Getting ready for the next mission – Aparri

Luzon

With his thoughts still focused on his R&R in Australia, Everett “Smitty” Smith landed back at Lipa City, P.I. only to discover that a mission was scheduled. The last remaining organized Japanese group, the Shabu Forces, were holed up in the northeast corner of Luzon and General Swing had organized the Gypsy Task Force to take them out. On his orders, this unique unit would include “all Camp MacKall veterans.” This would include men from the 187th Infantry, the 511th, the 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, a platoon from the 127th Engineers and two platoons from B Company. Despite Gen. Krueger’s disapproval, Lt. Col. Henry Burgess, now 26 years old, would be the commanding officer. (Smitty was at the ancient age of 30, one of the oldest paratroopers besides one other soldier and a few of the officers.) Col. Lahti (31) would be CO for the reserve unit.

LTC Henry Burgess

Col. John Lackey, CO of the 317th Troop Carrier Group/5th Air Force, with very little notice, began loading 54 C-47s and 13 C-46s at 0430 hours, 23 June 1945. His plane was the first to leave Lipa airstrip and the constant rumbling of the planes soon became “Vs” in the open skies. Within the transports, every man appeared as a clone to the next. Individuality was lost among the uniforms, bundled parachutes and rucksacks filled to capacity with ammunition, first-aid, water and C-rations.

Each man stood and checked the chute of the man beside him when the “Gooney Birds” lurched at 0900 hours; the smoke flares from the forward Pathfinders were spotted and green lights flashed for the paratroopers. The stick of men hooked up to the static lines and proceeded to jump into vertical development. With mandatory, disciplined silence, the traditional battle cry, “Geronimo,” is only heard within the imaginative faculty of 1,030 men. All these diverse personalities would react separately to the same experience.

C-47 Skytrain ‘Gooney Bird’

Each man, for his own reasons, volunteered for the perilous duty that might end his life. Each man went through various stages of development and arrived at the same destination. Each man had been chosen for their good health, general toughness and honor. A jump into combat is reality in its most crystalline form.

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Military Humor –

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Current News – U.S. Airborne Day, 16 August 1940 – Present

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Farewell Salutes – 

Nelson Bartlett – No. Smithfield, RI; US Navy, USS Tarawa

Peter G. Byrd Jr. (104) – Beaumont, TX; US Navy, WWII

For Freedom

Alexander Carlyle (100) – Grand Forks, CAN; RC Air Force, navigator

Frank Deppe – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO

Peter J. Girardi – Mount Vernon, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 385th Infantry

Hal Hatch – Portland, OR; Civilian, WWII, welder, Navy Shipyard

John Hutchinson – Wallaceburg, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Robert M. Kelliher (100) – Riverdale, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 pilot, 461st Bomb Group

Homer Lester – Pulaski, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co/2/187/11th Airborne Division

Whitney Newcomb Jr. – Jonesport, ME, US Navy, WWII

Beuford Webb – Ft. Worth, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

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This is here… Just because…

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About GP

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GP is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on August 15, 2022, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 113 Comments.

  1. Americaoncoffee

    Great patriotism! I hope honor will return in full force.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “A jump into combat is reality in its most crystalline form.” Well said, G.P.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your detail and documentation is always amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for the interesting post on horror of war.I like your idea of lightening the mood with humorous presentation.
    Thank you, also, for liking my part one post about the glory of sciences in India. Part two about the great mathematician, Ramanujan will follow this weekend.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Amazing that so many men volunteered to be paratroopers. What a sight that would have been to see all of them jumping at nearly the same time. That is bravery at the max.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “…reality in its most crystalline form” — beautifully expressed, GP! I love that even in such circumstances they came up with fun names for groups and things, Gooney Birds, Gypsies. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Teagan. It still all amazes me that these men, who went through hell to survive the depression, not only continuously fought through a war until it was over, but create the greatest legacy ever created for a generation.

      Like

  7. Found this item at 12:53am 8/18:

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your last paragraph says it all!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I remember in the late 40s as a child jumping off a roof and yelling Geronimo, G. It may not have been common or appropriate, but it had become legendary. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

    • Simply a tradition created by accident. No harm was ever intended. (How badly were you hurt going off the roof?)

      Like

      • I bounced well in those days, G. 🙂 It was a small, old cabin abandoned by its owner when he passed away. Inside was a genuine ice box, the type you needed a block of ice for. He’d used old newspapers for insulation. There were still headlines from WW II but I was more intrigued by the old comic pages. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Blessed indivualists act in focused unison when it matters.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. That should have read “your” posts, not “our”. I’m not THAT arrogant as to claim all mine are fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. All our posts are fascinating, but this one had the added weight of your own words and reflections which made it especially poignant.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Your last two paragraphs give a vivid description of what such a jump into combat must have been like.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ik denk dat veel van die moedige parachutisten stil een schietgebed ten hemel richten en hoopten dat ze vlug veilig beneden zouden zijn, wat wetende dat je een schietschijf bent voor de vijand op de grond. Ik zou die mannen hun hartslag niet willen weten

    Liked by 2 people

  15. A really big mission, and always on the move. Thanks for sharing, GP! Have a nice week! xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hey I recognize that raccoon ! Discovered about 7 years ago, and never stops being funny, even after all that time.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. What a mission! And I love the funnies.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Wow! Big operation! All those aircraft and all those men! As you pointed out, every one of them were volunteers and went through rigorous training to arrive at that destination. Heroes, each and every one.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Being in combat must be bad enough. Jumping from the sky into the unknown takes a special kind of courage. My dad’s younger brother was a Red Beret, some years after WW2. (And Korea) He served six years and never saw any action. He came out in 1961 and joined the Police in London, serving as a policeman until retirement.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. It takes a unique individual to serve their nation, especially in moments like this. I imagine once the technical checklist is done and the equipment is readied, there is one stolen moment when each is left to their own thoughts. It is a “reality show” like no other.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I really like this post, especially your last paragraph. It is very powerful.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Paratroopers had the most dangerous mission. Dropping from the sky was no picnic. You needed skills, luck, and safe wind velocity. I read from Triumph in the Philippines that during this drop, the ground wind was 20 to 25 miles per hour, of which 15 miles was considered the maximum safe velocity. They also had the rough condition of the drop zone. I salute all those paratroopers for this mission.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Here they didn’t have much time to consider the weather, especially where Gen. Kruger was involved. He still considered the 11th A/B as part of Gen. Eichelberger’s Army.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Excellent writing, GP. You brought us all into the moment, and it was terrifying. I can’t imagine each man’s thoughts, but you made us stop and contemplate what they might be. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. There’s jumping and then there’s combat jumping. The surmise that ‘Geronimo’ was said in silence might have been so but I also surmise there was a lot of silent prayers also.
    A big salute to Smitty and the troopers that jumped with with him. A big salute to al the troopers who fought for our country. And on National Paratroopers Day, a big salute to all my brother-troopers. I am proud to be a part of that great group of patriots.

    Liked by 3 people

    • And we most certainly thank you for your service for us, Don! Dad used to say that they claim there are no atheists in the foxholes, but there weren’t any in the air either!!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. I suspect this–“Each man, for his own reasons, volunteered for the perilous duty that might end his life.”–explained why many many volunteered.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. A most perilous mission! I am eagerly awaiting your next post to find out more about the courageous parachuters.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. As horrible as war is, doesn’t it just show you that ordinary, everyday people are real heroes, overcomng their justifiable fears.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Good post. I was interested to learn of the mandatory, disciplined silence.
    Also, with regard to another comment, saluting was also not allowed, at least in Vietnam, anywhere the enemy might be found for the same reasons and our rank was camouflaged so as not to be reflective at night.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. “A jump into combat is reality in its most crystalline form.” – It most certainly must be

    Liked by 3 people

  30. That’s a very interesting point you made about the removal of insignia. I seem to remember that Ukrainian forces have been taking out a few Russian generals, perhaps for the same reason: to demoralize.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Another excellent account of the most dangerous job I can think of. Baling out of an aircraft with a large number of Japanese fanatics on the ground, all trying to stop you from being successful. You captured very well the tenseness that must have ensued when those green lights came on and eveybody made their preparations for that fateful jump. And to all be volunteers must double their bravery at the very least,.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Love the cartoons, the cat video, and the sunset picture. When we took the C-130 from Germany to first Bosnia and then Hungary, there were double rows of us (civilians, military, and contractors) dressed alike in BDUs. Each person was solemn and silent as we headed into the great unknown. Even though, the biggest hazard was landmines still strewn around Eagle Base in Tuzla, it was as close to a potential combat situation as most of us were likely to get. At that time, I did wonder about the troops that rode such planes into actual combat, never mind having to jump out of them with a parachute, would have been thinking. (The Army did make us have a last will and testament before we left the States.)

    Liked by 2 people

  33. amazing bravery, way beyond the norm –

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Jumping into forest, swamps, rocks, and combat situations. Not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. Landing on a beach is no walk in the park, but you can be retrieved. Jumping from a plane, you’re going to be victorious or you’re likely not coming back. These men, these actions, are the reasons I stop at a Veterans Memorial every day that I walk.

    Liked by 5 people

  35. Arduous missions such as this are crucibles to strengthen heroes. It’s also interesting that you point out that symbols of rank are obscured by the tools of the fight.

    Liked by 4 people

    • They had removed insignias of the 11th and rank way back in San Francisco, CA. Some were beginning to put them back on, until they knowingly were going into combat. The idea was that the enemy were not supposed to know the 11th existed and if an officer were spotted in battle, they would be the first killed to demoralize the troops following him.

      Liked by 5 people

  36. Thank you, Ned.

    Like

  37. Thank you, Nelsapy.

    Like

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