Joseph Ambrose, an 86-year-old World War I veteran, watches the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He is holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who was killed in the Korean War, 11/13/1982
Remembering the sacrifices made by veterans of all generations on Veterans Day.
Sgt. Thomas Shaw: Buffalo Soldier & Medal of Honor Recipient
Did you know Thomas Shaw, the subject of yesterday’s post, was a Buffalo Soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, and is interred at Arlington National Cemetery?
This record, dated September 26, 1871, is the Oath of Enlistment and Allegiance of Thomas Shaw, who, at the age of 25 re-enlisted to extend his service in the U.S. Army. The enlisting official certifies that Mr. Shaw was “entirely sober” when he enlisted and “duly qualified” to perform the duties required of him in the Army.
Oath of Enlistment and Allegiance for Thomas Shaw, 9/26/1871
From the Records of the Adjutant General’s Office
POW/MIA Recognition Day
"A returnee looks through the window aboard a C-141 Starlifter aircraft. The aircraft is being used to evacuate prisoners of war to Clark Air Base, Republic of the Philippines, 01/01/1973"
Established by an Act of Congress, POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the 3rd Friday in September in honor of prisoners of war and those still missing in action.
POWs (recently repatriated in the UN POW exchange) pose for a group photograph with their flight nurses at Tachikawa Air Base, Japan. 09/05/1953. They are proudly displaying the American flag which was hand made by them during their long imprisonment at a Communist POW camp. Officer shown kneeling in front of the group is identified as Maj. David F. Macghee, 137 El Central St., Moorestown, N.J. Maj. Macghee, a B-29 pilot of the 371st Bomb Sqd., was captured on 10 November 1950 after his plane was shot down by flak and MIGs. His B-29 was the first B-29 to be shot down in the Korean conflict.
Honoring her husband’s service
This certificate authorizes pension payments of 8 dollars per month to Helena Potter. Helena was the widow of Civil War veteran Private Warren Potter, Company D, 156th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry. Helena’s payments were to begin August 8, 1893, and “continue during her widowhood.”
From the Widow’s Pension File of Helena Potter from the Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs
Purple Heart Day
On August 7, 1782, General George Washington ordered the creation of
the Badge of Military Merit, the predecessor to the Purple Heart.
"Adam T. Raczhowski, 89, receives the Purple Heart from Secretary of the Army John O. Marsh Jr. nearly 66 years after he was hospitalized following a gas attack on his unit, the 2nd Battalion, 308th Infantry, 77th Division, on August 18, 1918, in the Vesle Sector near Chateau Thierry, France. Raczkowski did not realize the Purple Heart was authorized for gassing as well as flesh wounds. With him are his wife Anna and Representative Nancy L. Johnson, Republican-Connecticut, 03/21/1984"
Decoration Day, 05/30/1911
Did you know that Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day? Shortly after the Civil War, a group of Union veterans called for a day to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers on May 30. The date was perhaps selected because flowers were in bloom all across the U.S. by late May.
In 1888, Congress declared Decoration Day a federal holiday in the District of Columbia so that veterans in federal employ could honor their fallen comrades and not lose a day’s pay. Decoration Day gradually became known as Memorial Day as the holiday expanded to commemorate veterans of all wars.
In 1968, Congress passed a law that named and moved several federal holidays. Included in H.R. 15951 was the official declaration of Memorial Day as a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday of May.
“Scott Levins, the Director of the National Personnel Records Center, recently received a letter of thanks from the folks at JPAC, mentioning the names of 32 men missing since the Korean War who had been identified, thanks to the efforts of this center, and could now be sent home for burial.
Some of the names listed were the names of young men whose records I had processed.
Sometimes, I take a quick look at the ages of the men and women whose records I am working on. I realize that most of them are less than half my age. I’ve had a good life so far. Sometimes, their lives ended just when it should have been beginning.”
—excerpt from Why I Do What I Do, by Michael Pierce, preservation technician at the National Archives at Saint Louis.
Our mission is to preserve, protect, and make available the records of the Federal government, and this includes the millions of files of veterans, living and deceased.These records are housed at the National Personnel Center in St. Louis, and can be accessed by veterans to received benefits, or by families and researchers.
To learn more about these records, watch this video.
Image: A grief-stricken American infantryman whose buddy has been killed in action is comforted by another soldier. In the background a corpsman methodically fills out casualty tags, Haktong-ni area, Korea. August 28, 1950. Sfc. Al Chang. (Army, 111-SC-347803)
POW Week at the Nixon Library
A sheriff-led motorcade will escort Vietnam POWs to the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California at 12:30PM PT. Their arrival at the Library coincides with the 40th anniversary of President Nixon’s POW homecoming dinner at the White House.
An All-American Homecoming is a new exhibit at the Nixon Library about the POWs visit to the White House. The event occurred on May 24, 1973, and it remains the largest dinner ever held at the White House. This week, the Nixon Foundation is hosting a series of events to celebrate the POWs.
Tomorrow evening, on the anniversary of the original White House homecoming, the Foundation will hold a reunion dinner for the POWs in the Nixon Library’s “East Room.” The original menu will be recreated, including American comfort foods like sirloin steak and potatoes.
Learn more about POW Week at the Nixon Library through the Nixon Foundation.
Photo: Entertainers sing “God Bless America” to the returned POW troops at the White House. From L-R: Phyllis Diller, Former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley, actress Joey Heatherton, President Nixon, Songwriter Irving Berlin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Pat Nixon and Comedian Bob Hope. 5/24/73.
From May 22 to 31, the digital collection of the USCT Service Records will be free on www.Fold3.com.
On May 22, 1863, the War Department issued General Orders 143, establishing a Bureau of Colored Troops in the Adjutant General’s Office to recruit and organize African American soldiers to fight for the Union Army. With this order, all African American regiments were designated as United States Colored Troops (USCT).
Today marks the 150th anniversary of the USCT, and the National Archives is pleased to announce the completion of the USCT Service Records Digitization Project. In partnership with Fold3, the project provides online access to all service records—more than 3.8 million images—of Union volunteers in USCT units.
Remember: All National Archives collections on Fold3.com can always be viewed for free at a computer at any National Archives facility nationwide.
The photo and paperwork above come from the compiled military service records of former slave Edmund Delaney. Read his story on the Prologue blog.
“…when the attack was made on the City of Washington and on the City of Baltimore, the citizen soldiers were in service without pay or rations, several months in each of the years 1812-1813 and 1814. And it is for the consideration of those service that your memorialists think they are entitled to 160 acres of Land each.”
Memorial of the “Association of Defenders of Baltimore in 1814” for a grant of 160 acres per man as remuneration for services in the war, 02/17/1853
Circular Letter Setting Out Requirements for Proper Measures to Secure the Identification of Soldiers Dying in Hospital Under Their Charge, 01/29/1863