had taken commanding ground and pinned the company down in a draw. Without hesitation Sfc. Kaufman charged the enemy lines firing his rifle and throwing grenades. During the action, he bayoneted 2 enemy and seizing an unmanned machine gun, delivered deadly fire on the defenders. Following this encounter the company regrouped and resumed the attack. Leading the assault he reached the ridge, destroyed a hostile machine gun position, and routed the remaining enemy. Pursuing the hostile troops he bayoneted 2 more and then rushed a mortar position shooting the gunners. Remnants of the enemy fled to a village and Sfc. Kaufman led a patrol into the town, dispersed them, and burned the buildings. The dauntless courage and resolute intrepid leadership of Sfc. Kaufman were directly responsible for the success of his company in regaining its positions, reflecting distinct credit upon himself and upholding the esteemed traditions of the military service

Larry G. Dahl

Sp4c. Dahl distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving as a machine gunner on a gun truck near An Khe, Binh Dinh Province. The gun truck in which Sp4c. Dahl was riding was sent with 2 other gun trucks to assist in the defense of a convoy that had been ambushed by an enemy force. The gun trucks entered the battle zone and engaged the attacking enemy troops with a heavy volume of machine gun fire, causing a large number of casualties. After a brief period of intense fighting the attack subsided. As the gun trucks were preparing to return to their normal escort duties, an enemy hand grenade was thrown into the truck in which Sp4c. Dahl was riding. Instantly realizing the great danger, Sp4c. Dahl called a warning to his companions and threw himself directly onto the grenade. Through his indomitable courage, complete disregard for his safety, and profound concern for his fellow soldiers, Sp4c. Dahl saved the lives of the other members of the truck crew while sacrificing his own. Sp4c. Dahl’s conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism, and intrepidity at the cost of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit and the U.S. Army.

 

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