HONORING OUR VETERANS

By Paul Morgan, director, University of Utah Veterans Support Center

As part of the event, you will hear several cannon shots from outside the Union Building: Three at approximately 9 a.m., one at 11 a.m., and 21 around noon.

For a complete list of honors and events, visit veteransday.utah.edu.

The University of Utah will honor 11 Utah veterans at its 21st annual Veterans Day commemoration ceremony, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, in the A. Ray Olpin Union building ballroom. The annual tribute is part of a series of events throughout the week, including a panel discussion, a film screening, full dress military ceremony and a Veterans Day football game.

This Veterans Day, Nov. 11, marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.  In collaboration with the Fort Douglas Museum, the Union will display artifacts from World War I all month, including items honoring U students who died in the war.

A film about World War II code-breakers, “The Imitation Game,” will be shown at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 6, in the Fort Douglas Post Theatre.  A panel discussion, “U.S. Military Impact on Cybersecurity” will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 7, from 12-1 p.m., in the Hinckley Institute Caucus Room of the Gardner Commons building.

The annual commemoration will be held on Friday, Nov. 9, at 11 a.m. It will be preceded by a bagpipe procession from the Marriott Library to the Union at 10:30 a.m. Nominations came from across the state, and the 11 veterans chosen to be honored will each receive a commemorative medallion onstage at the ceremony. The ceremony will conclude with a 21-cannon salute by the Utah Army National Guard around noon. In addition to the 11 honorees, Sharlene Wells Hawkes will receive the Dr. Rick Randle Award for meritorious service to Utah veterans.

The following veterans will be honored:

  • Harold R. Alston, Air Force Pilot, Vietnam
  • Raymond E. Brim, Air Force Pilot, World War II
  • Kevin M. Brown, Army/UT ARNG Special Forces Infantry Officer, Afghanistan, Philippines, Africa
  • TJ Eaton, Air Force Pilot, Afghanistan
  • Richard S. Lund, Army Pilot, Vietnam
  • Ronald J. Madsen, UT ARNG Special Forces Infantry, Iraq, Afghanistan
  • Keith E. Mauerman, Army Infantry, Vietnam
  • Christopher M. Rowley, Marine Corps Infantry, Afghanistan
  • Richard Van Allen, Air Force Pilot, Vietnam
  • “Jack” Whipple, Army Air Corps Pilot, World War II
  • Carl J. Workman, Army Mortar Crewman, World War II

The week will conclude with a Veterans Day football game against Oregon at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 10. During the game, Craig Hanson, a biology major and former Navy Corpsman, will be recognized as the 2018-19 Student Veteran of the Year.

Tickets are required for the football game, but all other events are free and open to the public.

Click through the slideshow below for more information on the 2018 honorees.

Harold Alston
Utah Air National Guard/Air Force
Vietnam/Thailand

Lieutenant Colonel Harold Alston’s 28-year career in the Air Force began when a friend encouraged him to join the Utah Air National Guard at the age of 18. He went to flight school and returned to fly the F-86, while starting a family and finishing studies at the University of Utah. His experiences in “the Guard” encouraged him to join the active Air Force and eventually led to combat deployments in Vietnam War—the first flying from Da Nang, Vietnam and the second out of Udorn, Thailand. He flew the single seat F-104 “Starfighter,” the elite of the Air Force at the time. He logged 136 combat missions, including 100 over North Vietnam. He was the first pilot to do so.

Alston remembers one “hairy” mission he flew alongside fellow pilot John Olson. Within six minutes of hearing that a friendly convoy was under attack along the Cambodian border, Alston and Olson were airborne. When they arrived, a flight of F-100’s was firing rockets and dropping napalm. The two orbited until the F-100s, running low of fuel, turned for home. On the last pass, however, one of the other F-100’s was hit by .50 caliber machine gun fire and started to go down. Alston alerted the distressed pilot that he was streaming fuel. Alston and Olson were left to cover the downed pilot. “Down we went,” Alston remembers, “and immediately hundreds of muzzle flashes lit up the jungle.” In all his time in combat, had never seen so much gunfire. Over the next 45 minutes, in an effort to cover the downed pilot, he and Olson dropped napalm and strafed the area with their Gatling guns. Later, despite an intensive search, the downed pilot was never found. Alston recalls returning to his hooch later that night and talking about what happened. Says Alston, “It was a miracle we were not shot down also.”

Following his combat days, he spent much of his time training U.S. Air Force pilots and others from allied countries. Near the end of his career, he commanded the elite 65th Aggressor Squadron, training Air Force, Navy, and foreign pilots from around the world in aerial combat.

During his career, Lt. Col. Alston earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and 11 Air Medals. Reflecting on his time in the Air Force, he says, “Nowhere except in my Air Force career could I have experienced such a variety of experiences and personal development. I’m grateful to have served and for the support of my family; and being a citizen of the greatest country in the world.”

Raymond E. Brim
Army Air Corps/Air Force
World War II

In his late teens, Colonel Raymond Brim’s summers were spent shoveling ore in the Tintic mine in Dividend, Utah and using the money for classes at the University of Utah.
But the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor changed that. The 19-year-old withdrew from school and enlisted in the Army Air Corps. By 1942, his training complete, he was on standby to be assigned to his combat group in England to fly the B-17 Flying Fortress. But he had another mission first: to marry Patricia, whom he’d met on a blind date. He couldn’t get leave approved, so he had to go AWOL for three days as his crew covered for him. The couple anticipated a small wedding, but the headmistress of Rowland Hall, Patricia’s former high school in Salt Lake, would have none of it. She marched the entire student body three blocks to St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral to attend the ceremony.It was then quickly to England and flying bombing runs over France and Germany, but Brim’s special unit within the 482nd Bomb Group also had a secondary mission. Their planes carried the revolutionary Pathfinder radar guidance system, which enabled pilots to fly through bad weather and accurately bomb targets, instead of waiting for days for clear weather. The crews spent much of their time engineering improvements to the radar systems.After his 25th and final mission and receipt of the Distinguished Flying Cross and four Air Medals, Brim was assigned to train new pilots. He never lost a plane in combat, nor any of his crew members.Brim was discharged in 1945, but in 1947, he accepted a commission in the newly formed U.S. Air Force. He would continue his Air Force career for another 30 years. He helped develop remote piloting of unmanned B-17s, then oversaw their use as airborne research stations flying over atomic explosion test sites to collect data. He pulled duty in the Aleutian Islands, Japan, Germany, and several tours in the Pentagon, and he was a Distinguished Graduate of the Air Force Command and General Staff College. Later, he graduated from the Air War College.Colonel Brim retired in 1975. In addition to the Distinguished Flying Cross and four Air Medals, he earned two Legions of Merit and the Air Force Commendation Medal. Brim says he’s never forgotten the men of his World War II crews, “I probably would not have survived my service in WW II without my flight crew, nine men who were a band of brothers and the maintenance crew that supported us.”

Kevin M. Brown
Army/Utah Army National Guard
Afghanistan/Philippines/Africa

Captain Kevin “KB” Brown was leading Operational Detachment Alpha-923 of the 19th Special Forces Group up a narrow and treacherous Afghan mountain valley. They arrived by truck, by mule, and now on foot. They were making 300 meters an hour. Their mission was to scout a landing zone, assess enemy activity, and root Taliban fighters out of mountain caves. A week later, Brown’s ODA stood guard as planes swooped in delivering over 12,000 pounds of humanitarian aid.

That mission was finished, but Alpha-923 was not. They joined Afghan forces around Jalalabad, protecting the airfield, gathering intelligence, and conducting more than 20 combat operations and countless patrols. Brown had the dicey job of meeting with many village tribal leaders, whose allegiances were not always clear, but he said the Afghan soldiers were “great early warning devices” because they had incredible intuition about impending threats. When ODA-923’s mission was complete, the Taliban’s capabilities in the area were greatly diminished. For his leadership, Brown earned the Bronze Star.

It was quite a journey from graduating high school in Minnesota, enlisting in the Army, completing infantry training, serving with the Army Honor Guard, leaving active duty to ski and go to college in Utah, and qualifying for Special Forces and assignment to the 19th Special Forces Group. And it wasn’t over.

In 2006, then Major Brown was named commander of 150 U.S. soldiers providing special operations assistance to a task force of 7,000 Philippine soldiers targeting a terrorist group with ties to Al Qaeda. Brown assisted the task force in planning and executing over 45 combat operations and 200 re-supply missions in a high tempo environment. Several of their operations resulted in the killing or capture of high value targets.

In 2010, Brown volunteered for another deployment, serving as the Joint Operations Center Future Plans Director for the Special Operations Command and Control Element – Horn of Africa. He led the working group that planned special operations targeting The Lord’s Resistance Army, a vicious group that uses young captives as soldiers and sex slaves and has brutalized people and villages in central Africa for over 30 years.

Major Brown retired in 2014. In addition to the Bronze Star, he received the Joint Commendation Medal, three Army Commendation Medals, and four Army Achievement Medals. Looking back, he said, “The Special Forces motto is ‘De Oppresso Liber’ or ‘To free the oppressed’. I believe this was an underlying principle of all our efforts at the operational and tactical levels.”

T.J. Eaton
Air Force
Afghanistan

“Danger close” describes a situation when U.S. forces on the ground have closed so tightly with the enemy that any air support called on the enemy will also be in dangerously close proximity to friendly forces. This is the situation T.J. Eaton encountered in July 2008 in the Battle of Wanat, Afghanistan, during the largest enemy attack in Afghanistan to that date.  This was his first combat tour, flying B-1 Bombers from a base in Qatar and conducting combat sorties over Afghanistan that typically lasted 12 to 16 hours in the air, with the help of re-fueling tankers.

As the aircraft, call sign Bone 11, closed in on the battle, exhaustive checks we repeatedly performed by flight crew and support units on the ground to ensure the necessity and accuracy of the bombing runs.  This time, an American base was in danger of being overrun by Taliban fighters in a well-coordinated 360-degree attack.  As Eaton closed in, one of four hydraulic systems failed, limiting aircraft maneuverability.  The primary radio failed and the secondary radio failed, causing a cockpit fire that was quickly extinguished and forced the crew to use a low power tertiary radio.  With multiple malfunctions and no other airborne assets capable of providing close air support, Eaton and his crew continued the mission.

With the terrain limiting communications with the ground controller, Eaton skillfully maneuvered the heavily loaded plane around 26,000 foot mountain peaks and over the next several hours, he and his crew employed fifteen 500 and 2000 pound munitions on nine target sets, all under danger close criteria, saving the lives of 62 U.S. ground forces.  To carry out the mission, Eaton had consciously taken the aircraft below the minimum fuel level to safely return to base.  When other attack aircraft arrived, they disengaged, refueled in flight, and started back to base. When a second “troops-in-contact” situation materialized in central Afghanistan on the way home, Eaton and his crew engaged the massed enemy troops and neutralized them with three bombs.

The Bone 11 crew earned the Air Force Association’s General LeMay award as Bomber Crew of the Year.  They received the Single-Sortie Air Medal, which was later upgraded to the Distinguished Flying Cross for courage, devotion to duty, and extraordinary aerial skill under adverse conditions.  Eaton’s other awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, three Air Medals, and three Air Force Commendation Medals.

Eaton finished that deployment and completed three more.  He is now a Lieutenant Colonel with the 419th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base.  Lt. Col. Eaton said, “The bond that develops between those who share combat is unbreakable. It is something that never leaves you.”

Richard Lund
Army
Vietnam

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Richard Lund entered Army basic training in October 1968.  Following basic, it was off to flight school, which he completed with distinction, and then medical essentials training for Army Aviators.

Lund deployed to Vietnam in October 1969 with the 54th Medical Detachment (MD), 61st Medical Battalion. He initially served as a pilot, flying medical evacuation missions, supporting ground troops within his area of operations.  Lund was next promoted to Pilot in Command (PIC), a feat achieved by only 10 other pilots in the 54th MD. When he left the theater of operation in March 1971, he had flown over 725 hours of medevac missions.

A mission for which Lund was PIC provides a classic example of the extraordinary challenges of medical evacuation.  Upon departing his forward operating base on a night mission, his team of two UH-1 Huey helicopters ran into a low cloud ceiling and rain.  Combined with darkness, it severely reduced visibility. The weather conditions also reduced the ability of the choppers to function at optimum levels.  Worse yet, the darkness and weather made it impossible to pinpoint the location of the unit requesting help.  Lund directed the commander on the ground to employ flares. While this gave Lund’s crews the approximate location, it also lit up the helicopters and made them primary targets for ground fire. Up to that point, the enemy had just been firing at the ground unit, but now, the helicopters were taking fire. Lund took the lead and began spiraling his aircraft downward toward the dense jungle canopy. He maintained effective coordination with his crew and slowed into a hover just above the canopy. Using the helicopter’s hoist, his Crew Chief was able to load the casualties.  Despite the increasing accuracy and rate of enemy fire, Lund was undeterred and held his position until the two casualties were safely aboard and the mission was completed. The courageous actions of Lund and his crew resulted in two lives being saved and Lund receipt of the Distinguished Flying Cross – one of two he received in Vietnam.

Of his Army service, CW2 Lund says that he had the greatest admiration for his fellow service members and attributes his achievements to their teamwork.  He said, “I always wanted to do my part. I felt it was my responsibility to do my job to the best of my ability.”  His passion for safety continued after his military service; he spent over 39 years with the Federal Aviation Administration in Air Traffic and Flight Standards.

Ronald Madsen
Utah Army National Guard
Afghanistan

It was a long, arduous, and danger-laden day for Sergeant First Class Ronald Madsen. The special operations Soldier from Honeyville, Utah was part of joint U.S. and Afghan special forces clearing the hotly-defended Mohmand Valley in southern Nangarhar, Afghanistan.  Madsen was the Senior Weapons Sergeant for Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan and was leading a dismounted American element in the operation. They had been receiving relentless enemy fire and resistance for eight hours. But the worst was yet to come.

As darkness began falling, Madsen and his men were preparing a building to occupy for the night. Without warning, there was a devastating explosion inside the building, and over 30 personnel were instantly wounded, and four were ultimately killed.   Sergeant First Class Madsen was hit with the powerful concussive blast and riddled with anti-personnel shrapnel.  Before anyone could reach the safety of any vehicle, ISIS Khorasan (ISIS-K) fighters launched a coordinated attack, seeking to press the advantage created by the explosion.

Recognizing the perilous situation and despite his wounds, Madsen directed the U.S. Infantry soldiers around him to return fire with every weapons system at their disposal.  Madsen crawled and pulled his way into one of the task force vehicles and squeezed into the turret.  He took control of a MK19 automatic grenade launcher and delivered punishing suppressive fire on the emboldened ISIS-K fighters.  Once that weapon emptied, he picked up a light machine gun, and engaged enemy positions until again he ran out of ammunition. Then, he put a MK14 grenade launcher into action. By now, his fellow soldiers had organized themselves, and the volume of fire they were delivering matched their leader’s. Madsen’s courageous and determined example inspired the limited number of troops who were not already wounded or rendering aid to violently strike back at their attackers, ultimately suppressing the threat long enough for the medical evacuation helicopters to load the most critical patients.

For his actions during this deployment, the third of four that the Utah National Guard Special Operations Soldier would serve, Madsen earned the Silver Star for valor and three Purple Heart medals.  SFC Madsen says, “The most devastating part of war is living through a battle when your friends did not.  Fighting is the easy part, but looking into the eyes of the families who’s loved ones gave their life is the hardest battle you could ever face.  War brings out the best and worst in people. The kindness and empathy you see in battle I can’t put into words.”

Keith Mauerman
Army
Vietnam

Sergeant Keith Mauerman was leading his squad through the rural farming area near Fire Base Uplift, Vietnam.  As part of 173rd Airborne Brigade, they were tasked with keeping so-called “tax collectors” — Viet Cong or North Vietnamese – from taking money from farmers.  Always lurking was the fear that the villagers were farmers by day, and Viet Cong by night.   The unit had been helicoptered in, but had to hike back to camp, and after a day’s rest they would repeat the cycle.

In May 1970, the company was sent on a mission that dramatically and permanently changed Mauerman’s life.  During the night, they were helicoptered into a staging area, and at dawn, they began moving in on a North Vietnamese Army base that had been attacked by Army Rangers.  The 173rd soldiers were on mop-up duty.  After the helicopters strafed the base and dropped 55 gallon barrels of bunker-neutralizing “foo gas,” Mauerman’s unit moved in, only to find the base deserted.

The weary company began hiking back to Fire Base Uplift.  Mauerman’s squad took the lead.  His experienced point man had been shot two weeks earlier, so an inexperienced private volunteered to take point.  It was a hot, muggy day, and the company was anxious to get back to Fire Base Uplift.  The men began crowding closer to the point, creating a recipe for mass casualties from an ambush or booby trap.  At a point where the trail split, the point man spotted a warning sign.  Mauerman closed in to investigate, and just as he arrived, a Claymore mine blasted 700 steel balls in a 60-degree radius for fifty yards.   The Sergeant and his point man were both hit in their lower legs.  Five others were injured.

Mauerman and the point man were given first aid and evacuated to an aid station.  Mauerman’s dog tags were blown off in the blast, resulting in his getting the wrong blood type in a transfusion.  Doctors determined that both men needed bi-lateral amputations of their lower legs.  After a week, Mauerman, gravely ill from the receiving the wrong blood, was sent to an Army hospital in Japan.

It’s been over 48 years since that fateful day.  The Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient says through all the pain of recovery and rehabilitation, the victories and setbacks, his wife Jenny has been an invaluable support.  He is also very grateful to the Salt Lake VA prosthetics unit for its outstanding treatment.

Mauerman says, “If I could stand shoulder to shoulder with Revolutionary soldiers and WWII soldiers and every soldier who has fought for this country, then it is all worth it.”

Christopher M. Rowley
U.S. Marine Corps
Afghanistan

Sergeant Chris Rowley was attending the University of Utah when he decided he wanted to give back to the country that offered him and his parents so much opportunity, so he enlisted in the Marine Corps Infantry in September 2008. He became an Anti-Tank Missileman and was assigned to 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, which deployed as part of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in 2010. The MEU conducted humanitarian operations in Haiti and support and training operations in Africa and Kuwait.

In September 2010, Rowley attended Scout/Sniper training and was assigned as an Assistant Team Leader.  In May 2011, his unit deployed to the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, where his team conducted Reconnaissance and Surveillance missions. During the demanding multiday missions, they would insert at night, find a hide site, and begin surveillance. While returning from a mission, the team was ambushed, receiving machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire from multiple positions. While attempting to break contact by instructing his team to peel out of the kill zone, Rowley was shot in the leg after providing covering fire. While under intense small arms and RPG fire, Rowley neutralized the closest enemy position with a grenade launcher. This allowed the rest of the team to move to a covered position with smoke to screen their movement, while a tourniquet was applied to his bleeding leg. Laying down heavy fire with his carbine as he limped to the covered area, Rowley expended five magazines of ammo until the enemy fire subsided. He received a medevac to Camp Bastion for surgery. After another surgery, Rowley had the option to go home but chose to recuperate in country. He said, “The physical therapy of learning how to walk again was grueling, but the anger of not being able to take care of my Marines overrode the pain.” A few months later and ahead of schedule, Rowley rejoined his team.

A week later, they were assigned the mission of providing overwatch to patrols in a particularly hostile area where Marines were taking heavy casualties. While most teams had missions every third day, Rowley’s team conducted missions every day for a month without rest, often conducting 4 patrols a day. During this month, Rowley conducted more than 100 patrols, more than some Marines do in an entire deployment. Casualties in the area virtually ended when the month-long mission was completed.

In 2017, Rowley was discharged due to worsening combat injuries. Looking back, he said, “It was a tremendous privilege and honor to lead Marines – some of the finest people this country has produced.” The Purple Heart recipient is currently a senior in the U’s Nursing program and plans to work for the VA after graduation.

Richard L Van Allen
Air Force
Vietnam/Thailand

Captain Richard Van Allen was trapped between two layers of darkness. One was the night sky, the other was the South China Sea. The mission was to search for and rescue survivors in the cargo plane wreckage below. He and his crew didn’t know how many people were on board or what the load was.

When the ships arrived and dropped aerial flares to light the area, Van Allen’s first thought was he was in a snow storm. It was actually large pieces of Styrofoam swirling around the plane. They were from ammunition crates that had broken open. Some were in the plane, some bobbing below in the water. Lying below, there was about 50,000 rounds of anti-aircraft ammunition that could have exploded if the leaking fuel from the wreckage had been ignited by flares or electrical sparks.

Van Allen first used the wind blast from the rotor blades to blow away some of the Styrofoam. The flares were both a help and dangerous hindrance. Some would fall into the water, with the risk that it would ignite leaking fuel. Others would burn out A100 feet off the water.  “You had to dodge in and around the floating chutes which were almost invisible in the darkness, to keep them from entangling in the rotor blades,” says Van Allen. The hazardous operation went on most of the night, with refueling trips back to base.  At the end there had been seven crewmen. Two, including the pilot who had been blown sideways out of the cockpit, were rescued.  The other five died.  Captain Van Allen earned a Distinguished Flying Cross that night.

Van Allen, trained as a fix wing pilot, fighter pilot, and helicopter pilot, spent much of his career in search and rescue. One thing he knew for sure, you never knew what you might run into.  For instance, a routine pick-up of Green Beret soldiers turned into a two day effort. The soldiers showed up with 100 mountain tribesman they had rescued from the Viet Cong, complete with chickens and livestock.

His last assignment was at Hill Air Force Base where he had multiple responsibilities. The most visible was an Air Rescue unit he established to rescue civilians. At that time civilian agencies didn’t operate their own helicopters. His first mission was to assist in the Teton Dam disaster in Idaho. The first 12 months they flew 700 hours in civilian search and rescue missions.  The first was to Idaho’s Teton Dam break. He also flew numerous rescue missions into the Cascade Mountains of Washington.

Major Van Allen earned numerous medals for his flying exploits, but the biggest reward, he says, “was the look of gratitude and relief on the faces of those that had been plucked from danger.”

John “Jack” Whipple
U.S. Army Air Corps
World War II

Second Lieutenant Jack Whipple, piloting a fully loaded 15,000-pound glider that had just been released from its tow plane, was in trouble.  He was fast approaching the designated landing zone and realized it was too small.  Whipple brought the powerless plane down fast, jammed a wingtip into the ground, throwing the glider into a ground loop.  The quick action kept it from crashing into trees bordering the landing zone.  The crew and soldiers grabbed their combat gear and prepared to unload the cargo, but the bolts holding the heavy equipment couldn’t be dislodged.  Using explosive primer cord to blow off the tail section of the glider, the cargo was released and shoved out.  All of this was behind enemy lines inland from Utah Beach.  The supplies were delivered to the 82nd Airborne, which had dropped in during the early morning darkness.  It was June 6, 1944 – D-Day.

Whipple and his crew fought alongside the paratroopers until detailed to assist getting the wounded to an evacuation point.  All of them were ferried to England; the wounded were transported to medical care and the glider crews to their bases.

He flew two more glider missions that were similar complete with landing problems.  The second flight was in support of paratroop operations in the Netherlands.  When Whipple arrived at the landing area, a cow wandered into the designated landing spot, turning the operation into a game of chicken, but disaster was averted when the cow moved, realizing it was game she couldn’t win.  Whipple’s final mission was to support the Americans crossing the Rhine River into Germany.  Prior to the gliders arrival, Allied ground troops released smoke to obscure their position.  The smoke enveloped Whipple’s glider, but he was able to use his instruments to navigate into clear air just before hitting his landing zone.  It was Whipple’s last glider flight, but his war wasn’t finished.  Returning to the job he was originally trained for, he flew 12 resupply and evacuation missions in C-47s as navigator. On two of those, he doubled as co-pilot because they were short-handed.

When the war in Europe ended, Whipple was placed on orders for shipment to the Pacific but the atomic bombs ended those plans, and Whipple’s warrior days were over.

2ndLt Whipple, who received three Air Medals, said that during the war he never thought about the purpose of the war or the enormous stakes.  He said, “I was too busy looking for places to land.”  These days he also adds, “There ought to be better ways to solve problems like that.”

Carl J. Workman
Army
World War II

Staff Sergeant Carl Workman, in the middle of his junior year at Park City High School, received his draft notice inducting him into the United States Army.  The son of a blacksmith from the snow-packed Wasatch Mountains, Workman was pulled into the wartime frenzy of a nation locked in a bloody death-grip with both Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan.  “I would have enlisted anyway,” he remembers. “Pearl Harbor had just been attacked. I was eager to go and get into the fight.”

The lean, strong boy from the Rocky Mountains trained hard at Fort Douglas, Utah, and then in Alabama, California, and Hawaii, eventually becoming a Heavy Mortar Crewman.   Next, was assigned to the 106th Infantry Regiment, as part of the famed 27th Infantry Division, also called the “New York Division.”  “I was the only boy from Utah in a division of over twelve-thousand, street smart, big city kids. But it didn’t matter, we were all Americans.”

Assigned as a forward observer in a mortar platoon, Workman hit the violent beaches of Saipan in June, 1944.  He found himself crouching in a foxhole set out fifty yards from the line, holding a field phone and binoculars, calling down fire on the Japanese soldiers who were determined to fight to the last man.  “Three-thousand screaming Japanese soldiers attacked us head-on in one single Banzai charge. I called back to set the mortar tubes at 50 degrees, then fired fast as we could. We killed them all.”  The U.S. won the battle, but at a heavy cost to both sides.  All of the 29,000 Japanese troops died, and of the 71,000 Americans in the operation, 3,426 were killed and 10,364 were wounded.   Only nine of the 200 Soldiers in Workman’s unit survived.  After Saipan, he went to the New Hebrides islands in the Pacific, where he trained newer Soldiers, but in April 1945, Workman found himself in another major battle.

His next fight was the invasion of Okinawa, the largest amphibious assault and one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific Theater. For two-and-a-half months of ferocious battle, Workman endured the horrors of cave fighting, Banzai charges, sugarcane field ambushes, and flame-thrower warfare until the last round was fired.  Again, losses were tremendous, and the U.S. defeated the Japanese in the last battle the 106th fought in WW II.  After the war ended, he was sent to occupy the town of Shibata, Japan for four months.

Now at the age of 94 years, Staff Sergeant Carl Workman still reveres his nation and its flag with intense patriotic fervor. “I’d still kick-in and fight for America in whatever way I can. Maybe I could drive a truck and deliver ammo to the front lines. Whatever she takes, I’ll do it.”