Monday, July 18, 2011

Friendship 7

Today, July 18, 2011, is John Glenn's 90th birthday.

On Feb. 20, 1962 at 9:47 am EST, Glenn launched from Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 14 to become the first American to orbit the Earth. In this image, Glenn enters his Friendship 7 capsule with assistance from technicians to begin his historic flight.

Before joining NASA, Glenn already had a distinguished career as a pilot, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross, Navy Unit Commendation for service in Korea, the World War II Victory Medal, the Navy's Astronaut Wings, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, among others.

Glenn rejoined NASA in 1998 as a member of the STS-95 Discovery crew. This 9-day mission, from Oct. 29-Nov. 7, supported a variety of research payloads including deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope Orbital Systems Test Platform and investigations on space flight and the aging process.

Image Credit: NASA

Missing World War II Soldiers Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of three servicemen, missing in action from World War 2, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

Army Pfc. Lawrence N. Harris, of Elkins, W.V., Cpl. Judge C. Hellums, of Paris, Miss., and Pvt. Donald D. Owens, of Cleveland, will be buried as a group, in a single casket, on July 20 in Arlington National Cemetery.  In late September 1944, their unit, the 773rd Tank Battalion, was fighting its way east to France's eastern border, clearing German forces out of the Parroy Forest near LunĂ©ville.  On Oct. 9, 1944, in the final battle for control of the region, Hellums, Harris, Owens and two other soldiers were attacked by enemy fire in their M-10 Tank Destroyer.  Two men survived with serious injuries but Harris, Hellums and Owens were reported to have been killed. Evidence at the time indicated the remains of the men had been destroyed in the attack and were neither recovered nor buried near the location.

In November 1946, a French soldier working in the Parroy Forest found debris associated with an M-10 vehicle and human remains, which were turned over to the American Graves Registration Command.  The remains were buried as unknowns in what is now known as the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium.  A year later the AGRC returned to the Parroy Forest to conduct interviews and search for additional remains.  Investigators noted at that time that all remains of U.S. soldiers had reportedly been removed in the last two years and that the crew was likely buried elsewhere as unknowns.

In 2003, a French citizen exploring the Parroy Forest discovered human remains and an identification bracelet engraved with Hellums' name, from a site he had probed occasionally since 1998.  The information was eventually sent to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC).  In April 2006, the man turned over the items to a JPAC team working in Europe.  A few months later a second JPAC team returned to the site and recovered more human remains, personal effects and an identification tag for Owens.

Historians at DPMO and JPAC continued their research on the burials at the Ardennes Cemetery, and drew a correlation to those unknowns removed from the 1944 battle site.   In early 2008 JPAC disinterred these remains and began their forensic review.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC used dental comparisons for the men and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA, which matched that of each soldier's relatives in the identification of their remains.

At the end of the war, the U.S. government was unable to recover, identify and bury approximately 79,000 Americans.  Today, more than 72,000 remain unaccounted-for from the conflict.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, call 571-422-9059 or visit the DPMO website at .

Today in the Department of Defense, Monday, July 18, 2011

Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Ashton Carter delivers remarks at 2 p.m. EDT at National Defense Industrial Association in the Crystal City Hyatt Regency, Arlington, Va.  Media interested in attending should contact Tia Pitt at 703-247-9467.

The Secret Missions of a Korean War Hospital Corpsman

With the addition of C. Gilbert Lowery, now lists 1260 US Military Servicemembers and their 3980 books.

C. Gilbert Lowery “joined the U.S. Navy in 1954 at the age of 19. He is a self-employed tax accountant and a retired government auditor, as well as a former town commissioner and former mayor of Jonesville, NC. He and his wife, Carol, have been married for 52 years and they currently reside in Cary, NC. They have four children, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.” C. Gilbert Lowery is the author of The Untold Experiences of a Navy Corpsman: A US Navy Hospital Corpsman with a US Marine Corps Reconnaissance Patrol Team in the 1950's on covert Korean missions.

According to the book description of The Untold Experiences of a Navy Corpsman: A US Navy Hospital Corpsman with a US Marine Corps Reconnaissance Patrol Team in the 1950's on covert Korean missions, “He was given a classified mission and sworn to secrecy. Now, after more than 50 years, C. Gilbert Lowery is finally willing to share his stories. He’s compiled his experiences in his new book, The Untold Experiences of a Navy Corpsman. The U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman took part in covert Korean missions with a Marine Corps reconnaissance patrol team in the 1950s.

“We had to go into enemy territory after fighting had ceased to search for illegal military facilities that the North Koreans declared non-existent, and for Americans held prisoners of war,” Lowery says. “I don’t think we ever got them all out.” While writing The Untold Experiences of a Navy Corpsman, it was often painful for Lowery to think back to that time in his life. Lowery was unable to continue in the medical profession after discharge from the Navy because of the recurring dreams, nightmares and many consecutive sleepless nights caused by remembering the traumatic experiences in Korea. Some are in the book and some, he says, will never be told.

“Once a year for 10 years following my release from active duty, I was visited by two CIA agents and debriefed, or reminded, that I signed an oath of secrecy after each of the five missions,” says Lowery. “That was and still is in the back of my mind.” An inspiring story of heroism and bravery, The Untold Experiences of a Navy Corpsman details how a handful of marines secretly risked their lives to save others. “My number one qualification for writing the book is that I lived the part,” says Lowery. “I was there.”