Explaining the Spanish-American War 120 Years Later

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By Zoe N. Jackson, Department of Defense

The Spanish-American War was a conflict that arose from Cuba’s struggle for independence 120 years ago, but why was the U.S. involved, and what did it mean for our future?

The Background

In February 1895, Cuba struggled for independence from Spain. It became problematic for United States investments on the island, nearly ending U.S. trade with Cuban ports. Humanitarian concerns for the Cuban people were also brought to America’s attention. Since Cuba was colonial, just as the U.S. once was, we understood their struggle for independence.

Buffalo soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 9th and 10th cavalries at the Battle of Las Guasimas during the Spanish-American War. Library of Congress drawing

The demand for intervention on behalf of Cuba gained support from Congress. In retaliation, on April 24, 1898, Spain declared war on the United States. A day later, the U.S. declared war on Spain, making the declaration retroactive to April 21.

The War Was Short

In the eyes of many historians, the Spanish-American War was particularly one-sided, as Spain had not readied its army or navy for a war with the U.S. That made it easy for U.S. Navy Commodore George Dewey to lead a naval rotation into Manila Bay in the Philippines on May 1, 1898, to destroy the Spanish fleet stationed there.

The Battle of Manila Bay. Library of Congress drawing

U.S. naval forces then found the majority of Spain’s Caribbean fleet in Cuba’s Santiago harbor. U.S. Army Gen. William Shafter landed on the east coast of Santiago and led U.S. troops into the city in an effort to force Spanish Adm. Pascual Cervera’s fleet out of the harbor. Cervera tried to escape along the west coast on July 3, but in doing so, all of his ships were targeted by U.S. guns. Unable to retreat, Cervera’s ships were left to burn or sink. It was a major defeat.

What the U.S. Gained

Spain surrendered on July 17, 1898, ending the brief and violent war. A few months later, on Dec. 10, Spain renounced all claims for Cuba and ceded Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States. It also transferred sovereignty over the Philippines to the U.S. for $20 million.

U.S. Army troops on the march in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Drawing by William J. Glackens, courtesy of the Library of Congress

Although it was short, the Spanish-American War was an important turning point in U.S. and Spanish history. Spain’s defeat turned that nation’s attention away from its overseas colonial pursuits. Spain refocused on domestic needs, which later led to a cultural and literary renaissance, as well as two decades of economic development.

For the U.S., emerging victoriously from the Spanish-American War lead to an interest in international politics.

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Explaining the Spanish-American War 120 Years Later

Milwaukee Navy Week Celebrated

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Members of Navy Band Great Lakes march in the Wisconsin State Fair daily parade during Milwaukee Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan J. Batchelder)



The ninth Navy Week of 2018 hosted America’s Navy during Milwaukee Navy Week August 6 -12 as both Sailors and residents interacted in a series of community outreach events.  The Navy Week program serves as the Navy’s principal outreach effort into areas of the country without a significant Navy presence.  The program is designed to help Americans understand that their Navy is deployed around the world, around the clock, ready to defend America at all times.


Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11, and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett pose for a photograph during the mayor’s proclamation of Milwaukee Navy Week at city hall. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan J. Batchelder)

Members of Navy Band Great Lakes march in the Wisconsin State Fair daily parade during Milwaukee Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan J. Batchelder)

Navy Diver 2nd Class David Purkey, assigned to assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) 2, poses for a photograph with children at Discovery World Science and Technology Center during Milwaukee Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan J. Batchelder)

Navy Diver 1st Class Thomas Gerace assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) 2 places a KM-37 diving helmet on a volunteer at the Milwaukee Public Museum during Milwaukee Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan J. Batchelder)

Seaman Ashley Watson, assigned to USS Constitution, interacts with children at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater LaVarnway during Milwaukee Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey Scoular)

Lt. Deidre Coulson-Tucker, assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1, demonstrates helicopter take-off signals to a volunteer at the Daniels-Mardak Boys & Girls Club during Milwaukee Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan J. Batchelder)

Master Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Chad Harris, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) 2, demonstrates a bomb-disposal robot to onlookers at the Milwaukee Public Museum during Milwaukee Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan J. Batchelder)

Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Amanda Stanaway, from Springfield, Ohio, assigned to USS Constitution, interacts with a child at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater LaVarnway Clubhouse during Milwaukee Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey Scoular)

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WWII Pilot Fends Off His Injured Comrade to Finish Mission

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By Katie Lange, Department of Defense

This blog is part of a weekly series called “Medal of Honor Monday,” in which we’ll highlight one of the more than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients who have earned the U.S. military’s highest medal for valor.

While there were many bombing missions over Germany during World War II, one that happened 75 years ago this month was so heroic that it helped to inspire the book “Twelve O’Clock High,” which was later turned into a highly regarded movie.

Today, we’re honoring a man who earned his Medal of Honor during that mission: Army Air Corps 2nd Lt. John C. Morgan.

World War II Army Air Corps 2nd Lt. John C. Morgan receives the Medal of Honor from Lt. Gen. Ira Eaker, Commander of the Eighth Air Force, in December 1943. Air Force photo

Morgan began his military career as an airman in 1941 – before the U.S. entered the war – when he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. He would have joined the U.S. Army Air Corps, but because of an industrial accident at a job he’d previously had, he had been deemed unfit for duty for his own country.

Morgan thrived with the Canadians and was eventually transferred to the U.S. Army Air Forces’s 8th Air Force when it joined the war effort in England. He became a qualified pilot in 1943 and started flying B-17s on bombing missions. Hi fifth mission on July 26, 1943, didn’t go smoothly at all – but his bravery that day earned him accolades for life.

Morgan was the copilot of a bomber heading to Hanover, Germany, when it was attacked by several enemy fighters well before reaching their target. And it was bad.

The main pilot on Morgan’s plane had been hit in the head with a .303-caliber cannon shell that shattered the windshield. The plane’s communications system was destroyed, and the oxygen system throughout much of the plane had been knocked out, causing the plane’s waist, tail and radio gunners to lose consciousness. The top turret gunner’s arm was blown off at the shoulder.

The main pilot’s injuries left him semiconsciously scrambling to get everything under control. He fell over the steering wheel and held onto it, desperately resisting Morgan, who was trying to gain control of the struggling aircraft.

Eventually, Morgan was able to use the controls on his side to pull the airplane back to formation.

Morgan assumed the rest of his crew had bailed out – he didn’t hear their guns being fired and he had no way of talking to them – so he was forced to make an important decision alone.

“There remained the prospect of flying to and over the target and back to a friendly base wholly unassisted,” the Medal of Honor citation reads. “In the face of this desperate situation, 2nd Lt. Officer Morgan made his decision to continue the flight and protect any members of the crew who might still be in the ship. For two hours, he flew in formation with one hand at the controls and the other holding off the struggling pilot.”

Eventually, the plane’s navigator was able to make it to the cockpit and relieve Morgan of his duties to fend off the struggling pilot, who later died. They were able to get back to a friendly base and land safely, having completed a successful – albeit terrifying – mission.

For his actions, Morgan received the Medal of Honor in December 1943.

After that, he continued piloting planes until he was shot down over Germany on March 6, 1944. He remained a prisoner of war there until May 1, 1945.

Army Air Corps 2nd Lt. John Morgan dishes hot water from a field kitchen in the North I compound at Stalag Luft I, a German POW camp for Allied airmen. Air Force Magazine photo

Morgan was sent home after the war and spent several more years hopping between active-duty and the Reserve. He eventually retired as a lieutenant colonel and lived a full life, marrying and having a son, who also joined the Air Force.

Morgan died in 1991 at the age of 76. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Thank you for your devotion to the cause, Mr. Morgan!

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WWII Pilot Fends Off His Injured Comrade to Finish Mission

Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marks 69th Anniversary

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By Jim Garamone,
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

The United States is a global power, and the U.S. military requires a global viewpoint. That was the reasoning behind establishing the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 69 years ago today.

On Aug. 10, 1949, President Harry S. Truman signed an amendment to the 1947 National Security Act, which officially created the position of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to help provide unified direction of the services following World War II to address the growing nuclear Soviet threat.

General of the Army Omar N. Bradley became the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Aug. 16, 1949.

Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson swears in Army Gen. Omar Bradley as the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Aug. 16, 1949.

Bradley put the pressures of the job in perspective in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1951: “The Joint Chiefs of Staff, in view of their global responsibilities and their perspective with respect to the worldwide strategic situation, are in a better position than any single theater commander to assess the risk of general war,” he said. “Moreover, the Joint Chiefs of Staff are best able to judge our own military resources with which to meet that risk.”

This statement contrasted with General of the Army Douglas MacArthur’s approach as commander in the Far East prosecuting the Korean War. As the fight in Korea was the only active combat zone at the time, MacArthur believed it was the most important theater in the world. But Bradley and the other Joint Chiefs understood the Soviet Union posed the greater threat, given the Soviets’ ability to menace the United States and its allies across multiple regions.

This global focus has not changed since Bradley took office.

In fact, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 lists global military strategic and operational integration among the chairman’s responsibilities. The chairman provides advice to the president and the secretary of defense on ongoing military operations and advises the secretary on the allocation and transfer of forces among geographic and functional combatant commands, as necessary, to address transregional, multidomain and multifunctional threats, the legislation says.

President Truman signs the National Security Act Amendments of 1949, as Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson (leaning on desk) and other dignitaries look on, Aug. 10, 1949. National Archives photo

The role of the chairman, as spelled out in the 1949 amendment to the National Security Act, was to serve as the presiding officer of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to assist the Joint Chiefs to prosecute their business as promptly as practi­cable. This also included informing the secretary of defense and, when appropriate, the president, of those issues upon which agreement among the Joint Chiefs of Staff had not been reached. The chairman, in his advisory role, was initially considered the “first among equals” advising the president, the secretary of defense and the National Security Council.

The Defense Reform Act of 1958 clarified the role of the chairman as military advisor.  Furthermore, it reinforced the concept of civilian control of the military by establishing the operational chain of command to run from the president to the defense secretary to the combatant commanders.  The chairman thus does not exercise military command over the combatant commands, the Joint Chiefs of Staff or any of the military services.

Current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford takes the oath of office from his predecessor, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, during a change of responsibility and retirement ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Va., Sept. 25, 2015. DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen

The last major defense legislative reform was the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. The act, signed by President Ronald Reagan, strengthened the role of the chairman as the senior ranking member of the Armed Forces and principal military advisor to the president. It also established the position of the vice chairman and added that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff serves as the spokesperson for the Joint Chiefs and the combatant commanders to the defense secretary and the president.  Most importantly, it retained the concept that the chairman is the senior military advisor to the president and secretary and does not command any military forces.

Learn more about the individuals who’ve served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff over the past 69 years here.

Connect with the Joint Staff on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Flickr.

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Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marks 69th Anniversary

It’s the DoD’s Birthday! The Name, Anyway…

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Happy 69th birthday, Defense Department! Technically, at least.

Aug. 10 is the birthday of the name Defense Department, even though the federal government branch that oversees national security and the U.S. armed forces has been around just about as long as our nation.

But it wasn’t always called that, and it didn’t always include all of the components it currently does.

If that seems confusing … it is. So here’s an explainer that hopefully will help!

The Beginning

Way back in 1789, Congress created the War Department at the Cabinet level to oversee the operation and maintenance of the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps, which had been operating since before the Revolutionary War.

As the U.S. grew in size over the next century and a half, so did the department, and it eventually grew fragmented. By World War II, its operations were being run by three autonomous components: the Army Ground Forces, the Army Air Forces, and the Services of Supply (which was in charge of administrative and logistical operations). It didn’t even include the Navy, which had become its own department in 1798.

So to make a long story short, there were just too many military authorities bogging U.S. leaders down with too many details. And in a Cold War world in which nuclear proliferation had become the major threat, the department was in desperate need of more centralized direction and efficiency.

Making Some Changes

So in the summer of 1947, shortly after World War II, President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act, which created a unified department known as the National Military Establishment. Under its umbrella fell the Department of the Army (converted from the old War Department), the Department of the Navy, and the newly created U.S. Air Force. The Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Council, National Security Resources Board and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were also set up.

All of those things were put under the control of one Cabinet-level person: the secretary of defense. On Sept. 18, 1947, the NME officially began operations under the direction of James V. Forrestal, the former secretary of the Navy, who had been sworn in the day before to lead the reorganized department.

And that’s why we celebrate the birthday of the Office of the Secretary of Defense in September! But not the DoD’s birthday. Another two years went by before that happened. So let’s get back to that …

The Department We Know Now

While the National Security Act created the position of secretary of defense, the pre-existing secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force were all still considered Cabinet positions. On Aug. 10, 1949, the National Security Act was amended, rescinding the Cabinet-level statuses of those secretaries and making them all subordinate to the secretary of defense, whose authority and responsibilities were increased. The amendment also established a chairman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The first man to be appointed to the position was famed World War II Army Gen. Omar Bradley.

Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson swears in Army Gen. Omar Bradley as the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Aug. 16, 1949.

The amendment also converted the NME into an executive department with a new name – the Department of Defense.

So there we are! That’s why we’re celebrating today as the day of our department’s official (yet not-so-official) birth. Happy birthday, Defense Department!

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

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It’s the DoD’s Birthday! The Name, Anyway…

This Man’s Lawless Gov’t Wanted Him Dead, So He Became a U.S. Soldier

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Everyone in the military has a back story, but few are as compelling as that of retired Army Capt. Jean Jeudy. He was hunted by paramilitary groups in his native Haiti, brought to the U.S. for protection, went through boot camp without knowing English and started his military career in a completely opposite climate from that of his home country.


Video: Capt. Jeudy recalls his career, life before

That’s probably a little rougher than your experience, right?

Jeudy recently retired after 22 years of service. His journey has been long, but rewarding, and it all started in 1994 when the U.S. government granted him asylum.

He went into hiding because his life was threatened. 

Army 1st Lt. Jean Jeudy at work in August 2011.  Photo via Jean Jeudy

In 1991, the Haitian army overthrew the elected government, destabilizing the country. By 1994, the atmosphere was so chaotic and dangerous that there was virtually no political or societal stability. During those tumultuous times, Jeudy dedicated himself to radio broadcasting, relaying news and events despite the perils that faced him.

“People were looking for me personally to kill me,” he said. “And if they could find my family, they would kill them as well.”

He, his wife and his four adopted kids were forced to go into hiding. Eventually, they made a life-changing decision to seek asylum in the United States.

There was definitely culture shock.

“It’s a different life. I came the next day, and I’m like, ‘Man, what am I doing here?’” Jeudy said of the extreme change. “I had no purpose, in a way, in a country where I’m going to start over.”

But the monumental change from the perilous Haitian landscape to the secure and stable U.S. defined and strengthened him, despite the challenges. He wanted to give back to the U.S. for saving his life, so he joined the Army in 1996.

“Once I joined the Army, I saw the purpose. I saw myself helping people, continuing what I was doing in Haiti as a broadcast journalist,” Jeudy said.

He didn’t speak English when he joined the Army.

Jeudy is a native French speaker, but somehow he passed his initial test and then spent eight weeks in basic training without anyone noticing he didn’t know English.

Army recruit Jean Jeudy shines his boots while at the Defense Language Institute on Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, in the summer of 1996. Jeudy, a native French speaker, attended the Defense Language Institute to learn English. Courtesy photo by Jean Jeudy

“Anything that I saw the soldiers doing, I just followed and did the same thing,” he said. But he was eventually found out.

“At the end of an exercise, that’s when I was supposed to self-evaluate … and you’re supposed to be able to respond,” he recalled. “At that point, the drill sergeant was talking to me and realized, ‘That Jeudy, he can’t speak English. He can’t respond.’”

That was a huge setback.

“The drill sergeant talked to me and explained to me, ‘Hey, it’s not over. You have to be determined to do this,’” Jeudy said. “With that determination, I stopped basic training at that point, and I was sent to Lackland Air Force Base, where I started English school.”

His first duty station: Alaska.

Once Jeudy learned English and made it through basic, his first duty station was also quite the shock – Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

“Seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit in Haiti is considered cold,” Jeudy said. “So, the Army sent me to Fort Wainwright, where the weather can go down to minus 50.”

Between the soldiers and the Alaskan natives, the culture was also very different. It was one of love and acceptance, and that was made clear in Jeudy’s professional life.

“That’s when I started knowing about teamwork,” he said. “I started knowing about love, about dedication and selfless service there in my first unit in Alaska. I saw people really genuinely taking care of you.”

He’s done a lot of good during his 22 years.

Jeudy eventually became an officer and earned a lot of awards and accolades, including Bronze Star medals he earned on his deployments to the Middle East.

Staff Sgt. Jean Jeudy poses with an Afghan local while on deployment to Afghanistan in 2004. Jeudy would attain the rank of Captain before ultimately retiring in 2018. Courtesy photo by Jean Jeudy

“I remember how our mission in Iraq and Afghanistan is a noble mission to serve the people there, but also to serve the people of the United States against the threat that we are facing against the terrorists,” he said.

Jeudy also selflessly dedicated his energy and focus toward U.S. communities, earning him a Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

“It’s my most prestigious medal,” Jeudy said. “When I look at it, I see what the U.S. Army is all about – serving other people, serving other nations and serving the United States of America.”

He’s retiring into a different service.

In 2014, Jeudy received his ordination as a pastor. He’s now able to help people at U.S. shelters, but he’s also excited to connect his faith to his Haitian roots.

“I plan on going to Haiti to do ministry work,” Jeudy said. “My church is embracing an idea where we will put a branch of the church in every department of Haiti.”

Army Staff Sgt. Jean Jeudy poses in the snow while on deployment to Kosovo in November 2001. Courtesy photo by Jean Jeudy

He is eternally grateful to the U.S. and his fellow soldiers.

Jeudy said his service was filled with “joy and determination,” as well as phenomenal people.

“Countless people who, even when a situation is bad, you see those people … they’re not there just to be there. They’re your backup,” Jeudy said.

He remembered when his noncommissioned officers at Fort Wainwright warmed his fingers for him.

“My fingers were so cold in the wintertime, those NCOs put my skin against their skin to keep me warm,” Jeudy said. “This is something I take with heart. These people – the soldiers of the U.S. … If it wasn’t for those people, I wouldn’t be here today.”

This blog is an abridged version of a story that was originally published by Army Pvt. Matthew Marcellus on DVIDShub.net. 

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This Man’s Lawless Gov’t Wanted Him Dead, So He Became a U.S. Soldier

Legendary MoH Pilot Gets Posthumous Rank Advancement

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By Katie Lange,
Department of Defense

This blog is part of a weekly series called “Medal of Honor Monday,” in which we’ll highlight one of the more than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients who have earned the U.S. military’s highest medal for valor.

Air Force Col. George E. “Bud” Day

We’ve highlighted Air Force Col. George “Bud” Day before for Medal of Honor Monday, but we’re highlighting him again this week for a special reason. Day, who earned the nation’s highest award for valor in Vietnam, was posthumously advanced in June to the rank of brigadier general.

Day was a military legend, having served 35 years during World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He’s also one of America’s most distinguished service members, earning 70 decorations, including the Medal of Honor, which the pilot earned after his aircraft was shot down in Vietnam in August 1967.

The next few years his life were brutal – he was injured, starved and tortured for about five years in an inhumane prisoner of war camp before finally being released in 1973, when the U.S. agreed to withdraw from the conflict. You can read more about Day’s harrowing experiences in our previous MOH Monday piece.

Day died in 2013.

On June 8, at a ceremony at the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein presented Day’s widow, Doris, with the certificate of advancement on his behalf. She was also given two single silver stars – the rank insignia worn by a brigadier general – which were first pinned onto Goldfein’s shoulders when he earned the rank in 2007.

Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein presents Mrs. Doris Day with brigadier general rank insignia after her deceased husband, retired Col. George E. “Bud” Day, was posthumously promoted during the 2018 Heritage to Horizons summer concert in Arlington, Va., June 8, 2018. The stars were originally Goldfein’s when he was a brigadier general. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark

Day’s advancement was proposed by Sen. John McCain, who was a friend of his and a cellmate during their imprisonment in Vietnam. It became effective in March.

I think it’s safe to say the honor is well-deserved!

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

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Legendary MoH Pilot Gets Posthumous Rank Advancement

Navy Week Held in Fargo

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Sailors assigned to USS Constitution teach Lisa Budeau and Jordan Schroeer, news anchors for North Dakota Today, how to tie knots during Fargo Navy Week. Fargo, N.D. is one of select cities to host a 2018 Navy Week, a week dedicated to raising U.S. Navy awareness through local outreach, community service, and exhibitions. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey Scoular/Released)



Navy Week Fargo was held July 23-29 in conjunction with the Fargo Air Show to increase exposure and allow our Sailors to showcase our mission, capabilities and achievements of the U.S. Navy. Navy Weeks serve as a principal outreach effort into areas of the country without a significant Navy presence to provide residents the opportunity to meet Sailors firsthand.  


Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Cory Van Beveren, from Countryside, Ill., assigned to USS Constitution, teaches a child how to tie knots at Bennett Boys & Girls Club during Fargo Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey Scoular/Released)

Engineman 2nd Class Jamie Vetter, assigned to Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Fargo, watches the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, practice demonstration during Fargo Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David R. Finley Jr./Released)

A child at the Fargo Public Library conducts the Navy Band Great Lakes ceremonial band during their performance at Fargo-Moorhead Metro Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Wyatt Anthony/Released)

Sailors assigned to USS Constitution teach Lisa Budeau and Jordan Schroeer, news anchors for North Dakota Today, how to tie knots during Fargo Navy Week. Fargo, N.D. is one of select cities to host a 2018 Navy Week, a week dedicated to raising U.S. Navy awareness through local outreach, community service, and exhibitions. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey Scoular/Released)

Musician 3rd Class Danlie Cuenca, assigned to Navy Band Great Lakes, performs at a free concert held at the Fargo Theater during the 2018 Fargo Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kleynia R. McKnight/Released)

Construction Electrician 2nd Class Benjamin Phelps, assigned to Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Fargo, helps a student program her robot at Minnesota State University Moorhead’s College for Kids summer camp during Fargo-Moorhead Metro Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David R. Finley Jr./Released)

Lt. Mack Jamieson, from Fulton, Miss., assigned to the Navy Office of Community Outreach, takes a selfie with children from the YMCA and local Boys & Girls Clubs at Island Park in Fargo, N.D., during Fargo-Moorhead Metro Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Wyatt Anthony/Released)

Dr. Tim Mahoney, mayor of Fargo, N.D., poses for a photo after performing a jump with the U.S. Navy parachute team, the Leap Frogs, during Fargo-Moorhead Metro Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Wyatt Anthony/Released)

Musician 1st Class Aaron Deaton, from Parkersburg, W.Va., assigned to Navy Band Great Lakes, plays taps during a wreath-laying ceremony for the members of the Gato-class submarine USS Robalo (SS-273) during Fargo-Moorhead Metro Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Wyatt Anthony/Released)

Lt. Monica Killoran, and Ensign Keaton Brenneman, assigned to Naval Oceanography Operations Command, help Cambrie Wickham pull the cord to launch a water bottle rocket science project at the Minnesota State University Moorhead College for Kids and Teens Camp during Fargo Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kleynia R. McKnight/Released)

Navy Diver 2nd Class Joseph Sarge, from Redding, Pa., assigned to Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, talks to children in the YMCA and local Boys & Girls Clubs while wearing a bomb disposal suit at Island Park in Fargo, N.D., during Fargo-Moorhead Metro Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Wyatt Anthony/Released)

Rear Adm. Gene F. Price, commander of Naval Information Force Reserve, tours the North Dakota State University Research and Creative Activity Center during Fargo-Moorhead Metro Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Wyatt Anthony/Released)

Rear Adm. Gene F. Price, commander of Naval Information Force Reserve, meets with the mayors of Dilworth, Minn., Fargo, N.D., West Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn., during Fargo-Moorhead Metro Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Wyatt Anthony/Released)

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Navy Week Held in Fargo

Remains Sent from North Korea Not a First for U.S.

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A DoD Agency Pores Over Previously Returned Remains, Works to ID Them

By Katie Lange
Department of Defense

The past week has been momentous for anyone holding out hope of finding the remains of loved ones who died during the Korean War and never returned home.

In a July 27 repatriation ceremony at Osan Air Base, South Korea, 55 boxes of possible remains were transferred from North Korea. Wednesday morning, those remains left the air base to return to U.S. soil. They arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for an honorable carry ceremony Wednesday evening.

The remains of what are believed to be U.S. service members arrive at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, after being transferred from North Korea. Official White House photo by D. Myles Cullen

Rewatch the South Korea repatriation | Watch Wednesday’s Hawaii ceremony

Nearly 7,700 American service members were listed as unaccounted-for after the conflict ended in 1953. While there’s no guarantee the remains in the returning boxes are those of Americans who fought in the war, other transfers in the past have helped many families waiting to hear about their loved ones find much-needed closure.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency examines all the returned remains and is responsible for identifying them – a process that can take years. But it’s working. Here are some facts they gave us:

Transfer cases containing the remains of what are believed to be U.S. service members lost in the Korean War line the bay of a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III during an honorable carry ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 1, 2018. The ceremony marked the arrival of 55 transfer cases recently repatriated from North Korea. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Apryl Hall

Between 1990 and 1994, the DPAA received 208 boxes of remains from North Korea. The boxes were believed to have more than 400 servicemen in them.

The DPAA was also able to conduct on-the-ground recoveries in North Korea between 1996 and 2005, which led to the identification of 229 men.

Researchers are still working to identify the various remains, but from those missions between 1990 and 2005, the DPAA has made 335 identifications so far.

In 2007, the remains of seven more individuals were turned over to the U.S. by North Korea. The DPAA has been able to identify six of them.

Officials load the remains for return to the U.S. at Osan Air Force Base, Korea, Aug. 1, 2018. Photo courtesy of U.S. Forces Korea

Identification efforts also continue in Hawaii at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific – aka, the Punchbowl – where about 866 service members are buried as unknowns. Since 1999, the DPAA has exhumed 197 graves there and made 105 positive identifications.

READ MORE: 64 Years Later, Korean War Vet Finally Comes Home

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Remains Sent from North Korea Not a First for U.S.

The Korean War Armistice Explained

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Sixty-five years ago, on July 27, 1953, North and South Korea signed an armistice – a formal agreement made by opposing sides in a war – which ended the Korean War.

A newspaper headline announcing the Korean War’s end.

Negotiations for the armistice spanned over two years, the longest negotiated armistice in history.

Over those two years, the U.S., North and South Korea met in Panmunjom on the border between the two countries. There were 158 meetings before any of the parties agreed to sign the document. During the meetings, all parties sought to make an agreement that would suspend open hostilities, arrange the release and repatriation of prisoners of war and prevent all sides from entering areas under control of the other.

In the final meeting, the Korean armistice accomplished those goals and established the Military Armistice Commission, as well as other agencies to discuss any violations and ensure adherence to the truce terms. Additionally, the armistice made a 4,000-meter-wide zone where all military forces and equipment would not be allowed as part of the agreement to suspend hostilities.

The Korean armistice was signed by U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William K. Harrison Jr. of the United Nations Command Delegation and North Korean Gen. Nam Il, who also represented China, putting an end to the roughly three years of fighting of the 1950-1953 Korean War.

Army Gen. Mark W. Clark signs the Korean War Armistice agreement on July 27, 1953, after two years of negotiations. Navy Museum photo

The Korean armistice is unique because it is purely a military document. No nation signed the agreement.

After the armistice was signed, a new border between North and South Korea was drawn, giving South Korea additional territory and establishing the Demilitarized Zone between the two nations. The armistice ceased a war that costed the lives of millions of Koreans, Chinese and Americans.

Read more: ‘The Forgotten War’ Explained on Armistice Day

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

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The Korean War Armistice Explained