Familiarity did not breed contempt. I still very much enjoy the sight of a fine man in a fine uni.
Here's a few to enjoy and honor, this Presidents' Day.
|via Wikimedia Commons|
Lt. Henry Ossion Flipper. Born into slavery, he was the first African-American to graduate from West Point in 1877, not without experiencing severe rejection and persecution by white cadets. He later wrote a book about the experience.
He became a cavalry officer and served on the western frontier, the first non-white soldier to lead Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry.
His original commander, Captain Nicholas M. Nolan, supported him. However, the friendship he formed with Captain Nolan's white sister-in-law would later be used against him when he was transferred to Fort Davis, and placed under the command of a commander with a reputation for carrying out petty grudges against his officers, let alone one who was black.
After what appears to have been a set-up, Flipper was accused of embezzling funds, and the correspondence between Flipper and Miss Mollie Dwyer was used against him. He was court-martialed; cleared of embezzlement, but found guilty "of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentlemen."
As a civilian, Henry Flipper went on to distinguish himself in a variety of governmental and private engineering positions. These included serving as surveyor, civil and military engineer, author, translator, special agent of the Justice Department, special assistant to the Secretary of the Interior with the Alaskan Engineering Commission, aide to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, as well as an authority on Mexican land and mining law.
Flipper tried unsuccessfully for the remainder of his life to have his commission restored. In 1976 the Army Board of the Correction of Military Records found that his conviction and punishment were unduly harsh, issuing him an honorable discharge. In 1999, President Bill Clinton officially pardoned Flipper.
Colin Powell. (I'm foggy on whether being a four-star general outranks Secretary of State, or whether it's the other way around. Anybody know?)
Started out in the ROTC during college in New York, served in the Army during Vietnam, where he earned many of that chestful of medals. Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff during George H.W. Bush's administration, continuing into the Clinton admin. George W. Bush pegged him for the Secretary of State spot, after which he and his wife Alma (married since 1962) began a charitable organization called America's Promise Alliance, with the goal of seeing all children graduate high school poised to succeed in college and life.
IMO, Secretary Powell is very easy on the eyes, even now going into his 70's.
|Cuba Gooding Jr. portrays hero Dorie Miller in the movie Pearl Harbor|
|Image via Wikipedia|
|The real Doris Miller|
Assigned to the escort carrier Liscome Bay, Miller was lost in the sinking of that ship in November 1943.
IMO, real life Navy heroes are incredibly sexy.
If you watched Saving Private Ryan and a number of other World War II movies, you might come away with the notion that African-American men (and women) in the then-segregated Armed Forces were safely in the background. Not so. Pictured in this link is John Noble Roberts, a 19-year-old coast guardsman who lost one leg (with severe injuries to the other) on an amphibious ferry bringing troops to the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
|photo via Wikimedia Commons|
He did have a leg-up in that his father was a career military officer, but suffered the same obstacles as other black military officers before him. Shunned at West Point, Davis became even more determined to graduate and do well.
Instead of entering the Army, however, Davis became a pilot; the first black officer to graduate from Tuskegee Army Air Field.
In the summer of 1945, Davis took over the all-black 477th Bombardment Group, which was stationed at Godman Field, Kentucky.
During the war, the airmen commanded by Davis had compiled an outstanding record in combat against the Luftwaffe. They flew more than 15,000 sorties, shot down 111 enemy planes, and destroyed or damaged 273 on the ground at a cost of 66 of their own planes and losing only about twenty-five bombers.
Davis himself led dozens of missions in P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs. He received the Silver Star for a strafing run into Austria and the Distinguished Flying Cross for a bomber-escort mission to Munich on June 9, 1944.
Courageous, determined, and movie-star handsome, General Davis passed away in 2002.
A little cheating: this hot man, linked here, isn't USMC, he's a Royal Marine Commando (UK). David McIntosh, aka Tornado on Gladiators.
|via Wikimedia Commons|
Okay, here's one of many real-life USMC foxes, Frederick C. Branch, smiling as his wife pins his second lieutenant bars on his uniform.
Click the link for many more pictures and stories of the thousands of African-American recruits trained through Montford Point Camp.
From USA Today:
With the exception of a few slaves and freemen in the Continental Marines during the American Revolution, blacks did not serve in the Marine Corps until World War II — and even then, many military leaders were reluctant to include them.... ...African Americans joined the Marines during World War II despite the hostility.
Commander in Chief. No, he doesn't wear a uniform, and yes, Barack Obama's got goofy sticky-out-y ears, but such a smile!
|via Wikimedia Commons|
I appreciate and honor every man and woman who serves this country (or their own), but I have to admit to an extra share of appreciation for those who did so against the odds. In times when skin color, accent, or gender ensure that one does not receive an equal opportunity for advancement, it takes a very special man or woman to serve anyway.