Intermission Story (8) – Jimmy Stewart

James Maitland Stewart

Jimmy Stewart suffered such extreme PTSD after being a bomber pilot in World War II that he acted out his mental distress during ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.  Stewart played George Bailey in the classic movie and channeled his anger and guilt into the scenes where he rages at his family.

Stewart was haunted by ‘a thousand black memories’ from his time as an Air Force commanding officer that he took with him back to Hollywood after the war.  Pilots who flew with him said that became ‘Flak Happy’ during World War II, a term to describe what is now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

Stewart wrestled with the guilt of killing civilians in bomb raids over France and Germany including one instance where they destroyed the wrong city by mistake.

Stewart felt responsible for the death of his men and especially one bloodbath where he lost 13 planes containing 130 men who he knew well.  Stewart’s anguish is laid bare for the first time in author Robert Matzen’s Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the fight for Europe, published by Paladin Communications.

Stewart’s chance came with the creation of a B-24 bomber group, the 445th, and he was appointed commander of the 703rd squadron. After their air medal mission to Pas de Calais, the crew of the B-24H known as Lady Shamrock pose with air commander Stewart

Stewart never spoke  about it, even to other veterans, and bottled up his emotions that came out in the acting parts he chose when he returned to Hollywood.  He acted it out during It’s a Wonderful Life, where character George Bailey unravels in front of his family – the emotional core of the film after a lifetime of setbacks, including being unable to go to war while his brother becomes a decorated hero.

Films like Shenandoah and Winchester 73 allowed Stewart to explore his dark side which was never there before he went to war.

James Stewart and Clark Gable who was also sent into combat.

Matzen writes that Stewart’s decision to join the military was less surprising than his decision to become an actor; his grandfather fought in the Civil War and more distant relatives fought in the Revolutionary War.  His initial attempts failed because he was too skinny, despite trying to fatten himself up on ice cream and chocolate bars.  Stewart was finally called up shortly before the assault on Pearl Harbor in 1941 which forced America into the World War II.

Stewart in “It’s A Wonderful Life” channeled his PTSD from losing 130 of his men for the role.

Asked by a studio boss why he wanted to give up his life in Hollywood, Stewart said: ‘This country’s conscience is bigger than all the studios in Hollywood put together, and the time will come when we’ll have to fight’.  Stewart was initially put in the Air Force Motion Picture Division because commanders wanted to use him to make films to convince more airmen to sign up.

Major Stewart, 453rd Bomb Group Operations Officer, Old Buckenham, 1944

He was also used for PR stunts until he demanded that he see combat like other airmen.  Stewart’s chance came with the creation of a B-24 bomber group, the 445th, and he was appointed commander of the 703rd squadron.  After 20 missions, the stress began to take its toll him and the only food that would stay in his stomach was peanut butter and ice cream.

BGeneral Jimmy Stewart w/ his B-52 crew, 20 Feb. 1966, Vietnam.

Stewart did not leave the military and continued to serve until May 1968 when he retired after 27 years of service during which time he was a bomber pilot during the Vietnam War.

James Maitland Stewart

20 February 1966: Brigadier General James M. Stewart, United States Air Force Reserve, flew the last combat mission of his military career, a 12 hour, 50 minute “Arc Light” bombing mission over Vietnam, aboard Boeing B-52 Stratofortress of the 736th Bombardment Squadron, 454th Bombardment Wing.

Information collected from War History online; This Day in Aviation and Mission For Today.

Click on images to enlarge,

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Military Humor – Murphy’s Laws –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Edward Albert – Milwaukee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. F/152nd Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Edmond Baclawski – Hinsdale, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Sgt., radar

George Debenian – New Britain, CT; US Army, WWII

Stephen Everette – Albuquerque, NM; US Navy, WWII

Sam Friedman – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII # R270226

Thomas Hardy – Lake Worth, FL; US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, flight engineer (Ret. 20 yrs.)

Gerald Kerner – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, Korea, Sgt. Signal Corps

Joan Miller – London, ENG; Civilian, WWII, British Ministry of Supply

Frank Oddo – Summerfield, FL; US Army, WWII, medic, 32nd “Red Arrow” Division

Don Williams – New Orleans, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot / Treasury Agent

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Intermission Story (7) – Submarines of the Pacific War

USS Tang (SS-563) -Balao-class; sank 33 ships. Was sunk in Oct.’44, 9 survived using momsen lung, 78 lost

During the war, submarines of the United States Navy were responsible for 55% of Japan’s merchant marine losses; other Allied navies added to the toll.  The war against shipping was the single most decisive factor in the collapse of the Japanese economy. Allied submarines also sank a large number of IJA troop transports, killing many thousands of Japanese soldiers and hampering the deployment of IJA reinforcements during the battles on the Pacific islands.

USS Barb – Gato-class, sank 17 enemy vessels.

They also conducted reconnaissance patrols, landed special forces and guerrilla troops and performed search and rescue tasks, especially in the Philippines.  The majority of the submarines involved were from the U.S. Navy, with the British Royal Navy committing the second largest amount of boats and the Royal Netherlands Navy contributing smaller numbers of boats.

The Allied submarine campaign is one of the least-publicized feats in military history, due in large part to the efforts of Allied governments to ensure their own submarines’ actions were not reported in the media.

USS Nautilus – Narwhal-class; Asia-Pacific Medal w/ 14 battle stars.

However, the U.S. Navy was poorly prepared for a submarine war against commerce. Although a few officers had anticipated such a role, in spite of the the prize rules, the submarine service had not trained for it. U.S. submarines were plagued by defective torpedoes during the first two years of war, whose faults were due in part to the design emphasis on their use against heavily armored warships. However, once the faults were remedied, the submarines sank over half the ships of the Japanese merchant marine.

USS Bowfin (SS-287) – Balao-class; sank 18 vessels; now a museum in Hawaii.

American submarines also enjoyed significant successes against warships, accounting for six fleet carriers. three escort carriers, a battleship, twelve cruisers, over 40 destroyers, and numerous lesser warships and auxiliaries. An estimated 182,000 Japanese soldiers were lost at sea from sunken transports. This was accomplished at a relatively low cost. Of the naval powers that constructed significant submarine forces, the Americans suffered the lowest casualties in the Second World War: 52 American submarines were lost, versus 74 British submarines lost, 90 Italian submarines lost, 128 Japanese submarines lost, and nearly 800 German U-boats sunk.  The 374 officers and 3131 men killed in American submarine operations constituted 13% of the submarine sailor corps, or over 1 in 7.

USS Sailfish – Sargo-class; originally the sunken USS Squalus.

 During the air strikes preceding the Gilberts invasion, the Pacific Fleet experimented with deploying submarines near target atolls to rescue downed aviators. This proved so successful  that the deployment of lifeguard submarines became a standard feature of carrier strike planning for the remainder of the war.

USS Wahoo (SS-238) – Gato-class; sunk by Japanese aerial bomb Oct.’43, awarded 6 battle stars

The Japanese Navy did not even establish an antisubmarine warfare school until March 1944. Convoying was adopted rather late in the war and too few ships and planes were assigned to escort duty.  Japanese depth charges were too small and were usually set too shallow, at least until one of the stupidest men* to ever darken the doors of Congress blurted out in a press conference why American submarines were able to evade counterattack.  The Japanese did make effective use of minefields and developed a working airborne magnetic anomaly detector (Jikitanchiki).

* Andrew Jackson May (June 24, 1875 – September 6, 1959) was a Kentucky attorney, an influential New Deal-era politician, and chairman of the House Military Affairs Committee during WWII, infamous for his rash disclosure of classified naval information that may have resulted in the losses of up to ten American submarines and up to 800 sailors, and his subsequent conviction for bribery. May was a Democratic member of the US House of representatives. 

The boats shown are merely examples of the submarines we had in the Pacific.  The article subject was requested by 56Packardman.  Thank you for suggesting it.  The information here was retrieved from the US Navy.gov, “Submarines of the World” by Robert Jackson and Wikipedia.

For those even more interested in submarines, our fellow blogger, The Lean Submariner, has many a sea going tale to tell you – ENJOY!

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Homer Buck – Mesa, AZ; US Army, WWII, 34th Infantry Div., Silver Star, Purple Heart

Benjamin Capua – Somers, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea, 11th Airborne Division, Purple Heart

Paul Jarchow – IA; US Army, WWII, ETO, radioman

James Hough – Miami, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Morton West – Newton, MA; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

The remaining six Marines to be identified from the Mississippi crash…

Robert Cox – Ventura, CA; USMC,  SSgt.

Sean Elliott – San Diego, CA; USMC, Captain

Caine Michael Goyette — Waterford, CT; USMC, KC-130T Hercules Comdr., Major (22 yrs.)

Chad Jensen – Redondo Beach, CA; USMC, Sgt.

Owen Lennon – Pomona, NY; USMC, Sgt.

Collin Schaaff – Pierce County, WA; USMC, Corporal

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June, 1944 “Nothing of historical significance has happened.”

A rare glimpse into the life of sailors on the home front and how we know….

Sailors Attic

Have you heard the popular retort from the 1940s, “Don’t you know there’s a war going on?”

During the Second World War, naval commandants wrote diary entries about major events in their commands.  The subordinate officers submitted reports to their commandants who typed up “war diaries” for the Vice-Chief of Naval Operations.  The War Diaries were official U.S. Navy records, to be examined post-war as a source for histories of the various Navy commands.

But whose decided what was important enough to write down?

The answer, of course, was everybody.  And everybody had a different view of the same experience.  So the entries in War Diaries varied from one commanding officer to the next, and from one command to the next.  A hand-written desk diary kept by the Commandants of the U.S. Naval Training Station at Great Lakes shows how different people viewed the exact same place and experience in vastly…

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Intermission (6) – The Janitor Who Won the Medal of Honor

William J. Crawford

William J. Crawford

During every intermission I include at least one story from the European Theater.  This following article showed me once again the honor and humility that was common to the Greatest Generation.

Perhaps it was the way he carried himself in an unassuming and humble manner, but day after day hundreds of Air Force Academy cadets would pass this janitor in the hall oblivious to the greatness that was among them.

In the mid-1970s, William Crawford might spend one day sweeping the halls and another cleaning the bathrooms, but it was a day approximately 30 years prior that would create for him a special place in the history of war. In 1943 in Italy, the only thing  Private William Crawford was cleaning out was German machine gun nest and bunkers.

William Crawford – Medal of Honor recipient

Under heavy fire and at great risk to himself, his gallantry was so audacious that it earned him the Medal of Honor and the respect of any man who witnessed his actions. And yet, for the cadets at the Air Force Academy, it would take a student’s study of the Allied campaign in Italy to realize who it was that walked among them. Once the cadets realized the humble janitor was a recipient of the nation’s highest military honor, that would never be able to look at him the same and the secret was out.

William Crawford was born in 1918 in Pueblo, Colorado.  For Crawford, he would always call the state of Colorado home despite serving a long career in the military where he was assigned to various duty stations. It was after retiring from the Army that he returned to Colorado and took up his job as a janitor at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

The cadets would report that the shy janitor they only knew as Mr. Crawford simply blended into the background as he did his job without much fanfare. However, when one of the cadets began reading a book detailing the Allied advance through Italy he came upon the story of a medal of honor recipient named William Crawford.

Talking to his roommate, the cadet made the connection and said: “I think our janitor is a recipient of the Medal of Honor.”  The next day, the cadet took the book to Crawford and simply asked if this was him. Perhaps weighing whether it was worth it to expose his gallantry, Crawford stared at the book for a while then simply said, “That was a long time ago and one day in my life.”

He would then be taken back to that fateful day in Italy and recount the story as only the man who lived it could do.  By September 1943, the Allies were pushing through southern Italy slugging it out with a resilient German army. For Crawford and the 36th infantry division, that would place them near Altavilla Silentina with orders to take Hill 424.

On September 13th, Company I was assaulting the enemy help position on the hill when the entire company was pinned down by intense machine-guns fire and mortars. Serving as the squad scout for third platoon, Private Crawford was near the front of this assault and located the first of the gun positions wreaking havoc on the company.

Without orders, he took it upon himself to eliminate the threat single-handedly. Under heavy fire, he crawled forward to within a few yards of the gun and placement and lobbed a grenade directly on top of the three defenders.

Meanwhile, the rest of the company finally made it to the crest of the hill when they were again coming under fire from two more machine gun nests entrenched in a higher ridge. Again on his own initiative, Crawford set out to destroy the threat. Crawling under the storm of bullets, Crawford came upon the first machine gun nest and with perfect accuracy once again landed a grenade right in their lap.

Moving on to the second gun, he was able to take it out of action causing the rest of the defenders to flee as they opted not to stick around for a visit from the man they had just watched single-handedly destroy three entrenched positions.

Thanks to Crawford’s gallant actions, Hill 424 was successfully overtaken and the Allied advance continued. Unfortunately for Crawford, his position at the front of the assault would eventually lead to his capture by the Germans during the chaos of the battle.

The rest of the company had believed Crawford was killed in action as reports of his gallantry advanced up the chain of command. And for his actions that day in Italy, William Crawford was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, but that is not where the story would end.

George Crawford receives his son’s medal.

In 1944, the medal was presented to his father who accepted it on behalf of his son he presumed to have died in combat. But later in 1944 when a group of soldiers was rescued from German captivity, it turned out William Crawford was among them, oblivious to the fact that he was now the recipient of the nation’s highest military honor.

Crawford would continue to serve in the military after World War II and retired in 1967 at the rank of Master Sergeant.  After his distinguished and yet humble career in the military, this unassuming man would take a job as a janitor at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

It was here in 1976 that the truth would come out, and future Air Force officers would get a lesson in both gallantry and incredible humility. As the cadets looked to their janitor with a newfound respect, they would eventually coax the painfully shy man into speaking about his experience to the next generation of leaders. In one exchange, Crawford related the point that he never personally received his Medal of Honor with any ceremony due to his captivity and presumed death. The students and staff of the Air Force Academy would remember this fact and see to it that he had his day.

President Reagan presents William Crawford with his Medal of Honor

n 1984 when Pres. Ronald Reagan came to speak at that year’s graduation ceremony; they had arranged for their gallant janitor to finally stand face-to-face with the President of the United States and receive his due commendation. William Crawford died at the age of 81 in the year 2000 at his home in Colorado. And although Crawford was a veteran of the Army, he would become the only non-U.S. Air Force enlisted person buried at the United States Air Force Academy Cemetery in Colorado Springs.

The cadets regarded him as one of their own and gave him all the respect such a man deserved.

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Military Humor – from Bill Mauldin –

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Farewell Salutes – 

(these are 10 of the brave souls who perished in the Mississippi plane crash on Monday)

Dan Baldassare – Colts Neck, NJ; USMC

Brendan Johnson – Colchester, VT; USMC, Master Gunnery Sgt.

Mark Hopkins – Montgomery, NY; USMC

William J. Kundrat – MD & NC; USMC; SSgt.

Julian Keviann – Detroit, MI; USMC

Talon Leach – Fulton, MO; USMC

Ryan Lohrey – Middletown, IN; US Navy, Corpsman

Joe Murray – Jackson, FL; USMC

Dietrich Schmieman – Richland, WA; USMC

Joshua Snowden – Dallas, TX; SSgt.

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Current News – Battle of Leyte Remembered

Remembering the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Surigao Strait.

On 3 July, 2017, the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) commemorated those that fought in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

“Today we sail the same waters as those sailors did 73 years ago,” said Cmdr. J.W. David Kurtz, the ship’s executive officer, according to the statement.

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The Battle of Leyte Gulf, which took place in late October 1944, included several naval engagements involving ships from the 7th and 3rd fleets. The battle crippled the Japanese Imperial Navy, which lost four aircraft carriers, three battleships, six heavy and four light cruisers, 11 destroyers, several hundred aircraft and more than 10,500 sailors, according to History.com. U.S. and Allied forces lost one light carrier, two escort carriers, two destroyers and one destroyer-escort.

Japan’s losses allowed the U.S. to conduct a ground invasion of the Philippines. Roughly 3,000 sailors and Marines were killed in the battle, which some historians consider to be not only the largest naval battle of WWII, but the largest naval battle in history.

A moment of silence, Taps and 21-gun salute from the USS Nimitz.

“I’m proud to be here at the ceremony because they didn’t have to give their lives for us, but they did,” said Chief Religious Program Specialist Kimberly Bell, according to the statement. “This ceremony was emotional for me because every time they play taps I want to cry when I think about all that those service members sacrificed for us.”

Information and photos from the U.S. Navy.

Click on still photos to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Benny Barrick – Carlsbad, NM; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Alfred Binger Jr. – Brooklyn, NY; US Navy, WWII

Les Campbell – Reno, NV; US Navy, Korea & Vietnam, Master Chief at Arms (Ret.)

Final Voyage

Frances Dwyer – Roselle Park, NJ; US Navy, WWII, Lt.

Opal Bivens – Hazelton, ND; US Navy WAVES, WWII

Robert Hamner Sr – W.Palm Beach, FL; USMC, Korea, Vietnam, Lt.Comdr. (Ret. 30 years)

Kenneth King – Everett, CT; US Navy, WWII

Jack Kinney – Independence, OH; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Ray Lashley – DesArc, MO; US Navy, WWII

Alex Soltesz – Boynton Bch., FL; US Coast Guard, WWII, USS Mohawk (CGWPG-38), radioman

Theodore Wynberg – Sydney, AUS; RA Navy, Commodore

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Intermission Story (5) – HMAS Patricia Cam

HMAS Patricia Cam

A bombing, a beheading, and an incredible escape from drowning using a pocket knife.

It sounds like the plot to a Hollywood film, but this is a piece of history about a World War II bombing off the East Arnhem Land coast that has been discovered accidentally after 74 years.

Reverend Len Kentish

One morning in 1943, coastwatcher and missionary Reverend Len Kentish and five Yolngu men from Arnhem Land communities jumped on board the HMAS Patricia Cam to go to Yirrkala.

The ship was then bombed and machine gunned by a Japanese sea plane.

“It blew the bottom out of the ship and she started to go down immediately,” historian Mike Owen said.

Mandaka Marika lives in Yirrkala, and his uncle Milirrma Marika died in the attack along with Djimanbuy, Djinipula Yunupingu and six other seamen.

“It’s a very sad feeling just like losing someone, a loved one … In our heart we remember our brave uncle,” Mr Marika said.

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Reverend Kentish was taken as a prisoner of war, the only Australian to be captured from home waters.

“The pilot got out with a pistol and beckoned to one of the men, and it happened to be the Reverend Kentish, and he swam over and got on board and was given a drink and they took off,” Mr Owen said.  “He was held captive for a couple of months … he was taken out and beheaded by his captors.”

Narritjin Maymuru and Paddy Babawun survived the bombing after an incredible fight.

They were underwater from the force of the bomb and drowning under a tarp, but they managed to free themselves by cutting through it with a pocket knife and their teeth.

“When they shot the boat, [Narritjin Maymuru] was underneath the water with a tarp … he had a pocket knife, he cut it and came up through that one,” Mr Maymuru’s nephew Danadana Gundara said.

But this story was lost in history for 74 years.

Mr Owen discovered it while looking for African coins in East Arnhem Land.

“On our last day we found a large piece of timber from a ship, and while I was investigating the find I realized it was in the right place for a Patricia Cam … So I started chasing the story down,” he said.

HMAS Patricia Cam Memorial in Yirrkala

A ceremony to commemorate those who died was held in Yirrkala this year for the first time, and a plaque in the community is the only memento for those who died in the attack.

“Every year we should remember these brave men working for the Australian Army that were killed there,” Mr Marika said.

The Yolngu men’s descendants are now calling for them to be commemorated at the Australian War Memorial.

“They offered their life, they sacrificed their lives for family and the land. That’s an excellent job,” Mr Gundara said.  “We are Australians and we have to do the same things for all, for black and white, we’re all working together.”

The additional survivors after reaching Darwin.

Click on images to enlarge.

This story is from ABC News Australia, 17 May 2017.

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Military Humour –

There’d better be some beer in THIS drop!

Smart Move!!

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Farewell Salutes –

Mavis Amon – Wellington, NZ; WA Air Force # 420507, WWII

Nichael Bond – Reading, ENG; RAF & Army; WWII, ETO, Middlesex Regiment

Harold Brown – Hunter’s Hill, AUS; RA Air Force # 74174

Patrick Crowe – Warrnabool, AUS; RA Air Force # 13544, WWII

George Davidson – Newtown, NZ; RNZ Navy # 8832 / RNZ Army # 620738, J Force & # 206028, K Force, WWII

Frank Hirst – Adelaide, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII

Hansen Kirkpatrick – Wasilla, AK; US Army, Afghanistan, Pfc, 1st Armored Division, KIA

Raymond Parris – San Antonio, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B/187/11th Airborne Division

Robert ‘Bobby’ Temple – Shiloh, IL; US Navy, WWII, USS Oklahoma, Seaman 1st Class, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Robert Towns – Canberra, AUS; RA Navy, HMAS Barcoo

In honor of the Australian veterans that we have lost, please listen to “The Last Post” given to us by Paol Soren!!

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Fourth of July

 Red Skelton is amazing here – Please watch and have a happy and safe 4th of July!!

God Bless Our Troops

THE SOLDIER’S POEM

When this is over
And we come home again,
Forget the band
And cheers from the stand;
Just have the things
Well in hand –
The things we fought for.
UNDERSTAND?

                                                                                 _____Pfc C.G. Tiggas

Eagle_waving_Flag_and_Torch-150x161

ONLY A SAILOR

He’s only a sailor on the boundless deep,
Under foreign skies and tropical heat.
Only a sailor on the rolling deep,
In summer rain and winter sleet.

____Unknown

Remember when it was popular to be patriotic?  We had fun back then!!

Parades and picnics!!

Even the kids got involved!

 

 

Please remember that fireworks can cause PTSD reactions.  Please be considerate.  Thank you.

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Fourth of July – Humor or Truth ?

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kenneth Alsdurf – Syracuse, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Phyllis Cox Birney – Floral City, FL; Civilian US Army & Air Force employee (Ret.)

Ray Flow – Broadway, NC; US Army

Dick Hickman – Louisville, KY; US Air Force, Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret), Bronze Star

Paul Hubble (103) – W.Palm Beach, FL; US Navy, WWII

Jack Jennings – Bronx, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Lt.Col. (Ret. 30 yr.), fighter pilot

Cyril Maceyka – Waltham, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Oiva Pakka – Butte, MT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, 1st LT., B-29 navigator

Kenneth Steele – Kansas City, MI; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Franklin Trapkin – Ramsey, NJ; US Army, WWII

Robert Uhlman – Des Moines, IA; USMC, WWII, PTO

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Canada Day – 150 Years !

HAPPY 150TH BIRTHDAY NEIGHBORS

On July 1, 1867, Canada became a self-governing dominion of Great Britain and a federation of four provinces: Nova Scotia; New Brunswick; Ontario; and Quebec. The anniversary of this date was called Dominion Day until 1982. Since 1983, July 1 has been officially known as Canada Day.

Amazing video!!

 

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Canadian Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Nelson Allen – Yarmouth, NS, CAN; RC Army, WWII

James Andrew – Vancouver, CAN; RC Army, WWII, Seaforth Highlanders

Douglas Brown – Ottawa, CAN; RC Army, WWII

Carl Carlson – Calgary, CAN; RC Army, WWII, radio operator

Robert Cook Manitoba, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Arie Fox – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Peter Hires – Calgary, CAN; RC Army, WWII, medic

Jack LaForet – Windsor, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

David Lee – B.C., CAN; RC Army, WWII, Lt., 12th Manitoba Dragoons

George Reddy – brn: India/ Vancouver, CAN; RAF, WWII

Thomas Riley – Winnipeg, CAN; RC Army, WWII, Gov.-Gen. Horse Guards, Royal Canadian Artillery & the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders

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Intermission Story (4) – A Japanese Ace

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

“In the ocean of the military, reflective of all distinguished pilots, an honored Buddhist person.”  So translates the name awarded to Japanese pilot Hiroyoshi Nishizawa following his death in 1944.  In life, however, he earned himself a very different title.

The Devil of Rabaul, they called him, and not without good reason.

Rabaul 1943

Rabaul 1943

Skilled pilots on both sides fought terrifying aerial battles, carried out daring raids against the enemy and engaged with combatants in the air, on the land and on the sea. Yet even amongst the many outstanding Japanese aces, there was no one quite like Nishizawa.

The outrageous aerobatics, performed in the early summer of 1942, could easily have cost him his life. Instead, the soldiers on the ground held their fire, and by the time Nishizawa returned to his own base, a letter had already arrived congratulating him on his maneuvers – and inviting him back for the “all-out welcome” he deserved.  The Devil of Rabaul chose to decline that particular invitation, of course.

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

In fact, even amongst his own comrades he seemed like a figure out of legend. Nishizawa was known as a strange and solitary character, for he seemed ever more content with the status of an outsider as his celebrated status increased. Tall, thin and strikingly pale, Nishizawa was far from forthcoming, and even once his name became synonymous with acts of courage and valor, he kept to himself.

Even in death, elements of mystery still cling to the man who seemed to stray so close to myth. Nishizawa had already been present at some of the key battles fought in that geographical theatre of the war, and October 1944 found him escorting the first of Japan’s major kamikaze attacks against the Allies. He himself was only present to back up the five bombers, but as the attack unfolded, something extraordinary occurred.

The young pilot watched his comrades hurtling to certain death, their planes ripping into the US warships below. Led by Lieutenant Yukio Seki, the explosions caused by four of the five planes triggered chain reactions throughout the vessels. In the sky overhead, Nishizawa was also engaged in combat, successfully bringing down two F6F Hellcats and raising the total number of his confirmed kills to 88. It was a clear victory for the Japanese fighters, but even as he fought, Nishizawa had a striking vision.

Nishizawa in his Mitsubishi Zero A6M3, 1943

Nishizawa in his Mitsubishi Zero A6M3, 1943

While the carnage unfolded before his eyes, he saw another event take place –his own death. Though accounts vary as to the exact nature of the fate he envisioned for himself, he returned from the mission without a shadow of a doubt in his mind. To the Devil of Rabaul, it seemed his end was close at hand.

Once again, he held true to his courageous nature. While another man might have tried to run from his fate, the Devil of Rabaul wasted no time in facing his destiny head on. The very next day, with his premonition still at the forefront of his mind, he himself requested a position on the next suicide squad kamikaze mission. If he had to die, Hiroyoshi Nishizawa was going to do it in style.

Of course, his request was refused.  By denying his wish, Nishizawa’s superiors sealed the fate of their finest pilot.

He was assigned to a different mission in the end, and the following morning set out as a passenger on a transport aircraft, setting off from Mabalacat. The weather was fine, with clear skies and low winds – the region had always been known for its gentler climate.

High in the clear October skies over Mindoro Island, two planes appeared in the distance. They were far behind, but rapidly closing the distance. The US fighters, a pair of F6F Hellcats, were now in hot pursuit, though even they had no idea just who they were bearing down upon.

As the three planes flew above the town of Calapan, American pilot Lt. Harold P. Newell sent the lumbering transport plane before him down in flames.

At the age of 24, just days after he predicted his own end, the Devil of Rabaul was dead.

In his short career, the Japanese Ace of Aces had earned the respect of his enemies and his comrades alike. He had become a nationally recognised symbol of bravery, patriotism and fearlessness in the face of death. Hiroyoshi Nishizawa walks to this day a unique line between a man and a myth, with a story rivalled by few others in its mysterious and evocative nature.

Like all the great figures of legend, the legacy of the man now known as Bukai-in Kohan Giko Kyoshi lives on, even after death. In the ocean of the military, Nishizawa is remembered as an honored Buddhist person, the Devil of Rabaul and the Ace of Aces.

By Malcolm Higgins (@Mhiggins95)

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – from the Kunihiko Hisa cartoon album – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Helen Dellinger – Lincoln County, NC; Civil Air Patrol, WWII

William Emnott – Oshkosh, WI; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Edward Fanning – Englewood, FL; Merchant Marines, WWII

Jack Heyn – W.Des Moines, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 3rd Bombardment Group/5th Air Force, photographer

Francis Higgiins – Salem MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Jack Kronenberger – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Ora “O.P.” Miller – Anderson, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Air Transport Unit, pilot

Irena Nowakowska – Warsaw, POL; Polish Underground Army (Armia Krajowa), WWII

Richard Powell – OH; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Leslie Scace – London, ENG; Royal Navy, WWII

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Intermission Story (3) – Cpl. Delmer R. Beam & PTSD

Cpl. Delmer Beam

Taken from the book, “Soldiers Stories: A Collection of WWII Memoirs” with permission by Myra Miller; written by Marshall Miller.

War Stories don’t always end when the shooting stops and soldiers return to civilian life.  The family of former Army Corporal Delmer Beam can tell you all about he horrors of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Cpl. Beam;s separation papers list him as a “Combat Infantryman” in the Army’s 6th Division, 1st Infantry Regiment, C Company.  His WWII experiences started in 1939, as a 17-year old, at Fort Jackson near Columbia, South Carolina and stretched into August 1945, after several years of bitter fighting in the South Pacific against Japanese forces at New Guinea and the Philippines.

Delmer’s wife, Gladys, told her children, Lonnie, Roger and Lana, that the father they came to know after the war was nothing like the “joyful, fun guy” who gave 6½ years of his life – and numerous difficult years beyond – to the cause of freedom.

Gladys said the war destroyed her husband, both mentally and physically.  In the mid-1960’s, Lana said he submitted to shock treatments at Mount Vernon Hospital to calm down his combat issues.  The children couldn’t understand why they weren’t allowed to shoot fireworks on the 4th of July.

Delmer and Gladys Beam

The few stories Beam told about his experiences were tough to hear. Like the one where soldiers were ordered to shoot thirty rounds of ammunition every morning into the surrounding trees to protect the camp from Japanese snipers, who would climb high to get maximum angles on their targets.  Once, Beam recalled, several soldiers were killed by a sniper, even after the morning strafing.  After an exhaustive search, the sniper finally was located hiding in a water canvas bag hanging from a tree.  He had crawled in, poked a small hole in the canvas and shot his victims with a pistol.

Soldier’s Stories

Japanese marksmen and fierce fighting weren’t the only obstacles thrown in Beam’s path.  Malaria was a difficult burden and an attack from scrub typhus mites nearly killed him.  Delmer told his family he got so sick from the mites that he was presumed dead while lying on a stretcher on a bench.  Someone saw him move however and he was transferred to a hospital ship.

His son Roger, chronicled his memories of his Dad’s experience :

As a young boy, I was always enamored with army war stories.  I would ask him about the war many times.  Only on a very few occasions would he talk about it.  It is strange how I can remember some of the stories he told me when I can’t remember what i did yesterday….

He said he saw GI’s almost kill each other over a piece of chicken wire.  The reason is that they would stretch the wire over their fox holes so the Japanese hand grenades would hit the wire and bounce back before it exploded.  It rained every day in the jungle and was very hot and humid…

He told me about his best friend, a young 19-year old from Hope, Arkansas.   While they were being attacked one day by Japanese, my Dad kept telling him to stop sticking his head up over the embankment they were behind, but the young man kept doing it until he got hit in the head and died in my dad’s arms.  This has always made a picturesque impression on me…

I know he was haunted the rest of his life about what he went through, just like so many others.  He was a good dad and even got better the older he got… Dad never met a stranger, he would talk to anyone.

Leather map case

Despite his health issues, Delmer spent his post-war years in Dixon, Missouri, and worked at Fort Leonard Wood as a fire inspector.  He died in 1991 at age 70.  His daughter had these words to remember her Dad:  I guess the most uplifting thing about my dad was… he really believed that he survived when others died because God wasn’t done with him yet.

From Beam’s grandson, Roger Beam Jr., :

My grandpa Delmar told me this story several times as a small boy.  I think he always got a kick out of it and was probably one of his “better” memories of the war.

He told me of the time his squad was out one evening climbing around the sides of trees collecting peppers that they used to flavor basically all their food.  They had rifles slung and arms full of peppers.  As they came around a tree, to their shock and surprise they ran into a squad of Japanese soldiers doing the exact same thing!  He said the resulting chaos was both terrifying and hilarious, as both groups scrambled away.  Not a shot was fired and they saved their peppers!

In the midst of such a horrible time for my grandfather, it does make smile a bit remembering how he smiled when telling this story.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current PTSD Assistance –

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/

http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/38624/new-va-online-tool-helps-veterans-learn-compare-effective-ptsd-treatments/

https://www.va.gov/VLER/vler-health-exchange-registration-guide.asp?utm_source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=vler-promo2017-vawide

http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/38287/veterans-conquer-depression-equine-therapy/

http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/38060/va-announces-new-strategic-partnerships-advance-solutions-tbi-ptsd/

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Military / Home Front Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Armstrong – NYC, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, LCI

Gustave Breaux – Notleyville, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO / Vietnam, CMSgt. (Ret. 28 yrs.)

Joseph Dixon – Ochlocknee, GA; US Navy, WWII

Parker ‘Bill’ Fredericks – Midvale, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO / Korea, Lt.Col. (Ret. 26 yrs.)

Roy James – Sylvarina, MS; USMC, WWII, PTO

John Jarrosak – W.Rutland, VT; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

Darcy Larking – Taranaki, NZ; RNZ Army # 624362, Pvt.

Robert Shoemaker – Killeen, TX; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, West Point Class of ’46, General (Ret.)

Hans Traber – Unterseen, SWITZ; Swiss Army, WWII

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