Archive for June 26th, 2018

The Berlin Airlift: What It Was, It’s Importance in the Cold War Against Communism

June 26, 2018

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YELLOW RIBBON AMERICA NEWS DESK:

The Berlin Airlift: What It Was, It’s Importance in the Cold War Against Communism

By Katie Lange, Defense Media Activity

June 26 marks the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Berlin Airlift, America’s first major test of resolve during the Cold War and one of the largest humanitarian aid missions in history.

Never heard of it? Well, you’re in luck – we’ve summed the history up for you here.

Post-World War II Division of Germany

After World War II ended, Germany was in ruins, and the situation in its capital, Berlin, was dire. About 2.5 million Berliners were still living in the war-ravaged city, but food was scarce and shelter was hard to find amid all the rubble. The economy was mostly black market goods at that point.

To begin rebuilding, the Allies split Germany between the U.S., Great Britain and Russia. Berlin was also divided into occupation zones; the Soviets controlled the eastern portion while the west went to the U.S., UK and France.

Unfortunately, the Soviet-Allied alliance deteriorated quickly, and tensions fully erupted by 1948.

The Breaking Point

Russia met regularly with Britain, the U.S. and France after the war to coordinate occupation policy between the varying zones, but it stopped in early 1948 when it found out the other three nations were secretly planning to create a new German state out of their zones.

In June 1948, the U.S. and U.K. introduced a new currency, the Deutschmark, to their zones, which included West Berlin. They kept it from the Soviets because they wanted to regain economic control from Russia and quell the black market that was running rampant, as well as bring in aid under the Marshall Plan, a U.S. strategy to rebuild Europe.

But the problem was this – Berlin was located far within Russia’s East Germany, so the Soviets took advantage, leading to the first Berlin crisis of the Cold War.

The Berlin Airlift Begins

On June 24, 1948, Soviet forces blockaded all road, rail and water routes into Berlin’s Allied-controlled areas, stifling the vital flow of food, coal and other supplies. Soviet troop numbers dwarfed those of the Allies, which had drawn down after the war, so there was little the Allies could do about it militarily.

But the Soviets couldn’t block Allied airspace, so U.S. and UK forces took to the skies to get supplies to the Allied sectors. On June 26, the U.S. launched Operation Vittles, which the U.K. later joined. It was the biggest aerial resupply mission ever embarked upon. The Allies also imposed their own counter-blockade, restricting trade with East Germany and East Berlin.

A Massive Mission For Freedom

The airlift was a daunting task at first. More than 2 million Berliners were relying on the aid, which included much-needed food, fuel and medicine. Over time, though, it became more efficient, and the number of airdrops increased. At one point, Air Force and Navy planes were landing at Tempelhof Airport every 45 seconds.

On Easter Sunday, April 17, 1949, the constant procession of planes managed to deliver 13,000 tons of cargo, including the equivalent of 600 railroad cars of coal – all in one day!

Things weren’t going well for the Soviets. The airlift had been going on for 10 months, and the Allies had proven they could keep it up indefinitely. The Russians had gained a reputation as bullies because of their blockade. On top of that, an Allied counter-blockade was causing severe shortages in the Russian sectors, leading to fears of an uprising.

The Soviet Union gave in and lifted the blockade on May 11, 1949; however, the airlift itself didn’t end until Sept. 30, just in case the Soviets decided to change their minds.

During the entire airlift, the U.S. and U.K. delivered more than 2.3 million tons of food, fuel and supplies to West Berlin via more than 278,000 airdrops. American aircrews made more than 189,000 flights, totaling nearly 600,000 flying hours and exceeding 92 million miles.

The airlift demonstrated America’s innovative spirit, efficiency, perseverance and leadership. It also highlighted the value of cooperation and the need to have allies to accomplish tasks that one country simply can’t do alone.

While that crisis ended peacefully, the ideological division of Europe had just begun. By the end of the blockade, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization had been established, partially in response to Soviet aggression. A few weeks later, East and West Berlin officially separated, with each becoming a symbol of their respective political views — democracy and freedom in the West versus communism in the East.

President Trump presents Medal of Honor to Widow of World War II Veteran Garlin Murl Conner

June 26, 2018

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YELLOW RIBBON AMERICA NEWS DESK:

President Trump presents Medal of Honor to Widow of World War II Veteran Garlin Murl Conner

By: Christopher Carbone and Lucas Tomlinson Fox News

For Pauline Conner, Tuesday is a day she wasn’t sure would ever come.

The widow of 1st Lt. Garlin Murl Conner waged a 22-year campaign to get his Distinguished Service Cross – which he was awarded for his actions on Jan. 24, 1945 in France – upgraded to a Medal of Honor, as his World War II battalion commander had wanted back then.

“After all these years it really is and truly is an honor,” the 89-year-old widow said Monday at the Pentagon. “I had really and truly given up on it. I just didn’t think it would ever happen. But he has a [combat] record that speaks for itself. I don’t have to tell it.”

President Donald Trump awarded the nation’s highest military decoration to Pauline in a White House ceremony honoring a remarkable moment of heroism from Conner’s 28-month combat career, which took him to North Africa and Europe.

The Medal of Honor makes Conner the second-most decorated soldier of World War II, according to the Army, surpassed only by legendary 1st Lt. Audie Murphy.

As it turns out, the veteran’s upgrade needed eyewitness accounts, which were finally found by Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield, who sent a staff member to the National Archives where the necessary documentation was discovered. 

His widow spoke about the toll his tour of duty, which included being wounded seven times, had on her husband – who she married at the age of 16.

“You know, in World War II and Korea, they didn’t recognize PTSD like they did in Vietnam,” Pauline said at the Pentagon. “But I’ve always said if anybody ever had PTSD, he did. Because many of the times, he’d wake up in the night, you know, with nightmares. And after I would wake him up, and he would go outside, sit on the porch, smoke cigarettes for hours at a time.”

However, her husband still never spoke about what happened to him overseas.

On Jan. 24, 1945, Conner’s soldiers – 7th Infantry, 3rd Battalion – were facing a counterattack from 600 German troops armed with tank destroyers. Instead of retreating, he chose to run forward into enemy fire with a telephone in order to direct artillery fire in hopes of ending end the attack. He stayed in an irrigation ditch for three hours until the battle was won as swarms of German soldiers moved toward his battalion.

“He’d just come back from being wounded. He wasn’t even supposed to be there,” said Erik Villard, digital military historian from the Army Center of Military. “But he came back to his unit and ran forward and volunteered the mission, and did what he did.”

“Today we pay tribute to this Kentucky farm boy who stared down evil,” Trump said. “He was indeed a giant, larger than life, he will never ever be forgotten.”

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, spoke about Conner’s sacrifice on the floor of the senate Tuesday

“I’m proud to congratulate Pauline and her family today. And I would like to thank her, for giving our nation the opportunity to salute First Lieutenant Garlin Murl Conner,” McConnell said in a statement. “He embodied the highest values of our Commonwealth and our nation. But this humble man never called himself a hero. So, it’s incumbent upon us to do just that.”

Conner’s Army record during the war included four Silver Stars, French valor awards and three Purple Hearts. He earned the decorations in savage battles between October 1942 and March 1945 as his 3rd Infantry Division unit pushed from Morocco, across Tunisia into Italy, across France and into Germany.

“My husband was a very humble man, and I’m honored to represent him. It’s—it’s not about me; it’s about him. And he was my hero. He was for 53 years, and he still is since he’s been gone 20 years.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/06/26/president-trump-presents-medal-honor-to-widow-world-war-ii-veteran-garlin-murl-conner.html