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American Handgunner Nov/Dec 2010 - Page 24

John Connor GUNCRANKDIARIES TM EXCUSES, ALIBIS, PITHY OBSERVATIONS & GENERAL EPHUS Veterans daY Lest We — and tHeY — Forget noVeMBer 11, 2010 American. He was shot down in November of 1943, while leading a night mission to intercept Japanese torpedo bombers. No trace of Butch or his aircraft was ever found. I do not believe one person in 100,000 who pass through O’Hare International know of Butch and his bravery. But on Veterans Day, will you pause to remember Butch? Woodrow Wilson Keeble, a full-blood Sioux from Wahpeton, N.D., was being scouted by the Chicago White Sox for his 100-mph fastball when his Guard unit was activated for Korea. Master Sergeant Keeble, already a WWII veteran of the Americal Division, found another use for his pitching arm on October 20, 1951, in the rocky hills of Sangsan-ni. After his unit suffered heavy casualties in three assaults on a Chinese-defended hilltop, he decided to attack it alone. Hurling grenades and firing his BAR, Keeble knocked out three pillboxes and cleared two trenches, killing 16 enemy infantry as they threw grenades at him and delivered withering fire. Woody took that hill and held it. He was shot five times, and stung with 83 grenade fragments. Keeble’s nomination papers for the Medal of Honor were lost twice in the years afterward. Woody didn’t push it; he hadn’t fought for decorations, but for his country and his comrades. Thankfully, others persisted; Woody was finally awarded 56 years later, in March 2009. Woody died in 1982. Who will honor Woody on November 11th? Y ou’ve heard of the “Siege of Boston” during our American Revolution, right? At first, it was not a siege but a standoff: We held the hills, but the British held the port and city. They were content to sit out the winter in relative comfort waiting for reinforcements in the spring, and let the ragtag Continental Army freeze, starve and dwindle meantime. A very young, obese fellow who explained he ran a bookstore approached General Washington; his favorite subject was military history. His sketches suggested improvements to the rebels’ fortifications impressed Washington so, he ordered them to be carried out. Then the lad expressed his concern that without artillery, the redcoats might still overrun their defenses. He reminded the General there were cannons in the abandoned fort at Ticonderoga, in northern New York. It was over 300 miles away and might as well have been a thousand, as winter descended. Washington said he did not believe the guns could be moved in winter, much less transported to Boston. The pale, plump young man volunteered to try. None of Washington’s aides thought the fellow (a 300-pound, clumsy, city-boy they laughingly called “Fat Henry”) would ever be seen again. But Henry did reach Ticonderoga, and 56 days later he delivered 59 cannons and mortars weighing 60 tons to his general, having dragged them over the Berkshires through repeated blizzards. Faced with Henry’s cannons, the redcoats abandoned Boston and sailed for Canada. Henry’s accomplishments from that time on were legion and extraordinary. But every November 11, who will lift a cup to the memory of Fat Henry Knox? Forgotten — Lost Papers On February 20, 1942, the carrier Lexington was the principal target of Japanese bombers during furious air battles around Papua New Guinea and the giant enemy base at Rabaul. Previous attacks on the Lex had failed, but seriously depleted her air assets. When another flight of nine Japanese twinengine bombers were detected heading straight for the Lexington, Lieutenant Edward “Butch” O’Hare and his wingman “Duff” Dufilho were the only ones who could possibly intercept — and Duff’s guns were jammed; useless. Attacking a Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” bomber could be suicidal. The Betty’s defenses included five 7.7mm machineguns and a tail-mounted 20mm cannon. To jump a “vee-of-vees” of Bettys solo, went beyond suicide. Butch bored in, guns blazing. Accounts vary on how many Butch shot down — probably five, with a sixth damaged — but his C.O., also flying an F4F Wildcat, arrived to see three enemy bombers falling in flames at once. The attack failed. Butch became the Navy’s first flying ace of World War II, and its first aviator awarded a Medal of Honor. Before and after that day, Butch O’Hare distinguished himself as a modest, yet fiercely courageous Our friends at Ranger Up showing Veterans Day wear. If you order, upon checkout enter promo code Handgunner2010 for free Priority Mail shipping. You’re welcome, and thank you for remembering that Freedom Isn’t Free. One Small Request There are so many stories I want to share with you; I had to simply pick three at random. I know you folks will honor our veterans, living and dead, on Veterans Day. But will you help remind others — including many who don’t want to be reminded — that freedom isn’t free; that countless veterans paid for it? If you have served — any service, in any role — you paid for it. If not a veteran, if you are a son of liberty, a daughter of independence, a child of freedom, let others know it. I’m proud to stand with you. Connor OuT * For more info (to buy these shirts): www. americanhandgunner.com/productindex 24 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER2010

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