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U.S. Pilots Receive French Valor Awards

Two U.S. Army 10th Combat Aviation Brigade pilots each received the Cross for Military Valor with Silver Star, one of France’s highest military awards, October 23, 2012, at the residence of the ambassador of France in Washington, D.C.

Captain Benjamin H. March, commander of D Troop, 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Six Shooters, and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Keenan A. Bachmeyer of C Company “Bluemax,” 1st Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, Task Force Phoenix, earned the awards for their courage and exemplary conduct during a December 28, 2010, mission in eastern Afghanistan while providing air support to a contingent of the “Jehol” unit of French special forces operating just outside the capital city of Kabul.

While flying in their OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter above the Alasay Valley, the two pilots took enemy fire. “We were responding to troops in contact,” March said. “Special forces were taking fire, and we were trying to identify where the fire was coming from when a bullet came through the chin bubble of the cockpit next to [Bachmeyer’s] feet and up past my head and hit a panel. It hit one of the blades on the way out.” The panel shattered, and its shards hit Bachmeyer’s knee and March’s face, cutting the men.

The pilots had flown over the area for two to three hours, providing situational awareness to the French troops by letting them know where enemy fire was coming from. According to a news release from the French Embassy, the actions of March and Bachmeyer made a significant impact on protecting the lives of the members of the Jehol unit.

In remarks following the award presentation, General Bertrand Ract-Madoux, chief of staff of the French army, described the event as “the fruit of a mutual commitment” in Afghanistan between France and the United States. He also expressed his satisfaction in being able to honor the U.S. pilots “on behalf of the French soldiers whose lives were saved.” Also present was General Lloyd Austin III, U.S. Army vice chief of staff.

“It was a big honor,” March said of receiving the award. “I definitely didn’t expect that level of attention. I’m very humbled by it.”

Bachmeyer agreed. “I’m very humbled, especially coming from such a high level of the French military,” he said. “I’m very honored.”

– Story by Staff Sergeant Todd L. Pouliot, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade. Information from a French Embassy news release was used in this story.

The French Cross for Military Valor (Croix de la Valeur Militaire) was created in 1956, and in 2011 it was authorized to be presented to “members of Allied military forces who committed an act of valor or performed valorous service while on joint operations with French forces.”

Marine Receives Silver Star for Afghanistan Combat

U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Paul Worley, an infantry platoon sergeant with Kilo Company, 3d Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, was awarded the Silver Star Medal at Camp Pendleton, Calif., July 17, 2012.

Worley, a native of Eden, N.C., received the medal for his heroic actions of July 12, 2010, while serving as squad leader of 1st Squad, Combined Anti-Armor Team 1, Weapons Company, 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, Regimental Combat Team 7, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, in support of operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

“I give special thanks to my parents for putting up with me,” said Worley. “Also, I want to thank the Marines who were with me. You guys have a special place in my heart.”

Worley and his squad provided flank security for a route clearance platoon as part of Operation Roadhouse I. During the operation, the enemy initiated a coordinated attack using sniper fire, rockets and rocket propelled grenades. Worley exposed himself to enemy fire to efficiently direct his squad’s counterattack to suppress the enemy fighting positions.

“He was the best squad leader I had ever had,” said Sergeant Jacob Schmitt, an FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile gunner for Worley’s squad during the 2010 deployment. “When you are in an infantry unit for so long, you get kind of close in combat.” Worley and his squad sustained their efforts under intense enemy fire for approximately five hours. When numerous Marine machine-gunners began to run low on ammunition,

Worley ran between compounds to resupply his men. During one of those trips he was shot in his right thigh. However, his courage did not waver in the face of adversity. He tended to his wounds and directed a corpsman to a more seriously injured Marine.

In addition to courage, Worley showed commitment to his mission and refused to be medically evacuated until he saw fit. “My adrenaline was so high,” he said. “When I got hit, I scooted behind a wall and dressed my wound. Once I did that, I continued what I was doing and took a few more trips to get the ammunition. My command wanted to evacuate me, but I explained the situation to them and I got to stay until it was dark out.”

Worley continued to move about the battlefield under seemingly endless waves of enemy direct fire. With self-reliance and great determination, he led his squad until the enemy was suppressed.

“It’s definitely one of those moments you never forget,” said Worley. “It’s easy to be in charge when you have the Marines that I had with me.”

– Story by Private 1st Class Demetrius Morgan, 11th MEU.

Over There: Doughboys in the Great War

Production begins this spring on the four-part documentary series There: Doughboys Over in the Great War, presented by Dale Dye. Filming of the battle re-enactment scenes is planned for locations in or near Fort Benning, Ga. Slated for release in 2017, the centennial year of America’s entry into World War I, the series will be distributed by American Public Television.

Dye, a retired Marine captain, actor, author and founder of Warriors Inc. (warriorsinc .com) whose efforts have resulted in the superb re-creation of combat action in Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers and The Pacific, says of the new World War I series: “It will be an in-depth, intriguing and inspiring look at one of the most pivotal and costly conflicts in the history of mankind. It will give our audiences a feel for the brutal, dehumanizing experience of static war in muddy, bloody trenches.”

Over There: Doughboys in the Great War is a co-production of independent filmmakers Livingbattlefield and the National Infantry Foundation (, the non-profit organization that operates the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center in Columbus, Ga.

The documentary’s director and executive producer, Richard Lanni, states, “Rats, waterlogged trenches, barbed wire and shell holes will add to the authenticity of the series. Our re-enactors will be young U.S. Army veterans.”

Arming the Revolution: Amusettes Manufactured in Stafford, Va.

Between 1776 and 1782, the Rappahannock Forge in Stafford, Va., manufactured pistols, muskets and amusettes. Defined by the French as light artillery, amusettes also were called boat guns, rampart guns or wall guns. Used for protection on boats or in fortifications, these large, semi-portable but usually stationary muskets bridged the gap between shoulder-fired muskets and artillery. They weighed about 50 pounds each, were mounted on a steel swivel and could fire a 4-ounce or 1.2-inch shot.

When the American Revolution began in 1775, Virginia established a state-operated gun factory along the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg, called the Fredericksburg Manufactory. Initially, the facility repaired firearms already owned by the colony. Although the facility began the production of muskets by mid-1776, to bolster the supply of weaponry, Virginia also contracted with the Rappahannock Forge, which lay directly across from the state facility on the Stafford side of the Rappahannock River. Also known as the Hunter Iron Works, it was privately operated by Scottish emigrant James Hunter between May 1776 and April 22, 1782.

On February 4, 1776, Fielding Lewis, commissioner of the Fredericksburg Manufactory, wrote to his brother-in-law, George Washington: “I propose making a Rifle next week to carry a quarter of a pound ball. If it answers my expectation, a few of them will keep off ships of war for out narrow rivers, and be useful in the beginning of an engagement by land.”

Although wall guns were little used during the Revolutionary War, their effectiveness was attested by General Charles Lee, who wrote from Williamsburg in 1776: “I am likewise furnishing myself with 4-ounced rifle-amusettes, which will carry an infernal distance; the 2-ounced hit a half sheet of paper 500 yards distance.”

There are no known surviving amusettes from the Fredericksburg Manufactory. However, four examples from the Rappahannock Forge survived the war and are in the U.S. Army historical collection. The massive rifles are brass mounted, roughly 5 feet long, full-stocked, with a sliding wooden patch box and wooden ramrod. The amusette pictured here was manufactured about 1777 and is the earliest American-made firearm in the U.S. Army Core Collection at the Museum Support Center in Fort Belvoir, Va. The other examples are located at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill.; Springfield Armory, Mass.; and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

– Submitted by Colonel (Ret.) Robert Dalessandro and Dieter Stenger, Curator, U.S. Army Center of Military History.

For information about the National Museum of the U.S. Army, slated to open in 2015, visit

Tin Shed Museum’s Extraordinary Find

Andrew Isaacs and Seimon Pugh-Jones of the Tin Shed Experience (tinshed, the out-  standing museum in Laugharne, Wales, that provides visitors a fascinating “glimpse into the past” of what life was like in the 1940s, report an extraordinary find at a local flea market – a camera that may have taken one of World War II’s most famous photographs.

According to documentation accompanying the Super Ikonta B 531/16 camera, it once belonged to James Mapham, who as a combat cameraman in the British Army Film and Photographic Unit during World War II photographed operations in North Africa and Europe. He passed away in 1968.

Mapham also served as Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s official photographer during the war, taking pictures of “Monty” with such notables as Winston Churchill, King George VI, General Charles de Gaulle and General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Yet Mapham’s most famous photographs, including one acclaimed by some as “the greatest photo of the war,” were taken at Sword Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944, as British forces came ashore during the Allied invasion of France.

Thus Pugh-Jones (a professional photographer with an avid interest in World War II combat photography, and formerly Armchair General magazine’s staff photographer) and Isaacs are thrilled at the potentially historic flea market discovery. Further research into the camera’s background continues, and Pugh-Jones explains, “If this camera is the one to take that famous D-Day photograph, it would be a hugely significant find.” Yet, he concludes, even if the D-Day provenance of the camera cannot be verified, “just to own a camera used at war by James Mapham and knowing what scenes it captured is a joy in itself.”

– Submitted by Andrew Isaacs and Seimon Pugh-Jones of the Tin Shed Experience Museum, Laugharne, Wales.

Anglo-Boer War Cape Rebels Memorial

Deetlefs du Toit (right), a South African Member of Parliament and longtime Armchair General subscriber, holds a copy of ACG’s premier issue (Volume 1, Number 1, March 2004) while giving ACG Editor in Chief Jerry Morelock a guided tour of the historic Anglo-Boer War Cape Rebels Memorial in Paarl, South Africa.

The memorial was erected in honor of the Cape Afrikaners who rose up to oppose British aggression. It commemorates the valiant but ultimately unsuccessful 1899-1902 struggle against British imperialism by the Boers, descendants of South Africa’s original Dutch settlers. Although the Boers’ tactical effectiveness (in both conventional and guerrilla operations) and unexcelled marksmanship exacted a heavy toll on the British invaders, Britain’s greatly superior numbers and ruthless countermeasures (scorched-earth devastation and brutal “concentration camps” in which nearly 30,000 Boer women and children died) ultimately prevailed.

The powerfully moving memorial is located in the same grove of oak trees where Boer farmers and a large contingent of womenfolk first gathered to organize resistance by the Cape Colony Afrikaners in support of the two independent Boer republics (Orange Free State and the Transvaal) invaded by Britain. Cape Afrikaners had suffered cultural and language discrimination under Britain’s rule in the Cape Colony since 1806 when a large military force invaded and defeated the Cape Town-based Batavian (Dutch) Republic and imposed British colonial rule.

Previously, du Toit and Morelock had collaborated as co-authors of the article “South African Boer Fighters, 1880- 1902,” in ACG’s July 2012 Great Warriors department. Du Toit’s outstanding two-part web article “South Africa’s Boer Fighters in the Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902,” which expanded and enhanced the Great Warriors piece, is posted online at, as are additional photos of the memorial and the beautiful and historic Paarl region of South Africa.

ACG extends a special thanks to Willem Johannes Naude of Paarl, South Africa, for taking the photos. Not only is he a champion long-range marksman, he is also a superb photographer!


Originally published in the May 2013 issue of Armchair General.