Monthly Archives: April 2021

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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