Tag: Marines

Retired Marine John Canley to Receive Medal of Honor 50 years after his Heroics During Vietnam War

Retired Sgt. Major John Canley (photo via stripes.com)

via stripes.com

A Marine credited with saving the lives of countless members of his company during one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War will receive the Medal of Honor, thanks to the efforts of a congresswoman and a group of Marines who witnessed his heroics.

Retired Sgt. Maj. John Canley, who lives in the coastal community of Oxnard, California, will receive the nation’s highest military honor. An official announcement from the White House is expected once a date for the presentation is confirmed. Canley initially received the Navy Cross, as well as two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, for his actions overseas.

According to his Navy Cross citation, Canley — then a gunnery sergeant with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines — displayed extraordinary leadership and selflessness during the Battle of Hue in early 1968.

After his company’s commander was seriously wounded, Canley sprang into action and immediately took control of his fellow Marines. Over the course of the weeklong siege, Canley successfully neutralized enemy combatants and brought injured Marines to safety, despite sustaining several shrapnel injuries. “Gunnery Sergeant Canley lent words of encouragement to his men,” the citation reads. “And [he] exhorted them to greater efforts as they drove the enemy from its fortified emplacement.”

John Ligato, one of the Marines who fought alongside Canley in Vietnam, called him “totally fearless.” “You followed him because he was a true leader — something you need in life-and-death situations.”

Canley’s road to the Medal of Honor was a long one, requiring the intervention of several dedicated Marines and Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif. Ligato and his fellow 1st Battalion Marines spent nearly 15 years pushing for Canley to be recognized with the honor, only to see the effort met with more than 10 rejections.

“There were times I gave up,” Ligato told military.com. “But the irony is he’s one of the most deserved Medal of Honor recipients ever in the history of our country.”

In 2014, one of the Marines reached out to Brownley, who represents Canley’s district, and it was with her help that the Department of Defense offered to review the recommendation to upgrade Canley’s Navy Cross.

“Sergeant Major Canley truly exemplifies the kind of courage and bravery for which this honor is awarded,” Brownley said in a written statement. “He is a true American hero and a shining example of the kind of gallantry and humility that makes our Armed Forces the best military in the world.”

To read more: https://www.stripes.com/news/us/marine-to-receive-medal-of-honor-50-years-after-battle-of-hue-heroics-1.538583

U.S. Navy Finally Joins Army, Air Force and Marines in Lifting Ban on Dreadlocks for Women

Petty Officer 1st Class Jacqualynn Leak hid her locs under a wig for years before fighting to lift the Navy’s dreadlocks ban. (PHOTO COURTESY OF JACQUALYNN LEAK)

by Kenya Downs via huffingtonpost.com

The United States Navy is joining the Marines, Army and Air Force in ending its ban on dreadlocks for female sailors. The naval branch announced the reversal Tuesday in a live broadcast on its Facebook page.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson says the change won’t just make the Navy more formidable, but also more inclusive.

The Navy enlisted a six-person working group to recommend changes to grooming standards, based on feedback from their peers. As part of the decision, ponytails, buns and other styles will also be permissible for women in uniform so long as they don’t interfere with a sailor’s operational or safety needs. Male sailors are still required to keep their hair short.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jacqualynn Leak, a member of the working group, has worn dreadlocks since 2014. She led efforts to reverse the ban and says her fight involved years of research on the cultural and health aspects of wearing locs. She also surveyed dozens of female sailors affected by the ban.

“I wanted to make an argument so compelling that every reason my chain of command could give me for why dreadlocks were banned could easily be rebutted with facts,” she said.

Before, Leak opted to cover her shoulder-length dreadlocks by wearing a wig, which she says became more difficult as her hair grew. Options were even more limited for other female sailors. Some were forced to choose between cutting off their dreadlocks in favor of chemically straightened hair, or facing harsh punishment.

In 2014, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jessica Sims, a hospital corpsman, was honorably discharged for refusing to cut off locs she’d worn in a tight-knit bun for over a decade.

While challenges to military rules on hairstyles aren’t new, controversy surrounding black hair reached a peak around the time of Sims’ discharge. As word spread, revisions to Army grooming regulations were leaked, revealing proposed changes to ban hairstyles common among women of color. The proposed policy, called AR 670-1, would have banned all natural hairstyles, including twists, braids, cornrows and Afros.

Many criticized the regulations as specifically targeting black women. Once it had been made public, the policy faced immediate backlash, culminating in an open letter from the Congressional Black Caucus and an official review ordered by the Pentagon. The decision was ultimately reversed.

But that reversal didn’t include dreadlocks. First Lt. Whennah Andrews of the U.S. Army National Guard has been fighting for servicewomen’s right to wear them ever since. Together with fellow soldiers, Andrews began a campaign to challenge misconceptions many within the military have about dreadlocks’ cleanliness, cultural relevance and ease of use.

Leak enlisted Andrews for guidance when deciding to take on the Navy. Andrews says the Navy’s announcement is the final triumph signaling a victory for military diversity.

“When news broke that the Army lifted the ban on locs, I thought to myself, ‘It’s not a complete win until all of the branches authorize them,’” she said. “The unique challenges African-American servicewomen faced with trying to adhere to grooming policies were universal across the Department of Defense.”

This week’s decision makes the Navy the last branch of the military to drop grooming regulations that prohibit dreadlocks. The Marines first approved locs for women in 2015, and the Air Force announced late last year that dreadlocks would become an approved hairstyle after a review by its uniform board. The Army authorized dreadlocks for women earlier this year after having previously banned them since 2005.

R.I.P. Frank E. Petersen, 83, 1st Black Pilot and General in the U.S. Marines Corps

Frank Petersen (photo via nytimes.com)
Frank Petersen (photo via nytimes.com)

General Frank Petersen, the U.S. Marines’ first Black pilot and general, has died at age 83.

Hoping to escape pervasive racism in his Kansas hometown, General Frank Petersen joined the U.S. Navy in 1950 as a seaman apprentice, reports The Boston Globe.

The following year, motivated by the death of the Navy’s first Black aviator Jesse Brown in the Korean War, Petersen entered the Naval Aviation Cadet Program, the report says. From there, he went on to make history himself, earning a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in Vietnam “when he was ejected after his plane was struck by anti-aircraft fire over the demilitarized zone” in 1968.

He died Tuesday at his home in Stevensville, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The cause was complications from lung cancer, according to The Globe:

President Harry S. Truman had ordered the armed forces to desegregate in 1948, but General Petersen later wrote that the Navy and Marine Corps were ‘‘the last to even entertain the idea of integrating their forces.’’ And whenever he left the flight training base in Pensacola, Fla., he was subjected to the indignities of the Jim Crow South.

Bus drivers ordered him to the back of the coach, and he was barred from sitting with white cadets in restaurants and movie theaters. He largely swallowed the treatment, he later told The Washington Post, because he could not fight two battles at once. ‘‘I knew that I couldn’t win if I were to tackle that, as opposed to getting my wings,’’ he said.

One instructor tried to minimize his performance in the air — giving him lackluster ratings — but he said white peers came to his defense. Upon completion of his flight training, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He flew 64 combat missions in Korea in 1953 and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, among other decorations.

Besides his wife, Alicia Downes, of Stevensville, Maryland and Washington, he leaves behind four children from his first marriage, a brother, a sister, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Rest in peace and thank you, Gen. Petersen.

article by Lynette Holloway via newsone.com