Smitty & the 11th Airborne in Japan

Smitty’s, Broad Channel, NY

Just as General Douglas MacArthur said to Gen. Robert Eichelberger that it was a long road to Tokyo, so it was for Smitty. Yes, the stretch from Broad Channel to Camp MacKall and finally Atsugi Airfield was a long and arduous road, but here, the 11th Airborne Division arrives in Japan to begin the Occupation and to help start the rebuilding of a country.

With the initial arrival of the division, rarely was a female between the ages of 8 and 70 seen on the streets. The Japanese had heard their government’s propaganda for years as to the American looting and raping, so they were understandably afraid of the conquering troops. But many were confused about the peaceful attitude of the soldiers and a member of the 511th regiment was stopped one day by a Japanese officer, he asked, “Why don’t you rape, loot and burn? We would.” The trooper answered that Americans just don’t do that.

11th A/B guarding the New Grand Hotel

With the New Grand Hotel surrounded by troopers, the manager and his staff bowed to Gen. MacArthur and his party and directed them to their suites. Tired and hungry from their long flight, the Americans went to the dining room and were served steak dinners. Gen. Whitney remembered wanting to take MacArthur’s plate to make certain it hadn’t been poisoned. When he told the general his concern and intentions, MacArthur laughed and said, “No one can live forever.”

The hotel would become his headquarters and later that evening, MacArthur told his staff, “Boys, this is the greatest adventure in military history. Here we sit in the enemy’s country with only a handful of troops, looking down the throats of 19 fully armed divisions and 70 million fanatics. One false move and the Alamo would look like a Sunday school picnic.” (The fact that nothing happened, I believe, said quite a bit about Japanese integrity.)

Atsugi Airfield, Japan 1945

The division Command Post was moved from the Atsugi Airfield to the Sun Oil Compound in Yokohama. This compound had about 15 American-style homes complete with furniture, dishes, silver and linens. The senior staff officers were not so fortunate. They were put up in warehouses on the docks, often without heat.

Smitty @ Sun Oil

On the reverse side of this photo, Smitty wrote: “A picture of the General’s gang taken in the living room at Yokohama. Reading left to right – baker, first cook, Mess Sergeant, me headwaiter and on the floor, second cook. Those glasses you can see were always full. You can’t beat this Japanese beer.”

Smitty (2nd from left) and rest of the crew

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In the Philippines, the Japanese emissary General Kawabe, finished their surrender talks. Kawabe’s aide, Second Lt. Sada Otake, introduced himself to a Nisei G.I. standing guard outside. The guard, in response, said his name was Takamura. Otake said he had married a Nisei by the same name and did he had a sister named Etsuyo? The guard nodded and Otake said, “I’m her husband. Look me up in Japan.” And the brothers-in-law shook hands. (Small world or fate?)

**********          **********

Tokyo Rose – on the air

On 1 September, newsmen Harry Brundige and Clark Lee, with the help of a Japanese newsman, located Tokyo Rose with her husband in their hotel, the Imperial. Brundige offered her $2,000 for an exclusive interview for “Cosmopolitan” magazine. She agreed and together they typed out 17 pages of notes. The editor of the magazine was so astounded that Brundige had made a deal with a traitor that he rejected the story. The notes were handed over to Lee, who wrote his own version of the story for the International News Service.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John F. Aranyosi – Hammond, LA; US Army, WWII & Korea, Sgt. (Ret. 22 y.)

J.D. Bishop – Anniston, AL; US Army, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart

Final Mission

Try A. Charles (103) – DeLeon, LA; US Merchant Marines, WWII, ETO, radioman/medic

Lionel J. Desilets (100) – Paradise Hill, CAN; RC Army, WWII

William H. Flowers (100) – Cambridge, MD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-25 flight instructor

Guy J. George – Barre, VT; US Army, WWII, CBI

William F. Gusie – IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fire Controlman 3rd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Vernon Hermann – Seward, NE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Pharmacist’s Mate / Korea, Observer Corps

Marvin Krauss – Redding, CT; US Navy, WWII, Corpsman

Richard M. Marshall – Gilbert, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

A.N. Perry – Surfside, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, LST radioman

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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 January 2, 2023, in Broad Channel, First-hand Accounts, Post WWII, SMITTY, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 138 Comments.

  1. Love to hear the moving background story of our military history. Thanks for sharing,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Always so interesting and eye-opening!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Having this peace was incredible, but if politicians would learn from this history and all it it took to get here – we would not have so many wars today. In My Opinion.
      Thank you for reading these posts, Kerbey. I realize they are not as entertaining as your posts!!

      Like

      • They preserve history and that is much more important! There is so much to learn from history, as you say. It is obvious that our leaders are not paying attention. The intricacies and moving parts and the characters of the men placed in power for such a time as WW II is endlessly fascinating. I shudder to think if the Allies had not had victory.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great stories, and an interesting insight into how the world was rebuilt after 1945.

    A friend of mine landed in Normandy a couple of days after D-Day and fought his way across Europe. He was then sent to India to train for landing in Japan and said that the news about the atom bombs was the best news he had ever had.

    It’s all about perspective, and your words “We can’t use our 21st Century eyes to judge these episodes, we can only use them to learn from them.” sum this up perfectly.

    And while I’m here – Happy New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. And btw, happy new year, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great stuff as always, GP! Smitty must’ve had lots of tales about Japan then. Truly fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I revisited a Netflix series on the Medal of Honor; one of these men was a Japanese American who passed on Dec 29th of last year. Here is his obit:
    https://rafu.com/2022/12/obituary-hershey-miyamura-97-medal-of-honor-recipient-for-korean-war-heroism/

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Those photos are a treasure! Smitty was very fortunate to be part of this important historical event. And that was an amazing coincidence for the Japanese general and the Nisei G.I. to be brothers in law.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A fascinating post with lots of tidbits. I love the two brothers-in-law’s story and Tokyo Rose’s story. That generation is truly the greatest. Who would not pass an exclusive from Tokyo Rose? Amazing! Also, Americans just don’t do that! So proud of that generation!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. What great photos of Smitty and the others. Thanks to you, I know more about Smitty’s war than I know about my own uncles and aunts, teachers and family friends who were in the fight at the same time. You and Smitty bring it to life, on both the good (and best) and bad (and worst) sides.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I couldn’t possibly ask for a more complimentary comment, Brad. Thank you very much! It would be a shame to lose your family’s stories – nothing remains?

      Like

      • Oh, no. Got the stories — some of them. Don’t have the letters, myself, although there may be some in the hands of various cousins. Smitty’s are pure gold, and you’re generous to share them. I have the photos of stern-looking, determined young aunts in WAC and other uniforms, stories from uncles on land and sea. One, a merchant mariner aboard the St. Lo, sunk by a kamikaze, October, ’44, Leyte Gulf engagement, went into the water, pulled out in fifteen minutes by a ship I can’t name, sorry. Sheer terror, beyond anything imaginable. I didn’t ask enough questions, did I? My bad. Now, I can no longer ask. Why we’re glad to have Smitty with us. Many of us have the stories. You and Smitty are a window on a world we’ve lost.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I know how you feel. I didn’t ask enough questions either. Some I didn’t know enough to have a question about and other times my mother would abruptly stop me from asking.
          The St. Lo The survivors were rescued from the water by USS Heermann, USS John C. Butler, USS Raymond and USS Dennis (which picked up 434 survivors).[5]

          The wreck is located near 11.02°N 126.04°ECoordinates: 11.02°N 126.04°E.[6]

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Those photos from Smitty are great, GP. As for the humor section, I would not want that job either lol.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Happy New Year, GP! Sorry I am late—just catching up after the holidays. I was struck by the “Americans don’t do that” line. If only that were always true—the MyLai massacre is just one example of how it isn’t always true.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The two incidents can not be compared. The comment made in peacetime Japan was from one generation, Vietnam was another. We need to look deeper. The replacements sent to finish the Occupation were not as respectful, despite their lack of combat experience. My Lai was considered a massacre, but bombing hundreds of thousands of civilians in Japan and Germany wasn’t? We can’t use our 21st Century eyes to judge these episodes, we can only use them to learn from them.
      Thank you for the New Year wishes. I rang it in still recovering from pneumonia, so it can only get better!! haha

      Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s good to hear about the inside stories – not just the news reals. That’s what makes your blog so fascinating. Real people and how they felt. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. A great article. I loved the pics

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Those “17 pages of notes” from Tokyo Rose would likely be worth a small fortune now. Or at least an interesting read.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. An interesting view of the times. I can’t help but notice things would be quite different if it occurred in today’s world. No news media would have turned down an exclusive from Tokyo Rose!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. -Can’t believe that American and Chines soldiers are so kind to each other by first meeting.Great photos in this post

    Liked by 2 people

  17. So nice to read of a peaceful time between American and Japanese troops. Had to smile that someone would turn down a story on Tokyo Rose. The war was over but she had an impact.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tokyo Rose got a lot of men killed, I was surprised she was only sentenced to 10 years!

      Yes, Smitty admired how the Japanese made the ‘about face’, but then again, their government had kept them in the dark for so long.

      Like

  18. I always look forward to your posts, the ‘insider’ look into the details of important times in our past.
    Also, the ‘Cars’ dopey-faced Jeep was hilarious, we like seeing evidence of our troops finding humor in their daily lives in service, where there may not be much to smile or laugh about.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Thank you for researching and posting, GP. The meeting of the brothers-in-law – yes, it is a small world in which Fate deals a hand now and then.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. That’s one story about Tokyo Rose that I had never heard of before.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Can follow my site ? Thanks Anita

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Smith has been to many countries during his tour of duty; that must have been surreal to have been in Japan itself

    Liked by 2 people

  23. A wonderful post, full of human interest and unknown details.
    Happy New Year to you and yours, GP!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. An information-packed post GP. Interestingly, two heroes in the Japanese mind came out of the occupation. The first was MacArthur, and the second was W. Edwards Deming. MacArthur saved the culture and Deming the manufacturing ability of the Japanese. I enjoyed the Tokyo Rose story as well as the brother-in-law incident. Well done.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. I agree, GP, that the fact that nothing happened to those greatly outnumbered occupation forces does say quite a bit about Japanese integrity. I never tasted Japanese beer, though I did stop in Okinawa on my way home from Vietnam. I didn’t drink alcohol at the time, but I DID buy a Seiko watch. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Propaganda works and hurts, then and now.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. How wonderful to have those photos from Smitty.
    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Lulu: “Happy New Year!”
    Java Bean: “¡Feliz año nuevo!”
    Lulu: “Lots of interesting information about what happened in Japan! I wonder if that good Japanese beer was Sapporo. I hear our Mama is a fan of that, although she doesn’t drink it very often.”
    Java Bean: “Why not?”
    Lulu: “Something about calories I think, whatever those are …”

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Sending my best wishes to you and your lovely family, GP – may you all have a wonderful new year! 🤗🌹
    Rosie

    Liked by 2 people

  30. We were there in Japan, and we saw this Yushukan Museum. We enjoyed our time there in South Korea but the North side was a disaster. Thanks for sharing your photos.
    Anita

    Liked by 2 people

  31. It has always fascinated me that there was no attempted insurgency or atrocities carried out by the Japanese troops or civilians after the intital occupation. As your article says, it has to do with their culture undoubtedly, and the added shame that their country had surrendered unconditionally.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

    • There were some young hot-heads, the type you find in any culture, that attempted to be trouble, but their own military took care of it.

      Liked by 2 people

    • There was a well-staffed group of insurgents who came a lot closer to creating a civil war than I’d been previously aware. This 52 minute video details the crucial events of the final 24 hours of the war. Not young turks, these men were senior officers, prepared to murder their opponents and burn their homes. .

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Good article. That quote by MacArthur–I’ve never heard it before.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. The painting “Last Trip” always cuts deep into my emotions.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. It’s kind of hard to hate foreign occupiers when they don’t rape, loot, and burn.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. ‘the Americans just don’t do that.’ -excellent response

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Pierre Lagacé

    Still fascinating reading.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. That was a lucky combination of cultures…American restraint and Japanese obedience to authority. Your father bagged a cushy number at last!

    Liked by 2 people

  38. It was especially interesting to see the ‘staff people’ — the cooks and such. I’ve never thought much about how many people it required to do the cooking, cleaning, laundering, and such. We mostly read about the officers, but there were plenty of others who helped those officers keep their focus on the mission.

    The tale of Brundige and Lee is interesting, too. I suspect that “Cosmo” editor would have jumped at the chance to publish the story today.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dad was a driver, but was considered part of the service staff. He sure lucked out!

      A Cosmo editor today would certainly jump at the chance for such an exclusive, but there were different principles back then.

      Liked by 1 person

  39. The vignette about Tokyo Rose is interesting. First because of the Cosmo editor’s decision to spike the original reporting in favor of another write-up. Secondly, Tokyo Rose most likely went along with the “rape, loot, pillage” mantra of the Japanese regime. There’s a lot to unpack in your last paragraph.

    Liked by 4 people

  40. Looks like Smitty lucked out in the end. The story of the two brothers in law is fascinating. The toons are first rate. The Japanese were impressive in how they acted once they surrendered. I loved Mac’s response to the possibility of poison.

    Liked by 3 people

  41. “Why don’t you rape, loot and burn? We would.” The trooper answered that Americans just don’t do that.”
    That’s why I think that the possibility of an invasion of some type by the Soviets had a great role to play in the Japanese decision to surrender. American troops, by and large, come wiith a guarantee, but the Red Army doesn’t!

    Liked by 3 people

    • That could be. We know that the Soviets wanted in on the Pacific War so they could claim territory for trouble.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have read that when Soviet troops approached Berlin, they withdrew thr troops that had been fighting and replaced them with less disciplined troops who they figured were more likely to rape and loot. No idea if this is true or not.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m afraid I am not as “up” on the ETO part of the war as I should be, so I really can’t speculate. I do know that the soldiers were instructed to “rape” the country of all machinery, etc.

          Like

  42. That had to be an amazing experience, to go through that transition.

    Liked by 3 people

  43. So many fascinating details in this account of occupied Japan!

    Liked by 3 people

  44. Great photos, GP! They had arrived, but now the work begun. Sorry, i had another delay. I wish you and yours a very happy and blessed New Year! Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 3 people

  45. “Americans just don’t do that.” What a heart-warming comment. Many fascinating details in this post, GP!

    Liked by 6 people

  46. Thank you, Ned.

    Like

  1. Pingback: Smitty & the 11th Airborne in Japan | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

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