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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.

The Patriot Files also supports the largest military usenet archive, military memorial, military website archive, and military news archive online.


Airforce As I sometimes did, when the information for the next day's mission was slow in coming in, I would not call my driver but just get in my car and drive myself around the perimeter track, stopping now and then to talk to the men working on the planes. Of course, everything was blacked out. To drive we used a mere slit of light from the car's headlights to see the road.
Note: by Joseph A. Moller, Commanding Officer, 390th Bomb Group  7995 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I July 20, 1918
My own beloved wife
I do not know how to start this letter. The circumstances are different from any under which I ever wrote before. I am not to post it but will leave it in my pocket, if anything happens to me someone will perhaps post it.
Note: by Company Sergeant-Major James Milne.  6803 Reads  Printer-friendly page



POW In July of 1944, two of my roommates and myself were asked to join in a tunnel digging project. It seems that the Germans had been seen digging up a seismic type sensor at the fence-line outside of Barracks 6, West Compound and hauling it off for repair. Such sensors were buried all along the perimeter fences and wired into the German “Abwehr” or Security Office in the Vorlager. Thus the Germans were aware of tunnel attempts almost as soon as they were begun.
Note: by Maj. Gen. Luther H. Richmond (USAF Ret.), POW at Stalag Luft I, Barth, Germany  8880 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II Somebody got the bright idea that I should go to a summer camp--- a summer military camp-- in June 1939, conducted by the U. S. Army. In due course I was enlisted/enrolled in the Basic program of the Citizens Military Training Camps at Vancouver Barracks in Vancouver, Washington. That was where my training as an infantry foot soldier began at age 15. We spent 30 days there in Vancouver and underwent intensive basic infantry training provided by soldiers of the Regular Army 3rd Division.
Note: by Charles W. Crary  24004 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Civil War Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia, Sharpsburg, MD, September 18, 1862. Mr. President: On the afternoon of the 16th instant the enemy, who, you were informed on that day, was in our front, opened a light fire of artillery upon our line. Early next morning it was renewed in earnest, and large masses of the Federal troops that had crossed the Antietam above our position assembled on our left and threatened to overwhelm us.
Note: by General Robert E. Lee  7464 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Civil War On the evening of the 8th day of October, 1864, there met on Princesses dock, Liverpool, twenty-seven men. They were nearly unacquainted with each other, and knew nothing of their destination. All were officers of the Confederate navy, by commission or warrant, and each had his distinct order to report to this place at the same hour. My commission was that of assistant surgeon.
Note: by Dr. F. J. McNulty  7918 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Vietnam One night in late '67 at Marine Quang Tri Forward, I was assigned to generator watch. It is very boring to watch a 500kw Buddha generator generate. We had to keep one generator on-line, because the air strip was finished; and we might need the airfield lighting in an emergency. To ease the boredom, I had been watching a praying mantis approach some unremembered insect so slowly. The motion was almost imperceptible.
Note: by Mike Howard  6878 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American U. S. S. POTOMAC,

Caimanera, Cuba, August 23, 1898.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the work done on the wreck of the Maria Teresa since the last inspection made by Lieutenant-Commander Pillsbury, on August 15, 1898.
  6251 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Vietnam On June 6, 1967, the *very* large ammo dump at LZ English cooked off. It took several hours, blowing up one pallet load at a time of a weeks' supply of every class of ammo for the whole 1st Cav Division. We waited it out in a bunker, listening to huge explosions and listening to vast things hurtling through the night air overhead. When we figured it had maybe finally stopped, about 0800 hrs., we stood uncertainly outside our bunker, considering what to do next: survey the damage to tents and vehicles? (Luckily, no casualties in my outfit) Make breakfast, maybe? Then we heard a 2.75" rocket sputtering along the ground like a crazy firework, only nobody could spot it.
Note: by Ted Gittinger   7840 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Civil War General Bragg having evacuated Kentucky, the Federal troops under command of General Rosecrans had been concentrated about Nashville and Bragg's army around Murfreesboro. Only about 25 miles lay between the two armies. So about the last of December Rosecrans advanced on Murfreesboro sufficiently near to offer battle. So on the morning of 31st December we accepted the challenge and at them we went.
Note: by Captain W.P. Howell, 25th Alabama, Company I  9250 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I October 1, 1918 -- Firing and laying around most of the day. Moved up forward during the night and put our guns in position in a sunken road behind Epinay. Raining very hard all night and Fritz was shelling around all night. We had to keep awake all night, Haynecourt Cemetery 5:00
  8013 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Vietnam The next days are spent digging bunkers, filling sand bags and increasing the strength of our perimeter. We string endless lines of concertino wire, drive posts and set out trip flares, claymores and boo gas.( Buried 55 gallon drums that are a mixture of petroleum jelly and gasoline.) Instant crispy critter.
  7150 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Korea In the summer of 1950, I had just completed electronics school in Memphis, TN. I was ordered to Geiger counter school in San Diego, CA. Upon arrival in San Diego, we noticed a high degree of alert and activity at the base. I soon learned of the Korean War and how it would change my life.
Note: by Ed Buckman, VF-193, USS Princeton Task Force 77  10398 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Civil War

Pleasant Valley

October 7, 64

Dear sister

I am yet alive but I have been very sick for the last two weeks with the fever and ague but it is broke on me and I am getting quite smart

Note: by Private Miles B. Hodges, Company A, 22nd New York Volunteer Cavalry  7971 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I The members of my family - that of Richthofen - have taken no very great part in wars until now. The Richthofens have always lived in the country; indeed, there has scarcely been one of them without a landed estate, and the few who did not live in the country have, as a rule, entered the State service. My grandfather and all my ancestors before him had estates about Breslau and Striegau. Only in the generation of my grandfather it happened that the first Richthofen. his cousin, became a General.
Note: by Captain von Richthofen (The Red Baron)  7221 Reads  Printer-friendly page

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This Day in History
1587: In France, Huguenot Henri de Navarre routs Duke de Joyeuses larger Catholic force at Coutras.

1709: Marlborough and Eugene of Savoy take Mons in the Netherlands.

1805: Austrian general Karl Mac surrenders to Napoleons army at the battle of Ulm.

1870: The Summer Palace in Beijing, China, is burnt to the ground by a Franco-British expeditionary force.

1940: German troops reach the approaches to Moscow.

1944: After advancing island by island across the Pacific Ocean, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur wades ashore onto the Philippine island of Leyte, fulfilling his promise to return to the area he was forced to flee in 1942.

1950: In the first airborne operation of the war, 2,860 paratroopers of the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team jumped between Sukchon and Sunchon, 25 miles north of Pyongyang. Far East Air Force C-119s and C-47s transported the assault force and F-80 and F-51 fighters provided air cover.

1952: The destroyer escort Lewis was hit by shore fire off the West Coast of Korea. Seven sailors were killed and one wounded.

1964: Relations between Cambodia, South Vietnam, and the United States reach a low point as Cambodia becomes a sanctuary for Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces.

480: Greeks defeat the Persians in a naval battle at Salamis.