Category Archives: SMITTY

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.

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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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U.S. MEMORIAL DAY

“Taps”   Please take a moment for them before you begin your holiday.

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“Hymn To The Fallen”       Support the troops.

Not every country holds Memorial Day on this date, many are in November when we hold our Veteran’s Day, and I’m certain you have your own ceremonies to display gratitude to your troops.  Shake the hand of a veteran today!

Memorial for Fallen Soldier

 

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Military Family Remembrance –  

courtesy of fellow blogger, Patty B.

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Walter Backman – Aurora, IL; US Navy, WWII, Radioman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA

Alan Bean – Fort Worth, TX; US Navy, NASA, astronaut

John C. England – Colorado Springs, CO; US Navy, WWII, Ensign, USS Oklahoma, KIA

Paul Etchepare Jr. – LaGrange, IL; US Army, Vietnam, 2nd LT.

Paul A. Nash – Carlisle, IN; US Navy, WWII, Fire Controlman, USS Oklahoma, KIA

Charles R. Ogle – Mountain View, MO; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA

Richard Prior – Reese, MI, US Army, 11th Airborne Division, Medical Unit

Philip Roth – Newark, NJ; US Army (author)

Dominick Santoro – East Meadow, NY; US Army, WWII

Lowell Valley – Ontonagon, MI; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA

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End of March 1945 for the 11th Airborne Division

 

Luzon, 1945

22 March – The 187th Reg., the 674th and 675th Field Artillery units had completed their move from Tanauan to Cuenca, Luzon; taking over positions left by the 158th.

23 March – the Japanese stormed A Company’e outpost on San Jose Hill.    The outpost forced the enemy back but had lost Captain Hanna who had not remained in the safety zone with the rest of his unit.  The artillery forward observer was able to  call in artillery fire on the enemy locations and the following morning.

Col. Pearson dispatched G and F Companies to clean out the area.  Tanks battered down houses and the engineers deactivated land mines, but NW of the village, the enemy fired from concealed caves and stopped the attack.

117th Engineering Batt. searching for mines

24 March – the Japanese reentered the village of Dita during the night.  Four battalions of artillery and a squadron of P-47’s made several strikes and the F and G Companies followed up with house-to-house fighting through the streets.  The intensity of the Japanese machine-gun and mortar fire halted the attack.

27 March – following a mortar barrage from the 85th Chemical Battalion and airstrikes using napalm, the 1st Battalion dug in at Bukel Hill and the 2nd Battalion held position near Dita.  Thus began the bloodiest and toughest battle for the 187th to date. (The 187th still exists today.)

Banzai

28 March – in a perimeter south of the Dita schoolhouse, G Company had repulsed another banzai attack.  At 0500 hours, about 50 Japanese soldiers had attacked F Company and its guerrillas.

B-24s and fighter-bombers of the 5th Air Force hit Balete Pass tracts and ridges, installations at Santa Fe, and ground support targets N of Laguna de Bay and in Cavite and Batangas Provinces and B-25s and A-20s attack troop concentrations at Baguio and Ilagan. Bombers hit the Cebu City area and pound airfields on Negros.  B-24s bomb Likanan Airfield. The 39th Troop Carrier Squadron, 317th Troop Carrier Group, moves from Leyte to Clark Field, Luzon with C-47s.

In spite of the shelling and air strikes, the enemy had been able to continue nightly banzai attacks.

Luzon, WWII

The 187th Regiment historian reported: “the Nips took a much heavier toll of the attached guerrillas who had the old-fashioned idea that tropical nights were made for sleeping.”  [11 were killed and 10 others wounded).

On Luzon, fighters from the 5th Air Force attack targets in the Cagayan Valley and north of Laguna de Bay, blasting bridges and gun positions over wide stretches.  B-25s, A-20s, and fighter-bombers hit Cebu targets, several of the strikes being flown in support of ground forces.

By 1 April 1945, the 187th had encircled the landward sides of Mount Macalod – it had not been easy.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Armstrong – Tyler, TX; US Army WWII

Franklin Bissett – Morgantown, WV; US Army, Korea, 187th/11th Airborne Division

One of the cemeteries at Tarawa.

Anthony Cooper – Jamaica, NY; US Army, WWII, 1st Inf/British 8th Army / Korea, 101st Airborne (Ret. 23 y.)

Elroy Dragsten – Bookings, SD; US Navy, WWII, 2nd Lt.

Lyle Gray Regina, SK, CAN; RC Army, WWII, ETO

Richard Hall – Portland, ME; US Army, WWII, ETO, 36th Division

Jeffrey McDougall – W.AUS; RA Air Force # 82473

Edgel Oldroyd – Springville, UT; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Tossie Parker – Tuscaloosa, AL; US Army, WWII

Albert Yamolovich – MA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl., Arisan maru (POW ship), KIA

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Back on Luzon

Mount Macolod, Luzon

Back on Luzon in the Philippine islands, we return to the US Army still fighting Yamashita’s formidable soldiers…

When General Swing, Commander of the 11th Airborne Division, moved into the stripped-down Manila Hotel Annex, General Krueger began to visit him every other day. His competitive nature tried to get Swing to back-off from pushing into Manila first by saying, “don’t stick your neck out,” but Swing replied, “It’s been sticking out a mile since we landed.”

Mount Macolod was not some minor hill to be taken, this was a major battle for the 11th Airborne. It stands almost 3,107 feet, nearly vertical. On two sides, after a 1,200 foot drop, it has three ridges descending gradually. The north to south nose was known as Brownie Ridge, the east as Bashore and the third, a heavily wooded area that connected Mt. Macolod with Bukel Hill.

Brownie Ridge was the most heavily fortified section encompassing those infamous caves and tunnels previously built by enslaved Filipinos. G-2 (Intelligence), informed the soldiers that they would be up against the Japanese 17th Infantry Regiment and the 115th Fishing Battalion (Suicide Boat Unit), under the command of Colonel Masatoshi Fujishige (Fuji Force).

Mount Macolod

For the attack, the 187th, the 760th & 756th Field Artillery Battalions, the 472nd, the 675th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, the 44th Tank Battalion and Company B of the 127th Airborne Engineers were used. (To help avoid what could become very confusing here, I will concentrate on the 187th.) They were equipped with 155mm howitzers, 105mm howitzers, sawed-off 105mm howitzers, Sherman tanks, chemical mortars and flame-throwers. Air attacks were brought in to assist. An entire squadron of P-47s made numerous runs with bombs and then proceeded to strafe the enemy sectors.

F and G Companies of the 187th began house-to-house fighting, but were met by massive machine-gun fire. The enemy was dug in too far underground. Napalm strikes were brought in which enabled the 1st of the 187th to go around to the north of Dita and the 2nd held its position near the town. This was 27 March 1945.

Both units made a frontal assault into the Macolod area the following day. The flamethrowers were used on the enemy bunkers and E and G Companies made it to the top of the crest. Their M-1 fire took out snipers and more advancement was made, but the Japanese returned with mortar fire and a withdrawal was necessary. The enemy came at them throughout the night and following morning with banzai attacks. This was a fierce and bloody battle, especially for men who have never been sent into reserve for rest.

The small islands that XI Corps had to secure were Caballo, a mile south of Corregidor; Carabao, hugging the Ternate shore; and El Fraile, about midway between the other two. The Japanese on those islands posed no threat to Allied shipping–their ordnance was too light–but, like other bypassed Japanese garrisons, they had to be taken sometime. Although the islands had little or no military significance, the operations to secure them offer interesting examples of military ingenuity and unorthodox tactics.

Some of the 11th A/B troopers were put into a new light. There were no airdrops and no amphibious landings. They used native outrigger canoes to land themselves on Saipang Island where the enemy was using machine-gun fire on the troopers. It was mandatory that machinery to be eliminated. Therefore, at dawn, the canoes moved out. The paratroopers behaved like natives, but fought like soldiers and the small island outpost was cleared of Japanese.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Daniel Kahikina Akaka – Hoolulu, HI; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd Regiment, Purple Heart / Senator & Representative

Franck Bauer – FRA; WWII, ETO, underground radio broadcaster, WWII 

Warren Baum – Miami, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, aircraft mechanic

Arthur Eberly Jr. – Charleston, WV; US Army, Korea

Norman Goldstein – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Carel Jan van Oss – Netherlands; RAF/Dutch Air Force & resistance, WWII

George Lawley – Bessemer, AL; US Army, WWII

Sherwood Maxwell – Henderson, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, A Co./675 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Norman Silvira – Union City, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Medical Co./187th/11th Airborne Division

Ted Young – Poole, UK; Royal Engineers, WWII, ETO

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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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11th Airborne Division – end of 1944

 

Gen. Swing and his staff during a briefing on Leyte.

My father swore that this incident occurred, but on which island, I can not say. Although Smitty already felt great respect for his commander, General Swing, he developed even more after witnessing this event: “A bunch of us were hunkered down due to the resistance we suddenly encountered. Everyone dove for cover and tried to figure out where the bullets were coming from except one guy still standing and looking around. (The general did not have his insignia on his uniform.) One G.I. yelled out, ‘Get down you f–kin’ jerk! You want your head blown off?’ I looked over and saw it was the old man himself and thought jeez is that soldier ever going to get reamed when we get back. But, the general got down.  I asked him later that evening why he let the soldier off without a word, and answered that the kid was right!”

General Joseph Swing
[On the back of this photo. Smitty wrote, “My General”]

There are other stories about Swing that are quite similar, including one where, rather than getting down, he actually walked over to the palm tree where the sniper was firing from and pointed him out as the U.S. sharpshooters dropped him.
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Leyte, 1944

From the moment the 11th Airborne landed on Leyte, the fighting was heavy, but they made excellent process across the island. Suzuki’s Thirty-Fifth Army became desperate, especially after the fall of Ormoc, which cut off his troops from their naval supply.  Smitty’s division would soon be put back in reserve as they rest up for Luzon.
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11th A/B on Leyte, 1944

While on Leyte, the 11th A/B was attached to General Krueger’s Sixth Army. A superior reference guide to the movements of this unit can be found in the various books by, Lt. General E.M. Flanagan, Jr. (Ret.). The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division gives detailed accounts by the author, who himself was the commander of the 11th Division’s B Battery of the 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion. And – a very nice man I might add. I was privileged to have two phone conversations with the general.

Lt. General E.M. Flanagan, Jr.

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By the end of December, the enemy had suffered 113,221 casualties and lost 2,748 planes.  The American loss was reported at 11,217.  This time also marked the point when Japanese General Yamashita sustained perhaps the greatest defeat in his country’s history.  Ninety percent of enemy troops on Leyte were killed or committed suicide.

From Saipan, Allied B-29s were beginning to make their bombing runs over mainland Japan.

21 December 1944, General Swing and Col. Quandt flew to Manarawat in cub planes.  Upon landing, the general was said to look “as muddy as a dog-faced private.”  (Swing would often be in the thick of things and this description of him was common.)  He slept that night in the camp’s only nipa hut, which ended up being destroyed the next day.

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Personal Note –  About Intermission Stories – We will continue with following the chronologically and have more stories about Smitty after what I call the Intermission Stories that are filled in between the end of one year and the start of the next.  They are eye-witness accounts, data, stories that have been missed in 1944 or are leading up to 1945.  We have so many new followers, I felt it needed some explanation.  There will also be home front episodes.

I hope you all find something you’re interested in, maybe a chuckle or two or even a tear.  Please feel free to contribute any story you know about from veterans you’ve known or had a discussion with – or even your own story.  Also, remember the Farewell Salutes are for anyone to contribute to, the veteran need not be recently deceased.  Simply put their information in the comment section and I will put them on the following post.  Have a wonderful weekend everybody!!

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Military Humor – 

BUDGET CUTS

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Farewell Salutes –

Sylvan Alcabes – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII

E. Lee Bowman – Broadway, VA; US Navy, WWII

Daniel Doyle – Sarasota, FL; US Army, Major

Thomas Fahey Jr. – Boston, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Margarito Gomez – KS; US Army, WWII, CBI, Corps of Engineers, Bronze Star

Henry Hickman – Palmerston, North, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 403004, WWII, Flt. Sgt.

William Hoks – Lola, WI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Douglas Lane – Chatham, CAN; RC Army, WWII, 17th Field Reg/3rd Forward Observer Unit

Lawrence Smith – Poughkeepsie, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, Yeoman

Leroy Zeedyk – Kankakee, IL; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, LST-169

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December 1944 (3) – 11th Airborne Div.

007 (800x598)

Pfc John Chiesa, E Company/188th Regiment/11th Airborne and Privates Davis and Duncan were on the point going up, what would become known as, Purple Heart Hill on 26 December 1944.  Chiesa recalled:

“We just got to the top of this hill when all hell broke loose.  The Japs opened up with their wood peckers and rifles.  Duncan got hit in the rump and he went tumbling down the hill.  I hit the ground and prayed.  Finally, Davis and i jumped up and went diving over the ridge.  We could not see the Japs because they hide pretty good in the jungle.  They were firing and we were trying to fire back, but we could not see them to know where to shoot at.

“Finally, our Platoon leader, Sgt. Kelly, got up on one knee and started to point to show us where to shoot.  About that time, the Japs got him and he was dead.  He was one hell of a soldier, believe me.

“Me, Pvt. Hodges and three other guys in our company went up to the side of the hill and we laid there waiting for someone to tell us what our next move was.  While we waited, I got hungry so i turned around facing down the hill and got out one of my K rations.  I was opening up the can when 20 feet from me this Jap jumped out of the bushes.  He looked at me and I looked at him.  I think he was as surprised as I was.

“I had an M1 rifle laying across my lap.  Everything was done automatically. (Our training came in handy.)  I grabbed the rifle, turned and pulled the trigger.  He was doing the same thing, but I was luckier.  I hit him smack in his Adam’s apple.  I can still see the surprised look on his face…  The thing that will always be on my mind is that if I didn’t stop to eat, those Japs woulda killed all 5 of us.

Colonel Robert “Shorty” Soule, a Major General during Korean War

“When we came back down the hill, Col. Soule came to me and asked what I would do to get those Japs and take the hill.  I thought he was joking.  Here is a colonel, and a damned good one, asking his pfc how to take a hill.

“I told him, ‘Just bomb the hell out of them, blow the hill up.’  We went up the hill the next morning, and after a good bombardment, we took the hill.”

The “good bombardment” had come from A Battery of the 457th.  Capt. Bobo Holloway of the 188th moved within 25 yards of the Japanese position and directed the firing of the artillery, and some 105mm howitzer and 155mm guns.

On 27 December, when they stormed Purple Heart Hill, they encountered hand-to-hand combat, then proceeded to occupy the old enemy holes as the Japanese evicted them.  Those of the enemy that escaped and headed north, ran into part of Col. Pearsons’ 187th Regiment.  The bloody battle for Purple Heart Hill had lasted for almost 5 weeks.

Japanese WWII “woodpecker”

Information is from “The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan (Ret.)

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frederick Crosby – San Diego, CA; US Navy, Vietnam, pilot, Lt.Comdr., KIA

Norman Fraser – North York, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Henry Glenn Jr. – Largo, FL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Temple Hill – Marshville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-24 top turret gunner

Freddie Knight – Panama City, FL; US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam,Night Fighter (Ret. 27 years)

Tommy Manns – Abilene, TX; US Navy, WWII, radioman, USS Telfair

Remington Peters – CO; US Navy SEAL, 2 deployments, SWO 1st Class

Thomas Sherman – Chagrin Falls, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

Joseph Valderrama – brn: SPN/NJ; US Coast Guard, WWII, ETO, USS Faunce & Breckenridge

Frances Weill – Donora, PA; civilian, WWII, torpedo construction

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