Category Archives: First-hand Accounts

A Brief Background for War

Teddy Roosevelt

For centuries Asian products were desired, but one of the most profitable trade routes operated from India to China, introducing opium into that country.  This market accounted for 20% of the British Empire’s revenue and was the basis of the Roosevelt family wealth.

Teddy Roosevelt, an aristocrat, was taught thru his youth and at Harvard, of Aryan supremacy in government and intellect.  Columbia University professor John Burgess impressed him with white American world domination.  With this ideology, he followed the European nations in absorbing colonies.  He pushed for control of the Philippines where the American behavior was deplorable, but overlooked.

The U.S. Minister to Japan, DeLong, encouraged “General” Charles LeGendre to go to Japan and instruct them on invasion tactics and instigate his “Monroe Doctrine” for Asia. (Three decades later it would be known as the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere of WWII).  When Japan invaded Manchuria, Roosevelt said, “I was thoroughly pleased with the Japanese victory for Japan is playing our game.”  Although U.S. advisors assured Korea that America was their “Elder Brother,” in 1905 Roosevelt closed the embassy and said, “I should like to see Japan have Korea.”  The Nobel prize committee did not know of his secret meetings with Japan during the Russo-Japanese War and gave him the Peace prize anyway.

Roosevelt had not only opened the door for Japan to conquer neighboring nations, he gave them the ideal instructor and plans to do it with.  For detailed information see: The Imperial Cruise, by James Bradley.

https://www.thriftbooks.com/browse/?b.search=the%20imperial%20cruise#b.s=mostPopular-desc&b.p=1&b.pp=30&b.oos&b.tile

“The Imperial Cruise” by: James Bradley

If Congress discovered he had also sent pilots to Britain, Roosevelt said, “I will be impeached.”

Being that Japan found it necessary to import food, fuel and American plane parts, here was the edge that FDR needed to coax the U.S. public into war.  When Germany failed to declare war, he froze Japan’s assets on July 26, 1941.   Relations between Japan and the ABCD countries had basically reached a point of no return.  The New York Times newspaper called this action, “…the most drastic blow short of war.”

The ABCD powers (American, British, Chinese & Dutch) followed suit and this became a choke chain around Japan’s neck which FDR jerked as he saw fit until Pearl Harbor exploded into a scene of destruction.  This action not only got the U.S. into the war, but FDR made certain that the major effort would be to assist his friend Winston Churchill – not the Pacific.

FDR campaigning in Warms Springs, GA, 4 April 1939

For a more detailed look into the world that led into WWII, I have a 3-part ‘East/West series’ that starts here…

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/east-and-west-1/

FDR cabled Philippine President, Manuel Quezon, “I can assure you that every vessel available is  bearing the strength that will eventually crush the enemy… I give to the people of the Philippines my solemn pledge that their freedom will be retained… The entire resources in men and materials of the U.S. stand behind that pledge.”

Gen. George Marshall, FDR’s Army Chief of Staff, radioed MacArthur:  ‘A stream of 4-engine bombers, previously delayed by foul weather, is enroute…Another stream of similar bombers started today from Hawaii…”

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Political Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Patricia Adams – Fitchburg, MA; Civilian, WWII, Civil Corps, plane spotter

Joseph Bange – Dayton, OH; US Army, WWII, ETO, Signal Corps

Robert Benden (101) – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, x-ray technician

Michael Glockler Sr. – Chicago, IL; US Army, Vietnam, Co. B/2/505/82nd Airborne Division, Bronze Star

Wilton Jackson (100) – Little River, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Captain, 17th Bomb Group

Emil J. Kapaun – Pilsen, KS; US Army, Korea, Chaplain, 3/8/1st Cavalry Division, POW, Medal of Honor, KIA (Chinese Camp 5)

Frank Lopez – East Lost Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, aircraft maintenance

Kenneth “Rock” Merritt – Warner, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Sgt. Major, 82nd Airborne Division / Korea & Vietnam, Silver Star, (Ret. 35 y.)

Robert Renner – Wautoma, WI; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation / US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

John Garvis Smith – Winston-Salem, NC; US Navy, WWII, USS Southerland

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Pacific Paratrooper reboot…..

Smitty reclining in fron, on the far right, with the HQ Company/187th Regiment/11th Airborne

Pacific Paratrooper will now only publish one post per week.

I first started this website to honor my father and his HQ Co./187th/11th Airborne Division and that is what we intend on doing once again.  Smitty never said, “I did this” or “I did that,”  it was always – “The 11th did IT!”

From the beginning, Everett A. Smith (AKA: Smitty), will be re-introduced, his entrance into WWII, the letters he wrote home and the world that surrounded them at the time.

The Farewell Salutes will continue,  as will the Military Humor columns.  If there is someone you wish to honor in the Salutes, don’t hesitate to give me similar information as you see for others.

1943 11th Airborne yearbook

As a member of the 11th Airborne Association (Member # 4511) myself, I am privy to their newsletter, “The Voice of the Angels,”  and I will be using quotes and stories from that publication.  Matt Underwood, Editor Emeritus, JoAnn, Editor, and the officers of the Association have been of great assistance to me and I thank them very much for their help.

This website is ever changing and being updated, because further knowledge is always being learned.  Smitty told me and many others, “I try to learn something every day.  When I stop, Please, close the lid.”  I have never forgotten that motto to live by and I sincerely hope you all do the same.

Please, DO continue to share what stories you know and/or a link to data you’ve uncovered and put them in the comments.  I am afraid no emails will be opened.  If you are not a blogger, you can Follow by clicking the Follow button in the top right-hand corner of each post.

11th A/B shoulder patch

I thank you all for your contributions in the past and hope you will continue to do so.  If you are new to this site – WELCOME!!  We have a wonderful group of people participating here – join them.

Please remember that these countries, in the following posts, were in a horrendous war and NOTHING written or quoted here is with the intent to disparage any people or nations.  And, I have tried to limit the amount of gory details without shading the facts.  I hope I succeed.

As always – Click on images to enlarge them.

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Military Humor –

Some definitions you may want to keep in mind:

ARMY – a body of men assembled to rectify the mistakes of the diplomats

Critical Terrain: Terrain that if not secured, grabbed, taken or camped out on — you are screwed.

DRAFT BOARD – the world’s largest travel agency

MILITARY EXPERT – one who tells you what will happen next week – and then explains why it didn’t

NEW GUINEA SALUTE – waving the hand over the mess kit to ward off the flies

PACIFIST – a person who fights with everybody BUT the enemy

Pound The Crap Out Of: Somewhere between disrupt and destroy and slightly more than neutralize.

Technique: A noun, used in the phrase: “That’s one technique.” Translated – That’s a really screwed up way to execute this operation and you will probably kill your entire unit. But if you want to do it that way – go ahead.”

WAR – a time that starts off paying old scores and ends up by paying new debts

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Arens – Lansing, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Charles “Stu” Bachmann – Bertrand, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt., B-17 tailgunner

Rosewarne Memorial, courtesy of Destinations Journey

Alvin Cawthon – Tucumcari, NM; US Army, WWII / National Guard (Ret. 42 y.)

Elbert Edwards – Southaven, MS; US Army, WWII, 1st Lt.

Juan Gutierrez – USA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 200th Coast Artillery Regiment, Bataan March, POW, KIA (Luzon, P.I.)

Eddie Hrivnak – Lakewood, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, frogman

David Mottoli – Lawrence, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 25th Fighter Squadron / Grumman (Ret.)

Don Newman – South Bend, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 pilot instructor

George Samson – McGee’s Mills, PA; US Coast Guard, WWII

John Toppi Sr. – Providence, RI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Warwick

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WWII poster

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Pre-Christmas post from Star and Stripes – 75th Anniversary

In The Past

1964, a Vietnam Christmas for Bob Hope

Bob Hope brings Christmas cheer to troops in Vietnam

1964 | BIEN HOA, South Vietnam — Bob Hope brought some laughter to a place of war Christmas Eve.

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Residents of an outer island of Palau retrieve boxes from the U.S. Air Force’s 1999 Christmas drop.

Airmen prepare for annual Christmas gift drop to Pacific islanders

2005 | ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam — Airmen geared up to deliver items to Pacific islanders who can only dream of department stores.

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Santa Claus hands out presents to the men of Detachment 35, Company B, 5th Special Forces Group, in Vietnam at the end of 1968. The Air Force lent Santa six C7 Caribou cargo planes for his deliveries in Vietnam. The planes enabled him to visit some 50 isolated outposts – such as this Special Forces camp in Nahon Cho, 80 miles northeast of Saigon – from Dec. 24th until late in the afternoon Christmas day.
JAMES LINN/STARS AND STRIPES |

Eight deer traded in for 6 ‘Santabou’ in waning days of 1968

1968 | NHON CHO, Vietnam — Santa’s reindeer were constantly bogged down in mud and his sleigh broke on the bumpy, snowless airstrips. The Air Force lent Santa six C7 Caribou cargo planes for his deliveries in Vietnam.

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In The Present

Staff Sgt. Hector Frietze, right, and Senior Airman John Allum, left, 36th Airlift Squadron loadmasters, wave to the people of the Island of Angaur, Republic of Palau, during the first bundle airdrops of Operation Christmas Drop 2020, Dec. 6. OCD is the world’s longest running airdrop training mission, allowing the U.S. and its allies to deliver food, tools and clothing to the people who live on remote islands in the South-Eastern Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

SE PACIFIC – OPERATION CHRISTMAS DROP

https://guam.stripes.com/community-news/until-next-year-operation-christmas-drop-2020-comes-close?fbclid=IwAR1yVLMkclH-_KP3NI3uW0A9hFwIZXBnKT4Wqr38MVxKHx9RVjxpM_0R3zA

Deployed

Service members serve on all seven continents — there is one service member in Antarctica — and on all the seas. Military personnel serve in more than 170 countries.

Service members deployed around the world during Christmas:

  • Afghanistan: 14,000
  • Bahrain: 7,000
  • Iraq: 5,200
  • Jordan: 2,795
  • Kuwait: 13,000
  • Oman: 300
  • Qatar: 13,000
  • Saudi Arabia: 3,000
  • Syria: Unknown
  • Turkey: Unknown
  • United Arab Emirates: 5,0000

Sailors will man their ships from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Mexico.  Navy officials maintain that roughly a third of the Navy is deployed at any one time.

Air Force missileers and airmen are in the silos, by the planes and in the command centers ensuring the nuclear system is ready if needed.

And Please remember the military families !

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Military Christmas Humor – 

Humor from deployed Marines

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Farewell Salutes – 

Bennie Adkins – Waurika, OK; US Army, Vietnam, Sgt. (Ret. 22 y.), Green Beret, Silver Star, Purple Heart

Bon Nell Bentley – Russellville, AR; Civilian, riveter / US Navy WAVE, WWII / USN nurse / Civilian, nurse w/ Veterans Admin. (Ret. 30 y.)

Pedro ‘Pete’ Coronel – Hereford, AZ; US Army, WWII, PTO, 7th Cavalry, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Lee E. James (106) – Spearman, TX; US Army, WWII, CBI, Colonel (Ret. 27 y.)

William Kinney – Toledo, OH; US Navy, WWII

Levi A. Presley – Crestview, FL; US Army, Sgt. 1st Class

Louis Pugh – Courtdale, PA; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT, 2 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart

Jesse O. Sandlin – Granby, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot, 8th AF  /  Korea, Lt. Colonel (Ret. 28 y.)

Owen Tripp – Tacoma, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Donald Urquhart – New Orleans, LA; US Army, WWII, 81st Infantry Division, Purple Heart

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Del Ray Echo Hawk

”Ken’s Men Against the Empire, vol. I”

I acquired “Ken’s Men, Against the Empire, volume I” during this pandemic of ours and when I reached the story of Bootless Bay, I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I decided to share it with you all.  I thank the research of Lawrence J. Hickey and the IHRA for over 373 pages of unforgettable stories, plus a sneak preview of Volume II.  I can’t praise this organization enough.  I recommend you all try at least one of their books.

Del Ray Echo Hawk

Rescue from Bootless Bay

As men fought on the ground in New Guinea, the 5th Air Force was in the sky above them.  The B-24D, the “Ben Buzzard”, 43rd Bombardment Group/64th Bombardment Squadron, with Lt. Stephen Blount as pilot, could be heard over the radio at Seven Mile Drome as they returned in violent weather over the Owen Stanley Mts.,  and then the roar of the engines abruptly ceased…

“Ben Buzzard” 43rd Bombardment Group

Gas was leaking from a split in the trailing edge of the left wing; then one of the engines on the left wing suddenly quit and the radio operator couldn’t raise the tower, he had no idea if they were receiving his messages.

“Ben Buzzard” skipped across the water, then porpoised.  The rear part of the plane split and flipped over the nose.  Blount, not wearing his seatbelt, was catapulted through the Plexiglas windshield.

Jack Matisoff & Del Ray Echo Hawk, best friends

It was 18 October 1943 when Staff Sgt. DelRay Echo Hawk, who had been manning one of the waist guns and wounded, popped to the surface.  He then filled his lungs and dove back underwater.  He swam to the waist area of the aircraft, bent back the rear fuselage and pulled SSgt. Clayton L. Landon out of the wrecked Liberator.  Del Ray’s hands were cut and bleeding from the jagged metal, but he had saved Landon’s life.

Major Harold M. Brecht, who had just landed, hurried to his plane with another pilot and took off in search of the missing crew.  Their flight path took them directly down the length of Bootless Bay, where Blount and co-pilot, Julian Petty were yelling and waving frantically…

Crew taken in front of “Lucky Lucille”. Top 2nd from right is Jack Matisoff, 4th from Right, Echo Hawk. Signatures on back: Julian Al Petty, John R. O’Neal Jr., Coltrane C. Sherrill, Bob Lee, Bob Mason, Delray Echo Hawk, Albert Richter Jr., Jack Shainfine, Arthur Brent

Apparently unseen, the 4 surviving crewmen continued to ride the 3-foot swells.  Fortunately, within a few minutes a canoe appeared and turned in their direction.  Inside were 2 curious Australian enlisted men, who had seen the plane disappear and commandeered a native boat to investigate.

After a hurried discussion, it was decided that the men would hold onto the side of the canoe and be towed.

The Australians at the camp formed 2 long parallel lines 200 yards out in the water.  The Americans were passed from one man to another until they were safely on shore.

Landon and Echo Hawk, the most seriously injured, were laid out on the beach to await an ambulance.  They were then transported to a field hospital.

Lt. Blount would recommend Del Ray Echo Hawk, a member of the Oklahoma  Cherokee Nation, for the Silver Star for his exceptional bravery in rescuing SSgt. Landon.  Echo Hawk later received the Soldier’s Medal and the entire crew was awarded the Purple Heart.

Grave marker for Del Ray Echo Hawk

This story was condensed.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert D. Bay – Chesterfield, MI; US Army, WWII, PTO, Corps of Engineers, MGen. (Ret.)

Shirley (Cherrington) Beachum – Catawissa, PA; US Army WAC, WWII, link instructor

From: Cora Metz posters

Wilfred C. Cloutier – Guilford, VT; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Ralph Dunwoody – Aberdeen, SD; US Army, WWII, Intelligence & Recon

Dorothy D. Garippo – Roselle, IL; US Navy WAVE, WWII, nurse

Yvonne H. Jackson – Owego, NY; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Gene M. Kirby – Davenport, IA; US Army, WWII, ETO

A.J. Laughlin – New Carlisle, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Jack Moreland – Paducah, TX; US Army, WWII, 2nd Division

Raymond Sontag (101) – Creve Coeur, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt.

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Eye-witness Account

Jack Wilde, WWII

Jack Wilde woke up covered in blood. The gore gushed down his leg. His head pounded.

The second lieutenant had been hunched over in the cramped tail section of the B-25, so he didn’t really know what had happened.

He remembered the plane banking and suddenly starting to climb. Moments later he’d heard branches hitting the port tail wing. “I thought to myself, ‘Boy, that’s something to write home about,’ ” he recalled years later. “And about that time, it really was something to write home about because we hit the top of the mountain.”

Jack Wilde had found himself flying over the New Guinea jungle in January 1945 because his infantry division was part of the Allied forces leapfrogging across the Dutch East Indies toward Japan.

Intelligence had come in indicating that Japanese detachments were working their way toward the U.S. base at Sansapor, so commanders ordered an aerial reconnaissance to determine where exactly the enemy was.

Wilde headed for the B-25 along with the six other officers involved in the mission, he changed his mind. He turned to Lt. Tom Coghlan, who was seeing the group off.

“How about lending me that .45 of yours,” he said. “I’ll give it back to you after the ride is over.”

Coghlan handed over the gun and shoulder holster.

The plane had been in the air only about five minutes — flying low in a river canyon — when it made the rapid, steep ascent. A moment later the plane shook, throwing Wilde forward. The last thing he remembered was the Plexiglass over the tail gun shattering.

B-25G Mitchell

When Wilde regained consciousness, he realized he had a smattering of cuts on his face, but the real problem was his right leg. There were two deep punctures behind the kneecap, with blood pouring out. He tried to move the leg, sending a blast of pain shuddering through his body.

He climbed out of the mangled B-25 Mitchell and surveyed it. A wing was gone. The nose had been smashed into a disk. One of the engines sat on the ground nearby, still buzzing.

He found the other men in the wreckage. All dead.

The 22-year-old lieutenant didn’t have time to wonder how in the world he had managed to survive the crash. He didn’t even have time to be afraid. But the horrible scene would stay with him the rest of his life.

Turning away from the smoking debris that day, Lt. Jack Wilde took stock. He had on him 10 cigarettes, a lighter — and that .45 automatic, with seven rounds of ammunition.

That would have to be enough. He had to get moving. He figured that, with the noise the B-25 made while going down, any Japanese soldiers in the vicinity would be heading toward the area.

example of New Guinea jungle.

He was confident he could stay alive in the New Guinea jungle. He’d seen proof that it was possible.

The American lieutenant now oriented himself in the jungle as best he could and headed off. At first his damaged leg was so bad he had to drag himself on his belly. He was actually about 10 miles west of his destination.

The first night he found a big rock to hide behind. Rain poured down relentlessly through the darkness. His leg throbbed; he could feel blood still bubbling out of the wound. For the first time, the thought crossed his mind that he might die.

On his third day in the New Guinea jungle, Lt. Jack Wilde came upon a river that offered a series of violent waterfalls and rapids, with sheer cliffs on both sides rising between 50- and 100-feet high.

He sure liked the idea of letting that river carry him along, but he recognized that it was a foolish thought.  “I knew that in my condition I wasn’t able to survive that waterfall and what was going on in that river, because it was going down the mountainside at a hell of a clip,” he recalled.

But he also knew that walking wasn’t working out. When he came upon a large piece of balsa wood, he found himself thinking, “If that thing would float, I could just hang on and ride that waterfall out.”

He didn’t let himself consider it too hard: he jumped in the water, holding the balsa wood tight. Over the falls he went.  In the pool below the waterfall, the buoyant block of wood pulled him to the surface. He gasped for air, elated.

“That piece of wood and I were friends for two days,” he said.

There was just one problem: he was sometimes riding the rapids right past the enemy along the banks.

So when he saw that he was coming up on open areas where soldiers might be, he would slow down his progress, “find a brushy part and crawl out like an alligator and observe everything from a camouflage position and then sneak my way through the brush to the next place where I had to swim.”

He managed to avoid the Japanese, but more challenges remained. This included the fruitless search for food — and an encounter with a large wild boar that appeared intent on attack.

“I couldn’t shoot him, of course, because that would give me away,” he said. “Finally, I resorted to animal behavior, baring my teeth and like that.”  The boar, perhaps bemused, eventually wandered off.

Jack Wilde

Finally, after five full days in the jungle with nothing to eat, Wilde reached the mouth of the river — and found, “to my absolute horror,” a series of sturdy Japanese pillboxes blocking the crossing he needed to make.

“Well, there are times in life when you just have to accept that things are not the way you want them,” he said when relating his adventure 50 years later. “So I pulled back the slide on the automatic and made sure there was a shell in the chamber and took it off safe and put it in my right hand and thought to myself, ‘Well, fellas, here we come.’ ”

He eased his way along the fortifications and peeked in, one by one. He breathed: the pillboxes had been abandoned. But his relief didn’t last long. After he crossed the river and began to push through the brush, he spotted soldiers moving carefully along the edge of the beach.

His luck once again held. As he headed toward the men, staying low, he realized it wasn’t the enemy. It was a patrol from his 167th infantry.

He moved onto the beach, took off his hat and started waving it. He now realized he was going to survive this ordeal. That he might have a long life after all. And he did.

Wilde’s fellow soldiers carried him to a forward outpost, and from there they sent him by boat to the main base.

“When I came ashore, who was standing there but Lt. Coghlan,” Wilde said. “I handed him his pistol and holster and said, ‘Thank you.’ ”

He hadn’t needed to use it, he pointed out, but “I was sure glad I had it.”

In a letter home a few days later, Jack Wilde wrote that the base doctors “seem to think it remarkable that I could walk out — but I was damn hungry.”

Jack Wilde passed away in 2011 at the age of 89.

©2020 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Roger C. Butts – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII, Cook 2nd Class # 1144738, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Ralph Cole – Huntsville, AL; US Army, WWII / NASA, electric engineer

By: Howard Brodie

Warren D’Alesandro – Staten Island, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-24 flight engineer

Raymond Hawes – Providence, RI; US Army, Japanese Occupation

Howard D. Hodges – Washington, NC; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 1st Class, USS West Virginia, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Joyce Matthews – St. Petersburg, FL; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

J. Lee Ogburn (102) – Atlanta, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 pilot, 14th Air Force

Carrie Roberts – Pearsall, TX; Civilian, WWII, built bomb sights

Richard Smith (102) – Guy Mills, PA; US Navy, WWII, Lt. Commander, pilot

Joseph Zaleski – New Britain, CT; US Navy, WWII

Ted Crosby – An Ace in a Day

n a dramatic painting by Roy Grinnell, Lieutenant (j.g.) Willis Hardy, a member of Crosby’s VF-17 Squadron from the carrier USS Hornet, flames a Japanese kamikaze plane that was on its way to attack the American naval task force off Okinawa, April 6, 1945. The Hellcat’s distinctive “white checkerboard” markings show it belongs to the USS Hornet (CV12).

As Ted Crosby watched, Yamato’s giant, 18-inch guns hit the water, their enormous weight probably helping the battleship capsize. Suddenly, Yamato’s No. 1 magazine exploded, sending up a huge coil of smoke and flame that could be seen for over 100 miles. It was a strange foretaste of the atomic mushroom clouds that would envelope Hiroshima and Nagasaki a few months later.

Watching from above, Crosby had no feeling of elation. “I was thinking of the Japanese crew,” he said in a 2011 interview. “Three thousand lives lost.”  As a former fighter pilot and Navy man, he could appreciate what it meant to go down fighting with his comrades.

During his World War II career, Ted Crosby served aboard two Essex-class carriers, Bunker Hill (CV 17) and Hornet (CV 12). There were 24 Essex-class carriers built during the war, and they soon became the backbone of America’s naval offensive in the Pacific. The efforts of pilots like Crosby not only turned defeat into victory, but also changed the course of naval warfare forever.

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Ensign John T. Crosby, shortly after being commissioned in May 1943.

An autumn raid on Rabaul was a major effort involving several American carriers. It was also Ted Crosby’s first taste of battle. The raid of November 11, 1943, involved dogfights on a massive scale. It was an aerial free-for-all, with the new F6F Hellcat generally gaining the upper hand over the vaunted Mitsubishi A6M Zero or “Zeke.”

On November 26, 1943, Ted got his first kill—a piece of a Mitsubishi G4M Betty bomber.  A steady stream of .50-caliber slugs sprayed from Ted’s six machine guns peppered and shattered the Betty’s tail and rear-gun position. Other Hellcats chimed in, joining Crosby’s symphony of destruction until the stricken bomber crashed. When he got back to Bunker Hill, he claimed the Betty, but it was determined that the other pilots had a share in its downing. As a result, Crosby’s official score stood at one-quarter of a Japanese bomber.

In dogfights and strafing runs, Ted had only one rule: “Don’t be in any one spot for more than 10 seconds! When I looked in my rear view mirror, I’d often see flak bursts where my plane had just been.”

In January 1945, Ted joined a newly reformed VF-17 aboard the USS Hornet. The new VF-17 appropriated the old formation’s skull and crossbones logo, but this time the men would be exclusively flying Hellcats, not Corsairs. The commander of the new VF-17 was Lt. Cmdr. Marshall U. “Marsh” Beebe.

On April 16, 1945, Ted Crosby became an ace in a day, shooting down five Japanese planes on a single mission. The Marines had landed on Okinawa on April 1 and, as time went on, the battle for the island intensified. Swarms of kamikazes flew out of Kyushu on suicide missions, crashing into any Allied ship they could find in the area. Ted and his fellow aviators called them “kami-krazies.” They seemed to conform to the wartime stereotype of fanatics who would rather commit suicide than surrender.

Crosby began April 16 on a target combat air patrol with Lt. Cmdr. Beebe. Crosby’s division (four Hellcats) was led by Lieutenant Milliard “Fuzz” Wooley; Ensigns J. Garrett and W.L. Osborn completed the quartet. As  VF-17’s war diary put it, “Wooley’s division ‘tallyhoed’ [engaged] 12 Jacks and Zekes at 24,000 feet and started working them over.”

Actually, there were two groups of Japanese planes, a dozen or so at around 24,000 feet and a second group that was flying about 9,000 feet lower. Their main target was a destroyer, possibly a Fletcher-class vessel, that was cruising north of Okinawa. Ted could not recall the name of the ship, but its call sign was “Whiskey Base.”

The fighter director aboard the destroyer was happy to see Hellcats above him but dismayed when it appeared that they were leaving. “The fighter director said, ‘I see what you guys are doing––don’t leave us!’ Wooley replied, ‘Don’t worry. We’ll be back. We want to meet these guys halfway before they can get to you!’”

In the process, Wooley and Crosby became separated from the other pilots. Squadron Commander Beebe called them, asking for their position. Crosby said, “Fuzz” replied, ‘Never mind, skipper, we got them [the Japanese] cornered!’”

The first plane Crosby encountered was a Mitsubishi J2M “Jack” fighter that was coming head on. Crosby and his adversary were seemingly on a collision course, like two medieval knights jousting in a tournament.

“Well, I met that Japanese plane head on with my six .50-caliber guns, and the impact of the bullets blew him apart. Part of his engine and propeller, with the prop still turning, flew right over my head. I picked out another [Japanese plane], executed a turn, and went right after him.”

The second was a Zeke, a kamikaze, not a fighter, so Ted proceeded with caution. “We all realized you had to watch out what you did because the kamikazes were loaded with TNT to do us maximum damage. When you hit one, they would really explode! Once they exploded, you’d find yourself flying through lots of garbage and debris.”

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After he downed the Zeke, Crosby attempted to find his division leader only to notice tracer bullets zipping past his Hellcat. Ironically, Ted had found his leader, but not in the way he wanted! The bullets were from Wooley who, in the excitement, had mistaken Crosby for the enemy. Realizing his error, Wooley sheepishly radioed Ted, “Did I get you, Ted?”

“Noooo.…” Ted replied, “but let’s settle down and get more of these guys!”

Wooley readily complied, going after another Japanese plane, but found he was out of ammunition. Ironically, his last few bursts had been expended when he mistakenly fired on Ted. Wooley dove down, making himself a decoy by luring enemy planes into Crosby’s guns. The ruse was successful, enabling Ted to down two more Japanese planes.

They decided to call it a day, but as they started back to the carrier Crosby spotted kamikaze heading toward the same destroyer they had helped protect earlier. Ted gave chase, tattooing the Japanese plane with a spray of .50-caliber lead. He broke off his attack because they were nearing the destroyer, and he knew that the ship’s radar could not distinguish friend from foe.

Sure enough, the destroyer opened fire, and the kamikaze, already disabled by Ted’s guns, angled down and crashed onto a nearby island. Thus, Ted Crosby became an ace in day, credited with three Jacks, a Zeke, and a Val dive bomber.  His skill and valor that day won him the coveted Navy Cross.

Ted says he did not feel too good about downing those kamikazes at first. He realized that most of the suicide pilots had little training and were for the most part sitting ducks to experienced Navy airmen. However, Ted felt better “when I was told the extent of the damage they did on ships, and by shooting them down I was saving American lives.”

Crosby also had a close call on a photo-recon mission near Shokaku, after American carrier planes had attacked Japanese shipping in the area. “I had my plot board out and I’m putting down the time of day, the slant of the sun, and all that had to do with photography. Suddenly, I saw stuff [bullets] bouncing off my wing. I look back, and there’s this guy on my tail—probably a George.  Only time I ever had a guy on my tail.”

After one pass the George broke off the attack and seemed to head back to his base. Crosby was not inclined to follow him. At the moment he was alone, and following an enemy plane over enemy territory did not seem like a wise thing to do. After he got back to Hornet, Ted found an unexploded 30mm shell in his cockpit armor, mute testimony to his luck and the fact that American aircraft designs protected their pilots.

Ted Crosby remained in the Navy after the war and retired with the rank of commander.

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Military Humor –

“Ya might hafta catch a boat. One of those kids ya just chased off th’ field wuz the pilot”

The new “Learn-as-you-Go” pilot training method.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ed Bearrs – Billings, MT; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl., 3rd Marine Raider Battalion & 7/1st Marine Division, Purple Heart  /  Historian

John Bero Jr. – Buffalo, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Patrick Chess – Yakima, WA; US Navy, WWII shipfitter 3rd Class, USS Oklahoma. KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Gabriel J. Eggud – USA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 1st Lt., pilot, 110/71 Reconnaissance Group, KIA (New Guinea)

Ellis Fryer – Dearborn, MI; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Donald Lesmeister – Harvey, ND; US Navy, Korea, USS Wiltsie

Jack McPherson – Casper, WY; US Army, WWII, Chief Warrant Officer/ Korea & Vietnam/ NSA (Ret.)

June Pearce – Waukon, IA; Civilian, B-17 riveter

Charles Perkins – Quincy, MA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Donald Schimmels (100) – Kewaunee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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First-hand account: Okinawa

Louis Meehl, WWII

It wasn’t always the enemy they had to contend with…

Louis Meehl

After the war started, I decided I had to get into the service, this didn’t make my folks very happy, especially my dad, but I just had to go.  So, I enlisted in the Army Air Corps.  They made me a gunner and sent me to the Pacific.  I flew on A-20’s in the 417th Bomb Group, B-24’s in the 90th and B-25’s in the 38th.  I was on the islands all through the western Pacific, New Guinea, the Philippines, the Ryukyus, and even up to Japan later on.

It was after the war had ended and we’d moved up to an airstrip on a little island called Ie Shima, right next to Okinawa.  It was the island where Ernie Pyle was killed.  We were living there in the usual primitive conditions that we’d put up with on all the islands – tents, C and K rations, nothing to do but fly missions.  The airstrip there was right near the beach, well, the island was so small that everything was right near the beach, and of course our tents were close to the coast.

Ernie Pyle, le Shima

We got word that a storm was coming and the pilots flew our squadron’s planes off somewhere.  The rest of us on the flight crews and the ground crews were left behind to fend for ourselves.  The wind started blowing, the rain was coming down, and we were trying to hold on to our tents to keep them from blowing over,

Well, it turned out this storm was a typhoon and the wind blew stronger and stronger, and the rain was being driven horizontally.  What a storm!  I’d never experienced anything like it.  After a while, we couldn’t hold the tents up anymore.  First one of the tents blew down, then another, and pretty soon all the tents were down, and we were outside in the weather.

There was no other shelter – our bombing and the Navy’s shelling when we’d taken the island had flattened all the trees and it was just bare sand and rock.  And the wind just kept blowing harder!

Okinawa, naval typhoon damage

Next thing we knew the tents and everything inside them started to blow away, right off the island and out into the ocean.  We just couldn’t hold on to them under those conditions – the wind just ripped anything out of our hands if you tried to hold on to it.  So after the tents and everything was gone, all we could do was huddle together and try to protect ourselves.  It was like we were just a bunch of wet, cold sheep huddled together – and the wind kept blowing even harder.

We’d rotate the guys on the outside of the huddle toward the middle because the rain was being blown so hard it hurt when it hit you.  We all took our turns on the outside of the group.  Some of us had bruises from that rain afterwards.

Okinawa, typhoon tent

 

[ I was unable to locate le Shima photos of the storm, hence the Okinawa pictures.  I suppose everyone’s camera went to sea. ]

This seemed to go on for hours, and the whole time we just stayed there huddled together,  When the wind and rain finally started to let up, it dawned on us that everything we had was gone.  I had a lot of photos from all the islands we’d been on, some souvenirs, and of course the rest of my clothes and personal effects, and they were just gone.

Our planes came back and they flew in more tents for us, but later when I shipped back to the States I didn’t have much more to take home with me that the clothes I had on the day the storm started!

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Bernice Cooke – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, nurse

George C. Evans – Bay Village, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Reynaldo ‘Chita’ Gonzolaz – Newton, KS; US Army, Korea, Sgt., 2nd Division

Peter Hanson – Laconia, NH; US Army, Vietnam, Captain, 101st Airborne Division

Christopher Knoop – Buffalo, NY; US Army, Desert Storm, 810th MP Co., communications

Donald Ottomeyer – St. Louis, MO; US Army, Lt., 101st Airborne Division

John D. Roper – Nashville, TN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Westmoreland & Pontiac

Juan Serna Sr. – Pharr, TX; US Army, WWII / National Guard (Ret. 25 y.)

Michael Stickley – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, Vietnam

Pansy Yankey (100) – Brashear, TX; Civilian, North American Aviation, WWII, drill press operator

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Follow up story for the Battle of Savo Island

Eric Geddes and his crew

With thanks to Pierre Lagacé for finding this information.  [Should anyone require research on WWII, especially the ETO, this is the man to know!]

Battle of Savo Island in art

 

 

https://richardharmervfn101.wordpress.com/2020/08/10/bloody-savo-revisited-sole-survivor-fights-to-clear-wwii-shadow/

Battle of Savo Island

Sole survivor fights to clear WWII shadow

For the follow-up video….

https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/sole-survivor-fights-to-clear-wwii-shadow/4468200

Eric Geddes WINS!!!

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-27/raaf-veteran-wins-fight-to-clear-crews-name/5844958

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Donald Arnold – Des Plaines, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO

Shirley Hugh Barker (104) – Beloit, WI; US Army, WWII, 82nd Airborne Division

Raymond Dietrich – Muscatine, IA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Ira Edmondson – Texarkana, AR; US Army, WWII, 42nd “Rainbow Division”

Jack Frisch – Colorado Springs, CO; US Army, German Occupation, 547th Ordnance / NFL running back

Philip A, Goddard – Morrisville, VT; US Army, Medical Unit/82nd Airborne Division, doctor

Carl Humpfer Jr. – St. John, IN; US Navy, WWII / US Army, Korea

Kenneth Kokrine – Tanana, AK; US Army, Vietnam, radioman

Charles Mirachi – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Enterprise / Civilian, US Navy

Ronald Perry – New Haven, CT; US Army, Vietnam, 1st Calvary, Col. (Ret.), Silver Star, 2-DFC’s, 3 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart

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Sports in the WWII Military

1926 Army/Navy game ticket, Nimitz Museum

The relationship between sports and the American armed forces reached a climax during WWII The military broadened its athletic regimen, established during  WWI, and thereby reproduced a patriotic sporting culture that soldiers had known as civilians. The armed services provided equipment, training, and personnel rather than rely on private agencies, as had been done in WWI.  The entry of numerous prominent athletes into military service represented a public relations boon for the Department of War and cemented a bond between professional sports, athletes, and patriotism.

American football was glorified as everything masculine and befitting the U.S. military experience. As organized sports became even more closely linked with fitness, morale, and patriotism, both within the ranks and on the home front, football became a fixture on military bases at home and abroad. Football was the favored sport among the military brass, as Generals George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, and Omar Bradley all thought that football produced the best soldiers. Army and Navy were the two leading collegiate football powers during the war (Army was unbeaten from 1944 to 1946) and their games were broadcast over Armed Forces Radio.

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For the 11th Airborne Division, Gen. Swing ordered a Japanese auditorium to be transformed into the 11th Airborne Coliseum. The complex was large enough to hold a theater that would seat 2,500, four basketball courts, a poolroom with 100 tables, a boxing arena that held 4,000 spectators, six bowling alleys and a training room.

In the fall of 1945, an Olympian was held in Tokyo for all the troops stationed in Japan and Korea. Football became the highlighted game. The 11th A/B Division coach, Lt. Eugene Bruce brought them to winning the Japan-Korea championship. They then went on to take the Hawaiian All-Stars in Mejii Stadium with a score of 18-0. This meant that the 11th Airborne Division held the All-Pacific Championship. The troopers went on to win in so many other sports that by the time the finals were held for the boxing tournament at Sendai, the headlines read in the Stars and Stripes sports section:
Ho-Hum, It’s the Angels Again”

Fellow blogger, Carl D’Agostino at “i know i made you smile”, sent me his father’s pictures and information.  Arthur D’Agostino had been with the 8th Armored Division.  They were stationed at Camp Campbell, KY until 1943, when they were moved to Camp Polk, LA to prepare for combat.  The division was sent to the European Theater on 5 December 1943, but Mr. D’Agostino was in recovery from surgery and was spared the journey.  Tank Sergeant D’Agostino became a middleweight boxing instructor and gave exhibitions around the camps.  Carl’s blog can be found HERE.  I know he’ll make you laugh!

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4 August 1790 – 2020   U.S. Coast Guard Birthday – th (8)

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2015/08/03/us-coast-guard-225th-birthday/

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Military  – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frank L. Athon – Cincinnati, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc. # 486357, Co. A/6/2nd Marine Division, KIA (Tarawa)

Raymond Battersby – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, coxswain, USS Adair

Traditions of Honor & Respect

Herman Cain – Memphis, TN; Civilian, US Navy ballistics analyst / media contributor, President candidate

Clarence Gilbert – Oklahoma City, OK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, POW / Korea

Lucille Herbert (100) – Manchester, NH; US Army WAC, WWII, 2nd Lt., nurse

Joe Kernan – South Bend, IN; US Navy, Vietnam, USS Kitty Hawk, pilot, POW, 2 Purple Hearts / mayor, governor

Conrad Robinson – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, Operation Joint Guardian, SSgt., medical specialist, 155/26/44th Medical Brigade, KIA (Kosovo)

Vinson Rose – Menifae County, KY; US Army, Vietnam, Sgt. Major (Ret. 22 y.), 82nd & 101st Airborne, 1964 Soldier of the Year, 4 Bronze Stars

Catherine Smalligan – Detroit, MI; Civilian, US Navy Recruiting Office (Kalamazoo)

Floyd Warren – North Bloomfield, OH; US Army, WWII, Lt. Col., Purple Heart, Bronze Star

Those lost to us during the Camp Pendleton training exercise…..

— Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 19, of Corona, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU.

— Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

— Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wis., a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU.

— U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, Calif., a hospital corpsman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

— Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21, of Bend, Ore., a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

__ Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 20, New Braunfels, TX; USMC, rifleman with Bravo Co./ BLT

— Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 23, of Harris, Texas, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

— Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 19, of Portland, Ore., a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

— Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

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The Most Dangerous Paper Route in the World

 

Stars and Stripes, which dates back to the Civil War, has published continuously since World War II. In 2010, the paper won a prestigious George Polk Award for revealing the Defense Department’s use of a public relations firm that profiled reporters and steered them toward favorable coverage of the war in Afghanistan. In 2015, the publication broke the news that NBC anchor Brian Williams had exaggerated a story about his reporting in Iraq. Much of the day-to-day coverage is news of direct concern to service members and their families: pay and benefits, life on base and in the field, the real people behind the global geopolitics.

Central Command Area of Responsibility (Apr. 4, 2003) — Command Sgt. Maj. John Sparks, delivers copies of Stars and Stripes to U.S. Marines from Weapons Platoon, 3-2 India Company. The Marines are part of Task Force Tarawa, deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. USMC photo by 1st Sgt. David K. Dismukes.

The paper is a modern multimedia operation with a website, a social media presence and a couple of podcasts, and the print edition reaches troops in parts of the world where Internet access is absent.

“I remember being in al-Anbar and Haditha and picking up Stars and Stripes in the middle of a war zone,” says Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), one of Moulton’s committee colleagues and a fellow Marine veteran. “I didn’t have a cellphone.  Access to the Internet was very limited. But with every mail delivery there came a Stars and Stripes, and I was able to keep connected to the world.”

“Stars and Stripes kept our spirits up and kept us informed at some of the most difficult times,” says Moulton, who served four tours of duty in Iraq. “Just knowing they were out there doing their job — looking out for us by doggedly pursuing the truth — gave us more faith in our work and reinforced the values we were literally putting our lives on the line for.”

The paper’s publisher, Max Lederer, said, “You can give a service member the best gun in the world, but if his mind is elsewhere — if he’s worried about things at home — then he’s not going to be as good a soldier, and part of our role is to provide that information to give him a sense of comfort.”

Bill Mauldin

“This service cannot be duplicated in the private sector and should be maintained,” Thornberry said in a statement to The Post. “Ultimately, ‘Stripes’ should be preserved, but the business model will have to change so that the program can be maintained without taxing DOD resources.” But Thornberry concedes the fundamental point: “Stars and Stripes performs a useful function for men and women in uniform, particularly those who are forward deployed with limited access to news.” As Gates puts it, “Nobody else covers the Defense Department schools in Japan.”

Star and Stripes faces challenges, and rewards, every day in producing a newspaper for hundreds of thousands of service members, their families and other DoD employees deployed around the world, and in delivering that paper to its readers, including those in dangerous war and contingency areas.

1945 Stars & Stripes

Stripes’ allegiance to independent news – uncensored by military command influence – has established a unique, trusting relationship between the paper and its readers that is like no other. Readers trust Stripes to tell the truth, even though it has the conflicting challenge of delivering First Amendment-protected news while technically part of the Department of Defense.

If you wish to contact Stars & Stripes – Click Here!

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Military Humor – Stars & Stripes style – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Norbert T. Beck – Suffolk, Va; US Army, WWII

Reine Corbeil – MT; US Navy, SeaBee engineer

Iraq

King Dixon – SC; USMC (Ret. 22 y.), Bronze Star / SC football star & coach

E.G. Galarosa – Sta.Magdalena Soraogon, PI; US Army/Philippine Scouts, WWII, POW

Angelo ‘Buck’ Godici – Southington, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Charles Hogan – Vancouver, CAN; Allied International Service, WWII, PTO

Hugh Moore – Tomahawk, WI; US Navy, WWII, USS Wolverine

Frank E. Petersen Jr. – Topeka, KS; USMC, Korea & Vietnam, LT.General (Ret. 38 y.)

John M. Robertson – Camden, AR; US Air Force, Vietnam, pilot, Colonel (Ret. 23 y.)

Robert Sandona – Rockford, IL; US Navy, WWII, USS James C. Owens

Gerald Winters – Glen Falls, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Tower Operator

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