Category Archives: First-hand Accounts

The Emperor’s Speech

Emperor Hirohito recording his speech

13 August –  two ships, the Pennsylvania and the La Grange were hit by kamikaze carrier planes. All ships in Okinawa harbors were shipped out to ensure their safety. Although the Emperor was at this point demanding peace, the complicated arrangement of their government (Emperor, Premier, Cabinet, Privy Seal, etc. etc.) made it difficult for them to answer the Allies immediately. As Soviet forces, hovering at the 1.5 million mark, launched across Manchuria and approximately 1600 U.S. bombers hit Tokyo.

14 August –  the Emperor made a recording to be played over the Japanese radio stating that their government had surrendered to the Allied powers and to request that his people cooperate with the conquerors. The fanatics, mainly Army officers and also known as die-hards or ultras, attempted to confiscate the prepared discs and claim that the Emperor had been coerced into accepting the Potsdam Declaration.  The Emperor needed to sneak into his bunker to record his speech. People died in this mini revolution and others committed hara-kiri when it failed. Some Japanese pilots continued to fly their Zeros as American planes went over Japan.

The Emperor’s bunker where he recorded his speech.

“To our good and loyal citizens,

After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in our Empire today, we have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.

We have ordered our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China, and the Soviet Union that our Empire accepts the provisions of their joint declaration.

To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well- being of our subjects is the solemn obligation that has been handed down by our Imperial Ancestors, and we lay it close to the heart.

Indeed, we declared war on America and Britain out of our sincere desire to ensure Japan’s self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement.

But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone– the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of our servants of the state and the devoted service of our 100 million people–the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

Emperor’s speech.

Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.

Such being the case, how are we to save the millions of our subjects, or to atone ourselves before the hallowed spirits of our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the joint declaration of the powers.

We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to our allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire toward the emancipation of East Asia.

The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, and those who met with death and all their bereaved families, pains our heart night and day.

Reaction to hearing the speech.

The welfare of the wounded and the war sufferers, and of those who have lost their homes and livelihood is the object of our profound solicitude. The hardships and suffering to which our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great.

We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all you, our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable. Having been able to save and maintain the structure of the Imperial State, we are always with you, our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity.

Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion that may engender needless complications, and of any fraternal contention and strife that may create confusion, lead you astray and cause you to lose the confidence of the world.

Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith in the imperishable of its divine land, and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibilities, and the long road before it. Unite your total strength to be devoted to the construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of rectitude, nobility of spirit, and work with resolution so that you may enhance the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep pace with the progress of the world.

All you, our subjects, we command you to act in accordance with our wishes.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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SHOUT OUT !!!

From Linda, at Shores Acres:

 An Army combat engineer who served in Guam, the Philippines, and Saipan during WWII is turning 93 in April. He loves mail, but rarely gets any, so his family is asking people to send him a card between now and his birthday. You can read the article here. His name is Recil Troxel, and his address is 2684 North Highway 81, Marlow, Oklahoma 73055. It’s legit. If you do a search for his name, the reports about it are all over the tv stations and so on.
He’s suffering from cancer, too. I’ll put a card in the mail this week. It’s not often we actually can do something for a veteran like this.

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Military Humor – 

YIKES !!!!

Automatic pitching machine?????

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ward Cook – Clinton, NY; US Army, Vietnam, E-5

Henry Fischer – Seymour, IN; US Army, WWII, Panama

Kevin Hoag – Providence, RI; US Army, Vietnam, Captain, 101st Airborne Division, 2 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart

Merle H. Howe – MI; US Army # 0-131962, Colonel, 128/32nd Infantry Div. Buna hero, KIA North Luzon, (Manila-American Cemetery Plot A/Row 5/Grave 100)

Jay Jakeway – Oklahoma City, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/674th Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Charles Kohler – Astoria, NY; USMC, WWII, China, Cpl.

Rosemary (Bryant) Mariner – San Diego, CA; US Navy, Desert Storm, pilot, Captain (Ret. 24 y.)

Tony Mendez – Eureka, NV; CIA, Cold War, Operation Argo

Joe Sykes – Whangarei, NZ; NZ Army # 36371, WWII, Sgt.

Ruth St.John (101) – Batavia, NY; US Army WAC, WWII, CBI, nurse

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Paul Tibbets and Duty

Paul Tibbets

After receiving basic flight training at Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas in 1937, Tibbets quickly rose through the ranks to become commanding officer of the 340th Bombardment Squadron of the 97th Bombardment Group. After leading the first American daylight heavy bomber mission in Occupied France in August 1942, Tibbets was selected to fly Major General Mark W. Clark from Polebook to Gibraltar in preparation for Operation Torch, the allied invasion of North Africa. A few weeks later, Tibbets flew the Supreme Allied Commander, Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower, to Gibraltar. Tibbets quickly earned a reputation as one of the best pilots in the Army Air Force.

Paul Tibbets in New Mexico

Tibbets returned to the United States to help with the development of the B-29 Superfortress bomber. On September 1, 1944, Tibbets met with Lt. Col. John Lansdale, Captain William S. Parsons, and Norman F. Ramsey, who briefed him about the Manhattan Project. Tibbets, who had accumulated more flying time on the B-29 than any other pilot in the Air Force, was selected to lead the 509th Composite Group, a fully self-contained organization of about 1,800 hand-picked men that would be responsible for dropping the first atomic bomb on Japan.

Paul Tibbets

From September 1944 until May 1945, Tibbets and the 509th Composite Group trained extensively at Wendover Air Force Base in Wendover, Utah. Flight crews practiced dropping large “dummy” bombs modeled after the shape and size of the atomic bombs in order to prepare for their ultimate mission in Japan.

In late May 1945, the 509th was transferred to Tinian Island in the South Pacific to await final orders. On August 5, 1945 Tibbets formally named his B-29 Enola Gay after his mother. At 02:45 the next day, Tibbets and his flight crew aboard the Enola Gay departed North Field for Hiroshima. At 08:15 local time, they dropped the atomic bomb, code-named “Little Boy,” over Hiroshima.

The crew of the “Enola Gay”

Tibbets was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by Major General Carl Spaatz immediately after landing on Tinian. When news of the successful mission appeared in American newspapers the next day, Tibbets and his family became instant celebrities. To supporters, Tibbets became known as a national hero who ended the war with Japan; to his detractors, he was a war criminal responsible for the deaths of many thousands of Japanese civilians. Tibbets remains a polarizing figure to this day.

The book, “Duty”, by Bob Green, is a must read  Duty is the story of three lives connected by history, proximity, and blood; indeed, it is many stories, intimate and achingly personal as well as deeply historic. In one soldier’s memory of a mission that transformed the world—and in a son’s last attempt to grasp his father’s ingrained sense of honor and duty—lies a powerful tribute to the ordinary heroes of an extraordinary time in American life.

No regrets … Colonel Paul Tibbets, standing.

What Greene came away with is found history and found poetry—a profoundly moving work that offers a vividly new perspective on responsibility, empathy, and love. It is an exploration of and response to the concept of duty as it once was and always should be: quiet and from the heart. On every page you can hear the whisper of a generation and its children bidding each other farewell.

Warning leaflet dropped on 14 Japanese cities

“TO THE JAPANESE PEOPLE: America asks that you take immediate heed of what we say on this leaflet. We are in possession of the most destructive explosive ever devised by man. A single one of our newly developed atomic bombs is actually the equivalent in explosive power to what 2000 of our giant B-29s can carry on a single mission. This awful fact is one for you to ponder and we solemnly assure you it is grimly accurate.” (American leaflet warning Japan to surrender)

With the end of the war in 1945, Tibbets’ organization was transferred to what is now Walker Air Force Base, Roswell, N.M., and remained there until August 1946. It was during this period that the Operation Crossroads took place, with Tibbets participating as technical adviser to the Air Force commander. He was then assigned to the Air Command and Staff School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., from which he graduated in 1947. His next assignment was to the Directorate of Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, where he subsequently served as director of the Strategic Air Division.

BG Paul Tibbets

Brigadier General Paul W. Tibbets Jr. retired from the United States Air Force in 1966. He died in 2007, his ashes were scattered at sea. For more on Tibbets, see Manhattan Project Spotlight: Paul Tibbets. To watch his first-person account of the Hiroshima mission, click here.

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Leaflet dropped on Nagasaki

9 August, ‘Bock’s Car’ dropped the next atomic bomb, “Fat Man,” which was nicknamed after Churchill or Sidney Greenstreet’s character in “The Maltese Falcon,” there are two conflicting stories. The bomb killed 80,000 people. This second bomb was different in that it was a spherical plutonium missile, ten feet long and five feet in diameter. The plane made three unsuccessful runs over the city of Kokura, but due to the lack of visibility, they went on to Nagasaki.  Jake Beser, an electronics specialist, was the only crew member to make both atomic bomb runs.

From the collection of images taken by Yosuke Yamahata, a Japanese military photographer.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Stellla Bender – Steubenville, OH; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Ian Cowan – Christchurch, NZ; NZ Army # 635101, WWII, J Force

Raymond Evans – Naashville, TN; US Army, WWII

Wilbur Grippen Jr. (99) – New Haven, CT; US Army, WWII

Albert Hill – Nampa, ID; US Army, WWII, CBI

Floyd Kennedy – Tonasket, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 674/11th Airborne Division, Medical Corps (Ret. 21 y.)

Louis Mueller – Baltimore, MD; US Navy, WWII

Clinton Phalen Sr. – Foster City, MI; US Navy, WWII, Chief Petty Officer

Raymond Shannon – Worchester, MA; US Air Force, Korea

Max Thomas – Calhoun, GA; US Army, WWII

 

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Personal Note – 

GP Cox had the pleasure – or should I say ‘best experience ever’ yesterday as I boarded a B-17 Flying Fortress.  If anyone has a chance to take a flight – DO IT!!

The Wings of Freedom Tour of the Collins Foundation is coming to a city near you!!  Tell them Pacific Paratrooper sent you!

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I was unable to download any of my videos, Pierre Lagace did this for me!  Actually for 6 years he has been helping me out – m Mentor!

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Lady Luck’s Unlucky Day

The 11th Airborne Division need not speculate any longer as the 5th Air Force prepares to move them to Okinawa!

Thanks to the historians of the IHRA, we can now have some answers.

IHRA

After the atomic bombs were dropped, but before a Japanese surrender had been negotiated, V Bomber Command was busy moving troops and equipment to Okinawa. The 22nd and 43rd bomb groups were also enlisted to ferry troops, as all the C-46s and C-47s were already in use. While the B-24’s potential as a troop carrier may have looked good on paper, the logistics behind turning these bombers into transport aircraft subjected passengers to a potentially deadly situation. The ideal location for extra passengers would have been closer to the tail of the aircraft, but that would make the plane much more difficult to fly. Instead, passengers had to ride on precarious wooden seats installed in the bomb bay.

The 11th Airborne Division was selected to drop onto Atsugi Airdrome as part of the Army of Occupation if the Japanese were to surrender. First, though, they had to be moved from…

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11th Airborne Division – rumors fly

11th Airborne Division jump school, Lipa, Luzon, 1945

The intensity of the Air Corps Troops Carrier Group’s training and the establishment of the division’s 3rd parachute school at Lipa, Luzon started many rumors floating about the division area.

The more practical savants had the division jumping ahead of the forces invading Japan; others thought China a more obvious choice; and still other amateur strategists thought that Formosa would make a fine DZ.  But, of course, none of these courses of action was to be.

Gen. Joseph M. Swing

At the end of July, Gen. Swing called John Conable into his makeshift office in a schoolhouse outside Lipa.  Gen. Swing introduced Conable to an Air Corps Major.  The Major asked Conable how many planes it would take to move the division about 800 air miles.  Conable remembers:

I asked General Swing how many units of fire he wanted.  He said figure on a quarter of a unit.  To say that I was surprised is a major understatement.  The Old Man never wanted to go anywhere without at least two units of fire.

Then the General added:  “Be sure to bring the band in one of the early serials.”  The Major and I went back to my desk.  I got out the plans I had for Olympic.

While he was looking at them, I excused myself and went into the map room.  It was just 800 miles from Okinawa to Tokyo!  Both the Major and I were worried about gasoline.  A C-46 or 47 didn’t have enough fuel capacity to make a 1,600 mile round trip.  He left with the number of men, weight, and volume of mortars, jeeps, etc.  No more was said.

But the incident caused Major Conable to consider that there was definitely “something different in the wind.”  And indeed there was!!

The 5th Air Force (FEAF) were operating in both the CBI Theater and still on Luzon to support the ground forces, along with the USMC.  All the existing units of the Air Corps in the Pacific were in motion at this time; moving their bases to more effective locations.

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Military Humor – When the WAC’s took over!       Humor by: Pfc Everett Smith in New Guinea

“TOO MUCH BEER LAST NIGHT, MISS PRINGLE?”

“DAMN THESE G.I. LATRINES!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Matthew Brown – Massapequa, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Co. F/152 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Donald Edge – Fayetteville, NC; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

11th Airborne Memorial at Tagatay, P.I.

Brian Garfield – Tucson, AZ; US Army / author of: “The Thousand-Mile War”

Joe Jackson – Newman, GA; US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Col. (Ret. 32 y.), U-2 pilot, Medal of Honor

Robert Leroy – Langley, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ/3/511/11th Airborne Division

Jeremy Nash – ENG; British Navy, WWII, ETO, weapons officer HMS Proteus, Commander (Ret.)

Alfred K. Newman – Bloomfield, NM; USMC, WWII, PTO, Code Talker, 1/21/3rd Marine Division

Elmer Patrick – Monticello, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. F/188/11th Airborne Division

Clarence Strobel – Stockton, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. F/ 188th/11th Airborne Division

Michael C. Vasey Sr. – Roseburg, OR; US Army, Vietnam, Military Police, Lt. Colonel (Ret. 20 y.), 2 Bronze Stars

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August 1945 – James Fahey’ Diary

USS Montpelier

From: The Secret Diary of an American Sailor, Seaman First ClassJames J. Fahey aboard the USS Montpelier :

2 August – All hands rose at 4:30 am because of storm warnings, the ships turned back 110 miles from Shanghai.  A typhoon is heading towards our position.  We will then travel south and patrol around until the danger passes.  The sea was full of enormous swells today.

3 August – It was very chilly on the midnight to 4 am watch.  The sea was very rough.  All hands were up for sunrise General Quarters at 4:30 am.  We were to refuel the destroyers today but could not because of the condition of the ocean.

The radio reported that 820 B-29 super forts hit Japan — 819 planes returned to their home bases.  It was the largest raid in history.  They dropped 6600 tons of bombs.

Clement Attlee defeated Churchill in the election for Prime Minister of England.  The Detroit Tigers are in first place by 3 games in the American League.  A B-25 medium bomber crashed into the Empire State Building in NYC.  Fourteen were killed and many suffered injuries.

The weather cleared and we headed up the China coast again.  Capt. Gorry spoke over the loudspeaker informing us that we were 140 miles from Shanghai.  We will advance north of the mouth of the Yangtze River and then proceed to the one fathom curve.  The battle cruisers, Guam and Alaska will not go up as far as us..  We will return and join the cruiser at approximately 2:30 am.

It will be a very dangerous mission because of the many reefs we could be grounded upon.  I wonder what Fleet Admiral Nimitz has in mind when he made plans to send us up there.  This is a very bold undertaking.

4 August –  We cruised up the Yangtze River in the heart of Jap-held territory.  The only ship we came across was a Chinese fishing schooner.  It was very chilly on watch again.  During the day we patrolled about 150 miles from Shanghai.  We refueled a destroyer in the morning.  In the afternoon we fired at sleeves that were towed by our carrier planes.

5 August – We left the Yangtze River.  Last night we came close to ramming a 1000-pound mine, but we detected it in time.  A destroyer blew it up with machine-gun fire.  The explosion was terrific.

Our practice was interrupted today because of Jap airplanes.  Our CAP combat air patrol planes from our carriers went after them.  The Japs dropped their bombs in the water and ran for home, but our fighters caught up to one and shot it down.  Our fighters shot down a couple more around 4:30.   It must have burned the Japs to see us having practice in their own backyard.  Sunday mass was held in the crew’s lounge.

James Fahey

6 August – The weather was very clear and sunny as we went to General Quarters.  Jap bombers were overhead at 30,000 feet.  We held our fire.  They looked like little white spots in the sky.  It took some time to locate them.  They were directly overhead and remained there for some time.  But as they positioned themselves in formation, they headed away from the fleet.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

“AND WHAT’S MORE, YOU CAN EXPECT A PRETTY STRONG LETTER FROM MY MOTHER, SO THERE!!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Walter Ashley – Bristol, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-26 tail gunner, 320th Bomb Group

Arthur Bleecher – Denver, CO; Merchant Marine, WWII, radio operator / US Army, Korea, Antiaircraft , Bronze Star

Malcolm Foster – Milford, DE; US Army, WWII

Clarence Helgren – Elgin, TX US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co G/511/11th Airborne Division

William Matthews – Brewster, MA; US Navy, WWII

Wendell O’Steen – Meigs, GA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Interpreter / Korea

William Pollard – Pleasantville, KY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., antiaircraft

Kenneth Stetson – CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-29 pilot

Charles Troeller – Lehigh Acres, FL; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Thomas Zinglo – Hollywood, FL; USMC, Korea

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Eye Witness Account – Edward Dager

“We Gave Our Best” by: Kayleen Reusser

From : “WE GAVE OUR BEST” by Kayleen Reusser

In December 1944, SSgt. Edward Dager, crew chief for P-38 and p-39 planes was riding in LST-738, a landing ship designed for tanks, near the island of Mindoro.  LST-738 was one of a group of 30 LST’s landing at the island carrying tanks and vehicles.

Suddenly, Dager’s LST was fired on by Japanese kamikazes.  “They came in fast,” he said.  Dager’s LST returned anti-aircraft fire, hitting several of the planes.  When one kamikaze slammed into Dager’s vessel, the 130 crew members aboard were unable to control the fires.  “The captain ordered us to abandon ship,” he said.

Ed Dager, SSgt, US Army Air Corps

Oil from the damaged ship spread on the water.  Frantic seamen scrambled to swim away as more fires sprang up.  Allied ships in the area worked together to fire on the kamikazes and rescue the LST-738’s crew.

Thankfully, no crew member died from the assault, though several were injured.  Dager was burned on his face and right arm.  he and the other wounded were taken by PT boat to a hospital, where they received morphine injections and other care-giving ministrations.

Everything happened so fast and was so chaotic that Dager’s whereabouts became unknown to military officials.  The results were catastrophic.  “My parents received a telegram stating I had been killed in action,” he said.  The War Department soon discovered the error and tried to remedy the misinformation.  “The next day they sent another telegram to my parents saying I was okay.”

Born in 1921, the youngest child in a family of ten, Dager grew up on a farm outside of Monroeville, Indiana.  He quit school to find work, but in 1942, he was drafted into the U.S. Army.  After completing basic training at Camp Perry, Ohio, Dager was assigned to airplane mechanic school with the Army Air Corps.

As part of the 80th Fighter Squadron, “The Headhunter”. 8th Fighter Group, 5th Air force, Dager sailed from San Francisco to Brisbane, Australia, then New Guinea where he was assigned to an Allied air base.   “It was hard not to stare at the natives at New Guinea,” he said.  The walked around with bones in their noses.”

SSgt, Dager was assigned as crew chief in charge of 8 P-39s and P-38s.  The had four 50-caliber machine-guns and a 20 mm cannon.” he said.  Dager took his job seriously.  “A pilot from Boston told me I was the best crew chief because I kept the cockpits clean.”  Dager was aided by an assistant.

As missions often required 5 and 6 hours of flight time, crews were awakened during the dark, early hours of the morning.   “At 0200 hours someone blew a whistle to wake us up,” said Dager.  “We always did a final check of each aircraft before it took off.”

Being on the flight line in the middle of the night with a bunch of sleepy crews would be hazardous.  Dager witnessed one serviceman who drove his jeep into the wash of a plane’s propellers (current of air created by the action of a propeller),  “That was a sad sight,” he said.

Ed Dager

While Dager was friendly with flight crews, but he kept an emotional distance.  “We were there to fight a war.  We learned not to get too attached to people.”

It was not easy.  Many years after one pilot whom Dager had known was declared MIA, due to his plane’s crash, his daughter called Dager.  “She asked for details about her father and his last flight.” Dager provided what little information he knew.  “It was hard losing people.”

In summer 1945, he was helping to launch P-38s from Okinawa when President Truman ordered bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.  Those actions subsequently ended the war with the surrender of the Emperor in September.  By November, Dager had enough points to be discharged.

He returned to Fort Wayne, IN where he farmed and worked at ITT, retiring in 1985.  Dager married in 1946 and he and his wife, Mavis, were parents to 2 daughters.  “I was in the war to do a job,” he said.  “I was young and thought if I made it home, that was okay.”

Ed and Mavis Dager, R.I.P.

Sadly, the Purple Heart recipient, Sgt. Dager left us on 23 February 2018

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Thomas Anderson – Rockton, IL; US Air Force (Ret. 23 y.), 11th Airborne Division

Jerry Cain – Painter, WY; US Army, Vietnam, 320 Artillery/101st Airborne Div., Purple Heart, Distinguish Service Medal

Michael Dippolito – Norristown, PA; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division

Kenneth Ebi Jr. – Moline, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, 1st Lt., 7th Infantry Division Engineers

James Heldman – San Francisco, CA; US Army, Vietnam, Battalion Comdr., 2/4 FA/9th Infantry Division

Cyril Knight – Invercargill, NZ; 2NZEF J Force # 634897, WWII, Pvt.

Perry Owen – Houston, TX; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Carmine Picarello – Bayonne, NJ; US Army, MSgt. (Ret. 24 y.) / US Navy, Intelligence

Roy Scott Jr. – Columbus, OH; US Army, Vietnam & Desert Storm, 173rd Airborne Division, Bronze Star

Mary Zinn – London, ENG; Civilian, Red Cross

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Thanksgiving – Then and Now

WWII vs Afghanistan

THEN – WWII

Stanley Collins, US Navy: “I was on submarine duty in the Pacific in the year 1943. We were in the area off the cost of the Philippines. I remember having a complete turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. While the turkeys were cooking, the submarine took a dive. We went down too steeply and the turkeys fell out of the oven onto the deck. The cook picked them up and put them back into the oven — and we ate them, regardless of what may have gotten on them as a result of their fall. That meal was so good!”

Ervin Schroeder, 77th Infantry Division, 3rd Battalion, I Company, US Army: “On Thanksgiving Day, we made our landing on Leyte Island in the Philippines very early in the morning. We therefore missed our dinner aboard ship. Somewhere down the beach from where we landed, the Navy sent us ham and cheese sandwiches. My buddy happened to get one of the sandwiches and brought it back to our area. I was complaining to him for not bringing one back for me when he started to have stomach cramps… At this point, I shook his hand and thanked him for not bringing me a sandwich.”

Bill Sykes of Plymouth, Combat Engineers and then 1095th Engineer Utility Company, Command SoPac, US Army Engineers 1942-1945:

“The Thanksgiving dinners were served on trays. (My first one, with the Combat Engineers, was served in mess kits. That doesn’t work too well.) They had cranberry sauce, stuffing, the whole thing. It was a good meal. But the feeling of Thanksgiving wasn’t there. The meal was there, but the feeling of Thanksgiving wasn’t. I guess you couldn’t have Thanksgiving when you were overseas. There wasn’t much to be thankful for. It was sad. Although, I guess there was some thankfulness, at least you were still alive!”

 

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NOW – 2018

This year, service members received:
— 9,738 whole turkeys
— 51,234 pounds of roasted turkey
— 74,036 pounds of beef
— 21,758 pounds of ham
— 67,860 pounds of shrimp
— 16,284 pounds of sweet potatoes
— 81,360 pies
— 19,284 cakes
— 7,836 gallons of eggnog

“All of [U.S. Army Central Command’s] food, with very few exceptions, has to come from U.S. sources and moved into the theater,” said Sgt. Maj. Kara Rutter, the ARCENT culinary management NCO in charge. “There are also challenges with the quantity of the food that we’re getting. When you talk about buying 23,000 pounds of shrimp, obviously that affects the entire market.

“We also have to ensure we’re respecting our host nations’ cultures. In some countries, we might not be able to serve certain foods because of cultural and religious considerations.”

Soldiers operating in isolated locations will also receive a hot Thanksgiving meal, Rutter added, thanks to food service professionals in the U.S. who prepared a series of “Unitized Group Rations,” which is “basically a meal in a box.”

“Being away from home during the holidays is very difficult,” Rutter said. “There are a lot of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who frankly are away from home for their first Thanksgiving, and they are doing some difficult things.

“We want them to be able to take a minute, take a knee, and eat the same type of food that their families are eating 9,000 miles away, all while thinking of them at the same time.”

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Military Humor and something to think about – 

humor from Afghanistan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turkey will travel

 

“And you were whining about sitting next to Uncle Milt!!”

 

 

 

 

Military turkeys

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Arcand – Chelmsford, MA; US Navy, WWII & Korea, Lt.Comdr. (Ret.)

Robert Browning – Cary, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 194th GIR/17th Airborne Division

Dick Cadic – NJ; US Army, WWII, T-3 Sgt., telegraph

Thomas Fussell – Alamogordo, NM; US Air Force, Vietnam, Lt.Col., fighter pilot

Edward Gould – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Army # 61449, WWII, 44/8th Army

Norman Kroeger – Hartford, WI; US Navy, WWII, USS New Mexico

Vincent Losada – San Antonio, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 Bombardier, 487th Bomb Group

Larry McConnell Sr. – Des moines, IA; US Army, WWII & Korea

Walter Shields – Brooklyn, NY; USMC, WWII

Cowden Clark Ward – Fredericksburg, TX; Civilian pilot, founder of “Freedom Flyers”

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11th Airborne Paratrooper – Melvin Garten

Col. Melvin Garten

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Media’s self-importance never dies

An Associated Press photographer died. He was the fellow who took the picture of a fully armed paramilitary immigration enforcement officer taking a screaming child of six by force who was hiding with an adult in a closet, as the Clinton administration had no compunction about separating a Legal Immigrant from his family on American soil.

The Associated Press ran a 749-word obituary on the photographer, Alan Diaz. It was an interesting story — AP hired him after he took the SWAT team-crying kid photo.

But the story was a bit much, and a reminder of the media’s overblown sense of importance. The word iconic appeared four times.

Which brings me to a story I read about Melvin Garten, a real hero. His death brought no AP obituary because he never got a byline:

Toby Harnden, the Times of London reporter who has covered war with the troops and United States politics with equanimity, tweeted on May 6, 2015: “Trumpeter, food blogger, actress, golfer get New York Times obits today, but this man has his death notice paid for by family.”

The man whose family had to pay for his obituary was Melvin Garten, the most decorated and forgotten soldier at the time of his death.

Heroes are born and made. Melvin Garten was born May 20, 1921 in New York City, where he became another smart Jewish boy attending City College of New York.  Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, greatly altered his immediate plans. Upon graduation from CCNY, he joined the Army and became a paratrooper with the 11th Airborne Division.  He then married his girlfriend, Ruth Engelman of the Bronx, in November 1942. She was a war bride. Everyone said the marriage wouldn’t last, and they were right because the marriage ended on January 9, 2013 — the day she died.

Melvin and Ruth Garten

Melvin went off to the Pacific Theater of the war, where he participated in what can only be described as an audacious airborne raid of Los Banos in 1945, rescuing more than 2,000 U.S. and Allied civilians from a Japanese prison camp. He was a highly decorated soldier, earning the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, a Presidential Unit Citation and the Purple Heart with three Oak Leak Clusters for his wounds in battle. He was tough and handsome and courageous.

As would war. At dawn on Sunday, June 25, 1950, with the permission of Stalin, the North Koreans crossed the 38th parallel behind artillery fire. Melvin was back in combat. Captain Garten proved his mettle again as commander of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.  President Eisenhower awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross.

The citation reads: “Captain Garten distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces near Surang-ni, Korea, on 30 October 1952. On that date, observing that assault elements of Companies F and G were pinned down by withering fire on a dominant hill feature, Captain Garten voluntarily proceeded alone up the rugged slope and, reaching the besieged troops, found that key personnel had been wounded and the unit was without command. Dominating the critical situation through sheer force of his heroic example, he rallied approximately eight men, assigned four light machine guns, distributed grenades and, employing the principle of fire and maneuver, stormed enemy trenches and bunkers with such tenacity that the foe was completely routed and the objective secured. Quickly readying defensive positions against imminent counterattack he directed and coordinated a holding action until reinforcements arrived. His inspirational leadership, unflinching courage under fire and valorous actions reflect the highest credit upon himself and are in keeping with the cherished traditions of the military service.”

Pork Chop Hill

Having served at Luzon and Pork Chop Hill, Captain Garten came home and the family moved around. Ruth took care of her men.

“I never even bought my own clothes,” Melvin told Mike Francis of the Oregonian a few months before her death. “I never went shopping. It was not a part of my life. As an Army wife, she took care of those things.”

Their sons were in their teens when the Vietnam War erupted. Melvin earned his Combat Infantry Badge for the third time — perfect attendance as those men with that distinction of serving in those three wars called their service. The Army put him in command of the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry in 1968 and he reinvigorated the unit, calling it the No Slack battalion.

Just as he almost completed the turnaround, his jeep ran over a Vietcong mine, sending shrapnel to his leg and to his head. Another war, another Purple Heart, only this time it cost him his leg. The military sent him to Walter Reed to recuperate.

Ruth went alone, shielding her sons from the news, as they were in college. She wanted to see how he was. Melvin was in horrible condition. His head wound was more serious than their sons realized. For nearly a year, he worked to recover from the explosion. Melvin wanted to stay on active duty as a one-legged paratrooper. She supported his decision. They had to appear before a medical board. Ruth told the Oregonian, “When I got there, they wanted to know only one thing. ‘Was he as difficult a man before was wounded as he is now?’ one board member asked. ‘No difference,’ I answered. And he passed.”

His assignment was as post commander of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home of the Airborne and Special Operational Forces, a nod to his sterling and exemplary service under fire.

Gen. Eichelberger (C) w/ Gen. Swing (R) planning the raid of Los Banos

Melvin retired as the most decorated man in the Army at the time with the Distinguished Service Cross, four Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, five Purple Hearts, two Legion of Merits, two Joint Service Commendations, a Combat Infantry Badge for each of three wars, and a Master Parachutist Badge with two combat jump stars. Melvin paid dearly for those awards, but so did Ruth. She was one of the few women to receive five telegrams over the years informing her that her husband was wounded in combat. And by few, I mean I do not know of another.

But his retirement in Florida began three wonderful decades for them. In 2000, Ruth and Melvin moved to Oregon to live near their son,  Allan. Doctors diagnosed her as having Parkinson’s. Mike Francis interviewed Melvin and their sons 11 months before her death. Melvin said, “All these things she put up with. All the things she did for the family. She kept our lives going for 70 years. ”

Following her death on January 9, 2013, the family buried her in Arlington, where all our military heroes belong. He joined her there following his death on May 2, 2015.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Para-Toast.

‘I count only four parachutes. Where’s Mr. Simms?’

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Bettinson – Pelly, CAN; RC Air Force/RAF, WWII, ETO

John Carberg – New London, CT; USMC

Robert Daughtery – Clinton, IN; US Army, WWII, PTO, 3rd Signal Battalion

Paul Fournier – Cleveland, OH; US Navy, WWII

John Graziano – Elkridge, MD; US Air Force, Captain, 87th Flying Training Squadron, KIA

Hank Kriha – Oshkosh, WI; US Army, WWII, PTO, 32nd Red Arrow Division

George McClary – Pueblo, CO; US Coast Guard, WWII, USS El Paso

James Ruff – Summitt, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, SSgt., 11th Airborne Division

Harold Sullivan – Morriston, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO / Korea, Purple Heart

John Yordan – Detroit, MI; US Army

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Walt’s Pilot Log 1944-45

CBI – British receive POW’s / Vietnam in the picture

Japanese POWs in Malaya

“From May onwards, prisoners in a terrible state came in daily,” recorded a British gunner unit in Burma, “many of them armed with nothing more dangerous than bamboo spears, trembling with a mixture of malaria and humiliation.”

British soldiers in Burma

But if some proved ready to quit, others did not.  To the end, most Japanese who lost their ships at sea deliberately evaded Allied rescuers.  On the deck of HMS Saumarez, destroyer Captain Martin Power was directing rescue operations after sinking a Japanese convoy off the Nicobars, when he suddenly heard a “clang” against the ship.

Andaman and Nicobars Islands

Peering over the side, he saw a bald, heavily built Japanese man clinging to a scrambling net with one hand, while hammering the nose of a shell against the hull with the other.  Power drew his pistol, leaned over and whacked the man’s head.

“I could not think of anything else to do – I spoke no Japanese.  Blood streaming down his face, he looked up at me, the pistol 6 inches from his eyes, the shell in his hand…  I do not know how long I hung in this ridiculous position, eyeball to eyeball with a fanatical enemy, but it seemed too long at the time.  At last he dropped the shell into the sea, brought up his feet, and pushed off from the ship’s side like an Olympic swimmer, turned on his face and swam away.”

*****          *****          *****

By this time of the Pacific War, the Vietnam area of Indochina was in dispute.  DeGaulle demanded that the current Vichy government take a firm stand, but this was a disaster.  The Japanese had staged a pre-emptive coup against the Saigon administration.  Frenchmen became POW’s and their future fate would cause Anglo-American arguments.  When US planes arrived from China to carry out evacuations, the French were furious that the aircraft did not bring them cigarettes.

London’s Political Warfare Executive sent a directive to Mountbatten that highlighted the political and cultural complexities of the CBI: “Keep off Russo-Japanese, Russo-Chinese and Sino-Japanese relations except for official statements.  Show that a worse fate awaits Japan if her militarists force her to fight on… Continue to avoid the alleged Japanese peace feelers.”

The Dutch, French and British owners of the old Eastern empires were increasingly preoccupied with regaining their lost territories – and they were conscious that they could expect scant help from the Americans to achieve this.  The British Embassy in Washington told the Foreign Office:

“If we prosecute the Eastern War with might and main, we shall be told by some people that we are really fighting for our colonial possessions the better to exploit them and that American blood is being shed to no better purpose than to help ourselves and Dutch and French to perpetrate our degenerate colonial Empires; while if we are judged not to have gone all out, that is because we are letting America fight her own war with little aid, after having her pull our chestnuts out of the European fire.”

Quotes taken from “Retribution” by Max Hastings

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Edward Bailey – Parma, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, 2nd Lt., pilot, KIA

David Cruden – Hurtsville, AUS; RA Air Force # 422443, 460 & 582nd Bomber Command Squadrons

Fred Hermes Jr. – Villas, NJ; US Coast Guard, Academy Grad., Commander (Ret.)

William A. Laux – LaCrosse, WI & Arrow Lakes, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO

John Moore – Baltimore, MD; US Navy, WWII, Captain (Ret.)

Ronald S. Richardson – Gisborne, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII, ETO, Lt. Commander, pilot, KIA

Robert Stoner – Buffalo, NY; US Navy, minesweeper

Harry Thomas – Marlington, WV; US Army, WWII

Michael C. Ukaj – Johnstown, NY; USMC, Iraq (the NY limo crash on his 34th birthday)

Elwood Wells – Epsom, NH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, Captain, 1337 A.F. Base, KIA

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