Monthly Archives: September 2019

Nisei – part 3 Nisei ROTC in Hawaii

HI Territorial Guard, UH, 1942

 

On 7 December 1941, the UH ROTC Regiment over 600 strong was called out over the radio to report to duty. We reported to the ROTC Armory, which is that little wooden building now standing at the end of Sinclair Library parking lot. We were greeted by the sight of Sgt. Ward and Sgt. Hogan feverishly inserting firing pins into Springfield .03 rifles. I reported to my unit, Company “B”, 1st Battalion, commanded by Captain Nolle Smith. We were issued a clip of 5 bullets with our rifles.

It was reported that Japanese paratroopers had landed on St. Louis Heights. Our first order was to deploy down across Manoa Stream where Kanewai Park now stands and to prevent the enemy from advancing into the city. We were crouched down among the koa bushes for long hours in the hot sun, waiting for the enemy which never showed up. This turned out to be just another one of the many hysterical rumors that spread across Honolulu that day.

During those few hours of service, we had no military status or standing, federal or territorial. We were just University ROTC boys heeding our country’s desperate call to arms. For our participation in “the campaign for St. Louis Heights,” many years later in 1977, the University ROTC was awarded with a battle streamer distinguishing it as the first and only ROTC unit in the United States to engage in active war service during World War II!

Richard Okamoto at HI firing range, 1943

On the afternoon of December 7, 1941, the University ROTC unit was converted into the Hawaii Territorial Guard and we were trucked down to the National Guard Armory where our State Capitol now stands. We were issued those pie-plate tin helmets and gas masks and immediately assigned to guard Lolani Palace, the Courthouse, Hawaiian Electric, Mutual Telephone, and Board of Water Supply, and all other government buildings and utilities all over the city. Company B was headquartered in the Dole Pineapple building and assigned to guard the Iwilei industrial district and the waterfront and to defend against a Japanese invasion attack. Just imagine the pitiful sight of a greenhorn teenage soldier who never fired a gun crouched behind a sandbagged emplacement at Pier 10 defending against a Japanese invasion of Honolulu Harbor with a measly 30 caliber rifle and five bullets.  Mercifully and thankfully, the enemy never invaded!  But the important thing was that we had responded to the call, we were proud to wear the American uniform, and we were serving our country in its direst hour of need!

We served for six weeks after Pearl Harbor, but by January 19, 1942, the high brass in Pentagon had discovered to its horror that the city of Honolulu was being defended by hundreds of Japs in American uniforms!  It should be mentioned here that over 75% of the HTG guardsmen were men of Japanese ancestry. The order came down that all HTG guardsmen of Japanese ancestry were discharged.   If they had dropped a bomb in our midst. it couldn’t have been more devastating. That blow of being rejected by your own country only because of your name, your face, and your race, was far worse than Pearl Harbor itself. Every Nisei who suffered that indignity will attest to the fact that that rejection was absolutely the lowest point in our long lives!

7 Who Gave Their All

 

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We could do nothing else but return to the University.  But books and classrooms made no sense, when our country was crying for military and defense manpower, and yet we were distrusted, unwanted, useless. But within a week’s time, Hung Wai Ching, who was then Executive Secretary of the Atherton YMCA near the UH campus, met with a group of the discharged Nisei, and soon inspired and convinced them why not offer themselves as a labor battalion.  His key pitch was “So they don’t trust you with a gun. Wouldn’t they trust you with picks and shovels?” By February 25, 1942, a petition signed by 169 University students offering their services as a labor battalion was accepted by the Military Governor.

This group known as the “Varsity Victory Volunteers” was assigned to the 34th Combat Engineers Regiment at Schofield Barracks performing vital defense work on Oahu. For the next 11 months, they dug ammunition pits, built secondary mountain roads, repaired bridges and culverts, built warehouses and field housing. and operated the rock quarry. One day in December, 1942, Secretary of War John McCloy, making a field inspection of Oahu defenses, witnessed the VVV Quarry Gang operating the quarry up at Kolekole Pass, and was told the story of the VVV by his escort, Hung Wai Ching. By some coincidence or otherwise, just a month later in January, 1943, the War Department announced its decision to form an all-Nisei combat team and issued a call for volunteers. On January 30, 1943, members of the VVV voted to disband so they could volunteer for the 442nd Combat Team. Most of the men were accepted and served the duration of the war with the 442nd, and also with the Military Intelligence Service. The rest is well known history.

 

Editors note: The words above were delivered on 3 December 2001, at the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial Visitor’s Center as part of the 60th Anniversary remembrance of the Dec. 7th 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

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Military Humor – 

‘Hey, most climb over, but whatever works for you.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Allen Bradley – Dillon, MT; US Army, WWII & Korea, 82 Airborne Division

Jack Crawford – Phoenix City, AL; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

Grant Ichikawa – Suison Valley, CA; US Army, PTO, MIS’er, Lt.,/ Korea / CIA

Trevor Joseph – Collierville, TN; US Army, Afghanistan, 1/5th Aviation Regiment, “Cajun Dustoff” MEDEVAC, Major, KIA Fort Polk

Shiro Kashino – Seattle, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd Regimental Combat Team

John L. Keenan – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO / NYPD, “Son of Sam” Task Force Cmdr.

Michael Meehan – brn: IRE/Edison, NJ; US Army, Occupation, 25th Infantry Signal Co./11th Airborne Division

Kelly Richards – Grayling, MI; US Army, SSgt., medic, Iraq & Afghanistan, KIA

Ephrain “Hank” Royfe – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO, translator

William Tinker – Caney, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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Nisei – part 2

306th HQ Intelligence Detachment, XXIV Corps, Leyte, Philippines, November 1, 1944. Front row, l to r: George Shimotori, Saburo Okamura, Thomas Sasaki, Francis Yamamoto Herbert Nishihara, Warren Tsuneishi. Back row, l to r: Hiroshi Itow, Joe Nishihara, Lt. Richard Kleeman, TSgt George Takabayashi, Lloyd Shimasato.
(Signal Corps photo)

When the first graduates were sent to the Pacific and landed in Australia, they were part of the Americal troops. Many were sent to help with the fighting on Iwo Jima, which MacArthur felt was taking far too long to complete. Some stayed and worked with the Australian troops and others went to British or Canadian units. (Canada also had their own S-20 Japanese Language School in Vancouver, British Columbia to train interpreters.) Only the U.S. Navy rejected the linguists. Admiral Halsey did in fact understand their importance and requested some MIS’ers for his fleet, but as a whole, Nimitz and the rest of the navy wanted to continue using their own intelligence personnel. (A very serious mistake in Leyte Gulf.)

It was difficult to locate the Nisei that worked G-2 specifically for the 11th Airborne and when because the men were rarely ever put on the official rosters. A MISer could train with the 11th Airborne on New Guinea and by December he was in Burma or up in the Aleutians. They were as difficult to track as the 11th A/B themselves. One Nisei found himself stuck at the Panama Canal, not at all certain what he was supposed to do there.

Nisei at work in Manila, P.I.

But, I did manage to locate a fair number of fellow paratroopers from Smitty’s division: Clarence Ohta and John Nakahara jumped with the 11th on Luzon. George Kojima, Koshi Ando and James Harada were with the 503d Regiment. Harry Akune jumped on Corregidor without any training, injured his ankle and went to work translating immediately. He was later at Atsugi airfield with MacArthur. After the service he went back to college. There was also: Robert Kimura and Mitsuo Usui; Takeshi “Jim” Fujisaka (lived in Fresno, CA and passed away 7 Sept. 1996); Tetsuo Koga; Norman Kihuta (with the 511th G-2 was discharged 6 Jan. 1946); Mike Miyatake went back to his customs job after his discharge; Akira Abe took his parachute training, flew to New Guinea and continued with the 11th A/B throughout Leyte and Luzon. Jiro Tukimura and Eddie Tamada were also noted in the records.

Nisei, saving lives by flushing out the caves.

In February of 1943, the Taiyo Maru, a Japanese transport ship, was sunk and a lifeboat washed up on Goodenough Island, north of New Guinea;s eastern tip. On that boat was a document that included a list of 40,000 Imperial Army officers from Hideki Tojo on down. These papers, once translated, gave the rank of each officer, unit assigned, the order of battle and the amount of men in each of these units. This information along with documents previously acquired and translated established the exact location of all Japanese units. This work alone was worth the time and effort of forming the MIS.

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SHOUT OUT !!!

James South, 99 year old veteran, is about to turn 100 on 7 October.  He has asked for one thing for this occasion — to receive 100 birthday cards!!  Help him have his wish come true……

James South, 5800 North Park Drive, Watauga, TX  76148

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Military Humor – 

“Thank you, sir — all we needed was somebody blowin’ his horn.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Alvie Boles (100) – Rosedale, OK; US Army, WWII. Purple Heart

William Davis – Topeka, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-51

Dorothy Doerr – St Clair, MO; Civilian, “Rosie” at Curtiss Wright Aircraft, WWII

Robert Engel – E. Greenbush, NY; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Harold Hayward (101) – Lower Hutt, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 74142, WWII, Wing Commander

Herschel Mattes – Pittsburgh, PA/Avon, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, pilot, 1st Lt., 525 FS/86th Fighter Group, KIA

W. Ray Painter (100) – Augusta, GA; US Army, WWII

John Runkle Jr. – Washington D.C.; US Navy, WWII, APO / Korea

Henry C. Smith – Manistee, MI; US Army, WWII, CBI; Sgt., Merrill’s Marauders, Silver Star

Maurice ‘Migs’ Turner – Winnipeg, CAN;  RCNVR, WWII, Sub-Lt., HMCS Guelph / NATO / RC Coast Guard

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Nisei – part 1

Nisei soldiers

Smitty held the Nisei in very high regard and I would be remiss in neglecting to tell their story. Beside, one of these men might have been directly responsible for the safe return of my father. In reality, it would be near impossible to relate a story of the Pacific War without mentioning their service. Some of this unique intelligence force worked ‘behind the scene’ stateside U.S.A. or Australia, but many were up front and fighting at and behind enemy lines.

Smitty always had extreme appreciation for the courage, resilience and down-right crazy stunts they pulled off. They were capable of going behind the lines to acquire information or cut into the radio lines and all the while they remained quite aware that their own units might mistake them for the enemy when they returned. This did happen more than once.

Most everyone is aware of whom the Nisei are, but for clarification purposes, here are some of the terms that might be used in this section or if you continue with your own research:

AJA – Americans of Japanese Ancestry
MISers – the name used for students and graduates of the Military Intelligence Service Language School
Issei – first generation Japanese-American
Nisei – second generation Japanese-American, (this term is for definition only – Nisei prefer to state that they are American)
Kibei – Japanese-American who received education in Japan

At the language school, the students were crammed with courses and put on a strict schedule. Some courses included:

Kanji – a Japanese method of writing based on Chinese logographic characters
Kaisho – the printed form of Kanji and can only be read by someone who has memorized a great number of ideographs
Gyosho – hand written Japanese, very similar to the Palmer Method of Penmanship and is very difficult for Americans
Sosho – the shorthand version of Kanji and almost impossible for an American to learn. Most Japanese field orders were taken down by this method.

Kai Rasmussen (center)

It must be noted that many of these men had family incarcerated in detainment camps and serving in the Imperial Army & Navy, but in school, on the job and in combat they loyally worked to do their level best. The language school began 1 November 1941 at Crissy Field, with Lt. Colonel John Wickerling in charge. His right hand man, educator and recruiter, Kai Rasmussen, was a primary force in the success of the school. He was a West Point grad who spoke Japanese with a Danish accent and would eventually earn the Legion of Merit for his efforts.

 

 

A move was necessary from San Francisco to Camp Savage, Minnesota. The change in location was largely due to the bigotry that had overwhelmed California at the time. The most influential white supremacists included: Earl Warren; The Natives Sons and Daughters of the Golden West; William Randolph Hearst and his newspapers and Congressman Leland Ford. Eventually, the school needed to expand and moved to Fort Snelling, St. Paul.

Rasmussen’s right hand man was John Fujio Aiso, an attorney out of Brown and Harvard and had studied at Chuo University in Tokyo. (He was originally assigned to a motor pool because the Army felt they had no need for additional lawyers.) Rasmussen traveled across the country in attempts to find candidates for the school. The Pentagon had kept the paperwork for the operations of the Nisei secret for three decades, but Smitty began talking about them once I was old enough to ask questions.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

“AIM FOR THE CAT!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Malcolm Armstrong – Ardmore, OK; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

John Bagwell – Arab, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

Milo Durant – Manawatu, NZ; NZEF #453408, WWII, Pvte.

Virginia Fallon – New Haven, CT; Civilian, WWII, Winchester Repeating Arms, ammo inspector

Raymond Goulet – New Bedford, MA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 85th Infantry Division

Ralph Hatcher – Indianapolis, IN; US Army, Vietnam,101st Airborne Division, medic

T. Chester McKeon – Prairie Grove, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-25 crew chief, MSgt.

Harvey Nichols – Braxton, MS; US Army, WWII, PTO, POW, KIA

Charles Peck – Hansville, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, gunner

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The Survivors: Imperial Japanese Navy Kawanishi N1K Kyōfū Floatplane Fighter

An excellent post about the Japanese aircraft of WWII from an exceptional researcher!!

Aces Flying High

Designed during World War Two to provide air cover for Imperial Japanese forces deployed for amphibious beach landings in advanced locations that lacked prepared airstrips or aircraft carriers, the Kawanishi N1K Kyōfū (“Strong Wind” or “Mighty Wind” depending on the translation, Allied reporting code name “Rex”) floatplane fighter must have seemed a great idea to the Imperial Japanese Navy when work began on it in September 1940 (the first prototype took flight on May 6th, 1942). The rugged fighter was able to take off from the water around islands, was fitted with a powerful engine and we’ll armed to take on Allied fighters but by the time it became operational in July 1943, the tide of war had turned.

Kawanishi N1K1 Kyōfū ( Kawanishi N1K1 Kyōfū (“Strong Wind”, Allied Code Name: Rex) floatplane fighter of the Imperial Japanese Navy

By 1943 Japan was on the defensive and in gradual retreat. The Kawanishi N1K 

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Higgins Boats

Higgins boat

President Eisenhower said: “If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVPs (Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel), we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would have been different.” And as Colonel Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Ret) said, “The Higgins boats broke the gridlock on the ship-to-shore movement.  It is impossible to overstate the tactical advantages this craft gave U.S. amphibious commanders in World War II.”

Clearly, the half-wood half-steel “smallboat” meant a lot to the War. These assault or LCVP boats would land troops and material on invasion beachheads. Their designer, Andrew Higgins, was positive there would be a need among the U.S. Navy for thousands of small boats—and was also sure that steel would be in short supply. In an common moment of eccentricity, Higgins bought the entire 1939 crop of mahogany from the Philippines and stored it on his own.

Higgins boat diagram

Higgins’ expectations were right, and as the war progressed he applied for a position in Naval design. Insisting that the Navy “doesn’t know one damn thing about small boats,” Higgins struggled for years to convince them of the need for small wooden boats. Finally he signed the contract to develop his LCVP.

Employing more than 30,000 for an integrated workforce in New Orleans. Higgins employed blacks and women among them, which was uncommon practice at the time. This force eagerly began mass-producing the “Higgins boats,” which were 36’3” in length and had a beam of 10’10”. Their displacement when unloaded was 18,000 lbs., and they could maintain a speed of 9 knots. They were defended by 2 .30 caliber machine guns, and could carry 36 combat-equipped infantrymen or 8,000 pounds of cargo. For a detailed picture of a Higgins boat’s anatomy, see the image below. Along with the help of other American factories, Higgins produced 23,398 LCVPs during the War.

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In the United States,  Andrew Higgins evaluated the Fox boat and felt it was too weak to survive mishap in emergency operations. In November 1943, Higgins assigned engineers from his company to make a sturdier version with two engines.  Higgins Industries, known for making landing craft (LCVPs)  and PT boats,  produced the A-1 lifeboat, a 1½-ton (1400 kg), 27-foot (8 m) airborne lifeboat with waterproof internal compartments so that it would not sink if swamped or overturned. Intended to be dropped by modified Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress it was ready for production in early 1944.

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Military History – Navy Style – 

The Navy’s version of Sad Sack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Adams – Rockingham, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/675 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Howard Blanchard – DE; US Navy, WWII, destroyer escort / Korea

William Cason Sr. – Charlotsville, VA; US Merchant Marines

Steven Donofrio – Middlebury, CT; US Navy, WWII

Barbara Bower Johnson – Pleasant Hills, PA; US Navy WAVE, WWII, telegrapher

Albert Moon – Jacksonville, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Hamlin

Robert Oelwang – Hornell, NY; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 1st Class

William Robertson – MI; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO

John Sutton – Pittsburgh, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Signalman

Richard Wynn – New Britain, CT; US Navy, WWII

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U.S. Air Force 72nd Birthday

The official birthday for the US Air Force is 18 September 1947 as enacted under the National Security Act of 1947.

 

 

 

HIGH FLIGHT

by: John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

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.

Hovering there,

I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flug

My eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long, delicious burning blue

I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace

Where never lark, or even eagle flew.

And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untresspassed sanctity of space,

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

 

 

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Military Humor – Air Force Style – 

They won’t be singing “Love Shack”!

Maybe “What ya gonna do, send me to McMurdo?” wasn’t the best comeback to the Colonel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Akika A. Abe – Oakland, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, G-2, 11th Airborne Division

Charles Brannan (103) – Meade, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 pilot / Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Col. (Ret. 31 y.)

Michael Dux – Denver, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-25 flight engineer / State Dept.

‘Last Flight’, by Rhads

Jeremy Griffin – Cristobal, PAN; US Army, Afghanistan, 3/1st Special Forces Group, KIA

Carl Kalwaitis – Elkton, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Robert McClelland – Gilmer, TX; US Air Force, surgeon

Auburn Smith – Picayune, MS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, paratrooper

Robert Werschey – Licoln, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Charles Whisenant – Washington D.C.; US Navy, WWII, aircraft mechanic

John Yaeger (100) – White Sulphur Springs, WV; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Captain

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Andrew Jackson Higgins – A Legacy

Andrew Jackson Higgins

Andrew Jackson Higgins, the man Dwight D. Eisenhower once credited with winning World War II, was a wild and wily genius.

At the New Orleans plant where his company built the boats that brought troops ashore at Normandy on June 6, 1944, Higgins hung a sign that said, “Anybody caught stealing tools out of this yard won’t get fired — he’ll go to the hospital.”

Whatever Higgins did, he did it a lot. “His profanity,” Life magazine said, was “famous for its opulence and volume.” So was his thirst for Old Taylor bourbon, though he curtailed his intake by limiting his sips to a specific location.

I only drink,” he told Life magazine, “while I’m working.”

It is Higgins himself who takes your breath away,” Raymond Moley, a former FDR adviser,  wrote in Newsweek in 1943. “Higgins is an authentic master builder, with the kind of will power, brains, drive and daring that characterized the American empire builders of an earlier generation.”

USNS Andrew J. Higgins, Sept. 1987

Higgins was not native to the South, despite his love of bourbon. He grew up in Nebraska, where, at various ages, he was expelled from school for fighting. Higgins’ temperament improved around boats. He built his first vessel in the basement when he was 12. It was so large that a wall had to be torn down to get it out.

He moved South in his early 20s, working in the lumber industry. He hadn’t thought much about boats again until a tract of timber in shallow waters required him to build a special vessel so he could remove the wood. Higgins signed up for a correspondence course in naval architecture, shifting his work from timber to boats.

In the late 1930s, he owned a small shipyard in New Orleans. By then, his special shallow-craft boat had become popular with loggers and oil drillers. They were “tunnel stern boats,” whose magic was in the way the “hull incorporated a recessed tunnel used to protect the propeller from grounding,” according to the Louisiana Historical Association.

Higgins ‘Eureka’ boat

Higgins called it the “Eureka” boat. The war brought interest by U.S. forces in a similar style vessel to attack unguarded beaches and avoid coming ashore at heavily defended ports. The Marines settled on the Higgins boat, transforming what had been a 50-employee company into one of the world’s largest manufacturers.

“To put Higgins’s accomplishment in perspective,” historian Douglas Brinkley wrote in a 2000 article in American Heritage magazine, consider this: “By September 1943, 12,964 of the American Navy’s 14,072 vessels had been designed by Higgins Industries. Put another way, 92 percent of the U.S. Navy was a Higgins navy.”

Though Eisenhower and even Hitler acknowledged the importance of the Higgins boat — military leaders came to call it “the bridge to the beach” — its builder went mostly unmentioned in histories of the war. That is, until 17 years ago, when the World War II Museum opened in New Orleans and recognized Higgins’ life, displaying a reproduction of his boat.

Still, there’s been just one biography written: “Andrew Jackson Higgins and the Boats that Won World War II” by historian Jerry Strahan.

“Without Higgins’s uniquely designed craft, there could not have been a mass landing of troops and matériel on European shores or the beaches of the Pacific islands, at least not without a tremendously higher rate of Allied casualties,” Strahan wrote.

Higgins Hotel, New Orleans

The WWII Museum in New Orleans officially broke ground on the Higgins Hotel directly across the street from the museum in 2017.

The one man in the South I want especially to see is Andrew Jackson Higgins.  I want to tell him, face to face, that Higgins’ landing boats such as we had at Guadalcanal are the best in the world.  They do everything but talk; honest they do.”  ___ Warrant Officer Machinist, James D. Fox, quoted in the Shreveport Times, 6 March 1943

AJ Higgins held 30 patents, mostly covering amphibious landing craft and vehicles.

Higgins died in New Orleans on 1 August 1952, and was buried in Metairie Cemetery.  He had been hospitalized for a week to treat stomach ulcers when he suffered a fatal stroke.

Article resources: The World War II Museum in New Orleans (2018 Annual Report), The Marine Corps & the Washington Post.

There will be more information on the boats in the upcoming post.

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Military Humor – Navy Style ……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Bill Balser – Anderson, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Thomas Carney – Naples, FL; US Army, Vietnam, 173rd A/B Brigade / Cmdr. of 5th Infantry Div., Lt. Gen. (Ret. 35 y.)

Donald Davis – Orangeville, PA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Bill Hardin – Wheat Ridge, CO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, 72nd Sea Bees

John Johnson – Sanford, NC; US Army, WWII, 9th Infantry Medical Detachment, medic

Garry Massa – Pickney, MI; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division

Roger Patrick – Tabor, IA; US Army, WWII, Sgt.

Paul “Ken” Rash – Indianapolis, IN; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Roy Schwabe (100) – Park Ridge, IL; US Army, WWII

Carl Wheaton – Bar Harbor, ME; USMC, WWII, PTO, Lt. Colonel, pilot

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The Burma Jeep

 

Ford GTP, Burma Jeep

1943 Ford GTBA G622

The Ford GTB, called the “Burma Jeep”, was produced during WWII and was used primarily by the US Navy and Marine Corps and used exclusively in the Pacific Theater during World War II, many used on the “Burma Road”.  Its Ordinance Standard nomenclature number was G-622. Ford produced the low silhouette, short and maneuverable GTB in five models collectively called the G-622.

Total production of the 1-½ ton models was over 15,000 units, including these variants:

  • GTB truck, Cargo
  • GTBA truck, (US Navy)
  • GTBB truck, Wrecker, (Rare, only 50 produced)
  • GTBS truck, Bomb Service with crane (US Navy)
  • GTBC truck, Bomb Service with crane (USN, improved)

The Burma Jeeps were powered by a Ford 6-cylinder flathead gasoline engine producing 90 horsepower. They were 1-½ ton capacity, 4-wheel drive with a 4-speed transmission and a 2-speed transfer case. The Burma Jeep on display at Estrella WarBirds Museum has dual real wheels, 4-wheel drive, and a 10,000 lb Braden MU-6 winch.

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Ford records indicate the paint color specified by the US Navy was “Ocean Gray” for all Navy contracts. The G-622 GTB vehicles were produced with and without a 10,000 lb. Gar Wood or Braden front mounted winch. All models except the GTBS had dual rear wheels. The cowl covering the engine separated the cab area, and the passenger seat was a light metal frame, which faced the driver, and could be enclosed by raising the windshield and installing a canvas top. The cargo truck had troop seats and bows for a canvas cover.

This truck (GTBA model) was probably built in July 1943 at the Edgewater, NJ Ford Plant.  After the war, it was purchased by the MacGillivry Ranch from the US Navy at Pt. Magu, and used as a ranch truck.  In 1998 it was donated to the Estrella Warbird Museum, and in 2008-2009, it was restored with funds provided by the McGillivry Family.  Restoration included complete brake overhaul, new passenger seat, upholstery, tires , and a complete paint job.

Pictures are courtesy of Mecum Auctions & Estrella Warbirds Museum.

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Military Humor –

When you’re in a jeep and they’re in an armored vehicle with a gigantic robotic arm – you just may want to keep your mouth SHUT!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

George Andrews – Norwich, CT; US Army, WWII, PTO, Graves Registration Unit

Daniel Benarcik Sr. – Wilmington, DE; US Army, WWII

Harold Costill – Clayton, NJ; US Navy, Pearl Harbor, fireman 3rd Class, USS West Virginia, KIA

Franklin Galloway – Rosman, NC; US Army, Korea, Co. E/187th RCT

John Kennedy – Lake Bluff, IL; US Army, WWII, Sgt.

Ernest Malone – Gloucester, LA; US Army, 101st Airborne Division, MSgt. (Ret. 25 y.)

Jack Reynolds – Chichester, ENG; Royal Army, WWII, ETO, Lt., 1st Airborne Division, POW

Jack Smith – Albuquerque, NM; US Navy, WWII, PTO, oil tanker navigator

Donald Steimel – Des Moines, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO,troop carrier, USS Scout

Martin Vespo Sr. (100) – Peekskill, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Carondelet

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The Weasel

The idea for the Weasel came from the British Inventor Geoffrey Pyke, a man famed for his unorthodox methods. His most famous invention was Pykrete, a material that would’ve been used for the Habbakuk iceberg aircraft carrier. Pyke had long planned for Commando assaults on German power plants and industrial areas in Norway and also planned actions to interrupt the Nazi atomic weapons program in Operation Plough. Operation Plough is very much the origin of the Weasel. Pike called for a small, lightweight and fast vehicle, able to transport small teams of men across deep snow to take them deep into enemy territory.

The United States used the vehicle extensively during World War Two.  It was used in Italy, the Western Front, and even in the Pacific. It saw action during the Normandy landings, St. Lo, and the Battle of the Bulge.  It proved its usefulness at the engagements on the Ruhr and Rhine, where it was able to cross the thick, sticky river mud.  In the Pacific, it was used by the United States Marine Corps (USMC) at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, where it proved capable of crossing loose sand, and the harsh tropical island terrain where the Marine Corps’ jeeps wouldn’t dare venture.

Weasel

The use of the M29 Weasel as a universal vehicle soon became clear to the Americans. They used it regularly as a light troop carrier and cargo hauler, and also as a mobile command center, ambulance, and to lay telegraph wires. One of its major attributes was its ability to cross minefields, as its low-ground pressure was often not enough to trigger the anti-tank mines. The ground pressure was still more than enough to trigger anti personnel mines which could easily split a rubber track.

Weasel

The M29 was operated by one driver and could carry three passengers. The driver was positioned in the front left with the engine compartment to his right and a row of three seats in the rear for the passengers. Though officially an unarmed vehicle, Browning M1919 .30 cal or .50 cal M2HB Machine Guns were often mounted for some form of offensive/defensive capability.

Weasel

The M29C was the main variant of the Weasel. The M29 was already partly amphibious, able to traverse shallow and calm waters such as rivers and streams, but could not operate in rough, sea like waters. The M29C amended this issue, with the addition of buoyancy aids in the rear of the hull as well as two rudders. Removable pontoons were also added to the front and rear and changes were made to the treads of the track links to allow it to propel itself in water, although it was very slow. This still didn’t make the M29 capable of seaborne amphibious landings, but allowed to be more stable in deeper or slightly inland waters.including Sweden, France and Norway. Many Weasels served in scientific Arctic explorations.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Elton Allen – Lubbock, TX; US Army, Vietnam, (Ret. 30 y.)

Carl Baumgaertner – St. Paul, MN; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star, Silver Star

Edward Demyanovich – Bethlehem, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 82nd Airborne Division

Warren Johnson – Glass Lake, NY; US Army, Korea, 101st Airborne Division

Nick Krysko – Toronto, CAN; RC Armed Forces, WWII

Norbert Mersman – Mesa, AZ; US Army, WWII & Korea

Melvin Smith – Sebring, FL; US Army, Korea, Co. E/187th RCT

Anna Snyder – Biloxi, MS; US Army Air Corps WAF, WWII

Estelle Valentine – San Diego, CA; Civilian, Goodyear, WWII / OSS, ETO

John Williamson – Anderson, IN; US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, MSgt (Ret. 24 y.), flight engineer

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Current News – USS ARIZONA MEMORIAL is OPEN

USS Arizona Memorial, Pear Harbor, Hawaii

HONOLULU (Tribune News Service) — With the American flag billowing in the wind and “The Star-Spangled Banner” playing on the loudspeakers from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, the first boatload of tourists and residents in nearly 16 months stepped onto the USS Arizona Memorial on Sunday morning.  (1 Sept.)

The 145 visitors on the Navy boat disembarked to spend a few solemn minutes within the white walls of the shrine at the same time, 8:10 a.m., that the Arizona was hit Dec. 7, 1941, also a Sunday, by an armor-piercing bomb that sank the ship and killed 1,177 men. The battleship suffered the greatest loss of life of all the ships and planes attacked that day. Among the dead were a father and son named Free and 23 sets of brothers.

“It was just terribly moving to be over there today,” said Minneapolis resident Patty Drake, 63, who was in Hawaii with her husband, Bob. “All the death and the pain.”

She saw the oil seeping from the sunken ship that she recalled seeing the last time she visited the memorial while living in Hawaii more than 50 years ago.

USS Arizona

“It was powerful,” Bob Drake said.  The oil the Drakes witnessed leaks from the million gallons of bunker fuel oil that was aboard the ship when it sank and is known as the “black tears of the Arizona.”

Visitors now can walk on the memorial and see the oil and the names of the dead etched into the marble wall as they reflect on the sacrifice of those who died in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which brought the U.S. into World War II.

The memorial was closed in May 2018 after park staff found major damage to the anchoring system for the boat dock at the memorial. The damage — possibly caused by king tides in 2017 that raised the concrete blocks out of the ground — allowed too much movement of the dock and created a risk that the bridge to the memorial could collapse.

Jay Blount, Pearl Harbor National Memorial’s chief of interpretation said, “The new anchoring system uses giant screws, some longer than 100 feet, that have been driven into the seafloor. Twelve anchors were installed and then were attached to the dock using synthetic rope as part of the $2.1 million repair.

USS Arizona Memorial, JESSICA O. BLACKWELL/U.S. NAVY

Steve Mietz, acting supervisor of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, said reopening the Arizona Memorial was the top priority of the National Parks Serv­ice.

“Reconnecting the American public to the USS Arizona Memorial is very meaningful to me,” Mietz said. “People need to be there at that shrine to pay their respects to those fallen heroes. It’s such a moving sight.”

Mietz said the repair project involved working with several partners, including the nonprofit Pacific Historic Parks and the Navy, which had the equipment to support the parks department and helped compete the project faster and at a lower cost.

Blount said the memorial, which opened on Memorial Day 1962, stands as the symbol of American sacrifice in the Pacific theater during WWII.

For history buff Camden Koukol, 13, of Dayton, Ohio, visiting the sunken battleship was a key reason for coming to Hawaii, said his mother, Dominique Koukol.

In Ohio, Dominique Koukol had heard the memorial might be reopening soon, and because her husband was going to be in Hawaii for business, the couple decided it would be a chance for them to travel to the islands affordably as a family, with the hope that the battleship would reopen in time for their son to visit.

Camden, who learns about military ships and planes while building models for national contests, visited the memorial Saturday with his parents to scope out the park and returned about 5:30 a.m. Sunday to get in line for the first boat. They were the second group in line.

Camden said he wanted to visit the sunken battleship because it was an impressive ship when it was built, and he wanted to “see what it was like after the attack.”

Brian Catron of Pearl City seized upon the idea of visiting the memorial after hearing it had reopened on the 6 o’clock news Sunday morning. He woke his two daughters and brought them and his wife down by about 6:30 a.m. It was a way to spend the day with family for free and finally gave his daughter, Kahea­lani, 10, a chance to visit the memorial, he said.

Crew of the USS Arizona

©2019 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser

 

e-Quips would like anyone interested, to write a letter to one or all four of the remaining USS Arizona survivors. CLICK HERE!!

 

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Military Humor – 

Beetle Bailey

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Farewell Salutes –

Henry Allen – Dayton, KY; US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret. 23 y.), Bronze Star

Thomas Burton – Middleburgh, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co./511/11th Airborne Division

Frank Checchi – Hooversville, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Oliver Mitchell

Arizona Memorial

Fred Gans Jr. – Daytona, FL; US Navy, WWII & Vietnam, Lt. Commander (Ret.)

“Goodie” Lorentzen – Anacortes, WA; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Harold Lowry – Mollala, OR; USMC, WWII, PTO, PFC, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Gisela Murray – Milwaukee, WI; Civilian, 128th Airborne, logistics assistant

Jerry Pierce – Turlock, CA; US Navy, WWII, minesweeper USS Scout

Thomas Rostek – East Windsor, CT; US Navy, WWII, USS Yosemite

Roger Schlaak – Michigan City, IN; US Navy, WWII

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