Lenny Kravitz

I have to be honest, the title is a small bit deceiving. This blog not about his nephew, the famous Rockstar who celebrates his 58th birthday today, but it is about Leonard M. Kravitz (technically Lenny is short for Leonard).

Leonard Martin Kravitz was an American soldier in the United States Army who served in the Korean War. He is a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor.

Leonard Kravitz ,of Russian Jewish ancestry , was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. His parents were Jean (Kaufman) and Joseph Kravitz. He was the younger brother of filmmaker and TV producer Sy Kravitz and uncle of musician Lenny Kravitz.

Kravitz is being recognized for his actions in Yangpyong, Korea, March 6-7, 1951. While occupying defensive positions, Kravitz’s unit was overrun by enemy combatants and forced to withdraw. Kravitz voluntarily remained at a machine-gun position to provide suppressive fire for the retreating troops. This forced the enemy to concentrate their attack on his own position. Kravitz ultimately did not survive the attack, but his actions saved his entire platoon.

Kravitz received the Medal of Honor posthumously, on March 18, 2014; Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with one Bronze Service Star, United Nations Service Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Republic of Korea Korean War Service Medal, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.

His niece Laurie Wegner was presented the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in the White House on March 18, 2014.

“Medal of Honor Citation
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Private First Class Leonard M. Kravitz distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an assistant machinegunner with Company M, 5th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Yangpyong, Korea on March 6 and 7, 1951. After friendly elements had repulsed two probing attacks, the enemy launched a fanatical banzai charge with heavy supporting fire and, despite staggering losses, pressed the assault with ruthless determination. When the machinegunner was wounded in the initial phase of the action, Private First Class Kravitz immediately seized the weapon and poured devastating fire into the ranks of the onrushing assailants. The enemy effected and exploited a breach on the left flank, rendering the friendly positions untenable. Upon order to withdraw, Private First Class Kravitz voluntarily remained to provide protective fire for the retiring elements. Detecting enemy troops moving toward friendly positions, Private First Class Kravitz swept the hostile soldiers with deadly, accurate fire, killing the entire group. His destructive retaliation caused the enemy to concentrate vicious fire on his position and enabled the friendly elements to withdraw. Later, after friendly troops had returned, Private First Class Kravitz was found dead behind the gun he had so heroically manned, surrounded by numerous enemy dead. Private First Class Kravitz’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.”

Ending the blog with one of his nephews songs, with a message which is more needed now then it ever was.

sources

https://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/kravitz/

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/126712212/leonard-martin-kravitz

PS Happy Birthday Lenny Kravitz

Ralph G. Neppel-WWII Hero

We live in an era where social media ‘influencers’ or celebrities, who make a token gesture for the latest political hype , are seen as heroes. I find it very hard to comprehend this misguided notion. None of these people have ever done a heroic deed.

I cam across the picture above on an article titled “62 Historic Photos Of Love During Wartime”

The picture is of Jean Moore kneeling and kissing her fiancé, wheelchair-bound World War II Veteran Ralph Neppel, the picture was from 1945.At first I hadn’t noticed that Ralph was missing both of his legs. I think the smile on his face made me miss it the first time I glanced at the picture.

I then decided to do a bit of research into Ralph Neppel and I came across an amazing story of an extraordinary heroic deed.

Ralpg was a leader of a machine-gun squad defending an approach to the village of Birgel, Germany, on 14 December 1944, when an enemy tank, supported by 20 infantrymen, counterattacked. He held his fire until the Germans were within 100 yards and then raked the foot soldiers beside the tank, killing several of them. The enemy armor continued to press forward, and, at the point-blank range of 30 yards, fired a high-velocity shell into the American emplacement, wounding the entire squad. Sgt. Neppel, blown 10 yards from his gun, had one leg severed below the knee and suffered other wounds. Despite his injuries and the danger from the onrushing tank and infantry, he dragged himself back to his position on his elbows, remounted his gun, and killed the remaining enemy riflemen. Stripped of its infantry protection, the tank was forced to withdraw. By his superb courage and indomitable fighting spirit, Sgt. Neppel inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy and broke a determined counterattack.

His left leg was also severely injured and had to be amputated. He was sent to England for a long series of rehab programs.

During his recovery and rehabilitation at McCloskey General Hospital in Temple, Texas, Neppel was fitted with prostheses and was promoted from sergeant to technical sergeant. He married his fiancée Jean Moore, and was discharged from the Army in 1946

Within a year he was walking on a prosthesis, playing golf, driving a car and playing baseball. He and his wife had three children. He worked his way through college earning a B.A., attended graduate school and spent 22 years working for the VA. He was a finalist for the 1969 President’s Trophy for the disabled Person of the Year and served 8 years on the Iowa Governor’s Committee for the Employment of the disabled.

He was awarded the United States military’s highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.

Medal of Honor

AWARDED FOR ACTIONS
DURING World War II
Service: Army
Division: 83d Infantry Division
GENERAL ORDERS:
War Department, General Orders No. 77, September 10, 1945

CITATION:
“The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Sergeant Ralph George Neppel, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company M, 329th Infantry Regiment, 83d Infantry Division. Sergeant Neppel was leader of a machinegun squad defending an approach to the village of Birgel, Germany, on 14 December 1944, when an enemy tank, supported by 20 infantrymen, counterattacked. He held his fire until the Germans were within 100 yards and then raked the foot soldiers beside the tank killing several of them. The enemy armor continued to press forward and, at the pointblank range of 30 yards, fired a high-velocity shell into the American emplacement, wounding the entire squad. Sergeant Neppel, blown ten yards from his gun, had one leg severed below the knee and suffered other wounds. Despite his injuries and the danger from the onrushing tank and infantry, he dragged himself back to his position on his elbows, remounted his gun and killed the remaining enemy riflemen. Stripped of its infantry protection, the tank was forced to withdraw. By his superb courage and indomitable fighting spirit, Sergeant Neppel inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy and broke a determined counterattack.”

This to me is what a hero is.

sources

https://www.boredpanda.com/old-photos-vintage-war-couples-love-romance/

https://www.cmohs.org/recipients/ralph-g-neppel

https://valor.militarytimes.com/hero/2616

Richard Ira Bong- WWII Hero

Richard Bong

I could do a very lengthy blog about Richard Ira Bong but I decided to stay with the facts that really matter. For everything else I urge you to look up his name, so much has already written about him.

He is credited with shooting down 40 enemy aircraft in aerial combat.

The citation on his Medal of Honor descried him best.

“The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Major (Air Corps) Richard Ira Bong (ASN: 0-433784), United States Army Air Forces, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 49th Fighter Group, V Fighter Command, Fifth Air Force, in action in the Southwest Pacific area from 10 October to 15 November 1944. Though assigned to duty as gunnery instructor and neither required nor expected to perform combat duty, Major Bong voluntarily and at his own urgent request engaged in repeated combat missions, including unusually hazardous sorties over Balikpapan, Borneo, and in the Leyte area of the Philippines. His aggressiveness and daring resulted in his shooting down eight enemy airplanes during this period.”

Ironically  though he didn’t die in combat but  he died in California while testing a jet aircraft.

But even the date of his death is significant because it was also the date that the Enola Gay dropped the “Little Boy” atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

enola

But despite that massive historic event , Richard Bong’s death was featured prominently in national newspapers,

paper

Happy Birthday Major Bong, may you rest in peace.

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Walter C. Wetzel-Fallen Hero

800px-Walter_Wetzel_grave

Dear Sir, you don’t know it but I owe you so much,possibly my life.

Often have I visited the cemetery where your final resting place is. I may have even stood at your grave, contemplating why you and your band of brothers that surround you,sacrificed their lives in a land that was not theirs.

Margraten

It couldn’t have been for money because your salary wasn’t enough to sustain you. No it was for something noble,Freedom, and not just an freedom but my freedom and that of my generation and the generation before me and future generations. For that I thank you.

Today I hang my head in shame. for someone who calls himself a warrior and is hailed as a hero, a multi-millionaire,this “hero” displayed all the signs of a thug,hooligan and criminal. This is not what you gave your life for.

Wetzel joined the Army from Roseville, Michiganwetzel_port in July 1941,and by April 3, 1945 was serving as a private first class in the 13th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division. On that day, in Birken, Germany, Wetzel smothered the blasts of German-thrown grenades with his body, sacrificing himself to protect those around him. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor ten months later, on February 26, 1946, by President Harry S. Truman.

 

CITATION:
“The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Private First Class Walter C. Wetzel, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty. Private First Class Wetzel, an acting squad leader with the Anti-Tank Company of the 13th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division, was guarding his platoon’s command post in a house at Birken, Germany, during the early morning hours of 3 April 1945, when he detected strong enemy forces moving in to attack. He ran into the house, alerted the occupants and immediately began defending the post against heavy automatic weapons fire coming from the hostile troops. Under cover of darkness the Germans forced their way close to the building where they hurled grenades, two of which landed in the room where Private First Class Wetzel and the others had taken up firing positions. Shouting a warning to his fellow soldiers, Private First Class Wetzel threw himself on the grenades and, as they exploded, absorbed their entire blast, suffering wounds from which he died. The supreme gallantry of Private First Class Wetzel saved his comrades from death or serious injury and made it possible for them to continue the defense of the command post and break the power of a dangerous local counterthrust by the enemy. His unhesitating sacrifice of his life was in keeping with the U.S. Army’s highest traditions of bravery and heroism.”

Dear Sir I salute you.

 

 

 

Unusual WWII Facts-Part 11

The 1940 Summer Olympics had officially been scheduled be held from 21 September to 6 October 1940, in Tokyo, Japan, but were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II.

Poster_Olympische_Sommerspiele_Tokio_1940 (1)

Staying in the Olympic theme.The 1940 Winter Olympic games were also planned to be in hosted in Japan ,in Sapporo. But the Japanese organisers withdrew in 1938 because of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The IOC tne  decided to give the Winter Olympics to St. Moritz, Switzerland. There were some problems between the Swiss organisers and the IOC so the Games were cancelled again. The IOC then gave the 1940 Winter Olympics to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Garmisch-Partenkirchen had hosted the 1936 Winter Olympics. The Games were to be held from February 2 – 11 1940.

The games were cancelled because of World War II.

Stalag Luft III

stalag-luft-iii-45

Stalag Luft III was a Nazi POW camp, mostly for allied airmen who’d been shot down and taken captive. However, these airmen were very crafty and over 600 had helped to organize an escape committee, which secretly began to dig tunnels and make plans. On March 24th, 1944, the plan was executed, but from the start, everything went wrong. Only 77 men managed to get into the escape tunnels, and were soon discovered. Of the 77, only 3 managed to get to safety. 50 escapees were executed by the orders of Hitler. This escape attempt was made into a 1963 film, “The Great Escape”.

Bat Man

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Bat-Man Paratroopers – 1942

On the United States home front, particularly on the Pacific coast where the threat of a Japanese invasion seemed imminent, even a military expert’s creative juices could take a curious turn. Such was the case for the California State Guard and Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, who dreamed up the idea of “bat-man”paratroopers.

The major’s concept of paratroopers using jump suits modified with bat-like “diving wings” was inspired by the trick parachuting stunts of American entertainers. Nicholson had observed that in free fall, sky divers using these wings were able to better control their speed and descent as well as their maneuverability before opening the their parachutes.

Nicholson envisioned winged paratroopers evading enemy fire by swooping through the air like their namesakes. In 1942, the California State Guard found the notion so intriguing, they asked famed jumper Mickey Morgan—whose career often included testing wingsuits—to head a bat-man paratrooper unit of their own.

President Roosevelt used Al Capone’s Limousine

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On the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Secret Service realized they did not have a have a bulletproof car to transport President Roosevelt safely to Congress to deliver his Infamy Speech. A quick thinking Secret Service agent realized that the U.S. Treasury had seized the bulletproof limo of Al Capone in 1931.

The car was still in working condition and safely transported the president to Congress. President Roosevelt reportedly quipped, “I hope Mr. Capone won’t mind.

Queen Wilhelmina.

Koningin_Wilhelmina_spreekt_het_Amerikaans_congres_toe_(cropped)

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands becomes the first reigning queen to address a joint session of the United States Congress, on the 6th of August 1942.

 

The SS ran a brothel named “The Kitty Salon,” that was frequented by foreign diplomats. They gathered intelligence by wiretapping it and training the prostitutes on how to get information from clients.

Kitty

Holocaust

Bergen-belsen (1)

Even after the Allies arrived, many concentration camp prisoners were beyond help. In Bergen-Belsen, for example, 13,000 prisoners died after liberation. Nearly 2,500 of the 33,000 survivors of Dachau died within six weeks of liberation.

Approximately 600,000 Jews served in the United States armed forces during WWII. More than 35,000 were killed, wounded, captured, or missing. Approximately 8,000 died in combat. However, only two Jewish soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor in WWII.

NET-Margraten-American_Cemetery_04a

Ben L. Salomon

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The 3rd Jewish soldier who got awarded a Medal of Honor was Ben L.Salomon, but it was only awarded to him in 2002.

Medal of Honor citation

CAPTAIN BEN L. SALOMON
UNITED STATES ARMY

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Captain Ben L. Salomon was serving at Saipan, in the Marianas Islands on July 7, 1944, as the Surgeon for the 2nd Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. The Regiment’s 1st and 2d Battalions were attacked by an overwhelming force estimated between 3,000 and 5,000 Japanese soldiers. It was one of the largest attacks attempted in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Although both units fought furiously, the enemy soon penetrated the Battalions’ combined perimeter and inflicted overwhelming casualties. In the first minutes of the attack, approximately 30 wounded soldiers walked, crawled, or were carried into Captain Salomon’s aid station, and the small tent soon filled with wounded men. As the perimeter began to be overrun, it became increasingly difficult for Captain Salomon to work on the wounded. He then saw a Japanese soldier bayoneting one of the wounded soldiers lying near the tent. Firing from a squatting position, Captain Salomon quickly killed the enemy soldier. Then, as he turned his attention back to the wounded, two more Japanese soldiers appeared in the front entrance of the tent. As these enemy soldiers were killed, four more crawled under the tent walls. Rushing them, Captain Salomon kicked the knife out of the hand of one, shot another, and bayoneted a third. Captain Salomon butted the fourth enemy soldier in the stomach and a wounded comrade then shot and killed the enemy soldier. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Captain Salomon ordered the wounded to make their way as best they could back to the regimental aid station, while he attempted to hold off the enemy until they were clear. Captain Salomon then grabbed a rifle from one of the wounded and rushed out of the tent. After four men were killed while manning a machine gun, Captain Salomon took control of it. When his body was later found, 98 dead enemy soldiers were piled in front of his position. Captain Salomon’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

By the way, he was a dentist.