Category Archives: Letters home

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

Soldiers’ Stories, Vol. II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Myra Miller’s blog, click HERE!

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Military Humor –

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

“What’s your job, steady K.P.?”

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letter Home, From Tokyo – conclusion

Here is the conclusion of the letter Joe Teri wrote home as he settled in during the Occupation of Japan.  Please do not be offended by any slang that was used back in the day.  The pictures are examples, none accompanied the letter.

Our airforce has done perfect precision bombing, they only wrecked just what they wanted to, the train system is perfect, the trolley line is in good condition, but the War plants are a mass of rubbish.  The Japs have had more equipt than our eyes can believe, even our General here said, we under estimated the Japs at the time of our arrival here, by 60 percent and thats an awful lot, we had planned during the War to make an invasion here, if we had to we would have never got here it would have been suicide for every man and ship.  The land out here is all Mts and islands and in those Mts the Japs have hundreds and hundreds of dual 16 inch guns, those guns are about the most powerful guns any one can have one alone is as big as the biggest one on our ships, so you can Just imagine what 2 of them together can do, they have a channel here about 50 miles long all surrounded with islands, and the ships have to travel about 2 knots an hour in order to get by the islands.  The Japs have caves, miles long with enough equiptment to have a war for at least 10 years they even have complete factories never touched yet in the caves, it must have taken 50 years to get all this accomplished we are destroying the Jap war equipt every day.  I hear a lot of exploding all day long every day.  General Eichenberger says it will take years to destroy all the Jap war equipt and he is right as no matter where you look theres thousands of tons of equipt.  My Colenel says we haven’t discovered half of the things the Japs have yet, they have everything hidden in caves, and perfectly concealed, we have to go hunting for all there things each day. so it will take months and months to find them as the Jap civilians don’t even know where all there loaded packed caves are, every day a bunch of new ones turn up.  Can you imagine these Japs having all that.  What I have been writing is no rumor, it is the actual truth, if it wasnt for the Atomic bomb, this war would have lasted for years to come, as the U.S. has underestimated the Japs by a very long margin, that Atomic bomb is a miracle sent down from heaven.  Well enough of this war talk as the war is over now.  Tokyo is about 400 miles from here, the trains run to there, I sure hope I can get to see that city before I come home, I have been looking for souveniers, but as yet, havent found anything, the japs havent any thing at all except the War equipt and thats in the U.S. Army hands now, they don’t even have enough clothes to wear, they dress in rags, the weather here is pretty cold just now, they have a big snow fall each winter so I guess Ill see a very very lonesome White Christmas.

This club I am working and living in is a very, very beautiful Jap home, a Jap General used to live here, it is in perfect condition and a pretty new home, it has 18 rooms in it with sliding panel windows and doors, over 100 of them the whole house can be opened on all sides, it has beautiful furniture in it made very low, as the the Japs sit on the straw mats on the floor, also take their shoes off when entering any home, their is a jap phone here, still working, servants quarters and a push button bell system, that shows the no of the room at the back hallway for every room here, just like we have in our hospitals, electric system, with electric heat, all marble fire place, Gas for cooling, 2 beautiful lavortories with running water, the Japs dont use stools, they squat, a real big wash room, laundry room, an extra serving kitchen next to the dining room, thats where I built my nice little service bar, only done a little fixing up as the room is almost perfect for a service bar, we have real good U.S. radio here, fire extingishers and beautiful carvings all the sliding doors in the house are made of wood lining with paper frames they sure are delicate, have of them are ripped already, a beautiful terrace, and a real beautiful entrance with a drive way to the entrance, hard wood beautiful floors, 2 real nice hall ways, with all the rooms in between them, the lawn is beautiful it has build in little hills with real old flat big stones to sit on around them, grass, and a lot of real ancient beautiful trees even a lamp post made out of a tree in the lawn, it has wooden shutters all around the house, the house is mostly made out of wood and sand cement, it could burn up in 20 minutes, they have a real nice hot steam bath room, but no running hot water, it is all to beautiful to believe and I am living here, it is my home, while out here, isnt that swell.

Well I have to close the bar now as it is 10:30 PM, so will close this letter now, I hope you have enjoyed reading this letter, I have tried to it interesting, I could write for days, but havent the time, Im praying all 3 of you are in the best of health.  I am in good health and getting along fairly well.  All my Love and best Regards to all of you, Write soon.  Kiss Don for me.

Your Brother in Law                         G.I. Joe Teri

Im sending you 5 yen, 1 yen and 50 sen.  One yen is 16-⅓ cents 100 sens make 1 yen – 15 yen make dollar

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  Military Humor –   Reader’s Digest style – 

“No Ferguson, the military does Not have Casual Fridays!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quarantine Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Bloom – Boston, MA; US Army, WWII, Africa, Meteorologist

Christopher Curry – Terra haute, IN; US Army, Iraq, Sgt., 3/21/1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team/25th Division, KIA

Richard Hunt – Pittsburgh, PA; American Field Service, WWII, India

Robert D. Jenks – Sutherland, IA; USMC, WWII, PTO, D Co./6th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

Frederick Kroesen – Phillipsburg, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO; Korea & Vietnam, General (Ret. 40 y.) / Army VChief of Staff

J. Howard Lucas – Dogwood, AL; US Navy, WWII

Matthew Morgan – East Islip, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Fiske

Austin Newman – Oneida, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Don Shula – Grand River, OH; Ohio National Guard, Korea / NFL Coach

Florence Wilhelmsen – Brooklyn, NY; Civilian, USO entertainer, WWII

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Letter Home From Tokyo – part one

We have Mrs P. to thank for this letter.  It came from her neighbor, Len G. whose uncle Joe reached Japan and wanted the family to know what it was like for him.  This letter is being re-typed exactly as it originally reads.

 

Wednesday Evening

Nov. 14, 1945 – 9PM

Kure, Japan

My Dear Carters & Son:

Received your most enjoyable letter some time ago on Oct 18, I was so very busy ever since I landed here in Japan, that I really hadn’t much time to write, I still owe about 4 letters out and hope I can get them written in the very near future, believe me.  I am on duty now, while writing this letter to you, business is very slow now, so I have a good chance in getting this letter written.  I am so sorry and ask your apoligy for not writing sooner, I’ll try to answer your next letter as soon as possible.  I’m certain I’ll have more time then.  I will write to Mother & Dad, next first chance I get.  I wrote a letter to Elaine today, shall mail both of these in the morning.  I miss her and baby so very much.  I love both of them more than anything in the world.  I miss all of you terribly.  I’m praying hard for my home coming day to come, as yet, I don’t know when I’ll ever be home as nothing has been said about discharging fathers yet.  A lot of high pointers are leaving every day, the 60 pointers will start leaving next week, I only have 21 points, so I’ll never get home by the point system, my only hope is discharging fathers.  I may be home in March or April, I hope it will be much sooner.

 

I guess Elaine has been telling you most of the news about me, so you should know, just about what I have been doing.  I sure have done a lot of traveling in a short time, since I left the States I have been at the Marshalls Islands, Carolinas Islands, Leyte, Mindonao and now here in Kure, Japan.  I also have been at Okinawa, passed by Iwo Jima, that sure has been a lot of traveling.  Don’t you think so. Japan surrendered when I was near the Carolinas, coming from the States, I was on the ocean 50 days out of 60.  I’m sure tired of ships, after I get home, I don’t care if I ever see another ship, living on those ships was terrible, we lived just like rats and were packed like sardines.  I hope my trip back home won’t be that bad  The food has been terrible all the way here, until I got the luckiest break I ever got before in this rotten army, about 3 weeks ago, my C O called me in his office and told me, he looked up my records and seen I was a bartender and manager in civilian life, so the F.A. Division is opening an officers club and be the bartender.  there are 167 officers in this club, so I told him, I will gladly take that Job, and I’ll do my utmost best, so here I am at the officers club now,  I live just like a civilian now, I live here at the club and eat at the officers mess, I eat like a king now, all I want and plenty of real fresh food, steaks, chops, eggs, butter, fresh veg. and lots of other real good food, before I came here, I have been eating C and K rations ever since I have been on land since I have left the states.  I also made 2 ratings since I came to Japan, about a month ago I made Pfc and last week I made T-5 – thats the same rating as a corpal, so I am now a corporal, it means about $18.00 a month more, not that I care for anything in this lousy army, I still want to be a plain old civilian, I was given this T-5 rating because I know the bar trade and am in charge of the Bar here at the club, another fellow also lives here with me, he is the stewart, but knows nothing about the business.  As long as I have to stay out here, I am very much satisfied with this bartender job I have.  I also have to take care of the club in the daytime and see that the 4 Japs we have working here, do a good job in cleaning up and other things we need done, I don’t have any more inspections, formations, waiting on line to eat, live in a real cold rotton barrack, Gaurd Duty and any one to order me around, on different dirty details, I am now my own boss, dress in my uniform every day and do just about anything I please, except leave the club, I live just like a civilian, and am respected by the officers and there are quite a few Colenels and high officers here, even the General gets drunk here, they all say I’m doing a swell job and always thank me, I even make tips here not much, but about $5.00 a week, that isn’t so bad considering Im in the army.

Hokkaido on R&R skiing

Notice this paper I am writing on it is Japanese Naval business paper, the writing on it says Super fine Naval paper that’s what my Jap worker told me.  The Japs are behaving very nicely and do just as we tell them to.  The women do all the work and the men do nothing, these women out here do twice as much work than the average man in the states, its unbelievable the way they work, they are about 100 yrs backward, and do everything the hard way, they even carry their babies over their backs, the way I carry my pack coming over here.  They still have a lot of ancient customs and very hard to understand, they also are plenty sneaky and smart.  This city Kure, is a, or rather was a very  big industrial War plant city, it has, bus lines, trolleys, trains, electricity, Gas, steam heat, and a lot of modern things in it, the population  one time was over 300 thousand, I dont know what it is now, Hiroshima is only 15 miles from here, I visited the outskirts of it, and all I can see is dirt and more dirt, not even a house or anything for miles & miles, thats where the Atomic bomb was dropped, boy I still cant believe my eyes that one bomb can do that much damage.  Hiroshima also was a big Industrial city with a population of over 300 thousand now it looks like the wide open spaces in Texas, no one would not believe it, if he were told that Hiroshima once had big factories and homes in it, and could see nothing but dirt there now.  Kure has also been terribly bombed, but the magnificent part of it is that all the War plants, Airplane base, Submarine base and war tings were bombed to rubbish and the homes weren’t even touched.

To be continued …..

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Military Humor –

“Of course I speak your language — I can say Both takusan and sukoshi!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quarantine Humor – 

(Frankly, I’ll miss the quarantine humor when this pandemic is all over, but for ALL our sake, I hope we whip this disease soon!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Mary (Dyer) Alligood – Winter Garden, FL; US Navy WAVES, WWII

James Beggs – Bethesda, MD; US Navy, aeronautics / NASA, Administrator

William Bolinger – LaFollette, TN; US Army, WWII, PTO, TSgt., Bronze Star

John Dewey – Galva, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 10th Mountain Division

Hugh Fricks – Seattle, WA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Lt., 6th Marines, Navy Cross, KIA (Tarawa)

Philip Kahn (100) – NYC, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-29 pilot

Howard Miller – San Mateo, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Co A/1/6th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

Carlos Santos Sr. (101) – Ludlow, MA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Paul Stonehart – London, ENG; RAF, WWII, radar

Robert Wilson – Villa Rica, GA; US Army, WWII & Korea, Captain

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Smitty in December 1945 w/ the Sword Story

Christmas card

This was the Christmas card sent from Japan to Broad Channel, New York in December 1945. Anna Smith had been waiting to hear this news from her son Everett (Smitty) for over three years. On the back, it reads:

“Dear Mom:
This is the best Xmas card I’ve sent to you since getting in the army. I figured this would be what you have always been waiting to see, here it goes.

“I’m finally on my way, so don’t send any more mail.
Love, Everett
“P.S. I’ll keep you posted on my various stops.”

Smitty in Japan, at far right

Even though Smitty had earned his points to go home, he was still an NCO on General Swing’s staff and was required to finish out his duties as such. After going through combat in the South Pacific, it would be in peaceful occupational Japan where Smitty’s temper would get the better of him.

Non-nonchalantly going about his business at the headquarters of Camp Schimmelpfennig, Smitty just happened to glance through the glass partition that sealed off Gen. Swing’s office. Inside was an officer holding and admiring the Japanese sword that his commander intended to keep and bring home as a souvenir. Smitty didn’t think much of it at the time; he was busy and many people commented on the weapon. so he continued down the hallway. A short while later, the entire office could hear the general demanding to know what had become of his sword. It was gone.

Gen. Swing accepts Japanese sword at Atsugi Airfield

Major General Joseph Swing

My father didn’t think twice, this was his general. He went into the room and told Swing what he had witnessed. Without a second thought, the two men went to the other man’s office, but neither the man or sword was there. The officer in question showed a few moments later. When the general explained why they were waiting for him, the officer became indignant and professed his innocence (just a tad too much). My father said the air of tension in the room became thick enough to use a

Postcards received from a Cavite, P.I. woman

machete on. This was when Smitty’s temper went out of control and with one right cross – sent the officer through his own glass partition.

Of course, this action made it necessary to bust Smitty back down to private, but he didn’t care about that. He was still furious that the sword was never returned. It all could have gone worse if the general had not been there or if he did not believe Smitty’s word. Smitty said it was worth being busted just to wipe the smirky grin off the officer’s face. The officer, I believe, was a replacement and had not seen much (if any) combat, just a blow-heart. Smitty later offered his two Japanese swords to General Swing, but he refused. My father didn’t believe the general would have taken the Emperor’s own sword as a replacement. I can clearly see my father’s face contort when he thought of the thief and he would say, “That know-nothing mattress salesman from Texas!” I’m sure it was for the best that the two men never met again stateside as civilians.

Unfortunately, a similar incident occurred to my father. As he happily began packing to go home, Smitty noticed that an expensive set of carved ivory chop sticks he had purchased somehow had disappeared. They also were never recovered. (I had often wondered if the two incidents had been related, but I suppose we’ll never know.)

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Daniel Aiello – NYC, NY; US Army / Actor

Vernon Bartley – brn: Meerut, India/ENG; Punjab Army, WWII, CBI

John Cameron – Waipukurau, NZ; RNZ Navy, WWII, minesweeper

Frank Crane – Toledo, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Joseph Haratani – Florin, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd RCT

Clarence Katwyk – Salt Lake City, UT; US Merchant Marines / US Army, WWII, PTO

Dominic Moschetti – Victor, CO; US Army, WWII, TSgt., 354th Infantry

Raymond Plassmann – CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 navigator

Arthur Schaefer – Tucson, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Lt., B-17 navigator

Orland Webb – Harrodsburg, KY; US Army, WWII

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Christmas Wishes for ALL

TO ALL THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN PEACE  HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!

REMEMBER THOSE WHO HELPED TO GIVE YOU FREEDOM!!!

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AND THOSE WHO CONTINUE TO KEEP US SAFE!!!

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AND

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Albert Atkins – Belvidere, NJ; US Army, Korea, Co. E/2nd/187th RCT, KIA

Mary (Sweet) Brown (103) – Tauranga, NZ; WA Air Force # 2031332, WWII

Ronald Burditt – NV; US Army, Korea, communications

Jack Downhill – Rochester, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Lt.Col. (Ret. 28 y.)

Joseph Elliot – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII, Korea, Lt.Commander (Ret. 23 y.)

Richard Grimm – Athens, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187/11th Airborne Division

Andrew McGarry (100) – Milton, OK; US Navy, WWII

Robert Newcomb (100) – Honolulu, HI; US Navy, WWII, PTO / Korea, Cmdr. (Ret. 20 y.)

Kenneth Reth – Racine, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, tank battalion

Maurice Ritter – Cockeysville, MD; US Navy, WWII, USS Naukesa

Lones Wigger Jr. – Carter, MT; Vietnam, Lt.Colonel (Ret. 27 y.), Olympic Gold winner

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Smitty’s Guard Duty – Letter XVI – conclusion

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. 

 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 – 

WWI soldiers had their brand of humor too for guard duty.

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

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bond – Virginia Beach, VA; US Army, 187th RCT, Colonel (Ret.)

Cornelius Cunningham – Bronx, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, Sgt. 27th Division

Teddy Drapper Sr. – Chinle, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker, 5th Marine Div.

Stuart Haw Jr. – St. Louis, MO; US Army, 11th Airborne Div., Military Police

Charles Quarles – Hockessin, DE; US Navy, WWII, electronic tech’s mate

Edward Rowny (100) – Baltimore, MD; US Army, WWII, ETO/Korea & Vietnam, West Point grad., Lt.General (Ret.), Presidential adviser

Nola ‘Paddy’ Scott – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Navy # 621, WWII

Wilburn Timmons – Jonesboro, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Douglas Voyzey – AUS; RA Army # 2137680, Vietnam, KIA

George B Willis Sr. – Leupp, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker, 2nd Marine Division

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Smitty’s Letter XVI – Guard Duty, part one

 

Guard Duty, history.army.com, click to enlarge.

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 –

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Lucien Bolduc Jr. San Antonio, TX; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, West Point grad, MGeneral (Ret.)

Leo Chisholm – Baton Rouge, LA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

A soldier from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, the guardians of Arlington National Cemetery, waits amid the gravestones during funeral services for Army Spc. Sean R. Cutsforth, of Radford, Va., a member of the 101st Airborne who was killed in Afghanistan in December, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Thomas Curtsinger Sr. – Springfield, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, ‘The Hump’, radioman

Glen Elfrank – Painton, MO; US Air Force

Richard Groff – Collegeville, PA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Edwin ‘Perry’ Miller – Lincoln, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-25 pilot instructor

Pat Murphy – Kansas City, MO; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT ‘Rakkasans’

George Pfeifer – Roslyn Heights, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Irving Sager (103) – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, radar

Ernest Zeman – Tampa, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Breton, Lt. (Ret.)

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Home Front – Ham Radio Operators – Intermission Story (18)

Canadian radio operators

Naval Communication Reserve, the Army Amateur Network (not military and often used by the Red Cross), and the Amateur Emergency of the American Radar Relay League  (AARL),were the main networks as WWII brewed toward the USA. The messages were relayed and transmitted free of charge.

In Los Angeles, CA, the Major Diasater Emergency Council, a behind-the-scenes orgaization, prepared early to take over the handling of relief and and public safety.  The operators wore a special uniform and each had special instructions as to their duties.

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC), trained intelligent men who were needed to man the new long-range surveillance and direction-finding radio interceptor stations that were being built as part of the national defense program.  [This was transpiring in 1939, long before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor]

A very short (1:28) video on the secret wireless war from the UK.

 

In time of war, thousands of trained members of these nets would be taken in by the military services for active duty and many others would be detailed to guard various frequencies to detect enemy and spy messages.  Resitrictions governing amateur radio were being tightened and all owners of transmittng stations were fingerprinted and were required to show proof of citizenship.

In June 1942, at the request of the AARL, the War Emergency Radio Service (WERS), was created.  The FCC continued to offer amateur licensing throughout the war.

Gwendoline’s contribution for us – Here you can see the letter sent from Mrs. Cecilia McKie in Sacramento, California to Mrs. Alice Eaddie, Yorkshire, England (a similar letter sent to Mr. & Mrs. Nils T. Peterson, MT).  In it Mrs. McKie explains that she listens to the shortwave program and overhears messages from Allied POWs in Japanese camps.  During February 1943 to the present date of this letter, Cecilia had mailed out 8100 letters to the families of these prisoners.  The message to Mrs. Eaddie was:

“Received your cablegram and safe.  Hope you are all still well at home.  Give my love to Mother and Dad.  Best wishes to our friends.  Tell May Charles (?) is all right.  All my love to you, Patricia.”

Ham radio WWII letter, contributed by Garrulous Gwedoline

 

Other countries had many other radio operators – here is an incredible example from Australia –

http://www.arrl.org/news/behind-enemy-lines-an-amateur-radio-operator-rsquo-s-amazing-tale-of-bravery

This post was inspired by Garrulous Gwendoline and her contribution to this site.  Her own website is well worth a read – you’ll love it!

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

“I DON’T CARE IF DIVISION DOESN’T SEND QSL CARDS……GET ON THAT RADIO!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Butler – Atlanta, GA; US Army, Korea

Caleb Erickson – Waseca, MN; USMC; Afghanistan, Cpl., KIA

Samuel Hadley Jr. – W>Palm Beach, FL; US Army, WWII

Paul Himber – Elizabeth, NJ; US Navy, USS Threadfin

Stanley Krolczyk – Toledo, OH; US Navy, WWII, Korea, Cmdr. (Ret. 24 y.), pilot

Al Kuhn – Chcago, IL; US Army

Rex Phelps – MI; US Navy, WWII, LT., LST

Larry Satell – Palm Beach Gardens, FL; US Army, Korea

Kent Stirling – Pittsburgh, PA; US Air Force

Leland Uhlenhopp – Storden, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

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Smitty’s Letter XV – “Landing”

All ashore that’s going’ ashore…..

November 1944: Two Coast Guard-manned landing ships open their jaws as U.S. soldiers line up to build sandbag piers out to the ramps, on Leyte island, Philippines. (AP Photo)

As the ships drew closer to Leyte, the American soldiers already on shore were being hampered by logistical problems which caused a severe delay in capturing the island.  When the 11th A/B division arrived, General Hodge was finally able to move General Arnold’s 7th division and their plans came together.

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Letter XV                                         Landing                        Somewhere in the Philippines

Dear Mom,

We landed here in the Philippines yesterday morn, but before leaving the ship, the Japs treated us with their honorable (?) presence in the form of bombing planes.  Shore batteries kept hammering at them in the gloom of a misty a.m. and the tracer’s bullets reaching up to the planes made a very pretty but gruesome sight.   The way those tracer shells can pick out the planes you would think that they had a score to settle and just can’t wait to even it.

We landed finally on the beach, being taken to it in those much touted and not highly praised enough landing boats.  How boats can ground themselves  on land the way they do and still get off again unscratched is really a marvel.  Those boys who handle them also deserve a lot of credit and, as Winchell would say, “A great big orchid is due.”

The natives here were real friendly and helpful in a dozen different ways.  They ran up to the landing boats as soon as the bow of the boat sunk its bottom into the beach and helped us carry off our burdensome equipment.  It reminded me of Penn or Grand Central Stations with porters running helter-skelter all over the place.  The only thing missing to make the picture complete were the tell-tale red caps on their heads.

November 1944: U.S. landing ship tanks are seen from above as they pour military equipment onto the shores of Leyte island, to support invading forces in the Philippines. (AP Photo)

It wasn’t long after landing that we were organized into work groups and sent off to our chores.  Work kept on until we were hours into the night despite the fact that again, Jap planes came over.  I am happy to report that they will not be able to do so again, that is – not the same ones.

During the day we were handed K-rations for our dinner and after the excellent food we had aboard ship, they sure tasted like hell.  Just before dark last night, we were allowed a few moments to ourselves and at once set to work getting our tents erected.  Here again, the native men came in handy helping us to either put up the tents or dig our slit trenches.  Of course they don’t do any of this work for nothing, but for items such as undershirts, trousers, soap or most anything in the line of clothing.

I will write more about the people in a later chapter.  After all, you can’t do well to write about them on so short an acquaintance.  Right now we are busy setting up a camp decent enough to live in.  Having a few minutes to spare in between tents.  I thought I’d write this down before it completely slipped my unrententive and feeble brain.  There goes the whistle calling us back to work now, so until the next ten minute rest period, I’ll close with loads of love and car loads of kisses,

Love, Everett

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Max Brown – Alma, MI; US Army, WWII, Military Police

Harold DeRose – Indianmound, TN; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Robert Fairbank – Gilbert, AZ; US Merchant Marine, WWII

Boy Scout Farewell Salute

Victor Galletly – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 44189, WWII

Zeb Kilpatrick – Hendersonville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, C/457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Leo ‘Bill’ LeFevre – Jamestown, ND; US Army, WWII

David Maxwell – Brisbane, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII

Jose Ocampo – San Jose, CA; US Navy, WWII

Dick Patterson – Fort Worth, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO

Anthony Randi – New Haven, CT; US Army, WWII, Cpl.

Donald Thompson – Spokane, WA; US Army, WWII

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Smitty’s Letter XIV – “On the Move Again”

 

Letter XIV                                    “On the Move” (again)                        undated due to censorship

Dear Mom,  We have been at sea now for three days heading toward someplace the Land and the great white father in Washington only knows.

As I sit here writing this, I just can’t help but feel like a very small insignificant part of something so vast that the mind can’t in any way begin to comprehend what it is all about.  Here I am on a ship heading out to something, someplace, and it was all planned probably months ago, miles and miles away from anywheres near here.  Suddenly it all takes form.  Transports and other ships stream into the harbor and just as quickly and quietly we are made loose and moving out.  It all happens so fast and so smoothly that you can’t help but admire it all.

Of course, as serious as it all is, the army just can’t help but be the cause of many amusing incidents.  When we first landed in New Guinea we got lost looking for our camp and coming down to the boats, the trucks again got lost and so we had to travel up and down the beach until finally, instead of us finding the boats — the boats found us.  Climbing up the gangplank with our packs and duffel bags always provide an amusing incident or two, but at the time seem pretty damn dangerous.

On board ship, we are once again packed in like sardines down in the hold.  Once shown our bunk, we proceed at once to get rid of our equipment and dash up on deck to pick out some spot where we can spend the night,  It isn’t long after this that the details are handed out — and so — what could have been a very pleasant voyage soon turns out to be anything else but.  I was lucky in that I was handed a detail that only worked for an hour each day, but the poor guys that hit the broom detail were at it all day long.  All we could hear, all day long, over the speaker system was: “Army broom detail, moping and brooms, clean sweep down forward aft, all decks.”  They kept it up all the time until soon one of the fellas made up a little ditty about it and sang it every time we saw a broom coming down the deck.

The food was excellent and really worth talking about.  On the first trip coming over from the states, we dreaded the thought of eating, but on this ship, it was more than a welcome thought.  Generally, when you go to a movie there are news reel pictures of convoys of ships and the men aboard.  They always try to show you a few playing cards or joking and say that this is how the boys relieve the tension they are under.  Well, I don’t know about the seriousness of the situation was anything like what the news reels portray.

Of course, it was a strange sight to see the boys at night line up at the side scanning the sky and distant horizon.  This was generally though at night and early dawn.  What we expected to see, I don’t know and what our reaction would be, if we did see something — I hesitate to predict.  It won’t be long after this letter is written that we will land or at least sight our destination, so wishing  to be wide-awake when we do, I’ll close this letter now and hit the hay hoping I sleep an uninterrupted sleep.

Till next time, “Good night and pleasant dreams.”                          Love, Everett

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – For those of you who will be in the Fredricksburg, Texas area…..

http://www.pacificwarmuseum.org/

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joan Abery – Darley Dale, ENG; RAF, WWII

Emil Adams – brn: Slovakia/US; US Navy, WWII, CBI, Annapolis graduate

David Altop – Salt Lake City, UT; USMC, WWII, PTO, radio operator

George E. Bria (101) – brn: Rome, ITAL/Waterbury, CT; AP war correspondent, ETO

Otis ‘Roger’ Humphrey – Montpelier, IN; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Charles Johnson – Wichita, KA; US Navy, WWII

Lucien Legault – Windsor, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

John Mumford – St. Petersburg, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 318/325/15th Air Force, KIA

Marion “Flee” Pettygrove – CA; USMC Women’s Corps, WWII

James Summitt – Des Moines, IA; US Navy, WWII, radioman

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