Categotry Archives: Military


Michael Griswold

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Categories: Military, Misc.

Most sailors use electronic compasses and global positioning systems to guide a boat in the right direction. Michael Bernard Griswold used the stars.
Griswold’s insatiable wanderlust led him to enlist in the Navy right out of high school. He was stationed in Alaska until 1954, then moved to Southern California to earn a computer science degree from San Diego State College.
Over the next 30 years, he married, raised a family and worked at the Department of Defense as a civil servant. In his spare time, Griswold coached the Ocean Beach Little League and volunteered as a counselor for troubled teens.
In the mid-1980s, Griswold retired and went through a divorce. With extra time on his hands, he renewed his interest in oceanic travel and studied celestial navigation. He bought the Aeolus, a 28-foot ketch named after the Greek god of winds, and sailed to Hawaii, Samoa and around the Sea of Cortez — using only the stars as his guide.
Griswold died at the end of July from emphysema. He was 70.


Jocelyn Moore Evernham

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Categories: Military

When the U.S. military published want ads seeking female pilots in 1942, Jocelyn Moore Evernham answered the call.
Evernham was already taking flying lessons in Fort Worth, Texas, when she noticed Uncle Sam’s ad in the newspaper and immediately signed up. Out of more than 25,000 women, Evernham was one of only 1,074 who became Women Airforce Service Pilots.
After six months of training, Evernham reported to Gardner Field in California. Because women were not allowed to fly into battle, Evernham conducted test flights and transported military personnel to U.S. bases. She logged more than 260 flight hours piloting AT-6s, B-26Cs, BT-13s, PT-19s and UC-78s.
When the WASPs were deactivated in 1944, Evernham gave up flying and worked for the San Diego Unified School District. Fifty-three years later, Congress finally recognized the efforts of women in the military and extended veterans’ benefits to them.
The National Veterans’ Oral History Project videotaped Evernham’s story for posterity. Her memoirs will be completed by her daughter Lorraine, who is also a pilot.
Evernham died in July from complications of cancer. She was 91.


Foday Sankoh


Categories: Criminals, Military

fsankoh.jpgFoday Saybana Sankoh, the rebel leader who instigated a decade of civil war in Sierra Leone, died on July 29 from natural causes. He was 65.
Sankoh joined the British colonial army in 1956, and reached the rank of corporal. In 1971, he was dismissed for taking part in an attempted coup against Sierra Leone president Siaka Stevens. Sankoh served seven years in prison for his part in the insurgence, then went to Libya to train in the guerrilla camps with a group of exiles.
There Sankoh formed an alliance with Charles Taylor, a rebel leader who later seized control of Liberia. With Taylor’s backing, Sankoh returned to Sierra Leone and created an army known as the Revolutionary United Front. In 1991, Sankoh claimed ownership over the country’s diamond mines, and ordered the RUF to start a civil war. He offered his soldiers diamonds as payment for hacking off the limbs of civilians with machetes and raping tens of thousands of girls and women. Over the next decade, 50,000 people would be killed in the conflict.
In 2000, Sankoh was captured outside his Freetown home by pro-government troops, and the RUF was disbanded. During his appearance at the United Nations-backed war tribunal in March, Sankoh called himself a “living god.” He was charged with 17 counts of murder, rape, sexual slavery and extermination.


John Houlihan

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Categories: Heroes, Military, Politicians

John J. Houlihan, a war hero who became the first director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, died on July 24 of lung cancer. He was 80.
Upon graduating from high school in 1941, Houlihan enlisted in the Marines. He fought in the Battle of Midway and Guadalcanal, and was wounded by artillery fire in Bougainville. A big shell exploded, killing and injuring a dozen Marines; Houlihan’s left leg was amputated in the blast. His service during World War II earned him a Purple Heart, the Marine Corps Medal and the Asian Pacific Medal with three Bronze Stars.
When he returned to the states, Houlihan earned a degree in business and accounting at DePaul University, and took a job with the Cook County clerk’s office.
In 1965, he was elected to the state legislature as a Democrat. He served four terms, ran two failed campaigns for Congress, then became the first appointed director of veterans affairs in Illinois.
He also spent several years with the Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C., where he worked directly for President Ronald Reagan as the V.A. representative who handled benefits supplied to the Marines injured in Beirut. Before he became too ill to work, Houlihan supervised the Cook County Veteran’s Assistance Commission.


Robert Thorne

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Categories: Medicine, Military

Dr. Robert Leslie Thorne, the youngest member of the Tuskegee Airmen, died on July 13 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 78.
Thorne was 17 when he enlisted in the Air Force in 1943. Because of his race, the military put him in the Alabama-based Tuskegee Airmen, the pioneering unit that shattered racial misconceptions about the quality of black pilots. Thorne qualified as a bombardier and a navigator; he had just completed his training to become a fighter pilot when World War II ended.
After the war, Thorne applied to the University of Michigan dental school under the G.I. Bill, but was turned down because the school had already reached its racial quota. Undeterred, Thorne applied to the New York University dental school and was accepted.
He spent 40 years in private practice as a dentist in Harlem, and often volunteered his services to the children of New York City.

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