Monthly Archives: March 2020

SOE / SIS Cooperation

secret-intelligence-service-sis-mi6-vector-logo

An interesting look back into the British operations in the CBI Theater during the Pacific War.

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The Special Operations Executive in Burma 1941-1945

secret-intelligence-service-sis-mi6-vector-logoMuch has often made of the fractious relationship between the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS,) and the Special Operations Executive (SOE).  The words used to sum up the problem between the two organisations is often something along the lines of SIS needed peace and quiet to collect intelligence, while SOE was hell bent on making loud bangs and disturbing the wasp’s nest.  In the Far East, SIS used the cover name of the Inter-Services Liaison Department (ISLD), a name which hints at working with other British units, but by the later years of the war, in Burma at least, the archives suggest a much more cooperative arrangement than mere liaison.

The relationship between SIS and SOE in Burma was not always smooth, like any relationship, but the two secret services were forced together for pragmatic reasons.  Probably the main reason for this is the lack of resources sent East due to…

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Ceylon and the SOE

SOE resistance museum

The Special Operations Executive (SOE) resulted from bringing together the UK’s three secret services for the duration of the War in order to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance. Ceylon was initially a base for SOE personnel operating in South East Asia with headquarters in Kandy and a training facility at the Mount Lavinia Hotel. Operatives were inserted into Japanese occupied South East Asia via submarine.

When SEAC moved from Delhi to Kandy so did SOE Force 136 under Head of Mission Colin Mackenzie CMG. According to Ashley Jackson, writing in The British Empire and the Second World War, “Ceylon had been transformed strategically from a relative backwater, a mere operations sub-branch of the India Mission, into Force 136’s main base.”

Capt Freddie Chapman had trained Australian and New Zealand troops in guerrilla warfare at the Special Training School 101 in Singapore. They would remain in Malaya during Japanese occupation to harass the enemy as part of Force 136. Capt Chapman had already forged an alliance with the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) composed of anti-Japanese Chinese. They were armed by the British and instructed to take to the jungles in order to continue the war against the Japanese. The MCP led by the legendry Chin Peng was highly disciplined and were fed, supported and given shelter by local Chinese.

SOE Ceylon/Malaya

In early 1945 Capt Chapman was brought out to Kandy to arrange for weapons and equipment for his guerrilla fighters about half being Britons who had worked or lived in Malaya before the war, the rest Chinese. “Air supplies from Ceylon supported the 3,500 Malayans trained to harass the Japanese when the British mounted their amphibious assault late in the war. Liberators of No. 357 Squadron from Minneriya in Ceylon, for example, flew 249 sorties in June and July 1945 in support of forces in Malaya,” explains Prof Jackson.

In late 1944 Gen Roger Blaizot commander of the Forces Francaises Extrême Orient (the Far East French Expeditionary Forces) arrived in Ceylon along with French troops to establish a Free French Military Mission to the Far East. Gen Blaizot and his troops were inserted into French Indochina where they operated till the end of the War. According to Jackson “Ceylon also became an important (signals) intelligence-gathering outpost of Bletchley Park (the future Government Communications Headquarters [GCHQ]) and a regional headquarters for Special Operations Executive.”

In Operation Bunkum launched from Ceylon, agents were ferried by submarine to the Andaman Islands to report back on Japanese forces, a clandestine mission which they carried out successfully maintaining radio contact with Calcutta. In another operation, a group of Thais living in the UK volunteered for a mission for which they boarded the submarine HMS Tactician to be dropped off on the Thai coast. Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) also trained Thai agents at SEAC who were ferried by HMS Tactician to carry out assaults in Phuket and Penang.

In collaboration with the Dutch and operating out of bases in Ceylon, RAF Liberators parachuted agents into Sumatra. And the US Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency) also operated out of Ceylon with headquarters in Kandy, training camps in Galle and Trincomalee and a supply depot in Colombo. “RAF Special Duties squadrons, usually flying long-range Liberators, were used to parachute agents and supplies into occupied territory, and most sorties were flown from Ceylon bases,” writes Jackson.

SOE Force 136

While combat experience in Ceylon was limited, the CDF benefited from training with British and Allied units rotated through Sri Lanka, especially for jungle warfare in South East Asia. Individual officers and soldiers of the CDF also had combat experience in other theaters.

In addition to service in the Cocos Islands, members of the CDF also volunteered for active duty in Burma. Writing in his Sunday Times article Forgotten campaign, forgotten veterans Sergei De Silva Ranasinghe says Brian Kirkenbeek was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant with the 2nd Battalion CLI in 1942. In January 1944 he was posted to D Company 4/5th Gurkha Rifles at Arakan where he saw action. On his return to Ceylon he was promoted and rejoined the CLI at China Bay. Ranasinghe goes on to say that some volunteered for service in Europe and experienced combat in that theater.

Three new units of the CDF were raised during the War, the Ceylon Signal Corp and the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1943, and the Royal Military Police (Ceylon) in 1944. At the end of the war the CDF which comprised 645 officers and 14,247 other ranks was demobilized. Col R.J.F. Mendis OBE ED was appointed Commander of the CDF in April 1946 and Lt Col Anton M. Muttukumaru became commander of the CLI which reverted to its peacetime strength.

The British noted that the Ceylonese Board of Ministers did everything within their power to maximize the island’s contribution to the war effort. They channeled personnel and material resources in support of the war effort.

SOE equipment

The only exception being the Lanka Sama Samaja Party which opposed the War and whose leaders were incarcerated or went underground for the duration of the War. However the civilian ministers wholeheartedly supported the war effort and there was total cooperation from the Island’s political, civil and military leadership.

In 1948 this political relationship resulted in Ceylon acquiring Dominion Status within months of India. Prof Ashley Jackson in The British Empire and the Second World War concludes that “this was a result of pressure from senior British military and civilian officials in Ceylon in favor of a significant advance towards full self-government.”

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British Military Humor – 

MI5 playing ‘I spy…’

“Keep your voice down there’s a tap on the phone”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Keigan Baker – Panama City, FL; US Air Force, Airman 1st Class, 24th Special Operations Wing, KIA

Michael Canonico – Chester, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/188/11th Airborne Division

Fletcher Derrick – Mt. Pleasant, SC; US Army, Medical Corps, 8th Artillery Div., surgeon / Army Intelligence, Order of the Palmetto (Ret.)

Fred Goodson – Gastonia, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 508/82nd A/B Division / USAR, Colonel (Ret. 39 y.)

Nancy Hookham – Eastbourne, ENG; British Navy WREN; WWII, Bletchley Park

Jesse Irvin (99) – Coushatta, LA; US Army, WWII

Harold Little – Watertown, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Elsie McCurry – Texarkana, AR; Civilian, aircraft manufacture and repair

Carolyn J. Protzmann – Franklin, NH; US Air Force / US National Guard, BGeneral (Ret.)

Clarence Rutherford – Augusta, KS; US Army Air Corps, CBI, WWII

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Clemson U. honors Ben Skardon (102)

‘Ben’ Skardon

Clemson University will award its highest honor, the Clemson Medallion, to two distinguished alumni — Professor Emeritus Beverly “Ben” Skardon and Trustee Emeritus Allen Price Wood. Skardon and Wood will be honored at a presentation ceremony in February 2020. Skardon, who lives in Clemson, is a native of Walterboro. His brother, Jimmy Skardon, still lives here.

Clemson University President James P. Clements said he is proud that the university is honoring Skardon and Wood for their leadership and contributions to the university. “Both of these men have helped shaped the university in important ways,” said Clements. “Col. Skardon made a lasting impact by teaching countless students during his career on the faculty, and students are being educated every day in buildings that Allen Wood designed. It is safe to say that our university would not be what it is today without these two outstanding leaders.”

Ben Skardon in Army dress greens, formal photo in 1938 Clemson University TAPS yearbook.

Skardon, 102, is a 1938 Clemson graduate and veteran of the U.S. Army. He fought in the Philippines in World War II, earning two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for valor before becoming a prisoner of war when American troops were forced to surrender to the Japanese April 9, 1942. Skardon lived through one of the most infamous ordeals of World War II, the Bataan Death March, and survived for more than three years in Japanese prison camps despite becoming deathly ill.

Two fellow Clemson alumni, Henry Leitner and Otis Morgan, kept him alive by spoon-feeding him and eventually trading his gold Clemson ring — which he had managed to keep hidden — for food. It is a story now told at every Clemson ring ceremony, when Clemson seniors receive their class rings. Leitner and Morgan did not survive the war. Skardon honors them every year by walking in the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Ben Skardon, at 99, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, walks in the annual Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, accompanied by two Army medics, March 19, 2017. This was the tenth time Skardon walked in the march, and he is the only survivor of the real Bataan Death March who walks in the memorial march. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Ken Scar)

He is the only survivor of the real march who walks in the memorial march. Last year, at 101, he walked more than three miles through the desert to honor his friends. Skardon went on to serve in Korea in 1951-52 and retired from the Army at the rank of colonel in 1962. He joined the Clemson faculty in the department of English in 1964 and was named Alumni Master Teacher in 1977. He taught at Clemson until his retirement in 1983.

Skardon has received several honors from the university, including the Alumni Distinguished Service Award. In 2013 the university established the Skardon Clemson Ring Endowment, which helps fund the ring ceremony, and in 2016 the Memorial Stadium flagpole was dedicated in his honor.

On Skardon’s 100th birthday on August 11, 2017, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster presented him with the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest honor. In March 2018 Skardon received the Congressional Gold Medal honoring Filipino and American Veterans of World War II, which is one of the highest civilian awards in the United States.

 

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Blythe – Long Beach, CA; US Navy, WWII, ETO, minesweeper / PTO, USS Ticonderoga

Bruce Brigham – Fort Knox, KY; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Colonel, Quartermaster Corps

Alive Ferguson (99) – Williamsburg, VA; US Navy WAVES, nurse

Ruth (Baker) Gilbert – White Plains, NY; Civilian, aircraft riveter

Lyle Norquist – Thief River Falls, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Monroe Ozment – Rome, GA; USMC, PTO, Purple Heart

Nathan Rawson – Thompson, VA; US Army, WWII

Fred Reed – Gardendal, AL; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

Mary White – Perryville, MD; Civilian nurse’s aide

Al Worden – Jackson, MI; US Air Force / NASA astronaut, West Point Alum 1955

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U.S. to compensate Guam for the Japanese Occupation

Japanese POWs play baseball in their compound, Guam 1945

Guam the small island with a big history.

The history of the twentieth century is littered with the dead. There were men and women transported to the Nazi death camps, others that suffered and died in Cambodian killing fields, yet more killed in Rwanda for being from the wrong tribe.

But behind all the attention-grabbing headline horrors are smaller, no less terrible war crimes.

On the day the Imperial Japanese Navy launched its attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, December 7th, 1941, another attack was getting underway on the US island territory of Guam in Micronesia

Landing on the beach the Japanese 144th Infantry Regiment, South Seas Detachment took on the small US military garrison taking two days to defeat the Americans.

The Japanese assault outnumbered the US ten to one in manpower and brought the might of twenty ships, including four heavy cruisers and four destroyers, to bear on the single minesweeper and two small patrol boats at the garrison port. The Americans scuttled the minesweeper and one of the patrol boats before surrendering in the Western Pacific.

The occupation of Guam lasted more than two-and-a-half years. 406 US military personnel were captured and the native Chamorros people were pressed into servitude, interned in concentration camps, suffered rape and torture.

The island was recaptured after a battle that lasted through July and August 1944 and a war reparations treaty was signed with Japan in 1951, preventing the government of Guam from suing Japan for war damages.

This did nothing to heal the sense the survivors of the war atrocities felt that they had been abandoned by the US Government.

Now, more than seventy-five years after their liberation, the Chamorros are receiving financial compensation for the crimes committed by the Japanese during the occupation.

The funds are not coming from Japan but from US Section-30 cash, a fund sent to Guam to pay for general obligations and projects.

It is a compromise following many decades of appeals and lobbying by members of Congress and residents of the island and was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2016.

Survivors will receive money on a sliding scale, $10,000 for people interned or sent on forced marches, $12,000 for personal injury or who had been forced to work for the occupiers, $15,000 for severe injury, including rape and $25,000 for relatives of those killed.

These amounts are broadly in line with claims paid out to survivors of Japanese occupations on other island territories in the region. The federal agency set a window of one year for all applications for compensation.

Antonina Palomo Cross was just seven years old when the Japanese invaded and was at a church service when the sirens filled the air.

Her family had to give up their home to the invaders and were forced to march to a concentration camp. On a forced march the family had to carry Antonina’s baby sister who had died from malnutrition.

She is now 85  and says of her compensation pay-out that she is happy to get it despite the amount not yet being confirmed.

Approximately three-thousand residents, manåmko or ‘elders’ in the Chamorros language are likely to qualify for the money although some have been hesitant about making a claim.

Chamorro performers

Judith Perez, who at seventy-six was just a babe in arms at the time, regrets that her parents never received such recognition for suffering, “It’s great to have money, but the people who are more deserving of it are the ones who really suffered physically and mentally, but they’re gone,” she said.

In 2004, a federal Guam War Claims Review Commission found the U.S. had a moral obligation to compensate Guam for war damages in part because of its 1951 peace treaty with Japan.

Commission member Benjamin Cruz said the U.S. did not want to further burden Japan with reparations as it sought to recover from the war. But the treaty effectively prevented Guam from suing Japan for damages.

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Military Humor – Bill Mauldon style – 

That can’t be a combat man. He’s lookin’ for a fight.”

“Let’s grab this one, Willie. He’s packed wit’ vitamins.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Coy Beluse – Hattiesburg, MS; US Navy, WWII

William Calvert Sr. – Montclair, NJ; US Army, WWII, Medical Corps

Thomas Donzal – Eugene, OR; RAF/US Army Air Corps,WWII, ETO, Bronze Star, Colonel (Ret.)

John Fruzyna – Northlake, IL; US Army, Korea, HQ Co./187th RCT

Richard Hover – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, Korea, Purple Heart

Lester Jackson – Muldrow, OK; US Arm, WWII, PTO

Edward Murphy – Claymont, DE; USMC, WWII, ETO, Sgt., 2nd Marine Division, Bronze Star

Roy Ourso – White Castle, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO, 4th Marine Division / Korea

Norman C. Rosfeld Jr. – Green Tree, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-29 radioman

Jeanne Scallon – Harrisburg, PA; US Army WAC, WWII

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Send In The Old Guys!

Please remember throughout this post, it is meant to be humorous – don’t anyone be offended – have fun with it!

I am over 60 and the Armed Forces thinks I’m too old to track down terrorists.  You can’t be older than 42 to join the military – but they’ve got the whole thing backwards.

Instead of sending 18-year olds off to fight, They ought to take us old guys.  You shouldn’t be able to join the military until you’re at least 35.  For starters, researchers say 18-year olds think about sex every ten seconds.  Old guys only think about sex a couple of times a month, leaving us more than 280,000 additional seconds per day to concentrate on the enemy.

Young guys haven’t lived long enough to be cranky, and a cranky soldier is a dangerous soldier.  “My back hurts!  I can’t sleep!  I’m tired and hungry!”  We’re bad-tempered and impatient, and maybe letting us kill some terrorist a**hole that desperately wants to go to ‘Paradise’ anyway will make us feel better and shut us up for a while.

An 18-year old doesn’t even like to get up before 10 a.m.  Old guys always get up early to pee, so what the hell.  Beside, like I said, I’m tired and can’t sleep and since I’m up already, I may as well be up killing some fanatical SOB.

If captured, we couldn’t spill the beans because we’d forget where we put them.  In fact, name, rank and serial number would a real brain-teaser!

Boot camp would be easier for old guys… We’re used to getting screamed and yelled at and we’re used to soft food.  We’ve also developed an appreciation for guns.  We’ve been using them for years as an excuse to get out of the house and away from all the screaming and yelling!

They could lighten up the obstacle course however…. I’ve been in combat and never saw a single 20-foot wall with a rope hanging over the side, nor did I ever do push-ups after completing basic training.

Actually – The running part is kind of a waste of energy too…. I’ve never seen anyone outrun a bullet!

An 18-year old has the whole world ahead of him.  He’s still learning to shave or start a conversation with a pretty girl.  He still hasn’t figured out that a baseball cap has a brim to shade his eyes, not the back of his head.

These are all great reasons to keep our kids at home to learn a little more about life before sending them off into harm’s way.

Let us old guys track down those terrorists…. The last thing an enemy would want to see is a couple million hacked-off old farts with bad attitudes and automatic weapons, who know that their best years are already behind them!

Old sailor on the hunt.

HEY!!!  How about recruiting women over 50 …. in menopause?!  You think men have attitudes?  If nothing else, put them on Border Patrol.  They’ll have it secured the first night!!

Send this to all your senior friends – make sure it’s in big enough type so they can read it!

Contributed by Trooper Gilbert Wells and published in “The Voice of the Angels” newspaper of the 11th Airborne Division Assoc.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Buchanan – VA; USMC; WWII

Miguel M. Covarriebias – Hanford, CT; US Army, Iraq, Spc., 1/227/1/1st Cavalry Division, KIA

Leo Croce – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 pilot, 398 BG/8th Air Force, Bronze Star

Brodie Gillon – UK; Royal Army Medical Corps/Irish Guards Battle Group, Iraq, Cpl., KIA

John Mastrianni – New Britain, CT; US Air Force, Korea, SAC & NSA Intelligence

Glen Ogden – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Marshal D. Roberts – Owasso, OK; US National Guard, Iraq, SSgt., 219th Engineering/138th Fighter Wing, KIA

Richard J. Smith Jr. – Mobile, AL; US Navy, WWII, PTO & ATO, USS Pennsylvania

Herbert Stettler – Oskloosa, IA; US Army, Korea

Eloiza Zavala – Sacramento, CA; USMC, United Arab Emirates, Combat Logistics Battalion 13, driver, KIA

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Jump Boots – the Airborne trademark

508th Airborne Regimental Combat Team

Distinctive as Airborne itself, so are the dark, glistening jump boots of a paratrooper.  Troopers glory in their significance and only they know the secret pride when they glance down at their boots, polished like glass, and see in them the reflected valorous traditions of AIRBORNE _____ By: Cpl. Jim Ethridge

Jump boots belong to the paratroopers!  They are as distinctive as the airborne itself.  Others in the armed forces may wear them, but the dark glistening boots are the original trademark of the swaggering soldiers-of-the-sky.

At Fort Campbell, as with other installations were paratroopers are stationed, it is the jumpers’ delight to “fall out” each morning with starched fatigues, blocked hat and the mirrored footwear.

Corcoran Paratrooper boots

This is true of the 508th Airborne Regimental Combat team.  The doughty Red Devils flash all the dash and verve that marked the paratroopers of yesterday.  Very early paratroopers wore ordinary army shoes and some even used tennis shoes.

Then somebody devised a leather ankle-top boot with a big metal buckle across the top of the arch.  but this proven impractical after several paratroopers came down looking like spiders trying to get the suspension line unhooked from the buckle.

Next came the boot called the Corcoran.  The most beloved of the several brands of jump boots on the market.  These are still the main choice of the airborne warriors.

the boots of a “Flying Tiger”

Another popular, well-appearing boot is the Skymaster, which has the same thick sole and slash heel as the Corcoran, but it doesn’t quite have the snub, upturned hard toe of today’s famed boot.

An early fad was to replace the manufacturer’s eyelets with huge brass grommets.  The grommets called for the nightly ritual of removing the 72-inch leather laces and running a blitz cloth through the big eyelets – all 48 of them!

Red Devils and other paratroopers alike take pride in this hallmark of distinction.  They glory in its significance.  They are proud soldiers when they glance down at their boots, polished like glass, and see reflected the valorous traditions of the Airborne!

This article and pictures below are from: “The Voice of the Angels” newspaper of the 11th Airborne Division Association, Matt Underwood, Editor

paratrooper gear of the Pacific Theater

paratrooper 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Bettin – Milwaukee, WI; US Navy, corpsman, USS Jason

Walter Grisevich – Hartford, CT; USMC, WWII, PTO

Katheryn Hatch Klaveano – Woods Cross, UT; US Navy WAVE, WWII, flight orderly

Fernand “Bucko” Lambert – Artic Village, RI; US Army, Korea

Moises A, Navas – Germantown, MD; USMC, Iraq, Captain, 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Purple Heart, KIA

John E. Nichols – Springfield, VA; USMC; Cuba, Vietnam, Major (Ret. 44 y.)

Diego D. Pongo – Simi Valley, CA; USMC, Iraq, GSgt., 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, KIA

Wayne Smith Jr. – Fort Benning, GA; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Div. / Vietnam, adviser, Bronze Star, West Point alum ’49

Max von Sydow – Lund, SWE; Swedish Army, Quartermaster Corps / beloved actor

Ken Wright – Avalon Beach, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, ETO, Flight Lt., Spitfire pilot

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188th at Desert Rock, Nevada / Manzanar Relocation Center

 

One last mention of the 188th Regiment/11th Airborne Division at Desert Rock – at least for now….   🙂

 

I located this newsletter from the National Association of Atomic Veterans, Inc., published in 2013.  It might better answer many of the questions some of the readers had from the previous posts.

http://naav.com/assets/2013_03_NAAV_Newsletter.pdf

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Manzanar Relocation Center  – east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains

Manzanar covered an impressive 540 acres of land in Owens Valley. Yet the desert was not a welcome home for most of the camp’s internees. The arid landscape made for blistering hot summers and harsh, cold winters.

While some large-scale farming helped keep the concentration camp self-sufficient, most of the internees were forced to hold industrial jobs at the camp’s garment and mattress factories. Wages for their work often topped out at less than 20 dollars a month.

Though it was surrounded by barbed wire and a series of guard towers, Manzanar comprised a variety of buildings, including churches, shops, a hospital, a post office, and an auditorium for schooling. Men and women shared bathrooms and bathing facilities, and living assignments were frequently random, meaning that a woman might be assigned to live with a man other than her husband. All in all, mess halls and residences were crowded and sparse.

Manzanar and the other internment camps closed after World War II, but many of the internees had nowhere to go. While the economic impact of their imprisonment was devastating, the social and cultural implications were likewise detrimental.

It wasn’t until 1988 that the U.S. federal government provided redress to these citizens, and offered each survivor $20,000. In 1992, Manzanar Relocation Center was declared a National Historic Site. President Bush offered a formal apology the following year.

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During the camp’s four years of existence, photographers were invited there to capture what daily life was like for the relocated citizens. Famed photographer Ansel Adams was one of just a few individuals to photograph the internees, though censorship no-doubt shaped his photos. Still, the images above provide a small glimpse at what life was like in the concentration camps.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Emery Arsenault – Dennisport, CT; US Army, WWII, PTO

James Ayala (100) – Ellsworth, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO, tank gunner, 2 Bronze Stars

Lawrence Bunts – Nampa, ID; USMC, WWII, PTO

James J. Cansler – Bolivar, MO; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co. C/1/28/8th Infantry Division, KIA (Germany)

Gordon Duggan Sr. – Enfield, CT; US Coast Guard, WWII, USS Glendale

John “Red” Gartner – Omaha, NE; US Navy, WWII, CBI, submarine tender USS Beaver

William Myers – Munday, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO,23rd HQ “Ghost Army”

Joseph Pelliccio – Bayonne, NJ; US Navy, WWII, USS Iowa / Korea, USS New Jersey

Charles “John Boy” Smith – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Air Force & Navy, # 4312868

Rosalind P. Walter – NYC, NY; Civilian, Corsair aircraft riveter.

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Veterans Stories – The Atomic Marine

An eye-witness story concerning Desert Rock!

William R. Ablan, pen name of Richard L. Muniz

“They put us out in the middle of nowhere.” Sheriff Toby Madrid had his hands wrapped around a cup of black coffee, his feet up on the desk. The casual laid back attitude belied the tension in his jaw. He also wasn’t looking at JR or me as he spoke, but at the wall. It was almost that if he looked at us, he’d never finish talking about what he had to say.

“They told us we were there to be part of an atomic bomb test.”

welcometodesertrockThe test the Sheriff was talking about was part of what we know today as the Desert Rock Exercises.  My research seems to single him out for what was called Desert Rock IV, or a series of tests called Operation Tumbler-Snapper.

From 1951 to 1957, at the Nevada Proving Grounds, a small camp called Camp Desert Rock was built. Its job was…

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The Last Living Paratrooper from MacArthur’s return …..

Gen. Douglas MacArthur (l.) and Richard “Dick” Adams (r.)

Richard Adams describes General MacArthur as “quite a guy.”

In commemoration of the 75th year of World War II in the Philippines, one of its heroes returned. Richard “Dick” Adams visited Corregidor once again, but this time, he did not parachute out of a C-47 plane to land on the towering trees of the Rock. The 98-year-old understandably opted to ride a ferry.

He was recently, poignantly, at the MacArthur Suite of the Manila Hotel, in a room dedicated to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who led the American and Filipino troops in liberating the country from Japanese occupation. MacArthur actually stayed in that suite for six years, as Manila Hotel’s honorary general manager.

It was a time of fear across the country as Japanese forces ravaged Manila and the countryside. People clung to MacArthur’s words, “I shall return,” which he said after he was forced to abandon the Philippine island fortress of Corregidor under orders from U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt in March 1942. Left behind at Corregidor and the Bataan Peninsula were 90,000 American and Filipino soldiers, who, lacking food, supplies, and support, would soon succumb to the Japanese offensive.

‘Dick’ Adams

It was at this battered battleground that Adams, as a young paratrooper assigned to the HQ Company 3rd Bn in an 81 mm mortar platoon, arrived on February 16, 1945. He is the last surviving paratrooper of the group and he shares his memories of the wartime experience.

What he remembers the most about his Corregidor landing is the wind. “It was a beautiful day when we came in at about a thousand feet above the water and then the island came up 500 feet so we jumped in about four to five hundred feet,” he says. “And the wind was a little too hard so they dropped it down and once they came after us we were pretty close to the ground.”

The landing itself was over pretty quickly, but the wind blew him toward a cliff and not the golf course that he was aiming for. Luckily, he says, he landed on a tree and that kept him from going down further.

He thinks something else saved him that day. “I wear a Miraculous Medal that my mother gave me. The second day after my jump, I noticed that the medal was gone, it was torn off,” he says. “About a week after we went to Corregidor, we went up to the hill and there were so many flies. You couldn’t open a can and put it in your mouth. The flies were terrible because the battlefield was kind of a mess that encourages the flies. I went back down to the jump field to get a parachute to protect me from the flies and came back towards the hill. It came out of my hands and when I picked it up, I saw it.  There was my medal, in the middle of the field. So that was kind of a Miraculous Medal.”

PT-32, one of 4 boats used in the escape.

Adams spent a good part of the first day getting injured troopers to the first aid station. He was in Corregidor until early March, when General MacArthur returned. He was part of the border patrol, spending most of his time on the hills and further down, he recalls.

Although a young recruit at the time, having joined the troops only a few months prior to his assignment, he understood the significance of that tiny island.  “It was kind of a guard in Manila Bay. It has a kind of control on any ship that came in through there. It was mainly a field with a fortress where they control it,” he shares. “Also, it was the last place where the phrase ‘I shall return’ became significant because that’s where General MacArthur left from going to Australia and then he came back. It was important in a sense that it controls the Manila Bay, but it is also significant just because it was the last place that the Americans surrendered from.”

“It was a pretty scary place,” he says of wartime Philippines. “I joined a few months earlier, so I was kind of new in the game at that time. We were in Mindoro and I ended up in the hospital. After Corregidor, we ran in Negros, so we got around a little bit. We spent most of our time up in the woods.”

He has vivid memories of MacArthur. “We did meet once in a while. I was at the dock when he came in and, as a matter of fact, the first time I was back in Corregidor I was in the museum and I found a picture of myself that was standing on the dock where he and I met. So, I welcomed him, but I don’t think he knows. He was quite a guy.”

After the Negros campaign and occupation duty in Japan, Adams returned home and joined the National Guard as operations sergeant in the 165th Infantry and left 20 years after as a master sergeant. He obtained a law degree from St. John University and is retired from General Motors. He has two daughters, one of whom is an Air Force Captain.

Pictures are courtesy of Manila Hotel

 

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His first trip back to Corregidor was in 2012 and he described it as an emotional trip. “I like going back to Corregidor. It’s really an honor to be here. It’s a little embarrassing when there are people standing around taking pictures—the people you should be taking pictures of, they are not here. Some might be still in Corregidor. My whole climb to fame is that I was there and I’m still here,” he says.

Of his visit, he shares, “I’m doing these to honor those people, the Filipinos and Americans that defended the island and also those who on the 16th came back to Corregidor. I think we are honoring those not only who came back on the 16th but everyone who was left.”

By : esqiremag.com   |   Feb 18, 2020

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Military Humor – 

“Yes, sailor, we docked 2 days ago!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Margaret Adamchak – Bridgeport, CT; Civilian, WWII, Naval Dept. employee

John Dennis – Tucson, AZ; US Navy, WWII, radar, USS Rochambeau

Paul H. Gebser – San Diego, CA; US Navy, WWII, Machinist’s Mate 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

John Henry – Lugarno, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, pilot instructor

Benjamin Meo – Haddon Heights, NJ; USMC, WWII

Carl Overcash – Rowan County, NC; US Army, WWII, PTO

Augustin Polasek – MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, bomber pilot, Colonel (Ret.)

Andrew Schmitz – Richmond, VA; US Navy, WWII, fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Donald Stratton – Red Cloud, NE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Arizona survivor / USS Stack / author, “All the Gallant Men”

Charles Wion – La Junta, CO; US Navy, WWII, Signalman

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