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NOTE - After 19 years online, HomeOfHeroes.com may soon close it's doors.

Many of the HERO STORIES, history, citations and other information detailed in this website are, at least for now, available in PRINT or DIGITAL format from AMAZON.COM. The below comprise the nearly 4-dozen  "Home Of Heroes" books currently available.

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Medal of Honor Books

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This series of books contains the citations for ALL Medals of Honor awarded to that branch of service, with brief biographical data and photos of many of the recipients. Some of them also include citations for other awards, analysis of awards, data tables and analysis and more. These are LARGE volumes, each 8 1/2" x 11" and more than 500 pages each. Click on a book to find it on Amazon.com where you can find more details on what is contained in each book, as well as to get a free preview. Each volume is $24.95.

Heroes in the War on Terrorism

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NAVY    -  MARINES   -  AIR FORCE   - ARMY O.E.F.  - ARMY O.I.F.

These books contain the citations for nearly all of the awards of the Silve Star and higher to members of each branch of service in the War on Terrorism. Books include photos of most recipients, some biographical data, analysis of awards by rank, unit, date, and more.

ENCYCLOPEDIA of AMERICAN MILITARY HEROES

With the 5 Medal of Honor volumes above, these compilations comprise a virtual 28-volume ENCYCLOPEDIA of decorated American heroes(15,000 pages)  with award citations, history, tables & analysis, and detailed indexes of ACEs, FLAG OFFICERS, and more. (Click on any book to see it in Amazon.com - $24.95 Each Volume)

United States Army Heroes

Distinguished Service Cross

Distinguished Service Medals
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1873 - 1941 Korea Vietnam 1862 - 1960 RVN - Present

United States Navy Heroes

Navy Cross Silver Star Navy Corpsmen
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1915 - 1941 WWII Korea - Present WWII

United States Marine Corps Heroes

Navy Cross Silver Star
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1915 - WWII Korea - Present 1900 - 1941 WWII 1947 - Korea Vietnam - Present

WINGS OF VALOR
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The Defining Generation
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News From The Past

Air Force News
January 26, 1998

Medal of Honor Recipient Has More than 10 Minutes of Fame

By Staff Sergeant Jason Tudor

John Levitow, an ordinary man who performed an extraordinary act and received the Medal of Honor, stood in front of the C-17 that bore his name, and welled up with pride. "It's kinda creepy looking up and seeing your name," he told the crowd of more than 300 people gathered at the Boeing facility here Jan. 23. His C-17, formerly known as P-37, was the first aircraft named for an enlisted person.

The naming came during a 45-minute tribute to a man whom most Air Force people know from only a mere 10 minutes of his life. That 10 minutes, however, made Levitow something of a rock star in most of the enlisted force's eyes. His story has been told and retold thousands of times since Feb. 24, 1969.

Onboard a crippled aircraft, using instinct and training, the young loadmaster threw himself onto a magnesium flare, hauled his torso over to the aircraft's cargo door and threw the flare out. The device ignited split seconds after it left the doorway. He did this wounded, losing blood and having a partial loss of feeling in his right leg. He is the lowest ranking airman to ever receive the Medal of Honor.

When Levitow spoke to the crowd of enlisted people, most from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., and Boeing employees on that perfect Southern California day, he talked about how most airmen know him, from that one moment he used to save the lives of those aboard that airplane.

That's OK, Levitow said, but he wants people to know there's more to his life than just those 10 minutes. Gen. Walter Kross, the commander of Air Mobility Command, wanted the people gathered in Long Beach to know it, too. "We can easily call Sgt. John Levitow a hero, but he has continuously requested that he doesn't want to be known as a hero. His life amounts to much more than those 10 heroic minutes.

So, I'll honor his request and tell you some of the other reasons why his name ought to be on this aircraft," Kross said, surprising Levitow. Kross told the crowd of how Levitow endured many of the same challenges today's enlisted force faces. "He was a young airman simply doing his duty, flying a mission in the middle of the night in some far off land," Kross said. "Each night, he didn't get to sleep in his own bed back home or have a hot meal with his family. Every day, he spent working hard, getting dirty and getting tired in the service of his country." Kross also recounted how every day during Levitow's tour, he risked his life for "the soldiers on the ground in countless other missions -- people he never met."

John L. Levitow and Gen. Walt Kross, commander of Air Mobility Command, remove the masking from the Spirit of John L. Levitow artwork on the side of the C-17 named in the Medal of Honor recipient's name. (Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Tudor)

 

Then, after he left the Air Force, he picked up his service to his country working in the field of veteran's affairs for more than 22 years. He currently works for Connecticut developing and designing veteran programs. "His life has been one of tireless volunteerism -- a role model, a mentor -- with other enlisted professional education at the center of everything he did," Kross said.

"I'm a firm believer that what I do represent the enlisted corps," said Levitow, choked up after the general's remarks. "I'm just lucky. Luck is all it is. It's very easy to do something and not be recognized. I'm sure there are many people who have served, have done things that have been simply amazing and never been recognized. Lucky was that I had somebody that recognized it and put me in for it." And what does it mean to Levitow to be the most recognized figure in Air Force enlisted culture? A rock star? "They've taken 10 minutes of my life, put it in a short paragraph in the PME, and they built me into the history of the Air Force.

There's a lot more to it," he said. "I caught General (Ronald) Fogleman (former Air Force chief of staff) at a ceremony last year and I asked him, 'General, when can I retire? I've been out of the service since 1970.' General Kross told me that I can never retire. And he's right. I can't."

With "retirement" not an option for Levitow, he continues to learn everyday how to adapt with the fame his action in the Air Force gave him. "The Air Force has been very generous," he said. "They have accepted me for the way I am. I try to pace myself, but they also understand that I'm a civilian." After the ceremony, Levitow sat down in the C-17 loadmaster seat, a comfortable red chair just below the aircrew cabin. It was a return to a position he'd served in almost 30 years ago. Some had wondered if he felt anything special about returning to the loadmaster position. "The loadmaster never had a seat. You never really had a place. This," he said, looking at the chair, "gives them an identity. What happens down here could mean the safety of what happens to the whole airplane."

No rock star would be complete without fans and Levitow attracted his share of those at the ceremony. One of the fans was Airman 1st Class Shannon Saal. The Peking, Ill., native with 15 months total service, met Levitow while touring the C-17. "It's a great honor to meet him," she said. "He's very warm and intelligent." The same rank and nearly the same age as Levitow at the time of the incident, Saal wondered if she would make the same decision he did in the skies over South Vietnam. "Yes," she said instantly. "I know I could do it."

Chief Master Sgt. Mark Smith, who's spent more than 12 years working on the C-17 with Boeing and the systems program office at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and is a loadmaster himself, felt privileged to give Levitow a tour of the aircraft before the ceremony. "I've been a loadmaster for more than 21 years and I finally get to meet a guy I respect so much," he said. "It's a cross between a thrill and an honor."

Levitow, the ordinary man who's brought an extraordinary amount of attention to the enlisted force through his deeds and his words, summed up the day by saying he'd like to ride in the C-17 someday -- but not in the loadmaster's seat. "If it's in the loadmaster's seat, I'm going to have to work and I don't want to work, so I think I'll ride up there and enjoy the view."

 

John L. Levitow examines the cockpit of the C-17 named for him, the Spirit of John L. Levitow, January 23, 1998 in Long Beach, California

Air Force photos by Staff Sgt. Jason Tudor

1998, by AFNS
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

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