11th Airborne Division’s End of WWII Honor – part (2)

11th Airborne’s flag atop Atsugi hanger

General Swing, Commander of the 11th A/B, brought with him on the plane a large American flag and a banner painted, “CP 11th Airborne Division” to be fastened onto the roof of airplane hangar. He was dressed in battle fatigues and “11th A/B” was stenciled on his helmet. He carried a .38 pistol and a bandoleer of .38 caliber shells draped across his chest. (As ready for combat in Japan as he was on Leyte and Luzon.) A Japanese officer approached him as he departed the plane. The officer saluted and introduced himself as Lieut-General Arisuye, the officer in control of the Atsugi sector. He then asked the general what his current orders would be and Gen. Swing lost no time in telling him.

Gen. Swing (l) & Gen. Eichelberger (r) with Japanese detail

American POWs had been left unguarded at their prisons just days before. Two hours after Gen. Swing’s arrival, two POWs walked into the CP. (command post). They had taken a train from the prison to Tokyo. No Japanese soldiers or civilians approached them along the way.

Later that day, Colonel Yamamoto presented himself as the chief liaison officer; both he and his aide were still wearing their swords. Gen. Swing ordered them to remove their weapons. Yamamoto arrogantly protested and insisted on explaining that the sword was his symbol of authority. Swing repeated his order, but with a more firm and commanding tone of voice and the two Japanese men complied immediately.

Yokohama

The 11th A/B then proceeded on to Yokohama where the Allied Headquarters was to be established. The fifth largest city of Japan was now little more than a shantytown after the persistent Allied bombings. In fact, most of the towns and cities resembled the crumbled remains seen in Europe. Yokohama and Tokyo would become sites for the Allied Military Tribunal trials for the Japanese war criminals, similar to those held in Nuremberg for the Germans.

The trucks waiting for the men at Atsugi airfield to be used as transportation between Tokyo and Yokohama mostly ran on charcoal and wood. Only a few vehicles still operated on gasoline. They were consistently breaking down and the fire engine that led General MacArthur’s motorcade was said to look like a Toonerville Trolley.

Toonerville Trolley

Below, the photograph from the New York “Daily News” show the 11th A/B in front of the New Grand Hotel and on the right, one of the many vehicles that constantly broke down. The date written on the picture is the issue  my grandmother cut them from the paper, not the dates the pictures were taken.

11th Airborne guarding MacArthur’s hotel CP

General Swing wanted to view his newly arriving troops farther down the runway from where he was, when he spotted a Japanese general exiting his car. Seconds later, ‘Jumpin’ Joe’ hopped into the backseat. The interpreter translated from the driver to Swing that the limo was reserved for the Chief of Staff of the Imperial Army. Swing roared in returned, “Goddamn it, we won the war. Drive me down the strip.” Once in front of his troops, Swing exited the car and the Japanese captain said, “Well sir, Generals are alike in all armies.”

The 11th Airborne band set up for the arrival of General Douglas MacArthur at 1400 hours. When the general’s plane the ‘Bataan’ landed, the five-star general paused at the door wearing his pleated khakis, his shirt unbuttoned at the neck and the garrison hat with the gold encrusted visor crown. (In other words – his typical attire). There were no ribbons clipped to his shirt, but the customary corncob pipe hung from his lips at an angle. He then descended, shook hands with Gen. Eichelberger and quietly said, “Bob, from Melbourne to Tokyo is a long way, but this seems to be the end of the road.  This is the payoff.”

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Fleming Begaye Sr. – Chinle, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker

James Bramble – Los Alamos, NM; US Army, WWII, Manhattan Project

Bernard Dargols – FRA & NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Melvin Gibbs – Sylva, NC; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret. 21 y.)

Estella Jensen – Arlington, WA; Civilian, WWII, Boeing machinist & welder

Frank Manchel – San Diego, CA; US Army, Sgt., WWII

Bob Maxwell – Bend, OR; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star, 2 Purple Hearts, 2 Silver Stars, Medal of Honor

Edd Penner – Springfield, MO; US Army, WWII

Carmine Stellaci – Morristown, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/188/11th Airborne Division

Spencer Wilkerson – Lancaster, PA; US Army, WWII, 28th/2nd Cabalry

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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 May 16, 2019, in SMITTY, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 57 Comments.

  1. Great reading gp, even to the end the Japanese tried to hold onto their superiority in defeat.
    Love the ending on that post with MacArthur words.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Stunning post…literally. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s certainly not politic to say, but there’s a sadness about losing your sword. A story of relief really given the long road back from 1940.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. GP, I’m betting you are already familiar with this site from the US Army Center of Military History.
    https://history.army.mil/html/bookshelves/resmat/wwii/ResourcesPTO/Books_and_Documents/sec01.html

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have a few of these booklets and they were very helpful in getting my basic outline done. It’s always good to have another link – things do have a tendency to get lost. 🙂 I thank you for thinking of me!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That Japanese soldier had it right about generals (no matter what Army.) It’s funny that out in the field a Colonel is usually a big deal. At the Pentagon, if you are not a 3 or 4 star, you don’t get to sit at the Adult table and your choice of aircraft is quite limited. Washington is indeed a world apart.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am glad to help tell this story

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Where was your father when this was all happening? Is some of this from his own observations?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. An excellent post. I really enjoyed that feeling of victory which everybody had. Best of all was making Yamamoto give up his sword. That would have hurt a Japanese officer a lot.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. The more I read about General Swing, the more I like him. His commandeering of that car was classic — and so was the response of the Japanese fellow. Generals are generals, after all — even today, when so much is changing.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I never knew of any man Smitty had more respect and admiration for than General Joseph May Swing. But the captain’s remark is even true today, as you said! What do you think? Does the rank make the attitude or is the attitude what helped the man get the rank?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, being the both/and sort I am, I suspect both come into play. With General Swing, though, it seems as though the attitude probably came first. It would be interesting to know if his better qualities emerged early. Do you know of any good biography that’s been written about him?

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Always sad to see a Navajo code talker on the list..

    Liked by 1 person

  11. End of horrific job.
    Well done.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I loved the comment of the Japanese captain, “Generals are alike in all armies.” Good report, GP.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. Gen Swing was not a man to be messed with

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Awesome story. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. “Well sir, Generals are alike in all armies.”
    🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  16. These early experiences probably helped solidify that fact that the war was over and that we had won.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. The newspaper clipping with handwritten date gave me goose bumps. It makes the history come alive.
    Thanks for sharing:)

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Winston Churchill later said “Of all the amazing deeds of bravery of the war, I regard MacArthur’s personal landing at Atsugi as the greatest of the lot.” Reminds me of him out in the open in Bataan while the Japanese rained bombed on Corregidor. He certainly did not lack personal courage.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Kind of amazing the Japanese resisted at all (the sword, also the driver….) trying to preserve some shred of dignity or decorum I guess.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I can almost sense the relief in this article. It was finally over. Phew…
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

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