Moving Day

Sprucing up the troops

Sprucing up the troops

This photograph was signed by two of my father’s buddies, John S. Lodero and Phil Martorano, both of Brooklyn, New York. Smitty (Everett Smith) is circled, but which two men are John and Phil is unknown.

When the SCAP Headquarters was set up in Tokyo, MacArthur was determined to create a “Peaceful and responsible government…” He also had to administer to a nation with nearly 70 million near-starving civilians and a constantly growing population of soldiers. The Japanese made the transition of being under one totalitarian rule to another quite easily and the general proceeded to supervise the writing and implementation of a new constitution. This was adopted in 1947, retaining the Emperor as a constitutional monarch and reestablished the primacy of the Diet. The zaibatu industrial combines were broken up and women were given rights. [This explains the obituary pictured at the bottom of this post that recently appeared in The Week magazine.]

resort pamphlet Smitty brought home from Japan

resort pamphlet Smitty brought home from Japan

The 11th Airborne was amazed by the change of attitude of the populace; without ever having actually been invaded, the Americans were being accepted. It made their future missions so much easier to accomplish. The Americal Division relieved the 11 A/B 14 September at their present locations and the following day, they began moving out by truck and railroad to their newly assigned zones in northern Honshu. Gen. Swing requested Gen. Dorn, who had served with Gen. Stilwell in China, to head the convoy.In the Sendai area and billeted at the Japanese arsenal [name to be changed to Camp Schimmelpfennig, after the chief of staff who was killed in combat] were the – Division Headquarters, 127th Engineers, 408th Quartermaster, 711th Ordnance, 511th Signal, 221st Medical, Parachute Maintenance and the 187th and 188th regiments. The 511th went to Morioka [ name would be changed to Camp Haugen, for their leader killed in combat], the 457th and the 152d moved to Akita, the 472d went to Yamagata, the 674th was divided and sent to Jimmachi and Camp Younghans and the 675th went to Yonezawa.

In the Sendai area, Japanese authorities turned over hotels in the Matsushima area for officer’s quarters and their staff, which explains how Smitty came home with these beautiful brochures you will see pictured here. If you click on and enlarge the photo, you can see where Smitty pointed to the sort of room he was given.

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At one point while moving supplies, Eli Bernheim (S-4 Section of the 187th reg.), remembered the convoy of 40 Japanese charcoal burning trucks always breaking down and they became lost. The interpreter and Eli took out their map and became surrounded by curious townspeople. Eli slung his rifle over his shoulder and they scattered. The interpreter suggested laying the weapon down and the civilians regrouped and began touching his hair – turns out they had never seen an American before. I suppose the word must have spread, because after that incident, the convoy was warmly greeted in every town they passed through. Once in their respective areas, the first priority was living conditions and the Japanese barracks were primitive with ancient plumbing and sewage deposited in reservoirs to be picked up later by farmers and used as fertilizer. The division historian recorded that of all the traffic accidents within the 11th A/B’s zone, NO trooper was ever guilty of hitting one of those “honey carts.”

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General Swing made General Pierson commander of the 187th and 188th joint group which became known as the Miyagi Task Force. They set up their headquarters in an insurance company building in Sendai. The principle responsibility of the Miyagi Task Force was to collect and destroy all arms, munitions and armament factories. They were also charged with seeing that General MacArthur’s edicts were all carried out. Many of the military installations had underground tunnels filled with drill presses and machine tools of all types. The entire zone needed to be demilitarized and equipment destroyed. Colonel Tipton discovered a submarine base for the two-man subs and a small group of men still guarding them. They told the colonel that they just wanted to go home.

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Inside this brochure my father wrote, “No liquor here so didn’t have to go behind the bar, we drank our own. This is where I had my first real hot bath since coming overseas.”

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Personal request – If anyone reads Japanese, please feel free to translate any writing you see. I requested the assistance of several universities that carried Oriental studies, but never received replies. Thank you.

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Farewell Salute – Alan Wood of the U.S. Navy, provided the flag which was used for the iconic photograph of our men raising the flag on Iwo Jima. He had brought the flag with him on the Naval vessel LST – 779 from a salvage depot at Pearl Harbor. He has recalled to reporters – “a Marine coming toward me, only about 19, but he looked so old, and he asked for my flag. I asked why and the marine said – you won’t regret it.”

Alan Wood

Alan Wood

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Resources: “The Angels” and “Rakkasans” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan; Everett’s scrapbook; The Week magazine; Foxnews.com

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on April 30, 2013, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 52 Comments.

  1. Thank you for all the likes … appreciate the history and vintage look

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  2. the Japs are great fighters, i happened to meet with a solder who engaged them in the great war, their military prowess and shrewdness topped every word that came from his mouth. thanks again for an insightful article.

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  3. Amazing blog thanks for stopping by mine and I love reading history so will book mark your blog and come back again

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    • Thank you for stopping back. As I continually remind all my readers, if you have a story of this era, feel free to add it in, the more the merrier and they all need to be remembered.

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  4. irishroverpei

    Shortly after D Day my brother-in-law was sent to the Far East, he was there for the surrender of Japan. Not sure where it was but he accepted the sword from a surrendering Japanese officer, he brought the sword home along with Japanese money that had been blowing in the streets when the war ended.

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  5. My Dad spent four years fighting the Japanese in what we call the Far East. Somewhere I still have some of his photos. He had a deep and uncompromising hatred/loathing of the Japanese.

    Years later I was on an RNZN frigate that scanned the wreck of Prince of Wales on the seabed with sidescan sonar, as we went over the sunken battleship I went out on the upper deck from curiosity, saw our PO Steward holding the guardrails and staring glassily into the deep. I only discovered later that his Dad was still down there …

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  6. How fascinating! I love the photographs and the pamphlets and brochures. Such a visual step back in time.

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  7. Great little tid bits of history. I loved how the natives were curious about Americans, the story about the use of Iwo Jima flag and …a first hot bath! Thanks for sharing.

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  8. The article on Gordon’s contribution to the constitution is fascinating. Just shows; we never know what we may be called upon to do. And all credit to those who believed she was capable of the task.

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  9. My uncle, a WWII Vet who had been to Japan in 1945, told me something about those “Honey Carts”. 😉

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    • I suppose word would get around pretty quick to avoid those things at all costs!! Any idea what part of Japan your uncle was in? Stories to tell?

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      • Indeed it would!!…lol I’m not positive where he actually went ashore. He was Navy. Mentioned Tokyo Bay. Lots of stories, though most aren’t exactly ‘family entertainment’…lol

        The two that stick in my mind most that are ‘safe’ are a Luftwaffe air raid he was caught up in, in Cornwall and one night on lookout on his ship, some guy that kept screaming U-BOAT!!! every time a fish or dolphin leaped out of the ocean….lol

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        • Feel free to tell any story you remember, Kevin. This IS a blog about war after-all. But, the dolphin-Uboat one sounds great, gave me a chuckle.

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  10. This is all so interesting. The part about the Japanese approaching the Americans to touch their hair is so poignant. And that Beate Sirota Gordan — my goodness, when I think of me at 22, I have to laugh!

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  11. This is a great post. Very entertaining and also rich the history value. I love the writing.

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  12. Wonderful post – very entertaining and full of information. What a gift you have for research.
    Your last comment reminded me of a story that won’t appear in my blog for a long time, since it deals with something that happened at the end of the war, and we are still at the beginning of the war letters. As I was recording the memories of Dave, my father’s youngest brother, who was in Okinawa and Manilla, he was reminded of this story.
    “I had a friend who was MacArthur’s driver, chauffeur, and this guy said that whenever MacArthur went in some place, he’d always get one of these oriental houses where there was a porch all the way around the building. He’d go to the first one and say “Give me your report.” It might be a question, it might be a problem, or it might just be a report. Then he’d go around the whole building, see the whole staff, all giving him these questions. Then he’d get in his car and tell my friend’s friend “Drive me.” They’d drive around and pretty soon MacArthur would say, “OK, let’s go back.” Then he’d say, “You, — blah, blah, blah. You, — blah, blah, blah.” He went around the whole thing telling each one of his staff members what to do about his problem. What a brain. There shouldn’t be enough room in there for an ego, but there was.”

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  13. one of the soldiers who raised the flag at Iwo Jima was from my home town, Oxnard, California.

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  14. Fascinating story on Beate Sirota Gordon. Quite a woman.
    Funny to read about the Japanese touching the hair. In the 1960’s when I was in a small northern Japanese town, while I stood on a corner, an old man came up and ran his fingers through my (blonde) hair.

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  15. EmilyAnn Frances

    Correction for Miyajima Hoteru. I just realized the character for Shima is also pronounced Jima and means “island”. So the translation for Miyajima is something like “Island Shrine”. I think this Is near Hiroshima.

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  16. EmilyAnn Frances

    I have limited knowledge of the hiragana and katakana phonetic symbols. I will let you know which words I recognize on the brochures. This will make what’s there a little clearer.

    Miyajima Hotel, Ltd Brochure: To be read from top to bottom. On the left hand side, the 3rd, 4th and 5th characters are katakana. These are the characters used to phonetically represent words of foreign origin. Often the pronunciation is the Japanese interpretation of how the word sounds in the original language.

    Thrd characater is Ho
    Fourth charater is Te
    Fifth character is Ru

    This makes for the katakana word Hoteru, which is Japanese for hotel.

    I think the first character is the Chinese character which the Japanese use for their pronuciation of Miya, which means Shrine or Shinto shrine. The second character may be the Chinese character which Japanese pronounce shima or jima. Thus this could be Miyajima meaning shrine in the water.

    The first seven characters then are simply Miajima Hoteru.

    Gamagori Hotel brochure: To be read from top to bottom. Third, fourth and fifth characters are Hoteru, same as explained above.

    Sanno Hotel brochure: The Chinese and Katakana at the bottom are to be read from right to left.

    The first character going in from the right is pronounced Yama (Japanese for Mountain) and in Chinese it is pronounced San or -zan when at the end of a word. Here it is probably the San in the hotel name. I can’t remember right now what the second means. Then the third, fourth and fifth characters are Hoteru. The hotel name has something to do with mountains.

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    • Thank you so much, EmilyAnn, you have a remarkable gift. I really appreciate your taking the time to layout such a detailed explanation. I hope all the others readers take the time to view this.

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  17. Pierre Lagacé

    I love this blog!

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  18. I wish I could still read Japanese, I’d be able to help out. The ability to comprehend their script disappears quickly once the need for it goes away.

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  19. What a well written (and illustrated) post. I hope you find someone who can read the Japanese.

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  20. Good story – I enjoyed reading it!

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  21. As always, I read things I have never heard before.
    Lillian

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