October 1943 (2)

Location of Hai Phong.

Location of Hai Phong.

26 October – in the CBI Theater, the 10th Air Force,  71st Liaison Squadron, US Army Forces,  transferred from Ramgarh to Ledo, India with L-4’s and L-5’s.  The 14th Air Force, 13 B-24’s and 15 P-40’s pounded railroad yards at Hai Phong, Indochina (now called Vietnam).  Two B-25’s attacked several vessels at Kiungshan, claiming 4 sunk or badly damaged; later 6 more B-25’s hit shipping nearby, claiming 1 freighter sunk.   Kiungshan Airfield was strafed by one of the B-25’s.

Showing islands involved.

Showing islands involved.

27 October – the 13th Air Force’s B-24’s pound Kahili and Kara airfiels.   The Allies over over Kahili claimed three Zekes shot down.  The P-38’s, P-40’s, and P-39’s, plus some RNZAF P-40’s and P-39’s, covered the landing by New Zealand troops on Stirling and Mono. The fighters claimed destruction of twelve enemy dive bombers attacking the landing force and afterwards claimed three fighters shot down.

Falamai village, by Russell Clark

Falamai village, by Russell Clark

 The 8th NZ Brigade made ²/³ of the landing party on the Treasury Islands. (US Marines made up the balance).  The 250 Japanese defenders fought to the death ; only 8 of the enemy were taken.  Falamai village, Mono Island, the location of the Japanese HQ, was captured early in the campaign.

As a prelude to “Cherryblossom”, US Navy Task Force 31 bombarded the village area prior to the Allied landing by the New Zealand Army and US Navy 87th Construction Battalion “Seabees”, Company A under the command of Carl J. Mitchell landed at “Purple Two Beach”. Japanese opposed the landing from coconut log bunkers and with mortar fire from two hills inland from the beach, and with snipers in the village.

A mortar shell hit an ammunition dump on the beach, causing a large explosion and wounded Seabee Herb Bodine, who was evacuated. Other mortars his food dump and another hit one of the LSTs. After the area was secured, the village huts were bulldozed, and road construction began. That night, Japanese aircraft attempted to bomb the landing force, but were ineffective.

27 October – The 5th Air Force intercepted an escorted Japanese bomber force dropping supplies over the Sattleburg area; the US fighters claimed 12 airplanes downed. A-20’s hit the harbor and supply dump area at Gasmata.  The US lost the B-24D “Shack Rat” near Nadzab, New Guinea.

Operation Blissful began with the US 2nd Marine Para Battalion landing on Choiseul Island.  This campaign would hopefully divert enemy attention from Bougainville.

New Zealand brigade landing

New Zealand brigade landing

To read more of this island’s campaign and the command of Pvt. Joe Smith – CLICK HERE!

The USS Cony was attacked by Japanese aircraft while covering a landing.  The following are excerpts from the shipboard diary of the rear gunner, Stanley Baranowski:

“27 Oct – … at 3:oo PM got contact with a lot of planes – enemy… at 3:15 they came at us.  So many of them.  We started to fire everything we had… 3:25 we got 2 direct hits on port and starboard… Lots of men were hit.  Worked on fires.  Was up all night taking care of wounded.

“28 Oct – Still working on fires… we started to throw ammo over the side.  Ship was listing to port… 11:15 AM port engine gave out.  Tug came along and started to tow us.  12 PM fire was out.  1 PM moored to taker “Oragon” and took off wounded men.

“29 Oct – Got up at 6:30 AM.  Worked like hell and at 1:35 PM took off 2 dead fellows burned to death – what a horrible sight.  Admiral came on board to look things over, said it’s a State-side job and at 5:30 PM a show started named – ‘Accidents Will Happen.’”

USS Cony

USS Cony

31 October  – Lieutenant H. D. O’Neil of VF(N)-75, operating from Munda, New Georgia, flying a radar equipped F4U-2 destroyed a Betty during a night attack off Vella Lavella, the first kill by a radar-equipped night fighter of the Pacific Fleet.  Major T. E. Hicks and Tech Sergeant Gleason from VMF(N)-531 provided ground-based fighter direction.

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Military Humorous Mags – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Alfred Abramczyk – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, WWII

Jack Blanchfield – Tacoma, WA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 96th ‘Deadeyes’, Bronze Star

William Camire – Lake Worth, FL; US Air Force0083f165f66161f63454e92890403bcd

Jack Foote – Thames, NZ; NZ Army # 261006, 5th Field Artillery

Raymond Hoffman – Cochrane, CAN; RC Army, WWII, Calgary Highlands

Charles Isaacs – San Jose, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO

John Lasater – Durham, NC; US Navy, WWII

Jack Parish – Washington, IA; US Navy, WWII

Leonard Thuro – Rahway, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 188th Medical/11th Airborne

Warren ‘Buzz’ Whitmore Jr. – Fairfax, VA; US Air Force, Vietnam, Warrant officer, KIA

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Raiding Rabaul

These researchers help us to see the war from the air as well as the ground.

IHRA

Fifth Air Force sent 100+ B-25s and Beaufighters and 87 B-24s in a decisive blow against Japanese air power in Rabaul on October 12, 1943. This was to be the first in a series of strikes that would last until mid-November to render ineffective Japanese air power in the area for the remainder of the war. The entry below was taken from the diary of Kenneth Rosebush, a 3rd Bomb Group pilot with the 90th Squadron.

October 12, 1943

The Attack on Rabaul. It was a big one: Rabaul. Rabaul was the Japanese Bastille of the southwest Pacific. Its very name struck fear into your heart. We had numerous false reports that Japanese Tokyo-express, aircraft carriers, and warships (only), were either leaving or going into Rabaul. Each time, over several months, we would be alerted and hat to sweat it out. This time it was a “go” for several Rabaul…

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Waitangi Day 2016

Treaty-Of-Waitangi

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For those who are unaware, the significant date marks 176 years since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, when representatives of the British Crown met with more than 500 Maori chiefs in Waitangi, Northland, to sign what is considered to be New Zealand’s founding document.

Each year in Tauranga, local kaumatua and kuia (elders), supported by rangatahi (young people) and clergy from community church groups, have joined together on Waitangi Day for a dawn service.

In some places around New Zealand, other re-enactments are done as a form of education to younger people of all heritages. Festivals and concerts dominate some centres, and the remaining people tend to soak up the summer weather along the many beaches of New Zealand.

On 6 February, at dawn, a service with a haka (Maori ancestral dance) will be performed at Mount Drury, NZ.

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The service starts with a karakia (blessing) by tangata whenua (people of the land) followed by a community service and open forum, giving participants an opportunity to share their thoughts about Waitangi Day.

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New Zealand Military Humor – 

FUNNY NEW ZEALAND PICTURES

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October 1943 (1)

Huon Peninsula, New Guinea, 5 Oct. 1943

Huon Peninsula, New Guinea, 5 Oct. 1943

2-4 October – on New Guinea, the Australians took control of Finschhafaen and the Allied troops were consolidated on the Huon Peninsula.  The Australians then reached Dumpu, only 30 miles (48 KM) from the northern coast.  This confined the enemy along that coastline.

4 October – the isolated Japanese post on Wake Island came under heavy naval and aerial bombardment from the US Navy Task Force 14, commanded by RAdm. Alfred Montgomery.  The B-24 Liberators dropped more than 320 tons (325 tonnes) of bombs.  Approximately 30 Japanese planes were destroyed on the ground and 31 counted downed by aerial combat.  The US lost 13.

solmap

4-6 October – the final Japanese forces were evacuated from New Georgia.  This left the enemy with no air base in the Solomons.  The final air battles cost the enemy 27 more aircraft.  The total cost for Vila airfield area: the US had 5,000 casualties, including 1,094 KIA and Japan had 2,500 KIA.  (expensive piece of property).

6 October – In Burma, Gen. Sir William Slim became the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Eastern Command and also led over the newly formed 14th Army.

12 October – at Rabaul, the crucial Japanese air and naval base was hit by a massive attack of 349 US bombers.  In all, a total of 20,540 tons (20,913 tonnes) were dropped on the heavily fortified post by the Allied strike.

 

1-22 October – final plans were made for Operation Galvanic landing on Bougainville for the next ‘hop’ through the Solomons (Operation Goodtime) meant orders for the Marines of US Task Force 311.  Aerial bombings of the island continued and the air base was severely damaged on the 18th.  The Japanese lost 123 aircraft during another air raid near Rabaul on the 22nd.

Bougainville, a 150 mile-long fiddle-shaped island is the largest of the Solomons.  It has jungle-covered mountains, 2 of which are volcanoes, and only narrow beaches to land on.  Adm. Halsey picked the code “Cherryblossom” for the 3rd Marines operation.  The 37th US Army Division to follow 1 November.  This force would be up against the 6th Imperial Division; 35,000 of the terrorists of Nanking.

Gen. Vandergrift

Gen. Vandergrift

The commander of the 3rd Marines mysteriously fell from his 3rd story window at his headquarters in Noumea.  Gen. Vandergrift was chosen to lead the men in for the initial landing.

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Military Humor – 

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getting-to-know-your-fauna-1.pngYou've got to align your sights, private!!

You’ve got to align your sights, Private!!

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Farewell Salutes – 

Pierre Bouvet – Mauritius; South African Air Force, WWII, 31st Bomber Squadron

Daniel Elloitt – Youngsville, NC; US Army, Iraq, MP command, KIA

Marcel Gagnon – San Leandro, CA; US Army, WWII, Bronze Starsalutetop

Jean-Paul Dubreuil – Port Coquitlam, CAN; RC Army, WWII, Korea, Major (Ret. 22 yrs.)

Howard Guthrie, Jr. – Vero Beach, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 58th Bomber Sq., radar

Alfred Hargreaves – Tauranga, NZ; RNZ Navy # 9315, WWII

Wallace McTammany – Providence, RI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Frank Peregory – Esmont, VA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 29th Division, Sgt.

Roy Rossiter – Abilene, TX; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Janet Sommerville – Payson, AZ; US State Dept. & French Underground, WWII

Gerald Walter – Owosso, MI; US Army, WWII, POW

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Boyington & his Black Sheep

Gregory 'Pappy' Boyington

Gregory ‘Pappy’ Boyington

The brashest, most publicized pilots of the Pacific Theater belonged to the appropriately named Black Sheep Squadron.  They were rowdy, profane, hard-drinking, fun-loving and credited with so many Japanese aircraft that they became legends in their own time.

The leader of this wild bunch was Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, a former Flying Tiger with 6 kills to his credit.  The boozing, brawling commander downed 28 enemy planes – more than any other Marine pilot.  He was born 4 December 1912 and in Coeur d’Alene, IA he took his first flight at 6 years old with barnstormer, Clyde Pangborn.  Boyington grew up thinking his step-father was his biological father and went by the name Hallenbeck.  It wasn’t until he graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in aeronautical engineering that he learned his real name.

35.jpgBlack sheep patch

Black Sheep Squadron patch.

Boyington formed the Black Sheep in the summer of ’43 when he noticed scattered pilots and aircraft unattached and unused by other units, despite the US forces need of more squadrons.  They flew their first mission 14 September in Chance Vought F4U Corsairs.

So confident of their success against the enemy, Boyington and his cohorts made a startling announcement in October 1943.  Having run out of baseball caps – their traditional headgear – they promised to shoot down a Japanese Zero for every cap sent to them from a major league baseball team.  In December, when the St. Louis Cardinals forwarded 20 caps, the daredevils more than kept their end of the bargain – 48 aircraft downed; 14 of them by Boyington himself.

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On 3 January 1944, the Black Sheep lost their commander.  During a fighter sweep over Rabaul, Boyington parachuted from his flaming plane into St. George Channel, just after bagging his 28th enemy aircraft.  He was picked up by a Japanese submarine and brought to Rabaul where he was interrogated and sent to Japan.  He remained a prisoner until 29 August 1945.  During his time as a POW, he was made a temporary Lt. Colonel and awarded the Medal of Honor and Navy Cross.   A TV series, staring Robert Conrad, Baa Baa Black Sheep, aired 1976-78, depicting Boyington and his crew’s antics and bravery.

Gregory Boyington passed away 11 January 1988 and was buried at Arlington Cemetery.

R.I.P.

R.I.P.

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Military Humor – 

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge ol’ Sad Sack.

made by Dennis the Vizsla's father.

made by Dennis the Vizsla’s father.

“I think Auntie (she wasn’t ‘Auntie’ then, of course) sent me the ‘Keep Smiling’ card. I got shipped to Crailsheim Germany because the Rehab Center needed two social workers, but six months later they closed it and I got reassigned to a hospital in Muenchweiler. They had no active psych. unit so I ran the PA system, paging people, and reading lots of books.

Dennis’s website is HERE.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Tom Abrash – Windsor, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Ray Brendemuehl – Milwaukee, WI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Natoma BayKXAC000A

Albert ‘Sonny’ Erickson – San Jose, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO

John Gunselman – Ephrata, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Div.

John Jones – Gloucester, NJ; US Navy, WWII, Korea, SeaBees

Jim McQueen – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 404466, WWII, ETO, POW

George Ogden – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Trevor Riordan – Sydney, AUS; RA Air Force # A222011, Vietnam, 9th Squadron

Melvin Strople – Gloucester, MA; US Army (Ret. 21 years), WWII & Korea

Steven Talamantez – Laredo, TX; US Army, Iraq, 1st Cavalry Div., Sgt., KIA

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R.A.A.F. Transport Pioneers

Added information about New Guinea.

The Rant Foundry

Aircrew and servicing personnel who travelled on the Lockheed Lodestar aircraft of No. 37 Squadron RAAF which escorted the Supermarine Spitfire aircraft of No. 452 Squadron RAAF during the move from Sattler airfield, near Darwin, NT, to Morotai Island in the Halmahera Islands, Dutch East Indies. They are seen here at Merauke, Dutch New Guinea, the first stop on the long flight. [AWM OG3059] Aircrew and servicing personnel working on a Lockheed Lodestar aircraft of No. 37 Squadron RAAF seen here at Merauke, Dutch New Guinea, the first stop on the long flight. [AWM OG3059] During 1943, an Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircrew pioneered the longest transport route in the world to be flown by a single crew, from Laverton in Victoria to the Kamiri strip in Noemfoor Island, Dutch New Guinea, a distance of over 3,200 kilometres (2,000 miles) across the towering unexplored mountain ranges of central New Guinea. The pioneer crew on this record-making run were Flight-Lieutenant R.W. Shore – captain; Flight-Lieutenant W.O. Francis – observer; Flight-Sergeant J. Caduch; Flight-Sergeant D. Sherton; and Sergeant N. Lazarus.

The route eventually became a regular run for the 37th Squadron’s aircrews who, flying Lodestars, linked Melbourne with the farthest RAAF outposts of New Guinea. Regularly flying 44 hours, these young Australians, most of whom…

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September 1943 (3)

Australian troops with a 25-pounder

Australian troops with a 25-pounder

Picture by Roy Cecil Hodgkinson and courtesy of Rant Foundry.

19-26 September – American and Australian forces continued to close their ring around the port at Nadzab, New Guinea.  The Japanese command withdrew some troops to defend Lae, but this action was too late.  The enemy retreated towards Sio as the Allies advanced.  On the 22nd, Lae fell into Australian hands and the enemy was forced to take the only route out, over the mountains to the north coast. (See map below).

The Australian Infantry Battalion of the 9th Division made an amphibious landing north of Finschhafen.  They were met by a counterattack of 5,000 Japanese troops who failed.  Finschhafen would be captured 2 October.  US aircraft continued to hit the enemy airstrip at Wewak; more than 60 aircraft were destroyed on the ground, while offshore, 6 enemy ships were sunk.

14th NZ Brigade at Vella Lavella

14th NZ Brigade at Vella Lavella

 

20-24 September – New Zealand forces cleared the island of Vella Lavella of all Japanese oppositions.  This allowed operations to begin from the newly acquired airfield as air coverage for the North Solomon Island campaigns.

limpet mine, attached by magnets

limpet mine, attached by magnets

26-27 September – 6 Australian Special Force men, led by Major Ivan Lyon, used canoes under cover of darkness to penetrate the enemy shipping at Singapore harbour.  They placed limpet mines on select vessels; 2 enemy transports sunk and 5 others were damaged.

The swift and powerful momentum of the Allies in capturing the Huon Peninsula of New Guinea gave them a jumping-off base to invade New Britain.  This alarmed the Japanese command at Rabaul at the other end of the island.  The enemy garrison on Bougainville (300 miles to the southeast) was all that stood between the main Japanese base in the South Pacific and the other wing of Allied advance.

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Japanese Imperial General Headquarters reversed their plans once more by ordering Imamura’s reserve troops to hold Bougainville and made it the Japanese priority.  The Japanese Combined Fleet was ordered to assist in this operation, but Admiral Koga was already planning to meet the Americans in the Central Pacific.  He moved to Eniwetok and ended up arriving too late to prevent the US landing on Bougainville. (This will be discussed in future posts).

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Please Remember Them – image025

President Nixon ordered a cease-fire for midnight 27/28 January 1973 – and our men started coming home!!!!  Please remember those who did not…..

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bold – Chaseley, ND; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, navigator/Morse Code

Helen Castellano – Peekskill, NY; NY Military Academy, nurse (Ret. 22 years)Lonely_candle

Stan Emiec – Williamstown, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 188th/11th Airborne Div.

Albert Gutierrez – Miami Beach, FL; USMC, Kuwait, Major, KIA

William Hiatt – Denver, CO; US Army, Colonel, Surgeon

Christopher Buck Johnson – Alva, OK; US Army, Vietnam, helicopter pilot, Purple Heart, Bronze Star

Joseph Mazza – Pittsburgh, PA; US Navy, WWII, USS Wichita, medical

John Rowlands – W.AUST; British Army, WWII, 20th King’s Hussars

Edward Stapela – Waterloo, IA; US Army, WWII

James Whyte – Tauranga, NZ; RNZ Army # 240826, WWII

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503rd PIR, Nadzab, New Guinea

503rd PIR patch

503rd PIR patch

Many members of MacArthur’s staff were not enthusiastic about the plan. Allied resources were thin, and Japanese air and ground strength was formidable. Many military planners were skeptical of airborne operations. Some questioned the viability of the entire concept. German paratroops had suffered unsustainable casualties assaulting Crete in May, 1941. Allied airborne operations had met with disaster invading Sicily in July, 1943. Experience argued against establishing additional airborne units. Nevertheless, Kenney was convinced that with proper planning and support his plan would succeed. Fifth Air Force firepower was committed to provide close air support, and the troopers would be dropped in one lift to achieve mass and surprise. 

This was the first combat jump for the 503rd PIR.

The U.S. 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) was tasked to jump on Nadzab, New Guinea, to seize, clear and defend the airstrip. The 503rd PIR was one the first operational airborne units created by the U.S. Army. The paratroopers had been training for eight months in Australia and were ready to fight. The regiment was reinforced by a section of Australian parachute field artillery. They would later be joined by a small, elite unit of Australian engineers tasked with making the field operational. The U.S. 871st Airborne Engineer Battalion would be air-landed after the initial drop to clear the way for the transports ferrying in the Australian infantry. The operation started on September 5, one day after the amphibious assault by the 9th Australian Division south of Lae.

Landing of the 503rd Parachute Regiment

Landing of the 503rd Parachute Regiment

That dawn, seventy-nine transport planes and swarms of fighters and bombers departed from eight forward airfields scattered across New Guinea. They flew fast and low through the misty mountains of the Owen Stanley Range and rendezvoused over Nadzab. Allied fighters established a multi-layered air umbrella; medium bombers strafed and bombed suspected enemy positions while attack bombers put down smoke screens along the edges of the drop zones. Three columns of transport planes, flying at an altitude of 600 feet, dropped the paratroopers. Once the troopers had secured and marked the drop zones, heavy bombers, carrying 300 pound supply parcels rigged with parachutes, began to circle and drop additional supplies to the ground force.

503rd landing behind smoke screen

503rd landing behind smoke screen

The Japanese were completely surprised. They had no troops in the area, and within hours the airstrip at Nadzab was firmly in Allied hands. The engineers worked feverishly to improve the strip while the paratroopers established a defensive perimeter and sent out reconnaissance patrols toward Lae. Advanced elements of the Australian 7th Division flew into Nadzab on September 6. By September 10, the division’s lead brigade, supported by Fifth Air Force transports and bombers, was on its way to Lae. The Japanese could not stop the assault, and the fortress fell on September 16. The supply lines to Rabaul were cut, and the Allies passed another milestone on their way to Tokyo.

The 503rd PIR assault on Nadzab was one of history’s most successful airborne operations. General MacArthur called it the greatest example of combat efficiency he had ever witnessed. The results had skeptical minds in the army and elsewhere reconsidering their objections to airborne operations. General Kenney’s imaginative use of airpower and willingness to accept risk, combined with the flexibility of Australian ground commanders and the superb tactical skill of Allied soldiers and airmen, did more than shorten the war in the Pacific.  (This action was prior to the regiment joining the 11th Airborne Division.)

Information acquired from the U.S. Army.

Here is a very short video made of the jump!

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PERSONAL NOTE –  Our fellow blogger Mustang Koji and his family are supporting a worthy program for our deployed troops, Operation GratitudePlease pay them both a visit!

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HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY 2016!! Australia-Day-January-26-2016-with-the-Australian-Map (640x480)

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Military Humor –

"Yum, what a dish that is!

“Yum, what a dish that is!

Pict0023

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Francis Blackwell Alley – Tyron, NC; US Army WAC, WWII

Mark Cofield – Colorado Springs, CO; US Army, Iraq, XVIII A/B Corps, Sgt., KIA0083f165f66161f63454e92890403bcd

Jerry Davis – Cedar Ridge, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Edwin Fields – VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 8th Air Force, B-24 gunner

Leo Hallahan – Dubuque, IA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Earl Martin – Brush Prairie, WA; US Merchant Marines, WWII

Alex Ochipa – Berwick, PA; US Army, WWII

Orville Petty – Jacksonville, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Vincent Quigley – Scarborough, CAN; RC Army, WWII, Irish Regiment

William Unger – Belvidere, KS & New Orleans, LA; USMC (Ret. 30 years), WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Navy Cross

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A Story of WWII from My Father

Andrew has a story from his father!!

Andrew's View of the Week

My father was a great story-teller.  He had a story for every occasion and could enthrall an audience with his wit and humor.  His memory and stories often come to my mind this time of year with memorial day just past and the anniversary of the WWII D-Day invasion just coming up this next week on the 6th.  He could take the simplest event and spin an engaging story about it – often with a punch line.  The story always had a point, either humor or something he was trying to teach.

When I was a boy I especially liked his Army stories.  Father served in WWII as a radar maintenance man in the 279th Army Coast Artillery Corp in the Aleutian Islands.  He repaired and operated the SRC-296 gun sighting radar and later the SCR-584.  He served time on different islands but most often talked about Attu. Shemya and…

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Tribute – Ernest V. Plantz, USN

Ernest Plantz

Ernest Plantz

GROTON, Conn. (Tribune News Service) — A standing-room-only crowd of veterans, family, friends and fellow shipmates in the U.S. Navy jammed the Noank Baptist Church on Saturday to remember the life of Ernest V. Plantz, a recipient of a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and his “love, strength and courage.”  Plantz, one of the first inductees to the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame, died on Dec. 19 at his Gales Ferry home at age 95.

He spent three-and-a-half years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp after he and others on the crew of the USS Perch were captured.  Plantz weighed just 80 pounds when he was freed and needed 10 months in a Navy hospital to recuperate, yet went on to serve for 30 years in the Navy as soon as he was able.

He retired at the rank of lieutenant as director of advanced engineering at the Naval Submarine School in Groton.

“Ernie was a bullheaded, stubborn person, yet he was filled with love for all,” Jack Gallimore, base chaplain of the U.S. Submarine Veterans Groton Base, told an overflow crowd at the church.  Gallimore said he always made it a point to get a hug from Plantz whenever he could.

“I will miss that,” Gallimore said.

Two dozen submarine veterans in uniform stood in Plantz’ honor at the front of the church. Trumpeters played “Taps” and “Reveille.”

Caroline Plantz, Ernie Plantz’ wife, said she thought her husband had suffered some hard knocks in life, but “he always said that he had a good life,” she said.

Plantz’ daughter, Nancy Grant, remembered her father as a humble, thoughtful and loyal dad who loved to garden, paid homage to his southern roots while cooking and delighted in a good prank.

She recalled how his hugs let his children know they were loved, and that when things were tough, “Dad always believed that things would get better.”

The Rev. Kevin Bedford, of Progressive Baptist Church, described how Plantz touched his life. Bedford recalled he once considered resigning the Navy, and told Plantz.  “I gave him my resignation, and he ripped it up and said, ‘Call me when you make commander,’” Bedford said. So Bedford did, and called Plantz.

Then, when Bedford’s father died, Plantz said to him, “I bet you didn’t know you had a second dad.”

 Capt. Paul F. McHale described how Plantz, known as “the kid” for being the youngest man on the USS Perch, returned to the Navy despite his suffering as a prisoner of war.
USS Perch, first submarine sunk by the Japanese.

USS Perch, first submarine sunk by the Japanese.

The Perch was on its second war patrol when a Japanese destroyer escort forced it to submerge and was joined by other Japanese ships that dropped depth charges on it.

The sub was badly damaged but not destroyed because it sank into a muddy bottom. But the attack continued.

Then later, when the sub surfaced, the crew realized it could not submerge again. Plantz found himself in the water with his 59 shipmates, McHale said.

Seeing the USS Perch sink for the final time was, in Plantz’ words, “like watching your house burn,” McHale said.

Yet even after the misery that followed Plantz’ capture, he returned to service on submarines.  “The man had a huge heart,” McHale said.  McHale said his oldest son interviewed Plantz for an English course once, and asked Plantz a question: Knowing he would be captured, spend three years in a POW camp and be tortured, would he still have joined the Navy?

Plantz told him absolutely.

Ernest Plantz

Ernest Plantz

d.straszheim@theday.com

©2016 The Day (New London, Conn.)
Visit The Day (New London, Conn.) at http://www.theday.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Current News –

Remains of Korea War MIA to be buried

After 75 years, remains of 5 USS Oklahoma sailors are identified

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 Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Everett Armstrong – Vona, CO; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Leslie Beck – Oklahoma City, OK; US Army, Vietnam

Stephen ‘Skip’ Bignell – Whangarei, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 47003 & 44904, WWII, J Force Squadron

Gerard Fromm – Juno Beach, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWIItribute

Virgil Lanpher – Thorntown, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 127th Engineers/11th Airborne

Warren McDonough – Central City, KY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Kenneth Olsen – Windsor, CAN; Canadian Merchant Navy, WWII

Donald Reeve – Oakdale, MN; US Navy, WWII

David Stewart – Auburn, AL; US Air Force, Korea, Distinguished Flying Cross

Ken Williamson – Gympie Qld., AUS; RA Air Force # 022971, Squadron Leader

Try to keep in your thoughts that this year is the 25th Anniversary of the Gulf War.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_War

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