First-hand account: Okinawa

Louis Meehl, WWII

It wasn’t always the enemy they had to contend with…

Louis Meehl

After the war started, I decided I had to get into the service, this didn’t make my folks very happy, especially my dad, but I just had to go.  So, I enlisted in the Army Air Corps.  They made me a gunner and sent me to the Pacific.  I flew on A-20’s in the 417th Bomb Group, B-24’s in the 90th and B-25’s in the 38th.  I was on the islands all through the western Pacific, New Guinea, the Philippines, the Ryukyus, and even up to Japan later on.

It was after the war had ended and we’d moved up to an airstrip on a little island called Ie Shima, right next to Okinawa.  It was the island where Ernie Pyle was killed.  We were living there in the usual primitive conditions that we’d put up with on all the islands – tents, C and K rations, nothing to do but fly missions.  The airstrip there was right near the beach, well, the island was so small that everything was right near the beach, and of course our tents were close to the coast.

Ernie Pyle, le Shima

We got word that a storm was coming and the pilots flew our squadron’s planes off somewhere.  The rest of us on the flight crews and the ground crews were left behind to fend for ourselves.  The wind started blowing, the rain was coming down, and we were trying to hold on to our tents to keep them from blowing over,

Well, it turned out this storm was a typhoon and the wind blew stronger and stronger, and the rain was being driven horizontally.  What a storm!  I’d never experienced anything like it.  After a while, we couldn’t hold the tents up anymore.  First one of the tents blew down, then another, and pretty soon all the tents were down, and we were outside in the weather.

There was no other shelter – our bombing and the Navy’s shelling when we’d taken the island had flattened all the trees and it was just bare sand and rock.  And the wind just kept blowing harder!

Okinawa, naval typhoon damage

Next thing we knew the tents and everything inside them started to blow away, right off the island and out into the ocean.  We just couldn’t hold on to them under those conditions – the wind just ripped anything out of our hands if you tried to hold on to it.  So after the tents and everything was gone, all we could do was huddle together and try to protect ourselves.  It was like we were just a bunch of wet, cold sheep huddled together – and the wind kept blowing even harder.

We’d rotate the guys on the outside of the huddle toward the middle because the rain was being blown so hard it hurt when it hit you.  We all took our turns on the outside of the group.  Some of us had bruises from that rain afterwards.

Okinawa, typhoon tent

 

[ I was unable to locate le Shima photos of the storm, hence the Okinawa pictures.  I suppose everyone’s camera went to sea. ]

This seemed to go on for hours, and the whole time we just stayed there huddled together,  When the wind and rain finally started to let up, it dawned on us that everything we had was gone.  I had a lot of photos from all the islands we’d been on, some souvenirs, and of course the rest of my clothes and personal effects, and they were just gone.

Our planes came back and they flew in more tents for us, but later when I shipped back to the States I didn’t have much more to take home with me that the clothes I had on the day the storm started!

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Bernice Cooke – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, nurse

George C. Evans – Bay Village, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Reynaldo ‘Chita’ Gonzolaz – Newton, KS; US Army, Korea, Sgt., 2nd Division

Peter Hanson – Laconia, NH; US Army, Vietnam, Captain, 101st Airborne Division

Christopher Knoop – Buffalo, NY; US Army, Desert Storm, 810th MP Co., communications

Donald Ottomeyer – St. Louis, MO; US Army, Lt., 101st Airborne Division

John D. Roper – Nashville, TN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Westmoreland & Pontiac

Juan Serna Sr. – Pharr, TX; US Army, WWII / National Guard (Ret. 25 y.)

Michael Stickley – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, Vietnam

Pansy Yankey (100) – Brashear, TX; Civilian, North American Aviation, WWII, drill press operator

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Okinawa 75 years ago

Front page of Stars and Stripes, 22 May 1945

By PFC. WILLIAMS LAND | STARS AND STRIPES May 22, 1945

Stars and Stripes presents these archive reports as they were written by the reporters in the field. The graphic and politically incorrect language used may be offensive to some readers.

Editor’s Note: A fortnight ago Bill Land, one of our battlefront reporters, learned that he was a father. Back to us by radio came this story of Oki’s orphans. Unable to go home to see his own daughter in Baton Rouge, La., Bill let himself go on Oki’s orphans – being left to die by the Sons of Heaven. But the GIs wouldn’t let the kids die… 

Front page, 15 May 1945

OKINAWA – Here’s a story you could call “The Children’s Hour.” Ever since I got that radio about my new baby daughter I’ve had in mind writing a children’s story, especially since the material is so plentiful.

It is said that there are more children on Okinawa than there are goats, and, brother, that is some statement.

Very rarely does one see a woman who isn’t carrying either a born or unborn child around and most of the time it’s both.

For doughboys and leathernecks, the care of children started on the first day of the invasion, and from the way it keeps on, it looks as though “the Children’s Hour on Okinawa” will outlast Lillian Hellman’s play on Broadway.

Medic on Okinawa, 1945

Military government has even set up an orphanage, probably the first the island has seen.

“Since the natives showed interest only their own babies, we had to do something to care for children whose parents were killed or missing,” said Army Capt. W. W. McAllister of Iowa City, Ia., the officer in charge.

Nipples are made from surgical gloves and the orphans seem to take kindly to their new diet of canned milk through a glove.

In another part of the island, Chief Pharmacist’s Mate Hugh Bell of Iberia, La., found himself playing the role of a mother when his outfit, a Marine reconnaissance unit, was scouting for suspected enemy installations and suddenly came upon a whole colony of natives hiding in a cave. Most of them were starving and sick and 35 children required immediate medical attention.

Bell, being the only “doctor in the house,” had all of them on his hands. For 24 hours he treated them, giving them plenty of food and feeding them canned milk while his buddies drank their coffee black.

“The kids thought I had used magic to fix them up,” he said, “and followed me around whenever I went. The headman of the group of cave dwellers told the unit command later that Bell was called “Mother” whenever they referred to him.

It is not at all a strange sight to see kids running around in cut-off GI woolen underwear or rompers made of fatigues, but Sally’s diapers made of green camouflage cloth really take the cake. Sally’s one of the orphans.

Sitting on the hard coral rock playing with the ration can, it looks as if she selected a soft tuft of grass to place her little behind on.

Pfc. John J. Stroke of Olmsted Falls, Ore., found her. She’s a two-year-old girl, and Stroke supervised her bath and sprinkled her with anti-vermin powder. Then, with the help of marine fatigues, a jungle knife and couple of pins, he went into the diaper business.

Marine First Lieutenant Hart H. Spiegal of Topeka, Kansas, uses sign language as he tries to strike up a conversation with two tiny Japanese soldiers captured on Okinawa. The boy on the left claims he is “18” while his companion boasts “20” years.

With most able-bodied Japs in the Imperial army or navy there seems a definite shortage of obstetricians among civilians and therefore many deliveries have to be performed by American soldiers and medics.

Relating his first attendance at childbirth here, First Class Pharmacist’s Mate Richard P. Scheid of Napoleon, O., warned, “I knock down anybody who calls me a mid-wife.”

As in the play, “The Children’s Hour,” and everywhere else, for that matter, there are good little children and naughty ones.

The other day, Sgt. Elvis Lane, marine combat correspondent from Louisville, Ky., ran across a couple of them who didn’t want to take to the American way of life at first. Dressed in a ragged Jap soldiers’ suits, they kept hoping to fight the “American devils” who were soon to be blasted by superior Japanese power.

That night, enemy units attacked the camp in which the two boys were staying and the air was filled with screams of the Jap wounded, the rat-tat-tat of machine gun fire and explosions of hand grenades. When morning came, the boys stared in horror at the Jap bodies and one of them said:

“Jap is a big liar. I think my brother and I want to be like our father – farmers.”

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Current News –

6th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosives Ordnance Disposal Team

Live missile found at Lakeland, Florida airport.

https://www.tampabay.com/news/hillsborough/2020/08/17/live-missile-found-at-lakeland-airport-awaits-disposal-at-macdill/

 

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lucy Amat – Providence, RI; US Army WAC, WWII

Michael Burke – Montreal, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, radar mechanic, attached to RAF 106th Squadron

Richard Gentz – Jackson, MI; US Navy, Admiral (Ret. 33 y.), pilot, Naval Academy grad ’57

Warren “Bud” Henke – South Bend, IN; US Army, WWII, ETO, 2 Silver Stars, Bronze Star

Harold Mendes – Cleveland, OH; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

Bryan Mount – Parawan, UT; US Army, Iraq & Syria, Calvary scout/gunner, Sgt. KIA

John E. Norman – Powell, TN; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Patrick Tadina – Fayetteville, NC; US Army, Vietnam, CSgt. Major, 2 Silver Stars

Floyd Welch – Burlington, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Maryland, Pearl Harbor survivor

Henry Zajac – Elyria, OH; US Merchant Marines, WWII, Merchant Marine Academy graduate

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National Airborne Day 16 August 2020 80 years

The history of United States Airborne Forces did not begin on the training fields of Fort Benning, Georgia, as some believe. In fact, the origin of Airborne Forces in the U.S. military began with a familiar name to American military history, Brigadier General William L. “Billy” Mitchell (1879-1936).

As well as being considered the spiritual father of the United States Air Force, which he advocated for fiercely during his tenure in the military, BG Mitchell was the first to imagine airborne tactics and sought the creation of U.S. Airborne Forces.

Billy Mitchell

It is not recorded exactly when he organized a demonstration of Airborne Infantry for U.S., Russian and German observers. However, according to records at Ft. Benning, Georgia, it is confirmed that BG Mitchell held the demonstration “shortly after World War I” at Kelly Field, in San Antonio, Texas. During the demonstration, six soldiers parachuted from a Martin Bomber. After landing safely, the soldiers assembled their weapons and were ready for action in less than three minutes after they exited the aircraft.

Reprinted and broadcast countless times, High Flight is regarded as one of the world’s great war poems and the greatest anthem of aviation. It is the official poem of the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. First year cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy are required to memorize it. Extracts have been quoted in a variety of occasions. The most famous example occurred on Jan. 28, 1986, when President Ronald Reagan, speaking of the Challenger, Space Shuttle disaster, closed his address with the sentence: “We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of Earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’”

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

of sun-split clouds, – and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,

I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air . . .

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

Where never lark nor even eagle flew –

And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

– Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

 

AIRBORNE ALL THE WAY !

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.”

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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Military, Airborne Humor – 

Para-Toast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Abney – Richmond, IN; US Army, Vietnam, 173rd Airborne Division, Purple Heart

Lynn Adams – Pocatello, ID; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division

James Cook – OH; US Army Air Corps, Japan Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

William Farrell – Augusta, GA; US Army, WWII & Korea, 504/82nd Airborne Division, US Army War College grad, Capt. (Ret. 20 y.)

Trevor Goldyn – USA; USMC, Bahrain, Sgt., 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade

Albert Hayden – Capr Giradeau County, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Hershel Hegwoods – Forest, MS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 11th Airborne Division, Purple Heart

John Latham (100) – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 mechanic, TSgt. (Ret.)

Debrah Lepley – Coshocton, OH; US Army, 101st Airborne Division

Allan Stoll – Bossier City, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

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Follow up story for the Battle of Savo Island

Eric Geddes and his crew

With thanks to Pierre Lagacé for finding this information.  [Should anyone require research on WWII, especially the ETO, this is the man to know!]

Battle of Savo Island in art

 

 

https://richardharmervfn101.wordpress.com/2020/08/10/bloody-savo-revisited-sole-survivor-fights-to-clear-wwii-shadow/

Battle of Savo Island

Sole survivor fights to clear WWII shadow

For the follow-up video….

https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/sole-survivor-fights-to-clear-wwii-shadow/4468200

Eric Geddes WINS!!!

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-27/raaf-veteran-wins-fight-to-clear-crews-name/5844958

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Donald Arnold – Des Plaines, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO

Shirley Hugh Barker (104) – Beloit, WI; US Army, WWII, 82nd Airborne Division

Raymond Dietrich – Muscatine, IA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Ira Edmondson – Texarkana, AR; US Army, WWII, 42nd “Rainbow Division”

Jack Frisch – Colorado Springs, CO; US Army, German Occupation, 547th Ordnance / NFL running back

Philip A, Goddard – Morrisville, VT; US Army, Medical Unit/82nd Airborne Division, doctor

Carl Humpfer Jr. – St. John, IN; US Navy, WWII / US Army, Korea

Kenneth Kokrine – Tanana, AK; US Army, Vietnam, radioman

Charles Mirachi – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Enterprise / Civilian, US Navy

Ronald Perry – New Haven, CT; US Army, Vietnam, 1st Calvary, Col. (Ret.), Silver Star, 2-DFC’s, 3 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart

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The Wreck of the IJN Chokai

IJN Chokai, 1942 -by: Paul Wright

Chokai was the last of the four-strong Takao class of heavy cruisers built for the Imperial Japanese Navy in the late 1920s. Imperial Japanese designers worked for several years under the restrictions of the Washington Naval Treaty to make warships that were superior in quality to their American and British opponents, but the tonnage limitations imposed by the treaty made designs that would satisfy the General Staff almost impossible.

In WWII,  Chokai participated in several of the early operations in Southeast Asia, including convoy escort, assisting in the Hunt for Force Z, and the destruction of ABDA forces.

In March 1942, the IJN made a raid into the Indian Ocean with impressive results. The British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, the heavy cruisers Cornwall and Dorsetshire, and the destroyers Tenedos and Vampire were all sunk. Additionally, several ports were raided on the island of Ceylon and the Indian mainland, and more than 25 merchant vessels were sunk for the loss of around 25 Japanese aircraft.

After a short refit at Yokosuka, Chokai was assigned to the occupation force for the Midway Invasion operation, with the intention of providing support to the Special Naval Landing Forces while they assaulted the atoll. However, the destruction of the Kido Butai and the resulting loss of Japanese air cover on June 4th resulted in the failure of the operation, and Chokai returned to Japan.

IJN heavy cruiser Chokai at Ruk 20 Nov. 1942, Yamato in background

On the night of August 9th, Chokai acted as the flagship for Vice Admiral Mikawa as the 6th Cruiser Division went into the Battle of Savo Island, a mostly one-sided beating of the Allied naval forces in the waters off the island.  Four Allied heavy cruisers were sunk (CanberraAstoriaVincennes, and Quincy) by the combined weight of gunfire and torpedoes from the Japanese force, and another survived with heavy damage. Despite the surprise of the attack, two Japanese cruisers were damaged by return fire, including ChokaiQuincy and Astoria succeeded at hitting Chokai’s Number I turret, disabling it and killing 34 of the crew inside. Repairs are made at Rabaul over the next several days.

For the rest of 1942, Chokai participated in bombardments of Henderson Field and escorted Tokyo express convoys to the island. For several more months most of Chokai’s time was spent escorting convoys, and in some minor refits that added newer radar and more AA guns.  In June 1944, she was part of the Mobile Force at the Battle of the Philippine Sea, a colossally one-sided battle that saw the loss of three Japanese aircraft carriers, three more carriers damaged, damage to several surface combatants, and the loss of more than 700 aircraft. Chokai emerged unscathed from the battle.

 

October 1944 would see the end of Chokai. In an effort to halt the American landing on the island of Leyte, the IJN put together a massive operation to divert the main striking power of the US navy away from the island, so that their battleships and cruisers could attack the vulnerable transport ships in the gulf.

IJN Center Force departing Brunei Bay, Borneo, for P.I. 22 Oct. 1944 w/ Yamato & Musashi

The Center Force under Admiral Takeo Kurita comprised four battleships (including Yamato and Musashi, the largest battleships ever built), ten heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and fifteen destroyers. Despite two devastating attacks on the 23rd and 24th by American submarines and aircraft (which sank two of her sister ships and critically damaged another), Chokai made it into the gulf for what would have been the main event.

During the Battle off Samar on October 25th, the Center Force totally failed to utilize its advantage in survivability and firepower and was turned back by the boldness and audacity of the Americans in the small task forces that were supporting the marines on the island. For the loss of an escort carrier, two destroyers, a destroyer escort, several aircraft, and damage to several other warships, the Japanese lost three more heavy cruisers and another three were seriously damaged.

At 0558 the Center Force opened fire on Taffy 3, by 0850 Chokai started to take 5” shellfire from the guns on the escort carriers and destroyer escort Roberts. It is probable that several of them were from USS White Plains (CVE-66).  Less than ten minutes later, reports indicate a large explosion, long believed to be from Chokai’s torpedoes detonating from a near hit by a 5” shell. Her engines and rudder were disabled, and she fell out of formation. At 0905, a flight of four TBM Avengers from Kitkun Bay scored a hit with a 500 pound bomb on the stern, and they reported billowing smoke.

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Towards the end of the hour, the heavy cruiser Tone reports that Chokai is dead in the water. Kurita orders the destroyer Fujinami to escort the stricken cruiser away a few minutes after 1000, and the destroyer takes off the survivors. At last, at 2148 hours Fujunami reports that she had scuttled Chokai with torpedoes.

But even after their ship was sunk, Chokai’s crew weren’t safe. On October 27th, while diverting to pick up more survivors from another lost Japanese ship, aircraft from USS Essex attacked Fujinami in the afternoon. Fujunami was sunk with all hands, including all of the survivors from Chokai.

On May 5th, 2019, the R/V Petrel located Chokai at a depth of 16,970 feet (5,173 meters), and on May 30th they conducted an ROV survey of the wreck.  Chokai is resting upright, her bow broke off in front of the Number I turret and is resting about 980 feet (300 meters) away, an aircraft catapult also broke away, and the rear deck has fallen in.

Aside from that, most of the ship is in one piece.

 

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Military Humor – Navy Chief style – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Leon Ahlquist – Scarborough, ME; US Navy, WWII, USS Antietam

Daniel H. Bergolc – Euclid, OH; US Army, Iraq & Afghanistan, Captain, 2 Bronze Stars, 2 Purple Hearts

Jack Childress – Ridgeland, MS; USMC, WWII, PTO, 1st marine Division, 3 purple Hearts

Robert Dishmond – Science Hill, KY; US Army, Korea, 101st Airborne & 3rd Infantry Division

Charles Gwinn – Silverdale, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/674 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Norris Halstead – Notomine, WV; US Navy, WWII

Fred Kerhoff – Lena, IL; US Army, WWII

Laverne Mertz – Walnut, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Oliver Williams Jr. – New Orleans, LA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Hutchins

Thomas Francis Wills – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII, ETO & PTO, radioman 1st Class, USS Upshur Inshore Patrol/10th ND/Navy 116; USS Chickadee, Monitor & Dyess

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Current News – 75th Anniversary of the end!

The 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II Commemoration, which includes events in Washington, D.C., and Honolulu, Hawaii, will continue with adjustments and safety precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to organizers.

The events in Hawaii – which will include aerial parades and a dinner – will begin Aug. 29 and end Sept. 2, the anniversary of the official end of World War II. A ceremony will be held on the USS Missouri, the ship on which the official surrender documents were signed in 1945.

B-29 bomber “Fifi”

“Commemoration events are in place to pay tribute and thank our veterans of World War II, the Greatest Generation, for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States,” Mike Carr, president and CEO of the Battleship Missouri Memorial, said in a press release. “We have worked very hard to ensure this important anniversary would not go unnoticed and look forward to recognizing those who fought for our ultimate freedom.”

World War II veterans attending events in Hawaii or Washington, D.C., will have a “travel bubble.” For Hawaii, that means a 14-day quarantine once arriving in the state, which is now required for all people entering Hawaii. For Washington, D.C., Block said there are ongoing conversations with veterans and their families about who will attend and how that will happen.

B-25 Mitchell bomber “Old Glory” being lifted aboard the USS Essex for trip to Hawaii.

“We have had some [flyover] pilots come forward and say, ‘Well, if [the veterans] want to go I’ll bring them in my private aircraft.’ So they wouldn’t be flying commercially, and some of them live close enough where they could drive,” Block said.

“It’s such an honor. It’s just a really, really epic thing to be part of,” Block said. “And I know everybody really, really wanted to do it this year, particularly.”

The B-17 Flying Fortress, the P-47 Thunderbolt and the B-29 Superfortress are among the about 60 airplanes scheduled to take part in the September flyover. The aircraft will fly in various formations, which represent the war’s major battles. The aircraft are expected to be over the Lincoln Memorial at 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 25.

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Major Bill White, USMC, 105.

Oldest Living Marine Veteran, Major Bill White, celebrates his 105 birthday with a drive-by parade in Inglewood, CA

His name will be familiar to many, as he received tens of thousands of Valentines cards from many of you!!

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Purple Heart Day –  7 August

Purple Heart

Veteran and military organizations hold remembrance meetings for fallen heroes and special events to thank soldiers, veterans, and Purple Heart recipients on this day. Many people fly the American flags at their homes and businesses as a way to show their solidarity with the troops.

The Purple Heart Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, recommends donating time and money to the foundation or to other organizations working with Purple Heart recipients and their families on this day. They also encourage people to listen to soldiers and veterans and learn more about their life stories and their military service.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph T. Allbaugh – Folsom, CA; US Army, Afghanistan, 1st Lt., 2/44/108th ADA Brigade, KIA (Kandahar)

Marion Beall Jr. – Bronson, TX; US Navy, WWII, Corpsman w/ 1st Marine Division

HONOR

Modesto “Mike” Chemotti (106) – Solvay, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Fred DePonte – New Haven, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO, 128th AAA Gun Battery, weapons specialist, Purple Heart

John Fruzyna – Northlake, IL; US Army, Korea, HQ Co./187th RCT

Thomas Hatfield Jr. – Lutcher, LA; US Coast Guard, WWII, Seaman 2nd Class

Kathleen Hunter – Thunder Bay, CAN; RC Army, WWII, nurse

Alexander Klass – Willamina, OR; US Army, Operation Joint Guardian, Pfc., 2/162/41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, KIA (Kosovo)

Davis Sanders – Burlington, WA; US Navy, WWII, aviation metalsmith

George Viney – Lawton, OK; US Army, WWII, PTO, 2 Silver Stars, Bronze Star, Colonel (Ret. 32 y.)

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Sports in the WWII Military

1926 Army/Navy game ticket, Nimitz Museum

The relationship between sports and the American armed forces reached a climax during WWII The military broadened its athletic regimen, established during  WWI, and thereby reproduced a patriotic sporting culture that soldiers had known as civilians. The armed services provided equipment, training, and personnel rather than rely on private agencies, as had been done in WWI.  The entry of numerous prominent athletes into military service represented a public relations boon for the Department of War and cemented a bond between professional sports, athletes, and patriotism.

American football was glorified as everything masculine and befitting the U.S. military experience. As organized sports became even more closely linked with fitness, morale, and patriotism, both within the ranks and on the home front, football became a fixture on military bases at home and abroad. Football was the favored sport among the military brass, as Generals George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, and Omar Bradley all thought that football produced the best soldiers. Army and Navy were the two leading collegiate football powers during the war (Army was unbeaten from 1944 to 1946) and their games were broadcast over Armed Forces Radio.

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For the 11th Airborne Division, Gen. Swing ordered a Japanese auditorium to be transformed into the 11th Airborne Coliseum. The complex was large enough to hold a theater that would seat 2,500, four basketball courts, a poolroom with 100 tables, a boxing arena that held 4,000 spectators, six bowling alleys and a training room.

In the fall of 1945, an Olympian was held in Tokyo for all the troops stationed in Japan and Korea. Football became the highlighted game. The 11th A/B Division coach, Lt. Eugene Bruce brought them to winning the Japan-Korea championship. They then went on to take the Hawaiian All-Stars in Mejii Stadium with a score of 18-0. This meant that the 11th Airborne Division held the All-Pacific Championship. The troopers went on to win in so many other sports that by the time the finals were held for the boxing tournament at Sendai, the headlines read in the Stars and Stripes sports section:
Ho-Hum, It’s the Angels Again”

Fellow blogger, Carl D’Agostino at “i know i made you smile”, sent me his father’s pictures and information.  Arthur D’Agostino had been with the 8th Armored Division.  They were stationed at Camp Campbell, KY until 1943, when they were moved to Camp Polk, LA to prepare for combat.  The division was sent to the European Theater on 5 December 1943, but Mr. D’Agostino was in recovery from surgery and was spared the journey.  Tank Sergeant D’Agostino became a middleweight boxing instructor and gave exhibitions around the camps.  Carl’s blog can be found HERE.  I know he’ll make you laugh!

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4 August 1790 – 2020   U.S. Coast Guard Birthday – th (8)

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2015/08/03/us-coast-guard-225th-birthday/

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Military  – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frank L. Athon – Cincinnati, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc. # 486357, Co. A/6/2nd Marine Division, KIA (Tarawa)

Raymond Battersby – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, coxswain, USS Adair

Traditions of Honor & Respect

Herman Cain – Memphis, TN; Civilian, US Navy ballistics analyst / media contributor, President candidate

Clarence Gilbert – Oklahoma City, OK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, POW / Korea

Lucille Herbert (100) – Manchester, NH; US Army WAC, WWII, 2nd Lt., nurse

Joe Kernan – South Bend, IN; US Navy, Vietnam, USS Kitty Hawk, pilot, POW, 2 Purple Hearts / mayor, governor

Conrad Robinson – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, Operation Joint Guardian, SSgt., medical specialist, 155/26/44th Medical Brigade, KIA (Kosovo)

Vinson Rose – Menifae County, KY; US Army, Vietnam, Sgt. Major (Ret. 22 y.), 82nd & 101st Airborne, 1964 Soldier of the Year, 4 Bronze Stars

Catherine Smalligan – Detroit, MI; Civilian, US Navy Recruiting Office (Kalamazoo)

Floyd Warren – North Bloomfield, OH; US Army, WWII, Lt. Col., Purple Heart, Bronze Star

Those lost to us during the Camp Pendleton training exercise…..

— Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 19, of Corona, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU.

— Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

— Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wis., a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU.

— U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, Calif., a hospital corpsman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

— Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21, of Bend, Ore., a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

__ Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 20, New Braunfels, TX; USMC, rifleman with Bravo Co./ BLT

— Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 23, of Harris, Texas, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

— Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 19, of Portland, Ore., a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

— Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

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187th Rakkasans – part (4)

Rakkasans for life!

In March 2010, the 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain), Vermont National Guard, joined Task Force Rakkasan units in Paktya province as a battle space owning unit in AO Rakkasan. Task Force Avalanche conducted 65 major named operations, over 4,300 combat patrols and 9 air assault operations, including Task Force Rakkasan’s largest combined air assault operation of the deployment in support of Operation Champion Stone.

During OEF X-XI, Soldiers earned or were nominated for 132 Army Commendation Medals (Valor). 44 Soldiers were decorated with the Bronze Star Medal (Valor). Additionally, two Soldiers were decorated with the Silver Star Medal. Nearly 1,600 individual Task Force Soldiers earned combat badges for participating in direct combat against the enemy for the first time. Almost 1,100 Combat Infantryman Badges (CIB), over 1,300 Combat Action Badges (CAB), and 117 Combat Medical Badges (CMB). As a testament to the sacrifice, troopers from Task Force Rakkasan made in service to the nation, 229 Soldiers earned Purple Hearts for battle injuries. 17 Task Force Rakkasan Soldiers paid the ultimate price.

 

Units
Headquarters and Headquarters Company “Samurai Rakkasans”
1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment “Leader Rakkasans”
2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment “White Currahee Rakkasans”
3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment “Iron Rakkasans”
1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment “War Rakkasans”
21st Brigade Engineer Battalion “Rak Solid Rakkasans”
626th Brigade Support Battalion “Assurgam Rakkasans”

Col. John Cogbill, MGen. Brian Winski & Col. Brandon Teague, Fort Campbel. Changing of command._ Avery Seeger photo

In August 2019, the Rakkasans received a new commander, Col. John Cogbill, who has commanded the unit for two years, will pass the brigade colors to Col. Brandon Teague.

“For the past two years, it has been an honor and privilege to serve as commander of this outstanding organization,” said Cogbill. “This brigade has a unique mission, with Soldiers currently training for unknown missions anywhere in the world. Initially it was for a U.S. Central Command mission, later, focused readiness, with focus in East Asia, transitioning to a Regionally Aligned Forces focus in support of Africa Command. During my tenure, we were the most ready brigade in the Army, and as such, would have been one of the first to be called. I’m proud of this team and all they’ve done, and all they will do in the future.”

Colonel Brandon Teague

“It is my distinct honor to take command of this historic organization,” said Teague. “I look forward to continuing to build upon the strong legacy of this brigade and preparing our Soldiers for our next rendezvous with destiny.”

A last minute item I discovered from the Rakkasans – Awards received for their field culinary creativity!!

https://www.army.mil/article/237559/top_dog_training_field_feeding_equipment_integral_part_of_rakkasan_contest

It is because of the heroic service of these brave airborne soldiers that the colors of the Regiment fly proudly, fifteen Citations for Valorous and Meritorious service and twenty three Battle Campaign Streamers. No other Airborne Regiment can equal that record and the Rakkasans stand proudly at, and have earned, “the right of the line”, amongst their sister Airborne Regiments, ever mindful of their Regimental motto.

”Ne Desit Virtus” — “Let Valor Not Fail”!

They have not —– and shall not

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

To be continued by forthcoming generations, we hope…

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – We can all make a difference!  American Legion

https://alaforveterans.wordpress.com/2020/07/27/virginia-junior-provides-handwritten-thank-you-cards-for-servicemembers/

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Alfred Altmiller – Lipscomb County, TX; US Navy, WWII

Carl Davis Jr. – Sidney, OH; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt. (Ret. 20 y.)

Charles Evers – Jackson, MS; US Army, WWII / mayor

George M. Fisher Sr. (100) – Bedford, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Co. B/44th Tank Battalion / Korea, (Ret. 21 y.)

Jack Halpin – Washington D.C.; US Navy, WWII, PTO / CIA (Ret.)

William Jenkins – Conway Springs, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, gunner’s mate, USS Corregidor

Lillian Meidinger – Huntsville, AL; Civilian, Civil Air Patrol, WWII, pilot

Jack Park – Flint, MI; US Army, WWII, PTO

Sidney Schlain – Hartford, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO

Marjorie Watson (101) – Taradale, NZ; Red Cross, WWII, PTO & ETO, Nurse # 820748

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187th Rakkasans – part (3)

By the Persian Gulf War in 1990, the 101st Airborne, along with the Rakkasans of the 3rd Brigade had converted from airborne to air assault troops. During that 100 days of ground combat, the 1/187 Infantry conducted an air assault 155 miles behind enemy lines to Objective Weber capturing over 400 Iraqi soldiers on February 25, 1991. (48 years to the day after they were formed).  The operation into the Euphrates River valley cut off the retreating enemy out of Kuwait. The Rakkasans had advanced further than any other Allied unit, proven the viability of the air assault on the modern battlefield, and did so without a single soldier killed in action.

As part of the Global War on Terror (GWT), the Rakkasans deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in December 2001. As such, the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne became the first Army brigade to deploy in the ongoing war on terror. The Rakkasans fought against the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, which included Operation Anaconda in March 2002.

Rakkasans in the Gulf War

Seven months after their return from Afghanistan, the 3rd Brigade deployed to Kuwait for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF1). On March 20, 2003 the Rakkasans led the 101st Airborne Division into Iraq, establishing Forward Area Refueling Points (FARPs) to support deep attacks into Iraq. They seized the city of Hillah and participated in the liberation of Saddam Hussein International Airport before going on to occupy portions of Baghdad. The BDE then moved to western Ninewah province along the Syrian border for the remainder of the deployment, establishing fledgling governance and reconstruction projects for the betterment of the local population, while continuing operations against insurgents.

The 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division returned to Fort Campbell in early 2004 and was reorganized under Army Transformation as the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT). The 3BCT then began a train up for returning to Iraq. They deployed in September 2005 for OIF rotation 05-07. During this year-long deployment the Rakkasans fought the growing Sunni insurgency in Salah Ad Din Province, which included Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit.

The Rakkasans deployed again to Iraq for OIF 07-09 as part of the Iraq Surge in September 2007. This rotation took the 3BCT to southwest and southern Baghdad between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. This time the brigade was deployed for 15 months and conducted operations against both Sunni and Shia insurgents.

The Rakkasans returned home in November 2008. After their fourth refit and re-training period since 9/11, the 3d Brigade Combat Team deployed again in January 2010. This time they went to Afghanistan in support of OEF 10-11 as part of Regional Command-East near the Afghan-Pakistan border. The Rakkasans were home in early 2011, but redeployed to Afghanistan again in September 2012. They came home to Fort Campbell in May 2013 and are again preparing for their next deployment.

The banner under the distinctive unit insignia of the 187th Infantry Regiment (Airborne) bears the Latin words Ne Desit Virtus, meaning “Let Valor Not Fail.” The soldiers of the 187 Infantry from every era have certainly upheld their motto.

To be continued………

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

George C. Allen – Morgantown, WV; US Army, WWII, ETO, 7th Army

James Boak – Kosk-onong, MO; USMC, WWII

2020 POW/MIA poster unveiled

Glen E. Collins – Tucson, AZ; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Heavy Mortar Co/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Hugh Dischinger Sr. – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, fighter pilot

John E. Gillen – Champaign, IL; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., Co D/1/6/2nd Marine Division, KIA (Tarawa)

Mejhor Morta – Pensacola, FL; US Army, Pvt., mechanic, 1/5/2/1st Cavalry Division

Regis Philbin – NYC, NY; US Navy, supply officer / TV personality

John Haig Robinson – TeAwamutu, NZ; RNZ Navy, WWII, HMNZS Achilles

Roy Shibata – Denver, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, / Civilian, US Army

Charles Wood – Redwood City, CA; US Army, WWII, SSgt., HQ Battery/899th Field Artillery Battalion / actor

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187th Rakkasans – part (2)

HQ Co./187th Reg. from the 1943 Yearbook

The 11th Airborne Division, along with the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment, was returned to the United States in 1949. The 11th Airborne Division was stationed at Camp Campbell, Kentucky. Along with the 82nd Airborne Division, the 11th was part of the strategic reserve of the American Armed Forces. In February and March of 1950, the Rakkasans took part in Operation Swarmer, the largest peacetime airborne maneuvers ever to be conducted. Their performance in these maneuvers was instrumental in being re-designated an Airborne Regimental Combat Team on August 27, 1950. The 187 Airborne RCT returned to Japan to serve as General MacArthur’s airborne forces during the Korean War. While attached to the 1st Marine Division, the 187 RCT followed up on the success of the Inchon Landing, clearing the Kimpo Peninsula between the Han River and the Yellow Sea.

Paratroopers of the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, seated in the cargo compartment of 314th Troop Carrier Group C-119 “Flying Boxcar,” “sweat out” the flight to the dropzone at Munsan-ni, Korea, in March, 1951, ca. 03/1951.
Credit: National Archives

On October 20, 1950 the 187 Regimental Combat Team made combat jumps near the towns of Sukchon and Sunchon in North Korea in the attempt to cut off fleeing communist forces. The Rakkasans fought named engagements at Suan, Wonju, Kaesong, and Inje. In Operation Tomahawk the 187th Airborne made the second combat parachute jump of the Korean War at Munsan-ni on March 23, 1951. The regiment returned to Japan to serve as the strategic reserve in June 1951. In May 1952, the Rakkasans were ordered to quell a North Korean and Chinese Communist prisoner of war (POW) uprising on the Japanese island of Koje-do. The 187 was inserted to the line on two other occasions, in October 1952 and June 1953, as a stop gap against Chinese offensives at Wonton-ni and Kumwha.

187th jumps on Munsan, Korea

During their time in the Korean War, the Rakkasans were awarded a Presidential Unit Citation and two Korean Presidential Citations, as well as earning five more Battle Streamers for their flag. Three soldiers from the 187th were awarded the Medal of Honor: Lester Hammond, Jr., Rodolfo Hernandez, and Richard Wilson. Their success in Korea re-energized the belief in using paratroopers as a strategic response. Soon after, the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina was reactivated.

During the early 1960’s, the Rakkasans were part of a series of transfers and re-designations to help experiment with new division formations for the Cold War. This included being part of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test). By 1964, the 3/187th Airborne was the only battalion of the regiment on active duty. They were assigned to the 3rd Brigade of the newly reactivated 101st Airborne Division. The 3rd Brigade, which included the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 506th Airborne, deployed to Vietnam in December 1967.

Tribute to 3/187th , Vietnam

The Rakkasans spent the next four years in Vietnam, fighting in twelve major engagements. They earned two Valorous Unit Awards and two Presidential Unit Citations for the battles at Trang Bang and Dong Ap Bia Mountain. The latter is better known as “Hamburger Hill.” Another Rakkasan, Captain Paul W. Bucha, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions near Phuoc Vinh in March of 1968. The 101st Airborne, along with the 3/187, returned to Fort Campbell in 1972.

To be continued……

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

Airborne, 2nd Point of Performance – Check Canopy

Airborne, 3rd Point of Performance – Lookout during descent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Billy Brooks – Cherokee County, AL; US Army, Corps of Engineers, SSgt. (Ret. 30 y.)

Thomas R. Cross (101) – WY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 517th PIR, Colonel (Ret.)

Douglas Ferguson – Weyburn, CAN; RAF/RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, navigator

Arthur Graydon – Illawar, AUS; Australian Army, WWII

Harry Gustafson – Brockton, MA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS YMS-193/Korea USS Columbus/Vietnam USS America, Sr. Chief Petty Officer (Ret. 27 y.)

Alva R. Krogman – Worland, WY; US Air Force, Vietnam, 1st Lt., pilot, 504/7th Air Force, Air Force Academy grad. ’64, KIA (Laos)

Paul McCormack – Covington, LA; US Army, Co. A/503/11th Airborne Division

George Pinto – E.Hartford, CT; US Navy, WWII, USS Lyman K. Swenson

John “Art” Romig – Ubly, MI; USMC, WWII, PTO

Vernnette Stodtmeister – Sioux Falls, SD; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

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