100 years ago today, a man from Wichita

Here we see “The Highest Possible Courage,” by John D. Shaw, courtesy of the U.S. National Guard Bureau. It depicts the last moments of 2LT Erwin Russell Bleckley, the first of three National Guard aviators to receive the Medal of Honor during the 20th Century. They gave the medal to his family.

A Wichita bank teller by trade, Bleckly joined the Kansas Guard in June 1917, aged 22, and soon found himself attached to the federalized 130th Field Artillery, which was part of the newly-formed 35th Infantry Division. Volunteering to be seconded as an artillery observer to the 50th Aero Squadron once “Over There” in France, he was in the air in a DH-4 attempting to locate and resupply by air the famous “Lost Battalion,” some 554 men of the 77th Infantry that were trapped by German forces in the Argonne over the first week of October 1918.

Bleckley’s MOH citation:

2d Lt. Bleckley, with his pilot, 1st Lt. Harold E. Goettler, Air Service, left the airdrome late in the afternoon on their second trip to drop supplies to a battalion of the 77th Division, which had been cut off by the enemy in the Argonne Forest. Having been subjected on the first trip to violent fire from the enemy, they attempted on the second trip to come still lower in order to get the packages even more precisely on the designated spot. In the course of his mission the plane was brought down by enemy rifle and machine gun fire from the ground, resulting in fatal wounds to 2d Lt. Bleckley, who died before he could be taken to a hospital. In attempting and performing this mission 2d Lt. Bleckley showed the highest possible contempt of personal danger, devotion to duty, courage, and valor.

As noted by the Guard, “Goettler was dead when the French troops reached him. Bleckley died before the French could evacuate him to a medical aid station. However, his notes from the mission narrowed the search area where the trapped soldiers might be found.”

Of the Lost Battalion, only 194 walked out unwounded after a relief force linked up with them on October 8.

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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