Monthly Archives: April 2021

Camp Polk

Entrance to Camp Polk

It took 22 trains and one week to transport the proud and cocky division to Camp Polk in the west-central area of Louisiana.  This was the home of the armored forces and it would not take long for the two units to clash.  But first, the 11th A/B planned to enjoy the improved living conditions and the 3.2 beer.  They found time to “hit the town” and often it was a place called “Scotty’s,” just outside of Southern Pines.

Camp Polk 1944

The tank units, who called Camp Polk their home, did not take kindly to the new finely tuned troopers who were in the best shape of their lives (and they knew it!).  The 11th A/B  would often “unboot” the tankers when they were in town, forcing them to return to base barefoot and find their footwear neatly lined up in their barracks.

building a pontoon boat in Calcasieu Swamp

Beginning Jan. 10, the men underwent harsh training in preparation for the tests at the hands of the Third Army.  The Louisiana Maneuvers began Feb. 5 with the troopers bivouacked near Hawthorne, LA.  There were 4 tactical maneuvers lasting 3 days each.  First, they jumped and marched immediately after.  Then they attacked and defended using an attack sequence of “flags & umpires.”  Finally, the “enemy” broke through and they would retreat.  The weather in the Calcasieu Swamp was snow, hail, sleet and enough rain to swallow a jeep.  The men joked that the camp should be a naval base.  On Feb. 20, the 11th airborne division took and passed their infantry tests.

Everett Smith w/ unknown buddy, Camp Polk

About this time, Gen. Swing was pleased to be told that the troopers were being sent to the Pacific Theater and MacArthur would consider the unit his “secret weapon.”  This turned out to be one reason for the lack of newspaper coverage for the division until they landed in the Philippines.  I discovered this after an extensive search in the Australian library and newspaper archives.

Camp Polk

The 11th was restricted to base for one month.  Swing decided the men should travel to their POE (Port of Exit/Entry) Camp Stoneman, CA incognito as Shipment # 1855 in an effort to bypass the Inspector General’s men.  Orders were to look and act as a “straight-leg” unit; ALL paratrooper I.D. and clothing to be stowed away.

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News from home:  The Banner (Broad Channel newspaper sent to servicemen) reports:  NY Governor Dewey signed a bill that would allow fishermen of Jamaica Bay to shoot an unlimited amount of eels, but the shooting had to be done with bow and arrow.  Smitty’s mom says:  everyone is still trying to figure that one out.

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Fellow blogger, Carl D’Agostino at “i know i made you smile”, sent me his father’s pictures and information.  Arthur D’Agostino had been with the 8th Armored Division.  They were stationed at Camp Campbell, KY until 1943 when they were moved to Camp Polk, LA to prepare for combat.  The division was sent to the European Theater on 5 December 1943, but Mr. D’Agostino was in recovery from surgery and was spared the journey.  Carl’s blog can be found HERE.

Arthur D’Agostino

Unfortunately, the world lost  Arthur R. D’Agostino, 97. when he passed away March 17, 2021. Served 8th Armored Division March 1943 – September – 1944. T-Sgt. Survived by his son, Carl, two grandchildren and 4 great children. An honest, upright, kind and generous man to all and the best father a son could ever hope for.

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Personal Note – I have recently noticed that I have lost links to blogs I follow.  I can not imagine how it happened and I have recovered a few – BUT I do not know how many others this has happened to.  Please contact me if I have not been on your site the past few weeks!!

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Military Humor from WWII’s Camp Polk – 

Click on to enlarge.

Drill Instructor

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Farewell Salutes – 

Chester Balinski – Highland Heights, OH; US Army, WWII / USMCR

Harold Bates – Rush Center, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Bobbie Ray Daniels (17) – Bedford, VA; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Co. F/2/5/1st Cavalry Division, KIA (Waegwan, So. Korea

Hubert Faure (106) – Neuvic, FRA; French Commandoes, WWII, ETO, Chief Warrant Officer, 1st Battalion, Fusiliers

Abigail Jenks – Gansevoort, NY; US Army, Spc., 1/319 Airborne Field Artillery/3rd Brigade Combat Team

Susanne Kostelnik – Dearborn, MI; Civilian, WWII, teacher at Willow Run Air Force School

Walter Mondale – Ceylon, MN; US Army, Korea / US Senator, Vice-President & Ambassador to Japan

Clayton Schenkelberg (103) – Carroll, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Pearl Harbor survivor, (Ret. 30 y.)

Bernie Sippel – Morningside, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Capt., C-46/C-47 pilot, 64/433rd Troop Transport/ 5th Air Force

Wallace Taylor – Louisville, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, MSgt. / Korea, 38th Ordnance Co., Colonel

Ernest N. Vienneau – USA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 2nd Lt., B-17 co-pilot, 340/97 BG/15th Air Force, KIA (Maribor, YUGO

KRI Nanggala 402

In honor of the 53 souls lost when the Nanggala went down below the waves.  May their final voyage be on eternal peaceful seas.

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11th Airborne graduates Camp MacKall

1943 Camp MacKall, 11th Airborne yearbook

Smitty had acquired additional postcards to show the people back home what Camp MacKall looked like.  They were in the scrapbook his mother put together and was saved for all these years….

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General Order No. 1 listed the original organic units of the 11th Airborne Division, as they moved on with their training, as follows:

Headquarters, 11 A/B Division

Headquarters Company, 11th A/B Division

Military Police Platoon, 11 A/B Division

408th A/B Quartermaster Company

511th A/B Signal Company

711th A/B Ordnance Maintenance Company

221st A/B Medical Company

127th A/B Engineer Battalion

152nd A/B Antiaircraft Battalion

HQ & HQ Battery, 11th A/B Artillery

457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion

674th Glider Field Artillery Battalion

E. Smith, back row, 5th from the right – HQ Co/187th Regiment

675th Glider Field Artillery Battalion

187th Glider Infantry Regiment

188th Glider Infantry Regiment

511th Parachute Infantry Regiment

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Total = 8,321 men

 

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Military Training Humor – 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ollie Baird – Malin, OR; Civilian, WWII, B-17 production

Nathan Burke – Lubbock, TX; US Navy, Airman

Stanislaw F. Drwall – WV; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, Pattern Maker 1st Class, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

James Hawkins – Decatur, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO

Jeffrey Wester “Pug” Lee – Hamilton County, FL; US Army, WWII, PTO, 243rd Port Company Transportation

Dennis Merriman – Chicago, IL; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Bruce Meyers – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII, USS Bunker Hill  /  invented the dune buggy

Frank Occhiuto – Longmont, CO; US Navy, WWII & Korea, radioman, USS Lowry

Joan Parks – Ypsilanti, MI; Civilian, WWII, Willow Run bomber production

Ramon L. Smith – Knox County, TN; US Army, Korea, Pfc. # 14270116, 50th AntiAircraft Battalion, KIA (No. Korea)

Nicholas J. Valentine – Cassville, WI; US Army, Korea, Sgt. 1st Class, Batt B/57 Field Artillery/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

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Camp MacKall (not without a problem or two)

Gen. Joseph M. Swing

The following story has been condensed from the “Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division” by MGeneral E.M. Flanagan Jr.

The 511th made waves for the 11th A/B Div.

General Swing, realized he was commanding an outfit of cocky paratroopers with special jump pay and glider troops who had no voice in their assignment and no extra pay to compensate for being forced to go to war in a rickety, undependable glider in equal hazardous duty.  Unless he took some drastic action, the division would be split.

Reports filtered back to Gen. Swing at Camp MacKall that the 511th troopers were full of arrogant, rowdy hell-raisers lacking in discipline.  But when the regiment joined up with the 11th Airborne, Swing was ready for them.  Henry Muller [G-2 officer] remembered:

Lt.General E.M. Flanagan

“It was quite a shock to us.  Gen. Swing, who had heard terrible reports about the alleged rowdyism and unprofessionalism, was determined to ‘make us right.’  The first thing to go were the leather jackets [Air Corps ‘bomber jackets’ issued to flight crews] being worn by the paratrooper officers.  Next were the beloved boots for all ranks!  We were in a state of shock.

“That dreadful morning when we all had to put on ‘leggings’ nearly broke our spirits – but not for long.  The old horse artilleryman [Swing] knew what it would take to bring a high spirited horse under control.  In the long run it was good for us too-cocky paratroopers and helped prevent unhealthy rivalry between paratroopers and glidermen.  The glidermen had been referred to as ‘Haimes’ at this point.”

Unfettered by his superior officers, Gen. Swing would ensure that the entire division would operate as both paratroopers and glidermen.  He set up the 11th Airborne’s own jump schools at Camp Polk, New Guinea and the Philippines.

According to Smitty, the 511th continued to maintain their air of superiority throughout the war which also continued the rivalries; just unbeknownst to most the officers.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Allen Bulmer – Bridgeport, CT; US Navy, WWII

Charles Coolidge Sr. – Chattanooga, TN; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co./3/141/36th Division, Medal of Honor

William A. Cotcamp – Whitney Point, NY; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, MP Cpl., 11th Airborne Division

Charles P. Dugan – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, Japanese Occupation,11th Airborne Division

Everett gasper (101) – Surry, IN; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Arthur Harrison – Patterson, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO, 102nd Infantry Division

Kathryn (Hodak) Lininger – Nile, OH; US Army WAC, WWII

Howard S. Magers – Merry Oaks, KY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, Seaman 2nd Class, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Prince Philip Mountbatten – Corfu, GRE; Royal Navy, WWII, CBI, HMS Ramillies;  ETO, HMS Valiant;  PTO, HMS Whelp, / Consort to the Queen of England

Ray O’Dell – OR; US Army, WWII, ETO, Combat Engineers

Lyle Reab – Phillips, NE; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pvt., 28th Infantry Division, KIA (Vossenack, GER)

Raymond A. Smith – USA; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Co A/1/32/72nd Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

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Camp MacKall, Smitty and the Knollwood Maneuvers

WACO glider in take off from Camp MacKall field.

WACO glider at Camp MacKall – reverse side reads: “Hello Mom, Finally got some cards that can let you see what these gliders we ride around in look like. This picture was taken on our camp field. I have a few more that I’ll send to you. Regards to all. Hope to be home this Wednesday.” Everett

Station Hospital, Camp MacKall, NC

The type of construction used for the barracks at Camp MacKall and the above hospital is called a “theatre of operations.”  Built on pilings and constructed of green sawed pine boards which is then covered with type 4 black tar paper.  The wood was cut from trees on the camp property using 7 sawmills running 24/7.  When the boards dried out, the 2 pot-bellied stoves were incapable of keeping the men warm.  Smitty spent some time at that hospital when the army discovered he did not perspire.  The medication took 3 weeks to kick in and then he was back to marching.

Knollwood Maneuvers

The Knollwood Maneuver would not only be the deciding factor for the 11th Airborne, but also for future paratrooper divisions as a whole.  5 December 1943, Army Ground Forces test team deployed a composite combat team from the 17th A/B, plus a battalion from Col. Duke McEntee’s 541st Parachute Infantry Regiment to be situated at Knollwood Airport and other critical points to act as the ‘enemy.’

Viewer to this operation included: Under Secretary of War, Robert Patterson; General McNair; General Ridgeway (82nd A/B); BGen. Lee Donovan; Airborne Command and several teams of high-ranking inspectors from the War Dept., Army Ground Forces and Army Air Forces.

Camp MacKall, 1943, triangular runway

On midnight of Dec. 6, 1943, 200 C-47 Dakota transports carried the troopers and towed the 234 gliders from five separate airfields to begin the operation.  The lift-offs were timed so that each plane would join the column in its proper place.  The aircraft became a vee-of-vees, nine ships wide as the formations grew larger.  They made a rendezvous on the Atlantic coastline and took a 200 mile circular route before aiming toward the inland drop zones; most of the men would jump during evening’s darkness at 1200′.  Almost all the troopers and gliders hit the proper DZ (drop Zones) and LZs (landing zone).  However, the division chief of staff and his glider load landed in a road on the Fort Bragg artillery range.

Weather conditions were not conducive for jumping as the rain became sleet, but still, 85% were successful.  There were 2 casualties and 48 injuries.  The 11th Airborne “captured” and “held” the Aberdeen and Knollwood Airports from the defending forces.  The exercise came to an end on Dec. 12 – Smitty’s 29th birthday.  The War Dept., after reviewing the reports, replied to Gen. Swing that they had been wrong and the training for such a specialized unit should proceed. (As it would turn out, their training had only just begun. )

For a complete and detailed look at the Knollwood Maneuvers, a friend of mine, Eugene Piasecki, U.S. Army Historian,has his data online now…

https://arsof-history.org/articles/v4n1_knollwood_page_1.html

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News from home: Smitty’s friend, George Dunlop rescued two Navy pilots after their training plane crashed into Jamaica Bay.  The company of soldiers that were stationed on Broad Channel became an actual camp and decided to call it — Camp Smith!  War bond drives were going on as well as the dimming of the street lamps.

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Military Humor –

Learning on the job.

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Arthur R. D’Agostino – Staten Island, NY; US Army, WWII, TSgt., 8th Armored Division / post that includes Mr. D’Agostino will be published at a later date

Gordon M. Hill – CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, pilot, 416th Squadron

Courtesy of Dan Antion

Burtell M. Jefferson – Washington D.C.; US Army, WWII, PTO / Police Chief

Herbert C. Jensen – Farmington, UT; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Henry LaBonte – Brockton, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Eugene Richard Skotch – East Meadow, NY; US Army, Vietnam, Pfc., KIA (Gia Dinh Province)

Walter A. Smead – Saratoga County, NY; US Army, Korea, Cpl. Battery A/57th Field Artillery/7th Infantry Div., KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Everett R. Stewart – Anderson, CA; US Navy, WWII, Petty Officer 2nd Cl., USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Joseph E. Tinkham Jr. – South Gardiner, ME; US Army, Vietnam, !st Calvery Division, Adj. Gen. of Maine National Guard, MGeneral (Ret. 37 y.)

Bertram G. Voorhees – Pasadena, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

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