Category Archives: Letters home

Smitty’s Letter XV “Land”

Native outrigger canoes meet up with a Coast Guard transport.

[Please do not be offended by certain remarks, remember that these letters were written 77 years ago when people lived in another time and another world].

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 on Bito Beach, General Hodge was finally able to move General Arnold’s 7th division and their plans started to come together.

Leyte activity map | enlarge for detail

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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.

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

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Howard R. Belden – Warren County, NY, US Army, Korea, Cpl. # 12107317, HQ Co/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Roger Butts – Portsmouth, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Cook 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Gen. Colin Powell

Elvagine “Gene” Ertzberger – Rainier, WA; Civilian, WWII, shipyard welder

Lorenz D. Haselhofer – Watsonville, CA; US Navy, USS Hancock

Sonny Karcher – Enid, OK; US Army, Cold War

Fred M. Montanari – Westmoreland County, PA; US Air Force, pilot

Larry E. Murphy – E. St. Louis, IL; US Air Force & US Army, Cmdr. Sgt. Major (Ret. 36 y.)

Steven L. Nolin – New Brockton, AL; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 188/11th Airborne Division

Henry G. Piper Sr. – Englewood, NJ; US Army, WWII, APO (Alaska)

Colin Powell – NYC, NY; US Army, Vietnam / General (Ret. 35 y.), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Sec. of State

Edward Souza – New Bedford, MA; US Air Force

James Wallace – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt., B-24 waist gunner, POW (escaped)

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Smitty’s Letter XIV “On The Move (again)”

LSTs unload at Leyte

By mid-November, Gen. Krueger’s 4 divisions held only a small fraction of Leyte and Yamashita’s reinforcements were still landing.  The weather was grounding aircraft on both sides.

18 November, the 11th Airborne joined in on the King II Operation.  The 2nd battalion of the 187th Regiment went aboard the USS Calvert to land on Bito Beach.  Being as Smitty was part of Gen. Swing’s staff in HQ Company, I do not know if he went aboard this ship.

Berthing

 

Letter XIV                                                                             “On The Move (again)”

 

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

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lucius E. Agee – Nashville, TN; US Navy, WWII, aviation radioman, USS BonHomme Richard

Dick Barlow – Manchester, ENG; RAF, WWII, ETO, motorcycle dispatch rider

OUR FLAG
Courtesy of: Dan Antion

Duane E. Dewey – Grand Rapids, MI; USMCR, Korea, Cpl., Medal of Honor

Gabriel J. Eggus – NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, P-39 pilot # 0-669878, 100/71st Recon Group, KIA (Wewak, NG)

Edwin A. Jacoby – brn: GER/ Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO  /  Korea, Sgt.

Sam Kendrick – Wexford, IRE; US Army, WWII, ETO

David L. Long – Milwaukee, WI; US Army, tank commander, 1/72/2nd Infantry Division

Alan E. Petersen – Brownton, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., 345/98/9th Air Force, B-24 bombardier, KIA (Ploiesti, ROM)

Joseph M. Robertson – Paragould, AR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 2797547, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Pete Turk – Scammon, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 3422928, USS California, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Murray Weiss – Kellogg, ID; US Air Force

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Letter XI “Java at 2100”

503rd Regiment at Noemfoer, 2 July 1944

Off New Guinea, the resistance on Biak and Noemfoor Islands was crushed as 2,000 paratroopers of the 503rd jumped and the land forces of the 158th RCT overtook the airfields.  Operation Cyclone was a success.  The 503rd A/B would soon be incorporated into the 11th Airborne Division.

In a radio broadcast by Pres. Roosevelt, he made clear the final decision that troops would be attacking the Philippine Islands and not Formosa.  Now the Japanese were also aware.  It was seen by White House observers that FDR had timed the invasion to make headlines for the end of his re-election campaign.

Smitty near Lae, New Guinea in front of his tent

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Letter XI                            Java at 2100                                       Thursday 8/10/44

Dear Mom,  Java at 2100 is nothing more or less than a good old-fashioned gabfest or the same as women folk back home call a “Koffee Klotch.”

There are a few differences though that need a little explaining.  At home, the girls gather and talk, generally about the one who isn’t present; including in this conversation, her husband and his family, also hers and then down the line to her most distant relatives.  Also, they will gab for hours about the gossip of the neighborhood and of course add a little more to it.  At times, arguments amongst themselves will ensue and that ends the present meeting and the next few to come.

With us there are a few differences and variations, such as: we don’t care whether the person being talked about is present or not; although his absence is preferred and appreciated.  Of course we have our little gossip circles, but they mostly run toward the rumor side and therefore no one puts much stock in them.  Invariably we always talk of home, such as what we did before the President greeted us, also what we intend to do when we get back.  This home talk most always leads into a lively debate as to whose state, city or county is the best.  Arguing that topic is just like arguing religion; no one is ever impressed or convinced.

The officers are always good for a good 20 to 30 minute razing, with no one pulling their punches.  At times though you must be careful, as there might be someone present who is bucking like the devil and the talk will go back.  Never is there a good word said in the officers’ defense and I doubt if there ever will be.

a sample koffee klotch

Another colorful period is spent when someone brings up non-coms.  What is said at this time is unprintable.  Surprise to say that if I was visited by the seven plagues, I wouldn’t be as bad off as the non-coms, if even half the things wished upon him should ever befall him.  I sometimes wonder if ever in their own conceited way they know just how the private feels toward them.

At home, the girls are all gathered around strictly  talking, but here again we vary.  Some may be playing cards with every now and then some player adding his say, much to the consternation and anguish of the others.  Over in another corner are the die-hards who always listen for rumors and continue on talking about the latest one long after the others have dropped it.

All this time the water is being boiled outside in a large five gallon can.  Every now and then, someone will go out to see if it is time to add the coffee.  When once the coffee is added, there comes over the tent a lull and then everyone shuffles out to get his cup, which he will dip into the can of coffee before coming back in.  Conversation for a while is a combination of talk, loud sips and the blowing of the hot Java.  We manage also to provide milk and sugar and at times, crackers.  The last is generally present only around paydays.

I don’t know whether it is the effects of the hot coffee upon the vocal chords or not, but always right after the coffee, some would-be Crosby or Sinatra starts singing some old favorite and that is when music conquers over all.  They say music has its charms, but after listening to it here — I have my doubts.

Some nights the conversations are really good and so is the coffee, on those occasions, talking lasts after taps has blown and then you are sure to hear the mournful wail of the company charge of quarters meekly saying, “Aw fellas, put out the lights.”  Never has it happened that the request was heeded and I doubt if it ever will be.  It isn’t long after though that the first sergeant comes barging in bellowing, “Get those blankety-blank lights out and get the H–l to bed!”  Lights immediately go out and good-nights can be heard throughout the company area as Koffee Klotches all over break up.

Peace and quiet prevails until all one can hear is the not too soft patter of feet heading out to the place where, at some time or another, we all must frequent.  Bits of conversation can be heard drifting through the night, but generally isn’t worth listening to, as it is only the rumor mongers at work again in their office.

Before I close this chapter, allow me to say that the evening coffee, sugar and milk are all donated cheerfully by the fellow most unfortunate enough to have had K.P. the day before.

Having nothing more to gab about and also having to pay a visit down to the end of the company street, I’ll close before I have to make a run for it.

Gabbingly yours,  Everett  (The Donator of This Evening’s Coffee)

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

William Billeaux – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 2-Bronze Stars

Eric Carter (101) – Worcestershire, ENG; RAF, WWII, ETO + CBI, pilot

Courtney (Anderson) Couch – Lane County, OR; US Army  /  Sheriff’s deputy

George Gonzalez – Brooklyn, NY; US Army  /  Pentagon Police Force

Harold W. Hayden – Norwood, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., Co A/1/6/2nd Marine Division, KIA (Betio, Tarawa Atoll)

Tresse Z. King – Raeford, NC; US Air Force, Kuwait, Chief Master Sgt.

George Miller – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, Vietnam

Frank A. Norris – Quinlan, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, TSgt., pilot-engineer, 345/98/9th Air Force, KIA (Ploesti, ROM)

Rex Prisbrey – Washington, UT; US Army Air Corps, CBI

Daniel Sullivan – Groton, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO, radar operator

Royal L. Waltz – Cambria, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., Co A/1/18/2 Marine Division, KIA (Betio, Tarawa Atoll)

Byron S. Wise –  Newalla, OK; US Army, Co. B/88th Artillery, 11th Airborne Division

Dale W. Wright – Flint, MI; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co C/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

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Letter IX – “A Day’s Venture”

Dobodura, New Guinea

At this point in time, the jungle war training had live firing and everything was becoming a bit clearer, a bit more realistic.

Major Burgess left the units temporarily to set up a jump school.  This would give the glidermen and Burgess himself an opportunity to qualify as paratroopers.  The parachutists began their glider training at Soputa airstrip that was no longer in regular use.

waters off Lae, New Guinea

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Letter IX                                               “A Day’s Venture”                                                                      Monday   6/26/44                                        

Dear Mom,

Yesterday, being Sunday, a day of rest, I decided to ride around this place and see something.  I made up my mine though that this sightseeing tour of mine, this time, would be done as a civilian completely forgetting I’m in the army.  You have to do this in order to see the place in its true light, otherwise if you don’t all you can see is hardship and work.  With my mind cleared of Khaki, I set forth in a jeep with a buddy of mine; who I dare say couldn’t see the sense of our venture.

As we drove along in the still quiet, the thought kept coming to me of the enormous job the boys before us had to confront and overcome.  Here and there along the way you could see some old emplacement or deserted village.  These villages were really something to see with their straw-thatched roofs and open sided houses.  We wouldn’t call them shed, but that is just what they looked like.

One can readily understand why the authors of those travelogues really go all out when describing these islands.  You forget the heat as cooling breezes blow over you from the coast and the shade of the giant coconut trees gradually engulf you.

We passed one spot close to the coast that suddenly shook us with the horrible realization of our place and mission.  It wasn’t large or spread out, but all was peaceful and quiet though men were gaily chatting and swimming nearby.  We entered by an archway on which was inscribed, “Japanese Cemetery.”  We passed now upon some of the little white markers all neatly lined up and lettered.  Although they were once an active enemy, one could not help but see the shame and waste of war.

We looked around the beach for a while, then decided to go in for a swim.  The water here is amazingly warm and clear.  You could never believe it unless you could see it as I have.  How crystal clear and immune of blemish this water here is.  Why, to peer down 25 feet and see bottom is really an easy thing to do.  The bottom is sand, sand at its finest and whitest literally covered with shells of every shape and color with here and there a grotesque piece of coral.  You can really pick out the coral as it shows up a faint green while the shells throw all colors of the rainbow up at you until your eyes are completely dazzled by the many-colored lights.

By this time, the sun was well on its way toward the horizon and dusk rapidly approaching.  Here and there a faint star twinkled until suddenly the sky was almost completely covered with thousands.  The moon finally appeared in all its bright glory and reflected itself a hundred times over on the waves before us.  The end of the day had come and with it also my venture into a world never to be forgotten.  This day will long be remembered and stored with the rest of my most treasured memories.

Good night!  And may God bless you,  Everett

PS>  I shall write to Joe Dumb as soon as I send this letter on its way.  Be good and take care of yourself.

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Current News –        Mission 55

Say hello to Mr. Joe Butkus, a proud veteran of the 84th Engineer Construction Battalion who is having a birthday REAL SOON!

For the Mr.  Butkus story, visit equips !!

Cards to be sent to:  Joe Butkus  c/o Mary Ellen Hart  1868 North Benson Road, Fairfield, CT  06824

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Charles E. Burns – Miami, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Pete Conley – Chapmanville, WV; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. K/3/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Arthur W. Countryman – Plainfield, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, TSgt. # 20602751, Co F/12/4th Infantry Div., Bronze Star, KIA (Hürtgen, GER)

Tony Elliott – brn: UK; Royal Navy, WWII, CBI  &  Korea

George M. Gooch – Laclede, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Electrician’s Mate, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Robert J. Harr – Dallas City, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Irene Heyman – Brooklyn, NY; Civilian, WWII, Defense blueprints and Red Cross “Gray Lady”

Andrew J. Ladner – MS; US Army, WWII, PTO, Pvt. # 34133073, 126/32nd Infantry Div., Bronze Star, KIA (Huggin Road Blockade, NG)

Francis Morrill Jr. – Salem, MA; US Navy, WWII, PTO  /  USMC, Korea

Earl D. Rediske – Prosser, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co A/55/11th Airborne Division

Marian Robert (102) – Vancouver, CAN, RC Women’s Air Force, WWII

Leonard F. Smith – Albany, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Metalsmith 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

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A TOUCH OF BEAUTY

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Letter VII Land

native hut in New Guinea

For a period of five months the 11th Airborne Division would receive jungle warfare and intensified combat unit ground training in the primitive land of jungles and mountains and thatched huts and the native population fondly called, Fuzzy Wuzzies.  The Papua brigades and Allied forces, that fought in what constituted the Cartwheel Operations before the troopers arrived, made this landing possible.

The Dobodura area that the 11th A/B would make their home was inherited from the 5th Air Force.  The first order of business was for the 408th Quartermaster trucks to deliver the pyramidal tents.

Smitty near Lae, New Guinea

 

 

Letter VII                                                          Land               6/8/44

 

  Dear Mom,    

Well, here we are on the island of New Guinea.  From what we can see if it so far, I know we’ll never go hungry as the coconut trees are as thick as a swarm of bees.

We started for our area in trucks after all the rumors said we’d walk and we “Oh!” and Ah’d” all throughout the trip.  Not wanting to show the natives here how smart we are, the driver proceeded on his own when lo and behold — where were we?  I don’t know, no one knows, so right away we all knew that wherever we were — that wasn’t where we were supposed to be. 

Now, of course, we weren’t to blame, as after all, this is a strange and new place to us and they didn’t give us a Socony road map or a compass reading, so no matter — drive on — come what may.  Of course, some large and strange appearing trees which grew in the road had different ideas and no matter how hard we hit them, they consistently set us back.  How they ever managed to find a road to grow in is beyond me, but then they were here before us.  Naturally, after the way they treated our truck, we gave them a wide berth, eventually leaving the road al together.

When after what seemed like hours, we finally found our area, much to the delight of the lower hind part of our anatomy.  Then, our shoulders and backs had to haul our bags around until we found our tents.  This was done very systematically: someone had the idea of first asking the captain just where we belonged and he proceeded to take us there.  We could see at once that this place was no place for us and got right down to thinking up goldbricking alibis.

Work here is the main word we soon found out, and might I add we are all still trying to duck, but it seems that as soon as one finds a spot in the woods, oops I mean jungle, the tree-chopper-downers come along and there you are not only up to your neck in work, but also find out that now your haven is so exposed as to make it useless again as a hideout.

You might wonder what all this labor is about and also expect to find out in this chapter or letter, but no, it shall never be.  I’m saving that for the next installment, which I’m sure you will be breathlessly awaiting. 

 Regards to all.

Love, Your son,  Everett

Quartermaster Corps collar disc

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Barno – Nesquehoning, PA; US Navy, WWII  /  USMC, Korea, Sgt.

Wesley J. Brown – Helena, MT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Arthur W. Countryman – Plainfield, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, TSgt., Co. F/12/4th Infantry Division Bronze Star, KIA (Hürtgen Forest, GER)

Robert F. England – MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, “Hump” pilot  /  Korea, 1st Lt.

Kenneth G. Hart (100) – Stanwood, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Floyd D. Helton – Somerset, KY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, Fireman, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Donald Johnson (100) – Lake Orion, MI; US Navy, WWII, USS Takanis Bay (CVE-89)

Henry J. Kolasinski – Clayton, DE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

Charles E. Lee – McLennan County, TX; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. K/3/34/24th Infantry Division, Field Lineman, KIA (Taejon, SK)

Thelma Miller – Akron, OH; Civilian, WWII, Goodyear Aircraft Corp., F4U construction

Robert Read (101) – London, ENG; Royal Navy, submarine service / Korea, Lt. Comdr.

Merle Smith Jr. – New London, CT; US Coast Guard, Vietnam, Cutter Comdr., Coast Guard Academy graduate Class of ’66

John J. Trumbley – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co. H/137th Infantry, Sgt.

Stanley Wilusz – Holyoke, MA; US Merchant Marines, WWII  /  US Army, Korea, Sgt.

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My week went well……

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The Neptune Society – Letter IV “Still At Sea In A Quandary” – GP Interview

Pacific Ocean, rough seas off New Zealand

When Smitty and the other troopers passed the equator, as per naval tradition, the ship’s crew donned their apparel of King Neptune and his court in preparation of handing the “Pollywogs” (the soldiers) their certificates of crossing.  The Royal Barber tried to cut the hair of the crew-cut troopers and the Royal Executioner paddled a backside with an oar if the receiving line moved too closely to a snail’s pace. (which one can imagine was every G.I. derriere that went by!) Smitty was one to really enjoy this sort of tomfoolery — even if it was with the navy!  The water damage you see to Smitty’s certificate (pictured below) is one of the reasons I began to make a facsimile of his scrapbook onto the computer.  I have re-typed the contents of the certificate to show the humor involved — despite a war.

IT Read….

To All Sailors, Marines, Whatever Ye Maybe: Greetings: and to all Mermaids, Whales, Sea Serpents, Porpoises, Sharks, Eels, Dolphins, Skates, Suckers, Crabs, Lobsters and all other Living Things of the Sea: Know ye, that on this June 15 ’44 in Latitude 00000 and Longitude Cape Mendacia there appeared within Our Royal Domain the bound Southwestward for the Equator, the South Sea Islands, New Zealand and Australian ports.

BE IT REMEMBERED That the said Vessel and Officers and Crew thereof have been inspected and passed on by Ourselves and Royal Staff: AND BE IT KNOWN By all ye Sailors, Marines, Landlubbers, Soldiers and all others who may be honored by his presence, that Pollywog Everett A. Smith 32816491  Having been found worthy to be numbered as one of our Trusty Shellbacks he has been duly initiated into the SOLEMN MYSTERIES OF THE ANCIENT ORDER OF THE DEEP  Be It Further Understood:  That by Virtue of the power invested in me I do hereby command all my subjects to show honor and respect to him wherever he may be.  Disobey the Order under Penalty of Royal Displeasure. (bottom left) Given under our band and seal this Davey Jones, His Majesty’s Scribe – (bottom right)  Neptunus Rex, His Servant – the signature appears to be Gregory Cullen

equator crossing certificate

Smitty’s Letter IV

Letter IV                                                                                    Still at sea in a quandary

Dear Mom,  Well, here I am again as promised.  Yesterday we had a little something different to sea besides the sea.  Notice that I’m getting so that I can only spell  the sea when I mean to write see.  Early in the morning we had the pleasure of seeing another ship and must say it sure made one feel good.  Why it should though I can’t say unless it is the thought that someone else is having it just as tough.  Guess there is some truth in the saying, “Misery loves company.”  We also had the pleasure of watching some islands in the far off distance.  I won’t try to describe them to you, as that would be too much to expect to pass. (Censorship)  You will kindly take notice that I used the words “pleasant” and “pleasure,” if I keep that up you might get the idea this is getting to be that kind of voyage.  Some amusing things do happen though, such as the boys sleeping out on the deck getting caught in the rain or some clumsy ox slipping and sliding his way along the boat.  By the way, I forgot to tell you that we get the regular news everyday in a printed form resembling a newspaper.  Also music by record sounds tinny, but anything out here is good.

You can readily see I haven’t much ambition for writing today, which reminds me    Matter of fact, the way I feel right now, I don’t care much whether I do or not.  Well, that is all for today’s report on nothing, so with all my love, I am your ever obedient son,  Everett

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Smitty and his mother in artwork courtesy of, Priorhouse.wordpress.com/

From GP – Yvette, from Priorhouse, was kind enough to ask me for an interview for Memorial Day.  I was flabbergasted and honored!

I do hope you will go on over and take a peek, I would greatly appreciate it!  Priorhouse

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Burkle Carmichael – Ocala, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO,POW Stalag IV-B

Alex Coran – brn: ITL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Carl M. Ellis – Hope, AK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Myles W. Esmay – Utica, NY; US Army, WWII, CBI, !st Lt., Co B/236th Engineer Battalion w/ Merrill’s Marauders, KIA (Myitkyina, Burma)

Gavin MacLeod – Pleasantville, NY; US Air Force  /  Actor

Theresa Morris – Fairfield, CT; Civilian, WWII, Remington munitions inspector

Brian T. O’Connor – Rahway, NY; US Army, Vietnam, 5th Special Forces

Ralph Palmer (100) – Florence, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., 450/15th Air Force, B-24 bombardier, DFC

Jennings “Bill” Rich – Bainbridge, GA; US Navy, WWII, Korea + Vietnam, USS Boxer, Pickaway + Hornet, MChief Petty Officer (Ret. 20 y.)

Clarence A. Robinson Jr. – Vienna, VA; USMC, Korea, Sgt. / Vietnam, Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart (Ret. 20 y.)

Matsuo “Jack” Tominaga – Shelley, ID; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd RCT

John D. VanPatten – Ft. Wayne, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 152nd Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Lester E. “Tosie” Wawner (101) – Clifton Forge, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO + ETO, Machinist 1st Class, USS Morris / US Coast Guard (Ret.)

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“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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