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CHRONICLING GREATNESS PROFILES

Click on the videos below to hear amazing stories from WWII through Vietnam.
 
 
 
Click on the audio interviews below or names at right to hear more amazing stories.
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CHRONICLING GREATNESS PROFILES

 
Scroll down to view more profiles or click the names on the right

World War II
Duane E. Robertson, RMC, USN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USS Yorktown
stopped and burning June, 4 1942

Duane E. Robertson, RMC, USN on the Japanese attack on the
USS Yorktown (CV-5) June 4, 1942 at the Battle of Midway.

Duane E. Robertson, RMC, USN -
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"Upon leaving Pearl (Harbor) for Midway we did not know what was up but we suspected that it was something big as we were sent out before repairs were satisfactori1y completed on the ship. Everyone was a little apprehensive. 

 

At Midway I was a Seaman 2C (Radioman striker). My battle station was in radio central and generally I manned the 500kcs circuit. From my perspective, being closed up inside, the battle of Midway mirrored the battle of the Coral Sea. That was, up to the point that the torpedoes struck. Each hit caused a sudden lurch of the ship and soon we had a large list to the port side. 

 

We had also lost power which had us depending on emergency lighting for what light we had. No communications were available at this time that I am aware of. Being cooped up made the battle seem much long than it actually was. Most were saying silent prayers and praying that it would soon be over. The bomb that hit the gun mount just aft of the superstructure gave us quite a jolt. 

 

When the word was given to abandon ship we found that the main hatch to radio central was jammed and could not be opened as hard as we tried. In single file we made our way from radio central through the communications office and into the crypto room. In the overhead of the crypto room was a scuttle. We crawled up on a desk and were able to pull ourselves up through the scuttle. I can't remember if we went up another deck or not but we ended up on the bridge. 

 

From the bridge we had no trouble getting back to the flight deck. It was a sickening to see all of the dead shipmates from the gun mount and all of the destruction that had be done our beloved ship. Everyone I saw had a life preserver. When the order was given to abandon ship there was no panic or fighting for lines. Several lines had been lowered over the starboard side, mostly aft of the superstructure, to the water. I don’t think that a conscious effort was made by anyone to line their shoes up. I took mine off and set them together with those already there. It seems to me that sailors of that time were neat by nature. I experienced no problem in going down the line. The water had quite a bit of debris and a lot of oil."

 

Duane E. Robertson, RMC, USN(Ret)

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CHRONICLING GREATNESS PROFILES

 
Scroll down to view more profiles or click the names on the right

World War II

602nd Air Engineering Squadron

SGT Harry Quinton

Harry Quinton -
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Harry Quinton recounts the Freeman Field incident.
 

Freeman Field Indiana Incident On April 5, 1945, members of the 477th Bombardment Group attempted to integrate an all-white officers’ club. Military regulations said any officers’ club was open to any officer, but Freeman Field, near Seymour, Ind., had two officers’ clubs. One for blacks and one for whites.

 

"A group of black officers go into the white officers club, they asked to be served, they were refused, they were asked to leave and they refused to leave and they were placed under arrest. Shortly there after another group came in and the same thing happens. Within a short time 60 black officers, one of them was Coleman Young, (future mayor of Detroit) he was a Tuskegee airman, had gone into the so called white officers club and been arrested. Colonel Selway (the white base commander) had confiscated the run-down, former noncommissioned for the black officers and they called it "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and they wouldn't even go there.

 

Selway gets kinda upset and shuts down both clubs. He issues a new base order that basically reads in effect if you know who you are you know which club you should go to.. I'm paraphrasing here but you understand. He called in all the black officers to read it and sign it. He reminds them that refusing a direct order in war time you can be shot. 101 refused to sign it.

 

...Thurgood Marshall (future associate justice of the United States Supreme Court) sent lawyers from Chicago from the NAACP. Theodore M. Berry, (future mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio,) and another lawyer. (Lieutenant William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr., (future United States Secretary of Transportation under President Gerald Ford.) They were the ones who where defending these people.

 

Three of them were actually court martialed. Terry was dishonorably discharged and fined $150 because they say he pushed an (white) officer when he came into the club, the other two were acquitted." (In 1995, 50 years after his conviction, the U.S. Army pardoned Terry, restored his rank and gave him back his $150.)

 

--- Harry Quinton
 

Harry Quinton on Benjamin O. Davis Jr.

 

"Colonel Davis (Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr.) returns (from Europe) to the states and he is given command of this outfit and the base. Selway and his people are relieved of duty and now we have an all black organization. I think that was the greatest moment for me in the service when that morning when our commanding officer came out and he was a black guy dressed in his tunic, with his wings on, his ribbons on I felt like now we really accomplished something, seen something."

 

Circa June 1945

 

--- Harry Quinton

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CHRONICLING GREATNESS

with Adam P. Kennedy
Interview with Lt. Colonel Richard Rinaldo, Vietnam War Distinguished Cross Recipient and Legion of Valor member. He discusses leadership, the Vietnam War and his heroic actions on March 22, 1969 that led to his receiving the DSC.

 

Distinguished
Service Cross

Lt. Colonel Richard Rinaldo - Vietnam War
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Lt. Colonel Richard Rinaldo
Branch: Army
War: Vietnam War
Citations: Distinguished Service Cross, Combat Infantryman’s Badge,
Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and parachutist badge