Category Archives: First-hand Accounts

Philippine Remembrance

 

Dioscoro Valenzuela

Contributed by: fellow blogger Elmer @ Malate in honor of his uncle.

Dioscoro G. Valenzuela was a sergeant in the Philippine Commonwealth Army when World War II erupted.

He escaped the infamous 1942 Bataan Death March — just as they were being rounded up along the road by Japanese soldiers — by fleeing with two other comrades through the mountains of Mount Natib, across Manila bay on a banca, and finally to his hometown in Bulacan under cover by an old couple in Calanate, Malolos town.

Many soldiers decided to escape on that fateful day seeing how the Japanese treated their comrades. The sick or injured were beaten up and killed.

Dioscoro Valenzuela

Eulogy in honor of DP Dioscoro G. Valenzuela:

“The Fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942 and the Island of Corregidor on May 6 of the same year was the beginning of the Japanese occupation in the Philippines.

The Japanese, while making real efforts to conciliate the Filipino people simultaneously enraged them with heatings, torture, public beheadings and humiliating orders to bow to the Japanese as they passed.

On this atmosphere of escalating anger and resentment of the Filipino people, dozens of GRLA ORGNS sprang up in the country to harass the Japanese soldiers.

At this point in time, Vet DP Dioscoro Gallardo Valenzuela, an advocate of the principle “The Defense of the State is the Prime Duty of Every Citizen”, unhesitatingly joined the underground movement of the GRLA Organizations in Bulacan.

For this extra-ordinary and loyalty to the service, DP Dioscoro G. Valenzuela earned himself the following awards and decorations:

Philippine Defense Medal with Ribbon;
Liberation Medal with Ribbon;
Presidential Citation Badge;
and lately he was accorded Certificate of Recognition by Cong. Romeo Acop-Committee CHM on National Defense and Security, during the Parade Review in Honor of the Veterans at the ROTC Hunters Parade Ground on April 5, 2017.

Overall DP Valenzuela was always a very good friend, very religious God Fearing Man, cheerful and friendly to everyone, strict and disciplinarian but a good role model. He is one of the oldest members of the Federation.”

Veterans Federation of the Philippines

Click on images to enlarge.

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Political Cartoons of 1944 – 1945 – 

NOT MUCH HAS CHANGED!!

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Barbara (Pierce) Bush – NYC, NY; Second & First Lady of the United States

Finley Davis – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army, Korea, MSgt., POW, KIA

Ronald Lee Ermey – Emphoria, KS; USMC, Vietnam, “Gunny” (beloved actor)

Juan Guerrero – Kennedy, TX; US Army, WWII

John Hasselbrink – Granada Hills, CA; US Navy, submarine service, USS Illinois

Alexander Latimer – Fort Saskatchewan, CAN; RC Army, WWII, Winnipeg Rifles

Bernard Newport – Hamilton, NZ; RNZ Navy # 8095, WWII, Sub-Lt., MTB-505

Carl Ragle – Talmms, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, G/511/ 11th Airborne Division

Matthew Sarrett – Oceanside, NY; US Coast Guard

Joseph Turner – Pitman, NJ;US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO,  HQ/ 188/ 11th Airborne Division

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Eye Witness Account – Iwo Jima & Guam

Seaman Sal Marino

Seaman Sal Murino

The pages, unearthed 70 years after their origin, are stark in simplicity and detail: One young man, one typewriter, together aboard the U.S.S. Doyen.

“Hello everyone!” reads a handwritten greeting on the top of page one, followed by a single-spaced report complete with wisecracks and World War II talk direct from young Sal Murino to his family.

The long, yellowing letter from the U.S. Navy man offers a first-person recitation of the fighting from Dec. 1944-March 1945 as the devastating war finally enters its final year..

Click on images to read the letter.

page 1

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page 2

page 2

“We stayed at Iwo Jima for about 15 days,” wrote Murino, a round-faced young man in his 20s, whose sometimes fractured syntax still paints a vivid picture of the carnage in the Pacific Theater.

“To hear one combat fatigue(d) Marine put it who was smoking an endless chain of cigarettes — said, ‘Those bastards had us surrounded and throwing everything at us.’ Incidentally, this Marine wanted to go back and fight as he did not want to leave his buddies.”

The letters were in the custody of Murino’s niece, Marie, who across the decades tended carefully to the pages that preserved an unseen slice of history.  Marie’s husband Jim, a regular reader of the Daily News, convinced her to share the letter seven decades after it reached her Brooklyn mailbox.

The missive was mailed to the entire Italiano family, living on DeGraw St. in South Brooklyn. Marie’s mother had three sisters and four brothers — Sal, Johnny and Tony were all fighting overseas.

“Iwo Jima … The Marines had a helluva time,” Sal wrote in one passage. “Jap resistance was very strong. This island was well fortified. … Our planes were zooming over them dropping their eggs and meanwhile from the sea our ships were shelling these same caves.”

USS Doyen

Yet progress against the tenacious Japanese fighters was slow despite the firepower — and came at a price.

His description of the war’s cost: “The task of removing the wounded was another hard job … These same wounded men not so long ago came walking up the gangplank with their rifles and equipment and now, some were able to walk by themselves and the others had to be assisted not only minus their rifles and equipment but a few with (out) their arms and limbs.”

He laid out the scene on the island of Guam, another hub of intense fighting.

“During our invasion last June it was without a question of doubt a place of ‘agony and hell’ (a partial payback for the sneaky attack on Pearl Harbor),” the sailor writes. “We saw many caves in the mountains — some as large as the tunnel of love you would find at amusement places.”

But months later, the only signs of battle were “remnants of Jap tanks, large guns still remained alongside the beaches. The natives were happy to see the Americans return.

“The majority of them wore American clothes and girls were painted with lipstick,” he wrote. “Mingling with them was entirely out, due to the old baloney of ‘military secrets.’”

But things soon heated up. He described a Japanese air attack on their ship where “the red emblem of the Rising Sun looked 25 times larger than under ordinary circumstances.”  Three U.S. fighters then appeared in close pursuit of the Japanese plane.“About 1,000 yards away they bagged it and it came down in a burst of fire and smoke and into the water,” he recounted. “Cheers and laughter could be heard throughout the ship.”The letter closed as it opened, with a handwritten comment from the author.“P.S. Have heard from Tony and Johnny,” their brother relayed. “Both are fine. I too am in Tip-Top shape — no kidding … Say hello to the kids for me.”

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Military Humor –

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Taylor Conrad – Baton Rouge, LA; USMC, LCpl., 465th Squadron/3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, KIA

Arnold Harrison – Detroit, MI; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc, Co. B/1/2/2nd Marine Div., KIA (Betio)

Richard Holley – Dayton, OH; USMC, GSgt., 465th Squadron/3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, KIA

John Kiefer – Fairport, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Charles Lazarus – WA; US Army, WWII, cryptographer

Zell Miller – Young Harris, GA; USMC, U.S. Senator & Governor

Samuel Phillips – Pinehurst, NC; USMC, 1st Lt., 465th Squadron/ 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, KIA

E.R. Reece – Klondike, OK; US Army, WWII & Korea, 24th Infantry Division

Samuel Schultz – Huntingdon Valley, PA; USMC, Captain, 465th Squadron/ 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, KIA

James Vincent – No. Sioux Falls, SD; US Army, WWII / Korea, Sgt.

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Japanese Soldier’s Remembrance of Iwo Jima – conclusion

“Iwo Jima” by: Mark Maritato

Takahashi Toshiharu’s story continues….

I ran towards the sea.  The day got brighter.  When I jumped down, the enemy shot.  I felt as if I burnt a burned hot chopstick in my chest and I could not breathe.  There are plenty of US soldiers, but I was alive.  Blood flows a lot. Both shirts and pants were stained with blood.  I tried to stop blood even a little, but it didn’t work.

The enemy brought a flamethrower to the mouth of the hole.  The fire did not reach me. It was where I had been before.  The bullet was through, but it hurts because my body swells when I breathe.  It is a suffering to die.

I will die soon.  There is no doctor or medicine.  There is no food or water, death is near.  There was nothing I could do.  My eyes dazzle, I’m bleeding a lot. My body is cold.  I gave up, I knew that it was useless.  I visualized Japanese soldiers coming from the back of the cave.  I asked for water, but I only got tears of sorrow.  I rolled on the ground in pain.  The wound has come to suppuration. (infected).  The left hand stopped moving.

SE Asia map w/ Iwo Jima highlighted

The US military is blowing up the entrance to the cave.  A number of places have also blown up today.  It is a strategy to make Japanese soldiers buried in holes.   I do not have any food and I can not move to escape, I will die here, but I would rather die outside.  Now it is dark and I see a human approach.  If he is an enemy, it will lead to death.  My hand moved, but there is no gun.

It was a Japanese soldier.   I went down to the man.  There was a grenade noise.  A gunshot also happened.  I guess he met his enemy.  The area is covered with cannon-fire, but I can’t tell the direction.  The cliff which I’m on is as high as 30 meters is hit and shattered.   With  a slope of about 45 degrees and it becomes rough soil and stone.  I am going downhill.

Iwo JIma

I fell to the sandy beach.  The wound in my back breaks and the pus flows out.   Since no one is here, I can not even be treated.  Still I got up and walked down the sandy beach to the water.  I want to drink, but it is sea water.  Drums were flowing in the vicinity. I thought that it might be the drinking water of the US military, so I tried to hit it with a stone, but it will not open.

I have no guns, only one grenade for suicide but I can not use it.  I ran back in my original direction.  Footprints remain because they are sand.  I follow the enemy footprints. The scratch on the back is broken and it is becoming a null null. The left hand does not move perfectly.  I came where I fell before and try to climb the slope.  The left hand does not move at all.  I lost consciousness on my way.

Japanese POW

I slept in the hole without eating for 4 days.   I had been chased by the enemy, but collapsed among other dead Japanese and the enemy could not tell the difference.  I will die here today.  I think that it is March 18th. My birth is 18th March 18th in Meiji. Today is March 18th in Showa 20.  There is no better way than natural suicide, natural death, shooting out of the hole and being shot dead, or committing suicide with a grenade for suicide.  It is only clear that there is no life.

A US military airplane flew over me.  I want to see my wife, children, mother and brother but I can not even move.  I might as well be a soldier who went to the enemy’s camp and died.  Let’s do so.  All the fellow soldiers are dead.

The US Army soldier swings his head sideways and instructs by hand for me to sit down.  The tall, blue-eyed soldier keeps his gun at me.   The soldier gave me his water bottle.  I drank the water like a drunk.   Now I’m ready to be killed, but they tell me to follow them.

1945, wounded Japanese soldier cared for by U.S. Marines.

I arrived at the curtain where the military doctor was.  The surgeon told me to eat by motioning with his hands.   I understood it.  It was boiled soybeans from a can.  I ate it all.  The military doctor put white medicine on the wound.  I wondered if he was killing me, but a jeep came.  It had a drawer that they put me on and we left.

I arrived at a field hospital and was taken out from the drawer and the military doctor told me, ” I will give something to eat”, I thought this was true.   I thought that I came to the world after death.  I have heard that there are many US soldiers of Nisei so I asked. Iwo Jima occupied March 17th.  They say Japan has lost a useless war.  I do not know why I am alive, when I should have been killed by the US military.  Being a POW is a painful thing.

This is a condensed version of  Imperial Japanese Army Corps of Engineers Corporal, Takahashi Toshiharu’s diary.  To view the entire story, the link is at the top of Part One, posted on Monday.  The Cpl. was sent to Gum Island for 10 days and boarded a hospital ship to Hawaii.  When the war ended, he was returned to Japan.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – Kunihiko Hisa cartoon album “Zero Fighter 1940-1945”

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lino Agosti – Anchorage, AK; US Army Air Corps, WWII,  HQ/152 Artillery/ 11th Airborne Division

Bob Brown – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-26 pilot

Sam Gilman – brn: CAN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret. 26 y.)

James Henderson – Sydney, AUS; Korean War

Ed Kennedy – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; USMC, Korea, one of the “Chosin Few”

Roy Malmassari – Issaquah, WA; US Army, Korea

John Naples – Falmouth, ME; US Army, WWII

John Otten – Sioux Falls, SD; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Paul Smith – Clanton, AL; USMC, WWII, PTO

George Welsh – North Platte, NE; US Army, WWII, Chaplain

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Japanese Soldier’s Remembrance – Iwo Jima – part two

Mt. Suribachi

As Takahashi Toshiharu watches the US tanks he continues his story:

No matter how long you wait, the tank will not come up to 10 meters. He is afraid of the march of my army. At another 90 meters I’m staring at it.  I was telling myself that if I made it as close as 90 meters, I could reach it.

While waiting for another 90 meters to advance, one Japanese soldier crawled and approached the first tank.  I approached the tank I decided to attack.  The shell flew and the tank blew and began to burn.  Sgt. Yatter and I shouted.

M4 Sherman on the edge of Motoyama airfield, Iwo Jima, 2/1945

I had woken the enemy.  The enemy was burned out with a flamethrower. The flame is dark with black smoke. I could not see even an inch ahead.  Because the first tank was done, the enemy must have been angry. The second tank is headed for us and shoots with a cannon, and dashing with a machine gun, awesome.

There are strange things and miracles in the world.  It is a miracle that I am now writing such things at the time like this.  It is surprising. The enemy does not advance, it burns near and shoots. Eight of us could not move.  If it comes, we will be shot or burned.  I can not do anything. There is nothing left to do but wait for tanks to come near. Wait for it.

This time. The earthquake tremor occurred with a large acoustic sound like a collapse of heaven and earth. I can not see even an inch with black smoke. We also tremble as the body jumps.  I wonder what happened, I think it is an earthquake or a volcano explosion.  Buries alive.

Cpl. Oliver Leone throws smoke grenade into cave on Iwo Jima

I ran away like a typhoon.  We can not do it.  The Marines who came with the tanks throw grenades in all the entrances and exits of my army positions and crush them. We got buried alive deep under the ground.

Eight people who were supposed to die by charging the tanks were deeply buried under the ground. There is no air, food and water. It becomes a mummy as it is. There is no way to live.  I decided to dig the earth with a bayonet while others carry it backwards. We worked desperately in the dark.  I do not know how many hours it has passed, but I made a hole about the size of a human head. The air worry ceased.

I did not understand what was going on outside.  There is no guarantee of life if we go out.  I poked my head out, it was night.  Tracer bullets are climbing high, bright and dark.  There are a lot of gasoline cans at the exit of the hole. So I decided to extend the hole and exit.  Sergeant Yano stated that we failed in a fight.  For the time being we will return to the North Border. Report failure and wait for the next command.

While the bullets are climbing, three men crawl going  to the coast. It is not found by enemies. When I went 100 meters, I went high.  Instantly I heard the sound of a machine gun.  It was in an ambush. When looking down in the hole of the shell, Corporal Yoshioka, Senior Iwasaki, First Kimura soldiers killed.

We lost four people and went north further 100 meters under command of Sergeant Yano. There is a convenient place to get to the sea. It is about 2 meters high here and you have to jump down.  Sergeant Yano went and was hit by machine gun fire.  The enemy was everywhere.  It is not easy to go through the enemy.  Two officers were crushed. I have to take the command this time. There are three people, I, Yokoyama upperman and forest soldiers left.  It is good that Sgt. Yano died. Tears fall down, war must stop.

Gen. Kubayashi and his staff on Iwo Jima

Yokoyama upper rank soldier and is much younger than me.  The remaining three will go again . Go down and walk down, crawling and crawling. After a while there was a convenient place to jump off.  Be careful.   Yokoyama stood up.  He was hit and said that it hurts.  It was done.   He was shot from the chest to his back. It is disappointing.

Eight people escaped have now become one person alone. There is no hope of living. Everyone died.  I decided to prepare for the death.  The sky in the east became bright.  It is useless if the dawn breaks, I am in the middle of the enemy and I am also shot.

to be continued…

Click on images to enlarge.

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Japanese Military Humor – from the Kunihiko Hisa cartoon album “Zero Fighter 1940 – 1945”

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Stanley Brauser – OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Weather Dept., Major

Robert ‘Jack’ Darnielle – Sokane, WA; US Army, Korea, Tank Co./15/3rd Division

Jonathan Dunbar – Austin, TX; US Army, Syria, MSgt., Special Operations, KIA

Elmer ‘Garvis’ Garrett – Kilmichael, MS; US Army, Korea & Vietnam (Ret. 25 y.)

Robert Johnson – Porcupine, SD; US Navy, WWII, pilot

Danny Kraemer – Fort Smith, AR; US Army, WWII, PTO, Amphibian Division

Frederick Mayo – Portland, ME; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 380 Air Service Group

Matt Tonroe – Manchester, UK; British Parachute Reg./3rd. Battalion, Syria, Sgt., KIA

Ervin Vosta – Licoln, NE; US Army, WWII & Korea, TSgt.

Walter Walden – Springfield, OR; USMC, Cpl.

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Japanese Soldier’s Remembrance of Iwo Jima – part one

In this painting by an unknown Japanese artist, Japanese soldiers, taking cover behind a wrecked U.S. plane, fire on Marines approaching from the beachhead.

This article from HERE was contributed by Nasuko.

My grandfather passed away in 1986. Since then, nearly 20 years have passed, but my grandfather left a note of “Battle experience record”. My grandfather was born in Meiji 45 (the first year of Taishō), was summoned four times from the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War, and was serving to “Iwo Jima”, one of the greatest fierce battles during the Pacific War. It seems that after the war, I remembered it based on the memories of that time and the records written in my notebook.

In Iwo Jima, about 21 thousand Japanese soldiers fought and crushed and survived by only about 1,000 people. My grandfather belonged to the hybrid First Brigade Engineer Corps and only 13 out of 278 people had survived.

Takahashi Toshiharu (74 years old who died in 1986) from Susaki city, Kochi Prefecture, who was assigned to Iwo Jima as a commander of the Army Engineer at the age of 31.
Being seriously injured while shoulder struck back at Iwo Jima, he was taken prisoner of the US military and returned in February of 1946 (Showa 21).
After that, he worked at the Shimizu station in Tosashimizu City, Kochi Prefecture.

We are engineers, making bombs is an expert. They made 20 km bombs at once. Put this on your back and infiltrate ourselves into enemy tanks. Wait for the night to come, carry the bombs on your own. I gave up my gun. No one says anything. It will not return to this position again. The war situation is a disadvantage, the division headquarters is also in danger. Now we are leaving.

There are many injured soldiers left in the position. Looking at our departure, we want to die together. You must destroy a tank that comes to Tianshan tomorrow morning. I never fail to fulfill my promises though I told my wife when I leave Japan that I should live and return. I was destined to die. Even if I live, there is no rice, there is no water, no bullets, no way I can live. Forgive my wife child I apologized with my heart that I could not return home alive. Now we are going to death with justice.

I know the topography. I enter a sideways hole position. . I will be absent until morning. I swear that our day will be our day. In turn and wait for the enemy’s coming at the exit of the hole. When I moved and looked at the enemy, my eyes flashed sharply. I heard a sound, I was buried in the earth and sand. The shell fell in front of me. It was a misfire. Every time I face death, something happens and helps. It is strange.

The tank that should come is still coming. The most terrible fellow, brown and large M4, came. It is 200 meters away. It protrudes a cannon, puts machine guns on the left and right, and also has a flamethrower. It is time for our eight people to die. There is no prospect of saving any thought. I am prepared for it. There is no fear, but the death is ever closer to us.

Yano, the sergeant watcher, ran to warn the others to prepare for the battle – the tank came. His complexion is pale. The enemy burns off the front with a flamethrower, sweeps with a machine gun, shoots with a cannon with a cannon and just goes on a slurp. This is repeated.

We have decided to jump out as the tank approaches 10 meters.  There are ten tanks and we have eight people, so only eight can be destroyed. The remaining tanks will pour into my army.

to be continued….

Click on images to enlarge.

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Japanese Military Humor – from: Kunihiko Hisa cartoon album “Zero Fighter 1940-1945”

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Bennett – Bartlesville, OK; US Army, WWII, CBI, 2nd LT.

Floyd Carter Sr. – Yorktown, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Tuskegee / Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Col. (Ret.)

Frank Forlini – Yonkers, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ/187th/11th Airborne Division

Koso Kanemoto – Chicago, IL & Los Angeles, CA; US Army, Japan Occupation, US 8th Army, G-2 MIS Interpreter

Bill Lundquist – Skagit Valley, WA; US Army, WWII, ATO, radioman

Thomas Martin – Huron, SD; US Army, Iraq, Ranger, West Point graduate, KIA

Austin McAvoy – Detroit, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Intrepid

Bernard “Wallie” Newport – Waikato, NZ; RNZ Navy # 8095, WWII, Sub-Lt.

Rose Puchalla – Minneapolis, MN; US Army Air Corps WAAC, WWII, ETO, 1202nd AAFB (Africa), Pfc., KIA

Robert Wood – Lady Smith, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

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Iwo Jima Remembered…

 

William Leahy, USMC

“As it appeared on Locust Valley Leader, March 4, 2015. Patty Brexel of the LV Leader sent this to me,” Rosalinda Morgan, contributor.

William Leahy, at 17, enlisted in the U.S.M.C. in December, 1943. At that age, he needed parental permission to join. Eventually his mother relented and signed the form. Less than one year later the young Marine fought in what is considered the bloodiest battle the Corps has engaged in to date. In the following , Leahy vividly recalls some memories of the 36 days he spent on Iwo Jima.
In his words:

There was a war going on and I wanted to fight for our country. After boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. much to my disappointment, I was assigned to guard duty in Maryland. One day I noticed a Fleet Marine Force sign-up sheet on a bulletin board at the camp. I immediately signed my name to it. An old Marine, with previous service, a “retread” were the only Marines available for guard duty except me. He told me, “To forget it, the notice had been there forever, and no one was ever called up.”

I proved that old Marine wrong. After some advanced training at Camp Lejeune, NC, I eventually arrived in Guam in October, 1944. I was assigned to the 3rd Pioneers of the 3rd Marine Division. We shipped out and headed for an eight-square mile volcanic island called Iwo Jima, about 750 miles south of Japan. It was heavily fortified with about 22,000 Japanese soldiers and it was said to be impregnable.

We were there on the first day of the invasion, February 19, 1945. For the first 10 hours everything seemed to be going well. We were still on our transport ship, but we could hear everything that was going on through the P.A. system. Then a Kamikaze raid badly damaged one of the carriers in the fleet and forced us to head out to sea. We were just a sitting duck in the harbor.

The next day, they let down the cargo nets on our ship and down we scramble onto our landing craft. No mean task that was. Three times that day, we climbed up and down the cargo net because the artillery and wreckage made it impossible to make a beach assault.

My company, Fox company, 2nd Battalion, 21st Marines, about 240 men or so, finally hit the beach the next day. There were American bodies everywhere. I don’t think I saw a dead enemy soldier for about a week. They were all underground, dug into caves.

We were getting hit hard. We were taking a pounding. They were giving everything they had. We dug into foxholes as fast as we could. But the holes kept filling in, because the whole island was made up of very fine volcanic ash. Marines were getting hit all around me.

Then we advanced up the island, alternating between forward and reserve units. But even if you were in the reserve you could be assigned to stretcher duty, bringing in the wounded and the dead from the front lines, which in many ways was worse. A buddy of mine, Charles Thomas Lochre, from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, went out on stretcher day and I never saw him again. We lived and fought side-by-side and then he was dead. I saw the flag go up. The famous one on top of Mt. Suribachi. That hill was captured a few days after the invasion. A lot of people think that was at the end of the invasion. But we had many more rough battles ahead of us. Actually, the worst action was in the northern part of the island. That’s where the Japanese headquarters and their General were located.

Sherman tank w/ rocket launcher attachment

There were two things all the ground troops hated, tanks and rocket launchers.  And I don’t mean the Japanese tanks and rocket launchers. As soon as our tanks came in or the artillery started deploying the rocket launchers, the Japanese would zero in on us. The guys in the tanks were all zippered in but the guys on the ground really caught it.

I guess they fed us all-right, mostly cold K-rations. Once in a while, they’d manage to bring in big vacuum bottles of hot coffee up to the front if the action calmed down. Most think of the Pacific as hot and balmy. But actually it was pretty chilly, especially when it rained. Once during those 36 days, I actually got to have a hot shower. After about four weeks we were pretty “skuzzy”. Our uniforms were covered with blood from carrying out the dead and wounded. They took my dirty clothes and threw them away and gave me new ones.

Our favorite defense weapon was a bulldozer. We put some metal up around by the operator and he would raise the blade and forge ahead into the enemy lines. The Japs were all underground. They had a very intricate network of tunnels. One day my buddy, Ralphie Lane from Brooklyn, and I were clearing a cave. I don’t know how it happened but that time he went in first. I heard a scream, saw gun flash and I fired at it. I guess I hit the Jap. We pulled my buddy out and blew the cave. There were probably more of them in there. I just don’t know for sure. But Ralphie was dead, shot in the head.

They also had something called a spider trap. The enemy would buy steel, like our 55-gallon drums, in the ground, get inside, and camouflage the top, wait for a patrol to pass by and then pop out and shoot us. Well the bulldozer worked out real fine in those situations. On one sweep we captured a Japanese soldier who was in a spider trap. His legs were sticking up out of the ground. When we pulled him out he indicated that his leg was injured and he couldn’t walk, so we put him in a shelter shelf and took him back to the CP. On the way to the rear, numerous Marines wanted to shoot and kill the injured Japanese soldier. I had to fend them off on several occasions. Saving him proved worthwhile, because it turned out that the next day they gave him a radio and sent him behind the Japanese lines in an effort to get the Japanese General to surrender.

That’s about the only time you’d capture a Jap. They never gave up. I admired them. They were tenacious fighter. I didn’t hate them. They were the other team and they lost. And they lost big. Out of the estimated 22,000 Japanese soldiers on the island, we only captured 216. Some 3000 Japanese soldiers were hiding in the caves, and eventually surrendered or committed suicide. The ones that surrendered were surprised by the American’s kindness in offering cigarettes, and water. We took a very heavy hit. Of the 60,000 Marines who took part in the invasion, 6,831 were killed and 19,000 were wounded. I was one of the rarities of that battle. I was never wounded.

When the island was pretty secure, we turned it over to the Army on April 1st.
We went back to Guam to train for a planned November 1st invasion of Japan. If the Japanese fought so hard for a tiny island like Iwo Jima, what would they fight like for their own homeland? I had decided at that point that I would never make it home. Then the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan finally surrendered, on September 2, 1945. The dropping of the atomic bomb proved to be a good decision as it saved hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides.

I came home on my 20th birthday, April 22, 1946. Being in the Marine Corps was the defining point of my life. But, looking back now, it seems like a vignette from a distant past. Sort of like when I read about the Civil Was as a child and imagined what it would be like to fight in a war. I sometimes wonder if I was really there.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Acevedo – San Bernadino, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Medic, POW

Jack Barnes – Tampa, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Charles Crump – Emmett, ID; US Army, WWII, POW camp guard

William Derrenberger – Loudonville, OH; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO

John Harvey – Barnum, WV; US Navy, WWII & Korea, (Ret. 20 y.)

Herbert Leake – Seattle, WA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Warwick Mentiplay – Malvern, AUS; RA Navy, WWII, HMAS Quiberon

Frederick Stokes – Rock City, CAN; WWII, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion

Millie Dunn Veasey – Raleigh, NC; US Army WAC, WWII, 6888 Central Postal Battalion

William Wheat – Montross, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, HQ Co./187th/11th Airborne Division

 

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USS Hornet (CV-12) – A Father’s Untold War Story – Battle of Iwo Jima (Feburary – March 1945)(Part 1)

A Corpsman’s story on Iwo Jima

Many have seen a picture or the monument that depicts the raising of the flag on Mt. Suribachi, but not many have heard what happened after that first, non-staged flag was raised amid Japanese territory.

Lt.Col. Chaney Johnson and Capt. Dave Severance gave the small flag to 1stLt. Harold Schrier and ordered him to take a 40-man assault patrol to the summit, secure the crater and raise the flag, as an earlier patrol had reached the summit without being fired upon.

Iwo Jima wounded w/ corpsmen

Schrier’s patrol included a radioman, 2 teams of stretcher-bearers and SSgt. Lou Lowery of Leatherneck Magazine bringing up the rear, photographing every step of the way.  Marines below watched as the patrol moved forward in a difficult climb, slowly moving up the side of the mountain, sometimes crawling on hands and knees.  Upon reaching the rim, they crawled over the edge, one man at a time.

Fanning out in the rim with minor enemy activity in the cave openings, a long piece of pipe was soon found and taken taken to a spot chosen by Lt. Shrier.  The flag was attached to the pole and Lowery snapped the picture of the first flag raising at 10:10 A.M. on 23 February 1945.

Original flag picture signed by SSgt. Lou Lowery, Leatherneck Mag.

The 6 men present as the flag pole was planted were: Sgt. ‘Boots’ Thomas; Sgt. Henry Hansen; Cpl. Charles Lindberg (Raider); Lt. Harold Shrier (Raider), Pfc James Michaels and Pvt. Louis Charlo.  As it came into view, the tired and dirt Marines below cheered loudly and a chorus of bells, whistles and foghorns emanated from the ships in the harbor.

At the same time, all hell broke loose in the crater as the Japanese saw the flag flying.  Enraged by the sight of the flag, grenades came flying and shots rang out from the caves with one shot just missing Lowery, who tumbled almost 50 feet down the side of the mountain before grabbing a bush to save himself and his camera.

A Japanese officer, carrying a sword then charged the group.  The other members of the patrol quickly killed him and charged the caves firing machine guns and flames throwers while tossing demolition charges to seal them off.  When the area was secured, the platoon started back down the mountain  only to meet another group coming up.

Mt. Surabichi climb

Col. Johnson had the thought that someone would want the flag as a souvenir and ordered a larger flag to be found.  It was retrieved from LST-779 and given to 2nd battalion Runner Pfc Rene Gagnon to take to the top.  And so – the more famous picture was taken by Photographer Joseph Rosenthal of the Associated Press.

Story is from “REAL BLOOD!  REAL GUTS!: U.S. Marine Raiders and their CORPSMEN in World War II” by James Gleason.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

As many of you have certainly heard already, the wreck of the USS Juneau has recently been located.  I’m sure the name must sound very familiar to you – the ship that carried down the five Sullivan brothers.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/article/explorers-discover-the-wreck-of-the-uss-juneau/ar-BBKwToF

 

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Human Interest Story –

Chesty XIV meets Chesty XV at Barracks Washington

Chesty XV, USMC mascot

https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2018/03/19/meet-chesty-xv-the-new-marine-corps-mascot/

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jean Bowen – Ottawa, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Irene Cason – Mosinee, WI; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Bill Dingwall – Woodstock, GA; US Army, WWII

Alan Falk – New Bedford, MA; US Army, Captain

Lewis Gilbert – London, ENG; RAF, WWII, Air Force film crew

Clifford Hunt – Anchorage, AK; US Army, Korea, Medical Corps, Psychologist

Charles Jackson – Parrish, FL; 187th RCT, Vietnam, Sgt. Major, Bronze Star

Florence ‘Shutsy’ Reynolds – Connellsville, PA; US Army Air Corps WASP, WWII, pilot

James Studebaker – Lucerne, MO; US Army, WWII & Korea

Phillip Wendell – Sioux City, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT boats

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First Hand Account – Iwo Jima

 

The 31st Naval Construction Battalion on Iwo Jima

This account was submitted by: John Ratomski

A Seabee on Iwo Jima: They Also Served Who Drove Cranes and Cats -62nd SeaBee Battalion

BY:  JACK CORNWELL

 

ON D+2 WE WERE JUST OFF THE SOUTH END OF THE ISLAND, in a Landing Ship, Tank. At about 5 p.m. we were told to report to our equipment. We started our engines, the LST opened its bow doors, and the ramp dropped. We were at Red Beach. A Caterpillar bulldozer went first, to build a dirt ramp. Once that was ready we moved out—trucks, more Cats, and my Northwest 25 crane. The noise was continuous. Wreckage was everywhere. It was getting dark when I got to shore, close to Mount Suribachi.  There was a 30-degree slope up from the beach; I barely made it to the top of that volcanic sand.

My partner Red and I were to share a foxhole. Trying to move that sand was like digging flour. I took the first watch and let Red sleep. When it was his turn, he woke me up every time he heard land crabs. Finally I gave him my bolo knife and told him that only after he had shot the carbine and stuck the enemy with the bolo could he wake me.

Seabees unloading cargo on Iwo Jima’s Red Beach

We were issued D rations, bars about two-and-a-half by five-and-a-half inches that looked like chocolate but were grainy, not sweet. Three bars was one day’s supply. Navy guys on the ship had gotten into the canned goods we had stowed on the crane, but they hadn’t fooled with the five-gallon can of water we had hidden in the boom. We were thankful to have that, since we were allowed only two canteens of water a day.

On D+3 we woke at dawn but couldn’t leave our foxholes until we had clearance from security. Finally we got up, relieved ourselves—no toilet—and saw men from our battalion. Cats went to clear the beaches. Dump trucks were hauling supplies. After we hung the crane with a clam bucket—the Marines needed a water point dug across the island for distributing fresh and desalinated water—Red and I split up.

I started for the beach in the crane. A Northwest 25 was a big, slow thing on treads with a rotating cab and long boom; even with its big diesel engine it only did about two miles an hour. It was going to be a while before I could dig that water point. All around me were Marines trying to get somewhere. Right in the middle of the road some of them had dug a hole and were setting up a 105mm howitzer that they pointed at Japs a hundred yards away on some rocks. After they shot five rounds that killed everyone on the rocks they moved the gun and I filled in the hole and went down to the beach. Far enough up from the sea to avoid the tides, I dug five holes, each 20 feet in diameter, down to the water table. Other Seabees and Marines set up evaporators, pumps, and storage tanks for the water point.

SeaBees constructing the Iwo Jima command post.

I was told to go to the battalion’s new bivouac, below the old Japanese airfield nearest Suribachi. I left my machine there at the strip. At the bivouac two guys from my company and I remodeled a shell crater for our quarters. I stole a tarp to cover it. For sanitary facilities we had slit trenches we squatted over.

Around D+5, my company commander, Lieutenant Pond—I don’t think I ever knew his first name; we generally called him “Mister Pond”—told me my mother had died. There was no way he would be able to get me home to bury her. We couldn’t even move wounded men off the island. I wanted to send money for the funeral, but the paymaster was out on the ship. Lieutenant Pond loaned me $100 and took care of sending it home. He was an outstanding officer. I didn’t mind calling him “Mister.”

This piece of art was created by the Navy Seabee Waldon T. Rich, a few days after the Battle of Iwo Jima to pay tribute to the flag raising on top of Mt Suribachi.

I needed to work on the airfield, so the mechanics changed my rig over from a bucket to a shovel. I put in 9 or 10 hours a day extending the original airstrip to make it big enough to accommodate B-29s. Marines were fighting for the very piece of ground where we were trying to enlarge the strip. We had to watch out for sniper fire and mortar fire and live ammunition and mines. One evening after I finished my shift the first B-29 landed.

ON D+6 THE MAIN BODY OF THE 62ND CAME ASHORE. By D+7 the cooks and bakers had the cook tent erected and we got our first hot meal with baked bread. Marines didn’t have chow lines, just K rations, so whenever they had a chance they got into the Seabee chow line. We got water for showers from underground. It smelled like rotten eggs but it was hot enough. We made the pipes out of shell casings. The showers were out in the open with no covering. Slit trenches got upgraded to four- and six-holers.

Finding Japanese booby traps

After working about 10 days I was sent to Airfield 2, half a mile north, to help extend that strip. I had to walk the crane with the shovel on it uphill past a B-29 in a gully with other abandoned equipment. I noticed a bottle of sake and had gotten down to fetch it when a passing Marine said, “I wouldn’t handle that if I were you.” His face was bloody from hundreds of tiny holes made by a grenade. He explained that it was a booby trap and showed me the wires inside the bottle. I gently put the bottle down. He was waiting to be treated nearby at an evacuation center that was also identifying the dead. They had men going through pockets and checking dog tags and clothing and then stacking the bodies four or five high at an old Japanese revetment. It was awful gruesome.

There was a 105mm howitzer behind our bivouac. The Japanese tried to knock it out with eight-inch guns. The first shell hit about 20 feet from me and killed two of my buddies. The Japs were also using giant mortar shells that tumbled end over end in the air, making a frightening screaming noise. But they usually landed in the water. We figured they were launched from a trough, like Fourth of July skyrockets.

One day a Marine crawled up into my crane’s cab. He pointed to three guys about 100 yards away and said one was a lieutenant colonel who wanted to talk to me. I hurried over. The colonel asked how far down I could dig. Twenty-six feet, I told him.

“That ought to do it,” he said. “Can you move the rig?”

When I said yes the colonel told me I was temporarily relieved of my duties. His sergeant drove me about three-quarters of a mile to a rise called Hill 382. At the foot of the hill he showed me a flat area covered with dead Japs, big mines, and shell casings, then he drove me back to my machine. It took an hour to fuel the crane and return to the work site.

Marine flamethrower on Iwo Jima

The sergeant was waiting there with 40 Marines who spread out on either side of me. The sergeant had me move the crane forward to a cave, which the colonel told me to dig out. I dug all day. We found supplies and living quarters, but no people. That evening the Marines dug foxholes; they were on the fighting line. One drove me to my bivouac. The next morning, when we realized we wouldn’t find anything more, the Marines burned out the cave with flamethrowers. Then they sealed it. I found out later we had been looking for the Japanese commander of the island. Hill 382 became known as Meat Grinder Hill.

For 20 days I dug out caves. At some we pulled out dead Japs and rifles, pistols, and ammunition. I sold souvenirs, mostly to air force fighter personnel. One day I found a bail of tube socks. From then on I never washed socks. Every morning I would put on a new pair. I took a gun rack off a wrecked jeep and mounted it on the nose of the crane cab, which seemed a better place to keep my gun than the floor of the rig. The front windows of the cab were hinged so I could get hold of my weapon in a hurry.

For the continuation of this story and other first hand accounts about the SeaBees contributed by John Ratomski, they appear in the comments at this post – Click Here!

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – SeaBee Style – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

This week the U.S. Air Force lost 10 Great Men

Andrew Becker – Novi, MI; US Air Force, 318th Special Operations Squadron, Captain, pilot, KIA

Dashan J. Biggs – Port Jefferson Station, NY; US Air Force, Iraq, SSgt., KIA

Missing Man formation

Kenneth Dalga – Union, KY; US Air Force, 318th Special Operations Squadron Combat Systems, Captain, KIA

Frederick Dellecker – Ormond Beach, FL; US Air Force, 318th Special Operations Squadron, 1stLt., pilot, KIA

Carl P. Enis – Tallahassee, FL; US Air Force, Iraq, SSgt., KIA

Andreas B. O’Keefe – Center Moriches, NY; US Air Force, Iraq, Captain, KIA

William R. Posch – Indiatlantic, FL; US Air Force, Iraq, MSgt., KIA

Christopher J. Ruguso – Commack, NY; US Air Force, Iraq, MSgt., KIA

Mark K. Weber – Colorado Springs, CO; US Air Force, Iraq, Captain, KIA

Christopher T. Zanetis – Long Island City, NY; Iraq, Captain, KIA

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Iwo Jima

From: “Japanese Destroyer Captain” by IJN Capt. Tameichi Hara____

After heavy preliminary bombardment, the Americans began the invasion of Iwo Jima…  Not a single Japanese warship was sent to oppose this enemy landing, only 700 miles from the homeland.  Meanwhile the bombing of Japanese cities by B-29 Superforts from Marianas bases continued with increasing intensity.

Nothing I write could possibly give you the feeling of this operation – so please watch this documentary that gives both American and Japanese thoughts on this 19 February 1945! 

I realize this is rather long, so if you have limited time, I suggest watching the first few minutes – still – it is very impressive!

 

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Military Humor –

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Murray Barton – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Rayner Broadbent – Waikato, NZ; RNZ Navy # 8573, WWII, submarine service

Ralph Casale – Chelmsford, NH; USMC, WWII, frogman

Donald Gilbert – Greenville, OH; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

John Herberg – Eau Claire, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, pilot (Ret. 30 y.)

Ernell Hermanson – Albuquerque, NM; US Army, WWII

John McShane – Boston, MA; US Army, 187th RCT, infantryman

William Shank – US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 8th Air Force

Kenneth Taylor – Montreal, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, Signalman, HMCS Inch Arran

Ralph Wasserman – St. Paul, MN, US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman

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