Archive | Tributes

RSS feed for this section

#imnohero: Victor R. Adams, Master Sergeant E-7, U.S. Air Force


Victor Adams was born on January 6, 1938, in Smithfield, West Virginia. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on May 27, 1955, and after completing basic training, he completed Helicopter Mechanic School at Gary AFB, Texas, in March 1956. His first assignment was as an H-19 Chickasaw helicopter mechanic with the 55th Air Rescue Squadron at Thule AB, Greenland, from March 1956 to April 1957, and then with Headquarters Mobile Air Material Area at Brookley AFB, Alabama, from April 1957 to January 1961. Sgt Adams’ next assignment was as a helicopter mechanic with the 818th Aircraft Support Squadron and 307th Organizational Maintenance Squadron at Lincoln AFB, Nebraska, from January 1961 to February 1963, followed by service as an H-21 Work Horse helicopter flight mechanic with the 5041st and then the 21st Organizational Maintenance Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, from February 1963 to February 1967. His next assignment was as a flight engineer with the 3630th and 3750th Consolidated Maintenance Squadron at Sheppard AFB, Texas, from February 1967 to April 1968, when he deployed to Southeast Asia. Sgt Adams served as a UH-1 Iroquios aerial gunner and flight engineer with the 20th Special Operations Squadron at Nha Trang AB, South Vietnam, from April 1968 to April 1969, and then served with the 1042nd Test Squadron at Dover AFB, Delaware, from April 1969 to February 1970. His final assignment was as a crew chief and flight mechanic with the 1st Helicopter Squadron at Andrews AFB, Maryland, from February 1970 until his retirement from the Air Force on June 1, 1975. Victor Adams died on June 1, 1981, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

His Air Force Cross Citation reads:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, awards the Air Force Cross to Technical Sergeant Victor R. Adams for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as a UH-1F Helicopter Aerial Gunner near Duc Co, Republic of Vietnam, on 27 November 1968. On that date, Sergeant Adams’ aircraft was shot down by hostile ground fire and crashed in dense jungle. Disregarding his own injuries and the imminence of hostile activity, he assisted the copilot from the burning helicopter and returned to rescue the trapped personnel. He succeeded in pulling another man from the wreckage, before the severity of the fire and subsequent explosions forced him to abandon further rescue efforts. Through his superb airmanship, aggressiveness, and extraordinary heroism, Sergeant Adams reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.



#neverforget: Captain Ralph Vester Braden, EOW May 2, 2011


Captain Ralph Braden succumbed to injuries sustained 10 days earlier while attempting to arrest a male subject at the scene of a domestic dispute.

He was seriously injured while struggling with the subject after the man attempted to escape out of a window. The subject was able to flee the scene but was arrested 14 hours later.

Captain Braden was transported to a local hospital where he remained in ICU until succumbing to the injuries.

The subject is facing charges in connection with Captain Braden’s murder. On January 22, 2012, the suspect was convicted of felony reckless homicide and sentenced to four years in prison.

Captain Braden had served with the Wartburg Police Department for 22 years. He is survived by his wife and two sons.


#neverforget: Officer Bryan Jospeh Durman, EOW April 29, 2010


Police Officer Bryan Durman was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver at the intersection of North Limestone Street and Alabama Avenue.

He was investigating a noise ordinance violation at approximately 10:00 pm. He had responded to the location to locate the driver of a vehicle that had been playing music too loudly when he was struck.

On June 30th, 2011, the subject who struck Officer Durman was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and numerous other charges in connection with Officer Durman’s death. He was subsequently sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Officer Durman was a U.S. Air Force veteran and had served with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Police Department for 2-1/2 years.


#imnohero: Mannert L. Abele, Lieutenant Commander O-4, U.S. Navy


Jim Abele was born on July 11, 1903, in Quincy, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on August 12, 1920, and after completing training at Newport, Rhode Island, he was assigned to the battleship USS Utah (BB-31) until December 1921. Abele entered the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1922, and graduated with a commission as an Ensign on June 3, 1926. His first assignment after graduation was as a gunnery officer aboard the battleship USS Colorado (BB-45) from June 1926 to January 1927, followed by service with the Marine Division in Nicaragua from January 1927 to December 1928. LT Abele next completed submarine training at the Submarine School at New London, Connecticut, in December 1929. His first submarine assignment was aboard the USS S-23 (SS-128) from December 1929 to April 1933, followed by service in the Office of the Bureau of Navigation in Washington, D.C., from April 1933 to June 1936. His next assignment was aboard the USS R-11 (SS-88) from June 1936 to January 1937, before taking command of the USS R-13 (SS-90) in February 1937. LCDR Abele then served as Commanding Officer of the submarine USS S-31 (SS-136), followed by service as Commanding Officer of the submarine USS Grunion (SS-216) from her commissioning on April 11, 1942, until he was killed in action during a confrontation with the armed Japanese freighter Kano Maru on July 30, 1942. On August 22, 2007, a search team organized by the three sons of CDR Abele used a remotely operated vehicle to find a sunken vessel 3,000 feet down in the Bering Sea north of Kiska Island at the tip of the Aleutian Islands. On October 1, 2008, the U.S. Navy announced that the sunken vessel is the World War II submarine USS Grunion (SS-216).

His Navy Cross Citation reads:

For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. GRUNION (SS-216), during its FIRST War Patrol, in Alaskan Waters. Lieutenant Commander Abele conducted an aggressive and successful submarine war patrol from 30 June 1942 to 24 July 1942. He pressed home all attacks in such a skillful and resolute manner that he attacked and sank in one day, three enemy destroyers of the Towlekju Class. Despite severe anti-submarine measures, Lieutenant Commander Abele brought his ship safely through these counter attacks but was subsequently lost from an unknown cause. His courage and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.



#neverforget: Trooper David Brinkerhoff, EOW April 25, 2007


Trooper David Brinkerhoff was accidentally shot and killed by another officer during an intense gun battle while taking part in a manhunt for an assailant who had shot and wounded a New York State Trooper the previous day.

On April 24, 2007, a New York State Trooper stopped a stolen vehicle at the Sunoco Country Store located on Main Street in Margaretville. As he approached the vehicle, the suspect opened fire, striking the trooper on his vest, and then fleeing into the woods. Members of the New York State Police, Delaware County Sheriff’s Department, and several other surrounding agencies mobilized to search for the suspect.

The following day, Trooper Brinkerhoff and six members of the Mobile Response Team were searching for the suspect in a home on Cemetery Road in Margaretville after a burglar alarm signal was received by local police. Trooper Brinkerhoff and another trooper entered a room on the second floor of the home when the suspect opened fire, striking him in the chest. That round was deflected by his bullet resistant vest. An intense, close quarters, gun battle ensued between the suspect and four troopers. During that exchange of gunfire, one trooper was wounded by the suspect and Trooper Brinkerhoff was accidentally shot and killed by another trooper. The remaining troopers pulled their fellow officers to safety and withdrew from the house.

Police surrounded the home and after a nine and a half hour standoff police again approached the home, firing tear gas. As they gained entry, the house began to burn, and within minutes was fully engulfed in flames. Police were unable to gain entry into the home due to the fire. After extinguishing the fire, officers found that the suspect has been fatally wounded by Trooper Brinkerhoff in the earlier gun battle and had died.

Trooper Brinkerhoff had served with the New York State Police for 8 1/2 years. He is survived by his wife and seven month old daughter. He was assigned to the Mobile Response Team.


#neverforget: PO Daryl Anthony Hall, EOW: April 24, 2011


Police Officer Daryl Hall was shot and killed when he confronted two gunmen outside a nightclub on South Fourth Street at approximately 2:45 am.

Officer Hall was at the nightclub when he heard gunshots outside. When he went outside to investigate he encountered at least one gunman. Shots were exchanged between the officer and the gunman in which the officer was struck three times. He was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his wounds a short time later.

One of the gunmen was also killed during the shooting and the second gunman remains at large.

Officer Hall had served with the St. Louis Police Department for five years and was assigned to the Housing Authority Unit.

Alvin York

#imnohero: Alvin C. York, USA, Medal of Honor


Alvin York was born on December 13, 1887, in Pall Mall, Tennessee. He was drafted into the U.S. Army on June 5, 1917, and was assigned to Company G, 328th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Infantry Division at Camp Gordon, Georgia. He served in France during World War I, and was later awarded the Medal of Honor for actions during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on October 8, 1918. After serving with occupation forces, he returned to the United States on May 29, 1919, and received an honorable discharge from the Army. Between the World Wars, Alvin founded the Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute in Jamestown, Tennessee. He tried to re-enlist in the Infantry at the beginning of World War II, but was turned down due to his age. He then helped create the Tennessee State Guard and served as Commanding Officer of the 7th Infantry Regiment in Tennessee during the war. He married Gracie Williams on June 7, 1919, shortly after returning from Europe after World War I, and they had seven children together. Alvin York died at the Veterans Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 2, 1964, and was buried at the Wolf River Cemetery in Pall Mall, Tennessee.

His Medal of Honor Citation reads:

After his platoon had suffered heavy casualties and 3 other noncommissioned officers had become casualties, Cpl. York assumed command. Fearlessly leading 7 men, he charged with great daring a machinegun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In this heroic feat the machinegun nest was taken, together with 4 officers and 128 men and several guns.


#imnohero: Gerald Young, USAF, Medal of Honor


Gerald Young was born on May 19, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on May 24, 1947, and was trained as an Aviation Electrician’s Mate. Young received an honorable discharge from the Navy on February 29, 1952, but re-enlisted in the Navy on August 6, 1955, serving until July 15, 1956, when he was accepted into the U.S. Air Force Aviation Cadet program. Young was commissioned a 2Lt and awarded his pilot wings on January 18, 1958. After helicopter training, Lt Young’s first assignment was as a helicopter pilot where he flew missions in support of the atomic tests being conducted in the Marshall Islands from July to December 1958. He served in Japan from December 1958 to January 1960, and after further training he was assigned to the 566th Strategic Missile Squadron at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming. From June 1962 to November 1963, Young served with the 96th Strategic Aerospace Wing at Dyess AFB, Texas. He then transferred to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, where he served until October 1965. Young next flew with the 381st Strategic Missile Wing at McConnell AFB, Kansas, from October 1965 to August 1967, when he was sent to Southeast Asia to fly with the 37th Aerospace Rescue & Recovery Squadron out of Da Nang AB, Republic of Vietnam. Capt Young was seriously injured during a rescue attempt in November 1967, during a mission in which he would later be awarded the Medal of Honor. After returning from Vietnam in November 1967 and three months of hospitalization, Capt Young was assigned to the 3637th Flying Training Squadron at Sheppard AFB, Texas, where he served from February 1968 to August 1969. He then served with the 3253rd PTSq at Peterson Field, Colorado, from August 1969 to February 1971, when he was assigned to the 42nd Aerospace Rescue & Recovery Squadron at Fairchild AFB, Washington. Major Young went to Panama in December 1972 to help the Panamanian Air Force establish a rescue program. He then served at Andrews AFB, Maryland, where he completed his B.A. degree at the University of Maryland. He next served as air attache to Colombia before serving as the Assistant Chief, Combat Plans, for the 507th Tactical Air Control Center Squadron at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, from December 1979 until his retirement from the Air Force on June 30, 1980. Col Young wears Command Pilot Wings and accumulated over 3,000 flying hours in helicopters during his Air Force career. He also flew 60 combat missions in the HH-3E “Jolly Green Giant” during the Vietnam War. LtCol Gerald O. Young died of a brain tumor on June 6, 1990. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

His Medal of Honor Citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. Young distinguished himself while serving as a helicopter rescue crew commander. Capt. Young was flying escort for another helicopter attempting the night rescue of an Army ground reconnaissance team in imminent danger of death or capture. Previous attempts had resulted in the loss of 2 helicopters to hostile ground fire. The endangered team was positioned on the side of a steep slope which required unusual airmanship on the part of Capt. Young to effect pickup. Heavy automatic weapons fire from the surrounding enemy severely damaged 1 rescue helicopter, but it was able to extract 3 of the team. The commander of this aircraft recommended to Capt. Young that further rescue attempts be abandoned because it was not possible to suppress the concentrated fire from enemy automatic weapons. With full knowledge of the danger involved, and the fact that supporting helicopter gunships were low on fuel and ordnance, Capt. Young hovered under intense fire until the remaining survivors were aboard. As he maneuvered the aircraft for takeoff, the enemy appeared at point-blank range and raked the aircraft with automatic weapons fire. The aircraft crashed, inverted, and burst into flames. Capt. Young escaped through a window of the burning aircraft. Disregarding serious burns, Capt. Young aided one of the wounded men and attempted to lead the hostile forces away from his position. Later, despite intense pain from his burns, he declined to accept rescue because he had observed hostile forces setting up automatic weapons positions to entrap any rescue aircraft. For more than 17 hours he evaded the enemy until rescue aircraft could be brought into the area. Through his extraordinary heroism, aggressiveness, and concern for his fellow man, Capt. Young reflected the highest credit upon himself, the U.S. Air Force, and the Armed Forces of his country.


#imnohero: Jay Zeamer, Jr., USAAF, Medal of Honor


Jay Zeamer was born on July 25, 1918, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He was commissioned a 2d Lt of Infantry in the U.S. Army Reserve through the Army ROTC program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1939, and graduated from MIT and went on active duty beginning in June 1940. After serving for 2 months at Fort Dix, New Jersey, Lt Zeamer resigned his active duty commission to enlist in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Corps on August 2, 1940, earning his pilot wings and commission as a 2d Lt in the U.S. Army Air Corps at Maxwell Field, Alabama, in March 1941. His first assignment was as a B-26 Marauder pilot and flight test engineer with the 22nd Bomb Group and then the 19th Bomb Squadron at Langley Field, Virginia, from March 1941 to December 1941, and then flying anti-submarine patrols out of Muroc Field, California, from December 1941 to January 1942. Lt Zeamer deployed with his unit to Australia in March 1942, and transferred to the 43rd Bomb Group flying B-17 Flying Fortress bombers and serving as an intelligence officer out of New Guinea in September 1942. Capt Zeamer began flying with the 65th Bomb Squadron of the 43rd Bomb Group in New Guinea in April 1943, and he was badly injured during a photographic reconnaissance mission on June 16, 1943, for which he would later be awarded the Medal of Honor. He was hospitalized at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D.C., until September 1944, and then served as a Tactical Field Air Inspector at Mitchel Field, New York, from September 1944 until he was medically retired from the Army Air Forces as a Lieutenant Colonel on January 18, 1945. After the war he completed his master’s degree in aeronautical engineering at MIT in 1946, and then worked in the aerospace industry until his retirement in 1968. Jay Zeamer died on March 22, 2007, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

His Medal of Honor Citation reads:

On 16 June 1943, Maj. Zeamer (then Capt.) volunteered as pilot of a bomber on an important photographic mapping mission covering the formidably defended area in the vicinity of Buka, Solomon Islands. While photographing the Buka airdrome. his crew observed about 20 enemy fighters on the field, many of them taking off. Despite the certainty of a dangerous attack by this strong force, Maj. Zeamer proceeded with his mapping run, even after the enemy attack began. In the ensuing engagement, Maj. Zeamer sustained gunshot wounds in both arms and legs, 1 leg being broken. Despite his injuries, he maneuvered the damaged plane so skillfully that his gunners were able to fight off the enemy during a running fight which lasted 40 minutes. The crew destroyed at least 5 hostile planes, of which Maj. Zeamer himself shot down 1. Although weak from loss of blood, he refused medical aid until the enemy had broken combat. He then turned over the controls, but continued to exercise command despite lapses into unconsciousness, and directed the flight to a base 580 miles away. In this voluntary action, Maj. Zeamer, with superb skill, resolution, and courage, accomplished a mission of great value.

Master Sgt. Henry "Red" Erwin, Medal of Honor recipient. (Courtesy photo)

#imnohero: Red Erwin, USAAF, Medal of Honor

Master Sgt. Henry "Red" Erwin, Medal of Honor recipient. (Courtesy photo)

Red Erwin was born on May 8, 1921, in Adamsville, Alabama. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve on July 27, 1942, and entered the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on February 3, 1943. After being eliminated from pilot training, PFC Erwin was assigned to the 603rd Training Group at St Petersburg, Florida, from June to July 1943, and then to the 305th Technical School at Keesler Field, Mississippi. He then completed the Radio Operator and Mechanic School at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in February 1944, followed by advanced training at Truax Field, Wisconsin, in April 1944. His next assignment was as a B-29 Superfortress radio operator with the 52nd Bomb Squadron of the 29th Bomb Group at Dalhart, Texas, from April 1944 to February 1945, and then deployed to the Pacific Theater from February 1945 until he was badly injured while flying his 11th combat mission aboard the B-29 “City of Los Angeles” on April 12, 1945, during a mission in which he would later be awarded the Medal of Honor. After undergoing many surgeries for his burns, he received an honorable discharge on October 8, 1947. He and his wife Betty were married on December 6, 1944, and had one son and three daughters together-Hank, Bette, Nancy, and Karen; as well as eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Red Erwin served with the Veterans Administration for over 30 years after leaving active duty, and died on January 16, 2002. He was buried at the Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham, Alabama. His son, Hank Erwin, has served as an Alabama state senator since 2002.

His Medal of Honor Citation reads:

He was the radio operator of a B-29 airplane leading a group formation to attack Koriyama, Japan. He was charged with the additional duty of dropping phosphoresce smoke bombs to aid in assembling the group when the launching point was reached. Upon entering the assembly area, aircraft fire and enemy fighter opposition was encountered. Among the phosphoresce bombs launched by S/Sgt. Erwin, 1 proved faulty, exploding in the launching chute, and shot back into the interior of the aircraft, striking him in the face. The burning phosphoresce obliterated his nose and completely blinded him. Smoke filled the plane, obscuring the vision of the pilot. S/Sgt. Erwin realized that the aircraft and crew would be lost if the burning bomb remained in the plane. Without regard for his own safety, he picked it up and feeling his way, instinctively, crawled around the gun turret and headed for the copilot’s window. He found the navigator’s table obstructing his passage. Grasping the burning bomb between his forearm and body, he unleashed the spring lock and raised the table. Struggling through the narrow passage he stumbled forward into the smoke-filled pilot’s compartment. Groping with his burning hands, he located the window and threw the bomb out. Completely aflame, he fell back upon the floor. The smoke cleared, the pilot, at 300 feet, pulled the plane out of its dive. S/Sgt. Erwin’s gallantry and heroism above and beyond the call of duty saved the lives of his comrades.