Dr. Jerome Karle, Manhattan Project scientist and Nobel laureate, died on June 6. Honored with the 1985 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Dr. Karle and his colleague Herbert Hauptman developed X-ray crystallography, a technique now commonly used by scientists to identify the complex shapes of molecules such as proteins.
Working at the Naval Research Laboratory after World War II, Dr. Karle and Dr. Hauptman used beams of X-rays bouncing off the crystallized form of a molecule to “see” the arrangement of the atoms. The images reveal the structure of biological molecules, giving scientists critical information about the chemical behavior of molecules in the body. Identifying the structure of a specific molecule allows researchers to develop drugs targeted to treat illnesses. Click here to read more about the role of X-ray crystallography in the discovery of the structure of DNA.
Dr. Jerome Karle with his wife, Dr. Isabella Karle. Both retired from the Naval Research Laboratory in 2009. (The Washington Post file photo)
I have some spare time so I will drop you a line. I haven’t gotten any mail for the last three days. I don’t know what the hold up is. But I’ll get a letter to-morrow I hope.
I have been out all day. I didn’t do much but I’ve completed another day. The days seem so long and lonesome. I guess it is because I am always thinking of the good old U.S. I know how good the states looked to Dad after the last war. The American flag means a whole lot to me. I am glad that when I do come home I can say I have a share in it. That is more than some people can say. I hope my son doesn’t ever have to go through what I have and will go through. I am going to have a son when I come back home. That’s what I am fighting for. It may be a girl but I’ll think as much of a Daughter as I would a son.
I have been a Pfc. for more than a year now. But there are no openings so there isn’t much use of hoping to make a rating. But I’ll be satisfied if I can do my Job.
Well I’ll have to say “cherries.” I guess Dad knows what that means. Good nite and God Bless all of you.
Lots of Love & Kisses Your Son
Darrel “Happy’ Neil was killed in action on July 7, 1944, in France. Read his story and others at www.mymemorialday.org.
Seventy Louisiana students spent the week of June 10, 2013 at the University of Maryland competing in the 2013 National History Day Contest. They brought with them their research papers, documentaries, exhibits, performances, and web sites. These finalists earned their trip by qualifying at the Louisiana State History Day Contest held at The National WWII Museum in April. After spending months researching, designing and perfecting their projects, Louisiana’s student delegation arrived ready to defend their work in front of panels of judges from universities, Smithsonian Institutions, and the National Archives.
At the Awards Ceremony on Thursday, June 13, Renee Trepagnier from Catholic School of Pointe Coupee in New Roads, LA learned that her exhibit, The Americans with Disabilities Act: The Turning Point to Equality, Justice and Civil Rights placed tenth in the nation in her category and won the “Outstanding Louisiana Entry” award. Renee’s finish was the highest ever for a Louisiana student.
In between their interviews, the students traded their commemorative Louisiana History Day pins for the pins from 56 other affiliates in an attempt to collect a complete set. Seven Louisiana students managed to complete the complete set by tracking down the elusive NHD-China, West Virginia, and North Dakota Buttons.
On Wednesday, June 12, Julia Vanchiere, Victoria Brooks and Ben Maxey from Loyola College Prep in Shreveport, LA brought their exhibit, The Vaccination of America, to the National Museum of American History for the NHD Exhibit Showcase. Julia, Victoria, and Ben spent the day talking to visitors from all over the world and handing out brochures describing the history of vaccination and how it became a turning point in world history. The students were then invited by Smithsonian curators to go “behind the scenes” to view more artifacts on vaccination history.
Following the awards, students from John Quincy Adams Middle School in Metairie, LA and Andrew Jackson Middle School in Chalmette, LA received invitations to the public launch of Founders Online. This new web site from the National Archives offers users the ability to search and view the entire collection of papers of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison.
The 2014 National History Day season begins now with the theme “Rights & Responsibilities in History.”
Renee Trepagnier finished 10th in the nation with her exhibit, "The Americans with Disabilities Act: The Turning Point to Equality, Justice, and Civil Rights"
Julia Vanchiere at the National Museum of American History with her exhibit, "The Vaccination of America"
Naima Mohadi shows off her pin collection
Ellicot Hall's 5th Floor served as Louisiana's home base at the University of Maryland. The students left their mark in the form of commemorative pins on the bulletin boards.
The Awards Ceremony always begins with banners, props and, in the case of Louisiana, a two-legged crawfish
An exhibit on the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans by Riley Bordelon, Brooke Glaser, and Nick Morel
The great grandson of the Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest, General Nathan Bedford Forrest III was killed in action when he went down with his B-17 over Germany. He reportedly stayed behind the controls until the last of the crew was able to evacuate, but was not able to get out before the plane exploded. Sadly, all but one crew member perished in the water before rescue. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Forrest was the last of the family line and had no children. Sources list him as the first American General killed in action in the war in Europe.
Memorial to the 394th regimental I&R Platoon of the 99th Division at Lanzerath, Belgium. On 16 December, 1944, these GIs held up the lead elements of Kampfgruppe Peiper for nearly a day, inflicting hundreds of German casualties, and delaying the German spearhead of the Ardennes offensive.
Oral History: The I&R Platoon of the 99th Infantry Division at the Battle of the Bulge
The 99th Infantry Division’s Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, also known as the I&R Platoon tell the story of how the 18 lightly armed men held off the spearhead of Kampfgruppe Peiper for over 8 hours at Lanzerath, Belgium during the opening stages of the Battle of the Bulge – the ultimate David versus Goliath story of World War II.
Esther Williams, like many stars of her time, traveled for bond rallies, USO shows and hospital visits to troops, but despite her appearances, her likeness may have logged more miles than she ever could in person.
Esther (due in part to the abundance of photos of here in swimwear) was a popular pin-up already when two buddies in the Royal Australian Navy exchanged a forged, signed photo of the “bathing beauty.” The photo eventually became a prize that was distributed from one ship to another in a new naval tradition and was the source of great esteem to the ship who possessed it. The original photo was retired after traveling an estimated 4,000 nautical miles (copies are still in circulation and Ms. Williams herself was known to send authentic signed copies to ships that had garnered the “Esther Williams Trophy”).
Williams continued her “military service” after the war when, allegedly, she was inspired when she heard that the WAVES were issued a less-than-supportive swimsuit as part of their uniform. She personally modeled a version that was a significant improvement for the Secretary of the Navy, who immediately placed an order for 50,000 suits.
06:36, H-hour, D-Day+ 69 years. We travel to the Vierville draw, where A company, 116th regiment, 29th division came ashore at this precise moment 69 years ago today. Everyone reflects on the sacrifice of these young men in a moment of silence which is gently broken by ‘Amazing Grace’ played on the bagpipes. Simply breathtaking.
June 12, 1944 – Due to a last-minute alteration in the arrangements, I didn’t arrive on the beachhead until the morning after D-day, after our first wave of assault troops had hit the shore.
By the time we got here the beaches had been taken and the fighting had moved a couple of miles inland. All that remained on the beach was some sniping and artillery fire, and the occasional startling blast of a mine geysering brown sand into the air. That plus a gigantic and pitiful litter of wreckage along miles of shoreline.
Submerged tanks and overturned boats and burned trucks and shell-shattered jeeps and sad little personal belongings were strewn all over these bitter sands. That plus the bodies of soldiers lying in rows covered with blankets, the toes of their shoes sticking up in a line as though on drill. And other bodies, uncollected, still sprawling grotesquely in the sand or half hidden by the high grass beyond the beach.
That plus an intense, grim determination of work-weary men to get this chaotic beach organized and get all the vital supplies and the reinforcements moving more rapidly over it from the stacked-up ships standing in droves out to sea.
In this column I want to tell you what the opening of the second front in this one sector entailed, so that you can know and appreciate and forever be humbly grateful to those both dead and alive who did it for you.
June 16, 1944 – I took a walk along the historic coast of Normandy in the country of France.
It was a lovely day for strolling along the seashore. Men were sleeping on the sand, some of them sleeping forever. Men were floating in the water, but they didn’t know they were in the water, for they were dead.
On the beach lay, expended, sufficient men and mechanism for a small war. They were gone forever now. And yet we could afford it.
We could afford it because we were on, we had our toehold, and behind us there were such enormous replacements for this wreckage on the beach that you could hardly conceive of their sum total. Men and equipment were flowing from England in such a gigantic stream that it made the waste on the beachhead seem like nothing at all, really nothing at all.
June 17, 1944 – In the preceding column we told about the D-day wreckage among our machines of war that were expended in taking one of the Normandy beaches.
But there is another and more human litter. It extends in a thin little line, just like a high-water mark, for miles along the beach. This is the strewn personal gear, gear that will never be needed again, of those who fought and died to give us our entrance into Europe.
Here in a jumbled row for mile on mile are soldiers’ packs. Here are socks and shoe polish, sewing kits, diaries, Bibles and hand grenades. Here are the latest letters from home, with the address on each one neatly razored out – one of the security precautions enforced before the boys embarked.
Here are toothbrushes and razors, and snapshots of families back home staring up at you from the sand. Here are pocketbooks, metal mirrors, extra trousers, and bloody, abandoned shoes. Here are broken-handled shovels, and portable radios smashed almost beyond recognition, and mine detectors twisted and ruined.
Here are torn pistol belts and canvas water buckets, first-aid kits and jumbled heaps of lifebelts. I picked up a pocket Bible with a soldier’s name in it, and put it in my jacket. I carried it half a mile or so and then put it back down on the beach. I don’t know why I picked it up, or why I put it back down.
Soldiers carry strange things ashore with them. In every invasion you’ll find at least one soldier hitting the beach at H-hour with a banjo slung over his shoulder. The most ironic piece of equipment marking our beach – this beach of first despair, then victory – is a tennis racket that some soldier had brought along. It lies lonesomely on the sand, clamped in its rack, not a string broken.
Two of the most dominant items in the beach refuse are cigarets and writing paper. Each soldier was issued a carton of cigarets just before he started. Today these cartons by the thousand, water-soaked and spilled out, mark the line of our first savage blow.
Writing paper and air-mail envelopes come second. The boys had intended to do a lot of writing in France. Letters that would have filled those blank, abandoned pages.
Always there are dogs in every invasion. There is a dog still on the beach today, still pitifully looking for his masters.
He stays at the water’s edge, near a boat that lies twisted and half sunk at the water line. He barks appealingly to every soldier who approaches, trots eagerly along with him for a few feet, and then, sensing himself unwanted in all this haste, runs back to wait in vain for his own people at his own empty boat.
US Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-New Jersey), the last remaining WWII veteran serving in the Senate, passed away at the age of 89, leaving behind only two WWII veterans in the US House of Representatives: Ralph Hall (R-Texas) and John Dingell (D-Michigan).
Lautenberg was the final member among 115 US senators who had served in the military during WWII.
The son of Russian and Polish immigrants who came to the United States through Ellis Island, Lautenberg served in the Army Signal Corps in Europe, then attended Columbia University through the G.I. Bill. A successful businessman, he developed one of the largest computing services firms in the world.
“The death of Sen. Lautenberg does indeed mark the passing of an era. He and other World War II veterans in Congress were a special group, one with a bond that allowed them to reach across party lines as they faced our nation’s toughest challenges,” said Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, the Museum’s President and CEO. “They believed deeply in the American Spirit – what makes this country different.”
Just last year there were three WWII veterans in the Senate, but that number has rapidly declined to zero with the death of Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), a Medal of Honor recipient, and the retirement of Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), and now the death of Sen. Lautenberg.
Mueller said the World War II veterans serving in Congress “were a very modest group by and large,” slow to call attention to their individual wartime deeds. But several hundred veterans who served in Congress, or in other high-ranking federal positions, were determined to effect positive change in America and around the world, he said. The service of each of these individuals, in war and in peacetime, is highlighted in a searchable exhibit in the Museum’s recently opened US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.
“They went through the most cataclysmic and horrific war in human history – something that changes your life,” Mueller said. “They realized how close we came to losing everything we held dear. They understood the lessons of the war and they came back to build this country.”
These are the individuals who preserved cherished freedoms at a time of great peril – who did much to preserve civilization and democracy and hope around the world.
Lautenberg’s death also reinforces a sense of urgency at The National WWII Museum as it seeks completion of its New Orleans campus. The “Road to Victory” capital campaign will allow the Museum to tell, in compelling and innovative ways, the full story of the American Experience in WWII – while members of this generation are still here to see and appreciate this tribute.
In this Aug. 2, 2012 file photo, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., walks in the Capitol after the final votes before a five-week recess, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
On June 1, 1943, British actor, Leslie Howard, was killed when his plane, traveling from Lisbon to England, was shot down by German aircraft over the Bay of Biscay. All 17 persons on board were killed.
Theories abound as to why the plane was attacked – ranging from mistaken identity (Howard’s traveling companion bore a resemblance to Winston Churchill and Howard to one of Churchill’s bodyguards, also Churchill was known to be traveling from North Africa during that same period), to intelligence or espionage connections (Lisbon was a hotbed of espionage and Howard was rumored to have ties to British intelligence), to a grudge by Goebbels against Howard (who was very active in British anti-Nazi propaganda campaigns).
Regardless of the cause, the loss of Howard at only the age of 50 was tragic. His talents as a stage and screen actor continue to live on in legendary roles in Gone with the Wind, Pygmalion, Of Human Bondage and many others.
As a footnote, Howard’s death was reported in the same edition of The London Times that included the death of Major William Martin, a man who never actually existed, but played a major role in Operation Mincemeat.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world - why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today - so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.