Monthly Archives: April 2016

Intermission Story (7) – Poem for Tarawa

Battle of Tarawa

Battle of Tarawa

The Battle for Tarawa
“The time has come,” the commander said,
“When we must fight once more;
So pack your gear and shoulder your gun,
We will board the ship at four.”
*
We boarded the ship in New Zealand
For a place we knew not where.
But deep down in our hearts we thought
Of the hardships we’d have to bear
 *
Twenty long days and twenty long nights
It took to reach the Atolls
We wiped off our guns and counted our shells
And loosened the straps on our rolls
 *
Then came the word, “All hands topside”
And our boats were lowered to sea I’ll tell you every man was scared
And we prayed for the things to be.
Our fleet was constantly pounding the isle
 *
To make things easier on shore
Then they finally slacked up around noon
To let our fighting men score
The first wave shoved off for “Helen”
 *
The coral reefs made it tough;
The tank bogged down, the boats were sunk
My God, those boys died rough.
Machine gun nests were thick on the beach
 *
But our men struggled nearer the sand
Some of them died in the water
Some of them died on the land. That was the first wave I have told about
Then the second wave moved in
*
‘Twas the same thing, but their lines grew weak

And some of the boys wore a grin.

Marines take cover behind a seawall.

Marines take cover behind a seawall.Now the Marines kept pouring i

From the places a rat wouldn’t go
 *
They tromped over bodies of dead Japanese
And onward to finish the foe.
Then our boys had formed a line
And darted from tree to tree
*
But the Japs were camouflaged so slick
It made them hard to see.
Japanese snipers in the tree tops
Pill boxes on the ground
 *
Mortar shells were flying everywhere
Hell was all around. Those pill boxes I spoke about
Were concrete, logs and steel
And the contents of the hole below
*
Our bombs could not reveal.
Our tanks pulled right up to those holes
And fired again and again
Now you can bet that it made Hell
*
For those stubborn Japs within.
Flame throwers left a path of death
And burned everything in sight
It didn’t take long for those Japs to decide
 *
That the Marines, too, could fight.
Imperial Marines the Japs called themselves
They were supposed to be tough
But they soon found out that U.S.M.C.
 *
Was built of the rugged and rough.
They were fortified to the tee
But it took the Second Division
To set up another V.
 *
Exterminated Japs filled every hole
And soon began to smell
On blood-stained coral we made our bedsbattle-of-tarawa-the-marines
And slept in that living Hell.
*
Four thousand Japs were slain on that island
Pill boxes numbered five hundred
Soon the air strip was repaired
Again our Air Force thundered.
*
More than eleven hundred Marines lost their lives
They put up a #### good fight
I salute each and everyone
Whom we buried the following night. ‘Twas the bloodiest battle in Marine history
*
Well done, what a service rendered!
I’m sure as long as time may go
Their victory will be remembered.
Just one word for the Seabees
 *
In discussion they’re always left out
But the fighting 18th was there from the first
And they were the last to move out.
*
Written by:
Claude William Hepp enlisted in the Navy Seabees (Naval Construction Battalion) Jan 13, 1943. He was a carpenter’s mate, third class and his unit was assigned to the 18th Marine Combat Engineers, Second Marine Division sent to the South Pacific. He wrote this poem after participating in the battle at Tarawa. Claude died during the bloody invasion of Saipan and was buried at sea two days after his 22nd birthday.
Acquired at the US Military Forum.
Click on images to enlarge.
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Farewell Salutes – 

Len Bryan – Tucson, AZ; US Navy, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Cmdr.

George Diehl – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT260637844_god_bless_them_all_xlarge

Luther Gribble – Wellington, TX, US Army, WWII, PTO, Sgt., mortars

William Harrigan – Portland, ME; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Alaska

Bundy Hill – London, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO

John C. Holladay – Florence, SC; USMC, WWII, PTO, Sgt., 1st Marine Raiders, KIA (New Georgia)

John Leslie – IRE; British Army, WWII, ETO, 2nd Batt./Irish Guards, POW

John Prince – Bellerose, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO, 8th Marines, Pfc, KIA (Tarawa)

Maurice Stout Jr. – Lincoln, NE; USMC, WWII, PTO

Edward Terella – Erie, PA; USMC, WWII, PTO

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Intermission (6) – Fort MacDill, Tampa/St. Pete, FL

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(Tribune News Service) — John Murphy was shocked by his first glimpse of MacDill Field.

It was in late 1940, about four months before MacDill, formally known as Southeast Airbase, officially was activated on April 16, 1941. It was named in honor of Col. Leslie MacDill, a World War I veteran and aviation pioneer who died in a plane crash.

“When I got into the area the runway was still under construction, and so was the housing,” Murphy says. “My first quarters was in a tent in a place called Boomtown, where I slept in an Army cot. The tent was surrounded by palmetto branches, and when the wind blew, it sounded like rattlesnakes.”

Marching at MacDill

Marching at MacDill

Murphy, now 95 and living in Biloxi, Mississippi, was among the first to arrive at the base as it was carved from the scrub in the days before the U.S. entered World War II. Today, MacDill Air Force Base is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

A lot has changed over the years. MacDill went from training crews to fly B-17 Flying Fortress and B-26 Marauder bombers to B-29 Superfortresses, B-47 Stratojets and F-84, F-4 and F-16 fighters. It now is home to two wings that fly KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling jets.

MacDill, aerial view

MacDill, aerial view

The base has played a key role in U.S. military actions from World War II, the Korean War, the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the ongoing fight against jihadis in the Middle East and elsewhere.

In 1961, MacDill became home of U.S. Strike Command, which became U.S. Readiness Command and later, in 1987, U.S. Special Operations Command. Socom provides trained and equipped commandos and synchronizes the global war on terrorism.

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WWII bomb on St. Pete's beach

WWII bomb on St. Pete’s beach

ST. PETERSBURG (Tribune News Service) — A World War II era bomb that washed up on St. Pete Beach over the weekend could have been lurking beneath shallow coastal sand for years, a local military expert said.

At about 8:30 a.m. Sunday, a 4-foot cylinder M122 Photoflash Bomb, which appeared to have been submerged for some time, was found on the beach near the 22nd Avenue access point. The beach and 20 nearby homes were evacuated as Pinellas County deputies worked with a MacDill Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team to destroy the device.

Frank Correa, the historian for Largo’s Armed Forces History Museum, said finds like this are to be expected given the Tampa Bay region’s history with the war. Combat pilots trained at Drew Army Airfield, known today as Tampa International Airport, and MacDill Air Force Base, conducting training missions over the Gulf of Mexico.

Florida was home to several training sites during the war, in fact, and Correa said the photoflash bomb was likely dropped over the gulf and during the seven decades since then made its way inland.

“There’s no telling, that piece might have been here in the beach here for years,” he said.

WWII bomb

WWII bomb

A lot of duds were dropped, likely without the pilots even realizing it, Correa said. Hurricanes and other storms could have carried the unexploded bombs closer to shore over the years.

“Back then they didn’t recover any of that stuff,” he said.

Military aircraft came to MacDill in 1940 and pilots began dropping dummy bombs filled with sand for target practice, said Denny Cole, a history buff and a retired Air Force master sergeant. Soon afterward, though, they began using lethal weapons for practice in areas including today’s Fort DeSoto Park.

The photoflash bomb is just the latest aging explosive to turn up on Pinellas County shores recently. In October, an inert grenade was found by a man walking with a metal detector about 20 feet from the shore near the Sirata Beach Resort, 5300 Gulf Blvd.

Bomb exploded on site.

Bomb exploded on site.

Handling these explosives requires a joint effort among local law enforcement agencies, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda said. The Sheriff’s Office received the initial call Sunday and contacted the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office for help from its bomb squad.

A berm was fashioned to protect the closest of three nearby sea turtle nests.

Barreda said the sheriff’s office gets calls from time to time about old military ordnance kept as souvenirs that turns up in basements, attics and garages.

“If there’s any question about what the nature of the device might be, the recommendation is to contact law enforcement,” Barreda said.

———

©2015 the Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.)

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Training Humor – My army drill instructors license plate is HUP-2-3-4.

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Bohrer – Detroit, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 navigator

James Bradford – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, pilot

11986973_1183822258300441_3544440820007753006_n.jpgfrom, Falling with Hale

For them all! !! Click to enlarge

Walter “Ed” Dial – Aztec, NM; US Army Air Corps, PTO

Edward Gardner – Pompano, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Niblack

Walter Hanson – Lauderdale-By-the-Sea, FL; US Merchant Marine, WWII

Edward Martini – Pompano, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 188th/11th Airborne Div.

John Munn – St. Augustine, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea, Captain, pilot

John Newlan – Palm Beach, FL; USMC, Korea, demolitions

George Ory – Baker, LA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Quartermaster Corps

Edward Shaw – Stoneboro, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea

Michael Visconti – Coconut Creek, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Wisconsin

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ANZAC Day

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In honor of the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who have fought in numerous wars for their freedoms and the rights of others; 25 April is the designated date for memorial ceremonies and tributes.

ANZACs hard at work

ANZAC’s hard at work

There are ceremonies for the ANZAC’s and there are other poems, but I believe this says it all…

Ode of Remembrance

ShowImage - CopyThey shall grow not old, as we are left grow old;ShowImage - Copy (2)
Age will not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
 
 

Gone but not forgotten

Gone but not forgotten

The Spirit of ANZAC

The Spirit of ANZAC

Remembrance

Remembrance

Click on images to enlarge.

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If you have the time – Please visit my past post for the Anzac Centenary and others.  Besides these, you could add ANZAC DAY to your Tags on your Reader pages to honor these troops. 

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2015/04/25/anzac-centenary/

From Su Leslie ____

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2016/04/23/six-word-saturday-aucklands-wwi-dead-lest-we-forget/

From John’s Storybook ___

https://johnsstorybook.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/anzac-day/

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Farewell Salutes –

Dick Beitler – Berne, IN; US Army, WWII, PTO

Mark Briggs – (Memoriam) – NZ Army, WWI, WIA

U.S Forces Honor Guard to honor all those that served for our freedoms in every war.

U.S Forces Honor Guard to honor all those that served for our freedoms in every war.

Donald E. Cook – Princeton, IL; US Navy, Korea, USS Columbus, Underwater Demolition Team

Gary Hardman – Newcastle, AUS; RA Navy, Vietnam, HMAS Paramatta, Ibis & Torrens

Alfred Hudson – NZ; RNZ Navy # C/SSX16068, WWII, ETO

James Lang – Hunter, AUS; RA Army, Vietnam

Carl Mankey – N.E. IN; USMC, WWII, PTO, 2 Purple Hearts

Francis Queenin – Puhinui, NZ; NZ Air Force # 34677, driver

Marquerite Schouten – Wairarapa, NZ; British Army # W/315535, Cpl.

Frank Streather – Sydney, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, 452 Squadron

Honore Wright – Tauranga, NZ; WWII, ambulance driver

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About the Forgotten Bomb Group

A great post – even the comments are a must-read for information!

My Forgotten Hobby

“When the Army Air Forces Headquarters in Washington tallied the bombing accuracy of every bomb group in combat, I was astonished to find that the 308th led them all.”
General Claire Chennault in his Memoirs

308insig

http://www.donnan.com/cbi.htm

MandyCrew1

“The 308th… performed some of the most accurate bombing
of the US Army Air Forces and used the first American
“smart bomb” called the Azon. The 308th also sustained
the highest casualty rate in the USAAF, for its missions
were long and hard, often conducted at very low level
and at night through the very heart of Japanese-
occupied territory and over their controlled sea lanes.”

“The 308th flew nearly 600 combat missions under conditions
that would have been deemed impossible in Europe. At the
end of a 12,000-mile supply line, every ounce of gasoline,
every bomb, every spark plug, had to be dragged over the
hazardous, high altitude route across the mountains, along

View original post 81 more words

Intermission (5) – POW in Japan

Japanese_atrocities_imperial_war_museum_K9924-640x444

Can you imagine what it must be like to be marched out to face a firing squad, say goodbye to your closest friend who is standing next to you and then have the squad shoulder their rifles and march away having not fired a shot?  What are the odds on that happening during a war situation?  The mind boggles at the odds of this happening but this did happen to Charles Rodaway who served in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment during World War II.

POW camps in Japan

POW camps in Japan

He joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was posted to Shanghai in 1934.  He undertook guard duties in Shanghai before  being transferred to Singapore in 1938.  At the fall of Singapore in 1942, he was captured by the Japanese and put to work as a labourer in the Kawasaki shipyards, near Tokyo.  In 1944, he and a friend attempted to escape but were captured and sentenced to death by firing squad for the escape attempt.

 In an interview, he said, “I said to my pal, ‘This is it’.  Instead of a volley of bullets, the officer in charge, ordered the firing squad to shoulder arms and marched them away.

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Charles Rodaway

He and eight other POW’s were sentenced to 15 years incarceration at Sakai Prison in Osaka.  In a 2005 interview, he told of the horrendous conditions in the prison, “There was no heat or fan; no water, a wooden pail for a toilet, one light hung from the ceiling, a small barred window at the rear of the cell. Clothing was one thin shirt, one thin trousers, no shoes or socks, no jacket or kimono. No wooden box, only the floor to sit on. Only one thin blanket for cover. Bathing was usually allowed once a month; no soap, no washcloth or towel, no clean clothing.”

Charles was released from the prison, a week after the Japanese surrender, when it was liberated by Allied Forces in August 1945.  His family were stunned when he reappeared in Blackpool.  They had waited at the train station for him, and when he did not appear they were convinced that he had died.

Narmuni  POW Camp, Osaka, Japan

Narmuni POW Camp, Osaka, Japan

In 1948, he emigrated to Canada but made many trips back to his hometown until he became too old to travel.  On the 12th March, he celebrates his 100thbirthday.  His wife, Sheila, said “It’s quite an accomplishment, especially considering the inhumane conditions during his time in Japan prisons. He’s absolutely amazed he’s lived so long, and feels wonderful, excitedly looking forward to his birthday although he can’t quite believe it! He credits truthfulness and honesty as the key.”

An amateur historian, Tony Rodaway, who is no relation to Charles is credited with bringing this story to the attention of the world.  Most soldiers, on their return from war, do not talk about their experiences as it is often much too painful.  In Charles’s case he must give thanks every day that the firing squad was called away.

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Military Humor –

low-tech-gifts-john-atkinson

Traveling light !

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Farewell Salutes –

Kenneth Austin – Vancouver, CAN; RC Air Force – WWII

Robert Berly Jr. – Charlotte, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-24 pilot, POW

Hector Cafferata Jr. – Caldwell, NJ; USMC, Korea, F/2/7/1st Division, Medal of Honor

Barry Davies – UK; British Special Air Services, GSG9 hostage rescue (1977)

Dudley Evans – Greenville, MS; US Army, Korea, Cpl., POW, KIA

John Howard Sr. – AL; US Army, Korea, POW/ Vietnam, 1st Sgt.

Morell Jones – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Army # 443211, WWII, 26 Battalion

Frederich Mayer – brn: Freiburg, GER; US Army/OSS, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, POW

Edmond Rachal – Marco, LA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 823rd Tank Destroyer Batt., POW/ US Air Force, TSgt. (Ret.)

James Sorenson – Superior, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart, POW

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Intermission (4) – 74th Anniversary of the Bataan Death March

6,600 march in New Mexico to honor the Bataan fighters.

6,600 march in New Mexico to honor the Bataan fighters.

As we discuss and chronicle this war, we must not forget that the POWs of Bataan were at this point, still in captivity in various prisons of the Pacific and trying to survive.

Ralph Rodriguez says he’s not a hero. He doesn’t even want to talk about his wartime experiences of battling the Japanese and surviving the Bataan Death March.

“But I do it because I need to help people remember,” said Rodriquez, 98, following Saturday’s ceremony honoring Bataan Death March survivors who are still living, as well as those who have died since April 1942, when U.S. military commanders stationed on the Bataan peninsula in the Philippines surrendered to the Japanese.

“It’s not fun to really suffer or be tortured,” the Albuquerque man said.

Rodriquez was one of about 100 people, mostly military personnel, who attended the event near the Bataan Memorial Building on Galisteo Street to mark the 74th anniversary of a journey “too painful to remember, too tragic to not.”

While 74 may seen an odd anniversary to mark — unlike next year’s milestone 75th — time is thinning the ranks of the Bataan survivors. Each year, their numbers dwindle a little more — nine have died since last April’s ceremony. Nine others died the year before that. Every anniversary of the march is significant.

Bataan surrenders

Bataan surrenders

Just three showed up for Saturday’s event — Rodriguez, William Overmier, 97, and Atilano “Al” David, 95.

From December 1941 to April 1942, some 1,800 New Mexico soldiers fought alongside Filipinos to repel Japanese invaders on the Bataan peninsula. On April 9, Bataan’s military commanders surrendered.

The American and Filipino defenders were either killed, captured or forced to march 65 miles through the jungle. Japanese soldiers used their bayonets and bullets along the way to kill the weak, wounded and defiant ones.

Those who survived the march ended up in prisoner-of-war camps where violence, malnutrition and disease took their toll. By the war’s end, just 900 New Mexico soldiers were alive to return home.

David, a native Filipino who moved to the United States in the mid-1950s, was one of the luckier ones.

Weak from a combat wound and suffering from malaria, he knew he faced a risk of being bayoneted or beheaded. And had he made it to a concentration camp, he said, he would not have lasted long. But two of his military buddies who had been carrying him made a decision that saved his life: When Japanese guards were not looking, they pushed David through some deep jungle brush, and the marchers passed him by.

With the aid of local Filipinos, he had recovered within a month and was battling alongside Filipino guerrilla fighters in the jungles, ambushing Japanese supply convoys.

On the day the American military surrendered to the Japanese, he said, “We were crying. I was crying.” Despite being ill-equipped and surviving on one bowl of rice a week, however, many Americans and Filipinos wanted to fight on, he said.

The Bataan battle, he said, was a combination of horror, chaos and death. He recounted with a tone of sorrow how he and some other soldiers had mistakenly shot down an American B-17 bomber, killing its crew, in the thick of battle.

“What can you say about something like that? Sadness,” he said.

Before the Americans surrendered, David felt like the defenders didn’t have a chance. “If we had had reinforcements, the proper equipment and air cover, we could have blown them all away,” he said. “We had no air cover, ineffective weapons and untrained soldiers. The Navy abandoned us. We were doomed from the start.

“We were waiting for Superman and Captain Marvel to win the war for us.”

Still, David avoided the grisly fate that many of his comrades met during or after the march.

Ralph Rodriguez, Jr., POW

Ralph Rodriguez, Jr., POW

For years, he resented the Japanese, who, he said, treated the Filipino prisoners much worse than their American counterparts. One day in the mid-1950s, he found himself shaking with rage when he saw a Japanese man on the subway in New York City.

“Something came over me. I wanted to do something violent to him. Strangle him. But I overcame it.”

Now, he said, he bears no ill will toward the Japanese: “We cannot generalize a nation.”

Bataan Memorial

Bataan Memorial in the Philippines

David just completed a memoir of his wartime experiences called End of the Trail. He hopes it can be published before the 75th anniversary of the march next year.

At 95, his mind is still sharp, though he relies on a wheelchair to get around. But there are still things he won’t talk about regarding Bataan and the war.

“War is an insult to humanity,” he said.

And, like Rodriguez, he says it’s not the soldiers who are the heroes. It’s their families, the ones who wait at home for them to return.

Or suffer when they don’t come back at all.

———

©2016 The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, N.M.)

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POW Sketches by: Ben Steele

Drinking from the mud hole. by: Ben Steele, POW

Drinking from the mud hole.
by: Ben Steele, POW

The shooting of a straggler. By Ben Steele, POW

The shooting of a straggler.
By Ben Steele, POW

Break time for the prisoners. by: Ben Steele, POW

Break time for the prisoners.
by: Ben Steele, POW

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Emanuel ‘Bob’ Amann – St. Louis, MO; USMC, WWII/ Korea, POW (Ret. 20 years)

Jesse Baltazar – Falls Church, VA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bataan POW/US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, Maj. (Ret.)

Benjamin “Bill” Bint – Saskatoon, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, ETO, POW, HMCS Athabaskan

Howard Brooks – Greeneville, TN; US Navy, WWII, PTO (Java), POW (CBI), USS HoustonLonely_candle

John Edwards – Oakham, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, POW/Korea & Vietnam, Purple Heart, Col. (Ret.)

Murray Leonard Goldschlager – Bronx, NY, US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Alan Jones – Pahiatua, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 391706, POW, Sgt.

Jose Salas – Santa Rita, NM; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, POW

Glenna Stoner – Rochester, NY; US Navy WAVE, USS Hope, nurse

La Verne Woods – Hazen, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, POW

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Intermission (3) – Current News on The Hump

"Hot as Hell"

“Hot as Hell”

At 7:40 a.m. Jan. 25, 1944, five B-24 Liberator heavy bombers from the 308th Bombardment Group, 425th Squadron, took off from their base at Kunming, China, on a routine supply run to India. Their route took them over the Hump, a treacherous eastern stretch of tall peaks in the Himalayan mountains.

At 10:45 a.m., flying at 15,000 feet, the formation “was forced to break up due to extreme instrument weather conditions,” according to World War II documents on the mission. Clouds obscured the mountains’ tree lines; visibility was less than a mile. Each aircraft was on its own, trying to land safely in valleys or at the nearest airstrip.

All five bombers crashed.

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Crews parachuted out of two aircraft and survived; a third bomber crashed, with two survivors. The fourth and fifth B-24s — Hot as Hell and Haley’s Comet — disappeared. Their crews were presumed dead.

After many years of work, the remains of some of Hot as Hell’s crew are making their final journey home. A repatriation ceremony is planned next week in New Delhi as part of Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s trip to India.

The return of the remains marks a victory in an incomplete recovery that started with luck and continues through determined persistence.

Hot as Hell’s final resting place, where the wing section and engines are visible, is about 9,400 feet up the outer Himalayas in northeastern India, near China. The crash site is a three-day climb from a village called Damroh. Most of the bomber’s broken pieces are blanketed by leaf litter.

The location was initially reported by Arizona mountaineer Clayton Kuhles, who had climbed the region’s mountains as a hobbyist for years until he saw his first World War II crash site. Then he combined those two passions — mountain climbing and recovery work — building a network of villagers who would report things they’d seen in the mountains and experts who helped identify wreckage and crews. To Kuhles, there were too many airmen who’d never come home. He has found the crash sites of more than 80 missing airmen, and he is driven to find more. Along the India-China route alone, DOD estimates there are remains of more than 400 airmen.

In 2006 Kuhles was led to a crash site by a villager who once cut aluminum from an aircraft and carried it on his back down the mountain to salvage it. But when he grew frustrated with the difficult process, the 60-year-old hunter left the last stack he had cut at the site. He hadn’t gone back until he brought Kuhles to the wreckage.

Even though there were engine parts, Kuhles could find no serial numbers – a key to identifying an aircraft. They looked all over the site. Nothing. Then the villager led him to the aluminum stack.

The last sheet had the aircraft construction number 2878 stenciled on it. Research confirmed the link: Hot as Hell, the long-lost bomber named for its pinup girl nose art, had been found.

 

crash location

crash location

In 2007 Gary Zaetz found Kuhles’ report about the crash on the Internet, and he knew he had to go to the site. His uncle Irwin — his father Larry’s favorite sibling — was on the Hot as Hell when it crashed. Both brothers served in the war; Irwin was a navigator, and Larry was a pharmacist’s mate 3rd class on the USS Hornet, CV-12, and at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Larry Zaetz had gone a lifetime missing his younger brother, whom he nicknamed “Zipper” for his speediness on the basketball court. But Zaetz, now 91, was ill so it was up to Gary to bring Irwin home.

Gary Zaetz was out of shape and had never climbed a mountain. His co-workers had a betting pool in their North Carolina office that he wouldn’t come back.

“They lost the pool,” he said. “I was determined.  There was certainly a sense of relief that I’d finally made it,” Gary Zaetz said. “I personally was exhausted by the time I got to crash site.”

He had told the families of the Hot as Hell crew about his plans, and had gotten to know their stories. He wanted to honor the lost. At the site he took out papers and began to recite Jewish and Christian prayers, reflecting the religions of the crew.

'Haley's Comet'

‘Haley’s Comet’

Haley’s Comet

In January 2011, Kuhles reached Haley’s Comet. Its crash site is about 100 miles to the west of Hot as Hell, and the wreckage contains many more personal artifacts. There are shoes, bone fragments and clothing that Kuhles photographed and posted on his website, http://www.miarecoveries.org. The crash site has not been processed by Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. DPAA was notified about both sites years ago, and the same challenges that delayed Hot as Hell from being recovered for a decade haunt Haley’s Comet, such as political sensitivities within the Indian government that have hindered U.S. government teams from searching.

A senior defense official who will be traveling with Carter to the repatriation ceremony said he hopes this return is the first of many.

“We’ve been interested in working more closely with India in repatriation, and we are delighted by this latest activity,” the official said. “We are delighted that we are able to return the remains of American [servicemembers] as part of the secretary’s trip. We’re going to work closely with the Indians on further MIA remains recovery efforts.”

Those closest to Hot as Hell want to ensure future excavations are not handled like theirs was.

mcws-2

When DPAA arrived at the Hot as Hell site, it did an incomplete excavation, Kuhles and Zaetz said, leading both men to believe that if a more thorough job had been done, more remains could be on their way home. Time constraints by the Indian government hampered the effort.

“It’s really difficult,” said Zaetz, who is founder and chairman of Families and Supporters of America’s Arunachal Missing in Action.

Family members of the Hot as Hell crew were notified by letter that the remains of one or two of the eight airmen have been collected. After the ceremony in India, the remains will be flown to DPAA’s center in Hawaii for analysis and DNA identification.

“I’ll be happy for the one or two families that get loved one’s remains,” Zaetz said. “It’s hard to get a sense of closure when you know as many as six of eight remains are still there. It goes beyond just my uncle.”

copp.tara@stripes.com

  • 1st Lt. William A. Swanson, pilot

    Crew of the 'Hot as Hell'

    Crew of the ‘Hot as Hell’

  • 1st Officer Sheldon L. Chambers, co-pilot
  • 1st Lt. Irwin Zaetz, navigator
  • 1st Lt. Robert E. Oxford, bombardier
  • Staff Sgt. Charles D. Ginn, engineer
  • Staff Sgt. Harry B. Queen, radio operator
  • Sgt. James E. Hinson, gunner
  • Sgt. Alfred H. Gerrans Jr., gunner

Courtesy of the Stars and Stripes.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Pilot Humor – military-humor-funny-joke-air-force-aircraft-survival-kit-pilot

military-humor-funny-joke-ship-aircraft-carrier-Navy-avation-aircraft-parking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Stanley Atkins – Yeager, OK; US Army, WWII, ETO, 75th Infantry Division

Robert Booher – Phoenix, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 188th/11th Airborne Division

Harley Cox – Denver, CO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Tulagi, pilottribute

Peter Gernat – Bridgeport, CT; US Army, WWII

Elmer Harry – Vancouver, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Robert Klein – Leesburg, FL; US Army, WWII, CBI

Stephen Marszalek – Brighton Park, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

John Smeck – Houston, TX; US Navy, WWII, submarine USS Hardhead

Walter Peace – Palm Springs, FL; US Air Force, Korea, (Ret. 26 years)

William Vanner – Calgary, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

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Intermission Story (2) – Biggest Airlift of WWII – The Hump

C-47 flying over The Hump

C-47 flying over The Hump

 In April 1942, the Allied Forces initiated an airborne supply line  that crossed the Eastern Himalaya Mountain Range. This airlift supplied the Chinese War effort against Japan from India and Burma to the Kunming area and beyond.  The C-46 Curtiss Commando and the DC-3/ C-47 Douglas Skytrain in the China- Burma- India Theater of War (CBI), also dubbed as the Hump operations. Other Cargo aircraft types that were also activated in this operation: the Douglas C-54 Skymaster, the Consolidated B-24 Liberator converted as a fuel transport C-109 and its Cargo version C-87 Liberator Express.

Loading in a grasshopper

Loading in a grasshopper, (Piper L-4, observation or ambulance aircraft)

 The Allied Forces supplied the war effort of Chinese Nationalists first by road, later by air. They flew day-and-night missions from airfields in eastern India over the Himalayan Plateau known as the “Hump.” The 500‑mile air route to Kunming in China became known as the “aluminum trail”. More than 1,600 airmen and some 700 transport planes got lost in the mountains or in the jungles on either side of that huge hurdle. (Almost 1,200 men were fortunate to be rescued or walked out to safety.)

The high incident numbers were explained by the extreme altitude and weather of the Himalaya, and another factor was the duration of the Hump operations. From April 1942 until August 1945, 42 months of continuous and massive flight operations, the longest airlift in days of operations that ever existed so far and in numbers of tons of cargo transported only exceeded by the post-war Berlin Airlift (1948).

Burma Road Hump map

Burma Road Hump map

By July 1945, on average a whopping number of  332 aircraft a day flew over the Hump, a number five times bigger than the hard-pressed 62 aircraft on the route in January 1943. During its history, the Hump transport fleet carried 650,000 tons of gasoline, supplies, and men to China.

Part of the clandestine support to China also materialized in the famous American Volunteer Group (AVG) with their “Flying Tigers” Curtiss P-40 Warhawks. That daring initiative to fight the Japanese Imperial  Army & Air Force in China with 100 pursuit aircraft and 300 American “volunteers” was masterminded by Claire L. Chennault, a retired USAAC officer.

Internal loading view

Internal loading view

The AVG (later integrated into the USAAF) efforts needed crews, pursuit planes, fuel, food and spares. All that plus the huge supplies needed for the Chinese Army had to come over that single and most challenging Burma Road by truck! In spite of all setbacks of the extreme terrain, unpaved roads and adverse weather, it worked well. But that all changed dramatically.

Allied access to that lifeline Burma Road was suddenly cut off. From that moment, it was decided to organize an airlift operation, running from NE India’s Assam Province town Dinjan with its airfield Chabua to the city Kunming in China’s Yunnan Province, in the region between the upper Mekong River and the Yangtze River.

C-46 flying over The Hump.

C-46 flying over The Hump.

Airlift operations over the Hump started in May 1942 with only 27 aircraft, mostly Douglas C‑47 Skytrains and 10 ex PANAM DC-3’s. The C‑47’s were gradually augmented by Curtiss C‑46 Com­mandos, with their stronger R-2800 turbocharged engines & more cargo space a better match for the extreme altitude flights. Air transports flew through mountain passes that were 14,000 ft high, flanked by peaks rising to 16,500 ft. Flying time was four to six hours, depending on the weather. The airlift ultimately operated from 13 bases in India. In China, there were six bases, with the main airport at Kun­ming, which became one of the busiest airports in the world with this unprecedented airlift operation.

It became a somewhat remote and forgotten war operation in this outback of the Highest Mountains in the World.  Eastern India’s city Calcutta was since April 1942 the seaport, from where all goods had to be shipped in from overseas. A logistical nightmare had to be resolved to get the goods from Calcutta up north to Chabua Airport. By train turned out to be a disaster with the overload of a poorly functioning railroad infrastructure, so soon yet another air bridge was created between Calcutta and Chabua in the North.

1459424829-5566-c46-loadout3jeepsplustroops

Only the “second stage” airlift brought all goods to Kunming. For the transport of fuel, the converted B-24 Liberator (designated C-109) was able to fly non-stop from Calcutta directly to Kunming over the ‘Low Hump route” more to the south. This route was frequently patrolled by the Burma-based Zero Fighters.

Military commanders considered flights over the Hump to be more hazardous than bombing missions over Europe! For its efforts and sacrifices, the India-China Wing of the Air Transport Command was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation on January 29, 1944; the first such award made to a non-combat organization!

Condensed from the article in The Dakota Hunter and War History On-line.

Click on images to enlarge,

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 Military Humor –

pilots1ph

Warning: Low Flying Planes

Warning: Low Flying Planes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Anthony Brozyna – Hartford, CT; USMC, WWII, PTO, 8th Marines, PFC, KIA (Tarawa)

Thomas Crump = Pense, CAN; RAF & RC Air Force, WWII

Missing Man formation

Missing Man formation

Andrew Hickey – Mosman, NSW, AUS; RA Navy # S10567

Gilbert Horn Sr. Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, MT; US Army, CBI, Merrill’s Marauder, Assiniboine Code Talker

Elmer Jenkens – Wilcox, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Medic

Howard Kelly – Jersey City, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO

Charles Long – Washington, NC; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Edward ‘Leo’ Pabst – Parma, OH; USMC, WWII, Sgt.

Ralph C. Toothaker – Kansas; US Navy, WWII, Petty Officer 1st Class

James Whitlock – Lake Worth, FL; USMC, WWII

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Profiles in Courage: USMC Wildcat Ace Downs 7 Japanese Bombers on his First Combat Patrol During WWII

This short video, which includes WWII photos, is a prime example of that Great Generation !
Thank you, Steven.

Intermission Story (1) – SeaBees on Bougainville

“SEABEES COVER SELVES IN BOUGAINVILLE LANDING” – First Hand Account

Landing under fire at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, Seabees first joined with Marines in defending the beaches against counter-attack, then got busy on construction of military roads feeding front lines. The fighting builders ran one of their roads 700 yards in advance of the Marines’ front lines before the Leathernecks yelled for them to hold up a while.

Sizable detachments of Seabees, who stormed ashore with Marine assault trrops in the first,second, and third waves to land on Bougainville in the Solomon Islands, distinguished themselves by the skill and valor with which they filled their combat assignments.

As the invasion forces approached the enemy beaches, the Seabees manned machine guns on Higgins boats, tank lighters and landing craft. Dare-devil builders leaped ashore from the first boats to nudge into the sand, and unloaded fuel, ammunition, rations and packs while heavy fighting broke out all about them on the beaches. Then, as the Japs were driven back into the jungle, the Seabees manned beach defenses side-by-side with the Marines.

In addition to these activities, which were beyond the normal call of duty, the volunteer group of 100 Seabee officers and men who landed with the first wave also were credited with additional acts of bravery performed with complete disregard for their personal safety.

unloading gas and oil drums on Bougainville

unloading gas and oil drums on Bougainville

Landing craft from one transport had to pass through a narrow channel between two small islands just off Bougainville. Japanese machine gun nests on the inside of both islands had been firing upon every boat that attempted to move through the channel until Seabees manning landing craft guns effectively liquidated them. The Seabee sharp-shooters also helped drive away Japanese Zeroes that attacked the mother ship.

On landing, the rugged construction men rushes supplies from landing craft to combat line. Seabees carried ammunition and water to the front and, as was learned later, kept a group of Marines from being wiped out because of lack of supplies.

One Seabee jumped aboard a crippled tractor after its Marine driver had been shot off, hauled large quantities of ammunition, and helped place 20-mm anti-aircraft guns. Another group of the aroused builders riddled enemy pillboxes while Marines moved in to remove the Japs with hand grenades. Still other Seabees moved a Marine heavy artillery battery to the front.

Without thought for their own safety, the Navy Construction men carried wounded from the front lines to the landing craft which would return the casualties to the transports for immediate evacuation. The Seabees scooped out foxholes, not only for themselves and the Marines, but for the injured who were unable to dig their own.

When one of the landing craft was hit by heavy artillery fire, a Seabee officer helped unload the wounded and badly needed supplies while other Seabees held the Japs at bay.

Piva Bomber Field, Bougainville

Piva Bomber Field, Bougainville

The medical department set up a first aid station and treated men on the front lines (which were still the beach) with morphine and bandages carried in their packs. The first night of the landing, the Seabee detachment was assigned the defense of a portion of the beach. The volunteer group continued to hold this area for the next twenty-four days.

For days after the landing, the battling builders teamed up with Marine patrols to locate and neutralize Japanese snipers infiltrating through the lines.

From the small galley they had set up on the beach, Seabee cooks served hot meals to men on the front lines a few hundred yards away.

If you are interested in reading more on the SeaBees, try their museumHERE!

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Military Humor – 

by: Bill Mauldin

by: Bill Mauldin

Navy Humor - courtesy of Chris @ Muscleheaded.wordpress.com

Navy Humor – courtesy of Chris @ https:// muscleheaded.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Vincent Allen – Bridgeport, CT; US Air Force, Korea

Roderick Campbell – Ladysmith, CAN; RC Army, WWII/ RC Air Forcesalutetop

Santiago Erevia – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne, Medal of Honor

Brian Griffiths – W.AUS; RA Air Force, Korea & Vietnam

Theodore Hansen – Stuart, FL; US Navy (Ret.)

Gustave Karge – Cleveland, TN; US Navy, WWII, carrier pilot

James Maxson – Roseville, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne

Victor Ostini – brn: SWITZ; US Army, WWII

Keith Saull – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Navy, RAdmiral

Warren Warchus Sr. – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-29 bombardier

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