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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 On 16 February I was in a six-plane flight of Mark 5 Spitfires that encountered about twelve ME 109s in the region between Orvieto and Perugia, about sixty-five miles north of Rome. Our six-plane flight was in line-astern formation, with the planes about fifty feet apart and stepped to the right and down, slightly, so the pilots can easily see the planes ahead of them. I was leading the last two-plane element of the flight, and Bob Confer, a veteran of the North African Campaign was my wingman.
Note: by Robert C. Curtis, 2nd Sq., 52nd Fighter Group  9107 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Vietnam As a member of the 377th Combat Security Police at Tan Son Nhut, Viet Nam, during Tet 1968, I worked a bunker several towers down from the 051 Bunker at Gate 051. Tan Son Nhut gates were numbered, 051, 055, 057, etceteras. It's Tet '68, and my combat experience was zip, and Charlie wanted to kick-ass right into my bunker.
Note: by Den Cook  7488 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I In November 1915 I was one of those accepted by Colonel Lord Feversham to be enlisted in the Yeoman Rifles being formed at Helmsley Park. In January 1916 the battalion was transferred to Aldershot, where we became fit for our great adventure. Runners were asked for, and I volunteered for the job.
Note: by Corporal Robert William Iley, 41st Battalion Machine Gun Corps   7039 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Vietnam Any other time, the scenery would be described as beautiful. The perfectly aligned rows of rubber trees in the Michelin Rubber Planation appeared as a giant formal garden of some English Lord's Manor. The towering trees rose thirty feet or more; and as they reached for the sun, they created a strange environment under their carpet of leaves. Occasionally you would see underbrush, but for the most part, just well maintained rubber trees yielding their thick, dirty, milk-gravy sap which seemed to crawl as it moved from the tap into the container.
Note: by Edward J. Domaleski Jr., 25th Infantry Division  8413 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II A week or so before the December 31, 1943, mission, my crew, the Mendelsohn crew, was breaking apart. Our navigator, Bill Borellis, was promoted to the exalted position of 91st Bomb Group navigator; our bombardier, Harold Fox, (later to be killed in action over Hamburg) had applied for special training as a navigator and was leaving the crew, and the pilot, Stuart Mendelsohn, had been designated, but not yet officially installed, as the new operations officer of the 324th squadron. And I had just been checked out as first pilot and was about to take over what remained of our original crew.
Note: by Verne Woods, 91st BG  15777 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II As the time for the attack on Hitler's Europe approached, General Omar Bradley gathered in Exeter in southern England, the officers of the U.S. divisions that were to make the assault landings in Normandy. Bradley's purpose, no doubt, was to let us meet the man who would command the American ground forces.
Note: by John C. Ausland  8079 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II Our gun batteries were equipped with M7 track vehicles in the States, long before we deployed overseas! The M105 howitzers were mounted on the M7 with very minor modifications, and very little addtional training was needed, other than the driver and assitant driver, for this new and unique addition to the 29th. All of the other crew responsiblities remained essentially the same as if it were a trail drawn howitzer.
Note: by Irving Smolens, B Bty, 29th Field Artillery  9924 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II 8/9/44 Mission #1 Flew our 1st mission today, 34 to go. They woke us at 1:50 am. Briefing time 3:00 am. So we knew it was pretty sure to be a long one. Had pineapple juice, fresh egg, hotcakes, sausage, cold cereal, coffee. Target Schmitt ball bearing works, Nurnberg.
Note: by First Lieutenant Andrew K. Norman  8104 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Vietnam It seems like yesterday that I was graduating from the Infantry Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Just a year earlier my friend Don and I were walking down the street checking out girls and cars like we did everyday after junior college classes.
Note: by Tim Lickness   7679 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  7288 Reads  Printer-friendly page



POW If I had known what was in store for me on the day I was captured, and the 802 days that followed, I would have continued to fight, even though there was no chance of survival. The damaged weapons carrier slid to a halt, and we piled up against the cab. The noise was deafening and we could have been yelling at each other but I don't remember hearing anything but the noise of the mortar rounds.
Note: by SFC George Matta, Sr.  8882 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I It was a hot, sunny day, the tenth of June, the year Nineteen Eighteen, that I voluntarily answered the call of my country, which was then plunged into the greatest and most terrific war mankind has ever known. I enlisted at Camp Beauregard, and through the kindness and assistance of a friend of my sister's, Sergeant Whitmel Reed, was assigned to the Intelligence Section, Headquarters Company, 156th Infantry Regiment, 39th Division. A few days after my arrival I was equipped in olive drab, and soon made a full fledged soldier of "Uncle Sam".
Note: by Pvt. Mathew Chopin, 356th Inf., 89th Div.  10488 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Civil War Headquarters Department Northeastern Virginia, Arlington, VA, August 4, 1861. Colonel:
I have the honor to submit the following report of the battle of the 21st of July, near Manassas, Va. It has been delayed till this time from the inability of the subordinate commanders to get earlier a true account of the state of their commands.
Note: by Brigadier General Irvin McDowell  13199 Reads  Printer-friendly page



War of 1812

Buffaloe November 27, 1812
My Dear Wife,
It is with a degree of satisfaction I inform you of my health and the greatest part of the Company. Tomorrow at 7 o'clock we embark for Canada - consequently it will be liberty or death - You must excuse me for not writing you more as I am officer of the day and guard both, therefore, I am obliged through necessity to wright at 12 o'clock to night.

Note: During Ens. Warner's tour of duty he wrote letters home to his wife, five of which have been preserved. From these letters one may follow Ens. Warner's progess from Baltimore, through Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to the shores of Lake Ontario. From camp at Sacketts Harbor, Warner's unit proceeded to the Battle of York (now known as Toronto), the capitol of Upper Canada, fought in late April, 1813. Under the leadership of the adventurous Brigadier General Zebulon Pike, for whom Pike's Peak is named, the American forces scored a victory, but lost their General, killed in battle.

After that battle, Warner's unit apparently re-crossed Lake Ontario to camp outside Fort Niagara and presumably later participated in the taking of Fort George from the British.
  7488 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  18733 Reads  Printer-friendly page

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This Day in History
1863: Confederate President Jefferson Davis names General Joseph Johnston commander of the Army of Tennessee.

1864: The Battle of Nashville concludes with a Union victory.

1904: Japanese warships quit Port Arthur in order to cut off the Russian Baltic fleets advance.

1940: British troops carry out an air raid on Italian Somalia.

1944: The Germans launch the last major offensive of the war, Operation Mist, also known as the Ardennes Offensive and the Battle of the Bulge, an attempt to push the Allied front line west from northern France to northwestern Belgium. The Battle of the Bulge was the largest fought on the Western front.

1950: The U.S. 24th Infantry Division received the Distinguished Unit Citation (now the Presidential Unit Citation) for "extraordinary heroism in combat against a numerically superior enemy." The division, commanded by Major General William F. Dean, by then a prisoner of war, was the first U.S. division to enter the Korean War.

1950: In the wake of the massive Chinese intervention in the Korean War, President Harry S. Truman declares a state of emergency.

1965: Gen. William Westmoreland, Commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam, sends a request for 243,000 more troops by the end of 1966.

1998: The United States launches a missile attack on Iraq for failing to comply with United Nations weapons inspectors.