Category Archives: SMITTY

The 11th Airborne on Okinawa

C-47’s of the 54th Troop Carrier Group

Saturday, 11 August 1945, top secret orders were delivered to General Swing for the division to be prepared to move to Okinawa at any time. The division G-3, Colonel Quandt, called Colonel Pearson, “This is an Alert. Have your regiment [187th] ready to move out by air forty-eight hours from now.” Commanders throughout the 11th A/B had their men reassembled, even those on weekend passes had been found and brought back to camp.

11th Airborne

The lead elements left Luzon immediately. At 0630 hours on the 13th, trucks brought the 187th to Nichols and Nielson Fields for transport and they landed at 1645 hours that afternoon at Naha, Kadena and Yotan Fields on Okinawa. They would remain on the island for two weeks.

It would take the 54th Troop Carrier Wing two days to transport the 11th Airborne using 351 C-46s, 151 C-47s and 99 B-24s; with their bombs removed and crammed with troopers. The planes had carted 11,100 men; 1,161,000 pounds of equipment and 120 special-purpose jeeps for communication and supply. Eighty-six men remained on Luzon long enough to bring the 187th’s organizational equipment to Okinawa by ship.

Jeeps being stored

Okinawa, as one of the islands being “beefed-up” with supplies, men and materiel, quickly became significantly congested; it is only 877 square miles. One day would be unbearably hot and the next would bring the heavy rains that created small rivers running passed their pup tents. The troopers were back to cooking their 10-in-1, ‘C’ or ‘K’ rations on squad cookers or eaten cold.

Okinawa cave (in good weather)

A typhoon crossed the island and the men were forced to live on the sides of hills with their pup tents ballooning like parachutes and taking off in the wind. In the hills were numerous old Okinawan tombs that the Japanese troops had adapted into pillboxes and these helped to protect the men from the storms.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Bickel – Madison, TN; US Army, WWII, 85th Infantry

Douglas Clark – Portland, OR; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Roy Dillon – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII

Jonathan R. Farmer – Boynton Beach, FL; US Army, Syria, Chief Warrant Officer, 3/5th Special Forces Group, 2 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart, KIA

Shannon M. Kent – NY; US Navy, Syria, Chief Cryptologic Technician, KIA

Wilsey Lloyd – Florence, CO; US Navy, WWII

Margaret Psaila – Louisville, GA; US Army WAC, WWII

William Schmitt – Anchorage, AK; USMC, WWII & Korea

Arthur Taylor – Mortlake, ENG; British Army, WWII, ETO, Dunkirk

Scott A. Wirtz – St. Louis, MO; Civilian, Dept. of Defense, Syria, former US Navy SEAL, KIA

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Lady Luck’s Unlucky Day

The 11th Airborne Division need not speculate any longer as the 5th Air Force prepares to move them to Okinawa!

Thanks to the historians of the IHRA, we can now have some answers.

IHRA

After the atomic bombs were dropped, but before a Japanese surrender had been negotiated, V Bomber Command was busy moving troops and equipment to Okinawa. The 22nd and 43rd bomb groups were also enlisted to ferry troops, as all the C-46s and C-47s were already in use. While the B-24’s potential as a troop carrier may have looked good on paper, the logistics behind turning these bombers into transport aircraft subjected passengers to a potentially deadly situation. The ideal location for extra passengers would have been closer to the tail of the aircraft, but that would make the plane much more difficult to fly. Instead, passengers had to ride on precarious wooden seats installed in the bomb bay.

The 11th Airborne Division was selected to drop onto Atsugi Airdrome as part of the Army of Occupation if the Japanese were to surrender. First, though, they had to be moved from…

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11th Airborne Division – rumors fly

11th Airborne Division jump school, Lipa, Luzon, 1945

The intensity of the Air Corps Troops Carrier Group’s training and the establishment of the division’s 3rd parachute school at Lipa, Luzon started many rumors floating about the division area.

The more practical savants had the division jumping ahead of the forces invading Japan; others thought China a more obvious choice; and still other amateur strategists thought that Formosa would make a fine DZ.  But, of course, none of these courses of action was to be.

Gen. Joseph M. Swing

At the end of July, Gen. Swing called John Conable into his makeshift office in a schoolhouse outside Lipa.  Gen. Swing introduced Conable to an Air Corps Major.  The Major asked Conable how many planes it would take to move the division about 800 air miles.  Conable remembers:

I asked General Swing how many units of fire he wanted.  He said figure on a quarter of a unit.  To say that I was surprised is a major understatement.  The Old Man never wanted to go anywhere without at least two units of fire.

Then the General added:  “Be sure to bring the band in one of the early serials.”  The Major and I went back to my desk.  I got out the plans I had for Olympic.

While he was looking at them, I excused myself and went into the map room.  It was just 800 miles from Okinawa to Tokyo!  Both the Major and I were worried about gasoline.  A C-46 or 47 didn’t have enough fuel capacity to make a 1,600 mile round trip.  He left with the number of men, weight, and volume of mortars, jeeps, etc.  No more was said.

But the incident caused Major Conable to consider that there was definitely “something different in the wind.”  And indeed there was!!

The 5th Air Force (FEAF) were operating in both the CBI Theater and still on Luzon to support the ground forces, along with the USMC.  All the existing units of the Air Corps in the Pacific were in motion at this time; moving their bases to more effective locations.

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Military Humor – When the WAC’s took over!       Humor by: Pfc Everett Smith in New Guinea

“TOO MUCH BEER LAST NIGHT, MISS PRINGLE?”

“DAMN THESE G.I. LATRINES!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Matthew Brown – Massapequa, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Co. F/152 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Donald Edge – Fayetteville, NC; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

11th Airborne Memorial at Tagatay, P.I.

Brian Garfield – Tucson, AZ; US Army / author of: “The Thousand-Mile War”

Joe Jackson – Newman, GA; US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Col. (Ret. 32 y.), U-2 pilot, Medal of Honor

Robert Leroy – Langley, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ/3/511/11th Airborne Division

Jeremy Nash – ENG; British Navy, WWII, ETO, weapons officer HMS Proteus, Commander (Ret.)

Alfred K. Newman – Bloomfield, NM; USMC, WWII, PTO, Code Talker, 1/21/3rd Marine Division

Elmer Patrick – Monticello, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. F/188/11th Airborne Division

Clarence Strobel – Stockton, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. F/ 188th/11th Airborne Division

Michael C. Vasey Sr. – Roseburg, OR; US Army, Vietnam, Military Police, Lt. Colonel (Ret. 20 y.), 2 Bronze Stars

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Thanksgiving – Then and Now

WWII vs Afghanistan

THEN – WWII

Stanley Collins, US Navy: “I was on submarine duty in the Pacific in the year 1943. We were in the area off the cost of the Philippines. I remember having a complete turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. While the turkeys were cooking, the submarine took a dive. We went down too steeply and the turkeys fell out of the oven onto the deck. The cook picked them up and put them back into the oven — and we ate them, regardless of what may have gotten on them as a result of their fall. That meal was so good!”

Ervin Schroeder, 77th Infantry Division, 3rd Battalion, I Company, US Army: “On Thanksgiving Day, we made our landing on Leyte Island in the Philippines very early in the morning. We therefore missed our dinner aboard ship. Somewhere down the beach from where we landed, the Navy sent us ham and cheese sandwiches. My buddy happened to get one of the sandwiches and brought it back to our area. I was complaining to him for not bringing one back for me when he started to have stomach cramps… At this point, I shook his hand and thanked him for not bringing me a sandwich.”

Bill Sykes of Plymouth, Combat Engineers and then 1095th Engineer Utility Company, Command SoPac, US Army Engineers 1942-1945:

“The Thanksgiving dinners were served on trays. (My first one, with the Combat Engineers, was served in mess kits. That doesn’t work too well.) They had cranberry sauce, stuffing, the whole thing. It was a good meal. But the feeling of Thanksgiving wasn’t there. The meal was there, but the feeling of Thanksgiving wasn’t. I guess you couldn’t have Thanksgiving when you were overseas. There wasn’t much to be thankful for. It was sad. Although, I guess there was some thankfulness, at least you were still alive!”

 

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NOW – 2018

This year, service members received:
— 9,738 whole turkeys
— 51,234 pounds of roasted turkey
— 74,036 pounds of beef
— 21,758 pounds of ham
— 67,860 pounds of shrimp
— 16,284 pounds of sweet potatoes
— 81,360 pies
— 19,284 cakes
— 7,836 gallons of eggnog

“All of [U.S. Army Central Command’s] food, with very few exceptions, has to come from U.S. sources and moved into the theater,” said Sgt. Maj. Kara Rutter, the ARCENT culinary management NCO in charge. “There are also challenges with the quantity of the food that we’re getting. When you talk about buying 23,000 pounds of shrimp, obviously that affects the entire market.

“We also have to ensure we’re respecting our host nations’ cultures. In some countries, we might not be able to serve certain foods because of cultural and religious considerations.”

Soldiers operating in isolated locations will also receive a hot Thanksgiving meal, Rutter added, thanks to food service professionals in the U.S. who prepared a series of “Unitized Group Rations,” which is “basically a meal in a box.”

“Being away from home during the holidays is very difficult,” Rutter said. “There are a lot of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who frankly are away from home for their first Thanksgiving, and they are doing some difficult things.

“We want them to be able to take a minute, take a knee, and eat the same type of food that their families are eating 9,000 miles away, all while thinking of them at the same time.”

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Military Humor and something to think about – 

humor from Afghanistan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turkey will travel

 

“And you were whining about sitting next to Uncle Milt!!”

 

 

 

 

Military turkeys

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Arcand – Chelmsford, MA; US Navy, WWII & Korea, Lt.Comdr. (Ret.)

Robert Browning – Cary, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 194th GIR/17th Airborne Division

Dick Cadic – NJ; US Army, WWII, T-3 Sgt., telegraph

Thomas Fussell – Alamogordo, NM; US Air Force, Vietnam, Lt.Col., fighter pilot

Edward Gould – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Army # 61449, WWII, 44/8th Army

Norman Kroeger – Hartford, WI; US Navy, WWII, USS New Mexico

Vincent Losada – San Antonio, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 Bombardier, 487th Bomb Group

Larry McConnell Sr. – Des moines, IA; US Army, WWII & Korea

Walter Shields – Brooklyn, NY; USMC, WWII

Cowden Clark Ward – Fredericksburg, TX; Civilian pilot, founder of “Freedom Flyers”

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78th National Airborne Day

“Airborne All The Way”

Author Unknown

These men with silver wings

Troopers from the sky above

In whom devotion springs

What spirit so unites them?

In brotherhood they say

Their answer loud and clear.

“Airborne All the Way.”

These are the men of danger

As in open door they stand

With static line above them

And ripcord in their hand.

While earthbound they are falling

A silent prayer they say

“Lord be with us forever,

Airborne All the Way.”

Saint Mike

One day they’ll make their final jump

Saint Mike will tap them out

The good Lord will be waiting

He knows what they’re about

And answering in unison

He’ll hear the troopers say

“We’re glad to be aboard, Sir,

Airborne All the Way!”

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Airborne Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Barber – Toledo, OH; US Army, Vietnam, Captain, 101st Airborne Division

Billy Enzor – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Army, 187th RCT

Warren Evans – Clarksville, TN; US Army Korea & Vietnam, Colonel, 187th RCT, 2 bronze Stars

Edward Fallon Jr. – Boston, MA; US Army, Korea, 101st Airborne Division, pathfinder

Francis ‘Red’ Grandy – Russell, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII / Star & Stripes photographer

Henry Kalb Jr. – Atlanta, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Larry Noll – Sheldon, WA; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division

Anothony Patti – Bronx, NY; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division, medic

William Shank – Harrisburg, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., 338th Fighter Squadron/8th Air Force, Purple Heart, KIA

Reymund Transfiguracion – Waikoloa, HI; US Army, Afghanistan,  3/1st Special Forces Group, Sgt. 1st Class, KIA

Charles Watson – Vero Beach, FL; US Army, Artillery/11th Airborne Division

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SHOUT OUT !!!

Personal Note – I know I promised a post for the women on the home front for today, but the calendar has changed my schedule.  That post will appear Monday, 20 August 2018.

Thank you.

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June – 11th Airborne (continued)

11th Airborne w/ 81mm mortar on Luzon

The 11th Airborne battled the Shabu Forces on a 75 mile hike in 120 degree heat to connect up with the Connolly Task Force. The combined goal was to prevent the enemy from escaping into the Cagayan Valley and out to sea. Lt. Col. Burgess met Gen. Beightler, on 26 June, and received a rather snide remark about how his men had saved the 11th A/B. Burgess became quite red-faced and replied that he was under orders to save the 37th Division. Gen. Swift, standing off to one side, laughed and said, “Well, you SOUND like one of Swing’s boys.”

Lipa Airfield, Luzon

The Gypsy Task Force marched away to the 37th’s Headquarters to request C-47s to transport the unit back to Lipa. Burgess was denied and told to counter-march to Aparri and have the trucks take them south to Manila. That would mean they would still need to march another 55 miles from Manila to Lipa. Instead, the men bribed the C-47 pilots with Japanese swords, guns and various other paraphernalia in exchange for a flight back. (Necessity is the mother of invention.)

Bold headlines exploded in the Australian newspapers: U.S. Paratroopers Land In Northern Luzon – “After the 11th A/B Division made their air-borne landing near Aparri on June 23rd., using their gliders for the first time, carrying howitzers, jeeps and mobile equipment. Each trooper jumped with 100 pounds of gear strapped to his body.”

In the 26 June 1945 issue of The Army News – “On Saturday, from 600 feet into paddy fields, the 11th Airborne dropped near the port of Aparri in a surprise move against the Japanese forces in northern Luzon. They used their gliders for the first time in the southwest Pacific…”

3 July, General Swing made an official note stating that he had implored the higher echelon of the Sixth Army two months previous with a plan to drop the entire 11th Airborne Division onto northern Luzon back when Gen. Krueger’s men were having so much trouble with the Japanese in Balete Pass. He expressed his frustration that his own plan to attack Aparri had gone unheeded. The Japanese had been given the opportunity to withdraw just enough to unite with reinforcements.

According to the US Government’s booklet on Luzon,

On 30 June 1945 Krueger’s Sixth Army was relieved by the Eighth Army, whose task was to mop up scattered Japanese positions.  [There we go with that “moping up” terminology again.]

Technically, the battle for Luzon was still not over when Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945. On the northern part of the island Shobu Group remained the center of attention for the better part of three U.S. Army divisions. Altogether, almost 115,000 Japanese remained at large on Luzon and on some of the southern islands.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

The remains of 2 Civil War soldiers will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery…

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/06/20/bones-of-civil-war-dead-found-on-a-battlefield-tell-their-horror-stories/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.7609f97aa01f

AND….

WWII firearms and swords were found under a Tokyo elementary school….

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/08/06/national/1400-guns-1200-swords-world-war-ii-found-buried-tokyo-elementary-school/#.W2tEg9VKiM8

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bochek – Milwaukee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Daniel Cremin – Sydney, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, ETO, KIA

Joseph Garron – Brooklyn, NY; USMC

Terrell J. Fuller – Toccoa, GA; US Army, Korea, Cpl., D/1/38/2nd Infantry Division, KIA

John Kain – GloucesterCity, PA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

William A, Larkins – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army, Korea, Sgt., A/503 Field Artillery/2nd Infantry Division, KIA

John Magnon – New Orleans, LA; US Navy, WWII

Robert L. Martin – IA & IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Tuskegee pilot

Edward Ranslow – Melville, MA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Francis Sapp – Weston, FL; US Army

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June – 187th/11th Airborne Division

Jump at Aparri, Luzon

With his thoughts still focused on his R&R in Australia, Everett “Smitty” Smith landed back at Lipa City, P.I. only to discover that a mission was scheduled. The last remaining organized Japanese group, the Shabu Forces, were hold up in the northeast corner of Luzon and General Swing had organized the Gypsy Task Force to take them out. On his orders, the unit would include “all Camp MacKall veterans.”

This unique unit would include men from the 187th Infantry, the 511th, the 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, a platoon from the 127th Engineers and two platoons from B Company. Despite Gen. Krueger’s disapproval, Lt. Col. Henry Burgess, now 26 years old, would be the commanding officer. (Smitty was at the ancient age of 30, one of the oldest paratroopers besides one other soldier and a few of the officers.) Col. Lahti (31) would be CO for the reserve unit.

Task Force Gypsy, Aparri, Luzon

Col. John Lackey, CO of the 317th Troop Carrier Group, with very little notice, began loading 54 C-47s and 13 C-46s at 0430 hours, 23 June 1945. His plane was the first to leave Lipa airstrip and the constant rumbling of the planes soon became “Vs” in the open skies. Within the transports, every man appeared as a clone to the next. Individuality was lost among the uniforms, bundled parachutes and rucksacks filled to capacity with ammunition, first-aid, water and C-rations.

C-47 Skytrain “Gooney Bird”

Each man stood and checked the chute of the man beside him when the “Gooney Birds” lurched at 0900 hours; the smoke flares from the forward Pathfinders were spotted and green lights flashed for the paratroopers. The stick of men hooked up to the static lines and proceeded to jump into vertical development. With mandatory, disciplined silence, the traditional battle cry, “Geronimo,” is only heard within the imaginative faculty of 1,030 men. All these diverse personalities would react separately to the same experience.

Task Force Gypsy

Each man, for his own reasons, volunteered for the perilous duty that might end his life. Each man went through various stages of development and arrived at the same destination. Each man had been chosen for their good health, general toughness and honor. A jump into combat is reality in its most crystalline form.

As the ground races up to meet the troopers, they see the tall, thick fields of the sharp kunai grass, flooded rice paddies, caribou ruts and bomb craters – all would prove dangerous. The Task Force would lose 7%, two men killed and 70 wounded as they landed in 25 mph winds. The battle-hardened paratroopers collected their flame throwers, howitzers and rifles from the gliders and reassembled with “Espirit de Corps.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – Tomorrow, 7 August 2018 is Purple Heart Day

purple-heart-day-us-holidays1-640x427.jpg

Over 1.8 million awarded to date.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hugh Adams – Portland, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Trevor Anstey – Chesterfield, ENG; RAF, WWII

Angel Flight

Gary Bohanick – Virginia Beach, VA; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Michael Gagliardi – Boca Raton, FL; US Army, 127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Freeman Hepburn – brn: Bahamas/Port St. Lucie, FL; US Army

Richard B. “Rick” Long Sr. – Seven Lakes, NC; US Army, Lt. Colonel (Ret.)

Samuel McAllister – Mt. Vernon, NY; US Army, 75th Ranger Regiment, Sgt. Major, (2) Bronze Stars, KIA

Christopher Nelms – Oklahoma City, OK; US Army (28 y.), Delta Force, Sgt. Major, (2) Silver Stars, KIA

Billy Sapp – Reno, NV; USMC, WWII, PTO, 1st Marine Division

Kenneth Walser – Mesa, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea, B-26 pilot

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May > June for Smitty and the 11th Airborne

117th Engineer Battalion, Luzon

The 11th Airborne continued their patrols, mopping up details and training at Lipa, Luzon, P.I.  General Swing had another jump school built that created 1,000 newly qualified paratroopers out of their latest replacements.

The new glider school concentrated on the “snatch pickup” method, whereby a CG-4A Glider on the ground with a towrope and a C-47 with a hook. As the plane goes overhead at an altitude of 15 feet, it snatches up the glider and brings it to 120 mph in a matter of a few seconds. (The noise from the plane, shock and whiplash must have been overwhelming.)

With May drawing to a close and the Japanese Army being pushed to the northeast, the 11th Airborne knew something was brewing, but then Smitty got a surprise.

Brisbane 1945

8 June 1945, Cpl. Everett Smith found himself and four others from the division on leave in Australia and Smitty was determined to have a good time! Those that went to Brisbane on the same orders for TDY were:
Lt. Col. Francis W. Regnier MC HQ 11th A/B Div.
Major George K. Oliver INF HQ 11th A/B Div.
T Sgt. Manuel C. DeBeon Jr. 187th Glider Infantry
Tec 4 Beverly A. Ferreira HQ 11th A/B Div.
The orders were signed by Major E.W. Wyman Jr., Adjutant General of Luzon

Townsville, Queensland, WWII

My father never told me very much about his R&R and probably for a good reason. (For one, my mother was always around listening.) He did say that when he first arrived in Australia, he wanted a haircut and a shave. While the barber was working on him, he remarked that the pores in Smitty’s nose appeared enlarged. My father answered, “You spend five months in the jungles of New Guinea and see what your nose looks like.” Dad said after that, his money was no good. Everyone in the barbershop made such a fuss over him that he never got a word in edgewise. They were so extremely grateful to anyone who served in New Guinea. Smitty did always tell me he wished he could make a trip back there; he thought Australia and her people were great, but sadly, he never did.

Perhaps this young lady, Joan, was the reason Smitty wouldn’t talk about his time on leave.

“Happy Landing, Joan”

In another part of the war….

The Sixth Australian Division attacked and occupied Wewak, New Guinea. This is relevant because it housed the headquarters of the Japanese Eighteenth Army. A major boon for the PTO (Pacific Theater of Operations).

23 May, at least 65 square miles of Tokyo had been incinerated by bombs and napalm. Later, the same action was taken over Yokohama, Osaka and Kobe. This left over 100 square miles of the principle Japanese cities devastated and one-third of the country’s construction destroyed. Japan’s factories were demolished.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – U.S. Coast Guard – 228 years old this 4 August 2018

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Charles Burnett – Lexington, KY; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Duane Caitlin – Waverly, NY; US Coast Guard

Walter Geer – New Oxford, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Thomas Horn – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Alfred Johnson Jr. – Washington D.C.; US Coast Guard, WWII

Roy Meyer – Tucson, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 449th Bombardment Group, B-24 waist-gunner

Edward Patapanian – Boston, MA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Brady Spillane – Great Falls, MT; US Army, 82 Airborne Division

William Thomure – Columbus, OH; US Coast Guard, WWII

James Watt – Whangamata, NZ; RNZ Army # 811867, WWII, PTO, 22nd/9th Brigade

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11th Airborne Division – May 1945 (2)

187th HQ Company, from 11th Airborne Yearbook 1943

After the fall of Mount Macolod, the one remaining Japanese stronghold in the 11th A/B’s area of operation on Luzon was Mount Malepunyo, a welter of conical hills covered with tangled rainforest and bamboo thickets surrounded by slopes and interlaced with sharp ridges.  There were no roads within the 30-square-mile area of the mountain.

Gen. Griswold felt that Malepunyo was such a formidable Japanese bastion that he planned to give Gen. Swing the 1st Cavalry to use along with Swing’s 11th A/B.  But – just before the operation was to take place, Griswold would only attach the 8th Calvary Regiment .

The 187th Regiment of the 11th A/B, shorthanded and weary after fighting for Mt. Macolod, was sent to Tiaong, to prevent enemy escape on the east.  This would put them around the north shore of Lake Taal.  The 188th was moved to Alaminos on the south and kept the 8th Calvary at the “Grand Canyon” at the northeast and the 511th on their right flank.

Gen. Farrell gathered 7 battalions of artillery and spread them out around the foot of the mountain.  When the operation went into affect, fighter-bombers pounded the Japanese strongholds.  The American paratroopers could actually see the enemy race underground and to their positions when they hear the aircraft overhead.

Major Davy Carnahan of the 187th said, “We had ambushes up and down the river for a distance of about 10 miles, endeavoring to cover every possible crossing.  In those ambushes we accounted for some 4 hundred Japanese captured or killed.

About 2400 hrs. one night, movement across the bridges was noticed.  …  The surprise was complete and deadly, some 100 enemy being killed and wounded, including some high-ranking officers.  The strange looking objects seen on the bridge turned out to be sedan chairs that all the Japanese officers were being carried in.”  [The troopers would later discover that Gen. Fujishige’s auto had broken down back in March.  But the general was not being carried, he walked out leading 200 men and was not captured here.]

Carrying out the wounded, 11th Airborne Div.

At the end of May, the 187th was sent to Manila to relieve the 20th infantry.  The city was in dire straits.  Vast areas had been destroyed, industry was non-existent, they had very little in the way of utilities, there was no police force and dance halls were springing up on every corner.

Smitty was not here, but as part of Gen. Swing’s service staff, he would have been with his general.  Plans were heavily into talks about the invasion of Japan.

According to the 11th A/B’s G-4 officer, Major John Conable, “We were to be the lead division of XVIII Airborne Corps under Gen. Ridgeway.  Our division and the 13th Airborne Division were to parachute onto the peninsula forming the east side of Tokyo Bay and establish a beachhead for a couple of armored divisions…. I can remember poring over aerial photographs of the area, trying to find some decent jump fields.  We didn’t find any.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Bond Jr. – Bradford, PA; US Navy, WWII

Richard Brunk – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division, Chaplain

Stanley Chambers – Ipswich, ENG; Royal Air Force, WWII / British Navy, pilot (Ret. 44 y.)

Peter Firmin – Harwich, ENG; British Navy, (artist)

James Furcinito – Syracuse, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Joe Gondarilla – Oxnard, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Kenneth Herrell – Manchester, TN; US Army

Clarence Mayotte – Webster, MA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 5th Armored Division

Ronald Spetalnick – Far Rockaway, NY; US Air Force, SSgt., Flight Instructor

Arnold Tolbert – Williston, SC; US Air Force

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11th Airborne Division, May 1945

Japanese Army areas of responsibility, WWII

Shobu Group had lost one of the three legs of its defensive triangle, but the battle on northern Luzon was far from over. Until the end of the war, Sixth Army forces continued to push Gen. Yamashita’s men farther into the mountains, taking heavy casualties in the process. The 32d Division, which had also seen heavy fighting on Leyte, was worn down to almost nothing, but the defenders suffered even heavier battle casualties as well as losses to starvation and disease.  By the end of the war, the Japanese were still holding out in the rugged Asin Valley of the Sierra Madre in north-central Luzon, enduring the drenching summer monsoons.

1 May 1945, the recon platoon found a company-sized unit of the enemy in the 187th’s zone of responsibility. The 2d battalion, along with 81mm mortars and LMGs (light machine guns) spread out to attack the enemy on three sides. F Company had a kill count of 92 Japanese versus one man of theirs missing the following day. From 3 May on, the fighting was considerable. 10 May, with the situation easing, the division left the area to be patrolled by Filipino guerrillas and was once again united and prepared to set up their base camp among the ruins of Lipa.

Lipa, Luzon ruins, WWII

During the month of May, a new T O & E (Table of Organization and Equipment) was put into effect as replacements finally arrived. A battalion was added to each glider regiment. The 188th Infantry and the 674th Field Artillery became parachute units. The 472d Field Artillery Battalion was added to Division Artillery and the 187th became a Para-Glider Infantry Regiment. For the first time since their creation, the 11th A/B totalled 12,000 men.

7 May 1945, the war in Europe was over, the famous V-E Day, and the men of the 11th Airborne were very happy for their counterparts in the ETO, but they knew the Japanese would remain solid and faithful in their convictions. The fighting in the Pacific would continue, it was a matter of honor. My father, Smitty, had told me of the hatred the G.I.s felt for the enemy and granted, he wasn’t overjoyed at the prospect of getting shot at, but he said he had to have respect for their patriotism and tenacity. (Yamato damashii – Japanese spirit and Bushido – the way of the warrior.)  Now, the troopers began to wonder if they would receive ample reinforcements. Rumors began to fly.

Gen. Yamashita Tomoyuki

10 May, the 11th A/B Division regrouped outside Lipa.  If a soldier was not at an outpost or out on patrol, he was helping to build a camp in the coconut groves with those all too familiar pyramidal tents.  Bamboo and steel matting was used to raise the tents up about a foot since it was about to become rainy season once again.  Between two mountains, USO shows and movies began to arrive and a jump school and glider classes were held for the “green” replacements.

11 May, was the first span of 24 hours in a total of 101 days that no one from the 11th Airborne Division had killed one of the enemy. Their average before that had been 93.8 Japanese per day and during that time General Swing was unable to afford even one company to be in reserve.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Pete Acuff – Olvey, AR; US Army, WWII,  driver

Stewart Barnett – AUS; D COY 4 RARNZ Battalion, Pvt. # 5715206, Vietnam, KIA

Clifford Doer – Milwaukee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO & Korea, 11th Airborne Division

Harlan Ellison – Cleveland, OH; US Army / (sci-fi author)

David Franklin – Lake Worth, FL; USMC

Larry Hickman – Winston-Salem, NC; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Robert Keown – Decatur, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 2nd LT., P-38 pilot, KIA

Brian Monks – Hampton, NZ; INZ Regiment, Vietnam, Colonel # 35187

Lawrence Sweet – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

George VanArsdale – Hugo, CO; US Navy, WWII

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