Category Archives: First-hand Accounts

JUNGLE JUICE Letter X

K-P Duty

In Dobodura, New Guinea, the 457th began to notice severe shortages in their sugar supply.  As it turned out, there was a major boot-legging operation in progress.  With the absence of alcohol, the men felt necessity would be the mother of invention, but they were caught with their stills in production.  The makeshift liquor companies were immediately put out of business.

My father had other ideas.  The following letter was one I never tired of reading; it always gives me a chuckle or two.  My father’s ingenuity was unfailing.  He used to tell me, “If you think hard enough, there’s a solution to every problem.”  After years of having tended bar, this was going to  be right up Smitty’s alley.

Letter # 10 has been previously published by “Whistling Shade” magazine in 2007.  I submitted it during their war story inquiry.  And also, in The Miller Family’s “Soldiers’ Stories vol. 1”

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Letter X                                                          “Jungle Juice”                                                                                    Monday 7/17/44

Dear Mom, 

The title of this letter, at first glance, will no doubt puzzle you, but I suspect at the end you will know more than you do now.  Before going any farther with this, allow me to explain the whys and wherefores of its origin and purpose.

The Army has been telling us, for some time now, that any day (they mean year), they are going to issue us hot, dry soldiers some beer.  They haven’t told us the percentages yet, but never fear, it will be 3.2.  In the meantime, we’re here in New Guinea patiently awaiting the day.  We know, because our eyes and nostrils do not lie, that there is good whiskey slyly floating about.  Try as we may to lay hold of some, as yet, none have succeeded. 

There is an old saying, told to me by a much older and wiser veteran of this man’s army that goes: “Take something away from a soldier and he will, in time, make or find a better substitute.”  Hence and forever after – Jungle Juice.

To begin the making of this liquor substitute, one must first overcome a few minor details in order to secure the necessary equipment and ingredients.  First:  You may try to cultivate the friendship of the mess sergeant.  This is easily accomplished if one is well endowed with currency.  Second:  You may try getting on guard duty and taking a chance of getting the job of protecting the mess hall. (The odds against this working out is ten to one against you.)  This is the hard way of acquiring the friendship of the mess sergeant and we will continue.  With your new buddy’s help, you now have in your proud and cherished possession a quantity of raisins, dried prunes or apricots and some sugar.  (Very rarely will one come up with any yeast, so we will forget it.)

Now, we need something to put all this stuff into.  To make matters worse, it cannot be metal and it must be waterproof.  A nail barrel will do the trick, if we soak it in water, thereby allowing the wood to swell.  You could go to the supply sergeant and get a saw, hammer, nails and boards, but in taking this route, you risk your supplier discovering your idea and you will have to pay him off with the promise that, when finished, he will receive a share.  Not only is this undesirable, but now you will have to sit out in the hot sun and build a cask.  My first suggestion of a nail barrel will not only save you labor, but also add an extra drink of this wonderful alcoholic beverage.

Now, we are ready to begin.  Into the empty cask, put your fruit and sugar, making certain to add water.  With your hands, (clean ones are advisable) stir everything around while crushing some of the fruit with your fists.  This is what’s called the “rapid juice extraction process.”  When finished, cover the cask with a clean piece of linen long enough to drape over the side.  Here, you can also use a G.I. handkerchief or undershirt.  (This is just a sanitary precaution and it in no way affects the product.)

Now, dig yourself a hole (under your bunk preferably) large enough to receive the cask and conceal it.  This is a necessary precaution as the manufacture of Jungle Juice is frowned upon by the Army and especially you C.O. or Inspection Officer.  The finding of such might cause embarrassment.  This way it will only be found if someone should trip you C.O. and he inadvertently falls face down on the spot.

All you have to do at this point is use some self-control and patiently wait out the next two or three weeks as the fruit, sugar and water do their stuff.  We all know from experience that you will only sit out two weeks, so let’s get on with the last step.  Surely you have kept busy locating empty bottles and cleaning them, so dig up the cask.

To accomplish the final phase, it is wise to get your mattress cover and put it over a clean, steel helmet.  You will find that the Army had supplied you with a damn good filter.  The whole parts stay on top and the liquid freely pours through, without blemish to the helmet.  Pour the juice into the bottles and seal with candle wax, making them air tight.  Here is the most difficult step because by this time, not only your curiosity, but your craving for a taste is so high — you’re almost completely out of control.  But, you must put your contraband away for one more week.

As the expected day approaches, I want to warn you to be on the lookout for newly acquired friends who start calling on you, regardless of the fact that they never came near you before.  Yes, you are suddenly becoming the most popular guy in camp.  When the hour approaches, marked as the time of reckoning, I would advise you to make up your mind that you are not going to finish it all in one sitting.  Actually, this precaution is really unnecessary, as the Jungle Juice will decide that for you.

I won’t describe the taste.  For some it is bitter and others say sweet.  No two batches are alike and in fact the Juice has no opposition.  Even its most adamant foes agree that for variety, the Juice has no equal.

This recipe is given free of charge.

I hope to hear your hiccupping in your next letter soon. 

Your brewmeister son & never to be dry again,     Everett

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General Swing decided, after the stills were destroyed, to bring ice cream machines and set up sports competitions.  Teams were made up for volleyball, softball and tackle football.  This proved not only to lift their spirits, but the activities kept them in top physical shape.

[ It always amazed me that such a letter as “Jungle Juice” made it through the censors without Smitty ever getting into trouble.  His little operation was never discovered. ]

click on images to enlarge.

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HAPPY  271st  BIRTHDAY TO THE U.S. COAST GUARD on 4 August 2021!!!

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Military Humor – 

someone was drunk when they thought this one up!!

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Farewell Salutes – 

Henry Bock – Saco, ME; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Stella Charron – Meriden, CT; US Army WAC; WWII

Dan Antion’s flag

Warren Durling – Kingston, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Watton Air Base

Fred Farris – Hillsboro, TX; USMC; WWII, PTO, Sgt.,  Co I/3/2/2nd Marine Division, KIA (Betio, Tarawa Atoll)

Lawrence “Benny” Goodman (100) – W.  London, ENG; RAF 617th Squadron, pilot

Harold W. Lindsey – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 3822258, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Edward L. Queen – Baltimore, MD; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBee, MGySgt.

Thomas J. Redgate – Brighton, MA; US Army, Korea, 1st Lt., Batt A/48/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Eugene M. Skaggs – Anstead, WV; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Signalman, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Dale “Snort” Snodgrass – USA; US Navy, Captain, pilot ‘Top Gun’

Micah Walker – USA; US Army, Medical SSgt., 10th Special Forces Green Berets

Art VanDresser – Independence, KS; US Navy, WWII & Korea

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11th Airborne Division – June 1944 – Lt. Gen. G.C. Kenney

Crashed Zero, Lae, New Guinea

Smitty always made mention of how hard the soldiers before him had to struggle.  He noticed that no matter how hard people or nature tried to disguise their surroundings, the scars of war were everywhere.  In New Guinea, my father had a clear view of the battle remnants of General Robert Eichelberger’s Australian and American troops from when they fought on a similar terrain and in battles as fiercely intense as Guadalcanal – on each island the territories had to be taken inch by inch.  (Many veterans know of what I speak.)

Japanese equipment

Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney, Chief of Allied Air Forces, in the southwest Pacific sent his complaints to the War Dept.  and Gen. “Hap” Arnold, head of the U.S. Army Air Forces to explain just that in 1942:

“… The Japanese is still being underrated.  There is no question of our being able to defeat him, but the time, effort, blood and money required to do the job may run to proportions beyond all conception, particularly if the devil is allowed to develop the resources he is now holding.

Gen. George C. Kenney

“Look at us in Buna.  There are hundreds of Buna ahead for us.  The Japanese there has been in a hopeless position for months.  He has been outnumbered heavily throughout the show.  His garrison has been whittled down to a handful by bombing and strafing.  He has no air support and his own Navy has not been able to get passed our air blockade to help him.  He has seen lots of Japs sunk off shore a few miles away.  He has been short on rations and has had to conserve his ammunition, as his replenishment from submarines and small boats working down from Lae at night and once by parachute from airplanes has been precarious, to say the least.  The Emperor told them to hold, and believe me, they have held!  As to their morale — they still yell out to our troops, “What’s the matter, Yanks?  Are you yellow?  Why don’t you come in and fight?”  A few snipers, asked to surrender after being surrounded, called back, “If you bastards think you are good enough, come and get us!”

“…I’m afraid that a lot of people, who think this Jap is a “pushover” as soon as Germany falls, are due for a rude awakening.  We will have to call on all our patriotism, stamina, guts and maybe some crusading spirit or religious fervor thrown in to beat him.  No amateur team will take this boy out.  We have got to turn professional.  Another thing: there are no quiet sectors in which troops get started off gradually, as in the last war.  There are no breathers on this schedule.  You take on Notre Dame every time you play!”

Gen. Eichelberger

It was after this one month later after this report that the specialized training for the 11th A/B began and the War Dept. also saw the need for improved weapons for this “new type of war.”   Under the direction of Colonel William Borden this effort resulted in: 105-mm and 155-mm mortars, flamethrowers, ground rockets, colored smoke grenades and the skidpans for towing heavy artillery in muddy terrains.

But – still at this point – only about 15% of the Allied resources were going to the Pacific.

 

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Military Humor – 

“Sorry sir, but the lads won’t go over the top if the ladder hasn’t been health and safety tested.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Abraham Bashara – Lawrence, MA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Ralph C. Battles – Boaz, AL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fireman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor

Gary Cohen – Tuscaloosa, AL; Civilian, Veteran’s Dept. Psychologist, (Florida condo collapse)

Louis N. Crosby – Orangeburg, SC; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Co A/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Warren G.H. DeVault – Rhea, TN; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pvt. # 34493012, Co F/2/12/4th Infantry Div, Bronze Star, KIA (Hürtgen, GER)

Dielon Harwood – Guion, TX; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret.)

William MacDonald – Quincy, MA; US Army, WWII, Signal Corps

Frank Nicholls, NZ; RNZ Army # 436280, WWII

Ward Russo – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Essex, mechanic

Edwin Sedran – Far Rockaway, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Elaine Smith – Syracuse, NY; US Coast Guard SPARS, WWII

Glen F. White – MO; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc. # 371100, Co A/1/6/2nd Marine Division, Silver Star,  KIA (Betio, Tarawa Atoll)

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What should the caption be?

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Letter VIII G.I. Labor

Smitty near Lae, New Guinea in front of his tent

You may notice in Smitty’s letters that he does not mention his rigorous training or even combat in his later ones.   As a child I asked if I would ever catch him in one of the old news reels and he said that he surely doubted it.  He made a point to avoid any photographers in the event his mother caught sight of the pictures of him in combat.  No matter how hard things had become, he found something else to talk about, but he did have a tongue-in-cheek humor that could amuse someone even while he was complaining.

the Pyramidal tent

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Letter VIII                                G.I. Labor                                         6/17/44

Dear Mom,

Work!  Work!  And more work.  After a week here, we still can’t figure when it is all going to end.  We put tents up, then take them down.  That is our biggest problem — tents.

The War Department in Washington has its offices in a large air-conditioned building costing hundreds of thousands of the taxpayer’s money.  In this building, they have all the inventing geniuses of the land.  All they do is design equipment and little what-nots for us.  After that, it is submitted to the boards of Strategy, Health, Welfare, etc.

Now, some poor weak underfed inventor designed in a moment of frenzy and excitement, the Pyramidal Tent number M.6606.  It passed everything and every board with flying colors — until finally — we got hold of it.  We put them up with the loss of tons of perspiration and energy, only to find out later that someone, someplace around here didn’t like the way they looked.  That job of putting the tents up was simple and much too easy.  They sent down a set of blue prints that reminded me of the Empire State Building with the Holland Tunnel thrown in.

Well, next day, bright and early we arose wearily to find that we were to be split up into different sections such as log cutters, tent putter-uppers, log setters and log finders.  We, the pole setter-uppers, sat down and pondered over the blue prints.  We had to raise the center pole 16 inches, while on the four corners erect eight-foot poles.  Then, connecting these  poles at the top of 16-foot logs.

Sounds very easy, but for some reason or other, the trees grew in the jungle across a stream which all in all made log cutting and finding an exasperating business.  Undaunted though, the men went in laden down with axes, saws and prismatic and soon logs were being cut — also fingers, arms and legs.  It wasn’t long before we had the amount of lumber necessary to start work on the first domicile, house or tent.  We were all set and ready, four men were holding up the corner poles and one man steadied the center pole.  The whistle blows for us to fall in and be counted.  We fall in, the corners fall out and the blame tent fell down.  Oh Well!!  What the heck, tomorrow’s another day and after all, the boys that belonged in that tent can sleep out.

This routine kept up for days until finally all our tents were erected and set.  “Looks good,” we all said and good it was, but not to some of the higher-ups who again decided the tents were now too high and would we please, under threat of court-martial, lower the 4 corner posts to 5 feet.  (Oh death, where is thy sting?)  Upon completing this last detail, they then decided the tents should all be moved and then lined up on a new line.  This has been going on for so long that each morning we have to stop, think and hold ourselves in check, for a few times we caught men automatically tearing down tents or putting up poles where there wasn’t anything to put up.

“The heat!” they said, and then gave us half a day off, only to try to squeeze it out of us the next afternoon.  Well, maybe they can get blood out of a stone.

“Well, that’s all for that in this letter as I don’t want to tire you out completely listening to some of our other minor details that are stuck in here and there, such as digging latrine holes, building officer’s tents and officer knickknacks, polishing up, which we are experts at, K.P. duty, inspections, washing clothes and at night making little things for ourselves such as tables, desks, clothes racks, rings out of coins, wristwatch bands and loads of other do-dads.  I guess though the hardest thing is trying all day not to do all this work and go on the gold-bricking standard.  That last line would be understood by any buck private or G.I. as absolute fact and truth.

Wearily I end this letter and sleepily say regards to all. 

With love and kisses,  Everett

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Current News – 

equipsblog has notified us of a WWII & Korean War veteran, Ed Hyatt, who will be turning 100 soon!  Please visit over there and get Mr. Hyatt’s story and the address where to send a card.  Let’s give Ed an outstanding birthday!!

The Mission 54 story and address

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert W. Bronner – Reading, OH; US Army, WWII, ETO

John C. Burney Jr. – Little Falls, NY; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, airborne, West Point graduate ’46, BGeneral (Ret.)

Viggo Christensen Jr. – Schenectady, NY; US Army, 886th Medical/11th Airborne Division

Ralph A. Derrington – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Marshall Elliott – Lander, WY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Aviation Gunner’s Mate

Richard L. Henderson – Lansing, NY; US Army, Korea, Cpl., HQ/57th Field Artillery/7th Infantry Div., KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Charles Holtzman Jr. (101) – US Army, WWII, POW

William Medford – Ripley, TN; US Army, WWII, Cpl.

Montgomery Meigs – Holderness, NH; US Army, Vietnam, West Point graduate ’67,General (Ret.) / Europe Comdr.

Edward Miller – Evansville, WI; US Air Force, Korea, Airman 2nd Class, KIA (Alaska)

George L. Paradis – Yelm, WA; US Navy, WWII, Pharmacist’s Mate, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Anel B. Shay – USA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 345/98/9th Air Force, 2nd Lt., B-24 bombardier, Operation Tidal Wave, KIA (Ploiesti, ROM)

William H. Stephens – Delta, AL; US Army, Korea & Vietnam (Ret. 26 y.)

Donald A. Stott – Monticello, IA; US Navy, WWII, # 3214004, PTO, Seaman 1st Class,, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Reid Waltman – Lyndhurst, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 758 BS/459th Bombardment Group, Navigator

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4th of July 2021

SEEMS WE DON’T SAY IT ENOUGH – SO, I’M TRYING TO FIX THAT RIGHT HERE – GOD BLESS THE USA!!!

We can rant and we can complain, but we should thank the troops for giving us the right to do so!  Today we celebrate our country’s birthday.  Traditional BBQ’s, fireworks, family and friends, we have a day off and have a ball!  – and to whom do we owe it all?  You guessed it_____

THE SOLDIER’S POEM

When this is over

And we come home again,

Forget the band

And cheers from the stand;

Just have the things

Well in hand –

The things we fought for.

UNDERSTAND?

_____Pfc C.G. Tiggas

ONLY A SAILOR

He’s only a sailor on the boundless deep,

Under foreign skies and tropical heat.

Only a sailor on the rolling deep,

In summer rain and winter sleet.

Fireworks and cookouts
And time spent with friends.
Swimming and playing
The good times never end.
But lest we forget
The reason for today
Let’s all say it now
Happy Independence Day!

Freedom’s Price!
Today we celebrate freedom
thanks to those who came before.
Those brave men who fought and died
in each and every war.
Freedom always comes at a price,
And while we celebrate
We should tip our hats to the heroes
who made our country great.

Red White and Blue
Hamburgers and hot dogs
cooked on the grill,
Fireworks in the night
giving us all a thrill.
The country all decked
in red white and blue.
Friends all saying
‘Happy 4th of July to you.’

Where does your state rate in its patriotism? 

https://wallethub.com/edu/most-patriotic-states/13680

Comic hero from the 1940’s , courtesy of Balladeer…

https://glitternight.com/2021/06/18/first-fighting-yank-stories-from-the-1940s/

FUN FACT:

Denmark is the only country outside of the United States that holds an official 4th July celebration.  Celebrated annually since 1911, thousands of people from across the country gather in Rebild National Park in Jutland for picnics, speeches and to sing some American classics.  Known as Rebildfesten, its organizers claim that it is is the biggest celebration of US independence outside of the USA.

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4TH OF JULY HUMOR –

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Walter S. Belt Jr. – KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

James Cummings – Minneapolis, MN; US Atmy, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

Jack DeTour – USA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-25 pilot and instructor

Max Foster – Brownstown, IL; US Army, WWII, radio operator

Philip T. Hoogacker – Detroit, MI; US Army, Korea, Pfc # 16315593, 1/29th Infantry Reg.; POW, KIA (Pyongyang, NK)

John E. Hurlburt – Madison, CT; US Army, WWII, PTO, Sgt. # 20126929, 105/27th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Saipan)

James A. Kilgore – El Paso, TX; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, 187th RCT, Pvt. > Colonel (Ret. 30 y.), Bronze Star, Silver Star

Frank Kokernak (101) – Dudley, MA; US Army, WWII, ETO, medic

Rogene Laut – Minister, OH; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

Jerome Lerner (100) – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII, Lt. JG

Chad Peyton – Chandler, TX; US Army, Iraq, Captain, pilot, Bronze Star

Donald H. Rumsfeld – Taos, NM; US navy, pilot  /  60 years of public service

Bernard J. Sweeney Jr. – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt., # 32645733, Co I/330/83rd Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Hürtgen Forest, GER)

James C. Willis – Albuquerque, NM; US Air Force, Qatar, Lt. Col., 557th Expeditionary Red Horse Sq/Heavy Construction Engineers

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Letter VII Land

native hut in New Guinea

For a period of five months the 11th Airborne Division would receive jungle warfare and intensified combat unit ground training in the primitive land of jungles and mountains and thatched huts and the native population fondly called, Fuzzy Wuzzies.  The Papua brigades and Allied forces, that fought in what constituted the Cartwheel Operations before the troopers arrived, made this landing possible.

The Dobodura area that the 11th A/B would make their home was inherited from the 5th Air Force.  The first order of business was for the 408th Quartermaster trucks to deliver the pyramidal tents.

Smitty near Lae, New Guinea

 

 

Letter VII                                                          Land               6/8/44

 

  Dear Mom,    

Well, here we are on the island of New Guinea.  From what we can see if it so far, I know we’ll never go hungry as the coconut trees are as thick as a swarm of bees.

We started for our area in trucks after all the rumors said we’d walk and we “Oh!” and Ah’d” all throughout the trip.  Not wanting to show the natives here how smart we are, the driver proceeded on his own when lo and behold — where were we?  I don’t know, no one knows, so right away we all knew that wherever we were — that wasn’t where we were supposed to be. 

Now, of course, we weren’t to blame, as after all, this is a strange and new place to us and they didn’t give us a Socony road map or a compass reading, so no matter — drive on — come what may.  Of course, some large and strange appearing trees which grew in the road had different ideas and no matter how hard we hit them, they consistently set us back.  How they ever managed to find a road to grow in is beyond me, but then they were here before us.  Naturally, after the way they treated our truck, we gave them a wide berth, eventually leaving the road al together.

When after what seemed like hours, we finally found our area, much to the delight of the lower hind part of our anatomy.  Then, our shoulders and backs had to haul our bags around until we found our tents.  This was done very systematically: someone had the idea of first asking the captain just where we belonged and he proceeded to take us there.  We could see at once that this place was no place for us and got right down to thinking up goldbricking alibis.

Work here is the main word we soon found out, and might I add we are all still trying to duck, but it seems that as soon as one finds a spot in the woods, oops I mean jungle, the tree-chopper-downers come along and there you are not only up to your neck in work, but also find out that now your haven is so exposed as to make it useless again as a hideout.

You might wonder what all this labor is about and also expect to find out in this chapter or letter, but no, it shall never be.  I’m saving that for the next installment, which I’m sure you will be breathlessly awaiting. 

 Regards to all.

Love, Your son,  Everett

Quartermaster Corps collar disc

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Barno – Nesquehoning, PA; US Navy, WWII  /  USMC, Korea, Sgt.

Wesley J. Brown – Helena, MT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Arthur W. Countryman – Plainfield, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, TSgt., Co. F/12/4th Infantry Division Bronze Star, KIA (Hürtgen Forest, GER)

Robert F. England – MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, “Hump” pilot  /  Korea, 1st Lt.

Kenneth G. Hart (100) – Stanwood, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Floyd D. Helton – Somerset, KY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, Fireman, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Donald Johnson (100) – Lake Orion, MI; US Navy, WWII, USS Takanis Bay (CVE-89)

Henry J. Kolasinski – Clayton, DE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

Charles E. Lee – McLennan County, TX; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. K/3/34/24th Infantry Division, Field Lineman, KIA (Taejon, SK)

Thelma Miller – Akron, OH; Civilian, WWII, Goodyear Aircraft Corp., F4U construction

Robert Read (101) – London, ENG; Royal Navy, submarine service / Korea, Lt. Comdr.

Merle Smith Jr. – New London, CT; US Coast Guard, Vietnam, Cutter Comdr., Coast Guard Academy graduate Class of ’66

John J. Trumbley – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co. H/137th Infantry, Sgt.

Stanley Wilusz – Holyoke, MA; US Merchant Marines, WWII  /  US Army, Korea, Sgt.

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My week went well……

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Letter VI – Land Ho! On the Port Side

Dobodura, New Guinea

Just as Smitty expected, their destination was quickly coming up over the horizon.  The fleeting glimpse of solid land, Milne Bay, New Guinea was only a short stopover for water (such a disappointment) and they continued their cruise north.  The 11th Airborne Division came upon the humming waterfront of ships manipulating to unload troops, supplies and equipment in Oro Bay.  They witnessed a paradoxal view of organized chaos.

Down the rope ladders they went to the beach taxis, DUKWs (2 ton amphibious vehicles commonly called “ducks”) and onward to the awaiting shoreline.  At latitude 8*52’60S and longitude 148*30’0E, this would become the first step for many a G.I. on foreign soil.  Once they actually hit the beach, the heat seemed to slam into the troopers and their uniforms became soaked within minutes, but they proceeded on to the Buna-Dobodura area to make their new base camp.

July 1944. Sherfy, Johnson, Madam Queen, Roberts, Bachor, Wichmann, Amos, Andy, Hester, Baby Rastus”. By this time, Port Moresby was a secure back area of the Pacific theater.

As written in the Australian newspaper, The Canberra Times, 1944: “New Guinea was a country out of the Stone Age that was whizzed through the centuries.  A country that had previously known only natives, grass huts and raw nature has been blitzed from all angles with every piece of equipment known to modern engineering and warfare … the skies are as busy as a beehive with bombers and fighters and transports.”

The 11th had entered the jungles amidst torrential rains, mud and heat.  On their first day, the meals were prepared in Australian chuck wagons and the idea of fresh food would be a distant memory from the past.  From here on out, everything would be canned, dehydrated or cured.  Having come from the fishing town of Broad Channel, Smitty was accustom to eating seafood and was even teased in boot camp for liking the creamed chipped beef on toast (more commonly known as -“shit-on-a-shingle”), but those days were long gone.  I remember him saying more than once, “It wasn’t that the powdered eggs tasted bad — they just didn’t have a taste.”

Although General Swing, commander of the 11th A/B, had contracted malaria and was hospitalized when his men shipped out of the U.S., he boarded a plane for Brisbane, Australia to attend a meeting with Gen. MacArthur.  Swing was briefed on the immediate plans for his command and was reminded that the 11th A/B was considered a “secret weapon”, they would be in reserve for the New Guinea action though.  Swing managed to be in Dobodura in time to meet his men as they disembarked.

Dobodura, New Guinea

 

Letter VI                                                                                                       Land Ho!  On the port side

Dear Mom,  Well, land is in sight so I’ll just hold off this letter awhile until I can find out for sure if this is what we have all been waiting for or just another island….  Yep and yes siree this is finally it and from what I have seen up to now it is going to prove not only an interesting place, but picturesque as well.  Don’t know yet if we can say where we are, so I won’t attempt it.

Everyone is standing along the railings with glasses while those less fortunate are straining their eyes trying to get a glimpse of our new and strange surroundings.  It is all very exciting and thrilling and must say one gets sort of feeling down deep that is hard to explain.  It might be that the sight of this long awaited place has sub-consciously awaked us to the fact that we are one heck of a long way from home.

Now that we are here in a port with a chance of possibly getting this letter mailed, I’ll close this letter and mail it as I know how anxious you must be about me and would like to hear from me as soon as possible.  I promise you though that I will continue to write my letters like this and would like you to save them all so that when I get back I will have something to read back on and maybe remember.

I did finally get around to   so don’t worry any on that account.  I know how you worry about things like that so thought it best that you know.    That is just about all there is for now, so with regards to all and hoping this letter is the answer to your nightly prayers, I’ll close with all my love and millions of hugs and kisses.

Your son,  Everett

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Eldred ‘Mickey’ Alexander – Center, CO; US Army, WWII, ETO, 10th Armored Division

Stephen W. Babjar (100) – Albany, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, machinist’s mate, PT-27/Ron 1

Malcom J. Barber – All 3 brothers – New London, WI; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Leroy K.  Barber    –   All 3 brothers were firemen, USS Oklahoma

Randolph H.  Barber – All 3 brother were KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Raymond C. Blanton – Richmond, VA; US Army, WWII, ETO, SSgt., Co. C/1/60/9th Infantry Division, KIA (Hüftgen Forest, GER)

Robert Douglas – Lynn, MA; US Army, WWII, Sgt.

Forrest T. Frost (101) – Sanger, CA; US navy, WWII, PTO, Chief Engineer, USS YOG-76

Sam Lombardo – (101) – brn: ITL; US Army, WWII, ETO,  /  Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Colonel (Ret.)

Donald Rowley (101) – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 41192, WWII

Diana Seamans – New London, NH; US Navy WAVES, WWII, communications/code breaker

William B. Wagner – Dixon, IL; US Army, 505/11th Airborne Division

Jack K. Wood – Wichita Falls, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., Distinguished Service Cross, 344/98/9th Air Force, B-24 navigator, KIA (Ploiest, ROM)

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The Neptune Society – Letter IV “Still At Sea In A Quandary” – GP Interview

Pacific Ocean, rough seas off New Zealand

When Smitty and the other troopers passed the equator, as per naval tradition, the ship’s crew donned their apparel of King Neptune and his court in preparation of handing the “Pollywogs” (the soldiers) their certificates of crossing.  The Royal Barber tried to cut the hair of the crew-cut troopers and the Royal Executioner paddled a backside with an oar if the receiving line moved too closely to a snail’s pace. (which one can imagine was every G.I. derriere that went by!) Smitty was one to really enjoy this sort of tomfoolery — even if it was with the navy!  The water damage you see to Smitty’s certificate (pictured below) is one of the reasons I began to make a facsimile of his scrapbook onto the computer.  I have re-typed the contents of the certificate to show the humor involved — despite a war.

IT Read….

To All Sailors, Marines, Whatever Ye Maybe: Greetings: and to all Mermaids, Whales, Sea Serpents, Porpoises, Sharks, Eels, Dolphins, Skates, Suckers, Crabs, Lobsters and all other Living Things of the Sea: Know ye, that on this June 15 ’44 in Latitude 00000 and Longitude Cape Mendacia there appeared within Our Royal Domain the bound Southwestward for the Equator, the South Sea Islands, New Zealand and Australian ports.

BE IT REMEMBERED That the said Vessel and Officers and Crew thereof have been inspected and passed on by Ourselves and Royal Staff: AND BE IT KNOWN By all ye Sailors, Marines, Landlubbers, Soldiers and all others who may be honored by his presence, that Pollywog Everett A. Smith 32816491  Having been found worthy to be numbered as one of our Trusty Shellbacks he has been duly initiated into the SOLEMN MYSTERIES OF THE ANCIENT ORDER OF THE DEEP  Be It Further Understood:  That by Virtue of the power invested in me I do hereby command all my subjects to show honor and respect to him wherever he may be.  Disobey the Order under Penalty of Royal Displeasure. (bottom left) Given under our band and seal this Davey Jones, His Majesty’s Scribe – (bottom right)  Neptunus Rex, His Servant – the signature appears to be Gregory Cullen

equator crossing certificate

Smitty’s Letter IV

Letter IV                                                                                    Still at sea in a quandary

Dear Mom,  Well, here I am again as promised.  Yesterday we had a little something different to sea besides the sea.  Notice that I’m getting so that I can only spell  the sea when I mean to write see.  Early in the morning we had the pleasure of seeing another ship and must say it sure made one feel good.  Why it should though I can’t say unless it is the thought that someone else is having it just as tough.  Guess there is some truth in the saying, “Misery loves company.”  We also had the pleasure of watching some islands in the far off distance.  I won’t try to describe them to you, as that would be too much to expect to pass. (Censorship)  You will kindly take notice that I used the words “pleasant” and “pleasure,” if I keep that up you might get the idea this is getting to be that kind of voyage.  Some amusing things do happen though, such as the boys sleeping out on the deck getting caught in the rain or some clumsy ox slipping and sliding his way along the boat.  By the way, I forgot to tell you that we get the regular news everyday in a printed form resembling a newspaper.  Also music by record sounds tinny, but anything out here is good.

You can readily see I haven’t much ambition for writing today, which reminds me    Matter of fact, the way I feel right now, I don’t care much whether I do or not.  Well, that is all for today’s report on nothing, so with all my love, I am your ever obedient son,  Everett

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Smitty and his mother in artwork courtesy of, Priorhouse.wordpress.com/

From GP – Yvette, from Priorhouse, was kind enough to ask me for an interview for Memorial Day.  I was flabbergasted and honored!

I do hope you will go on over and take a peek, I would greatly appreciate it!  Priorhouse

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Burkle Carmichael – Ocala, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO,POW Stalag IV-B

Alex Coran – brn: ITL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Carl M. Ellis – Hope, AK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Myles W. Esmay – Utica, NY; US Army, WWII, CBI, !st Lt., Co B/236th Engineer Battalion w/ Merrill’s Marauders, KIA (Myitkyina, Burma)

Gavin MacLeod – Pleasantville, NY; US Air Force  /  Actor

Theresa Morris – Fairfield, CT; Civilian, WWII, Remington munitions inspector

Brian T. O’Connor – Rahway, NY; US Army, Vietnam, 5th Special Forces

Ralph Palmer (100) – Florence, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., 450/15th Air Force, B-24 bombardier, DFC

Jennings “Bill” Rich – Bainbridge, GA; US Navy, WWII, Korea + Vietnam, USS Boxer, Pickaway + Hornet, MChief Petty Officer (Ret. 20 y.)

Clarence A. Robinson Jr. – Vienna, VA; USMC, Korea, Sgt. / Vietnam, Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart (Ret. 20 y.)

Matsuo “Jack” Tominaga – Shelley, ID; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd RCT

John D. VanPatten – Ft. Wayne, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 152nd Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Lester E. “Tosie” Wawner (101) – Clifton Forge, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO + ETO, Machinist 1st Class, USS Morris / US Coast Guard (Ret.)

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Letter III – SMITTY, Somewhere At Sea At A Loss

May 1944 – US troops relax laying cards while a troopship takes them to their deployment.

From my father’s description of his transport ship out of San Francisco and the approximate number of soldiers that were aboard, I can speculate that it was a Heywood class ship.  As the ship lumbered out to the ocean swells, many of the young men took their final glance of the USA.  Smitty thought that his most boring time in the army was while he sailed on this cruise, although he did well in learning how to play cards – as did many other G.I.’s.

USS Heywood

As they boarded, the ship’s crew immediately began enforcing the security procedures.  All portholes and hatches were covered and no lights were allowed after dusk.  The heat below deck would become intolerable.  The arrival of the “ditty bags” filled with toiletries, cigarettes, gum and a harmonica brightened their spirits; although many of the mouth organs were sent flying overboard when the noise made from the tin-eared soldiers became too much for the ship’s officers to endure.  This cruise would take 28 days.

 

Letter III                                                  Somewhere at sea at a loss

 

Dear Mom,  

 We have been on this tub for quite some time now and I must say that although the army doesn’t go to any great pains making you comfortable, they sure do go to extremes making it unpleasant.   I can’t tell you as much as I would like to about the  trip or what we are doing.  One reason is that we don’t know where the heck we are anyway and as for what we are doing, well anything we might like to do would be stopped sooner than it got started.  It has gotten so that now we have to play cards, if money is displayed, down in the hold.  Seems as though the sea gulls over this ocean are the pious type and the sight of men gambling is revolting — or they think it is food.

To try and describe the food or the mess hall would curtail the use of profanity the like of which I wouldn’t attempt to use.  To call it food in the first place is flattery at its best.  Mess Hall is very appropriate — it is some MESS.  This is the first time in my life that I can truthfully say I dread the thought of eating.  We are supposed to tell you that on board ship we can purchase cigarettes for 4 1/2 cents a pack, also candy and a load of other stuff at cost price.  We can also buy bottles of coca cola, but the blame stuff is so hot that we are of the opinion that loaded down with this coke in our stomachs, we might be used as depth charges if a sub should show up.  We did receive free, with no strings attached, a bag full of necessary things from the Red Cross.  It really was worthwhile going after.

Where we might be bound for is still a very big question that will no doubt be answered only when we finally arrive there.  After all, if we knew, we might tell it to the stars and that would be just awful.  I realize this doesn’t sound like a very pleasant letter, but then you must take into consideration this isn’t a very pleasant trip.  None of those romantic moonlit nights.  Well, that is all for today, so until later on when I will be back to add to this,

I’ll say so long for now and all my love,  Everett

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Military Humor –

“Spud peeling machine? Yes, you’re the latest model.” Navy News cartoon # 21

“Chow down at the mess.” USS Darter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Harvey Alexander – East Dennis, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/187/11th Airborne Division

Heren Cabacar – Portsmouth, VA; US Army, WWII & Korea, Death March survivor, POW

RESPECT

Paul C. Charvet – Yakima County, WA; US Navy, Vietnam, Lt. Commander, pilot, Attack Squadron 215, USS Bon Homme Richard, KIA (Phuoc Long Prov.)

Charles Hagemeister – Lincoln, NE; US Army, Vietnam, medic, HQ Co./1/5/1st Cavalry Division, Medal of Honor

Edgar Harrell – Clarksville, TN; USMC, WWII, PTO, USS Indianapolis survivor

Harry Holmes – USA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, fireman 3rd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

John King – Scranton, PA; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Lloyd “Babe” Lashaway – Liberty Center, WI; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division

Burl Mullins – Dorton, KY; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Heavy Mortar Co./3/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

M.Bernadine Pierce – Herrin, IL; Civilian, WWII, “Rosie” at Mc Donald Douglas

Victor Sharp – Christchurch, NZ; NZ Army # 446826, WWII, PTO, SSgt., “Z” Special Unit

Peter Tarantino – Woodbridge, NJ; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

John Wilstrup – Seminole, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Boxer

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Camp Stoneman part 1

POE/POD Camp Stoneman

Pvt. Smith was as cocky and proud as the next trooper, but he also thought of the Army as a learning experience and considered his new adventure as a chance to experience things he would not otherwise have the opportunity and on April 23, 1944, he stepped off a train near Camp Stoneman, California.  It was here the troopers would learn how to live aboard ship, operate life boats, raft kits and climb up and down rope ladders.  Censorship of the soldier’s letters began here.

Camp Stoneman

The Inspector General’s men discovered the ruse of the 11th A/B Division hiding behind the paperwork of Shipment #1855 and the troopers began to accumulate AW104’s in record amounts. (Under the Article of War #104 – a commanding officer may give punishment, as is necessary, without the threat of court-martial.)  May 2, the 11th A/B moved to Pittsburg, CA by way of inland boats to their actual POE/POD (Point of Entry/Point of Departure), and the letters from Smitty began …

Letter I                                                                                                                        Tuesday 5/2/44

Dear Mom,

I sure am a fine one after calling you Sunday especially to wish you a Happy Birthday and I go and forget to, but I assure you it wasn’t intentional, but just excitement of the conversation.  I tried yesterday to buy a card, but to no avail.  No doubt by the time you receive this letter you will be wondering why I didn’t call you this week as I promised I would.  It just so happened that we were confined to our company area starting yesterday morning, so it was an impossibility to get to either a telephone or telegraph office.     From now on all my letters to you will be numbered as this one is in the upper left hand corner.  In that way, you can read my letters in sequence and can tell whether or not you are receiving all my letters.  I would also advise sending all letters to me from now on by airmail as that will be the quickest way.  We heard that not all the mail so far from here has yet been sent out, but when it does go out, why you will no doubt get them all at once.  Tell everyone at home to be patient and they will no doubt hear from me as I sit down Saturday and either write a letter or card to everyone I know.  You had better check up on them all and see that they have my correct address, as the army will notify only you of any new changes.  I sure don’t want to lose out on my letters of anyone just because they have an incorrect address.     Yesterday we didn’t do much of anything, but Sunday was really quite an entertaining day.  We went bowling, then to a free USO show and from there to a movie.  The entertainment is so full and alive that sometimes it still persists in your dreams.  Therefore, you can really say they even take care of you while you are slumbering.     Well mom, that is all for now, so once more I want to wish you a “Happy Birthday” and the best of everything.  Don’t worry and keep your chin up.   

Love,                 Everett

PS – Be on the lookout for a new Class E allotment I made out and also a B allotment.  Your allotments now will come to 22 dollars cash and a $18.75 war bond a month.  I’m getting pretty good, aren’t I?

Camp Stoneman souvenir

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Current News – Everyone helps out when it comes to finding the MIA.

 

Austrian Raimund Riedmann, pilot with the Flying Bulls, flies a restored P-38 Lightning

Austrian, Raimund Riedmann, a pilot with the Flying Bulls, flies a restored P-38 Lightning during a fly over event for a recovery team attached to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), Austria, April 25, 2021. DPAA personnel arrived to conduct excavation operations in an effort to find a U.S. service member lost from a P-38 lightning that crashed during World War II. DPAA’s Mission is to achieve the fullest possible accounting for missing and unaccounted-for US personnel to their families and our nation. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melanye Martinez)

 

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Military Humor –

‘Lord, what have they done to him? He made his own bed!’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert R. Arrowsmith – Livermore, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Pfc., rifleman, Co E/511 PIR/11th Airborne Division

Carmen DePaulo III – Jacksonville, FL; US Army, Africa, Green Beret, Medical Sgt., 3rd Special Forces

John Foye Jr. – Lowell, MA; US Navy, Japanese Occupation

William Halliday – Scarborough, CAN; Queen’s Own Rifles, WWII, ETO

Sherman Hoffenberg – Delray Beach, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Military Police

Clifford S. Johnson – Valatie, NY; US Army, Korea, Cpl., HQ Co./57 FA/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Joseph Kuba (100) – Struthers, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Major (Ret.), 1264th Engineer Combat Battalion

Lindbergh Lopez – Niagara Falls, NY; USMC; WWII, Korea / US Army, Vietnam (Ret. 23 y.)

Ian N. Morosoff – Saquamish, WA; US Army, Pfc., Co. B/1/503/173rd Airborne Division

Robert Parker – Lansing, MI; US Army, WWII, PTO, pilot, 1st Lt.,35th FS/8th Fighter Group, KIA (New Guinea)

Lloyd Price – New Orleans, LA; US Army, Korea  /  singer

G. Clark Shaffer – Bloomsburg, PA; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 5th Air Force

Bobby Unser – Albuquerque, NM; US Air Force, sharp shooter  /  auto racing champion

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“SOLDIERS’ STORIES” VOL. 2, by the Miller Family, REVIEW

Soldiers’ Stories, Vol. II

After reading the Miller Family’s first volume OF SOLDIERS’ STORIES, I was excited to receive Volume # 2.  I was not disappointed.

Not only was I, as usual, proud to see 4 pages of my own Father’s stories in print, but even discovered another member of the 11th Airborne Division represented among the other memoirs.

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Most of my readers tell me that they find the personal stories and letters from my father and other veterans to be their favorite posts.  In this book, readers are privileged to have over 300 pages of such tales.

The many photographs give you a personal perspective, both humorous and educational, of a time that dramatically altered the entire world.  Men and women alike are included in this well constructed journal for the generation we are so quickly losing.

Every branch of service, in each theater of operation, is represented along with the invaluable contributions of the home front military, women, civilians and our British Allies.

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Modern day honoring of those buried in foreign lands and innumerable photos of the people who fought for us and the treasures they left behind.  Even fellow blogger and author, Joy Neal Kidney, has the Wilson Family included.

You can hear in their words the eagerness to serve their country, their laughter and the camaraderie of close unit ties.  You might even feel their pain.

Inspired by the Miller Family’s, SSgt. Myron Miller, of the 83rd Infantry, I can unquestionably recommend both Volume  # 1 and # 2 of SOLDIERS’ STORIES!

For Myra Miller’s blog, click HERE!

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Military Humor –

“I’ve given you th’ best years of my life.”

“What’s your job, steady K.P.?”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Evo Aspreli – New Haven, CT; US Army, WWII

Michael Collins – Washington, D.C.; US Air Force, pilot  /  NASA, Astronaut, MGeneral

111024-N-WD757-029
SAN DIEGO (Oct. 24, 2011) Ceremonial honor guard await to render honors for retired Vice Adm. Paul F. McCarthy. McCarthy (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Carlos M. Vazquez II/Released)

Carl Dalrymple – Jamestown, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

James Edgar (100) – brn: Pietersburg, So. Afr.; Gordon Highlanders, WWII, ETO & CBI, Intelligence SOE

Philip T. Hoogacker – USA; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Co. D/1/29th Infantry Regiment, KIA (Anui, So. Korea)

George Humphrey – Onslow County, NC; US Army, Medic, 11th Airborne Division

Theodore Q. Jensen – Delta, UT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

James ‘Sonny’ Melhus – Eau Claire, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, HQ Co./506/101st Airborne Division

William H. Melville – Minneapolis, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 2nd Lt., pilot, 36th FS/8th FG, KIA (Papua, New Guinea)

Christopher F. Pantos – Richmond, VA; US Army, Kuwait, SSgt., 55th Sustainment Brigade

John Shoemaker – Mont Clare, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, SSgt., 87th Infantry, Purple Heart

Michael Sierra – San Antonio, TX; Texas National Guard / US Army, Vietnam, platoon leader, 327/101st Airborne Division

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