Category Archives: Home Front

The Army Airborne and the start to Camp MacKall

Airborne, Camp MacKall

The original idea for an American airborne came from Gen. Billy Mitchell in 1918.  His  commander, Gen. Pershing agreed, but once the WWI Armistice was signed, the plan was terminated.  In the late 1920’s, Germany began training parachute units and in the 1930’s, they led the world in gliders.  Russia created the Air Landing Corps in 1935.  Japan started in 1940 with German instructors.  The U.S. did not take note until Germany was successful on Crete in 1941.

Smitty, 187th RCT/11th Airborne Division, Camp MacKall 1943

The American tradition was born when 48 men jumped at Ft. Benning on Aug. 16, 1940, where  Private Eberhard, promised to yell to his buddies below, was the first to shout out “Geronimo”.  General William Lee is considered the “Father of the Airborne.”  My father, Everett Smith or “Smitty” (as you’ll get to know him),  did not care for heights or jumping, so I asked him – “Why volunteer?”  He shrugged and said, “They pay you more in the paratroopers.”  Smitty had a dry sense of humor which you will see more of in the letters he wrote to his mother in future posts.  He did however accept his boot camp, sharp shooting, glider & parachute training as a way  of learning new things he would otherwise have never experienced. [One of his statements driven into me – ” Like any job, always try your best.”]  Since he was 27 and much older than other recruits, he was often referred to by the nickname of “Pops.”

Camp MacKall postcard

The 11th Airborne Division was formed on Feb. 25, 1943 and their conditioning was so severe that most of the men felt combat would be a breeze.  They were the first A/B division formed from scratch, so instead of following the manuals – they were writing their own.  The camp was under construction 24/7 and they took classes sitting in folding chairs and easels were used for map reading, first-aid, weapons, foxholes, rules of land warfare, communications, field fortifications, and so on.  Between May and June one battalion at a time went to Fort Benning for jump school.

glider jumping

When the time came for Stage A of jump school, it was scratched since the men were already as fit as possible.  Stage B, was learning to tumble, equipment knowledge, sliding down a 30′ cable and packing a parachute.  In Stage C, they used a 250-foot tower, forerunner to the one at Coney Island, to simulate a jump.  Stage D, they earned their jump wings and boots.  In June, the units began training in every circumstance that might arise in combat.

The gliders used were WACO CG 4A, boxlike contraptions with wings.  The skeleton was small gauge steel covered with canvas; a wingspan of 84 feet, length of 49 feet and carried 3,700 pounds = two pilots and 13 fully loaded soldiers or a jeep and 6 men. The casualty list developing these appeared endless to the men.  Smitty could not listen to “Taps” without tearing up, even in his later years.

WACO glider in take off from Camp MacKall field.

21 June, the division entered the unit training program.  During July, all units went on 10-day bivouacs and to Fort Bragg.  Glider formal training occurred at Maxton Air Base.

In July, in Sicily, Operation Husky went terribly awry, due to the weather conditions –  3,800 paratroopers were separated from their gliders and each other.  The casualty rate was exorbitant.  This created serious doubts about the practicality of a division size airborne.  Proof would rest on the shoulders of the 11th and their commander, Gen. Joseph May Swing.  A demonstration called the “Pea Patch Show” was displayed for Sec. of War, Stimson.  He gave Swing a positive review, but it did not convince Gen. Marshall or McNair.  The fate of the Airborne Command rested on the upcoming Knollwood Maneuvers.

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Smitty’s hometown of Broad Channel sent out a free issue of their newspaper, “The Banner”, to every hometown soldier and this became another source of back front info, along with news from his mother and friends:

News that Smitty got from home at this point:  Broad Channel was getting their own air raid siren.  (Broad Channel is one-mile long and about 4-blocks wide).  His neighbors, the Hausmans, heard from their POW son in the Philippines.  And – his divorce papers were final, Smitty was single again.

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Military Humor –

‘I dropped out of Parachute School.’

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Ashby – Sun City, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Carl Bradley – USA; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Leo Brown – Lima, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, USS Colorado,3rd Marine Division

Benjamin Goldfarb – Toronto, CAN; US Army, WWII, PTO, Surgical tech, 54th General Hospital, Philippines

Daniel C. Helix – Concord, CA; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, MGeneral, Purple Heart / Mayor

Denis H. Hiskett – USA; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Robert L. Moore – Queens, NY; USMC, Korea & Vietnam, Gunnery Sgt.

Thomas O’Keefe – Washington D.C.; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT  /  CIA

George Semonik Jr. – Sewickley, PA; US Army, Chief Warrant Officer, 82nd Airborne Division (Ret. 20 y.)

Shelby Treadway – Manchester, KY; US Navy, WWII, Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

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The U.S.O.’s 80th Anniversary

“Until everyone comes home” is the motto of the U.S.O., the nonprofit organization has stuck to that motto, doing its best to bring support and entertainment to American military personnel around the world.

To connect to the organization, please click HERE!

Over the course of the USO’s 80-year history, the organization has seen it all: the beaches of France, the jungles of Vietnam, the deserts of Saudi Arabia and the mountains of AfghanistanBut most importantly, the USO has witnessed several generations of service members, military spouses and military families pass through its doors – and has provided them with crucial support by boosting their morale and keeping them connected to one another throughout their time in the military.

Boxing match w/ Sugar Ray Leonard & Bob Hope, Mickey Rooney as referee.

Starting in 1941 and in the eight decades since, the USO has remained committed to always standing by the military’s side, no matter where their service takes them.

Eleven months before the United States’ official entry into World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was already creating a support system for the nation’s Armed Forces. Bringing together the Salvation Army, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), the National Catholic Community Service, the National Travelers Aid Association and the National Jewish Welfare Board, these six organizations formed the United Service Organizations (USO) on 4 February 1941. The USO was created specifically to provide morale and recreation services to the troops.

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“Until everyone comes home” is the motto of the U.S.O., the nonprofit organization has stuck to that motto, doing its best to bring support and entertainment to American military personnel around the world.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jesse Anderson – Boise, ID; National Guard, Chief Warrant Officer 4, instructor pilot

Dale F. Bruhs – Milford, MD; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Millie Hughes-Fulford –  Mineral Wells, TX; US Army Reserve, Medical Corps / NASA, 1st female astronaut-

Michael Gastrich – Cincinnati, OH; US Navy, Petty Officer 2nd Class, air crew mechanic/flight engineer

Roland Horn – Des Moines, IA; US Army, WWII, Chief Warrant Officer (Ret.)

George Laubhan – Boise, ID; National Guard, Chief Warrant Officer 3, instructor pilot

Charlotte MacDonough – Boston, MA; Civilian, WWII, made B-17 fuel bladders

Ryan Mason – Carthage, NY & TX; US Army, Middle East, Sgt.

Matthew Peltzer – Napa, ID; National Guard, Chief Petty Officer 3, pilot

George P. Shultz (100) – Englewood, NJ; USMC, WWII, PTO / Secretary of Labor, Treasury and State

Julian Vargas – Silver City, NM; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187/11th Airborne Division

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Duct Tape and WWII

 

During the WWII, U.S. troops in the heat of battle had a strangely impractical way of reloading their weapons.

Cartridges used for grenade launchers was one example. Boxed, sealed with wax and taped over to protect them from moisture, soldiers would need to pull on a tab to peel off the paper tape and break the seal. Sure, it worked… except when it didn’t, soldiers were left scrambling to pry the boxes open.

waterproof ammo boxes

Vesta Stoudt had been working at a factory packing and inspecting these cartridges when she got to thinking that there had to be a better way. She also happened to be a mother of two sons serving in the Navy and was particularly perturbed that their lives and countless others were left to such chance.

Concerned for the welfare of sons, she discussed with her supervisors an idea she had to fabricate a tape made from strong, water-resistant cloth. And when nothing came of her efforts, she penned a letter to then-President Franklin Roosevelt detailing her proposal (which included a hand-sketched diagram) and closing by making a plea to his conscience:

“We can’t let them down by giving them a box of cartridges that takes a minute or two to open, enabling the enemy to take lives that might be saved had the box been taped with strong tape that can be opened in a split second. Please, Mr. President, do something about this at once; not tomorrow or soon, but now.”

Oddly enough, Roosevelt passed Stoudt’s recommendation on to military officials, and in two weeks time, she received notice that her suggestion is being considered and not too long after was informed that her proposal had been approved. The letter also commended her idea was of “exceptional merit.”

Before long, Johnson & Johnson, which specialized in medical supplies, was assigned and developed a sturdy cloth tape with a strong adhesive that would come to be known as “duck tape,” which garnered the company an Army/Navy “E” Award, an honor given out as a distinction of excellence in the production of war equipment.

Army/Navy E Pennant

While Johnson & Johnson was officially credited with the invention of duct tape, it’s a concerned mother who will be remembered as the mother of duct tape.

The initial iteration that Johnson & Johnson came up with isn’t much different from the version on the market today. Comprised of a piece of mesh cloth, which gives it tensile strength and rigidity to be torn by hand and waterproof polyethylene (plastic), duct tape is made by feeding the materials into a mixture that forms the rubber-based adhesive.

Unlike glue, which forms a bond once the substance hardens, duct tape is a pressure-sensitive adhesive that relies on the degree in which pressure is applied. The stronger the pressure, the stronger the bond, particularly with surfaces that are clean, smooth and hard.

Duct tape was a huge hit with soldiers due to its strength, versatility and waterproof properties. Used to make all sorts of repairs from boots to furniture, it’s also a popular fixture in the world of motorsports, where crews use strips to patch up dents.

During the war duck tape was distributed to soldier’s to use in sealing ammo cans. Industrious soldiers quickly started using it for all manner of repairs thanks to its strong adhesive and sturdy construction. When millions of soldiers returned home from the war, they brought their respect for duct tape with them, rapidly introducing the now ubiquitous tape into popular culture.

Film crews working on-set have a version called gaffer’s tape, which doesn’t leave a sticky residue. Even NASA Astronauts pack a roll when they go on space missions.

on aircraft

Besides repairs, other creative uses for duct tape include strengthening cellular reception on the Apple iPhone 4 and as a form of medical treatment for removing warts called duct tape occlusion therapy, which research hasn’t been proven to be effective.

“Duct” or “duck” tape?

In this case, either pronunciation would be correct. According to Johnson & Johnson’s website, the original green sticky cloth tape got its name during world war II when soldiers started calling it duck tape for the way liquids seem to roll off like water off a duck’s back.

Not long after the war, the company launched a metallic-silver version called duct tape after executives discovered it can also be used to seal heating ducts. Interestingly enough, however, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory conducted field tests on heating ducts and determined that duct tape was insufficient for that purpose.

By :  Tuan C. Nguyen

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Military Humor – 

DUCT TAPE DOESN’T FIX EVERYTHING!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Steven Bailey – Houston, TX; US Army, Kuwait, 82nd Airborne Division, Bronze Star

Harry Beal – Meyersdale, PA; US Navy, 1st SEAL

Robert Collins – Rockaway, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Thomas Hard Sr. – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, POW

Reed Mattair – Williston, FL; US Army, WWII, PTO

Paul Moore Sr. – Portsmouth, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS West Virginia, SeaBee, Pearl Harbor survivor

Edward Sulewski – So. Milwaukee, WI; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Alexander Suprin – brn: Poland; USMC, WWII, PTO

Thomas Whitaker – Marquette, MI; US Army, WWII, Engineering Corps

Dominic Zangari (100) – Lancaster, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret. 34 y.)

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Military Radio – Armed Forces Network

1943 ‘G.I. Jive’ sheet music by Johnny Mercer

ARMED FORCES NETWORK

Although American Forces Network Radio has officially been on the air for 60 years, listeners began tuning in at the end of World War I.

A Navy lieutenant in France broadcasted information and live entertainment to troops accompanying President Wilson to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.  Radio was a novelty then, and little equipment was given to overseas military broadcasting until the United States started gearing up for World War II.

playing music for the troops

Bored soldiers in Panama and Alaska created makeshift transmitters and aired records, according to an Armed Forces Radio pamphlet. The U.S. military was unaware of the broadcasts until celebrities wrote asking how to send the stations recordings.

During the first days of the U.S. entry into World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s staff members set up military radio stations in the Philippines. Their success paved the way for the Armed Forces Radio Service.

In May 1942, the Army commissioned broadcasting executive Tom Lewis as a major and assigned him to create a viable military radio network.

Its primary goal was to keep morale high, a daunting task when the enemy already was broadcasting to Allied troops, in the personas of the infamous “Axis Sally” and “Tokyo Rose.” Playing popular American music, they tried to demoralize troops with talk about missing home.

On July 4, 1943, the Armed Forces Network went on the air, using the BBC’s London studios. With British and Canadian radio stations, it formed the Allied Expeditionary Forces Program. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower wanted to ensure the stations worked together and all allies were getting the same message.

“G.I. Jive” disc, 1943

To boost morale, AFRS headquarters in Los Angeles produced shows such as “G.I. Jive,” shipping them to stations on special “V-Discs.” By early 1945, about 300 Armed Forces Radio Stations worldwide were broadcasting. (There are some V-discs available on e-bay)

Then came peacetime.

By 1949, just 60 stations were operating. But broadcasters who remained in Europe with the occupying forces took on a new role. Music and information were broadcast from Bremen to Berlin — giving many Europeans their first exposure to American culture and music.

AFN brought jazz, blues, rock ’n’ roll and country and western to audiences starved for music. The shows were so popular that when the leftist Greens Party urged Germany to quit NATO in the 1980s and called for U.S. troops to leave, it made one exception.

“The U.S. military should go home, but leave AFN behind,” a Greens leader demanded.

When the Korean War started in 1950, AFRS leased several portable trailers and followed the troops as “Radio Vagabond.” The American Forces Korea Network was established in Seoul later that year.

While the organization changed its name to the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service in 1954, the focus remained on radio.

The American Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN) was established in 1962, during the Vietnam War, mostly for numerous military advisers there. It served as the backdrop for the 1988 movie, “Good Morning, Vietnam!”

But broadcasting to the troops as the war heated up was no day on a Hollywood set.

During the Tet Offensive, AFVN studios in Hue City were attacked. The staff fought off the Viet Cong for five days before the station manager and several others were captured. They spent five years in a North Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp.

Recently, Armed Forces Radio quickly mobilized for operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

A mobile broadcasting van deployed to Saudi Arabia, where the American Forces Desert Network was established in 1991 and broadcast for the first time from Kuwait shortly after the Iraqi occupation ended. Since then, it has become a fixture throughout the region.

Tech. Sgt. Mark Hatfield, 36, was “out in the middle of nowhere … at a secret base detached from civilization” as a structural maintainer on F-15s, with the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing (Provisional) during Desert Storm.

About a month after he arrived, AFDN went into operation.

“I remember when they came on line … I had my little transistor radio, and sure enough, there it was,” he said.

Someone also bought a radio for the hangar. “We cranked it because news was coming out left and right about the war,” Hatfield added.

“It was good because that was our only source of real information. You get out in the middle of nowhere, you don’t really hear it from the U.S side of things … uncensored, coming in from the U.S.”

“Good Morning, Vietnam!”

Today, American Forces Radio and Television Service operates about 300 radio and television outlets, serving an audience of 1.3 million listeners and viewers on every continent and U.S. Navy ship at sea.

“As long as there’s military there, we’re going to be there.”

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Military Humor –

Marines from Los Angeles

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Bermudez – Dallas, TX; US Army, Kuwait, SSgt.

Edward R. Burka – Washington D.C.; US Army Medical Corps (airborne), BGeneral

Dorothy (Schmidt) Cole (107) – OH; USMC Women’s 1st Battalion, WWII

Hyman Coran – Sharon, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, flight instructor

Michael Domico – Westville, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Sgt., radio/gunner

Veronica Federici – Fulton, NY; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Michael Morris – Cass Lake, MN; US Air Force, TSgt., 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (Europe)

Vincent Pale – Philadelphia, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, POW

Claude Spicer – McComas, WV; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret. 30 y.)

Robert Wendler – Newport, RI; US Navy, WWII, Navy band

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A Christmas Tradition from the Pacific

Soldier in Japan delivers presents as ‘Father Christmas’

After 71 years, a yearly tradition continued with the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and 25th Infantry Division all joining forces on December 4 at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, to wrap presents to ship to the Holy Family Home in Japan.

The 25th Infantry Division shared photos of soldiers taking part in the annual tradition, tweeting, “It’s a long standing tradition, and it just goes to show that it doesn’t matter what nation you’re from, in the bigger picture, people help people.”

4 Dec. 2020, presents for orphans, (pic by: SSgt. Thomas Calvert

On Christmas Day in 1949, the 27th Infantry Regiment “Wolfhounds” were overwhelmed by the sight of tiny, barefoot children living in the decaying Holy Family orphanage in Osaka, Japan. The soldiers accompanied a Red Cross representative to the crumbling home that was brimming with underfed children in ragged clothes.

Sgt. Hugh Francis Xavior O’Reilly was still raw from the battlefield in those cold winter months following the end of World War II, but the site of those Japanese orphans provided the soldier with a new, gentler perspective.

The following payday, O’Reilly led the Wolfhounds in collecting donations for the struggling orphanage and donated what they could on New Year’s morning.

But for the Wolfhounds, that just wasn’t enough.

Soldiers and their families wrapping presents

Over the next year, the 27th continued to collect funds for the orphaned Japanese children, and by the time Christmas 1950

Soldiers writing out cards to send to Japan

rolled around, the Wolfhounds dragged a sleigh filled with supplies and toys, along with “Father Christmas.”

Now 71 years later, the 27th is still at it.

While the coronavirus pandemic did prevent the soldiers from hand-delivering the gifts to the children at the orphanage, over 600 gifts were wrapped and shipped the roughly 4,000 miles from the soldiers’ base in Hawaii to the Holy Family home in Osaka.

MARINES ALSO DELIVER AN EARLY CHRISTMAS TO AN ORPHANAGE IN SOUTH KOREA!

A couple of children happily receive toys at Jacob’s House orphanage, Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Dec. 22, 2013. Over 300 toys were donated by U.S. military personnel stationed in South Korea.
ARMANDO R. LIMON/STARS AND STRIPES

Pacific Paratrooper has also had their own tradition during Christmas…

TO ALL THOSE THAT BELIEVE IN FREEDOM AND PEACE: MERRY CHRISTMAS!!  FROM: PACIFIC PARATROOPER!!

PLEASE… REMEMBER THOSE THAT FOUGHT FOR US IN THE PAST…

[To see the pictures that accompany the past and present – CLICK HERE!]

AND THOSE WHO CONTINUE TO PROTECT US TODAY!!!

AND FOR THOSE SPECIAL PEOPLE WHO WAIT PATIENTLY AT HOME…

 

TO ALL THOSE WHO DO NOT CELEBRATE THIS HOLIDAY … I WISH YOU THE WARMTH AND PEACEFUL CONTENTMENT THAT ARE REPRESENTED BY THIS SEASON !!!

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Military Christmas Humor –

Easton, MD–Dec. 22, 2011–This is a Christmas display at the home of Tom and Alice Blair, which includes an F 104 jet, Santa and his sleigh, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, etc. staff photo/Barbara Haddock Taylor} [Sun Photographer] #9306

 

Aboard the USS Nimitz

 

Yank mag. 24 Dec. 1943

 

 

 

Farewell Salutes – 

Francis Borgstrom – Forsythe, MT; USMC, WWII, PTO

Mamie (Weber) Cook – Deerfield, MO; Civilian, WWII, B-29 riveter

Robert Dutton – Niagara Falls, NY; US Army, WWII

 

Raymond Erickson – Orton Flat, SD; US Navy,   WWII, PBY communications crewman

Alfred T. Farrar (100) – Lynchburg, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII / FAA engineer

Wesley Grace – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, mine clearing

Paul T. Ichiuji – Pacific Grove, CA; US Army, WWII, MISer (Intelligence)

James Mackey – Windsor, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, aircraft mechanic

Alfred Shehab – Cape May, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO, 102nd Calvary, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Lt. Col. (Ret. 21 y.) / NASA

Lloyd Zett – Loretta, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ATO, aircraft mechanic (Nome)

Veterans Day 2020 Remembrance and Gratitude

My post for this Veterans Day is dedicated to Sgt. Walter Morgan Bryant Jr., USMC; R.I.P my dear friend!

… there is an old Marine poem… it says: ‘When I get to heaven, To St. Peter I will tell, Another Marine reporting sir, I’ve served my time in hell.”         ______ Eugene Sledge, USMC veteran of Peleliu & Okinawa

For the U.S. Marine Birthday, 10 November – CLICK HERE!!

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze
A young Marine saluted it, and then
He stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He’d stand out in any crowd.

I thought, how many men like him
Had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?

How many Pilots’ planes shot down?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No, Freedom is not free.

I heard the sound of taps one night,
When everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.

I wondered just how many times
That taps had meant “Amen”
When a flag had draped a coffin
of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
at the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, Freedom isn’t free!!

by: Kelly Strong, posted at vietvet.org

For Remembrance of the Pacific War, from: “The Voice of the Angels” newspaper of the 11th Airborne Association

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For All Those In Free Countries Celebrating Remembrance 0r Poppy Day

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For The Military Today – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Avrutik – Yonkers, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, radioman

Grover “Spook” Browning – Newdale, ID; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Anthony Colavito – West Calwell, NJ; US Army, WWII, PTO, demolition

James Dunn – Lubbock, TX; US Navy, WWII, Purser, USS Franklin

Morris Horton – Sidney, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. F/187/11th Airborne Division

Adrian Miller – Winamac, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 101st Airborne Division

Albert Sakey – Boston, MA; US Navy, WWII, ATO & PTO, PT-boat radioman

Ottis Stout (101) – TX & CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-17 tail gunner

James Thomas – Dry Ridge, KY; US Army, 188/11th Airborne Division

Paul W. Wilkins – USA; US Army, Korea, Cpl., B Co./1/21/24th Infantry Division, KIA (Choch’iwan, SK)

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I have a list of parades and celebrations, if anyone is interested, tell me where you’ll be 11 November 2020 and I will see if I can locate one near you!!

 

No Veteran Should Be Without a Place to Call Home

Free Help for Homeless Veterans Dial 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838) for 24/7 access to VA services for homeless and at-risk Veterans

Homeless Veteran Chat Confidential, 24/7 online support for homeless Veterans and friends

https://www.va.gov/homeless for more information

Are You a Veteran in Crisis or Concerned About One? 

Did you know that VA offers same day services in Primary Care and Mental Health at 172 VA Medical Centers across the country? Make the Connection Resource Locator

Contact the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 and press 1, Chat, or Text 838255.)

Don’t know what number to call?

1-800-MyVA411 (800-698-2411) is never the wrong number

Have a concern, compliment, or recommendation for VA?

Call the White House VA Hotline at 1-855-948-2311

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Halloween 2020

Halloween this year has many comparisons to that which went on during WWII, but there were no episodes of mass destruction in the cities as I have seen in Philadelphia.

WWII put quite the damper on any activity as chaotic as Halloween was back in those days, people weren’t making heroes out of criminals … according to history, war shortages made everyone edgy, and towns clamped down on Halloween pranking with both curfews and notices sent home from principals and police. There was a national plea for conservation: any piece of property damaged during Halloween pranking was a direct affront to the war effort.

In 1942 the Chicago City Council voted to abolish Halloween and institute instead “Conservation Day” on October 31st. (This wasn’t the only attempt to reshape Halloween: President Truman tried to declare it “Youth Honor Day” in 1950 but the House of Representatives, sidetracked by the Korean War, neglected to act on the motion. In 1941 the last week of October was declared “National Donut Week,” and then years later, “National Popcorn Week.”)

A day for dressing up.

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when it was believed the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead become blurred. It has since evolved into a holiday when spooky legends, myths and folklore take center stage—each with their own dark history.

The first Halloween during WWII was in 1942, when the nation was in full-tilt war production mode and millions of men were in uniform.  Children and teenagers were suddenly set free from adult supervision, as mothers and fathers spent more time working or away from home altogether.  There were widespread fears of juvenile delinquency and criminal behavior.  Fear was a dominant emotion during the war years and the vandalism one might expect on Halloween now seemed to portend greater crimes.  Many communities did, in fact, cancel Halloween that year.

Some folks saw the opportunity to co-opt, rather than ban, the holiday by hosting costume  parties, dances, etc. to lure the would-be delinquents off the streets and into safer environments. (Still not much candy available though, due to the rationing of sugar.)  It worked.  Halloween vandalism feel off in 1942 and after the war, neighborhoods began hosting a kind of roving festival for kids – trick-or-treating.

For templates to create your own military pumpkins ___ CLICK HERE!!

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Military HALLOWEEN Humor ~

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Blaney – Milwaukee, WI; US National Guard, Major General (Ret.)

Eric Bunger – Sioux Falls, SD; US Army, Afghanistan & Iraq, Sgt., 82nd Airborne Division

Christopher Crossett – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Silver Star, Purple Heart

Alpha Farrow – Lindsay, OK; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pvt., 10th Mt. Division / Vietnam & Korea, Chaplain, Col. (Ret.)

Morgan Garrett – Weddington, NC; US Coast Guard, Ensign

William Hinchey – Middletown, RI; USMC, WWII, CBI

Duane T. Kyser – Muskogee, OK; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)Rhiannon Ross – Waxom, MI; US Navy, Lt.

David Mansfield (100) – Thorold, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Carlisle Trost – Valmeyer, IL; US Navy, Naval Academy grad ’53, 23rd Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral (Ret. 37 y.)

Walter S. Wojtczak (105) – Newbury, NH; US Army, WWII, Major, Corps of Engineers

Home Front – Hard to keep the good times rollin’

 

[ This post was originally a guest post I wrote for Judy Guion @ Greatest Generation Lessons.  Being as times are rough these days, I thought a bit of comparison with what our parents and grandparents went through was in order. ]

Columnist Marquis Childs said after Pearl Harbor: “Nothing will ever be the same.”  Thirty-five years later he added: “It never has and never will be.”

We need to remember that in 1941 as much as 40% of U.S. families lived below the poverty level, approximately 8 million worked for less than minimum wage and another 8 million were unemployed.  The median income was about $2,000 per year.  The government, in virtually fighting two separate wars, entered into civilian lives by raising taxes, rationing, controlling prices and allotting jobs.

Once the war began, truck convoys became commonplace and train depots burst into arenas of activity.  The movement was not entirely servicemen as women began to migrate into towns and communities near the military bases and jobs when they entered the workforce.  Judy Guion’s Aunt Jean did just that by going to Florida to be near her husband Dick.  Minorities headed for higher paying positions in defense plants and shipyards.

The greatest annoyance to civilians was the fact that new automobiles were no longer being produced.  The public’s status symbol and route to financial and social activities had been curtailed and this caused boot-leg markets to spring up selling tires and taking their chances with the law.  The La Salle Motor Company in Indiana was the first firm to be cited by the government.  The Office of Price Administration would regulate everything from soup and shoes to nuts and bolts and was responsible for all domestic rationing.  J. Edgar Hoover issued warnings about car thefts; alerting owners to be wary of where they parked their cars, especially during evening hours.  In Southwest Harbor, Maine, reports of gasoline siphoning were a constant problem.

The use of taxicabs grew throughout the world in the early part of the 20th century.  In the 1940’s, the taximeter was developed and the new two-way radio was a great improvement over the old callboxes.  DeSotos, Packards and the GM “General” were the common vehicles utilized for this purpose.

Streetcars were heavily used in the 1930’s, but companies began to fail as gasoline buses (”trackless trolleys”) took their place.  The most prominent name was the Greyhound.  In 1936, they introduced their “Super Coach” for family travel and it was so well received that within four years, they opened a chain of restaurants called “Post House.”  When war began, they became a major carrier of the troops heading to the east and west coasts.  Since nearly 40% of their workforce was eventually drafted, women were offered training as bus drivers.  Local buses where often late and overcrowded, having standing room only.  A person was often unable to keep a reliable daily schedule due to the situation.

Delta Airlines’ ad, 1940’s

Air travel was certainly difficult with a war in progress and the airlines did not have the systems they have now.  Case in point:  the Hoover Airport (where the Pentagon building is now), had a major highway running smack through it.  When a plane took off or landed, the red traffic light was switched on to halt car and truck movement.

Train transport

Trains were the dominate mode of transportation since the transcontinental was completed in 1869 and up until just before the war era when cars and trucks became predominate.  The massive movement around the country pressed heavily on the antiquated railroad network.  Most of the system had been built in the decades following the Civil War.  The Office of Defense Transportation urged people to only travel on “slack days” and take one-day vacations.  The Director stated, “Needless passenger movement is getting to the point where it is embarrassing the war effort.”  One rail line that came out of Saint Louis, called the “Jeffersonian,” had only reserved seating, but people continued to line up in the aisles.

1944 Arnold Schwinn ad, Chicago, IL

In congested areas, such as N.Y.C., vendors began to spring up to rent out bicycles.  In fact, the summer of 1942, when the gas pumps went dry, drivers followed a gas truck to its delivery point, (as many as 350 would line up) so the bicycle business erupted.  When walking became more important, leather for shoes became scarce and shoe rationing went into effect February 1943.  In the U.S., three pairs per year was the quota and in England it was only one.  By 1944, the U.S. civilian ration was dropped to two pair.

Greyhound 1940’s ad

The old saying, “Let the good times roll” proved difficult and often the stories seem to be from another world rather than another decade.  Do any of our readers have stories they remember or were told?  How would any of you deal with this lifestyle?

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Home Front Humor –

Chattanooga Times, the overburdened railroads

“When you boys finish with your Civil Air Patrolling stuff, I’ll have some iced tea ready for you.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul A. Avolese – USA; US Air Force, Vietnam, Major, radar/navigator, 4133 Bombardment Wing, KIA (South China Sea)

Neil Bohner – Des Moines, IA; US Army, WWII & Korea

Bernard Brown – Rutland, VT; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Kevin Dobson – NYC, NY; US Army, Military Police  /  Actor

Fred Ferry – Clarksville, TN; US Army, Co. A/544 Artillery/11th Airborne Division, (Ret. 23 y.)

Rosanna H. Gravely (102) – Camden, NJ & CO; US Navy WAVES, WWII, PTO, Yeoman 1st Class

Joseph W. Hoffman – USA; US Navy, WWII, Navy musician 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

John P. Langan – Columbus, NE; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., Co. C/1/6/2nd Marine Division, KIA (Tarawa)

Neal ‘Lil Pa’ Stevenson – Houma, LA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Patricia Warner – Lincoln, MA; OSS, WWII, undercover agent

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Poem – “The Conversion”

From the C.B.I. Theater of operation Roundup newsletter came this poem of wisdom.  Just something to keep in mind – no matter what theater of operations OR which war the veteran emerges from….

THE CONVERSION

When bugles sound their final notes
And bombs explode no more
And we return to what we did
Before we went to war
The sudden shift of status
On the ladder of success
Will make some worthy gentlemen
Feel like an awful mess.

Just think of some poor captain
Minus all his silver bars
Standing up behind some counter
Selling peanuts and cigars
And think of all the majors
When their oak leaf’s far behind
And the uniforms they’re wearing
is the Western Union kind.

 

Shed a tear for some poor colonel
if he doesn’t feel himself
Jerking sodas isn’t easy
When the eagle’s on the shelf
‘Tis a bitter pill to swallow
‘Tis a matter for despair
Being messengers and clerks again
A mighty cross to bear.

So be kind to working people
That you meet where ‘er you go
For the guy who’s washing dishes
May have been your old CO.

Published 6 October 1944

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Daniel Barnett – Goodlettsville, TN; US Army, Korea, RHQ/187th RCT

“You Are Not Forgotten”

George W. Biggs – Nogales, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII. Tuskegee airman / Korea & Vietnam, B-47 & B-52 pilot / US Customs Service

Harold L. Dick – Tipton, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Gunner’s mate 2nd Class, USS Colorado, KIA (Tinian)

Lloyd Gruse – Baltimore, MD; US Navy, WWII  /  US Army, Korea & Vietnam

Virdean (Davis) Lucas – Newton, KS; Civilian, USO, WWII

Ramon Maldonado (103) – Carriere, MS; US Army, WWII

Isaac Parker (17) – AK; US Navy, WWII, Mess Attendant, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Steve Stibbens – Dallas, TX; USMC, Vietnam, Gunnery Sgt. (Ret. 20 y.), Bronze Star, Stars & Stripes journalist

Andrew Vinchesi – Malden, MA; US Navy, WWII, pilot

Lloyd Wade – Westminster, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

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USS West Virginia – Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay

USS West Virginia, pre-WWII

Her wounds had been grievous that morning in 1941, when Japanese torpedo bombers  swept low over the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor and unleashed their deadly cargoes at the easy targets moored along Battleship Row.  The surface might of the U.S. Pacific Fleet was virtually helpless against the onslaught, and those ships moored outboard received the brunt of the devastating attack.

Oklahoma capsized and West Virginia took 7 torpedoes into her port side, gouging huge holes in her hull.  Two modified artillery shells, configured as

USS West Virginia (BB-48)

aerial bombs, struck aft.  The ship’s captain, Mervyn Bennion, was cut down by a steel fragment but remained in command, perishing with courage and later receiving a posthumous Medal of Honor.  Dorie Miller, a cook, manned a machine-gun and received the Navy Cross for heroism.

Alert counterflooding kept West Virginia from capsizing and the heavily damaged battleship settled to the bottom of Pearl Harbor upright and on an even keel.  A total of 106 West Virginia sailors were killed that fateful morning.

USS West Virgina @ Pearl Harbor. USCG boat in front saving sailors

At first glance, it appeared that the battleship might be a total loss.  However, salvage and recovery efforts were quickly begun.  West Virginia was refloated and pumped dry.  The bodies of sailors entombed on the ship for days were recovered.  The torpedo holes were patched, and the Colorado- class ship, first launched in November 1921, sailed for Puget Sound Navy Yard, in Bremerton, WA, for a substantial rebuild.

December 7th memories.

After 2 years of modernization,  USS West Virginia was ready for combat duty.  In October, she joined the shore bombardment group off of Leyte, P.I.  Here, her main 16-inch guns barked at the Japanese.  She gained another measure of revenge in the night Battle of Surigao Strait.  Along with the Mississippi, and other Pearl Harbor veterans Tennessee, Maryland, California and Pennsylvania they pounded an enemy surface squadron.

USS West Virginia, sinking at Pearl Harbor

West Virginia, affectionately known to her crew as, “Big Weevie”, later provided fire support for the amphibious landings at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, remaining to lend heavy artillery as the operations progressed.  She was struck by a Kamikaze plane off Okinawa that killed 4 sailors, but she remained on station until her mission was completed.

When the news of the Japanese surrender reached her crew, the USS West Virginia was ordered to sail for Tokyo Bay.  She arrived on 31 August, and her contingent of Marines went shore.

West Virginia was the largest ship of the U.S. Navy present at both Pearl Harbor and the  2 September surrender ceremonies.  The only other U.S. warship that were at both events was the light cruiser USS Detroit.

USS West Virginia, 1944

After lending 5 musicians from her band to play during the surrender proceedings, she only had one more task to complete: transporting 25,554 fighting men from Pearl Harbor to San Diego, CA, during Operation Magic Carpet, the mammoth undertaking to bring American personnel home from the Pacific.

West Virginia in Hawaii preparing for home, Oct. 1945

She was decommissioned in 1947, and put in the Pacific Reserve Fleet until 1959.  After a storied career spanning 4 decades, she was towed to New York harbor to be broken up for scrap.

The West Virginia’s bell sits in the state museum at Charleston, her wheel and binnacle are at the Hampton Roads Museum, her mast at West Virginia University and an antiaircraft gun in a park at Parkersburg.

WWII History Network.

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Military Humor – Navy Style – 

THE VIEW IS PRETTIEST FROM THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN.

WHY C.O.’S DON’T GET MUCH SLEEP!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frank Anthon – Cincinnati, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc, Co. A/1/6/2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, KIA (Tarawa)

Warren G.H. DeVault – TN; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pvt., Co. F/2/12/4th Infantry Division, KIA (Hürtgen, GER

HONOR

Roland Fafard – Worchester, MA; US Navy, WWII, SeaBee

Bernie Lieder – Greenwood Township, MN; US Army, WWII, ETO  /  MN Representative

Douglas ‘Knute’ Nelson – Haynesville, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Marvin Pretzer – Bay City, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Donald Rusk – Clarks Hill, IN; US Army, Korea, Sgt.

Norma Schrader – Bridgeport, CT; US Army WAC, WWII

Donald Stouli – Robbinsdal, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 pilot, 303 Bomb Group  /  US Air Force, Korea

Julian C. Wills (100) – Flingsville, KY; US Army, WWII, MSgt.

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