11th Airborne – Movin’ On

Smitty in Japan

This photograph was signed by two of my father’s buddies, John S. Lodero and Phil Martorano, both of Brooklyn, New York. Smitty (Everett Smith) is circled, but which two men are John and Phil is unknown.

When the SCAP Headquarters was set up in Tokyo, MacArthur was determined to create a “Peaceful and responsible government…” He also had to administer to a nation with nearly 70 million near-starving civilians and a constantly growing population of soldiers. The Japanese made the transition of being under one totalitarian rule to another quite easily and the general proceeded to supervise the writing and implementation of a new constitution. This was adopted in 1947, retaining the Emperor as a constitutional monarch and reestablished the primacy of the Diet. The zaibatu industrial combines were broken up and women were given rights.

Smitty’s brochures

The 11th Airborne was amazed by the change of attitude of the populace; without ever having actually been invaded, the Americans were being accepted. It made their future missions so much easier to accomplish. The Americal Division relieved the 11th Airborne on 14 September at their present locations and the following day, they began moving out by truck and railroad to their newly assigned zones in northern Honshu. Gen. Swing requested Gen. Dorn, who had served with Gen. Stilwell in China, to head the convoy.

In the Sendai area and billeted at the Japanese arsenal [name to be changed to Camp Schimmelpfennig, [named after the chief of staff who was killed in combat] were the – Division Headquarters, 127th Engineers, 408th Quartermaster, 711th Ordnance, 511th Signal, 221st Medical, Parachute Maintenance and the 187th and 188th regiments. The 511th went to Morioka [ name would be changed to Camp Haugen, for their leader killed in combat], the 457th and the 152d moved to Akita, the 472d went to Yamagata, the 674th was divided and sent to Jimmachi and Camp Younghans and the 675th went to Yonezawa.

In the Sendai area, Japanese authorities turned over hotels in the Matsushima area for officer’s quarters and their staff, which explains how Smitty came home with these beautiful brochures you will see pictured here. If you click on and enlarge the photo, you can see where Smitty pointed to the sort of room he was given.

Smitty’s room (bottom-right)

At one point while moving supplies, Eli Bernheim (S-4 Section of the 187th reg.), remembered the convoy of 40 Japanese charcoal burning trucks always breaking down and they became lost. The interpreter and Eli took out their map and became surrounded by curious townspeople. Eli slung his rifle over his shoulder and they scattered. The interpreter suggested laying the weapon down, the civilians regrouped and began touching his hair – turns out they had never seen an American before.

I suppose the word must have spread, because after that incident, the convoy was warmly greeted in every town they passed through. Once in their respective areas, the first priority was living conditions and the Japanese barracks were primitive with ancient plumbing and sewage deposited in reservoirs to be picked up later by farmers and used as fertilizer. The division historian recorded that of all the traffic accidents within the 11th A/B’s zone, NO trooper was ever guilty of hitting one of those “honey carts.”

General Swing made General Pierson commander of the 187th and 188th joint group which became known as the Miyagi Task Force. They set up their headquarters in an insurance company building in Sendai. The principle responsibility of the Miyagi Task Force was to collect and destroy all arms, munitions and armament factories. They were also charged with seeing that General MacArthur’s edicts were all carried out. Many of the military installations had underground tunnels filled with drill presses and machine tools of all types. The entire zone needed to be demilitarized and equipment destroyed. Colonel Tipton discovered a submarine base for the two-man subs and a small group of men still guarding them. They told the colonel that they just wanted to go home.

Smitty’s next move

Inside this brochure my father wrote, “No liquor here so didn’t have to go behind the bar, we drank our own. This is where I had my first real hot bath since coming overseas.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Vernon Bly – Beaver Creek, MN; US Navy, WWII, / USNR, Lt. Comdr. (Ret.)

Charles Byers – Santa Barbara, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, TSgt., 385/551 Bomb Squadron, Purple Heart

Francis Cooney – Providence, RI; US Army, WWII, PTO, SSgt.

Nick Frank – Canton, OH; US Army, 11th Airborne Division, Armed Forces Press

John Hall – Natick, MA; US Merchant Marines / US Navy, WWII, Pto, Midshipman, USS Brill

Gregory Kristof – ID; US Navy, USS Rankin

Byron Otto – Bradenton, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Michael Stickley – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, Vietnam

James Thornberry – TN; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Elmer Upton – Port St. Lucie, MD; US Navy, 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 June 17, 2019, in First-hand Accounts, SMITTY, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 98 Comments.

  1. Thanks for sharing this interesting and informative post about your Dad! Thank you for keeping this part of our history alive.
    I know you are thankful for the momentoes, pictures and stories.
    Bill’s Dad never talked about his time during the war and had no pictures.
    Your Dad sounds like a wonderful and interesting man!
    Sorry I’ve taken so long to comment, life, as usual, has been hectic lately!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really interesting 🌹

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s a pleasure to read the occupation process described in actual words that bring the scenes to life. The task of the occupation forces was a fantastic logistical exercise, and to the Allied forces credit, carried out professionally in a Military manner. Smitty certainly witnessed much in his time.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Both sides must have been amazed to discover that the other guys weren’t evil after all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dad said they of course they remained on alert, but he had no trouble getting along with the Japanese and he witnessed no animosity. When I expressed surprise at that, he said it was just how they were, how they were raised, etc.

      Like

  5. Een mooi stukje geschiedenis belicht.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So much history of that era we didn’t know about . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Marvelous, GP. Based on all these comments, you’ve struck a chord with many.
    From the two person sub to the coal powered trucks, you’ve fascinated me with transportation. It makes me want to write another steakpunk story. 🙂 Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, that’s a really freaky picture of me… my smile makes me look like I’m about ready to rob someone, but I’ve never even had a traffic ticket in my entire life! Sorry, I’m a bit looney, today. I never when that’s gonna happen, but it’s today, for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Way to Go, Airborne!
    You Rock!

    Guess what, GP? I added a more pronounced profile image of you in my post where I was telling all my friends that “my WP is having technical issues, but I’m still here”, and so I put your name “GP Cox” in my tags to say “he is my friend”; thus, when I went on the Reader part of WordPress, I entered your name, and my profile showed up, too!!! So, I’m really happy about this since I love the military so much. 😃

    Tamara (Nika)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s hard to know whether the Japanese are/were submissive or well/self disciplined. They were obviously conditioned to accept authority and accepted it without question.

    A strange race in that sense, especially when compared to we WASP’s, speaking of which the USS WASP arrived here in Sydney Harbour yesterday.

    The young ” ladies” of Sydney will be happy! 😈

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much. As usual, your site will not allow me to click a Like button nor comment on it, so please know I appreciate you sharing this post!

      Like

  11. Excellent article Sir, I really enjoyed the read so I am going to reblog this for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I was struck by this line about the people at the two-person sub base: “They told the colonel that they just wanted to go home.” I suspect there was a lot of that feeling. There’s a certain sort of person who seems to adore war for a whole variety of reasons, but I suspect occupying forces throughout history have found a lot of people who just want to go home: that is, return to some sort of normalcy.

    I laughed at the hair-touching story. My first experience of that came in Liberia. We were in a bush village, sitting around the fire at night, when I started feeling “something.” It was the kids, creeping out of the darkness and coming up behind me to touch my hair and my skin. Some never had seen a white woman, so I was the center of attraction for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Whoa, that must have been some experience!
      I agree, some people want to wage war, some learn to like it and others just want to go home. I would think especially the Japanese who had been at war a lot longer than we had been. Have a great day, Linda!

      Like

  13. I love the Japanese leaflets.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Fascinating to see those brochures.
    Miyagi, and Sendai – two names I recognise as being badly affected by the tsunami in March 2011.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Anyone on here run across any information on my father, Henry Ross, from Kentucky and Indiana served in Alaska and some of island hopping, he passed away in 1988, never talked about his service any help would be appreciated

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Dad was in the 187th, so it’s enlightening to read about the coal powered trucks and how they were always breaking down. He never stated the time frame and I always thought it was right after they landed at Atsugi. One of his memories was setting up a perimeter on a cold foggy night after their truck broke down. They were all afraid they would be attacked and told of how they froze all night because at that time only had their warm weather jungle uniforms.
    He also talked of the Miyagi Task Force where he drove a jeep for an officer. He said every piece of high ground had an anti-aircraft battery manned by 2 or 3 Japanese soldiers and an officer. The US officer took the Japanese officers sword and dad took the bolts out of the soldiers rifles and threw them in the back of the jeep to be disposed of in the bay. Then mixed and poured cement in the anti-aircraft battery. He noted there were cement bunkers everywhere that had been manned by the Japanese women and children armed with pitchforks and spears. He said an invasion would have been a bloody ordeal.
    You are lucky Smitty had a camera around for all of the pictures. We only have one of dad whenever they stenciled “11th A/B” on front of his helmet. It would be nice to know when they did this.
    Thank you for this information!

    Liked by 2 people

    • First off – HI THERE – it’s always great to hear from a child of the 11th!!
      The 11th was deemed to be a “secret unit” for quite a while, actually from Camp Stoneman in CA until sometime in the Philippines. The helmets were not stenciled until they were getting ready to leave Okinawa for Japan – by Gen. Swing’s order.
      Anything you would like to add, any story your father told you or research you’ve discovered – Please bring it to us – my readers and I love personal accounts!!

      Like

  17. Not that any kind of service in a war zone is good, I think it’s interesting that Smitty was able to add these events and observations to his wartime experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. You have no idea how much I appreciate your posts (and the people whom these posts educate us about).

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This is so interesting, GP. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. That first bath must have felt like being in heaven! It’s interesting how easily
    The Japanese people accepted the occupation especially considering how the US forces had been portrayed earlier.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. No disrespect; I just knew there was a translation for the name:
    Schimmelpfennig Name Meaning German: nickname for a miser who lets his pennies become moldy, from schimmeln ‘to become moldy, mildewy’ (Middle High German schimel ‘mildew’) + Pfennig ‘penny’ (Middle High German phenninc).

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Beautiful information, if i for a short time forget this is information about soldiers in war. Thank you for sharing, GP! Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Somehow the Japanese seem to have rejoined the human race very quickly after the war ended. Perhaps the emperor had a big influence on them.
    The act of touching the American’s hair is rather like when my Dad’s village was visited in the 1930s by the first black man who had ever been there. He might just as well have been a man from Mars!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. No potential source of fertilizer went unused! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  25. fascinating history & reflection of Japanese society 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Japan is a beautiful country as you can see from those postcards. Smitty must have been thrilled to be in a clean room for a change. I love the Japanese touching the soldier’s hair. They were fascinated of the blond hair. I wonder what they thought of that.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Very interesting read. It fits with what I saw at the Peace Park in Okinawa where they chronicled the battle and the aftermath.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Thanks for sharing GP. The brochures were very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Very wise decision to gain the trust, confidence and eventual friendship of the Japanese people! The Japanese people can be thankful that the Soviets were not ruling postwar Japan. In the group picture above it looks like someone is getting a haircut, while the picture was taken.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Nice to see some of the personal mementos and photograph of your father. I bet that hot bath felt incredible.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. The brochures are beautiful, glad you kept hold of them!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Interesting again, what I was not taught in any history class. The extent to which Americans helped stabilize and restructure after the war was over. Just glossed over in school. Your father left you invaluable mementos. Thanks for this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My pleasure to share them with you! They will eventually be sent to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans along with any other memento of WWII that I collect. I’ve already made the arrangements with them.

      Liked by 3 people

  33. Insightful and interesting, GP. Smitty et al had some kind of experience I don’t think many of us can imagine. Young, in Japan, and American. What a unique perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Imagine the joy of a hotel room and a bath after all that time in combat or even just in combat zones. This was another fascinating read.
    Resistance in Germany lasted to a limited degree until 1948. How did it go in Japan [not counting the holdouts on the islands you have described before]?

    Liked by 1 person

    • There were some ‘die-hards’ that did want the war to end, but if they continued to fight, against the Emperor’s wishes, they were disgracing their own family.

      Like

  35. Your father left you his memories and you keep them with such care. Love the line, NO trooper was ever guilty of hitting one of those “honey carts.” 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  36. Perhaps a post of baseball being introduced in Japan…

    Liked by 1 person

  37. It is always so interesting to read about the experiences of an occupation army. Although many books exist about troops in Germany after 1945, this information about the soldiers in Japan is fascinating.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

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