11th Airborne Division – end of 1944

 

Gen. Swing and his staff during a briefing on Leyte.

My father swore that this incident occurred, but on which island, I can not say. Although Smitty already felt great respect for his commander, General Swing, he developed even more after witnessing this event: “A bunch of us were hunkered down due to the resistance we suddenly encountered. Everyone dove for cover and tried to figure out where the bullets were coming from except one guy still standing and looking around. (The general did not have his insignia on his uniform.) One G.I. yelled out, ‘Get down you f–kin’ jerk! You want your head blown off?’ I looked over and saw it was the old man himself and thought jeez is that soldier ever going to get reamed when we get back. But, the general got down.  I asked him later that evening why he let the soldier off without a word, and answered that the kid was right!”

General Joseph Swing
[On the back of this photo. Smitty wrote, “My General”]

There are other stories about Swing that are quite similar, including one where, rather than getting down, he actually walked over to the palm tree where the sniper was firing from and pointed him out as the U.S. sharpshooters dropped him.
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Leyte, 1944

From the moment the 11th Airborne landed on Leyte, the fighting was heavy, but they made excellent process across the island. Suzuki’s Thirty-Fifth Army became desperate, especially after the fall of Ormoc, which cut off his troops from their naval supply.  Smitty’s division would soon be put back in reserve as they rest up for Luzon.
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11th A/B on Leyte, 1944

While on Leyte, the 11th A/B was attached to General Krueger’s Sixth Army. A superior reference guide to the movements of this unit can be found in the various books by, Lt. General E.M. Flanagan, Jr. (Ret.). The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division gives detailed accounts by the author, who himself was the commander of the 11th Division’s B Battery of the 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion. And – a very nice man I might add. I was privileged to have two phone conversations with the general.

Lt. General E.M. Flanagan, Jr.

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By the end of December, the enemy had suffered 113,221 casualties and lost 2,748 planes.  The American loss was reported at 11,217.  This time also marked the point when Japanese General Yamashita sustained perhaps the greatest defeat in his country’s history.  Ninety percent of enemy troops on Leyte were killed or committed suicide.

From Saipan, Allied B-29s were beginning to make their bombing runs over mainland Japan.

21 December 1944, General Swing and Col. Quandt flew to Manarawat in cub planes.  Upon landing, the general was said to look “as muddy as a dog-faced private.”  (Swing would often be in the thick of things and this description of him was common.)  He slept that night in the camp’s only nipa hut, which ended up being destroyed the next day.

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Personal Note –  About Intermission Stories – We will continue with following the chronologically and have more stories about Smitty after what I call the Intermission Stories that are filled in between the end of one year and the start of the next.  They are eye-witness accounts, data, stories that have been missed in 1944 or are leading up to 1945.  We have so many new followers, I felt it needed some explanation.  There will also be home front episodes.

I hope you all find something you’re interested in, maybe a chuckle or two or even a tear.  Please feel free to contribute any story you know about from veterans you’ve known or had a discussion with – or even your own story.  Also, remember the Farewell Salutes are for anyone to contribute to, the veteran need not be recently deceased.  Simply put their information in the comment section and I will put them on the following post.  Have a wonderful weekend everybody!!

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Military Humor – 

BUDGET CUTS

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Farewell Salutes –

Sylvan Alcabes – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII

E. Lee Bowman – Broadway, VA; US Navy, WWII

Daniel Doyle – Sarasota, FL; US Army, Major

Thomas Fahey Jr. – Boston, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Margarito Gomez – KS; US Army, WWII, CBI, Corps of Engineers, Bronze Star

Henry Hickman – Palmerston, North, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 403004, WWII, Flt. Sgt.

William Hoks – Lola, WI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Douglas Lane – Chatham, CAN; RC Army, WWII, 17th Field Reg/3rd Forward Observer Unit

Lawrence Smith – Poughkeepsie, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, Yeoman

Leroy Zeedyk – Kankakee, IL; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, LST-169

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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 June 16, 2017, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 80 Comments.

  1. My father was in the Korean War. He was a simple backwoods Tennessee farming man that they sent to the islands in the Pacific Ocean. How brave he must have been. And how brave all of our Military are to face the challenges of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Korea was certainly no piece of cake. The posts I have about that war don’t show it in ALL its horror! Thank you for being interested here. You must be very proud of your father!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I remember hearing other people talk about it, but I never heard my dad speak of it himself. He never learned to swim, so when they were flying over the ocean with no land it sight it was horrible for him. They said on one trip one of the engines caught fire and he was sure he was going to drown…People do not understand that when their family is sent away in the military, they lose their freedom to choose what happens to them. I don’t think most people understand that the heart and soul of the person is changed forever. We should admire all of our military people for that.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. General Swing, a remarkable man. Thank you for sharing these remarkable moments that are often overlooked.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That general swing was a very interesting man

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Julia C. Tobey

    A wonderful blog, including your invitation to others to share.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Very interesting stories about General Swing. A very intelligent and practical man. It is not surprising Smitty respected him so much.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I never heard him talk about another man in such light!!
      PS. received a wonderful comment by Lloyd Marken from Australia on Michael’s Tree. Told him I’d tell you as well
      “FYI I haven’t been able to comment on your posts lately, a glitch with WordPress it seems. I just wanted to say it’s a beautiful tree planted by kind people. Long may it grow and flourish. Thank you for sharing its photo.”

      Liked by 2 people

  6. salut GP. from one veteran to another

    Liked by 1 person

    • I greatly appreciate your remark, sir, but I do not wish to mislead. My father was the paratrooper during WWII, Smitty. My uncle and son were both Marines and my cousin, Navy. The only time my father adamantly opposed a wish of mine was refusing to allow me to enlist. I do believe the height of the Vietnam War was the reason. I am a member of the 11th Airborne Association though.
      I thank you for your service and sacrifices and do hope we will see you here again!! We have a great bunch around here that talk to each other, add stories of their own or friends, relatives or even a veteran they’ve met. You are welcome to contribute information for the Farewell Salutes as well.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Then let me rephrase, my salut to you for keeping and respecting the memories alive, and bringing them out to the world, the world needs ti respect its veterans. Then my salut to your father. Lastly I salut your sons and uncle. Its great to know that such families exist which give so much to their Nation. My respect to all the ladies, of your family old and young for only they know what it is to be in a family of warriors.

        Liked by 3 people

  7. Every soldier needs a General like that. John/Paol

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I stand. I called her names. I salute. And now I have added thank you for your service.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. PS Love those cartoons … ‘Budget Cuts’ is universal …

    Liked by 2 people

  10. A story, apocryphal, from the Civil War—a mile from hostile lines a general steps out of his tent and languidly stretches in the gorgeous early morning sunlight—

    “Hey, General! Better keep under cover! They got sharpshooters!”

    “Nonsense! They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist—”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Had an English soldier yelled that to Monty he’d probably have been shot!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post. Smart General. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Looking forward to more Smitty stories. There’s always something interesting in them.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. So revealing. He must have been such a character. I’d loved to have met him. The numbers lost though. I just sat and stared at the figures. so terrible and poignant. Thanks for making us aware.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. These are the kind of leaders who get things done. Thanks GP

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I have missed reading your work. I just got through reading “Band of Brothers” and “Beyond Band of Brothers.” Your posts are just as captivating as these books are..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Whoa! That is a compliment and a half, Kevin. Thank you for the encouragement [and the big head]!!! haha
      I just finished “The Airmen and the Headhunters”. Another great one. The more we learn about that generation – the more in awe I become!! Good to see you back!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just wanted you to know somethiFor the last 18 months my cancer has been in remission but for about 14 months i dealt with the aftermath of the anesthesia. I couldn’t remember things that I had known for years. I felt like I was getting dementia which terrified me because my Dad, grandparents, and Aunt suffered through this. I struggled to get through a difficult school year made worse by what I thought was dementia. 4 months ago it pretty much cleared up, my energy came back at the same time my memory did. During that time though I wanted to write I couldn’t, just didn’t have the energy. I have since learned that what I experienced is a side effect of anesthesia that some people get. I will be writing about my experience soon. Just wanted you to know because you are my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I appreciate you telling me what was going on with you. I know people often get side effects from the anesthesia, but I never heard of that! It had to be frightening. Every time I forget anything, I wonder if this is the start of something.
          Glad to see you’re back, my friend!!

          Like

  17. This reminded me of a similar incident during the Civil War, when Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. supposedly yelled at Lincoln, who was standing up, watching Jubal Early’s attack on Wash.D.C.. (I’m guessing it was different language, though!).
    Could you add three names to your Farewell Salutes? My grandfathers and my great-uncle. Thank you very much, RPT
    George P. Teel, Jr., White Haven, Pa.. Cpl, U.S. 8th Army, WWII. Fred I. Sonnenfeld, Bronx, NY, Cpl, U.S. Army. Robert J. York, Tamaqua, Pa., U.S. Army Air Corps, Lt. Col., WWII/Korea

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Good story. A General with humility. Certainly wasn’t MacArthur.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mac certainly had the ego and personality, but dad said he would always make a point of hearing the buck private’s ideas or even gripes. I always thought that brought him back to being a good leader.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. For the Japanese to lose almost 114,000 soldiers in one campaign shows just how hard it must have been to fight against them.
    I liked the ‘catapult’ photo! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. There is no “I” in team. Would have been sad for the commander to chastise someone for saving his life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Some of the stories dad told me about him, you’d think he was either suicidal or wearing an awful lot of armor. He was either up on the front or riding in a piper cub at low altitude. That no “I” made him a great leader. Everyone was trained the same, each unit swapped specialties to learn the specifics – and NO leniency for officers.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. … hee hee … Rich Reynolds wrote exactly what I was going to write! Gen. Swing was certainly no “chateau general” like those who earned that pejorative sobriquet in WWI. I’m sure he had the admiration and respect of all of Smitty’s comrades!

    Liked by 1 person

    • As I told Amy, he was a member of the West Point graduating class of 1915, so nicknamed, “The Class That the Stars Fell On” because out of 164 men, 59 became generals. Three of which were 5-stars!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. IT’s easy to imagine that story playing out like that. Lucky he wasn’t wearing decorations.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Great name for a general—almost sounds like a fictional character! He sounds like quite a character. Looking forward to your intermission stories. When I realized you were about to finish 1944, it made me think—what will he do once he gets to the end of the war? I realize there is a lot more to go in 1945, but it does seem that the light is at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I guess it was lucky that the general didn’t have his rank insignia on, or a sniper might have found him a tempting target! Great story GP.

    Liked by 1 person

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