Category Archives: First-hand Accounts

11th Airborne Medic

Combat Medic pin

Leaving out all the bloody and boring bits, being an 11th Airborne Medic wasn’t all that bad ___ by: Ray Sweet, Medical Detachment/ 152nd Airborne Anti Aircraft Battalion/ 11th Airborne Division

Starting late 1945 and leaving out the bloody and boring bits, being and 11th Airborne Medic wasn’t all that bad.  The officers handled medics with silk gloves because they knew from who cometh their future immune booster injections as ordered by the higher command.

Medics ate better than most.  The cooks all knew who had the 190-proof alcohol to put in that lousy canned grapefruit juice.

Airborne Medic

They never had bed checks, curfews and all that other crap (like standing guard over a useless pile of junk that no one in their right mind would ever dream of stealing.)  They had a good life.

Sergeants were never a bother.  They all knew their battery could always stand for a short arm inspection.  It was actually quite nice to be a medic.  If the captain said trooper Jones must do something yucky and a medic said he was not able, trooper Jones didn’t do it.

Playing cards with the geishas while on pro station duty was rather pleasant.  It was a fun way for them to meet a lot of friendly girls.

When, as a courier transporting drugs from base hospitals to battalion, they had a rail care just like a general.

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Military Medic Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Corona Shortages – 

Contrary to popular belief, duct tape does NOT fix ALL problems !!!!

 

Duct tape toilet paper

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Farewell Salutes – 

Bob Bechtold – Martinsville, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Sgt. # 194GIF/ Medical Tech, 1/17th Airborne, Bronze Star

Thomas G. Delaney – Hartford, CT; US Army, Vietnam, 173rd A/B, 10th Special Forces A/B Group, Major (Ret. 20 y.)

THANK YOU

William Frankland (108) – Battle, England; Royal Army Medical Corps, WWII, CBI, POW, doctor/researcher

Richard Griffin – Franklin, NH; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division

Douglas L. Hickok – Norman Air Force Base, OK; US Army, Captain, Medical Corps

Donald D. Johnson – Clarkston, MI; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division, (Ret. 21 y.)

James B. Morrison – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Korea, Medical Corps/187th RCT

Edmound M. Parker – Ahoskie, NC; US Army, Medical Corps/188/11th Airborne Division

Don Schweitzer – Los Angeles, CA; US Merchant Marines, WWII / US Army, Japan Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

Bill Withers – Beckley, WV; US Navy / Douglas Aircraft / singer

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Clemson U. honors Ben Skardon (102)

‘Ben’ Skardon

Clemson University will award its highest honor, the Clemson Medallion, to two distinguished alumni — Professor Emeritus Beverly “Ben” Skardon and Trustee Emeritus Allen Price Wood. Skardon and Wood will be honored at a presentation ceremony in February 2020. Skardon, who lives in Clemson, is a native of Walterboro. His brother, Jimmy Skardon, still lives here.

Clemson University President James P. Clements said he is proud that the university is honoring Skardon and Wood for their leadership and contributions to the university. “Both of these men have helped shaped the university in important ways,” said Clements. “Col. Skardon made a lasting impact by teaching countless students during his career on the faculty, and students are being educated every day in buildings that Allen Wood designed. It is safe to say that our university would not be what it is today without these two outstanding leaders.”

Ben Skardon in Army dress greens, formal photo in 1938 Clemson University TAPS yearbook.

Skardon, 102, is a 1938 Clemson graduate and veteran of the U.S. Army. He fought in the Philippines in World War II, earning two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for valor before becoming a prisoner of war when American troops were forced to surrender to the Japanese April 9, 1942. Skardon lived through one of the most infamous ordeals of World War II, the Bataan Death March, and survived for more than three years in Japanese prison camps despite becoming deathly ill.

Two fellow Clemson alumni, Henry Leitner and Otis Morgan, kept him alive by spoon-feeding him and eventually trading his gold Clemson ring — which he had managed to keep hidden — for food. It is a story now told at every Clemson ring ceremony, when Clemson seniors receive their class rings. Leitner and Morgan did not survive the war. Skardon honors them every year by walking in the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Ben Skardon, at 99, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, walks in the annual Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, accompanied by two Army medics, March 19, 2017. This was the tenth time Skardon walked in the march, and he is the only survivor of the real Bataan Death March who walks in the memorial march. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Ken Scar)

He is the only survivor of the real march who walks in the memorial march. Last year, at 101, he walked more than three miles through the desert to honor his friends. Skardon went on to serve in Korea in 1951-52 and retired from the Army at the rank of colonel in 1962. He joined the Clemson faculty in the department of English in 1964 and was named Alumni Master Teacher in 1977. He taught at Clemson until his retirement in 1983.

Skardon has received several honors from the university, including the Alumni Distinguished Service Award. In 2013 the university established the Skardon Clemson Ring Endowment, which helps fund the ring ceremony, and in 2016 the Memorial Stadium flagpole was dedicated in his honor.

On Skardon’s 100th birthday on August 11, 2017, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster presented him with the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest honor. In March 2018 Skardon received the Congressional Gold Medal honoring Filipino and American Veterans of World War II, which is one of the highest civilian awards in the United States.

 

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Blythe – Long Beach, CA; US Navy, WWII, ETO, minesweeper / PTO, USS Ticonderoga

Bruce Brigham – Fort Knox, KY; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Colonel, Quartermaster Corps

Alive Ferguson (99) – Williamsburg, VA; US Navy WAVES, nurse

Ruth (Baker) Gilbert – White Plains, NY; Civilian, aircraft riveter

Lyle Norquist – Thief River Falls, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Monroe Ozment – Rome, GA; USMC, PTO, Purple Heart

Nathan Rawson – Thompson, VA; US Army, WWII

Fred Reed – Gardendal, AL; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

Mary White – Perryville, MD; Civilian nurse’s aide

Al Worden – Jackson, MI; US Air Force / NASA astronaut, West Point Alum 1955

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Veterans Stories – The Atomic Marine

An eye-witness story concerning Desert Rock!

William R. Ablan, pen name of Richard L. Muniz

“They put us out in the middle of nowhere.” Sheriff Toby Madrid had his hands wrapped around a cup of black coffee, his feet up on the desk. The casual laid back attitude belied the tension in his jaw. He also wasn’t looking at JR or me as he spoke, but at the wall. It was almost that if he looked at us, he’d never finish talking about what he had to say.

“They told us we were there to be part of an atomic bomb test.”

welcometodesertrockThe test the Sheriff was talking about was part of what we know today as the Desert Rock Exercises.  My research seems to single him out for what was called Desert Rock IV, or a series of tests called Operation Tumbler-Snapper.

From 1951 to 1957, at the Nevada Proving Grounds, a small camp called Camp Desert Rock was built. Its job was…

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The Last Living Paratrooper from MacArthur’s return …..

Gen. Douglas MacArthur (l.) and Richard “Dick” Adams (r.)

Richard Adams describes General MacArthur as “quite a guy.”

In commemoration of the 75th year of World War II in the Philippines, one of its heroes returned. Richard “Dick” Adams visited Corregidor once again, but this time, he did not parachute out of a C-47 plane to land on the towering trees of the Rock. The 98-year-old understandably opted to ride a ferry.

He was recently, poignantly, at the MacArthur Suite of the Manila Hotel, in a room dedicated to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who led the American and Filipino troops in liberating the country from Japanese occupation. MacArthur actually stayed in that suite for six years, as Manila Hotel’s honorary general manager.

It was a time of fear across the country as Japanese forces ravaged Manila and the countryside. People clung to MacArthur’s words, “I shall return,” which he said after he was forced to abandon the Philippine island fortress of Corregidor under orders from U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt in March 1942. Left behind at Corregidor and the Bataan Peninsula were 90,000 American and Filipino soldiers, who, lacking food, supplies, and support, would soon succumb to the Japanese offensive.

‘Dick’ Adams

It was at this battered battleground that Adams, as a young paratrooper assigned to the HQ Company 3rd Bn in an 81 mm mortar platoon, arrived on February 16, 1945. He is the last surviving paratrooper of the group and he shares his memories of the wartime experience.

What he remembers the most about his Corregidor landing is the wind. “It was a beautiful day when we came in at about a thousand feet above the water and then the island came up 500 feet so we jumped in about four to five hundred feet,” he says. “And the wind was a little too hard so they dropped it down and once they came after us we were pretty close to the ground.”

The landing itself was over pretty quickly, but the wind blew him toward a cliff and not the golf course that he was aiming for. Luckily, he says, he landed on a tree and that kept him from going down further.

He thinks something else saved him that day. “I wear a Miraculous Medal that my mother gave me. The second day after my jump, I noticed that the medal was gone, it was torn off,” he says. “About a week after we went to Corregidor, we went up to the hill and there were so many flies. You couldn’t open a can and put it in your mouth. The flies were terrible because the battlefield was kind of a mess that encourages the flies. I went back down to the jump field to get a parachute to protect me from the flies and came back towards the hill. It came out of my hands and when I picked it up, I saw it.  There was my medal, in the middle of the field. So that was kind of a Miraculous Medal.”

PT-32, one of 4 boats used in the escape.

Adams spent a good part of the first day getting injured troopers to the first aid station. He was in Corregidor until early March, when General MacArthur returned. He was part of the border patrol, spending most of his time on the hills and further down, he recalls.

Although a young recruit at the time, having joined the troops only a few months prior to his assignment, he understood the significance of that tiny island.  “It was kind of a guard in Manila Bay. It has a kind of control on any ship that came in through there. It was mainly a field with a fortress where they control it,” he shares. “Also, it was the last place where the phrase ‘I shall return’ became significant because that’s where General MacArthur left from going to Australia and then he came back. It was important in a sense that it controls the Manila Bay, but it is also significant just because it was the last place that the Americans surrendered from.”

“It was a pretty scary place,” he says of wartime Philippines. “I joined a few months earlier, so I was kind of new in the game at that time. We were in Mindoro and I ended up in the hospital. After Corregidor, we ran in Negros, so we got around a little bit. We spent most of our time up in the woods.”

He has vivid memories of MacArthur. “We did meet once in a while. I was at the dock when he came in and, as a matter of fact, the first time I was back in Corregidor I was in the museum and I found a picture of myself that was standing on the dock where he and I met. So, I welcomed him, but I don’t think he knows. He was quite a guy.”

After the Negros campaign and occupation duty in Japan, Adams returned home and joined the National Guard as operations sergeant in the 165th Infantry and left 20 years after as a master sergeant. He obtained a law degree from St. John University and is retired from General Motors. He has two daughters, one of whom is an Air Force Captain.

Pictures are courtesy of Manila Hotel

 

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His first trip back to Corregidor was in 2012 and he described it as an emotional trip. “I like going back to Corregidor. It’s really an honor to be here. It’s a little embarrassing when there are people standing around taking pictures—the people you should be taking pictures of, they are not here. Some might be still in Corregidor. My whole climb to fame is that I was there and I’m still here,” he says.

Of his visit, he shares, “I’m doing these to honor those people, the Filipinos and Americans that defended the island and also those who on the 16th came back to Corregidor. I think we are honoring those not only who came back on the 16th but everyone who was left.”

By : esqiremag.com   |   Feb 18, 2020

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Military Humor – 

“Yes, sailor, we docked 2 days ago!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Margaret Adamchak – Bridgeport, CT; Civilian, WWII, Naval Dept. employee

John Dennis – Tucson, AZ; US Navy, WWII, radar, USS Rochambeau

Paul H. Gebser – San Diego, CA; US Navy, WWII, Machinist’s Mate 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

John Henry – Lugarno, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, pilot instructor

Benjamin Meo – Haddon Heights, NJ; USMC, WWII

Carl Overcash – Rowan County, NC; US Army, WWII, PTO

Augustin Polasek – MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, bomber pilot, Colonel (Ret.)

Andrew Schmitz – Richmond, VA; US Navy, WWII, fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Donald Stratton – Red Cloud, NE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Arizona survivor / USS Stack / author, “All the Gallant Men”

Charles Wion – La Junta, CO; US Navy, WWII, Signalman

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One Woman’s Contribution – Elaine Ooley

 

Happy birthday, Elaine! Weldon Spring woman turns 106

“I don’t want to grow old. So I don’t act like I’m old. I refuse to do that,” Elaine Ooely said

 

 

WELDON SPRING, Mo. — We want to wish a happy birthday to Elaine Ooley from Weldon Spring. She recently turned 106 !!

Elaine Ooley is the definition of resilient. Here’s a short version of her amazing life story. She weighed just one pound when she was born and wasn’t expected to survive.

When she was just 4 years old, she survived the 1918 influenza pandemic in America. She went on to graduate high school during the Great Depression. And after that, she served as an aircraft dispatcher in the women’s Army Corps.

Air Force veteran Elaine Ooley, looks up toward a bomb addressed to Hitler, and asked for a picture of it, inside of the World War II B-17 bomber on display at the Greater Kankakee Airport during the Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom tour. Ooley, was an aircraft dispatcher for B-17 planes stationed at the Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., in 1944.

She said living long is thanks to good genes and an even better attitude.

“My long life is due to the fact that I’m positive in my attitude,” she said. “I don’t want to give up. I don’t want to grow old. So, I don’t act like I’m old. I refuse to do that. And I keep up with all the news so I can converse and am a people person. So, I believe in keeping busy, not feeling sorry for yourself, not worrying about your condition, cope with it, do what you can, and go.”

She didn’t have children but has tons of friends who all lined up to wish her happy birthday at the Breeze Park Senior Living Community in Weldon Spring. She calls the people at Breeze Park her family.

Ms. Ooley takes shelter in a B-25 to get out of the rain on her 103rd Birthday.

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Military Humor – HOME FRONT “Saturday Evening Post” style

“WHAT THE HECK DID WE DO EVERY NIGHT BEFORE THE WAR?”

 

“Why so polite all of a sudden? Are you hearing Peace rumors?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ena Andrews – Richamond, CA; Civilian, WWII, Shipyard welder

Robert Griffith – Berwyn, IL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Wilma Gregory – MN; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

James “Hollie” Hollingsworth – Hephzibah, GA; USMC, Vietnam, !st Sgt. (Ret.)

Mary Horne – Fall River, MA; Civilian, Newport Naval Base, WWII

Katherine Johnson (101) – Civilian, NASA, Mathematician rocket trajectory expert

Betty Romesberg – Columbus, OH; US Army WAC; WWII, PTO, nurse

Peggy Simmons – Jonesville, NC; FBI, WWII

Morella Staggs – Gardenea, CA; US Coast Guard SPARS, WWII, radio

Edmund Torry – NYC, NY; USMC, 2nd Marine Division

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Restoring WWII with accuracy

TSF BP 382P HQ
Jeep of the Military Police, Theater Service Forces with complete unit markings. This photograph is most likely a post-war photograph taken during occupation duty.

I’ve created this post to help out a reader now restoring an authentic WWII 1942 Ford GPW.  I needed help myself – Matt Underwood, past Editor of  “The Voice of the Angels” newspaper of the 11th Airborne Division Association – and I’m proud to say –  my friend, came to my rescue. 

 

The only drawback to the Army Manual was that Airborne Divisions had not really developed at the time the text of this book was written, and therefore, the examples of actual vehicle markings on jeeps, etc., of Airborne Divisions are not among the samples/examples in the manual itself.  Armies, Corps, and Infantry Divisions, Armored Divisions, and Cavalry Divisions are covered, and all smaller units, but no Airborne Divisions.  Everything else about Airborne jeeps are the same as the rest of the Army, with the exception of distinguishing between, say, the 11th Armored Division and 11th Airborne Division.  Other than being in two different theaters of war, they are almost the same.

The world of military vehicles, especially American WWII stuff, is a growing field, as old junkers are discovered in barns, landfills, junkyards, and out in the woods, and collectors are buying them and restoring them.  When they get their special treasure all completed, they want total accuracy in these unique unit markings to add the final tough of authenticity.  So the number of websites featuring vehicle markings has grown rapidly over the past 10 years.

28-103E HQ-4
A jeep from the 103rd Engineer Combat Battalion, 28th Infantry Division photographed on a bridge somewhere in Europe. The unit bumper markings are applied according to regulations and designate the 4th vehicle of the Headquarters of 103rd Engineers, 28th Infantry Division. The windshield carries the addition marking “T4 Cole” in white.

http://www.classicjeeps.co.uk/american-vehicle-markings/

 

https://blog.kaiserwillys.com/military-jeep-markings

 

http://www.lonesentry.com/panzer/jeep-markings.html

 

http://jeepdraw.com/

 

https://g503.com/

 

http://www.kingtigerebooks.co.uk/p/world-war-ii.html

 

Now back to the last part of the problem.  The 11th Airborne Division, like other Airborne Divisions from 1942 to 1944, followed the Army’s Table of Organization & Equipment No. 71, dated 17 Feb 1942.  The A/B units in Europe and the States updated this TO&E in Dec 44, but not the 11th or 503rd…not till the early summer of ’45.  So almost all of the time the 11th was in combat, it had the same set-up for everything that it always had—at least on paper.    I do have a substitute source for part of the data, however, and here’s what I believe your reader will need to know.

11th A/B Div. repairs a truck in Japan

I think that for most of the War, MOST of the 11th Airborne’s jeeps and trucks bore vehicle markings like your sepia-colored photo of the jeep from the 188th.  Its bumper markings are important in solving this puzzle:

 

11AB..188-I…………SV8 = 11th Airborne, 188th Infantry, Service Company, 8th Vehicle

No one unit in a WWII airborne division would have such a high number of jeeps unless they were all numbered in a regiment-wide motor pool.

I have some proof that the 511th—being a Parachute Infantry Regiment—had probably all of its vehicles marked for its Service Company, as the motor pool for the whole regiment, which had 3 Parachute Inf. Battalions.  It is probable that the 187th and 188th, being Glider Infantry Regiments with only 2 Glider Inf. Battalions each, probably also had all its vehicles marked for its respective Service Cos., which had charge of the motor pool for the whole regiment.

The vehicle allowance for the motor pool of the 511th PIR, seems to TOTAL out as follows:  (1) Sedan; (2) Ambulances; (13) 1/4-ton Trucks (which are what Jeeps were usually referred to in official tables); (15) 3/4-ton Trucks; (16) 2-1/2 ton Trucks; and (14) 1-ton Trailers.  These totals are for the whole Regiment, but are internally divided between the Service Company’s “HQ Co. Squad”, its “1st Bn. Squad” and 2nd & 3rd Bn. Squads as well, and its own “Transportation Platoon”—-which would be maybe what we would think of as a vehicle “reserve”, or were the vehicles under current repair.  It probably allowed a flexibility that couldn’t be had otherwise.  What this tells me is that when Col. Haugen needed his staff car, his adjutant called the “motor pool” (the Service Company’s Transportation Platoon) and said “Bring around the Colonel’s staff car.”  Then the Colonel’s driver, a NCO from the Transportation Platoon’s “HQ Co. Squad” pulled his staff car up to the Colonel’s CP (command post) and waited.  Same with the Colonel’s jeep, etc.  When Lt.Col. John Strong, CO of 3rd Bn., needed his jeep, he or his adjutant called up the motor pool and ordered his jeep—-then a driver from the Transp. Platoon’s “3rd Bn. Squad” brought his jeep to Lt.Col. Strong’s CP and waited.  When I say “his jeep” it was likely the same one every time, but could be a substitute on any given occasion if the main jeep was getting repaired or cleaned, etc.  The pooling of all vehicles into the Service Company may have simply been the best idea to allow flexibility whenever a vehicle was needed on short notice.

From late 1940 to February 1945, markings were to be made in blue-drab. This type of color scheme would prevent enemy intelligence from gathering and identifying military markings as the two colors were hard to distinguish from one another when viewed in black and white photographs. The official color of these markings was changed to flat white in February 1945, but the reserves of blue-drab paint were used until exhausted.

In other words, ALL the jeeps and other vehicles would have Service Co. marks on the bumpers, regardless of who in the Regiment was using them.  Therefore, the 511th would have a fleet of jeeps marked SV1 through SV13.  I am GUESSING (for now) that the 187th and 188th had similar systems, which would explain your photo of a 188th jeep marked SV8.  I am guessing that if the system holds, the 188th was only allotted 9 jeeps total.

Anyway, I will get back to you on that.

As to 11th Division HQ, I’m not sure yet as to its markings.  Probably they had their own vehicles, but unsure as yet.  If so, Gen. Swing’s jeep would probably have been bumper marked like this:

11ABX………………..HQ1 = 11th Airborne Division, HQ Company, 1st Vehicle

As always, these are 3″ tall letters, and the center of the bumper may or may not have a star painted on—it is the US star for all vehicles, found all over most other big surfaces.  The bumpers often had them to start with, and as paint wore off and was repainted, sometimes the bumper stars were skipped, leading to the frequent blank space in the center where a star once was.

MATTHEW UNDERWOOD

Bookbinder/Conservator, Boyce Centennial Library,

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary;

Editor Emeritus, Voice of the Angels,

11th Airborne Division Association

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The 11th Airborne  uniform examples

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Military Humor –

Uuh… guys…?

 

 

11th A/B Div. repairs a truck in Japan

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Dominic “Mickey” Bria – Smithers, SC; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT ‘Rakkasans’

William Conklin – Stony Point, NY; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

George D’Arcy – Liverpool, ENG; British Army, WWII, ETO, CBI & Africa, 2/South Lancashire Regiment

Homer Godair – Griffithville, AR; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Scott Humbird – Brentwood, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Malaria Control Unit

Charles Pittman Sr. – Pensacola, FL; USMC, Vietnam, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Lt.General (Ret. 40 y.)

William Sartain – Mineral Wells, TX; US Merchant Marines, WWII, PTO

Mary Sweeney – Nanticoke, PA; US Army Air Corps WAC; WWII, Medical/Surgical Tech.

William Taylor – Grant, AL; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT “Rakkasans’

William Whiteman – Hood River, OR; US Navy, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Lt. Commander (Ret. 27 y.)

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The 4th Spy at Los Alamos – part 1 / Cindy Bruchmann book review

Last fall, a pair of historians revealed that yet another Soviet spy, code named Godsend, had infiltrated the Los Alamos laboratory where the world’s first atom bomb was built. But they were unable to discern the secrets he gave Moscow or the nature of his work.

However, the lab recently declassified and released documents detailing the spy’s highly specialized employment and likely atomic thefts, potentially recasting a mundane espionage case as one of history’s most damaging.

It turns out that the spy, whose real name was Oscar Seborer, had an intimate understanding of the bomb’s inner workings. His knowledge most likely surpassed that of the three previously known Soviet spies at Los Alamos, and played a crucial role in Moscow’s ability to quickly replicate the complex device. In 1949, the Soviets detonated a knockoff, abruptly ending Washington’s monopoly on nuclear weapons.

Stuart Seborer

The documents from Los Alamos show that Mr. Seborer helped devise the bomb’s explosive trigger — in particular, the firing circuits for its detonators. The successful development of the daunting technology let Los Alamos significantly reduce the amount of costly fuel needed for atomic bombs and began a long trend of weapon miniaturization. The technology dominated the nuclear age, especially the design of small, lightweight missile warheads of enormous power.

Mr. Seborer’s inner knowledge stands in contrast to the known espionage. The first Los Alamos spy gave the Soviets a bomb overview. So did the second and third.

Mr. Klehr, an emeritus professor of politics and history at Emory University, said the new information cast light on a furtive boast about the crime. Last fall, in the scholarly paper, the two historians noted that Mr. Seborer fled the United States in 1951 and defected to the Soviet bloc with his older brother Stuart, his brother’s wife and his mother-in-law.

Ship manifest

The paper also noted that an F.B.I. informant learned that a communist acquaintance of the Seborers eventually visited them. The family lived in Moscow and had assumed the surname Smith. The visitor reported back that Oscar and Stuart had said they would be executed for “what they did” if the brothers ever returned to the United States.

Last fall, the historians described the Seborers as a Jewish family from Poland that, in New York, became “part of a network of people connected to Soviet intelligence.” Both Oscar and Stuart attended City College, “a hotbed of communist activism,” the historians wrote.

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg

Stuart took a math class there in 1934 with Julius Rosenberg, they reported. In a notorious Cold War spy case, Mr. Rosenberg and his wife, Ethel, were convicted of giving the Soviets atomic secrets. In 1953 they were executed at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, N.Y., orphaning their two sons, ages 6 and 10.

The scholarly paper, written with John Earl Haynes, a former historian at the Library of Congress, appeared in the September issue of Studies in Intelligence. The journal, a C.I.A. quarterly, is published for the nation’s intelligence agencies as well as academic and independent scholars.

The Times’s article ran on Nov. 23, a Saturday. Four days later, a reporter sent the scholarly paper to Los Alamos and asked if the lab’s archive had any photos of Mr. Seborer or relevant documents.

Two weeks later, on Dec. 10, the lab emailed 10 pages of newly declassified documents from 1956. The material consists mainly of a correspondence between a top security official at Los Alamos and the lab’s branch of the Atomic Energy Commission, a federal agency that oversaw the weapons development site. The letters discussed an F.B.I. investigation of Mr. Seborer’s espionage but gave no specifics on what he may have delivered to Moscow. Instead, the exchange dwelled on the secrets available to him.

The documents include pages from a 1945 Los Alamos telephone directory as a way of confirming the suspect’s lab employment.

All three previously known Los Alamos spies told the Soviets of a secret bomb-detonation method known as implosion. The technique produced a bomb far more sophisticated than the crude one dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. A prototype of the implosion device was tested successfully in the New Mexican desert in July 1945, and a bomb of similar design was dropped on Nagasaki weeks later, on Aug. 9. Four years later, the Soviets successfully tested an implosion device.

The early bombs relied on two kinds of metallic fuel, uranium and plutonium. The bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima worked by firing one cylinder of uranium fuel into a second one, to form a critical mass. Atoms then split apart in furious chain reactions, releasing huge bursts of energy.

In contrast, the implosion bomb started with a ball of plutonium surrounded by a large sphere of conventional explosives. By design, their detonation produced waves of pressure that were highly focused and concentrated. The waves crushed inward with such gargantuan force that the dense ball of plutonium metal was compressed into a much denser state, triggering the atomic blast.

To be continued………..

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Book Review – “Inside The Gold Plated Pistol”  by: Cindy Bruchmann

I am not adept at doing book reviews and I rarely do one for a fiction piece, but our fellow blogger and U.S. Navy Veteran, Cindy Bruchmann, has created a very unique volume.

Inside the Gold Plated Pistol, Cynthia Bruchmann

As characters are being introduced, you are following the plot through the eyes of that person.  With each view, the story-line progresses.  Early on you will discover what is Inside the Gold Plated Pistol, but you will need to continue reading to see what becomes of the people surrounding the mystery.

I enjoyed Cindy’s insistence on researching 1928 and on into the 1930’s era.  The Native American relationship with the white man (or woman).  Her use of detail only enhances the tale.  I was amazed to learn that Hershey’s Kisses were around that long ago, what the movie industry was like or that Bob’s Big Boy diners started back then – who knew?

I don’t think I should continue any further, lest I give huge spoilers away – and that is not my intent.  But I do hope I piqued your interest!!

Check it out!!

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Military spy Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John T. Avella – brn: Solopaca, ITA/Tom’s River, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO, 405th Infantry, Bronze Star

George Correia Sr. – Tiverton, RI; US Navy, WWII

Verne Hinkle – Jackson, MI; US Army, WWII, infantry

Andrew Klein – Forest Grove, OR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt. JG, USS Sanborn, navigator

Ruth McVaden (100) – MS; US Army WAC, WWII, ETO, Specialist, nurse

John J. Murphy – Chicago, IL; US Air Force, Vietnam, jet engine mechanic

Ryan S. Phaneuf – Hudson, NH; US Air Force, Afghanistan, Captain, 37th Bomb Squadron, KIA (E-11 crash)

Charles Ruggles – Tucson, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII,PTO, Co. I/511/11th Airborne Division

Lester Sanders – San Augustine, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Ryan K. Voss – Yigo, Guam; US Air Force Afghanistan, Lt. Col., HQ Air Control Command, KIA (E-11 crash)

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Smitty in December 1945 w/ the Sword Story

Christmas card

This was the Christmas card sent from Japan to Broad Channel, New York in December 1945. Anna Smith had been waiting to hear this news from her son Everett (Smitty) for over three years. On the back, it reads:

“Dear Mom:
This is the best Xmas card I’ve sent to you since getting in the army. I figured this would be what you have always been waiting to see, here it goes.

“I’m finally on my way, so don’t send any more mail.
Love, Everett
“P.S. I’ll keep you posted on my various stops.”

Smitty in Japan, at far right

Even though Smitty had earned his points to go home, he was still an NCO on General Swing’s staff and was required to finish out his duties as such. After going through combat in the South Pacific, it would be in peaceful occupational Japan where Smitty’s temper would get the better of him.

Non-nonchalantly going about his business at the headquarters of Camp Schimmelpfennig, Smitty just happened to glance through the glass partition that sealed off Gen. Swing’s office. Inside was an officer holding and admiring the Japanese sword that his commander intended to keep and bring home as a souvenir. Smitty didn’t think much of it at the time; he was busy and many people commented on the weapon. so he continued down the hallway. A short while later, the entire office could hear the general demanding to know what had become of his sword. It was gone.

Gen. Swing accepts Japanese sword at Atsugi Airfield

Major General Joseph Swing

My father didn’t think twice, this was his general. He went into the room and told Swing what he had witnessed. Without a second thought, the two men went to the other man’s office, but neither the man or sword was there. The officer in question showed a few moments later. When the general explained why they were waiting for him, the officer became indignant and professed his innocence (just a tad too much). My father said the air of tension in the room became thick enough to use a

Postcards received from a Cavite, P.I. woman

machete on. This was when Smitty’s temper went out of control and with one right cross – sent the officer through his own glass partition.

Of course, this action made it necessary to bust Smitty back down to private, but he didn’t care about that. He was still furious that the sword was never returned. It all could have gone worse if the general had not been there or if he did not believe Smitty’s word. Smitty said it was worth being busted just to wipe the smirky grin off the officer’s face. The officer, I believe, was a replacement and had not seen much (if any) combat, just a blow-heart. Smitty later offered his two Japanese swords to General Swing, but he refused. My father didn’t believe the general would have taken the Emperor’s own sword as a replacement. I can clearly see my father’s face contort when he thought of the thief and he would say, “That know-nothing mattress salesman from Texas!” I’m sure it was for the best that the two men never met again stateside as civilians.

Unfortunately, a similar incident occurred to my father. As he happily began packing to go home, Smitty noticed that an expensive set of carved ivory chop sticks he had purchased somehow had disappeared. They also were never recovered. (I had often wondered if the two incidents had been related, but I suppose we’ll never know.)

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Daniel Aiello – NYC, NY; US Army / Actor

Vernon Bartley – brn: Meerut, India/ENG; Punjab Army, WWII, CBI

John Cameron – Waipukurau, NZ; RNZ Navy, WWII, minesweeper

Frank Crane – Toledo, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Joseph Haratani – Florin, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd RCT

Clarence Katwyk – Salt Lake City, UT; US Merchant Marines / US Army, WWII, PTO

Dominic Moschetti – Victor, CO; US Army, WWII, TSgt., 354th Infantry

Raymond Plassmann – CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 navigator

Arthur Schaefer – Tucson, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Lt., B-17 navigator

Orland Webb – Harrodsburg, KY; US Army, WWII

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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. 

Click on images to enlarge.

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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.

Click on images to enlarge.

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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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