Chick Parsons – Our Man In Manila

Charles ‘Chick’ Parsons

Charles Thomas Parsons Jr. was born in 1900 in Shelbyville, Tennessee, but his family moved frequently to avoid creditors. When young Charles was 5, his mother sent him to Manila for a more stable life with her brother, a public health official in the American-run government. The boy received his elementary education speaking Spanish at the Santa Potenciana School, a Catholic school founded in the 16th century. 

He returned to Tennessee as a teenager and graduated from Chattanooga High School. He sailed back to the Philippines as a merchant marine seaman in the early 1920s and shortly got himself hired as a stenographer for Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, a hero of the Spanish-American War  On January 2, 1942, the Japanese Army marched into Manila unopposed.

Parsons retreated—only so far as his house on Dewey Boulevard, where he burned his uniforms and any other evidence that he was a United States Navy officer. But he held on to his Panamanian flag. Because of his experience in shipping and port operations, Panama’s foreign minister had named him the country’s honorary consul general to the Philippines. While the occupation authorities ordered that the 4,000 Americans in Manila be detained at the University of Santo Tomas, they left Parsons, his wife and their three children alone, believing he was a diplomat from Panama, a neutral country.

For the next four months, speaking only Spanish in public and flashing his diplomatic credentials whenever necessary, Parsons collected strategic information, including Japanese troop strengths and the names and locations of American prisoners of war

Visitors inside the dungeon used by Japanese forces for Allied prisoners

After the Jimmy Doolittle raid on Tokyo, the Japanese Army’s feared Kempeitai military police retaliated by rounding up all non-Asian men—including Parsons, diplomatic immunity be damned. They were thrown into a stone dungeon at Fort Santiago, the 350-year-old fortress within Intramuros, the colonial walled city where Chick had lived and played as a child.

After being tortured for 5 days, he was sent to the hospital with kidney problems.  Still believing that Parson’s was Panama’s consul, him and his family were allowed to leave.  By the time the Parsons family reached New York on August 27, the Navy had lost track of Chick—he was listed as missing in action.

The gate of Fort Santiago where Parsons played as a boy and held captive as an adult.

When MacArthur received word that his old friend was not MIA, he called Washington: “SEND PARSONS IMMEDIATELY.” Within a month, Chick was on a submarine headed for Mindanao.  He gauged the guerrillas’ strength, established ground rules and united the Christian and Muslim fighters for a common effort of defense.

11 November 1943, Parsons was aboard another sub, the USS Narwhal, and delivered more food, medicine, weaponry and additional radio transmitters to expand the network of coastal watch stations.

By February 1944, Parson infiltrated the Philippines for 3rd time to continue keeping the guerrillas supplied as well as ferrying more than 400 American and foreign nationals to safety.

12 October 1944, a Catalina ‘Black Cat’ delivered Parsons and Lt.Col. Frank Rawolle of the 6th Army Special Intelligence.  For 4 days they sent coded messages back to HQ and warned the guerrillas to pull back off the beaches.  The Navy launched the main invasion on 20 October and the guerrillas joined up with the invading US Army.

Post-war Parsons back in Manila.

Peter parsons, son, said his father took but a few seconds to return to his prewar life and get back in business.  He remembered his father smiling and waving as a ship brought the family back to Manila as though nothing had happened.  We called him “Iron Man.”

Chick Parsons died in Manila on the afternoon of May 12, 1988, during his siesta. He was 88. His sons—Peter, Michael, Patrick and Joe—gathered for a funeral service there, and they laid him to rest in a grave next to Katsy, who had died eight years before. “He was hardly ever sick in his whole life,” Peter Parsons said. “When he died he was asleep”

This story was condensed from an article by Peter Eisner for the Smithsonian Magazine.  To read the complete story…

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/without-chick-parsons-General-MacArthur-Never-Made-Return-Philippines-180964406/?q=

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frank Amaral – Smithfield, RI; US Army, WWII

Haig Arakelian – Panama City, FL; US Army, WWII / US Air Force (Ret.)

Earl Baugh – Searcy, AR; US Navy, WWII, SeaBee

Tony Holbrook – Ontario, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

William Kunkel – NYC, NY; US Air Force, Korea

Catherine Murray (100) – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; USMC, WWII, MSgt. (ret.), 1st woman to retire from the Marine Corps

John Revill – Swanwick, ENG; British Army, WWII, ETO

Charles Saccamdo – Springfield, IL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Pearl Spurr – Bradford, CAN; CW Army Corps, WWII

Frank Wilkins Jr. – Georgetown, DE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Captain, 599/397/9th Air Force

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February 1945 (3)

Flamethrower

While advancing, the 11th Airborne encountered heavy barrages from machine guns, mortars, artillery and grenades streaming from tunnels and caves above the highway.  After the enemy was eradicated, the command post dug in on the side of the road.  In the middle of the night, they were attacked.  Headquarters Company used flame throwers and rifle fire to fend them off.

My father, Smitty, would wrinkle his nose at the mere sight of a flame thrower on TV.  He said, “Once you smell burning flesh, it stays with you.  There’s nothing worse.  Every time I see one of those things flare up, even in a movie, I can smell the fuel and flesh all over again.”

The importance of Manila cannot be stressed enough. The natural harbor has served as a strategically situated port for commerce and trade for centuries. Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay are connected by the Pasig River.

Pasig River before the war.

Following the initial American breakthrough on the fourth, fighting raged throughout the city for almost a month. The battle quickly came down to a series of bitter street-to-street and house-to-house struggles. In an attempt to protect the city and its civilians, MacArthur placed stringent restrictions on U.S. artillery and air support. But massive devastation to the urban area could not be avoided. In the north, General Griswold continued to push elements of the XIV Corps south from Santo Tomas University toward the Pasig River.

Late on the afternoon of 4 February he ordered the 2d Squadron, 5th Cavalry, to seize Quezon Bridge, the only crossing over the Pasig that the Japanese had not destroyed. As the squadron approached the bridge, enemy heavy machine guns opened up from a formidable roadblock thrown up across Quezon Boulevard. The Japanese had pounded steel stakes into the pavement, sown the area with mines, and lined up old truck bodies across the road. Unable to advance farther, the cavalry withdrew after nightfall. As the Americans pulled back, the Japanese blew up the bridge.

117th Engineering Batt./37th Div. on Luzon

The next day, 5 February, went more smoothly. Once the 37th Division began to move into Manila, Griswold divided the northern section of the city into two sectors, with the 37th responsible for the western half and the 1st Cavalry responsible for the eastern part.

By the afternoon of the 8th, 37th Division units had cleared most Japanese from their sector, although the damage done to the residential districts was extensive. The Japanese added to the destruction by demolishing buildings and military installations as they withdrew. But the division’s costliest fighting occurred on Provisor Island, a small industrial center on the Pasig River. The Japanese garrison, probably less than a battalion, held off elements of the division until 11 February.

The 1st Cavalry Division had an easier time, encountering little opposition in the suburbs east of Manila. Although the 7th and 8th Cavalry fought pitched battles near two water supply installations north of the city, by 10 February the cavalry had extended its control south of the river. That night, the XIV Corps established for the first time separate bridgeheads on both banks of the Pasig River.

US Army, Luzon

The final attack on the outer Japanese defenses came from the 11th Airborne Division, under the XIV Corps control since 10 February. The division had been halted at Nichols Field on the fourth and since then had been battling firmly entrenched Japanese naval troops, backed up by heavy fire from concealed artillery.

Only on 11 February did the airfield finally fall to the paratroopers, but the acquisition allowed the 11th Airborne Division to complete the American encirclement of Manila on the night of the twelfth.

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Current News – B-17 ‘Memphis Belle’ 

Memphis Belle

17 May 2018, the inspiration for 2 movies, the ‘Memphis Belle’ will be put on permanent display, on the 75th anniversary of her 25th mission, at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.  She is now fully restored!!

110 Spaatz Street, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433

for GPS instructions: 5717 Huberville Ave., Riverside, OH 45431

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Military Humor – Bill Mauldin style – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Burton Atkinson – Toronto, CA; RC Army, WWII, ETO, (attached to British 8th Army)

Glen ‘Swede’ Bergau – Dalkena, WA; US Army, WWII

Arthur Bowkett – New Plymouth, NZ; Royal Marines, WWII, Cpl.

Robert Covington – Grantsville, UT; US Army, Korea

Hyman Fine – Bethesda, MD; US Navy, WWII, Cmdr. / US Air Force, Pentagon

Leo LeBlanc – providence, RI; US Army, WWII, ETO,8th Armored Tank

Roy Miller – Glen Cove, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 navigator

Henry Nowak – Philadelphia, PA; US Navy, WWII / US Army, Korea

Donald Pittman – Kansas City, MO; US Navy, WWII, Korea, (Ret. 20 y.)

David Toschi – San Francisco, CA ; US Army, Korea

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View « WWII Aircraft Nose Art » on YouTube

A subject we’ve all enjoyed in the past! Thank you, Pierre!

Preserving the Past

Featuring Clarence Simonsen

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February 1945 (2) – Manila cont’d.

Japanese troops in Manila

The 11th A/B continued on to Tagaytay Ridge where they would come upon more of the enemy. Colonel Soule directed the artillery of the 674th and the 675th while the final assault was made by the infantry. The troopers went uphill through the Mount Cariliao-Mount Batulao defile. This was Shorty Ridge; the eastern area that needed to be free of Japanese before the 511th made their jump. (The regiment had to be capable of meeting up with the rest of the division within twenty-four hours of their landing.) The forward Command Group of the Headquarters Company went through a mile of enemy territory to destroy the resistance on the ridge and make that first contact.

511th Reg. making their jump

A mere two hours later, the Command Group followed along the fire-swept road and set up the division command post on the ridge. The Reconnaissance Group, right behind them, did not rest, but continued on toward Manila. The Command Group then folded in behind and set up another command post while under heavy fire.

General Swing now had a supply trail stretching 70 miles and he began to fine tune the missions of some of the units. Colonel Hildebrand and the 187th were sent to Nasugubu and patrol the main supply route. Hildebrand was also put charge of thousands of guerrilla fighters, not an easy job in itself. All in all, he and his regiment had been given a very large task. They were staring into the jaws of the noted Genko Line.

Japanese groups on Luzon

The plan on 15 February for the 2d battalion of the 187th and the 188th was plain and simple: push forward and keep going – then meet up with the 511th at the Carabao Gate and still keep pushing. First they cleared the 6 foot high railroad tracks, then a dry riverbed and started to go up the barren rise. All this time there was no enemy resistance and not one sound whatsoever. The Leyte veterans knew something was wrong, they could feel their skin crawl and suddenly they discovered the ruse.

Lake Taal

The Japanese soldiers and their machine guns had been buried in the riverbed and were now behind the G.I.s. A hoard of the enemy came at them screaming despite the gunfire, BARs (browning Automatic Rifles) and hand weapons that killed and wounded them as they charged. But, they continued to come in waves and reached the 1st platoon.

The second platoon caught up to them and destroyed some of the Japanese machine guns. In the total chaos, the enemy ran to their pillboxes to regroup. When two more companies arrived on the scene, the Japanese outfit was trapped. A strange explosion underground knocked some of the troopers to the ground. The enemy, rather than surrender, had blown their hideout thinking they would kill the G.I.s above them, but it was not a sufficient charge to accomplish this. They had only murdered themselves.

The 674th and 675th Glider Field Artillery Battalions had been firing endlessly with the aid of the cooks, clerk, drivers and gun men and took shifts. Banzai attacks were common on these positions, so perimeters had to be kept firm. Swing’s plan was to keep squeezing the enemy into a tight group and then block their escape routes.

Japanese suicide crash boat

At one point, Gen. Eichelberger went back to the USS Spencer, but a peaceful night sleep was not to be. “There were a number of attacks by explosive-laden Japanese suicide crash boats. Just after daylight, a little worn, I went on deck and watched a curious cat-an-dog encounter between and American destroyer and a suicide boat. The destroyer was trying to sink the Japanese craft with 5” guns and pursued it.

“Whenever the enemy wheeled and made a direct run at the destroyer, the ship zigzagged and took to its heels…. It seemed like a crazy version of you-chase-me and I’ll-chase-you… After about 50 rounds of firing, a shell from the destroyer found its target. The boat did not sink – it disintegrated.”

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Military Humor – Bill Mauldin style – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

David Berry – New London, CT; US Army, Korea, Co. C/187th RCT (Ret. 25 y.)

Dennie Clark – Coal City, WV; US Army, Vietnam

Rita (Gagnon) Fuller – Voorhers, NJ; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Stuart Hyatt – Bellingham, WA; US Army, Korea

Willie jackson – Augusta, GA; US Army, Vietnam

Robert Lishness – Lexington Park, MD; US Navy, Sesert Shield/Desert Storm, AMS-1, P-3 metalsmith

Harry Matlin – Cleveland, OH; US Air Force, Korea

Thomas Prentice – Toronto, CAN; British Royal Navy (Air Fleet)

Vernon Shelton – Hutchinson, KS; US Army, WWII, PTO

Charles Watts – Lexington, KY; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT (Ret. 20 y.)

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February 1945 (1) – Manila

Nichols Field bombing, 6 Feb. 1945

The 6th and 8th Armies on Luzon were repeatedly in close and brutal combat with the Japanese.  By dawn on 4 February the paratroopers ran into increasingly heavy and harassing fire from Japanese riflemen and machine gunners. At the Paranaque River, just south of the Manila city limits, the battalion halted at a badly damaged bridge only to be battered by Japanese artillery fire from Nichols Field. The 11th Airborne Division had reached the main Japanese defenses south of the capital and could go no further.

US Army on Luzon, February 1945

Regarding Manila as indefensible, General Yamashita had originally ordered the commander of Shimbu Group, General Yokoyama Shizuo, to destroy all bridges and other vital installations and evacuate the city as soon as strong American forces made their appearance. However, Rear Adm. Iwabachi Sanji, the naval commander for the Manila area, vowed to resist the Americans and countermanded the order. Determined to support the admiral as best he could, Yokoyama contributed three Army battalions to Iwabachi’s 16,000-man Manila Naval Defense Force and prepared for battle. The sailors knew little about infantry tactics or street fighting, but they were well armed and entrenched throughout the capital. Iwabachi resolved to fight to the last man.

11th Airborne Div. path into Luzon

On 4 February 1945, General MacArthur announced the imminent recapture of the capital while his staff planned a victory parade. But the battle for Manila had barely begun. Almost at once the 1st Cavalry Division in the north and the 11th Airborne Division in the south reported stiffening Japanese resistance to further advances into the city. As one airborne company commander remarked in mock seriousness, “Tell Halsey to stop looking for the Jap Fleet; it’s dying on Nichols Field.” All thoughts of a parade had to be put aside.

Entering Manila

The final attack on the outer Japanese defenses came from the 11th Airborne Division, under the XIV Corps control since 10 February. The division had been halted at Nichols Field on the fourth and since then had been battling firmly entrenched Japanese naval troops, backed up by heavy fire from concealed artillery. Only on 11 February did the airfield finally fall to the paratroopers, but the acquisition allowed the 11th Airborne Division to complete the American encirclement of Manila on the night of the twelfth.

Corregidor, aerial view

As February opened, the 7th Allied Air Force continually bombed Iwo Jima, Marcus Island and Corregidor, while the 5th Allied Air Force not only targeted Corregidor as well, but Cavite, Cebu City, enemy positions on Mindanao and Borneo.

[Actually, since 15 June 1944, the US Navy and Army Air Forces together began naval bombardments and air raids against Iwo Jima, which would become the longest and most intense in the Pacific theater.  These would contain a combination of naval artillery shellings and aerial bombings that went on for nine months.  On 17 June, the, USS Blessman sent Underwater demolition Team 15 (UDT-15) toward Blue Beach for reconnaissance. The Japanese infantry fired on them, killing one American diver. On the evening of 18 June, the Blessman was hit by a bomb from a Japanese warplane, killing 40 sailors, including 15 members of her UDT.]

Unaware of Kuribayashi’s tunnel defense system on Iwo Jima, many of the Americans assumed the majority of the Japanese garrison were killed by the constant bombing raids.   “Well, this will be easy. The Japanese will surrender Iwo Jima without a fight.” – Chester W. Nimitz

References: “Angels: The History of the 11th Airborne Division by Gen. EM Flanagan Jr.; US Army History: Luzon; Pacific Wrecks & US Navy records; “Our Jungle Road To Tokyo” by Gen. Robert Eichelberger.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Horace Ashenfelter – Phoenixville, PA; US Air Force, pilot / Olympic Gold medal / FBI

Dominick Bove – Wilmington, DE; USMC, WWII, PTO, 3rd Division, Bronze Star

Marshall Clark – Frewsburg, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot

Donald Dammert – Cincinnatti, OH; US Navy, WWII

James Holton – Alma, GA; US Army, Vietnam

Ray Jones – Greenwood, WV; US Army, WWII

John Peter Jr. – Belleville, IL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division, medic

Donald Solin – W.AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, ETO, pilot

James Speed – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 74023

Bruce ‘Bear’ Whitehouse – Bloomfield, NJ; US Army, Korea, 73rd Tank Battalion

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First Hand Account – Home Front on Luzon

Fellow blogger at https://subliblog.wordpress.com/ and author of “BAHALA NA (Come What May)”, Rosalinda R. Morgan, remembers a story her father told her about discovering the Americans had returned to Luzon.  The pictures here have been taken from her Photo Gallery, available on her blog.  Please be sure to visit her.

Mr. & Mrs. Mateo Rosales on their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

My father told me this story of what happened in his town when the American soldiers came back to rescue the Philippines.

One night, they heard a loud explosion. It was dark around where my parents were camping in their makeshift village. There were nipa huts scattered under dense mango trees and roofs were covered with leaves. One by one, men came out and looked where the noise was coming from. It was a moonless night. It was total darkness except for the lights coming from the explosion.

Somebody called out. “The Americans are coming! The Americans are coming!” When the people heard that, they all came out of hiding. There was a promontory in the area where they could watch the flashing light. They climbed the little hill and looked out toward the horizon. The area was wide open field and there were no trees blocking the view. One could see all the way to Taal Lake.

They could see where the flashing lights were coming from. It looked like they were coming from Lemery. From where my parents stood, they could hear the artillery shells going back and forth. The shootings got louder and louder. Trees and debris were flying high up where the artillery landed. The Americans were not shooting far enough. It could be that they did not know where the Japanese were or the range of the artillery fire was not long enough. The shooting went on all night.

In the morning, they found out the shots from the previous night landed in the cemetery nearby where empty shells were everywhere. It was still quite a distance where the Japanese were occupying Mt. Makulot in Cuenca on the far side of Taal Lake.

Lake Taal across from Tagaytay, in the distance is Mt. Makulot.

In no time, the Americans set up a camp with several tents in Taal at the Plaza across the big cathedral. Then, the U.S. soldiers started marching inland toward the Japanese camp. When they reached Alitagtag, some people saw soldiers marching up the road. At first, they were scared thinking they were Japanese, then they realized they were white-skinned and tall. Instantly, they knew it had to be the Americans. Then they got excited. Someone ran to the field where everyone was hiding and informed them. People started coming out running to the street, waving their arms and cheering them on. The American did not expect the kind of reception they were getting and it became very unsettling. The cheering went on for several minutes. Some civilians were asking for food, others just waved and said “Hi Joe.” They were deliriously happy to see the Americans. They asked if MacArthur was coming. The GIs said yes. That news were received with loud cheer.

The soldiers told them to evacuate to the Elementary School and the nearby church. Some evacuees settled in the elementary school. My parents decided to stay overnight at the church. There were several evacuees in the church. The little group, huddled together, sat in the pews all night, some praying, some just sitting quietly until their eyes got tired and they dozed off to sleep.

Later in the night, the shooting started again. This time, the Japanese shells started coming in their direction. The Japanese started shooting at the school. Artillery fire was coming from Mt. Makulot. All night long, the shooting never abated. All the evacuees at the school were moved to the church and the rectory in the cover of darkness. It was a long night for the evacuees.

By daybreak, the shooting stopped. The evacuees were told to move again. This time they were told to move to Taal. My parents together with my two unmarried uncles joined the throng evacuating to Taal. My uncles brought sacks of rice, kamote and some clothing. My father had me on his shoulder as he trod along with my mother.

Within an hour, there were thousands of people evacuating. Men, young and old with their wives and children joined in. Everybody looked scared but nobody protested. They were just following what the American soldiers told them.

The evacuation ran smoothly with the American soldiers flanking the evacuees and leading the way. However, the throng was getting bigger as they reached several villages. More people joined the evacuation as it progressed its way through towns. Some people stopped along the way trying to rest their feet. My parents kept their pace slowly, rested for a few minutes every now and then. They were totally exhausted when they reached Taal. It took them all day to get there.

The jungle at Alitagtag. This picture is the cover for “BAHALA NA”

At Taal, the evacuees were taken in by the residents of Taal. In the morning, they went to the U.S. Camp to get breakfast. For a week, my parents stayed in Taal with the rest of the evacuees. While the evacuees were being housed and fed in Taal, the American soldiers continued their march to Alitagag and then the shooting continued at night until the American troops reached Cuenca.

By this time, the evacuees at Taal were moved again. People began to scatter around several nearby villages. One of my mother’s aunts and her family were among the evacuees in Taal. Mom’s aunt wanted my parents to join them and hide near the sugar cane fields which were not far from Taal. My father wanted to return to Alitagtag so my mother asked her aunt to join them instead. The aunt said they were tired of walking and believed they would be safe in the sugar cane fields.

My parents returned to their hiding place in Alitagtag. They thought staying at their own property was the best option for them. The American soldiers were now past Alitagtag and on their way to Manila to join MacArthur’s force trying to enter Manila. Later on, my father heard there was heavy fighting as the American soldiers crossed Cuenca where the Japanese were at Mt. Makulot.

In a few days, the Japanese burned the sugar cane field where my mother’s aunt’s family and other evacuees went into hiding. They were all killed and my parents were very lucky to make their own choice and saving their lives.

Click on images to enlarge. 

Also – Remember to stop in, see the other photos and say Hi…

Rosalinda R. Morgan

“BAHALA NA (Come What May)

 

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Military Humor –

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Joe Appleby – El Paso, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, TSgt., B-24 gunner/radio, 8th Air Force

Erven Boettner – Roca, NE; US Army, WWII, Col. (Ret.)

John Donahue – Shrewsbury, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 5th Air Force

Jean Doyle – Tyngsboro, MA; US Army Air Corps WAC, WWII, 1st Lt.

Raynald Goulet – Portland, ME; USMC, WWII, pilot

Anna Mae Hays – Buffalo, NY; US Army WAC nurse, CBI / Korea & Vietnam, 1st female general (Ret.)

James Janes – Louisville, KY; US Army, WWII, medic

Paul Moll III – St Louis, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Arthur Schoenfield – Manawatu, NZ; RNZ Army # 4434429, WWII, Sgt.

Howard Wolfgram – Waukesha, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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11th Airborne Lands at Luzon

American Eighth Army soldiers debark from LCI(L)s [Landing Craft Infantry, Large] in Luzon. “File number: 259015. Released: Feb. 14, 1945.

Navy lands Eighth Army on West coast of Luzon–Troops of the U.S. 8th Army under command of Lieutenant General Robert L. Eichelberger, pour off Navy LCI’s (landing craft infantry) and wade ashore between San Narciso and San Antonio on the west coast of Luzon on January 29, 1945, in a brilliant move calculated to cut off Bataan Peninsula and to capture the naval base at Olongapo. Tactical surprise was achieved to such a dress that not a man, ship or plane was lost in the landing.” 29 January 1945.

Long before the American invasion began, General Yamashita divided his Luzon forces into three groups, each centered around a remote geographical region. The largest of these groups and under the direct command of Yamashita was Shobu Group, located in northern Luzon with about 152,000 troops.

A much smaller force, Kembu Group, with approximately 30,000 troops, occupied the Clark Air Field complex as well as the Bataan Peninsula and Corridor. The third major force, Shimbu Group, consisted of some 80,000 soldiers occupying the southern sections of Luzon, an area that included the island’s long Bicol Peninsula as well as the mountains immediately east of Manila. Most Shimbu units were in the latter area and controlled the vital reservoirs that provided most of the capital area’s water supply.

 

On 31 January, X-ray Day, two regiments of the 11th Airborne Division, under the command of Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Swing, landed unopposed. The paratroopers seized a nearby bridge before the surprised Japanese defenders had a chance to demolish it, and then the paratroopers turned toward Manila. The division’s third regiment, the 511th Parachute, dropped in by air to join the advance, which by the following day was speeding north along the paved highway toward the capital to the cheers of throngs of grateful Filipino civilians along the way.

 

Originally the 11th Airborne Division, one of Lt. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger’s Eighth Army units, had been slated to contain Japanese troops throughout southwestern Luzon. But acting on MacArthur’s orders, Eichelberger pushed the division north.

Once they were on land, they started down Highway 17 toward Tagatay.  That journey consisted of approximately 30 miles of valleys, flat terrain of rice and cane fields, mountains and careful traversing along the crests of ridges.

The distance between Tagatay and Manila was about 37 miles, taking them passed Nichols Field before reaching Manila proper.  This was the main supply area for the Japanese troops and the city’s port was a crucial stop-off for the enemy on other islands.

Reference: “Rakkasans” & “The Angels: The History of the 11th Airborne” by: Gen. E.M. Flanagan Jr.; YouTube.com; U.S. Army; Hyperwar.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Delton Collins – Ashburn, GA; US Army, Korea, Co. E/187th RCT, Purple Heart, Chaplin (Ret.)

Robert Dunn – Danbury, CT; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

John F. Cox – Denver, CO; US Navy, WWII

William Hall – NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Roger Kissane – UK; RAF (Ret.), 249th Squadron

Stephen Reiman – Casper, WY; US Navy, Vietnam

Edwin Simpson – Rainvelle, WV; US Army, WWII

Richard Thomas – Kenosha, WI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Jerry Van Dyke – Danville, IL; US Air Force / actor

John Young – Orlando, FL; US Navy, Korea, USS Laws / NASA Astronaut (Ret.)

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8th Army – Gearing Up For Luzon

Gen. Eichelberger (C) w/ Gen. Swing (R)

21 January 1945 – Gen. Swing announced to his 11th Airborne Division that he was ordering up a review as they were transferring to the 8th Army and the reviewing officer would be none other than Gen. Robert Eichelberger.  Swing had received Field Order Number 17 which gave him the order to prepare for Luzon.

Luzon was the most populated, most highly developed and the historical island in the archipelago.  It was a land of wild boars, birds, snakes, reptiles, feral dogs, tons of insects and an enemy hiding within the cogon grass at every turn. (the plant had coarse spikes with “silky” hairs that made your skin feel as those hundreds of critters crawled beneath it.)  There was always a threat of dengue fever, that is contracted from a mosquito and if left untreated resulted in bleeding and death, and we can’t forget malaria.

The 6th Army, under Gen. Krueger, was already in the midst of all this trying to reach Manila.  MacArthur had told Eichelberger how upset he was at their slow progress to get to the capital and added, “speed up your ‘palsey-walsey,’ Krueger doesn’t radiate courage.”  Ergo – a rivalry was born and a race between the 6th and 8th Armies would exist – the problem was – the 11th A/B had been given more than one priority as their mission.

As X-Day approached, the pace of activity increased dramatically.  The division’s supply loading plan put the responsibility on the unit commanders.  The G-4, Roy Stout, set up a special section to load the 11th and all ran efficiently despite not knowing what vessels the Navy would be sending.  But on 25 January, most of the supply ships were completely loaded within 24 hours.

The LCI’s (Landing Craft Infantry), arrived at 0700 hours on 27 January and a convoy of almost 100 ships pulled out to sea that afternoon,under the command of Adm. Fechteler, and headed south through Mindanao Sea and then swung north.  The LCI’s were crowded and there were no cooking facilities, the men ate “10-in-1” rations rather than having the customary steak and eggs before a landing.

Most of the sailing days were spent in map study, planning and orientation.  All the troopers would be so well briefed on the terrain from aerial photographs and mock-up reliefs that their landing somehow felt like deja-vu.  Excess baggage was not carried – only what the men could carry on their backs.  Personal baggage would not be seen for 2 months.

General Eichelberger wrote his wife, Miss Em, of the beauty in watching the large naval convoy and he marveled at their expertise.  He noted the Navy’s ability to keep their sense of humor, despite the seriousness of their voyage.  Before landing on 31 January, he heard over the loud speaker system, “Sick call _ all sick, lame and lazy report to sick bay.”  He also commented that Gen. Swing was grand to deal with.

Eichelberger would write in his book, “Now the stage was set for what I regard as one of the most thrilling exploits for the Pacific War – the 11th Airborne’s dash for Manila”

References: “Our Road to Tokyo”, by Gen. Robert Eichelberger; “The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division,” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan Jr.

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Military Humor –

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Melton Austin – Live Oak, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Air-Sea Rescue Squad

Dave Barnett – Charlotte, NC; US Army, WWII, PTO

Charles Cooper III – Dover, DE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Capt., USS Hornet, Washington & San Diego

William Darr Jr. – Dyer, AR; US Army, WWII

Mihail Golin – Riga, LAT; US Army, Iran & Afghanistan, Sgt. 1st Class, KIA

Jacob Hagopian – Providence, RI; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea, Col.(Ret.), 11th A/B & 82nd A/B divisions

Ben Jones – Chestertown, MD; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Joseph Medina (103) – MN; US Army, WWII, PTO

Chester Roberts Sr. – Coatesville, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Ronald Scott – Claremore, OK; US Air Force, Vietnam, Col., pilot, Silver Star, KIA

Vito Truglio – Staten Island, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Shangri-la

Marjorie Harris White – Creswick, AUS; AWAS # 11483, WWII

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CBI Theater – January 1945

Here are snippets of what was going on in the China-Burma-India Theater at the opening of 1945.

Happy New Year, From Over “The Hump”

EAC HQ. – The light of a full moon gave EAC planes an opportunity to hit Jap-held railways, roads, rivers and airfields and smash enemy communication lines, as decisive daylight support was given ground forces on the Burma battlefronts this week.
B-25’s of the 10th Air Force strafed motor vehicles at night in North Burma. The 10th also hit enemy fields at Lashio during daytime, setting two planes afire.
The night intruders, composed of USAAF B-25’s and RAF Mosquitos, Beaufighters and Hurribombers, carried out their operations as far south as Hninpaze, near the mouth of the Sittang River.
Well over 150 sorties were flown in support of the 15th Indian Corps in its current drive in the Arakan.
On the Irrawaddy-Chindwin front, RAF Hurribombers attacked objectives on the road to Yehuphonu. The village of Tabayin was left aflame.

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 KANDY – Maj. Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer, commanding the American Forces in China, and Maj. Gen. George E. Stratemeyer, commanding the Eastern Air Command, have been awarded the Order of the Bath by King George VI, it was announced this week.

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US Infantry meeting up with the Mars Task Force

The 533rd Brigade (Provisional) was activated on 26 July 1944. It soon came to be known as the MARS TASK FORCE. It was designed as a Long Range Penetration Force and training, equipment and organization were all directed toward this end.

Mars Task Force

MARS was able to profit by the experience of Wingate’s Raiders and Merrill’s Marauders in Burma jungle operations. The leaven of veteran jungle fighters was mixed with the freshness of volunteers and the assignment of the 124th Cavalry Regiment.

FAMILY TIES

 1328TH ATC BASE UNIT, ASSAM – It’s usually the father who offers guidance and advice to the son, but the combination of the Army and India has proved too much even for such a stalwart tradition.
Cpl. Kadzie Goodwin arrived here recently on a change of station and not long afterward encountered his father, S/Sgt. William A. Goodwin, who he hadn’t seen for more than a year.
Now Kadzie, a ground radio technician in the Army Airways Communication System, guides his father, an aerial radio operator flying The Hump for the ATC’s India-China Division, over the treacherous transport routes between Assam and China.

The Chan brothers.

THE WOMBAT SQUADRON – The story of how two Burmese youths walked 900 miles over some of the most treacherous terrain in the world to evade the Japanese and join the American forces was revealed recently with the appearance of two new waiters in the officers mess hall at this “Liberators of China” field.

after 2 years, Mj. Arthur Walker (R) meets up with his son, Pfc. Peter Walker of the Mars TF, in Burma

TENTH AIR FORCE HQ, BURMA – Probably the first instance of twin brothers meeting in the I-B Theater after a long separation occurred recently when Eugene and Edward Crivaro, 19, of Carnegie, Pa., met each other at a base in Burma. In most cases, twins in the Army remain in the same outfit throughout their service.

Edward and Eugene Crivero

Pvt. Eugene, bomb maintenance man for a service group in China, requested and was granted permission to fly over The Hump. Arriving in Burma, he immediately began a quest for his twin whom he had not seen for 20 months. Using an APO number as a guide, Eugene was soon directed to a 10th Air Force fighter control squadron of which Pfc. Edward was a member. Reunion… at long last.
Eugene spent seven hours in the cold Atlantic waters a year ago when the ship taking him overseas was sunk by German torpedo bombs.

Football Round-up

Rice Bowl
GROUND FORCES BEAT SOS (Services of Supply)

Rice Bowl Champs

HQ CT & CC, CHINA THEATER — Capitalizing on two pass interceptions and a safety, the Army Ground Force, touch football champions of China, fought off a strong SOS team to win the New Year’s Day Rice Bowl classic, 16-0, before a large G.I. crowd.
Ground Force grabbed a slight edge, on a safety in the first Period, adding touchdowns on pass interceptions by Wolfe for 40 yards in the third and Bruner for 60 yards in the fourth. Ben Schall booted both extra points.
SOS often penetrated enemy territory but could not muster a score. Of 20 aerials they tossed in the second half, only four were completed.
The Lineups:
GROUND FORCE: Uhlen, Meyers, Autry, Petiit, Wolfe, Chapman, Schall, Bruner and Becker.
SOS: Crowe, Demski, Harding, Roland, Snyder, Staley, Hardee, Sleteher and Heckman.

Information from CBI Theater.com and CBI Roundup.  Clark King & Gary Goldblatt also have a CBI website.

Clark King & Gary Goldblatt

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – CBI Style – 

Oh sure – they’re real.

Oops! Not enough money for this place!!

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Florence Blohm – Wooster, OH; US Navy WAVES, WWII

Peter Carrie (102) – Dundee, SCOT; RAF, WWII, ETO, Flt. Engineer / CBI, Tank Corps

Alan Dick – NZ; RNZ Air Force, Wing Commander (Ret.)

Raymond Evans – Stollings, WV; US Army, Vietnam

Harry Hanen – Alberta, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Keith Iwen – Milwaukee, WI; US Navy, WWII

Mancel King – Agra, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-24 pilot

William Marshall – Vine Bluff, UT; US Navy, WWII

Edward Reimuth Jr. – Poughkepsie, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 7th Infantry & 11th Airborne Div.

Harold Wilbur – New Castle, DE; US Navy, WWII / US Coast Guard, Korea

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Kiwis Over the Pacific

Flight Officer, Geoff Fisken

During early World War II operations in the Pacific, Geoff Fisken would become one of the most outstanding pilots of the RNZAF—the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Fisken was born in Gisborne, New Zealand, in 1918, and during the 1930s he learned to fly a de Havilland Gypsy Moth biplane. In 1939, Fisken was working for a farmer in Masterton, and at the outbreak of war in Europe he volunteered for flying duty.  In October 1941, as the threat of war with Japan was increasing, No. 67 Squadron was moved to Mingaladon, Burma, but Fisken was posted instead to No. 243 Squadron RAF.

With the Japanese attacks across East Asia and the western Pacific on December 8, 1941, No. 243 Squadron was assigned to defend the Royal Navy’s Force Z––the battleship HMS Prince of Walesand battlecruiser HMS Repulse. Two days later the British warships were attacked and sunk by Japanese air units. Then, as the Japanese advanced down the Malay Peninsula, Singapore became the target of an increasing number of bombing raids.

RNZ on Guadalcanal

After continuous missions,  No. 243 Squadron had lost the majority of its pilots and virtually all its aircraft. As a result, it was merged with No. 453 Squadron of the RAAF, which continued to operate along with No. 488 Squadron RNZAF.  Fisken claimed another fighter destroyed on February 1. Five days later he was bounced by two Japanese fighters, shooting down one while narrowly escaping the other, though he was injured in the arm and leg by a cannon shell. On the eve of Singapore’s surrender, Commonwealth pilots were withdrawn to Batavia (now Jakarta), Java, and later to Australia. As a result of his performance in Singapore, Geoff Fisken received a commission and was promoted to the rank of pilot officer.

Fisken was just one of hundreds of New Zealanders––Kiwis––who loved nothing more than a good brawl but of whom little is known today outside their island nation.

“Too Young To Die” by Bryan Cox

Many of you history buffs out there already have “Too Young To Die” by Bryan Cox or have seen a book review and already know The story of  Flight Sergeant Bryan Cox, who suffered a failure of both his radio and lights during the return flight but happened to stumble upon the landing strip at Green Island just as he was nearly out of fuel. It was not only a fortunate day for him, but also his 20th birthday. Below is another story of that day…

Bryan Cox (19), WWII

Continually fighting throughout the war, on January 15, 1945, during a strike on Toboi Wharf in Simpson Harbor at Rabaul, conducted by aircraft of Nos. 14 and 16 Squadrons flying from Green Island and No. 24 from Bougainville––a total of 36 Corsairs––one was knocked down by antiaircraft fire. The F4U was piloted by Flight Lieutenant Francis George Keefe of No. 14 Squadron, who managed to bail out, landing in the harbor.

An exceptional swimmer, Keefe struck out for the harbor entrance. For some time he made good progress. Then, in the middle of the afternoon, by which time he had been swimming for six hours, the tide and wind changed and he began to drift back up the harbor.

RNZAF on Green Island

A rescue force had been quickly organized while sections of Corsairs kept watch overhead to prevent Japanese attempts to capture Keefe. Two bamboo rafts were assembled and loaded aboard a Ventura at Green Island, intended to be dropped to the downed pilot.

As two Corsairs orbited above Rabaul awaiting the arrival of the Ventura, an American Catalina pilot circling just beyond the harbor entrance spotted Keefe and twice requested permission to land and pick him up. The request was denied both times by the officer in charge, Squadron Leader Paul Green, the commander of No. 16 Squadron, due to the threat posed by Japanese coastal and antiaircraft guns.

RNZAF doing maintenance after a Rabaul mission

When the Ventura arrived, it was accompanied by another 12 Corsairs, whose task was to strafe the Rabaul waterfront while the Ventura dropped the rafts. Everything went as planned, but Keefe failed or was unable to reach the rafts. The rescue was then aborted, and all aircraft were directed to return to base.

Approximately halfway back to Green Island, the Corsairs encountered a tropical storm front stretching across the horizon and down to sea level. Due to limited navigation aids, the aircraft were required to maintain a tight formation as the storm and darkness reduced visibility. The pilots could only see the navigation lights of the other aircraft in their flight.

Five of the Corsairs crashed into the sea, one crashed at Green Island as it was making its landing approach, and a seventh simply disappeared. The lost pilots included Flight Lieutenant B.S. Hay, Flight Officer A.N. Saward, Flight Sergeant I.J. Munro, and Flight Sergeant J.S. McArthur from No. 14 Squadron and Flight Lieutenant T.R.F. Johnson, Flight Officer G. Randell, and Flight Sergeant R.W. Albrecht from No. 16 Squadron.

RNZAF on Espiritu Santo

After the war, it was reported by Japanese troops captured at Rabaul that Keefe had managed to swim ashore. With a wounded arm, he was taken prisoner and died a few days later.

From September 3, 1939, to August 15, 1945, a total of 3,687 RNZAF personnel died in service, the majority with RAF Bomber Command flying in Britain and over Europe. The RNZAF had grown from a small prewar force to over 41,000 men and women (WAAFs) by 1945, including just over 10,000 serving with the RAF in Europe and Africa; 24 RNZAF squadrons saw service in the Pacific. On VJ Day, the RNZAF had more than 7,000 of its personnel stationed throughout the Solomons and Bismarcks.

The Kiwi airmen had not only fought proudly against their Japanese foes, but also carved out a place for themselves among their much larger Allies—Britain, Australia, and the United States—as they wrote their names into the history of the Pacific air war.

Click on images to enlarge.

Information from: ‘WWII Magazine’ and ‘Too Young To Die’ by Bryan Cox. Another excellent resource you might wish to look into “Kiwi Air Power” by Matthew Wright.

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Earl Baugh – Searcy, AR; US Navy, WWII, SeaBees

Avadon Chaves – Modesto, CA; US Army, Iraq, Spc., 1/6/2nd Brig. Combat Team

Raymond Debenham – Kalapol, NZ; RNZ Navy # 14075

RNZAF Airtrainers perform farewell flight

David Fail – Manawatu, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 412665, WWII

Bruce McCandless – Boston, MA; US Navy, Cuba, pilot / NASA, astronaut

Peter O’Donnell – Auckland, NZ ; RNZ Air Force # M83478

Bryan Raos – Te Kauwhata, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 459204, Flight Lt.

Robert Scott – Linwood, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 414822, WWII

John Sweeney – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 452589, WWII

Jerry Yellin – Newark, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 78th Fighter Squadron, P-51 pilot

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