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Ready – Set – Okinawa

B-32 on Okinawa, 12 Aug. 1945

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. 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.

C-47’s of the 54th Troop Carrier Wing

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 187ths organizational equipment to Okinawa by ship.

Jeeps on Okinawa

Jeep trailers on Okinawa

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. 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 Okinawa tombs that the Japanese troops had adapted into pillboxes and these helped to protect the men from the storms.

Swing was not certain how the enemy would take to him and the 187th regiment landing in Japan, 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. The 187th regiment of the 11th Airborne Division would be the first troops to enter Japan, as conquerors, in 2000 years.

Okinawa Cemetery, Never Forget

Also, on 13 August, two ships, the Pennsylvania and the La Grange were hit by kamikaze carrier planes. All ships in Okinawa harbors were shipped out to ensure their safety. Although the Emperor was at this point demanding peace, the complicated arrangement of their government (Emperor, Premier, Cabinet, Privy Seal, etc. etc.) made it difficult for them to answer the Allies immediately. As Soviet forces, hovering at the 1.5 million mark, launched across Manchuria.

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Military Humor-

“Now that ya mention it, it does sound like patter of rain on a tin roof.”


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Farewell Salutes – 

Raymond Ackerman – Brooklyn, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII  /  US Merchant Marines

Thomas H. Barber – Glencoe, IL; USMC, WWII

Roy Carney – Electra, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt. # 19114586, 345 BS/98 BG/ 9th Air Force, B-24 gunner, KIA (Ploiesti, ROM)

Eugene De Filippo – East Haven, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO,B-24 pilot  /  US Coast Guard, Korea, LT. Comdr.

Curtis L. Eaves – Oxford, AL; US Army, WWII, PTO, POW / Korea & Vietnam, Sgt. (Ret.)

Benjamin Houden (100) – Belvidere, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Independence, Hellcat pilot

Robert M. Mintz – Cuba City, WI; US Navy, Purple Heart  /  Howard Hughes Aircraft (jet radar design)

Nils Oldberg – Kansas City, MO; US Navy, WWII, SS Guavina – 362, submarine service

Lucy (Shaw) Richmond – Fort Smith, AR; Civilian, WWII, Liberty Ship welder

Fred T. Smith – Palestine, WV; USMC, WWII, PTO

Ithiel E. Whatley – Escambia County, FL; US Army, Korea, Pfc # 14270848, M Co./3/21/24th Infantry Reg., KIA (Chochi’won, SK)

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The Bomb and the 509th

Pres. Truman

In a 1958 interview, Truman was asked about the soul-searching decision he went through to decide on dropping the bomb. He replied, “Hell no, I made it like _ (snapped his fingers) _ that!” One year later at Columbia University, he said, “The atom bomb was no great decision.” He likened it to a larger gun.

The components for the 20-kiloton weapon were being shipped to Tinian Island, in the Marianas, aboard the USS Indianapolis.   The top-secret package arrived at its destination a mere 24 hours after the official operational order for the bomb was sent to General Carl (“Tooey”) Spaatz.

Prince Konoye

Prince Konoye, after laboring two years for a route to peace, swallowed poison and died the day before he was to turn himself in as a war criminal.

Sadly, four days later, the Indianapolis was hit by three torpedoes and sunk within twelve minutes. The ship was without a sufficient number of lifeboats, her disappearance went unnoticed for almost four days and the navy search team was called off early. Therefore, only 316 men of her 1,196-man crew were rescued. This has been considered the most controversial sea disaster in American history.

USS Indianapolis

The bomb, when it arrived, was a metal cylinder approximately 18 inches in diameter and two feet high, but when fully assembled, it measured ten feet long and 28 inches in diameter. It had originally been nicknamed “Thin Man” after the movie and the expected shape, but when it was completed, they changed it to “Little Boy” and gave the small bundle its own hiding place. The secrecy involving the bomb storage area was so secure that a general was required to have a pass to enter.

The other members of the 509th Bomber Group, not included in the mission, knew something was brewing, but they also were unaware of the exact plans. Hence, an anonymous writer was inspired:
Into the air the secret rose,
Where they’re going, nobody knows.
Tomorrow they’ll return again,
But we’ll never know where they’ve been.
Don’t ask about results or such,
Unless you want to get in Dutch.
But take it from one who is sure of the score,
The 509th is winning the war.

The crew of the ‘Enola Gay’ even received a humorous menu as they entered the mess hall for breakfast:
Look! Real eggs (How do you want them?)
Rolled oats (Why?)
Milk (No fishing)
Sausage (We think it’s pork)
Apple butter (Looks like axle grease)
Butter (Yep, it’s out again)
Coffee (Saniflush)
Bread (Someone get a toaster)

After takeoff, they met up with their two escort planes, ‘The Great Artiste,’ which carried scientific equipment and Number 91 (never named) carrying photographic gear.

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Military Humor – 

“Whoever is humming the ‘Jaws’ theme is gonna get slapped!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Edwin Askins – Calhoun, MO; US Army, WWII, ETO, 240th Medical Battalion

Norman Baylis – Rotorua, NZ; NZ Expeditionary Force # 455856, WWII

Final Mission

Bobby L. Dew – Norfolk, VA; US Army, 101st Airborne  /  Korea, 7th Division, Bronze Star, 2 Purple Hearts

Alfred Fergen – Parkston, SD; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Sea Bees, 109th Construction Battalion

Frank Gaughan (101) – Cleveland, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO

Robert Haney – Columbia City, IN; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

William G. James – Boynton Beach, FL; US Army, 508th RCT

Edward Kirwan Jr. – Newburgh, NY, USMC, WWII, PTO

Dennis C. Lansing – Richland, WA; US Army, Vietnam, Green Beret, Major (Ret. 22 y.)

George McLean – New Orleans, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, GSgt., 93 BG/8th Air Force

Brian Reichert – Andover, ND; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division, Sgt. (Ret.)

Bruce Sauder – Highspire, PA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

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I’m no quitter!

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Operation Downfall – part one

Plans for Japan – click to enlarge

The original idea for the invasion of Japan was approved in July 1944 and received constant, precise detailing up until the actual signing of the surrender. Operation Downfall was broken into two separate plans, Operation Olympic which would be followed by Operation Coronet.

With all the devastation already incurred on Japan, a forceful occupation would still be very costly. The Japanese Army controlled the government and their wish was a fight down to the last man, woman and child. Later on, members of that army stated that it would have been an all out suicide effort of every person in Japan to fight to the death.

Women pose for propaganda poster as “beachfront kamikazes”

Operation Olympic, which included 750,000 troops were to land on Southern Kyushi 1 November 1945. In the first wave, Army, Navy and Marine personnel – 436,486; the second wave to hold 356,902. (How they managed to be so specific is way over my head.) The air support would total 22,160. The D-Day Operation Overlord would have paled in comparison and this led the Joint Chiefs of Staff to agree that this rendered Russia’s involvement unnecessary.

MacArthur’s estimations of casualties and wounded that he sent to Washington were judged by the invasion of Luzon. Gen. “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell sent his report based on the Okinawa battles; these were much higher.

While Europe’s “Overlord” had beach codes such as: Omaha, Utah, Sword and Gold, “Olympic” had a variety of automobiles for the beaches that were then grouped by type. Gen. Krueger’s Sixth Army, that included the 11th Airborne Division, was scheduled to land at Miyazaki, the eastern prefecture of Kyushu, the third largest island of Japan. The forty-mile long shallow beach areas were coded as ‘Chevrolet’, ‘Chrysler’ and ‘Cord.’ (Highlighted sections on map above.) At the time, there were approximately 126,000 Japanese troops in that zone. Even after both atomic bombs were dropped, the Sixth Army was expected to have 15,000 casualties.

MacArthur had wanted to keep Gen. Eichelberger close to him and direct the operations since his record with the 11th A/B on Luzon was so efficient. As had been mentioned previously, the five-star general felt that Gen. Krueger had led a rather undistinguished campaign thus far.

Jeep stockpile

The itemized tons of materiel listed in the plans grew beyond comprehension. P-51 Mustang fighters were shipped to Guam still in their crates. Stocking grew on Tinian, Saipan, Samar, Luzon, Hawaii, the Marianas, the Carolines and the west coast of the U.S. (just to name a few). The logistics could only be explained by experts.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lawrence D, Adkisson – Wichita, KS; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Maude Bourassa – Durand, IL; Civilian, WWII, Chevrolet Tank Plant

John Collier (102) – Newberry, SC; USMC, WWII, PTO, Sgt, Major, POW / Korea (Chosin Few)

Richard Friday – Washington DC; US Army, WWII, ETO,Co. H/398/100th Division, Silver Star, Purple Heart

Robert Harrell – Morristown, TN; US Army, WWII, Signal Corps

Louis Iauco (101) – Syracuse, NY; US Army, WWII

John Karakiozis – Clarksburg, WV; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

John Caldwell McLean – Port Elgin, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, gunner, Halifax bomber “Willie the Wolf”, Swordfish Sq. 415

John Pluhacek – Omaha, NE; US Army, WWII

Eunice Salmon (102) – Clinton, MA; US Navy WAVE, WWII, nurse

Jane Winstone – Whanganui, NZ; British ATA, WWII, pilot, KIA (1944)

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Making a Jump on Aparri, Luzon

Jump on Aparri

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

Aparri jump

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

11th A/B Div. drops in Aparri, Luzon, P.I.

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

Bold headlines exploded in the Australian newspapers: U.S. Paratroopers Land In Northern Luzon – “After the 11th A/B Division made their air-borne landing near Aparri on June 23rd., using their gliders for the first time, carrying howitzers, jeeps and mobile equipment. Each trooper jumped with 100 pounds of gear strapped to his body.”
In the 26 June 1945 issue of The Army News – “On Saturday, from 600 feet into paddy fields, the 11th Airborne dropped near the port of Aparri in a surprise move against the Japanese forces in northern Luzon. They used their gliders for the first time in the southwest Pacific…”

Aparri, North Luzon

Gen. Joseph M. Swing

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

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Military Humor – 

CAPTION THIS? WHAT COLD THE ARMY POSSIBLY BEEN UP TO?

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Farewell Salutes –

Harold Allen – Waverly, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Ardeen Bauch – Quincy, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman 1st Class

Aleutians, 1943

Andrew Coy – Pure Air, MO; US Army, Vietnam, 5th Special Forces, Mike Force Unit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, (Ret. 25 y.)

Conrad ‘Billy’ Edwards Jr. – Bladenboro, NC; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division

Rodean Elmstrand – Hetland, SD; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

John W. Kohout – Ft. Myers, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Simplicio Magno – LaTorre, PI; USMC, Vietnam, Purple Heart

David McCullough – Pittsburgh, PA; Civilian, Pulitzer Award Historian

William Porteous – Plymouth, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co/511/11th Airborne Division

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Getting ready for the next mission – Aparri

Luzon

With his thoughts still focused on his R&R in Australia, Everett “Smitty” Smith landed back at Lipa City, P.I. only to discover that a mission was scheduled. The last remaining organized Japanese group, the Shabu Forces, were holed up in the northeast corner of Luzon and General Swing had organized the Gypsy Task Force to take them out. On his orders, this unique unit would include “all Camp MacKall veterans.” This would include men from the 187th Infantry, the 511th, the 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, a platoon from the 127th Engineers and two platoons from B Company. Despite Gen. Krueger’s disapproval, Lt. Col. Henry Burgess, now 26 years old, would be the commanding officer. (Smitty was at the ancient age of 30, one of the oldest paratroopers besides one other soldier and a few of the officers.) Col. Lahti (31) would be CO for the reserve unit.

LTC Henry Burgess

Col. John Lackey, CO of the 317th Troop Carrier Group/5th Air Force, with very little notice, began loading 54 C-47s and 13 C-46s at 0430 hours, 23 June 1945. His plane was the first to leave Lipa airstrip and the constant rumbling of the planes soon became “Vs” in the open skies. Within the transports, every man appeared as a clone to the next. Individuality was lost among the uniforms, bundled parachutes and rucksacks filled to capacity with ammunition, first-aid, water and C-rations.

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

C-47 Skytrain ‘Gooney Bird’

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

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Military Humor –

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Current News – U.S. Airborne Day, 16 August 1940 – Present

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Farewell Salutes – 

Nelson Bartlett – No. Smithfield, RI; US Navy, USS Tarawa

Peter G. Byrd Jr. (104) – Beaumont, TX; US Navy, WWII

For Freedom

Alexander Carlyle (100) – Grand Forks, CAN; RC Air Force, navigator

Frank Deppe – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO

Peter J. Girardi – Mount Vernon, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 385th Infantry

Hal Hatch – Portland, OR; Civilian, WWII, welder, Navy Shipyard

John Hutchinson – Wallaceburg, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Robert M. Kelliher (100) – Riverdale, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 pilot, 461st Bomb Group

Homer Lester – Pulaski, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co/2/187/11th Airborne Division

Whitney Newcomb Jr. – Jonesport, ME, US Navy, WWII

Beuford Webb – Ft. Worth, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

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This is here… Just because…

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Getting Leave on Australia!

Brisbane 1945

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

Townsville, Queensland

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

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

Joan

With his thoughts still focused on his R&R in Australia, Everett “Smitty” Smith landed back at Lipa City, P.I. only to discover that a mission was scheduled. The last remaining organized Japanese group, the Shabu Forces, were hold up in the northeast corner of Luzon and General Swing had organized the Gypsy Task Force to take them out. On his orders, this unique unit would include “all Camp MacKall veterans.” This would include men from the 187th Infantry, the 511th, the 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, a platoon from the 127th Engineers and two platoons from B Company. Despite Gen. Krueger’s disapproval, Lt. Col. Henry Burgess, now 26 years old, would be the commanding officer. (Smitty was at the ancient age of 30, one of the oldest paratroopers besides one other soldier and a few of the officers.) Col. Lahti (31) would be CO for the reserve unit.

We’ll have more on Aparri, Luzon next week.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Rex Allender – Cedar, IA; US Merchant Marines, WWII  /  US Army

Amador Barbosa (101) – Kansas City, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO

Farewell

Charlotte Bendure – Centralia, IL; US Navy WAVE, WWII, PTO

Ottaway B. Cornwell – Beaumont, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., pilot, 4 FS/52 FG/12th Air Force, KIA

David Curtis (104) – Salt Lake City, UT; US Navy, WWII, PTO & CBI, USS Black hawk

Joseph De Lorenzo – Pine Brook, NJ; US Army, WWII

Agnes Dion – Springfield, IL; US Navy WAVES, WWII, parachute rigger

Alfred Giumarra – Bakersfield, CA; US Navy, WWII, minesweeper, USS Mainstay

Eugene Gollin – Long Island City, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, Captain, communications

John W. Harman (100) – Rock Hall, MD; US Army, WWII, CBI, 866th Bomb Squadron

Thomas McNeill – Elmira, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 503/11th Airborne Division

Floyd D. Simmons (102) – Hontubby, OK; US Army, WWII, ETO, medic (He had been the oldest surviving Choctaw veteran).

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C.B.I. General Stilwell & the 11th Airborne Division on Luzon

Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell wasn’t around, so caricaturist Don Barclay, who wanted to meet the CBI Theater commander to sketch his familiar features, did the next best thing – captured them from a photograph. 

 

General Joseph W Stilwell along General Joseph W. Swing and Lieutenant General O. W. Griswold salute during the playing of the national anthem in Luzon, Philippines. General Stilwell shakes hands with several of the officers of the United States 11th Airborne Division. He pins a Silver Star on a sergeant and other officers. Recipients of awards march past. Location: Luzon Island Philippines. Date: June 9, 1945.

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Rene Antil – Fitchburg, MA; US Navy, WWII

James T. Bailey – Randolph, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 101st Airborne Division

Ronald Barkel – Coopersville, MI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Patricia Ann Carroll – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, WWII  /  beloved comedian/actress

Charles Civil – Ocala, FL & Jarreau, LA; US Army, WWII & Korea

Malcolm Counsil – Nampa, ID; US Navy, WWII, USS Thompson

Anthony ‘Tony’ Dow – Los Angeles, CA; National Guard  /  beloved actor

Melvin “Bob” Kroeger – Flandreau, SD; US Army, WWII, PTO

George McLean – New Orleans, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Sgt., 93 BG/8th Air Force

Ralph T. Potter – Galveston, TX; US Merchant Marines / US Army, WWII, ETO, Lt. Colonel (Ret.)

Eugene “Tex” Ritter – Unity, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, C-46 pilot, 1st Combat Cargo Sq./14th Air Force (over ‘The Hump’)

Michael Tarkane – Valparaiso, IN; US Army, WWII

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Pacific Theater items

Lipa Railway Station, May 1945

showing damage, looking south from Lipa Cathedral

The 11th Airborne continued their patrols, moping up details and training at Lipa. General Swing had another jump school built that created 1,000 newly qualified paratroopers. Plus, the entertainer, Joe E. Brown came to visit.

The new glider school concentrated on the “snatch pickup” method, whereby a CG-4A Glider on the ground with a towrope and a C-47 with a hook. As the plane goes overhead at an altitude of 15 feet, it snatches up the glider and brings it to 120 mph in a matter of a few seconds. (The noise from the plane, shock and whiplash must have been overwhelming.).  With May drawing to a close and the Japanese Army being pushed to the northeast corner of Luzon, the men of the division began to realize something was afoot.

Joe E. Brown passing out mail call on Luzon


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

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

Young Japanese girls wore headbands that designated them as Special Attack Force members. Daily they would recite the Imperial Precepts for Soldiers and Sailors before they began a twelve-hour shift in a makeshift factory in Kokura, Japan. Here they were producing 40 foot balloons to carry a bomb package across the ocean as they were released to drift on the Pacific jet stream.

Japanese balloon bomb

A total of approximately 9,300 of these weapons were made and about 342 reached land, some as far east as Ontario, Michigan and Nebraska. Some were shot down or caused minor injuries and one hit a powerline of the nuclear weapons plant at Hanford, Washington. But – 5 May 1945 – near Klamath Falls, Oregon, a pregnant woman, Elyse Mitchell and five students were killed on their way to a picnic. These were the only casualties of the war in the 48 states.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Wallace Bryans – Omaha, NE; US Army, Vietnam, Airborne Ranger, Master Aviator, (Ret. 24 y.), 2 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart

Charlie M. Chester – Clarksville, TN; US Army, Sgt., 101st Airborne Division

William Coughlin – Atlanta, GA; US Army, Lt. Colonel (Ret.), 82nd Airborne

Andrew G. Coy – Pure Air, MO; US Army, Vietnam, 5th Special Forces (Ret. 25 y.), Bronze Star, Purple Heart

James F. “Stocky” Edwards (100) – Nokomis, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, P-40 pilot, Lt. Col. (Ret.32 y.), Wing Comdr.

Ralph Grogan Sr. – Critz, VA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co B/9th Armored Battalion

Henry “Jimmie” James Sr. – London, ENG; RB Navy, WWII, gunner, HMS Sheffield

Bette Jensen (100) – Bedford, TX; US Women’s Army Air Corps WAC, WWII, aviation

Earl R. Lewis Jr. – Meadville, PA; US Army, Vietnam

Anne McGravie – Edinburgh, SCOT; British Women’s Navy WRENS, WWII

Thomas Rawlins – Bellbrook, OH; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

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Lipa, Luzon | May 1945

Lipa, after bombardment

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

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

VE-Day

7 May 1945, the war in Europe was over, the famous V-E Day, and the men of the 11th Airborne were very happy for their counterparts in the ETO, but they knew the Japanese would remain solid and faithful in their convictions. The fighting in the Pacific would continue, it was a matter of honor to the enemy.

My father, Smitty, had told me of the hatred the G.I.s felt for the enemy and granted, he wasn’t overjoyed at the prospect of getting shot at, but he said he had to have respect for their patriotism and tenacity. (Yamato damashii – Japanese spirit and Bushido – the way of the warrior.) Now, the troopers began to wonder if they would receive ample reinforcements. Rumors began to fly. (Actually, 6 May 1945, 8:41 p.m. Eastern War Time, in Reims, France after 5 years, 8 months and 6 days, the Third Reich ended.)

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

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

Legionary U.S. ship, Bunker Hill, thought to be unsinkable, unfortunately succumbed to Japanese kamikazes.

USS Bunker Hill, May 1945

Article on USS Bunker Hill attack.

CLICK ON PICTURES AND STORY TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – 

“EVEN IF SHE IS A BOOBY TRAP, CAN YOU THINK OF A BETTER WAY TO GO?”

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Farewell Salutes –

Helen Bailey – Dixonville, AL; Civilian, WWII, Hagler Field, radio operator

Darren Collins – Broken Arrow, OK; US Navy, Information Systems Technician 2nd Class, USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)

Robert Davis – Nelsonville, OH, US Navy, WWII, USS Gardiners Bay

Catherine Howarth – Middletown, NY; Civilian, WWII, Civil Air Patrol

Leo LaFauce – Springfield, IL; US Army, WWII

Over the horizon

Theodore Mertz (100) – Vallejo, CA; US Navy, WWII

Gwendolyn Ross – Westlock, CAN; Civilian, WWII, military Aircraft maintenance

William O. Wood – Tallahassee, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO, SSgt., 328 BS/93 BG/8th Air Force, B-24 gunner, KIA (Ploiesti, ROM), To be buried 8/1/2022

Christopher Young – Irving, TX; US Army, Desert Shield & Desert Storm, Medic,  528th Special Operations Battalion (Airborne)

Jerome Zeugschmidt – Bronx, NY; US Navy, WWII,

Robert Zimmerman – West New York, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO

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Mount Malepunyo

Mt. Malepunyo, Japanese defenses CLICK ON TO ENLARGE.

The next operation was Malepunyo. The exhausted men of the 187th were sent to Tiaong to relieve the 188th and allow them to join up the 511th regiment and the 8th Cavalry while they (the 187th) would remain to cut off any Japanese fleeing the high ground. The 187th laid ambushes for 10 miles and confirmed some 400 enemy killed or captured. During three simultaneous banzai attacks coming across the bridges, the 187th were told by a prisoner that they had nearly caught Gen. Fujishige.

Swing received orders to “go it alone, capture Mount Malepunyo and destroy all the Japanese thereon.” This was an area of thirty square miles of hills with a mangled rain forest and bamboo thickets. It had no roadways and was surrounded by wet slopes intermingled with sharp ridges. At one ridge, the troopers spotted fifty to sixty Japanese about 300 feet below them bathing in a stream as if they were oblivious to a war shattering the world around them. The men of the 11th A/B were certain that there was nothing luckier than to literally catch the enemy with his pants down!

But the Japanese were far from done. Holding higher ground, they slowed down the advance of American forces with snipers and machine gun fire. In one particular incident in what was called Hill 2610, men of the 511th were surprised to receive gunfire from carefully hidden apertures in the underground Japanese command post. The Japanese had to be flushed out using flamethrowers. The Americans were not without casualties. Wrote Flanagan:
“Before being mowed down, they (the Japanese) pulled one last trick which cost us casualties. Several of the Nips, as they ran out of the caves, threw large demolition charges into the air, where they burst, wounding and killing our men as well as themselves.”

Gen. Masatoshi Fujshige

After one fray, a patrol of the 187th found a Japanese diary attesting to the starving conditions the enemy were facing. The book read that they were without any communication to or from their headquarters. They were praying for help from Manila and hoped they would die bravely in their fight with the Americans. (Any papers found on the enemy were immediately handed over to a Nisei G.I. for translation).

General Fjishige gave an interview on 27 May 1946 at the Luzon POW Camp No. 1. He said, in reference to the plans for Macolod, that he took one month of planning and organizing the defense himself. He had their positions so well camouflaged that they could not be detected by land or air and were stocked with some of the best troops he had. The general stated that whoever attacked Macolod deserved the highest U.S. Army honors.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ross Avellone – Lake County, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Frank Blair – Sioux City, IA; US Navy, WWII, USS Blackhawk

Felix Bonacci (103) – brn: ITA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Interpreter

Guinevere Doyle Collier – Evansville, IN; US Army, 59th WAC unit

Melvin Frankel – Bethlehem, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS New Mexico

Branford Freeman – Artesia, MS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 506/101st Airborne Division, mortarman

Gerald Grimes – Canton, OH; US Army, WWII

Clyde Hope – Amigo, WV; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 1st Lt., B-24 bombardier

Phyllis Brown Jones (100) – Flint, MI; Civilian, WWII, “Rosie” for the Hudson Motor Company

William J. Kerby (101) – Twin Pines, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO, 2 Purple Hearts

Barclay McFadden – Memphis, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Larry Storch – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII, sub tender USS Proteus  /  beloved actor-comedian

Ronald Taylor – Sandy, UT; UA Army, HQ Co/ 187th RCT

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