Lt. Robert Henry Prause, Jr. was born June 22, 1915 in Charleston, South Carolina. At a young age, he and his family moved to Norfolk, Virginia and spent his formative years there. After graduating from Matthew Fontaine Maury High School, he received a scholarship to the Norfolk Division of William & Mary College, now called Old Dominion University, and went on to study engineering.
After only a year in school, Robert decided to apply to the Coast Guard Academy in 1935 and was accepted. He graduated in 1939 and was placed aboard the cutter MODOC in Wilmington, North Carolina. A few years later, he was serving aboard the cutter ESCANABA, safeguarding troops and cargo vessels during some of the worst conditions in World War II.
ESCANABA – 1935
In June 1943, Prause, aboard the ESCANABA, was escorting a convoy to Newfoundland when his ship mysteriously exploded. In a very short period of time, the cutter sank, killing 100 crewmen. Lt. Prause was rescued from the icy waters but could not be revived. He was buried at sea with full military honors. The Virginia War Memorial honors Lt. Prause and the other men and women who gave their lives for our freedom.
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Melvin Douglas Rash and two siblings grew up in the southeastern part of the State in York County before heading off to war. Graduating from York High School in 1966, Melvin decided to enlist in the Air Force before being drafted into the Army. He was deployed to Vietnam and based in Ubon, Thailand with the 41st Tactical Airlift Squadron, 374th Tactical Airlift Wing, 7th Air Force. With only a few months away from returning home, tragedy struck.
On May 22, 1968, Melvin and the rest of the crew of their 130 Hercules aircraft were sent on an operational mission to drop flares over enemy targets. Melvin’s position on the aircraft was load master, which meant he prepped the loads for their selected drop offs.
Savannakhet Province, Laos
Once the plane reached Savannakhet Province, Laos, on the border of Vietnam, all communication was lost. Rescue missions were unsuccessful due to the hostile environment, thick jungle covering, and misinformation from locals. Melvin was listed as Missing In Action until the early 2000’s when his remains were found and positively identified. For the family, it was both a blessing and a curse. Melvin’s brother, Larry, stated in an interview, “I’ve done more grieving in the last few months than I had since he went missing….Finding the remains forced closure.”
We, at the Virginia War Memorial, honor Melvin Rash and all of his brothers and sisters in arms for their courage and sacrifice.
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Born May 20, 1922, in Richmond, Virginia, Milton Ruppert Beirne was the second of four children, all of whom attended St. Benedict Parochial School. Milton and his two brothers graduated as cadets from Benedictine High School while his sister attended St. Gertrude.
In school, Milton flourished in every subject and in athletics. He was the captain of the football team and co-captain of the basketball and baseball teams. Along with his talents on the field, Milton was also a gifted pianist and taught piano to neighborhood children.
After graduation in 1940, he attended Richmond Professional Institute, now Virginia Commonwealth University, with the hopes of one day attending the prestigious Julliard School of Music. But, like so many young men and women at the time, World War II altered his plans.
Army Air Corps Insignia
Milton volunteered to serve in the United States Army Air Corps. He trained in Midland, Texas and with his brother in Boise, Idaho. In the spring of 1944, he deployed to England with the 506th Squadron, 44th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force as a bombardier. Sadly, his final mission came on July 29, 1944. He and his crew were assigned the mission to bomb shipbuilding facilities in Oslebshausen, Germany. Before reaching their assigned target, Milton’s plane went down over the English Channel with only one survivor.
His family was notified a few days after the crash. The altar of St. Benedict Church was decorated with poinsettias in his honor for the Midnight Mass that Christmas. While his body was never recovered, a memorial was placed in the Beirne Family section of Holy Cross Cemetery in Richmond.
The Virginia War Memorial honors and pays tribute to Milton and all of the 11,770 men and women who gave their lives so we could enjoy the freedoms we have today.
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Lewis Bausell was born in Pulaski County, Virginia on April 17, 1924, to parents Lawrence Kent Bausell and Margaret Lewis Baugh Bausell. A few years later, the family moved to Washington, D.C, where Lewis attended McKinley High School. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Lewis tried enlisting in the Navy but was accepted in the Marine Corps on December 15, 1941. With six months training under his belt, he was then sent to the Pacific. Serving with the 1st Marine Division, he participated in the campaigns at Tulagi, Gavutu, Guadalcanal and Cape Gloucester.
On September 15, 1944, Lewis and the 1st Marine Division invaded Japanese-controlled Peleliu, one of the Palau Islands in the Pacific. Lewis was assigned to a unit that was to clear out some of the many enemy caves
Invasion of Peleliu
on the island. One cave proved to be deadly for Lewis. Second Lieutenant Jack Kimble stood at the mouth of one end, using a flame thrower to force out any Japanese soldiers through the other end to Lewis and two of his men. While two of Kimble’s men fired into the cave, a Japanese soldier rushed out holding a live grenade, which exploded injuring the two men. Seconds later, another Japanese soldier appeared and threw a grenade at Lewis and other soldiers. Lewis, without regard for his own safety, flung himself onto the explosive, saving the lives of the other men. He died three days later aboard a hospital ship. For his bravery in action, Corporal Bausell was awarded the Medal of Honor. The medal was presented to his parents in Washington, D.C., by Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, on June 11, 1945.
We honor Corporal Lewis Bausell at the Virginia War Memorial by keeping his story of bravery and sacrifice alive through education and programs. His name is listed among all the Virginia heroes whose names are etched in the glass and stone wall in the Shrine of Memory.
Medal of Honor
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You always remember people who show no fear of whatever comes their way, and who step up to the challenge when most fall back. Warren “Buzz” Whitmire, Jr. was one of those types of people, always running to the next obstacle.
Born December 2, 1945 in Fairfax, Virginia, Buzz knew of military leadership from a young age. His father was a Colonel in the United States Air Force, which meant Buzz and his family moved quite often to different places throughout the United States as well as Europe. Deciding to follow in his father’s footsteps, Buzz enlisted in the Air Force after high school.
In March 1968, Buzz was now a Warrant Officer and was deployed to a far off country called Vietnam. While there, he volunteered to fly the OH-6A Cayuse. These aircrafts, known as ‘loaches’, usually flew low to help find enemy positions in order to call in an attack force. For all intents and purposes, Buzz was the bait.
On May 1, 1968, Buzz went on a reconnaissance mission searching for missing infantrymen while trying to reveal enemy locations. From an eyewitness account, Buzz inaudibly yelled through the radio and by the time another soldier looked to the helicopter, it clipped a dead tree while dodging enemy ground fire. The loach started to spin and dropped into the thick tree line below. A rescue team was sent to locate the aircraft but to no avail. Buzz’s body has never been recovered.
Buzz’s story and all Virginia heroes are honored and remembered at the Virginia War Memorial.
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John Robert Teal began his journey in uniform at a young age. Dressing up in fatigues at his Mechanicsville, Virginia home he would ‘patrol’ the ditches around his home, making sure it was secure in case of a possible invasion. From there, he upgraded to an actual uniform, attending Benedictine College Preparatory where he was a member of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. While at Benedictine, he was instrumental in instituting a daily military flag ceremony.
Next step was on to college where he attended Virginia Military Institute. Upon graduation, he was commissioned into the Army as a Second Lieutenant at Fort Bragg, N.C. He served with the Army Medical Service Corps assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. John rose to the rank of Captain and deployed to Iraq in 2003 where he worked with the Iraqi town councils to rebuild their cities.
On October 23, 2003, John was riding in a convoy when an improvised explosive device detonated, killing him instantly. John was described as a genuinely caring person who was trying to better the lives of those in Iraq. “He was the kind of guy that no one could say anything bad about,” said Frank Boehling, classmate of John’s from Virginia Military Institute. His compassion, heroism and sacrifice will always be remembered on the Global War on Terrorism Shrine at the Virginia War Memorial.
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