20 Amazing Vintage Photographs of American Troops During World War I

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It was 100 years ago this year that the United States officially entered World War I, when Congress voted to declare war on Germany on April 6, 1917.

After more than two years of trying to remain neutral, the U.S. under President Woodrow Wilson joined Allied Powers Britain, France, Italy and Russia against the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey.

From the start of the war in 1914 to its bitter end in 1918, an estimated 17 million people — civilian and military — had died. About 4.7 million Americans, who either volunteered or were drafted, served in the war and about 53,000 died in action. After devastating losses on all sides, the Allies and Germany signed an armistice on Nov. 11, 1918.

These stark images released nearly a century after the end of the war show U.S troops keeping watch in the trenches, injured on the battlefield and arriving back home after the fighting was over.

Continue onto Vintage to see more pictures of our troops.

The National WWII Museum Honors WWII Women Air Force Service Pilot Bernice “Bee” Haydu

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Bee Haydu

The National WWII Museum in New Orleans has awarded Bernice “Bee” Falk Haydu — WWII WASP (Women Air Force Service Pilot) — its 2018 Silver Service Medallion. The award is given to veterans and those with a direct connection to World War II who have served our country with distinction and continue to lead by example.

The Medallion was bestowed during a June 8 luncheon as part of the Museum’s annual American Spirit Awards, presented by Hancock Whitney. Along with Haydu, the Silver Service Medallion was presented to WWII veteran Lt. General Victor “Brute” Krulak USMC (Ret.) — who received the award posthumously — and his son, Vietnam veteran Gen. Charles C. Krulak USMC (Ret.), past Commandant of the Marine Corps and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Bee Haydu has been a champion of advancing the WASP legacy as the first women to fly military aircraft in the US Army Air Force during World War II. During the war, Haydu completed a seven-month training program and was on track to fly B-25s, but the WASP were disbanded in December 1944, prior to the war’s end. She is a member of the Aviation Hall Fame and her original WASP uniform is on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

As President of the WASP organization from 1975 to 1978, Haydu led the fight in Congress to acknowledge the WASP as veterans of World War II, as had been promised. And she won: President Jimmy Carter signed a bill in November 1977 recognizing WASP as WWII veterans.  In 2009, she witnessed President Barack Obama sign a bill into law awarding the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal.

Haydu has also been awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2014 and an Honorary Doctorate Degree by the Vaughn College of Aeronautics in Flushing, New York, in May 2015. She’s the author of “Letters Home 1944-1945: Women Air Force Service Pilots, World War II,” which includes letters she wrote to her mother during the war.

Her passion for flying continued even after the WASP run ended, and she went on to become a flight instructor, owner of a Cessna dealership and even part-owner of a flight school. She and her late husband, Joseph Haydu—also a pilot—continued to fly into their late 70s and owned 28 different types of planes.

“Bee Haydu is an American hero and aviation pioneer who served our country with distinction and honor during World War II,” said Stephen J. Watson, President & CEO at The National WWII Museum. “She and her fellow Women Air Force Service Pilots broke gender barriers in the military and became role models for the generations of women that followed. We were proud to present her with the Silver Service Medallion for all that she has accomplished.”

The American Spirit Awards recognizes individuals who best exemplify the outstanding qualities of the American spirit, including teamwork, optimism and determination. It is a multiday celebration that culminates in a formal awards gala on the Museum’s campus. Proceeds from the American Spirit Awards support educational programming at The National WWII Museum, including the ongoing development of classroom materials and professional-development opportunities for teachers in schools across the country, as well as online experiences that bring the Museum and its resources to students around the world.

Sailor Spotlight! Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth NuNez-Orona

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Elizabeth NuNez-Orona

LEMOORE, Calif.- A 1999 Katella High School graduate and Anaheim, California, native is currently serving with a U.S. Navy strike fighter squadron, which flies one of the world’s most advanced warplanes.

Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth NuNez-Orona is an aviation ordnanceman with the Kestrels of VFA 137, which operates out of Naval Air Station Lemoore. A Navy aviation ordnanceman is responsible for maintaining the weapons systems on the aircraft and uploading and downloading ordnance on the aircraft.

“Growing up I was taught that you have to hustle,” NuNez-Orona said. “You have to work for what you want, and nothing is free. It’s the same in the Navy.”

Members of VFA 137 work with the F/A 18 Super Hornet, one of the most advanced aircraft in the world. The Super Hornet takes off from and lands on Navy aircraft carriers at sea and is capable of conducting air-to-air combat as well as striking targets on land. It is approximately 61 feet long, has a loaded weight of 51,000 lbs., and a max speed of 1,190 miles per hour.

Operating from sea aboard aircraft carriers, the Super Hornet gives the Navy the power to protect America’s interests anywhere, at any time. The versatile jet has the ability to destroy targets located hundreds of miles inland, without the need to get another country’s permission to operate within its borders.

“Strike Fighter Wing, U. S. Pacific Fleet, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, is the heart of Naval Aviation,” said Capt. James S. Bates, Deputy Commodore, Strike Fighter Wing, U.S. Pacific. “The sailors assigned to SFWP always exceed expectations and produce amazing results through team work and dedication to their department, squadron, the U.S. Navy and their family. Naval Aviation is a challenging occupation, but our sailors work day in and day out to provide fully mission capable aircraft and fully qualified aircrew to ensure leadership is able to answer national level tasking. I am humbled to be able to lead the sailors of SFWP and I am proud to call Lemoore my home.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, NuNez-Orona and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“I am looking forward to mentoring the sailors within this command,” said NuNez-Orona. “I retire in a year, so I want to make sure I leave something good behind.”

NuNez-Orona is proud of receiving a Volunteer Service Medal for cleaning up Kings County and helping youth ministries in the Lemoore area.

“Serving in the Navy means preserving our rights and freedoms,” NuNez-Orona said. “It means giving back to a country that gave my parents a good opportunity when they came here from Mexico.”

Source: outreach.navy.mil

D-Day: How technology helped win the Normandy invasion and World War II

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Courage. Devotion. Duty.

They are the words most often used to describe the brave Allied troops who landed on Normandy 74 years ago and helped win World War II.

Not to be forgotten, though, is this word: Technology.

World War II was won not just with courage, devotion and duty, but with American and British technological advances that gave Allied troops the upper hand in many facets of battle.

The most famous and fearsome: the Manhattan Project atomic bombs that led to the surrender of the Japanese in 1945. But there were many others.

Radar helped the Allies know what was coming at them from the enemy.

Bombsights employing complicated gyroscope technology allowed planes to pinpoint bomb attacks. Before World War II, pilots simply dropped bombs by hand and hoped for the best.

Nylon, the synthetic material invented by DuPont for women’s stockings, was used to make parachutes, glider tow ropes, aircraft fuel tanks and flak jackets, according to Smithsonian magazine. Some people dubbed it “the fiber that won the war.”

But one of the most crucial bits of technology, the one that helped the Allies launch the surprise attack on Normandy, was the hull of a boat — the Higgins boat.

You have probably seen pictures of this hulking nautical miracle, the one that carried troops right onto Normandy’s beach.

It was built by a wily, hard-drinking inventor named Andrew Higgins, the man Dwight D. Eisenhower once credited with winning World War II.

“It is Higgins himself who takes your breath away,” Raymond Moley, a former FDR adviser, wrote in Newsweek in 1943. “Higgins is an authentic master builder, with the kind of will power, brains, drive and daring that characterized the American empire builders of an earlier generation.”

Continue onto the Washington Post to read the complete article.

Flag Day—Celebrating America’s Freedoms

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American Flag

“That the flag of the United States shall be of thirteen stripes of alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white in a blue field, representing the new constellation.” This was the resolution adopted by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The resolution was made following the report of a special committee which had been assigned to suggest the flag’s design.

A flag of this design was first carried into battle on September 11, 1777, in the Battle of the Brandywine. The American flag was first saluted by foreign naval vessels on February 14, 1778, when the Ranger, bearing the Stars and Stripes and under the command of Captain Paul Jones, arrived in a French port. The flag first flew over a foreign territory in early 1778 at Nassau, Bahama Islands, where Americans captured a British fort.

Observance of the adoption of the flag was not soon in coming, however. Although there are many claims to the first official observance of Flag Day, all but one took place more than an entire century after the flag’s adoption in 1777. The first claim was from a Hartford, Conn., celebration during the first summer of 1861.

In the late 1800s, schools all over the United States held Flag Day programs to contribute to the Americanization of immigrant children, and the observance caught on with individual communities.

The most recognized claim, however, comes from New York. On June 14, 1889, Professor George Bolch, principal of a free kindergarten for the poor of New York City, had his school hold patriotic ceremonies to observe the anniversary of the Flag Day resolution. This initiative attracted attention from the State Depar tment of Education, which arranged to have the day observed in all public schools thereafter. Soon the state legislature passed a law ma king it the responsibility of the state superintendent of public schools to ensure that schools hold observances for Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial = Day and Flag Day. In 1897, the governor of New York ordered the displaying of the flag ov er all public buildings in the state, an observance considered by some to be the first official recognition of the anniversary of the adoption of the flag outside of schools.

Another claim comes from Philadelphia. In 1893, the Society of Colonial Dames succeeded in getting a resolution passed to have the flag displayed on all of the city’s public buildings. Elizabeth Duane Gillespie, a direct descendant of Benjamin Franklin
and the president of the Colonial Dames of Pennsylvania, that same year tried to get the city to call June 14 Flag Day. Resolutions by women were not granted much notice, however, and it was not until May 7, 1937, that Pennsylvania became the first state to establish the June 14 Flag Day as a legal holiday. Flag Day is a nationwide observance today, but Pennsylvania is the only state that recognizes it as a legal holiday.

Bernard J. Cigrand, a school teacher in Waubeka, Wisconsin, reportedly spent years trying to get Congress to declare June 14 as a national holiday. Although his attempts failed, the day was widely observed. “Father of Flag Day” honors have been given to William T. Kerr, who was credited with founding the American Flag Day Association in 1888 while still a schoolboy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Both President Wilson, in 1916, and President Coolidge, in 1927, issued proclamations asking for June 14 to be observed as the National Flag Day. But it wasn’t until August 3, 1949, that Congress approved the national observance, and President Harry Truman signed it into law.

Source: va.gov

Memorial Day: 5 things you didn’t know about the holiday

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Memorial Day 2018

Read up on five interesting things to consider while we’re gathering, celebrating, and paying respects the men and women who died serving this country. Many Americans see Memorial Day as an opportunity to relax in the yard, gather with friends, or plan a weekend getaway — and it very much is. But at the same time, it’s important that we never lose sight of the day’s significance.

With that in mind, here are five interesting things to consider while we’re gathering, celebrating, and paying respects the men and women who died serving this country.

#1. We’re all aware that Memorial Day is a day of remembrance, but Congress has also established an exact minute of remembrance. The National Moment of Remembrance Act, which was adopted in December of 2000, encourages every citizen to pause each Memorial Day at 3:00 p.m. local time to remember the brave men and women who died serving this country. In addition to any federal observances, Major League Baseball games usually come to a stop during the Moment of Remembrance, and for the past several years, Amtrak engineers have taken up the practice of sounding their horns in unison at precisely 3:00 p.m.

#2. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Memorial Day is celebrated in late May because that’s when flowers are likely to be blooming across the country. It was Union General John A. Logan who — after serving in the Mexican-American War and Civil War — proposed that Congress institute May 30th as Decoration Day (the predecessor to Memorial Day) to allow citizens to decorate the graves of deceased veterans with fresh flowers. (It’s also believed that Logan settled on the date because it wasn’t already the anniversary of any significant battles.)

#3. The Ironton-Lawrence Memorial Day Parade in Ironton, Ohio, is recognized as the oldest continuously running Memorial Day parade in the nation, beginning all the way back in 1868. However, the oldest (and first) Memorial Day parade in the country was held a year earlier in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. (It’s also worth noting that both the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., and the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade in Queens, N.Y., bill themselves as the largest Memorial Day parades in the nation.)

#4. “Taps,” the bugle call typically performed at military funerals as well as the annual Memorial Day wreath ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, was actually adapted from a separate Civil War bugle call known as “Scott Tattoo,” which was used to signal lights out. The new melody later became the preferred accompaniment at military funerals after Captain John Tidball of the Union Army alert nearby Confederate troops to their location.

#5. Despite rising gas prices, AAA estimates that 41.5 million people will be traveling on Memorial Day weekend, with 36.6 million of them traveling by car and clogging up the freeways. Leaving a little earlier on Thursday won’t help to ease drivers’ burdens, either: Transportation analysts working with AAA say drivers will be experiencing the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday and Friday, and “congestion across a greater number of days,” in general, “than in previous years.”

Source: Fox News

Anaheim, CA native serves aboard one of the U.S. Navy’s first “Stealth Ships”

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BATH, Maine – A 2010 Colton High School graduate and Anaheim, California, native is serving as part of the Pre-Commissioning Unit for the future Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116).

Fireman David Bernal is assigned to DDG 116 in Bath, Maine. As a fireman Bernal is responsible for maintenance of the ship’s electrical distribution systems. “I enjoy the camaraderie with the sailors in the division that I work in,” said Bernal.

DDG 116 is currently undergoing tests and trials in preparation for delivery to the U.S. Navy from shipbuilder Bath Iron Works. Arleigh Burke class destroyers measure approximately 500 feet long and are powered by four gas turbines that allow the ship to achieve over 30 mph in open seas. Destroyers are tactical multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and ballistic missile defense, as well as humanitarian assistance. Fast, maneuverable, and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required warfighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute a variety of missions.

“Thomas J. Hudner Jr., a naval aviator who retired as a captain, received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman for displaying uncommon valor during an attack on his element leader, the first African American naval aviator to fly in combat, Ensign Jesse L. Brown,” said Cmdr. Nathan W. Scherry, commanding officer, PCU Thomas Hudner. “On 07 May 2012, Secretary Mabus announced that DDG 116 will be named in Captain Hudner’s honor. Today, as the Navy’s finest 300 Sailors crew the 66th Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer, they do so with a tremendous amount of honor, pride, and sense of duty. We are extremely honored to be able to carry Captain Hudner’s values and legacy forward so that they are never forgotten. We are proud to be able to carry out our missions in defense of our country’s freedom and values, and humbled to be part of the Hudner family.”

Bernal has carried lessons learned from his hometown into his military service.

“Growing up, I learned the values of hard work and taking with you as much as you can from your job so you can move on to the next chapter in your life,” said Bernal.

With a crew of over 300 sailors, each crew member’s job is important to the smooth operation of the ship. The jobs range from weapon handling to navigation.

Bernal has military ties with family members who have previously served and is honored to carry on the family tradition.

“My older brother served in the Marines for five years and did a tour in Afghanistan,” said Bernal. “I’m proud to carry on his name doing my part serving in the military.”

Bernal’s proudest accomplishment was graduating boot camp.

“We had several dropouts in my division throughout the eight-week course. Completing boot camp gave me the confidence needed to know I can complete anything in life I set my mind to,” added Bernal.

Close living conditions build strong fellowship among the crew, Navy officials explained. The crew is highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s newest ships, Bernal and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“Serving in the Navy means being a part of something bigger than myself,” said Bernal. “I have a great sense of pride and honor serving my country, and it makes my family proud.”

The construction of the ship is over 98% complete. The ship is scheduled for commissioning in late 2018 in Boston, Mass. For more information about the commissioning, visit usshudnerddg116.org.

By Ricky Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach

Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Miller

Best Places to Travel for Memorial Day

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Memorial Day

Memorial Day is celebrated in remembrance of military service members who have died in the line of duty. It was originally called Decoration Day, as the holiday was centered on decorating the graves of those who had fallen in the Civil War. Even if you don’t attend a Memorial Day ceremony this year, join others around the nation and pause for one minute in an act of national unity to thank fallen service members for our freedom. Set an alarm for 3 pm (your local time) on Monday, May 28th. Everyone in the nation is asked to hold one minute of silence in their respective time zones to remember those who gave their lives for our country.

From Fleet Week to Air and Sea Shows, there is a lot to do and see nationwide on Memorial Day this year.

WASHINGTON, D.C.
✪✪Attend the National Memorial
Day Parade, the largest in the
country.
✪✪Honor our veterans at the
Rolling Thunder Motorcycle
Rally.
✪✪Attend and salute our veterans
at PBS’s National Memorial Day
Concert on May 27, 2018, free of
charge on the West Lawn of the
U.S. Capitol.
✪✪Pay respect at the National Mall
or visit the National World War
II Memorial, Vietnam Veterans
Memorial, Vietnam Women’s
Memorial or the Korean War
Veterans Memorial.
✪✪On Sunday, May 27, a free
National Memorial Day Choral
Festival at the Kennedy Center
features a 300-voice choir
accompanied by the U.S. Air
Force Orchestra. Request tickets
in advance.

MIAMI, FL
✪✪Attend the Air & Sea Show, the
National Salute to America’s
Heroes, May 26–27. The event
showcases men, women,
technology and equipment from
all five branches of the United
States military as well as police,
firefighters and first responder
agencies. See civilian aerobatic
acts, offshore powerboat racing
demonstrations, extreme water
sports and more.

PHOENIX, AZ
✪✪Join the 4th Annual Star
Spangled Celebration! Enjoy
the fireworks display, memorial
candles ceremony, live music,
water play area, bounce houses
and the Arizona Cardinals
football toss.
✪✪Watch the 9th Annual Cave
Creek Balloon Festival on May
26. Find more information at
visitarizona.com.

NEW YORK, NY
✪✪See the Little Neck-Douglaston
Parade in Queens, followed
by Brooklyn’s Memorial Day
Parade (over 150 years old),
or the Manhattan’s Soldiers’
and Sailors’ Memorial Day
Observance, or the Inwood’s,
Staten Island’s and the Bronx’s
Memorial Day Parades.
✪✪Enjoy Fleet Week, now in its
30th year, May 23–29. More
than 2,100 members of the U.S.
Navy, Marines and Coast Guard
to participate this year, with
numerous exhibits, military
band concerts, and aviation
events throughout the week.

CHARLESTON, SC
✪✪The annual Atlantic Cup starts
May 26, kicking off Memorial
Day weekend in Charleston. The
Atlantic cup is a Class 40 sailing
race that starts in Charleston
and ends in Brooklyn, New
York.
✪✪The 2018 Spoleto Festival USA
runs May 25 to June 10. The
yearly festival brings art, music,
theatre, dance, opera, and more.

Yorba Linda native is part of Navy’s “Silent Service”

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Jonathon Rossman

PEARL HARBOR – A Yorba linda, California, native and 2012 Esperanza High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard one of the world’s most advanced nuclear-powered submarines, USS Greeneville .

Petty officer 1st class Jonathon Rossman works as a machinist’s mate (nuclear) serving aboard the Pearl Harbor-based submarine, one of 56 fast-attack submarines in the U.S. Navy.

A Navy machinist’s mate (nuclear) is responsible for the maintenance and repair of propulsion related equipment on a submarine.

Jobs are highly varied aboard the submarine. Approximately 130 men and women make up the submarine’s crew, doing everything from handling weapons to maintaining nuclear reactors.

Attack submarines are designed to hunt down and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships; strike targets ashore with cruise missiles; carry and deliver Navy SEALs; carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions; and engage in mine warfare. Their primary tactical advantage is stealth, operating undetected under the sea for long periods of time.

“Our submarine teams are small, elite, and rely heavily on extraordinary individual performance,” said Rear Adm. Daryl L. Caudle, commander, Submarine Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “It is no surprise that our sailors continue to set the standard for excellence, and the country continues to be well served by their service and sacrifice. I couldn’t be more proud to lead this professional fighting force.”

According to Navy officials, because of the demanding environment aboard submarines, personnel are accepted only after rigorous testing and observation. Submariners are some of the most highly trained and skilled people in the Navy. Regardless of their specialty, everyone has to learn how everything on the ship works and how to respond in emergencies to become “qualified in submarines” and earn the right to wear the coveted gold or silver dolphins on their uniform.

Rossman also has military ties with family members who have previously served and is honored to carry on the family tradition.

“My dad was in the Air Force and was kind of influential in my joining the military,” said Rossman.

Challenging submarine living conditions build strong fellowship among the elite crew, Navy Officials explained. The crews are highly motivated and quickly adapt to changing conditions.  It is a busy life of specialized work, watches and drills.

“Service to country is important to me,” added Rossman. “Being in the Navy accomplishes that for me.”

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Erica R Gardner, Navy Office of Community Outreach.  Photo By Mass Communication Specialist First Class Jesse Hawthorne.

 

WWII Navajo Code Talker Roy Hawthorne Sr. dies in Arizona at 92

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Navajo Code Talker Roy Hawthorne, who used his native language as an uncrackable code during World War II, died Saturday.

At 92, he was one of the last surviving Code Talkers.

Hawthorne was 17 when he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and became part of a famed group of Native Americans who encoded hundreds of messages in the Navajo language to keep them safe from the Japanese. Hawthorne served in the 1st Marine Division in the Pacific Theatre and was promoted to corporal.

The code was never broken.

“The longer we live, the more we realize the importance of what we did, but we’re still not heroes — not in my mind,” Roy Hawthorne said in 2015.

But Hawthorne’s son, Regan Hawthorne, said Monday his father leaves a proud legacy.

“They went in out of a sense of duty and a spirit of responsibility to their country,” Regan Hawthorne said, adding he didn’t know about his father’s military service until he was in his 20s.

“I grew up not knowing my dad was a Code Talker. He never talked about it, didn’t see the need to talk about it,” he said.

The Code Talkers believed they were just doing their job, he said, and shied away from receiving accolades for their service.

“When we read about the effect the Navajo Code had on shortening the war because of its effectiveness, we think about the guys who did that,” Regan Hawthorne said. “(But) they’re simply humble men who performed what they sensed to be a duty to protect all they cherished.”

He said his father and other Code Talkers returned home from the war and “simply came back to work and went back to making a life.”

As of 2016, there were about a dozen Code Talkers still living. The exact number of Code Talkers is unknown because their work was classified for years after the war ended.

Continue onto AZ Central to read the complete article.

Tammie Jo Shults, who landed crippled Southwest plane, was one of first female fighter pilots in U.S. Navy

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tammie jo shults

The pilot who coolly landed a Southwest Airlines plane after one of the jet’s engines failed and torpedoed shrapnel through a window midflight has gone against the odds before.

Identified by The Associated Press as Tammie Jo Shults, she wasted no time steering the plane into a rapid descent toward safety when chaos broke out shortly after takeoff from New York — maintaining her composure even as passengers reported from the cabin that a woman had been partially sucked out of a shattered window.

“We have part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit,” she’s heard calmly telling air traffic controllers in audio transmissions after reporting the aircraft’s engine failure.

“Could you have medical meet us there on the runway as well? We’ve got injured passengers,” Shults then requests.

A air traffic controller asks her if her plane is on fire, to which Shults calmly replies: “No, it’s not on fire, but part of it’s missing. They said there’s a hole, and — uh — someone went out.”

One passenger was killed, and seven others suffered minor injuries, authorities said. But many say the toll on Dallas-bound Flight 1380, which had 149 people aboard, would have been much higher had it not been for Shults’ quick thinking during her emergency landing in Philadelphia.

“Most of us, when that engine blew, I think we were pretty much going, ‘Well, this just might be it,'” said passenger Peggy Phillips, from Brandon, Texas. “To get us down with no hydraulics and a blown engine and land us safely is nothing short of miraculous to me. She’s a hero, for sure.”

A 1983 graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas, Shults, 56, received her degree in biology and agribusiness, said Carol Best, a spokeswoman for the university.

Shults then became one of the first female fighter pilots in the U.S. military, according to the alumni group at her alma mater.

Cindy Foster, a classmate of Shults, told The Kansas City Star that when Shults enlisted in the Navy, she encountered “a lot of resistance” because of her gender. She was passionate about flying and dreamed of being in the Air Force, but went to the Navy instead after the Air Force denied her a chance, Foster added.

“So she knew she had to work harder than everyone else,” Foster told the paper. “She did it for herself and all women fighting for a chance.”