Monthly Archives: August 2019

Feeding and Occupying Japan

MacArthur’s first priority was to set up a food distribution network; following the collapse of the ruling government and the wholesale destruction of most major cities, virtually everyone was starving. Even with these measures, millions of people were still on the brink of starvation for several years after the surrender.  As expressed by Kawai Kazuo, “Democracy cannot be taught to a starving people”.  The US government encouraged democratic reform in Japan, and while it sent billions of dollars in food aid, this was dwarfed by the occupation costs it imposed on the struggling Japanese administration.

Initially, the US government provided emergency food relief through Government and Relief in Occupied Areas  (GARIOA) funds. In fiscal year 1946, this aid amounted to US $92 million in loans. From April 1946, in the guise Licensed Agencies for Relief,  private relief organizations were also permitted to provide relief.

MacArthur and Hirohito, first meeting

Once the food network was in place MacArthur set out to win the support of Hirohito. The two men met for the first time on September 27; the photograph of the two together is one of the most famous in Japanese history. Some were shocked that MacArthur wore his standard duty uniform with no tie instead of his dress uniform when meeting the emperor. With the sanction of Japan’s reigning monarch, MacArthur had the political ammunition he needed to begin the real work of the occupation.

While other Allied political and military leaders pushed for Hirohito to be tried as a war criminal, MacArthur resisted such calls, arguing that any such prosecution would be overwhelmingly unpopular with the Japanese people. He also rejected the claims of members of the imperial family such as Prince Mikasa and Prince Higashikuni and demands of intellectuals like Tatsuji Miyoshi, who sought the emperor’s abdication.

By the end of 1945, more than 350,000 U.S. personnel were stationed throughout Japan. By the beginning of 1946, replacement troops began to arrive in the country in large numbers and were assigned to MacArthur’s  8th Army, headquartered in Tokyo’s Dai-Ichi building.

Of the main Japanese islands, Kyushu was occupied by the 24th Infantry Division, with some responsibility for Shikoku.  Honshu was occupied by the 1st Calvary Division.  Hokkaido was occupied by the 11th Airborne Division.

By June 1950, all these army units had suffered extensive troop reductions and their combat effectiveness was seriously weakened. When North Korea invaded South Korea in the Korean War, elements of the 24th Division were flown into South Korea to try to fight the invasion force there, but the inexperienced occupation troops, while acquitting themselves well when suddenly thrown into combat almost overnight, suffered heavy casualties and were forced into retreat until other Japan occupation troops could be sent to assist.

Groups involved and running parallel to SCAP (MacArthur),

two women in Sasebo, Japan, Sept-Oct. 1945

The official British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), composed of  Australian,  British, Indian, and New Zealand personnel, was deployed on February 21, 1946.  While U.S. forces were responsible for the overall occupation, BCOF was responsible for supervising demilitarization and the disposal of Japan’s war industries.  BCOF was also responsible for occupation of several western prefectures and had its headquarters at Kure.  At its peak, the force numbered about 40,000 personnel. During 1947, BCOF began to decrease its activities in Japan, and officially wound up in 1951.

The Far Eastern Commission and Allied Council for Japan were also established to supervise the occupation of Japan.  The establishment of a multilateral Allied council for Japan was proposed by the Soviet government as early as September 1945, and was supported partially by the British, French and Chinese governments.

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Personal Shoutout – Hurricane Dorian appears to have his eyes on hitting here.  So, if I suddenly disappear, please understand that I might be out of power.

Thank you for understanding.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jeffrey Aylward – Plymouth, MA; 176th Ordnance/82nd Airborne Division

Harold Bakken – Kent, WA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBee

Robert Coleman – Nashua, NH; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Robert Fraley – Flora, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/187/11th Airborne Division

John Isbell – Birmingham, AL; US Navy, WWII

Jerry Koerner – Paducah, KY; US Army, Vietnam

Leslie May – NZ; RNZ Navy # MX117905, WWII, ETO

Thomas Rice – Columbia, SC; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt.

Robert Steiner – St. Paul, MN; US Army, 81mm gunner, 86th Infantry Division

Timothy Woos – Salem, VA; US Army, SSgt., 2nd Infantry Division

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Fear brought rise to an icon – Smokey

One of the first Smokey Bear posters during WWII, circa 1946.
Advertising Archive/Everett

“Remember Pearl Harbor!” “Loose Lips Might Sink Ships.” Those are among the most famous slogans of World War II. But another poster child birthed during the war—Smokey Bear—might be even better remembered. The ad campaign that spawned the cartoonish bear, and a fire prevention legend, was only made possible by wartime paranoia about the possibility of a Japanese invasion of the continental United States.

At the time, many Americans worried that explosive devices might spark forest fires along the Pacific coast—for which the U.S. was hardly prepared.

WWII  was a tricky time for forest fire fighting. In the face of wartime rationing, it became harder and harder to get a hold of modern firefighting equipment. As more and more male firefighters joined the war efforts, officials faced a dilemma. “Foresters feared that the forest fire problem might soon get out of hand unless the American public could be awakened to its danger,” said forestry researcher, J. Morgan Smith.

The shelling sparked a national invasion panic, with speculation as to just what Axis fighters could be capable of on U.S. soil. The specter of devastating fires loomed large. Not only were local men assisting with the war effort instead of watching for fires, but firefighting had long been considered a local concern.

Though federal funds had been going toward forest fire fighting since the early 20th century, there was no national effort to fight forest fires.  State forestry services and the Forest Service joined the newly created War Advertising Council to create the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention Program in 1942.

The program focused on public service advertising, and posters urging the public to aid the war effort by preventing forest fires were soon splashed across the country. In 1944, the program enlisted a famous poster child, Disney’s Bambi. But Disney only lent the character to the effort for a year.

Smokey, over time

Artist  Albert Staehle, known for his illustrations of adorable animals, stepped into the gap. He created the first poster of a cartoonish bear pouring water on a campfire. The Forest Service named the character after a former firefighting legend, New York  assistant fire chief, Smokey Joe Martin.

The injured bear cub, rescued from a forest fire in the Capitan Mountains – calender
US Forest Service/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

The living symbol of Smokey Bear was a five-pound, three month old  American black bear cub who was found in the spring of 1950 after the Capitan Gap fire, a  wildfire that burned in the Capitan Mts. of  New Mexico.  Smokey had climbed a tree to escape the blaze, but his paws and hind legs had been burned. Local crews who had come from New Mexico and Texas to fight the blaze removed the cub from the tree.

Smokey Bear, frolicking in a pool, by Schroeder, Francine, c. 1950s, Smithsonian Archives – History Div, 92-3559.

During his 26-year tenure at the zoo, Smokey Bear became a national icon—and the words “Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires” a nationally known catchphrase.

Ironically, the only real enemy attempts to burn U.S. forests were failures. More than 9,000 Japanese fire balloons were launched over the western United States between 1944 and 1945, but the weapons caused few casualties and even less fire damage.

Over the next 75 years, Smokey’s message of forest fire prevention successfully raised awareness of the dangers of unattended fires—but is also thought to have turned public opinion against burns of any kind. Ironically, the bear helped put the brakes on controlled burns, which keep the amount of flammable brush under control and help encourage new growth in forests.

While Smokey’s message has since been updated to mention “wildfires” instead of “forest fires” and to support prescribed fires while still preventing “unwanted and unplanned outdoor fires,” the “Smokey Bear effect” has been blamed for making U.S. forests less resilient in the face of climate change.

From: History.com

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Military Humor  from the 1942 New Yorker magazine –  

“I’ll see if he’s in, sir.”

 

 

“I still can’t tell them apart.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Bruce Aikenhead – London, CAN; RC Air Force/RAF, WWII, CBI, mechanic

Thomas Barry – Clearwater, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Edward Cole – Surprise, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Andrew ‘Max’ Eggman – Gridley, CA; USMC, Korea & Vietnam, GySgt. (Ret. 20 y.)

Raymond Howey – Ransom County, ND; US Army, WWII

Arthur Jacob – Webster, MA; US Army, WWII, 84th Infantry, Purple Heart

Dorothy Klar – New Orleans, LA; Civilian, Engles Shipyard, WWII, inspector

Frank Livoti – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII

Billie Paige – Winfield, KS; US Navy, WWII, USS Shangri-la

Charles Whitten – Winter Haven, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII

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How Donald Duck & Dumbo Helped to Win the War

Just one day after Pearl Harbor, Walt Disney received his first military contract and began creating promotional reels, war bond advertisements, short training and instructional films, and other WWII materials.  Also at this time, he received requests from military units all over the world requesting Disney-designed insignia’s and mascots.

David Lesjak, a former employee and Disney historian says, “Insignia helped build morale.  Having a cartoon character you grew up with on your plane or shoulder patch helped remind you of home.  In my mind it was a happy diversion from the horrors of war.”

Hank Porter @ Disney

One of the purest expressions of Walt Disney’s genuine patriotism during the war years was his decision to establish a unit devoted to producing customized military unit insignia free of charge for U.S. armed forces and their allies.  Headed by the talented draftsman, Hank Porter, whom Walt referred to as a “one-man department,” a unit of 5 full-time artists worked steadily throughout the war, turning out 1,300 insignia.

By far, the single most requested and used Disney character was Donald Duck, who was featured in at least 146 designs.  The numerous requests for Donald’s likeness resulted in a wealth of drawings that successfully channeled his irascibilty as patriotism and military zeal, often with a comedic flourish.

Next, the character that appeared most was Pluto in about 35.  Pluto was popular and his trademark facial expressions made it easy for the artists to incorporate him into a variety of insignia.  Goofy followed in popularity at 25 insignia and Jiminy Cricket appeared in 24.

B-29 Thumper nose-art

Sometimes a unit had a special design in mind and was seeking a Disney artist’s skill to bring it to life, attaching a rough sketch to their request letter for reference.

The bulk of insignia were designed for Army units and Navy vessels, but occasionally individuals requested their own personal design.  These requested were accommodated and executed with the same level of care as an insignia for an entire ship, bombardment group or battalion.

Mickey nose-art

The requested letters were often addressed simply: Walt Disney, Hollywood, California.  Once a letter was received in was placed in the queue of pending requests, and the turnaround time was usually 3-4 weeks, though a wait of several months was possible when the insignia unit was particularly swamped.

The procedure for the creation of the insignia design varied, but it typically involved a preliminary pencil drawing in which the image was established, then a full-color pencil version and finally a full-color gouache on art board that would then be forwarded to the requesting unit or party.  This would often hang in the unit headquarters and serve as a template for reproducing the emblem on aircraft, tanks, and other military equipment – as well as uniforms and letterheads.

War Bond by Disney

It is difficult today to fully appreciate how it felt for a serviceman to have his unit represented by a Disney-designed insignia.  For the generation that fought WWII, Disney character images possessed and iconic heft that has no analog in contemporary animation.

A Donald Duck insignia boosted morale, not just because it reminded soldiers of home, but also because it signified that the job they were doing was important enough to be acknowledged by Walt Disney.

The 127th Airborne Engineers/11th Airborne Division’s first insignia was Donald Duck with combat engineer equipment and aviation goggles.

This article and information was printed in the “Voice of the Angels” 11th Airborne Division Association newspaper.

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Military Humor – 

Tracking Guide

Disney Humor

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Bradshaw III – E. Greenwich, RI; US Army, WWII & Korea. Major (Ret. 45 y.)

Jimmie Calder – Pensacola, FL; US Navy, WWII / US Air Force, MSgt. (Ret. 22 y.)

Charles Graybeal – W. Jefferson, NC; US Army, WWII, ETO

Charles Hankammer – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII, CSG2 cook

Clayton J. Horne – Atlanta, LA; Saudi Arabia, Specialist, 351/160th Military Police Battalion, KIA

Meredith Keirn – Niagara Falls, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO, Spl. / Korea, Sgt., Co F/2/7/1st Marine Division, KIA

Ralph Mayville – Windsor, CAN; RC Forces, WWII, ETO, 1st Special Forces (Black Devils)

Horace Ogle – Whangarei, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 44071, WWII

George Rash – Pulaski County, VA; US Army, WWII, POW / Korea

Martin J. Wurth –  Paducah, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

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WWII Glider Stands as a nod to Camp MacKall, NC

Glider at Camp MacKall

HOFFMAN, N.C. (Tribune News Service)  — The Army’s Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations soldiers have been tried, tested and trained at Camp Mackall for decades.

But long before the first Green Beret was built amid the remote satellite installation several miles west of Fort Bragg, Camp Mackall was home to the nation’s parachute and glider training amid World War II.

Airborne, Camp MacKall

The U.S. Army Special Warfare Center and School honored that history as it dedicated a replica of a Waco CG-4A glider that now welcomes visitors from Camp Mackall’s Ashemont Road entrance.

The glider — which is raised above an intersection that also features a flag pole, historical marker and welcome sign — was built to be a sturdier version of the original CG-4A gliders. The nose of the glider includes a metal frame salvaged from an actual glider that was found, crashed, in a nearby swamp in recent years.

Glider at Camp MacKall, 1943

The glider has replaced a UH-1 Huey helicopter that had been on display at the location. Officials said the Huey is being refurbished and will eventually be relocated to another part of Camp Mackall.

Several World War II veterans attended the ceremony, including a paratrooper who jumped into Normandy, France, on D-Day alongside glider forces, a glider infantryman and a glider pilot.

Glider training

Russ Seitz said he could remember riding in a glider very similar to the one now on display as a soldier at Fort Bragg in 1944 and 1945. It would have been towed by a C-47, quietly pulled through the air behind the much larger plane.

Seitz pointed to how the nose of the glider had a hinge to allow it to open upward so jeeps or other equipment could be driven inside.

“There’s a bench on each side,” he said. “There is a sensation when you’re being towed.”

Camp MacKall postcard

During the war, the Army ordered 13,900 gliders, made of wood and metal covered in fabric. And they would be used across Europe, China, Burma and India and were often used as a complement to paratroopers, carrying additional troops, howitzers and vehicles.

The flying machines, which used a set of skids to land, were nicknamed “Gooney Birds,” “Flying Coffins,” “Tow Targets” and “Silent Wings.”

Lt. Col. Seth A. Wheeler, the commander of 1st Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group, said the ceremony was a unique opportunity to reflect on Camp Mackall’s past and commemorate its history.

Now a small but growing camp housing mostly special operations facilities, Camp Mackall was once a bustling Army installation 7 miles from Fort Bragg’s western training areas.

Smitty, 187th RCT/11th Airborne Division, Camp MacKall 1943

Construction at the camp, originally named Camp Hoffman, was begun in late 1942, according to officials. And most of the work was finished in four months, with buildings created out of temporary materials such as plank siding and tar paper.

The installation was renamed Camp Mackall on Feb. 8, 1943, in honor of Pvt. John Thomas Mackall, who was thought at the time to be the first paratrooper casualty in World War II.

The glider’s tail number, 111242, corresponds to the date Mackall died, Nov. 12, 1942.

Wheeler said Camp Mackall is the only Army installation named after an enlisted soldier.

Now a relatively austere camp, Wheeler said the installation has a lofty wartime past.

“Camp Mackall was an installation to behold, with over 65 miles of paved roads, a 1,200 bed hospital, two cantonment areas with five movie theaters, six beer gardens, a triangle-shaped airport with three 5k foot runways and a total of 1,750 buildings including three libraries and 12 chapels,” he said.

The camp was home to U.S. Army Airborne Command, which needed greater maneuver areas and airfields to train the expanding airborne and glider units.

All five U.S. Army airborne divisions have ties to Camp Mackall, officials said. The 11th, 13th and 17th Airborne Divisions were headquartered at the camp. Additionally, the 82nd Airborne Division and 101st Airborne Division at Fort Bragg trained at Camp Mackall.

Camp Mackall was home of the airborne and glider infantry for three-and-a-half years.

At the war’s end, Airborne Command moved to Fort Bragg. And a few years later, the Army began using Camp Mackall as a training location for a new kind of unit, Special Forces.

Drew Brooks can be reached at dbrooks@fayobserver.com 

(c)2018 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)

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Military (Airborne) Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Brando – Jersey City, NJ; US Navy, WWII / US Army, Korea

Francis Costello – Victoria, CAN; RC Army, WWII

Mike Dunsmore – MI; US Army, Vietnam, 1st Cavalry Division, Purple Heart

Cletis Eades – Grandview, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot

Makato Harano – Kealakekua, HI; US Army, WWII

Victor Klopping – Des Moines, IA; US Army, WWII

Henry ‘Hank’ Lee – Zanesville, OH; US Army, Vietnam, Corps of Engineers, Lt. Colonel (Ret), West Point grad

Joseph Orosz – Westlake, FL; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Roger H. Swartz – Palatine Bridge, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Medical/11th Airborne Division

Matthew Zieringer – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Major (Ret. 22 y.)

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79th U.S. Airborne Birthday

16 August,  National Airborne Day

The history of United States Airborne Forces did not begin on the training fields of Fort Benning, Georgia, as some believe. In fact, the origin of Airborne Forces in the U.S. military began with a familiar name to American military history, Brigadier General William L. “Billy” Mitchel (1879-1936).

As well as being considered the spiritual father of the United States Air Force, which he advocated for fiercely during his tenure in the military, BG Mitchell was the first to imagine airborne tactics and sought the creation of U.S. Airborne Forces.

BGeneral Billy Mitchell, the father of the U.S. Airborne


It is not recorded exactly when he organized a demonstration of Airborne Infantry for U.S., Russian and German observers. However, according to records
 at Ft. Benning, Georgia, it is confirmed that BG Mitchell held the demonstration “shortly after World War I” at Kelly Field, in San Antonio, Texas. During the demonstration, six soldiers parachuted from a Martin Bomber. After landing safely, the soldiers assembled their weapons and were ready for action in less than three minutes after they exited the aircraft.

11th Airborne Division, 1943 Yearbook

Reprinted and broadcast countless times, High Flight is regarded as one of the world’s great war poems and the greatest anthem of aviation. It is the official poem of the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. First year cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy are required to memorize it. Extracts have been quoted in a variety of occasions. The most famous example occurred on Jan. 28, 1986, when President Ronald Reagan, speaking of the Challenger, Space Shuttle disaster, closed his address with the sentence: “We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of Earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’”

11th A/B trooper Wiiliam Carlisle on the cover of “Yank”

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

of sun-split clouds, – and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,

I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air . . .

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

Where never lark nor even eagle flew –

And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

                                     – Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

11th Airborne Division Chapel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Military (Airborne) Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ATTA BOY!!

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Astin – Mise, MS; US Army, MSgt. # 39111 (Ret. 21 y.), 82nd & 101st Airborne, 187th RCT Airborne

Ronald Boyd Sr. – Massillon, OH; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division, Green Beret

Booby Frier – Lubbock, TX; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division

James Glidewell – Springfield, MO; US Army, Korea, MSgt. 187th Regimental Combat Team Airborne

William Herring  – Woodville, FL; US Army, 173rd Airborne Division

Scott A. Koppenhafer – Mancos, CO; USMC, Iraq, GySgt., Force Recon Marines, KIA

Frank Krhovsky – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

Archie McInnes (100) – UK; RAF, WWII, ETO, 601 & 238 Squadrons, pilot

Michael Wood – ID; US Army, MSgt., 7th Special Forces, Afghanistan / FBI

Thomas Yarborough – Jacksonville, FL; US Army, Korea, 187th Regimental Combat Team Airborne

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How Chocolate Helped To Win The War

Seventy-five years ago, more than 160,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day invasion.  And while we all know that day served as a huge turning point for the Allied cause, you probably haven’t thought much about what those soldiers carried with them to eat during and after the invasion.

Food had to be lightweight, nutritious and very high in energy; after all, these men were about to invade Nazi-occupied land.  As it so happens, the one substance that could fulfill all those requirements was a very unlikely it — a Hershey’s chocolate bar.

D ration chocolate bar

The Hershey Chocolate company was approached back in 1937 about creating a specially designed bar just for U.S. Army emergency rations.  According to Hershey’s chief chemist, Sam Hinkle, the U.S. government had just four requests about their new chocolate bars: (1) they had to weigh 4 ounces; (2) be high in energy; (3) withstand high temperatures; (4) “taste a little better than a boiled potato.”

The final product was called the “D ration bar,” a blend of chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, skim milk powder and oat flour.  The viscous mixture was so thick, each bar had to be packed into its 4-ounce mold by hand.

As for taste, well – most who tried it said they would rather have eaten the boiled potato.  The combination of fat and oat flour made the chocolate bar a dense brick, and the sugar did little to mask the overwhelmingly bitter taste to the dark chocolate.  Since it was designed to withstand high temperatures, the bar was nearly impossible to bite into.

Troopers had to shave slices off with a knife before they could chew it.  And despite the Army’s best efforts to stops the men from doing so, some of the D-ration bars ended up in the trash.

Tropical chocolate bar

Later in the war, Hershey introduced a new version, known as the Tropical bar, specifically designed for extreme temperatures of the Pacific Theater.  By the end of the war, the company had produced more than 3 billion ration bars.

Soldier with a Tropical bar

But “Hitler’s Secret Weapon”, as many infantrymen referred to the chocolate bar, was hardly the only candy in the D-Day rations.  Candy was an easy way to pep up the troops, and the quick burst of energy provided by sugar was a welcome addition to kit bags.

Along with the D rations, troops received 3 days worth of K ration packs.  These were devised more as meal replacements and not sustenance snacks like the D rations, and came complete with coffee, canned meats, processed cheese and tons of sugar.  The other chocolate companies would soon join in with the production.

Cadbury ration bar

At various points during the war, men could find powdered orange or lemon drink, caramels, chewing gum and of course – more chocolate!!  Along with packs of cigarettes and sugar cubes for coffee, the K ration packs provided plenty of valuable energy for fighting men.

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Current News – 

The Lost 52 Project has located the ‘late and presumed lost’ US submarine, USS Grunion off the Aleutian Islands.  She sunk with 70 crewmen on board during WWII.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reader’s Digest ‘Humor In Uniform’

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

George Beckwith – Ossipee, NH; US Army, WWII, ETO, US 6th Army / Korea, 187th/11th Airborne Division

Ralph Bennett – Ames, IA; US Army, WWII, CBI, KIA

Lonnie ‘L.D.’ Cook – OK; US Navy, WWII, Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona

Frederick Haberman (100) – Bloomfield, NJ; US Navy, WWII

Claude Honeycutt – Gadsden, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, P-47 pilot, 34 FS/437 Fighter Group

Roy A. Knight Jr. – Millsap, TX; US Air Force, Vietnam, Colonel, 602 Special Operations Squadron, KIA

Anthony Lewis Sr. – Watervliet, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

John McRoskey – San Diego, CA; US Army, WWII, Major, 515/13th Airborne

Myron Stone – Tacoma, WA; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Harry Walton Sr. – Allentown, PA; USMC, Korea

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You don’t need to be Superman to be a hero

Following his U.S. Army service in World War II, Thompson joined the Air Force, retiring with more than 20 years of service at the rank of major and earning his master’s degree. Courtesy of Jeremy P Amick

Growing up with dyslexia, James Thompson faced many challenges in his early learning experiences, which tempered his ambitions toward pursuing an education in future years.

Additionally, while in the eleventh grade in the fall of 1944, he received his draft notice and believed it to be the end of any formal education; instead, the military later provided the spirit and resources to earn a master’s degree.

“I was 18 years old when I received my draft notice for the U.S. Army and left Columbia by bus on October 20 (1944),” said the veteran. “When we arrived at Jefferson Barracks (St. Louis), we were given another physical, issued our uniforms and the next morning put on a train to Camp Crowder.”

For the next few weeks, he underwent his basic training followed by lineman training, instruction as a radio operator and cryptographic training.

“The first sergeant came and got me and said there’s a guy (in civilian clothes) who wants to interview you,” Thompson said. “After that, I was in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)—the forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),” he added.

Serving as “the first organized effort by the United States to implement a centralized system of strategic intelligence,” the OSS was established on June 13, 1942 and conducted many covert functions such as receiving and decoding enemy communications.

In the summer of 1945, Thompson received orders for overseas service. He took a train to California and, from there, sailed aboard a troop ship to the island of Eniwetok. His journey ended with his arrival at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, where he spent the next several months as a cryptographer.

General William J. Donovan reviews Operational Group members in Bethesda, Maryland prior to their departure for China in 1945.

“The OSS was disbanded because the war was over,” said Thompson. “I can remember that in late November 1945, there were about six of us transferred from the Philippines to Tokyo, Japan, at the headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur who was there as oversight for the occupational forces.”

The veteran explained that he was part of a group who processed messages sent to and from Sixth Army and MacArthur’s headquarters. While there, he was later promoted to sergeant and placed in charge of the code room, which had the responsibility of decoding message traffic.

While in Japan, his enlistment expired but he chose to remain there as a civilian to continue the work he enjoyed at McArthur’s headquarters. However, in June 1947, he returned to the United States and was able to enroll in college at the University of Missouri despite having not completed his high school education a few years earlier.

MacArthur and the Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, at their first meeting, September 1945

“In 1951, I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology,” recalled Thompson. “While I was at MU, I was informed that since I had held the rank of sergeant in the Army, I could complete one semester of ROTC and qualify for commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force upon graduation.”

The former soldier began his Air Force career as an officer when assigned to Bangor, Maine, administering entrance exams for new recruits and draftees. It was here that he met the former Barbara Longfellow while taking courses at the University of Maine and the two soon married. The couple went on to raise three sons.

From there, he was briefly transferred to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, before receiving assignment to Wheelus Air Base in Tripoli, Libya, spending time as an administrative officer for the 580th Air Materiel Assembly Squadron.

Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, United States – 20 Feb 1995

 

“I became the adjutant for the base administrative officer at Selfridge Field (Michigan) in 1959,” he explained. “I made captain while I was there and then became the administrative officer and later commander for the 753rd Radar Station at Sault St. Maria, Michigan.”

He would later attend the first class of the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington D.C., as the various military service branches learned to combine their intelligence gathering capabilities.

From 1962 to 1966, he was stationed in Ramstein, Germany, gathering intelligence on the Soviet air capabilities.

In Germany, he took courses through the University of Southern California, earning his master’s degree in systems management. He was then transferred to Little Rock, Arkansas, for a year followed by his assignment to Vietnam. During the war, he was stationed in Nha Trang and briefed pilots prior to their aerial missions.

“I was given my base of choice when returning to the states in 1969, so I chose Whiteman Air Force Base,” said Thompson. “I spent the last few months of my career there and retired as a major with 20 years, 1 month and 1 day of service,” he grinned.

Whitman Air Force Base

His military career, he explained, was a collection of unique experiences that did not follow a linear path. As a child, he further noted, he would never have imagined the opportunity for an advanced education or the option of pursuing his interest of becoming a member of the military.

“When I was younger, the military was something I always wanted to do and I never believed I could join the Army or Air Force because of my dyslexia,” he said. “My ambitions weren’t all that high as a child but then I was drafted, I encountered people who I admired and inspired me to achieve.”

He concluded, “When it was all said and done, I not only got to serve both in the Army and Air Force, but this young man,” he said, pointing to himself, “who didn’t finished high school, was able to earn a master’s degree … all because of the military.”

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Military Humor –

Navigator to pilot… navigator to pilot… HALP !!

Two other CBI newspapers for the troops.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Elizabeth Birkhimer – Greenfield, IL; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Robert Dean – NY; US Navy, WWII, PBY pilot

James Fraser – Stratford, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Richmond

Margaret Goodell – Taplin Hill, VT; US Army WAC, WWII, 2nd Lt.

William Hunter – Knoxville, TN; US Army, WWII/ Korea

Warren Kepner – Harrisburg, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Benjamin Neal – Norfolk, VA; US Army, WWII

Lowell Rutherford – Battle Creek, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, 113 SeaBees

Richard Sprague – Dewey, OK; US Navy, WWII, USS Indianapolis

Joe Varela – Norwalk, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co./187th/11th Airborne Division

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OSS Unit 101 – American/Kachin Rangers

OSS Unit 101

After the withdrawal of the two Chinese divisions back to China, from Burma, ordered by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, this left a large void in the area in which they operated. The British were unable to fill the area with troops vacated by the Chinese and thus the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Detachment 101 was tasked the mission with its “Kachin Rangers,” numbering 10,800 indigenous soldiers at the time, at full strength, comprising four (4) battalions.

During most of the unit’s existence, it funded and coordinated various resistance groups made up of the Kachin people of northern Burma. The best known resistance force was known as the Kachin Rangers and was under the command of Carl F. Eifler, though often the term Kachin Rangers has been used to describe all Kachin Forces raised during the war by the Americans in Northern Burma.

Carl F. Eifler, (second from the left)

In July 1942, twenty OSS men moved in and set up headquarters at Nazira in the northeastern Indian province of Assam.  No operations of any significance occurred until the end of 1942. Starting in 1943, small groups or individuals were parachuted behind Japanese lines to remote Kachin villages, followed by a parachute supply drop. The Americans then began to create independent guerrilla groups of the Kachin people, calling in weapons and equipment drops. In December 1943 Stilwell issued a directive that Detachment 101 increase its strength to 3,000 guerrillas. They were recruited from within Burma, many of them “fierce Kachins”.

Once established, the groups undertook a variety of unconventional missions. They ambushed Japanese patrols, rescued downed American pilots, and cleared small landing strips in the jungle. They also screened the advances of larger Allied forces, including Merrill’s Marauders.

Unit 101, American/Kachin Rangers

The first United States unit to form an intelligence screen and organize and employ a large guerrilla army deep in enemy territory.

They pioneered the unique art of unconventional warfare, later incorporated as fundamental combat skills for our Army Special Forces (Green Berets). They have been credited with the highest “kill/loss ratio” for any infantry-type unit in American military history.

Capt. Charles Coussoule of the OSS American/Kachin Rangers was known to his men as “Col. Greek”. On his way home!

The Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation award to Department 101 says in part:  The courage and fighting spirit displayed by its officers and men in offensive action against overwhelming enemy strength reflect the highest tradition of the armed forces of the United States,” signed Dwight D. Eisenhower, Chief of Staff, January 17, 1946. He was of the opinion that Detachment 101 performed in an outstanding manner, one of the most difficult and hazardous assignments that any military unit had ever been called upon to perform.

SUMMARY OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS

 

Total Det. 101 personnel
Officers
Enlisted men
250
750
Highest guerrilla strength 10,800
Espionage agents with radios 162
U.S. personnel killed, all causes 27
Native personnel killed 338
Espionage agents 40
Japanese killed 5,400
Additional Japanese estimated killed or wounded 10,000
Japanese captured 78
Bridges demolished 57
Trains derailed 9
Vehicles destroyed – captured 272
Supplies destroyed – captured – tons 15,000
Allied men rescued 425
Intelligence furnished to Northern Combat Command (NCAC) 85%

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News –

  1. NATIONAL COAST GUARD DAY. National Coast Guard Day on August 4 celebrates and honors the courageous work of the service members of Coast Guard. The United States Coast Guard is one of the five US Armed Forces. It is a maritime, military and multi-missioned service. It operates under the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime.

    2. This month of August is dedicated to paying our respects to all the brave men and women wounded or killed in combat. The official Purple Heart Day is observed on the 7th day of August each year, commemorating the historic day in 1782 that General George Washington, Commander-In-Chief of the Continental Army, commissioned the first Purple Heart Medal, originally called the Badge of Military Merit

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Military Humor – 

WWII newspaper

Reaction to V-J Day

 

Marines’ introduction to Chinese peddlers.
(By Sgt. Roland G. James USMCR.)

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jimmie Calder – Pensacola, FL; US Navy, WWII, / US Army, Korea & Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret 22 y.)

Howard Davis – Bono, AR; US Army, WWII, PTO

Don Erwin – IN; US Army, WWII, SSgt.

Ivan Graves – Rose City, MI; US Navy, WWII, USS Cleveland

Florence Huntzicker – Chicago, IL; Civilian, US Army Regional Office, WWII

Chris Kraft Jr. – Phoebus, VA; NASA Houston Control Director for Moon landings

William Krysak – Forsyth, GA; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Edward McCaffrey – Bronx, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO

Shirley (Miller) Niedzwiecki – AUS, Women’s RA Air Force, WWII

Patrick Simpson – Eugene, OR; US Army, Vietnam, 1st Calvary Div., Silver Star, (Ret. 26 y.)

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U.S. Marines in China – Part IV – conclusion

By early 1947, it was clear that General Marshall’s effort to reconcile the Nationalists and communists was an utter failure. As a result, President Truman ordered all U.S. military home, but the disengagement was going to be a long and tedious one. Units were shifted around and finally withdrawn. It was clear that Chiang’s government was going to fall.

The last and greatest clash between American Marines and the Chinese communists took place the night of April 4-5, 1947. Mao’s forces, now dubbed the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), attacked an ammunition dump at Hsin Ho that was guarded by Marines. The Americans were heavily outnumbered; the attacking force was estimated at about 350 men.

The night’s quiet was broken by the shrill notes of a Chinese bugle call. It was the PLA’s style to blow bugles when launching an offensive. This same technique would be used later in the Korean War. Five Marines were killed in the initial assault, and the rest were hard pressed to keep the enemy at bay. The PLA commander had anticipated that American reinforcements would be sent, so he placed a mine in the road where relief would be expected at any moment.

The bodies of two dead communist soldiers killed in a skirmish at Hsin Ho in April 1947 attest to the ferocity of such incidents.

Sure enough, a truck bearing a relief force made its way up the road and promptly hit the mine. The relief men jumped off the truck, and a sharp firefight ensued. The issue was in doubt several times, but the Marines finally gained the upper hand. Once again communist forces broke off the action and faded into the darkness. The enemy did manage to make off with some ammunition boxes, which seemed to be one of their main goals in the raid.

Private Stevens also had his share of adventure. He joined a small mission—only a handful of Marines—to try and rescue some nuns and Chinese orphan children in a remote place called Loh Shan. The mission failed because the nuns refused to leave. But worse was to follow. Stevens and his party were captured by bandits. All were executed, but Stevens was spared apparently because he knew Chinese.

Stevens was promptly turned over to a communist officer from the 8th Route Army. He became a prisoner with a Chinese character tattoo ID inked on his arm. Before long he found himself in a work gang on a coal storage island. The prisoners’ main job was to shovel coal to flat-bottomed boats moored along the shore.

“Mao was preparing for a major naval assault against the Nationalists,” Stevens says today, “and his ships needed coal to run their steam engines.” It was backbreaking work, but luckily he was transferred to help fishermen work their nets. He had to escape, had to get back to his unit. After some careful deliberation, he hatched an acceptable if risky plan. He would skull out in a small boat, pretending to check the nets that were farthest out.

Once in position, he would dive into the water and hopefully get picked up by a passing junk. It all unfolded as planned, except the water proved bitterly cold.  A junk did indeed pick him up, and friendly Chinese crewmen pulled him out of the water half dead with cold. Later, the junk was intercepted by a U.S. destroyer. He was free!

In November 1948, the U.S. embassy issued a statement that declared any American citizen “who does not wish to remain in North China should plan to leave at once by United States Naval vessel at Tientsin.” By the end of the month, consular personnel, the remaining American civilians, and military dependents were being shipped out. The American presence in China, which dated to the first Yankee traders who sailed to Canton in the 1780s, was coming to an abrupt end. There would be no more contact with China until President Richard Nixon’s visit in 1972.

By the spring of 1949, the total withdrawal of American military forces was almost complete. In February of that year, the U.S. Marine Corps Air Facility at Tsingtao was disbanded. All the ground equipment was removed, and the planes of fighter squadron VMF-211 took off for their new home, the escort carrier Rendova. On May 25, 1949, Company C/ 7th Marines, the last remaining American unit on Chinese soil, departed Tsingtao.  It was truly the end of an era.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

“ONE OF THESE DAYS THEY’RE NOT GOING TO FINISH ON TIME.”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jack Burnett – Seattle, WA; US Army, Korea, 1st Calvary Division

Charles Clement – Redmond, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Company B/511/11th Airborne Division

Josephine Hopp – North Olmstead, OH; US Army Air Corps WAC, WWII, Medical Tech.

Louie Jordon – Saratoga Springs, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBee, USS Unimak (seaplane tender)

Paul Kelley – Evansville, IN; US Army, WWII, PTO, TSgt., Signal Corps

Leo Maroney – Kansas City, KS; USMC, WWII, 3/1st Marine Division

Robert Paynter – Mineral Point, WI; US Army, WWII, 139 Engineers/17th Airborne Division

Thomas Peatross – Mechanicville, VA, US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Cpl., 320 Bomb Group

Myron Stone – Orem, UT; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

John Tort Sr. – Newark, NJ; US Merchant Marines, WWII

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