05 January, 2013

Frank Merrill



Frank Dow Merrill was a United States Army general and is best remembered for his command of Merrill's Marauders, officially the 5307th Composite Unit (provisional), in the Burma Campaign of World War II. Merrill's Marauders came under General Joseph Stilwell's Northern Combat Area Command. It was a Special Forces unit modelled on the Chindits' long range penetration groups trained to operate from bases deep behind Japanese lines.

Merrill lived with his family in Amesbury, Massachusetts and graduated from Amesbury High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1922 and earned the rank of staff sergeant in Company A, 11th Engineers.
He received an appointment to West Point in 1925 and he graduated in 1929. Merrill also earned a B.S. in military engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1932. In 1938, Merrill became the Military Attaché in Tokyo where he studied the Japanese language.

He joined General Douglas MacArthur's staff in the Philippines in 1941 as a military intelligence officer. Merrill was on a mission in Rangoon, Burma at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack and remained in Burma after the Japanese invasion.

In 1943, General Merrill was appointed to command a new volunteer U.S. Army special forces unit patterned after the Long Range Jungle Penetration groups formed by the British to harass Japanese forces in Burma. The U.S. Army's official name for the unit was the 5307th Composite Unit “provisional.” Visiting war correspondents, after viewing the 5307th's performance on the firing ranges, promptly dubbed the unit Merrill's Marauders. General Merrill oversaw the training and deployment of the three battalions of the 5307th into Burma in February 1944.

In slightly more than five months of combat behind Japanese lines in Burma, the Marauders, who supported the X Force, advanced 750 miles through some of the harshest jungle terrain in the world, fought in 5 major engagements: Walawbum, Shaduzup, Inkangahtawng, Nhpum Ga, and Myitkyina, and engaged in combat with the Japanese Army on thirty-two separate occasions. Battling Japanese soldiers, hunger, and disease, they had traversed more jungle on their long-range patrols than any other U.S. Army unit of the war.

On March 29, Merrill suffered his first heart attack and command returned to then executive officer, Colonel Charles N. Hunter. In their final mission against the Japanese base at Myitkyina, the Marauders suffered 272 killed, 955 wounded, and 980 evacuated for illness and disease. By the time the town of Myitkyina was taken, only about 200 surviving members of the original Marauders were present.

On August 10, 1944, a week after the town's fall to U.S. and Chinese forces, the 5307th was disbanded with a final total of only 130 combat-effective officers and men (out of the original 2,997).

After the war's end, Merrill served in the Philippines. In early 1946 he was assigned to the headquarters of the 6th Army in San Francisco under General Stilwell. In May of the same year, Merrill and Stilwell led two Marine platoons to suppress a prison uprising at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in what is known as the Battle of Alcatraz.

Due to post war downsizing of the Army, Merrill was reduced in rank to brigadier general on 1 June 1946. He retired from the Army in his permanent rank of colonel on 30 June 1948 and was promoted to brigadier general on the retired list the next day.

After retiring from the Army, Merrill became the New Hampshire Commissioner of Highways. In December 1955 he was elected President of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials but died two days later.

Frank Besson



Frank Schaffer Besson, Jr., was born on May 30, 1910 in Detroit, Michigan. His father was a West Point graduate and an officer in the Corps of Engineers . Frank S. Besson, Jr. In March 1969, General Besson left AMC to become chairman of the Joint Logistics Review Board, formed to review logistic activities in support of the Vietnam War. He retired in July 1970 and was promptly recalled to active duty to establish procedures to implement the board's recommendation. He permanently retired in October 1970. 

While in retirement, General Besson was nominated by President Richard M. Nixon as one of the founding directors of the National Rail Passenger Corporation, which ran Amtrak. He was also director of the Services National Bank in Alexandria and of ECR International. On July 15, 1985, General Besson died of cancer at Walter Reed Army Medical Centergraduated seventh in his class from theUnited States Military Academy in 1932. In 1935, he received a master's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His early career was noted for the role he played in the development of portable military pipelines, steel landing mats for airplanes, and steel treadway bridges. He is credited with the studies leading to the Army 's adoption of the Bailey Bridge, used extensively in all theaters in World War II.

He became Assistant Director of the Third Military Railway Service (with rank of Lieutenant Colonel) in 1943, and was promoted to Director (with rank of Colonel) the following year. As Director of the Third Military Railway Service in Iran from 1944 to 1945, Besson ensured the flow of war materials to the Russian forces through the Persian Corridor. He was promoted to brigadier general, becoming, at 34, the youngest general officer in the Army Ground Forces and Chief of the Railway Division. Toward the end of World War II, he was Deputy Chief Transportation Officer of the Army Forces in the Western Pacific and, when Japan's collapse was imminent, assumed full control of railroads in Japan. During the first year of occupation, General Besson directed the rehabilitation of the Japanese rail system, moving more than 200,000 troops and 150,000 tons of supplies in the first two months.

Subsequent assignments included a tour as Assistant Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), where General Besson formulated logistics plans and overall programs to meet the complex requirements of the fifteen nations of the NATO alliance. His efforts in instituting a system for "costing out" five-year programs, thereby bringing force goals into consonance with available resources, earned him the first Distinguished Service Medal to be awarded at SHAPE headquarters.

General Besson stimulated both military and commercial adoption of containerization and improved water terminal practices. He introduced the roll-on/roll-off technique for the rapid loading and discharge of wheeled and tracked vehicles. He further refined these concepts upon assuming command of the Transportation Center and School at Fort Eustis, Virginia in 1953. General Besson was the Chief of Transportation, U.S. Army from March 1958 until April 2, 1962, when he took charge of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

General Besson was the first Commander of the Army Materiel Command, formed in 1962 during a major Army reorganization. During his command, the mammoth logistical organization, with an annual budget exceeding $14 billion and an inventory of $21 billion, employed more than 160,000 civilian personnel, in addition to its military complement of 14,000. As the first AMC Commander, General Besson was charged with consolidating six Army technical service organizations into a single command without disrupting effective materiel support for the Army. His success resulted in his receiving the Merit Award of the Armed Forces Management Association in 1963. On May 27, 1964, 53-year-old Frank Besson became the 75th officer in the U.S. Army's 189-year history to wear the four stars of a full general. He was the first Army officer to achieve that rank as head of a logistical organization in peacetime.

In March 1969, General Besson left AMC to become chairman of the Joint Logistics Review Board, formed to review logistic activities in support of the Vietnam War. He retired in July 1970 and was promptly recalled to active duty to establish procedures to implement the board's recommendation. He permanently retired in October 1970. While in retirement, General Besson was nominated by President Richard M. Nixon as one of the founding directors of the National Rail Passenger Corporation, which ran Amtrak. He was also director of the Services National Bank in Alexandria and of ECR International. On July 15, 1985, General Besson died of cancer at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Richard Greene


Richard Marius Joseph Greene was a noted English film and television actor. A matinée idol who appeared in more than 40 films, he was perhaps best known for the lead role in the long-running British TV series The Adventures of Robin Hood, which ran for 143 episodes from 1955 to 1959.

Greene was a Roman Catholic of Irish and Scottish ancestry, and was born in Plymouth, Devon, England. His aunt was the musical theatre actress Evie Greene. His father, Richard Abraham Greene and his mother, Kathleen Gerrard, were both actors with the Plymouth Repertory Theatre. He was grandson of Richard Bentley Greene and a descendant of four generations of actors. Greene was educated at the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in Kensington, London, and left at age 18. He started his stage career as the proverbial spear carrier in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in 1933. A handsome young man, Greene added to his income by modelling shirts and hats.

His professional career began aged 19 with a walk on role in Julius Caesarat the Old Vic. He did some modelling work and appeared in a stage production of Journey's End and had a small role in Sing As We Go (1934). He joined the Jevan Brandon Repertory Company in 1936 where he appeared in Antony and Cleopatra. He won accolades in the same year for his part in Terence Rattigan's French Without Tears, which brought him to the attention of MGM, Alexander Korda and Darryl F. Zanuck, who all made offers for films. On 17 January 1938 Greene signed with Fox. At 20, he joined 20th Century Fox as a rival to MGM's Robert Taylor. His first film for Fox was John Ford's Four Men and a Prayer (1938). Greene was a huge success, especially with female film goers, who sent him mountains of fan mail which at its peak rivalled that of Fox star Tyrone Power. Greene co-starred with Sonia Henie in My Lucky Star (1938) and was reunited with Ford in Submarine Patrol (1939). Zanuck put him in Kentucky (1938) with Loretta Young and Walter Brennan. Greene was the romantic male lead in the Shirley Temple vehicle The Little Princess (1939) and was Sir Henry Baskerville in the 1939 Sherlock Holmes film The Hound of the Baskervilles. The film marked the first pairing of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, but it was Greene who was top billed.

Greene had a support part in Stanley and Livingstone (1939) with Spencer Tracy and the lead in Here I Am a Stranger (1939). He co-starred with Alice Faye and Fred MacMurray in Little Old New York (1940) and supported Vera Zorina in I Was an Adventuress (1940). He had failed to become a major star but he was still playing leads in "A" movies when World War Two began. Greene tried to enlist in the Seaforth Highlanders in Vancouver, but they would not give him a commission. He obtained a release from Fox and travelled to England where he enlisted in the 27th Lancers, where he distinguished himself. After three months, he went to Sandhurst and was commissioned. He was promoted to captain in the 27th Lancers in May 1944.  He was relieved from duty in 1942 to appear in the British propaganda films Flying Fortress (1942) for Warners and Unpublished Story (1942) with Valerie Hobson. In 1943, he appeared in the Anna Neagle thriller, The Yellow Canary while on leave. He also appeared in a British comedy Don't Take It to Heart (1944).

He later toured in Shaw's Arms and the Man, entertaining the troops. Greene was discharged in December 1944 and appeared in the stage plays Desert Rats. After the war starred in a British musical, distributed by Warner’s, Gaiety George (1946) which was a flop. He returned to Hollywood, and appeared in Fox's big budget Forever Amber (1947) - but in support of Cornel Wilde. He went to Universal to play the villain in The Fighting O'Flynn (1948) with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. At Fox he was third billed in The Fan (1949) based on the play Lady Windimere's Fan. Greene returned to England to appear in That Dangerous Age (1949) and Now Barabbas (1949). He went back to Universal in Hollywood to play the hero in a Yvonne de Carlo eastern, The Desert Hawk (1950). Director de Cordova said Greene was "everything a man or woman could want in a desert hero."

In Britain he was in My Daughter Joy (1950), and Shadow of the Eagle (1950). He went to Italy to make The Rival of the Empress (1951). In Hollywood Edward Small asked him to play the male hero of Lorna Doone' (1951). He stayed on to star in The Black Castle (1952) and support Peter Lawford in Rogue's March (1952). For Small he made The Bandits of Corsica (1953) then he was in another swashbuckler, Captain Scarlett (1953). Greene returned to Britain looking for work. Greene got a role on stage in a production of I Captured the Castle with Virginia McKenna. Then Yeoman Films of Great Britain approached him for the lead role in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-59). He was an immediate success in it. The series and a number of related marketing products bearing his likeness, such as "Robin Hood Shoes," solved his financial problems and made him a star.

During the series' run he made the occasional film such as Contraband Spain (1955), Beyond the Curtain (1960), and Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960) (as Robin Hood). He had a long love affair in the 1950s with Nancy Oakes, wealthy daughter of mining tycoon Sir Harry Oakes. Amongst other TV programmes, Greene was in A Man For Loving, The Doctors, The Morecambe and Wise Show, Dixon of Dock Green, Scarf Jack, The Professionals episode Everest Was Also Conquered and the Tales of the Unexpected episode "Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat".


Greene died in 1985 of cardiac arrest at his home in Norfolk, England, at age 66.

Valentin Danilov


Valentin Danilov is a Russian physicist, whose research deals with the effect of solar activity on space satellites. 

Danilov was head of the Thermo-Physics Centre at Krasnoyarsk State Technical University (KTSU). In 1999, he has signed a contract between the KSTU and China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. KSTU was supposed to make a test bench used to emulate effect of space on man-made satellites.

On February 2001 Danilov was arrested by FSB, accused of espionage, but released on bail October 2, 2002. He was acquitted by a jury of all charges on December 29, 2003. On June 9, 2004 - the Supreme Court of Russia overturned Danilov's acquittal of espionage. On November 2004, another jury convicted Danilov of espionage. He was subsequently sentenced to 14 years in jail for treason. According to human rights organizations, his sentence was unjustified, because Danilov provided documents to the court showing that all the "secret information" has been in fact declassified.


According to a statement by Amnesty International, "as in the case of Igor Sutyagin, his first trial ended in acquittal; the court concluded that the prosecution had not established violations of the law by Valentin Danilov. In June 2004, the Supreme Court of Russia quashed the verdict of acquittal; following a second, closed trial, Valentin Danilov was convicted of treason (Article 275 of the Russian Criminal Code) and sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment in November 2004." Danilov was released on parole in Krasnoyarsk in November 2012.

Many scientists and human rights organizations, both in Russia and worldwide protested the sentence because the information he passed to China was, in fact, declassified in 1992.

Charles Eames

Charles Eames, Jr. was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Charles was the nephew of St. Louis architect William S. Eames. By the time he was 14 years old, while attending Yeatman high school, Charles worked at the Laclede Steel Company as a part-time laborer, where he learned about engineering, drawing, and architecture (and also first entertained the idea of one day becoming an architect).


Charles briefly studied architecture atWashington University in St. Louis on an architecture scholarship. After two years of study, he left the university. Many sources claim that he was dismissed for his advocacy of Frank Lloyd Wright and his interest in modern architects. He was reportedly dismissed from the university because his views were "too modern." Other sources, less frequently cited, note that while a student, Charles Eames also was employed as an architect at the firm of Trueblood and Graf. The demands on his time from this employment and from his classes, led to sleep-deprivation and diminished performance at the university.

While at Washington University, he met his first wife, Catherine Woermann, whom he married in 1929. A year later, they had a daughter, Lucia.

In 1930, Charles began his own architectural practice in St. Louis with partner Charles Gray. They were later joined by a third partner, Walter Pauley.

Charles Eames was greatly influenced by the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen (whose son Eero, also an architect, would become a partner and friend). At the elder Saarinen's invitation, Charles moved in 1938 with his wife Catherine and daughter Lucia to Michigan to further study architecture at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he would become a teacher and head of the industrial design department. In order to apply for the Architecture and Urban Planning Program, Eames defined an area of focus—the St. Louis waterfront. Together with Eero Saarinen he designed prize-winning furniture for New York's Museum of Modern Art" Organic Design in Home Furnishings" competition. Their work displayed the new technique of wood moulding that Eames would further develop in many moulded plywood products, including, beside chairs and other furniture, splints and stretchers for the U.S. Navy during World War II.

In 1941, Charles and Catherine divorced, and he married his Cranbrook colleague Ray Kaiser, who was born in Sacramento, California. He then moved with her to Los Angeles, California, where they would work and live for the rest of their lives. In the late 1940s, as part of the Arts & Architecture magazine "Case Study" program, Ray and Charles designed and built the groundbreaking Eames House, Case Study House #8, as their home. Located upon a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and hand-constructed within a matter of days entirely of pre-fabricated steel parts intended for industrial construction, it remains a milestone of modern architecture.

Charles Eames died of a heart attack on August 21, 1978 while on a consulting trip in his native Saint Louis, and now has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

Ben Chapman



William Benjamin "Ben" was an American outfielder, pitcher, and manager in Major League Baseball who played for several teams. He began his career with the New York Yankees, playing his first seven seasons there.

During the period from 1926 to 1943, he had more stolen bases than any other player, leading the American League four times. After twelve seasons, during which he batted .302 and led the American League in assists and double plays twice each, he spent two years in the minor leagues and returned to the majors as a National League pitcher for three seasons, becoming player-manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, his final team.

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Chapman batted and threw right-handed. He was a teammate of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio and other stars on the Yankees from 1930 through the middle of the 1936 season. In his 1930 rookie season with the Yankees, during which he batted .316, he played exclusively in the infield as a second and third baseman; although he played only 91 games at third, he led the American League in errors, and after Joe Sewell was acquired in the offseason, Chapman was shifted to the outfield to take advantage of his speed and throwing arm.

He led the American League in stolen bases for the next three seasons (1931–33); his 1931 total of 61 was the highest by a Yankee since Fritz Maisel's 74 in 1914, and would be the most by any major leaguer between 1921 and 1961; equaled only by George Case in 1943. With the Yankees, he also batted over .300 and scored 100 runs four times each, batted in 100 runs twice, led the American League in triples in 1934, and made each of the first three American League All-Star teams from 1933–35, leading off in the 1933 game as the first American League hitter in All-Star history. In the 1932 World Series he batted .294 with six runs batted in as the Yankees swept the Chicago Cubs. In one game on July 9, 1932, he had three home runs, two of which were inside-the-park, and on May 30, 1934 he broke up Detroit Tiger Earl Whitehill's no-hitter in the ninth inning.

In a 1933 game, his intentional spiking of Washington Senators' second baseman Buddy Myer caused a 20-minute brawl that saw 300 fans participate and resulted in five-game suspensions and $100 fines for each of the players involved. In June 1936, Chapman – then hitting .266 and expendable with the arrival of DiMaggio – was traded to the Senators. After the trade, Chapman rebounded to finish the year with a .315 average, again making the All-Star team and scoring 100 runs, and collecting a career-high 50 doubles. In June 1937 the Senators sent him to the Boston Red Sox, and he led the AL in steals for the fourth time with 35. The following year he hit a career-best .340 with Boston, after which he was traded to the Cleveland Indians. After seasons hitting .290 and .286, Cleveland sent him back to Washington in December 1940; he hit .255 with the Senators before they released him in May 1941, and after he batted only .226 with the Chicago White Sox over the remainder of the year, his major league career appeared to be finished.

After managing in the Class B Piedmont League in 1942 and 1944 – he was suspended for the 1943 season for punching an umpire – Chapman resurfaced, following brief World War II military service, as a pitcher in the National League with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1944, earning five wins against three losses. After starting the next year 3–3, he was traded to the Phillies on June 15, 1945, becoming player-manager on June 30. He made three relief appearances for the team that year, and played his final game in 1946 with one inning of relief. He appeared in 1,717 games over 15 seasons, batting .302 lifetime with 287 stolen bases (including 15 of home), 1,144 runs, 90 home runs, 407 doubles, 107 triples and 977 RBIs, and winning eight of 14 decisions as a pitcher; his 184 steals with the Yankees placed him second in team history behind Hal Chase. Chapman's career major league managing record was 196–276 (.415).

Chapman died of a heart attack at age 84 at his home in Hoover, Alabama. He was interred at Birmingham's Elmwood Cemetery.