Navy Cross for Vietnam War Heroism
Former active duty Marine Ned E. Seath received the Navy Cross, the second highest award for valor in the Marine Corps and Navy, in a February 11, 2011, ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The presentation of the medal, made by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, came nearly 45 years after Seath’s Vietnam War heroism during Operation Hastings.
On July 16, 1966, Seath was serving as a machine-gun team leader with Company K, 3d Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division, when he halted an attack by North Vietnamese soldiers. His Navy Cross citation reads, in part: “Working in pitch darkness with only the occasional flickering illumination from aircraft dropped flares above and suffering a leg and hand wound from mortar fire, Lance Corporal Seath expertly crafted an operational M60 machine gun from the pieces of two disabled weapons. Immediately and with devastating effects, he directed deadly accurate fire at the onrushing enemy, ultimately repelling the enemy’s assault.”
Seath’s former platoon commander, Major General (Ret.) David Richwine, recounted that Seath began laying down machine-gun fire while in the prone position. However, as his field of fire became obstructed by enemy casualties, Seath completely disregarded his own safety, first kneeling and then eventually standing up, fully exposed to enemy fire, to continue repelling the advance. “Everyone was fighting for their lives. Several Marines even had fixed bayonets,” said Richwine as he recalled the close proximity of the advancing NVA. “Seath was providing wellaimed, disciplined machinegun fire, which ultimately killed their attack. It was a combined effort stopping the enemy. But Seath was the guy with the tool to do the job best – all while in the dark.”
Like many memories from the Vietnam War, Seath’s story of heroism was tucked away when his service in the Marine Corps ended. But seven years ago it resurfaced during a battalion reunion celebration. That sparked a movement started by Bill Hutton, who had served alongside Seath during the battle, to recognize Seath’s heroism with a medal. The result of those efforts was the award of the Navy Cross.
“What Ned went through – what he did – is emblematic of the Marine Corps,” said Secretary Mabus. “This is one of the biggest honors I have. Ned Seath is a hero.”
– Story by Lance Corporal Christofer P. Baines.
Soldier Posthumously Awarded DSC
During a somber ceremony held January 16, 2013, at Fort Campbell, Ky., General David M. Rodriguez, commander of U.S. Forces Command, posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to Staff Sergeant Eric B. Shaw, of Company C, 2d Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagle” Division (Air Assault). Shaw’s widow, Audrey, along with his mother, Michelle Campbell, accepted the award on his behalf. Shaw is the 166th Screaming Eagle Soldier to be awarded the DSC, but only the second to receive it for combat occurring since the Vietnam War.
Shaw died in combat June 27, 2010, while serving as a squad leader in Marawara District, Kunar province, Afghanistan, during 1st BCT’s deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His award citation explains that he was killed as his squad attempted to seize the village of Daridam. After coming to the aid of 12 Afghan National Army soldiers who had been cut off from the squad, he was leading them back to U.S. forces when he was struck by enemy fire. Shaw’s actions that day are “an inspiration to us for how he lived his life and sacrificed it for his country,” said Rodriguez.
The deadly incident occurred during the 31-year-old’s third deployment to a combat zone. The Exeter, Maine, native joined the Army in October 2004, a time when U.S. forces remained on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he arrived at Fort Campbell in March 2005. Shaw chose to enlist as an infantryman, just as his father had done during the Vietnam War. “He wanted to experience combat as his father had,” explained Audrey, who first met her husband while enrolled at the University of Southern Maine. As the third anniversary of Shaw’s death approaches, she keeps his memory alive for their three daughters: Madison, Victoria and Julia.
“[Shaw’s] Soldiers knew him as a fantastic leader,” Rodriguez recalled. “He spent an enormous amount of time training them, not only on the physical stress and strain of war, but the emotional toll war takes on a Soldier. [Staff] Sergeant Shaw did everything he could to prepare his Soldiers for what they were facing every day. His superiors considered him a professional warrior.”
– Story by Megan Locke Simpson.
71 Years After Historic Raid
The four men pictured here include three members of the famed Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. Behind them is a B-25 Mitchell medium bomber, the same type of aircraft they flew on their historic mission to bomb targets on the Japanese mainland during America’s darkest days of World War II. The plane is one of four B-25s that flew out of the airport at Destin, Fla., for the Doolittle Raiders’ 71st reunion, held at Fort Walton Beach. Sadly, this will be their last reunion; only four members remain, and only three are well enough to travel.
On April 18, 1942 – 71 years and one day before this photo was taken – 16 B-25 bombers carrying 80 volunteer airmen led by Lieutenant Colonel James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle took off from the flight deck of USS Hornet in the first joint operation conducted by the U.S. Army Air Forces and the U.S. Navy. While the heroic raid did little damage, it greatly boosted the morale of the American public and forced Japanese leaders to reposition their forces to defend their homeland. (See Battlefield Leader, “Jimmy Doolittle’s Extraordinary Life,” July 2006 ACG.)
Now the famed Doolittle Tokyo Raiders need our help. Efforts are under way to honor these American heroes with the Congressional Gold Medal. Although the necessary legislation has been started, ACG readers are asked to help move it forward. Please visit doolittleraider.com for more information and for links to contact our nation’s senators and representatives to urge their support for the Congressional Gold Medal for the Doolittle Raiders.
– Submitted by Brian Anderson, Sergeant at Arms, Doolittle Raiders Association.
Janet Fitzgerald’s Castle
Janet Fitzgerald’s mixed- media version of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ castle insignia is a unique artwork inspired by her decades-long personal connection with the iconic symbol. Fitzgerald first saw the castle on the lapel of the uniform worn by her father, Lawrence Fitzgerald, who had served in the Corps of Engineers during World War II, and she was mesmerized by its symmetry, delicate detail and projection of strength.
After entering the Army in 1976, Fitzgerald again encountered the castle as a member of an Army Artist Team in 1979. Assigned to document Corps of Engineers projects along the U.S. East Coast, she saw the familiar castle flying on flags above dams, parks and coastal facilities. Her love of the castle’s proportions is echoed in the noble lines of the Corps of Engineers structures depicted in her artworks during this period.
In 1994, Fitzgerald was working as a civilian graphic designer for the Corps of Engineers when she took the opportunity to explore the castle as a work of art. While use of a castle as the symbol for the Corps of Engineers dates to the early 19th century, its precise origin is unknown because of an 1838 fire that destroyed records at West Point. The earliest known visual record connecting the castle symbol with the Corps of Engineers is a button worn on West Point cadet uniforms during the War of 1812. Corps of Engineers historians obtained for Fitzgerald a 3-by-3-inch copy of an early draft of the familiar turreted castle that became her artistic inspiration.
Because no early drawings of the castle symbol survive in large format, Fitzgerald sought to create for the Corps of Engineers an image that would look like a 19th-century relic. Starting with heavy-duty watercolor paper “because it needed to withstand a bit of abuse,” Fitzgerald sketched the castle on a grid and carefully traced it multiple times on different papers to create a print. She next added color and dimension using gouache, a water-based medium. Almost immediately, she was dissatisfied, saying the result was “too clean, too new, too colorful, too perfectly shaded – wrong.” Fitzgerald then took a drastic step – she stuck the art to her shower wall and hosed it down. This left only a subtle suggestion of color and slightly faded the oil-based outline of the castle, giving the work a more aged look. After laboriously drying it, she added touches of gouache and pastel to enhance depth.
The result is an antique-looking artistic portrayal of the famed castle symbol, enthusiastically embraced by the Corps of Engineers as part of its visual history. The artwork is now preserved in the Army Art Collection at the Army’s Museum Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va.
– Submitted by Colonel (Ret.) Robert Dalessandro and Sarah Forgey, Curator, Army Art Collection, U.S. Army Center of Military History.
For information about the National Museum of the U.S. Army, slated to open in 2015, visit armyhistory.org.
The Battle of Moore’s Mill
The American Civil War witnessed 10,000 clashes of arms, ranging from massive battles involving 100,000 or more troops (like Gettysburg) to small engagements with only a few hundred Soldiers. One of those smaller but still deadly encounters was the July 28, 1862, Battle of Moore’s Mill, near Fulton, in central Missouri. Colonel Odon Guitar led 700 Union troops against Colonel Joseph C. Porter’s 350 Confederate Soldiers, resulting in a Union victory. Guitar’s forces lost 13 killed and 55 wounded, while Confederate casualties may have been as high as 200 killed and wounded.
In March 2013, ACG advisory board member and world-renowned forensic archaeologist Dr. Douglas Scott headed a team of battlefield detectives that surveyed the Moore’s Mill battle site. They unearthed hundreds of artifacts that are helping historians “save our history” and gain a much clearer picture of how the fighting unfolded that day.
In a separate project on the same battlefield, Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) Elijah Gates Camp 570 of Fulton funded the use of ground-penetrating radar that led to the discovery of a sub-soil “anomaly” that is likely the location of a mass grave where the Confederate dead from the battle were interred. The SCV camp now plans to erect a monument to the slain on both sides of the fighting.
Farewell to U.S. V Corps
June 12, 2013, marked both the inactivation of a famed American military unit and the end of an era for U.S. forces in Germany. On that day, U.S. V Corps commander Lieutenant General James Terry furled the unit colors at his corps’ headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany, as V Corps was formally inactivated.
Although V Corps’ official U.S. Regular Army lineage began in 1918 during World War I, the unit’s roots date back to the Civil War when V Corps was part of the Army of the Potomac. From 1862-65, the corps fought in famous Civil War battles such as Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Cold Harbor and Petersburg, and its commanders included George G. Meade and Gouverneur K. Warren.
During World War I, V Corps participated in the Battle of Saint Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, and in World War II it was at the forefront of the fighting at D-Day, the Hürtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge. Notable World War II V Corps commanders included Leonard T. Gerow, Edward H. Brooks and Clarence Huebner. Post-World War II commanders included Creighton Abrams, Colin Powell and Scott Wallace (who led the corps to capture Baghdad in 2003 during the Iraq War).
During the decades-long Cold War, V Corps and VII Corps provided the majority of U.S. Army Europe/7th Army combat units as NATO and the Soviet Union-led Warsaw Pact faced off across the heavily guarded border separating West and East Germany. Since VII Corps was deactivated in 1992, V Corps’ recent deactivation marks the true end of an era.
– Submitted by Bob Seitz and K.C. Brown
Originally published in the November 2013 issue of Armchair General.