Monthly Archives: May 2013

G-2 Intelligence/ Nisei part 1

Kai Rasmussen (center)

Kai Rasmussen (center)

Smitty held the Nisei in very high regard and I would be remiss in neglecting to tell their story. Beside, one of these men might have been directly responsible for the safe return of my father. In reality, it would be near impossible to relate a story of the Pacific War without mentioning their service. Some of this unique intelligence force worked ‘behind the scene’ stateside U.S.A. or Australia, but many were up front and fighting at and behind enemy lines. Smitty always had extreme appreciation for the courage, resilience and down-right crazy stunts they pulled off. They were capable of going behind the lines to acquire information or cut into the radio lines and all the while they remained quite aware that their own units might mistake them for the enemy when they returned. This did happen more than once.

Most everyone is aware of whom the Nisei are, but for clarification purposes, here are some of the terms that might be used in this section:

AJA – Americans of Japanese Ancestry
MISers – the name used for students and graduates of the Military Intelligence Service Language School
Issei – first generation Japanese-American
Nisei – second generation Japanese-American, (this term is for definition only – Nisei prefer to state that they are American)
Kibei – Japanese-American who received education in Japan

At the language school, the students were crammed with courses and put on a strict schedule. Some courses included:

Kanji – a Japanese method of writing based on Chinese logographic characters
Kaisho – the printed form of Kanji and can only be read by someone who has memorized a great number of ideographs
Gyosho – hand written Japanese, very similar to the Palmer Method of Penmanship and is very difficult for Americans
Sosho – the shorthand version of Kanji and almost impossible for an American to learn. Most Japanese field orders were taken down by this method.

Kai Rasmussen recruitment letter - date  6/14/74  at bottom is when this letter was de-classified

Kai Rasmussen recruitment letter – date 6/14/74 at bottom is when this letter was de-classified

It must be noted that many of these men had family incarcerated in detainment camps and serving in the Imperial Army & Navy, but in school, on the job and in combat they loyally worked to do their level best. The language school began 1 November 1941 at Crissy Field, with Lt. Colonel John Wickerling in charge. His right hand man, educator and recruiter, Kai Rasmussen, was a primary force in the success of the school. He was a West Point grad who spoke Japanese with a Danish accent and would eventually earn the Legion of Merit for his efforts.

A move was necessary from San Francisco to Camp Savage, Minnesota. The change in location was largely due to the bigotry that had overwhelmed California at the time. The most influential white supremacists included: Earl Warren; The Natives Sons and Daughters of the Golden West; William Randolph Hearst and his newspapers and Congessman Leland Ford. Eventually, the school needed to expand and moved to Fort Snelling, St. Paul.

Rasmussen’s right hand man was John Fujio Aiso, an attorney out of Brown and Harvard and had studied at Chuo University in Tokyo. (He was originally assigned to a motor pool because the Army felt they had no need for additional lawyers.) Rasmussen traveled across the country in attempts to find candidates for the school. The Pentagon had kept the paperwork for the operations of the Nisei secret for three decades, but Smitty began talking about them once I was old enough to ask questions.

When the first graduates were sent to the Pacific and landed in Australia, they were part of the Americal troops. Many were sent to help with the fighting on Iwo Jima, which MacArthur felt was taking far too long to complete. Some stayed and worked with the Australian troops and others went to British or Canadian units. (Canada also had their own S-20 Japanese Language School in Vancouver, British Columbia to train interpreters.) Only the U.S. Navy rejected the linguists. Admiral Halsey did in fact understand their importance and requested some MISers for his fleet, but as a whole, Nimitz and the rest of the navy wanted to continue using their own intelligence personnel. (A very serious mistake in Leyte Gulf.)

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

It was difficult to locate the Nisei that worked G-2 specifically for the 11th Airborne because the men were rarely ever put on the official rosters. A MISer could train with the 11th on New Guinea and by December he was in Burma or up in the Aleutians. They were as difficult to track as the 11th A/B themselves. One Nisei found himself stuck at the Panama Canal, not at all certain what he was supposed to do there. But, I did manage to locate a fair number of fellow paratroopers from Smitty’s division: Clarence Ohta and John Nakahara jumped with the 11th on Luzon. George Kojima, Koshi Ando and James Harada were with the 503d Regiment. Harry Akune jumped on Corregidor without any training, injured his ankle and went to work translating immediately. He was later at Atsugi airfield with MacArthur. After the service he went back to college. There was also: Robert Kimura and Mitsuo Usui; Takeshi “Jim” Fujisaka (lived in Fresno, CA and passed away 7 Sept. 1996); Tetsuo Koga; Norman Kihuta (with the 511th G-2 was discharged 6 Jan. 1946); Mike Miyatake went back to his customs job after his discharge; Akira Abe took his parachute training, flew to New Guinea and continued with the 11th A/B throughout Leyte and Luzon. Jiro Tukimura and Eddie Tamada were also noted in the records.

In February of 1943, the Taiyo Maru, a Japanese transport ship, was sunk and a lifeboat washed up on Goodenough Island, north of New Guinea;s eastern tip. On that boat was a document that included a list of 40,000 Imperial Army officers from Hideki Tojo on down. These papers, once translated, gave the rank of each officer, unit assigned, the order of battle and the amount of men in each of these units. This information along with documents previously acquired and translated established the exact location of all Japanese units. This work alone was worth the time and effort of forming the MIS.

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Memorial Day

never-forget

FOR ALL THOSE WHO HAVE SERVED…. FOR ALL YOUR SACRIFICES…. FOR YOUR COURAGE…. I CAN ONLY ATTEMPT TO EXPRESS MY UNENDING GRATITUDE….

Luzon cemetery

Luzon cemetery

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Arlington Cemetery

Arlington Cemetery

world-war-ii-memorial

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A new memorial for South Florida.

A new memorial for South Florida.

………………………………………………….. THANK YOU……………………………

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Click on photos to enlarge.

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Farewell Salute – Frederick Vreuls, 87, passed away in Delray Beach, FL. Served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Bunker Hill where he earned a Purple Heart for injuries sustained from a kamikaze attack on May 11, 1945.

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Dedication

187th, Headquarters Company, 11th Airborne Division - Smitty is in the back row, 5th from the right

187th, Headquarters Company, 11th Airborne Division – Smitty is in the back row, 5th from the right

The first men of the 187th Regiment at Camp MacKall seen above as they embark on a journey into the Pacific to become the “Rakkasans” known worldwide for their participation in WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam War and Desert Storm…

Major William C. Lee, Father of the Airborne

Major William C. Lee, Father of the Airborne

Here is the 11th Airborne Song: DOWN FROM HEAVEN,
An original composition by: Lt. Col. Byron Paige
Arranged by: Sgt. George Whissen

11th A/B shoulder patch

11th A/B shoulder patch

Down from Heaven come Eleven and there’s Hell to pay below
Shout “Geronimo” “Geronimo”
Hit the silk and check your canopy and take a look around
The air is full of troopers set for the battle on the ground
Till we join the stick of “Angels” killed on Leyte and Luzon
Shout “Geronimo” “Geronimo”
It’s a gory road to glory but we’re ready here we go
Shout “Geronimo” “Geronimo”

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Special thanks to the Paratroopers of the 50’s for this info. Should you wish to hear this song and others, see old photos,etc. go to http://home.hiwaay.net/~magro/abn.html On their home page is an index with a massive amount of information about paratroopers of all decades.

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For Smitty – we always try to give the tough events a lighter side –

"Geronimo!"

“Geronimo!”

Click on photos to enlarge

Going Home

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Gradually, the men of the 11th Airborne Division would earn their points to be shipped back home and they would allow the fresh, green G.I.’s to take their place in the occupation of Japan.

Click on any photo to enlarge.

Everett (Smitty) Smith would return to Broad Channel, New York to restart his civilian life in February 1946. He gradually got to know Lillian Barrow during his morning rides on the bus, going to his job and he would chuckle whenever he related that story. Despite my mother’s protests, he would relate that he knew why Lillian was always on the same bus with him, but she was being coy. “I was just going to work myself,” my mother argued. Smitty would reply, “Then how do you explain that your job was in the opposite direction than the bus was going? You didn’t know that I was aware of that, did you?” No matter what the reason, they were married 20 September 1947 and I showed up nearly three years later.

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With many thanks to Matt Underwood, Editor of the “Voice” 11th Airborne Association, the ribbons were identified and an explanation of Smitty’s qualifications were explained:
Yellow-orange ribbon with the red, white and blue stripe is the Asian-Pacific Campaign
The PTO ribbon on the ribbon bar shows 3 stars, while the Philippine Liberation ribbon (all red with 2 even-width white and blue stripes in the center) show 2 stars and arrowheads with a slightly non-regulation preference and flair.
What is missing, but is in his records, is the ribbon for the Occupation of Japan. Mr. Underwood explained that many did not receive these as they had been shipped home before the ribbon supply arrived at the base.

The qualification and badges say that he was a primary front line combat infantryman, but his specialist rating (the “T” in the “T-5” rank) was probably because he was rated an Expert in the 37mm Tank Destroyer cannon.

Discharge

Discharge

Smitty’s discharge papers list four campaign stars for the PTO ribbon when most of the 187th Regiment only received three. The Bronze Arrowhead was for the invasion of Luzon, specifically for the 11th Airborne’s joint airborne and amphibious assault landings at Nasugbu Beach and Tagatay Ridge; both south of Manila on 31 January and 3 February 1945 respectfully.

I can honestly say that, as far as I am aware, my father had only one regret in his life and that would be leaving the service. Although my mother would have protested adamantly, he often told me that he should have stayed in the army.

Letter from Pres. Reagan

Letter from Pres. Reagan

Everett (Smitty) Smith passed away 14 May 1988, he was 73 years old. He left behind many who cared for and respected him, but very few who knew this story.

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Smitty and his mother, Anna

Smitty and his mother, Anna

Smitty is seen here at the corner of 9th Road and Cross Bay Blvd. in Broad Channel after returning home.

Researching

Researching

And, here we are in the present, trying to piece everything together. This is not the end of Smitty’s stories… we have yet to talk about the intelligence part in the war, the spies, and still more on the enemy.

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ARMED FORCES DAY

Armed-Forces-Day

In the U.S., if you do not fly your flag everyday, here is a special occasion to put out the sign of your patriotism! In 1949, President Truman decided to consolidate the individual Army, Navy, Marine, etc. days into one as a means of signifying the unification of all the military forces under a single government. (The Marines did not give up their day, but also celebrate AFD.)

afdposter

The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated on Saturday, 20 May 1950. Armed Forces Week begins on the second Saturday of May and ends on the third Sunday of May. Due to their unique schedules, the National Guard and the Reserve units may celebrate AFD/Week any time in May.

flag

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953 – “Today let us, as Americans, honor the American fighting man. For it is he – the soldier, the sailor, the Airman, the Marine – who has fought to preserve freedom.”

Armed Forces Day 5-18

December 1945 – The story of the sword

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This was the Christmas card sent from Japan to Broad Channel, New York in December 1945. Anna Smith had been waiting to hear this news from her son Everett (Smitty) for over three years. On the back, it reads:

“Dear Mom:
This is the best Xmas card I’ve sent to you since getting in the army. I figured this would be what you have always been waiting to see, here it goes.

“I’m finally on my way, so don’t send any more mail.
Love, Everett
“P.S. I’ll keep you posted on my various stops.”

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Even though Smitty had earned his points to go home, he was still an NCO on General Swing’s staff and was required to finish out his duties as such. After going through combat in the South Pacific, it would be in peaceful occupational Japan where Smitty’s temper would get the better of him.

Non-nonchalantly going about his business at the headquarters of Camp Schimmelpfennig, Smitty just happened to glance through the glass partition that sealed off Gen. Swing’s office. Inside was an officer holding and admiring the Japanese sword that his commander intended to keep and bring home as a souvenir. Smitty didn’t think much of it at the time; he was busy and many people commented on the weapon. so he continued down the hallway. A short while later, the entire office could hear the general demanding to know what had become of his sword. It was gone.

My father didn’t think twice, this was his general. He went into the room and told Swing what he had witnessed. Without a second thought, the two men went to the other officer’s office, but neither the man or sword was there. The officer in question showed a few moments later. When the general explained why they were waiting for him, the officer became indignant and professed his innocence (just a tad too much). My father said the air of tension in the room became thick enough to use a machete on. This was when Smitty’s temper went out of control and with one right cross – sent the officer through his own glass partition.

Of course, this action made it necessary to bust Smitty back down to private, but he didn’t care about that. He was still furious that the sword was never returned. It all could have gone worse if the general had not been there or if he did not believe Smitty’s word. Smitty said it was worth being busted just to wipe the smirky grin off the officer’s face. The officer, I believe, was a replacement and had not seen much (if any) combat, just a blow-heart. Smitty later offered his two Japanese swords to General Swing, but he refused. My father didn’t believe the general would have taken the Emperor’s own sword as a replacement. I can clearly see my father’s face contort when he thought of the thief and he would say, “That know-nothing mattress salesman from Texas!” I’m sure it was for the best that the two men never met again stateside as civilians.

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Unfortunately, a similar incident occurred to my father. As he happily began packing to go home, Smitty noticed that an expensive set of carved ivory chop sticks he had purchased somehow had disappeared. They also were never recovered. (I had often wondered if the two incidents had been related, but I suppose we’ll never know.)

Everett A. Smith - aka "Pops" or "Smitty"

Everett A. Smith – aka “Pops” or “Smitty”

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Much can be said about General Joseph May Swing that I am very surprised no one had written his biography. He stood tall and lean with prematurely white hair and arresting blue eyes. The man had an instinct for command and left an impressive and formidable impression on all he met.

Swing was born on 28 February 1894 and graduated in the star-studded West Point class of 1915. His fellow classmates included Dwight D. Eisenhower and Generals Bradley, Beukema, Ryder, Irwin, McNarney and Van Fleet. Van Fleet had relieved General Ridgeway as commander of the Eighth Army, which included the 187th RCT during the Korean War.

Gen. Swing

Gen. Swing

Guest Post – There’ll Be a Hot Time … – gpcox

I had a great time putting this article together. Looking at the brighter side of the WWII era helped to enhance the feel of the 40’s. And I hope everyone will join in to add their stories or those of their relatives to help make it complete. Thank you for reading!

"Greatest Generation" Life Lessons

There’ll Be a Hot Time …

 

 

Entertainment for troops at home also provided sources for a social life to the civilians and gave the war drive efforts an available stage.  The USO is usually the organization that comes to mind for most of us.  They had 59 companies going abroad to entertain, but they also provided amusement for those in the U.S.  Just about every city had a USO center for dancing, conversation, food and getting the opportunity to see celebrities.  The Red Cross would usually set themselves up in these centers and supply baskets of goodies free of charge to the troops.  They strove to become a home away from home for the men.  Today, in the Midwest, a group of volunteers re-enact the USO and WW2 era in parades, ceremonies and living history displays.

Washington D.C., San Francisco and NYC had a Pepsi Cola Canteen where…

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Smitty Was Here

Miyajima Island

Miyajima Island

Being that Smitty so enjoyed taking in the sights of 1945 Japan and it is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, this post will continue with the brochures he brought home with him. Above is the Inland Sea and Miyajima Island that is approximately 45 minutes from Hiroshima; the entire island is considered a park being that two parks are actually on the island, The Omoto and the Momijidani, both famous for their cherry blossoms in spring and coloured leaves in autumn.

The Great Torii

The Great Torii

The Great Torii (52′ tall [16 metres]) is the red religious structure within the bay is from the 16th century. The earlier one had been destroyed by a typhoon. The Itsukushima Shrine has stone lanterns that remain lighted throughout the night. Senjokaku is the hall of a thousand mats and beside the shrine is a hall filled with countless rice ladles offered by worshipers. There is a five-storied pagoda (100 feet high) for Buddha close by and in the Omoto Park is a two-storied pagoda built by “Hidari-Jingoro” an ancient famous artist.

photos from inside the Miyajima Hotel brochure

photos from inside the Miyajima Hotel brochure

The center photo showing a patio, Smitty indicated that that was where they ate. And the circle to the right, dad wrote, “Damn good fishing and crabbing here.” It seems you can’t even take the Broad Channel, NY fisherman out of the soldier.

same brochure

same brochure

At the bottom picture here, Smitty wrote, “I slept here in a room like this.” On the right-hand side of the page is written, “I managed to get behind the bar at this place.” (Can’t take the bartender out of the trooper either, I suppose.) If any reader is capable of translating any of the Japanese writing in these posts, please do so. I have wondered for many years what they meant.

Gamagori Hotel

Gamagori Hotel

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At the Gamagori Hotel, above the bottom-left photo is written, “Good Food. Chef here studied under a Frenchman. Boy was the food tasty.” The right-hand photo has, “Fishing good here.”

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On this page of the Gamagori brochure, Smitty marked on the center diagram where his general stayed. (If viewing is a problem, please click on the photo to enlarge.) The bottom-left photo is marked, “Had a room like this at this place.”

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This brochure is entirely in Japanese and therefore unable to give the reader a clue as to where it was or still is located.

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KILROY WAS HERE!

KILROY WAS HERE!

And so was “SMITTY”!!

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Updated News-

Yank magazine Sept. 1945 (notice the helmet stenciling)

Yank magazine Sept. 1945 (notice the helmet stenciling)

Some of my friends who visit often might remember this cover of Yanks magazine with William Carlisle , of the 11th A/B on the cover. Koji of http://p47koji.wordpress.com notified me that he found a William and Norma Carlisle in Chalmers, IN. I sent a note to inquire and only received a reply two days ago.

Hello! So nice of you to write, Bob would have been pleased. The picture on the cover of the Yank magazine is William Robert Carlisle, my husband. I’m sure he could have told you stories of the 11th Air Borne. I’m Mrs. Norma Carlisle, Bob’s wife. I’m sorry to tell you that Bob passed away on Dec. 12 – 1997. I miss him! Hope you and yours are enjoying the Golden Years! God Bless, Norma

I was so disappointed to discover that we had lost yet another trooper’s tales of the era and a little taken back to see that He passed on what would have been my father’s 83rd birthday. Another Farewell Salute is in order.

With many thanks to Josh, we now have a link to the war memorial that honors the 11th Airborne using Mr Carlisle’s photo as a model.
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/56306307

http://www.warmemorialhq.org/cpg/thumbnails.php?album=520

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I am pleased to announce that Judy of http://greatestgenerationlessons.wordpress.com has invited me back for another guest post next Tuesday, 14 May. I touched on the lighter side of home life during the WWII era with an article entitled “There’ll Be A Hot Time…” Come – join us!!

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V-E Day

United-States-Flag-Code-Questions

V-E DAY WAS A VICTORY FOR MILLIONS

Times Square, NYC the night of V-E Day

Times Square, NYC the night of V-E Day

NO MATTER WHAT COLOR YOUR FLAG IS – SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE SACRIFICE THOSE MEN GAVE FOR YOU

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If any of you have a story you wish to tell, feel free to add it here and wear your colors proudly.

VEDAY1

Olympiad – Military style

Attempting to get a coal-burning auto moving

Attempting to get a coal-burning auto moving

While some of the troopers continued to await the arrival of the good ole’ American jeeps to replace the coal-burning vehicles in Japan, General Swing was striving to make the occupation as bearable as possible. They had endured some horrendous hardships and accomplished more than anyone expected from them and he felt they deserved whatever he could provide. On his orders, a Japanese auditorium was transformed into the 11th Airborne Coliseum. The complex was large enough to hold a theater that would seat 2,500, four basketball courts, a poolroom with 100 tables, a boxing arena that held 4,000 spectators, six bowling alleys and a training room.

Front gate of HQ Camp Schimmelpfennig

Front gate of HQ Camp Schimmelpfennig

Aside from the sports theme, the coliseum contained a Special Services office, a snack bar, a Red Cross office and a library. I can just picture my father spending some off-duty time in the poolroom or bowling alley. When I was growing up, we had a pool table in the basement and Smitty would teach me how every shot was related to angles and geometry. My aim improved – once I figured it out.

The NCO Club

The NCO Club

In the fall of 1945, an Olympiad was held in Tokyo for all the troops stationed in Japan and Korea. Football became the highlighted game. The 11th A/B Division coach, Lt. Eugene Bruce brought them to winning the Japan-Korea championship. They then went on to take the Hawaiian All-Stars in Mejii Stadium with a score of 18-0. This meant that the 11th Airborne Division held the All-Pacific Championship. The troopers went on to win in so many other sports that by the time the finals were held for the boxing tournament at Sendai, the headlines read in the Stars and Stripes sports section:
Ho-Hum, It’s the Angels Again”

Matsushima Park Hotel

Matsushima Park Hotel

On the reverse side of the photo seen above, Smitty wrote, “This is the hotel where we are now staying. That dot in the driveway is me.” The 11th A/B commander had made his home here on 16 September. After the occupation, it re-opened for business as a hotel, but unfortunately was destroyed by fire on 2 March 1969.

The division had a reputation for mission accomplishment despite being nearly half the size of other divisions. This was often attributed to their somewhat unorthodox methods. This carried over into their occupation of Japan. General Swing converted an old Japanese factory and had it turning out American-style furniture for the troops. General Headquarters wasn’t very happy about the project because they wanted the Japanese to build furniture for the entire command. But Swing was not one to wait for all the red tape. After General Eichelberger inspected the better-than-GHQ- standard brick barracks under construction, he said to Swing, “Joe, I don’t know whether to court-martial you or commend you.” (Later on, he was commended Swing.)

Occupation 1945 - Everett Smith on far right

Occupation 1945 – Everett Smith on far right

Resources: “Rakkasans” and “The Angels: A history of the 11th Airborne Division” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan; Everett’s scrapbook; Wikipedia