Author Archives: GP Cox

How Donald Duck & Dumbo Helped to Win the War

Just one day after Pearl Harbor, Walt Disney received his first military contract and began creating promotional reels, war bond advertisements, short training and instructional films, and other WWII materials.  Also at this time, he received requests from military units all over the world requesting Disney-designed insignia’s and mascots.

David Lesjak, a former employee and Disney historian says, “Insignia helped build morale.  Having a cartoon character you grew up with on your plane or shoulder patch helped remind you of home.  In my mind it was a happy diversion from the horrors of war.”

Hank Porter @ Disney

One of the purest expressions of Walt Disney’s genuine patriotism during the war years was his decision to establish a unit devoted to producing customized military unit insignia free of charge for U.S. armed forces and their allies.  Headed by the talented draftsman, Hank Porter, whom Walt referred to as a “one-man department,” a unit of 5 full-time artists worked steadily throughout the war, turning out 1,300 insignia.

By far, the single most requested and used Disney character was Donald Duck, who was featured in at least 146 designs.  The numerous requests for Donald’s likeness resulted in a wealth of drawings that successfully channeled his irascibilty as patriotism and military zeal, often with a comedic flourish.

Next, the character that appeared most was Pluto in about 35.  Pluto was popular and his trademark facial expressions made it easy for the artists to incorporate him into a variety of insignia.  Goofy followed in popularity at 25 insignia and Jiminy Cricket appeared in 24.

B-29 Thumper nose-art

Sometimes a unit had a special design in mind and was seeking a Disney artist’s skill to bring it to life, attaching a rough sketch to their request letter for reference.

The bulk of insignia were designed for Army units and Navy vessels, but occasionally individuals requested their own personal design.  These requested were accommodated and executed with the same level of care as an insignia for an entire ship, bombardment group or battalion.

Mickey nose-art

The requested letters were often addressed simply: Walt Disney, Hollywood, California.  Once a letter was received in was placed in the queue of pending requests, and the turnaround time was usually 3-4 weeks, though a wait of several months was possible when the insignia unit was particularly swamped.

The procedure for the creation of the insignia design varied, but it typically involved a preliminary pencil drawing in which the image was established, then a full-color pencil version and finally a full-color gouache on art board that would then be forwarded to the requesting unit or party.  This would often hang in the unit headquarters and serve as a template for reproducing the emblem on aircraft, tanks, and other military equipment – as well as uniforms and letterheads.

War Bond by Disney

It is difficult today to fully appreciate how it felt for a serviceman to have his unit represented by a Disney-designed insignia.  For the generation that fought WWII, Disney character images possessed and iconic heft that has no analog in contemporary animation.

A Donald Duck insignia boosted morale, not just because it reminded soldiers of home, but also because it signified that the job they were doing was important enough to be acknowledged by Walt Disney.

The 127th Airborne Engineers/11th Airborne Division’s first insignia was Donald Duck with combat engineer equipment and aviation goggles.

This article and information was printed in the “Voice of the Angels” 11th Airborne Division Association newspaper.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Tracking Guide

Disney Humor

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Bradshaw III – E. Greenwich, RI; US Army, WWII & Korea. Major (Ret. 45 y.)

Jimmie Calder – Pensacola, FL; US Navy, WWII / US Air Force, MSgt. (Ret. 22 y.)

Charles Graybeal – W. Jefferson, NC; US Army, WWII, ETO

Charles Hankammer – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII, CSG2 cook

Clayton J. Horne – Atlanta, LA; Saudi Arabia, Specialist, 351/160th Military Police Battalion, KIA

Meredith Keirn – Niagara Falls, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO, Spl. / Korea, Sgt., Co F/2/7/1st Marine Division, KIA

Ralph Mayville – Windsor, CAN; RC Forces, WWII, ETO, 1st Special Forces (Black Devils)

Horace Ogle – Whangarei, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 44071, WWII

George Rash – Pulaski County, VA; US Army, WWII, POW / Korea

Martin J. Wurth –  Paducah, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

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WWII Glider Stands as a nod to Camp MacKall, NC

Glider at Camp MacKall

HOFFMAN, N.C. (Tribune News Service)  — The Army’s Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations soldiers have been tried, tested and trained at Camp Mackall for decades.

But long before the first Green Beret was built amid the remote satellite installation several miles west of Fort Bragg, Camp Mackall was home to the nation’s parachute and glider training amid World War II.

Airborne, Camp MacKall

The U.S. Army Special Warfare Center and School honored that history as it dedicated a replica of a Waco CG-4A glider that now welcomes visitors from Camp Mackall’s Ashemont Road entrance.

The glider — which is raised above an intersection that also features a flag pole, historical marker and welcome sign — was built to be a sturdier version of the original CG-4A gliders. The nose of the glider includes a metal frame salvaged from an actual glider that was found, crashed, in a nearby swamp in recent years.

Glider at Camp MacKall, 1943

The glider has replaced a UH-1 Huey helicopter that had been on display at the location. Officials said the Huey is being refurbished and will eventually be relocated to another part of Camp Mackall.

Several World War II veterans attended the ceremony, including a paratrooper who jumped into Normandy, France, on D-Day alongside glider forces, a glider infantryman and a glider pilot.

Glider training

Russ Seitz said he could remember riding in a glider very similar to the one now on display as a soldier at Fort Bragg in 1944 and 1945. It would have been towed by a C-47, quietly pulled through the air behind the much larger plane.

Seitz pointed to how the nose of the glider had a hinge to allow it to open upward so jeeps or other equipment could be driven inside.

“There’s a bench on each side,” he said. “There is a sensation when you’re being towed.”

Camp MacKall postcard

During the war, the Army ordered 13,900 gliders, made of wood and metal covered in fabric. And they would be used across Europe, China, Burma and India and were often used as a complement to paratroopers, carrying additional troops, howitzers and vehicles.

The flying machines, which used a set of skids to land, were nicknamed “Gooney Birds,” “Flying Coffins,” “Tow Targets” and “Silent Wings.”

Lt. Col. Seth A. Wheeler, the commander of 1st Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group, said the ceremony was a unique opportunity to reflect on Camp Mackall’s past and commemorate its history.

Now a small but growing camp housing mostly special operations facilities, Camp Mackall was once a bustling Army installation 7 miles from Fort Bragg’s western training areas.

Smitty, 187th RCT/11th Airborne Division, Camp MacKall 1943

Construction at the camp, originally named Camp Hoffman, was begun in late 1942, according to officials. And most of the work was finished in four months, with buildings created out of temporary materials such as plank siding and tar paper.

The installation was renamed Camp Mackall on Feb. 8, 1943, in honor of Pvt. John Thomas Mackall, who was thought at the time to be the first paratrooper casualty in World War II.

The glider’s tail number, 111242, corresponds to the date Mackall died, Nov. 12, 1942.

Wheeler said Camp Mackall is the only Army installation named after an enlisted soldier.

Now a relatively austere camp, Wheeler said the installation has a lofty wartime past.

“Camp Mackall was an installation to behold, with over 65 miles of paved roads, a 1,200 bed hospital, two cantonment areas with five movie theaters, six beer gardens, a triangle-shaped airport with three 5k foot runways and a total of 1,750 buildings including three libraries and 12 chapels,” he said.

The camp was home to U.S. Army Airborne Command, which needed greater maneuver areas and airfields to train the expanding airborne and glider units.

All five U.S. Army airborne divisions have ties to Camp Mackall, officials said. The 11th, 13th and 17th Airborne Divisions were headquartered at the camp. Additionally, the 82nd Airborne Division and 101st Airborne Division at Fort Bragg trained at Camp Mackall.

Camp Mackall was home of the airborne and glider infantry for three-and-a-half years.

At the war’s end, Airborne Command moved to Fort Bragg. And a few years later, the Army began using Camp Mackall as a training location for a new kind of unit, Special Forces.

Drew Brooks can be reached at dbrooks@fayobserver.com 

(c)2018 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military (Airborne) Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Brando – Jersey City, NJ; US Navy, WWII / US Army, Korea

Francis Costello – Victoria, CAN; RC Army, WWII

Mike Dunsmore – MI; US Army, Vietnam, 1st Cavalry Division, Purple Heart

Cletis Eades – Grandview, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot

Makato Harano – Kealakekua, HI; US Army, WWII

Victor Klopping – Des Moines, IA; US Army, WWII

Henry ‘Hank’ Lee – Zanesville, OH; US Army, Vietnam, Corps of Engineers, Lt. Colonel (Ret), West Point grad

Joseph Orosz – Westlake, FL; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Roger H. Swartz – Palatine Bridge, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Medical/11th Airborne Division

Matthew Zieringer – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Major (Ret. 22 y.)

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79th U.S. Airborne Birthday

16 August,  National Airborne Day

The history of United States Airborne Forces did not begin on the training fields of Fort Benning, Georgia, as some believe. In fact, the origin of Airborne Forces in the U.S. military began with a familiar name to American military history, Brigadier General William L. “Billy” Mitchel (1879-1936).

As well as being considered the spiritual father of the United States Air Force, which he advocated for fiercely during his tenure in the military, BG Mitchell was the first to imagine airborne tactics and sought the creation of U.S. Airborne Forces.

BGeneral Billy Mitchell, the father of the U.S. Airborne


It is not recorded exactly when he organized a demonstration of Airborne Infantry for U.S., Russian and German observers. However, according to records
 at Ft. Benning, Georgia, it is confirmed that BG Mitchell held the demonstration “shortly after World War I” at Kelly Field, in San Antonio, Texas. During the demonstration, six soldiers parachuted from a Martin Bomber. After landing safely, the soldiers assembled their weapons and were ready for action in less than three minutes after they exited the aircraft.

11th Airborne Division, 1943 Yearbook

Reprinted and broadcast countless times, High Flight is regarded as one of the world’s great war poems and the greatest anthem of aviation. It is the official poem of the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. First year cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy are required to memorize it. Extracts have been quoted in a variety of occasions. The most famous example occurred on Jan. 28, 1986, when President Ronald Reagan, speaking of the Challenger, Space Shuttle disaster, closed his address with the sentence: “We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of Earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’”

11th A/B trooper Wiiliam Carlisle on the cover of “Yank”

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

of sun-split clouds, – and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,

I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air . . .

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

Where never lark nor even eagle flew –

And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

                                     – Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

11th Airborne Division Chapel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Military (Airborne) Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ATTA BOY!!

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Astin – Mise, MS; US Army, MSgt. # 39111 (Ret. 21 y.), 82nd & 101st Airborne, 187th RCT Airborne

Ronald Boyd Sr. – Massillon, OH; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division, Green Beret

Booby Frier – Lubbock, TX; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division

James Glidewell – Springfield, MO; US Army, Korea, MSgt. 187th Regimental Combat Team Airborne

William Herring  – Woodville, FL; US Army, 173rd Airborne Division

Scott A. Koppenhafer – Mancos, CO; USMC, Iraq, GySgt., Force Recon Marines, KIA

Frank Krhovsky – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

Archie McInnes (100) – UK; RAF, WWII, ETO, 601 & 238 Squadrons, pilot

Michael Wood – ID; US Army, MSgt., 7th Special Forces, Afghanistan / FBI

Thomas Yarborough – Jacksonville, FL; US Army, Korea, 187th Regimental Combat Team Airborne

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How Chocolate Helped To Win The War

Seventy-five years ago, more than 160,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day invasion.  And while we all know that day served as a huge turning point for the Allied cause, you probably haven’t thought much about what those soldiers carried with them to eat during and after the invasion.

Food had to be lightweight, nutritious and very high in energy; after all, these men were about to invade Nazi-occupied land.  As it so happens, the one substance that could fulfill all those requirements was a very unlikely it — a Hershey’s chocolate bar.

D ration chocolate bar

The Hershey Chocolate company was approached back in 1937 about creating a specially designed bar just for U.S. Army emergency rations.  According to Hershey’s chief chemist, Sam Hinkle, the U.S. government had just four requests about their new chocolate bars: (1) they had to weigh 4 ounces; (2) be high in energy; (3) withstand high temperatures; (4) “taste a little better than a boiled potato.”

The final product was called the “D ration bar,” a blend of chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, skim milk powder and oat flour.  The viscous mixture was so thick, each bar had to be packed into its 4-ounce mold by hand.

As for taste, well – most who tried it said they would rather have eaten the boiled potato.  The combination of fat and oat flour made the chocolate bar a dense brick, and the sugar did little to mask the overwhelmingly bitter taste to the dark chocolate.  Since it was designed to withstand high temperatures, the bar was nearly impossible to bite into.

Troopers had to shave slices off with a knife before they could chew it.  And despite the Army’s best efforts to stops the men from doing so, some of the D-ration bars ended up in the trash.

Tropical chocolate bar

Later in the war, Hershey introduced a new version, known as the Tropical bar, specifically designed for extreme temperatures of the Pacific Theater.  By the end of the war, the company had produced more than 3 billion ration bars.

Soldier with a Tropical bar

But “Hitler’s Secret Weapon”, as many infantrymen referred to the chocolate bar, was hardly the only candy in the D-Day rations.  Candy was an easy way to pep up the troops, and the quick burst of energy provided by sugar was a welcome addition to kit bags.

Along with the D rations, troops received 3 days worth of K ration packs.  These were devised more as meal replacements and not sustenance snacks like the D rations, and came complete with coffee, canned meats, processed cheese and tons of sugar.  The other chocolate companies would soon join in with the production.

Cadbury ration bar

At various points during the war, men could find powdered orange or lemon drink, caramels, chewing gum and of course – more chocolate!!  Along with packs of cigarettes and sugar cubes for coffee, the K ration packs provided plenty of valuable energy for fighting men.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

The Lost 52 Project has located the ‘late and presumed lost’ US submarine, USS Grunion off the Aleutian Islands.  She sunk with 70 crewmen on board during WWII.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reader’s Digest ‘Humor In Uniform’

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

George Beckwith – Ossipee, NH; US Army, WWII, ETO, US 6th Army / Korea, 187th/11th Airborne Division

Ralph Bennett – Ames, IA; US Army, WWII, CBI, KIA

Lonnie ‘L.D.’ Cook – OK; US Navy, WWII, Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona

Frederick Haberman (100) – Bloomfield, NJ; US Navy, WWII

Claude Honeycutt – Gadsden, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, P-47 pilot, 34 FS/437 Fighter Group

Roy A. Knight Jr. – Millsap, TX; US Air Force, Vietnam, Colonel, 602 Special Operations Squadron, KIA

Anthony Lewis Sr. – Watervliet, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

John McRoskey – San Diego, CA; US Army, WWII, Major, 515/13th Airborne

Myron Stone – Tacoma, WA; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Harry Walton Sr. – Allentown, PA; USMC, Korea

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You don’t need to be Superman to be a hero

Following his U.S. Army service in World War II, Thompson joined the Air Force, retiring with more than 20 years of service at the rank of major and earning his master’s degree. Courtesy of Jeremy P Amick

Growing up with dyslexia, James Thompson faced many challenges in his early learning experiences, which tempered his ambitions toward pursuing an education in future years.

Additionally, while in the eleventh grade in the fall of 1944, he received his draft notice and believed it to be the end of any formal education; instead, the military later provided the spirit and resources to earn a master’s degree.

“I was 18 years old when I received my draft notice for the U.S. Army and left Columbia by bus on October 20 (1944),” said the veteran. “When we arrived at Jefferson Barracks (St. Louis), we were given another physical, issued our uniforms and the next morning put on a train to Camp Crowder.”

For the next few weeks, he underwent his basic training followed by lineman training, instruction as a radio operator and cryptographic training.

“The first sergeant came and got me and said there’s a guy (in civilian clothes) who wants to interview you,” Thompson said. “After that, I was in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)—the forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),” he added.

Serving as “the first organized effort by the United States to implement a centralized system of strategic intelligence,” the OSS was established on June 13, 1942 and conducted many covert functions such as receiving and decoding enemy communications.

In the summer of 1945, Thompson received orders for overseas service. He took a train to California and, from there, sailed aboard a troop ship to the island of Eniwetok. His journey ended with his arrival at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, where he spent the next several months as a cryptographer.

General William J. Donovan reviews Operational Group members in Bethesda, Maryland prior to their departure for China in 1945.

“The OSS was disbanded because the war was over,” said Thompson. “I can remember that in late November 1945, there were about six of us transferred from the Philippines to Tokyo, Japan, at the headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur who was there as oversight for the occupational forces.”

The veteran explained that he was part of a group who processed messages sent to and from Sixth Army and MacArthur’s headquarters. While there, he was later promoted to sergeant and placed in charge of the code room, which had the responsibility of decoding message traffic.

While in Japan, his enlistment expired but he chose to remain there as a civilian to continue the work he enjoyed at McArthur’s headquarters. However, in June 1947, he returned to the United States and was able to enroll in college at the University of Missouri despite having not completed his high school education a few years earlier.

MacArthur and the Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, at their first meeting, September 1945

“In 1951, I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology,” recalled Thompson. “While I was at MU, I was informed that since I had held the rank of sergeant in the Army, I could complete one semester of ROTC and qualify for commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force upon graduation.”

The former soldier began his Air Force career as an officer when assigned to Bangor, Maine, administering entrance exams for new recruits and draftees. It was here that he met the former Barbara Longfellow while taking courses at the University of Maine and the two soon married. The couple went on to raise three sons.

From there, he was briefly transferred to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, before receiving assignment to Wheelus Air Base in Tripoli, Libya, spending time as an administrative officer for the 580th Air Materiel Assembly Squadron.

Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, United States – 20 Feb 1995

 

“I became the adjutant for the base administrative officer at Selfridge Field (Michigan) in 1959,” he explained. “I made captain while I was there and then became the administrative officer and later commander for the 753rd Radar Station at Sault St. Maria, Michigan.”

He would later attend the first class of the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington D.C., as the various military service branches learned to combine their intelligence gathering capabilities.

From 1962 to 1966, he was stationed in Ramstein, Germany, gathering intelligence on the Soviet air capabilities.

In Germany, he took courses through the University of Southern California, earning his master’s degree in systems management. He was then transferred to Little Rock, Arkansas, for a year followed by his assignment to Vietnam. During the war, he was stationed in Nha Trang and briefed pilots prior to their aerial missions.

“I was given my base of choice when returning to the states in 1969, so I chose Whiteman Air Force Base,” said Thompson. “I spent the last few months of my career there and retired as a major with 20 years, 1 month and 1 day of service,” he grinned.

Whitman Air Force Base

His military career, he explained, was a collection of unique experiences that did not follow a linear path. As a child, he further noted, he would never have imagined the opportunity for an advanced education or the option of pursuing his interest of becoming a member of the military.

“When I was younger, the military was something I always wanted to do and I never believed I could join the Army or Air Force because of my dyslexia,” he said. “My ambitions weren’t all that high as a child but then I was drafted, I encountered people who I admired and inspired me to achieve.”

He concluded, “When it was all said and done, I not only got to serve both in the Army and Air Force, but this young man,” he said, pointing to himself, “who didn’t finished high school, was able to earn a master’s degree … all because of the military.”

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Military Humor –

Navigator to pilot… navigator to pilot… HALP !!

Two other CBI newspapers for the troops.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Elizabeth Birkhimer – Greenfield, IL; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Robert Dean – NY; US Navy, WWII, PBY pilot

James Fraser – Stratford, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Richmond

Margaret Goodell – Taplin Hill, VT; US Army WAC, WWII, 2nd Lt.

William Hunter – Knoxville, TN; US Army, WWII/ Korea

Warren Kepner – Harrisburg, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Benjamin Neal – Norfolk, VA; US Army, WWII

Lowell Rutherford – Battle Creek, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, 113 SeaBees

Richard Sprague – Dewey, OK; US Navy, WWII, USS Indianapolis

Joe Varela – Norwalk, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co./187th/11th Airborne Division

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OSS Unit 101 – American/Kachin Rangers

OSS Unit 101

After the withdrawal of the two Chinese divisions back to China, from Burma, ordered by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, this left a large void in the area in which they operated. The British were unable to fill the area with troops vacated by the Chinese and thus the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Detachment 101 was tasked the mission with its “Kachin Rangers,” numbering 10,800 indigenous soldiers at the time, at full strength, comprising four (4) battalions.

During most of the unit’s existence, it funded and coordinated various resistance groups made up of the Kachin people of northern Burma. The best known resistance force was known as the Kachin Rangers and was under the command of Carl F. Eifler, though often the term Kachin Rangers has been used to describe all Kachin Forces raised during the war by the Americans in Northern Burma.

Carl F. Eifler, (second from the left)

In July 1942, twenty OSS men moved in and set up headquarters at Nazira in the northeastern Indian province of Assam.  No operations of any significance occurred until the end of 1942. Starting in 1943, small groups or individuals were parachuted behind Japanese lines to remote Kachin villages, followed by a parachute supply drop. The Americans then began to create independent guerrilla groups of the Kachin people, calling in weapons and equipment drops. In December 1943 Stilwell issued a directive that Detachment 101 increase its strength to 3,000 guerrillas. They were recruited from within Burma, many of them “fierce Kachins”.

Once established, the groups undertook a variety of unconventional missions. They ambushed Japanese patrols, rescued downed American pilots, and cleared small landing strips in the jungle. They also screened the advances of larger Allied forces, including Merrill’s Marauders.

Unit 101, American/Kachin Rangers

The first United States unit to form an intelligence screen and organize and employ a large guerrilla army deep in enemy territory.

They pioneered the unique art of unconventional warfare, later incorporated as fundamental combat skills for our Army Special Forces (Green Berets). They have been credited with the highest “kill/loss ratio” for any infantry-type unit in American military history.

Capt. Charles Coussoule of the OSS American/Kachin Rangers was known to his men as “Col. Greek”. On his way home!

The Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation award to Department 101 says in part:  The courage and fighting spirit displayed by its officers and men in offensive action against overwhelming enemy strength reflect the highest tradition of the armed forces of the United States,” signed Dwight D. Eisenhower, Chief of Staff, January 17, 1946. He was of the opinion that Detachment 101 performed in an outstanding manner, one of the most difficult and hazardous assignments that any military unit had ever been called upon to perform.

SUMMARY OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS

 

Total Det. 101 personnel
Officers
Enlisted men
250
750
Highest guerrilla strength 10,800
Espionage agents with radios 162
U.S. personnel killed, all causes 27
Native personnel killed 338
Espionage agents 40
Japanese killed 5,400
Additional Japanese estimated killed or wounded 10,000
Japanese captured 78
Bridges demolished 57
Trains derailed 9
Vehicles destroyed – captured 272
Supplies destroyed – captured – tons 15,000
Allied men rescued 425
Intelligence furnished to Northern Combat Command (NCAC) 85%

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News –

  1. NATIONAL COAST GUARD DAY. National Coast Guard Day on August 4 celebrates and honors the courageous work of the service members of Coast Guard. The United States Coast Guard is one of the five US Armed Forces. It is a maritime, military and multi-missioned service. It operates under the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime.

    2. This month of August is dedicated to paying our respects to all the brave men and women wounded or killed in combat. The official Purple Heart Day is observed on the 7th day of August each year, commemorating the historic day in 1782 that General George Washington, Commander-In-Chief of the Continental Army, commissioned the first Purple Heart Medal, originally called the Badge of Military Merit

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Military Humor – 

WWII newspaper

Reaction to V-J Day

 

Marines’ introduction to Chinese peddlers.
(By Sgt. Roland G. James USMCR.)

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jimmie Calder – Pensacola, FL; US Navy, WWII, / US Army, Korea & Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret 22 y.)

Howard Davis – Bono, AR; US Army, WWII, PTO

Don Erwin – IN; US Army, WWII, SSgt.

Ivan Graves – Rose City, MI; US Navy, WWII, USS Cleveland

Florence Huntzicker – Chicago, IL; Civilian, US Army Regional Office, WWII

Chris Kraft Jr. – Phoebus, VA; NASA Houston Control Director for Moon landings

William Krysak – Forsyth, GA; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Edward McCaffrey – Bronx, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO

Shirley (Miller) Niedzwiecki – AUS, Women’s RA Air Force, WWII

Patrick Simpson – Eugene, OR; US Army, Vietnam, 1st Calvary Div., Silver Star, (Ret. 26 y.)

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U.S. Marines in China – Part IV – conclusion

By early 1947, it was clear that General Marshall’s effort to reconcile the Nationalists and communists was an utter failure. As a result, President Truman ordered all U.S. military home, but the disengagement was going to be a long and tedious one. Units were shifted around and finally withdrawn. It was clear that Chiang’s government was going to fall.

The last and greatest clash between American Marines and the Chinese communists took place the night of April 4-5, 1947. Mao’s forces, now dubbed the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), attacked an ammunition dump at Hsin Ho that was guarded by Marines. The Americans were heavily outnumbered; the attacking force was estimated at about 350 men.

The night’s quiet was broken by the shrill notes of a Chinese bugle call. It was the PLA’s style to blow bugles when launching an offensive. This same technique would be used later in the Korean War. Five Marines were killed in the initial assault, and the rest were hard pressed to keep the enemy at bay. The PLA commander had anticipated that American reinforcements would be sent, so he placed a mine in the road where relief would be expected at any moment.

The bodies of two dead communist soldiers killed in a skirmish at Hsin Ho in April 1947 attest to the ferocity of such incidents.

Sure enough, a truck bearing a relief force made its way up the road and promptly hit the mine. The relief men jumped off the truck, and a sharp firefight ensued. The issue was in doubt several times, but the Marines finally gained the upper hand. Once again communist forces broke off the action and faded into the darkness. The enemy did manage to make off with some ammunition boxes, which seemed to be one of their main goals in the raid.

Private Stevens also had his share of adventure. He joined a small mission—only a handful of Marines—to try and rescue some nuns and Chinese orphan children in a remote place called Loh Shan. The mission failed because the nuns refused to leave. But worse was to follow. Stevens and his party were captured by bandits. All were executed, but Stevens was spared apparently because he knew Chinese.

Stevens was promptly turned over to a communist officer from the 8th Route Army. He became a prisoner with a Chinese character tattoo ID inked on his arm. Before long he found himself in a work gang on a coal storage island. The prisoners’ main job was to shovel coal to flat-bottomed boats moored along the shore.

“Mao was preparing for a major naval assault against the Nationalists,” Stevens says today, “and his ships needed coal to run their steam engines.” It was backbreaking work, but luckily he was transferred to help fishermen work their nets. He had to escape, had to get back to his unit. After some careful deliberation, he hatched an acceptable if risky plan. He would skull out in a small boat, pretending to check the nets that were farthest out.

Once in position, he would dive into the water and hopefully get picked up by a passing junk. It all unfolded as planned, except the water proved bitterly cold.  A junk did indeed pick him up, and friendly Chinese crewmen pulled him out of the water half dead with cold. Later, the junk was intercepted by a U.S. destroyer. He was free!

In November 1948, the U.S. embassy issued a statement that declared any American citizen “who does not wish to remain in North China should plan to leave at once by United States Naval vessel at Tientsin.” By the end of the month, consular personnel, the remaining American civilians, and military dependents were being shipped out. The American presence in China, which dated to the first Yankee traders who sailed to Canton in the 1780s, was coming to an abrupt end. There would be no more contact with China until President Richard Nixon’s visit in 1972.

By the spring of 1949, the total withdrawal of American military forces was almost complete. In February of that year, the U.S. Marine Corps Air Facility at Tsingtao was disbanded. All the ground equipment was removed, and the planes of fighter squadron VMF-211 took off for their new home, the escort carrier Rendova. On May 25, 1949, Company C/ 7th Marines, the last remaining American unit on Chinese soil, departed Tsingtao.  It was truly the end of an era.

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Military Humor – 

 

“ONE OF THESE DAYS THEY’RE NOT GOING TO FINISH ON TIME.”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jack Burnett – Seattle, WA; US Army, Korea, 1st Calvary Division

Charles Clement – Redmond, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Company B/511/11th Airborne Division

Josephine Hopp – North Olmstead, OH; US Army Air Corps WAC, WWII, Medical Tech.

Louie Jordon – Saratoga Springs, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBee, USS Unimak (seaplane tender)

Paul Kelley – Evansville, IN; US Army, WWII, PTO, TSgt., Signal Corps

Leo Maroney – Kansas City, KS; USMC, WWII, 3/1st Marine Division

Robert Paynter – Mineral Point, WI; US Army, WWII, 139 Engineers/17th Airborne Division

Thomas Peatross – Mechanicville, VA, US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Cpl., 320 Bomb Group

Myron Stone – Orem, UT; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

John Tort Sr. – Newark, NJ; US Merchant Marines, WWII

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U.S. Marine Corps in China – part III

American officers of the 6th Marine Division inspect Japanese soldiers at Tsingtao airfield. As Japanese soldiers were repatriated from China after World War II ended, some remained to guard rail lines against sabotage or disruption caused by the reemergence of civil war in China.

Clashes between the Marines and communist Chinese insurgents started to occur and eventually became almost routine. The communists tried to sabotage the railroad tracks, and sometimes they would snipe at passing trains. In the clash later known as the Kuyeh Incident, the communists ambushed a train that was traveling from Tangshan to Chinwangtao. This was a special train carrying General Dewitt Peck, commander of the Marine 1st Division, and a Marine inspection team. The communists opened fire from the village of Kuyeh, only 500 yards from the railroad track.

A firefight erupted that lasted the better part of three hours. Air support was called in, but Marine pilots could not clearly distinguish where communist forces were lurking. There was a fear of hitting civilians too, so permission to open fire was denied. A relief force was dispatched from the 7th Marines, but when they arrived the communists had melted away into the countryside.

American troops and Chinese laborers who have been repairing a rail line take cover as they come under fire during an attack by communist soldiers between Tientsin and Chinwangtao in November 1945.

The train stayed overnight at Kuyeh, but when it started again the next day it was found the communists had torn up about 400 yards of railroad track. When Chinese railroad crews tried to repair the line, they were ambushed by waiting communist troops. General Peck gave up trying to reach Chinwangtao by rail. He turned back to Tangku and took a flight on an observation plane instead.

The incident showed how firm a grip the Chinese communists had on the province. General Peck felt a Nationalist offensive was needed to clear the vital rail links from communist interference. Peck contacted General Tu Li-Ming, who was in control of the Northeast China Command, to arrange such a sweep. Tu readily agreed but requested that Marines guard all large rail bridges between Tangku and Chinwangtao, a distance of about 135 miles. That way, more Chinese Nationalist troops would be freed up for the offensive.

Gradually the Marines began to realize their mission was morphing into something quite different than the original assignment. Private Stevens almost got into a fight when he mentioned that their main mission was to repatriate the Japanese. Hearing this, a fellow Marine exploded in anger. “Don’t give me that bullshit!” he said forcefully, “Marines are in North China to support Chiang’s regime.”

Many Marines also started to realize that Chiang’s government was so corrupt it was beyond saving. American servicemen were appalled by the extreme poverty they saw all around them, the careless indifference to human life, and practices like selling young Chinese girls into sexual slavery in brothels.  Almost anything seemed better than the current government.

In 1946, the Marine forces in China were substantially reduced. The 6th Marine Division was disbanded, and the forces in Tsingtao were whittled down to a reinforced brigade. The Japanese repatriation was going well, ironically “helped” by the growing communist presence. Japanese nationals, both military and civilian, had no wish to be subject to the tender mercies of any Chinese, but they particularly feared the communists. As communist forces like the 8th Route Army advanced, the Japanese packed up and headed for Tsingtao, the main embarkation port. 

During a meeting in China in 1945, Communist leader Mao Tse-tung climbs aboard a Jeep that is carrying U.S. Ambassador Patrick Hurley and American Colonel I.V. Yeaton.

The clashes between Marines and communist Chinese insurgents seemed to grow in number and seriousness. On July 13, 1946, communist raiders surprised and captured seven Marines who were guarding a railroad bridge. After some negotiations the leathernecks were released on July 24, but the communists adamantly demanded an “apology” from the U.S. government for “invading” a “liberated” area. The U.S. government ignored this posturing and issued its own strong protest in return.

Just a few days later, on July 29, 1946, a Marine convoy heading from Tientsin to Peiping was ambushed at Anping. The column consisted of cargo trucks, jeeps, and some U.S. Army staff cars carrying personnel bound for the Chinese capital. Second Lieutenant Douglas A. Corwin led the escort, which consisted of 31 men from the 1st Battalion and a 10-man 60mm mortar section from the 1st Marines. There were also some Marine replacements with the column.

The Marine convoy encountered a roadblock of oxcarts, so Corwin and an advance party went forward to investigate. Suddenly, a dozen hand grenades were thrown from some nearby bushes. Given no time to react or take cover, Corwin and the men immediately around him were all killed or wounded.

U.S. Marines in China 1946

The convoy truckers and other personnel immediately jumped out of their vehicles and took cover. The convoy seemed to be trapped and was taking heavy fire from the right, left, and rear. Platoon Sergeant Cecil Flanagan now took command and ably directed return fire. The communists were apparently surprised that the column had mortars, and their attack plans were thrown off balance by well-directed rounds.

Every time the communists tried to mount an attack on the convoy, their troop concentrations were spotted before they could get far. Once spotted, the 60-mm mortars went to work, lobbing round after round into enemy positions. The communists became so disoriented by this mortar fire that a Marine jeep from the rear managed to break through and go for help. The column did have radios, but unfortunately they had limited range.

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Military Humor –

NEWSPAPER FOR U. S. ARMED FORCES IN THE CHINA THEATER OF OPERATIONS OF WORLD WAR II

Issue published: 11 Sept. 1945

 

Issue published 18 Sept. 1945

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Roy Andrews – South Bend, IN; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt., Medical Tech

Bill Burdette Sr. – Tuppers Creek, WV; US Army,

William Errington – Edwn, NY; US Navy, WWII

Norman Honie – Second Mesa, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Robert Morgenthau – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII / Manhattan District Attorney

Bill Parham – Kingfisher, OK; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt., Corps of Engineers

James G. Sartor – Teaque, TX; US Army, Afghanistan (7 deployments), Sgt. Major, 2/10th Special Forces, KIA

John Paul Stevens – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, Naval Intelligence / Supreme Court Justice

Joseph Toth – CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 tail gunner

William Henry Webster Sr. – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Major, 8 SQ/3 AG/ 5th Air Force, Silver Star, 2 Purple Hearts

Cecil Williams – Baton Rouge, LA; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division

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The U.S. Marine Corps in China – part II

China 1945

In the meantime, the 29th Marine Regiment, 6th Division was supposed to have landed at Chefoo, but plans had to be changed. The communists had already seized the city, and they were extremely uncooperative. And so it was that young private Stevens and the 29th Marines found themselves at Tsingtao (now Qingdao), a port on China’s Yellow Sea coast.

In the early afternoon of October 11, 1945, the first Marines landed at Tsingtao. When the main body arrived on October 15, they were given a tumultuous welcome by the Chinese population. Private Stevens tried to learn a few words of Chinese on the trip. When Colonel Roston, the battalion commander, heard that Stevens “knew Chinese”—a great exaggeration —he appointed the young leatherneck as official interpreter. Stevens did his best, even though all he knew were a few stock phrases like, “Do you have your own rice bowl?”

Marines in China

Tsingtao was a fascinating city, but some aspects took some getting used to. Ragged beggars swarmed through the streets, a number that included many impoverished children. In fact, Private Stevens’ own outfit, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 29th Marines, unofficially adopted a little Chinese beggar who they nicknamed “Little Lew.” He was cleaned, fed, and dressed in cut-down Marine uniform items.

But elsewhere in China the news was not so heartwarming. Chiang had made a major tactical mistake that would ultimately cause his regime to collapse. The generalissimo concentrated on winning back Manchuria, in the process withdrawing many of his troops from northern China. This created a power vacuum that the communist Chinese were all too happy to fill. Tsingtao became a Nationalist “island” in a communist-dominated Shantung Province “sea.”

Even in Hubei Province the communists were suspicious and generally uncooperative. Marine Brig. Gen. William Worton had a meeting with Zhou En-lai, later famous as Mao’s right hand man and foreign minister for the People’s Republic of China. Zhou was a brilliant diplomat, and he made it clear that the communists would fight hard to prevent the Marines from entering Peiping.

Worton was not intimidated, even after a stormy hour with Zhou. He pointed out that the IIIAC was a battle-hardened unit with superior air power support. He was not looking for trouble, but his Marines could push through any opposition if they had to. Zhou En-lai had met his match, and he withdrew after insisting he would have Marine orders “changed.” The Marines arrived in Peiping without major incident.

American Marines armed with a Browning .30-caliber water-cooled machine gun and other light weapons pose during efforts to evacuate former Japanese Army personnel after their surrender in China following World War II.

The formal surrender of the 10,000-man Tsingtao Japanese garrison took place on October 25, 1945. The whole Marine 6th Division was on hand for the ceremony, conducted by division commander Maj. Gen. Lemuel Shepard and Chinese Nationalist General Chen Chao-Tsang. However, some Japanese troops were still needed to help keep the major rail lines open in Shantung. There were not enough Marines or Nationalist troops to guard all the railroads.

Even so, Marines often found themselves in the role of train guards, one of the most dangerous assignments in China. Winters were bitterly cold in China, and the great city of Shanghai, a metropolis of three million souls, needed a constant stream of northern coal to keep it going. Shanghai needed 100,000 tons of coal a month, so Marine riflemen, shivering from the icy blasts than swept in from the Gobi Desert, stood guard to keep the trains running. 

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Jacob Alphen – Green Valley, AZ; US Navy, WWII

Gerald Bruno – North Andover, MA; US Army, Korea, 82nd Airborne Division

Greg Farison – Columbia, SC; US Army, Vietnam, 1st Cavalry Division

John Gill – Huron, OH; US Navy, WWII & Korea, Lt. Commander

Charles Jackson – Camillus, NY; Merchant Marines, WWII / US Army, Korea

Cecilia Krulikowski – Yeadon, PA; US Army WAC, WWII, Medical Tech, ETO

Ervin Licko – Chicago, IL; USMC, WWII & Korea

Ian Michie – Toronto, CAN; RC Navy, WWII & Korea

Allen Penrod – Dunmor, KY; US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, CMSgt. (Ret. 29 y.)

Richard Wenneson – Fredericksburg, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/511/11th Airborne Division

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The U.S. Marine Corps in China – part I

Marines in China

On September 2, 1945, Japanese representatives boarded the battleship USS Missouri. World War II had been brought to a swift conclusion. To the men of the III Marine Amphibious Corps (IIIAC), already training for the proposed invasion of Japan, this was welcome news indeed.

The leathernecks knew that an invasion of the Japanese home islands would have been bloody.  Now the nightmare seemed over, and the Marines looked forward to returning to the States.

But instead of going home, the IIIAC Marines found that they were going to be sent to China instead. This was a bitter disappointment for many, but some actually looked forward to an adventure in the Far East. Private Harold Stevens of the 29th Marines was thrilled that he was not going back to his family’s farm in Pennsylvania. He was only 19 but was already a veteran of the bloody battles that secured Okinawa.

To many Americans of Stevens’ generation, China was still the land of mystery and romance, of exotic sights and beautiful women. It was a place that had enthralled Marco Polo. Now Stevens, a farm boy, was about to be sent there. He could hardly believe his good fortune.

Chiang Kai shek

The story of the postwar Marine involvement in China is interesting but anything but romantic. It began when Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, leader of China during World War II, requested American help in securing northern China. There were more than two million Japanese there who had to be repatriated to Japan, including a substantial number of soldiers. But Chiang was also thinking of his chief rival, Communist leader Mao Zedong. The communists were particularly strong in the north. With American help, directly or indirectly, Chiang hoped to seize the important cities of northern China before the communists could gain control.

While the U.S government did help transport Chiang’s Nationalist troops to various locations, in general the American military was to maintain strict neutrality. In October 1945, the U.S. Fourteenth Air Force airlifted 50,000 men of the 92nd and 94th Chinese Nationalist Armies to Peiping (Beijing) and other key strategic points. While “cooperating” with Chiang and the Nationalists, the Americans thought they could bring about a permanent peace in China.

In fact, on November 1945, President Harry Truman appointed Gen. George C. Marshal as a special representative to mediate the differences between the communists and Nationalists. Truman felt it was in the most “vital interest” of the United States and all the United Nations that the people of China overlook no opportunity to adjust their internal differences promptly through peaceful negotiation.

Gen. George C. Marshall

American foreign policy over the last 70 years has often been based on naïve thinking and well-meaning blundering. There is an underlying assumption that Americans have the “know how” to solve the insoluble. Deep cultural, religious, ethnic, and political differences are all too often downplayed or ignored in favor of an optimism that is almost always misplaced.

Such was the case in Vietnam, and such was the case in China from 1945-1949. The Truman administration was certain that General Marshall could negotiate a lasting peace between the bitterest of enemies, foes who mistrusted each other and who were stalling for time to gain a decisive advantage over their rivals. As a result, the Marine IIIAC was left “holding the bag,” trying to maintain a precarious neutrality in the face of a swiftly deteriorating situation.

A pair of communist soldiers read a broadside describing a plan for reconciliation in post-World War II China that has been put forward by General George C. Marshall, U.S. Army Chief of Staff.

In fairness, there were some “Old China hands” in the State Department who recognized that the Chinese government was riddled with corruption and warned the Truman administration accordingly. They were ignored. Though Chiang was no “prize,” he was anti-communist, and that’s all that seemed to matter. The Cold War was starting and with it a new “Red Scare” that communism would spread throughout the world.

The Marine IIIAC Corps headquarters together with the 1st Marine Division would occupy positions in and around Tangku, Tientsin, Peiping, and Chingwangtao in Hopeh Province. Air Support would be provided by the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing flying Grumman F7F Tigercats and other planes. The airmen would be stationed at airfields in the Tsingtao, Tientsin, and Peiping areas.

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Military Humor – 

 

It’s his discharge papers.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ernest Bernard – Ackley, IA; US Navy, WWII

“THE LAST TRIP”

Walter Brown Jr. – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

Adam Cho – Honolulu, HI; US Army, WWII & Korea

Leonard Gustafson – Columbia, SD; US Army Air Corps, WWII / US Coast Guard

Charles Hasper – Denver, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 tail gunner

Jerry Kaschak – Castle Shannon, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Robert Parker – MA; US Army, WWII, APO

Howard Reynolds – Fort Worth, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Recon/11th Airborne Division

Herman ‘Bud’ Schwabl – Canandaigua, NY; USMC, WWII

Douglas Willson – Markham, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, # 10 Squadron

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Personal Comment –

I have been under the weather, so please bear with me as I am trying to continue my on-line presence as usual as possible.  I seem to have had the need to become quite acquainted with my couch.

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