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Occupation – Olympiad and Comfort !

11th Airborne troopers attempting to start a coal-burning vehicle.

 

While some of the troopers continued to await the arrival of the good ole’ American jeeps to replace the coal-burning vehicles in Japan, General Swing was striving to make the occupation as bearable as possible. They had endured some horrendous hardships and accomplished more than anyone expected from them and he felt they deserved whatever he could provide. On his orders, a Japanese auditorium was 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.

Front gate of HQ Camp Schimmelpfennig

Aside from the sports theme, the coliseum contained a Special Services office, a snack bar, a Red Cross office and a library. I can just picture my father spending some off-duty time in the poolroom or bowling alley. When I was growing up, we had a pool table in the basement and Smitty would teach me how every shot was related to angles and geometry. My aim improved – once I figured it out.

NCO Club

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”

Matsushima Park Hotel

On the reverse side of the photo seen above, Smitty wrote, “This is the hotel where we are now staying. That dot in the driveway is me.” The 11th A/B commander had made his home here on 16 September. After the occupation, it re-opened for business as a hotel, but unfortunately was destroyed by fire on 2 March 1969.

Smitty on far right

Smitty on far right

The division had a reputation for mission accomplishment despite being nearly half the size of other divisions. This was often attributed to their somewhat unorthodox methods. This carried over into their occupation of Japan. General Swing converted an old Japanese factory and had it turning out American-style furniture for the troops. General Headquarters wasn’t very happy about the project because they wanted the Japanese to build furniture for the entire command. But Swing was not one to wait for all the red tape. After General Eichelberger inspected the better-than-GHQ- standard brick barracks under construction, he said to Swing, “Joe, I don’t know whether to court-martial you or commend you.” (Later on, he was commending Swing.)

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Military Humor – 

TO GO BEFORE WE LEFT!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Verne Budahn – Mankato, MN; US Air Force, Korea, Airman 2nd Class, KIA

Harvey Dumsday – Toronto, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, ETO

Edward Fischer – Park Forest, IL; US Navy, WWII, LST Quartermaster

Lyman Hale Jr. – Syracuse, NY; US Army, Korea, Medical Corps

Leo Latlip – Hallowell, ME; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Missouri

Walter McGill Jr. – Norwich, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO / Korea

Ray Rigby – Rexburg, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-29 Flight Engineer

Clarence Roberts – Brownwood, TX; US Navy, WWII, USS Wisconsin

Philip Schwhitzer – York, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Medical/221/11th Airborne Division

Ebert VanBuren – Monroe, LA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 96th Infantry Division

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Japanese Surrender

11th Airborne Recon Battalion Honor Guard, Missouri 9/2/45

The above photo shows the 11th Airborne Reconnaissance Battalion Honor Guard as they presented arms to the Allied and Japanese delegations upon their arrival.

General Douglas MacArthur, despite the irate fuming of the Soviets, was to be the Supreme Commander in Japan for the Occupation and rebuilding of the country. No occupational zone was given to the Russians irregardless of their protests. The Soviets were insisting that they were to receive the Kuriles and Hokkaido in Northern Honshu as their ‘spoils of war.’ Stalin sent an emissary with these plans to MacArthur, who in reply threatened to sent the messenger back to Moscow rather than allow him to remain in his observer status. Stalin also sent a telegram to Truman with the same demands. At first, the president felt he would just ignore the irrational request, but then decided to just send a negative reply. The Soviet plan for the takeover was in effect until 23 August, when the Russian leader realized that Admiral Nimitz controlled the Japanese waters and he would be risking an armed conflict.

Men crammed the USS Missouri for the surrender.

At 0700 hours on Sunday morning, 2 September, guests to the Japanese surrender ceremony began arriving as destroyers pulled up to the USS Missouri and unloaded their passengers, military officers and correspondents from around the globe. At 0805 hours, Admiral Nimitz climbed on board and MacArthur at 0843. Finally, the Japanese delegation went up the starboard gangway at 0855. Foreign Minister, Mamoru Shigemitsu, using a cane and in agony because of a poorly fitted artificial leg, and General Umezu were followed by nine representatives, three each from the Army, Navy and Foreign Office. They paused, awaiting directions, each wearing a Shiran Kao (nonchalant face). The proceedings began at precisely 0908 hours with men draped from the decks and 450 aircraft from Task Force 38 roaring above in the overcast skies.

An invocation was read by the ship’s chaplain with the entire company standing at attention and a recording of the “Star-Spangled Banner” played through the speakers. Kase, the Foreign Minister’s secretary, felt his throat constrict upon seeing the number of small painted Rising Suns on the bulkhead. Each miniature flag represented a Japanese plan or submarine destroyed. Admiral Tomioka wondered why the Americans were showing no signs of contempt for them, but also, anger seared through him at the sight of the Soviet presence. The eyes of General Percival and Colonel Ichizi Sugita (interpreter) locked as they both remembered an earlier surrender and their painful memory at the Ford factory in Singapore.

Generals Wainwright and Percival stood with MacArthur as he began to speak, “We are gathered here to conclude a solemn agreement whereby Peace may be restored…” (There was a brief interruption by an inebriated delegate [thankfully NOT American] who began making faces at the Japanese.)

When the general had finished and the U.S. and Japan had signed the documents, as if on cue, the sun broke through the clouds. The next to sign was China, Britain, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands and New Zealand. MacArthur announced, “These proceedings are closed.” He then leaned over to Admiral Halsey and asked, “Bill, where the hell are those planes?” As if the pilots could hear the general’s irritation – 400 B-29s and 1,500 aircraft carrier planes appeared out of the north and roared toward the mists of Mount Fujiyama.

Aircraft flyover for surrender proceedings.

MacArthur then went over to another microphone to broadcast back to the United States, “Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended…” Japan’s delegates, now no longer considered the enemy, were saluted as they left the quarterdeck.

MacArthur making history

Resources: “The Last Great Victory” by Stanley Weintraub; “The Rising Sun” by John Toland; Wikicommons.org; ibilio.org; USS Missouri.com; Everett’s scrapbook; “The Pacific War” by John Costello

Remember to click photo if larger view is required.   Thank you for stopping by.

 

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Historical note – Almost a century before these proceedings, Commodore Perry had opened the West’s door to Japan. In commemoration of this, Admiral Halsey arranged for the actual Stars & Stripes, flown by Perry’s flagship in 1853, to be flown out to Japan for the ceremonies.

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Note of Interest – Truman was very pleased that the “USS Missouri” was chosen for the momentous occasion. It was one of the four largest battleships in the world, it was named after his home state and christened by his daughter, Margaret. (I find it hard to believe that this was just a coincidence.)

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Humorous note – On 1 September, the “Missouri’s” gunnery officer, Commander Bird, held a dress rehearsal for the ceremonies with 300 of the ship’s sailors. Everything went well until the band began to play the “Admiral’s March.” The stocky chief boatswain’s mate nicknamed, Two-Gut,” froze in his steps and scratched his head saying, “I’ll be damned! Me, an admiral!”

When the real Admiral Nimitz came aboard, he nearly went unnoticed. In desperation, Commander Bird shouted, “Attention, all hands!” Everyone on the ship became so silent that you could hear the waves lapping at the ship’s hull.

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Military Humor – 

“INCOMING”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Thomas Burnette Jr. – Atlanta, GA; US Army, Vietnam, Lt.Gen. (Ret.), West Point grad. 1968 / Pentagon

Frank Fogg Jr. (100) – Carney’s Point, NJ; US Navy, WWII & Korea, Chief Petty Officer (Ret. 22 y.)

Lee Gustafson – Cleburne, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/127 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Eleanor Harpring – MYC, NY; Civilian, USO, WWII, ETO

Frak Klobchar – MT; US Army, WWII

John Leak – Hickory Creek, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Marlin Marcum – Daytona, FL; USMC, WWII, PTO

James Owens – Phoenix, AR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Sea Bee

Vernon Skoglund – Seattle,m WA; US Army, Vietnam, 508th Infantry Airborne, fireman

Donald Wagner – Fort Thomas, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 82nd Airborne Division

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11th Airborne Division in Japan

Smitty’s, Broad Channel, NY

Atsugi Airfield, Japan

 

Just as General Douglas MacArthur said to Gen. Robert Eichelberger that it was a long road to Tokyo, so it was for Smitty. Yes, the stretch from Broad Channel to Camp MacKall and finally Atsugi Airfield was a long and arduous road, but here, the 11th Airborne Division arrives in Japan to begin the Occupation and to help start the rebuilding of a country.

Aerial view, Atsugi Airfield

With the initial arrival of the division, rarely was a female between the ages of 8 and 70 seen on the streets. The Japanese had heard their government’s propaganda for years as to the American looting and raping, so they were understandably afraid of the conquering troops. But many were confused about the peaceful attitude of the soldiers and a member of the 511th regiment was stopped one day by a Japanese officer, he asked, “Why don’t you rape, loot and burn? We would.” The trooper answered that Americans just don’t do that.

Yokohama, 1945

With the New Grand Hotel surrounded by troopers, the manager and his staff bowed to Gen. MacArthur and his party and directed them to their suites. Tired and hungry from their long flight, the Americans went to the dining room and were served steak dinners. Gen. Whitney remembered wanting to take MacArthur’s plate to make certain it hadn’t been poisoned. When he told the general his concern and intentions, MacArthur laughed and said, “No one can live forever.”

The hotel would become his headquarters and later that evening, MacArthur told his staff, “Boys, this is the greatest adventure in military history. Here we sit in the enemy’s country with only a handful of troops, looking down the throats of 19 fully armed divisions and 70 million fanatics. One false move and the Alamo would look like a Sunday school picnic.” (The fact that nothing happened, I believe, said quite a bit about Japanese integrity.)

The division Command Post was moved from the Atsugi Airfield to the Sun Oil Compound in Yokohama. This compound had about 15 American-style homes complete with furniture, dishes, silver and linens. The senior staff officers were not so fortunate. They were put up in warehouses on the docks, often without heat.

In the Philippines, the Japanese emissary General Kawabe, finished their surrender talks. Kawabe’s aide, Second Lt. Sada Otake, introduced himself to a Nisei G.I. standing guard outside. The guard, in response, said his name was Takamura. Otake said he had married a Nisei by the same name and did he had a sister named Etsuyo? The guard nodded and Otake said, “I’m her husband. Look me up in Japan.” And the brothers-in-law shook hands. (Small world or fate?)

Smitty @ Sun Oil

On the reverse side of this photo, Smitty wrote: “A picture of the General”s gang taken in the

Smitty (2nd from left) and rest of the crew

living room at Yokohama. Reading left to right – baker, first cook, Mess Sergeant, me headwaiter and on the floor, second cook. Those glasses you can see were always full. You can’t beat this Japanese beer.

Tokyo Rose – on the air

On 1 September, newsmen Harry Brundige and Clark Lee, with the help of a Japanese newsman, located Tokyo Rose with her husband in their hotel, the Imperial. Brundige offered her $2,000 for an exclusive interview for “Cosmopolitan” magazine. She agreed and together they typed out 17 pages of notes. The editor of the magazine was so astounded that Brundige had made a deal with a traitor that he rejected the story. The notes were handed over to Lee, who wrote his own version of the story for the International News Service.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Archer – Coffeyville, KS; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Ronald Best (100) – Whangarei, NZ; RNZ Army # 280763, WWII

Robert Carman – Wheeling, WV; US Army, WWII, field artillery

Andrew Hooker – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, Vietnam, helicopter crew chief

Emil Kamp – St. Louis, MO; US Army, WWII, Sgt.

Raymond Lane Sr. – Ashland, VA; US Air Force, Vietnam, Tech. Sgt. (Ret. 20 y.)

Roy Markon – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt., 88th Division, Purple Heart

Edward Salazar – Colton, CA; US Army, Vietnam, 1st Cavalry Division

Lawrence Taylor – Stevensville, MT; US Navy,WWII, PTO, corpsman

Leo Zmuda – Somerset, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

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Armed Forces Day – 18 May 2019

18 MAY, 2019, BEING ANOTHER PART OF MILITARY APPRECIATION MONTH, IS CALLED ARMED FORCES DAY.

THE FIRST ARMED FORCES DAY WAS CELEBRATED 29 MAY 1950 (one month before the start of the Korean War).  ARMED FORCES WEEK BEGINS ON THE 2ND SATURDAY OF MAY AND ENDS THRU THE 3RD SATURDAY.  Due to their unique schedules, the NATIONAL GUARD & THE RESERVE units may celebrate this at any time during the month.

18 May 2019

PRESIDENT DWIGHT DAVID EISENHOWER, 1953 –  “Today let us, as Americans, honor the American fighting man.  For it is he or she – the soldier, the sailor, the Airman, the Marine – who has fought to preserve freedom.”

If you do NOT normally fly your flag everyday, make this day one that you do!  Even a small one sitting in your window shows your heartfelt feelings toward our troops.

If you are not from the U.S., tell us about the days you honor your military in the fight for freedom – help us to learn by sharing.

 

 

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Military Humor –

‘Every war game scenario I’ve run has you picking up the check.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes-

Michael Andrews – Altoona, PA; US Navy, WWII

Charles Drapp – Piqua, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co/511/11th Airborne Division

William Dunn – Dunning, NE; US Army, Korea

Gerald Golden – Graceville, FL; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Orville Levengood – Lewiston, MO; US Navy, WWII

Sam Mitsui – Sky Komish, WA; Tule Lake internee / US Army, 4th Infantry Division

Mary Olson – OH; US Navy WAVES, WWII, Instrument Flight Instructor

Frank Perkins – Farmer’s Branch, TX; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd & 101st A/B divisions, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, 1st Sgt. (Ret. 20 y.)

William Schmatz – Bronx, NY; US Army, Korea, 82nd Airborne Division

Russell Tetrick – Redwood Falls, MN; USMC, WWII, PTO

Wibert Woolard – Gastonia, NC; US Army, WWII

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11th Airborne Division’s End of WWII Honor – part (2)

11th Airborne’s flag atop Atsugi hanger

General Swing, Commander of the 11th A/B, brought with him on the plane a large American flag and a banner painted, “CP 11th Airborne Division” to be fastened onto the roof of airplane hangar. He was dressed in battle fatigues and “11th A/B” was stenciled on his helmet. He carried a .38 pistol and a bandoleer of .38 caliber shells draped across his chest. (As ready for combat in Japan as he was on Leyte and Luzon.) A Japanese officer approached him as he departed the plane. The officer saluted and introduced himself as Lieut-General Arisuye, the officer in control of the Atsugi sector. He then asked the general what his current orders would be and Gen. Swing lost no time in telling him.

Gen. Swing (l) & Gen. Eichelberger (r) with Japanese detail

American POWs had been left unguarded at their prisons just days before. Two hours after Gen. Swing’s arrival, two POWs walked into the CP. (command post). They had taken a train from the prison to Tokyo. No Japanese soldiers or civilians approached them along the way.

Later that day, Colonel Yamamoto presented himself as the chief liaison officer; both he and his aide were still wearing their swords. Gen. Swing ordered them to remove their weapons. Yamamoto arrogantly protested and insisted on explaining that the sword was his symbol of authority. Swing repeated his order, but with a more firm and commanding tone of voice and the two Japanese men complied immediately.

Yokohama

The 11th A/B then proceeded on to Yokohama where the Allied Headquarters was to be established. The fifth largest city of Japan was now little more than a shantytown after the persistent Allied bombings. In fact, most of the towns and cities resembled the crumbled remains seen in Europe. Yokohama and Tokyo would become sites for the Allied Military Tribunal trials for the Japanese war criminals, similar to those held in Nuremberg for the Germans.

The trucks waiting for the men at Atsugi airfield to be used as transportation between Tokyo and Yokohama mostly ran on charcoal and wood. Only a few vehicles still operated on gasoline. They were consistently breaking down and the fire engine that led General MacArthur’s motorcade was said to look like a Toonerville Trolley.

Toonerville Trolley

Below, the photograph from the New York “Daily News” show the 11th A/B in front of the New Grand Hotel and on the right, one of the many vehicles that constantly broke down. The date written on the picture is the issue  my grandmother cut them from the paper, not the dates the pictures were taken.

11th Airborne guarding MacArthur’s hotel CP

General Swing wanted to view his newly arriving troops farther down the runway from where he was, when he spotted a Japanese general exiting his car. Seconds later, ‘Jumpin’ Joe’ hopped into the backseat. The interpreter translated from the driver to Swing that the limo was reserved for the Chief of Staff of the Imperial Army. Swing roared in returned, “Goddamn it, we won the war. Drive me down the strip.” Once in front of his troops, Swing exited the car and the Japanese captain said, “Well sir, Generals are alike in all armies.”

The 11th Airborne band set up for the arrival of General Douglas MacArthur at 1400 hours. When the general’s plane the ‘Bataan’ landed, the five-star general paused at the door wearing his pleated khakis, his shirt unbuttoned at the neck and the garrison hat with the gold encrusted visor crown. (In other words – his typical attire). There were no ribbons clipped to his shirt, but the customary corncob pipe hung from his lips at an angle. He then descended, shook hands with Gen. Eichelberger and quietly said, “Bob, from Melbourne to Tokyo is a long way, but this seems to be the end of the road.  This is the payoff.”

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Fleming Begaye Sr. – Chinle, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker

James Bramble – Los Alamos, NM; US Army, WWII, Manhattan Project

Bernard Dargols – FRA & NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Melvin Gibbs – Sylva, NC; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret. 21 y.)

Estella Jensen – Arlington, WA; Civilian, WWII, Boeing machinist & welder

Frank Manchel – San Diego, CA; US Army, Sgt., WWII

Bob Maxwell – Bend, OR; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star, 2 Purple Hearts, 2 Silver Stars, Medal of Honor

Edd Penner – Springfield, MO; US Army, WWII

Carmine Stellaci – Morristown, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/188/11th Airborne Division

Spencer Wilkerson – Lancaster, PA; US Army, WWII, 28th/2nd Cabalry

11th Airborne Division’s End of WWII Honor – part (1)

Jeep stockpile

Okinawa, as one of the islands being “beefed-up” with supplies, men and materiel, quickly became significantly congested; it is only 877 square miles, but soon they would be minus the 11th Airborne Division.  MacArthur had decided the 11th would be the first to land in Japan, with the 187th Regiment leading off.

General Swing was not certain how the enemy would take to him and the 187th regiment landing in Japan as the first conquerors in 2000 years, so the men were ordered to be combat ready. Besides staying in shape, they spent many an hour listing to numerous lectures on the Japanese culture.

Western Electric ad 1945

15 August, Washington D.C. received Japan’s acceptance of the terms of surrender. Similar to the Western Electric advertisement pictured, phones and telegraphs buzzed around the world with the news that WWII was over, but reactions varied. Among the men on Okinawa, there was jubilation mixed in with ‘let’s wait and see.”

In Japan, most felt relieved, but others committed suicide to fulfill their duty.  Russian troops continued to push into Manchuria to get as far into the area as possible before the Allies could stop them.

Troops in Europe were elated to hear that they were no longer being transferred to the Pacific and South America began to see the arrival of Nazi escapees and the United States went wild with gratitude.

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

During the initial meeting, the Japanese were instructed to have 400 trucks and 100 sedans at Atsugi Airfield in readiness to receive the 11th Airborne. This caused much concern with the dignitaries. Atsugi had been a training base for kamikaze pilots and many of them were refusing to surrender. There were also 300,000 well-trained troops on the Kanto Plain of Tokyo, so MacArthur moved the landing for the 11th A/B to the 28th of August; five days later than originally planned.

There was much discussion as to whether or not the 11th Airborne would fly into Japan or parachute down. Troopers tried jumping from the B-24s on the island, but it proved to be an awkward plane for that purpose. To carry the men to Japan and then return was impossible for the C-46, therefore C-54s were brought in from around the world and crammed onto the island.

11th Airborne Honor Guard, 9/2/1945

GHQ ordered General Swing to form an honor guard company for General MacArthur. Captain Glen Carter of the 187th regiment became the company commander. Every man was required to be 5′ 11″ or taller.

18-20 August, the Soviet army overran the Kwantung Army in central Manchuria, taking three cities in three days. They continued south in the quickest campaign of Soviet history, killing 80,000 Japanese.

28 August was to be the intended date for U.S. arrival in Japan, but two typhoons put a snafu on the trooper’s strategies. My father recalled, during their prolonged stay on the island, meeting some of the 509th Bomber Group. They did not wish to be known in Japan as those that dropped the A-bomb.  What they had witnessed through their goggles seemed to be a nightmare straight out of “Buck Rogers. The airmen requested an 11th A/B patch to sew over their own before entering Japan.  Smitty said he gave away a lot of patches;  he felt they were just men who carried out their orders.

Asugi Airfield 1945

The Emperor was wary of any fanatical emotions that might still be lingering within the kamikaze pilots. Therefore, he sent his brother, Prince Takamatsu, with a team to dismantle the propellers from their planes to prevent any “heroics” from occurring before MacArthur’s plane, the Bataan, was scheduled to land. The previously all-powerful Japanese Army had had such control over the country for so long that these precautions had to be fulfilled to ensure a peaceful occupation. This was all carried out while the Emperor still believed he would be executed as a war criminal.

28 August 1945, Japanese officers signed the surrender documents in Rangoon to finalize Japan’s defeat in Burma. On islands throughout the Pacific, enemy troops surrendered in droves to American and British authorities in the following days. Most of the men were malnourished and ill.

THE JAPANESE SURRENDER IN BURMA, 1945 (SE 4821) Brigadier E F E Armstrong of British 12th Army staff signs the surrender document at Rangoon on behalf of the Allies. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205208318

30 August, due to the latest typhoon, the first plane carrying the 11th A/B does not leave Okinawa until this date. Colonel John Lackey lifted off Kadena Airfield at 0100 hours with General Swing on board. The 187th regiment, upon arriving at Atsugi Airfield (just outside Tokyo), after their seven hour flight, immediately surrounded the area and the Emperor’s Summer Palace to form a perimeter. The 3d battalion of the 188th regiment, the honor guard and the band showed up to prepare for MacArthur’s arrival.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joshua Braica – Sacramento, CA; USMC, SSgt., 1st Marine Raider Battalion, KIA

Keith Cousins – New South Wales, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, 212 RAF, 458,43 & 34th Squadrons

William Dyer – Westbrook, ME; US Army, WWII

Hans Kappel – Sunnyside, NY; US Army, Korea, 3rd Infantry Division

Francis Lynch – Appleton, WI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division & 25th Infantry Division

Hug C. McDowell – Washington D.C. – USMC, Lt., 1st Light Armored Recon Battalion/1st Marine Division, KIA

Norman Nolan – Boston, MA; US Navy, WWII, ETO & PTO, gunner/Korea, USS Incredible, (Ret. 20 y.)

Robert Ramsey – Falling Rock, WV; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Purple Heart

Herman Smith – MS; US Army, WWII, ETO

Samuel Zambori – Mount Sterling, OH; US Navy, WWII

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The 11th Airborne on Okinawa

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

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

11th Airborne

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

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

Jeeps being stored

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

Okinawa cave (in good weather)

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

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

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

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

Wilsey Lloyd – Florence, CO; US Navy, WWII

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

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

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

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

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Lady Luck’s Unlucky Day

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

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

IHRA

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

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

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11th Airborne Division – rumors fly

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

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

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

Gen. Joseph M. Swing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“TOO MUCH BEER LAST NIGHT, MISS PRINGLE?”

“DAMN THESE G.I. LATRINES!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

11th Airborne Memorial at Tagatay, P.I.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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11th Airborne Paratrooper – Melvin Garten

Col. Melvin Garten

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Media’s self-importance never dies

An Associated Press photographer died. He was the fellow who took the picture of a fully armed paramilitary immigration enforcement officer taking a screaming child of six by force who was hiding with an adult in a closet, as the Clinton administration had no compunction about separating a Legal Immigrant from his family on American soil.

The Associated Press ran a 749-word obituary on the photographer, Alan Diaz. It was an interesting story — AP hired him after he took the SWAT team-crying kid photo.

But the story was a bit much, and a reminder of the media’s overblown sense of importance. The word iconic appeared four times.

Which brings me to a story I read about Melvin Garten, a real hero. His death brought no AP obituary because he never got a byline:

Toby Harnden, the Times of London reporter who has covered war with the troops and United States politics with equanimity, tweeted on May 6, 2015: “Trumpeter, food blogger, actress, golfer get New York Times obits today, but this man has his death notice paid for by family.”

The man whose family had to pay for his obituary was Melvin Garten, the most decorated and forgotten soldier at the time of his death.

Heroes are born and made. Melvin Garten was born May 20, 1921 in New York City, where he became another smart Jewish boy attending City College of New York.  Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, greatly altered his immediate plans. Upon graduation from CCNY, he joined the Army and became a paratrooper with the 11th Airborne Division.  He then married his girlfriend, Ruth Engelman of the Bronx, in November 1942. She was a war bride. Everyone said the marriage wouldn’t last, and they were right because the marriage ended on January 9, 2013 — the day she died.

Melvin and Ruth Garten

Melvin went off to the Pacific Theater of the war, where he participated in what can only be described as an audacious airborne raid of Los Banos in 1945, rescuing more than 2,000 U.S. and Allied civilians from a Japanese prison camp. He was a highly decorated soldier, earning the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, a Presidential Unit Citation and the Purple Heart with three Oak Leak Clusters for his wounds in battle. He was tough and handsome and courageous.

As would war. At dawn on Sunday, June 25, 1950, with the permission of Stalin, the North Koreans crossed the 38th parallel behind artillery fire. Melvin was back in combat. Captain Garten proved his mettle again as commander of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.  President Eisenhower awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross.

The citation reads: “Captain Garten distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces near Surang-ni, Korea, on 30 October 1952. On that date, observing that assault elements of Companies F and G were pinned down by withering fire on a dominant hill feature, Captain Garten voluntarily proceeded alone up the rugged slope and, reaching the besieged troops, found that key personnel had been wounded and the unit was without command. Dominating the critical situation through sheer force of his heroic example, he rallied approximately eight men, assigned four light machine guns, distributed grenades and, employing the principle of fire and maneuver, stormed enemy trenches and bunkers with such tenacity that the foe was completely routed and the objective secured. Quickly readying defensive positions against imminent counterattack he directed and coordinated a holding action until reinforcements arrived. His inspirational leadership, unflinching courage under fire and valorous actions reflect the highest credit upon himself and are in keeping with the cherished traditions of the military service.”

Pork Chop Hill

Having served at Luzon and Pork Chop Hill, Captain Garten came home and the family moved around. Ruth took care of her men.

“I never even bought my own clothes,” Melvin told Mike Francis of the Oregonian a few months before her death. “I never went shopping. It was not a part of my life. As an Army wife, she took care of those things.”

Their sons were in their teens when the Vietnam War erupted. Melvin earned his Combat Infantry Badge for the third time — perfect attendance as those men with that distinction of serving in those three wars called their service. The Army put him in command of the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry in 1968 and he reinvigorated the unit, calling it the No Slack battalion.

Just as he almost completed the turnaround, his jeep ran over a Vietcong mine, sending shrapnel to his leg and to his head. Another war, another Purple Heart, only this time it cost him his leg. The military sent him to Walter Reed to recuperate.

Ruth went alone, shielding her sons from the news, as they were in college. She wanted to see how he was. Melvin was in horrible condition. His head wound was more serious than their sons realized. For nearly a year, he worked to recover from the explosion. Melvin wanted to stay on active duty as a one-legged paratrooper. She supported his decision. They had to appear before a medical board. Ruth told the Oregonian, “When I got there, they wanted to know only one thing. ‘Was he as difficult a man before was wounded as he is now?’ one board member asked. ‘No difference,’ I answered. And he passed.”

His assignment was as post commander of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home of the Airborne and Special Operational Forces, a nod to his sterling and exemplary service under fire.

Gen. Eichelberger (C) w/ Gen. Swing (R) planning the raid of Los Banos

Melvin retired as the most decorated man in the Army at the time with the Distinguished Service Cross, four Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, five Purple Hearts, two Legion of Merits, two Joint Service Commendations, a Combat Infantry Badge for each of three wars, and a Master Parachutist Badge with two combat jump stars. Melvin paid dearly for those awards, but so did Ruth. She was one of the few women to receive five telegrams over the years informing her that her husband was wounded in combat. And by few, I mean I do not know of another.

But his retirement in Florida began three wonderful decades for them. In 2000, Ruth and Melvin moved to Oregon to live near their son,  Allan. Doctors diagnosed her as having Parkinson’s. Mike Francis interviewed Melvin and their sons 11 months before her death. Melvin said, “All these things she put up with. All the things she did for the family. She kept our lives going for 70 years. ”

Following her death on January 9, 2013, the family buried her in Arlington, where all our military heroes belong. He joined her there following his death on May 2, 2015.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Para-Toast.

‘I count only four parachutes. Where’s Mr. Simms?’

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Bettinson – Pelly, CAN; RC Air Force/RAF, WWII, ETO

John Carberg – New London, CT; USMC

Robert Daughtery – Clinton, IN; US Army, WWII, PTO, 3rd Signal Battalion

Paul Fournier – Cleveland, OH; US Navy, WWII

John Graziano – Elkridge, MD; US Air Force, Captain, 87th Flying Training Squadron, KIA

Hank Kriha – Oshkosh, WI; US Army, WWII, PTO, 32nd Red Arrow Division

George McClary – Pueblo, CO; US Coast Guard, WWII, USS El Paso

James Ruff – Summitt, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, SSgt., 11th Airborne Division

Harold Sullivan – Morriston, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO / Korea, Purple Heart

John Yordan – Detroit, MI; US Army

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