Categotry Archives: Military

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Otto Guensche

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Categories: Military

Otto Guensche, an aide to Adolf Hitler who burned the Nazi dictator’s body, died on Oct. 2 from heart failure. He was 86.
Guensche joined the Wehrmacht, the armed forces of Germany, and rose to the rank of SS major. He became a member of Hitler’s inner circle and spent the last hours with the Nazi leader in the Fuehrer bunker in Berlin. On April 30, 1945, Hitler and his companion, Eva Braun, committed suicide. Their bodies were placed in the garden of the Reich chancellery and burned. Guensche started the fire.
After World War II ended, Guensche was captured by Red Army troops and spent several years in Soviet captivity. He lived the rest of his life as a successful businessman in West Germany.

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Yod Sangrungruang

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Categories: Military

Yod Sangrungruang, Thailand’s last World War I veteran, died on Oct. 9 from natural causes. He was 106.
Sangrungruang was conscripted into the Thai army when he was 20 years old. He volunteered to fight with Allied forces in France during World War I and served for 15 months.
The “Good Man of Phitsanulok” returned to Thailand in 1919 as the sole surviving member of the 1,284 Thai soldiers who fought in Europe as part of the Royal Thai Expeditionary Force. He received a medal from King Rama V then returned to Phitsanulok where he was elected village leader.
Eighty years after he left the service, Yod was given an honorary promotion to the rank of second lieutenant. In 1999, he became the first Thai to receive the Legion d’Honneur, the highest decoration given by the French government.
Sangrungruang is survived by his wife, Somporn, 101, and eight of their nine children.

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Ian William Gore-Langton

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Categories: Military

Colonel Ian William Gore-Langton, the former commander of the Coldstream Guards, died. Cause of death and the exact day of his departure were not released. He was 89.
Gore-Langton was educated at Eton. He joined the British Army’s Coldstream Guards in 1934 and was sent to India to serve the Governor of Bengal.
During World War II, Gore-Langton fought with the 3rd Battalion in the North African campaign. At the Battle of Salerno, his troops were bombed for two and a half hours as they tried to embark and take the nearby airfield. Gore-Langton was severely wounded, and because medical supplies were low, his right arm was amputated without the aid of anesthetics.
The military tried to send him home, but Gore-Langton refused to leave the fray. Instead, he returned to the battlefield as soon as he could stand and fight. He was awarded a Member of the British Empire (MBE) honor for his bravery.
The “One-Armed Bandit” didn’t let the handicap keep him from having a full military career. From 1950 to 1953, he commanded the 3rd Battalion. He served in Cyprus as the regimental lieutenant-colonel and was responsible for organizing the departure of the terrorist leader, Colonel Grivas.
Gore-Langton served as the commandant of the School of Infantry in Warminster before retiring from the Army in 1962. He spent the rest of his life fishing, hunting, painting and running an art gallery.

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Norman Hoffman

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Categories: Military

Norman Hoffman, a champion skydiver, died on Sept. 22 from stomach cancer. He was 79.

Born in Dublin, Hoffman grew up with a keen interest in athletics. By the time he was 20, he had already competed in more than 400 Greco-Roman wrestling matches.

In 1948, Hoffman moved to Britain and joined The Royal Air Force. The RAF taught him how to skydive and he immediately began competing against other skydiving teams. In 1959, he perfected a freefalling method and became a British champion.

Hoffman set a number of altitude records (his highest drop was from 35,000 ft.), and developed a mechanism to help paratroopers grab their weapons before hitting the ground. The system is still used by RAF paratroopers today. In 1965, he set up a parachute school for the Kenyan Army. During an air display, his parachute failed to open and he fell 5,000 ft. to the ground. Although he fractured his spine in three places and broke his sternum, Hoffman returned to skydiving five months later.

He spent the early 1970s working as a flight sergeant and instructor in England and testing parachuting equipment for the Joint Air Transport Establishment. For training skydivers in the armed forces, Hoffman received a British Empire Medal. His son, Paul, has also written a book and a screenplay based on his life.

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Sid McMath

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Categories: Law, Military, Politicians

Sidney S. McMath, the former governor of Arkansas, died on Oct. 4. Cause of death was not released. He was 91.
McMath graduated from the University of Arkansas with a law degree in 1936. During World War II, he served with the Marines in the South Pacific, where he achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Upon his return to the states, McMath began a career in public service. He became a prosecuting attorney in 1946 and was elected governor two years later. Although he modernized the state’s roadways and extended electricity access, the Democratic leader was dogged by a scandal in the state Highway Department. He was never directly linked to any wrongdoing, but three members of his administration were indicted, then acquitted.
Leland F. Leatherman and Henry Woods co-founded a Little Rock law practice with McMath after his final term as governor ended. McMath published his autobiography, “Promises Kept,” this year.

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