Friday, September 10, 2010

Farragut Navy Reunion 2010

64 years ago, in 1946, Farragut Naval Training Depot was closed and deactivated. By war’s end, 293,381 recruits passed through the base. It was in fact the second largest naval training base in the country. Tomorrow, we once again honor them at the reunion of those that have survived since the wars end.

What many don't know about Farragut, was that in addition to basic training, several technical training battalions were operated from the base, as well as a camp dedicated to returning wounded. The hospital at the Base was the second largest in the country, rivaling even Washington D.C. With it's Bethesda Naval Hospital. One of the more prominent schools was that of the hospital, which trained corpsmen. The Marine Corps doesn't have their own medics and rely on the Navy for those skills.

Accompanying the first wave in the island assaults throughout the pacific, were those corpsmen. Of the many graduates that served, two were awarded the medal of honor and one, the navy cross, second highest award for valor. Fred Faulkner Lester also attended Naval Medical Corps Basic Training at Farragut, Idaho, graduating in December 1943.
Lester was a Navy medical corpsman during the Battle of Okinawa where he earned the Medal of Honor in June 1945. He trained with Company 954 at Camp Ward.

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity and the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Medical Corpsman with an Assault Rifle Platoon, attached to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Marines, 6th Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Okinawa Shima in the Ryukyu Chain, June 8, 1945. Quick to spot a wounded marine lying in an open field beyond the front lines following the relentless assault against a strategic Japanese hill position, LESTER unhesitatingly crawled toward the casualty under a concentrated barrage from hostile machine guns, rifles, and grenades. Torn by enemy rifle bullets as he inched forward, he stoically disregarded the mounting fury of Japanese fire and his own pain to pull the wounded man toward a covered position. Struck by enemy fire a second time before he reached cover, he exerted tremendous effort and succeeded in pulling his comrade to safety where, too seriously wounded himself to administer aid, he instructed two of his squad in proper medical treatment of the rescued marine. Realizing that his own wounds were fatal, he staunchly refused medical attention for himself and, gathering his fast waning strength with calm determination, coolly and expertly directed his men in the treatment of two other wounded marines, succumbing shortly thereafter. Completely selfless in his concern for the welfare of his fighting comrades, LESTER, by his indomitable spirit, outstanding valor and competent direction of others, had saved the life of one who otherwise must have perished and had contributed to the safety of countless others. LESTER’s heroic fortitude in the face of certain death sustained and enhanced the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”
/S/ Harry S. Truman

Robert E. Bush attended Naval Medical Corps Basic Training at Farragut, Idaho, graduating in February 1944. He then continued his training at Farragut, graduating from the Hospital Corps School on or about April 28, 1944.

Bush was a Navy medical corpsman during the Battle of Okinawa and at the age of 18, was the youngest sailor to receive the Medal of Honor during World War II.

These are but a few of the heroic sailors that went forth to do battle for what was the survival of this country. Those still living, and they are getting fewer each year, as most are in their late 80's or even 90's. Those that are with us will join together once again at the annual reunion tomorrow, Saturday, September 11. Ironically, this date has a meaning much like that of WW11's pearl harbor. 9-11 also is a day remembered in infamy.

Veterans and other interested parties are invited to attend the flag raising ceremony at 9:00 am followed by the traditional visit and picnic at Sunrise Day Use
Camp at approximately 10:00 am.

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