Warrior Wednesday


* Editor Note:  We will always try and highlight interest articles involving our Veterans, and I know folks here  love and respect our troops and Veterans immensely.  I’ve always done my best to try and include our troops and Veterans on the HeartBeat, and let them know we pray, care and respect them every day- not only once or twice a year.  Unfortunately sometimes there’s not much to write about without being too repetitive, so we will be phasing out the “Warrior Wednesday” style threads, and include our Veterans on Fridays along with our current duty Troops.   Hopefully though we won’t do away with Veteran related articles on Wednesdays completely, as on important battle dates and other interesting historical dates, we’ll continue to Remember the past generations of our exceptional military and honor them.

We do have two stories highlighting a couple of exceptional folks today…

The first comes out of Georgia, where Frank Gleason who had just graduated from  Penn State University with a degree in chemical engineering was ready to serve his country to fight against the threat of the Japanese.

In 1944 Gleason, on his 24th birthday, found himself in southern China commanding a small squad of US troops whose mission was to disrupt the Japanese troops stationed in that country during WWII.

This unit of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) command blew up more than 100 bridges, destroyed rail lines, communication systems and was a general thorn in the side of the Japanese Army to put it mildly.

OSS intelligence networks during WW2 went deep behind enemy lines throughout Europe and Asia to aid resistance organizations and these intelligence officers played a critical role in securing the Allied victory across both continents.

All these years later, these men, Frank Gleason now 96 years old have finally received the recognition they so fully deserve, and were awarded  the Congressional Gold Medal which is the highest civilian honor that can bestowed.

House Speaker Paul Ryan officially presented the medal to the Office of Strategic Services on March 21 after more than 2 years of petitioning Washington to grant these heroes their due.  Excellent!

For more on this retired US Army Colonal, you can read the rest of the story here.

The second story has it’s beginnings in March 2002 during Operation Anaconda, in Afghanistan.  A reconnaissance team was sent to an observation post on a mountaintop early on March 4, 2002, to support the massive offensive against al-Qaida militants when the SEAL team’s insertion helicopter came under fierce fire from small arms and RPG’s, One team member ejected from the chopper before it crashed.

SEAL Recon team leader, Master Chief Britt Slabinski  brought his team back to the mountain to try and rescue the ejected team member, then after leading a full frontal assault against enemy fire, Slabinski got his team to a better position to where he could call in air strikes.

According to a released statement from the White House, “He repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire as he engaged in a pitched, close-quarters firefight against the tenacious and more heavily armed enemy forces… Proximity made air support impossible, and after several teammates became casualties, the situation become untenable… During the subsequent 14 hours, he stabilized casualties on his team and continued the fight against the enemy until the mountaintop was secured and the quick reaction force and his team was extracted...”

According to the White House, SEAL Master Chief Britt Slabinski, now retired,  will be awarded the Medal of Honor later this month for his actions.

There was a lot of talk about the operation as in 2016 the New York Times reported Air Force Tech Sgt. John Chapman was wounded and left on the mountain and that the Air Force claimed that Chapman was still alive and fought on after the SEALs retreated.  Slabinski told the Times that he crawled to Chapman but detected no response and thought he was dead before he pulled back down the mountain.

Retired Delta Force commander Maj. Gen. Gary Harrell was quoted by the Times saying that if anyone thought Chapman was still alive, “we would have been trying to move heaven and earth to get him out of there… It’s easy to say, ‘well, I’d never leave someone behind,’” Harrell was quoted as saying. “It’s a lot harder when you’re getting your ass shot off.”

According to a report in Task and Purpose Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, the combat controller who was killed during the Battle may be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

If awarded he would be the first airman to receive a Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, for actions since the Vietnam War.

Chapman originally received an Air Force Cross, the second-highest valor award an airman can receive, for his heroism fighting the al Qaida fighters.

Predator drone footage showed more evidence that Chapman was unconscious, not dead, when the SEALs withdrew from the battle under heavy fire.

The video analysis suggested Chapman regained consciousness and resumed fighting al Qaida members approaching on three sides and is believed to have crawled into a bunker, shot and killed an enemy fighter charging at him, and killed another enemy fighter in hand-to-hand combat.

This prompted former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James to recommend his Air Force Cross be upgraded to the Medal of Honor back  in 2016, but as of yet, the White House and Air Force haven’t confirmed that Chapman will receive the Medal of Honor.

Let’s hope the brave actions of Tech. Sgt. Chapman will be recognized, even posthumously with the Medal of Honor he so deserves.

For more about Operation Anaconda, please read here.

God Bless all our Troops and Veterans for their service and immense sacrifices.