Valérie André is one of the great military aviators of the twentieth century. She was the first woman to fly a helicopter in combat and one of the first three helicopter medevac pilots. Flying more than 150 helicopter rescue missions during the French war in Indochina (including at Dien Bien Phu), and parachuting into the field twice, André was a trailblazer, a pioneer of flying helicopters in combat and an innovator of battlefield medicine, who risked her life to treat the wounded, whether they were French or Vietnamese, whether they were friend, civilian, or foe. [Read more…] about Helicopter Heroine: French General Valerie Andre
Rebels at Sea: Privateering in the American Revolution
Rebels at Sea: Privateering in the American Revolution (Liveright, 2022) by Eric Jay Dolin is the story of the founding of the U.S. Navy during the American Revolution. The story has been told before, yet missing from most maritime histories of America’s first war is the ragtag fleet of private vessels, from 20-foot whaleboats to 40-cannon men-of-war. [Read more…] about Rebels at Sea: Privateering in the American Revolution
Freedom in New York: Chenango County, the Underground RR & US Colored Troops
During Black History Month 2023, I received an email from Jill Mirabito, a longtime resident of Norwich, Chenango County, NY, and Associate Vice President for University Advancement at SUNY Oneonta. The note pertained to the Chenango County Historical Society having honored Benjamin J. Tillett, an African American resident of Norwich during and after the Civil War. He had been a slave in Northeast North Carolina before arriving in Norwich.
In November 1863, Tillett enlisted in the 11th United States Colored Heavy Artillery (also known as the 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery). He returned to Norwich after the war and died there in 1902. Before his death, he had a membership with the E.B. Smith Post, GAR, A Knight Templar of Palestine Commandery, and attended religious services frequently at the local AME Zion Church. The admiration that Tillett received from his adopted residence caught my attention. I was intrigued. [Read more…] about Freedom in New York: Chenango County, the Underground RR & US Colored Troops
Mary Walker: Civil War Heroine, Medal of Honor Winner
In the latest episode of the A New York Minute in History podcast, Devin Lander and Lauren Roberts tell the story of Dr. Mary Walker: physician, heroine of the Civil War, and the only woman in history ever to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Born to progressive parents in Western New York, Walker would defy the odds to become a surgeon, spy for the Union Army during the Civil War, and go toe-to-toe with prominent suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. [Read more…] about Mary Walker: Civil War Heroine, Medal of Honor Winner
Hessians: German Soldiers in the American Revolutionary War
The book Hessians: German Soldiers in the American Revolutionary War (Oxford University Press, 2022) by Friederike Baer takes a look at the thirty thousand German soldiers that Great Britain hired to fight in its war against the American rebels between 1776 and 1783.
Collectively known as Hessians, the soldiers and accompanying civilians, including hundreds of women and children, spent extended periods of time in locations as dispersed and varied as Canada in the North and West Florida in the South. [Read more…] about Hessians: German Soldiers in the American Revolutionary War
Dr. John Swinburne’s Life in Crime, War & Politics
John Swinburne was born May 30, 1820 in Denmark, Lewis County, New York. He attended school in the communities of Lowville and Denmark, and in Fairfield, Herkimer County, all in New York. He was an excellent student and upon completion of his studies, he took a job as a teacher.
In 1841, at the age of 21, he began the study of medicine and in 1843 entered Albany Medical College where he was a student under the tutelage of Dr. James H. Armsby, a founder of the college. He eventually went to work for Dr. Armsby and upon his graduation in 1846, started his own practice. [Read more…] about Dr. John Swinburne’s Life in Crime, War & Politics
Army Base Being Renamed for Albany’s Henry Johnson
Sergeant Henry Johnson, an African-American hero of the First World War from Albany, NY, will officially have Fort Polk in Louisiana renamed in his honor this June. The move comes after Congress authorized the Naming Commission to provide new names for U.S. military bases and other Department of Defense installations originally named after Confederate leaders and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) advocated for the change. [Read more…] about Army Base Being Renamed for Albany’s Henry Johnson
Blauvelt State Park: Rockland County’s Storied Martial History
Blauvelt State Park, in the Rockland County town of Blauvelt has a storied history. At first, it was a facility where members of the New York State National Guard (and the Naval Militia) could practice shooting. It was first used in October 1910, though still under construction at the time. Later on, the site would be called Camp Bluefields (Blauvelt means “blue field” in Dutch), but at this time the facility was known as the Blauvelt Rifle Range. [Read more…] about Blauvelt State Park: Rockland County’s Storied Martial History
Grumman’s Long Island Test Pilot Bruce Tuttle
Jet fighters once roamed the skies above Long Island. Grumman, the aviation powerhouse behind such planes as the Hellcat and the Avenger, turned its attention to jets by the end of the Second World War. And to test those jets, they turned to men like Bruce Tuttle. [Read more…] about Grumman’s Long Island Test Pilot Bruce Tuttle
The Search Continues For A WWII Bomber Lost in Lake Ontario
At the height of World War II, a B-24 Liberator bomber vanished with its crew while on a training mission over Upstate New York. The final hours and ultimate resting place of pilot Keith Ponder and seven other US aviators aboard the plane remain mysteries to this day. [Read more…] about The Search Continues For A WWII Bomber Lost in Lake Ontario