Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Great Uncle's Medals

A few year's ago, Bay City had a major flood.  Some of the things saved during that flood was the medals from my great uncle.  Before that, I remember seeing his grave in Cadillac and my dad pointing out that he died in World War II.  After some research I was able to put together a few details of his service in the war.  I do want to thank my dad for his help.
 This is the cluster of medals that I have.  The one at the top is the Purple Heart.  He recieved that after being killed in the war.  My dad said that he was on an aviation fuel barge that was attacked by Japanese aircraft during the Guadalcanal campaign.

After a little more digging, I found his name on a list of casualties in the National Archives.  He was an Electricians Mate 3rd Class in the Naval Reserve.  My dad did a little more digging and found out that he was attached to the Naval Construction Batallion 6 (Seabees in more popular vernacular).  Unfortunately, I don't have too many more details than that.
 The Purple Heart is a military decoration that is awarded (not sure if that is the right term) to anyone killed or wounded in action after 1917.  It is the oldest United States military award and was originally established by George Washington (hence his bust on it).  Originally it was designated as the Badge of Military Merit and was only awarded to three Revolutionary War soldiers.

The award was never abolished but never re-proposed until after World War I.  In 1931, the current design was proposed by General Douglas MacArthur.  The shield above the medal is George Washington's coat of arms.  Multiple awards are indicated by oak leaf clusters in the Army and Air Force or stars in the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.  During the early period of World War II it was also awarded for meritrious action.  The first one was awarded to Douglas MacArthur.

With the establishment of the Legion of Merit, the award was only given for wounds or deaths in combat.  In 1985, this was expanded to include friendly fire.  An interesting tidbit is that 500,000 Purple Hearts were manufactured in anticipation of the Invasion of Japan.  These medals are still being used to this day because that number has not been exceeded in subsequent actions.

Over 1,000,000 were awarded in World War II.  Almost 120,000 for Korea and a little over 350,000 for Vietnam.  607 were awarded during Desert Storm.  A little over 7,000 for the Afghanistan War and 35,000 for Iraq.
 The Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal was created in November of 1942 and designed by Thomas Hudson Jones.  It was awarded to any US Serviceman that served in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater from December 7, 1941 to March 2, 1946.  The late date was because President Truman did not declare the war officially over until then.
 The American Campaign medal was awarded to any service member who served in the United States for a year during the war.  It was also created in November of 1942.  It was designed by the same person as the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal.
The last one is the World War II victory medal.  The front depicts Nike with a broken sword which represents the defeat of the Axis powers. She has her foot over Mars' helmet which depicts the end of the conflict and the sun behind her represents the dawn of peace.  The medal was created in July of 1945.  It was awarded to any service member who served during World War II.

As I said, I wish I had a little more history about my great uncle but here is some history on the medals.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Random Shots

These next shots don't really fit anywhere else, so I'll put them here.
Milliken State Park is administered by the Department of Natural Resources.  I think it is the only Michigan State Park that is in an urban setting.  It is pretty nicely maintained and I think it is a harbinger of what could happen if Belle Isle fell under the jurisdiction of the state.
 
Don't get me wrong, I like Belle Isle but I think it could be alot nicer with some tender loving care.  There are bathrooms all over the island but instead of using those,  there are porta potties set up.  Maybe with a cash infusion from the state, the proper zoo could be opened again.  I think the potentials are limitless as the DNR is one of the few state entities that is fully funded.
 
Sadly, politics are getting in the way.  The City Council of Detroit doesn't really trust the State and vice versa.  They think that Lansing will get its hands on Belle Isle and sell it off to private developers.  I don't see that happening because I could only imagine the outrage.  I've said before, I don't like to discuss politics on this blog but I will when stuff affects me.
 
The private entities that are helping on Belle Isle are nice and they've made a bunch of progress but I think Belle Isle needs more.  It would be nice if those bathrooms were open year around like the ones in State Parks and I don't see that happening under the current situation.  It would also be nice if some of the deteriorating picnic areas were fixed but Detroit barely has enough money to keep the city afloat let alone fixing up a park.
 
So I wish the City Council would allow this to move forward......ranting off.
The Federal Rhine offloading stuff at Nicholson Dock.
 A border patrol boat speeding off.
 These next pictures are going to be sort of a springboard.

When I started this blog, I had intended to use it to highlight different aspects of Michigan.  I love to go over the history of certain things.  I especially like to find out the histories of things that I'm unfamiliar with.  As I was scanning the area, I saw this picture and since I've never taken pictures of the City Building from this angle, I had to take one.  I'm not sure what the bulding behind it is but I like the copper roof and stuff.

For the past year or so, I've been more focused with shipping.  As I've said in a prior post, I like shipping and I would love to focus on it but that's not all I want to focus on.  There is so much to see and do in this state that I should try to do that.  That being said, I'm not going to entirely lay off ships but I'm going to try to make more of an effort to take pictures of other subjects.

There are several projects that I have kicking around in my head.  I've driven down Michigan, Woodward and Jefferson Avenues.  I should try to continue with that idea and take Grand River.  I believe that will take me all the way to Grand Rapids.  Then I should try Gratiot.  I want to say that will take me up into the middle of the thumb but I'm not sure.  There are some nice old houses in Ypsilanti that I've been meaning to take pictures of because of their histories.  At one point I started with Albert Kahn buildings.  I got a nice sample of them but there are more of those as well.  There are histories of Jackson, Lansing and Marshall that I've not posted.
 I think I've said a few times that I've felt like I'm in a rut.  I kind of am.  Taking pictures of ships is comfortable (except when the wind is blowing hard).  There is something relaxing about watching a ship gracefully move up or down the river.  There is also something relaxing as I stand on a beach with only the sounds of the water lapping against it.  However, that was not my intention with this blog.

Heck, I've been spending some time in Port Huron lately....there's a ton of history there too.  However, the lure of the ships is great.
 As I'm posting those pictures, I feel like I'm riding the above Merry Go Round.  There are variations in the ships but they are still ships.
So with that, I'm going to try a new tack.

Give me the Fifth...Err, American Courage

I was waffling about whether I would stay for the next ship or not but then I figured by the time the Munson passed out of view, the American Courage would be passing into view.
 And I was pretty close to being right.  The American Courage is similar to the Boland.
 There are some slight differences though.
 But not too much, I think.
 The sky still is about the same.
 This time I left the big lens on for some detail shots.
 A shot of her pilothouse.
 And a side shot.
 The Eye of Sauron in the background.
 And she moves off.

And a final shot of the Ambassador Bridge.

The Fourth Ship...the Munson

The next ship is the ship that prompted me to head down to Detroit today.
 She is another classic laker...the John G. Munson.  She's appeared on this blog several times in the past, so again I'm not going to go over her history.
 The sky was a little brighter, so I had a better chance for a clearer headshot.
 She passes by the same group of buildings that the other ships pass by.
 The clearer spot.
 And her pilothouse.  I think she has one of the neater pilothouses out there.
 The sun still hasn't fully peeked out yet.
 I tried for a shot of the sky with the boat.  The sky looked pretty neat.
 And a straight on shot of her pilothouse.
 I kind of liked the reflections in the water.
And her GLF Stack.
 The rear of her pilothouse.
 And her deckhouse.
 And she heads down the river.
 This time I tried to get a shot of the Ambassador Bridge.
And the ever present Federal Rhine.

The John J. Boland for Three....

I wasn't expecting the River to be so busy today but following closely behind the Algoma Provider was the John J. Boland.  She's another repeat visitor to this blog, so I'm not going to go into her history much.
 The Boland is not a classic laker.  She has her pilothouse to the rear and typically goes in places where her larger cousins don't go.
 I think she is on her way to Cleveland today but I'm not sure.
 I still think she cuts a nice profile but not as nice as some of the other ships.
 I kind of liked the sky today though.
 She approaches the Algorail.
And says hello the Algorail.
 And slowly passes away from the Algorail.
 And the two ships pass each other.  One heading upbound for more cargo and the other heading downbound to deliver hers.
 The ever present Casino.
 And Windsor.
 And other buildings of Windsor.
 And she slowly approaches the Bridge.
And passes the Westcott.