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The Patriot Files is a Library of Congress Veterans History Project Founding Partner web site comprised of first hand accounts of military life and combat, primary source material, as well as image, video, and audio resources.

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World War II The [heavy cruiser USS] Indianapolis [CA-35] had come to the Navy Yard, Mare Island [in San Francisco Bay] in early May 1945, to get heavy underwater damage repaired from a Kamikaze [Japanese suicide aircraft] hit that she took in [the Battle of] Okinawa on 30 March [1945]. We had more time there than anticipated and knew that we were due back in the forward area at the earliest practicable date.
Note: Recollections of Captain Charles B. McVay, III, USN, Commanding Officer of USS Indianapolis (CA-35).  8194 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II Berlin, or Big "B", as we called it, was a target that no one wanted to go to and a target that everyone wanted to go to. It seemed that everyone wanted to participate in a raid on Berlin because bombing big "B" was really striking at the heart of Nazi power and it was, in a way, retribution for the bombing of London, Rotterdam and other major cities.
Note: by A. Willard Reese, 1st Lt, 751st Sqdn, 457th Bmb Grp, 8th AF  10163 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Vietnam Any officers (former or present) that would challenge the contention that relying on "Sarge" was a smart thing to do? I was an NCO during my tour of RVN and occasionally served as platoon sergeant so naturally I agree with the above. Amazed that OCS, ROTC, West Point didn't drive it into the heads of young lieutenants to "listen to experience."
Note: by Craig E. Thompson   7629 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II Seven weeks after the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, the British and Canadian divisions of the Second Army had secured the ancient but totally devastated city of Caen. Their further progress was now being held up by fanatical resistance from Germany's crack Fifth Panzer Army, holding favourable ground to the south and south-east of the city. The time had arrived for Operation Goodwood.
Note: by John Clulow  8067 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Gulf War The mission began as it should, with prayer. Members of our unit and our family and friends assembled at the drill hall on 17th Street in Paducah, Kentucky for a prayer service. It was a time to think about the mission that lay before us the hazards that would be endured. We prayed for the strength to carry out this important mission, as well as for a quick and safe return home.
Note: by Brian Ginn  14015 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II Shortly after joining up we saw this notice on the notice-board looking for volunteers for a "suicide mission." Some brilliant officer had come up with the idea that he would like to form a unit that would go behind the enemy lines at night and blow up the German's tanks while they slept. Imagine that!
Note: by Ronald Arthur Tee, 56th Reconnaissance Regiment, 78th "Battleaxe" Division of the British 1st. Army, 1941-1946.
  7099 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I July 11, 1918
Left Camp Custer
July 21, 1918
Left Camp Mills Sunday morning, 4 o'clock, for depot. Took ferry boat up Hudson River to pier. Stayed in New York harbor until Monday morning 9 o'clock. Sailed with a fleet of 16 boats, some torpedo boats and a lot of submarine chasers. Saw 3 observation balloons out in the ocean anchored on ships. Had calm weather for 5 days - got a little stormy then. Was awful sick the entire trip.
Note: by Paul Rademacher  9855 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II One reason people born after World War II find it difficult to understand why the final days of the war were so destructive is that they do not realize how angry we Allied soldiers had become - and to some extent still are. Once our forces crossed the Rhine, it was clear that Germany was doomed. But Hitler, in his madness, vowed to fight on. Generals and admirals, whatever they thought, supported him. Soldiers and sailors continued to fight in the misguided belief that they were defending their fatherland.
Note: by John C. Ausland, 29th Field Artillery  9374 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Vietnam My tour as a Helicopter crew chief in South Vietnam was not one to be remembered by anyone other than myself, certainly not a tour that made me a hero in anyone’s eyes nor my own eyes. It was an interesting experience, one marked by extreme excitement at times and one also marked by extreme boredom and tedious monotony.
Note: by Frank Drinkwine, 187th AHC Tay Ninh RVN 9-70 9-71  20738 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Civil War Memarandum of Events of Basil H Messler's term in the U.S. Ser Arrved in Davenport on the 27th day of February. Put up at the Penn. House and took Dinner and then I went to Lieut Walthams Recruiting office and made out My Inlistment papers in Dupicates and then got permistion of a furlow and was examined by Dr Church and pass examination Then got the Agt, to excep them and got an order to go to Camp McClelands. But did not go that evening went to the theater and then returned to the Hotell and took room No 69 in co. with Sergts Grooms & Allsop.
Note: by Basil H. Messler, Mississippi Marine Brigade  16873 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Korea There I was on the port side of a mighty Destroyer the U.S.S. O'Brien, DD725, sailing into the east coast waters of a place called Korea. Seemed to me the place was pretty hilly. As we got closer I noticed a flash of light. Not long after, another. I asked the nearest Chief I could see what that was all about. His reply was " Count to seven, kinda slow "
Note: by Louis "Digger" O'Dell  8215 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I

December 25, 1917: In this book I shall try to tell the important things which happen while I am in the U. S. Army today is Christmas I have had good time have received lots of presents mostly eatables saw a good wild west show would have liked to have been at home today well I suppose that is all except one thing if anything should happen to me please mail this book to mrs Ola Cruzan 1120 Tenny Ave Kansas City Kansas or to Miss Faye M Butler 54 East 32nd St Kansas City Missouri United States of America

Edgar

Note: by Bugler Benjamin Edgar Cruzan, Battery F, 341st Field Artillery, 89th Division, 3rd Army AEF  13113 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Vietnam February 24, 1969
Hi,
Sorry I haven't written in a while. We just got back from an operation yesterday, and it's been a very busy 2 weeks. We went down to a place called Dodge City and there is buku gooks (there). We got choppered in.
Note: By Mike Bailey, 3rd Battalion 1st Marines Mike Company.  7822 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II V-Mail , June 1944:

Dear Mom,
"The O.W.I. has given you more information about the historic D-Day than we could hope to include in one letter.
  6986 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Vietnam Soon after arriving in Viet Nam I saw an OV-10 Bronco. It was love at first sight and I was determined to get a ride in one. Luckily my job as an information officer gave me the opportunity. The ALO (Air Liaison Officer, pronounced "aye lo") assigned to the division flew OV-10s so I tracked the unit down.
Note: by Forrest Brandt  8488 Reads  Printer-friendly page

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This Day in History
1865: President Abraham Lincoln visits the Confederate capital a day after Union forces capture it. Lincoln had been in the area for nearly two weeks.

1917: The U.S. Senate votes 90-6 to enter World War I on Allied side.

1918: The Battle of the Somme ends.

1941: Field Marshal Erwin Rommel captures the British held town of Benghazi in North Africa.

1949: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) treaty is signed.

1951: Far East Air Forces aircraft racked up 1,000 sorties hitting enemy frontline positions and supply areas.

1975: A major U.S. airlift of South Vietnamese orphans begins with disaster when an Air Force cargo jet crashes shortly after departing from Tan Son Nhut airbase in Saigon.