James O’Leary – part 2

F11Fs VF-211 over Japan 1959

F11Fs VF-211 over Japan 1959

On 26 July 1959, Sgt. O’Leary left Travis Air Force Base in California and disembarked at MCAF, Iwakuni, Japan.  From there he was sent to Formosa (Taiwan).  29 March 1960 he went aboard the LST Tioga and returned to Japan for a 6 month stay.  Upon his arrival back in the States, he was designated the CO Gunnery Sergeant at Quantico, Virginia.

Embarkation Slips

Embarkation Slips

In 1962, my uncle was sent by ‘Government aircraft’  to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Some of you might recall, this was a very stressful time for the entire country – the Cuban Missile Crisis – after being pushed around by Nikita Khrushchev for so long, JFK finally put his foot down and war with the Soviet Union was expected.  My cousin, Arthur Mulroy, USN, who had previously served on the USS Antietam 1952-1956, had re-enlisted in 1959 and was transferred from New York to Norfolk, VA in May 1962 – was on VAdm.O’ Byrne’s staff in organizing the vessels being deployed.  My aunt, Mabel (May) O’Leary was a civilian employee of the USMC, was also in Cuba.

The O’Leary’s remained in Cuba until August 1964 and then it was back to North Carolina and uncle Jim’s cruise 15 October 1964 to Huelva, Spain aboard the USNS General W.H. Gordon (TAP-117) for two weeks.  On 20 January 1966 as Master Sgt./HQ & HQ Squadron-37/3rd Marines, he flew to Naha, Okinawa for one year.

O'Leary & Jay Jenner at NCO club - El Toro (the Marines made him lose weight shortly after this pix)

O’Leary & Jay Jenner at NCO club – El Toro (the Marines made him lose weight shortly after this pix)

After a year at Honolulu, Hawaii, O’Leary was sent back to Kadena, Okinawa on 24 March 1968 and the MACS-12/1st Marines Brigade.  24 June 1968 he went to Camp Pendleton, CA and in July was designated as H&S Battalion, MCB, Camp Smedley D. Butler, Seattle, WA as CO. Gunnery Sgt. Fleet Marine Force, Pacific for a short stay and back to California.

Jim O'Leary at the

Jim O’Leary at the “Tun Tavern” in Calif.

November 1969, James Joseph O’Leary at El Toro, CA and he and aunt Mabel were finally able to buy a permanent residence.  After his retirement on 24 November 1969 he remained in the NCO Marine Corps Reserve. (I have made attempts to contact their HQ, but to no avail.)

Decorations and Awards 

Good Conduct Awards (8 shown)

National Defense Service Medal (2 shown)

Korean Service Medal

Korean Service Medal

UN Service Medal

UN Service Medal

Armed Forces Expeditionary MedalArmed Forces Expeditionary Medal

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

Meritorious Unit Citation

Korean Service Medal

United Nations Service Medal

Korean Presidential Unit Citation

Navy Unit Commendation

WWII Victory

China Service

Rifle Expert Bar ’55, ’56, ’61

The records I received were redacted and had censoring blackouts, especially as to Sgt. O’Leary’s Vietnam and Okinawa tours, but I felt lucky to finally (after 3 years of attempts) to at least have some in my possession – It makes me feel closer to him.  During his 1977 visit, we had little reason to believe we would never see him again.

Jim O'Leary & my son, Michael, circa 1977

Jim O’Leary & my son, Michael, circa 1977

Master Sgt. James Joseph O’Leary passed away 28 July 1978 and now resides at Riverside National Cemetery (Plot: 2 1268)

Mustang Koji was kind enough to take this for me after he placed a flag and said a prayer.

Mustang Koji was kind enough to take this for me after he placed a flag and said a prayer.

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WWII Update story – 

Codebreaker (The Week Magazine)

Codebreaker
(The Week Magazine)

Click images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Albert – Chicago, IL; US Air Force, WWII

Adolphus Busch Orthwein (“Dolph”) – Huntleigh Village, MO; US Navy (Intelligence), WWII, designing instruments for detecting enemy subs

Harold (Tod) Doupe – Mississauga, Canada; Royal Canadian Navy, WWII

Henry Geha – W.Palm Beach, FL; US Army, Tech Sgt. in Medical Corps, WWII

His helmet, rifle and ammunition belt mark the spot where an unidentified soldier was killed on the Korean front

His helmet, rifle and ammunition belt mark the spot where an unidentified soldier was killed on the Korean front

Robert Pecoraro, Sr. – Chicago, IL; US Army, Korea

William Pfaff – Toronto, Canada; Royal Canadian Air Force, Sgt., WWII

Basil Wilde – Southampton, England; British Merchant Marines, WWII

Barnett Zaffron – Northbrook, IL; US Coast Guard, WWII

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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 December 5, 2013, in Korean War, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 41 Comments.

  1. Hello

    I would like to use the M1 photo you have in the “Farewell Salutes” section in the Garand Collectors Association’s journal. Would you be willing to share a high resolution copy of the photo or perhaps a link to where you found it?

    Thank you

    Mike K

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  2. An exemplary soldier who served his country proudly.
    Thanks for sharing this history of your uncle.
    Ian

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  3. Great post. He was at Gitmo long before my days. But, Gitmo before 911 was a base that families could transfer to with their spouses in the Navy and Marine Corps. I haven’t been there for a long time myself now, but I have to believe it is far less pleasant for those who have duty now. It really was a ‘Navy-Marine’ town there, with a base mall. You could under certain conditions, bring one personal vehicle with you. You couldn’t drive very far though of course and there was only one intersection with a traffic light.

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    • My aunt had sent me a map of the layout when they were there, but like so much more, it disappeared when my house burned down in ’78. Thanks for bringing some of it back to memory.

      Like

  4. This is a very personal post.Thank you for sharing your family history.

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    • Yes, it was personal and I wondered how the readers would take to it, but as usual, they turned out to be my friends and showed their acceptance. Thank you too, Robert.

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  5. It’s so good that you keep reminding us that action didn’t stop and start with ‘well-known’ wars. Good to see your uncle remembered and I love the Mavis Batey article. I have a memory that I read that they tested potential SOE candidates with psychometric tests to see if they had suitable personalities for ‘field’ work. So probably not her legs, but other factors led to her being allocated to Bletchley. A good call!

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  6. I remember the Cuban Missle Crisis. We were nose to nose and they blinked first. Sometimes I wonder what if they had not blinked. But the consequences are beyond belief.

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  7. Good post . My uncle ( I have his name ) was a Marine pilot killed during the Battle of Midway . He was land-based , flying obsolete aircraft , and his squadron were all killed . His son , my cousin , went to Annapolis to be a career Marine , too . He made Captain , but bailed out after two tours in Vietnam . Your Marine reminds me of those guys . Thanks .

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  8. Great article. It sounds like they lived in some pretty interesting places. Interesting article on Mavis Batey, too.

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    • I was so jealous as a kid. My aunt hated living in Hawaii (the bugs were too big) but to me it was exotic. I would have loved to visit all the other stops as well.

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  9. Your words and the photos were so nostalgic. That first photo of the planes is terrific, as well as all the others. Happy Holidays friend. Paulette

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  10. The story about Sgt. O’Leary brought back memories of the uncertainty of the “Bay of Pigs” invasion. Mavis Baity’s story also captured my interest. I just can’t get enough of WWII stories–there were so many great ones. Too bad many remain untold. BTW, in the “Farewell Salutes” I’m sure you recognized the significance of the name “Adolphus Busch Orthwein,” as being related to the Busch Brewing empire–which he was.

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    • We’ll get back to WWII as soon as the Korean posts are completed, hopefully I’ll have even more stories like Baity’s to add in. I was wondering if anyone would notice – yes, he was the great grandson of the founder of Busch.

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  11. These great old warriors like your Uncle have a life satisfaction that’s hard for us civilians to match. My father-in-law (a Marine, fought in two wars) died happy.

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  12. Thank you for sharing these details of James O’Leary’s career–when family and history combine, it’s truly amazing. Little short of time travel.

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  13. My maternal uncle served as an Airman 1st Class in the USAF during the same time-frame as your uncle was in the service. Their circumstances were somewhat similar.

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  14. WOW…Cuban Missle Crisis…and several members of the family…they were lucky. Sorry to hear about Jim’s shortened life. I am glad that you got the picture with your son, though. Love the story about Mavis.

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  15. A touching personal side to this story…

    During his 1977 visit, we had little reason to believe we would never see him again

    and the picture of your son with his granduncle.

    Thanks for sharing your uncle’s memories with us.

    Like

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