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Untold Stories: Unsung Heroes from Local Museum Remind Us that We Are a Nation of Heroes
There are so many inspiring, beautiful stories about the great heroes of American history which are scarcely ever told. One happens on them accidentally—buried in a thick, out-of-print biography, in small print on a museum sign, casually and fleetingly mentioned in an obscure educational video. America cannot return to greatness in the future if we do not truly understand the greatness of our past. That is why I am writing an article series to tell a few of these little-known but moving “untold stories” of American greatness.
My previous articles in this series have included Abe Lincoln’s visits with the former slaves in the “contraband camp,” the remarkable life of slave turned Revolutionary Patriot double agent James Armistead Lafayette, and George Washington single-handedly stopping dangerous infighting in the American Revolutionary Army. My stories in today’s article are from more recent history, however. I visited a local museum in Manassas, Virginia, not long ago. While there, I discovered some truly wonderful stories of unsung military heroes whose stories had been carefully preserved in this little museum. Nowadays, it seems as if people move around so much and are so disconnected from their past that knowledge of local history is quickly dying out across America. I wanted briefly to share the stories of three brave men featured in the museum whose stories, I believe, should be more widely known—a reminder of the many men, their names largely lost to history, who fought and died so that we their children and grandchildren could live in freedom.
First of all, two heroes from Pearl Harbor in World War II:
Mess Attendant Second Class
U.S. Navy, USS West Virginia
First African American awarded the Navy Cross.
‘While at the side of his captain on the bridge, Miller, despite enemy strafing and bombing and in the face of serious fire, assisted in moving his Captain, who had been mortally wounded, to a place of greater safety, and later manned and operated a machine gun until ordered to leave the bridge.’
November 24, 1943, Miller’s ship, Liscome Bay, was sunk by a Japanese submarine. Listed as missing following the loss of that escort carrier, Miller was officially presumed dead November 25, 1944, a year and a day after the loss of Liscome Bay.”
The USS West Virginia sank due to the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, taking 66 sailors down with her.
“William Thomas Anderson
Corporal, Radio Operator
U.S. Army Air Force,Hickam Field, Honolulu
Awarded the Certificate of Honor, Army Air Force; Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross.
‘While on duty as a radio operator Corporal Anderson voluntarily obtained a sub-machine gun and with utter disregard for his own safety took position in the open field without cover and continued to fire at enemy planes which were bombing and strafing the field, until he was mortally wounded. His unquestionable valor at the cost of his life is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself and the United States Army Air Forces.’”
Miller and Anderson were just two of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who died in WWII alone, each of whom had a unique story of heroism to leave behind him.
Corporal Marshall Fletcher of the U.S. Army was one of the soldiers who participated in the last major bayonet charge in American military history. Obviously, with the 20th century came a new kind of war—one in which bayonets rarely played a part. But one cold day during the Korean War, Fletcher and his comrades, apparently low on ammunition, charged the enemy Communist forces with their bayonets as their weapons.
“[Military History Now] A U.S. Army infantry captain named Lewis Millet led the last major bayonet charge in American history — right up the frigid slopes of Hill 180 near Pyeongtaek, South Korea. On Feb. 7, 1951, the 31-year-old Word War Two vet darted out into enemy machine gun fire before two platoons of gobsmacked GIs. Millet’s men immediately ran to catch up to their commander and together the group cleared the hilltop trenches and foxholes of communist troops. More than 50 enemy combatants were killed – nearly half were skewered by American steel. Millet was awarded the Medal of Honor for the action. He would later serve in South East Asia.”
In a time when war seems a terrifyingly real possibility and cowardice (at least during the Covid-19 plandemic) has too often been the order of the day, Americans would do well to dig up the old stories of their ancestors’ and local heroes’ courage and daring. We need such examples to give us courage and inspiration again today—to remind us that America is a nation of heroes.
(Signs at the Manassas Freedom Museum were sources for this article. Special thanks to the volunteers of the Freedom Museum for their help.)
Now the U.S. Air Force