Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Memphis Marines Receive New Medals for World War II Service

Posted on Wed, Nov 22, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Seven Memphians who battled the Japanese forces during World War II have been awarded new United States Asiatic Pacific Victory Commemorative Medals. The medals honor Marines “who served with distinction in the Pacific island campaigns against the Imperial Japanese Forces from 1941 through 1945.”

The new medals — authorized by the U.S. Marine Corps — were presented during a special ceremony Tuesday evening at the Marine Corps Reserve Center, 3114 Jackson. The design commemorates “V-J Day” — August 14, 1945, when the Japanese forces formally surrendered and World War II came to an end.

The recipients included:

Frank Glankler — a noted Memphis attorney, as a machine gunner took part in the September 1944 invasion of Peleliu Island. Seriously wounded in action by a mortar barrage.

Otto Melsa — as a member of a Marine combat assault team, saw action in Eastern New Guinea, the islands of Peleliu and Palaus, and Okinawa. After the war, became a full colonel in the Tennessee National Guard.

Claud Wilkins — took part in three different landings on Okinawa. Wounded in action and awarded the Purple Heart. Later became part of the occupational forces that controlled mainland China after the war.

Michael Zingale — After attending photography school, flew in B-24 Liberator bombers and, hanging out an open door, took reconnaissance photos of enemy installations at Guadalcanal, the Philippines, and other Japanese-held islands. After the war, became a noted director during the early days of television.

John A. Winsler — A Tech High graduate, served 28 months in the Pacific Theater, stationed on Guadalcanal and Guam.

Robert M. Landess — A Messick High graduate, took part in the August 1942 invasion of Guadalcanal and was credited with shooting down a Japanese fighter by manning the machine gun on his landing craft. Also saw active duty in the Korean War.

Charles L. Henry Jr. — Took part in the invasions of Tarawa Island, Saipan, and Marshall Islands, and also saw combat on Tinian Island and Guam.

Two medals were presented posthumously to two other Marines: William Fisher, who saw active duty on Guadalcanal and passed away earlier this year, and Charles P. Taliaferro, who fought in the battles of Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian Island, and Okinawa. Taliaferro died on the Fourth of July 2005.

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