Terrel Bell

Terrel Bell

Born in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, on November 11, 1921. Bell spent much of his professional career in Utah. He served as a sergeant in the Marine Corps during World War II and returned to Idaho to get his education. After earning a B.A. at Albion State Normal School in 1946, he started a career as a high school teacher and bus driver.

He earned an M.A. from the University of Idaho in Moscow in 1954, and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in 1961. Bell also served as Utah’s Commissioner of Higher Education and the superintendent of Utah’s Weber School District from 1958 to 1962.

Bell served as the United States Commissioner of Education (prior to the creation of the cabinet position) under Presidents Nixon and Ford from 1974 to 1976. Bell was a lifelong educator whose school-improvement message elevated him from obscurity in the Reagan administration to one of its most unlikely stars.

Appointed as the 2nd Secretary of Education, under President Reagan in 1981, Bell was expected to preside over dismantling of the Department of Education, created by previous President Jimmy Carter. Bell ran into the legal requirement that such a dismantling required legislation. On August 26, 1981, Secretary Bell convinced President Reagan to appoint a commission to study excellence in education. Bell released the 1983 report of the National Commission on Excellence in Education, titled A Nation at Risk, started the drive for education reform; claiming that our nation was threatened by “a rising tide of mediocrity.” Secretary Bell’s concern solicited the “support of all who care about our future,” Bell noted that he was establishing the Commission based on his “responsibility to provide leadership, constructive criticism, and effective assistance to schools and universities.”

White House officials were persuaded to hold a ceremony to release the report.  A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform called for higher academic standards, beefing up teacher credentials, longer school days, and greater community involvement in schools. When the report drew intense national interest, President Reagan soon began championing education reform and recognizing high-performing schools.

Bell served for Reagan’s first term, resigning on December 31, 1984, and was succeeded by Bill Bennett and returned to Salt Lake City to join the faculty at the University of Utah. In 1988, he published his memoir entitled The Thirteenth Man: A Reagan Cabinet Memoir.

Bell published seven other books during his career, covering topics such as improving child intellectual development and reforming the educational process. His last book in 1993, written with his business partner Dr. Donna Elmquist at his nonprofit company T.H. Bell and Associates in Salt Lake City, made new recommendations for improving the U.S. education system.

FAMOUS QUOTE: “There are three things to emphasize in teaching: The first is motivation, the second is motivation, and the third is (you guessed it) motivation.” Terrel H. Bell, U.S. Secretary of Education, 1981–1985 (Bell, 1995)

Bell died in his sleep at age 74 of pulmonary fibrosis at his home in Salt Lake City in 1996; he is interred in Larkin Sunset Gardens in Sandy, Utah.

The Department of Education gives an award named after Secretary Bell to recognize “outstanding school leaders and the vital role they play in overcoming challenging circumstances.”

How to Shape Up Our Nations Schools

Nathaniel C. Fick

Nathaniel C. “Nate” Fick, is a CEO, board member, author, and Infantry Marine and Recon Marine. Born in Baltimore, Maryland on June 23, 1977 he attended Loyola Blakefield high school in Towson, Maryland. After graduating high school, he attended Dartmouth College, earning degrees in classical studies and government in 1999. At Dartmouth, Fick captained the cycling team to a U.S. National Championship and wrote a senior thesis on Thucydides‘ History of the Peloponnesian War and its implications for American foreign policy

In 1998, after his junior year at Dartmouth, Nate attended the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidates School and was commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduating college the following year. Nate served as Weapons Platoon Commander with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines and 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. He was an officer in the Amphibious Ready Group of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit based in Darwin, Northern Territory training with the Australian Army for humanitarian operations deployment to East Timor until the September 11 attacks. He then led his platoon into Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom to support the War on Terror. Upon his return to the United States in March 2002, he was recommended for Marine reconnaissance training. He also completed Army Airborne School.  He subsequently led Second Platoon of Bravo Company of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Fick left the U.S. Marine Corps as a Captain in December 2003, and Captain Brent Morel took his place as platoon commander. Morel was killed in action in April, 2004.  One Bullet Away is dedicated to Captain Morel.

After leaving the Corps, Nate used the GI Bill to attend Harvard University. He earned a Master of Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

After his achievements at Harvard University, Nate became the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at the Center for a New American Security in 2008 and was later appointed CEO in June 2009. He was named one of the Fifty Most Powerful People in Washington by GQ magazine.

In December of 2012, Nate was appointed as CEO of Endgame, Inc., a cyber security software company based in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, CA. He also serves as an Operating Partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, a Trustee of Dartmouth, a member of the Military & Veterans Advisory Council of JPMorgan Chase & Co., the Young Presidents’ Organization and a life member of both the Council on Foreign Relations and Trout Unlimited.

Fick is the author of One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer, a memoir of his military experience published in 2005 that was a New York Times bestseller, one of the Washington Post‘s “Best Books of the Year,” and one of the Military Times‘ “Best Military Books of the Decade.” He is also the author of, A Marine Officer’s Perspective on Modern Warfare and co-author of Triage: The Next Twelve Months in Afghanistan and Pakistan.


James Carville


James Carville, was born on October 25, 1944.  He is a liberal American political consultant, commentator and media personality. He has been known as the ” Ragin’ Cajun ” or “Corporal Cue Ball “, Carville gained national attention for his work as the lead strategist of the successful 1992 presidential campaign of then-Arkansas governor Bill Clinton .

The oldest of eight children, was born on October 25, 1944, in Carville, Louisiana, the son of Lucille Normand, a former school teacher who sold World Book Encyclopedia door-to-door, and Chester James Carville, a postmaster as well as owner of a general store.  The town of Carville was named after his paternal grandfather, Louis Arthur Carville, the postmaster.

Carville spent two years serving in the Marine Corps, achieving the rank of Corporal, and later worked as a high school teacher.  Before entering politics, Carville worked as a litigator at a Baton Rouge law firm from 1973 to 1979.

In 1992, Carville helped lead Bill Clinton to a win against George H. W. Bush in the presidential election. In 1993, Carville was honored as Campaign District Manager of the Year by the American Association of Political Consultants. His role in the Clinton campaign was documented in the feature-length Academy Award-nominated film The War Room.

He received his undergraduate and Juris Doctor degrees from Louisiana State University (LSU). Carville is a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity.

Carville is married to Republican-turned-Libertarian political consultant Mary Matalin, who worked for George H. W. Bush on his 1992 presidential reelection campaign. Carville and Matalin were married in New Orleans in October 1993.

Carville was the executive producer of the 2006 film All the King’s Men, starring Sean Penn and Anthony Hopkins, which is loosely based on the life of Louisiana Governor Huey Long.

In 2008, Carville and Matalin relocated their family from Virginia to New Orleans.

Carville has been working with the Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) since 2016, to support the organization and its mission to ensure that veterans with spinal cord injury or disease (SCI/D) have access to all they need to thrive after injury, including quality health care, VA benefits, employment, and adaptive sporting opportunities.

Carville joined the faculty of Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication in January 2017.

You can visit his website at: http://www.carville.info

Carville has written a number of books that can be found on Amazon.

Freddy Fender

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Freddy Fender, born as Baldemar Garza Huerta on June 4, 1937 in San Benito, Texas, was a Mexican-American Tejano, country and rock and roll musician and U.S. Marine.

Freddy made his debut radio performance at age 10 on Harlingen‘s radio station KGBT, singing a then-hit, “Paloma Querida“.

Fender dropped out of high school at the age of 16 in 1953; when he turned 17, he enlisted for three years in the U.S. Marine Corps.  He served time in the brig on several occasions because of his drinking, and he was court martialed in August 1956 and then discharged with rank of private.  He later received a letter from the Department of the Navy saying that he had been wrongfully discharged dishonorably because of his drinking, and he was given a general discharge.  He returned to Texas and played in nightclubs, bars, and honky-tonks throughout the south, mostly to Latino audiences.

In 1958, he legally changed his name from Baldemar Huerta to Freddy Fender.  Taking the name Fender from the guitar and amplifier company.

He is known for his work as a solo artist and in the groups Los Super Seven and the Texas Tornados. He is best known for his 1975 hits “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” and the subsequent remake of his own “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights“.

In 2001, Fender made his final studio recording, a collection of classic Mexican boleros titled La Música de Baldemar Huerta that brought him a third Grammy award, this time in the category of Latin Pop Album.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Freddy appeared in TV and movies.  He appeared as Tony in the prison movie Short Eyes, a 1977 film, directed by Robert M. Young.  Freddy played the role of Pancho Villa in 1979’s She Came to the Valley (later released as Texas in Flames). The movie was directed by Albert Band and based on the book by Cleo Dawson.  Fender also appeared as himself in an episode of the television series The Dukes of Hazzard, in 1981.  In 1988, Freddy played the mayor in the Robert Redford–directed film The Milagro Beanfield War.

On March 13, 2001, Freddy Fender was erroneously reported to be dead by Billboard. He laughed off the magazine’s error.  He underwent a kidney transplant in 2002 with a kidney donated by his daughter and then underwent a liver transplant in 2004.  His condition continued to get worse and he was suffering from an “incurable cancer” in which he had tumors on his lungs.  On December 31, 2005, Fender performed his last concert and resumed chemotherapy.  He died on October 14, 2006 at the age of 69 of lung cancer at his home in Corpus Christi, Texas, with his family at his bedside.  He is buried in his hometown of San Benito.

Frank Libutti

Frank Libutti is a retired Marine Corps Lieutenant General, from Huntington, New York, and a graduate of The Citadel.

Libutti’s military career started in 1966 when he graduated from the Marine Corps’s Officer Candidates School at Quantico, Virginia.  He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in October of that year. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 9th Marines as a platoon commander in Vietnam.

In 1968, he returned to Quantico to serve as chief instructor of the  Tactics Section; as well as Commanding Officer and Branch Head of the Academic Section, at the Officer Candidates School.  In 1972, he transferred to Amphibious Squadron Three in San Diego, California for duty as Squadron Combat Cargo officer.  In 1974, he was assigned to 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, as an Infantry Company Commander, followed by staff positions, such as Logistics Officer and Operations Officer.

In May 1977, he was promoted to Major and assigned as the Executive Officer for Marine Barracks, Naples, Italy.  In August 1980, he attended the Command and Staff College at Quantico, then transferred to Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C., for duty as Head of Career Management Section, Manpower Department.  In May 1982, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and reassigned as the Assistant Secretary of the General Staff for the Office of the Assistant Commandant and Chief of Staff, where he served through May 1983.  He was reassigned in June 1983, as the Senior Marine Aide to the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

From August 1985 until June 1986, Libutti attended the National War College, Washington, D.C.  Following graduation, he was assigned as the Executive Officer of 1st Marine Regiment at Camp Pendleton, California.  He was reassigned as the Commanding Officer of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion until October 1987, when he was promoted to colonel and designated as the Commanding Officer, Contingency MAGTF 1-88 and deployed to the Middle East for the “Tanker War“.

Returning to Camp Pendleton in May 1988, Libutti served as the Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, 1st Marine Division.  He commanded the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in August 1988 until July 1990.  The following month, he was reassigned to the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and also served as the Military Assistant to the Presidential Emissary to Hanoi for POW/MIA issues and participated in high level trips to Hanoi for negotiations on the POW/MIA issues with Vietnam.  While serving in this capacity, he was selected for promotion to brigadier general and was promoted in March 1992.

Libutti was then assigned as the Commander, Forward Headquarters Element/Inspector General of the United States Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, in July 1992.  The following month he was designated Commanding General, Joint Task Force Provide Relief, which provided emergency airlift of food to Somalia and Kenya.  From 1994 to 1996 he assumed the duties as Commanding General, 1st Marine Division.  Before retiring, Libutti served as the Commanding General, III Marine Expeditionary Force/Commander, Marine Corps Bases Japan until June 8, 1999, he then retired from the Marine Corps in 2001.

After his military career, he served as New York City Police Department‘s Counter Terrorism Bureau, Deputy Police Commissioner, and oversaw the Department of Homeland Security‘s intelligence operations as Undersecretary for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection.  In September 2005, he was Chairman & CEO of Digital Fusion, a computer engineering and technology firm, in Huntsville, Alabama.  Digital Fusion merged with Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. in December 2008.

Currently, Libutti focuses on Renaissance Global Services’s environmental restoration, energy efficiency operations and strategic security solutions. His philosophy is rooted in family and supporting the efforts of veterans.


Fred Smith

Frederick Wallace Smith the founder, chairman, president, and CEO of FedEx, was born in Marks, Mississippi on August 11, 1944.

Fred was crippled with bone disease as a child but regained his health by age 10, and became an excellent football player.  He was also interested in flying and got his pilot’s license by the age of 15.  After graduating from high school at Memphis University School, he was accepted into Yale University.

In 1962, while attending Yale University, he wrote a paper for an economics class, outlining overnight delivery service in a computer information age; the paper became the idea of FedEx.  Fred became a member and eventually the president of the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity and the Skull and Bones secret society, where he becomes friends with George W. Bush and John Kerry, who also shared an enthusiasm for aviation with Fred.

Upon graduation, Fred received a bachelor’s degree in economics and was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving for three years (from 1966 to 1969) as a platoon leader and a forward air controller (FAC), flying in the back seat of the OV-10.

He served two tours of duty in Vietnam, flying with pilots on over 200 combat missions. He was honorably discharged in 1969 with the rank of Captain, having received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts.  While in the military, Fred carefully observed the military’s logistics system and made note of the procurement and delivery procedures, allowing him to fine-tune his dream for an overnight delivery service.  He credits the Marine Corps with teaching him how to treat others and how to be a leader; two valuable lessons FedEx was built on.

On June 18, 1971, Fred founded Federal Express with his $4 million inheritance, and raised $91 million in venture capital.  In 1973, the company began offering service to 25 cities, and it began with small packages and documents and a fleet of 14 Falcon 20 (DA-20) jets. Fred’s focus was on developing an integrated air-ground system, which had never been done before.  He developed FedEx on the business idea of a shipment version of a bank clearing house where one bank clearing house was located in the middle of the representative banks and their representatives would be sent to the central location to exchange materials.

In the early days of FedEx, Fred had to go to great lengths to keep the company afloat. In one instance, after a crucial business loan was denied, he took the company’s last $5,000 to Las Vegas and won $27,000 gambling on blackjack to cover the company’s $24,000 fuel bill: keeping them afloat for one more week.

Fred has served on the boards of several large public companies, as well as the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Mayo Foundation boards.  He was formerly chairman of the Board of Governors for the International Air Transport Association and the U.S. Air Transport Association.  He served as chairman of the U.S.-China Business Council and is the current chairman of the French-American Business Council.  He is a member of the Aviation Hall of Fame.   Fred was named as Chief Executive magazine‘s 2004 “CEO of the Year”; the 2006 Person of the Year by the French-American Chamber of Commerce and was appointed as co-chairman with Senator Bob Dole of the U.S. World War II Memorial Project.

In addition to FedEx, Fred is also a co-owner of the Washington Redskins NFL Team and owns or co-owns several entertainment companies, including Dream Image Productions and Alcon Films (producers of the Warner Bros. film Insomnia starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams).

In 2000, Fred made an appearance as himself in the movie Cast Away, when Tom Hanks‘ character is welcomed back, which was filmed on location at FedEx’s home facilities in Memphis, Tennessee.

In March 2014, Fortune Magazine ranked him 26th among the list of “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”.



John Glenn

John Herschel Glenn Jr. was born on July 18, 1921, in Cambridge, Ohio.  After graduating from New Concord High School in 1939, Glenn studied engineering at Muskingum College.  He earned a private pilot license to receive credit in a physics course in 1941.  He didn’t complete his senior year of residence or take a proficiency exam, both required by the school for its Bachelor of Science degree. Muskingum awarded John his degree in 1962, after he completed the Mercury space flight.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and brought the United States into World War II, Glenn quit college to join the Army Air Corps.  He was never called to duty, so he joined the U.S. Navy as an aviation cadet in March 1942.  Glenn attended the University of Iowa for pre-flight training and continued at Naval Air Station Olathe in Kansas, where he made his first solo flight in a military aircraft.  During advanced training at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, he accepted an offer to transfer to the Marine Corps.

Glenn flew 57 combat missions in World War II, earning two Distinguished Flying Crosses and ten Air Medals.  He volunteered for service during the occupation in North China.  During the Korean War he flew 63 combat missions and was nicknamed “Magnet Ass” because of his ability to attract enemy flak (an occupational hazard of low-level close air support missions); he returned twice to base with over 250 holes in his plane.  He flew with Ted Williams as his wingman.  Before going to Korea, Glenn applied for an inter-service exchange position with the Air Force to fly the F-86 Sabre jet, in June 1953 he reported for duty with the 25th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, and flew 27 combat missions in the F-86 Sabre; shooting down three MiG-15s.  For his service in Korea he received two more Distinguished Flying Crosses and eight more Air Medals.

After Korea, Glenn reported to the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River.  He tested the FJ-3 Fury, which almost killed him when the cockpit depressurized and the oxygen system failed.  He also tested the Vought F7U Cutlass and F8U Crusader.  On July 16, 1957, he made the first supersonic transcontinental flight.  At that time, the transcontinental speed record was held by an Air Force Republic F-84 Thunderjet, at 3 hours 45 minutes.  Glenn calculated that the F8U Crusader could do it faster; he flew 2,445 miles from Los Alamitos, California to Floyd Bennett Field in New York City.  His flight time was 3 hours, 23 minutes and 8.3 seconds, averaging supersonic speed despite three in-flight refuelings when speeds dropped below 300 miles per hour.  The on-board camera took the first continuous, transcontinental panoramic photograph of the United States.  Glenn received his fifth Distinguished Flying Cross for this mission, and he was promoted to lieutenant colonel on April 1, 1959.

While he was on duty at Patuxent and in Washington, Glenn began reading everything he could about space, as part of research by the newly formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  In 1958, NASA began a recruiting for astronauts.  Glenn barely met the requirements; he was near the age cutoff of 40 and lacked a science-based degree at the time, but he was on a list of 110 test pilots who met the minimum requirements.  In 1959 Glenn selected and assigned to the NASA Space Task Group at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.  The task force moved to Houston in 1962, and became part of the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center.

On February 20, 1962 the Friendship 7 flight launched, the 40 year old, Glenn into space, making him the first American to orbit the Earth; the third American in space, and the fifth human in space, making him a national hero and iconic figure in history.  On February 23, 1962, President Kennedy awarded Glenn with the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.   After meeting with the President, his fame and political potential were noted and he remained a close friend to the Kennedy family.

With talks of advancing plans to lunar landings, in the future.  Glenn realized that he was the oldest member of the astronaut corps and would be close to 50 years of age by the time the lunar landings took place, it was unlikely that he would be selected for Project Apollo missions, he resigned from NASA on January 16, 1964, and announced his Democratic Party candidacy for the U.S. Senate from his home state of Ohio the following day.  On February 26 he received a concussion from hitting his head on a bathtub, and withdrew his candidacy.  He went on convalescent leave with the Marine Corps until a full recovery, which was required for his retirement.  He retired as a colonel on January 1, 1965, and became an executive with Royal Crown Cola.  In 1974, Glenn ran again for an Ohio Senate seat and defeated Howard Metzenbaum with a 54 to 46 percent win, launching a Senate career that would continue until December 1998.

In 1998 Glenn helped found the John Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy at Ohio State University to encourage public service.  In February 2015, it was announced that the school would become the John Glenn College of Public Affairs.

Glenn was in good health for most of his life and retained a private pilot’s license well into his 80s, until it was too difficult to get into the cockpit due to knee problems.  In June 2014, Glenn underwent successful heart valve replacement surgery at the Cleveland Clinic.  In early December 2016, he was hospitalized at James Cancer Hospital of Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.  Glenn died on December 8, 2016, at the OSU Wexner Medical Center; he was 95 years old.  No cause of death was disclosed.  There was a memorial service at Mershon Auditorium at Ohio State University.  His body was interred at Arlington National Cemetery on April 6, 2017

Glenn’s military decorations include six Distinguished Flying Crosses; eighteen Air Medals; Presidential Unit Citation; Navy Unit CommendationPresidential Medal of Freedom; Congressional Space Medal of Honor; NASA Distinguished Service Medal; NASA Space Flight Medal; Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal; China Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; WWII Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Korean Service MedalRepublic of Korea Presidential Unit CitationUnited Nations Korea MedalKorean War Service Medal.


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Ichabod Crane

Ichabod B. Crane, was born on July 18, 1787, in Elizabethtown, New Jersey (now Elizabeth, NJ).  He is the second son of Army Brigadier General William H. Crane and brother to Commodore William M. Crane.
Ichabod was a career military officer for 48 years, first joining the United States Marine Corps in 1809, at the age of 22, he was commissioned a second lieutenant, assigned to the USS United States, a 44-gun frigate commanded by Commodore Stephen Decatur.  Crane served aboard the United States for two years and then resigned from the Marines in April 1812, to accept a commission in the United States Army as a captain in command of Company B, 3rd Artillery; the unit designation would later be Battery B, 1st Artillery (today’s 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery).

During the War of 1812, Crane served on the Niagara Frontier.  He was assigned command of an artillery battery at Fort Pike, which he helped construct, in Sackets Harbor, New York, and was involved with the capture on April 27, 1813, of Fort York, and at the end of May 1813 the capture of Fort George in Canada.  While capturing Fort George, a joint British-Canadian force attacked the American positions at Sackets Harbor in the Second Battle of Sacket’s Harbor.

Crane continued to serve in the Northern Department after the war.  In 1820 his company was transferred to Fort Wolcott in Newport, Rhode Island where Crane served as the fort’s commander.

In 1825 he was brevetted to major in the 4th Artillery and was transferred to Fort Monroe, Virginia.  In 1832 Crane led five companies of troops in the Black Hawk War and received a promotion to lieutenant colonel in the 2nd Artillery in November 1832, and was then transferred to the Buffalo Barracks in Buffalo, New York.  Crane commanded the 2nd Artillery unit in the Second Seminole War (1835–1842) and acted as Commander of the U.S. Army District of Northeast Florida.  Fort Crane, built in January 1837, south of Rochelle, Florida, in Alachua County, was named after Crane.  After service in Florida, he and his unit were transferred back to the Buffalo Barracks.

During the “Patriot War” in 1838, an insurrection against British rule in Canada, Crane was tasked with preventing U.S. involvement of smuggling arms across the border.

In mid-1843 he received his final promotion to colonel and was given command of the 1st Artillery.  Company L and Company M, of the 1st Artillery,  were assigned to Fort Umpqua in southwest Oregon.  During a visit there Crane employed a young Umpqua Indian named Juan as a personal valet.  Juan died on December 27, 1856, in Staten Island, and is buried with Crane and his wife.

Crane was stationed in Washington D.C. in 1851 and was given an additional assignment as acting governor of the Military Asylum at Washington, D.C., a position he held until November 1853.  He also served a post commander of Governors Island, an island in New York Harbor approximately one-half mile south of lower Manhattan.

Crane and his wife Charlotte (May 25, 1798 – September 25, 1878) had a house built in the New Springville, a section of Staten Island, New York in 1853, while he was still on active duty.  Crane died four years later, in October 1857 at the age of 70; he was still on active duty.  He is buried in Asbury Methodist Cemetery, in New Springville Staten Island.

His grave marker bears the inscription: “He served his country for 48 years and was much beloved and respected by all who knew him.”

It’s believed that the character featured in Washington Irving‘s short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow“, was named after Colonel Crane.  Irving met Crane in 1814 at Fort Pike located on Lake Ontario in Sackets Harbor, New York.  Irving was an aide-de-camp to New York Gov. Daniel D. Tompkins, who was inspecting defenses in the Sackets Harbor area.  Crane’s unusual and memorable first name Ichabod comes from the biblical name of the grandson of Eli the High Priest and son of Phinehas.
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Leon Spinks

Spinks vs Ali


Leon Spinks is an Olympic gold medalist, World Heavy Weight Boxing Champion, and U.S. Marine.  He was born on July 11, 1953, in St. Louis, Missouri.  He dropped out of high school, making it to the 10th grade before joining the Marine Corps, in 1973.  The undisciplined 20-year-old didn’t adjust well to military structure and frequently fought with his drill instructors.   His boot camp experience lasted six months, because he was recycled during training.

Eventually, Spinks made peace with his new life, graduated boot camp and joined the All-Marine boxing team.  Within seconds of Spinks stepping into the ring for the first time as a Marine Corps boxer in the Area II gym aboard Camp Lejeune, coach J.C. Davis knew he had a rising star.

At the 1974 World Games in Cuba, Spinks captured the bronze medal as a light heavyweight.  He collected the silver the following year at the Pan-American Games, then won the light heavyweight gold medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada.

By 1976, he was arguably the best amateur boxer in the world, wining all but seven of his fights and registering 133 knockouts over a three-year period.

Corporal Spinks was discharged from the Marine Corps and made his professional boxing debut on January 15, 1977, in Las Vegas, knocking out Bob Smith in the fifth round for the victory.  He was 6-0-1 as a pro and had boxed just 31 rounds when he got the call to fight his boyhood idol, Muhammad Ali.

Ranked as one of the greatest upsets in boxing history, Spinks won the undisputed world heavyweight championship from Ali with a 15-round split decision on February 15, 1978.

Just two months later, Spinks was stripped of the World Boxing Council title for refusing to defend his belt against the No. 1 contender, Ken Norton.  Spinks, who still retained his World Boxing Association crown, chose to fight Ali again for a bigger payday, but the rematch didn’t go like the earlier fight; Ali showed up in top shape and beat Spinks in a 15-round unanimous decision.

For Spinks, there were other losses that came outside the ring, the former champion clouded his training with drugs and alcohol, which led to him losing an estimated $5 million in winnings.

Spinks initially retired in 1988 and took a job as greeter at National Football League coach Mike Ditka‘s restaurant in Chicago.  Financial problems forced his return to the ring in 1991.  Finally, in 1995, a weathered and beaten Spinks hung up his gloves for good with a professional record of 26 wins, 17 losses and three draws.

Spinks’s monetary troubles continued after his final retirement.  For a period, the former champ was homeless and living in a shelter.  He later found work as a weekend custodian at the YMCA in Columbus, Nebraska, while battling the onset of dementia and suffering from a traumatic brain injury because of his years in the ring causing him to slur his words.

During the 1990s, Spinks worked for Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, winning its world title in 1992, making him the only man to hold titles in both boxing and wrestling.  In the late 1990s, Spinks was a headliner on a year long touring autograph show.

In 2009 Spinks was featured as part of the 2009 documentary Facing Ali, in which notable former opponents of Ali speak about how fighting Ali changed their lives.

As of 2012, Spinks lives in Columbus, Nebraska, with his wife, Brenda, and his service dog, a black lab named “Sammy.”

In April 2016, Spinks was inducted in the Marine Corps Boxing Hall of Fame, at a ceremony held at Goettge Memorial Field House on Camp Lejeune.

Three of Spinks’s sons have followed him into the ring, including his youngest, Cory, who was born just days after his father’s upset of Ali and went on to become a light-middleweight and welterweight champion.

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Chesty Puller

Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller was born on June 26, 1898 in West Point, Virginia.  His father was a grocer who died when Chesty was 10 years old.  He grew up listening to old veterans’ tales of the Civil War and idolizing Stonewall Jackson.  He wanted to enlist in the Army to fight in the Border War with Mexico in 1916, but he was too young and his mother wouldn’t give parental consent.

The following year, Chesty attended the Virginia Military Institute but left in August 1918 as World War I was still ongoing.  He was inspired by the 5th Marines at Belleau Wood He enlisted in the Marine Corps as a private and attended boot camp at the MCRD, Parris Island.

He never saw action in World War I, but the Marine Corps was expanding, and after graduating from recruit training he attended non-commissioned officer school and Officer Candidates School (OCS) at Quantico, Virginia.  He graduated from OCS on June 16, 1919 and was appointed a second lieutenant in the reserves.  With the end of WWI, the Corps experienced a quick reduction in force from 73,000 Marines to 28,500 Marines (only 1,100 officers and 27,400 enlisted).  Chesty was put on inactive status and given the rank of corporal.

Soon after, Corporal Puller received orders to serve in Haiti.  While the United States was working under a treaty with Haiti, he participated in over forty engagements during the next five years against the Caco rebels and attempted to regain his commission as an officer twice.  During his time in Haiti, in 1922, he served as an adjutant to Major Alexander Vandegrift.

On March 6, 1924, he returned stateside and was finally recommissioned as a second lieutenant.  He was then assigned at Marine Barracks in Norfolk, Virginia, The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, and with the 10th Marine Artillery Regiment in Quantico, Virginia, Marine Barracks in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in July 1926 and in San Diego, California, in 1928.

In December 1928, Puller was assigned to the Nicaraguan National Guard detachment, where he was awarded his first Navy Cross for actions from February 16 to August 19, 1930, when he led “five successive engagements against superior numbers of armed bandit forces.”  He returned stateside in July 1931 and completed the year-long Company Officers Course at Fort Benning, Georgia.  He then returned to Nicaragua from September 20 to October 1, 1932, and was awarded a second Navy Cross.  Chesty led American Marines and Nicaraguan National Guardsmen into battle against Sandinista rebels in the Sandino Rebellion near El Sauce on December 26, 1932.

After his service in Nicaragua, Chesty was assigned to the Marine detachment at the American Legation in Beijing, China, commanding a unit of China Marines.  He then went on to serve aboard USS Augusta, which was commanded by Captain Chester W. Nimitz. Chesty returned to the States in June 1936 and was assigned to instructor duty at The Basic School in Philadelphia.

In May 1939, he returned to the USS Augusta, as the commander of troops for the Marine detachment.  They headed back to China in May of 1940 and he served as the executive officer and commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, until August 1941.  Major Puller returned to the U.S. on August 28, 1941.  After a short leave period, he was given command of 1st Battalion, 7th Marines (1/7) of the 1st Marine Division, stationed at New River, North Carolina.

Early in the Pacific theater the 7th Marines formed the nucleus of the newly created 3rd Marine Brigade and arrived to defend Samoa on May 8, 1942.  Later they were redeployed from the brigade and on September 4, 1942, they left Samoa and rejoined the 1st Marine Division at Guadalcanal on September 18, 1942.

Soon after arriving on Guadalcanal, Chesty led his battalion in a fierce action along the Matanikau, in which his quick thinking saved three of his companies from annihilation.  The three companies were surrounded and cut off by a larger Japanese force.  Chesty ran to the shore, signaled the USS Ballard (DD-267)and then directed the Ballard to provide fire support while landing craft rescued his Marines.  U.S. Coast Guard Signalman First Class Douglas Albert Munro was the Officer-in-Charge of the group of landing craft and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.  To date Munro is the only Coast Guardsman to receive the decoration. Chesty was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V”.

Later on Guadalcanal, Chesty was awarded his third Navy Cross, in what was later known as the “Battle for Henderson Field“.  He commanded 1st Battalion 7th Marines (1/7), one of two American infantry units defending the airfield against a regiment sized Japanese force.  The 3rd Battalion of the U.S. Army’s 164th Infantry Regiment (3/164) fought alongside the Marines.  In a firefight on the night of October 24–25, 1942, lasting about three hours, 1/7 and 3/164 sustained 70 casualties; the Japanese force suffered over 1,400 killed in action, and the Americans held the airfield. He nominated two of his men (one being Sgt. John Basilone) for Medals of Honor.  He was wounded himself on November 9, 1942.

Chesty was then assigned to be the executive officer of the 7th Marine Regiment.  While serving in this capacity at Cape Gloucester, he was awarded his fourth Navy Cross for overall performance of duty between December 26, 1943, and January 19, 1944.  During this time, when the battalion commanders of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines (3/7) and later, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (3/5), were under heavy machine gun and mortar fire, he reorganized the battalion and led the successful attack against heavily fortified Japanese defensive positions.  He was promoted to Colonel effective February 1, 1944, and by the end of the month had been named commander of the 1st Marine Regiment.  In September and October 1944, Puller led the 1st Marine Regiment into the Battle of Peleliu, one of the bloodiest battles in Marine Corps history; it was here that he received his first of two Legion of Merit awards.  The 1st Marines under his command lost 1,749 out of approximately 3,000 men, but these losses did not stop him from ordering frontal assaults against the well-entrenched enemy.  The Commandant of the Marine Corps, (General Alexander Vandegrift) had to order the Commanding General (Major General William H. Rupertus) of 1st Marine Division to pull the 1st Marine Regiment out of the battle.

Chesty returned to the United States in November 1944 and was assigned as the executive officer of the Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Lejeune and two weeks later he became the Commanding Officer.  After the war, he was made director of the 8th Reserve District at New Orleans, and later commanded the Marine Barracks at Pearl Harbor.

At the outbreak of the Korean War, Chesty was again assigned as commander of the First Marine Regiment.  He participated in the landing at Inchon on September 15, 1950, and was awarded the Silver Star Medal and was awarded his second Legion of Merit for his leadership from September 15 through November 2.  He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross from the U.S. Army for heroism in action from November 29 to December 4, and he was awarded his fifth Navy Cross for heroism during December 5–10, 1950, at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.  It was during that battle that he said the famous line, “We’ve been looking for the enemy for some time now. We’ve finally found him. We’re surrounded. That simplifies things.”

In January 1951, Chesty was promoted to brigadier general and assigned as the assistant division commander of 1st Marine Division.  On May 20, 1951, he became the commanding officer of the 3rd Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California until January 1952, and was then assistant commander until June 1952.  He then took over Troop Training Unit Pacific at Coronado, California and in September of 1953, he was promoted to major general.

In July 1954, Chesty took command of the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina until February 1955 when he became deputy camp commander.  He suffered a stroke, and with 37 years of service he was retired from the Marine Corps on November 1, 1955 with a tombstone promotion to lieutenant general.

Chesty is the most decorated Marine in American history.  He is one of two U.S. servicemen to be awarded five Navy Crosses and with the Distinguished Service Cross awarded to him by the U.S. Army, his total of six stands only behind Eddie Rickenbacker‘s eight times receiving the nation’s second-highest military award for valor.

Chesty passed away on October 11, 1971 at the age of 73, in Hampton, Virginia.  He was an Episcopalian and parishioner of Christ Church Parish and is buried in the historic cemetery next to his wife Virginia Montague Evans, who passed away in 2006, at the age of 97.

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