Category Archives: First-hand Accounts

Luzon February 1945 (1)

Entering Manila

The 6th and 8th Armies on Luzon were repeatedly in close and brutal combat with the Japanese.  By dawn on 4 February the paratroopers ran into increasingly heavy and harassing fire from Japanese riflemen and machine gunners. At the Paranaque River, just south of the Manila city limits, the battalion halted at a badly damaged bridge only to be battered by Japanese artillery fire from Nichols Field. The 11th Airborne Division had reached the main Japanese defenses south of the capital and could go no further.

The U.S. on Luzon

Regarding Manila as indefensible, General Yamashita had originally ordered the commander of Shimbu Group, General Yokoyama Shizuo, to destroy all bridges and other vital installations and evacuate the city as soon as strong American forces made their appearance. However, Rear Adm. Iwabachi Sanji, the naval commander for the Manila area, vowed to resist the Americans and countermanded the order. Determined to support the admiral as best he could, Yokoyama contributed three Army battalions to Iwabachi’s 16,000-man Manila Naval Defense Force and prepared for battle. The sailors knew little about infantry tactics or street fighting, but they were well armed and entrenched throughout the capital. Iwabachi resolved to fight to the last man.

The battle for Manila had barely begun. Almost at once the 1st Cavalry Division in the north and the 11th Airborne Division in the south reported stiffening Japanese resistance to further advances into the city. As one airborne company commander remarked in mock seriousness, “Tell Halsey to stop looking for the Jap Fleet; it’s dying on Nichols Field.”

6 February 1945: “The view of Manila last night was a terrible thing as the whole part of one side of the city seemed to be on fire.  Smoke and flames were going way up in the air….Dombrowski spent the night at the airstrip and said even there, 50 miles away, he could see the flames of Manila…”  General R. Eichelberger

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Current News –

From: Fellow Blogger – Brizzy Mays Books & Bruschetta___

“You may not be aware GP that the east coast of Australia has suffered major flooding over the last six weeks with lives lost and much property destroyed. A supply vessel, the USS Frank Cable, arrived in Brisbane just at the tail end and when the sailors disembarked for their first day of shore leave, 100 of your countrymen and women volunteered their time to help our Mud Army with the clean up – removing debris from houses, chopping down fallen trees, loading trucks with rubbish that floated down swollen rivers etc. It was a wonderful thing, much appreciated, and I hope you guys over there heard about the spirit of co-operation and friendship between our countries. Respect”

USS Frank Cable

[THE U.S. ARTICLE i LOCATED ON THE SUBJECT_____]

USS Frank Cable recently arrived in Brisbane, and some of the ship’s company stepped ashore to help Australian Defense Force personnel deployed on Operation Flood Assist with clean-up tasks.  The ship, attached to the US Seventh Fleet and based in Guam, is visiting Brisbane as part of its current deployment.

The visit has been coordinated with the support of the relevant state governments and Australian Border Force.  Commanding Officer Frank Cable, Captain Albert Alarcon, said he was proud his crew was able to lend assistance.

“Our ship is very honored to be given the opportunity to support the local Brisbane community,” Captain Alarcon said.  “The crew has a very high level of volunteerism and interest in public support, so when offered the opportunity to help out, it resonated across the deck fleet.”

Australia’s longstanding alliance with the US is the nation’s most important defense relationship.  It stands as a pillar of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific and it is a testament to shared values and a commitment to an open, secure, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

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Military Humor –

‘THIS IS A HELLUVA JOB FER A SOJER”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hersh Aramaki – Price, UT; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co C/442nd RCT, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Barney R. Cox – NY & TX; USMC, Korea & Vietnam, GySgt. (Ret.)

Helen Gallagher – Boston, MA; Civilian, WWII, South Boston Army Base

Jack Higgins (Henry Patterson) – Newcastle, ENG; British Army, Royal Horse Guards/Household Cavalry  /  author: “The Eagle Has Landed”

Wilbur R. House – Augusta, KS; US Navy, WWII, Sr. Chief Operations Specialist

Richard B. Johnson – Pueblo, CO; US Navy, WWII, Vietnam, submarine service (Ret. 25 y.)

Arlie Kendrick – CAN; Civilian, WWII, Port Credit Munitions Plant

Etta Moore (101) – St. Louis, MO; Civilian, WWII, aircraft construction

Harry E, Nichols – Sioux City, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Navy Storekeeper # 3213806, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Walter R. Pentico – Lexington, NE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 3723404, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Herbert Stiles – Manchester, NH; US Navy, WWII, ETO, minesweeper

Francis Tippet (100) – Toronto, CAN; RC Navy WRENS, WWII

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Entering Luzon | 31 January 1945

Notice arrow for the 11th A/B at the bottom. Click to enlarge.

I have to continue here on January 31, 1945, as this is where the actions of Smitty and the 11th Airborne Division become quite confusing. While the 221st medical is attached to the 187th, the 187th itself is split and send in alternate directions. Up until now, the division has been maintained fairly well in secret from the Japanese, but it is here that Gen. Eichelberger not only wants to allow the enemy knowledge of their existence, he wants to (in his words) pull a “monumental bluff” and splash the landing across the newspapers.

The men hit the beach with only their necessities on their backs; their personal items would not be seen for two months. The Eichelberger/Swing strategy began at dawn with the convoy’s arrival at the shore. 0700 hours – eighteen A-20’s and nine P-38s strafed the beaches.
0715 hours – the navy began to shell the landing area with rockets from the LCIs and shells from the destroyers.
0815 – cease fire, beach party lands
0822 – no opposition from enemy reported; first wave of 8 LCVPs lands, men head toward Nasugbu only 1500 yards away.
0945 – the 188th was through Wawa, Nasugbu and the airstrip.
1030 – the 187th begins landing and immediately joined up with the others to head up to Tagatay Ridge. One unit of the 187th remains to defend Nasugbu, one battery of the 674th assists. The 102d AAA AW Battalion and the 152d AA-AT Battalion set up antiaircraft defense on the beach.
1300 – the beach was clear – Eichelberger and Swing head down Highway 17

“We were very fortunate in capturing a bunch of bridges on Highway 17 before the Japs had a chance to blow them up.  I saw a number of big packages of explosives which they never set off.” __ Gen. Eichelberger

Palico Bridge

1400 – Gen. Swing notified Admiral Fechteler that all the men were ashore and he would resume command. Little did the 11th know that for a few brief hours, they were under the command of a naval admiral!
1430 – all key elements were 8 miles from the beach and at the Palico Bridge. It was saved just as a squad of Japanese were about to blow the steel and wood structure.
1600 – the 188th set up a CP in the Palico barracks.
All companies continued to moved forward. Artillery, rifle and machine gun fire erupted shortly afterward.

Japanese artillery, Nasugbu, Luzon

The monumental bluff was created by: a flying boatload of correspondents that blasted the news that the “Eighth Army had landed on Luzon,” and Eichelberger ordered Swing to have the 187th and 188th move as quickly as possible, fire as much artillery and weapons and create as much dust as possible. All vehicles raced down the dirt roads, guns blazing and air strikes thrown in made the division appear to not only be of immense size, but that they also had an armored unit with them.

They would now be coming up on the infamous Genko Line; a stretch of blockhouses and pillboxes that contained guns from Japanese warships, 20mm, 6 inch, etc. The enemy had dug massive octopus traps called takotsubo. All this needed to be destroyed before liberation of Manila and elimination of the 20,000 soldiers waiting for them within the city limits. For this action, the 11th would be granted the Presidential Unit Citation.

The 187th went down the steep southern slope of Tagatay and progressed to the north shore of Lake Taal where they were ordered to take Tanauan. The 127th Engineers carved out a road on the vertical cliffs for them.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Vaughan Albrecht – Grant City, MI, US Women’s Army Air Corps

Wilfred Anderson (104) – N. Vancouver, CAN; British Columbia Dragoons, WWII

Pearl F. Barrow – Wichita, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pvt. # 37731632, Co F/12/4th Infantry Division, Bromze Star, KIA (Hürtgen, GER)

Gerald Blevins (100) – Pueblo West, CO; US Army, WWII, ETO

Lillian Campbell – Roseville, MI; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Frank DeVita – Brooklyn, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII, ETO, USS Samuel Chase (APA-26)

Hampton Folse Jr. – Raceland, LA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Laffey (DD-724)

Albert S. Frost – Tauranga, NZ; RNZ Army # 442456, WWII

Donald Guay – Hartford, CT; US Army, medic, 101st Airborne Division

Joseph Talarchek – Wilkes-Barre, PA; US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, SSgt.

Leroy W. “Swede” Svendsen Jr. – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, aerial gunner / US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, fighter pilot / Pentagon, MGeneral (Ret. 34 y.)

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A tribute to my parents on their 79th wedding anniversary if they are here today

From fellow blogger, Rosalinda Morgan, we receive a first hand account of when Smitty was on Luzon…

Subli

With the war going on in Ukraine, I thought of the war in the Philippines when I was a baby. War is a terrible thing, and in memory of my parent’s 79th wedding anniversary, I’m reposting this story of how Dad’s decision saved our lives from the massacre. Otherwise, my three brothers and I won’t be here today. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! Love you both and miss you every day!

I sent this story four years ago to a fellow blogger, GPCox, who blogs about WWII in the Pacific at https://PacificParatrooper.wordpress.com. It is an excerpt from my book, BAHALA NA, Come What May. If you’re a fan of WWII Pacific Theatre, go and visit Pacific Paratrooper and say hello to GP.

Thank you.

Mom and Dad are on the terrace during their 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration at their home.

My father told me this story of what happened…

View original post 1,017 more words

New Orders for the 11th Airborne

Lt. Gen. Joseph May Swing

21 January 1945 – Gen. Swing announced to his 11th Airborne Division that he was ordering up a review as they were transferring to the 8th Army and the reviewing officer would be none other than Gen. Robert Eichelberger.  Swing had received Field Order Number 17 which gave him the order to prepare for Luzon.

Luzon was the most populated, most highly developed and the most historical island in the archipelago.  It was a land of wild boars, birds, snakes, reptiles, feral dogs, tons of insects and an enemy hiding within the cogon grass at every turn. (the plant had coarse spikes with “silky” hairs that made your skin feel as those hundreds of critters crawled beneath it.)  There was always a threat of dengue fever, that is contracted from a mosquito and if left untreated resulted in bleeding and death, and we can’t forget malaria.

The 6th Army, under Gen. Krueger, was already in the midst of all this trying to reach Manila.  MacArthur had told Eichelberger how upset he was at their slow progress to get to the capital and added, “speed up your ‘palsey-walsey,’ Krueger doesn’t radiate courage.”  Ergo – a rivalry was born and a race between the 6th and 8th Armies would exist – the problem was – the 11th A/B had been given more than one priority as their mission.

Generals Swing and Eichelberger making plans for the 11th Airborne

As X-Day approached, the pace of activity increased dramatically.  The division’s supply loading plan put the responsibility on the unit commanders.  The G-4, Roy Stout, set up a special section to load the 11th and all ran efficiently despite not knowing what vessels the Navy would be sending.  But on 25 January, most of the supply ships were completely loaded within 24 hours.


The LCI’s (Landing Craft Infantry), arrived at 0700 hours on 27 January and a convoy of almost 100 ships pulled out to sea that afternoon, under the command of Adm. Fechteler, and headed south through Mindanao Sea and then swung north.  The LCI’s were crowded and there were no cooking facilities, the men ate “10-in-1” rations rather than having the customary steak and eggs before a landing.

Adm. Flechteler

Most of the sailing days were spent in map study, planning and orientation.  All the troopers would be so well briefed on the terrain from aerial photographs and mock-up reliefs that their landing somehow felt like déjà-vu.  Excess baggage was not carried – only what the men could carry on their backs.  Personal baggage would not be seen for 2 months.

General Eichelberger wrote his wife, Miss Emmalina, of the beauty in watching the large naval convoy and he marveled at their expertise.  He noted the Navy’s ability to keep their sense of humor, despite the seriousness of their voyage.  Before landing on 31 January, he heard over the loud speaker system, “Sick call _ all sick, lame and lazy report to sick bay.”  He also commented that Gen. Swing was grand to deal with.

Eichelberger would write in his book, “Now the stage was set for what I regard as one of the most thrilling exploits for the Pacific War – the 11th Airborne’s dash for Manila”

References: “Our Road to Tokyo”, by Gen. Robert Eichelberger; “The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division,” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan Jr.; “Rakkasans” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan and “Dear Miss Em”, by Gen. Robert Eichelberger

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

June Boykin – Philadelphia, PA; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

James E. Carl (101) – Tulsa, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO,P-51 pilot, Lt. Colonel (Ret.)

Sea Captain

Kenneth Dower – New Haven, CT; US Navy, WWII / USMC, Korea

Myles W. Esmay, Utica, NY; US Army, WWII, CBI, 1st Lt. # 0-491925, Co B/236th Engineer Combat Battalion (Merrill’s Marauders), KIA (Myitkyina, BUR)

William Jordon – Waynesville, NC; USMC, WWII / US Army, 82nd Airborne Division

Calvin Keaton – Ironton, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO

Dennis F. Melton – Waverly, TN; US Air Force, Nigeria, SSgt., 768th Expeditionary AB Squadron/Nigerian AB 101

Harry C. Nivens (100) – Pinesville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 101st Airborne Division, Purple Heart

Claude White – Dyersburg, TN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Chief Water Tender # 2948177, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Ian Woodrow – brn. IRE; British Merchant Marines, WWII

William M. Zoellick – Cook County, IL; US Army, Korea, Pfc # 26368528, Co B/1/9/2nd Infantry Division, POW, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

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Smitty’s Letter XVI “Guard Duty” conclusion

It’s lonely out there.

In the event that you missed the previous post, Cpl. Smith serving in the 11th Airborne during WWII, was attempting to visualize his first experience at standing guard duty in a combat zone to his mother in a letter.

At one point, the situation appears critical and the next – a comedy of errors.  Nevertheless, this half of the letter describes his four-hour rest period and the following two hours of standing guard.  Hope you stick around to see how he does.

*****          *****          *****

Guard Duty (con’t)

“As soon as your relief man comes along, you strut back to your tent feeling as proud as all hell knowing that you are a conqueror of the night and a tried and true veteran of the guard.  You are supposed to get four hours of rest or sleep before going on for your second shift, but for some reason or another the time just flits away and just as you close your eyes in deep slumber — in walks the sergeant of the guard and out you go sleepily rubbing your eyes wondering how in the devil you are ever going to keep awake for the next two hours.

“As you sit on the stump of a tree surveying what you have just four hours ago mentally overcame, you begin to think of home.  Now, thinking of home is alright in the daytime with a load of griping G.I.s around, but at night on a lonesome post, it is strictly out.  Not only do you think of things you shouldn’t, but soon you are feeling sad and more lonely than ever knowing that no one cares and that the whole world is against you.  Not only is this bad for you, it doesn’t even help to pass the time.

” You turn your thoughts elsewhere trying next to figure out what the cooks will try to feed you tomorrow.  Here again is a very poor time-passing thought as you know damn well they’ll feed you bully-beef in its most gruesome form.  Soon your eyes feel heavy again and seem like they’re going to close and you wonder if it would be okay to light up a cigarette. 

 “Here again the book says what to do, but heck, as I said before, the guy who wrote it isn’t out here, so what does he know?  You daringly light one up, trying desperately to shield the light and take a big, deep drag.  I found that it isn’t the inhaling of the cigarette that keeps you awake, but the ever constant threat of being caught in the act.  You look at your watch and find to your dismay that you still have an hour and forty-five minutes left to go.

“Damn but the time sure does drag along.  Wonder why it doesn’t speed up and pass on just as it does when you are off.  Oh!  Well, sit down again and hum a tune or two, maybe that will help.  Gosh, sure wish someone would come along to talk.  Ho-hum, lets see now.  What will I do tomorrow on my time off?  This last thought is sure to pass away in 15 to 20 minutes, but why it should, I don’t know.  You know damn well that no matter what you may plan for tomorrow’s off-time, it will only be discarded and you will spend that time in bed asleep. 

Aleutians, 1943

” Light up another cigarette, sweat it out, swear a little at the dragging time, hum another tune, think more about home, think of you and the army, swear good and plenty and after that thought — look at your watch.

“Hey — what goes on here? — that damn relief is over a half-minute late — who does he think he is anyway?  Swear.  Brother how you are swearing and cursing now.  Oh!  Oh!  There’s a light coming your way — the relief.  “Oh boy, sleep ahead.”

“So long bud, the whole damn post is yours.  Take it easy, it ain’t too bad.  Goodnite.”  —  And so ends your first night of guard duty as you wearily drag yourself to your bunk too damn tired to even undress.

“Hey Mom, hope you enjoyed this as much as some of the others here did.  Meant to send this off before now, but you know me.

“Love,  Everett”

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lawrence L. Brown – USA; US Army, Cpl., Co. M/3/9/2nd Infantry Division, KIA (POW Camp # 5, NK)

Louis “Red” Carter – Attapulgus, GA; US Merchant Marines, WWII, PTO/ETO

Long may she wave!!
(courtesy of Dan Antion)

Wesley O. Garrett – So. Trenton, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt., 84th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Gail S. Halvorsen (101) Salt Lake City, UT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Colonel, “The Candy Bomber”, pilot (Ret. 32 y.)

Harvey C. Herber – Tacoma, WA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Electrician’s Mate 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Francis J. Jury – USA; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Heavy Mortar Co./32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Mary (Sullivan) Mann – Braintree, MA; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Jack R. Pathman – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, bomber/radio instructor

William Sieg Sr, – Winlock, WA; US Navy, WWII

Henry E. Stevens (102) – New Britain, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Tuscaloosa, Naval Academy graduate

John A. Trucano (100) – Vineland, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO, Military Police

Henry Zanetti – Lee, MA; US Army, WWII, SSgt.

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Smitty’s Letter XVI “Guard Duty”

Guard Duty, armyhistory.com

15 January 1945, all of the 11th Airborne Division was back on Bito Beach where they rested, re-organized, got re-equipped, re-trained and with a little time left over – they wrote letters home.  Here starts Number 16 from Smitty….

 

Letter XVI                                                                 Guard Duty                                                               1/15/45

 

You have received many notes from me in the past that always seem to contain one line that went something like this, “Have to go on guard duty tonight ____.”  Now in this letter I hope to be able to picture for you convincingly enough my first night on guard duty.  Please remember, all through this letter, that this place at the time was threatened at ALL times by the Japs and never for one moment were we allowed to forget it — especially at night.

My first trick on guard was posted for the hours of 9 to 11pm with a four-hour sleep period before going on as second sentry relief.  We were to be ready for immediate action.  This was also the first time I had to stand guard with a loaded rifle, so instead of feeling safe and secure, it tends to make me that much more nervous and apprehensive.

At eight-forty-five sharp, we were called out, inspected and told the password and counter sign.  We were then marched away, in a body, to our respective posts, told the special orders pertaining to that particular post and then left alone.  The quick, short steps of the guard soon grow faint and they rapidly walk on until all you can hear is the beat of your heart.

As soon as I realized that I was alone and on my post, I tried vainly to pierce the darkness and see just where I was and what was around and near me.  It generally takes from five to ten minutes before your eyes become accustomed to the darkness, but before that happens, I found out that your mind sees things and imagines most anything from a Jap standing or crouching down.  You try to shake off the feeling, but damn it all — how can you?

After a while, you begin to see things in their true form and you notice that the standing Jap is nothing but a small palm tree and that sinister apparition is only some old debris or fallen tree.  As these things unfolded before in their real form, I heaved a great sigh and relieved my tightened grip on my rifle.  Boy!  What a relief I thought and was just about to sling my rifle over my shoulder when suddenly I heard a noise.

I crouched down trying desperately this time to see what my ears had just heard, when again, I heard a faint sound — only this time it was in back of me or maybe on the side.  All sorts of thoughts run rampant through your mind at this stage and mine were really running wild.

You try to remember things you were taught about for situations such as these, but at the time the lessons were given, they seemed boring and so you didn’t pay much attention.  Now I wish I had listened and desperately tried to recall to mind what little I did hear.  Seconds seemed liked hours, my legs were getting numb, but I was too damned scared to move a muscle for fear of giving away my position to whatever was around.  “Where the hell is that man?”  I thought to myself.  Gosh, it sure was quiet and still that night.  I even tried to stop breathing for fear it would be heard.

Suddenly, your eyes pick out a strange object that wasn’t there before, or so your memory tells you.  You watch it for a while, then — oh, oh — it moves, sure as hell, it moved — there it goes again.

I could see it then, just an outline, but that was clear enough for me.  I held my breath and at the same time brought my rifle up and aimed it.  Now, I was in a mess.  What if it was an American soldier out there or the next guard?  The book covers this well, you remember it says, “Yell out, in a clear distinctive voice, HALT, at least three times.”  That’s fine I thought, but dammit, the guy who wrote that isn’t out there with me now and I’d bet he wouldn’t yell “HALT” at least three times.

Well, I won the bet and only yelled once and waited for the password.  Again, minutes seemed like hours, suppose he didn’t hear me, should I yell again?  Suppose it is another guard and he thinks I’m only kidding or it’s nothing but a swaying branch, what a mess, what do I do?  All these thoughts flash thru your mind and you are about to get up and yell again, but it moves back — that’s a Jap.  Without hesitation now, you pull the trigger and then in excitement, before you release your finger, you hear instead of one shot, three or more ring out.

Flash lights appear from nowhere as men come out anxiously looking about and trying to find out what the noise is about.  In the dim rays of their lights, you find that what you thought was a hoard of Japs surrounding you is nothing or was nothing more than a dog or wild pig prowling about.  You feel about the size of a ten cent piece, I sure did.  Inwardly you are proud to note that what you aimed at in the darkness, you hit and that a few are even remarking about that wonderful feat.  You aren’t even shaking anymore.  In fact, you notice to your most pleasant surprise you are no longer afraid.

Soon tho, you are left alone again, but this time the loneliness isn’t so bad and you know that soon you will be relieved and another “first night” will come along and make the same mistakes you did.

to be continued …

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Military Humor – 

Soldiers and Officers from 16 Air Assault Brigade, build snow men during their Naafi break.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Stanley W. Adams (101) – Simcoe, CAN; RC Army, WWII, Lord Strathcona Tank Regiment

Michael C. Ambrosia – East Meadow, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Eagle stands guard

Charles R. Baker – Elva, KY; USMC, Korea, air traffic comptroller

Kenneth Dawson – Taft, CA; US Navy, WWII, Lt JG

Richard W. Horrigan – Chester, WV; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-47D pilot, 22FS/36FG/9th Air Force, KIA (Alt Lönnewitz Airfield)

Billy Layfield – Phenix City. AL; US Navy, WWII

Yvonne LeMere – Garden City, GA; Civilian, WWII, USO performer

Donald L. Menken – Letcher County, KY; US Army Korea, Cpl. # 13428835, Co K/3/15/3rd Infantry Div., KIA (Outpost Harry, on guard duty in the area that would become the DMZ)

Kyle Mullen – Manalapan, NJ; US Navy, SEAL

Don Pegues (Andrew D. Austin III) – Juneau, AK; US Army, WWII, APO,  MP 761st

George F. Price – Dallas City, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Harry E. Walker – San Diego, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

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Mules in the CBI and their Veterinarians

Merrill’s Marauders

We often comment on the animals who help us, especially in war, BUT the Veterinarians who care for them are very rarely given a voice…

I received a message from Lavinia Ross @ Salmon Brook Farms about her veterinarian, D.E. Larsen, DVM and his mentor, Robert W. Davis, DVM, Please visit to read!

GP, you might like this post by our old veterinarian who retired some years back. One of his mentors in vet school was the same veterinarian who cared for the mules used by Merrill’s Marauders in Burma during WWII.”

Article about Dr, Davis

Dr. David E. Larsen, So. Korea

The most famous American unit of the CBI was the 5307th Composite Unit, also known as “Merrill’s Marauders.” Undertaking operations similar to those of the Chindits, it used large numbers of mules. Six Quartermaster pack troops were part of the unit, and mules were liberally issued to the rest of the unit as well to transport their own equipment and supplies. Each troop had about 300 mules and 75 men.

Dr. Robert Davis, India

During campaigns the mules proved their worth time and again. Don L. Thrapp served with the Marauders and later wrote of his experiences with the pack mules during the fighting at Tonkwa against the Japanese. “They were zeroed in on our bivouac area at a river crossing, and their fire caused us some casualties in men and animals. One tree burst accounted for seven animals. Another shell cut between two mules … and burst about eight feet behind them, but injured neither.”

In the words of a veteran of the China-Burma-India Theater, retired Technical Sergeant Edward Rock Jr., [they] “served without a word of complaint or lack of courage. They transported artillery, ammunition, food, and medicine, and under enemy fire transported the wounded. Many of the CBI veterans are here today because a mule stopped a bullet or a piece of shrapnel meant for the GI. Mules fell in battle, mortally wounded, and we shed tears for them.”

moving through Burma w/ supplies for the 475th Inf.

Pack mules indeed performed yeoman service in Asia and other theaters during World War II, hauling weapons and equipment as well as saving lives by carrying wounded off the front lines. They took the same risks as their human masters and too often they paid the ultimate price.

Wingate, Chindits & mules

A report on April 4, 1944, from one of the units of Merrill’s Marauders described their sacrifice in detail: Japanese artillery fire had killed or wounded most of the unit’s mules. The mules really proved their value in the CBI with both British and American units fighting there. The famous British Brigadier Orde Wingate used large numbers of mules to supply his Chindit Brigade.

Francis & Donald O’Connor in their movie.

After the war, the mules were not forgotten.  A beloved character, “Francis the talking mule.”  became a well-known movie. https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2020/04/20/francis-the-talking-mule/

I hope some of this has encouraged you to check out more….

David E. Larsen, DVM

Please be sure to visit Dr. Larsen’s site,  and Lavinia’s too, she deserves a big Thank You.

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Military Humor –

Farewell Salutes – 

John Bergman – Osbourne, KA; US Army, WWII, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

No greater love

John Boyko – Lansing, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT boat service

Biacio Casola – Bronx, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, Seaman 1st Class, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Paul C. Charvet – Grandview, WA; USNR, Vietnam, Comd., A-1H Skyraider pilot, Attack Squadron 215, USS Bon Homme Richard, KIA (Thanh Hoa Prov., N.Vietnam)

Adabelle I. Crum – Lagrange, KY; US Women’s Marine Corps, WWII

Peter “Harmonica Pete” Dupree – Ogdensburg, NY; US Army, WWII, 4th General Hospital

Thomas Eubanks (103) – Springfield, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 tail gunner

Terrance G. Fitzsimmons – NYC, NY; US Army, Korea

Claire Menker – Milford, MA; Civilian, WWII, Firestone Co., gas mask production

Harold J. Smith Jr. – Levittown, NY; US Navy, WWII

Thomas J. Wilson (102) – Petaluma, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO

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Lingayen Gulf | January 1945

The USS Louisville is struck by a kamikaze Yokosuka D4Y at the Battle of Lingayen Gulf, 6 January 1945

On 2 January, the US carrier, USS Ommaney Bay, was severely damaged by a kamikaze aircraft and would later need to be scuttled.  Three days later, the cruiser, USS Columbia, was also damaged when she was hit by 2 of the Japanese suicide planes.  US shipping received relentless kamikaze strikes that cost the Navy more than 1000 men due to those 30 hits.

Beginning on 6 January, a heavy naval and air bombardment of suspected Japanese defenses on Lingayen began.  Aircraft and naval artillery bombardment of the soon-to-be landing areas occurred, with kamikazes attacking again on the 7th.

USS Columbia, hit by kamikaze

On the 8th, it was observed that in the town of Lingayen, as a response to the prelanding shelling, Filipinos had begun to form a parade, complete with United States and Philippine flags – firing was shifted away from that area.

The USS Louisville had been hit on the 5th of January with one man killed and 52 wounded, including the captain.  The following day she was attacked by six successive plane, 5 were shot down, but one got through.

Rear Admiral Theodore Chandler

The strike on the Louisville was also notable for the death of RAdmiral Theodore Chandler, commanding the battleships and cruiser in Lingayen Gulf.  He was badly burned when his Flag ship was engulfed in flames, but jumped down to the signal deck and deployed hoses to the enlisted men before waiting in line for treatment with the other wounded sailors.  However, his lungs had been scorched by the petroleum flash and he died the following day.

An eye witness account of the attack on the USS Louisville, from John Duffy:

“All of a sudden, the ship shuddered and I knew we were hit again.  I was in charge of the 1st Division men and I yelled, “We’re hit, let’s go men!”  I was the first man out the Turret door followed by Lt. Commander Foster and Lt. Hastin, our Division Officer, then a dozen more men.

“The starboard side of the ship was on fire from the forecastle deck down.  One almost naked body was laying about ten feet from the turret with the top of his head missing.  It was the kamikaze pilot that had hit us.  He made a direct hit on the Communications deck.

“As the men poured out of the turret behind me, they just stood there in shock.  Explosions were still coming from the ammunition lockers at the scene of the crash.  We could see fire there too.  Injured men were screaming for help on the Communications Deck above us.  I ordered 2 men to put out the fire on the starboard side by leaning over the side with a hose.  That fire was coming from a ruptured aviation fuel pipe that runs full length of the forecastle on the outside of the ship’s hull.  That fuel pipe was probably hit by machine-gun bullets from the kamikaze just before he slammed into us.

USS Louisville during kamikaze attack

“Although there was no easy access to the deck above us, I ordered several men to scale up the side of the bulkhead (wall) and aid the badly burned victims who were standing there like zombies.  I also ordered 3 men to crawl under the rear Turret 1’s overhang, open the hatch there and get the additional fire hose from Officers Quarters.  These 3 orders were given only seconds apart and everyone responded immediately, but when they got near the dead Jap’s body, which was lying right in the way, it slowed them down…”

For some additional information on the Kamikaze, Click HERE.

The HMAS Australia was included in this fleet and would also come under heavy attack.  Her full story will be the following post.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

R.B. Cherry – Dallas, TX; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. G/2/24th Infantry Division, POW, KIA (Camp 5, NK)

Naomi Clark – Lima, OH; Civilian, WWII, Lima Army Tank Depot

The Flag flies in all weather, courtesy of Dan Antion

Alfred Guglielmetti (103) – Petaluma, CA; Civilian, WWII, Mare Island welder, battleship repair

Nancy Hussey – Bronxville, NY; US Coast Guard SPARS, WWII, Company Comdr. & coxswain

John M. Loncola (100) – Old Forge, PA; US Navy, WWII, CBI & PTO, Chief Petty Officer

Jocelyn L. Martin – Orewa, NZ; WRNZ Air Force, LACW # 77239

John R. Melton – Liberty, MS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class # 2744530, USS West Virginia, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

George Pendleton – Bristol. RI; US Navy, WWII

Robert E. Smith – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, fighter pilot

Robert Teza – Syracuse, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Richard Watson – Gorham, ME; US Army, WWII

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1 January 1945

5th Air Force strafing Clark Air Field, 1945

 

Ringing in the new year 1945 with fireworks had a far different meaning in the Pacific and CBI Theaters than we’re used to.  It began with ______

In the Philippines – bombings of Clark Field on Luzon and Sasa on the island of Mindanao.  Wasile Bay enemy bivouac areas felt the bombardments from overhead B-24’s and B-25’s.  Manila saw the fighter-bombers as shipyards and other airfields and ammunition dumps were blown.  US Air Force planes sank the Japanese ship No. 7, Taiko Maru and No. 3, Taiwan Maru, off Masinloc, P.I.

Philippine Islands

Also in the Philippines – the USS Stingray delivered 35 tons of supplies to Filipino forces on the north coast of Tawi Tawi.   HMS Staesman sank four small Japanese vessels with gunfire northeast of Sumatra.

In the Netherland East Indies – the IJN Kyyokku Maru was sunk by a mine that was previously laif by HMN Tradewind off Mergui.

From Saipan – The 7th Air Force had 19 B-24’s bomb Iwo Jima.  This was followed by additional bombers during the evening hours in waves.

In China – railroads, warehouses, industry and gun positions were bombed.  Suchow Airfield lost 25 aircraft.  Armed ground reconnaissance units hit between Xiaolan and Hsuchang.

India-Burma – had the tenth Air Force bombing furl dumps, villages, supply areas, tanks and enemy troops at several locations.  Four other targets of opportunity were found along the Irrawaddy River while large-scale transport operations proceeded as planned.

When we last spoke in the war posts, the 11th Airborne Division was on Leyte and still battling a well dug-in enemy in the uncharted mountains of the island.   As the fighting for the 11th Airborne on Leyte came to a close, the battalions worked their way back to Bito Beach.  The 674th and 675th Glider Field Artillery and the 457th Parachute Field Artillery remained in strategic positions to cover them.

Despite MacArthur declaring Leyte secure on Christmas Day 1944, even Gen. Robert Eichelberger said in relation to the “mopping-up” his men were left with, “The Japanese Army was still intact.  I was told there were only 6,000 Japanese left on the island…  Soon Japanese began streaming across the Ormoc Valley… well equipped and apparently well-fed.  Between Christmas Day and the end of the campaign we killed more than 27,000 Japanese…”

Col. Austin “Shifty” Shofner, USMC, [ the only man to lead a successful escape from a Japanese POW camp (1943)], was assigned to the Army’s 37th Division as an observer and boarded the USS Mount McKinley at New Guinea and sailing for Luzon.  Within a week, he would witness the onset of the Kamikaze Special Attack Force aiming their aircraft at the US Navy in Lingayen Gulf.  The future Brigadier General would assist in the planning of the rescue plans of the Cabanatuan POW camp where over 500 Allied survivors of the Bataan Death March were being held.

Col. Shafer being tended to.

References used: “Pacific War” by John Davison; Pacific Wrecks; “The Pacific” by Hugh Ambrose; WW2 Timelines, World War 2 Photos and “Our Jungle Road To Tokyo” by Gen. Robert Eichelberger.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frederick W. Anderson (100) – Southington, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT Base # 2

Lee Anthony – Petrolia, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Rome E. Barr – Martins Ferry, OH; US Navy, WWII, USS Loy (Destroyer Escort)

Nando A. Cavalieri – Eveleth, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Captain, 324/91/8th Air Force, B-17G pilot, KIA (Döberitz, GER)

Edward Conway – Canon City, CO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Electrician’s Mate 1st Class # 3718589, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Don D. Dowler Jr. – Clarinda, IA; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Co D/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Edwyna Green (100) – Summerset, NZ; NZ Women’s Air Corps, WWII, LCPL # 812146

Richard “Demo Dick” Marcinko – Langsford, PA; US Navy, Vietnam, Iran, SEAL Team # 6 Commander, 4 Bronze Stars, Silver Star (Ret. 25 y.)

Wilbur F. Newton – Mound City, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class # 3760544, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Henry Steele – Corbett, OR; US Army

Jack Tison – Bifay, FL; US Army, WWII, PTO, Medic

Betty White – Oak Park, IL; Civilian, WWII, American Women’s Volunteer Service, PX truck driver  /  Beloved Actress

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Closing 1944 with General Kenney

Gen. George C. Kenney

Being as the 5th Air Force, especially the 54th Troop Carrier Group, were operating so close to the 11th Airborne for so much of the war, I chose to finish up 1944 with the first-hand account from their commander….

 

General Kenney, Commander of the Fifth Air Force reported:

Sky Lancers

“Just before dark on 26 December, a Navy Reconnaissance plane sighted a Jap naval force of 1 heavy cruiser, 1 light cruiser and 6 destroyers about 85 miles NW of Mindoro {Philippines], headed toward San Jose.  We had available on out 2 strips there, 12 B-25s from the 71s Recon Squadron, the 58th Fighter Group (P-47s), the 8th Fighter Group (P-38s and the 110 Tactical Recon Squadron (P-40s).

“Every airplane that could fly took off on the attack, which continued until after midnight.  The Japs kept on coming and the planes kept shuttling back and forth, emptying their bomb racks and ammunition belts and returning for more.  In addition to the difficulty of locating and attacking the Nip vessels in the dark, the enemy made the job still harder by bombing our airdromes at intervals through the night.

“In order to see what they were bombing and strafing, some of our pilots actually turned their landing lights on the Jap naval vessels.  With neither time nor information for briefings during the operation, it was every man for himself and probably the wildest scramble the Nip or ourselves had ever been in.

“At 11:00 P.M. the enemy fleet started shelling our fields and kept it up for an hour.  Fires broke out in our gasoline dumps, airplanes were hit, the runways pitted, but the kids still kept up their attack.  The P-47s couldn’t get at their bomb dump because of the fire, so they simply loaded up with ammunition and strafed the decks of every ship in the Jap force.  They said it was “like flying over a blast furnace, with all those guns firing at us.”

“Shortly after midnight. the Jap fleet turned around and headed north. They had been hurt.  A destroyer had been sunk and a cruiser and 2 destroyers heavily damaged.

“The attack had saved our shipping at San Jose from destruction, but it had cost us something too.  Twenty-five fighter pilots and B-25 crew members missing.  We had lost 2 B-25s and 29 fighter aircraft.  During the next few days we picked up 16 of the kids who were still floating around the China Sea in their life rafts.  I got Gen. MacArthur to approve a citation for each of the units that took part in the show.

417th, Lindbergh with Col. Howard Ellmore

On the 30th, Lt.Col. Howard S. Ellmore, a likable, happy-go-lucky, little blond boy from Shreveport, LA, leading the 417th Attack Group, the “Sky Lancers” caught a Jap convoy in Lingayen Gulf, off Vigan on the west coast of Luzon.  In a whirlwind low-level attack, a destroyer, a destroyer escort, 2 large freighters and one smaller were sunk.

“It was a fitting climax to 1944, which had been an advance from Finschaven to Mindoro, a distance of 2400 miles, equal to that from Washington to San Francisco.  During that time, my kids had sunk a half million tons of Jap shipping and destroyed 3000 Jap aircraft.  Our losses of aircraft in combat during the year were 818.”

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Military Humor – 

“OKAY – You got the C-17 ON the carrier -NOW, how are you going to get it OFF?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Marvin D. Actkinson – Sudan, TX;US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co B/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Hugh R. Alexander – Potters Mills, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt. Comdr., USS Oklahoma, Silver Star, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Kenneth Barhite – Alden, IA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 2nd Lt.,158th RCT/Americal Division

Mary M. Bevan – Greenwich, CT; USMC, WWII

Louis Block – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

Hubert P. Clement – Inman, SC; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fire Controlman 1st Class # 2619359, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Clayton L. Cope – Alton, IL; US Navy, USS Eisenhower

Donald Peterson – Auburn, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt., USS Rotanin

Tceollyar Simmons – Hacoda, AL; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 2nd Class # 3115534, USS California, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Thomas Smith (100) – Early Branch, SC; US Navy, WWII, Radioman 1st Class

Harvey Swack – OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, aircraft mechanic

Larry Virden – Edwardsville, IL; US Army, Iraq

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SANTA’S ON HIS WAY!!
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